Shirdi trips are always amazing. The way Sai Baba frames His plan and lay it in front of us is very wondrous, I like to say that they are simply not human. A human mind cannot accept such acts owing to its predetermined thinking, but when Sai Baba showers His love, the human heart should only assimilate inside it and let the mind not think anything. Last Shirdi trip was filled with only one thought “Tea, Tea, and Tea”, I request you to read the whole episode from here. This time I was mixed with a lot of feelings yet Baba was kind enough to make it memorable. I went to Shirdi in August 2016 and passed the whole of the 2017 year waiting for His Divine Call. However, I was also waiting for the year 2017 to pass away, as after passing it, we would be entering a new century in which I expected Baba to be more responsive. He proved it so. In the first week of January 2017, Baba fulfilled my wish to visit Shirdi, and thus my wait was over.
Planning Shirdi trips was however difficult task for me every time. It had to be canceled three to four times and then with all pros and cons, it got finalized. Well, this is history for me for the last 12 years. This time it was simply the opposite. It was settled within moments and tickets were booked within no time. I thought it to be a dream and could not stand my happiness. So filled with Divine joy I started calling members of the editorial team of Devotees Experiences With Shirdi Sai Baba who can join me in Shirdi. The curious thing to be noted here is that though we all work on the same subject, talk on the phone almost every day, we haven’t met in person and were dreaming to meet each other for the first time in Shirdi only. In the long gap of 16 months when Baba had played many sports and given us the responsibility of MahaParayan, Naam Jaap, and whatnot, my feelings were like, Baba now what? There are a few plans in the pipeline which we will be unfolding in months to come, but I was then filled with some unusual feelings about going to Shirdi.
I have always taken service of blog differently with my devotion to Him. To be specific, it is like balancing my personal and professional relationships with Him. I get calls, messages, emails, asking to pray on devotees’ behalf to Baba, sometimes I question Him, “Who will pray for me Baba, I am also not spared from the law of Karma”. Sometimes He answers like, “Talk to Me, I am Listening”. I laugh and reply, “You already know, what should I say Now”.
Being blank always in front of Him (Sagun Roop) has now become a habit to me. I rarely utter any word in my mind to Him when I am in front of Him, let it be home shrine, a temple near my home where I usually visit on Thursdays or in Shirdi.
Sometimes, unlike other devotees, I feel that He does not come in my dreams anymore nor give me darshan in Sagun form just like a kid seeing another kid playing with a toy ask Him for the same toy. He says, “Why do you want that thing which I am giving to others, Our relation is different and unique, ask what you actually intend to seek”.
At times I am confused about what to ask Him when He knows very well what to give. I always feel I am the laziest and most foolish devotee of Him who even doesn’t know what to ask and depend on Him totally. I am not sure what height of devotion it is – positive, zero, or even negative – I am not seeking any such thing, except one thing that Baba should be with me till I breathe last. I don’t know any strict pooja to please and attain Him, I don’t know what mantras to chant nor do I take pains to find them, I just want Him to be in constant communion with me. Sometimes wit, tears, discussions, silence, His ways are inscrutable and beyond my intellect when He communicates with me. I feel there’s no sense in attaining heights of spirituality when I leave Him behind and dawn myself in the ego of attaining it. So seeking His presence in my life is what I ask from Him. Other things related to the law of Karma can’t be changed, neither by Him nor me, then why be upset because of it and waste precious moments of togetherness. If I ask for signs from Him, He will give me signs just opposite to what I am expecting. When asked directly, He answers directly from within (Atma Hi Paramatma Hai Sai Tune SabKo Bataya Hai Vide Bhajan by Sai Brother Rana Gill). When I expect a miracle from Him, He does nothing, but when I do not expect any miracle, He does it and doesn’t even allow me to notice it. It is some time (or days, weeks, and months) later that I realize what He did. He has made me totally unconscious and it is like I know He is with me – consciously and subconsciously. At times I see live darshan, other times I forget, at times I cling to Him for something, other times I know He is working behind and ask nothing. There is no end to what He does and how to reconcile things. I have even noticed that what I am thinking in my mind or what I discuss with my editorial team, Baba has already prepared its blueprint and I realize it at a later stage. No end to His leelas and the relation that He has with all His devotees is simply beyond human intellect.
