Volume 8 - Issue 10
October 2010
Other Articles

 

LOVING LEGEND -- LIVING LEGACIES

October 20, 1940. It was on this day, seventy years ago, that Bhagavan Baba unveiled the mystery surrounding His birth, life and mission.  He declared to the people around, and through them to the entire mankind, that He indeed is the Supreme Consciousness embodied in a diminutive and delightful form. “I am no longer your Sathya, I am Sai…I have My work; My devotees are calling Me…” He announced candidly on that day.

Ever since, this eternal reservoir of energy and empathy, hope and happiness, solace and succor, light and love, has nursed and nurtured, and ensured that the tiny seed of goodness latent within every individual grows into a gigantic tree of love and serenity.  And like a perfect teacher, He has demonstrated this more by living that principle in every moment of His own life. The result is a luminescent legacy that will continue to illumine the dark alleys of humanity’s collective consciousness, elevating it to a state of absolute sublimity for generations to come.

“Loving Legend – Living Legacies” seeks to capture a few salient highlights of this glorious saga of Pure Love. This 30-episode radio documentary starts on October 20, 2010 on Radio Sai to continue daily till November 19, 2010.

Below is the textual adaptation of this audio series embellished with pictures, audio and video clips!

Let us immerse ourselves in the story of His glory and more important strive to make our little lives shine with the sacred glow of purity, nobility and genuine compassion.

Episode 13: The Shiva Shakti Revelation

 
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In the previous episode, we shared with you Baba’s declaration about the revival of dharma, or dharmasthapana, where He stressed that this was not a new activity for Him. It has been repeated throughout the ages by the Avatars of the time.

In this issue, He binds us to the distant mythological past by re-enacting an ancient story in real time.

Swami ‘Suffers’ a Paralytic Stroke

 

Narrating a landmark incident, late Prof. N. Kasturi, Baba’s biographer, writes:

“It began on Friday evening, 28 June 1963. Baba asked me to announce that He would not grant interviews for a week. Why? There was nothing in the immediate calendar that was out of the ordinary. The question was on all our minds.”

The answer to Professor Kasturi’s doubt came - dreadful and grievous - early the next morning. While moving into His room on the first floor from the southern veranda, Baba spoke of a ‘reeling sensation’ and fell on the floor.

Kasturi wrote: “I was with Him then, and though I was holding Him by the hand, I could soften, only slightly, the impact of the fall.”

Even as Baba fell, the left hand clenched its fist, the left leg stiffened, and the toes became taut. Evidently, He had taken upon Himself in His Infinite Mercy the stroke of paralysis destined to incapacitate or perhaps kill some devout person. Having seen Baba while taking on the typhoid fever, the gastric pain, the bleeding ear, the mumps, and even the stroke, Mr. Raja Reddy, a close servitor, and Kasturi waited for His coming-to, when they could get from Him the name of the person and of the place to confirm what they suspected. But, the face twitched and muscles drew the lips to the left...the tongue lolled. The left eye appeared to have lost its sight.

The clock ticked the minutes away. As the hour hand moved relentlessly, but ever so slowly onward, their anxiety grew into fear. Gloom filled the room and spread gradually all round Prasanthi Nilayam. Dr. B. G. Krishnamurthi said that Baba was 'in coma' and showed symptoms of 'apoplexy'. The jaws were locked tight while the pulse rate ranged from 84 to 100. This doctor who treated patients in the Sathya Sai Hospital routinely placed more reliance on the curative value of the Vibhuthi blessed by Baba than on drugs. Now that he found Baba Himself stricken, he could only pray to Baba to cure Himself.

 

Meanwhile, someone who feared that the illness was genuine hastened by car to Bangalore and brought with him, late at night, Dr. Prasannasimha Rao, the Assistant Director of Medical Services, Mysore.

Here are the doctor’s own words: "It was on the afternoon of June 29 that I was summoned urgently to the feet of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. I sped on, in the company of my brother-in-law Mr. Kesav Vittal, to witness a spectacle of extreme pain and suffering at Puttaparthi. We reached the precincts of the holy place after midnight. Anxious as I was to learn the details of the incident that caused the summons, it was His Will that I should contain myself till the early hours of the next day.

“So, the next morning, when I was taken into the room on the first floor of the Nilayam, I saw there lying prostrate the body of Sri Sathya Sai Baba in a posture assumed by a patient in coma. Respiration was hissing at times; the left side of the body, the upper and lower limbs were rigidly held in a position of extensor tone. There was gross twitching of the face, occasionally on the right side. The head would be suddenly tossed to one side or the other, with a groan of anguish and the utterance of incoherent syllables, which was the result of an impairment of the faculty of speech.

