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"Ask and it shall be given"

- Christ.

It was my habit to worship Baba with Sahasranamarchana every Thursday, for which as well as for the preliminary Anga Puja and Ashtothara Puja, at least some twelve hundred flowers are required at the rate of one for each name. One Thursday in the winter of '42, I forgot to gather the flowers in the morning and remembered it only late in the evening a little before sunset. No flower could be had at that late hour. However, in lieu of flower tulsi dhalams (twig endings with two leaves and a bud), could be used. Fortunately, we had a bed of tulsi bushes in the neighbourhood. So, along with some of my student friends, I set about gathering tulsi till sunset after which tradition forbids it. Each of us kept count of the number plucked and the total came to about seven hundred only. A recount of all put together confirmed it. I decided to make up the deficiency with Akshatha.

However, when once I began the Puja, I forgot all about the shortage and went on with one tulsi dhalam for each name, reassured and beckond by the generous heap in the tray before me. Not till the puja was over and I relaxed after partaking of prasadam was my attention attracted to the substantial quantity of tulsi still left in the tray. I checked with those present to make sure that I had continuously used only the tulsi for each 'name' of the archana. On counting the quantity left over I found nearly three hundred dhalams.

How else could I explain it except as Baba's leela. "Ask and it shall be given."

Glory be to Shri Sirdi Sai - Grace be to all


What can the snake do to Dwarakamayi's children? When Dwarakamayi protects, can it strike? We have no need to fear. Strike, let me see how you can strike and kill!"

- Promises of Baba as Dwarakamayi

In fulfilment of the above charter granted for all time to His devotees, Baba twice saved us from imminent danger of fatal poisonous bites.

The first time was in the winter of '42 in an interior village of Visakhapatnam Dt. where we had sought refuge from the Japanese bombing of the city and the threatened overnight invasion by sea in March of that year. It came about like this.

One evening my wife drew my attention to a small snake about 10" long slowly creeping along the foot of the wall of the front vereanda where I was sitting. In the impulse of the moment, I did the stupidest thing. Taking its small size for granted, I hit it with one of my chappals and sutomatically stood up. Instantaneously, it jumped up reaching for my face as if it had instinctively anticipated my erect posture. It was so sudden and so totally unexpected that I was startled out of my wits, so to say. Only Baba I am sure must have made me slant my head backwards in the nick of the movement, so that missing its mark narrowly it fell down. In frantic fear and despair, I picked up the other chappal near me and hit it in a frezy and killed it.

As that time and till long afterwards, I had not known that I was confronted with a reptile called krait more molicious than the other poisonous kinds. For while even the Cobra attacks only on provocation, this one does so on mere sight and its bite is as fatal. It is unusual for it to leave its haunts, away from the inhabited areas. Evidently it was caught and thrown in.

It later dawned upon my mind that some clique in the fairly big village wanted to teach a lesson in such a vengeful manner for my heterodox ways of defying untouchability and employing a low-caste woman for fetching water and cleaning utensils. Such acts pass unnoticed in a city but are not tolerated in the villages dominated by the upper castes who though not brahmins were feeling scandalised that I calling myself a brahmin, should stoop so low. The fact is that having come under the influence of Gandhiji first and accepted whole-heartedly Baba's teachings later, my wife and I had almost completely eschewed observing differences based upon caste of creed. Further, when they saw her serving meal on a Thursday to a mendicant-harijan afflicted with leprosy seated in front veranda of the house, the sight must have been galling to them. I can now see that I had also grossly though unwittingly tresspassed the social bounds and decorum of the local standards of rural society in some other ways. Thus I had incurred the enmity of a group of families by blocking up the channel letting their drainage pass through our yard till then and improvising a lavatory in the adjoining open space. Though all this was done with the pradhan's approval, it must have scandalised them. Add to these my tendency to put my foot in my mouth while talking, liable to be mistaken for imparity and it must have proved the last straw. This is the price one has to pay for not doing in Rome as the Romans do.

The second occasion was in November '49 or '50. It has been said that it is a misfortune in life to fail and the other misfortune equally bad is to succeed. I was employed then as a Leading Examiner of Ammunition in the Navy at Visakhapatnam and by the sheer grace of Baba success came knocking at my door. The immediate result was I succeeded in making enemies too who would not be averse to see the end of me or some one dear to me. This I came to know

in retrospect. What actually happened was this. One morning as I entered the lavatory of the old open-air type, contrary to my habit of mechanically squatting on the stones to answer the calls of nature, I instinctively felt impelled, rather Baba provided the impulse to look round. Imagine my shock and horror to find between the stones where I was to have squatted a small Cobra with its hood raised obviously ready to strike. I backed out in fear and summoned my neighbor who found it half crushed in the middle so that it could not move. He killed and disposed it of. The inference was clear. Beyond all doubt, it was placed in that position with the injury inflicted on it to rouse its fury and left to do its fell work. Only, whoever had done it had not taken into account the omnipresence of Baba, that He is even there as He assured where His devotee goes to ease himself even in the dark.

Glory be to Shri Shirdi Sai - Grace be to all


Why fear when I am here? Throw your burdens upon me and I will bear them"

- Baba

My wife was an expectant mother in '43. We were then at Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam Dt., and though I had medical friends, we did not think it necessary to seek advice except for just one visit of the health visitor who said it was all O.K. We felt assured that Baba who is ever watchful and solicitous about the welfare of his devotees would provide the necessary help as and when required.

Towards the end of August, my wife developed labour pains. These continued in an increasing measure from day to day for 4 to 5 days. Yet, it did not strike either of us to seek medical advice. Only when delivery seemed imminent did I call a midwife. It took more than three hours of excruciating labour for a male child to be delivered.

While feeling thankful for the redress at long last, the midwife threw a bomb-shell that there was another child in the womb. This was my wife's fourth confinement, we had not dreamt of the possibility of twins, there being no precedence on either side. We were flabber-gasted. The health visitor had not said anything about twins. My wife who was still crying and feeling exhausted with pain became desperate and said she would not survive another delivery. The mid­wife after attending to the new-born child was preparing to go saying it would not be for another six or seven hours that thesecond child would be born. I was completely non-Plussed. There was no other help in the house except for the neighbours.

Then my wife called me and asked for Baba's Udhi What a fool I was, I had not thought of it, though it was I who had narrated to her about Baba's leela, in case of Nana Saheb Chandarkar's daughter, how He had sent Bapu Gir with Udhi to the young woman in the throes of labour quite far away from Shirdi, which enabled her to deliver her child promptly and with ease.

With resurgent hope and courage, I forth with gave a little Udhi to the midwife to be put in my wife's mouth as well as to be applied over the region of her womb. It was accordingly done, when lo! and behold! almost in a trice, as though gently propelled by unseen hands the second of the twins was born.

What more proof could one need to demonstrate the ever loving care and immanence of Baba?

Glory be to Shri Shirdi Sai - Grace be to all


" When truth is stranger than fiction"

- The Upanishads

Yes, I saw Him, The re-incarnation of Baba (Twenty-six years after His Mahaa samadhi)-This occurred in March, 1944 at Vizianagaram, A.P, 26 years after Baba attained Mahaa Samadhi in October, 1918.

Mukam karothi uachalam Mrutha mujj'wa yatyapi

- The Upanishads

Behold, it came to pass that the dumb spoke and the dead came back to life.
The Bible

Yes, there He stood at the gate, with His serene indulgent face and benevolent eyes, clothed in 'Kupni' with the cloth over the head falling loosely over the shoulders, the 'Biksha Patra' held in the right hand with the left folded and resting over the right shoulder exactly as in the portrait facing P112 of the Satcharita (Eng.edn. by Sri N.V. Gunaji). I was stunned with amazement. It was INCREDIBLE.

Only a moment before, in my frenzied despair at the passing away of my first-born son aged 10 years, I had denied Him His Divinty and His omnipresence testified again and again by His devotees' experiences both before and after His 'Mahasamaadhi' I had declared Him to be a false deity and beseeched my wife to throw His portrait on the dung hill. But, here He stood to prove the TRUTH OF HIS ETERNAL EXISTENCE.

You see, the medicine I poured into the mouth of my semiconcious son remained there. I shouted to him to swallow it, but the mouth remained open. I became frantic and tried to close it. No, the jaws had become rigid. I checked pulse. It too had stopped. It was then that called out my wife from the kitchen and spoke those blasphemons words. She just sat by the bed, head bent and tears trickling down, as much hurt by my profanity, no doubt, as by the bereavement.

I had come to the end of my tether spiritually, I was not myself for the nonce. Thus i had the brutal impudence to ask my grieving wife whether she had cooked, adding, 'He has anyway gone. I don't want to die, too. I shall go and eat."

Imagine the father, however forlorn, to be so devoid of all feelings as to put such an inhuman question to the mother just bereaved. There is no limit to which human nature can sink through, thank God, it can also soar to Elysian heights. Here I must say that my wife’s faith, unlike mine, has throughout been unflickering, standing 'four-square to all the winds that blow'. Whenever my mind harks back to that scene, I can not help wondering how I escaped her righteous indignation for my frenzied out-burst. Where else, except, except in this land hallowed by Sita and Savithri, Damayanthi and Mandodhari, Nalaayini and Renuka Devi, can one meet with such phenomenal forbearance and fortitude?

