4 - Issue 02
BEHIND THE GLORIOUS 80TH BIRTHDAY
“A Thrilling Experience…With The Eternal Enigmatic Being”
“It was a thrilling experience… an experience that is etched in my memory for ever!” a Sai devotee, with an expression of great fulfillment and joy on his face, says. He was a witness to the glorious ‘festival of bliss’ that was the 80th Birthday celebration of Bhagavan Baba on the 23rd of Nov, 2005 .
“Whenever I recollect those blissful moments….”, another devotee, his face shining with a great sense of elation says, “…Swami in the bright yellow robe seated on the swan-like grand silver throne… so majestic, so magnificent and so full of benevolence with a beatific countenance on the Birthday evening… the lotus-shaped impressive stage on the west from which soul stirring music by the who’s who of Indian music was filling my heart …every artist weaving magic with the instruments and their voice, enlivening every cell of my being… And then, the laser show! I can never forget that. What a grand finale!
The laser show just arrested me with its myriad patterns frisking and dancing in perfect synchronization to the scintillating digital music, accompanying this, were the fireworks! Sparkling beams of bright light on that pleasant star-studded night…bursting and brightening that beautiful night…an unforgettable play of light and sound… add to this, the cool breeze… and ultimately, and most importantly, all this excitement in the immediate divine presence of the Eternal Enigmatic Being, my most beloved Baba - the very light of my life. No one present there could remain untouched with the magic of the moment and I was no exception!” concludes a Sai devotee who had come for the occasion from Orissa, a state which is miles away from Puttaparthi.
Every devotee who was present in the Hill View Stadium on the Birthday evening can very easily relate to this. Truly, the 80 th Birthday celebration was extraordinary. It was festivity at its best. Every devotee who had gathered for the occasion went home with memories to last a life time. Memories that drench every cell of their being with love and bliss whenever recalled.
It was to enjoy this moment with Sai on the 80th year of His earthly sojourn, to make the moment as special as possible, to make the long-awaited day as glorious as it could be that a sea of humanity had gathered. Truly, it was a birthday by the devotees, for the devotees, and in its truest essence, of the devotees. Truly the most precious day for every devotee is the day Swami entered his/her life and for each one of them the Lord’s Birthday is an event head and shoulders above their own birthday.
Swami’s Only Concern…His Devotees
Swami, pure selfless love that He is, if He were concerned about anything during the Birthday celebrations, it was about the devotees comforts and their well-being. Elderly devotees who were in close physical proximity of Bhagawan only know how Swami used to enquire everyday about the arrangements made for the devotees concerning their food and stay - and least about what major functions were being planned for the Birthday celebrations, be it dances, concerts, or fireworks. Whenever the elders who were chalking out elaborate plans and embarking on grand ideas to mark the day presented Swami with their plans, He would be quite uninterested, to say the least.To get His consent to make more shelters for the devotees would be far easier than to organize say, confetti being sprayed from a helicopter on the Birthday morning.
A plethora of distinguished personalities – politicians, musicians, sports-persons, educationists, doctors, lawyers, you name it from every field – and a large motley multitude comprising of Sai devotees from more than 145 countries had converged to pay their homage to Baba - their beloved, their divine mother and father.
“An Exciting Family Function” - G Sai Prasad from Hyderabad
As one Sai Youth from Hyderabad , G Sai Prasad, put it,
Experiencing The One Through the Many - Ricardo from Italy
Another devotee, Ricardo from Italy , said,
In fact, this was the feeling that many devotees echoed and the whole celebration transformed itself into a grand family function…a great family union. You could see the theme of the world conference – Unity, Purity and Divinity - in action. And Swami, the divine mother, played the role of a host to perfection to the thousands who had gathered to receive His love and benediction.
Food was served free of cost to everyone from the 18th of Nov to 24 th. Everybody enjoyed being in Prashanthi those seven days and relished the food that was served as ‘Prasadam’, as one devotee, Keenan from Australia , said during the birthday week,
Yes, incredible it was! In the Birthday week at least hundred thousand breakfasts, lunches and dinners including snacks were served every day. Every devotee looked at the arrangements made with awe and wonder.
