Friday, 2 October 2015

Delhi-Simla Memories- Part 5 - The Divine child at Dinner and Dessert

A beautiful family dinner
The setting in the lift-landing area just outside Swami's dining hall at the
International Centre.

Having witnessed the programme in the Dwarka grounds and returning to the International Centre, we immediately filed into the dining hall. We were touched that Swami would not begin any of His meals unless we were present. In fact, tonight, Swami was also just entering and taking His place at the table along with us. Seeing us, He told to enter and take our seats. I sat in the second chair facing Swami. I could see that Swami was being ‘prepared’ for the dinner by Satyajit. A napkin was gently placed on His robe. Our plates had already been served and we all awaited Swami’s instructions. Swami seemed to be objecting to all the items being served into His plate! It felt like seeing a little child at dinner time and, so, I smiled. Swami looked at me and smiled back sweetly. What magic exists in that smile! Ah! I felt raptures of delight course through me. His smile seemed to transfer itself to my lips for the next fifteen minutes at least.  Swami told us to start the prayer. Thus began the loud-throated and whole-hearted Brahmaarpanam.

I was closing my eyes all the while after those first time sign-instructions from Satyajit. But here and there, once in a while I took sneak peeks at Swami. What a sweet surprise it was for me that when I opened my eyes, Swami too was looking at me a couple of times. I noticed that He seemed to be eating at His fastest as we prayed. The pieces of Chapati with the curry went into His mouth quickly as we were praying. This is natural I felt for isn't He the Vaishvanara to whom we all offer the food to?

The prayer was soon completed and Swami told us to start eating. For about ten minutes after that we ate in perfect silence. I began to stealthily observe Swami for I could never take my eyes of  Him, whomsoever told me howsoever times! I felt that I was watching the Divine child, Rama or Krishna, being fed by the human mother. Here, the mother role seemed to have been taken up by Satyajit who kept putting things into Swami’s plate (based on His nutrition requirements I felt).

Swami was vehement in His refusal of some items. Many times He made such a pouting face that I cannot control my giggles. He literally pushed away the dishes which Satyajit was bringing to Him. But on occasions when He was ‘defeated’ and the food was placed in the plate, He seemed to resign to His fate and eat on! On one or two occasions, He saw me seeing the drama that was on between Him and Satyajit. Then He smiled a broad smile. It was like a minor cover up where He seemed to say,
“This is how it is always! So do not worry.”

A child among children, man among men, woman among women. When alone, He is God.

Swami was very inquisitive about all that He was eating.  After a while, He looked at Anil Kumar sir and asked,
Emi Anil Kumar. Aavakai thinnava? (What Anil Kumar? Did you eat the mango pickle?)”  
He responded,
“Swami today there is no Aavakai but they have served Gongura (pickle made of leaves). That Gongura is the crest jewel that has added meaning to all the dishes. Everything else is too Satwic!”
Swami had a broad smile and all of us laughed. I was amazed at the professor’s ability to bring a smile to the Lord. That is a blessed ability indeed.

{This is the 5th 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:

Special dessert session

Towards the end, Swami washed His hands in a special bowl. Dessert was now served. Various fruits had been sliced and threaded on sticks in barbecue style.  Swami seemed amused as we took those sticks and ate the fruit pieces. Just to make Him smile more, I asked for and took another such stick. I wasn’t disappointed as Swami beamed a smile again.

I wish that I could do all my actions in life with that single intention - to make my Swami smile. How beautiful and fulfilling life will be then!

The dessert brought out the child in Swami in the most wonderful manner.  He looked at the fruits that had been placed before Him. Pointing to one variety, He asked what it was. He was told that it was the Kiwi fruit. Swami said,
“I don’t want it. Looks like there are insects embedded in it!”

