The story of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, lovingly addressed by His devotees as Baba or Swami, is an endless saga of how DIVINE LOVE walking on two feet, embraced humanity and won their hearts over to the spiritual path. In the 20th century materialistic milieu of science and technology, He demonstrated the power of LOVE to transform hearts and urge them on the path of love, inner transformation and service to society, without the desire for name and fame.

His miracles, healings, manifestations and materialization are legendary; there was nothing that He could not do. In His Presence, the impossible became possible and this is attested to by thousands of eye-witnesses, including independent observers, who were not necessarily His 'devotees'. However, (and this is the point to be noted, which alas is often forgotten by His devotees and ignored by His detractors) their purpose was not to sensationalize but to SENSITISE. As He often remarked,  

 Miracles are My visiting cards; they are for 'nidarshana' (establishing Divinity) and not for 'pradarshana'  (exhibition).
His miracles, healings, manifestations, et al while amazing, stupefying and delightful, and still continue all over the globe even after He has left His physical body, demonstrate that there are dimensions beyond the physical, tangible world. There are inexplicable phenomena beyond the laws of known science. As science advances, what is superstition today becomes technology tomorrow. Baba has said:
Science is the SPLIT of LOVE, Spirituality is the SPIRIT of LOVE.
Spirituality begins where science ends. Science is below the senses, spirituality is beyond the senses.
 Albert Einstein who discovered Relativity (Visit http://library.thinkquest.org/06aug/02088/einstein.htm ) and was one of the pioneers of Quantum Physics, that changed and revolutionised 20th century science, said:
I see a pattern, but my imagination cannot picture the maker of that pattern. I see a clock, but I cannot envision the clockmaker. The human mind is unable to conceive of the four dimensions, so how can it conceive of a God, before whom a thousand years and a thousand dimensions are as one? (The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press, 2000 p. 208)
Yet, multi-dimensional Beings have walked this Earth. There was Christ and Mohammad, Moses and Zarathustra, and in India there have been the Avatars of Godhead, from ancient times: Rama, Krishna and the Buddha. 

Sri Sathya Sai Baba's STORY is one that compels you to wake up, think and to reflect on the endless possibilities of life! It can become our story too, yours and mine, for it includes and invites everyone to participate in its narration. Why so?

For, it is the STORY of LOVE . . . . .

It is the energy of DIVINE LOVE that governs the universe and this love is within the reach of every human being. However, the MESSENGER of LOVE that He was and IS, He never ever forced anyone's belief, or asked them to change his/her religion. He is the reflection of the Universal Spirit, unbound by such divisions of caste or creed or religion. YES, He declared His GODHOOD, spontaneously, fearlessly and joyfully. But what He actually declared is half-quoted or misquoted. He intoned with great love and conviction: 
I AM God. And you too are God. The only difference between you and ME is that while I am AWARE of it, you are completely unaware.

And so this STORY has perhaps just begun, and will continue to unfold till every soul can declare with certainty, "I too am GOD".


Here in a nutshell, is outlined the details of His birth and early childhood, till He declared His Divinity, at the age of 14; the story of a precocious little boy, born in pre-Independent India, who started upon His mission of spiritualising the minds and hearts of men and women in this Kali Yuga or the Iron Age of materialism.

(SOURCE: Special Issue of the magazine, INDIA TODAY on Sri Sathya Sai Baba, entitled, DIVINE GRACE, released on 26th January, 2012.
NOTE to readers: This is the unedited version with the conclusion that was not published, for obvious reasons. This article was authored by the writer of this blog. )
NB: To view the actual author, scroll down to the end of the write-up !
Sri Sathya Sai Baba, addressed by his devotees as Swami or Baba or Bhagawan, was born on the 23rd of November, 1926, to a humble family in the heartland of rural South India, in the village of Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh. The target of both widespread adulation and some denigration during his lifetime, he has been a living God for His innumerable devotees spread across the globe. Often portrayed as a larger-than-life figure, he passed away on April 24th, 2011, leaving behind grieving devotees and a vast socio-spiritual empire, with its headquarters at the ashram established by him at Puttaparthi, called Prasanthi Nilayam.

