November 23, 2008 – The Sacred 83rd Birthday of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
The beauty of the Avatar is that when He descends on the earth, He not only assumes the earthly responsibilities for which He actually has no binding, but He also indulges humanity in their joys and celebrations. So, every year, without fail, as devotees congregate for His birthday, He too pays special attention to the day and celebrates it with them. That is not because it is His birthday, but because it is an occasion that the devotees revel and joyously congregate. Surely, any other occasion that confers the same kind of joy would be given the same kind of attention by Swami! He lives for His devotees who love Him. And the devotees strive to live for Him who gives His all for them.
It was from about 5:00 a.m. that the serpentine queues to get into Prasanthi Nilayam ashram began. All roads in Puttaparthi actually lead to the Mandir which is the heart of the town, but on this day none of those roads seemed sufficient for the huge numbers of devotees assembling for a sight of the Lord. These scenes are so powerful in the hope and positivity they evoke. If at all one is confounded anytime by negative thoughts and assailed by doubts as to if there is any hope in this violence and hatred ridden world, a reminiscence of these scenes will certainly calm one's turbulent mind. There are so many people alive who are ready to give their all for God who is Truth, Righteousness, Peace and Love, and that is enough reassurance that the world is soon going to find Truth, Auspiciousness and Beauty - Sathyam, Shivam and Sundaram. In a regulated manner, these crowds were slowly allowed into the Mandir premises, and soon the Sai Kulwant Hall was filled to its capacity. Though we will now jump ahead of time, it is important that we know an important fact.
At 11:30 a.m. on this day, when all the morning festivities at the Mandir had concluded, there were still people in the queues with the hope that if not in the morning, they would see their beloved Swami in the evening!
Now coming back to the morning session, inside the Sai Kulwant Hall, every inch of space has been taken up. A beautiful arch with the lettering 83rd Birthday of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba was seen richly decorated with flowers and other paraphernalia. The dais too was a treat to the eye with magnificent flower decorations. Video cameras were stationed at important points to catch all the live action. Pressmen had cramped every available space in the exclusive gallery allotted to them with their scribble pads. Lensmen too had taken their positions in their allotted places. It was at about 9:45 a.m. that Swami arrived from the Yajur Mandir. There were a host of people waiting to wish Him on this day that was so special for them. Roses were exchanged and the Kalasham of the Veda group was blessed. The band leaders of the different bands offered their prostrations at His feet on behalf of their respective bands.
There was the wonderful procession to usher the Lord into the Sai Kulwant Hall. Led by the bands of the Primary School, the Anantapur campus and the Prasanthi Nilayam campus, there were the Vedam chanting students from the Primary School, Higher Secondary School and the Sri Sathya Sai University following and completing the procession. Swami, like the previous day, allowed the procession to proceed before Him.
“Reserve the best for the end” it is said, and towards the end was Swami in His shining pure white robe on a wonderful throne chair which was golden in colour. Wherever Swami went, there was a surge in the crowds. The hinges of the gates seemed strained to the last strand of metal as people cramped behind them to have a glimpse of Swami in this beautiful form. The Sri Rudrah Prasnah chanting was on. Swami moved to the stage and as He sat on the centre stage, the Prashanti Nilayam band struck up the world's most popular tune, "Happy birthday to you." Everyone seemed to clap and sway with it. Following that, the girls' band from Anantapur too played their version of the same song. Soon after that, like a cycle of tunes, each band began to play. The Primary bagpipes and trumpets band too joined the party. Swami sat almost expressionless listening to all of them. When the kettle drums band from the Primary school was playing, Swami told the University band boys to sit down. He then gave the same instruction to the Anantapur band.
As the Vedam chanting continued, Swami moved into the veranda where there was an array of cakes. He was welcomed at each cake and He lit the candle and cut the cake. There were about 9 cakes in all and Swami gave everyone joy as He went about the portico. He also moved to the ladies side to cut cakes from the Anantapur campus. Before that, He cut a huge specially decorated cake which had Lord Krishna adorning it. The governor of Karnataka, His Excellency Mr. Rameshwar Thakur was present on the dais paying obeisance to Bhagavan. He presented Swami with a garland and told Him that it was his privilege to be present and witness such a grand occasion. Swami blessed him.
Then the cricket legend, Mr. Sunil Gavaskar presented Swami a cricket bat signed by the members of the 1983 World Cup Winning Team. Swami took the bat and stared at it for long as if remembering how He had specially blessed those members to win what was their cup of Life. Then Swami moved out through the portico to the stage. He signaled to the students to start bhajans and after a while even songs like "Sri Raghavam Dasarathmaja Aprameyam ...", "Namo Sathya Sai Baba ...", "Manishini Madhavuni Chese Mahine Swargamuga MarcheSathya Sai Bhagawan Ki Enta Premayo, Enta Premayo …" were sung. This final song has a profound meaning, which is worth mentioning in this context: "The love of Sathya Sai Baba for humanity is so incomparable and indescribable that He is transforming humans into divine and earth into heaven."
