November 1, 2009 – Swami’s Visit to Mumbai, Day Two
The first day of November was bright and sunny in Mumbai. Most of the boys had been up late in the previous night practicing for the concert that was supposed to be held later in the evening that day. In spite of that, all the boys seemed to have risen quite early and were all geared up to meet the day. By 8:00 a.m. we were all required to be present for breakfast and by 9:00 a.m. we were waiting for Swami's arrival.
In the meanwhile, the hall at Satyadeep was filled by men from the world of Finance - bankers, businessmen, financial heads and the Chief Minister, Mr. Ashok Chavan. Also present was the Leader of Opposition of the state of Maharashtra. They all eagerly awaited His darshan.
Before Swami’s arrival, Dr. Keki Mistry, an orthodontist and a long standing devotee of Bhagavan from Mumbai, shared a few thoughts with the eminent guests, and then began to invite a few of them requesting them to express their own views and feelings on that occasion. First the Chief Minister, Mr. Ashok Chavan spoke.
He was followed by a senior member of the opposition party, Mr. Gopinath Munde who said that even though he disagrees with Mr. Chavan on many issues, he whole heartedly agrees with him when it comes to love and devotion for Swami! After this, other distinguished guests too shared sharing their own experiences and soon the assembly turned into a spiritual study circle. In fact it reminded one of the conference on “Ethics and the World of Finance” which was held in Prasanthi Nilayam in August 2009. After many had shared their thoughts and it was 10 a.m., a group of youth and students started bhajans.
The Lord is Gaanapriya (lover of music) and He has said that wherever His glory is sung, He installs Himself there. No sooner had bhajans begun and all were involved in the singing, news came that Swami was coming! Ah! That was too much to be termed coincidence or as they say, coincidences are miracles where God decides to remain anonymous. By 10:20 a.m., Swami was seated right in front of the small group of students, listening to their singing. Two bhajans later, as they concluded, Swami began to move amidst those who had gathered.
Everyone was hungry for His Love and Blessings and they seemed to submit themselves at His feet whenever the opportunity presented itself. All those who spoke to Him were seeking guidance and blessings from Him about their personal problems. No one truly is an exception where the need for the Divine is concerned and Swami showers His Love on one and all in boundless measure!
The chairs were all discarded and no doubt every high personality in the hall had been "floored"! Swami showered smiles on all and collected letters. In the end, like children, everyone gathered around Swami and posed with Him for a group photo. Swami obliged and everyone was happy. Swami then moved through the circular corridor to arrive out from the other entrance to Satyadeep.
Many distinguished personalities had gathered there on chairs and Swami granted darshan to all of them as He got into the car. Many of them came down from their chairs to touch His feet. Taking a small round there, Swami entered the car and then began the drive to Gandhi Maidan at Worli. It was to be the most pleasant of all the drives in Mumbai and that was largely because we would be using the newly inaugurated Worli-Bandra sealink road which had been named Rajiv Gandhi Sealink.
A lighted board welcomed us onto the road and the drive there was fantastic. Soon we were at the Gandhi Maidan and crowds surged behind the barricades to get a close glimpse of Him. Swami alighted and it was about 11:20 a.m. He slowly moved up the ramp and sat in the centre of the decorated stage. Hundreds of hands rose immediately in salutation to Him. Photographers flashed away and Videocameramen had their films rolling.
The students were told to conduct the bhajans. Everyone drank in every moment of that Divine darshan. People strained to see Him and some even had binoculars. The stage was beautiful and set in pale yellow. The beautiful Sarva Dharma symbol in flowers adorned the centre of the backdrop.
At about 11:40 a.m., some of the local leaders and a few other devotees came up the stage and received blessings from Him. One lady had her baby and Swami blessed the babe by patting it on the head. At 11:45, Swami received aarthi. More people moved up the stage now and sought His blessings. Swami sat for the complete aarthi and knowing that Swami would be leaving soon, people seemed to intensify their gaze on Him. It was as if they wanted to make full use of the limited time that Swami was available to them. By 11:50 a.m., Swami got into the car and left the place.
Swami had agreed to visit the Chief Minister's residence that day and He was to drive there from Worli. To keep us occupied, a "Mumbai darshan" programme had been arranged where according to the time in hand, we would be taken to various places to see sights. Like the Pauna dam, we would be sight seeing in the afternoon! As our bus was headed towards the gateway of India, our bus was halted and we received the message that the CM had extended the invitation to all of us too. And so, we took a diversion and moved to his high security home.
We were led straight to a banquet area where there were plenty of dishes awaiting us. However, the food was not fulfilling as we could not see Swami; He was inside the CM’s residence. After a while, Swami came to the porch of the house and as He sat there, the whole 'assembly' outside was on its feet. Swami blessed them raising both His hands in benediction. Then, one by one, the CM began to introduce various people who were important to him, to Swami. After that, the session seemed to have been thrown open and everyone there tried their best to move near Swami and seek His blessings.
