Visiting Puttaparti again–when you can’t see Sai Baba physically

It was in 2008 that I made my last sojourn to Puttaparti and could actually see Swami (Sri Sathya Sai Baba) walking around the devotees and people who had come there to have his darshan. He was already using the golf-carts, cars or the wheelchair to come to the Sai Kulwant Hall. So, it was a bit of distance that you felt when you sit in the lines and yet get minimal chances of seeing him walking–somebody described it poetically: Love walking on two feet!

Love walking on two feet!

I was accompanied by my wife and my daughter (both went there for the first time). We traveled by Indigo from IGIA to Bengaluru  Airport. We noticed that the taxi from there to Puttaparti cost anywhere between 3,000-3,500/- INR, and we could go to the bus-stand in the city, we may be able to catch a direct bus. Eventually, we took a bus from the airport to Majestic Bus Stand and from there, we took a bus directly to Puttaparti. The journey time got doubled because of this but the cost was almost 1/3 of what we would have paid for the taxi.

The road from Bangaluru to Puttaparti is a treat for travelers. It’s one of those roads where you would like to drive a motorcycle all by yourself. On both sides, small hilltops, plateau and small villages kept welcoming us and we reached Prashanti Nilayam in the evening.

Unlike earlier, now you need to get your luggage checked before you could enter the Ashram. But, it’s easier to get a room inside the Ashram nowadays because the crowd is comparatively less. We settled in quickly and started exploring the Ashram and the village.

The activities are carried out just as they used to be though there are small changes that make sense. Now, there are no token lines, because the crowd is anyhow manageable. The Gopuram gate is opened during Darshan timings to allow people to enter from that side also. In the North Indian canteen, you will be given a bill for whatever food you eat. Western canteen has also started issuing pre-paid coupons just like South Indian canteen used to do. In Chaitanya Jyoti museum, they don’t show you the video of the creation of the universe (which is actually sad)!

My wife felt very good and she kept saying that she would like to stay for more days. My daughter of course too enjoyed a lot. I personally felt Swami’s physical presence missing. The first time I bowed in front of Swami’s Samadhi, I could not control myself and my eyes welled up.

But, as they say, it’s always great to visit your mother’s house. I felt very peaceful and rejuvenated.

Jai Sai Ram!

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