Excerpts from the speech by Prof.
(Mrs.) Jayalakshmi Gopinath, Warden, Anantapur Campus, Sri
Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, delivered in the
Divine Presence on 12th March 2006, in Sai Kulwant Hall.
My hearfelt Pranams at the Lotus Feet of
the Great One… the Perfect One… the Loving One…the
all-endearing Bhagawan Baba.
It is for me to tell all those who gathered
here at the Lotus Feet of Bhagawan, young and old, fellow
travellers to the haven of peace and love – that He
is the crest jewel of the Ratnakaram family. Not that God
needs any introduction through any family or through any people,
but He Willed…and His Will definitely will be translated
into action which brings about tremendous messages to the
whole of humanity. I have been blessed to know dear Baba’s
grandfather, the doyen of the Ratnakaram family. Puttaparthi,
then, was a small hamlet and that it has grown to such proportions
with people teeming around the canteen, which caters to everyone
throughout the day and night, a super speciality hospital,
the kind of which you will not find anywhere and all the three
educational institutions, two for the boys and one so lovingly
constructed for the girls because we also, the women community
need His Love and Blessings. One would never understand were
I to say, were I to describe, how Puttaparthi was. But there
is one thing which I can never forget, the wonderful sanctity,
serenity, the simplicity of Puttaparthi which was then in
the middle 40’s or late 40’s.
Many a time the great doyen, the grandfather
of Bhagawan Baba would come to see his Divine grandson. What
a sight for the Gods to see! Blessed I am indeed, that I have
seen it! He was a perfect village chieftain – tall,
gaunt, upright, dignified; definitely befitting to be the
grandfather of Divinity…and he knew his grandson was
God Himself. I have seen the interaction between the grandfather
and the little grandson. Those early years, Swami used to
be beautiful; not that He is not beautiful now…but as
so young in his early 20’s, Baba was so very beautiful.
He would walk about so sprightly, so vivaciously, at the same
time, one could never take advantage of Him. He was God; we
have to have our own limits. He would teach us and train us
how to behave, both in the secular way and in the religious
way, because we have not given up our homes and gone to the
forest…we are still in the world…and we have to
behave properly even in the world. Baba teaches us even that.
So the great grandfather, he would come, he would not take
any support. He would just have a stick in his hand, straight,
upright. When I saw him he was about 110 years old. And, as
soon as he came people around there would put a chair for
him. Those who had seen the Old Mandir then, it had an enclosed
veranda in the front from where we enter and from there we
go into the little sanctum. A chair would be brought and put
for him and word would go for his little Divine grandson.
But, of course, Swami knew that he had come. Swami would come
so lovingly as if He was waiting for His grandfather. Remember,
detachment, at the same time loving. That is the lesson all
of us have to learn, imbibe and practise. But, at all times,
how can we combine detachment with love. Here is the supreme
example, our beloved Bhagawan would come to the grandfather
as if it mattered so much to Him. I have seen the interaction
between the grandfather and the grandson. He would be so endearing
to his little grandson, talk to Him. Baba would sit beside
him drawing a chair. And we would just watch what brightness
would be on the grandfather’s face. He was all happiness,
all bliss. Baba would be very, very endearing to him. After
some time, he would get up without support. He had the sparks
of Divinity in him because Bhagawan had Willed it that to
him should be born the grandson, who is going to be The Teacher,
The Great Teacher, The Divine Teacher, The Loving Teacher,
The Profound Teacher of the whole world. He knew his grandson
was that. That is why his heart flowed out to him, but at
the same time as we would watch he would never take advantage
of Bhagawan. And the interaction is still, as if I have seen
it yesterday. I always tell myself how blessed…how blessed
I am! Indeed so blessed am I that I have seen the great doyen
of the Ratnakaram family. Then he would go back straight,
very confident, with the feeling that I have met my Divine
grandson, the great satisfaction would be there upon his face.
In these modern days of civilisation, of
sophistication, of going to the United States to learn much
more…to learn about what?...do we learn about Divinity?
