MAKARA SANKRANTHI IN THE DIVINE PRESENCE - a Report
Makara Sankranthi, the harvest festival in the southern part of India was celebrated all over India on 14th or 15th January with respect to the transition of the Sun. This festivity coincides with the entry of the Sun into the sign of Capricorn (Makara) in its northward journey…a transition through the winter from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn…and the entry of the Sun into the sign of Capricorn has physical, ethical, social and moral significance.
Makara Sankranthi has been a major festivity in Prasanthi Nilayam, the Divine Abode of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba for the past several years. Sankranthi, the day when the Sun enters Makara Rasi (Tropic of Capricorn), signifies the onset of Uttarayana. Bhagawan in His Divine Discourses describes Sankranthi as Samyak Kranthi Ithi Sanktranthi, meaning change for the good is Sankranthi. He urges us to transform completely, a transformation, embracing the goodness, the innate Divinity. As the Sun enters the Makara rasi (Tropic of Capricorn), signifying the onset of Uttarayana, the period of auspiciousness, it is significantly serving a silent reminder to one and all to move higher and higher…from darkness to light.
This festival brings joy into the hearts of one and all. It illumines the minds of people and induces the unfolding of inner feelings. It influences not only the mind, but also the powers of nature. Nature is the projection of the mind. The world is rooted in the mind. When the mind is turned towards the heart, and the heart is filled with the Divine, the mind will cease to be the source of trouble, says Bhagawan on the festivity.
On this auspicious morning, 15th January 2007, Bhagawan was escorted to a fully packed Sai Kulwant Hall by the Brass Band of the Institute at 8:10 a.m. to the accompaniment of Veda Chanting by the Institute students. Bhagawan went for a full round, came on to the dais that was decorated with trophies and shields meant for distribution to the winners of Annual Sports and Cultural Meet for the year 2007 concluded just three days ago. Bhagawan graciously blessed the trophies and shields before occupying His seat on the dais.
Sri Anil Gokak, Vice Chancellor of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning in his introductory speech spoke about the spiritual significance of sports. He said, Bhagawan in His integral system of education has given due importance to the body, that is considered as an important component of man’s life. The spirit of the sports demands fair competition; to accept victory with humility and defeat with smile…and to shake hand with the opponent at the end of the game. Quoting the all conquering Australian cricket team’s coach during the World Cup 2003, that he was looking for intangibles in a player…the ability, attitude and willingness to sacrifice for the team… he said, all is not lost in the world of sports, though the same is commercialized. Intertwining the sports meet that was held recently with spirituality, the Vice Chancellor, referring to the paragliding event, urged the students that Bhagawan wants them to rise higher and higher not only in the physical level but in the spiritual realms of the inner world…explore not only in the outer space but also the inner space within…getting rid off the gravitational pull of worldly attachments and sour higher and higher within the inner space to come back to where the journey began from, as transformation has to take place in this body, in this earth.
Prof. G. Venkataraman, former Vice Chancellor of the Institute who was lavish at pouring accolades to the students of the Brindavan Campus for their beautiful drama presentation on the previous evening, started his speech requesting the audience for a big hand to the campus students for their wonderful effort…and it was rapturous applause all around. The drama that had the narration of Prahlada’s life had three important messages for the humanity, for today and …to come… according to Prof. Venkataraman. The first one being, beware…watch out for the red-light that is flashing…danger signals are there…do not ignore them. Referring to the modern scientific experiments being carried out, that is nothing but atrocious, he said: scientists are attempting to play God instead of following God. Referring to the story of Hiranyakashipu who ignored the warnings that finally spelt his doom, he said, today’s scientists are no better than Hiranyakashipu as they are equally ignorant of the danger signals…and the one and only thing that can save humanity from the clutches of destruction is Namasmarana. …and this is exactly the second message that Prof. Venkataraman was referring to…that…difficulties may be mountainous, but there is a simple solution to get rid off the problem…Namasmarana. The third message is to learn to establish proper priorities in life. If anyone comes between the individual and God, one should be able to discriminate, prioritize…to accept the side of Truth, Righteousness that is God as was in the case of Bhakta Prahlada.
Citing the last scene from the drama where Lord Narasimha emerged out breaking a pillar, he gave a symbolic narration: the pillar represents ignorance and once the ignorance is destroyed, the innate Divinity will shine forth…to tear our ego to pieces…we are all potential Hiranyakashipus…once we shed our ignorance we will become Prahladas… of course, we are living in troubled times…but not to fear… as from Bhagawan’s Institute hundreds of Prahlada’s will come to clean up the whole world.
Excerpts from Bhagawan's Divine Discourse
All are parts of the Divine…not merely man, but birds, beasts and insects… this Truth is not recognized… reiterated Bhagawan in His Sankranthi Divine discourse. …Everything happens at God’s Will…and not because of any human effort. Who is human? Bhagawan posed a question…the word HINDU means…H…Human; I…Individual; N…Nation; D…Devotion; U…Unity and once we achieve Unity…we can experience Divinity and with this Divinity the whole world will stand united to become one…said Bhagawan.
Religion means love…if there is no love, we are not attached to any religion…one should hold on to one’s religion…but unfortunately such traits are not found in students in these days…people do not have faith in religion….if we do not have faith in religion one cannot understand anything…it is the religion that sets the correct guidelines to humanity…one without religion is not a man…you are a human only if you have a religion.
