March 16, 2010 – Ugadi in the Divine Presence

As per the Bharatiya calendar, the New Year day is called Yugadi, meaning, the beginning of an era. There is a cycle of 60 years which keep repeating and each of these 60 years has a name. The current year, it would be the goodbye ceremony for "Virodhi" and the welcome for "Vikruthi". Yugadi in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh translates into Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra and into Cheti Chand for those of the Sindhi origin.

But at Puttaparthi, which is a potpourri of all people and religions, any festival becomes important to all because Swami is involved! And so, on the bright morning of the 16th, thousands gathered in Sai Kulwant all, waiting for the "orange" of their eyes to arrive! The "apple" of their eyes arrived instead as Swami chose to don the bright red robe that day!

Just after 9:30 a.m., Swami arrived. His path had been lined with traditional items and that formed a beautiful picture. A huge arch proclaimed the Truth that Sai was with, in and around everyone and Swami moved under it and entered the ladies' side. Moving through the aisle between the students, Swami entered the gents' side.

The stage had been adorned with flowers and an impressive temple like environs had been simulated for the centrestage. Swami completed the darshan rounds and moved into the interview room. Along with Him went Mr. Indulal Shah and Justice Bhagawati.

At about 10:10 a.m., Swami arrived on the dais. Two chairs had been placed on either side of Him and on them sat Justice Bhagawati and Mr. Indulal Shah. As Swami arrived, He asked the All India President, Mr. V. Srinivasan to introduce Justice Bhagawati, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India. The Justice, who spoke from a typed script, announced the new Trustees appointed by Swami for the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust.

He made it very clear that this was no family Trust as some "misinformed" people and "fools" outside seem to propagate and that the SSSCT was the largest public charitable trust in the world with many behemoth projects under its belt! He also stated that committees of students working for the trust would be responsible for administering it.

After his speech, Mr. Srinivasan introduced Mr. Indulal Shah who spoke along similar lines. Then Swami told Mr. Srinivasan himself to speak and he spoke on the glory of the Sathya Sai Avatar.

Even as he concluded, Swami asked for His mikes to be brought. Taking a sip of water, Swami began with the poem on the great women of Bharath. Then He went on to narrate in detail the story of the travails of Raja Harishchandra - how he gave up all his wealth and riches and finally his kingdom.

Then he sacrificed his wife and child and finally donned the profession of an undertaker to abide by Truth. As Swami relived the way Lord Shiva appeared before the king, He became very emotional and seeing Him, one felt ashamed that we have become so heartless today that such noble ideals do not seem to move us at all.

Swami then shifted to saying that the Avatar is not external - The Avatar is present in each and every one of us. When it is said that He has thousand hands, eyes and feet, it only means that every being in the world is a manifestation of God.

Swami also emphasized that one must hold on steadfastly with faith in one's chosen name and form of the Lord. Out of the blue, He asked a student in the front, "Where do you come from?" The answer was, "Bombay." Swami said, "Bombay is the place from where your body comes from. The true source for all is the Atma.

I am I is the Truth." He asked another student, "What do you want?" The boy replied, "You Swami!" Swami called him to the stage and materialized a golden ring for him. Swami also said, "I am always with you, around you and in you"- a reinforcement!

Having done that, Swami kept silent for a while and everyone bathed in the beauty of living in the Present, in the Presence. Then the inimitable Prof. Anil Kumar asked Swami, "Swami, my heart longs to say something, can I?" Swami agreed.

In beautiful Telugu, the professor quoted the great poets who had written about Swami and filled everyone with the music of their words. He narrated lovely incidents that manifested His Divine grandeur and Grace and everyone in the audience were smiling and joyful. He said that when one is with God, what is there to worry about the influences of the planets or the lines on the hand.

It was 11:45 a.m. when he finished his talk and then Swami asked for the Aarthi. Prasadam was blessed for distribution. Also blessed for distribution were copies of a book by Dr. Sara Pavan - Ooru Ledhu, Peru Ledhu. Swami then called a student from the front and told him that Samastha Loka… must be chanted. That was done.

There is a tradition that on every Yugadi day, a mixture of jaggery, neem, mango, salt and chilly is consumed signifying that one accepts all the joys and sufferings that the year has with equanimity. This mixture was taken to Swami and Bhagavan added the "divine flavour" to the pudding! Then, blessing all, Swami moved towards the residence.

It was at 5:30 p.m. in the evening that Swami arrived. He took a detour through the students and moved towards the stage. The students from the Mirpuri college of Music prayed for an opportunity to present a musical presentation in His presence. Swami nodded in agreement. As soon as He came on stage, He asked the students to begin.

The first song was the famous, "Maha Ganapatim…” in raga Hamsadhwani. It was classically rendered and that was followed by a Sitar recital. Then there was a Hindustani rendering in raga Thodi, which was followed by a Veena recital. The mridangam accompanying the Veena was played with such finesse that one wondered as to which was the lead instrument and which was the accompanying one!

They concluded with the famous Thyagaraja Kirtan, "Bantureethi Kulu". Embedded in it was a jugalbandi between the Tabla, Mridangam, Ghatam and the Carnatic Kanjira. That went on for about 20 minutes and as it built in speed and complexity, the audience were increasingly enthralled.

When they completed, there was a thunderous applause. Swami called the lead singer who was heading the Jugalbandi and told him, "See, how one person is able to confer joy to so many!" He replied, "Swami, it is only Your Grace." Swami materialized a gold ring and put it on his finger.

He then moved down the stage and posed for group pictures with all the performers. Then He moved up the stage and blessed safari pieces to be distributed to all. After that, one by one, all the students began to move up the stage with their respective instruments.

It was a beautiful sight to see Swami strum the Sitar and Veena, play upon the tabla and mridamgam, knock at the kanjira and pull the many strings of the sur mandal. The students were positively delighted as they seemed to be re-initiated in the presence of Mother Saraswati herself. Aarthi was then performed and Swami moved towards Yajur Mandir. It was now 7:20 p.m.

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