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Narrative by Brother Abhimanyu Kaul about Bhagawan Blessing the programme for the January Alumni Meet:

January 15th, 2008

The northward moving sun dawned on the glorious day of Sankranthi, considered as the day when the sweet fruits of one's patience and perseverence are rewarded. The great Bheeshmacharya was rewarded with the highest heavens when he decided to give up his body. For the students of the Sathya Sai Institutions too, Sankranthi is the day when they are rewarded by their dear Lord for all the efforts put in during the Sports and Cultural Meet.

Swami decided to grant darshan on the chair itself and He was welcomed by the flag bearers from the Institute and the brass band. Towards the centre of the hall, the boys made a canopy of flag salutes and Swami slowly moved through that. After completing the darshan rounds, Swami came and took His place in the centre of the stage. He lit the ceremonial lamp and went over to each of the sides where all the shields and trophies had been arranged. He let His gaze scan across the prizes and seemed to charge them with His love before they could be handed over to the winners.

The physical instructors from all the different campuses came forward and offered roses and their salutations to Swami. After that, the Vice Chancellor spoke briefly on the importance of sports in the upkeep of the body to reach its ultimate goal. After him, Swami blessed Sri. Dileep, a gold medalist and the script writer of the recently displayed Hanuman drama, to address the august assembly. The student began on a very confident note. He narrated as to how it is Swami who does everything including applauding and rewarding the students - His children - for the efforts He put in. His short and sweet speech was topped with a loving pat from Swami. Then a thrill of anticipation ran through the entire hall as Swami sat with a playful smile on His lips. He rose to speak and all applauded. Given below is a summary of the discourse:

The great king Harishchandra - where is he today. He had to depart inspite of his vows of truth. Similar was the fate of Nala, Maandhaatha and Rama. All the great kings had to depart from the earth - no matter what their greatness. So many others have also come and gone. But you foolishly think that property and bank balance are permanent. Man was born silent without shedding tears. (He was made to cry on birth) He should leave the earth also very joyfully. Do not struggle for the ephemeral objects. This is not the duty for which man was born. It is the Vyashti (individual) who determines the Samashti (society). This in turn decides the Srishti (creation) and all are part of Parameshti (God). But without individual, creation loses meaning.

Do you ever cry for God? It is not good to keep crying for mere clouds. The dark and thick clouds may come but they will disappear. Sometimes they hide the sun and moon also. At such times, just be patient. In this land of Bharat, Kshama is our true wealth, the feeling of Love towards the mother is the sweetest feeling and the character is more important than life itself. Bharatiyas today are just aping other cultures and have become like elephants that do not know their own strength. Man is very powerful. That is why even God takes a Human form when He descends. Daivam Maanusha Roopena.

It is betrayal if you forget God. Every moment, think of God. The jobs that you do may differ, but keep the true identity and your true nature the same. That is divinity. We forget that today and therefore have a lot of suffering. It is our imagination that is the cause of all sorrow. God has nothing to do with that. God always confers happiness and joys. Your imagination causes all the sorrow. You take things in a perverted way and that makes things difficult.

See, today you are all wearing black coats over white shirts. Seeing that, Anil Kumar here thinks that he should also do the same as all are doing. So he came dressed the same way. The whole world is engaged in the copying game today. It is not correct. This will give only momentary happiness. None can carry back even a single coin that he has with him here. All the emperors too went empty handed. So as long as an object exists, experience and enjoy it. After that there is nothing. All the intimacy that you experience is all of your making. Enjoy it as long as it lasts. Life is full of Joy. And JOY is not just that ice cream! It is in the heart. Keep it there and keep relishing it always. We celebrate birth and mourn death. Never do that. Let any difficulty come, keep telling yourself, "I am a spark of the divine. I will not shed a tear." By practise, you will get that. Concentration and contemplation will give you the strength to sacrifice.

A person is single till marriage. Then he gets 4 legs. After the first child it becomes 6 legs. As the legs increase, the misery also increases. And all the sorrow is due to your own weaknesses and mad thoughts. To avoid misery, keep telling yourself, "Whatever I get is for my own good." Yesterday, today and tomorrow are all one. Today is the yesterday for tomorrow. Past is past. Future is uncertain. The present is the omnipresent and it includes all the three in it.

Students, all that you experience is the untruth. Don't worry. You have moved forward already and then why do you look back. Some people feel very sad - not only in matters of the studies but in samsara also. They worry that he / she was there before and is not there now. Everytime they are there. Only the fashions keep changing. From today, think that the new year has begun. The old becomes new every moment. Don't worry or be afraid of anything. Do not anticipate worries. It is only courage that can achieve anything. If you lose it, you lose everything else. Courage is the Pushti (strength) that is responsible for Srishti.

Do not search outside for that which is within. Kama is desire and you run after it. Contain it. Do not feel sorry that you are losing Kama. Every quality is installed in you. All is a reflection from within. Treasure all that is within. It is a mistake to run after that you don't have leaving all that you have. Students, you have studied a lot but of what use is all these studies? With all this you do not know your own nature. We all study and finally die. Therefore all education must lead to immortality. The education must benefit society. Teach all that you know to the less fortunate ones. Share your knowledge and then alone will you have the expansion of knowledge. Vyashti will then expand into Samashti. Samashti needs Pushti and that can be obtained from sense control alone. And today there is no trace of sense control. You lead a wayward life - not only in studies but in conduct also. It is to help you achieve the true purpose of life that Srishti has been made. Even ants have progeny, they feed and nurture. You need not take care of family etc if it is only feeding. The creator will do that.

People go abroad for more money. Whether you get $5000 there or Rs.500 here, it is the same. There are lot of expenses and troubles there. What is there abroad? 'Aa' (meaning 'that' in Telugu) broad is all within you. Remain here and serve your parents. Pass on the Bharatiya culture to your children. Education is not mere scribbling on paper. Without Sujnana (wisdom and discrimination) all education is useless. What the teachers tell you is all in the books. The reality is in the Mastaka (head) and not in the Pustaka (book). Do not waste time studying. Some like bookworms read day and night. Read when you are supposed to. You read all that is not necessary. Even the junk fallen on the streets and the bazaara, you pick up and read. The heads are empty nowadays due to cinema and novels. You just open the newspaper and it is full of ads and cinema models. Your inner voice teaches you very well. Follow your conscience.

You do not become a human just because you have hands and legs. Lead an ideal life. This is our true culture. That is our caste. The culture is ingrained in the caste and the caste depends on tradition and lineage. The caste is that you are human. None can change that. Along with the caste and culture, discrimination is of paramount importance. It is like the light in the darkness. You must foster it.

Never make your parents feel sad. Mother and father are equivalent to God. Modern children do not want parents but their toy dolls - wife. Everyone comes after parents only. The Vedas too declare that. Love your mother and follow her commands. If you make her happy, you will be happy. Make her shed a tear and you will feel sad throughout. Your joy is directly proportional to the mother's joy. Very few are able to understand the love of the mother. They say, "Keep quiet mother! Having grown so old, can I not decide this?" It is only from the parents that one can receive true education.

Keep singing the glory of God. You will be peaceful when you listen to a bhajan. Bhajan is a way to attain Samashti. Sing within yourself. Today the bhajan singing is also on the decline. Never forget God. Everything comes and goes. But the bhajans are permanent and will stay and remain.

After the discourse, Swami announced that He would be gifting away the huge cups to each and every campus. But this time, He announced, that the wardens and principals of each campus would be receiving it for the excellent performance during the Sports. So then, it was such a wonderful sight as the wardens and principals of the Prashanti Nilayam, Brindavan, Anantapur, Higher Secondary School, Mirpuri College of Music and Primary School came forward and received the cups and blessings from Swami. While everyone were whole heartedly applauding, one could not help but notice a tinge of disappointment on the faces of the captains and vice-captains who usually receive the cups. When it was evident to people, will not the loving Lord notice it? He immediately got more cups and gave them away to the captains and vice captains as well!

As if that was not enough, He asked for all the certificates and medals to be brought to Him. He blessed each and every tray containing the certificates and picked up all the gold medals and silver medals in His hands, blessing them all. He also got the number of medals for each of the campus announced. Then He blessed prasadam to be distributed to all as the brass band struck up a lively and lovely tune "Murali Krishna Mukunda Krishna". The band played two more pieces after that and Swami blessed them. He then retired for the morning.


January 13th, 2008

After the grand drama by the Parthi students yesterday, it was the turn of the Brindavan students to fulfill their role in the "Cultural" part of the Sports and Cultural Meet. Swami had agreed for the drama,"Kabirdas" to be put up in the Kulwant Hall. The stage settings had again been reversed from yesterday as the Brindavan campus had come prepared with very elaborate sets. Swami completed His darshan rounds and immediately came out and sat on the stage to witness the drama. The introductory roses and cards were offered to Him. Then the drama began as Swami halted the Veda chanting.

A mention must be made here of the sets and back drops that the Brindavan boys had made. This fine art seems to be evolving at a very rapid pace indeed. The entire story of Kabirdas portrayed was almost the grandeur and glory of the sets. The narrative of the Brindavan Kabirdas drama will not even be 50% complete without the story of the sets. There were three magnificent settings. The first was the Hindu temple setting. Two Gopurams adorned the stage and they had been intricately and beautifully carved. One housed the lingam. There were pictures of Ganesha and Krishna also that had been cut out from thermocol. The second major setting was a mosque setting. The same steps and buildings got transformed as a few lads came up and turned around a few sheets. The sets were not only aesthetic but had also been elegantly engineered. The third and the most grand one was a darbar setting of the badshah (king). The rear of the throne was specially notable, fabulously painted in peacock blues and greens.

The saint Kabirdas, in his own lifetime during the 15th century AD, combined the best of Hindu, Islamic and Sufi wisdom and created for humanity a charming tapestry of spiritual gems in the form of the dohas. The drama began with the young Kabirdas desperately in search of a guru. He sings out that with Time fleeting and Death being the only certainty, who could show the path other than the Guru. Guru Ramaanand accepts him as a disciple in spite of protests from the other disciples that Kabir is a Muslim. Very soon, Kabir receives enlightenment and dedicates his life to the uplift of humanity. The dohas were all beautifully incorporated to bring out his message. "Chalti Chakki" was one powerful message, in which he says, " Only the one who is centred on God will be saved from the twin stones of joy and sorrow which relentlessly crush all the grains except those that are in the centre."

Kabirdas underwent many trials and tribulations. Both the Hindus and Muslims wanted him and him alone to make a shawl for their respective Lords and attend the worship which happened to fall on the same day. Working overnight, Kabir falls asleep without his knowledge and Rama comes and completes the work for him! So all are happy. Kabir goes and attends the Muslim festival. There was the scene of the Islamic Zikr. That song was accompanied by a vigorous and elevating dance in which the message that Allah is the only refuge for all as all problems are due to the improper identification of oneself as the ego and not the soul. The whole scene was so powerful that one could feel the spiritual vibes wherever one was seated. Next, Kabir also attends the Hindu festival in the Shiva temple. Once again, the scene matched the previous in the power and grandeur of the Lord. "Om Maha Praana Deepam" was sung as many Shivas sprang forth and did the Tandava dance.

Finally Kabir is tested when the Sultan summons him for spreading discord and gets him whipped. All the while Kabir prays to the Lord to forgive his oppressors. The lashes suddenly seem to fall on the Sultan and all his courtiers till they all fall at Kabirdas's feet and seek pardon which they receive in no time. The drama ended with Kabir being seated on the royal throne and singing messages which were similar to the ones that Swami has always been emphasizing on. The drama had a final qawwali in which the theme was, "Who can comprehend the mystery, grandeur and greatness of His work." As the forceful and thrilling qawwali concluded, Swami called Kabirdas on to stage and created a gold chain and a ring for him. Kabir, being concerned of humanity as he always was, requested Swami to bless all the actors too. Swami gave group photos in small groups of 5-6 and all were happy. Swami was also beaming and appeared so happy - and naturally so - He is so happy when His children are happy.

All the boys vociferouly prayed to Swami to visit Brindavan. Swami said, "I will come. I will come." He blessed prasadam to be distributed to all and the left after receiving Aarthi.

January 11th, 2008  - Today even the sun seemed to rise early with all vigour! Even before 7 am, a beautiful golden hue enveloped Puttaparthi. The Vidyagiri stadium wore a festive look. People began filing into the venue of the 2008 Sports and Cultural Meet in thousands. The Sports Meet is a wonderful conglomeration of feelings, actions and thoughts. For the students, it is an opportunity to please their dear Swami and dedicate the day specially for Him. For the parents, its a time to swell their chests in pride seeing their children's capabilities. For thousands of devotees, its an opportunity to witness another facet of the unique love-story between the Lord and students. For the thousands of villagers, living in and around Puttaparthi, it is what the Olympics is for the so-called "developed" world - a venue to make them gape in awe and wonder.

The stadium seemed painted in millions of colours as the galleries filled up much before Swami's arrival at 8:10 am. Swami too resembled the golden sun in His Golden yellow robe! A thrill of joy seemed to pulsate through the entire audience even with the mere sight of their "Bangaru" Swami through the glass of the Porte car. The welcome song went on the air and the brass bands from the Anantapur and Prashanti Nilayam campuses struck the right chords. The zoom bikes thundered down the road powerfully heralding Bhagawan's arrival. The motorcycle escorts going wheel to wheel in front of the majestic horse escorts was a sight to be seen. An arch of flags was formed through which Swami's car passed and reached the dais. Swami got down and went on the lift and now, any little difference that existed between the rising golden sun and Swami was gone as Swami slowly rose up much to the gleeful delight of all the assembled devotees. Lighting the lamp and throwing open the Sports and Cultural Meet was the first thing that Swami did as He came on stage. Then He went and took His position in the centre of the stage.(like He always does in the centre of our hearts!)

