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  Volume 4 - Issue 07 JULY 2006
 
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PRASHANTI DIARY

CHRONICLES OF HEAVEN ON EARTH

A SPECIAL REPORT FROM SWAMI’S ABODE IN BRINDAVAN


While it is well-known that India is one of the world’s most populous countries, what is perhaps not so well-known is the fact that the youth compose over 60% of the population. And this youthful segment of the Indian population has now come of age and is asserting itself in many streams of national thought and is shaping the issues that will define the progress of the country over the next few decades.

And this facet of national life has also pleasantly infiltrated the Sri Sathya Sai Organizations. While the youth of the world have always been the chosen instruments of this Avatar occupying pride of place in His scheme of things, over the past 18 months there has been a more than the usual participation of youth in programmes in the divine presence - not only from the different states in India but also from abroad. Just a few months ago, we had a children’s Festival of Joy that was well attended by children from all the states of India. Then we had the youth from Hyderabad that played a very helpful role in the conduct of the 80th birthday celebrations as we reported in our past issue. Youth from England participated in last year’s grama seva. Talented youth have always come and performed in the divine presence – displaying their mastery over instruments like the sitar or else displaying their musical talents in full measure like the Sundaram Group from Chennai. Now after the Sadhana Camp of the Kerala Youth (as reported in Prashanti Diary of the June 1st issue), it was the turn of the Karnataka Youth to put up a program called Yuva Vandana - a 2 day celebration during Swami’s stay in Bangalore. And these are apart from the myriad programs that are regularly put up in the Divine Presence by the students and the alumni of His educational institutions both in Brindavan and Puttaparthi.

 

Apart from the program of the Karnataka youth, there were a host of organizations in Bangalore that also had one celebration or other before Swami’s return to Puttaparthi on June 8th. We bring an in-depth coverage for you all these different programmes in this month’s instalment of Prashanti Diary.

MAY 24th - 26th 2006 : AN EXHIBITION ON EDUCARE

A three-day exhibition intended to convey Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's message of Educare was held in Sai Krishan Kalyana Mantap between Wednesday the 24th and Friday the 26th of May during Swami's residence in Brindavan. The exhibition attracted a considerable attention from a large number of visitors.

Bhagavan Himself found the time and graced the exhibition on the morning of the 24th to signify the inauguration of the event. He was accompanied by Sri Y.N. Gangadhara Setty, Convener, Council of Management, Sri Sathya Sai Trust, Karnataka and Sri Nagesh Dhakappa, State President, Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, Karnataka and was received by the members of the team from the Spiritual Wing of the Organisation who had put together the Exhibition.

Swami went round the Exhibition and evinced keen interest in the posters and exhibits displayed. He expressed his approbation of the work and clearly conveyed His advice that the exhibition should not be confined to Bangalore but be taken to other centres in the State. Arathi was performed before Bhagavan left the Kalyana Mantap.

 
Swami being shown around the exhibition

The exhibition contained a display of around 80 computer-generated posters and other exhibits to underline the message of Educare. The Kalyana Mantap was tastefully decorated in anticipation of Bhagavan's visit.

 
A view of one of the exhibits
 
An exhibit on 3HV

The first exhibition on 'Educare' was held at Brindavan two years ago, and all the posters were put on the website of the Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust, Prashanti Nilayam. For this second exhibition, all the English posters were accompanied by Kannada translations so as to make it easier for the Kannada-knowing people to understand and appreciate the message sought to be conveyed through the exhibits.

 

The Exhibition was divided into separate sections each dovetailing into the other in a logical sequence beginning with the definition of Educare and the relationship between Education and Educare and then going on to cover subjects like the creation of the Universe and the lessons to be drawn from nature, the strange paradox of the absence of happiness and peace for mankind in spite of material prosperity, the importance of 3HV - unity of the head, heart and hands - in addition to EHV, the significance of the five Ds - duty, devotion, discrimination, discipline and determination - in charting one's course to self-transformation.

Fnally, it also portrayed the importance of conducting our lives in such a way as to satisfy Bhagavan’s statement: "Your life is My Message!" The publication: 'Educare - Veda of the 21st Century' was also made available to the visitors to the Exhibition.

A view of the crowd
   

Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's message of 'Educare', a synthesis of spiritual thought and practice, charts for us a clear way of life. It is proposed to take the display around the state in due course so that Bhagavan's message can reach an ever-widening circle of devotees

MAY 25th: A CONCERT BY THE GENTS OF THE BRINDAVAN BHAJAN GROUP

The Brindavan Bhajan Group has a fairly long history. Bhajans were initiated at Brindavan by Bhagavan on a regular basis during December 1968 after Swami returned from His trip to East Africa ... Initially, the lady members started the bhajan sessions with a few senior gents joining them. It was only in the year 1987 that male members also formally joined and formed a group after receiving the blessings of Bhagavan. The Brindavan Bhajan Group has since come a long way to the present structure wherein they form the back-bone of the bhajan singing especially during the summer months when Swami normally visits Brindavan.

The Brindavan Bhajan Group (Gents) which is now a part of the Spiritual wing of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organizations, Karnataka, is a group which is unique, comprising members of varied talents and professional backgrounds. The common thread which binds this heterogeneous unit is their love for Swami and a desire to sing His glory. Recently this talented group has been engaged in a number of Spiritual activities especially related to bhajan singing.

Apart from conducting regular bhajan sessions at Brindavan and selected temples in Bangalore city, the Group was also involved in conducting bhajan training sessions in various districts of Karnataka. There was an exhibition on Namasankirtan hosted by this group during the Divine Presence in 2005 entitled "Sai Nama Kirtana Kaliyuga Sadhana" at Brindavan during May 2005, which was again repeated with the Divine blessings at Prashanti Nilayam during the Gurupoorinma celebrations in July 2005.

 

 
The Group sings the Geetha Malika

On the same theme, "Sai Nama Kirtana Kaliyuga Sadhana", a comprehensive book giving insights on bhajan singing was also brought out by the Group along with an Audio-Visual CD during the 80th Birthday of Bhagavan, through the Karnataka Publications Trust. As a follow-up the group is now ready to present about 12 episodes of recorded Audio-Skit on Radio Sai Global Harmony to be aired shortly. This skit also highlights the significance and efficacy of namasankirtan.

 

A devotional songs ensemble called "Geetha Malika" comprising of 9 selected songs in Hindi, Sanskrit, Telugu and Kannada languages, was presented as a humble offering to Bhagavan on the 25th of May at Brindavan. Bhagavan appreciated the presentation of the songs. This was the first time that the Group presented a music programme in the Divine Presence. The devotional songs presented by the Group were a result of concerted and devoted efforts put in by the members for the past one year. The following are the songs of "Geetha Malika":

1. Gayiye Ganapathi Jagavandana (Hindi) The Presentation started with our Obeisance to Lord Ganesha who is the remover of all Obstacles. He who is worshiped by the entire World. He is the dear son of Shankara (Shiva) and Bhavani (Parvathi).

The gents are honoured with the group photo
   

2. Enu Daha Yava Moha (Kannada) There is an inexplicable thirst to see Him and a desire to sing His glory by His devotees. Let us become a bee which hovers around His feet humming His Name.

