The Universal Divine Mother Sai - By Dr. Shashank Shah

Dr. Shashank Shah with Sri Sathya Sai at Kodaikanal - 2007

The fifty seventh name in the Sri Sathya Sai Ashtotara Shata Namavali (the hundred and eight names of Bhagavan) extols Swami as Om Sri Sai Adi Shaktaye Namaha. And indeed, Bhagavan is Goddess Adi Shakti: Goddess Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. During the Dasara Festival, Swami presides over the Prashanti Vidwan Mahasabha as Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of learning, knowledge and wisdom. He presides over the Veda Purusha Saptaha Jnana Yajna as Goddess Durga, the Goddess of spiritual strength and power. And, He distributes largesse, food and clothing to all His devotees as Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and Goddess Annapurna, the Goddess of food.

Sai Jaganmata:
The Universal Divine Mother Sai
The Devi Bhagavatam describes how, in the days of yore, for the protection of the Devas, Mother Goddess had destroyed the Asuras: Chanda, Munda, Shumbha, Nishumbha, Raktabeeja, Dhumralochana and Mahishasura. But our greatest good fortune is that the same Mother Goddess has come once again to destroy those very Asuras who are present even now. But, with a difference. They are present as the inner vices within every individual as the Shadripus (the six inner enemies - Kama, Krodha, Moha, Lobha, Mada and Matsarya i.e. desire, anger, attachment, greed, pride and jealousy). Just as Goddess Kali, the Goddess of power and inner purification, had destroyed the Danavas then, Sai Mahakali is destroying our vices, transforming us and rendering us pure, righteous and virtuous now. 

Goddess Adi Shakti
The Devi Mahatyam, popularly known as the Durga Saptashati describes the various facets of the Mother Goddess in its verses: 
‘Ya Devi Sarva Bhuteshu
Buddhi Rupena Samsthitaha,
Daya Rupena Samsthitaha
Maya Rupena Samsthitaha,
Kanti Rupena Samsthitaha,
Namastasyai, Namo Namaha.’
(I offer my obeisance to the Goddess who is present in all the beings as the intellect, the compassion, the delusion and the illumination.)

But the most significant verse of all is: 
“Ya Devi Sarva Bhuteshu,
Matru Rupena Samsthitaha,
Namastasyai Namo Namah.”
(“I offer my obeisance to the Goddess who is present in all beings as the Mother.”)

For indeed, She is the source of all existence and sustenance of this creation. The love of Mother Sai, as Bhagavan describes, is that of a thousand mothers rolled into one. Swami says that when we are not able to understand the love of our physical mothers, how can we understand the love of the Divine Mother Sai? 

Let us for a few moments dive deep into the ocean of the Divine Love of Mother Sai by recollecting and reliving a few incidents which enable us to taste sweetness of Her Divine love for Her Dearest children. 
"Your mother will never ever forget you"
On one particular occasion, Bhagavan had instructed that Prasadam should be distributed in the Mandir and He was supervising the distribution of the Prasadam. We all know the fact that Bhagavan is aware of everything. He is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. But sometimes we tend to overlook the fact that Bhagavan is physically very observant about the minutest details of every act. When the Prasadam was thus being distributed, Swami called one of the students and asked him whether he had received the Prasadam. The student replied that he had not. So, Swami personally gave him a packet of the Prasadam. But, what is most important to remember is what Swami said to that little boy. The sentence is a message, a reminder for each and every one of us. Swami said, Listen My child, your brothers (pointing to the students) may forget you, (pointing to Himself) Your Mother will never ever forget you.What a statement, nay, declaration! What an assurance to all of humanity for life times! What love! 

The Universal Mother
Swami’s love is not restricted or limited to His students alone, for all are His children. The entire creation is His for He is Sai Jaganmata - the Universal Mother Sai. The following incident happened at Dharmakshetra (Swami’s residence in Bombay) many years ago. A number of Bal Vikas children were to get the opportunity to offer roses to Bhagavan as He walked in the Darshan lines. Among this group of students, there was a small boy who had not yet joined the Bal Vikas course for he was not old enough. But he had the ardent desire to offer a flower to Bhagavan. Unfortunately, he was denied the opportunity for he was too small and hence not eligible. His desire was very intense and so was his prayer and. to fulfill his unique wish he somehow got hold of a simple grass flower and sneaked into one of the front rows during Darshan. While Swami was giving Darshan, He blessed with His touch, the roses offered by the Bal Vikas students. 

When Bhagavan approached this little boy, He very lovingly accepted the offering of the grass flower from his tender hands. Thereafter, Swami went inside for a meeting with the office bearers of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation and the members of the Sri Sathya Sai Trust, Maharashtra. He came out of the inner complex only after over two hours. But till the time He came out, that little offering of love - that insignificant grass flower which was a very significant offering suffused with love by that little boy, occupied the prime position in Swami’s Divine Hands. Bhagavan sees the purity of intention and the intensity of devotion behind every act of ours. He is not pleased by external pomp and show, false appearances and pretenses. For Him, quality is important and quantity does not matter. Swami says very often, “I am Bhavapriya and not Bahyapriya.” Many, many years ago, nearly three and a half decades ago, during the Dasara celebrations at Prasanthi Nilayam, Bhagavan used to personally distribute Prasadam to the thousands of devotees gathered at His Lotus Feet. He would personally serve Prasadam, bending and straightening, to each and every devotee, for hours on end. Many devotees would plead with Swami, “Swami, please take some rest, we shall finish the rest of the distribution.” And pat would come the reply from Him, “How can I take rest when these thousands are still hungry and waiting to receive the Prasadam?” Such is the love and concern of the Divine Mother.

