February 20, 2010 – Chinese New Year in the Holy Hamlet

The Chinese New Year (of the tiger) was celebrated in the hamlet of Highest Peace on February 20. Buddhist monks belonging to the lineage of the Tibetan high Lama who had arrived a few days earlier stayed back to bask in the Divine Presence. The drama "Unity is Divinity" was scheduled on the evening of that day. The veda chanting started as always at 8:00 a.m. and the Buddhist monks were seated in the marbled blocks, waiting for Swami. And shortly after 8:30 a.m., the beautiful orange frame of Swami glided into the Sai Kulwant Hall.

Everyone knows of the political situation between China and Tibet and the hardships that are being borne by the Tibetan Lamas. As exiles without passports to their own homeland, these Lamas have taken refuge in India (a country which has embraced people from everywhere all the time) and have established a monastery for themselves in Karnataka. With unity and harmony as the driving principles, these Lamas had arrived from their monastery to celebrate the Chinese New Year!

Swami moved through the ladies' side and He asked the event’s co-ordinator about how long the monks would be staying. Crossing over to the gents' side, Swami completed His darshan rounds and arrived at where the monks were seated. He called the boy who had anchored the programme very well the previous day.

Speaking to him for a while, Swami materialized a beautiful gold chain and put it round his neck. Moving through the portico, Swami blessed some of them seated there and arrived on the stage. The Veda chanting had concluded and the bhajans began. Swami sat for the bhajans for the next 45 minutes!

He looked at the clock and it showed 9:45 a.m. He said, "One last bhajan." That bhajan was sung and Swami beckoned for aarthi.

As the aarthi was done, the photo of Swami gifting the chain was given to Him and Swami presented it to the boy. Swami asked him what he was studying and he said that he had three more years left to complete his graduation from a Buddhist school. Swami blessed him lovingly. Then, instead of moving to the residence, He moved into the interview room.

He sent shawls for all the monks. But before giving it, He had instructed that they be shown the shawl and asked what they felt about it. They loved it and Swami was so happy. He asked for all of them to assemble in the Bhajan Hall.

The monks did so and soon, Swami was there. He asked all of them whether they liked the shawls and they were indeed very happy. "We will use it every night as we sleep." One of the monks told, "I love Swami." For a monk who believes in absolutely the Nirakara (formless) aspect, to openly profess love for Swami, it only demonstrated the power of Divine love.

Swami then began to explain to them about the Bhajan Hall in which they sat. He pointed out to the various idols on top and explained to them the Dashaavatars (the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu). He also showed them the Buddha and said that He too was there in the avatars. Swami then began to ask the monks their names and the meaning of the names. One of the younger ones had a heart problem and Swami told him not to worry.

Then, he spoke to Captain Aung who had been the facilitator for the whole group. He also moved amidst the monks and asked each and everyone his name. After three glides into the newly created aisles, Swami returned to the front.

Swami was speaking so softly. On one occasion, when three people were straining their ears to hear, Swami said, "I am giving you a lot of difficulty right?" They were almost startled and said in one voice, "No Swami! We love you Swami." Swami then pointed to the covers which held the shawls. He read out what was written, "Hands that serve are holier than the lips that pray." Blessing all of them, Swami moved out of the Bhajan Hall at almost 11 a.m.

The drama in the evening had been announced to be held at 6:00 p.m. It was at sharp 5:55 p.m. that Swami arrived. The New Year evening began in a novel way. One of the staff members sought blessings the previous evening telling Swami that he had bought a new car.

Swami asked for him to come with the car so that He could have a look! Indeed wonderful and mysterious are the ways in which the Lord blesses His loved ones. So, as soon as Swami came out of the residence, A Tata Nano car greeted Him. Swami asked the staff member (from the SSSIHMS), "Which car is it?" "Swami, Nano." Swami lipped the name after him.

Even his parents had come as per Swami's command and the Lord spoke to the trio lovingly. Next, taking the key of the car, Swami blessed it. Then He told him to drive the car over lemons as is the tradition. Even as he did that, the lemons were squashed and some of the juice flew to Swami's hair. Swami beamed with joy as He wiped it and seemed to admire the driving skills of His student! Blessing the family with a group photograph, Swami proceeded.

Swami was preceded by a colourful Chinese procession. As Swami moved in the marbled blocks, He collected letters from Chinese kids who were seated in the front. Completing the darshan round, as Swami arrived on the stage, He lit the lamp in the altar of the Buddha that had been specially made. Then He asked for the programme to begin. It began with a plethora of offerings - Fruits, cakes and other edibles - all held very sacred by the Chinese.

After the initial offerings, there was a speech by the coordinator. In his speech, he spoke about the importance of family that the Chinese culture had always lays stress on. He laid out a nine point sadhana as per Swami's guidelines to follow in one's life. With that, he welcomed everyone for the celebration of the New Year.

The programme then began with the Chinese performing a variant of the Burrakatha! Everyone was wondering as to what the programme would be like when three Chinese youth took centrestage. Explaining the path to peace and love through Swami's teachings, the boys sang out in Hindi, Sanskrit and Telugu.

It was amazing as to how a rural art form from Andhra Pradesh had traveled all the way to China, only because of the fact that Swami loves it! The boys also chanted a verse from the vedic mantra Rudram and the chanting was impeccable. Their 15 minute presentation was very well received and Swami also clapped for it. It was after this that the drama began.

The drama was centred around family and family values. It had its share of humor and was excellently acted out by the youth and elders alike. It consisted of a typical modern family where the elders are not cared for and the values have gone for a walk! There is complete disharmony and restlessness. Wrong decisions are taken based on hypocrisy and the very foundation of the family is shaken.

It is at this point that the 'grand'father of the family steps in to begin a dialogue that has a profound impact on everyone present. He narrates tales from ancient China and inspires love and bonding in the family. He advises them as per Swami's teachings to ensure that the love in the family strengthens the harmony in society.

Amidst all this wisdom, there was a deaf character who provided comic relief. Towards the end, there was an emotional reunion among the family members. Interspersed in the drama were some colourful dances from China. Soon, the entire troupe came ahead into the final formation.

Swami immediately moved down the stage and granted group pictures for the participants. Then returning to the stage, He asked for aarthi which was taken. However, after the aarthi, He asked the students to sing bhajans. Two bhajans later, there was another aarthi. As this happened, many Chinese moved up to Swami at the stage and presented Him a rose and took namaskar.

The boy who acted as the rebellious son in the drama, having shed tears of repentance, began shedding tears again as he approached Swami. Swami seemed to console Him but that seemed to evoke more tears. Another boy by his side consoled him, rubbing his shoulders in a brotherly way.

Swami then moved into the interview room and brought sarees and white safari pieces. He then had them distributed to all the participants. He also blessed prasadam for distribution. Finally, ensuring smiles on every face, Swami moved towards Yajur Mandir and the time now was past 8:00 p.m.

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