3. Govinda Shritha Gokula Brinda (Sanskrit) This song is a composition of Saint Annamacharya who extolled Govinda as Gokula Brinda. ...How fortunate are we to see the very same Sai Krishna in Brindavan!

 4. Teliyaga Tarama (Telugu) Is it possible for mortals to understand and comprehend Bhagavan’s glory? Nay even Saints and Sages nor even Brahma can comprehend! But we can win His Love by singing His namasankirtan.

5. Nee Kaiya Bidade (Kannada) Hold our hands Oh Parteesha.....We contemplate on You everyday. We yearn to have Your Vision... How blessed are we to have Your darshan today!

6. Darshan Bina Sai Man Nahilage (Hindi) Oh! Sai, Your darshan is the greatest gift to your devotees. We yearn to see You and will imprint You in our Hearts.

7. Sai Ram Meghashayam (Telugu) Swami, You are both Sathyaswaroopa and Shanthi Pradeepa ... .Salutations to You Dear Lord.

8. Dekha Bhagavan - Dhanyavaad (Hindi) Swami, we would like to express our gratitude to You. Whatever we possess today is only by Your Grace. That we are singing today in Your presence itself is only by Your Grace.

9. Sai Nama Kirtanamu Kaliyuga Sadhanamu (Telugu ) Sai Nama Kirtana is the only effective sadhana in this Kali Age. Let us all then sing with bhava, raga and tala (feeling, melody and beat). . .

After the conclusion of the programme, Swami called two senior members of the group to the dais and expressed His happiness about the morning programme. He said it was full of bhava (feeling) and wanted the songs to be printed in a book form. He also instructed the group to come to Puttaparthi and present the songs again there in His Divine Presence. He then further blessed all the members of the Brindavan Bhajan Group (Gents) who had performed that morning with a group photograph.

He then looked at the Mahila Wing (Ladies’ wing) of the Bhajan Group and though they had not sung that morning, still they had served Him long and well over the years. He called the leader and asked her to bring all the ladies also on the dais for a group photograph. With happy expressions all the ladies ran up the dais at this unexpected divine benediction of an opportunity for the coveted group photograph!

 
 
The ladies too are delighted
 

MAY 27th - 28th : YUVA VANDANA – A KARNATAKA YOUTH PROGRAMME

In His infinite compassion, Bhagavan Baba graciously permitted the holding of a state level Youth Meet in His immediate divine presence at "Brindavan" on the 27th and 28th of May '06. This two-day meet was widely attended - 2250 Sai Youths and around 400 Balvikas Gurus and other office bearers attended the meet. They arrived at Brindavan by the 26th evening from all the parts of the state. Elaborate arrangement for their food, accommodation and transport had been arranged by the organisers. In addition, 1000 school children drawn from the various villages (where a number of service activities are regularly conducted) also attended the function.

Every village boy dressed in a white pant and shirt and every village girl in a white salwar kameez, specially stitched and blessed by Swami earlier, were a sight to watch, as the children were so very happy. With all these youth and children, the energy levels were very high in Brindavan during the course of the two days.

 
The girls from the neighbouring villages.
And the village boys.


The First Day Morning Programme

The programme was inaugurated in the morning of the 27 th of May by Swami. An elaborate procession was organised to escort Him over the very short distance from His residence in Trayee to the stage in Sai Ramesh Hall. Bhagavan Baba was thus accorded a ceremonial welcome with Veda chanting, nadaswaram, Chande, Keelu Kudure and Dollu Kunita folk dances done by youth from the different districts of Karnataka.

Bhajans were also sung by Sai Youths drawn from different districts. Bhagavan Baba arrived on the stage and inaugurated Yuva Vandana - 2006 by pressing a remote button and a huge lotus erected on the stage bloomed, a little dramatically with smoke coming out from the bottom, and all the huge photographs of Bhagavan Baba on the stage were illumined brightly simultaneously.

 
   
The colourful procession

The Lotus flower after it opened revealed His Lotus Feet in the centre and was illuminated with the name of the festival YUVA VANDANA in bright letters on the top. The lotus was erected against the back-drop of a blue sky to provide a pleasing contrast

 

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Swami inaugurates by pressing a button
 
The Lotus is illumined

While Swami was inaugurating the function the youth continued singing the bhajans. They started with Ganesha Sharanam and followed it with the bhajansShakshatha parabrahma, Sarva Dharma Priya, Sri Kari, Jaya Panduranga, Hare Ram Hare Ram. They ended their bhajan presentation with Jaya Jagadeesha Hare and Bolo Bolo Sab Mil Bolo. Clearly the bhajan singers are very talented and Swami enjoyed their bhajan singing this morning and also on subsequent other occasions during this two-day festival, for it was their pleasant duty to sing the bhajans as Swami arrived into Sai Ramesh Hall both in the morning and the afternoon.

 
The bhajan singers on the ladies side.
The singers on the gents side

After inaugurating the function, and as the bhajan singing was going on, Swami expressed a desire to walk around the youth and the children. He blessed the distribution of the school kit to all the children, a timely gesture at the beginning of the school year. The school kit containing a school bag, 6 Note-books, a Geometry box, pens & Swami's laminated photograph were then distributed to all the 1000 children to their great joy, as a blessing from Bhagavan Baba, while Swami Himself stood observing and blessing all of them. Swami further blessed the school children and the Sai Youth by moving amidst them, giving darshan, sparshan and sambhashan before returning to the stage so that the morning’s festivities could begin.

 

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The school kits for distribution
 
A close-up of the school kits.

Swami permitted to start the programme with a theme song and a welcome song written by Sri Kasturiji and four little girls dancing to its melodious tunes. This was followed by music programme by Sri Shankar Shanbhogue and Smt. Smita Bellur and party. They gave a very scintillating performance singing compositions of Purandara Dasa, Meera and Basaveshwara.

Sri Shankar Shanbhogue is an exponent in devotional singing and has learnt under the guidance of Pandit B. Radhakrishna Baliga, Pandit Mahabaleshwar Bhagwat, Pandit Madhav Bhat, Pandit Ramrao.B Naik, Pandit Raj Bhau Sontekke, and Pandit Panneshwar Hegde.

Smt. Smita Bellur was initiated into Hindustani Classical Vocal Music at the age of 12 by Guru P.R. Bhagwat and continued her learning with Pandit Arjuna Nakod, a doyen of the Gwalior Kirana Gharana. Presently she is getting her classical taleem from Pt. Balachandra Nakod.

And then suddenly without much fanfare the Lord was amidst them. Quickly He blessed the food that was going to be served to them - consecrating it as prasadam – a wholesome South Indian fare of sambar (thick lentil soup) rice cooked with vegetables; and also curd (yogurt) rice. He waited and continuously cast His beneficent gaze on all while the seva dal lovingly served these Narayanas, seated in rows with the ladies on one side and the gents on the other.

 
Sri Shankar Shanbhogue with accompaniments
 
Smt. Smita Bellur
 

They sang songs alternately. Sri Shankar began first with the Keshavadas composition Gaganopama Gan Ganapataye followed by the Purandaradas composition Dasana Madiko Enna and his last song was the Hindi Hari Tum Haro Jana ki Bheer. Smt. Bellur sang the dasa pada - Nandenado Illi followed by the vachanas - Bettada Melondu and Guru Vinadinda.

