23 Feb 2003, Pune
The caravan of buses pulled over to the side of the road near a tiny hamlet named Bharvati. Many children were washing their family’s clothes at a pump near the road. They froze in midair at the amazing sight of five orange buses and many Western faces. While we waited for Amma to arrive, some of the group played with the children and took photos. We discovered that they belonged to a nearby ashram school that housed over one hundred children. We could never understand exactly whose ashram it was, but the children were very sweet and well-mannered.
It was decided to eat lunch in a shaded area next to their small, simple school. The children and a few villagers gathered to watch us arrange Amma’s chair and arrange ourselves around it. Soon Amma pulled up and sat among us like a blooming lotus surrounded by bees. Some boys perched on a wall like little monkeys and Amma looked at them and laughed. Some elderly villagers dressed in the spotless white dhoti, shirt and cap of the Maharashtrian farmer stood respectfully watching. We chanted the Fifteenth Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita and ate our lunch.
After lunch we told spiritual stories and sang “Karunya Murti”. Amma stood up and began walking to Her camper. She called for prasad and the children surrounded her looking for sweets. An elderly man with a cane hobbled over to Amma and painfully bowed. Amma seemed delighted to see him and pulled him next to her. He stood on Her right side with eyes beaming and a group of boys stood on her left.
It was a lovely picture; the elderly man with bright eyes and a sweet smile and the young boys on the other with the Mother of All in the middle. Then Amma walked to her vehicle and with a last smile drove away. The villagers gathered talking softly and inspecting their ash packets. The children sucked their sweets and followed us as we washed our plates and prepared to board the buses. The children gathered to wave good-by. We were sure this day would be the subject of conversation for some time to come.
This road from Nagpur through Aurangabad to Pune has been traversed by pilgrims from time immemorial. Many great saints have walked along this road or ridden in a bullock cart. Amma follows this same route in a vehicle appropriate for the twenty-first century. Eventually the villagers will surely come to know that a great saint chose their village to bless with Her presence. We can only guess at what benefits they will derive from this visit of Divine Grace.