Coming back to the main topic of this post, I made a few calls, and it’s obvious that no one would be saying Yes immediately as each one has to set their priorities and plan. I believe, priorities also depend on Baba’s divine call. My son Krishaang on regularly watching “Mere Sai” show on Sony Entertainment Television wanted to go to Shirdi just to see the original Dwarkamai and he kept on asking when are we going, and I never knew when Baba had planned to call us. At the same time, my brother, who has migrated to Bangalore last year wanted to visit Shirdi. He was coming home for ten days and so he planned to go to Shirdi for two days in between. He never calls in his working hours but that day it was unusual for him and he called our mum to book tickets, either offline or online to Shirdi. My parents went to book tickets and called me to ask if would like to join. Obviously, there was no second thought on going to Shirdi, yay! Within five minutes tickets were booked and we were all set to start our trip after 24 days. I started counting days and amidst that, we took up another Spiritual Venture of Anant Akhand Sai MahaJaap. My hands were full on both sides and I was busy struggling to meet the deadlines of the blog and my professional commitments as well. It seemed tiring but then how can it be frustrating when all was being done for going to Shirdi.
The day finally came and before that, I knew whom I was to meet in Shirdi other than Baba. With the onset of Mahaparayan I got into contact with a few devotees of Baba who were initial members of my Sai family and we knew each other for the last 10 years. When I texted Sai Sister Sasikala RaviVenkatesan to come to Shirdi, she replied she had plans but nothing was confirmed then. We had met in Shirdi about nine years ago in 2009 on the occasion of inaugurating audio of Stavan Manjari in Gujarati and now we both wished to meet soon after such a long gap. Before that, in 2008, Baba had played His sports just to make us realize that when He wants to make any relation strong, He does it skillfully. You can read how “Shirdi Sai Baba Gifted me a Pink Dress” through her and how He had blessed our blog. Later after a few months, Baba even confirmed by Himself being dressed in Pink on my visit to Shirdi, you can check out that post from here. After a few days, she confirmed her plan, and I was very happy and waiting to meet her. Meanwhile, Baba also called Sai Sister Pooja to come to Shirdi and meet me. I was thinking about what to buy for them when my bestie Nehal came up with the idea of buying embroidered slings which are very famous in Gujarat but might not be available in Chennai or Pune respectively where they both belonged. Two days before leaving Shirdi, unexpected situations turned up in my favor to buy the gifts as I wanted. So everything was settling slowly. Finally, after a long wait, the day came when we left for Shirdi.
We reached Shirdi around 9 AM. We had booked a room in Dwaravati online in advance but did not expect to check-in before 11 AM as it is its standard check-in time. Lucky enough we got room within minutes. We quickly freshened ourselves, had breakfast, and started towards Samadhi Mandir. I always first meet Baba in Dwarkamai and by the time we reached Dwarkamai it was 11:45 and we sat in the courtyard of Dwarkamai for Madhyayan Arti after we meet Baba upstairs where I felt He was welcoming us with a smile. I had Bajra Roti, chatni, and sabzi for Him, which we offered to Him just before the start of Arti. Even my besties Nehal and Anjali have sent something for Him which was again offered with love and was accepted by Him. I love to be in Dwarkamai during Arti (specially Madhyayan Arti) and He made sure this happens. I was happy chanting arti and making eye contact with Baba in Dwarkamai throne, pictured above the stone on which He used to be seated, and not to forget Baba sitting on His Golden Throne in Samadhi Mandir seen from LCD placed there. I was happy within and out. It was blissful. Times, when Baba and His devotees gathered for Arti, was reminisced and I lived in those times for a few minutes. What made me happier was seeing Krishaang clapping to the tune of Arti and being seated at one place for nearly 30 minutes whereas it’s difficult for him to sit quietly even for a minute.
