December 17, 2008 – Swami’s Visit to the Tennis Courts and Programme by Chattisgarh and MP Sai Youth
Swami has always stressed on the need to combine the power of the youth with the wisdom and experience of the elders. His idea is the harmonious mingling of the two to usher in the "Golden Age" of dynamism and values. He has constantly wanted the young staff and the elders in the Ashram to work more cohesively for the benefit of all the devotees. To seek more guidance from Him, all the formers students of His University, who are currently working in His Trust in Prasanthi Nilayam, had assembled in the Bhajan Hall by 3.30 p.m. In the meanwhile, the youth from Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh too were ready with a music-drama-dance programme to be presented before Swami. The stage and backdrops were set.
While this was the scene in Sai Kulwant Hall, there was another group of youth – the current students of His University - waiting for Him in the Indoor stadium, ready to receive Him in their sports gear. Swami had promised to visit the stadium that evening to watch their matches conducted as part of the Annual Sports and Cultural Meet.
Thus, any person with the knowledge of these likely events would have wondered how Swami was going to be present for all the three. But, actually, there was hardly anybody who was aware of this entire multifarious scenario. And how the Lord satisfied everyone that day is really beautiful. This is how that evening unfolded:
It was about 4:10 p.m. as Swami arrived for darshan. He came in the car and immediately took the "right" turn after the Yajur Mandir clearly showing indications that He was visiting someplace outside the ashram premises. As the devotees swarmed out of the Sai Kulwant Hall to catch one glimpse of Him, all the students seemed focussed in heading towards the indoor stadium. And this swift movement was not missed by the devotees; soon enough there was a huge gathering at the gates of the indoor stadium. Swami moved to the Vidyagiri Stadium via the General hospital and the Primary school premises. Seeing a solitary squad of marching students at the stadium, Swami arrived at the entrance of the Indoor Stadium. He moved straight to the brand new tennis courts which would be blessed with their inauguration very soon, in just a few minutes!
Using the lift, Swami moved up to the upper galleries and then the players took their positions. As soon as Swami came to the balcony, everyone cheered and Swami raised both His hands and looked as if He was blushing at the rapturous welcome! And then the game began. As always, Swami was watching intensely as the Sun shone brightly above Him. Soon a huge multi-coloured umbrella was placed and seeing the boy holding it, Swami smiled. The game was slow and, at times, amateurish and soon Swami commented, "They should not hit the ball straight; they should hit it cross and out of reach." The physical trainer wanted to explain; he said, "Swami, they are not yet used to the new court. They will soon improve." Swami immediately said, "See, the game of tennis has nothing to do with old courts and new courts. They have to learn to play better." Everyone around laughed and Swami too joined in the laughter. Sitting there, Swami's eyes also fell upon some buildings at the distance and He asked, "Whose are those structures?" No one knew exactly and the question just passed. After about 5-7 minutes of watching the game, Swami decided to leave. Trays of chocolates were brought up to Him and He threw them to the eager beavers waiting down! Once that was done, Swami moved back to the lift and descended.
He then vended His way to the courts inside the Indoor Stadium where the basketball and volleyball teams had gathered. Alighting from the car, Swami sat amidst a joyous sea of students and told the players to begin their game. A thunderous chanting of the Sai Gayathri began and the entire stadium joined in, and what a feeling it was! The divine wafting feeling was overpowering. Swami seemed thrilled, and so too was everyone in the stadium. Those chants have that power and austerity which make them apt for any occasion, for which occasion is not enhanced by the thrill of the heart? So, after the prayer, the game began. The 5-6 minutes that Swami witnessed saw an intense battle between the two sides. Seven baskets were scored in all - 4/3 being the score. While watching, Swami said, "When they play, all should not keep running from this side to that. They should spread out and pass." The students made frequent changes in the team composition so that every player gets a few minutes of play in the Divine presence. That ploy drove home a very important lesson. None of the boys were focussed on the actual game; everyone was trying to ensure that everyone else gets a chance to play in His presence. When the focus is on ensuring that all are happy - Samasta Lokaha Sukhino Bhavantu - the "game" automatically gets exciting and fantastic. Seven baskets in 5 minutes was really something wonderful and that also included two 3 pointers!
Now His attention turned to the volleyball court. It was getting a bit late considering the fact that two more programmes awaited Him in the Sai Kulwant Hall. Swami spent a little time and saw a few serves and volleys, and then blessing the boys, started moving towards the Mandir. It is a fascinating scene to see the devotees throng around His car. If the Sai Kulwant Hall is packed with devotees waiting for Him, how is it that there are so many on the road too? Well, wherever the Lord is, there devotees have to be!
