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I have often wondered about Swami's brothers and sisters. And his surrounding kin. Kondamma Raju, Swami's Grandfather, comes to mind, quickly. The Kannam had two childless wives, Subbamma, and Kamalamma, who were Swami's "aunt-mothers" for want of a better term, during his childhood.

Seshamma Raju is sometimes poorly portrayed in Sai Literature as the elder brother (Telugu Pandit he was called); I made many enquiries recently around Puttaparthi about Seshamma Raju and found that he was a devotee of his brother. Certainly he was the instrument of divine revelation taking young Sathyanarayana to Uravakonda where the Divine Self revealed itself.  Seshamma Raju was also the instrument occasioning the historic Letter of 25, May 1947, wherein Swami revealed hitherto unknown aspects of his mission, the task, the vow, the work, the 'reason to be proud' and the definition of "devotee" who will never be given up once they attach themselves to Baba. I understand Seshamma Raju gave some talks, and these have been set to paper.

Swami's sisters, Venkamma (1918-1993) and Pavathamma (1920-1996) were closely associated with Swami all their lives.  

When Sathyanarayana was a young boy, Venkamma was the occasion of one miracle with nature:

It was one evening during the Uttara (northern) monsoon. The sky had grown dark and menacing. Raju's sister, Smt. Venkamma was building a house then. There was yet a large kiln of wet bricks waiting to be baked. The logs of wood were readied but the fire could be lit only the next morning for the day was inauspicious. There would be A downpour was imminent reducing all those bricks to a huge mound of clay.

A helpful neighbour told Venkamma to cover the bricks with bundles of dry sugar cane leaves. He suggested a friend of his living on the other side of the Chithravathi who could be persuaded to give these leaves. A long line of men, women and children ran over the sands in desperate hurry. Raju too joined the last in the line of volunteers. But when he got to the middle of the riverbed he suddenly called out for everyone to stop. "Venkamma!" he said. "Vaanaraadu! (The rains will not come). "

Astonishingly, the clouds scattered, the day brightened and the threat was over.

Sathyam had a deep affection for sister, Smt. Venkamma. She was staying with her brothers then at Uravakonda. Often, both Sathyam and Venkamma used to go together to fetch water from the si bhavi (sweet water well) or the bungalow bhavi (bungalow well, since it was next to the traveller's bungalow in Uravakonda)

It was at Venkamma's insistence that Subbamma requested Baba to set up an Ashram on her land. There were days when Baba and Venkamma were the only ones to lead the bhajans.

His other sister, Parvathamma, looked after Baba's food right from the days when Baba set up the Mandir in 1945; at one time, Baba remarked that it was because of Parvathamma, his body was being sustained. She had lost her husband early and Baba had seen her through a series of personal tragedies. Every time Baba brought Parvathamma through tragedy, Parvathamma would plunge herself into zealous service of Baba.

Swami's other brother, there are many photos of him with the young Sathya Sai Baba around Puttaparthi in the early 1940's and there is a record of Swami conducting the marriage of Janakiramiah, and there is also information that Janaki suffered from athsma as a youth, and Swami healed that.  One picture of Swami and Janaki with  Lakshmi (calf) comes to mind. In later times, Janakiramiah was well known for conducting meetings at the ashram gate after morning darshan, ditto Swami saying he was good with dealing with people. Many decisions in Puttaparthi Village were referred to Janakiramiah, and so he performed service to the community and  to Swami in this manner, effectively. I have also seen photographs of Janakiramiah with arathi lamp, inaugurating service projects in and around the region of Puttaparthi.

I often wondered what it must be like to have a Poorna Avatar for a brother. Given the magnificent developments in the small town, once known as Puttavardini, to Puttaparthi, to the first mandir, to the now magnificent Prashanthi Nilayam, to look back on the past to early origins in Pathi Village must have been an awe inspiring experience. And a mystery, this brother of theirs, as well as ishta deva, their personal Guru and God.

I am speculating here, but I imagine that all in Swami's family were sent there by him for reasons of spiritual merit from previous lives, to play many different roles in the divine story this time around. Certainly his father and mother were great devotees, also. Swami, on the demise of his father, told that HE chose his father, and that is only a priviledge granted once in a yuga. A very rare priviledge.

Kinship also extends to our own families also. I wonder about that frequently at times also. I have been reading an older book, Sri Sathya Sai Anandamayi, the recollections of a devotee lady and her daughter, right from early days. Frequently Swami is quoted saying that the spiritual merit one acquires is passed down through the family for 7 generations. When I read that, I reflected back to the faith of both my grandmothers. Very devoted Christians.  I imagine the divine plays all roles in your family, and so the interactions set up the events, the relationships, the environment to provide that perfect journey that lands us at the Feet of the Avatar this time. This time, this body, this is the Divine Will. As with Janakiramiah, so with ourselves.

Sai Ram
Chris.