Bhagawan’s entourage were up early once again to board a flight from Singapore Changi Airport to Bali, Indonesia. The mention of the word ‘Bali’ conjures up myriad images – mountains, beaches, vibrant culture, traditions and of course, the devout people! Bali is known as the Land of the Gods, and truly so, for mystic Bali exudes sheer natural beauty of volcanoes and lush terraced rice fields. For the Balinese, who embrace the Hindu religion, rites and rituals take center stage in their lives.
As the aircraft touched down at the Ngurah Rai Airport, also known as the Denpasar International Airport, Smt Desak Ketut Dewi, an ardent devotee of Bhagawan welcomed the entourage. Bhagawan manifested at the airport and He, along with His entourage, were whisked away in a convoy led by a pilot escort to Sai Pooja Ashram. Sai Pooja Ashram was started by Swami Himself! In early 2007, Swami appeared in Bali to Sri Prabhu Mahadev and Smt Pooja, a devout Balinese couple, while they were staying in a small hut in Denpasar. There was a small Bhajan hall near their home where devotees would gather. Swami appeared to them and said that He needed a new home! Prabhu ji told Swami that they did not have the means to build a new home, as they were from very impoverished backgrounds. The couple did not even have a bank account at that time. Swami told them to open a bank account, and miraculously funds poured. Today, a beautiful and serene three-storey Sai Pooja Ashram stands as a beacon of light and hope for many devotees, and Bhagawan’s presence is felt every single day through many miracles!
Bhagawan was welcomed ceremoniously in the Balinese tradition and was led inside the Ashram by Prabhu ji and Amma, as Smt Pooja is fondly called by everyone. Swami blessed all gathered, and retired for the afternoon.
The afternoon session commenced at 5pm, and over 300 devotees had gathered at the Ashram to experience Bhagawan’s love. The first talk was by Sri C Sreenivas, who vividly described the breathtaking beauty of Bali, and added that Sai Pooja epitomises the word ‘paradise’. He said Sai Pooja is not a building, but a living reality of divinity, where Prabhu ji and Amma are helping so many people towards God. He said, “The greatest act a body can engage in life is to guide, to show & direct another soul, to God and Bhagawan. If our lives have any worth or value, if we can show kindness, love and concern, and lead one soul to that Feet, which is all protective, all merciful and all gracious, our lives are well lived.”
The next speaker was Sri BN Narasimha Murthy, who narrated about the various Divine Visits over the last one year. He said that devotees from around the world would invite Swami always, and pray He visit their country. Swami always responded in the affirmative, giving all devotees the assurance of His visit. Swami is fulfilling His word now, by visiting all these countries. He said, “One can experience the living presence of Swami in every atom of Sai Pooja Ashram. We can get a sense of fulfillment that we have come to the Abode of God.” He said for Bhagawan’s entourage, who has accompanied Him on this trip to Bali, visiting Sai Pooja Ashram has been a pilgrimage.
A traditional Barong Ket dance was performed at the Divine Lotus Feet after the two talks, which were translated in Bahasa, the local language. Barong is a lion-like creature and character in the mythology of Bali. He is the king of the spiritsand leader of the good. Barong is portrayed as a lion with red head, covered in white thick fur, and wearing gilded jewelry adorned with pieces of mirrors. The lion barong is one of five traditional Barongs. In Bali each region of the island has its own protective spirit for its forests and lands. Each Barong for each region is modeled after a different animal, and Barong Ket is the lion barong, the most common Barong, a symbol of a good spirit, from the Gianyar region, where Ubud is located. The dance was performed by a father-son duo, and Swami enjoyed the performance.
Bhagawan started His nectarine discourse thereafter by saying, “I do not reside in Vaikunta nor in the hearts of the Yogis, but wherever My devotees sing my name, I install myself there. It is usually God who goes around giving bliss and joy to devotees, but this is one occasion where devotees have given so much of joy to God! As Narasimha Murthy just now told, had there been no other work for Lord Krishna He would have stayed back with the simple Gopi and Gopikas. The joy that Krishna derived in the company of those unlettered Gopis and Gopikas, was no match for the company for all those scholars and learned men in His court. Though Krishna spent most of His time in Mathura in the affairs and running of the state, despite so much of time spent with these people, no one understood His nature. However, miles away in the simple village of Brindavan, those pure hearted Gopikas understood what is the essence of Krishna. Some in the Kingdom thought that Krishna was a great scholar, learned one; some thought He was a great warrior, and some thought He was a great politician; some thought He was a great leader, but no one understood who Krishna really was. The only people who understood the Krishna Tatvam or the essence of Krishna were the simple hearted cowherd boys and girls.
God cannot be achieved by dispensing the body or through your intelligence.
However, the one who seeks Me, finds Me! Mind is a poor instrument to measure divinity. It is only the heart which can understand what God truly is. Gopis and Gopikas loved Krishna from their heart, therefore they understood who Krishna was. Whereas the others proud of their knowledge tried to understand Krishna through their head.”
Swami went on to describe a devotee. “If he decides to light a lamp, he must make the Lord manifest. If He folds his hand in prayer, God should grant his boon. If he calls out His name with love, God must appear. That person is a devotee. Its not that God appears, so you light the lamp; not that He appears so you fold your hands; not that He grants the boon, so you pray. It should be the other way around. If you raise your hands in prayer, it should be so strong that God will have no choice but to come to You.”
Swami said, “If you remember My name, I must manifest! If you think of Me once, I must appear. If you cry out My name ‘Sai’ once, I will respond. This is how you must remember Me, and chant My name. Nothing should stop Me from coming to you. I am very happy and joyous because I have such devotees here! Since you have been constantly chanting my name and serving my people I have always been here; I have no chance to go back! For every name that you chant is a link in the chain that binds Me to you. Whether sleeping or awake or walking, let us have only one prayer – ‘I want only Swami’. If you ask for Me, I will give Myself to you!
I have got this Ashram made for all of us. In this vast ocean of Samsara, this is the boat to carry everyone. You don’t need as big a boat as the ocean. The vast ocean can be crossed with this little boat. With love and service as the oars, row across the ocean. I am the boatman, and I am going to row you across! All you have to do is sit in the boat peacefully, and not jump into the ocean. Trust me and I will take you across!”
After mangala arathi and prasadam, Swami retired for the night.