Many Keenans and Kamaths like this who had come from all over India and the world, while enjoying the elaborate arrangements made for the devotees, wondered - “How does this all happen?”
HOW WAS THE MAMMOTH UNDERTAKING ACCOMPLISHED?
FOOD AND ACCOMMODATION ARRANGEMENTS
How lakhs of people were assiduously fed everyday? How did the Ashram canteens and their staff cope with such tremendous pressure? How were tens and thousands who landed in the small holy town accommodated? Who looked after Ashram security? Who looked after managing the tremendous crowd at every gate and every point of action? Who metamorphosed the Hill View Stadium from a cricket field to a big open air theatre? Who did the planning at the many levels and of course skillfully executed it all?
It is to provide clues to questions like this and to pay our tribute to thousands of Sai volunteers who worked tirelessly, anonymously and selflessly behind the scenes for weeks together, that we have this special cover story.
Many would not know that the planning for the Birthday celebrations began with the dawn of 2005 itself and it gained vital momentum during the Guru Poornima celebrations in July 2005. The All India President, Sri V Srinivasan, in right earnest, called a meeting of all the State Presidents of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations of India and formed the main Organizing Committee. Simultaneously various Sub-Committees were formed for various specific activities like the Food Committee, Accommodation Committee, Security Committee, Decoration, Sanitation, Health and Hygiene, etc.
‘Free Food For All’ – Bhagavan Baba
The most crucial of all was, understandably, planning and organizing food for lakhs of devotees every single day for the whole Birthday week from the 18th of Nov to the 24th. It was a mammoth undertaking and every devotee who came for the birthday went home with pleasant memories of the variety of dishes that were rolled out in all the seven days – each day’s menu being special and different. But nobody knows how many selfless men and women with blue and orange scarves had worked towards this end, not for days and weeks but for months.
The First Meeting of The Food Committee
In fact, the first meeting of the Food committee was organized by Sri S G Challam, the Service Wing Coordinator of Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, Andhra Pradesh, and a member of the Food Committee on the 20 th and 21 st of August 2005 in Guntur, a city in Andhra Pradesh as Andhra was assigned a major role in the food management. It was a conference of elders, active workers, experts, planners and thinkers where modalities of discharging the major responsibility of food was discussed in great detail. Data from previous world conferences were studied, a reasonable estimate of men and material was made and men of experience and expertise were identified for each activity. It was going to be a “Anna Yagnam” – a great sacrifice of offering food to thousands and the whole Sevadal cadre of the state was really gearing up for it.
The Second One Followed Soon…
Soon this was followed with another conference again in Andhra Pradesh, but this time in the city of Rajahmundry . Now finer details of every activity were worked out and planning went to micro-level. Various sub-committees like Manpower planning, Material procurement, Material Handling, Stores, Cooking, Kitchen Utensils, Kitchen Sanitation, Transportation, Distribution, Registration, etc. took shape and committed volunteers with experience were picked up to lead these committees. The role of every volunteer involved was clearly defined. The preliminary menu of the dishes was also made, estimates of the material required done and sourcing of all the materials, from utensils and vehicles to knives and brooms started immediately!
