|Volume 4 - Issue 03
CHRONICLES OF HEAVEN ON EARTH
WITH A SPECIAL REPORT FROM BRINDAVAN
As most of you are probably aware, Swami stayed in His "Trayee Brindavan" home in Whitefield, Bangalore continuously from January 20th, 2006 and returned to Parthi only on February 18th. As this chronicle covers His sojourn there for this period, it was suggested that perhaps this month's chronicle be relabelled as "Brindavan Diary". But as prashanti - the peace that passeth all understanding - in the fullest sense of the term is extant only where He stays, we decided to let the name remain unchanged and we hope that you concur with our view that prashanti is more a state of the mind and heart and not just a mere geographical term.
And while we type these words, we are also reminded of an incident that occurred just before the 75th birthday in the year 2000, which we will recall even at the risk of digressing from the main theme. As most of you know, once every five years all the Ashram buildings get re-painted. Hence all the buildings in the Ashram had just been given a new coat. From where Swami was standing on the veranda, He could see how the name on the East Prashanti Blocks had just been painted in big bright red letters. He read it out loud - "East Prashanti " and then turning to the students remarked in Telugu, "Prashanti ki direction undaa?" - Does prashanti have a direction also? It is very clear in what sense He is referring to the term prashanti!
Going back to the main story, soon after Swami arrived in Brindavan, the Brindavan boys welcomed Him with a well prepared programme "Hridaya pushpam". One of the hallmarks of the integrated system of education prevalent in the Sri Sathya Sai Institutions is effective time management. The boys put up a creditable programme and also performed well on their mid-term exams starting the next day. This time-management quality of course is so useful in today's demanding world where one always has to do multi-tasking while simultaneously resolving conflicting and demanding priorities.
JAN 29, 2006 : HRIDAY PUSHPAM - A PROGRAMME BY THE BRINDAVAN BOYS
Sundays in Brindavan are always special. On each Sunday the devotees of Bangalore start the bhajans in the morning and it is continued the whole day up to the point when Bhagavan enters the Hall again in the afternoon, and ends only when He signals for arathi at the end of the afternoon darshan. This gives an opportunity for the devotees to be immersed in devotional singing the entire day. Sundays are also special as some of the devotees from Puttaparthi also come down for the day and there is a full house in Sai Ramesh Hall.
After Swami arrived in Sai Ramesh Hall in the afternoon, He signalled to the boys to start their programme. His Excellency, the Governor of Karnataka, Sri T.N. Chaturvedi was also present that day, as he had come to Brindavan to seek Bhagavan's grace. Readers of this column may recall that Sri Chaturvedi was the chief guest at the Institute's Convocation on November 22nd last year. (To read the convocation report again, click here).
The programme "Hrudaya Pushpam" (the flower of the heart) by the students was a mix of soulful group songs interspersed with speeches. The songs varying from Hindi, Telugu and English lifted the entire atmosphere and also lit up a beautiful smile on Bhagavan's face. In between each song the students stood up to express their love, narrate their experiences, and thank Bhagavan for the wonderful opportunity.
Sreejith expressed his love for Swami in 4 different languages - Bengali, Hindi, Malayalam, and English and thanked Him for being his only solace and for helping us to be in bliss whenever He is near us. Asutosh Jha prayed to the Lord to make us true instruments in His hands and remember Him always come what may.Nishant Verma related how Bhagavan once cured him of his paralytic attack. He said that our every breath and heart-beat speaks only one thing - "Swami we can't live without You." Akshay Kamath said that the small squirrel that helped build the Ramasetu (bridge across Sri Lanka) and the flute of Lord Krishna are immortalised. It is similarly our duty also to become immortalised as His instruments.
Wonderful also were the songs that they sang that day. The songs included "Maa Prana Daivam", "Kaise jiyoon", "Every moment of my life", "O maa O maa", "Sai Matha Biddalam", "I keep feeling", "O Nesthama", and "There is something special in your love". The last song was "Maa Jeevana adhaarama", meaning the very basis of our life is our Lord! The programme ended at about 6:30 PM after which there were bhajans followed by arathi.
