Chronicles of Heaven on Earth
1 January, 2008 – New Year Day Celebrations
The New Year 2008 began on a beautiful note in Prasanthi Nilayam. In the last few years, the New Year Day programme has been given by Bhagavan to the former students of His University. It is such a wonderful opportunity for all the students that the Lord wishes to begin His New Year with them. What more can be said of Swami's love for the students! As He Himself has said so many times, "Students are my only property." It is not that the Sai students are very special and therefore receive so much love from Swami. In fact, it is because they receive His Love in such abundance that they are a class apart. Like the thousands of zeroes that have no value if the "1" is removed, Swami gives all the value in their lives and they know that. So they take up the first day of the year to express their profound sense of gratitude to Him who means everything to them.
All the students were seated in the marble blocks in front of the stage. Swami came to Sai Kulwant Hall in His chair at 8.45 am in a procession led by the Students chanting Vedam, with traditional fans and an umbrella as paraphernalia to adorn and worship the Lord.
There was a surge of joy throughout the hall and seeing Swami in His beautiful form on the first day of the year was such a blessing. Swami went around the hall in the chair granting his Darshan to the adoring thousands seated there. In the veranda were beautiful, multi-coloured cakes. Swami went first up to them and after lighting the candles on them, gently sliced each one to the delight of everyone around.
After Swami came onstage, the Vedam continued for a few minutes. Swami then signaled the University Brass Band to play a few pieces. The brass band began with a bang - a grand way to welcome the year. The synchronisation, harmony and power were so scintillating. Notable among the pieces played were “La Bamba” and the famous "Love Story" piece. After three pieces, Swami asked whether it was complete. The band leader then requested Swami if they could play one more and Swami consented with a smile.
After that Swami beckoned Prof. G. Venkataraman to speak. He welcomed the alumni and described them as the hope for a troubled world. And then went on emphatically state that Swami's message was the only solution for all the worries that plague the modern world. Sri A. V. Gokak, the current Vice-Chancellor was the next to speak. His talk centered on the transformational work done by the Sai Students.
After this, Swami threw up a most wonderful surprise! He called one of the students who had formerly been a band leader and said, "Ay, band leader. Will you speak?"
The boy was delighted at the opportunity. He came up straight and began extempore. He said whenever Swami calls anyone to speak, one need not be nervous for two reasons:
1) It is like opening one's heart to Swami.
2) Though one has to face the entire world while doing so, Swami is always on one's side.
He then went on to recollect a few of his sweet experiences while he was a student and ended on a note oozing with gratitude for Swami. The loving Lord then materialized a gold chain for him. As Swami slowly put it around his neck, the boy got the great blessing of almost resting his head on his divine mother's lap.
After the speeches concluded at 10.10, Bhagavan asked the students to commence their music programme. As the songs began, Swami beckoned the alumni holding up cakes right in front of Him.
The cakes were all massive in size. Swami lovingly lit the candle atop each cake and then cut them too. In the process, a little icing got on to His palms and hands. The 'icing' must have been thrilled to stay on something that was sweeter than itself! Swami, again with a smile, took His kerchief and wiped away the icing.
After a few songs, the alumni presented a song taught to them by Swami for Ugadi in 1985. At that time Swami was browsing through a book that the alumni had released on the occasion. The song progressed and Swami looked up at the students singing. His eyes made a quick scan of everyone seated. One does not know whether the Lord too, like humans, feels nostalgic. But it sure seemed like Swami was remembering the time when He had actually taught the song to them. As that song concluded, it was already nearing eleven o'clock. Bhagavan said that He would see the other part of the programme in the evening and next blessed the prasadam to be distributed to all. He then accepted Arati and returned to His residence.
In the afternoon, Bhagavan arrived in His car at 4.45 pm. On coming to the stage after a round of the Hall, He noticed the bright coloured Bhangra dance group of the Sai Students. He called them and permitted them to start their programme. The dance group was actually not part of the original plan of New Year Day celebrations. But the alumni had picked up a few very basic steps in two days and put it up. This once again highlighted the motherly Love that Swami feels for His students. Truly, just like a mother who sits appreciating her child mumbling some nursery rhymes, Swami sat watching as the dancers tried to get some semblance of coordination! To top it all, at the end of their 'performance', Swami asked, "Is it over already?" There was loud laughter everywhere and Swami lovingly blessed the 'dancers' and even spoke to many of them.
The Orchestra prepared by the alumni was the next item, performing from the centre of the Hall with loudspeakers facing Bhagavan who was seated onstage. The most memorable piece they played was the one from the famous album, "Vishwa Vinayaka". After the band, the alumni seated began to speak. Short speeches followed, recollecting the golden years the students had spent with their Lord.
There were recollections of the special things that Swami had done for each student and continues to do so daily in their lives. All of a sudden, Swami asked for the programme to be stopped. Swami then asked for the microphone and prepared to get up to speak. Immediately everyone realized the magnitude of His magnanimity in deciding to speak to them spontaneously of His own volition. Listening to the pleas of the students, He decided to remain seated and spoke for an hour.
