The inmates of Asha Niketan (Fellowship with Mentally Retarded) Bangalore were invited for a holiday at Shrishaila and they were happy to accept the invitation and came in two batches of twelve each and stayed for about a week. Ten acres of land adjacent to the land donated to Satya Sai Trust by my family (90 acres) was donated to the Asha Niketan, for starting a home, an educational institution and a workshop for the mental retarded. In the small houses where they were staying, there was a photograph of Satya Sai Baba, and they grew curious about him and were eager to know something about him. When they were explained about the miracles performed by Sai Baba and the miraculous cures, and about his proclamation that he is the Avatar of the Almighty God, the Sarva Daivatwa Swarupam, they expressed a desire to conduct bhajans at the Ashram of Satya Sai Baba at Shrishaila, from where they could also enjoy the tactile breeze and the view of the sea on the three sides, and the Western Ghats on the East and all the four sides the meeting of the earth and sky in the eternal blue colour.
After obtaining permission from the person looking after the land gifted to Satya Sai Trust, the group went to the premises of the Satya Sai Trust. While they were very happily climbing the steps of the Ashram with great expectations, piety and humility, the ex-major came with a wooden lathi and warned the guide who had accompanied them that they would not be permitted into the Ashram as Satya Sai Baba did not like persons who are hippies and mentally retarded. He also said that if they proceed further, they would be forced out. It was a blessing that the mentally retarded inmates of Asha Niketan did not know the language of the ex-major, but then the guide asked them to return back without conducting the bhajans, they were much pained and sad. G. P. Rao, who had give his house for their vacation felt very bad and to raise them from their dejected mood he took them to his house, gave them sweets, eatables and tea and arranged their bhajans in his prayer room. Though they were mentally retarded their bhajans were sincere and soul-stirring. What if a few lines were forgotten or missing, their songs were inspiring and full of devotion. The whole household felt that these people were really Gods who had come to give blessings in the guise of mentally retarded persons. They were Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Brahmins and other castes, but they all joined together in prayer of one God who transcends all these man-made differentiations.
After this incident, I had been to Ootacamund to see Satya Sai Baba, and found that around him were many Indian Hippies, with long hair and beard and in modern dress and in the centre of them was Baba himself, another hippie with long fuzzy hair and painted face and the glowing red orange robe. But there was one difference that these Indian hippies who had come to Shrishaila were poor and unloved by society. They found love and hope at Asha Niketan and were so full of joy and peace, though the whole world looked down upon them with suspicion and hatred. I was thrilled to find them so very happy without any possessions except their own love, and was jealous of the joy and peace they emanated: On the other hand the Satya Sai Baba followers were arrogant with wealth and self-proclaimed importance.
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Last update: December 23 1995