It is not far-fetched to say that it is for such paragons of virtue that the Sun shines, it rains, and Mother Earth continues to yield her bounty. It has been said that 'the greatness of a man does not consist in never falling but rising everytime he falls'. Indeed, it is by the magnetic charm of their devotion that 'homo sapiens' is not completely debased. In her own gentle manner, she said. ' i just finished cooking for the children. Pray, serve yourself for this once", and lapsed into, what I know now in retrospect to have been, prayer to Baba.

You see, there were four younger children, two of them twins hardly six months old. But my mind and heart had become dry, no thought or feeling for any one, not even Baba!

So I betook myself to the kitchen to eat! I sat with a Thali' before me and mechanically served myself some rice. Before I could bring myself to eat, while sitting and staring at the rice vacantly, I became schizophrenic, as it were, one part of me questioning the other, "Look, what are you trying to do? there lies your first-born son dead and you are going to gorge yourself". This shocked me into realising how perfectly horrid of me it was. I turned to look in the direction of the bed in the front room which was in line with the kitchen. It was then that my eyes beheld the wonderful form of Baba. Was it a mere vision, a figment of my imagination? I shouted to my wife with head still bent, "Kamu, look out and see who has come". Reacting to the frantic urgency in my voice, she looked up and glanced at the gate. At once, as if touched by a live wire, she sprang up; and, as if that was the consummation, she was devoutly praying for she exclaimed "Amma Nayana/ Baba Vachcheru!" (Oh! at long last Baba has come!).

Actually, neither of us had seen the Satcharita portrait of Baba by then. Our puja portrait showed Him sitting crossed. However, in His inscrutable Wisdom, He had

led us intoo buying at a 'me/a' a few months earlier, a wood-cut portraying Him in five different poses, including this one, we were able to recognise Him at once.

Now I felt sure it was He. I was back in my senses. My heart was full of gratitude to Him for coming in the nick of time, and saving the situation. Else, in my forsaken condition, with no thought of Him or for Him, I might have polluted the food before me. In this new found happiness, I reverentially took the thali up to Him and put the rice in the lifted 'biksha-paatra', He received it with His beatific face and went away. No word was spoken. Indeed, there was no need for any. My heart was too full for it, too. There was 'peace that passeth understanding'.

As I stepped into the house, my son opened his eyes and said "Father, I am thirsty. Give me some water."

The humanly impossible had come to pass!

Glory be to Shri Shirdi Sai – Grace be to all


" When truth is stranger than fiction"

- The Upanishads

Yes, Baba came, dined and conversed with me (Twenty six years after His Maha Samadhi)

It was about noon and Thursday too By force of habit, I looked towards the gate for some Fakir or Sadhu who might turn up for biksha. Ever since the advent of Baba into my life two years previously in '42 through the sacred contact of His Holiness Swami Kesavaiah, I had come to observe Thursday as Baba's day. You see, it was through swamiji's initiation into devotion to Baba and doing His 'Nnamasmaranam' that I was reclaimed from imminent death. On further being advised to fast every Thursday night for nine months and gave my meal to the first Fakir that might turn up, (which I accordingly did) I was gradually restored to health. Since then, I had made it a rule to feed a Fakir before taking the noon meal on Thursdays.

But this Thursday was unique, a red-letter day in a long life of sojourns on earth (punarapi jananam punarapi maranam) a culmination of persistent 'tapasya' through recurrent janma of some one in the family, in all probability my wife, or one of the children or may be my own imperfect self for his'Saakshaatkaara. For, to my utter surprise and astonishment, Baba Himself with His beatific smile was entering front enclosure! He was in same Bikshapathi pose as He manifested Himself the previous day as 'Mrutyanjaya to revive my dead son, almost within a split second of my denying His divinity and declaring Him to be a false deity! I eagerly hastened up to Him. After welcoming Him with all my heart, I begged Him to condescend to stay for food. He asked me with a twinkle in His eyes whether there was anything special that day, I said that it being a Thursday, it was our custom to offer food to a Fakir before our noon-meal. With the faintest flicker of a smile at the corners of His lips He wondered whether I would do so on Thursdays only.

Being rather academic and literal in my ways, I replied, rather obtusely, that it was so. I am not ashamed to confess that it look years for me, chewing the cud of it off and on, to sense the gentle admonition enshrined in His benevolent query, as if half in jest and half in earnest, 'Why not daily', and begin doing so.

Be that as it may, I offered him a seat and ran inside with the glad tidings of Baba's visit and His gracious condescension to have food at our humble adobe. I beseeched my wife to round off the cooking forthwith and start serving the food, since 'Athithi's, especially holy ones, should not be made to wait unduly (Athidhi Devo Bhava) and, all the more so, because it was BABA HIMSELF How can one describe the signal good fortune so divinely bestowed upon my wife, Kamala, of personally serving food cooked by her to the Master of all CREATION (as described my Meherbaba) except to say that it is the cumulative fulfilment of all the good deeds of all her previous 'janmas at ONE STROKE! The whole beauty of it lay in the fact that she did not as a matter of course, characteristic of a 'gruha dharmini' fulfilling her obligation and to at this day not at all conscious of that greatest good furtune that can ever accrue to her. That is, indeed, as it be for "there is no vanity so damaging to one's character as pride over one's good deeds". 'SUCH are the chosen of God, the humble and the good at heart who it is that "inherit the kingdom of Heaven".

As Baba was graciously taking the meal, I put Him the stupidest of questions! I had the foolish temerity to ask Him where exactly at Vizianagaram (he was staying) This episode took place at Vizianagaram in Visakhapatnam dist. In March, 1944) imagine asking Him who had repeatedly given proof of His EXISTENCE at different places to different persons at one and the same time both during His incarnate stay at Shirdi as well as after His Mahaa Samdhi, either in a clearly recognisable manner of incognito, to be recognised, later on, both subjectively as well as by cumulative evidence, as none other than Baba Himself.

How puerile and vain can man be that, not withstanding the show and pomp, penance and ostensible devotion with which he invokes the Lord, when He does appear, he fails to recognise Him! Even tapasvins were occasionally not exempt from such an woeful lapse.

The all-knowing Baba, speaking at my level, gave me an apt and satisfying reply. He said that he was staying at the Sri Subrahmanya Temple near the railway station, which, as will be seen presently, was true in a literal sense as also applicable universally according to His own proven assertion to many a devotee in respect of His identity with any idol or image or worship. I, of course, took His words literally and said, "All right Baba, if so I will surely go and see you". "Do come!", He confirmed and went back letting me accompany Him up to the gate. Indeed it is a misnomer to say he went back, for, how and where can He, the 'Sarvantaryamee', ever go to come back again for that matter? However, such wisdom was yet a long way from me.

Here it should be noted that Baba and I were conversing in Telugu, my mother-tongue, which He spoke with ease and in our dialect. I wonder why and how I had started talking thus. It seemed the natural thing to do. I now realise the question does not arise at all. I am sure any one in my place would have naturally spoken in his own language and Baba would have answered in it or vice versa. Mahalsapati (the earliest devotee of Baba at Shirdi) has vouched that many a time in the night while all were asleep, Baba used to converse with some unseen agent(s) in some foreign tongue(s)

Soon, I must unblushingly admit, I lapsed into the humdrum routine of existence, and all thought of the incarnate Baba receded to the back of my mind, though my daily worship went on as usual. About a month later, as I was about to take my noon-meal, the thought of my defferred visit to Baba in the temple flashed across my mind. At once, grabbing the hand of my convalescing son, I rushed out like one possessed and trotted along to reach the temple, about a mile away. I had often passed by it and noted it to be a transit camp for the Sadhus to and fro on their pilgrimage. Reaching the portal sweating and panting, I accosted the first person I saw and enquired about Baba's stay there, describing His person and dress in exact detail. To my great disappointment, he curtly replied there was none answering to that description, implying a muslim ascetic. I begged him to recollect and tell me or refer me to others whose sojourn might be longer than a month, insisting that the SADHU I was after had come and received biksha at our house and had averred that this was His abode at Vizianagaram. This rather annoyed him but, seeing my crest-fallen countenance, he softened a bit and assured me that none like the ONE I described had ever stayed at the temple since over a month during which period he himself had been staying there. That was it. It was enough to deflate me completely. I was on the verge of tears.

In this repentant and chastened mood, I decided that we might as well go in and worship Lord Subrahmanya and seek His blessings, for, I had learnt to see Baba in all deities (and vice-versa). As we went round and turned the corner to reach the front again, I came across an improvised minor sanctum common in temple premises. I casually looked inside. I was overwhelmed to behold a life-size portrait of Baba in exactly the same pose as He designed to visit our abode on two consecutive days first as 'Mrutyunjaya' and the next day as Divine 'Athithi1! In a flash, I understood what the 'Dayaa Sindu' had meant, both literally and in a metaphorical sense, when He told me that I could find Him here, as, indeed, anywhere one wants and needs, if only with all one's heart and will. Now, the flood gate burst open and I poured out my heart to him. Tears of joy welled up in my eyes flowing as if in an unending stream, and my heart melted away into secret raptures. I then remembered having heard some year ago while at Waltair that one Sri C. Rangaiah Naidu, under the inspiration of Sri D. Durgaiah Naidu, a pioneer devotee of Baba and well known to the Shirdi Sansthan, had installed a portrait of Baba for worship at Vizianagaram, This was it.

