Thursday, 24 September 2015

Delhi-Simla Memories- Part 4 - Drama at Dwarka

Sathya Sai is a silent worker - whether we realize it or not!
A revelation during tiffin

Swami was already at His table as we made our entry into the dining hall. On seeing us, He told us to enter. Even before we reached our chairs, He asked us what we saw during the outing. Jagdish Kanadia answered Swami on our behalf with one word - Qutub Minar. 
“What is that?”
That query was an opportunity for many to enjoy the bliss of Sambhashanam with Swami.
“A long Stambham (pillar) Swami!                                  “
“It’s a tall structure.”
“... a historical building with many intricate carvings...”
As the explanations went on Satyajit stepped in and summarised our outing.
“Swami they went to Qutub Minar, India Gate and the Rashtrapati bhavan.”
Sai Krishna added, “We saw the parliament house too.”
“You went into the parliament?” Swami seemed amazed.
“No Swami, we saw it from outside only.”
Swami then asked CG and Prabhakar as to what they saw. Prabhakar thought Swami was asking him where he came from and so, said, “Hyderabad.”
Swami smiled.
“You saw Hyderabad and came?”
All of us smiled too. Even the slightest of Swami’s smiles become a source of mirth for everyone. That, I felt, is the capability of the divine. Since it is absolutely selfless and giving, even it’s smile spreads so spontaneously top everyone.  

The tiffin session then began with the usual Brahmaarpanam. As we ate, Swami gently prodded Sai Krishna to induced Him into chatting with us. It began with Swami asking him as to where he had been. He said the same answer. When Swami asked  Devasenapati’s father as to where he went, Sai Krishna answered on his behalf,
“Swami he too came with us. We all were together.”

Sai Krishna then continued,
“Swami when you visited North India in 1973, You went to Delhi, Mogha and Shimla. In the films shot during those times, Swami is seen walking so fast amidst all the devotees.”
I realized that Sai Krishna was using the first few lines of his Telugu commentary in the Sai Blossom DVD titled, Love Flows North. For those who did not know this, his words came like a spontaneous flow of beautiful Telugu!

Swami began His elaborate response,
“Yes! At that time, the visit was for ten days. I had stayed at the place of the Gwalior Rani(queen) also. Many people had come to see me. On one side, it was all turbans (the headgear of the people of Punjab and Haryana) and on the other side, it was all burkhas (the dress worn traditionally by Muslim women). Indulal Shah and Sarla Shah were there.”  

We all nodded in agreement. People of all faiths and religions have always found a place at His lotus feet and, from Swami’s own description, it was evident that this held true even for the 1973 visit. GV Sir (Prof. Venkataraman, director of Radiosai) entered the conversation saying,
“Swami we have the original films of that visit in our archives! We also have the films of Swami’s trip to Kashmir.”

On His way out to grant darshan in the International Centre. Living each day on the inside was such a revealing
experience. I am grateful to Swami forever. 
Swami continued to speak about our outing. He asked,
“What did you buy there?”
Sai Krishna was quick to respond,
“Swami we did not buy anything. We only saw everything and we took some good photos.”
Swami nodded and said,
“Though you did not buy, seeing  some things the desire to buy arose in you.”
Again, there were smiles all around. We looked at each other and understood that we could not deny what Swami had said.

{This is the 4th 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:

The tiffin session continued. After a few minutes of silence, Swami looked up and said in a matter-of-fact manner,
“When you went to see all that, Satyajit and I went in flight to Puttaparthi. There I gave prasadam to all the sick and ailing people and we returned.”

The Pav in my hand dropped to the plate! I stopped chewing too. This was an amazing revelation and Swami had made it so casually without any ado. The impact of the revelation seemed to slowly hit the others too and they also looked at Swami in awe. Even as we were beginning to glimpe at Swami, the Supreme UNiversal Lord who can never be totally understood, Swami, the sweet friend came to the forefront.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Delhi-Simla Memories- Part 3 - Sights of Delhi

A beautiful morning darshan in Delhi with Swami wearing a special-colored robe
First morning darshan in Delhi

It wouldn’t be nice to be late on the first morning darshan of the Divine visit to Delhi! So we hurried and reached the entrance of Swami’s residence building. But there was another surprise. We were suddenly told that Swami may visit our rooms! Oh God! This was not the way to leave the rooms if the Lord was visiting. With the enthusiastic volunteers helping us, we tidied up our rooms to almost aseptic proportions. I thought that since Swami had asked about our beddings last night, maybe He wanted to examine them today. In ten minutes, the rooms were fit for the Lord to visit. Having satisfied ourselves thus, we rushed towards Swami’s residence.

