“Kodaikanal 2007”  Part - I
By Prof. Anil Kumar

 Part  I  -  Part  IIPart  III

Photo Gallery: Glimpses of Kodaikanal 2007

Photo serial- Kodai Kanal With Sai 2006 :
[Set 01
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[ Set 05 [ Set 06 ] [ Set 07 ] [ Set 08 ] [ Set 09 ] [ Set 10] [ Set 11] [ Set 12] [ Set 13]
Set 14] [ Set 15]

OM… OM… OM… Sai Ram
I thank Swami for bringing us back together safely after a gap of two months. My sincere thanks to Swami for the opportunity He gave me to accompany Him to Kodaikanal and stay there for 23 days. People say that this trip with Bhagavan was very enjoyable, very profitable, meaningful and purposeful. The climate was quite cooperative: it didn’t rain every day as it has in the past.

One general feeling that all devotees experienced was that it was a great chance to see Swami at close quarters. There is no question of car darshan or car tire darshan there! (Laughter) No, no. We could have Swami’s darshan, not car darshan!

Swami went around the darshan lines in the wheelchair twice or thrice, both morning and evening. Everyone felt extremely happy. The situation was so good that all people who could not give letters for months here in Prashanti Nilayam, had the chance to give ten letters each, at least. So old files also seem to have been cleared! (Laughter)

Every alternate day, everyone was getting first row. As the lines were shorter and the area smaller, opportunities were many, there being less people. We also had daily bhajans in the evening with Swami sitting there. There was also the opportunity for two or three students to address the gathering. To put it in a sentence, “It was paradise. It was verily heaven on earth!”

Kodaikanal is still pristine and pure in its beauty. It has not been urbanised; it has not been industrialised. It is not polluted. It is still pure. It is still beautiful and unpolluted, thanks to the people, who have not yet gone there to spoil it! (Laughter)

I followed Swami after a gap of about four years. During those years, I could not follow Swami to Kodaikanal because I had been visiting foreign countries. But this time, I purposefully prayed that I may be taken along with Him, and made myself available. It was so merciful of Him that He asked me to follow.

After not seeing Kodaikanal for such a long time, well, I found so much change there. More sites had been acquired, thus there was more accommodation. And the new construction made the whole place much more beautiful than before.

There is a lake which is six kilometres in diameter. Six kilometres, a big, huge lake! It supplies water to the whole of Kodaikanal -- to the hotels and to the residents there. On one side of the very big lake, there is a thick forest of huge gigantic trees -- not herbs or shrubs. On the other side of the lake, there is a slope. Over the slope is a hilly area where Swami’s residence is located. It is like being on the top of a mountain! That place is called Sai Sruthi. Sruthi means “Veda.” Sai Sruthi means Sai Veda – a beautiful name indeed!

There on the top of this hill is the building Sai Sruthi. On one side, there is a bhajan hall. Quite close to and in front of the bhajan hall, there are about twelve guest rooms. The canteen for the guests is towards the right side, at the centre. To repeat this description once again, there is Swami’s building at the left and the guest rooms and bhajan hall towards the right side. All in front, there are beautiful plants with flowers in full blossom. Oh, what a sight for the gods!

And then, there is a car shed on the other side of Swami’s building; thereafter, about four beautiful cottages, with some spaces in between them. They are not so close together as the guest rooms are. In other words, there is some space between two cottages, in typical western style. They are well-furnished. The cottages are so beautiful that you feel like peeping in, uninvited and unsolicited.

In fact, you feel like staying there. The four cottages are so beautiful, with a garden all around. And then, all the roofs of all the cottages are slanted, like a pyramid. (Anil Kumar is referring to a sloping roof, which is an old British style and not normally seen in Indian constructions where they use flat roofs.) There were four of these type roofs. The rooms were tiled, had glass doors, and were carpeted, with gardens all around. And then there also was a car shed and above that, a doctor’s room. I could say the doctors’ dormitory. It also had a slanting (like in the west) roof. There also was a computer facility. Four doctors stayed there.

So, there is Swami’s building, a guest house, cottages, and further down, a portico where Swami gives darshan. And on either side of the portico, you find a semi-circular pattern. It is in a semi-circular shape. Because this is a hill, the tar road is semi-circular. A tar road has been laid, so that Swami’s vehicle can pass by easily.

Swami gives darshan from the balcony and gets into the chair and passes down the tar road, from His residence to where the devotees are. In the front, there is a huge shed, a big shed. On one side ladies are sitting, and on another side gents are seated. This is the topography. And down below the hill, there is a shed. A kind of footpath is made with steps. All people climb up the steps to reach the shed there. Oh, it is so beautiful! And there again, there is the forest on the other side of the lake.

People start to assemble early in the morning, right from four or five o’clock onwards. Kodaikanal is a very cold place, as you can imagine. There you find shawls of all different colours, worn by people of all age groups. So, they go up the steps and sit there in the shed, left side and right side. On one side, a few chairs are kept, for the VIPs.

