SAI DEVOTEE WHO MADE THE TEMPLE
Many good souls are serving Baba without expectation of recognition or reward.
Smt Jill Yogini and Craig Sastry are spiritually evolved souls.
They both received bachelor’s degrees from Maharishi University of Management in 1981. On May 1, they will have been married for 31 years. In 1991, 1992, Pittsburgh Sai Temple was advertising yagnas in Hinduism Today, published in Kauai, Hawaii.
Craig and Jill had a deep interest in the yagnas and Vedic Science as a means to help themselves and others.
In 1997, Mahalakshmi and I visited the island of Maui in Hawaii and stayed with Craig and Jill. They had built a homa kunda in their backyard and Mahalakshmi and I conducted many yagnas for them and their friends. As they were business people, we conducted Ganapati Mahalakshmi homa for them, and their business quickly grew from about 20 employees to 300 employees. We conducted rain yagna for the island which was undergoing severe drought. Within about a week, rains started – the heaviest in twenty years!
In July, 1997, the Shirdi Sai Baba Yagna at our Pittsburgh temple was consecrated. Craig and Jill came from Hawaii for the event. One of my sons and Craig flew over the Temple in an airplane and dropped flowers on the Temple grounds in the midst of sankha, bell sounds, nadswaram, etc. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, who had been invited, came in astroplane and blessed all of us. After a few days, one devotee from London, grandson of Kaka Dixit (original devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba) came and gave a wonderful discourse.
In July, 2000, Jill and Craig flew to India, there first visit since 1981. We rented a van and celebrated Guru Poornima in Puttaparthy in the divine presence of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. On July 20, 2000, we performed together a Sri Sai Vishnu Koti Tulasi Yagnam for PEACE IN KASHMIR at Sankara Matam, Nallakunta, in Hyderbad. More than 1000 devotees participated in chanting the Vishnu Sahasranama together 11 times from 8 am to 8 pm that day. The result was that many terrorists in Kashmir surrendered their weapons in Kashmir the next day. Soon after, Jill flew back to the U.S. to resume her duties at work. Craig expressed a strong desire to go to the Himalayas. The reports were of heavy rains and landslides, so I advised him not to go at that time. He said he would go with or without me, as he had a strong desire and did not know when the opportunity would come again. So I agreed. Ten of my relatives and friends took a train to Delhi, where we rented two cars to travel into the Himalayas. Craig went ahead by airplane with my brother-in-law Visweswarao, as I advised him he should see the Taj Mahal when travelling through Delhi. They got to see Taj Mahal and also visited Mithura and saw the Krishna temple there. The next day we all met at Craig’s hotel in Delhi, refreshed ourselves, and rented autos for the trip to Rishikesh. As on all great spiritual journeys, we encountered difficulties. In Haridwar, we were stuck for some hours due to some large religious yatra – we couldn’t cross the Ganges to get to Rishikesh. Finally, we arrived in Rishikesh and procured a sattwic hotel related to Swami Sivananda’s ashram. The next morning we were able to go for a dip in the Ganges, which everyone enjoyed very much. From there we drove onto Jyotir Math, winter home of the Sankaracharya. Craig had a strong desire to see Shankaracharya’s ashram. Very late at night, after 11 pm, we procured beds for the ladies and gents at the ashram. Exhausted, I, Craig, and my cousin all fell into a fast sleep about midnight in a huge bed provided by the Shankaracharya’s ashram. For some reason, my cousin decided it was a good idea to wake us up at 4:00 am. This was a little premature, as we could not get a travel permit to proceed further (so near the Chinese border) until 10 am. Nevertheless, the mountain air and beauty of Jyotir Math was exhilarating. From Jyotir Math, it was not far to Badrinath, our destination. This is a Vishnu temple, and is believed that not far from here, the brothers Nara and Narayana (later reborn as Arjuna and Lord Krishna) did austerity (tapas) for thousands of years. It’s average elevation is 11,204 feet, so it is very high up. In a few hours, we were close to Badrinath, but encountered a landslide blocking the road. What to do? We were advised that we could walk around the landslide and find transportation to Badrinath on the other side. Most of the men walked, but some of the ladies were carried on “backpacks” by some strong mountain men. (No one chose donkeys, the other option). It was quite a sight to see! On the other side of the landslide was a bus of tourists from Nepal, who said they had been stuck there for three days, until the landslide cleared. After an hour or so, we found a small jeep that would take us to Badrinath for an exorbitant amount of money. Having no other alternatives, all 11 of us piled into the jeep, a miraculous accomplishment! From there it was a very beautiful ride to Badrinath. I suffered from some altitude sickness. We rented a cottage over night, and then proceeded the next to Kedarnath, Shiva’s shrine. We had a very wet journey up the hills to Kedarnath on donkeys, but managed to survive. We stayed there overnight. Craig left the same day we reached Badrinath to return to his work in the U.S.