“After an analysis of the signs and symptoms and the history of the case, I had to infer that the semi-comatose conditions and the posture assumed could only be due to a space-occupying condition in the cranium with localising signs of predominance over the right half of the brain in the frontal area. The differential diagnosis of such conditions in a person of about 30 years, after excluding remote possibilities, pinned me down to that of 'tubercular meningitis' with perhaps a tuberculoma, silent for a long time.

 

“The treatment was one of energetic antitubercular measures, with symptomatic supportive treatment by intravenous, substitution and replacement to maintain ionic balance and nutrition. A diagnostic lumbar puncture was an immediate necessity for the professional assessment of the case. My attempts to administer glucose solution intravenously was, by a gesture and movement of the body, foiled completely by Baba, leaving me utterly bewildered and helpless, in the face of His Will. Having completely resigned to His Will, I returned to Bangalore on Sunday evening bereft of all hopes of having again His darshan in the physical form assumed by Him for this Incarnation."

His Health Takes a Turn for the Worse

Baba was 'unconscious' all the time; He evinced only faint gleams of awareness such as pushing away the doctor's hand when injection was attempted. The body perspired a great deal but He could be given only a few spoonfuls of water, the spoon being inserted after pressing the jaws apart. He was apparently severely exhausted. Moreover, He suffered from what Dr. Krishnamurthi named as 'angina pectoris', paroxysms of intense pain, originating at the breast bone and radiating to the left shoulder and arm. The physical frame groaned. Residents of Prashanti standing tiptoe under the window heard and wept. To relieve the exhaustion, they could give only occasional drops of glucose water, or lemon juice, parting the tightly clenched teeth.

On Monday, 31 July 1963, Baba intensified the atmosphere of tragedy. Summoning near His bed those who were present, He gestured and lisped to make them understand that the tasks allotted to them should be carried out with undiminished ardour. It was a heart-rending experience to catch those hazy sounds and interpret them, for the words emerged from a mouth gone awry and tongue turned left. He warned them not to frighten the other devotees with their fear. "Deal gently with them. Talk sweetly to them," He seemed to say. "Give them Vibhuthi, ask them to leave for home and come some other time."

 

He declined medicine and nursing, brushing aside angrily the spoon that had a few drops of Coramine. He insisted on going to the bathroom himself though He had to be lifted or drawn over two door sills. The pulse registered danger after each such hazardous journey. Those present could only wring their hands and pray.

The fact that it was a stroke of paralysis could not be announced and so a variety of rumours circulated in and around the Nilayam to explain the ominous gloom. The wildest of these was that Baba was under the maleficent influence of black magic. Others decided He had gone into Samadhi; still others guessed He had taken a vow of silence and inaction. Perhaps the villagers of Puttaparthi were more competent interpreters, for they had known of His 'unconscious' days at Uravakonda when He had 'gone out' of His body to save a devotee from calamity. They said, Baba was about to enter a new chapter in His History as He had done after the incident at Uravakonda while in His teens.

Tuesday arrived. Baba showed signs of consciousness, more often and for longer periods. Referring to the visit of the doctor, Bhagavan said: "He can only take darshan and leave. Injections are inadvisable in such cases. This will last five days in all. Tomorrow, the pain will be less. I had two heart attacks these three days. You must have heard the groans. No one else could have survived." He gestured and smiled.

Dr. B. Sitharamayya, who was the Medical Officer in charge of the Prasanthi Nilayam Hospital, was summoned by a telegram. He came on Tuesday evening to the bedside. That night was filled with fear. Each of Baba’s groans caused excruciating agony to those who heard them.

Wednesday dawned, dark and dismal. About 9.00 a.m., Baba, who was extremely exhausted, showed signs of sinking. He struggled for breath; hiccups tormented Him. The ‘parents' could not contain their sorrow, the 'brothers' and 'sisters' were wallowing in grief. Despite the fact their faith was rooted in Baba’s Divinity, they tottered and wept aloud like panic-stricken babies. They could not decide whether, at this awful hour, they could stoop to the sacrilege of bringing to Prashanti Nilayam a doctor from Anantapur or Bangalore. Was it right? Was it pardonable? Was it urgently needed? Could any doctor be of use?

 

Kasturi writes: “What a tremendous responsibility this... on our aged shoulders. We gathered under the mango trees and with tears streaming down our cheeks, weighed the pros and cons.”

Just then, glad tidings arrived. Baba had regained consciousness, the hiccups had lost their rigour. But gladness was gone when, two hours later, His breathing worsened; He gasped and rolled. His feet and palms became cold. They prayed to Him amidst sobs but got no encouraging signs. The doctors sat on the floor and leaned against the wall, resting on their hands their heavy heads. For four full hours, Baba swamped those around in mortal anguish.

