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Kodai : The Lord's Mountain Top

KodaikanalStudents often say that Prasanthinilayam is Swami's Office, Brindavan is His home, and Kodaikanal (Kodai) is His playground. In a manner of speaking this is so, particularly where Kodaikanal is concerned, for it is here that one gets a glimpse of the Sai of the forties, especially where Divine Leelas are concerned. It all lasts only for a short time but what extra-ordinary weeks they are for those blessed to enjoy Divine proximity then!

Kodaikanal is a hill station in South India. Located at an altitude of about 2500 metres, it is roughly three hundred and fifty kilometres to the south-west of Madras[Chennai], and close to the ancient temple cities of Madurai and Palani.

SAI SHRUTI - His AbodeTypically, the Kodai trip starts soon after the Institute closes for the summer. As soon as the party reaches Kodai, everyone is given a kit with all toilet necessities -paste, brush, shaving cream, the whole works. Apart from this, a warm sweater. Everything is taken care of: food and bed. Arrangements are also made for laundry service. Every other day, there would be a distribution of gifts - watches, cameras, films, T-shirts, after-shave lotions, pens, torches, calculators, just about anything one can imagine! One sunny morning, Swami would suddenly send all the boys [despite their protests] for a stroll along the Lake Shore, to enjoy a boat ride, and to do some shopping; naturally, a generous pocket allowance would also be most thoughtfully provided! Elders in Swami's party are not exempt. And so on it goes, day after day, till the dream suddenly ends! People may think that the Kodai trip is a picnic. But for God, it is a training session, with every incident packed with lessons. Here are glimpses of some of those lessons.

With His StudentsRama Navami is the festival that marks the advent of the Lord as Rama. Many years, the festival occurs when Swami is in Kodai. On such occasions, the festival becomes a truly memorable day for the boys. On one such Rama Navami day, Swami materialised the pearl necklace that Sita gifted to Hanuman at the time of Rama's Coronation. Rama was distributing various gifts to members in the assembly but somehow, He seemed to skip Hanuman. Sita was troubled by this apparent indifference; how could such a loyal one like Hanuman be overlooked on an occasion like this? So, she whispered to Rama that Hanuman should not be forgotten. Rama whispered back that Hanuman was way above material gifts. Sita was not quite satisfied by this reply; so she took out a pearl necklace that she was wearing and offered it to Hanuman. While receiving the necklace, Hanuman gave it a suspicious look. He then placed the necklace near one of his ears as if to check whether the individual pearls were emitting some sound. He appeared to examine every pearl in the necklace, and once in a while, he would bite a pearl. The Pearl NecklaceSita was shocked by this behaviour. Was Hanuman proving that, after all, he was a monkey? She demanded an explanation from Hanuman for what he was doing. With great humility Hanuman replied, "Mother, for me the Name of Rama is supreme. An object is worthless if it does not resound with the Name of Rama. Some of these pearls are not emitting the proper sound and so I am chewing them up." Sita was neither convinced nor amused and tersely remarked, "Pearls do not emit sound." Hanuman replied, "Everything that is saturated with the Rama Principle will always chant the Name of Rama. Let me demonstrate." So saying, Hanuman plucked a hair from his body and offered it to Rama. When Sita took it near her ear, she could clearly hear the chant of Rama's Name! This was the way Hanuman proved to the world how intense true devotion really is.

After narrating the story and materialising the necklace, Swami passed it around and asked the boys to carefully examine it. Sure enough many pearls had teeth marks! After everyone present there had had a look, Swami made the necklace disappear!

With the PolicemenSwami does not need security - after all, He is the One who protects the whole world. Yet, as a matter of courtesy and protocol, He is provided security by the Government of the State He is in. So it is in Kodai also. One year, the Police Officers in charge of Swami's security in Kodai requested Bhagavan Baba to visit a particular spot as it was very beautiful. They said that there was a nice lookout there, and Swami and His boys could have a good picnic. To please the police, Swami agreed to the outing. A bus was arranged and on a day when the weather was good, the party headed for the lookout. The road was bad and the bus not exactly in the best of condition. So the ride to the picnic spot was quite rough and bumpy. When after a long and tiring journey the spot was reached, it was anything but spectacular. The boys were visibly disappointed but before they could give expression to their feelings, Swami began lavishly praising the view. He complimented the Police officers for their idea of this outing, expressed appreciation about the arrangements made etc. Promptly, the boys got the cue and they pitched in with their own expression of thanks and gratitude. On return to the residence, Swami gave the finishing touch by distributing gifts to the Officers. Later, He privately told the boys, "These people Love Swami very much. May be they did not choose the right spot for the visit but Swami is not concerned with such details. He only looks at the Love. If you take a worldly view, you will see mistakes, but if you have a sacred view, then you will see only the Love part - the rest would get eclipsed." One more lesson!

