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CHRONICLES OF HEAVEN ON EARTH
Adilabad Parthi Yatra, February 10, 2007
The beauty radiated by the ochre robed Lord was soothing thousands of souls in the huge hall. Sai Kulwant Hall was filled with bustle and life. Thousands from Adilabad, a remote district of Andhra Pradesh, had come to have a glimpse of their dear Lord. Booking a special twenty two compartment train and thirty three additional buses, 3,200 devotees arrived to savor the beauty of their beloved Master. We now bring you the whole event from the eyes of a current student pursuing his Masters degree in the Institute who hails from this district of Adilabad:
“As I saw them, thoughts swelled from the depths of memories. Thoughts that wondered, thoughts that questioned, thoughts that admired, thoughts that bestowed insights… …..thoughts and more thoughts.
Adilabad, my beloved district - the sparkling waters of Godavari, the roar of Kuntala falls, the peace and solemnity of Basara Sarawathi, the mechanized hum of Singareni coal mines, the chemical odor of Khagaznagar paper mills, the gloom of communist uprisings….. once appeared too far to be touched by Sai. But Sai spread forth in this district, slowly and steadily, pockets of bhajana mandalis chanted His name here and there, vibhuthi appeared on photos, amrit emerged out of idols….people flocked to watch these sights.
Some folded their palms in awe and wonder while many dismissed them as ‘only farce’. Yet all discussed about this phenomenon called Sai. Some called Sai a mystique monk; for some Sai was a chosen instrument of a holy God; some thoughtfully remarked “an active social worker”; while many said, “He must be one of those tricksters….and he will be exposed shortly.” But when the rational minds exposed His true nature they thronged to Him in thousands.
Rajanarsu is a respected employee of Singareni coal mines of Bellampalli. His entire family plunged itself into various service activities conducted by the local Satya Sai samithi. In his house amrit would miraculously flow from Swami’s photographs, vibhuthi would appear overnight in the shape of foot prints leading to the altar. Hundreds would stream in day and night to witness these unusual happenings. This flurry challenged the rational belief of the associates of the district atheist committee. The committee nominated a president and provided him able associates to firmly disprove these bizarre occurrences. The president and the accomplices with trademark unruly behavior entered Rajanarsu’s house and with despicable language disrupted the entire proceedings.
In celebration of this ‘victory’, the president called a party and invited all the associates to his house. With all the gaiety and pomp the arrangements were made and in mockery he even had kept a photograph of Swami in a corner. The associates lauded this act as an ‘innovative insult’. They raised their drinks and praised their ‘reason’. It was then that Sai struck the death knell. The president noticed a few droplets on the photo but dismissed them to be beverage sprinkled by one amongst them. But slowly the droplets turned into a trickle. It was duly wiped away. Yet again the mysterious liquid flowed from the photo.
It was wiped neat and clean, but, alas, the liquid oozes again. The photo was washed with hot water….Gosh! The liquid flows again!! Two days later the locality was agog with another surprise. The president visited the Bellampalli Sai temple and made a special request to hold a bhajan in his house. He said, “I would like to sanctify my house with the name of Sai.” He was one among those multitudes from Adilabad seated in the Sai Kulwant hall. As he saw Swami during Darshan, his eyes were moist and he quipped, “God exists, and today I have seen him”.
Kunchavelli is a small village with 800 households located in a corner of Adilabad. But that day there was something unusual in the village. Villagers gathered around a house and were watching a sight in a deafening silence. All that was heard were loud voices of the family members singing bhajans. The sole bread winner of the family died that morning. He was in his late thirties. He died in the hospital of a nearby town called Bellampalli. After the doctors gave the final verdict and announced him dead, the body was brought back home. One long hour of journey almost stiffened the body. When the members of the family saw their sole support dead, they did not despair nor collapse in endless sorrow. They brought a picture of Swami and placed it near the body. Then they sat around and started bhajans.
