“Sai Baba is coming, Sai Baba is coming!” one student shouts, and everyone runs towards the gate of the Senior Boys’ Hostel as if they can feel an earthquake tremor. Everyone then lines up on the footpath in anticipation of Baba’s car’s arrival. Invariably, a few moments later Baba passes by the hostel, smiling and blessing everyone. And what was the trigger, for that one student to announce that Sai Baba is coming? He saw Sai Geetha (Baba’s elephant) waiting near her gate, which was just opposite to the Senior Boys’ Hostel.
I was always amused by and admired the interaction between Sai Baba & Sai Geetha. I have seen Sai Baba waiting to see Sai Geetha, and Sai Geetha longing to see Sai Baba. No major festival at Parthi would be complete without Sai Geetha coming to the Prasanthi Mandir and Sai Baba caressing and feeding her. In fact, as she approached the temple and saw Sai Baba waiting at a distance, she would literally run to reach Sai Baba. Be it the birthday function or sports meet, Sai Geetha used to be beautifully decked and lead the procession. She was a very special member of Prasanthi Nilayam.
Baba brought Sai Geetha from Muddumalai forest in 1962 at a very young age as an orphan. It was Baba’s unconditional love that touched her and she reciprocated this through her steadfast devotion to Sai Baba. Many a time, Sai Baba used to chastise students, saying our part time devotion is useless and nowhere as close to that of Sai Geetha’s, and we should all learn from Sai Geetha. Indeed she was such a great devotee that Sai Baba made her the benchmark for our devotion.
Even though she was physically an animal, she was so in tune with Baba that she would know His feelings, movement and arrival. She would pine to see him. Baba used to always see Sai Geeta before leaving for Parthi. Once Sai Baba was going to Bangalore unannounced. No one knew it except Sai Geetha. In fact, she blocked Sai Baba’s car and made Him return (of course happily to pacify her). At that time Sai Baba had told, “She loves Sai Baba so much that she can feel Sai Baba’s feelings. She came to Sai Baba when she was a small baby; so many years have passed, but see Her love has only increased – expansion love. That is devotion.”
Whenever Sai Baba used to go to Bangalore for long periods in those years, He would also make arrangements for Sai Geetha’s stay near His residence in Bangalore. On most occasions, Sai Geetha would walk the way to Bangalore, escorted by her caretakers and Sai volunteers, with proper rest stations arranged for her at appropriate distances along the route.
Once in the early 80s, when Sai Baba used to stay in the ‘old Brindavan bungalow’ Mr. Rama Brahmam, the caretaker of the Bangalore ashram, also used to sleep inside that building. One day, it was late at night, maybe past midnight, when Rama Brahmam’s sleep was disturbed by strange noises outside the doors and windows. It was not very loud, but was a mystifying muffled clatter, a kind of hissing noise in addition to other sounds. Perturbed, Rama Brahmam looked through the window as he was under strict instruction from Sai Baba that he should not open the door unless he knew the person. What he saw through the window in that dark hour was only a trunk and he panicked. In the same instant, Sai Baba came out from inside and Rama Brahmam at once blurted out, ‘Sai Baba, something has come.’ Sai Baba only smiled and calmed him saying, ‘Do not worry, it is Sai Geetha.’ And then Sai Baba opened the door, pacified Sai Geetha who was hungry for darshan, made arrangements for her stay and only then retired to His room. Such is the Lord’s Love. When the devotee’s love is pure, the Lord does not care whether it is midnight, mid-air, mid-forest or mid-ocean.
Once Sai Geetha’s caretaker Sri Pedda Reddy was asked what his most precious lesson was that he has learnt in his twenty-year association with Sai Geetha. Without hesitation he said, “Devotion to Sai Baba. I have not seen anybody crave for Sai Baba like she does. That is the greatest thing I have learnt from her.”
In May 2007, after His stay at Kodaikanal during summer Sai Baba went straight back to Parthi. Usually, Sai Baba returned to Bangalore from Kodaikanal, as Parthi would still be very hot. Everyone was surprised with Sai Baba’s change in plan, but soon realised that Sai Baba had come to Parthi to give Darshan to Sai Geetha, as she would leave her physical body soon. She was indeed a great devotee, whom God too pined to see. An inspiration to all of us, who wish to tread the path of Devotion to God
– Manoj Gautam