Friday, 30 May 2014

Hadshi Mumbai Diaries - Part 11 - Homecoming

A music concert like never before...

After the Aumkaram, the note on which almost every programme begins in Swami’s presence,  the boys began to sing a Ganesha bhajan! I was a bit surprised and then I understood that Swami must have directed them to do so. After this, when the second bhajan on Krishna started, I seriously doubted if the songs performance had been converted into a bhajan programme! To speak the truth, I felt a 7little disappointed and slowly wended my way back towards the stage. However, even as I arrived on stage and sat down, Ravi bhaiya and Sai Krishna began their song. The aalaap, "Devaaa...” reverberated in the stadium and a thrill ran down my spine. I am sure this would have been the experience of everyone present. There was a thunderous applause to this opening and the song was lovely to say the least.

The impressive stage set for one the most beautiful concerts.

(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 10 is located at the link given below in case you missed that.

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

Part 11 continues below)

Then came the magical moment of the day. Ashwath Narayan took over for the second song, "Shiva Shankari”. He began with an aalaap which in itself won many hearts. Soon, he was exploring the various highs and lows of the raag Darbari and the audience sat spellbound. When he started to sing swaras, it seemed as if even the Gods stopped whatever they were doing to hear him! He churned out the notes in rapid succession, maintaining all the while the mellifluous melody of the raag. This song, originally rendered by the legendary Ghantasala, churns out notes at rapid succession towards the end which is thrilling for the ear to hear. What I came to know later was that Ashwath accomplished this feat at a speed which was 50% faster than the original which Ghantasala had sung!

Thousands had gathered in the Brabourne cricket stadium for Swami's darshan of course. The concert was the excuse!
Swami was much moved and the audience response was something which is even better than a thunderous applause - a muted silence! When the song had been rendered, it took a few moments for people to wake up from their joyous stupor and offer a huge round of applause. As this song went on, I was in tears. That too it was in Raag Darbari, my favourite! I told Harish who was sitting a little behind Swami’s chair, "He killed the song, right?" (In ‘our’ language it meant that he had performed beyond all imagination) and Harish's characteristic reply was, "He killed all the other singers too! I wonder how they'll ever feel like singing!" Yes, such was the impact of his singing. If the reader gets the slightest disbelief at the description of the author, he/she is encouraged to go to the photo-video below and enjoy a dip in the vibes of that beautiful rendering!

After this, Prabhakar began a scintillating alaap and soon Aravind Sai joined him in the song. That was followed next by Koustubh Pare. Now what he did was a wonder. He had prepared a song for long and was keen to offer that to Him. But when he had gone to take namaskar, Swami told him to sing a Meera bhajan. And so, with last minute adjustments, Koustubh sang Payoji Maine! And he skillfully managed to incorporate a lot of swaras into the song. He was assisted by Abhinav Sitoke. Thus the music programme which began with a flourish grew in magnificence with each rendering.

Swami then asked for the qawwalis to be sung. Once again the mike moved to Ravi bhaiya and he did not let Swami down. The whole stadium had been charged with devotion and faith. There was a cheer everywhere and it suddenly came to my mind that this place was just a few kilometres away from all the areas which had witnessed terrorist activities in the past few months. As Swami says, if one wants to clear the foul odour, one should light a fragrant incense stick. One could feel the powerful positive vibrations wipe out the negatives as the boys sang out with all their throats and hearts. The multi-coloured lights came on and the almost round moon shone brightly in the skies. Swami seemed lost in a trance and His hand went up in a beautiful mudra. The whole sight was so deliciously beautiful! I am sure this will remain forever etched in all the hearts that were a witness to it.

Swami was equal in His rewards! Even us, non-musical people, were granted a photo opportunity
with Him and also Safari pieces. 
As the programme concluded, Swami seemed to be very happy. He called all the boys and began to gift them safari pieces. I went to the front to take pictures. Swami had decided to gift away the clothes to even the non-participants of the programme. In a sense, as such there were no ‘non-participants’; everyone in the stadium seemed to have participated in it! Swami called Ganesh and presented him clothes as he had played the cymbals. Then He asked Gopi Sir as to what he did, to which he replied, "Swami, I clapped." He got his clothes. It was almost a collision between me and Sudhindran as both of us were there at His feet with our hands outstretched. Swami asked me, "What did you do?" I replied, "Swami, I sat and shed tears as they sang!" I got my safari piece!

