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Then & Now
A day in Ashram


Former Vice-Chancellor Sri S.V.Giri chronicled the 11 day long Divine Visit to Chennai in the Divine presence on 2nd Feb 2007. Here is the transcription of the speech…Read on...

An Unforgettable Journey with the Lord…

Shantam Sarvagatam Sukshmam
Parabrahma Sanathanam
Rajeeva lochanam Sainatham
Pranamami Jagatpatim

I offer my most reverential and loving pranams at the divine lotus feet. Revered elders, dear brothers, sisters and my dear students, first of all let me join you in expressing how happy we are to have Swami back with us in Prasanthi Nilayam. It is the feeling of one of the Asramites that the separation was too long of almost twelve days at a stretch. Swami perhaps had never stayed that long in any other place outside except, perhaps, in Brindavan or Kodaikanal. But let me tell you that it was an extremely rewarding stay. It is a journey which marks a watershed in the mist. The immediate justification was that it was for Ati Rudra Maha Yajnam. But what came out and that perhaps was the divine design, was a much more elaborate, much more profound transformation exercise, which was not confined only to Tamilnadu but extended over the entire nation. I am indeed grateful for Bhagawan to have blessed me with the opportunity to be with Him. He has granted that proximity during the course of that memorable visit and also blessed me with the capacity to comprehend and acquire some rare insights and particularly the opportunity given to me today to share those intimate moments with you.

It was indeed a very glorious opportunity. What I will try to do is to recapitulate the events during those twelve days and also some of those very subtle messages which He sent down, for, they are immensely valuable. I must tell you that while the immediate occasion as I was mentioning was the Ati Rudra Maha Yajnam, which was itself a very memorable exercise. The events that took place were very profound in significance.

We went there on the 19th of January. On the 20th, Swami had certain very important engagements and also inaugurated the Ati Rudra Maha Yajnam. On the 21st, there was a public meeting, a reception to express the gratitude of the people of Chennai to Bhagawan for having given the life giving water to them. It was an occasion where, while it was shown as the citizens conclave of Chennai to express their gratitude, the people who participated were from all over the nation. Can you imagine any forum where there were three Chief Ministers, three Union Ministers, Two Governors, Four Ministers, a host of other prominent citizens, judges, lawyers, secretaries, administrators, police officers, important medical and other professional educationists? Right on the podium all these ministers were seated. The Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, Chief Minister of Karnataka, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Union Home Minister – Sri Shivraj Patil, Union Railway Minister – Sri Laloo Prasad Yadav, Union Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister – Sri Dayanidhi Maran, two ministers from Andhra Pradesh – Sri Ponnala Lakshmaiah and Smt Gita Reddy, the ministers from Tamil Nadu – Sri Dorai Murugan, Sri Stalin and a number of them. Swami was seated right in the center. All of them were present to receive Bhagawan as He came to the podium. There was such approbation! It was an extremely disciplined gathering of like minded people. Every one of them came to the mike and paid their gratitude.

Most importantly, I will recall two or three major speeches. The Union Home Minister the Chief Minister of Maharashtra and the Governor of Maharashtra; they said: “It is something very unique. It represents the importance of the States coming together in a rare move of unity forgetting all their differences”. Laloo Prasad Yadav ji said, “We have all been used to speeches. But this is an instance where action has taken place. Swami believes not in speeches but in action and this is the result of His action.” He went on, “I have seen Babas. I am not a firm believer in God even though you may have seen lots of photographs of me doing all sorts of rituals. But after seeing Swami once and twice, I firmly believe that He is God”. It was a very brief, short but very very effective speech.

Then, I must dwell at some length with what the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Sri Karunanidhi was mentioning. Swami had blessed him and his family with a visit to his place the previous day.

That day most of the press carried photographs of the Chief Minister’s family taking Pada Namaskar from Swami and Swami blessing them and Mr. Karunanidhi being in a very joyous mood with Swami. The next day, on the dais there were very interesting announcements. Nobody really knew what happened inside Mr. Karunanidhi’s residence when Swami visited them.

Mr. Maran came and said, that Swami blessed him with a ring. The Minister of PWD-Mr.Durai Murugan who was there asked Swami “Why don’t you give me one ring too. I also want.” Then Swami blessed him with another ring. Then they were wondering what Swami was going to give to the Chief Minister Mr. Karunanidhi and as they were eagerly waiting Swami said, “I have given him a place in my heart”.

