Volume 6 - Issue 04
APRIL - 2008
Inauguration of the Exhibition
The Exhibition was inaugurated by Mrs. Jayaben Thakkar, Honourable Member of Parliament, from Baroda on the morning of January 3, 2008 at 9.30 am. Mr. Manohar Trikannad, State President, Gujarat and Mr. Kanubhai K Patel, State Trust Convenor, welcomed the dignitaries and the Chief Guest. The inauguration ceremony commenced with Mrs. Thakkar cutting the ribbon to enter the Exhibition area. The Balvikas children of Baroda and the Sai Youth recited the Vedas and accompanied the Chief Guest inside the shrine area of the Exhibition. Thereafter, the auspicious lamp was lit by her and other dignitaries signifying the opening of the Exhibition.
Mrs. Thakkar spent two full hours going round the entire Exhibition which was housed under a massive marquee, covering an area of 13,000 sq. ft. She was very impressed and palpably moved to learn so many details of Bhagavan's Life, Message, and humanitarian projects. This is what she had to say:
"Everyone is in search of Love and Peace. This can be found only through Selfless Love. Bhagavan Baba has not only provided the path for Selfless Love, but has also actually walked this Path and shown everyone how it can be done. When we integrate all our efforts of body, mind and money in these acts of Selfless Seva and Love, all our impurities disappear. Bhagavan Baba has explained what is each human being's Swadharma i.e. one’s own righteous path by teaching and practicing the same in his own way. Bhagavan has taught us the language of Love, and if one carries out social work and welfare with this Love, this society, country and the world will be immensely benefited. Baba has done this by not just preaching, but also by including all His devotees in these great projects where people's basic needs of education, drinking water and healthcare are taken care of. What Bhagavan has done cannot be done by any Government or Institution."
One of the other distinguished guests, His Holiness Goswami Shri Vagishkumar Shri, Kankroli (Baroda), of the Vaishnav sect, from the Bethak Mandir, Baroda was equally impressed by the Exhibition. After going round the entire Exhibition, he said:
"I have experienced both the key elements i.e. the ‘Prema’ and the ‘Jyothi’ at the Exhibition. I am very much amazed at the various incidents in Bhagavan's Life and am very much convinced that Sri Sathya Sai Baba is truly an Avatar as proclaimed by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. This is not just an Exhibition for one's eyes to see, but it is the opening of one’s consciousness to the spiritual world. ‘Love’ is the only solution to today's problems. The incidents of Lingodhbhavam and other miracles only show that He is God."
Similar sentiments experienced by thousands of other men and women were apparent to the Seva dals who were stationed all over the marquee to inform and guide visitors who poured into the Exhibition over the next eleven days. With Bhagavan's Grace, an average of over 3,000 people came per day, bringing the grand total to an amazing 33,873!
Everyone was greatly inspired and touched viewing the panels depicting Bhagavan at myriad Darshan locations, along with His spellbinding social welfare projects. Several visitors yearned for more information such as: whether Bhagavan will come to Baroda ? How to travel to Puttaparthi? How to find treatment at the Super Specialty Hospitals? How to participate in Sai activities? And so on.
Feedback counters were placed at the end of the Exhibition for all visitors to record their views, some of which we carry in this article. There was also a bookstall providing Sai literature at the exit point of the Exhibition, where they were also presented with Prasadam.
Shri Vora, the Deputy Municipal Commissioner of Baroda City, who had limited time and had planned for only 10 minutes to view the Exhibition, finally spent close to an hour going through all the panels. Additionally, he promised all possible assistance from the local authorities for all future projects to be carried out by the Sai Organization in Baroda. Before he left, he said:
"I have known about Sathya Sai Baba for many years and I wish to have His Darshan. I am delighted to see this Exhibition, specially the healthcare projects, water projects and Grama Seva. Grama Seva is Prabhu Seva (service to villagers is service to God).”
Another dignitary, the well known spiritual guru of Baroda, Sri Pinakin Guruji, spent nearly two hours and then said:
"The Exhibition is a small sample of the Lord's Creation. The Creator is interested in maintaining His Creation, and how this is being done has been expressed in these panels. The Exhibition is the reflection of the great work done by God Himself."
Dr. R. P. Patel, an ardent and senior devotee of Bhagavan Baba, reminisced about those wonderful olden days of the sixties when the crowds were less and devotees were witness to many wonderful Manifestations of His Power and Glory. He was very impressed by the Exhibition.
Sathya Sai School Children visit the Exhibition
The school children of the Shri Sathya Sai Vidya Niketan, Navsari and the Shri Sathya Sai Vidya Mandir, Ahmedabad came to Baroda on the third day of the Exhibition. The children were enthusiastic and eager to know about Bhagavan and His Work. They formed small groups and went through the entire presentation in a disciplined manner, asking questions to the Seva dals about Swami and His Mission.
