Kodai : The Lord's Mountain Top
often say that Prasanthinilayam is Swami's Office, Brindavan
is His home, and Kodaikanal (Kodai) is His playground. In
a manner of speaking this is so, particularly where Kodaikanal
is concerned, for it is here that one gets a glimpse of the
Sai of the forties, especially where Divine Leelas
are concerned. It all lasts only for a short time but what
extra-ordinary weeks they are for those blessed to enjoy Divine
Kodaikanal is a hill station in South India. Located at an
altitude of about 2500 metres, it is roughly three hundred
and fifty kilometres to the south-west of Madras[Chennai],
and close to the ancient temple cities of Madurai and Palani.
the Kodai trip starts soon after the Institute closes for
the summer. As soon as the party reaches Kodai, everyone is
given a kit with all toilet necessities -paste, brush, shaving
cream, the whole works. Apart from this, a warm sweater. Everything
is taken care of: food and bed. Arrangements are also made
for laundry service. Every other day, there would be a distribution
of gifts - watches, cameras, films, T-shirts, after-shave
lotions, pens, torches, calculators, just about anything one
can imagine! One sunny morning, Swami would suddenly send
all the boys [despite their protests] for a stroll along the
Lake Shore, to enjoy a boat ride, and to do some shopping;
naturally, a generous pocket allowance would also be most
thoughtfully provided! Elders in Swami's party are not exempt.
And so on it goes, day after day, till the dream suddenly
ends! People may think that the Kodai trip is a picnic. But
for God, it is a training session, with every incident packed
with lessons. Here are glimpses of some of those lessons.
Navami is the festival that marks the advent of the Lord as
Rama. Many years, the festival occurs when Swami is in Kodai.
On such occasions, the festival becomes a truly memorable
day for the boys. On one such Rama Navami day, Swami materialised
the pearl necklace that Sita gifted to Hanuman at the time
of Rama's Coronation. Rama was distributing various gifts
to members in the assembly but somehow, He seemed to skip
Hanuman. Sita was troubled by this apparent indifference;
how could such a loyal one like Hanuman be overlooked on an
occasion like this? So, she whispered to Rama that Hanuman
should not be forgotten. Rama whispered back that Hanuman
was way above material gifts. Sita was not quite satisfied
by this reply; so she took out a pearl necklace that she was
wearing and offered it to Hanuman. While receiving the necklace,
Hanuman gave it a suspicious look. He then placed the necklace
near one of his ears as if to check whether the individual
pearls were emitting some sound. He appeared to examine every
pearl in the necklace, and once in a while, he would bite
a pearl. Sita
was shocked by this behaviour. Was Hanuman proving that, after
all, he was a monkey? She demanded an explanation from Hanuman
for what he was doing. With great humility Hanuman replied,
"Mother, for me the Name of Rama is supreme. An object
is worthless if it does not resound with the Name of Rama.
Some of these pearls are not emitting the proper sound and
so I am chewing them up." Sita was neither convinced
nor amused and tersely remarked, "Pearls do not emit
sound." Hanuman replied, "Everything that is saturated
with the Rama Principle will always chant the Name of Rama.
Let me demonstrate." So saying, Hanuman plucked a hair
from his body and offered it to Rama. When Sita took it near
her ear, she could clearly hear the chant of Rama's Name!
This was the way Hanuman proved to the world how intense true
devotion really is.
After narrating the story and materialising the necklace,
Swami passed it around and asked the boys to carefully examine
it. Sure enough many pearls had teeth marks! After everyone
present there had had a look, Swami made the necklace disappear!
does not need security - after all, He is the One who protects
the whole world. Yet, as a matter of courtesy and protocol,
He is provided security by the Government of the State He
is in. So it is in Kodai also. One year, the Police Officers
in charge of Swami's security in Kodai requested Bhagavan
Baba to visit a particular spot as it was very beautiful.
They said that there was a nice lookout there, and Swami and
His boys could have a good picnic. To please the police, Swami
agreed to the outing. A bus was arranged and on a day when
the weather was good, the party headed for the lookout. The
road was bad and the bus not exactly in the best of condition.
So the ride to the picnic spot was quite rough and bumpy.
