By Lachman Balani
PUNE: Darshan! The word itself brings a sense of excitement to one’s mind conjuring up a vision of something sacred and enlightened.
“I had visited two churches in Goa and they had museums on its saints. That’s what made me come up with a concept like Darshan as a dedication to my Guru,” says Dada J.P Vaswani, current life force and helmsman of the Sadhu Vaswani Mission in Pune and its numerous centres around the globe.
And thus it came to pass. After engaging a highly advanced and savoir-faire technology and management team and with generous donations from his followers, the 3D museum Darshan was finally launched in August 2011 with the blessings of the revered Dada J.P.Vaswani, and the presence of famed Bollywood actor Aamir Khan, an ardent Vaswani follower.
Set in the mini metropolis of Pune, India, at the Sadhu Vaswani mission, Darshan is the new wonder of the world! It is a totally mind-bending experience of the story of Sadhu Vaswani. The denouement of his life and teachings of what the world and humans should do to give value, direction and purpose to their lives is told through an artful cutting edge multimedia presentation that uses both traditional means like Madame Tussaud style wax figures and mechanical movements to modern 3D computer animation and holograms.
Sadhu Vaswani was a sage, a seer, a poet and a towering educationist who also enjoyed playing volley ball (yes, he was a sportive personality as well) before taking on his spiritual path and living his life as a fakir.
On November 25, 1879 late in the night when the town was asleep, Sadhu Vaswani was born; a symbolic sign, it would seem, that he was the chosen one to awaken the world to what it meant to be alive!
However, Sadhuji always maintained that the day he was born was the day he had the ecstatic experience that showed him the light! This is narrated extremely well in the 3D museum with effects that are redolent of the revelation at the end of Stanley Kubrick’s timeless classic “2001, A Space Odyssey”.
As one moves from room to room of this fascinating museum with the help of an expert tour guide, one is treated to stunning audio visual stimuli. The museum is truly a stimulating feast for all the senses. No wonder it has won a certificate of excellence from the popular website tripadvisor.com as one of the must-see attractions of the world!
One particular highlight is the story of how Sahduji was caught in a torrential storm and he started singing the powerful bhajan (hymn) ‘deenbandhu dinanaath, meri dori tere hath’ (O friend and lord of us all, you hold the string of my life), and the storm subsided and the boat and its occupants reached the shore unscathed. This is all told by using old style mechanical gear movements and powerful sound effects!
Emotionally moving and spiritually uplifting, the museum provides an unforgettable and illuminating experience to the viewers. The visitors are taken through a series of immersive and impressive spatial involvements rich in state of the art audio, visual and multimedia effects finally ending on a road through a lush and colourful forest with chirping birds and resplendent butterflies reminiscent of the one followed by Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.
However, this is no musical fantasy, at the end of it there is a true wizard- Sadhu Vaswani!
Following this marvelous journey, one is invited to take out an electronic ‘vachan’ or promise (now how more contemporary can you get?) in the language of one’s choice from the Noori Granth (a collection of hymns and songs by Sadhu Vaswani). Alongside this are three electronic screens where one can ask lifestyle questions and get answers. It is all done with extremely avant-garde interactive gizmos that are extremely user friendly and a pleasure to use.
Finally one comes out and is greeted with Sadhu Vaswani’s immortal lines:
“I shall leave the world a better place than it was when I entered it.”
Aye, that indeed should be everyone’s raison d’etre!