Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sri Ghandikota V. Subba Rao



By Sri Ghandikota V. Subba Rao From Sri Sathya Sai Eternal Charioteer 23 November, 1990

Mr. Ghandikota V. Subba Rao has been a devotee of Swami for many years. He served with UNICEF and the United Nations, as head of the Energy Section, for 34 years and took early retirement in 1985 to return to India to be with his 92-year-old father.

Sri Ghandikota
Subrahmanya Sastry, the Rishi of the Sathya Sai Gayathri and a renowned Vedic scholar.

Mr. Subba Rao has been living in Prashanthi Nilayam since 1985, on occasion translating Swami's speeches, giving lectures to overseas devotees, and editing publications of the Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust.

My first encounter with the glorious Sai phenomenon goes back to the early sixties. It was sheerly by accident that I ended up on a Mahaa Shivaraathri day at Prasanthi Nilayam on a visit to a very close relative whom I had not met for a long period. The first impact was made by the speech that Swami gave on that occasion, explaining the profound significance of that night of the emergence of the Shiva Linga.

It is an unforgettable experience to watch at very close quarters the emergence of a couple of transparent Shiva lingas from the mouth of Swami. It was another mind-boggling experience to witness at very close quarters a virtual Vibhuthi storm which spread onto the entire stage, covering my clothes too.

The unending flow of sacred ash from an upturned empty vessel, held by Kasturiji over the idol of Shirdi Sai Baba, at the mere turn of a hand of Swami was an extraordinary event. 

A couple of days later I was also fortunate to witness a different type of miracle of Swami. A dozen or so young boys were sitting for the investiture of the 'sacred thread', called the Upanayana ceremony, and a prerequisite for this Samskara or 'sacrament' is the piercing of the ears, which normally takes place at a very young age of the child. Several boys did not have pierced ears.

Swami came along, spotted precisely those boys whose ears were not pierced, touched their ear lobes, and lo and behold, there were holes in the lobes. Swami then graciously materialized earrings which He himself inserted in the ear lobes. The highlight of this ceremony was the materialization of the 'sacred threads' by himself.

Swami gave them to the parents of the boys since it is customary for the parents to invest their child with the sacred thread. That Swami is omniscient has been attested to by a number of great scholars. It would suffice here to give two experiences, one in the realm of traditional Vedic lore and the other in the field of modern physical sciences. 

I was once present when some of the most learned Vedic scholars gathered at Prasanthi Nilayam. Two adepts had differences over the complex procedure of the performance of the Vedic 'Soma Yaga' sacrifice as to the exact configuration or arrangement of the sanctified bricks in the construction of the main altar.

They confronted Swami with their respective standpoints and doubts backed up by citations of authoritative Shroutha texts. Apparently even the great ascetic heads of the Math's (monasteries) are themselves not familiar with purely field practices of the elaborate yagnas. They are more familiar with Vedaantic and philosophical subjects than with the details of complex ritual sacrifices. Perhaps these pandits came to test Swami in a remote area of Vedic ritual knowledge.

This is an area of Vedic knowledge which has been the preserve of only a handful of traditionally trained specialized scholars. But to their astonishment Swami specified and demonstrated the correct configuration of the sanctified and ritual place. Swami's procedure did not coincide with the expert view of either of the two pandits. They later checked up their palm-leaf Shroutha texts to confirm that what

Swami had elaborated was exactly the same for that particular sacrifice! The assembled scholars were greatly amazed and some of them returned humbled as well as greatly impressed by Swami's knowledge in the field of Vedic knowledge

The writer can also provide from his own experience Swami's omniscience in respect of a specialized geo- science matter. Swami once asked me jokingly, I thought, what kind of energy I was dealing with as the Head of the Energy Department of the United Nations in New York.

He wanted me to indicate the various primary sources of energy. Having headed the Energy Department at the world level for over a decade and a half I thought I could answer Swami's question easily. I listed practically all the traditional and modern primary sources of energy. Swami kept repeating there were still other sources. When I came to the end of the list after His many promptings, Swami took over to tell me that I forgot to mention "Geo-pressured energy".

He explained in clear terms, briefly its character, its nature, occurrence, the fact of its being a vast hydraulic source of power deep in the bowels of Earth, with a vast amount of gas dissolved in it in a compressed form as it were. He mentioned that it is a triple source of energy, hydraulic, natural gas and geothermal. Swami's description recalled to me in a flash this frontier source of energy, which is known to only a few specialists in the world and which is yet to be exploited.