The Third Meeting With The All India President
Come October and there was another meeting convened by the All India President (AIP) of all State Presidents and a detailed discussion of the developments made in every sphere of arrangement - from food and accommodation to decoration and security - was made. It was in this meeting that the AIP conveyed the news about the likely announcement of ‘Free Food For All’ by Bhagawan for the Birthday week. Soon estimates of different items required were done and the great feeling of togetherness with which all the states joined in to offer their mite is really overwhelming. To give you just a glimpse -
Each State Wanted To Be A Part Of The Sacrifice…
While Andhra Pradesh offered rice, oil, tamarind and spices, Tamil Nadu said it will take care of all the vegetable, sugar and tea requirements. Punjab joined in to offer a variety of pulses and wheat flour while cooking oil came from Gujarat . Similarly, Kerala offered jaggery and vermicelli and the state president of Madhya Pradesh said all beaten rice and some pulses would come from his state. All tea and coffee would come from Karnataka and Assam. Bihar and Himachal Pradesh would supplement the milk supplies. Like this, every state wanted to be a part of this sacred undertaking and every state supplemented the rest of the requirements and lent their helping hand in every manner possible. It was decided that by Nov 10th all the supplies would reach Prashanti Nilayam, and that’s what precisely happened. The execution stage had begun after months of planning.
The Food Supply Network
Now with the supplies in place, activity shifted to preparing the infrastructure in Puttaparthi.
The Sevadal Volunteers Kept Coming….
Now, who was doing all this? By 16th of November, nearly 2,500 Sevadal volunteers from all parts of India, with a majority from Andhra Pradesh, had gathered and were in action. This number grew to 3,000 by 19th Nov and on the Birthday there were nearly 4,500 volunteers who had literally taken charge of every aspect of the Birthday celebration. They were ubiquitous in the Ashram and their dedication to selfless service was contagious.
A large number, nearly 60% of them were from the home state of Andhra Pradesh. Another 20% came from the neighboring state of Orissa, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The rest were from the far away states of Haryana, Delhi , Punjab and the like in the north, Sikkim and West Bengal in the East, Kerala in the South and Gujarat in the West. More than 40% of this workforce were in their thirties and they were ably supported by another 40% who were middle-aged.
Every activity from major to the minor was carefully thought through and executed. For example, once the menu for the seven days was finalized, the cooking of various items was beautifully shared among all the four canteens depending on their strengths and skills.
What Sumptuous Menus!
Curd rice, coffee and tea were the domain of the South Indian canteen while the kitchen attached to the North Indian canteen supplied the snacks and sweets for the afternoon tea. So, it was a great collaborative effort making optimum use of all the resources – men, material and expertise - available.
The food arrangement being the most challenging operation had more than 30% of the volunteers working on its various aspects. To this workforce joined another 400 young enthusiasts – The Hyderabad Sai Youth Group. “The dedication and commitment of all these volunteers is to be seen to be believed,” a senior member of the Sai family said.
All the arriving devotees were served first with Bhagavan’s Prasadam as soon as they alighted from their train. Recalling his experience at the railway station, a British devotee, Mark says,
“One of the Best Days of My Life” – Mark from UK
That was not all, there was a distribution point in the Puttaparthi village too! There was a counter set up at Sri Pedda Venkama Raju Kalyana Mantapam, so that devotees staying outside would not be put to the inconvenience of having to stand in long queues inside the ashram.
Incredible Effort from The Sevadals
Undoubtedly, it was not easy managing the timely distribution of food at every point. The first step was, of course, cooking. There was non-stop cooking which went on for 16 -18 hours everyday in every kitchen. It was just spontaneous outpouring of love of thousands of men and women who volunteered, unasked, to lend their mite to this mighty and holy endeavour. These volunteers, who came from different parts of the country, the young and the old, hailing from various walks of life, selflessly toiled for a fortnight, setting aside thoughts of their own comforts and convenience doing all sorts of activities in the kitchen – cleaning and cutting vegetables, washing vessels, shifting bags of rice and other items from the stores to the kitchens – and then moving the cooked food to the various counters and actually serving at the food counters. Their motto – ‘Cook With Love, Serve With Love.’
And that’s what they exactly did. Just to give you an idea of the staggering scale of activity that was involved –
In the seven days of cooking, more than 170 tons (170,317 kgs) of food material were cooked. Rice alone, of this, constituted 45 tons. Chapatis and puris were made out of 14 tons of wheat flour. 18 tons of oil was consumed and 13 tons of sugar went into the sweets and other preparations. And then, 50,000 litres of milk were used for various preparations apart from tea, coffee, etc. while 31 tons of vegetables were cooked and 12 tons of pickle was served.