The introductory offerings were made to Swami as the band struck up a lively marching beat and the parade began. First it was the tiny tots from the Primary school right in the front. They were followed by the marching squads from the Higher Secondary School and the three campuses of the Institute at Anantapur, Brindavan and Prashanti Nilayam. The closing was by a special Athletic squad. The Sports Meet gains significance for one very special reason. A few days after the Sports Meet, on the 14th or 15th (depending on the calendar) is Sankranthi when the sun begins the Uttarayanam(the northward movement). This is a very auspicious day and the sun moving northwards is symbolic of the mind and heart of man moving towards God. The legendary Bheeshma, the grandsire from the Mahabharata who had the boon to live as long as he wanted and could give up his body at will, waited for the northward movement of the sun on a bed of arrows before giving up his body. He was assured mergence with the Lord. That is the powerful significance of the day. in ancient India, the period of a month or so before that day would be spent entirely in the contemplation of the Lord. However, in the current times, when it is so tough to keep the mind from wandering, Swami has, in all His Love and wisdom, designed the Sports Meet. Every student of His participates in the Meet and for a month or so preceding the Sankranthi day thinks of only one thing - to make Him happy. Swami occupies the time, energies and thoughts of the students and everyone naturally benefits at the occurrence of the auspicious moment. It is little wonder that once one is at His lotus feet, all his spiritual welfare is taken care of.

After the march past was complete, if one allowed one's eyes to sweep across the ground, one would get swept off one's feet! It was such an awe inspiring and lovely sight to see all the squads arrayed in the ground. It literally brought the simile of His armies set to conquer the world to ones mind. The oath was rendered where each child promised to his/her beloved lord that they would forever live with the spirit that He had taught. The flag was brought in the ceremonial march and Swami pressed the button that raised the University flag high on the flagpole. He then lit the torch with the flame which would adorn the stadium throughout the day. Releasing pigeons and balloons to mark the occasion, Swami participated in and added colour and festivity to the day. The flame was taken around the stadium and midway up the hill by the students who had distinguished themselves as sportsmen in their respective campuses. From there on, the torch vehicle, the flying unicorn this time, carried the flame to the top of the hill. There was an applause as the flame burst forth on top of the hill. As a conclusion for the opening ceremonies, the brass bands from Anantapur and Prashanthi Nilayam played brisks marches as they moved in front of the dais saluting the chancellor.

Then the campus presentations began. The first was by the Anantapur campus and representatives from that campus came up on stage to offer their salutations and gratitude to Swami. The Anantapur display began at 8.45 with graceful group dancing followed by a Far-Eastern group item with parasols and hand-fans. A sports medley followed, presenting hockey, tennis and volleyball movements in formation. Motorbike stunts was the next item, including criss-crosses, various poses on bikes, a breath-taking ramp-jump over 20 girls and a human pyramid of 38 girls on 9 bikes. The ramp jump seemed to touch Swami a lot and He made some observations about it to the people sitting beside Him. The bikes kept zooming across the ground with the riders and others in various poses and each of these stunts received applause from the audience - both onstage and off it. The Anantapur students concluded their half-hour presentation forming the words "We Love U" in a group formation as their theme song was played. They joined in the singing and signed off in devotion with Swami blessing them with the abhayahasta.

The Brindavan students then began with an equestrian show-jumping demonstration. A marching band presentation brought up a display of rolling in steel hoops and an aerobics exhibition. A sort of timber-drill was the next item, with planks of wood being used in imaginative ways to aid acrobatic feats. The Celestial Rhythms then began with the spelling out of "We Love You" in a grid of students suspended by a crane nearly 80 feet above the ground. The students made a number of formations and they looked scintillating with the blue sky as the back ground. As the Brindavan presentation concluded, Bhagawan accepted Arati onstage and returned to the Mandir at 10 o'clock while an announcement was made about the afternoon presentations. Swami graciously granted group photographs for the Band groups of Anantapur and Prasanthi Nilayam and also the motorcycle escorts before He went into Yajur Mandir. He was so smiling and sweet and He seemed to be eager to grant photos too!

Bhagawan arrived at 3.25 pm in the afternoon in a maroon robe riding in His Mercedes sports convertible. On the Sports day, seeing the "sporty" Swami, one was reminded of Swami's saying, "Among men, I am a man, among women a woman, a child among children - alone I am God." In the sportsfield, He is the most sportive and a sportsman!!As He reached the stage, tiny tots from the Primary School brought up bouquets to Him and began the afternoon's presentation. The hour-long Primary School presentation was a joyful riot of colour as usual, beginning with a "Ganesa" group dance by small boys. The Ganesha's were interspersed with bears and tiny birds too. A classical mass-dance, hand-fans and flowers formations, gymnastics, mass flower-dance, dance by small girls with white wings and Mexican poncho dance followed in quick succession. Children dressed as deer, tigers, bunnies and monkeys performed various gymnastic feats on mats, ropes and poles. Their elder brothers and sisters may do motorbike stunts, but the bicycle stunts by the Primary School boys were just as eye-catching. Unicycle stunts were creative and even a basketball match was played on unicycles. It was really a fantastic feat as the children kept their balance and did not miss pouching even a single basket! Then a rainbow dance brought a grander splash of colours on field and led to their final dance, balancing items on their heads, paying tribute to Bhagawan, the Light of Lights.

The students of the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School and the Prasanthi Nilayam campus of Sri Sathya Sai University began their hour-long performance at 4.30 pm with a striking mass item with classical dancers in the foreground and patterns made from colourful foldable discs forming a context for Krishna's beautiful Leelas - "Adharam Madhuram...". The item was aptly named, "The conscious dots" and resembles a giant screen where each pixel performed its role to perfection to present a beautiful picture on the whole. They concluded with a formation of a throbbing heart beating for their Lord. Gymnasts on moving trucks then presented balancing feats with giant flags on equally giant poles - fifty feet high. Some of them balanced the poles on their elbows while others did it in their mouths! Gymnastic feats including jumps over vehicles and acrobatics on moving trucks led to a breathtaking display on ropes. The rope-acrobats, depicted a creative "free-fall" of sorts with the rope wound around them and the highlight of that item was a spectacular spin by a student on a rope suspended more than 20 feet above the ground with absolutely no safety link around him. He later came up on stage and presented a rose to Swami. The rope structure was also used as a trapeze stage, as roller-bladers scintillated on the ground below, ending their dramatic show with a series of jumps over a van. A precision gun drill with amazing synchronization was followed by a karate display which featured breaking tiles and pots and also mass nan-chak and stick displays. As the Prasanthi Nilayam campus came together for their final song, Bhagawan expressed how pleased He was at His students' performance and profusely blessed them before leaving for His residence. He also got it announced that the next day, the students of Parthi campus would be putting up a drama on the devotion of Hanuman at 5 pm in the Kulwant hall.

January 1st, 2008 - The New Year 2008 began on a beautiful note here in Puttaparthi. The New Year Day programme nowadays has been given by Swami to the old students of the University. It is such a wonderful opportunity for all the students that the Lord wishes to begin His New Year with them. What can be said of Swami's love for the students! As He Himself has said so many times,"Students are My only property." It is not that the Sai students are a class apart and so receive so much love from Swami. In fact, it is because they receive His Love in such abundance that they seem to be a class apart. Like the thousands of zeroes that have no value if the "1" is removed, Swami gives all the value in their lives and they know that. So they take up the first day of the year to express their profound sense of gratitude to Him who means everything to them.

All the students were seated in the marble blocks in front of the stage. Swami came to Sai Kulwant Hall in His chair at 8.45 am in a procession led by the Students chanting Vedam, with traditional fans and an umbrella as paraphernalia to adorn and worship the Lord. There was a surge of Joy throughout the hall and seeing Swami in His beautiful form on the first day of the year was such a blessing. Swami went all around the darshan rounds in the chair. In the veranda were beautiful, multi coloured cakes. Swami went first upto them and cut them after lighting the candles on them.

After Swami came onstage, the Vedam continued for a few minutes. Swami then signaled the University Brass Band to play a few pieces. The way the brass band began with a bang was definitely a grand way to welcome the year. The synchronisation, harmony and power were so scintillating. Notable among the pieces played were La Bamba and the famous "The Love Story" piece. After three pieces, Swami asked whether it was complete. The band leader then requested Swami whether they could play one more and Swami consented with a smile. After that Prof. G. Venkataraman was asked to speak. He welcomed the alumni and described them as the hope for a troubled world. He emphatically stated and elaborated that Swami's message was the only solution for all the worries that plague us. Sri A. V. Gokak, the current Vice-Chancellor was the next to speak. His talk also centred around the transformational work done by the Sai Students. After that, Swami threw up a most wonderful surprise! He called one of the students who had formerly been a band leader. He said, "Ay, band leader. Will you speak?" The man, however much he may grow, is still Swami's boy. He was delighted at the opportunity. He came up straight and began extempore. He said that whenever Swami calls anyone to speak they need not be nervous for two reasons:

1) It is like a heart opening into words in front of Swami.

2) Though one has to face the entire world while doing so, Swami is always on ones side.

He then went on to recollect a few of his student experiences.He ended on a note oozing with gratitude for Swami and Swami materialized a gold chain for him. As He lovingly put it around his neck, the boy got the great blessing of almost resting his head on his divine mother's lap. As the speeches concluded at 10.10, Bhagawan asked the students to commence their music programme. As the songs began, Swami told the alumni holding up the cake right in front to come to Him. The cakes were all look alike and each of the three were massive in size. Swami lovingly lit the candle atop each cake and then cut them too. In the process, a little icing got on to His palms and hands. The 'icing' must have been thrilled to stay on something that was sweeter than itself! Swami, again with a smile, took His kerchief and wiped away the icing. After a few songs, the alumni presented a song taught to them by Swami for Ugadi in 1985. At that time Swami was browsing through a book that the alumni had released on the occasion. The song progressed and Swami looked up at the students singing. His eyes made a quick scan of everyone seated. One does not know whether the Lord too, like humans, feels nostalgic or not. But it sure looked like Swami was remembering the time when He had actually taught the song to them. As that song concluded, it was already nearing eleven o'clock.Bhagawan said that He would see the other part of the programme in the evening. Blessing prasadam for all, He accepted Arati and returned to His residence.

In the afternoon, Bhagawan arrived in His car at 4.45 pm. Coming onstage after a round of the Hall, He noticed the bright coloured Bhangra dance group of the Sai Students. He called them and permitted them to perform. The dance group was actually not part of the original plan of New Year Day celebrations. But the alumni had picked up a few very basic steps in two days and put it up. This once again highlighted the motherly Love that Swami feels for His students. Really, just like a mother who sits appreciating her child mumbling some nursery rhymes, Swami sat watching as the dancers tried to get some semblance of co-ordination! To top it all, at the end of their 'performance', Swami asked, "Is it over already?" There was loud laughter everywhere and Swami lovingly blessed the 'dancers' and spoke to many of them. The Orchestra prepared by the alumni was the next item, performing from the centre of the Hall with loudspeakers facing Bhagawan who was seated onstage. The most memorable piece they played was the one from the famous album, "Vishwa Vinayaka". After the band, the alumni seated began to speak. Short speeches followed, recollecting the golden years the students had spent with their Lord. There were recollections of the tiny special things that Swami had done for each student and continues to do so daily in their lives. All of a sudden, Swami asked for the programme to be stopped. Swami then asked for the microphone and prepared to get up to speak. Immediately everyone realized the magnitude of His magnanimity in deciding to speak to them spontaneously of His own volition. Listening to the pleas of the Students, He decided to remain seated and spoke for an hour. Swami then received Aarthi and retired for the day.

Click here to view pictures of the New Year  & Bhagawan's Discourse

  New year Discourse & photos

December 28th, 2007 - Today Swami had set aside the evening for a very dear devotee of His - Sri Gopal Rao - who had turned hundred yesterday. Swami had blessed him yesterday but He did not seem satisfied with that. He came and took a full round of darshan and then alighted near the interview room. Taking a round around the portico, He came out on the stage and very soon asked that Gopal Rao too be brought on stage. Sri. Gopal Rao was wheeled on to the stage. Swami then called Prof.G.Venkatraman and asiigned to him the pleasant task of speaking in felicitation of Gopal Rao.

The professor deemed it as a special privilege to speak on this occasion. He spoke of how Gopal Rao's life had been saturated with faith and Love for Swami. He had been cured of a cancer of the urinary bladder in 1960s simply by the force of a word from Swami. And now, in 2007, he was very fine and healthy. It was his steadfast faith in Swami's word that made him stand firm during the Andhra Bank strike during which he was thoroughly tested. from the age of eighty till late nineties, he served water for devotees in the canteen. The professor's talk was very well appreciated and naturally so for it was the description of a most loved and respected centurion. In the speech he also made public a revelation that Swami made, "As per the scriptures, Sri Gopal Rao is not 100 but 105 actually!"
Photos: 27th & 28thDec 2007

As he concluded, Swami asked Gopal Rao to speak. A mike was placed before the centurion and the mike volumes must have been turned very high in anticipation of a feeble voice. Sri Gopal Rao boomed forth and his voice was surprisingly clear and loud considering his age. He started with a very recent anecdote. His eyes and ears were weakening and the doctors had prescribed operations. Swami came to him and told him,"Gopal Rao, you have seen enough, you have heard enough. No need of any operation now!" He then narrated of how he first came to Swami as a proposed translator and then was saved the blushes when Bhurugulu Ramakrishna Rao stepped in right in time. He expressed his deep sense of love and gratitude to Swami and also to RadioSai for giving him Swami throughout the day. He spoke for about 40 minutes and everyone listened with rapt attention as words of wisdom poured forth.
"Swami has kept telling that we are all God. All the problems are only because we do not seem to listen how many ever times He tells. I try to follow that and it is so elevating."

With that statement, he offered himself to Swami. Swami got Gopal Rao publicly garlanded by Sri Chakravarthi and there was a thunderous applause. Then Swami came to him and put a shawl to felicitate him. Both of them had an intimate conversation. Gopal Rao told Swami that he had seen all in his life and that He was ready. He had no desires left. He said that the whole day, he could not step into his house for so many came to see him. It was all Swami's love and grace he said. Swami got up and posed for photographs with him and blessed him so many times by placing His hands on his head. Swami was smiling so sweetly and Gopal Rao chose to speak through his eyes which were now shedding drops of Love.

God's love is so overwhelming and overpowering. None can resist its flow and grandeur. Swami gives up Himself completely to anyone who has said from the depths of his heart, "Lord, I am yours. I Love you." It was so touching to see Swami blessing and showering His Love on a dear devotee. After that was done, the time was around 6:40pm. Swami had prasadam distributed and then sat in a joyous pose as Aarthi was performed. Then He retired for the evening.

