Volume 8 - Issue 07
JULY 2010
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Day Twelve

Puttaparthi is where the Lord was born and where He continues to stay for almost the entire year conferring love, support and solace to devotees day in and day out who throng in thousands to this sacred town. However, when summer arrives on most occasions, the Lord generally decides to move to His ashram in Bangalore or often to ‘Sai Shruti’ in Kodai Kanal so that the devotees are saved from the dry and zapping heat of Puttaparthi. For the devotees who now collect in Brindavan or in Kodai Kanal it is the coming of the special ‘Sai Season’ which brings with it so many beautiful blessings.

The Kodai sojourn especially is very unique and fascinating, and it is for this reason that Kodai Kanal is often described as the Lord’s playground. Though Swami has skipped visiting this holy hill station on a few summers, He did visit there in 2009.

So what was the story in 2009? How did it unfold? Now we bring you the account of the Final day of this sublime divine odyssey.

Earlier Episodes of this Series

Day Twelve was the final day of Kodai 2009 and before we get on to the description of Swami’s return to Puttaparthi, here is what happened the night before.

Usually, the last evening turns out to be rather light and Swami too retires early to enable the boys and the teachers to not only do their packing but also help in winding up many things in Sai Shruti.

Generally there is a lot of work to be done, and naturally all this goes on far into the night; that is the reason why the program of the evening preceding the departure is usually kept light. But in 2009 it was quite different. First there was the evening visit, and that slightly delayed the bhajan session.

Next, during the bhajan session there was a talk that further delayed matters. And most unusually, after the bhajans, Swami spent some time with the boys.

Not merely that, He also decided to have dinner with them which was most unusual, and that of course took its own time with the result that when the packers finally got to work, it was much later than usual.

The departure drill also was quite different from that of earlier years. Usually, there would be an early breakfast, quite light naturally, unlike the heavy menu laid out on the other days. After that, the command would go out for the sevadals to load the luggage into separate vans.

That done, everyone was supposed to get into the vehicle assigned and when the signal is given, the vehicles move out. For many years, it was Swami who would be the last to leave, after taking aarathi of course, while the others would be already on the way.

His car surely would go through town rather slowly, at least part of the way, and it is only some kilometres down the road that His vehicle would catch up with the boys, overtake them and then speed ahead, as the taxi crowd would try to follow Swami, pushing behind the convoy carrying the guests.

There would, of course, be a couple of people left behind to wind up everything, settle the residual bills and travel with the cars taken from Puttaparthi for Swami’s use in Kodai.


In 2009 however this drill was entirely different because Swami was going from Kodai to Madurai by helicopter. As a result, there were really three parties. The first group to leave consisted of just three, they being Mrs. Ratan Lal, Prof. Venkataraman and Dr. Dash, who, if you remember, came along with Swami from Puttaparthi to Madurai by the special plane. Return was to be the same way, and so these three were asked to go ahead and wait for Swami in Madurai airport.

When they arrived they came by helicopter which did a special second trip for them from Madurai to Kodai. This time, it was decided that since the helicopter was not available for two trips they would go ahead; thus this trio left rather early at 4.45 a.m. Let us get this part of the story from Prof. Venkataraman. This is what he recalls,

Prof. Venkataraman Narrates about their Depature from Kodai

“Sometime around 8 p.m. or so on the night of May 3, I received a message that three of us, that is to say, Mrs. Ratan Lal, Dr. Dash and myself would have to leave early for Madurai airport, that is, at 4.45 a.m. Frankly, I thought it was a bit too early. I said to myself, ‘Come on, it takes about 3 hours to reach Madurai airport from here, and Swami is supposed to take off from Madurai airport at around 10 a.m. So why not leave around say 6 a.m.?

Dr. P. K. Dash (left), the physician of the group,
and Prof. Venkataraman

That would make getting ready a lot easier.’ But we were told that early morning there would see a lot of lorry traffic coming up the hills and besides, there were about four thousand weekenders who were in Kodai and they would all try to leave early in the morning so as to reach Madurai in time to go to office.

I should mention here that our departure day was a Monday – and hence this particular apprehension. So all three of us, despite our grumbling, did get up very early and got ready. They managed to get the car ready too and thus when Kodai was still asleep, there were the three of us racing downhill! Needless to say the fears about traffic jams did not come true and we were at the airport just as the clock was showing 8 a.m.

“Some might wonder: ‘When Swami came, you three got a helicopter ride. Why not this time?’ There was a simple answer to that. Firstly, if we had not come by helicopter when we arrived in Kodai, it would have been a long ride up the mountain and we would have reached Kodai rather late, causing particular inconvenience to Mrs. Ratan Lal, who, believe it or not, is approaching ninety!

