By Life Positive October 2003 As you enter the modern town of Puttaparthi it is difficult to believe that it was once a sleepy village tucked away amongst the silent hills. Baba`s Tenfold Path to Divinity1. Treat as sacred the land in which you were born. Be patriotic, but do not criticize other nations or put others down-not even in your thoughts. 2. Respect all religions equally. 3. Recognize the brotherhood of man; treat all as brothers; love all. 4. Keep your house and surroundings clean, for this will promote hygiene and health and will help you. 5. Practice charity but do not encourage beggars by giving money. Provide them food, clothing and shelter and help in other ways (do not encourage laziness). 6. Never give or take a bribe. Never give in to corruption. 7. Curb envy and jealousy, expand your vision and outlook, treat all equally regardless of caste or creed. 8. Try and do as much as possible by yourself. You may be wealthy and have servants who can help, but service to society must be done yourself. 9. Cultivate love for God and fear and hatred for sin. 10. Never go against the law of the land. Be an exemplary citizen. So Says Baba The previous avatar, Shirdi Baba, laid the base for secular integration and gave mankind the message of duty as work. The mission of the present avatar is to make everybody realise that the same God or divinity resides in everyone. People should respect, love, and help each other, irrespective of colour or creed. Finally, Prema Sai, the third avatar, will promote the view that not only does God reside in everybody but also that everybody is God. That will be the final wisdom that will enable every man and woman to go to God. Even the hardest heart can be softened so that the Divine can sprout therein. We are trying to discover God, searching for this throughout the universe. But we omit to investigate his existence within ourselves as the very core and keystone of our being. These miracles are merely baits with which I lure the people towards me. Once their faith is firmly established, they begin to look beyond the miracles and slowly start stretching their hands out for what I have really come to give-knowledge and bliss. Desire is a storm, greed is a whirlpool, pride is a precipice, attachment is an avalanche, ego is a volcano. Keep these things away so that when you recite the name of God or do meditation, they do not disturb the equanimity. Where there is righteousness in the heart,There is beauty in the character.When there is beauty in the character, There is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home, There is order in the nation. When there is order in the nation, There is peace in the world. When a son was born on November 23, 1926, to a pious couple, Sri Pedda Venkappa Raju and Easwaramma, there were signs that the destiny of the village would be altered. There are stories of miracles just after the birth, like musical instruments playing automatically and the sighting of a cobra beneath the blankets that did not harm the baby. Since the birth took place shortly after the grandmother had conducted Sathyanarayana puja, the child was christened Sathyanarayana Raju. Sathya had two sisters and a brother. But he was different. Though his family ate meat, he was a natural vegetarian. He had an inclination for selfless service and used to bring beggars home to be fed. His playmates called him `Guru` since he always corrected them. He formed a Pandhari Bhajan group to promote devotional singing. At high school, Sathya shone as a poet, playwright, dancer, scout, sportsman and songster of extraordinary excellence. He also had the power of tracing lost property, reading minds, and seeing the past and the future. He became everybody`s darling and was much sought after by the distressed and the downtrodden. On March 8, 1940, the news spread that a scorpion had bitten Sathya, who seemed unconscious. When he awakened, he appeared to alternate between trance and unconsciousness. He also began chanting and quoting Sanskrit verses and philosophical passages. After the misdiagnosis by doctors, quacks and sorcerers were tried. Sathya endured all the pain, unruffled. Nobody understood then that his `illness` was the result of his first out-of-the-body journey to help a devotee in distress. Baba disclosed later that there was no scorpion sting. On May 23, 1940, Sathya declared that he was Sai Baba of Shirdi come again to save humanity. He asked people to worship him every Thursday. Puttaparthi villagers had never heard of Shirdi Sai Baba before and demanded a sign to prove that Sathya was his reincarnation. Sathya threw jasmine flowers on the floor, which were reported to have spelled out in Telugu: ‘Sai Baba.’ Later, he is said to have appeared as Lord Shiva in the Virupaksha Temple. On October 20, 1940, he made the final declaration of his mission. He deserted school, and declared that he was no longer Sathya but Sai. ‘I am going; I don`t belong to you. Maya has gone; my bhakts are calling me. I have my work, I can`t stay any longer,’ he announced. He moved to the garden in the Excise Inspector`s Bungalow and sat on a rock. People flocked to him with flowers. There he inaugurated the Bhajan tradition by teaching the devotees a song, inviting them to surrender to the Guru`s feet. Sathya became known as Bala Sai or Sathya Sai Baba. Baba returned to Puttaparthi where devotees gathered for darshan. At first a small room was used as Bhajan Mandir. Baba then used to go to the banks of the Chitravathi river to accommodate the ever-growing number of devotees. A tamarind tree that grew on the riverbank became famous as Kalpavriksham as Baba used to pluck all kinds of fruits from it. In 1950, on Baba`s 25th birthday, Prasanthi Nilayam, the Abode of Peace, was inaugurated in Puttaparthi. N. Kasturi writes of the Mandir in Prasanthi Nilayam: ‘It has been the scene of countless transformations of character, revolutions in belief, confirmations of faith, curing of disease, calming of tempers, discarding of hatred, salvaging of souls and reunions of hearts…’ When you sit for dhyana, if you hear one groan, rise and investigate. Helping the person to get rid of the pain gives you more spiritual merit than the dhyana you miss’ It is now the nucleus of the Sai Mission. It speaks eloquently of the divine message of the unity of life, universal concord and harmony through its sculptured angels, humans and animals. The five religious symbols, descending from top to bottom of the walls on each side of the altar in the beautiful central prayer hall symbolise the unity of religions. In 1959, Baba planted a Banyan tree, which is now famous as the Meditation Tree that enhances the progress of those who meditate under it. The architectural marvels of Prasanthi Nilayam and the superspecialty hospitals were designed by Baba himself. The Brindavan Ashram in Whitefield near Bangalore was set up in 1964 where Baba stays during summer. Baba has toured the whole country visiting holy places including Hardwar, Rishikesh, Ayodhya, Kanyakumari and Kashi to rekindle dharma. Baba`s only foreign tour was to Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya in 1968 where devotees thronged his bhajans and discourses. Baba`s books, Prema Vahini (The Stream of Divine Love), Jnana Vahini (The Stream of Eternal Wisdom), Prasanthi Vahini (The Bliss of Supreme Peace), Dhyana Vahini (Practice of Meditation), Dharma Vahini (The Path of Virtue), Sandeha Nivarini (Clearance of Spiritual Doubts), Gita Vahini (The Divine Gospel) and Bhagavatha Vahini (The Story of God and His Devotees) shed light on intricate problems of spiritual discipline. Baba has also composed sweet devotional songs. Divine love in action However, spiritual teachings assume value only when they are practised. Divine love must manifest in selfless service to the suffering humanity. ‘The hands that serve are holier than the lips that pray’, ‘Love all, serve all’ and ‘Help ever, hurt never’ are Baba`s favourite maxims. ‘When you sit for japam or dhyana, if you hear one groan, rise and investigate. Helping the person to get rid of the pain gives you more spiritual merit than the dhyana you miss,’ Baba said once. Baba`s public service projects continue to have extraordinary impact. His educational institutions provide free education, imparting ethical, moral and spiritual instruction. Education in Human Values (EHV) has its roots in the Bala Vikas programme started by Baba in the 1960s. ‘The end of education is character; education is for life and not just for a living,’ says Baba. The state-of-the-art superspeciality hospitals in Puttaparthi and Whitefield, Bangalore, and the general hospitals established by Baba provide free health care and spiritual solace. They are a boon to the poor who cannot afford expensive medical treatment. Similarly, a gigantic multi-crore water project, directed by Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust and carried out by Larsen & Toubro in collaboration with the Andhra Pradesh Government, supplies pure drinking water to drought-prone rural areas of Anantapur, Medak and Mahaboobnagar districts of Andhra Pradesh. The project comes as a boon to 700 villages and over nine lakh people. Another ambitious drinking water supply project is planned for Chennai. The Trust also regularly provides relief during natural calamities and makes available food, clothing and shelter to the poor. Besides, the Trust has been constructing and renovating community halls, schools and temples in villages around Prasanthi Nilayam. Convention centres are established to promote the cultural, moral, and ethical standards of people by conducting symposia, debates and discussions on Indian culture and tradition. The Trust strives to foster national integrity and unity among people by organising cultural festivals, sports, games and competiti
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