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EL DESPERTAR SAI: SOJOURN IN PUTTAPHARTI FOR MAHA SHIVARATRI PARTES 7-11 SOJOURN IN PUTTAPHARTI FOR MAHA SHIVARATRI PARTES 7-11 - EL DESPERTAR SAI

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SOJOURN IN PUTTAPHARTI FOR MAHA SHIVARATRI PARTES 7-11

Post No.7


Sathyabhama

Sai Ram!
This posting is about what had transpired for us on the 8th March 2016.

As previously stated we attended the final hours of the Shivaratri Akhanda Bhajan
 which finished at 6am.
We were all given special Prasad which was tamarind rice & sweet pudding.
That was enough to fill us up. So there was no need for breakfast.

 Around 9.30am, I took a walk along Puttaparthi Main Road.
You can see that on Post No.4

We took it quietly on that day.
 Going for lunch at Prasanthi, then resting for most of the afternoon.
Since my son had not seen the Holy Chitravati River.
I took him down there via Chitravati Road.
  We also visited the Wish-Fullfilling (Kalpavruksham) Tree.

Here's a video, I put together.


 Here are some screenshots of that walk.


Off we go!


Went to visit Swami's Parents Samadhi, but it was closed.



Samadhi Road
 

Chitravathi Road



The many stalls along the way.




On the banks of the Holy Chitravati.


A Shiva Linga in the middle of the river.
Not a drop of water anywhere! Very dry!
There were some dogs sleeping under the leafy canopy.
It was very hot!
I dared not disturb them, so I did not get close.


The river bed. No water!


 We walk up the almost endless steps to the Wish-Fullfilling Tree.




Stalls are lined most of the way.
Some of them were even watching the cricket on their small TV.
You need to be fit to get up there. Its a long way!


The Kalpavruksham Tree was damaged by a storm some years back.
They have protected it now with wire mesh around it.
All those rolled-up papers you see are prayers.
A lady who sits up there provides pen & paper, flowers, coconut etc, for offering.


A young boy there, does a pooja for you, breaking the coconut, offering the incence etc.
Then you place your personally written prayer on the mesh under the tree.
It all costs money...of course! Its their livelihood!
Suddenly a group of women turned up.
They were asking for a photo. We obliged! Then they sang a bhajan!
You can see that on the video.




We climbed further to the top of the hill.
Tibetan Prayer flags blowing in the wind.
From there you can see the whole of Parthi.






Back down we went... 


We came back as the Vedam was being chanted in Sai Kulwant Hall.




A few of the monkeys in the street.

 

 Looks like he is filming us from above. 


Wonder what she is thinking?


THE ABODE OF PEACE!

 We were both feeling exhausted, so we missed Darshan that evening.
Only returning to Prasanthi for dinner.

In the evening,
 I took my son to the Sri Sathyamma Temple and the old Shiva Temple, as he had not yet seen them.
Except for the Sathyabhama Temple, all the other Temples were closed at that time.

Here's a short video snippet, I put together




Also called 'Sathyamma Temple', this is a temple dedicated to the worship of Mother Sathyabhama, the divine consort of Lord Krishna.
 This is a unique temple because seldom in any part of India is this type of homage offered to Mother Sathyabhama.

It was built by the pious Sri Ratnakaram Kondama Raju (the Bhagawan's paternal grandfather) and in explanation of this unusual tribute to Sathyabhama, he said that he was persuaded to erect the temple, by events that occurred during a strange dream!

The Dream: In the dream, Kondama Raju saw Sathyabhama, alone, expectant and forlorn, waiting anxiously for her lord, who had gone on an errand to bring her the much-coveted 'Parijatha' flowers. The minutes increased to hours and the hours accumulated into days but still there was no sign of Lord Krishna! So, Sathyabhama broke into tears. There ensued a huge storm accompanied by thunder, lightning and a heavy shower of rain. Luckily, Her eyes fell on Kondama Raju who was passing across the place where she stood and she asked him to provide some shelter. This led to the determination of Sri Kondama Raju to raise a temple for the Consort of the Lord.