As is the convention in Tamilnadu, the Chief Minister honours anyone visiting him or conventionally in all ceremonial occasions with a Ponnadai – something like an Anga Vastram.  So people asked him, “What have you given to Swami?” He said, “I have given my heart to Bhagawan”. And then, on the dais on the 21st, He said, “it is a very rare occasion. Tamilnadu is surrounded by three states, which have lot of water, Andhra Pradesh on one side, Karnataka on the other and Kerala on the third side. In Tamil, “Tanneer” means water. All of them have water. But in Tamilnadu we only have “Kanneer” meanstears, because they don’t give us water. It was Bhagawan who made Andhra Pradesh give water”. He also said, “It is not relevant whether I say there is God or not. What is most important is whether what I do is acceptable to God. That is most important,” saying so He gestured towards Bhagawan. He also addressed Swami as “Arulmigu Puttaparthiyaar”.

Which means….I will tell you the subtlety of that, because it is difficult to comprehend otherwise. In Tamil, the equivalent of Sri is Thiru. The equivalent of honourable is Mainmai Thangiya, Excellency is Maanbumigu, normally for His Holiness, the word used is Thavathiru, and theword “Arulmigu” is used only for Gods and Godesses, and all the time he was referring to Bhagawan as Arulmigu Baba or Arulmigu Puttaparthiyaar. He later said, “I have seen several instances where the work is undertaken, but this is one case where Swami is someone who goes on giving and pouring out His Love and that never diminishes. That is an unceasing flow of love and that is what really distinguishes Him and I pour my heart out to Bhagawan.”

Then Swami, when He responded, so beautifully, stressed on the unity of the country. Here was an instance where leaders from all levels – from Maharashtra, from Andhra, from Karnataka, from Tamilnadu, the southern states and also the leaders from the center have come together for a national cause. He said, “The unity of the country is the most important thing”. He was repeatedly saying that “the richer ones should take care of the poor.” – Share! That is the most important theme. What is the use if you keep it for yourself? It has no significance. You need to share, you need to care. Never use harsh words. Be loving. Love all. Serve All. Love will flow.” That was a very important message and that went home. The Governor of Tamil Nadu was there and he stressed the same message of Love. The next morning – the morning after that, he was there with his family to pay his respects to Bhagawan. That was not the only instance; I will come to that a little later. But what was most striking that day was the discipline of the crowd. There was huge crowd. I wish to tell you what happened the previous day, on that day and the next day. I told you what happened on the previous day, on 20th at Karunanidhi’s residence. Whatever took place in terms of offering reverence to Bhagawan. That day, on 21st, what he said on the dais, the next day, on 22nd, when the commissioner of police had some discussions with the Chief Minister, he is reported to have said, “We have been organizing functions, but have we ever come across such a disciplined crowd? Have we ever been able to organize a function like this? We should learn a lesson or two from Swami.”

Swami’s message that day was Unity, He was shining in His Purity and the Divinity in Him was in full force! We could see that. It was an experience by itself and when we returned, it was already afternoon but still, Bhagawan decided to visit the Yaga Shala.

I would like to say a few words on the way the Yajnam was organized. But before that, one passing thought. In fact, this was the feeling among most of the people. Swami had come for the Ati Rudra Maha Yajnam where you praise Rudra. Kapardine cha, Vyupthakesaya cha…” It reminded us of the way Bhageeratha brought Ganga and there were several obstacles and finally when the water was coming in full force as it is now going in the Sai Ganga, Shiva had to open his locks out to receive the full flow of Ganga. It was very similar to that and the last obstacle also in the case of Sai Ganga had to be removed for the water to flow in full force in a quiet way into the reservoir. Poondi reservoir was complete and it has started overflowing, you know this was something truly remarkable. For several years the lake had not received water. So people ceased to have hopes of receiving water. In the lake bed, pukka constructions had come, houses had been built. When the water was full and the full reservoir level was attained, water started entering houses and they had to vacate. That is the way in which today the reservoirs are full in Tamilnadu. The way Bhagawan has solved Tamilnadu’s water problems is legendary. Simply the subtle message is that this water came out of avoiding wastage of water. There was no additional water. Whatever water was going as waste has been harnessed, the waste has been avoided, canal has been constructed and the water has gone to Chennai. So, “avoid wastage of resources” was the subtle message.

