Our most beloved Guruji, Sri Sainathuni Sarath Babuji, who dedicated every moment of his life to Sri Sai Baba and lived in the fullness of Baba's grace, has
taken mahasamadhi. On Saturday 13 November 2010, Guruji left his body in Murnau, south Germany, and the world was bereft of a brilliant star that shines but rarely on
A renowned and perfect devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba, Guruji lived and showed the glorious path of Sai to all who came to him. Guruji's personal principle was to be dependent on nothing and nobody other than Sai Baba. His auspicious birth date itself signifies the mystical link with his beloved Sadguru, for Guruji entered this world on Vijayadasami, 7 October 1954, the 36th anniversary of Baba's mahasamadhi, and the very day the holy statue of Sri Sai Baba was installed in the Samadhi Mandir, Shirdi.
Guruji never proclaimed himself as a guru - in fact, he emphatically said he was not one - yet all experienced in him the divine qualities of love, power and knowledge which together define a Sadguru: and he is one of the very highest order.
Guruji used to say that a Sadguru is not one who stays up in his heaven till we have acquired his heights, but one who comes down to our level, takes us by the hand, and leads us steadily up. He gives whatever is needed for our material and spiritual growth and transforms us in the process. Those who came to Guruji experienced his loving influence in their life: he loved us like a perfect mother, his mysterious power protected us, and his knowledge guided us. Nothing was too trivial for him if it mattered to us. Guruji was one who gave and gave whatever was asked of him, but never asked for anything in return. Indeed, it was impossible to give anything to Guruji because of his strictly maintained principle of aparigraha. (As a householder, Guruji would not accept any donations but insisted on generating his own income, which he did as the founder of Saibaba Central School.)
Yes, Guruji comes down to our level, and as our Sadguru he responds out of love to each person's unique need attributing it all to Baba's grace. If a small child wanted a chocolate it would be happily given. To a struggling college student he would give courage and exam success. To the budding sadhaka he gave thrilling glimpses of the transcendent mystery. The sick regained health, the sorrowing received comfort, business people found their trade flourished, scholars discovered a vast store of knowledge in his exceptional intellect, and to those fascinated by philosophy and the scriptures it seemed there was nothing that Guruji had not read, no text he could not quote and expound on - yet his thinking was so original. Guruji would look at even old things freshly and inspire us to do the same. When Westerners started coming to him, they marvelled at his deep appreciation of their own culture, history and literature. Furthermore, Guruji was able to communicate eloquently in English, and had a better grasp of the language than any of them!
Guruji greatly valued literature and books, and over the years, built up a unique personal library containing rare and specialized works in English, Telugu, Sanskrit, Hindi and Marathi. Not only an avid and eclectic reader, he excelled as a writer. His command of both Telugu and English was exceptional and he was known for his unique style of narration and poetic expression.
The respect Guruji had for Indian culture and its spiritual heritage did not hinder him from exploring the modern world. "Why should we stick only to what is old and familiar? Let us explore, investigate and find out, and if something is useful, let us take it up," he would say. In that spirit, Guruji rapidly learnt about computer technology, becoming an expert in both hardware and software. All his mastery was used only to glorify his beloved Sai, whether working in Photoshop to restore an original Baba photo, or tirelessly researching a hidden detail of Baba's life.
It was Master Bharadwaja, his English lecturer at Vidyanagar college where Guruji was a student, who was instrumental in showing Baba to Guruji. From this point on Guruji applied himself to solving the mystery of life with an intensity that was typical of him and made a deep impression on those around him as it was so one-pointed and uncompromising.
The biography of Sri Ramana Maharshi touched Guruji deeply and awakened him to the possibilty of realization in this human life. The hard and highly focused sadhana Guruji set himself came to fruition in the presence of the great saint of Poondi when he was only twenty years old and was experienced as an act of Baba's unfathomable grace. From then on, the seeking was over.
Guruji continued to immerse himself in Baba's life and teaching, including starting "Saipatham" magazine, and writing and editing most of the content himself. His research was thorough and unstinting and he revealed to the world hitherto unknown facts about Sai Baba, as well as original photos. Practical, down-to-earth and with a one-pointed focus on Baba, Guruji clarified several misconceptions, sweeping aside unhelpful superstitious beliefs, and rejecting limiting ideas around orthodoxy, fanaticism and caste.
Guruji's lofty principles, genius intellect and acute attention to detail denote a highly serious nature. However, Guruji's quick wit and sparkling humour are also legendary. Around him one would always hear peals of laughter. Playfulness and spontaneity were natural to him as he affectionately teased those around him, though his jokes often conveyed a teaching too and even his seemingly casual words carried a deep significance. He used to say, "Spirituality is that which makes us spirited!" and Guruji's dynamic being was a continuous illustration of this.
At the wish of his Master, Guruji married Anusuyamma, sister of his Master's wife. From a deeply pious family, and a great devotee herself, she proved to be the perfect companion for Guruji throughout his mission on this earth. Their bright and beautiful daughter Sruti is a testament to the wise and loving guidance of her extraordinary parents.
In the latter years of his life, Guruji was often unwell. More recently, he suffered from a heart condition, which caused his weakened heart to finally stop beating. In accordance with his wish, Guruji's body was reverently laid to rest in Shirdi, abode of his beloved Sadguru, Sri Sai Baba. Throughout that night a stream of devotees who had travelled from all corners of India and abroad, took their final darshan of his adored form in the Saipatham satsang hall, before his wife and daughter performed the last rites. The aradhana (memorial service commemorating the passing of a saint) was held 31 December 2010 - 2 Jan 2011 and his samadhi (sannidhanam) is a place of prayer and meditation.
The whole gamut of spirituality, Guruji once said, can be summed up in just a few words: the experience and expression of love. For those who recognize Guruji as theirs and they his, life is a continuous flow between these two - experiencing his unconditional love in infinite ways, and enjoying whatever we do as an expression of our love for our Sadguru. As one who understood the significance of beauty, Guruji created beauty wherever he was and would bring the aesthetic aspect of life to our attention again and again. This beautiful jewel of a mahatma was a master, a craftsman, and an artist. He is the one who showed us the art of life, and through this, taught us the meaning of love. May he always bless us with his teachings and divine love.