November 7-8, 2009 – Global Akhanda Bhajans 

The first major event in Prashanti Nilayam after Swami's memorable visit to Hadshi and Mumbai was the global akhanda bhajans. The 24-hour long bhajan programme has a long and interesting history. Like the springs that grown into mighty rivers, it too began in a simple, humble fashion and Swami was its chief architect. Read the first hand witness account of how Akhanda Bhajans began in 1945 from H2H Archives Click here.

Presently this is a global event and devotees from more than 170 countries sing bhajans in many tongues. The whole earth witnesses the spread of holy powerful vibrations and the Sun, in its journey from the east to west, witnesses love pouring forth for the Universal Lord! Needless to say, Prashanti Nilayam is the epicentre of this spiritual seismic activity that measures a full 10 on the spiritually "Richter" scale!

The evening of November 7 happened to be the day chosen for this year's akhanda bhajans. Swami arrived for darshan at 4:30 p.m. As He moved through the ladies' side, He seemed to be picking up a few ladies and telling them to assemble in the Bhajan Hall. As He completed that side, He took a detour towards the Mandir and once again moved through the ladies side, selecting some more lucky souls. Satisfied with the selection, Swami moved to the gents’ side and took a complete round. He blessed the birthday boys and took a round in the portico too. He sat on the stage for a while and then went into the Bhajan Hall and blessed all the ladies assembled there with beautiful sarees!

The distribution took about 20 minutes after which, at about 5:10 p.m., Swami came out and sat listening to the Vedic chants. On His way out, Prof. Anil Kumar went near Him and regaled Him for some time and after that told Him something that seemed to touch Him a lot. Having sat out for some time, Swami went into the Bhajan Hall to enthuse those seated there in almost cramping positions so that they could see Him during the bhajans. He took a round in the hall and accepted many letters too. Coming out, He moved through the upper portico into the interview room.

At 5:50 p.m., Swami was back in the Bhajan Hall waiting for the ticking clock to signal 6:00 p.m. At sharp 6, Swami lit the lamp placed in the centre of the hall and with that the Aumkaram began. The boys started the Ganesh bhajan and predictably, the second bhajan by the girls was Akhanda Jyoti Jalao. The bhajans then progressed.

The hall outside presented a beautiful sight with all the lights being switched on. And the sight of all the boys and girls singing bhajans in unison thrilled anyone concerned about the future, for it is very rare to find youth today singing God's glory and aiming for higher pursuits of life. At about 6:40 p.m., Swami moved out of the Bhajan Hall, towards His residence. He went in the chair itself and all those singing in the ladies' side were happy for this bonus darshan. By 7:00 p.m., many started moving out of the hall and maybe they too planned to retire for the night. Quite a number however carried on the vigil with bhajans.

At 7:45 p.m. came the adrenaline rush for those who had continued to stay in the Mandir. Swami came out of the Residence and moved into the Sai Kulwant Hall. There were just 8-10 lines on the ladies side and gents' side too and all jumped in joy at this special darshan. Swami moved straight to the Bhajan Hall and sat for the bhajans. Few minutes later, He moved through the Bhajan Hall and then to the portico. He came down the slope on the eastern side of the Mandir where the alumni sit.

Taking a turn He made a full round in the students' area and accepted the hundreds of letters that were offered. Passing via the Primary School sitting area, Swami moved back into the Mandir. In the Mandir, Swami continued to sit for the bhajans. It was such an act of solidarity if we may call it so! Swami seemed to be saying, "Whether anyone stays or not, I will be there for you, with you, in you; loving and guiding you." Swami stayed till 8:45 p.m.! Even when He left, it was because He wanted the children to go and have dinner - fuel for the night long vigil!

