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Christmas in Prasanthi Nilayam



Also, check out Christmas in Prasanthi Nilayam 2010



International Children's Choir and Christmas Drama 26 Dec 2009
Posted at 04:43:00 Hrs. IST on 26 Dec 2009
28 Dec. Joy of Serving - Music Programme by Southern Europe 28 Dec 2009
"...Christmas is over, but the joy the festivity brought is still in the air in Prasanthi. One could see a sizeable populace of devotees from overseas nations camping in Prasanthi, post Christmas, awaiting the next big occasion, New Year 2010..."
Sai Vibhuti Packets for devotees
...Donning pristine white, men and women numbering several hundreds from the erstwhile USSR, namely, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia all coming from Zone 6, Region 61 and 62 of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations - Overseas, were ready to embrace the Lord with the songs of their hearts, to sing His glory in His immediate Divine Presence.

It was obvious that the language of their hearts was already heard by the Lord well before them bursting out their devotional repertoire. Bhagawan, upon coming onto the dais at around 4:45 pm, chose to climb down, blessing the group profusely,....Read More
26 Dec International Children's Choir & Christmas Drama

Over 200 children from around 14 countries brought the true spirit of Christmas with their unified feeling of love for the Lord, while humming in Prasanthi Nilayam in the immediate Divine Presence of Bhagawan on the beautiful evening on 26 Dec 2009.

First half of the programme was an evening by children for their Beloved Swami which later in the second half, at the culmination of the programme, turned out to become a twilight by Beloved Swami for His beautiful children from around the world.

When the Lord glided past the throng of devotees at 4:30 pm, blessing one and all, the stage was already set for the grand finale of the three day X-Mas celebrations. The evening had two scheduled programmes, with the first one being an International Children’s Choir conducted by Alma Badings of the Netherlands followed by the Children’s Christmas Drama 2009 by participants from Latin American countries, directed by Coni Avila Benitez from Mexico.

The International children started off in style with Ganesha Gayathri that was a precision rendering on par with well trained primary school children of Prasanthi Nilayam. After the show a beaming Alma Badings quipped, referring to the perfect rendering of the Ganesha Gayathri, “We had hectic practice sessions on the same”. The choir had a collection of 10 hymns which included some “non-english” numbers.

With the dancing movement of the finger baton of the graceful conductor, the children numbering exactly 153, sixty-nine boys and eighty-four girls, fixing their mental focus on the Divine Conductor sang in chorus, singing His praise in His immediate Divine presence.

They sang, “Sai Baba Sai Baba Sai Om Sai Baba…” followed by “We are your children from all corners of the globe..”, “En esta era de Kali Yuga…”, “We love you dearest Swami…”, “Om Sai Ram Sri Sathya Sai Baba…”, “Jesus is the savior whom I love to know…”, “Sin nje nje nje…”, “Njalo njalo…”, “With all your love from our heart…” etc…

Beaming faces, immersed in greater bliss at the very opportunity of singing in presence of the Mighty Lord were reflections of their greater love for their Beloved Swami. ..And Bhagawan has been quite attentive, all through.

The choir was assisted by able musicians numbering over 11 who played an array of instruments that included guitars, violins, tablas, African drum etc. The African drum beat that sustained in the air as a solo beat in between the choir was an added attraction that remained quite distinctive from the rest of the instruments.

The theme chosen for this year’s choir was “Christmas in Prasanthi is Pure Grace”, said Alma Badings, a veteran for many years with International Adult Choir and Ladies’ Day Choir who has been conducting the show for children from early 2000. “This year there has been many children participating. Every year the number has been increasing and children have been very well behaved and got many compliments”, added the conductor answering as to how she has been managing children from varied background in just 12 days time conducting a perfect show in the Divine Presence. “It was Children’s Love for Swami” said an active volunteer who has been helping Ms. Badings in the entire show. ”Swami’s Pure Grace” was all that Alma Badings wanted to add.

The Drama for the year, “Christmas Comes to My Heart” was based on Bhagawan’s teachings and Biblical gospels of Saint Luke and Saint Matthew.

Christmas in Prasanthi, in the Divine presence is a holy dream for any Sai child as they have been invariably taught of the greater significance of the holy celebrations in Prasanthi Nilayam, in Bhagawan’s own words. This year’s drama was a true expedition to Prasanthi to know the Christmas in its truest sense.

The story began from a warm Friday afternoon in December and the stage was set in a big Latin American city. Little Teo and his mother were at home getting some rest after a busy week. Teo was the only son of the Gonzalez family, a happy Sathya Sai family that has longed to make a Christmas trip to Prasanthi.

To a grateful mother whose joy knew no bounds at the opportunity to celebrate the holy occasion in the mighty presence, Little Teo, who was ever inquisitive, and had a question.

A true Christmas? What’s a true Christmas?

Here came the mother revealing the story of the blessed son of God, Jesus.

The boy was ecstatic at the prospect of being in the Divine presence of Swami.

Scene Two had the depiction of Mother Mary and Archangel wherein the angel informed Mary of the greatest boon she had received of bearing His own son.

Hearing of the Divine birth of Jesus, the little inquisitive mind of Teo raised some more doubts to his ever loving mother. This time he was referring to his Bal Vikas teacher who taught him about Swami’s birth as Divine Birth, who had selected Mother Easwaramma as His chosen Mother.

Wise Mothers, Mother Mary and Mother Easwaramma had taught their sons, Jesus and Swami truth and righteousness and they had been exemplary good children who kept their mother’s teachings in their hearts with love and respect.