The sun appears serene and peaceful. The days have become shorter, and the cool wind is blowing. The fields are ripe with golden crops. Marigold flowers are blossoming like garlands of pearls on the banks of rivers. The farmers are rejoicing and singing. The sweet festival of Sankranti comes in the month of Pushya (a month in Indian calendar), filling our homes with the newly harvested grain. (Telugu Poem)
Man needs several objects in this world; yet, none of them is permanent. All are like passing clouds. What you think permanent in this world is, in fact, impermanent. Hence, one has to strive to achieve that which is permanent, real and eternal.
The Bhagavad Gita declares, "Mamaivamso Jivaloke Jivabhuta Sanathana" (the eternal Atma in all beings is a part of My Being). I am in you, with you, around you, above you, below you. There is no place in this Universe where God is not present. Similarly, there is no name or object that does not belong to Him. The Upanishads proclaim the same truth in the declarations, "Easwara Sarva Bhutanam"(God is the Indweller of all beings) and "Isavasyam Idam Sarvam" (the entire universe is permeated by God). Unable to realise this truth, a human being laments, "Wherever I see, I find only human beings; I am not able to find God". "Yad Bhavam Tad Bhavathi" (as the feelings, so are the results). Suppose you wear a particular dress and stand before a mirror, you will find the same reflection in the mirror. Similarly, your own thoughts and feelings reflect in the outside world. Everything is reaction, reflection, and resound. Your own life style is reflected in the outside world. Whatever you speak comes back to you as a reply. But people think that it is someone else who is speaking these words. This is the truth. However, different people explain this truth in different ways in keeping with the aphorism, "Ekam Sath Viprah Bahudha Vadanti" (truth is one, but the wise refer to it by various names). Every form you see in the outside world is in fact your own reflection.
Several thousand people are gathered in this hall. But there is only one heart in all of them — that is, the spiritual heart. I am not referring to the physical heart. Unfortunately, people are unable to repose their faith in this spiritual heart, in spite of their best education. You are all educated, well educated.
In spite of education and intelligence, a foolish person will not know their true Self and a mean-minded person will not give up their evil qualities. (Telugu Poem)
(Addressing the old students) when do you propose to leave for your places? Wherever you go, Swami's grace is with you in abundance. I will distribute prasadam to you all tomorrow. May you all return to your places with joyous memories of this divine congregation.
Swami then received Aarthi and retired for the day.
4 January 2008 – Maharashtra and Goa Youth Present Music and Dance Programmes
The schedule of youth arrival in the new year began with youth from Mumbai - the "stomach" of India as Swami had once alluded to it and youth from Goa. The whole of Kulwant Hall seemed to wear orange scarves. Swami had consented for a three day programme schedule that they had come prepared with. These days, the way Swami smilingly consents to every devotee's requests for programmes, one is reminded of Swami's statement, "Saiki sarvam yes, yes, yes.(For Swami everything is yes, yes, yes.)" No Avatar in the history of this universe would have seen more programmes than the current Sathya Sai. He seems to find new joy every moment, every programme. He knows only involvement and inclusion. Living every moment to its fullest or as some people call it, "realizing the power of Now" - one gets a feeling of what it is by just seeing Swami.
At about 4:30pm, Swami came out for darshan. He went all around and one could see the enthusiasm and joy that a mere glimpse of Him was conferring on all assembled. He alighted in the portico and went into the interview room. After a short while, He came and sat outside and asked for the programme to begin. Right in the beginning, as is the Puttaparthi "tradition'', many members of the youth came up to Swami and offered Him roses and cards and booklets.
There was first a procession that symbolically offered prostrations from the different districts of Maharashtra and Goa at His feet. Youth members holding up boards marched before Swami and bowed down to Him.
After the procession, the choir struck up the right chords. It was an offering of songs in choir style! The background tunes and music had been pre-recorded but the singing was live and lively too. They sang about 5-6 songs and Swami kept beat for most of them. The songs were in varied tunes and had different beats and tempos. The songs concluded and the next part of the programme was a small dance by tribals from one of the remotest corners of the state, where "even sunlight found it hard to reach" as the organisers claimed! With three drums providing both the rhythm and tune, the dancers began. They danced in circles and it was an energy filled 10 minute session. Swami blessed them as they lay prostrate at the end of their dance. The next was a special kind of "Aarthi" typical to temples in Goa. It began with a song in which all the participants got very energetically involved. Some played customary drums while others played custom-made drums. There were also cymbals and drums played with sticks.
Then as that concluded, the "choir" continued. That concluded and then Swami was requested whether "chain" bhajans could be sung. "Chain bhajans" is a style of singing wherein there is no gap between bhajans. The bhajans of similar tunes and beats are stiched almost seamlessly so that it appears like one long bhajan sung in glory of all the Gods. The transitions are so smooth and nice that it almost appears like the shades of the sky in a painting or in real life itself! The whole audience joined in this novel singing style and all were very happy and clapping. Swami too sat enjoying the session. After that concluded, Swami asked for Aarthi. Then He retired for the day.
5 January , 2008 – USA and Mumbai Youth Programme
Swami had permitted multiple programs on January 5. One was a group from USA, another was by the Ladies Wing of the youth group from Maharashtra and Goa and the third was by singers from Mumbai. He arrived at about 4:30 pm, completed a full darshan round and then sat on stage. The devotees from USA were the first to get the chance to perform. Their musical presentation on Unity of Faiths got underway in five minutes. They went through the songs representing all the major religions of the world.
