Wednesday, October 31st, 2012
It was Sunday, the morning of 25th October 2009. Just 3 days before the day of departure, we came to know about the inclusion of our names in the grand entourage of Bhagawan. Yes, it was the much talked about, much awaited visit of Bhagawan to Pune and Mumbai.
I loaded my I-pod and kept it ready in my baggage to listen to Marathi abhangas while travelling to my home pitch, Pune and Mumbai. This was the first thing I did after the unexpected surprise gift I received from Swami.
And on the D-Day, 28th October 2009 we were ferried straight to the airport and after the usual formalities, we boarded the aircraft and waited for Swamis arrival. As soon as Swami came and boarded the aircraft, aircraft doors were closed and the engines started roaring. Simultaneously I too started listening to Vitthala abhangas Hymns on Lord Vitthala.
The very first abhanga had the following lyrics. This hymn was composed by Saint Namadeva. Namadeva sings the Glory of Vitthala thus:
(Let us reside in Pandharpur, take holy dip in river Chandrabhaga and then have Divine darshan of Lord Vitthala Krishna is called as Panduranga or Vithoba or Vitthala in Maharashtra)
We landed in Pune and started our onward Journey to Hadshi by bus. We were touching Hadshi by noon. Our bus took a turn to climb up on a steep road to reach Hadshis Sri Sathya Sai Pandurangakshetra.The same hymn started ringing in my ears in different words altogether but now without an I-pod. The meaning and the sweetness of the hymn remained same, only words underwent a little change;
(Residing in Puttaparthi, on the banks of river Chitravathi, taking holy dip and then having Darshan of Lord Sathya Sai The Avatar of Kali age)
The State of Maharashtra has a hoary tradition for the last couple of centuries. Vitthala devotees (called as Varkaris) march towards Pandharpur in the month of Ashadh.They sing the glory of Lord Vitthala, carry Vitthala idols in palanquins and arrive in Pandharpur on Ekadashi day.(the eleventh day in the month of Ashadh)
But the Sai Varkaris take a route in the southern direction. First, they come to Dharmavaram by rail and continue the remaining 45 km journey to Prasanthi Nilayam by foot. All along the route, they sing the glory of Sai Vitthala. They conduct medical camps and other service activities in villages on the way and finally arrive at Puttaparthi on Ekadashi day. This tradition is going on for the last two decades.
There is river Bhima at Pandharpur which is also called as Chandrabhaga crescent-shaped moon. Devotees take a holy dip in the river and stand in long queues to have the Divine darshan of Vitthala. The presiding deity, Lord Vitthala stands on a brick with hands on waist (thats the reason why Panduranga is called Vitthala). It was Bhaktha Pundalikas command to the Lord to go and stand on the brick and not to disturb him while he was busy serving his parents. The Lord was pleased to see Pundalikas attitude of service to his parents. So, obeying the command of a true and ardent devotee, the Lord is doing a balancing act on a brick. He cannot step down from that brick, forget about coming out of Sanctum Sanctorum.
Taking pity on devotees who were unable to reach Pandharpur to have His darshan, particularly those who reside outside Maharashtra and for people staying in other parts of the globe, He started wondering how to give darshan, how to provide better infrastructure, good road, rail and air connectivity? How to provide clean drinking water and other amenities like a big shopping complex for their material needs and a book stall for spiritual needs, a state of art digital studio for posterity, medicare and educare, etc?
He chalked out an elaborate plan He takes physical form. He chooses Puttaparthi as His abode and incarnates on 23rd November 1926 in the womb of Mother Easwaramma. And then as we all are a witness to this Divine drama for the last several decades, He Himself goes amidst devotees and gives Darshan. Devotees need not go to Chitravati river bed for a holy dip. Chitravati is now flowing in and at the doorstep of residents of Anantapur in the form of Sri Sathya Sai Water Project and has crossed all man made barriers to reach other districts of Andhra Pradesh and in Chennai too. This Divine act of the Lord has three-fold benefit, not just Darshan but Padasparshan, an opportunity to touch His Lotus feet and Sambhashanam too. We can talk to Him and He speaks to us! Oh what an opportunity which even the gods of the highest heavens would pine for!