They were accompanied by Pandit Vasanth Kankapur on the harmonium and Sri Guru Murthy Vaidya on the tabla.

With mangalarathi and prasadam distribution, the morning programme concluded. The arathi was a little unusual in that about 12-14 people, on both the gents and the ladies side did the arathi simultaneously using lamps of different shapes and sizes, with the largest one being at least 3 feet long.

The arathi being performed

The First Day’s Evening Programme

The afternoon function started with bhajans on Bhagavan Baba's arrival. The singers started with Pahi Gajanana, followed by Easwaramba Priyanandana, Radhe Govinda, and Arunachala Shiva. After these bhajans Swami blessed the afternoon programme to start.

The programme started with an introductory talk by Sri Nagesh G. Dhakappa, Karnataka State President of the Sathya Sai Seva Organizations and he also introduced the two youth speakers. Kumari Shivaleela from Dharwad and Sri. Vinay Kumar from Bangalore spoke about youth activities and their experiences as also the transformation that has come about amongst the youth.

 
Sri Dhakappa does the introduction

 

Kum. Shivaleela, who was selected to speak in the Divine Presence after she had won a state level elocution contest, spoke in Kannada about the changes in her after entering college. Starting with the value of prayer she recounted how Swami had returned after giving interviews, when their group went away having breakfast while the interview was going on.

They then started praying and reciting the Gayathri mantra and Swami in response returned and granted darshan again. Recounting another story she talked about the time when one Sunday there were only three of them to do the Narayana Seva in an adopted village. By Swami’s grace the auto driver who took them there also participated in the seva and many of the village folk themselves helped out. In fact the auto-rickshaw driver also did not charge them for the trip back.

Kum Shivaleela speaks to the crowd in Kannada.
 

Speaking next was Sri Vinay Kumar, Youth President of the Karnataka State Seva Organizations and one of the organizers of the programme. He touched upon Swami’s beneficial influence in His life and the protective role that mother Sai has had in critical moments of his life. One memorable account was how Swami saved him from nasty office politics!

He recounted feelingly about how depressed he was as he was being blamed in the office for something he was not responsible for. He prayed ardently to Swami as he felt that only Swami could save him from the forces that were arrayed against him. Swami worked wonders in His own way. He totally transformed the Managing Director and over time far from being antagonistic the MD not only became a friend but even an ardent Sai devotee, dropping in often to talk to Vinay about Swami.

 
   
Vinay Kumar follows in English
 

Bhagavan Baba blessed the gathering with His divine discourse followed immediately by mangalarathi. Exhorting the youth to follow the path of Sathya and Dharma, He said in part,

“It is only the youth who are capable of protecting this world. It is the youth and youth alone who can set this world right.

No nation can stand without youth. Sometimes, the elders underestimate the capabilities of the youth, thinking that they are inexperienced and young. But the youth are endowed with immense power. If they take a firm resolve, they are capable of achieving anything. If they realise their power, they can emancipate the nation. This does not need any education.

The Divine Discourse
   

What is education? Education means Vidya which connotes the knowledge of the Self. This is the foundation of all education. Today students are acquiring only bookish knowledge. Does a man become educated just by acquiring a college degree? Can a person who lacks wisdom and does not perform righteous actions be called educated? Education which does not confer wisdom is no education at all; it is only worldly and bookish knowledge.

Imagine the great sacrifice of Sakkubai who renounced everything for the sake of God. Na Karmana Na Prajaya Dhanena Thyagenaike Amrutatthwamanasu (Immortality is not attained through action, progeny or wealth; it is attained only by sacrifice). Money is the root cause of many evils. Money makes many wrongs. The first priority of the moneyed people today is to send their children abroad for education. Too much money leads man to the path of evil. Money comes and goes, morality comes and grows. So, we have to develop morality. The very foundation of Bharat is based on Sathya and Dharma. This is what we have to propagate. The Bharatiyas should consider adherence to truth as the greatest Dharma. Sathya and Dharma are most important in the life of man. The youth should strictly adhere to them. What is Sathya? It is the harmony of thought, word and deed. Where these three are in harmony, Sathya is present there. People speak something on the platform, they have something else in their mind, and their actions are entirely different from what they speak and think. This is the worst sin.

Your very form is love. It is love that protects the whole world. The five elements that constitute the universe are based on love. Only when love combines with the five elements does the universe come into existence. But love is not to be seen anywhere today. Today there is lack of love even between mother and children. What happened to that love? We are bartering it for money. When money is lost, nothing is lost. Instead of putting our faith in money, we should have more faith in love and should develop love to love relationship with others. When you have this type of relationship based on love, love will develop more and more. Only then will we be able to love everybody.

Those who have money should look after the poor and sick people. Utilise all your earnings in a proper manner. Consider social service as service to yourself. Do not bear hatred or enmity towards anyone. Enmity is a wicked quality. Friendship is very important. You and I should become one. That is true Maitri (friendship). All should become united. If you really want to see God, first see Him in everyone. The youth should greet and treat each other with love like brothers and sisters.

Face all difficulties with forbearance. Accept all trials and tribulations with love. Accept both pleasure and pain with love. Fill you heart with love and not with the poison of evil qualities. Even poison becomes Prasadam (sacred food) if it is offered to God. When Mira was given a cup of milk mixed with poison, she offered it to Krishna. Krishna accepted the poison and gave her the milk as Prasadam.”

Immediately thereafter, Sai youths from Mysore enacted a play entitled "Ekalavya" in the Sai Ramesh Krishan Kalyana Mantap.

This play was written by the renowned Kannada playwright of hallowed memory - Sri. T.P. Kailasam. All the actors who appeared on the stage were the students of the Mysore Medical College and they were drawn from all over Karnataka. They were also the old students of the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva, Junior College, Sathya Sai Vihar, Alike.

The play in Kannada brings out the supreme qualities of Ekalavya, the subtle changes made by Sri T.P. Kailasam in the traditional story have added to its poignant sanctity.

The story of Ekalavya is a rather difficult theme to present effectively and positively on stage because it reflects a rather dark chapter from the story of the Mahabharatha. It can be a story of deceit but the boys did a commendable job in focussing on Ekalavya's devotion to his preceptor Dronacharya and the ultimate sacrifice which Ekalavya performed in order to uphold the word of the Guru and thus made himself an eternal and universal ideal for all youth.

 
A tribal dance

 

Ekalavya is a tribal youth and is enamoured in becoming a great archer. He is very talented and approached the preceptor Dronacharya to take him as his shishya or disciple. But Dronacharya taught only the princes of the Kshatriya lineage and hence refused. Undaunted, Ekalavya makes a clay idol of his guru and teaches himself archery, by accepting the clay model of Dronacharya as his guru.

The play brings out Ekalavya’s tribal roots and there are a couple of tribal dances and songs sung in Kannada that were melodious. Moving on, one day Arjuna and his guru Dronacharya were walking in the forest. There they meet with proof of Ekalavya’s immense skill as an archer. Arjuna reminds Dronacharya of the guru’s promise to make him (Arjuna) the greatest archer on earth.

