Satya Sai Baba, Dec. 28, 2005  

Darshan has changed since I last visited in March, 1985; and considerably more than my first
stay in 1969. Like much of our world population and the housing its demands has created,
Puttaparthi is a much larger city center than the small speck in the desert that it was in 1969. At
that time,  I stayed in a cave above Baba's ashram for six months, and enjoyed my twice daily
15 minute walks thru the desert to receive darshan. Today a school and hospital crowded the
desert route I previously used and thwarted today's effort to go for a remembrance visit. So,
Rama and I took a rickshaw several miles around the backside of the hill and made an attempt
to hike in from the rear; but time cut us short about an hour into our effort as  we realized with
the setting sun that we would be left in the dark if we did not start our return.  

Baba badly injured his hip some months ago and actually had a car drive him thru the ashram
area where  he usually walked and offered blessings. Some say that a table fell upon him while
some disciples were moving furniture; but no one seemed to know exactly what happened.
Although he is in a wheelchair and in considerable pain; he managed to walk on his 80th
birthday celebration and address and bless the large crowd that had gathered. This, and the
fact that he often does not show up at all, does not seem to have affected his devotee's fervor.
The expanded complex was filled with at least ten thousand devotees; all anxious to catch
glance of Baba's grace.

Puttaparthi is a unique place to stay, with devotees from all over the world to mingle with.
Myself, practicing the path of inquiry and meditation, have always found the Baba devotees
blind faith approach a bit annoying and superficial. But, on the plus side they are strong in
service to the community and from that I am inspired.  We are staying on the ashram property
in one of the many rooms provided for the modest cost of one dollar fifty  per day for a double
room. The ashram compound has several canteens offering, Western, South Indian, and North
Indian cousine.

Today we rented bicycles and rode into the desert to a well that is excellent for swimming. We
went with a multi-talented friend of Rama's (bajan singer, yogi, physicist,)   Krishna kant Shukla
who introduced us to the spot. I gave Rama a swimming lesson in the 60 foot deep water. Later
that evening we went with Krishna Kant, to a home for homeless children run by a fellow I only
know as Michael. He is a remarkable man from the USA who picked up about 20 street  children
and brought them into his home to live. The children are being provided with a good education
and food and lodging. They are a real cute bunch, and as one might  imagine, and very
appreciative.
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Michael and his little goddesses, Rama, Krishna Kant Shukla, myself, and one of twelve pups.
I went to see Baba on my birthday in
1985, about 15 years after living in the
cave above his asram. I shot this as he
came out to give morning darshan.
I acquired this walled cave in a very auspicious manner. A day or so after arriving in Puttaparthi in 1970 I asked
Baba's principle attendant if he knew of any caves I could stay in. He said that there was a yogi named Sai Das
who had lived in a cave for over 15 years and directed me to him. Upon arriving at the cave the yogi explained to
me that his disciples had just completed an ashram for him several hundred miles away and that he would be
leaving in a couple of days. He offered me the cave and there I stayed for 6 months. I would often wander the
sandstone desert at night and lounge in pools carved in the rock over the centuries and filled with rainwater
Relaxing near well with krishna kant Shukla
after swim.
Rama  and I at  the well after swimming lesson
Below:
This is Gita, Babas
elephant. I used to see
him frequently as he
passed below my cave on
strolls.