The Avatar

Little Sathya was a happy and extroverted child. He loved candy and he was chubby. He loved to dance and to sing and to pray. And he loved being generous, especially to the numberless poor that surrounded his village of Puttaparthi in steamy southern India. All of the villagers loved him back. The cowherds and the beggars, the young and the old, the wise and the feeble-minded, his parents grew perturbed at the flow of visitors to the door.

Despite his popularity, Sathya was still just another boy. He’d done nothing remarkable and nothing remarkable had happened to him in his thirteen years. Nothing, that is, until sunset on March 8, 1940.

Sathya was walking with some friends along the crest of Serpent Hill when he suddenly shrieked in pain. His friends turned to find him hopping up and down, holding his foot.

“A black scorpion stung my toe!” Sathya screamed before an abrupt faint took him to the ground.

Some of his friends ran for help while those remaining searched and searched for the culprit. They never found it. It had simply vanished. None had seen the scorpion, none but Sathya.

Over the next two months, Sathya’s parents desperately sought a cure for his newly strange behavior. A line of physicians and exorcists could offer no results. He stopped eating. The once active and boisterous child had become still and silent. His comatose-like meditations were broken only by spontaneous hymns of Sanskrit poetry, a language which he’d never been taught. His recitations of Hindu verse proved flawless and encyclopedic.

When his father became frightened at the boy’s materialization of objects from thin air, he raised a stick to him, “Who are you?!”

“I am Sai Baba,” he answered.

Sai Baba would later reveal himself to his followers as God-incarnate.


Karinann said...

You never cease to amaze me with the range and scope of people, places and things you find to write about.
A Happy and Blessed Easter to you and your family.

cyurkanin said...

Thanks Karinann, Happy Easter to you! I just finished a book on Sai Baba written about twenty years ago and was wondering if he was still alive so I googled him up and lo and behold, god-on-earth just had a pacemaker installed last month and is expected to recover :)

Enbrethiliel said...


You probably already know this, but I can resist being the one to break the news in your combox.

Sai Baba passed away today. He was 86 years old.

I'd love to read something into the date of his death being the date Christians everywhere (yes, this year, even the Orthodox) are celebrating our God's Resurrection from the dead . . . but I'm sure it's just one of the more eyebrow-raising coincidences of history. (Let me guess: you collect those?)

Several years ago, I took an "Asian Studies" class (Don't judge me! It was for an easy grade! And I ended up getting my only B+, which is punishment enough!) in which a lecturer whom I'm always guessed believes in the equality and "bunkitude" of all religions told the class some wacky stories about Sai Baba's miracles, got us all to laugh, and then said, "Why doesn't anyone laugh at water turning into wine or the multiplication of loaves? Remember that Sai Baba's devotees include highly educated professionals--just like Jesus' devotees."

I always remember that when I think of Sai Baba. It makes me see how weird I look to the rest of the world.

cyurkanin said...

How coincidental but always sad when someone dies. It's funny how his description was gradually downgraded through the years, finally ending as a "spiritual leader".