A pleasant bolt from the blue
Sometimes, certain events occur in life that infuse a
whiff of fresh direction and new beginnings; that restore and
invigorate you in ways you would have never imagined possible. They
are like splendid waterfalls in the path of a river as it flows
towards its ultimate source - the ocean. They are encountered rather
unexpectedly, and what unfolds as a result is something most
memorable and spectacular. When the placid stream is suddenly
awakened from its leisurely flow into a grand burst of intense
activity, it realizes it’s potential. The most interesting thing
however is that all this happens so naturally - the bounding brook
puts in no extra effort; it just 'goes with the flow'.
The sudden burst of
grand activity adds excitement and beauty to the leisurely flow
of a river
My trip to Hadshi and Mumbai with Swami in the winter
of 2009 was a similar one; it not only came as the mighty waterfall
in the flow of my life but stood out as a momentous watershed for I
was blessed with the privilege of witnessing, first-hand and for the
first time in my life, Divinity in action from close quarters.
As far as I am concerned, the dream journey began as
a dream! I 'received' this dream in the wee morning hours of October
13, 2009. The dream went thus.
Swami had sent for me and I saw myself seated in the
Sai Kulwant Hall about to go into the Poornachandra Auditorium. But
I was also aware that only singers were supposed to be there. So I
picked up a book on music, largely filled with
(musical notations), and headed for the auditorium. When I entered,
I saw many proficient vocalists (students), all familiar to me,
seated there. I went past Swami's chair and took my seat. When
Bhagavan questioned me about my delay in arriving, I said,
"Swami, I did not expect to be a part of this group!
Hence I am late!"
And then I woke up.
I was happy I had His
first thing in the morning. Beyond this, there was nothing more that
I could decipher from that welcome dream. Two
days later, everything became clear. The entry in my personal diary
reveals the physical manifestation of the dream - another proof for
of Swami are true.
October 15, 2009
What shall I write about today! It was the most
exceptional day when I think about my physical proximity with Swami.
I had taken another lovely step in my journey towards Him. It was in
the evening that the dream I had two days ago seemed to find
fruition and it all happened after Swami completed His darshan
rounds and called Mr. Jadhav and Mr. Ramesh Sawant (State President
of SSSO, Maharashtra & Goa) for an interview. At this point in time,
I was sure that it was going to be a long interview after which
Swami would go into the bhajan hall to receive Aarthi before
retiring. My love for badminton made me think,
"Should I just leave for my evening games? I don't
think anything much will happen today..."
I could not have been more wrong. And it was destiny
that told me through my heart,
"It is better to wait for the Lord over physical
exercise and mental entertainment."
So I sat and waited.
Swami came out after a while and asked for Dr.Naren
Ramji (the Registrar of Swami’s University). He then asked the boys
whom He had earlier selected for the Pune trip to go inside the
interview room. As He sat on the stage, He seemed to be scanning and
searching through the faces in front of Him. In a few minutes, He
looked at Neeraj and indicated to him to join the group in the
What happened next stunned me. His eyes met mine and
He beckoned me to go inside as well! Was this really happening? The
students seated behind me with "birthday trays" got up thinking He
was calling them. I was certain that He had indicated to me and so
wanted to quickly move up the stage. However, the birthday boys
moved faster. I waited for the birthday boys to get their share of
blessings and also for a second confirmatory indication. It came
soon, as Swami signaled again and I rushed towards the interview
room via the dais. Even as I did so, I turned to judge His reaction
as I was still a bit unsure and thought – in case I am not the
chosen one, Swami could still send me back! But the kind Lord just
looked at me lovingly. Now I confidently walked on and took my
position in the portico.
I was excited and thrilled. Indeed, even now, it was
so unbelievable for me. That when Jagadish Kanadia came along. On
many occasions, I had seen Swami send messages to devotees and
students through this lad. I thought he had come to tell me that it
had been my mistake to think that I was part of this 'privileged'
in my heart, I prepared myself for the disappointment. But he simply
said ‘Sairam’ and sat next to me. A great relief swept over me as I
realized that he had come to the portico for the same reason I had
come - because Swami had picked him for the trip. Soon, Swami came
and asked all of us to go to the interview room. I rushed ahead to
take a place near His feet.