December 27th, 2007 - Today Swami had permitted a group of devotees from USA to put up a programme on Christmas. The stage was set in a very cozy manner. It was a small backdrop and the devotees - on both the gents and ladies side sat close forming the borders of a stage to put up the play. Swami came out for darshan and saw the backdrop as He went on His rounds. Then as He came out of the car, He went straight to Sri Gopal Rao who was celebrating his 100th birthday today. Swami blessed him and showered him with akshatha grains. Then He came out and sat for the programme.

The first part of the programme was a musical Christmas Play in One act taken from the Gospels of Luke, Matthew and Mark. It was entitled "The Boy Jesus." The play takes place in the day of the rule of Herod. Archangel Gabriel informs Mary that she was chosen to bear Jesus. Joseph and Mary wander about in search of an inn and finally come to a shed where Jesus is born. It is then that, Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar from Mesopotamia, Persia and Ethiopia reach the babe following a star and gift gold, frankincense and myrrh. Jesus grows into boyhood and impresses and inspires everyone with wisdom far beyond his age. Jesus reminds all that the kingdom of God is within one and all. The whole skit was interspersed with carols - Silent Night, O Little town of Bethlehem, We three kings of Orient, etc. The final song was Joy to the world and the children came front and sang out the final portions.

Swami called the boy who acted as Jesus and spoke for a while with him asking his name, place etc. Then He materialized a chain for him. Swami took some time for opening the link to put the chain around his neck. The boy told Swami, "Swami please do not trouble yourself." Swami smiled and Himself put the chain around his neck. Then the second part of the programme began. It was a musical program by the "Sathya Sai Singers of Southern California and Hawaii." For the next 40 minutes or so, they sang out wonderfully to the Lord. All the songs were with beautiful meaning and all directed towards Swami. After they concluded, Swami went into the interview room and came out with sarees and white cloth pieces. He gave gold coin chocolates to the kids who had performed in the drama and the clothes to the gents and ladies. After that, He blessed them all and receiving Aarthi, retired for the day.

December 26th, 2007 - Today everyone were eagerly awaiting Bhagawan's arrival as yesterday He had promised to speak today. Swami came and took His usual rounds and then came on stage. He first asked the Telugu professor, Sri. Veerabhadriah to speak. He was taken aback and we can sympathize with him for on a Christmas Day when the majority of the people are non-Telugu speaking no one would expect Swami to ask a Telugu professor to speak. But thats the nature of Love. It knows no reason or season and that is exactly how the Professor began his speech - with wonder at Swami's spontaneous Love. He spoke for about 15 minutes on the inner significance of the Cross as propounded by Swami. Then he concluded.

With a smile on His face, Swami rose to speak. There was a thrilled applause. He refused to use the discourse table. He stood up holiding the railings and then began to speak. Given below is a summary:

"One with anger is the one who commits sin repeatedly. God is Love and Love is God. All the problems, differences and conflicts that you see today are due to the absence of love. They are all due our imagination alone. There is nothing actually like difficulties or restlessness (Ashanti). There is peace everywhere. So I don't understand why you complain that there is no peace. When the heart is peaceful, everything around is peaceful. That is because everything is reaction, reflection and resound. And we get carried away by our imagination. Even our names are not true. Boy there! Whats your name?
(The boy answers - VIKAS)
This boy answers as Vikas and everyone seated here will respond in a similar manner. But if God is asked what is His name, He will answer, "Aham Brahmaasmi" (literally translated as I am god) That should be our response too. That is our name. And that is possible only if one has Love.

But we do not understand Love. We think it is physical or worldly. You are not one person but three. The one you think you are, the one others think you are and the one you truly are. What you and others think is only imagination. Who is your true self? It is the "I". This I is common to all. The Christian have the cross. How is it formed? Take the false I and cross it. Kill the ego to get the true I. All those who are born of Karma must realise, "Aham Brahmasmi". Then alone can you experience the Truth. Till then keep any names that you want. You are not born with the name. Parents have named you thus. Thats why when they are asked, "What is the child's name?" they sometimes answer, "We have not yet kept a name!" The name is only for identification.

There are so many people in this world. But there is not even one who says, "I am God." We just carry on this life with given names. Remember, your name at birth is Brahma (God). It is the principle of 'I'ness. It is not anyone else's creation but your own. Your own will. See here. I will and...(waving His hands, materializes a chain and puts it over the mike for all to see) Creation always has two aspects - Truth and Illusion(Maya). If there is no illusion, there will be no creation. But still, Maya is only a shadow and there can be no journey without a shadow. At the time of sunrise the shadow is 20 feet long but by midday, it is absent, under one's feet!

Love is the basis of Faith. None seem to know the origin of Love. The L in Love stands for Lord. Everything has come from God and to God it will return.Even a blade of grass cannot move without God's will. People may argue, debate etc. but is there anyone who knows the end fate. Without God there is no creation. The sprouts come up because of the rain. The rain is due to the clouds and the clouds are created because of the sun. The sun is the creation of God. Without God, nothing is possible. We forget God and remember everything else. If you forget God, you forget everything. Without the foundation the wall and roof cannot exist and there can be no life. Self confidence is the foundation. Self satisfaction the walls. Self sacrifice is the roof and life is one of Self realization.

Jesus was the son of the carpenter Joseph. Joseph stayed with a girl Mary who was pregnant. It was a kind of election time then. So they had to move from village to village. Those days there was no car, cycle or rickshaw. They used only a donkey. All the rooms were full then and they came to a donkey shed. In the corner in a manger, the baby was born. Joseph thought that it was because of the strain of the journey that Mary delivered early. Those days, the methods of calculation had not been developed. Exactly nine months had been completed. The parents brought leaves and hay and put an old cloth over it to comfort the baby. The child then was fed by the mother and began to grow.

Once there was a function in Jerusalem. The lad Jesus was lost in the crowd there. The parents hunted from morning to night but could not locate Jesus. As they wept and were about to go to bed, there was a knock on the door. Jesus came and said, "Mother I did not go anywhere. I was with the priests and learned men." The mother was very happy hearing this.

Jesus knew that the Truth lay in Him and that everything else was false. He roamed the mountains. When He came down to the river, he met the boatmen and Peter. There were some people knitting nets. They said, "Yesterday, we got no fish." Jesus worked His first miracle. He said,"Go over there. You will reap a rich harvest." He later distributed bread to all. Everyone hailed Him for the miracles. "Jesus is our Guru." they said. The followers grew and so did the enemies. Wherever there are friends, there are bound to be enemies. Jesus said that all were divine. "Brahmavid Brahmaiva Bhavathi" - (One who knows God becomes God) When He was asked, "What is your name?"
"Who named you?"
"I myself"
"Who are you?"
"I am God."
He was taken for crucifixion. He did not try to argue or explain as He knew that it would all be vain. When His mother cried at the cross, He said, "Oh Mary! The body is a water bubble. Why do you weep for it? None can kill or destroy me. I am the only one. All are sparks of my Divinity."

Jesus is not a mere mortal. He is totally divine. But some of the people had no faith. The same thing is happening today also. It is the faith that protects. Hold a stone and call it God, it will respond. Jesus was one who was very good. He gave food clothing and shelter to all. He said, "All come from me and from my will" Remember that everything is the will of God. People with faith will be protected. Faith is the foremost. People today have been blinded because they have lost the eyes of faith. Faith and Love alone are the cause of all creation. They are like the positive and negative ends of a circuit. Grow in love and trust.

Many foreigners have faith but they lack Love. Faith is useless without Love. When Jesus was questioned in the court he said, "Go ahead! It is only my body. I can do as I will." Everyone must have the Masterfaith. The rest is useless. You can achieve anything with it. So students,develop faith. Without faith, there is no life. Without faith there is no self. Even today, those with faith in Jesus have progressed. Whether your desires are fulfilled or not, keep your faith. Faith can make the blind see and the dumb speak. Never doubt. Somethings just keep happening in this world. People thought that Jesus was ordinary man. Likewise, many think that Swami is an ordinary man. That is a big mistake. It is all the fault in your sight(Drishti).There is no mistake in Swami. It is all the disease in your eyes. If you are good and happy, Swami will be happy. Swami's happiness is in all of you.

You are all in me. I am yours and you are mine. Do not consider me separate. This is the fundamental Truth. You are all instruments. Grow in faith and Swami will make you instruments. It is only the spiritual life that protects. If that lacks, it is only emptiness. Fill your hearts with devotion. God is in you, above you, below you, with you and around you. If you have to be ripe fruits, you must have the sweet juice of devotion within. Any name you give God, have faith in it. Jewels are many but gold is one. Never lose the gold. No jewels without gold. Grow in Love.

Students, you are here not for studies but for learning from Swami. If you have this, you will be successful everywhere."

Hari Bhajan Bina.....

After the discourse, Swami called the boy Vikas up in the front and put the chain the chain that was resting on the mike, to his neck. After that, Swami had prasadam distributed and then received Aarthi and left.

December 25th, 2007 - Finally, the day for which preparations had been on for the past week dawned. In Puttaparthi, it began with the Nagarsankeertan at 5:45 am. After that, Kulwant Hall was full again by about 7:30 am. Swami
Sai Baba with Santa Claus Sai Kulwant hall centre stage, Prasanthi Nilayam came out for darshan at about 8:20 am and was welcomed by children holding candles. He went around for a complete round of darshan. He was in orange and that was a sort of surprise again as many expected Him to be in whites!
 Click here for: Photos of Christmas from 23rd - 26thth Dec.
Four cakes had been placed for Him to bless in the portico. The cakes were marvellous to say the least. Two of them depicted the nativity scene so beautifully. The cake and icing formed the stable and surroundings while beautiful idols of Jesus, Mother Mary and Joseph had been placed to perfection. One another cake that could not be missed was the one from the General hospital. The icing on the cake was a literal 'icing on the cakes' made on Christmas day. Well, believe it or not, the nativity scene was painted on it with icing! Swami appreciated each cake as He lit the candle and cut them. It was after the cake cutting that Swami came out and sat on the stage.

Primary_School_violinsAs soon as He sat, He saw the primary school children sitting right in the front with their violins. He immediately asked them as to what they were upto. Two kids went up to Him and offered the card that carried the details of the programme. The violin concert began. The tiny tots played with beautiful synchronisation and in unison. The final piece they played was the famous Jingle Bells. Not one, but six Santas came up to the stage with their bags full of goodies. Swami smiled and as the Santas showed their bags, as though asking for His approval, He picked chocolates from their bags and put them in other bags. He also threw a few of them to the boys sitting in the front. The the Santas went about in all directions, hurling the chocolates to a gleeful crowd. Meanwhile, the violins became silent and the children bowed down to Swami. Like a mother, Swami called the children up in the front and gifted them with Hazelnut chocolate bars. Then came the beautiful sight as the Santas were at the receiving end of the gifts! Swami gave each of them chocolate bars too.Sai_Baba_cutting_ the christmas _cake

The second programme of the day was the one by the University brass band. The bandmaster and another student went up to Swami with the card bearing the programme details. Swami blessed the programme and it began. The band played four beautiful pieces and everyone applauded in joy and appreciation. Then Swami signaled in a sweet manner, "Is it over?"
"Just one more piece Swami!" was the answer.
Swami nodded in agreement. The band began playing the piece, "Love is my form." The whole audience clapped to the rhythm of the song. After that, they bowed to Swami and sat. The final programme was the carol singing by the students. Two students again took a card to Swami. Swami saw through the details of the programme. The carols began with, "We wish you a merry Christmas." It was threaded along by Fred, Scrooge and the spirit of Christmas (characters from the famous Dickensian play, "A Christmas Carol.") The whole programme went along crisply and everyone seemed to enjoy it. The students sang about nine carols and in the middle, the carol, "Jingle Bell Rock" was sung. It was at this time that the senior Santas arrived! They too received blessings from Swami and went about distributing that to everyone seated. As the carols progressed, Mr.Scrooge was getting transformed by the Christmas spirit and Swami asked, "How many more?"
"Swami two more"
"OK" was the reply with a smile.
Swami sat listening to the carols and at about 9:45 am received Aarthi as Prasadam was blessed for distribution. Swami then retired.

The evening programme had four speakers scheduled. Swami came out for darshan at about 5:10 pm. He went straight on the stage and after a short while of Veda chanting, He asked for the speeches to begin. Mr. John Behner of Latin America introduced the four speakers of the day - Ms. Inez from Argentina, Mr. Sumeet Tappoo from Fiji, Ms. Poppy Hillcoate from Australia and Dr. Michael Congleton from the USA. The first two Youth speakers spoke of the transformation Sai has brought in their lives. Ms. Hillcoate spoke of the joy she experienced in past Christmases at Prasanthi Nilayam, and Mr. Congleton spoke of the joy derived from selfless service. After the four speakers, Mr.Behner asked Swami to bless everyone with His divine discourse. The time was already 6:30 pm. Swami said, "All are tired now. They will be fresh tomorrow and then I will speak to them all."

A roar of applause made its way throughout the hall as everyone cheered at this promise. Swami was all smiles. He asked for bhajans. As bhajans went on prasadam was distributed and then receiving Aarthi, Swami left.

December 24th, 2007

Puttaparthi had undergone a transformation, like it always does on the different occasions to suit the taste of the devotees gathered at His Feet. Christmas trees, small and big, seemed to have sprouted up in different parts of the ashram. Frosty had arrived in front of the western canteen and a smiling Santa with his sleigh and gifts too sat on the lawns near the canteen. The climate too chipped in with its contribution, chilling the air and making every night into a truly "silent" and "holy" one. Though the air was cold, there seemed a warmth in everyone as they prepared for an evening of carols in front of their dear Swami.
Sai Baba - Christmas eve Sai Kulwant hall , prasanthi Nilayam- Puttaparthi
In the evening, the whole of Kulwant hall had been decked and a huge gathering of the overseas devotees waited for Swami's arrival. Swami arrived in the car and went around slowly granting darshan. He alighted near the interview room and came straight outside. Three big candles had been kept on the stage and they were lit in Swami's presence as He smilingly watched on. With a gentle movement of His hand, Swami halted the Vedam chanting and then beckoned the overseas devotees to begin.

