|When Heaven came down to
Mumbai - 8th Nov 2009
Posted at 01:55:00 Hrs. IST on 8 Nov 2009 - source:sssbpt.org
What do you do when the most beloved person in your life returns home after a long
wait? Shed tears of joy? Sing and dance in ecstasy? Plead Time to stand still?
The people of Mumbai did it all, and much more, to express some of their
inexpressible joy when their most beloved Bhagawan came visiting them for three days
on October 31 -- after a long wait of nine years.
A city made up of seven islands, Mumbai is located in the west coast of India and is
the second-most populous city in the world -- with about 14 million residents. The
city is the commercial and entertainment capital of India, and contributes to about
70 percent of the capital transactions in the country. However, despite the apparent
accomplishments, it was only the Lord's visit that completed it.
It was an unusual face of Mumbai -- a city generally known for its fast-paced life,
financial hubs, Bollywood, glamour, mechanised lifestyle, and unfortunately, even
terror attacks -- as people shed tears of joy and gratitude, and laid out a carpet
of devotion to welcome the Lord of the Universe.
Bhagawan’s coming became a great leveller, as people across all ages, social classes
and from all corners of the city -- from the posh south Mumbai to the slums of
Dharavi -- gathered under one roof for three days, with the only urge to have a
glimpse of the Almighty.
The Lord arrives...
At around 2 pm, as people at the fully-packed Dharmakshetra, located in the northern
suburb of Mumbai, were craning their necks toward the gates, a booming sound
Over a 100 bike riders wearing Seva Dal scarfs zoomed through the Dharmakshtra
gates, followed by Bhagawan’s car.
Soon, students from the Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Mandir, Dharmakshetra, began chanting
Vedas, a group of traditionally-dressed boys and girls showered flowers on the car,
a brass band of youngsters started with its tunes, while singers rented soulful
The car went onto Bhagawan's residence Sathya Deep, where He retired after a hectic
three-hour long drive.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and his family, and
the wife and son of Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray visited Bhagawan
to welcome Him to the city.
Four hours later, Bhagawan was at the Bombay Exhibition Centre in Goregaon East to
bless a crowd of at least 50,000 people.
Renowned Santoor player Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, playback singers Hariharan and
Kunal Ganjawala, percussionist Shivmani, actor Salman Khan’s sister Alvira Khan
Agnihotri and BJP leader Shaina NC were among others who came to have Bhagawan's
Leading playback singer Sonu Nigam climbed the stage with his family and music
troupe and sought Bhagawan’s blessings, after which the singer presented a music
Beginning with ‘Sai Baba Bolo’, Nigam went on to present a number of soulful songs
into the evening -- not before asking Bhagawan’s permission to continue before every
After the performance, a smiling Bhagawan blessed the singer with a diamond ring.
For a singer, perhaps this was the culmination, as an elated Sonu Nigam later tried
summing up his feelings. "It was a very different feeling... I cannot express it";
but that said it all.
At around 7.30 pm, Bhagawan left for His ardent devotee Indulal Shah's Khar
residence and returned to Dharmakshetra two hours later.
He is everywhere...North Mumbai
Sunday was a packed day for the Lord.
Mumbaiites did not want lose a moment in the precious three days and wanted Him to
visit every corner of the city, and the Compassionate Mother relented.
While in the morning Bhagawan presided over a business convention titled 'Ethics and
the World of Finance', which was attended by many top industrialists and businessmen
in the city.
Former Chairman of ICICI Bank K V Kamath, Chairman and Managing Director of the
Union Bank of India MV Nair, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Kotak Bank Uday
Kotak, Head of Deutsche Bank India PMS Prasad, Lok Sabha candidate and banker Meera
Sanyal, Executive Director of SEBI Usha Narayanan, Executive Director of Reserve
Bank of India VS Das were few of the prominent attendees.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, who was also present, took the opportunity
to seek Bhagawan's blessings for his second term in running the state.
In the presence of the Lord, all differences melt. Chavan and his political rival
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Gopinath Munde shared the same stage, and the same
Following the convention, the spotlight was on Jamboorie Maidan in Worli -- located
in central Mumbai and around 18 km away from Andheri -- where over 15,000 devotees
gathered for public darshan.
As requested by the city administration, Bhagawan's car was driven through the
city's engineering marvel, the Bandra-Worli Sealink built over the Arabian Sea
waters, before it reached the darshan grounds.
Bhagawan reached the Maidan at around 11.10 am and sat enjoying the bhajans sung by
the local singers. After blessing the devotees and receiving Aarti, Bhagawan left
the venue about 30 minutes later.
Next on schedule was the lunch at 'Varsha', the official residence of the chief
minister of Maharashtra in Malabar Hill, south Mumbai.
This was the first time that Bhagawan had visited the official residence of a
serving chief minister, and Ashok Chavan was chosen to be the blessed one.
Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal,
former Union Minister Shivraj Patil, and Mumbai Congress head Kripashankar Singh and
his family, 'well-known ghazal singer Pankaj Udhas were present at the darshan.
