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Sathya Sai memories - Part VI
Sathya Saibaba in the Ashram!
The devotees flocked to Puttaparthi to see Saibaba. There were no proper roads to take one to Puttaparthi. The motorable road ended in Bukkapatnam. From there some bus like vehicle plied rarely unto a place called "Kothacheruvu". We used to alight at the other bank of the Chitravathi river after taking a bullock cart from Kothacheruvu. Then it would be a long walk until we see the neon lights at a distance depicting "Sathya Sai Prasanthi Nilayam" in Telugu. Many times i felt exhilaration on seeing the neon lights from a distance. During the 'old mandir' times, the facilities were meager. Those who wanted to visit Puttaparthi before 1950 had to be content with the barest facilities. Even Saibaba used to lie in a wooden cot and the male devotees used to lie around the cot. Only lady devotees used to lie down on the verandah of the old mandir. Snakes and scorpions used to frequent the places. Hence the devotees need to be extra careful while lying on the ground over a mat or bedsheets. But with Saibaba around, the devotees slept without any anxiety or fear. Nothing untoward happened.
Saibaba gave basil leaves in plenty to the ladies for making a garland to the idols kept in the Puja room(worship place or prayer hall) Hence, the ladies were fully engaged. Some ladies were given the task of cleaning the mandir, preparing breakfast or lunch. Yet some other were given charge of bringing water etc., There were regular sittings of Bhajans and chanting. Saibaba himself used to wave the camphor light at the end of the session. He granted personal audience to the devotees before they left for their native places. He used to narrate himself the problems faced by the devotees and the solution to them. Sometimes, the villagers used to bring a 'possessed person' in front of Baba. His treatment would differ from person to person. He used to press their head so hard, that the evil spirit would fled unable to bear the pain of crushing. At times, he used to catch the possessed persons by their hair and flung them far away and they will bang on the compound hall. With such harsh treatments, the evil spirit will fly away.
One day a man suffering from severe stomach ache was brought. He was given a room to rest. Many devotees pleaded with Saibaba to cure the man. But Saibaba took his own time. One day he went inside the room where the patient was groaning with pain, closed the door behind, materialized all surgical instruments including knife etc., cut open his stomach portion, removed an 'appendix' which caused him all the pain. Then he joined the skin, waved his hand and produced holy ash and sprinkled on them. Immediately, the skin joined as though sutured. He called a lady devotee, shown the appendix and asked her to pour water on his fingers to clean the blood stain. The lady was upset thinking that the wound would become septic. Saibaba told her, 'i don't have stock of bandage. Hence cover it with bandage. To her surprise, there was no indication of an serious wound. Only there was a line mark on the stomach. Saibaba told the lady to feed him with "Iddlies"(steam cooked rice balls) The man ate with gusto since it was a long time, he ate hot iddlies due to fear of pain.
One day there was a flood in Chitravathi river. The water entered and engulfed the place where Saibaba was staying. The water level was rising to a dangerous level. Suddenly, Saibaba came out and commanded the river to recede. Within few minutes, the tide subsided and everything was normal. He had control over nature!