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VII. Master of Matter

Marvels And Amusements
The Divine Sport of Baba on the sands of Chitravathi

Smt. Vijayakumari was one of the privileged few who came to Baba when Baba was very young. There were only a handful of devotees around Baba in those days and He would spend lot of time with them. The fortunate souls were blessed with unforgettable and blissful experiences. Smt. Vijayakumari narrates:

There was a huge boulder under Kalpavriksha (the Tamarind tree atop the hill on the banks of the Chitravathi). Two hundred people could comfortably sit on that rock. Watching Swami, seated amongst us, it seemed to me that He was verily Yasodha Bala, Lord Madhava (Lord Krishna), who, in the days gone by, balanced the huge Govardhana mountain on His little finger to save the lives of the cows and cowherds of Brindavan.

Jumping up to pluck a handful of leaves from that Tamarind tree, Sai would give a leaf to each of us and ask us to keep our palms closed. When we opened them at His command a few moments later, we would find all varieties of things, sugar candy in one hand, a peppermint or a rosary in another. When, as asked by Him, we closed our palms once again and then opened them, only tamarind leaves would be in our palms! Ah! What a pity! I should have eaten the sugar candy!

When thinking to ourselves, "How surprising. How could such different things materialize simultaneously?" we used to gaze at Him in wide-eyed wonderment. He would clap his hands to rouse us from our stupefied state.

Because this tree gave devotees whatever they wished for, it became well known as "Kalpa Vriksha" (the mythological Wish-Fulfilling Tree). Sometimes, He would say, "Shall we see who can reach here first after circling this small mountain three times?" That was enough for us - my elder brother, Dr. Jaya Lakshmi, Guindy Leelamma and myself, we were ever ready.

"All right, run," Swami would say. While we were doing the first two rounds, we could see Him sitting imperially and chatting like a king. But in the third round He would join us and, before we could finish the third round, He would complete the three rounds, come there before us and once again sit in His original place. Victory was His. How was this possible? After loud clapping, the boys would lift up our leader in their arms.

His energy was boundless. Witnessing it was a pleasure that has to be savoured by the eyes, not something accessible to thought or word. Climbing down the hill, we would all meet again on the banks of the Chitravathi at some spot selected by devotees.

After singing for sometime and listening to our Gopadeva's (Swami's) discourse on the pranks of Krishna, or the stories of some devotees, we would cry out that we were hungry, and pester Him to give us something to eat. Even as He moved His hands in the heap of piled up sand, we were able to say what He was about to pick up. We could identify the strong aroma of Mysorepak! (A sweet made of chickpea flour, sugar and clarified butter). Ghee (clarified butter) would drip from it, and it would be hot. He would put the pieces immediately in a tray and would serve us all with His own hands.

How am I to describe that taste, it was so delicious. Irrespective of how many people would be present, He would go on distributing and the pieces seemed to multiply unendingly.

After eating the sweet, we would clamour and say, "Swami! Our mouths have tasted too much sweet. Give us some savouries". Our Swami, the embodiment of compassion and love, would pick vada (A savoury prepared with chickpea flour and fried in oil) from the sand. It was tastier than nectar, essence of curds, honey, all put together - there is no use trying to describe it. Everything paled into insipidity before that vada. As He picked up the vadas from the sand, they were hot, and dripping ghee, but surprisingly, not a speck of the sand clung to them! How is that possible? Nothing can explain this wonder. Again, He would pick from the sand, rosaries, idols, pendants and books, and hand them to those destined to receive them.

The articles Swami created from the sand were unprecedented wonders. Things that could not be produced anywhere. Nothing can stand comparison with those! Those idols would be made of panchaloha (five alloys), sandal wood, ivory, teakwood, silver or clay.

He would materialize out of the sand, idols of Lakshmi, Narayana, Radha, Krishna, Shirdi Sai, Sri Rama, Lakshmana, Bharatha, Shatrughna, Nataraja, etc. The rosaries materialized out of sand would be made of pearls, corals, or crystal beads. To some, He would give rudrakshas. (A dried fruit used as a bead on a rosary by devotees to please Lord Shiva).

