Yes, Dear Sai Readers, your guesses are correct! I am back from Shirdi. Shirdi trips are always blissful and full of joy. In this Kaliyug no one is spared from problems in life. After going to Shirdi, we forget our worries and pains. What all we remember is getting darshan of Lord Sai Baba in Samadhi Mandir, Dwarakamai, Gurustan, Chavadi and at various other places. But this time i experienced very different feelings. All the time “I just kept on judging myself when i was in Shirdi”. I don’t know what exactly the reason was. An inner voice kept on questioning and answering me from inside on whatever i did or thought to do. Even while shopping i was questioned whether particular thing is worth buying for me, will i do justice to it by using it in proper way, whether it is really necessary to buy the thing and so on. Dear Sai Readers, i would like to know your views on such feelings. Now let’s go to Shirdi and i will be sharing the bliss i experienced there. Please do not miss latest update towards end of post.
We traveled to Shirdi this time in train unlike other times in bus. We started on February 20, 2012 morning. During noon, I was lying on upper berth. Due to hot weather, I was not able to sleep but was lying with my eyes closed. I saw a strange vision which was to this effect: I was sweeping place between Shyamsunder Hall and Chavadi. What I was sweeping was not garbage, I was sweeping rose petals. Someone said, “See there are still some petals there. Do your work properly” and suddenly I was surprised to realize what I was seeing and opened my eyes. I have no answer what did this vision signify. It was not a dream as I was not at all sleeping. It was clear vision. I did not get any answer from Lord Baba what He meant to say by showing this vision to me till date.
We reached Shirdi on February 21, 2012 early morning at 4:45 A.M. The reporting arrival time of train was 3:55 A.M. but it was late by 50 minutes. Since it was early morning we (me, my father and mother) were in dilemma whether we would be able to hire any auto-rickshaw. Two auto-rickshaw drivers came to my father and asked where were we interested to go, when we were standing on platform. But we thought that we can inquire from outside auto-rickshaw drivers. On coming out of railway station, we found Shri Sai Baba Sansthan Trust’s bus waiting for us:) It is well said in Shri Sai Satcharitra that, “He Who invites anybody for a visit, also arranges everything for his reception” and so it happened with us. We quickly sat in bus and alighted near Samadhi Mandir. We decided to go to Dwarakamai and have preliminary darshan there as Hemadpant had on His first visit to Shirdi.
On my last trip to Shirdt i really enjoyed being in Dwarkamai before Kakad Arti. It is so blissful to be there with all calmness around. So i wished to first go at Dwarkamai before going anywhere in Shirdi. By the time, we reached Dwarkamai, Kakad Arti finished and i saw Lord Sai Baba dressed in amazing dress. Though our Lord never wants anything from us except pure love and devotion, He never wants us to forget our promises. A long promise was due to Lord Baba and this time few days before leaving for Shirdi, i was reminded about promise by Him. It was offering dress to Him. So beautiful dress was prepared for Lord Baba and a wish was made to see Him in the same dress. A similar type of dress was worn by Lord Baba when i saw Him first time in Shirdi after Kakad Arti during this trip. It was an indication by Lord Baba which i did not understand then. I understood only when He showed it to me practically. I will point it out on later stage of narration.
After having darshan at Dwarkamai peacefully, we booked ourselves at Dwaravati and took rest for few hours. After freshening up, we headed towards Samadhi Mandir for darshan. It was time for Noon arti and we were fortunate to be present in Samadhi Mandir. Though we were in queue in second hall, we had great time singing arti and hymns. Now it was time for lunch. For us having food at Prasadalaya is like having food prepared and served by Lord Baba Himself. So we took our lunch there and roamed around Samadhi Mandir in shops for sometime. Due to whole day’s journey the previous day, we took rest for few hours. Then we went to Dwarkamai and Chavadi. We were then hungry and had some good snacks “Wada-Pav and Ragada” from lorries near Chavadi. It was delicious treat! Now feeling energetic, we headed towards Samadhi Mandir for second darshan of the day (and also our trip). Again we had gorgeous darshan of Lord Sai Baba. I was then tired due to continuous standing in queue. So i sat down near Gurustan to give some rest to my legs, and my mother and father were doing Pradakshina to Gurusthan. The weather was very stable and normal (not too hot or cold) at that time. Breeze was not at all blowing. Suddenly a strong wave of wind shook Neem tree and many of its leaves descended down. I was seated not too close to Gurusthan, still Neem leaves came and fell near me in such a way that I can easily take them and put in my handbag. I was surprised at this. At times devotees are not able to find even a single leaf to treasure and for us Lord Baba showered them in plenty with such an ease to gather and pocket them. Wonderous are His Leelas. Now it was end of the day, we took dinner and then reached our lodging for rest.