Do we learn how we should conduct ourselves so that we live
in peace in the world? Are we taught there that to touch the
dust of Divinity’s feet is heaven itself? We go searching
into a blind alley. There is absolutely nothing beyond it
and we come back frustrated. Then we begin to think when it
is too late. It is only when you start at a young age, that
by the time you come to my age you would have reached the
absolute proximity of the Divine Lotus Feet. May you be blessed
by Bhagawan with His wonderful experience because I am relating
it all of the great family, the befitting family, it was all
Willed by Him that He should be born in this great family.
I have seen the benevolent father, Venkama
Raju Garu. What a wonderful person! The father was also tall
and thin, he was also a prominent person in the village. How
simple! how genuine! how loving! not a bit of ostentation
in any of them, and yet, Venkama Raju Garu was the father
of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. It was a very small hamlet
as I said and in those days there were no shops to cater to
the devotees who would come and they had to cook their own
food. Now it is a miracle to see the canteens, it is growing
day by day. Venkama Raju Garu was so kind to the devotees,
he knew the difficulties. So, he would get a large quantity
of provisions from Bukkapatnam. He had a small little stall
nearby. Let us learn from him. Any devotee who comes to him,
he would lovingly ask, “Eem Kavali Meeku” (What
do you want)? He would speak with such gentleness and respect.
Even to me he would say, “Ammaya, Eem Kavalamma?”
(Mother, what do you want?) Who was I? I was nobody. He was
the father of Divinity, but so simple. We would touch his
feet. My father was very fond of him. It was mutual. We were
amazed at his simplicity. We from the town with all sophistication
just cannot fathom. It comes right from the heart. It does
not come from the mind at all.
One day my father asked him, Venkama Raju
Garu,“Me Koduke Devudu Aaypoyadu Kada, Mari Meeku Elaganipisthundi”
(Your son has become God, is it not? How do you feel about
it?). The same serene face, this was his answer, “Vitthal
Rao Garu, Vadu Devudu Aayipoyadandi, Nake Kadu Andariki Devudu”
(Yes, He has become God. He is God not only for me, but for
everyone). What a beautiful answer! How he had reconciled
to the situation that his beloved son was not only for him,
but He was for the whole world and for the whole humanity.
It could break any father’s heart to think that the
son is receding from him and going out to the whole of humanity.
The great Venkama Raju Garu had understood the value of his
Son, had understood the secret of the Divinity of his Son.
Now Prasanthi Nilayam has grown to such proportion.
This could be a very small replica of heaven. Once again,
let me reiterate the simplicity of Venkama Raju Garu, the
dignity, I have not seen in any modern individual. I speak
the truth. I knew the Divine Mother Easwaramma so well. It
was mutual love between us. I loved her because, on her face
there was such brilliance that you could not find anywhere
in the whole world, on any sophisticated face. Whatever one
would put on the face, it could not match the glow on her
face. I have seen it myself. She was as simple as a child.
In the row of houses of East Prasanthi, my father has got
a little house. Can you think of her simplicity! Divinity
was her son. How simple she was! She came to our house and
of course, all of us would touch her feet. I am so glad that
I had that opportunity. She came to my father and said, “Vitthal
Rao, Swami, “Pedda Pedda Bhashanalu Istharu Kada. Vadu
Chaduvukoledu Kada. Sarigane Cheputada?” (Swami gives
many discourses, does He speak properly? I am asking because
He has not studied books). What would we say to that innocent
mother! She was so concerned about her son. She knew He was
Divine, but such concern! Of course, we hardly could understand
and fathom the meaning of the wonderful things that Swami
used to tell us even in those days.
One incident comes to my mind. Way back in
1951; till then Baba had not given discourses in public. That
day He called the men devotees and said, “Put a table
for Me; I am going to speak”. We were all enthralled.
When He had told us, time and again, wearing His self out.
I don’t want to be sentimental over it. But it breaks
my heart. We have seen Baba walking so fast, all over. Now
He is suffering for the sake of humanity. What can we do?
