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PRASHANTI DIARY
Chronicles of Heaven on Earth

 

January 28, 2008 – Programme by Delhi Youth

January 28 was to be a special day for the youth who had arrived from Delhi. Swami had agreed for their song programme entitled, "Prema Arpan". The marble blocks had been occupied partly by the Delhi youth and they waited patiently with a prayer on their lips. Swami arrived for Darshan at about 5:15 pm. He went for the complete round and then alighted near the interview room. He was beaming smiles when He took His place on the stage which gave hints to all of how beautiful an evening it was going to be. He saw the singers seated right in the front and like a child asked,” Are you going to sing?" When the reply was an affirmative, He asked them to begin.

Two lads went up on stage with a card and rose. After obtaining personal blessings on behalf of the whole group, they returned to their places and the songs began. The first one described Swami as being everything for everyone; He, who pervading everything, brings joy to all. Two more songs followed which were filled with descriptions of His magnificence and glory. All the songs were set to lively tunes and the selection of the instruments being played was unique and interesting too. These were all achieved, however, with one keyboard. Though an almost confusing array of instruments is available as choices on the modern keyboards, they chose the most apt ones which added the right flavour to the songs.

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An Offering of Love...
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....dedicated at His Lotus Feet
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The fourth song was a Qawwali for which a few members of the group went on their knees to sing, with the traditional clapping and swaying from side to side. Swami was a bit amused at the sight of the different swinging actions being performed in front of Him. He once even jokingly asked them to sit down and sing! A few songs later, Swami asked them whether they were through and they replied that there was one more song. Call it a coincidence or a small miracle, but there is one observation that the regular attendee of music programmes in Puttaparthi can make if he/she is a little attentive: Many times a group of singers perform and somehow as they sing their penultimate song, Swami seems to ask them, "Is it over?" The invariable reply is, "Swami, one more!" And then He nods in agreement. This little drama that takes place on such a regular basis is so full of meaning.

For one, it is direct proof of Swami's omniscience and if this is fully grasped, it becomes evident that the performance is superfluous as far as Swami is concerned, but He still does it out of His Love for His children. At times when He has surprised His students to perform suddenly out of the blue, that question acts as a balm that the test is nearing its close while everyone in the audience are amazed as they think, "These students are marvelous; Swami asked them to sing and they are so ready. They could go on like this for hours but they stop because Swami says so." Little do they know of Swami's motherly pride and affection that is behind that innocent question. On other occasions when there is a line up of singers and performers of the highest calibre waiting to perform for Him, that question is a gentle way of ensuring that all get a chance to present their devotion without getting "hurt" in the human way that they did not get the chance to offer all their wares!

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The qawwali begins.....
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"Oh Lord! Delhi is waiting for you"
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The last song was the adaptation of the bhajan, "Aana Hi Padega" which the youth sang inviting Swami to Delhi. At the end of it Swami blessed the youth with abhayahasta. He called all the singers and materialized Vibhuti for them. Then He asked for white safari pieces to be presented to all the performers and later went into the interview room. When He returned after a short while, He had sarees for all the ladies who had also been sitting as a group. To their great joy, Swami asked them too to sing. They sang a few bhajans after which Swami asked, "Mana Pillalu Ekkada? (Where are our children?)" The students came out in a flood and then began a unique bhajan session with the traditional Aalaaps being sung before the bhajans. After four bhajans, Swami received Aarthi, blessed prasadam to be given to all and retired for the day.

January 31, 2008 – “Bhaktha Meera” by Higher Secondary School Boys

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On January 30, Swami surprised the students of the 11th class of the Higher Secondary School when He entered the Bhajan Hall and asked, "Where is the Meerabai drama?" The students had prepared the drama and had asked Swami for an opportunity to present it before Him the previous day. And then all the drama boys had gone rushing into the Hall and the Kind Lord blessed them all with His divine words and Paadanamaskar. So, as per His wish, the students had come prepared with the drama on January 31 and the stage had been set.

