July 17, 2010 – Day Four of Alwar Bhakti Samrajya Mahotsavam

On the morning of July 17 the Sudarshana homam was scheduled to take place in the Sai Kulwant Hall. The Sudarshana is the discus of Lord Narayana. It is considered that its mere touch redeems one from all sins and grants liberation. As Swami explains, Su means good while Darshana means vision. This worship is also a prayer for Divine vision. As Swami had permitted its observance, a huge stage had been erected in the central marble blocks. It was a square and it had two elegant slopes, curving and leading to the top from the front.

The morning proceedings commenced at 7 a.m. with the initial rituals for the Maha Sudarshana Homam which was worshipping the eighteen Kalashas that lasted for more than an hour. By 8. 30 a.m. the activities were shifted to the sacred pit where the second and final part of the proceedings of the Sudarshana Homan began. The priests sat all around the ceremonial pit where all the offerings would be made. Everybody eagerly awaited Swami on this holy morning.

At about 9:50 a.m., Swami arrived. He took a complete round. As He neared the centre He had a look at the huge stage that had appeared since He last saw the place the previous evening. Swami moved onto the mainstage and after being there for a while, descended to go on the makeshift stage that had been set. There was a loud applause as Swami neared the sacrificial pit.

He took a plateful of items and Himself offered it into the leaping tongues of the flame. He blessed two bundles and subsequently they were also lowered into the pit. As the flames rose higher on being fed sumptuously with ghee, Swami indicated that He would like to be moved behind. And a little later, He descended from the stage and stayed below on the marble block itself.

Sudarshana Moola Mantra chanting for 10000 times had been going on for the last two days, and the ritual to follow was offerings to the idol of Sudarshan Alwar. The double sided statue had both Sudarshan Alwar and Narasimha Swami, two in one, facing opposite to each other. As Swami took His seat, down the stage, the rituals continued with sacred bath being offered to the Lord, using the eighteen kalashas that were being worshipped during the previous day and that morning.

All the sacred pots, one after another, were taken to Swami by the priests to get them blessed before giving the Lord a sacred bath with that water in the immediate Divine presence of The Lord of all Gods! These eighteen Kalashas named after eighteen selected names of Lord Vishnu, contained waters from selected holy rivers across India.

As per the tradition, a curtain was now erected in front of the idol as the “Lord donned His Divine clothes”. Swami smiled gently at this and a priest in the front thought that maybe he should lower the curtain. Swami told him to proceed as per the practise. He blessed the holy water for distribution. The black residue from the sacrificial pit was also offered to Swami.

The student by Swami’s side told the priests that the “black” would soil Swami’s hand. Swami seemed to say that it didn’t matter and very gently, with his right index finger, blessed it. Then Swami also blessed the prasadam to be distributed to all. After this, Swami moved up the stage as tamarind rice, sweet pongal and curd rice were served to all. At 11:15 a.m, Swami returned to His residence.

The evening saw the continuance of narration of the stories on the Alwars. Arriving at about 5:30 p.m., Swami took a complete darshan round and came on stage. There was a slight change in the proceedings as Swami beckoned for the “Sree Raghavam…” bhajan to be sung. Thus, the alaap began and the bhajan was vociferously followed by everyone seated in the hall.

At 5:45 p.m., Swami asked for the speaker of the evening to address the gathering. The speaker of the first day, Sri Nidumamidi Srikantha Rao was the speaker that day too. He spoke on the lives of three Alwars, namely, Sri Thirumangai Alwar, Sri Nammalwar and Sri Madhurakavi Alwar.

This speech was quite absorbing. The learned speaker narrated the story of how Thirumangal Alwar was actually a robber. He was literally touched by Lord Narayana when He had come in the guise of a wealthy merchant and he tried to rob Him. Why did he want wealth? That was because he was in love with a woman who was a great devotee of Lord Narayana and she put forward the condition that if he desired to marry her, he should feed 1000 devotees for a whole year.

The story inspired the feeling in everyone that if one’s motives are noble and clear, the Lord Himself would help to achieve the ends in a Dharmic manner. The entire speech went on for about an hour and it was liberally laced with gratitude to Swami. As this was going on, Bhagavan went into the interview room and five minutes later, the speaker concluded.

When Swami came out, He asked for the aarthi. After this, He asked for the Universal peace mantra to be chanted again. Once that was done, Swami retired for the day.

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