FEB 5TH: BHAKTI SAGAR - A STUDENT PROGRAMME ON BHAKTI
The first speaker talked of Shravanam, the foremost step of devotion giving the example of Parishith's exemplary devotion. This was followed by the song "Saptaswara". The second speaker highlighted the Keertanam aspect of Bhakthi, referring to saints like Meerabhai, Purandara Dasa etc. The song that followed was "Ram Bhajana Karo Mann". A small talk on Vishnusmaranam was followed by the Tamil song "Easwaramba". Padasevanam or worship of the Lotus Feet was the next aspect to be discussed. Vandanam or salutation was followed by the song "Vande Janani Vidyadayini" a song extolling and saluting Mother Saraswati. Referring to Hanuman as the best example of Dasyam (servitude), the speaker quoted several events from the life of Hanuman including the famous one wherein when Mother Sita gives him a pearl necklace, Hanuman bites each pearl and throws them away after putting them to his ear as he could not hear them say "Ram, Ram". This engaging program ended with a rousing Qawali, "Shirdiwale Sai Baba" to which the entire audience joined in clapping and chorus.
At the end of the program, prasadam was distributed to all. Swami also blessed all the students and the devotees profusely with His beneficent gaze for a long time before He retired to Trayee Brindavan.
FEB 6TH: CHINESE NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS IN SAI RAMESH HALL
After a hiatus of a few years, Swami graciously permitted the celebration of the Chinese New Year in His Divine Presence. Accordingly, about 200 people of Chinese origin, hailing from Hong Kong , Singapore and Indonesia assembled in Brindavan during the first week of February. Putting up with myriad difficulties (due to limited infrastructural facilities in Brindavan) they nevertheless bridged barriers of distance and temporal difficulties to come together as one unit through intense practice and present a seamless Chinese New Year program on the morning of February 6th.
The Chinese Lunar New Year was actually on January 29th. However, the New Year is celebrated over a period of 15 days and the 8th day is specially marked for honouring the parents. Hence in this year of the Dog, on Feb 6th - the 8th day after the New Year, the Chinese gathered at His Lotus Feet to show their filial love to our beloved Divine Father and Mother Sai.
The entire Sai Ramesh Hall was decked out with intricate floral patterns with large helpings of the auspicious Chinese colour of red. The program began on a pounding note when Bhagavan was escorted from His home in Trayee Brindavan to Sai Ramesh Hall to the resonant sounds of drums with a pair of lion dancers and dolls leading the procession. When He reached Sai Ramesh Hall, Swami was given a traditional Chinese welcome before He ascended the dais.
After Swami had taken His seat on the dais, the lion dancers gave a vibrant display of their art. Devotees from Parthi are familiar with the lion dance since the students have performed it during the Annual Sports and Cultural Meet on January 11th this year and also earlier. However, for most of the devotees in Karnataka, this was the first time and they watched it with wonderment and joy.The lion dance has an important place in Chinese culture and is traditionally performed to inaugurate important events like starting new businesses or other social events. It is also believed that this traditionally brings good luck to the people and the pounding drums drive away all the bad luck and evil in their lives.Additionally the association with the lion's strength and character (like courage and fearlessness in all situations) is supposed to bring good fortune and prosperity in the coming New Year and help achieve success in the ultimate goal of life.
After Swami was welcomed with roses and presented with the day's agenda for His blessings, the programme started with different couples presenting in turn the following items to our divine parent: Chinese tea, two types of Chinese cakes - Nian Gao and Fa Gao, Mandarin oranges, a pair of scrolls, and red packets (Hang Baos) containing sweets as gifts to Swami.
Swami accepted each present with grace and dignity. It was very touching to see Him pick mandarin oranges from both the gentleman and the lady presenting it to Him and lovingly stacking the oranges delicately in His lap to the delight of the congregation. Swami also spent a lot of time going over the photographs of seva done by our brothers and sisters after the recent devastating tsunami in the region.
