Soon after the Rama Navami celebrations concluded on the night of March 25, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba was all set to leave on a long trip to Dubai, UK and Europe with His entourage. This time the entourage included 14 graduates, the first batch from the Sri Sathya Sai Centre for Human Excellence. The excited students were indeed grateful to the Lord, as Swami had ensured everything from clothes to bags were given to these students for their international travel. First stop being Dubai, as always, Swami was to bless the residence of Sri Vishal and Smt Pooja Chhabria, and Sri Madan and Smt Shobhna Gupta. Upon arrival on the afternoon of March 26 at Dubai International Airport, many devotees had gathered to lovingly welcome Bhagawan’s entourage. Sri Vishal Chhabria led the convoy of cars with Bhagawan seated beside him, and proceeded to his residence ‘Aasthaa’, which means faith. Faith and love as two sides culminate as the coin of devotion, which was evident in the emotional welcome Swami was given as He entered the residence. He walked around talking to the family and a few gathered close friends in a very casual way, and then proceeded to His room for lunch. Swami spoke to everyone, and then called His students to His room to show them how lovingly devotees like the Chhabrias prepare His room and ensure every comfort is provided to Swami around the world. One may wonder why all this is done, as Swami does not have a physical body anymore. Why so many dishes are prepared for Him? Why are new robes stitched for Him? Why does His room have everything from a toothpaste to His bedroom footwear? The answer is simple, anything done with love for God is devotion, this is spirituality, and this is love for love’s sake!
After a brief rest, Swami came down to the living room at around 7:15 p.m. where close to 100 people had gathered. A few devotional songs were presented by a professional singer, and soon after Riddhi Chhabria, daughter of Sri Vishal and Smt Pooja welcomed Swami and the gathering. Swami then beckoned Sri Vishal Chhabria to also say a few words, but his words gave way to tears of gratitude for Swami’s divine presence in his home. Thereafter, legendary cricketer Sri Sunil Gavaskar addressed everyone and placed at Swami’s feet the unethical goings on with the game of cricket. He prayed to Swami for a solution, where all can come together and realise the love for each other. Sri C Sreenivas was the next speaker, and reminisced his association with Sri Sunil Gavaskar. He spoke about the overpowering presence of Swami which brings about a certain sense of peace which is beyond understanding. “The feeling of oneness and contentment happens in His presence. Focus on anything and everything in life takes us closer to success, and discipline is a cardinal virtue. Gavaskar focused on cricket, it was his life.” Sri Sreenivas compared the life of Swami and Sunil Gavaskar, and explained to Swami’s young entourage of students to take out valuable lessons of life from them.
Sri B N Narasimha Murthy in his speech reminded everyone to ‘Love All and Serve All’. But how can everyone love all? He said when one realises the presence of God in everyone, and all that is there in this world is temporary, that is when they will truly love God, and therefore will love all. Sri Narasimha Murthy went on to talk about the three most important things – Human birth, urge to know God, and the association of the good and noble. “Only knowing God will grant ultimate happiness. The one who realises God within oneself will be truly happy!”
Swami in His divine discourse said, “Having asked what you have already asked for, having known what you already know, having reached where you have reached, can you call yourselves happy? Lord Krishna defined the nature of the world by saying, ‘Anithyam Asukam Lokam’ – this world is temporary and full of misery, and does not grant permanent happiness. If you go to a shoe store and ask for garments, or if you go to a garment store and ask for a Dosa, obviously the shop keeper is going to ask you to read the board outside the store. Likewise, there is board on this world written by God – ‘Anithyam Asukam Lokam’. Do whatever you want in this world, but you are NOT going to find permanency or true happiness here. Now without reading this board, if you ignorantly enter this world and expect to be happy always by the things of the world, it is NOT going to happen! And who is to be blamed? You! Because you did not read the board before entering! Most of the time happiness is defined externally by what others say, by position, power, popularity and fame. But if you define it from within, that happiness stays. This ignorance is leading man to engaging in unethical ways. That which comes from outside is only pleasure, not happiness! Remember that whatever you do, will come back to you someday or the other, this is the law of the world!” Mangala Arati was offered after the discourse, and after a few interviews, Swami’s dinner was served.
The next morning, March 27, breakfast was a traditional affair of Sindhi and South Indian dishes. Soon after, Swami blessed a few families with interviews, and just before Arati a beautiful Pada Pooja was performed amidst Vedic Mantras by the family priest. After blessing the family and gathered devotees profusely, Swami proceeded to Sai Hrudayam, the residence of Smt Shobhna and Sri Madan Gupta, who epitomise devotion and dedication to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai, who is felt in their heart, as they never had His Darshan in His physical. The Lord entered the living room amidst Bhajans and close to 60 people had gathered to welcome their Master, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, on His seventh visit to Sai Hrudayam. After a few Bhajans, Swami spoke to all gathered for a bit, before having His lunch. He explained about God’s Grace and said “God’s grace is like an umbrella which protects from rain, it is like a shoe which protects from stones and thorns. Bad times cannot be avoided. It is like good and bad, day and night, pleasure and pain. But with the grace of God, you can go through the bad times with a smile. Love all, serve all and win the grace of God!”
