Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Hadshi Mumbai diaries - Part 5 - The idols get instilled with life

A view of the impressive crowd on the day of the inauguration
CG and I reached the Vitthala temple situated on the first floor of the temple complex. We knew that this was the central shrine and we saw hundreds who were waiting inside. Surprisingly, there were almost no cameramen there. Thrilled at this, both of us took positions in the sanctum, waiting for Swami to arrive. Five minutes later, we realized how naïve we had been! That area was cameramen-free because Swami was in the floor below us inaugurating the Shirdi Baba temple!

(Dear reader,
If you have come directly to this post, I would like to egg you on to enjoy the full story with its history. Link to part 1 is given below and the link to the next part will be at the end of each previous part. Thank you.

Swami presses the switch the lights up His own photograph
Both of us rushed down instantly and luckily were able get a few shots of Swami with the Shirdi Sai idol in the sanctum. The two brothers sat by His side and bhajans were on. The Lord serenely glanced at the many members of the Jadhav family who plunged at His feet for namaskar. This moving tableau went on for about five minutes after which Swami began to move down the aisle of the temple towards the back end. There was the famous picture of Him sitting in the Sai Ram shed at Brindavan, Bengaluru engrossed in bhajans. It was a back-lit frame and was situated bang opposite the Shirdi Baba idol. Swami pressed a button and the photo lit up along with the faces of all those around. I recalled what the elder Jadhav brother had told me,
“We wanted to make a shrine for Swami here. But Swami refused. He said that the people in the region loved and worshipped Panduranga. The name of form does not matter to Him because God is one. For the joy of the people, He told us to make this Pandurangakshetra (literally, ‘the field of Panduranga’). But we wanted Swami’s temple also. He converted that into a Shirdi Baba temple. Finally, we just managed to place His photograph there.”

This is so typical of Swami. He never bothers about people seeking Him in the Sathya Sai form. His desire is that everyone seek the ‘Sathya’ that the ‘Sai’ form has come to propagate. So that was how Swami added one more idol to the list of Shirdi Baba idols He has installed.

After this, Swami moved out of the temple and around it towards the lift to take Him to the Vitthala temple which, as mentioned before, was on the first floor. All along the way, devotees craved for a divine touch. The volunteers literally became "wall and tears" and the students too added to the sorrow of the devotees with their mighty cordon. But it must be said in their favour that the crowd was too enthusiastic to be disciplined as they tried to somehow get to His feet. When emotion overpowers, the voice of reason becomes faint. CG and I rushed back to the Vitthala temple via the stairs in front and now, the cameramen were there! Our ‘Bhagawan's guest’ badge helped us to get right back into the sanctum.

Swami is thrilled like a little child when asked to do the 'life-instilling' for the idols 

Swami, the 'string-puller' of the Universe pulls the strings to instill life in the idols
Swami did the "life-instilling ceremony" for the Vitthala and Rakumai idols too. He lit a lamp in the temple in which were standing the aged father and mother of the Jadhavs. This was Swami's first close encounter with them on this trip. Then and there itself they seemed to have won His heart completely. Swami looked at them with a twinkle in His eyes. He was so happy that the children had accorded so much respect and love for their parents. Swami says that if the children serve and take care of their parents, they become automatic recipients of God’s love. The state of Maharashtra also has an ideal for this in the form of Pundalika who won Panduranga’s grace by serving his parents.

Group photos for the Jadhav family members
I was convinced that the joy the parents felt was responsible for the blessings being conferred on the Jadhav brothers and my conviction would be vindicated later during the trip.

Swami now agreed for a family photograph and soon all the priests made way for the family members in the sanctum. Ah! What a heavenly blessing for the family! In the centre were the idols of Panduranga and Rukmini and right in front of them was dear Sai! All around was the family. We took pictures and, having completed my duty, II moved out of the way to the entrance. I exited the sanctum and sat outside, in the temple hall. A moment later, a boy came running to me saying that Swami was looking for ‘His photographer’ as He wanted to grant a photo opportunity exclusively to the parents of the Jadhavs. Overjoyed at the special honour for the parents which had gifted me the opportunity to be called as His photographer, I went back into the sanctum and clicked furiously.

