God for a son! Easwaramma, the simple and
devout wife of Sri Pedda Venkama Raju of Puttaparthi, was blessed with
this one woman a Yuga honour on 23rd November, 1926, when she bore the
cherubic child Sathyanarayana. Like Krishna for Devaki, Sathya was Easwaramma's
To have the sacred bond of mother and son intensified
a million times by the son being Divine must be the loftiest human experience.
But, for the time being, Easwaramma was unaware of any extraordinariness;
she merely delighted in playing with her son's fair curls, and fondly watching
his light complexioned, beautiful face.
When Sathya was nine months old, his mother first
knew that her child was out of the ordinary. Sathya even as he lay freshly
bathed with collyrium in His eyes, suddenly let out a cry. Easwaramma was
startled. Never had her son cried before! She rushed and picked him up
in her lap, but lo! there was a halo of ethereal light around Sathya. The
light did not hurt her; she was carried off to the realms of the Divine,
and knew no more.
She learned to be a devotee
At that time, Easwaramma would have surely linked
this to the immaculate conception of Swami the big ball of blue light that
had come rolling towards her, as she was drawing water, and had glided
into her, making her fall senseless near the well.
Easwaramma grew fonder and prouder of her son, as
he grew up and earned the title 'Guru' in deference to his calm, deep temperament
and invincible reasoning. But the doting mother was pained at Sathya's
disinterestedness in Himself. When pressed by his mother to tell what He
wanted, He said "I do not need anything, but whatever you will give me
I will accept” an answer more for a devotee than a mother. But the mother
had better learn to be a devotee, for the self manifested Sathya had no
The saga of her life, then, would be coming to terms
with God who had chosen to be her son. Sathya would offer a mix of Divine
and human responses, and it would be worth her while to gradually sharpen
her discernment of His Divinity. The fine balance she needed to love Sathya
as her son and accept Him as God, would keep the strings of her mind stretched
in perpetual sadhana.
Motherly attachment hard to let go
Easwaramma had earned the respect of the village
women by her devout ways. She now earned their reverence as being the Guru's
mother. They would touch her feet when they met her at a well or in one
of the numerous temples. That in being mother to God, she became the mother
of the universe was slowly becoming clear. Sathya would bring home hungry
classmates to be fed. Her amazement at her son's philanthropy expanded
her own heart with love; but understandably it was fixed on Sathya whether
as her son, or, epitomising the whole creation, as God.
While thrilled at her son's singular ways, a mother's
fear of anything abnormal in her son even of the godly kind
sometimes perturbed her. Occasionally under the veil of illusion, she thought
that Sathya was remarkable from his being possessed. Then she would propitiate
deities to cure Him.
Soon enough Sathya declared that He was Sathya Sai
Baba and a bewildered Easwaramma tried even harder to get back her 'son.'
But as her motherly moha (attachment) occasionally gave way to dispassionate
moments she began to acknowledge Him as God and even hesitantly calling
Him 'Baba' like the devotees who had started to gather around Him. She
would feel very happy when her son would act like one of the celestial
personages preserved in her memory. Yet a moment later she would assertively
advise Him to watch His step lest danger befall Him or chide Him for choosing
forsaken places for bhajans.
Promise to never leave Puttaparthi
Time flew on as the energetic Baba busied Himself
with visiting devotees' houses and initiating the groundwork of the ashram
that was to come up later. Easwaramma's mind was constantly on her son,
and slowly the noble lady grew acclimatised to His new avatar.
It was not long before the Old Mandir was built.
Throngs of people started to pour in. The mother of God was by now His
devotee and had begun to call Him Swami, a name she found like many
others- easier to tongue than the distant sounding Baba. She would sit
in the bhajan hall and quietly admire the slender majesty of Swami, hear
His silver voice like the peals of temple bells, and feel the aura of His
Easwaramma started to flower into a new personality.
She was the happiest when Swami's planned to build a 12 bed hospital. She
objected to its site, however. How on earth would the sick climb to such
a height? Swami's explanation that they would be carried in stretchers
seemed unsatisfactory. But she laboured hard with the others in clearing
the land, and helped in carrying the building materials where needed.
Though she joyfully accepted Swami giving away all
of Himself to the devotees, a mother's fear of losing her son remained.
When she came to know of Swami's plan of building the present Prasanthi
Nilayam she was greatly upset because she thought it was too far from the
village. She demanded to know from swami whether He intended to distance
Himself from His devotees- the women especially- for how would they get
to that far-off, desolate place full of snakes and scorpions? swami told
her not to believe in rumours and tried to pacify her. but had to promise
that He would never leave Puttaparthi.
Phone calls to Africa
Easwaramma was no stranger to life’s sorrows. Her
daughters were widowed, to give an example. But she bore her burdens well
from the strength of mind that comes from living a hard life. Moreover,
she had Swami to fall back on in the most trying time. Learning from His
example of serving others, she began to share the sorrows of other women,
thereby sublimating her grief. In this sense she was her son's best student.
There were lighter moments like when Swami before
His trip to Africa (1968) frightened her out of her wits by the story of
cannibals. Yes, she knew them. Ravana was one of their tribe! The monster
had declared that he would chop up Sita for breakfast unless she gave in
to his wishes within two months. Sri Kasturi tried to allay her fears,
but inadvertently brought in the wild animals of Africa, which he told
her they (Swami and Kasturi) were going to see, and frightened her even
more. She had words of caution for them right till the airport! She was
told that she could speak to Swami and Sri Kasturi on the telephone across
the seas. And the simple woman and mother would telephone over and over
again, feeling relieved to hear their voices. But then she realised they
were safe and rang up no more.
On their return, she saw the photographs of the visits
and felt ashamed at her ignorance which led to her being so easily deceived.
Women should be made more aware and educated, she decided. Women should
indeed be better informed, but blessed is the ignorance of Easwaramma which
revealed a mother’s love for her son, so delicate and caring that it fears
damage to a grown-up man. And is it really ignorance to admit one’s lack
of information? on the contrary a proper assessment of oneself is the beginning
of true knowledge.
The mother of millions
Easwaramma’s native wisdom and self confidence could
dispel fear out of women. So despairing women who visited the ashram went
to her for solace. She welcomed them with love, and helped them to build
faith in their worth. The women found fresh courage to begin their lives
anew. She also persuaded Swami to pay the tuition fee of her grandsons
being educated at various distant places, and similarly got the grandsons
of her peers educated too. She would personally go to Sri Kasturi, who
was the post master then, and ensure that the money orders to these children
were being sent on time. Whenever there was a delay, she would lament that
without money the boy in question would be unable to study, being robbed
of his peace of mind.
She taught the nervous devotees patience. That would
bring the gradual acceptance (deep within) of Swami as God, and thus relief
from their troubles. She confided to them her own slow journey as a devotee:
the initial fear giving place to wonder, wonder turning to awe, awe turning
to acceptance expressing as adoration, and adoration yielding delight!
Can anyone without Jnana (spiritual wisdom) could have put it with such
In being Swami’s mother, she became the mother of
millions. Her own limiting individuality melted as she saw Swami open His
heart to His own selves in the form of all beings. But Swami remained her
son till the last. One day as she lay surrounded by her daughters, she
called out to her son and God, "Swami! Swami!" There was a prompt response
from another part of the building, "Coming! Coming! " But before her son
could reach her, she had evolved to the apex of her devotional journey:
she reached Swami.
Sai Towers Publishing, March - April 1998