Then we visited Chavadi and Abdul Baba’s Samadhi and it was lunchtime for Krishaang. So we quickly headed to Prasadalay where Krishaang was to get his favorite Varan-Bhat (Pulse and Rice) from Baba. He was surprised seeing the big hall of Prasadalay and exclaimed that the restaurant was very big, I said its Baba’s Rasoi (kitchen), that’s why it is so and we get everything as His Prasad cooked by Him only. Meanwhile, I was informed by Sai Sister Sasikala RaviVenkatesan that Sai brother Satish was also in Shirdi. Even we have known each other since 2008 but never met in person. So definitely it was going to be a reunion but we couldn’t meet as he had to leave at 3:30 and both of us couldn’t pick up each other’s call. Sai Sister Pooja was in touch and she said she reached Shirdi and she was going for darshan in Samadhi Mandir and by the time we finish our lunch she would be free. However, when I called her she didn’t pick so it was a signal that still she wasn’t done with darshan and we had booked our darshan slot from 4-5 PM. So there was a possibility that we might miss the meeting, but that was not a part of the plan of Baba. Somehow we managed and met near Dwarkamai. We had to finalize the logo for Anant Akhand Sai MahaJaap and she had chits for selection ready with her. Sai sister Kriti had given us two creatives and we had to choose one. Pooja had done homework on making chits and showed me both the creatives. I picked the first one which even her heart had reconciled but we wanted to ask Baba (our Boss 😀) to finalize one for us. So we went in Dwarkamai and Pooja asked Pujari there to put both chits in front of Baba to consecrate and she intended to get one of them picked by Krishaang. However, Pujari returned her only one chit and the other remained with Baba! Krishaang was asked to open chit and we were surprised to know that Baba has chosen that creative which was liked by Pooja and me. Again He finished His task well ahead of us. This has happened several times and for us now there was no amazement in it. We have now understood the playful and naughty nature of this Lord Who says, “I do nothing but still people hold Me responsible for everything”.
As naughty and active kids are liked by all and love overflows naturally on seeing them, the same feelings come for Baba as well on seeing Him sporting thus. Before entering Dwarkamai while I and Pooja were discussing the creative, she showed me the “108 Pearls of Sai Baba” book written by Jaya Wahi, and also shared that she wished to buy it for long and now she had bought it finally. Then I remembered that I had to give them the sling and wanted to give her before she starts from Shirdi, looked like she was in a hurry. She wasn’t ready to accept it as she had missed bringing something for me and Krishaang. I consoled her saying that nothing was wanted, but then she quickly slipped the book in my hand and said, “Didi you keep the book”. I denied saying that she had bought for herself but then she was determined and pressed me to accept. I accepted seeing her beautiful emotions towards me. Beyond that, I felt that Baba is giving me the book and hinting me as it were that I have to restart reading books. Though I am surrounded by books the whole day, they are study books of Krishaang 😀 I can’t read even a page of any other book on Baba from my small library. All thanks to Sai Brother Anubhav for gifting me so many books and enlightening me. I dream of my own personal study with ample lights and a one-seater recliner so that I can read books the whole day without hunger and thirst. Keeping my fingers crossed for this Baba 😇.
On my request then Pooja somehow managed to accompany us for darshan in Samadhi Mandir and we had quick darshan (quick means we reached the main hall within minutes as there was literally NO queue). He was sitting calmly and seeing all His devotees with so much Bhaav on His face. Dressed beautifully the glow of His face added to the charm. The environment was very serene and we had the opportunity to touch Samadhi as glass protectors were removed due to less crowd. I always love to go to Him as an ordinary devotee but He makes sure that I get good reception and He did that by giving me peaceful darshan. By now Krishaang was getting cranky as he had no sleep in the afternoon and he was fatigued, so he insisted on returning to the room where he can play freely and rest for a while. Later in the evening Sai Sister Sasikala RaviVenkatesan came to meet me and gifted Krishaang coloring books which he is very much fond of. I was happy that Baba acknowledged his interest.
The day for leaving Shirdi was here. Even before going to Shirdi, I am surrounded by morose thoughts of leaving Shirdi. It is testified fact that Baba is everywhere still I don’t know why this happens. It pains from within, but I console myself saying Baba has set priorities and responsibilities for each of us and all of them are sum total of our karmas and again there’s no escape from it. We checked out quickly and took a pass for the time slot of 10-11 AM. We were to rush to Samadhi Mandir but Krishaang was hungry and wanted to have something. Oh 😱 thought we would be late, indeed we were, but Baba had arranged a meeting with Sai Sister Sasikala RaviVenkatesan again before she starts from Shirdi. Thus in Shirdi, even if we have planned, Baba executes His Own plans only 😍. We entered Samadhi Mandir at 10:50 and it was likely that we would be in the Samadhi Mandir Main Hall during Madhyayan Arti. On entering Samadhi Mandir, I quickly finished my chapter for Nitya Parayan and was standing watching a long queue and lot of people there.
After going a little further, passing a hall, I said, “Baba, seeing the crowd here, I wish You should come and reside at my home with me so that I won’t have to surpass this long queue just to have Your glance” (Read towards the end to unfold leela related to this conversation).
He answered, “Ok, but what about these innumerable devotees of Mine?”