The bhajans were on and we heaved a sigh of relief when we noticed that Swami was not in sight. Punctuality is the art of guessing the time of arrival of the other person. Since Swami had not yet come, we were not late!

Our relief was short lived. The reason Swami was not in sight was because He had already moved to the stage and was lost in the bhajans! No wonder the singing and chorus volumes were so high!  I told CG that we should immediately move out and begin filming. As we moved out and into the erected pandal, Swami began to searchingly look at me. I felt that He was looking out for where the others were.  As I saw Swami, the colour of His robe struck me immediately. It was not the orange of saffron, one that I was so familiar with! It was a few shades darker and had a kind of special shine to it. It was definitely the first time that I was seeing Him in a robe like that and I presumed that either Delhi, as His host, had presented Him with that robe or Swami, as a gracious guest, had decided to bless the devotees at Delhi during the first morning darshan in that special colour.

The ladies’ and gents’ bhajan groups were right in the front on their respective sides and about five thousand people had crammed inside the pandal. Descending from the stage, I moved to the back along the barricades to take photos from all possible angles. That was when I saw the enormity of the crowd that had gathered and the large number of people outside the gates pining to enter and have a glimpse of the lovable form in red. I was touched at the devotion of the people and expressed deep gratitude to Swami for being able to see Him daily. It is sad that we need to see some deprivation to feel gratitude but that is human nature. I thought of all the times when I had cried about Swami not giving me an interview or interacting with me. Today, I was like the person who used to cry for shoes when he met someone without feet!

{This is the 3rd 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:

Even as I was taking pictures, Swami asked for Aarthi. I had come late for the session and thus it seemed to get over quickly. Also, I noticed that Swami did not seem to be in the best of health. He appeared a bit tired and so, He must be completing the session a little earlier. I moved to the front to take pictures of the persons waving the Aarthi and offering a rose to Swami. The person doing the Aarthi was apparently unfamiliar with the style at Parthi. He kept waving the camphor long after the “Narayana Narayana Om” stanza of the Aarthi had started. Swami told him to keep it down but he didn’t get it. I went to him and gently nudged him, telling him to place the Aarthi plate down. When he continued waving after that also, I took the plate from his hands and placed it down.

The first morning Aarthi at Delhi was not without its sweet little drama.
Swami then blessed everyone after the prayer for universal peace, the Samastha Loka mantra was chanted. He moved back but instead of turning left into the residence-building, moved ahead and down another ramp.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Delhi-Simla Memories- Part 2 - Dinner with God

The Sri Sathya Sai International Centre

After 28 years on earth and in India, this was the first time I was visiting the country’s capital city. And I had spent the first hour there dozing in an air-conditioned bus wading through Delhi’s traffic-filled roads as the adrenaline rush of the morning faded. The fresh excitement of seeing Swami in Delhi kept waking me from my siesta and that was when I noticed how congested the roads of Delhi were even though they were broad.

A view of the reception that Swami received at the Delhi airport! Almost everyone in the vicinity who had the
permission to be on the tarmac was present there! (In the foreground is the lift vehicle via which Swami descended). 
It was past 6 pm when we reached the Sri Sathya Sai International Centre which had been filled to the brim. A few volunteers rushed to welcome us and make a way for our bus to enter the premises. I jumped down with my camera and followed the volunteers. Along the way, we were informed that Swami had blessed the gathering during the bhajans, received Aarthi and had retired for the day, while we had been stuck in a bus in the Delhi traffic jam! 

The first bhajans and Aarthi in the Divine physical presence at the Sri Sathya Sai International Centre.
Before entering the building, I saw my father and called out to him.
He smiled at me and waved back to me.

{Came here directly? Part 1 is at the link below:

We were then led through what I thought was a maze at the end of which, was a small auditorium. From there, we arrived at a landing area with a lift which had been used by Swami to go to His room upstairs. We were told that Swami was waiting for the boys and that we should go to our rooms, freshen up and return ASAP. Our rooms were in the adjacent building. Thus, instead of taking the stairs to the top, we took the exit to the side of the lift. Coming out of the door I realized that Swami’s lift was actually right next to the place where our bus had parked! The maze-travel had confused me into thinking that the lift was very far. I was reminded of Kabirdas’ musk deer which roams the entire forest in search of the fragrance that emanates from its own navel!  Maybe this is how travelling towards God is - always simple but we travel through mazes and think it to be complicated!

The area where our bus came and parked. To the left is Swami's residence building to the left of which is the darshan grounds.
To the right is the building where we were accommodated.
A picture of the main entrance of the Sri Sathya Sai International Centre readying itself to receive the Lord. (The previous picture is taken when the gates have been opened. 