Chavan and his family had conducted a puja in the presence of Bhagawan and later
served a lavish spread of Indian lunch.
Eyewitnesses said Chavan had requested Bhagawan to go around every room in the house
so that his official house would be sanctified.
The evening darshan at Brabourne Stadium in Churchgate turned into an ethereal
experience for an estimated 15,000 devotees present.
Under a moonlit open sky, the Lord sat on an exquisitely decorated stage listening
to the divine melodies of students of the Sri Sathya Sai University, Prasanti
Nilayam. The breeze in the stadium too seemed to be intoxicated in the atmosphere,
as it gently swayed the Lord's hair.
The students offered a string of soul-stirring melodies to Bhagawan that left
everyone wishing that the night would never end.
But there was another devotee waiting for Bhagawan's arrival. After about two hours,
Bhagawan asked for Aarti and left the stadium for the Peddar Road residence of
former state home minister Jayant Patil. Cricketing legend Sunil Gavaskar with
family and Bollywood actress Rani Mukherjee were also present alongwith the
minister’s family members seeking Bhagawan’s blessings.
Following dinner at Patil's residence, Swami's motorcade, which had been tagged with
'Z' security, zipped through the traffic-cleared roads back to Dharmakshetra at
about 10 pm.
Ratan Tata, Chairman of the Tata Group, stood waiting at the gates of Anand Kutir to
have Bhagawan's darshan and was blessed with an hour-long interview.
Never a Farewell...
After a whirlwind schedule on the previous two days, Monday had a relatively relaxed
schedule for Bhagawan and his devotees.
After a brief session with old students at Satya Deep, Bhagawan came down to the
bhajan hall Shanti Deep at about 12 noon where He blessed the organisers, teachers
of the Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Mandir, Mumbai, and other volunteers.
He then proceeded to Jalan Mandap, the public darshan hall inside Dharmakshetra for
a 20-minute darshan session. After the Aarti, Bhagawan raised both His hands in
blessing, showering His grace on the waiting devotees.
At about 2.45 pm, Bhagawan left for Puttaparthi with his group of students and
guests, escorted by the state Chief Minister till the Mumbai airport.
Devotees lined along the pathway of Dharmakshetra were blessed to see a smiling
Bhagawan as the car glided out of the premises.
Unlike other farewells, here there was no parting; it was only a reunion at another
He came, He saw, He conquered
Three days flew by, and nobody had realised it. However, as evidence, He had left
His footprints everywhere, in every heart.
There were miracles everywhere, life had changed for everybody -- for those who were
fortunate to speak to Him to those sitting in the last row at darshan grounds; for
those who had been devotees for years and for those who had come to see Him merely
out of curiosity.
Prashant Gore, a musician from Sonu Nigam's troupe, said he had accompanied the
singer to the Goregaon darshan grounds as he did to any other performance. However,
he realised later this one was extraordinary.
"I am very happy I came here. I feel as if I have seen God today. I got to touch His
feet on the stage before the performance, and He even blessed me by touching me on
the head. I am thrilled," said an overwhelmed Gore.
For Sonu Nigam, Bhagawan's arrival itself was a miracle.
"I never got the opportunity to visit Puttaparthi, but I am very fortunate that
Swami Himself came down to our city -- that too in the brief period when I am in
Mumbai between two shows."
"I felt immense tranquility within. I am grateful to Swami for giving the honour to
me, my family, and my musicians and for blessing us physically," he added,
concluding that "Ek hi jeevan mein unhonen yugon ka kaam kiya hai” (He has done the
work of eras in one lifetime).
Thirteen-year-old Gauri Tatkare, a Class VII student of the Sri Sathya Sai Vidya
Mandir, Dharmakshetra, was "very excited" for she had seen Bhagawan for the first
time, while her schoolmate Aarti Maitre, also 13, said she was "very happy" to see
Bhagawan again, and that too on her school premises itself.
Bhagawan's arrival had given a welcome break from hectic life for 60-year-old real
estate agent Jayantilal Solanki. A resident of central Mumbai's Lower Parel, Solanki
said he had come to Dharmakshetra every time Bhagawan had come to the city since the
For Tina Roopani, 22, a US resident who came to Mumbai to have Bhagawan's darshan,
the geographical distance was nothing compared to the "peace and contentment" she
had got after seeing her Lord.
But perhaps the most subtle and evident miracle of Bhagawan reflected in the eyes of
every devotee present -- the eyes reflected peace, they twinkled with bliss and
fulfillment, as if they had reached home.
As 72-year-old Raksha Dalal, a Balvikas guru since 1975, said it best. "He has gone
back, but I know He is always with me."
Yes, He has gone back, but not before leaving "HIMSELF" in every heart that relished
His darshan, enabling reunion at a different level...
(Author is an alumnus of Sri Sathya Sai University, Anantapur Campus, currently
working with Rediff, Mumbai as Asst. Editor)