the Lotus Feet of our most beloved Bhagavan,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
DIVINE TRIP PLANNING
Swami for having made this session to cover the details of the
Divine trip toDelhiand
Shimla. My friends, I was very fortunate to have been selected to
accompany Bhagavan during this trip. In fact, for the two days prior
to the Divine trip people were talking about it. Some were giving
their own dates, others were saying, “He may go here and not there.”
Some were guessing the names of the people who might accompany
Swami. Everything was up in the air, and nothing was finalised.
around April 6th, the plans were finalised. We came to
know who was to accompany Swami and the places they would visit. It
was clear that Swami would start from here on April 9th,
that He would go toDelhiand
spend a couple of days there, and then proceed to Shimla for a day
or two. The selected boys were told of their inclusion in the Divine
THE DIVINE TRIP COMMENCES
friends, the fascinating thing is this: Bhagavan visitedDelhieleven
years ago for the inauguration of the Sri Sathya Sai International
Stadium inDelhi. The Sri Sathya Sai
International Centre inDelhihas
so many activities to its credit. The Sri Sathya Sai International
Centre is managed by experts like GeneralChibbarof
the Indian Army,MaharajRasagotraof
the Indian Foreign Service, and some past governors and lieutenant.
governors. Top people manage the Sri Sathya Sai International Centre
by Bhagavan eleven years ago! Therefore, people inDelhiwere eagerly waiting for Him all these
years. Now you can understand how anxious they were to have Him in
On April 9th,
the boys and elders selected for the trip started forSriSathyaSaiAirportlocated
in Prashanthi Nilayam. The time of departure was. As you may know, the summer is extraordinarily
severe this year with scorching sun and severe heat--it is
unbearable! You cannot walk because of the heat! But strangely
enough, devotees started lining up on either side of the road all
the way to the airport to greet Bhagavan, and to bid Him farewell! I
saw some devotees standing on the hills and on the water tanks! Some
had climbed trees to have a glimpse of Bhagavan. Nowhere else would
this happen in severe summer heat!
reached the airport and entered the plane. It was a chartered
Kingfisher flight from Puttaparthi toDelhi. The group comprised
eighteen students and ten elders, and all of us were seated
comfortably. The captain and members of the crew started lining up
Swami. They touched His Feet. After receiving His blessings, the
pilot asked for His permission, saying, “Bhagavan, shall we fly
now?” Here I want to tell you a very interesting thing. The captain
of the Kingfisher flight that morning happened to be a formerBalvikasstudent
fromKanpur. The pilot
of today was aBalvikaschild
of long ago! You can estimate his joy! Now he was the pilot of the
aircraft in which Bhagavan was seated! His joy knew no bounds! He
We reachedDelhiaround. All
were busy at theIndiraGandhi
Airport in New Delhi. Bhagavan left the plane first and we all
followed Him. The Chief
Minister of Andhra Pradesh,Rosaih,
received Him and touched His feet, welcoming Swami to the capital of
the nation,New Delhi. That’s how our journey to New Delhi
SRI SATHYA SAI INTERNATIONAL
straight to the Sri Sathya Sai International Centre inNew Delhi. It is a three-storey building, brick
red in colour. From a distance it looks like a monumental building
of great architectural beauty! The colour is similar to the Red Fort
of India in Delhi. The building has a basement wherebhajansare
held every day. Thebhajansare
attended by 4,000 to 5,000 people, closely packed.
floor has corridors all around it, with a lift to the second floor
where there are guest rooms. The third floor was exclusively for
Bhagavan. All of the guest rooms were well furnished and very
comfortable. Next to the International Centre is a school building,
which is connected to the centre. Such a beautiful building, I tell
you! The whole building
is full of illumination!
of the main door of the centre building was a hugeshamianah(tent).
