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Maha Shivarathri Celebrations
Maha Shivarathri has been among the most spiritually signifying events in the festive-galore
Prasanthi Nilayam. …and the festivity has had a unique trail to this Divine Abode that dated
back to the early 1940s when the Master in dweller of this Home of Supreme Peace, had come out
with the most significant declaration after the times of Bhagawan Sri Krishna, revealing The
Sai Advent. Shivarathri in the immediate Divine Presence of Lord Shiva Himself is the
uniqueness of the festivity in Prasanthi Nilayam.
The Festival of Austerity
Maha Shivarathri is the holy occasion when the jiva remembers and adores Shiva, who is the
life of lives and the Lord of all souls, who through His cosmic dance, a metaphorical
representation of life on earth, conglomerates the three acts of the Godhead, namely,
creation, preservation and destruction. Bhagawan has said: all that you find in this world,
mobile and immobile, is nothing but the Cosmic Dance of Shiva. This is wonderful, blissful and
beyond human comprehension…
Maha Shivarathri means 'the Great Night of Shiva'. According to the Sivapurana, this holy day
falls on the Krishna Chathurdasi day which is on the fourteenth day during the waning of the
moon in the month of Megha, though in some years it may occur in the month of Phalguna.
Maha Shivarathri Celebrations
Report & Images
Morning, February 23, 2009
An unprecedented gathering converged in Prasanthi Nilayam during the occasion, thoroughly
unmindful of the inconveniences that is natural for an assemblage of gigantic proportions, is
an apparent testimony to the inner urge of man to realise his essential Truth. The
enthusiastic devotees filled every inch of space available in Prasanthi Nilayam from two days
in advance in the run up to the festivity. One could see long disciplined queues making a
beeline, much before the first rays of the Sun peeped through the eastern horizon, to ensure a
place on the coveted occasion in the Sai Kulwant Hall. Anticipating a surge of devotees,
arrangements had been made to put up huge screens to show the programmes live to those who
could not have a good view from their spot. Such screens were projected on both sides, ladies’
and gents’ side in the Sai Kulwant Hall and in the Poornachandra Auditorium.
On the auspicious morning, Bhagawan came out at 8:30 moving gently among the devoted
assemblage, completing one full round, reaching the dais…Craning necks, glued eyes, folded
hands and prayerful lips, minds attuned to the ecstatic vibrations and hearts beating to the
melody of souls…He was the focal point….for the weak and the meek, rich and the poor, men and
women…for one and all…The special Shivarathri Cakes prepared by the overseas group of devotees
as well as by the students were blessed and cut by Bhagawan before He He came onstage granting
Over a thousand Youth from Karnataka, well trained in Rudram chanting were blessed by Bhagawan
to chant Rudram in the Divine Presence on the auspicious morning.
His Glory does not require any catalyst to express…Sai Kulwant Hall that was filled to
capacity reverberating with the Vedic chants, with every single heart beating for the form of
the formless one with eyes glued in rapt attention. Bhagawan sat through the session for
nearly an hour conferring Divine benediction on the privileged folk of Prasanthi Nilayam, His
students and the youth and the multi-thousands thronged to have a glimpse on the auspicious
morning! With the chanting of Rudram reaching its crescendo, the Sai Kulwant Hall became
verily transfixed in the world of Lord Shiva, with the form of the formless Shiva sitting
right in the middle, most nonchalant, presiding over the proceedings. After almost an hour
long sitting, Bhagawan called for Arathi and before leaving advised the boys and youth to
assemble at 3o’ clock for the evening session.
Speeches, Divine Discourse and Commencement of Bhajans
Evening, February 23, 2009
Divine Discourse, inspirational rhetoric by seniors followed by Akhanda Bhajan
were the highlights of the glitzy Shivarathri evening at Prasanthi Nilayam in the immediate
Divine Presence. In the afternoon the hall was occupied by the students, staff and other
devotees much before the scheduled hour. Bhagawan in His resplendent yellow robe gave darshan
to all assembled before occupying the centre stage on the dais. An Ice Lingam, an apt
representation of the Holy Kailash Mountain, the dwelling place of Lord Shiva, was brought to
the front as specially instructed by Bhagawan for the complete public view. The gigantic
lingam brought with special care by the Youth from Karnataka was made up of 600 Kgs of Ice, 20
Litres of milk and was 5.08 ft in height.
