Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Hadshi Mumbai diaries - Part 3 - Welcome to Hadshi

Swami moves from the aircraft into the vestibule-lift at the Pune airport
Happy landing? Ultimately yes, but a lot of uncertainty for me

The Pune airport, where we were scheduled to land is a ‘complicated’ airport. It is shared between civilian and military aircraft and thus, extra rules and regulations exist there which complicate life for the normal traveller at times. Some of the elders had scared us - especially the ones with cameras - that we ought to be very careful at Pune. Our cameras might be snatched away for security reasons, they had warned us. Even as the plane landed, I could see a plethora of dignitaries who had arrived to welcome Swami. 

(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.

Hadshi Mumbai diaries - Part 1 - The Blessing Materializes)

Prominent among them was the former Lok Sabha speaker, Sri Shivraj Patil. Hordes of security people hovered around the craft and a couple of them even came and sealed the back exit, damming us within the plane. The elder Jadhav, Mr. Uttamrao, himself was literally held hostage at the back exit of the plane due to the guards. CG and I were also held up, but then I told the security personnel,
“See, all those important persons will want a photo with Swami. In case they ask us why we did not capture images, we will have to blame you. So please let us go there.”
I had a look at the name on his badge as I spoke. He reluctantly said that he would permit one of us to go. I asked CG to go since a video camera captures more than a photograph. If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine a moving picture!

CG went to shoot no doubt, but very soon, he also went away in the divine convoy! Meanwhile, I was at the plane’s rear with the Jadhavs and the State President of the Maharashtra Sathya SAi Seva Organisation, Mr. Ramesh Sawant. As I got down from the plane, I got to know that the entourage would be proceeding to Hadshi in a specially arranged bus. Swami would be visiting the Jadhav residence in Pune before driving to Hadshi. Now, I began to envy CG’s good fortune and began thinking how I too could go to the Jadhav residence.

I saw Mr. Sawant running in another direction. I caught up with him and asked,
“Uncle can I come with you?”
“Sure”, he said with a look of surprise. I was under the wrong impression that he would also be going to the Jadhav residence. Even as I realized that I had been wrong in my assumption, I saw the elder Jadhav brother hop into an Audi SUV. I was barefoot and I ran, camera around my neck, towards the SUV in the hot sun. Luckily, the vehicle slowed down and I pressed my face against the window glass. The Jadhav recognised me as the photographer on board the flight and asked me whether I would join him. I nodded gladly and in moments, was cooling off in the super-power air conditioner of the car. Apparently, the younger Jadhav was already at home and the elder brother beside me was Swami’s escort from Puttaparthi who had got left behind.. All the other boys, in the meanwhile, were being transported to Hadshi in a luxury bus.

In the car, Mr. Uttamrao asked me what I intended to do when I reached his residence. I had no idea about anything and I told him that I would ‘see’ what had to be done.
“It will be impossible to get into the house there. Knowing the huge crowd that Swami attracts, security has been arranged so that nobody other than the family gets into the house. So here, take this badge. It is a ‘Family’ badge and now you will also be allowed in.”
I gratefully accepted the badge. It struck me as very singular that when you work for God, the entire world becomes your ‘family’ in no time. My only credentials were that I was ‘Swami’s photographer’ and here was Mr. Uttamrao instantly making me part of the Jadhav family! That is His magic!

The happy luncheon session at the Jadhav home wherein Swami ate almost nothing and used the visit to
bless all the family members. 
By the time we reached the home of the Jadhavs, Swami was already there at their dining table. I flashed my ‘Family’ card to gain entry into the home. I saw CG in a far corner of the large hall, busy capturing visuals which posterity would appreciate. I too moved in slowly and took up a position nearby.

Swami was at a dining table and a ‘host’ of people surrounded Him in the pretext of serving Him. In India, it is tradition that one’s love and appreciation towards the guest is directly proportional to the amount of food that one can feed that guest! It seemed as though Swami had become a victim of this tradition! He was being served from more than 20-30 dishes that had been prepared. However, in His plate were not more than a few morsels of food!