Here are some screenshots.







 Arati


 Shiva Temple






It was getting late, so we retired for the night.

 Another day awaits us!
The 9th of March

Post No.8


Om Namo Bhagavate Rudraya

Sai Ram!
This post is about what had transpired on the 9th of March 2016.

We first went to Prasanthi for morning Darshan.
 It was a beautiful darshan. Swami's presence is always there!
After darshan, we all lined up to do pranams at His Maha Samadhi.
You are then given some flower petals that are divinely blessed.

Off to breakfast at the Western Canteen.


 Porridge, fruit salad (banana, paw paw etc), toast with either jam, honey etc.
 Mango lassi! 
The food prayer is always chanted aloud by all and arati is offered beforehand to the shrine. 
All religions are represented there.
We then went to the coconut stand to get our daily morning fix of coconut water.


 I started getting the flu. Bother!
 We headed back to the hotel.

 Someone told me that the pundit will be doing a Linga abhishekam at the Shiva Temple.
So off I went!
It had already started, but managed to witness some of it.
Abhishekams were done to the Lingam. The pundit was chanting the Sri Rudram.

This Temple was built by Easwaramma's father. Swami apparently installed the lingam Himself.


Here is a video of that puja.
 

Some screenshots!






Arati





 After the puja, the pundit blessed us who were present with the sprinkling of the water from the Linga & distributed holy prasad to us all. 

It seems every time I come to Parthi, I am always drawn to the Temples.
So much history there! Swami history!
 I would love to spend a month there. Make a documentary about Puttaparthi itself.
Visiting all the places where Swami grew up etc... till the present day.
 Interview the devotees who knew Swami when He was young.
Not just Parthi itself but beyond!

Anyway back to the real world!
As I was filming, this brother came up to me and wanted to show me around.
He said he was the manager or something to that fact.
I could not really understand what he was saying.

 He took me to a few Sacred Temples, that I never knew existed in the back streets of Parthi.
An area where most of us would never go. Its another world there!  

Here's the resultant video, I put together.



Note: If you experience buffering issues with video playback, click on the HD and select a lower setting.
Or click play then pause it until the graybar moves across at the bottom. Then press play again.
  
Here's a screenshot storyboard.

  

This temple is dedicated to the worship of Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna was brought up in a community of cowherds or gopas and He is lovingly called Gopala. The history of this temple is intricately woven with the legend of Puttaparthi.
 This temple dedicated to Krishna or Venugopala has an interesting mythological genealogy. Apparently, Gollapalli (Puttaparthi's earlier name) was a prosperous village of cowherds at one time. However, evil fortunes fell upon the village when one incensed cowherd hurled a stone at a cobra that was sucking milk from the udder of one of his cows. The dying cobra cursed the village, and as a result, the cattle began to perish, and the place was infested with ant-hills. Its name was now changed to Valmikipura (the word 'Valmiki' denoting 'anthill' in Sanskrit, and Puttaparthi being the Telugu equivalent of the same). In an attempt to appease the spirit of the dead snake, the villagers installed the blood-splattered stone in a shrine and started worshipping it. Sathya Sai Baba instructed them to wash it and smear it with sandal paste. On doing this, the outline of the figure of Krishna (or Venugopala) holding his customary flute, became discernible. The temple was now called the Venugopalaswamy temple, and the curse on the village of Puttaparthi came to an end.




Lord's Feet



Krishna & Radha





 Deities protecting and blessing in all directions.




This man had a small tape player playing the ...OM!


 Inner Sanctum 


 The stone.




Headed off over to the other Temples where the Shiva, Hanuman, Shirdi Temples are.














He proceeded to explain about some of the other Temples. 


Nine Stones



 Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman on one of the side walls of the Anjaneye Temple.


At the back wall of the Temple.



Hanuman on the other side.

