Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Hadshi Mumbai diaries - Part 8 - The Vijayabhojanam or banquet of victory

Granting padanamaskar to all the people who had worked for the Hadshi trip. Swami was very happy that the
Jadhav brothers were largehearted enough to think of everyone getting a chance with Swami.
We were told that Swami was on His way to inaugurate the new guest house nearby. As Swami was granting the namaskar to the family members, we were all so engrossed in witnessing it. The news of the guest house visit came as a surprise to all of us. We did not have the slightest idea as to where the guest house was. We quickly got into the bus and in that hurry, none of us wore footwear. This is nothing new with God. It is said that in the Dwapara age, the cowherd girls and boys of Brindavan forgot whatever they were doing and rushed to Krishna. Though we might not boast of such devotion, we certainly rushed to Swami in the same hurry. And that was because in the heart of our hearts, we knew that He was our sole refuge. Thus, we forgot our ‘soles’ refuge and sat barefooted in the bus that followed Swami’s car into the hills.

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

Hadshi Mumbai diaries - Part 7 - A day for group-photo taking and group-photo showing

Part 8 continues below)

The guest house as it is seen from a distance from where we had to walk, alighting our bus.
As we moved in the convoy, Swami's car took a detour into the mango groves. Mr. Shivajirao Jadhav had expressed a desire that Bhagavan should see the plantations and the Lord had graciously consented. The trail now became very narrow and there was no way that our bus could enter that route. So we alighted and began to jog behind the car. Our soles hurt as the path was strewn with chipped stones and soon we were left way behind Swami’s car. The kilometre long winding route appeared like miles for us.

It was only after we reached the guest house that we did realize that this building was actually only a few hundred meters away from the Residence! We had followed Swami on His circuitous route! We felt we were so dull-witted nevertheless I remembered Swami's quote, "Of all the craziness that afflict man, God-madness is the least harmful and the most beneficial."

A memorable capture during the Vijayabhojanam, details of which are coming up ahead!

Swami is happy seeing around the airy and beautiful guest house.
Swami had reached before us but we were fast enough to be there along with the elders who arrived in cars. They were now struggling to traverse the last few metres. When I saw GV Sir and Giri sir finding it hard to walk, I got their SOS (save our soles!) message. I brought them footwear from the sevadals nearby which they could use to traverse the last few meters to the guest house. Soon all of us were inside with Swami.

Bhagavan first moved to the pooja room of the house and, on the request of the other photographers present there, posed for pictures. There was a burst of flashes and soon Swami reacted, "That is enough”. He then was taken around on the ground floor including the kitchen where a small table had been arranged for Him to have tiffin. The elders occupied the other chairs. For the boys, snacks were arranged outside. So we went there as per His direction. But everyone got busy with emptying the plates. Before the reader concludes that we were being shamelessly greedy, eating so often, let me clarify that we emptied out plates by placing the various food items into an extra container. The little jog to the guest house had hardly melted any of the lunch we had!

There was a beautiful fountain gushing by our side and the surface of the water was covered with multiple blossoms. It looked really out of this world.  At about 5:40 p.m., once the tiffin session concluded Swami emerged from the guest house. His feet had been decorated with Bilva leaves and it was visible as He came down the ramp towards the car.

The refreshing sight and smell of the fountain in the guest house compound bowled us over. 
Sitting inside, Swami moved towards the Mandir. Along the way, He had a look at all the kitchens and feeding halls where all the people would have their meals. This time, our soles were saved as we were in the bus. Some of the more enthusiastic ones amongst us however continued to run slowly and bravely behind His car. By the time we reached, it was 6:00 p.m. and we learnt that there was a programme due. So Swami asked all of us to leave immediately to the presentation venue. Soon we were on the massive stage that had been lit and carpeted.

