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My Dears,

Thanks to our Sai Sister in Puttaparthi, we have an incredible description of today's events in Prashanti with the passing of Swami's last living sibling, Janakiram.  Swami gave even gave an impromptu discourse.

-----Original Message-----
From: Sai Sister in Puttaparthi
Sent: Friday, October 17, 2003 9:39 AM
Subject: Swami's last sibling dies; Swami gives discourse

On Thursday, Swami came out as usual in the morning for bhajan. After lunch, He walked all the way up to  the edge of the verandah, supported by two assistants, before settling down in the open chair. For some reason, they did not put the footrest on, so His feet were hanging down,inches from the floor!

After bhajan, I was surprised to hear the whole village humming that Swami's brother (who has been in  serious condition in the Super Speciality Hospital since his heart operation) had died! I called up a reliable contact, who told me that there was absolutely no confirmation on that rumour. How tragic that rumours send a person to the grave before their time!

Later, Swami went to the hospital. We all heard that his brother, who has been in a comatose or semi-comatose state, awoke; however he wasn't able to speak. Swami poured a few drops of water into his mouth. After that, "he was all right," the rumour spread. But actually, we had no definite reports, only that he is "still alive."

(This made me remember the last hours of Swami's two elder sister: both were, at different times, in serious condition and comatose. Only when Swami came to the hospital, they suddenly became awake and aware. They even held Swami's hand. He gave vibhuti to them and left; after a few hours, they left their bodies peacefully. And of course, the Indian practise is to give a few sips of water, preferably with a tulasi leaf, in their last moments.)

It is an extraordinary thing that droves of people, hundreds and hundreds, (thinking that Janakiram was dead or in the last stages), descended on the Super Speciality hospital to see him, and they were actually let in to look at Swami's brother through the glass doors of the ICU unit!

Evening was a program of different small school children chanting the Vedas, speaking and singing songs. Swami stood up for a minute or two, at the end of the program.

Friday morning, Swami came early, about 7 AM. The same lady who stood up the other day, was in first line. She again stood and lunged towards Swami, to touch Him! She even managed to touch His arm. Swami looked utterly shocked at this event, then suddenly put on a very harsh look and said, "NO! GO AWAY!" By then, the Seva Dals were dragging her away. Swami, also by then, was smiling and giving a look full of love to her!

It seems that someone from Singapore has donated a large amount, which will be used to build and start a nursing college here. There was some small puja related to that, after which (8 AM), arathi bells were rung.  Later, there was bhajan as usual. Swami came in the open chair as usual. Bhajan ended at 9:20 AM, and Swami came out from lunch and was back at the Poornachandra by 9:45 AM.

At about 10:30 AM, Swami's brother Janakiram, aged about 73, really did leave his physical coil behind. Hundreds, even thousands, of people from Puttaparthi and beyond came flocking to the hospital, as word spread. Janakiram leaves behind his wife, two daughters and one son, all comfortably settled in life with children of their own.

Swami's elder brother died in 1986; His eldest sister in 1993; His second elder sister in 1996; and now His younger brother.

The last of Swami's siblings is dead!

The entire town of Puttaparthi 100% closed their shops and went like iron fillings to the magnet of Swami's brother. The place was like a ghost  town! He had helped numerous people and was the protector of all the villagers and others in these areas. He was active in politics and also a member of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust.

The body was soon brought to their village house (a few houses before the birthplace of Swami, the Siva temple) where pandemonium reigned. I didn't go there, but I saw the events on the local TV channel: pathetic scenes of his poor wife falling on the body and crying, and of his son sobbing uncontrollably. The body was already alarmingly swollen and bloated. Hundreds of people then filed past the body. The only movement in Puttaparthi all morning and afternoon, was of people going and coming back from seeing the body. Hundreds of people, from the flower girls and sweepers to the big contactors, were feeling like orphans abandoned. After all, it is not so easy to have close contact with Swami, but Janakiram was always there to help them with their problems and do practical things to tide over various tragedies. Many people depended on him.

Swami had cleverly organised a function to hold people's attention! Swami came about 3:30 PM to the Darshan hall. First, there were speakers talking about the nursing college. Even the kind donor talked about how Swami has been protecting his family.

Then, the talks on Janakiram began. Several people talked on his good nature, his equal love for all and what a major figure he was in Puttaparthi. Last was the flowerly-speached Anil Kumar, who spoke  eloquently in Telugu. He talked on how he first was introduced to Janakiram in the 1980's, when he shared a room with him in Kodai Kanal for 40 days. He talked of how he  had equal love for all, was always ready to help and be kind, and though he sometimes seemed angry, he would immediately turn sweet and soft again, and forget completely about the harshness.

(Meanwhile, the body of Janakiram was taking in procession at about 4:30  PM and buried as is, as per family custom, on a plot of land near the bypass road, in Enumulapalli.)

After that speech, Swami indicated that He, too, wanted to speak! Anil Kumar couldn't resist then  coming to the mike and formerly inviting Swami to say a few words "to lift our heavy hearts." The table was brought and with the help of only one boy, He stood up, at about 5:10 PM, and started to talk.

First Swami sang the poem about the greatness of Indian women, ironically  starting with the line about how Savitri brought her dead husband back to life! His voice faltered with emotion several times. Swami then began talking about the power of God that is in man, and how one such great Shakti was Janakiram! He said that although Janakiram may have had harsh speech, inside his heart was soft and calm. He repeated this several times.

Then He immediately started talking about how Rama  felt when his beloved brother Lakshmana fainted on the battlefield. Rama said, "How can I ever find a brother like you? It is not possible!" Swami went on; several times His voice cracked and fathered, and two or three times He had to stop mid-sentence because He actually started to sob! It was a heart- ending moment, the  closest Swami has ever come to outright, real crying. Slowly, Swami changed the subject to the power of Atma in all, the  Divinity that is permanent, etc. Then His voice became strong again. After some time, He began to talk about the nursing college and the great help that the kind donor was rendering.

After that, Swami talked the rest of the time on love: how we should fill  our hearts with love and give love to all, etc.

To me, this was a message for all of us: perhaps He was showing, by His own show of emotion, that sometimes we may have tragedy occur, but we should overcome it by concentrating on spirituality, filling our hearts with love and sharing that with all.

Suddenly, about 5:50 PM, Swami's right side seemed to buckle and he faltered, starting to fall to one side. His assistant helped him to regain balance. Swami then said, "Don't feel bad that I am put to suffering. I have no inconvenience. In fact, through my actions I am an actual example of pure love." Amidst the applause, He slowly slid down in the open chair and He motioned for bhajans to begin.

After the Ganesh bhajan, and one other bhajan maybe, they sang the really appropriate, "Araja suno mere, parama kripalu," a beautiful bhajan saying, "Listen to my prayer, oh one of supreme compassion! Take me across births and deaths!" etc. On the second time around, just at the line about births and deaths, Swami wiped his eye and called for arathi! So, the bhajan was ended right there in the middle and Swami went out in the open chair.

Whew! What a day!