3 - Issue 5
MARCH 19th, 2005: BURRA KATHA PROGRAM BY THE XIth CLASS BOYS
The Eleventh Class boys presented a Burra Katha, a native folk art where 3 colourfully dressed singers render praise to God and His devotees in rich songs and melodious music. The boys rendered the katha (story) of Bhadrachala Ramdas, a great devotee of the Lord. Badrachala Ramdas' real name was Gopanna, who received the divine blessing of a golden voice, which he used to express his devotion for the Lord.
life was beset with tragedies. He lost his parents early. The king
also had him imprisoned and beaten as he used the tax collected to
build a temple for the Lord. But with his steadfast devotion to God,
he made Lord Rama Himself come down to earth and grant him liberation
from the bondage of this world.
MARCH 20th: KAVI SAMMELAN BY SSSIHL BOYS AND PEN DISTRIBUTION TO ALL THE STUDENTS
In the afternoon of March 20th, there was a Kavi Sammelan, a gathering of poets. Swami, after He entered, had chairs brought and arranged for the poets in a semi-circle in front of Him so that the budding poets need not sit on the floor.
The age old dictum that our best songs are those that speak of divine thought was proved once again. The student-poets spoke feelingly in a number of languages - Tamil, Oriya, Malayalam, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, English, Marathi, and Assamese. There were poems in Nepalese and Lithuanian also. They expressed a myriad of emotions- they spoke of their love for Him and His love for them; they spoke of how He has protected them time and time again; they spoke of the bliss of darshan and the exquisite pleasure of seeing Him for the first time. They spoke of His life and His message. They also spoke about His teachings and the bliss of bhakthi. The entire program was compered by 2 students who introduced each poet and gave a brief outline of what he was going to speak about.
At the end Swami distributed a special pen (a pen cum a flash-light) to all the poets and then He just kept on distributing till He had personally given a pen to all the 700 plus students of the School and the Institute. It took about 45 minutes, but He had a smile for each and every boy that came to receive the pen from His divine hands.
In an emotional and touching program, the outgoing class of the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School expressed their gratitude to Him for the countless blessings that He had showered on them during their sojourn at His Lotus Feet. The program titled "Sai Message" was an interesting mix of a number of items that had the audience enthralled.
It started with "dumb charades" - wherein a student would act (without speaking) one of Swami's pithy messages like - "Hands that serve are holier than lips that pray", "Birds with Me and wings with You" etc and the audience was asked to correctly guess the message. The next item again depicted (through acting), incidents in the lives of strong spiritual personalities like Kuchela, Jatayu, Sabari and the audience was asked to name the devotee of the Lord connected with the incident. Another interesting item was the asking of questions on significant incidents from Swami's life. The whole program was interlaced with students' songs that expressed their love for the Lord as well as spoken testimonials of His benediction and protection. A well thought out skit next expressed Swami's teaching on discipline. Using a cricket match as a back-drop they showed how when the rules were followed, made for an enjoyable game; but when there were no rules to regulate the game there was utter chaos. The program was brought to a close with another skit of a story of two sons. The elder one who respected and saluted his father by touching his feet became a judge in a High Court, but the younger son who did not respect the father only became a peon in the same court and now had to salute everyone who entered the court.
MARCH 25th: HOLI AND GOOD FRIDAY PROGRAMS BY THE SSSIHL BOYS
This year, Good Friday and Holi (a Hindu festival) both fell on the same day. The students had prepared skits to celebrate in a fitting manner these important festivals to both the Christian and the Hindu religions.
The skit started as a discussion between Joseph (a Christian) and Arvind (a Hindu) on the significance of Good Friday, the day when Jesus was nailed to the cross. Jesus taught 3 important lessons on this day- the infinite Love that God has for man, death is the dress of life, and the body is the temple of the Lord. They explained that Jesus was referring to the body as the temple of the Lord, when He asked the priests and money-lenders in the temple to break it and that He would rebuild it in 3 days.
The skit on Holi explained the significance of the festival wherein
Holika was destroyed when she tried to kill Prahalada, a devotee of
the Lord. This festival thus commemorates the triumph of good over
evil as well as being a celebration of Prahlad's devotion to the Lord.