Three rooms had been assigned to us and they were in the third floor of the adjacent building. They were actually classrooms that had been converted into living quarters. Beds had been laid on the ground, dormitory style, and the rooms were pleasantly cool thanks to the air conditioning. The Hadshi experience had taught me not to pick a spot near someone who snores while sleeping at night. Tell me your company and I shall tell you how you slept at night - was my motto! Thus, I chose my neighbours carefully, deposited my baggage and freshened up.

As I came out of the building, I met Amma (my mother). She was happy at the close darshan that she had got and I was happy seeing her so happy. I assured her that I would somehow get passes for them the next day and I hurried on towards Swami’s residence. On the way, I met Mrs. Malvika Rai, her husband, Mr.Anil Rai and their daughter. It was nice seeing them and I remembered how they had wished me well and told me at Parthi,
“We pray that we see you in Delhi.”
I offered my gratitude to them for their good wishes and told myself that getting the blessings of elders in any endeavour would always bode well for anyone. We all ushered into the auditorium where we were formally welcomed to Delhi by Mr. Rasagotra. Swami had not yet come to the dining hall and this session in the auditorium was an extempore plan to keep us engaged while we waited.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Delhi-Simla Memories- Part 1 - Hello Delhi

An excitement build-up

The aerial 'chariot' booked to serve as the Lord's carrier to Delhi. Here, the aircraft is seen parked in the Puttaparthi
airport with the Super Specialities Hospital seen in the background. 
Travelling with Bhagawan Baba to visit a place is an experience that can never be captured adequately in words. Yet, time and again, that very effort is made by those who are blessed to have accompanied Him during various visits. This serial too is such an attempt where I try to relive and share the beautiful memories gathered during Swami’s visit to Delhi and Simla in the summer of 2010.

Spending days in the direct physical presence of Bhagawan is like seeing a multi-faceted diamond. The observer sees His divine sparkle based on his/her own perspective. Now, that is the problem with trying to describe the days spent in the divine presence - at best it can capture only one perspective and a few facets of the Divine Diamond. But then, I feel that it would be a grave injustice to hold back describing those few facets out of fear of not being comprehensive and all-encompassing. So, with humility and love, I shall proceed with this magical travelogue. I have already written in great detail about the dramatic manner in which I got to know that I was selected for the Delhi-Simla visit.

I had only a couple of days to prepare for the trip with Swami. The excitement of being selected after such intense pining was unbearable. I wasn’t able to eat or sleep properly. I called my parents and told them about the complete change of plans. Well, the change was not so ‘complete’ because I told them to fly to Delhi as planned. Just that, instead of going to the Kumbh Mela, they would stay on at Delhi itself.   I called my sister and many others to obtain small releases of these excitement bouts! Swami Himself added to the excitement on the day preceding takeoff, the 8th of April 2010, during the darshan session in the mandir. After the bhajans got over and Arati had been taken, Swami continued to sit on the dais. He then said,
“Delhi boys.”
Slowly, from all directions, all the boys selected came forward and sat on the steps facing Him. Swami instructed that everyone should be ready, have breakfast and head to the airport. He also gave specific instructions to a few members. Looking at me, He said something very softly. Though I moved up to Him, I could not make out what He was saying. So, I just knelt in front of Him, smiling. Swami also smiled and agreed to my request of padanamaskar. I bent over the railings and gently kissed His feet. I must have looked like a giraffe bending over a fence to drink water but I didn’t care. Who cares how one looks when one is getting the opportunity to kiss those redeeming feet - the feet that promise to take one across the ocean of life (Dusthara Bhava Sagara Tharanam) as Swami Himself puts it?

The road was lined  with people who had come to wave goodbye to Swami. On the top right of the photograph
is the runway of the Puttaparthi airport. 
Swami’s magic works even before people meet Him

The 9th of April dawned very early for me. I was up even before the sun had thoughts of rising because I had hardly slept at night. Such was the excitement that it almost seemed like a whole day before it became 9:45 am when we were supposed to transfer our entire luggage near the Poornachandra auditorium! From where they would be picked and transported to the aircraft by a trailer tractor. By 11:45 am we too assembled at the airport, having finished a late breakfast. The yellow hospital bus ferried us to the airport where the preliminary checks and check-ins were done. Since the airport is not used regularly, special personnel had arrived to do these security duties. Thus, it took a little longer than at normal airports. It was almost 1:40 pm when all of us were in the aircraft, waiting for Swami’s arrival.