Sri. Pedda Reddy (81) has been a resident of Prasanthi Nilayam for the last about five decades with the firm conviction that Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai is God. A very ardent devotee of Bhagavan, highly educated, he yet lives a very simple life in the Ashram tending Sai Gita, Bhagavan's pet elephant, taking care of the Planetarium, working in the canteen serving the devotees, etc. A very unassuming and extraordinarily simple person, he is humility and spirituality personified.
Here is an extract of the conversation recorded between the Hyderabad Youth group and Mr. Pedda Reddy in July 2006 relating to his experiences:
'Q: Uncle, tell us how you first came to Swami?
A: I did my M.Tech in Physics (!!!) and came to Parthi for the first time. I saw Swami and was instantly convinced that He is God. I do not know why.
After that, I came to Parthi and started staying here. My parents passed away when I was studying and my siblings were taking care of me. In 1965, I was called for an interview by Swami. He told me in my first interview that I would never get married and that I would stay here for the rest of my life.
Q: What happened then? Did you come here immediately?
A: Yes, I stayed here. I thought that even if I got a watchman's job here, it is worth it when I am doing it for the Lord. Swami gave me job as a teacher.
Q: How did you happen to become the caretaker of Sai Gita then?
A: Swami told me to teach. As I was staying here, He said that 'since you stay close to where Sai Gita is, do take care of her also'. That is how I came to look after Sai Gita. After sometime, the planetarium came up and Swami told me to take care of it. He told me to leave the teaching and take care of planetarium, Sai Gita and the canteen. He gave me a room in East Prasanthi. Sri Kutumba Rao was in charge of the Ashram those days. Swami told him to give me a room.
Q: Tell us about Sai Gita's early days.
A: Sai Gita was very close to Swami those days. Everyday her duty would be to wait outside the Mandir in the morning and she would be ready with a garland. As soon as Swami came out of the interview room, she would garland Him. Swami, too, was extremely affectionate towards her and would keep feeding her with delicious fruits, etc. In fact, Swami used to hold her trunk in His armpit and take her to the interview room. One day, she did not fit in, and that was the last time she went in.
Swami used to grant her interview for more than an hour each day. I wondered what He was speaking to her.
Q: Uncle, did you never feel that you were so qualified and Swami had given you such a menial job?
A: No. I was ready to be a watchman, remember? So, this is better than that. Moreover, how does it matter what job you do. I just decided to stay here. My needs are minimal. My monthly expense is only Rs. 45 (!!!) That too, is only for my soap, brush and paste. Once in a while, when Swami gives clothes, I get them stitched. That's all. Swami gives me free food in the canteen. So, I don't need to spend more.
Q: Uncle, have you never eaten outside the canteen?
A: No. In the last 40 years, I have never eaten anywhere else. I don't go anywhere even when Swami is not here. I have not moved out of Parthi for the last 26 years (!!!) What need do I have? Every need is taken care of by Swami. I am blessed with good health. I am 67 years old now. I have never had any health problem so far.
Q: Uncle, it is quite incredible! You have not moved out of Parthi!! Didn't you ever go to Brindavan either?
A: No. I don't even know how it looks.
Q: Have you never felt neglected? Have you never felt that Swami is not giving you importance?
A: No. The only important person here is Swami. All others are only in the delusion that they are 'important'. You must first understand this.
You will feel neglected only if you have an expectation. If there is no expectation, there is no disappointment.
Q: When was the last time Swami called you for an interview?
A: Swami called me for interview only 4 times. The last time He called me was in 1990(!!!).
Q: Has Swami never spoken to you after that?
A: Yes, He does speak to me whenever I bring Sai Gita to Mandir. I don't even come for Darshan on other days. He enquires about her health. Sometimes, if He comes to Sai Gita's compound, He speaks to me, too. During His 75th birthday celebrations, several Ashram authorities were felicitated. My name had not been in the list originally. But He included my name, and blessed me with clothes and money.
Q: Uncle, are you paid for this job?
A: No. What made you think so?
Q: How do you manage then?
A: I told you, I don't have to spend for food. Apart from that, Swami gives stitching charges with clothes once a year. That suffices. (!!!!!)
Q: What about haircut?
A: I cut my own hair. (!!!!!)
Q: Uncle, this is true ceiling on desires.
A: It is not so difficult. I am not giving up anything actually. I never had anything to give up. I still eat every day. I still bathe every day. What else could I possibly need? But there is one thing I would like to tell you. You should not spend unnecessarily. Spend where it is required, but not unnecessarily.
Q: Uncle, don't you ever feel that there are people who do not practise even half of what you do, and are very close to Swami physically whereas you are so far away doing something, which is not in sync with your educational qualification?
A: I do not even know who are close physically to Swami. That keeps (they keep) changing. This (my attitude) does not change. Why to compare? Whom to compare with? I have never even expected to be spoken to by Swami. So, why should I think of all that? I should do my work and offer it to Swami. Let Him do what He wants to.
Q: You are really great uncle! You have taught us so many valuable lessons of life today.
A: No, no. It is very easy to be like this. You boys are the true heroes. You have your offices, studies, etc. Still, your love for Swami makes you come and work for Him. This is what Swami wants.'