I know no other word than LOVE. I speak only of LOVE. I am moved by nothing but LOVE.
-Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, 2nd July,2004
Sai Kulwanth Hall
This was the emphatic message given by Bhagavan to the thousands who had assembled in the Sai Kulwanth hall on the morning of Gurupurnima, the 2nd of July. The last few days had been a feast of Love, with various dramas and musicals transporting the devotees into realms of ecstasy. Bhagavan’s message was the icing on the cake.
The celebrations had begun on the 29th of June itself, with thousands of devotees pouring in from Maharashtra to celebrate Ashadi Ekadasi. For those of you who are wondering what this Ashadi is, here is some background to the festival. A few years ago , every state in India was asked to choose a specific festival to be celebrated in Prasanthi Nilayam. While West Bengal chose ‘Dasssera’ and Gujarath chose ‘Bestu Varas’, Maharasahtra chose ‘Ashadi Ekadasi’. The festival is connected with Lord Panduranga Vithal, another name for Lord Krishna, whose ancient temple is situated in the village of Pandharpur in Maharashtra. The beautiful idol of Lord Vithal has inspired the love and devotion of millions over the past few centuries and nurtured many a saint and sage. Every year on the Ashadi Ekadasi, a procession, which starts a few days earlier in villages of Dehu and Alandi, reaches Pandharpur and culminates with the darshan of Lord Vithal. And upon seeing the beautiful form of their beloved Lord, the devotees break into a rapturous dance and song to the accompaniment of cymbals and drums.
However, for the devotees of Swami, especially from Maharashtra, the festival comes with a big difference: instead of being content with an idol, they have the great boon of performing before Lord Vithal Himself ! They sing “ Parthi is our Pandharpur! Sai is none other than our Vithal !”
That in short, is the background of Ashadi in Parthi. Ashadi is celebrated with two events : a Bal Vikas rally in the morning and a drama in the evening. While the rally is performed by the children from Mumbai, the evening drama is performed by a particular district form Maharashtra. The rallies, centering on Bhagavan’s teachings, are presented beautifully through dance and drama. The evening drama is on well known saints of Maharashtra, who were mainly householders and yet were able to attain the highest state of bliss.
On the morning of 29th June, the Sai Kulwanth hall was decorated beautifully with flowers and banners depicting Swami’s teachings. The dias where Swami sits had a backdrop of Lord Vithal carrying on his shoulders, across the sea, two of his devotees- Tukaram, the lover of the form of God and Jnandev the worshipper of the Formless God! Both were dear to the Lord !
Around eight in the morning Bhagavan arrived into the Kulwanth hall. As a melodious song welcoming him was being rendered, He went up to the stage and granted darshan to the tens of thousands who assembled there. He then raised both His hands and blessed them. There was a thunderous applause as an expression of gratitude for this Divine Assurance. As the applause subsided one could hear the sound of cymbals and drums at a distance. Soon, a group of men dressed in the traditional Maharashtrian attire came jumping, dancing and shouting ‘Jai Sai Vithala!’. One of the men approached Bhagavan and reverentially offered flowers at His lotus feet. He tried to tell something to Swami, but his heart was too full for any words to be uttered. The tears in his eyes conveyed all that he wanted to say!
Next there was a dance drama entitled ‘The Supreme Verdict’ by the Bal Vikas children of Mumbai. The main characters are Swaroop and Sarvesh. Swaroop believes in the worship of a God with form while Sarvesh believes in a formless God. Both are good friends but each believes his path to be the supreme. One day, as they are involved in an argument, they suddenly come face to face with Yama, the God of death who pronounces both of them guilty, under the Divine Penal Code, of improper worship of God! They are puzzled and beg the Lord of death to revise his sentence. Yama asks them to appeal in a Divine Court that consists of Madhvacharya, Ramanujacharya and Sankaracharya as the judges and a jury consisting of Kabir, Guru Nank, St Francis, Tyagaraja and the likes. Madhavcharya was the proponent of Dualism, Ramanuja of qualified monism and Shankara of monism.
The trial begins and both Swaroop and Sarvesh argue for their cases vehemently. Both are dismissed. The eminent members of the Jury then come one by one and express their experience of Divinity: God is both formless and with form! One has to use the form(outside) to experience the formless(inside)! (Even Sankaracharya, the great proponent of non-dualism composed a number of devotional songs on various forms of Divinity).
The Judges then give the Supreme Verdict, the words of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, on how to experience Divinity:
Embodiments of Love !