The Feet adorned with bilva leaves
By now, we had become a signal for Swami's appearance. People would sit up and become attentive the minute they saw us streaming in. I was overwhelmed with the realization that it was just because we were with Swami that devotees were giving us this importance!
“How wonderful if I always herald the Lord, wherever I go”, I thought. And trust me, the thought came not because of the importance that was being given to me but because of the joy that would blossom on the faces of the people. That expression of joy is addictive. The easiest and fastest way to multiply my joy is to give that joy to everyone around and the best joy that could be conferred is true joy. And as Swami says, that true joy or happiness lies in union with God! I said a small prayer that Swami that I should become capable of carrying Him with me always.

By 6:05 p.m., we were all on the dais and we started singing bhajans. Swami arrived shortly thereafter and took His position on the stage even as thousands slaked their thirst for His darshan. After about ten minutes, Swami’s permission was sought for the musical programme by the ‘little champs’. These were children who had participated in a TV show with the same name, which showcases the talent of the young in vocal music, and all of them had achieved various levels of success in this show. They had now come prepared with devotional songs and abhangs in Marathi.

The Little Champs offer their respects as a smile lights up on Swami's face.
Each of the five children moved to Swami and offering a rose to Him, bowed at His lotus feet. Swami’s face was all smiles as He accepted both - their roses and devotion! The next hour was one of sublime delight as the children excelled in their presentation.

There were two boys and three girls. The youngest among them was one who was barely 3 feet in height and yet she had climbed the heights of the musical scale! She rendered a lovely song on Mother Saraswati in raag Saraswati and all those among us who were musicians were in absolute wonder and thrill that she could present that raag with such mastery and class. Each one seemed to better the other and they sang three rounds of songs. One of the girls got so lost in her singing that she began to slowly dance in tune and Swami was so pleased. It was a feet-tapping number, Damadam Mastakalandar.

The two boys offered a song in the form of a dialogue where they described the joy at being in the presence of Sathya Sai at Hadshi. It was a fast and enthusiastic number which made the whole audience clap in glee as Swami smiled in joy. A sample of the audio on that day alone can do some justice to give you the real feeling of that evening.

When three rounds of songs were over, Swami called all the kids and asked them whether they could sing one more together. They had not expected this and so all of them huddled to examine the common songs in their repertoire. The accompanying musicians, all of whom were elders, soon came to their rescue and the group was ready to sing a patriotic song in Marathi Jayostute.

Swami looked at them with a gleam in His eye and said,
"Come to Puttaparthi. There too you can sing in front of a large audience."
The young musicians nodded enthusiastically. He then called them and gifted to each statuettes of Vitthala and Rakumai. Not only this, He also felicitated them by placing shawls on their youthful shoulders like it is done for veteran artists. Coming from the Lord, it was the greatest honour. What more, the parents of these kids were also on the dais seeing their little ones please the Lord with their talents!
(As Swami had mentioned, these children indeed came to Puttaparthi and sang on the eve of His 84th Birthday on November 22, 2009)

A grand finale song which all the five of them participated in.
After this, Swami blessed them with padanamaskar. Some of the children requested Swami if their younger siblings who were sitting in the audience could be blessed by His proximity. Bhagavan agreed and the kids rushed to bring their younger brothers/sisters who were tinier than them! They placed them at Swami's feet. This indeed was a beautiful sight. Truly brothers and sisters ought to be like this – ever eager to bring us closer to His Lotus feet. The programme concluded with aarti and Swami blessed the gathering with both His hands raised in blessing before moving down the stage and up the sloping road to the Residence.
Blessings for one and all after
the concert.
It was 8:00 p.m. and as soon as Swami entered Mandir, He said,
"Those children are so self-confident. More important, they have so much feeling. Did you see that girl who began to dance lost in her song?" Bhagavan was indeed happy with the little champs and that beyond doubt made them deserve that title. A true champion is one who wins God over! Swami continued to sing their praises and the elders too joined Him in this ‘song’. Swami then went into His room for a short while and returned soon.