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Swami arrives at the actors' "assembly point."
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The "Krishnas"and "Meeras" are scrutinised ....
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Swami came out for Darshan at about 5:00 pm. He completed the rounds and went into the Bhajan Hall after alighting near the interview room. All the students received Him in all eagerness and Swami immediately began interacting with them. He even checked the costumes of the ‘Krishnas’ and ‘Meeras’ (There were more than one Krishna and Meera – one little and one older of each character). Looking at one richly dressed boy on His left, He asked, "Who are you?" "Swami, I am a king," he said and stood up in a very regal and majestic manner. Seeing that, Swami smiled and the boy too bowed down from his royal gait and smiled folding his hands. Swami then remarked that Lord Krishna had been made a little too dark and asked for the make-up boys.

All the costume department boys and teachers came forward and the question turned out to be an excuse to shower His Blessings on all of them. Swami made it a point to ask almost every boy in costume what his role in the drama was. Each one introduced himself - ‘Akbar’, ‘Tansen’, ‘Rajguru’, ‘Meerabai's maids’ and ‘saints who influence Meerabai’ and so on. Seeing 'Akbar's daughter' standing at a distance, Swami enquired who 'she' was. ‘She’ came front and Swami called out, "Aye Akbar! This is your daughter. Take good care of her, else bad friends will spoil her!" Everybody broke into laughter.  In this manner, He spoke to almost all the characters and blessing them all, He enquired about the duration of the drama. They replied, "Swami, 50 minutes." Swami then came to the stage from the Bhajan Hall.

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Special concern for His "lady" devotees!
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"Akbar take care of your daugter"
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The sets for the drama had been arranged and they looked grand. Swami waited for all the children to get ready and then the drama began. It started with a troupe of performers arriving to the king's court with the desire to perform a play on the great devotees of Krishna, Meerabai in particular. The story depiction begins with little Meera being gifted with the idol of her darling Lord Krishna. She spends a happy childhood playing with the idol and always feels the presence of the Lord in her life.

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Meera meets the Love of her life...
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...then begins the divine romance
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Soon she is married into the Sisodiya family. There her worship to Lord Krishna is not taken favourably as they feel that the traditional deity, Durga Maa, is being slighted. But for Meera, Krishna is the very life breath. Meanwhile, the great singer Tansen, cures Emperor Akbar's daughter of a very serious disease through the sheer power of his music which wins the Lord's favour. But he tells Akbar that there is a voice that is divine as it sings only for the Emperor of the Universe. He takes the emperor in secret to the temple where Meera is worshipping Krishna.

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Meera spurns the concept of animal sacrifices
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Akbar's daughter healed by prayer alone
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Witnessing the Divine Love that Meera had for Krishna and hearing her singing while dancing, Akbar is lost in divine fervour. He gifts Meera a pearl necklace in the name of Krishna which she accepts and puts around the idol of her beloved. This act is espied upon and the complaints to the emperor about Meera are on the rise. He orders poison to be given to Meera and it turns into nectar.

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Akbar and Tansen enraptured by Meera's devotion
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They are not recognised in their plain clothes
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The crowning moment of the drama, was preceded by a song which literally struck a chord in everyone's heart and filled the entire hall with feelings of intense longing for the Lord. As the song, "Darshan Deejo Aavo Pyaare" began, Meera opened up her heart to the Lord. Swami too at this point was very engrossed in the song and the feelings. The boy who was delivering Meera's voice too seemed overcome with emotion as his voice began to choke. Everyone including Swami seemed to be identifying with Meera's pangs of separation from Krishna. Swami was very touched as the song concluded with the appearance of Lord Krishna. A huge applause of joy and celebration erupted all around the hall. The drama ended with the famous Dandiya Raas (dance) of Krishna with Meera offering herself completely at his feet. Swami immediately called Meera to come up the stage and materialized a beautiful gold chain with a pendant for ‘her’. The Lord accepted His devotee when she gave herself up entirely to Him.

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Poison offered as Charanamrit...
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Final salvation at The Feet
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What followed next was the Lord giving Himself entirely to His children. Swami posed for photos with the boys in small groups of 5-6. Blessing all the boys with prasadam and Abhayahasta, Swami received Aarthi and left.