Swami reached the Sai Kulwant Hall and drove straight towards the main portico. Alighting from the car, He entered the Bhajan Hall and keenly looked at every single past-student. And then He accepted the letter that was offered to Him and saw through it keenly for a minute. After this, He looked at one of them and said, “Actually, I did not plan to come…” But seeing all of his young staff seated there, the kind Lord had condescended to come and spend a few minutes. Swami, then, spent another five minutes talking about the games He had just witnessed in the Indoor Stadium, and then moved towards the centre stage of the Sai Kulwant Hall. Once there, He asked the Veda chanting to stop and asked for the programme to begin.
The first fifteen minutes was the traditional Karma dance from the state of Chhattisgarh. The youth made the display with cymbals, small sticks and long sticks with attached wooden cymbals. After its conclusion, began a Hindi adaptation of a play Swami had composed as a "child"- 'Cheppinattu Chestara' (Do you do as you say?). It is a delight to read this simple story.
The scene opens, revealing a lady reading out the Bhagavatha (an epic that narrates the story of Lord Vishnu and His devotees) to a number of other women, and explaining the meaning of the slokas (hymns). She says that it is the duty of the housewife to give charity to the deserving, the unfortunate ones who cannot earn by the sweat of their brow, and not to pretenders who lead idle, parasitic lives. The women disperse sometime later, and the lady is left alone with her little son, who has all along been an interested listener.
Presently, a blind beggar comes and makes much fuss to attract attention but he is rebuked and sent away. Then, there comes along a hefty mendicant with a pompous paunch and a polished copper vessel filled with grain and a richly caparisoned Tambura (a stringed musical instrument), and the mother respectfully welcomes him and offers him rice and coins, and falls at his feet asking for his blessings. The son is nonplussed; he asks the mother why she had not followed what she had herself preached a few minutes ago, and he is dismissed with the curt answer, "Cheppinattu Chesthara? Can we act as we say?" The mother is irritated by the impertinence of the son who dared question the behaviour of grown-ups. She drags the boy to the office room where the father, an Upper Division Clerk in some office, is busy with the files.
He gives the son a long lecture on the value of education and how people should study and get educated whatever may be the difficulties. Suddenly, a schoolboy pops in and asks for some money to pay his fees, for otherwise his name will be struck off the rolls. The father says that he has no money with him and shows the boy his empty wallet as proof. A few minutes later, a batch of young men, all clerks belonging to his office, thrust themselves in and hold out a subscription appeal calling for contributions for a 'Welcome Dinner' in honour of an officer, taking charge of their office in a few days! The father is very jubilant at the idea, says that it must be done very grandly so that the new man may be pleased and also offers to make a speech. He then pulls out the drawer of the table and gives them a substantial amount.
The child looks aghast at this behaviour and asks the father why he went against his own words; why did he utter a lie to the schoolboy? The father turns angrily at the child and asks, "Cheppinattu Chesthara? Need deeds follow words?" He roars at the child and commands him to go to school immediately.
The scene then shifts to the school. Sathya, that is to say 'Krishna' of the drama, enters the school. The teacher is in a storm of excitement because the Inspector of Schools is to visit the school the next day. He coaches the children intensively for the occasion. He tells them that the Inspector may ask, "How many lessons have been completed?" And they were all to say, not "23" the actual number, but, "32". He says that he will do, when Inspector comes, lesson number 33, on "Harishchandra," the legendary king who sacrifices everything to uphold truth. So, he teaches them that lesson so that the answers may come quick and fast the next day; he threatens them with severe punishment if anyone so much as whispers that lesson number 33 was already done in class. "It must all appear as if I am doing it for the first time tomorrow," he says, and continues with the teaching of King Harishchandra's sacrifices for the sake of remaining true to his word that he had given to Sage Viswamitra. When the class is over, all other boys move out, but Krishna alone remains behind; he asks the teacher the question he has already asked twice that day; "Why do you not follow the advice you give?" and he gets the same rebuff, "Cheppinattu Chesthara? Do you mean to say that the adviser should follow the advice?" Hypocrisy, and hypocrisy, everywhere!
The scene now shifts to Krishna's home. Next day at school-time, the boy refuses to go. He throws away his books saying that going to school is a waste of time. The distracted parents send for the teacher, who comes rushing in. Then, Krishna says, "If all that you teach, as mother, father and Guru is only to be spoken and written, if all that is learnt is to be discarded when it comes to action, I do not understand why I should learn anything at all." This opens the eyes of all three and they praise the boy as their "Guru," and decide thereafter to speak the Truth and live by the Truth.
