Early in the afternoon, it became known that Swami had blessed the Sathya Sai
Youth of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to put up a programme in front of Him
in the evening. The youth were galvanised and they quickly went about putting
up the screen which was to be their only prop. Swami came out for darshan at
about 4:00pm. He came in the car and there was a kind of traditional bugle and
drums that began playing a rhythm. Swami took a detour after the ladies side
and came near the interview room. From there, He came straight out.
When He came and sat in the marble portico, He noticed that the Primary school
block was empty. He wanted them also to be present in the mandir so that they
would be able to witness the programme. He was actually about to halt the
vedam so that the programme could begin, but He halted Himself instead and
every now and then kept asking whether the children had come. Very often, we
hear that Swami spends almost all His time thinking of His students. Here was
an example for all to see. Swami in fact went into the interview room to wait
for the Primary School children.
The relationship between a student and Swami is so special for both of them
and the intimacy and connection becomes so special for all those who are
watching too. Swami does nothing without the students. Any project He takes
up, any trip He goes on, any program that He witnesses - you name it - the
students are an integral part of it. Is Swami attached? No way. But it is a
beautiful lesson on how He expects His students to lead their lives. He too
should be a part of anything that they take up. Swami should be the only
constant in our changing lives. Whomsoever manages to do that are alone truly
His students, for hadn't He Himself said once, "I know that you are a student
of Sathya Sai College, but you should also become a Sai Student."
Soon the students from Primary School arrived and so did Swami. He came out
and asked for the programme to begin immediately! The programme was entitled "Mahasu
Ki Mahima." Mahasu is another form of Lord Shiva. The initial roses and cards
were offered to Swami and then the programme began. It was a play based on the
culture of Jaunsar Bawar, a tribal area in the western part of Uttarakhand.
With Bhagawan's clarion call of Grama Seva, the Sai youth go to the Jaunsar
area with the VIP plan. VIP here stands for Village Integration Programme and
consists of the package - child care, women and men care, critical care, youth
care, educare, medicare, animal care, agricultural care, spiritual care,
social care and special care. While engaged in this seva, the youth are
impressed by the simplicity and value based traditions and customs of the
villagers. The story of how the region was freed from the terror of the demon
Karmasur by Lord Mahasu was depicted. Apart from this, the Palki Nritya (the
dance with a palanquin of Lord Shiva), the Harul Nritya (a traditional dance
performed on festivals conveying many teachings like Love for God and fear of
sin) and the Pandav Nritya (dance by the five Pandava brothers and Draupadi as
part of the simple depiction of the Mahabharata) were also part of the evening
After the programme concluded, the performers made a kind of formation and
were singing aloud a song. Swami called the State President and materialised a
green diamond ring for him. He then called the children in the front line and
materialised Vibhooti for them. The participants were overjoyed at this sign
of Grace. Swami then told that He would distribute cloth pieces to all. He
personally gave cloth pieces to each and every participant. It was a comic
sight to see "Draupadi" receiving shirt and pant pieces!! After 15 minutes of
distribution, Swami topped the cake of Grace with His special icing. He told
everyone to sit neatly around and that He would come down for a group photo!
He went down and insisted that He would stand so that He would be clearly seen
in the picture. After that He came on stage and asked them, "You know bhajans?
Sing then!" There were three or four bhajans. As Swami signalled for Aarthi,
the group photo taken was given to Him and He in turn gave it to "Draupadi"
who was thrilled. He then received Aarthi and left.
September 23rd, 2007
The whole of Andhra Pradesh seems to be arriving district-wise to see Swami.