All the villagers flocked to see this strange sight. Thirty minutes passed by and suddenly the body shook. The dead man shouted ‘Sairam’ and sat up as if he had a bad dream. The whole village was muted in to a stunning silence, later they all raised their arms in prayer towards the heaven and cried, “The Lord of Elijah, Jesus of the Bible, God of Heavens has come again as Sai.” The entire village was there in multitudes seeing their God whose mere name brought back dead to life.
Each face had a different story to tell, each group had a unique experience to narrate. Yet all of them shared a common feeling – ‘Sai is our God and we Love Him.’
As they sat for Darshan on February 10, 2007, in the morning, Sai came out and enquired lovingly from their young and dynamic district president, P.Venkat Rao, as to how many people had come. He blessed the brochure, permitted them to hold the programme and made a special reference regarding the drama to be staged. In the evening Swami distributed special prasadam to His devotees from Adilabad. Late in the evening Prof. Gangadhar Shastry of Sri Satya Sai University stunned them into silence with an inspiring and thought-provoking speech.
Next day, the compassionate Lord showered His boundless love. He allowed them to enthrall Him with melodious songs. In return He created three chains and blessed those gifted singers. Swami then addressed the gathering for an hour. He said:
“Be truthful in life. Adhere to the human values. Let them guide all your actions. Satya gives raise to Dharma, which brings Shanthi. Be humane in all your actions and be worthy of the human life. Each of you is divine, realize this truth and lead your life in accordance to this.”
He then lighted a lamp, the ‘Chaitanya Jyothi’ which the devotees wished to carry back to their district and light every home with the name of Sai. Then He beckoned four kids and was enraptured with their vedic chanting.
In the afternoon, the devotees displayed the diverse cultural heritage of Adilabad in different traditional dances: Batakamma, Gussadi, Dhimsa, Chekka bhajana and many other items displayed in His presence. The District President said, ‘They will flow ceaselessly till eternity. These are our offerings to our beloved God. Our lives too are a part of this flow ….. Lord they shall flow to touch the hem of Your robe and be sanctified forever.’
After a spectacular cultural display the district youth staged a drama entitled ‘Sai Hain Jeevan’. The drama was about the role played by the youth in social service.
Through powerful dialogues and melodious poems, the presentation succinctly pointed out the miraculous presence of Sai in all their activities. Very aptly it ended on the note: ‘Sai is our everything. With Him we are heroes and without Him we are mere zeroes.’
Their talent was admirable and their feelings commendable. The Lord was, beyond doubt, moved. His tears said it all. He blessed them with a group photograph and granted individual padanamaskar to all the actors including the organizers. He told them,
‘Your character is very good. I will come to your place in a special train. I will build schools and colleges for you. Your children will be educated there. You will take care of them in future.’
This boundless shower of Love was a reflection of all those youth activists had done. They would rise early in the morning and would circumambulate the Sai temple in Bellampalli 108 times. This went on for nearly two months uninterrupted. I saw their bleeding heels, their swollen feet and when enquired, they all said, ‘We love our Swami and we want to stage a drama in His presence.’
These fiery youth of Adilabad mobilzed hundreds to undertake seva activities. With an able support of the district elders, they served 405 villages of the district. On the particular day of grama seva, each village would rise early in the morning with the name ‘Sai’ being echoed by the youth. Sai sevaks would then conduct high quality veterinary and medical camps. These camps are attended by the reputed medical wizards of Andhra Pradesh.
They would then hold an awareness camp for all the children and their parents. Later they would undertake strenuous physical labour cleaning the drains, building water tanks and schools, laying roads and much more. They built three elementary schools and connected eight highly inaccessible hilly areas to the main stream of economic life. Evenings would witness a grand procession of Sai in a palanquin. Almost each of the households, irrespective of their religion would receive Him with Aarthi and offer their heartfelt prayers. In the night the youth would stage a drama entitled ‘Maarpu Raavaali - We should Change’ and thus subtly but powerfully conveying the message ‘Be good, Do good and See good. This is the way to God.’
Hundreds of these innocent villagers too were seated in the multitudes that thronged to Him. Many of them, referring to these youth said, ‘He came to us through you and called us to Him. Today we came to Him.’