Swami then granted a group photo. I took the first few and then as I went to sit in the group, Neeraj took a couple more. After this Swami asked for aarthi and as this was done He moved down the stage blessing so many people along the way. It was now 7:30 p.m. and the big and bright moon was smiling in the sky. Swami then started towards the house of the Revenue Minister Mr. Jayant Patil for dinner. Bollywood actor Ms. Rani Mukherjee too was there to seek blessings we heard.

Meanwhile all of us students returned to Dharmakshetra in the bus. Mr. Ratan Tata the great industrialist had arrived there and was waiting for Swami. He insisted that he would leave only after meeting Bhagavan. Swami arrived by 10:30 p.m. but that did not stop Him from granting an interview to Mr.Tata till 11:05 p.m.! In the middle of it, Swami wanted to introduce the Spaniard boy Dario to Mr. Tata. Once Satyajit told me that I rushed down to the hostel and ensured that Dario was presented before Swami without much delay. I was happy to have served Him in some manner at least. That day we all went to bed by 11:30 p.m!

Sri Ratan Tata is delighted after his interview with Baba almost at midnight.
Poignant Finale

All good things in life come to an end! I know that this is a cliche but that is exactly how I felt on the morning of November 2. It was a moment of mourning and I just hated the fact that time had flown so swiftly! Nevertheless, the day held some promises; the trip was not over yet. Cheering myself thus, I saw that most of the others too had done the same. And now the whole hostel was a beehive of activity as, on instructions, we packed up everything and tagged the luggage so that they could be transported to the airport. After this we had our breakfast and by 10:00 a.m. we were in the Satyadeep hall waiting for Swami.

The alumni of Swami’s University had prepared a short film entitled "Satyadeep Uvacha" (meaning “Thus Spake Satyadeep”) and hoped Bhagavan would consent to see this presentation. As everyone waited patiently and prayerfully, CG and I went out and took some pictures of the building and the stoopa including the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu on its either side. We also captured the balcony from which Swami used to give darshan, early in the morning, to the steadfast devotees doing nagar sankirtan. I looked at this sacred spot with reverence before returning to the hall.

The members of the Mumbai youth make a presentation to Swami.
At 11 a.m. as soon as Swami arrived, the alumni presented a card and some pamphlets, and then placed their request. Swami did agree and soon came to the centre of the hall. All of us now swarmed around His feet. I was in the front and so I began to massage His lovely lotus feet. Meanwhile the film started and Swami told all of us to look at the opposite side to watch the show. We did turn but only slightly so that we could have the proverbial cake and eat it too!

The film traced the history of Dharmakshetra and was presented in the manner as 'Satyadeep' observed it. Swami watched the 20-minute video in rapt attention and after this began interacting with the alumni. In the end they sought a group picture and Swami kindly gave this opportunity. Not only this, He also gifted safari pieces to all of them and along with it I am sure enough inspiration to carry on their service activities. It was past 11:30 when Swami began to move out of Satyadeep to the neighbouring building.

The alumni residing and working in Mumbai are blessed with an opportunity for a group photo.
Now, He learnt that there were devotees doing bhajans at the hall ‘Shantideep’ and also in the adjoining area below. Bhagavan wished to go there and so He entered the Estima. As Swami alighted from His car and entered the hall named Shanti Deep, the devotees assembled there were simply thrilled. The photographers had a field day as the Lord granted darshan for over 5 minutes. Swami then moved through the ladies side, emerged out of the hall and took a modified ramp to reach a lift that brought Him below to the stage. This stage opened out to a gathering ground that was behind the Shanti Deep hall.

At the main altar in Shanti Deep, Dharmakshetra.

The assembled hundreds in the Shanti Deep hall were thrilled at the unexpected bounty of grace.

A section of the thousands that had gathered outside the hall.
As Swami arrived on the dais the delight on the faces of hundreds of devotees was obvious, and I did not miss to capture some of these moving scenes. I then moved to the adjoining road and began to take pictures from various spots. At one point, I stood on an elevated area and got ready to take a picture. Swami seemed to look at me all the way from the stage and kept His gaze on me till I took the shot. I felt special; a surge of love towards Him enveloped me. Only Swami can do this - make you feel special though you are in a crowd numbering thousands! Swami sat listening to the bhajans till 12:05 p.m. and then received aarthi. Blessing the devotees, He moved into the car which now took Him to the top, to the building adjacent to Sathya Deep, where lunch had been arranged.