Is it believable that there is such a beautiful place? It is so difficult for me to reconcile to the fact that I was there. For any average middle class man, it is just impossible to stay for three days or four days in Kodaikanal. The cheapest price for accommodation is Rps. 1,000 per day, that’s all! And the food stuff, whatever they supply, you have to eat; there’s no choice. So, we can’t stay more than four days, hailing from a middle class family. Even top people also can’t afford to stay there more than a week.

There are costly hotels, offering rooms for Rps. 5,000 or 6,000 per day, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So it is very costly. Yet Swami made me stay with Him for 23 days, so I am almost a billionaire or millionaire! (Laughter) Otherwise, I would never have been able to stay there so long.


The place is so beautiful! Particularly in the mornings around six o’clock, when you just look out the windows or walk down and watch the lake as the mist starts settling on the water. At dawn, there are snowy clouds of mist everywhere, settling over the lake. Wah! What a wonderful thing it is! Had there been some poets like William Wordsworth, Coleridge, Robert Browning or Kalidasa of Sanskrit literature, or sages like Valmiki, they would have composed volumes and volumes. (What can, after all, a biologist like Anil Kumar describe about the whole place? (Laughter) Who is he, after all?) Now, as the sun rises, when the sunlight falls on the water, it looks like a silver carpet! A silver carpet, shining white and bright for six kilometres!

One evening, it happened to be a full moon, a bright moon. Wah! What a bright moon! When we walk around the lake, watching the water, the moon and the trees there, we begin to know what life is. We have been thinking that life is, after all, position, involvements, financial status, dignity, respectability. It’s all nonsense. We have not lived life at all. We have not enjoyed life at all. We have not seen Nature at all! All we are used to is looking at our credit cards, bank passbooks, electricity bill, and so on. That’s all! We have not seen Nature, which is so beautifully decorated. We have not seen Nature, which is so beautifully available to all of us made by God Himself.

Kodaikanal, with its bridal appearance, was like a bride waiting for the bridegroom, Bhagavan Baba. What a beautiful place! What a wonderful union of the Creator and the creation! And Bhagavan, moving there in lines among devotees, seems to be doing something like a cosmic dance or a celestial dance. . . the Shiva Tandava (cosmic dance) itself! I am not exaggerating anything. I am not speaking a word extra, more than necessary. But I fall short of poetic description, being a student of science. All poetic descriptions of mountains, of hill stations, of William Wordsworth, would perfectly match Kodaikanal and its ambience. So beautiful!

Arrangements made by the Tamil Nadu government were matchless. Hats off to the Tamil Nadu Sathya Sai Seva Organisation! Just as in the cricket game there is a Man-of-the-Match, I should say that the Tamil Nadu Seva Organisation is the Organisation-of-the-Year. Recently, they hosted the Ati Rudra Maha Jnana Yajna there at Madras in such a superb, excellent, unparalleled, unbeaten and marvellous style! Then they received all tributes, accolades and praises from Bhagavan and all the devotees there. People began to feel, “Better we don’t have a yajna at another place because we cannot match the Tamil Nadu style!” That was the way it was. They already won an Oscar award from Bhagavan’s hands then.

This Kodaikanal trip made them get the remaining number of Oscar awards, because the arrangements were so fine. The seva dal people are so disciplined, so highly devoted. We think, brothers and sisters, Swami sometimes misses or rather cancels morning darshan, as it happened this morning. Sometimes when we listen to His talks, He is somehow forgetting facts and figures and people, now and then. These are our feelings now and then, to admit frankly, without hiding anything. But slowly, slowly, we realise how ignorant we are, how hopeless we are. It is time to be aware that Baba is Divine; we cannot take anything for granted. I have got statistics with me to prove the facts. To raise your curiosity further, I want to bring to your attention a few instances.

A person, who was in charge of the guest rooms there, hails from Coimbatore. His name is Prabhu. He is a chartered accountant. He cared for all twenty of us in twelve guest rooms, assisted by ten volunteers.

The moment you opened the door, a seva dal man would come asking, “Sir, what do you want? Shall I serve you coffee or what? Would you like to have fruit juice? Would you like to have a snack? Would you like to have toast? What do you want?” If the door opened, that seva dal man attended to you. They were always on their toes.

I don’t think that at any wedding, not even the bridegroom’s party, would there be this standard of hospitality and reception! Not to my knowledge. This is the Divine style. . . Baba’s style of reception. No one can ever equal Him! Baba is the ideal host. We have to learn from Baba how to be a host. Yes! Since all the guests accompanied Him, the team treated them all like royal guests, Divine guests of honour and respectability.

This Prabhu distributed work amongst his volunteers. He used to say hello to me every day. After one week, he said, “Sir, I am leaving.” I asked, “Why?” “Sir, we work in shifts, in batches. Our batch is here for a week and next week some other batch will take over. So I am leaving.”

I said, “Thank you very much for all your services. Particularly, I like your smiling face!” A smiling face is the gift of God. It is not the bank account or the position. A face with a smile is the most valuable and richest gift of God! A face that is serious is a curse, a bane of life. It is due to the accrued sins of several lives! (Laughter)

When Nature dances, when birds fly, when flowers talk to us on either side, if we fellows put on a long, serious face, what a miserable life it is! (Laughter) It is not worth living. A life without a smile is not worth living. It is as much as dead and gone.

