Prasanthi Bulletin

January 12th 2005

In the evening, Bhagawan came out for Darshan at 3.15 p.m. Taking a full round of the Kulwant Hall, the golf cart stopped at the centre of the dais. Swami got down, climbed up the few steps that lead unto the dais and sat down on the sofa that was placed in the centre of the stage. Even as the new golf cart made its way during Darshan, we could see a huge backdrop across the rear end of the Kulwant Hall. Children were standing in front of it with flags welcoming Swami. These were Balvikas children from Andhra Pradesh who had been Blessed by Bhagawan to put up a dance ballet titled "Sai Sankranthi" in the Divine Presence this evening.

Sankranthi is the festival that thrills and charges the heart of every individual with a sense of elation and joy! It is a three-day festival celebrated as Bhogi, Sankranthi and Kanuma, with enthusiasm and reverence. 'Samyak' signifies Holiness and Divinity. 'Kranthi' denotes Change and Progress. Thus, Sankranthi heralds a holy, progressive journey towards Divinity.

The Dance Ballet explained how in India, Dhanurmasam ends on Bhogi in mid-January. The very next day, Sun, the visible symbol of God begins his Northward movement and this period is significantly designated as Uttarayana Punya Kaala and is celebrated as Makara Sankramanam.

The Dance Ballet went on to highlight the inner significance of all the rituals that are practiced as per the tradition during this festival. Muggulu (Rangoli) in a riot of colours, Gobbillu (Fresh cowdung spread on floors and decorated with flowers), Bhogi Mantalu (Holy Bonfire that signifies the end of the harvest season and winter), Bommala Kovulu (Display and worship of dolls), early morning call by the Hari Dasulu singing the glory of the Lord, Gangireddulu (Bulls led by their master and decorated in a grand way) etc.. were all illustrated through dance sequences and scintillating songs.

It was a treat to both the ears and the soul. The children danced very well. There were a large number of them and so many dance pieces, that it would have taken them lot of time and effort to choreograph and present such a beautiful programme.

The presentation ended at 4.20 p.m. They all assembled and sat down for His Blessings. Swami asked the boys to distribute apple Prasadam to all of them. He signaled to the photographers to take the photo of the entire group. It was a very odd sight to us, because Swami was sitting in the sofa and the cameras were taking the group photo of all the performers standing opposite to Him!! Was this possibly an indication of future trends? We just hope not! Some of our brothers wondered whether in future, we would have to be happy that we at least got a photograph clicked in the presence of Bhagawan!

Swami then retired into the interview room.

January 13th 2005

This morning, something very unique happened. Bhagawan's Leelas are very enchanting and they will be remembered forever. All devotees, students and even the coaches were seated in Sai Kulwant Hall for Darshan. The coaches were expectantly waiting for Bhagawan's Darshan and possibly some interaction. Time flew past. It was 7.30 a.m., then 8.00 a.m. and finally 9.00 a.m. But no sign of Darshan! Bhajans began and we gave up the hope of having any Darshan this morning. At 9.30 a.m. Aarti was performed and many of us were leaving..... Suddenly, at 9.35 a.m., there was lot of commotion and what do we see? Swami was emerging out of the Poornachandra Auditorium.

Luckily we were still there in the Kulwant Hall for some reason and that came as a Blessing! Swami arrived in the Golf Cart just as He comes for normal Darshan. He looked very bright and fresh, radiating Love all over! He had a lovely smile on His face and as He crossed the boys, He told some of them, "I am just five minutes late!!" We looked at the clock; it was exactly 9.35 a.m. - five minutes past the Aarti time (9.30 a.m.)!!

Bhagawan took a full round of the Kulwant Hall, came onto the dais and got down. Vedam was going on without the mikes as the PA system had already been wound up. Swami walked across the dais, gave fantastic Darshan to all seated and then moved back again towards the Golf Cart. The Pujari came with the formal Aarti. So, once again we had Aarti and Bhagawan officially retired for the morning.