While all the presentation ceremony was going on, there were many in the crowd who wondered - is there a special significance in these gifts? We did not have to wait long for an answer, for the presentation ceremony was followed by a drama elaborating on the significance of the Chinese New Year traditions and culture.
Chinese tea is offered to guests during the Chinese New Year and also on festive occasions for good health and longevity. Two types of cakes are offered to guests during the New Year. The moon shaped Nian Gao cake which is a New Year cake and the Fa Gao cake for prosperity. A pair of scrolls is offered to guests with inscriptions in Chinese letters to wish good luck, fortune and peace in their lives like - "Wish you a happy, prosperous New Year" or "May all your wishes come true in this New Year".
And finally, through the medium of the drama they explained the significance of the red packets or "Hong Bao". They are given on all auspicious occasions (like Birthdays and weddings also) and not just on the New Year. The red envelope is decorated with Chinese characters for luck and is usually given with money inside it for luck and wealth. It is a Chinese practise to give an even amount of money as a gift rather the custom of an odd amount prevalent elsewhere. However the red packets given to Swami (and later distributed as prasad to the devotees) contained sweets and not money!
After the short drama there was a chanting of the six-syllable mantra Om Mane Padme Hum, which means that by the practise of a path which is an indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech, and mind into the pure exalted body, speech and mind of a Buddha.
Following this, Lunar New year songs and Chinese and Sanskrit bhajans were sung by the devotees before mangala arathi was taken to signify the end of a memorable morning of celebration. Heart to Heart would also like to take this opportunity to say "Xiang Nian Kuai Le" or Happy New Year in Mandarin to our readers all over the globe.
FEB 12: KAVI SAMMELAN - A POETRY READING PROGRAMME IN SAI RAMESH HALL
For the third Sunday in a row, the Brindavan students offered a unique programme for our Lord. A bunch of budding poets - 15 in number, sat arrayed in front of Him, all ready to read their poems of love and gratitude that they had penned in 13 different languages.
After Swami had entered Sai Ramesh Hall around 5:00 PM and given His darshan to all, He signalled to the boys to start. Two boys immediately went up to Him and showed Him a card seeking His blessings and presented the programme to Him. The programme started with a brief introduction by 2 students in both Hindi and English (where they addressed Swami as the poet of all the poets) and then the presentation was underway.
The poets were all dressed for the occasion in the traditional costumes of the states where they hailed from. Each poet got up in turn and stood in front of Swami and recited His offering to Him with feeling and love. The first poet rendered his poem in the grandhika style of Telugu and in flowing language described the glory and grandeur of the Avatar. This was followed by a poem in Hindi delivered in classical style and referred to the great good fortune of the residents of Brindavan and the contemporaries of the Avatar and to rejoice in His boundless grace. This was followed by a poem in Kannada highlighting a famous sloka from the Bhagavad Gita on Nishkama karma "Karmanyevadhikarasche ma phaleshu kadachana" which means that you have the right to work but not to the fruits thereof.
The Nepali poem that followed next praised our Lord Sai as the greatest gift that mankind can ever hope to receive. This was followed in turn by a poem in English which extolled the glory of Sai's mission and the role of His students who are His only property. The Tamil poem that was next resonated well with the large Tamil speaking audience that was present that day in Sai Ramesh Hall. The poem raised the question as to how we can adequately describe Him when we fail to even comprehend Him? These were followed by more poems in Marathi, Malayalam, Tulu, Gujarati, Oriya, Bengali, and again in Nepali and Telugu all expressing in one form or other their love for Him and their gratitude for what He has done for them.
