My mother and I left for Puttaparthi to seek darshan of Bhagwan Sathya Sai Baba. Having heard the news on TV channels, it was a very courageous move on our part. I had mixed feeling about the trip, although having visited the town before, i knew the scenario was very different. Devotees who had arrived from abroad had apparently given up hope of seeking darshan and had to go back. The media had many stories to tell and many brains to wash. Our relatives stay in puttaparthi so my mother knew a DCP in Puttaparthi through my Uncle's contact. Although reaching Puttaparthi was not very strenuous, getting inside the city was. Every entry to the city had been blocked by the police, they just wouldn't let us go inside. After hours of convincing and waiting we finally got through. Every check point was a task, but we managed it.
We were still very uncertain of reaching inside the temple, we saw massive crowds, tents had been built to save the devotees from the harsh heat. Huge Screens had been put up showing a video coverage of the temple from the inside. We reached the house, had our lunch and soon left praying we'd get darshan. Our driver and me left together to join the men's line.
Upon entering the line I noticed marvellous things and I was taken aback. The que moved at a very fast pace, No one was beeing pushed around. The Seva Dal (Ashram's Helpers and Volunteers) had made excellent arrangements to manage the crowd. They were also distributing free water, buttermilk, food etc for the visiting devotees on the way for FREE. Many local citizens were also helping navigate the crowd, they had infact laid out stall giving out water to the thirsty, many small children ran about offering water and buttermilk to everyone. Many restaurant owners had laid out stall giving free food to the visitors. The Police had never been calmer in such a situation and tended to everyone with care and affection. The attitude of the people was just a treat to one's heart.
The que reached the Kulwant hall, where the Sai's body was kept in a matter on 20 minutes. I couldn't believe that in a span of half an hour i had already finished my darshan. I would have time to do it at least 10 more times before they shut for the day. The media had definitely hyped the situation to a large extent. The school students and all the staff of the ashram, the super speciality hospital and everyone connected to baba were all in such grief. But, the media not only pressured them to come in front of the camera but also blocked paths in the town with their vans and cameras being a great inconvenience to everyone. Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister's visit also blocked the lines and roads for a while. The next day, the burial with State honours and the Samadhi were to take place with only the close devotees and relatives being present.
The day ended in after i had a tour of the place after my darshan, i slept early as the day had been very tiring.
We got up early, My brother told me that the darshan was for everyone. He took me with him, having lived there for years he knew the Seva dal members and easily got the two of us inside. Sitting with everyone was a little hard at first. There were continuous tears rolling down and that was all could see in every direction. Although my reactions were not the same,I could connect to their grief accurately somehow. It was like i could feel their pain although i didn't feel any at that moment. The state honours, followed by the Samadhi took place. Soon after the Mangala Aarti, the devotees were allowed to go near the Samadhi. I left after the Aarti and went home. That was the end of my Darshan.
I learnt a lot of things from this trip:
- The media hyped the Sai baba situation a lot. Something (TV News channels) i believed in as Gospel truth was far from what it seems. Very very far.
- The world is not blind, they don't follow things blindly anymore. The contribution of this ONE man to this world has been remarkable. Free education, Free Treatment including open heart surgeries, Free water to so many villages, and a lot of devotion and faith. That has what really made him what he is today. That is why he is missed by so many people across the world.
- One must always leave his signature behind, he created such a powerful trust that has an approx value of almost 40,000 Cr which in the future is going to do many great things for this world over.
|Media vans blocking roads|
|Huge Display screens for onlookers and visitors|
|Media personell reporting|
|High security at one of the gates we passed through.|
|Stacked cars and buses on the circumference of the town|
|Another police checkpoint|
|Police stops us near the Puttaparthi Airport.|
|Inside Prashanthi Nilayam|
|Que of people waiting to take Darshan|
|One of the lanes in Puttaparthi|
|Free water and medicines for the devotees/visitors by the Seva Dal|
|Seva Dal help out|
|Two devotees sharing a meal|
|Free food being distributed|
|27th April - Samadhi Function|
|Birds hovers above the temple|
|Police force after the Samadhi function|
|Tents that had been put up to prepare free food for the devotees|