What a lovely event. Everything around God is so mysterious and full of uncertainty. But this is what gives joy and delight to one and all!! We have to be ever ready and always on our toes when we are with Him!!

In the evening, Bhagawan came out for Darshan at 3.35 p.m. As we entered the Kulwant Hall for Darshan, what do we see? Was it a dream or reality? An exquisitely carved Tirupati Temple Dome - big size - was placed in the rear end of the Hall. (Incidentally, the size of the dome made by the boys is equivalent to the actual size of the dome at Tirupati. Whereas that is in metres, this is in feet. And this was not intended to be so, it just happened to be so! That is Divine Grace!) A huge Shanka and Chakra (Conch and Discus) shining brilliantly with the Chamkis - in the sun, was placed on the top on either side of the dome. No wonder, there was so much of talk going on about the drama 'Annamacharya' to be presented by the Brindavan Students.

At 3.40 p.m. Swami was seated on the sofa in the center of the dais. He stopped the Vedam chanting and for the next 75 minutes we were all transported literally to the times of Saint Annamayya. It was as though the actual scenes from his life came alive in front of our eyes! What costumes and what sets!! It is just impossible to describe its beauty! All we can say is "Yato Vacho Nivartante Aprapya Manasa Saha". Words are inadequate and mind cannot comprehend its grandeur and beauty!

The drama was in English. The play was packed with all the popular Annamacharya Kirtanas that we hear and see in the film 'Annamayya'. In the short time available, they were able to portray a fairly good sweep of his life story. The songs were rendered by the best singers of the Brindavan Campus and were soul stirring. The sets were highly complex. There were three tier stages. Whereas the main drama was performed at the ground level, the temple and the idol were at the first level and right on the top was 'Vaikunta' where Lord Vishnu and Narada have their conversations explaining the advent of Annamayya and the reason for his birth. Some dances were performed on all the three stages, making it look very professional and beautiful!

The play was packed with almost 13 songs and an equal number of dances. The dances were choreographed very well. The highlight was the last scene where Annamayya decides to leave his mortal coil. However, Lord Venkateswara is not happy with this decision, for whom would He listen to after Annamaya passes away! Therefore, Lord Venkateswara Himself comes down to Annamayya and tries to convince him to live on and sing to Him for some more time.

The student who played the role of Lord Venkateswara looked so fantastic in that costume that it almost looked like the actual Venkateswara had descended down into Kulwant Hall! The conversation between Annamayya and Lord Venkateswara were very meaningful and pregnant with wisdom. Finally Annamayya, cutting across all ties of Maya, leaves his body and merges in the Lord!

The play ended with a final dance where all the performers progressively assemble in front of Swami, singing together in His praise. No doubt, the drama concluded with thunderous applause from all present. Swami immediately got up from the sofa and came literally running to Bless them with a group photograph! He spoke to them and gave them a chance to have a photograph along with Him!

Hats off to the entire team - the singers, dancers, actors, commentators, and of course the teachers and other coordinators associated with the fantastic presentation. They had indeed set a new benchmark for Sai Kulwant Hall presentations!

January 14th 2005

Wish you all a very Happy and Auspicious Sankranthi! This morning the Sai Kulwant Hall was showing off with great pride and jubilance the various medals and shields that were to be awarded to the children of her Master. Yes, apart from being Makara Sankrati, today also happens to be the Valedictory Function of the Sri Sathya Sai Educational Institutions' Annual Sports and Cultural Meet.

The sets used for the Annamacharya drama yesterday, served as decorative props this morning, in the Hall. The Shanka and the Chakra were placed on either side of Ganeshaji on the dais, supported against the two huge pillars.

The two backdrops that were used yesterday, one of a Nature scene and the other of a Temple Gopuram, were placed on either side, further away. In front of these backdrops were placed tables covered with spotless white table cloth. On these were placed the variety of Medals, Cups and Shields! Shining with all their brilliance, they spoke volumes about the great achievements of all the students under His Benign Guidance!