More importantly, it was feared that on the day of our arrival there was likely to be some trouble which could cause traffic disruption, and that was the main reason why the helicopter was made to do a second trip. I believe all that was explained in an earlier episode.

Mrs. Ratanlal has been serving Swami for more than half of century

“Anyway, to get on with the present narration, this time no trouble was anticipated, and thus it was we went downhill by road, as I explained earlier. At the airport, Mr. Ramani, the State President of Sai Organisations, Tamil Nadu, was there to receive us. It was amazing how much he was pushing himself. I had seen him the previous evening in Kodai and here he was at 8 a.m. in the airport to receive us. Actually, he had arrived much earlier and tied up many things.

By that I mean he not only had to make all the arrangements for Swami to land there by helicopter but also take off in a small plane to Puttaparthi. His work did not end there because later in the day, the student party would arrive by bus after seeing Swami off in Sai Sruthi.

That party, led by Warden Mr. Narasimha Murthy, had a bit of sight-seeing lined up, which included a visit to the Meenakshi Temple of course, after which they were to show up in the airport to board a regular flight from Madurai to Bangalore.

What I am trying to say is that poor Mr. Ramani had to take care of so many things that he was really pushing himself far beyond most people would dare or care to do, and I am sure that it was Swami who was giving him all the physical strength and stamina he needed.

“While all these thoughts were racing through my mind, Mr. Ramani gently steered us to a small room, where hot breakfast was waiting for us and that was really welcome! Being cautious as always while travelling, I greeted the breakfast but handled it with care, meaning I just nibbled to the extent barely necessary! It was nice to see however, Dr. Dash, much younger than me of course, doing justice to the fare laid out, as indeed was expected of him.

“We quickly downed the breakfast, following it up with coffee, tea, etc., according to our individual preferences, and settled down to wait for Swami’s arrival. At this stage, Mr. Ramani guided us to the VIP lounge where the sofas were so soft that one literally sank into them. This experience was new to me, and I promptly decided to make the best of the opportunity available and grabbed a newspaper lying nearby to find what had happened in the wide world outside while we all were happily resting in Kodai.

Mr. Ramani in Kodai Kanal - always eager to serve the Lord

As was to be expected, nothing much had happened in the world, and the same confusion prevailed. That was when someone whispered, “Hey, an aircraft is coming, and that is the one by which Swami and all of you would be travelling. Want to take a look? If so, just step outside.” I did go out and saw a small aircraft landing. It looked much smaller than the one by which we came to Madurai, and somehow, I could not believe this was our aircraft.

“Shortly after that, Mrs. Ratan Lal gave us the tip off; she pointed to some overseas ladies, one of whom I had seen in Kodai sitting in a chair for darshan every day and said, “That is Helen over there. She is from Greece but she runs a big hotel business in London. She is a long-time devotee and she chartered a plane to come from London along with a few other ladies to spend time in Kodai.” I have seen this Greek lady several times earlier, in Trayee as well as in Prasanthi.

When I saw her in Kodai, many years had passed and hence I could not place her but now, it all fitted together. However, I could not believe that the plane I saw on the tarmac was the one that would take this group of ladies back to London. Meanwhile, Mrs. Ratan Lal who had a brief chat with Helen came back to me and said excitedly, “You know what? These ladies are coming to Puttaparthi on that plane. Their plane would take off a little after ours leaves.” That solved the doubts I had about the capacity of the plane to travel such long distances but then the news that there would be another plane coming behind was indeed surprising. I assumed that they would have had it cleared by the Puttaparthi airport authorities and all that.

“Just then Mr. Ramani came and said to all of us that we had better go through security, since Swami would soon take off from Kodai. There was a bit of a hassle in clearing security because a passenger manifesto was demanded by the security staff, and the person who was steering us had only one copy, which he said was to be given to the pilot. Thus, due to a bureaucratic mix-up somewhere, there was only one copy of a document that both the airport security and the officer belonging to the company whose aircraft we were flying by claimed.

This is the plane that brought Swami to Puttaparthi

Eventually someone came from somewhere and sorted out the muddle, and we were on the other side of the security barrier. Just then Mr. Ramani got a call on his cell phone and after speaking for a while he said to me, ‘Swami is giving darshan, and the boys are singing bhajans. Today being Monday, Rahu Kalam would be operative till 9 a.m., and after that He would take arathi and leave for the helipad.

