Print this Page


Just imagine! This Puttaparthi that was once a hamlet with a population of just a little over hundred people, has now grown to a town with a population of about a lakh of people. Just wait and see - in a short while, Puttaparthi is going to become a landmark on the map of the world. …. It would become a name to be reckoned with in every major developed country in the world such as Japan, Germany, Italy, France, etc. People everywhere would start regarding Puttaparthi as an important location. The students of Puttaparthi should realise their good fortune.

- Bhagavan Baba
19th October, 1999.

Most of you might have come to Puttaparthi one time or the other to have Swami's Darshan or heard of it from some friend of yours who has been there. Or at least seen pictures of it. Whatever may be the case, if one sees Puttaparthi today, one would scarcely believe that this is the same village, which 40 years back, has been called 'ten minutes past the stone age' !

 HIRING A BULLOCK CARTThis is what one finds in Puttaparthi today: a sprawling, organised self sustained township, The Prasanthi nilayam. A university offering the latest courses. A super speciality hospital with state of the art equipment. Busy streets with people of all nations, colours, creeds and languages. Automatic teller machines, branches of major banks, money exchanges, internet parlours, highrise buildings and cellular towers. Puutaparthi is truly global.

But walk further down from the ashram and suddenly the landscape changes. There are closely spaced houses in narrow streets inhabited by simple and innocent village people. Across the street one may find a farmer plying his produce on the bullock cart to the local market. Come rainy season, and scores of village children can be seen taking a swim in the adjacent Chitravathi river. Puttaparthi is a village, a beautiful typical Indian village.

To sum it up, it is a Global Village connected by the road, the rail and the air. WADING ACROSS CHITRAVATHI

Reaching the Lord's abode has become relatively easy nowadays but half a century back it was different. It could probably be counted in the same league as trekking to the top of the Everest! There was a reason for this: The time had not yet come for the world to witness His Glory! The Lord had to give access only to a few privileged and persistent devotees who did not mind any difficulties in reaching His abode. The first difficulty of course was that people did not know that such a village existed!

THE PENUKONDA STATIONTo get a feel for how it was to come to Puttaparthi about half a century ago, let us turn to Mrs. Vijayakumari who first came there in 1945 as a small girl, along with her family. We pick up her narration from the time their party got down from the train at Penukonda Railway Station.

"It was in October 1945 that we first went there. Our train reached Penukonda station at 1 A.M. It was pitch dark. There was not even a platform, and we had to jump quickly from the compartment…. There was not a soul in the station. Outside the station, we saw a few horse carts. Father said, 'It seems there is a choultry [a free lodge] in the town. Let us go.' ….It took us one hour to reach the village. The driver asked us to get down, pointed to a stone slab on the wayside and asked us to wait there. To our query, 'How is one to spend the night here?' he gruffly answered, 'Who will open the choultry for you in the middle of the night? Wait there till the morning.' With a frown on his face he dumped our luggage on the ground and left. ….

We spent the rest of the night in that shed, waiting for dawn. The Rain God sent a downpour for full two hours. THE BUS JOURNEY…. A troop of monkeys came from apparently nowhere and started attacking our luggage…At last the bus appeared. But getting tickets was a problem. It was only after we sat in the bus that we came to know antagonism towards Swami was the main reason for not issuing tickets to us. They were using foul language. 'That little fellow the size of a finger proclaims, 'I am Sai Baba,' and all of you believe him and run after him like mad people.' Not knowing what to do, we closed our ears and sat silently. Just then, our vehicle started moving. It was not a bus; it would be more appropriate to call it a box made up of tin sheets. ….

We reached Bukkapatnam around twelve noon. It was a tiny hamlet; there were hardly about ten houses. We BUKKAPATNAMwere told that from here, we still had to go another five miles in a bullock cart….. A cart was engaged. … There was nothing but four uneven wooden planks, on either side. …. It was a horrible road, full of ups and downs. We felt that walking might be better than travelling in the cart. Whenever the cart moved on a slope, the luggage slid towards the front of the cart, and we had to cling to the boxes, making sure that we ourselves did not fall down. ….

Finally, we reached Karnataka Nagepalli. We assumed that this was our CITIZENS OF A GLOBAL VILLAGEdestination but were dismayed when a man told us, 'No, you have to cross the river and go beyond.' … When we stepped into the river with gnashing teeth, our feet seem to be sinking in elbow-deep water. Like the bullocks, we too trudged on behind the cart driver, panting and puffing. Our throats were parched and dry. … Somehow we crossed the river and reached the other shore….Some men were standing on top of a hill in front of us, waved to us, and started walking towards us. We were surprised because none of them were known to us. One boy in that group looked very sweet. He was strikingly charming. … We thought he was a disciple of Baba. …..

CONNECTED EVEN BY THE AIRNo he was not. That was Baba Himself, come to receive the devotees whom He, in infinite mercy, was now drawing into His fold! It is interesting to note that Baba increased His 'following' in a controlled manner, commensurate with the development of local facilities on the one hand, and the capacity of the devotee to put up with inconveniences on the other. With His powers, Swami could have overnight changed things beyond description; He did not do that. Instead, He allowed things to evolve in a measured manner, in the process also demonstrating how villages could be greatly developed just invoking the power of Love.

As Smt.Vijayakumari put it, Swami's love is the singular cause for the Glory of Puttaparthi, for it to have found its way on to the world map.



Volume 01: PDS / 06 Date : NOV 15 2003