a greenish yellow colour and had some frills calledchandiniall
around it. There was a thick red carpet on the ground and a few
chairs for VIPs. In front of the chairs there was enough room for
three or four rows of VIPs to sit on the carpet. When Swami came
through the main door, He could see the VIPs at close quarters. So
all the way to the school building, where a special stage was
raised. Such a beautiful, panoramic view: the greenish yellow tent,
red carpet below, and cushioned chairs with white covers. Very nice!
slightly lower level on one side there were many chairs for the VIP
ladies, that is, wives of cabinet ministers or governors. Moving
further down and at a slightly higher level, there was a huge, red
carpeted stage. At the centre of the stage, on the top was a
rose-coloured canopy, or achandiniunder
which Swami sat. So Bhagavan was seated in front of that hugepandalwhere
at least 10,000 to 15,000 people can be seated comfortably. Here the
carpet was brown in its colour, theshamianahwas
red, with rainbow coloured fabric draped all around. Men were seated
on one side, ladies on the other side and in the centre was a path
for Swami with a violet coloured carpet from one end to the other.
There were two large screens so that everyone seated far away could
see Bhagavan. That was the arrangement in front of Sri Sathya Sai
International Centre in New Delhi!
held in the morning and evening. I am happy to report that thebhajanswere
excellent and of very high standard, particularly from the ladies:
full of melody, depth of feeling, and emotion. I understand there
They maintained traffic, were responsible for all the arrangements,
monitored Bhagavan’s convoy, supplied the water, and maintained the
not only fromDelhi; they were also from
neighbouring states likeHaryanaandChandigarh. There were a sizeable number of old
students ofSathyaSaiUniversity, numbering two hundred. They
did a beautiful job!
to stay on the second floor, and noticed every guest enjoying
wonderful hospitality, an excellent reception, and the best,
unparalleled service. On one side of the second floor was a big
dining hall where Swami sat. On either side of Him, there were
chairs. We had our breakfast, lunch, evening tea, and dinner
everyday with Swami. I was very happy.
dining session, Swami would enquire, “Anil Kumar, how have you
India, food is not spicy as in Andhra Pradesh where I
come from. We are used to spicy food, and moreover, I come from theGunturDistrict,
which is a very hot area and we relish only hot stuff! At each
session Swami would enquire, “How are you? How is the food? Did you
get pickles? Where are the pickles? Have they served you?” That
enquiry, made every morning and evening, made me feel at home, and
ever grateful to Bhagavan for His personal concern, and the tender
care that was extended to me. Yes, I have no words to thank Him!
started staring at me, and asking for my opinion and comments on the
food served: “How do you like this item? How do you like that?” In
other words, I became an expert at giving my opinion about the
delicious items served! It was all fun, you see! That’s how God
comes close to His devotees. If God stays far away on a high
pedestal, we cannot communicate with Him. So He comes down to our
level, He communicates, He communes, He jokes and laughs! That’s how
He comes closer and closer to devotees.
FIRST CULTURAL PROGRAMME
day of our visit toDelhi, on the morning of April 10th,
the children from slum areas staged a cultural programme full of
dance and music. It was interesting. Incidentally, I may tell you
has gone to the slum areas. The poorest of the poor are also
benefiting from aBalvikaseducation
programme. They were well-dressed. They danced and sang, and Swami
was happy. He blessed all the children and also theBalvikasgurus.
VISIT TO DWARAKA STADIUM
forty minute drive from the Centre is the Dwaraka Stadium, which can
easily accommodate 50,000 people. Swami visited the Dwaraka Stadium
twice or thrice during His stay in Delhi. On April 10th,
we went to Dwaraka Stadium in a car convoy. Every car had asevadalman
with a walkie-talkie facility, the cell phone. Thesevadalkept
talking on the phone, “Hello, how are we doing? Where are we going?