Swami was bubbling with joy and love as He blessed the gathering at Dharmakshetra

Arati on the final day.
Once all of us entered the dining hall area, we learnt that Swami was inside His room there. However, soon He came out and then began a distribution session. More than Swami, it was the organizers who loaded us with gifts galore. Even as these were being distributed, Swami moved into the dining hall. The elders too seated themselves at the tables and the luncheon began.

I stood at a pillar and kept watching Swami as He lovingly interacted with those serving Him, even as He nibbled at His food. After one batch of elders had finished, Swami permitted them to rise from their seats and instructed the others to occupy them. At this point He asked me too to join the boys at the tables and take a break from photography for a while.

Swami had completed His meagre lunch and began to move out. Watching this I decided to skip lunch and follow Him. 

Sri Indulal Shah and his wife, Smt.Sarla Shah had the privilege of serving Him during the final luncheon in Mumbai.
Farewell Mumbai with tears of love and gratitude

As soon as there was an opportunity, Ganesh, Prabhakar and a few others too gathered around Him and offered profuse gratitude for the matchless chance of this wonderful trip that He had blessed all of us with. Swami seemed so moved and happy. As that interaction continued, all the other boys slowly filed into the hall after completing their lunch. After that there was more gifts distribution and now the elders and the kids too got their share! As it concluded and Swami was about to retire, all of us, on cue from Sai Krishna, began to sing, "Madhura Mohana Ghanashyama Sundara Sai..."

Beautiful moments of love and gratitude which the students, who were part of His entourage, expressed.
On many occasions Swami Himself has said that God is Ganapriya, a lover of music. In fact, He says that Lord Vishnu promised the sage Narada,
Mad Bhaktaha Yatra Gayanthi, Tatra Tishtami Narada.” (Wherever my devotees sing about me, I install myself there Narada.) I saw the truth of those statements playing out before me. Though earlier He seemed to be in a hurry, Swami now paused and began to listen to our heartfelt song. At this point, time seemed to freeze, at least for me. Without the slightest care for melody or beat, I began to sing my heart and throat out aloud. Swami sat there looking deep into my eyes. Tears began to stream out, first from my eyes and then slowly from His. That moment is forever embossed in my heart. And when the final stanza was being sung, He began to mime the meaning of the lyrics.

"Oh! Of what use are the eyes if they cannot see You? Of what use are the hands if they do not worship You? Of what use is human life if not spent in contemplation of Thee?"

It was a beautiful and mesmerizing experience for all and everyone in the vicinity seemed spellbound. For us, it was as if only Swami and we existed - none else! And that is truly the reality of Life. Only Swami is with us through joys and sorrows; everyone else fades away.

Swami then moved out of the hall and as everyone offered their final obeisance, we gathered our various gifts and headed to our respective vehicles. Soon we were on our journey to the Airport. Once we comfortably boarded the flight we awaited Swami's presence. The Lord came in after a few minutes and once again the weight in the plane seemed to shift towards the front as everyone moved closer to Him. As it readied to take off, all of us began planning to ask Swami for individual pictures with Him on the flight!

Soon the 'fasten your seat belts' sign went off and the cabin crew immediately swung into action sitting by His side for photographs. CG and I went in the front to take pictures and as they finished, I asked Satyajit to check with Swami if we students also could take photos with Him. And Bhagavan did consent to our request. The All India President who was seated beside Swami graciously got up and told us that we could sit comfortably and take pictures with Him. And thus it was that each and every member of the entourage got a personal photo with Swami to cherish for a lifetime!

Memory for a lifetime... with the goal of my life; my life itself!
Flight menu was now being served behind and just as I anticipated, the food vehicles acted as a block for the boys who were arriving to the front. Thus the stream of students dried up and Swami seemed to be surprised. He asked, "Where are they?" I rose up and said, "Swami, there is no passage as they are serving food; they will soon come.” Then I sat at His feet and looked into His eyes. He too saw deep into mine. Tears began to stream down effortlessly and He immediately looked away; I felt foolish that I had spoilt such a lovely gaze. But those few seconds had already overwhelmed me!

And now the flow of students resumed. After I took Neeraj's picture with Swami, he asked for my camera and understanding him, I took my place beside Him. Swami held my hand and posed with me. I felt so wonderful. This was something that I had desired from my school days! I am today convinced that God's delays are never His denials. After that tryst with Divinity, I returned to my place to continue taking snaps. However, after a few more boys, the food cart again stalled the proceedings. Though it seemed like a block then, today I am grateful for that as it gave me beautiful moments of solitude with Him. The seat beside Swami was empty too as Mr. V. Srinivasan had vacated it.