The devotees from Mahbubnagar had arrived in huge numbers and Swami had
permitted them to put up a cultural programme entitled, " Neti Yashoda Karnam
Swami came out for Darshan at 4:15pm on the wheel sofa. The stage had already
been set for the drama. He seemed totally uninterested in taking letters as He
allowed His gaze to move over the thousands who had gathered. A gentle divine
detachment spread over His face. At one corner of the gents block were
tricycles, sewing machines, mechanic kits and computers which were to be given
away to some identified needy people. He passed by them and then went through
the gents side. Then as He was passing by the birthday students, He went
towards them. He blessed all the birthday boys by accepting their letters,
cloves and showering the holy grains(Akshata) on them. After a very brief peep
into the interview room, He came on to the stage. He sat for a while and then
suddenly He did something that made all of us feel that the detachment He had
displayed earlier was a Masterplan to shower greater Love on all assembled.
He seemed dissatisfied with the darshan He had granted! He said that He wanted
to go down again. As He descended from the centre path, He began another round
in the reverse direction this time. Everyone delighted at this special
bonanza. The birthday boys got their second round of blessings and all those
who had felt only "partially" blessed must have felt fulfilled. Swami then
took a turn into the portico from the region where old students sit and there
were slight looks of disappointment on some of the devotees' faces. Swami went
through the portico towards the interview room. And from there, He went to the
ladies side! It appeared that Swami was stalling the proceedings and also
granting precious closeness to all the devotees. What was He waiting for??
Swami went around the ladies side and came to the gents side again. Now He
seemed very deeply interested in the service offerings of the devotees. He
looked at the tricycles etc. and also spoke to the devotees there. He found
out all the details of how the distribution was being done. There was monk in
orange with whom Swami spoke the maximum. After that, Swami moved into the
gents side and there was a burst of applause. Disappoinment that a few had
felt earlier seemed to give way to His-appointment. This time, Swami went
through collecting letters and blessing everyone. He once again came to the
region where the birthday boys were seated. They seemed to be at their wits
ends!! Swami was near them again and they had nothing else on their person to
get blessed!! Really when it rains, it showers. They sat with folded hands as
Swami passed by them. Swami was all smiles as He neared the Vedam group again.
There was a sudden onrush. The Primary school students had arrived. Swami's
face lit up even more and it looked as though He was waiting for them to
arrive. He went through them and spoke to some of the kids before settling on
the stage once again.
Before the cultural programme, representatives for each type of token of Love
- tricycle, computer, mechanic kit and sewing machine - were called out and it
was announced that all of them would be later distributed with the blessings
of Bhagawan. The representative chosen to receive the tricycle was so excited
that he came straight to Swami on all fours. Swami tried to indicate to
someone to help him but they were all a bit slow and he was very fast in his
enthusiasm to get to Swami. He offered Him a rose and his salutations. Swami
immediately materialised a gold chain for him. One person came forward to help
him up as Swami put the chain around his neck.
It was such a perfect display of spontaneity from both sides - the natural
attraction that exists between the Lord and His devotees. The other
representatives too came up one by one and received blessings from Swami. A
lady who came to receive the sewing machine was so touched that she almost
broke down in front of Swami. Offering a rose, she accepted the sewing machine
and went back to her place.
Then the programme began. Swami seemed very interested in it for it was on
Karnam Subamma. In the beginning was a small dance by the Sathya Sai Vidya
Vihar. Then the Bal Vikas children took over. The drama began with a depiction
in the Dwapara Yuga where Yashoda has come to know that her little Krishna has
to go to Mathura and that his real mother is in fact Devaki. She is very sad
and asks whether she is not blessed to be his mother. Krishna says that she is
as much a mother for him as Devaki and also promises her that he needs a
mother just like that in the Kali Yuga when he would come again.
The drama then depicted the sweet story of Divine love between little Sathya
and Subamma. Subamma has no children of her own and so she takes Sathya as her
child. Everyday she searches for him to feed him. But Swami always offers to
his friends before eating Himself and so she is forced to cook on a large
scale always. She witnesses the glory and grandeur of the Pandhari Bhajan
group and convinced of Swami's divinity, she even enters the Harijanwada
(where the "untouchables" live) with Swami. When people tell her that being a
brahmin she would lose her caste, she says that only Swami is valuable for
her. If she has Him with her, she has nothing to lose in life and without Him
everything is lost.