As soon as Swami leaves Sai Sruthi, all of you would be conducted to your plane which is standing over there  (and he pointed to the aircraft we were to travel by’. This plane sure looked much bigger than the tiny one we saw land earlier. However, this aircraft was rather like the one by which Swami went to Delhi in March 1999; I know because He took me with him on that trip. Incidentally, Mrs. Ratan Lal was on that flight too, but that is a different story.

“Shortly after all this happened, Mr. Ramani gave us a sign to say that we had better get on board, and led us to our aircraft. So we got in and began the wait. After we got in, they placed a special ramp near the aircraft door, to facilitate Swami’s entry. I should mention here that the idea was that when Swami’s helicopter landed, there would be a small ramp, using which He would get onto a chair with wheels. This chair would then be pushed all the way to our aircraft, where again the ramp would be used to enable Swami to get on board.

“All three of us who were inside the aircraft stayed glued to the window to catch the helicopter as it came into view. And sure enough soon a moving dot appeared on the horizon which rapidly approached us, exactly along the same route we had taken while flying out. Meanwhile a sizeable crowd had gathered on the tarmac, and had positioned itself suitably to go near the helicopter as soon as it had touched ground and rotors stopped spinning.

And the moment that happened, the crowd clustered round the ramp, and there was not much we could watch. But one thing I could see was that the ‘London ladies group’ if I could call them that, were there right near where Swami was and they sure had a ringside view! Later, Mr. Srinivasan told me that Swami was so happy with the ride, that after getting out of the helicopter He materialised a ring for the copter pilot! Wow! I guess Madurai must be the only airport in the world where a ring has been materialised!

“Well, Swami was soon in our aircraft, and this time since the aircraft was a bit smaller, the seat in front of Him was left vacant unlike what happened on the journey forward. This allowed Swami not only to stretch His legs and feel comfortable, but equally important, He was spared small talk from the person sitting opposite, which, by the way was myself during the forward journey – and I managed that small talk thanks largely to the GPS and map system available in that aircraft. This one, being of a slightly earlier vintage did not have that.

“Anyway, to get on with the story, we took off close to 10 a.m., and soon in Puttaparthi. While Swami went back to the Mandir driving away in the spare chair car they have in Prasanthi, we three took another vehicle that was waiting for us and reached the Mandir via the so-called back entrance and were in fact in the ashram before Swami had arrived.

The Lord lands in Sri Sathya Sai Airport and is driven to Sai Kulwant Hall
where there are thousands awaiting His darshan

“And so, I had logged one more Kodai trip, similar in many respects to some of the earlier ones I had been lucky to be in on, but different in many other ways. The most important of these differences is that at 9 a.m., Swami was in Sai Sruthi in Kodai, but by 11 a.m. He was in Puttaparthi airport. That was a sea change compared to the long drives He made in earlier years, driving often from Ooty to Kodai, a trip that took sometimes as much as ten hours.

“I think I have said all that is to be said, and maybe I should at this point hand you over back to our main narrator.”  

So that was the story of Swami returning to Puttaparthi. Just to keep the record straight, let us hear from the Warden his side of the story of how the curtain came down on the Kodai trip of 2009. Mr. Narasimha Murthy recalls,

Listen to the Narration of Mr. B. N. Murthy

“On the morning of May 4 Swami went to the helipad, and the boys followed too and left in a mini-bus to Madurai. There, we visited a temple and stayed in a unique and big campus of one of the devotees, which had 1,100 rooms for students! It had a replica of a ship made of concrete, a huge engine, and also a simulation of being on a sea. We saw all that and then in the evening we flew back to Bangalore and reached Prashanti Nilayam around 3 a.m.


Swami was so kind that after coming from the coolness of Kodai to the heights of Puttaparthi, it was still so pleasant as there was some rain! Swami had reached at 11 o’ clock and we returned after more than 12 hours! So that’s how the wonderful trip ended.”

We cannot end this story without drawing at least a few lessons from what the Kodai trip really means, that is to say, what the hackneyed phrase ‘Living with God is True Education’ really conveys.


Innumerable are the lessons that have been taught by Bhagavan, and by His Grace, we have managed to capture on tape a few of them. Clearly, we cannot bring all of them to you, at least in the present moment. At the same time, we cannot let you go without a taste of at least some of them. Thus, we shall offer first some reflections from Mr. Narasimha Murthy. If anyone is qualified to talk on this subject then it is only he and there are few better. This account shows us how behind the outings that Swami sometimes takes along with His students, there is another deeper motive. Mr. Narasimha Murthy says,

Listen to the Narration of Mr. B. N. Murthy

“I remember one occasion which was very unique. This was 3-4 years ago, when Swami had asked one of the teachers, Mr. Ruchir Desai, to purchase about 100 shawls. Like any good businessman, Ruchir wanted to purchase the best for the least price. And he came across these Tibetan people and felt that their rates were very high. Then he used his business acumen and found out that there was a factory nearby from where these people actually bought. There the rates were at least 30 to 40 rupees less. So he decided to purchase it from there.

