July 20, 2010 – Special Grace as it Rains in Prasanthi
July 20 turned out to be another of those days, filled with twists and turns with nobody able to make out till the last minute as to how things would proceed. As part of their Ashaadi programme, the devotees from Maharastra had planned a concert and artists were seated in the portico. As Swami arrived out of the Yajur Mandir at 5:15 p.m., He blessed a family whom He had permitted specially to be there. Then He moved into Sai Kulwant Hall.
The hall was filled up mainly by the devotees from the states of Goa and Maharashtra. Swami completed a full round and came to the portico. The Russian representation had a photo album titled, "Beloved Swami in Ukraine" containing 62 images illustrating all-round service activities by the Sai Organisation helping the poor and the needy in the country. Swami flipped through each and every leaf of the album, scanning through all the photographs, in between seeking some clarifications. After about five minutes and after speaking to another old devotee, He moved to the stage.
It had been set for a music programme. The mikes and the carpet were all there and so Swami moved over to the ladies’ side of the stage. He sat there at a slight angle towards the gents’ side and the Vedam chanting was on. Swami now joined in the chanting and as always it was a great delight to everyone, especially the students’ Vedam group. The popular and familiar hymns being completed, the chanting now moved to the tough ones.
Swami called one of the singers seated in the front and asked him about some journey to be undertaken. The student answered Swami and returned to his place. After a while, Swami told the people chanting in the mikes to stop. He indicated that the devotees in the hall were not able to participate and so it would be better if bhajans began. And so bhajans began and what a following they had. The cascade of devotion that had been temporarily dammed by the walls of unfamiliarity of the chants, found release in the flow of the bhajans! As this was going on, Swami moved into the interview room for sometime.
By the time He came out, it had begun to rain, and heavily too at that. Sitting on the stage, Swami called the student by His side and pointed out to him the devotees who were standing beyond the main gate in the rain. There were quite some empty spaces in the hall and Swami told that the gates should be opened for them to enter. Ah! What a moment of special joy it was for those devotees.
Security measures in place at times have made it inconvenient for devotees to enter the mandir once Swami has already arrived. But security cannot be dispensed with, unless of course He wants it, like how He wanted it that day! The devotees came streaming in and were soon sheltered from the pouring rain only to be drenched in the rain of His love and Grace that were simply pouring from His being.
Swami also wanted the devotees to move inside and make space for more to come in. Ladies and gents, youngsters and elders; all wended their way into the mandir. It was reminiscent of the times of the Dwapara age when the Lord as Krishna lifted the Govardhana hill with His little finger and sheltered the residents of Gokul from the pouring rain! Satisfied that all were in, Swami now sat enjoying the bhajans.
Needless to say, everyone plunged themselves into the delight of singing His glory in His presence. Meanwhile the prasadam arrived. Swami blessed it but told the students to hold back the distribution till the end.
A few bhajans passed after which Swami indicated that He wanted to move to the gents’ side of the stage. There was a slight confusion as to what Swami wanted when the prasadam boys moved down the stage. When Swami again indicated them to wait and said He wanted to go to the other side, things became clear and Swami was now on the gents’ side.
He seemed to be more comfortable now in the familiar environs of His students around Him! At this time, the State President of Maharashtra went to Swami and told Him about the music programme. Swami smiled and told him to wait. A few bhajans later, Swami asked, “The time is up, right?” Nobody answered for who can decide whether the time is up or not other than Him? One bhajan later, Swami asked for aarthi. He also permitted the prasadam to be dispatched for distribution.
An announcement about the Ashadi Ekadashi celebrations for the next day morning followed. Balvikas children from the state of Maharashtra & Goa were to stage a programme entitled "Veda Matha Gayathri" followed by an evening programme entitled "Natya Veda". Yet another programme, a dance drama on the life of Samartha Ramdas, was to be performed by the students from Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Mandir, Dharmakshetra. Once the announcement was made, Swami retired to Yajur Mandir. The time was about 6:45 p.m.
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