Chronicles of Heaven on Earth
February 26, 2008 – Programme by Ooty Devotees
There was a small sea of turbans in Sai Kulwant Hall as devotees from the Nilgiris and Ooty had been given permission by Swami to put up a programme on the evening of February 26. A huge backdrop with the Sai Mandir in Ooty painted on it had been raised. The participants of the programme were all members of the Badaga tribe living in the Nilgiris. When Swami came out for Darshan and went through the Kulwant Hall, His eyes seemed glued to the "visitors" from the Blue Mountains.
After the Darshan round, He alighted from the car and came straight to the stage and asked for the programme to begin. There was eager anticipation in His face. The elders from Ooty came and offered roses and other items for His blessings. He blessed them all and then the programme began.
It was the drama “Markandeya” in traditional tribal art form. There was a narrative in the beginning that explained the whole drama in detail. Then the drama began with a dancing Lord Ganesha. It was like a complete dance drama and it consisted of only a few very simple steps. Swami seemed to watch the drama in all attention. The narrative was in the form of a song sung loudly in Tamil accompanied by basic beats on a percussion instrument. The manner in which Markandeya's parents long for a son was depicted very elaborately, and for almost 20 minutes after the drama started, Markandeya had not made his appearance. Swami was explaining the scenes to the boys seated next to Him. Truly, Swami is the greatest patron of folk arts and rural talents. For a sophisticated mind, the depictions may not have seemed "up to the mark", but they communicated the eternal values, and these folk arts are, in fact, strong binding forces in the communities and the villages. This unity is what Swami always emphasizes and likes to see in any presentation.
Swami was very moved when Lord Shiva appeared from the Linga to annihilate death itself, and save his devotee Markandeya. As the drama concluded, and the actors bowed to Swami, He called the actor who played the role of Markandeya, and created a 108 beads japamala (rosary) for him. After that, the floodgates opened. Swami said He would go down from the stage and interact with the devotees. Next He got up from the chair and walked down.
He blessed all the actors and told them to cluster around Him so that all would fit in the frame for the group picture. Everyone was so simple minded that they did not seem to understand what to do; they were just overwhelmed by His Presence. Everyone was looking at His Face and prostrating at His Feet. Swami, then, asked for sarees to be brought. He went to the ladies side and distributed them to all the Ooty devotees. There was a huge onrush to receive the Divine Gifts. Almost everyone received paada namaskar. He then gifted all the gents with dhotis and sat watching as the distribution went on. He spoke leisurely with many of the devotees and also said that He would visit them all soon. Conferring joy on all, Swami received Aarthi and left.
March 1, 2008 – Gratitude Programme by Final Year PG Students
When the first day of the new month dawned on March 1, there was a huge gathering of devotees from Hyderabad who had come with the single pointed motive of inviting Swami to their city. Swami came out at 3:15 pm and seeing all the Hyderabad devotees, asked them to sit in front on the raised marble enclosure where the Institute professors and teachers usually sit. He then turned and drove out. He returned in a very short while and then went for the Darshan rounds. After completing it, He alighted in the portico and then went into the interview room. He took many senior members of the "visiting Hyderabad Team", if we may call it so, for an interview.
As the interview proceeded, word arrived that Swami had permitted the II PG students, the outgoing batch from the Prasanthi NilayamCampus to put up their “Gratitude” programme. All the students began to take their positions and waited eagerly for Swami to arrive. Swami completed the interviews and came out at about 5:15 pm. In spite of the long session inside, Swami looked so fresh and cheery. As soon as He sat on the stage, He asked where “Krishna” was. A boy who was donning Krishna's role as part of the program, came walking out majestically from behind. Swami asked him to be seated in front of the marble block. Then He asked for Sudama (Krishna's friend). Sudama came forward and Swami blessed him by touching him on the head, and then asked for the programme to begin.
The programme began with a visitor in heaven being introduced to the three major departments - the ‘Prayer and Petition Receiving Department’, the ‘Blessing Packaging and Processing Department’ and the ‘Gratitude Receiving Department’. For a change, the third department is most busy! And that is because gratitude has been pouring forth in plenty from the students of Swami! At this point, students carrying pictures of each boy with Swami on decorated hearts, came to Swami and the Lord lovingly blessed them all, holding and viewing a few of them. The children then began to attempt to express the rich myriad feelings and emotions that were coursing through them. Many students spoke their heart out. Orators, poets and singers seemed to emerge by the minute as each student used different methods and means to express the same sentiments of Love.
The first song was a beautiful melody in Telugu which stated that the Love received from Swami during their stay was more than enough for births together, and there remained no other desire in the boys' hearts. They offered gratitude to Swami for having guided them to take their first few steps in Life. Comparing Swami to the Gardener who has nourished them in His Nursery, they prayed that they spread the fragrance of His Love to all who come in touch with them. The songs were soulful and one could see tears streaming down many a face as they realized the apparently bitter truth of physical separation from someone who has been a Mother, Father, Teacher and Friend, all rolled into one. For Swami's students, instead of the mother, father and Guru being God, God becomes the Father, Mother and Guru.
