Saturday, 10 October 2015

Delhi-Simla Memories- Part 6 - Mavalankar Auditorium in the Indian Parliament premises

A ‘hot’ surprise
Planning afoot for the evening programme in the premises
of the Indian Parliament.

We walked into the lunch hall via the auditorium. As we were making our entry, Swami seemed to have decided to bless the Delhi State President of the Sri Sathya Sai Organization with His love and grace. He called Cheema and asked him when should He visit his home! Cheema was absolutely delighted (who would not be?). He immediately said that the 13th of April was Baisakhi and it would become infinitely blessed with Swami’s visit to his home. As Swami seemed to mull over it, Satyajit said that it was a festival day for the people of Punjab. Nodding to that, Swami told us to take our seats and begin the prayer. The lunch session began silently. As I put the first morsel into my mouth, I realized that the food was really spicy! Instantly I remembered Swami’s chiding to Cheema. That must have been passed on to the cook who had taken the feedback very seriously. That feedback had resulted in making the ‘feed-front’ in our plates so hot that it was nearly unpalatable.

I knew that CG had the least tolerance to spicy food. Sure enough, when I looked at him across the table, he was in tears and gulping down many mouthfuls of water! Only a pure Andhraite (person of Andhra origin) can relish that spice and Swami seemed to be perfectly at home with the food. In this Avatar, He has come as an Andhraite isn’t it?  Another person who seemed to be relishing the food was Anil Kumar sir, also a pure Andhraite! The entire lunch session progressed silently. Nobody spoke possibly because all the tongues were on fire!

It was no surprise that everybody quickly finished the lunch. Swami said,
“Ah! Today the food was good. It had adequate salt and spice.”
He looked at Giri sir and GV sir. They nodded in agreement. What else could they do?
“Abba! Finally, the food managed to tickle our palates Swami”, said Anil Kumar sir and there was laughter all around. That laughter broke the silence and got Swami speaking. He began talking about Justice P.N. Bhagawati.

“His house is on top. I said I cannot come there.” Since Srinivasan sir and Giri sir could not hear that, they went closer to Swami. Then, they said that his daughter’s home was on the ground floor of the same residence and Swami could easily go there.  The topic then shifted to the evening programme in the premises of the Indian Parliament.  Swami asked Giri sir how long he would be speaking. He said twelve minutes and then the same question was put to GV sir. GV sir said that together, he and Giri sir would take thirty minutes together.  Srinivasan sir added that the boys could sing the composition Aha Raha Tava in the end.

God in one instant, human the next...

Swami said that was not needed because nobody would understand the language. (This was fantastic for Swami knew exactly what would happen in the auditorium. When living all the while in the physical proximity, it becomes tough to remember always that we are in God’s presence!)

Swami then called out, “Ashwatha!”  
Ashwath went to Swami and Swami called for his partner too and so PS (P.Sreenivasan) too followed suit. Ashwath asked Swami whether they needed to be ready with songs for the evening and Swami said that there was no need for it. Swami asked Ravi bhaiya who his partner was. Srinivasulu sir (or Lu sir as we call him) stood up and Swami nodded. Swami told the elders to go wash their hands. We continued to sit on.

Now another interesting thing happened which showed us the Avatar’s omniscience.

{This is the 6th part of an ongoing series. You can read the previous part at this link:
Or you can read from the beginning. The link to Part 1 is here:

Swami called out for Lu sir and asked him whether he had buttermilk. Lu sir was not able to hear Swami for the first two times because he was a good five metres away. The message was quickly transmitted to him and somehow, Lu sir seemed transfixed. Swami again asked,
“Did you have buttermilk?”
The response was only a hesitant nod! Swami looked at him deeply and left it at that. There was definitely something special about this interaction and I thought I would ask Lu sir later.What I found out simply thrilled me. Lu sir had decided not to drink buttermilk fearing that it might trouble his throat and make it tough for him to sing. Even as he thought that, Swami had asked him whether he had buttermilk! Instantly, he was reminded of his mother at home who would always insist that he should drink buttermilk after meals! He was overwhelmed and touched. (In fact, after the whole lunch session, he went to the kitchen, asked for buttermilk and had it with gratitude and love for Swami.)

Presently, the divine child came to the fore again. A plate of cut fruits was brought to Swami. The Kiwi fruit was there again but it had been presented in a nearly seedless form. Swami called and asked Srinivasan sir what the fruit was. “Swami it’s called Kiwi.”
Swami then suddenly seemed to remember,
“Ah! Purugulu! (insects)”
Then, He refused to eat it! Satyajit came and tried telling Swami that He should at least taste and see for Himself but Swami was simply adamant.  Satyajit even took up a fruit piece on the fork and gave Him but He did not taste it. He gave up and placed the fork back in the bowl. He stepped aside and walked out of the door to fetch something.