Prabhu said, “I am going.” I told him, “Thank you very much! I enjoyed your smiling face. Due to your smile, I drank a few more cups of coffee every day!” (Laughter) I am a coffee addict. In particular, Tamil Nadu is known for a special type of coffee. No one can make it like they do there. So I thanked him. He took leave of me and prepared to leave.

In the afternoon, somehow, I met him at the bus stand. He was going in a car. He stopped the car and said, “Sir, I am going now. It is so nice to see you again. Would you take a look at this paper?” It was a fax message just sent to him. “You are promoted with Rps. 10,000 increase in salary.” A Rps. 10,000/- promotion! I never saw Swami talking to Prabhu. I never saw Prabhu sitting in darshan line, especially not the first line. But nevertheless, Baba’s grace fell on him.

My friends, what I want to tell you is this: Baba is silently doing His work. Silently, though from outside it looks as if He is in a wheelchair, as if in a car, as if in His forgetful nature. But He is doing His work silently! This is the first example I want to bring to your attention.

Then there is a second example that I want to tell you. There in the canteen, seva dal members used to serve us breakfast, lunch and everything. One boy came to me, “Sir, my name is Shyam Sundar.”

“Good! Where do you come from?”

“Sir, I come from Chennai.”

“What do you want to say?”

“Sir, I did my diploma in hotel management and I am serving in a big hotel in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh. The hotel people know that I am a devotee of Baba. They were asking me ever since I joined the hotel, ‘When do you go to Prashanti Nilayam? When do you go to see Baba?’”

And my reply was, “I wait until the call comes; before that I don’t go.” After coming to know that Baba was going to Kodaikanal, I went to meet my managing director in the hotel. I said, “Sir, Swami is going to visit Kodaikanal. I want you to sanction leave and send me.”

The director immediately said, “Take this Rps.10,000 with you for your expenses. Here are the two tickets to fly from Shimla to Kodai. Return by flight.’” This is how Baba works! Sundar was telling me, “Sir, I got some money for my expenditures, and also to and fro flight tickets from my manager!” This doesn’t happen anywhere else!

This is the second instance to let you know how Baba silently, silently works; how He does His own thing in a silent way. He appears to be so innocent like a baby in a swing or a cradle, with His crown of hair blowing on either side. His beautiful, innocent smile depicts Him as a child, Vatapatra Sai, the eternal child; yet He does His own work silently.

I will give another instance of a person who was serving there as a seva dal man. He has got his own story. It seems he went to his director and said, “Sir, I have to go to Kodai. Baba is coming there. I am a seva dal volunteer. Please grant me leave.”

The officer said, “Why grant leave? You go, but don’t return!” (Laughter) It means, “If you go, you are dismissed! You can go. There is no leave problem. But don’t return!”

So he left his job, leaving everything to Swami. He came to Kodaikanal to serve in the canteen. After twenty days, while this boy was still there in Kodaikanal, he received a letter saying that he got a job for which he had applied two years ago! In India, this happens. (Laughter) Our applications from the previous life may also only be considered now! (Laughter) This boy applied two years ago, and just then he got the job.

So He takes care of every one of us. He knows everything. The more experiences we have, the more experiences we listen to, the more devotees we meet, we will learn to survive and become a staunch devotee. If we are caught in the cobweb of delusion, if we are caught in the cobweb of confusion, of job, responsibilities, position, the things of the ego, we will never survive as a devotee.

We may be living, but without Baba, it is not life in reality. I may be alive, but it cannot be called a life! If this life is attached to Swami, if this life is connected to Swami, then only this life is meaningful. Otherwise, it is ‘just living’. That’s all. Like a vegetable or a piece of dead wood.

I‘ll give you another instance. Swami used to insist that the students should go around the lake everyday. In the early morning they should go, maybe do some jogging (so that they can eat more)! (Laughter) He wanted them to go.

One day, Swami asked the warden, “Have you all gone for a morning walk?”

The warden said, “Yes, Swami. We all went.”

“No, no, no. Three boys have not gone. Three boys have not gone!”

This came as a surprise. What do you say now? Does He know or does He not know? Does He remember or does He not remember? It is only we that do not remember that He is God! We do not remember always that He is God; but He remembers everything. He functions always at that level.

The President of the Sathya Sai Organisation in the United States, named Bob Bozzani, came to Kodaikanal. Someone said, “Swami, Bozzani is here.” That organisational man said that so Bozzani and his wife might be called inside for lunch or something like that.

Swami immediately answered, “Bozzani only is here. His wife has not accompanied him.”

Swami had not come out of the building yet. Bozzani was sitting outside. But Swami knew and said, “Bozzani is there…call him. But his wife has not accompanied him.” What shall we say? How do we explain?

Then there was another man who was there in Sai Sruthi, who drives His car from Bangalore to Puttaparthi. Swami looked at him and told him, “Tomorrow by this time, you will be in Bangalore.” He was shocked actually. Later, he came to know that his return flight was confirmed and that he could reach Bangalore at the same time as Swami had already predicted.

So Swami knows the past, present and future of all of us. Swami can tell us all what is going to happen now, in the present moment, or later. These things are a great surprise to some. I share these things to lift you, to lighten any of your burdens, to let you know that Swami knows all.