There was a small dance sequence for a song composed by Swami Himself. The gist of the song was that irrespective of what you do, whether you wear ochre robes, smear the holy ash, turn rosary beads or even visit Puttaparthi, the only way to get sanctified is by imbibing Love and compassion for all. The students recollected memories of how some boys had not eaten for two days as Swami was not speaking with them. Swami, then, told the teachers that they must be fed, and then it came to be known that even Swami had not eaten for the past two days! There was not a single dry eye in the gathering. If we just sit back and think of how Swami has beautifully moulded our lives, nay has become our very lives itself, there will not be a single moment when our eyes will remain dry. Life without God is full of tears. Life with God is also full of them - only that, this time, they are tears of Love and Gratitude. Why is it that these tears flow down when we are with Swami? When there is someone so beautiful in our eyes, where is the place for the tears to remain!
A student then narrated how he, a bordering failure in academics, was resurrected by Swami. When his parents had asked Swami in an interview, "Swami, will this boy ever change?" Swami had emphatically replied, "When Valmiki himself transformed, will this boy not change? Tell him that Swami has called him with Love, He will come to me!" As he narrated this, the boy broke down, and Swami too appeared quite emotional as he blessed the boy. To highlight the experience of friendship with Swami, the Krishna-Sudama episode was enacted. Swami seemed to become nostalgic as the play was enacted and was touched.
As emphasised before, the Gratitude Programmes are events that can never be adequately captured in words. The beautiful and emotion filled evening concluded with an energy-filled song addressing Swami as the heartbeat of each and every child. There was Love, Grace and magic in the sweet evening air as the fragrance of gratitude wafted, scenting everything in its wake. As the programme concluded, Swami came walking down the stage to pose for pictures with His Dear Children. What ensued next was a loving exchange of words and feelings. After spending time with them, Swami blessed prasadam to be distributed to all. He, then, retired to Yajur Mandir.
March 2, 2008 – Songs by Hyderabad Youth
On the evening of March 2nd, the youth, who had arrived from Hyderabad with the intention of inviting Swami to their wonderful and bubbling city, had been permitted to put up a programme in front of Swami. Swami came for Darshan at about 5:05 pm and He alighted near the interview room after completing Darshan rounds. He immediately came out and took a small round on the stage granting beautiful Darshan to all who had gathered. Then He went into the interview room for about 10 minutes and sent word for the programme to be started. The youth began their presentation with Omkar.
First, was a welcome song on how fortunate they were to be able to offer their salutations in His Divine Presence. The song had a slow waltzing melody in the beginning and then it picked up momentum and speed as they called out to Swami as their Father. It turned out to be a real welcome song, for, as they completed singing it, Swami came out of the interview room onto the stage. There were commentary pieces in between, explaining the gist of the songs. There was a song on how sweet and beautiful is Swami's Name, Form and everything associated with Him. As Swami sat, swaying gently to the tunes, it was really a sight for the Gods to behold, and everybody present there felt supremely blessed with the opportunity to be there. On one occasion, speaking to a person, who was a chain smoker, Swami had said, "If you do not give up this bad habit, I will not think of you and I will ensure that you too do not think of Me!" Even the fact that we are able to think of Swami is His Grace and Blessings that we ought to be grateful for.
The songs continued. The commentator said, "Swami, if we look at You, it is enough, we'll forget the world." Swami nodded and seemed to say, "Oh yes! Why not?" Everyone smiled and the songs continued. There were songs dripping with gratitude for His Compassion and Love. "The eyes never tire seeing You and get addicted to Your Graceful Form; the ears ache to hear Your Sweet Voice; the temple of our minds is complete only due to Your Form being installed." There was another song that described the glories of the Ten Avatars that Lord Vishnu assumed to protect the world. The songs began to gather momentum, and the enthusiasm remained on the high that it always was.
Swami kept responding and emoting to the noble feelings and thoughts being expressed in the songs. As a fast paced song on the ideal way for the individual to conduct himself concluded, Swami called the violinist and materialized a gold chain for him. He was, naturally, overwhelmed as he delicately touched His Feet, and accepted the gift of grace. The songs continued. Requesting the Lord never to forget them, the devotees sang out a composition by Swami Himself unto Him. From Him, for Him unto Him! There was a very innovative composition that incorporated popular bhajans, "Govind Krishna Jai", "Prema Muditha" and "Shivaya Parameshwaraya". It was a devotional outpouring where the devotees said that their only refuge was His Feet. All those seated in the Hall were washed pure and joyous by this spontaneous flow of devotional songs, and the silent shower of Love seen from the twinkle in Sai's Eyes. The last song was a patriotic one with a marching beat.
As they concluded, Swami called the harmonium player cum singer, who had performed exceedingly well. He had a slight difficulty standing due to a hunched back. Swami showered all Love on him, and materializing a gold chain for him, put it around His neck and granted paada namaskar. After that, Swami stood up and walked down to the group that had clustered by now. He spoke to them and almost satiated everyone's pangs to have a few precious words of Sambhaashan (conversation) with Him. He posed for group photos, and after that, went into the interview room. He returned with white cloth pieces and personally handed them over to each and every participant. As the Aarthi went on, Swami granted the Abhayahastham with both His Hands raised. The devotees shouted Jaijaikars at the end of the Aarthi. Leaving everyone in this blissful frame of mind Swami retired to Yajur Mandir after blessing the prasadam to be distributed.
