The Scintillating Story of His Splendour
Sahasra Poorna Chandra Darshanam - An overview and inner view
Encase the ocean of Pure Love in a vial of Supreme Splendour and voila, you set a million seeking hearts aflutter! The chemistry of the moment is sheer magic, and its memory, simply spectacular. Etched deep into the collective DNA of the human consciousness, the recent celebration that marked the physical presence of the Avatar on this planet through a thousand full moons, lent a whole new meaning to the concept of the global village, as the world seemed to have descended on Prasanthi Nilayam, the abode of Supreme Peace, to experience a spiritual high that is hard to capture in prose, poetry or mathematical formula. Yet, for each of the hundred thousand participants on the ground and thousands of virtual participants around the globe, the event marked the culmination of sincere spiritual aspirations of their soul, an answer to their deepest yearnings.
CELEBRATING DIVINE RADIANCE ON EARTH
The Glory of the Grand Celebration
November 17, 2008 – the day posterity will preserve like the oyster safeguards its pearl. For eons to come, mankind will delight in revisiting this momentous page in history to bask in the bliss of that beatific occasion when time stood still and a million hearts gasped in awe as they beheld the heavenly vision. What unfolded on that gem of a day was not only unprecedented and extraordinary, but also so moving and majestic, entrancing and elevating, that to describe it in words would be akin to holding a lantern in front of the Moon.
Right from the early hours of dawn, people of all hues and cultures, from countless regions and nations, eagerly stepped into the galleries and the ground of the impressive Vidyagiri Stadium in Prasanthi Nilayam, India. As the Sun slowly rose, spreading its gentle rays, everybody knew they were about to witness another Sunrise that morning – one that would be a million times brighter and beautiful, heartening and enlightening.
Yes, it was the ultimate day of the grand celebration – Sahasra Poorna Chandra DarshanamYagnam, being performed to mark the 83rd Birthday of their beloved Lord, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. And everyone was aware, that morning the ‘light of their lives’ was due to ride the alluring Golden Chariot, and arrive amidst them regally, in all splendour, to fill the cups of their hearts with unalloyed joy. And so it happened.
Words Could Not Match the Magnificence of the Moment
When the seven-horse driven, golden and glistening divine vehicle glided into the large concourse of thirsting devotees, the sublime euphoria that enveloped the entire assembly was hard to describe. The moment was spellbinding and magical. Every face in the crowd spoke a volume, in silence.
There were tears streaming down copiously on some; a few others seemed transfixed as if temporarily transported to some other realm; some were so much in awe that they just gazed with big eyes and open mouths, their palms pressed on their cheeks; there were others who were just ecstatic, big smiles sported their lips - they only wanted to savour every second to the maximum; a few others, who were probably new to Baba, were amazed and seemed to try to fathom the enigma of this divine occurrence; some had become statues of humility with folded hands and heads bowed in deep reverence, they had no clue how else to accept this remarkable blessing; there were hundreds who were simply jubilant, they waved their hands in overflowing joy and embraced themselves as if enveloping their being with the sanctifying air of divine benevolence; there were yet others who were just motionless, in bliss… at times you could see a tear or two slowly coursing down their cheeks…. How can anyone translate in letters an experience that is so overpowering, intense and deeply moving, and is experienced by each one in their own unique way!
Brighter than a Million Splendid Suns
As the Lord, adorned in sublime yellow and enthroned on the luminous limousine, smiled generously and blessed copiously, His hand often raised in loving benediction, there was not a single soul in the stadium whose heart was not stirred by the splendour of Sai! To add to the grandeur and excitement of the occasion, the chariot was led by the elegant and agile Sathya Geeta, Baba’s tiny pet elephant.
She was followed by the University Brass Band adding scintillating music to the sacred morning. Behind this, was the elaborate procession of students, attired in red, and vociferously chanting vedic hymns. At the same time, the huge speakers stacked at various strategic points in the ground, sprung into action belting out lovely compositions, specially created for the event. Music and poetry have it in them to express the deep emotions of the heart with more ease and clarity than prose.
One of the songs, written in Telugu, captured the beauty of the event wonderfully, and now we wish to share with you the English translation of this soulful rendering, as that is perhaps a better way to communicate what transpired between the divine and His devotees that unforgettable morning.
“Swarna Ratham Pai Pai Ninche…”
Delectably Enthroned, the Divine Sai…
Oh the timeless, most mysterious and the magnificent One!
Oh King of Kings! The Supreme Lord of Kali!
Oh Brilliant Being, superlatively illustrious,
And adored in all the three worlds of this Universe!
Oh the highly resplendent One,
Whose radiance spans this entire creation, spares none!
Behold! Delight in this scintillating sacred sight!
Enthroned on the Golden Chariot is the celestial Lord - Sai!
Every speck of Nature around is as if rejuvenated…
One glimpse of His glorious aura
And each being on earth feels so liberated!
