August 15, 2010 – Special Discourse for the 1996 Graduating Batch and “Swaraajya Gatha” drama by Sai Students

The Indian Nation celebrated 63 years of Independence on August 15, 2010. Patriotism is such a powerful feeling. It exists in every heart even decades after it is exhibited and so it is eternal. People may die but their memories live on in the hearts forever. From the past four years, the senior most students of the Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning have been staging inspiring dramas which envelope stories from the glorious Indian freedom struggle along with Swami’s ideals. Continuing that tradition, the 2nd year Post graduates were ready with a drama entitled “Swaaraajya Gatha” based on the life of Sri Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

In Sai Kulwant Hall, there may be planned programmes but one always has to be ready for programmes which are planned on the spur of the moment by dear Swami! It was to be one such day where Divine planning turned upside down all human plans and ensured that the day becomes most memorable and beautiful for everyone involved.

The evening began early with Swami’s arrival at 4:30 p.m. Here we would like to share an inside story that we were blessed to obtain. The students of the 1996 batch had arrived with their families and Swami’s interaction with them has been captured in the 14th August update. Swami apparently said, "The students have come and they will be leaving soon. I shall go early today and bless them!"

Ah! When we hear of Swami’s legendary love for His students, it surely will bring this act to our minds! However far they may be, however far apart in time their visits might be - the bond of Love between Swami and His students is always so fresh and evergreen. The students ask, “Swami, why do you Love us so much? What do you see in us?” His answer is straight, “Love has no reason or season. Just experience it!”

And so, Swami had arrived and He moved through the ladies’ side. As He reached the centre, He saw the backdrop of the planned drama. None of us saw the ‘background’ of His planned ‘drama’! He moved through the gents’ side and blessed the birthday boys among the students. He made another round of the ladies’ side and the least we can say was that they were all thrilled at this unexpected shower of Grace. After moving through the ladies’ side when Swami came to the centre, He asked to go to the portico. Taking a round there, Swami moved into the Bhajan Hall from the back door. There were seated the alumni from 1996 with their families.

Swami moved slowly through them and arrived to the centre in the front. He turned and sat facing everyone. He called one of the students and spoke something with him. Then, Swami beckoned for Prof. G Venkataraman who addressed the group in the Divine Presence and spoke about the evolution of Puttaparthi, between then and now, elaborating on the various service activities taken up by Bhagawan as a part of His Divine Mission. The speech was crisp and it gave special stress on the importance that Swami has always showered on His students and how it is an absolute must that every student must express gratitude by living up to what He has said. After the speech, Swami looked to His right and asked, “Where is My mike? I will speak.”

There was such joy at this and soon the mike was placed before Swami. Bhagavan began by stating the eternal Truth that everyone was embodiment of God. There is no difference between Swami and anyone for all are God. One must sit calm and question, “Who am I? Am I the body?... the intellect?... the mind?... the senses?” This sort of enquiry alone would redeem one from the bondage that exists. Swami then steered the discourse towards the virtues and glorious character of Bharatiya men and women with particular emphasis on the latter. Giving a plethora of examples ranging from Draupadi, Savitri, Satyavati and Chandramati, Swami exhorted on the virtues of ideal womanhood. He also narrated the story of Satya Harishchandra in great detail.

Even as He recounted the trials and tribulations of the king, Swami became so moved with his sacrifices for Truth. “One should be ready to go to any extent for Sathya,” He concluded. As one heard this, one could not help thinking that we too should be ready to do anything for our dear Sathya, our Sai! Swami also spoke on how people must live in families with harmony and unity. The discourse lasted about an hour and everyone in the hall was overwhelmed at this shower of Grace and Love. Swami looked the most happy and pleased! He derives such joy in simply giving and showering Grace!

