Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Hadshi Mumbai diaries - Part 10 - When God showed that music moves His heart

Bankers insure with the Divine

The first day of November 2009 dawned bright and sunny in Mumbai. After the privilege of sleeping just outside Swami's room for three successive days in Hadshi, I spent a night in the hostel at Dharmakshetra. Most of the music boys had been up late in the night practicing for the concert that was supposed to be held later in the day. In spite of that, all of them had risen pretty early and seemed geared up for the big moment. By 9:00 a.m. we had finished our breakfast and were waiting for Swami.

The Chief Minister, Sri Ashok Chavan addresses the gathering.
Meanwhile the hall at Satyadeep had become full with eminent men from the world of finance which included bankers and heads of national and multinational financial institutions. Also present was Mr. Ashok Chavan, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra as well as the Leader of Opposition, Mr. Gopinath Munde.

Even as these dignitaries were awaiting His arrival, on the request of Mr. Keki Mistry, an orthodontist and a longtime devotee of Bhagavan, many of them started sharing their thoughts and feelings about Swami. First was the Chief Minister who was followed by Mr. Gopinath Munde. The latter in his brief talk mentioned that though, as the Leader of the Opposition, he often disagreed with the Chief Minister, on that day he wholeheartedly concurred with Mr. Chavan’s views because it was all about Swami and His love. We have often heard words of praise about the love of God. But what I witnessed right now was akin to a dog and cat embracing each other!

(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.

The previous part which is Part 9 is located at the link given below in case you missed that.

Hadshi Mumbai diaries - Part 9 - Goodbye Hadshi, Hello Mumbai

Part 10 continues below)

Soon others joined and many corporate heads who were part of the Conference on Ethics in the World of Finance held a couple of months earlier (in August 28-29, 2009 to be precise) in Puttaparthi started recounting their experiences. This session of heartfelt outpourings, which had really turned into a satsang of CEOs, continued for more than an hour. Still Bhagavan had not arrived. So the Sai Youth and students started bhajans. And no sooner did this begin, there were signs of His coming! It reminded me how the Lord is Gaanapriya (Lover of Music). As He has said, He installs Himself wherever His Glory is sung. Was that a coincidence? I didn't think so.

Swami's arrival finally occurred when the bhajans started - Music invariably pulls the Lord!
By 10:20 a.m., Swami was seated right in front of the small group of students who were singing. Two bhajans later Swami began to move amidst the congregation and now all these financial honchos, completely unmindful of their positions and statuses, seemed to simply dive at His feet at every available opportunity. All chairs, therefore, were discarded and almost every one of them was ‘floored’ by His love. As far as I could see, there was nothing "financial" going on here. Many sought guidance for their personal problems while others just wanted one private moment with Him. No one is an exception where the need for the Divine is concerned and Swami showers His Love on one and all in boundless measure! He says ‘If you need Me, you deserve Me’ and He graciously blessed all of them showering smiles and collecting letters all the while. In the end all the business bigwigs gathered around Swami like children and posed for a group photo.

Whether one is a banker, a head honcho, a CEO or a Chief Minister, at the feet of the Lord, all are His Children!
After all were satisfied, Swami moved through the circular corridor to arrive out from the other entrance of Satyadeep. Here too, there were many devotees on chairs who immediately prostrated at His feet. Swami blessed all of them before entering the car to drive to Gandhi Maidan at Worli.

This was to be the most pleasant of all the drives in Mumbai largely because we were to use the newly inaugurated Worli-Bandra sea link road which had been named ‘Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link’. A lighted board welcomed us onto this road and the drive indeed was fantastic. Towards the end, as we were turning into Annie Beasant Marg, I noticed that there was a videographer on the road trying to capture a glimpse of the speeding Swami!

Darshan at Worli

Passing by JK Kapur Chowk, I saw that there were many of those ‘ignorantly blissful’ folk. I immediately said a prayer,
"Swami, I am sure that in your infinite mercy, you come to us when we need you. Please ensure that we are able to recognize you and your Presence in our lives also. This is because it not only needs grace to get you to us; it also needs grace to be able to recognize you when you come to us!"

Soon we were at the Jamboori Maidan and crowds surged behind the barricades to catch one close glance of Him. When Swami alighted it was about 11:20 a.m. As He slowly moved up the ramp and appeared on the decorated stage hundreds of hands rose immediately in salutation. Photographers flashed away and video cameramen had their films rolling.

