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Sai Baba Sarva Dharma Archway Puttaparthi


"Saturday Morning, Prashanti Nilayam"

Also read: "Bus after Bus arriving" - 10th Jan 08

10th Jan. 2009

The local internet connection has died (well, for me, that is) and so we will write this and post it when the connection is available. It is Saturday Evening as I write.

The ashram was gaily decorated overnight; upon entering the ashram, the Ganesh Temple is festooned with flags, and looking down the avenue beside East Prashanti, I see flags strewn between East Prashanti and the Darshan Hall. The darshan hall bears a festive look, all the poles supporting the ceiling have a reflective decoration, it looks a gold colour but when the sunlight hits the decorations, all colours flash from the decorations. The wrought iron railing atop the darshan hall wall has bunting along with red and green decorations.

Inside the darshan hall, small red and gold flags cover the glass which hangs around the porch. Many of the poles have an additional decoration of red roses which wrap around the pole in a descending wrap; the two pillars each side of the Ganesh idol have a rich deep red decoration. Above the porch where the three gold spires are, there are large green balls decorating that part of the mandir. So a gaily festive look and feel to the darshan hall this morning.

The bhajans were sung at a brisk pace. No students at all in the darshan hall, that space normally occupied by students is bare. Heads turn to Yajur Mandir, yearning for the divine darshan. Bhajans boom out over the loudspeakers as the crowd in the East Prashanti Avenue line up, watching for any sort of action around Swami’s car. Alack, the bell for Arathi rang, and the Lord was not seen. Doubtless, the students were all busy with practice and rehearsal.

I took a rickshaw down to Gokulum to get some photographs while walking back to Prashanti Nilayam. First was the Gokulum itself, I stood in the driveway and zoomed in on the idol up there. When the idol was first delivered, Swami ordered that it was not to be painted. HE painted it himself, over a number of weeks.

Looking down towards the Sathya Sai Gokulum, the dairy

Next was the Music College (the proper name is Sathya Sai Mirpuri College of Music, Prashanti Nilayam) which I have never really seen. The architecture is quite stunning.
Mirpuri College of Music, Prashanti Nilayam

Next was the home of Sathya Gita, and formerly, the home of Sai Gita.
Sathya Gita's Quarters, Prashanti Nilayam

There was a crowd around a gate nearby the home of Sathya Gita; Sathya Gita was in the bath! People were laughing and watching as Sathya Geeta turned a full circle while the hose was going, full burst!

Sathya Gita in the bath, Prashanti Nilayam

Watching Sathya Gita in the Bath, Prashanti Nilayam

The horn of the green Puttaparthi Circle bus blares as it trundles past the Vidya Giri …
APRTC Bus, Prashanti Nilayam

Note the tractor behind the bus; it was full of Seva Dal who were transporting equipment down to Hillview Stadium. One of many tractors with provisioning for the Sports Meet.
Entrance to Hillview Stadium, Prashanti Nilayam

Next was the entrance to Hillview Stadium, which I thoughtfully observed, was closed. (No, I was not about to try and be 007 and get in there with the camera!) I take one photo and move on to the next place of action, the entrance to Chaitanya Jyothi Museum.
Entrance to Chaitanya Jyothi Museum, Prashanti Nilayam

Many Seva Dals were moving around, going in and out, buses arriving and discharging passengers, along with many auto rickshaws, doing a brisk trade running people up to the gate for the new Museum. Coconut stalls over the other side of the road were doing a brisk trade.
Buses and auto rickshaws at the entrance to Chaitanya Jyothi Museum, Prashanti Nilayam

One enterprising auto-rickshaw driver offered me a tour of Puttaparthi for 200 rupees; Super Specialty Hospital, Baba Birthplace, Museum, all these places. He came back to me repeatedly, trying to entice me to take the grand tour. Definitely a born businessman, I thought.

Ayappa devotees walking towards Prashanti Nilayam

And that was the morning.



Back to Current Sai News>>


  Bus after Bus arriving

Prashanti Nilayam was awash with buses today. Bus after bus honked its way down Main Road; the red and silver APRTC buses, tour buses, Ayappa Yatra buses, Big modern DELUXE buses with pictures of Swami stuck on the front window with 1,2,3, next to Swami’s picture, etc. All going into the Ashram. The ashram crowd is building up quickly for the Sports and Cultural Meet tomorrow.

Afternoon Darshan, the Ganesh Gate is awash with humanity pouring in and out; inside, I can hear bhajans going. Kick off my chappals and move to the walkway beside East Prashanti, I can’t see down there for people everywhere. Move down slowly, people are stacked 5,6,7 deep looking into the darshan hall; I glance in, Swami is there on the porch. The hall itself is not that full (in my expert glance) and I move down to enter inside.