Truly, you are the ever-shining Sun,
The thousand-petaled, illumining light of our lives…
You are our most beautiful Moon too…
So pure, so serene, so soothing, so moving,
Ever-new and so full of bliss, eternal!
In scores and thousands, from every corner of the globe,
We have gathered, with thrill, eager expectation and joy,
To savour You with our eyes, dear Lord, our heartthrob!
How long have we pined for this momentous morning!
How much have we prayed and penanced for this purifying present!
Springs of ecstasy, welling from within, have enveloped our entire being,
Witnessing this divine spectacle, unprecedented and
Our lives have found fulfillment, our existence has found meaning!
Purely for our sake, You have descended on this planet,
To regale us and redeem us, You have come again…
But with this, one stupefying manifestation of Your glory,
The cups of our souls are now overflowing…
O Lord, the Caring Caretaker of this entire creation,
By this one splendid gift,
You have blessed us with the utmost joy of divine communion,
Elevating us to ethereal heights
Of divine excitement and delectable delight.
You have sanctified us; we have seen paradise!
A Sight that Transmuted the Spiritual Heart of the Beholder
Words can only do so much to recreate that divinely riveting moment. But what this event did to everyone’s heart, who witnessed this, is something truly fantastic. Zivco Galic, a devotee from Croatia, who watched this event from the gents gallery, says, “I do not know why, but the moment I saw Swami that morning, I just began to cry profusely. My heart just opened up completely…the entire stadium was so suffused with God energy. He is definitely the King!
"The Divine come again! In His resplendent Yellow, He was truly Lord Krishna; there was so much love around, I was completely drowned in that sea of divine love....
"For me, the Lord arriving on the Golden Chariot is definitely the holy harbinger of the golden age that is soon to come…I did not have a good childhood, but now Swami is my ‘better than the best friend’, my father, mother, my life, my God; He has made me anew.
He is so sweet and soft, apparently so much like any of us, but within Him is the infinite reservoir of divine love and powerful energy. I feel so charged, so much in bliss…I do not know how to express….”
Zivco now closed his eyes and for the next few seconds just relived those soul-filling moments again. When he was out of his reverie, he was still speechless.
Divine Vision that Unlocked the Reservoir of Inner Strength
John Reed, another devotee from Sydney, Australia, was simply a picture of delight in his flowing blond hair. “I felt as if the wings of my heart were fluttering to glory just like a happy butterfly, as soon as I stepped into the stadium. It was incredible to be there, how happy I am that I was present that day!...
"When I saw Swami for the first time in 1991, I just knew He is God; it was a message straight from within my heart. It is He who brought me to Him, and how He has transformed me and taken care of my every joy and sorrow is truly touching.
"Actually, I came to Puttaparthi in July this year (2008), and in August I received the devastating news of my wife passing away. If I was in Sydney when this happened, I would have probably never survived this tragedy because I was very close to her.
"But Swami has now given me so much strength and filled me with peace. I went briefly to Sydney for the funeral and I am back again. Just remembering Him revitalizes me. I feel Him in my heart all the time, and now physically being here for this grand event is just bliss, that’s it! I do not know much about the significance of this celebration, and the idea of Swami witnessing thousand moons, but what I do know is that He does not need these ceremonies. This beautiful celebration, in reality, is His gift to us, so that we can rejoice, beholding Him in this glorious form.”
The Grander Significance of the Grand Sacrifice
Many devotees from overseas, and for that matter, even from India, may not have completely understood the purpose and the philosophy behind the grand Sahasra Poorna Chandra Darshanam celebration conducted in the divine presence, but that did not stop them from deriving the maximum benefit of the occasion by suffusing themselves with the divine vibrations that filled the air.
But those who knew the importance and intent of this great sacrifice, relished it more. Over one hundred and fifty priests from different parts of India and abroad participated in this mega ritual, and it was a historic event for a multitude of reasons. Let’s start with its simple facts and significance.
Explaining this clearly, Brahmasri K. V. N. Krishna Prasad, the distinguished priest from TTD (Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam), said,
[Tirupati, located in the state of Andhra Pradesh, is the most visited place of worship in the world. Here Lord Vishnu is worshipped as Sri Venkateswara.]
“According to our ancient Indian tradition, any individual who lives up to the ripe age of 83 is honoured with this sacred ceremony of Sahasra Poorna Chandra Darshanam. It means, that senior individual, is a distinguished elder by the virtue of living long enough to witness a thousand full moons.
|Now, how did this figure arrive? The simple arithmetic here is this: Thanks to the waxing and waning of the moon, we see a full moon once every month. Therefore, in a year one could watch 12 full moons, and if one lives for 83 years, consequently, he/she would witness (12 x 83) 996 full moons. This obviously, is four short of 1000. However, in reality, it is not so. That is because the lunar month consists of 28 days and not the usual 30 or 31 days, that we generally associate with a month.
"We all know the Moon takes 28 days to complete one cycle of revolution around earth [as a result of which we have the sequence of new moons and full moons]. Therefore, according to the lunar calendar, we actually have more than 12 months (360/28=13) in a year, and so, the number of full moons too, in reality, are more than a 1000 in 83 years. That is why a person who has lived through 83 summers and winters has actually been through over a 1000 full moons.”