And so, on the birthday morning, as hundreds of top notch musicians worldwide prayed for a chance to sing for Him, (there were at least half a dozen maestros in the Mandir itself) it was the privilege of the students to sing for their Swami. After the songs, Swami received aarthi and retired as prasadam was distributed to all.
The evening session proved to be another unforgettable one for all those present physically in Sai Kulwant Hall, especially for the staff and students of Muddenahalli. It was almost 5:40 p.m. when Swami came for darshan. Once He reached the stage, He asked Prof. Anil Kumar to speak a few words in Telugu, and introduce the speakers for the evening.
Mr. V. Srinivasan, All India President of the Sai Organisations spoke first, and was followed at 6.15 p.m. by Mr. Ajit Popat from the UK.
Mr. Srinivasan said that it was a defining moment in the chronicles of time because on this day the universe, the galaxies, planets, sun, moon, asteroids, all were fortunate to have 1,008 darshans of Sri Sathya Sai Avatar. Referring to Bhagavan's discourse on the occasion of 27th Convocation of the University, the learned speaker said that Bhagawan has declared that in 28 years time, India would be the vanguard of all the countries of the world. All would be one.
There would be absolute unity. Swami has brought hope to the seemingly loveless world. The erudite speaker also said that after the morning function that day, Swami told him and others to construct permanent houses in Orissa to those who are rendered homeless by the recent floods. Bhagavan is love personified. The message of the previous day's drama is love. Bhagavan reaches out to the people of the villages. The speaker as All India President had many such experiences when he visited different parts of the country.
Mr. Ajit Popat began his speech by offering his salutations to Bhagavan in his customary manner – Namaste Prema Rupaya Namaste Paramatmane, Namaste Shirdi Nathaya, Namaste Sathya Sayine. Mr. Popat, in his inimitable style, said that the ABC of life is Always Be Compassionate/Charitable. Man at the time of birth cries ‘Koham’ (who am I?); people now, instead of saying ‘Soham’ say 'phonum' (referring to the proliferation and usage of mobile phones). The speaker said that one should get up from bed at Brahmamurtam (early hours in the morning) and do Sadhana.
He mentioned how one should be energetic, efficient and enterprising. If we want to be with the Master, we should be efficient. He quoted Bhagavan's saying Follow the master, face the devil, fight till the end and finish the game. Every darshan of the Lord is precious and important. That understanding is the dawn of golden age in us. The intensity of our devotion should be like a weary traveller in the midst of a desert at 12 noon. Our devotion should be as intense as the thirst of a weary traveler in the midst of a desert at 12 noon. Mr. Popat prayed to Swami on behalf of millions of devotees in U.K. and Europe to visit Sai Kutir in U.K. He concluded his speech by saying, 'Let us love all for the sake of the Master, Bhagavan, and serve all in His name."
It was after Mr. Popat's speech that the thunderbolt seemed to strike in the Mandir as Swami signaled for His mikes to be brought up. Below is a summary of the Divine Discourse.
All the names and forms are but the manifestations of the Supreme Being who is Existence‑Knowledge‑Bliss Absolute and non‑dual. He is the embodiment of Sathyam, Sivam, Sundaram (Truth, Goodness, Beauty). He is Sathya Sai Maheswaram.
Embodiments of Love!
Bharat is a highly sacred land. In this sacred land of Bharat beauty lies in forbearance. In fact, character is more important than even life. Such principle is getting wiped out of this land. We follow the principles of foreign culture. Just as a mighty elephant is not aware of its strength, Bharatiyas are not aware of their innate strength. This is the sad plight of the Bharatiyas. An illiterate mahout controls the mighty elephant.
The Vedas declare that no property or association will confer immortality, only Thyaga (sacrifice) will confer immortality. We have ruined ourselves because of the absence of unity. Therefore, it is most essential to develop unity. Calling ourselves as human beings we behave like animals. Suppose we have partaken of a few delicious items. But the next morning it becomes faecal matter. Though it comes out of one's own self, it has to be discarded. We have to accept all that is good in society.
There is nothing great in doing good to those who have done good to us. Greatness lies in doing good to those who have harmed us. Yad Bhavam Tad Bhavathi (As are the feelings, so is the result). When our feelings are good, our actions will also be good. After eating mango fruit, one cannot get the belch of cucumber. If there is goodness in the mind, all that you do will be good, but when there is no goodness in the mind, all that you do will also be bad. There is a place called Muddenahalli near Chikballapur. All the inhabitants of that place are very poor. Earlier when the school was built, many extended their help to construct classrooms and a hall for bhajans. But to pursue higher studies, the people have to go to Bangalore since there is no university in Muddenahalli.