Sai filled their hearts and minds with His Darshan on February 12, and all of them left for their homes in the evening. As they walked out of the mandir, some were choked with emotion, some dug their faces in their palms and wept, some were lost in the thought of Sai. One amongst them remarked, ‘We are carrying Prashanthi Nilayam in our hearts and Sai in our breath. None can be ever separate us from His breath and His heart.’
One day prior to their arrival, Swami called the authorities and said, ‘My devotees are coming from Adilabad. Give them proper accommodation and food. Take good care of them.’ Later Swami called the district president and enquired about the status of drinking water and the number of rivers that flow in the district. He said that a direct train to the district would be provided very soon.
After the music programme, He called the music director of the group and said, ‘These are My children. Teach them good music.’ He called a kid and patting his cheek said, ‘Learn music well. Visualize me always in your eyes. In your next trip you will sing very nicely’ and immediately the whole group was excited for there would be another trip to Puttaparthi!”
Shivarathri Celebrations: 16th February 2007
The eve of every new moon night is considered an auspicious night for Lord Siva and is known as Sivaratri. The new moon night in the vedic month of Magha (February-March), however, is more auspicious because as legend has it, Lord Siva performs the Cosmic dance of creation, preservation and destruction, and hence, is known as Mahasivaratri.
The temples perform Rudra Abhisekham (chanting sacred hymns in praise of Lord Shiva) starting in the evening and all through the night. Devotees fast all day and the night of Mahasivaratri and break the fast the next day morning.
People gather together and sing praises or bhajans of Lord Siva. Some take the opportunity to chant the mantra "Om Namah Sivaya" all night. It is also common to congregate at the nearby Siva temple and pour water and milk on the Lingam. Many women worship Siva for the welfare of their husbands and the unmarried women make offerings in the hope of getting a good husband.
In His Shivarathri discourse of 1969 Baba explained the following details about the Lingam:
“The Linga is just a symbol, a sign, an illustration, of the beginningless, the endless, the limitless - for it has no limbs, no face, no feet, no front or back, no beginning or end. Its shape is like the picture one imagines the Niraakaara (Formless) to be. In fact, linga means - leeyathe (that in which all forms and names merge) and gamyathe (that towards which all names and forms are proceeding, to attain fulfillment). It is the fittest symbol of the All-pervasive, the All-knowing, the All-powerful.”
Now just think for a moment how fortunate you would be if you happen to visit the nearby Shiva temple to sing bhajans and are blessed by a vision of Lord Shiva Himself. Well, this is exactly what every devotee in Prasanthi Nilayam experienced on this blessed night of Shivarathri.
Tears rolled down the eyes of many a devotee as they saw their Lord Sai Shiva amidst them blessing them with His darshan while they sang His glory. As Puttaparthi metamorphosed into the mystical mount Kailasa and the ashram donned a celebratory look, huge crowds of devotees from all parts of the globe were pouring in to actively participate in singing the glory of God all night long.
Blessed indeed are the devotees who stood for hours together in long queues to enter the Sai Kulwant Hall to witness the festival of Mahasivarathri. Their long wait was over as Bhagavan graced the Sai Kulwant hall in the morning at around 8 a.m.
When the first rain lashes across the dry lands, the Earth expresses its joy by spreading the fragrance of its soil far and wide. The same was true on that beautiful morning. Parched hearts which lay hard and dry received the shower of His love as He moved amongst the devotees.
The Nadaswaram and the chantings of Vedic hymns seemed further to electrify the atmosphere. As Bhagavan entered the verandah the overseas devotees and the students stood eagerly awaiting His presence to cut the specially made “Shivarathri cake” they had prepared with great care and affection for Bhagavan. After cutting the cakes, Bhagavan went to the dais for the morning proceedings.
The senior students rendered a musical programme that lasted for nearly fifty minutes. Songs that glorified Eashwara were offered at the Lotus Feet of the same Eashwara who is now in the form of our Saishwara. The music program was intertwined with commentaries that spoke of the greatness and grandeur of the Lord of Mount Kailasa.