The first part of the programme was the children's choir. The little ones began with shlokas from the Bhagawad Geeta adapted to the western style of soft music. It had a very pleasing effect and one could observe the effort that had gone into getting all the pronunciations clear. It sounded very pleasing to the ear and in the middle, during one of the shlokas, Swami began to nod His head in affirmation. What was the shloka being chanted? Ananyaschintayantomaam - meaning "whomsoever thinks of me without any other thought, I shall take care of their ultimate salvation without doubt." Anyone who could catch the import was thrilled - the others were thrilled simply seeing His reaction! There was a small enaction by the children for the carol, "We three kings of Orient". The choir lasted about 20 minutes after which the adult Christmas choir began.

They began with the triple chanting of the Ganesha Gayathri. Wow! What a great feeling it was as more than two thousand voices chanted it with the bass and alto harmonics, so natural to the foriegn throat, and sent a feeling of reverberation in the mighty Kulwant hall. 2007 years ago,(well, make that 2003 according to some as they say that Christ was born in 4 AD) the angels in the heavens sang out as the father and mother of Christ, Joseph and Mary, waited for the divine child to arrive, in a stable. Today the privilege of the angels had been given to the blessed humans to sing out as the Father of Christ waited to shower His Divine Love on them!

They began with a carol - "Listen". It literally made everyone sit up and listen as the ladies and gents alternated beautifully doing justice to the wonderful lyrics and composition. The carols that followed had been subtly modified and the devotees used them as a medium to convey their deep Love and yearning for Swami. There were smiles on every face and they reflected the Love being radiated from every heart. Some of the songs were fast, some were gentle; some of them had the power of God being expressed while still others reflected on His tenderness. They sang eleven carols and the final concluding piece was "O Holy Night".

As they concluded, Swami beamed with joy and benediction. He sent Prasadam to be distributed to all. Then, the conductor came upto Him and offered, "Swami, would you like some bhajans?" Swami smiled, "Yes please." With a quick swing of her arms, just like the way she had been conducting the whole evening, she signaled for the bhajans. The bhajans began in great earnest. As they progressed, Swami called out for a lady instrumentalist to come on stage. With a wave of His hand He got a chain with a pendant for her. There was bliss on her face as He put the chain around her neck. She was in tears of joy and was finding a dire shortage of words to express her feelings. Even then, her eyes spoke eloquently of the feelings coursing through her and Swami understood everything.

The bhajan, "Hari bhajan Bina" started and Swami seemd so happy. He enquired as to who was singing and the singer was blessed with a padanamaskar too!! After that, Swami received Aarthi and left. Before that He got it announced that the next day there would be a programme by the students.
Click here for pictures & more details of  Christmas Eve 24th Dec.

December 17th, 2007  - The talk in the air was that Swami would maybe see a "Burra Katha" programme by the students of the University. The students concerned were dressed and ready. Swami came out for darshan after the bhajans had begun at about 5:10 pm. Everyone had the feeling that He would go straight into the bhajan hall for bhajans. But as Swami got down from the car, a gentle smile danced on His lips. People had already started streaming in steadily into Prashanti Nilayam for the impending Christmas celebrations. Hungarians, Australians, Singaporeans, them and almost all were present. Swami asked for the wheel sofa to be taken outside directly.

He came and sat just next to the teachers block on the gents side. As would be expected, the enthusiasm levels of the bhajan singing shot up so much that the clapping outside began to dictate the rhythm to the singers inside. Swami was all smiles. He asked for Prasadam to be distributed. It was the ber fruits(medium sized reddish berries). Swami picked up one from the vessel an gifted it to the boy holding the vessel who accepted it gleefully. He also picked up one and kept it clutched in His palms. As the distribution went on, Swami threw the fruit in His hand to a boy sitting in the first line. The ber reached its initial destination of the boy's hand after bouncing off the steps and then in a short while reached its final destination into his stomach too! He then beckoned to the birthday boys who were sitting with hopes of sparshan and sambashan. He blessed all of them by sprinkling grains on their head and taking their letters. Swami, at about 5:40 pm, sent word for Prof. G. Venkatraman to speak a few words to the audience.

Clearly taken aback by the sudden opportunity, the professor reiterated Swami's message in the previous discourse on how Love and pure Love alone is the panacea for all the ills of the world. He said that in reality there were no problems in the world and that everything arises because man is not able to understand the inherent unity and underlying divinity of the entire creation. His talk was about 25 minutes in duration. After he concluded and bowed to Swami, Swami asked for the veda chanting to begin. It was a beautiful evening and seeing Swami gave it a touch of sublimity too. Swami too joined in the chanting at a few points and this acted as a trigger for very vigorous chanting all around. The piece selected was also the very popular Purusha Suktam and so everyone joined whole heartedly and full throatedly.

After about 10 minutes of the chanting, Swami waved the chanting to a gentle stop. Then with another smile, He asked for Aarthi. It was about 6:40 pm when Swami finally retired into Yajur Mandir.

December 15th, 2007

Today, a group of devotees from the USA had been permitted to sing bhajans as a part of their programme in front of Swami. Swami came out at about 5:05 pm. He came out straight and asked for the US devotees to begin their programme. The programme was one of chain bhajans. It began with Shuklambaradhara Ganapti Mantram and then moved on to other ones. It was a good blending of the different beats and ragas. Swami sat tapping His hands and watching them intently as they sang. The "chain" of bhajans got completed so to say, and they then began to sing "normal" bhajans if we may be allowed to use that term.

But the beauty of the evening came after the programme. In fact it came after the Aarthi was performed at about 6:00 pm. Swami did not move even after the Aarthi was completed. He called Mr. Bob Bozzani who was seated right in the front row of the American devotees. He told him to speak! Mr. Bozzani spoke very short and sweet and on the topic of reaction, reflection and resound. Everyone was thrilled at this extra dose of darshan. But they were totally unprepared for what was to come next. Swami signaled for His mike to be brought! Then He began to speak -- a summary is presented below:

"We bother ourselves too much with the world because of the difficulties we face. Everything is actually bliss. The Lord, who is creator, is full of bliss and so is the creation -- be it an insect, animal or bird. Difficulties and problems are imaginations of man. Pleasure is in an interval between two pains. You cannot experience the joy in pleasure without pain. Remember, whatever happens it is God's prasadam. Never consider anything as painful. To remove severe pain in the abdomen, the doctor uses surgery which itself is painful. Difficulties are ultimately responsible for removal of pain.

The crores of beings are in fact the product of the same Atma. The same God dwells in all. The names are different - Jesus, Allah, Rama and Krishna. The Atma is nothing but Love. The exact name for the Atma is Love. All of you have come from America only because of your love for Swami. This love will ensure that you achieve anything. Love holds everyone. Unity leads to success. It leads to Purity and finally to Divinity. I and you are one. Swami is not separate from you. You have to strengthen the feeling that "I am God". In that oneness you will find bliss. The mind wavers like a monkey only for some time. If there is Love, it gets subdued. What we have to learn today is that we have to love all because God loves all and hates none. God will never leave you and will be with you always, everywhere. Sarvam Brahmamayam. God is in you, with you, above you and around you -- you are God in fact. So you do not have to search for God.

It is only with the physical body that you have all the difficulties. Do not go by the form. Mind is a mad monkey and the body is a water bubble. The I is the real you. The true answer to the question "Where is God?" is "I am God." So I say, take love as the basis. Without Love, all spiritual activities are useless. If Love exists then there is no need for any other spiritual activity. To understand the importance of Love, spiritual activities are needed. All physical relationships are like passing clouds. Have total control over the mind, then you are moving towards realizing God. Love has no birth or death. It is immortal. This is the Truth and Truth is God. God manifests and moves about in the form of Love.

Your breath itself is God. If you observe it, it says, "Soooo....Hammm....." meaning, "I am That". The same Love pervades all. So do everything with Love, even if it is facing your enemy. Look at the enemy and say "Hello". Everything is reaction , reflection and resound. Nothing is impossible for Love. The creation, sustenance and destruction are all done out of Love. Since there is nothing beyond God, there is nothing beyond Love. Love is one and the same. It is pure and unsullied. Adherence to the principle of Love equals to loads of spiritual effort. Do not have differences based on the names as forms as Love is one. It is like this. You have rice. With it you can make either idlis or dosas or roti and with sugar, it can be made into payasam (pudding) too. But all these different names and forms arise from the same rice. God or Love is the same - made into different names and forms by man. God is beyond everything. If there is no Unity alone will there be diversity. God is the only one.

If you have a 1, put as many zeroes after it. Each zero gains value. But remove the 1 and all the zeroes lose value even if they are a thousand in number.Without God, everything is of no value. With God, everthing's value gets enhanced. This is the truth, howsoever anybody may say it. "Ekam Sat, vipraah Bahuda Vadanti."

Do not hate anyone. 'Help ever hurt never' is the quality of a true devotee. Being a devotee, it is not right to get lost in mine and thine. Do not observe differences. Swami's wish is that all should be happy always. Some say "today is my birthday." That is only related to the body. You are all eternal and immortal. Be happy always. Swami is very happy with your bhajans today. They were full of harmony and thus were in perfect unity. Keep singing bhajans always, throughout the day - from the time you rise till you sleep."

(Hari Bhajana Bina)

Then Swami so sweetly asked, "Is Aarthi over?" He asked for the Aarthi to be done! And so it was a double bonus for the boys and devotees selected to give Aarthi to Swami. After filling everyone with His mellifluous words and the vision of His delicate yet powerful form, Swami retired at 6:50 pm.

Sunday, December 9, 2007 - December 9th, 2007

From the district of Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh, thousands had flocked to the abode of supreme peace by way of a pilgrimage. Today, Swami had agreed for a programme to be presented by them. It was about 4:15 pm when Swami came out to grant darshan. As He went around in the car, the excitement and more importantly, the Joy was evident in the radiant faces of all the devotees. Swami alighted from the car and there were several rounds of applause.

Puttaparthi is a place that has grown with a lot of emphasis on discipline. Everyone is expected to be seated in their respective places and in this beautiful temple, the Lord Himself comes to each devotee to grant Darshan. Swami also stresses a lot on discipline. But on occasions like today, when there is the overwhelming outflow of devotion, it becomes difficult to restrain. The devotee, finding himself in a very difficult situation where he is not allowed either to shout out or get up and dance in glee at the Joy he is experiencing seeing the sweet Lord, takes recourse to the 'decent' and more importantly permitted mode of celebration - the applause. A round of applause carries many emotions at Prashanti Nilayam, but one thing that is certain is that it is a spontaneous, emotional and overwhelming outburst.

Swami went into the interview for a short while and then returned to take His place on the stage. The lamp being brought up to Swami to be lit and mark the beginning of the programme too has undergone a lot of transformations. Today it was a beautifully carved mandir fully in silver that was brought up to Him and He lit it up just as He had lit up the entire hall minutes before with His darshan. The traditional roses and dry fruits plate were offered to Swami. Finally the children who were part of the drama to be presented offered flowers to Swami. The programme was entitled, "Jagame Sarvam Sai Mayam".

The drama began with the activities of the Sai Youth in the villages. The joy of everyone sharing the feeling that Swami Himself had arrived to their village was brought out nicely. The father of one of the members of the youth, our hero in this drama, feels that his son is wasting all his time and energy on futile activities. Like all the deluded people of today, he measures the success of any activity undertaken from the money it fetches. He tries to drill "wisdom" into his son through a friend of his who has agreed to employ the boy. They are not prepared for a reversal of argument that the boy has in store for them!

When the eternal values of Sathya and Dharma are attacked, the boy resorts to the example of King Harishchandra. The king never gives up on the Truth even in the face of death saying, "Just because something impermanent is passing away, should I sacrifice the only permanent entity in this Universe?" Quoting Swami's words, he says that it is only adherence to Sathya and Dharma that can provide everlasting happiness and peace for they alone are eternal. "But they will not give you the money needed to live", exclaims the worldly wise uncle. "Swami's name is my greatest treasure. If I call out 'Sai', He will respond with 'Oyi' and if I cry out 'Swami', He will respond with 'Emi'. I may not be able to do anything with so little money, but with Him and so little money, there is nothing in this Universe I cannot attain."

Listening to the powerfully scripted dialogues, one could not but help marvelling at the conviction and faith of the writer. Swami also appeared very moved by the words being spoken. The whole drama was interspersed with dances for songs which again were very moving in their emotion and very powerful in their meaning. The dialogues had such an impact on Swami that in between the drama itself, He called the hero and materialized a beautiful gold chain for him. Again,the applause began, as Swami lovingly put the chain around the boy's neck. After that short "break", the drama continued. The final scene of the drama was one in which Mother Eashwaramma came to life with how much Love Swami had showered on her and everyone. She sang out her love for Him and it was such a tender sight to see the one with the Love of a thousand mothers well up with emotion on being reminded of His earthly mother's love. The final song described the beautiful image of Swami gently swinging on the Jhoola. Then all the actors and dancers came close together in the final formation. The Jhoola was also brought as part of the formation.

Swami called the scriptwriter and created a gold ring for him - an apt reward for the fingers that had created the writing which had moved thousands of hearts. He also told him to be a part of the group for the final photo. Swami went down in the wheel sofa and then to the joyous amazement of everyone around, said that He would sit on the decorated swing! He got up from the chair and walked slowly towards the Jhoola. Then, very gently, He sat on the Jhoola and the the people celebrated with another round of applause! Gently rocking Himself, Swami blessed everyone with smiles and loving words and pats. All the children were just diving at His feet and so sweetly Swami was telling them, "Sit down. Sit down. I will come." True to His word, after getting up from the Jhoola, He walked up to the stage, passing in between rows of Love hungry children!

After going on stage, He gifted every child with clothes. The girls got sarees and the boys got white cloth pieces. He permitted the Srikakulam group to sing bhajans which they did so with gusto. Two bhajans new to the Sai fraternity at Puttaparthi were sung. After that, He asked for the camphor to be waved after which He retired to Yajur Mandir.

Click here to view pictures of the Srikakulam programme

Monday, December 3, 2007 - December 5th, 2007

The youth from the northern states of Punjab and Haryana had arrived to Puttaparthi as part of their pilgrimage. Swami had agreed for both the states to put up their respective programmes in His presence today. At about 4:20 pm Swami went around for darshan rounds in the car and alighted near the interview room. He spoke to a few of the doctors and also some others as He made His way to the interview room. After a few minutes, Swami came and sat out and asked for the programme to begin.

The Haryana programme entitled, "God is the only creator" had a very unique beginning. All the actors involved came in a nagar sankirtan style Veda chanting. The chantings were very high pitched and all sat up straight to see what was happening! One by one, the members came up to Swami offering roses, cards and the details of the programme. One of them offered cloves to Swami which He accepted. Then the drama began.

