December 25, 2009 – Glorious Christmas in Prasanthi

Wishing everyone a merry Christmas and a joyous New Year ahead, we begin the story of His Christmas glory! It had been announced on Christmas eve that the morning programme on December 25 would begin at 9:00 a.m. Christmas gets special at Prashanthi for it’s the Father of Christ who descends to bless His children!

At 8:50 a.m., Swami arrived from the Yajur Mandir and was greeted by a big Christmas contingent. The three wise men, kings from the Orient, the shepherds and the angels had, it seemed, arrived to welcome Him! The procession led Him into the hall and the Lord was in pristine white! A mere sight of Him and the audience burst into a thrilled applause.

As Swami passed by, a look at His feet and one would be lost in raptures of delight! They looked such a glowing brown and on top of them was silken white. Crowning it was a golden border. Ah! Those redeeming beautiful feet! Swami moved through the entire hall for granting darshan and then moved to the portico.

Half a dozen cakes awaited the honour of being 'lit' by Him. The first cake had on it Mother Mary carrying infant Jesus. Swami lit the lamp and made a cut with the knife. The second cake had Jesus standing in all his glory.

The students' cake was an ancient castle and Swami looked at it for quite some time before lighting the candle and cutting the cake. He then arrived to the centre of the stage and sitting there asked for the programme. The band leader for the University students and his deputy moved up the stage with a card and Swami blessed them to begin their performance.

They began with a bang and the highlight of their performance was the ever green tune - Jingle Bells. Before that, however, they played the famous Hungarian Dance of the great composer, Johannes Brahms, with great elan.

Everyone began to clap along with them. After three pieces, Swami told them that it was enough.

The band leader looked at Swami with pleading eyes and asked, "One more?"  With a mischievous gleam in His eyes, Swami asked back, "One more? Okay..." And then a smile blossomed on His effulgent face. It was then that they played the Jingle Bells song.

The band gave a beautiful opening to the morning and then Swami asked for the music boys to begin their performance. They moved up the stage with the card and Swami blessed it. The programme in the morning was truly evoking and beautiful. It started as a conversation between Uncle John and his little nephew, David. They travelled through History with the birth of Christ and likened it to the birth of Sathya Sai.

The singing began with a lovely saxophone piece which was melodious on the ear. More than that, it was comforting to the soul and filling for the heart. One of the songs was, "Let your Glory reign. We are thirsty Lord." It was so difficult to sit out of the song. Everyone was simply drawn into its rich feelings and music. And when in its climax everyone sang, "Fill us now" many eyes were moist and were speaking in their own language of Love!

Then came another memorable song, "God is good all the time." It began with the lead singer telling aloud, "God is good" and everyone chorusing, "All the time!" One could feel gratitude for the Lord oozing in the hearts and Swami too was touched by it! He seemed so moved as the song was sung.

The Santa song arrived soon and along with it came not one but two Santas! They moved to Swami with their chocolates' bags and balloons. Swami took chocolates from one bag and put it into another. He then dispatched the Santas into the excited audience. They went about throwing chocolates and everyone was stretching out for these were chocolates blessed by Him.

There was a lot of gaiety and fun in the air when the popular song “Rudolph, the reindeer” began. Also came along the carol, "You better watch out". And all this while, the eyes were feasting on His beautiful form decked in white. That beauty is so "out of the world"! It is Universal beauty indeed! At one time, Swami asked, "Is it over? One more song?" There was exactly one song left that they had prepared!

With a broad smile they said, "Swami one more song." Swami smiled back and asked them to sing. The dozen or so songs seemed to be over in a jiffy and the appreciation for the singing was evident on every Christian face. All had been thrilled and touched on Christmas and Swami also said that He was very happy.

One of the students moved up to the stage and expressed gratitude for the wonderful opportunity. Swami said, "Do not thank." The boy also expressed that all were very eager to listen to Him speak in the evening.

Swami then called the chief overseas organiser, Mr. Behner and told him to announce the evening programme. He expressed gratitude to Swami for the grand blessings on the Christmas morn. The evening programme would begin at 4:00 p.m. it was announced. After that, Swami moved back to His residence.

The evening session began at 4:10 p.m. with Swami's arrival. The Sai Kulwant Hall was packed. Swami took a complete darshan round and as He came to the stage, He asked the secretary of the Central Trust as to who the speakers for the evening were. Mr. John Behner then moved up to Swami and presented the speakers for the evening. Swami asked him to make the necessary announcements. He began with gratitude to Swami first and then to a host of other people who had played their own roles in making the Christmas celebrations at Puttaparthi a grand success.

He then introduced the two speakers for the day - Ms. Yuliana Pulgar and Mr. Douglas Saunders from New Zealand. The 18 year old Yuliana spoke powerfully as she narrated how Swami had blessed her with so much Love and Grace even before she had arrived in the Divine physical presence. She gave complete credit to Swami for the Hatha Yoga healing she had started from a year now. She narrated of the miraculous healing that took place at her clinic wherein five women, unable to conceive, were now expectant mothers! As she was recounting how Swami was teaching her day by day to give up attachment to the physical and concentrate on the soul, Swami seemed so moved. Soon she concluded and the second speaker took the dais.

Mr. Saunders too spoke of his experiences that brought him to Swami and kept him with Him! Having come to Swami, he gave up the years of association with alcohol and cigarettes. He was tearful with gratitude as he completed his speech.

After that, Mr. Behner requested Swami for His Divine discourse. Swami agreed with a smile and everyone was joyous. The mikes were placed in front of Swami and He began.

Swami spoke about the great culture of Bharath and stated that though there may be great saints and good people from many nations, all the incarnations of God happened in Bharath alone. He reiterated that though the names and forms vary, God is one; He is all pervasive and He is love. The human values of Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Love and Non-violence are paramount. Love among them is supreme.

Love is not the worldly one that we see between husband and wife and other relationships. This love never fades with time or circumstances. Swami exhorted everyone to forget the past for it was gone and not worry about the future. Live in the present and think of the Divine, He said. No amount of studies is of any value without values.

As He seemed to conclude, Swami called out for one of the foreign devotees seated in front and asked him what he was working as. Being Russian, he did not seem to understand English. Swami then asked him, "You like Sai Baba?" To this he nodded vigorously with a twinkle in the eye. Swami smiled and waving His hand, materialized a gold ring for him.

Swami then asked him his name. "Marsel" was the answer and Swami repeated it as if confirming that He had got it right! The ring seemed tight on the finger and Swami said, "I will change it!" Swami then asked as to how many Russians were there. "Twenty three gents" was the answer. Swami then began to sing the bhajan, "Hari Bhajan Bina Sukh Shanti Nahi" and needless to say it had a vociferous following.

Swami then told the students to sing the popular bhajan that begins with the alaap of “Allah Hu Akbar”. After this, Swami asked whether any of the Russians in the front would like to sing bhajans. One of them volunteered and sang, "Manasa Bhajore Guru Charanam." That bhajan too was enthusiastically followed after which Swami asked for Aarthi.

After the aarthi, all the Russians rose on their knees and asked Swami for a group photograph. Swami agreed at first but then He said, "Not today. I will give tomorrow. The lighting will be better then." This was conveyed to them through a student and Swami smilingly blessed them. Then, He moved back towards His residence.

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