After a short while, Swami said that He would like to go inside. And so, He moved into the pooja room of the CM’s residence. Mr. and Mrs. Chavan then performed aarthi to Bhagavan. A couple of minutes later, Swami took the family for a private interview into a hall. The time now was 1:25 p.m.
Swami emerged at about 1:40 p.m. and He started off to the home of Mr. Gokal Das where He was to rest. Meanwhile, all of us got into our bus and continued towards our Mumbai darshan. By 2:15 p.m., we were at one end of the famed Queen's necklace and we got down to admire the sea. There was so much of reclaimed area and huge concrete tetrahedral blocks had been placed to break the tidal force of the sea and to keep it within its boundaries. A lot of photos were taken.
We saw the area from where the terrorists who had attacked the Taj Hotel recently had entered Mumbai. I realized that Swami was exactly blessing those areas that had been devastated with terror and was spreading peace and Love with His presence. Wonderful and unfathomable indeed are the ways of God!
From there we went to the Gateway of India and saw both the old and new Taj. We were all fatigued by then and wanted to rest. The evening session in the Brabourne stadium would be our concert and we had to have some sleep. We were all checked in to the West End hotel that was nearby and very soon, we were all in dreamland.
By 4:15 p.m., we were up and ready. Soon we got into our bus and were off towards the Brabourne Stadium. The evening at this stadium turned out to be another poignant and unforgettable part of the whole trip. A third of the stadium had been cordoned off and a stage had been set. The stands and the lawns instead of being peopled with teams were teeming with people for a change! We were accorded a red carpet welcome and I saw a glimpse of the hunger devotees had for Swami.
On the stage was Santoor maestro, Rahul Sharma and we came to know that he had spent almost an hour to get the levels of the mikes to perfection. He was scheduled for the performance but he too knew that with Swami nothing is certain. At 5:50 p.m., Swami arrived from the residence of Mr. Gokal Das. As Swami got out of the car and moved up the long ramp, balloons were released and a cheer moved through the audience.
On the stage, there were floral presentations for Swami and He asked for the programme to begin. Mr. Nimish Pandya asked Swami whether they could invite all the students on to the stage. Swami agreed and an announcement was made about the programme. All the boys came one by one to Swami with roses in hand. As Ravi Kumar came, Swami asked him, "Have you placed swaras in the song?" To this, he nodded.
After Aumkaram, the boys began to sing a Ganesha bhajan. This was followed by a Krishna bhajan, and after this started the song programme. Ravi Kumar and Sai Krishna began their song with the aalaap, "Devaaa..." There was a thunderous applause to his opening and the song was lovely to say the least. Then Ashwath Narayan took over for the second song, "Shiva Shankari…." He began with an alaap which in itself won many hearts. Soon, he was exploring the various highs and lows of the raaga and the audience sat spellbound.
When he started to sing swaras, it seemed as if even the Gods stopped whatever they were doing to hear him sing! He churned out the notes in such rapid fire succession, all the while maintaining the mellifluous melody of the raaga. Swami was moved and the audience response was that which is even better than a thunderous applause - a muted silence! After his song, Prabhakar began a lovely aalaap and soon Aravind Sai joined him in the song. The next was Koustubh Pare. Now he did a wonder. He had prepared a song for long and he longed to sing it for Him. But when He had gone to take namaskar, Swami told him to sing a Meera bhajan.
And so, with last minute adjustments, Koustubh sang “Payoji Maine…”! And he managed to incorporate a lot of swaras into the song. He was assisted by Abhinav Sitoke. Thus the music program which began with a flourish grew in grandeur with each song.
As the songs completed, Swami asked for qawwalis to be sung. Once again the mike moved to Ravi Kumar and he did a marvelous job. The whole stadium had been charged with devotion and faith. There was a cheer everywhere and it suddenly came to my mind that this place was just a few kilometres away from all the areas which had witnessed terrorist activities in the past few months. As Swami says, if one wants to clear the foul smell, one should light a fragrant incense stick.
One could feel the powerful positive vibrations wipe out the negatives as the boys sang out with all their throats and hearts. As the programme concluded, Swami seemed to be very happy. He called all the boys and began to gift them safari pieces. Swami had decided to gift away the clothes to even the non-participants of the programme. Actually speaking, there were no "non-participants" as such; everyone in the stadium seemed to have participated in it! After this, Swami granted a group photo and then asked for aarthi.
As this was done, He moved down the stage, blessing many people along the way. The time was 7:30 p.m. and the almost full moon was shining in the sky. Swami moved towards the then Revenue Minister, Mr. Jayant Patil's house for dinner. Bollywood actor, Ms. Rani Mukherjee too was there to seek His blessings.
Meanwhile all of us students returned to Dharmakshetra in the bus. Mr. Ratan Tata had arrived there and was waiting for Swami. Bhagavan arrived by 10:30 p.m. but that did not stop Him from granting an interview to Mr. Tata till 11:05 p.m.! We all hit the sack by 11:30 p.m.! The day had gifted us very beautiful memories which will remain forever with us, filling us with joy.
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