Primary school students and girl boarders in white sarees came, filling the hall. Swami sent an elderly Western woman for interview. Daughter went also. When she arrived on the porch she wandered out to the edge and spent nearly ten minutes, she and daughter, waving and gesturing, try to attract husband/father to come to the verandah.
Mind is a bundle of thoughts. Mad monkey mind. Up and down, chant the name of the Lord. Swami is right, nama-rupa is needed, name and form. I was chanting, yet sometimes my mind was elsewhere. Drat, here I am in the mandir, yet the mind, obstinate, will not focus on his form. Needs STRONG control.
To know the taste of a drop of sea water, is to know the taste of the ocean. Thus, we are attracted to the eternal ocean of Sai. At 2.10 pm, the Ocean of Compassion and Love emerges from the back of Poornachandra. I am sitting behind a tall man. Can’t see much, but I can feel the difference; hard to explain that, HIS shakti, energy, waves, radiations, love, can be felt way over the other side of the hall the moment he walks in. I focus on that. Man beside me has his eyes closed, his hands up facing Swami. Tall man in front of me moves back and forth. Tall man lurches sideways. Tall men in front of him. Hopeless, I will wait until Swami is closer. I look at the ceiling, funny that, I become peaceful all of a sudden. Again I feel his energy. Finally Swami crosses over the middle. Students get up.
Swami arrives. Speaks to a man with Nepalese cap. He stands up. Taller than Swami, they stand and have this conversation. I can see Swami’s face and eyes move up as he speaks to the man. They talk. All is still. Timeless moment of silence between them. Everything is still again. Finally, Swami gestures with his letters and moves on. Slowly again, moving, taking letters. Stops and smiles and goes tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, on all these hands up holding packets of vibhuti. Faces the men in the darshan hall, lifts his hand, up, up, up, up, oh I can feel the my chest rising and rising until I can take no more, so much energy! I felt myself almost rising up off the ground.
Crosses over, takes letters. I see his face now. His eyebrows shoot up as he asks, “Oh, how many?” He stops and makes vibhuti for the man asking for interview. Moves on. “Where do you come from?” to a man nearer to me. Takes letters, he is obscured from my sight. Man near me offers letters with small padukas on them. I watch closely, Swami has taken his letters, tapped the little silver padukas (ceremonial sandals). Swami stops directly in front of me. Crown of light around his hair, he looks so strong and vibrant, bursting with love flowing from his heart, with an enchanting youthfulness in his face. 75 going on 76, yet looks youthful. Swami remains directly in front of me for several moments.
Silence. An eternity opens up: just Swami, standing there. Everything else drops away.
Goes up the top of the red carpet. I observe the 6 policemen moving in parallel with Swami. Stops and talks to boys from Puttaparthi High School. Laughter, smiles from the boys. Swami moves on. Up on the porch near the lions now. Five boys come forward with trays. Swami pats every tray, every piece of prasad. Boy asks Swami some questions. Swami puts a hand on his shoulder, all attention. Swami answers. Boy keeps talking, most earnestly, his face very close to Swami’s. Swami steps back and makes vibhuti for him. He takes vibhuti and offers Swami a handkerchief with his other hand. Swami takes and tosses it back at the student.
A very large, and I mean large, group of women in green/blue sarees go in. Swami stands and waits on the porch as I see into the room, they are all milling around, the light is on, trying to fit in. Swami keeps waiting until they have all settled down to their seat on the floor, and then goes in and closes the door. Darshan is over.
Afterwards, dusty cream and red Andhra Pradesh Rural Transport Corp buses arrive and enter the ashram. Ladies inside, Clapping and singing bhajans all the way down Canteen Avenue, happy smiles on their faces.
Evening Bhajans. Allah thuma ho, Easwar thuma ho, thumi ho rama rahim ….. everyone joins in the Tamil bhajan. No flutes tonight, instead I listened to some magnificent Indian music … not all of it is to my liking, but I have to admit, the best of the best come and play, and to sing, here. Bhajans purify. English, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, whatever the language: the soul is lifted up.
After bhajans I join the queue to go into the Mandir for the meditation. A short 15 minute meditation. When most of the verandah has emptied out, we file in, sans cushions. Inside, the air is slightly sticky, semi dark, hear the birds whistle outside. It is as I vaguely remember, large images of Shirdi Sai and Sathya Sai on the shrine. Looking around, I see various idols. Lights out. Doors close. 3 OM’s. Silence. I sense, perceive a deep resonance within me. Incense curls through the air lazily as the chattering mind slows down. Deep resonance becomes perceptible again. I rest, eyes closed. Just rest. Birds clamouring outside, I feel a peace again, a sense of the holy.
After a time, chanting commences:
Asato ma sadgamaya
thamaso ma, jyotir gamaya
mrithyorma, amritam gamaya,
Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.
From the Unreal, lead me to the real,
from darkness, lead me to light,
from death, lead me to immortality
Om, Peace, peace. peace.
Meditation is over. I walk out into an empty darshan hall. Sundown has come, the day is over.
Sai Ram to you all from the abode of highest peace