One should live…go by the principle of expansion…unity leads one to purity and with purity one can attain Divinity…to attain purity, one’s vision should be sacred…all the words one utter should be soft and sweet…one should listen to sacred things and should be able to smell the fragrance…human birth is the consequence of action, the karma…karma makes dharma, the code of life…and since one is born by the result of karma, grows by action ….will return to karma…karma is Divine…and thus on this earthly sojourn karma is of absolute importance…karma includes our breath…inhalation and exhalation…without which life process is impossible…
Referring to eating habits, Bhagawan advised not to go after taste; taste makes our life waste. One should be satisfied that his hunger is satiated. Moving on the subject ‘friendship’ He posed a question: Who are your friends? …one should have good friends…as is your friend, so you will be….one should join the good company to become good…Tell me your company, I shall tell you who you are…All your goodness depends upon your company…good people do not necessarily be friendly…friendship should bring in transformation…reforming each other…transforming each other…that is true friendship.
Hold on to your character…respect all…love all…do not hate anybody…hate makes waste…a true student is one who is humble, obedient, one who does not have pomp and ego. All of our students are pure gold…wherever they are, they maintain their golden qualities…wherever they go they get very good name, because of their good actions, words and ideal behaviour. Wherever they go, people declare openly that they are Sai Baba students… Sai Baba children… they are so great, so reputed… …it is enough if you watch the face of Sai Baba students…children of Sai, you will see the very face of Sai. Sathya Sai students are the ideals for everyone to follow.
It is almost more than ten years that He had made his last visit to the city of Chennai. Ten years back when He had visited the city, the sight of children having bath in sewage water was so pathetic that Bhagawan had decided not to visit the city again…and now, Bhagawan has spent Rs. 300 crores for the Drinking Water Project. Bhagawan is planning to visit the city at a time when the city is blessed with pure drinking water.
Concluding His Divine Discourse He exhorted: Be ideal to the community…Never speak lies…Never follow the path of injustice…Do not lead an unrighteous life…Become children of Eternity…Amrutaswarupa…You are all essentially the spark of the Divine…He wished all His students thumping success in the ensuing examinations.
Earlier in the day before commencing His Divine Discourse Bhagawan graciously gave away trophies to all the campuses, namely, Prasanthi Niayam campus for Men, Brindavan campus for Men, Anantapur campus for Women, Sri Sathya Sai Mirpuri College of Music, Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School and not the least…to the tiny tots at Sri Sathya Sai Primary School, a customary affair every year, as a reward to excellent sportsman spirit and fair competition.
Bhakta Prahlada – The Power of Love and Devotion
The Story of Bhakta Prahlada is the story of man’s journey from bondage to freedom. …and this was the story enacted by the students of Brindavan Campus as a part of their offering at His Divine Lotus Feet during Makara Sankranthi Celebrations. This glitzy stage presentation on the 14th evening in Sai Kulwant Hall in the Divine Presence indeed had the Master’s touch as Bhagawan had already witnessed the rehearsal as a prelude to the final show. Powerful and eloquent dialogue delivery suffused with emotional expressions…classy costumes glittering under flashy coloured beams and backdrops that excel reality made this presentation a masterpiece that captivated the hearts and minds assembled in the Divine Presence on the blessed evening. The presentation had a rave review by Bhagawan Himself when He expressed His utmost satisfaction and happiness on the wonderful presentation, during His Divine Discourse. …May more and more Prahlada’s emerge out from his illustrious educational institutions to wield the power of Truth and Righteousness to clean up the world towards a better one…as was promised! A world of Truth, A world of Dharma and world full of Selfless Love…Love alone!
The Storyline: Deho Devalaya Prokto, Jeevo Devah Sanatanah. God is the indweller in the human body. The mind is the key for the lock of the human heart. If the key is inserted in the lock and turned outward towards the world, man is lost in bondage; when he turns the mind inward and Godward, he becomes free and redeemed.
Hiranyakashipu represents the modern atheist who tries to dominate and control nature to ascertain his supremacy. By virtue of his focus, will power, determination and hard work, he succeeds in controlling the five elements. He is immune to the destructive forces of the five elements.
By conquering the first element, the expansive and mysterious Space, he is free from the fear of failure.
By conquering the second element, the fast and furious Wind, he still fickleness.
By conquering the third element, the blazing Fire, he succeeds in controlling the pangs of hunger.
By conquering the fourth element, the flowing Water, he quenches the thirst of passion.
And…by conquering the fifth element, the inert and heavy
Earth, he overcomes inertia and sloth.
Prahlada, on the other hand, represents the faithful devotee of the Lord. He achieves all that his father achieves by merely surrendering to the Lord.
He is fearless because he is assured of the Lord’s protection.
He is steady in his faith in the Lord’s might.
Fire cannot burn him, Water cannot drown him, the fall to the Earth cannot hurt him!
All the five elements become benevolent to him because of his devotion and love for the Lord. Ultimately, it is devotion and love that overpowers arrogance and might.
Sri Krishna Rayabaram
On the 15th evening it was the turn of Prasanthi Nilayam campus…and the presentation was Sri Krishna Rayabaram, the story of Bhagawan Sri Krishna’s diplomatic peace mission to the Kaurava court to avoid a fearsome war. Unlike the Brindavan Presentation that was full of faith and devotion as its theme, this drama had an intellectual touch… showing how the Lord of the Universe masterfully crafted the scenes of His diplomatic peace mission. Bhagawan had evinced great interest in the presentation as He had made Himself available for a rehearsal session; poetic dialogues from the Bhagavatham were highlights of the drama that were incorporated at His Divine instance. The curtain was drawn with the Vishwararoopa Darshanam.
It was indeed yet another classy act by His students, with rare professional touch in all areas, be in the costume design, be in the dialogue delivery or acting…it was indeed a masterly act that made Bhagawan immensely happy on the first evening after the sun’s entry in to the sign of Capricorn marking the most auspicious period of the year, Uttarayana.