Swami's smile is so cute and sweet! Here, the younger Jadhav
washes the Divine hand after the meal.
I have not had many chances to see Swami dine from such close quarters and have mostly let my imagination fill in the gaps as to how it might be. That day as I saw Him, Swami felt so human! He saw me and, suddenly, a smile of recognition lit up His face. Everyone looked up to see who was receiving this lovely smile from the Lord. I felt very special. That smile was to have a lingering role as we shall see later!

Swami was asking about the different items on the menu, though He was not eating everything. He seemed interested in a particular type of vada (a fried, Indian delicacy). More of it was brought accordingly, but Swami did not take anymore. Now an interesting episode took place. Mr. Shivajirao Jadhav's wife entered with a plate filled with eats. Swami asked,
"What is that?"
Mr. Jadhav replied, “Swami, the same saboodana vada. She has cut it to small, conveniently-sized pieces for You to eat."
Swami was so pleased at this attention to detail! As a reward, He accepted a few pieces. He then asked Mr. Srinivasan and Satyajit to have a few tidbits as well. As CG and I shot pictures, both of us were offered fruit salad. I was feeling quite hungry because I had not eaten anything since morning (I had skipped the in-flight breakfast to click photographs)! But as the Divine sight was on us, we politely declined. And Bhagavan seemed satisfied and happy at the way we had conducted ourselves.

Swami soon finished the meal and blessed all the members of the family. To a lad who wanted to pursue MBA after finishing his BCom, Swami advised to do Chartered Accountancy as it would come useful for the family’s business. As He slowly moved out, Swami was told that all would be going to Hadshi. Shortly, aarthi was taken and I was the lead singer simply by the sheer absence of any other singers nearby!

The Lord's visit is never a secret! Crowds had already gathered in Pune to catch a glimpse of the lovable form in orange.
And so began the drive from Pune to Hadshi. I was in Mr. Uttamrao Jadhav's car and, talking to him, I found out about how they had organized the Latur-Chakur trip as well. He told me,
"This visit to our home was a last minute job. Swami agreed to bless us in this fashion out of the blue. Therefore, the arrangements were not so good. See the arrangements we have made at Hadshi."
“Wow!” I thought, “If this was supposed to be a ‘last minute job’, I want to see their thorough arrangements!”
He further acknowledged, “Swami was so very happy when He saw you. You students are loved so dearly by Him! It is amazing.”
I could only trace all this admiration and respect to one source – that single smile from dear Swami!

We were the third car behind Swami's Toyota Estima on the journey
from Pune to Hadshi. 

Before long, we could see the beautiful Mandir atop the hill from a distance. All along the way, hundreds of villagers stood in awe and devotion as Swami's car passed by. Many of them did not seem to know which vehicle to look at, thanks to over a dozen cars arranged by the Jadhavs, which were all similar to Swami's Toyota Estima! Once the climb began, I had a glimpse of the arrangements. The entire road to the top was lined with children and devotees welcoming Swami with flags, placards and ribbons. At every hairpin bend were beautiful posters carrying His message and teachings. All along the way were banners inviting Bhagawan to Pandurang Kshetra. Yes! That was the name for Swami’s shrine at Hadshi.

All along the way, for dozens of kilometers, people lined the road. There were also many arches and
banners which I photographed from the moving vehicle. 
We presently arrived at the main entrance of the grand "fortress-temple" that towered over us. I jumped out of the vehicle to march in front of Swami's car on foot, taking photographs all along. Little did I realize that there was almost half a kilometre to be traversed before the final destination! Music from the bands reverberated in the air. Little boys wearing orange turbans with cymbals in hand welcomed Swami. It was a real "red-carpet" reception for Bhagavan, right up to His residence. The entire stretch had been barricaded but nothing could prevent the fervent prayers and passionate longing of the people from reaching the Lord. Mr. Uttamrao Jadhav, the elder brother, was in a devotional fervour as he, alighting from the car, moved amidst the people egging them to sing aloud and rejoice, for the Lord had arrived. His enthusiasm was highly infectious!