Now, Little Teo wanted to know the secret behind keeping the teachings in their hearts.

Scene Number three had the answer to this question wherein Jesus along with his parents were attending a Jewish festival in Jerusalam. Jesus got lost in the jostling crowd, went to the nearby temple to listen to the speech of the high priest. Panic stricken parents, especially Mother Mary went around in search of her son finally to find him in the temple listening to the sermons.

To a worried mother, Little Jesus quipped with affirmation of faith in Greater Heaven. “Mother! Why should you fear? Those who believe in the world will have fears. But why should anyone who believes in God fear at all? I am in the company of my Father. You taught me that God is everything for us. How, then can you worry like this?”

…And the Children Choir burst open with the famous song, “Why Fear when I am here….” , apt for the situation.
As Mother kept narrating the story of Jesus to an ever inquisitive Teo, passing through the great mission of the Son of God, the mission of Love, Little Teo was equally getting evolved taking cue from the life of Jesus.

Jesus’s unconditional selfless love was portrayed depicting his many a sermon to his followers, that included loving one’s own enemies, doing good to those who hates him etc.

Now, having heard enough on Jesus, Little Teo wanted to know whether he could pray to Jesus the way he would do to Swami. He asked, “Can I talk to Jesus the way I talk to Swami? Is it the same?” Mother was affirmative, more than convincing of Little Teo about Jesus Christ’s Divinity.

Hearing a famous Christian prayer addressed to the Holy Heavenly Father, Little Teo felt that the prayer was similar to that of Swami’s.

“Oh! Lord, take my love and let it flow in fullness of devotion to Thee,
Oh! Lord, take my hands and let them work incessantly for Thee,
Oh! Lord, take my soul and let it be merged in one with Thee,
Oh! Lord, take my mind and thoughts and let them be in tune with Thee,
Oh! Lord, take my everything and let me be an instrument to work for Thee”.

Mother was very happy and advised the son to keep the prayer always in his heart telling him that these prayers are gifts from God. Little Teo was more than excited to keep the same within his heart to keep repeating every day. ..And needless to say that Little Teo was in all ecstasy at the prospect of being in the Divine Presence, and so were his parents.

Teo was indeed a common representative of global children from Sai fraternity who always look forward to the Advent of wintry December to be in the Divine Presence of Swami at Prasanthi Nilayam.

Swami had said, there is no other place in the world where Christmas is celebrated with more holiness, brotherhood, and love than in Prasanthi Nilayam. Indeed, Christmas in Swami’s presence is a real opportunity to have the chance to truly experience His Divine Love!

And this “Love that Conquers” was what in store after the curtain was drawn for the Christmas Drama 2009. While the drama had the depiction of a story telling the Advent of Jesus, the real drama happened when The Lord “entertained” the children with His explicit, unsullied love, post the drama presentation.

In an untiring session that lasted for almost an hour Bhagawan went amidst them to photograph with the drama and choir team, blessing them in abundance. Bhagawan created a chain for the cast of Jesus while all the boys were given safari pieces and the girls got blessed with sarees, including the conductor and drama director and assistants. Disciplined and devoted children formed a beeline going one after one, most reverentially with folded hands, to receive the gift of love from His Divine Hands. One of the helping hands in the Children Choir also was blessed with a ring.

While the event was a perfect show of love by children reciprocated multifold by Bhagawan’s all conquering love, it was not all easy for the drama troupe to get the same done just within two weeks.

The theme was selected from over 12 entries, scripts submitted through a “competition” conducted for the purpose, well in advance and what went in favour for the Latin American entry was perhaps the reference to Mother Easwaramma and her greater love for her Divine Child along with the story of Jesus while depicting Mother Mary, said the Drama Director Coni Avila Benitez from Mexico who has been a devotee for over eighteen years.

None of the children in the drama were of English speaking and the voice over had to be done in English with the help of Balvikas children from the US, ably managed by Victoria Hargreaves, from Santa Barbara, California, who directed Christmas Drama in 2008. Though no practice was possible before their arrival in Prasanthi Nilayam, script was made well in advance, casts were identified and scripts were sent out to the participants to do “homework” in advance. “As the practice session progressed steadily, children grew more enthusiastic at the prospect of presenting the drama in His Divine Presence” said Coni Avila who was specially blessed by Bhagawan on the eventful evening.

“The Children were Balvikas students from Latin America, speaking Spanish and Portuguese. They come from Mexico to Argentina and thus could not practise until they grouped together on the 13th Dec at Prasanthi”, said John Behner, International Coordinator for Christmas in Prasanthi on the hard-side of the saga of Christmas 2009. The Choir was the largest we have ever had, but children worked hard and they learnt the songs for both choir and drama by practising twice a day for 12 days in the run up to the festivity. Every day we told them a story about Jesus or Swami from their childhood days so that their practice had lots of human values added”, added John Behner who was full of praise for the wonderful children who made the day a ‘Happy Day” for the Lord.

The drama had eight hymns aptly intertwined and sung by the Children Choir taking their total tally to an array of eighteen hymns.

Previous evening witnessed Bhagawan blessing some of the Russian devotees conversing with them and even materializing a ring for one of them. The ring was tight on his finger and Bhagawan had promised him to change it. Upon completing the photo shoot Bhagawan asked for the Russian devotee to materialize a fitting ring that was received with round of applause.