After the terrorist attacks on New York City on September 11, 2002, Craig expressed a strong desire to travel together to India to perform world peace yagnas. In December 2001 myself and Craig went to India directly to Prasnathinilayam from Chennai and had darshan and blessings. For many years I was trying to start the Veda patasala in India- Shirdi, Puttaparthy, Hyderabad, Rajahmundry etc. but the efforts were futile. On this trip to India, I wished to render a Ganesha Yagna in S. Thimmapuram village where my maternal grand father’s village was. It was also my birthplace. He had some property there and all the arrangements were made.
Man proposes and God disposes. Baba came in a dream just few days before departure to India and uttered Ganganapally 3 times. I misconstured it was Gangalakurru, a village famous for Veda Pundits in East Godavari. But Baba finally directed that it is the village in Kakinada suburb where a 5 acre mango grove was for sale. Craig and I and Sri Ramamurthygaru (my cousin) reached Kakinada on 25th December 2001 and were able to see the site the mango grove site before sunset. We negotiated a price with the owner, who allowed us to perform a Ganapati yagna on the site from December 29, 2000 until January 4, 2001. A week or two later, we performed an 11 day Rudra Yagnam at the site with about forty pundits and student pundits, for world peace.
Craig departed back to his work in the U.S.A. in early February, 2002, while I stayed on to supervise construction of the Veda Patasala In August 2002 the school building was completed. On August 23rd the inaguaration ceremony and laksha vattula vratam (100,00 ghee lamps a special for ladies to atone the sins) ceremony by Mahalakshmi were rendered. Jill and Craig came and particiapted in the ceremony. In 2002 December we went to Shirdi and Sani Signapur and rendered Yagnas in both the places. In 2003 we want to conduct the world peace yagnas in Kakinada. Before that we went to Puttaparthy for darshan of Baba- in November 23rd Baba’s birth day celebration.
By Divine Will and command the Peace Yagna was rendered in Dharmasala in Puttaparthy from January 1st to 18th opposite to the Sri Sathya Sai Baba airport. Massive arrangements were made for the construction of Yagna Saala. All labor and paraphanelia came from Kakinada and I spent more than a month for making arrangements while Craig and Jill travelled around India. We stayed in Sai Sadan -Meda’s guest house in Puttaparthy. Thousands of Maredu (Bilva), Velaga (Wod apples) , tons of ghee , fire wood etc used in that great Yagna. This yagna was rendered with more than 100 pundits and students and local pundits. 60,000 meals were served to the hungry in addition to daily prasdam to pundits etc.