The first day is over to narrate. But I left out few details which I did not want to mix up earlier. The first day was tiresome due to few other reasons. As stated earlier I wished to see Lord Baba in dress which I took for Him. With help of Sai brother, I got chance to contact few officers of Samadhi Mandir, followed procedure and yes, it was done! See how it happened. The same Sai brother was in Shirdi before fifteen days of our trip. I had expressed my this wish to him while talking on phone and he said Lord Baba will do. With his untiring efforts and good convincing power he arranged a day and time on which Lord Baba will be wearing dress offered by me. I was allowed to choose the date and day by Lord Baba. Oh how Merciful is He! I immediately told him on phone, “It must be Thursday, February 23, 2012, any time”. I was then questioned, “Is Noon arti fine?” I answered him, “Yes why not. As Lord Baba wills, I only wish it should be Thursday”. Please mark well these words of mine. He then called me after few hours and confirmed that Lord Baba has accepted my offer to wear dress to be taken by me on Thursday, February 23, 2012 during Noon Arti. I was full of joy and flying in air. It was like near to impossible, but Lord Baba made it. Every time He fulfills our wish in Shirdi, but this time He was kind enough to accept wish before leaving for Shirdi. Even though I had planned to take dress for Him, i had not purchased it yet.
The next day I brought dress for Him. There also I witnessed His acceptance and wish. I did not purchase any cloth at once. I roamed at various shops to find most beautiful one. Though Lord Baba was to accept anything offered with Love, I wished to have something best and very beautiful for Him. I did this only because of my love for Him and want Him to look prettiest. I hope you all can understand my feelings for our beloved. Curious thing was at every shop I got stuck at purple colour. Only designs and embroidery work was a matter of concern. I do not have much liking for this colour, but somehow this colour was caught by my eyes everywhere that day. Finally I feel in love with one cloth bundled in a corner of a shop. Of course the colour was purple, but embroidery work and its green shade in light was simply outstanding. Its fabric was also smooth so as not to be uncomfortable for Lord Baba. On asking its cost, I learned that it was far beyond my budget. Even I did not carry that much cash with me. So I left thought of buying that cloth and left the shop. Two three more shops were visited thenafter. But first love is after all first love! I again returned to the same shop. Now I had to bargain with shop keeper till it fits my pocket. I was prepared to pay the price which shop keeper was asking by borrowing money from my mother who accompanied me, in case he was not ready to bargain. I wanted to buy that particular cloth only by hook or by crook. I could clearly visualize how pretty would Lord Baba be looking wearing it. So now how can I make my Love compromise with some other dress? With few minutes of explanation why I was buying cloth, the shopkeeper agreed to take the amount which was in my limits. I really thank Lord Baba for this. I then purchased some fancy embroidery border for cloth to give finished look and handed all to devotee of Lord Baba to make it ready. Below is picture of dress purchased and made ready for Lord Baba.
Lets now read what Leelas did Lord Baba played on second day. If we visit Samadhi Mandir between 2 P.M. to 5 P.M. we can easily get good darshan without any long queue and push and pulls. Because we had darshan two times the previous day in crowd, we preferred entering Samadhi Mandir in afternoon. We planned to go to “Sai Dham” (since I had read much about this place through our blog readers, I wished to go there) that day and so we first went to Dwarkamai for taking Lord Baba’s leave to go there. This time I had many plans in my mind before going to Shirdi. One of which was donating food. Now question was how to arrange food on large scale before leaving for “Sai Dham”. I remembered a Sai brother Sourabh who resides in Shirdi itself (He can be contacted on +91-8956214653 for any help or guidance in Shirdi). I called him and inquired about anyone providing service of making home like food on payment for donation as i did not want to buy hotel-made food. He took me to a person who agreed to make “Khichadi” for us to be donated in evening after Arti. Everything went on so smoothly that I did not expect to happen.
I also had planned to go to “Sai Dham”. Since we were now assured that food for donation will be prepared, we hired an auto-rickshaw (to and fro) for “Sai Dham”. We reached there at the time when noon arti had just started. We rushed on the way to temple and quickly joined others present there. There were very few devotees and it was like Lord Sai Baba was attending everyone individually. We saw that devotees were waving arti one by one. The poojari then came forward to my mother and asked her to wave arti. She did it for sometime and then called me. Similarly my father also waved arti till end. It was like a VIP treatment for all of us. In scenario of today, we cannot even imagine ourselves waving arti in Samadhi Mandir. So Lord Baba planned to give us opportunity in “Sai Dham” and that is probably the most important reason for calling us there.
