February 12 and 13, 2009 – Parthi Yatra of Prakasam District
The devotees from Prakasam district had arrived and it was their second Parthi Yathra (Pilgrimage to Puttaparthi). As has become a custom in the last one year or two, they had a drama ready which they wished to present before Swami. And the Lord too permitted them to put it up on the evening of February 12. The bold backdrop announced the intended programme, "Prema Sankranthi" (The festival of Love). It was 4:45 p.m. when Swami arrived and He went around the whole hall granting darshan. When He neared the centre of the hall, He looked at the backdrop and the assemblage of the flag-bearing kids with childlike curiosity! After a brief visit to the interview room, Swami came on stage and asked for the programme to begin
The first part of any programme at Puttaparthi is the floral offerings to Swami! That day was no exception. An abundance of roses along with their bearers headed to Swami and the Lord patiently and lovingly blessed them all. The cards carrying the details of the programme also were presented to Him. After blessing about 10-15 people who had moved onstage, Swami seemed very eager to see the actual drama! He commanded that the drama should begin and that’s exactly what happened.
The opening was made by the appearance of the many illustrious "sons of the soil" from Prakasam district. That was followed by a play in which the protagonist, who is a headmaster was immersed in teaching true value education to all his students. The drama moves towards the scene where some of the parents of his students come up to him with complaints that he is trying to make their children into religious zealots.
A sudden turn of events in which one of the students gets both his legs damaged in a motor accident brings to the fore the price of disobedience and the value of human values. In the aftermath of the tragedy, the headmaster and all his students tend and nurse the victim with love and brotherhood. The power of their care is such that the boy who had previously given up all hopes of ever getting mobile in his life again, "stands on his own feet" and moves about in the joy of having received back his mobility. Now praises are heaped on the headmaster and he makes no secret of his source of inspiration and life - Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The entire drama was interspersed with songs and dances containing His message.
Swami watched the drama completely except for a brief visit He made to the interview room. Many times, people may wonder as to why Swami goes into the interview room in the middle of a programme. When He goes into the interview room, it is because He wants to surprise His children with His bounty! At the end of the programmes, it is a common sight to see Swami gifting the participants with cloth pieces, sarees, watches or photo frames. When He goes inside, He usually picks the tokens of Love that He wants to distribute to all the participants. He personally chooses the gifts and having satisfied Himself that everything is in order, He returns and resumes watching the programme. As far as the drama is concerned, there is nothing that He doesn't know. The drama that He sees in front is actually a small drama in His bigger drama called Life! He watches our dramas to shower joy on the participants and bless all the devotees with valuable darshan.
As soon as the drama concluded, Swami moved down the stage and posed for photos with all the children. He told the photographers to move to the left and right, and ensured that every child got properly covered. Then He began to distribute T-shirts to all the participants. He took out one piece and called one of the boys from the programme. He held it out and checked whether the measurement was okay! This act roused the crowd into appreciative applause. Swami said that the T-shirts were a little bigger for the smaller children, and so He gifted them with cloth pieces that could be stitched. To some of the elderly participants, Swami gave dhotis. To a few others, He gifted Safari cloth pieces. To each one, He gave what was necessary (And isn't that what God always does?). As this was going on, the devotees started bhajans. The bhajans culminated with prasadam distribution and aarthi. Swami, however, asked the students to sing the 'Sri Raghavam' bhajan with alaap, and some more bhajans by the students followed. Fifteen minutes later, Swami left for His residence as arati was offered again. Thus, ended a memorable day of the Parthi Yatra for the devotees of the Prakasam district.
The second day's programme, on February 13, was a distribution of necessary equipment to the needy. The centre of Sai Kulwant Hall was filled with items for distribution to the poor and disadvantaged: irons, electrician kits, wet-grinders, bicycles, push-carts and more, arranged by devotees from Prakasam district. Bhagavan came for darshan at 4.10 p.m. and went into the interview room. After half an hour, He came onstage and moved down among the materials for distribution, interacting with some of the Sai youth seated there. He personally had a look at all of the items and blessed many of them with His touch. The youth with whom He spoke and blessed were all lost in the joy of having those precious moments with Him.
Paraskavedekatriaphobia is a very common phenomenon though the word is rarely used. It is the fear of Friday, the 13 th, which is considered as the unluckiest day. But with God, anything and any day becomes lucky. Just ask the youth from Prakasam district about their memories of Friday, the 13th.
Swami returned onstage and then asked for the proceedings to begin. It began with Prof. Anil Kumar relating the His-story of Prakasam district and moving Swami into a mood of nostalgia. As always, his speech was liberally sprinkled with humor and feelings. Swami began by smiling, then was moved into laughter and finally there were tears that fell out of His eyes as He laughed whole heartedly when the professor narrated as to how Swami had to teach the bhajan mandalis in the district how to clap. "You seem to be killing mosquitoes rather than keep rhythm to the bhajans" He had said! Ask the professor what he feels about Friday, the 13th and he will speak of the wonderful good fortune it brings!
fter the 15 minute speech, the names of the recipients of the various utility items were read out and they came up to the front to receive them. They placed roses near Swami's feet as a token of their gratitude to Him. Though there were a few volunteers manning the area near Swami, many of the recipients, in their overwhelming sense of gratitude and Love for Him, rushed forward and placed the rose at His feet as He sweetly smiled and blessed them. Their faces spoke of the joy they felt within. The day turned out to be very lucky for them! As the distribution concluded, the leader of the group from Prakasam district spoke next, also in Telugu, about the service activities being done there. Having concluded, he requested Swami to speak. The Lord just smiled. Had He not spoken in His own way to each and every one of the people seated there?
he items for distribution were then moved away from the centre of the Hall. Swami indicated with a slight movement of His eyes for the boys to start bhajans. That small indication led to a huge movement as all the students rushed to occupy the now vacant marble blocks and began bhajans. It is popularly said that we speak very loudly when we are angry because anger separates our hearts! At the same time, when in love, we speak softly for love brings our hearts together. The Love that we share with Swami is so intense that even slight indications from Him are clearly understood! And that was how the bhajans began and Swami sat through a few of them, rhythmically moving and smiling. It was 6 p.m. when Swami accepted aarthi. At that time, one of the members of the youth jumped up and seemed to rush to Swami. He was quelled by the security. However, Swami asked one of the students next to Him, "What does he want?" The boy wanted padanamaskar. Swami called him and told him to take padanamaskar. That youth was in highest bliss and he cried like a child at Swami's feet. For everyone, that Friday, the 13 th, was just divine! And that is how our life is with God! Nothing inauspicious can ever happen in His Presence.
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- Heart2Heart Team