Brindavan Blossoms

Brindavan Blossoms 8th February 2006, Wednesday – Sri Sri Ravishankar visits Brindavan

In the morning, Swami came out at around 9:45 AM. He walked up to the front of the stage, where he stood holding the railings for support enjoying the bhajans for a few minutes. He continually indicated that the naal wasn't being played all that loud. He also asked by gesturing whether the boys didn't have breakfast or not. At this slightest cue, the whole hall resounded with rejuvenated clapping and loud singing. At 10:30 AM, He got up for aarathi.

It was an interesting sight to see the boy who climbed up to offer a rose to Swami, at first very happy that he could be so close to Swami, gazing at Him for a long time, because Swami looked everywhere except at him and the rose which he was holding in front of Him, and then later, rapidly getting anxious as it dawned on him that Swami may not take the rose after all! After the aarathi, Swami turned the other way to go back; the poor boy had to run over to the other side and offer the rose to Swami, which of course, He took with a mingled expression of surprise and mischief.

In the evening as we assembled in the Sai Ramesh Hall, we noticed that a nice chair was placed behind where the aarathi boys sit. This place is used to seat VIPs only on function days generally when Bhagawan gives a discourse. Enquiries revealed that it was meant for His holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who was coming for Swami's darshan.

The bhajans started at 5:00 PM. At around 5:15 PM, the founder of the Art of Living Foundation arrived along with five to six disciples. They carried a huge basket of fruits and had in their hand invitations to the Art of living Silver Jubilee celebrations. All of them were clad in white. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had his head covered and was wearing a simple white dhoti and a long white cloth with red jarri border wrapped around his body.

As they came to the place where the chair was kept, one of the disciples took out a long cloth like a bed spread and covered the chair. Sri Sri Ravishankar then sat on the chair.

After a few minutes, Swami arrived, on the stage, walking. He stood near the front railing and smiled at the boys and indicating the throat and signaled 'is nice'. In the morning Swami had indicated that the bhajans following was anemic. So boys were singing with greater fervor and this was recognition of the effort!

Swami stood for a couple of bhajans and then sat down on Porte chair.

As the bhajans continued Swami indicated a couple of times that the tabla shruthi was not okay. On being changed He signaled that it was alright. Then He indicated that the naal was not being heard…. At 5:45 PM, Swami got up. Aarathi was offered and Swami went in walking.

All this while, Swami had not even glanced towards the place where the aarathi boys sat. After aarathi was over, Seva Dal elder Sri Venkatraman and others led Sri Sri Ravi Shankar inside through the main gate.

As Swami walked towards the door inside, one of the AVC brothers prayed to Swami to sit down. "Where?", "Swami the chair is behind you please sit down". Swami lovingly told him "No, that is not my place. My place is in your heart!"

Meanwhile Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was approaching Swami with his head covered and hands folded. Swami held his hand and spoke a couple of words. Swami then walked all the way to the interview room flanked by Sri Sri Ravishankar and the brahmacharis accompanying him on one side and our brothers and elders on the other side.

As Swami went inside the interview room He called two Italian devotees for interview. Swami took them inside the personal interview room and spoke to them for one hour as Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji and his followers waited, patiently. Bhagawan then called the Swamiji and his group into the drawing room. He also called Mr.Parida (and his family), Chairman AP Electricity Power Transmission Corporation and Mr. Kandaswamy and his family. Swami gave all of them a long group interview.

When finally the Swamiji and his group came out at 7.45 PM, there were visibly happy. The Swamiji had come to personally invite Swami for the silver jubilee celebration of the Art of living foundation which is being celebrated on a very grand scale in Jakkur air field from the 17-19 of February. Newspaper reports also say that the 50th birthday of the holiness is being celebrated concurrently. After giving interviews to all those called, Swami went upstairs only at 7:55 PM!

6th February 2006, Monday – Chinese New Year is celebrated

It was only late yesterday evening that Swami permitted the Chinese devotees to celebrate their new year in His presence.

Overnight the stage has been tastefully decorated with Chinese lanterns and other things distinct to their culture. Hanging from the front of the stage were red pineapples which signify prosperity. In front of Lord Ganesha were placed a basket of mandarin oranges. There was a table in front of the gents block with eatables and other items like tea cups elegantly arranged. There were red packets with some gold embossed figures which signify good luck. There were fire crackers tied like poppins which were placed to remind one of the evil qualities which need to be destroyed completely.