I can tell you more. Swami was enquiring about the return trip of everybody. He asked one doctor, “What are your plans?”

He said, “Swami, I will come to Puttaparthi, take rest for two days, and then go to London.”


He asked another man, “What are your plans?”

He said, “Swami, I will follow You, take rest for two days, and then fly back to Ottawa, Canada.”

Then He looked at me, “What are your plans?”

I said, “I will follow You. Immediately after, I will go to my native place, Swami.” I hail from a place called Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. It is a real furnace there! You will be more comfortable in fire than in Guntur! (Laughter) Only forty-eight degrees centigrade (118 degrees Fahrenheit), that’s all! (Laughter)

Then Swami said, “You want to go to your place now? From Kodaikanal to Guntur?”

I said, “Swami I was born there. I was brought up there. No problem.”

Then just before starting, He said, “Where do you go?”

“Swami, I am going to my native place, as I said.”

Then He said, “Thirty fellows died there recently because of sunstroke. (Laughter) Do you still want to go?” (Laughter)

Then I told Him, “They don’t belong to my place, Swami. All the thirty fellows who died didn’t belong to my place. They belonged to some other place. They must have come there to see the place and died there. (Laughter) They belonged to some other place and came there as visitors, but dropped their bodies. They are not natives.” Swami kept quiet.

The funny thing is that when I went home, my friend was good enough to bring his car. I visited one or two friends there, and then I could not get up for one and a half days because of sunstroke! That’s all. (Laughter) I was lying down the whole time on the bed. (Laughter) That’s why Swami indirectly indicated, “Don’t go.” But I had decided to go. What happened? I spent the whole time lying down only. In spite of personal experiences, in spite of devotees telling us what has happened to them, we refuse to learn. That is the bane; that is destiny. We refuse to learn the lesson; we refuse to grow. That’s why we remain where we are.

I should also tell you certain other interesting things in this context. Swami used to converse or talk nicely every day. I will share some parts from the conversations.

One day, suddenly He looked at me and said, “Can you tell Me what is happening at your native place? Can you tell Me what is happening there?” I am not Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba to tell you what they are doing there! (Laughter) I am one thousand miles away from that place.

I said, “Swami, this is hot summer and time for pickles. Mango pickle preparation is an industry now. There will be huge jars. Mangoes will be cut with knives into triangular pieces. Half the jar will be filled with pieces of mango. Then they will mix in mustard, oil and all that stuff. The other half of the jar will be filled with oil. It will be a pucca (correct) red colour. You can smell this from one kilometre away!” (Laughter) That’s what I told Him.

He was looking at me as if thinking, ‘This fellow is capable of speaking of eatables only!’ (Laughter) “Hmmm…good. Keep it up.” And He gave me a big smile.

That morning in the canteen, they served pesarattu. Pesarattu is a typical Andhra item, a dosa prepared using rice floor and green gram dhal. They served that in the canteen.

Swami asked me, “How many dosas have you eaten?”

I said, “Swami, not many -- only two.”

“Only two? That’s all?”

He further asked, “Why, why not more?”

I said, “This is not the ideal preparation.” (Laughter)

He said, “Why is it not the ideal preparation?”

I told Him, “Swami, in Andhra Pradesh, from Godavari district onwards, this green gram dosa is special.”

Like an innocent child, He looked at me and said, “What is special about it?”

I said, “It is a big triangular thing, beautifully folded like a silk saree, (Laughter) light green in colour. It is beautifully folded, with onions, chillies and ginger pieces inside, and full of oil. It occupies the whole plate! Bit by bit, you mix with chutney as you eat it, until it all goes into the stomach. You can feel the taste of it! By the time you finish eating, you will be thinking of it for actually another one week! (Laughter) That is the style in which it is made.” He was laughing and enjoying!

“It is a big thing, Swami, triangular and green. It should not be black . . . not too much roasted. Light green, just light green. It should be nicely folded, like a saree. You cannot just throw it on like that. It should be nicely folded.” He was just staring at me.

I didn’t want to miss the chance further. Immediately I said, “Swami, You are thinking that I can only speak about eating and this stuff. No, no, no! I have one thing to say! Uhh..”

“Come on, you are going to tell us anyway. (Laughter) What do you want to say?” He said.

I told Him, “I eat till my belly is full. I see You with my eyes fully opened. I hear You with my ears fully opened. I speak about You tirelessly, for any length of time. I write articles on Your glory, any number of pages, for any length of time, and I sleep perfectly well. I don’t need any tablets to sleep. (Laughter) I don’t need any tablets for appetite. I am fine, by Your grace, Swami. I see You, I write about You, I talk about You. Well, I also eat and sleep well. What more do I want in this life?”

I know there are many people who think they have more than me in respect to bank accounts and all that. But they are having high blood pressure and sugar problems also. Along with earning so much money, the ‘health account’ also starts! (Laughter)

“Swami, I am fine,” I said.

Then Bhagavan said, “Alright, this is how you should live. I bless that you should live long. This is how you should live.” (Laughter)

It was a nice talk. After four years, I had such a kind of intimacy and proximity. After four years, I had that kind of liaison, that kind of intimacy. Really I enjoyed thoroughly every single second!

