The Sai Humour series wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Professor N. Kasturi. Kasturi was a wonderful man who was close to Baba for many years and was well into his 90’s when he left this Earth. Kasturi was the editor of the ashram magazine, Sarathana Sarathi, and some-time translator for Swami when he gave discourses; he was also a lecturer in many spiritual topics and I’m going to share with you a few of the great professor’s experiences at the hands of Baba’s sense of humour.
Kasturi once accompanied Baba to Coorge where he was to translate a discourse from Swami’s Telugu dialect into Kannada, which was the regional language. Coorge is an area that has the highest levels of rainfall in Southern India. Baba asked Kasturi to address the crowd of around 10,000 people before he gave his discourse. The good professor, noticing the build-up of rain clouds in the distance, decided to relate a story from The Bhagavad Gita which told how Lord Krishna protected his devotees from torrential rain after Indra, the rain God, retaliated after perceiving that Krishna had insulted him. Kasturi went on to reassure the crowd that Swami had control over the elements and would not allow them to get soaked.
As Baba was giving his discourse the rain clouds got closer and closer and Kasturi was panicking that the crowd would get wet and that it would make both him and Baba look stupid. Throughout the discourse he sent out prayers to Baba apologising for being so presumptuous and pleading with him to stop the rain. All the time the clouds got closer and closer and Kasturi felt more and more awful; not only that, Baba’s discourse went over time which really had poor Kasturi in a panic. Baba eventually finished by addressing the crowd thus. ”This Kasturi, though he gave the story of the rain, does not have faith. All the time he worried in his mind whether I will be able to stop the rain. The rain will come now; it will be here in 15 minutes so all of you get home.”
Years ago Kasturi accompanied Baba on a trip to Benares. He had a desire to receive a mantra from Baba and mentioned this to him. He then went and bathed in the Ganges and fasted for the remainder of the morning in expectation of having his request granted. As the day moved into afternoon the mantra was not forthcoming, and Kasturi was so upset at this that he shed tears. At lunch he found himself seated next to Baba who asked him ”why aren’t you eating”? Holding back the tears Kasturi said ”the mantra”. Baba then asked him ”what is the purpose of a mantra?” ”To get closer to the Lord” Kasturi replied. Baba looked down at the professor’s arm and then at his own; they were almost touching. He then smiled sweetly and in his very down to earth way said to Kasturi ”how much closer do you want to get”?
I will end by sharing with you the very amusing story of one of Baba’s pranks. One evening in 1959 he sent someone to tell Kasturi to report to his room at the mandir. When the professor arrived at Baba’s quarters Baba said that he needed to take a photo of him because the editor of a major Hyderabad daily had been in touch wanting to write an article on Kasturi and the ashram magazine. Baba told Kasturi he had promised this editor a photo of him and that he wanted to take it right away. He also said that he had acquired a very special camera specifically for this purpose so he should go and get himself ready. Kasturi rushed back to his quarters, got showered, shaved and put his best clothes on, he then rushed back over to Baba; arriving back in the presence with a huge grin on his face.
Baba got hold of Kasturi’s shoulders and manoeuvred him into the required position. He then stepped back the appropriate distance and looked through the camera lens. After complementing Kasturi on his photogenic face Baba shouted ”steady” followed immediately by ”ready”. Baba then clicked and Kasturi shrieked and jumped back into the corner of the room as a black blotch with a tail shot out of the camera and bounced off his neck. It turned out to be a trick camera that fired a cotton mouse. Baba burst out laughing (and so did Kasturi, but only to relieve the tension).
As we know, The Avatar does not play these pranks just for the sake of it; there is always a spiritual lesson to be learned. He gently reprimanded Kasturi for allowing his ego to be inflated by the story he’d invented about the newspaper editor; saying that the fact he was editor of the ashram magazine was not the kind of news the world was interested in. Lasting fame is not to be sought through newspapers that turn into waste paper the very next morning, but through service to God. Kasturi remarked some time later that he left the room a much wiser man.