Swami was very involved in the drama. Though the sets and backgrounds were simple and neat, the play was presented very powerfully. It concluded with a very soulful song which had, as a part of it, the Telugu portion of the famous song, "Humko Tumse Pyaar Kitna". A few eyes moistened at the emotion, and Swami seemed so very pleased. As the final formation came into position, the next programme began.
There were three songs sung by Mr. Abhas Joshi, a former Bal Vikas student and a top three finalist of a singing competition on national television. The songs were presented wonderfully. The first one was, "Baba, Main Aayaa Dwaar Tumhaare". It was a lovely melody coupled with sheer power of his voice. The second song was a poetry stating, "After seeing the joy of chanting His name with Love in Fakiri, I see no joy in riches!" The third song was the popular, "Satyam Shivam Sundaram". As He completed, Swami blessed prasadam to be distributed. He was all smiles as He raised both His hands in joyous benediction, and then promised, "I will give you photos tomorrow!" Bestowing another final blessing as He went into the car, Swami retired for the day.
December 18, 2008 – Special Blessings to MP and Chattishgarh Sai Youth
As Swami moved towards Yajur Mandir on the evening of December 17, 2008, He said, not once but almost five times, to the Sai Youth of MP and Chattisgarh, "I will give photos tomorrow." It is said that every word the Lord speaks itself is Truth. In the evening of December 18, at about 5 p.m., Swami came out in the chair.
As He moved through the ladies side, and then through the students, He seemed so full of love and energy. The Lord is pure reaction, reflection and resound. If the devotee exhibits great excitement and anticipation to meet Him, He too mirrors those feelings. There was a huge block of blue-scarved Sai Youth from MP and Chhattisgarh waiting in great eagerness as that was their last darshan as a group. Swami halted in front of them and spoke to their group leader, and then, all of a sudden, made a decision. He decided to move through the youth and bless them.
The young adults' joy knew no bounds as they tried in haste to make a clear path for Swami to move through. They were seated so tightly and their longing to touch Him was so intense that Swami resembled a little saffron boat on a rough blue sea! Swami moved through them very lovingly and everyone eagerly fell at His lotus feet for their life-time opportunity. Swami had only smiles and His hands went up often in blessings. Swami, very often has said, "This body is not mine; it is yours. It has come for you and will work for you. It is up to you to take care of it." Therefore, no matter what happens to His body, the beautiful smile ever dances on His effulgent face. His life is the gift for entire mankind, and His body is there to only give us joy and allow us to love Him in a manner that is easily understandable for us. But at the same time, it is our duty to take care of it too.
Wading through them, Swami went about collecting letters and speaking to a few, here and there. At one point, He waved His hand and materialised Vibhuti. He then distributed that to at least ten youth. There was little space to move, but Swami surely wanted to take that path through the eager Sai youth. And thus, it was such a marvelous sight of the Lord and His young devotees relishing His love and benediction. Every face was beaming with the joy of seeing Him and touching Him, and at the same time of being seen and ‘touched’ by Him. Having completed that, when all assumed that Swami would proceed to complete the regular darshan round, Swami called the head of the Youth and told him to gather all the participants of the previous evening’s drama. He said He would give them the promised group photos! There was a surge of thrill that swept through all the blue scarves.
n the meanwhile, Swami interacted with the previous day's singer - Abhas. He spoke to him and his brother, and then materialised Vibhuti for them. He also applied Vibhuti to the singer's throat and there were smiles everywhere. It is no surprise that Swami seems to have a special corner in His heart for the singers. If they have pure feelings, they sprout Love for God in many hearts. There have been a few instances where Swami has materialised honey and used it as an ink to write on people's tongues. Those people fill devotion in millions of hearts even today with their honeyed voices. Being blessed with the "honeying" touch, Abhas seemed to be in "ninth heaven"!
Once the participants had been separated, they moved to another secluded area in the centre of the Sai Kulwant Hall, and there began their unforgettable photo session with Swami. The Lord sat sweetly amidst the participants and told all of them to look towards the camera. After the men, Swami called Abhas and gifted him with a personal picture. Then Swami told the photographer there that if the gents moved, the ladies too could sit arrayed around Him in the same place. According to that wish, soon in the same place were the ladies. They were obviously overjoyed. Swami then moved through the students into the interview room.
He came out soon with clothes for the two protagonists of the drama. Gifting them the clothes, He added to their joy by giving them prints of the photos taken minutes before! With the Lord, when it rains, it showers! Moving to the Bhajan Hall where the bhajans were going on, Swami went down the aisle in His chair and gave sarees to a lady and to three of the bhajan singers to give them as gifts of Love to their mothers. After bhajans, He received arathi at 6 p.m.
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- Heart2Heart Team