Recalling a moving anecdote which really summarized the whole ambience of the work place in the kitchen, another Central Trust official says,
“Theirs was a Labour of Love” – Another Central Trust Official
Distribution of Food - Andhra Pradesh Sai Youth Come Here
After the cooking, the next major task was to ensure that the food cooked reaches the distribution points in time from the different canteens. This is the area where the Andhra Pradesh Sai Youth did a splendid job, as ever. They have been handling such work whenever there is a big event in Prashanthi Nilayam and during the 80th birthday they again amazed everybody with their energy, expertise and meticulous planning.
You could see that they were putting their corporate experience to full use by the way they went about doing their task – days ahead of the birthday week they were identifying and numbering the different routes to the distribution points, stocking adequate number of vessels required for every route, estimating the vehicles and number of trips required for each route, clearly marking ‘From’ and ‘To’ destinations with the Vehicle in-charge’s name and Mobile no. on the windshield of each of the 9 LCV’s and two pick up autos, constituting separate loading and unloading teams for each vehicle, positioning multi-lingual experienced youth in each of the four canteens to bring about perfect coordination with the distribution points as well kitchen in charges and of course, picking the right persons for the right jobs.
Did they fully succeed in utilising their corporate experience? K S Ravi Kiran, a Project Manager at GE in Hyderabad , who coordinated the activities in the Punjab Canteen says,
“The Only Awareness There Was…We Are Here For Bhagawan” - K S Ravi Kiran
The youth not only transported food items, they were engaged in other activities in the kitchen too like the cleaning the vessels, kitchen sanitation, etc. And like Ravi Kiran many youth realised that they were doing things that they had never imagined themselves capable of doing!
Recalling an experience on the same lines, G Sai Prasad, a Country Manager at Nokia Research Division, India , who coordinated activities in the Andhra Kitchen says,
“No Hard Work...Just The Divine Thrill of Seva” – G Sai Prasad
Yes, for the youth it was a great family union…a grand get-together to celebrate the birthday of their divine mother, the mother who is most precious than all the wealth of the world. And they did everything that is possible, the hard work and the unearthly working hours was never a pain, it was a blessing on the contrary.
Sai Prasad again going down the memory lane with great joy recalls,
Miracles Happened! – Ravi Kiran
Yes, it was hard work. It was thrill… not without challenges. With unclear skies and so many other uncertainties, it called for tremendous presence of mind and faith in the Divine. Recalling one of those pressure-filled moments, Ravi Kiran says,
Just to get a glimpse of the sense of dedication that these youth had for their beloved lord, (which really made miracles happen) listen to what Ravi Kiran has to say -
Pushing Through the Pain… A Great Learning Experience.
“Was There A Divine Hand At Work?” - Gangadhar Sarma.
A great learning experience…an eye-opener in fact! As Gangadhar Sarma, a project Leader in Wipro, who coordinated the transport activities at the South Indian Canteen, says,
“The Best Part of The Seva Was the Bhajans” - Gopi Krishna
The ‘Unseen Hand’ of Swami is an experience and a revelation that every Sai youth can vouch for. As Gopi Krishna, a management expert and a senior member of the Hyderabad Youth Group, says,
A sterling example of what selfless service and sacrifice can do. A great reminder of that immortal declaration that Lord Krishna gave to Arjuna thousands of years ago in the battlefield –
“Ananya Schintayantomaa Ye Janah Paryupasathe
Whoever is constantly engaged in thoughts of Me,
“We Could Feel Swami’s All-Pervasiveness” - Sri Challam, Andhra Pradesh Sevadal Coordinator
Sri Challam, the Andhra Pradesh Service wing coordinator, recalls the hectic says during the birthday and says,
Well, food was only one of the major arrangements surrounding the 80 th Birthday celebrations. There were many others – accommodation, security, sanitation, crowd control, decoration, maintenance, etc and every one of these activities were done by Sevadal.