The students were told to conduct the bhajans. I was on stage taking pictures. As I turned towards the gents’ side, I saw Appa, my father! It thrilled both his and my heart! I nodded my head to indicate that I had in fact spotted him and he literally waved back at me almost forgetting that Swami was on the dais! Talk about Putravatsalyam (attachment to son)! But I simply was happy and celebrated in my heart the love of my father. I now moved down and among the gathering to take pictures of the stage and also of the gathered crowds.

A huge crowd had gathered and waited for hours at Worli to get a glimpse of that lovable form in saffron.
Everyone had been waiting for more than a couple of hours and was eager to drink in every moment of the Divine darshan. Even as I rose to take some snaps, people hushed and shushed me to sit down so that I do not block their view. I could very much empathize with them; nevertheless unable to contain myself, off and on I did capture their intense expressions of devotion. People strained to see Him and some even had binoculars. The dais was beautiful in pale yellow while in the centre of the backdrop was an attractive Sarva Dharma emblem made in flowers, where the religions had been replaced with the eternal values of Sathya, Dharma, Shanti, Prema and Ahimsa.

A beautiful stage that had been erected for the session. One can see the vents of the coolers at the left side corner
of the photograph.
At about 11:40 a.m., some of the local leaders and a few other devotees went up to Him for blessings. One lady had a baby and Swami gently patted the little one on the head.  There were more people who moved up the stage to offer their salutations. After a couple of bhajans, arathi was offered and Swami sat through this entire session even as the eager crowd gazed at Him keenly trying to make the most of every second with the Lord.

By 11:50 a.m., Swami was in the car for the journey to the next venue. Even as we were preparing to follow Swami, I took a moment off and pulled out Appa from the crowds and managed to spend a few lovely moments with him. He was so happy that I was with Swami; I could see the pride in his eyes, and this thrilled me. Finally bidding him bye, I jumped into the students' bus.

This baby is receiving love from 1001 mothers as it's mother offers it to Swami. 
Divine Ministration to all at the Chief Minister's Residence

Swami had agreed to visit the Chief Minister's residence that day and He was to drive there from Worli. To keep us occupied, a ‘Mumbai darshan’ programme had been arranged where, according to the time in hand, we were to be taken to various places for sightseeing. Like it had happened at the Pauna dam, we were to do this in the afternoon! As our bus headed towards the famed Gateway of India it was suddenly halted - message had arrived that the CM had extended the invitation to all of us too. Thus we took a diversion and moved towards his high security home.

As we got down, CG and I were in a bit of a bother as the security seemed too concerned about our cameras. More than a dozen times we were stopped and enquiries, not so kind, were made about our equipment. I was a bit shaken and the travel through a maze of corridors to get to the backyard of the house did not help much. Soon I was through and I got a reassurance from Mr. Rakesh, "If anyone stops you again, just tell me. I’ll make a call and that fellow will lose his badge." I had no intentions of depriving anyone of their prized badges but that was a great assurance nevertheless.

In the guise of VIPs, hundreds had made their way even into the CM's residence to get Swami's blessings! :)
We were led straight to a banquet area where more than 50 or so items had been lined up. There were chats, snacks, South Indian and North Indian style dishes including desserts and juices. Soon all of us were tucking away at the food and Swami was in the residence. I was feeling that whether CM's house or not and however interesting the eats maybe, without seeing Swami it was not fulfilling. I lacked my previous confidence of just moving towards where Swami was after the 'camera scrutiny' I had been subjected to. Gathering courage however, I moved towards the house and climbed the steps. No one seemed to stop me. And then unexpectedly I saw Swami Himself coming out. That was it! In His Presence, all my energy and confidence returned and I went about shooting. This is what will happen in life too if we allow God’s presence. Courage, confidence and calm will automatically descend.

Swami came to the porch of the house and as He sat there, the whole 'assembly' outside was on its feet. Swami blessed them with both His hands raised as a gentle smile danced on His lips. Then the CM began to introduce, one after another, all the individuals to Swami. After that, the session seemed to have been thrown open and anyone who was a bit adventurous managed to rush towards Swami. The staircase now seemed to be huffing and creaking under the mass that it was being subjected to. I recognized the singer Pankaj Udhas too in that surging mass. After a short while, Swami indicated that He would like to go inside.

