Tehelka on Sai Baba -- Why we believed in him - (Dr J Geeta Reddy,
Kunal Ganjawala, Dr Devi Shetty, Bombay Jayashri)
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Why we believed in him
Dr J Geeta Reddy
Dr Devi Shetty
M N Krishnamani
FOR NON-BELIEVERS and many in the media, Sathya Sai Baba was an
ambiguous figure on the landscape, a scamster cheating his followers
with the dazzling conjuring of vibhuti and other small objects, the
master of a multi-crore empire, a mortal accused of sexual
improprieties. But this week, it has been difficult to avoid the
mighty upsurge of grief that has marked Sathya Sai Baba's passing.
For millions of devotees, this was a life changing moment. It is clear
the stream of belief ran much deeper than gullibility and awe. Here
are five deeply personal stories from seemingly unlikely Sai Baba
devotees -- doctors, Supreme Court advocates, serving ministers and
musicians -- detailing the miraculous ways in which their faith was
jump-started. Clearly, faith bears no cold analysis. Perhaps, it is
the particular genius of this land that we can inhabit spaces that
blur the line between reason and unreason. These accounts go some way
in explaining the charismatic phenomenon that was Sathya Sai Baba.
1.Dr J Geeta Reddy
Industries Minister, Andhra Pradesh
My husband had a paralytic stroke. He recovered within days of
Dr J Geeta Reddy
I NEVER THOUGHT I would become a Sai Baba devotee. But fate had other
plans. In 1980, my husband, Dr Ramachandra Reddy, had a paralytic
stroke at the age of 30. It paralysed the left side of his body, even
the left side of his mouth. We went for the best possible medical
care in London, but were told he would never recover fully. I was
almost beginning to lose hope when some people, including English
doctors and professors, told us to look up the godmen in our own
country. We had never heard of Baba before this. Finally, we got our
first darshan in Whitefield outside Bengaluru. Nobody told Baba what
the problem was. He just went up to my husband and started touching
his left side, his arms and head. Baba told my husband not to worry.
After he had finished the gents' queue, he came to the ladies side.
He didn't have to ask for me. Baba just came to me and said, "Don't
be disheartened, I'm taking care of your husband." As I looked at
him, there was no way I could miss the love and compassion in his
eyes. Following this meeting, my husband recovered really fast.
This wasn't the only time when Baba made a difference to my life. My
husband and I went abroad for a 12- year spell. In 1992, Baba came to
Hyderabad. My mother had passed away recently, and I was shattered.
But once he spoke to me, I knew he'd taken my mother's place in my
life. He told me he was my mother. It was indeed comforting.
Seeing him in person was an electrifying experience. He had an
enchanting smile. One would feel so happy and content when he'd just
look at you. The great thing about him was he didn't believe in long
discourses, rituals, pujas or shlokas. In fact, he once told me, "I
use these illnesses as my calling cards." And now he is gone when we
need him the most.
2. Dr Devi Shetty
Cardiac surgeon and founder of Narayana Hrudayalaya
Baba walked into the room and his sister slipped out of a coma Dr
GOD HAS NOT CREATED everyone equal. I believe that some people have
superhuman powers. Sathya Sai Baba was one of them. My brother-in-law
told me about him 12 years ago. When I met him, he already knew I
wanted to build a cardiac hospital on the outskirts of Bengaluru -- a
project most were sceptical about. When I met him, he simply told me,
"The city will come to you." It really did come to me. Baba once gave
me a ring that I wear all the time, except during surgery, because I
feel his warm presence.
The most beautiful miracle of Baba's is the one my brother-in-law
witnessed. He was treating Baba's sister, who at the time, had been
in a coma for days. When Baba walked into the room, she woke up,
talked to him for a few minutes and slipped back. How do you explain
A Hindu woman once came to me for treatment. Someone in the Ajmer
Dargah had told her it would save her life. She had aortal arteritis,
a rare and serious condition. She insisted I operate. I didn't know
how to. I had to patch up her liver, her intestine and re-establish
circulation to the brain. I did and she has been healthy for eight
years now. Similarly, a very established doctor and friend saw his
patient in a hospital levitate while meditating. I have seen people
who are two yards away from death surviving and perfectly healthy
people dying suddenly. How do you explain this? We do 36 heart
surgeries a day in our hospital. We cut off circulation to the brain,
paralyse the heart, and the patient is practically dead. Each time, I
don't know if he or she will survive it. Any doctor who thinks he
does is kidding himself. You don't want to hear this from a doctor
and a scientist, but my hands are about as powerful as forceps
controlled by God.