February 9-10, 2008 – Adilabad Parthi Yatra

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“We come from a remote place. We have never seen such glory, or grandeur, and more importantly, we have never seen a living GOD…we have never experienced such love before,” expressed those group of devotees. There was innocence in their expression, honesty in their eyes, and simplicity in their appearance. They belonged to a very remote village bordering Maharastra in the district of Adilabad, Andhra Pradesh. On the eve of November 23, these villagers had performed a special milk abhishekam to the Shiva lingam of their temple which was later distributed as theertham (consecrated liquid). But the quantity was insufficient and many could not receive the holy theertham. However, they accepted it as the will of their Sai Shiva and the temple was locked for the night. In celebration of their beloved Sai’s Birthday, the whole village gathered around the temple in the wee hours of November 23. As the temple doors were opened, the whole village stood shocked. There were two pots full of theertham right in front of the lingam – It was Sai’s Birthday gift to His devotees! The same night the whole village was soaked in complete darkness as there was an unusual power cut. Then suddenly they found the ‘Sai Kalashams’ (sacred containers) installed in all the houses emitting a soothing glow. As part of district wide ‘Satya Sai Vrata’ programme, many devotees offered a single rice grain into those kalashams (containers) while chanting each of the 108 names of Sai for 82 days. They had never witnessed anything of this sort before. They felt blessed; they were proud for they felt that they have been chosen by ‘God’ to witness His power. As they came to Puttaparthi they realized that the ‘strange things’ of their village were appallingly insignificant when compared to the Love of their living God.

They were part of 2500 devotees from Adilabad district who had come to Puttaparthi to catch a glimpse of their Beloved Swami. The Adilabad group consisted of individuals of different ages and belonging to varied economic classes, yet they were united by the single desire of experiencing the Love of their God. They had traveled in 35 buses to reach Puttaparthi on February 9. They had prayed for more than a year to see this day materialize. Some had visited around 600 remote villages of the district and served the needy villagers, others did “Vratam” for 82 long days, some circumambulated 108 times for two months around Sai temples, yet another group organised special spiritual sessions in all the towns of the district, and some others simply pined…..but all of them yearned to be admitted on to the soil of Puttaparthi on that day.

On the afternoon of February 9, as Swami sat in the hall for the music program of these devotees, someone from the group expressed, “Swami we have come not to seek favors from You. We have come to experience the bliss of Your Darshan and carry back Your Form in our hearts. Swami, all that we seek is You and Your love alone.” Swami in response lovingly called the young District President and said, “I am coming to Adilabad within a year.” This was followed by the devotees of Adilabad offering their feelings in the form of songs; amongst them was also a blind singer. He said, “Like the rest, I may not be able to see the beautiful form of Sai, but through my music I shall experience His touch.” And then he sang. It was a ceaseless flow of melody. Good melody might elicit appreciation from Swami, but the feeling behind the melody draws response from Him. As his songs came to an end, a visibly touched Swami called the District President and said, “I will felicitate this singer tomorrow.” As the program came to a conclusion Swami asked for the “Ghatam” player and materialized a beautiful chain for him.

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Cannot say who is happier of the two!!
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A chain for the ghatam player!
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On the morning of February 10, Swami had permitted the devotees to sing bhajans in Mandir. In the evening, they offered a drama entitled ‘Sri Sai Vaibhavam’. Everyone sat in readiness for Swami to arrive. Swami came at about 5:05 pm in the car. A thrill seemed to course through the crowd and they expressed it by clapping out loud. Swami took His seat towards the ladies side of the stage and then began the initial formalities.

To a viewer who always sits and sees the programmes as they happen, the initial rose offerings and card showing may seem like "formalities". But these are opportunities of a lifetime for the people concerned. In that short moment, every time, more than just a rose or card is exchanged! What goes on there is best understood by a heart that has longed for God and received His never failing Grace when that longing intensifies. The devotees came forward and received His blessings. The main actors of the drama about to be staged also came forward and made their offerings. A special silver lamp was brought forward and Swami lit it to mark the auspicious beginning of the programme.

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The drama director with The Director
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The card is presented
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The drama began with the entry of King Krishnadevaraya into his court with his nine gems - poets and musicians of great acclaim. They begin a discussion on how their kingdom is blessed as God has chosen to be born there. The discussion that prevailed in Telugu was so full of alluding alliterations, funny puns and rich poetry that even those with a faint acquaintance of Telugu were able to enjoy the musical flow and the sounds of the language. Many of Swami's rich Telugu poetic compositions were presented as the King kept throwing one challenge after another at the poets.