The confrontation between Ekalavya and Arjuna
 

The confrontation between Arjuna and Ekalavya is electric and full of fast paced dialogue which was well appreciated by the Kannada speaking crowd. When Ekalavya hears about the guru’s promise to Arjuna, unhesitatingly he gives his right thumb to his “guru” Dronacharya as guru dakshina so that the guru could redeem his word to his disciple Arjuna of making him the greatest archer on earth.

Giving his right thumb as dakshina.
Ekalavya receives the guru's blessings

Swami watched the entire play and later personally handed over watches to each of the participants in the drama. Bhagavan Baba also expressed His immense happiness at the performance by creating a "Navaratna Ring" for Sri Kishen Bhagwat who enacted the role of Ekalavya. He also had a special word for the director of the play.

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A navarathna ring for Ekalavya
 
A group photo with the actors

The Second Day’s Programme

On Sunday, 28th May, bhajans were held by members of "Sai Gitanjali, Sri Sathya Sai Seva Kshetra" J.P. Nagar, Bangalore followed by Narayana Seva and vastra dana by Bangaloremahila seva dal (reported below). Talks were arranged in the morning for the Sai Youth in Sri Sai Krishen Kalyana Mantap. Sri B. N. Narasimha Murthy, Warden, Sri Sathya Sai Hostel; Sri Sanjay Sahani, Principal, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning; Sri. U. Gangadhar Bhat, Chairman, Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Institutions, Alike and Smt. Geeta Mohanram from U.S.A. addressed the Sai Youth.

The afternoon session started with bhajans by Sai youth on the arrival of Bhagavan Baba. They were able to sing just two bhajansPasupathi Tanaya and Rasavilola Nandalala before Swami asked the afternoon programme to start.

This was followed by two music programmes. First was a "Tala Vadya Kacheri" by Sri Arjun Kumar and party followed by instrumental fusion music by Sri Muthu and party.

The Mridangam is one of the most ancient percussion instruments in India.  It is considered a divine instrument as according to the Puranas, Lord Vishnu played the Mridangam during the Celestial dance, Tandava by Lord Shiva, while Goddess Saraswati played the veena, Indira the flute and Goddess Lakshmi was the vocalist.

In Talavadya kacheri, the Mridangam is accompanied by the instruments like the Tabla, the Ghatam, the Khanjira, and the MorsingGhatam is a pot made of special clay and baked to make it musical.  Khanjira is a stretched membrane over a circular ring and Morsing is an instrument made of metal having a pinhead and it produces a melodious sound.  It is also known as the Jewish Harp in western music.

Talavadya kacheri means a concert using exclusively percussion instruments. It is a difficult exercise to bring together several percussion instruments and fuse their sounds together and render a full-fledged classical concert. But this is exactly what the artists did that morning. The artists were Sri Arjun Kumar on the Mridangam, Sri.Giridharudupa on the Ghatam, Sri Rajendra Nakod on the tabla, and Sri A.S.N. Swamy on the Kanjira and Sri M. Gururaj on the Morshing.

 
 
The Talavadya Kacheri

All of them took to the exposition of Aditalam which consists of eight mathras (syllables). Additionally, they made it interesting by telling the konnakol (which means saying the rhythm through the voice instead of the instruments). Needless to say this unusual fare was thoroughly enjoyed by all present in Sai Ramesh Hall.

Wanting to continue to present a different fare rather than the usual run of the mill concerts, the organizers also contacted the fusion band River, led by Sri Muthu Kumar. Sri Muthu Kumar who is an alumnus of Swami’s Institute readily agreed at this golden opportunity to be in Swami’s presence. While Sri Muthu Kumar played on the tabla, Sri Ashok Iyengar provided the music of the Sitar, Sri Gopinath enthralled us on the drums, and Sri Praveen David formed the quartet on the guitar. The fusion band had four items. They started with the bhajan Manasa Bhajare Guru Charanam, and then classical fusion music with Raag Jogiya was presented next. Their rendition of Bhairavi was very enchanting and last but not the least they provided the back-ground music for the climax of that evening session where the youth offered the Yuva Vandana song sung by Dr.Anandkumar and Sri Sai Hariharan. This song composed in three languages (Kannada, Telugu and English) was set to tune by Sri Hariharan.

 
The Fusion Music.
 
The Yuva Vandana Song.

The words for the Yuva Vandana song are as follows:

KANNADA

Yuva vandana yuvavandana yuvavandan saige yuvavandana

(We young people make pranams to Sai)

Nammaswamige yuvavandana

(We young people make pranams to Swami)

Sathya Saige youvavandana

(We young people make pranams to Sathya Sai)

Hridaya sarathige yuva vandana

(We young people make pranams to the heart’s charioteer)

TELUGU

Asirvadinchu asirvadinchu asirvadinchu maa sai asirvadinchu maa Swami

(Bless us, bless us, bless us, oh Mother Sai)

Mee matale memu cheppalani

(Our tongue should recite your Name always)

Mee patale memu padalani

(We should always sing Your glory)

Mee premelo memu munagalani

(We should immerse ourselves in Your Love)

Meekosame memu brathakalani

(We live for You)

The last sentence of the song in English, “We all have come to say we love You Swami” was rendered by more than two thousand youths assembled in Sai Ramesh Hall.

At the close of the function, Bhagavan Baba stood up and expressed His immense happiness. Swami also announced that this was one of the best recitals and Swami assured the youths that He is always with them all the time. He appreciated the drama by the Medical students and called them on stage and posed again for a group photo with them. He appreciated the Sai Youth arranging such a drama and music programmes in such an efficient and appealing manner.

 
Posing for a Group Photo.
 
Swami expresses His happiness
 

He created a Navaratna necklace for Sri. Vinay Kumar, member State Youth Co-ordination Committee. He also spoke about the Ekalavya drama and expressed that it was a difficult theme well rendered.

He also asked the boys to come and perform the drama in English at Prashanti Nilayam. (Hmmm, that would make the reporting easier as it was difficult for Heart2Heart to get English translations from the organisers for the programs held in Kannada).

This programme concluded with the blessings of Baba and mangalarathi.

A navarathna mala for the Youth President
   
     
 

MAY 28th Morn: GITANJALI BHAJANS AND NARAYAN SEVA

On the morning of the 28th the devotees from Sai Gitanjali, a Sai centre in J.P. Nagar, Bangalore, were blessed by Bhagavan to offer a bouquet of bhajans in the Divine presence. They had come by buses early in the morning and were given pride of place so they could celebrate the 9th anniversary of their centre in the Divine Presence.

After Swami arrived in Sai Ramesh Hall, they welcomed Him with a rose and gave Him a card that outlined the bhajans they wanted to sing for Him this morning.

They first paid homage to Lord Ganapathi with Sri Gananatha Gajanana and followed it up with the bhajansManasa Bhajare Guru Charanam, Akhanda Jyothi Jalao Sai Man Mandir Mein, Antaranga Sai Anathanatha Sai, Jai Jai Bhavani Maa Ambe Bhavani Maa, and Tripura Shiva Shankara. They also sang the bhajans Sathyanarayana Govinda Madhava, Rame Hare Sai Krishna Hare, Radhe Govinda Radhe Gopala Sairam, and Shambho Mahadeva Shiva Shambo Mahadeva. They concluded the morning session with the bhajans Radhe Govinda Bhajo Radhe Gopala Bhajo, Rama Sumira Man and the 13th and last bhajan of the morning was Jaya Vittala Vittala Vittala Jaya Vittala Panduranga. Swami then asked for the arathi to be taken so He could go on with the next activity that was dearer to His Heart – alleviating the distress of the poor.

