As I was walking down the side of the darshan hall (Sai Kulwant Hall), I couldn’t help but notice everybody outside the darshan hall were joining in the bhajans; seva dal, devotees lined up against the rope, devotees standing in front of East Prashanti (some things never change) … and they were all happy, a joy emanating from their faces as they join in, sing along.
White ocean of students up the front; look to the right, the hostel students and primary school students fill that right hand side block on the ladies side of the hall. Glance through the fences to the ladies side; quite a crowd sitting over there. Bhajans continue. Chair is there, on the men’s side of the samadhi.
Drop my cushion on the floor and sit, half kinda scared my thighs will complain again as they did unrelentingly the day before. No problems, I am sitting without any irks. The inner voice starts up, “Close your eyes and look out through your heart”. (Before darshan, a prompting had come to me to do a chakra cleaning, which the ego kinda irked at, but I gave that the flick real quick by simply starting up “So Hum” … and that settled me down) … so I wasn’t surprised to hear this guidance from the inner voice.
Um, I am not perfect at anything, so I confess, if I don’t think about things but just do them, then all is well. If I think about what I have to do, the mind gets in the way. So here I am sitting in bhajans in the darshan hall, moving my perception down to my heart to see things; it came fast the first time, but then my mind got in the way, and I had to try again and again, until I relaxed a lot more. But it came, a vision in my heart of white rings of light emanating from the Samadhi itself and expanding in wider and wider circles.
Then I started to see other things, and the inner voice told, “You have moved up to your third eye, move back down into the heart!!!” Well, I tried, ha, ha, you all probably know what the mind is like in these situations, and I tried, and finally saw it again from my heart – rings of white light, soft, gentle, expanding amd moving out to fill Sai Kulwant Hall, and then expanding further. That’s when I kinda got lost, trying to see where these rings were going. Back to bhajans, I told myself.
Now, for those of you who have not been to Sai Kulwant Hall since 24 April 2011, let me describe the evening.
Ropes. Seva dal with small ropes. Roped off areas where the students sit. Bhajans continue, the last bhajan is rather rousing, a fast bhajan. Pujari (the temple priest) comes out with arathi plate and sits in front of Swami’s chair (its the one from inside the mandir, a tall backed brown chair). When the bhajan ends, the pujari (in white) rises, lights the flame on a smallish plate and begins the arathi, worship by flame. Om Jai Jagadisha Hare being sung, I am sitting near the bell, and just about the only lines I heard were “ojaswi, Om Sai Mahadeva, Sathya Sai Mahadeva” as the assembled devotees voices rise up louder than the bell. That bell is loud. Last time I will sit there, I reckon.
As the Narayana verses begin I see some women run across the back of the darshan hall; a few men get up and move along the benches – these people wish to enter the mandir for a short meditation after darshan. Women running across the top back wall on the ladies side during the Narayana verses strikes me as rather undignified.
I see some people in white move with small red baskets and place them on each side of the Samadhi proper. (I later find out these are filled with rose petals.)
Arathi over, all attention is on the Samadhi in the centre of the porch. Men in white get up, I reckon the University staff, Hospital staff and ashram staff go up first to give a short prayer, pranams, at the Samadhi front. Students get up and leave the darshan hall in groups. Line of people go into the mandir for meditation. See ladies lines for darshan of Samadhi moving slowly.
The samadhi is obscured for some moments by men in white, seva dal with ropes, then a semblance of order appears as lines get up to go to the Samadhi for prayer, pranams, and taking darshan – sight – of the Samadhi itself. All is quiet – soft audio tape of the Sai Gayatri is being played as the lights come on in the darshan hall – night is settling, the bats are out, and so forth, and the porch is quite bright. Watch lines go. Infirm, people in wheelchairs, these follow the ashram staff to the Samadhi and take their darshan. Then the bench people get up and go join the lines and slowly amble, shuffle and totter their way over. Quite slow, some of them, so watching them elicits a bit of patience.