The session began with an address by former Vice Chancellor Sri SV Giri who dwelled upon the
greater significance of the sacred night, calling the festivity as a cultural representation
of the country, Bharath. Sri. V. Srinivasan, All India President, Sri Sathya Sai Seva
Organisations was categorical in expressing the greater benediction that befell on the
capacity crowd assembled in Prasanthi Nilayam to celebrate the festivity in His Divine
Presence. The third speaker, Mr. Ajith Popat gave an electrifying speech, an appetizer warming
up for the lofty Divine Discourse that was in waiting.
Hailing Mother India and her greater cultural heritage, Bhagawan said, having been born in
Bharath, people of the country have the responsibility to upkeep her cultural heritage.
Referring to the auspicious Shivarathri Night, Bhagawan was candid in expressing that many
nights that we pass could not be compared with the auspicious Shivarathri Night. The holy
night should be utilized in chanting His Divine Name. Exhorting to listen to the glory of Lord
Shiva, He said, when you spent the night in constant contemplation, it verily becomes
Shivarathri. Shiva is beyond physical form. We assume Him a physical form out of our
imagination. Hari and Hara are beyond the physical.
Click here to read: Divine Discourse on Maha Shivarathri, 23 Feb 2009
Dwelling upon the story wherein Mother Parvathi, being prodded by Goddess Lakshmi, questions
Lord Shiva of His odd credentials to be her husband, Bhagawan brought home the point quoting
Lord’s reply to Mother Parvathi that Lord was beyond names, caste and lineage; He has no name
and no form; He is changeless; He has neither birth nor death; neither beginning nor end; He
is eternal and Atma Swarupa.
Talking about the greater importance of meditation, He said one should advance through the
three levels of concentration, contemplation, and thereafter Meditation. Meditation is
resulting out of a steady unwavering mind. True identity with the Divine could be achieved
only by sacrificing action leaving the feeling of doer ship. May you experience any amount of
discomforts, never give up the consciousness. As a prerequisite to attain peace one needs to
start with Sathya and Dharma by rooting out all negative tendencies/qualities.
Referring to all the criticism being poured unto Him, He asserted that He is not affected by
any of them and He remains to be the same. He only has Love to give back to all of them as he
does not have any trace of hatred or anger. Bhagawan exhorted the assemblage of devotees to
follow the path of Sathya and Dharma and to Love All and Serve All. When Sathya joins Dharma
there comes Prema…While singing Prema Muditha Manase Kaho…think of Him, meditate upon His Name
wholeheartedly with Love. He concluded the Divine Discourse calling upon the devotees to Be
The Sacred Vigil that began with the conclusion of the Divine Discourse continued into the
early hours of the 24th. It was nearing 8:40 a.m. All eyes were glued to the pathway leading
from Bhagawan’s Residence…and lo! The dazzling maroon clad Divine Form emerged out of Yajur
Mandiram!…Bhagawan moved along the entire pathway, through the assemblage of devotees on to
the dais. On His way some of the staff members requested him to consecrate the prasadam to be
served to all devotees and the Lord obliged. Bhajans continued for some more time as the
prasadam was being shifted to the designated location before Bhagawan called for Aarathi. This
was followed by special prasadam, tamarind rice and laddu, served to the entire assemblage of
devotees. Bhagawan sat through for more than half an hour watching the prasadam distribution
proceedings before retiring to Yajur Mandiram.
Conclusion of Bhajans and Narayana Seva (Serving of Prasadam)
Morning, February 24, 2009
“Shivarathri was the festival which manifested most of the God that Baba is” wrote Sri N.
Kasturi in his narration about the festivity of the seventies and eighties. If God is Love and
if that Love has embodied in human form, He is bound to shower that Love…and it was that
all-encompassing Love, all-conquering Love that probably precipitated in the hearts of the
tens of thousands of men and women assembled on the Shivarathri occasion, to treasure as most
valued…to carry home…and further on…in the journey ahead.
text source: sssbpt.org -
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