Sai Hrudayam was abuzz with preparations for the evening Satsang, and close to 150 people gathered in the evening to listen to the voice of God! The evening commenced with a welcome speech by both Mr and Mrs Gupta, followed by a couple of soulful songs by two young girls. Two heart touching speeches were the next in the agenda for the evening.
Brother Jeevanresh was the first speaker of the evening. He quoted a story from Devi Bhagawatham which Swami had narrated to the students many years ago, where the Lord Himself had revealed that He was the Absolute One. Brother Jeevan reminded how fortunate all were to be seated in His divine presence. He reminisced when he had Swami’s first Darshan during the Shivaratri of 2000, and a couple of other experiences with Swami from his life.
Sister Swapna Janardanan, an alumna from the Anantapur Campus of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, was the next speaker. On Swami’s command she spoke about how she became a Sai student, and few other instances from her life which described how Swami took care of her and her family. She said, “We are in His fold and it’s Him, not because we wanted to be, but because He wanted us! So we have to feel blessed and grateful for being the chosen few.” She concluded with a prayer submitting herself to Swami and asking Him to hold her hands so that even if she forgets or leaves His hand, He should still hold her close to Him. As she went to take Padanamaskar, Swami revealed to all that she wrote this prayer at the end of all her letters while she was a student. He added that’s why He has been taking care of her all these years, and then He also told that she wrote the same prayer in her last letter to Swami while graduating from College! The merciful One!
Thereafter, a short video presentation of the various Seva activities were shown. The presentation also had snippets of many people talking about the transformation their have witnessed in themselves through the selfless act of Seva. The devotees from Dubai are also blessed to support the Hassan Campus, Sri Sathya Sai Sathyaniketanam, and a Newsletter on the Campus was released by Swami.
Swami then beckoned Sri B N Narasimha Murthy who spoke about how God is permanent. “The goal of life is God realisation, that alone will put an end to all suffering, and bless all with a sense of fulfillment and oneness with God. One may amass wealth, name and fame, but all this is transient, and only the experience of God will give the fulfillment.” Sri Narasimha Murthy went on to narrate about the establishment of the various Campuses, including the Hassan Campus. He also spoke about the two goals of education – Jeevanaupadhi, education that imparts knowledge and skills to lead lives, and Jeevitha Paramavadhi, God realisation, which is the ultimate goal of life. He shared the wonderful news about the upcoming University, Sri Sathya Sai University for Human Excellence, which will be inaugurated in June 2018. Swami had said that graduates from this University will emerge as Gods, and Sri Narasimha Murthy concluded his talk by saying that transforming human beings into God, is God’s favourite work every time He incarnates!
Padmasri B R Shetty, Founder and non Executive Chairman of the Abu Dhabi based NMC Healthcare, a well-known visionary and charismatic entrepreneur from the UAE, and an ardent devotee of Sai, addressed the gathering next. He spoke about his life, his struggles and challenges, when he moved to the UAE in 1972, with barely 8 dollars in his pocket. He owed his success to the Lord whose unseen hand was at every step of his life. Currently playing a key role in various philanthropic initiatives around the world, Sri B R Shetty expressed his support towards Swami’s Sanjeevani healthcare mission.
Swami in His very short speech said, “In all the 18 Puranas which Vyasa has composed, he gave the essence of all of them as – ‘Paropakaraya Punyaya Paapaaya Parapidanam’ – To help others is merit, to hurt others is sin. One may not be a scholar or a Pandit or Brahmin, but one can definitely be a good human being by helping others, and not hurting others. In daily life, through thought, words and deed, is all that is required to be a man of merit!”
Swami then distributed Sarees to all the ladies of the Sai Hrudayam group. Coincidentally or Sai incidentally, it was also the birthday of one of the graduates, Bhanu Prakash, and a cake was brought in the divine presence to celebrate with the traditional cake cutting. He is the topper amongst those graduated in science from the Sri Sathya Sai Centre for Human Excellence, and also happens to be the Warden for the Hassan campus, which is being supported by Dubai devotees! Mangala Arati was offered and dinner Prasadam was served to all. After dinner, Swami rested for the night.
The next morning, March 28, Swami’s entourage proceeded to the Airport to catch their flight to London. The graduates stayed behind in Dubai for an extra day of sight seeing, before proceeding to Europe to welcome their Lord Sai. Upon arrival at London Heathrow in the evening, members of the Anugraham Trust which included Dr Grish Malhotra, Sri Rajasingam, Sri Sanjeev Tandon, Sri Deepak Mehta and others welcomed everyone with much love. After a two-hour drive amidst light drizzle, everyone reached Chigwell at the Malhotra residence, where Smt Seema Malhotra and the family eagerly received the tired and jet lagged entourage. After a quick dinner, everyone retired for the evening, as the next morning was an early start to Sai Grace Ashram in Darsham, Suffolk.