December 9, 2010 – Concert by Ms. Dana Gillespie

December 8, 2010 had a ‘first’ to record. It was the ‘latest’ darshan that Swami granted to the devotees. Swami arrived at 8:15 p.m. and after the darshan rounds sat for bhajans upto 9:15 p.m. He then had it announced that the next day, viz. December 9, there would be a concert by world renowned singer Ms. Dana Gillespie. The announcement heralded her name as “Gillepsie” and hearing that, Swami corrected it saying, “Gillespie” and this brought cheer and mirth to all around. Among those that have been in the Sai fold for a decent period of time, there was also a sense of wonder and awe - The Divine Birthday season always has in it a concert by this distinguished lady and this year too, it was the same case. For her, even as she recovered from her illness, it was the story of His delays not being His denials!

To talk and write about Dana Gillespie is an entire story in itself. No wonder that the Radiosai team has plans for an elaborate interview. Soon it will be in the H2H e-journal but in the meanwhile, let’s take a sneak peek. Dana is famous for the “Blues” genre of singing and a simple google search lists out her achievements in the kingdom of Blues, Pop and Acting. She has won the Grammy award but according to her, the greatest achievement has been to reach His Lotus Feet. Now, she is a regular visitor to the many little and little known Russian speaking countries - Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and the like. She speaks and sings to people who have not heard of Sathya Sai but (and here is the amazing part) have seen Him in flesh and blood! Her audience is made up largely of people who, in search of peace and happiness but harassed by social conditions and poverty, have turned to drugs, alcohol and bad habits. With her music she heals the wounds and with the Sai in her heart, grants peace to the troubled people. As she puts it, “Swami makes me preach not to the converts but to the perverts!”

And she knows that Swami is behind all this for when, at the end of a session, she shows them a picture of ‘Sai Baba’, they tell her stories of how this ‘kind gentleman’ visits them regularly and helps them out! Leaving the rest to be elaborated later, we proceed December 9.

Swami arrived for darshan at 6:30 p.m. In the ladies’ side, He called and spoke to the singer. He then moved all around the hall and completed the darshan round. Ascending the verandah after the rounds, Swami moved into the interview room for a little while. Emerging out and moving through the upper verandah, He blessed many senior devotees before coming on stage at 6:55 p.m. from the right of Ganesha. The bhajans were on as Swami asked the students to stop singing and make way for the singer. Dana Gillespie rose from her seat and took the long walk from the ladies’ benches to the stage as Swami sat, waiting for her. In her traditional style, she poured rose petals at His feet and offered herself to Him. Swami blessed her and told her to begin.

She started off with a simple Sarvadharma bhajan “Salaam Alaikkum…” with her booming yet melodious voice resounding in the spacious Sai Kulwant Hall. Everyone clapped and joined her in the singing. She had the backing tracks on a CD that was played and thus she was all alone on the stage with Swami by her side - exactly the way it is whenever she performs in places that are geographically, miles away from Puttaparthi! Swaying her body gently, losing herself in the music, she sang powerfully and conveyed the message of Love, Unity and Divinity. Six more songs followed that included a piece she had sung fifteen years ago, on the 70th Birthday evening.

That was followed by a bhajan “Sai Rama Bolo…Govinda Rama Bolo…” sung with elan. Narrating the background story of another piece, "Play The Game, Be Happy", the graceful singer explained that it was based on an Interview Room conversation with Bhagawan. Utilising the opportunity granted by Swami, the singer had posed a "million dollar question" unto Him “What is the purpose, what is the meaning ... of life?” and pat had come His reply: "Play The Game; Be Happy!" From that was born this beautiful and meaningful song.

Hearing her sing and understanding the profound lyrics of the song, one could see how spirituality is way beyond religion! What she sang appealed to everyone it seemed, irrespective of caste, creed, race, nationality and religion.

And she concluded with the prayer for world peace, “Samastha Lokaha Sukhino Bhavantu”. Then in all humility and simplicity, she bowed to Swami and walked back. There was no show or posing near Swami! It was as if Swami was her best friend and she is connected to Him always. Swami however, called her again and gifted her a beautiful memento - a Phoenix bird made of gold coloured crystal! The phoenix is a mythical bird that burns itself periodically and arises from the very same ashes, renewed and enlightened! And Swami said to her, “There is light too!” On His command, the memento was connected to an electric socket and as a bulb lit up, the Phoenix seemed to rise in all glory! Everyone was thrilled and applause filled the hall. Swami blessed the singer and one could see tears welling up in her eyes as she held His hand. Swami asked for the memento to be packed properly and given to her. As she left the stage, Swami asked the students to begin bhajans.

After one bhajan, there was aarthi at the end of which Swami blessed everyone with Abhayahastha. Then he asked a student, “Do you sing?” The student replied, “Yes Swami! In my room.”

Swami: You sing when you are alone! Not when all are there.

Student: Swami if all are there, they may run away!

Swami smiled and gave him padanamaskar. He then moved towards the waiting car. There, a group of teachers and research scholars from the Dept. of Mathematics and Computer Science of SSSIHL, Prasanthi Nilayam Campus sought Divine blessings. Swami spent a while with them glancing through the brochure, listening to their explanations. It was 8 p.m. when He retired.

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