We cannot do anything. Just lay our tarnished hearts at the
Lotus Feet and pray, “Swami, don’t suffer for
our sakes. We are not worth it.” That is what I feel
all the time. That day Swami asked the table to be brought.
The microphone was put on the table. Baba was young then.
Let us remember what He said, at that young age. The wisdom
and the love that overflowed, they were joined together. Baba
has nothing but love and love and love within Him. I can assert
and if it has to be announced on the house tops, I am prepared
to do it. Or, if I have to take a megaphone and asked to go
to all the countries and tell that there is a wonderful little
God with us…Our great God, who is the very incarnation…
Oh come, come, come and see Him and experience Him, I can
definitely do it because I have the conviction. I have known
Him as a young girl. Baba is a wonderful mixture of grace
and stability. He is both feminine and masculine. These are
the attributes of God.
He came down; of course, none of us had the
doubt that Baba could not speak well. We were all waiting
anxiously, breathlessly. All fellow devotees, youngsters and
elders, if I tell you what He said that day; it will make
your hair stand on end. He just thumped at the table hard
and then said: “Remember, I am God.” Take it in.
So many of us cannot take it in because we do not know God,
we do not love God and if God were to come and tell “I
am God”, we would be blind to the reality. That was
the first announcement (declaration). The second announcement,
He thumped, “I am the Upanishads”; the third announcement,
“I am the Vedas”; the fourth announcement, “I
am the scriptures”. “I have come down for the
sake of humanity.” And then He says, “Remember,
why are you vacillating? I have nothing that is personal in
what I tell. It is for your benefit. Cast off all your doubts,
all your vacillations. Come here and try to take in arms full.
The wonderful teachings, the wonderful things that you see
is not just confined to only as we may think to religious
rituals, but a combination of what humanity in toto is –
the heart, the head, the intellect, everything.”
He said, “Let us remember this, it
is the same people who come to Me, adoring Me and offering
Me gifts; the very same people after some time malign Me.
It does not affect Me. Whether you give anything to Me or
you do not offer anything to Me; it makes no difference”.
Beautiful things… He told us that day, young Baba. Even
today, I remember the Mandir of 1951. Some of the things are
etched in our memory that it makes an indelible impression.
These are the scriptures that we should treasure, Sai’s
There was another incident involving an old
Brahmin lady. That was again here in 1951. She was very insistent
that wherever she was, she should follow the brahminical rituals.
It was ekadasi and she would fast the whole day. She would
not take even a drop of water. She used to stay in the makeshift
bamboo houses behind the Mandir. She was so very insistent
and somebody called her rigid. Her husband was a great scientist
and if she had a bath and wore what we call the madi Sari,
she would not even serve her husband. She would throw it on
his plate. People used to laugh at her. When Baba used to
be that side of the Mandir in those days, with lot of love
she would prepare something and she would like to offer it
to Swami. She would put it there and not even touch Baba’s
Feet because, she was in madi. So, people thought, what a
strange creature she is! But, I tell you, Baba does not see
the exterior, dear youngsters and elders, Baba sees the interior,
what we are.
One day, it was ekadasi, and as usual we
would have Bhajans for a long time. The strict discipline
was followed; ladies on the one side and gents on the other.
Baba came and sat on His throne and asked: “Where is
Janakamma?” She was sitting away from the crowd because
it was ekadasi. She was in the madi clothes, nobody should
touch her. Baba with such compassion asked us to move and
make place for her. We did, and He asked her to come and sit
near His throne. She did so. What love! What love! It is something
that one has to experience.
He asked her, “Today is ekadasi, isn’t
She said: “Yes, Swami.”
“You haven’t eaten anything?”
Then He said, “In the evening on an ekadasi, what would
She said, “Swami, I would go to the temple where some
knowledgeable people or the priest would tell about the puranas
and great stories of God. I would go there and listen to it.”
Swami said, “Is that so? Sit down, I will tell you the
story of God.”