My heart leapt as I felt reassured that Baba was, as He continues to be with me and I was not bereft of His Grace, that He is enshrined in every image and portrait of His, ready to manifest Him self at a split second's notice, or none at all, even as "the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath". It can be as His re-incarnation, or incognito as a person or an animal, or in a vision, or as subjective (or call if sub-conscious, superconscious or subliminal) realisation of His being 'BHAKTHA PARAADINA" ever alert to fulfil Himself according to His charter to give His children whatever they want so that they will being to want what He wants to give them, blessed is he who thus qualifies.

"Such man is free from servile bands of hope to rise or fear to fall, Lord of Himself though not of lands And having nothing, yet hath all."

- Sir Henry Wotton (A Happy Life)

Glory be to Shri Shirdi Sai Baba - Grace be to all


" When truth is stranger than fiction'

The Upanishads

"Behold, it came to pass that the dumb spoke and the dead come back to life"

- The Bible


As if to prove paradoxically that the law of compensation works itself out to perfection in nature, the handsomest of my children, a boy, and the most cheerful withal, was born dumb. This was confirmed when he failed to gain the power of speech as he grew up to complete his fifth year. His heroic efforts to make himself understood through gestures and unintelligible blabber only lent poignancy to the situation, Yet, he was the least perturbed. It was an object lesson in philosophic reconciliation. Being feminine in my attitude to life and, thus though endowed with the characteristics resilience to bear "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune", I could not help giving way to tears every time I saw him. It was the optimism of my wife, Kamala, derived from her unflickering faith in Baba's never failing Grace, that helped me sustain myself. She was never tired of iterating and reiterating the incredible miracles worked by Baba in our life: how He had helped me in a hopeless condition to regain health: how His Vdhi' (Vipudhi), the sacred ash, from the perennial fire (dhuni) at Shirdi first kindled by His Yogic power, and used as a panacea for all bodily and mental ills, had enabled her without any medical help to deliver her twin child in a matter of seconds, though the seasoned midwife had averred it would not be for another six hours; how He had re-incarnated Himself and came as Bikshapati to revive our dead first-born son, aged ten years; how He had enabled me to obtain employment in the Central Government though I was past 42 years, and retain it in the face of difficulties inherent as well as created by jealous elements; how He was continuing to fulfil Himself according to His Charters granted for all time to His children, by saving us from want and imminent dangers time and again, and so on, and so forth.

All this was, no doubt, true. But I was a doubting Thomas, besides being a vertiable woman at heart, wanting and in need of constant and renewed proof of the Solicitude of my Lord and Master at every stage.

Thus, I felt that in this boy's case something had gone wrong somewhere. Else, why this tantalization in His fulfilling the first half of the Upanishadic Axiom when He had so readily rushed in answer to my challenge to fulfil, the other half? If the dead could be made to come back to life, then what could stand in the way of the dumb being made to talk? Of course, I was aware of the Biblical Dictum that the sins of the fathers are visited on their children. Thus, it may be that some past bad 'karma' of mine had descended as the curse of dumbness on this innocent boy. Even so, how many a time has He not rescued His devotees by transmuting their accrued sufferings resulting from 'runanubandha' into lightly borne ones, or, not un often, taken them upon Himself and sublimated them? I could not forget the fact that spiritually I am wedded to Him, my Lord and Master, and have taken refuge in Him. In the words of Robert Southey,

"In Him I take delight in weal,

And seek relief in woe;

And whenever I understand and feel

How much to Him I owe,

My cheeks are often bedewed

With tears of thoughtful gratitude!"

(with apologies to Robert Southey for changing 'them' into Him)

In the spiritual sense, there is no alternative to being prepared, to be passive, naked and unashamed! The beauty is the LOVED ONE does not let it come to pass. Is this not the lesson to be learnt from the wonderful manner in which He saved Draupadi's threatened nakedness? "Even as obedience to an earthly ruler makes life under it easier, mute and humble submission to the Divine will makes life on earth easier".

However, all this wisdom was yet a long way off. For the time being, I could not free myself from a nagging doubt that the boy might for ever be condemned to a silent existence. But my wife had no qualms at all about his being able to speak in God's own good time. With a woman's instinct, she knew this in her heart. I now realise that I was like a forward child crying 'mother, mother' while being in her lap all the time! I was yet to be familiarised to Baba's wonderful' 'Sutradhaari' ways; yet to learn to be content to remain wherever and in whatever capacity or circumstances He chooses to place me; yet to appreciate that what is, is the best; that, in His infinite Wisdom as the Great mathematician, He sees to it that the sum total of a person's happiness and misery is always 'K' (a constant) whether a saint of a sinner; a nawab or a fakir; man, woman or child; yea, any living creature for that matter!

Now, to hark back to the scene to see how Baba in inscrutable Wisdom designed to convert the gloom of despair into the bloom of hope-fulfilled. As my son was entering his sixth year, we were shifting to a different house, now he had become like the favourite lamb of the shepherd perched on his shoulder. Holding him by my left and with Baba's portrait in my right, as I was setting my

foot on the first step, Baba alone knows from where, a black. dog appeared, and, coming close, licked him. It occurred to my mind later that a black dog has been instrumental in one of Baba's Leelas. In my eagerness and anxiety to pacify hjm lost sight of the fact that he had spoken! The others were somewhat behind me. Presently, when all of us were in, as is our custom on entering a house for residence for the first time, we offered freshly boiled milk with sugar to Baba and worshipped Him. As soon as we had partaken the 'Prasaadam', wonder of wonders! The boy began to speak, the words tumbling out of his mouth, vying with one another WORDS! Oh, how they came; brothers and sisters, nephew and nieces, uncles and aunts, even distant cousins, in truth the whole tribe of them came, thus constituting in the course of an hour the full vocabulary of a normal five year old boy, flabbergasting all of us, making us astonished and delighted by turns! Then, all at once, I felt the full impact of Baba's incredible 'Leela'. It was too great for words. I could only "Let my blood speak in my veins".

Glory be to Shri Shirdi Sai Baba - Grace be to all



" When truth is stranger than fiction"

The Upanishad

"Ask, it shall be given."

- The Bible

During the Second World War, I was employed as a Civilian Office Supervisor in the" Embarkation Headquarters Vishakapatnam through which all the requirements of war against Japan were being routed. This was the first time I had ever worked for the army or the Government for that matter having been in private employment till then. Hence, I had often to bungle through to success, 'heart within and God overhead/ We worked under the strictest discipline I had even known. Even minor mistakes attracted immediate and summary punishment. It was in this context that I once found myself in a highly embarrassing position. It came about as under:

A British Military Officer and I were in charge of disbursement of pay to the soldiers and sepoys (as Jawans were then called) According to the rules, soon after the payments are made, the O.C.'s counter signature should be obtained and the ledger posted up. However, on the first of a certain- month, it was so late in the evening by the time payments were made that I postponed the work of getting the pay rolls countersigned and posted to the next day and went.home. I had no qualms about the safety of the document, since it was a war-time military establishment, everything under lock and seal with sentries pacing up and down round the clock. However, imagine my shock and surprise the next morning when I opened the almirah, to find the pay-rolls missing.

Hardly a month earlier, I was handpicked as the best available man and given the charge of the office by the new boss, one Maj G. William, a distinguished war-veteran. This was my first major task and I would be found wanting. He was indeed a fire-eater with a penchant for dismissing a person found negligent in any way on the spot. Many including my predecessor in the seat had thus been axed in quick succession. This had created a lit of heart-burning. It was clear that someone bent upon putting me in trouble was behind this mischief. I was completely non-plussed. My heart rose in prayer to Baba, my Sole Refuge, for His unfailing help to a devotee in trouble. Sustained by such faith, I pulled out all the files methodically one by one, in the hope of locating the payrolls among them. It was of no avail. I became frantic and went on repeating the process with each of the twenty odd almirahs in the office hoping against hope to find by chance the missing documents hidden in one of them but with the same negative result. I went and sat in my seat utterly frustrated.

To go and tell the boss would be worse than useless, since the whole thing smacked of negligence and he was bound to pounce upon me. It would mean only one thing, namely, dismissal. That would be my undoing. Caught in this dilemma, I once again beseeched Baba to my rescue. Now, some impulse led me back again to the same almirah in which I had kept the pay-rolls and which I had throughly searched already, and involuntarilly opened it, when lo! and behold! There before me exactly where I had kept, were the pay-rolls starting me in the face! I know for certain that all the while none had stirred from his seat. There was no way to explain it. It was another clear example of Baba's 'chamatkar'.

"Ask, it shall be given."

Glory be to Shri Shirdi Sai - Grace be to all


Why fear when I am here? Cast your burdens upon me and I will bear them"

- Baba

My ancestral back ground and the evironment in which I was born and bred up had cast me into a philosophic mould and conditioned me to believe that "There is a destiny that shapes our ends / Rough - hew them how we may." After the advent of Baba into my life, my experiences with him amply confirmed and ratified this belief. Rather it became an axiom in due course proving itself again and again in a remarkably incredible manner. I gave no thought for the morrow. The unsettled war- years found a large number of us employed willy nilly in some establishment connected with the war-effort. With the ending of the war, however, most of these units were closed down one by one. I was functioning as an Administrative Officer in the Embarkation HQ, Vishakapatnam at that time. Of course, I knew I had to seek a job elsewhere. But then what is Baba for? Does he not provide the impetus to act, leading us into "fresh fields and pastures new?" Has He not assured His devotees that there would be no want in their houses? Is He not ever ready and willing to take over our burdens if only we cast them on Him with full faith? So why worry? Such were my thoughts and I was as unconcerned as I could be. Accordingly, one fine morning my boss, Capt. Boohariwallah, a man of sterling character and independence who had recently taken over asked me whether I had been recommended for a Permanent position as an administrative Officer in the army. Un my replying in the negative, he forthwith put up a letter to the GHQ strongly recommending me for the job. He followed up by phoning the Staff Officer concerned at intervals to make sure the proposal received due consideration. This spontaneous acion of the Officer only underlined my belief in Baba's solicitude for the welfare of those who put their faith in Him On this note of hope I found myself discharged on the closing down of our establishment in July '48.

