Message in the Crowd

On the holy day of Sivarathri in 1975, I had finished my worship. At about 8.30 a.m., I had a strong urge to take darshan of one great saint, Sri Venkaiah Avadhuta at a village named Golagamudi. I called one of my students, Ramakrishna whose father was a devotee of this saint and asked him to join me. Ramakrishna said that the saint does not stay in any place for more than three or four days and that we had better enquire whether he was in that village.

But I prayed to Shirdi Sai Baba, “Baba! I want to take darshan of your manifestation, Sri Venkaiah Swami. Please bless me to have his darshan and special blessings.”

I lighted incense before Baba’s picture and left for that village. On our way, another bus which was to take us there crossed; we got into it. In it there were a few sadhus who carried a stringed musical instrument which belonged to the saint. They told us that the holy one came to Nellore some four days earlier and that he decided to stay there for a full ten days, but at 8.30 a.m., that day, he suddenly started for Golagamudi. He reached there just half an hour before our arrival. Owing to the sudden change of his plans, no other devotees visited him and we two sat in his presence for full six hours. At the end of it, he blessed us.

I will share another instance of how Baba has been actively guiding me in my worldly life as well. Owing to my keen reflection on joy and sorrow in life, I came to a decision to remain a celibate all my life and dedicate all my energies to the spiritual quest. Even my father had stopped pressing me to get married. This was before I stayed at the ashram.

At that time, I used to visit a recluse saint at a nearby town, Chirala. He was a perfect Avadhuta. One day when I saw him, he gave me an old, dark nylon sari with which some generous soul probably covered him the previous night to protect him from the winter cold.

He told me to cover myself with it and to keep it with me. Some friends later remarked that the saint indicated that I should get married, but I was not convinced. After a year or so I happened to visit a celibate saint who lived in the thick forests of Chinthapalli range who explicitly told me that I should get married in view of my karmic ties since a former life and that I had better clear them off. After he attained niryana (shedding his physical frame) I had a doubt. The saint was known to my father and my eldest brother. Could he have counselled me to oblige my father? But there was no way of ascertaining the truth. In 1973, I visited Shirdi to pray for explicit guidance in the matter.

I stayed there for a week, spending all my time in circumambulating the samadhi (tomb), devout study of Baba’s life and prayer. On the seventh day, which happened to be the holy Vijayadasami (dassera festival) the anniversary of Baba’s mahasamadhi was being celebrated I finished my chosen routine by midnight, and I waited near Baba’s samadhi for half an hour but I did not receive any message from Baba. Tired with the day’s routine I relaxed in the nearby park. Within five minutes, a bespectacled gentlemen approached me and said, “One great man is staying with me in my room. He is one Puran Dalayi from Bombay. He wants you to see him. I am Roy from Calcutta”.

I was at first surprised by the unsolicited greeting. I even suspected that probably some smuggler must have mistaken me from my midnight walk for one of his own tribe and thus was seeking to establish contact with me. However, I wished to see what it was and I at once went to his room, which was nearby.

An elderly man of about 55 or 60 was standing before a room in which there was no light. At my approach, he entered the room, switched on the light, and turned round. I was amazed to find before me a man who seemed a replica of the forest-dwelling Swami (of Chinthapalli) who was no more! Only when this gentleman addressed me in Hindi did I realize that this was a different man. He said, “Sai Baba appears before me in my dhyana. Today I paid my respects to the samadhi and sat here in our room for mediation. Baba appeared before me and said, ‘One of my devotees is doing pradakshina (circumambulation) to my samadhi for a message from me’. Convey this, my message, to him at once!” Saying thus Baba gave me a message.

I told Baba that it was not possible for me to identify the said devotee in that crowd, and so, I said I would go and sit in the nearby park, and I would deliver the message to whosoever comes there within five minutes of my sitting there. Should no one come, it is not my business. ‘So you should impel the said devotee to go over there within that time’.

So saying, I sat in the park. You came within that time and so I had sent for you and came here. Here we can have privacy. Now, young man, what is your problem for which you want a message from Baba?”

“I am sorry to say this, but I do not want to share my problem with anyone except Baba. If you tell me the message which he wished you to convey to me, I shall see whether it is connected with my problem and, If so, I shall accept it”.

The old man smiled and said, “You wished to know what Baba has to say regarding the question of your marriage. Baba wants me to tell you that you should get married and that thereby your karmic ties would be worked out.” “Yes, that was the issue I had in mind”, I confessed. “After your marriage, both of you should come to Shirdi and serve Baba for at least a week. That’s baba’s pleasure,” he added. My marriage took place on the 6th of March 1975 and on the 14th of April, my wife and I visited Shirdi and stayed in his service for two weeks.

Source: Sai Baba The Master By Pujya Acharya Sri Ekkirala Bharadwaja.

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