Today I have decided to have a separate campus affiliated to SriSathyaSaiUniversity in Muddenahalli. Bhagawan's Will is bound to happen. The work will start from tomorrow. Therefore, Swami has Willed to have SathyaSaiUniversity in Muddenahalli. The people living in Muddenahalli are village folk. They live by physical labour. To pursue higher studies, they have to go to cities or towns. Once they have completed their education, they can go elsewhere to earn a living. Swami has decided to inculcate spirituality through Bhagavatam, Bhagawad Gita and Ramayana. It takes three years to learn. Without spirituality, all education will be in vain. There are many educated people but they are not doing anything to society. They indulge in gambling and other unhealthy practices. When you direct children in the right way, they will become responsible citizens. Therefore, Bhagavan has decided to start University Campus in Muddenahalli. It will take 2 to 3 crores to construct the University Campus, but Swami has decided to do it.
In Prasanthi Nilayam, we have students like pure gold. There may be some defects, but they would correct them. Not only correction, they do adjustment too. Today the elders are responsible for spoiling the students. Nowadays students are correcting even parents. If the father is a drunkard, the son corrects him by saying that he will earn a bad name in society. If the children are to be good, the elders should be perfect in their life. If the elders smoke cigarettes and drink liquor in front of them, naturally the children too get addicted to these vices.
I am going to build a hostel and campus in Muddenahalli with all facilities. It would be completed in one year. This is Bhagavan's Divine Will. Bhagavan has been waiting to make this declaration.
Many extol Swami in many ways. Swami is not happy when He is extolled. Swami is love personified. People may speak ill of Him, but Swami is full of love. There are no enemies for Swami. He takes care of everyone like children. The love of Swami can be compared to a thousand mothers love. With this power, Swami is carrying on His mission. Swami corrects people by feigning anger when they commit mistakes, but He is never really angry. You are not recognising Swami's love in depth. There is no difference in the heart of Swami. Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu (May all the beings of all the worlds be happy!) Swami wishes all to be happy and healthy with plenty and prosperity.
Swami never asks for money from anyone. Out of thousands of devotees present here, not even a single person can say that Bhagavan had asked money from him. If there is anyone like then, please stand up. (There was a stunned silence for about 20 seconds).See there are none. Money comes and goes, morality comes and grows. Ramdas spent all the money he collected as tax to build a temple for Rama. He was incarcerated by the king when he came to know of this. In this moment of agony, Ramdas cried to the Lord, "O Lord, you flaunt all your jewels in all grandeur, but see my condition now." But afterwards Ramdas repented and asked for forgiveness from the Lord. People speak according to their whims and fancies. But Swami has no such imagination. People may say thousand bad things about Swami, but He never punishes them. You may question now, but later in future you will repent for your mistake. No one has recognised even a fraction of His thoughts. They do not recognise the love that comes out of His heart. All should be happy and live in love. We may not have property and wealth, but if we have the wealth of love, we are sure to succeed. When you are confronted by difficulties, loss and grief, consider them as God's gift. When anyone asks your name, you should not say Rama, Krishna, but you should say, "I am I".
I and mine are the origin of man's ego. We should first of all give up this quality of ego. Bhagavan wants you to live long and stand united. Let us all grow together, move together and live together.
Swami has made drinking water available to one crore people in Chennai. I have brought water all the way from river Krishna. What the British could not do, I did it. I gave drinking water to the people living in the upland areas of East and West Godavari districts. Bhagavan always does some or the other good thing. Now Bhagavan is going to build a separate campus affiliated to SathyaSaiUniversity in Muddenahalli. Any Muddenahalli teachers in the gathering? Did you hear Bhagavan's words? Be happy. Narayana Rao, the Principal of Muddenahalli is a double doctorate holder. He takes care of the entire management. He was waiting for Bhagavan's compassion. (Bhagavan called Dr. Narayana Rao to the stage to speak a few words. Bhagawan spoke in Kannada language. He told him, "Consider this as an act of laying the foundation stone. Publish this good news in the newspapers and begin work from tomorrow itself. )
"I have no words to express my thanks. He is always looking after us. We will do His work. We will do our best to please Him in all ways", said Dr. Narayana Rao in his short speech.
You share this bliss with everybody. Be happy always.
Swami then concluded His discourse with the bhajan, "Rama Rama Rama Sita." Blessing everyone, Swami received aarthi and retired for the day.
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- Heart2Heart Team