A special photograph for the parents of the Jadhav brothers.
So many people fell at his feet and many more came within breathing distance from Him. Swami then moved down the path that had been strewn with rose petals and came out of the temple. He now was outside, at the top of the huge stairway that the devotees would use to enter the premises. He remained seated there so that the thousands assembled below could see Him and rejoice. The band played a tribute to Him while the songs continued. Swami presently blessed a few books in Marathi and was ‘introduced’ to many VIPs by Mr. Jadhav. Swami then asked for Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma and his son Rahul Sharma to be seated by Him and they felt honoured at this privilege.

Swami shares a light moment with the Santoor maestro, Pandit Shivakumar Sharma
Ten minutes or so later, at about 10:40, Swami moved to the lift and descended. The boys had made a human chain to provide ‘protection’ to the Ultimate Protector and everyone eagerly awaited the 'Descent'. Swami moved down and instead of going into the car, moved to a nearby area on the northern side of the temple complex where the final formalities of a yajnam were to be completed. Swami, the Yajnapurusha of all such sacrifices, attended the Poornahuthi (final offering) and blessed the Yajnashala. I did get good pictures of this event (Being a photographer is a funny experience. People look at the photos and are so happy. But those same also curse and scold when you obstruct their view while taking pictures! Posterity is thrilled at the expense of some in the present. It is like insurance where for a good future you undergo hardships paying premiums!)

A beam of sunlight filtered through as Swami arrived to bless the Yajna
At about 10:50 a.m., Swami started back in the car towards the Residence and in 10 minutes He was inside. Now, He had lunch with the elders and the topics of discussion were mainly centered on the proceedings in the morning. Once the guests were done, Swami looked at all of us seated on the floor and lovingly said, "Boys, go and eat." All the tables were soon occupied.

During this time, the discussion on the table veered towards speeches by the students and Bhagawan asked us as to who among us would speak. I was about to raise my hand when He announced the condition – it must be in Marathi! Almost everyone suggested the name of a senior in our group but Swami wanted someone else. Finally, He settled on Nishikant and asked him to prepare well for his talk in Marathi. So, that was the boys' involvement in the luncheon discussion.

As Swami was returning towards the lift after the lunch, He called out to KVSK Ganesh and said, "Do not only dance; do some work too." And then speaking to Mr. S. V. Giri, Swami said,
“Give this boy some work." Mr. Giri suggested that he could study further. Much to the relief of Ganesh (as he told me later) Swami vehemently disagreed saying,
"He has finished three degrees! How much more should he study? Let him work." Then turning to Ganesh, Swami blessed him.

As He moved up, all of us chanted the food prayer loudly. With that, Swami retired for the morning as we all happily helped ourselves to the elaborate menu.

By 3:15 p.m., refreshed after a nap, we were again waiting for His arrival. We had been told that the evening's snacks would also be served at the poolside along with Swami. In fifteen minutes, Swami was out and as He came near us, He called Ganesh once again and advised him to take up a job. It was evident that this was foremost in His mind. ( It is with great pride and joy that I state here that Ganesh is now my colleague, working at Radiosai Global Harmony studios.) Then He called Jagdish Kanadia too and asked about his brother.