The idol of Lord Krishna is today draped in a green saree! On the wooden panel next to the Lord are two hangings with Chinese characters which when translated read 'In four seasons all dreams are fulfilled' on one side and 'Throughout the hundred years luck and prosperity are with us' on the other. A bunch of mei Hua flowers are found in a vase. These flowers blossom even when the landscape is snow covered and hence these are to remind one that however bleak the prospects, in God's creation, there is always room for hope and joy.

The Chinese devotees are in the first block as it is their day. All the men sport a rose pink, red or yellow on their shirts…

At 9.30 AM bhajan starts with Vignavinashaka Gananatha…probably the only place where Chinese new year starts thus! At 9.35 AM the sound of drums is heard and the chandelier on the stage comes on indicating that Bhagawan has come out. A procession consisting of two lions and two men dressed in Mongolian masks with their characteristic fans lead the way and Bhagawan follows on the wheel chair.

After coming into the hall Swami turns north and goes along the central aisle till the very end. He then comes to the front, turns along the first ladies block where all the devotees are sitting, going round the entire block Swami comes to the front where a row of lady devotees are sitting with various items in their trays. Swami goes to them takes the red rose offered and keenly looks at all the items on the tray. Then coming over to the gent's side Swami goes round the entire block blessing all devotees with close darshan, takes letters and even pats a small child on its cheek.

After a full round He comes to the gents side lift and goes up.

When Swami comes to the middle of the stage, the lions dance perform their final steps.. these lions look like poor cousins of the well fed ones we encounter during our sports meet at Parthi!

The devotees performing remove the mask and offer their pranams. Next all the assembled Chinese devotees chant some short slokam repeatedly for a few times. Now it is the turn of the devotees to sing Chinese bhajans in tunes familiar to us like Sai Jagannatha and Jai hari bol jai.. After this, the devotees go up in pairs – a lady and a gent and offer Swami tea, candies, mandarin oranges.. Swami picks up one item from each person. There is a person explaining the significance. Now one lady and gentleman go up and open two scrolls for Swami to read. Swami blesses the scroll by caressing it. They then show some photo album. Swami looks at all the photos leisurely asking questions and in short getting fully involved. Swami even releases two books and goes through them. A huge photo is opened and He sees it. Even as He is asking questions, one can see that Swami casually passes a remark making them smile at His Omniscience. Swami has spent more than ten minutes with this pair! Others follow and Swami takes the items from them also. This is followed by a skit in which the customs and traditions observed in Chinese on the lunar New Year day are highlighted. These are also aptly punctuated with Swami's quotations.

The spoken English diction by the Chinese devotees who compeered is very good and clear. Bhajans continue and it is 11:30 AM when the aarathi is waved to the lord and the Lord retires.

In the evening Swami comes out at 5:30 PM.

Swami comes walking and stands in the front keeping time. He even leaves both His hands on occasions. Swami sits down and listens to almost fifteen bhajans. It is 6:15 PM. Swami gets up. The boy offering rose does not miss the opportunity. He kisses Swami's hand. Swami sits down on the wheel chair and retires to Trayee.

5th February 2006, Sunday – Deve Gowda and Vice President of India visit Brindavan

Today being Sunday, the Seva Dal were in the first block, ready for the day-long Bhajan session. The Bhajans started at 9:30 AM. At 10:15 AM, the usual hustle started on-stage, heralding Swami's arrival. In a few minutes the screen next to the Krishna statue parted and there Swami was, giving the most benign of His smiles. He came walking to the railing near the end of the stage and stood for a while. The Porte's sofa chair was trailing him. Swami sat down on the chair for a few Bhajans.

After a little while, Swami got up from the chair and indicated that he wanted to go down amongst the devotees. Swami made His way towards the lift, came down, walked a few steps to where Sri H.D. Deve Gowda was standing, blessed him, and started walking amidst His students. Watching Swami Walk was thrilling, as this was the first session when Swami actually walked amidst the devotees during this visit.

Swami crossed the first block, then turned left and crossed over on to the ladies' side, all the while accepting letters from the devotees. Two brothers had the blessed opportunity to support Swami throughout. Once He reached the end of the first block on the ladies' side He turned to the left and made His way back onto the stage. Only when He reached on-stage did He sit down on the chair. There were few more Bhajans after which Swami asked for the aarathi to be performed and then retired to Trayee Brindavan.