Shall we turn to the left or right? The car in the front, are you in
the correct track? How far are we from Dwaraka Stadium? Where is the
convoy? Where is the security? Is Bhagavan’s car moving?” They
monitored every step. Every movement of every vehicle was
efficiently managed, as if by trained military personnel! It was
really fantastic! The convoy comprised about fifty cars. There were
two security jeeps in the front and two behind Swami’s car. This was
followed by fifty cars. That was the convoy of Bhagavan!
Stadium is a vast area, an open stadium with huge grounds. On one
side is a parking area. A very big dais was specially raised for the
cultural programmes and for Bhagavan’s seat, where He could shower
His Grace and grant Hisdarshanto
50,000 people seated in front of Him. The stage was huge and covered
with a dark blue carpet. On the top was ashamianahwith
rainbow colours. In front of the dais there was some open space.
Behind that open space wereshamianahs,eight
or ten feet high,thin
and soft white in colour, withchandinior
frills all around, over a red carpet. Some 50,000 gents and ladies
were nicely seated. They were supplied with drinking water in the
friends, Delhi was burning hot! It was not comfortable to walk in
forty-three or forty-four degrees Celsius! It felt as if there was
fire on your cheeks. You had to hold kerchiefs on both sides of your
face when walking. You might feel more comfortable sitting on a fire
rather than walking on the street! It was so hot that theDelhinewspapers
reported record heat over fifty-two years! But heat or cold does not
matter to devotees coming for Baba’sdarshan.
Heat or cold does not matter to Baba granting Hisdarshanto
all the devotees. Devotees had transcended the climate. Devotees had
gone beyond the temperature, or else it would be unimaginable to be
evening of April 10th, theDelhiBalvikaschildren
staged a cultural programme, which was quite interesting. It
represented the day-to-day life of a person, busy with all his
computers and newspapers. Life has become a market place. No one has
any time to spare. So the present day life was well depicted by theBalvikaschildren
THE SYMPOSIUM: “SAI
evening of April 11th, we were at theMavlankarAuditorium
has a seating capacity of approximately 3,000 people. It was a
beautiful auditorium, like our college auditorium, with compact,
cushioned chairs, as in a gallery. Swami sat on the stage. A
symposium was organised that evening. On either side of the stage
were huge, very imposing posters of Swami. People looked at all the
pictures and posters of the teachings of Swami which were hung
around the auditorium.
of the symposium was “Sai
Human Development” or “Sai
Human Progress”. The entire gathering was welcomed by the Air
Marshal, or Air Chief,Suri.
In a most befitting way, he welcomed Swami toDelhiafter
an absence of eleven years. He welcomed the vast gathering, and
introduced the speakers of the day. There were three speakers: the
first was SunilMittal, the head ofAirtel,
a cell phone company.Mittalis
a very rich man, a top industrialist.Surisaid,
his business in a very humble way, with a capital investment ofRs.
25,000. Today he managesRs.
ten million)!” How he has grown in stature in the communication
field! The second speaker was our former Vice-Chancellor of theSriSathyaSaiUniversity,
Sri S. V.Giri.
The third speaker was also a former Vice Chancellor of Sri Sathya
Sai University, Prof. G. Venkatraman.
the programme of the day. But what interested me is this: it wasMittalwho
said, frankly and openly, “Bhagavan, I am not a devotee. But my
wife, my brothers-in-law, my parents-in-law are Your devotees. They
visit You; they worship You. My children, who are receiving higher
education abroad, were blessed by You long ago. Our family is doing
well because of Your blessings.” Then he said, “Swami, I am inspired
by Your message! I am inspired by Your illustrious example. I
started three hundred and fifty schools in which five thousand
children, mostly girls, receive their education. With Your
blessings, Bhagavan, I would like to extend these education
facilities to a total of onelakh(100,000)
students in the near future. I pray for Your blessings.” That’s whatMittalsaid.
When he said these words, it touched my heart, I tell you! As a
matter of fact, everyone must have been literally moved by his
followed by S. V.Giri,
who explained the education programme of Bhagavan, includinggramaseva.