I looked at the cut Kiwi fruit that was adorning my stick. I saw the seeds in the centre. They indeed appeared like tiny fruit flies embedded in the fruit! I was struck by Swami’s sweet humour.
“They are seeds Swami...”
Swami did not listen. He just smiled and told all of us,
“Boys, there are many insects embedded here. It will all go into your stomachs!”
We laughed. We were all so happy seeing Him happy. He was so happy seeing us happy that He didn’t seem to want to eat anything. I understood that even literally, our bliss is His food!

After almost all the food in front of Him was cleared, Swami said, “The food is so Chappa (bland) here. There is no uppu (salt) or kharam (spice). The containers are all very nice to see. There is such a variety. But no variety in the food!”
He then called out,

As Cheema came to Him, Swami said,
“The food needs to be spiced up. People have come from so far, it is only proper  that they are fed properly.”
At this point, He asked Anil Kumar sir for his opinion and he just rephrased what Swami had said, “Swami the bowls are all excellent. Items are different but the food all taste the same – bland. If not for the Gongura, I would not be able to eat at all.”

Swami asked Balaram sir how the food was. He just smiled in response. Then He asked GV sir. GV sir said that the food quantity was too much and he was eating only curd. Some more fruits were brought in for Swami. This time, it was muskmelon. Swami put a piece in His mouth and said that it was not sweet at all. Giri sir  seemed to say in defence,
“Swami in that fruit, there is a less sugar but a lot of minerals…”
Swami cut him short,
“Now you don’t start that (nutrition) stuff! “ We all burst out laughing and Swami was looking at us and smiling. Swami added,
“Each person’s taste is his own.”

What a session it was turning out to be. We had totally forgotten that we were dining with the Lord. He was joking and being playful with everyone and it felt like one big family dining together. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam indeed where everyone believes in the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God.

Picture from the morning darshan on the 11th April when Swami wore a special-coloured and textured robe. 
When all of us were about to go for the handwash, Swami said that His feet were aching. I wiped my hands to the towel and was so tempted to ask Him whether I should massage His feet. Swami then looked at Jagdish, CG and myself and said something about the evening’s programme.  CG replied,
“Swami the programme was done by Balvikas children.”
Swami nodded and then said something that none of us expected to hear,
“I have not slept properly for the past two days. Ever since I started from Parthi, I have been in the chair like this. It aches all over. And naturally so right? I am 85 years now!”

What were we to say? I had heard Swami state many times in discourses that though His body is 75, nobody can believe that it is so. This opposing tone was a first for me. Quickly, my mind went to the timeless toil that Swami’s body had engaged in over the past eight decades ever since it had been a child of five years. Any human frame would have collapsed with such effort and activity. Just because it was the divine frame, it was holding on through the glue of Divine will.
{To get a glimpse of what the Divine Frame achieved even as a child, please watch the 12-episode serial, Sathya To Sai, brought to you by Radiosai Global Harmony.}

Swami told the elders to rise after the food. Then, He saw half a dozen empty bowls in front of Him. He collected the bowls and asked Cheema to take them away. He spoke gently under His breath,
“What is the use of so many varieties of bowls when th food in them is of same bland quality? (or something to that effect.)? He told Cheema once more that the food should be spiced up. Then He retired and all of us too returned to our rooms. It had been more than a three course meal because the main course had been the delightful interactions with the Lord.

Anything at the Lotus Feet gets sanctified and blessed.
11th April 2010

The third day of our trip dawned at 5:30 am with the wake-up call from Harish Mani. He was the harmonium player of the group with the connecting music pieces of over thousand songs at his fingertips. He was also one of the earliest risers in the group. I had requested him to wake me up everyday as he rose. Realizing that his rising time could go as early as 4:00 am at times, I had told him to wake me after he was all ready! I wanted to wake early because it was the only time of the day when I could make my diary entries of all the happenings of the previous day.
Recollecting His interactions was such a meditative experience that as I typed, I lost track of time. It was such a blissful experience, recollecting moments with the Master. It felt as though I was living it again. So lost was I that it was soon time for breakfast! The feeding frenzy of the past couple of days and the bliss of reliving the experiences was so much that I skipped breakfast. When one is in bliss, one gives up happiness! No wonder that this was the inspiration for Dr.T.Ravikumar’s response to Swami’s question on the difference between happiness and bliss!