That scene was so poignant and pregnant with message. Swami let out His
emotion as He saw that scene. Some said that Swami was being touched by her
feelings. One senior devotee put it beautifully, "Swami is overwhelmed because
in spite of Him exhorting the same message throughout His life, people do not
seem to realise it and they give up God for the world. He feels very sad for
them in His love."
The drama concluded with Swami raising Subamma from the dead and granting her
the greatest fortune of Darshan and pouring Tulsi (Basil leaf) water into her
mouth to signal her merging in Him. As the final song was on, Swami called "Subamma"
and created a green diamond ring for her. He then went down to pose for group
photos. He then began to distribute sarees for everyone. He saw the girl who
acted as little Sathya and called 'him' near. He made 'him' sit by His side
and told 'him' to pose to the cameras! After giving sarees to all, He asked
'him', "Will you wear shorts and shirt?" It was such a sweet question and
surely Swami must have been a little nostalgic of His Sathya days!!!
Swami then distributed white cloth pieces to all the boys. He blessed all and
then went into the interview room for a short while. He came out and asked for
Aarthi. He sat for the full Aarthi and at the end of it blessed the children
again with both hands and then retired to Yajur Mandir.
September 17th, 2007
Today was the day when Swami had said that all the Ganesha statues must be
immersed. Heavy preparations were on by the students and staff of all the
institutions at Parthi. The Vidyagiri stadium had become home to the students
who had become artisans designing vehicles for Lord Ganesha's journey. One
could see the Harry Potter influence on school children as the main chariot
was shaped like that of theTri -Wizard tournament cup! There was also the
Hogwarts shield as one of the palanquins. Apart from these, there was a
chariot that was aptly named "Ekadanta Express" and was shaped like a train
engine. A huge urn (sacred pot) was the theme of the Institute chariot. There
were flowery chariots and the Ganesha temple at Prashanti Nilayam entrance had
been beautifully replicated as the Central Trust chariot. (The descriptions
here are only a few of the numerous chariots and palanquins that wended their
way to the mandir.)
The roads had not only been washed by the heavy rains, they had clogged too!
Everything everywhere was wet but nothing seemed to dampen the spirits of the
students and staff as they walked in the procession singing bhajans and
chanting vedas in full gusto. Within an hour, the mandir had a transformed
look. It looked like the divine forces had gathered on some ethereal
battlefield - battling to win the Lord's Grace and Love. Swami came out at
4:40pm. He preferred to come on the wheel sofa rather than the car. He went
around slowly looking at all the assembled chariots. The labour of Love seemed
to be paid back in full with the look of Love. The head priests of each
chariot went up to Swami with an idol of Ganesha and Swami blessed them. Swami
also blessed the prasadam at many chariots.
The whole exercise of making these chariots is so spiritual. The central theme
of the Bhagavad Gita is Karma Phala Tyaaga (renouncing the fruit of action -
action without expectation.) This chariot making seems to embody that
philosophy. Everybody sweats and toils- days and nights -to get beautiful
chariots ready for Ganesha. The glory and grandeur of the chariots lasts only
a few hours during the procession. Once the immersion ceremony is over, the
chariots are just forgotten. Nobody seems to cringe or cry that such a mammoth
effort is not being preserved. It is often missed but a real powerful example
of detachment and renunciation. And all the effort is just to make Swami
happy. It would indeed be an uplifting experience if we make our lives into
one big chariot making ceremony.
Swami completed a full round and then took His place on the stage. He said
that it was getting late and the idols should be taken for immersion. One by
one in a disciplined manner, each chariot was brought front and displayed
before Swami. Swami would bless the chariot and then they would be taken away.
Each group seemed to adopt its own unique way of offering obeisances to Swami.