March 5, 2008 – “Churning of the Ocean” Dance by the University Students
A dance ballet had been planned by the students of the University for the Shivarathri celebrations which was the next day. Swami planted a pleasant surprise for all when after completing His Darshan rounds, He sent instructions that the ballet be performed that evening itself! All the bhajan singers were seated, not in the bhajan hall but in the marble block of the Sai Kulwant Hall. The bhajans began and Swami came outside and sat on the stage, much to the thrill of all the devotees assembled. But as Swami sat for the bhajans, all the while He was enquiring whether the dancers were ready. Since the dance involved elaborate make up and costumes, it took a while for the students to get ready.
In the meanwhile, as the Bhajans continued in the Sai Kulwant Hall, Swami visited the Bhajan Hall twice and interacted with the performers who were getting ready there. He asked about the various roles in the dance and blessed all of them to perform the dance. With blessings abounding on them and smiles adorning their faces, the dancers made their way to the Sai Kulwant Hall. Swami too arrived on the stage. The marble block was cleared of student occupation. As Swami watched on, a huge 25 x 12 feet backdrop was brought in. It was a very innovative and creative painting of Lord Shiva consuming the deadly Haalahala poison to save the world from total destruction.
The half-hour dance programme in Telugu depicted the Puranic episode of the churning of the Ocean, with Lord Shiva consuming the poison to save the world. The ocean is churned with the devas (angels) on one side, and the asuras (demons) on the other. The serpent king, Vasuki is the rope. When the mountain is sinking into the ocean, Lord Vishnu assumes the form of a huge tortoise and holds up the mountain.
This is the famous Kurma Avatar. This was so gracefully and beautifully depicted. The celestial sage Narada was the narrator for the entire episode, and that role was played by the lead dancer. As the dance progresses, various things emanate from the ocean. They are evenly distributed among the Devas and the Asuras. Lord Vishnu takes the form of Mohini to ensure that the immoral demons do not become immortal by drinking the nectar that comes forth as the final item from the churning. The whole dance was wonderfully choreographed and the thrill of the entire Puranic story was experienced by everyone in the audience. Swami too seemed so happy at the effort. He was engrossed watching the dance all the while. The singing was really phenomenal and more than anything else, it was done live and no pre recorded Cds or DVDs were used.
At the end of the programme, Swami came down from the stage to grant group photographs. He interacted with the students. All the students literally mobbed Him and there was joy all around. Swami said that He was extremely happy with the dance and also told all the dancers to come up with more such creative dances. The dancers submitted that everything was because of His Grace alone. Swami posed for group photos and collected letters from the dancers. The entire troupe got the chance to do paadanamaskar. After blessing the prasadam to be distributed and receiving Aarthi, Swami left for His residence at around 6.40 pm.
March 6, 2008 – Shivarathri Celebrations
The whole of Prasanthi Nilayam seemed to have a very serene yet powerful aura about it on March 6, the holy Shivarathri Day. A kind of austere aura enveloped the atmosphere and there were mystical and powerful vibrations in the air. Everyone seemed to be charged with some mysterious energy, and there was bubbling enthusiasm everywhere. Very early, in the morning itself, even the birds and bees seemed to prepare for the Holy Night. The fragrance of incense pervaded the air, and all the temples within the Nilayam were the loci of intense devotion. People began to file into the Sai Kulwant Hall with the great desire of having a glimpse of their Sai Shiva on this very special day. A novel and huge LED screen had been erected near the Ganesh temple so that the Darshan-hungry devotees, not able to find room in the Hall, could be satiated. It measured 14 ft by 30 ft and was perfectly visible even in the brightest daylight!
In the morning, everyone waited for the Lord to arrive, but for reasons best known to Him, Swami did not come out. From 10:45 am itself, devotees began to queue up for the afternoon and evening session. The emptiness from not having Swami's Darshan in the morning had intensified everyone's desire and longing to see Him. At about 4:30 pm, a wave of applause burst forth and seemed to travel through the length and breadth of the Nilayam. Swami had not only come, He had arrived on a special high chair, which had been specially designed, so that all could see Him even from a distance.
Like every Shivarathri, Bhagavan exuded a halo of sheer Power and Grace, as He moved gently through the surging and revitalized assemblage. The energy and joy that He radiated sent people into raptures. There were people wherever the eye could see. The balconies and lanes outside the Hall, and every inch of space in the Hall, had been taken up. Swami did not collect any letter, but a gentle smile danced on His Lips, and He conferred benign blessings of bounty and beauty to all as He passed by. He reached the stage and took up His place behind the discourse table. He beckoned the Vedam to stop after a while, and then the All India President, Sri. V. Srinivasan addressed the august gathering. Explaining the significance of Shivarathri, he reminded everyone of the great good fortune to be in Swami's Presence on the day, when all the sages and saints are in intense penance.
After this, Swami rose to speak. And a mere sight of that was enough to raise goose bumps on everyone assembled. Swami rose, unmindful of any suffering or pain, and as He began with the nectarine poem, it was an experience to be felt and cherished. Given below is a summary of Swami's Discourse:
Today, right from the morning till night, people always run behind money. Money seems to be everything in the world today, and everyone is asking for money. Is there anyone who asks for God with the same fervent intensity? It is only God who can give peace and happiness. That is why it is stressed that one must engage in bhajans and singing God's Glories always.