This area of A.P. had suffered from drought for 10 years. Sathya Sai Baba gave a divine command to the devotees to go and participate in the yagnam from Prasanthinilayam when some devotees mentioned that someone was rendering the yagnam near town. Baba told them that He Himself was rendering the Yagnam. As usual we went to Prasanthinilayam with Nagara Sankeertanam (parade) with the entire troop of pundits, student pundits from Kakianda, local devotees along with cow and calf, kumbha (water pot-kalasam), Nada swara, band etc. We had darshan of baba and blessings for the Yagna on 31st December 2003. This is a great miracle. The first 7 days were for the Putra Kaama Isti (for progeny and to descend good souls on earth). On the 7th day rain came. Pundits came from all over Andhra Pradesh, Manthena, Dharmapuri in kareemnagar district, from Anantapur , Kurnool etc, Srikakulam, East and West Godavari , Krishna , Guntur ,Visakhapatnam districts. Some parents of the student pundits also came participated. The yagna cost $57,000 dollar and was sponsored by the Edwards’ and the Pittsburgh Temple.
Sri R.Janakiramayya kalyana mantapam was inagurated by Bhagavan Baba on 15th January-2004 Makara Sankrati and we were invited and fortunate to be close proximity to God incarnate and indeed it was the inaguration of Veda Patasala in Puttaparthy. The Patasla ran there till the present patasala was ready.
On 19th all were left including the cow etc sent to Kakanada by truck. I got a Divine command to go to Naimisharanya. Jill left to USA. Craig and Pandu left to Delhi-Lucknow by plane on 23rd and arrived Naimisaranya . We spent the night in a Government Travellers Bungalow on that night. It was very cold. There is a Sri Venkateswara Temple built by some devotees from Andhra Pradesh there. We spent 2 day there.. All the 88,000 Maharshees (who render yagnas and yagas perpetually for the welfare of all beings) gave darshan on the 24th. Pandu wondered how the material supplies of ghee etc came since we had hard time to do yagna with so many pundits for 18 days. The Divine revealed that the Gomati river which is close to that place used to flow with milk and supplied ghee, milk etc for the entire 88,00 Maharshees eternally. On 25th night we were blessed again. We also saw the Dadheechi penance place, Vyas gadde (where Vyas used to recite the Vedas and compiled). The temple management helped us a lot and we rendered a homa there. On 26th we left Naimisharanaya forest and reached Delhi by flight from Lucknow. Craig left to USA from Delhi. Pandu returned to Puttaparthy. By Divine Will the property opposite to Dharmasala about 2.25 acres was purchased and a Super Speciality Veda Pata Sala was built with in one year from January 29th-2004. The school was inaguarated on february 5th-2005 and running very well . Jill and Craig whole heartedly supported all these yagnas and schools.
Pandu and Mahalakshmi went to Hawaii to build the Shirdi Sai Baba Temple (Pandu preferred in Kauai). Craig made an earnest effort to build in Maui, Kauai and finally in Big Island . He bought 108 acres on the Big Island . We rendered small yagnas in these places.
The next major peace yagna was in 2006 February 2nd to 19th (18 days, with about 150 pundits, student pundits more than 108. The first 7 days Putra Kama isti (for progeny),
Sri Raghu and Pallavi (my son and daughter in law). Craig and Jill and many devotees and scholars participated. Both 2004 and 2006 yagnas many couples had kids after yagna who were suffering for lack of children. Saint Panduranga also had a grandson on December 29-2006. At the 7th day Garuda (eagles) came to yagna kunda and blessed. Many thousands of dollars were spent for the yagna and Annadanam (feed the hungry). The goals of the Yagnas are -World Peace, Anti terrorism, rains, prosperity, to invent Solar energy and reduce oil dependency, . The bottom line is transformation of souls from bad to good and spiritualit, or the cleansing of the souls in all levels of consciousness.
In 2006 we rendered 27 day Nakshatra Yagnam in Pittsburgh in August and it was a wonderful one. Craig and Jill came from Hawaii. This was the turning point for Craig. He sold the properties and moved to Austin. He bought some property close to Bharsanna Dham. There also we rendered some homam but the site was too far from most of the Indian community to build a temple there.
