Darshan starts when you leave your room to go to the darshan hall. For many, darshan starts when the music starts in the darshan hall. (Never mind that Swami has been sending energy out to the people sitting in the hall, waiting…) Woe betide you if you are outside the darshan hall when the music starts! You may be taking darshan outside … there have been days when I have been caught outside, yes, and in the rain, as well … …
Iti drishti iti. What is seen reflects the mind of the seer. Morning darshan. I arrive and enter the hall before Nagarsankirtan. Sit. My discipline begins when I start washing. I have been doing this for so long, it is automatic now, the Gayatri starts up, and I keep it going until I am finished, washed, clean, and clothed. I kept it going, it was easy to do. Thru the dark streets, past the village dogs, people sleeping on the footpath, women selling plastic bags of milk, right through my early morning coffee wafting through the air and into the mandir. Nagarsankirtan is loud and pulls me away from Gayatri to Bholo Nath. Powerful, clear, ladies voices pierce the air. Purify. Brahmins are in front chanting slokas. I can hear the tabbala behind the ladies, the men are coming closer. It is creating a magnificent divine ambience for darshan.
Men come in. Some have hankies and towels down to mark their places; some have lost sight of their places. Some come just before darshan and sit on their cushions. Boys beside me drawing Swami. The Gayatri Mantra is lost to some mind wandering. Man comes late and cannot find his seat (he is in the wrong place) and just pushes himself down. Swami came out, and the music began. Men take up some slack space. Swami moves slowly through the women. Stops for a long talk at the start of the mens’s side. Stops many times, I am close, I can hear, ‘How are you?’ To another, ‘Where do you come from?’, ‘When did you come?’. His face really opens up, when he asks that, hard to describe, he suddenly becomes younger, gentler, full of concern, the face changes instantly he replies, head nodding from side to side. Gets closer. Men get up. Block Swami. I relax, Oh well, I am in Swami’s presence, I wait. Men sit a bit, one man really crawls across the crowd as Swami is on the other side, he is keeping pace with Swami with his letter. A lot of men are awake to him and many tell him to sit. Very loudly, too.
Swami comes back to my side. Speaks to some men for a time, quite close to where I am. Makes vibhuti for several, and moves on. Men get up again, nearly twenty or thirty men stand and move forward with their letters. Again I relaxed and let go, I am here in Swami’s presence. I notice that all the men who are up are Indians. Interesting that, I reflected. All these Indians, and he puts them up the front so they can be near him, hand a letter.
One man has come back, he has a handful of vibhuti and is giving it out. Many many men rush to him to take some vibhuti. Swami walks on up the red carpet to the corner. Men get up in the middle. Swami, unaffected, eternal, loving, takes letters and moves on. Sends a man for interview. Moves further up, sends some men in the distinct Nepalese caps in for interview. Rounds the corner, sends more men in for interview. Now about 20 have gone up. On the porch, Swami turns and gestures to some women. They come quickly to the verandah. Go in. Darshan is over.
Preamble: Afternoon Darshan:~
Having been a visitor here in Prashanthi Nilayam from time to time, one of the things you least wish to happen to you is to be caught on the hop on the way in to the Ashram and hear the music going. It means you are late and locked out. The inner voice told ‘come at such and such a time’; so I did that. All the time I had this sneaking suspicion I would be caught, and so I was. Walking down the side of the darshan hall, in the Frisked Very Thoroughly line, I saw Swami come out and the music started. The Police all made their pranaams and began following Swami. Oh, the tension rose, the line moved quicker, I saw two men, very unhappy and unsure, stuck outside the line and likely to be locked out. I pulled them into the line front of me (what the heck) and down we went, trusting Swami we would make it in before they closed the gates. And so it was, I had plenty of time to get a seat. A tall friend, a long time visitor, popped down beside me. As I observed Swami cross to the men’s side, I turned and said to him, “Just in the nick of time”. Smiles.
Well, I felt unprepared. Swami spoke to some men, took very few letters and walked the carpet. Hand up in blessings. As he approached the area I was sitting, I felt the top of my head tingling, and it kept tingling for the rest of darshan. Hadn’t felt that before. I decided Swami was ‘pouring something in’ in a way that I could tangibly perceive, and so I relaxed and observed Swami’s darshan. When he rounded that top corner, he paused and spoke to students caught on the hop (there were a lot, that space there was nearly full). Turned, spoke to some waiting devotees and promptly sent three different groups of men up to the porch for interview. When Swami arrived on the porch, he called the students with prasad forward. He blessed the prasad and tapped each student on the head. Another takes a photograph.
With letters in hand, Swami moves into the interview room, and emerges to send all the waiting people in. Darshan is over.
Sai Ram to you all from the Abode of Highest Peace.
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