Aum Sri Sai Ram
After many months of preparation and anticipation, 17 of the brothers joining the UK 2015 Grama Seva group met at Heathrow at 10:30 on Friday morning to start the journey to Prashanti Nilayam. Finally...
moment the group had been waiting for! the
With Swami's Grace, all parts of the physical journey to Prashanti went quite smoothly. The group departed Heathrow at 14:15 UK time, and reached India, Bengaluru airport, at 09:05 Indian time. After a quick stop for lunch, the group reached Prashanti at around 13:45 on Saturday. It had been a long journey, but it only served to enhance the spiritual excitement in the group!
Upon arrival in Prashanti, the group was welcomed with open arms and a radiant smile by Sri Ajit Popat (affectionately known as Puppet), who we learnt had been preparing for our arrival, for his UK boys, for many months. Such is his love for us that many of the initial logistical preparations we thought we'd have to do were already sorted by him directly, even though we never asked him to! But most of all, Puppet had already given a lot to the group emotionally and spiritually, and the group definitely appreciates that.
Most brothers then unpacked and freshened up in their rooms. Accommodation block N1 in the ashram has recently been refurbished, so the frequency of encounters with creepy crawlies had been very low thus far...
The group met again with Puppet at 15:15 in our
. Puppet revealed that the theme for this year's group is "Samarpanam", i.e. mandir surrender to the Lord. He gave the group a complete of what's to come, including giving more detail on the daily routine (including a "generous" 04:45 start for morning prayers), and a stellar list of potential speakers for the group over the first week. He also discussed doing a group performance, probably on Dassera day. More on that in later blog posts... flavour
The group went for afternoon Darshan to the Sai Kulwant Hall at 16:30, the first of this trip. It started with a shortened (but still
) Vedam session. This is because children from Sikkim (a North Indian state) performed some beautiful plays in front of Swami. The first was a practical example of "love all, serve all" in action, i.e. energising out those in desperate need, and in return, only asking instead that service be passed on to others who really need it. A technically proficient and sweet dance of Krishna with his Gopikas followed. The last act was the story of a thief who threatened temple residents, but they made him believe that he could steal a lifetime of loot from a rich man's son on the river bank, and they prayed to Lord Krishna to save them from retribution if the thief found out they lied. The thief made it to the river bank, only for Krishna to give him dazzling Darshan and to transform him forever! This story shows that with the Lord's will, even the most hopeless soul can be shown back to a Godly path. helping
At the end of afternoon Darshan, the group got to touch the Maha Samadhi for the first time, which was an instant pacifier for the group, a calming of the mind and soul. The group had their first dinner in the Western canteen: the more
amongst the party remembered that Saturday is pizza night, so this was the obvious choice! After-dinner activities comprised many logistical bits to sort out, and then many of the group crashed knowledgable their beds and straight into deep sleep, in preparation for a 04:45 start... on to
Jai Sai Ram