March 7th, 2005 Morning
Bhagawan came out for Darshan at 7.20 a.m. The Golf Cart turned near the Vedam boys. Swami got down near the Vedam boys and went up the dais taking letters from the Brindavan students.
He stood for around 10 minutes showering the gift of His Darshan on all the students. Then He moved towards the Primary School Children. The Anantapur sisters were also seated for Darshan. Vedam was going on in full swing. In His typical way, Swami asked the College students to stop chanting. He wanted to hear the Primary School chanting independently. Immediately, the volume level rose and all the children chanted at the top of their voices!
Swami stood there for nearly half an hour accepting their chanting as an offering. The Veda Purusha was directly receiving the offering of the Vedic Chants. Swami asked one of the Primary School boys to come forward. Bhagawan asked him to stand next to Him, face the audience and chant the Vedam. The boy chanted boldly and with all joy! Immediately came the reward - a gold chain from Swami!
Bhagawan then came back towards the sofa and sat down. The sofa was placed in the middle of the dais. It was around 8.00 a.m. Mr. Ajit Popat from U.K. (very well known to all of us) was beckoned by Bhagawan to share his views with the audience. The 20 minutes talk by Mr. Popat was followed by Dr. Goldstein - the Chairman of the Prasanthi Council that oversees the activities of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organization around the world. Dr. Goldstein spoke for around 10 minutes. This was followed by Bhajans from 8.30 a.m. to 8.55 a.m. Then, Bhagawan took Aarti and retired to His Poornachandra residence.
March 7th, 2005 Evening
Swami was out by 3.00 p.m. He came and sat down on the sofa placed in the middle of the dais. The Hall was packed with devotees and the student block too was full with Parthi and Brindavan boys. After a while, Swami called brother Ganesh - the dancer who has been fortunate to present his talent in the Divine Presence in the last few days. They had planned some dances for this evening too. Swami gave them the green signal.
The first dance was by a group of boys to the song 'Ananda Tandavam Aade...' Incidentally, this was the dance that marked the opening of the Prasanthinilayam Campus presentation on 11th January during the Annual Sports and Cultural Meet this year. This was followed by another group dance to the well known song 'Ekadantaya Vakratundaya Gowritanayaya Dheemahi..' There was loud applause for each piece. The boys danced very well, optimally blending the classical dance steps with contemporary styles.
It was 3.30 p.m. and again Bhagawan called brother Ganesh and gave him some instructions. We saw the singers taking their place and the mikes being arranged. Maybe a music programme - we thought. However, it was another dance. This time the song was sung live by the Bhajan boys. Brother Ganesh performed a solo dance to the song 'Bho Shambho Shiva Shambho Svayambho...' He did very well and as he knelt down in obeisance towards the end of the song, Swami waved His hand and materialized a gold chain. Our brother ran up to Swami and very lovingly Swami tied the chain around his neck amidst loud applause!
It was 3.40 p.m. and the next event began. This was a Burra Katha (The folk art of singing the glory of the Lord) performed by three of Swami's students. It was titled 'Sai Mahima'. It began with a short commentary and an invocation to Lord Ganesha. The Burra Katha went on until 4.30 p.m., singing the glory of beloved Swami, His Advent on earth, the earlier days, the greatness of Mother Eswaramma, the various projects undertaken by Bhagawan and so on.
The tunes were very catchy; the frequent changes in the Raga and the beat making it very lively and filled with variety. The lyrics were very meaningful and rhymed perfectly well. Almost all people were either tapping their hands or swaying their heads to the lilting tunes.
Bhagawan retired at 4.30 p.m.
March 8th, 2005 Morning
We wish you a very happy Sivaratri. May this holy night awaken us to the dawn of wisdom and Love. We all were seated by 7.00 a.m. in the Kulwant Hall. The crowds were suddenly very huge. Devotees had already packed the Kulwant Hall to its seams. Several devotees were seated outside the Mandir wall along the pathway adjacent to the East Block and also near the Rama Statue.
Bhagawan came out at 7.15 a.m. The beats of the Pancha Vadyam played by the students and the tunes of the Naada Swaram, aptly prepared the Kulwant Hall for receiving our Lord Sai Shiva. Swami came seated on the Lamborghini with brother Satyajit manoeuvering the vehicle from the rear.
Swami took a full round of the Hall and entered the inner Portico from the interview room side. The Lamborghini came onto the dais. Swami got up and stood on the pedestal that serves as a mini lift. Slowly the pedestal descended, bringing down our Lord onto the dais floor. Swami moved towards the centre and sat down on the sofa.