He also mentioned the water project and the medical services in
Prashanthi Nilayam. His talk was followed by Professor G.
Venkatraman, the former Vice Chancellor of Sri Sathya Sai University
and the Director of Sai Radio for Global Harmony and Sri Sathya Sai
Digital Studio in Prashanthi Nilayam. G. Venkatraman used
audio-visual aids. PowerPoint presentations were projected on two
huge screens. He explained all the details of the water project
undertaken by Bhagavan Baba. What wasAnantapurDistrict
before? What isAnanthapurDistrict
today? How did people survive before the water project, suffering
from the shortage of water, walking miles and miles to fetch a pot
full of water! He showed how the water tanks were built, how the
pipes were laid, and how happy people are today! In addition, some
of the beneficiaries were interviewed. The audio-visual presentation
by Venkatraman was certainly impressive.
DRAMA AND DANCES IN MAVLANKAR
the symposium, in the sameMavlankarAuditorium,
'old boys' (meaning former students of theSriSathyaSaiUniversity), along with the youth from
a drama. They acted very well. The theme was about a man leading a
simple, yet happy, life. He got married and suddenly confronted a
problem. His mother-in-law came and said, “Why don’t you go abroad?
Why don’t you earn more money?” With that the whole problem started!
wife became very disturbed, due to the influence of her mother. She
goaded her husband to earn more, buy more gold, and go abroad. The
boy was restless, without peace. But with a turn of events, the old
lady understood that all the gold and currency were useless. Then
the family realised the value of a spiritual life. That’s how the
family finally settled down and created a happy home. The family
members became totally contended with whatever they had.
had a good message. There were also one or two dances. Swami really
enjoyed the jokes. The humour in the drama made Swami laugh. We were
very happy about that!
A MEMORABLE VISIT TO BAHA'ITEMPLE
12th, Swami wanted all of us to visit theBaha'itemple.
is one of the interesting tourist spots. TheBaha'iSchool
of Philosophy is universal, and was started by a Muslim saint who
strongly believed in the unity of all religions. TheBaha'itemple
is built like a big lotus flower with all its petals opened up. Set
far away from the road, the temple is the very personification of
silence. Silence prevailed all over.
So we went
to theBaha'itemple. Chairs
and benches were brought for us, and a special chair was brought for
Bhagavan. There were a few participants from theBaha'ifaith.
Each one read out passages from Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism.
Scriptures were read from theDhammapada,Quran,
other spiritual texts. There was a musical presentation full of
songs and hymns. The songs were calm, slow, serene, solemn, and
dignified. It was like the echo of the heart, not the beat of the
drum--like a lullaby, a song celestial, a hymn Divine, which takes
you to another plane of consciousness.
the whole thing, I felt Sathya Sai believes in unity of religions,
emphasises the harmony of religions. Both are very much the same,
and hence we thoroughly enjoyed the programme. In front of theBaha'itemple
is a library, an excellent reading room, well-furnished with books
in all languages! We visited that also. Our visit to theBaha'itemple
THE VAISAKHI DAY CELEBRATIONS
13th, there was a special function particularly for
Punjabis: it was New Year’s, orVaisakhiDay.
This was a day of joy, dance, fun, and frolic. Swami distributed
clothes that morning to about one thousand people at the Sai
International Centre. All of the people received clothes distributed
evening we went to the Dwaraka Grounds for a cultural programme. I
tell you, my friends, for that evening the setting was a specially
raised, huge dais, red carpeted, with a beautifulshamianahin
seven colours, in front of fifty thousand people. At one end sat a
group of musicians. They were dressed in all white Punjabi dress,
shirt), with dark blue waist coats. The waist coats had bright,
shining gold buttons on all sides; they sparkled in the floodlights!
There were musicians on the keyboard,tabla,dholakand
drums--all dressed up!
centre sat a well built man, apuccaPunjabi,
a very popular musician named Mr. HansRajHans.