India, where Sathya Sai Baba lived, is an exotic land, a land of ritual and legend, of the mysterious and the fascinating, of the superstitious and the enlightened. Her people include the gullible and the cynical, the devout and the skeptic; her customs are a blend of the old and the new, the ancient and the modern. Born in this country of contradictions, Sai Baba who attained the stature of a legend in his life-time had very humble origins and his story has parallels with the lives of other spiritual personages, who rose to fame from obscure beginnings. So what was so special about this village boy and what catapulted him and this tiny, rural hamlet of his birth to a spot on the world arena? What were those factors that today has the SAI name being revered and the mantra Sairam, being chanted all over the world? 

His parents

Sri Sathya Sai Baba was born as Sathyanarayana Raju, to Pedda Venkappa Raju and Easwaramma, as their fourth child. He was born in the clan of the Ratnakara Rajus, in a branch of the Bhata-Raju family, who were well-known for preserving classical traditions through theatre and drama. His grand-father, the venerable Kondama Raju had the whole version of the Lepakshi Ramayana, (a Telugu version in verse) on his finger tips. He also had the distinction of building a temple for the consort of Lord Krishna, Sathyabhama, following a dream-vision, who later on became the village deity, Sathyamma. 

Puttaparthi, (a distortion of Putta-vardhini or profusion of ant-hills) and the river Chithravathi, which flowed beside it, are steeped in history and legend.  Puttaparthi, in the district of Rayalaseema was a part of the erstwhile Vijayanagara kingdom of Krishnadeva Raya, and the neighbouring town, Bukkapatnam derives its name from one of its founders Bukka. However, over time, the warriors of this place turned away from war to the more spiritual pursuit of religious poetry and drama with the aim of preserving Bhakthi and Dharma among the masses.

The original name of Puttaparthi was Gollapalli, veritably a "land of milk and honey" with cows and cowherds abounding in the area. Due to a curse incurred by the killing of a mysterious serpent that drank the milk of one of the cows, the place lost its prosperity. With the cows dying of disease, it soon became infested with ant-hills and snakes. To atone for this, the village elders built the Venugopalswamy temple in the village with the very stone that killed the serpent, consecrated as the deity, Krishna, and awaited their day of deliverance. Miraculously, as old-timers affirm, with the birth of Sathya, the anthills slowly disappeared and prosperity came back to the village.

Sathya as a teenager


Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s birth was foretold by a family-ancestor called Venkavadhoota who was revered in those parts as well as in neighbouring Karnataka, as an Avadhuta, a seer who  performed penance for the birth of a redeemer. 
On the day following his birth, i.e. on 24th November, 1926, Sri Aurobindo, the Savant of Pondicherry, is reported to have emerged out of a long meditation and declared to his followers about the “descent of the supramental Krishna Consciousness into the terrestrial earth-realm” and then withdrew into silence thereafter. There are also indications in the ancient palm-leaf manuscripts, Nadis, as well as in the quatrains of Nostradamus about the birth of such a one.

Signs and Wonders: There were several notable, inexplicable events associated with Sathya Sai’s birth. His mother Easwaramma recollected, how prior to her conception of him, a luminous ball of blue light entered her and rendered her unconscious, denoting that his birth was Pravesa ( Entrance ) and not Prasava ( conception ) and of how the baby was born immediately after she partook of the prasadam of the Sathyanarayan Vrat observed by her mother-in-law, Lakshmamma.  Musical instruments in the house used to be played by unknown hands at night and a serpent cradled the new-born babe in its swaddling clothes to quietly and peacefully slide away, when discovered by the wonder-struck family.


Sathya, as he was called, was a precocious and charming little boy – he played and frolicked with his friends on the banks of the Chithravathi river and helped at home with household chores like fetching water and cooking vegetarian food for his grandfather! He had an extra-ordinary compassion for the poor and needy, bringing every beggar home to the justified exasperation of his family. He attended school in the nearby town of Bukkapatnam due to lack of such facilities in his village and even became a Boy Scout leader. Then there were certain other special aspects to him  like forming a village Pandhari Bhajan group of the tiny-tots of the village, taking an active part in the historical and epic dramas enacted by his artistic family and composing ditties on social and moral issues and making the village lads sing them aloud, to the consternation of the elders. He kept away from non-vegetarian food like his saintly grandfather and avoided all places and events smacking of violence like village cock-fights or bullock-cart races. All this finally earned him the appellation ‘Brahmajnani’ from the innocent villagers and ‘Guru’ from his play-mates, who looked upon him with awe. 

