Imagine God passing through the breathtaking engineering marvel, the four lane track Bandra-Worli Sea Link in the financial capital of India, Mumbai…And He receives a “Guard of Honour” from hundreds and thousands of tiny tots holding colourful balloons, arrayed on either side, at a completely ‘sealed for traffic’ 4.7 kilometer long epitome of engineering excellence. This is not an utopian writing, but a seeming reality when God in human, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is embarking on a week-long visit to Pune and Mumbai.
This fortnight’s story dominates the confirmed buzz that had been around for some time. The Big News is all about Bhagawan’s scheduled Divine Visit to Pune and Mumbai. The buzz it was initially slowly turned to a confirmed story though there were no official communiqué or any press release.
Bhagawan with a selected band of twenty four students along with a set of senior devotees would be flying to Pune on the 28th Oct to stay over there for three days, until the 31st October, before travelling further to Mumbai for the second leg of the visit. Bhagawan is expected to bless and inaugurate Sri Sathya Sai Panduranga Kshetra, a triune temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha, Lord Vittala and Bhagawan Shirdi Sai at Hadshi Village near the picturesque hill station, Lonavala, in Pune.
…And for the Mumbaikars, it has been a decade long wait for Bhagawan to yet again set His Holy Feet in the city. The last Divine Visit was in the year 2000, exactly a decade ago, when Bhagawan set out on a trip coupling His twin visits, to the Financial Capital with that of the National Capital, Delhi.
Pune is being decorated like a blushing bride…
To take a peep into the developments in Pune over the high-profile Divine Visit, we have the first input from Ms. Julie Chowdhuri, reporting on the anticipation and exuberance in the Peshwa City, welcoming the big occasion. She writes, “…Pune is being decorated like a blushing bride to receive her Lord.”
Pune, also referred to as Punya Nagari, is suddenly overcome with new splendour! There’s expectation, there’s excitement, there’s merriment, and a flurry of activities. Each and every devotee is fervently awaiting His arrival; even the soil of this Peshwa city is awaiting the touch of His cherished Lotus Feet.
Day and night have merged into one; the hours are filled with planning, re-planning, coordinating, writing, designing, practising bhajans, decorating, deciding, and praying to Bhagawan to make our dreams come true!
Pune is being decorated like a blushing bride to receive her Lord. A drive to Sri Sathya Sai Panduranga Kshetra, Hadshi Village, where Beloved Bhagawan will stay for the three days of His visit in Pune, makes one feel like the flowers of a myriad colours are blooming more, the leaves on the trees are swaying with happiness, the sun is shining more softly, the birds are singing more sweetly, the breeze is sighing with more joy and love, and everywhere there’s a feeling – ‘Is it really going to happen?!’.
The Jadhavs have been blessed with the right location for hosting our Beloved Lord. Nature, in its pristine glory, surrounds the Kshetra, which, once touched by Bhagawan’s tender Lotus Feet, will then be counted as one among all the other sacred spots around the world. Space, air, fire, water and earth have come together here to make this a wondrously sylvan place. The Kshetra is surrounded by hills and valleys, and also a beautiful crystal clear lake. Creator and His creation…
One loves to have Bhagawan’s Darshan, wherever it may be, but more so here, where Mother Nature reigns supreme…
In the city, huge hoardings, welcoming Beloved Bhagawan, are sprouting up in all areas. People are reading them, awestruck. City newspapers have announced His Divine Arrival, and there are sweet whispers all around. Even Pune airport is eagerly awaiting the flying chariot of the Lord of the Universe…
The excitement is palpable, and everyone is willing October 28 to dawn faster…!
Jadhavs, destined, privileged Divine hosts in the city of Pune had been interviewed by a group of men from Mumbai led by Mr. Chandrasekhar of ChemburDust. The man who bought and dedicated acres of land to build this amazing temple with sprawling lawns, looked so simple merging with the labourers around, writes Chandrasekhar at his first meeting with the man behind the mission. Our cunning Metro-mind emitted signals of disbelief. And demanded his visiting card, for a micro-due diligence, adds Chandra at the simple demeanor of this ‘simpleton’ devotee of the Lord.
After acquiring the huge acres of land in Hadshi in 2002, he sought Bhagawan for guidance to build a temple; Bhagawan was gracious enough; He Himself named it as Panduranga Kshetra while approving the plan of the structures.
By July 2003 the temple was completed with huge sprawling lawn overlooking the expanse of water down below, as though in perennial 'house arrest' by Pauna dam. When looked around, it looked like Nature was in her bridal make-up in Hadshi... Sri Sathya Sai Pandurang Kshetra.