Lunar Calendar Common to Many Traditions
So, that explains the association between the 83rd birthday and a thousand full moons, but what also should be added here is that most of the rituals in ancient Indian tradition are completely based on the lunar calendar. Even today, this method is widely followed in every house in India that observes even a little of the ancient tradition. It is precisely for this reason that the dates for most of the major festivals in India like Diwali, Dasara, Holi, and so on, vary from year to year.
Not only Hindus, people from other faiths too, strictly follow a lunar calendar for observing their rituals and celebrations. For instance, Muslims all over the world depend on the movement of the moon for every religious activity, be it the observance of Ramzan once a year, or their daily worship at dawn and dusk or the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
Similarly, the Jews too follow the lunar timetable to establish their days of festivity. Therefore, the lunar calendar is neither specific to Hinduism nor to celebrations in India; it is rather another universal and widely adhered to way of following time, just like the solar calendar.
Now, one may say, “That’s alright, you may follow the lunar calendar and calculate a thousand moons, but why should a person, who has completed 83 years, be honoured simply because he has lived so long? What if he has seen or not seen 1000 moons?” To this, Sri Krishna Prasad again explained, “In the Indian tradition, there are celebrations and rituals prescribed for individuals who cross important milestones in their lifespan for significant reasons; these are not to be taken lightly or observed in a carefree manner.
"For example, when a father completes 60 years, his children perform shashti poorti wherein their parents are symbolically remarried signaling the dawn of another stage of their life where spirituality should take precedence over anything else. Similarly, when an individual completes 70 years, Bheema Ratha Shanthi is organized by his children and grandchildren to offer gratitude and prayers to Lord Shiva (who is also called as ‘Bheema Ratha’ as He is the God of time) for the future good health and happiness of their parents or grandparents.
Again, when the individual crosses 83 years, it is time for a grand worship."Not only because the person has been a witness to over a thousand full moons, but also because at this stage, the elder is considered holy. It is believed that the octogenarian has seen enough of life to carry out all the adverse effects of his karma (actions done in this life and before), and is therefore, now pure, wise and worthy to be honoured. It is also an unique opportunity for the family to collectively pray to God to bless their revered elder with sound body and mind. The traditional practice also has it that on this occasion, the distinguished senior is enthroned on a chariot and taken in an elaborate procession so that everyone can wish him well.”
Family of Humanity Honours Divine Father
Now, this is the practice that is observed for any mortal since ancient times in India. And this celebration, like many others, is organized by the family, especially the children, grand children and great grand children of the senior. But why should it done for Bhagavan Baba, who is truly beyond space and time?
What is the significance of celebrating the sighting of thousand moons of One who is the very light of the Moon? And then, who are His family and children, and who are not? Again, and more importantly, what to pray for? And to whom? What is the true meaning behind the grand celebration of Sahasra Poorna Chandra Darshanam in the Divine presence? Is there a message for humanity in this lovely divine drama?
The distinguished vedic scholar who conducted this grand sacrifice to perfection, Sri Krishna Sastry, clarified these points and said, “The purpose and performance of this holy ceremony attains a completely novel, divine and elevating dimension when it is conducted to celebrate the earthly life of incarnations of God. The objective now is lofty – it is for the comprehensive welfare of this cosmos; for, God is embedded in every speck of this Universe. And who performs this sacrifice?
"The entire humanity; every being is part of God’s family. It is a glorious opportunity to express our gratitude to the One who has guided our lives through joys and sorrows; who has protected us and provided us with all our needs; who has transformed us and trained us to take to the path of permanent bliss, tenaciously; and who continues to shower His unconditional love on every single dawn.”
Specific Intent of the Sacrifice
Elaborating further on this grand objective of Sahasra Poorna Chandra Darshanam performed in the Divine presence between November 15-17, 2008, Sri Krishna Sastry, said, “Whenever a sacrifice is performed, the first thing that has to be declared, at the start of the ritual, is the intention behind the sacred spiritual exercise. This process is called ‘Sankalpam’, and generally, this ritual is done by the individual who is the initiator and chief organiser of the sacrifice, so that he can spell out his goals unambiguously before the commencement of the ritual.
"But in the case of Sahasra Poorna Chandra Darshanam in Prasanthi Nilayam, Bhagavan Baba did not do the sankalpam. How could He? Isn’t He the One who ultimately receives all the offerings made to the holy fire and confers boons? Therefore, the sankalpam was done by us, His devotees, and the declared mission of the sacrifice was – "May all the eighty-four lakhs of species on this earth be relieved of their suffering and sorrows; may every individual be free from the adverse effects of their negative actions; may every being rise to higher levels of consciousness and march towards the ultimate goal of heavenly bliss and liberation."
