Tuesday, 31 December 2013

7. A DECEMBER incident: the MYSTERY of the ' PARROT'-MAN' !

Devotees of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba have often received His blessings through His previous incarnation as the Sai Baba of Shirdi, in dreams or strange encounters! Many others have been led to the Parthi form from the Shirdi one. It has been the experience of devotees who have never heard of Sri Sathya Sai or felt drawn to Him, to read the Shirdi Sai SATCHARITRA and get blessings or answers to dilemnas through the Sathya Sai form. Someone I know who was never interested in Sathya SAI, read this holy book as a 'parayan' (seven-day-reading of a holy book) in the UAE and subsequently dreamt of the Sathya Sai form who then coaxed her to come and visit Him in Puttaparthi in 2010.


There is a very deep and subtle link between these two (and other) forms of Divinity though they seem so different and devotees have experienced this connection in many ways.  
Once someone had the temerity to ask Bhagawan why did He and Shirdi Baba have so little in common, in the way they APPEARED -- dress, mode of travel, place of residence and other such facts. Bhagawan's revealing reply went like this (in HINDI): 
"Tab Mein FAKIR banke aaya tha; ab Mein NAWAB banke aaya hoon" !!
"Then I had come as a FAKIR (mendicant); now I have come as a NAWAB (an Emperor)" !!

 Appearances do not matter when the ESSENCE of LOVE and COMPASSION are the same. Lord Krishna was born among humble cowherds, but Lord Rama was a Prince. Yet they are equally loved and venerated by the devotees. For the Divine, the body is just an instrument suiting the purpose of that particular Avataarhood; doubts arise in those who cannot go behind appearances.

This lesson was brought home to me in a most mysterious manner in the December of 1993, at my home at Kerala. Passage of time, I discover, does not dull the vividness of encounters with Divinity. 
It was a Thursday morning and a friend, erstwhile college-mate from Anantapur had come early on to take part in a 'Satsangh'. There was a person who was coming to our home; he was writing a book about Sai devotees' experiences in and around the city of Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram -- the holy city of Lord Anantha Padmanabha/Mahavishnu reclining on the serpent Anantha). He had visited us the previous day and had narrated some incidents of Bhagawan's Omnipresence and how he was being guided to devotees' homes for writing his book. He was to come again that day and I had called my friend to contribute her bit too. We had experienced Swami's Grace the previous summer in a striking manner and I wanted to narrate this experience to him in my friend's presence with some other such incidents. 
A representation of the idol at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum. 
As we chatted, my friend narrated an incident that involved a family whose daughter was an ardent devotee of Bhagawan and had persuaded her family to put photos of both Sathya Sai Baba and Shirdi Sai Baba in their puja-room. One day, an old holy man in tattered clothes visited their house and they received him respectfully. (In India, in a slowly dying out tradition, holy men and women are accorded respect and offered food, etc.) He sat in their living room and made some prophetic assertions and surprising statements about their personal lives. Then remarking, "It's all the leela of Baba," with typical hand-waving gestures, he took out 'vibhuti' from an old bag slung on his shoulders and gave it to all the people in the house. He specifically asked for the daughter of the house and blessed her too. He then insisted on visiting their puja-room. There when he saw the photograph of Shirdi Sai, he smiled to himself and said, "Oh, the OLD MAN is here as well" !  After a day or two, the daughter, (the original Sai devotee in the house) had a dream, wherein Bhagawan Sathya Sai Baba appeared and told her, "It was I who had come to bless you; but Maya (the deluding power of the Divine) prevented you from recognizing Me" !! And so we were chatting, little knowing that Swami however wanted to spice things up further, as we later discovered. 
As I was getting ready, the door-bell rang and my mother told me that there was an old man at the door with a parrot in tow, who would read all our fortunes. I was dismissive of this because as a rule we never consulted astrologers and the like, since the Maker of Destinies was anyway taking care of us. But my mother was in great anxiety regarding her sister and went ahead with this. My friend and me decided to go and watch the fun. 
The DESTINY-Writer
We found a tall old man, dressed in a tattered black shirt and loose pants. He had a small parrot in a cage and and a deck of cards illustrated with different pictures mostly  those of many Indian deities. The procedure was to mention the name and birth-star ('janma-nakshatra' in Vedic astrology) of the subject and then leave it to the parrot to pick a card that would indicate one's fortune. As we watched, my mother mentioned her sister's name and star, and the parrot picked out a card. I still vividly remember how the card depicted the image of Goddess Lakshmi (the Deity of wealth) sitting on a lotus, in a water-body. "Ah!" the old man said and then in a semi-musical monotone, proceeded to reveal the fortunes of my aunt. He said she was in financial trouble, but like water that does not stick to the lotus leaf, with God's Grace, her troubles wouldn't stick to her but would be overcome. (True enough, I thought, but most people do have some kind of money problems and the old guy could have been guessing! ) Then unexpectedly, he added, that six months ago, she had just crossed a life-threatening situation but now she was safe. This was interesting, because, just a half-year ago she had actually undergone a tricky surgery and come out safely through it. After a few more such correct facts and some predictions which all eventually came true, he then spoke about my brother. Here too, the facts and predictions (as we found later on ) were correct. Then it was my friend's turn. As this was going on, I began to wonder as to who this person could be. It was a slow feeling, a growing suspicion that there was more to the eye here. As I scrutinised him, he deliberately avoided me and went on to speak to my mother. Here he read her palm and again mentioned some accurate facts. (He was turning out to be a real 'all-rounder' in the fortune-telling field, I thought wryly). I then decided to change from observer to participant and have my fortune told too !!