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Telugu flow at its best
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Welcome to all the poets
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For instance, when the king asks a poet to compose a poem with four words that rhyme but have no apparent connection, the poet comes up with a thought provoking poem about the human body which is a repository of diseases. Having such an ephemeral body, foolish man, why do you not seek the permanent and ever blissful Lord? When the question as to what can be offered to the Lord comes up, the answer is that we are incapable of giving anything to the Lord who has in fact given everything to us. The best we can do is to offer the Love that we have been gifted by Him in our hearts back to Him. Some of the poems were a sheer connoisseur's delight as they were entirely composed of single letters - "ka" and "la"! While it was the sheer brilliance of poetry for the ones with knowledge of pristine pure Telugu, it was musical for all the others! Everyone enjoyed it all the same. There was also the famous, "Ye Aav Ra Ba Va" by Tenali Ramakrishna which is a statement containing the same meaning word from five languages and yet making complete sense as a sentence on its own too! As Swami narrates it, it literally means, "Which cow brother-in-law?" But broken further, ‘Ye’ in Marathi, ‘Aav’ in Hindi, ‘Ra’ in Telugu, ‘Ba’ in Kannada and ‘Va’ in Tamil - all mean "come"! The king himself, not to be left behind, conjured poetic magic with the poems he recited.

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Krishnadevaraya regales everyone with his poetry
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One of the colourful dances that lit up the evening
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The grand finale came as all the courtiers jointly sang the glories of Swami and then the king felt sad that he is unable to be with the Lord who is gracing his own land. At that time, the Shiva lingam in the royal court hall turns and in it is Swami - come to grant darshan for the pining king! The entire drama had been tastefully laced with songs apt for the topics being discussed and these in turn had been well tuned for dances. The dances and songs took place as though in the royal assembly hall itself. Throughout the drama, Swami seemed so involved that every time a thumping statement was made, He would nod vehemently, and each time an emotion coursed through the king or the courtiers, it seemed to pass through Him too. As the drama concluded, Swami called the boy, who acted as the King Krishnadevaraya, to come forward and created for him a chain with a beautiful Shirdi Sai Baba pendant on it. He put it around his neck, even as the final dance sequence was on.

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The popular Shivatandavam dance
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Krishnadevaraya is blessed with a chain!
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As the first programme, an offering of Love by the devotees unto their Lord, concluded, the second programme - the shower of Love by the Lord – began! Swami sat tapping His Hands rhythmically for the concluding song, and as that concluded, He smilingly blessed all of them. Then they brought a jhoola (swing) on which they invited Swami to sit. Swami agreed and went down the stage. He posed for pictures with all of them, and then it happened - a dam seemed to burst somewhere and there was a flood of tears all around. The children were crying profusely calling out, "Swami ... Swami..." It was such a spontaneous outburst and it built up in momentum and volume. Swami was looking all around and the Mother amidst hundreds of Her children was trying to tell everyone why they must not cry. He wiped the tears of some of the children and He too shed tears along with them. The scene was most touching and it reminded one of what happens in life. All of us cry for various things, but when we cry for Swami, He is there to wipe our tears and share in our sorrows and joys alike.

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The Vishwaroopa with Swami in the centre
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Swami on the special Jhoola (swing)
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Swami then got up from the chair and walking up to the jhoola (swing), sat on it. He was beaming smiles drinking deep of the devotion of all His children from Adilabad. Almost every member of the troupe took the opportunity of Paadanamaskar. After about ten minutes with all of them, Swami returned to the stage.

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Swami is so happy that He decides
to address the devotees
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It was about 7:20 pm and everybody thought that surely He would now receive aarthi. But the Lord asked for His mike to be brought! The next ten minutes were a shower of pure Grace and Love as Swami directly addressed the devotees without any translation. He said that He was very happy with the programme that Adilabad devotees had put up. The acting and dialogue delivery were all from the heart and that King Krishnadevaraya acted very well. Swami had never seen such a performance in Prashanti Nilayam ever before. Such dramas must be encouraged and be shown to people everywhere. Swami's heart had been won and the devotees have given immense joy to Swami, He said.

Any praise or appreciation anyone would have wanted to shower became totally superfluous as Swami literally sang the glory of their devotion and happiness. He concluded by saying that one must never give up singing bhajans, for that alone is the thing that confers joy. He sang, "Hari bhajana bina…" which everyone followed enthusiastically. As this concluded, Swami asked them to continue singing bhajans. Then were brought sarees and white safari pieces! And the white cloth pieces were in two sizes to cater to the elders and the children. As the bhajans went on, Swami called each one and gifted personally the sarees and safari pieces along with the prized padanamaskar.

