July 1963 was one of the gloomiest years in the lives of many Sai devotees. On 29th June, 1963, just prior to Guru Poornima, Swami was ‘afflicted’ by a severe attack of paralysis and also ‘suffered’ three major heart attacks. It was around 6.30 am on 29th that Swami complained of a ‘reeling sensation’ and fell unconscious. His left limbs became taut and rigid. The paralysis had struck. The physical frame was racked by intense pain, but His will prevailed. He refused any kind of medication. He had willed the illness. He had taken upon Himself the illness that would have been fatal to His devotee, whose name He refused to mention.
However, Swami promised to give Guru Poornima Darshan to the grief stricken devotees, who were but mute witnesses to Swami’s agony. He had Sri Kasturi announce this news as a balm to the aching hearts of the devotees. He also had Sri Kasturi describe Swami’s predicament in detail so that they may be spared the rude shock when they see Him in person.
Swami was carried down the winding stairways of His residence on 6th June, Guru Poornima evening. Baba was brought down the winding stairs into the Private Room on the ground floor, because He insisted on giving Darshan to the thousands of devotees who had come on that auspicious day. He had an attack of cerebral thrombosis (or tubercular meningitis?) and was in bed for eight days from the morning of Saturday, 29th June to the evening of 6th July. His left hand, leg and eye were affected; His right hand had also slight palsy; the tongue was indistinct and the face was twitching. He was placed on the Silver Chair in the Prayer Hall and His hand and leg were adjusted in proper position. As soon as He was seated, He communicated the following message which was interpreted and announced.
This is not Swami's illness; this is an illness which Swami has taken on, in order to save some one. Swami has no illness, nor will He get ill at any time. You must all be happy; that alone will make Swami happy. If you grieve, Swami will not be happy. Your joy is Swami's food. Then, Baba signed to Kasturi to speak, and after his short speech was over, Baba wanted the mike to be held before Him. He asked through it, "Vinipisthundhaa?" (Do you hear Me?) But, though He asked again and again, the voice was so indistinct that no one could make out what it meant. He then signed for water and when it was brought, He sprinkled a little with His shaking right hand on the stricken left hand and on His left leg. He stroked His left hand with the right. Immediately, He used both hands to stroke His left leg; that touch was enough to cure it. He doffed the disease in a trice! He started to speak! It was the same musical voice. He sprang up and delivered His Guru Poornima Discourse as if nothing out of the ordinary had transpired in the past week! Neither His gait nor His voice had suffered any change due to the illness He had assumed. He announced to the large gathering of the devotees, the secret of His Incarnation.
Excerpts from the Divine Discourse given on that momentous day are given below:
"For those who have no refuge, God is the refuge." That is exactly the reason why I had to take on the disease that one helpless Bhakta was to get. He had to suffer this dire illness, as well as the four heart attacks that accompanied it; and he would not have survived it. So, according to My Dharma of Bhakta Samrakshana (protection of devotees), I had to rescue him. Of course, this is not the first time that I have taken on the illness of persons whom I wanted to save. Even in the previous Shareeram at Shirdi, I had this responsibility The suffering that you saw was too much for this particular devotee and so, I had to save him, by Myself going through it. This is My Leela: My nature. It is part of the task for which I have Come: Sishya Rakshana (protection Of disciples). Persons who were near Me during the last week were asking Me to give them the name of the person whom I had saved. I told them that it will make them angry against that person, for Swami they would say, "had to undergo so much of pain in order to save that one person." Then, they replied, that they would honour the person, because of the extraordinary Bhakti that persuaded Swami to run to his rescue, on Saturday morning. Some people even asked Me whether it was this person or that, giving names of those who had attacks of paralysis, especially on the left side! This is even more ludicrous, because when I save a person, I save him completely. I do not wait until he gets the disease and I do not leave in him a fraction of the disease, so that he may be identified later. It all looks so funny to Me, the guesses and surmises that you make. Even in Shirdi, Dada Saheb, Nandaraam, Balwant, all were saved by these means. Balwant was destined to get plague, but, the bubo was taken over and the boy saved.
This is perhaps the longest period when I kept the devotees wondering and worried. That was because of the heart attacks which had to come later on the Bhakta, from which also he had to be saved. Then, there is another reason too, why the 8-day period had to be observed. Well, I shall tell you why. That means I must tell you about Myself, about something I have not disclosed so far, something which I was keeping within Myself, for the last 37 years. The time has come to announce it. This is a sacred day, and I shall tell you.
You know I declared on the very day when I decided to disclose My Identity, My Mission and My Advent, that I belonged to the Aapastamba Sutra (Code of conduct) and the Bharadwaja Gotra (lineage). This Bharadwaja was a great sage, who studied the Vedas for full one hundred years; but, finding that the Vedas were Ananta (endless) he did Tapas for prolonging life, and from Indra he got two extensions of a century each. Even then, the Vedas could not be completed, so, he asked Indra again for another hundred years. Indra showed him 3 huge mountain ranges and said, “What you have learned in 3 centuries form only 3 handfuls from out of the 3 ranges, which the Vedas are. So, give up the attempt to exhaust the Vedas. Do a Yaaga (ritual sacrifice), instead, which I shall teach you: that will give you the fruit of Vedic study, full and complete."
|Lord Shiva and Mother Parvati Blessing the Yaga|
It was the working out of this assurance that you witnessed today, just now. This had to happen, this stroke and the cure. The assurance given in the Treta Yuga had to be honoured. I may tell you now that the poor forlorn Bhakta who had to get the stroke which I took over, was a convenient excuse, which was utilised. You see, a railway engine is not made available to haul just one bogey; they wait until a number of bogeys are to be taken along and then, they put the engine into action. So too, the disease had to be gone through, the Bhakta had to be saved, the assurance to be carried out, the mystery had to be cleared, the Divinity had to be more clearly announced by the manifestation of this Grand Miracle. All these were accomplished by this one incident.
Let Me tell you one more thing: Nothing can impede or halt the work of this Avatar. When I was upstairs all these days, some people foolishly went about saying. "It is all over with Sai Baba" and they turned back many who were coming to Puttaparthi! Some said I was in Samadhi, as if I am a Sadhaka! Some feared I was the victim of black magic, as if anything can affect Me! The splendour of this Avatar will go increasing, day by day. Formerly when the Govardhanagiri was raised aloft by the little boy, the Gopis and Gopalas realised that Krishna was the Lord. Now, it is not one Govardhanagiri, a whole range will be lifted, you will see! Have patience, have faith…"