Summer Showers in the Foothills of Nandi Hills - An Exposition
To be in the Divine midst is something that we all crave for. It was yet another opportunity bestowed by Bhagawan in the form of 'Summer Course in Indian Culture and Spirituality (SCICS)', to be with Him and Be Him. The course was held at Sathya Sai Grama, Muddenahalli, nestled in the serene setting overlooking the picturesque Nandigiri, Skandagiri, Brahmagiri, Hemagiri and Chandragiri hills. The holy place described by Bhagawan Himself as 'Tapo Bhoomi', only got enriched by 29 Divine Visits in the physical form and now this place being chosen by Him to continue His Mission in the subtle form makes it even more special. SCICS is an initiative started in the early 70's by Bhagawan with an objective to expose Indian youth to the rich cultural and spiritual heritage of Bharat.
We (my brother and I) reached the campus by evening when we were welcomed by volunteers with a smile. After the registration formalities, when we were about to move to the accommodation that was allotted to us, a volunteer comes to inquire if we had something to eat and on being told that we had just arrived, he pulls a Cornflakes Mixture packet from his drawer and asks us to grab it, if hungry. Impressed by the kind gesture, we moved to the building where we were provided with accommodation. Another volunteer tried to help us carry our baggage to our room. I got a first-hand experience of the principle of 'Athithi Devo Bhava' as taught by Bhagawan Himself being put into practice here by these loving volunteers most of them being top-notch IT professionals working in Bangalore.
The campus was beautifully decorated, like a bride waiting for her Divine Purusha. Due to some prior personal engagement, I couldn't attend the inaugural session on 29th May 2015. Summer Course was inaugurated by Sri SM Krishna, former Chief Minister of Karnataka and former Union External Affairs Minister in the Divine Presence. He being an ardent devotee of Bhagawan, it was a pleasure having him for the inauguration. We also had Swami Nikhileswarananda, Head, The Ramakrishna Math and Mission, Vadodara.
As the second day dawned with a breath taking view of the hills around, I was out of the cosy quilt, for a hot shower. Everything was meticulously planned and arranged by the organising team. A tasty breakfast was ready that suited every palate after Nagar Sankirtan. We had around 1300 delegates from across the country and few even from South-east Asian countries. And it was time for the Morning session. The guest speakers were Swami Hamsananda from Chinmaya Mission and Dinesh Ghodke from Art of Living.
At around 11:15 AM, Swami arrived. He made some important declarations during the course of Discourse regarding huge service projects that He was taking up.
♡ Drinking Water Project for the parched district of Chikballapur
♡ Ground breaking ceremony for a new Super speciality hospital in Noida near Delhi in November this year
♡ Sri Sathya Sai Sarla Memorial Hospital in Muddenahalli
♡ A Music College in Muddenahalli
♡ A general hospital in Kolkata in the next 2 years
♡ A super specialty hospital in Kolkata in the next 5 years
♡ A Medical bus with mini operation theatre in Kolkata by this November
♡ A small medical van for Muddenahalli youths to undertake Medical camp
Mind boggling, I must say. Mysterious are His ways!
In the afternoon, I met Bro Vijay Sai (VS), Bro Sai Keshav and Bro V Kumar. Bro VS asked me and a friend of ours to ask the Bhajan in-charge if we could sing in the Divine Presence. We promptly spoke to the in-charge and were asked to come and sit in the front on the next day. Swami had a plan. He is a Master Strategist. Swami had a reason to make me sit in the front on the next day.
Interactive session was conducted by Bro VS, Bro Sri Ram (SR) and Natesh Shetty. It was a typical corporate training programme interspersed with Swami and His teachings. It was thoughtfully placed in the afternoon slot when you are too full for spiritual talks after a heavy meal. It involved running around, greeting strangers, appreciating their good qualities etc. We were shown a picture of a man and asked to comment what his face conveyed. He looked like an arrogant man. And then we were asked to close our eyes and pray for him, to send love. Now when we looked at the same face, we had a completely different opinion of what his facial expression conveyed. This was an exercise to drive home the point that everything is in our mind i.e. the world is just a reflection of what we are. It was a good learning.
It was time for some entertainment in the form of music after a long day. We had Swami's Old students ready with a music programme to enthral the Lord and transport the audience to a different world all together. The best songs were selected from different languages. A soul-stirring rendition by Bro Sai Keshav "Hari Aum Namah Shivaya" had the power to move hearts. "Toredu Jeevisabahude Hari Ninna Charanagala" by Bro Vijay Sai conveyed his inability to live away from the Divine Lotus Feet. The Bengali rendition "Ekla Chalo Re" was melodious. The Marathi Abhang "Bhaktha Jana Vatsale" made me go crazy. There were Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam songs too. To draw the climax to an evening infused with the love for the Lord, Prasanna from Bhopal sang the song "Dama Dam Mast Kalandar" which was exhilarating. It is at times like these I wish we had the freedom to dance without any inhibition. It was too much of an adrenaline rush for one evening! This is the boy, it is said, will play a major role when Swami sets up a music College in Muddenahalli. A beautiful evening filled with song and dance (in my heart!!) had drawn to a close. Swami blessed all the musicians with gifts, a token of appreciation.