Swami's knowledge of Vedic learning on one side and on the other modern sciences is indeed astounding, as attested to by a number of scholars and scientists. That Swami is a virtual encyclopedia of Vedic learning has been attested to by my father Sri. Ghandikota Subrahmanya Sastry, a Vedic scholar of repute in Andhra Pradesh. 

I remember having once challenged my father, who believed that references to Swami could be traced to the Vedas and that in fact Swami is the embodiment of Vedic knowledge. My father's understanding of the Vedas and devotion to Swami were such that he used to tell me that whenever he listened to Swami's immortal teaching, the corresponding Vedic passage inevitably flashed across his mind. I recall one such incident.

The postman had just delivered that month's Sanathana Sarathi in Telugu. I immediately opened it and asked my father to convince me right then and there that whatever Swami spoke is Vedic in origin. He took up the challenge with a smile, right then and there, and immediately gave me sentence by sentence the exact Vedic quotes corresponding to Swami's words. I was flabbergasted by this evidence of Swami's encyclopedic Vedic knowledge.

The writer has experienced in his family numerous extraordinary miraculous cures performed by Swami, over a long span of association with the Sai phenomenon. The most astounding medical miracle of Swami was in respect of my third son, who suffered from intense fever and pains due to the perforation of the ileum at the end of the small intestine.

Over a period of seven months, when he was hospitalized several times as emergencies, he was attended by eminent specialists in three New York hospitals. He was subsisting only on semi solids and non-fibrous "baby foods". The specialists in New York could not cure him, recommended major surgery and said the young man would have to wear a permanent pouch. At this stage we decided to fly to Swami at Brindavan.

We were waiting for a long time under the Sai Ram shed. Swami amazingly came straight to us and called us inside for an interview. He materialized Vibhuthi which He himself put in the mouth of my son, and swept his soft divine hand over the abdomen.

Then Swami declared that the boy was cured as of that moment and could eat spicy hot Andhra food to his heart's content. Hail to Swami's glory! That same evening, which happened to be Christmas eve 1977, Swami gave a dinner to all the foreign devotees, to which He invited us too.

I cautioned my son not to start eating the feast spread before us. We had brought from New York his special foods including water for his drinking use. But he wisely ignored my warning, literally took courage in his hand and ate the food to his heart's content, as Swami had said. We returned to New York and the doctor there was astonished and called it an unbelievable medical miracle.

That Swami can make the impossible possible is illustrated by the miraculous birth of my first grandson. For seventeen years my eldest son's family continued to be childless. Eminent doctors in United States diagnosed it to be a near impossible situation for the couple to have children. My son and daughter-in-law came unannounced to meet me in Brindavan, Swami's ashram in Bangalore.

Swami spotted them among the hundreds gathered there for darshan. He came into Trayee Brindavan (Swami's residence) and surprised me by telling me that my son and daughter-in-law had just arrived. He asked me to fetch them in for a joint interview.

When the couple prostrated at His feet He blessed them, materialized a special type of finely granular, very fragrant holy Vibhuthi, and declared before me and later with several other devotees that Sathya Sai was now guaranteeing the birth of a Vamsha Vardhan (upholder of the lineage) in the Ghandikota family. He instructed my son that he should inform me as soon as the pregnancy of my daughter-in-law was confirmed after a few months.

One day when I was sitting on the verandah of the Prasanthi Nilayam Mandir, a cable from my son in the United States was delivered to me stating that the doctors twice confirmed the pregnancy of my daughter-in- law. I immediately showed the cable to Swami and remarked that I believed that the pregnancy was due to Swami's grace.

Swami quickly retorted in the hearing of the people in the verandah: "'It is not at all a question of your belief. When Sathya Sai guaranteed a few months before, that a grandson would be born, it would have to...". I then realized that my words to Swami should have been phrased better!

Just a day prior to the birth of our grandson, Swami chided my wife for sitting around when we should be at New York helping in the delivery of our first grandson! He then materialized crystal sugar candy, instructing my wife that the candy should be put in the mouth of my daughter-in-law when the first labor pains started.

It was a near miracle that we could leave for Bombay in the evening, arriving the next day at Kennedy airport in New York, to be received by our son and the pregnant daughter-in-law. That same night the first labor pain started and the sugar candy was given to my daughter-in-law. A son was born in the night - a comfortable and a normal delivery. Within 12 hours of the birth, Swami sent a telephonic message to me that we should name the boy Jayavardhan, our first grandson in the family.

