Sanathana Sarathi- A Poem

Named after Himself, proclaiming His unique role as Eternal Charioteer, Sanathana Sarathi, the Monthly Spiritual Journal founded by Bhagawan has been the guiding light eversince its inception, permeating Frangrant Divine’s Words of Eternal Wisdom. Launched on this day, 16th February, fifty two winters back on the auspicious occasion of Maha Sivarathri, Sanathana Sarathi has been serving the mankind as the official mounthpiece from Prasanthi Nilayam. Commemorating the day, on its fifty third birthday, a sneak peek into its illustrious journey….in Ms. Jullie Chaudhury’s poetic verse.

Tum Ho Sanathana, Oh Sai,
Tum Hi Ho Ekmatra Saathi aur Sarathi,
Tum ho Mata, Pita,
Guru, Bandhu, Sakha,
Saath Saath Hamesha,
Oh Pavitra Atma… Sai Maa…

An eternal stream of love,
Envelopes us from all sides, below and above,
Never alone is the soul as it journeys on,
Not only from dawn to dusk and dusk to dawn,
For the soul took many a form, many a body,
In the course of all its voyages it had a Sanathana Sarathi,
Any wonder Who it could be…?
Steering the vehicle of the soul,
Ever onwards towards the ultimate goal,
From the time of creation through lifetimes gone by,
The Eternal Charioteer has always been Mother Sai…

In His first public discourse in 1953,
Bhagawan did reveal on this sacred day of Vijaya Dashami -
The first sixteen years was dedicated,
To the sport of the Divine child -
To Bala leela,
The next sixteen years in giving miracles,
That gave joy to all -
His Mahima,
Then onwards to teach erring humanity -
On how to live a life based upon -
Sathya, Dharma, Shanti, Prema and Ahimsa….

It was now 1958,
The second sixteen year phase had slipped into history’s gate,
Time for Upadesh that would reach four corners of the world,
Messages from the Master had to be unfurled,
According to the celestial blue print, in keeping with His plan,
The eyes of destiny had already chosen the right man…

Let us pause for awhile and peruse through ‘Loving God’,
The words of Prof. Kasturi and the divine accord,
After having retired from the teaching profession he was free,
And was ‘comfortably ensconced close to Baba in Puttaparthi’,
In literary circles well known was he,
As Programme Director he was offered a position,
With Bangalore Broadcasting Station,
He was persuaded otherwise, though he wanted to refuse,
As Bhagawan said – his talents must be put to use…

But soon his exile in Bangalore would come to an end,
The Lord was arriving there to make an amend,
He was visiting someone who lived five minutes away,
Prof. Kasturi asked a child of the domestic help to keep a vigil that day,
‘For a Figure in an orange robe alighting from a big car…’
Within ten minutes of Baba’s arrival he was in the veranda,
Amazement reflected on the neighbour’s face,
The Lord spotted him, such was His grace,
Divine arms on the shoulders He did place,
Softly He said to Prof. Kasturi,
“I have work for you now at Puttaparthi”…

“A monthly magazine is to be started, its name can you guess?”
‘I couldn’t delve into His divine will, I did confess,
Yet at His insistence, I suggested names that in my mind did dawn,
Brushed aside my suggestions did He, for the title was foregone,
Sanathana Sarathi’ is what He had decided upon…’

Sanathana means Eternal, the timeless one;
Sarathi is defined as Charioteer.
Recognise God as the Sarathi, the charioteer of our life,
Yield wholeheartedly to His direction,
And reach your destination expediently.
That was the message in the name.”
As Bhagawan did explain…

‘The name has the fragrance of the Bhagawad Gita,
Calling forth the Divine Charioteer – Krishna,
Of man the Supreme Preceptor…’

Writings from Bhagawan Himself graced this magazine,
Blessed with a legacy supreme,
The ways of man and humanity to preen,
The very first series was of love a steady stream,
Presented in a serial form that was aptly titled ‘Prema Vahini’,
Love formed of our being the very basis,
Bhagawan wanted to propagate this…

