Acharya Sri Ekkirala Bharadwaja’s experience

Saints, when approached in the proper manner, can enable us to realize that all saints are one in essence.

Some do not realize the need for this and mistake the act of seeing several saints as amounting to deserting their own guru, as a sign of their weak & flickering faith.

True seekers should first see several gurus, hear their teaching watch their ways and only then fix their faith where it naturally abides in course of time.

Such a one’s faith would not flicker. Besides, it would even help him to realize that his own guru is not merely an embodied mortal but is the spirit which is manifest in all guru-forms. This is the spirit of the statement quoted from The ‘Gurugita’.

It signifies that honey is one though flowers are varied and a bee, being wise, does not care for the form and colour of the flowers but cares for the honey they contain.

This is the spirit of Shirdi SaiBaba’s Leela of demonstrating that he is one with all saints.

That Baba approves of such an attitude is shown by the fact that whenever his devotee ardently prays for true enlightenment alone and has transcended the erroneous view that seeking the blessings of other saints is contrary to reposing faith in him, he brings him in contact with several great saints and shows that he is one with them.

Acharya Sri Ekkirala Bharadwaja narrates his experience:

“In 1967, I was laid up with a relapse of typhoid and was admitted in a hospital at Chirala (Prakasam Dt. A.P.).

I wondered why Baba who almost always intervened in my affairs to set them right, had allowed this to happen.

One day when I was telling my fellow patients and visitors about Sri Sai Baba and other saints,

One of the patients told me that there lived at Chirala, an old bearded man in rags, with matted hair, and that he never minded wind, sun or rain.

I was told that he continuously wandered from place to place, resting now and then on the roadside; that he did not speak to anyone nor did he accept anything from anyone except the one whom he chose. The fellow patient asked me to see the man described and determine whether he was a saint or not.

It was on a Thursday morning after my prayer, that I was told all this and it at once struck me that, probably, Baba had used my illness to serve the purpose of getting me in touch with a living great saint. So I at once told my visitor friend to take me to him that day. My friend was at first hesitant to do so and asked me to wait till I was well. But I insisted.

My friend first went out and saw where the holy one was and took me there in a rickshaw. There, in the front verandah of a thatched hotel was seated, a man of about 50 or 55, his clothes all dirty and dust-laden, his whole body unwashed, his hair and beard growing long and twined like ropes.

He had a leg swollen with elephantiasis. He sat there smoking and blinking at the world like one stupefied. I at first felt that he could be anything but a saint. Even when I stood close to him he took no notice of me. I wondered whether he was sane at all.

Time passed in awkward silence and I tried twice to attract his attention by bowing to him.

He did not seem to have noticed it at all. I immediately became aware of a subtle but significant change gradually coming in my mind. All thoughts regarding the Swami and the self-conscious waiting on my part and my apprehensions of what the passers by on the road would think of me were rapidly dissolved into a profound inner peace which deepened more and more firmly.

I sat down and my body was getting more and more locked up in one posture and it was imbibing the peace.

I at once knew that I was in the presence of a perfect avadhuta. He just glanced at me and I joined my palms in salutation. He took no notice of it.

I gradually grew aware of my friend’s presence by my side. I felt I should see the saint alone and left for the hospital. The words of Bhagavan Ramana that the inner peace we experience effortlessly in the presence of a sage is the hallmark of his perfect jnana had sealed my opinion of the swami. However, I wished to take another chance.

Next day, I saw him alone at the same place. During the first few minutes I met with the same seeming indifference of the sage to my presence accompanied by the same peace.

I bowed to him thrice and he took no notice of it. A painful apprehension that I was not worth his attention was slowly occupying my heart. I was in a mood to quit. Suddenly a way of trying to contact him flashed in my mind. I silently prayed to Baba,

“Baba, you have demonstrated that you are one with all saints. If, indeed, you are identical with this one too, and if you want me to see him often, you have to demonstrate it to me. I shall silently repeat your sacred name a hundred times and if, before I finish the number, this saint gives me something without my asking, I shall take it that I am his as I am yours”.

So saying, I started silently repeating Baba’s name. By the time I repeated it some 40 times, the saint sat upright, took out something from his pocket and gave it to me saying, “Take it!”. I stretched my hand for it and he placed a cigarette and a match box. “Smoke it” he said. I never smoked in my life earlier nor was I willing to do so then.

Just when I was about to say ‘No’ it occurred to me that it was I that prayed for some token of grace from him and I looked on him as Baba. How improper to reject what he deigned to offer me as a token of grace!

I took it and smoked it. He immediately offered me another and I smoked it too. In the meanwhile, the hotel-keeper came out and asked the swami what he wanted. “Serve idli, chilli powder and chutney to this swami”, he said pointing at me. In a moment a bearer handed him the same which the swami passed on to me. I almost panicked.

How improper for one who was passing the ninth day of relapse of typhoid to eat the stuff! Yet my feelings again told me, ‘This is a test of your faith that it is Baba who responds to you through the swami’. I at once ate what was given. Then came dosa, upma and a glass of milk! Then followed two packets of cigarettes all of which I smoked.

It was 3-45 p.m. and I had to be in the hospital by 4 p.m. when the doctor arrives there. As this thought crossed my mind the swami said, “You may go, swami!”.

As I returned to the hospital in a rickshaw, I could not decide whether I should tell the doctor what I ate that day or not, I decided to wait till 10 p.m. and tell him the same if necessary. Quite surprisingly there was no fever any longer! It was evident that Baba gave me a great demonstration of his grace, more than I had asked for.

Subsequently, for about five years I visited the swami as often as I could. Thus Baba had blessed me with the darshan of one more great saint for which I had prayed him at Shirdi years earlier. Further, he had won for me the blessings and prasad of this saint and demonstrated that he was not different from the avadhuta.”


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