In our country we consider Lord Rama as Maaya Maanusha Murthi - the embodiment of Maaya, concealing his divine identity. We call Lord Krishna as Leela Maanusha Murthi - the embodiment of divine play and drama. What should we call the present visible divine incarnation of Sri Sathya Sai, having witnessed nearly over a quarter century unending, undepleted, astounding miracles of Swami?

I have come to the conclusion that it would be appropriate to call Him as truly a Mahaa Mahima Maanusha Murthi- the embodiment of limitless plethora of powers and Grace out of His boundless love for His children.

Mr.James Sinclair


The manner in which James Sinclair of America became a devotee of Sai makes a thrilling story. Sinclair had never heard of Baba but he had a deep yearning for God in his heart; that was enough. For the rest of the story, we turn to Sinclair himself:

I will tell you of an event that at that time seemed shocking but would take 30 years to become fully clear. It has to be kept in mind that neither I nor my wife at that time had any understanding or inclination towards Eastern tradition or philosophies.

In 1964, just a short while after our marriage, my wife and I accepted an invitation to stay at a friend's woodland cottage. As we were going to sleep, I saw an old man standing over my bed in the moonlight. My feeling was not one of fear but rather like one has while a mother is looking at her son. The old man then turned and walked across the room and through the wall!

Just then, my wife said in a loud voice, "Jim, are you awake?" She screamed since she was watching the old man as he walked through the wall. We had never seen anything like that in our life and were shaken by the experience.

I began to meditate twice a day. I had an interesting experience. My meditation was on the light from a candle. Every time I started my meditation looking at the candle flame, I saw a little fellow in the flame wearing an orange robe with a great shock of black hair. Then I would transcend thought.

I also began to have the same dream every single night. It went on for years. I saw myself walking up a hill, led by three men in the darkness of night. One was an old man in white. One looked somewhat like Jesus Christ. The one in the middle had an orange robe. This dream occurred night after night for years.

At that time, I had no knowledge of Shirdi Sai Baba or Sathya Sai Baba. For that matter I had no idea of any Avatar and did not know what the word meant.

I was walking from the lavatory in the night. You know how you get a feeling someone is there. I did. I turned around and there He was. I hadn't the slightest idea who He was. This handsome figure dressed in a long orange robe, with a shock of hair you wouldn't believe, was in my hallway, looking at me silently. I nearly jumped out of my skin. As fast I had seen Him, He was gone. Well, it happened a second time.

Not too much later, I was in my meditation room, and this same figure was standing when I came out of meditation. I rubbed my eyes. He was still there. He motioned as if I was to do something with His Feet. I knelt down and touched His Feet. As I looked up, He was no longer there.

Off I went to the fort of spiritual knowledge in New York City, Samuel Weiser's bookstore. I approached the clerk. He asked if he could help me. I said, 'I certainly hope so.' I described my visitor, of course without giving details of the visit. I wanted to know if there was any book about someone who looked like the description of my visitor. He said, 'One moment. I will be right back.' He returned and handed a packet of whitish grey powder and a book titled “Holy Man and the Psychiatrist” written by a doctor [this book is by Dr. Sandweiss].

The salesman told me that he himself was a devotee of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Was I in for a surprise when I recognized that the recurring dream had been of Shirdi Sai, Sathya Sai, and Prema Sai walking up the hill night after night for many years? The figure in the flame was also Him.

On my 1st visit to Prashanti Nilayam, which is a story in itself, I was granted an Interview with Baba. As I entered the room, He said, "All I have given you, and you have never been happy one moment in your life. I came to you twice. Would you do something for Swami?" My answer was, of course, yes.

Swami went on, "BE HAPPY".

In the 1994 Interview, Swami said to my wife and myself, "I came to you 30 years ago". He said it right out of the blue. 1964 was the year when we had the experience in the woodland cabin with the figure of the old man in white. That was indeed 30 years ago.

PS: Mr. James D. Sinclair, a reputed businessman, made a very big mark for himself in the field of mineral prospecting. After having acquired his degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business, Mr. Sinclair, in the year 1975, set up the Sinclair group of companies for which he became the President and the CEO.

Thereafter, he established, in 1981, the James D. Sinclair Financial Research Institute, where he became the Chairman and the CEO.

Later on his interest increased in the field of television and telecommunications, wherein he became the founding partner of the company Cross Country Cable TV. Then became the Chairman and the Executive Officer of the Tanzanian American Development Corporation.