The Mission Begins
On October 20, 1940, the day after they all returned from Hampi, Sathyanarayana started for school as usual. However, within a few minutes, He returned to the house. Standing on the outer doorstep, He cast aside the books He was carrying and called out, “I am no longer your Sathya. I am Sai.” The sister-in-law came from the kitchen, only to be blinded by the splendour of the halo around Baba’s head! He addressed her, “I am going; I don’t belong to you; Maya (delusion) has gone; My Bhaktas (devotees) are calling Me; I have My Work; I can’t stay here any longer.” When the brother hurried home on hearing all this, Baba only told him, “Give up all your efforts to ‘cure’ Me. I am Sai; I do not consider Myself related to you.”
In spite of repeated pleas, Sathya would not step into that building again. He moved into the garden of the Excise Inspector Sri Anjaneyulu’s bungalow, and sat on a rock in the midst of trees. People came into the garden from all directions bringing flowers, fruits, incense and camphor to worship Him. The garden resonated to the voices of hundreds singing bhajans (devotional singing); following the lines of the first prayer that Sri Sathya Sai taught them.
“Manasa Bhajare Gurucharanam Dusthara Bhava Sagara Tharanam”
(Meditate on the Feet of the Guru in thy mind, which will take you across the wearisome sea of Samsara or worldly existence.)
A photographer came with a camera to capture a beautiful picture of the young . He wanted to remove a crude stone that was right in front of him, but Baba did not heed to the prayer. He clicked nevertheless and lo! When the photo was developed, the stone had become an image of Shirdi Sai Baba!
A few days later, Baba left Uravakonda for Puttaparthi. Soon, He shifted to the house of Karanam (the village headman) whose aged and devout wife Subbamma attended on Him with love and affection and welcomed all devotees into her spacious house; she spared no effort to make their stay happy and comfortable.
Sri Sathya Sai Avatar
Today people of all nationalities, professing different faiths, speaking different tongues and hailing from varied walks of life, throng Prasanthi Nilayam, the abode of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, to see the God that they worship, in flesh and blood. For has He not affirmed in a Discourse delivered on May 17, 1968 at the First World Conference of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations held at Mumbai – “Sarvadevatha swaroopaalanu dharinchina maanavaakaarame ee aakaaram.” (This is a human form in which every Divine entity, every Divine Principle, that is to say, all the Names and Forms ascribed by man to God, are manifest.)
Bhagawan declared in no uncertain terms the grand mission on which He has come and what He expects from us, His devotees, in a letter that He wrote to His brother Sri Seshama Raju way back in 1947:
I have a Task: To foster all mankind and ensure for all of them lives full of Ananda (Bliss).
I have a Vow: To lead all who stray away from the straight path, again into goodness and save them.
I am attached to a Work that I love: To remove the sufferings of the poor and grant them what they lack.
I have a reason to be proud, for I rescue all who worship and adore Me.
I have My definition of the devotion I expect: Those devoted to Me have to treat joy and grief, gain and loss, with equal fortitude.
These words of Bhagawan have concretised into the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations spread over 170 nations, and the various service projects that He has undertaken in the fields of education, healthcare, drinking water supply and rural development. They have not only contributed to the social, economic and spiritual uplift of mankind, but also stand out as a beacon of hope and inspiration to others to emulate those values and ideals and thus sublimate their lives. Truly, Bhagawan’s life has been a demonstration of His boundless and selfless love for His creation, for which mankind shall be grateful for all times to come.