The students declared – “You are the Puppeteer and the world dances at Your tunes… You are Sambasiva, our Divine Mother and Father, we take refuge in You”. Towards the end prasadam was distributed and Bhagavan returned to His residence at 9:30 a.m. after receiving the mangala arathi.
The evening session made the Sai Kulwant hall appear very small. People hailing from different lands and speaking many languages, thronged the Sai Kulwant hall to listen to the nectarine flow of wisdom in the form of the Divine discourse.
Devotees were accommodated in the hall from noon itself. Bhagavan arrived in the evening at 4:15 p.m. Sri. A.V.S. Raju, a senior devotee of Bhagavan was the recipient of the Divine benediction to render his telugu compositions on Bhagavan.
This poetic rendering was followed by exhilarating, inspirational rhetoric excellence by Sri. Ajit Popat from the United Kingdom. His inspirational speech, a fine blend of Divine teachings, poetic verses from the spiritual classics suffused with wit and wisdom, was indeed a treat to the huge gathering.
In his potent forty minute speech, he said, “We are all assembled here with a purpose and the purpose is to contemplate on the journey ahead… and that journey is a journey Onward, Forward, Upward and Godward, and not Outward but Inward… and that is our duty.”
Sri Popat in his own inimitable way gave seven tenets for life that he preferred to call ‘seven ups’.
Wake up: We should wake up with the spirit of God. Let us listen to the ‘BBC’ – ‘Baba Broadcasting Corporation’ as soon as we wake up which is “Sathya Sai Speaks”.
Stand up: We should stand up to the conviction Aham Brahmasmi – I am Brahma. We are verily God.
Dress up: We have to make up our mind. Let us seek everything from God. Let us offer everything to God with no sense of doership.
Look up: When I go back home and touch the Lotus Feet in the shrine of my room at Prem Kutir (in London), I should feel and think that I am really touching Bhagavan’s Feet at Prasanthi Nilayam and look up to God with gratitude.
Reach up: We have to reach up to the poor and hungry. Recently in Chennai in a Discourse, Bhagavan said that when we see a hungry person, we should ourselves feel the pangs of hunger and rush to feed him. Bhagavan was reaching to the people by going in the roads near Sundaram so that they could also experience Bhagavan’s Love.
Lift up: Let us lift our brothers and sisters. Is it not our duty to bring people to Bhagavan so that they can also experience the warmth of Bhagavan’s love and bask in His glory?
Shut up: We are only a witness. Bhagavan wants us to become the eternal witness. In all our actions, we should have 100% involvement and 0% attachment. We should punctiliously follow His teachings. The excellent speaker ended his speech with a prayer to Swami to help humanity walk the path of truth and righteousness.
Now came the moment all hearts hearts eagerly awaited for. Bhagavan with a lilting smile rose to deliver His benedictory address at 5:55 p.m.
Bhagavan declared, “Truth is all pervasive...It is everywhere”...and lo! He materialised a golden ring substantiating His statement... “Everything originates from Truth. Righteousness emerges from Truth. When Truth and Righteousness come together Peace emerges and this is followed by Love. It is Love that brings everyone together.
From Love comes Bliss. With Love, there is no room for hatred and this makes way for Non-violence”, said Bhagavan. Exhorting the students to follow the culture of Bharat, Bhagavan declared that very soon all would recognise the culture of Bharat. Acknowledging the devotion of devotees from overseas countries, Bhagavan resounded, “All are one”.
The Russian blocks, both men and women in the congregation were the recipients of a special Divine appreciation and the group cheered back with raised hands in reverence to the Divine remark.
Pointing to the array of bulbs in the Hall Bhagavan said, “Bulbs are many, but current is one.” Speaking on the manifestation of Linga, Bhagavan said that He had received many letters from devotees and the doctors were also of the view that the manifestation of Linga strains His body and that His body was very important for everyone.
All have prayed to Bhagavan to save His energy. They were all of the view that Bhagavan should not strain His body to give this temporary joy to the devotees and that Bhagavan should retain this energy to confer bliss on everyone.