Once inside, looking up the hall, the veranda and porch are chockers, the space in front of the garage is full, students sit directly in front of the porch, and the Anantapur Ladies sit on the right hand side of the porch in their customary area. Swami is seated at the front of the porch. Amazingly, I thread my way towards the front and get quite close. “Why do they all stand outside?”, I wonder to myself.

Bhajans go on, I spend a long time just concentrating on Swami and his form. Little boys get up and look around. Sporadically, more devotees arrive. Bhajans are crisp, clear, devotees clapping along. I can see students heads moving in time with the clapping. More bhajans, and I drift back into concentrating on Swami’s form, right at the front of the porch with the lights shining down on Him, making his robe a brilliant orange.

Swami dabs his lips from time to time, and occasionally looks over the men’s side. One man stands up with his hands joined in pranams as Swami looks over, and is ‘encouraged’ to sit down by a Seva Dal! Continue the focus on Swami, the bhajans fade into the background as I simply sit and focus.

Silence, an inner silence comes, and my vision seems to darken at the edges as I keep the focus on Swami.

A long time, focussed on Swami, in silence. I am brought back by the clanging of the Arathi bell. Swami remains on the porch right through Om Jai Jagadeesha Hare, the Narayana verses, the Samasta Loka. Some jaikars start up and Anil Kumar interrupts with a loud OM SRI SAI RAM! An important announcement! Anil Kumar advises us that the Sathya Sai University and associated campuses and colleges invites us all to attend the Sports and Cultural Meet at Hillview Stadium tomorrow, and all please be seated by 8AM! Anil Kumar repeats the message in Telugu (I think) and the crowd get up and leave. Swami moves towards the car, which has reversed back into the veranda.

As I collect my chappals, I spot students running past at the speed of light. Then some ladies come running past; more devotees run out to the Ganesh Gate, and I guess that Swami is on his way to Hillview Stadium. More students run past. A large crowd surges at the Ganesh Gate (I can’t see a thing); I hear the whoop-whoop of the Police siren, and see rose buds fly through the air. Make my way out of the gate to see Seva Dals running holding their ropes. Yes, Swami is on his way down to Hillview Stadium to look over the arrangements.

Shortly after, I return to the ashram, and have to stand out of the way as tractor after tractor laden with packaged food and boxes of fruit (and Seva Dal all over the back) trundle along East Prashanti and out of the ashram. More tractors move up the walkway beside East Prashanti and are loaded with boxes of Anand, Oranges, Apples. Seems Swami is taking care of every need on the morrow.

Walk past the darshan hall, there are Seva Dal in there hanging up huge red balls, I count about six or seven of these red balls hanging from the ceiling. Several more of these red balls are on the ground waiting to be hung up. Many more decorations have been put up, Orange, green and silver streamers hang from the ceiling, the porch has more decorations, green and red steamers are dangling near the porch, and I wonder, is this for the Sports Meet or for Independence Day? (Sankranti, comes the answer on the inner level…)

Further down and around the corner, I pass by devotees who kick off their chappals and pray at the Sita-Ram shrine at the rear of the darshan hall. Families are seated opposite on that small space nearby the Gopuram Gate.

As I look through the dark, I see the lights in Canteen Avenue, it appears like it did on New Year’s Day, queues everywhere, families gathered, Seva Dals going upstairs for their dinner, crowds walking peacefully, long queue of men waiting to go in. Excited children’s voices. Thankfully, no vehicles moving through the crowds. I turn and go down towards the Post Office and see children running around, the lights are on in the Gayathri Temple. Women sit inside and offer puja; a crowd of men out the front praying. I join them for a moment, and children with their hands joined in pranams rush around the temple and run up to the lady handing out sweets. A sweet for each pradakshina! The children are eager. I kick of my chappals and chant the Gayathri mantra as I take the pradakshina route. The lady throws me a sweet as I arrive back at the front to collect my chappals.

The (Devi?) temple adjacent (it has a black idol), there are ladies doing pradakshina, circumambulating that temple. Other ladies are offering Arathi to the idol, and chanting prayers. I walk down towards the North buildings at the far end of the ashram and wonder at how this ashram has been set up to house thousands upon thousands. Walk around the North buildings, see Seva Dals walking around with sticks looking for snakes! They don’t like those snakes!

I arrive back at the Western Canteen via a detour and there are crowds out the front; no queue, so I enter to check the fare, the canteen is chockers with devotees, long queues inside, every table full, so I leave to come back later. Well, not too much later.

A small meal is taken in the happy canteen. Afterwards, I walk up to the pathway behind South 1, the coloured lights are blinking on and off under Ganesha’s umbrella. On past the Workshop, no welding tonight, all the equipment has been taken down to the Hillview Stadium; the workshop’s task is complete. Along the pathway in front of the South Block, there are devotees streaming back from the Supermarket, and I arrive back at the front of the ashram to see more tractors with bundles of food wrapped up, and Seva Dals on the back. It’s gonna be a long night for the Seva Dals at Hillview Stadium, I think to myself.