Children made their day, by offering their unsullied love for The Lord and The Lord was up with a Million Bounty, reciprocating their love. During the photo shoot when Bhagawan called for the drama director, Coni Avila there was a comment from a senior devotee, “this is a Mexican Revolution”. Indeed it was not alone Teo who was transformed on the beautiful evening. In fact, Teo was a symbolic representation of many a heart, who underwent the transformation, receiving His bounty of Love and that was “True Christmas” at Prasanthi Nilayam.

Christmas Evening
Christmas Evening in Prasanthi Nilayam - 25 Dec 2009

Christmas flavour in Prasanthi Nilayam got a shot in its arm when Bhagawan, hinted quite affirmative to a prayer from students to bless ‘them’ with Christmas Benedictory Divine Discourse. …And in the evening when Bhagawan came out quite early, just after 4 pm, the greater expectation was giving way to a near certainty.

And the beautiful Christmas evening was enlightened by a nectarous Divine Discourse wherein His Divine voice was heard echoing: God is Love…Love…Love alone… Do not brood over the past; past is past and will never come again. Future is uncertain.Live in the present. This moment of life, existence, is reality.

The third session of the Christmas Programme 2009 started off with a thanksgiving speech by Christmas Committee Chairman John Behner that was followed by two speeches, by Yuliana Stephanie Pulgar Monge from Cost Rica and Douglas Saunders from Newzealand.

John Behner in his thanksgiving address was categorical in mentioning various groups and even individuals who made the big difference in making Christmas 2009 a grand success. Ranging from Secretary, Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, to accommodation to security to maintenance to western canteen, Mr.Behner had a special word of request for a big applause for this dedicated bunch of staffers of Prasanthi Nilayam.

926 strong adult International Choir under Ms. Sylvia Alden, the upcoming Children Choir conducted by Ms. Alma Badings, the children Drama team scheduled to perform on Saturday afternoon directed by Cony Avala from Mexico, Special Christmas Mass scheduled for Sunday at Chaitanya Jyothi Museum that would be presided over by Father Charles Ogada, also came in for special mention for their wonderful dedicated devoted service.

The Atlanta Decoration Team, responsible for decking up the Abode of Divinity had a inspiring tale behind their greater effot. Mr. Nagesh Rai from Atlanta had a wonderful story related to decorating Prasanthi Nilayam. Mr. Rai, a professional decorator himself, had a dream a couple of years ago, in which Bhagawan had asked him to decorate His house. Initially Mr. Rai had no clue. Bhagawan had even asked him to write a book and the title as suggested by Bhagawan was “Decorate the Decorator”. It was then, when the Atlanta centre obtained the final nod of approval for decorating Prasanthi Nilayam that Mr. Rai understood the subtle reality behind the dream.

Indonesian group comprising 430 devotees who would be working in the western canteen, cooking till the 28th Dec and also involved in ashram services as well as conducting Bal Vikas Sadhana Camps, and the Atlanta choir which conducted Christmas Choir in the mandir on the Christmas morning also came in for mention with appreciation and gratitude. The large group of Croatian group who would be performing a musical programme also got introduced to the devotees.

The first speaker for the afternoon was Ms. Yuliana Pulgar, a medical student from Cost Rica who was the youth coordinator for Sathya Sai Organisations, Costa Rica for one year and also is one of the collaborators for Radio Sai programme from the country as well as the Costa Rica Radio programme, Love in Action. The eighteen year old speaker had started a Hata Yoga Institute at the age of seventeen as inspired by Bhagawan and has been a follower of Bhagawan since twelve years.

Expressing deep sense of gratitude for the “miraculous” opportunity bestowed upon her, the young speaker said she was confused as to what she would speak on the occasion in the Divine Presence. With a blank mind she had a fervent prayer to Bhagawan to guide her through and as a result she was illumined to share one of her experiences.

At the age of 6 she was introduced to English training through a teacher who was incidentally a Sai devotee. She would often see the lovely picture of Bhagawan with her English teacher, but had no clue about His identity. From within she started feeling His love and could equate the same with that of Jesus Christ. And as she grew up her interest in Swami also increased and started applying His teaching in her life. She has been awakened and compassion descended into her heart. She turned to vegetarian food to the utter disgust of her friends and relatives. ..And is Divine providence, her mother gradually learnt cooking vegetarian food and got convinced of her daughter’s decision.

The inspirational young speaker had mention about her Hata Yoga institute, her medical career, her efforts in spreading His message through the radio programmes in her country, miracle at Hata Yoga institute wherein after fervent prayer to Bhagawan five of her students, who had undergone fertility treatment, but could not conceive and subsequently lost faith in miracles became pregnant and delivered healthy babies, all with His grace.

A shocking news that she had received before setting off to India, that she was infected by a dreaded disease that could finally lead to cancer if not treated in time, forced her to cut her long beautiful hair for undergoing chemotherapy. The contented speaker was at her somber best when she expressed satisfaction that her long, beautiful hair would be used by someone in some part of the world and that she no longer identifies herself with any false delusion. The speaker claimed that she has been evolving herself to understand the Atma principle. She said the incident helped her to reflect life and death from the right perspective.

The second speaker was Douglas Saunders, who was in printing business and is the national chair of Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, Newzealand.

Referring the Birth of Jesus as a day of hope and love the speaker started with the message Jesus Christ had for humanity, his message of love and compassion. The speaker had his wife’s own story of transformation that happened overnight.

In 1987, when his wife happened to watch a film organized by the SSSO, Oakland and the moment she watched Swami on the screen, listening to His discourse, she had understood that this was what she had been waiting subconsciously for long. She exclaimed “Here He is; He is here” and she was no longer her old self. She had been transformed. The first to come was a meal without meat followed by extensive reading of Sai literature and attending to service activities in His name at the local Sai Centre while consciously started working on self improvement.