After listening to them for twenty minutes, Bhagavan asked for the next programme to commence. The Ladies wing of the youth began a presentation on the life of Meerabai. The great saint’s story was narrated in dialogue form with no acting involved. But all throughout, there was a screen that was put up next to Swami to depict the various stages and incidents in the life of Meerabai. Swami sat for about half an hour and then told them to just sing the songs without the commentary in between as there were some more people wanting to put up a programme.
Swami never disappoints anyone. He is the most practical and yet whenever He tells someone to stop or cut short a part of their programme, the sweet manner in which He says itself brings a smile on the faces of everyone. And then, the lovable and sensitive Sai did something that thrilled all the girls. He first blessed Sri Raviraj Nasery who was to perform next. As He went back and taking position on the stage, He told the girls to quickly sing another song! How overjoyed were they! They sang one more and the volume now had gone up a few decibels. Sri Raviraj Nasery and party then presented a couple of devotional songs, which were very lively. Everyone was clapping in rhythm as Bhagavan accepted Arati at ten minutes past six and retired for the day.
11 January, 2008 – Annual Sports Meet of the Sri Sathya Sai Educational Institutions
Even the sun seemed to rise early with all vigour on January 11! Before 7 am, a beautiful golden hue enveloped Puttaparthi. The Vidyagiri stadium wore a festive look. People began filing into the venue for the 2008 Sports and Cultural Meet in thousands. The Sports Meet is a wonderful conglomeration of feelings, actions and thoughts. For the students, it is an opportunity to please their dear Swami and dedicate the day specially for Him. For the parents, it’s a time when their chests swell with pride watching their children's capabilities on display. For thousands of devotees, it’s an opportunity to witness another facet of the unique love-story between the Lord and students. For the thousands of villagers, living in and around Puttaparthi, it is the same as the Olympics are for the so-called "developed" world - a venue to make them gape in awe and wonder.
The stadium seemed painted in millions of colours as the galleries filled up much before Swami's arrival at 8:10 am. Swami too resembled the golden sun in His Golden Yellow Robe! A thrill of joy seemed to pulsate through the entire audience even with the mere sight of their "Bangaru" in the covertable car. The welcome song went on the air and the brass bands from the Anantapur and Prashanti Nilayam campuses struck the right chords. The zoom bikes thundered down the road powerfully heralding Bhagavan's arrival. The motorcycle escorts going wheel to wheel in front of the majestic horse escorts was a sight to see. An arch of flags was formed through which Swami's car passed and reached the dais.
Swami alighted and went onto the lift; and now, any little difference that existed between the rising golden sun and Swami was gone, as Swami slowly rose up much to the gleeful delight of all the assembled devotees. As Swami came on stage, He lit the lamp and thereby opening the Sports and Cultural Meet. Then He went and took His position in the centre of the stage (similar to always being in the centre of our hearts!).
The introductory offerings were made to Swami as the band struck up a lively marching beat and the parade began.
First it was the tiny tots from the Primary school right in the front.
They were followed by the marching squads from the Higher Secondary School and the three campuses of the Institute at Anantapur.
Then, Brindavan and Prashanti Nilayam. The closing was by a special Athletic squad.
The Sports Meet gains significance for one very special reason. A few days after the Sports Meet, on the 14th or 15th (depending on the calendar) is Sankranthi when the sun begins the Uttarayanam (the northward movement). This is a very auspicious day and the sun moving northwards is symbolic of the mind and heart of man moving towards God. The legendary Bheeshma, the grandsire from the epic Mahabharata, who had the boon to live as long as he wanted and could give up his body at will, too waited for the northward movement of the sun on a bed of arrows before giving up his body. He was assured mergence with the Lord. That is the powerful significance of the day. In ancient India, the period of a month or so before that day would be spent entirely in the contemplation of the Lord. However, in the current times, when it is so tough to keep the mind from wandering, Swami has, in all His Love and Wisdom, designed the Sports Meet. Every student of His participates in the Meet and for a month or so preceding the Sankranthi day thinks of only one thing - to make Him happy. Swami occupies the time, energies and thoughts of the students and everyone naturally benefits at the occurrence of the auspicious moment. It is little wonder that once one is at His lotus Feet, his/her spiritual welfare is completely taken care of.
After the march past was complete, if one allowed one's eyes to sweep across the ground, one would get swept off one's feet! It was such an awe inspiring and lovely sight to see all the squads arrayed in the ground. It literally brought to mind the simile of His armies set to conquer the world.
The oath was rendered where each child promised to his/her Beloved Lord that they would forever live with the spirit that He has taught. The flag was brought in the ceremonial march and Swami pressed the button that raised the University flag high on the flagpole. He, then, lit the torch with the flame which would adorn the stadium throughout the day. Releasing pigeons and balloons to mark the occasion, Swami participated in and added colour and festivity to the day. The flame was taken around the stadium and midway up the hill by the students who had distinguished themselves as sportsmen in their respective campuses. From there on, the torch vehicle, a flying unicorn this time, carried the flame to the top of the hill. There was applause as the flame burst forth on top of the hill. As a conclusion to the opening ceremonies, the brass bands from Anantapur and Prashanthi Nilayam played brisk marches as they moved in front of the dais saluting the Chancellor.