He spoke to the secretary of the Central Trust, Mr. Chakravarthi who in turn beckoned to some elderly members seated nearby. They were supposed to be speaking this morning. One was Mr. G.K. Raman from Chennai and the other was Dr. Narendra Reddy from the USA. Both of them came forward and interacted with Swami. At 7.35 a.m., Swami asked the Vedam boys to conclude their chanting. To our surprise and definitely to his, Prof. Anil Kumar was called upon to speak to the audience.
However, ready as he always is, Prof. Anil Kumar delivered a thought provoking and informative talk for 15 minutes. He was followed by Dr. Reddy for 20 minutes and then Mr. G.K. Raman for around 10 minutes. The highlights of their talks follow:
Prof. Anil Kumar began his talk with a unique experience he had in Kodaikanal. Once while seated in front of Bhagawan, he saw a mark on the ankle of Swami's left foot. It looked like the imprint formed by the continuous wearing of an anklet. This is what Swami also said. After a while out of curiosity, Prof. Anil Kumar observed the right ankle of Bhagawan but did not find any such mark.
He questioned Bhagawan mischievously whether the right foot anklet had fallen off during Darshan time. To this Swami immediately replied, "Don't you know, I am Ardhanareeshwara?" Prof. Anil Kumar continued giving the example of Sri Ramabrahmam (Former Brindavan Caretaker) who said that he would always see Swami as the form of Lingam. He would conduct himself with Swami in this consciousness.
He recapitulated Swami's Sivaratri Discourse in 1972 at Brindavan, wherein Bhagawan mentioned that Shiva is truly Cosmic Energy. Shiva is not a form as we understand. That is why we do not refer to this energy as Sri Shiva. Shiva stands for Ardhanareeshwara which represents matter + energy.
Prof. Anil Kumar concluded his talk explaining the relation of the moon with the mind and its significance with respect to Sivaratri.
Dr. Reddy, a very scholarly speaker, quoted extensively from the Vedas, the Gita and also from Bhagawan. He explained how incomprehensible the Avataric phenomenon is. He struck a personal note by sharing his own experiences. He spoke about his father who had a spinal disc problem but was cured by Swami without any surgery. In fact, surgery could have proved fatal and Swami had stopped them just in time.
His mother too had multiple health problems. She was disabled and could not even walk. However, this 79th Birthday of Bhagawan, she was Blessed by Swami and with just a tap of His Hand, she is now able to walk to the surprise of all!
Dr. Reddy then went on to describe how Bhagawan cures the ailments of others but does not use this power for Himself. There are two lessons, Dr. Reddy said, that must be learnt from this episode. One is the transcendence of body consciousness and the second is living life selflessly. Bhagawan was setting an example for both. True renunciation does not mean giving up wife, children, home etc., but it means giving up of evil qualities.
He narrated a very interesting episode wherein a physician friend of his, on one occasion felt very much hurt when Bhagawan called two of his friends for an interview, but left him out. He felt within as to why Swami was treating him like a stepson. The next day, during Darshan, Dr. Reddy was sitting next to him. Swami came straight to this man and said, "Why do you look at me as a stepmother?" Dr. Reddy could not understand this conversation but later when his friend shared this episode with him, he realized how Bhagawan reflects every thought of ours.
He concluded his talk narrating the story of Sri Kutumba Rao. In his final days, Sri Kutumba Rao had cancer. He was admitted in a hospital in Bangalore. His wife, being very disturbed prayed to Swami to cancel his cancer. Bhagawan said that He would surely do so provided Kutumba Rao himself asked for it. The wife went to her husband and narrated all that had happened.
Sri Kutumba Rao said that he would never ask for such a boon. If at all he would ask, he would seek only for liberation. This body had to anyhow go one day. The disappointed wife returned for Darshan. Swami came to her and asked her about her husband's response. Then Bhagawan said that through this event, He wanted to show the world an example of a true devotee!
By the time the talks ended, it was 8.20 a.m. Swami called Prof. Anil Kumar and spoke to him for some time. Prof. Anil Kumar prayed on all our behalf to Swami to Bless us with His Divine Message.