The story was about a sculptor whose fame spreads far and wide as a person with the ability to make life like statues. The top aristocrats and bureaucrats of the region visit and lavish praises on him. One night, on seeing the beauty of the statues representing Sathya, Dharma, Shanti, Prema and Ahimsa, he prays to the Lord for the strength to put real life into the idols! Sure enough, God appears before him and fulfills his desire. But like it happens in the case of every man, ego takes over and the sculptor is on the road to his doom till finally God takes back the boons He granted. Soon the sculptor is reduced top a pauper and has a tough time fending for himself.

Swami often says that Talent is God. It has the capacity to transform lives if utilised properly. It should be considered by everyone as Swami's gift to us. With a single talent, we can bring smiles on a hundred faces and wipe away sorrow and pain from a hundred hearts. Whether its the skill of painting, music, athletics - whatever it is, God has gifted that special power to us because He felt that we would be able to wield it best for the betterment of everyone around. Talent is His gift to us and what we do with the talent should be our gift to Him. As the drama portrayed, we ruin our talents if we offer it to the world, to our ego in particular, instead of using it for God.

The sculptor gets diseased and is struggling until some members of the Sai Youth find him and tell him about Swami. He learns his lessons and finds solace at Swami's feet. The drama ended with a song of gratitude. After this was another skit by the youth of the state of Punjab. The skit was about an NRI who comes and lands in Chandigarh airport. There he meets up with some of the Sai Youth of Punjab. He is reeking with negativity about the country in general and the Punjab villages in particular. What begins next is a virtual tour of Punjab - with its great Sikh history and patriotic fervour forming the basis. Coming to know of the great patriots and the glory of the Sikh Masters who shaped the collective consciousness of the people of Punjab, the NRI is bowled over. No member of the youth brigade can resist from talking about Swami. The NRI is told about Swami and all that He has done. Wanting to make his life meaningful too, the lad joins the youth in their final prayer song to Swami.

Swami seems to be in mode to thrill the youth and set their hearts afire. He literally gave Himself to the youth. He waded into them and using the group photo as an excuse, He spoke and interacted with each and every one of them. He then gifted each and everyone with white cloth pieces. The joy and enthusiasm was evident on the faces of every youth member. Seeing them one felt that they are ready to do anything for Swami. It thrills the heart to see so many youth coming to Him from everywhere. Definitely a silent - read that as SAILENT - revolution is on. And this is a revolution of Love. Swami then told them to sing bhajans. After a few bhajans, He received Aarthi, blessed the youth with both hands and then retired.


Monday, December 3, 2007 - Here is a narrative by Brother Abhimanyu Kaul about Bhagawan Blessing the programme for the January Alumni Meet:

The meet proposals are listed here...

This morning He came out around 9 40 am and took a short round (no gents' side) and went in for Bhajan Mandir. He came on the chair itself so it was a nice darshan. After couple of bhajans He took Aarthi and came out. Some guests were waiting for him near the door. He started talking to them there itself, for more than five minutes. We were just waiting to catch another glimpse of Him. He choose to go back to Yajur Mandir on the chair itself. He took a round of the ladies' side, stopping at a couple of places to speak to devotees and collect letters. Then He turned towards the Yajur Mandir. There again He called a lady from overseas, spoke to her and took her letter. The crowd was on their feet -- ladies and gents. Something happened and gents side devotees started clapping. There was no apparent reason for the clap. But it might have been the prayer which translated into the clap and drew the attention of the Lord. And we saw His chair doing a 180 degree turn. There was loud applause as the Lord came gliding towards the gents' side. He stopped at a few places to take letters and also to speak to the groups. It was a full round of darshan.

As we were very few in number at that time, we went and sat towards the students side at the corner in front of the pillar, carrying the tentative program schedule with us. As Bhagawan approached our side we showed Him the programme sheet. He gave a very nice smile of acknowledgment. It was enough for us to get up and go over to Him. Placing the folder in His hand we said "Swami, we need your permission and guidance for our Annual programme on January 1st." He nodded and started looking at the programme sheet. We took the chance and started going over each and every point of the programme.

"Swami on 31st we are meeting for the village activities. We have identified cluster of 5 villages where we would be doing the camp". He smiled and nodded in approval.

Moving to the next line: "Swami we need Your permission to do flower decoration of the Mandir". He again smiled and nodded "Yes, Ok."

Moving to next line: "Swami on 1st morning after darshan we would be doing tree plantation work on the mountains here. Our brothers in Parthi have been planting trees in order to make the whole area green." Swami nodded: "I know". And next was "Yes" to this too.

He was also moving His fingers with the lines as we were moving along.

"Swami, we would like to again receive You at Yajur Mandir and bring You in the procession". There was a beautiful smile acknowledging our prayers.

"Swami we have a few offerings which we would like to make to you – Vidyullekha, Bridge across time and a magazine of articles (gratitude.... I mumbled softly) ..

"Then we have a short presentation by our Band boys".. He nodded.

"Swami, we would be presenting our service reports... all the activities from all around the world." Bhagawan's expression became very happy.

"Swami, we need to put a big screen for projection."

Swami: "Where do you want to put the screen?"

"Swami here in front of you". We pointed the place.

Bhagawan nodded in approval.

On to the next line: "Swami we will have songs in between."

After getting another smile we moved to the next line.. interestingly His handkerchief fell on the paper and Swami removed it to read further.

"Swami, this is a group presentation (pointing to "Our Swami... Our GOD") we need your permission for this. Few boys would be speaking Swami. Moderating…." Bhagawan approved it with eyes, nod and smile.

"Swami, boys have also prepared kind of play/burrakatha in Telugu."

Swami: "Ok"

"Swami we need permission to do that... When can we do ... on 31st?"

Swami: "1 & 2" (indicating that have it on 1st or 2nd)

"Ok, Swami".

Swami: "What is on 2nd?"

"Swami, with you." We turned to the next page to show Him that the time was all for Him. He looked at the sheet with all smiles.

"Swami on 2nd we pray to be with You, Your interaction with us." He expressed His happiness but did not say anything. His approval came through His eyes and awesome smile.

November 23rd morning, 2007

The day finally dawned! The day for which thousands had literally waited. From last night 11:00pm itself, serpentine lines of devotees had begun to form outside the Nilayam amidst heavy security.



23rd Nov. Birthday


The fact that there were not too many high profile guests did not make security any lesser from the previous birthdays. We came to know that the Anointing ceremony which used to be the highlight of birthday celebrations of the yore would be revived this year! That was a real wonderful piece of news.

On the day of His birthday, Swami came out at about 9:00 am. Everyone had their eyes focused on the Yajur Mandir and the procession began. It was a real long one headed by the Primary school bands followed by the Anantapur brass band, the Institute brass band, Veda chanting 'tiny tots' pandits followed by the stalwarts of the Institute. The best was reserved for the end naturally - Swami and that too in the wheel sofa much to everyone's delight! Like the sunflowers which celebrate the sunrise, the assembly of devotees celebrated His arrival with loud applause. To see God on the day He decided to take up a human frame to redeem all and confer joy is indeed a special privilege.

Swami's face lights up as He sees the devotees. He appears very touched. He makes everyone feel that the privilege is His to see all on this special day. But then that is the way the Lord always looks at His devotees. As He mentioned in the discourse yesterday, His entire life and being is only for the devotees. Swami slowly moved through the ladies side. Towards the end of the ladies side were ladies from His family who had brought all the items considered auspicious to be placed near Swami during the anointment ceremony. Swami went on to the gents side. A Mexican wave ran through the crowd as they rose to various heights so that Swami too could have their "Darshan"! One could see the uplifting influence of the Lord as people rose wherever He went. A plethora of cards had been made by the students from KG to PG to wish Him on His birthday and the whole portico was filled with cakes of varied colours, shapes and sizes. Swami went into the portico and then began a massive exercise in cake cutting. With great patience, Swami went around to each of the cakes that had been so lovingly made and made His 'mark' on them after 'lighting' them up. Then He went into the interview room.

Meanwhile the stage was being set for the ceremonies to follow. The Malladi brothers took their positions on stage. The oil to be used for the anointment was brought in a special silver bowl and placed on a highly decorated pedestal. Swami came out and sat on the stage. He asked the Malladi brothers to begin their concert. The brothers who sat facing Him, began on a wonderful note with the joyous celebration of His birthday. The songs were actually the poetic compositions of Santhisri Paapayya Shastri who was a great devotee of Swami. They comprehensively captured the beauty and divinity of Swami. Swami was very touched as He heard the songs. The other songs made comparisions between Swami, Rama and Krishna. Another musical composition was filled with puns on the word "Putta" of Puttaparthi. It was so poetic to the musicians' ears and so musical to the poets' ears! Swami was enjoying it and it was so wonderful to see Swami so happy on His 'special' day.

In the middle of the concert, Swami called Prof.Anil Kumar and told him to make the announcements. It was then that the entire "November" assembly, if we may use the term, came to know of the Anointment ceremony. The professor introduced the ceremony in its true grandeur making allusions to the birthday of Lord Sri Rama when Kausalya and the the sages with their wives would perform the anointment, applying sacred oil to the Divine locks. The first couple to get the privilege was that of Sri Ratnakar and his wife. They came up and after prostrating to Swami, applied turmeric and kumkum to His feet. Then, with the aid of a marigold flower, they applied oil to His hair. The next couple were justice Bhagawati and his wife. Swami was all smiles as He gently bowed to accept the oil that was being applied. The Mr. Indulal Shah and his wife went on stage. Indulal Shah was introduced as the Bheeshmacharya of the Sai mission and Swami asked that term to be repeated for all to hear once again. The next couples were Mr and Mrs Shourie, Mr and Mrs Gangadhar Shetty and finally Mr and Mrs Margabandhu. All of them were well above 80 years of age.

Swami's feet were so wonderfully decorated with flowers and turmeric. When one looked at them, it reminded of the Guru's redeeming feet. After the ceremony, Swami permitted the Malladi brothers to resume their concert. They sang beautiful songs which were apt for the occasion. The concert went on and Swami sat enjoying it. After a while, Swami asked for the prasadam to be brought out and distributed to all. At about 11 am, Swami told them that it was lunch time and that the devotees would be hungry!! He told the brothers that He would give them a chance to perform in the evening. Receiving Aarthi, He retired at about 11:15 am.

Click here to read detailed eye witness account of 
Swami's birthday darshan & photos
- Morning

November 19th, 2007

The Ladies Day this year was going to be a little different from the past few years. The morning programme was to be the "Godaan" ceremony where cows would be distributed to the needy and deserving. The cow has been considered as a sign of prestige and more importantly prosperity from times immemorial in India. The ancients would shower their grace on the needy by gifting them with a cow. The gift of a cow meant a gift of food, water and hence prosperity. The cow has also been accorded the place of a mother in Indian scriptures. Deserving ladies had been identified and everything was ready for the arrival of Swami.

Swami came out at about 9:15 am after the traditional Raahu Kaalam. He was heralded into the Kulwant hall by a procession that was headed by the Vedic chants with the Poorna Kumbham. The primary school band and the Anantapur band followed after which the beautiful smiling Lord who had decided to come in the wheel sofa arrived. Swami came up till the marble blocks and halted. He said that the cow distribution should start and that He would supervise it from there itself. Carpets had been laid out for the dual purpose - to give respect to the cows, the queens of prosperity and also to ensure that the floor affords grip to their hooves. As Swami sat, the cows came in from His right while the ladies recipients came in from His left. It was not a cow alone but a mother cow with her newly delivered calf that were being gifted. Swami blessed all the ladies and many of the recipients took Padanamaaskar.

After the Godaan ceremony, Swami moved to the stage. He first lit the lamp that had been placed in front of a tastefully decorated portrait of mother Eashwaramma. After that there were bhajans. The bhajans continued for about half an hour after which prasadam was distributed. Swami then received Aarthi and left.

The decorations for the evening programme were very grand. The lighting especially was a notch above the regular standards. Swami arrived and went around for the darshan rounds. He then came and took His position on the stage. The first part of the evening programme was the speeches by two distinguished ladies - Dr. (Mrs.) Hymavathi Reddy and then Mrs. Sowcar Janaki. They both spoke for ten to fifteen minutes each and Swami appreciated their efforts with claps at the end of their speeches.

The second programme of the day was a concert by Ms. Nityashree. She bowed to Swami and then taking her place on stage next to the Lord, began the show. It was more of an outpouring of a devotee's feelings for God than a concert. She thrilled Swami and so even the audience who enjoyed journeying up and down the scale along the highways of many a grand Raaga with her voice. It was a touching performance and it lasted 40 small minutes.

After the concert came the highlight of the evening, literally and otherwise too - the dance by the girls of the Primary school. It was an effort of bewitching beauty, gliding grace, sublime synchronisation and co-ordinated control. The special focus lights and soft lights created an ambience like that of the heavens. The costumes caught everyone's eyes and were a class apart by themselves. The theme of the dance was on the leelas and mahimas of Swami in His childhood. They were depicted with such elan that the dances themselves seem to sing out. The songs going on however lifted the overall atmosphere of grandeur and grace. There were girls of all ages and sizes - from the second to twelfth class, from the three footers to the six footers! The Vishwa Roopa Darshanam was very symbolically yet powerfully demonstrated. The myriad colours moving around to the beautiful rhythms of the soulful strains was really something that has to be seen live to be experienced.

They say that while humans respond to the results, God responds to the efforts that have gone in. Today the performance was such that, humans and God alike would have been very pleased and that was evident in the way the Lord and the audience reacted when the dance concluded. The applause seemed never ending and so were Swami's smiles. He rose from the chair and slowly walked down. Seeing this, the little "Sathya" of the dance drama rushed up the stage and in keeping with the nature of her role requested Swami, "Be where you are. We will come to you." Swami was pleased with this noble intention but how can anyone have the capacity to be nobler than the sweet Lord. That statement made is His from eternity till eternity. He replied patting the little one's cheeks, "Be where you are. When you have called, I will come." (That statement carries a lot of profundity.)

He walked down and posed for photos groupwise! Each and every child had the lovely opportunity to get a close photograph with Him and also take the coveted Paadanamaskar. After showering all the children profusely with all His love, Swami came up the stage. He blessed the prasadam to be distributed and then receiving Aarthi, retired for the day.