And now acceding to the prayers of devotees from Pune and Hadshi, Lord Sai Vitthala has travelled 1000 km to Hadshi and blessed thousands of devotees who came there for His Divine Darshan. He visited Pune after a hiatus of 37 years.
Hadshi has a gift from the creator in the form of nature. Nature has ensconced this village in its green arms away from the hectic, city life of Pune.
One can say that God has decorated this village with jewels in the form of nature. What does a jeweller do while making an ornament? He leaves an empty socket at its centre. When the job is done, he picks a polished diamond and fixes in that socket. Only then this jewel is complete, it has value, it is worth keeping in the showcase. In the absence of diamond, the jewel has no value and the customer will not even look at it, forget about buying it.
The same thing happened with Hadshi. Sri Sathya Sai Pandurangakshetra was ready by the year 2003. Swami had given a word in 2003 that He would come to Hadshi and bless one and all. Ornament was ready but the diamond was yet to be fixed. Days, months and years rolled by, but there was no sign of Swamis arrival. But devotees never lost hope. That is adamantine resolve.
In His previous incarnation in the form of Shirdi Sai, He has told us to have just two coins of Shraddha (faith) and Saburi (Persevarance) in our spiritual bank account. Hadshi devotees had firm faith that Swami would come physically and bless the complex. Their faith and patience was rewarded multifold by Lord Sai during this visit.
Needless to state, Gods delays are not His denials (Allah Ke Ghar Der Hai Lekin Andher Nahi). There are ample examples in the history (should we say His-Story) right from Sabari in Ramayana. Recent visit to Hadshi is the latest proof to support these basic essentials of faith and patience for an individual on the path of spirituality.
Swami travelled to Pune and reached Hadshi on 28th October. Next day, 29th October happened to be Thursday and Karthika Ekadashi day. A day when Pandharpur attracts large number of devotees as in month of Ashadh. On this most auspicious day, He installed the idols of Ganesha, Shirdi Sai Baba and finally Vitthala and Rakhumai (Rukmini). It is not just a coincidence but the Divine Will and part of His Divine Master-plan.
So, the state of Maharashtra which is chosen by several saints and sages to take birth now has further blessings from Sai Vitthala who has now given this state yet another Pandharpur in the form of Sri Sathya Sai Pandurangakshetra at Hadshi.
Love flowed further to the west in the financial capital of India and quenched the thirst of millions of devotees residing in Mumbai by His darshan at citys various stadiums and large grounds.
Now that Swami has done so much for us, being amidst us and teaching us to lead an ideal life by His own example, it is our duty to express gratitude to Lord Sai on the eve of His 84th Birthday through our thoughts, words and deeds.
Let us go back to the same abhanga with which we started. Namadeva also had the same prayer to Lord Vitthala in next two stanzas;
(Lets chant the name of the Lord, Lets bask in the Divine company. God does not reside only at Pandharpur or at Puttaparthi. Every individuals heart is a Pandharpur or a Parthi-kshetra where God resides. Lets have that firm belief and conviction and serve others. That is the only way to merge in divinity.)
(This life of ours is blessed by You Swami. There should not be any more birth and death. If it is still destined then You should accompany us and bless us all to redeem our lives. This is our only desire and this is our only prayer)
I fell asleep with same hymn ringing into my ears on the night of 2nd November when we reached back to Puttaparthi: Pandharpur of Andhra Pradesh.
(The writer, Nitin Acharya, has done his MBA degree from the Sri Sathya Sai University, and is currently serving at the Sri Sathya Sai Sadhana Trust, Publications Division, Prasanthi Nilayam)
II Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II
Wednesday, October 31st, 2012
True to the saying Gods Delays are Not Gods Denials, fulfilling the long cherished desire of the Jadhavs and the Puneites, Divinity encased in human frame, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba blessed the Peshwa City with abundance, with abundance of His Love, all by His rich presence for three full days! Thousands upon thousands thronged to have a glimpse of The LordNone would understand and decipher the subtle moves and vibrations of His Divinity, inner significance of which would go far beyond human perceptions for the emancipation of mankind. Concluding His visit as His Divine Caravan sped on through the Pune Mumbai Highway on October 31, 2009, we had a reflections published on the epochal visit, reminiscing all that happened in Pune-Hadshiwritten by Sri Jullie Chaudhuri.
