Thursday, May 23, 1940
This was the landmark day when Baba first declared Himself as ‘SAI BABA’. The scorpion sting had left Sathya much different a boy as compared to the genial one known to the family members and the villagers. He had been acting strange much to the horror of all those who witnessed. That Thursday (23rd May) though, Sathya seemed His former self. He beckoned all the villagers, the neighbours and His family members, made them sit around Him and conversed with them in great camaraderie. He materialised various objects and distributed them freely.
Those around seemed to have lost their fear of the Muslim ghost that had possessed Sathya. The father Sri Venkappa Raju was infuriated by all this. He rushed towards Sathya armed with a cane stick and said, “Who do You think You are? If You don’t answer me I shall hit You. Come out with it – are You possessed a lunatic, an incarnation, a deity or a devil? Who are You?” Sathya replied calmly, “Do you not know who I am? I am Sai Baba. I descended because the Venkavadhoota (the family saint of the Raju family) prayed for My descent.” The reply was calm and deliberate. The ring of truth in it was unmistakable. “Apastamba Sutra, Bharadwaja Gotra”, He kept on muttering to Himself through out that day.
Sri Pedda Venkappa Raju was, however, still under the delusion that His son was possessed by the spirit of Sai Baba of Shirdi. He believed that a Muslim priest’s intercession would yield the desired outcome. He traced one such priest in Penukonda, and requested him to de-possess his son. Sathya was taken to Penukonda where the priest, who happened to be a Government official, declared Sathya a ‘lunatic’. “Lunacy it is, but whose?” retorted Sathya waving His hands in air and producing sacred ash which He scattered all over the room.
The subsequent Thursday, 30th May 1940, the father requested Sathya to give some proof of His claim and Sathya consented. It being a Thursday, Jasmine flowers were heaped for Puja as directed by Sathya previously. Sathya asked for the flowers to be placed in His hands. He scattered them casually, and lo! The flowers assumed the shape of the Telugu letters “SAI BABA”. The power of this ‘written’ name moved everybody to hail little Sathya as ‘Sai Baba’.