After this Swami enquired about the tiffin to which Satyajit mentioned that it had been arranged near the pool waters. So Swami began His, "Pillalu paandi (Boys leave)” when we told Him, "Swami we had breakfast there. It is wonderful."
Swami: "Oh is it? What did you have?"
One by one all the various items were reeled out and when mention was made of Ragada Patties, He asked, "What is that?" We all tried our own explanations.
I said, "Swami it’s a kind of vada." Satyajit explained that it was a sort of cutlet. Finally Swami seemed to give up trying to understand these mundane things and said, "Let’s go there. Boys, get into the bus."
Then Satyajit added, "Swami, You please can come in the car. Boys will walk; it is very near."
“Where is it?”
“Swami, we can see it from here. Shall we go to the balcony?”
Sensing that Satyajit was trying to cajole Swami to go into the terrace, I got up and quickly told the boys to make a pathway for Swami to move towards the expansive balcony of the building. It is so beautiful when the Divine builds up a drama to confer greater joy. As if He did not know the distance to be traversed! But He wanted to give another beautiful opportunity to all of us and we did not know what it was then. Swami moved towards the other side of the room where the door to the balcony was.
Swami points out that the Ganesha is holding an umbrella in the wrong direction!

Enjoying a high-view from the balcony.
CG and I were already ready there. A gentle breeze was on and the sun shone down upon the balcony. As Swami looked at the southern side, the first thing He noticed was the large number of cars that had been parked. He mentioned how so many people were coming from so to have His darshan. He also saw the temporary shelters that had been erected to feed the devotees (about 20,000 people were fed daily and one sitting could accommodate about 6000 people and all this was served entirely free!).

Swami reached the end of the terrace and began to look at the small statue of a golden Ganesha holding an umbrella. This sunshade was pointing in the eastern direction and since the sun was in the western skies, the beams fell directly on the statue. Swami asked,
"The umbrella is facing the wrong side?"
One of the Jadhavs tried to force it into the ‘proper’ position but it was of no avail. Swami then told them to let it be as it was.

The swimming pool was also visible from here and Swami had a look at it. Beyond the gates one could see the devotees who were enjoying this unexpected darshan. Now He moved ahead and saw the northern view which was full of hills. Swami pointed out and said, "That is a Trikon." Literally translated it meant a triangle or 'having three vertices'. At this point Phaneendra and myself went forward and asked,
"Swami, the spot is so scenic here. Can we take a picture with You?"
Swami agreed and Phani jumped next to Swami. Bhagavan then said,
"All of you come together." And so I took group photos. After taking two, I gave the camera to Satyajit and, with CG, joined the group. In no time, everyone was on the terrace and even those not yet on it were pining for pictures with Swami.

Bhagawan did not disappoint anyone. Starting with the Jadhav brothers and other members of his family, Swami granted photos also to the two little kids of Ratnakar. Swami is so happy when this duo is around and generously showers affection on them. And so He posed proudly and happily with them. Then Ratnakar too came by and he was soon followed by the State President of Maharasthra Mr. Sawant. In between this, I could not resist the temptation of taking a few close-ups of Swami too. He was looking into the camera, and so, even as I took the group photos, I zoomed in and clicked only Swami.
“So beautiful Swami”, I exclaimed and thought that He blushed and smiled.
After everyone had got their priceless moment, Swami moved out of the balcony.

A family photograph which will be cherished forever.
As He came out, I went to Him and showed the picture of Him with the children on the camera screen itself. Swami was positively thrilled. He called out to the kids saying,
“Come and see… your photos are already there!”
When they came, Swami gladly showed them the shot. There was a gleam in His eye. I felt really happy at His unexpected outburst of excitement. A sweet little thing happened here. Swami had seen me sift through the photos of the camera screen by pressing one among the several buttons on the camera. While showing the photos to the kids, He too wanted to sift through the photos. So, He began to press a random button on the camera. That was so sweet and I didn’t feel like telling Him that He is pressing the wrong button. Every time He pressed the button, I ‘secretly’ pressed the right button and the photos shifted seamlessly. I felt happy to have silently ‘helped’ Swami.

The joy I felt there was also accompanied by a realization - the realization that Swami does for me in life what I did for Him with the camera. Swami is the silent worker ensuring success in all my efforts - in whatever field they are. He makes the correct moves, presses the right buttons and gives the me joy as if I have done it myself. I am eternally grateful to this Sathya Sai, the silent worker.