Swami very lovingly consented. The table was arranged and the mike was placed in position. Bhagawan got up and began speaking. Bhagawan concluded His Discourse and sat down on the sofa at 9.10 a.m. As He sat on the sofa, Swami asked, "Are you full of positivity or negativity?" There was no answer. Then Swami asked, "Who among you can say that you are full of positivity?" He continued, "Can anyone say that you are full of negativity?" Prof. Anil Kumar translated the question to all the students and then all answered in one voice that they are all full of positivity. Prof. Anil Kumar conveyed the same to Swami.
Swami then asked, "If all of you are full of positivity, then why do you have differences among you?" Hearing this remark, there was loud applause. Swami waved His hand and materialized a gold chain. He asked, "What is in this chain?" All answered, "Swami!" Bhagawan then closed the chain in His fist and when He opened it again, there was a gold ring. Swami asked, "What is there in this ring?" Once again all gave the same reply, "Swami!' Swami then said, "In the ring, you find a diamond. Diamond means - Die Mind".
Swami then called a II PG student sitting in front with a letter. Bhagawan accepted his letter and placed the ring on his finger much to his amazement and delight! As the hall was filled with applause, Swami's Hand again moved in circles and there came a gold chain!! Again another II PG student sitting in front was called. As the brother came forward and gave his letter to Swami, Bhagawan put the chain around his neck! Another round of applause and all were delighted.
Bhagawan concluded His Discourse at 9.15 a.m. Swami then asked the Bhajan group to start their presentation. The students sang a number of Shiva Stotrams and devotional songs. Sri Rudrashtakam was a new addition this time. Prasadam distribution began simultaneously. At 9.45 a.m. Swami got up and moved towards the Lamborghini parked near the interview room. Meanwhile, Prof. Anil Kumar made an announcement that the Mahashivaratri Global Akhanda Bhajans would commence at 6.00 p.m. in the Divine Presence.
At 9.50 a.m. Swami boarded the Lamborghini standing on the 'lift pedestal' and retired to His Poornachandra residence.
March 8th, 2005 Evening
In the evening Bhagawan came out for Darshan into a fully packed Hall at 3.30 p.m. Boys were seated in the Kulwant Hall from 1.30 p.m. and some had come even at 1.00 p.m. itself!! Swami came in the normal Golf Cart. He took a full round and the Cart approached the interview room. Swami got down over there and then walked up slowly towards the sofa placed in the centre of the dais.
By 3.40 p.m. Swami was seated on the sofa. The Panchavadyam was being played by the boys and as it reached a crescendo, Swami Blessed them with Abhaya Hasta and signaled to them to sit down. Bhagawan then spoke to the Vice-Chancellor Sri Anil Gokak and the former Vice-Chancellor Sri S.V. Giri. Both of them spoke this evening in the Divine Presence.
Sri S.V. Giri spoke first, for around half an hour followed by Sri Anil Gokak for 15 minutes. The main points of their talks follow:
Sri S.V. Giri said that the festival of Sivaratri signifies control of the mind. The moon reflects the aspect of the mind. On this day when the moon wanes away to a great extent, the mind too must disappear. This is the key to liberation. Mana Eva Manushyanam Karanam Bandha Mokshayo. Mind alone is the cause for both bondage and liberation!
He explained some of the titles given to Lord Shiva. For example, Lord Shiva as Ardhanareeshwara, is symbolic of gender equality. More than equality it reflects on the complementarity of man and woman in this world. This assumes more importance in the context of the role of women in society.
Lord Shiva as Neelakanta, signifies that the Lord is willing to take upon Himself any amount of hardship for the welfare of the world. Hunger and sleep are two animal instincts which must be overcome by man. This is the qualification that he must gain to move towards the Lord.
Jagaran (keeping vigil at night), he opined, is to remain awake with a purpose, with an awareness. Bhagawan has said that all those who participate in this Sivaratri celebration here will attain Moksha. However, He has also defined what Moksha is. Moksha is Moha + Kshaya. Destruction of attachment is Moksha. Incidentally in Ujjain, the first worship offered to the Lord Shiva, which is the Rudrabhisheka, is performed with the hot ash obtained from a recently cremated body. This symbolizes the detachment aspect of the Lord. Shiva is at ease both on the lofty mountain top and also in the burial ground!
Sri S.V. Giri concluded his talk elaborating on the various projects initiated by Bhagawan, stressing especially on the Deenajanodarana Pathakam (orphanage) and the Bheema Ratha Santhi - that targets the geriatric population and sets an example regarding the respectful attitude that one must foster towards the aged in society.
