April 3, 2009 – Ram Navami in the Divine Presence
Food, clothing and shelter are the three basic necessities of life. Anyone who doesn't have comfortable access to these three is considered poor by the society! April 3 was to be an 'enriching' day in ways more than one, and it would be an enjoyable experience to go through the day in the order of events as they unfolded. The trainloads of people, rendered hapless and homeless by the fury of the floods in Orissa, were dressed majestically in their sarees and dhotis that Swami had gifted them the previous day. It was a very special day for them, a turning point in all their lives, as many of them seemed to admit. They were to receive the key to their new home- homes that had been built by Swami for them - in the Divine Presence. They unanimously felt and experienced that this was not a mere key to their homes but the key to solve their miseries and problems, and more importantly, the key to their undying happiness.
They were seated as families, two or three members together, in the marbled blocks of Sai Kulwant Hall. A carpeted path ran through the blocks of people. Banners heralding the function were displayed at vantage points in the Hall. “Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust. Orissa Flood Rehabilitation Housing Project - Allotment of Houses to Beneficiaries by the Divine Hands” was the message in the banners. Maps containing the regions where the houses are built were placed in important locations in the Hall. Swami arrived, so grand and beautiful, on the golden throne chair. He was dressed in the golden pitambara (yellow cloth) robe. A mere sight of Him advancing thus towards the hall in the afternoon sunlight filled everyone with anticipative excitement. The minute Swami reached the centre of the hall, He cut and moved towards the stage. He was very eager to have the distribution started. Nearing the stage, He sat in the chair, in front of all the people assembled in the marbled blocks. The keys to the homes had been neatly arranged in trays in the front. Swami blessed the keys and asked the All India President and other elders to begin the distribution immediately. And so, the much-awaited moment for the 200 families arrived.
It was with tears of gratitude and joy that they received the key to not just their homes but to their redemption too! They were also given a hamper that contained mats, vessels, plates, tumblers and ladles - items that are vital for them and yet are conspicuous by their absence in their lives! These people are among the poorest of the poor and they had lost whatever precious little they had had to the floods. The joy radiating on their faces and joyful tears welling up in their eyes made one wonder whether the ravaging floods were really a curse upon them? It had brought them to the feet of the Lord and made them the beneficiaries of His immense Grace and bounty. On Sri Rama Navami, everyone present in Sai Kulwant Hall saw this beautiful facet of service to mankind in Swami's Rama Rajyam (the Rule of Sai Rama)!
Swami sat, very silent, witnessing the entire distribution in progress. He personally checked whether every person seated there received the gifts of grace. The State President of the Orissa Sai Organisation expressed his deepest gratitude on behalf of the state to Swami and requested Him to speak to all. Swami told him that He would speak in the evening. As the distribution was nearing its close, Swami started to move down the lines of recipients. He moved through the centre of the blocks of seated people and all of them bowed to Him. A lucky few, evading the ever-growing security cordon, managed to touch His feet. Swami was all smiles and even seemed to tell the security people to be lenient! He moved behind all the way to the main gate and then traced His path back to the stage. He seemed so happy and satisfied. He is most happy when everyone around is happy! All the while, the Veda chanting maintained a holy and vibrant background for the proceedings. Swami blessed prasadam to be distributed to all. Then, knowing the inner cravings of all the hearts, Swami asked for photos to be distributed to all the beneficiaries. As they say, coincidences are miracles where God remains anonymous. The photos distributed to them were of Swami in a yellow robe granting the abhayahastha, a perfect souvenir to remember this beautiful moment with Swami. It was 10:20 a.m., when Swami received aarthi and retired for the morning.
Swami arrived for darshan in the evening and took a complete round. The student numbers had dwindled and so had the devotees. As Swami passed through the students' block, many of them offered letters to Him. Swami, pointing to His heart, said, "Keep them in the heart. That’s enough!" Arriving on the stage, Swami blessed the All India President of the Sai Organisation to address the gathering. Referring to a line in a bhajan, “Prem Ki Behati Dhara …” (flow of stream of love), the learned speaker said that the beneficiaries were experiencing Bhagavan’s love and compassion in abundant measure. He then introduced the two speakers for the day.
Dr. Ramesh Chandra Panda, senior IAS officer from the Tamil Nadu cadre, began his speech by offering his obeisance at the Lotus Feet of his Guru of gurus. The erudite speaker said at the outset that he is a humble instrument to transmit Bhagavan’s message to the beneficiaries, and so would speak in Oriya, the language of the people of Orissa. Speaking of the various humanitarian projects of Swami, the speaker said that students in His educational institutions practice Bhagavan’s precept, 'Education is not for a mere living, but for leading a good life'. Expressing the myriad feelings of everyone about the housing rehabilitation project in Orissa he concluded his speech with the shloka,'Twameva Mathacha Pitha Twameva' that states that the Lord is our everything.
