Shri Hanumanth Rao is a old devotee, aged around 94 years of age.
He was one of the pioneer devotees of Hyderabad, who did prachar of Sai Baba.
He used to regularly have Sai Satsangs and Bhajans in his house. Smt Mani Amma who translated the Sai Satcharitra into telugu, also regularly visited the satsangs. Sri Hanumanth Rao stayed for some time in Shirdi. Now he is leading a healthy life even at this age.)
The number of instances where Baba came to the rescue of His devotees, stranded on Railway platforms, is legion.
Sai Satcharitra illustrates an incident when Balaram Mankar wanted to travel by train from Poona to Dadar. At the booking office he felt helpless as he found a big crowd. Just as he gave up hope of travelling that day, a man looking like a villager came straight to him and told him that he had cancelled his Dadar trip and offered his ticket to him. Mankar was pleasantly surprised. But before he could take out the money, the man disappeared into the crowd. He rushed forth immediately and searched for him all over the place but there was no trace of the villager. It suddenly dawned on him who that villager was.
Now read these similar incidents from the life of a saintly devotee from Hyderabad.
It was in October, 1985. Sri M. Hanumanth Rao (MHR) had to go to Poona. He had no reserved accommodation. The general compartments were fully packed. People were hanging on the footboards also.
With Sai on his lips and hope in his soul, he was pacing up and down the platform looking for some space anywhere. Just then a tall bearded Muslim from a reserved compartment beckoned to him to get in. He meekly got in.
The old man ordered him to sit on the floor. He obediently did. A few minutes later when the train started leaving, the old man rose from his seat, smiled at him, and got down the train. Later when the Ticket Examiner (TE) came, he (MHR) produced his unreserved ticket. The TE looked at the ticket and then at him.
Something happened in his mind. Adorning a smiling face, he lifted him by his arms and put him on the empty seat vacated by the old man and later collected the berth charges.
In Poona his relatives pressed him to stay further when he wanted to return home for Diwali. They were all captured by his saintly manners. But there he felt like a fish out of water as he could not perform Sai Poojas and Aartis as he used to do in his house. One day he silently sneaked out of their house and came to the station.
As in Mankar’s case, he found a big crowd at the Poona booking window. The train had already steamed in. A simple man he felt highly perplexed, unable to cope with the situation. A few minutes later the engine whistled and started moving. There was a quick flurry of movement. People were running in different directions to reach their compartments.
He suddenly galvanized into action. Putting all faith in Baba, he came on to the platform and rushing towards the moving train got in. It was a reserved compartment.
The TE angrily made wild gesticulations and demanded the ticket. He replied he could not purchase one. The TE then flew into a rage and threatened to throw him out at the next station. He ordered him to sit on the floor near the door. Without a word he (MHR) meekly obeyed him.
He then opened the Sai Satcharita and started reading it. He does not waste his time anywhere as per his wont. In the meanwhile the TE completed his ticket checking and coming to him (MHR) sat on the TE seat near him. Looking askance at him, he gruffly asked what was he reading. The book was shown to him. He shuffled through the pages and read here and there. His attitude thereafter significantly changed.
He enquired and came to know much of his (MHR) spiritual side. After some time Dhond station came. TE went out. Seizing the chance, MHR also got down and ran towards the station premises and came back with a ticket to Hyderabad. Settling himself he took out the Likhita Japa book and started writing Sai Naam.
The TE too came back. There were some refreshments in his hand, which he offered to MHR and forced him to partake of it. He asked what he was writing MHR replied that it was Sai Naam. “How many times you have written so far?” he enquired. “More than sixty lakhs. Baba willing. I will complete a crore and more before He recalls me,” MHR replied.
Then they were drawn into lengthy conversations on Baba and His Leelas.Time flew by. After nightfall Wadi Station came where the operational staff changes duties.
The TE took MHR into his arms and embraced him. Tears walled up in his eyes as he did so. He then took farewell, got down and merged into the crowd. A very strict man in the beginning threatening to throw him out, his manners changed completely on hearing of Baba and finally become a very warm friend.
Now read this charming incident, around the same time MHR went with a friend to Cuddapah and stopped at his friend’s relative’s house.
There he saw in every house and shop only the contemporary Sai Baba’s photos. They went to several other houses known to his friend. Wherever he went he saw only this Sai Baba’s photos.
His eyes were thirsting for the photos of Shirdi Sai Baba anywhere. His attempts were met with thorough failure. This disturbed him greatly and his spirits were at low ebb.
Only an intense Sai devotee could understand his state of mind then. Feeling restless, he desired to get out of the town quickly. Without telling his friend, he came to the bus stand and took a bus going in the direction of the station.There on the way, as the darkness was creeping, he heard the evening Aarti of Shirdi Sai Baba! MHR stopped in his tracks and looked. It was from the nearby Shirdi Sai Baba temple.
Greatly relieved, thither he ran and took the darshan of his beloved Sai! Coming to know after Aarti that he was bound for Hyderabad, the priest told him that he must hurry as the train had already arrived on the platform MHR ran and entered the platform from the long end of it.
The train as usual was packed. Not knowing he hurriedly got into a reserved compartment Seat No 5 was vacant and he sat on it.
The neighbors protested saying that a Muslim old man had just then occupied the seat and went out. Entrusting his cloth bag and assuring them that he would not occupy seat No. 5, he went out to purchase the ticket. There he saw heavy rush at the booking window. When he felt totally helpless, he saw an old man with a grey beard in a worn-out sherwani leaning with one foot closed on a pillar and smoking a beedi leisurely.
He beckoned him and introducing himself as Qudratullah asked where he was going. MHR replied. He said he knew that and so saying he took out a ticket and gave it to him. When MHR was fumbling for the fare from his pocket, he forbade him starting that he better hurry as the train was leaving.
He said he would be with him soon. MHR ran and caught his compartment just in time. Wearily he sat on seat No. 5, which was still vacant, and looked into the ticket. What he saw made him sit bolt upright.It was a reserved ticket to Hyderabad and was marked seat No 5 of the same compartment!!!
Then he looked for the old man but he was not to be seen anywhere. He felt momentarily disoriented.
Then as light dawned on him he composed himself and reassured that unseen by the naked eye Baba is always by his side and that He would respond to any sincere devotee who loves Him wholeheartedly, by taking any from, at any time and at any place as mentioned in the Sai Satcharita.
*SAMARATH SADGURU SRI SAINATH MAHARAJ Kl JAI!*
As published in Souvenir published by Sri Shiridi Sai Baba Samajam, Nallkunta
Hyderabad in the year 1991)