After everyone had finished breakfast, we had a discussion. We felt it was better that we wait at Swami’s residence itself instead of relying on someone else to convey the message of His arrival to us. We went into Swami’s residence building, to the third floor, and waited there for Him to arrive.  Here too I continued typing away at the laptop. I felt that this was among the most important things I could do during the entire visit.

As we waited, we could hear the elders discussing the forthcoming evening programme in the Indian Parliament premises. GV sir had his talk scheduled and I thought that I saw him a tad nervous for the first time in my life. I knew that  he had put in several weeks of efforts into the talk and, along with him, CG too had worked on getting a wonderful powerpoint presentation. GV sir proposed to the others that  it would be a good idea if all the students sang ‘Aha Raha Tava’, Swami’s modified version of the Indian National Anthem written by Acharya Rabindranath Tagore, at the end of the session.

A grab from the teleserial "Shirdi Sai Parthi Sai Divyakatha" with Swami singing
Aha Raha Tava.

It was 10:40am. Swami arrived from His room and all the elders told Him about the schedule for the morning. Swami began to move towards the lift to go down and grant darshan. While passing by him, Swami told GV sir that he should speak in the evening. GV sir was very happy and thanking Swami, he took padanamaskar. Swami then moved down via the lift. The bhajans had been going on and all were waiting for darshan. At the entrance of the building, there was another couple. I do not know the names of all these people but a ‘chance’ had been institutionalized at the entrance of the International Centre. Daily a couple (possibly from among the earliest devotees of Swami) would stand there and offer roses and salutations to Swami.

At the entrance of Swami's residence building. Swami's stayed in a room on the third floor of this building.
I must mention that this day, Swami was dressed in a new-colour, shiny robe. It was the saffron variety of the golden one He had worn for the 84th birthday it seemed. As Swami exited the building, I saw that my father was seated in the fifth line instead of the first or second. That in itself gave me an idea of the huge crowds that had gathered since it was a Sunday. CG and I walked along side Swami till the stage and taking videos and photos. The sight of the gathering confirmed my surmise of the increased devotee gathering.

As Swami went down the stage, all the people went down prayerfully on their knees.

When Swami moved to the stage, Satyajit asked Swami whether He would like to go down along the aisle so that the devotees could see Him from close. Swami agreed and instantly, there was joy. Everyone sensed that Swami was moving down.  Coming down the ramp from the gents’ side,  He began to move through the central aisle. People were very thrilled and they got an opportunity to offer letters to Him. I moved along with Swami, on the sidelines taking pictures. It was such a wonderful sight as people slaked their thirst for His darshan. I could feel the powerful devotional current that was streaming in from all sides. It was amazing how much Swami meant to each and every person in the gathering! Swami moved more that midway through the gathered thousands. I saw that the path was ending in a step and there was no way for Swami’s chair to proceed further. I indicated the same to Satyajit. At that point, Swami turned back and retraced His path. Returning to the stage, Swami sat for a few more bhajans. I used the D200 and coupling it with my 80-400 mm VR lens, took some nice close-ups. Soon, Swami beckoned for Aarthi. Prasadam was blessed for distribution after which Swami moved back into the building via the ramp.