The many elderly visitors were able to enjoy Prema Jyothi to the fullest extent as wheelchairs had been arranged with Sevadal escorts to explain the panels.
Dignitaries Bedazzled by His Love
The fourth day of the Exhibition was a Sunday, and several dignitaries visited the Exhibition. This included politicians, eminent doctors and government officers. Amongst these was Shri Shabdasharan Brahmbatt, ex-mayor, Baroda. He remarked: "It is an unbelievable experience! The work done by the Organization led by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, is possible only by the Divine Grace and Strength. This work is indeed worth emulating. This is the need for the society today and these modern times. Baba's work, fully integrated, with spirituality, is indeed worth studying and adopting the same everywhere else.”
Shri Ramesh C. Prajapati, an eminent engineer, past Lions District Governor and local politician said, "It is amazing! Only God can think of such beautiful Seva."
Shri Nilesh Bhavsar, member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, was eloquent about how Bhagavan Baba will bring India back as the future spiritual Guru of the World. He said:
"Our country is the Guru of the entire world. If we see today's politics, we would have several worries about the future of the country. However, after having the Darshan of Baba and an Exhibition of His works, I am convinced that it is only because of these Divine and Holy people that our country will again rise to the position of the Spiritual Guru for the entire world."
Shri V. S. Dole, DGM, Union Bank of India, Baroda said, "It was an excellent experience. It touched the heart and is a good lesson to everyone. There cannot be an Exhibition better than this for informing all about the activities of Baba.”
There were many school children who were fortunate to come in buses from long distances, such as from Anand Balwadi School, Gotri. The students were totally engrossed in the Exhibition. They listened to every word spoken and explained by the Sevadal, as they took down copious notes.
Mr. Jalendu Dave, an eminent personality in the field of music and art in Gujarat, could not control his emotions after seeing the exhibition and said:
"This Exhibition conveys the message of Sathyam, Shivam and Sundaram. It also conveys the message that one must speak less, do more, love others, adhere to Righteousness and speak the Truth.”
Nandaben Joshi, Corporator, Municipal Corporation, Baroda was equally impressed with the Exhibition. She said, "The Exhibition of Sri Sathya Sai Baba really touched the heart. I have decided to go to Puttaparthi. I feel that I have already got His Darshan here itself."
The flow of visitors continued throughout during all days of the Exhibition. On the eighth day, among the guests was Mr. Upendrasingh Gohil, the local Member of Legislative Assembly, Baroda, who said:
"This is a manifestation of Satyam, Shivam and Sundaram. I pray to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba to protect all religions. The Exhibition has shown that it is only Truth that gives the power to serve the masses."
In a city like Baroda where on any occasion, not more than a few thousand people gather for any Sai function, to see more than 23,000 visitors by the end of the eighth day itself was a miracle. The sevadals had only one prayer on their lips: “Swami, let more and more people come and benefit from this golden opportunity and experience Divine Bliss.’
Spreading the Good Word
One vital aspect of the preparations was to let the general public know about Prema Jyothi in as many ways as possible. Twenty large hoardings were displayed at main cross roads of Baroda city, with details about the venue, dates and timings.
A Press Conference was organized on 1 st January 2008 afternoon, informing the media about the Exhibition. Forty journalists and TV channel representatives attended and were also able to see a 10 minutes slide show on the various panels on display. The local TV channels of the city carried a live interview on Prema Jyothi.
To ensure sustained media coverage during the Exhibition, a team of dedicated Seva dals prepared press notes every alternate day for the editors of the local dailies, and almost all newspapers carried news items during that period.
In addition, as an innovative idea, 12 cycle rickshaws were hired to inform the public and they covered 12 different areas of the city throughout the day, over a 10 day period. Over and above, more than 2000 colour posters were printed containing the Exhibition details. These were pasted in all Sai vehicles / Sevadal cars, temples, public places, school notice boards etc. Cardboard posters were also printed and displayed at all major temples of the city and nearby villages. In addition, 25,000 pamphlets containing details about the Exhibition with the Prema Jyothi logo, Sarva Dharma and Values symbol of the Organization were printed and distributed in the city.
A Blood Donation Camp was also organized on one day, from 4.00 pm to 8.00 pm which attracted an overwhelming response - soon there were more donors than could be accommodated. 110 blood bags were collected at the camp from the general public.
