Do all good things must end? Perhaps one end is the start of another beginning! For with Swami it’s always a new beginning.
The morning was a bright one where the chirping of the birds was interrupted occasionally by the sound of instruments being tuned or the voices of singers practicing, during the breakfast time for a musical offering by the devotees from around the world! Yes, you read it right, for the devotee artists from countries like , Australia, Bali, Fiji, Greece, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Russia, Singapore, U.K.,USA, UAE and the children as young as 5 year old were all preparing a music program to present to the Lord!
Swami had His breakfast and then all of a sudden asked the boys who were serving to leave the vessels and come to the balcony on the northern side of His room overlooking the Valley. He then asked them to bring a Chair and position it in a particular place for the most cherished ‘photo session’ with Swami in the evening. He wanted the Kodai forests and hills in the background. Swami said, ” last year we had photos in the lawns, so let’s have it in the balcony this year, that would be different”. He planned it well ahead, in the morning itself!
After granting a few interviews, Swami came down where all were seated ready to sing their hearts out. After a round of Darshan, dressed in white silk, He sat in the chair and indicated that the program may begin. It was a pleasant surprise indeed when a little girl from Fiji offered a ‘song of hope’ in English and Fijian language, in a voice so innocent and pure that it filled all our hearts. Swami kept staring at her, as if spellbound!
More children took the mics, as a young lad played the key notes on the harmonium, and they sang gleefully! A little girl from bangalore sang a song that meant, ” Don’t tell God that you have big difficulties, but tell the difficulties that you have a big God”.
Swami was quite amused and appreciated their innocent efforts.
Thereafter a few songs were offered by the devotees from abroad, each so deep in devotion that it made the time stand still! The icing of the cake was the performance by our own dear Brother Dimitris playing on the keyboard, ‘unbelievable’ is all one can say about his performance! So effortlessly divine!
After the performances, Swami announced the Picnic on the lawns with Bro Vijay Sai and his wife being the conductors of fun games, Anthyakshari and pick and speak or act or do whatever Swami ordains!
Swami gave a short break to make the arrangements outside as He gave an interview in the meantime.
Soon He was back amidst the devotees who were eagerly waiting for the fun to begin!
Bro Vijay Sai announced that during all the events, the quiz master’s decision would not be the final one but Lord’s decision would be, to the delight of all! The rounds of Anthyakshari began, a game of bhajan songs where the next team needs to start a bhajan from the letter, with which the previous team has ended a bhajan! Swami observed it keenly and was delighted to see that the team of students was doing well! The next round was about guessing a bhajan based on the 5 clues given, the earlier you guess the more points you earn. The very first question to the team ‘Sathya’ of ladies and children was a tough one, therefore Swami assured them to not worry as He was with them and would help them with GRACE MARKS! Which he did, when the scores were announced and the ladies were short of 15 points to be on top, He simply granted them the grace marks and made them equal to the highest scoring team. Well can one ever lose a game with Lord by their side? Whether for fun or for real! The game took an interesting turn during ‘Dumb Charades’ where a team member had to enact without lisping the bhajan which the team needed to guess! Yet again as Swami was picking the chits carrying the bhajans to be enacted, He kept opening chits and skipping them till He got the easiest one which He gave to the ladies!! Divine Nepotism , well… all is fair in Love and war as they say! Love, being the case here!!
Pick and do whatever Swami says brought out some of the hidden talents when Narasimhamurthy Sir sang a bhajan and when Mrs Wendy from Australia sang and danced to a lullaby of the aboriginals! Got to salute their sportive attitude!
Swami took a pick on Bro Vijay Sai when he went on suggesting some difficult tasks to Swami to be told to the elders. He called out the next name from the list as ‘Vijay Sai’ though his name wasn’t there! Then He told Vijay Sai, ” Oh! You boast to be a teacher of English, now tell the 26 alphabets of English language, but in the reverse order! A twist to otherwise a simple task! Of course with the help of his students sitting right in front, he managed to accomplish it, but Swami’s watchful eyes did not miss it as He said, ” Oh this is cheating, first Vijay Sai helps the students and now students are helping him”.