Months dragged on but nothing was heard from Delhi. I had saved nothing and had to begin selling things to fend for the family. First it was the furniture. Then it was my wife's jewellery one by one till by Dec '48 we came to the end of our resources except for just one gold chain around her neck. I kept in touch with the CHQ through one of the officers still available. I had every reason to be hopeful. However, in. retrospect I wonder at my seeming stupidity in my failure to seek an alternative job. But, then it never occured to me I should try. As luck would have it, reducing my hopes to ashes, came the government's declaration of the 'Hyderabad Action' against the Nizam. The whole army was geared up overnight to achieve success in their effort and chances of my appointment vanished into thin air.

It was a terrible shock. I sat before Baba and cried. My wife who was convalescing after confinement and whose matchless devotion to Baba has always been exemplary told me it was needless for me to cry or lose heart. Baba was actually testing her faith not mine, she exclaimed. "Let this lost piece too go. Let us see what He does afterwards," so saying, she practically tore the chain off her neck and threw it. "Please take and sell this away .and let Him take over," she concluded. For a long while I could not bring myself to pick it up. I felt like a heartless robber, having no alternative, I steeled myself to take it and sell it. Within a week after this, I got my first permanent appointment as a higher grade Office Assistant in the Royal Indian Navy through the good offices of Capt. Krishnaswamy who happened to be a former student of mine. I was past 40. I think it was the first as well as the last exemption from such over-age ever granted. It could happen that way because the Navy was still under British Admiralty manned by Britishers at the top and an Englishman had strongly recommended it in my favour. In the ultimate analysis, it was Baba fulfilling Himself in His own wonderful way.

Glory be to Shri Shirdi Sai Baba - Grace be to all



It has been narrated in the earlier article, how though past 40 and without a regular job, I was granted exemption and appointed as A Grade office Assistant in the Royal Indian Navy in Dec 1948. It was, no doubt; the first as well as the last such exemption granted by the Government of India as a striking example of Baba's grace.

Hardly had I settled down in my job when, out of sheer jealousy, some of the office-staff petitioned the NHQ against my appointment and the exemption granted. I knew about it only when a letter came retracting the earlier order and allowing me the option to work in a lower category as a clerk. Mr. Brooker, who had originally recommended me, showed me the letter and wished to know my reaction. I was stunned. Apart from the discomfiture of being downgraded, my emoluments would go down too, making it impossible for me to make both ends meet. Above all, I was hit below the belt. I said I was not prepared to be demoted. I requested him to forward my appeal against the patently unjust order. He readily agreed.

All the while what was puzzling me was why Baba was tantalizing me like this. Of course, learn I did, though it took me long years to do so, that MUTE AND HUMBLE SUBMISSION TO HIS WILL IS THE ONLY RULE FOR A PEACEFUL LIFE. But then, still being raw, I became desperate. As muuch so on reaching home, to the astonishment of my wife kamala, and to my own shame later on, I hit Him with my fist, the glass of the frame fracturing and cutting my fist into the bargain. I gave Him an ultimatum, so to say, to see through my appeal, or else! I sat down before Him and wrote it out in the strongest language possible telling the people at the NHQ about their ineptitude, cussedness, inability to take a decision in the first instance, and causing untold misery to an appointee to cover up their administrative inefficiency.'

Mr. Brooker's face went red on reading the appeal. He glowered at me and demandd to know whether I called it an appeal and, whether I expected him to forward it to the NHQ. I told him that Britishers were still at the helm and, since they were not playing the game but hitting me below the belt, I expected him, as an Englishman, to come to my rescue. He immediately cooled down and volunteered to send it adding, "The worst that can happen to me is that, they can terminate my contract, according to which I have still a year to go. Well, I can always go back to my job home. So, here goes! "It was a stinker all right. I bided my time keeping my fingers crossed. Before a week had passed came a reply cancelling the adverse letter and regretting the inconvenience caused to me.

No long after, a new technical department called the Directorate of Naval Armament Inspection was formed. As there was no age bar for this, Mr. Brooker, sensing a possible recurrence of trouble for me on this score, put me up as a candidate, and I was selected again as an act of Baba's grace. The emoluments were higher. Baba had steered my course clear of the sharks and shoals of jealous intrigues and administrative objections. Baba, in His Infinite Mercy, wished to spare me further suffering. Hence it was He had created so many obstacles and diverted my course in a totally unexpected manner to perfect safety. IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT MAN IS HIS OWN ENEMY AND OFTEN COMES IN THE WAY OF GOD TO DO GOOD TO HIM. It took me a long time, indeed decades, to sense this fully and cease to be like a wayward and naughty child of an indulgent father, and learn 'to be content to remain where and what you are according to His will. The truth is one can be happy only when one,

"To God doth late and early pray

More of his grace than gifts to lend,

And entertains the harmless day

With a religious book or friend.

Such man is freed from servile bands

Of hope to rise or fear to fall,

Lord of himself though not of lands,

And having nothing, yet hath all".

("A Happy Warrier" by Sir Henry Wotton)

Glory be to Shi Shirdi Sai - Grace be to all





This pertains to my totally unexpected selection as an Ammunition Supervisior in the newly-formed Directorate o Naval Armament Inspection of the Royal Indian Navy in 1949 in the face of normally insurmountable obstacles. To begin with, I was already 43, an age, as a rule, a disqualification for fresh entrants to a brand - new Government department. Further, I had not touched ammunition even with a barge­pole till then. So, I was pleasantly surprised to find my name topping the list of successful candidates. No doubt, it was in accordance with Baba's "aagna".

Presently, I came to know that we would be required to go to U.K. for training. My immediate reaction was against it for reasons of health. It was quite baffling to me why, in His Inscrutable wisdom, Baba had led me on to this job not withstanding my inability to go abroad of which, as 'Sarvantaryaami', He must be fully aware.

I was, however, sustained by a blind faith. IS NOT "FAITH TO BELIEVE WHAT YOU DO NOT SEE AND THE REWARD OF THAT FAITH IS TO SEE WHAT YOU BELIEVE", IN THE GOLDEN WORDS OF ST.AUGUSTINE. About two years passed thus. It chanced that the British Technical Assistant, one Mr. Mordy, was invalided and flown to the U.K. Usually, they call for a replacement from the Admiralty. To my surprise, I found myself as the defacto. Tech. Asst. and being tacitly accepted as such by my immediate boss, a dyed-in-the-wool Britisher named Smith.

Yet, I was not out of the Woods At long last, Maj. Priestly; of the Royal Marines, the Director, had managed to obtain the sanction of the Govt. of India to send the first batch of four candidates to the U.K. and one fine day, erelong my passport arrived. As Mr. Smith took and reached it across the table with congratulations, I involuntarily recoiled from it. I somehow managed to blurt out, "I am not touching it, Mr. Smith!" He was stunned. I added, "You see, the fact is I never wanted to go to the U.K. and am not going. I have been guilty of an act of dishonesty in not having confessed it at the beginning. It is high time you wrote and told the Director everything, come what may!" He looked bewildered. He seemed to think I was talking through may hat. So, in a gentle manner he told me, "Listen, don't say anything to me now. Take the car and go home. We shall talk over it tomorrow." "Look here Mr. Smith", I replied "This is not a sudden decision. Only, I am two years late in announcing it." I felt greatly relieved, as if a heavy burden weighing me down had been taken off; but I felt more insecure about my position. Only the undercurrent of my faith in Baba sustained me.

The next day when Mr.Smith saw me reiterating my refusal, he set about much against his will to write and explain the predicament to Maj. Priestly, rather going out of the way to safeguard my position. He wrote that I already knew the ropes and my not going to the U.K. should not be allowed to come in the way of may future prospects. I, no doubt, knew in my heart of hearts that Baba was behind all this, though nothing could yet be said how things would finally turn-out.

Maj. Priestly was wild with rage. He wrote a stinker addressed to me saying that "In spite of the uniformly glowing tribute to the brilliant record of your work in the department, I shall most regretfully, be obliged to downgrade you in view of your unwillingness to go to the U.K. for training. If you are not prepared for this, you may seek your future elsewhere." I felt overwhelmed.