Though you declare that you are in search of God, the fact is that you are not doing it. The one who searches for himself in the outer world is a fool.
The moment you recoginse that ‘I am I’ , then and there itself Reality is expressed. Therefore it is most essential for everyman to turn inward and know his true nature.
You all say ‘Sai Baba, Sai Baba’….The fact is I am not (merely) Sai Baba. I am You and You are me!
What a wonderful drama it was! Swami was very touched! He went down the dias and posed for photographs with the kids. He gave them bundles of wafers with his hand. The children were crying inconsolably out of sheer happiness. If one thinks of it, it is really astounding. How many of us had that sublime feeling of bliss at such an early age in our life?
In the evening, there was a drama entitled Khwaja Moinuddun Chisti, Garib-un Nawaz. Chisti was a Sufi saint from Persia who came, upon a Divine command, to Ajmer in India. He lived there for a number of years preaching the message of Love and Brotherhood. It was a well-enacted musical presentation that was enjoyed by everyone.
On almost every evening form the 30th of June till the 6th of July there were cultural programmes by the different states of India and a few overseas centres. Though the detailed description of these programmes is out of the scope of this article, one thing that could be said of them was that all of them brought home to the audience different aspects of Bhagavan’s message in a most articulate way. One had to commend the efforts and the creativity of the teachers involved in these projects. Swami would get involved in these dramas so much, just like a child. Where there were scenes of sadness, His face would become small and in scenes depicting some happy moment or a moment of deep devotion, for instance that of the Gopis for Krishna, tears of joy would well up in His eyes. At the end of each presentation, Bhagavan would make the children happy by speaking to them, posing for photographs, creating a pendant here, a chain there and patting them on their backs!
Came the 2nd of July, the day of Gurupurnima. At around 7 am, Bhagavan came into the Kulwanth Hall like a first ray of sunshine and lit up the hearts of his devotees. The students began the session with their melodious songs in praise of the JagathGuru, Sai. Next to the students were a number of physically handicapped boys who could not walk. Swami kept gazing at them lovingly. After a while, He signaled with His hand for something. Soon the sevadal were bringing specially made tricycles and making the boys sit on them. Each of the boy, would fold his hands and express gratitude to Bhagavan who blessed him with His Abhaya Hasta, the upraised palm. As they were departing from the hall taking their precious gifts and Swami’s Divine Assurance, Swami, the Divine mother was still not satisfied. He sent one of His students to fetch some beautiful shawls to be given to those less fortunate brothers. Love always gives, gives and gives!
Swami then blessed two elders to address the devotees-Sri Indulal Shah, formerly the International chairman of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organizations and Mr. Goldstien, the chairman of Prasanthi Council. Both the speakers spoke on one central theme: the invisible Power of Swami. Sri Shah quoted from a number of ancient scriptures which prophesied about the Sai Avatar. Only one fourth of the work done by the Avatar is comprehensible to Humans. The rest of it is beyond their comprehension and goes on in other planes. The time was fast coming when the whole world will be at His feet. Mr.Goldstien too reminded the gathering that one should not get carried away by the apparent physical limitations of Baba. Baba is much more than the visible form. All the organizational work that is being carried out is just a grain of sand on a vast beach compared to the actual work of Transformation that He is effecting in millions of hearts.
Swami then delivered His Divine Gurupurnima message. It was one continuous song of Love:
Embodiments of Love !
You cannot find anything more sacred than love in the world. Today, you will find worldly and physical love everywhere. But it is difficult to find love suffused with Atmic bliss. Love is not merely that which exists between two individuals at the physical level. True love is that which exists between two hearts. This Divine Love permeates the entire universe.
Whatever I speak, it is only Love. I do not know any other word. When someone converses with Me lovingly, My joy knows no bounds. If people employ empty rhetoric without love to praise me, I am not at all pleased. You call me ‘Sai’ with love, I will readily respond saying ‘Oyi’. Any amount of prayer devoid of Love cannot move me.
There is nothing that can liberate you as easily as Pure and Selfless Love. On this auspicious Gurupurnima day, Love is the most precious gift I give unto you! All other gifts are useless devoid of Love.
That summed it up all. What we do with this beautiful gift of Love shall determine our destiny. Meera sang, ‘Payoji maine Naamratan’, I received the jewel of the Lord’s name. We too have received the ‘Premratan’, the jewel of His Love. The treasure of His Love. Share it and it multiplies. Hoard it and it diminishes. The decision is ours!
Jai Sai Ram!