January 30th 2005
Today being Martyr's Day, let us all silently bow our heads in fond memory and honour of our dear freedom fighters who laid down their lives to bring us the freedom that we literally take for granted now. Let our hearts cry out for them and let us express our gratitude to them by upholding and continuing their efforts in leading Bharath from Physical Independence to the Svarajya that Swami talks about - the true Inner In-Dependence - that will make us free eternally!
We begin this update by paying our sincere respects to the great soul Saint Thyagaraja who, having captured the Heart of Sri Ramachandra Himself, has established a permanent seat in the hearts of all those seekers of Truth, on the path of devotion, especially through the channel of music. Yes, today is the Thyagaraja Aradhana Day - the 158th anniversary of Saint Thyagaraja - the great Saint composer, singer and musician from Tanjavur - being celebrated all around the country.
If that is so, would it not be celebrated in Prasanthinilayam, where the Ishta Devata - the very Diety of Thyagaraja lives in flesh and blood as our most Beloved Sri Sai Rama! The Sri Sathya Sai Mirpuri College of Music, staff and students have been putting in a lot of effort for this very day. As we entered the Sai Kulwant Hall at 7.00 a.m., we found a beautiful portrait of Saint Thyagaraja adorning the dais on the left side of our Ganeshaji (i.e. towards the Ladies side). In the centre, right in front of Ganeshaji, and to the right of the portrait of Saint Thyagaraja, was a beautiful photograph of Sri Rama, placed on a platform and decked with flowers. A thick Jasmine garland with intermittently woven Marigold flowers enhanced the beauty of the painting of Saint Thyagaraja! A simple cut-out of coconut trees were placed, resting against each pillar on either side of Swami's sofa, in the centre of the dais.
At sharp 7.15 a.m., the Omkaram of the Vedam group broke the silence in the Hall with music from the speakers overlapping the chants. This is the way it goes on everyday. The Darshan Music continues until the Golf Cart reaches the turning to the interview room. Then the Music stops and the Vedam continues. Swami took a full Darshan round, Blessing many on the way and taking letters from a number of devotees and students.
As the Cart glided by, Swami looked at one student and smiled - saying, "Everyday?.Will you give letter everyday?" Hearing those few words from Bhagawan's mouth, filled all of us with joy! Adharam Madhuram, Vachanam Madhuram, Madhuradhipate Akhilam Madhuram!! Everything that He does, everything about Him is so Sweeeeet!!
It is very nice to observe Swami taking letters from devotees. Whereas some are able to kneel down and reach out to Swami's Hands, some others are not able to do so. In such cases, Swami just stretches His Hand a little or signals with His eye, and immediately our most sharp and witty brothers moving with Swami, take the letters from the concerned devotees and hand them over to Swami. How sharp and quick they have to be! We are always filled with wonder at the dedication and sincerity with which they serve Bhagawan. They need to be at His wavelength all the time!! Definitely not an easy task!!
At 7.25 a.m., Swami was out from the Golf Cart stationed near the interview room. Oh! Would Swami go away inside, we wondred. But there He was, walking along the dais, with a smile on His face and looking so fresh, so beautiful! There is something about Bhagawan, you know, which can never be described! He looks so new, fresh, Divinely attractive - just as a Magnet drawing all of us close to Him!
The Principal of the Mirpuri College of Music, Prof. P. Krishnamoorthy Garu, who was sitting along with the students in the first row in front of the dais, got up and went to Swami to offer the rose and pray for the programme. Swami Blessed him profusely and spoke to him for a few seconds. The Principal came and sat down, signaling all the other teachers of the Music college and the boys to get ready.
