[Editor's note. This discourse is important for two important reasons. First, Swami illustrated His powers by curing himself, in a few seconds and before thousands of people, of a severe stroke that He had had for eight days and explaining why this event had to take place. Second, for the first time, Swami mentioned Prema Sai, His next incarnation.]
This is not Swami's illness; this is an illness that Swami has taken on in order to save someone. Swami has no illnesses, nor will He get ill at any time. You must all be happy; that alone will make Swami happy. If you grieve, Swami will not be happy. Your joy is Swami's food.
(Then, Baba signaled to Kasturi to speak. After his short speech was over, Baba wanted the mike to be held before Him. He asked through it "Vinapisthundaa!". But, though He asked again and again, the voice was so indistinct that no one could make out what it meant.
He then signaled for water. When it was brought, He sprinkled a little with His shaking right hand on the stricken left hand and on His left leg. He stroked His left hand with the right. Immediately, He used both hands to stroke His left leg, and that touch was enough to cure it. He cured the disease in a trice! He started to speak! It was the same musical voice.)
For those who have no refuge, God is the refuge (Dikku lenivaniki devude gathi). That is exactly the reason I had to take on the disease that one helpless devotee was to get. He had to suffer this dire illness, as well as the four heart attacks that accompanied it, and he would not have survived it. So, according to My duty (dharma) to protect devotees (bakthasamrakshana), I had to rescue him. Of course, this is not the first time that I have taken on the illness of persons whom I wanted to save. Even in the previous Sariram at Shirdi, I had this responsibility. The suffering that you saw was too much for this particular devotee, so I had to save him by going through it Myself. This is My play (leela), My nature. It is part of the task for which I have come, protection of disciples (sishyarakshana).
People who were near Me during the last week were asking Me to give them the name of the person whom I had saved. I told them that it would make them angry at that person, because Swami, they would say, "had to undergo much pain in order to save that one person." Then, they replied that they would honour the person because of the extraordinary devotion that persuaded Swami to run to his rescue that Saturday morning.
Some people even asked Me whether it was this person or that, giving names of those who had attacks of paralysis, especially on the left side! This is even more ludicrous, because when I save a person I save him completely. I do not wait until he gets the disease, and I do not leave him a fraction of a disease so that he may be identified later. It all looks funny to Me, the guesses and surmises that you make.
Even in Shirdi, Dada Saheb, Nadaram, Balawanth, all were saved by these means. Balawanth was destined to get plague, but the bubo was taken over and the boy saved.
This is perhaps the longest period when I kept the devotees wondering and worried. That was because of the heart attacks, which had to come later on the devotee, from which also he had to be saved. Then, there is another reason why the 8-day period had to be observed. I shall tell you why. This means I must tell you about Myself, about something I haven't disclosed so far, something that I was keeping within Myself for the last 37 years. The time has come to announce it. This is a sacred day, and I shall tell you.
You know I declared on the very day when I decided to disclose My Identity, My mission, and My Advent that I belonged to the Apasthamba Suthra and the Bharadwaja lineage (gothra). This Bharadwaja was a great sage, who studied the Vedas for a full one hundred years; but, finding that the Vedas were endless (anantha), he did penance (thapas) for prolonging life, and from Indra he got two extensions of a century each. Even then, the Vedas could not be completed, so he asked Indra again for another hundred years. Indra showed him 3 huge mountain ranges and said, "What, you have learned in 3 centuries form only 3 handfuls from out of the 3 ranges that make up the Vedas. So give up the attempt to exhaust the Vedas. Perform a ritual (yaga) instead, which I shall teach you; that will give you the fruit of Vedic study, full and complete."
Bharadwaja decided to perform the ritual; Indra taught him how to do it; all preparations were completed. The sage wanted Shakthi to preside over and bless the ritual. So he went to Kailasa, but the time was not opportune for presenting his petition. Shiva and Shakthi were engaged in a competitive dance, trying to find out who could dance longer. Eight days passed thus, before Shakthi noticed Bharadwaja standing in the cold. She just cast a smile at him and danced along as before! The sage mistook the smile as a cynical refusal to notice him, so he turned his back on Kailasa and started to descend. To his dismay, he found his left leg, hand, and eye put out of action by a stroke. Shiva saw him fall, came up to him, and consoled him. Bharadwaja was told that Shakthi had indeed blessed him and his ritual. Then, Shiva revived him and cured him, sprinkling water from the Kamandalu. Both Shiva and Shakthi granted the sage (rishi) boons: they would both attend the ritual, they said.
After the ritual was over, they were so pleased that they conferred even more boons on the sage. Shiva said that they would take human form and be born in the Bharadwaja lineage, thrice: Shiva alone as Shirdi Sai Baba, Shiva and Shakthi together at Puttaparthi as Sathya Sai Baba, and Shakthi alone as Prema Sai, later. Then, Shiva remembered the illness that had suddenly come upon Bharadwaja at Kailasa on the eighth day of waiting in the cold on the ice. He gave another assurance. "As expiation for the neglect that Shakthi showed you at Kailasa for 8 days, this Shakthi will suffer the stroke for 8 days when we both take birth as Sathya Sai and, on the eighth day, I shall relieve her from all signs of the disease by sprinkling water, just as I did at Kailasa to cure your illness."
It was the working out of this assurance that you witnessed today, just now. This had to happen, this stroke and the cure. The assurance given in the Thretha era had to be honoured. I may tell you now that the poor, forlorn devotee who had to suffer the stroke that I took over was a convenient excuse, which was utilised. You see, a railway engine is not made available to haul just one car; when a number of cars are ready, then the engine is put into action. So too, the disease had to be gone through, the devotee had to be saved, the assurance had to be carried out, the mystery had to be cleared, the Divinity had to be more clearly announced by the manifestation of this grand miracle. All these were accomplished by this one incident.
Let Me tell you one more thing: Nothing can impede or halt the work of the Avatar. When I was upstairs all these days, some people were foolishly saying, "It is all over with Sai Baba," and they turned back many who were coming to Puttaparthi! Some said I was in samadhi, as if I were a spiritual aspirant (sadhaka)! Some feared I was the victim of black magic, as if anything can affect Me! The splendour of this Avatar will go on increasing, day by day. Formerly, when the Govardhanagiri (a mountain) was raised aloft by the little boy Krishna, the cowherd maids and boys (gopis and gopalas) realised that Krishna was the Lord. Now, not one Govardhanagiri but a whole range will be lifted, you will see! Have patience, have faith. Tomorrow morning, I shall give every one of you the Namaskaram blessing that you missed today.