DR. NAROTTAM MAHARAJ ALREJA HAD THE GREATEST GOOD FORTUNE OF BEING THE ‘PERSONAL PHYSICIAN’ OF THE AVATAR OF THE AGE–SRI SATHYA SAI BABA. Before joining the Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital, Prasanthi Nilayam, as its Superintendent in 1975, he had worked as the Superintendent in the well-known J.J. Hospital in Mumbai.

One afternoon, at about 1:30 pm, he was suddenly summoned to Swami’s residence. Wondering what the issue might be, he gathered his medical bag and rushed to His presence. Swami welcomed him with a smile and said that He felt a bit uneasy. The one who is always divinely and supremely easy sports uneasiness only to convey a message and grant an experience. That would be the doctor’s discovery that day.

“Check my blood pressure,” Swami told Dr. Alreja, who immediately readied his sphygmomanometer (blood pressure machine) to take the readings, placing the cuff on Swami’s right arm. The blood pressure was 80/56, and the pulse rate was 48 per minute. The measurements were too low, and the doctor was at a loss about what to say, but he also knew that he was face to face with God.

Is there anything serious, Alreja?” Swami enquired.

“Swami! What can ever be serious with Swami?” He replied.

But the expression on your face changed when you took the readings...

“May I take the blood pressure readings from the other arm?” requested the doctor.

Do whatever you need to make your diagnosis.”

Dr. Alreja with Swami, 2009

The Differential Diagnosis

Dr. Alreja removed the cuff from Swami’s right arm and slid it over His left arm. The blood pressure readings were 120/80, with a pulse rate of 72 per minute, which was perfectly normal, and the doctor was visibly happy.

“Now, what is your diagnosis?” Swami asked.

Alreja was a devotee first and a doctor next. He prostrated at Swami’s feet and gave his diagnosis. “Swami, You had a heart attack from a blocked artery. You proclaim that You are Shiva-Shakti Swaroopa. Shiva on the right side had taken over a heart attack of a Shiva Bhakta (devotee of Lord Shiva). In contrast, Shakti on the left side was unaffected. I am grateful you gave me direct medical proof that you are Shiva-Shakti.”

At that moment, Swami partially parted the robe on His chest.

See, on the right chest and arm, there is hair. On the left side of My chest and arm, there is no hair.” The doctor was thus blessed with another beautiful revelation and experience.

The Differing Feet

Swami granted a similar experience to Prof. Anil Kumar Kamaraju. He entered the interview room and found Swami seated on His chair in the north-western corner of the room. The professor rushed and seated himself at His feet. Even as Swami began to converse, the professor placed his hands on His feet and started enjoying the bliss of Padasevanam (massaging the feet of one’s Guru). A few minutes later, he realized that there were some heavy anklet pressure markings on the left ankle. Surprisingly, these pressure impressions were absent on the right ankle. Unable to contain his curiosity, he interrupted the conversation and asked,

“Swami, what are these marks on your left ankle?”

He immediately realized that the curtains had been partially parted for him to witness the manifestation of Shiva-Shakti. Even as that realization dawned, Swami confirmed it, saying, “This is the Shiva-Shakti Swaroopa.”

Indications From His Childhood

The earliest recorded instance of Swami revealing His Shiva-Shakti aspect was when, as a child, He would apply both vibhuti and kumkum (vermilion) on His forehead. Unable to grasp the import of this, His ‘parents’ and ‘friends’ watched in wonder, unaware that they were witnessing a divine revelation. Nobody probably comprehended this aspect of the Avatar until the magnificent miracle and declaration during the Guru Poornima of 1963. Swami cured a paralytic stroke to the left half of His body just by sprinkling a few drops of water. Then, to the astonishment of everyone, He stood up to deliver a divine discourse, revealing that He was indeed Shiva-Shakti Swaroopa. (The historical discourse is found in this earlier issue of Sathya Sai–The Eternal Companion)

The name ‘Sai’ itself means Shiva-Shakthi. Etymologically, the first syllable Sa(h), signifies the supreme divinity (Ishwara) or Shiva. The second syllable, Ayee, signifies Shakti, Amba, or the universal divine mother. Putting the two together, the euphonic combination becomes Saayee. The great Vedic scholar and seer of the holy mantra Sri Sathya Sai Gayatri, the late Ghandikota Subramanya Shastri, expressed it beautifully:

Shivah Sah Ithi Anena Ukthah

Ayee Ithi Ambaa Prakeerthithaa

Thath Samyogah Shivas-Saambah

Saayee Ithi Prathipaadhyathe

Many say ‘Sa’ means Shiva.

‘Aai’ is the Divine Mother.

The holy union of Shiva and the Divine Mother is Sai.

There is also a beautiful instance where Swami reminded the great Sanskrit scholar of this Truth.

This is My True Form - photo

True Form of Sathya Sai

On Shankara Jayanthi day (the birth anniversary of the Indian Guru, philosopher, and Adwaitin, Sri Adi Shankaracharya), Swami asked Sri Ghandikota Subramanya Shastri to address a large gathering of devotees in the magnificent Poornachandra Auditorium. Being a Pandit of Vedic learning and practice, he passionately spoke at length on Swami’s divine qualities and powers, comparing Him with several deities–Gayatri, Dattatreya, Vishnu, etc. Inadvertently he forgot to mention the Shiva aspect of Baba, although Shiva happened to be his Ishta Devata or chosen form of divinity. Later, through the rest of the day, he regretted this inadvertent omission.

The next morning, after the regular bhajan was over, Swami blessed the scholar and his son with a memorable interview. The discussion centered around the triple paths of Karma, Bhakti, and Jnana (Work, Worship, and Wisdom) and the trinity: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. In the end, Swami led them into the Bhajan Hall and showed them around the new decorations in the Bhajan Mandir. Stopping in front of the Shirdi Baba painting, He waved His right palm and lovingly materialized an unusual color picture proclaiming, “Idi naa nija svaroopam” (This is My True Form)–showing that Shirdi Sai, Sathya Sai, and Shiva are one. The Vedic scholar was ecstatic at this revelation.

If the Sanskrit word Esa (short for Easwara or Shiva) is pronounced in reverse, it becomes Sayee or Sai. Thus, Swami’s name and its inner meaning reveal His true nature as Shiva-Shakti.






About the Author:

Mr. Aravind Balasubramanya comes from a family that has been devoted to Swami for nearly half a century. Aravind graduated from the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School and completed his Bachelor of Science from the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (SSSIHL), receiving a gold medal. He also holds an M.S. (Chemistry) and an MBA from the SSSIHL.
He worked for Radio Sai from 2007 to 2021. Aravind has authored four books about his experiences with Swami. He was Swami’s photographer for nearly five years. Aravind has dedicated his life to serving Swami and sharing His teachings with one and all through various media channels.





First published in Eternal Companion Vol. 2, Iss. 2