July 8, 2010 – “Maharana Pratap” – A Play by the Devotees from Rajasthan

Entering the Sai Kulwant Hall at 4:30 p.m., a palace backdrop with performers dressed in the Rajput costumes met ones eyes. Swami had permitted the devotees from the Indian state of Rajasthan to put up a drama on July 8 and it had come as joyful news for them. Swami arrived for darshan at about 4:50 p.m. and as He was passing by the centre, He spoke to the handsomely-moustached ‘Maharana Pratap’ (a character in the play).

Most probably, He asked him what the programme and drama was about. He then asked one or two more children their names and as He moved ahead, He stopped at the Rajasthan camp. There too He made enquiries and spoke to some of the devotees. All of them were so happy and that expressed itself as the hands went above their heads in salutation to Swami.

The next was the contingent of sevadal volunteers who had just completed their duties and were seated for blessings. Even as Swami looked at them, a sea of hands went up absorbing His unseen but strongly felt aura of Love and Peace. Soon, Swami had completed the rounds among the gents’ side and as He moved in the front, He blessed the birthday boys.

The Veda chanting was on and the thrill of Swami’s proximity made the children from the Primary school chant out extra loud! Swami reciprocated their excitement by halting and sitting by them, listening to their chants. A few minutes later, Swami proceeded to the stage and it was 5:20 p.m. when He asked for the Veda chanting to stop and the programme to begin.

The rose and card offerings were made. Very thoughtfully, the devotees had made a summary of the drama for Swami in Telugu. As that was given, Swami began to browse through the story. He asked for the mike to be brought and then asked the state president to make the announcement about the drama. That was done immediately.

The drama on Maharana Pratap’s life was in Hindi and it began with a sootradhaari (narrator) arriving on the stage. He introduced the drama and the great Rajput warrior of the 16th Century arrived on stage. During a dark chapter of Hindu history, Pratap alone stood firmly for his dignity; he never compromised his honour for safety. His story inspires people even today.

Those were days when the Mughal rule had reached its zenith under the emperor Akbar. While all the rulers in India were succumbing to be his vassals, Pratap stood firm as an independent. Times got rough when even his own brother deserted him to side with the enemy, out of fear and greed. But more than a place on the throne, Pratap had a place in the hearts of his people who ever backed him as he continued to fend off the invading armies.

The legendary battle of Haldighati took place which etched Pratap’s name in gold forever in the annals of Indian history. Even though he was defeated there, the Mughal armies suffered heavily and he remained intrepid to the end. He also did not sleep on a bed because of a vow he took that until Chittor was freed he would sleep on the floor and live in a hut despite the fact that he had re-conquered almost his entire kingdom from Akbar. Maharana Pratap died of injuries sustained in a hunting accident. He passed away at Chavand, on January 29, 1597, aged fifty-six.

Swami was quite involved in the drama. On more than one occasion, His complete absorbed attention in the drama would be punctuated with appreciative glances He exchanged with the students seated in the front. He also read with great vigour the Telugu summary that had been given to Him. When there was infighting among the Rajputs, He looked at one of the students and interlocking His index fingers said, “There are quarreling among themselves!”

He did not say it as a revelation, but in a manner that showed His complete involvement in the story that was on. Surely the devotees from Rajasthan would have rejoiced to see Swami almost ‘participate’ thus in their programme. Adding to the crisp script were dances that punctuated the drama at regular intervals.

As the drama concluded, Swami asked, “Is it over?” All the assembled participants nodded and Swami moved down the stage. He posed with the group for photos. He told the photographers and videocameramen to split to both sides and take pictures from all angles. Then, He made His way back to the stage. He blessed prasadam for distribution. As this went on, two members of the group made bold the move to go on stage and offer their letters to Swami.

The Lord accepted them. Encouraged by this, one more small boy walked up the stage. He seemed to be in a hurry to give the letter and return to his place. Swami calmed Him and accepting his letter, rewarded him with a loving pat. The whole interaction was so beautiful. Swami then received aarthi and went into the interview room for about half an hour. It was 6:50 p.m. when He retired towards Yajur Mandir.

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