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Love and Light

Journey to the Divine Light

The much anticipated pilgrimage ‘Sai Jyothi’ became a reality as the U.K devotees queued excitedly in front of N7 in the divine and serene surroundings of Prashanti Nilayam on the glorious morning of 7th October 2012. From the moment we stepped into the portals of our spiritual birthplace, our Divine Mother’s home, it was a home-coming that will remain forever etched in our hearts.

Sunday 7th October 2012

Whilst the first day being a Sunday saw the magnificent Kulwant Hall swell and reverberate with the chants of the vedam by Bhagavan’s children from His institutions, our group was very fortunate to be seated facing the Maha Samadhi to witness the gentle opening of the curtains at 8 a.m. for what was our very first darshan of our Lord.

As bhajans and arathi concluded the morning session and with the sweet form of our Beloved Bhagavan imprinted in our hearts, we dispersed and then later re-assembled at 10:30 am at the Double Decker building for our first official group meeting in Prashanti Nilayam.

Our Chairperson, UKCC, Dr Kiran Patel addressed the pilgrims and reminded each one of us of the good fortune that we had been given by our Lord in allowing us to be part of His Divine Mission, and the opportunity we were fortunate to be bestowed with, to serve our fellow brethren wherever we were and in a manner that would please our Swami.

This was followed by a quick over-view of the programme proposed for the duration of the stay in Prashanti Nilayam. The darshan sessions at Kulwant Hall for the remainder of our stay were very precious times that every pilgrim utilised to pray, chant, sing, introspect and strengthen their Sadhana whilst seated in the Divine presence.

Our first guest speaker Sri Sudhir Bhaskar shared his beautiful experiences with Bhagavan and enthralled us with some of his stories relating to the Grama Seva that Bhagavan initiated in the year 2000 for the students of His institutions.

Monday 8th October 2012

The heavens opened in the early hours of Monday morning which meant that we could not sit inside the Mandir for Omkar and Suprabhatam. Of, course this was in no way a deterrent to our group members and in a short space of time the U.K. office in N7 was reverberating with the sound of Om. Our group was most privileged to have been given permission to sit inside the Mandir for Omkar for our entire stay.

Keeping with the darshan schedules in the Kulwant Hall, Monday morning also saw the start of our first formal practice of the medley of English songs we were hoping and praying we would be permitted to offer as a token of our gratitude and love at Bhagavan’s Lotus Feet.

Nadia Eley, Region 6 Chair, UKCC ably and most humbly played the role of the choir mistress and kept the motivation and spirits up of the pilgrims during all the practices.

Our next guest speaker after dinner was the esteemed Sri Rangarajan, Faculty, SSSIHL, Prashanti Nilayam campus. His heartfelt and inspirational talk transported us to the immediate presence of Bhagavan.

Tuesday 9th October 2012

Today was another wet morning; however, the pilgrims braved the downpour and enjoyed the divine ambience of the Mandir during the Omkar and Suprabhatam. They were also able to participate in the Nagarsankirtan, offering their obeisance to Lord Ganesha at the start and end of the Nagarsankirtan.

Very quickly the skies cleared and a warm sun shone on Kulwant Hall as if waiting with the rest of the devotees gathered there to catch the first glimpse of the Lord.

This morning’s speaker was someone everyone was looking forward to meeting and listening to. He was someone who was blessed to have been born in the same family as our Lord. He was Sri Ratnakar, son of Sri Janakiramaiah, brother to the physical body of our Lord. Sri Ratnakar also serves as a member of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, Prashanti Nilayam. Sri Ratnakar spoke at length on his personal experiences with Bhagavan. There was an opportunity to ask him questions which he patiently answered, and shared more of his personal experiences with Bhagavan.

The evening darshan in Kulwant Hall began at 4 pm sharp to the divine chants of the Rudram. Following a scintillating bhajan session, the Maha-Samadhi darshan began with the Sai Gayatri being chanted devoutly by all those assembled.

Our post dinner session was another magical evening spent listening to faculty members from the SSSIHL, Prashanti Nilayam campus sharing their own journeys to His Divine Lotus Feet.

As the day drew to a close, there was an air of excitement and anticipation amongst the group as the next morning we were embarking on another journey, a journey from the Lord’s Office, Prashanti Nilayam, to the Lord’s Home, Brindavan in the bustling suburb of Bangalore.

Wednesday 10th October 2012

After a quick bite to eat, we departed at 7:30 am for our road trip to Brindavan. A very comfortable coach and an 8 seater transported a very excited group of our U.K. devotees to the sublime Home of Our Lord. The singing enthusiasts grabbed the opportunity to practise the medley of songs.

We arrived at the Gokulam residences situated opposite the SSSIHL, Brindavan around 10 am to a very warm and loving welcome party of Bhagavan’s instruments who had meticulously planned every minute of our stay in Brindavan.

We stepped off the coach, only to be ushered into the canteen for another hearty breakfast and a fine cup of tea! Rooms were quickly allocated and after a quick freshening up, the journey to the Divine Abode began.

Swami’s eye for detail and perfection in whatever He undertook was very evident in the way all the needs of the devotees in our group were being met by His devoted and loving instruments assigned to take care of us. Two cars were at our disposal, and the two brothers to whom the cars belonged, remained with us throughout our stay that day and ferried our elderly and infirmed members to and from the various venues.