The programme was to begin at 8.00 a.m. according to the announcement made yesterday. At exactly 7.57 a.m., the drum beat from the Anantapur Band was heard. The Lord drove out in the Golf Cart welcomed by the Anantapur Band, the Institute Captains with the Flags and the Parthi Brass Band in that order. The Golf Cart took a full round of the Sai Kulwant Hall quenching the thirst of thousands of devotees with a glimpse of His Darshan and finally parked itself at the center of the dais. Swami got down, climbed up the steps and stood on the dais. Immediately, Sri Ravi Kiran, the Physical Director of the Prasanthi Nilayam Campus came forward with a lighted candle. Bhagawan received the candle and went over to light the ceremonial lamp. Loud applause filled the Hall!

Sri Sanjay Sahni, the Principal of the Brindavan Campus, Sri Ravi Kiran - the Physical Director of the Prasanthi Nilayam Campus, Sri Gopinath - the Physical Director of the Brindavan Campus, offered a bouquet and card to Bhagawan. Bhagawan gave an indication to the Vedam students who were seated with white dhoties and full sleeved white shirts, to chant the official Vedam before commencing the programme. They took their position and chanted the Surya Mantram and the Narayana Suktam. Bhagawan Blessed each pair of boys as they bowed down and returned.

Sri Sanjay Sahni made a few introductory remarks. He greeted all by wishing them a Happy Sankranthi. He introduced the speaker for the day - Sri S.V. Giri - the Vice Chancellor of the Institute. Sri S.V. Giri offered his Pranaams to Bhagawan. His talk centred on the achievements of the students in the Sports Meet and how these achievements were purely inspired by the Love and Grace of the Revered Chancellor. He recalled a few items of dare-devilry like Carabining, Bike Stunts and the Celestial Rhythms to illustrate how a blend of courage and faith in God can help accomplish marvelous feats!!

He also drew upon the significance of Sankranthi saying that this was the period when the sun moves Northwards. In the Indian context, Northwards means towards the Himachalas. 'Hima' means ice - as cool and white as snow and 'Achala' means firm as a rock. Therefore, moving Northwards actually meant directing the firm mind towards the pure-white spiritual heart - the seat of the Lord!

It is this firmness of the mind that is developed by participating in all these events during the Sports Meet. He also went on to speak of the concern that the Revered Chancellor has for His students. Many a time, Swami used to instruct the Vice-Chancellor to take care of the students and see to it that they had no obstacles in their way. For instance, Swami enquired about the Carabining boys and said that gliding down the rope would cause a lot of friction and therefore they need to have some sort of protection for that.

The Vice-Chancellor's talk was followed by talks by two students. One from the Anantapur campus and another a student from the II M.Sc.(C) class at Prasanthi Nilayam, Sri Aravind Balasubramanyam. The theme of both these talks was that all these events during the Sports and Cultural meet had only one focus and that was to make Swami happy; to see a smile on His face. As the Anantapur sister very beautifully put it - What happens TO you is not so important but what happens IN you is what matters! Participation in these activities must enable each one to make a whole hearted offering of his/her talent to Swami with Love!

The second speaker concluded his talk at 8.55 a.m, and as he went towards Swami to seek His Blessings, Swami very lovingly materialized a gold chain for him. The boy was ecstatic as Swami tied the chain around his neck. Those few seconds seemed like an eternal moment of Bliss and Joy!!

After this the Vice-Chancellor made the announcement for awarding the cups. Five shining cups were brought outside from the interview room and were placed next to Swami. The first ones to receive the cup were the Prasanthi Nilayam Captain and Vice-captain, followed by Brindavan, Anantapur, Higher Secondary School, Deenajanoddharana Pathakam and finally the Mirpuri College of Music. All of them received the beautiful cups amidst loud applause!!