Swami too appeared very eager to listen to the Keertanas of His most beloved Tyagaiah. He walked briskly and sat down on the sofa, followed with an immediate signal to stop the Vedic chanting. The presentation began with a rendering in Telugu about the significance of this occasion. This was followed by a brief talk by Prof. P. Krishnamoorthy Garu who spoke, sitting in his place itself. He gave a short but informative and insightful talk glorifying the doyen of Carnatic Classical Music - Saint Thyagaraja. He said:
Saint Thyagaraja born in the year 1767, left his mortal coil 158 years ago on this very day. He was a Divine Musician with unique qualities that made him a composer par-excellence of South Indian Music. His steadfast and consuming devotion to his favourate Divine Form of Sri Rama elevated him to a sublime state. Though faced with ordeals throughout his family life, Thyagaraja lost himself in devotion to Rama. His very breath was Rama. The Chakras in his frail body vibrated with the Sapta Swaras and his heart beat with rhythm and ecstasy of his musical creations!
For Thyagaraja, the very physical Form of Sri Rama was the embodiment of all music. He sang a Keertana in the Arabhi Raga - "Nada Sudharasambilanu Nara Kruthiyaye..."; meaning: The Nectar of Naada, which is the basis of all the Vedas, Puranas, Agamas and Sastras, has taken human form in Sri Rama!
The Seven Swaras have become the Seven Bells of His Bow; the Ragas have become the Bow itself; the Styles in singing - Dura, Naya and Desya have become the three strings of the bow, the Steady Rhythmic Pace has become the Arrow and the Melodious Variations of Musical Art have verily become His Speech!!
Saint Thyagaraja proclaimed, "Rama, the body that does not float on the ocean of ineffable Bliss of Brahman called Sangeeta Jnana, which abides in all the Vedas, is a burden to this earth. "Ananda Sagara Meedani Dehamu Bhoomi Bharamu..." Thyagaraja was a Nadayogi, Atmajnani and a 'Vairagya Mahapurusha'. His songs are the essence of the Upanishads, Gita, Ramayana and the Bhagavatam. Therefore, they are called Tyagopanishad.
Rama was to Thyagaraja a child, a hero, most dearest and nearest, a master, a friend and Parabrahman Himself! Rama, moved by the deep anguish of His devotee, appeared before Thyagaraja and assured him of Moksha (Liberation). Thyagaraja himself sings about this vision in the Raga Sahana - "Giripai Nelakonna Ramuni Guri Thappaka Ganti", meaning "Unerringly, I have seen Rama who is installed on the hill. My body was thrilled, tears of joy rolled down my cheeks and I merely mumbled, unable to give expression to my thoughts!"
Lord Rama did grant him Moksha as promised on this Bahula Panchami day, 158 years ago. On this occasion, his Samadhi is worshipped at Thiruvaiyaru, by all Musicians, lovers of Music and Bhaktas, as a musical tribute. Saint Thyagaraja's name will shine till the Sapta Swaras exist on this earth!
Prof. P. Krishnamoorthy Garu concluded his talk by saying that these young musicians (students of Swami's Music College) were most privileged to sing the compositions of the great composer in the very Divine Presence of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. "Dorakuna Ituvanti Seva...". He prayed to Bhagawan to Bless these young artistes with a glorious musical career.
At 7.35 a.m., the first song commenced, making an offering to Lord Ganesha. Subsequently, Keertana after Keertana filled and charged the air with a spiritual current that sent out waves of devotion and love spreading all over the Hall, engulfing every heart that came its way and moving outwards, stretching out till the horizons! They sung in all 15 Keertanas of Saint Thyagaraja. They were:
1)Sri Ganapati Nee Sevimpa Raray - Rag Saurashtra
2)Melukovaiyaa Mammeluko Rama - Rag Bhouli
3)Sadinchane O Manasa - Samayaniki Tagu Mataladane - Rag Arabhi
4)Orajupuchu Chedi Nyayama - Rag Kannada Gowla
5)Narayan Hari Narayan Hari Narayan Hari - Rag Yamuna Kalyani
6)Yendaro Mahanubhavulu Andareeki Vandanamulu - Rag Sriragam
7)Maru Balka Kunna Vemira - Rag Sriranjani
8)Nitya Sopane - Rag Pantuvarali
All along, Swami seemed to be lost in the Love for Saint Thyagaraja. How nice it would be if we too could sing with such purity and love for the Lord to win His heart as Tyagaiah did!