November 10th and 11th, 2007

There was a lot of devotional fervour in the air in anticipation of the 24 hour Akhanda Bhajan that was scheduled to begin this evening. Prashanti Nilayam in a few minutes would be transformed into the nucleus of a global sadhana in namasmarana which would continue through all the parts of the day and night. When Swami came out, it was very evident that the event would be a very special one. He was looking so beautiful and each of His smiles were so radiant. Swami completed His darshan rounds and then for a short while went into the interview room.

He came into the bhajan hall well in advance. He went around the bhajan hall suffusing everyone gathered with enthusiasm to participate in the bhajans about to begin. As the clock struck six, Swami lit the beautiful and huge lamp set in the centre of the altar to mark the beginning of the global Akhanda bhajan. The Ganesha bhajan began with great gusto. A few bhajans later, Swami wanted to go out for granting darshan to the singing masses! Every path that existed in Kulwant Hall was traversed upon and every being that was present there was immersed in joy divine. Swami had said long ago, "This sugar mountain will not travel to feed the ants; the ants themselves can come here." Seeing Him today anybody would conclude that compassion for the tiny ant had dissolved that resolution, if it was ever seriously entertained!

After the round, He came back into the bhajan hall. He sat not in the traditional corner on the gents side, but right in the middle, next to the Jyoti that He had lit minutes ago. Litres of oil had been poured into the lamp for its night long vigil and it showed in the brilliance of the flame. And beside the lamp was Swami - the ocean of Love in His Heart reflected in His beaming and brilliant face. As the bhajans progressed, the fervour doubled. Swami struck a divine pose and hearts surged with joy. If He would keep rhythm with His hands for the bhajans, the beat would echo in the clapping of the enthusiastic devotees. The bhajans went on alternating between the men's side and the ladies' side. At about 7:20 pm, Swami went back to Yajur Mandir.

With Swami's departure, people to rose to leave. But many stayed on, digesting the joy of the multiple close darshans that had been so graciously conferred. Shraddha (Faith) and Saburi (Perseverance) are the only offerings that the Lord asks for. Those who offered these to Him tonight, He granted a special blessing. At 8:15pm, a time when everyone expects Swami to have retired, He showed that the Lord never rests. "Mad Bhaktah yatra Gaayanthe, thatra tishtaami Naarada." (Oh Narada! I install Myself wherever my devotees sing my glory.) Swami suddenly came into the Kulwant Hall in the wheelchair sofa! Audible gasps and thrilled exclamations made their rounds as Swami went about granting all with the bounty of His darshan, slowly and calmly.

He then came into the bhajan hall and all the singers especially were ecstatic. As He sat for bhajans, He exchanged loving comments with some of the singers. After a very long time, we could see Swami out so late in the night. Swami sat till almost 9:00 pm before retiring. But as He went out, He promised, "I will be coming again."

True to His promise, Swami came again. It was at 9:45 am the next day! But those words inspired everyone to stay awake in anticipation of further blessings. The Lord's benediction is such that every endeavour with Him as the goal will always fructify. However we seems to forget that and so He resorts to words of encouragement and allows everyone to experience the joy of making efforts. The night long vigil might have tired the bodies but the recharge the spirits got is something that must be felt and cannot be adequately captured in words. Swami came in the wheelchair sofa once again and suddenly the bhajan singing became louder! The devotees thirst for their Lord. But if we just pause and ponder, the reality of how the Lord too hungers for His devotees will strike us. As He says, " Your bliss is my food." Today He definitely was well fed if we can say so!

It is so fascinating to see Swami seeing His devotees. He seem to look deep into them, sampling their thirst and purity. Even a taste of these qualities and He cannot resist. He moves towards them and both the Lord and the devotees drink deep the ambrosia of bliss. Swami came into the bhajan hall and sat; but only for a few bhajans. He began to move amidst everyone seated in the bhajan hall. He went out again and not only traversed all available paths but also exhausted the different possible directions of moving along them! It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that after a while, the students and devotees alike ran out of letters and prayers to offer to Him. The gushing flood of Love and benediction was so immense that they just sat and saw Him. Swami must have completed atleast three rounds on the wheel sofa this morning. He even went around the portico and bhajan hall a few times. He sat listening to the bhajans till almost 11:15 am and then He retired.

In the evening, the crowds had swelled and the hall was packed for the grand finale of the Akhand bhajan. Swami came out at about 4:40 pm. For the third time in a row, the car had been dispensed with. So dear are His devotees for Him and that dearness seemed to translate even into nearness. Years ago, fears had been expressed that Swami, in times to come would become physically inaccessible and very distant. Swami had replied, "For those who hold me close to their heart, I will never be far." Well, the veracity of that statement was there for all to see as Swami satiated everyone to their hearts content. He came into the bhajan hall and as He started tapping His hands on the arms of the chair, the bhajans picked up speed moving towards a glorious climax. Swami then continued His travelling spree as He went out again. It is really not possible to describe each of His trips around the devotees for they were so many in number and so enriching in experience.

Nostalgic memories came flooding as Swami in His inimitable style stopped near a block of boys and told them to make a path between them so that He could move over to the other side. He then went all the way to behind the main gate where all the vessels containing prasadam were kept. He blessed them and spoke to the people in charge as to how the distribution must be done. Then He came back to the bhajan hall. The final part of the bhajan session was filled with deafning clapping, vociferous singing and ever increasing tempo. To one lady singer who enthralled everyone and more importantly Swami with her bhajan, Swami immediately materialised a beautiful necklace in gold! He gifted it to her and continued smiling. As Swami concluded the bhajans with "Namah Parvati Pataye", the Aarthi was lit. What followed next was a rare scene as Swami sat for the complete Aarthi. During the last stanza of the Aarthi song, the priest waved the camphor at the altar by the sheer force of habit. Swami seemd to look at Him and smile!

As the aarthi concluded, Swami took up the role of the host ensuring that the sweetened rice (chakara pongal) and tamarind rice were distributed to all. He personally supervised the manner in which leaves should be distributed and the food served. Once the serving had been fairly accomplished, the food prayer, Bhramaarpanam, began. Swami too joined in chanting the prayer! At the end of it, He said, "Now all eat nicely." He kept cracking jokes and telling everyone to eat well. Finally at 6:35 pm Swami left bhajan hall and moved to the Yajur Mandir.



November 9th, 2007

The Kulwant Hall today was bursting at its seams. People seemed to have flocked from everywhere to celebrate the festival of Lights with their beloved Swami. 10th November also happened to be the Gujarati New Year day and so the Gujarati bias in the crowd numbers can be forgiven!! Bhajans began at 9:00 am and it appeared as though Swami may not come out to grant darshan at all. At about 9:15 am, there was a tremendous wave of excitement. Swami came out and slowly moved through the people in the Porte. There were smiles everywhere and they blossomed like sunflowers do with the rising of the sun. The beautiful property of these sunflowers is that, they start the day facing the sun and keep moving along with the sun throughout the day and at the end of the day, they are still looking at him. Watching the devotees look at their beloved Swami, one cannot but help thinking of the beautiful, bright and budding sunflowers!

Swami completed the rounds and then descended near the interview room. He was about to go inside, but then He suddenly paused. Diwali morning must be lit up and what a better way to do that than grant more darshan! On the wheelchair sofa, Swami came slowly down the portico. He was beaming and smiling. Now the progression of the "sunflower blossoms" was very evident for one and all to see. From the portico, Swami went for another darshan round in the direction opposite to the standard one. He was collecting letters and looking at people on both the sides. The East Prashanti balconies began to swell with ladies, mostly with those too old to sit long hours on the floor. An aerial view of Swami! It must have been a very enchanting sight for the thrill was obvious on their faces. Swami moved through the gents side and the people were all so happy. Cutting through the students, Swami moved on to the ladies side too. He granted darshan from close quarters and after going through the whole path, returned to the bhajan hall for the bhajans which concluded with Aarthi after a while.

In the evening, a programme by the youth and Bal Vikas from the state of Gujarat was scheduled. Swami came out about 4:30 pm. He completed the darshan rounds and as soon as He got down near the interview room, He enquired from the Brindavan campus warden as to how much progress had been achieved on the Convocation drama front. He took him and a few other boys to the interview room to guide them for the drama. At 5:35 pm, Swami came out and sat and asked for the programme to begin. The formalities (actually great chances in disguise) of the flowers and card offerings were completed. A cake was also brought up to Swami and He cut it. The first programme was a song by the youth. After the song was completed, there was a dance on the glory of Bharat. It was very a colourful and grand spectacle.

The final presentation was a combo effort by the Bal Vikas and youth. It was a drama on the right way to do service and more importantly, it brought out the true meaning of independence. India has become free in the political sense. But everybody are still slaves to the six vices of desire, anger, greed, attachment, pride and envy. True freedom can only be achieved when these are overcome. The drama portrayed how an NGO plans to shift its focus of activities from the village to the city in order to get more visibility. But when a flood destroys the village, the plight of the villagers moves the concerned people. Further, the inspiration from the Sai Seva Dal who do service, opens their eyes to the true meaning of service. Service needs no visibility and when done in the true sense, it escapes nobody's attention.

The drama was filled with many popular songs and the dances were all well choreographed. The final song and dance drew appreciative applause from the audience and the grand appreciation from Swami when He materialized a gold chain for the actor playing the role of "Man". Swami then very graciously walked down to pose for group photographs with the Gujarat youth and Bal Vikas children. After the pictures were taken, Swami blessed prasadam to be given to all present and finally granted His benediction in the form of the Abhayahasta. After that, He received Aarthi and retired.

October 25th, 2007

Today Swami had permitted cultural presentations by the youth from Assam, Manipur and the othe North Eastern States of India. By about 2:30 pm the stage had been set and all waited in readiness for Swami's arrival. Swami came in the car at about 5:00 pm. He completed the darshan rounds and went into the interview room. But not for long, He came out immediately and sat on the stage and asked for the programme to begin.

Announcements were made in both English and, surprisingly, chaste Telugu. The formal rose and card presentations followed after which the first item began. It was the popular Assamese Bhortal dance. Composed by the ardent devotee of Srimanta Sankardev, late Narahari Burha Bhakat, it was a dannce with brisk footwork and clanging of huge cymbals. The rhythmic dance was a blend of feminine grace and masculine power. It was performed for about 20 minutes and it built up to a wonderful climax. There was a very appreciative applause after it was done.

The second item was the "Dhol Dholok Cholom" dance from the state of Manipur. The Divine Radha-Krishna stories find their expression in these dances. Yaosang is a huge religious festival of Manipur and is associated with the worship of Lord Krishna and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The youth from the Thoubal district of Manipur presented this item. Their acrobatic skills were brought to the fore as they leapt around banging the drums in feet-tapping rhythms. There was so much energy in the dances that one could feel the vibes everywhere. The pounding of the drums vibrated in the inner beings of all present. The dance reached its climax with rapid swirling of the dancers with their drums along with a pacy rhythm. All watched with gaping mouths as the dancers made their final formation.

Swami was very happy with the performances. In fact, as the dances concluded all the dancers bowed and went back to their places. Swami Himself called all of them to come up to the front. One particular dancer dressed in yellow impressed the most with his acrobatic steps. He was the lead dancer. Swami called Him and materialised a green diamond ring for him. All the dancers simply began falling at His feet and He sat patiently blessing all of them. There was so much joy on all their faces. Satiated with the Love they had received, they began to file out but Swami was not satisfied with the Love He had showered. He called them and told them to sit around Him in a neat semi-circle so that group photos could be taken.

After the group photo session, Swami told them to start bhajans. He seemed to enjoy the bhajans a lot. Though it had become quite late, Swami sat for more than 5 bhajans. He blessed the prasadam to be distributed to all. Then He received Aarthi and as He was leaving, He blessed the copies of the group photos taken and said that they must be handed over to the group.

  October 24th, 2007

Thousands of devotees from the Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh had assembled in Prashanti Nilayam to have Swami's blessings and also had come prepared with a programme to put up in His presence if and when He permitted. Swami very graciously agreed to their programme and so the stage had been set by about 2:30 pm itself. Swami came out at about 3:20 pm. He completed the darshan rounds and then went into the interview room. It was about 5:00 pm when the interviews got over.

The Swami who came out to see the programme was so different. He looked so lovely and radiant. He was very enthusiastic for the programme to begin. In the beginning, as seems to have become the custom nowadays, the devotees got a beautiful silver lamp upto Swami and Swami lit it. Then a white marble lingam was also consecrated by Swami. The lamp was also very significantly shaped in the form of Swami's Sarva Dharma pillar. Then devotees from both the gents and ladies side came to Swami and offered roses. Finally two tiny tots offered the roses and then the programme began.

The drama was a musical entitled, "Samatha". It portrayed how the bombs, guns and advancement of modern science is not actually Power. Power lies in Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Love and Non-Violence. There were well choreographed dances to bring about the concept of religious harmony. The five values of Sathya, Dharma, Shanti, Prema and Ahimsa teach humanity that they are the true rulers of the Universe. There was also a wonderful dance based on Shirdi Baba who always propagated the unity of all religions. The scene depicting the glory of Haridas as he sang was also powerfully shown. Emperor Akbar asks Tansen as to how Haridas is able to sing better than him. The reply comes,"While I sing for the Lord of this kingdom, he sings the glory of the Lord of the Universe. Hence the difference between our singing is the difference between the universe and the kingdom!"

The climax was a patriotic dance in which the three colours of the Tricolour were used to bring beauty and enthusiasm among everyone present. After that, the final formation was made. Swami said that He would like to go down for the group photo. The children were overjoyed as they surrounded Swami. Swami smiled and stood up for the photograph. As He wended His way back to the stage, almost every child took the golden opportunity to fall at His feet. Swami then received Aarthi and left.


October 21st, 2007

Today was the glorious dawn of the Vijayadashami - the grand conclusion of the festival of Dusshera. In the morning, the shutters of the Poornachandra Auditorium were thrown open and people started filling the hall. The priests, after conducting the initial poojas on stage, moved to the bhajn hall in Kulwant Hall. Swami arrived to the bhajan hall directly. He distributed new saffron dhoties to all the priests for the special occasion. He also gifted silver ladles and spoons with which to make the offerings in the sacrificial fire. He then gave a bundle in which were packed many materials befitting the yajna and told them to offer it in the fire. All the priests made good of the opportunity to fall at His feet and seek His blessings.