Speaking on the acronym of the word Hindu,
Bhagavan said that the five letters represent five sheaths and
five human values. " H – Humility...... I –
Individuality..... N – Nationality.... D - Divinity.... U –
On the free education being given to students, Bhagavan said that not a pie is taken from students with respect to their education, be it examination fees or library fees.
Bhagavan made an announcement that very soon He would go on trips round the world and that there are lots of devotees in Africa and Russia. “You are no longer Russians, you belong to Bhagavan. Russians, Japanese, Americans, Italians, all belong to Me. We have to learn many things from them. These overseas devotees go to all places that Bhagavan goes. They even came to Chennai in spite of all difficulties and expenditure.”
Bhaghawan concluded the discourse with an instruction to the students to commence the bhajans.
Bhagavan left for Yajur Mandiram at 7:15 p.m. and then Prasanthi Nilayam became suffused with the joyful Akhanda Bhajan. One of the bhajans often sung in Prasanthi Nilayam is: “Sada Nirantara Hari Guna Gao” verily meaning “Sing the praises of God continuously and incessantly” and this is what happened that holy night.
Devotees from all corners of the globe participated passionately, with many of them staying awake the whole night, singing the name of the Lord. Groups from various parts of India and the overseas devotees led the bhajans in turns, thus keeping the Sai Kulwant hall reverberating with divine vibrations throughout the night. Many devotees renounced hunger and sleep on this holy night and immersed themselves wholeheartedly in the Akanda Bhajan.
Shivarathri Morning, February 17:
The next morning the devotees staying awake the whole night singing bhajans were eagerly awaiting the darshan of their dearest Lord Sai. It was nearing 8:00 a.m. All eyes were glued to the pathway leading from Bhagavan’s Residence…and then the moment arrived. The dazzling red clad Divine Form emerged out of Yajur Mandiram and foregoing the car, Bhagavan went through the assemblage of devotees onto the dais.
As Bhajans were still continuing, Bhagavan asked Prof. G.Venkataraman, former Vice Chancellor of the Institute to address the gathering.
Thanking Bhagavan for the rare privilege of the most exhilarating and elevating experience of Maha Shivarathri in the Divine Presence, Prof. Venkataraman made mention of the recently concluded Divine visit to Chennai.
Referring to the official function organised by the Chennai Citizen’s Conclave, Prof. Venkataraman said that the meeting was indeed a most extraordinary one as luminaries from the political scene were sharing the dais with Bhagavan sinking ideological differences and offering themselves at His Divine Lotus Feet.
Making a special mention about the youth, Prof. Venkataraman observed that it was time for the youth to come forward with Bhagavan’s Divine Message to save the world that was in peril.
Speaking on behalf of the olde generation, he prayed to Bhagavan for a New Role, New Vision and New Action…to rejuvenate and move ahead. He pleaded Bhagavan to help them, the senior devotees, to take the Youth forward.
After Prof. Venkataraman’s short speech, the most sacred moment of the morning arrived when Bhagavan beckoned for the mic.
“Man is estimating himself to be great; without being human he cannot be a human being; if he understands the qualities and manifests human nature, he can be called a true human,” exhorted Bhagavan.
“Ego and attachment are the two worst enemies of man today. Man will loose everything because of the poison called ego.”
“Think of Mother and Father with gratitude”. Narrating the story of a person who was in danger of being killed, where instead of calling out God for help as Mother (Amma) or Father (Appa), who preferred to yell ‘ayyo’ helplessly, Bhagavan said,
“The divine Mother is ever ready to come running to you. Mother is God; there is no other God beyond the Mother; once we forget this fact we will have problems.” Bhagavan further exhorted the gathering to respect every woman with gratitude and serve them.
“Greatness does not lie in the number of books read; instead, it depends on how one conducts himself. By virtue of humility, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar attained a great name…” Bhagavan went on to narrate instances from the life of this great man who stood as an ideal for modern youth.
After the Divine Discourse bhajans continued as instructed by Bhagavan and by the time the bhajans concluded the students had the prasadam vessels neatly arranged in one of the corners of the Sai Kulwant hall, waiting for the Divine command to start the distribution. A few students went to Bhagavan with the prasadam containers, one had tamarind rice and the other laddus (sweet delicacy).