He is very well known inNorth Indiafor
his music. When he started singing, I tell you, my friends, I have
no regrets in life so far, but for the first time in my life I
regretted not knowing Hindi! I do not know Hindi, so I could not
appreciate the words. But many Hindi speaking people told me that
the songs of HansRajwere
of literary excellence, especially composed in praise of Bhagavan.
sat looking at Bhagavan and started singing. The entire gathering of
fifty thousand started clapping. He
is a long-haired man, and it seemed his hair started dancing!
Punjabis are highly expressive, very industrious, hard-working
people full of courage. HansRajmade
the day for us! I felt that Swami should give him a chance to sing
for Bhagavan’s 85thBirthday,
because the music was of that calibre! The compositions were of that
VISIT TO SRI SATHYA SAI VIHAR
14th, Bhagavan was invited to the Sri Sathya SaiVidyaVihar.
The Sathya SaiVidyaViharis
a school under the management of the Sri Sathya Sai Trust,New Delhi. The school is beautiful! The
three-storied building is highly imposing with a large auditorium
where we had lunch. In front of the buildingshamianahswere
specially erected, and beautifully decorated in rainbow colours. The
stage was at least three or four feet high with a red carpet. Swami
everyone, then He came down from the stage to watch theBalvikaschildren
give a wonderful programme.
cultural programme presented by theBalvikaschildren
illustrated three main episodes from the life of Bhagavan Sri Sathya
Sai Baba. In the first episode, Baba as a young boy visited a local
temple along with His friends. He and His friends circled the
Suddenly a monkey jumped up, and caught hold of His feet, saying,
“Don’t move from here!”
All of the
other boys were scared. Young Sathya could not move, and told all
His friends, “I cannot join you in thepradakshina.”
is preventing me. He is saying, ‘You are my LordRama.
This is Hanuman’s temple. How can the Lord go round the temple of
His servant? Swami, I won’t allow You!’”
episode touched the hearts of everyone. Swami was nostalgic about
it. I saw Him deeply moved watching the entire depiction on the
episode was about a British district collector, who went hunting in
a forested area, like theAmmagondavaripalayamarea
close to Puttaparthi. At one spot, the jeep gave him trouble. It
didn’t move, in spite of the driver’s repeated attempts to repair
it. So the British collector got down and asked his driver to find a
mechanic. The driver said, “Sir, no mechanic is available in this
vicinity. But I heard that there is a young boy near here named
Sathya, who will give us the solution.”
collector said, “Go and ask Him.”
driver went and brought Sathya, our present Sathya Sai Baba, who was
a young boy at that time. The young Sathya looked seriously at the
British collector. Even at a young age, He was very firm and highly
courageous. He said, “You shot a tigress and left her two little
cubs crying alone. It is feeding time; they are very hungry, and
they want milk. You shot the mother tiger. What a crime you
district collector apologised and promised that he would find both
cubs, place them in a public zoo, and see that they were brought up
nicely. After some time, the collector brought the skin of the tiger
that he had killed, and gave it to Swami. “Swami, I repent. I regret
very much what I have done. I want You to put this skin under Your
throne, so that it is blessed, as proof that You have excused me.”
Baba blessed him. The same tiger skin you may see today in
Prashanthi Nilayam, under His chair in the Mandir. That was the
third episode, a school arranged a function to raise funds for the
construction of school facilities. A dancer named Rishyendramani was
to perform at the function. Unfortunately, at the eleventh hour
Rishyendramani did not turn up. Rishyendramani was a very famous
dancer. The headmaster and all the teachers were in a panic. The
gathering was already assembled, the stage ready, and it was time
for the dancer to perform. Young Sathya came and said to the
headmaster, “Sir, if you permit me, I will dance.”