Anjaneya Swami Temple 

 The Hanuman Temple is located in the village of Puttaparthi at the northern end of the Gopuram road. The temple is associated with a remarkable incident that occurred during Bhagawan's childhood days. One day, young Sathya and His friends visited the temple to perform the customary circumambulation. They had gone around the sanctum sanctorum once and preparing to go around again when Sathya suddenly stopped and stood rooted to the spot as if held by some invisible force. Some of his stronger mates tried to move Him but couldn't. He explained to His wonderstruck friends that it was Lord Hanuman who was holding Him back, and even as He said these words the boys could see Lord Hanuman holding Sathya's feet tightly and saying, "Lord, it is I who have to circumambulate you".



 

Inner Sanctum


Paduka's


Another Temple. Not sure what is was? Devi?


 Shiva Linga


Nandi


Coconut Offering

This brother wanted me to follow him outside the complex.
I obliged! 


 The Linga at the bottom of the well near the Sri Sathyamma Temple.
Not sure the history of this?
 The spot where Swami on Inauguration Day, 14th December 1945 of the Mandir, placed His palm on the ground. Soon, a spring rose (from the spot). It was fresh water.
 Baba ordered a well to be dug at that spot.
 It was the only source of drinking water at that time. 
If any one can shed some light on this? 
Feel free to let me know for the benefit of all.
 You can do so via the comment pop-up at the bottom of the post. 


He showed me where the old Mandir used to be. Now its rebuilt as a Marriage Hall.
 Bhajans are held there also...I believe?
A bust of Swami's Father (Pedda Venkama Raju) sits at the top.



  
On December 14th, 1945 on the auspicious day of Vaikunta Ekadashi, Bhagwan was taken in a procession from Subamma's house to the newly built Temple. Thus was born the historic "Old Mandir" or "Paatha Mandiram".
 Old Mandir heralded yet another significant milestone in Bhagwan's earthly sojourn.


On my very first trip way back in 1992, I was fortunate to go inside the old mandir.
Here is a photo below I took then of the small shrine that was there then.



 Very early picture of Swami in front of that Shrine on 15th December 1945


Back to the present!

He met up with this lady in the street, saying she is a relation of Swami.
She mentioned her name but you will need to watch the video, as I can't pronounce it.
He then proceeded to show me where Swami's brother and sister lived.
Seshama Raju and Venkamma. 
Their houses are almost opposite each other.
Same road that leads to the Shivalayam Temple. 




Next we turned right up this lane to another Siva Temple.



Harinareswar Temple



He knew the pundit who lived next door to this Temple.
The pundit said Swami did abhishekams to the lingam when He was just 6 years old.


He proceeded to unlock the Temple, but the gate was stuck. It took awhile for both of them to open it.



The pundit offered some flowers and coconut to the lingam.





A very loud strange noise started soon after.
Not sure what it was. You will need to watch the video to hear it.
 I followed the brother further along the small lane ways.
 I had not ever ventured down this way before.
Almost like a maze! Felt like, I was going back in time.


We arrived at this small Temple. It had a long tall structure at the front.
He said when there was no power, Swami provided oil there.
It was hard to hear what he said.






Vishnu and Lakshmi?


He mentioned about this stone behind the plant on this particular spot with regards to Swami.
I could not understand what he was saying.
Again watch the video to hear it.

Off we went further down the lane ways. Dogs were barking at us!
Not sure because of him or me.
 Maybe they weren't used to a westerner carrying a camera on a tripod.
Soon there were a lot of them! A bit scary to say the least!



He pointed to a large stone like lingam on the ground.
Again, I could not understand what he was saying. The dogs were still barking in unison.



Just there also was another small Temple.
Kalki Devi




It was very hot that day! Each day seem to just get hotter and hotter.
He met up with his sister there, so I presumed that he resided in that area. 
 I felt the need to go back to the hotel, as I was concerned about my son who wasn't feeling the best.  Stomach bug!
  It was almost lunchtime at Prasanthi.
 Did not want to miss that!
 The head cold had set in and I was feeling exhausted.
We parted ways! Thanking him for the tour! 

Going back myself, the dogs started barking again!!!
  







