August 24, 2009 – Burrakatha on Ramayana by Sai Students

Bhagavan promised the students on August 23 that He would witness the Burrakatha the next day, so on August 24 they came prepared and ready in costumes to the Mandir. The trio seated themselves in the Bhajan Hall awaiting Swami's arrival.

Bhagavan emerged for the darshan rounds at 4:40 p.m. itself and after one complete round, moved into the Bhajan Hall. He interacted with the three artists for about 15-20 minutes and it was a memorable one (it is always memorable when Swami interacts except when He takes the role of "disciplining father" rather than "loving mother"! And that too becomes memorable in retrospect!). Swami asked them about the various songs that they would sing as part of their Burrakatha.

They sang out a song that had been composed by Swami (which was about the strong reply that Hanuman gives to the demon king Ravana). As the boys sang out, Swami joined them in the singing and converted the human trio singing the song into the divine quartet! Swami also spoke to their teacher Mr. Krishna Bhaskar, who has been blessed with opportunities to perform the Burrakatha in His presence in his heydays. Blessing them and inspiring them thus, Swami moved out to the stage.

It will be appropriate to say that the stage was "divinely set", for as soon as Swami arrived, He began to direct the positions of the mikes and His position on stage. The mikes were placed at an angle beside Him and Swami moved more towards the gents’ side to provide for a bigger presentation area. Once all was set, the students were called and the Vedam chanting halted.

The main narrator offered the card with the programme details and the "Rajakeeyam" (analyst) and the "Hasyam" (jester) offered roses along with their salutations to Swami. Bhagavan had His chair turned towards them and His ears tuned to them! The presentation began with the Ganesha Vandana - an ode to lord Ganesha. This was followed by garlanding of the performers by three designated students as per tradition, before the trio went elucidating the glory of Ramayana.

Starting from Rama's birth the story evolved towards various events narrated by Swami Himself in the book, Rama Katha Rasa Vahini. Rama’s implicit obedience towards His father’s words, the marriage with Sita, His life in exile, protecting Dharma by annihilating the demons and uplifting the holy ones, the devotion and dedication of Lakshmana, Hanuman, Sabari, Guha and Jatayu, etc.

The story ended with the message to mankind that when man becomes closer to God, he does not require or desire anything materialistic. If he departs from Lord’s heart, he would be facing lots of obstacles, the apt example being that of Mother Sita’s agony, when she was deluded by Mareecha who turned golden deer. If you have kama (desire), you are separated from Rama (God). The narrative also depicted the great devotion and surrender of hanuman before wrapping up the story with the coronation of Lord Rama.

Swami was apparently moved during many portions of the narrative. One thing is for sure - He was completely engrossed in the presentation. Every edifice has a strong foundation on which it rests. The performers on stage were very well supported with the harmonium, keyboard, violin, tabla and mridangam below.

The impact of these instruments cannot be overemphasized. The story being completed, the trio went on to say how privileged we all were to be in the presence of Sai Rama. In joy they burst forth with the song, “Anandame Sai Bhajana, Brahmanamdame Sai Bhajana….” As they concluded, Swami called them to Him and began to interact with them again.

He asked one of them, "When will you take out your braces?" "In a month or two Swami."  "Get rid of them soon!" Another member of the trio was due to join the vaidehi medical college in Bangalore and Swami enquired about that from Him. Swami then asked, "Who is Vaidehi?" (Vaidehi also happens to be a name of Sita). The bhajans had begun and the one in progress was, "Kausalyatmaja Ramacharan."

Swami began to narrate another episode from the Ramayana to them. At this point even their teacher joined the interacting group. When they said to Swami that the musicians had also put in a lot of effort, Swami said that He knew that they toiled hard last night and that the trio did not leave them till they picked up everything!

The musicians also moved up the stage and joined the privileged group flocking at His feet. Swami posed for photos with them all and also blessed prasadam for distribution. Aarthi was taken and as Swami was leaving, He asked one of the photographers sitting below, "How was the programme?" He nodded that it was excellent. With a satisfied smile, Swami retired to Yajur Mandir at 6:30 p.m.

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