It was an open air gathering in tile spacious quadrangle of a bungalow at Madikeri, in the Coorg District. There were more than three thousand men and women eager for Darshan and anxious to listen to Bhagawan's Message and the bhajan songs He invariably rendered for their benefit. Baba asked me to speak for a few minutes, presumably to raise the curtain. When I stood facing the mike, my eyes discovered on the horizon of hills a heavy phalanx of dark monsoon clouds, emitting ominous grim grunts presaging an attack. The hills were already cowering in fear at the prospect of a terrific aquatic fusillade. I could see many among the audience turn pale at the prospect of being drenched by the downpour. I resolved to narrate a story which could assuage their anxiety

"Vaana Raadu"

It was about an incident that happened at Puttaparthi. Baba was a thirteen-year old boy. Indra, the God; of the Skies, desired to send tons of rain hurtling on the village where Baba, the Sai Krishna, was tending cows and calves and children. People ran helter-skelter seeking shelter from the oncoming disaster. Venkamma the elder sister, was struck with panic. She had planned to build a house and the bricks though piled in the kiln were still wet, awaiting the baking process. The rain would certainly ruin the kiln and reduce the bricks into mass of misshaped clay. Some one advised her to cover the bricks with bundles of dry sugarcane leaves, available at Karnmtanagapalli, the hamlet facing Puttaparthi from the right bank of the Chitravati. About fifteen men volunteered to help. They followed Venkamma as she hurried across the sands of the river bed to the cluster of houses. Baba too ran behind them. But He stopped suddenly when He had trekked half the distance. Lifting His flat little right palm up in the air He shouted, "Venkamma! Vaana raadu!" (d as soft as th in the). "Vaana (rain) raadu (won't come.)" It couldn't. He had willed the clouds away.

I watched the faces shine with faith and courage and sat down well pleased with myself, only to rise soon. For, Baba began his Discourse.

As I was talking into the mike, I was frightened to see the clouds descending on the range which shuddered at the thunderous impact. The storm, in a fit of wild frolic, drove the rain down into the foothills. My mind went pit-a-pat with confusion.

Baba to the rescue

Part of me proceeded with the translation while all of me blamed my effrontery at having chosen that story of "Vaana raadu". The ‘Vaana' was advancing fast, enveloping the valley, lashing the jungle hiding there. It drenched the hillocks and blitzed the heights on which Madikeri was built. It overwhelmed the bazaar and the bus station, half a kilometre away.

But, Baba spoke on as sweet and serene as ever. Concluding His Discourse with a shower of blessings, He sang three bhajan songs and bidding Ravindra Punja, who came forward with the Arati Plate, to wait and keep the camphor flame aside, He spoke about my duel with a dilemma. I had to render those slow deliberate sentences, too, into Kannada for the benefit of the huge audience.

"You were assured by Kasturi before I began to talk that the rain would be driven off by me. He was not firm in that faith, though he tried to instill that faith in you. Poor fellow! All the time, he was fearing, worrying, praying, pleading with. The rain is now pouring in Mahadevpet. It will reach this place only after twenty minutes."

I had therefore to make those devotees realise that I was like most others they have known—a pendulum swinging between acceptance and apprehension.

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