 Walked back to the hotel.
My son was okay, so we headed to Prasanthi for lunch.
We decided to take rest afterwards, only to return for evening Darshan.
Students of the Brindavan Campus of SSSIHL presented a Gratitude Offering. 

 http://www.theprasanthireporter.org/2016/03/shukharana-gratitude-outpouring-by-the-brindavan-passing-out-batch/




That was the 9th March for us in Parthi.

Post No.9


Sri Sathya Sai Anandam

Sai Ram!
We awoke to another hot day!
The head cold was at its peak. I was feeling very lethargic!
We went for morning Darshan.
Wonderful, as always!
The Ashram was still full of devotees.
After lunch in Prasanthi, we decided to take flight beyond Parthi for a little bit. 


It is certainly a very contentious issue among many of the devotees world-over, about the recent events/happenings that are taking place at Muddenahalli and beyond its borders.
I will not be expressing my personal thoughts or beliefs here.
As Swami says: Do not be guided by what others tell you, but by your own Conscience.
To experience firsthand, we decided to make a trip to Muddenahalli.

Swami had visited this place many times. He set up a college there.
It is located close to the sacred Nandi Hills near Chikkaballapur, about 123 kms from Parthi and about 50kms from Bangalore (Bengaluru).



Swami in Muddenahalli

 "Today I have decided to have a separate campus affiliated to Sri Sathya Sai University in Muddenahalli. Bhagawan's Will is bound to happen. The work will start from tomorrow. Therefore, Swami has Willed to have Sathya Sai University in Muddenahalli. The people living in Muddenahalli are village folk. They live by physical labour. To pursue higher studies, they have to go to cities or towns. Once they have completed their education, they can go elsewhere to earn a living. Swami has decided to inculcate spirituality through Bhagavatam, Bhagawad Gita and Ramayana." 
 
23rd of November, 2008


 14th February 2009





14th February 2009

 Atop the hill, the venue for the foundation stone laying ceremony, Swami was accorded a grand traditional reception with the 'Poorna Kumbham'. Amidst sonorous chanting of the vedas by the students, Swami laid the foundation stone inside the specially erected 'mantapam'. The mantapam and the entire area had a celestial atmosphere with gorgeous flower decorations, colorful balloons and a wide-variety of lush green plants. Swami glanced through the event card and looked at the plans for the college building designed by the L&T Ltd. After laying the foundation stone, Swami returned to Premadeep. He blessed a group of old students of the institution, who sought His Divine sanction to construct 'Prema Kutir', a residential block for the dedicated teachers (thyagajeevis) of Muddenahalli. Another group of well-wishers of the Institution, who proposed to build some guest houses for the comfortable stay of parents of students and other guests, was also blessed by Swami in the Prayer-hall of "Premdeep".Meanwhile, students were singing bhajans on the sprawling lawns under the huge shamiyanas where thousands of people had gathered well in advance to have the darshan of the Lord and listen to His nectarine words. Alighting the specially erected dais in front of the "Premdeep" He granted the coveted Divine darshan to the thousands assembled.



Premdeep (Prayer Hall)


Foundation Stone


  Here are 3 separate links concerning this sacred place:

Bhagawan's Visit to Muddenahalli

Commencement of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (SSSIHL) at Muddenahalli




Booked a taxi!
 The driver said it would take around 90 minutes to get there.
He was certainly going at top speed most of way!


The route to get there is via the main highway towards Bengaluru, then turn right to the town of Chikkaballapur.


 You again turn right, down a small road through some smaller villages until you arrive at the gate.



 Here's a video, I put together of that road trip to Muddenahalli and then back again to Parthi.

Enjoy the ride!



Some screenshots from that sojourn.


Leaving Puttaparthi 





Anthill


 Sri Sathya Sai Institutes of Higher Medical Sciences




 Turning left onto the highway to Bengaluru




Toll Station to Karnataka District


Swami is with us all the way!


To Chikkaballapur





Turn right up this small road.




Nandi Hills on the horizon.


Muddenahalli Campus in the distance.



Turning left to the Campus.



It was very quiet and peaceful there. The students were doing their exams.
 Swami's presence was very much felt!!!











New Hall (almost complete)


Lord Ganesha


After spending some time there, we headed back to Parthi.