Ah! How blessed indeed are we that God has come to teach us how to Love Him. It does not matter what path we take. It doesn't matter if we are liberal or orthodox. God's love is so pristine and pure. The mother never checks for the language or grammar of the child's cries. The response is immediate and spontaneous. Seeing Swami toiling day in and day out talking and acting out the same lessons again and again only for benefit of mankind is such a touching and humbling experience. God is not bound to anything and yet He takes up on Himself the task of Loving and guiding all. He teaches us the perfect way to make the perfect offering and then as the Yajna Purusha, He Himself accepts the offerings. What a perfect example of "Brahmaarpanam " and then "Aham Vaishvanaro Bhutva." Seeing Swami in action is seeing the scriptures come alive.

The priests then headed to the auditorium. All the people in Kulwant hall too rushed there. Swami slowly came on stage in the auditorium. He sat for a while in the gents side corner. Then He came right in front of the flames. Ah! What a beautiful sight! One for the Gods to see. The orange of His robe became one with the orange of the flame, symbolic of the Truth that the one offering and the one accepting the offerings are one and the same! The flames rose higher and higher and a gentle smile played on His lips. Ghee was poured in and the bundle that Swami had given was put into the pit. Swami sprinkled holy grains on all the priests and then even blessed them with holy water. The Poornahuti (ceremonial close) then was performed. The head priest and his wife went around the yajna fire and the Yajnapurusha.

After that, Swami went to the ladies corner of the stage where the "Sahasra linga" (thousand lingas) had been worshipped throughout the week long Yajna. He blessed it and then showered His benediction on all priests. The aarthi was offered to Him. As the priests then lined up to go to the Chitravati river, Swami sat next to His dear students who were chanting the Vedas. He sat on stage for ten more minutes. He spoke to a few students and then retired for the morning.

In the evening, Swami came out on stage after the darshan rounds. There were two speakers scheduled to speak today. The first was Sri. Ajit Popat and the second speaker was Sri. S.V. Giri. After the two speakers had spoken, there was a burst of Joy as Swami got up and agreed to speak to all. He did not want the discourse table and was very eager to get started. He began to speak even before the mikes were got! A standing mike was placed before Him and He began. (Given below is a summary of what He spoke)

Vijayadashami is a festive day for all but for a few it is also a very sad day. (overwhelmed with emotion) That is because, on this day, the old body is given up. But, the body is only physical and is impermanent. Laxmibai came to the previous body (Shirdi Sai) and He materialised two gold coins for her and giving it to her said, "Keep these with you always." (At this point, Swami materialised two gold coins and gave them to the translator.) These coins are made of gold and have that date embossed on them.

These are the coins of Sathya and Dharma and they will support and guide everyone. Truth is God. If one follows Dharma with Sathya, all problems will be solved. With Truth in heart and Dharma in hands, march ahead. No other sadhana is needed. If Dharma follows the principle of Sathya, all sins will be gone.

"Mamaivamsho Jeeva Loke Jeeva Bhootha Sanatanaha." God is one and everything and everyone are reflections of God. Rama, Krishna, Allah, Jesus - all these are only names of the same God. To know this Truth is more important than doing all sadhana, charity etc. Follow this Truth and victory is certain. "Ekam Sath Viprah Bahuda Vadanti ." The Truth is one alone. All the rest will pass away like clouds. And anything done with the changeless Truth in heart, becomes Dharma.

Nowadays, the times are such that we notice a new trend. Boys falling in love with boys and girls falling in love with girls. They live and behave like husband and wives. But how long is this? Maybe one or two years. Later all will change. It is only for temporarily satisfying the senses. This trait is seen right from the primary school till the Institute. When you love anyone, know that you are loving God. But that love is not permanent. It will change. True Love is changeless. The moment body is gone, who is related to whom? The body has senses and it is bound to fall. It is never permanent. But the Dehi, indweller, is permanent. The indweller has no birth or end; no bondage or liberation. This Dehi is Sathya Swaroopa. While leaving the body at Shirdi, Baba said, "Do not take this body as the basis. It will be gone. And then, none should cry. It is but natural that it will perish. Experience it as long as it lasts and then remember, it was only a dream." After Baba left His mortal coil, the body was kept for three days with the hope that He may come back. It was Abdul Khan who reminded, "Let us all remember what Baba told us." It was then that the body was taken from Chaavadi to the Samadhi. Remember, the body has its limitations. Each day, we are moving closer to the end of the body. So keep Love as the most important and fill your hearts with the Truth. Follow Dharma. These are the coins given by Baba. Sathya and Dharma are the most important. Keep them with you day and night - in all the three worlds and the three periods of time.

It is of no use to just verbalise all this. it is most important to work. No use speaking with the mouth, speak with your heart. Then alone will all this get imprinted. Lakshmibai's daughter asked her for the coins but she said, "It has to go back to the giver." All the activities that are done are only to sanctify time. But if you want to sanctify your life, you have to follow these two - Sathya and Dharma. Remember that you are all sparks of God. No other sadhana is as important as following these. Turning beads without transforming the mind is of no use. Whatever you say or do, base it on Truth. Discourses and the study of scriptures are only for "Kaala Sarthakam" (sanctifying time). For "Janma Saarthakam" (Life's fulfillment) develop a relationship with God. God's Love will never change. It is permanent. Develop that. Do not have any differences. Do not differenciate based on religion. All the different names and forms belong to the same God.

Matham (religion) is never bad. It is the Mathi (mind) that makes all the confusion and negative. Matham is that which purifies the Mathi. Very soon the whole country is going to be united. All will live as brothers and sisters for that is the Truth. Swami often tells "Lead your life with Sathya and Dharma"( sings the song Sathya Dharmamu Santhi Premalatho) Thats all that needs to be done. The Vijayadashami day is one to begin a new life.

Swami concluded His discourse with the song "Bhaja Govindam". He then settled in the chair and asked for bhajans to be sung.Two bhajans were sung after which Swami received Aarthi and left.


October 17th, 2007

This morning Swami came out at 10:45 am and went straight to the Auditorium where the yajnam was in progress. He then proceeded to the ladies side corner of the stage where the Poojas were on. He sat there witnessing the proceedings. Like bees around a honey laden flower, the priests all began to move to that corner of the stage one by one. Soon, the only people left on the main stage were the veda chanting students! The priests all gathered around Swami's chair and began chanting the concluding hymns of the day. Swami sat listening to that and then He received Aarthi and left for Sai Kulwanth Hall!

In Kulwant hall, Swami came out and sat in full public view granting darshan to everyone. The Veda chanting students had also reached Kulwant hall in their orange dhoties. Swami told them all to go into the bhajan hall after a while. Swami too went into the bhajan hall and told the boys to sing Aarthi. He also told the Veda teacher to do Aarthi! Swami left at about 11:20am!

In the evening, Swami came out at around 4:45 pm. Much to everybody's delight, He came on the wheel sofa and went around both the ladies and gents sides. He came straight on stage and after a few minutes, commanded the Veda chanting to stop. There were two scheduled speakers for today.

The first speaker was Sri. Rangarajan, lecturer School of Business Management Accounting and Finance. He spoke on how a grand "Karma Yajna" was also accompanying the "Jnana Yajna" going on in the Poornachandra auditorium. He outlined the essential features for every act to become a Karma Yajna, viz. should be done as an offering to God, should not be part time, should be done without expectation and so on. His talk was well appreciated. The next speaker was a 2nd year MSc student, Sri. Natesh Shankar Shetty. He spoke on Swami loving all of us as the Divine Mother. His speech was based on the bhajan "Janani Maa" and he brought out each of the aspects of Swami portrayed in that bhajan. He concluded by expressing his deepest sense of gratitude to Swami and also said that the speech opportunity was the best gift Swami could give him as it was his birthday also. As he concluded and went to Swami, Swami looked at him and asked (as if He didn't know), "Your birthday?" Then waving His hands He materialised a beautiful ring for the boy. Putting it on his finger, Swami blessed him. Then Swami asked for bhajans to be sung. After three bhajans, Swami received Aarthi and left. It was about 6:20 pm.



Here is a narrative by Brother Abhimanyu Kaul about Bhagawan Blessing volume 3 of the Sai Students Newsletter Vidyullekha:

This newsletter is available for download below...


Vidyullekha - Sri Sathya Sai Students Newsletter - Volume 3 (zipped pdf file, 7.3 MB)

Vidyullekha - Sri Sathya Sai Students Newsletter - Volume 2 (zipped pdf file, 2.1 MB)

This morning the students left for the village service early (around 7 am) as they had to cover villages that are far away. Yagna was going on in the Poornachandra Hall and only the Sevadal, a few devotees, Veda boys and guests on Portico were waiting for Bhagawan in Sai Kulwant Hall. Around 9.10 am Bhagawan came out. He chose to come in the chair itself. He took a full round of the Hall. I was sitting on the slope of the portico. As Bhagawan came close I got up with "Vidyullekha" in my hand. I had 9 copies with me. Bhagawan very sweetly gestured for it. While giving Him one copy I said, "Swami, third issue of Vidyullekha for You". Smilingly He took it and started flipping the pages. He looked at each page, pausing to look at the pictures in each page. He looked at the service section for some time and paused at Radhakrishna picture also. (This picture is from the 60th Birthday Telugu drama that Bhagawan scripted and directed: it has Sri S. Kumar as Radha and Dr. Siva Sankara Sai as Krishna). Somehow a last sentence came out of me: "Bhagawan, we are coming for January 1st... any message for boys?" He had a smiling face, Blessing, he gestured "Santosham". I took namaskar. Bhagawan accepted one copy.

October 15th, 2007

This morning was the scheduled beginning of the week-long yajna to commemorate the Dusshera celebrations. The bhajan hall had been occupied with students in saffron dhoties and anga-vastrams. There was the low hum of vedic chants as the priest conducted special prayers and Poojas. The priests who were to perform the yajna arrived chanting mantras. Soon, at about 9:10 am, Swami came in the car. He came into the bhajan hall to bless all the priests and the boys who had assembled there.

The head priest went to Swami and after a short conversation, Swami asked for the ceremonial clothes to be presented to the priests. The priests came forward one by one as Swami personally handed to them the Vedic clothes (if we may be permitted to use the term!)- dhoti and Angavastram. As soon as they received them, the priests went and changed into the new clothes. They were back in 5 minutes as Swami sat waiting patiently for them. They sat around Swami and began chanting. It was such a beautiful scene and was reminiscent of the Vedic times when disciples sat around the feet of the Sadguru and learnt the ancient lore. Swami at the center of the circle of chants looked so wonderfully Divine and glorious. After the chantings were complete, Swami told all the priests to head to the auditorium and begin the Yajna. He then went into the interview room. The priests left and message came that all the Veda boys too should leave.

All the students too left for the auditorium as Swami sat just outside the interview room and watched the procession of the boys. It was only after all the boys left, that Swami too left for the auditorium. Inside Poornachandra, everything had been kept meticulously ready and clean for the Yajnam. The flame was kindled in the traditional manner with vigorous stirring of a wooden rod on another wooden base. As the first wisps of smoke emerged, one priest cupped his palms and blew gently to fan it into a flame. The little kindled spark was treated like a tiny baby with all the care and concern. Soon the wisp grew into clouds of smoke and the sacrificial pit burst forth into flames. The orange flames rose higher with each addition of ghee. The two "oranges" on stage were brilliant- symbolic of sacrifice. Seeking Swami's blessings, the Yajnam began. The air was filled with chants and as always the scene filled one with a sense of wonder and awe.

At Swami's corner, the priest was involved in Surya-namaskar (Worship of sun through postures). He started with lighting up the lamp near him and then after a few chants, went up to Swami. He prostrated fully and then as the beginning of his prayers, placed a rose on His feet. Going around Swami, he started his day.

The Rudram and Chamakam were continuously chanted as the offerings continued at the yajna flames. Swami sat watching the proceedings till about 11:00 am. At that time, He permitted the boys to leave for Grama Seva. Bowing to Him, the students left for service in Puttaparthi. Swami sat for another 15 minutes and then He too retired.

In the evening, we came to know quite late that two speakers were scheduled to deliver their talks. Swami came out at 5:15 pm. He was on the wheel-sofa. He went around the ladies and gents side granting darshan. The gents side was filled up by the seva-dal who had just completed their service. As soon as Swami came to the main stage, He asked for the Vedam to stop and then told the vice chancellor to introduce the speakers of the evening. The first speaker was Prof.G.Venkataraman. He spoke very powerfully on how Swami's message alone is the hope for the new world. There seem to be problems everywhere and they are so strongly interconnected that no solution seems comprehensive enough. Swami's message of Love alone is the solution. The second speaker was Prof.Veerabhadraiah. He began with Swami as close to him as his father. He narrated in flowing Telugu, incidents from the lives of Sai devotees and had the audience paying rapt attention to him.

After the speeches, Swami asked for bhajans to begin. As per the recent trends, group bhajans began. Swami sat for the bhajans keeping beat with His hands. That brought so much enthusiasm among all others. The bhajans were sung with full gusto. After a few bhajans, Swami received Aarthi. As He was leaving, He told, "The bhajans were very good." Smiles blossomed on all the faces!!



OOctober 13th, 2007

This afternoon saw Swami on His "physical" blessing spree once more. He came out for darshan at about 5:05 pm and went around in the car. He got down at the interview room and went in. The bhajans were going on and Swami started to wend His way through the upper inner portico. The Grama Seva had begun today. Swami had specially instructed all the participants to forget all else and think only of service. He had said that they must serve with joy in their hearts and smiles on their faces. "The villagers must get hope and develop faith in God. They must know that God will be by their side no matter what." He also specially instructed that this time the chant "Om Satchidaanandaaya Namaha" must fill their being and the villages as service went on. Maybe this was Swami's way of rejuvenating tired bodies and enthusing the spirits.

Swami took a complete round in the portico and then went to the ladies side. He slowly moved along the ladies side and then via the centre students' block, moved into the gents side. He collected letters from almost everyone who was offering Him one. The crowds rose like giant Mexican waves only that these waves were timed by Swami's movement. After going around the gents area, Swami indicated that He would like to go through the students area. He again collected letters. He came near the area where all the birthday and tray boys were seated. He sprinkled holy rice on them and slowly passed by blessing each one individually.