Coming back to food, the menu there was typical: some gravy soup, some dal, some sambar, something like that . . . typical, like you find everywhere. One day, Swami came in the wheel chair and stopped. “Anil Kumar, how do you like the food?”

“What shall I say? Swami, places are many, but items are same. (Laughter) Jewels are many, but gold is same. (Laughter) Places are many, items are same!”

He laughed and said, “Oh I see… perhaps you may be missing your pickle. Ok, I will get it!” Then He asked that boy, “Hey… get him some pickle so that he will be comfortable!” (Laughter)

Like that, there were very nice moments of Sai humour.

One morning, one boy brought a fan and he was fanning Swami so that He had a breeze. Swami said, “Arey! (Hey!) You are fanning with the left hand. Don’t you know how to do it?”

The boy said “Oh, I am sorry.” Then he started doing it correctly, with his right hand.

Then Swami added, “In Kodaikanal, in cold climate, do you need a fan?” (Laughter) So either way, there was a problem. (Laughter)

On our way to Kodaikanal, we stopped at a place named Gangarapatti. Gangarapatti is an area which is a valley with many, many trees. But there is a hermitage, an ashram of the past. You may ask me “How do you know it is an ashram of the past?” From the books, from the narration, and from the description of an ashram.

That ashram was full of trees and greenery in the valley. There at the centre, a beautiful cottage was built and a pandal for all the guests. They gave us so many items: idlies, dosa, puri, and upma . . . whatever you wanted! Finally, Swami took aarathi and turned towards all of us and said, “Are you comfortable?”

“Swami, we are more than comfortable,” we said. Gangarpatti is a very lovely place. That is the one place Swami visited on our onward journey.

On our return, Swami spent some time in Palani, down the hill. In Palani, a devotee constructed a new house, a beautiful cottage, a palm house. Swami was to inaugurate that, so we went. That palm house was so beautiful, with swimming pool and trees, very comfortable, very nice. There you would be transported to another world! That’s how we enjoyed the experience.

And on our return, Swami stopped in Coimbatore, where He stayed for two hours. All of us received so many wonderful gifts from the hosts, plus a big banquet, a heavy lunch.

Now the important point I want to make is this: On the last day when we were returning, Swami got up at 4:30 in the morning and we returned to Puttaparthi in the evening around 4:30. That’s twelve hours. Please believe me, He didn’t even have one sip of water!

Please believe me: He didn’t even have a spoon of water, and He didn’t take even a morsel of food! He looked fresh, though it was 4:30 AM, the early hours of the morning. From 4:30 AM to 4:30 PM He was travelling -- for twelve hours; yet He was still looking very fresh!

Can we look so fresh? I don’t think so. If we could look so fresh, cosmetics like face powder and creams would never be in such a demand! (Laughter) Those we have to apply periodically, every half an hour, to look fresh. But Swami was always fresh. From 4:30 AM to evening 4:30 PM He was like that.

Another point I want to share with you is the celebration of Eswaramma Day there. On May 6th, we celebrated Eswaramma Day in Kodaikanal. About ten thousand people were fed. Ten thousand people! Where they all came from, I do not know. Swami’s building is six miles away from the town. So, people had to walk fifteen miles or twenty miles to reach and return from the place. All the villagers came -- ten thousand people!

Swami distributed clothes to them. Sarees, dhotis, shirts, knickers, shorts for children, slates, pencils, erasers, rugs, woollen rugs, blankets. Every person received four or five items from the Divine hand! Plus there was prasadam, served in a sumptuous way. Pulihora and chakkara pongal were served. These are the two usual items served on every important occasion.

On the previous day, Swami had called the organisers and said, “Tomorrow you make these preparations for distribution as prasadam. Remember, when this pulihora is prepared, take every care to see that it will maintain its flavour and fragrance. It should have its wonderful smell. It should be smelt from a distance, so be careful to do correctly.”

“Also, when you prepare that chakkara (sweet) pongal, be sure to mix in enough jaggery. Don’t be a miser. When I am spending, why are you miserly like that? Do it well and serve them fully. Yes, each two big spoons of sweet. I want you to see that all the items are distributed.”

Also, about two thousand children received at least two articles from Swami, including wrist watches. It was a grand gala celebration that day and all enjoyed. This I wanted to share with my friends, particularly this morning, as we are fresh from the Kodai trip.

After the return from Kodai, as I informed you earlier, I visited my native place and had a brief sunstroke holiday at my residence! Then I went to Bombay to visit Dharmakshetra. For your information, Dharmakshetra is the name of the place where they have daily bhajans, weekly bhajans and all Sathya Sai service activities in Mumbai.

I want to share with you a few points about Dharmakshetra, which I heard, saw and experienced for the first time (though I have been in the Organisation for more than 35 years). I have been hearing about Dharmakshetra quite a lot, but I never knew this much detail as I learned during this visit.

Dharmakshetra is a beautiful building. It almost looks like “Thrayee Brindavan” of Bangalore, though on a hilltop. At a further distance, there is another building, “Shantideep” where Swami stays. Swami’s living space is upstairs. There are a few guest rooms downstairs.