After reaching home, as I went in still in a daze and my eyes fell upon Baba, I broke down and began sobbing out my heart to Him. My wife; Kamala, whose single-minded devotion to Him is like a steady flame in the face of all the winds that blow" came near and said, "what has happened that you are crying like this? My woman's instinct tells me that nothing untoward will be fall us. Why fear when Baba is with us?" I read out and explained the letter of Maj. Priestly to her. To my astonishment she stood her ground without being perturbed in the least by the letter nor by my gloomy forebodings of impending doom. Rather, she turned round and poohpoohed the very idea. "Afterall, who is Priestly to make or mar us?" she demanded to know. "It is the prerogative of Baba only and Baba alone. Priestly has only held out a threat. How long will it take for Baba to make him change his mind? We know how the District Magistrate of Ahmednagar, an Englishman, not knowing he was acting under the inspiration of Baba whom he had never seen, scrapped his earlier judgement even without looking at the appeal memo and orally pronounced a fresh order acquitting the appellants falsely implicated at first. What Baba Himself has given, no power on earth can take away." These, indeed, were inspired words now being uttered by one by nature given to just a few mild words of assent and quite foreign to dialectics or harangue. They stirred my blood and revived my dying hope. Here I may add that I have had ample proof, since, as on so many previous occasions (as, for example, when he granted 'Saakshaatkaaraa' and revived my dead son, coming again the next day, being Thursday, conferring unique good fortune on my wife Kamala of serving a full to Him; similarly, upholding her firm faith when He made my dumb son speak in a split second) that He has always been specially gracious to her and, incidentally, to me, a doubting Thomas.

The next morning, I went to the office with a new-found courageous and poise. The moment I stepped in, the attendant told me that there was a telegram received a little while ago on the table. I casually opened it, and was taken aback to find it was from Maj. Priestly. It read, "Withdraw my letter to Mr. Ramaswami-personally coming by the first flight". I was both thrilled and stunned at the way things were happening. How correctly my wife had forecast it; When Mr. Smith arrived, I just handed him the telegram without a word. On reading it he was absolutely floored. However, in an impassioned manner, he told me" I know he is coming in person to persuade you. Do be a good lad and agree to go. Else, I shall be badly let down." Soon Maj. Priestly came. Even as he was stepping in, he was asking with obvious impatience, "where is Mr. Ramaswami?" He was a tall, hefty, blue-eyed Scot with a noble mien, a truly imposing personality. I could see he was greatly upset. "I am here, sir," I managed to say, though highly tensed

Maj. P. "Do you know why I have come Mr. Ramaswamy?"

I "I don't actually know why you have come. Sir, but, I have my own guess why you must have come, You see, Sir..."

Maj P. No, Mr. Ramaswami! he flared up. "YOU CAN'T. HOW CAN you guess when I myself did not know that I was to come. Something MYSTERIOUS has happened! that is why I have come".

The word "mysterious" made my bloodd tingle confirming beyond all doubt that BABA HAD TAKEN OVER COMMAND! "You know", he continued, it has taken me two long years to get the 'all clear' to send you chaps to the U.K. for training. But, you upset all my plans. HOWEVER, ALMOST IMMEDIATELY AFTER POSTING MY LETTER, SOME HIGHER-UPS IN THE FINANCE MINISTRY PHONED ME TO SAY THAT THE BUDGET FOR SENDING TRAINEES TO THE U.K. IS CUT DOWN BY 25% SO THAT I CAN SEND ONLY THREE NOW ALTHOUGH THE SANCTION FOR THE FOUR POSTS IS LEFT AS IT IS. THAT MEANS YOU ARE NOT TOUCHED. I CAN'T UNDERSTAND THIS AT ALL.

I could no longer contain myself. I cut in to say, "Sir, I beg you to let me speak. You say something MYSTERIOUS has happened. You know, Sir, it is exactly for some such thing to happen that my heart has been crying out to my God. And if it had not happened, it would be mysterious to me. Sir, may I say without any breach of decorum that you are not the arbiter of my destiny. There is SOMEONE to arbiter yours as well as mine." The words spontaneously gushed out. I now know that it was Baba prompting me. Striding up to my side of the big table around which we were all standing, Maj. Priestly grabed my shoulder and, looking me straight in the face, exclaimed with some asperity, "You have the audacity and the courage to say that to my face, Mr. Ramaswami!"

"It is neither, Sir", I replied calmly, returning his look. "For, devotion to Baba enables one to acquire the freedom from fear to stare the world in the face even if it should have blood-shot eyes/ It is a conviction born of faith transmitted to me in the blood from generation to generation and crying for expression."

Still holding my shoulder he said, " You seem to challenge my faith in God, too!"

"As a Britisher, you can't understand my faith, sir,” I said "You trust God and keep your powder dry!" mine enables me to be unarmed without any rear. It is not a half, way house but complete surrender with complete protection in return."

He suddenly softened. Relaxing his hold and pattinq me gently on my back he remarked, "AH right, all right. I can see you are sincere. Though for the time being your position appears to be safe, let me warm you it may not be so for long. I am going back by the return flight to see the Defence Minister and tell him that I must have four U.K. trained men to being with and the cut must be restored. If I succeed as I hope to, you will have to go down."

"I have no qualms about it now, sir," I said. "If you succeeded. I shall bear no ill-will against you. God bless you".

"For a man in your predicament, it is, indeed, a grand thing to say. Good-bye", the great man concluded, kindling in me warm admiration and regards for his openness and magnanimity.

How wonderfully Baba solved the bristling problem without embarrassment to any one concerned will now be seen. As soon as Maj. Priestly reached Delhi, some mysterious, though not serious, illness overtook him, and he was air-lifted to the U.K. We were happy to know later that it did not take long for him to become all right, though he chose to terminate his contract to settle down in England.

A committee Naval Armament Officers, satisfied with the standard of my performance, recommended to the Naval Headquarters about my competence to continue in the department without any need for further training.

Thus, what threatened as a Himalayan avalanche, vanished in to time through Baba's grace like the morning mist before the rising Sun.

Glory be to Shri Shirdi Sai - Grace be to all



The facts herein set down clearly demonstrate how one's absolute surrender to Baba blesses one with his infinite and never failing grace which in turn generates all the noble qualities like honesty and courage-honesty to confess one's errors, come what may, and courage to constitute oneself into a majority of one and stare the world in the face, even if it should have, blood-shot eyes! And by no means the least gratifying aspect of the situation is that in the final analysis such a one is seen invariably to come out unscathed, the so-called copy-book maxims incarnating themselves into little giants so to say, and forming an effective bodyguard.

My appointment in the Naval Armament Inspectorate, Khamaria as Examiner-in-charge of the manufacture of various components for a particular defence item involved meticulous planning and provisioning of high-precision gauges to be used at various stages. Since we were embarking upon the job for the first time in India, we had to obtain the blue-prints for the purpose from the British Admiralty. They were in the from of one single schedule catering for the different marks in use including the one being made by us. My boss Lt. Cdr. Rodney Todd by name, trained in England, was quite conversant with the practical aspects of the work. Nevertheless, he left the whole thing to me, both because he felt I could do it and it was the best way for me to learn. The result was I Bungled. Instead of confining my-self to the Particular mark in view, I prepared a demand for gauges for all the marks as given in the schedule. Quite a few of them had to be made in England, Since such sophisticated technology for making the special steel and achieving -the Precision was not then available with us. And so, the list as Prepared by me was forwarded and went through different

channels at higher levels without anyone detecting the grievous error.

None of us was wise to the ignominious blunder, least of all myself. It is difficult to imagine what sleepless nights of anxiety and fear of impending doom would otherwise have held me in thrall. For, as will be seen presently, my huge

mistake was to cost to the government quite an unnecessary loss of a few lakhs of rupees. This came to light only during the visit of a high-ranking Naval Officer sent to review and report on the progress we were making. While going through

the records, he was taken aback to find that we had ordered for so many guages not required for our purpose and he was in a towering rage. He was closeted with my boss whom he squarely took to task for such sheer incompetence amounting

to criminal negligence putting the government to the loss of a sizeable amount. What explanation had he to offer for such a disgraceful lapse? And so on.

Sitting in the adjacent room where I could heat everyghing, I felt as if I were the target of the 'slinge and arrows of the outrageous' insults sought to be heaped on thehead of my boss since the actual blame lay at my door. The impact on me of the realisation of the grave magnitude of my stupid error was stunning. I felt the need for courage to speak out the truth. After all, courage and honesty are not

things to be put on the shelf, to be used when convenient.

They should be the rules of life. Baba sees to it that it is so if one avoids trying to deceive oneself and Him into the bargain.

Further, this would not be the first time when an unreserved confession of truth had steered me clear through "the sharks and shoals" of life's ocean. So, nerving myself up and invoking Baba's grace for my aid, I went and knocked for

permission to enter. I went in begging to, be excused for the breach of decorum in thus intruding but nevertheless requesting to be heard. Surprise and annoyance writ large his face, the officer from the NHQ demanded to know what the dickens I meant. I said the statement I wished to make would explain everything. I could see he was arresting his inclination to tell me to get out and asked with obvious jmpatience, "Yes, what, do you wish to say?" "Just one thing

sir. I said, "and that is, the responsibility for this unfortunate state of affairs is primarily if not solely mine. Hence, it is I that should take the choking".

This momentarily nonplussed him. Presenlty he asked me authoritatively, "Who is running the show here, Rodney or you?'.

"No doubt, he runs the show, sir, "I replied," but may I point out that situation de facto is that he has to take my word for granted for the purpose. This is the first occasion when he has had to regret it."

The officer's mood suddenly changed, he seemed a bit overwhelmed by the unexpected turn things were taking. He calmed down, rang for a chair and asked me to sit down.

"Now that you own up responsibility for the sorry mess", he continued, "will you please say how it, happened and why?"

"Pure ignorance, sir," I said. "That I can see what a blithering idiot I was, though I acted in good faith. However, I arn not asking for any leniency. I plead guilty to the charge if what is tantamount to criminal negligence1'.