The distribution commenced immediately after Bhagavan graciously blessed the prasadam. The devotees on the other hand, displayed an excellent example of discipline. They were seated in neat rows which facilitated a smooth distribution. The students and staff served the entire gathering.
A special announcement was made requesting the assembled devotees not to leave the mandir premises without partaking the prasadam. You could see the joy on their faces as they relished the hot and sweet prasadam. It really was rejuvenating after the nightlong fast and physical strain.
Bhagavan retired to Yajur Mandiram at 9:50 a.m. leaving His children overwhelmed with His love-filled blessings.
Tera Pyaar Teri Yaadein – A presentation by X and XII class students on February 21st
This joyful and touching occasion was staged by the tenth and twelfth standard of the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School who presented a programme entitled Tera Pyaar Teri Yaadein, a combination of songs and speeches through which the students expressed their love and gratitude to Bhagavan.
Bhagavan arrived in the Sai Kulwant hall at 4:15 pm and straight away came to the portico. He called one of the boys and enquired about the programme, giving His permission for it to start straight away.
The programme lasted for about fifty five minutes and was a moving experience for one and all. Speeches were made in different languages such as English, Sanskrit, Telugu, Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil, Malayalam, Oriya, Bengali and Nepali.
In their own style through poetry, speeches or conversations, boys expressed their love and gratitude to Bhagavan. The boys shared with the audience the intimate moments they had with Bhagavan. Bhaskar Sai Krishna, a student of the twelfth standard said,
“Bhagavan, lessons learnt at Your lotus feet are lessons that remain etched in my heart. One of the most important lessons that I have learnt is that irrespective of my age at every step you are always there, caring for me and guiding me.
It was after the sports meet in my second standard that I fell seriously ill and in spite of all medications, my health showed no sign of improvement. I used to repeatedly vomit and was very weak. My parents and teachers were very anxious and asked me to pray to you. It was a few days later that one morning You blessed us all with Padanamaskar.
While giving Padanamaskar You asked me how I was and I spontaneously replied, ‘I am fine’. But, all knowing that You are, You, with the love of a thousand, nay, infinite mothers looked into my eyes and said, ‘No, you are not fine.’ Creating vibhuti for me You asked me to take it.
I took the vibhuti and my health took a ‘U’-turn for the best. Bhagavan, I am so grateful to you, for all that You have done for me, for all that You have taught me and, for all that You are to Me.
The undercurrent of the entire programme was love and gratitude. K. Dhananjay of the twefth standard recalled how he missed the opportunity to join Bhagavan’s school in the first standard, but then it was Bhagavan’s assurance – “Come in your eleventh and I shall give you a seat” - made ten years ago which blessed him with the unique opportunity to become His student in 2005! With a heart overflowing with gratitude and love, he said, “Swami, if anyone would ever ask me what love does, I would tell them that love can touch just one time, but it would last forever and forever and forever….”
The songs, speeches and poems were all drenched with this theme. Their education, their health, their life… everything they attributed to His love. Recounting a miraculous incident when Swami gave him a new life, Sri Chakra Sai, said, “When I was a little boy barely 5 years old, I was extremely sick. I was always running with a fever and cough. No ice creams, no fruits, no sweets. My life was terrible. Then one fine day, our family came to Brindavan for Swami’s darshan.
He blessed everyone, except us. That day was Narayan Seva day. Swami again came out and walking straight to me picked up a fistful of chocolates and showered them on me. One chocolate touched my chest and lo! My heart boosted. I was absolutely fine from that moment onwards. No fever. No cough. Added to it, that year I was blessed to join the Primary school and the first special item I got was an ice cream! Swami you miraculously cured me and you saved my mother’s life too. On a solitary night when my mother was all alone, You came in the guise of an auto driver and brought her home safely. In every step our family has taken we have always felt Your presence. We are ever grateful to You Swami.”
Sri Chakra Sai then sang a poignant couplet that reflected not only his feelings but the emotions of every student gathered there.
