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Features | Experience of the Divinity of Bhagavan by Devotees | Group VII | Mr. S. Venkata Rao

Mr. S. Venkata Rao,
Siddipeta - 502103.

Tel: 08457-223278

      Mr. S. Venkata Rao (73), an advocate, relates a few of his experiences of the Divinity of Bhagavan in his own words.

'I read an article on Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in the Illustrated Weekly of India in 1968 or 1969. That is the first time I came to know of Swami. There was a photograph of Swami in the journal.

My wife passed away on March 20, 1972, leaving behind three sons and a daughter. The last child was a boy of just six months. Many of my friends, relatives, clients and well-wishers used to come to me and express condolences. Among them was an English lecturer, Mr. Badari Narayana Rao with whom I had only a nodding acquaintance then. He was a devotee of Bhagavan. He used to come almost daily and talk to me, possibly, to serve as a diversion. As he was coming to me frequently, I thought, one day, to return the call. So on April 27 I went to his house. We talked about spiritual matters.

'We have bhajan in our house now' he told me after a while, 'would you mind staying on?'

I gladly agreed. They kept the photograph of Sri Sathya Sai on a simhasan and started doing bhajan. It seemed to be a private affair as those participated were his family members, with my exception. I took it as a routine thing, but soon realised that it was not. As they recited a song - which I still feel ringing in my ears - Chanda Kirana Kula Mandala Ram…, I felt an inexplicable vibration all over. My eyes were full of tears, which was an experience unknown to me earlier. In one word, I lost myself in bliss.

From then onwards, I was attending bhajans regularly. After sometime I came to know that Swami was coming to Hyderabad. I went to Hyderabad with a few friends. We went to the house of one Mr. Prasada Rao, a contractor, where Swami was expected. They erected a shamiana in front of the house. Swami arrived there from the airport in a Fiat car. I was sitting in the darshan line. He came straight to me and laid both His hands on my shoulders with love and affection. 'Bangaru' He said to me, 'you have come! Happy.' It was the first time for me to see Him. I should have wondered why He was accosting me as if I was well known to Him, but I was in no mood for such analysis. I was in tears overwhelmed with joyful emotion. I stuck to Him as a piece of iron did to a magnet. I went in my car following Him wherever He went.

In October, 1972, I went to Prasanthi Nilayam and had darshan of Bhagavan. There were some trucks which brought some girders. I was told that Swami had materialized a ring for one of the drivers. I went to them and was asking the beneficiary about it. He was telling me when Swami came there.

'Why don't you go and carry some bricks?' He told me, 'instead of simply standing here?'

I saw some people carrying bricks. I never did such work before, but went and joined them. Though I was not used to it, I felt happy to participate in seva along with others.

On return, I started to do narayanaseva in my own humble way. From 1973 onwards we all witnessed a series of miracles at Siddipeta. One day I sat in the bhajan in Mr. Badari Narayana Rao's house. Suddenly, I observed honey coming down in a streak from the photograph of Swami. I was stunned and felt excited. Since then there were a number of miracles occurring there. Vibhuti, kumkum, haldi, etc were all emanating. When I was there, we found an empty vessel kept there becoming full with theertham. Some notes were also falling at the feet of the photograph. Some instructions were found written on them such as 'next bhajan at so and so's house.'

Mr. Badari Narayana was a painter also. His son Gopi was about 12 years old. Sometimes Swami used to come over him. Then he used to talk and behave like Swami. Mr. Badari Narayana did not believe in his son's claim that he was possessed by Bhagavan at times. He blindfolded the boy one day as a test. The boy began painting as if he could see normally. Then Mr. Badari Narayana hid his painting-brush thinking that the boy would not know it as he was blindfolded. The boy did not try to locate it. Instead, he quietly asked his father to return the brush.

Originally Mr. Badari Narayana was a devotee of Kusumaharanath Baba. One day Bhagavan told him on the astral plane that He and Kusumaharanath are one. He asked him 'I want to take meals here today. Keep one plate for me and another for Kusumaharanath'. He also told him the menu. Mr. Badari Narayana served as directed, and the plate kept for Bhagavan was found empty as if someone had eaten it all.

In my house also, I arranged one simhasanam for Bhagavan in the hall. We kept a very good photograph of Bhagavan in that hall. One photograph (bust of Swami) was kept right before me in my office room. I used to lie down in the rear portion of the hall where Swami's simhasanam and photograph were kept. One day, I went to the Court and returned. Then I found vibhuti and kumkum on the photograph. I suspected some person had wantonly done so to excite me. Next day I locked the hall and went to the Court. When I returned, I found kumkum and vibhuti on Swami's photograph.

One day we were taking food with a few guests. There was a photograph of Lord Venkateswara there. Suddenly, one of the guests cried excitedly. 'Look! There is vibhuti on Venkateswara!' We looked. It was there. Then another cried 'here also.' We looked. There was vibhuti on another photograph on another side.

One day I was in my office room. I used to look up often at the bust (photograph) of Swami kept on the wall before me. When I looked up as was my wont, I saw a small lump of butter on the photograph looking like a large, white button on His robe. Butter should gradually streak down. But this was like that for a few days.

