Volume 12 - Issue 04
April 2014
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Posted on: Apr 10, 2014


WHEN YOU SERVE THE LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEART

THE LORD WAITS TO SERVE YOU WITH ALL HIS HEART!

 

Part 01

A story of absolute faith and complete surrender from
an indescript and remote hamlet of the state of Odisha, India.

 


It was the summer of 2013. A few of us from the Radio Sai team were in Bhubaneshwar, the capital of the state of Odisha, for video coverage of the Key Distribution Ceremony of the second phase of Odisha Flood Rehabilitation Housing Project.

Odisha Flood Rehabilitation Housing Project.
On Rama Navami Day, 2009 Swami filled the hearts of these poor rural couples by gifting them new homes, and along with it new hopes, happiness and joy

After the devastating flood of September 2008 that ravaged over 2500 villages in this coastal state, Baba announced that He would build 1000 houses for these distressed and marooned families. 400 of these new buildings were built in four months and Swami personally handed over the keys to these disadvantaged rural folk on Rama Navami Day (April 3), 2009. Later within another three months, 300 more keys were proffered to these needy families, now in Bhubaneshwar itself. By November 2009, 700 houses were built and distributed.

odisha housing project by sathya sai central trust
In the first phase of the Odisha Flood Rehabitation Housing Project 700 houses were built in the four districts of Puri, Kendrapara, Cuttack and Jagatsinghpur

The Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust resumed this project in June 2012, after Baba's Maha Samadhi, and in four months completed another 300 houses. On the morning of July 5, 2013 keys were handed over to these new structures to the eager beneficiaries. We had the good fortune of witnessing and documenting the proceedings of this joyous day.

odisha housing project

odisha housing project
In the second phase of this housing project keys to new homes were distributed to 300 needy families

The On-going Prema Plabana Yatra of Odisha

However, one of the most memorable moments for me in this Odisha trip played out on the night of July 5. The State President of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation, Odisha had suggested to me that I could get a glimpse of the ‘Prema Plabana Yatra’ (The Journey of the Flood of Love) if I wished to. The beautifully bedecked chariot with a majestic altar for Bhagawan was to enter into Bajpayee village in the district of Puri that evening.

I had heard a lot about this enthusiastic initiative of the Sai Youth of Odisha wherein a gloriously decorated golden vehicle carrying a huge benedictory image of Bhagawan was travelling to every hamlet and town in each district of this state. I was now curious to witness this ceremony and personally behold its impact on the people.

Prema Plabana Yatra of Odisha

As I reached the outskirts of the village at seven in the evening, I saw that the procession had already begun. I was awestruck by the spirit of festivity that filled the entire milieu. High-pitched bhajans belting in the air, traditionally attired ladies welcoming the chariot with typical Odiya holy rituals and chants, every man in the village in full attention and reverence, every home's entrance glowing with rangoli (colourful patterns on the floor, drawn using coloured rice, flour or flower petals), a sacred lamp and a poorna kumbham (holy coconut on a ceremonial round vessel), the children excited and in glee looking at the grand and imposing image of their Baba, the women waiting for the ‘Lord on the wheels’ to come near their doorsteps so that they could fill their eyes with His beatific face and offer Him fruits and sweets, the young mothers thrilled when the little ones in their arms touched even the outer periphery of this exalted shrine, the youth ensuring that the 18-feet divine carrier has absolutely no obstacle on the way even if the lanes of their settlement were narrow and convoluted, and intermittently raising their voices to hail ‘Jai Bolo Bhagawan Sai Jagannath ki... Jai’ – the canvas was simply supremely sublime and spiritually scintillating.

I was completely taken in by the images that consumed me that night. The most touching aspect was the sincere reverence and innocent devotion of the rural folk. ‘How is it that they have so much love for Swami? Have they seen Him? Have they visited Prasanthi Nilayam? Has the Sai Organisation done something for them?’ – these questions continued to toss in my mind as I moved from one house to another, watching those simple faces in deep adoration of the Lord. Randomly, I captured a few of these scenes on my camera to cherish them later. Frankly, I was touched by people’s uninhibited love for Swami.

And, after a point, I could not contain my curiosity any longer.

Meeting Mitu's Devoted Mother

As I passed by one humble hut, seeing the lady of the house expectantly awaiting the Lord's arrival, I asked her with an impulse, “Ma (mother), how do you feel this evening?”

We are blessed... I am so happy,” she said shyly, half-concealing her smile with her saree. I noticed the reserve of rural women to speak to a new person although my white-and-white dress did help to allay her apprehensions to some extent.

Since when do you know Baba? Have you been to Prasanthi Nilayam, Ma?”

I was polite and humble; my palms were folded in a gesture of warm greeting. I was curious but very respectful. The fact that I could speak Odiya, her native tongue, gave her more comfort.

She looked into my eyes with gentleness, and feeling reassured she began opening up about her devotion.

We have known Baba for long. He is our Lord. We exist because of Him; He is the One who looks after us. He is our everything...” she could go on.

How has He taken care of you?” I wanted to unravel this passionate love for the Divine.

My son is alive because of Him... he almost died two years ago!”

What had happened to him?” My concern was spontaneous. Besides, it seemed like there was an interesting story here.

His kidneys were gone. He had become unconscious...Oh, Baba has saved him so many times. He continues to safeguard him and our entire family. Baba has given my son a new life...”

As she began talking about Swami, a pleasant smile and assuring peace dawned on her face.

How old is your son? Is he here now?” I was keen to know more, and if possible first-hand.

Yes, very much. He has been busy since morning making arrangements for the chariot's arrival in our village; he loves to do Baba's work. Whenever there is any Sai service opportunity, they call him. He must be around somewhere. I will immediately send for him. Meanwhile please come in and have a seat.” She welcomed me heartily, bending down reverentially.

With joy I entered her hut. It was dark inside with little light coming from a solitary bulb beyond that room. The 14-feet mud walls merged into the thatched roof made of dry grass and supported by bamboo stilts. The floor was red and hard, plastered with mud. The only furniture in that 3x7 feet enclosure was an old and creaky wooden bench.

Please be seated here. Mitu, my son, will come shortly. Would you like some drink?” Her loving courtesies filled my heart with warmth. Her house was tiny, yes, but her heart was large.

Someone came in and told them that I had come from Prasanthi Nilayam. I could see that she and her family were excited that I had gladly stepped into their dwelling.

Tea, coffee or cool drink?” They were eager to extend their best hospitality to me.

I am just happy to be here. I do not need anything,” I couldn’t help stressing on ‘anything’ as I did not want to inconvenience them in the least.

To appease their repeated requests I said, “Just give me plain water, please! I am waiting to talk to Mitu. I want to hear about Baba; that's all I want.” I conveyed this a few times emphatically until I saw them convinced and bring me a tumbler of water.


- Team Radio Sai


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