Lines for darshan of the samadhi are made very simply; they are formed of devotees right where they are sitting in the hall; so think of lines from right to left in the darshan hall; the lines are clearly formed, automatic – almost, and easy to understand. Seva dal with ropes simply move behind a line of sitting people with their rope, and those in front of the rope get up and join the queue to see the samadhi. Directly in front of the samadhi are three “roped” lanes, and devotees get between the pole – rope – pole – rope, (you get the idea) and go where guided by seva dal. Slow moving lines, at that place (or so it seems to me).
So I get up and join, rise with my line, go in the outside “lane”. Sai Gayathri is still playing softly and as it gets darker, a new, ambient, soft – (ultra) violet light becomes visible on the front of the porch and the three domes above the porch roof – all that area of the front of the porch. This looks really good. It’s just right, a soft, ethereal – otherworldly light playing over the entire front of the porch. This captures my attention, it looks just great, this lambent – ultra-violet sort of light. It’s not garish, it’s just right.
Now, I am in one line, moving quickly, outside “lane”, before I know it I am up the front and get a good close look at the Samadhi itself. It’s quite high, quite long, there appears to be a red inlay or covering in middle of it, with a big garland on it, and at that curved frontage, people kneel and offer pranams, prayers, salutations, hands joined, then touching the frontage itself, bowing, their foreheads touch that place. Quickly they get up and I am gently urged forward.
I do the same, kneel, place my hands gently and softly on that front ledge part, it feels very warm up here, my feet are warm, my hands warm, and I touch that front ledge area, touch my forehead there and quickly offer a moment’s silent prayer. Then I get up, touch that place and then touch my heart, and move off. I am guided towards a seva dal with one of those baskets I mentioned earlier – he fills my hand with rose petals, and softly says, “Sai Ram”.
I move away, and leave the darshan hall.
The Captain of the Heart? That was the refrain going around in my mind as I was hunting for my chappals, around the back.
The inner voice prompts me to write some more.
It has happened to me already; something has begun to crack inside me, I really felt it tonight.
It comes and erupts when I am sitting in the darshan hall, my mind is sometimes jarred by thinking back to times when Swami walked this hall, among us all. I have written before, and you have all read Letters from Home. I suppose I have my “signatures” … I see this, that, this place is my true home, everything is there except for that change at the front of the porch. This is where I have sat and waited for yonks, and written of my experiences, what I have felt, and what I have seen.
Now, it is not like that. Sometimes I feel an emptiness.
What was that word Swami sent to me in darshan once? Retinue. The ancient Latin meaning of retinue is gathering up together, making a whole, a completion, of an experience, an event. When my mind wanders to yesteryear, and darshans of those times, I become a bit jumbled … feeling some disconnection, some inner friction.
Mind wants to make pictures of Swami walking around, sitting in the chair.
Mind says “Can’t see Swami!”
Echo comes from the heart: “I have not gone anywhere!”
And I have to sit with that for some moments. Head says to apply internal discipline. Monkey mind jumping around. Heart has these feelings. Have to feel my way through this. Thinking, feeling, reconciling, being. Introduce a new thought, “Swami has not gone anywhere”. Take it from there, focus. Seek. Inside. After a time, something rescues me from this. The head stuff sort of just goes away somewhere and I feel comfortable again sitting in the darshan hall. That’s why I like sitting in vedam (vedic chanting), if I concentrate and just listen to the vedam, I become calm, and start to rise in consciousness. I have to focus, although.
Then comes the love. Like those expanding rings of light, the love comes directly to the heart, and begins to expand outwards. Walking out of the darshan hall, the love comes, it expands, I am not walking on the ground, I feel like I am walking softly on something, the whole body is flooded with love, love, love. Happened again tonight after leaving the darshan hall, that love … imperceptible at first, began to expand right out from my own heart, towards everyone and every thing.
Yes, HE is the Captain of the Heart.
© Chris Parnell