5:50 AM

Its evening time….

Location: New English School, Near Kherwadi Police Station, Govt. Colony, Bandra[East.],Mumbai-400051.

Here on every Thursday evening the environment is encompassed with the consciousness of bhakti…. melodious songs filled with the bhakti vibrate in all the directions…. minds delighted with the fragrance of the pure incense…. the entire atmosphere is besieged in the emotion of bhakti…. Crowds in lakhs…. in spite of that complete discipline is followed…. All over Hari Om Hari Om is being called out…. Who are these people?…. For what reason have they gathered here?…. What is happening here?…. Many such questions arise in the mind of a person who is seeing all this for the first time.

This scene has become a very familiar one for those who live close by. But this is a very astonishing sight for a stranger in this area.

Thousands of devotees gather here to benefit from the Marathi and Hindi discourses of Sadguru Shri Aniruddha Bapu. Sadguru’s first discourse in Marathi is at 7.30 in the evening and the second one in Hindi starts after that. From the afternoon itself, the devotees start assembling in long queues outside the discourse site and many of them write the Ramnaam notebooks whilst waiting there. After the school gets over, the devotees are allowed to enter the external ground where a stage is set up and decorated for Bapu’s discourse. Very soon that ground, the two halls of the school and many classrooms too are filled to their capacity with devotees. A big screen is also arranged in the ground opposite the school to enable the devotees to enjoy Bapu’s discourse without any discomfort. All the open spaces around the school also are soon filled and tightly packed with loving devotees. Now all are just waiting to have a glimpse of their dearest beloved Sadguru Bapuji.

The invigorating fragrance of the purifying incense fills the air all around with pleasure. To add to this the auspicious devotional songs being played create an aura of intense bhakti. Here each person greets one another by saying “Hari Om”, that’s how from all the four sides there is the proclamation of “Hari Om”. All the volunteers are engrossed in their duties. Around 7 p.m the welcome ceremony of the “ Granthraj Shrimadpurushartha” written by Sadguru Shri Aniruddhaji is initiated by the musical and opportune sounds of the bugle. Then with immense respect the devotees carry the Granthraj from the entrance to the dais in a palanquin and place the same in the “Meghdambari” set there.

All around one can see very disciplined volunteers. On both the sides of the path that goes from the entrance to the dais, one will find devotees standing with arati and flower plates in their hands to shower flowers and do the observe the welcome ceremonial. There are two official escorts as well as two people with bugles at the main gate. All are now ready and just waiting eagerly for Shri Aniruddhaji to arrive.

Just then Sadguruji’s car arrives and on seeing the same, the message “ Bapu has arrived, Bapu has arrived” starts circulating. Sadguruji’s car halts at the main gate and each one tries their best to get just a glimpse of Him.

When we hear the word “Sadguru”, our mind imagines a picture of somebody donned with saffron clothes, a big mark on the forehead, a lot of bead necklaces around the neck and long matted hair on the head. But on seeing Bapu, his refreshing uniqueness immediately appeals to the heart. Sadguru and wearing a shirt and pant? Yes! Sadguru Aniruddhaji’s lifestyle is in keeping with the present times. Bapu who wears a black pant and a white shirt is a family man, a practicing doctor, who has graduated from the Mumbai University with a degree in M.D (medicine). Even though he has household duties, His intense personal desire and claim is “ I will fill this entire world with happiness and joy”. “ I am your friend” and it is only in this role that Bapu has a dialogue with all his devotees on every Thursday.

Seeing Shri Aniruddhaji alight from His car is like seeing an emperor get off his chariot. As soon as Bapuji is seen, all greet Him enthusiastically with “Bapuji Hari Om, Bapuji Hari Om” from all the corners. Along with Bapuji - Pujya Nandamai, Pujya Suchit Dada, Pujya Pipadada, and Pujya Sameer Dada are also welcomed. At the same time all the devotees sway to the tunes of the famous abhang “ Ala re, Hari, Ala re” written by saint Dnyaneswarji. Bapu proceeds very slowly from the main gate to the dais accepting the arati and the showering of the flowers from the devotees standing on both sides of the path as well as acknowledging the love and greetings of all those who are seated on both sides of the path he walks on. People are enchanted by the royal stride of the “ Rajadhiraj Maharaj Aniruddhaji”. As soon as Bapu arrives, the environment is filled with the sounds of the bugle, conch shell, and bells. “Let Bapu see me only once”, “ Bapu please smile at me”, “atleast once let me see Bapu from very close”, with these intense desires in their minds, each devotee keeps gazing at Bapu with love overflowing in their hearts.

A few minutes after Bapuji’s welcome the Upasana begins. In this Upasana the jaaps of Shri Sainathji, Akkalkotji, and Shri Swami Samarthaji are chanted. Also the 11 promises of Shrisainathji, Panchmukh Hanumatkavach, and Ghorkashtodharan strotra are also recited. For the Upasana the “Shalingram”, “Trishul”and “Jaapmala” given by Saibaba to Hemadpant are also set on the stage. Bapuji had claimed all these articles from Hemadpant’s grandson Appa Dhabolkar and his wife Meena Vahini when He manifested Himself. Along with these sacred objects, the pictures of Shri Dattaguruji, Shri Sainathji and Shri Swami Samarthaji and the Vishnupaad are also present on the stage. On one side of the stage is the “Meghdambri” where the Shrimadpurushartha rests and on the other side is a huge photograph of Shri Hanumanji. The flag of the organization is also hoisted on both the sides of the platform.

As soon as the upasana gets over, the recitation begins. Every Thursday Vedic Strotras like the “Purushsukta”, “Rudradhyay”, “Narayansukta”, “Suparnasukta”, “Venkatesh Mangalshasanam” are recited in rotation. At this time even the consecration of the small statue of Dattaguruji is performed. When the recitation begins the “Aniruddha Agnihotra” is also lit up, in which till the second discourse of Bapuji, the devotees make a holy offering out of free will.

Now starts the first discourse in Bapuji’s melodious voice. In this Marathi discourse Bapuji explains one by one the different aspects of the “Shri Ramraksha Strotra”. No discourse of Bapu contains difficult vocabulary or hard to understand spiritual concepts. Bapu converses in an easy flowing manner and in a simple easy to follow language that even an illiterate can understand and apply in his life. Bapu explains the toughest concepts by giving examples from every day life situations, making it extremely simple to follow. Every devotee gets the feeling that this discourse is talking about my life and is meant for me only.

Everybody finds something or the other in the discourse. Each one finds some answer to the questions arising in their lives through the discourse. In this way Bapu shows us the way to progress spiritually and reach God even while leading the life of a householder. This guidance comes to us through the discourse. To achieve the highest aim of human birth i.e to attain God, I now do not have to leave my family and go and wander in the forests. How I can balance both and that too in this lifetime itself is what Bapu guides through His pure and holy words on every Thursday. His endearing voice echoes in the ears for a long time even after the discourse. The first discourse ends with the singing of the prayer “Om Sai, Shri Sai, Jai Jai Sairam”.

Now the devotees are waiting eagerly to get Bapu’s blessings. Foremost along with Pujya Pipadada, Pujya Sameerdada, the volunteers chant “Nandaramna Aniruddha Aniruddha”. After this they do bow in front of Bapu by lying down completely and then the Darshan begins. While the queues are moving to take Bapu’s blessings, the Hanumanchalisa, Naam gajjar, Aniruddha chalisa, and the Hanumannashtak are recited. At this time the devotees can even go around Bapuji’s dais and bow down to Him. At the time of getting Bapu’s blessings, the people are overwhelmed with deep emotions. There is complete discipline when the crowds move ahead in a line saying “Hari Om Bapu”. Nobody really wants to move away from front of Bapu when they get to see Him. While taking darshan some burst into tears, for some tears overflow from the eyes, some say “thanks” and some are just filled with joy and happiness. Each one experiences pure joy at this time. Devotees come with infants seeking Bapu’s blessings and pray to Bapu to bless their little ones.

. Some who are waiting in the line are either chanting Bapu’s name, a strotra or are writing in the Ramnaam notebook. All over the discourse ground, there are stalls in different places exhibiting the various activities of the organization. These cover Bapu’s 13 point program, the Annapoorna yojna, Aniruddha bank for the blind, aniruddha bank of Ramnaam, the Saisacharit panchsheel exams, Shrimad Purushartha granth, udi and other counters like lost and found. All the volunteers willingly participate to organize the cleanliness of the place where the discourse is held. Even highly educated volunteers participate whole-heartedly and humbly in the cleanliness work and at the footwear counters. They do not let their social status come in the way while performing their duties.

Each devotee with the heart overflowing and brimming with Sadguru’s love, turns homewards with just one hope and longing, to see Him again next Thursday…

Hari Om

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