July 25, 2009 – Programme by Devotees from Glendale & Arcadia, USA

It became a historical day as Swami stayed in the Sai Kulwant Hall for a record number of hours. How many? Read on to find out. Also, this special day turned out to be a day of changes.For one, chanting of the Vedas with emphasis on the Rudram from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. got regularized.

Apart from that, Swami also instructed that the Universal Peace prayer be reverted to "Samastha Lokaha Sukhino Bhavanthu" from its recently modified form, "Samastha Jeeva Sukhino Bhavanthu." There was also another new practise that began that day and you will know about it as you read along.

Now, going through the day chronologically, at 4 p.m. sharp began the sonorous chants of the RudraPrasnah. The devotees from the Glendale & Arcadia Sadhana Group, Southern California, USA were seated in the marbled blocks as they had been permitted to put up their song cum skit programme.

At 5 p.m., the Veda chanting ceased and the whole Mandir became silent. It was a marvellous feeling and has to be experienced. More than 8,000 people congregating and not the least bit of noise! A miracle indeed for it reflects the inner stillness that comes about so naturally in the proximity of God. At about 5:20 p.m., the chanting resumed to signal the arrival of Swami.

Bhagavan moved through the ladies side and as He arrived in the center, asked one of them, "Where do you come from?" Swami speaks so softly and soothingly that often times it is easier to lip read Him rather than hear Him! The lady chose the latter and could not make out! Swami repeated His question and seeing the same response, seemed to smile to Himself.

He later got that answer from a little boy who was seated on the gents’ side! Swami moved through the packed gents’ side and soon was in the front. Taking a round in the portico, Swami arrived on stage.

The co-ordinators for the programme offered their presentation to Swami and Bhagavan seemed to say, "Things have been mixed up." Sitting for hardly a minute, Swami asked to be taken to the interview room. Then began what can be termed as the great wait for the Lord! It is often said that God's delays are not His denials.

There were two ways in which the above sentence got aptly demonstrated. On one hand there were those devotees whom Swami had assured that He would grant an interview and they had been waiting. It didn't seem that even today they would get their promised interviews, for a programme was in waiting. But Swami began to call them in, one by one. On the other hand were these devotees from USA. As the interviews got underway it did not seem plausible that they will get their chance to present their programme before Him.

The chances of the programme seemed to move from low to bleak as the clock showed 7:30 p.m. Rarely does Swami stay out so long and even when He does so, it is for occasions like Shivarathri. But any day Lord Shiva decides to grant His Grace that day becomes Shivarathri. This got proved with a thumping authority as Swami arrived on stage at 7:35 p.m. and asked for the programme to begin!

The group comprising of 84 members, including children had a small skit entitled “Mother’s Blessings” based on the inspirational life story of the 16th President of USA, Abraham Lincoln. Swami often narrates the story of Lincoln to exemplify the spirit of Self-Confidence and the power of the mother's blessings.

The programme started with a few kids and elders offering the programme and roses to Swami. Chanting shlokas from the immortal Bhagawad Geeta, the group depicted through the skit how Lincoln followed those very principles as stated in the shlokas. The skit lasted about 15 minutes and the kids participating in it offered their pranams to Swami.

The devotees then requested Swami for permission to sing bhajans and Swami permitted them to do so. In accordance with the theme of the day, all bhajans sung were on the glory of Mother Divine. Swami sat listening to and enjoying the bhajans till almost 8:30 p.m.!

Then came the cherry on top of the icing on the cake for the US devotees. Swami said that He would move down the stage and grant them Divine proximity and group photographs. Oh the thrill of that move! They became exuberant! All the tiredness of being seated for nearly five and half hours evaporated into thin air. They welcomed Him in their midst and Swami blessed them.

He spoke to a few of them and accepted one or two letters. Moving back on the stage, Swami asked for the aarthi to begin.

Now, coming to the change that was mentioned in the beginning: Swami had blessed all the elders working in the Ashram, some of them for more than 30 years now, with the opportunity to offer a rose to Him, one elder per day! And so that day, Mr. Ram Mohan Rao, Head of Finance and Accounts Section of Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust offered a rose to Swami. Swami was all smiles as the octogenarian moved to Him and bowed at His lotus feet. Swami then retired for the day, moving to Yajur Mandir in the car.

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