General Editor’s Preface
The great saint, Sai Baba of Shirdi attained Maha Samadhi in 1918. No one knows when or where he was born. He made his appearance suddenly, unobtrusively in Shirdi from where his spiritual incandescence radiated throughout the country during the latter half of the 19th Century till his soul merged with the Infinite.
Perhaps, his influence has increased, and to a phenomenal degree, after he shed his moral coils. Innumerable narratives, about his miraculous powers, about the cures he had effected abound. He was at his best an enigma and still continues to be so. There are many narratives recorded by those who were fortunate enough to be in his physical presence. There are many more whose fervor and enthusiasm have triggered their imagination and creativity and who have contributed to the legends about him.
We have to sift through the mixture of chaff and grain, carefully isolate the facts and present them to the present generation and to the generations to come.
The miracles He performed were many. He used to light rows of lamps by requesting the shop keepers for oil. When they refused once, he merely poured water into the lamps and the lamps burned brightly! The chastened shop keepers begged to be forgiven.
This incident turned Baba into a hero overnight. The village people started to flock to him and worship him as a divine saint or God, much against his will, with waving of lamps, throwing of flowers and coloured rice over him and offers of fruit, sandal, etc. they declared Baba was their God or Godman, sent to them. it was thus the fakir became the God or Godman of Shirdi.
In this set of Shirdi stories the author Dr. K. Venkataraman presents the incidents in which the devotees had experienced the grace of Baba under trying situations, testifying to them Baba’s living presence.
Dr. Venkataraman belongs to a family of Maharshi Ramana and Sai devotees. The Bhavan has had the good fortune of publishing his first novel The Hill and it was accepted by the readers whose-heartedly. We are sure this book will also make a similar impact among the devotees of the great Baba.
This book is a sequel to my Shirdi Stories. That book presented salient incidents in Sai Baba’s life and the manifestations of his grace in a story-telling mode, from the point of view of one devotee or other. In this book stories are presented in a similar way of incidents after Sai Baba had passed away - incidents in which the devotees had experienced the grace of Baba in a trying situation, testifying to them his living presence. There are any number of such incidents, but only twenty one have been selected. To my knowledge, there has been no book so far devoted exclusively to his living presence.
The core facts of the ‘stories’ are those averred by the devotees themselves. Those facts are here laced with fiction to portray the situations in their context and to fit in with the general requirements of a short story. The stories range from the days shortly after Baba had shuffled his mortal coil right to the present and cover diverse locations beyond Shirdi itself. The incidents are an affirmation to his devotees of the plenitude of his undiminishing grace; did he not say, “My tomb will speak?” His response is unfailing. In some cases, his grace is routed through a living intermediary, in some, he himself takes different forms; in some others he appears in a devotee’s dream or as a vision; and in yet others he simply ‘arranges’ the turn of events for the benefit of a devotee. To classify the ways in which he showers his grace is impossible and indeed futile. I have simply written the stories as they came to my mind, without any attempt at classification or chronology. I have left the selection of incidents and the sequence to the grace of Baba himself. I have changed the name of the devotee concerned in certain cases.
I hope the book will strike a chord in the hearts of devotees and devotees-to-be. The latter, after reading this book, may, hopefully, delve into the ever-increasing literature on Sai Baba.
I dedicate this book to Padma, my wife, Meera and Shobana, our daughters and to Atul (Shobana’s husband and our son-in-law). All of us have experienced Sai Baba’s grace.
Meera has been my friend, philosopher and guide in spiritual matters. The last story in this book is a first-hand account of her own experience.
It is hoped that readers will write to me of their own experience of Baba’s grace.
About the Author
Krishnaswamy Venkataraman, Ph.D and his family are fervent Sai devotees. This collection of short stories of Baba’s continuing flow of grace after he had passed away, is a sequel of his Shirdi Stories (Srishti Publishers) which contains ‘stories’ of Baba’s grace when he was in the body. After retiring from national and international service, the author began writing on religious and spiritual matters in a story-telling mode to arouse the interest of the young generation with whom didactic assertions may be counter-productive. He started on this route with the novel The Hill (a Bhavan’s publication) on Ramana Maharshi and has followed it with the two books on Sai Baba. He is also the author of Parables for the Soul (Srishti Publishers), besides a number of publications on the subjects of public finance, technology and development.
Sai Baba’s pictures adorn countless puja rooms in India and his temples are thronged by devotees. Devotion to him is spreading exponentially. One example of the faith in him as an unfailing source of succour is that his picture is very often painted on the back of trucks and cars!
The stories here, each self-contained, cover the length and breadth of the country and are spread over the eight decades that have elapsed since his passing away. They are based on the actual experiences of Baba’s non-corporeal grace regardless of the religion or region of the recipient. Brief versions of those experiences, as published elsewhere, have been elaborated into short stories with a lacing a fiction so that the reader could imagine vividly the situation that each person faced.
The reader will find the volume absorbing both as a collection of short stories and as a portrayal of experiences relating to Baba from the point of view of one person or another.
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