Before the Narayan SevaNarayana Seva is a regular feature of every Sai visit to Kodai. One such Seva was organised on 6th May, 1999, to coincide with Easwaramma Day. On that day, hundreds of poor people trekked to Sai Sruthi to receive the blessings of the Lord in the shape of His Divine darshan, food, and blankets. At the end of the service, everyone was very happy but somehow, Swami alone seemed lost and pensive. Suddenly He called for His car, softly whispered some instruction to aides, and took off, no one knew to where. A couple of hours later He returned, His face now beaming with joy. Students gathered around Swami, curiosity writ large on their faces. Swami noticed it, smiled, and said, "You all want to know where Swami suddenly disappeared? I shall tell you. This morning while people were receiving food and blankets, My mind was all the time on people too old and sick to come here. They needed food, clothes, and blankets, even more than those who came here. So I arranged for a jeep to be loaded with all these things, and went out looking for such people. Sure enough they were there in remote places, sick, shivering, and starving. I located many such people, and distributed blankets, etc. They were so happy and seeing them happy, I too am filled with joy". Yes, the Lord is truly our shepherd; why should we want?

Loving LordOnce in Kodai, the boys and the guests had sat down for lunch. There was no dining table, and in true South Indian style, everyone was seated on the floor. Baba was moving around, making kind enquiries as usual, and supervising the serving. Brahmaarpanam had not yet been chanted, and people had not started eating. As Swami was gliding along, a small boy leaned across and wiped the ground in front of him with his hands. Swami came to that boy and asked, "Boy, what did you do just now?" The boy replied, "Swami, there was some dust on the floor, and I wiped it with my hands so that the place would be clean when you walked." Swami smiled and said, "Good boy! While doing this service for Swami, your hands have become dirty. Go and wash your hands before you eat."

Bhagavan did not stop there. Temporarily setting aside His "luncheon darshan", [if one might call it that!], He personally took the boy with Him to a spot where there was a bucket containing water, and assisted the boy in washing His hands. That is how loving the Lord is!

The Return JourneyOnce, Swami was returning from Kodaikanal to Bangalore. Up there in the mountains it is always cool but down in the plains the heat is scorching at midday, especially in the month of May, when Swami was returning. In many places along the route, devotees had gathered in groups to have a glimpse of Swami's car as it whizzed by. Seeing a particularly large group in one spot, Swami asked the driver to stop the car, and prepared to get down to give darshan. It was so hot that the asphalt on the road was literally bubbling in many spots. A devotee in Baba's party hurriedly produced a pair of sandals. Bhagavan waved the slippers aside and said, "If these people can wait for Me in the hot Sun for hours, can I not walk for a few minutes without bothering about the heat?"

In His PlaygroundSwami softly glided to the place where the devotees were gathered, ignoring also the carpet laid out for Him to walk on. Behind Him walked a couple of senior devotees, barefoot of course. They were obviously finding the road unbearably hot, for they were almost dancing as they went behind Baba. On reaching the spot where the devotees were gathered, He went through the full routine - He took letters, talked to a few, materialised Vibhuti for some, sat on the chair provided for a couple of minutes, and then received Aarathi. After that, He gently glided back to His car, with the devotees escorting once more doing their dance! As Swami was about to board the car, one of those who walked behind Him said, "Swami, why did You not walk on the carpet? The road was so hot." Swami asked, "Was the road very hot?" "Yes Swami, so hot that we could not walk; in fact I have got blisters as result." So saying, the devotee showed the blisters. Swami just smiled and replied, "Poor thing! You found the road hot because you were immersed in body-consciousness. I did not feel the heat because I was in Bliss seeing the devotion of these people. I did not get any blisters. See?" He raised His foot for the devotee to see, and there were no blisters!

The stories are endless and so are lessons taught. All of them are only expressions of His limitless Love for students in particular and humanity in general. On the whole, Kodai will always be an 'elevating' experience for one and all!


Volume 01: PDS / 05 Date : NOV 01 2003