It was 9.05 a.m. Bhagawan had decided to Bless us with His Divine Discourse. The table was arranged and our Lord stood up in all His Majesty. Following are the highlights of the Sankranthi Discourse:

Of all festivals, Sankranthi is the most important one. In fact, in Bharath, everyday is a festival! Sankranthi is the festival when the bridegrooms visit the homes of their in-laws. This festival is generally viewed as a festival of the bulls. During Sankranthi, people worship the cows. The bulls are decked with good dresses and jewels and taken in a procession. People even perform marriages of the bulls with the cows. The person who accompanies the bull also has a specific costume.

The bull is named Rama and the cow is named Sita. The animals are trained to respond to the movement of the stick. First the cow is questioned, "Do you like Sri Rama?" The cow is made to nod her head indicating "No". Then the bull is questioned in the same way and he too is made to answer in the negative. In fact, this is the same practice even in the world today among men and women. However, finally marriage is performed between the cow and the bull. Thus, Sankranthi is a holy festival even for the animals.

This festival is also very important for the farmers. By this time, the harvest is over and the house is full of grains. The fields are empty. This is a festival for all people right from the farmer to the king. It is celebrated in all countries, though the names may differ. The main purpose of Sankranthi is to make everybody Blissful. As the grains are brought home, even the birds partake of it and experience happiness and joy!

Every man struggles to be blissful in this world. We must understand that Bliss comes from within and not from outside. It is all a question of Reaction, Reflection and Resound. Ananda has to come only from one's own heart! Today man is experiencing artificial happiness. Bliss from the heart is permanent.

Students, bear all this in mind and conduct yourself accordingly in the future. One can never be happy by hurting others. Such a festival cannot be called a festival at all, where all are not happy.

During this Pushya Masa (month) so many changes occur. "Kranti" means change. There must be a change from Misery to Bliss - from Ashanti to Prasanthi. Students, you must understand the inner significance of every festival. We must be ready to sacrifice anything. Body is not important nor is the mind. Mind is a mere collection of thoughts. Body is made up of five elements. These are present everywhere. We must brush aside the six vices and nurture happiness, health, peace and prosperity.

Today, man is restless even in accomplishing a tiny task. All say - "I want peace." Where is Peace? Outside we have only pieces! True peace is inside. In spite of prolonged heating, milk does not change its colour. Though water is mixed with milk, milk remains white in colour. So too, the heart is always pure. It is ever radiant and effulgent!

Resist and control the evil qualities and experience true Bliss! How does anger arise? When desires are not fulfilled, it leads to anger. We must experience pleasure even in pain. Bliss is in you, with you, around you. Where then do we need to search for it? True Bliss does not come from wealth or material comfort. Good company leads to Bliss. Bhagawan is always Blissful! He has no worries, no troubles, and no problems!!

Some people ask, "Swami, don't you have any worries?" What is worry - I have no idea at all!! Bliss is sweeter than sugar and tastier than honey. Many things come and go. Swami does not mind about these things. Love always remains with you. But you are using it in the worldly way. In times of sorrow, think of the happy moments. Then you will remain joyful!

Body is like a water bubble, mind is like a mad monkey. Do not follow the body, do not follow the mind, follow the conscience!! Lead your life with Love. Differences are related only to the body. True Bliss is in the heart. Happiness is union with God!

Sankranthi means a series of changes. But do not go by that which changes. It is only Divine Love that remains changeless! God is the very embodiment of Bliss! If you are sad, it is of your own making. Here is a white kerchief. To colour it, it has to be dyed.

Bliss is your true nature. You are full of Love. It just overflows from within you. But you are closing the doors. Because of excessive desires, we lose this Bliss. Whiteness is the very nature of the cloth. Because of frequent use, it becomes dirty. Its true nature is whiteness. So too the heart of Bhagawan! It is always white and bright!!

If somebody asks, "Are you happy?" you must say, "Yes, I am happy". Small unpleasant things do happen in life. But never mind all that. It is your weakness to get affected by these tiny problems.