Ultimate Blessings Pronounced in Silence
When this sacred ritual of sankalpam was being done, Sri Krishna Sastry, had a memorable experience. “On that afternoon, I was sitting right in front of Bhagavan Baba in the Sai Kulwant Hall. When I, along with another senior priest, rose to go near Bhagavan to request Him to perform the sankalpam, He motioned us to be seated.
"Then, we intuitively understood that Bhagavan would not be performing the sankalpam Himself. But the Lord looked at me very keenly. And that evening, suddenly, I felt a very cool breeze caressing my whole body. I kept looking behind to see if there was an AC behind or beside me, but there was none.
"For me, it was quite a mysterious experience. The soothing coolness enveloped me completely, and it was there for quite a while. I kept looking at Bhagavan, and only later I realized that Baba was actually blessing me by granting me this moon-like cool experience even before the start of this sacrifice, which bears the name of the Moon.”
Unprecedented and Historic, Grandest Event Ever in the History of Avatars
Not only was the objective of this grand sacrifice exceptional, but also the elaborate manner in which it was conducted was unprecedented. Probably never before in history was such a splendid ritual performed for the welfare of humanity in the Divine presence of the Avatar Himself. “I do not know of any other occasion when sarva veda parayana (the chanting of all Vedas) was done so magnificently,” said the acclaimed vedic scholar from Tirupati, Sri Venkatappayya Sastry.
“Of the 1130 shakhas (branches) of the Vedas, there are only 11 that are still alive and in vogue in the modern times; the rest are most likely lost. These precious eleven belong to one of the four main Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama, Antharva) or the other. And during this ceremony in Prasanthi Nilayam, we had vedic scholars who recited all of these valuable hymns meticulously. Besides this, we performed a variety of homams like Maha Ganapathi Homam, Sudarshana Homam and Maha Mruthyunjaya Homam and so on.
"There was also the sacred Linga to which we performed satha rudra abhishekam, maha rudra abhishekam and so on. Also, in one corner of stage, there were pandits engaged in the parayanam (holy reading) of the Sundara Kanda (‘Sundara’ chapter) of Ramayana; while at another end, a few priests performed the sacred suryanamaskar on one leg continuously. Such a holy and charged atmosphere is certainly historic and unmatched. Frankly, it was purely because of Bhagavan’s Grace that this function could be organised in such an elaborate manner. For me, to be present on this occasion was surely the result of accrued merit of many life times.”
“The Walking Srinivas (God) is in Puttaparthi” - Tirupati Priest
This distinguished scholar, who has served in the holy abode of Tirupati for decades teaching Vedas and serving at the sanctum sanctorum at Tirumala, further said, “I have enjoyed divine proximity of the Lord of Tirupati. My being has pulsated with unspeakable vibrations when I was near the idol of Lord Venkateswara on many occasions. But do you know how I got that divine blessing? It is because of the grace of this Lord in human form, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The ideal of offering continuous and dedicated service to the pilgrims who come to Tirupati was instilled in me by Bhagavan Baba Himself. In Tirupati we say ‘The walking Srinivasa (God) is in Puttaparthi.’”
Glory of Sai is Indescribable: Rig Veda Pandit
Another distinguished scholar, Sri K. Srinivasa Sarma, who serves as the Rig Veda Pandit in Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple in the Nalgoda district of Andhra Pradesh, said, “Just like the Moon which dissipates heat and confers coolness, or the sacred river Ganga which purifies one who takes a holy dip, Sathya Sai too confers boons unasked.
"I remember an incident that happened almost thirty years ago. My friend, who is currently in the USA, had come to Puttaparthi in need of help.
"He was in dire need of money to fulfill an important family obligation. When Swami came for darshan, He handed him a cover and told him not to open it till he reached home.
"When he finally saw the envelope, he found in it one lakh rupees, the exact amount he needed desperately. Therefore, the glory of Sai is indescribable. Having participated in this grand occasion, I feel as if my life has found fulfillment.”
There were dozens of senior priests who had come eagerly to be a part of this occasion and each one had a touching tale to narrate.
Not-to-be Missed Event for the Vedic Priest from New York
Sri K. Hanumantha Rao, who had come all the way from New York, USA, said, “The moment I heard about this event, I wanted to be here, come what may. If today I am serving as the temple priest in the Ganesha Vedic Centre in New York, it is clearly Swami’s will.
"In fact, after finishing my education in the Vedas, I came to Bhagavan to seek His blessings before embarking on priesthood.
"I have come to His lotus feet 16 times till now, and wherever I am or to whomever I may offer prayers, I know, in my heart of hearts, I am always worshipping Sai.
"In fact, the Ganesha temple in New York came into being only because of the active support of Sai devotees, and we do have a beautiful picture of Baba in that temple.
"It is really because of the merits of my noble father and ancestors that I was able to participate in this grand ceremony in His direct divine presence.”
Despite Metaphysical Experiences, Vedic Pandit Craves For His Physical Attention
Sri Venkatappayya Sastry, the TTD Vedic pandit again added, “Though I have had any number of metaphysical experiences of Baba’s presence, I longed for His physical proximity. And I was absolutely thrilled to see Bhagavan so close. The Lord actually looked at me a couple of times very intently as if saying ‘See, I have not forgotten you.’”
