High and mighty line up

Sri Satya Sai Baba had a distinguished collection of devotees. Powerful heads of state, prime ministers, ministers and politicians of all hues, industrialists, bureaucrats, actors, sportsmen and of course hordes of ordinary people have all prostrated before the sage of Puttaparthi.
Rationalists constantly debunked his ‘miracles’ — bringing out Shiva Lingam from the stomach on Shivrathri, producing gold chains, watches and other gifts to give to devotees —but this did not diminish his following.
Among his charitable works was bringing the much-needed drinking water to parched Anantapur district in Rayalaseema and building many good educational, medical, and other institutions.
The devotion lavished on him by his followers had often prompted the question: is he God? And he answered it thus: “Is Sai Baba God? I am God. And you too are God. The only difference between you and me is that while I am aware of it, you are completely unaware.”
Sri Satya Sai Baba was born as Sathyanarayana Raju on November 23, 1926, in the obscure village of Puttaparthi in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh. His father, Pedda Venkama Raju, and mother, Easwaramma, already had one son and two daughters — Seshama Raju, Venkamma, and Parvathamma.
It is said that Easwaramma had been warned that she was bearing an unusual child. Lord Satyanarayana is supposed to have appeared in a dream to her mother-in-law and indicated that he would be born into the family. When drawing water from the well one day, Easwaramma saw a big blue ball of light coming directly towards her. It entered her and she fainted. This is interpreted as the Lord entering her womb prior to his physical birth as Satyanarayana Raju.
As a child, Satya was said to be spiritually inclined and contemplative and this set him apart from his companions. He was known as ‘Guru’ and ‘Brahmajnani’ (knower of Brahman or the Godhead) among his peers and others in the village.
In primary school, he helped his classmates in diverse ways. Though from a poor family, he did not hesitate to give away his clothes to needy classmates. He never lost an opportunity to turn the minds of his friends towards God. Among other things, he formed a bhajan group for this purpose, which later became very popular.
The nearest higher secondary school was in Bukkapatnam, several kilometres to the north of Puttaparthi, and the young Satya had to trudge back and forth every day, no matter what the weather.
Here too he was a model student and making students God-conscious was his prime occupation. To catch the attention of his school mates, he would often materialise prasadam (gift articles or vibhuti), from thin air, much to their amazement.
Many stories are narrated about his school life. How when asked to discipline the other students as class monitor, he merely patted them lightly, which earned him the wrath of the teacher so that he and not the students got punished.
When Satya’s older brother Seshama Raju, went to Kamalapuram to stay with his in-laws and do his teacher's training, it was decided that Satya go with him as Kamalapuram had a very good school. The family had pinned their hopes on the bright Satya going to college and becoming a big officer in the Government.
Satya’s stay at Kamalapuram, though, was an unhappy one. He was made to do household chores by his brother’s comparatively wealthy in-laws and fetch water from the well every day. One day he missed out on this chore because he had to perform his duties as a boy scout at a fair in the neighbouring village. He had walked the long distance to the village and back because he could not afford the bus fare and had even bought little gifts for the folks at home. But he got a severe punishment all the same for neglecting his work
Much later, Swami revealed that he deliberately created such painful situations for himself in order to teach the lesson of forbearance and equanimity.
Today, millions of people from all over the world are his devotees and see him as an incarnation of the Sai Baba of Shirdi.
Sai Baba said that he came into this world to re-establish the rhythm of righteousness in the world and repair the ancient highway to God, which over the years has deteriorated.
In his own words, “This Sai has come in order to achieve the supreme task of uniting the entire mankind as one family through the bond of brotherhood.”

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