The bhajans were going on in full swing. Swami had instructed that all should sing together. So there were no solo songs. The whole bhajan group sang as one voice. It was a nice feeling to follow the group bhajans. After completing His rounds outside, Swami went into the bhajan hall and sat there for more than half an hour. He seemed to like the concept of bhajans being sung as a group very much. At about 6:05 pm He received Aarthi and left.

October 11th, 2007

There was a build up in youth at Prashanti Nilayam. This time the youth were from "God's own country" -- Kerala. Everywhere the eyes traversed, only orange scarves were seen. Though the gathering was so huge, the discipline and silence were commendable. There were also youth sitting in the front in the marble block though a very huge gap had been left between the ladies and gents side. An artiste in Carnatic vocal was due to perform in the divine presence.

Swami arrived at about 4:30 pm. He went around slowly in the car and granted darshan to all. As He descended from the car near the interview room, he called the Kerala state president and enquired about the details of the evening programme. Then He went into the interview room. At 5:00 pm when all were beginning to think that maybe Swami would attend bhajans in the bhajan hall, Swami came out! As soon as He came to the centre stage, He said that He would like to go down. There were smiles and joyful claps everywhere as the wheel-sofa was brought down the ramp. With a mischievous smile playing tenderly on His lips, He came along the lines of the youth, down the marble block. He seemed to accept every letter that was presented to Him.

He gave that beautiful opportunity to all the assembled Kerala youth to express their devotion and feelings. If one travels with the sun, one can see the earth brightening up in its wake and the darkness just disappearing. That must be exactly how the students behind Swami's wheel sofa must have felt when smiles blossomed and remained on the faces of the youth as Swami kept smoothly gliding by. Swami's mere presence has such a balming and calming effect. Hot heads seem to experience coolness and cold hearts feel warmth! Everyone finds reason and ways to associate with His physical form. For some it's a touch while for others it's a smile while for still others it may even be the Divine neglect that they feel. "Swami knows I am here and so He did not look at me." But everyone feels that whatever Swami did was only with a purpose -- never by mistake! Well there was this student who, it seems, came third in the "lines" that come from hostel. And Swami apparently spoke to the boy who had been fourth in the same "lines" and had not even looked at the third place boy. This boy was in tears at the "grave injustice" that had been meted out to him. He could not believe that God was capable of such "partiality"! But he too felt that, Swami had purposely done it. So you see, every breath He takes, means something to someone somewhere!

Swami went around the entire gents side and then came back to the centre of the marble block where the youth were seated. He called a lad and began speaking with him. After interacting with him for a while, He waved His palm and brought out a chain. He put it around the lad's neck as everyone applauded in joy. Swami looked up slowly and then if one had a telescope, one could have seen another mischievous smile at the corner of His lips. There was something else in His "mind". He began to come down the marble block once again. And He moved a little towards the ladies side youth. Moving along their lines, He suddenly took a turn and came along the students. He accepted the letter from our "third place" student and immediately, tears of sorrow were replaced with tears of Joy. Again the boy was crying!

Ah! What we witnessed today is indeed representative of what Swami has been doing all His life. And yet He carries on tirelessly doing the same day after day. He went around speaking to some more students. He asked some as to what they planned to do during the winter vacation. He blessed the youth once again on His way back to the stage. By the time He was back on stage it was already 5:30 pm. Swami asked the youth to start bhajans. He sat enjoying the bhajans. He blessed prasadam to be given to all. He sat for bhajans till 6:05 pm and then received Aarthi and left.

October 7th, 2007

The store-room behind the mandir bhajan hall had been cleaned and all the things there had been neatly classified and sorted out over the last three days by the students and some staff of the Ashram. There were so many items and Swami had decided to give away many of these treasures. There were beautiful marble statues of Rama, Lakshmana, Seeta and Hanuman. Swami wanted these to be given to the senior boys hostel for installation in the shrine.

So, this afternoon, eight research scholars had assembled in front of the Yajur Mandir with the four-foot-high statues, which being made of marble, were very heavy. The statues had been decked with saree, dhotis and jewels. All waited for Swami to come down, bless and consecrate the statues before the installation in the hostel. Swami came out of Yajur Mandir only when the second bhajan had begun at about 5:05 pm.

The minute Swami came down, He glanced at the statues and immediately asked, "What is happening here?" The warden of the senior boys hostel went up to Swami and prayed to Him to bless the statues. Swami immediately came towards the statues. He sat before them and kept looking at their faces. He was so pleased and happy. Now the boys came one by one to Swami and sought His blessings. Swami blessed the silk sarees and robes that then went on to decorate the statues. The statues were also garlanded as Swami looked on. HE blessed the coconuts and had the vermilion spot placed on the foreheads of the statues. He asked them, "How do they look?" Pat came the reply, "As beautiful as you, Swami."

After having spent a few minutes gazing at the statues, Swami very unexpectedly posed for a group photo! The boys were all thrilled at this gesture. They also posed alongside Him. The pictures were taken. Then as Swami was going into the car, the photographer requested Swami to pose alone with the statues. And Swami agreed to do so! A picture was taken and then Swami went to the car to proceed for Darshan. As the car started, Swami blessed everyone with Abhayahasta.

In the darshan hall, Swami gave joy to one and all by going around on the wheel sofa for a round before going into the bhajan hall for bhajans and arati.

October 4th, 2007

This evening, Swami came out for darshan at 5:05 pm. The bhajans had begun and Swami went straight into the bhajan hall at the end of His darshan rounds. Swami sat for the bhajans till about 5:35 pm. He appeared to be very radiant, yet had an emotional air about Him. Every bhajan seemed to touch Him and as HE sat, He kept looking all around. It was as if He wanted His gaze to fall on everyone present in the hall. As the bhajans were going on, Swami called the secretary of the Central Trust, Sri.Chakravarthi, and spoke to him. The bhajan group dimmed the volume of singing and accompaniment as the conversation turned out to be a long drawn one. The conversation lasted for one whole bhajan. Then Swami smiled and continued looking at everyone. At 5:35pm, Swami went into the interview room. He came out at about 6:00pm and immediately asked for Aarthi. However, during the Aarthi, Swami came into the bhajan hall. He sat till the Loka Samastha was sung. Then, calling Prof.Anil Kumar, He had the following announcement made.

"Today is a very auspicious day. From this moment on till 7:00pm, in the direction of the airport, one can have the Vishwa Viraata Swaroopa Darshan. It can be seen by people - irrespective of their nationality,colour,caste."

A wide array of emotions passed over people's faces as they heard the announcement. Swami seemed to be the only non-confused soul in the whole assembly. A rare wave of chatter and excited talk broke out in the bhajan hall and Swami just left with a satisfied and loving look. The whole of Parthi and the neighbouring villages too seemed to get galvanised. All roads seemed to be leading towards the airport. The auto rikshaw stand emptied in no time and taxis were all full. All vehicles - motor and non motor- headed towards the airport and well, the scene must have been seen to feel the impact. Parthi must never have seen such a motorcade in its brief yet vibrant history.

To add to this, at about 6:30 pm, Swami's Porte too headed towards the airport. Parthi wore a deserted look as all its inhabitants moved towards the airport. The main road was clogged with vehicles and it resembled a one way. No vehicle seemed to be headed towards Parthi and all faced the South-Westerly direction towards the airport. Parking space was a problem, but the devotees went in the vehicles as far as they could carry them. Then jettisoning the vehicles, they proceeded on foot to the hallowed precincts of the airport. Swami's car was parked in the centre of the runway just opposite the terminal building.

Swami's car was naturally the focus of people's attention and the locus of the mammoth crowd. In a matter of 20 minutes, more than 10,000 people had assembled in the airport. It was completely dark and the only lights were from the tail lamps and head lights of Swami's Porte. Of course there were occasional flashes from cameras and the small screen lights of mobile phones. Chants of Sai Gayathri rented the air almost everywhere. Near the car, it gave way to frenzied shouts of "Bolo Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai BabaKi... Jai ". Swami sat in the car just staring ahead. He seemed to be waiting for something. The people were in a devotional fervour and if the runway could be relpaced by a river, the scene would have reflected the Maha Kumbh Mela.

All of a sudden, Swami's car that was dark, lit up as the interior lights were switched on. There was a mighty applause and peoples faces too seem to be lit up by virtue of the light being put on in the car. The crowd was now on its feet and the security cordon around Swami's car was now almost non existent. People were so charged and they wanted to just glimpse at their beloved Lord. There were discussions of requesting Swami to return to the mandir as the crowd was becoming uncontrollable. But then Swami did something that was so natural of Him. He asked for the door be opened and He wanted to go out and be amidst His devotees. The door opened and the chair started to move. But then there was a sudden onrush of devotees. In the darkness of the early night, the whole scene appeared like the "Kanyakumari- pearlnecklace" episode - only that it was now waves of devotees trying to offer the garland of Love, Devotion and Gratitude. The crowds were literally surging and people near the car requested Swami to go back into the car. There were repeated pleas to the devotees to be calm and seated but they seemed to hear none of it. A kind of mob mentality set in and indiscipline seemed to set in. Swami was still wanting to get out of the car and be in their midst. But the raging waves of devotees seemed to make that move physically impossible. They were almost squeezed flat on the sides of the car and it was physically impossible for Swami even to come out. For once it seemed that God was proposing which man was disposing!

The car now started up and waded its way amidst the crowd and parked in another spot. Somehow, swami wanted to be on the tarmac in the airport and it was purely His will that the car was still there. Such a scene would never have been seen and even today it was not being seen for along with the devotees, even darkness enveloped the whole airport runway. The chants grew louder and now people did not know what was happening. Swami was the only calm figure in the entire assembly. He got the car parked at a little distance away from the runway and then the same story was enacted. Swami wanted to come out of the car but it was physically impossible with the crowds swarming around the car. Meanwhile, the whole of Prashanti Nilayam was literally empty. It was reminiscent of how the gopikas would rush to Krishna, leaving their houses unlocked, forgetting whatever they were doing. Swami for the third time got the car parked at another spot. Again the same story - not able to come out.

From a distance, even in the darkness, the scene was awe inspiring to say the least. The vast assembly brought to the mind images of the vedic chant "Sahasra Shirsha Purusha". In a way, though Swami was not being "allowed" to do what He wanted to by the crowds, the crowds themselves seemed to symbolise the cosmic form. Often Swami says that when it is said that the Lord has a thousand eyes and ears, He is not a funny looking being. It is symbolic of Him pervading every being in the Universe. From a distance, this aspect became very clear. Moreover, the spice hungry media picked up on the heavy rumours which were actually non-existent. Many channels rivalled each other and revelled in trying to cook up the hottest gossip and gain mileage out of the spiritual phenomenon. The beauty of Swami's actions is that everyone benefits out of it. Whatever be anybody's motive, His motive is only the welfare and happiness around. He has not caused pain to one little thing in His whole life and led every moment of it for others. He does not care for the "taints" and "extolling" that the world may shower on Him. The Truth needs no verification nor does it change just because a majority refuse to accept it.

At about 7:45 pm, Swami's car started to head out of the airport. But the roads were all blocked. Even Swami needed half an hour to travel the 8 kilometres to the mandir. He reached into Yajur mandir only at 8:30 pm and retired only by 10:00 pm.

Whoever may say anything, in matters of spirituality, it is only the experience of the heart that counts. And it is FAITH alone that leads to the experience. Once man told God,"Why don't you reveal yourself to the world? Everyone can benefit."
God replied,"I would love to do so. But tell me how should I do that?"
"Why don't you do a miracle? A miracle that will stun everyone?"
"What sort of miracle do you suggest that I do?"
"Hmm....well let me see. Why don't you turn the whole ocean red?"
"My dear! That will not work."
"Why do you say that?"
"Because sometime back, someone asked me to make it blue. But today, you have scientific explanations for its blue colour!"
God then went on to tell him,"If you don't have faith, every experience seems co incidental. But with faith, every breath, every heartbeat, every moment becomes an experience."

The feelings in everyone who witnessed the divine drama were profound yet sublime. The experience, well, can be put off as co incidental and "nothing much" or it can be considered the fruition of the wait of lifetimes. Swami is Truth and Love.

October 1st, 2007

Today evening turned out to be one of those longer ones. In the morning Swami had not granted darshan. In the evening too, the clock struck five and the singers struck the harmonious note of the Pranava Om. There was no sign of Swami. A huge crowd of devotees from the western state of Gujarat had arrived. The thirst for darshan could be felt even on the cool floors of Kulwant hall.

There was an audible gasp of joy and relief as Swami came out at about 5:05pm. But Swami was in the car and the windows too were raised! They say that a drowning man grasps at even a straw floating on the water. Everyone craned their necks and stretched themselves to catch a glimpse of Swami. It is true that many times familiarity breeds neglect if not contempt. When Swami used to come out daily in the wheel sofa, many of us would have tended to relax our vigil during the darshans. Days like today better be remembered at such times. Each time we see Him, a mere awareness at what we are beholding will raise goose bumps on the skin. As He has said, "My moving amidst you is a boon that the Gods of the highest heavens crave for."

However, Swami took a detour after the ladies side and headed towards the interview room. There was an applause as Swami descended from the car. He chose to come out and there were smiles and even a kind of joyful laughter. Water seemed to sprinkle on the parched hearts and people in their excitement to receive the showers of grace, got up in their places. Bhajans went on as Swami came and occupied the centrestage. Swami sat there granting all their hearts' fill of darshan as bhajans continued. Four, five, six, seven bhajans went on. Swami suddenly turned and said something. Everyone thought that He was going into the bhajan hall. But He moved in the opposite direction. Moving along the teachers' block, He descended the slope towards the old-students' region. He moved slowly amidst the crowds.

And then, the Ganges seemed to gush and flood the moistened hearts of all the devotees. There was such joy that discipline took a backseat as it allowed devotion to become the driver. Especially the devotees from Gujarat almost formed a wall so that all could see Swami and Swami could see all. Swami went along the lines collecting letters, speaking and granting padanamskar. He then moved amidst the students. He took a turn around the marble block where the students were seated and went around satisfying all as He passed by. He blessed a new CD that the vedam group had released. He blessed the birthday boys and many took the opportunity to touch His feet. Swami then went into the bhajan hall from the back door! He granted close darshan to all assembled ion the bhajan hall also. Aarthi was taken at 6:05pm and Swami retired after that.

September 26th, 2007

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 programme.

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 Subamma."

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.

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