Though the priests, who were part of this Yagna, had the best of views and the closest of darshans of the Lord, it was not only them who benefited the most.
THE SUBLIME DIMENSIONS OF THE SACRIFICE
The Yagna – A Purifying Experience for a South African devotee
Sadasivan Naiker, a devotee from South Africa, who was sitting in the gents' gallery, hundreds of metres away from the main stage, reliving those defining moments, said, “It was an absolutely purifying experience for me.
"As the yagnam was going on, I felt as if all of my evil habits and tendencies are been burnt in that sacred fire. When I left the stadium that day, I felt so cleansed, light and revitalized. From then till now, my life has indeed undergone a great transformation.
"All my vices and cravings do not bother me any more; I feel so calm and composed. I am definitely a much better person, and my relationship with Swami has become deeper.”
Cleansing Occurred at Multiple Levels
Like every act of Bhagavan, in the performance of this sacrifice too, what was apparent to the eye was probably only a millionth of what actually transpired in many different planes during this entire three-day festival.
No wonder, people from every continent and in every stage of human life, gladly braved the chill weather and intermittent rain, just to be physically present in the stadium on that occasion.
One youngster from the state of Maharastra, Mr. Amolrao Barwade, who was a member of a band of youth who had come for the first time to Prasanthi Nilayam, was absolutely impressed.
Expressing his feelings candidly, he said, “Earlier, though I had heard about Baba, I never believed in His divinity. But now, I am convinced; He is God indeed.
"Apart from the marvelous institutions of selfless service – the University, Hospitals, Water Projects, and so on – what really touched me the most was the scene in the stadium when it rained the other day as the yagnam was going on.
"None of the devotees moved from their places; there was no pell-mell whatsoever.
"They tried to cover themselves with whatever was available and continued to watch the proceedings, as if nothing had happened! In my hometown too, there are big gatherings on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi or a cricket match.
"But if it started pouring, the place would be empty in no time. But here, the love of the devotees for Bhagavan is so moving.”
Yagna Conferred Divine Zest to the Elderly
Yes, it is this deep love for Him that propelled Dalip Singh, a man in the ripe age of nineties, to walk to the stadium in the early hours of the morning. “What gave you so much energy to traverse all the way on foot to the stadium?” we asked him, and in a voice that reverberated with passion and vigour, he said, “Baba is with me all the time; He is there on my left, right and front. God is now and here; one has to live in Prasanthi to experience this supreme peace.”
Mr. Chunnilal Sharma, another nonagenarian, in ashen attire and a neat white cap, who was sitting blissfully in the stands, said, “Over the years, I have been to many pilgrim centres like Kedarnath, Badrinath, and so on, but the bliss that I derive in Prasanthi is absolutely unique.
"In spite of the huge crowd here, the joy that I experience in my heart is indescribable; to me it feels like seeing Lord Krishna in Mathura!”
Reflecting the same sentiment, but in her own sweet way, Kantamma, an old lady from the city of Vizianagaram, jubilantly said, “I have visited many holy places, be it Kashi or Tirupati, Kanyakumari or Madurai, but nowhere have I experienced what I am blessed with here. In Prasanthi, we are just immersed in Swami’s love! In this place, all you need is love; no one asks you money for anything.
"His darshan fills us completely; actually this time I was a bit apprehensive about being able to see Swami clearly because of the huge crowd that had gathered, but our sweet Lord is so kind!
"He not only gave me good darshan, but also looked at me and smiled! Frankly, even though the big event is over, I do not feel like moving from this place….Actually, it was entirely His will that I could come for this event along with my husband.
Every Yagna Participant had a Personalized Tale to Tell
Of late, life has not been easy for us. My husband has not been keeping well and so, has been out of employment for four months. To support our family, I recently took up the job of a peon in a college. I was concerned if I would get leave to come to Puttaparthi for this grand occasion. Fortunately they readily granted me a few days off. But, in any case, I had made up my mind to come to Prasanthi; and I would have come anyway, even at the cost of my new service! Such was my conviction.”
No Discomfort Deterred Devotees’ Dedication
Just to see and speak to these devotees was an elevating experience. In spite of the huge numbers, temporary accommodations, long queues to deal with, and bare minimum physical comforts, genuine smiles danced on their lips; they had absolutely no complaints.
"We asked T. S. Venkatesh, a techie youngster from Bangalore, “Does it not bother you to stay in this camp accommodation where you have to sleep virtually on the floor?”
“Oh no!” he replied immediately, and continued, “Swami has given us a wonderful place to sleep; this is more than enough for us. The very fact that I am here is itself a miracle. Actually, my bus from Bangalore broke down when we were mid-way.
