Re-visiting Anantapur – Part II

Coming from a Sai background, it’s only normal if Swami’s characteristics gets rubbed off on me, right? So yes, my delays are not my denials 😛 [Joking aside, 2011 was a difficult year for me. I couldn’t get around to writing part II of my visit, because I missed Him. It made it that much difficult. But all of us come a full circle, don’t we? So here is the continuation:]

One and a half years ago, 5 of us from the 2007 batch of Anantapur campus had a soul gratifying experience at our alma mater. I reverentially attempted to relive it back then, but part II of that joyous day stayed in my drafts for long. Today, I wish to finish the piece – nail it, plaster it, polish it, with a hope to appease your platter. [If you have come directly, you might want to know how it started. Do read part 1 of my post, to enjoy it in full.]

***

The plastering begins:

The 5 of us felt on top of the world, as we met with our teachers – Niranjan Ma’am, Raji Ma’am, Radha Ma’am and Suma Ma’am, and the current students. We felt the lovely bond that the place was (is) always known for.

After an intro catch-up, we couldn’t resist, but bring in the choco truffle. We made our darling teachers cut ’em, as the building roared with thunderous applause… for no reason except the sheer ecstasy of togetherness and gratitude. More smiles and laughter followed as we talked in the next few minutes.

Even as the cakes were being distributed, Raji Ma’am stole a short walk at our direction, and said, “You know children, you shouldn’t have written ‘love always – your girls’, it should have said ‘love always – your children’.”

“Aaaww! Sorry ma’am. We would make sure the next cake has the right wordings.” We mentally whispered to ourselves, and gave her a sheepish smile.

Just as we were melting in the warmth of the entree, we knew a lot more of seasoning and love awaited us in the main course and dessert. After all, it’s Anantapur that we are talking about!

in anantapur

We were asked to head back to the hostel for a special lunch, and we shared smiles and giggles like 17 year olds all over again, as we marched back to the hostel reliving our memories, lessons and experiences.

We so happily donned the teenager role, as the teachers walked with us, calling us ‘kiddos’ even now. Even the 10 minute walk felt C.O.M.P.L.E.T.E and A.W.E.S.O.M.E., as we spoke to them about anything/everything under the sun. It was just like the good ‘ol days.

Even as we were contemplating about dining hall and eating with the current students, a surprise was in store. The teachers had laid out a table for ‘us’ in the teacher’s dining room. All of us stole quick glances from each other, and grinned without end. Seriously, how sweet! It was literally a home coming. We marched to the counter to get ourselves served, but our dearest teachers didn’t allow that either. “Hey kiddos. Go grab your seat, we will serve you at the table.”

That was it. By that point, we felt swamped, engulfed, flabbergasted, amazed, bowled over completely, as if we never felt any such emotion ever before. But when you know that these are professors of such proficiency; whose dedication and selflessness is beyond description, you cannot escape these emotions. Their love for students new and old is just the same. Time, distance, number of years doesn’t matter to’em at all.

Each of them served us so lovingly, and only then did they sit to eat their lunch.

***

We had our hearts and tummies filled, marched back to commerce building, and had a Q&A session with the current students. Questions were asked on all and sundry, and a lot of wonderful experiences were shared.

Suma ma’am came to our rescue once when we needed explanation on a high funda philosophy. Who else, but the ‘God class’ guru would know the answer, right?

The evening soon came to an end. Before leaving the portals, we wanted to give those magical coffee mugs as a memory. Each of the 4 mugs had a beautiful picture of Swami, and as we poured hot water in ’em, the teachers were in for a surprise as they spotted Swami underneath the glass.

Their expressions were priceless, not only because of the pictures that appeared, but also each of them had a background story to each of those pictures. We didn’t decide who would get what picture, so we realised Swami’s prowess in permutation and combination. Surely, even seemingly insignificant things has a lesson of love in store. All of the teachers and the alumna were thrilled, as the stories came to light.

I don’t want to go into details for most part, as certain things are better felt at heart. But I would say this, that evening experience that 8 of us had in the staff room will always be special. His omniscience and love was the important take away.

The whole episode was such that we didn’t know if they loved us more, or if we loved them more, but one would agree it was Bhagwan’s love for all of us – teachers and students alike – that He ensured we had a terrific day.

***

Filled with soul stirring moments, experiences, laughter, nostalgia, gratitude, love, and all things wonderful, we journeyed to Parti…

My words to PM enroute,“Oh my god! We are unable to stop smiling. Can you be so overwhelmed by bliss? I mean, you are so happy that you don’t know what to do with the happiness. You feel His love from the bottom of your soul, or whatever inaccessible corner that lies within us. It’s like you are suffused with bliss from within and without – far and beyond – there is no beginning or end – it’s continuous– overflowing – and you are caught in the middle – and all you want to do is keep smiling. You feel so helplessly happy.”