Once He gave Sarala, my sister, a black bead chain with a pendant of Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth) as a wedding gift. Each black bead was encased in an intricate design in golden strings.

Some years later, when the chain broke, she took it to a goldsmith to have it welded. Awed by the intricate workmanship, he said in wonderment, "It is not possible for anyone to repair this. I am unable to understand how the golden strands are woven around the black beads. Where did you buy it?"

Hearing Sarala's reply that it was a gift from Swami, he remarked, "Then He alone can mend this chain. No one else in the world can do it.” So delicate are the gifts of Swami. As for rings, talismans and lockets, it is impossible to keep a count.

He gave my mother a statue of Vinayaka (Lord Ganesha) that He created out of sand. We could not say whether it is made of clay or stone. Not too black, it had a slight, reddish tinge.

The wonder of wonders is that the idol did not have a full-length trunk. When we asked Him why He gave mother an idol like that, He told us, "Do abhishekam to the idol, every Sunday, with milk. The trunk will grow to its normal size". Just as He had said, the trunk began to grow day by day. It is verily an impossible task to estimate the value of His gifts.

Reference: "Anyatha Sharanam Nasthi – Other Than you Refuge There Is None” by Smt. Vijayakumari. Page: 52-56. Published by the author, 1999.

Name the fruit – It’s there!

The Raja of Venkatagiri was from the royal family that once ruled over Venkatagiri near the temple town of Tirupati. He was one of the privileged few who came to Baba when He was in His twenties. The Raja was a prince of the old school. A well built man of stately physique, he was educated in England, mixed in international social circles, hunted big game and played polo. He had a princely demeanour, and the manners and speech of an English gentleman. Yet in religious matters he was a very orthodox Hindu. The Raja and members of his family have over the years experienced wonderful miracles of Baba. Here are two of them recorded by Howard Murphet:

“The Raja's second son was one of a party of men driving along with Baba by car from Madras to Puttaparti on one occasion. Not far from Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh they stopped to have a picnic by the roadside.

After they had eaten the main course, Baba asked what fruit they would like for a dessert. They proved to be a very difficult party; one asked for a mango, another for an apple, a third for an orange, and the fourth for a juicy pear.

"You'll find them all on that tree over there," Baba said, pointing to a wild tree growing nearby.

They rushed to the tree full of excitement, for they had learned that anything was possible with Baba. Sure enough on one branch of that wild tree hung the fruits they had named - a mango, an apple, an orange and a pear. They plucked them and declared that the flavours were of rare excellence.”

The Miraculous Lord Rama idol for the sands

It was one of the earliest visits of the young twenty-four-year-old Swami to Venkatagiri. A party of between twenty and thirty people left the palace in a fleet of cars for a drive in the country.

Baba, who had never been in the area before, asked the Raja to stop by any patch of sand they might happen to see. A few miles further on, they came to a dry sandy river-bed. Here they stopped, and all sat on the sand around the young Swami. After talking for a while, He rolled His sleeve up to His elbow and thrust His arm deep into the sand before Him.

“Then”, the Raja told me (Murphet), "we all heard a strange sawing sound - at least that's what it seemed like. I asked Baba what the sound was, and He replied enigmatically that the goods were being manufactured in Kailash."

Kailash, incidentally, is the abode of Shiva, the God associated with yoga, yogic powers and divine grace bestowed on mortals. Many Sai devotees believe that Baba is himself an incarnation of the Shiva-Shakti aspect of divinity.

As Baba withdrew His arm from the sand there was a great flash of blue light that spread to a circle of some ten feet in radius. Then they all saw that Baba was holding in His hand something about eight inches in height and made of pure white sphatika (crystal).

It proved to be a statue of Rama, one of the avatars, together with His consort, Sita. After everyone had seen this "gift from Kailash", Baba handed it to the veiled Rani of Venkatagiri, telling her to wrap it in silk and leave it thus covered until the following day.

When it was unwrapped the day after, the white stone had turned blue. The little statue now stands in the Raja's shrine-room - still the colour, he says, of the blue light that flashed forth at the moment it was drawn from the sands.

Reference: “Sai Baba: Man of Miracles” by Mr. Howard Murphet. Page: 156-158 (paperback edition, 1972). Published by Macmillan India Ltd.

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