Now Dharmakshetra has been renovated. They are expecting Swami any day. I pray that Swami should go there so I can also accompany Him. (Laughter) So, let them pray seriously and I will also join their sincere prayers. There are some guest rooms and a few dormitories to house about thirty students, if they follow Swami.

Here is a description of Shantideep: There is a beautiful living room for Swami where He can entertain guests. It is very beautiful, in matching colours and with lots of grandeur. Plus there is a lift. They also have nicely cleaned mirrors everywhere (so that you can adjust your hair wherever you stop!). It was very typical of the cosmopolitan city, Bombay. Around Shantideep, you have got a platform, where cultural programs can be performed. It is set up in such a way that Swami can see everything from His residence. He doesn’t even have to go down there physically.

In front of the platform, there is a wild green lawn. On either side of the hilltop, there are beautiful idols on all sides -- statues of Adi Shankara, Guru Nanak, and Jesus Christ. It has a beautiful stage in the front from which Swami can watch the cultural programs. How did they conceive of that whole plan?! It is great, really great! People don’t create such great things on their own. Unless they have some talent, plus some grace from God, no one can create something like that! It looks so beautiful.

Then the next morning, they wanted me to inaugurate the seventh batch of teacher trainees who attended the course on Sathya Sai Education. They were awarded the Diploma in Sathya Sai Education. To the best of my knowledge, there are only three places in the world today where this Diploma in Sai Education is offered.

One place is Zambia, where Victor Kanu has been working hard. The second place is Bangkok, Thailand, where Jumsai is working for its progress and advancement. These are the only two places where the Diploma in Sai Education is offered outside of India - Zambia and Bangkok.

In India, there is only one place: Dharmakshetra in Bombay offers the Diploma in Sathya Sai Education. The program is attended by senior teachers and anybody interested in Sai Education. So it is not necessarily for teachers only; anybody who is interested can attend the program.

It is a forty-five day course. I saw all the material . . . so much material they give! Reading material, CDs, charts -- they give you so much. You have talks in the morning and discussions in the evening. Plus, they take you around the city. They also take you to certain schools where you are supposed to give demonstration lessons. Then there are seminars, discussions, and group presentations for all. From 5 o’clock this program starts, after meditation, till 9 o’clock in the night.

They also do group meditation at Dharmakshetra. It is a spiritual atmosphere, completely cut off from the city, on a large hilltop overlooking a wide area. Imagine how beautiful it is! In Bombay, to get an inch of land costs a big fortune. But Dharmakshetra is on a large hill from which you can see the whole of the city, with gardens all around it. One is fortunate to have been born in such a place. One is lucky to have spent time in such a place.

There at the Sai Education School, I met all the trainees (thirty of them) and I also attended one or two of the lectures held there. I went through their syllabus as well. It is a forty-five day program for the Diploma in Sai Education. There was so much of information on human values and the Educare program. I was just thrilled!

I told them, “Why don’t you pray to Swami and see that I am posted here to teach alongside you. Yes, I can teach. Teaching is my breath. The moment I cannot teach, my life is useless. I lose interest in life.” Teaching has been my entertainment, my enlightenment, my hobby. So I told them to please request Swami to transfer me, so I’ll be there and can teach these people.

Then, in Dharmakshetra, there is another huge building. It is a three-story building where they have a hospital with fifteen specialists working around the clock. Some surgeries are also conducted there, totally free of charge. In addition to the fifteen doctors, there are twenty-five super speciality doctors -- specialists available in the city who will come to Dharmakshetra on demand, whenever their services are needed.

The Dharmakshetra Hospital is one of five big super speciality hospitals in the city, like Breech, Candy, and Apollo. There are such big hospitals in that city. The doctors from those hospitals will come and treat at Dharmakshetra also. As I already mentioned, all patients are treated free of cost. So, there is lots of activity there. It is full of life, with people working around the clock!

Furthermore, Dharmakshetra maintains about twenty-seven mobile medical vans to visit the villages and serve the village people. Twenty-seven are there! They have all medicines, experts, paramedical staff and even operating theatres, so that they can go all over the State of Maharashtra and serve the poor. As this is for the poor people, all the medical services are totally free. Much of this I never knew; so I thought some of you might not know either.

One day, the organisers said, “If you have time, we will take you to a place called ‘Aksha’. I said, “Why not?” So, they took me there. Aksha is a place about twenty kilometres from Dharmakshetra, where there are some twenty acres of land.

There is a beautiful building built there at the centre with a name board in front. What does it say? ‘Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Agriculture and Biotechnology’: There they train batches of students. Each batch has thirty to fifty in number. These students are villagers only. They need not be graduates. They may be tenth class or eighth class, or have never even attended school. They admit villagers and train them. This, too, is a forty-five day program.

What do they teach? Soil testing, tissue culture, horticulture, water purification methods, sanitation, health and hygiene, plus a few lessons on Educare, and also how to conduct medical camps. These things are all taught to the villagers, thirty to fifty in number (per batch) for a period over forty-five days.

They learn all these things: how to grow more; how to grow fruits of gigantic sizes; how to grow different types, like seedless fruits, banana; and also, how to do tissue culture. They have shown me jack fruits, bananas and the medicinal plants they are growing. It is an excellent program.