All of us then proceeded down where all the ladies of the group posed with Swami. Now, Satyajit along with this mother posed for a picture. The other women followed suit. At the end, Swami confirmed whether all the pictures had come out well. I was extremely delighted and showed Him the shots; He held the camera and looked intently at the screen. The Lord was satisfied and mentioned that it had come out well. Then He moved out of the Residence and proceeded in His car to the poolside.

Arrival at the poolside. I really wish to be like that pool -
reflecting the Lord within always.
As Swami alighted there, it was a beautiful sight to see His reflection in the still waters - a photographer’s delight! An umbrella was brought for Him and I remembered Kasturi’s words – “Holding sunshade over the sun!” As Swami moved beside the pool, He looked at its clear blue character. Nearing the tables where all the snacks had been arranged, Swami said,
“These are the same boys who serve us inside; they have made all the arrangements here (referring to the Sai Youth from Mumbai).” Through a sliding door and over a ramp, Swami arrived into the balcony. His table had been arranged and as He sat down and gazed at the beautiful greenery around, I told Him,
“Swami this is the union of Prakruthi and Paramatma (Nature and the Supreme Creator)!”
He looked at me with half admiration and half mockery playing in His eyes and exclaimed, “Abba!”

He then told the elders to sit on the chairs that had been arranged and enquired about the whereabouts of the other students too. It was only Swami who always had an eye out for His boys. He would never begin or do anything without ensuring that all of us were present. Soon all the boys came to the balcony and took their seats opposite to Bhagavan, just a few metres away. Swami was now happy and the snack session started. When He was told about the swimming pool, Swami said,
“If I swim, You will not even be able to catch Me; I will quickly reach from one end to the other!”  

The younger Jadhav was sitting next to the Lord and explaining the scenery around. Swami asked if there was no boating in the lake to which he explained that it was not yet available (I won’t be surprised if by now that too is available). CG and I quickly finished the food and got right back into shooting. Oh! It was a photographers' delight! God and Nature together enjoying each other's company!

The beautiful scene of the Purusha and Prakruthi
Once this session concluded, Swami moved out of the huge balcony. There was a hall by the poolside that was now full with the members of the Jadhav family tree - inclusive of the twigs and leaves this time! They had prepared themselves to perform padapooja for Swami. When requested, Bhagawan gladly consented to the Jadhav brothers’ plea to proceed with the ritual. He then moved into the hall where more than 200 were seated. I had not imagined that I would be witnessing a very unique and special padapooja, the likes of which I don’t think has been performed often for Swami.

to be continued in Part 6 published at the link given below.

For all readers:

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  1. Beautiful. Delightful:) thanks for yet another service to the posterity!

  2. Truly uplifting brother. You are a blessing for the posterity Arvind Bhaiya. Both as a photographer and as a writer. Thank you for scruplously preserving the priceless proximity to the lord - both litera(r)lly and pictographically.
    I was at my final year in Anantpur campus in 2010. I had decided to stay back at puttaparthi in the winter break in October that year. 10 days before the vacation , I got to know Swami wouldn't be at Puttaprthi. It was too late to get tickets for home. The only high point in my 10 days stay would be - Suprabhatam in the mandir sitting in the first line as His student...
    Bhaiya- these annals are priceless for me... "His delays are not denials".

  3. Sai Ram Aravind,

    Oh what a beautiful sight, I can't thank you enough for your loving efforts to take those lovely photographs, writing down every detail and presenting it to all of us in the most beautiful manner. I must say, I adore that all these photographs of Swami in a very unique setting.
    No less do I adore your love for him, your affection for him and your dedication to him. There is a lot to learn from your devotion.

    How sweet is that, you secretly roll the photos 'helping' swami, true He secretly drives all our moves. What a deep thought you have expressed when you post the photo with Swami's reflection in the pool.

    Thank you for this wonderful satsang.


  4. Wonderful story. Swami love to his devotees is indeed unfathomable .

  5. sweet divine memories for ever

  6. sweet divine memories for ever


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