And then, He opened His eyes... looked around, and smiled!

About an hour later, He told them in a weak tone, supplemented by gestures with the palsied right hand, the events of those four hours.

Kasturi and others understood Him to say: "The mind is a thousand petalled lotus, each petal directing it outward into some facet of the objective world. In the very centre of the lotus is the flame of the ‘I’ principle. The flame is ever unsteady, veering now towards one petal, now to another, but if through the exercise of will you keep it steady and straight, the I is unaffected by the events that happen to the body. During those four hours, I held the flame straight. I was away, apart. I was watching the body from above, Myself unconcerned, unaffected."

About 7.00 p.m., Baba gestured: "All of you should sleep around here, this night". His words foretold a crisis. "Will there be a heart attack, this night?" Someone dared to enquire. Baba replied: “Yes.”

Kasturi has recorded: “That night was the longest, the darkest and the most dreadful in the lives of us 15 mortals. The heart attack happened; we listened to the groans. We prayed to Baba to assuage the pain and assure us of the victory we sought.”

Miracle on Gurupoornima Day

 

At last, came the day of relief, Thursday. Baba had said on the sixth day the pain 'will lose its severity' and the attacks on the heart 'will cease'. The Sun rose over the hills across the Chithravathi. Baba announced that the pain as well as the burning sensation in the chest had gone. The very first order He gave after this declaration was: "Arrange now for all the devotees to get darshan: they are broken by despair."

Those around Him pleaded that the darshan be granted two days later, on Guru Poornima Day, when annually thousands gather at the Nilayam to pay homage to their Guru, Master and Teacher. In suggesting so, they hoped He would by then recoup Himself enough to bear the strain that granting darshan involves.

Baba asked Kasturi to announce at the Prayer Hall that darshan would be granted to all on Guru Poornima. He insisted that the assembled devotees be given an accurate description of His physical condition to save them from the sudden shock at His sorry state.

Kasturi confessed: “I announced the condition of His leg, hand, eye, tongue, and face in Telugu but I broke down when I saw the agony on the faces that learnt for the first time the awful truth. I had to repeat the announcement in English, Kannada, Tamil and Malayalam, but I could only speak in sobs.”

That night, Baba conveyed another bit of good news: "The clot in the brain has dissolved."

Throughout Friday and the morning hours of Saturday, He was persuaded to give up the plan of giving darshan in the prayer hall on the ground floor. Someone appealed to Him to allow them to announce to the gathering that He would render Himself hale and hearty before Dussera, three months later; another ventured to pray that He should cure Himself fully by Krishna Janmashtami, which was 40 days thence. Baba seemed to resent the proposals and expressed his disapproval.

The prayer hall was packed as never before. People from many villages around Puttaparthi had come to know that Baba was to give darshan for the first time since the onset of his illness. They came in large numbers. The broad spaces around the Nilayam were filled. Baba was carefully brought down the 18 circular steps to the ground floor.

 

Major Dr. M. Bhanu of the Government Hospital, Palladam, writes: "I saw Baba moving down with the help of three devotees; His left leg was lifted over the doorstep by one of them. He had a kerchief around His head and face to bind the halo of hair that had gone awry and hide the twitching of the facial muscles from the eyes of devotees. His gait was the characteristic hemiplegic one, the paralytic left leg being dragged in a semicircle, the toes scraping the floor. Seeing Baba in that condition, even the bravest wept aloud."

Many inferred that it was the end. "Why did you bring Him down?" they cried in anger.

Baba was placed in the silver chair on the floor, propped up by pillows. Another cushion was placed over His chest and the limp left hand was lifted by Raja Reddy and placed on it. Seeing this, a gasp arose from every breast. Baba signalled to Kasturi. The professor knelt at His side to catch what He was trying to say. Kasturi rose and announced to the grief-stricken gathering of about 5,000 people:

“Baba says, 'Do not grieve! This is not My ailment. This is a condition I have taken over. I can never fall ill; No, never. Do not feel dispirited. If you lose heart, it will pain Me.'

Then, He gestured to Kasturi to talk to them at some length. After a while, He gesticulated that He would speak next. Many felt that Baba had already exerted himself too much. With His impaired resources, they feared the consequences of further strain.

Kasturi called upon everyone to pray to Baba to cure Himself at least by the next New Moon...for "the Full Moon of today is blocked out for us by this unbearable sorrow. Let the next New Moon become a Full Moon for us all and for the world.”

 

Baba signed that the mike be held near His lips. Slowly, He whispered into it, in swollen half-suppressed syllables: "Vinupisthundaa…?" But, nobody could make out what He was trying to say. He repeated it twice. Then, some one caught the meaning and repeated it on the mike. Baba was asking them, "Can you hear Me?" This raised another groan. He was heard but, alas! It tore their hearts. It was too indistinct.