The Parrot and her cards !

Unfortunately, the cards the parrot picked out for me showed all creepy-crawly insects and animals much to my dismay! No benevolent deities smiled at me! The old man looked kindly at my crestfallen face and said, "Oh! this is all an effect of sarpa-dosha (curse of the serpent)", but not to worry, he had the remedy for it. He instructed my mother on some ritual with camphor and fire for five days and that  would remove the bad period. He accurately described my loss of appetite, insomnia, etc. and then as though to cheer me up, he read my palm. Here, he looked very pleased and confidently asserted that within fifteen days, my greatest wish would come true!
I was racking my brains to decipher what on earth was my 'greatest wish' exactly! The one consolation I had was that I was shortly travelling to Puttaparthi and so on that fifteenth day, I would be in Swami's Presence, whatever might happen! Two birds with one stone: The authenticity of this 'parrot-man' and a discovery of my 'greatest wish' ! That this PREDICTION was spot-on, I got to know 15 days later much to my joy and amazement ! Subject of the next post !
Bhagawan near the slope of the mandir-verandah at Prasanthi Nilayam: Oct.1999
As I was lost in thought, the OLD MAN, asked me to pick out another card and this time, it was one of Lord Ayyappa. He said to my mother, (again studiously avoiding me) that this was a good omen; I would be benefited greatly with a gift in my career. Meanwhile, now that good things were beginning to be said, I wanted more! Also, my feeling that this person might just be a certain SOMEONE kept growing in my mind. So I asked him point-blank, "Have you heard of Sai Baba?" He angrily denied this (pray, why the anger ?) and mumbled something about not wasting his time. So I asked whether another card could be picked out for me. He nodded and said, I was to think of my favourite deity from the pantheon of Gods and Goddesses (33 crore in the Indian system !) and pray. If the One I thought of was picked by the parrot, then my good fortune was guaranteed!
I mentally consulted Swami; He was truly my only Deity! But I didn't want to be yelled at by the commanding OLD MAN again. So I hesitantly said, "SHIVA is my Deity" Again the OLD MAN was displeased with me.He asked, " Which SHIVA? He has so many forms; Saamba Shiva, Sada Shiva, . . . . . PARAMA SHIVA." So I hurriedly said, " Hmm, PARAMA Shiva." As the parrot was shuffling the cards with its beak, I inwardly was telling Bhagawan, "Though I said 'SHIVA', for me You are the personification of the Trinity. You are Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva , all rolled into ONE !" The parrot, the silent player in this drama made her pick; she pulled out the card and the fierce OLD MAN held it up for me to see. I gasped: the card displayed the Form of DATTATREYA (an Avatar of the Trinity in Puranic times) and on the top were the faces of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. My very thought MANIFESTED in front of me ! It was a demonstration to me, of Bhagawan's true Form, as He had revealed to a group of devotees many years ago
Lord DATTATREYA as He is popularly depicted