“Man! I have never been so soulfully happy. Years might come by, but I know we will still cherish this moment of awareness, as we are engulfed by divinity. Wow! Is this what love feels like?”

With that, I bid my adieu.

PS. Looking for more euphoric Sai posts? Then, you might wanna read this – Happiest moments of my life 🙂 Tata.

Re-visiting Anantapur: a day of euphoria and nostalgia!

August is a beautiful month in itself. There is no rush of resolutions, or tense of romance, no loitering in the corridors for studies, or madness of vacation, no sweltering heat, or ten tons of book loads. It is that part of the year where you kind of settle down, the weather too eases you up a bit by not playing a phantom of fury. The subtlety of nature brings out the artistic facet of even the most objective mind, and it is now that everyone thinks of home and all the love that comes associated with it.

We are no different, and so we reserved the best of romances for August. The five of us – Supriya, Preethi, Prateeksha, Deepa and I, 2007 alumna of SSSIHL, Anantapur Campus – took note of the long weekend that was to come at the end of first fortnight, and immediately blocked our calendars.

Yes, we were heading home after what seemed like eons, but mere four and three-quarters to our objective self. We were ballistic with excitement.

p 4

The lotus pond 🙂

***

This trip to our university campus at Anantapur was long pending, and almost a dozen of us from the Commerce ’07 batch wanted to make it. Chain mails and phone calls spurred from all corners – when to go, what to do, what to get, how to come, when to book – and ‘believe you me’ the trip was about to be called off even one day prior to the evening. It was all mayhem.

A pandemonium of sorts, as I cancelled almost 5 different tickets at 5 different times, yet the 5 of us never gave in. We somehow were bent upon opening the portal gates once again, and that we did. Courtesy: Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba ❤

The only Chennai girl that I was in the gang, speeded up to Bangalore on Friday afternoon. Supriya and Murali – the bestest hostess/host ever for me in all my trips had ordered a set of yummiest pizzas for the night, and the 6 of us hogged them to our hearts content. 😀

The best place to be at and the best people to be with, what more could I ask for before my trip to Anantapur, and Puttaparthi – the land of my master.To tell that I was ecstatic would be undermining it.

***

We had ordered a 5 KG Choco truffle for the commerce dept. faculty and students, and magical coffee mugs for our teachers.

Yay! We were all set, and the Kali age chariot “Tata Manza” galloped towards the portal gates. After almost half an hour into the road, a mellow voice squeaked –

“Did we get the coffee mugs?”

After an earth shattering silence, all of us had the ‘don’t tell me we didn’t get the coffee mugs’ look.

“Should we turn around?”

“Swami told me that we would be forgetting something.” Supriya butted in.

“Why didn’t you tell us?”

“I thought His message was meant for me, and so I checked the ones I need to take.”

Though that was an experience uncalled for *rolls eyes*, we were kind of ecstatic seeing how Swami was pampering one of our girls, and the gang in the process. The traffic signals that we whisked past early in the morning had now taken the reins, and we slow marched towards Indira Nagar.

***

We were back to the highways in the next half-hour, and by 10.30 we knew we were near OUR CAMPUS. As the car gathered speed, we had a glimpse of the tower, the lion mountain, and the lotus on top of the University building.

atp

All our hearts fluttered to the highest of heavens knowing that we finally were back to a place where we always belong. The Tata Manza came to a halt infront of the campus guest house, where we left Murali to enjoy some divine solitude.

“My! Merci beaucoup” was our first reaction when we saw the guest house interiors, because not only did it look lovely, but had mesmerizing and vibrant pictures of Bhagwan and Krishna. Yes, we were completely bowled over.

We were then off to the library to see Pushpa Ma’am, followed by Dwaraka Rani Ma’am at Principals Office. I am sure the look on our faces would have told them how excited we were to be back, and their smiles as always made us feel at home.

As much as we scurried our way towards the commerce building, we took in everything – the sights, the smell, and the sound.