A view of the sea of humanity at Hadshi, waiting to welcome Swami.
Traditionally dressed Maharashtrian village women with pots balancing delicately on their heads were also part of the welcome team. Everyone was so thrilled at the mere sight of Swami’s car. The red carpet now gave way to a green one and a congregation chanting Vedic hymns began to lead the procession. Soon we arrived at the Residence. A shehnai artist accompanied by percussionists filled the ambience with welcome tunes. In fact this was to become a daily feature during the entire period of our stay - a shehnai artist playing music outside the Residence as it was done outside the palaces of emperors! The members of the Jadhav family had lined up at the final stretch before the divine home. A beautiful, circular rangol, about two metres in diameter, adorned the entrance with the words ‘Aum Sri Sai Ram’ etched in Devanagari script.

The drive-through in Hadshi, at the Pandurangakshetra itself was about a kilometer long.
A pink ribbon fastened across the door awaited the inaugural snip from His hand. I wanted to rush in to take pictures from the inside but was rudely prevented. This time the younger Jadhav brother issued instructions that I was not to be stopped and must be given complete access! Again, the power of the Smile I had received at the Jadhavs’ residence in Pune… So it was that I could get a photo of Bhagavan inaugurating the Mandir and arriving inside.

The magnificent Residence building which Swami inaugurated by cutting a pink ribbon. 
A golden rose lay on Swami’s lap, offered by a devotee. As soon as Swami came into the Mandir, the Jadhavs washed His feet, and collected the sacred water into a silver plate to be taken as teertham (holy water) by the privileged family. Aarthi was then performed as all the members of the family gathered before the Lord.

A note here about the Jadhav family – The total number of members ran in excess of two hundred and the family tree had multiple branches, twigs and leaves! They seemed to be harvesting the fruits of joy and satisfaction which the Gardener had delivered to them. Since this was a huge ‘tree’, only the 'trunk' and 'primary branches' were in the Residence and they added up to almost twenty to thirty members!

Their large and airy home had four guest rooms, one at each of the corners of the rectangular hall. Swami’s dining table stood at the northern side of the hall, while about half a dozen other tables for the guests were arranged at the southern end.

Swami moved across the length of the entire hall and had a look at the four rooms. He was immensely pleased with the meticulous care and effort of the Jadhavs. In the south-east corner of the House stood the kitchen, where the youth waited for Swami. They were the youth from Mumbai and Maharashtra who had been chosen to serve Swami and His guests for the trip. Swami blessed them.

Meanwhile, the rest of the students who had been driven down by bus straight from the Pune airport arrived. Swami was very happy to see them, even as He moved towards the lift which was a small enclosure with a grilled gate inside and a wooden door outside. It was just sufficient for Swami's chair and Satyajit. As He entered the lift, Swami brought the index finger and the thumb of His hand together to gesture the sign ‘excellent’ and said,
"It is so nice here. There are all facilities (anukoolanu) for everyone to stay comfortably."

Swami was very happy with the facilities for all as He moved into the lift to go to His room. 
Swami then went up to His room which was in the northwest corner of the Residence. There was a huge atrium in this one-storeyed building to allow natural light from the sky to fill the house. This central area had a wooden parapet and from here Swami saw all of us gathered below as He moved to His room as He retired for the afternoon.

After this, we did a silent Brahmaarpanam (the food prayer) and had a hearty meal. Soon after, we were shown our living quarters. There were three double rooms and each one contained six cots. Ah! The beds were so inviting. We dived into them instantly to stretch out our tired bodies.
After an hour’s rest, we were back in the Mandir.