The Ati Rudra Maha Yajnam was very remarkable. The crowds were unprecedented. In the history of Chennai, people say, that they have never seen this kind of crowds. Let me correct myself. Crowd is a rather lose usage of the word. It was a very profound, harmonious gathering. It was a congregation of like minded people, in such large numbers! It was not only the Yajna Shaala, but it was much more. I wish to recount. The Yajna shaala was almost of this size of Kulwant hall and outside place was almost of equal dimensions. Having filled these two, devotees were lined up for almost a kilometer approaching the Yajna shala on either side, ten lines deep. You can imagine the numbers. This is the numbers of people who have gathered to have one glimpse of Swami. That is the attraction which Bhagawan holds. We, perhaps, do not realize it here because of our proximity or since we are seeing Him day after day. But you have one sight of what that devotion was. What that number was, our perception becomes very different. Bhagawan Himself commented one day, “you have been seeing me very often that is perhaps the reason why you do not realize. See this crowd and then you will know what Bhagawan is.” That is the attraction. Both mornings and evenings….anytime, people wait for that long all the time. You see in the Yajna shala or on the road, all the time, people are chanting Sairam, Sairam, Sairam. There was such a constant hum. Moving along in the car, you hear that constant hum – Sairam, Sairam, Sairam. You must see the expressions of the crowd. It is something that should be seen to be believed. There is one stanza which I recall from a Tamil poem. When you see Bhagawan like this, the feeling is –

Vizhineer malgi – The tears coming out
Meyi poolada marumbi – You get goose pimples that is the hair standing on the edge
Tadumbiya Anandamaagi, Arivu Ilandu – overflowing with bliss. You lose even the reasoning power.
Karumbir thalithu – Immersed in sweetness
Mozhi Thadumaari – In stuttering babble of words
Pittaraavar – will act like madman

That is the type of experience you see among the devotees. People run with the car.  So many flowers are getting showered on the car, so many roses, so many flowers coming, a rain of flowers! So many devotees of different origins, oversees devotees coming up to have a glimpse. As if whole of Chennai has turned out to have a glimpse of Swami. Some flowers getting strewn on the roads, people pick up, put it on their hair. That is the type of devotion. Some of them you see, closing their eyes, covering their faces, as if they do not want to lose that sight from their mind’s eye. That is the type of devotion which you see there. That needs to be seen and experienced to believe it. That is the situation where quantity becomes quality. That number, that sheer number – so many of them coming to get one glimpse of Bhagawan. It results in collective transformation, as they say.  One person getting transformed and the whole set of people getting transformed. It was entirely visible. I will come to this again how people from different walks of life, different set of faiths have come to be transformed by one glimpse of Bhagawan.

I can give only one instance. When you have such a huge gathering, something a lakh of people, it is always difficult to maintain discipline. Bhagawan on the 30th  of January, Martyrs Day, at 11 O clock, announced, even as the Purna Ahuthi was to take place, “we will observe the two minutes silence as a mark of respect for the martyrs.”  It was pin drop silence for the entire two minutes. Such discipline in such a large crowd was just unimaginable. After two minutes the Yajnam proceedings commenced again. Such was the command of Bhagawan. People were looking and waiting for one glimpse, one word. That was the extent of devotion.

I was mentioning to you about the different groups of people who had been coming. One point I would like to mention before I go to that. As we go, both the sides of the roads are lined up with people. In the normal course, it is so difficult to control. Police alone cannot do the job. It was the discipline of the people which counted substantially. The Deputy Commissioner of Police who came on to the dais on a particular day, there was almost something like 3000 police men and their families from out of the Madras police force coming up to have a darshan, he said, “Swami, we are indeed grateful that your people maintained discipline. We could have done nothing. It was entirely the Sevadal and the discipline of your devotees which really counted and which made all this possible. We are really grateful”. All along the road, as the convoy of Bhagawan goes, you find police escort in full force, wherever there was some stoppage, they run and take charge, the crowd control was so perfect, the traffic control was so perfect, there was no traffic hold up, no comment anywhere that it was causing any inconvenience, it was a perfect exercise. It was all entirely due to Bhagawan’s grace.

Groups and groups of people – Doctors, lawyers, judges, secretaries, administrators, educationists, police officers – everybody turned up. In fact the Chief Justice of Madras High Court was there for three days saying that all the 47 judges of Madras High Court with their families would like to have an audience with Swami. Because of the time constraint that did not take place but that showed the intensity of the people’s wish and everyday in Sundaram, there were so many judges, so many waiting to have a glimpse of Swami.