***

A surge of thoughts enveloped us, as we walked again in the campus gates:

  • Krishna in front of the bank. Xerox room. Green house.
  • Buddha, Shirdi Sai and Ganesh idols in the park.
  • Water anna – Xerox anna – TC akka – dhobi anna
  • Saraswathi in science building and Marble floor
  • Quadrangles – MAs, B.Eds, Jayama Ma’ams, Poorna Ma’ams, Pushpa Ma’ams.
  • Stores and the three-minute calling with KG Ma’am
  • Lines to the bathroom, and the NH & OH wings
  • kittens, and their baby like cries.
  • Krishna again in prayer hall
  • the hibiscus flowers and the neatly cut grass
  • hanuman chalisa
  • the prayer hall, dining hall
  • night-outs, pickle rice, rice stealing
  • the Sunday movies, the Saturday bun, Kurkure, and half-cooked maggi
  • study inchargers and bhajan rounds
  • solar heater, bee hive and monkeys
  • corridors, terrace walks, and the bell
  • room duties and imli
  • God classes and prayer talks
  • late night accountancy tests, or early morning finance classes
  • band sessions, MSR practice, and self-reliance
  • Jayama Ma’am, Pushpa Ma’am, and the ever so loving campus teachers.
  • Most of all, Bhagwan Himself.

All the memory that ever was – rushed in. Anantapur: what a place! It felt electric to be back.

We went over to the commerce building. There it awaited. The sweet demeanor of addressing the girls was still the same with our Commerce teachers. We melted all over again (and yes pushed aside, I am not sure which sadhana helped us, but yes we pushed aside all thoughts of hugging and kissing them), as we reverentially told Sai ram Ma’am to all of them. (To Be Cont.)

Anantapur days

*Learning at the campus in fun light [Dated: March’07]*

There are two things which make our life a fantabulous hit:

  1. Place
  2. People

Sathya Sai Baba, Bhagwan as we fondly call Him, in His benevolent mercy has given us indeed a scintillating permutation of both of these in Anantapur.

#As we take a stroll in the early hours of dawn, the crimson-purple shades escort us to the day’s proceeding. The canopy of Mother Nature is all around, and we enjoy the cool morning wind. But this is Royal Seema we are talking about. It is a matter of time before Mr. Sun peeps out mischievously, decides to hover over, and roasts us down.

“Oh valiant Sun, you have forgotten the multi-faceted personality of ATP girls to face trying circumstances like these.” They would use a disfigured thing which in no way would resemble its original look of an umbrella, or a book, pallu and what not.

“Swami, you surely have succeeded in imparting the concept of ‘Ceiling on Desires’.” 

A student offering card to Bhagwan on Sports Meet

A student offering card to Bhagwan on Sports Meet

#The study holidays are fast approaching. This is the time when even in a non-musical person like me, the stomach composes miraculous notes better than even Beethoven’s. Like an oasis amidst mirages, some girl or the other pops out a ‘hi’, and offers an imli (which she would have flicked), despite her own hunger.

Undoubtedly, it’s not the big things, but the little things that can mean enough. Not only our hunger vanishes, but a feeling of togetherness rejuvenate our vigour.

#Let me not forget to mention our favourite ‘rice stealing part’, when we miss our Sunday lunches because of the strenuous job of having a head bath. Surely eating in a group is fun, but its secret is theft. The significant part being not gobbling rice, but the ecstatic feeling of having escaped a spanking.

Gosh! Karna would surely have had a tough competition with us. And I am sure Swami is celebrating, for He taught us the happiness in sharing.

#Speaking of Karna, we all are reminded of how selflessly our teachers work here with dedication. This virtue hopefully is subconsciously driven in each of us. When few of our sisters were suffering from Chicken pox, they ensured the girls felt at home and comfortable. They advised others of the precaution to be taken. They took care of every unstated need of ours. Surely, home is where love is.

Sathya Sai Visiting Anantapur campus

Sathya Sai Visiting Anantapur campus

#Last year, when two of our teachers met with an accident, all of us were sad and terrified of the misfortune that happened in our Sai family. Every heart had a melancholic beat, and the atmosphere was surfed with hopes and prayers for their speedy recovery. Each moan of theirs was hurting the heart, because of our unique bond of love.

Today, when we see them walking, it brings a heavy sigh of relief, and a sense of gratitude to our all-pervading Hero. Isn’t it amazing to have the feeling of unity amidst diversification?

#Speaking of unity, the other day Raji Ma’am took us to Sri Sai Shiva Kameshwari Temple. I was amazed at the unity in our thoughts. Since it was lunar eclipse that day, the priest asked if we could wait for another half-an-hour to take part in the special pooja. I got to know later, while conversing with girls that all had equally felt bad as we would be missing bajans that evening. Might be it’s just a simple thing, but the idea of daily bajans, which was new to us in the beginning of our first year, has become a part of us now, and we don’t want to miss it for even a day.

One other thing – when we were seated inside the temple, the priest started chanting the Vedas, and spontaneously all the girls started chanting with him (brimming with pride and gratitude of course). Truly, prayer is nothing but willingness and acceptance to change. Today not only are we happy, but a sort of pride envelopes to belong to Anantapur.