How beautiful it was! ... when people laughed at her, saying
she was mad, she was rigid. The Gita tells us that anything
that you do, do it sincerely, that is enough. No need to ask
for any approbation from others. The heart must be pure and
the love for God must be absolutely transparent and sincere.
This is what Bhagawan Baba gave us, so many opportunities
to learn that He was the one behind all these things. No religion
mattered to Swami; it is only the religion of Love. Every
religion tells the same thing. Treat everyone as your brother,
the whole humanity is your kin at every stage, at every step.
He taught us these things by His own example. Bhagawan sets
an example. He is not angry with any of us. An ordinary preacher
feels so self important, and if we do not listen to him, his
ego is hurt. But, Bhagawan has no ego. He has come to love
and serve humanity, to teach us what love is. Love, which
is unsullied and pure.
There is one instance which Bhagawan told
us. In an interview, there was an individual. Constantly he
was putting snuff into his nose. Naturally, people who use
snuff should have a big handkerchief. He would blow his nose
into the handkerchief which would be all soiled. Baba looked
at him and said, “See, this doesn’t look good.
You are blowing your nose and making the handkerchief dirty.
No, no, no. Give it up, give it up. It isn’t good for
a person of your stature, your age”. So, he conceded.
Oh! it is beautiful! Then Baba used to eat betel leaves those
days and He used to wipe His mouth with the white handkerchief.
There were slight red marks in the white handkerchief. It
was not even an afterthought. Instantaneously, then and there,
Divinity resolved that He would never eat betel leaves again.
That He has to do, what He asks us to do…that we should
learn. It is not that on a New Year day or a holy day, we
should remember these wonderful things, these examples that
Baba has given us.
We talk of asceticism; we talk of giving
up this, giving up that. It is the purity of the heart, the
intensity of love, thinking of God all the time and His beauty.
That is the only road to God. No need of wearing rags. No
need of saying, I have given up this, I have given up that.
It is not giving up the worldly things that matters, but it
is giving up bad thoughts, the negative thoughts within us.
Everything is God. Why do we see the difference because, we
have it in our mind. We have to go beyond, as Bhagawan says,
beyond these dualities and understand that He says, “Everything
is God.” Baba said, the whole world is God. That is
what Prahlada told his father, Hiranyakasipu. …And when
Hiranyakasipu asked, “Is He there in this pillar?”
“Yes father.” So Hiranyakasipu broke the pillar
and there came Narasimha Swami. He was in such a dreadful
shape that Hiranyakasipu could not withstand it. But, Prahlada
saw. He was God Himself. He went and embraced that fearful
form. I am not able to see God except in His physical form
here because my eyes have the cataract. If I could remove
that cataract all that blinds my vision, I could see the whole
universe as Bhagawan Baba. I pray, let us go to those heights
of meditation, prayer and love, that everywhere we can see
Him. That is the only heaven; that is the only bliss; that
is the only thing we must work for and live for. All of you
know it; I do not need to say. There is nothing in earning
more and more money; there is nothing in craving for greater
and greater status; there is nothing in feeling that I must
be a great intellectual and achieve this and that; nothing
in telling ourselves that I must be a great religious teacher.
…Of what avail? All that matters is I am the child of
God; I am the servant of God… Suffice it. That He loves
me and I love Him. That is paradise enough. All these material
things just do not matter. You might say, “I have reached
this age and I have come to this conclusion.” No. I
have been at the Lotus Feet at a young age. I have understood
what the great One is trying to impart to us. He wants each
one of us to be happy.
One very casual incident when He came to
our hostel... We were all there in the staff room. Baba would
come to us very often, very casually and as Mira sang in her
Bhajan “Andanalum Vandidado Brindavanatil, Kannan Valarthan”
(Would those days come again when Kannan (child Krishna) grew
up in Brindavan.) Those days, when He would come to Anantapur,
so casually without previous announcement, sit with us in
the staff room, talk to us; not as one of great Divinity,
but on equal terms. I was wondering, Baba has placed me here;
how much can I fulfil His trust in me. Some children can be
very naughty. Sometimes they do not know, not that they do
it purposefully. I know it now. They all have innocent hearts.
