It was one of the best times to be in Prasanthi Nilayam. The supreme abode of peace was so suffused with powerful spiritual vibrations – the mornings were filled with elevating echoes of vedic chants, the afternoons with illuminating talks of distinguished scholars and in the evenings the chock-a-block Sai Kulwant Hall feasted on soulful devotional music.
And this was not all. The compassionate Lord wanted to confer more and made the occasion most memorable when He rose to speak on almost every evening. There was nothing more you could ask for! When the devotees heard “Premaswarupalara!” from His divine lips on the very first day of the Yagnam, they burst into a resounding applause. You could see tears streaming down many cheeks. Swami was speaking for the first time in public since His return to Prasanthi Nilayam in the month of June.
The 11-day Athi Rudra Maha Yagnam, just like its name suggests, was an occasion of superlative importance. Significant in every which way you look at it - be it from an individual, societal, universal or historic perspective. From an individual point of view, it was perhaps the most potent “self-purifying” spiritual exercise, as a neurologist from USA said, “It was an unforgettable experience which stunned and exhilarated my soul.” “When I contemplate back on the Athi Rudra Maha Yagnam, words like priceless, heavenly, revitalizing and auspicious come to mind,” said a youth from Canada. Yes, it touched something very deep in every soul who had the privilege to witness the grand spectacle. How did it transform them? How lasting was the experience? How were they benefited? You will find people from different corners of the globe sharing their profound experiences with you in the cover story of this issue.
“The Yagnam”, Swami said on the very first day, “is great, most sacred and highly efficacious… It is for the benefit of whole humanity.” One can understand how the invention of a life saving drug or discovery of a rare fuel which is abundant and absolutely non-polluting can benefit humanity. But can a sacrifice performed in one corner of the world confer elusive world peace? Is it logical? Is it not all imagination? Can this be proved? These questions trouble the modern rational mind. When you read our cover story and the supplementary article “The Profound Significance Of The Powerful Sacrifice”, it is surely going to make you think like you never did before.
The Athi Rudra Maha Yagnam was not only about Vedic chants. There were also many rituals and ceremonies associated with it. It was indeed very elaborate. There was the abhisekham of the Shiva lingam (worship through pouring various sacred items), the performance of the Rudra Homam (offering oblations at the fire altar), the Rudraparayana, Aruna Parayana, etc. - all done strictly according to Vedic injunctions. It was indeed, a great spiritual symphony of prayer and peace. For all those who were present it was an opportunity of a lifetime, as the chief priest himself remarked on the very first day, “Even the gods in the heavens would feel jealous of us.” For those who could not be here in Prasanthi Nilayam, we bring detailed accounts of every ritual and every ceremony amply illustrated with lots of pictures in the Prasanthi Diary of this issue.
Though all these rites and rituals are moving and beautiful, times have changed dramatically, someone would say. One might ask: is it not a regressive step revisiting ancient rituals and traditions in the modern era? How relevant is it? And moreover, are the Vedas not associated only with the Hindus? The answer is an emphatic 'no'. When you read our feature “The Mantras of Mantrapushpam – Mutli-faith and Multi-dimensional” you will know how the teachings of the Vedas so tellingly relate to every modern religion. “The Vedas are the gift of God for the welfare of the entire humanity,” Swami said during the Yagnam. “The secret of the entire creation is contained in the Vedas. The Vedas make no distinction whatsoever on the basis of religion, caste, nationality, etc.” You will see how the Vedic concepts defy time, space and words - let alone modern religion, beliefs, philosophy, etc. when you read our illuminating feature on the significance of the Vedas in the same section.
One of the unique aspects of the Yagnam in Prasanthi Nilayam which impressed Swami immensely was the initiative taken by the Sai Youth of Karnataka to organize the whole event. “It was a superb example of organization management of highest perfection” to quote Prof. Ramaswamy, a founder director of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. The Sai Youth, with His divine blessings, are making a difference all over the world. You will be glad to know that Her Majesty the Queen of England and the Duke of Edinburgh very recently invited the Sai Youth Leader of UK to Buckingham Palace and conferred a special recognition certificate for their dedicated service. Back in India, the story of how the Sai Youth have literally transformed the Hospital For Mental Care in the city of Vishakapatnam into a “House of Love and Care” is extremely heart-warming. It is a testimony to the power of selfless love.
“Love! Love! Cultivate love! That would be enough,” Swami said on the fifth day of Yagnam, “It should be steadily fixed on God.” In fact, that was essence of all the Vedic chants during the 11 days. After the chant of every Rudram, the priests would pray “Achanchala bhakthi praptirastu” meaning, “Oh Lord! Bestow us with unruffled love for God”. So that is the bottom-line of every spiritual exercise, however mighty or minuscule it may be. If we have developed unconditional love for Him and for all His creation, we have reached our goal. World peace would no longer be a utopia.
Let all beings everywhere be happy!
In Sai Service,