(I call the Residence as the Mandir, for that is the term for the place where God resides.) We waited down in the area resembling a verandah and soon, Swami came down the lift. He called all the elders to have tiffin with Him. And so, Prof. G. Venkataraman, Mr. S.V. Giri, Dr. Dash, Mr. Gokal Das, Mr. Balaram and Mr. Naganand occupied the table along with Swami.

After they had finished, Swami asked for their plates to be cleared and fresh ones laid. He also supervised the dishes served, and then He beckoned me! I was taken aback and realized with excitement that Swami was inviting me to eat at His table. I was so delighted that I quickly found myself there. He continued, "Mugguru mugguru ikkada kuchondi (Three each sit on either side).” I called out for a few others and soon Phaneendra, KVSK Ganesh, Aravind Sai, Sai Dath, Nishikant and myself were at His table seeing Him for most of the time with momentary glances at the items served on our plates!

The rest of the boys now filled the other tables and soon a thundering Brahmaarpanam began. Everyone around me seemed to close their eyes. I however opened mine as wide as possible and drank in deep the darshan of sweet Swami. I was feeling so privileged. I am sure I have done nothing to deserve this but as He says, "If you love me, you deserve me!" I was feeling such a surge of happiness welling in me. I managed to look at Neeraj Acharya and asked him to take a snap of that glorious moment! Swami then told us to start eating.

Sitting at the farthest end to Swami's right, it was an unbelievable opportunity to dine with Him.
As I began, Swami asked me, "Ay photographer, nee video cameraman ekkada?" (Photographer! Where is your video camera man?)
I quickly rose and called out to CG who was at another table. He came forward. Swami saw him and then asked him to return and eat well. Again I was so happy that at the physical level Swami had identified me as something – a photographer! He told all of us that we would not eat well if He was there! And so, He left saying He would be back in a while by which time we should have filled our stomachs freely.

I ate with trembling excitement and soon Sai Krishna told me that the privilege we had been blessed with was not bestowed upon anyone even in Kodaikanal – sharing the table with Swami! Once we were done, we waited once again to receive Him.

to be continued in Part 4 located at the below link:

Hadshi Mumbai diaries - Part 4 - A shrine is born

For all readers:

(If you enjoyed this and wish to subscribe to this blog, please go to the right hand side and choose the last 'box' which says subscribe. Also explore the 60-odd 'previous articles' listed month-wise on the top right here. Another blog which I maintain with more than 230 articles on it is at http://aravindb1982.hubpages.com. If you wish to be added to my mailing list, please email me via this page with the subject "ADD ME TO MAILING LIST".)

Friday, 25 April 2014

Hadshi Mumbai diaries - Part 2 - First flight with God

Swami's 2001 visit to Latur and Chakur

There were experiences galore as the construction of the Mandir progressed in right earnest in Latur. It was a daunting task no doubt, but the Jadhavs felt the comforting Divine presence throughout the period in so many ways. For instance, the holy ash, Vibhuti manifested copiously from a photograph of Shirdi Sai Baba. And on another occasion, they saw Swami’s face replace that of Lord Vitthala in a large picture! The miracle happened in plain sight for all to see.

A full-sized capture of Swami near
the residence of Sri.S.B.Chavan at Nanded.

Photo Credit: S.Balasubramanya
It was in 1999 that the Jadhavs returned to Puttaparthi to inform Swami that everything would be ready in twelve months’ time. At that time, Swami said, "Not one but two years." Perhaps, Swami had heard it wrong, they thought, and so Mr. Uttamrao Jadhav repeated,
"Swami, it will take only one more year."
"No! It will take two years," Swami clarified again.

