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Sacred Past 6: Swami's Journey 2nd August, 1957 : Kashmir Valley, in pictures and words.     |latest Photo collage Yagna 2005 |

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"On the second day of August, 1957, Baba left for Srinagar by plane and reached the Kashmir Valley at noon.
From the air one could see the complicated network of canals that feed the Punjab plains, the Golden Temple of Amritsar, and the rugged approaches to the Banihal Pass and the Kashmir Valley. Once the pass is crossed, the enchanting loveliness of the valley that has aroused the covetousness of monarchs from as far as Macedonia and Mongolia spreads itself before the eye. The gurgling waters, the long rows of pine trees, the luscious greenness of the grass, the signs of quiet toil, fill the mind with joy. Though the Head of the Shankaracharya Monastery of Srinagar pressed Baba to accept his hospitality and take up residence there, Baba preferred to stay in a houseboat named Alexandra Palace. His party occupied two neighbouring boats known as the Prince of Kashmir and the King's Roses.

Baba encourages everyone to appreciate the beauties of nature. He directs attention to the charm of a flower, the colourful magnificence of a sunrise or sunset, the grim grandeur of an overcast sky, the timorous twinkling of the stars in the midnight sky or the quick-moving jasmine-garland of cranes in flight. He took the party to the Shalimar and Nishat Bagh Gardens in the evening, but as He remarked while returning to the houseboat, the snow-covered Himalayas in the far distance were a far lovelier garden designed by the Lord to draw men's eyes away from the valleys in which they wallowed.

On the third of August Baba departed for Gulmarg and Kilanmarg to show His party, which consisted of merchants and businessmen, lawyers and professors, writers, poets and musicians, administrators and agriculturists, the snows of the Himalayan Ranges. Horses were engaged at Tanmarg, and during the long and arduous climb of over twelve miles to approximately 14.000 feet above sea level, Baba kept the party lively by His quips, jokes, occasional gifts, or Ash. He rode His horse, Raja, the tallest and most impressive of all, with ease and dexterity. Never once did He get down to rest. The winding road over the hills was full of pebbles, broken cobblestones and the tangle of pine tree roots, but the horses cleverly picked their way along until the snow line was reached.

Baba, barefoot, played in the snow, rolling snow balls and throwing them at the party, laughing at the frightened faces of those who slid down the snow banks in makeshift toboggans and chiding those who complained of the chilling wind. Everyone was tired and complained of aches and blisters, but Baba was fresh as a rose when they returned to the houseboats about 10:30 that night.

The Alexandra Palace became very soon a replica of Prasanthi Nilayam; many from Srinagar came to pay homage to Baba and receive His blessings. There was an old lady who said she had been directed to go to that very boat by some messenger in a dream she had the previous night. Baba accepted the invitation of a few families in Srinagar to visit them in their homes. At one such home He placed a garland around the neck of a baby, saying, "He will become a great Yogi!" Strange to say, the grandfather of the child declared, "That was exactly what the astrologer who prepared the horoscope of this child predicted when he was born!" He said so only after Baba asked him, "You have already been told so, isn't it?" That was the house of the secretary of the travel agency which had made arrangements for Baba's tour of Kashmir. Baba gave him a ring, set with gemstones, which He materialized on the spot. During the conversation, when someone asked Him at what age He had "given up hearth and home," He said, "How can I, whose home is the world, give up hearth and home ?"

The stream of questioning pilgrims to Alexandra Palace continued unabated for two full days. Baba's answers illumined the Divinity of His Being. Leavetaking was naturally a prolonged and painful affair for the large throng of devotees who had come to the airport on the sixth of August. The plane finally departed for Delhi. Next Baba flew to Madras for a short stay and reached Puttaparthi on the fourteenth of August."
Source: Sathya Sivam Sundram

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