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Sarees for the girls...
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...and white cloth pieces for the boys
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The combination of talent and humility is the most potent one to win the Lord's heart. The drama had demonstrated both these virtues in abundant measure and Swami visibly was extremely pleased with the effort. He stayed till 8:05 pm blessing all the participants! He then received aarthi and left, leaving everyone with joy and devotion lingering in their beings.

February 12, 2008 – Chants by Buddhist Monks

A bedecked Sai Kulwant hall awaited Swami's arrival in the afternoon on February 12 as the entire marble block was filled up by Buddhist monks, who have now made it an annual ritual to visit Puttaparthi at the beginning of their new year to pray in the Divine Presence. On either side, the Buddhist devotees wore their most colourful dresses to appear as a splash of rich colour to their dear Lord.

Swami came out for Darshan at about 5:25 pm. He went for a complete round in the car and as He passed by the marble blocks, His entire attention seemed to be on the monks. He then alighted from the Car, came straight onto the stage, and asked for the chanting to begin.

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The Buddhist monks assemble for the chants
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It is red decorations everywhere!
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A girl and a lad stood up with mikes in their hands.  They sported huge smiles, delighted at this opportunity to speak in front of Swami and Swami too reciprocated with smiles. The Vedic chants ceased to give way to ‘sister chants’ that were about to begin. Before that, however, a plethora of traditional items were taken to Swami for His blessings. He blessed each and every one of the items with utmost joy and beautiful smiles.

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Offering of silk scarves at His Lotus Feet
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Getting the token talismans blessed
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Then the children started the compeering. They explained the importance of each traditional and sacred item and revealed the significance of the chants that would be chanted. The medicine Buddha Mantra was a prayer to Swami to heal Himself. Swami sat with a charming smile that seemed to say, "I am perfectly fine! But, you pray as your heart desires and I shall respond!" The chanting was accompanied by Tibetan trumpets, drums and cymbals. The deep throated chants cast a kind of different mood in a place that has been the recipient of high pitched Vedic chants over the years.

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The "Medicine Buddha" mantra is chanted
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Next is The White Tara mantra
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There was also the chanting of the "White Tara Mantra". The Buddhist hymns went on and at some critical junctures, jasmine flowers were thrown up in the air and bells rang out adding rhythm to the procedure. The specially composed, "Bhagavan Baba Eternal Mantra" was also chanted.

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The traditional "prayer wheel"
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...and the special bell
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In between, the two young comperes explained the general purport and import of the proceedings being carried out. Towards the end, the monks got baskets full of talismans blessed by Swami, after which they went about distributing them to everyone assembled. Swami also blessed the prasadam specially packed for the occasion to be distributed to all. He was all smiles and blessings towards the monks, especially towards the lad who was anchoring the proceedings.

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Prayer and worship to Swami....
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...for Swami's health !
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After that, Swami received arthi and as He left for the car, He conferred the Divine Abhayahastha on all. Then He retired for the evening.

February 13, 2008 - Chinese New Year Day

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With Love from China!
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The whole of Prasanthi Nilayam seemed to have donned red vestures. The devotees from Indonesia, China and Malaysia had all gathered to celebrate the holy Chinese New Year in Swami's Physical Presence on February 13. The preparations had been made on a grand scale. A colourful and cheerful procession had been arranged to lead Swami from His Residence to the Sai Kulwant Hall. A beautiful and ornate altar with Buddha had been made on the stage to mark the occasion.

The minute Swami came out of Yajur Mandir, there was an explosion almost! Oriental trumpet blasts and Chinese drum bongs reverberated in the whole hall as two stately lions sprang up majestically forming the pilot of the welcome procession for the Lord. Lamps and the devotees' hearts alike lit up. Very soon a thrill of joy and surge of devotion coursed through the whole assembly as it came to be known that Swami was coming on the chair. One could not have hoped to welcome the New Year in a better fashion. Swami seemed to continue exactly where He had left off yesterday! He was beaming and the His smiles were spread all around. As He completed the ladies' side and moved on to the gents’ side, the welcoming procession with the lions reached the central marble block.