(This is part 2 of the serial. Ensure that you have complete joy by reading from the beginning. The first part is given below:

Hadshi Mumbai diaries - Part 1 - The blessing materializes )

The Jadhavs had no doubt that the temple would not get ready before 2001. In perfect accordance with the Divine words, everything was ready and set in the year 2001. The historic visit to Latur and Chakur finally did materialize. Swami fulfilled the promise of sitting in the golden chariot that had been created especially for Him. The experiences and details of that Divine trip is part of the folklore in the Marathawada region and it needs to be documented as another separate book, but for the record, here is a brief account. I shall switch from my detailed ‘running commentary’ to a quick ‘galloping commentary’ before returning to the Hadshi trip.

July 15, 2001 was the glorious day when Swami left for Latur by a special plane which took off from the Sri Sathya Sai Airport at Puttaparthi at about 7.30 a.m. The journey was made in an hour. The then Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr. Vilasrao Deshmukh and his Cabinet colleagues, former Home Minister of India, Mr. S. B. Chavan, the Lok Sabha Speaker, Mr. Shivraj Patil and other dignitaries welcomed Baba on His arrival at Latur airbase at 8.35 a.m. When the motorcade proceeded towards the town, masses of people in their traditional costumes lined the entire route to offer Bhagavan their respectful salutations. The road was decorated with beautiful arches and welcome gates depicting Baba's teachings in Marathi and English.

At Latur, Swami addressed a congregation of intellectuals at the residence of the local M.L.A, Mr. Diliprao Deshmukh. Bhagavan also gave darshan to devotees at the residences of Mr. Vilasrao Deshmukh, Mr. Shivraj Patil and Mr. Uttamrao Jadhav.

On the following day, Swami went to “Sai Nandanavanam”, a temple built for Him in Chakur. At the entrance of this edifice, Baba ascended the magnificent golden chariot and traveled a distance of 1.5 kms. Mammoth crowds of devotees hailed Bhagawan with full throated shouts of `Sai Ki Jai, Jai Jai Sai'. The entire area was vibrant with colourful banners, flowers, buntings, lanterns, garlands, flags and huge gates; everywhere there were impressive displays of His sayings and teachings in local languages as well as in English.

Bhagawan charging and lending life to the Shiva Linga at the main temple in Latur. The two Jadhav brothersare also seen. The elder Uttamrao, has a towel on his left hand while the younger, Shivajirao is applauding. Photo Credit: S.Balasubramanya

At the Shivalaya (temple dedicated to Lord Shiva), Swami was given a traditional welcome with the Poorna­kumbham. Bhagawan lit the sacred lamp, then placed His hand on the Shivalinga surcharging it with Divine energy. He consecrated the other idols in the Prayer Hall as well as those in the surrounding nine temples. At two in the afternoon, after a few public speeches by elders, Swami blessed the crowd with a Divine Discourse.

Swami addressing a huge gathering in Chakur. There were two translators for the discourse that day - Prof. Anil Kumar for English and Sri Shivaraj Patil for Marathi. Photo Credit: S.Balasubramanya
The next day, Swami proceeded by road to Nanded. This city presented a multi-hued look as lively decorations beautified every corner. Baba arrived at the residence of Mr. S. B. Chavan and showered the bliss of His darshan on the devotees gathered there. In fact, this visit of Baba was the fulfillment of a promise He had given to Mr. Shankar Rao Chavan, the father of S.B. Chavan, about 25 years ago! Swami had told him that He would visit his house when He came to the state for the inauguration of a temple.

At 12.55 p.m., Bhagavan came to Sri Guru Gobind Singhji Stadium to bless the devotees gathered there with His darshan. All of a sudden, Swami advanced the timings for the programme. His enchanting discourse concluded early in the evening itself. He seemed to be in a great hurry and everyone was wondering why. Soon, everything became clear as the hitherto blue sky was covered with thick rain-bearing clouds! Nanded had not yet received its share of rains for the year and everyone seemed to be praying for it. No sooner had Bhagavan completed the discourse and His aircraft left the skies of that city, there was a heavy downpour. It was as if Bhagavan willed to answer the sincere pleas of the devotees instantaneously! It was undoubtedly a memorable trip for anyone who was a witness or a part of it.