When after a long and tiring journey the spot was reached,
it was anything but spectacular. The boys were visibly disappointed
but before they could give expression to their feelings, Swami
began lavishly praising the view. He complimented the Police
officers for their idea of this outing, expressed appreciation
about the arrangements made etc. Promptly, the boys got the
cue and they pitched in with their own expression of thanks
and gratitude. On return to the residence, Swami gave the
finishing touch by distributing gifts to the Officers. Later,
He privately told the boys, "These people Love Swami
very much. May be they did not choose the right spot for the
visit but Swami is not concerned with such details. He only
looks at the Love. If you take a worldly view, you will see
mistakes, but if you have a sacred view, then you will see
only the Love part - the rest would get eclipsed." One
Seva is a regular feature of every Sai visit to Kodai. One
such Seva was organised on 6th May, 1999, to coincide with
Easwaramma Day. On that day, hundreds of poor people trekked
to Sai Sruthi to receive the blessings of the Lord in the
shape of His Divine darshan, food, and blankets. At
the end of the service, everyone was very happy but somehow,
Swami alone seemed lost and pensive. Suddenly He called for
His car, softly whispered some instruction to aides, and took
off, no one knew to where. A couple of hours later He returned,
His face now beaming with joy. Students gathered around Swami,
curiosity writ large on their faces. Swami noticed it, smiled,
and said, "You all want to know where Swami suddenly
disappeared? I shall tell you. This morning while people were
receiving food and blankets, My mind was all the time on people
too old and sick to come here. They needed food, clothes,
and blankets, even more than those who came here. So I arranged
for a jeep to be loaded with all these things, and went out
looking for such people. Sure enough they were there in remote
places, sick, shivering, and starving. I located many such
people, and distributed blankets, etc. They were so happy
and seeing them happy, I too am filled with joy". Yes,
the Lord is truly our shepherd; why should we want?
in Kodai, the boys and the guests had sat down for lunch.
There was no dining table, and in true South Indian style,
everyone was seated on the floor. Baba was moving around,
making kind enquiries as usual, and supervising the serving.
Brahmaarpanam had not yet been chanted, and people
had not started eating. As Swami was gliding along, a small
boy leaned across and wiped the ground in front of him with
his hands. Swami came to that boy and asked, "Boy, what
did you do just now?" The boy replied, "Swami, there
was some dust on the floor, and I wiped it with my hands so
that the place would be clean when you walked." Swami
smiled and said, "Good boy! While doing this service
for Swami, your hands have become dirty. Go and wash your
hands before you eat."
Bhagavan did not stop there. Temporarily setting aside His
"luncheon darshan", [if one might call it that!],
He personally took the boy with Him to a spot where there
was a bucket containing water, and assisted the boy in washing
His hands. That is how loving the Lord is!
Swami was returning from Kodaikanal to Bangalore. Up there
in the mountains it is always cool but down in the plains
the heat is scorching at midday, especially in the month of
May, when Swami was returning. In many places along the route,
devotees had gathered in groups to have a glimpse of Swami's
car as it whizzed by. Seeing a particularly large group in
one spot, Swami asked the driver to stop the car, and prepared
to get down to give darshan. It was so hot that the
asphalt on the road was literally bubbling in many spots.
A devotee in Baba's party hurriedly produced a pair of sandals.
Bhagavan waved the slippers aside and said, "If these
people can wait for Me in the hot Sun for hours, can I not
walk for a few minutes without bothering about the heat?"
softly glided to the place where the devotees were gathered,
ignoring also the carpet laid out for Him to walk on. Behind
Him walked a couple of senior devotees, barefoot of course.
They were obviously finding the road unbearably hot, for they
were almost dancing as they went behind Baba. On reaching
the spot where the devotees were gathered, He went through
the full routine - He took letters, talked to a few, materialised
Vibhuti for some, sat on the chair provided for a couple of
minutes, and then received Aarathi. After that, He gently
glided back to His car, with the devotees escorting once more
doing their dance! As Swami was about to board the car, one
of those who walked behind Him said, "Swami, why did
You not walk on the carpet? The road was so hot." Swami
asked, "Was the road very hot?" "Yes Swami,
so hot that we could not walk; in fact I have got blisters
as result." So saying, the devotee showed the blisters.
Swami just smiled and replied, "Poor thing! You found
the road hot because you were immersed in body-consciousness.
I did not feel the heat because I was in Bliss seeing the
devotion of these people. I did not get any blisters. See?"
He raised His foot for the devotee to see, and there were
The stories are endless and so are lessons
taught. All of them are only expressions of His limitless
Love for students in particular and humanity in general. On
the whole, Kodai will always be an 'elevating' experience
for one and all!