Sri Gokak opened his talk with the statement - The inner core is more important than the outer shell. He explained that all the rituals are like a fence that protects the crop. The main purpose is related to the inner core. For example, the main purpose is control of the mind. For this we need to remember God and therefore we sing Bhajans.
Sri Anil Gokak went on to elaborate the significance of the Lingam. 'Li' in Lingam stands for Leeyate which means 'to merge'. All forms merge into the Lingam. It has by itself, no beginning, no end, no front or no back. It is a symbol of the formless Divine Essence.
Similarly, he said that Swami too says, "I belong to all forms, names and religions". The need of the hour today is faith in all the religions. Intensity of belief, he stated, is the essence of religion. But many people say, "My religion is true, the other religion is false". This is called fundamentalism or fanaticism. Inclusiveness is where one says that one's religion is complete and he does not need any other religion.
However, the golden mean, Prof. Gokak concluded, was to practice ones own faith and also respect others faith. He finally quoted Bhagawan saying that there is only one religion - the religion of Humanity.
At 4.30 p.m. as Sri Anil Gokak concluded his talk, Swami asked for the table and the mike to be arranged. What great luck. Swami was going to Bless us again with His Divine Message. Bhagawan sipped some water, stood up and began His Discourse.
On completion of the Discourse, Bhajan boys started singing Bhajans at 5.15 p.m. Swami sat for half an hour. At 5.45 p.m. Bhagawan retired for the day.
March 9th, 2005 Morning
The mikes for the Bhajan singers were switched off at 7.00 p.m. last evening. After that we had a half an hour Bhajan singing slots for different groups, ranging from students to Sevadals, from India as well as abroad; to staff of various Sai Institutions. The whole night witnessed wonderful and soul lifting Bhajans.
Anytime after 12.00 a.m., we were expecting Swami's arrival in Kulwant Hall. However, Swami came out at 6.25 a.m. for Darshan. He sat down on the sofa and Bhajans went on with renewed vigour. After a while, we saw Swami drinking a lot of water. Every few minutes He would drink a glass of water.
For those of us who have been here on earlier Sivaratris, it was clear that Bhagawan was going through the Lingodbhavam Phenomena! All eyes were fixed on His Form, for any moment could be the Holy moment! We could see Swami going through the Divine process of bringing forth the Lingam. Bhagawan had been giving some instructions to brothers Nitin and Ramakrishna. Suddenly, the Golf Cart drove into position. It was 6.55 a.m. Bhagawan got up, took Aarti and proceeded towards the Golf Cart.
The Prasadam had not yet been shifted and Aarti was already over. Before we could think of anything, Swami was sitting in the Golf Cart that sped away to PC. A few minutes later as all devotees and the crowds waited in suspense, Prof. Anil Kumar made an announcement that Prasadam Distribution would take place now.
This time we had Puliyohara and Laddus for Prasadam. The distribution went on until 9.00 a.m. All received the Prasadam and went happily towards their homes.
March 9th, 2005 Evening
Swami came out for Darshan at 3.30 p.m. He got down the Golf Cart and sat down on the sofa placed at the centre of the dais. There were two speakers for the evening. The first one was Sri Ajit Popat who spoke for 45 minutes. The theme of his talk was the three great boons of Manushatvam, Mumkshatvam and Mahapurusha Samshrayaha (Birth as a human being, desire for liberation and company of holy men) which is very rarely available to any individual. Sri Ajit Popat also touched upon the aspect of Faith, and Stewardship.
The second speaker was Prof. G. Venkataraman who spoke for half an hour on the journey from Manushatvam to Daivatvam. Most surprisingly after the two talks, Bhagawan decided to Bless us all with His Divine Discourse. This was totally unexpected! Bhagawan spoke for an hour and ten minutes taking us through the memories of His earlier days. His focus was on the great devotion of Karnam Subbamma. He also described the final moments of Karnam Subbamma and those of His own grandfather and explained how once a word given would definitely be kept up by Bhagawan.
He said - Sathya Sai is not the one who will break the given word. His name itself is Sathya!! Bhagawan also took us through His life in Kamalapuram, the various poems composed by Him in His younger days etc. He concluded His Discourse at 6.25 p.m. The last five minutes of His Discourse were delivered sitting on the sofa. Prasadam distribution began along with Bhajans. This Sivaratri was surely different from all the ones we had in the earlier years. Three Discourses, several talks by learned senior members of the Sai Family and His beautiful extended Darshan - all these made this year's Sivaratri very memorable for all of us!