It was unheard of before – epoch making,
Imagine the story of Rama in His own handwriting,
Bhagawan has rewritten man’s destiny,
From the perils of Kaliyug, He has saved humanity…

On 16th February 1958, on the auspicious evening of Shivaratri,
Bhagawan did present the inaugural issue of ‘Sanathana Sarathi’,
On the first page of this premier issue He did announce,
“From this day, our Sanathana Sarathi,
Is on the march, leading the army,
Of the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Sashtras,
In the campaign against falsehood, injustice, viciousness,
And evil – the minions of the spirit of selfishness,
May this ‘Charioteer’ fight for world prosperity,
And by making the drum of victory,
Sound and resound,
Spread joy among all mankind.”

Due to the inputs from the Divine,
For the magazine many subscribers did sign,
This was the time when,
There was not even one good road in Puttaparthi,
This little rural hamlet lacked even electricity,
It took a minimum of two days to compose one page,
On a manual typesetting letterpress machine,
Whose age was beyond gauge,
Posting the magazine by the 16th of every month,
With the help of only one assistant,
Was quite an ordeal,
For the Lord’s blessings Prof. Kasturi did appeal…

Putting together the types,
Narasimhachari, was the sole helper at the treadle,
He prepared the pages,
And away he did pedal,
At one time to print two pages,
This took ages,
Whenever there was a delay or he was found dozing,
Prof. Kasturi offered help in footwork and composing,
Each time the offer was accepted,
Often shocking the Professor somewhat,
The helper sang bhajans, to lighten the tough job he had got…

With each festival the volume of subscribers did increase,
The very idea of Sanathana Sarathi did them all please,
With the magazine, devotees found a link with their Lord,
Their homes they wanted to sanctify with the words of God,
From Prashanti Nilayam Post Office, copies did they post,
Devotees would cherish the name on the envelope,
They rightly supposed…

To trim the pages Prof. Kasturi had to travel to Bangalore,
This journey saw many an encore,
Gigantic boxes to be loaded on a bullock cart,
To Bukkapatnam, was how it did start,
Form thereon they were put on the roof of a bus to Penukonda,
Then carried to the platform by a Tarzan of a porter – Narsappa,
At Bangalore station, porters loaded it into a horse drawn carriage,
Leading to a Press that could trim each page,
From there the road led to a devotee’s house for the night,
Where a dozen men volunteered with great delight,
To put the copies into wrappers with addresses affixed already,
For the remaining hours of the night, to sleep they were then free…

Come morning the schedule was reversed for the return journey,
Horse carriage, porters, train ride, Penukonda Station, you see,
Then Narsappa – the Tarzan, level crossing, Bukkapatnam by bus,
Finally arriving at the Post Office – the boxes they had to heave,
The cherished Prashanti Nilayam stamp, the copies would receive,
To be posted to 3000 homes across the globe,
Their joy one need not probe,
Awaiting the holy words of the One clad in an orange robe…

All was not drudgery; there were moments of divine humor too,
Lessons to be learnt also by me and you,
And so it came to pass, that one evening in 1959,
Prof. Kasturi was called to the room of the Divine,
The Lord did inform him that the editor of a leading daily,
From Hyderabad, you see,
Had asked for his photograph,
To announce him as the Editor of the Sanathana Sarathi…
Baba Himself would take the picture and went so far,
As to select for this occasion – the special camera…

The Professor went to groom himself for the shot,
Let us listen what delight this information brought,
He rushed down the eighteen steps for a quick facelift,
Shaved and starched he returned swift,
The Lord held him by the shoulders and positioned him too,
So the picture would present a pleasant view,
Bhagawan peered through the lens, oh what grace,
And even commented on his photogenic face,
Elated was he that his picture would be seen by so many,
As Editor of the Sanathana Sarathi…