Everyone was filled with beautiful memories of their Lord who showered immense grace on one and all in
the Marathwada region
Photo Credit: S.Balasubramanya
The D Day arrives

This being the history of the Jadhav brothers with Swami and of Swami with the Marathwada region in Maharashtra, I was so excited about the divine odyssey to Hadshi, the second ‘pilgrimage spot’ created by the Jadhav brothers. A confirmation list would be announced, we were told, and so, I eagerly waited everyday for that call which would say “Yes, you are in!"

The mind is so funny. My heart asked me in an absolutely confounded tone,
“Swami called you into the interview room and asked for your name to be written. What further confirmation do you seek?”
But the mind kept grumbling, “You never know how things can change with Swami. You are meant to love His uncertainties! So you better be prepared for everything!” And I, though mostly on the side of the heart, cannot say with authority that I wasn't troubled by the mind!

It was on the 26th of October that we were all called to the University’s Administrative Block and the good, nay the best news was communicated. Ah! My joy knew no bounds that day, and I began preparations in full gusto for the D-date, October 28, 2009.

Finally the day dawned – the culmination of many a sleepless night when butterflies romped freely in my stomach. By 6:15 a.m., we had all assembled in the hostel for Senior Students feasting on a breakfast specially arranged for us. At 7 a.m., we were in the airport completing all the formalities of the check-in. A Jet Airways Boeing 737 was to ferry us along with our Beloved Lord to Pune. Soon, we entered the aircraft and took our allotted seats. Within ten minutes, news arrived that Swami was on His way.

It was at this point I realized that the memory chip of my cell phone was not in the phone where it is meant to be! Perhaps it had fallen off when I had accidentally dropped my cell phone on the tarmac. Frantically I rushed out of the plane with Ravi Bhaiya. Imagine my delight when, within a minute of searching, I found the tiny card on that huge road!

Swami arrives to enter the flight via the vestibule life. 
How I had become aware of the missing chip is an interesting episode in itself. Sitting in the flight, I had noticed that on the display of my mobile, there was some other image instead of the usual photo of Swami. I tried to restore that picture on the screen as the wallpaper but was unable to do it as I could not find the photo. I wondered where the photo which I had stored gone? That was when I realized that the folder where I kept the picture was missing which made it evident to me that the memory chip had gone.

Well, that I understood, is the advantage of keeping God as your “screen saver” in life too - you become aware of your problems which can then get sorted automatically!

Dream flight

Swami arrived and boarded the aircraft through a huge vestibule lift. I was right in the front with Sai Prakash (whom everyone fondly calls CG) who was shooting the video while I was taking pictures. I actually moved close to the window of Swami’s seat in the Executive class section of the aircraft. After brother Satyajit had Swami seated, I moved out to the aisle ensuring that my leg does not touch Swami. Swami seemed to be in very good spirits and He was definitely excited about the trip like a child. This was a side of Swami that I was privileged to see – a facet so human and intimate! The members of cabin crew now began to take padanamaskar, one after another, and I went to a prime position to take their photos. Finally, when everyone had got their opportunity, I asked Swami whether I could take a picture of Him. Considering the absence of resistance as permission, I went ahead and clicked twice. Oh! How lovely He looked!

A sweet and lovely smile which He gifted just before take-off. He is buckled and all
set for the flight! The elder Jadhav brother is in the seat right behind Swami.
The flight was ready for takeoff and I quickly returned to my seat. Now the safety precautions to be observed on the flight were being demonstrated. It was an interesting sight to see the usually unemotional face of the steward become tense as if in awe at the Presence in which he was standing and making his presentation. He did his duty sincerely. The announcement was,
“In case of a drop in cabin pressure, masks will descend. Please put them on first before helping others…”
“When the provider of air to the lungs of all beings is amidst us, why should one fear about the ‘fall’ in air pressure”, I thought with a smile to myself.
“In case of an emergency landing on water, the seat below will act as a flotation device...”
“Ah! Don’t you know that Swami is a specialist at saving people flailing and struggling in this Bhavasagara, the ocean of life”, I almost spoke aloud!
It is such a different feeling boarding an aircraft knowing that Swami is with you.