With Douglas the story was different. Disturbed at the new found spiritual love of his wife, he wondered: God is somewhere up in the heavens with white beard and how could He be walking on earth and living in India. Douglas was not prepared for a change.

After six years, Mrs. Saunders travelled to India for Swami’s darshan and she returned after a three week’s mission to Kodaikanal. Though consciously she was making an effort not to talk to him anything about Bhagawan, she was so overpowered by His love, that she could not resist temptation in telling all about Him after the trip.

Douglas was confused. He had decided to sit and talk to his wife to convince that she no longer need to travel to India. And within six months he found himself in presence of Sai Baba. He decided to see the “man” in person so that he could convince himself before convincing his wife not to travel to India anymore.

Though he stayed over there for three weeks, he could not get any closer opportunity despite fervent yearning. When time was fast approaching for him and his wife to return, during the second last darshan the transformation happened. Bhagawan came near him to grant a beautiful smile that was the panacea he had been wanting for quite long. And he was transformed once for all.


God is in all, in a subtle form, in the form of spirit; Man does not make any conscious effort to understand the spirit within, said Bhagawan commencing His Christmas Benedictory Divine Discourse.

Talking about the greatness of Bharat He extolled the great illumined characters who glorified the cultural and spiritual worth of the nation, exemplifying character par excellence.

Mentioning names like Mother Sita, who exemplified chastity and integrity, Chandramathi who could extinguish wild forest fire with the power of chastity, Savitri who showcased her power of Truth, Bhagawan mentioned that it is in Bharat alone that one could find women of such great characters and only Bharat had the great good fortune of giving birth to Avatars.

Today, man wants to possess everything else, other than God and is prepared to leave his motherland to amass wealth. Bharathiyas are not supposed to have excessive desire for wealth.

Referring to violence prevalent in present day world, Bhagawan said, people think and meditate on peace, but we find only pieces. God is Love; Love is God, Truth is God; God is Truth, Truth and Love stand for Divinity, exhorted Bhagawan.

Talking about love, Bhagawan said, people tend to picturise love in the form of Ravi Varma paintings. All these paintings are imaginary work. God is present in everyone. True form of God is Love…Love and Love alone…

Ego has to be eliminated. Bondage is nothing but, “I” ness. “I” and “Mine” should be removed so that one gets the all-encompassing feeling, said Bhagawan referring to the crucifixion of Jesus, symbolized by the centre-line on the holy cross.

Do not brood over the past; past is past and will never come again. Future is uncertain. Bhagawan wants us to live in the present. This moment of life is existence which is reality.

Divine Discourse was ended by the bhajan “Hari Bhajana Binaa Sukha Shanti Nahin…”. Upon His Divine Discourse Bhagawan called out some of the Russian devotees who were seated in the front row, interacting with them. He materialized a ring for one of the Russians. And when the Russians prayed for a photo session Bhagawan promised the same the next morning when “lighting would be proper”.

The Russian group was allowed to sing a bhajan, “Manasa Bhajare Guru Charanam…” upon which Arathi was offered, ending a glorious Christmas Day in presence of the Holy Father!
Christmas morning 

Posted at 18:14:05 Hrs. IST on 25 Dec 2009

Christmas morning, the world is born…Anew in Love for Sai the Lord…Glad sounds of joyous praises fill…The air with happiness and still…More joy awaits the watching ones…this was a piece of poetic expression on the beautiful morning of 25th December. True to the feeling entailed in the expression, 25th December 2009 indeed was brought forward from the previous evening wherein the spirit of the festivity was very much ringing in….and the beautiful morning had men and women clad in white singing Christmas Carols for the Lord in the Mandir.

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...And the message was clear on the auspicious morning that “God is good all the time, come on one and all, let’s sing His glory”.

On the auspicious 25th Dec morning, The Lord clad in white was given a rousing welcome escorted by a fleet of biblical characters, to the chants of the Vedas, amidst vedic chanting. After a complete round blessing the vast assemblage of devotees Bhagawan came on to the portico to bless and cut Christmas cakes from various institutions before coming on to the dais. …And began the morning proceedings.

The first item for the morning was a band display by the University Boys Band. They sang some of the popular numbers including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reinder.

This was followed by a scintillating display of musicality and devotion by the students from the University who presented a most joyful gift of Christmas Carols tied together by a dialogue sequences involving Uncle John and Little David, talking unto the greater glory of the birth of Baby Jesus, to the merriment of an assemblage consisting of a sizeable western populace.

It was music at its best with the talented youngsters from the University displaying their dexterity with élan in His Divine Presence. They exclaimed in chorus the joyous scene that witnessed at the birth of Baby Jesus. While the hands behind instruments weaved magical effect with flair, especially on the drums, generating a crescendo of joyous tunes with western flavour, it was yet again nostalgic celebration all over, celebrating the birth of Baby Jesus. Some of the popular numbers were

 “We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year, “Oh! Oh! Wonderful”, “Glory to the Lord...”, “Said the night wind to the little lamb...”, “God is Good all the time...”, “Ding Dong Ding Everybody Sing...” to finally broke into the famous winter song in the west, Jingle Bell….Jingle Bell in chorus, and the Father Christmas, two in number, Santa Clause skipped through the devoted crowd tossing chocolates all around, aptly making merry of the joyous occasion.