“More Than 30,000 Entered Through the Ganesh Gate” - Sri Veera Reddy
Similarly, hundreds of Sevadals were busy controlling crowd at crucial junctions of the Ashram. Sri Veera Reddy who was managing the crowd at the Ganesh gate says,
ACCOMMODATION FOR THE THOUSANDS
Now, coming to the other principal task – providing accommodation to the hundreds that landed everyday. No effort was spared by the ashram authorities to ensure that none would have to be turned away at the gates of Prasanthi Nilayam and everything that was possible was done with the help of enthusiastic volunteers.
In addition to the dormitories that are usually available, more than 25 large shelters were put up to accommodate the hordes who were pouring in by the day. And work on these shelters started months ahead of the birthday.
There were separate accommodation arrangements made for the nearly 12,000 delegates who had gathered for the world conference. Every inch of Ashram space was utilized judiciously and a lot of planning went into allotting shelters for every state of India and every region of the world. You could see big boards on the temporary shelters saying –“ Maharashtra ”, “ West Bengal ”, etc.
Some devotees were even lodged in the Deena Janodharana Pathakamu complex – the orphanage near the ashram. There were free medical camps running and doctors were available round the clock for consultation and treatment near the large shelters. It was a great sight to see people from different regions and speaking different languages living and moving with each other so cordially and comfortably. In the Sai family, there is no stranger. “Sai Ram” is enough introduction and “Sai” is the common bond.
THE 8TH WORLD CONFERENCE
The two-day World Conference which had 8,000 delegates from India and more than 3,500 delegates from overseas was a sight to behold. It was a motley crowd of different cultures and regions, languages and beliefs but there was an underlying feeling of great brotherliness. All were just like children of one God, come to be with their dear father and they took back with them some of life’s most precious moments. To give you some glimpses –
This is the real miracle. The way Swami enters each individual’s heart and then slowly, silently but surely brings out a U-turn in the individual’s outlook. Many years pass and the individual cannot believe the amazing changes that have come about in his attitude towards life and society. And all this happens without Swami speaking a word to the devotee physically even once. His presence is enough. His power is there everywhere.
“I Am Doing the Same Thing...But With A different Consciousness Now” - Ricardo from Italy
Ricardo, who was there for the World Conference from Italy , expressed exactly the same sentiments when he said,
The theme of the conference was Unity-Purity-Divinity and you could really see how there was this tremendous feeling of brotherliness. It was a practical demonstration of the power of collective positive thought which can do miracles.
“To Be Here Is So Special” - Hector Casteneda from El Salvador
Moved by the love and unity so evident during the conference, Hector Casteneda, Central Coordinator for Mexico , Central America and the Caribbean, mentioned the following to Heart2Heart,
Their conviction about Swami and His message is exemplary and contagious. Each devotee has the golden book of his priceless experiences with Bhagavan in their and that gives all the inspiration and strength that each one needs whenever and wherever.
“The Care and Attention To All Was Wonderful” - Dr. Nelly Carache from Venezuela
Dr. Nelly Carache, a devotee from the South American country of Venezuela , said,
In whichever corner of the world he/she may be, each devotee feels Swami’s love. And seeing Swami physically during the grand Birthday celebrations was an experience that was phenomenal. Some devotees from distant countries, who were there in Prashanti just a few months ago during the Guru Poornima celebrations in July, could not allow themselves to miss the big event. The magic of His love and the gift of His Darshan pulled them and they were again back at the Lotus Feet of their beloved!
“We Are So Pleased To See Swami Again” - Steven Perry from UK
“The Best Miracle For Me Is To See Swami Move All Hearts” - Juan Carlos Ponce de Leon from Peru
Juan Carlos Ponce de Leon from Peru who was here in Prashanti Nilayam during the Birthday told Heart2Heart,
This was the inspiration with which the thousands who had gathered for the World Conference left – to share Swami’s love and His message. Their hearts were recharged and full with the experience of His presence and they wanted to share with anybody they could. And in fact, that is what life is meant for – to share love, to be caring, to realise that there is God in every being. When every man realises and practises this fundamental unity in creation, each one can see and feel divinity in every moment. The golden age truly then would have arrived.