Then the campus presentations began. The first was by the Anantapur campus and representatives from that campus came up on stage to offer their salutations and gratitude to Swami. The Anantapur display began at 8.45 am with graceful group dancing followed by a Far-Eastern group item with parasols and hand-fans. A sports medley followed, presenting hockey, tennis and volleyball movements in formation. Motorbike stunts were the next item, including criss-crosses, various poses on bikes, a breath-taking ramp-jump over 20 girls and a human pyramid of 38 girls on 9 bikes.
The ramp jump seemed to touch Swami a lot and He made some observations about it to the people sitting beside Him. The bikes kept zooming across the ground with the riders and others in various poses and each of these stunts received applause from the audience - both onstage and off it. The Anantapur students concluded their half-hour presentation forming the words "We Love U" in a group formation as their theme song was played. They joined in the singing and signed off in devotion with Swami blessing them with the Abhayahasta.
The Brindavan students then began with an equestrian show-jumping demonstration. A marching band presentation brought up a display of rolling in steel hoops and an aerobics exhibition. A sort of timber-drill was the next item, with planks of wood being used in imaginative ways to aid acrobatic feats. The Celestial Rhythms then began with the spelling out of “We Love You" in a grid of students suspended by a crane 82 feet above the ground. The students made a number of formations and looked scintillating with the blue sky as the background. As the Brindavan presentation concluded, Bhagavan accepted Arati onstage and returned to the Mandir at 10 o'clock, while an announcement was made about the afternoon presentations. Swami graciously granted group photographs to the Band groups of Anantapur and Prasanthi Nilayam and also the motorcycle escorts before He went into Yajur Mandir. He was full of sweet smiles and seemed eager to grant all the photos!
In the afternoon, Bhagavan arrived at 3.25 pm in a maroon robe riding in His Mercedes sports convertible. On the Sports day, seeing the "sporty" Swami, one was reminded of Swami's saying, "Among men, I am a man, among women a woman, a child among children - alone I am God." In the sportsfield, He is the most sportive and a sportsman! As He reached the stage, tiny tots from the Primary School brought up bouquets to Him and began the afternoon's presentation.
The hour-long Primary School presentation was a joyful riot of colour as usual, beginning with a group dance by the young girls from the primary school, in colourful costumes. Followed by this came the boys dressed as ‘Bal Ganeshas’ which were interspersed with bears and tiny birds too. A classical mass-dance, hand-fans and flowers formations, gymnastics, mass flower-dance, dance by small girls with white wings, and Mexican poncho dance followed in quick succession. Children dressed as deer, tigers, bunnies and monkeys performed various gymnastic feats on mats, ropes and poles.
Their elder brothers and sisters may do motorbike stunts, but the bicycle stunts by the Primary School boys were just as eye-catching. Unicycle stunts were creative and even a basketball match was played on unicycles. It was really a fantastic feat as the children kept their balance and did not miss pouching even a single basket! Then a rainbow dance brought a grander splash of colours on field and led to their final dance which had balancing items on their heads and paying tribute to Bhagavan, the Light of Lights.
The students of the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School and the Prasanthi Nilayam campus of Sri Sathya Sai University began their hour-long performance at 4.30 pm with a striking mass item with classical dancers in the foreground and patterns made from colourful foldable discs forming a context for Krishna's beautiful Leelas - "Adharam Madhuram...". The item was aptly named, "The conscious dots" and resembled a giant screen where each pixel performed its role to perfection to present a beautiful picture on the whole. This concluded with a formation of a throbbing heart beating for their Lord.
Gymnasts on moving trucks then presented balancing feats with giant flags on equally gigantic poles - fifty feet high. Some of them balanced the poles on their elbows while others did it in their mouths! Gymnastic feats including jumps over vehicles and acrobatics on moving trucks led to a breathtaking display on ropes. The rope-acrobats, depicted a creative "free-fall" of sorts with the rope wound around them and the highlight of that item was a spectacular spin by a student on a rope suspended more than 20 feet above the ground with absolutely no safety link around him. He later came up on stage and presented a rose to Swami.
The rope structure was also used as a trapeze stage, as roller-bladers scintillated on the ground below, ending their dramatic show with a series of jumps over a van. A precision gun drill with amazing synchronization was followed by a karate display which featured breaking tiles and pots, and also mass nanchak and stick displays.
As the Prasanthi Nilayam campus came together for their final song, Bhagavan expressed how pleased He was at His students' performance and profusely blessed them before leaving for His residence. He also got it announced that the next day, the students of Parthi campus would be putting up a drama on the devotion of Hanuman at 5 pm in the Sai Kulwant Hall.
12 January, 2008 – The Drama “Veer Anjaneeyam” by Students of the Prasanthi Nilayam Campus
January 12 was a day of frantic and intense activity for all in the Prasanthi Nilayam campus of the Institute as Swami had advanced the drama by three days and everything had to be readied for the drama in the evening. From 12:00 pm itself the Mandir had become a hub of activity and the stage was being set. This time, as Swami had asked for the previous year, the stage was set facing the audience so that all would be able to view the drama. Swami's position was towards the end of the first marble block.
Swami came out at about 4:50 pm after making enquiries as to whether everything was in readiness for the drama to be enacted. He came on the chair and all were happy at this close darshan. The crowds were swelling and since the stage orientation had changed, the people on the gents side were so seated that Swami had little place to navigate for the darshan rounds too. Swami came straight to the place designated for Him. He did not seem to like the idea of Him sitting in the centre, away from everyone. He got His chair moved to where the other chairs had been placed towards the gents side of Sai Kulwant Hall. The stage and sets were in their barest state of readiness. But when Swami wants a programme, everything seems to come in alignment perfectly.
