CHILDHOOD STORIES – II
Even as a young child, Baba disapproved of books and films which did not uphold human values and which willfully dragged down ideals in order to make money. Whenever a “touring talky-picture show” pitched a tent in the village, folks from miles around would sacrifice their small earning to meet the expenses of seeing as many films as they could. But Sathya refused to attend this with the other children. He stood firm explaining that the films depicted false values, misinterpreted the scriptures and made a muddle of music.
When he was ten years old Sathya formed a Pandari Bhajan Group consisting of about eighteen boys uniformly dressed in ochre robes. Each had a flag and wore jingle bells as anklets, and they danced to the tune of folk songs and ballads depicting the yearning for dharshan by pilgrims at lord Panduranga’s shrine. Sathya taught the children in poetry and song the ordeals of the long pilgrimage. He also composed some songs on the life of Sri Krishna from the Bhagawatha Purana. Sathya played the role of either Sri Krishna or mother Yasoda. It was His dance, dialogue and music that lent charm to the devotional songs. His portrayal of Sri Krishna was such that it seemed as if Sri Krishna of Brindavan and Mathura appeared before the villagers.
So realistic were his performances, that during singing of a song describing Lord Narasimha, Sathya quite transformed into this Man-Lion manifestation and leapt with such ferocity that He frightened all who saw Him. People offered worship and He became young Sathya again and resumed His song! This incident spread the word that God manifested Himself when Bhajan group sang and danced at Puttaparthi.
He also included with the traditional themes, songs to a new Deity and a new shrine of which no one had yet heard. The shrine was Shirdi and the Deity, SaiBaba. “Who could Sai Baba be?” The elders wondered as the children danced in the streets.
When cholera swept through the surrounding villages killing the entire families, Puttaparthi escaped unscathed! Wise man told one another that the Divine atmosphere generated by the Bhajan group was responsible for their safety and good health; and so the little group was invited to many a village to enact plays. These plays depicting the Puranic stories brought out the victory of truth over falsehood and the love and protection of the Lord for His devotees. Sathya selected several roles for Himself especially those of Krishna and Mohini. There was a rhythm in His feet, and a litheness and loveliness they had never seen. To them it seemed that He never touched the earth and that He belonged to an ethereal sphere. So good were the performances given by the young boy, that when He enacted the role of Tara, (wife of Harishchandra) His own mother rushed upon the stage to prevent Tara′s execution, quite forgetting that it was all a drama!