 
The Ladies sing bhajans.
The gent singers

Even while the bhajan singing was going on, Swami’s attention was frequently diverted to the activities and preparation going on near the Kalyana Mantap for Narayana Seva (feeding the poor) and vastra danam (giving of clothes) by the Ladies Wing of the Bangalore Seva Dal.

After the arathi was taken, Swami hurried to the Kalyana Mantap and blessed the clothes and food and waited till the service was well underway before He returned to His abode in Trayee Brindavan

MAY 29th: A SANTOOR CONCERT BY Pt. SHIV KUMAR SHARMA

In the afternoon we were regaled by a concert by the great santoor master and legend Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma.

 
   
Blessing the Narayan Seva

Santoor is a Persian word and it means a hundred strains. It is the oldest known string instrument of India. In Sanskrit it is called the shata tantri veena or "a hundred-stringed lute". The word 'veena' was used to describe all stringed instruments where the sound is created by maneuvering the taut string of a bow or pinaki. In the Rig Veda there is mention of the pinaki veena, which also happens to be the instrument of Lord Shiva.

The Santoor as used by Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma is played with a pair of curved mallets made of walnut wood and the resultant melodies are similar to the music of the harp, harpsichord or piano. The sound chamber is also made of walnut wood and the bridges are made of local wood and painted dark like ebony. The strings are made with steel from Germany and England. The instruments used to be made by one family, known as Rehemanju Saz, and the instrument that Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma plays was made by the grandfather of the present maker when he was 95 years old.

To state that Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma is a legend is a master understatement. After all, how many musicians can boast of single handedly bringing forth an obscure, almost unknown instrument to the level of being “indispensable” on the concert platform! Musicians and their instruments do become synonyms, but the santoor has acquired such an identity solely because of Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma.

In recognition for his immeasurable contribution in the field of music, the Government of India conferred on him the title of Padma Vibhushan, the second highest award that can be given to any citizen of the country.

 
The maestro plays for the audience
 

But more than anything else he is an ardent devotee of Swami making time to come and see Him many times in the year in spite of his immense popularity and the great demands on his time for concerts around the world. And he has played for Swami many times most notably at the 80th Birthday celebrations last year.

For the more knowledgeable readers, Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma played the raga Khamuz and the taal was Dadre and Teental (16 beats). The second piece was Swami’s bhajan Prema Easwar Hai in Bhajani taal.

Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma was ably accompanied on the tabla by Sri Vishwanath Nakode.

The fingers make magic...
   

MAY 31st: “SAI DARSHAN’S” PROGRAMMES IN SAI RAMESH HALL

The Morning Programme

May 31st was a red letter day for the devotees who belonged to “Sai Darshan”, a Sai centre in Indira Nagar, Bangalore. At a specially arranged function, they were able to regale the Lord with bhajans, apprise Him of their activities over the year and have Him inaugurate an addition to their centre building. They children of the centre also staged a drama in Sai Krishan Kalyana Mantap in the evening.

Swami was welcomed to the Hall in the morning by the bhajans sung by the group. The bhajans that were sung by both the ladies and the gents that day included the following: Jai Jai Jai Jai Ganapathi Deva, Om Namo Bhagavathey, PurandaraRanga, Guru Brahma Guru Vishnu, Sri Ramachandra, Shiva Shiva Shiva, Karunasamudra Sri Rama, Hara Shiva Shankara, Shirdi Sai Dwarka Mai, and Amba Vandanam.

 
Swami inaugurates the new addition
 
The Easwaramma Hall is symbolically opened

After Swami signalled for the programme to start, there was a brief vedam chanting by the elders of the Sai Darshan group. Sri S.N.S. Murthy then briefly narrated the agenda for the day and handed over to Swami a booklet that summarised the activities of the group. He also requested Swami to press a button that opened a curtain on a specially erected structure on the dais to reveal a portrait of Mother Easwaramma.

Thus by pressing the button Swami symbolically blessed “Sai Darshan” to have an addition on the first floor of their building, to be named as Mother Easwaramma Hall, to accommodate the growing activities of the centre.

Swami spent some time going through the booklet and also listened to the melodious bhajans sung that day. The morning programme concluded with arathi and distribution of prasadam.

 
Swami goes through the booklet.

The Afternoon Programme

In the evening after the normal darshan and bhajans in Sai Ramesh Hall, all of us quickly moved to Sai Krishan Kalyana Mantap for the children’s drama. The children of “Sai Darshan” enacted a play in Kannada called “Ramayanada Ramaneeyaru” based on the Ramayana.

The play had a cast of 33 children – both boys and girls – and depicted sequentially the story of Rama’s exile for a period of 14 years and His triumphant return to Ayodhya and His coronation, following the death of Ravana in the epic battle.

The play began with a scene where the ‘Bala Leelas’ and the growth into manhood of the four sons of Dasaratha were described. The next scene conveyed Mantara’s evil scheme of sending Rama into exile so that Bharata could ascend the throne of Ayodhya. Manthara succeeded by poisoning Kaikeyi’s mind to wring out from Dasaratha the two boons he had promised her many years earlier. Kaikeyi following through with this advice was depicted in a poignant tearful and tragic scene.

 
Swami being welcomed.
 
Dasaratha faints on hearing Kaikeyis boons.

The play then showed Rama appropriately dressed up and getting ready to go to the forest. However, He finds that both wife Sita and brother Lakshmana want to accompany Him. All of them take tearful leave of mother Kausalya, Urmila and Sumithra. The episode of Shoorpanakhi being punished by having her nose cut off by Lakshmana, and Ravana vowing to abduct Sita against his wife Mandodari’s advise is next shown.

 

Sita and Lakshmana want to accompany Him to the forest.
 
Ravana swears revenge for Shoorpanakhi.

The next scene showed the trio in Chitrakoot and beyond where Mareecha in the guise of a golden deer lured Rama away from His hut. Ravana in the guise of a holy man begging for alms enticed Sita to cross the three “Lakshmana Rekhas’ and abducted her to his home in Lanka.

After this came the beautiful episode of Sabari offering hospitality to Rama and Lakshmana who are searching for Sita in the forest. In a brief scene Tara, the wife of Vali, is blessed by Rama and then Tara directs her son Angada to join the search for Sita.

There was also a scene where Ravana tried to woo Sita but was spurned by Her. Trijatha offered Sita some comfort in Ashoka Vana. Hanuman then enters the scene, is blessed by Sita and carried her choodamani (head-band) back to Rama. He also destroyed most of Ashoka vana.

 
Sabari offers hospitality

Moving on, the drama next showed Rama subjecting Sita to ‘Agni Pariksha’ – the test by fire – before receiving and accompanying her back to Ayodhya. In Ayodhya Bharata and Shatrugana anxiously await the arrival of Rama. The final scene showed Rama’s coronation and His assurance to the vanaras (the monkeys) that He would have them as His devotees in His future Avatar as Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

The duration of the play was around 50 minutes and the children and everyone who had assisted with the play received Bhagavan’s blessings.