Swami called Balaram sir and asked him about the fruits.  He also tried to tell Swami that it was very nutritious and offered Him a piece on a fork. Swami told him,
“You eat it if you want!” He offered Balaram sir a piece on His fork. Ah! How beautiful it was - reminiscent of what happens in temples everywhere! Food is placed before God for a while (Naivedyam) and then partaken as Prasadam. Balaram sir ate the Prasadam joyfully and radiated a smile.  Swami told us to wash our hands and leave.

Tea and hint of take-off

For a reader following all these parts diligently, it might appear as though most of our time was in eating. One may ask,
“What else? Having just completed describing the lunch session, the description is going to be about afternoon tea!”
Well, the description here is in chronological order with importance being given to only those episodes related to Swami. (What else is important?) So, while we spent hours in the rooms, I don’t remember what happened there! This much I know that returning to our rooms, we talked for a while and then we slept. I slept like someone drugged. I woke at 3:20pm to the call,
“We have to hurry! Swami is waiting for us.”

A light moment between Jagadish and Ravi bhaiya. This is the only thing I remember of the time in the room and
that is probably because I took a picture of it! 
Getting ready quickly, we rushed to the adjacent building. A few of us barely had reached outside the dining hall when Dario came and told us to go in as Swami was waiting! We hurriedly went in and I sat in the second chair facing Swami. A cupcake and a sweet had been placed in our plates. As Swami told us to sit, He asked me what it was in the plate. I said,
“Cake, cupcake.” (unconsciously in the famous  “Bond, James Bond” style). Swami did not seem to understand and He kept asking many questions about it. So I picked up the cake and went to Him to show it. He thought that I was offering it to Him to eat and, like a child turned His face away, saying,
“I don’t want to even look at that!”
I smiled to myself and returned to my place.

Swami then asked Krishna, “Did you come by plane or by walk?”
“Swami the building is only adjacent. We came in walking.”
Swami then asked, “How will you go to Shimla? Go by plane...”
There had been no confirmation about the Shimla trip and these were the first confirmatory words. We were all happy to hear these words but we just kept silent.

Swami then told all of us to get up and get going. We moved out of the hall. I returned to pick up my camera which was on the table. The elders were still seated and I moved out with my camera. We all sat in the corridor outside Swami’s lift, waiting for Him. It was about 4:20 pm as Swami moved down the lift for darshan. As I came out of the building, I saw that Appa (my father) was seated in the first line! To my pleasant surprise, I saw that Amma too had managed a place in the first line and that too on a chair! I moved alongside Swami, taking pictures, as He descended the gentle slope of the ramp. Amma was beaming from ear to ear as Swami passed by her and Swami too raised His hand in Abhayahastha. That must have really thrilled her.

A group of alumni and youth were doing the Veda chanting and Swami sat listening to it for some ten minutes or so. Then He asked for the bhajans to begin. Since I was seated behind Swami’s chair, I could get some pictures of the devotees and the crowd that had gathered. Swami knew all the while that there was a programme in the Parliament premises and so, after 4-5 bhajans, He asked for Aarthi. Since Delhi Centre had no priest like in Puttaparthi, whenever Swami wanted Aarthi, He would either tell Satyajit or move His head vigorously to both sides and everyone would get the message.  

In spite of the "high profile" programme scheduled, Swami made it a point to grant darshan and attend bhajans.
As the prasadam came up for distribution, Swami took one packet and threw it to the person doing the Aarthi and he duly collected it after the Aarthi was done. Swami now turned around and headed to the car which was waiting at the main entrance. Once more, all of us filed in front of Swami.

Reading a devotee's letter as He gets into the car to leave for Mavalankar.
As I was passing Him, He was reading a letter and I took a picture. Swami gently looked up and then told me to hurry to the vehicle.

Mavalankar Auditorium

Going to the vehicle, I noticed that our minibus had been replaced with Innova cars! Wow! This would ensure that we would not be left behind when Swami’s car zoomed away. It was a good change and it had been done quickly. As we started, it felt good to be with Swami in the convoy. The traffic in busy Delhi had been held and we got VIP passage. But this was not being done by the traffic policemen - it was accomplished by Seva Dal volunteers who had requested the public passage for their Lord. With love, the public was co-operating. Never in my life would I experience this kind of VIP treatment I felt - where people were willingly waiting unlike in the case of other VIPs where they fret and fume for the same!  I reminded myself that this was all due to Swami in the third car ahead of us!

On the way to Mavalankar auditorium as part of Swami's convoy!

Mavalankar Auditorium and its surroundings located on Google Maps

Soon we reached the Mavalankar auditorium where the evening programme had been scheduled. We quickly got out of our cars and rushed to the entrance. Swami was getting down and a huge crowd had gathered around Him as usual. He entered the auditorium and soon moved to the stage of the auditorium.  It was 5:00pm. A solitary ‘Love All Serve All’ banner was displayed inside, on the big balcony.