There is such a beautiful message in this for all. However the programme may be, Swami decides to be happy and He is happy. That is the secret He says quite often in His discourses. Choose to be happy and that’s what you will be. Instead we seem to be choosing to be unhappy and we blame everyone and everything around as the cause for it. It is no coincidence that we feel that once Swami decides to be happy with a programme, everything always goes on well. Swami says that this holds good with everyone of us too. If we sincerely decide that something is good and feel it that way, it turns out to be good.
Returning to the drama, the programme began formally as Hanuman, Rama, Lakshmana and Vibheeshana came forward and offered their salutations via roses to Swami.
The opening scene was a meeting between the celestial sage Narada and the celebrated saint, Tulsidas. Tulsidas is wondering as to whom he should choose to depict as the ideal devotee of the Lord as an example for the youth. Narada hints at Hanuman and Tulsi is excited and pleased at the idea. The narrative begins at the court of the monkey king Sugriva. He is holding a meeting to discuss the entry of two strangers. Hanuman volunteers to go to do the "espionage" work. In the guise of a brahmin, he approaches the strangers and then begins the beautiful conversation full of subtle hints and puns.
When he comes to know he is face to face with Rama, he falls at His feet in tears. This is the beginning of the immortal love and devotion of Hanuman to his Lord.
Rama entrusts the ring to be handed over to Sita to Hanuman. Hanuman lives up to the Lord's trust and also succeeds in sending a powerful warning to the demon Ravana of the impending doom. The verbal volleys between Ravana and Hanuman were beautifully captured in Telugu poems and they won Swami's and the crowd's appreciation. The drama moved into the most moving portion where Rama and Hanuman meet after the successful return of Hanuman from Lanka. It concluded with the coronation of Rama where Hanuman is gifted a pearl necklace by Sita. He breaks it and bites each pearl to see if it has the Rama Naama in it. When people in the court ask him as to how he could accept a body that does not have Rama's name, he just closes his eyes and every fibre of his body resounds with Rama's name.
Swami was absorbed seeing the drama. Especially whenever there was a loving exchange between Hanuman and Rama, Swami appeared very touched. Whenever we see the Lord showering His love and giving Himself completely to His devotee, tears well up. The same happens to the Lord to when He sees the devotee showering his love and giving himself completely to God. It was really an uplifting experience to watch the beautiful drama in Swami's presence.
As the drama concluded with a beautiful final song and all the boys came into the final formation, Swami said that He would walk up to them and gift them with photos. Before that, He asked as to who had scripted the drama. The script writer came out of the background. Swami materialized a gold chain for Him and put it around his neck. He blessed him and then got up to go for the photo session. There were the "pearls" that Hanuman had scattered all over the place. They were cleared as Swami walked up to the waiting group. Knowing His boys' expectations very well, Swami began to call out the boys in small groups of 5-6 and gifted them photos. He spoke to many of them and all were in smiles. He gifted the boy who had acted as Lakshmana in the royal court with a beautiful ring. The entire photo session itself lasted almost 15 minutes where Swami thrilled every mind with His presence and filled every heart with His love.
As prasadam was being distributed, Swami received Aarthi and blessing everyone, left in the chair itself.
13 January, 2008 – “Kabirdas” Drama by Brindavan Campus
After the grand drama by the Prasanthi Nilayam students the previous day, it was the turn of the Brindavan students to fulfill their role in the "Cultural" part of the Sports and Cultural Meet. Swami had agreed for the drama, "Kabirdas" to be presented in the Kulwant Hall. The stage settings had again been reversed from the previous day as the Brindavan campus had come prepared with very elaborate sets. Swami completed His darshan rounds and immediately came out and sat on the stage to witness the drama. The introductory roses and cards were offered and then the drama began as Swami halted the Veda chanting.
A mention must be made here of the sets and back drops that the Brindavan boys had made. This fine art seems to be evolving at a very rapid pace each year. The entire story of Kabirdas was portrayed almost through the grandeur and glory of the sets. The narrative of the Brindavan Kabirdas drama will not even be 50% complete without the story of the sets. There were three magnificent settings. The first was the Hindu temple setting. Two Gopurams adorned the stage and they had been intricately and beautifully carved. One housed the lingam. There were pictures of Ganesha and Krishna also that had been cut out from thermocole. The second major setting was a mosque setting. The same steps and buildings got transformed as a few lads came up and turned around a few sheets. The sets were not only aesthetic but had also been elegantly engineered. The third and the grandest one was a darbar setting of the badshah (king). The backdrop of the throne especially was fabulously painted in peacock blues and greens.
The saint Kabirdas, in his own lifetime during the 15th century AD, combined the best of Hindu, Islamic and Sufi wisdom and created for humanity a charming tapestry of spiritual gems in the form of the dohas (couplets). The drama began with the young Kabirdas desperately in search of a guru. He sings out that with time fleeting and death being the only certainty, who else but the Guru, could show the right path. Guru Ramaanand accepts him as a disciple in spite of protests from the other disciples that Kabir is a Muslim. Very soon, Kabir receives enlightenment and dedicates his life to the uplift of humanity. The dohas were all beautifully incorporated to bring out his message. "Chalti Chakki" in which he says, "Only the one who is centred on God will be saved from the twin stones of joy and sorrow which relentlessly crush all the grains except those that are in the centre". This was one powerful message.