Love is one, and though it is one, it is expressed in many ways between mother and son, husband and wife and between friends. Take for instance, the demise of Mr. Shourie. Many came to see him. There were policemen too standing as guards there. But what happened there was that fire merged into fire, water back with water, and air back with air. All the elements returned to their original state. Nothing but ash is left there. Everything returned to nothingness; gone back to the Source. That is the Truth that all must realise.
There was a certain Yogi who had learnt various forms of knowledge - the Vedas, the Shastras, the Upanishads, the Puranas and Itihasas. He heard the sound of the cosmic damaruka (the drum that Shiva holds). There is great power in the beat of the damaruka. It is the one that destroys and burns. There is only one Truth. Brahma Satya, Jagan Mitya. The world is all illusory.
Today as I look around, I see only two forms. Those are the forms of Eashwaramma and Pedda Venkamma Raju, the parents of this Body. Even as I came out for Darshan, they were there dressed in yellow. Yellow is a very auspicious colour; it represents Vaikuntam. They were telling Me that they were waiting for me to return to them. Swami sees yellow everywhere. All of you are in yellow now. Carry this yellowness with you always. Bhagavan wanted to also bring forth the lingam which is golden yellow in colour. But as I came out, all the children and the devotees, were praying, "Swami, do not do so. We cannot bear to see you in pain." They want Me to be with them in a very relaxed and tension free manner.
The nature of Bhagavan is mysterious and un-understandable. Once He has decided, His sankalpa will happen. Why should the Truth remain shadowed? It is the nature of the human mind to keep changing and not Sai's nature. (At this point Swami sang the Telugu song "Tandava Keli Salpeni..". He explained that it was only Shiva who had the beat, "Dhimiki Dhimiki" and none else.)
Whenever we have difficulties, we cry out to God. Once Shiva and Parvati were passing over a hill when they saw a man on a tree about to fall. Shiva told Parvati to save him while she said that Shiva should save him. They agreed that if he calls out, "Appa"(Father) then Shiva would go to his aid, and if he called "Amma"(Mother), then Parvati would rush to rescue him. As he fell, the man screamed, "Ayyo" (meaning" woe upon me")! That is the fate of man today. When you are in trouble, you must always remember Amma or Appa; your parents are your Gods. The mother bore you for 9 months and father took all the trouble to bring you up. Worship your parents as God - remember that for this world, Mother is Parvati and father is Parameshwara. The amma (mother) of Eashwara (God) is Eashwaramma.
The Avatar came as a Trinity. The first was Shirdi Sai, the second is Parthi Sai, and the third will be Prema Sai. The complete unity among all will be achieved when Prema Sai comes. Today there is absolutely no Unity. There are only differences and fragmentation. When Prema comes, there will be Unity. The Caste, Culture and Country should all be one. When I had visited East Africa, the prime minister there, Idi Amin asked me, "Where do you come from?" I did not say Andhra Pradesh. I said India. There should be no such division based on states. Today Andra will be broken for Telangana; tomorrow there will be a demand and break up for Rayalseema too. These things should not happen. Similarly Uttara Kannada and Dakshina Kannada - such divisions are bad. There is only one country - India.
(Swami narrated about the Unity that existed between the 3 wives of King Dasharatha - Kousalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra, and the unity between Rama and his brothers as an example.)
All the disunity is due to selfishness. A fish is better than selfish. Be and remain united always. Bharathi means ‘Bha’ – ‘God’ and ‘Rathi’ – ‘intense love for’. He is a true person of Bharat who has intense Love for God. The only way to attain joy and peace in this world is by singing bhajans. Never give up that. Bhajan Bina Sukh Shanti Nahi….
With that bhajan, Swami kindled the night-long vigil of bhajan singing. He sat for the first bhajan. It was not a surprise as it turned out to be, "Dhimita Dhimita Dhim". After that, Swami returned slowly to Yajur Mandir. It was about 7:30 pm by the time Swami retired.
The next morning, it was about 7:10 am, when along with the rising Sun, the light and apple of every eye, arrived into the Sai Kulwant Hall. Again, Swami chose to come on the chair. He gently coursed through the ladies side. As He came to the marble block, a plea was made to Him to bless the prasadam to be distributed in the morning. Swami went to the main gate where the idols of Lord Rama, Lakshmana and Mother Seeta are, and blessed all the huge vessels holding the prasadam.
He, then, returned and moved through the gents side granting Darshan. He sat on the stage listening to bhajans being sung. Needless to say, His Presence brought a boost to the tempo and rhythm of the bhajans. Swami sat for more than half an hour and that seemed to be the most fruitful portion of the holy songs being sung. After that, Swami asked for the Aarthi to be taken. He Himself lit the Aarthi which is a rarity in the present days. After the Aarthi, the prasadam distribution began.
