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Teacher of Teachers             Sacred Past-17

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When he was eight, Sathya was declared ready to proceed to the Higher Elementary School at Bukkapatnam, two and a half miles from Puttaparthi. He had to trudge the distance in hot sun or rain over stony mounds or slushy fields, wading through neck-deep water, as the season dictated. His bag of books would be securely held above his head. He had to start early in the morning after a meal of delicacies such as cold rice and curds or cooked rice and chutney. He trekked regularly to Bukkapatnam with companions, carrying his afternoon meal in a bag.

Sri B. Subbannachar writes in a book published in 1944, "He was my student in the eighth grade. He was a simple, unostentatious, honest, and well-behaved boy." Unostentatious! With what great self-control must Sai Baba have suppressed His manifold divine powers in order that the world might become ready for the Announcement!
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Sri V.C. Kondappa, another teacher, who later revered the student as divine, writes in the same book, "He was very obedient and never spoke more than necessary. Coming early  to school, he would gather the children and install an image or picture in the schoolroom. With the flowers he brought with him, he conducted worship, waved burning camphor, and distributed Grace in one form or another. The boys, gathered around him for the things he 'took' out of his empty bag! When asked about it, he said that a certain 'Angel' obeyed his will and gave him whatever he wanted!"

One of his teachers was personally to experience the force of that "Angel" on one occasion. Sai Baba was generally listless in class, engaged most of the time in what he later described as composing chants and copying them for distribution among his classmates. One day the teacher discovered that Sathya was not taking down the notes he dictated. "He is setting a bad example for the whole class," thought the teacher, and shouted, "All those who are not taking notes, stand up!" Sathya was the solitary culprit and was asked why he was not taking notes. He answered in an innocent and straightforward tone, "Sir why should I take notes? I have understood what you dictated. Ask me any question on it and I shall answer correctly." But the teacher's pride was injured, and the boy must suffer. He ordered Sathya to stand upon the bench and remain standing until the last bell of the day. Sathya obeyed. All the boys hung their heads in sorrow. None of them could feel happy that day sitting down while his Guru was poised uncomfortably upon a bench.

When the hour-bell rang, the teacher for the next class came in. It was Janab Mahbub Khan, who loved and respected little Sathya beyond words. He taught English, and his approach and method were so earnest and appealing that every boy learned every lesson thoroughly. He was an elderly bachelor, and he treated Sathya with a unique affection. (Sai Baba even today extols Mahbub Khan as a highly evolved soul.)

Mahbub Khan would offer sweets and savories to Sathya, enticing him to eat by means of a hundred different artifices. He told Sathya that his house was specially cleansed for the preparation of the food, because he knew Sathya would not eat food having the remotest contact with non-vegetarian dishes. He would say that he had not eaten, as he wanted Sathya to partake of the food first. He would sit quietly for long periods, stroking Sathya's hair and whispering, "Oh, you are a wonderful boy! You will help thousands; you are a great power." 

When Mahbub Khan entered the classroom, he was shocked to find Satyanarayana standing on the bench and the teacher still sitting on the chair. He asked the teacher why he was not vacating the chair for the next class. The teacher whispered that he could not get up because when he tried to get up, the chair, too, rose up with him! The whisper was caught by the boys who quietly laughed at the teacher's plight and said it must be due to Sathya's "Angel." Mahbub Khan also suspected this was so, and suggested that the teacher ask Sathya to come down. The teacher acquiesced. Immediately the chair fell away, and with great relief he moved about unencumbered!

Years later, while relating this story, Baba said that He willed it to be so, not out of anger - for He had no anger in Him - but purely to demonstrate Himself and gradually prepare men's minds for the Announcement of His Mission and Identity.

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