Divine Visit – Bandipur, Ooty and Mandya – Day Three – 02 March, 2016
Day three of the trip started early, as the group got ready and headed to the Connoor railway station, for the much anticipated ride with their beloved Swami in the ‘The Nigiri Mountain Railway’ or ’the toy train’, as it is fondly called by the locals and visiting tourists. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway, built in the 1908, has now been designated as a World Heritage Railway, and is very popular for the scenic ride it offers, along with an opportunity to be part of the history of the region, for the duration of the ride.
As the group assembled at the station awaiting Bhagawan’s arrival, they had a chance to read the story of the Nilgiris Mountain Railway depicted on the various posters which dotted the station. As the time for the train’s departure drew close, the group were ushered into their compartments. A few minutes before the scheduled time of departure, the moment arrived! Swami entered the station and walked up to the first compartment! A few of the fortunate senior devotees of the entourage settled in the compartment with Bhagawan.
As the train started to resounding ‘Jai Kara’ by everyone, the mountains showcased their bounty and beauty, as the train chugged through its ranges to Ooty. Sitting in the train that was commissioned more than a century old , Swami commented looking at the elders inside the compartment, “This train is older than all of you here, except me”. How true! Who can be older than the one, who has no beginning or end!
Soon the students, who were in another compartment were signing bhajans to which Swami said, “This is the first time we are doing Train Sankeertana (like nagarsankeertana), sanctifying all the hills which are also signing back in joy, by echoing the bhajans!” The train running on narrow gauge was swinging as it moved and Swami commented, “Today the train is very happy as Swami is sitting inside, and hence it is happily dancing and moving.” As He saw the others in the compartment being swayed by the movement of the train, Bhagawan said, “Now along with the train you all are also dancing.”
Bhagawan, like a child said,” I was always curious to sit inside this toy train every time I came to Ooty, but unfortunately then it wasn’t possible, today it has happened at last!” In fact even the hosts had not planned for the train journey, it was Swami who reminded them to organise the ride.
Swami also fondly remembered the first time he had travelled in a train from Penukonda to Bangalore. “That was the first, and this is the second train journey after a long time”, He mused.
Swami was extremely happy looking at the nature all around and said, “Just like an artist who can adore his piece of creation for days, a mother who can admire her child forever, I am the creator of all this, and I too love to watch the creation, and derive great joy!”
Needless to say, the whole journey of 45 minutes was filled with great joy and fun with Swami in the compartment in His humorous best, bringing much joy to everyone around.
As the train arrived at its destination Ooty, the group was taken to the house of Sri Ravi Paramasivayya and Smt Anita Paramasivayya, where a sumptuous breakfast awaited all. Bhagawan blessed the hosts and asked everyone to head to the Ooty Botanical Gardens, where one could see beautiful manicured lawns and artistically trimmed hedges. After spending some wonderful moments amidst nature at the botanical gardens, the group visited Doddabetta, the highest point in the Eastern Ghats, which provided a panoramic view of both the Eastern and Western ghats, which was truly breathtaking! Lunch had been organized at Yashodamma’s mandir.
Later in the evening, a public satsang was organized at the Auditorium of the Cordite Factory, Aruvankadu. Sri M G Satish welcomed Bhagawan on behalf of the people of Nilgiris, and the Badaga community. A traditional Badaga dance was organized which gave a glimpse into the traditions of the community. The first speaker for the day was Sri A R Manjunath, Director -Sri Sathya Sai Centre for Human Excellence, who gave an introduction to the ‘Sookshma’ Sathya Sai Baba, and the transition from the form to the formless. The next speaker of the evening was Sri B N Narasimha Murthy, Chief Mentor Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Institutions. He began his talk asking the question “Why do avatars come down to this world? Out of God’s love and compassion, He comes down to teach mankind the right way of life.” He then went on to narrate the various qualities of an avatar, drawing many examples from Indian mythology and his own experiences with Baba. Underlining the virtue of surrender, he reminded everyone present of Bhagawan’s proclamation that anyone who calls out to Him by His name or any other name, He will protect them and consider them as His own.
Bhagawan’s discourse was based on two main themes – the importance of a Guru to guide one along the spiritual path, and the virtue of offering one’s actions to God which will nullify the negative fruits of any action. He stressed that the path of spirituality was an easy one, but people misguide spirituality, as being a difficult path which involved difficult rituals and practices. Bhagawan had some very beautiful words to say about His devotees in Ooty. He said they were like the gopikas and had a lot of devotion. He further went on to say, they did not need any talks or lectures on spirituality, as they were already evolved. He said he had come only because of their devotion. Giving them the reassurance, Swami said He was not anywhere else, but within, and around them! Finally, Swami announced He would revive plans for a hospital which would render free service in Ooty (a project that had been conceived when Swami was in His physical form, but had not yet fructified). He said, “Now that the driver and the engine are both here, the project will take off, and the train will travel on the two rails of Love and Service, to its destination of Dharma!” The day ended with aarthi and prasadam.
After returning to the residence, Swami granted interviews to some devotees, before having His dinner and retiring for the day.