The hectic events connected with the Guru Poornima celebrations are over. It has been a heady time with dramas on spiritual themes staged by the Bala Vikas students from various states of India and the USA holding center stage in Sai Kulwant Hall every evening right up to the 5th of July. The onrush of crowd is slowly abating and the Ashram is coming back to a more relaxed pace.
But the spiritual energy generated through the cultural programs during the month of June and reaching a crescendo during the Guru Poornima celebrations now takes on a life of its own and reaches new heights. This energy, nurtured and heightened, is carried over into this month, bringing to life the full meaning of the Sanskrit term – Upanishad – or imbibing the spiritual truth at the Feet of the Guru.
The tone was set by the divine music rendered by the boys of the Sai Mirpuri College of Music. On July 8th, the boys gave a veena recital in Sai Kulwant Hall. The boys first presented a small veena lovingly moulded by them out of thermo-cole to Swami. Then they gave a 45 minute concert that elevated one and all to divine heights.
This was followed the next day with a concert of Hindustani Classical Music again rendered by the Music College boys. This time Swami invited the boys to come up and sit down next to Him on the verandah and face the audience. The boys were thrilled beyond words and put their life and soul to sing for their beloved Swami.
On the evening of July 10th, 2004, Swami came and sat on the verandah and lovingly blessed the birthday boys. Then turning to the warden of the Senior Boys Hostel, He asked him what the boys had planned for the day. He then gave permission to two student speakers to address the audience. Both the students spoke of the immense love shown to them by Swami and the care and protection that He extends to them and their families in times of crisis and need. Listening to their stories stirred the hearts of one and all. Swami then asked Dr. Narendra Reddy, a doctor from Los Angeles and a devotee for many decades to address the gathering. Dr Reddy spoke of Swami’s love now manifest throughout the world and told the crowd about the successful meetings held by the Prashanti Council in 6 major cities around the world.
July 11, 2004, Sunday morning, saw the Primary School students stage a play in the Divine presence. The primary School students, with their unsullied devotion and sweet innocent looks, are great crowd pullers. This time they decided to enact a story from the Ramayana. Their choice was the story of Bharatha and his asking Lord Rama to give him the sandals that had been blessed by the divine touch of Lord Rama’s feet. Bharatha installed these sandals on the throne and thus very humbly ruled Ayodhya in Lord Rama’s absence. Swami watched the whole drama in rapt attention and then posed for group pictures with all the primary school participants.
On July 13th, the first year postgraduate students of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (SSSIHL) staged a drama entitled “Tat Twam Asi”. Giving the introductory remarks, the Vice-Chancellor of the Institute, Sri S. V. Giri, said that these cultural presentations permitted by Swami in Sai Kulwant Hall actually provided an excellent learning opportunity for the students to further their knowledge. The research and thought that has to go into each program actually aids in furthering the student’s education. And everyone who is witnessing the presentation is also benefited. It is remarkable, said Sri Giri, that the students now feel confident in presenting the elusive and less easily understood truths of the Vedas like Tat Twam Asi – or “Thou art That”.
The drama starts with the jealousy of a cast-off stone towards another stone (also from the same rock) which was however made into a deity and worshipped. Seeing this, another wiser stone gives an Upanishadic example where Uddalaka asks his son who is proud of his erudition, “Did you learn something today by learning which you become capable of hearing something that cannot be heard, thinking what cannot be thought of and seeing that which cannot be seen?” When the son seeks an answer, the father uses the illustration of the banyan seed, salt water, rivers, ocean and the tree to explain to Svetaketu the concept of “That Thou Art.” There were three melodious songs in the drama, out of which two were choreographed with a dance sequence.
Swami also blessed Prof. Anil Kumar from the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning to address the gathering twice – on July 13th and July 16th. On both occasions, he spoke about Swami’s omnipresence and His help to those in distress. In his inimitable style, Prof. Anil Kumar recounted humorous incidences from his initial years. One day, he had come to darshan without taking a proper bath as there was no electricity to heat the water. Swami humorously remarked that some people come for darshan without taking a bath. Such funny incidents from his life and his interactions with Swami kept the crowd in splits as well as driving home spiritual messages.
In addition to some eloquent student speakers, Swami also blessed another faculty member, Prof. Ramamoorthy, to speak on July 17th. Prof. Ramamoorthy chose to bring out the differences between education or plain imbibing of secular knowledge and educare or bringing forth the knowledge and divinity within you. He highlighted the salient points of the integrated system of education at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, and provided examples of its success from feedback received from employers.
On July 15th, the Xth class students of the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School presented a drama entitled, “Removal of Immorality is the only way to Immortality.”
The story centers on Ramesh, a wayward son and a cause of immense worry to his father. The story presents the transformation effected in Ramesh after participating in a Bhajan session. A Bala Vikas programme, where Ramesh sees small children portraying how anger, jealousy, greed and desire are the root cause of man’s immoral life, makes his transformation complete. Both Ramesh and his father then praise Bhagavan for this remarkable turn-around effected by His teachings. Happy with the performance, Swami created a gold chain and lovingly put it around the neck of the boy who portrayed Ramesh.
July 18th saw a full schedule of events. In the morning after giving darshan, Swami decided to reward the construction workers working in the Ashram. He came down the steps and personally handed each of the construction worker a watch and blessed them.
In the afternoon, Swami blessed 2 speakers - Ms Poorna Sri Devi, Principal of the Anantapur campus of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher learning and Ms Chetna, alumnus of the Anantapur College. Both of them touched upon Swami’s incomparable love and postulated that it would be the force that would unite the world. Following the speakers was an eagerly awaited event, another drama by the primary school boys. The tiny tots, taking a page from their seniors, staged a play entitled “I am I” using the fable of a lion cub, which, being brought up in a flock of sheep, also began to bleat and eat grass like sheep. One day it took another adult lion to catch this lion-cub by the scruff of the neck and show it its reflection in the water to make it realize that its true identity was a lion and not a sheep. Likening Bhagavan to this lion they said that He had come to make us realize that we are not sheep but lion cubs who have forgotten their true identity. The little boys in their colourful costumes, wonderful rendition of the dialogue and dainty dancing, won everyone’s heart.
Swami, we are all thankful to You for providing us these hoary teachings in such an easily understandable manner. Verily living with God is true education!