By Divine command the Veda paatasala in Katra at the foot hills of Vaishnavi Devi in Jammu Kashmir was inagurated on January 15th-2007. Currently 18 students, pundit and cook etc running the Veda paatasla by Divine Grace of Sai Baba.
In 2007 we rendered again a 27 day nakshtra yagnam was rendered in Puttaparthy from July to August. Jill and Craig came and particiapted. Again in 2008 March an Ati Rudra yagnam was rendered in Kakinada.
By Divine command Veda paatasla started in Gangtok (Sikkim) near the border with Tibet in 2008 and we had problems in getting students. But now it is well established running with 12 students and Pundit.
An Ati Rudra yagnam (ARMY) was rendered in march 2008 in Kakianda Veda patasala. In this yagnam Jill and Craig did not able to participate but supported. Sri Sankaranarayana and Srimati Rajyalakshmi from Houston particpated and was very enjoyble with many devotees and well wishers .
In 2009 February world Peace yagnas were rendered in Kakinada Veda Paatasala . Jill and Craig came from USA and were exhausted after yagnas.
There were no rains in India in 2009 till August and many deers and animals died due to lack of drinking.water. By Divine command and Grace Sai Sahasra Kalasa (1296 water pots) Varuna Parjanya yagna was rendered from August 10 to 12th in Puttaparthy. Indeed Sai Baba came in astro plane and sat in a chair close to me all the time even though we have not enough energy and staff and pundits. Jill, Craig, Sankaranarayana, Rajyalakshmi, Pallavi, Sai Pranav particpated in the Yagna. Baba with His infinite mercy released the rain on 12th in Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad and finally 16th in Puttaparthy.
The Divine Baba always responded to our prayers and inspired us to do good work in spite of thousands of problems in each yagna and in establishing each Veda Paatasala, caused by negative forces. Again by Divine will of Baba Veda Paatasla started in Srinagar (Kashmir) where this was needed more than anywhere on 23rd November 2009.
In 2010 a world Peace yagna for reduction of global warming was rendered in Kakinada Veda Paatasaala from January 22nd to 28th. Pallavi and Raghu came from Pittsburgh. Jill and Craig were extremely busy in completing the Sri Shirdi Sai Baba Temple in Austin and were present in spirit.,
March 19, 20 and 21st 2010 the grand celebration and Kumbha Abhisekam was rendered for the Sri Shirdi Sai Baba Temple of Austin. It is a unique-one it was build with great faith on Sai Baba and Vedas by an American couple, rare opportunity Kumbha Abhisekam and consecration of idol. I came from Puttaparthy on 11th of March to Houston. Relaxed there till 18th and reached Austin along with Sri Sankaranarayana couple. Pallavi and Raghu(son and daughter in law of Pandu), Annapoorna Naresh (daughter and son in law of Pandu) joined in the ceremony and rendered with great faith and devotion in spite of a spate of problems of unusual cold weather, and that the idol was not released from customs till 19th.
CONCLUSION: THERE ARE MANY SOULS UNRECOGNIZED AND IN SPITE OF NO GRATITUDE ,THEY WILL RENDER THE SERVICE WITH NISHKAMA KARMA (WITHOUT ANXIETY FOR THE FRUIT OF ACTION). IN DEED JILL AND CRAIG ARE ONE OF SUCH SOULS AND WE ALL HAVE TO THANK GOD AND PRAY FOR THEIR LONG LIFE, PEACE AND BLISS (IN DEED I GOT JOYFUL TEARS IN CONCLUDING THIS PARAGRAPH). GOD IS MERCIFUL TO DESCEND THIS COUPLE ON EARTH. BOW TO SAI PEACE TO ALL, PEACE SERENITY TRANQUILITY TO BHAGAVAN SRI SATHYA SAI BABA
YOGINI MAHALAKSHMI, and SAINT PANDURANGA RAO MALYALA