Mr. J.B. Madhava Rao (78), a retired Railway Official, shares a few of his experiences:
‘In October 1961, I was going to Tirupati to have darshan of my ishta daivam, Lord Balaji. I met one Mr. Chalapathi Rao of Renigunta in the train. I heard about Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba for the first time from him and was impressed. Later, I came into contact with some devotees and began to attend bhajans.
In 1962, I came to Prasanthi Nilayam for the first time and had darshan of Bhagavan. I was here on Sivarathri. Bhagavan came to Yelamanchili in Visakha district on March 27, 1964. We all went there and had His darshan. Swami told us to open Samithi at Visakhapatnam, Yelamanchili and Srungavarapukota.
In 1964, I had to go to Bangalore on official work. Then, I took some time off to visit Prasanthi Nilayam. I used to hear rumours about Swami printing counterfeit currency in those days, and felt immense pain. That time, Swami called me for an interview. That was the first of nearly 90 interviews that were to follow during 1964 – 92. In that very first interview, I broached with Bhagavan thoughtlessly about the rumours I was hearing. There were some others also in the interview. They were taken aback at my impudence. But Bhagavan smiled and asked me to follow him. He took me to His room on the first floor of the mandir where He was staying in those days. It was a small room with an ordinary wooden cot on which some mattress was spread. There were a few chairs. There were two cupboards. Swami opened the doors of the cupboards. I was stunned to see bundles of currency notes in both the cupboards. Both cupboards were fully packed with notes. Leaving me there, Bhagavan went into the bathroom attached to the room on the southern side. When He was coming out of it, I looked at Him in bewilderment since I had not recovered from the shock of seeing so much money in Bhagavan’s room.
‘What did you find?’ Swami asked me coming out of the bathroom. About to say ‘currency’, I looked at the cupboards, and I was stunned. There were no currency bundles, but only Swami’s robes neatly folded and arranged. There was no one in the room except myself for full ten minutes. All the time I was looking at the bundles of notes in the cupboard as my thoughts went in several directions. I looked at Swami only for a couple of seconds as He came out of the bathroom asking me about the notes. How did the notes disappear? Who arranged Swami’s robes so neatly in a trice? Swami smiled as I told Him ‘there were bundles of notes in the cupboards a few seconds back’. ‘Mad cap’ Swami remarked jocularly and said ‘well! Which deity would you like to see?’ ‘Kodanda Rama’ I replied. ‘With or without Anjaneya?’ Swami asked. ‘With Anjaneya, Swami!’ I replied.
Even before I completed my reply, Kodanda Rama rose before me where Swami stood. He was eight feet tall. His aura was very brilliant! Anjaneya was there at the feet of Rama. Anjaneya was completely white. As the brilliance grew, I could not stand the sight and fainted. Swami might have sprinkled some water on me for I woke up with a shudder. ‘Go and have a glass of water’ Swami told me, ‘and rest for some time’.
In 1968, we came to Prasanthi Nilayam. Swami called my wife and me for interview on January 26. During the interview, I mentioned to Swami that I was not keeping good health. Swami materialised a gold coin on one side of which is Swami’s picture and on the other side is abhayahasta and Aum. ‘Whenever you feel any ill-health, do abhishekam to this with milk’ Swami told me, ‘and take that milk as theertham’.
After a few months, we came to know that my wife’s sister, Mrs. Subhadra was on her deathbed. She was ailing for some time with galloping TB and was vomiting blood. We went to their house in Vijayawada. I remembered Swami’s words about the gold coin. I did abhishekam with milk to the coin, and gave it to her as theertham. Within an hour, she asked for something to eat. We were told that she had had no food for days. If she took any, she was vomiting with blood. Then she ate two idlies. She did not vomit. Within a few days she recovered completely. There was no sign of TB when the doctors checked her. Everyone was amazed.