Glimpses of Divinity:
There were also those glimmers of a ‘something else’ in him, which was revealed years later by his friends, when the world started coming to him. These contemporaries recall with pride how he would mysteriously materialise objects out of thin air, or pluck off-season fruits from a now-famous tree on the edge of the Chithravathi river, called the Kalpavriksha, or during times of acute water-shortage, ask them to dig at some random spot and to their delighted astonishment, fresh water would gush out to slake their thirst. He would also recite Sanskrit Slokas melodiously, with no-one around to teach them to him. However, these events would be weaved in with their normal lives, the explanation being that the village goddess, Sathyamma was responsible for them, and she would stop all these if it were to be revealed outside that circle of children. 

Declaration of Divinity:

This even tenor of his life was however soon going to change and be replaced by something undreamt of by his family or well-wishers.
The event happened at Uravakonda, where he had been sent for high school studies under his brother’s guardianship. The day was a Monday, the 20th of October, 1940. It was on this day, that he cast away his school books in an instantaneous, irrevocable gesture of detachment and called out, “I am no longer your Sathya, I AM SAI”. Addressing his sister-in-law, who saw a blinding halo of light around him, he affirmed, “I am going; I no longer belong to you; Maya has gone; My devotees are calling Me; My work is waiting.”

He refused to go back home and moved to the garden of the Inspector of Excise, Shri Anjaneyulu. There, sitting on a boulder, amidst trees, he sang his first bhajan, “Manasa bhajare guru charanam; dustara bhava-saagara taranam” (Oh mind! To cross the turbulent ocean of life, surrender at the feet of the Divine preceptor and sing His glory).
A photographer on the scene clicked a photo of young Sathya, with a small boulder intruding into the picture. When developed, the boulder had turned into the form of Shirdi Sai Baba, the Saint of Shirdi, Maharashtra, then relatively unknown in remote Andhra. 
Portents of Divinity:
Prior to this there were some indications of the approaching storm as coming events cast their shadow. On March 8th, 1940, there was the ‘scorpion-bite’ episode (later refuted by Baba), after which his personality underwent a complete change and convinced the people around him that he was possessed by a spirit. His ‘symptoms’ included: long periods of silence, sudden bursts of clairvoyance and clairaudience, learned discourses on the highest Vedantic truths, alternate laughing and weeping and so on. To cure him, the worried family tried many remedies, including inflicting torturous procedures by a tantric. The young Sathya bore everything, including the excruciating pain of the exorcist in total calmness. As He explained later: “I wanted to make known that I am Divine, impervious to human suffering, pain or joy. Even after seeing all that fortitude and that miracle of a little boy passing unscathed through all that terror, you are not convinced that I am Baba. Then, how would you have reacted if I had just made the announcement one fine day?”

On the 23rd of May, 1940, Sathya called his family around Him and materialized flowers, sugar-candy and payasam by a mere wave of His hand and distributed it to the gathering crowd of neighbours, curious onlookers and then his enraged father. The father took it all to be a trick and wanted the chapter to be closed. He armed himself with a heavy stick and threatened Sathya, “Are you a God or a ghost or a madcap?” Sathya replied: “I am SAI BABA.  I belong to Apasthamba Suthra; I am of the Bharadwaja gotra; I have come to ward off your troubles. Worship Me on Thursdays. Your Venkavadhoota (an ancestral sage) prayed that I be born in your family, so I came. Keep your minds and houses pure”.
This was the beginning of his spiritual mission, which as he explained in a historic letter to his brother in 1947, was the moral and spiritual upliftment of the masses, with a focus on nurturing and caring for the poorest of the poor in society. He was determined that no power would stop him in achieving what he had set out to do and neither would criticism deter him from this sacred task. (Here is a link to the letter in English, translated from the original Telugu version: 
From then on, till April 24th, 2011, when he shed the mortal frame, Sathya Sai Baba relentlessly and selflessly worked for the welfare of humanity, through all means and ways available to him. His most important task was the transformation of people so that they realised their innate divinity. Miracles, manifestations and materializations, for which he was famous for, were merely the means to this end of elevating the collective consciousness of people, after grabbing their attention from worldly ways. Even the colossal social service projects undertaken under his vision and guidance had this aim.  They not only reached out to the poor and the needy, but also called for the active participation of his devotees in practicing the values he preached, through service and self-transformation. . . .


