Many years ago Sri N. Kasturi wrote in "Sathyam Sivam Sundaram", “Long, long ago Puttaparthi was known as Gollapalli or Home of cowherds, a designation reminiscent of the Leelas of Sri Krishna and redolent with the music of His Flute. It was the abode of prosperous Gopalas, and the cattle at this place were sleek and strong and beautiful to behold."
When telling about the legend of the stone that an enraged villager threw at a cobra caught stealing milk from one of his cows, Sri Kasturi related: "Strangely enough that stone has acquired a feature which was revealed by Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba some years ago. Baba directed some people to wash the stone and smear sandalwood paste on the jammed side. When this was done they discerned the clear outline of a picture of Sri Gopalaswami with the world captivating Flute at His Lips, leaning on a cow."
Kasturi further wrote, "Some unsophisticated rustics swear, even to this day, that they can hear the melody of Krishna's Breath passing through the straight and hollow reed. From that day the curse of the writhing cobra that the place would be full of ant hills lost its evil power and cattle have begun to thrive at Puttaparthi."
This legend serves as an introduction to another miraculous Leela which brought me to the Lotus Feet of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, for the celebration of His fifty seventh Birthday.
On Sunday, November 7, 1982, at midnight I began meditation in our home in California. Almost immediately I heard a telephone ring. At once I knew it was the "telephone" in me and that it was from Swami. I continued meditating and soon found myself in the Poornachandra Auditorium in Prasanthi Nilayam, witnessing myself placing a special garland on Swami.
Early the next morning I told my wife, Faith, that I could be joining her and Althea, her 89 year old mother, and Markell Brooks, a long time friend, who were leaving for India the following Sunday for Bhagawan's Birthday. I then related to Faith how Swami had "called" and given me a vision of the garlanding scene. Seemingly insurmountable obstacles, mostly pertaining to my work, which threatened to prevent leaving on such short notice, were removed. On Sunday, November 14, 1982, the four of us began our pilgrimage to Bhagawan.
On Wednesday, November 17, 1982, at 3:00 a.m.,I was meditating while sitting on the Ashram grounds at Puttaparthi. I was very close to the Mandir with a small group of devotees also there bright and early for Omkar Suprabhatam-Nagarsankirtan.
Now Sri Krishna Sai was not on the other side of the world but just a very short distance from me. Twinkling playfully in the darkened heavens with depth without end were His diamonds suspended majestically in space over the silhouetted roof of the Mandir.
My prayer that early morning simply asked that He speak to me. I became ever so quiet deep within, and waited. Then He clearly whispered these words: "I play My Flute. The notes I play for you can always be the sweetest notes. Always strive to earn the chance to hear only the highest notes. Why concern yourself with any notes other than the sweetest. Keep the reed ever clear; keep the channel ever open.”
During His Divine Discourse the next day in the Poornachandra, Swami said that for successful meditation one must have a quiet mind; a mind that flutters, is an obstacle when striving for Santhi.
On the glorious morning of His Birthday I was given the joyous news that I was to garland our Lord. Because of the elaborate festivities, my mind did not recall the November vision. This blessed honour therefore came as a lovely surprise. Minutes after garlanding Swami, I was told to return to His side. I take a moment here to bring to memory this wonderful scene of thousands of devotees in the Poornachandra watching every movement on the Divine stage. As I knelt before Baba, He quietly asked, "Charles, you have a few words to say?" "Yes, yes," I replied.
The extemporaneous talk lasted some twenty minutes. At one point I found myself turning and saying to Swami, "Now, strange as it may seem, I am going to ask Swami's permission for all of us to wish Him a happy birthday." Moments later, after receiving His smile of approval, thousands of devotees in unison tearfully spoke the sweet words, "Happy Birthday, Baba."
A few days later our party was in the Divine presence in the Mandir for an interview. Swami turned to Faith and said, "I heard your prayer." (He was referring to a prayer which she had given at the close of a talk I gave to the college students at a class presided over by Professor V. K. Gokak, Vice-chancellor of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning.) A few minutes later Swami turned to me, and with His fingers "in place", He mimiked playing a Flute. His eyes twinkled as His fingers "covered" the "holes," as He said: "The Flute has nine holes; the body has nine holes."
My eyes blurred in the living presence of Sri Gopalaswami with His world captivating Flute at His lips, playing to those devotees whose channel is open to hear Him.
Long ago, about two thousand years back, Lord Christ trod on the surface of the earth in the small region of Palestine. He could only preach for 3 years. He spoke to the simple folk in a very simple language in the form of stories and parables to show them the way to the truthful way of life and righteousness. His life on the earth was a great Message for humanity.
At a marriage party, when the wine being served was exhausted, Jesus turned water into wine.
Last year a couple stayed in one of the flats in Prasanthi Nilayam and a man who was a habitual drunkard took along with him two bottles of whisky in his baggage.
In the night he started drinking in front of Swami's photo which was hanging on the wall. He poured the drink in a glass and started drinking to the health of Baba in spite of so many remonstrance on the part of his wife that he should not drink in the holy place. But when he drank he found to his utter amazement that it was turned into water. He could not remain without drinking, he opened a new bottle and to his utter amazement that also was turned into water! Therefore the drunkard had to remain without his peg that fateful night. The next day both attended the Bhajan meeting and Baba came to him and made similar gestures as he had made in front of Baba's photo while drinking his stuff.
He was very much amazed and shaken and sat silent with folded hands and afterwards the couple left Prasanthi Nilayam. From then, he got rid of the bad habit for good.
(extracted from Sanathana Sarathi, July, 1983)