After arti was over, we then went to see Shri. DhondhiRamBaba Chavhaan. He was sleeping, but poojari woke him and informed him of our arrival. We sat before him. He started telling my father that Lord Sai Baba’s grace and blessings are on his family and there is nothing to worry about. Just request Lord Baba in Shirdi that He continues to bless us all in the same way. While concluding he said now go to Shirdi and have blissful darshan there. My family members are solely dependent on Lord Baba for everything in life. It has been our practice to accept everything as His will. So there were no questions in our mind which could have been put forward to Shri. Dhondhirambaba Chavhaan. This was well read by him and he did not discuss much on our life or any incident. This satisfied us to the core because we have tried to maintain our relation with Lord Baba without any mediator. As I shared earlier I was curious to go there only because I had read about it many times.
There was beautiful garden near temple in “Sai Dham” and we just roamed there for sometime and captured few pictures which are shared below. Pictures of me and my parents are available on my facebook page.
Now we returned Shirdi and straight away went to Prasadalay where free food was served that day as some devotee has donated under free bhojan scheme. After having lunch, we entered Samadhi Mandir which took about two hours for darshan. Still we were satisfied as we were lucky to touch Lord Baba’s Samadhi. We thought of freshening ourselves before evening arti. So we went to our lodging. While we were returning from lodging, I got a call from person that “Khichadi” is now ready to be served. We quickly reached to that shop and a boy was ready with two big containers of Khichadi and other arrangements. We all stood near Dwarkamai and were wondering how such large quantity will be distributed as no beggar was seen near or far. The boy told once any devotee or beggar is seen taking prasad by others, there will be huge rush for prasad and it will get over quickly. Same happened. First a lady came and forwarded her hand for prasad, then so many devotees and beggars came and both containers emptied within few minutes. We kept one bowl of Khichadi for ourselves. At the end when we were taking prasad ourselves, we realized how tasty and well cooked it was that few devotees asked for it again and again. I was getting greedy to have more but alas nothing was left. I was happy that Lord Baba accepted this wish also and now it was my chance to witness how and in what way He fulfills my bigger wish the next day.
We took our dinner in hotel near Dwarkamai and settled ourselves for night arti in lower part of Dwawrkamai. I always love to be present in Dwarkamai during arti. Since night arti is the first arti started in reign of Lord Baba, I consider it the most important. I spent blissful moments in Dwarkamai during arti. My eyes were tearful, I was excited within and hair stood straight all over my body. With closed eyes, collective singing of arti was giving me inner joy. Now arti got over, we said good night to Lord Baba and left to return next day which I consider as my day.
Everything was going on so well, but inside me there was very different scene. I was sad within for some unknown reason. Before leaving for Shirdi, every time I have such sad and morose feelings. On reaching Shirdi all those feelings are lost. This time it was simply the opposite. In introduction I said that I kept on judging myself all the time in Shirdi, I was feeling like every time such voice comes from within is of Lord Baba. At one point of time, a voice came like “Why are you in Shirdi? Am I not always with you?” At each and every place this judgement followed me. I was unable to figure out reasons for such feelings as though. I was happy outside but sad inside.
While returning to our lodging after blissful arti, we decided to walk instead of hiring auto-rickshaw to enjoy atmosphere of Shirdi at night. I had two small bags and a small hand bag with me. We had kept our cell phones and camera in Sansthan’s lockers which we took back while returning. I saw missed calls of my hubby and so called him. He did not accompany us because of leave issues of four long days. I talked with him and instead of putting cell inside my hand bag I kept it in my hand. We reached our lodging talking about Lord Baba and Shirdi. I then kept my cell inside a bigger hand bag which I use during travel and this act of mine simply got unnoticed by me and I forgot about it. Suddenly after twenty minutes when I wanted to set alarm for next day morning, I was like where is my cell? I could not recall. On our way, we bought sweet pan (betel-leaves), I was doubting that I left it on that lorry. I started panicking because it is costly hand-set. More than that I was to be answerable for my carelessness for which my hubby is always disappointed with me. I was thinking how can this happen to me while being in Shirdi. I am suffering from strange feelings within and now situations outside have also turned up to bad from good. Then Lord Baba said from within to give a call from my mother’s cell. I did so and my cell started ringing. The hand bag in which cell was kept was lying in between other bigger bags. It took a while for me to search that bag and I was in big relief when I took my cell out of it. My shivering stopped and I tried to be normal as soon as possible. I thanked Lord Baba for advising me at nick of time.