Kabirdas underwent many trials and tribulations. Both the Hindus and Muslims wanted him alone to make a shawl for their respective Lords and attend the worship which happened to fall on the same day. Working overnight, Kabir falls asleep without his knowledge and then Lord Rama comes and completes the work for him! In this way the Lord ensured all were happy. Kabir goes and attends the Muslim festival. There was next a scene of the Islamic Zikr which had a vibrant song accompanied by vigorous and elevating dance. It conveyed the message that Allah is the only refuge for all as all problems are due to the improper identification of oneself as the ego and not the soul. The whole scene was so powerful that one could feel the spiritual vibes wherever one was seated. Next, Kabir also attends the Hindu festival in the Shiva temple. Once again, the scene matched the previous in the power and grandeur of the Lord. "Om Maha Praana Deepam" was sung as many Shivas sprang forth and did the Tandava dance.
Finally Kabir is tested when the Sultan summons him for spreading discord and gets him whipped. All the while Kabir prays to the Lord to forgive his oppressors. The lashes suddenly seem to fall on the Sultan and all his courtiers till they all fall at Kabirdas' feet and seek pardon, which they receive in no time. The drama ends with Kabir being seated on the royal throne and singing messages which were similar to the ones that Swami has always been emphasizing on. The drama had a final qawwali in which the theme was, "Who can comprehend the mystery, grandeur and greatness of His work." As the forceful and thrilling qawwali concluded, Swami called 'Kabirdas' onto the stage and created a gold chain and a ring for him. The boy who acted as Kabir, concerned about others just like the real Kabir, requested Swami to bless all the other actors too. Swami gave group photos in small groups of 5-6 and all were happy. Swami too was beaming and appeared so happy - and naturally so as He is happy when His children are happy.
All the boys vociferously prayed to Swami to visit Brindavan. Swami said, "I will come. I will come." He blessed prasadam to be distributed to all and then left after receiving Aarthi.
14 January, 2008 – Music Program by Students from Anantapur Campus
The students of the Sri Sathya Sai University, Anantapur Campus, presented a music concert on 14th January, 2008, in the immediate Divine Physical Presence of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The programme commenced with a popular Marathi Abhang, invoking the blessings of Lord Ganesha. The festive mood of Makara Sankranthi was generated with a Telugu folk song, “Raavamma.” The audience was impressed on hearing three popular Karnatic pieces and a Tarana. However, there were also two melodious light songs, involving the participation of the whole Campus. The programme concluded with Bhagawan Baba graciously blessing all the students.
15 January, 2008 – Sankranthi Day Celebrations
The northward moving sun dawned on the glorious day of Sankranthi, January 15. The day is considered as the day when the sweet fruits of one's patience and perseverance are rewarded. The great Bheeshmacharya was rewarded with the highest heavens when he decided to give up his body on this day. For the students of the Sathya Sai Institutions too, Sankranthi is the day when they are rewarded by their dear Lord for all the efforts put in during the Sports and Cultural Meet.
Swami decided to grant Darshan on the chair itself and He was welcomed by the flag bearers from the Institute and the brass band. Towards the centre of the hall, the boys made a canopy of flag salutes and Swami slowly moved through that.
After completing the Darshan rounds, Swami came and took His place in the centre of the stage. He lit the ceremonial lamp and went over to each of the sides where all the shields and trophies had been arranged. He let His gaze scan across the prizes and seemed to charge them with His love before they could be handed over to the winners.
The physical instructors from all the different campuses came forward and offered roses and their salutations to Swami. After that, the Vice Chancellor spoke briefly on the importance of sports in the upkeep of the body to reach its ultimate goal. After him, Swami blessed Mr. Dileep, a gold medalist and the script writer of the recently displayed Hanuman drama, to address the august assembly. The student began on a very confident note. He narrated as to how it is Swami who does everything including applauding and rewarding the students - His children - for the efforts He put in. His short and sweet speech was topped with a loving pat from Swami. Then a thrill of anticipation ran through the entire hall as Swami sat with a playful smile on His lips. He rose to speak and all applauded. Given below is an exhaustive summary of the discourse:
The great king Harishchandra - where is he today? He had to depart inspite of his vows of truth. Similar was the fate of Nala, Maandhaatha and Rama. All the great kings had to depart from the earth - no matter what their greatness. So many others have also come and gone. But you foolishly think that property and bank balances are permanent. Man was born silent without shedding tears. (He was made to cry on birth) He should leave the earth also very joyfully. Do not struggle for the ephemeral objects. This is not the duty for which man was born. It is the Vyashti (individual) who determines the Samashti (society). This in turn decides the Srishti (creation) and all are part of Parameshti (God). But without the individual, creation loses meaning.
Do you ever cry for God? It is not good to keep crying for mere clouds. The dark and thick clouds may come but they will disappear. Sometimes they hide the sun and moon also. At such times, just be patient. In this land of Bharat, Kshama is our true wealth, the feeling of Love towards the mother is the sweetest feeling and the character is more important than life itself. Bharatiyas today are just aping other cultures and have become like elephants that do not know their own strength. Man is very powerful. That is why even God takes a Human form when He descends.