At the end of their programme Swami was immensely pleased. All the poets were also thrilled at Swami's pleasure, for they live only to please Him. Slowly Swami got up from His chair and asked all the students to come up to Him. Our students don't need a second invite and immediately swarmed up to Him and milled all around Him for He was rewarding them with the rare and much coveted group photograph. Swami posed with them for long till the photographers were also well satisfied, and then in His inimitable style started joking with the boys. He called the boy who had narrated a poem in Gujarati and said "pagadiwala marriage ko jata" - the turbaned fellow is getting married.
Swami also showed His omnipresence to the Hindi poet by telling him the exact name of the place in Bihar where he hailed from and blessed him profusely. Thus He gave a lot of joy to all with a word here and a smile there. The programme ended with the song "Hum ko tumse pyar hai"- Swami we all love You!!
Swami raised His Hand and blessed everyone before He slowly wended His way back to His home in Trayee Brindavan
With the blessings of Bhagavan the following pujas and chantings were conducted in Sai Krishan Kalyana Mantap every morning starting from the 10th of February for five days. Bhagavan came to the Kalyana Mantap (Marriage Hall) to bless the priests on the first day and the priests recited the following everyday over the next 5 days:
When the ritualistic prayers connected with the yagnam were over, Swami blessed the couple that had conducted the yagnam and also materialised a gold chain for the lady and asked the husband to tie it around the neck of his wife. Swami also distributed clothes to the Brahmin priests who had conducted the prayers over these 5 days.
He next asked the priest to recite certain Vedic slokas. After that He also consigned traditional offerings wrapped in a red cloth and gold coins and other precious offerings also into the fire to bring the sacrifice to a close.
After that came a ritual that everyone looks forward to. Swami walked around the Hall sprinkling akshada (turmeric coated rice) on everyone in both the ladies side as well as the gents' side. He then sat for some time giving everyone the bliss of His darshan while bhajans were sung.
Then after taking of arathi He again blessed the couple that had conducted the yagnam and also posed for photographs with the family before leaving for His residence.
A sumptuous lunch prasadam of tamarind rice, curd rice and sweet rice was quickly and efficiently distributed to all the devotees at the end of the ceremony through multiple counters arranged in all corners of Sai Ramesh Hall.
MANY VISITORS SEEK SWAMI'S BLESSINGS
When Swami is in Brindavan, because of its close proximity to the metropolitan city of Bangalore, there is a steady stream of visitors who come to seek Swami's blessings. Even though Swami was in Brindavan in February, not the normal time when He usually comes to Brindavan, there was more than the usual quota of VIPS seeking an audience with the Lord. We are not aware of everyone who came to see the Lord during His stay there, but we were able to take the pictures of the few who came during the public darshan or bhajan time or were sitting in Sai Ramesh Hall while awaiting the Lord.
On February 2nd, the Karnataka State Chief Minister designate Sri H.D. Kumaraswamy and the Deputy Chief Minister designate Sri B.S. Yediyurappa came to seek Swami's blessings before taking the oath of office the next day. Swami received them warmly and gave them an audience in the interview room.
On Sunday, February 5th, the Ashram also had another very distinguished visitor. The Vice-President of the country Sri Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who had landed in the HAL airport in Bangalore that afternoon, came to Sai Ramesh Hall accompanied by the Governor Sri T.N. Chaturvedi later in the evening close to 6 PM. They sat through the students' programme on Bhakti Sagar (reported above) and were later blessed with an audience with Swami inside Trayee Brindavan.
On the evening of February 8th, Sri Sri Sri Ravishankar, of the Art of Living Foundation came to have an audience with Bhagavan.
As most of you know the Art of Living Foundation was celebrating their silver jubilee in the Garden City on February 17th, 18th and the 19th. Swami gave an audience to Sri Sri Sri Ravishankar later in the interview room.
Taking advantage of the proximity of Brindavan, all the 850 students of Swami's school in Muddenhalli which is just 56 kilometres from Brindavan came by buses to have Swami's Darshan on February 13th.
The ever merciful Lord, who normally sits on the dais in the evening for the bhajans, chose to come down from the dais and give these boys the bliss of His darshan from up close.