We knew that in an hour’s time, it would be again a magical gathering at the Lotus feet for lunch. What we did not know was that a really ‘hot’ surprise awaited us!

to be continued in Part 6 at the link given below:

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Thank you for your thoughts, wishes and prayers sister. :)


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  2. Sai Ram Aravind this is wonderful, Yet again I am seated next to you, experiencing all that you experienced in 2010. Swami says don't live in the past , forget about the future just live in the present. But our past is filled with experiences with Him, thoughts of Him and lessons from Him and since recollection of these give us so much bliss and guidance we can't but help it and go back and delve into the past. Well today I am commenting in the present and not 3 yrs after you wrote an article about the past. When Swami took Mahasamadhi and I found out pretty soon after I didn't cry. Not till I started watching and following on the computer the prayers and chants His boys were carrying out. That's when I cried and my tears and heartache were for His students both boys and girls and the pain they felt and despite that they stoically sat through it all and those that had duties to perform did so, yet throughout discipline and love was maintained. My heart was filled with love and gratitude for you all since you were also doing for us devotees who couldn't be there. I haven't been back to PN since 1992 but both in 1991 and 1992 while flying to PN I experienced what Swami meant by 'I am within all and all are within ME while looking out of the cabin window' so I didn't feel the need for tears. It's 2015 and have I moved forward? I think that if I had given up everything and become a sanyasi I would be self- realised by now, sadly i'm not but Swami as usual is right. It can be done easily be done by getting rid of our luggage. I have a lot to get rid off still so it's taking me a while. I have moments of seeing God everywhere now. The next step is to do it continuously. I first started looking for Baba in everyone because He said see ME in everyone. Not a good idea. When frustration sets in because you can't do you have to ask yourself why is it happening to me? Oh right I have to look for good in everyone. That sounds about right and after a short while you start seeing a lot of good people but the bad is still out there. When it is time for you to get the picture the answer turns up and in m case It was Dr & St Sola and his Beyond Freedom video. Bingo my ego and my monkey mind was unknowingly causing me problems. Understanding arises that I have to delve deep within me to find what is stopping progress and honestly examine my thoughts. The lengths of time I see Him in all has increased. Now comes Reaction, reflection and resound. I practised and things were looking even rosier. That's where i'm up to. Oh I was born in '53 so will it be ok to call you beta sometimes? And now you know how I see you please don't get embarrass when I praise you as all is Sai Baba. Chandanben.

    1. Sairam aunty,

      You can definitely call me beta for that is the appropriate term! :)

      Thank you for your kind words and recollections...

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    3. Sai Ram Aravind beta, can you answer a question for me please? You know the vibbuthi packets of vibbuthi they sell inside PN? Do you know what it is made off? My grandchildren are always asking me for it but their mum has banned me from giving them any. My son wants me too but I don't like going behind her back and she will find out as kids can't keep secrets. My nephew told her what the dictionary description is.Thank you, Jai Sai Ram, Chandanben.

    4. Sai Ram Sai Aanchal, thank you for the respect and kind words. Now, the Ji I'll take but no I'm not revered lol. I'll pass that on to my mother who is 85 yrs old, has the memory of an elephant and oozes wisdom and is very humble. Loving regards. Chandanben

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    6. Sai Ram Sai Aanchal, I got to meet my maternal grandmother finally in 1984 and thinking about it today I am 100% sure that that was due to Swami. Due to unforeseen reasons I arrived with my 3 yrs old son 2 weeks after my group and missed our group interview with Swami. Because my son was small I also was made to sit outside but we had very good darshan. We stayed only a week as my mother waited for me before going home to Gujarat to see her mum and it being my first visit to India she was worried how I'd cope. If I had got to PN on time I would have had to share our Ma's attention with 2 of my sisters who had had schooling in India and missed the opportunity of having her to myself. My other grandparents died years before. Yes grandparents are wonderful and i am grateful to Swami that i met at least one. This is how it works. Aravind made me remember so many experiences and feelings, I express my thoughts, you shared a most wondeful experience and express your thoughts and i in turn remember the wonderful experience with my grandmother and realisation that although that year i had missed an interview Swami gave me one of my heart's desire. Aravind is doing us great seva as by reliving his experiences with us he helps us relive ours and find new and deeper meaning in ours. And do you know what? All this happened bcause I embarassed Aravind (he says i can call him beta) by praising him which was from my heart and all this is again because of Swami. Aravind beta i hope you read this and have stopped being embarassd by me but what I am saying now is for all. Swami earmarked certain students for certain jobs and this is yours. Times when he would look deep into you was when he imparted knowledge to you so that what you write has such deep meaning. God is indeed talent. You Sai Aanchal also learnt first hand that if you look at others with love you get it back in return. Bless both you Aravind and Sai Aanchal. Loving regards, chandanben.