The words have been taken from Swami's letter to Charles Penn.
As we taxied down the runway, we saw hundreds of people wave to us from the road. Not actually “us” but to Swami! But just like the monkeys in the painting alongside Lord Sri Rama in the Coronation scene also get a part of the adoration due to the Lord, we too received the devotees’ loving gaze. Moving slowly to the eastern end of the runway, the aircraft turned around. Facing the west now, the flight thundered down the runway and, soon we were airborne! Up in the skies with Swami! The very thought excited me. I have travelled many a times by flight, but never had I been so thrilled.

Hundreds and thousands of people lined the airport fence in the hope of catching a glimpse of Swami in the front window of the aircraft.
It was past 8:40 a.m. and soon we were cruising comfortably towards Pune. The refreshments arrived presently, but all the while, my concentration was at the front end of the aircraft where the Goal of my life was seated. He was being ‘entertained’ by small talk from the All India President (AIP) of the Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, Sri V. Srinivasan and Mr. Balaram, a long-standing devotee. Unable to hold back any longer, I went ahead and took a few pictures from behind Swami.

Imagine being in a flight where the front seat has been occupied by the goal of your life!
Returning to my place, I saw that the breakfast had been served. As I munched on my food, I noticed that the members of the cabin crew were making the best possible use of their flight time to get photographs with Swami, taking pictures with cell phone cameras!

I felt it would be better to capture these invaluable moments on a professional camera. Calling CG, I went ahead and got into the seat beside Mr. Ratnakar and started clicking pictures.

All the crew members took turns to speak to and interact with Swami - a great chance for them all!
Meanwhile, GV Sir (that is the popular name for Prof. G. Venkataraman, an eminent scientist and currently the Director of the Radio Sai studios) got up and moved to the front. He told the AIP and the people in the seats behind to shut the windows (and I am sure mentally told himself, “There! I have taken care of the problem of backlight.”) and took a picture. Sensing the opportune moment and also utilizing the better photographic settings created by the meticulous professor, I too moved forward and took photos of Swami with the entire cabin. It was another nice frame (that picture is shown above with Swami's quote that He wrote in a letter to Charles Penn.)

When Swami saw CG shooting, He asked as to why there was no flash. That was so sweet I felt. CG replied that it was a video camera. Swami nodded and smiled. After this, we returned to our seats.

Sai Prakash (CG) explains to Swami that since it is a video camera that he is operating, it has no 'flash'.

A small detour here.

Many times Swami asks these ‘common-knowledge questions’. That is to give an opportunity for us to answer. I remember, on one occasion, Swami asked a student,
“What is your name?”
“Swami, you know.”
Where do you come from?”
“Swami knows everything...”
“What are you studying?”
“Swami, you know everything.”
“You prayed that I should speak to you. I am answering your prayer.”
Swami walked away gently.
If information-seeking was the only reason why Swami asked questions, then thousands would have lost an opportunity to speak to Him! It is indeed sweet on His part to ask questions and create opportunities for interaction.

Even as everyone was finishing their breakfasts, it was announced that we should be ready for landing.

to be continued in Part 3 at the link below.

For all readers:

(If you enjoyed this and wish to subscribe to this blog, please go to the right hand side and choose the last 'box' which says subscribe. Also explore the 60-odd 'previous articles' listed month-wise on the top right here. Another blog which I maintain with more than 230 articles on it is at http://aravindb1982.hubpages.com. If you wish to be added to my mailing list, please email me via this page with the subject "ADD ME TO MAILING LIST".)