March 13, 2010 – Blessings for the Rudram Chanting Group from Bangalore

The devotees from Bangalore started a noble and inspiring initiative in the New Year. From the January of 2010, as a special effort for the 85th Birthday, at least 11 members gather at a house to chant the Rudram 11 times. This has been done at 85 homes of Sai Youth. Once this Rudra Parayanam is done, the Rudram reverberates daily in these homes at least once a day. Having completed that in 85 homes, they had arrived to Prashanti Nilayam to seek Swami's blessings. They were seated in the hall, dressed in red dhoti and angavastram.

At 5:10 p.m., Swami arrived for darshan. He took a complete round and as He neared the area in the gents' side where these devotees from Bangalore were seated, He stopped. Swami looked into the details of the whole effort that had been made. He said, "It is the exact thing that is needed for World Peace and Harmony." That statement in itself brought so much joy to the first-liners who heard the statement from the Divine lips. The photos of the chantings done were shown to Swami.

Bhagavan then moved forward and a group of alumni were blessed with an interaction. Swami completed the darshan rounds and arrived on the stage as the bhajans went on. He beamed smiles all around and the freshness in His face seemed to act as a cooling balm in the scorching Puttaparthi summer. After a while, He blessed prasadam to be distributed. At about 6:00 p.m., Swami had a look at the clock and then moved into the interview room.

Calling Mr. Vinay Kumar, Swami asked, "Where is the group? The chanting has to begin!" Mr. Vinay, in a daze, called all the members and as per Swami's instructions, led them into the bhajan hall. What everyone seemed to have forgotten was that day also happened to be the beginning of the day of Masa Shivaratri. Masa Shivratri is an auspicious day to perform Shiva Puja which is observed on every Krishna Paksha Chaturdashi day in a Hindu month. And once it had started, Swami had wanted the Rudram chants to begin! How could Shiva forget Shivaratri! By 6:45 p.m., Swami and all the youth from Bangalore were in the hall.

Swami looked at them and said, "Begin the chanting." And then, in one voice, the Rudram rang through the length and breadth of the hall and beyond. The bhajans volume was reduced and Swami now began to slowly move through the chanting devotees. They were so happy and even as they chanted whole heartedly and full throated, they bent to take namaskar. Neat rows were made and Swami kept moving through them.

He collected letters from those who had one to offer. Finally, He moved to the center, up front and sat hearing them chant. Sitting there, He began to scrutinize the devotees and He caught one or two who were not that confident in their chanting. Swami also made some observations.  He said that the oneness of voice must improve and everyone must improve the chanting. And then, a touching episode occurred.

Seated in the first row was a tragedy-struck youth member. He had lost his newly-wed wife in a fire tragedy that took place at Carlton towers in Bangalore about three weeks ago. Swami called Mr. Vinay Kumar and asked him, "Shall I grant him dhairyam (courage and perseverance)?" Mr. Vinay just had nothing to say. Swami then called the "unfortunate" youth and spoke lovingly to him. He told him that He was always with him and he should never lose heart. Saying so, He waved His hand and created a golden ring for him.

He then put it on his index finger. The devotee was in tears and all the communication was being done by his eyes. Swami then moved around for another round amidst these youth. He continued to speak and interact. Meanwhile, one of the photographers got the printed pictures and gave it to Swami.

Swami now called the youth whom He had given the ring and pointing to him in the photo asked, "Who is this?" He answered, "Me, Swami." "You and Swami!" Swami said almost instantly and then told him that the picture showed the reality - that He was always with him! That was such a consoling assurance and tears welled up in his eyes. Swami saw the other photo of the entire group chanting and gifted it to one other member. Then, raising both His hands in loving benediction, Swami moved to the stage. He sat for a couple more bhajans before receiving aarthi.

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