It is betrayal if you forget God. Every moment, think of God. The jobs that you do may differ, but keep the true identity and your true nature the same. That is divinity. We forget that today and therefore have a lot of suffering. It is our imagination that is the cause of all sorrow. God has nothing to do with that. God always confers happiness and joys.
See, today you are all wearing black coats over white shirts. Seeing that, Anil Kumar here thinks that I will also do the same as all are doing. So he came dressed the same way. The whole world is engaged in the copying game today. It is not correct. This will give only momentary happiness. None can carry back even a single coin that he has with him here. All the emperors too went empty handed. So as long as an object exists, experience and enjoy it. After that there is nothing. All the intimacy that you experience is all of your making. Enjoy it as long as it lasts. Life is full of Joy. And Joy is not just that ice cream! It is in the heart. Keep it there and keep relishing it always. We celebrate birth and mourn death. Never do that. Let any difficulty come, keep telling yourself, "I am a spark of the divine. I will not shed a tear." By practise, you will get that. Concentration and contemplation will give you the strength to sacrifice.
A person is single till marriage. Then he gets four legs. After the first child it becomes six legs. As the legs increase, the misery also increases. And all the sorrow is due to your own weaknesses and mad thoughts. To avoid misery, keep telling yourself, "Whatever I get is for my own good." Yesterday, today and tomorrow are all one. Today is the yesterday for tomorrow. Past is past. Future is uncertain. The present is the omnipresent and it includes all the three in it.
Students, all that you experience is untruth. Don't worry. You have moved forward already and then why do you look back. Some people feel very sad - not only in matters of the studies but in life in general also. They worry that he / she was there before and is not there now. They are there for all time. Only the fashions keep changing. From today, think that the New Year has begun. The old becomes new every moment. Don't worry or be afraid of anything. Do not anticipate worries. It is only courage that can achieve anything. If you lose it, you lose everything else. Courage is the Pushti (strength) that is responsible for Srishti (creation).
Do not search outside for that which is within. Kama is desire and you run after it. Contain it. Do not feel sorry that you are losing Kama. Every quality is installed in you. All is a reflection from within. Treasure all that is within. It is a mistake to run after that which you don't have, leaving all that you have. Students, you have studied a lot but of what use? With all this you do not know your own nature. We all study and finally die. Therefore all education must lead to immortality. The education must benefit society. Teach all that you know to the less fortunate ones. Share your knowledge and then alone will you have the expansion of knowledge. Vyashti (individual) will then expand into Samashti (society). Samashti needs Pushti (strength) and that can be obtained from sense control alone. And today there is no trace of sense control. You lead a wayward life - not only in studies but in conduct also. It is to help you achieve the true purpose of life that Srishti (creation) has been made. Even ants have progeny, they feed and nurture. You need not take care of family etc. if it is only feeding. The creator will do that.
People go abroad for more money. Whether you get $5000 there or Rs.500 here, it is the same. There are lot of expenses and troubles there. What is there abroad? 'Aa' (meaning 'that' in Telugu) broad is all within you. Remain here and serve your parents. Pass on the Bharatiya (Indian) culture to your children. Education is not mere scribbling on paper.
Without Sujnana (wisdom and discrimination) all education is useless. What the teachers tell you is all in the books. The reality is in the Mastaka (head) and not in the Pustaka (book). Do not waste time studying. Some like bookworms read day and night. Read when you are supposed to. You read all that is not necessary. Even the junk fallen on the streets and the bazaar, you pick up and read. The heads are empty nowadays due to cinema and novels. You just open the newspaper and it is full of ads and cinema models. Your inner voice teaches you very well. Follow your conscience.
You do not become a human just because you have hands and legs. Lead an ideal life. This is our true culture. That is our caste. The culture is ingrained in the caste and the caste depends on tradition and lineage. The caste is that you are human. None can change that. Along with the caste and culture, discrimination is of paramount importance. It is like the light in the darkness. You must foster it.
Never make your parents feel sad. Mother and father are equivalent to God. Modern children do not want parents but their toy dolls - wife. Parents take the first place. The Vedas too declare that. Love your mother and follow her commands. If you make her happy, you will be happy. Make her shed a tear and you will feel sad throughout. Your joy is directly proportional to the mother's joy. Very few are able to understand the love of the mother. They say, "Keep quiet mother! Having grown so old, can I not decide this?" It is only from the parents that one can receive true education.
Keep singing the glory of God. You will be peaceful when you listen to a bhajan. Bhajan is a way to attain Samashti. Sing within yourself. Today the bhajan singing is also on the decline. Never forget God. Everything comes and goes. But the bhajans are permanent and will stay and remain.
After the discourse, Swami announced that He would be gifting away the huge cups to each and every campus. But this time, He announced, that the wardens and principals of each campus would be receiving it for the excellent performance during the Sports. Then, it was such a wonderful sight as the wardens and principals of the Prashanti Nilayam, Brindavan, Anantapur, Higher Secondary School, Mirpuri College of Music and Primary School came forward and received the cups and blessings from Swami. While everyone were whole heartedly applauding, one could not help but notice a tinge of disappointment on the faces of the captains and vice-captains who usually receive the cups. When it was evident to people, will not the Loving Lord notice it? He immediately got more cups and gave them away to the captains and vice captains as well!