"It was an ordinary bus, but soon an AC bus came along to take us through the rest of the journey with no extra charges! So, it is Swami who has brought me here and I am so delighted to be part of this glorious event. When I saw the Lord this evening in the richly adorned Sai Kulwant Hall, I felt as if heaven had descended on earth. My trip is made!”
Perfect Place and Time for Blessing Every Devotee
Another very happy devotee, of the many that we met, was Mr. Satya Kumar. He hails from the southern Indian state of Kerala, and gladdened us when he said, “I came to know of this auspicious event from Radio Sai Global Harmony.
"After hearing about this announcement, I went to the Radio Sai website and downloaded the information page. Later, since I work in the newspaper industry, I circulated this good news to as many people as possible. For me, it is a golden opportunity just to be in the divine atmosphere of this celebration.
"When I started my journey to Puttaparthi, given that it was going to be a mega event, I was anxious about my accommodation and food arrangements. But once I reached here, I was impressed with the facilities and amenities made for the devotees. However, we did have a problem one night when it began to rain and water seeped into our area of stay.
"Therefore, hurriedly we had to move to another location, and in the process it became very late by the time I started to walk towards the Vidyagiri stadium in the next morning. I knew Swami was already there and was sad that I was missing everything.
"Nevertheless, I kept moving fast, and just when I was about to cross Swami’s residence, I saw a lot of movement there. Swami was actually returning from the ground; it was already ten in the morning. I quickly took a position beside the road, and the Lord did look into my eyes. I had never anticipated that I would be blessed with such a close darshan! The Lord knows when and how to fill us with His love.”
THE STIRRING SEVA AND SACRIFICE BEHIND THE CEREMONY
Divine Multitasks: One Can be Many
Such stories of devotees are innumerable. That is the beauty of God. He can be One and Many at the same time. Every devotee who had come for this grand event had with him/her their own Sai – guiding them, guarding them and filling them with Godly love. In fact, that is exactly what each of the hundreds of sevadal (Sai Volunteers), who worked tirelessly day and night behind the scenes to make this event happen, expressed. Scores of volunteers worked to clean 1,20,000 square feet of ground to create additional accommodation for 10,000 people.
Inner Gratification is the Ultimate Reward, Volunteers Testify
We were moved to see an elderly lady volunteer sweeping the muddy earth along with many others much younger than her, on a sunny morning. We found out she was Mrs. Bindu Das, and then asked her, “Don’t you find it tiring doing this difficult work?” “Absolutely not,” she replied, and continued, “I have been serving as a sevadal since 1972. When we do His work, all our problems get solved automatically. Only Swami knows how much better we feel when we are engaged in service. Even though we are not able to go for His darshan, we feel His presence very strongly in our work. He is with us and knows everything that we are doing, for sure!”
A few metres away from her, we found a Sai youth, possibly in his late twenties, digging the earth enthusiastically with a spade; his body sweating profusely. “Don’t you feel any pain?” we asked him. He smiled and said, “You may find this funny, but I really find it comfortable doing this job. I have been digging for the last three consecutive days, and believe me, I have experienced no pain, expect for a little on the first day. Surely, I could not have done this elsewhere.”
The bliss of selfless service is something that can only be experienced, and during this grand event of Sahasra Poorna Chandra Darshanam, for thousands of Sai volunteers who were actively engaged behind the curtain in multifarious activities, right from helping the devotees in carrying their luggage to their areas of accommodation, to preparing and transporting their food, to looking into their medical needs, to sprucing up and decorating the Vidyagiri Stadium for the glorious event, to ensuring that there is order and discipline everywhere and no devotee is put to any inconvenience – this service to the thousands of devotees assembled for this occasion was a great privilege.
Divine Energy Guided the Massive Kitchen Team
Mr. Bhaskar Rao, who managed the entire operations in the kitchen, said, “While the mahayagnam was going on in the Vidyagiri Stadium, we were busy too with another grand spiritual exercise. We worked 20 hours a day to provide food to the thousands that poured in everyday from November 14 onwards for the next 4 days.
At least 2000 kilograms of breakfast items, 5000-6000 kilograms of curd rice and fried rice for lunch, and similar quantity for dinner, was, in brief, the quantum of the work involved.
"More than 200 sevadals along with 120 cooks worked tirelessly to supply the right amount of food at the right location and at the right time. It was challenging, no doubt, but we felt His presence throughout the entire episode.”
Yagna Work, the Best Team Work Experience Ever:
A committed group of young volunteers from Hyderabad did the actual work of distributing these huge vessels of food to various locations inside as well as outside the ashram. “Our day typically began at 3.30 a.m. in the morning,” described Mr. Ravi Kiran, who, outside of being an active Sai youth, works as a manager in GE. “By 5.15 a.m. we started our activity of delivering the vessels at the respective locations, so that by 6 a.m. breakfast serving could start simultaneously in every spot. After an hour or two, all the vessels returned, and we now loaded them with items for lunch. At 11 a.m. the counters everywhere opened with quick meals, which continued for two hours. Similarly, the arrangements for dinner started at 4 p.m., and by 7.30-8 p.m. we were done with the distribution duty for the day.”
