Divine Visit – Bandipur, Ooty and Mandya – Day one – 29 February, 2016
Swami’s trip to Bandipur, Ooty and Mandya started in the early hours on Monday, February 29. With a whole bunch of excited students, and chosen guests, the energy in the campus at 5:30am was indeed discernible! The entourage accompanying Swami on this trip were His very dear students and staff from the Sri Sathya Sai Centre for Human Excellence. With a similar trip to Bandipur last year, this is promising to become an annual event!
As everyone were busy loading their bags, students from High School, Higher Primary, CBSE section and Pre-University, lined up on either side of the road, to bid a tearful farewell to their beloved Bhagawan. Never easy to see Him going away for a few days! It definitely reminded those gathered of the times in Prasanthi Nilayam, when the Lord would leave either to Kodaikanal or Brindavan, amidst a similar departure. Nothing has changed!
Students from the Centre for Human Excellence waited expectantly in the specially chartered bus, parked outside the gates of Premdeep. As His car came out of the mandir, enthusiastic ‘Jai kara’ by the boys in the bus rang through the early morning air. The cavalcade that started from Muddenahalli included four cars, and the special bus carrying Swami’s special boys!
The schedule had Bandipur as the first stop where Swami and His entourage would spend a day amidst nature’s bounty, before proceeding to an extension of this bounty, Ooty. The convoy reached the Bandipur Tiger Reserve around 1:30pm, and were treated to a sumptuous lunch. All arrangements had been taken care of by Sri Rajshekhar, who is now serving his Lord in Muddenahalli.
The long drive got the better out of everyone. A brief post lunch gathering in a small, yet intimate hall with Swami washed away all the tiredness from the body and mind, as the Lord was in a mirthful mood and made the whole session light, with his humorous take on various things. When asked by Swami when the tigers are usually seen during the day, Sri Rajshekhar, said they are seen usually in the mornings and in the evenings, to which Bhagawan said – “Oh, like morning darshan and evening darshan!”
He asked the boys if they had filled petrol (food) in their vehicles (bodies). When the students answered in the affirmative, Swami quipped – “I hope you have put enough petrol. If a tiger chases you, you should be able to run back here!” (referring to the jungle safari everyone were getting ready for that afternoon).
Bringing the brief session to a close and instructing everyone to be respectful of the rules while on the safari, Swami advised the students to experience the safari in a spiritual way, to enjoy the beauty that God has created. He prompted everyone to ponder on the question of how beautiful and wonderful God could be, if His creation was so beautiful! He asked everyone to take note of how animals only take what they need for that moment from nature, unlike man who hoards and extracts much more than his requirements.
As the group boarded the special vehicles arranged for the safari, a few boys insisted Swami join them. The loving Lord relented to their prayers and joined the safari. After witnessing sightings of many animals (except the elusive tigers of Bandipur) the group returned. Swami instructed everyone to have their dinner and rest, which brought an end to the day’s events.