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Posted at 17:42:15 Hrs. IST on 25 Nov 2009

Very recently, a “Group of 120” from the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Whitefield, Bangalore set out on a two day pilgrimage to Prasanthi Nilayam, not on its own, but, at the invitation of Bhagawan Himself!…And they were His guests in Prasanthi Nilayam.  How this pilgrimage turned out to become a Mind and Soul Refresher Course for this group from Whitefield? ...a senior member in the group writes all about the great good fortune and the Unique Graciousness of Beloved Bhagawan...

When you observe a child at close quarters, you are able to see a number of attitudes and qualities that clearly separates him from an adult; his complete sense of trust in those around him, a willingness to take everything as it comes, and implicit faith that he will always be granted his demands. 

Every one of us who has been chosen by our beloved Bhagawan to be a part of His global family starts our journey on the Sai path with attitudes and beliefs similar to that child’s. We trust Bhagawan will always be there for us. We believe that we will always have the strength to take everything in our stride for He is with us. And we know that He will grant us our wishes. This is especially true of those who are handpicked by the Lord to be a direct instrument in His Divine mission. 

With the passage of time, and with many experiences along the way, we mature spiritually. We begin to value Bhagawan and His presence in our lives with increasing intensity. However, as we “grow” and spend more time in His proximity [physical and otherwise], one of few things often happens: we either begin to take the Lord for granted and expect Him to do our bidding with no effort on our part; or, we begin to believe that in order to continue being deserving of His grace and to ensure that we remain “the chosen ones”, we will have to do all the “right things” at the right times, and keep Him happy through our worldly actions – a negotiation of sorts, if you will! Or even better – we begin to feel that we have received all that we possibly could have and we need to train ourselves to expect nothing more from Him. 

As these attitudes and misconceptions grow, Bhagawan one fine day decides, “These precious devotees of mine need a desperate refresher! I must do something that completely bowls them over, frees them of their illogical thoughts, and gives them the opportunity to experience being connected with their Highest Selves!” It is my belief that a similar thought made Him to Will  to invite – that’s right, INVITE – the staff [and their families] working in Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Whitefield, Bangalore to Prasanthi Nilayam, for a 2-day visit on the 14th and 15th of November 2009. I was fortunate to be a part of this Divinely orchestrated visit. 

When God takes the initiative to organize something, one can but watch and marvel. Here’s what Bhagawan did! He organized accommodation free of cost for all invitees inside the Ashram – a feat in itself, since He had to accommodate 120 people during the period leading up to His 84th birthday when the Ashram is normally bursting at the seams with devotees! He also ensured that a feast of gargantuan proportions was organized for all the invitees – 4 times a day! And to add a touch of class, we were smilingly received by sevadals with Welcome placards in their hands and SaiRam on their lips every time we went to the dining hall for a meal. The food was prepared painstakingly – ensuring quality and quantity were equivalent to what one would expect at a palace! The sevadals who served us the food were like Mother Easwaramma and the gopikas combined – heaping our plates with goodies and not permitting us to clean our own plates after we had partaken of the meal!  

All of us were moved by this reception and treatment – without realizing that this was but a drop in the ocean of Grace Bhagawan was planning to drown us in! 

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Puttaparthi has been transformed from a little village in the middle of nowhere to a hub of learning, technological initiatives and a sight-seeing paradise of global proportions in recent years. Bhagawan decided that the pilgrims should experience the varied flavours of Prasanti Nilayam. He got His ex-students of His holy institute – to arrange for the entire group to visit the Planetarium and the Super Specialty Hospital on day 1 and to the Chaitanya Jyothi Museum on day 2. Every visit enriched our minds and gladdened our hearts as we got to witness the seamless weaving of science, art and spirituality at their best. The hand of Bhagawan was evident in every exhibit, every slide show, every interaction and every tour. 

During our visit to the Planetarium, we were blessed to listen to an hour long talk by Sri. B N Narasimha Murthy garu, Warden, Brindavan Campus of the Sri Sathya Sai University. He reiterated that we – the staff and family from Bhagawan’s organization – belong to Bhagawan’s inner circle. It is impossible to capture the essence of what he spoke in writing, but suffice it to say that his talk left every heart in the audience uplifted and craving for more pearls of Bhagawan’s loving teachings. He helped us to understand that the world and this treacherous thing called Maya must not mislead us. Complete surrender at the Lord’s Feet and implicit trust in His words, actions and promises would keep us tuned to our true mission in life – that of union with the Divine. 

Later that evening, we were again fortunate to listen to another speaker – the Pied Piper of Prasanthi Nilayam – Prof. Anil Kumar. In His inimitable style, and words laced with humour, He took us to surreal levels of appreciating the great good fortune bestowed on all of us for being the chosen ones in the Lord’s mission. He helped us appreciate the extent to which Bhagawan is involved in every one of our daily tasks, and how He takes care of our EVERY need. All we need do is remember – that He is with us. 

The highlight of the trip however, occurred on the afternoon of 14th November. We were assembled for the tea and snacks session when we received an urgent message…Bhagawan had sent instructions for all of us to assemble in the Mandir at 3:45 p.m. The joy of expectation, hope and dizzying ecstasy was palpable. HE was going to speak to us! Little did we know what was actually in store. 

We seated ourselves in the Mandir at 3:45 p.m. and waited with bated breath for an hour and 5 minutes. At precisely 4:50 p.m., strains of soulful music announced His arrival. At 5 minutes to 5:00 p.m., the Lord arrived in our midst! 

What followed was an hour of close interactions, paadanamaskaars, miracles and wish-fulfilment. Bhagawan went close to every member seated in the hall, permitted most to take namaskaar, spoke to many individuals, couples and families, named 2 tiny tots, and reveled in embracing all of us in His warmth. The crowning glory was when He materialised a sparkling diamond ring for a member of His dedicated work force. Bhagawan lovingly placed the ring on this person’s ring finger, and then proceeded to admire His own handiwork!  

To say that all of this left us speechless would be an understatement. We were enraptured! We cried, we laughed; we watched, we waited; we expected and were not disappointed; and we didn’t expect, and were blessed with plenty! If ever there was a rollercoaster of feelings underlined by bliss – that experience was IT! 

One often wonders what it would take to remain God’s favourite devotee. This weekend gave me my answer. We needn’t try to be anything. We just need to believe that our every moment is guided and inspired by Him; we only have to stay centred on the faith that HE knows it all; we merely have to do what we must to the best of our God-given talents…and when we least expect it, the Master of our family will invite us – the members of His Inner Circle – to spend a weekend of blissful plenty with Him, at our ancestral Abode!!