#Yesterday, in our Marketing class, we were discussing how we are so used to the routine here that we get bored so easily in the slow-moving world outside. Many girls have told me that almost after the first week of summer vacations, they get bored, and wait to come back to Anantapur, because of the quality time that we spend here.

Last semester, one of the former students had even called up, and told our teacher that she is missing suprabhatam and bajans. So much so that she requested ma’am to make the girls sing for her. Isn’t it unbelievable to ask for something that we had grumbled about as long as we were here?

This serene atmosphere, pollution free surroundings, fragrant flowers, cuddly puppies and cats – really a bundle of varied things bound together with love. If you think about it, we have covered 6 ideals already – in the casualness of our everyday life!

  • Ceiling on Desires
  • Sharing is caring
  • Selflessness
  • Bond of love
  • Unity in diversity
  • Time Management

Our stay here has taught us much more than all these. Our lives have changed for the better. As I said because of the two things: place and people.

#Just imagine when creation is so beautiful how tantalizing and charismatic the Creator must be! He has made us imbibe the purpose of life, making us seek God subtly. This calls in for the belief in His omnipresence.

Let me get there with a story. Though I was termed as a Sai Devotee from birth, I never did relate to Him apart from the school prayer sessions, which I chanted as a routine. Then one December evening in 2003, I decided in the spur of moment that I should join His Institute (as soon as I got to know there was one). Fervent prayers and meticulous preparations became my schedule, as I was fixed upon joining here.

At this juncture, my dad joined me to a one week summer course on Indian Culture & Spirituality, conducted by Sai Samithis in Chennai. Only then I got to know something called Balvikas & Samithis also existed. I thought I knew nothing of the working of Sai Organizations. I felt desperate, wondering what to do if denied a seat here.

During one of the sessions, a speaker introduced me to the concept of Hrdaynivas. She said:

The following incident happened to one of my Balvikas student. He had left his concern for Hrdaynivas after he stopped his classes. Many years hence, when he met with a minor accident near my house, he had called on to refresh himself. It was time for my meditation, and he also joined in.

When I opened my eyes I found the boy perspiring, breathing very fast in his meditation. I waited for him to finish. He finally opened his eyes and informed me that Swami had come in his meditation. He took the boy to his Hrdaynivas, which he had constructed for Swami in his school days.

Now that the boy had totally forgotten it, big cobwebs and sheets of dust had accumulated. All the chairs were broken. Swami took the boy around, showed everything and asked very lovingly, ‘Why have you forgotten me over the years?’ Isn’t it unbelievable? Swami coming to us & speaking of our Hrdaynivas.

So saying, she added – all of you can have a Hrdaynivas, one for your own, if you are determined to maintain it at all times. It is up to you, to think of SWAMI in purple or pink robe, jeans pant or lungi, in a bungalow or palace, even a thatched house for that matter. But make sure you wake Him up, give Him food, chat with Him, sing with Him, play with Him – only you and Him. Most importantly believe in its reality, because didn’t Swami prove His presence to the boy years later.

Truly, only Bhagwan would know how to talk to us, to convince us teenagers in His inimitable style.

#To assimilate this however, we will take a detour.

In our 4th semester Additional English syllabus we had a novel – “The English Teacher”. In the story, the wife of the narrator dies of an illness. He would miss her presence so acutely, and was never over it. Until one day, where he received a letter from a person who could communicate with people of the other world.

Here, the narrator so beautifully emphasizes on the need for openness, of imagination and on the belief that he was able to communicate. That he indeed was able to feel his wife, who was in the other world.

His advice: the first step of communication is belief. Secondly, never lose faith when you don’t seem to get any response.

He was told mere thinking wouldn’t help. He should make the object of imagination move around freely, and not cage it at any cost. He should assert firmly that it’s not illusory. That the other person is existing. That he can feel the presence, provided he gives enough space, as though the imagination is vibrant with reality.

That narration has a lot of relevance for us too.

If we all choose to have a Hrdaynivas, let’s choose any place we like, any mode of living we like, but let’s have a core belief that it’s real. And let SWAMI move freely with our flights of imagination.

#With that, let me sum up – Our stay here has taught us so many things, and has helped us have amazing fun with people – idealize relationships – shown us the importance of serenity – happiness of group living – and so many more, the list is too long to name or number. What then can be told of the unfathomable and inexplicable love of the lord?

To that love Incarnate, let us dedicate every moment of our lives, as our soul rhythmically dances to the tune of His sankalpa. ❤ Jai Sai Ram.