Headmaster gave Him a chance, so young Sathya, dressed as
Rishyendramani, danced very well on the stage. He even picked up a
needle from the ground while dancing! In
this feat, a plate is placed on the stage, the dancer stands on the
edge of the plate, holding lamps in both hands and picks up a needle
from the ground. It is a very tough item to perform! Baba did it
successfully in the role of Rishyendramani. Everyone clapped. The
headmaster came to shake hands, but Sathya, dressed as
Rishyendramani, said, “Sir, I am a woman; you cannot touch Me. You
cannot put a chain on My neck. You can pass it on to Me.Namaskar!”
Even then He showed what Indian culture is!
day, the chairman of the local organisation,Subbamma,
who was a very important lady, came to distribute prizes. She was a
great patriot. She came to distribute the prizes, and the young boy
Sathya came. What was the announcement? “Now Rishyendramani will
receive the cup.” Who was Rishyendramani? Young Sathya!
“You are Rishyendramani?”
Madam,” He said.
lifted Him in her arms and kissed Him. That was the talent of Sathya
Sai Baba! All these three episodes were very nicely depicted by theBalvikaschildren
DIVINE SOJOURN TO SHIMLA
news started circulating that Swami would leave for Shimla on April
15th. Shimla is a hill station, a very interesting place
to see for visitors from abroad. People from different countries go
there. Interestingly, Baba had visited Shimla 35 years ago!
the capital of the state of Himachal Pradesh. Most of the people in
Himachal Pradesh are devotees of Baba. They come in thousands toPrasanthiNilayam
every year for service activities. Shimla only has a helipad, so
only small flights can land there.
air-conditioned bus and reached Shimla viaChandigarh. They spent a night in Chandigarh.
The boys told me they had an excellent time while going throughChandigarh! “Sir, it was
a heavenly experience, a life-time experience we will cherish!” What
kind of hospitality they were given inChandigarhby
the Sathya Sai Organisation is unimaginable! They were very happy.
day we started fromDelhiin
two helicopters, with just five of us in each helicopter. It was
very small, so I was able to see the cockpit, where the pilot and
co-pilot conversed. I was able to see how they were adjusting and
working with the machines--it was scary!
PENANCE OF THE PEOPLE OF SHIMLA
a beautiful place, full of mountains. There are no flat areas; the
roads are laid connecting one mountain to another. There are thick
forests and a small population. You can see the clouds moving over
the mountains, forests, and greenery! Where are you? You are in
heaven, you are in paradise! You are in the company of the Creator
and His beautiful creation: an unpolluted, beautiful reflection of
convoy started going up and down the hills, as inKodaikanal,Tirupati,
All of Shimla was out on the streets! People left their houses,
closed their shops, and lined up on the streets, standing on both
sides greeting Baba, and waving flags with Baba’s pictures. They
hailed Bhagavan with shouts of victory:“Bolo
Sathya Sai BhagavanKi,
Jai, Jai, Jai!”The
shouts mounted in the air as flags were waved welcoming Bhagavan.
From a one-year-old child to a ninety-year-old man, no one stayed at
home, at school, or at the colleges! Everyone was out on the
it was to watch. I saw people hugging each other, jumping in joy. I
saw people shedding tears of joy watching Swami. They had been
waiting for God’s arrival for thirty-five years! It was a penance, a
meditation, and their penance resulted in this visit! Swami was
happy. Shimla being a hill station, I saw close to ninety-nine per
cent of the population in excellent health, with very attractive
complexions. The children were very cute, and all the men and women
were very handsome and beautiful. Perhaps Bhagavan wanted beauty in
Shimla: the people and the place matched each other! You can easily
identify a person from Shimla: you find two apples on their cheeks
THE BEAUTY OFSHIMLATEMPLE–
speeded up the mountain. On the mountain there was a huge
five-storied building, carved in different colours: light blue,
light yellow, and a light brick colour. Oh, what a beautiful
building! Was it like something out of theRoman
Empire, or a replica ofMoghalculture,
or like theTajMahal?
