Knows No Pain”
How Baba suffered for a devotee’s
In the December of 1970, Bhagawan travelled
to Panaji, the capital city of Goa stopping enroute in the
town of Dharwar in Karnataka. In Panaji, a strange and mysterious
turn of events took place, which afforded His devotees another
glimpse into His Divine nature. In fact, just prior to this
incident, Prof. N. Kasturi, Bhagawan’s biographer, was
to start for Sri Lanka, as Swami had blessed him earlier to
address the Sai Centres there. But, all of a sudden, Bhagawan
commanded him to cancel his visit and accompany Him to Goa
For what happened next, over to Prof. Kasturi:
At noon the next day, I accompanied Baba
on a circuitous journey to Goa. The three cars moved towards
Jog Falls. As usual, while leaving Brindavan, devotees lined
up on both sides of the road, anxious to get a glimpse of
Baba and to see the Hand waving to them.
It was a Fiat 1500 in which Baba, Mr. N.D.M.
Appah, Chairman, Mysore State Electricity Board, and myself
were traveling. The road was stony and rough, so the drive
was full of jerks and bumps - this caused Baba to reprimand
the driver for not being circumspect enough. "You do
not know how much pain I get in the abdomen when it bumps,"
He said. We wondered why Baba who withstood worse roads better,
was insisting on slow driving that day….
When the cars reached Goa, it was night.
The stars came forth; they came with us, every yard of the
road, keeping pace. When the border of Goa was reached, the
Lt. Governor of Goa, Sri Nakul Sen, received Baba and let
us into a rest house, where china gleamed in the shelves by
the wall and geraniums glistened on the window sills. We had
coffee; from then on Baba sat in the state car, with the head
of the state.
Hurrying around the rambling roads, towards
Panaji (the capital of Goa), the cars finally arrived at Raj
Nivas, the Palace of the Governors-General of the "Portuguese
Possessions in India and the Far East" for many centuries,
but now, the official residence of the Lt. Governor. The time
was 9.15 p.m. We had motored 385 miles, since morning, over
good and bad roads, but Baba as fresh as a lily when He hastened
up the red-carpeted flight of steps to the flower-decked apartments,
set aside for His stay. Very soon, Baba presided over the
dining table to which we were led by the Lt. Governor. He
watched with amusement the contingent of waiters, and the
beautiful chinaware, which the Portuguese had brought from
Though Mrs. Sen made bold to remind Him of
His duty to Himself, He did not eat anything. He appeared
to be anxious to send every one to bed. "Go, go! You
are all very much exhausted," He insisted. I protested
that traveling with Him can never exhaust anyone, but He repeated
that I was really in immediate need of rest. When we rose
Mrs. Sen was informed by Baba that coffee be made ready for
Him only at 8 a.m the next day! She knew that at Prasanthi
Nilayam, He had His coffee at around 6 a.m., but despite appeals
for revising the order, Baba gave instructions that it was
to be brought only at 8 o' clock.
Baba was alone in the suite reserved for
Him. Nakul Sen pleaded for permission to be within call, but
Baba sent Him away to his own room. We from Bangalore were
in rooms on the ground floor.
About what occurred that night, Baba wrote
later to Dr. S. Bhagavantham, in a letter I carried to him
on the 12th December, "On the night of the 7th,
strange events happened. I could not lie in bed, I could not
sit upon it, nor turn, from one side to another. Nor could
I speak or call. I did not like to cause anxiety or trouble
to anyone. So I kept silent, pretending that all was well
Next morning when the Sens grew aware of
the truth it became clear, why He had abstained from dinner,
and postponed the coffee hour, wanting only to hurry away
to bed! I too began to understand why He had come away from
Dharwar, and why He had taken the driver to task. Obviously,
He had been 'ill' when He started out from Dharwar!
Mrs. Sen felt that Raj Nivas was an 'unlucky'
place since He had fallen 'ill' there, but Baba immediately
corrected her. "No, it is a house of good luck!
I brought the 'illness' with Me to Cabo, so that I could get
rid of it here."
By daybreak on the 8th, Baba appeared to
be in great pain and Nakul Sen called in doctors from the
Medical College at Goa, and some leading physicians of the
City. Soon an imposing medical team surrounded the sick bed;
their report read as follows, "history of pain in right
lower quadrant of the abdomen since 3 p.m. on the 7th December.