Cautioning him with a ‘steady’,
Immediately followed by a ‘ready’,
Bhagawan did click,
Unsuspecting was he of the heavenly trick,
‘A black hairy blotch with a flashing tail,
Bounced on my neck from inside the camera…
With a shrill screech,
I hopped into a corner of the room, casting away the horrid thing.
Was it a rat? Was it dead? No.
It was a cotton mouse that was cunningly tucked inside the dummy camera, To be shot out when clicked.
Baba had a hearty laugh at my panic.
I too laughed to relieve the tension….’
This is what in his own words Prof. Kasturi does mention…

Let us continue with his dialogue,
Which in his autobiography ‘Loving God’, he did log,
‘He reprimanded me gently,
For swallowing the story,
He had invented.
He reminded me,
That my being the Editor was not the kind of news,
The world was interested in.
“Lasting fame is to be sought,
Through newspapers, which turn into trash the very next morning,
But through dedicated service to God and the godly.”
With these words Prof. Kasturi was set free…

There were no campaigns to enlist subscribers for Sanathana Sarathi,
Subscription fees were accepted for a year only,
This was according to Bhagawan’s decree,
It was for the readers to decide if they wanted to continue,
The diet placed before them, for that was their due,
About subscription lapse no caution letters too,
“The hunger that hurts is caution enough.
The Sarathi should be awaited, accepted,
Treasured and studied with eagerness.
Missing it must be as saddening as missing a companion,
On a journey through a strange land.”
With simple words His ways, the Lord does make us understand…

‘The grandeur of the omniscient teacher that Baba is,
Is now impressively evident to me’,
Are the astute words of the late Prof. Kasturi,
His earnest dedication a perfect example forever will be,
In 1970 during Shivarathri,
With a pen Baba drew on the back of an envelope, you see,
A figure with symbols of five major religions – ever so holy,
A lotus pillar in the centre did suggest to you and me,
That the spiritual aspirant could climb through,
Any one of these paths and achieve success anew,
A merging with God,
Would be his ultimate reward,
A symbol of the universality of Baba’s message,
Written in the open book of His life, at each stage,
On every page,
That states out aloud,
And does every devotee proud,
“There is only one religion,
The religion of love…”
It is this love that helps us rise above…

As Bhagawan does say,
“The Sanathana Sarathi is the result of My Sankalpa (Will),
My resolve, My Venture, My Uthsaha,
My Bliss, My Ananda,
When I choose a course, nothing can withstand My resolve.
Prema is of the Lord.
The love you bear to yourself is the nature of Atma,
And Atma is the Lord.
My emphasis is on Prema – in all its forms of affection,
My Message, My Mission is Prema,
Prema, Prema – nothing else.
Prema is the substance of the Vedas,
Prema is the substance of Dharma,
When Prema fills the heart, fear and wickedness vanish.”

The soul took many a form, many a body,
In the course of all its voyages it had a Sanathana Sarathi,
Any wonder Who it could be…?
Steering the vehicle of the soul,
Ever onwards towards our ultimate goal,
From the time of creation through lifetimes gone by,
The Eternal Charioteer has always been Mother Sai…

Tirelessly the Master does go on,
For humanity to herald in a new dawn,
We have to make a myriad amend,
To take stock of our ways and do them mend,
The Master’s words we need to put into practice,
Or destiny will laugh at us and time will dismiss,
The immense fortune bestowed upon us by fate,
Elevated right now is humanity’s state,
That the Avatar is our Guru,
As our Sanathana Sarathi, He has expanded our view,
We must live to please only Him – this is the truth for me and you,
Or else we will be left with regrets and rue,
That which benefits the Universe pleases Him too,
Respect and reverence for all life forms – for that is their due,
Samastha Lokaah Sukhino Bhavantu,
Peace for all the worlds is the Master’s cue,
Samastha Lokaah Sukhino Bhavantu,
Mineral world, plants, animals, humans, the Cosmos through…
Samastha Lokaah Sukhino Bhavantu…
The ‘Sanathana Sarathi’ deserves its rightful due…
Together let us make ‘Eternal Charioteer’s’ dream true…