“Mother of mine
You gave to me
The students dressed up in their traditional attire rendered heartwarming speeches in their mother-tongue and dedicated it as an offering to their Mother Sai. Apart from short speeches in various languages covering the whole geographic span of India, ranging from Nepali to Punjabi, and Tamil to Marathi, the presentation also included a vibrant dance that expressed the joyous moments the students spent under the compassionate care of Bhagavan. Interspersed with speeches were scintillating songs in different tongues - Telugu, Hindi and English.
Needless to say, Bhagavan was extremely touched with the presentation so suffused with pure feelings emanating from their devotion-filled hearts. So pleased was the Lord that He beckoned them near and materialized vibhuti for the mainstays of the program. He then spent some time with them, keenly looking at their extremely innovative card that had a laptop encased within it. Bhagavan, who looked fascinated by the creativity, saw the entire video presentation that relived the intimate moments the boys shared with their Mother Sai.
In the end, Swami blessed the pens the boys held for success in their forthcoming board examinations and assured them good results. At the same time, He said, “Develop good character and live up to it when you go outside.” All in all, it was a very memorable evening not only for the school boys but for everyone present who could witness the sweet relationship that always exists between Bhagavan and His students.
Chinese New Year Celebrations: 23rd & 24th February, 2007
Thousands of Chinese devotees hailing from six South East Asian countries of Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan and Hong Kong assembled at the Lotus Feet of their Beloved Lord Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba to begin their new year on an auspicious note. The whole ashram was beautifully decorated with many festoons, traditional Chinese red buntings, and photos and sayings of Bhagavan. Large colorful hoardings contained many quotes on the theme of the Chinese New Year celebrations: ‘Filial Piety’.
The festivities began on the evening of 23rd February. On this holy occasion, 36 Buddhist monks from the four major sects of Tibetan Buddhism namely Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug assembled in Prasanthi Nilayam to pay their obeisance to Lord Sai Buddha. After Bhagavan granted darshan, He permitted the programme to commence.
Two children offered flowers to Bhagavan. Then, a monk from each of the sects presented ‘Kata’ to Bhagavan. The Kata is a sacred cloth and an auspicious symbol that is presented to Lord Buddha praying for His grace in successful chanting of mantras. They also presented other sacred and auspicious symbols like ‘Dharmachakra’ (symbolising the wheel of transformation wrought by Buddha Dharma), ‘Amitayu Tanka’ (a painting of a deity who bestows long life), ‘Stupa’ (a replica of the religious monument that is in the shape of Lord Buddha seated in a meditative posture) and ‘Chenrizig Mandala’ (a three-dimensional geometrical representation of the universe).
Then the monks commenced the chanting of the sacred mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum”. This six-syllable mantra is supposed to contain all aspects of the 84,000 sections of Lord Buddha’s teachings and is believed to generate love, compassion and positive feelings that will uplift the world. The second mantra that was chanted was ‘Samantabhadra’ or the ‘King of Prayers’. This mantra helps in awakening the mind and guiding it on the path of enlightenment towards Buddhahood, and also for universal peace.
Following this, the monks chanted a special mantra dedicated to Bhagavan composed by His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje.
The mantra seeks to have an eternal vision of the beautiful form of Lord Sai. This was followed by recitation of the Gayathri Mantra. At the end of the chanting session, as is the Buddhist custom, the merits accrued by the chanting of all the mantras and all the good deeds involved in the holy activity were dedicated for the greater health and happiness of all beings in the universe.
Following this, Capt. Ong, a devotee from Singapore addressed the gathering. Elaborating on the significance of the mantra ‘Samantabhadra’, he said that it is a compilation of teachings received by a person named Sudana, as he progresses on his spiritual journey through 52 masters culminating in his finding the realized master Samantabhadra.
Captain Ong said that perhaps he too would have passed under the tutelage of 52 such masters in his past lives, as a result of which he has now found refuge at the lotus Feet of his Samantabhadra, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
The evening programme concluded with Bhajans and Bhagavan graciously granted photographs to all the monks and participants of the programme.
