Everyone woke up to a very cold morning with the sun hiding behind the clouds. Swami was served breakfast at the hotel room which was tastefully decorated to suit His residence. Ingredients were flown in to cook and serve the authentic Indian dishes like, Pongal, Upma, Sambar and chutney. To top it all, delicious and juicy Japanese fruits, the best of their kind in the whole world, made their way to the breakfast table.
After serving breakfast to Swami, His entourage along with Dr Ravi Pillay and Sri Anthony Tan from Singapore, waited for the Lord to emerge from His room. He came out at around 9am and walked straight up to the large French windows of the hotel suite, that revealed a magnificent view of the west Pacific Ocean. Swami said, ” Sun is not seen today, however it does not mean that he is not there. He is very much behind the clouds that have covered our view. Similarly even if God is not seen, He is still there; just that our vision is covered by clouds of doubts. These are passing clouds, and must go to reveal the truth”. A perfect master that He is, does not leave a single opportunity to teach a great lesson, in the most simple and unassuming way!
A small car was brought for Swami as the van seemed to a bit to high, in terms of the climb. Swami was happy with the arrangements. He noticed that the little idol of Ganesha that was kept in the dash board of the van the previous day was shifted to the car that morning. Swami also did not miss the eyes of Ganesha which were very similar to the eyes of Japanese people. Swami remarked, “This is Japanese Ganesha, as the people of Japan would conceptualise Him. But He is the same Ganesha still, isn’t it? Like wise same God gets perceived and conceptualised in different faiths in different ways, reflecting their culture and values”. Another lesson!
The car and the van proceeded to the same venue as the previous day, the beautiful chapel- resort set amidst the most picturesque hills, “Amagi Sanso”. Swami was greeted with Vedic chants of Rudram by the Japanese youth and devotees. All the ladies were clad in either their traditional dress, “Kimono” or the “Indian Sarees”, just to please their Lord, who loves tradition. Swami in the car said, “Look at these youth, how gracefully and sincerely they have embraced the Indian culture and learnt the Vedas; where as Indian youth are shunning it, what a pity!”
Swami went to the chapel where around 200 devotees were waiting for Him. Mellifluous bhajans were in progress, just as in all His ashrams, but the difference was that the singers and musicians, all were Japanese. It was amazing to hear them sing the famous bhajans like, Chita Chora, Dhimita Dhimita Dhim, Ram Ram Sai Rama and the likes. After a few bhajans, Swami indicated that the music program which could not be conducted the previous evening due to lack of time could commence.
A few youth and devotees, men and women, came up to the stage and presented four songs, of which two were Japanese folk and traditional songs, set to the tune of the piano. There were tears in the eyes of the singers as they sang their heart out to their Lord. Swami particularly recognised an elderly lady singer and blessed her specially remembering that she was the one who taught bhajans to people in Japan in early years. Swami did not forget her services!
After the program, Mr Genzo Makino, introduced the speakers, Mr Sreenivas and Mr Narasimha Murthy. He voiced out the prayers of all the devotees that Swami should come every year to Japan! Sri Sreenivas spoke briefly about this wonderful relation of Swami and His devotees. He acknowledged the blissful experience he had when he heard the soulful rendering of songs. He recollected an incident from the past when Swami had gone to a public theatre for a private screening of the famous movie “Shridi ke Sai Baba”. It was his good fortune to accompany Swami in His car sitting by His side, both on onward and return journey to the theatre in Bangalore. After watching the movie sitting right next to the same Sai Baba about whom the movies was, he was asked a question by Swami as they were returning to Whitefield. The question was: What did you like in the movie?
Sri C Sreenivas recollected the scene towards the end when Lakshmibai who served Shirdi Baba for over 50 years, asks Him the question, ” Who are you Baba?”. And Baba’s response was a divine smile! No words spoken. Mr Sreenivas asked the same question to Swami in the car, “Who are you Swami?” To which Swami also responded only with a smile. No words were exchanged for the next part of the journey. Soon they reached Brindavan and Swami alighted, and proceeded to the residence, but no words were spoken by Him. Sri Sreenivas only had this to say that Swami has been a mystery to all, no one could know who He is. He still continues in His own divine ways that none can understand.