FEB 18TH: SWAMI LEAVES FOR PARTHI
Unexpectedly on the morning of February 18th, just after the conclusion of the morning darshan, Swami waited for the arathi to be completed. Then He raised both His hands and blessed everyone on both the Ladies and the Gents' side. Then turning to the Ladies in the first row He announced, "I am going to Parthi."
And right after the darshan there was a scramble. Bags were hurriedly packed, taxis were booked, bus tickets had to be arranged, breakfast had to be eaten in a hurry and soon there was a steady stream of humanity taking the long dusty road back to Puttaparthi.
Swami left His abode in Brindavan exactly at 1:00 PM on the road home back to Parthi, where He arrived around 4:30 PM and was received with full honours.
After Swami had settled down in Parthi, the third year undergraduate class of the Institute welcomed and felicitated Him with a well-prepared programme on the 20th of February on the theme of EDUCARE, to express their love and gratitude to Him for His benevolence while they were students in the Institute. Labelled as a "gratitude programme", the graduating class from the undergraduate programme, the graduate programme and the High School traditionally present these programmes in the month of February just prior to their annual examinations in March. It is a time for emotional farewells, for fond reminiscences, for fervent prayers and sorrowful leave-taking from the physical presence of Bhagavan, Who has been their Divine Mother, Father and Friend since their joining the campus.
Swami came unexpectedly early that evening, just before 3 PM. Most of the 64 undergraduate boys taking part in the programme were seated in the Bhajan Hall and Swami spent a few minutes chatting with them prior to the programme.
Swami questioned them about the theme and immediately the boys showed Swami the card they had prepared depicting a pond with a lotus in the centre and some leaves around. The boys explained to Swami that they were like the pond and that He was like the beautiful lotus in the centre of their lives! Swami went on to explain the subtleties and intricate details of various stories selected by the boys. When the boys were asked by Swami "Where is Sita?" on seeing a boy dressed as Rama, the entire Hall was filled with laughter.
The boy replied that Swami had given him the most important gem that had made him what he was - the gift of free quality education and more importantly, self-confidence!
Duty and devotion was portrayed through a small skit depicting the story from the Ramayana where Bharatha on being unsuccessful in convincing Rama to return back to Ayodhya, then reverentially asks Him for His sandals and with great devotion takes it back to Ayodhya to fulfil his duty of ruling the kingdom in Lord Rama's absence.
Speakers next spoke about how their hostel life had taught them the importance of understanding and oneness.
Compassion was highlighted by the story of Siddhartha (Gautama Buddha) saving the swan. A contemporary story was related next of a benevolent Australian who agreed to pay the medical school fees for a poor boy who had undergone a major heart surgery in Swami’s hospital after reading about his story in the Healing Touch section of Heart2Heart.
Reverence was highlighted by the Mahabharatha story where Yudhistira removed his armour and crown, walked across the battle-field and sought the blessings of his grandfather Bheeshma.
Moved by this reverence, Bheeshma blessed Yudhistira to be victorious even though he was arrayed against him on the battle-field. The boys also presented that by following Swami's teachings, one could achieve enlightenment.
In an unusual twist, there was a blindfolded
boy sitting dejected on a stone to convey that without these values life
is not worth living. In the end, after all the values had been touched
upon, in a dramatic gesture the boy removes the blind-fold to signify that
he has acquired all the values and then thanks Swami on behalf of everyone
for giving us these values that are so vital to life.
As each new song would start, a rose would be presented to Swami by one boy while another group of 2 boys would present Him the words to the song written in neat calligraphic handwriting.
Swami spent some time talking to all these boys who went up to Him at the start of each song, and also blessed them by putting His hand on their heads.
FEB 23rd: A PROGRAM BY THE 10TH AND 12TH CLASS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
Kamal Chand of Std XII related how Swami had saved his father from not receiving a scratch in a motor cycle accident while the photograph of Swami in his pocket was torn to pieces.
