THE LORD'S 78TH BIRTHDAY
of thousands of devotees from different parts of the world
gathered to be at the Lotus Feet for the auspicious and joyous
occasion of the 78th birthday of our Lord, Bhagawan Sri Sathya
Sai Baba. Prasanthi Nilayam wore a festive vesture with the
Mandir being richly caparisoned with festoons and beautiful
The celebrations commenced with the traditional
Rathotsavam or Chariot Festival
on the morning of the 18th of November. This is an annual
ritual in which the idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana are
taken in a palanquin in a procession to the Old Mandir in
the village of Puttaparthi, followed by a chariot bearing
the idol of Lord Krishna, to the accompaniment of Vedam chanting
and Bhajans by the students. In the evening, the Bal Vikas
students of Kerala presented a programme titled "Bhakta
Purandaradasa" based on the life of Saint Purandaradasa,
a holy man of South India. The presentation depicted how a
worldly man extremely attached to wealth, undergoes a change
in his outlook and is inspired to renounce all his wealth
and spend the rest of his life singing the glories of the
November 2003 was celebrated as Ladies Day. Bhagawan lit the
lamp in front of a portrait of Mother Easwaramma to mark the
commencement of the morning's programme. The students of the
Sri Sathya Sai Primary school then presented a dance programme
depicting various episodes from Bhagawan's life. This was
followed by a drama entitled "Ek Shakti, Roop Anek",
in which the different aspects of the feminine principle like
Love and Sacrifice were shown as exemplified in the lives
of great women like Rani Jhansi Laxmi Bai and Florence Nightingale.
The evening programme had Poornachandra Auditorium as the
venue and featured talks by five lady speakers and a Carnatic
Vocal rendition by the renowned artist Sudha Raghunathan.
20th and 21st of November saw plays staged in the evening
at the Sai Kulwant Hall by the Bal Vikas children of Singapore
and Canada respectively. The plays elaborated on the teachings
of Bhagawan and how they are to be practiced in our daily
lives, be it at the individual level, the family level or
at the community level.
22nd Convocation of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher
Learning was conducted in the Sai Kulwant Hall on afternoon
of 22nd November. On this day, Bhagawan as the Revered Chancellor
of the Institute blesses the students who have graduated that
year and gives His Benedictory Discourse. It is an occasion
that remains as a cherished memory in the mind of every student
of the Institute.
The Chief Guest at this year's proceedings
was Shri Bhairon Singh Shekawat,
the Honourable Vice-President of India. The students were
administered the oath to remain true to the values of the
Institute to the end of their lives. After the presentation
of medals to the students who had passed with distinction
in their respective disciplines, the Chief Guest, Shri Shekawat,
addressed the gathering. He spoke about the unique and holy
atmosphere that he pervaded the ashram
and expressed his gratitude to Bhagawan for the various social
projects that He has undertaken for the uplift of the needy
in the country. He exhorted the students to use the knowledge
they had gained during their stay in the Institute, in service
of the Nation.
Bhagawan then delivered His Divine Benedictory
Discourse. He reminded the students of their great good fortune
of having taken birth in the sacred land of Bharat and exalted
the values that a true Bharathiya
(resident of Bharat) stands for. He advised the students that
the degrees that they have earned are not as important as
the values that they have learned being students of the Sri
Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. He declared that
the most important thing that students must always strive
for, is the Love of God, which is the most precious wealth
that can be gained. The proceedings concluded with the singing
of the National Anthem by the entire gathering.
Later that evening the students of the Sri
Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning presented a drama
entitled "Tera Tujhko Arpan" based on the teaching
of the Bhagavad Gita, that the gifts that God has given us
like the talents or skills we possess, has to be offered back
to the Lord Himself by using the gifts in the service of the
Lord. They must not be frittered away in the pursuit of wealth.
The play told the story of two singers, one who decides to
make a career out of his musical talents and the other who
instead uses his gift to sing the glories of the Lord's Name.
At the height of his fame, the career-minded singer loses
his voice. His friend then advises him to use his voice to
sing for God. Only then does he regain his voice. The evening
concluded with arati offered
The dawn of 23rd November arrived with Bhagawan
in his limitless
Compassion granting His Divine Darshan to all assembled in
the Sai Kulwant Hall, and added to their joy by going twice
around the hall. The morning programme saw three distinguished
speakers addressing the vast gathering of eager devotees.
The first speaker was Justice Bhagawati, Former Chief Justice
of India. He was followed by Dr. Jumsai, Director of the Institute
of Sathya Sai Education of Thailand and also former Member
of Parliament of Thailand. The third speaker was Dr. Michael
Goldstein, Chairman of the Overseas Sathya Sai Organisation
and of the Prashanti Council.
then gave His Nectarine Discourse. He spoke on the greatness
of mothers like Putlibai and Jijabai who gave birth to such
celebrated sons of this land as Gandhiji and Chattrapathi
Shivaji. He then related various incidents surrounding His
Advent and from His Life, which with their miraculous nature,
convinced all who witnessed these incidents about His Divinity.
In the afternoon, Bhagawan, to the surprise
and enormous delight of all devotees,
entered the Sai Kulwant Hall, dressed in a bright yellow robe.
It was a beautiful sight for all to watch as devotees feasted
on the radiant Form of the Lord. The evening programme featured
two internationally renowned
musicians - Parveen Sultana and Dana Gillespie. Mrs. Parveen
Sultana began with a song composed on Bhagawan, by her Guru,
Ustad Dilshad Khan. She then went on to regale the audience
with her soulful rendition of Meera Bhajans. Ms. Dana Gillespie,
with her songs of inspiration that contain teachings of saints
and sacred books from all over the world, enthralled the gathering
and made it an evening for all to remember.
Thus concluded the 78th Birthday Celebrations
of our Lord, leaving everyone with valuable messages to carry
home and beautiful memories to cherish.
Jai Sai Ram.