Swami sat silently watching the distribution. His Eyes traveled almost over every soul sitting in the Hall. Meanwhile, outside, the devotees were having a joyful time watching Swami on the giant screen. A lady even exclaimed, "I got the first line to see Swami in front of the screen!" Swami continued to sit and just kept seeing all around the Hall. Prasadam distribution of laddoos and pulihora (gram flour sweet balls and tamarind rice) - went on smoothly and quickly. “Brahmaarpanam” was chanted, not once but twice, as the tiny tots from Primary School outdid their senior brothers from the Institute.
All the senses were in a state of bliss. As the prasadam was a delight to the tongues, the ears heard the devotional strains, eyes beheld the beautiful Form of Swami, there was a divine aroma in the air, and the feeling on the whole was so charging. After a while, Swami slowly went back to Yajur Mandir.
In the evening, Swami came out at about 5:00 pm. The Hall was still jam packed. Swami's Darshan is something that you can never have too much of. Each time you see Him, you feel like seeing Him more and more. And today, it seemed that Swami too had decided that His Devotees can never have enough of His Darshan. He completed His Darshan rounds, and then came out again on the chair. He slowly moved through the gents side, and from there to the ladies side. Every face had a joyous look and every palm folded in deepest reverence as Swami went about blessing everyone. Thrilling all the hearts with the beauty, auspiciousness and Grace of His Darshan, Swami returned to the stage. The bhajans for the evening were on in full flow. Swami had decided to make the evening into another very special one.
He called out to Mr. Ajit Popat and asked him to speak. He spoke in his well known enthusiastic way and elaborated on how all of us should always be happy. He also mentioned on the importance of keeping good health. And as he concluded, Swami filled everyone's cup of joy to the brim as He said that He would speak. Sitting in the chair, Swami began His Divine Discourse. Here is the summary:
Birth, bondage and liberation; everything is a result of action. All must attempt to recognize the actions done from dawn to dusk. As is the action, so is the result. Good actions give good intellect. Actions prompted by bad thoughts give bad results. You must have seen bats. They keep flying in the air like all other birds. They also rest on trees. But their posture is upside down. Did anyone tie it that way? No. But its karma is like that. Similarly when man does bad deeds and has bad thoughts, he reaps bad consequences.
We just cannot escape the reactions of our actions. Just like a correct answer in the examination yields good marks, and a wrong answer yields no marks, the way of life is also such. It is the foremost responsibility of man to do good deeds. Whenever any action is done, think, "I am Man". Question whether what you are about to do is human or bestial. Otherwise, why God, people themselves will question, criticize and punish you. There is no need to go to God, the actions themselves will confer the consequences.
Again, among the different birds, when some of them call out, people throw stones at them. But the cuckoo and the nightingale are welcomed. Our speech too determines the reactions we receive. Help ever, hurt never. Many times, we knowingly hurt people. To do it knowingly is the worst of sins. Man has a mind. It can be set on the right path or the wrong path. "Mana Eve Manushyanaam Kaaranam Bandha Mokshayoho". Accusing others, blindly following people and hurting - these are not the qualities that are natural to man. Man should be free of these and help his fellowmen. When animals themselves help men, there is nothing great about you helping your fellowmen. Do human actions based on human values.
Follow God's command. Not any external God. Follow the God within. "Daivam Maanusha Roopena" - God is in Human Form. Just obey His command. You may have intimate friends. But do not follow them. Follow only God's command. Do not hurt anyone in thought, word or deed. Irrespective of caste, community or culture, be a good human being. If this humaneness is forgotten, all spiritual penance is useless. Do acts to please God. That is the fulfillment of human life. "Jantunaam Nara Janma Durlabham.." that is, “Among all the creatures, human life is the most fortunate one”. So do not waste this life by speaking untruth, doing injustice and having bad feelings.
It is important to be good, do good and see good. Today you smile at others having bad looks and vision. That is not proper. There must be harmony of thoughts, words and deeds. If there is no unity in the first place, there can be no purity. If anyone criticizes, think that it is for your good only. Everything is for the good. Be smiling always. That does not mean that you laugh unnecessarily. Have good thoughts. Let any property be lost - but not humanness. True good health means developing good thoughts.
Do not eat everything that you come across. Whatever you eat, offer it unto God, and only then eat. Have pure saatwik food. Remember, whatever you offer, will come back to you. You cannot get good from wrong activities. Good food alone will give good health, and then alone will good thoughts arise.
Once a beggar went to a house and the lady there told him, "Have a bath and come. I will serve you food." He replied, "Govindeti sadaa snaanam" (Govinda's name is the holy bath). She then said, "Then Govinda's name itself will be good food for you. Have it!" If bath is Govinda, then food is also Govinda. Do not have double standards. Sometimes, we have very bad thoughts. The remedy for that is good company.
Nischalatatve Jeevan Mukti.
You cannot call yourself good if you have habits like drinking, smoking or eating non-vegetarian food. They should be totally absent. Human life is very sacred. It is a gift of past merit. Though you will get company in liquor houses and bars, you will never get good thoughts there. Give up jealousy, anger and ego. Have gratitude to those who have done even the most miniscule help to you. Then you will be successful. We get so much help and betray even those who help us. Have gratitude even for the simplest help you receive; else, all is vain. Treat even enemies with Love and respect.
Then the reaction, reflection and resound will be good. You need not worship God. Your goodness will support you. You are the witness for the mind, foolishness is the witness for a fool. Follow the right path according to your heart. Self -satisfaction is very important. That will prepare you for Self-sacrifice.
