Shirdi Story...       
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The Shirdi Connection
(The Shirdi Story continues)

May 23rd 1940. The hamlet of Puttaparthi. A young lad of fourteen, with a face radiant with compassion and love, was surrounded by the village folk. He was apparently materializing sugar candy…out of thin air! His father too, skeptically looked on. This was not the first time his Sathya was putting up such a 'show'. Sathya had been behaving strangely for quite some time, exhibiting supernatural powers. He lectured on sublime spiritual topics, way beyond a boy of his age. The father, and in fact, Sathya's entire family was perplexed and worried at the same time. That day, the father could no longer tolerate this behaviour. He was convinced that his son was possessed. May be by some evil spirit. He took hold of a stick and demanded, addressing the so-called spirit. "Who are you? Are you God, Ghost or Devil?".

" I am SAI BABA" came the reply.

That was the first time the world was made aware of the Shirdi Connection.

Sathya went on " I am Sai Baba of Shirdi. I have taken birth in your family because of the prayers of your ancestor Venkavadhootha".

The Floral DeclarationEveryone present was stunned. They hadn't heard anything, either of Shirdi or of Sai Baba!
Someone challenged Sathya " If you are really Sai Baba, show us some proof!" Sathya picked up a bunch of jasmine flowers and threw them on to the ground. When they fell to the ground, they neatly arranged themselves into the words SAI BABA, in the Telugu script.

With passing days, Sathya only reinforced this revelation.

Manasa Bhajare GurucharanamOn October 20th, 1940, at Uravakonda, He came back from school, threw his books and declared," I am no longer your Sathya! I am Sai Baba. I do not belong to you. I have my work. My devotees are calling me." He walked into the neighbor's garden, sat on a rock and gave His first message, to the faithful who had assembled there, in the form of a bhajan: Manasa Bhajare Gurucharanam…

A bystander photographed the young Sai Baba sitting on the rock and leading the bhajan. The image that was developed had a small statue of Shirdi Baba in front of the young Sathya. Nothing strange, except for the fact that there was never a statue in front of Sathya in the first place! Sathya had reinforced His identity. The world now hailed Him as Sathya Sai Baba.

The word soon spread that the Sai Baba of Shirdi had come again, as Sai Baba of Puttaparthi.
Sai Baba born again? At, what's that place… Puttaparthi? Many of the Devotees of the Lord of Shirdi were curious. Some came to Sathya, in humility and faith, to see and hear their Lord again. Others came to challenge this 'young upstart' who claimed to be Shridi Sai. They stayed back, as believers.

Smt. SundarammaAsk Sundaramma, 105 years old, living at Prasanthi Nilayam . Back in 1910, when she was 13 years old, her husband was working as a stationmaster at Manmad. Manmad was just a few hours from Shirdi, the abode of Sai Baba. The husband was a devotee of Baba and he, along with his wife, went to have the darshan of Shirdi Baba. In that trip, Baba called the husband and gave him a silver coin with his padukas (feet) embossed on it. He told the husband, ' Worship these Feet everyday' (In other words 'Manasa Bhajare Guru Charanam'!).

THE  SACRED PADUKAS GIVEN BY SHIRDI BABAYears rolled by and the husband passed away. In the 1960's when Sundaramma was told by one of her friends that Sai baba had reincarnated again in the hamlet of Puttaparthi, she wouldn't believe it. But her curiosity got the better of her and she came to see the young Satya Sai Baba, who claimed to be 'her' Shirdi Baba. Quite some days went by and Sundaramma was not convinced that Satya Sai could be the same as Shirdi Sai. She remarked to one of her friends, who was a devotee " I will never bow down to this Baba. My lord is Shirdi Baba alone. I am going to leave this place soon". Word reached Swami about Sundaramma's plans. The time had come to prove to her, the Shirdi connection. One day, He quietly walked into Sundaramma's quarters. She was cooking something. "Sundaramma! Is it true that you want leave this place?", He asked. "Yes Swami, I would rather go to Shirdi than stay in this godforsaken village!" She was still cooking, her eyes not meeting Swami's.

"Do you want to see your Shirdi Baba?" , Swami asked.

"I would love to! ….But alas! He had taken Samadhi long, long ago", said Sundaramma, still facing the other side.

" Do you still want to see your Shirdi Baba?" , Swami persisted.

" But how is that…. possible? He is no longer here!", she said turning back to see Swami.

And what she saw…opened the floodgates of memories from her early years. She couldn't believe it. Yes, He was there: Her Baba from Shirdi, in flesh and blood! With tears in her eyes she bowed down to His feet. Time stood still….space no longer existed…Shirdi had merged with Parthi…. only she and her SAI BABA remained!
And she never ever left Prasanthi Nilayam. Even to this day, in her feeble voice, she tells the devotees, her marvelous story!

The Tonga at ChincoliThe Chaitanya Jyothi museum, at Puttaparthi, showcases today one of the greatest testimonials for the Lord's Shirdi Connection. When Swami visited it recently, He was shown a tonga, a horse driven cart. What was so special about this tonga? Well, this tonga was from Chincholi, a former princely state in South India. When the aged Queen of Chincholi met Satya Sai Baba for the first time, Swami remarked and described how He had visited Chincholi earlier, while in His previous body! This was in fact true! Shirdi Baba had indeed made an extra corporeal visit to Chincholi many a time! Swami went on to describe the quarters of the palace that He stayed in, the personal moments that He had spent with the Raja and the Queen and of course, the long drives He had, with the Raja, in the Tonga! The accuracy of the details, known only to the Queen, was unbeliveble! The evidence was impeccable. Here was the same Baba of Shirdi! The Queen was moved, and she presented to Swami, the tonga that He had used as Shirdi Sai. This was the very same tonga, which was shown to Swami at Chaitanya Jyothi. When Swami saw it, He casually remarked, that there used to be a small lantern holder, on side of the tonga, which was now missing. It was, as though He rode in it, just yesterday!

PARTHI SAI UNVIELING SHIRDI SAIOn the morning of 15th October 2002, exactly 84 years after Shirdi Baba had taken Samadhi, yet another chapter was added to the Shirdi connection. On that Vijay Dashami morning, Swami went up the hill, adjoining the Vidyagiri stadium. Halfway to the hilltop, between the statues of Shiva and Krishna, was a tall statue, draped in silk, waiting to be unveiled. Swami pressed a remote controlled button and the silk veils fell down, to reveal the beautiful form of Shirdi Baba. The statue of His Previous incarnation stands today, amidst the 'Grand Gallery of Gods', in the Stadium.

Whenever Swami refers to the Shirdi Avatar, He says ' Purva Sariramulo…' which means 'when I was in the previous body.' The statement awakens us to the fact that He is the one who was in Shirdi. And that now He has reincarnated in Parthi. But it also points to a subtler and more profound truth: He transcends both the places. He transcends time. He transcends bodies. For, He is the Spirit. The Immortal Spirit, that reincarnates from time to time, for the redemption of Humanity.


Volume 01: PDS / 04 Date : OCT 15 2003