S.Sugeet of the Xth class related how when his mother met with an accident and was lying seriously wounded in the countryside, a competent doctor arrived out of nowhere and provided timely medical treatment that saved his mother's life. He said that the unknown doctor who disappeared after giving the treatment was none other than our beloved Swami.
The boys presented roses and the script of the songs. Swami lovingly accepted and spoke to the students & blessed them profusely.
The students also made beautiful greeting cards which were appreciated by the loving Lord.
FEB 24TH: A THANKSGIVING PRESENTATION BY THE SECOND YEAR POST GRADUATE STUDENTS
Can one describe the relation between a flower and the fragrance, the ocean and its waves, the Lord and His children? To express their love and gratitude to their beloved Lord, the final year post graduate students offered at the Lotus Feet of their Master a bouquet of songs. The boys were part of the programme from the MSc, MBA, MA, M.Tech, and the final year Diploma students of the Music College.
Bhagavan requested the Vice Chancellor to introduce the programme for the evening. He stressed on the need for the passing out students to keep two aspects ever in their mind. One is the 'spiritual vision' and the second is 'social service'. He said that they were now entering the phase of 'active participation' in Bhagavan Baba's Master Plan and Mission .
At 3.45 p.m. the students began their offering. Two students took a beautiful card to Swami. The card was a heart-shaped nest with a mother hen feeding its little chicks. After the "card-boys" were blessed 4 boys took a lovely cake to be cut by Swami which the boys had baked themselves. The words on the icing of the cake read 'I in You, You in me. So we begin, so we end.' As the programme began with a prayer to Lord Ganesha, an ornamental sheet containing the list of songs was presented to Swami.
This programme too followed the same format as all the previous programmes. The songs were interspersed with short speeches expressing their love towards Swami.
Among the songs that they sang were "Jhil Mil Jhil Mil Khilte Taare", " Maa Jeevana Aadhaarama Maa Hrudaya Sangeetama ", " We Love You Swami ", "Sathya Dharmamu Shanti Premalato Nee Nitya Jeevana Yatra Saaginchu", "O Maa Sai Maa", "Enta Premayo Swamiki Enta Premayo Satya Sai Bhagawanuki Enta Premayo", "Ye Bandhan To Pyaar Ka Bandhana Hai Janmo Kaa Sangama Hai", and"O Nestamaa Priyamaina Bandhamaa". The mellifluous sounds of a pair of violins playing in the background lifted the songs to melodious heights.
Swami concluded His discourse by singing the bhajan Hari Bhajan Bina Sukha Shanti Nahin. After a few bhajans by the boys, Swami took arati and retired for the day.
FEB 25: AN ENCHANTING EVENING OF PROGRAMMES
It was quite an evening, on the day before Sivarathri. After Swami came into Sai Kulwant Hall, He sent a lot of boys scurrying over to Poornachandra. It soon became clear why - when they came back carrying a couple of watermelons each from Poornachandra for distribution in Sai Kulwant Hall.
It was quite a sight to see the boys bring the watermelons two at a time and give it to the crowd and then run back again for more. It reminded all of us of Lord Rama's monkey army that helped Him build a bridge across the ocean to Lanka by bringing a stone each and dropping it into the ocean.
FEB 26TH AND 27TH: MAHA SIVARATHRI CELEBRATIONS IN SAI KULWANT HALL
The Morning Programme on February 26th
Maha Sivarathri, the night devoted to Lord Siva, is celebrated over a couple of days in Parthi, as we have a night long Akhanda Bhajan session that lasts for over 12 hours. On the morning of Sivarathri day, the Institute boys traditionally sing Siva stotrams and songs in praise of the glory of Lord Siva to usher in the day in an auspicious and fitting manner.