The first stop was the Sai Ramesh Hall, the holy ground that held the footsteps of the Lord as He walked amongst His devotees. We were able to sit quietly and enjoy the serenity and peace that permeated through the hall. Sri Sanjay Sahni, Director, SSSIHL, Brindavan campus took us through the history of Brindavan and regaled us with stories of the Lord in His Home. What happened next was a complete surprise to the group and a joyous one at that! We were all taken into the outer precinct of Trayee Brindavan, the Lord’s Residence. The group circumambulated Trayee, absolutely awe-struck and so ecstatic at this once in a life time opportunity.

The Gokulam, nestling behind Trayee, home to Swami’s cows was also visited. The guest house built for Bhagavan’s guests and often visited by the Lord Himself was also seen. All along the way, Sri Sanjay Sahni provided us beautiful insights and stories of Bhagavan which drove home so many invaluable and important messages.

The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Brindavan Campus was our next port of call. This campus was visited many a time by our Lord and many glorious hours were spent with His Students here. The Summer Courses also referred to as the Summer Showers in Brindavan were held here under the direct guidance of Bhagavan.

A video presentation was shown to us on the silent transformation that Bhagavan brings about in His students where by they translate the Lord’s Message of ‘Maanava Seva is Madhava Seva’ into direct action by planning and executing a programme of sustainable developments to improve the lives of the inhabitants of the nearby villages around Whitefield. These were being undertaken by the students during their university holidays, foregoing their visits to their home towns.

Our minds and hearts were filled to the brim by this time or so we thought……… Swami made sure that our stomachs were also filled to the brim with His prasadam which could be likened to a wedding feast by all accounts.

Our next two visits after lunch were to the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Whitefield and the Home for the Aged (Vruddhashram) managed by the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust.

The visit to the Super Speciality Hospital was an awe-inspiring experience both for the first-timer and the seasoned pilgrim. The scale, magnitude and scope of medical treatment offered absolutely free of cost in an atmosphere of love, dedication and service to the most needy was a humbling experience to say the least.

The next visit to the home of the elderly was a very moving and humbling experience as we were welcomed most warmly and lovingly by the residents who also played the perfect hosts by ensuring we were all served hot almond milk and biscuits. We sang a few bhajans in their shrine room which Swami had visited a few years ago. We bade farewell to the delightful residents thinking to ourselves the significance of the reassurance that Swami has given us when He says ‘Why fear when I am here’.

As we drove towards Brindavan for the evening bhajan session, we were in no way prepared for the wonderful treat we were in for! We hurried off the coach to be ushered into the Trayee Brindavan lawns and the next thing we knew was that we were seated in the Divine Abode at His Lotus Feet in the central circular hall of Trayee. The next two hours were spent in prayers, bhajans and listening to three very inspirational speakers from Bhagavan’s institutions. They were Sri Sanjay Sahni, Director, SSSIHL, Brindavan Campus, Sri Ashwin from the SSSIHMS and Sri Ravikumar, Warden and Faculty, SSSIHL, Brindavan Campus. There was not a dry eye in that room that evening.

The evening ended on such a high note that we would have happily gone to bed with not a thought for dinner. Of, course Swami had other plans and another hearty supper was served with ice-cream and fruit salad.

Thursday 11th October 2012

With an opportunity to participate in Omkar, Suprabhatam and Nagarsankirtan in Trayee Brindavan, we departed to Prashanti Nilayam at 7:30 am after a sumptuous breakfast in Gokulam. Bidding farewell with a sense of immense gratitude to our perfect hosts in Brindavan, we drove into the portals of Prashanti Nilayam at 10:30 am.

In the afternoon we had the good fortune of listening to Sri Chakravarthi, formerly Secretary to Prashanti Nilayam and currently Trustee, Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust. In spite of his busy schedule, Sri Chakravarthi spent a couple of hours with the group in an informal dialogue exchanging thoughts and experiences pertaining to Bhagavan, His Message and Mission.

The first of the musical offerings titled ‘Sai Anandam’ was rendered by Sister Roopa Panesar and her fellow artists in the sublime Kulwant Hall.

The night was still young as we assembled in the Double Decker building to practise our medley. Swami, our inner motivator and source of inspiration encouraged us silently to find our hesitant voices and belt out the numbers!

The musicians continued to practise as the rest of us retired for the night. Brother Sonum Gyantso, alumnus of SSSIHL and musician, offered us his whole-hearted encouragement and support for the duration of our practices.

Friday 12th October 2012

Keeping to the darshan schedule, the rest of the morning was spent in intense practice with heartfelt prayers being sent to our Lord to give us the strength and confidence to sing in His Presence. Swami made sure that our strength was kept up by making sure even the Bakery made a special allowance and permitted us to get pizza slices and cakes in spite of it being well beyond their closing times!

As the time approached to be seated in our places in Kulwant Hall for the second musical offering by the U.K. devotees, there was a strange sense of calm and joy amongst us as we waited our turn.

With immense gratitude to Bhagavan the devotees poured their hearts out and the divine magic woven by our world-class musicians Sister Roopa and her fellow artists rendered our humble offering a small place at His Divine Lotus Feet.

The first phase of the pilgrimage drew to a close that evening when we all met in the Double Decker building to recount and express our thoughts and feelings with each other and thank our Beloved Swami for the most blessed and special pilgrimage since the Maha Samadhi. The group unanimously agreed that this should become an annual event for the SSSSOUK!