Was it like ourMysoreMaharaja’s
palace? How shall I compare it? People know me as a man of
description, but I fail this time, because my words are not enough
to describe the beauty of the building! Wow! I don’t think I shall
ever see a building that beautiful in the near future. Of all the
buildings and temples built for Swami, Shimla stands first!
of the building there is a space that can accommodate three thousand
people, right up to the edge of the mountain. There are railings on
all sides, so people will not fall off. If you look at the open
space from the building, it looks like the map ofIndia. For
Swami’s arrival, the ground was covered with a thick green carpet
where people were seated; at the centre was a red carpet for Swami’s
chair to move on. In front of the red carpet was a wide space and
steps. You have to climb up the steps to get into the building.
building may not be as big or as spacious as theVidhanSoudhainBangalore, but it is more beautiful! The
building is called "AnandaVilas".
At the centre is thebhajanhall.
The five floors do not have any rooms, only corridors, and all the
corridors are circular. If you stand at the centre you can see
people walking on all the five floors. From the corridors you can
see the hall where the devotees sit on the floor.
inside steps and along the corridors, you can see beautiful
paintings depicting scenes from theRamayanaandBhagavata.On
the temple ceiling in the centre hall you can see theDasavataras,or
ten incarnations, of SriMahaVishnu,
including Sathya Sai Baba asKalkiAvatar,
with Baba’s figure seated on a horse.KalkiAvatar,
the last incarnation, is depicted on a horse.
fifth floor are rooms for Swami. Adjacent to the top of the
five-story building, which is located on the mountain top, is a
replica of a lotus flower. A bridge for Swami connects the fifth
floor to the lotus flower, so that He can go over the bridge to the
lotus flower, and givedarshanto
everyone. In addition, there were two projections, or balconies, on
either side of the second and third floors for Swami to givedarshan.
These balconies were not separate boxes. They fit into the temple
and are light blue in colour, with beautiful flower carvings, just
like the carvings on the walls of thePrasanthiNilayam
see Bhagavan asKailasaPathey,who
is Lord Siva!Wow,how
beautiful it was! Swami gavedarshanin
His chair was kept on the stage, and all the devotees were seated on
ALL OF SHIMLA JUMPS WITH JOY
Shimla was there, jumping in joy! No one stayed at home. I am a
crazy guy, you must know by now. I, too, was jumping around,
touching the railings, and watching the whole panorama! What did I
see? Valleys, mountains, clouds and what a building! Like
a dark cloud, a blue coloured five-storey building,with
alotus flower on top and
a bridge for Swami! I was speechless! Could I ever dream of seeing
such a beautiful building! That was the situation.
15th, the Government of Himachal Pradesh issued a
circular, which stated that: “Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba shall be
treated as a State Guest of Honour. He shall be given all the
treatment that is accorded the head of any nation.” The army, the
police, and the ministers, all were at His Lotus Feet! Bhagavan was
received at the airport by GovernorUrmila.
She touched His Feet and welcomed Bhagavan on April 15that
the helipad. The Chief MinisterDhumalrefused
to sit on a chair in Bhagavan’s presence. He was sitting on the
ground, wearing a beautiful Shimla cap. All the people were at
Baba’s beck and call, because He was the state guest of the
Government of Himachal Pradesh!
hill from themandirbuilding
was a guest house with eight rooms, and all other facilities were
attached to it. We were accommodated there. As I came out of my room
to enjoy a cup of coffee, there was a parapet wall, and what did I
see? Mountains, trees, and a silence, a deep silence. You can hear
the beat of your heart; you can listen to the echoes of the Divine;
you can hear the trees singing in joy, in praise of God. The clouds
move across the sky in silence, majestically expressing Divinity. I
would have my cup of coffee and watch the whole panorama, forgetting
the time, until asevadalwould
come and ask, “Sir, would you like to have another cup?”