Swami went around the densely packed gents’ side and as necks craned to catch a glimpse of Him, His Right Hand went up frequently in benediction to all. Taking a round of the portico, Swami came onto the stage and lit the candles to be placed in the specially decorated altar.

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The leaping lions' offering of Love
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The lamp for the Buddha altar is lit
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Sitting on the ladies side of the stage, He asked for the programme to begin. The Veda chanting ceased and the drum beating reached a new crescendo. The lions came up front and displayed the famous acrobatics of the renowned lion dance. They ended with a stretched-out standing salute to Swami and were accorded a huge round of applause.  A whole lot of traditional items were presented to Swami and He very smilingly blessed each one. The first item of the evening was a performance by a lady on a very ancient Chinese traditional instrument. She came up to Swami and offered a rose with her salutations, and then she began. The instrument was very rich and filling all by itself. The melody seemed to transport everyone into some ancient Chinese empire - say to the decked corridors of the Ming dynasty! The sight to behold was also rich and colourful. Swami sat – as an Emperor on His Throne - and all around, the tapestry, lamps and festoons built up a vibrant atmospherel.

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Blessings to begin the programme...
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The modern instrumentalist on an ancient instrument
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During the last Chinese New Year, Swami had asked, "Where are the Chinese?" The truth was that though Malaysian and Indonesian Buddhists had gathered, devotees from China were few. So the announcer said and proclaimed, "Now we have an original Chinese quintet performing for us." The five of them offered their salutations to Swami and then began playing on the instruments, which looked like modifications of the violin. There was a Xylophone like instrument and the tambourine. They played popular Sanskrit and Chinese bhajans and received Swami's and the crowd's appreciation.

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The performers offer their salutations to Swami
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The Chinese quintet performs..
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The final and major programme of the evening was a drama depicting the ancient values of the Chinese culture. But before that, there was a short talk by Mr. Billy Fong, President of the Sathya Sai Baba Central Council of Malaysia, which highlighted all the service activities that were being undertaken in the respective Sai Samithis of the different regions. Commendable service had been rendered in village service, education and health. A PowerPoint presentation was also made depicting the various facets of the above mentioned service activities. At the end of the speech, a book was brought up to Swami and Swami most lovingly and graciously signed it! After that,a drama entitled, The Eyelids Protect the Eye’ commenced.

The drama, depicted the true story of Tan Ah Lek, a Malaysian devotee of Bhagawan Baba who embodied the values of courage, love and filial piety towards his mother and firm faith and love for God. Even as a child, Ah Lek lost his father and his mother brought him up according to the ancient Chinese traditions and instilled in him many values by narrating inspiring stories of great persons of Chinese heritage. The drama beautifully portrayed three such stories as flashbacks.  

One day, Ah Lek’s mother is injured when the gas tank in their house bursts in to flames. Upon hearing his mother’s cries for help, Ah Lek rushes to the kitchen and rescues his mother, but in the process, sustains fatal burns. After a few days, Ah Lek’s mother recovers, but Ah Lek is still in a critical condition in the hospital. This news soon spreads all over the country and all the Sai devotees come together to pray fervently to their Lord Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba for succor. And by Bhagawan’s miraculous intervention, Ah Lek recovers and lives to tell this moving story of how Bhagawan protected him and granted him a new lease of life.

 

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Always there for his mother....
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"Mother is the form of God verily."
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As the drama concluded with a grand flood of colours and clothes, Swami seemed very happy. The final formation was so full of energy and enthusiasm. It looked marvelous and out of this world. Swami came down the stage and went directly to the actors. He saw the boy who had almost sacrificed his life for his mother, waved His hand and materialised a chain for him. Soon afterwards, He materialized another chain for another "ideal son" of the drama.

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Swami wades into the grand flood of colours
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Blessings galore for all present
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He also spoke to many of them and blessed them. He moved through the entire group and they were all so thrilled and happy. They began chanting, "We love you Baba! We love you Baba!" Swami smilingly looked at them and kept telling, "I love you too!" The Truth of the statement that God is a pure mirror who just reflects our feelings was easily understood by all those who witnessed this loving spectacle. He granted group photos and almost everyone had the chance to touch His feet. He went back on stage and then blessed the prasadam to be distributed to all. He, then, asked for bhajans and needless to say, the volume and tempo of the bhajans sung were sky high. Swami kept rhythm tapping His hands. After 15 minutes of sheer enthusiastic ecstasy, Swami received aarthi, blessed all with Abhayahastha and retired for the day.