Chikkaballapur








Turn right to Puttaparthi - 43 kms


Gosh! How many can you fit in a Rickshaw?


Back on the road to Puttaparthi.




Burning off! Hanuman flying past!









Back in time for dinner!

Post No.10


Om Sri Sai Ram

It was the last couple of days of our sojourn in Puttaparthi.
Due to a heavy cold, I took it slow and spent most of the time in the Ashram.
We went to morning Darshan.
Afterwards, we would visit the shopping complex, bookshop etc in the afternoon.
My son had not seen till then.
 We also visited the Meditation Tree.
The entrance to get there is now from outside the ashram.

Here's some pics from my mobile phone.



 OM SRI SAI SADHAKANUGRAHA VATA VRUKSHA PRATISHTHAPAKAYA NAMAH
(Salutations to Sri Sai, who has planted firmly the Banyan Tree as a boon to the seekers of knowledge)

The Banyan Tree that is growing in the grove has a peculiar sanctity of its own.
 In April of 1959, while talking one evening on the sands of the Chitravathi River to a gathering of devotees, Baba spoke of Buddha and the Bodhi tree, the "Tree of Wisdom," and of the Sadhakas (spiritual aspirants) seeking some specially favorable spots for their austerities. Even as He was speaking thus, He "took" out from the sands a thick copper plate about fifteen inches by ten inches in size which contained mystic markings and letters of many known and unknown alphabets! He said that such mystic plates, cryptograms written on copper or stone, are planted under trees where aspirants engage in austerities so that they may be helped to develop concentration of mind and control of the senses. He announced that He would be placing the copper plate under a Banyan tree that He proposed to plant in the grove. This was actually done on the twenty-ninth of June, 1959, and Sai Baba declared that Yogis who have reached a certain stage of spiritual progress will automatically come to know of this tree and this mystic plate, and they will be drawn by the mysterious force of these toward the meditation grove which will then fully justify its name!
…And here comes the Spiritual significance of the Tree, in Prof. Kasturi's own words:

The Banyan tree, known as Nyagrodha, "down-grown," and Vatavriksha, "enclosure tree," is famous in Indian sacred literature and history. Lord Maha Vishnu, the great God of Preservation, or Siva, God in the Form of the Guru, is described as sitting under a Banyan tree, and expounding by His very silence all knowledge to His disciple. This tree may be said to symbolize Sanathana Dharma, the Eternal Wisdom, for its branches reach out in all directions and draw sustenance from every type of faith and spiritual striving. It is also called Rahupada, "many-footed" in Sanskrit, for the series of roots that its branches send down toward the earth strike the ground and seek food therein and make the branches independent even of the parent trunk. The tree is therefore immortal. There are in India Banyan trees that have been worshipped for thousands of years, such as the one at Triveni at Prayag, Allahabad, or the one called Akshaya-vat, the "Indestructible," at Gaya.

  




After spending most of the afternoon in Prasanthi, we headed back to the hotel.
Had this sudden urge to again visit the Sri Venugopala Swamy Temple, as it is very close to the hotel.
The pujari was about to start a puja! Perfect timing!!!

Here is the video.


Some screenshots.






 

The pujari said the Temple was 500 years old!


He told me at around 5.30am the next morning, he would be doing abhishekam
 to the stone with the image of Krishna playing the flute.

Evening Darshan

Gratitude Program by Under Graduate & Music College Students of Sai University - March 13 2016


 That was the 13th.
The 14th would be our last day in Parthi.

The photo of the Sarva Dharma Stupa at the top of this page was taken with mobile phone on this day.

Here's the Sarva Dharma Stupa,
I took way back in 1992, using B/W Infared Film. Handcolored.
In those days cameras were allowed.