Sometimes they are unmanageable. So, when Baba was sitting
there, He asked me, “Jayamma, Andaru Bagane Unnara Pillalu?Bagane
Anni Chesukuntunura? (Are all the children alright? Are they
doing well?) And ignorant as I was, I said, “Swami,
Andaru Bagane Unnaru, Kani Kondaru Koncham Vinatamledu (everyone
is alright, but some are not listening to me). Immediate answer,
Evaru Cheddavaru Undaru, Mana Drishti, Andaru Manchivalu (nobody
is bad, good and bad lie in our vision. Everyone is good).
That is a message for all of us. Be good, do good, see good.
That is Bhagawan’s message. All the Vedanta, all the
scriptures, all that the Bible has to say or the Quran or
the Zoroastra religion comes to this essence, “Be good,
do good, see good”. Understand that this alone will
take us to the haven of the Lotus Feet of our most Beloved
Volumes have been written about the great
Avatars, Rama and Krishna and what they did when they set
their Divine Feet upon the earth - to redeem and to love mankind.
As I said, it was Willed by Bhagawan that I come to Him at
a young age. Blessed, blessed, tremendously blessed I call
myself. I do not deem anything more.
In those days, Old Mandir was a very small
building. We have all seen it. Now, of course, it is much
changed. Can we ever conceive it? Thrones bedecked with special
gems, people sitting at their feet and fanning the king and
those around singing songs of His glory. But the great God
lived in that little Mandir. It was a rough construction of
stone and the front was a veranda, now where the weddings
take place. Just a few steps from there is the sanctum, wherein
it was installed with all religious rituals, sanctimoniously
Baba’s image and Shirdi Baba’s image. That is
where some of us, ladies would sleep and men would sleep in
the outside veranda. Mira sang, “Would those days of
Brindavan ever come again?” Well, I also feel the same.
He would take all of us, men, women, young and old to the
sands of Chitravathi. It was almost an everyday affair. How
can I describe how Puttaparthi was? There was no obstruction
of all these buildings. It was just greenery all around, tall
trees, which had grown from the silt of the sacred Chitravathi;
so green, so cool, so beautiful, so comforting to the eye.
We would go; we were not so many. Baba would walk ahead and
we of course ladies would keep to one side and men to the
other side. It used to be a wonderful experience where Baba
would take us right to the banks of Chitravathi. Eventide
is very beautiful time and myriad shades of the sun through
the trees were enchanting. They would fall upon Baba’s
lovely Feet as He walked the sands of Chitravathi. There He
would sit, He would select a place, all of us would sit and
again according to the discipline.
There is so much to be told, but Bhagawan
asked me to tell just one or two incidents. We read about
the ten Avatars. We have seen them in pictures drawn by very
good artists. When we see them, it makes an impression on
us. And we wonder why God had taken all these forms? You and
I cannot fathom it. He is trying to tell us that He is in
every creation and He has bestowed on man the greatest gift
of intelligence and discernment. It was one such day, when
it was evening, almost dusk coming in, it was getting a little
dark. We were all there, and suddenly Baba disappeared. Where
is Swami? Where is Swami? Because in those days those hills
were thickly forested, and we were told there would be cheetahs
and tigers around. Baba was small and delicate. Where is Swami?
Where is Swami? We could not find Him. But we heard His voice
right on that hill. It is there even now. “Look here”,
He said, a stentorian voice, the voice of Divinity which can
reach out to the periphery of eternity itself. And dumbfounded,
aghast, we were just tantalised. We were just looking upon
the hill, a brilliant dazzling light. The panorama of all
the ten Avatars one by one went across, as if, I would say
it was the silver screen. Each one of them perfect, we were
just standing there aghast, not petrified, but looking at
the whole thing with such wonder. Ultimately, it was Bhagawan’s
image in a bright halo of light. Oh! Then we knew the director
behind all this. We knew that it was His Will. Oh ye devotees!