The musical chair made our sides split as we saw the elderly running like little children, literally to our tunes. But the most amazing thing was their childlike enthusiasm in front of their divine parent! As the number of chairs were reduced after every round of music, the game got exciting till only two each were left on the ladies and gents side! Ultimately to every one’s surprise, the winners were septuagenarians!
Finally when the results were to be announced, with ‘grace marks’ all teams seem to be at the same score. So again our conductor, Bro Vijay Sai, asked for the trouble by suggesting the ‘tie breaker’ and so Swami called him again and gave him a task to act like the devotee Jayadeva which he did many years ago as a student in a drama. Bro Vijay Sai did it well and pleased
Swami, as he asked while acting like Jayadeva ” Oh my sweet lord, give me some sweets”, Swami handed over a whole basket of Sweets to him laughing aloud!!
Soon the games were over and Swami gave gifts and sweets to all equally as He said that for Him all are equal for His way is of cooperation and not competition! Swami narrated a wonderful story of Akbar and Birbal to substantiate this. Once when the jealous courtiers tried to frame Birbal by seeking answer to the question as to why the King doesn’t have hair on his palms, Birbal cleverly replied that the benevolent emperor is always giving and so his hands are too busy to grow any hair. The disappointed couriers posed another question as to why does Birbal himself not have hair on his palms. The quick witted Birbal replied addressing the emperor, ” oh King! You keep giving and keep receiving all the time so I too have smooth palms”. The emperor amused by this asked finally as to why the courtiers don’t have hair on their palms? The clever Birbal said, ” your majesty, when you give and I receive, they watch and rub their palms in jealousy so they too don’t have hair on the palms”. However, Swami said, ” Our case here is different, for in my court as I give and you receive all the others clap out of joy and therefore all our palms are soft and smooth”.
The fun filled morning ended as Swami blessed all and returned to His room for lunch.
The final Kodai session for the year 2016! With hearts filled with gratitude, everyone assembled at 4pm. Bhagawan had graciously announced a photo session, as the first programme for the afternoon. Various groups were formed, and everyone got the opportunity to get a picture clicked in Bhagawan’s balcony on the first floor.
Bhagawan Himself first went to the balcony and adjusted and readjusted the position of the chair, so that all would get a good photo in the light of the western sun. He would ask the chair to be placed and then ask Brother Madhusudan and Sri Narasimha Murthy to stand by His side, and ask the photographers to click a photo, see it for Himself and if not satisfied, would repeat the same drill by readjusting the position of His chair in the balcony. He did this thrice before He was convinced that the position would be good to have group photos. Divine Perfection!
The weather was beautiful, sunlight was perfect and the Divine Director orchestrated the entire affair, which lasted for almost a couple of hours. Endless streams of groups, happy and blissful faces was indeed a sight to watch!
Bhagawan gave every person a beautifully framed photograph of Himself, and He ensured that everyone posed with the same, saying “Sai is always with you!”
Looking at the devotees come and go He said, ” See! All of you are coming and going, whereas I am the only one who is staying here!”.
He is the only constant in this changing world! Nithya, Suddha, Buddha, Muktha, Nirmala Swaroopinam, in His own words!
When people would bend to take Namaskar, He would hurry them away, “Aye! don’t take Namaskar now. I will come down and give Namaskar to all. Go quickly so that others can come, else the Sun would set and some will miss the nice photographs. You and I are here but the Sun will not be there in a few minutes. We must hurry to make use of the light”. (How important is it to transform an opportunity in to our destiny through our efforts? Swami has come back again for us even after leaving His body, something that no Avatar has done. We must make good use of this most precious opportunity, shouldn’t we?!)
