July 3, 2010 – “Navavidha Bhakti Sumanjali” – Drama by East Godavari Devotees

The girijans or the “people of the hills” from the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh arrived at Puttaparthi as July began. These innocent tribal folk were oozing with Love and Gratitude for Him. It may come as a surprise to most readers that though these people live alongside one of the largest perennial rivers of India, they have great problems with obtaining water.

They live a difficult life and yet they are simple and lovely people. The miracles and transformation that have taken place in the East Godavari district are worth a read. And before you embark on reading the update, it may be a good idea to read H2H cover story on this topic published sometime ago.

Thus it was with the prayer of love in their hearts that these simple people got ready to stage their presentation in the divine presence. The whole hall wore a festive look with colour everywhere. Huge balloon arches had been erected and for the evening they had been reinforced and held in place with metallic wires. That was because, in the morning, Swami had casually asked, “Won’t these arches collapse?”

Shortly after 6:30 p.m., Swami arrived for darshan. Moving through the ladies’ side, He blessed some of the girls from the Primary school. Moving through the centre, He reached the gents’ side. It was 6:45 p.m. as He arrived on the stage and asked for the presentation to begin.

As an opening, a member of the tribe moved ahead and welcomed Swami by presenting a scroll. Swami was all smiles as He took the scroll and ‘scrolled’ through it! After looking intently at it, He blessed the boy and sent him back. Then He was presented with an album of pictures taken during His previous visit to the Godavari region. Swami saw through the entire album and it must have been a ride down memory lane for Him.

The drama script was then presented to Him after which the presentation began. It was entitled “Navavidha Bhakti Sumanjali.” It depicted the nine pathways of devotion to God and the storyline was simple - a gentleman explains each of these methods to two simple villagers from Godavari, citing examples from Swami’s life.

Shravanam (Hearing Lord’s glories) was depicted with Sri Kondama Raju, Swami’s grandfather, as an example. He was the first to hear of the Descent from Venkavadootha. Kirtananam was the singing of His divine glories. An interesting twist was brought in the concept of Smaranam ( remembrance) when it was stated that once we offer ourselves to the Lord, Swami constantly keeps remembering us! Paadasevanam (worship of the Lord’s feet) was depicted with an interesting anecdote.

When Sri Kamavadhani and Sri Raja Reddy pressed Swami’s feet, one felt that Swami’s feet were very tender and feminine while the other thought that they were strong and masculine. Realization dawned about the Shiva-Shakti aspect of Swami and both of them delighted in that wisdom! Another episode was explained from an incident involving Bhagavan and Dr. Samuel Sandweiss, where Swami advised Dr. Sandweiss that to cherish the Divine Memories forever is Meditation.

Archanam, worship, the fifth step had its narration through a song hailing Mother Easwaramma calling her most privileged by virtue of being the earthly mother of Swami. A few steps in this 9-fold path were depicted with wonderful dances by the tribal children. It was so heartening to see their proficiency and knowing their backgrounds, it was clear that they had put in Herculean efforts with their trainers. The music and recordings were of excellent quality and unless specified separately, none would ever feel that these were tribal and poor children putting up a performance.

The concept of Sakhyam (friendship) was depicted as a dialogue between two of Swami’s schoolmates. At many points during the drama, Swami became emotional and at some poignant spots, turned a bit teary too! Swami was moved with the drama and every devotee was also touched seeing Him.

The presentation concluded with a very cheerful song which proclaimed victory. Everyone began to clap along. As it concluded and the children came together for the final formation, Swami signaled for the aarthi. After this, Swami said that He would move down.

He mingled with the children and posed with them for group photos. He asked a few for their names and they were all very disciplined as they sat at His feet. Swami moved back to the stage and He seemed to be eager to do something more.

He called the photographers and told them to take pictures of the seated children. That was done and the photos taken were shown to Him too. Satisfied with that, He raised both His hands in blessings and then returned to His residence.

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