Dear students, develop good thoughts. There is no use of reading big books. People think that you are reading the Mahabharata, while on the sly you are reading all nasty things. You are Vidyarthi (student). Seek the knowledge of the Self. Do everything for Atma Trupti or Self-satisfaction. First and foremost, develop tolerance and give up anger. At this age, you have sacred hearts. It is not needed that you please the world. It is enough that you please God. If you want happiness, the only way is to sing God's Glory. (Bhajan Bina Sukh Shanti Nahi…)
It was Guru Nanak who emphasised the importance of bhajans. When we sing together, at least one heart will go to God, and that is enough. God will be ecstatic when you sing His praises. Everyday there are nights, but the night you think of God is Shivarathri. Do bhajans now.
As Swami commanded, the bhajans began. Though it was quite late in the evening, everyone was so happy at this unexpected bounty. Swami then received Aarthi and retired.
March 14, 2008 – Gratitude Programme by Final Year Undergraduate Boys
All the students from the III year undergraduate class, along with the batch from the Mirpuri College of Music, who were passing out of the University, had assembled in the marble block, ready with their gratitude programme on the evening of March 14, 2008. At 5:00pm, like every other day, the bhajans began. For the last few days, the students had been praying for the opportunity to present their programme before Swami. Very often, we think that noble indeed are those who offer their gratitude to the Lord. Little do we realize that it is also a blessing from God, that we feel gratitude welling in our beings and also get the chance to express it to Him. To have gratitude is really a great boon from the Lord, and gratitude speaks in a language that only the heart wholly comprehends. As Cicero put it, "Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others." And that is because Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, and chaos into a beautiful harmony.
As the bhajans continued, Swami came out at about 5:10 pm. He gave Darshan on the chair, but cut through into the Bhajan Hall after completing the ladies side. After a while, the message was that bhajans would stop, and that Swami was coming out to see the gratitude programme. Everyone was happy - the students because the opportunity for which they had been pining for had materialized, and the devotees because this meant Swami's Darshan for an hour at least!
The students began with Aumkaaram and a prayer to Lord Ganesha. After that, it was a sheer flow of the heart. In various languages, the boys expressed the inexpressible experiences with their dear Lord. As the different songs were sung, boys came forward with roses and a sheet containing the lyrics of the song being sung. A very famous story by Swami where a person tries to paint the whole world green because his guru had instructed him to see only green was enacted. The Guru then advises him thus, "Oh fool! Instead of wasting so much money, if you had brought yourself a pair of green glasses, the problem would be solved. Change your vision and everything will be fine."
There was also a dance. One boy said, "Swami, whatever I know of dancing is only because of you. Today, when I am able to teach some Bal Vikas students to dance in Your Presence, I feel fulfilled." After they danced for the popular devotional song, "Dandaalayya", Swami called the dancers and spoke to them. Towards the end, one of the students was blessed with a chain from Swami. After the final song, Swami said that He would grant group pictures to all the students. The students grabbed at the privileged opportunity, and as they went on to the stage in small groups, Swami thrilled all their hearts with smiles and Grace filled interactions. After all the groups were completed, one of the students asked Swami whether teachers too could have a group picture, and Swami readily agreed. It was a wonderful sight to see the Guru with all the teachers, and He also seemed immensely happy to be amidst them He granted paadanamaskar to all of them and spoke to them too. He also called and spoke to the students who were in colourful costumes. Swami blessed prasadam to be distributed to all. Then, receiving Aarthi and raising His Hands in benediction, Swami retired for the day.
March 15, 2008 – Swami Blesses GATE Rankers of the University
As the bhajans began at 5:00 pm on the evening of March 15, 2008, Swami came out for Darshan on the chair. He slowly moved from the ladies on to the gents’ side. He collected letters and then went into the interview room. Very shortly, however, the bhajans were halted. Students from the University had written the national GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering) examination for the various Sciences. The results were out and the students had performed exceedingly well. The nationwide second rank in Physics and various other ranks had been secured by the students of Swami's university. Swami decided to bless these students specially.
There is a very important difference between the ways humans judge something and the way God does the same. People judge others from the results they produce. Whether it’s in music or business, arts or sciences, the person is judged purely on the basis of the results he/she obtains. But with God, it’s so different. God is interested only in the efforts that have been put in to achieve the results. If the efforts put in are 100 percent and in full sincerity, He is happy, irrespective of the result. And that is why it is said that all are equal for God. We may all be different in terms of our talents and skills, and thus vary in the results we produce. But we are equal in the fact that we all can put in our 100 percent. And that is all that God is concerned about. Has this person put in the effort? The result comes nowhere in the picture for God. Only the humans judge by result.
Swami came on stage and a podium was set up for the Vice Chancellor to announce the results. As the VC went about the announcement, there was a loud and cheerful applause for all the candidates. The boy, who had secured the top rank, was presented before Him. Swami created a chain for him and put it around his neck. He then posed with him for a photograph.