February 24, 2008 – Gratitude Offering by Brindavan Boys

The 3rd year Undergraduate students from the Brindavan campus of the Institute had arrived to Puttaparthi in keeping with a very noble and holy tradition - the Gratitude programme. Studying in Swami's college is such a boon and the blessings that shower upon the students is in such abundance that when it is time to step out of the University portals an overwhelming feeling fills the being of every student. As he/she nostalgically recalls the beautiful way in which Swami has been with him/her, guiding, guarding and sharing all the joys and sorrows, a smile streaks across the face and a tear courses down the cheek. The multifarious meanings and feelings carried by that single word ‘Swami’ become evident and the impending parting from the physical proximity of dear Bhagavan makes the heart feel as it has never felt before. The summation and external expression of all these feelings, thoughts and emotions is the Gratitude programme. The word "programme" has been used by the force of sheer habit. It is more of a personal and heartfelt conversation between the Lord and a devotee, a Mother and her child, a Guru and His dear disciple.

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"The children have come...."
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"The Mother has arrived!!"
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The students sat waiting for Swami to arrive. Swami came at about 5:15 pm and everyone sat up alert. Swami went around during Darshan and then as He came out of the car in the portico, He exchanged a few words with the warden of the Brindavan hostel. Then He came out, sat on the stage and asked for the students to begin. What took place over the next 40 minutes or so was the free flow of Love from both sides. The children just poured forth their Love and Gratitude and the Mother for once was at the receiving end! Songs of gratitude, love and remembrances filled the air as the boys sang out in unison.

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Speaking through divine eyes....
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....expressions from the heart.
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As they say, there are no barriers of language for Love. In fact, the different languages, like the various flowers in a bouquet, filled up the atmosphere with their own sweet scented fragrances as boys from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Assam to Gujarat attempted to put into words the grandeur and bliss of their Love filled experience with their Swami. Feelings expressed in Hindi, English, Telugu, Tulu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Oriya, Nepali, etc. were some of the flowers presented in the evening's beautiful bouquet.

There was a particular popular song which said, "Whatever the child ever feels, oh mother, you know it even before that feeling has been felt." The boy sang it out soulfully and everyone watched this unfolding of Love with smiles of admiration. Stories of how Swami filled those desolate lonely hours with joy and mirth; of how He stood by His children in the most challenging of times; of how, though He was physically far away, He cherished them in His heart; and of how they felt Him with them every time they needed Him, were narrated with great love. Some of the students had lost their parents early in life and Swami had filled that void with His Love and Grace. There were also portions where the students celebrated the Truth that Swami was always there for them. There was a depiction from the Ramayana adding physical colour to an emotionally colourful evening.

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The demon Vibheeshana is accepted by Rama
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Feelings and emotions pour out ceaselessly..
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It is, indeed, a very difficult task to capture what exactly happened in "programmes" such as these because many times, nay most of the times, it is a conversation between Swami and the child. The evening ended on a note of pangs of separation from the Lord as the students prayed to Swami to come to Brindavan. So strong was the pining and desperate the pangs of separation that Swami's eyes seemed to well up with tears. He said, "I will come. I will definitely come. I am also waiting to come." Banners in Telugu and English opened up.

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The dance of gaiety and celebration
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A soulful prayer to The Lord
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To the boy who so soulfully and poetically had expressed the drought in Brindavan due to Swami's physical absence, Swami materialized a beautiful gold chain.

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The boy who was "chained" by Swami's love!
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The "FAMILY PHOTOGRAPH"
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He called out for Rama and Lakshmana and using their support walked down the stage and then posed for what we may call ‘family photographs’. He received letters by the dozen and almost every boy got a chance to take padanamaskar. Swami went on stage and again posed for photos with small groups of boys. As Prasadam, laddoos were brought, Swami personally distributed the sweet to each boy. Those laddoos must have been the sweetest for they were dripping with His Love and were gifted with His smile! Swami then gave the same to all the teachers from Brindavan who had accompanied the boys to Puttaparthi. After saturating all hearts with joy and bliss divine, Swami received aarthi and retired for the day.

- Heart2Heart Team


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Vol 6 Issue 03 - MARCH 2008
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