How could the Lord stay away from His devotees’ repeated calling? How could He not respond to their persistent yearning? How much longer could He stay away…?
Mr Shivajirao Jadhav’s invitation was worded with care, and decorated with the colours of love. It reached the Divine hands and got acquiescence.
When word of this acceptance reached Pune, joy knew no bounds. Every heart beat faster, every cell reverberated with joyous expectancy!
Happiness seeped through the city’s soil. It seemed everyday as though the sun set quicker than usual so as to usher in the dawn of Oct 28 that everyone and everything was so impatiently waiting for.
Even the tarmac at the Pune airport tingled with excitement. It was as though each particle in the air there was whispering to the other and passing it on to the leaves, the trees, the flowers, the ground, the birds and the rays of the sun that the Lord’s arrival was imminent!
The Divine Chariot landed at around 9.40 am, and every heart skipped a beat. Everyone sighed with delight to see the aircraft slowly coming to a final halt at the parking bay. The Highlift, after having been dressed up with pretty floral curtains, a red carpet and sprigs of red and yellow carnations, aligned itself, waiting for the Lord’s charan sparsh. Swami’s chair was carefully wheeled through, and in that fraction of a second before He got into the highlift, He looked down at the devotees from the open space, and smiled a smile of unparalleled love…
As the Highlift slowly descended to ground level, and His chair touched the tarmac, tears of joyful welcome welled up in everyone’s eyes.
The CM of Maharashtra Ashok Chavan especially flew down to Pune to receive Bhagawan, and to acquire His blessings as it was also his birthday.
Bhagawan’s car was ready and waiting for Him to be seated, as though saying ‘Asseyez-vous, s’il vous plait’. It had been a while since Bhagawan had traveled in it as it had come all the way from Parthi to be the Lord’s special chariot for the Maharashtra visit.
In seconds, the convoy sped out of the airport, and travelled through the city’ lanes and by-lanes to Mr Jadhav’s home where a right royal traditional welcome awaited Him.
Thereafter, the convoy made its way to the outskirts of Pune through winding roads, a brilliant landscape and milling devotees towards Sri Sathya Sai Panduranga Kshetra.
If Pune was a blushing bride, then what was Hadshi? A bride in all her beauty and splendour, which she got just by thinking of her Lord…
Everyday the Lord blessed and enchanted the thousands gathered there for His darshan. Nor sun nor cloud could keep a single soul away from the blessed Kshetra. During the day, devotees sat four hours on end in the hot sun but they didn’t look upon it as difficulty, instead for them, it was a penance for this was no ordinary visit - It was a visit of the Creator Himself… It was a boon and blessing that the Avatar in His physical form had chosen to be amongst them and shower His choicest blessings!
Bhagawan was dressed in His simple, elegant orange robes, while His sons wore gleaming white shirts, kurtas and trousers, and His daughters were dressed in the most vibrant hues. Everyone had done their bit to welcome the Lord, their Father, to His home in Maharashtra.
There were bhajans by Swami’s students and devotees, and musical programmes by Kavita Krishnamurthy, Nitin Mukesh, Sapna Mukherjee and the Little Champs of Marathi Sa Re Ga Ma. They delighted one and all by their renditions, and touched the Lord’s heart by their humility and devotion.
Bhagawan gave a discourse on the second day, and again, He stressed on the importance of love being the basis for your interaction with humans and other living beings. Birds stopped singing and waited to hear His ever sweet voice. His message of Love All Serve All and Help Ever, Hurt Never echoed in every heart and reverberated throughout the Kshetra, as dusk slowly set in and cast its evening spell on the surrounding hills…
Flowers vied to make it the bouquets offered to Beloved Swami, the leaves rustled and fell from their trees hoping they would be tread on by His Divine Lotus feet, and insects, snakes and animals remained calm and were thrilled to hear a reference made to them by the Lord Himself as He said in His discourse that snakes and scorpions bite only when they are threatened by man…
He pleased one and all, so gently and so sweetly…
On Oct 31, when Bhagawan’s convoy wound its way downhill, out of the gates of Pandurangaa Kshetra towards the arms of waiting Mumbai, He blessed everyone - rustic villagers - who needed no seva dals to control them, so disciplined were they. There was only one message that rang out from every heart to His – ‘Come back soon, Mother Sai…We need You, we long for You, we await You…’
If there are memories to cherish, nothing can excel this, and there is a hope that these celebrations would not end here, but would continue in the lives of all by way of selfless service and sacrifice. For that is when, our lives become His message…
(Writers, Julie is currently the Editor of Sathya Sai Newletter, Pune and Nupur is a professional journo with Saakal Times, Pune)