Christmas and Divine love was very much ringing in and they still seem to be singing in chorus:

Oh! Swami what a gift!
Your love is filling every heart
With joy and peace and bliss
Oh! Swami, Christmas in Prasanthi,
The greatest gift of all
Your love Divine is reaching out to all mankind.

The evening proceedings began with Christmas Committee Chair John Behner delivering vote of thanks to many who were involved with the Christmas preparations which was followed by two speeches, one from a young adult from Costarica followed by Douglas Sanders of Newzealand. This was followed an exhilarating Divine Discourse by Bhagawan wherein He exhorted one and all to emulate Jesus, cutting the ego, the centreline of cross, as symbolised by crucifixion of Jesus Christ, to attain Divinity.

True Form of God is Love...Love and Love alone, exclaimed Bhagawan.

The evening programme concluded with a short stint of bhajans by students followed by a bhajan by overseas devotees.

Arathi was offered at 6:03 pm before Bhagawan retired to Yajur Mandiram.



Christmas Eve in Prasanthi Nilayam - 24 Dec 2009


Christmas Eve in Prasanthi Nilayam - 24 Dec 2009
Posted at 01:36:12 Hrs. IST on 25 Dec 2009

Also Read:
What makes Christmas in Prasanthi Nilayam so charismatic and magical?

Joy knows no bounds when you sing your heart in praise of His Glory. On the auspicious Christmas Eve after an hour-long singing of His Glory in His immediate Divine Presence, the International Choir had an unusual word of appreciation, from none other than The Lord on whom, to whom “they” sung. Towards the end of the session, calling one of his students, Bhagawan asked him to announce that the songs sung by the choir were touching and made Him very happy. ..And after a two hour long session, the International Choir walked out of the hall with joy in their hearts that knew no bounds!
Christmas Eve in Prasanthi Nilayam - 24 Dec 2009
Prasanthi Nilayam, the Abode of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, brings to light a diverse perspective of the festivity called Christmas. As rightly echoed by Bhagawan in one of His Christmas Divine Discourses, the festivity is celebrated in its truest sense in Prasanthi Nilayam.Bhagawan, addressing a huge concourse of devotees from around the world during the 1998 edition of the celebration, exhorted: “True Christmas is celebrated only in Prasanthi Nilayam”. "Elsewhere people drink, eat non‑vegetarian food and make merry in the name of Christmas. But Christmas in Prasanthi Nilayam is celebrated in a holy atmosphere".
Christmas Eve in Prasanthi Nilayam - 24 Dec 2009
Christmas in Prasanthi Nilayam is unique not only because people of all religions join together to celebrate it, but also because it is celebrated in the true spirit of Christ in the Divine Presence of the Avatar, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. That is why people from United Nations across the globe assemble in large numbers to celebrate Christmas in Prasanthi Nilayam.

International Choir:
Christmas Eve finds a greater mention in the Christmas legend. The Eve traditions vary from country to country and region to region. The greater anticipation of the holy birth and its preparatory run make the eve a momentous one in the history of the festivity.
Christmas Eve in Prasanthi Nilayam - 24 Dec 2009
…and the Christmas Eve in Prasanthi Nilayam is distinctive over the years with a unique choir comprising representation of united nations singing His glory in His immediate Divine Presence. The overseas choir has been a part of the Christmas celebrations for over a decade ever since the wonderfully graceful Sylvia Alden from the United States was given the mantle by Bhagawan to conduct the show.
Christmas Eve in Prasanthi Nilayam - 24 Dec 2009
This unique choir for this year had over 950 voices singing a spirited collection of songs on His, of His Love....

Once Sylvia Alden took over presenting the programme to Bhagawan, the choir sang 18 hymns, precisely for an hour, presenting a disciplined devotional show of Love for their Beloved Bhagawan. Singing their hearts out, the choir used all the available adjectives heralding the glory of the “Born Little Divine”.


As sonorous notes from an array of musical instruments rendered the air, with hundreds singing in chorus, the sun in the western horizon slowly fading off giving way to a beautiful twilight, they sang…”Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee God of glory...” The choir sang and made it a befitting evening paying homage to the Master of masters while remembering His chosen son, anticipating yet another Divine Advent…a glorious Christmas 2009!!!
Christmas Eve in Prasanthi Nilayam - 24 Dec 2009
The compositions sung were, Christmas in Prasanthi Nilayam, Carol of the Bells, Silent Night, O Come all Ye Faithful, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Away in a Manger, Sanctus (Italian), Here I am the Lord, Jesus Born on this Day, Jesus What a Wonderful Child, Angels We Have Heard on High, When a Child is born, Glory Hallelujah, Turn Your Eyes, We Love You Bhagawan, Joyful, Joyful We adore Thee, Amen -Hallelujah and O Holy Night.

The Choir that was conducted by Sylvia Alden from the United States was ably supported by graceful Gisela Sebastian from Germany, whose glorious voice truly inspires the ladies to reach even greater crescendo. Gisela who has composed many a song for Bhagawan, lovingly went through the pieces, note by note, chord by chord and semi-breve by semi-breve while training the choir singers. The artiste who has been involved with music in Prasanthi for the past 29 years, whose demeanour talks about her greater love for God was involved in training sopranos (refers to the female singing voice range) for ladies and tenors (refers to range of men) for gents.
Christmas Eve in Prasanthi Nilayam - 24 Dec 2009
The choir that consisted of sopranos and altos for ladies, tenors and bass for gents was also assisted by various musical instruments, namely, harmonium, violins, saxophone, santoor, flutes, chello, guitars, box-drum, trumpet, drum-kit and accordians apart from tablas and naal and an electronic key-board. A unique instrument in the shape of a bird was used to produce typical bird-sound, that was generated while blowing “air-through”, perfectly matching the joyous occasion of His Advent, while singing the song, “Sai Baba You have come on earth....”