They are all pucca (genuine) villagers. Some of them have never even seen a train to this day. Some villages have no approach roads. Some villages have no electricity supply. Those people who come to this place learn horticulture, tissue culture, and water protection. Then they go back and serve their villages. Already twenty-five such batches have been trained there in that Sathya Sai Institute of Agriculture and Biotechnology attached to Dharmakshetra, Bombay. Twenty-five batches! Imagine that!

My friends, reading the books, worshipping with flowers, and eating prasadam, any fellow can do. (Laughter) That is not spiritual; that is not what is required. My visit to Dharmakshetra is an eye-opener. It is a blessing to me. It is the greatest fortune conferred. It is a matter of my education. I am enlightened by this trip there. I am proud of Dharmakshetra and the Bombay people today.

Having gone around the whole state of Andhra Pradesh, being familiar with many Indian states and having visited many foreign countries, I am yet to come across such ideal activities. Dharmakshetra, Bombay is full of dynamism, full of public services available around the clock throughout the year. Those organisers who wish to grow, those Sai workers who wish to learn, if there is any place worth visiting, it is Dharmakshetra, Bombay!

I have no relative there. I have no business relationship with them. This is an unbiased, unprejudiced, correct assessment that I am placing in front of you. Here in the audience, we have a gentleman, who is from the Sathya Sai Institute of Agriculture and Biotechnology. You can talk to him and verify what I say.

Thereafter, by Baba’s Grace, I could go to Shirdi. I went to Shirdi, which is about four and a half hours’ drive from Bombay. I previously visited Shirdi in the year 1975. That was the last time I had been there . . . 32 years ago! Arey! What a difference between then and now! There must be an equal difference in my personality as well! (Laughter) But this is on the negative side, whereas that is on the positive side! (Laughter)

On the way, there is one place by the name of “Igath”, they told me. I know jagath, but this is Igath. I was wondering what is this place, Igath?

On the road side, there was a beautiful western type hotel. It is a restaurant type of hotel, like any other Holiday Inn. Yes, why not? It is a beautiful western type of hotel on the road side, like what we find all over the west. There in the west, people drive for hours and hours. They can get down anywhere and have some snacks and then go. It was like that, in the western style, pucca, beautiful, with some cottages for guests to stay in. We saw children playing on the lawn, and there was also a swimming pool. It was so beautiful. But one should be able to afford it! (Laughter)

They also serve a grand breakfast, 30 items in the buffet style; fellows can collect as many items as they can eat! There were so many items, right from ice cream to hot coffee, all kinds of cakes, etc. I am not a salesman. I am not a member of that hotel management. I am not advocating. I am only telling you what I saw on the way which was not there before.

From Igath, as you go further towards Shirdi, a few miles away from Shirdi, you find boards, many sign boards. Huh? Hotel Meet Me! Hotel Dwarakamayi, Hotel Shirdi, Park Inn, Shirdi Welcomes You, etc. so many hotels on the way, which were not there thirty-two years ago.

Then we stayed in the Park Inn Hotel, a five-start hotel. The moment you go in, you never feel it is Shirdi. Is it New York, Washington, L.A. or London? Where are we? (Laughter) Hundred percent western, that’s all.

By the time we reached, it was about eight o’clock or so. We got the message that the temple would be closed by ten o’clock. (Every night, they close by ten.) So immediately, we hurried there.

There, there is this three-storey building, made in a circular manner. All the three storeys are full of devotees, in lines or queues. They were passing one after another. It is another Tirupati! That pushing is also there; also that shouting (which you find in Tirupati) you don’t miss! So there is a three-storey circular building, where they have to wait in long, long lines or queues.

Somehow, the Executive Officer of Shirdi Samsthan, sometime during recent years, has developed a desire to come to Puttaparthi. So he was telling everybody, “I want to come to Puttaparthi.” Recently he told some of our members of Dharmakshetra, “I want to come to Parthi.”

Our members said, “Mr. Anil Kumar is here from Puttaparthi. Can you do anything for him? Arrange special darshan?” (Laughter)

My friends, those who have gone through Sai Satcharitha (the story of Shirdi Sai), which is Parayana Grantha, a book that is read everyday there, know that Shirdi Baba clearly said: “My devotee, wherever he goes, will be given VIP treatment. (Laughter) People will receive him as they would receive me.” That’s what He said in Satcharitha. I stand here as living proof in front of you! At Shirdi, in Maharasthra, where I visited thirty-two years ago, I am received today by an executive officer, when there are three stories of building queues!

Then he took me to his office, garlanded me, presented me with some cloth that had been spread on the Samadhi of Shirdi Baba, and said, “You go straight!” I went.

Baba’s statue, I tell you, is in a sitting posture, cross-legged. I felt as if the Grandfather is waiting for the return of His grandson! “Swami, I am seeing you after thirty-two years,” I said to myself.

I thought, “Is this the return of the prodigal son? Is this the return of an ungrateful wretch? Is this the return of a professor who had forgotten You long back, Bhagavan?” Tears started rolling from my eyes, unnoticed. It is such a beautiful statue. Such a beautiful statue!

