The thousands who had gathered in the Sai Kulwant Hall, especially from the city of Chennai and the state of Tamil Nadu, on the morning of 14 April this year to celebrate Tamil New Year Day in the Divine Presence, went into raptures when in the course of His discourse, Bhagavan said, “I have great love for Chennai… May you all enjoy good health by eating good food and drinking pure water…My love for Chennai cannot be described in words.”
Truly, the relationship between Sathya Sai and Chennai is something extraordinary. Not many would know that when Bhagavan visited Madras (the name by which Chennai was known until a few years ago) for the first time, He was just sixteen! That was in 1942. And from then on, how innumerable have been His visits to this city till 1997.
And every visit has been historic: He instantaneously cured a person’s asthma and restored eyesight to an ailing mother in His very first visit, and during one of His subsequent visits in February 1949, when He consecrated the Guindy Shirdi Sai Mandir, the idol of Shirdi Sai levitated in the air for a few seconds before returning to its original position, leaving every onlooker dazed in disbelief! In July 1949, He suddenly landed at the door of Mr Hanumantha Rao, His host in Chennai; at 4.30 in the morning, having driven all the way by Himself from Puttaparthi, and what is more, He had filled the petrol tank with water!
The ‘madras marvels’ list can go on. But here are just one or two more. It was in January 1950, while in Madras, Swami suddenly went into a trance at 9 pm and almost fell down; but when He ‘returned’ He said, “Maharishi has reached My Lotus Feet.” The next day’s morning newspapers reported that Sri Ramana Maharishi had left his mortal coil exactly at the same time. And we all know how in 1971, after Walter Cowan passed away in the Connemara Hotel in the city of Madras, Swami went in the early hours of morning to the hospital and resurrected the life of Mr. Walter Cowan, whom the doctors had pronounced ‘dead on arrival.’
The Sai Avatar’s association with Chennai has been long, amazing, vital and at the same time, very intimate. In fact, Swami inaugurated the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation at a grand function in April 1967 at Abotsbury, Madras. From then on, it has been a crucial cog in the Divine Mission.
Six years ago, during the first Anniversary celebrations of the Super Specialty Hospital in Whitefield, Swami announced, out of the blue, “Today I have made a new resolve. Madras is suffering from acute shortage of drinking water. The rich can buy water sold by the tanker services but what about the poor? They have to depend on rain water that has collected in puddles and ditches, thus spoiling their health. I have therefore decided to work towards bringing drinking water to Madras, no matter how difficult and costly the task is. This wish of Mine will fructify without fail. Success always springs from deep conviction.” This was a revelation of His concern for the underprivileged and the deprived of this city. No one from Chennai or Tamil Nadu had even asked Him to alleviate the all pervasive and perennial problem of the water scarcity of the city. It was just His spontaneous Love for the devoted people of this historic city.
Again, on the concluding day of the Athi Rudra Maha Yagna in Prasanthi Nilayam on 20 September, 2006 who would have expected Swami to announce that the next Yagnam will be held in January of the following year in Chennai? Returning to this year’s Tamil New Year day, the concourse of eager devotees who had assembled from this city burst into a thundering applause when Swami again surprised them with a bolt from the blue when He said,
“The water of the River Krishna reached up to the border of Tamil Nadu very smoothly without any wastage. But there was wastage of water after it entered the Tamil Nadu border as the part of the canal on the Tamil Nadu side was not repaired. It was envisaged that this work would be done by the Tamil Nadu Government, but it has not been done so far… Therefore, I have decided to undertake this task. The length of the canal to be repaired towards Chennai is about 25 km. The cost of repairing it is estimated at 30 to 40 crore rupees. There is no need for you to depend upon anybody else. It is enough if you pray to God. God can perform any task. Very soon, I will complete this work… after the work is done, adequate water will reach Sathyamurthy Sagar. Thus, Sathyamurthy Sagar will be filled with Sathya Sai water. You will then have a permanent supply of water.”
Such has been Swami’s special love for the people of this city. And therefore, when Swami visited Chennai in the beginning of this year, the city virtually came to a halt. The visit was phenomenal, and like every act of Swami, had multiple dimensions. Apart from forging unity between politicians of various hues and from different states of India to work towards the single goal of serving the common mass with the basic necessities of life through the Chennai Citizens Conclave [which we had as the cover story in March 2007 issue], and also presiding over the grand performance of the Athi Rudra Maha Yagna, there were many other seemingly small but stirring facets of this Divine Visit which are as precious for posterity as it is for the current devotees. And this is the precise reason why we are having the cover story on the historic Chennai Visit again - in a matter of six months. We would have loved to offer this to you much earlier, but it was possible only now. Perhaps, He has designed it this way.
When you read the cover story, you will receive an enlightening and interesting ‘insider’s view’ of Swami’s two-week stay in Sundaram; enlivening instances of His interactions with the students and other members of His troupe; His graceful visits to many devotee-homes; His shower of benedictions on the eminent personalities who longed for a few private moments with Him; the story of His spellbinding Sundaram Darshans; and His spontaneous outpourings of Love for the people clamouring for a glance on the roads in front of Sundaram and also on the streets of Chennai – all interlaced with inspiring interludes, and of course, supplemented with magnificent and moving images.
But, dear reader, we must confess that in spite of this being the third article on the Chennai Visit (the first and second were in March ‘07 and April ‘07 respectively), what we have been able to offer you is only a glimpse, which too is grossly incomplete. For, how many facets of His mystifying glory can we really document? When Pure Love touches your being, what happens is only magic. A cab driver who had come for Swami’s darshan found his wife’s cancer disappear when He gave her the Yagna Vibhuti; an auto rickshaw driver who ferried people freely to the Yagna site as an act of service found that he earned more than ever before, as every passenger voluntarily paid him extra for him to keep; an IPS officer who was a staunch atheist was literally dumbstruck when He was asked to speak in front of Swami…there is no end to the Power of Divine Love.
And like in every issue of H2H, in this issue too, you have mind-boggling instances of this incredible Love in action from all the over the world. Your heart will turn so soft when you read how inspired doctors from New Zealand, Australia and even from the USA traveled to Fiji for a week long medical camp for the isolated and neglected people of this small island-nation. In the Healing Touch section you have the story of Swapan, a factory worker, who, but for Swami’s Hospital and its pioneering research, would have been forever bereft of light and life. And then there is the story of baby Benjamin, in the Swami and Me section, into whose being the Lord breathed new life, thanks to His all-encompassing Love. There is much more in this issue, dear reader, and it is better we leave that for you to explore, but a last parting thought:
When you see the Photo Gallery entitled “O Sweetest! Beloved Mother Sai” and delight in the pictures of cute babies in the Lord’s bosom, just ruminate on what makes the Lord so ecstatic when in the company of infants and small children. If only we cultivate that purity, nurture it and sustain it every moment of our lives, we will experience the proximity of the Divine Mother in every passing moment of our lives.
Let’s fill our being with His thoughts, His memories and His messages, till our life, ultimately, becomes a saga of only His love.