Swami then started back to His residence and I was running with the car. Since, I couldn't attend the inaugural session I had missed the watch that was distributed to delegates (men). Sarees were distributed to women delegates. Who else to ask for the watch from, but Bhagawan! I asked, as I ran with the car, "I didn't get the watch, Swami!" Immediately, Bhagawan instructed Bro VS who was right there to get me a watch. And I got it from the organising team.
On 31st May 2015, the final day of Summer Course, I was called in by the Bhajan in-charge to be seated in the singers' enclosure. I was thrilled as I was sitting right in front of Swami's chair just a few feet away. It was made known to us that Swami had just left Prem Deep and would arrive at the auditorium. As the 3rd Bhajan started, Swami entered the auditorium. My heart was beating faster. He signalled to stop the Bhajan and start with the programmes.
We then had a very humorous talk by Bro VS regarding his eating habits and it was doubly funny since I sat right in front of Bhagawan I could hear His live commentary! He shared how Swami once stole a laddoo from his plate when he had closed his eyes for 'Brahmarpanam'. A very naughty side of Bhagawan was revealed to all of us. Later we had an informal talk by Kunal Ganjawal sharing his personal story using colloquial phrases which are unique to Mumbai and Bollywood industry. It was time for 20 minutes break before the next session commenced. That's when I realized why I was made to sit in the singers' enclosure right in the front.
Swami gets up from the chair to walk backstage towards His room. He had nothing in His hands few seconds before and the next moment I see two velvet gift pouches. He comes close to me and asks, "Where is your brother?" I said, "He is sitting outside, Swami!". He says, "I have got watches for you!" I couldn't believe my ears and eyes. I show Him the watch that I was wearing which was already given by the organising team previous day on Swami's instruction. He says, "It's okay, take it" and walks past me, handing over two beautiful watches packed in two separate velvet pouches. The earlier watch that was distributed by the organizing team wasn't fitting my brother's hand and he was a bit disappointed. The sweetest part is when Swami leaves for His residence during the lunch break; He tells my brother who was seated outside, "I have given watches with your brother. Collect it". Swami's love is unconditional. What is it that He doesn't know? What is the need for Him to please, convince and make us feel special?
"I readily give you what you want, so that one day you may want what I have come to give you."
I hope these sweet little moments will make us want what He has actually come to give.
For all these years, I used to run with His car (once even on the freshly laid hot asphalted road in the Puttaparthi summer) craving for His attention, a smile or even a gaze but God has perfect timing; never early, never late. It takes a little patience and a lot of faith, but it's worth the wait.
In the afternoon, we had an interactive session conducted by Bro VS and Bro SR. We were made to sit region wise and asked to discuss, what service we would take up going back to our cities and its time bound implementation. I understood the gravity of the situation when some noise made by delegates in the auditorium made Bro SR thunder. "Those who are not interested would be escorted out of the auditorium. Sorry for being blunt but we are here because we really want to do something for Swami!".
In the evening, we had the Divine Discourse followed by a Q&A session during the Valedictory ceremony. I mustered up the courage to ask Swami, "Is Prema higher or Dharma?" Swami quips, "Looks like this boy needs one more Summer Course!" And the audience bursts into laughter! He explains, "I have been saying all this while, Prema is Dharma and Dharma is Prema. There is no difference". He adds, "We talk of Hindu Dharma, Christian Dharma, and Islam Dharma. It is only LOVE LOVE LOVE. Do not differentiate".
We then had a beautiful music programme by Kunal Ganjawala. It was fun watching Swami's face when some Bollywood Love songs were being sung!!
With that the SCICS had concluded but not my thirst for Him. I was running with the car as Swami was returning to Prem Deep. He looks at me and says, "Write". I didn't quite get it. I ask Him, "Swami?". He says, "Experience". Like a proud father, after the successful completion of Summer Course, He wanted me to share the joy that I had experienced, with others too who were not able to attend for various reasons.
As I was returning to my room getting soaked and drenched in Swami's Love, it poured heavily and continued for over an hour, the first rain after we landed in Muddenahalli -- Summer Showers in the foothills of Nandi Hills.
Next day, as we finish our breakfast at the Food Court and get ready with the luggage to vacate, wondering how to reach Chikballapur with no public transport in place, a friendly volunteer offers to drop us to Chikballapur in his Honda City. Thus, we returned after yet another blissful sojourn with a heart full of gratitude.
During my first interview on 29th March 2015, after Swami had asked us to take Padanamaskar and gave us Vibhuthi packets, He had promised, He would keep calling us to guide us and Swami was keeping up His promise!
You may read my earlier hub about my interview experience here...http://preethamsai9.hubpages.com/hub/When-what-used-to-be-a-Monologue-became-a-Dialogue
The biggest take away from the SCICS - The physical form at Puttaparthi was a drama. The subtle form at Muddenahalli is another drama. Don't come to Muddenahalli again to get attached to a new form. REALIZE GOD IS WITHIN YOU.
Whatever written above is His writing, I am, but just a 'medium'.
Swami! I would like to come back to you every time improvising a little by little, so that one day; I may not have to go back again.
Jai Sai Ram
With Love and Light,
Preetham Sai P V