Some of the prominent names behind the instruments were, Gisela Sebastian (Ger) on Harmonium, Stanislav (Ger) and Golbert on Violin, Peter (Den) on Key-Board, Prem on Saxophone, Martina (Ger) on Santoor, Shira Taylor (Can) on Flute, Dorothea (Swiss) on Chello, Douglas Sanders (Newzealand) on Guitar, Adam on Drum-Kit, Sergio on Box-Drum, Mano on “Bird-Sound” etc.

The choristers had only ten days to familiarize themselves with 18 musical pieces – 17 of them in English and one in Italian - and many of the devotees do not have English as their first language. In addition, there were over 45 musicians and to add a final twist of complexity to this ambitious undertaking, most of the people involved were not professional singers or musicians. The troupe with their greater determination and love for Bhagawan has been practising 5-6 hours a day for ten days, skipping darshan sessions. Additional sessions for sopranos and tenors were also conducted fine tuning the entire show to make a perfect offering at His Divine Lotus Feet.
Christmas Eve in Prasanthi Nilayam - 24 Dec 2009
A beaming Sylvia Alden had limited words to share after a most successful venture of conducting a perfect show, under most testing circumstances, wherein she had to train these vocal cords, from varied cultural and racial and linguistic backgrounds, numbering over 900 in just about ten days. She said, upon reacting to our quest about her share of experience for the evening, “Sai, You are The Light of our lives” reaffirming the credit to the Master Beloved.

...and the climax came when Bhagawan called the student to announce that the songs that were sung by the choir were touching and made Him very happy... It was kind of “Oh! Ghosh! Does He really want a student to tell us that He is happy with our singing” was the reaction many of the choir members who exclaimed that the entire show was a “Perfect Show of Love”. Indeed the appreciation that came along most unexpectedly was received with awe and greater excitement and it would take time for these choir members to sink in with this ecstatic feeling.

The third block that was occupied by white clad men and women of International Choir was the reflection of this pure love, wherein their surge of emotional and devotional ecstasy was contained in their folded palms, fixed glare and glances that talked about their musings from within, Love for The Lord! The student was commanded to express grateful thanks to the International Choir on behalf of the University for their wonderful “conduct”. The student while praying for their turn on the Christmas morning for singing as well as their regular band display prayed that Bhagawan should bless them to come up with the best of their performance as was done by the International Choir.
Christmas Eve in Prasanthi Nilayam - 24 Dec 2009
Earlier, Bhagawan arrived to a fully packed Sai Kulwant Hall just after 16:30 Hrs. Wetting many eyes, filling and fulfilling many hearts, the gracious Lord moved through the assemblage of devotees in the ladies side to take a detour to ascend the dais. Soon after ascending the dais, the Lord lighted the special candles to officially inaugurate the Christmas celebrations. The entire Sai Kulwant Hall was aesthetically decorated with a specialised group of devotees from the US, from the Atlanta centre, working meticulously on the same for many days in the run up to the festivity.

Christmas Celebrations International Co-ordinator, John Behner was asked to announce the three-day Christmas Programme. While the Christmas morning programme would commence at 9 am. in His immediate Divine Presence the evening programme would be having two – three speakers including himself, who would be reading the report delivering vote of thanks to various hands involved in the entire Christmas preparations and the third day afternoon would feature an International Choir conducted by Alma Badings followed by a Drama on Life and Love of Jesus Christ, by name “Jesus comes to our Hearts” by Children from Latin American countries.

After the entire show that lasted for more than two hours, members of the International Choir walked out of Sai Kulwant Hall, gracefully, with joy in their hearts that knew no bounds.

Related Link: Revelation to john
Joy of Serving - Music Programme
by Southern Europe 28 Dec 2009
Posted at 01:17:17 Hrs. IST on 28 Dec 2009

Where humility, sincerity and devotion come together The Lord cannot stay away. At 7 pm on the 28th day of the last calendar month, after a prolonged session that lasted for almost two and a half hour,
Bhagawan whispered something to His translator, Prof. Anil Kumar, asking the professor to announce. ...And the Professor thundered announcing Choicest Blessings from The Lord! The scene is from the closing session of a gripping evening turned twilight in Prasanthi Nilayam wherein The Lord in Prasanthi Nilayam and His devotees from Southern Europe made it explict, the tale of Divine Romance.

Christmas is over, but the joy the festivity brought is still in the air in Prasanthi. One could see a sizeable populace of devotees from overseas nations camping in Prasanthi, post Christmas, awaiting the next big occasion, New Year 2010.

Donning pristine white, men and women numbering several hundreds from the erstwhile USSR, namely, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia all coming from Zone 6, Region 61 and 62 of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations - Overseas, were ready to embrace the Lord with the songs of their hearts, to sing His glory in His immediate Divine Presence.

It was obvious that the language of their hearts was already heard by the Lord well before them bursting out their devotional repertoire. Bhagawan, upon coming onto the dais at around 4:45 pm, chose to climb down, blessing the group profusely, talking to many followed by moving among the group, personally presenting fistful of “Divine Panacea” , Vibhuti Prasadam, to each and every member of the group. This group of devotees from Southern Europe was at their disciplined best, silently praying with folded hands, glued eyes testifying their heartfelt devotion.

