Brindavan is Sri Sathya Baba’s ashram in Whitefield. I had heard much of this place from various sources. There is a college and a hostel for boys. The hospital is renowned for its excellent medical facilities. It is said that this hospital has no cash counter. They run exclusively on donations. They do not charge a single paisa for their services. There are critics amongst us who claim that most donors do it for the sole purpose of tax avoidance.
The architecture is nothing spectacular but it serves its purpose well. Since the Baba was in Puttaparthi, Brindavan was deserted. Except for the boys – dressed in clean white shirts and pants – walking to college at nine this morning, the place was lifeless. How is one to find spirituality in this place?
Baba’s philiosophy is less about prayer and more about work. I do not know much of his teachings but he appears to have given people a love for work. Karma yoga is that basis of his teachings. He derives inspiration from the great stories of Hinduism, the greatest of which is the duty that Arjuna performed on the battlefield of Kurushetra. Through work, people find his teachings practical and personally satisfying. A popular phrase of his is,
Hands that help are better than lips that pray.
In an age of materialism and individualism, where critics abound and everything is questioned and the metaphysical dismissed without much thought, a direct and conscious approach to discovering God does not work well. Work and selfless service works better. The results are visible. The process is tangible. Volunteering in its many forms is already popular in many parts of the world, particularly outside India. Spirituality is secondary. It is simply a by-product of work that is performed with devotion.
Baba’s philosophy is nothing new. There must be something more about him, an aura or personal charm that draws people towards him. He has a secular approach, obvious in the logo of his organization, which appeals to a greater audience.
I missed lunch at the ashram and good places to eat are hard to come by near the ashram. The reason perhaps is the good value for money of the food served at the ashram. I had lunch here at Rs. 8 for a basic thali. It does not come with vegetables which has to be ordered separately.
Before lunch I took a long walk on the road towards Hoskote. After some minutes I turned on a dusty road going left. I passed a village, then on to some fields where cattle grazed under the scorching sun. Stray dogs wandered around without being threatening. A few boys washed their buffalos in a narrow little stream. Some others bathed by water bursting out of a tank before it goes to water the surrounding fields. A boy looked after five buffalos. When I asked him why he doesn’t go to school instead he had no answer. A short walk as this can give opportunity to spot rare and colourful birds. It is not so rare to see ant-hills by the dozen, some as high as six feet.
After lunch, I sat in the ashram for a couple of hours reading Bhagavata Vahini, written by Sai Baba. The quietness of the place was not very different from the noise of inner Bangalore, but only because quietness is nothing more than a state of mind. It takes a greater mind to find quietness in the tumultous heart of any adolescent city.
I took the 0718 train from Bangalore East to Whitefield. This was the train to Marikuppam. Return train, one of the many in the afternoon. Rs. 4 one way.
At the ashram. Rs. 8 for a basic thali.