The next speaker was Sri Narasimha Murthy, who submitted that the closest way of describing Swami is that He is Love and Love alone. He recollected his days spent at Swami’s feet, since he came to Him as a boy of 19 in 1964. After having written three volumes of His biography, he hasn’t understood anything other than the fact that He is Love which continues to flow through education, healthcare and other social initiatives ceaselessly till today.
Swami was next to speak. He said that in our scriptures it is mentioned that God has thousand feet, hands, heads, eyes and ears. He is everywhere. Swami asked, “What does this mean? Do you really think that God is a being with so many limbs? Not true. It only means that all are God, for He resides in all and therefore all their bodies and limbs belong to Him.
This realisation is the goal of our lives. First have faith that God alone is true and your real self is Divine. Only then will you be able to take the steps necessary to understand and realise this. You don’t need any proof from the scriptures to tell you this, if you simply believe that you are divine because Swami says so, it’s enough. Then why are you not experiencing your divinity? Because like the black soot that covers the flame, your divinity is covered by impurities. Since it took many years to these impurities to accrue, obviously it will take some time and effort to clean it up. But the divine flame is still burning deep within. All that is selfish, and needs to be given up to attain this state of divinity. You all are fortunate that you have Swami to guide you unlike lots of people in the world, who are aimlessly drifting like a ship without a captain. However, even a good teacher can’t make an unwilling student learn and pass. It’s the students who should be willing to learn, put efforts and pass. Don’t procrastinate, your time is now and here. Make best use of this opportunity to evolve spiritually.
You can know me only when you yourself experience my nature, which is divine love. Till then all efforts to explain me are useless. It’s like explaining sweetness to the one who has never tasted a sweet. Sweetness should be experienced by tasting to know its nature. Sweets are many but sweetness is one. Like wise you may be a Japanese or an Indian or an American, however the divinity within is the same.”
He illustrated this with the story to a son and father. Father sent his son for education, but upon his return he enquired whether the son had learnt that knowledge knowing which nothing else remains to be known? Has he learnt about God? The arrogant son went expounding from the Vedas and shastras about the nature of divinity but could not convince his father. The wise father then asked the son to bring a handful of sugar and a pot of water. Father explained that sugar and water are separate now and can be seen distinctly, however upon mixing the two, Sugar disappears in water and could not be seen separately. Then how would one know of sugar was in water. It is only by tasting the sweetness of the water that one can know about it. Similarly God is present in all, but he can’t be know by seeing and describing, it is only through experience that one can know God.
Swami urged that all devotees to put efforts to give up the impurities of selfishness and self interest, have complete faith in one’s divinity and be fearless to follow the path of service thereby attain their true divine goal. Swami answers many questions thereafter for the devotees, so spontaneously and naturally that only He, the fountain head of knowledge is capable of answering and explaining great truths in the most simplest way.
After arathi Swami called the delegates of the Guru Vikas meet from 10 countries for a private audience. Thereafter He has His lunch. Before leaving Swami graciously called all the Japanese volunteers who had organized the event, and blessed them all with His advice and guidance promising them of His return again next year.
Swami told them, Since Makino prayed that I should come only next year so I will do accordingly, had he told me to come twice every year I would have done that too!” All the devotees cried out, “Please come again and again”. Swami agreed to come next year again during the first week of April, when it would not be as cold as it was now.
After having filled all their hearts with love and joy, Swami left the venue to visit a temple, ” Shen Zen”, that was constructed by a wandering Monk 800 years ago in a small town. This monk was instrumental in spreading the teachings of Buddhism all across Japan. The belief is that the monk by name ” KOOKAI” still lives there, and therefore food is served everyday.
After a brief visit to the temple, Swami and the guests returned to the Hotel at Izukogen around sunset.