The programme titled, Joy of Serving had a bouquet of ten songs, ranging from English to Croatian, from Macedonian to Slovenian to Serbian, all praising greater glory of The Lord. The songs were: Start the Day with Love…, Ja sam Sjaj (I am the Shine), Veruvam vo Tebe (I believe You), Kad procvatu behari (when the flowers bloom), Jaz sem Bog vsemogoc (I am God Almighty), Spasi Boze (Save us Lord), Sitting on the Star (EHV song for youth), Velik Si (Great Thou Art), Radost Sluzenja (Joy of Serving) and Silan Bog (Awesome God) singing the glory of the Lord.

As the Lord sat onstage watching the proceedings the group sang in chorus with tunes following the beats rhythmically harmonizing to the conductor’s finger baton, spelling their all out love in unison, resulting into a Western “Bhajan Sandhya”. Faces filled with emotional and devotional fervour were explicit of the surge of emotions these white clad men and women possessed for their Beloved Lord.

The scheduled presentation was followed by an array of “Sai Bhajans” by the same group that heard echoing the love filled Sai Kulwant Hall on the glittering twilight. Earlier the programme got to start with the chanting of Vedas by the Southern European Choir, an on par show with any well trained Indian group.

…And at the end of the session the group came in for Divine appreciation. While conveying Choicest Blessings, Bhagawan asked Prof. Anil Kumar to mention that the group chanted Vedas with a high standard, with proper tunes and intonations. Bhajans also came in for Divine appreciation. Many other devotees from the region who could not make it to the choir group would be specially blessed on the following day, announced the professor as commanded by The Lord.

…And it was joy and merriment all around as lit up faces, blissful at the greatest benediction, were ample testimonies of the undercurrent of joy these folks were immersed in.

The Prasadam for the evening also had the unique touch, as beautiful, colourful rosaries brought by the group were distributed to one and all as a surprise package.

Of course, the evening had His own designs with His all out participation and He alone defined the session to make it a most remarkable and memorable one for

Christmas Divine Discourse - 25 Dec 2009

(updated on 30 Dec)


Posted at 23:33:04 Hrs. IST on 30 Dec 2009

The sun appears serene and peaceful,
The days have become shorter, and
The cool wind is blowing.
(Telugu poem)

This festive season brings all prosperity to the people filling the granaries of the farmers with the newly-harvested grains in plenty. Not only the farmers, all people in general feel happy and enjoy this season. People attribute their happiness and prosperity to God. Where is God? God is everywhere. He is omnipresent — in you, above you, below you, and around you. He has no particular name or form. Neither has He birth and death. Only when there is birth will there be death also! Hence, God has no birth, no death! He is present in every living being as Atma Swarupa (Embodiment of Divine Atma). Man today is unable to realise that Atma Tattwa (Atma Principle).

Bharat is a sacred land. It has given birth to many noble souls and chaste women.

This land of Bharat has given birth to many noble women, like
Savitri, who brought her dead husband back to life;
Chandramati, who extinguished wild fire with the power of truth;
Sita, who proved her chastity by coming out of blazing fire unscathed,
Damayanti, who reduced an evil-minded hunter to ashes with the power of her chastity.
This land of piety and nobility attained plenty and prosperity and became the teacher of all the nations of the world
Because of such women of chastity.
(Telugu poem)

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Sri Rama released Sita from the captivity of the demon Ravana, who confined her in Lanka for ten months. Rama took her into His fold after putting her to the test of fire. The fire god presented her before Rama, saying, “Oh! Rama! Sita is a great woman of chastity. She is so much devoted to her husband that she did not look at the face of even one male in all these ten months.” Sita came out of the fire unscathed, and the fire god himself attested to her chastity. One can imagine how great and noble she was! Can there be a parallel to such women in any country in the world?

The country of Bharat (India) is situated in the middle of the seven seas. Every man and woman in this country has to conduct themselves as Purushotthama (noble male) and Pativratha (chaste woman) respectively. No wonder several Avataras (incarnations) took birth in this sacred land. Great men and women and noble souls may be born in any country. But Avataras took birth only in the country of Bharat.

Today, people aspire for everything in the world except God. People leave even their motherland in quest of wealth and money. This is not a positive development, especially for the Bharatiyas (Indians), for they are expected to rise above the desire for money. God is one who always gives; He never takes. God desires only love from us, nothing else. The country of Bharat is so noble and sacred, but the people of this country are leaving, seeking greener pastures elsewhere. However, those with a pure and unblemished heart are sticking to their native country.

What God expects from His devotee is only a pure and sacred heart.

People ascribe different names and forms to God. In fact, God is only one. He is beyond all names and forms. He takes on a name and form according to the wishes and aspirations of a particular devotee. When you contemplate on the form of Jesus and wish to see Him in that form, He manifests before you as Jesus.

Sarvatah Panipadam Tat Sarvathokshi Siromukham, Sarvatah Sruthimalloke Sarvamavruthya Tishthati (with hands, feet, eyes, head, mouth and ears pervading everything, He permeates the entire universe). God is present in every human being, nay in every living being. Daivam Manusha Rupena (God is in the form of a human being). That is why human values are considered to be so sacred and important. It is not enough to simply have a human body. In keeping with the human form, one should also cultivate the human values of sathya (truth), dharma (righteousness), santhi (peace), prema (love) and ahimsa (nonviolence).

