The Legend Of “Sathyam Sivam Sundaram”

One Word… many meanings, One Glance… countless answers, One Smile… an instant glimpse of Infinity, One Touch… The Liberating Elixir, and now, with a full life-time with The All-Mighty… Who Is Sampoornam, The Sampoorna Avatar Who holds the Key for Liberation… Infinity… Oneness, can humans attempt to read Him between lines? Acting out a ‘preceding’ drama, Bhagawan had long ago told His biographer Prof Kasturi that, ‘…this Swami cannot be understood through books,’ that led to the birth of ‘Sathyam Sivam Sundaram’, the ‘Beauty Beyond Compare’ mystical biography series of The Sampoorna Avatar.   

It was an afternoon in Prasanthi Nilayam, almost seven decades ago. Prof Kasturi, Bhagawan’s biographer-cum-translator, who had ‘many pens in his pocket’, was standing on the portico of the then Sanathana Sarathi Press, absorbed in an active conversation with himself, until a ‘curious’ gentleman came by and asked him:

Are there any books on Swami available here?

Kasturi: No, we print only a monthly magazine.

The curious ‘soul’ moved on, apparently disappointed, not ‘knowing’ that he was being made an instrument in His Hand.

The said portico of the then press building could be seen from the first floor of the Mandir, that housed The Divinity in person then. Interestingly Bhagawan had ‘noticed’ the conversation, and soon sent word for Kasturi.

Ever implicitly obedient to The Master, Kasturi ‘instantly’ presented himself in The Master’s Presence.

Bhagawan: What did that person ask you?

Kasturi: He asked whether there are any books on Swami.

Bhagawan: And what did you tell him?

Kasturi: I told him there were no books.

Bhagawan: That is not the right answer; you should have told him that this Swami cannot be understood through books.

Saying so Bhagawan permitted Prof Kasturi to leave, only to ignite a burning volcano of ‘deep introspection’ inside of him.

Narrating the events after, writes Prof Kasturi.

“I came down the steps, wiser as a result of the glimpse He gave me of His inscrutability and sadder, at the prospect of no book being published on Swami, not even the one by me. Baba was looking down on me when I slowly wended my way back to the press. When I was half-way through, I looked up through the wet film. I then knew that He had read my mind, for, He waved the reassuring Palm to calm the surging sadness.”

“Consolation was conferred pretty soon. Baba was among devotees at Madras (Chennai) and Venkatagiri for a few days. At Puttaparthi we were hoping He would return by the weekend. But, His car negotiated a newly-laid macadam road and pulled up, quite surprisingly on Thursday itself. He sent for me. My heart went pit-a-pat. What was I in for? Had I done anything reprehensible? Talking ill of others or even thinking ill? My mother who realised that I was summoned into the Presence started praying that I may be pardoned for any blunder into which I had stumbled. I presented myself before Him. He smiled at my situation, eyed me from head to foot and said, “At Madras and Venkatagiri, people are asking, “Any literature on Swami?”, and you are sitting quiet here.”

Eleven years after that first meeting at Bangalore (Bengaluru) , Baba had decided that the time was ripe, the world had developed the appetite, and that the book can be served to the hungry. When the typescript was nearly ready, I struggled long to discover a title worthy of the Avatar. Baba had the letter S S S repeated on the parapet on the first floor of Prasanthi Nilayam. He referred to Himself as S S S often, in such statements as, “Unless I say S S S, how could it come through?” or “Sai Ki Sarvamoo yes yes yes” (For Sai, always, it is S S S). I decided therefore that the “Life” must have three words in its title each beginning with an S. It must also be redolent with Divine vibrations and convey the glory of God whose leela (Divine sport) the book was presuming to narrate. I roamed over Vedic, Upanishadic and Epic pastures but could not hit on any better phrase than ‘Sathyam Jnanam Anantham’ expressive of God or Brahman. S S S is Sri Sathya Sai, Sathyam has to be in the title, but, what are the other two S’s to be? Santham, Sundaram, Sivam, Santhosham, Sukham? I posed my problem before many. At last one night while waiting for a train on the platform at far-off Davangere, I decided that “Sathyam Sivam Sundaram” sounded appropriate and authentic.

Baba blessed it the instant I consulted Him at Nandanavanam, Whitefield. He went into the room behind and brought out an album of photographs. He showed me three photographs of Himself when seated on the same chair at Nandanavanam taken within a few moments of each other by Matthews, saying, “You can have these three together, side by side on the cover. See! This is a little serious Sathyam. Here you find Me with the bud of a smile, as Sivam, and this is a full smile, Sundaram. Sathyam, Sivam, Sundaram is good”, He said with a pat on my shoulder.

II Samastha Lokah Sukhino Bhavnatu II