In Mar 2004, the Jadhavs invoked Bhagawan to inaugurate the triune temple. But, our Good Lord had one explicit lesson for the onlookers, those who watching over, a lesson of Patience coupled with perseverance…Faith that reciprocates with Divine Grace; Another combo pack that could singularly elevate a human soul to greater heights.
And here is a simpleton who built an amazing temple with crores and waited. Listening to Divine Whispers "Wait, Wait" as Mantra and turning the entire 'waiting' itself as 'Tapasya'. And the Tapasya shall be yielding the fruits, after six long years, precisely in the year 2009…More Precisely on 28th Oct at 11:30 a.m. when Bhagawan will be sanctifying the triune temple installing the deities.
…And how the financial capital of India is warming up to welcome the Lord? While moving on to capture the delightful moments, where hundreds and thousands of sevadals and devotees are working day-in and day-out, Chandrasekhar writes catching the ambience: “It goes to prove that Yugas may change but when Love incarnates the excitement and celebration cannot be different. For, bliss has no variants...No version updates...
And Baba said "Yes"!
"I am coming to Mumbai on 31st Oct”. On hearing this, the blessed city went into raptures. And the Sai centres got super-active.
For some, it is as though God responded to the oft-repeated slogan of our Ganpathi "Pudcha Varsha Lavkar yaa". And here He comes "Lavkar" before next Ganapathi.
For some with high 'Ram memory', it is like Rama coming to Ayodhya…and for the "Krishna Conscious", it is like Krishna coming to Madhura.
Everyone exercises his right to own Him. Poor Lord shows up in every heart by default as Krishna did once with all Gopikas. Each one claims to be 'Sole Proprietor". And He is in perennial dispute with many claimants. Case adjourned in many Yugas... yet not resolved.
So Baba comes to Mumbai. Yes. It is a cosmic event! One darshan is enough to format our heartdisks and reboot our system and transport us to Divine Domains!!
We wanted to describe the event and our poor repertoire went dry. So we went back to Baba's own rich narration in "Ram Katha Rasa Vahini" describing the celebration in Ayodhya on Rama's return, that enables us to visualize our own Mumbai when our good Lord arrives.
"It is as though the City of Mumbai turned Ayodhya preparing for home coming of Lord Rama after long time.Just to see if there are any commonalities between the celebration then and now, we delved deep into Rama Katha Rasa Vahini for some sound bytes on Ayodhya celebrations.
"As the Ocean heaves up in joy at the sight of the autumn moon thevast populace heaved a breath of joy at the sight of Rama "chandra", the moon.Their excitement reached the sky. The Mothers ...in ecstatic delightand forgot themselves, caught in the flood of happiness....
Even the most ascetic among the sages couldn’t restrain his tears at the happy reunion with Rama."
"The vedic scholars showered their blessings in traditional formulae; Live victoriously for hundreds of years”. The citizens were overjoyed at the sight of the entourage of Rama. Rama admired the faith and devotion of the people of the city."
Thanks to Swami's own narration of how Ayodhya was on His return, we are so happy to use the same description fitting so accurately our situation now in the city of Mumbai....
It goes to prove that Yugas may change but when Love incarnates the excitement and celebration cannot be different. For, bliss has no variants...No version updates...”
Dharmakshetra, the Lotus shaped Divine Abode at Andheri East in Mumbai will be again fortunate to house the Divine in physical frame. It has been a long wait for her, decade long precisely. Hectic preparations are underway round the clock and the sanctum sanctorum of Dharmakshetra has been painted and spruced up for the big occasion.
Maharashtra has been having its constant presence in Prasanthi Nilayam, especially during the last one decade with many a programme get organized and staged at the auspices of Sathya Sai Organisations. Back in Maharashtra it has been activities galore. The stupendous village work (Grama Seva) undertaken by the devotees of Maharashtra in the last couple of years, particularly in the field of educare, sociocare and medicare under the Village Integrated programme has been quite impressive touching many lives. Three more ambulances have been added to the already existing eighteen mobile medicare vans that are already pressed into service. The Mobile Medicare project which was launched in June, 2008 with Bhagawan's blessings has provided free medical aid to over four lakh patients, free of cost and is creating a tremendous impact in spreading Swami's message of love, all over the villages in Maharashtra.
Everything Bhagawan does is a treat to watch if one has the inner eyes to observe and the heart to follow; and once one is tuned, there come lessons galore to imbibe and practise. The perfect Master that He is, He never leaves any stone unturned. Every programme during the visit is being planned meticulously and those whom He wishes to confer Grace upon will eventually be drawn by Him, says a commoner commenting on the preparations for the visit.
