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Divine Fortitude

Some one gave information to the worried parents that there was a Sakthi worshipper, before whom no evil spirit dare wag its poison tail! He will cure Sathya perfectly and make him fit to go to school, they declared. So, the bullock bandy was got ready, but the bullocks refused to move! There were all kinds of difficulties on the way, sickness, fever, diarrhea, etc., at last the place was reached and the 'case' handed over to the famous expert in devil-craft.

He was a gigantic figure, terrible to behold, with blood-red eyes and untamed manners. He tried all his craft, sacrificing first a fowl and then a lamb and making him sit in the centre of a circle of blood. He chanted all the incantations he knew. He did not allow the parents to take away the boy, for he assumed that it was a case entrusted to him and that it was a trial of strength between him and his Sakthic feats and the little boy, smiling at his failures! He even attempted desperate techniques, which he dared not experiment even with strong adult patients! For example, he shaved the head of the boy and, with a sharp instrument scored three X marks on the scalp, from the top towards the forehead. Sathya sat through the pain without wilting. He asked later, "Even after seeing all that fortitude and that miracle of a little boy passing unscathed through all that terror, you are not now convinced that I am Baba; how then would you have reacted if I just made the announcement, one fine day? "I wanted to make known that I am Divine Stuff, impervious to human suffering, pain, or joy," He said.

With the scalp injured and bleeding with those markings, the witch doctor poured on the open wound the juice of limes, garlic, and other acid fruits. The parents who were watching the proceedings in utter despair were surprised, for; there was not even a tear, or a gasp of pain from the boy! The Sakthi-worshipper was however furious; he arranged that, everyday for some days, early in the morning, 108 pots of cold water be poured on the markings. That too was done; his armoury was now almost empty. The evil spirit that possessed the boy had not admitted defeat and shouted that it will leave him and go elsewhere! He beat the boy on the joints with a heavy stick to drive out-what he called, 'stag fever' when moved about and 'rock-fever' when he was quiet!

So, he decided to use his strongest weapon, which the toughest spirit cannot withstand, the "Kalikam". This is a magic collyrium, a mixture of the entire acidic abracadabra in the repertory of torture. He applied it to Sathya's eyes and the parents were aghast at the consequence. The head and face swelled beyond recognition; they became red and the burning sensation could be 'felt' even by those who went near. The eyes exuded tears and the entire body shook under the impact of pain. The master of devils was happy that success was in sight, that the spirit would soon take formal leave. Sathya never spoke a word or moved a finger. Those around, especially, the parents and the elder sister felt guilty that they had become helpless onlookers of all this torment. They wept in uncontrollable anguish and tried to console Sathya, without the knowledge of the magician, who did not allow anyone to approach his patient. Sathya was making some signs to them, off and on, asking them to keep quiet. By means of gestures, he told them that he would get out of the room under some pretext and he asked them to be ready for him outside. There he told them to bring a remedy he knew; it was brought and applied to the eyes: the two eyes, which had been reduced to the size of thin slits, opened wide and the swelling subsided!

The 'doctor' was put out by this interference with the normal course of his 'treatment'; he fretted and fumed like a wild animal baulked of its prey. "I was within an inch of victory", he raved. The parents wanted to save the boy from the jaws of that Yama in human form; they had seen and suffered enough. They paid him full fees and also gave some unasked gifts, and thanked him for all the 'learning' he had untilised; they cursed only their fate; they promised to build up the boy's stamina a little more, so that he may stand up to his wonderful course of exorcism and bring him again, for the continuation of his attentions. Somehow, they won! The bullock-bandy moved away from the horror-house. They reached Puttaparthi.

But Sathya was far from 'normal' yet. He seemed another 'personality' frequently; he recited Sthotras and poems far beyond the ken of any teen-aged boy. Sometimes, he evinced the strength of ten; sometimes he was as weak as a lotus-stalk; he argued with adult on the correctness of their conduct and behaviour and put them to shame when he proved them wrong.

Some friend of the family advised that the boy could be taken to a village a few miles off, where a clever quack gave some green leaves as a drug to cure exactly such types of cases. The bullocks were brought; the bandy was ready. Sathya was lifted on to it and the bells started jingling along the fair-weather track. About half an hour later, Sathya seemed to realise that he was being taken somewhere; he said, " I do not want to go anywhere; let us go back", and, lo, the bullocks came to a halt and could not be persuaded, in spite of the most vigorous tail-twisting, to take a single step forward. The struggle went on for over an hour; they refused to budge! Then, their faces were turned homewards and the bells jingled merrily once again.

Sri Krishnamachari, a Vakil friend from Penukonda, heard of these occurrences in the Raju house-hold and came to the village to study the situation and offer what help he could. He had a good look; he pondered long, alone, on the river-bank; then he told Venkama Raju, " It is really more serious than I thought; take him immediately to the Narasimha Temple at Ghatikachalam; that is the last chance". Sathyanarayana heard his words. Suddenly, he turned upon him and said, "Funny, is it not? I am already there at Ghatikachalam and you want to take Me to Me!" The Vakil had no inclination to cross-examine.



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