While I was digesting this, the OLD MAN looked benevolently at me and said that this was a good sign. I had my chosen Deity's Grace. He then turned his attention to my friend. Feeling slightly more emboldened, I decided to tackle the question of his 'identity' once again, in a different manner. I asked him casually where was he from ? He promptly replied, "CHIDAMBARAM". Chidambaram is a temple town in Tamil Nadu with a famous Shiva temple and is also a seat for Nadi-astrology (astrology through ancient palm-leaf manuscripts). But this wasn't the answer I hoped to hear. I couldn't give up so easily either; so I persisted, and asked him a question, which in retrospect sounds strange,"HERE, where do you come from, HEREABOUTS ?" His answer stunned and silenced me. He casually said,  "Nedumangad". Why the astonishment, one might ask ? Well, this was the same place the 'Old Man' in my friend's story said he was from. In the previous incident mentioned above, when the family asked him where he was from in the course of conversation, that "Old Man' had casually said, "Oh, I stay at Nedumangad (a suburb of Trivandrum city)." Later after the daughter's revealing dream, when they made enquiries, the amazed family discovered that in Nedumangad, on the outskirts of the city, there was a small ashram of SHIRDI SAI devotees! Twenty years back, Shirdi was not as well known in the South of India, as it is today. Shirdi Baba was relatively unknown except in some pockets of the city. So a Shirdi Sai Ashram in this deep South of India was unusual.
I was stumped. I went absolutely quiet as I tried to digest this bit of information, while the old man began winding up his parrot-apparatus and demanded money for his reading. I watched him and my mother quibbling over payment and was again reminded of Shirdi Sai always 'demanding' DAKSHINA from His devotees. I told mother to pay 'HIM' twenty-one rupees and let 'HIM' go. We watched 'HIM' go down the steps, towards the garden gate. On an impulse, I followed a few moments later and looked both sides of our small lane. There was NO ONE in sight. He had simply vanished with His parrot paraphernalia !

EPILOGUE: That January 1994, I happened to stay outside the Ashram in Prasanthi Nilayam for the first time. One afternoon, I was woken up from a nap, by a commotion in the street. I looked out to see a "Parrot-Astrologer" on his rounds, calling out his deal ! Coincidence? I prefer to call it SAI-INCIDENCE !!
Also, as soon as the incident had occurred, and the 'OLD MAN' had vanished from view, I consulted my SAI-book of quotes, (actually, any spiritual book lying in the vicinity, ask your question with full focus of mind and open a page at random -- ACCEPT the answer and act accordingly ! Works for me every time.) The message was :
" . . . So, the Avathar has to come as Man among men, and move as friend, well-wisher, kinsmen, guide, teacher, healer and participant among men. He has come to restore Dharma, and when man follows Dharma, He is pleased and content."   p. K 71, Thought for the Day: 1008 Gems from the Sri SAI Manasarovar.


  1. Everything is true and I accept million percent because the same leelas or similar happened to me also during the last 23 years that I am with Sathya Sai Baba who IS GOD HIMSELF, as I write in my books on Sai Baba which you can read free in internet on 'omsairusbook' or '1000 days with the incarnated God Sri Sathya Sai Baba.'' Thank you very much and OM SAI RAM.

    1. Thank you, sir. I have read about the 'Magus of Strovolus' and a few days back I was thinking whether Swami had mentioned about this great Greek Master from Cyprus. I found the answer in your book :)


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