After visiting the ashram bookstore and general store (no purchases), I decided to revisit a site that I always loved and brought me great peace: Baba’s meditation tree (Vata Vriksha).

First, let me describe what I found out about the banyan tree and the history of Baba planting the tree. The Banyan tree (known as Vata Vriksha or enclosure tree, and Bodhi tree) has been described in Indian literature and history, including those under which the Hindu deities Vishnu and Shiva sit in meditation. It is written that the tree symbolizes Sanatana Dharma, the Eternal Wisdom, because its branches reach out in all directions and draw sustenance from every type of faith and spiritual path. The tree is also called Rahupada or “many footed” in Sanskrit, because the roots that its branches send down into the earth strike the ground and seek food within, making the branches independent of the parent trunk, therefore meaning that the tree is immortal.

Sai Baba planted a sapling of a banyan tree at the eastern side of the Prasanthi Nilayam mandir on June 29, 1959 near the ashram museum. Baba created from the sands of the River Chitravathi a yantra (thick copper plate of about fifteen inches by ten inches) on which were drawn mystic symbols and numbers in squares, like those described laying under the Bodhi Tree at Gaya under which Buddha meditated and reached Moksha (enlightenment). Baba described the yantras as keeping away evil forces and stimulating spiritual impulses and concentration of the mind and control of the senses. He said that yogis who have reached a certain stage of spiritual progress would be drawn to it by its mysterious force.

When I walked up the circular tiled walkway to the tree, I started to feel the serenity of this worshipped area of Puttaparthi. There were just a few Western meditators at the tree, and one Indian man cross legged and deep in concentration as he recited a mantra to himself. I sat near the tree on a tiled ledge and closed my eyes. All I can describe, which comes to me now as I write and close my eyes, is that my mind becomes “blank”, in other words, still and expanded; it’s even hard to think when I try. I decided to repeat the Gayatri mantra to myself, which I understand from Maa years ago is Baba’s favorite mantra. I provide this mantra below.

I’m not sure what happens to the brain under Baba’s meditation tree and the yantra underneath it, however the intensity and duration of this “blank state” endures even now. I might call this stilled concentration where thoughts disappear. I invite anyone who have the privilege of coming to Puttaparthi to visit this site – just ask someone for the path to Baba’s meditation tree. I close my eyes and that same state is still within me, behind my eyes. I think I’ll lie down for a few minutes before I have dinner. JAI SAI RAM

ADDENDUM TO LAST ENTRY: It’s the next day and I return to Baba’s meditation tree. Even more powerful today. In the photo you can see a branch on the left side of the tree reaching out to the left – I sat right under that branch. My crown chakra opens wide, that deep stillness and blank state start again, however I’m aware of huge light in my brain. I breathe and move into a deep meditative state and, at the same, time a very high squeaking of a bird starts very fast, sounding like a squeaky toy of an infant, although it seems to be doing pranayama because the squeaking is very fast and consistent. This sound and vibration accompany my meditation. After quite awhile meditating, when I pranam to the sacred banyan tree and leave, as I’m walking down the winding path from the tree to the street, I look up and see what appear to me to be bats … and they are, hundreds of bats in a tree right near Baba’s tree, thus the squeaking I heard. Bats up above me on my left side as I walk, and a gang of monkeys walking past me and swinging from trees on the right. I’m surrounded by nature, and the call of Baba’s sacred meditation tree and the yantra underneath of it.

Gayatri Mantra

By many Hindus, the Gayatri is seen as a divine awakening of the mind and soul, and within it a way to reach the most supreme form of existence, and the way to union with Brahman. Understanding, and purely loving the essence of the Gayatri Mantra is seen by many to be one, if not the most powerful ways to attain God.

om bhūr bhuvah svah

tat savitur varenyam

bhargo devasya dhīmahi

dhiyo yo nah prachodayāt


“May we attain that excellent glory of Savitr the God: So may he stimulate our prayers.”

Word-by-word explanation:-

  • om the sacred sound
  • bhū ‘earth’
  • bhuvas ‘atmosphere’
  • svar ‘light, heaven, space’
  • tat ‘that’
  • savitur of ‘Savitr the God’
  • varenyam ‘Fit to be worshipped’ varenya- ‘desirable, excellent’
  • bhargo ‘Glory Effulgence’ (radiance, lustre, splendour, glory)’
  • devasya ‘of God’
  • dhīmahi ‘may we attain’
  • dhiya na ‘our prayers’
  • ya prachodayāt ‘who may stimulate’

“Almighty Supreme Sun impel us with your divine brilliance so we may attain a noble understanding of reality.”

“O God, Thou art the giver of life, the remover of pain and sorrow, the bestower of happiness; O Creator of the Universe, may we receive Thy supreme, sin destroying light; may Thou guide our intellect in the right direction.”

“Unveil, O Thou who givest sustenance to the Universe, from whom all proceed, to whom all must return, that face of the True Sun now hidden by a vase of golden light, that we may see the truth and do our whole duty on our journey to thy sacred seat.”

“‘We meditate on the glory of that Being who has produced this universe; may He enlighten our minds.’ Om is joined to it at the beginning and the end.”