Please get it.” I enjoy that!
from Himachal Pradesh are young people who are former students ofSathyaSaiUniversity. Some are professors, some are
engineers, some are doctors, now all serving assevadals!They
were all on the job. The man who took care of us in guest room #3
was the principal of a college! He was sleeping on the veranda in
the corridor. I said, “Sir, please come inside the room, please come
in and rest.”
“No, no! I
am on duty, I will sleep here,” he said.
supplied whatever we wanted. Such excellent service, I told all of
them towards the end of the trip! “My father-in-law did not treat me
like this on the day of my marriage! You are treating me far, far
better, beyond all estimates, beyond all imagination.” It was all
because of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. They were very nice, very
HIMACHAL PRADESH CULTURAL
valley and up another mountain was a school building. I went to the
school building, which had a dome like the PrashanthiNilayamPrimary School. The classrooms were beautiful, with
nice tables and chairs, as in anySainikSchoolor
public school. Baba’s sayings were posted all around. It was a
three-story building with an adjoining hostel. The hostel and the
school were connected by a bridge, so that the students could move
freely without wasting time. Wonderful! So there was the school and
the hostel connected by a bridge down the hill, while up on the
mountain was Swami’s building with a bridge. Down
the slope from the school were the guest rooms, and below that was a
wonderful auditorium, an excellent auditorium! It equals our
university auditorium, as well as theSathyaSaiUniversity,Bangalorecampus
auditorium. It was wonderful. It had galleries on all sides, and had
red curtains, red carpeting, and chairs, as well as room for people
to sit on the floor.
beautiful programme was arranged in the auditorium, which can
accommodate about five thousand people. In the cultural programme,
attended by Swami, were videos and pictures depicting Bhagavan’s
visit 35 years ago! The culture of Himachal Pradesh was shown,
including their music and dances, while the children danced on the
stage. Himachal Pradesh has a number of villages, and some have
their own language, culture, and lifestyle. All these groups danced,
one after another, while in the background they screened various
scenes of Himachal Pradesh.
showed the Sathya Sai Water Project. They also showed Baba giving a
promise to His mother that He would not leave Prashanthi Nilayam at
any cost, and that His message and mission would spread throughout
the world from Prashanthi Nilayam! These scenes were well enacted by
the children on the stage. There was a fusion dance, combining
Western and Eastern styles. It thrilled me very much! Swami enjoyed
the presentation throughout. He was laughing, enjoying the whole
programme. He was literally touched and moved by the presentation.
Shimla on the evening of April 15th, spent a whole day in
Shimla, then the morning of April 17th we
left Shimla to return toDelhi. We went back to
the Sri Sathya Sai International Centre for lunch. We spent the
night inNew Delhi, and then left the next day, on
April 18th, after lunch, around. We reached Prashanthi Nilayam
before, because theRahukalam(inauspicious
time) began at 4:30 p.m. on that day, and Swami was particular about
arriving in Prashanthi Nilayam before. The people inDelhisaid
farewell with a heavy heart.
friends, I must mention this about Shimla Mandir: the building
complex in Shimla was constructed by people of all classes. Everyone
participated. I was in tears when someone said, “Mr. Anil Kumar,
there are some people who donatedRs.
20, for the construction of this building. There are some who
donated part of their pension or part of their provident fund!”
Mandir is the people’s mandir. Shimla Mandir is themandirof
the devotees, by the devotees, and for the devotees! People from the
entire state used to assemble there to doshramdan,
or service, lifting and carrying the building material during
construction. Therefore, themandirrepresents
devotion, sacrifice, and faith. Baba has shown the world that a
common man, an ordinary man, can do extraordinary things out of
devotion! An ordinary man doing extraordinary things--that’s what I
saw in Shimla!
Shimla was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Life is short. To come
to know God is difficult. To be with God is rare. To travel with Him
is the rarest of all, and is a wonderful blessing. The opportunity
to share my experiences, and the joy, thrill and excitement of the
Divine trip, is certainly, beyond doubt, a benediction!