Though the auditorium was decent, it was a poor replacement for the Balayogi auditorium in which the programme was originally scheduled. I also saw that there were none of the so-called bigwigs from the Indian political sphere.
“Their bad if they are not coming”, I thought, “What does the Lord lose if someone comes or not?”
But some of the elders in the Organization seemed upset that none of the big names had arrived. I personally, did not care a tad about it!

The seats in the auditorium were very comfortable. Swami was taken straight to the stage. Air-chief Marshal Suri was giving the introductory address. Reiterating Swami’s message of seeing Him in everyone and thus loving everyone, He introduced the three speakers for the evening. First to speak was the CEO of $20-million Bharti Enterprises, Sri Sunil Mittal.

Sri Sunil Mittal seeks Swami's blessings.
He started off by saying that Cheema had insisted he speak and then made his opening remarks, addressing Swami,
“I don’t know if good people get attracted to you or people who get attracted to you become good, but good things are happening.”  
He confessed that his wife and in-laws were all staunch devotees but He had only little acquaintance with Swami and His teachings. Talking about the different philanthropic ventures of his company, he gave credit for the inspiration to Swami and His teachings. He concluded in 12 minutes. In the meanwhile, as I was taking pictures, CG told me to shoot video.

Evening Programme

And so, moving to the centre, I erected the monopod and began to shoot.  Giri sir called and asked me for a rose that he could offer Swami before his speech. GV sir called and told me to tell CG to put off the light that was hitting the screen. Amidst all the video shooting, I had to do these also! I was not finding any roses and told Vibhu,
“Pluck a couple of roses off the stage decorations and give it to me man!”
Even as I was getting the plan executed, I got to know that roses had been arranged for the speakers. I sighed in relief.  The next speaker was Giri sir. He spoke on Vidya and his pet topic, Grama Seva. He concluded in about ten minutes. As he spoke, CG was playing different slides of Swami from GV sir’s talk. Swami was keenly watching the slides on the flat screen that had been placed exclusively for Him. I felt it was a good idea by CG that kept Swami so engrossed.

A panoramic view of the Mavalankar Auditorium with Swami sitting in front of the three chairs on which flowers
 had been put.
Finally, came the talk by GV sir. His topic was,
“The importance of being compassionate.”
His talk had a wonderful photo-video presentation and it was about the water supply project which brought water to Chennai. When the video of the citizens pouring out their woes (in Tamil) came, Swami was moved. He was also happy with His declaration at the SSSIHMS Bangalore where He emphatically declared that He would provide water to Chennai.

Towards the end of His talk, Swami went to His room by the side of the stage for a few moments. Then as He came on stage, Cheema requested Swami to allow the Delhi youth to put up the drama that they had prepared. Swami agreed and moved down the ramp to the front. Three chairs had been covered with cloth and flowers had been placed on them. They were meant to be for Swami. So, when Swami saw them, He said,
“They have placed flowers for me. I will sit there.” CG got up and told Swami that the seats sink inside a lot and so it was better that He was on the same chair.  Swami agreed and continued to sit on the chair.

The drama was simple but humorous and nice. It began with a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna. To show the relevance of Gita in modern life, the protagonist was Muthuswami. He is tormented by his materialistic wife and mother in law. The mother-in-law did superb acting and he had me convinced that ‘he’ was actually a ‘she’ for quite some time. Krishna then comes in the guise of a friend of the protagonist and gives the theory of the Gita to the mother in law. The practical lesson is learnt when tragedy strikes her. Her son who was supposed to have taken her to USA with him ditches her and also cheats her! That shock transforms her and she breaks down.

The dance-drama in progress.
Many times during the drama, Swami looked at Cheema and smiled. Towards the end, Swami wanted to leave and He kept indicating to CG a number of times. Finally, when a lovely dance with fantastic lights and sounds concluded, Swami blessed them. He began to move out of the auditorium. Soon we were also out and in our cars zooming towards the Rai house where we were supposed to have dinner. Ah! That would turn out to be an awesome session, filled with love, grace and humour.

to be continued in Part 7 at the link given below:

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    1. Sai Ram Aravind, I think Swami asked for hot food to please Prof Anil Kumar so that he would stop complaining in his prayers!! I agree with Sai Aanchal's thoughts on the drama only I have a different way of putting it across. To me it's a classic example of reflection, reaction and resound. Nothing is going to change unless men realise this. Women will have to realise their short comings as well and change, for change will come since Swami didn't come to waste time but, like all things, it will be gradual and one day everyone will respect each other. Looking forward to part 7, loving regards chandan aunty.

  2. Sai Ram Aravind, something I forgot to mention is freedom to dress the way we women want to dress. Want, wish, desire or expect are all the same thing. Here sometimes they might as well not get dressed at all, so the actress voicing her thoughts should have considered and chosen carefully what she said. I have a feeling she means being made to dress indecently to ensure the movie is a blockbuster. chandan aunty.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Sai Ram Sai Aanchal, thank you for correcting me. I understand. Will have to re-read both your comments again when I have some time. Love, chandan ji.

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