After that, Swami called all the students who had cleared the exam to come on stage. Swami was so happy, and like a proud mother began speaking to all the students. There was no distinction for Him based on the ranks. He was just so happy with everyone. He asked for watches to be brought from inside. He personally began to hand over watches to each and every student who had made Him so happy and proud. It was such a beautiful scene. Swami was blessing and praising the students telling them that they were wonderful. The students were bowing to Him and saying that it had nothing to do with their intelligence, and that it was sheer Grace that they had done so well. As Swami completed the distribution of watches, one of the students expressed his desire to speak on the occasion. Swami agreed and the student was oozing with gratitude for Swami. He stated emphatically that it was completely Swami's Grace that they had achieved good results. After his speech, all the students gathered around Swami, and the Divine Master then asked many of them about their future plans.
Very soon Prof. Anil Kumar was called and Swami made him speak. He spoke very highly of the students narrating the multi faceted activities that they carry out. After that, he began mentioning each student by his name, and also mentioned about the various other activities that each student did in the Hostel and the Institute. Swami was many times moved into almost tears. It is such a beautiful feeling to be owned by the Lord. Even the tiniest joy that we are able to give Him comes back to us manifold. Please God and the world is pleased, they say. That statement found fulfillment that day. Make Swami your whole world and you become the whole world for Swami. After blessing all the students, Swami called for all the teachers. He posed for a huge group photo with all the teachers, and blessed all of them too. He, then, slowly made His way towards the interview room. Bhajans and Aarthi followed, after which Swami retired for the day.
March 22, 2008 – Holi Celebrations
In the afternoon of March 22, the stage had been set for a song and dance program by the devotees of Bihar and Jharkhand. On both, the gents and ladies side, there were groups of singers with various accompaniments ready to sing on the grandeur and colour of Holi. It will not be out of place to add a small note on Holi here. The festival of colours, as it is popularly known, is celebrated with great vigour and merriment in India, especially in the northern states. Holi takes place over two days in the later part of February or March.
On the first day bonfires are lit at night to signify burning the demoness Holika, the sister of demon Hiranyakashipu, who tried very hard in vain to kill his God loving son Prahalada. His sister had the boon that fires would not be able to touch her. But when she sat in a pyre with Prahalada on her lap, he emerged unscathed while she was reduced to ashes. On the second day, known as Dhulhendi, people spend the day throwing colored powder and water at each other. The spring season, during which the weather changes, is believed to cause viral fever and cold. Thus, the playful throwing of the colored powders has a medicinal significance: the colors are traditionally made of Neem, Kumkum, Haldi, Bilva and other medicinal herbs prescribed by Ayurvedic doctors. Basically, it is the celebration of the victory of Love for God over all the elements and forces in the Universe.
Swami arrived at Sai Kulwant Hall at 4.45 pm, welcomed by small children bearing lamps on either side of the path in the ladies side. The whole hall had been transformed into a palette of multiple of colours. Balloons of various hues and colours had been innovatively used to lend a rich splash and dash of colours in the Hall. Swami completed a full Darshan round and reached the stage. He, then, came out to the stage and there was a cheer. The programme commenced with a dance by children, while a song on Gayatri was being sung. The Gayatri was sung very soulfully and powerfully in the king of ragas - Darbari.
Then were songs for the occasion of "Pavitra Holi" as they termed it. This was the general trend of the programme. The songs continued on the beauty and joy that the festive Holi brings, and very aptly, the children danced in rhythm to the songs. Each song had a short note of introduction in English. They also requested Swami to visit Bihar and Jharkhand.
The songs were unique in the sense that the counter notes were sung very wonderfully along with the main tunes, the way it is done in western classical music. There was a song on the impact of Swami's education system, and especially the Sri Sathya Sai Village Integration Programme. The glory of Grama Seva was extolled beautifully in this song. The Shivaashtakam was also sang and it charged the entire atmosphere with a feeling of wonder and awe at the magnificence and sheer power of the Lord Shiva. The musical offerings continued for the next 45 minutes. At the end, Bhagavan blessed the performers with group photographs, and as a bonus for them, asked them to sing bhajans. They responded very joyously to Swami's command. Fifteen minutes of their Bhajans followed, till Swami accepted Arati and returned to His Residence.
March 23, 2008 – “Shabari” Drama by Bal Vikas Children from Bihar
The small drizzle in the previous day came as a respite to the thousands of devotees from the states of Bihar and Jharkand who had flocked to Prasanthi Nilayam to celebrate Holi in the Divine Presence of their Lord. After a wonderful dance-music extravaganza on March 22, on the evening of March 23 was a drama presentation by the Bal Vikas children of these states. The chief protagonist of the drama was the great devotee, Shabari. The early life of Shabari is not well known and this was brought out beautifully by the children. Bhagavan arrived into Sai Kulwant Hall at 5:40 pm and immediately took His place at the dais. Just before the programme commenced, He called a few primary school children and gave away goodies placed in lovely decorated baskets. What really caught attention was the number of baskets; there were easily about 15 baskets and really huge ones too.
The drama began with the little known story of Shabari’s early life, when as a child, on the occasion of her marriage, a poor little lamb is being sacrificed for her well being. Being born in a tribal community, that was the usual custom. Shabari questions her father about the virtue of such an act but is shunned. Unable to reconcile herself to be a part of such a meaningless ritual, she silently runs away from home to the ashram of the great sage Matanga.
