When Sathya Narayana Raju Became Sathya Sai Baba - Part 1

An Artist's Sketch of Sathyanarayana Raju
from one of the school group photos
It was the 20th of October (1940), a Monday. This is what I declared on that day: 
Know I am verily Sai Give up your attachments and attempts;
The old relationships are at an end.
No one, however eminent, can alter My resolve.

When I made this declaration, the families of Thammiraju, Hanumantha Rao, Bhojaraju and Seshmaraju, all themselves declared with one voice against my leaving (the home). This happened at Uravakonda. When the awareness of the human body and of the presence of Divine exists in one, a certain amount of dispassion and renunciation is required to manifest this state of mind. 

Municipal Chairman's adoration 

While I was in Uravakonda, the Municipal Chairman of Bellary, Ramaraju, came to see Swami, who was then familiarly called "Raju." Seeing Swami he told Seshamaraju: "We shall take this boy to Bellary and keep him with us during the holidays." He added: “Seshamaraju! You are regarding this lad as an ordinary boy. That is not so. The effulgence on his face and his purity have moved my heart. There is a Divine effulgence within him. Do not be deluded. You may also come with him and stay with us." 

Swami's Teacher - Sri Thammiraju
and Smt. Kameswaramma, his wife
From there, the Municipal Chairman took us to Hampi. Do not consider what I am going to say now as something boastful or fanciful or exaggerated. The entire party went into the Virupaksha temple. If I had said I would not come with them into the temple, others might feel angry or offended. I said I was having stomach ache and did not wish to go into the temple. All the members of the party including Thammiraju, went in. They were about 50 or 60 persons. Ramaraju was thinking only of God and nothing else. He entreated me repeatedly to come with him. I was a very small boy then. He held both my hands and pleaded, "Please, please, come." But seeing my firm resolve, he did not press me further. 

Raju as Virupaksha 

Inside the temple, harathi was being offered to the deity, but Virupaksha was not there! Only Raju was in the sanctum! Seshamaraju got angry. He felt that having refused to enter the temple, Raju had somehow got in and stood in the sanctum. This, he felt, was gross sacrilege. He could not contain his anger. But Ramaraju did not think in that manner. He felt that "Raju is Virupaksha and Virupaksha is Raju." 

Seshamaraju came out of the temple and found me sitting under a tree. He was always very suspicious. He sent someone inside to find out whether Raju was there, while he himself stayed outside to keep a watch over Raju under the tree. Raju was inside the temple as well as under the tree! Seshamaraju felt very happy internally, but he did not speak to me about it, treating it as a unique experience for himself. 
The Virupaksha Temple at Hampi
Then they brought me to Bellary. While staying there for a few days, the Municipal Chairman introduced me to various officers, speaking highly about me. I was not addressed as "Swami" in those days, but only as "Raju". Some of the officers seemed to feel that the Chairman was making much of a small boy like me and even tried to make fun of it. Before bringing me to Bellary the Municipal Chairman got made for me a shirt and a pair of knickers. I am so small even now. You can imagine how much shorter I was then. In those days, that is, fifty years ago, it was fashionable for young boys to have a pin for the shirt collar. The collar pin was a status symbol and a mark of affluence. The Municipal Chairman was wondering what else to give me besides the clothes. He went to a goldsmith and got a gold collar pin made for me in one hour. Pinning it on my shirt, he said: “Raju! You should be remembering me whenever you wear this pin." 

Baba's attainment of freedom from Maya 

We returned to Uravakonda by bus. Two days later the school reopened. I was going to school. On the way, the collar pin fell from the shirt. (It could not be found). The loss of the collar pin freed me from attachment (to worldly things). Then I sang a song:
October 20th was a Monday
Returning from Hampi Baba was going to school.
The collar pin was lost and could not be found.
That clay was the day of transformation.
The loss of the pin was the cause of a big change.
The link with worldly ties have gone.
The pilgrimage to Hampi also served its purpose;
Freedom from Maya was attained.

Sri Anjaneyulu
That day I left the home. Attachment to worldly objects is a kind of Maya (illusion). When these objects are given up, there is freedom from Maya. The same day I went to the Excise Inspector Anjaneyulu's bungalow. He was one of those who on seeing Swami felt a kind of spiritual urge. His house was on the way to my house. He used to prepare some edibles and wait, together with his wife, for my arrival. They would send their children inside lest they should form some impressions about the parents. As soon as I entered the house, both of them would hold my feet. I used to tell them often: "Sir, you are an elder. You should not touch my feet." He would reply: "Raju, we may appear elders in terms of the body. But in terms of wisdom, we are very small. You are verily Krishna himself." They used to describe me like this. They would do it in great privacy, lest others should scoff at them. 

Emergence of Raju as Sathya Sai 

On that October 20th, I did not go to the school. In the school I used to lead the prayers everyday. There was a platform with a few steps. In the prayer there was a song which ran as follows: 
Aharaha Thava Aahvaana Prachaarita Shuni Thava Udaara Vaani 
Hindu Bauddha Sikha Jaina Paarasika Mussalmaan Christaani. 

Even in those days there was the recognition of the oneness of all religions. Some of the teachers used to wonder how this boy was propagating the unity of all religions. As I did not go to school that day, there was a commotion in the school, with everyone asking, "Where is Raju?" No boy was present at prayer-time. All the boys rushed to Anjaneyulu's house. I did not see any of them. I was just sitting on a rock. The boys were discussing among themselves: "Some change has come over Raju. What has happened to him? Could something have occurred in his home to upset him after his return from Hampi." 

I declared then: "If you want to know who I am take a photograph of me". When the photo was taken, the picture of Shirdi Baba was in front of me. At that time no one knew who Sai Baba was. In the gathering here today, Anjanayya is present. He is now the Chairman of the Sathya Sai Organisation in Anantapur district. He knows about that photo. 
The Photograph taken on October 10, 1940
I told the boys to go to the school and start the prayer. Meanwhile, Seshamaraju sent a telegram to Puttaparthi regarding the events in Uravakonda. The parents came hurriedly to Uravakonda to take me away to Puttaparthi. At that time, there was no bus service even upto Bukkapatnam. Buses plied only up to Penukonda. From there, people had to go by bullock cart. All the boys declared that they also wanted to go with Raju.

Source: Divine Discourse on the Golden Jubilee of the Avatar Declaration Day, October 20, 1990.


Back to Top