Students, never worry about anything. Suppose you fail in an examination, tell yourself - "O.K. I did not do well, therefore I have failed". But do not keep brooding over it. You must understand that the reason for failure is your own thoughts.

Last month, there was a lot of misery all over. Many lost their lives in the Tsunami that struck so many countries. Remember, never indulge in wrong action. They lead to all such problems. This year, there will be more troubles. More than last year. But do not get worried. These are all like passing clouds.

The Tsunami is the result of human behaviour. It has nothing to do with God. All this is because of what man has made of man and not because of what God has made of man. Man's thoughts are responsible for all this. We must not consider it as God's Prasadam. God has no hatred at all. He loves everyone. He showers Bliss on each and every one. Suppose a student fails in the examination, he must consider that - this is good for me. Whatever happens it is good for all.

Without difficulties, there can be no happiness. Both are intertwined. Fruition of difficulties itself is happiness! God will never put anybody to suffering. He confers Bliss and peace on one and all. How can He give misery to anybody? If you know the true meaning of all this, you will understand that it is good for all.

This Sankranthi is Premakranthi. Welcome it wholeheartedly. We must pray "O God, You are the very embodiment of Bliss. Share that Bliss with me. Gift that Bliss to me."

Even Jesus questioned God at the time of crucifixion. However, crucifixion too is out of compassion! All difficulties will ultimately confer Bliss. Share this Bliss with others. Today it is just the reverse. We keep happiness with us and share our sorrows with others. This is not correct.

Today being Sankranthi, there should be a transformation in your hearts so as to become happy and Blissful. We must transcend humanity and ascend to Divinity. Bliss must become your food. Be hungry for Bliss at all times. Strengthen your faith, put in your best efforts - all the rest will happen automatically.

Bhagawan concluded His Discourse at 10.10 a.m. with the Bhajan - Bhajana Bina Sukha Shanti Nahin....

There was Prasadam distribution at 10.15 a.m. and by 10.25 a.m. Bhagawan retired to Poornachandra Auditorium. An announcement was made that this evening there would be a cultural programme by our Primary School children in Sai Kulwant Hall at 5.00 p.m. A little while later, instructed by Bhagawan, Prof. Anil Kumar once again spoke over the mike. He said that our compassionate Lord, hearing the prayers of the staff and children of the Primary School had shifted the venue of the drama to the Poornachandra Hall as they needed to use some sets and effects! Such is the Love of our Lord!

(We understand that Swami had lunch in the new building this morning. However, He has not yet shifted His residence there).

In the evening, Bhagawan cane out for Darshan at 4.00 p.m. The Golf Cart stopped at the centre. Swami got down and sat on the sofa. Vedam chanting went on continuously as Swami kept sitting silently on the sofa until 4.25 p.m. Then he spoke to the Vice-chancellor. At 4.35 p.m. the Vedam stopped and the VC announced that we all should move to the Poornachandra Hall in an orderly fashion to view the cultural programme by the Primary School children.

At 5.40 p.m. the drama commenced in the PC Hall. "Sai Bhagavatham" was the title of the play. The play went on till 7.00 p.m. It was all about the advent of the Avataar, His childhood days, His Leelas and His Mission. More than a hundred students participated in this most colorful and gripping play that enthralled all our hearts!

A video projector projected stills and videos on the huge screen in the background that served as the backdrop for all the scenes. Therefore, there was no set up time at all. Within a second, the backdrop projection would change and the next scene would begin. The play was rich in costumes, dialogues, colour and the novel idea of using video projections as backdrop scenes was excellent.

The little boy who acted as Swami looked very cute and won the hearts of all. There was loud applause at several points during the play. At 7.00 p.m. Swami got up and went up the lift, spoke to a few students and retired for the day.

Thus Sankranthi came to a close and the valedictory function officially concluded the Annual Culture and Sports Meet for the year.

You can see an illustrated version of happenings at Prasanthi Nilayam in the Prasanthi Diary of our monthly e-Journal Heart to Heart.

The previous issue of Prasanthi Bulletin is available here.