There is a section of people who take it as a special privilege to sing His glories when all others are asleep. The youth group from Hyderabad is an example. They arrive in the late hours of the night and remind people of God, 'awakening' many of them with their powerful and enthusiastic bhajans! Different groups of devotees take up 45 minutes slots and ensure that the name is continuously sung. We cannot help but remember an episode from one of the earlier Akhanda bhajans. This was narrated by Mr. Eradi, from Kerala who currently to sings in the Mandir.

In those initial days, there were just 4-5 singers from among the gents and ladies. They had a real difficult time sustaining the lead singing throughout the night. They were then wondering as to whether this practice was practically feasible for if anything happened to one of the singers, it would place tremendous strain on the others. At that time Swami told them, "You just wait. In times to come my students will line up to sing bhajans waiting for a chance to sing for me." That was in a time when Swami had not even set up a college! That is Avataric planning and execution!

The morning saw Swami arrive for darshan in the car as it was raining quite heavily. Once again, the rains arrived just as they always do whenever there is any celebration in the Nilayam. Swami completed a round in the car and entered the Bhajan Hall. After a while, He moved through the Bhajan Hall and arrived on the stage to grant darshan to all in the hall.

Swami sat outside for about 20 minutes and went into the Bhajan Hall where He sat for bhajans almost till 12:30 p.m.! As He sat for bhajans, and kept telling the students, both the boys and girls, "Go for lunch! Take some rest. Sing in batches." But none seemed to listen to Him (Who will leave the Divine Presence for food and rest? Maybe this is one Divine disobedience that is permitted!). As if helpless that none would go for food or rest till He left, Swami retired to Yajur Mandir at 12:30 p.m.

By 4:20 p.m., tractors arrived to the Mandir carrying the prasadam to be distributed after the bhajans concluded. It was after 5 p.m. that Swami arrived for darshan. As He neared the centre of the hall, He was requested to bless the prasadam that had been placed behind the Rama, Lakshmana, Sita statues area of Sai Kulwant Hall. Swami moved down the marbled blocks and blessed all the vessels containing the prasadam. Then He moved up and back into the Bhajan Hall. Sitting for some bhajans, Swami began to move inside the hall too.

Coming out, He moved to the stage and sat outside for about 10 minutes before moving to the interview room. By 5:50 p.m., He was back in the Bhajan Hall. Being the last few bhajans, they gathered a lot of gusto and tempo. Swami's presence there bolstered the enthusiasm and decibel levels. As every year, the "who will have the last bhajan" began between the boys and girls! And Swami seemed to enjoy this "competition" as even at the stroke of six when the girls finished the bhajan, He asked the boys to continue. The girls would have thought that He was being partial but then after the boys finished the bhajan, He told the girls to continue.

It was great joy and fervour when the bhajans continued. Swami did not stop there and bhajans went on till almost 6:15 p.m.! By then, it did not matter anymore as to who would have the last bhajan. Swami then received aarthi and needless to say, the clapping reached deafening levels.

After the aarthi, leaves were distributed for the prasadam to follow. Swami seemed to encourage all to eat well! After a loud Brahmaarpanam prayer, the boys began to feast! Then, He called out for all the Anantapur ex-students and singers who were married. As they assembled at His lotus feet, Swami distributed sarees to all of them. They were positively and pleasantly shocked!

After that, He asked as to who among the gents' side had also been married and He blessed them too with sarees for their wives. He teased a few boys saying, "No wife, no sarees!" It was then that He called for Jayamma Madam, formerly the Principal and the Warden of the Anantapur Campus of the University. He told her that all the children in the hall were gold. She got a ring blessed by Swami. Swami then began to narrate about the devotion of Jayamma and her late husband.

He also praised the devotion of her father, Mr. Vitthal Rao. As this was going on, the Primary School students too began to chant the prayer from outside. It was very loud and Swami smiled as He said, "Competition!" He saw the empty leaves of a few students in the front and asked for them to be refilled with food. Granting this supreme joy that comes with Divine intimacy, Swami retired to Yajur Mandir at 7:00 p.m.

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