The whole session lasted almost an hour and there was so much of Love radiating from Him and the whole audience was reverberating with joy.

In the evening, the Seva Dal Bhajans were going on and Swami arrived at 5:30 PM. He came walking onto the stage and sat down on the chair. The Brindavan Hostel boys had prepared a cultural programme. As soon as He sat down, He indicated to the students assembled in the front that they could begin. As soon as Swami gave them the permission, two boys ran up the stage with a huge card, seeking His blessings.

The programme titled "Ocean of Devotion" was based on the nine types of devotion: Shravanam, Keertanam, Vishnusmaranam, Padasevanam, Vandanam, Archanam, Dasyam, Sneham, Atmanivedanam; and how the great devotees of all times had used these different types of devotion to merge with the Lord. Parikshit had used Shravanam to reach the Lord, whereas Meera Bai and Thyagaraja had used Kirtanam and so on.

There were anchors for each form of devotion and they explained the significance of each type of devotion, and gave examples of the devotees of the Lord who followed that form of Bhakthi. The presentation was interspersed with beautiful songs, all chosen appropriately to that form of devotion.

During the programme, the Hon'ble Vice-President Sri Bhairon Singh Shekawat and the Hon'ble Governor of Karnataka Sri T.N. Chaturvedi arrived. They were seated near the stage and sat through the remainder of the programme.

There was so much feeling in the songs being sung that Swami appeared moved by the programme. After the programme Swami took Arati, got up, walked behind the stage and retired to Trayee Brindavan.

4th February 2006, Saturday – Swami visits Sri Adikesavulu's home

In the morning, Swami came at 10:25 AM. Even as He came in, sitting on the Porte's sofa chair, Swami was reading some letter given by some one back stage. Today, Swami was in a contemplative mood. He kept his eyes closed even as His fingers kept time.

At 11:10 AM. Swami leaned forward to get up and the student offering rose and aarathi went up. Swami blessed them and stood up. He then walked inside…

Inside the youth from U.K were called for an interview. Around 12:20 PM the group came out and Swami went out for a drive – to Mr. Adikesavalu's home. So, when Swami returned around 2:20 PM the students had a nice darshan.

In the evening more than 1200 children had come from the city from a school (class I –VII) in Bangalore. Bhagawan came out for darshan at 5:25 PM. Bhajans continued till 6:00 PM. Aarathi was offered and Swami went walking behind the curtain.

3rd February 2006, Friday – UK Youth are blessed in Brindavan

Morning bhajans started at 9:30AM. At 9:50 AM Swami sent word asking us to give aarathi. There was thus no morning darshan today.

In the evening, Swami had blessed the youth who had come from U.K to sing bhajans. After they had finished all the bhajans they had prepared, our students continued the bhajans. They were even ready to chant Vedas and a couple of them were ready to speak. One of them was a Ph.D. from Oxford University, but their chance did not come today. Around 5:35 PM Swami walked into the stage gracefully, stood near the railing for some tune and then sat down. The bhajans went on till 6:15 PM. After accepting the rose, Swami stood full the end of aarathi and blessed all the devotees, gents and ladies separately with His abhayahasta. He then blessed prasadam, which was distributed to all those assembled.

2nd February 2006, Thursday – Future leaders Kumaraswamy and Yediurrappa visit

This morning it was the turn of the Sevadal brothers and sisters to sing bhajans. At 9:35 AM Swami came to the stage walking. Even as the bhajans were going on, there was a slight stir and guess who came visiting?!

In walked the Chief Minister designate Mr. H.D. Kumaraswamy along with the deputy CM Mr. Yediyurappa in a white safari, lots of security men and other members.

The bhajans continued for another half an hour. Swami then stood up, blessed the student who; offered the rose (pushed the rose gently into his shirt pocket) and the one who took aarathi.

Swami walked to the back curtain. Within a couple of minutes the CM (to be) and deputy CM (to be) asking the rest of their retinue to stay behind, slowly tip toed up the stage and went behind. Swami held onto the CM's hand and talking to Sri Yediyurappa went walking till the drawing room in Trayee! Swami spoke to both of them and blessed them. This photo of their sitting at Swami' feet in the Trayee was splashed in newspapers the next day.