Oh ye human beings! Remember, I am the Creator, I am The One
who has presented before you all the various aspects of My
Then hardly had we got out of this wonderful
experience, we were almost glued to the spot, Baba was amidst
us. How could He come from that hill? …as if like lightening,
He was amidst us! And He spoke to us almost casually as if
He was not the One who did all these things. He was just the
little Sai Baba of the Old Mandir. That is our Swami. No ostentation.
No self glorification. The tremendous power lies in the unostentatious
nature of Divinity. And at other times, He had shown us so
many other things, which if were to relate to you, would become
a great scripture in itself.
This is absolute truth, take it from me.
I have known Bhagawan, I have kissed the dust of His Feet
for 57 years. …and so how could I speak something which
is not truth? I have collected the sands on which He had walked.
They are still with me. There was a lady who had collected
the sands of Chitravathi on which Swami had walked. I did
not know her personally, but after some time, when we had
gone to Bombay (Mumbai) with Swami, I met that lady and she
said, “Do you know, I collected the dust under His Feet
from the Chitravathi sand and this is what it has been transformed
into”. They have all become precious gems. I have seen
it with my own eyes. These are the wonderful things I have
seen. Therefore, I feel that the only place for all of us
is the Lotus Feet of Bhagawan Baba, to be in the close vicinity
of this loving Divinity, to bask in the sunshine of His loving
grace, to get redeemed. When I say redeemed, I don’t
mean a static phase. But, whenever God wants to come to the
world, as Kanakadasa says, “Everybody be a witness,
let me come with You again and again”. I don’t
want to stay in heaven for ever. I want to come to the world
whenever Baba comes to the world, so that I can see the leelas,
so that I can drink deep, the glory, the Divinity, the love.
And all that He is offering us every moment.
Another incident shall I say what He taught
me. This is for all of us. I know all of us are feeling bad
that Baba, who was so agile, so graceful, He would sometimes
be ethereal when He walks. When we see Him walk, we know,
not that physically He is not undergoing pain. We know what
it is, even a small stone when it hits us, how we feel the
pain. But, He just overlooks it, does not mind it.
Why have we to travel overseas, searching for a model so that
we get eminence and fame? Sit at the Feet of Divinity and
learn these precious lessons. In Kodaikanal, I got the opportunity,
I mustered courage…looked at Him and said. He had just
got up from the chair. He was so concerned whether everything
was ready for the dinner for all of us. He hardly eats anything,
I know it. As He was coming, I said, “Swami, it is not
difficult for Swami to cure Himself; Swami just do this, everything
will be alright”. And you know the answer, fellow devotees.
It went like a shaft into my heart. I could write it in golden
letters and stand on top of Mount Everest itself and proclaim,
“In the whole world, God is perfection. I will tell
in Telugu, it will be more sweet. Nenu Mee Andariki Mee Jabbalu
Nayam Chesthana? Mari Nenu Naku Endaku Chesukuntanu? (Do I
cure the diseases of everybody? So why should I cure Myself?)
What an ideal! When He saw the man with that snuff handkerchief,
Baba gave up eating betel leaves. The feeling that He is not
curing, we have our Prarabdha (results of past lives). We
cannot ask God to cure our diseases which we have brought
with us from life to life. He will mitigate it. But the answer
He gave was, “When I am not curing your diseases, how
can I cure Myself?” This is perfection! Enough…we
sit at the Lotus Feet and redeem ourselves and fill ourselves
with love and intensity of devotion to Bhagawan Baba, the
sweet Lord, the loving God. God with a heart that is so expansive
which is even beyond the creation. He feels for everyone.
When He feels somebody is so sick and they are in a condition
where perhaps they cannot do anything with themselves, He
goes to them personally. But let us remember, we have also
to eke out our Prarabdha. …And with His grace, chanting
Bhagawan Baba’s Name, miracles will become common when
Divinity inherits the earth.