Sri Sathya Sai serving devotees at Puttaparthi in the 1950s
It was on one such occasion that there was a mother who was sitting in the lines to receive Prasadam with a very small child in her lap. While distributing the Prasadam, Swami noticed that the child was too small to eat the type of food that was being distributed. So, He instructed a few children who were standing there to get some milk for the small child. Many of them ran to do the Lord’s bidding. One of them got the milk in a cup and was about to give it to the small child. But this time Swami had reached the end of that row distributing the food. From that place, He said, “Stop!” He came all the way to where this mother was with the small child. He said to the children who had the cup of milk, “This milk that you have got is so hot. If the child drinks it, it will burn its tongue.” So saying, Swami asked for another cup and poured the milk from cup to cup till it was of the right temperature for the child to drink. Swami said, “True Seva must emanate from the heart.” This incident drives home two important lessons. One, of course, is the infinite love of Bhagavan. The second lesson is an important lesson in Seva. It is just not enough if we do Seva. We should do Seva with the right attitude and feelings, for whom ever we may serve, it is the God within the person who receiving the service. The one who serves, the one who is being served and the act of service is all Sai Himself. 

My Dear Child! 
You did great service... 
The love of Mother Sai is not restricted to humans alone for He is the Mother of the entire creation and all its beings. Many decades ago, Swami had visited the Horsley Hills with some devotees for a few days. There was water shortage on the hills and a buffalo had the unique privilege of carrying water to the top of the hills for Swami and His entourage. On the day of the departure as Bhagavan was leaving the place, all the devotees got into the vehicles and the entourage was about to leave. Bhagavan was about to get into His car when, suddenly He turned in the direction of the bungalow. He went not towards the entrance but towards the rear side of the bungalow. Prof. Kasturi wanted to know what was going to happen and so he followed Bhagavan. What he saw was so very touching. Swami went to the buffalo and lovingly patted its back and said, Dunnapota, Chala Manchi Seva Chesavu! (Oh buffalo, you have done very good service!) 

There is no limit to Bhagavan’s love. The ocean may have its boundaries but the love of Bhagavan is far more vast, deep and expansive than the ocean. It knows no reason, no season, no language, no dialect, no caste, no creed, no religion, no race. It is universal, unsullied, and all-encompassing love. 

When the Mother gives Herself 
to the Child...
To conclude, I would like to quote what Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, the foremost devotee of Mother Kali, had to say. He said, Initially, when the child cries, the mother gives it a lot of toys to play with. But, for how long will the child be satisfied with those toys? Eventually, at the cry of the child, the mother lovingly takes the child in her arms and gives herself to the child. Similarly Bhagavan says, I give you what you ask for and satisfy your petty desires and wishes, so that eventually you may ask from Me what I have come to give you - Liberation itself!” 

During the Divine Discourse given during Bhagavan’s 43rd Birthday Celebrations at Prasanthi Nilayam on November 23, 1968, Swami said, “The various problems with which you come are mere baits to bring you here to Me. There is a far greater purpose to bring you to Me and that is to know the secret to higher life, to understand the uniqueness of the human birth and above all to realise the oneness with the Divine Self.” 

Swami further added, “It is a very unique chance which has befallen mankind to be in the midst of the Avatar. Do not let go of this chance for it may not come again your way. Make the best use of it.

Swami is everything for us. He is our dearest mother, our caring father, our affectionate kith and kin and the closest of friends. How can we ever repay the gratitude we owe to Bhagavan for all that He has done for us? Of course, He never considers it as a debt to be repaid. Swami had once said to one of the very old devotees, “Don’t pray that you can repay the debt of gratitude to Me, for let the debt continue so that we can be together always.

Once a devotee had asked Swami, “Swami, I must have done a lot of Punyam (merit) in my previous birth that I am with you in this birth.” Pat came the reply from Bhagavan, “Not only the previous birth, in hundreds of previous births!” 

We are so very blessed and fortunate to be in the midst of the Poorna Avatar of the Kali Age, the Supreme Divinity, The Shiva-Shakti in human form. Bhagavan had once said, This Shiva-Shakti Avatar has never come in the past and will not come again in the future.It is now and now alone that He is with us in this supra human, transcendental, blissful and beautiful form of Sathya Sai. 

I express my heartfelt gratitude to Swami for all that He has done for me. I pray that we may be the recipients of His Pure, Infinite, Eternal and Divine Love - always…

Samastha Lokaha Sukhino Bhavantu...

- Dr. Shashank Shah
Post-Doctoral Fellow
Department of Management Studies
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus


  1. Such a beautiful article! really brought tears to undersatnd the depth of Swami's love and care for us

    hema - Vadodra Gujarat

  2. made my day after reading this lovely article. Swami touched my Hrudaya.


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