When C and I landed in Puttaparthi on the 14th of February this year, it was because we decided not to go anywhere post the wedding. A long shot of an outing in summer was our plan B to beat the Parthi heat, to which we gave very little thought.
A wedding in itself was the last thing on my mind, but Swami changed that when He asked me to get married to C. So the news of an upcoming Himalayan trip in May as part of the summer spiritual retreat, few minutes after we landed, came as no surprise to me, though I was filled with delirious anticipation.
Here we were, with no plans to go out, travel, or honeymoon about, yet the very day we call on His abode, He beckons us to giddy-up, travel, experience His grandeur – and it’s not just to any place, but the crest jewel of India’s spiritual heritage – the ever alluring, mystifying, majestic of mountains – the HIMALAYAS.
‘Waoh! Who would have thought?’ was my instant reaction, and C gave our names to the 14 day retreat in the Kumaon division of the holy Himalayas.
I honestly did very little to prepare myself for the trip, except of course the few and far between 5+ kilometre walk in the mornings, but I knew one thing – I had to make best use of the trip.
It was an opportunity of lifetime: to be with people I look upto, the stalwarts who have had hair-rising experiences with my master Sri Sathya Sai Baba, plus with a free pass to listen to them for a fortnight unceasingly. The added icing to the spiritual feast was treading the Himalayan soil, and visiting the holy places that you have only heard or dreamt of.
About 30 of us boarded the Delhi train on the night of April 30th, all set for a two-week spiritual bonanza (and about 20 others were joining us in Delhi later).
A train to Delhi from down South meant – more than a day’s journey. I knew none except C and one of his friends, and as much enticing the pilgrimage part of it seemed, the thought of sitting in the train all day, with a new set of people, had made me sceptical.
In hindsight, that was one of the best journeys I have ever had. We had such fun. That reminds me of what Swami told to our gang through one of my friends, about balancing life. ‘Being devoted, doesn’t necessarily have to be a life devoid of good fun in the ephemeral world’ – it was His message in short.
I got introduced to the ones in my coach – we talked, we played UNO cards, Pictionary, had Satsang, had discussions, watched a couple of FRIENDS video, hogged whatever they gave in Rajdhani, hogged whatever we had all bought, and managed to pass the whole day without sleeping a wink.
And as the train halted in the major stops, we even hauled ourselves down to relax our aching bums. Interestingly, if am not mistaken, in the Secunderabad station, many of us got down, and were admiring the cleanliness and orderliness of the railway station. It was really heartening to see an Indian railway station that well administered. Lots of announcements were going on, and our Rajdhani was mentioned a couple of times. We decided to board when the last call would come in. Funnily, the announcement never came about, and the train started moving and picked up speed. About 12 to 15 of us were outside, and we had no choice but to board a running train. We ran, and managed to get ourselves in, and laughed at the ironical usage of the announcement system.
At that moment, I realised that Mr. God helped me strike off one thing from my bucket list – to board a running bus or train. In any other day, I would have never done such a thing, only God is to say if it was the fascination for the much awaited pilgrimage, or the sheer fun of running and catching with 12 other people made me do it. Who cares why? I did it, and am happy.
Merci beacoup Mr. God!
The master charmer and His chinna katha:
The satsang of our pilgrimage started in the most sublime way possible, wherein Swami communicated to me those exact consequential learning that I had wished out of a pilgrimage (through Brother Sai Giridhar).
Giddy, as he is fondly called, was C’s best man of sorts during our wedding, and he was the only guy I knew apart from C. We had dropped by to his place for lunch, few days before the trip, when his father was kind enough to show me one of Giddy’s talk in Sai Kulwant Hall.
The below YouTube link takes you to the first MahaSamadhi day of our dearest Swami, wherein Brother SaiGiridhar gives a soulful speech. Do listen to it.
Not just a person of calm demeanour, but surely one with both ojas & tejas, from my humble opinion, opined this beautiful satsang with one of Swami’s Chinna Katha:
Once a group of disciples were keen to go on a pilgrimage, and urged their guru to give them permission. The guru knew they had not yet deciphered the efficacy of their want, and in order to give them the clarity that they direly need, caved in to their request. He had said, “There is one condition fellows, you must take this bitter gourd with you, wherever you go.”
The disciples were jubilant as the guru acceded to their request, and they set forth. The bitter gourd travelled with them to all the holy places, when the disciples took a dip in the holy waters, the gourd got its share of immersion, and so the days were spent. When they finally returned to their guru, he asked them to cut and cook the bitter gourd and serve it in lunch for the entire lot.
Post lunch, the guru asked them how the bitter gourd tasted, and “Bitter” was the unanimous reply. That is when the guru imparted a very valuable lesson: “You see boys, pilgrimages are meant to bring within us a transformation, an evolvement, as we suffuse ourselves in the holiest of vibrations. Though the bitter gourd was very much a part of your pilgrimage, the bitterness of it hasn’t changed. If we experience no change, and remain as what we were before, it makes everything void. Wanting to go to holy places has zilch effect, if we don’t realise the sanctity of its purpose.”
I was thrilled when I heard it. That’s how I wanted a pilgrimage to be. ❤
And as we absorb this beautiful message from the guru, let me take you over to those 14 days in my next few posts.
God bless & Sayonara 🙂