You should not tell a lie under any circumstances. If you adhere to truth, righteousness will follow. Where truth and righteousness go together, there peace will be. Where there is peace, there will be love too. There can be no place for violence when there is love. Unfortunately, today there is violence everywhere due to the absence of love among people. Whomsoever you come across these days, there is unrest and unrest. People perform japa (chanting of God’s Name) and tapa (penance) to obtain peace, but there is no peace anywhere. Wherever you see, only pieces, pieces, and pieces!

One has to develop love in order to get peace. First and foremost, one has to develop love. “Love is God, God is Love.” “Truth is God, God is Truth.” Truth and Love are the embodiments of Divinity, verily. Though God is one, people ascribe different names like Rama, Krishna, Govinda, and Narayana to God. The different names and forms ascribed to God are the outcome of the imagination of poets and painters. For example, Ravi Varma portrayed God in different forms based upon his imagination. But God cannot be limited to a particular name and form. All names and forms are His, and He transcends them too! God is immanent in all living species including the human beings. The entire creation is the manifestation of Divinity.

God has no desires and aspirations. He is selfless. Everything in the outside world is the reaction, reflection, and resound of your inner being. This is a cloth (showing a handkerchief). Strictly speaking, this is not a cloth; it is a bundle of threads. The threads woven together assumed the form of a cloth. Similarly, the thoughts and desires of a human being make the mind. They, in turn express themselves in the form of speech. The words lead to actions through the sense organs. In the process, man entertains certain bad thoughts and feelings.

Why did God give eyes to a human being? Only to see good. Similarly, the ears are meant to hear good things and the tongue to speak good words. The words you speak must always be sweet and soft and never harsh. Thus, you have to consider every limb and organ in the body given to you by God as sacred and make proper use of it. Such a sacred body has to be dedicated to God and none else. God gives you all that is necessary for your life’s journey. You should therefore install God in the altar of your pure and sacred heart.

God is omnipresent. The sky is God and the earth is God. All human beings are embodiments of Divinity. God is immanent in every human being in the form of breath (Soham). Man has to realise this truth. Only when you realise the true nature of God that can you be considered to have acquired jnana (wisdom).

Jnana is not mere bookish knowledge. Several educated people have acquired vast knowledge from textbooks, but who is a jnani (realised soul) in the real sense? Only the person who has realised, “I am not the body, I am not the mind; I am God verily,” is a real jnani.

When you say, “this is my body,” who are you? To whom are you referring? The expression “my body” connotes that you are separate from the body. When you say, “This is my mind,” the mind is separate from you. Similarly, when you say, “This is my buddhi (intellect),” it means the buddhi is separate from you. In all these expressions, what is that ‘my’? That ‘my’ is ‘I’. This ‘I’ is what was referred to by Jesus Christ as the ego, and it has to be cut. That is the real significance of the cross. You cut the ego.

You are bound by two things: ‘I’ and ‘mine’. That is the human bondage. If you can get released from these two bonds, what remains is ‘you’ only. Now you are with the body. Suppose you have to leave the body tomorrow. At that time, who are you and where are you? You do not know! The body is like a dress; a robe. Once you get rid of attachment to this dress, your true nature will be apparent.

The same truth has been explained in the phrase, “the one you think you are, the one others think you are, and the one you really are”. That is the true nature of a human being. When someone enquires who you are, you will answer, “I am so and so.” You will give your name. In fact, that name is given to you by your parents and not by God at the time of your birth.

Suppose you ask God, “Who are you?” He will reply, Aham Brahmasmi (I am Brahman). Every individual should remind themselves, “I am Brahman, I have no other name.” If someone asks, “What is your name?” you should reply, “My name is Brahman.” If you are constantly aware of your true nature thus, that is Atma Tattwa. You do not have to contemplate on anything else.

Whenever you come across a friend or acquaintance, you greet him with a namaskar. This implies that you are in fact paying obeisance to the Divinity immanent in the individual. Hence, do not entertain the feeling of ‘I’, ‘I’, ‘I’. All these physical bodies are like the roles played in a drama. They change. The world itself is a cosmic drama. You must constantly remind yourself that you are playing your role in the cosmic drama and your real nature is that you are an Embodiment of Divine Self (Atma Swarupa). You have any doubts in this regard? (Swami enquired turning to the audience …). If you are entertaining any doubts, you will be confused.

Unfortunately, today one does not know about one’s own true nature. How then can one know about God? Hence, first and foremost know thyself! Enquire into yourself, “Who am I? Who am I?” you will realise, “I am I, I am Atma”, “I am I, I am Atma”, “I am I, I am Atma.” If you forget this Divine Self, what remains is ‘deep wine’! Hence, you should become divine.

Rama, Krishna, Govinda, etc. are only references to Divinity in the common parlance. An individual is referred to by several names based upon the relationships at the physical level. One person refers to him saying, “He is my son-in-law.” Another says, “He is my son.” A third person says, “He is my brother.” Thus, one gets into bondage as the relationships increase. From where did this bondage emerge? It is all of your own making.

You marry a girl and say, “She is my wife.” But before marriage, who was she? You do not know. After some years when she departs finally, you do not know anything about her. Thus, you do not know who she was before marriage or where she went after her departure. The wife-husband relationship is only in between.

Hence, do not worry about the past. Past is past and future is uncertain. You do not know, you have no knowledge of, either the past or the future; you are aware of only the present. Hence, live in the present. That is the only reality.

(Bhagawan concluded His discourse with the Bhajan, “Hari bhajan bina sukha santhi nahin …”)