Two programmes have been chalked out for the public in Mumbai. On 31st October, Bhagawan is expected to grant darshan to the accompaniment of bhajans at NSE Exhibition Grounds in Goregaon (East) around 4 p.m. This ground is situated in North Mumbai and has a capacity of 30000 people with an inbuilt central air-conditioned system. The other programme is scheduled to be held in South Mumbai at Gandhi Maidan, (Jamboree Maidan), B.D.D. Chawls, Worli Naka at 10.00 a.m. on 1st November, 2009.
Bhagawan’s itinerary also includes visits of Indulal Shah’s residence at Khar West, Mumbai and Chief Minister’s Ashok Chavan’s Bungalow at Napean Sea Road, Greater Mumbai. Indulal Shah is the former World Chairman of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations.
Bhagawan's car will also grace the new Bandra-Worli sea link where balloons will be released by the Balvikas children of Mumbai. South Mumbai being the financial hub many of the top businessmen and corporate leaders are expected to capitalize the occasion seeking Divine Blessings at both the venues in Mumbai.
Back in Prasanthi, the fortnight began with end semester exams for the University and School students and as such the beginning days were quiet in the Mandir. The Festival of Lights, Deepavali used to be a regular celebration during earlier days when Bhagawan would invariably deliver His Divine Discourse followed by glittering fire work display in the lawns opposite Poornachandra, the space that later blessed to become the site for His Abode, Yajur Mandiram.
Though not celebrated as a festival anymore clearly dotting the Prasanthi Calendar like many other regular festivals, the Diwali touch was very much in the air as Bhagawan glided through the surge of devotees on the auspicious evening granting His beautiful darshan. Acknowledging the auspicious colourful occasion, Bhagawan blessed thousands of married women with boxfuls of diyas or lamps, a tradition dates back to yore, with much of symbolic significance and auspiciousness. …And back in His Divine Abode, it was festive time, as family members of the physical frame gathered at His residence to celebrate the occasion with the Grandsire who is verily the Grandsire of entire creation…
19th October marked the advent of Gujarathi New Year and celebrating the occasion large number of devotees from the state turned up to Prasanthi. Two interesting programmes were staged by the devotees from the state – Santoor and Jaltarang recitals by Sarvasree Shyamkumar Bhosle and Hemant Bhosle respectively. This was followed by a Dance Drama titled “Sai Bhaja Govindam” on the life of Philosopher Saint, the proponent of Advaita Philosophy, Adi Shankaracharya.
The fortnight had some dignitary visit too with the Union Civil Aviation Minister Sri Praful Patel and legendary Indian Cricketer Sunil Gavaskar leading the pack, followed by two Chief Ministerial visits, led by Sri Ashok Chavan of Maharashtra and the new incumbent in Andhra Pradesh Sri K. Rosaiah. While Maharashtra Chief Minister’s visit was linked to Bhagawan’s visit to Maharashtra, the high-profile visit of Rosaiah evoked greater enthusiasm as the new Chief Minister accompanied by scores of Khadi-clad congressmen including some of his cabinet colleagues made a beeline seeking His Blessings. Bhagawan blessed the Chief Minister with an interview that lasted for fifteen minutes.
The fortnight’s Rose Beneficiaries were Sri M. Ramachandran of Gas Division, Sri M. Mahalingam, Sri Ramesh Chandra Gupta, Sri Butchi Venkaiah, Sri A. Narayanarao Reddy, Sri Butchi Babu, all from South Indian Canteen, Sri Premchand, Sri Sathyanarayana Raju, Sri Gyanchand Luthra, Sri Thambi, Sri Laxmaiah, all from the Shopping Centre, Sri Diwakar Moongi of North Indian Canteen and Ashok Kumar Dixit of Ice Cream Shop.
The fortnight has been experiencing good rush of devotees as shuffling crowds allied with group visits from Mumbai, Pune, Gujarat, Manipur apart from many tiny groups made it giving Prasanthi a thick feeling.
It’s winter vacation time for students of the University and Higher Secondary and Primary Schools. Weather also seemed to be ready for a change over as Prasanthi has been experiencing the touch of wintry chill for the last couple of days. Is it that our Beloved Bhagawan giving a free trial of the anticipated weather at the picturesque hill station in Pune to His chosen entourage numbering over thirty before they embark on a winter trip to Pune and Mumbai?
The week that is coming up evinces greater interest as it turns out to be a privileged one wherein it will be filled with exciting schedules for the Lord in Pune and Mumbai. During Bhagawan’s previous visit to the city of Mumbai, Chindu Sreedharan wrote, reporting for Rediff Special, catching the pulse from the public, reflecting the upbeat mood, quoting one of his friends, commenting on Bhagawan: "He is the vocal edition of all those self-help books you get!"
How best Mumbai would capitalize this rarity of blessing at a time when the frequency of such visits has almost come to a naught? As time rolls along, story will further unravel…Now it is Mumbai Beats all over!!!