February 26th, Mahasivarathri Day, dawned to
an eager, expectant crowd in Sai Kulwant Hall - a crowd fully saturated
with fervent and devotional feelings on this Holy Day. The entire Sai
Kulwant Hall was fully decorated with festoons decorating the roof and
floral decorations adorning the façade of Sai Kulwant Hall. Swami entered
Sai Kulwant Hall around 8:30 in the morning and was welcomed by the
Institute Nadaswaram and the Pancha Vadyam group in the
traditional Indian custom. After He had taken His place on the dais, the
Vedam chanting continued for some time.
Soon the mystery was cleared. Swami called Sri Sanjay Sahni, Principal of the Brindavan Campus, and gave him some instructions. Sri Sanjay Sahni then announced that Swami was going to felicitate 4 long term devotees who had rendered yeoman service to the organization.
After all the four had been honoured thus and presented with their gifts of a car, Swami posed for photographs with them. First He posed with Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Kondal Rao and praised both of them profusely for their contribution.
Next He posed with Sri K. Chakravarthi and Dr. Venkataraman and listed all their achievements over the years to the boys seated in front of Him.
After this heart-warming ceremony was over, it was the turn of the Institute boys to sing songs in praise of our Lord Shiva Himself. About 9 singers of the Institute sang the following songs and stotrams that was a fitting finale to the ceremony we had just witnessed.
The songs that they had selected were "Chidananda Roopaha Shivoham Shivoham", "Bilva stotram", "Lingashtakam", "Vishwanaataashtakam", "Neela kandara deva", "Sada Shiva Bhajamyaham", "Shiva Shiva Shiva Shiva Yanaraada", "Shiva Shankari", and the last song was a well rendered duet "Om Namah Shivaya". The boys were ably backed by 3 key-boards, 2 violins, 1 flute, 1 tabla, and 1 harmonium.
The tiny tots of the Primary School had made many cards and handicrafts especially for Bhagavan on this auspicious day. Swami with His immense love and grace asked them to bring it to Him and talked with all the little ones who had toiled hard to prepare these gifts for Him.
Swami finally cut the cakes prepared by many groups in the Ashram before He went home to Poornachandra. Prasadam was also distributed to all the devotees.
The Evening Programme on February 26th
The Sivarathri evening programme is one that most of the devotees look forward to all year, especially after Swami resumed the lingodhbhavam (bringing out the lingam from within Him) a few years ago. The queues to get into Sai Kulwant Hall started forming early so as to get a vantage position to witness this unique, divine event.
Swami was welcomed again in the evening by the same Institute Nadaswaram band as in the morning. After His arrival trays containing blue boxes and white safari cloth pieces were brought out and kept for distribution. Swami instructed the boys to begin the distribution of the cloths and the blue coloured boxes that were actually calculators with a musical alarm clock.
Smt P. Susheela, a famour playback singer took her place near the veranda. Swami asked the Institute boys to start with a Ganesha Bhajan. Then, Smt. P. Susheela sang two Bhajans -
After these two bhajans the boys continued and we thought the all night Akhanda Bhajan was well underway.
However, a few minutes after 6:00 PM, Swami stopped the bhajan singing and asked Sri AVS Raju to share his poems with the audience as he had done the previous day.
He read some of his Telugu poems for about 20-25 minutes.
It was very late, almost 8 PM when Bhagavan retired for the evening. It had been a hectic and an enjoyable day for all. A lot of devotees stayed behind to spend the entire night singing His Glory in compliance with Swami's command.
The Morning Programme on February 27th
Swami came early around 6:30 AM to Sai Kulwant Hall. After He had sat down in His seat, he commanded that the air-coolers be brought closer to His chair. A few minutes later, one of the boys serving Swami also brought many flasks of water. An excited buzz went around the Hall. Is there going to be a lingodh bhavam this morning?
After Swami sat down in His seat, He commanded that the vessels containing the prasadam (Pulihora or Tamarind rice and Sakkara Pongal or Sweet Rice) to be distributed at the end of the Akhanda Bhajan be stacked on the veranda. The boys not only brought the serving vessels but also the huge vessels that contained the remaining prasadam and stacked them all next to the Lord Himself.
