Swami’s Visit to Hadshi-Mumbai – Day One, October 28, 2009
This is the first person account of the trip from one of the students who had the blessed opportunity to be a member of Swami’s party.
And finally the day dawned – a day in anticipation of which I had spent some sleepless nights and allowed the butterflies free airspace in my stomach. By 6:15 a.m. we were all in the hostel and by 7:00 a.m. in the airport completing all the formalities of check in. A Jet Airways Boeing 737 was to ferry us along with our Lord to Pune. Soon, we entered the craft and took our allotted seats. Within ten minutes, news reached that Swami was on His way.
The Lord arrived and through the huge vestibule lift, boarded the craft. As Swami entered the plane and took His seat, all the cabin crew began to take namaskar one by one. Finally when all were done, I requested Swami whether I could take a picture of Him and He did not seem to resist, so I went ahead and took two snaps. Oh! How lovely He looked! Everyone readied for takeoff and I returned to my seat. The safety precautions to be taken on the flight were being explained.
It was an interesting sight to see the usually featureless face of the steward get tensed in awe at The Presence by whose side he was standing and making his demonstrations. As we taxied down the runway, we saw hundreds of people wave to us from the road. Of course, the “us” here means Swami! Then we were airborne! Up in the skies with Swami! The time now was probably a few minutes past 8:40 a.m.
Soon the drinks and eatables arrived but all the while, everyone’s concentration was at the front end of the aircraft where the Lord was seated. The All India President (AIP) of Sai Organisations and Mr. Balaram who were in the front were sharing with Him snippets of news from magazines and newspapers. Blessed was that Jet Airways in-flight magazine. Meanwhile, now breakfast had been served. As I was eating, I saw that the cabin crew was making best possible use of their flight time to get pictures with Swami. I along with another colleague aided them in their efforts as they had only cell phone cameras.
Now, Prof. Venkataraman moved to the front and told the AIP and the people in the seats behind to shut the windows (and probably mentally told himself, “There, I have taken care of the backlight problem”) and took a picture. I too moved forward and took snaps of Swami with the whole cabin. It was another nice picture. By the time this was over, it was announced we should be ready for landing at Pune.
At Pune military airport, there was a plethora of VIPs to welcome Swami. There was Mr. Shivraj Patil and Mr. Uttam, the senior of the two Jadhav brothers. Swami was now moving towards the residence of the Jadhav family, while the boys were being readied for transport to Hadshi.
Swami spent a lovely time in the home of the Jadhav family, giving them joy by graciously accepting their offerings of food. Soon, Swami was out after blessing all the members of the family. Next He accepted aarthi and started moving towards Hadshi.
And so began the drive from Pune to Hadshi. I was in Mr. Uttam Jadhav's car and as I talked to him I found out that they were the ones who had organised the Latur-Chakur trip as well. He said, "This visit to our home was a last minute job. See the arrangements we have made at Hadshi." He also confessed to me, "Swami was so very happy when He saw you boys. You students are loved so dearly by Him!" Soon, we could see the beautiful Mandir atop the hill when we were a few kilometres away itself. All along the way, there were villagers who stood in awe and devotion as Swami's car passed by. Many of them did not seem to know which car to look, thanks to the convoy which had cars similar to Swami's Estima.
Once the climb began, we glimpsed the arrangements. The entire road to the top was lined by children and devotees holding flags, banners, placards and ribbons in welcome. At every hairpin bend on the road were beautiful posters of Swami carrying His message. All along the way were many banners welcoming Bhagavan to Pandurang Kshetra.
A note here about the Jadhav family will be most appropriate. The total number of members ran beyond two hundred and the family tree proved to be one with multiple branches, twigs and leaves! They seemed to be harvesting the fruits of joy and satisfaction which the Gardener had delivered to them. Since this was a huge family only the 'trunk' and 'primary branches' were in the Residence and they numbered almost thirty!
The Residence was large and airy. It had four guest rooms at the four corners of the rectangular hall. Towards the Northern side was Swami's dining table and about half a dozen dining tables for the guests stood on the Southern side.
Swami moved through the entire hall and had a look at the four rooms. He was immensely pleased with the meticulous care and effort of the Jadhavs. The room in the South Eastern corner was the kitchen and it was filled by the youth from Mumbai and Maharashtra who had been chosen to serve Swami and His guests for the trip. Swami blessed them.