The Doctors, Dr. Ranga Bhashyam from Madras announced on behalf of the doctors, that, after Bhagawan’s visit, all the nursing homes in Madras, 63 of them had come forward giving one bed free all through the year. That means 63 beds now, more were to join in the city itself and all the towns in the rest of Tamilnadu will join in that exercise. That would mean something like almost 500 to 600 beds free for treatment to people daily. One hospital came forward and said that they would give free treatment to all the Sevadals. These by themselves may be small but they indicate a transformation mentally.

Among the people who had spoken were, as far as I know, people who were not frequently coming to Parthi, but who were good people, and there were a few others who had a totally different background and they had all come forward. It is a transformation which Bhagawan had effected. I will quote one person. His name is Arulvudai Nambi. He was a very great activist in Tamilnadu politics and he was the Chairman of the Tamilnadu Housing Board under the previous DMK regime. He was an MLC. He has recounted one instance, where he said, “I had no previous acquaintance. But when I had my heart operation I was in the intensive care unit. I was on life support system for first 24 hours. People say, you have to give up after 24 hours. But they supported me for 48 hours and more, but in the meanwhile, someone had come to my house and told my family that I should go to Puttaparthi, I did that and that is how I am surviving today.”  He continued, “Now, I have been impacted. I am now a believer that Bhagawan is God and He helped me out.” Mr. Nambi organizes a sabha. That is called Thirukkural Thiruchchabhai. Thirukkural for all practical purposes is equivalent of Vedas in the reckoning. He said, ultimately what Bhagawan says is fundamental to human existence. He was saying one Kural.

Porivayil Aindavithal – Porivayil is senses. Aindu is five. That senses have been controlled.
Poyithir ozhukka nindral – No untruth – it is Sathya. Ozhukka nindral – That is Adherent to Dharma.
Needu vazhvaar – they are the chiranjeevis.

Those who control their senses, those who adhere to Sathya and Dharma are immortal. They are the persons to be identified and followed. So, I am now entirely with Bhagawan and that I am grateful to Bhagawan for giving this opportunity to me.” That is what he said.

There are others. There is a judge who is familiar with us. He said, In the Court, the judges are addressed as “My Lord”. But here we find the lord of the lords Himself. How do we address Him! How beholding we are to Him.

The entire organization was orchestrated by the Sai Youth. Bhagawan is now very clear in His mission. It is the youth who have to play a lead role. Therefore the entire responsibility of organizing this Ati Rudra Maha Yajnam was given to the youth. 2,500 of them worked in absolute harmony and unison. How to mobilize the youth who normally pull in different directions? How to get all of them together in a magnificent effort like this? Only Bhagawan can do that. During the course of these 11 days, 4000 more youth have enrolled themselves as volunteers for Seva work. They all have all worked a plan together and called it as Sai Harmony and Rural Empowerment (SHARE). Sai Harmony – mind you – it is all coming together – Unity, and in a pure spirit for Rural Empowerment. That is the program they wish to undertake. These are the types of exercises which really point to mobilization of the youth power which Bhagawan is concentrating in His mission and when it takes shape as something incidental to Ati Rudra Maha Yajnam, I suppose that is how the mission evolves.

While the first visit was to the Chief Minister, the last visit was to a very humble devotee of Swami. It is a student who lives in Adayar in a very modest circumstance. He had been praying to Bhagawan that his efforts should be blessed and Bhagawan in His all compassion undertook all the journey, a third in the row that day in the morning to visit them and go up the stairs and bless the endeavor. People around were saying “Look, Bhagawan does not confine Himself only to the higher ups. It is all for us. Look, He has come to our lower middle class type of surroundings”. That is where, there is absolutely no difference.