 Bird's eye-view of modern-day Prasanthi Nilayam township, nestling in the Puttaparthi valley
Sathya Sai Baba’s methods of drawing people to his fold included personal interactions through the act of darshan (sight of a holy person), personal audience or the coveted ‘interview’, inspiring discourses on spiritual, ethical, educational, moral, social and other topics and in his youth, extensive touring to all parts of the country, wherein he reached out to people of all walks of life and all strata of society, expounding his philosophy (that was the essence of Vedanta) and his vision for a better world-order, that had its roots in Sanatana Dharma. The one and only foreign tour that he made was in 1968 to the African continent, visiting the countries of Zambia and Uganda. After that, despite several invitations from devotees from all over the world, including the USA, UK, he never left the soil of Bharat. He considered India the engine that would pilot the other countries towards spiritual transformation and hence his priority was to put this house in order, first.

He was truly the friend, philosopher and guide to his devotees, solving their personal problems and giving them the assurance of his concern and protection.  As many, many people would testify, he had ‘his mysterious ways’ of accomplishing this. Miracles, manifestations, cures, averting calamities and protection during a crisis, physically appearing at different places, guiding through prophetic dreams and visions are but a few. And then there are his discourses, which have now been published under the title, Sathya Sai Speaks, numbering 40 volumes. They can be accessed at:

His discourses had something for everyone; it was a blend of the ancient culture of India coupled with penetrating insights relevant to modern times, presented in a non-dogmatic and simple style. This very simple and sharp exposition of profound truths culled from traditional scriptures, uncluttered by superstitious ritual or intellectual rhetoric has made them accessible to all. This presentation of the essence of scriptural truths has also led to their profound influence on people of diverse religions like Christianity, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Sikhism, Judaism and Islam, to cite a few. However, his goal was not confined to attracting devotees and becoming an integral part of their lives. The motive was always  transformation, at both individual and collective levels so that they would become inspired co-participants in his mission of restoring the dharmic way of living. This is evinced in his different projects, spiritual and social, which will be dealt with in the next segment.

This is then the story of a spiritual leader, who rose from humble beginnings to the stature of Avatar or a Divine incarnation, and received the homage of millions during his very life-time. This is the story of a living legend, who replicated the miracles of Jesus Christ, the magnetism and sagacity of Lord Krishna, the grandeur and majesty of Lord Rama, and the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha. In his life-span of 84 years, he founded and nurtured the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation with branches in 135 countries across the world, for 50 years, presided over a unique University and an integral educational system with 99 schools in India and abroad for over 30 years, established a system of health-care with super-specialty facilities (absolutely free and comparable to the highest international standards) for 20 years, and provided a network of safe drinking water to over 30 million people in Andhra Pradesh and the city of Chennai, in the last decade of his momentous life.

NB: Before attempting to write this article termed HISTORY: HIS STORY, for the INDIA TODAY special issue, I was a bit worried. Thousands of people were expected to read the magazine, with orders being placed in advance (finally more than 2 lakh copies of the special issue were sold, including sales in India and abroad, plus issues released in Indian languages). Every article should have the standard that SAI always demands and this was the first major publication about Bhagawan in the public domain. Swami's  emphasis was always on quality and not on quantity, this I was aware of. I prayed to Bhagawan to shower His Grace for this endeavour and this was the response to prayer, the next day (December 9, 2011):
A part of my altar

Amrit drops on the centre photo of Swami and Ganesha

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