As if that was not enough, He asked for all the certificates and medals to be brought to Him. He blessed each and every tray containing the certificates and picked up all the gold medals and silver medals in His hands, blessing them all. He also got the number of medals for each of the campus announced. Then He blessed prasadam to be distributed to all as the brass band struck up a lively and lovely tune -"Murali Krishna Mukunda Krishna". The band played two more pieces after that and Swami blessed them. He then retired for the morning.
23 January, 2008 – Swami Blesses XII Class Computer Projects
The evening of January 23 was one of those special ones in which Swami used His "uncertainty" card (if we may call it so) to everyone's delight. Swami had come for the Darshan rounds in the evening after the bhajans began. He completed His full round and went into the bhajan hall. At about 5:45pm, He accepted Aarthi and everyone waited for the final glimpse as Swami would sit in the car and leave. But well, it was to be a different story! Swami had decided to gift every heart throbbing in the Sai Kulwant Hall with a memory to be cherished in their inner most recesses.
Swami, instead of getting into the car, came out via the portico and through the teachers block. It seemed like He was on the lookout for the slightest excuse to bless anyone! (Well, that’s how God is always, though the human eyes may not be able to see that it all the time. It is on days like this that with supreme compassion, God decides to reveal that to mankind.) He called all the XII standard computer science students who had come with their projects. He sat patiently leafing through each and every project. And then enquired into the finer details, pointed out a few errors, made comments on the photographs that had been chosen for the dedication page and asked some of the boys about the way they had gone about doing their project.
Well, people in the Planning Commission of India who have charted the five year projects for the nation would not have felt the sense of achievement that these boys felt and that showed on all their faces. And Swami too viewed the project with an intensity that He would have had say, while He was going through the plans of the Water Supply Project or the Super Specialty Hospital. And that is not because the projects are of great importance; it's because for Him, His children are the dearest! How many times has He not declared that they are His own property?
After going through all the projects, Swami then blessed all the birthday boys who had been waiting for days for His blessings. He sprinkled the holy Akshata grains on some and accepted letters from all. To one boy, He picked the chocolates in his tray and put it into his pocket. As this was completed, one of the boys went up to Swami and told Him that in all their computer projects, Mr. Venkateshvar Prusty, their computer science teacher, had assisted and guided them. Swami was so happy and He called out for Him. He created a beautiful gold chain with a pendant and put it around his neck and said, “Good in all respects.” Everyone clapped in joy and it was such a thunderous ovation that one would have felt that even people receiving Bharat Ratna would not have been applauded for so loudly. Well, being Swami's Ratna (jewel) is a much greater blessing than being a Bharat Ratna!
Swami then looked at all the boys and asked, "Bhojanam Aayinda". (Did you finish food?). This question often leads to many results. If boys say yes, then Swami may ask, "Then what else are you waiting for? Leave!" If they answer no, then Swami may say in an almost apologetic tone, "Oh! Go then and have it now!" So when Swami asked that, the boys answered with a sheepish smile. Then Swami played another uncertainty card. He said, "Do bhajans then." This command brought about a forward surge as the boys sat up till His feet almost, climbing up the marble steps. It was as if the very thought of doing bhajans takes one closer to Swami! Then began the mass bhajans or shall we say the bhajans by the masses? Swami sat smiling at everyone as the bhajans went on. The second bhajan, "Sai Hamara" had vigorous clapping and the bhajan "Vahe guru" scaled such speeds that it became tough even to keep clapping! To cope with the speed, the clapping speed was halved to the lower rhythm! Swami in the meantime began to take letters from many boys. He was smiling so much and that was being reflected on all the faces around too.
After four bhajans, Swami asked for Aarthi and for the second time, Aarthi was done. At the end of it, someone in the crowd shouted aloud, "Jai Bolo Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Ki." And it was welcomed with a very vociferous and love filled "Jai" from everyone. After that, Swami started to speak something and all the boys in the front went crowding on the railings to catch the melody of those words. Many boys took padanamaskar and gave letters. Then, with the huge smile still playing on His face, Swami retired for the day.
25 January, 2008 – Bhagavan Blesses the EWWP’s New Project
The members of the Easwaramma Women's Welfare Trust had arrived at Yajur Mandir to seek Swami's blessings for a new project that had been taken up on the morning of January 25 for solar cookers. In Puttaparthi and the neighbouring villages, the only thing that comes close to the abundance of God's Grace is the Sun's rays! So it was a good idea to make available for the farmers solar cookers so that they could cook in the fields itself.
Everything was arranged. Some items had been placed for cooking too as a demonstration of the utility of the devices. A dish-antenna like device was also placed to direct the Sun's rays onto a completely black pressure cooker. Swami came out of Yajur Mandir at about 4:30 pm. He was all smiles as He saw all the apparatus placed around. As He went near the cookers, many dishes were presented to Him for His inspection.
Pulav and Upma were the foremost among the dishes showed to Him. He seemed amazed at the fact that Upma (an Indian dish) could be made so simply. When He was told that a farmer can go ahead with ploughing his field as his food cooked in the sun, He seemed impressed.
And next when He was told to taste some of the dishes, He agreed to pop in a few groundnuts that had been roasted by the Sun too! Then He blessed the ladies involved in the project and inquired into how the cookers were being made and designed. Before, going for Darshan, Swami also blessed a member of the Central Trust staff with Vibhuti for his ailing aunt.
- Heart2Heart Team
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