“That evening, Swami asked him: ‘From where are you getting the shawls?’ He said: ‘Swami, I am procuring it from this factory because there they are 30 to 40 rupees less.’ Swami said: ‘No! You must purchase it from the Tibetans at whatever rate they ask!’ That’s Swami’s Compassion!


“Once, Swami went for a ride, and He saw a young boy selling straw hats near the boat club. He also noticed that there were no customers for him. He came back and gave money to each of the boys and told them: ‘Go to that place; there is a boy there selling straw hats, purchase from him. And don’t bargain!’ Again, that’s His Compassion.

“One of the boys asked, ‘Swami, what is the use of straw hats in Kodaikanal?’ Swami said: ‘Yes, boys don’t need straw hats, but that boy needs money. Nobody is buying them.’ So, all the boys went and they saw that this boy was going away because nobody was buying from him.

So our boys went and surrounded him! They asked: ‘How much is the hat for?’ The boy said: ‘Sir, it is 10 rupees, but for your sake, I will reduce it…’ They said: ‘No, no! Don’t reduce it! We will purchase at that price!’ The boy was so happy! Looking at the joy on his face, our students wished that Swami should have been there! And Swami came there! He came by car and lowered the window, and just then it started drizzling and Swami told the boys: ‘Straw hats are good for the rain!’

“Another time, He saw a man selling cotton candy. He was all alone there and Swami went and purchased all of them, filled up His car and on the way back, He told the devotee who was sitting with Him in the car: ‘This young man has sick parents, and only if he sells these will he make enough money to buy medicine and serve his parents. I want to send him early that is why I purchased everything; now he will be able to go and purchase those medicines.’ So there are many such instances that show Swami’s Compassion.”

It is time to wind this up and there is no better way of doing this than bringing to you another wonderful anecdote. This is an account from Mr. Indreshwar, a former student, better known perhaps as the grandson of the Rajamata of Nawanagar, who has played such an important and crucial role in the mission of the Sathya Sai Avatar. He says,

Listen to Indreshwar

“Once some of the boys said: ‘Oh Swami! We are so happy! We know that it must be because of our purva janma sanskarams - the merits of our previous lives and our ancestors that finally we are in the Divine Presence.’

“Swami was mischievously listening to all of that and as one of them said this the elderly people joined them, and now everybody said, ‘Swami, we have done nothing in this life to deserve You!’


“Then, Swami said: ‘Do you know those sages sitting in the Himalayas? Some of them have been meditating for over a thousand years! And when I appear to them, it is for a brief spell - sometimes less than two minutes! What have you or your family or your lineage done to get – forget two minutes – but most of you easily manage hours with Swami everyday! And for days after days!’

“Now we were shocked! We were sure that there was nothing any one of us had done! Then Swami said, ‘It is your good luck that you were born at the time the Avatar decided to come down! It is further your goodness definitely, that attracted you towards My Godliness.

But that in itself was just an infinitesimally small contribution. It is purely My Grace alone that each one of you souls has come to Me! Not one of you in front of Me deserve even one second of being with Swami! Not a single one of you! What I am conferring upon you is a billion times more than any of you deserve!’ Then of course, He looked a little sad and said, ‘Not one of you is making even one billionth the best of it!’”

Isn’t this amazing? Yes, there are no limits to the Grace of the Lord, but most unfortunately, few of us are really sensitised to how much He gives us, including of Himself.

In reality, the Kodai trip is no picnic, nor is it for boat rides and for showering gifts. When God comes down in human form, He serves selflessly, He teaches, and He does many things like talking to us, giving us guidance, solving our problems, etc. Above all, He showers His Grace and does it so silently that more often than not we are not even aware of it!

All we can do is pray that He would help us to get out of illusion we tend to be wrapped up in, become aware of the Infinity that hides in His small but incredibly beautiful form, and resonating with that Atmic aspect, become one with Him in spreading Love and enveloping all those in distress with compassion.

He wipes so many tears of so many suffering souls and brings cheer to so many distressed people every day. Let us pray that we are blessed so that we can do it for at least one person every day.

With that thought and prayer, we bring to a close this special series ‘Kodai Festival 2009’. Sairam.

- Heart2Heart Team

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