Suddenly, Swamiji turned and led us to a medium-sized bel tree (wood apple) that was a few yards away, and held some fruit in its branches. Beneath it was a small deity of Shiva and an equally small idol of Nandi. Turning to me, Swamiji said with a mischievous look in his eyes, that this was the star attraction that he was talking about! This was typical of Swamiji! He will say something fearful, something terrifying or something mysterious, and it will turn out to be breathtakingly sweet and humorous!
He asked for some camphor and soon we were joined by Tirumeni, a sastrigal or priest who at that time was performing the rituals in the Ashram. He promptly arrived with the puja materials. Swamiji completed the puja, blessed the few villagers who were gathered there, and came away. He plucked some leaves from the tree and distributed those to us, asked us to eat them and we did. We returned to the bus and resumed our journey.
We sang bhajans, repeated mantras and were enraptured to be in his divine presence.
Our minds were automatically becoming quiet and attuned to his wavelength and receptive to him. I discovered later that this was true in varying proportions among many of us. For me personally, it was a visit I was looking forward to, because I had missed the previous visit to Shirdi and Puttaparthi last year.
Also, this was my second visit to Shirdi. I had been there when I was less than ten years old with my late father and I was returning there after forty-two years! I was accompanied by my wife Amala, and our son, Dhruv.
We stopped once again for lunch. Later, Swamiji told us that we were not to sleep until 8 p.m. and if we did, we were liable to pay Rs 500! My wife and I were soon caught in the act and we quickly coughed up Rs 1000 and surrendered the amount to Swamiji. There were several other casualties! Later in the evening, Swamiji left our bus to be with devotees from the other bus.
I was told by other devotees that He gave a beautiful satsang that evening. Some senior women devotees were in a complaining mode. They were fretting and fuming over some issues. The second bus had experienced a minor breakdown and tempers were running high.
One of them said that she would have preferred travelling by air! Another complained about the bus! And there were yet other complaints about a variety of minor things.
Swamiji listened patiently to all of them and began His satsang, the substance of which was the following: “All of you are seeing Swamiji as one of your own family. That is the bandhan (relationship) that you have with me. You are not looking at Me as a guest.
You have kept me even in your kitchens and everywhere else in your houses. I have planned this trip and it is my job to take care of all of you. Do you think I did not know about the breakdown of the bus? Trust in me to make the arrangements and have faith that our challenges will be surmounted.
Do not complain. Senior people should not cry, weep or complain because these actions generate negativity. Negativity robs such persons of their storehouse of positive merit and that is why it should be avoided at all cost.”
‘There is a family in Calicut that used to object to some of its members worshipping me. They objected to my photograph being displayed in the puja room and I used to be worshipped from the outside.
The moment my photo started giving (vibhooti) and chandanam (sandal wood paste), the attitude of the entire family changed! Now everybody believes! This is true bhakti (devotion)! If you have such bhakti, you can do anything!
The same was true of another family in Mangalam kunnu. Only after (vibhooti) and (panchamritam) started pouring, all opposition died out. Now they pray to my photograph! A true bhakta will never fail and the Guru will never let him or her down. Genuine devotion is the key. Therefore we must not behave like children; instead, our responses should be mature. Maturity combined with devotion will never fail to obtain results.”
“Devotees from Bangalore are very fortunate to come close to me. I like all my Bangalore devotees. “