Shirdi looks deep into your eyes with so much compassion…oceanic, Himalayan compassion! I saw His profile on one side and somehow, I wanted to see other side also. I could not leave the place! And then the priest shouted, “Come on, go!” Then I could feel the touch of our local seva dal. (Laughter)

I thought, “Oh Bhagavan, You are sitting cross-legged, I know, so that you can jump up immediately to the rescue of your devotees!”

It was Shirdi Bhagavan who said, “I am equal to the dust under the feet of my devotee. What a Himalayan humility it is!” It is Shirdi Bhagavan who said, “Here is a fellow who said ‘Sai Ram’ to me. I am waiting for an opportunity to repay My debt of gratitude.” I don’t know what I did in the past so that I could see You today. Somehow, I had darshan and returned.

There on the wide premises, there is a neem tree under which Baba sat, in those days. It is very well-protected. One side, they have Dwarakamayi, where there is a huge stone on which Baba sits. It is still preserved. And also there is a mortar which He used everyday. It too is preserved carefully.

TV sets are kept all around the three-storey building and in Dwarakamayi, so you can see all that is happening there. In Samsthan, the aarathi, the puja and all that! You will see while watching the TV the stone on which Baba sits and the plate that He used and the big pot in which He cooked.

How did Baba cook, do you know? You must have read about it. He didn’t need any spoon. He just put His hand in and mixed like that! Not when it was cold, like in a refrigerator. (Laughter) When it was on the fire, at boiling temperatures!

Shirdi Bhagavan would drink something and bring out all His intestines. Everything outside, wash nicely and put it back, something like washing the clothes. (Laughter) That’s what He was and did!

So I saw that neem tree, the mortar, and Dwarakamayi, all those important places. And there is a wide place where you have so many shops. Garlands, puja materials and prasadam are sold there. I visited those places also. It is so wonderful!

There at the Shirdi temple, there is also a roof. Below that roof, there is chandni. It’s not a shamiana. Chandni means something like huge tents, with multi-folded borders of frilled cloth at the front, all of floral design, made of different colours like a rainbow. So, huge tents are raised under the chandni there. It is permanently fixed. On one side, there is a stage or platform, where cultural programs take place every evening. The devotees can go and spend some time there. I was happy to see that also.

Then they said, “Would you like to attend morning aarathi?” Early morning aarathi is called Kakad aarathi.

People said, “This is very famous.”

Then I said, “Sir, what time should I be here?”

They said, “You should be ready by four.”

“OK, why not?”

Believe me, I could not sleep that night! One-thirty I got up , , , two o’clock I got up . . . two-thirty I got up . . . three o’clock I got up . . . four-thirty I got up for good. Ohhh! (Laughter) The next morning we went to the Kakad aarathi. People were standing in darshan line right from two-thirty onwards. Because I am a VIP, I got this advantage! (Laughter)

Somehow, I could go there. But even as a VIP, I had to be the sixth man or so. So, there may be multiple VIPs there! (Laughter) “What am I to do, Swami?” I was feeling like that because I wanted to see Him, as it was thirty-two years ago when I last saw Swami! I was feeling very sad.

Suddenly, somehow one man came and said, “No, come and stand in front!” So I stood just in front of Baba’s statue. It was a wonderful surprise!

What they do is this: At ten o’ clock the previous night, they put a mosquito curtain over Baba, as Baba takes rest. He goes to sleep, after evening aarathi at ten o’clock. At five o’clock in the morning, He is woken up. The mosquito curtain is lifted. Then they prepare the Baba statue for Abhishekam. They remove all the decorations and dresses and then start giving Him a bath with rose water.

All the devotees were seated so they could have darshan. While the sacred bath was being given, Suprabhatam was sung in the Marathi language. All people were dressed in pucca traditional style. The whole program was live over mike and public address system.

After the sacred bath, they took a Turkish towel and wiped off all the water . . . something like a mother would do to her son or child. They just wiped off the water, even in the ears! They fully passed the cloth into the ear and (Laughter) cleaned it up like that. Arey! That’s what Sagunopathra is -- seeing life in the statue!

They just wiped off the water like that with the towel. As they do it, some are cleaning over at the Samadhi well. And then Kakad aarathi begins. They started decorating Him, with a crown above and all other decorations. Then the darshan starts. Tak, tak, tak . . . the lines begin to come. It is really an exciting experience!

Some people said, “Anil Kumar, you have come to Shirdi. Why?”

I said, “Sathya Sai Baba is a state bank, while Shirdi Baba is a reserve bank.”(Laughter)

Sathya Sai Baba Himself said, “While I was in Shirdi…” Sathya Sai Baba Himself said, “I and He are One.” There are many instances where He referred to Shirdi experiences. There are many chapters and many books written on that. So I wanted to go to the reserve bank and visit Him there. (Laughter)

The Shirdi Bhagavan statue is still very fresh in my eyes and in my heart. I pray to Bhagavan that I may see that darshan and may that form to be imprinted in my heart!

With these few words, I take leave of you. Sai Ram!


Asato Maa Sad Gamaya

Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya

Mrtyormaa Amrtam Gamaya

Om Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu

Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu

Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

Part  I  -  Part  IIPart  III