Sitting there, I just began to think of how alert and
'pure' I become when I am in Swami's presence. Though it was a
passing thought it stayed with me as I realized that if I lead every
moment of my life conscious of His presence, my thoughts, words and
deeds would be so holy and uplifting - for me as well as for
everyone else! Right, don't you think so?
Memories of Swami's
previous trip to the Marathwada region, to Latur and Chakur,
were present in my mind
since my father had got the privilege of taking photographs
during that visit.
Once inside, Swami told Naren sir to take down the
names. Swami personally asked every one present his name before
telling Naren sir to note down - all except me. Again panic struck
me and I think it was visible to many in the interview room. In
fact, Ashwath prodded me to tell Him my name on my own. I did not
want to! Why remind Him that I was there and assure Him that it was
not too late to take corrective action in case a mistake had been
made by calling me in! Really, I still found it difficult to accept
that something so grand as this was being bestowed upon me. Later,
as He was looking at all of us, He noticed me and asked if my name
had been written. I looked at Naren sir and he nodded.
‘Ah, this was confirmation enough!’ I felt.
After this, Swami told us about the trip.
"Everything has been well arranged,” He said. “There
are rooms for all and the rooms have fans and A/C too; you can use
either of them. We will go directly to Pune in flight. All of you
must be well behaved. Be strict in your discipline." Swami enquired
about the singers, harmonium players and tabla players as well.
“Too many percussionists are not needed,” He said,
adding that three were sufficient. A few musicians however, were
added to the list. I was thinking that I would extensively do
photography during the trip. So, I felt, it would be great to have a
videographer along to ensure complete and comprehensive coverage.
When I was sure that Swami was not looking at me, I whispered to
Naren sir who was next to me,
"Sir, can we have a person to do video coverage."
"Ask Him; not me", he whispered back.
I then ventured courageously,
"Swami, if there is a video cameraman, it would be
Swami asked,"Won't you be doing that?"
"Swami, I will take photos."
"Who is there then?"
"Swami, Sai Prakash."
"Does he do a good job with the camera?"
"Yes Swami, he takes videos very well."
"Does he have a camera?"
"Yes, he has, Swami."
"And what about films (tapes)?"
"He has them in sufficient number too."
Swami smiled and then told Naren sir to add his name.
As the session went on, more names were added
especially of boys skilled in various musical instruments. This made
Bhagavan then enquired about speakers. I quickly
raised my hand. Swami asked, "Will you speak?"
I said yes and He also seemed to agree. Then He asked
Sudhindran as well, to which he replied that he would definitely
speak if Swami so willed.Ah! That was a much better answer than
mine, I felt. How I wished I too could have said the same. Let me
remember always that whatever I do, it is because of Swami's love
All this while, I had the opportunity to press and
massage His feet. During this period He did look deeply into my eyes
a couple of times. For the first time in my life, I understood how
special God can make you feel in just a moment. It was as if Swami
had come to earth only for my sake I was only smiling in bliss. Then
Swami noticed the clock. I too did the same.
“How quickly time flies with Swami!” I thought.
In the meanwhile, Ashwath asked Swami about the songs
to be prepared to which He said that they should be in multiple
languages so that all devotees find something to enjoy. The
interview was now coming to an end. As we filed out of the room, I
took padanamaskar. Taking the chance to go closer to Him, I
said, "Swami ee avakasam ichcharu... Chaala krutagnatalu
(Swami, we are so grateful for this opportunity You have blessed us
with).” He nodded. I was swimming in joy.
The resolve of two brothers
Until that moment, though I knew about Bhagavan’s
impending trip to Pune, I had never really taken the effort to learn
more about the place. But now that I was flying with the Lord to
Hadshi, I began to glean vital information, and in the process,
learnt some amazing stories of grace from the Jadhav brothers –
Shivajirao and Uttamrao.
"It is a must that we know something about the place
before embarking on this historic trip," I thought.
It was in the early nineties that the Jadhav brothers
heard about an
who had made Puttaparthi His birthplace. Hailing from
the faraway Marathwada region in Maharashtra, they could not come
immediately for the Avatar’s
However, in 1993, both the brothers visited Baba’s ashram in
Whitefield, Bangalore. They were at once impressed by the devotion
and discipline that seemed to fill the air of that Holy Site, and
wondered why the shrines at Pandharpur and other pilgrimage places
in Maharashtra too could not be maintained that way! That very
instant, they made a resolve: We will take this Swami with us to our
region in Maharashtra.