After a silent wait, I felt an irrepressible urge in me to speak to Him. I made a slight movement towards Him and as He looked kindly, so I felt encouraged to go ahead. I said,
“Swami, my parents had Your darshan; they were very happy.”
Swami asked, "When are they coming here?"
“Swami, after father's retirement in May, they will come and settle down here itself.”
Swami nodded saying, “Santosham”. I continued, “One more thing, Swami. Mother keeps crying out ‘Swami’, ‘Swami’, ... Please grant her namaskar once when she comes to Puttaparthi. Once You speak to her, she will be so happy.”
He nodded in agreement. But then He responded with a question of His own, "She keeps telling ‘Swami’, ‘Swami’... What about you?"
I was dumbstruck. I mumbled and fumbled a bit and said,
"Swami, You know what I feel. You are most important for me."

It was then that Swami said ever so softly, "You are taking a girl and going on your bike." Wow! Was I taken aback! I remembered that I had, a few weeks before, indeed taken a high-school girl to the hospital for some ophthalmology treatment. I said, "Swami that was sister." He said, "If its sister, its alright." I told Him, "Swami if you say, I shall give up using the bike itself." I had purchased the bike newly and had wanted to seek His blessings before riding it. That had not worked out and I had been using the bike, mainly to follow Swami when He made various visits in Puttaparthi to the hospital, grounds etc. It had proved difficult to do that on my bicycle and so I had upgraded. But now, it was a different scenario. How I wanted to stress that for me He was the most important and that I would gladly give up bike riding itself if He had the slightest problem with it. Swami said, "Do not take any girl along with you on the bike." And then He smiled. Ah! That smile made such a difference for me. I was so tensed within and my loving Lord knew it. His smile calmed me and I agreed to what He said.

Swami then spoke to CG who was by my side. He looked deep into his eyes too and am sure that whole scene is imprinted in his heart too. After this the photo session resumed. Some of the pictures were slightly spoilt because of the movement of the air hosts behind me which was distracting for the “subjects”. Nevertheless on the whole it was a most memorable journey in the air and everyone had their special moment with Swami captured, including the air hosts and the other members of the flight.

The look which Swami bestowed from the stage when I photographing from a distance... Priceless!
When it was announced that we were reaching Puttaparthi, I could feel a small pinch in my heart and yes a tinge of disappointment too! The feeling that it was over just filled my entire being. But it also rang aloud in my heart that with Swami, it’s always a beginning, though at that time we do not understand. We put on our seat belts even as I looked out of the window knowing for sure that I would have tons to glean from this trip, physically, mentally and most important, spiritually.

Please do watch this beautiful video entitled
"From a distance".

We fastened our seatbelts and the plane landed with a dull thud. As we taxied down the runway and came to a final halt, we could see many elders waiting to welcome Swami. I noticed Ranjit along with the Radio Sai team capturing the event for posterity! Soon Swami got into His Porte and moved towards the ashram. Prasanthi was definitely rejoicing. Its beloved Swami was back and in spite of the knowledge that the trip was over, it felt wonderful to return to the good old divine hamlet.


For all readers:

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  1. Sairam! Thank you for this, please do write more, also Mr. Aravind The Avatar has left his Physical frame, his omnipresence in various devoted people world wide please do publish reports with photos, their interviews , etc.

    1. The articles I write and publish are totally as inspired by Swami. So, you should take your request to Him! :)

      That apart, a lot of devotees share their experiences with Radiosai. You can access many of the devotees interviews at:

      Also, there was a special for Aradhana Day on that website, where Radiosai invited people to share with them how they connect with Swami and still feel His presence after Swami chose to discard His physical frame. That can be found in this link:

    2. Sai Ram beta, this adventure was a delight and the Jadav family a truly loving family. Ashwath Narayan's rendition of Shiva Shankari was pure perfection. I don't think anyone will ever sing, I think it's called,, the raag any faster without mangling it. Correct me if i'm wrong but near the beginning either Ashwath went a bit fast or the musicians were a tad slow either way it doesn't matter cause they were magnificent also. How they kept up!!! I know God is Talent but you are all blessed in abundance. Loving regards, chandanben

  2. wonderful articles and marvelous are the ways in which Swamy blesses each and every one. I had a chance to go to Hudshi on 26th jan 2013 and through your articles could visualise now, how the whole area must have been when The Supreme God was moving around then. Thanks a lot- A G Dev


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