THE WONDERFUL SAI SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
A beautiful event associated with the World Conference was the Sai Symphony Orchestra on the 21 st evening where 53 musicians from over 20 countries performed before Bhagavan. There were artists from Asia , Australia , Europe , North, Central and South America and they worked together during five days of rehearsals in a great joyful spirit of unity and love. Their goal was simple – to do their best before their Sweet Lord. Now, we are not going into details of the beautiful compositions they played. You must have read all this in the Prashanti Diary of the December issue. (To read it again, go here.) What we are going to give you is glimpses of the spirit behind their performances - what inspired them to come to Puttaparthi? How did they know about Swami? And what music means to them?
“Swami Has Blessed Me” - Klaus Maurer, Conductor
When Heart2Heart asked the conductor Klaus Maurer his experiences, he told us -
“This is the Best Moment Of My Career” - Andrea from Croatia
How true! Andrea so beautifully spelt out the soul of music.
“It’s Just Great To Be Here” - Letora from France
“What Swami Said About Love Really Moved Me” – Concert Member from Japan
“I Like Music With Love” - Harry from Holland
Yes, all the 53 musicians carried back with them memories…memories so sweet that will fill them with bliss whenever recalled, memories that will inspire them forever to divinize not only their music and but also every moment of their life.
After the World Conference, we know, there was the Institute’s convocation and then the action shifted to the Hill View Stadium for the big day!
THE STUNNING STADIUM ON THE BIRTHDAY
Not many people know of the elaborate planning and arrangements that were being made in the stadium weeks before the Big Day. More than 150 Sevadal volunteers were engaged in various activities in stadium for more than a week before the Birthday.
On the 22nd, there was even a rehearsal of the Sevadal deployment and the whole stadium was divided into seven sectors – three on the ground and the other four in the galleries. A student, who used to watch the developments in the stadium from behind the hostel in its preparatory days, says,
“The stadium seemed to have woken up from its quite and sedentary ways. The statues in the stadium already wore a fresh coat of paint as if they were all dressed and ready for the grand event. A casual observer would have noticed a team of people busy inspecting the Shanthi Vedika stage and the surrounding galleries. In the days to come they transformed the stage and the stadium into something that resembled a massive royal court! Somebody said, nay, it’s a great comfy open air theatre! With the green water-proof carpet all over the area of the ground, the stadium had acquired a totally new manifestation.”
A Complete Makeover to Shanthi Vedika
Yes, the stadium was actually no more a stadium. In fact, many people who had never seen the stadium in its preparatory days were shocked to the ground on the final day - "My God! We cannot recognise this. Is it the same Hill View Stadium that had the cricket ground?" they asked with big eyes and open mouths.
“The Shanthi Vedika stage was getting a complete makeover. Beautiful cut-outs and decorations started adorning the stage. The floor had beautiful tiles now and professional florists from many regions including Japan and Switzerland were busy creating a masterpiece of beauty. And then the ornate lamp-posts along the road…at night fall they lit up like a necklace around the stadium!” says another student and continues, “another neat idea you could not help appreciate was the path that was being made through the center of the ground. Thanks to this red-carpeted centre path, on the Birthday, hundreds of devotees could catch a glimpse of Swami from a distance of only a few metres!”
The Impressive Hoardings…
Huge hoardings came up around the stadium days prior to the 23rd conveying what Swami truly is - pure selflessness. "Your Well-being is my concern", "Your Joy is My Wish", "May There Be Peace And Love In The World" the 40 ft by 20 ft structures stated along with beautiful images of Swami smiling and blessing. And mind you, they were permanent structures in wood and iron which had taken a week to erect. In addition to this, smaller banners with the 80th birthday logo filled the stadium and added so much colour to the setting.
