The Raju family into which Sri Sathya Sai Baba chose to be born has been noted for its piety since the days of the renowned sage Venkhavadhootha. His grandfather was Ratnakaram Kondama Raju who lived to be one hundred and sixteen years of age. A gentle, quiet person, a master at music, able to act and write plays himself; he knew the entire Lepakshi version of the Ramayana by heart.
Here the dramatic incidents from the famous epic were told in song and Sri Kondama Raju with his talent played the role of Lakshmana, the devoted brother of Sri Rama. He was able to depict the steadfast devotion of Lakshmana so well that it touched the hearts of all who saw him and he was always in great demand to play this particular role.
It was the Raju family who built and endowed the village with the Gopalaswami temple; and the devout and revered ‘grandfather’ dedicated a temple to Sathyabhama, a consort of Lord Krishna.
Sri Kondama Raju had two sons Pedda Venkapa Raju and Chinna Venkapa Raju both of whom inherited their father’s musical, literary and dramatic talents. The older son who was later destined to be the ‘father’ of Sai Baba was married to Easwaramma, the daughter of Subba Raju, a distant relative.
The divinely inspired union was blessed with a son Seshama Raju and two daughters Venkamma and Parvathamma.
Sri Kondama Raju’s wife Lakshamma had only one desire in life–to earn The family 3the blessings of the Divine which the scriptures declared would be bestowed upon one who observed the holy fasts, vows and vigils, which she did with the utmost devotion.
As he grew older and unable to appear in plays or write them, Baba’s grand father took delight in gathering the village children around his bed and telling them stories of God and Avatars, which the children in turn loved to hear, for he could make every character and adventure come alive.It was into this simple, devout family that Sai Baba was born.
A strict vegetarian, Kondama Raju had a special affection for his little grandson Sathya, who would not even remain in the neighbourhood when non-vegetarian food was being cooked. At the tender age of seven the intelligent and resourceful child was able to prepare the most tasty dishes rice, curries and chutney in much less time than taken by his mother who had her daughters to help!
To the old man’s delight the little boy could sing in a charming voice, act and even write plays.In later years when Sri Kondama Raju was visited by devotees who came to seek the blessings of his grandson, one could see his eyes light up with joy at the knowledge that the Lord had taken birth in his family. And he would recall the words of his Guru Sri Venkhavadhoota, “Bhoodevi weeps–Narayana will come. You will see Him. He will love you.” And so it came to pass–Narayana came into his home as Sathya Sai and filled his last days with indescribable joy and bliss.
This perfect life lived in the service of the Lord came to an end in 1950, when the venerable old man passed away singing aloud to himself verses from the Ramayana.