They also explained the nine types of devotion and compared it to
the colours of the rainbow. The program concluded with a play in Telugu
wherein there was a competition in Heaven as to who was the best father
between divine personalities like Dasaratha, Indra, Nanda and Dronacharya.
It concludes with the observation that God Himself is the best father
when He incarnates on earth and is the Divine parent of every child
THE MORNING PROGRAM:
The essential element in the Holi festival is the singing of Holi songs related to the frolics of Krishna with the Gopis. These scenes were enacted in the drama through dance to a back-ground of enchanting songs. The drama started with the Shanti mantram and a vandana. The songs included, "Khelat Holi Shyam Murari", "Baba Ke Aangan me aaye ham", "Ras Bahri Holi Khelat Murari", "Aaj Biraj me Hori hai re rasiya", and "Garba Geet". The final song was "Sandesh Bihar me Jab se aaya", which was a paean of praise to Swami. The song brought forth that Sai's message in Bihar
is turning the land of weeds into Heaven. The compassionate Lord has woken up the residents from slumber and given them shelter at His Lotus Feet. They have all taken to seva, resolving all the differences amongst themselves and leaving all worldly attachments.
THE EVENING PROGRAM
The devotees from the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organizations assembled in Prashanti Nilayam to usher in Ugadi, the Telugu New Year at the Lotus Feet. About 30 devotees from Mehaboobnagar had decorated the Mandir with kalasam, rangoli or floral patterns, mango leaves' buntings and floral arrangements on the Mandir facade in the traditional Andhra style for this auspicious occasion.
Sri S.V. Giri, the ex Vice-Chancellor of the SSSIHL gave the introductory speech and rendered thanks to Swami for allowing the devotees to celebrate this auspicious event. The event was kicked off by the Panchaga Sravanam (reading the almanac to predict the events of the coming year) by Vedic scholars from the Keesaragutta Veda Pathasala, Nalgonda district in Andhra Pradesh.
About 40 youth from Hyderabad next presented a musical program "Vasantha Hrudayam" to celebrate Ugadi. The program had nine melodious songs revolving around the theme of the Sai message of Sathya, Dharma, Shanti, Prema and Ahimsa. The unity and integrity of the nation, value based systems in life, selfless service, gratitude to mother and motherland were the highlights of the songs rendered in a mellifluous voice and divine music. This auspicious day also saw Swami bless a quarterly magazine "Sai Seva Jhari" that will bring out the news of the various service activities of the organization in Andhra Pradesh on a monthly basis.
THE EVENING PROGRAM
This was followed by a concert "Sayee Saranam" by a youth
group from Visakhapatnam. The melodious songs included "Siddhi
Vinayakam Gananayakam", "Vachindhi Vachindi Sai
Ugadi", "Andhari Bhandhuvaya Bhadrachala Ramayaa",
"Shirdi Nivasi Sai Shankara", "Rang de
Chunariya" and so on. After some more songs, Swami asked
the group to sing bhajans, before the program concluded with Arathi
and distribution of prasadam.
The camp was inaugurated by Swami with a divine discourse on the morning of the 11th, wherein He exhorted everyone to realize the term "human quality" as something that emerges from one's own self. The festivities in the afternoon was a concert with a presentation of devotional songs by Smt. Radhika Tilak and Kum. Gayathri Asokan.
This was followed by a drama entitled "Uthistha Jagaratha" which tells the story of Kiran, a modern wayward youth from the U.S., who is taught by his grandparents the values of Bharatiya culture and transformed into a Sai Youth. Using the grandfather as a narrator, the drama narrated some incidents from the life of Sri Ramakrishna to effect a transformation in his young disciple Sri Vivekananda. This has a telling effect on Kiran and the transformation is complete.
Swami in His divine discourse said that in this short conference, the youth have dealt at length on various aspects such as the duties and responsibilities of youth and how they should mould their character. But however, He said, let all your activities be suffused with love and do not be carried away by the vagaries of the mind. Love everybody only for the sake of love. When you extend your love to all others, you attain the state of non-dualism, which is true devotion.