24 th February, 2007 heralded the beginning of the Chinese New Year – the year of the pig as per the Chinese zodiac. At 8.30 a.m, Bhagavan was led in to Sai Kulwant Hall in a procession by grand and colourful pageantry of lion dancers and men dressed in Chinese regal attire to the accompaniment of drum beats. He then came on to the dais and lit candles kept on a table that also had a statue of Lord Buddha and other traditional Chinese items laid out such as tea cups and mandarins.
Then Mr. Billy Fong Goon Poy, the Organising Chairman of the Chinese New Year Celebrations 2007, addressed the gathering. He began by saying that though the people of China and India look different, there are many similarities in their culture and beliefs.
There are many parallels to the Hindu pantheon of gods like the Monkey-God Hanuman (who is immortal and known for his super-human strength) and Goddess Lakshmi (who bestows prosperity and welfare) in Chinese belief.
But by far the most striking aspect of commonality is the emphasis both cultures place on filial piety, the love and respect that one should have for one’s parents. While Indian culture declares – “Matha, Pitha, Guru Daivam”, that one should worship one’s parents, teachers and guru as God, the Chinese declare ‘Xiao’ or filial piety as the paramount virtue every human should possess.
He concluded by praying to Bhagavan that He should bless the Chinese people that more and more will come each year to Prasanthi Nilayam to celebrate the Chinese New Year, so much so that not just the Sai Kulwant Hall but even the Hillview Stadium should be filled with Chinese devotees!
After the speech, items like tea, mandarin, a special kind of cake, etc., considered auspicious in the Chinese tradition were offered to Bhagavan. Bhagavan also blessed and released a commemorative book on this occasion.
Then a group of students from the Sri Sathya Sai Education in Human Values Programme from Malaysia recited Vedic mantras and also selected stanzas from “Di Zi Gui” that lays down the code of conduct for children and students.
Each of those Chinese stanzas was followed by its meaning in English and depicted through dialogues from day to day happenings in our lives. The sweet voices of the little ones and the catchy melody were a treat to everyone’s ears.
This was followed by a choir presentation by the youth members. They sang traditional New Year Day songs and also some Bhajans in Chinese language.
The afternoon programme consisted of a drama titled – ‘My Parents, My Treasure’. The story revolved around a businessman Mr. Chin Keong, a widower with four young children and an aging father, and how each day he struggled to attend to their needs in addition to his professional responsibilities. One day he feels that he will no longer be able to devote his time and energy to all of them and so decides to send his aged father to an old age home.
Apart from the loneliness and isolation that he would have to face, Keong’s father is shocked that his son is going against the age-old Chinese practice and fundamental virtue of filial piety. Kim Leng, one of his grandsons, realises the trauma that his grandfather is going through, and the conversation between them beautifully brings out the importance of upholding filial piety through epic tales and the folklores of Chinese tradition and culture.
The drama concludes on an emotional, yet happy note where Kim convinces his father to keep his grandfather at home. The drama vividly captured the dilemma that every man faces in his daily life – the conflict between the age-old wisdom of profound ancient cultures and on one hand and the modern convenient material lifestyle on the other hand. At the end of the drama, Bhagavan granted photographs to all the participants. The evening concluded with Bhajans and Arati.
Bhagavan’s love brings people together in the spirit of unity. The month of February witnessed this in the form of Maha Shivarathri and Chinese New Year where devotees from different parts of the globe gathered at the lotus Feet. This serene ever-flowing saga of love will continue to flow in all its grandeur, month after month, sanctifying the entire year. As we march into the month of March, we shall see for ourselves how devotees, like honeybees get attracted to the eternally blooming flower that is Sai to cherish the nectar of bliss. The pages of the Prasanthi Diary will be extremely joyous to share with you a complete account next month. Till then, Sairam.
Jai Sai Ram.
- Heart2Heart Team
Heart2Heart March issue
1. THE CHENNAI CITIZENS’ CONCLAVE
2. PRASHANTI DIARY
3. Love Flows... in Chennai - Photo Album