Through her sheer dedication and selfless service, she pleases her guru who grants the boon of having the Darshan of the Lord when He would come as Rama. From then on the saga of devotion of that woman is truly heart rending. Every day, she sweeps the paths, cleans every stone and collects fresh fruits for her Lord. She does so uninterrupted for many long years until one day when her Lord arrives. There was one particular song which brought out the following meaning: “The mental agony of separation from You Lord is much more painful than the physical pain that the body undergoes; when will You come Lord?” Finally, the day arrives when the Lord is to come, and almost intuitively Mother Shabari knows that would be the day she would behold His Form. She sings, “How is it that all the birds are chirping away so gleefully, how is it that every flower is beaming with some extra hue and colour? Is it that today the Lord is going to come?…” And even as she is singing, Lord Rama with his brother Lakshmana, arrive there to redeem the great devotion of this pious devotee. The whole drama was staged wonderfully and everyone was deeply touched.
Swami immediately called Shabari and blessed her with a gold chain. It was very interesting to see Swami holding the chain in His Hands, stretched out to put it around even as ‘Shabari’ was adjusting her wig, unsuccessfully. In a way, it summed up man’s situation today. God is waiting to give, but we are too busy adjusting the appendages that we have so willfully put on ourselves. This was the second ‘Shabari’ getting a physical shower of love, as on December 23, 2007 the students of Swami had also put up a drama on the similar theme. Swami went on to bless the children with photographs. They were visibly ecstatic and overwhelmed. Swami retired for the day at 6:50 pm after receiving Mangala Arathi.
March 24, 2008 – Sri Sri Ravishankar’s Visit and Holi celebrations
His Holiness, Sri Sri Ravishankar had expressed a desire to meet Swami on March 24, 2008. Swami had permitted him to come in the morning at around 10:00 am. The perfect host that He is, Swami was out at 9:45 am and the bhajans were on in the morning. Swami sat for the bhajans and the singing went on. At about 10:10 am, Swami looked outside. All the devotees were singing with the joy of His Presence amidst them. And next, He called for the car.
As He was sitting in the car, Sri Ravishankar arrived. Swami went in the car and slowly made rounds amidst the devotees who had been sitting and singing bhajans for so long. There was a loud applause as Swami moved among the devotees. As Shirdi Baba, Swami had said, "Shraddha (faith) and Saburi (perseverance) are the two qualities most endearing to the Lord." And today, Swami went around proving that those two qualities are still held very dear by the Lord. He completed the round and came back to the portico when Sri Ravishankar rose from his chair to prostrate to Swami.
Swami stopped him and told him to go into the interview room. The interview lasted for about 45 minutes, after which Sri Sri Ravishankar left. Swami went into the Bhajan Hall, and after the bhajan asked for Aarthi. He sat for the complete Aarthi and retired for the morning at about 11:05 am.
In the evening, there was the concluding programme by the states of Bihar and Jharkhand for the festive Holi festival. The central marble block had been kept empty, and it was flanked on both sides by singers ready to express their love and devotion to Swami. Children waited behind the backdrop of the Sri Sathya Sai Village Integrated Programme or the SSSVIP as it is popularly called. Swami came for Darshan at about 5:20 pm. He took a detour after the ladies side, and came straight on the stage. As He sat, He seemed to signal to the Vedam group to stop, but as the tempo and pitch was dying, He looked and told them to continue! Then, He decided to come down and move around in the chair. He went towards the Primary School children, and the amplitude of the Veda chants went up immediately by several decibels! Swami seemed to enjoy that. After all "Veda Poshana" (Sustenance of the Vedas) is one of the primary goals of the Avatar. It is but natural that the Vedic chants receive a boost when the Avatar comes near! From the Primary School side, Swami moved towards the ladies, who were seated in the front. He spoke to a few of them inquiring into the details of the programme that they were about to stage. Then Swami went through the students on the gents side. He blessed all the boys sitting with trays and collected letters. He completed a round around the students and moved back on to the stage.
He, then, asked for the programme to begin. The first part was a garland of songs in Hindi. The five songs sung were all preceded by a short commentary in English on the meaning and significance of the song. Swami sat tapping His Right Hand to the rhythm of the songs. After the songs, two youth`s came in front and offered roses to Swami. The next programme was a short Hindi drama on the SSSVIP. It was the story of the transformation of a child who aims to become a big shot in life - a VIP. He thinks only of himself. He is not selfish, but he feels that a single person cannot do much to transform the world. Persuaded by a friend of his, when he goes for the Grama Seva, he is very touched at the scenes he witnesses.
A true incident where a whole village gets burnt down due to an unexpected fire was depicted. The Sai Youth then help rebuild the village in every way - physically, morally and spiritually. That village, presently, stands out as an ideal for all villages. The protagonist of the story decides that only that life is worth living which is spent in service to others, not because it redeems the world, but because it redeems and gives ultimate joy to the server! He is an example of the members of the youth brigade being touched and transformed by Swami's Love and Message. The drama concluded with a song of gratitude to Swami expressing the beauty of the bond that exists between Swami and every devotee.
Swami blessed all the participants and had prasadam distributed. It was 7:10 pm by the time Swami received Aarti and retired to Yajur Mandir.
- Heart2Heart Team
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