Mr. Badari Narayana Rao, being an artiste, designed a mini santi-vedika in my pooja and installed Swami's photograph on it. Santi-vedika was a raised dais on which Swami used to take out lingam for Sivarathri at Prasanthi Nilayam before the Poornachandra Auditorium was built. In addition, I had another photograph of Bhagagan. One day two doctors - Dr. Vikram and Dr. Jayaprada - came to my house.

'Would you like to have it?' I asked Dr. Vikram showing the additional photograph I had of Swami.

'Would it also emanate vibhuti?' Dr. Vikram quipped. No sooner did he say so in lighter vein than vibhuti emanated on that very photograph. He carried it along with vibhuti carefully to his house. Later Dr. Vikram married Dr. Jayaprada.

In 1976, we started Sri Sathya Sai Samithi and began regular bhajans and seva activities. We started doing akhanda bhajan on important occasions like Sivarathri, December 31, etc. I constructed a bhajan hall in my house in which bhajan is being conducted daily without break.

I applied for a seat in Swami's school at Prasanthi Nilayam for my third son Krishna Rao and also for the son of my brother-in-law. We had no expectation and made no effort. But Swami, out of His abundant love and compassion, gave seats to both. This was in 1984.

I used to come to Prasanthi Nilayam regularly for seva every year. We used to be in the sheds and have food in the canteen.

I used to get phone calls from my son and my brother-in-law's son from Prasanthi Nilayam. In 1989, they used to ring up often and tell me that Swami was asking for me, but I did not take it seriously. One day Swami, I was told later, asked my son 'has your father come?'

'No, Swami' my son replied, 'my uncle has come.'

'Who is that uncle twinkle?' Swami quipped, 'call him'. My brother-in-law went in for the interview.

Finally I decided to go to Prasanthi Nilayam.

'I am coming on February 13' I told my son on phone. It was in 1989. But I went on February 12 itself. I went to the shed and was removing my shirt with a view to taking bath and getting ready. Then, I was told later, Swami asked my son 'where is your father?'

'He will come tomorrow, Swami' my son replied.

'He is in the shed, you fool' Swami told him, 'go and call him'.

The two boys came to the shed running.

'Swami calls you at once' they said.

I took bath, got ready and went to Swami. Swami was standing in the verandah waiting for me.

'You said you would come on the 13th, but came on the 12th' Swami said. He then asked 'you know Chavan?' Mr. S.B.Chavan was a great political leader from Maharashtra. He occupied many high positions of power. 'Chavan is addressing the students' Swami told me, 'I will see you in the evening'.

'Where are you put up?' He asked.

'In the shed' I replied.

At once, Swami sent a jeep with my boys and got all my baggage shifted to R3. In the evening darshan, Swami came to me. 'You have geezer in your house (at Siddipeta)' Swami told me, 'there is geezer in the room given to you now in R3. Have you shifted to the room?'

'Yes, Swami' I replied. I could not fathom the depth of His love which was coming like a big waterfall on me.

I was too overwhelmed by His abundant grace and love even to reflect on it.

The strap of my watch was loose. My son set it right. That morning, Swami came to us. 'What?' He asked my son, 'have you set the strap of your father's watch correctly?' We were dumbfounded that He had His attention, in spite of His engagement with the whole creation, riveted on us, the humble selves. Then He turned to me. 'Why are you sleeping on the floor?' He asked, 'you gave away two cots in the room to your people?'

What could I say? He knows everything. 'I usually lie on the floor, Swami' I replied, 'it is my habit.'

He was calling us in the morning and evening for interviews. In one of the interviews, He presented a watch to me.

One day He called a student sitting there and told me 'see. He went to attend a seminar. They suddenly asked him to speak. He spoke to a thunderous applause!' He was happy just like any parent would feel happy at his child's achievement.

'On what topic did you speak?' Swami asked the boy.

'On artificial intelligence, Swami!' he replied with humility.

I could not make out its meaning.

'What is artificial intelligence, Swami?' I asked.

Swami smiled and looked at the boy who explained it.

The boy's father was one Mr. Murthy. He, too, had lost his wife at a young age. She too had left behind three kids - one a few months old.

'See, his father entrusted the kids to me' Swami told me, 'and you! You have not come till I called you.'

In one of the interviews Swami materialised a large size Tirupati-laddu; warm as if it had just been prepared. He gave it as prasadam to all in the room except me.

'You are a diabetic' He said. In fact, I had been a diabetic since 1987.

Then he materialised a fruit. I could not make out what fruit it was. He held it with both hands and split it into two equal halves as if made with some precise instrument. He gave it to me.

'Eat' He said.

'What is this, Swami' I asked with hesitation.

'Smell it' Swami said, 'it is panneerkaya. You can smell its perfume.'

I ate a little. I was thinking of giving a little of it to others present. But Swami said 'eat'. I had to eat both halves as He was insisting.

'I am coming to Hyderabad' Swami told me, 'on March 25. No! On March 24.'

