As we woke up to a beautiful morning in the best place on earth where the trinity of Man, Nature and God, finds its true meaning, a sumptuous breakfast awaited all.
(Well for those who weren’t around the uppittu or vegetable Upma with the crisp vadas were truly a spark of divine perfection)
Soon after the breakfast all the guests, staff and students assembled in the hall below Swami’s room. Murthy Anna informed Swami that devotees from Singapore were on their way from Coimbatore, which took longer than they estimated thanks to the police check posts which were screening all the vehicles as the state of Tamil Nadu goes in to elections this Monday.
Swami descended the staircase and made His way to the Hall around 9 am. As bhajans were in progress, He walked around asking whether people had their breakfast. Asked the bhajan group singers to sing some songs apart from Bhajans. However even after waiting till 10 am when the devotees from Singapore did not come, He asked brother Vijay Sai to speak to all about his experiences during his many trips to Kodai with the Lord.
As He called out, ” Vijay Sai.. Vijay Sai”, bro Vijay sai emerged from the hall behind. Swami commented, ” Vijay sai is very clever as he would position himself in such a way between the two halls that if needed he could come for Bhajan (programs) to this hall or escape for Bhojan (food) to the other one!
Brother Vijay Sai recollected several incidents from his last 6 trips to Kodai right from 1991 till date. How on one occasion, when Swami joined the students in the bus behind while His car went ahead empty. The devotees assuming that Swami was in the car went on offering their Pranams to the empty car where as Swami in the bus did not receive any. Swami commented, ” Due to my company, the car is also getting salutations where as I having joined your company and am receiving none”.
Another incident of how Swami played a prank on him by telling the hostess to serve him well as he might be feeling shy about asking for more food. While the ladies obeyed Swami and replenished the empty plate of Vijay Sai, who wasn’t allowed to leave until he cleared the plate since as per Bhagawan’s command- Food is God and should not be wasted. As Vijay Sai was busy finishing his lunch, Swami merrily had photographs clicked with others to the dismay of the Vijay Sai.
Another time when Brother Vijay Sai was sad for being ignored by the Lord, and was singing a song composed by Ghantasala, a great Telugu musician of his times, that expressed his feeling of longing for Lord’s love, Swami shocked him by peeping into the washroom area while humming the same line of the song. Vijay Sai stood frozen with half of his face smeared with shaving foam!
Also, finally he narrated how he got back His Swami after 2011, when despite trying to avoid any interactions, Swami pursued him through Madhusudan and revealed many a thing, to his amazement, which were known only to Swami and him, thus convincing him of this phenomenon. “How compassionate is Swami to have not left me even after He left His body” – mused brother Vijay Sai.
As he mentioned that Swami has come to prick our ego balloons and burst them, to teach us that ‘you and I are one’. Swami said jovially, ” Vijay Sai has made only one mistake , he said you and I are one, but looking at his size, all I can say is that you and I are TEN”.
It was wonderful to watch the sweet relationship between Vijay Sai and Swami.
Thereafter Swami called for cameras and shawls for distribution. He went around giving camera and shawls to all.
A lady told, Swami you have already given a camera to my husband I don’t need one. To which Swami said, ” Oh you do need one, your husband is not going to give his camera to you. You take one too so that you can click his pictures and he can take yours, and both can be happy”.
Swami asked the boys who were holding the new cameras, the latest Nikon cool pix A 10, how will you identify your camera amidst so many? He himself replied , ” Click a picture of yourself so that anyone who finds your camera would know it’s yours”. Swami personally inspected whether the cameras worked! God of details!
Murthy Sir who was by Swami’s side, informed Swami that the cameras were of the latest model and very expensive, to which Swami replied in a way only He can, ” Yes the cameras are expensive but the photos that they will carry back are invaluable”.
After blessing all, Swami went to His room above for a while. As soon as the devotees of Singapore arrived for whom Swami was waiting, we ushered them all into the dining hall as they did not have their breakfast. Soon after they were seated, Swami came down to the dining hall, speaking and blessing the devotees for whom the food was bliss! Swami inquired with many about their personal matters as He walked around giving sweets. A lady overwhelmed by emotions was in tears as Swami approached her and and said, ” Swami I missed you”, just to make the moment lighter for her, Swami said, ” Is the food so bad that unable to eat, you are crying ? Or is it that you want two sweets instead of one?”
Needless to say, she spontaneously burst into a smile!
To another lady who was having a big mango Swami said, ” Do not carry it with you outside lest monkeys should snatch it away, as there are plenty of them both with and without tails (pointing to students)”. There were ripples of laughter in the dining hall.
After having seen all, Swami went towards the lobby outside where students were eating and said, “It’s a daily picnic for them, to sit outside in the nature and eat together”.
Asking someone here, whether he had eaten or to another there, whether he got the camera, Swami’s love encompassed all as He walked around the bungalow.