Silence reigned in the room for a minute or so. Collecting himself, the officer exclaimed, "Well, I don't know what to do with you, Mr, Ramaswami! You have so frankly owned up the error for which you alone are not responsible. That calls for the frankness on my part too. I myself was guilty of having committed such blunders when young. "Then, turning to my boss, he continued, "The only thing to do now is to forget the whole affair. A few lakhs are nothing to he government. We need honesty. I shall recommend for the loss to be written-off".

"You can go, Mr, Ramaswami, thank you." He concluded.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I realised the full significance of the dramatic manner in which acting in a split second as He always does, Baba had turned the tables to retrieve my position.

Glory be to Shri Shirdi Sai - Grace be to all



" A breath can make them, as a breath has made"

- Goldsmith

How my tense confession and readiness to take the whole blame upon me for the technical blunder jointly committed by my boss Lt.Cdr.Todd and myself won for me the spontaneous approbation of Cdr Rao has been narrated in a previous article. More pleasant surprises yet were to follow. After the visitor had left, my boss called me and said with feeling that I need not have taken the full brunt upon me. I replied that it would be less than honest if I had not. However, the reason for calling me was different. It was to tell me that Cdr. MRA Rao, (who had visited us) was greatly impressed with me and would like to take me on this staff on promotion., if I could be spared. He was however, informed that this matter should be put up to me since nothing could be anticipated about my action. The fact was I had willy-nilly establisghed a reputation for having my own way by first refusing to be deputed to the U.K. and later turning down an offer of promotion elsewhere.

Before long, the Cdr. paid an unscheduled visit to our unit and was to leave the next day. no reference was made to my intended promotion. At about seven next morning as I was scurrying to get ready, there was a knock, Imagine my surprise and embarrassment for being dishevelled when contrary to all expectations, I found the Cdr. In full Navy-blue uniform with golden strips denoting his rank on the shoulders and around the sleeves standing full six feet murmuring an apology. Welcoming him in, I hurriedly dressed myself and came with coffee for both. It was December,1956. We were standing in the front room before Baba's portrait in standing posture with the 'biksha-patra' (in which pose

he appeared to revive my dead son and accept 'biksha') Broaching the subject in a gingerly manner, he said he had not actually planned the visit but came on an impulse to talk in private on a personal matter concerning me in which he too was interested. Incidentally, he wondered how I managed to carry on without a scooter. If I liked, he would see I got one alloted from the defence quota on priority basis and sanction the necessary loan for it too, a coveted possessionin the '50s. I realised how when Baba wants to give, He does so with many hands from many unknown channels. At the same time there rang a bell in my mind reminding me this could be Baba's subtle method of testing me. Also, I am by nature averse to sudden luck out of tune with my standards. I just thanked him and said I was born to be a plebeian and pedestrian. Reverting to the purpose of his visit, he said it was to know my reaction to his proposal to take me on his staff on promotion in the Senior inspectorate of Naval Armaments, Cossipore, Calcutta. I was overwhelmed by the gesture and the realisation that Baba was behind it all. It was extraordinary that a high ranking officer elects to go and see quite a junior member of the service to ascertain his action about something of positive benefit to the latter. It would be too good to be true, were it not for Baba again and again making the incredible come to pass. It is these thoughts that overwhelmed me and tears began running down my cheeks. Of course, I must confess that my attitude to life is feminine besides.

The officer was taken aback. "I am sorry if I have hurt your feelings, Mr. Ramaswami", he said with obvious concern, adding "don't you want promotion?"

"No sir, you have not hurt me. I am overwhelmed by your gesture and the infinite mercy of Baba," I replied "As regards my wanting promotion or anything else for that matter, I really don't know what I want. It is upto Baba to give me what he deems fit. Hence, I would rather don't like you to go out of the way to-do me a good turn. I don't wish to be the cause of some one else thus losing his change either." Baba generally enables me to decide on intuition in such circumstances. I also felt that Calcutta was not for me, promotion or no promotion.

"It would not be like that," he rejoined. "The reason why I wish to have your consent in advance is to enable me to fix up a bungalow for you. You know how difficult it's to get a good accommodation." "I beg of you to leave things as they are," I said. The reason is my conviction born of firm faith in Baba and sustained by continuous experience that he is ever watchful of my needs and know WHEN as well as WHAT to give. What is due to me, no power on earth can hold back. All I need to have is patience. I am quite content to remain where and what I am according to His will".

It was the officer's turn now to be overwhelmed. Taking my hands in his and speaking with feeling and a new born conviction, as it were, he said, "I think you are right. Let us leave it to your Baba to decide. I thought I had known you for what you are. But I now see I was wrong. I am just beginning to know you. I only wish I had your attitude to life. You don't know how miserable I am, Mr. Ramaswami", and stopped, overcome with emotion.

Forgetting the wide gulf separating our ranks not only officially but socially too, (for I had come to know he was a scion of Serboji Maharajah of Thanjavur) I hugged him, throwing discretion to the winds and drawn to him by sheer brotherly love and sympathy. He had wealth, rank and position and yet happiness eluded him. I had heard he was involved in legal proceedings for separation from his English wife whom hehad married in England nor was he left at peace in the

service by jealous superiors determined to score him off. Such is life that we have to learn to be happy by counting our own blessings vouchsafed to us by Baba. My heart went out to him and I made bold to say, "Sir, I feel that from today Baba has come into your life. Please, do learn to have faith in Him and let Him take over your burdens. All will be well". Being much older, I blessed him heartily. He thanked me with feeling and rather startled me by saying he would soon be leaving the Navy and that was the reason why he wanted to ensure my promotion in good time. However, he had no qualms about it now, with Baba to look after me. As for me I was least concerned about it. My heart sang Baba's praise for bringing me close to a person worth his weight in gold. Before taking leave, he very considerately added, "I shall be in touch with you. My help will always be available for finding a good berth for you if your service is not extended. Don's hesitate to write to me".

As is to be expected with Baba, He saw to it that Cdr Rao became a happy man. He found cannubial bliss afresh, with a Maharashtrian lady and was picked by the oerlikons, a Swedish firm, as their Technical advisor on a five figure salary at Delhi. Promotion came seeking me unasked and in the same manner my service was spontaneously extended for five years. All I did was "to work and to wait", not caring for the morrow, " heart within and God over head."

Glory be to Shri Shirdi Sai - Grace be to al!



The following occurrence took place in the Winter of '57 or '58, It concerns a friend of mine, Shri A.K. Kumthekar by name, aged about 40 at that time and employed as an Asst. Foreman in the Inspectorate of Armaments in the ordinance Factory at Khamaria, Jabalpur. He was a highly principled brahmin hailing from Pune greatly devoted to his parents. His first concern in life was about his aged and bedridden father and he could not think in terms of living away from the old gentleman leaving him to be looked after by others. It was in these circumstances that one fine morning his boss, a hard-boiled Lt. Col. notified him to be ready to go and attend an 18 week Senior Armament Examiner's Course at Kirkee, Pune.

The above order acted as a bomb-shell on Shri Kumthekar and he found himself in a quandary. For one thing, the passing of the Course was in the nature of a qualification for promotion and no option was allowed. For another, it would mean being away from his father for the stipulated period or shifting him to and from which would jeopardies his health. So, he put up his request to be exempted from the Course, or alternatively to be transferred to Kirkee on compassionate grounds. He then rushed to me for solace and advice. He was on the verge of tears. He had heard from me many an account of the incredible miracles Worked by Sri Sai Baba in my life and how he came to be the sheet anchor of my existence. I instinctively felt that "Baba's sanction was there in his coming to me and His intercession and protection to enable him to fulfil his filial obligation could be taken for granted. I told him accordingly beseeching him to rest assured that no power on earth could come in the way of Baba's children discharging their duty conscientiously. Only from that moment, he should without question put his faith in Baba knowing Him to be but the incarnation of Datta worshipped by them in their family. These words had the desired effect on him and cleared the gloom of despair away.

Personally I had no qualms about Shri. Kumthekar being enabled to surmount the seemingly insurmountable obstacle in his way for, this was not the first time that I had been impelled, sub-consciously or super-consciously as the case might be, by Baba to hold out similiar guarantees in cases of illness considered to be hopeless but by His infinite Mercy happily ending in complete recovery in due course.

Hardly a week had passed when my friend came to me, with crest, fallen countenance with the Lt. Col.'s reply summarily rejecting his request and peremptorily telling him to obey the order. He was given a week's time to collect the TA and leave the station. He understandably felt that Baba was not acting in his behalf as expected. I, however, was not at all perturbed knowing Baba's inscrutable Wisdom and Methods. I therefore encouraged him to be hopeful. I assured him that not unoften Baba acts in the last split second when all hope disappears. This had some effect and he left.

In the next two weeks I was so completely occupied with the work on hand that I cleanly forgot about the affair. Then one afternoon I rang up my friend's office to know the situation. To my pleasant surprise Shri Kumthekar answered the call. Murmuring some apology, he said he was coming straight to meet me. And so he did. He was sorry he could not see me earlier due to an urgent time-bound assignment, he said.