Singer Pankaj Udhas lets go of his Udasi (sorrow) and fills with bliss at Divine Darshan, Sparshan and Sambashan!
Once indoor, Swami moved into the pooja room. The CM and his wife performed aarthi to Him and the wife seemed to complain, "Swami, You gave my elder daughter a ring and now the younger one keeps asking me why You are not giving one to her." Swami just smiled. What else could God do when man seeks answers for questions which are beyond his ken to understand? I sat by the side taking pictures without disturbing the proceedings going on.

A couple of minutes later, Swami took the family for a private interview into a hall. It was 1:25 p.m. and CG and I exited through the main door to join the rest of the boys who were waiting there. Swami too arrived in fifteen minutes and started off to the home of Mr. Gokal Das where He was to rest. Meanwhile, all of us got into our bus and resumed our ‘Mumbai darshan’. By 2:15 p.m., we were at one end of the famed Queen's necklace and we got down admiring the sea. There was so much of reclaimed area and huge concrete tetrahedral blocks had been placed to break the tidal force of the sea and keep it within its boundaries. We took a lot of photos here.

A happy wave even in the blazing afternoon sun - that is the joy that Swami fills in every heart. The picture has
been taken along the sea shore on the famous "Queen's necklace" road. 
Spreading the fragrance of Divine love in a city starving for it

We also saw the area which was used by the terrorists who had attacked the Taj and Oberoi Hotels not many months ago as their entry point. I realized that Swami was exactly blessing those locations that had been devastated with terror and was spreading peace and Love with His presence. Wonderful and unfathomable indeed are the ways of God! From there we went to the Gateway of India and saw both the old and new Taj hotels. By now we were all fatigued and surely wanted to rest. The evening session in the Brabourne stadium would be our concert and we had to have some sleep. We were all checked in to the West End hotel that was nearby and soon all of us were in dreamland.

The Gateway of India is impressive and magnificent at any time of the day or year!
When we awoke and got ready by 4:15 p.m. we saw in the lobby a plethora of teas and biscuits. Refreshed with the aroma and taste of those drinks and snacks, we got into our bus and off we were towards the Brabourne. This evening turned out to be another poignant and unforgettable part of the whole trip.

Swami arrives at the Brabourne cricket stadium in Mumbai.
A third of the stadium had been cordoned off and a stage had been set. The stands and the lawns instead of being occupied with sports teams were teeming with devotees for a change! We were accorded a red carpet welcome and I saw a glimpse of the hunger devotees had for Swami. A tingle of joy coursed through me seeing the big banner, "Radio Sai" hanging at the far end of the stadium. It is not an overstatement that wherever Swami is Radiosai is too, for had not Swami Himself been the biggest ‘campaigner’ for it when He asked many people whether they had the ‘Radio’ with them?

Joy erupts, symbolized by flying balloons
I met Appa and Amma at the stadium; it was such a joyful reunion. I spent some sweet time with them and a photographer took a picture of our family too! All the boys decided that we would be off stage and not on top of it. On the dais was the santoor maestro, Rahul Sharma. He was scheduled to perform. Nevertheless, not being new to Swami, he was ready for any uncertainty.

At 5:50 p.m., Swami arrived at Brabourne from the residence of Mr. Gokal Das. As Swami emerged from His car He gave me a long stare. I was so happy. He moved up the long ramp, balloons went up into the air and a cheer moved through the audience. After floral presentations were made to Him, Swami asked for the programme to begin. Mr. Nimish Pandya asked Swami whether they could invite all the students onto the stage. Swami agreed and an announcement was made about the programme. All the boys came one by another with roses in hand. When it was Ravi bhaiya’s turn, Swami asked, “Have you placed swaras in the song?" He nodded. After taking pictures of them offering flowers to Swami, I moved down the dais to shoot their performance as seen from below.

The concert that began, would become unforgettable in times to come.

to be concluded in Part 11 which is at the link given below:

Hadshi Mumbai diaries - Part 11 - Homecoming

For all readers:

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  1. did you yourself take all the photos shown here,? Such are the great memories in your ininimtiable style- everybody gets hooked on your memento accounts- so there were all the big money men together in one photo equally taken by Swami . Unfortuantely here in the West we don't know any of them...

  2. I was a witness to the whole program me.more than my witness your write up has made the darshan most beautiful.☺


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