This was followed by a music program by the famous vocalists -Sri Ganesh Sundaram, Sri Biju Narayanan, Sri Padmakumar and Sri Radhakrishnan. Their songs included "Vinayaka Vignashaka", "Bhaja Govindam", "Chandana Charchitha", "Oruneramenkilum" and many others before arathi was taken.
The afternoon session saw a magnificent concert by Sri Kavalam Sreekumar, a famous singer from Kerala. Fittingly he sang the "Sree Ganapathini", "Yarukuthamtheriyum" and many Meera bhajans that brought the conference to a close on a deep and fervent devotional note.
This year Tamil New Years' day and Vishu (the Kerala New Year day) happened to fall on the same day according to the Hindu calendar. Thus the morning of the 14th saw devotees in their thousands from these 2 states gathered in a richly decorated Sai Kulwant Hall, to usher in the New Year at the Lotus Feet.
Sri G.K. Raman, Convenor of the Sri Sathya Sai Trust, Tamilnadu addressed the gathering, in which he sought Bhagavan's blessings for the New Year. He also profusely thanked Swami for the gift of water to Chennai city that had considerably reduced the woes of its citizens. Sri Rama Subramaniam, a prominent Chennai lawyer, spoke next of his family's long relationship with Swami and also the divine protection that He extended to all of them in times of need. The last speaker of the morning was Sri E. Mukundan, President of the Kerala State Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organizations who again thanked Swami and also spoke of Swami's blessings for the youth and devotees of Kerala. A fine bhajan rendition by singers from Kerala and Tamilnadu brought the morning's festivities to a close.
In the afternoon, in spite of the sweltering heat, we saw a superb
rendition of devotional group songs by the Sundaram Bhajan group from
Chennai to a thrilled audience. The songs included "Om Gam Ganapathe",
"Sayeeshwara Nee Padamula", "Brahman Okate", "Vandanamu",
"and Sri Marga Bandu Stothhtram" and so on. A beautiful
"Venkatachala Nilayam" brought the concert to a close.
With Swami remaining in Puttaparthi this year, even in April, we had the unexpected bonus of celebrating Ramanavami, or the birth anniversary of Lord Rama in Prashanti Nilayam. Usually this festival is celebrated in Brindavan, where Swami goes a few days after Sivarathri.
After Swami's arrival in Sai Kulwant Hall, He signalled Sri S.V. Giri to speak. Immediately after Sri Giri's speech, Swami immediately got up to give the divine discourse. Swami transported everyone back in time as He thrillingly recounted Rama stories. The Ramayana came alive as He talked of the divine births of the 4 brothers, the bringing up of the brothers and the close relationship between them. He went on to recount how Rama and Lakshmana accompanied Sage Valmiki to protect the yagna and also how Sri Rama won Sita's hand in the Swayamvara contest. Swami stressed how Rama always upheld dharma in all His actions and asked everyone to emulate Him.
In the afternoon, the boys sang some group songs in the mandir on Lord Rama before the evening bhajans.
The whole ashram had been abuzz for about 3-4 days with word that Swami is leaving with a group of people to Kodaikanal. Soon after April 14th, one by one Swami started picking the chosen few, students and devotees, who had won His Grace to accompany Him for a lifetime trip with the Lord to the scenic hill station of Kodaikanal in Tamilnadu for a few days.
On April 19th, Swami boarded a chartered Indian Airlines Airbus to make the flight to Madurai with about 85 excited and thrilled devotees and students. The boys had come in early and were waiting for Swami. Soon the devotees and their families also arrived and checked in at the Prashanti Nilayam airport. After the airplane landed around 11:30 am, Swami's car also arrived in a few minutes. His car had taken almost a half hour to make the short journey from Prashanti Nilayam to the airport due to the emotional send-off given by the residents along the route. Swami also in His infinite mercy went beyond the airport to grant His darshan to the residents of the neighbouring villages who were pining for Him. After entering the airport Swami directly drove to the aircraft and entered it. The boys and devotees soon followed and the luggage was quickly loaded. The plane took off at 12:30 PM from Prashanti Nilayam airport with its most precious passenger seated in seat 1-C.
As we write this, the Sun God is blessing Puttaparthi profusely. So till next time, we wish all of you a pleasant summer and pray for Swami's love and blessings for you and your family. Keep cool by thinking of the Lord!
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