    7. Sai Ram Sai Aanchal, I replied to your last message but it hasn't been posted so I don't know if it was received by Aravind since the local area internet service went down after I posted it. I'll keep this short in case the other one gets posted. What a wonderful experience with the rabbit. You must have spent the rest of the day with a joyful smile on your face. See when the time is right you somehow get the message and it's really easy to achieve because you were ready to understand? We are always able to understand but don't simply because we are not ready. Too much luggage as swami calls it. Where do you live so that you found a wild rabbit so easily? I live in England. Loving regards, Chandanben.

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    9. Sai Ram Sai Aanchal, Chandrigarh sounds like a very beautiful place with deep spiritual roots to live in. loving regards, chandan ji.

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  3. Sairam brother Aravind,

    I really loved these lines - "I felt that I was watching the Divine child, Rama or Krishna, being fed by the human mother. Here, the mother role seemed to have been taken up by Satyajit who kept putting things into Swami’s plate"

    When I read them,I could see our beloved Swami as a beautiful mischievous baby Krishna, who is eating the food, just to make us happy :) These lines were visual treat to me!

    Thanks for writing this beautiful post.. Feels like I am with Swami and experiencing all this!

    May Swami be with you always! Please keep writing and make us feel closer to Swami.


    Rashmi Ganesh

    1. Glad that you are enjoying it sister. Thank you for your prayer.... I too pray that I keep writing for it sustains me and gives me joy...

  4. Sairam. I am so happy to read these beautiful Bagavan's memories.
    He is in our heart. Thank you so much for sharing your experience !

  5. God bless you for sharing the momentous moments of anandha with

  6. Sairam, I can imagine how blissful you could have been with those smiles and glances of eye contact from swamy. For us, swamy blessed with close eye contacts 2 times and even now if I manage to bring itnto my memory, I get a shiver and feel need to say how it was during the actual incident and immediate weeks after that. So thanks for sharing those intimate moments.
    Balamuralikrishnan S

  7. Ahara hatava is not Swami's version. It is part of the original Jana Gana Mana. Only some paragraphs are used as National Anthem. Check the Wiki page for Jana Gana Mana.

    1. Oh yes it is mr/ms anonymous! I have already checked the page you mention. The words there are in Sanskrit which are pronounced with a thick Bengali accent. Swami's version has the pure Sanskrit pronunciation and has a couple of changes.

      That is why I called it "Swami's version" in the first place and not as Swami's composition. :)

      You can listen to it at the link below and understand better what I am telling you.

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    3. Thank you sister... :)

      That's an elaborate explanation...

  8. Jeevitha Srinivasa14 October 2015 at 13:11

    Sairam Brother,
    Your writings are just amazing! We can actually feel and experience your visit to Delhi :)
    You have been so lucky to witness Swamy as a Sai Krishna and share smiles with him!
    These blogs are indeed making us feel those moments! Thank u!! :)

  9. Jeevitha Srinivasa14 October 2015 at 13:13

    Sairam Brother,
    Your writings are just amazing! We can actually feel and experience your visit to Delhi :)
    You have been so lucky to witness Swamy as a Sai Krishna and share smiles with him!
    These blogs are indeed making us feel those moments! Thank u!!

  10. Jeevitha Srinivasa14 October 2015 at 13:30

    Sairam Brother,
    Your writings are just amazing! We can actually feel and experience your visit to Delhi :)
    You have been so lucky to witness Swamy as a Sai Krishna and share smiles with him!
    These blogs are indeed making us feel those moments! Thank u!!


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