The Beckoning of Shirdi Sai Baba
It’s been a long time wish of my mother to visit Shirdi Sai Baba. I have often heard my elders say that one cannot reach God’s altar unless He summons. Probably true! My mother’s wish remained unfulfilled for several years until few weeks back.
We left from our hotel in Shirdi and reached the temple around 8am. I went inside to get the VIP passes. As assured, our names were found in the register and the passes were issued to us. Due to these passes, we didn’t have to wait in queue for long and in about 15 mins we were all standing in front of Sai Baba. It’s pity that one doesn’t get more than a few moments in front of Baba. Everyone is pushed out to keep the queue moving. Finally, Sai Baba beckoned my mother and us.
It was our first visit to Shirdi. I couldn’t plan much for the trip and had little idea what to expect. We reached Mumbai on a Saturday morning. My friend, Mayank, had booked a taxi for our trip to Shirdi, Shani Shinganapur and Trambakeswar (near Nasik).
On our way from Mumbai to Shirdi, we passed by at least a few hundreds devotees of Sai Baba who were walking to Shirdi. Our driver, Sriram told us that during winter months this is very common where devotees from all around Shirdi walk more than 100 kms for Sai Baba’s darshan. As per him, it gets very crowded in November and December and especially in the weekends there are lot of visitors.
Our plan of darshan was next day morning, which was a Sunday in December. Mayank could not arrange VIP passes for us. As per Sriram, during this time and without the VIP passes, we must be prepared to queue up for couple of hours for the darshan. Looking at the rush and the crowd on reaching Shirdi, I believed him.
Each morning, there’s an aarti at the temple at 4:30am which is called Kakad aarti. It is said to be very good and everyone who comes to Shirdi wishes to attend it. This results in a long queue for this aarti. It being a Saturday evening, the queue was expected to be much longer. The receptionist at our hotel suggested us to queue up from 11pm onwards. Even for normal darshan in the morning hours, he suggested a queuing time of at least 3 to4 hours. “Doesn’t sound good”, I said to myself.
Sriram offered to help. He called up one of his friends to see if he can help with the VIP passes for Kakad aarti but he couldn’t. He then said to me, “Let me call the PA of my boss. If he makes a call here, it might help”. He came back to me after sometime and said, “The PA said that it is too late for Kakad aarti as the temple’s office is closed now. He can call in the morning at 8am when the office opens. We can then go, get the passes and have darshan”. I said, “Ok, this sounds good. Please go ahead”. I wrote down our names which he then SMSed to the PA.
Earlier that evening, we had stopped on our way for a tea and a restroom break. Over the tea, Sriram told me that he is a driver of a MLA. Since the politician was out on a tour, he was driving for the rental agency. This was impressive to know that we were being chauffered by a politician’s driver :).
My mother later told me, “Baba descended in form of Sriram. When he beckons, he also creates bridges for us to cross.”