That was manifest in the Sundaram Darshan as well. Everyday morning as Swami goes, people used to wait. Sometimes it becomes a little late like 10 a.m., or 10:10 and thereabouts. But then Bhagawan insists that the chair should go first to the farthest corner not to the near places where the elite ones are sitting. From there at the farthest corner He keeps on blessing and goes through the entire crowd at different stages. So much of happiness and so much of bliss going all round! This is something what you call Antyodaya. You start with the lowest, the poorest and then come to the richer ones. People who come are those like the chief justice, judges of the Supreme Court or the families of the chief ministers, the top rungs in the profession including Rajnikant, Vijaykant and Tendulkar, those who are in the cine field and the sports fields. It made no difference but they count quite a lot. Incidentally Tendulkar after coming to Bhagawan and taking His blessings hit 60 and 100 runs. All the time earlier, he was making ducks. Such, all-pervasive compassion, kindness and magnanimity was shown. During the course of the Yajnam, I am sure there will be lot more of recounting by different people, the youth quoted two instances. They said it is absolutely formidable exercise. “We did not know what we were getting into at the time when we said we will do the Ati Rudra Maha Yajnam. It becomes so difficult. We decided that we will get the waters from all the major rivers to be kept in the Yajnam. It so happened that wherever we went there were people waiting. They said, this is Bhagawan’s command and we have been directed to keep this thing ready. Please take it.”

About the Yajna Shala itself they cited two instances. One, they were wondering how to accommodate the Rutwiks near by, because it is quite a difficult exercise to transport a 130 people to Yajna Shala everyday morning, evening and take care of them. They were looking for accommodation close by. It so happened that the two buildings got vacated by the medical college there itself that were fully equipped, fully furnished and the Rutwiks could be accommodated right there within 100 yards distance from the Yajna Shala. It just happened at that time.

The stores inventory control was so perfect and computerized. For all the items inventory control was done, provided for, issued, restocked, and at no point of time no hitch no where. I am very happy to say that some of our institute boys took the brunt of the responsibility for the entire exercise. That was the miraculous support which they received from Swami. They said they will be documenting a large number of that miraculous support which they had been blessed by Bhagawan and they will put them all together.

One more important thing I wish to mention as the thought occurs. On the 27th Bhagawan blessed the audience with a Divine Discourse. There was a beautiful message which came out that day. He said, “Help your neighbours, care for your neighbours, never hurt them and speak to them lovingly”. At the end of it by implication what stood out was God helps those who help others. The conventional thing is God helps those who help themselves. But here God helps those who help others. The other message is like the Abu Ben Adam’s story which Swami recounts many times; God loves those who love others. So it is not only those who love themselves but those who love others. That was the entire theme of this exercise – that is Man’s existence in society. Man’s existence has significance only in terms of what he is capable of to render to his fellow men to his society. Care and share, give lovingly, that is most important. This is what we repeat very fondly – Shraddhyaa Dheyam, Ashraddhayaa Dheyam Hriya Deyam, Sriya Deyam, Samvidaa Deyam – That is how you give. Give liberally with your full heart. That is how Bhagawan has been blessing them. The entire team, both on the 21st when the big function took place and throughout – this again is in Tamil –

Ezhain shirippil Iraivanaikkanbhon – that is, when the poorest man smiles, you find God there. That is the theme. That is what Bhagawan has been all the time saying “share your resources with your neighbours, don’t keep them to yourself”. Mobilizing the youth for the unity and welfare of the country and the universe, was the other major theme which got prominently mentioned. As I take permission from Bhagawan for concluding, one thing stands out prominently in my mind. When I look at that congregation in Chennai, I am reminded of Sri Tyagaraja’s song –

Rama Bhakthi Saamraajyam, Ye maanavunaku Abbeno manasa, Aa maanavula Sandarshanam atyanta brahmanandame - when you see that sort of a person who gives you supreme bliss.

That is again a personal experience – Ilaagani vivarimpalenu – I cannot describe how it is Chaala Swaanubhavame – It is your personal experience. That is how when you look at that gathering you feel so rewarded and so enthralled. That is the spirit in which the entire set of people who congregate unite. The fundamental theme which Bhagawan has been stressing as I mentioned is, unity. The country’s unity is of foremost importance. You should not go on vivisecting the country. The more we vivisect, the more problems arise. Your strength lies in unity. Do not divide the country into small pieces. You have to stand unified. That is the patriotism. That gives you strength. That is what we need to ensure that we observe in whatever action is ours that is of paramount consideration.

When we returned to Puttaparthi, as we were flying over Puttaparthi to descend, we were so happy to see the entire landscape dotted with people as if the entire Puttaparthi had come out to receive Swami in full measure. They were there in all the hillocks, all the houses and all the roadsides and that is the warm welcome which this place has extended to Bhagawan.

Our earnest prayer is that we should be able to realize His glory, realize what He stands for, how fundamental the human values are, and the unity of the country is to Him and that we should be blessed with full capacity to be able to discharge our obligations to Him in full measure.