The next speaker, Mr. R. Kondal Rao, formerly chief engineer in the Panchayat Department of Andhra Pradesh, and also associated with many of the major service projects of Bhagavan, began his speech expressing his gratitude to Swami on being given the opportunity to speak on the holy occasion of Sri Rama Navami. He started with giving the reasons for the floods. About 15 lakh cusecs flowed from the River Mahanadi due to the torrential rains, whereas its capacity was only 10 lakh cusecs. As a result, the river breached its barriers and entered human habitations. The floods washed more than 50,000 houses away! The Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation, Orissa, quickly swung into action by providing cooked food and medical relief to affected people. They had to travel even in boats to inaccessible places. When Bhagawan saw the photographs of the large-scale destruction of houses, He immediately wanted concrete houses to be constructed for the victims. A team comprising Mr. V. Srinivasan, Mr. A. Ramakrishna and Mr. R. Kondal Rao was sent by Bhagavan to assess the damage on October 19, 2008. It has been a long and eventful journey since then. You can read this fascinating and overwhelming account in the cover story of the March 2009 issue of H2H which is in two parts: Part-1 and Part-2.
Mr. Kondal Rao concluded his speech by saying that it was only Bhagavan’s grace, which had helped them to do this work. After his speech, Bhagavan gave His Discourse to the huge gathering of devotees. The excerpts of which are as follows:
Sweeter than sugar, tastier than curd, sweeter indeed than honey is the Name of Rama. Constant repetition of this sweet Name gives one the taste of divine nectar itself. Therefore, one should contemplate on the Name of Rama incessantly. (Telugu Poem)
Bharat is the motherland of many noble souls who earned great name and fame in all the continents of the world. This is the land of valorous people who vanquished foreign rulers and attained independence. This is the land, which excelled in music, literature and other fine arts. Having been born in this great land of Bharat, oh boys and girls, it is your sacred duty to protect its rich cultural heritage. (Telugu Poem)
From the very birth, there are no children in this land of Bharat who do not chant God’s name. Children are given names of God so that parents get an opportunity to remember the name of God. In this land of Bharat, there is no village without a temple. From times immemorial, this land has given importance to spirituality. If Bharatiyas are happy and leading a secure life, it is due to their spiritual way of life. Every Bharatiya has self-confidence. They may be poor, but youngsters in this land have come up in their life by studying even under streetlights. Whether the adversities come in the form of explosion of bombs or floods, Bharatiyas depend on God. If you depend on God, you will not face difficulties. Miseries and difficulties are like passing clouds, they come and go.
Dasaratha had three wives – Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi. A daughter was born to Kausalya, but a daughter cannot be crowned as heir to the throne. Dasaratha and Kausalya gave away the daughter to Sage Rishyasringa. He taught her all kinds of education. As there was no male child in the family who could ascend the throne, Sumanthara and other ministers asked Dasaratha to perform Putra Kamesti Yaga. They thought only Rishyasringa was competent to perform the Yaga. During the performance of Yaga, a divine being emerged from the sacrificial fire and handed over a vessel containing Payasam (pudding). This was to be equally distributed between his three wives. They were supposed to partake of the pudding after having a bath. As Sumitra was drying her hair in the terrace, she kept the pudding in the parapet wall. Suddenly an eagle swooped down and carried the pudding in its claws. Sumitra was fear-stricken since she was afraid of facing Dasaratha. When she related this incident to Kausalya, she readily agreed to share half of her bowl of pudding. Kaikeyi too did the same. Kausalya gave birth to Rama and Kaikeyi gave birth to Bharata, but Sumitra gave birth to twins – Lakshmana and Satrughna. Sumitra faced a predicament; Lakshmana and Satrughna were always crying. She could not find out the reason for this. In spite of resorting to many incantations and Mantras, they never stopped crying. When Vasishtha, the family priest, was asked the reason, he told her to place Lakshmana by the side of Rama and Satrughna by the side of Bharata. When this was done, both Lakshmana and Satrughna slept peacefully. The reason was Lakshmana was born after partaking of half of the pudding given by Kausalya and Satrughna was born after partaking half of the pudding of Kaikeyi.
In the Ramayana, we do not find Sumitra and Lakshmana’s consort Urmila being given prominence. When Lakshmana came to take leave of Urmila, she told him that he should never think of her in the forest. He should serve Rama always. Even a thought of her should not interrupt his service to Rama. Such was the nobility of Urmila.
The demon king Ravana abducted Sita. In the battle, Lakshmana fell unconscious. It is then that Rama declared, “I can even live without Sita, but not without Lakshmana.” One of the demons advised that Lakshmana could be saved by rubbing the Sanjivini (a medicine that had a divine cure) on his body. Hanuman was sent to bring the Sanjivini. As Hanuman could not locate the Sanjivini, he uprooted the whole mountain and brought it to Rama. When the Sanjivini was applied on Lakshmana, he regained consciousness.
Rama was ever blissful. The name of Rama which is sweeter than sugar, tastier than curd and honey should be chanted always.
The five human values, namely, Sathya, Dharma, Santhi, Prema and Ahimsa are very important. One who cultivates these five human values is a true human being. Even if one of them is missing, he / she cannot be called a true human.
When we have love in our heart, nobody will hate us. Therefore, develop love and live like brothers and sisters. This is the essence of Ramayana. What Swami has done in Orissa is to demonstrate this truth, the propagation of love. All of us should be united.
Let us all move together,
Let us all grow together,
Let us all stay united and grow in intelligence together,
Let us live together with friendship and harmony. (Telugu Poem)
Whether you are in Ashram or anywhere else, do not have a sense of hatred. It is love, which unites everyone. Swami concluded His Discourse with the Bhajan, “Prema Mudita Manase Kaho Rama Rama Ram …”
After the bhajans, Swami blessed everyone assembled. He asked the students as to who were all leaving for their homes. Many of them raised hands and Swami then received aarthi and retired for the day.
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