We saw the soiled clothes of Ravi Kiran and asked, “How does it feel working in an environment like this, which is so different from the ambience you see in your professional life?”
Without batting an eyelid, he replied, “This is probably the best experience I ever had! In software companies, you go to resorts to have meetings and learn teamwork, but here I find the ultimate example of working together.
"Our group consists of youngsters from diverse backgrounds – some very distinguished in their careers and others engaged in blue-collar jobs. But we work beautifully as one cohesive unit; there is love everywhere. It is just amazing!
"At home, I probably would not lift a container that is more than 10 Kilograms, but here we are shifting vessels that weigh 100-150 kilograms. Is this less than a miracle? Bhagavan keeps sending us His signs of grace and presence in so many mysterious ways. I just enjoy being here!”
Silent and Massive Preparations
While this was one of the principal activities that went on in the background after the celebrations began on November 15, there was plenty that happened in the last week of October and first two weeks of November to set the stage for this event to unfold on that momentous day in the Vidyagiri stadium.
While the storeroom in the kitchen was being filled up with adequate quantities of every conceivable item that would be needed to serve the thousands who would throng during the three days, on another corner of Puttaparthi, the Vidyagiri stadium was getting a complete makeover. One of the major modifications was the extension of the “Shanthi Vedika” stage by an additional 56 feet. And Swami started visiting the site to see the progress of this work from October 6 itself!
Sai’s Priority Number One - His Devotees
Mr. Satish Nayak, who supervised the entire operation of refurbishing the stadium for this grand event, said, “During the 40 days of our work, Swami visited the stadium 15 times! And the very first question He asked when He saw the stage being extended is ‘Will the devotees be able to see the yagnam?’ In fact, this was His last question too. He was the One most concerned about the visibility to devotees than anybody else.”
Once Bhagavan was satisfied with the explanation, the work progressed and many innovations were done too. Since the stage-extension was to be a temporary structure, everything was planned in such a way that the materials used could be reclaimed after the event to be utilized in some other project. For example, instead of making the additional stage in cement and bricks, thick granite slabs and sand was used, which worked perfectly.
“But the most interesting part of the whole exercise was Swami’s deep involvement in every activity. He would ask about every little detail, right from the dimensions of the new stage to the colour of the decorating material being used on the stage,” recalled Mr. Satish Nayak, and then added, “But there are two very interesting anecdotes connected with this preparation.
"One day, during His visit to the stadium in the last week of October, Swami mentioned that a false ceiling over the additional stage would be appropriate. Till then, this was not in our plan at all. But on the final day, it is the beautiful art work on this false ceiling which added a lot of grandeur and colour to the new stage.
Divine Supervisor Missed No Detail
“Similarly, when Swami visited the stadium on the morning of November 13, using a temporary lift He came onto the new stage. As He moved on the new structure, He stopped at one point and looked at the ceiling for a few seconds. Just then, a piece of therma coal fell from above right in front of Him. We thought we are in trouble. But the Lord just smiled and made a casual remark saying maybe a screw is loose somewhere. But in reality, I know that He had probably saved us from a great embarrassment which could have occurred later. After this event, we ensured that all the therma coal frills and other decorations that were tied above were securely fixed.
Elements Cooperated to Allow the Divine Work to Complete to Perfection
“There were so many other ways Swami blessed us and ensured that the work was completed on time. To quote just one instance, Swami was very particular about re-laying the road, and we were unable to do this because we needed three continuous dry days, but at that time there were short showers every now and then.
"Finally, we did pray to Swami to give us three sunny days and He did! We not only re-laid the road using the mechanical pavers for greater consistency and quality, but also widened it a small stretch by 3 feet as per His directions. While all this was going on, Swami’s deep concern also was for the hundreds of priests who were scheduled to arrive for the function. Every now and then He would enquire about the additional accommodation and food arrangements being done for these distinguished guests. The perfect host that He is, He wanted no stone to be left unturned for their comfortable stay.”
Umbrella of Care Included Overall Convenience and Comfort of Mammoth Gathering
Thus, it was virtually under the Lord’s eye that the Vidyagiri Stadium was being transformed into an amazing atrium for the divine drama. At any point in time, before the celebration began, there were at least a dozen activities being done simultaneously which included repainting all the huge statues in the Vidyagiri Stadium and barricading the entire ground into separate blocks for easy entry and exit of devotees. Once the yagnam began, there were various other activities that had to be done by the sevadals apart from crowd management and supplying water. One of the silent but significant activities that went on in one end of the stadium was the running of a medical station for the pilgrims.
On-site Medical Care Provided at Yagna Venue
Explaining its principal objective, Dr. Ram Manohar Rao, the chief organizer of this initiative, said, “Our goal was to take care of any devotee who needs emergency treatment, which could be because of various reasons, from sleeplessness, to sudden injury, to severe diabetes, or hypertension. For instance, the other day one devotee came with excruciating pain because of a wound on his feet; a small nail had pierced his sole.