This was something bizarre! I had heard of people
responding in different, unique ways, when they saw Swami for the
first time. But in this case, merely being in the
had done wonders; these brothers had instantly decided to take Swami
to their state!
The story of how
Swami's first trip to the Marathawada region materialized and
how He showered
His grace on the people there is a separate story in itself.
The Jadhav brothers were, in a sense, not new to
Swami as they had been devoted to Sai Baba of Shirdi for very long;
so much so that the family felt restless if they did not make an
annual pilgrimage to Shirdi. On innumerable occasions, they
witnessed inexplicable instances of His benediction. For example,
once a family member fell extremely ill when the scheduled time of
departure for the pilgrimage arrived. Nevertheless, they set out on
their holy journey, and by the time they returned, the malady had
Was that not cruel of God to smite them thus, just to
test their faith and secure their pilgrimage? "No!" was the vehement
answer. "He knows that it is good for us and those are just
reminders when we forget Him. Life has been wonderful for us due to
His grace," said the Jadhavs.
Going back to their trip to Whitefield, the Jadhav
brothers had in their party Mr. Naidu, an acquaintance who was a
senior Sai devotee. And from him they learnt that earlier Swami had
indeed made several trips to various shrines and cities of India.
However, the chances of Him coming to a remote village in
Maharashtra (hundreds of miles away from Puttaparthi), were remote!
Notwithstanding this, their resolve to take Swami home was only
further strengthened after they had their first
Pictures which show
the devastation wreaked by the
earthquake at Latur. Those days, digital photography had
not yet made its advent and therefore very few images
exist even on the internet.
Upon their return, news floated of Swami’s impending
arrival to Maharashtra. Swami had expressed His solidarity for the
people of Latur, the home-town of Jadhavs, which had been struck by
an earthquake of magnitude 6.3 on the Richter scale. The catastrophe
at Latur had rendered 7600 people dead and more than 16000 injured!
"The earthquake has brought fear into the people. I
need to come there,” Bhagavan told Mr. Shivraj Patil, who was then a
Member of the Lok Sabha and its Speaker as well.
The Jadhavs’ coming into contact with Mr. Patil was
the mysterious working of Swami’s will. Working hand in hand with
this long-standing and esteemed devotee, the Jadhavs prepared for
Swami's visit. The best part was Bhagavan Himself took an active
interest in the Mandir (temple) that began to blossom at Latur and
even promised to personally inaugurate it.
A couple of years went by. On one occasion when Swami
was at Kodaikanal, the temple drawings were shown to Him, and He
seemed very pleased. All of a sudden, one day, Swami unveiled the
plans of the Mandir to His students and said,
"This Temple is coming up in Latur. I will go for its
inauguration." That was the first time He had openly declared His
promise. Then He asked Mr. Patil who was seated by His side,
"What is the temple's seating capacity?"
Not knowing the exact figure, he hesitatingly said,
“5000 people, Swami”.
That turned out to be an overestimate! The
ever-sincere Jadhavs, however, took this seriously and erected a
multi-storeyed Mandir which would indeed be able to accommodate such
Now, Mr. Uttamrao Jadhav also nursed another secret
desire – he wished to make a replica of Bhagavan in bronze, and also
design and build a chariot for Swami’s use whenever He visited the
state. Privately, he had his apprehensions. Firstly, it is
considered inappropriate to make a bronze statue of a living
personage, and secondly, Swami may not want to move around in a
A few days later, when Mr. Shivraj Patil was with
Swami in the interview room, Bhagavan mentioned to him about
Uttamrao Jadhav's nervous disquiet and said,
"I will give him peace. He is outside. Go and tell
him that he can make my idol, and that I will sit in the vehicle
that he wishes to construct."
stretched for kilometers. The helicopter seen in the frame is
the one used by the Chief Minister. Swami arrived to Latur by
As per the wishes of
the elder Jadhav brother, Swami blessed the chariot in which He
was taken to the temple.
Ah! Is there anything called secret or anxiety where
the Lord is concerned? Then what to say of secret anxieties! Mr.
Patil was totally oblivious of this and he too simply marveled at
the Lord’s omniscience as he conveyed this message to Mr. Uttamrao.