It is exam time. So students had just finished lunch and were opening their books around 2:15 PM when there was a rumbling noise and sound of running feet. Swami was going out for a drive. After about 15 minutes swami returned and all of us stood in front of the hostel. Swami looked at each of us. All the students went back delighted at this 'bonus' darshan.

In the afternoon Swami came out at 4:15 PM. We had bhajans as usual. As bhajans were going on, the Governor of Karnataka H.E. Chaturvedi came for darshan. This is his third visit within a week! By 5:00 PM Swami accepted aarathi and went in. The Governor went near the gate and Swami blessed him there itself before retiring into Trayee.

1st February 2006, Wednesday – An unabridged encore of The Puppet show

There was no morning darshan today. Bhajans were sung by students from 9:30 AM and aarathi at 10 AM. In the evening Bhagawan arrived at 5:20 PM. He walked briskly and covered the distance from the curtain to the railing in one go. After standing for sometime looking at all the devotees, Swami sat down. After a few bhajans Swami asked Mr. Poppat to speak. As he got up to speak instead of the customary rose, he offered Swami some cloves. Swami took one and as he was speaking put it into his mouth.

Today Mr. Poppat spoke for around twenty five minutes. Mr. Poppat reminded us that the buddhi is closest to the Atma and reflects its light, so too all of us near Sai – the paramatma, should develop sukshma buddhi, sthira buddhi, paripakkura buddhi, viveka buddhi and vishala buddhi.

We then had three bhajans and Swami looked towards the aarathi boy. Swami accepted aarathi and went inside.

31st January 2006, Tuesday – A mini Puppet Show

In the morning Swami came out at 10 AM. Bhajans had started at 9:30 AM (as per instructions). Swami walked to the front railing with the minimum of support and then sat down. At 10:20 AM aarathi was offered and Swami returned to Trayee.

The first lady of Kazhakstan has come to Brindavan for two days stay and a group of 15 youth have come from England with Mr. Ajit Poppat. These young men have been blessed by Swami to join the Institute students during the Gramaseva last Dussera and their enthusiasm was infectious.

In the evening bhajans started at 5 PM. At 6 PM the chandeliers came on and one could sense (hear!) the excitement of the assembled devotees and students as the bhajans picked up tempo.

Swami came walking briskly and stood holding the railing. After sitting down and listening to a couple of bhajans, Swami asked Mr. Poppat to speak. In his inimitable style Mr.Poppat spoke reminding all of us of how much Swami has done for all of us and what the responsibility on a Sai devotee's shoulder is. This speech was quite brief and when he sat down, Swami remarked that he had not spoken long enough. 'You can do so tomorrow '. Swami then asked students to continue bhajans. After bhajans Aarathi – Swami stood up. Aarathi and Swami went in walking.

30th January 2006, Monday – Swami visit's Brother C Srinivas' home

In the morning, bhajans started at 9:30 AM. At 9:55 AM, the chandeliers on the stage came on indicating that Swami was coming out to bless us all with His darshan. Swami entered the Shanthi Vedika at Sai Ramesh Hall waking from the screen at the back of the stage to the railing in front with the help of one of the student aides. Swami then walked towards the gents and ladies sides - a few steps, holding the railing. Swami stood for three full Bhajans and kept time with His hands just like in the olden days.

At one point, he left the railing support completely and kept time with both His hands! Swami then sat on the Toyota Porte's sofa chair for some time and then indicated that Aarathi be given. Swami lovingly put the rose offered by the student and blessed the boy taking aarathi.

He asked the boys as to what time the examinations (mid term which commence today) begin. He then asked what paper they had today and asked them to write their exam well. Swami then returned walking till the door behind.

At around 11:45 AM, Swami went out to Brother C.Srinivas's home and returned at 1:30 PM. One of the alumni who waited hopefully for Swami near "Hope Farm" was blessed to hand over a letter to Swami as He stopped the car on the road and asked for it to be given! What grace!

In the evening, bhajans commenced at 5:00 PM. Swami gave darshan at 5:20 PM. He came walking just holding the hand of Brother Siddharth. He did not allow anyone to even support His back. Swami sat down and time with both His hands. The clock had turned back and Swami was His old self. After some ten bhajans, Swami accepted aarathi and returned.