3. Bombay Jayashri
He picked me from hundreds of people in a religious gathering and
asked me to sing
WHEN I WAS nine, Sai Baba was addressing a huge gathering in Mumbai.
I was far away from his gaze, yet he managed to find me. Of hundreds
in the gathering, he picked me, a small girl, and asked me to sing. I
often wonder how could he have known that I loved to sing. Ever
since, I have sung for him in Mumbai, Chennai and Puttaparthi. I
think he was a Mahapurusha in the true sense of the word. I might not
have seen any of his ‘miracles', but I think his very presence was
magical. It is hard to maintain discipline in a house of 10 people.
He, on the other hand, created a spiritual silence in audiences that
were sometimes as large as three lakh people. People say it is only
his physical presence that is gone. For me, it is a huge loss that I
won't be blessed by him the same way again.
4. Kunal Ganjawala
A mercury Shivling sent by Baba helped my wife recover from a fatal
accident in 24 hours
FOR ME, Sai Baba was neither a godman nor a saint. He was God
himself. He has been the force that protected my family during
challenging times. Everyone in my family is a firm believer of Baba
and his powers. In 2006, my wife had an accident and was bedridden.
The doctors had given up on her. Baba sent me a Shivling made of
mercury. Science tells you that you cannot bind mercury, but here I
was with a mercury Shivling in my house. My wife did the abhishek of
the Shivling and drank the water. Within 24 hours, she was feeling
alright. Once she was hale and hearty, the Shivling broke by itself.
Years later, my wife and I met Baba at a religious gathering. He
stopped by us and produced a mangalsutra and a ring in front of
40,000 people. I tied the mangalsutra around my wife's neck and she
put the ring on my finger. Later, I was fortunate enough to spend
some time with him in his private chamber. His body might have
perished but his soul will live for ever.
5. M N Krishnamani
Senior Advocate, Supreme Court
My wife had hip cancer. Baba just said, ‘Cancer, cancelled', and she
was well and could walk
M N Krishnamani
SAI BABA saved his miracles for others. My sister suffered from a bad
gastric ulcer. She was weak and the hospital doctor prescribed milk
fed through the nose. A young, inexperienced nurse misunderstood the
instruction and gave my sister milk intravenously -- directly into
the blood. She lost her consciousness and it seemed she would die.
When the error was corrected, she suddenly got up and said, "Baba was
He gave me vibhuti. I am perfectly okay." She walked out of the
hospital without an operation.
In 1999, my wife suffered a heart attack. Four months after a bypass,
she fainted during an evening walk. I rushed her to the hospital. She
was in the intensive care unit and had breathing problems. They said
-- four months to live, operate immediately. When she heard this, my
wife insisted on having Baba's darshan before surgery. The doctor,
who was also a devotee, discharged her. Bound to a wheelchair, oxygen
cylinder in tow, my wife and I went to meet the Baba. It was
Christmas. At Puttaparthi, we stood in the front row waiting for
Baba's darshan. On seeing me, he said, "No second surgery for her."
He produced vibhuti out of the air and told me not to worry. She was
wheelchair-bound but after the darshan, she started walking and
didn't need that second surgery.
I went back to Baba a second time for my wife, about eight years
later. My wife had developed cancer in the hip. She could neither
walk nor lie down and was on morphine injections. When I saw Baba, he
said, "Cancer cancelled", and produced a crystal Shivling with a wave
of his hand. "Do abhishek and give her the water to drink," he said.
On the ninth day, my wife went to the market. Her cancer was gone.
Sai Baba's life, however, meant far more than the many miracles he
performed. I used to believe only in the Vedantic philosophy. Now
when I pray, I also chant Jesus, Allah and Buddha's names. You can
find all the world's religions in Puttaparthi. I once saw an Iranian
boy chant the Gayatri Mantra with perfect diction. By showing us the
similarities in religions, the Baba united us. Not to mention the
several cashless hospitals he ran or his colleges that took students
without fees. For us, he was a living God.