He had something special planned for that evening and He revealed it in parts. First He said, "Today, I shall have dinner with members of the Jadhav family." And so, the Jadhavs along with their parents, sisters and brothers-in-law occupied the table along with Swami. In fact, He Himself fixed the position of each member. Dinner was then served. He tasted everything, ate a little and was just happy watching the family dine with Him. CG and I went about capturing those moments even though my mind was partially on the photos that were supposed to arrive from Pune – these were the snaps where Swami had posed with the members of the Jadhav family in the afternoon.

Soon Swami began to speak to them. Mr. V. Srinivasan volunteered as the translator but he turned out to be more of an amplifier as Bhagavan spoke in Hindi and he in turn communicated that message aloud so that all the members could hear. This is in brief what Swami said:  

A blessing that the Jadhavs didn't imagine even in their most beautiful dreams...
"You are a very blessed family. The sons and daughters are good, so are the in-laws. The mother is most important. The scriptures say that the first God is the mother, then comes the father, followed by the teacher and finally the Almighty God. The mother takes complete care of the child. If the little one is sick, she gives up food and sleep to nurse it back to health. The father too has love and supports financially, but he does not love the child like the mother; he may even at times go out and eat in a hotel if there is no food at home! The mother should always be respected and taken care of. The sons in this family are noble like Shravan Kumar who used to serve as the only support and refuge for his parents.
(Swami became very emotional as He narrated that legendary story). 

The family is blessed and has a good fortune not only now but for generations to come.
Swami has gone to many places. In Delhi the Prime Minister wanted Swami to dine on a common table with Him. So many others too have asked the same of Swami. But Swami has never consented. Here you have been blessed with that opportunity. It is not that others don't love Swami but nobody is so sensitive to His likes and dislikes. I thought that we are going North and so we will be served north Indian dishes. But everything here is cooked in such a homely manner and I did not miss anything!

"Sri Sathya Sai is the head of this family - a silent listener of ever conversation; an unseen guest at every meal."
This picture is what I shall keep in my mind always at home!
When the Pandavas requested Lord Krishna to dine with them, He replied that He would do so after the war had been won. That was termed as the Vijayabhojanam (the banquet of highest victory). This is also the same. This is vijayabhojanam. Swami is very happy with all the arrangements."

After this, Swami revealed some personal details of the family and also clarified their doubts. I got lovely pictures of Swami's expressions and that is a treasure in itself. (one of them is presented with the "madness" quote in this blog itself!)

In between, I moved out of the dining hall to check if the photos had arrived. When Swami was in such a ‘bestowing’ mood on the family, I wanted to offer the photographs. I faced the “Abhimanyu” and the Chakravyuha problem wherein I knew how to get out but was not aware of how to get back in. That was when the fortuitous turn of events took place. First the photos arrived. Then, it so happened that there was a blackout due to power failure. People began to rush to check the problem and, thus, I quickly was able to move into the hall again. Soon after, there was light and Swami had a sweet smile on His face. I was happy at the prospects of showing the photos to Him. Swami asked us to take pictures moving to the side of the table as from that angle all the family members’ faces would be seen. We did just that.

Meanwhile, as I had the cover of photos with me, Sai Krishna came to take the camera from me so that he could take photos of me showing the pictures to Swami. But before this, when Swami saw Sai Krishna holding an envelope He enquired about it, so he handed over the photos to Him and quickly withdrew giving me an opportunity to go to Him. Swami said, "Dekho, hamara boys aisa photo kartha hain (See My boys take such photos)!"

A chance to offer the blessed family, their photographs with Swami. Swami spends time looking at each of the 5-6 photographs. 
I was so pleased that He considered me as His! The family members were all delighted as they passed the images around for all to see. Swami too was happy and this really delighted me. It was 9:40 p.m. when Swami began to move from the dinning table. All the members of the family were in tears. They had been conferred the rarest privilege and their hearts knew not what else to do but beat for Him.