Swami, not merely ensured that the position was correct, but He would ask the photographers to give the count of ‘1,2,3 Smile’ so that all photos would be perfect! He would also ensure that equal number of people are sitting, standing or kneeling on either sides to have a good balanced picture! He even lovingly chided a few when they would fold their hands without holding the photograph in the position He wanted, and even asked people not to be miserly with their smiles! Ah, the Divine Director that He is, would not be satisfied unless perfected! He ensured his young photographers were capturing the valleys and nature in the background, and lovingly ensured this many times over. Every frame had to be perfect!
After the photo session, everyone assembled back at the bhajan hall in the ground floor and the Lord arrived for the ‘Gratitude Programme’ lovingly prepared by the students and alumni. After a couple of soulful solo renditions,Bhagawan commanded the singers to offer qawaalis and other popular songs which everyone knew. Timeless and evergreen songs including ‘Humko Tumse Pyaar Kitna’ were tearfully offered at Bhagawan’s Lotus Feet. Not a dry eye in the room!
Three students spoke thereafter offering gratitude to their beloved Mother Sai, for giving them this unique and blessed opportunity. The speeches were in Hindi, Kannada and English, with instances of gratitude from their life. The Lord beckoned Sri Narasimha Murthy to say a few words on gratitude thereafter. He quoted Gurudev Ravindranath Tagore and said, “If we do not sing our song, our hearts would break.” He also quoted the famous lines of A J Gaertner, “To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.” He urged everyone to live in gratitude all the time. He said Gratitude comes out of faith, love and contentment.
Swami advised everyone saying that one must be grateful to the others.Swami acknowledged the services rendered by everyone to make the Kodai trip indeed memorable, blissful and without any hiccups! Thereafter, all the kitchen staff and other general staff took Swami’s blessings. ‘My Life is My Message’, and truly enough, if we were to emulate even one aspect from Swami’s life, we are certainly on the divine path to reach our destination!
After Aarthi, prasadam and a few interviews, Swami retired for the day.
Swami narrated an incident that happened when He was a school boy playing a drama. “In our village, two dramas were being staged, and one was ‘Mahabharata’. In this drama, there was the role of Draupadi.
The other drama was ‘Harishchandra.’
There the lady character, the heroine, is Taramati. These days in dramas and films, both men and women act together. In those days, only men played even the role of the women also. Even men put on sarees and had the costumes of a lady and would act as a lady. But there are very few number of men who can play the role of women.
Both dramas were to be staged on the same day. The man who had to play one of the roles of women, could not come because of a stomach ache. So, two roles of lady and one of them could not make it. Therefore, they requested the man who was playing the role of Draupadi in Mahabharata drama to play the role of Taramati in Harishchandra. He accepted. First he finished his role as Draupadi in Mahabharata drama, then went to do the role of Taramati. In Taramati drama – Harishchandra, when Taramati’s son died, the mother had to cry but the actor refused to shed a tear. He said, “Already playing the role of Draupadi, I have cried enough, now I can’t cry. I can’t cry, I will just act.” The director told him, “Your son has died. You have to cry.” “No, no crying. I have got a headache, I will not cry. If you want me, I will play the role, otherwise I will quit.”
If you don’t play your role properly in the drama of life, there will be total confusion. In this drama, you may be a father or a mother or a son, you have to play your role properly. After the drama is over, you remove your costumes and you know what you are. Suppose the man playing the role of Draupadi thinks he is Draupadi and he puts on the same costume and keeps on thinking that way, it is a big mistake. He will become a laughing stock and that is not the truth. Therefore, the whole world is a drama of illusion. God has given different roles to different people.”
Swami said that if everybody plays his or her role well, he will get proximity to God, divine grace and get another opportunity to play a good role. “All this is fancy dress. God Himself is putting on various costumes and playing different roles. It is not different people actually. There is only one divine principle in everybody. The same God is putting on various roles and acting those roles!”
After arathi, prasadam distribution and interviews, Swami granted a few interview to those who were leaving and retired for the day.