At the end, He blessed prasadam and vibhuti packets to be distributed to all who had assembled. As this went on, Swami asked, “Inka Emi Samacharam?” meaning “What else is the news?” The overwhelmed students and their families just sat silent. The silence was so strong that the translator, Prof. Anil Kumar spoke out, “Ah! See His love! There are thousands waiting for Him outside and He asks you for news!” All at once, they broke out, “Swami, thank you! Swami, we love you!” There was a pregnant pause and Swami whispered, “I love you all!” A thrill of joy surged through the being of everyone present like a current. In an instant, eyes became moist. Everyone was enveloped in His love and they just sat basking in it.

Presently, an alumnus stood up and sought permission to speak. That was granted and he did the difficult work of putting into words the intense feelings of love and gratitude emanating from the heart. With that, the session concluded and Swami moved into the interview room.

All this while, the devotees and students were waiting outside and rumors had started that the programme might be postponed for the next day as the clock was showing 6:40 p.m. At 6:50 p.m., Swami came out of the interview room and was on the stage. He asked for the Veda chanting to stop and beckoned the students to come forward with the card and flowers. "Swarajya Gatha" was centred around the freedom struggle involving Bharat's first mass leader, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who lived during the period 1856-1920.

Tilak's ideals to spread national unity and religious harmony through various religious festivals promoting "Swarajya", standing united against the British, set the backdrop for the presentation before the story advanced into Tilak's undying passion for Mother India and winning her freedom from the British. The man who proclaimed "Swarajya is my birthright and I shall have it" finally was arrested by the British who sent him to jail for a long six year imprisonment. His evolution in the jail, where he turned contemplative, getting deep into the 'Geeta Rahasya' and Karma Yoga, still madly possessed with his undying passion for his Mother India was illustrated with the help of the Mahabharata.

The son of Arjuna, Abhimanyu comes forward to do his duty as a Kshatriya and decides to penetrate the impregnable padmavyuha - lotus formation. Even though he has only the knowledge on how to enter it and not how to get out, he leads the Pandava forces and faces death with great valor. When Arjuna comes to know of this, he is inconsolable and Lord Krishna explains to him as to how his son was a true Karma Yogi. When Swami saw this scene, He was very moved. He hung on to every word that was spoken and seemed to empathise with Arjuna and share his grief too!

Subsequent scenes depicted Tilak's state of depression, at not finding a sustained way forward to win his dream Swarajya, after he was freed form the jail, his meeting up with Sai Baba of Shirdi and Baba's precious words of advice to him. Shirdi Baba says, “Mother India is in the safe hands of God, Tilak! Find your own Swaaraajya first. The Swaarajya of Bharat will automatically follow!”

The spiritual meaning where Swaa stands for the Atma, was brought out very beautifully. It is only when one discovers the Atmic kingdom within that one can hope to understand the true meaning of ‘in’dependence! (Independence is to depend on what is ‘in’!) The one hour presentation ended with a melodious group song on the glory of Bharat, Mother India, to the tune of "Sundaram Bharatham Sumadhuram..." The final formation was made. Swami was so happy and even though the time was nearing 8:00 p.m., He said that He would go down.

Moving down, Swami created a gold chain with a locket for the student who had acted the role of Abhimanyu. Swami advised him to act in that noble manner always. Bhagavan then went and posed with all the students and it was a beautiful picture. Moving up the stage, Swami began to distribute safari pieces to all the participants. ‘Abhimanyu’ took up the lead role of ‘introducing’ Swami to various members of the cast as well as the others who had slogged behind the scenes. Swami blessed everyone and gifted them safari pieces.

Now came the two boys who had acted as Draupadi and Subhadra. Swami saw them and asked for sarees to be brought. They walked to Swami and said, “Swami, we are boys!” Swami smiled, gave them safari pieces and told the student by His side to go in and get sarees. The boys repeated, as if Swami did not know! (That is the divine maya! We often forget what Swami is and try to ‘correct’ and ‘advise’ Him!) Swami smiled broadly as He gifted sarees also to these two boys. They were also happy with this extra gift and everyone smiled joyously.

In the meantime, the group photograph and that of Abhimanyu receiving the chain were brought. Swami had a look at them and presented them both to Abhimanyu. It was 8:20 p.m. when Swami asked for the aarthi. After the aarthi, Swami blessed everyone and moved to the Residence.

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