Bhagawan was keeping beat with His hands. One Hand on His lap and the other on the armrest of the sofa, with fingers tapping in sync with the lilting beats of the Keertanas! A soft smile on His face - Mandasmita Mukha - as they describe Him! We wondered how fortunate we were! Did Thyagaraja himself get such an opportunity. He cried out with so much of devotion to the Lord but with all that He could just win a few glimpses of the Divine Form! Here we were just listening to those soul- stirring outpourings, and feasting on His Divine Form non-stop! What a Blessing!!
The next song was the most favorite Bhajan cum Thyagaraja Keertana, often sung by Swami: Rama Kodanda Rama Rama Pattabhi Rama Kalyana Rama Raghava... sung in Rag Bhairavi. They sang in the classical style and towards the end, the entire audience clapped with gusto along with the Mrudangam and the cymbals.
Even before we realized, it was 8.35 a.m. More than an hour since the music presentation began. Bhagawan got up and moved towards the interview room. He asked the group to continue their performance. The boys continued singing some more Keertanas like:
10)Ksheerasagara Aparimita - Rag Ananda Bhairavi
11)Nee Daya Raada - Rag Vasantha Bhairavi
12)Sarasa Sama Dana Vedanta Chatura - Rag Kapi Narayani
13)Brova Ba Rama Raghu Rama
14)Taleyaledu Rama Bhakti Margamu
Finally, at 8.55 a.m. they concluded the music presentation, as is usually done, with the Mangalam - Jaya Mangalam Nitya Shubha Mangalam.
At 9.00 a.m., Bhajans commenced. The Bhajan singers assembled outside and sat next to the Music College singers, to continue with the Bhajans. Half way through, instructions came for Prasadam Distribution. As the Prasadam was being distributed, Swami came out of the interview room and walked again onto the dais. The Principal and the teachers of the Music College went forward to seek Bhagawan's Blessings. Swami Blessed all of them and spoke to a few. He was very happy and was showering lot of Love and joy on all of them. Next, the student singers and participants too went forward with roses in their hands. They also received a downpour of Love from Bhagawan!
Swami came walking further and crossed all the way to the other side of the dais. The Golf Cart stationed itself near the rear end of the Main Portico. Swami was smiling and walking. He talked to a few VIP's seated in the Portico. As He approached the Golf Cart, the Principal of the Music College went closer with the Aarti. Again Swami spoke to him for quite some time. It was clear that Swami was appreciating the effort and was also encouraging them to do better, and the Principal was praying to Swami for Blessing the students with a bright future enabling them to brighten the wonderful culture and traditions of our country with their music!
Swami took Aarti and retired to the Poornachandra Auditorium. The Keertanas were still ringing in our ears for they had left an indelible impression in our hearts, reminding us of what our great Bharath stood for, of what life stood for and inspiring us to seek for the ultimate goal of merging at the Lotus Feet of Thyagaraja's Hero - our Hero and the Hero of the whole world - Sri Sathya Sai Rama!!
In the evening, Swami came out for Darshan at 3.00 p.m. He got down near the front steps of the dais and climbed onto the Marble slab. He sat on the sofa for a few minutes and at 3.15 p.m. He got up and went walking, catching the brass railings on the dais, towards the interview room. As He walked past the portrait of Saint Thyagaraja, He looked at it keenly for quite some time. Maybe He went back in time to live those moments with His beloved devotee again! At 3.25 p.m., He went into the interview room. He came out at 4.10 p.m. and started Bhajans inside the Bhajan hall. We had a long Bhajan session this evening until 4.50 p.m. Then Swami took Aarti and retired to His Abode.