Sarva Dharma Aikya Stupa in Prasanthi Nilayam

A 50ft high pillar celebrating the unity of all religions, was built in 1975 to mark the advent of the Avatar.
At its base are symbols of five of the world's major religions, along with the associated sayings shown below. The pillar, with its concentric rings, represents yoga, or Union with God. The rings indicate the stages of yogic discipline required for unfolding the "lotus of the heart", whose petals are at the top of the pillar. The flame of inner illumination is in the center of the lotus. Just as the lotus plant lives in water but does not get contaminated by it, so we should live in the world but be untouched by it.
Hindu Om: Listen to the primeval Pranava (Om) resounding in your heart as well as in the heart of the Universe.
Buddhist wheel: Remember the wheel of cause and consequence, of deed and destiny, and the wheel ofdharma that rights them all.
Zoroastrian fire symbol: Offer all bitterness in the sacred fire and emerge grand, great, and godly.
Islamic crescent and star: Be like the star, which never wavers from the crescent but is fixed in steady faith.
Christian cross: Cut the "I" feeling clean across and let your ego die on the cross, to endow on you Eternity.

Let the different faiths exist, let them flourish, and let the glory of God be sung in all the languages and in a variety of tunes. That should be the Ideal. Respect the differences between the faiths and recognize them as valid as long as they do not extinguish the flame of unity.
Sathya Sai Baba


Post No.11


 Sai Ram!!!
 This is the last post of this sojourn!
14th of March was our last day spent in this holy place of Puttaparthi.
The days went so quickly... it was hard to believe it was coming to an end.
Hopefully, it won't be our last visit!
Only Swami knows, if and when.

I got up at 4am that morning, as I wanted to witness the washing of the stone at the Sri Venugopala Swamy Temple.


  You can read about its historical significance in Post No.8

I decided to first go to the Mosque, to see if I could video record the Azan (The Muslim call to ritual prayer)

Walked to there via the Shivalayam Temple, then down a lane to the Jamia Masjid.
 The Imam told me they won't start till 5.30am.

The time of the Fajr prayer is during the beginning of dawn until sunrise, a period which lasts about one to one-and-a-half hours on average.
This is an especially valuable time for spiritual practice, for as the sun rises upon the earth, the soul awakens from its rest in the Divine Presence, and one's actions during this sanctified period are of immense significance towards spiritual awakening into consciousness.
The word fajr means "dawn" in Arabic, and comes from the same root word as infijar, which means "to explode" or "to burst forth", referring to the light of the sun as it erupts into the darkness of night and illuminates the world, replacing darkness with light, vision and clarity.

The abhishekams at the Venugopalaswamy Temple was to start at the same time.
I decided to go back, giving my last salutations to Sai Shiva, then eventually walking back to Krishna.

Here's a short video of that quick visit.
 

Some screenshots.


Very quiet at that time in the morning.
Many dogs roaming about!





Walked back towards the Shivalayam Temple.






Om Namah Shivaya!






Circumambulate around Venugopala.



 KRISHNA JAI!

   
The pujari was preparing for the puja to the sacred stone.
He first scrubbed the stone with water.
Commenced chanting prayers and making offerings of milk, ghee, curd, honey, sugar, coconut water, etc.
 Arati followed.
 Then applying sandal paste and kumkum.
 Chanting Sri Krishna Ashstotram offerings of kumkum to a small Krishna statue.
Flower garlands next. 
 Here is the video of the complete Puja performed.
How often do you get to witness this, I contemplated.
To film it also!



 Here are some screenshots.


  
ॐ कृष्णाय नमः।
Om Krishnaya Namah।





Can you see Krishna?

 Sathya Sai Baba instructed them to wash it and smear it with sandal paste. On doing this, the outline of the figure of Krishna (or Venugopala) holding his customary flute, became discernible.






ॐ तीर्थकृते नमः
Om Tirthakrite Namah
 Creator Of Holy Places

Later we headed to Prasanthi for morning Darshan and breakfast.
We spent the rest of the morning there. 


The afternoon was spent preparing and getting ready to finally leave in the evening.








Taxi booked! Ready for the long flight back to Oz!




Sunset over Australia

Hope you have enjoyed this Sojourn in Parthi blog!

And to finish!
Here's a photo of Swami, I took in 1992
24 years ago! Time flies! 



JAI BOLO BHAGAVAN SRI SATHYA SAI BABA JI KI JAI



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