 

Hanuman and Sita in Ashoka Vana
The coronation of Rama

JUNE 1st: SPEECHES BY TWO ELDERS

June 1st is the date the Institute opens after the summer vacation. Sai Ramesh Hall was abuzz with the new and returning students, all glad to be there and having Swami’s darshan. Normally when Swami is in Brindavan, He visits the College Auditorium in the morning on this day and blesses all the students there at the start of the academic year. This year however, He chose to visit the Vydehi Hospital in the morning, perhaps in response to the ardent prayers of its chairman who is a Sai devotee.

 

The Vydehi Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (as it is called) is next door to the Super Speciality Hospital in Whitefield. The Institute has a Biotechnology Park within its campus with over 500 varieties of medical plants. This Institution also provides free tertiary healthcare with love and compassion for the underprivileged and ailing. The Institute also focuses to deliver high quality, comprehensive, integrated medical education and research. After spending about 20 minutes there, Swami was returning back to Trayee Brindavan, when the railroad crossing gate was closed. The driver parked His car under the shade of a tree, while waiting for the train to cross.

While the security restricted the traffic from passing Swami’s car, they did allow the few pedestrians on the road at this hour to get close to Him right up to the car and have the bliss of a real close-up darshan. We were amazed that a gentleman even had a letter ready to hand over to Swami right there on the road itself!

Giving darshan on the wayside


The kind and compassionate Lord in order to compensate for not visiting the Institute in the morning asked two elders to address the students in the evening. As the function was held in Sai Ramesh hall, all of us were also benefited.

The first to speak was Sri T. G. Krishnamurthy, a devotee with over four decades of divine association. He has held increasingly important positions of seva in the Tamil Nadu Sathya Sai Seva Organizations and was its immediate past State President. He chose to address the students about God’s role when He comes down to earth to reform mankind.

He said that first and foremost He is the divine mother and father and showers immense love to melt the most stone-hearted and reform him. He is simultaneously the divine preceptor, who removes ignorance.

 

 

 
Sri T.G. Krishnamurthy

He also stated that we can converse with God only in solitude. Hence we have to observe silence and in that silence we can draw extra energy from Him to help us solve our problems. We also have to get rid of our ego so that God can open our eyes of devotion. In conclusion, he also talked about the 4 letters:

1. Roopa Madhuri: He is so beautiful that there is no saturation point in looking at Him.

2. Geeta Madhuri: Everything He says is poetry

3. Leela Madhuri: “Isn’t it astonishing”, he asked, “How many tons of gold would have been transformed into gold chains, bracelets, and rings by Him over the years?”

4. Prema Madhuri: To acquire Him by love. He is love.

Sri Krishnamurthy concluded by saying that when you lose everything that you have acquired in this world (i.e. material desires) then whatever you have not acquired (i.e. God) will be with you forever. So we should control the senses and be always happy in order to experience Him.

 

Next to speak was Sri B.N. Narasimhamurthy, the Warden of the Brindavan campus of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher learning. Quoting a Kannada poet who 800 years ago in an epic said of the love outpouring from his heart, “Just as the katchora bird has only one desire to see the rise of the full moon; just as the lotus has only one desire to see the sunrise; just as the bee has only one desire to see the nectarine honey in the flower, so also I have only one aspiration to contemplate on the Lotus Feet of the Lord”. Sri Narasimhamurthy said that our Lord also has only one desire – Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu. His whole life is full of love, compassion and service to mankind.

Narrating an incident of Swami’s love and compassion, Sri Narasimhamurthy recounted how Swami wanted to honour Sri V. Srinivasan, currently the All-India President of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organizations on his 60th birthday. Swami is a great administrator, organizer and manager. Planning for this function, Swami went into all the minutest details, including how Sri Srinivasan should be lodged and how and who should receive him on arrival. And out of His bountiful love, He permitted Sri Srinivasan to sit with Him on the jhoola (swing). Sri Srinivasan then with all humility said, “Swami how much trouble you have taken for me”. Swami replied, “Not trouble, but love!” Sri Srinivasan then said that what Kuchela experienced in Dwapara Yuga we are experiencing today. Swami replied that the experience is the same, only the time is different.

Sri B.N. Narasimhamurthy
 

In conclusion, Sri Narasimhamurthy said, “Look behind and be grateful to God; look ahead and have trust in God; Look around and serve God; Look within and see God”.

JUNE 8th: SWAMI RETURNS TO PUTTAPARTHI

On June 8th, Swami returned to Puttaparthi around 1:45 PM . For a few days prior, He had been indicating to the students in Brindavan that He has to return to Parthi as He had to oversee a lot of work. Parthi after all is His office!

The news of Swami’s departure from Brindavan is immediately conveyed to Parthi, and within a matter of minutes the whole village comes alive. The roads leading into the village are washed by the women by pouring pots of water to wash away the dirt and make the black-top look clean and fresh. The women then decorate the cleaned roads with rangoli or floral patterns drawn using coloured chalk and letters in either Telugu or English welcoming Swami ‘home’. The men get busy making and tying buntings made of mango leaves across the road, a tradition in South India to welcome any eminent personality. And all of them after a bath assemble on the roads, occupying vantage positions, craning their necks so as not to miss even the slightest vision of the Lord as He returns home after His summer sojourn in Brindavan.

 
The villagers put rangoli on the roads
The villagers welcome Swami.

The Ashram is equally busy. Rangolis are drawn across the main entrance. Sai Kulwant Hall also wears a festive look as all the Ashram inmates and the students gather to welcome Him in a fitting manner.

When Swami’s car enters the main road of town, palpable excitement manifests - for the soul of Puttaparthi is now back in residence. The bystanders vie with each other to catch the briefest of glimpses as His car zooms past. Some of the villagers also break coconuts in front of the car as a sign of auspiciousness. Slowly the car vends its way through the town and reaches the Ashram gates where a big crowd of devotees and students have assembled. As the car enters the Main gates, the vedam chanting boys and some of the boys dressed in bright coloured costumes are there to welcome Him and as His car enters it is showered with a cascade of flower petals. His car is slowly escorted to the middle of Sai Kulwant Hall and the kind and compassionate Lord though tired from the road trip still decides to sit for a few minutes on the dais giving joy to all before returning to His residence in Yajur Mandiram.

 

Swamis car enters the Ashram
 
Giving His darshan after His return

JUNE 18th: FELICITATION OF PROFESSORS

 

 

After returning from Brindavan, there was a little lull as far as public activities go. But suddenly on the 17th of June the entire Sai Kulwant Hall was in the process of getting decorated. Bright red-coloured embroidered cloth had been hung on the balcony and small pearl-like beads were strung along the entire veranda leaving everyone to wonder that perhaps a celebration was in the offing.

And no-one was disappointed, for on the morrow a special ceremony had been arranged to felicitate a few eminent and long-serving teachers of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (SSSIHL) at Swami’s behest.