To begin with, the pain was all over the abdomen, progressive
in intensity; towards the night, it localized in the umbilical
region, and the right lower quadrant. Had difficulty in extending
the right lower limb. Pain is exaggerated by movement. 8th
December morning, had nausea and fever." No one could
be definite about the illness; there were too many experts
and Baba was amused at the clash of their conclusions. The
Sens were aghast at the turn of events for, among other reasons,
the local Sathya Sai Seva Samithi had announced, that He would
deliver a discourse at the large Maidan in the heart of the
city, at 5 p.m. that evening.
Meanwhile, pain, nausea and fever kept Baba
in bed all day. Information came that 20,000 people crowded
the Maidan, awaiting Baba; and half the number had come from
far off villages. Baba endeavoured to rise and don fresh clothes
to keep the appointment, and not disappoint thousands of people.
But Cabo Raj Nivas had no lift; for reaching the Maidan, Baba
would have had to get down 28 steps and walk up some distance
in order to give Darshan to the people. And then, climb the
28th steps back to His room!
Baba directed me to tell the assembly to
disperse quietly, and to assure them that He will be addressing
them in a few days at the same place. I was to tell them that
He had taken over the illness of a devotee, for I had witnessed
such instances of healing and saving in the past years.
At 8 o'clock that night, the doctors reported, "Lying
supine in bed, with legs drawn up. On examination, the right
side of the abdomen not moving with respiration; abdomen tender
on the right side, and the lower flank..., point of maximum
tenderness in lower flank..., no rebound tenderness... guarding
present over right lower quadrant, with rigidity of flank.
Temperature 100o F; pulse 100 /m; respiration 16/m. Total
blood count 22,000; neutrophils 88%. A diagnosis of acute
paracolic appendicitis was made. Unwillingness for surgical
Pressmen approached the doctors, anxious
to report the reason for the postponement of the announced
public meeting, alarmed at the news of the illness of the
world-renowned personality. The doctors told them that Baba
was suffering from an acute attack of appendicitis. This news
was flashed all over India and spread through the early morning
editions and the papers issued from Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta,
Madras, Bangalore and Madurai.
Telegrams and telephone calls poured in from
all over the country, praying and pleading, and denying -
disbelieving, hoping, weeping and wailing. There were many
offers to accept the 'illness' from Baba; some devotees said
they would fast until Baba was free from the illness. Devotees
having firm faith in His Divinity were convinced that just
as the illness had been taken on miraculously, it would be
thrown off miraculously, too.
The doctors told us Baba must be suffering
excruciating pain, but He said, " I have taken
it on upon Myself with Love and Love knows no pain!"’
Ms. June Schuyler, a school teacher who was
accompanying the party writes:
"I had once asked Baba a question, and
I now remembered His answer. 'Baba, why did Jesus allow Himself
to be crucified?'
‘Because the Great Ones never
use spiritual power for themselves.’ Ah! Baba
had not set the car right on Saturday night because it was
not imperative for the good of someone other than Baba. "Baba!
Baba!," I exclaimed, "I adore you; I utterly love
you. Imperfect as I am, I give my heart to you completely!
Precisely at this very moment I became aware
that Mr. Nakul Sen was motioning to Mrs. Rajagopalan, Indra
Devi and myself to step inside the doorway of Baba's room.
I could not believe it was true. We crossed the threshold
half expectant, fixing our eyes on the bedstead where the
Master was suffering for His dear devotee. He was not there!
He was standing before us, feeble and frail, with eyes full
of love and mercy - charming in spite of it all.
He drew back the orange robe, and permitted
us to touch those precious feet. The lovely feet were warm
because of the fever. The beloved face was pale and etched
with pain. The cheeks had been hollowed for want of sleep
and refreshment. But He stood there for our sake.
‘Do not worry’, He said tenderly, in
a soft, soothing voice, ‘It is a little upset,
that is all,’ indicating the right side of
‘Swami! accept what the doctors prescribe,’
we prayed. ‘What do the doctors know? What can
they prescribe? I only want your Love’, He
said, quietly, almost wistfully. He stepped out of the room
into the adjacent drawing room where several others anxiously
waited. He stood for a few minutes, looking languidly, lovingly,
at them all, reassuring the timid and charging them with courage.