It seems that submitting to the inevitable, he collected his TA and was planning to travel with the whole family to Kirkee by the end of the stipulated week when to his astonishment, on the evening prior to the day intended for the journey, a letter from his boss was delivered to him cancelling the original order. It left him speechless and overwhelmed at the incredibly wonderful manner in which Baba had acted. The really thrilling part of the whole affair followed the next morning, about 11 AM. As Shri Kumthakar was about to start his meal, a fakir dressed like Baba came and stood at the door. When some coins were offered to him in the usual way, he declined saying he wanted food which was readily given. Accepting it, he gave a small packet of Udhi to Shri Kumthekar asking him to keep it before Datta's portrait, offer 'aarti' and then open it. Accordingly, it was done. When the packet was opened, instead of the Udhi there were five miniature conch shells. Shri Kumthekar hastend back to the door only to find the fakir gone. Only then did it dawn upon his mind that the fakir was none other than Baba himself. The conches were kept as objects of worship.

Glory be to Shri Shirdi Sai - Grace be to all



" / will not try thee beyond thy limit"

- The Bible

One of the drawbacks in my life has been the lack of robust health, though I have taken it as a blessing in disguise because it prevented me from following 'the primrose path of dalliance' and induced me to keep my head well above water. However, I have remained 'a human barometer' very sensitive to heat and cold, and averse to going even on promotion to regions noted for their extremes of temperature. Thus it was that I declined to go on deputation to the U.K., and again when I was asked to go on promotion to Jabalpur in Feb '55, 1 had no hesitation in turning it down much to the embarrassment of the authorities and secret ridicule of my colleagues. In doing so I had not recknoed with the All-knowing and Inscrutable Baba who, as I realised much later, was behind the official move and in the best of my interests too. For one thing, the NHQ did not leave me alone. Letters and telegrams followed in quick succession, both, to persuade me and as thinly veiled ultimatum to oblige me to agree Nevertheless, I was unmoved.

In our office, there was a self-effacing Bengali clerk named Das Babu, a man of few words and quiet efficiency. We had never spoken to each other till then. One day, towards the end of April when I was about to leave, he stood up to draw my attention, and in the gentlest of tones asked somewhat apologetically, "Why not trust God, accept the Promotion and go?'. The words went home to my heart, till then adamant to pleadings and threats. It was as if "the hard rocky surface withstanding the repeated blows of the hammer and crow-bar readily cracked at last at the gentle touch of the tenderest of the roots of a tree to make way for its entry" (Thiruvalluvar) I now realise that Das Babu was the; chosen agent of Baba for the moment. The every next day a very high-ranking officer, friendly disposed towards me, beseached me in the sincerest tones to accept the promotion and go. Baba's method of choosing His messengers is impeccable. I sensed His will and, to the surprise of all, including those secretly indulging in malicious glee till now at my seeming stupidity in refusing fortune's proffered hand, I started for Jabalpur on the evening of May 2nd, much to the delight of the authorities who had been keeping the vacancy unfilled for my sake for three months, quite unusual especially, in the defence department. He who runs can infer from this that what God or Allah or Baba wants to give, no power on earth can take away. The converse is also true.

The next day as my train was leaving Raipur about noon, the Summer began to bare its fangs. It was only a fore-taste of its fierceness further on. I began regretting the decision I had impulsively taken, not withstanding an inward recognition of Baba's Omnipresence and Grace as 'Bhaktha-Paraadina'. The thought of abondoning the whole venture sneaked in. In this perplexed frame of mind, I reached Gondia at 4 pm, only to be greeted by scorching hot winds hitting the face. By 6 pm I was sitting rather bewildered in the compartment of the narrow-guage train for jabalpur completely at a loss. Baba alone could and must retrieve the situation, I felt and closed my eyes, half in prayer and half in despair.

Imagine my very pleasunt surprise when almost in a split second, as if some built-in-air-conditioner had been swithched on, the suffocatingly hot compartment was permeated with soothing coolness. My astonishment when I opened my eyes to see the sky overcast with clouds and a gentle life-giving drizzle being wafted down. There was ozone in the air. I craned my neck outside the window to gulp it and let Nautre's (Dwaraka Mayi's) own cool spray soothe my nerves.

I turned to the only fellow-passenger in the first class compartment and queried whether he hailed from Gondia, to which he replied in the affirmative, adding he had been residing at the place since over twenty years, engaged in business. I then enquired with some trepidation of a doubting Thomas, whether he could recollect such a phenomenon about this time in May. He asserted with conviction. "Never has such a thing occurred during the two decades of my stay here. This is quite strange". Then I felt certain of Baba's reassurance of which, being feminine in my attitude to life, I was (as I am still) in constant need, in spite of past demonstrations therof.

The climate of Jabalpur is, certainly, one of extremes, the brunt of which was keenly felt by a valetudinarion like me from the sea-coast. The ordeal of confronting the fierce heat of the Summer of 1960 was all the more exhausting since if followed a major surgery I had undergone not long before. Though not fully recovered, I had, perforce to be in my seat and hold the fort due to official exigencies, contrary to my habit of going on leave for the peak of the season every year. At this time we were temporarily accommodated in a building where the toilet room was isolated and a bit far. On the particular day in question the temperature had suddenly shot up. It was so scorching-hot outside the air-conditioned office, that I peeped out many times and retracted.

However, as I am accustomed to do when desperate, I mentally handed myself over to Baba to do with me as He and ventured out. Imagine my surprise, astonishment and wonder, all rolled into one, to find all the glare and searing heat gone, the sun hidden by soft, grey clouds so pleasing the eye, and cool balmy breeze so refreshing to the nerves went and stood in the open letting the honey-heavy drops from heaven fall gently over my head and face making my heart leap and sing the glory of the Ail Merciful Baba, alert at all times to the rescue of His devotees in distress.

Glory be to Shri Shirdi Sai - Grace be to all


If you know about Sai Baba what I know about Him. You will call Him the Master of all creation"

- Meher Baba

The incident herein described bears ample testimony to the above-quoted assertion of Shri Meher Baba regarding Baba's absolute mastery over all creation, animate and inanimate. Indeed, we can realise that in reality the Creator and Creation are one, the latter being but the ocular demonstration of the former. This is in consonance with the latest discovery in the light of the post nuclear research in the frontiers of science according to which all manifested nature is only a phenomenon of throught behind which is The Thinker. This in turn reflects and reiterates the Biblical enunciation regarding the origin of creation viz., "Let there be light" said God and there was light and the Upanishadic axiom viz., "Swayam Samkalpa Sam Siddhi" i.e., God's manifestation in concrete form according to His will. It is as God's incarnation that Baba has repeatedly, both during His Incarnate stay at Shirdi and after His Mahasamadhi, given recurring proof of this divine aspect. As a direct corollary of this, forces of Nature like rain, storm, lightening, fire etc., bowed to his will. The present instance is an example of this.

We celebrated the marriage of our youngest son Dr. V Satyanarayana Sai, now a lecturer in the A.PS. University, Rewa, MP, on April 5, 1981 at Rayagada in Orissa. The other members of the family having dispersed to their respective Places, we were returning to Rewa via Raipur by the morning Passenger train from Waltair on the 7th of the month. We had not known that apart from the inconveniecnes incidental to travelling long distance by passenger train, we were wittingly in for an ordeal. We learnt later that people of the region avoid this train as a rule. The route traverses a tribal area more or less entirely dependent for sustenance on the sale and export of the forest produce without arm middleman by the tribals themselves. The Summer is the season of mangoes and the jack fruit in unbelievable abundance of Nature's bounty which has to be seen to be believed. At every stop came an unending stream of the girijans carrying the maximum possible load of the above items and literally hurling themselves and their burdens helter - skelter through the doors and windows into the compartments nearest to them. No railway control (even if tried) could stem that onslaught, as it were, at any cost. The result was the compartments were literally jam-packed and choking. It was a frightful situation in which one did not have any space to move at all. Even the lavatories were full so that we were obliged with unshed tears to possess our souls in patience till we reached Raipur, a matter of twelve hours of torture since to detrain too was physically impossible.

However, that is not only anticipating things too soon in vain, but also overlooking the terrible ordeal of near annihilation of the compartment in a burst of flames before that. For, this is what happened all of a sudden without any one knowing it.

One of our party consisting of my eldest son, the newly married couple and my wife besides myself, (I think it was the first,) said that smoke was emanating from the fan above, from a few wisps at first, later it suddenly swelled to clouds, slowly filling the entire compartment. It took a little time to realise the potential danger it portended. It was obvious, that there was spontaneous ignition in the wiring possibly due to a short circuit, which if not checked at once would prove dangerous. My son Satyanarayana immediately tugged & the chain to stop to the train. Unfortunately it gave way. We became frantic.

It is imperative to mention here that even in such a situation pregnant with danger, the girijans filling the compartment just continued sitting with their sphinx-like faces, and far away looks, unmoved, unflappable, as if lost in contemplation like 'tapasvins' entrenched in their firm faith that "God is in His Heaven and all is right with the world!" It was an object-lesson for us to understand what it is to trust God in toto, this was what Baba meant when He beseeched His devotees to cast their burdens on Him and keep QUIET letting Him to take care and provide every protection we need. Indeed, it shamed me into knowing how much too far below their standard-in truth how hypocritical-my fickle faith was. Their's was RESIGNATION flowing from complete SURRENDER.

Presently, the train stopped at a station and the guard happend to pass by. When he was told of our predicament and requested for urgent redress, he just remarked with the utmost callousness, "Marjao! (go, die) and passed on as if he were Fate's minion. He clearly smelt of liquor. We had no alternative except to fall back upon our Unfailing Eternal Source of Succour and to pray. Rightly has Dr.Alexis Carrel, the great medical scientist and savant averred, that it is not the Atom that will provide the infinite source of power for the future of the humanity but PRAYER, for, when you pray with all your heart, you are linked to that DYNAMO THAT SPINS the Universe.