Arrangements for Special Visitors from the Villages
Visitors also came to the Exhibition from the nearby villages where Sai activities take place. As reported earlier, an awareness programme of the Exhibition was carried out a week before in all the villages so that they do not miss out this opportunity to see their Sai’s Glory.They were asked to let the organizers know when they could come to the Exhibition in groups. If possible, the Organization also arranged for vehicles to go to the villages and bring them to the spot of the Exhibition. Since travel time for the villagers would be approximately 2-3 hours to and fro and a further 2 hours to see the Exhibition, arrangements were made to serve lunch for them as well.
An eminent guest, Dr. Niruben H. Patel (Deputy Mayor of Baroda ) told the organizers, "I am very happy to see this Exhibition. This really is a great opportunity for the people of Baroda city. I am very pleased to see through the photographs, the work Baba has done for poor people. The main inspiration of this Exhibition that one should draw is Bhagavan's message of Love all, Serve All."
Radio Sai Captures Visitors Attention
In particular, several visitors, especially young people, took keen interest in "Radio Sai" and "Heart 2 Heart" e-journal displays. Many of them left their email address, so that they could also be included in the free subscription service of the “Sai Inspires” daily emails.
Shri N. R. Parikh, an advisor to the local Sai Trust, was so overwhelmed that he said it was impossible to describe his impression in words.
More Fascinating Feedback
On the ninth day, several distinguished guests visited the Exhibition. This included Mr. Ashok M. Patel who said, "The exhibition provided us an insight into the remarkable and significant services of Baba towards humanity. We realize through the pictures and His message that love is a cure for all problems. Baba's inclination towards educating the youth of our country to empower India with love will enable them to become better human beings."
Shri Raj Panchal, a Journalist from the Loksatta newspaper, expressed his views as follows: "Splendid experience which cannot be expressed in words".
Shri Nandkishore Shah, an eminent advocate, said, "Watching the Exhibition was the happiest experience and gave me splendid joy, something that has never come to me before."
Shri Hemant B. Brahmbhatt, eminent Chartered Accountant, penned his views as follows: "Very systematically organized orientation and exposition to the Life, the Works and Message of Baba. This is a live Manifestation of His Grace.”
Sincere and Silent Sai Workers
A dedicated Sevadal team from Baroda worked tirelessly at the Exhibition Centre to assist in the food preparation and distribution. This Sevadal team rendered yeoman service serving behind the scene. Most of them gave their full time across the 11 days for this purpose.
There was also a big group who explained the panels with unparalleled dedication for all the days giving quality time and taking leave from their offices for such a long duration. Many said that they experienced Swami’s Presence and that is what propelled them to serve with additional vigour everyday.
Youth Seva Dal from the Sai villages of Oslam, Rayan Talavadi, Amlipura, Rajupura and Shuklipura too contributed in a major way taking up specific responsibilities for (a) food collection and distribution (b) providing night security teams (c) carrying outdoor jobs (d) carrying out heavy duty physical work such as unloading of all the panels when the same came from Delhi and thereafter helping in the dismantling of the Exhibition and loading the same for sending the same to Mumbai, the next city where Prema Jyothi was staged.
The End of the Exhibition - Maha Arathi
As the end of the Exhibition approached, preparations were made for the Maha Arathi to be performed to conclude the 11 day function. Key members from the Organizing Committee and the State Office Bearers performed the main Aarthi. Alongside them, 108 Sevadal, who had participated in the Exhibition for 11 days, performed Aarthi with small lamps. Thus, a Maha Aarthi was performed, with more than 125 members participating in the same, which was truly a grand sight. The Aarthi was sung by all in one voice, and when it ended with Om Shanthi being repeated three times, one could distinctly feel the Divine Presence.
Overwhelming Gratitude and Earnest Prayer
Thus, the curtains came down on yet another saga of Prema Jyothi. In all, 4,088 visitors saw the Exhibition on the last day, taking the total visitors to 33,873 for the entire Exhibition. For most of the devotees, it was a monumental event. For many, it was like the precursor to many larger events to come to Baroda, and one could only marvel at the Divine Will in all of these events. Baroda devotees and the Sai Active workers paid their humble respects to Bhagavan for giving them this wonderful opportunity in participating in His Mission in Baroda and giving them the courage and the strength to conduct the Exhibition.
The Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organization, Gujarat and the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Samithi, Baroda expressed their deep sense of gratitude to the Lord for granting the permission to conduct the Exhibition at Baroda, as for most devotees, visitors and Sevadal who worked for the Exhibition, it was as if they were having Bhagavan’s inner Darshan and experiencing His Presence in every panel! For many visitors, the first question when they came to the Exhibition was if Bhagavan had come to Baroda!
We are extremely grateful to Mr. P Hariharan, an alumnus of Sri Sathya Sai University, for painstakingly documenting the Exhibition through audio, video as well as detailed reports.
- Heart2Heart Team
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Vol 6 Issue 04 - APRIL 2008
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