Sri Gopala Baba used to visit Prashanthi Nilayam at Puttaparthi at the age of 15. He eagerly waited with his father Sri Venkataramana Urala for Bhagawan’s darshan. While the crowds were increasing by the day, it was still less compared to what we saw in the later years. Bhagawan walked slowly towards his devotees and after sometime stood in front of young Gopala and gazed at him for a minute or so uninterrupted. In Sri Gopala Baba’s words – The Chitta-akarshana was done (attraction of feelings).
Sri Gopala Baba developed immense attraction for Bhagawan Baba. In the next visit to Puttaparthi, Bhagawan walked straight to Gopala Baba and asked, I am here, what will you do there? – Sri Gopala Baba had the answer to the question he had in mind. The Sanyasa Deeksha date at the Ramakrishna Mission had been fixed, but after this particular visit to Puttaparthi, the Deeksha was called off. Sri Prabhuddananda of Sri Ramakrishna Mission was very happy that young Gopala had found his Guru in Bhagawan Sathya Sai Baba and said young Gopala will always remain his Prabhudananda Saraswathi!!
Sri Gopala Baba started devoting all his time to spiritual practices, pooja and bhajans of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The spiritual practices were too intense at times with Ganapathi and Sri Rajarajeshwari Pooja going on for 6 hours at a stretch, but Gopala Baba used to be in total bliss. There were many challenges and obstacles in the path which was removed by the grace of Bhagawan and blessings that was showered during numerous interviews and one on one conversations with Bhagawan.
Bhagawan encouraged the Sadhaka in Sri Gopala Baba and gave a Vibhuthi box which was always overflowing with Vibhuthi and never got empty in Gopala Baba’s lifetime. In Puttaparthi, during Darshan, Bhagawan would always come to where Gopala Baba was seated and ensured that he subtly brushed his leg against him on the pretext of talking to other devotees. At the end of this divine interaction which was devoid of words, Sri Gopala Baba used to take Padanamaskara by just touching Bhagawan with a single finger and touching his eye and mouth. Divine interactions happen in subtle ways unnoticed by the ordinary eyes.
As the intensity of Sadhana increased, a separate house was built by the family for Sri Gopala Baba at Girinagar. This is when the parents had aged and Sri Gopala Baba could not go and stay in Puttaparthi for extended durations. In 1991, Sri Gopala Baba could not visit Puttaparthi for Bhagawan’s Birthday as the crowds would be heavy and he had to take care of his parents at home. He prayed to Bhagawan that he would celebrate Bhagawan’s birthday at home and that Bhagawan should come and receive his Pooja. Sri Gopala Baba and his parents did all the arrangements for the function including food for all the devotees.
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, appeared in front of Sri Gopala Baba on 23rd Nov 1991 and handed over Sri Chandramouleeswara Linga, while Gopala Baba was singing bhajans before food offering. Bhagawan instructed Sri Gopala Baba to perform Rudrabhishekam to the Linga and provide the Teertha to his devotees. Sri Gopala Baba was overwhelmed with the compassion Bhagawan had for him and was in bliss for many days after this event. He could hardly hold anything in his hand for the next three days, but was in immense joy. The entire gathering of devotees experienced the divinity and the bhajans and pooja went on with great devotion and bliss.
Sri Chandramouleeswara Linga had a glow to it and had a crescent moon and a full moon in it. It had a bindhu, a dot, which would glow red when milk was poured during Abhishekam. After 1991, whenever Sri Gopala Baba used to visit Puttaparthi, Bhagawan used to ask him, why did he come all the way when Bhagawan was always with Gopala Baba and laugh.
Bhagawan Sathya Sai ensured that the whole world knew about Sri Chandramouleeswara Linga by getting Prof. Sri Anil Kumar announce it in a speech at Prashanthi Nilayam and also got it published in Sanathana Sarathi, the official news letter from Prashanthi Nilayam. The details in the speech could only have come from Bhagawan and the Bhaktha Sri Gopala Baba.
The copy of Sanathana Sarathi Kannada edition of July 1992 and its English translation is provided alongside for reference.
By this time Sri Gopala Baba had coined his Divine Mantra " Om Sri Sai Chandramouleeswara Pahimam Rakshamam " . He has told his devotees to chant this mantra whenever they are in a difficult situation. This is his Guru Mantra. Praise be to Sri Gopala Baba.