Next day was Thursday, February 23, 2012, the day when Lord Baba promised to wear dress brought for Him. It was again mixed with all odds and evens. The Sai brother who had arranged for taking date and time for me, called me up to arrange for VIP passes for noon arti that day. He asked me to reach PRO office (Public Relation Office) at sharp nine in morning. After quickly dressing up in new clothes (Lord Baba also was to wear new clothes, so why I was to be spared?!) I and my parents started for PRO office. When we reached downstairs, I saw Lord Baba in Purple in TV screen! I went near screen to re-assure and yes He was exactly in purple, in the same dress which He promised to wear in noon arti. Still I was not ready to believe that Lord Baba wore dress after Kakad Arti and not in noon arti. We rushed to Samadhi Mandir, entered from Mukh darshan gate and saw Lord Baba in my love at first sight dress! I was disappointed as much time to see Him in that dress was wasted in sleeping. He wore dress from 4:45 A.M. and we saw him at 9:45 A.M. Lord Baba said from within, “This is result of sleeping more. You be engaged in sleeping and I will fulfill your wish which you will be unable to witness”. I was dis-heartened totally. My parents gave me strength and said that still we have two hours to see Him in that dress. I accepted what He willed and rushed to Samadhi Mandir running. Two times we had darshan and I was feeling happy and sad at the same time. It is hard to believe that we got darshan two times in just one hour on Thursday while at time we have to wait for hours for just one darshan. Earlier i said to Sai brother that it was important for me that Lord Baba wears dress at any time of the day, time is not a matter. Lord Baba did exactly what is uttered without thinking. Even on our first visit to Him in Dwarkamai, He wore dress of same sort in Kakad arti and indicated that we would be wearing dress in Kakad Arti which we were unable to understand. After having darshan two times in Samadhi Mandir, i and my mother went near Mukh darshan window to again have a glance of Lord Baba’s pretty face. There we saw the person who was instrumental in forwarding dress to concerned personnel. He said, “Baba is wearing your dress”. I said, “But He was to wear it in noon arti”. He answered, “In morning after Kakad Arti, there was delay in getting booked dress, so your dress was forwarded being the first one in row”. It seems Lord Baba has His Own plan and wish to wear dress earlier than promised.
Now since we had VIP passes for noon arti, we had to report at 11:00 A.M. We reached near gate on time and were waiting for our turn. At exactly 11:45 A.M. we reached near hall standing on steps for security guards to open bars for us to be in queue in main hall of Samadhi Mandir. We were summoned to come forward in next fifteen minutes and what I saw, Lord Baba had changed His dress from Purple to Brown which is one of my favourite colour. Just then at about 12:05 P.M. noon arti started. We attended arti with all sorts of pulls and pushes which made my mind go unstable and many negative thoughts grew stronger in me. After arti we were in queue to be out of Samadhi Mandir after getting near to Lord Baba. In arti there was one poojari, young, pleasant personality and very energetic. I saw him outside when we were waiting near gate. He caught my attention there itself. But I did not get any clue that he was to be present in noon arti to meet me. I have my Shri Sai Satcharitra with me all the time in Shirdi and carry it wherever I go. In such a rush, pulls and pushes, poojaris were not consecrating anything. They were only interested that devotees should leave soon to make room for many others waiting behind them. While I was nearing Samadhi, I had eye-contact with that young poojari. When I reached near Samadhi, I gave him my Shri Sai Satcharitra to be consecrated boldly. I was prepared that he will do it just as a formality or just because it is his duty. But Lord Baba had something else for me. The poojari calmly not minding other devotees, opened up my Shri Sai Satcharitra, placed it on Samadhi, put petals of flowers, closed it, placed “Chocolate flavour Kalakand” (bengali sweet made of milk and my favourite one) on it and returned it to me safely. I was in tears to be blessed so. I remembered Hemadpant’s feeling that Lord Baba did not bless Him inspite of His pure and selfless service of seven years while Mr. Sathe was blessed just by one reading of Shri Guru Charitra. He was sent to Shama on knowing such feelings by our Lord. Hemadpant was then blessed through Shama’s story of Radhabai. Same were my feelings in morning and now He completely changed it. He answered from within, “It is necessary for Me to wear dress offered by you, I did so. Why does then Kakad arti or Noon arti make difference to you now?” Nothing was left to complain now. I was satisfied. Now a days in each and every event of my life, I am reminded of events of Shri Sai Satcharitra. This is because i listen audio of Shri Sai Satcharitra whole day. Before coming for noon arti, while in queue I randomly opened my Shri Sai Satcharitra to read any chapter which He wanted me to read. I was asked to read chapter 18-19 and the same He did practically. Oh how Lively is our Lord in His Samadhi also! He has never left us to go to heaven. His Earthly Body is calm and at peace in His Samadhi while His Spirit is ever running to satisfy His devotees. I kissed my Shri Sai Satcharitra when it was returned to me and shared Prasad with my parents. After having lunch we went to Parayan Hall to read one chapter of Shri Sai Satcharitra and then sat in Dakshin Mukhi Hanuman Mandir for some time. Again we went in Samadhi Mandir premises, roamed about and had darshan in all small temples of Lord Ganesh, Lord Shiva and Lord Shani.