Then He returned to the bed. None of us knew that the appendix
was very near bursting point, and the doctors had said that
He must not rise from his bed at any cost."
Later in Bombay, on Christmas Day, Baba referred
to the "illness He had taken on at Goa" and the
suffering it caused to many…
"The other day, a serious illness came upon this
body in Goa. Many who are devoted to Me were plunged into
anxiety and despair when they learnt of it. Illness can never
afflict this Body. It cannot even approach it! If it should
come sometime - believe this - it belongs to someone; not
Myself. And it goes just as it came, of My free Will. I have
no contact with it; I am not affected by it."
On 9th December, the doctors decided to put tubes down the
nose to relieve the hiccough, which was complicating matters,
for taking the gas out of the stomach. They talked also of
the urgent need that had arisen to puncture the lump and syringe
off the pus from the abscess. It must indeed have given a
terrible gash of pain for Baba, every time the hiccough pulled
the muscle tight and affected the lump round the inflamed
appendix! But eventually the doctors left the Raj Nivas with
their tubes and bottles, as Baba refused to accept their proposals.
On the 10th, a Bhajan meeting had been announced
at Government House, and word had gone round indicating that
Baba would attend the meeting! Baba too said "Yes!
Arrange it." The doctors could not believe their
ears. They did not foresee any possibility of a public appearance
that day. There was doubt, wonder and amazement in the minds
of various people, but a few of them were convinced that whatever
He says will come to pass.
At tea time Mrs. Sen looked rather serious,
as time was running out and already people were streaming
towards the meeting place. Goa, which had been previously
shocked by the news of the agonizing illness, was now jolted
by the impact of such good news.
Baba's condition may be described in His
"The doctors were unanimous that an immediate operation
was necessary, or they would not be held responsible for what
might happen. They said the inflamed appendix had burst, and
the pus had entered the blood - a situation that is fatal
for all mortals!"
Baba had to move across His own room, across
the drawing room, walk along the veranda, ascend a low step,
get across to the doorstep of the hall which He had selected
for Bhajan, traverse its length, reach the dais, climb two
low steps - and finally sit upon the chair placed there. A
total distance of 200 feet! A floral carpet stretched all
Sri Nakul Sen spoke later during the Bhajan
sessions. "The doctors became panicky, and I could feel
that they were absolutely against what Bhagawan had said to
me. My sixth sense somehow assured me that Bhagawan was showing
one of His Leelas in Goa and that through His Sankalpa (will)
He would get rid of this trouble as quickly as He had assumed
Dr. Varma, the chief of team of doctors came
at about 4 p.m and finding a floral carpet covering a distance
of 200 feet, protested that it was too long a walk. He suggested
some short cuts through other doors and passages making the
journey a distance of only 40 feet. He said, "The dais
itself will have to go; let the chair be on the floor, for
He cannot get up the steps however low they may be - and please,
have the dais on the near side, not at the farthermost end
of the hall."
At 5 p.m. Baba was led into the bathroom,
and twenty minutes later He came out of it, clean shaven,
wearing a new robe! Fresh as a new blossomed rose.
When the doctors examined Him again, they
could not locate any abscess, nor could they find any trace
of big lump of flesh near it. The whole area of the appendix
was as soft and as normal as it could be.
"Lo and behold!," said Nakul Sen,
in the speech he delivered as soon as Baba sat on the dais
at 6 p.m., "Bhagawan walked from His bedroom to the dais,
a distance of about 200 feet without any aid. He sat down
erect on an office chair."
Ms. June writes about that historic moment
of ecstasy: "Bhajan began, and my heart was pounding
a joyous tune of expectancy. Love for Baba filled the hall.
Ah! There He was, moving majestically down the hall, although
He had required the assistance of two men all day. He now
moved as if nothing had ever happened. His steps were as sure
and graceful as ever. The cheeks which had been hollow when
I last saw them were completely filled out. His Love flooded
the hall. It was overpowering. He swung into the room, and
when He saw someone leaning against the wall with a sick child
beside him, the Hand began the familiar circular motion to
create the cure.