As Swami moved towards the lift, I gave Him the pictures of Mr. Ratnakar’s kids with Him on the terrace. Swami gladly called out the lucky little ones and gave them the photos. And now all the members of the Jadhav family gathered around Him to perform aarthi. Using this chance, Mr. Shivajirao Jadhav asked Him about his mother,
"Swami, after her fall, she has a lot of pain in the knees. We need to do a knee replacement surgery but she is not willing. What should we do?"
Swami said, "I will take care. Do not go for the operation. It is only rheumatic pain which have been there for long. Just ask her to walk more and all will soon be fine."

He then blessed all of them and it was almost 10:00 p.m. when He retired for the night. After this all of us had our dinner and my mind weighed with sorrow as the next day would mark our last moments with Swami in Hadshi before we set out to Mumbai.

to be continued in Part 9 which is at the link below:

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

For all readers:

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  1. Sreenidhi Sivakumar True. Who wouldn't mind being at a mental hospital where the doctor and the cure is Swami! That's exactly why I pounced on the link as soon as you posted it and started reading greedily!

    This part of the Hadshi trip always thrills me, probably because it has had more visual impact on me. The dining session with the Jadhavs, Swami speaking to them in Hindi is all documented in the DVD, 'A Shrine is Born' and I've got to see the full programme by the Little Champs, thanks to another DVD. I am in tears every time I listen to them. Its no wonder Mugdha, the smallest of the lot mastered raag Saraswati, because even as she sang the lines,"Kant Mein Mere Biraajo. Bhakth Hoon Tum Gyaan Do", I felt our dearest Sai Saraswati Maa fulfilled this little girl's prayer. Its is very evident from the way she sang as the song progressed and how she sings as a 14 yr old today. One could also see in that footage how Swami always gave sweet expressions to the chubby boy, whenever he came to take padanamaskar before his performance. The other girl, Kartiki, who sang Dama Dam Mast Kalandar is my mom's favourite.

    And the Vijayabhojanam photo of Swami is the one of the cutest photos of Swami I have seen. How can He not be proud about His photographer, who worships Him through photography and not merely clicks pics!

    Loved the play of the word 'sole', the comparison of your condition with the Abhimanyu and Chakravyuha problem....

    Ah! Well, I can go on telling. But yes, enjoyed thoroughly and only drives home a stronger, enjoyable message as why we should seek only God. And yes, I am too feeling bad. Hadshi trip is coming to a close But more excitement on the way, the magical, musical evening at the Brabourne Stadium...waiting for that part
    Thanks a lot to the Swami in you, Anna! It gives so much happiness living through the entire experience.

    P.S - Haven't posted a comment for long, so all of it got compensated here See, that's what craziness for Swami and the addiction to your writings can do!

  2. after reading u r very graphic account i also feel sad that the Hadshi diary is coming to an end. I enjoyed every word and line i feel so satisfied as if i travelled with all of u. U people are blessed with abundant sukruti sigh.

  3. Sairam Brother. Have been a fan of your blog and have been addicted to it. Await for the updates/ fresh articles on this blog. The articles generate various emotions some times i get astonished and some times in tears. Its always been a wonderful experience reading these articles. Your hadshi and mumbai articles have made me nostalgic. Those few days we just had 1 thought in mind, and that is to make arrangements for the trip. I didn't had any major role to play, but what ever task was assigned i did it and relived those wonderful memories. Would request you if you can share the Mumbai visit pics through a link, my id is So that i can save those memories in pictures too.
    Thanks a Ton and Keep Posting.

  4. Sairam. Have been a fan of your Blog and look forward to new articles. Had been part of swami's Mumbai trip as a Seva dal from Mumbai. Would be glad if you can share the pictures of the Mumbai trip through a link. My email id is so that i can save those memories on my desktop too.
    Thanks and Keep Posting.


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