It was Thursday, so we had to light incense sticks and dhoop sticks at Dhuni situated in Gurusthan. We purchased the same and went to our lodging to refresh ourselves for Chavadi procession that night. We returned near Samadhi Mandir at about 7:30 P.M. and found crowd settled for procession. Luckily we also booked our seats in front of Dwarkamai and enjoyed procession to our heart’s content. We felt so blessed to be a part of it, listened bhajans and sing along arti. The Sai brother again wished to arrange VIP pass for us for next day Kakad arti. The reporting time was 3:15 A.M., so we did not attend night arti on Thursday and returned to our lodging after procession.
Next day early morning we started for Kakad arti and again I was disturbed due to heavy push and pulls during arti and I was unable to concentrate. We went up to our lodging to sleep for next few hours at 6 A.M. it was departure day for us, a day which we never want to come. We took breakfast near our lodging and so were late for noon arti in Dwarkamai. When we reached near Dwarkamai, we all automatically headed towards Chavadi. The arti had already started. Few ladies were seated in Chavadi. Surprising fact was that there were two empty places on either sides exactly in front of portrait of Lord Baba. I and my mother quickly grabbed seats and sat for arti. It was the most beautiful experience of this trip for me. So calm and mesmerizing. Though arti was going on, I was feeling calm inside. While arti was going on, Lord Baba again said from inside, “Did I not give you peace now. Why you exhaust yourself by coming to arti in Samadhi Mandir? From hence you do not attend any arti in Samadhi Mandir because you get disturbed and then all the while you are surrounded with such feelings. You are not able to concentrate as you wish for”. So now I decided I wont attend any arti in Samadhi Mandir even if I am offered VIP pass. Attending arti in Dwarkamai and Chavadi is far more peaceful than being in Samadhi Mandir. After arti we had wonderful darshan at Dwarkamai where we were allowed to spend some time. After lunch we decided to have last darshan of this trip in Samadhi Mandir. It was again blessed by Lord Baba. All four days, we did small small shopping while passing by shops. On last day, we had about one hour left with us. So I purchased few things to gift to my hubby, brother and Sai brothers. Even I was gifted beautiful portrait of Lord Baba’s eyes by Sai brother who accompanied us to Shirdi. Our bus was at 7 P.M. and we took leave from Lord Baba in Dwarkamai at 6 P.M. to check out from lodging in time. Bus reached the point just in time and we started journey to our another home from our favourite home and reached there safely.
An Update on February 28, 2012:
Inside i wished to have picture of Lord Sai Baba wearing dress taken for Him. But i got to know that it was not possible for reasons i do not wish to reveal here. As promised i told my brother to take screenshots of live darshan after 12:00 P.M on Thursday. But Lord Baba willed something else and time passed by like sand in hand. By the time we were assured that Lord Baba had wore dress after Kakad Arti, i could not contact my brother. I was confident from within that Lord Baba will fulfill this wish too. But how, was the question. This question was answered by Him today. I received below mail and i was more than overwhelmed to see it as a pleasant surprise. Please see below what the devotee writes:
Hetal Ji Please do not publish my mail id and name.
I’m from USA. I already posted my previous experience and it was published as Sai Nav Guruvar Vrat – A Real Boon
Hetal Ji, I could see Baba through your eyes while reading your Shirdi experience. After reading your experience and looking at your pictures, I realized I might have the photo of baba in purpule dress Hetal ji offered and thought of sharing with you immediately. This is how it happened.
I have the habit of taking screenshots of live darshan every time I watch Baba live. I have been doing this from the past one year. After reading your experience I immediately went through the pictures I saved. I’m glad I saved that picture. I save it by the Date and Time (USA Time). This screenshot was taken from live darshan on Feb 22nd 2012 7:00PM which means Feb 23rd 5:30 AM India time. It’s my pleasure to share this picture. Purple is also my favorite color.
My other experiences in Shirdi: