Experiencing the Glory of
God - Rydalmere Sai Centre, Sydney, Australia - Retreat April 2004
was just a notion “Why not go on a retreat?”. It was only a tiny
drop of thought that fell into the ocean of thinking minds of
Rydalmere Sai Centre. Would you ever imagine creating waves from a
tiny drop? The Sai children at Rydalmere rolled in to action in
various fronts. Accommodation, program, logistics, food, and other
essentials fell in to place like an easy jigsaw puzzle. Thirty-Six
Sai devotees (adults and children) registered their interest to
join the retreat.
On a nippy Saturday
morning 24 April 2004, divinity was awaiting to unveil its glory
at Warragamba, to all of us.
We gathered at
Rydalmere at 7.30AM and set off to Warragamba Dam Conference
Centre. Cars rolled through the rural roads of the leafy suburb
Wassie and reached the gates of the Warragamba Conference centre.
The towering eucalyptus trees, little cottages partially hidden by
grassy slopes of mother earth, chirping birds, clear blue sky and
the shining water in the Warragamba dam, all welcomed us with warm
heart. They all were waiting for us to have our company. The rays
from the morning sun touched the water surface and danced in joy.
Mother earth was happy to let her children run and play across her
devotees were quickly setting up Bhagawan’s picture, the lamps and
the rest of the altar for bhajans. Retreat program & duty rosters
sprung up on the walls. After light refreshments and morning tea,
we sat at our Lord’s lotus feet, to praise our Lord with bhajans.
Bhajans resonated through the hearts reminding us that it was our
Lord’s will that was being fulfilled at Warragamba. Nothing would
have materialised without Swami’s will.
Our first activity
in the retreat after salutations to the supreme was “Connecting
with Nature”. We gathered near the slopes on the banks of
Warragamba. Sunrays beamed though the eucalyptus branches and a
cool breeze caressed our faces. The trees danced in joy because
they too have planned this activity with God, to have our company.
talked about the beauty of nature and the need to connect to the
surroundings. We did a few yoga routine exercises with rhythmic
music in the background to energise our body & mind to spring in
to action. After singing two devotional songs we sat down to
connect with mother earth in meditation. With a beautiful gentle
music in the background Saranya’s recorded voice filled the
atmosphere. “Just ask the trees how is life, is it enjoyable? Take
time to listen to them” echoed across the slopes. When we opened
our eyes, the trees and the sky were asking us “How is life, is it
It was divine love
all around. We became the trees and the trees became us. We became
God and God became
us. God showed us what he means by “oneness of all beings”.
It was time for
lunch. The devotees who were on the duty roster, served the lunch
with love. All stood around the lunch table and chanted the food
“mantra” and offered food to our mother/farther the Lord, before
laying our hands on it. The food that was served with lots of love
and affection was delicious. Devotees chipped in washing up the
dishes and the lunch table & kitchen were cleaned up in a flash.
next event in the agenda was the walkabout. This was to explore
more of the Warragamba nature. Old and young gathered at the
slopes, on the banks of the reservoir. Some chose to stay behind,
as the slopes were rugged and steep, the rest setoff through the
trees, towards the water. Some without proper footwear also joined
the walking party.
Mother earth kept us
all intact until we reached the banks of Warragamba. The children
were perched on the edges of the rocks, basking in the beauty of
divine creation. The next challenge was to climb back to base.
Everyone found his or her way back to the top with consummate
ease, safely. Our Lord was the shepherd and we were his flock. He
brought us back safely.
By this time a few had gathered in the main hall singing some
folksongs bringing the memories of the past. Slowly it gathered
momentum and some of the 30year old big hits filled the room.
Programs rolled on
perfectively as if it was rehearsed. Yes, the Lord had already
rehearsed it and our experience was only a video recording that
was being replayed.
all gathered in the hall for a workshop on “The impact of & the
progress under Swami’s teachings”. Swami spoke through Sarath who
conducted the workshop.
The introduction was brilliant. Devotees revealed where they were
before their devotion to Swami and where they are now. During the
discussion, we walked for miles in to our past in silence and
brought back only one thing in our hand; “Divine love” though
mentioned in different words. For Sai seekers, Swami fills the
time that has passed with His vast presence. All memories become
an illusion. Finally, we will remember only the present. Our Athma
ourselves for the evening Bhajans. After singing to praise the
Lord, we all gathered at the hall occupied by the Balvikas kids
and the youth. They had practised a play on the subject “Water”
and a study circle based on “Problems faced by kids growing in the
kids, acting as teacher and students discussing the present day
crisis on water, enacted the play. Although it was a short script,
the acting was creative and the kids showed their prowess in
creating a play on their own without any guidance or supervision.
Subsequently, the kids explained the points they discussed in the
study circle. The subject “Problems faced in growing in the modern
western society” was well discussed. They asked serious questions
(which looked serious to them at their age) from the parents. At
the same time they were also diligent to find answers for the very
A small snag hit our
program. One (Tong) of the two Thai students (Tong and Ni)
suddenly developed an asthma attack in the night. All attended to
Tong with lots of TLC. Finally, Dushy who brought the kids to the
retreat sacrificed her share of happiness and drove the girls back
to Sydney. Tong was treated immediately at Ryde Hospital and with
Swami’s grace she recovered quickly.
Swami sent all of us
to bed in peace of mind. He had prepared something special for us
for the next morning.
A few of us were up
and ready by 5.00AM and had gathered outside. It was cold but
comfortable. We set off from our main hall, singing “Nagara
Sankeerthanam”. We went around to the other cottages and sang
bhajans to wake the others with divine music. Slowly people crept
out of their cottages and joined the joy of singing. The east was
soon lighting up for the sunrise. The experience was beyond
explanation. Some of us did this for the first time in our lives
and realised that God had planned this all along our life without
telling us. God’s love was the unknown, now being revealed to us.
We concluded the
Nagara Sankeerthanam at 6.00AM and entered the bhajan hall for
further proceedings. Devotees chanted “OmKar”, then “Suprapaatham”
in a fabulous rhythm and continued with Sai Asthothram (108 names)
and then continued with Bhajans. Swami had brought Puttaparthi to
us. The vibrations were beyond comprehension. Devotees were
bathing in Swami’s bliss and it was perfect timing to enter in to
meditation. Devotees were free to move as they wished (quietly)
but the meditation continued for twenty to thirty minutes. The
recorded meditation commentary filled the hall. God took us in to
the world of light to show us our original
form of our souls. At the end of the meditation the hall was
filled with the divine energy and it was like being inside
Puttaparthi Mandir, after Swami’s darshan. If it can be explained,
it wouldn’t be real.
refreshments, we gathered in the conference hall for a
presentation on “Water and Us”. Mohan’s presentation with
projector using “power point program” was very informative. The
presentation was such that even a layman could understand the
causes that have created the present water crisis on earth. The
devotees were so involved with the program and they had relentless
questions on every issue. We all went in to the presentation
feeling “Water is part of us” and when we left the presentation,
the feeling was “We are part of water too”. It is now apparent
that every human in the modern world (who are mainly responsible
for the degradation of earth’s water resources) should go through
this education. The innocent uneducated nomad from the village
knows to look after the natural water resources and only the
well-educated businessman need to be educated not to pollute the
water resources. Mohan nailed it well.
As water was one of
the focal points of the retreat, we gathered again above the banks
of Warragamba reservoir to invoke Divine blessings with the
powerful “Gayathri Mantra”. All sat on the grass and chanted the
Mantra 108 times sending light and blessings to the water element
that keeps us alive on this planet. The chanting was concluded
with “Araarthi” to the water that was stored in the reservoir.
Water, our lifeline, received our blessings and in return
bless the whole humanity with the free flow of its energy, for
very many years to come.
Divya joined us in
the main hall to present his experiences with Swami when he led a
music group to Puttaparthi. His narration was full of humour that
highlighted Swami’s leelas in a unique way.
Divya also paid
tribute to Pushpa acca for her relentless work for the Sai
movement. We the members of the Rydalmere Sai Centre always
appreciate the sacrifices Pushpa acca has made. She has given her
house to us for our devotion to Swami and Divya’s tribute was
timely and fitting.
adults joined in a game of charades that was filled with lots of
fun. To add to the fun adults joined in a short softball cricket
game with the kids.
It was time to wind
up, to say good-bye to the trees, the grass, and the water. Swami
staged the retreat to invoke love that is hidden below the murky
minds of every soul. With great hesitation to part, devotees
embraced each other with pure love and affection and bid goodbye.
The hugs went to the trees, the birds and all inanimate objects
that shared their love with us.
We were back home in
It was not a long
vacation. It was not a flight across the oceans. It was not an
expensive cruise around the continent.
Swami took us on an
hour drive within a weekend, to reveal to us the glory of God’s
creation. He made us to travel long distances within our mind to
discover the divinity within us. We love God and God is everyone.
The question being
asked now is, “When is the next retreat?”
--------------------------Brothers, Sisters & Children of the
Rydalmere Sathya Sai Centre
E-Magazine, June 15, 2004