Remembering Professor Kasturi
Sri Kasturi was born on Christmas Day 1897. Swami jokingly called him 'the 97 model'. Naming the year of production was the way antique automobiles were identified. He passed away on 14 August 1987 and was cremated on the banks of Chitravathi on the 15th. He was 90. He had made it easy for us to remember by coming among us on a Christmas Day and leaving us on India's Independence Day anniversary (India attained Independence at midnight on 14-15 August 1947). Kasturi served Swami for 40 years and lived those 40 years in Independent India.
Talking about Kasturi, I told V.K. Narasimhan (Kasturi's deputy editor and later the editor of Sanathana Sarathi) that Kasturi was Swami's Hanuman. VKN corrected me, 'No. No. You are wrong. Kasturi was Swami's Vyasa'. VKN told me that Swami asked him to write a tribute on Kasturi in SS (see below) - a rare expression of Swami's Grace. Apart from Swami rushing to Kasturi's hospital bedside at the time of his last moments and giving him vibhuthi, another rare blessing was Swami getting Kasturi to write his autobiography 'Loving God' and Swami launching it on Christmas Day 1982, in his presence, on his 85th birthday, 5 years before his death . On that occasion, without prior notice, Swami had asked VKN to speak on Kasturi. VKN spoke for 5 minutes, after that Swami had whispered into VKN's ears, 'Very good, very good'. In that day's Christmas discourse Swami said, "Whom does God seek? He looks for a sincere, selfless, steady devotee. Besides, He seeks an ideal son who can be held before mankind as an example and an inspiration. Such persons have become extremely rare nowadays" (SSS vol. XV, ch. 59). I like to think that Swami found that 'rare person' in Kasturi.
'Loving God' is not only Kasturi's life story. It is the story of God and jiva, Guru and sadhaka, the story of Swami making Kasturi an exemplary instrument in His avataric mission, an inspiration to humankind. It is a message for all. That is probably why Swami got Kasturi to write it.
In my monologues with Swami, I thanked Him several times for Kasturi's multi-facetted seva, for Him and for us. Today again, I join GR to think kindly of Kasturi. May he be Well and Happy, at His Feet or wherever he is! Loka(s) Samastha(s) Sukhino Bhavanthu! - May all the beings in all the worlds be happy.
Please see his photo taken by GR and posted in the Files area of Sai Discourses. Swami also took Kasturi's photo once. It is a very funny story and one, as is usual with Swami, with a very profound spiritual message. I leave you to read it in Kasturi's own inimitable language in 'Loving God' and learn/re-learn the message that Swami conveyed to us at Kasturi's expense. Before that see the Appreciation written by late V.K. Narasimhan (Editor) and published in Sanathana Sarathi, September 1987, p. 260.
Unto Sai a Witness
"Death is the denouement of the drama of life," wrote Prof. Kasturi in 1981. That denouement came to him on August 14 at noon, a few minutes after Bhagavan Baba saw him in the Sathya Sai Hospital at Prasanthi Nilayam. He was 90.
Bhagavan Baba, who was overseeing a students' rehearsal in the College Auditorium, abruptly stopped it at 11.30 a.m. and went straight to the Hospital. Reaching the bedside of Prof. Kasturi, Swami called him: "Kasturi!". Prof. Kasturi opened his eyes for a moment and looked at the Lord. Bhagavan materialized vibhuti and placed it in Kasturi's mouth. Kasturi closed his eyes and a serene peace enveloped him. Swami told those at the bedside to do Namasmarana. An hour later his spirit merged in the Lotus Feet of the Lord. Streams of devotees paid their last respects to him at the hospital.
The next morning his mortal remains were cremated on the bed of the Chitravathi river.
For over forty years he rendered devoted service to Bhagavan as writer, editor, companion and tireless propagator of Swami's life and message. Millions of devotees all over the world got acquainted with Bhagavan's life and teachings through the four volumes of "Sathyam Sivam Sundaram" (on the life of Bhagavan) and the 11 volumes of "Sathya Sai Speaks", besides the Vahini series.
Prof. Kasturi was a witness to the innumerable miracles of Swami and he could bear authentic testimony to the glory and magnificence of the Avatar as few others could. He had traveled with Bhagavan all over India. Vivid accounts of his intimate experiences with Swami are given in his autobiography, "Loving God," which was released by Swami on Christmas day in 1982.
Kasturi continued to work right upto his last illness, giving of his best to "Sanathana Sarathi," which Swami launched in 1957 with Kasturi as Editor.
After 1982 Kasturi brought out two books, one on the Lord's mother "Easwaramma," and the other on the essence of Swami's message in a book entitled "Prasanthi".
It could be truly said of Kasturi: "Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven". - Editor.
August 14 to be understood as August 14, 1987.
Collection of photo's
gathered by N. Kasturi