Baba's eyes which plumb the depths, His eyes
which pour out love and compassion, His eyes which flash when
he speaks of cruelty, falsehood, hypocrisy and injustice,
eyes which can be full of quips, were as eloquent as ever.
He took His place on the divan in front of the gathering and
began keeping rhythm with the Bhajan being sung, with His
head and hand. Mrs. Rajagopal whispered in my ear, "Look!
Those eyes are more beautiful than ever. There is an ethereal
expression, not of this world in them; a look of radiant joy
Baba's eyes caressed the gathering, which
was watching Him without even a wink, apprehensive that the
cure He had effected on Himself, might be only partial or
Sri Nakul Sen was full of gratitude and wonder!
While welcoming Baba, and introducing the gathering to Him
as convention demanded, he said, "Bhagawan lives in the
inner recesses of the hearts of His devotees; there is nothing
He would not do for them. He has simultaneously appeared in
this Form at different places, to help His devotees in distress,
or to save them from impending calamities, of which He alone
has the precognition! Through His Sankalpa or Will, He has
assumed the illness of His devotees and suffered it from them,
because they would have succumbed to it, if left alone."
We have witnessed this now, a Leela which
has greatly perplexed the medical experts of Goa. It leaves
no doubt in our minds that there is nothing on this earth
which is beyond Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. His Leela is
Adbhut - unprecedented; it is Romancha Kari - exhilarating;
it is Madhumaya - sweet in memory; Mangalamayi - promoting
the happiness and welfare of mankind; Manoharini - overpowering
the mind and turning it to truth, beauty and goodness. It
gives Ananda - bliss!…"
Nakul Sen concluded his descriptions of the
ancient glories of Goa and its sacred contacts with Shiva,
Rama, Krishna, and Parasurama, the Divine Avatars, with these
words: "No wonder the Lord decided to visit this ancient
and sacred land again, in the form which He has assumed now,
with the name of Sathya Sai Baba; He has loved Goa in His
previous incarnations and Goa continues to be dear to Him
Baba spoke for over forty minutes with His
usual emphasis and élan. The gathering listened spellbound,
for it was a message of triumph, benevolence, and benediction.
The illness that had vanished an
hour ago was still uppermost in the minds of all, and so,
Baba spoke of the significance of its 'entrance and exit'
and its place in the scheme of the Avatar's activities.
"There are many who doubt the existence of God or deny
Him, or dismiss the idea of God as a silly outworn superstition.
To make them discard their conceit, the Divine, out of Its
Innate Grace, reveals its superhuman glory. The doubters receive
the reply without asking, the door is opened without even
a knock; for those who deny will not knock at all. The 'superstition'
will be illumined into divine status by a concrete experience,
an indisputable fact.
The human body generates diseases as a result of faulty food
or frivolous habits, or foolish rashness or fanatic emotions.
The illness that was witnessed by you during the last two
days was quite different. That was an illness taken over by
Me, voluntarily put on, in order to save a victim who could
not have survived it! His continued existence, in good health
is desirable for the task dear to Me. Pouring Grace on the
devout is one of the functions of the Avatar. The appendix
was inflamed, it turned into an abscess which the doctors
could cure only by removal... He could not have survived it,
I know. I have come with this Body in order to save 'other
bodies' from pain. This Body is ever free from pain. Disease
can never affect it.
I had to go to the rescue of a person who had surrendered
to Me - even his judgment. I took over his illness and went
through it. It shall not recur again in him. You refer to
this incident as a miracle, but remember - every breath is
a proof of the Providence of God. Every event is the consequence
of Divine Omnipotence.
Wherever you find truth, beauty, goodness, justice, wisdom,
compassion - God is present, and active. An atheist denies
God, with the very breath that God has given him! He closes
the eyes that God has opened in Him, and declares that there
he could see no God. Therefore, such amazing events have to
be accomplished and made known to man everywhere, so that
mankind can be saved from over-fond involvement with the world,
and lovingly drawn towards the Master of the World."
Reference: “Sathyam Shivam Sundaram”
Vol – III by Prof. N Kasturi.
Page: 227-246. Published by Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications
Trust, Prasanthi Nilayam.