I said, “If You want, You can redirect them there 😅”
Well, the conversation ended as Krishaang was again cranky as the crowd seemed to increase as Arti finished but the queue didn’t move. I tried to console him with no effect. He started crying. I somehow made him forget his frustration by engaging him in talks. Seeing this my mother felt pity for the little one and said to Baba, “Why so much testing Baba, we adults are tired, then we can totally relate to what this little one must be going through”. The waiting period seemed ages for all of us and finally, we reached the main darshan hall. Krishaang was then calm and composed. He did good darshan and so did i. My mother was standing in one corner while we were not allowed to wait for long. We waited for her and she joined us a little later.
After joining us she told me that she could spot tears on the face of Baba just as a kid cries and tears flow down his cheeks. She felt as if Baba was saying to her, “I know you all are tired and you all took so much pain to meet Me. Even I did not like that you are tired and see that’s why I have tears for you, I even know the pain of little one”. My mother was reminded of the incident of Shri Sai Satcharitra when Baba showed four fully developed bubos, as big as eggs, and added, “See, now I have to suffer for My devotees, their difficulties are mine”.
After that, we had lunch again in Prasadalay and it was almost 4 PM when we were left only with one hour to depart. The day before, I shared a thought with my father that I wished to buy a stone on which Baba’s image is present to get it moulded in a gold ring. Although I have two identical gold pendants of Baba it was only visible to others and not me when I wore them. I was also reminded of one of my conversations with Manisha Didi (dated again some 10 years back) that she had a bracelet with a stone of Baba’s image and she was wearing it in her right hand. Thus the image of Baba was visible to her while she was blogging and doing other works. But till that day I never thought of having any such stone. How this thought came to me I don’t know and I do not have any standpoints to justify it. However, my father couldn’t make out what I was saying. In the evening when we went to book our tickets for departure, the booking person in charge was wearing such a ring and I pointed it to my dad. Now he was clear what exactly I wanted and he said we would buy before leaving Shirdi. The same I shared with my brother at night and then the thought seemed to have lost impact the next day as I had no hopes to stroll in the market because very less time was left to start from Shirdi. When we went to Hanuman Mandir, after the darshan, I was reminded of my intent to buy stone and I gestured to my father that I will go and check stone in a shop near the temple, while Krishaang was putting on his footwear. I quickly went and saw many of them! Now I was confused between red and black background. See colorful play of this Lord! My father suggested not considering the one with a black background as we don’t consider black color as auspicious. However, I love black and want to have everything in black, even Baba in the black background was nothing inauspicious to me 😛. Then my mother exclaimed that if you want to mould it in a golden ring then red would be a good combination. Dear all, let me tell you, on professional grounds, I have to play with colors and thus I am always alert to combining colors. I liked my mother’s suggestion and bought the stone with red background. Suddenly my mother then noticed silver rings already studded with stones of Baba’s image on them. She also expressed to buy one for her. I started to help her in choosing then suddenly I realized that I won’t be able to wear a gold ring immediately as it have to be made first and I wasn’t sure how much savings it will cost me 😛 So I bought one silver ring for me and then I was super happy to Take Lord Baba With Me In The Form Of Ring As I Requested Him To Come Along With Me In Samadhi Mandir. Finally, I even bought the stone and the ring. This might sound simple thing as many of you must have bought and worn such a ring but the fact is that it was something which was not even thought of in dreams. A casual talk of 10 years back took shape now. We have been going to Shirdi for the past 12 years but why the thought of buying stone and then rings come this time only. My human mind is not finding logic in it as I know Baba was in the mood to come with me just as He wanted to accompany NanaSaheb Chandorkar to Pandharpur. All I can say is that it’s Baba’s gift to me.
In this centenary year, we are finding incidents from Shri Sai Satcharitra being repeated in our lives and I am sure there are many more to come. Though fatigued, feverish, and totally drained I returned home as the return journey was too uncomfortable, Baba ensured a safe journey and filled heart and soul with contentment. Praying Him wholeheartedly to call me soon again with my Soul Brother Rana Bhaiya when he visits India this time.
Quick links to other Shirdi Trip narrations
- Sai Baba Meets in Shirdi (January 14, 2007)
- A Memorable Trip to Shirdi (October 28, 2008)
- Diwali Celebrations in Shirdi with Sai Baba (October 16, 2009)
- Series Of Leelas Followed In Shirdi During This Diwali (November 5, 2010)
- Lord Sai Baba Made All My Dreams A Reality In Shirdi… (February 13, 2011)
- A Cup of Tea – Experience in Shirdi (August 5, 2016)