Though the function was announced for 9 A.M., Swami in His eagerness to felicitate His devotees who had served Him well came into Sai Kulwant Hall at 8 A.M. itself, amidst chanting of Vedic hymns by the Institute and High School students and to the tunes of Nadaswaram by the Music College boys. Soon, Bhagavan was seated and alongside Him were the four senior teachers along with their spouses, the present Vice Chancellor Sri Anil V. Gokak and the former Vice Chancellor Sri S.V.Giri.

Then as per Bhagavan’s instructions, some students came on to the dais and garlanded the seated teachers and their spouses and the Vice-Chancellors; other students showered rose petals on them as a sign of welcome and the entire hall resounded with thunderous applause at watching this grand spectacle. Apple juice was also given to all in silver glasses before the start of the function.

 
   
The professors with Swami on the dais

The Vice Chancellor Sri Anil Gokak welcomed the gathering and introduced the four teachers who were to be felicitated by Bhagavan that morning. They were: Prof. U.S.Rao, Prof. V.E.Ramamoorthy, Prof. M. Nanjundaiah and Prof. Vishwanath Pandit.

 

After Sri Gokak’s talk, Bhagavan commanded the Institute Brass Band to play on this happy occasion. They responded with 5 songs including 2 bhajans. This was followed by some soulful group songs in Telugu by the students. At 8.40 A.M., as the songs were being sung, Bhagavan walked up to each of the teachers in turn, wrapped a silken shawl around them and presented them with a golden ‘Kankanam’ (bracelet) as a mark of appreciation for their unstinted service and dedication.

It was really moving to see the deep love in Bhagavan’s eyes as He gave away the gifts, and tears of joy and gratitude welling up in the eyes of the teachers as they received them from their Beloved Lord. Thereafter, each of the four teachers addressed the gathering.

The Institute band plays for the teachers
 

The first speaker was Prof. U.S.Rao, Principal of the Prashanti Nilayam Campus of the Institute and also the Dean of the School of Business Management, Accounting and Finance. Prof. Rao has had many years of experience in the industry having worked in reputed companies such as Jyothi Laboratories, Alfa Laval and Larsen & Toubro. He joined the Management Faculty in Bhagavan’s college in the year 1988. He has published several articles in national and international journals, and his zeal and energy for academic excellence has remained undiminished through all these years. He began his talk by expressing his gratitude to Bhagavan who blessed his wife and him with an extension of life 17 years ago.

He remarked, “I am also grateful to Bhagavan for making me a teacher in his great educational Institution which shapes and moulds His students into leaders of tomorrow to carry out His mission. I am also very fortunate to teach and interact with good-natured students selected by Him. Their enthusiasm, sincerity, idealism, faith and love for Bhagavan is contagious and spreads to all those who deal with them. Can there be a better atmosphere and nobler profession than that?” He also stated that the Annual Sports and Cultural Meet is an example of their love for Him and His love for them. He added, “The impact of the transformation in the students is that they slowly begin to rely on the power of the divine rather than on the power of the physical and the material world. This can be achieved only by the Divine”.

     
 

.

Prof. Rao receiving the golden bracelet
 
Prof. Rao expresses his gratitude

The second speaker, Prof. V. E. Ramamoorthy, is a qualified cost accountant and has taught in prestigious institutes like the Institute of Financial Management and Research (IFMR), and the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI), Hyderabad. He was the Director of Management Development Institute for South Asian region. He has authored several books on Working Capital Management.

Prof. Ramamoorthy said, “1993 is a memorable year for my wife and I for that was the year Swami brought us to His Lotus Feet. Having had our share of the ups and downs of life, we were praying for a retired life of reasonable health, peace and quiet. For the last 12 years we have had uninterrupted health, happiness and peace. This has been the golden phase of our lives for which we are very grateful to Him. What greater boon can there be than being able to serve in God’s own temple of higher learning which has a wide reputation as the crest jewel of the institutions of higher learning of any country. What greater boon can there be than to associate oneself with the students – God’s own chosen ones who are academically and spiritually alert and active. In the contemporary world the counterparts of the students shun devotion; but here when I listen to their whole hearted and full throated participation in the morning bhajans and when I witness the spiritual themes they present before Bhagavan and the innovations they bring in and their participation in cultural events like the Grama Seva, it is not only heart-warming but soul stirring”.

 
Prof. Ramamoorthy being honoured
 
Prof. Ramamoorthy expresses his feelings

The next speaker was Prof. M. Nanjundaiah, Controller of Examinations, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. Prof. Nanjundaiah came to Swami in the year 1973 when he joined as a Reader and the Head of the Commerce Department in the erstwhile Sri Sathya Sai College of Arts, Science and Commerce at Whitefield, affiliated to the Bangalore University. He said, “Sai has a very unique relationship with each and everyone. With me the relationship is that of a mother. When She personally told me that you should not go on changing your relationship with Me – choose one thing and stick to it. This was way back in 1974 and from then onwards it has been Mother Sai for me. It is difficult for me to convey the deep sense of feeling when way back in 1973, I asked Him for the opportunity to serve in His Institute. What I had in mind was to be an honorary part-time teacher coming from Bangalore and teaching in the Whitefield College. In 2 months from that day I became a Reader in Commerce and the Head of the Department and then commenced the most wonderful period of my life. Those days Swami used to spend a lot of time with the students in Brindavan. What greater joy than to see the incessant flow of love between Swami and His students!”

He further quoted an incident of how Swami transformed the behaviour of a boy by stopping to talk with him and also revealing His omnipresence. Such lessons, he said are innumerable and Swami always guides His students. In this context he gave the example of the involvement of Swami in the Bhajagovindam drama that became a big success. He also mentioned the immense help and guidance that Swami gave him, as a mother, when he made the transition from teaching to administration. He further mentioned the guidance that Swami gave him through letters specifically mentioning how Swami wrote to him telling him how he could be a good family man and a devotee.

 
Now it is Prof. Nanjundaiah's turn.
 
Prof. Nanjundaiah expressing his gratitude

The last speaker was Prof. Vishwanath Pandit, Head of the Department of Economics in the Prashanti Nilayam Campus of the Institute. Prof. Pandit is a renowned economist who has been on the faculty of the Delhi School of Economics. He has also been associated with Pennsylvania University, USA and Manchester University, UK, and also with various projects in the UN and the World Bank. He was the President of the Indian Economic Society and the recipient of the UGC (University Grants commission) Swami Pranavananda National Award 2004 for his contributions in the field of economics. With his characteristic humility he said, “The magnanimity of the most compassionate Lord is indeed limitless. It is here today for all to see. I have no doubt in my mind that having been permitted to serve Him at the SSSIHL and to stay close to His Divine Lotus Feet is much more than what I have ever deserved and much more than what I have ever asked for. The torrential grace that has been showered on us today is really overwhelming. There are no words for me to adequately express my gratitude to Bhagavan.

Sharing a couple of his thoughts, Sri Pandit said that though he joined the SSSIHL only in 2001, he was associated with it right from 1986 when he was asked to set the entrance test question paper for the new School of Management. He came a number of times over the years and spent his summers in Prashanti Nilayam helping out wherever he could, but it was only when the Master Programme in Economics was announced in 2001 that Swami deemed the time right for him to come to Prashanti Nilayam. He said that it was very fulfilling for him to interact with the students whom Swami referred to as His only treasure and the role models of tomorrow. He concluded by praying to Bhagavan to always let everyone remember and be aware of His Divinity and Grace.