After a few weeks, I came to Prasanthi Nilayam. Swami called me for interview. ‘You have become a doctor and been curing people’ Swami said to me, ‘why did you use it for others?’ He took the coin from me and returned it after a while. ‘Take this’ Swami told me handing the gold coin back to me, ‘it has no power of healing now’.
In 1970, we began considering alliances to our eldest daughter Ms. Satya Syamala. I did not have any money. I came to Prasanthi Nilayam and told Swami about the alliance we were considering. I also told Bhagavan about my financial position. ‘Don’t worry’ Bhagavan assured me, ‘it will be done on March 10’. When I returned to Vizag, I came to know that the bridegroom’s party sent word that they had got the wedding date fixed by their astrologer. It was March 10 – the date Swami had told me. The marriage was held successfully. It is a miracle how money came from unexpected quarters.
On March 14, we were in Tirupati along with the new couple. After darshan of the Lord, we were returning. The vehicle broke down near Ongole in the night. My wife began to pray to Trinatha (Brahma, Vishnu and Siva). ‘If we reach Vizag safely’ my wife prayed, ‘I will do Trinatha Vratham next Sunday’. Soon three white ambassador cars came along and halted near our car. Drivers of those cars came to our car and repaired it. They escorted us up to Chilakaluripeta. ‘Please have a cup of tea with us’ I requested them as we were parting, ‘I don’t know how to thank you for your help’. ‘Not now’, one of them said ‘bye!’
Afterwards, when I came to Prasanthi Nilayam, Swami asked me about our Tirupati trip. I told Him what had happened. ‘Your wife prayed to Trinatha’ Swami said, ‘so I had to come as three persons in three cars. You offered me tea. You remember? I said ‘not now’. I was amazed. ‘Call me by any name, I respond’ says Bhagavan and He did so in our case.
When East Prasanthi was under construction, we came for seva from Vizag. We carried bricks and mortar and other building materials. Swami used to come often to inspect the progress of work. He used to get some panakam (water mixed with jaggery and pepper) and serve it in glasses personally to all of us.
In 1988, I was suspended from service in my Department though I was not at fault. I came to Prasanthi Nilayam. Swami called me for interview. ‘You are not at fault’ Swami told me, ‘don’t worry. You will be reinstated and paid all your dues’. It happened that way soon. I was exonerated of the charges and reinstated with pay for the period of suspension.
‘You were with me during my Shirdi Incarnation’ Swami told me in one interview, ‘and I will take care of you’. In 1992, I came to Prasanthi Nilayam for Sivarathri and worked as a volunteer. I could witness lingodbhavam from close quarters. In October, 1995, I came to Prasanthi Nilayam. ‘Have you seen Super Specialties Hospital?’ Swami asked me in the darshan line. ‘No, Swami’ I replied. ‘Go and see’, Bhagavan told me. I went there. Suddenly I had a problem passing urine. I saw there a signboard ‘Urology Department’. I went in. Doctors examined me. ‘You have to undergo surgery for removal of prostate gland’ they told me, ‘come on October 20’. As we were talking in the Department, Swami came there in the golf-cart which Bhagavan uses in that hospital.
‘What happened?’ Swami asked. I explained. ‘What?’ Swami asked the doctors, ‘you want him to undergo surgery at this age? No. Give him minipress tablets.’ So they prescribed that way. When I went to a medical shop, they told me that it was an expensive drug to be taken all through life. I went for darshan next morning. I got front line. ‘It’s very expensive drug, Swami’ I pleaded with Swami. ‘Yes, but your disease also is quite a big one’ Swami told me. ‘Really I can’t afford, Swami’ I prayed. ‘You go to the hospital tomorrow’ Swami told me, ‘they will change it’.
‘We did not know you are close to Swami’ they told me when I saw them the next day, ‘Swami was praising you like anything’. ‘I don’t know’ I replied, ‘it is all His leela’. Finally, they prescribed a cheaper drug ‘prajopress’. When I told Swami about the expensive drug in the darshan line that day, Bhagavan materialized a silver ring with gomedhikam stone and gave me to wear.’
— Mr. J. B. Madhava Rao.