The Archakas of Tirupati have the habit of looking at the feet of Balaji Bhagwan and taking Padanamaskar before Suprabhatam (where God is woken up). They open their eyes only after this procedure.
One of the senior most archakas suddenly had a feeling one day that even after having served the Lord for 40 years, he was not fortunate enough to have his darshan. He prayed emotionally that if he had been sincere in his duty towards the lord, then the Lord must some day grant His darshan.
The next day, as usual when the archakas went into the sanctum sanctorum for padanamaskar, the senior most archaka went in first. As he reached for the feet of the idol, his hands could feel the moist feet of a human body. As he reached for the feet again and again, the same thing happened. He called out to the other Archakas and told them his experience. The other archakas too experienced the same warmth. For a moment the archakas got agitated and felt that some miscreant would be standing there but who could be so insolent to stand on the lord’s idol and that too when the sanctorum was thoroughly checked before being locked. Who could it be? Was it an illusion?.. Just that moment the archaka remembered the prayer that came out of him the day before. A thought flashed through his mind…..Was it the Lord himself?
He hurriedly removed the covering and opened his eyes. What he saw shocked him. He gave out a shriek, hearing which the other archakas also removed their coverings and opened their eyes. A sense of disbelief went through them on what they saw. The idol was gone and Sri Satya Sai Baba was standing in its place. Baba was standing in Chatur Bhuja form (with four arms). Baba was smiling. He looked at the senior most archaka and said–”You wanted to see me. I am here. What do you want?” The archaka was stunned and asked –”When did I ask to see you? In fact, I asked for darshan of my Lord Sri Balaji.” Baba replied –”I am your Lord Sri Balaji.” Taken aback by this reply the archakas asked again–”How can you be Lord Balaji? You have always said You are Shiva-Shakti Swarupa. How then can you say you are Vaikunthathi-pathi Balaji?” Baba softly replied–”All are one, my dear children. God is one. He manifests in different forms and man worships the form to which he is most attached. All faiths are paths leading to the same goal. Why then do you see the difference?” Baba spoke again–”I have come not to disturb any faith but to confirm everyone in his own faith. I respond to everyone with whatever name you call me. You wanted to see the Lord in form of Balaji and so here I am to fulfill your wish.” So saying Bhagwan Sri Satya Sai Baba dissappeared and the idol of Bhagwan Balaji was back in its place. Silence prevailed for some time. Later the archakas handed over the administration of the temple temporarily to their juniors and rushed to Puttaparthy.
The next day the they were made to sit in front and as Bhagwan Baba came out for darshan, they sat with eyes glued at Him. As Baba came nearer, their hearts leapt in excitement. Baba maintained a little distance from them, looked sharply in their eyes, and asked –”Today how have you broken the tradition. Every day morning, you look first at my feet and then at my physical frame. Today you are looking at my face first without even taking padnamaskar.” As the archakas heard this, they fell at Baba’s feet. Baba took them to the interview room and spoke for a long time.