In fact, such huge hoardings were found not only in the stadium but inside the Ashram as well. Not only that, more than 30 such large hoardings were put up even in the city of Bangalore and many more on the way to Puttaparthi from Bangalore. All conveying the immortal message of love and peace of Swami.
Apart from the hoardings, there were also beautiful arches on every entrance of Hill View Stadium and even beyond the stadium. All these were the contribution of different states of India. Each coveyed an unique spiritual theme with beautiful art-work.
A New Stage Blossoming…
Just beside this stage, there was another big structure coming up - the LED display screen. It was in fact, from one of world's best companies in the LED business - Barco, a company renowned for its longstanding leadership in the visualization industry. There were actually two screens, the second one placed above the pavilion on the gents’ side. And these two displays were receiving their feed from eight video cameras set up at different strategic locations all round the stadium. There were even two aerial multi-dimensional ‘speed dome’ cameras on either side of the Shanthi Vedika. Thanks to this set up, all the devotees could totally involve themselves with the happenings on the stage and also watch close-ups of Swami sitting on the majestic throne in the Shanthi Vedika.
Explosions and Lasers!
Everybody who was there in the stadium on that blissful evening can never forget the grand fireworks and of course the laser show. The fireworks specialists were from the famous Sivakasi and were people who had handled various other mega-events across the country. Thanks to their expertise and also divine grace, in spite of the intermittent rain they lit up the evening sky on the 23rd with one of the most spectacular fireworks displays that Parthi had ever witnessed - the rockets went up to 100ft into the sky and many lit up a diameter of 125 ft with sparkling colours. Coupled with the laser show, these two events really mesmerised the devotees with the delightful play of sound and light and made the evening so very memorable.
THE WORLD OF MUSIC OFFERS THEIR DEVOTION TO SWAMI
We know that very eminent musicians offered their music to Swami on that beautiful evening. Be it Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma, Kavita Subramaniam and Dr. L Subramaniam, Amjad Ali Khan, Richa Sharma, Parveen Sultana or Dana Gillespie, for all of these musicians, the experience was priceless. Here is a glimpse of what a few of musicians said -
"We Think of Swami Constantly" - Amaan, Ayaan and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan
Amaan, Ayaan, Amjad Ali Khan and Subhalakshmi Khan after the performance said,
This is what Rahul Sharma, who along with his father Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma performed on the 80th Birthday night, said when we asked him - What does Swami mean to him? after his performance -
" I Feel Grateful...in This Lifetime To Receive His Love." - Rahul Sharma
“With Swami…We Are in Heaven” – Begum Parveen Sultana
When we spoke to Begum Parveen Sultana and Ustad Dilshad Khan after their concert on the 80 th Birthday evening, recalling their first performance in front of Swami, Parveenji said,
“I Think of Him In Every Step” - Dana Gillespie
We have read what Begum Praveen and Amjad Ali Khan had to say. Now let’s move from the heart of Indian classical music to the soul of western contemporary music. This is how Dana Gillespie, a well-known international blues singer, described her experience performing before Swami to H2H -
And how has Swami influenced her music and her life? Dana continues,
Well…there is no end to the experiences of devotees, be it Sevadals, artists or professionals who had come for the 80 th Birthday. Dear reader, the whole idea of this cover story was to give you those glimpses of the historic event that was the 80 th Birthday that many were unaware of and therefore not touched by it. We hope that the great stories of service and sacrifice of the Sevadals and the amazing experiences of various people from all over the globe and from different walks of life that has dotted this cover story inspire you, enliven you and give you another opportunity to revel and bask in the glory of Sai.
- Bishu Prusty
We are grateful to D J Das, Hari Shankar, Sudhindran, Gopi Krishna, Alex, Sri Challam and many other Sevadal members for their active cooperation and inputs.
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Vol 4 Issue 02 - February 2006
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