If the hills around Hadshi make a priceless necklace, then Sri Sathya Sai Pandurang Kshetra is the most exquisite pendant. Such a wondrous sight to hold and behold. A veritable feast for the eyes. It was the most surreal environment decorated gaily for the Lord, His entourage and the ardent devotees gathering there. But let us start at the very beginning.
Activities were on in full swing, in a highly synchronized manner ever since our Lord accepted Mr Shivajirao Jadhavs invitation to visit Sri Sathya Sai Pandurang Kshetra. The winding road leading up to the Kshetra and then on to the mandir and the divine residence was quickly repaired and tarred. For easy flow of traffic, a one-way system was made for travelling up and for the return journey down towards the city. The mandirs were decorated for the Praan Pratishthan. A huge stage was designed with a wonderful backdrop of Shirdi Sai, Parthi Sai and Lord Panduranga in the centre. On one side of the backdrop was Swamis saying I am in you, You are in Me, You and I are one. On the other side, it had words that perhaps every devotee would like to say to Him Tum shwaas ho, Tum paas ho, Tum vishwas ho
Barricades and seating arrangements for devotees who would be coming to have darshan of their Lord was made in this most scenic of all places. The hosts left no stone unturned to do their best for our Beloved Lords arrival.
There was free food being served in the prasadalay for visitors and workers during these preparations, which went on ever so smoothly. Aesthetically designed fragrant flower arrangements enveloped all the mandirs and of course Bhagawans Divine residence.
Day 1, Oct 28, 2009At last, Wednesday, the 28th of Oct, dawned. It was a timeless moment and Punes moment in time, when the Lords flying chariot touched down at Punes airport a little after 9.30 am. The Maharashtra CMs flight landed a little prior to Bhagwans. He was there not only to receive Bhagwan, but also to seek special blessings as it happened to be his birthday too. Mr Shivraj Patil and Mr Jayantrao Patil were also present along with the AAI director Capt Mahajan and Deputy GM, Airport, Mr Prasad. An ambu high lift had specially been brought in from Ahmedabad airport for the Lords deplanement. The lift was decorated with red and yellow carnations and a red carpet covered the floor. Another red carpet was put on the tarmac right up to Bhagawans car. A convoy of four cars had been lined up on the tarmac to whisk Bhagawan away through the city, to Mr Jadhavs residence and then on to SSSPK.
Outside the airport, 11 motorbikes stood ready to lead the convoy, to which five other cars were also added. Balvikas children, traditionally attired, greeted members of the Divine entourage who were served refreshments in the arrival hall.
At SSSPK, 1200 villagers from Hadshi welcomed Bhagwan with a Tukaram Dindi. Through the day, thousands of devotees thronged the Kshetra for a glimpse of Bhagawan. The evening programme began at 5.15 pm with bhajans. Swami arrived at 6 pm. There was an instant stir in the air and all hands were folded in reverence and there was a prayer on every lip.
25 villagers performed Tukaram Abhangs, after which singers Kavita Krishnamurty (Kavita Subramaniam), Nitin Mukesh and Sapna Mukherjee took centrestage. After taking His blessings, they sang beautiful bhajans that left everyone in ecstasy.
Sapna Mukherjee and Nitin Mukeshs new album Sai Krishna was released at the hands of Bhagawan. Mukherjee said, Ive been singing His bhajans since I was a child, and I am simply too thrilled that this CD was release by Baba Mukesh added, Todays evening was most Divine. He smiled at me and praised me. Im too overwhelmed. First, God came to me in the form of my mother, then my daughter and now Sathya Sai
Kavita Krishnamurthy too said emotionally, I am what I am because of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. He is God, and it must be my past karma that has led me to perform in front of Him
Day 2, Oct 29, 2009The deities at the Lord Siddhivinayak Mandir, Vitthal-Rukmini Mandir and Shirdi Sai Mandir came alive by the Lords touch and SSSPK will now be considered a most sacred pilgrimage centre after as the Pran Pratishthan was performed by the Lord himself. Through the ceremony, there was a paraglider who showered rose petals on the Aum-shaped Kshetra.