"We immediately removed the foreign body and he walked away smiling to enjoy the celebration. There was another who had forgotten to take his diabetes medicines, a third complained of stomach ache…we offered instantaneous relief to the extent possible to such people in distress.”
Divine Love Suffused 45 doctors who
treated 3000 patients
The team of 45 doctors worked for at least 14 hours per day treated minor and major ailments of nearly 3000 patients. “The best moments for us are when the patients joyfully watch the proceedings of the grand celebration, free from any physical malady,” added Dr. Ram Manohar Rao.
One of the doctors, Dr. Chetan Mehta, who had come from the state of Gujarat, specially to serve during this occasion, said, “I came here for the first time only in 2005, but before that I used to work in many social service organisations. And I must tell you this: there is a world of difference working in the Sai Organisation and elsewhere; and the differentiating factor is Love. Here, there is lot of charity and a lot of love too. For me, every trip to Puttaparthi is a cleansing experience; I return recharged and long to come to serve here again.”
Doctors Driven by Desire to Serve Selflessly
When we asked Dr. (Prof.) Rangaih, a senior general surgeon from Andhra Pradesh, “Does it not bother you that just beside this medical camp a grand celebration is in progress, but you are missing every moment of that historic happening?” The distinguished doctor instantly replied, “We have come for service and that’s my only objective. Swami showers His blessings in so many ways; I have no regrets. Actually, I am very happy to be serving the patients rather than seeing the function. Swami, in fact, is in my heart; He is always with me.”
THE GLOBAL GLORY OF THE GRAND EVENT
Yagna Draws Virtual Participants from 146 countries
This spirit of service, inspired by Sai, that shone in the hearts of hundreds of Sai volunteers was truly another spectacle of Sahasra Poorna Chandra Darshanam, which was as glorious as the grand proceedings of the event in the Vidyagiri Stadium. And we, at Radio Sai Global Harmony, did our bit too, by not only capturing this landmark event on video tapes and digital stills, but also offering an edited video stream of the highlights of each day of the event on the same day on our website radiosai.org. And the response we received to this service absolutely stunned us!
Devotees in 146 countries, from the North Pole to the South Pole, watched this video webstream, and flooded us with emails sending us tons of love and expressing wholehearted gratitude. Our website received 70,000 hits during those three days and people saw these videos in countries as familiar as the USA and the UK to as obscure as Guam and Aruba, Serbia and Suriname. Take a look at these maps to realize the extent of reach of His glory through our tiny initiative.
We took one baby step and the Lord blessed us bountifully by taking a million. Swami always says, where there is purity, there is Divinity. It was one pure intention to share the joy of His glory to as many as possible and in the best medium available. And the Lord did the rest! In fact, this profound formula of unity and purity leading to divinity was apparent in every single facet of this glorious celebration. It is because multitudes of devotees converged and collectively prayed for His glorious darshan, that the Lord decided to ride the Golden Chariot.
THE DEEPER IMPLICATION OF THE IMPORTANT EVENT
Yagna – The Divine Rescue Plan for Humanity
The fact that Swami allowed the Yagna to take place at such a momentous time when the world is experiencing a seismic shift in human counsciousness, is not lost on many devotees. They see it as divine intervention to prevent humanity from total self-destruction. When the world’s leading economies are crippled, terrorism is on the rise, and war, disease and hatred fill media headlines, the massive sacrifice for the sake of world peace was timely, much-needed and life saving in more ways that can be gauged at the present moment. History will unfold for us the many deeper rescue mechanisms that the yagna put in place to save the planet and its inhabitants from imminent catastrophes.
Eternal Sai, the Witness to Millions of Moons, Not Just Thousand
The Lord always works in multiple dimensions but Bhagavan is always His understated self. Whether one understands this aspect of Divinity or not, what was obvious to everybody is that the grand celebration of Sahasra Poorna Chandra Darshanam was only an excuse for Bhagavan to confer a lifetime joy to His devotees. Otherwise, how does the appearance of a 1000 moons really matter to the Lord who has the whole world in His Hands!
As Swami Himself said in His New Year discourse on January 1, 2009, “I have seen not just one thousand but crores of full moons. The Veda declares, Chandrama manaso jathah, which means, the Moon is the presiding deity of our mind. Each one of you has a mind. I have been seeing all your minds. I have been observing the minds of crores of people all over the world. Therefore, to say I have seen a thousand Moons is inappropriate, I have seen crores of moons.”
Sai - The Sun and the Moon of Devotees’ Hearts
When we have a mind as pure, and a heart as calm and serene as the Moon, the Lord is always ready to go to any length to fill our beings with bliss. He will confer on us the rarest of darshans and choicest of blessings, when our thoughts, actions and deeds are tuned completely to Him, intensely and incessantly. That is perhaps the subtle and sublime message of the sacred and soul-filling Sahashra Poorna Chandra Darshana Mahotsavam in the Divine presence of the Eternal Director of this cosmos!
- Bishu Prusty