To the cooks He said, “You are gaining much punyam (merits) by cooking and serving the devotees, this will come to your rescue in your times of need”.
He returned to His room, and went to the balcony from where He saw a boy walking around and eating his mango by biting in o it blissfully like a real Monkey, Swami has a hearty laugh!
Thereafter Swami sent us away to have our lunch and asked to come back later during snacks.
If the morning session was nectarine, the evening was pure bliss. Swami came down around 4.40pm as the bhajans were being sung. Many more devotees had gathered by then who were not there in the morning, as Swami walked past, their faces lit up just as a string of electric bulbs would light up when current passes through them, the moments of darshan were truly electrifying.
Swami took His seat amidst the devotees and the students, then He signalled to Sri Kunal Ganjawala and his wife Smt Gayatri to sing a few bhajans and songs. They both broke into tears of gratitude and bliss as they sang the melody, ” Tumhi more giridhar nagar, tum hi more ghanashyam, Itnna Pyar Diya hai tumne.. (You are our Krishna …So much Love you have given us…). They stirred the souls of all present in the hall with their soulful renditions and elevated the whole place to another state, perhaps Heaven!
Thereafter Swami asked Sri Kunal to speak a few words. Brother Kunal, though he claimed to not to be much of a speaker, his words emanated from his heart, just as his songs struck a chord in every heart! He confessed that the world around him, that of the glamour and glitter, of cinema and the silver screen was merely a mirage that has no real joy or peace. He said It was an artificial world and success came with being selfish. He then narrated as to how fortunate he was when in 2005 after three days of deliberations and dilemma in his mind, whether to offer the prayer written in a letter to Swami which simply said that He wanted only Swami and not these worldly achievements, Swami Himself asked for the letter that sought GOD at the cost of everything else, that yearned for the permanent in exchange of the transient. He declared that he bargained well and had profited immensely in this trade off, for no JOY of the world can ever come close to the Bliss of being at Swami’s feet.
Quoting the great examples of Sri Issac Tigritt, who gave up the ‘Hard Rock’ of prosperity and popularity, to build a new life on the ‘Bed Rock’ of spirituality and of Sri Narasimhamurthy who traded his most precious times of life for a lifetime of proximity, praying for permanent proximity, he concluded his talk.
Thereafter Sri Narasimhamurthy spoke about the glory of music, which is the language of the heart, a demonstration of which was the performance by Sri Kunal and wife Gayatri. Congratulating them He continued to express his gratitude for this most precious opportunity to be here at this moment, when thousands outside are unable to be a part of it. When he submitted to Swami this afternoon that he is receiving many messages and emails from around the world for this opportunity, Swami said, “I get more prayers than your emails from so many devotees but I am unable to grant them their wish due to lack of space and facilities”. Then he informed all that, Swami was moved by the prayers of all and has commanded that we may build a hall for devotees to have darshan next year. Sri Narasimhamurthy also mentioned briefly about the history of the place, from the times of a twelve year old Ida Scudder to whom Jesus appeared in this very sacred place, commanded her to serve the poor and she went on to become a doctor who set up the Christian Medical College and Hospital in Vellore, to the times when it came to Swami as a gift, to later when Swami sold it to a devotee in 2007 to fund the Orrissa housing project for the flood victims and to last year when Swami bought it back from the same devotee so that it could be a place for summer retreats for ever. He reminded all of this sacred opportunity and urged to make best use of it, praying for His divine message from Swami, He concluded.
Swami delieverd His Divine message next. Quoting a Telugu poem, the essence of which was, not to give up what you have desired for, unless you have achieved it. He explained the true meaning of the statement made by Swami Vivekananda, “Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached”. Swami said one may interpret this statement in one’s own limited understanding, like a student may think its about rising from the bed and studying till you pass your exam, however the true meaning is to rise from this state of animality to Divinity, to awaken from the slumber of ignorance of body to awakening of soul’s wisdom. The true goal is to realise one’s true divine nature and not stop till achieved. Kodai is yet another opportunity to meet and learn how to lose all selfishness and be Divine, which is selfless love. The place is divine, the people who have come from around the world are Divine and therefore you must also put effort to become Divine, the combination of these three namely, the place, the people and the person will lead to success. He urged students to not merely write down or listen to the talks but put them in to practice. Like the wise student who returned the few seeds given by his guru by sowing them and growing them into a harvest of many more instead of keeping in a cupboard or worshiping as a sacred gift, we must practice and help others as well and not merely listen and talk.
Swami said, “To attain a human birth and aspire for realisation itself is rare, on top of that to have the proximity of an avatar as your guru is the rarest of its kind. But today you all have got back the avatar’s proximity who had left His body, this boon is the rarest of the rare. Realise and utilise it well”.
Swami spoke to a few devotees, had a cake cut by a 8 year old boy and took Arathi. Many more had joined in by then whom Swami blessed as He went upstairs around 7 pm.