The All-Merciful and solicitous Baba ever on the alert as Bhaktha Paraadina did come to the rescue in a most unexpected and dramatic manner before despair complete by overwhelmed us. In a spilt second, the skies darkened with gathering clouds and there began a downpour which continued for over an hour, lashing on all sides, partly floooding the compartment and completely smoothering out the smoke and the threatened configuration!

Glory be to Shri Shirdi Sai - Grace be to all





Being both constitutionally and temperamentally inclined to remain where and what I am, I did not, at first, agreed to be sent to Kirkee for an 18 week course of training in Armaments from October, 1955. I was then working as Leading Examiner of Naval Armaments at Vishakapatnam. Ordinarily, such an attitude will not at all be countenanced in the department. However, having been enabled by Baba to make by mark, I was allowed a certain latitude. Moreover, it was primarily intended for Armament Examiners in the Army, and they had offered to entertain just two of us as guest-candidates from the Navy. Hence, I was not pressed further.

Some days later, while reviewing the situation, it occurred to my mind that Baba's hand was behind it all, that He was providing an opportunity for me to visit Shirdi, not far from Kirkee, Pune. Here it should be noted that ever since his advent into my life in 1942, 1 had no chance to visit Shirdi. Nevertheless, I believed in every word of His, as recorded by H.H. Narsimha Swamiji, that He is with us at all times wherever we may be and whatever we may be doing. This belief became a certainty, when in March '44, He manifested Himself with the biksha-patra, took biksha and brought my firstborn son back to life, So, for us Dwaraka Maayi where we were and continues to be so.

As far as our visiting Shirdi is concerned, it is entirely n His hands, notwithstanding all our effort or none for that Jitter. Thus, an amount I had set aside to cover the intended roily-trip to Shirdi found its way to other uses, and now withhout the least effort, He was bringing about my visit. This was borne out by the fact that none was deputed from the Navy for the future courses. When this realisation dawned upon my mind, I forthwith backed out of my earlier stand and expressed my willingnes to go to Kirkee. I confessed I was keen because of the Shirdi visit rather than the course which somewhat annoyed my boss. So, I went. Candidates from different establishments and disciplines, not a few of them quite brilliant, had come. Diwali was approaching, and I decided to utilise the two holidays for the Shirdi visit. One day, as was my habit, I was telling some of my colleagues about the Infinite Benevolence of Baba in granting the wishes of any one approaching Him. Two of them, specialised in metallurgy, named Sri Soni and Sri Choudhary, hailing from Kanpur and Katni, respectively, asked me whether I meant what I said without exaggeration. On my categorical assertion that I did, they believed me and agreed to accompany me to Shirdi. The former, and the younger of the two, wanted that he should marry the girl he loved greatly. The latter's wife was long overdue for her delivery, and he was feeling restless on this account. I had no hesitation in assuring them that they could rest assured of favourable and good news awaiting them on our return. They were impressed, and we three reached the sacred place at about 7.00 pm on the Diwali day, 1955.

The place was literally jam-packed with pilgrims - men, women and children - obliged here and there to camp on the roadside. The dormitories and some of the present buildings were yet to come up. However, on my explaning to the management that I belonged to Waltair and was closely associated with the late Sri Durgiah Naidu who had pioneered the effort to build guest-cottages at Shirdi and was familiar to them, we three were generously accommodated in the storeroom. Rather an extraordinarily kind gesture!

The first thing I did after depositing our things was to no to the meals counter to buy tickets, when I was admonished by Shri Soni that "our first priority is Baba's darsan and not food". But I had no qualms about it knowing that Baba knew my heart. I was aware of Baba's approval for a spiritual trio like me of the Upanishadic dictum; 'Annam Brahma' (Food is God). Be that as it may, after darsan and food, we went to listen to the Kirtan at the Samadhi mandir. On entering, my glance fell on a woman's attractive face. Was it mere chance or Baba's method of testing? I went out and came back to the room. After all, one spot is as holy as another at Shirdi, I felt, even as any part of a thing made of sugar-candy tastes as sweet.

The next morning, by the time I bathed and came for Baba's darsan, there was already a long queue of devotees with trays loaded with flowers and offerings of different kinds. Only then was I somewhat shamed into realising I was empty handed. I then went to the bazar and after buying things for 'naivedya' besides a garland and just one rose in bloom, returned and took my position. When compared with the huge garlands smothering, as it were, the samadhi and costly offerings made by others, I felt like a beggar at the royal Darbar.

At last, my turn came. With some trepidation, I lifted the tray to give it to one of the priests. Luckily for me, the young man in charge of the stores happening to stand by Baba's statue, recognised me. Possibly sensing the discomfiture in my thoroughly humbled countenance, rather impelled by Baba Himself, he reached out for the garland and the rose, put the garland round Baba's neck till then unadorned, and placed the rose on His Head! I felt accepted. Tears of gratitude overwhelmed me.

On reaching Kirkee the same night, the joy of my two companions knew no bounds to find a telegram and a letter carrying good tidings awaiting them, one announcing Smt Choudhary's safe delivery and the other from Sri Soni' parents ratifying the match of his own choice!

Note : Sri Soni later joined the Bhilai Steel Plant, was deputed to Russia for training and attained high status, while Sri Choudhary joined the I.A.F as Technical Adviser (Metals).

Glory be to Shri Shirdi Sai - Grace be to all


"I will not let my devotees to come to harm........And, if a devotee is about to fall, I stretch out my hands to support him, and thus with four, (i.e. a number of) outstretched hands at a time save him"

- Baba's Charters & sayings, edited by H.H.B.V.Narsimha Swami

The above charter of Baba granted for all time by Him during His Incarnate stay at shirdi is continuing to find fulfillment both materially and spiritually. Two instances of how. He averted imminent danger to life are being narrated here. Sometime during 1978, I developed what is known as periartharitis in my right shoulder-join for which there is no cure in allopathy. One afflicted with it, cannot move the affected limb beyond a limited latitude without being subjected to excruciating pain. The only treatment to be had is physiotherapy which, for this particular ailment, at any rate, happens to be an euphemism for third degree torture as far as the patient is concerned! for example, in a case like mine involving the arm, one exercise is for the person concerned to rotate a big wheel hinged to a pinion with a handle and fixed vertically above shoulder-level, which can be done only by stretching up the arm fully for every revolution, bringing tears to the eyes for sheer pain. I underwent this gruelling ordeal for over a month withuot any improvement. During this period, I had to commute to and from the hospital by bus almost always overcrowded. One day, while getting out, rather being squeezed out, as it were, through the human mass blocking the way and °verflowing the entrance, I was swept back by the in rushing mass just as I was stepping out but before my feet could touch the ground. The result was that I found myself wedgedin mid-air, my hands stuck,to my sides, in the midst of bunch of men on the footboard on one side and those desperately hanging on to whatever thy could hold on to precariously on the other. I had nothing to hold on to nor foothold! I was in such a fright as one caught between receding and onrushing waves. Now, the bus began to move. Any one around me moving forward or back would have spelt my doom by forcing me to drop down and be injured seriously if not fatally.

I was reminded of David Livingstone describing his feelings when he was caught in the jaws of a lion in Africa. He knew what was happening, but "Nature, a mother kind alike to all" had numbed his senses, like the spinal anesthesia before a surgical operation. My condition was similar. Then the miracle happened. A hand from outside, forcing its way through the surrounding mass of human sardines, dragged me out forcefully. I staggered on to the ground half-dazed. I found my saviour to be a young man. Before I could collect my senses to thank him for saving me from the impending danger, he had disappeared in the moving crowd making my search futile. I have no doubt that it was Baba incognito. Who else could have seen through the human wall and so unerringly caught hold of my arm and pulled out in a split second before it was too late!

I decided that I had had enough of this treatment which was proving worse than the endurance of the trouble.

Impelled by Baba, I am sure, I resorted to hot fomentation with salt crystals and the use of Udhi with progressive improvement leading to cure. In retrospect, I have no doubt in my mind that, through such varied and intensive suffering, Baba made me expiate for my 'Runaanubandha' to grant redress when I had thus paid for it. Even then it was a rare blessing, because I know many persons having to carry the cross of this afflication for life.

The second instance is this. After getting into a bus in the city to reach our area, I learnt it was a wrong one. My wife was with me. Immediately, I asked her to get down and followed close behind. As she put one foot down, the bus began to move. I did the stupidest of things in the circumstances. I gently pushed her as if pushing her to her doom. She tattered, and would have fallen headlong but for a good Samaritan, I saw close-by who caught her arm and held it till she steadied herself, and went away. Meanwhile some one shouted to the driver to stop, and I too got down. My wife was quite shaken. While feeling grateful to Baba for having averted a great danger, I told her what I saw and said, "Thank Baba for sending a person in the nick of time to save you from a fall". "There was none by my side to help me", exclaimed my wife, somewhat mystified, adding, "I didn't see anyone, nor feel someone holding me by the arm!" It was my turn to be mystified, because it was so clear to me that some one did stand there gripping her arm and preventing her fall. Who else could it be but Baba Himself, the Bhakta Paraadina in the form of a stranger!

Glory be to Shri Shirdi Sai - Grace be to all
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