Soon Swami began drinking copious quantities of water. The lingering suspicions became a certainty, for as noticed in previous years, He drinks a lot of water before the emergence of the lingam. The expectations of the crowd were heightened and they started singing bhajans with renewed vigour and devotion.
Soon Swami's physical discomforts also increased. He occasionally burped as if bringing out the lingam but it was not time yet for the emanation of the lingam. Just as a mother has to undergo birth pangs, Swami undergoes severe physical discomfort in order to manifest the lingam so that man may realise that behind Creation there IS a Creator who is Supreme. It is this Supreme One alone who can grant permanent Bliss, and man must strive to achieve Purity because that is the only gateway to God and Bliss.
The boys attending to Him tried their best to alleviate His physical discomforts. Added to it were the fervent prayers of all who could not bear to see our beloved Swami in agony.
Swami requested that "Om Namah Shivaya" be chanted. The chanting went on uninterrupted and soon picked up a fervent pace. Swami continued drinking more and more water.
In earlier times, the Lingam that emanated from Swami used to be of crystal etc. These days, however, the lingam is of pure gold, shining with incredible lustre. Can anyone have so much gold inside one’s body? Wherefrom does all that gold come? Swami says that the gold forms in Him from the five elements present in subtle form.
Initially, the gold exists inside as liquid or molten gold. For gold to exist in the liquid state, it must be at very a high temperature. At such temperatures, the stomach of normal mortals would be completely burnt but not so in the case of the Avatar.
Soon Swami bent His Head down and opened His mouth wide, and an incredibly big golden lingam - as big as an ostrich egg - emerged out into the world.
The agony (of being unable to see Swami's physical discomfort) and the ecstasy (of the emergence of the gold lingam) of the Lingodbhavam were experienced in full by all. Swami, after holding up the lingam for all to see, placed the lingam in a bed of flowers on a silver plate.
Swami then asked that all the children of the orphanage be brought to Him. They all came post-haste in obedience to the Lord's command. Swami first asked them to do some Veda chanting, which they did quite creditably to everyone's joy and appreciation. Swami then had chocolates distributed to all the little kids.
Swami then talked to all of them with a mike in His hand and said that they were not orphans for He was their mother and father. He said that they should redeem their lives and live up to all His expectations. He also said that Rs 100,000 had been deposited in their names and the full amount would be given to them when they are ready (after graduation) to enter the world.
Swami said that He not only provided them with education but also with all the other needs like food, clothing, etc. that they needed. It was a touching, poignant moment when time itself stood still and oneness was experienced as a common emotional bond. And there was not a single dry eye in the entire Hall, including Swami's!
The boys of the orphanage then sang a few
Telugu songs for Him. A couple of them were even bold and confident enough
to thank Him for all that He had done for them in English! They said that
before they came to the Ashram, their lives were drifting. Now
they had love and purpose in their lives through Bhagavan's Grace and they
were determined to fully utilise the opportunity.
Wherever we are, this is what we must remember on this Sivarathri day. Firstly, we all have come from the Creator and thus are born as the Embodiments of Divine Purity. That is what Lingodbhavam really ought to call to our mind.
Secondly, though we start off pure – as Swami
says, children are always pure, at least at the start – desires
soon invade us and contaminate the Mind as much as possible.
However, we must resist this and try to purify the Mind by burning the desires, and Vibhuti or sacred ash is the symbol of this ultimate burning of desires. Vibhuti Abhishekam thus ought to remind us of the need to first limit desires and then burn them entirely.
We might miss observing other functions but Sivarathri must be taken very seriously because it is all about becoming Pure and then truly become one with God.
So we bring to a close this rather long edition of this month's chronicle of events. It has been an exhilarating time for all. And the future looks if anything even more exciting, for really inexplicable are Swami's Leelas.
So till next time, all of us at Heart2Heart wish you the very best.
Jai Sai Ram!
- Heart2Heart Team
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Vol 4 Issue 03 - March 2006
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