May 7, 2009 – President of India visits Prasanthi Nilayam

As announced in the previous day and the day before, the President of India, Her Excellency Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil was to visit Puttaparthi on May, 2009. India, being the largest democracy in the world, boasts of a system of governance that is impossible to comprehend in any other part of the world. With four national parties and more than 40 regional parties, it indeed requires huge "maintainence" in all respects to keep the cogs of the democratic machinery in place. And with the elections in progress and expectations of no single party becoming a majority, the President's role in determining the destiny of India cannot be over emphasized. The President seemed to have taken the perfect first step in deciding to meet Bhagavan, and Swami in all His Love and Grace had permitted that she visit Him.

The President of India

Also scheduled for the day was a Burra Katha on the life of Shirdi Baba. The trio who had performed well the previous day were ready in their costumes in Bhajan Hall by 3:30 p.m. itself. At about 3:50 p.m., Swami arrived for darshan and took a detour after the ladies side. Moving into the Bhajan Hall, He interacted with the Burra Katha artists for nearly half an hour. Meanwhile, a delegation had left to the airport to welcome the President with honours and greetings. At about 4:00 p.m., the special Indian Air force flight descended in the Sri Sathya Sai Airport and the presidential convoy of more than 21 vehicles wended its way to Prasanthi Nilayam.

The Minister of A.P. Welcomes the President
 
Received by the Vice-Chancellor of the University

It was indeed Swami's Love, for the President and the Nation, that He waited for her to arrive. He moved out to the stage and sat listening to the Veda chanting. He looked lovely and a gentle smile seemed to adorn His face. There are those times when Swami does something so casually that we fail to see the Divine power needed behind that act. That day, there was at least there was one such act. After sitting on the stage for a while, Swami turned and so casually said that it was time to move into the interview room. No sooner that Swami entered the interview room, the President entered the Mandir premises! She was led to the portico where she sat waiting for about 5 minutes. The interview room door opened and Swami beamed a loving smile at her. He came out and greeted her. As per tradition, the President presented Swami with a basket of fruits and a shawl. Swami told her staff to keep the gifts to the side and immediately asked her how she was. He also asked the names of a boy and girl who were by now standing by her side. Then indicating towards the interview room, Swami asked her to go in with her family.

Smt. Pratibha Patil seeking Swami's Blessings
 
Smt. Pratibha Patil and her family with Swami

Then, an interesting episode occurred - a kind which happens so regularly in Sai circles yet so beautiful to recapitulate. As the interview was in progress, the Presidential staff waited in the Bhajan Hall. The aide-de-camp (ADC) to the President, Capt. Shiv Shankar, wanted to ask Swami a few things that had been troubling him from quite some time. They concerned matters of health, career decisions and personal growth. While speaking to one of the students in the Bhajan Hall, he was given a packet of vibhuti and told, "Whatever be the problem, a pinch of this taken with a prayer in the heart, will definitely resolve it." With great reverence, the ADC accepted the precious little ash that the packet contained. Meanwhile, the interview concluded and the President walked out of the interview room.

The Presidential staff gets blessings from Swami

Swami agreed to bless all the Presidential staff with padanamaskar. The ADC now was the first to go in and after he bowed to Swami, Bhagavan asked for the vibhuti basket and handed to Him a dozen or so packets of precious ash, with a twinkle in His eyes. The ADC was thrilled and did not see the need to tell anything to Swami. There are numerous such instances that keep happening day in and day out. It is only His Love that some of them at least come to light and we delight in sharing that experience. Swami blessed all others too, one by one, ever so patiently and lovingly. The Presidential convoy soon departed towards the airport and Swami moved to the stage.

Burra Katha trio, occupies the
centrestage
 
The three fortunate students from
Prashanti campus


Bhajans had begun at 5:00 p.m. as is the regular practise. He immediately commanded the bhajan singing to a halt and asked for the Burra Katha trio to occupy the centrestage. The three students arrived and began to relive the life of Shirdi Sai Baba. As is the custom, the artists began their performance by offering their salutations to Lord Ganesha. Soon, the traditional garlanding took place and they began their interesting narration supplementing it with songs and humour.
Delineating on the birth of Shirdi Sai Baba, they said that He was born to Hindu parents, Devagiriamma and Gangabhavadia. The Divine couple Parvati-Parameswara appeared before them and foretold that Lord Shiva would be born to them as their third child.The couple, who were childless till then, gave birth to a daughter and son. On September 28, 1835, Shirdi Sai Baba was born in the village of Patri.

 
 
The main lead singer

Though born to Hindu parents, Shirdi Sai was brought up by a Muslim couple. As a child, He used to go to a Hindu temple and proclaim about Allah and at the same time speak about Rama in a Mosque. He advocated the concept “Sabka Malik Ek Hai” (One God governs all).

 

From the year 1858, Baba lived in Shirdi. He spent his early days under a Neem tree and later lived in the Masjid which he named as Dwarakamai or Mother Dwaraka. Baba used to feed the fakirs and devotees, and even cook for them. Baba had a profound love and compassion for suffering humanity. The Master used to personally attend to the needs of the sick as a Physician and a Nurse.
Baba distributed the holy ‘Udi’, the panacea for all troubles, to His devotees. ‘Udi’ is the ash from the perpetual sacred fire, the Dhuni, lit by Baba. The Udi is the token of His divine grace to all who come to Him for help. He begged for alms and shared what He got with His devotees and all the creatures around him.Once during the festival of lights, Deepavali, Baba wanted to light lamps in Dwarakamai. As the shopkeepers refused to give Him oil, Baba just poured water on the lamps and lighted them.Baba performed many such miracles in His lifetime. He lived for 83 years and attained Samadhi in the year 1918.The narration concluded in 40 minutes with a prayer for Universal peace.

Swami seemed so pleased with their performance (which was in fact their third or fourth encore in the divine presence!). As soon as the Burra Katha concluded, Swami asked for aarthi. He retired to Yajur Mandir at 6:00 p.m.

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