 

Prof. Pandit is the receipient of Swami's grace
 
Trying to express his gratitude in words

Dr. Deepak Anand, an alumnus of the Institute and presently on the Management faculty spoke on behalf of all the students expressing appreciation and gratitude to the teachers for their invaluable guidance in shaping the careers and personalities of hundreds of students. Quoting verses from the Taittriya Upanishad he surmised that in this University the teachers and the students learn the lessons of life in the presence of Bhagavan in the spirit that living with God is true education. He led the entire gathering in applauding the achievements of these eminent educationists, in turn.

Swami then gave a short but sweet Divine discourse. He said,

The senior professors are imparting knowledge with love and affection and the students are making rapid progress in their respective fields. Students should cultivate virtues, develop noble character and earn a good name in society. This is what I expect from them.

On being questioned by his father, young Prahlada replied.

Father! The teachers have taught me many things, I have understood the four objectives of life – Dharma (righteousness), Artha (wealth), Kama (desire) and Moksha (liberation). I have studied many things; in fact, I have understood the very essence of education. (Telugu Poem)

Love is the essence of education. Bereft of love, your education will be of little use. However, secular education is also required to eke out a livelihood in this world. There are two types of education. One is secular and the other is spiritual. It is not possible to build a mansion without a strong foundation. Spiritual education is the foundation on which the mansion of secular education should be built. You need to develop Shakti (ability) and Yukti (strategy) in order achieve success in the field of secular education.

 
The Divine Discourse

Students! You may acquire any type education but, you must give topmost priority to character. The end of education is character. Bear this truth always in your mind. First of all, establish order and harmony in your house. Only then will you have the right to teach others. Lead an ideal life so that others can derive inspiration from you. Cherish the noble teachings imparted by your professors, put them into practice and find fulfilment in your life.”

Swami then sat down and all of us were requested to rise for the National Anthem. After a few bhajans, Swami received arathi and retired to His Yajur Mandiram residence. All the students and staff had a sumptuous lunch in the South Indian canteen that had been so lovingly arranged by Swami.

 

JUNE 20th: ANNUAL DAY CELEBRATIONS OF DEENA JANO DHARANA PATHAKAMU

Four years ago, in the year 2002 on the occasion of Gurupoornima, Bhagavan opened the Sri Sathya Sai Deena Janodharana Pathakamu (DJP), a scheme under which residential units were constructed to house orphaned children or single mother with children belonging to the weaker sections of the society. About sixty children from various villages around Puttaparthi are now supported by this scheme.

The sum of Rs.100,000 has been deposited in the name of each child (which would be given to them along with the interest when they reach adult age); additionally free housing, food, clothing, education and other daily needs are being provided to them in a loving environment. The residential units are located in a colony named Sri Sathya Sai Nagar in the village of Kammavaripalli behind the western perimeter of the ashram. A school also has been built here where the children are provided formal education along with vocational training. This institution has now become a role model for many such institutions in Andhra Pradesh.

On the evening of 20th June 2006, the children of the home celebrated the fourth anniversary of their foundation day in the divine presence of Bhagavan. The students in their costumes and makeup were seated in the Bhajan Hall. Swami came for darshan at 3.30 pm, and directly came to the Bhajan Hall to see them. Swami asked about some of the costumed characters and spent a few light moments with them, and then instructed them to go and get ready to start the programme. Bhagavan took His place on the dais at 3.55 p.m and was ceremoniously welcomed by 2 actors from the drama

 

With the boys in the bhajan hall
 
The boys welcome Swami

The programme began with an invocation by the DJP students who chanted the ‘Narayana Suktam’. At the outset, a boy from the Institution described in English the love and care of Sai and expressed his gratitude to Bhagavan for providing them food, clothing and a safe haven to live in. “We can only offer ourselves and pray for His grace”, he said. The boy informed the audience that 9 boys had passed the 10th class and some others had done so well that after finishing the intermediate they had joined B.Sc. in Information Technology to pursue their further studies.

After the speech came the thematic skit which was interwoven with songs and dances, Bhagavan's teaching that technology and all resources must be used for social welfare, was the central theme that was conveyed by the boys through the 3 episodes with 2 boys as narrators providing a commentary. The sets included a giant TV set and a homa kunda, both of which were innovatively and realistically rendered apart from a back-drop that conveyed Swami’s love for the boys and their love for Him.

 
Vedam chanting
 
A boy thanks Swami on everyone's behalf

The opening scene depicts Adi Sankara eulogizing Lord Siva. The narrators in their commentary set the tone by deploring that in this holy land that has given birth to such great men of wisdom like Adi Shankara, society has today fallen to the lures of the materialism and ignored its past glorious heritage. This was followed by a dance that was well rendered by the boys who had obviously practiced hard to get the steps right and please the Lord.

The next scene portrays a few priests performing a Yagna (offering of oblations in the sacrificial fire) when the great emperor Alexander on his conquering expedition happens on the scene. He is angry at the priests for they ignore him and are unimpressed by his glory. Alexander converses with the priests and questions them if they have not heard about his conquests of vast parts of the world. The priests reply that they are not interested in such useless information when they have embarked on the grand adventure of realizing God. Alexander is impressed by their self confidence and simplicity and asks them to reveal the secret of their contentment. The priests reply that true happiness can be gained only by conquering one’s desires and not by conquest of empires.

 
Adi Shankara represents India's glorious past.
 
Alexander is angry at the priests

Then the boys portray a typical urban household in India. The family elder who prides in the richness of Indian culture is shocked at seeing his grandson’s flippant attitude towards the values and ethos of this great land. He teaches his grandson that the wonders of modern technology that he was so much in awe of were already known to the sages of ancient India. He cites examples such as the ancient Indian treatise on air travel as well as missiles and warheads, Vaimanika Sastra, and various surgical procedures detailed in the Charaka Samhita. He explains to the boy that it is not technology that is evil, but it is the harmful ways in which it is being applied. The play brought out the numerous ways that technology, especially Information Technology, can benefit society. It is only spirituality that can lend completeness to science was the message of the skit.

 

Depicting the influence of TV
 
A thanksgiving song.

The presentation concluded with a moving song that expressed the gratitude the boys felt towards Swami for the sea change that Swami had brought about in their lives and Who cared for them as only a loving mother can. At the end of the programme, Bhagavan lovingly granted photographs to the boys. Swami lingered on for a while blessing the boys profusely while prasadam distribution (of a mango) was going on. Clearly He was very touched at this programme the boys had put up and all of us were also impressed to see the difference that love can make in a person’s life and put them well on the God ward path.

 
The group photo
Additional Blessings

We will stop this month’s chronicles here. In the early part of July Prashanti Nilayam will again be pleasantly invaded by youth; this time it will be teenagers from the States of Maharashtra and Goa jubilantly celebrating the festival of Ashada Ekadashi in the divine Presence. And of course, four days after that will be the Guru Poornima festival. Join us again next month to read about all these exciting events along with their colourful pictures.

So till next time. Jai Sai Ram.

- Heart2Heart Team.

 
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Vol 4 Issue 07 - JULY 2006
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