Some of them, fell fully prostrate on the floor. There was a lion dance by one
group, loud bhajans by another and a U shaped formation by some others. But
the love, devotion and enthusiasm were all the common factors. By about 5:15
pm, all the chariots were on their way to the immersion pond. Boys rushed in
to fill the place that had been kept vacant to accommodate the chariots.
The Veda chanting went on. It now seemed to be resounding as all the boys
chanted with renewed vigour that comes when God sits in your midst. Swami was
very insistent that the boys who had gone for the immersion be back in Mandir
soon. What could be seen on His face was motherly concern and care. It had
been raining very heavily the last few days in the evening and Swami wanted to
be done with the immersion as soon as possible. He blessed prasadam to be
distributed. Seeing the sweet packets in the hands of the students in the
first row, He signaled them to eat them and have fun! Then, saying that He
would be back soon, Swami left for Yajur Mandir. Bhajans began. Messages were
sent that Swami wanted all the boys back in mandir soon. A steady stream of
boys began trickling into the Kulwant Hall. As per His word, Swami came out at
about 6:00pm again and went into the bhajan hall. He once again came out on
the wheel sofa as if to confirm whether all the boys had returned. He went
around wearing a beautiful and fulfilling smile. All present were indeed
fortunate to have God coming out to have their darshan literally for He wanted
to ensure that all were safe and happy.
There are so many things that God need never do at all. He has no duties or
responsibilities. He is complete freedom. And yet, when out of sheer Love for
all of us, He goes out of His way to do things, one cannot help feeling
touched. That same sensation welled up in anyone who sat seeing Swami going
around at 6:15pm. Swami never tires of doing the same things over and over
again - year after year. Ever-fresh - that must be one of the foremost
qualities of Love.
Then at about 6:20 pm, Swami received Aarthi and then retired.
September 15th, 2007
Today, the holy day of Ganesh Chaturthi, is a very important day all over
India. The Lord in His elephantine form is worshipped as the remover of all
obstacles. And so a festive atmosphere pervaded Prashanti Nilayam. It had been
charged yesterday evening by a series of significant events. Swami had come at
5:15 pm during the bhajans yesterday and had gone straight to the bhajan hall.
After the bhajans, He sat through the whole Aarthi and then waved His hand in
benediction as Loka Samasta was going on. Then He had enquired as to what
songs would be sung the next day and seemed to be lost in a kind of serene
bliss. He left but before that had said, "Vinayaka is here" as if Lord Ganesha
was present in the hall witnessing all that was going on. Then He had retired.
Today morning, Swami came out at about 9:35 am. Instead of the ritual Veda
chanting, the notes of the Ganesh Gayatri followed by the Ganashtakam rented
the air. Swami completed the darshan rounds and then went into the interview
room. After a short while, He came out and then sat in the wheel sofa on
stage. Songs continued. There were three group songs and more than five
individual songs. Swami sat through listening to all of them. After about 45
minutes, He told that prasadam could be brought and distributed. There were
two kinds - a sweet and another, a packet containing oval tofees. He opened
the toffee packet and checked them! Then He beckoned to the primary students
sitting nearby and told them to start distributing. He also called all the
children holding cards and began to view them.
in the meanwhile, the songs concluded and Ganesh bhajans began. The bhajans
had a very enthusiastic following. Swami kept seeing all the cards and He also
gave every child who went near Him a sweet in His own sweet manner. More than
thirty children must have walked up the steps to Him expectantly and then
walked down those very steps with satisfaction. After blessing all of them,
Swami sat enjoying the bhajans. Then He received Aarthi and left. The time was
about 10:50 am.
Near the Yajur Mandir, Swami blessed huge Ganesha statues that had been
specially procured and then each statue was sent to its destination - one
being kept near the Ganesh temple at the entrance of Prashanti Nilayam.
In the evening, Swami came out at about 4:45 pm. He went around in the car for
the darshan rounds and then at 5:00 pm, went into bhajan hall for bhajans. He
retired after Aarthi.