In the evening, Bhagawan was welcomed for darshan by a traditional Tukaram Dindi. Bhagawan gave darshan from the Vitthal Rukmini Mandir. Mr Shivajirao Jadhav spoke about Swamis message and showed his gratitude to Swami for accepting the invitation. Then, the All-India President of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation, Mr V Srinivasan, gave a short interesting speech which was followed by Nishikant Barodikars Marathi narration of his own experiences with Swami.
And then, the moment that all were eagerly waiting for Bhagawans Divine Discourse, which was translated into English and Marathi. Bhagawan spoke about a life of love not to criticise anyone and to correct ones own faults rather than pointing fingers at others. He spoke about the oneness of all beings and also stressed that our life has to be His message.
In His Divine Discourse, Bhagawan also spoke about compassion for all living beings. He particularly mentioned snakes and scorpions and said that these creatures dont attack unnecessarily. They attack only because they fear us humans.
Here is a tag to the above Divine remark. Interestingly, a day prior to Bhagawans Discourse, a snake was spotted close to the music and lights equipment. The men feared it would get into their equipment so they contemplated killing it. However, two lady devotees stopped them, and instead caught the scared snake in some cushion covers, and handed it to another lady devotee who offered to release it. The lady devotees cautioned small crowd that had gathered around the snake that Bhagawan would never like anyone killing it.
And there came His Divine Discourse and an off-the-cuff remark about compassion for living beings He gave His speech and spoke about snakes and scorpions! It is coincidental for the ordinary, but indeed Saicidental for the Beloved Almighty Omnipresent Lord!
(Incidentally, Sri Sathya Sai Pandurang Kshetra is teeming with snake holes, but there was not even a single case of a snake bite reported. It was as though the snake(s) were charmed by the Lord and were content with His blissful darshan)
After the Divine Discourse Bhagawan lovingly blessed the gathering and sweetly expressed His happiness.
Day 3, Oct 30, 2009In the morning, there was a havan that took place near the Vithhal-Rukmini mandir, following which Swami came on to the stage for Divine darshan. Village children sat in front of the stage and sang Prashanthi Bhajans for our Beloved Lord, who smilingly acknowledged their devotion.
In the evening, after bhajans, the Little Champs of Marathi Sa Re Ga Ma gave a scintillating performance in the Divine presence. They began with abhangs immortalised by Tukaram and then went on to sing devotional songs which touched the heart of one and all, including Beloved Bhagwan.
It seemed as though the musical notes had incarnated as these children to serenade the Lord! To Swamis amusement, each child who performed kept taking Padanamaskar!Bhagawan blessed them, their parents and siblings.
He was so enchanted by their performance that He asked them for one last song together even though they had finished singing the songs they had rehearsed for!
Though the evening was melodiously blissful, the imminent departure of Bhagawan for Mumbai next morning left a sad feeling deep within.
Creator and His creation; Srishti-Karta and His Srishti; Mountains, lakes, evergreen trees, fragrant flowers, mango orchards, green, green grass, butterflies and dragonflies, the white-blue expanse of the sky, a sunset most wondrous, twinkling stars and soft silky moonlight, and the loving, loving presence of Beloved Bhagwan could anyone ask for more?
Each and every darshan is ever so valued, but to sit in front of the Lord in the lap of Mother Nature is ever so fulfilling. Dreams do come true
Day 4, Oct 31, 2009The next morning, Bhagawan left SSSPK at around 10.45 am. Villagers lined up in a disciplined manner along the entrance and road leading towards Lonavla. One could see the winding procession motorbikes, two cars with security guards, Swamis car, and a string of 20 cars following. Swami blessed the villagers with double Abhayahasta and then the convoy sped on, towards waiting Mumbai
II Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II
Latest Videos Update – 31st October, 2012
Play videoThe students from SSSIHL, Anantapur Campus presented a musical offering singing paeans to Bhagawan. Beginning with invoking Lord Ganesha, the girls sang another song extolling Mother Durga,00:26:21