Evidently Baba was too tired by that attempt to speak and He gestured for water to drink. It was brought by Krishnappa, in a silver tumbler, and held to His lips by Raja Reddy. His palsied right hand came towards it. When He tried to hold it, His fingers slipped into it. Dipping His fingers, He managed to sip a few drops. He sprinkled with the fingers of the right hand a little water on the limp left hand on the pillow above His chest. He sprinkled some water on the left leg too. He stroked the left hand with the right. And with both hands, stroked the left leg! To the amazement of all, He rose; the pillow fell off and all could hear His divine voice calling out to everybody present, "Premaswaroopulaaraa!" He had begun His Guru Poornima Discourse!

Kasturi was moved to put the memory in poetry: “O, oh! Our Baba hale, hearty, holy, healthy, heavenly...”

People could not believe their eyes and ears. But when they realised that Baba was standing before them, speaking, they jumped about in joy, danced, shouted Jais and wept; some were so overcome with ecstatic gratitude that they laughed hysterically and ran wild amongst the crowds rushing in.

Oh! It was the miracle of miracles. It shot all in an instant from the deepest pit of gloom into the seventh heaven of delight.

Major Bhanu writes: "The Doctor of Doctors cured Himself in a trice, leaving me aghast with wonder."

 

"Premaswaroopulaaraa (Embodiments of Love)! Dikku lenivaanikki devude gathi (For him who has no refuge, God is the refuge). That is the reason I had to take on this disease that one forlorn bhaktha was to suffer from. He would not have survived it, nor could he come through the four heart attacks I took on.

"My Dharma is Bhaktharakshana. I had to rescue him. Of course, this is not the first time I have taken on the illness of those I want to save. Even in the previous body at Shirdi, I had this responsibility. This is My Leela, My nature. It is part of the task for which I have come, Sishtarakshana (protection of the virtuous)."

He spoke for over an hour with the same eloquence, compassion, humour, and love that He evinces always.

The Divine Disclosure

Then, raising the voice a little, He said: "I have been keeping back from you all these years one secret about Me; the time has come when I can reveal it to you for this is a sacred day. I am Siva-Sakthi," He declared, "Born in the Gothra of Bharadwaja, according to a boon won by that sage from Siva and Shakthi. Siva Himself was born in the Gothra of that sage as Sai Baba of Shirdi; Siva and Shakthi have incarnated as Myself in his Gothra now; Shakthi alone will incarnate as the third Sai in the same Gothra in Mysore State.

“This illness has to be borne by Shakthi (the consort of Siva), for She incurred the ire of Her Lord by neglecting to notice Bharadwaja for full eight days at Kailash, their Home. As a consequence of the neglect, Bharadwaja had suffered a stroke; Siva sprinkled restorative water and cured him. Today, you saw the illness of Shakthi (the left half) cured by Siva (the right half) by the same means. These matters are beyond human ken; so, I had kept it from you so long, but now that within the knowledge of so many, Shakthi suffered and Siva saved, it is time you knew this. The Bhaktha who was saved by My 'taking over' is only the 'immediate' cause, the 'remote' cause is the boon and the retribution."

 

After this disclosure, Baba sang a few songs which He wanted the congregation to repeat in chorus. He then started off in double quick tempo the lines: "Hara hara siva siva subrahmanyam, Siva siva hara hara subrahmanyam, Siva saravanabhava Subrahmanyam, Guru saravanabhava Subrahmanyam."

Hearing Baba sing thus, Dr. Bhanu rushed in to stop Him. In Dr. Bhanu’s own words: "I forgot I was a volunteer posted outside to keep the crowd in check; I rushed inside to fall at His feet and pray to Him not to continue that song. I was afraid if His tongue performs the acrobatics, so soon after it had regained its normalcy, it might fail and suffer a relapse. But at the very door, I held myself. I remembered the miracle I had seen with my own eyes. I recalled the sweet voice that was won back in a trice and kept mum. Who was I to check God? I controlled myself and stayed outside."

Baba ascended the steps to the first floor with His usual agility. He partook of normal food that night. No one slept: the miracle they witnessed kept them awake in ecstasy. Next evening too He gave a discourse. He pitied those who revel in bad news and are eager to circulate it. He declared: "From this day, nothing and no one can stop or obstruct or delay the work for which this Avatar has come. During a previous Advent, only one mountain, the Govardhan, was lifted; this Avatar will lift many ranges. This Ganga will roll majestically on, feeding the roots of all creeds and races."

(To be continued)

- Heart2Heart Team

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