I returned to my place and went to Hyderabad with my mother. Swami was at Madras. The then State President, Mr. Anil Kumar went to Madras to accompany Swami to Hyderabad. Mr. Anil Kumar came to me after they had arrived at Sivam.

'He was talking about you' Mr. Anil Kumar told me, 'both on land and in the sky. It seems you had a nice day at Hyderabad eating watermelon at the house of Mr. Satyamurthy, and going to Vidya Vihar.'

That was what exactly I had done.

I sat in the darshan line at Sivam. Swami came to me.

'I will see you in the evening' He whispered as if telling something confidential to me.

At the end, I got up. Some hefty person had sat on my lalchi. I did not notice it. When I got up, my lalchi tore away. I had to rush to my room and changed the lalchi and returned. Mr. Satyamurthy called me in for lunch. All were seated for the lunch and were waiting for Swami to join.

Swami came downstairs. 'Where is Siddipeta Venkata Rao?' He asked, 'call him.'

Mr. Ramana Rao and others began frantically searching for me not knowing that I was inside for the lunch. Finally they located me and I ran to Swami.

Swami materialized some vibhuti and gave me.

'Come' He told me, 'let us go and have lunch.'

There was a table and chair for Swami. All others were served lunch in the leaves placed on the floor. One had to squat and eat. I wanted to go back to the place where I had sat earlier, but Swami made me sit near His chair.

During that trip Swami showed me Mr. Anil Kumar; he was at a distance.

'Who is He?' Swami asked.

I was perplexed. How to answer that question?

Meanwhile Swami Himself answered in a low tone.

'Principal of Brindavan Campus' Swami said.

It was, indeed, news.

Not even Mr. Anil Kumar had known about it. Swami, out of His abundant affection and love, confided in me.

Swami asked me to come to Brindavan.

'May I bring mother?' I asked prayerfully.

'Certainly' Swami said, 'I will give room near mine.'

I went to Brindavan with my mother. We checked into a lodge, got ready and went to Brindavan for darshan.

Swami came to me. 'I will see you after the bhajan' He told me.

He called me after the bhajan. I prostrated before Him.

'Where are you put up?' was His question.

'Outside, Swami' I replied.

'Have you no shame' Swami chided me, 'to stay in outside lodge, having come to Mother's place?'

I was in tears seeing the heavy downpour of His love on my humble self for no reason.

He called my son and another 'go and get his luggage.'

I tried to tell Swami that they did not know where my things were, but He did not allow me. Somehow they managed to get my luggage. Swami asked a room inside the Ashram near Trayee to be vacated, cleaned and given to me.

My mother brought, in a steel tiffin box, kova and palli-garelu for Swami.

'Venkatramamma, come here' Swami called. She held hesitantly the tiffin box looking at Swami prayerfully.

'I don't eat sweet' Swami said, 'but I eat palli-garelu.'

He took one and ate. Though He said 'I will eat all', He did not eat then. The box was sent into His room.

While taking it, Swami said 'I saw when you were frying these things in your kitchen'. He then went on describing the kitchen in detail as if He was there.

Swami was giving us interview there also daily. He materialised a ring for my mother and put it on her finger Himself. Swami gave three saris, to my mother and two ladies of our family who accompanied her, to wear on Ugadi day. That evening he sent an expensive silk sari for my mother.

'Swami gave me a sari with His Divine hands' my mother said returning it, 'I will wear that only as it is more valuable to me than any other sari.' We were there at Brindavan on Telugu New Year day in His Divine presence. Swami saw one day that I was going to canteen for food. Swami ordered that meals should be served to us in our room itself.

Swami was going to Prasanthi Nilayam. I wanted to take leave of Him to return to my place.

'Stay today' Swami told me, 'see how Brindavan looks when Swami is not here and then go.'

I was there when He got into the car. My elder son was among the crowd. Swami cared to wave to him before leaving.

He gifted me a watch in 1995.

Earlier, in 1993, I went to Prasanthi Nilayam. Swami called me for interview. He materialised a gold chain with a rudraksha and put it around my neck and said, 'this is your shastipoorthi year!'

In October 1993, we brought the plan of the mandir which we had proposed to construct at Siddipeta. He called us into the bhajan mandir. He blessed the plans and said, 'I came in like this and came out like this. I went and saw it.'

We placed in the mandir a photograph of Bhagavan looking like the person who entered the hall from one side and was about to leave from another side.

We wanted to train children in recital of Veda. But acharyas hesitated to teach the kids for traditional reasons. We tried to train them through cassettes. Swami's invisible presence guided them, and today they recite Vedic hymns excellently for it was Swami who had trained them. It was, indeed, a miracle.

We requested one Mr. Rukmabhatla Narasimha Swamy to write some songs on Bhagavan. He did not know anything about Bhagavan. He had never seen Bhagavan before. We gave him a copy of Satyam Sivam Sundaram. After reading it, he wrote beautiful songs describing His glory. That, too, was a miracle. He recorded the songs, and a cassette was presented to Bhagavan.'

-- Mr. S. Venkata Rao

    (As narrated to Mr. B. Parvatala Rao at Prasanthi Nilayam on 13.07.2006)