A Sports Spectacle with a Stealthy Tinge of Spirituality
Sadhguru at the Indian Premier League, South Africa
His presence created a furor at the Indian Premier League in South Africa, one of the world's major cricket tournaments. Who would have expected a Guru in the midst of this entertainment spectacle? But Sadhguru wouldn't be Sadhguru if he wasn't comfortable in any kind of surroundings, with any kind of people…
Invited by IPL Chairman and Commissioner Lalit Modi as a chief guest to a couple of matches of the IPL in South Africa, he took an extraordinary detour on his way to London for a public talk. Upon arrival in Johannesburg, South Africa, the weather was pleasant and cool, a change from the blistering heat of India. Being in the Southern Hemisphere, it was winter there.
The first match he attended was the Delhi Daredevils vs. the Kings XI Punjab at the Free State Stadium of Bloemfontein, the "city of roses" in the heart of South Africa. Sadhguru was watching the match with Lalit Modi, Ajay Gupta, Chairman of Sahara Group, and Niranjan Shah, Vice-Chairman IPL.
During the half time, Sadhguru was invited to the field. As part of the IPL Help Educate and Teach (HEAT) Initiative, he and Lalit Modi presented a donation of 100,000 Rand (Rs. 5 lakh) to a school for the blind and deaf. The natural center of attraction, as always, Sadhguru had students and staff members thronging around him and embracing him enthusiastically.
After the match ended with Kings XI Punjab winning by six wickets, "His Holiness Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev," as the presenter announced him, bestowed the DLF Maximum Sixes Award to Irfan Pathan. Along with Priety Zinta, actress and co-owner of the Kings XI Punjab team, Sadhguru also presented the award "Man of the Match" to bowler Brett Lee who replied with a wide grin.
For the second match, Chennai Super Kings vs. Mumbai Indians, Sadhguru flew to Port Elizabeth at the south east coast of South Africa. Fired by a large, vibrant crowd, the match was a frenzied pitch. Initially sitting in the Presidential Booth, Sadhguru was invited by the Chennai Super Kings owner to shift to the exclusive Owner's Box. Upon entering the Owner's Box, immediately the Super Kings hit a sixer into the crowd. A truly grand entrance…
Lalit Modi and Sadhguru presented another donation of 100,000 Rand in support of Thembelihle High School, an educational project set to balance a shortage of qualified educators with computer-based education. At the end of the match, Sadhguru, along with Niranjan Shah and Gurunath Meiyappan, spokesman of Chennai Super Kings, was invited to present the DLF Maximum Sixes Award to the players Jayasurya, Duminy, Nayar of Mumbai Indians and Suresh Raina of Chennai Super Kings. As Sadhguru entered the field, eclectic Sivamani (who added to the frenzy with his electrifying percussion interludes), gave his sticks to the Master to have him play a few beats on his drums. India's cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni also greeted Sadhguru just before he presented the awards.
On the last day of his visit, Sadhguru attended the Deccan Chargers vs. Kolkatta Night Riders match at Johannesburg Stadium. He was seen sitting along with Aditya and Suresh Chellaram, co-owners of the Rajasthan Royals. In between the match, he gave an interview to the TV channel SuperSport.
To a newspaper journalist, Sadhguru expressed his enthusiasm about the games in the following words: "I attended four games and we had to move from town to town to the different venues, and every bit of it was worthwhile making the journey to South Africa. Being there just for two days and attending these games was an absolutely worthwhile experience. It's been many years since I've seen a live game. I used to do that many years ago, but in more than 15 years, I've not really been at a live game like this. It was very, very exciting and beautiful to be there."
While the players scored on the field, Sadhguru certainly won the hearts of all those who got the chance to have an out-of-the-ordinary encounter with the Enlightened in an environment where one would expect it the least. Whether at a cricket tournament or in any other situation with him - expect the unexpected.