. In the meanwhile, the students who had driven by bus straight from Pune airport arrived. Swami seemed very happy seeing them. He had their darshan on the way to the lift. The lift was a small one with a grilled gate inside and a wooden door outside. It was just sufficient for Swami's chair and one other person. Swami went up and retired in His room which was in the Northwest corner.
There was a huge rectangular gap in the floor on the first storey to allow natural light from the sky to fill the home. And there was wood parapet all along this opening. Swami saw all of us gathered below from the parapet as He moved to His room. And then He retired for the afternoon. All of us then sat down and had a hearty meal after a silent Brahmaarpanam.
After lunch, we were all shown our living quarters. They were most comfortable to say the least. We were given a comprehensive toilet kit too. After an hours rest, we were all back in the Mandir (I call the Residence as the Mandir for that is where God resides!).
We waited down in the verandah-like area and soon, Swami came down the lift. He called all the elders to have tiffin with him on the table. And after they had finished, Swami beckoned all of us, the boys, to the dining table and soon a thundering Brahmaarpanam began.
As we were eating, Swami said He would go and come by later. Once this session concluded, we were ready once again to receive Swami.
All the other boys were asked to be seated.
Within a few minutes, Swami came down again. The time was about 5:50 p.m. and there were some guests who had come to meet Swami. Notable among them were Mr. Shivraj Patil, currently member of Rajya Sabha and Mr. Subrata Roy, the Managing "worker" (as he calls himself) and chairman of the Sahara Parivar. The latter invited Swami to his estates. Swami smiled and placed His hand on his head. Blessing all those who had come, Swami moved out of the Mandir.
As Swami moved down, the bands and people dressed in various costumes were there lined all along the way. The temples had been lit and presented a beautiful sight. Bhajans were being sung by Raviraj Nasery, Kunal Ganjawalla and a few others. As Swami approached the huge stage that had been set up, now Marathi songs replaced the bhajans. All the students were presently running behind the car.
As Swami was coming out, the first thing He did was to tell Nishikant, who was at the lead of all boys, to go up the stage. And so it was that the students moved up the stage and took positions behind Swami's chair. Swami took a quick round of the stage so that the gathered thousands could have His darshan. Swami then sat in the centerstage. After a few songs, permission was sought to invite the artists on stage and Swami agreed.
The performers for the day were Mr. Nitin Mukesh, Mrs. Kavita Subramaniam and Ms. Sapna Mukherjee. They bowed to Swami and began their performance. Nitin Mukesh was holding on dearly to the rose that had been blessed by Swami. He started the session with a Ganesh bhajan ‘Jai Ganesh Jai Ganesh Jai Ganesh Deva’. He was followed by Sapna. The crowd was overjoyed for they were having His beautiful darshan.
About 9 songs later, Swami blessed the artists with sarees, shawls and white safari pieces. Aarthi was performed and as Swami moved down the ramp to the car, hundreds dived for an opportunity to touch His lotus feet. Swami sat in the car and drove back all the way to the residence. All the boys got a good chance for close darshan as they lined up from the car till the main door of the Mandir. Swami had dinner with the elders and then He saw that all of us were seated. He called out, "Ay boys! Go and sit at the tables."
As He was going after dinner, the inimitable Prof. Anil Kumar complimented the food saying that the quality of mango pickles and Gongura were unmatched! Swami was so happy and they had a small private conversation. The AIP, V. Srinivasan, asked Swami whether the boys should go for morning walks. Swami said that there was no need to do so. Entering the lift, Swami retired for the day. After this, we had our dinner and moved to retire. Some of us went for a walk.
We saw the temples were being prepared for inauguration the next day and the whole area had been beautifully lit. The night air was cool. One experience that we felt throughout the trip was the "oneness with God"! Let me clarify. All of us received the same love, reverence and devotion from people that Swami receives, and all this because we had on us the badge that proclaimed, "Bhagavan's guest".
People would rejoice when they saw us for that was a sure indication for them that Swami was coming. In fact, even in our nightly walk, we encountered a few people who asked us whether Swami was coming down for darshan in the night! It is Swami and Swami alone who means everything to everyone. Else all of us are nothing!
As we returned to the rooms, another boy came running to me and said that five of us can have the privilege of sleeping just outside Swami's door in the Mandir. And so some of us hurried and picked up our pillows and bedsheets to move towards the Mandir. It was beyond ten p.m. and the Mandir still breathed of The Presence. We lay down reminiscing the wonderful moments the day had awarded us. Thus ended the most memorable day one with Swami in Hadshi.
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