7th to 10th February 2005
On the 7th morning, Bhagawan came out for Darshan at 8.50 a.m. By the time, Swami came to Sai Kulwant Hall, it was already time for Bhajan. After Bhajans, Bhagawan retired to His abode.
On the 8th morning, Bhagawan came to the Hall at 7.20 and sat in the chair for quite some time. Devotees could feast their eyes on the Lord. On the 9th morning after starting from His abode at 7.40 a.m., Bhagawan went round the devotees, receiving letters from many of them, listening to the queries of some and then He entered the portico of the Mandir. After getting down from the golf cart, Bhagawan stood for a while near the railings and sat in the chair. After some time, He signalled for the Vedic chanting to be stopped.
A National Seminar on Biotechnology was held in the Institute from 9th to 11th February 2005. The professors who had come for the seminar were blessed with the proximity of Bhagawan. They came in a single file near Bhagawan and offered their obeisance and letters. At about 8.30 a.m., Bhagawan got up from the chair and proceeded to the interview room.
BHEEMA RATHA SHANTHI 2005
(10th February 2005)
A public announcement was made in Sai Kulwant Hall on 21st December 2004 that Bhagawan has decided to bless elderly couples (husbands aged 70 and above) residing in Prasanthi Nilayam, Puttaparthi and nearby villages.
This is a ritual where a spiritual marriage is performed for the elderly couples in a ceremonious manner to mark the entry into a new phase of life for their prolonged mental and physical health and for world peace.
Three days prior to the function, Bhagawan out of His immense love for the welfare of these elderly couples from the villages had taken care to depute a set of doctors to those villages much in advance and check their physical health to ensure their active participation in the marriage function. Bhagawan had also arranged for their to and fro transport facilities from their villages to the Ashram. Further those elderly people who found it difficult to walk were provided with wheelchairs for their easy movement during the function.
On the eve of the grand function Bheema Ratha Shanthi 2005, i.e., 9th February 2005, 275 elderly couples were seated on chairs in the Sai Kulwant Hall and were blessed by Bhagawan with dhotis, saris, gold ear rings studded with diamonds, silver anklets, bangles and glittering silk garlands to be worn on the morning of 10th February.
On the 10th morning, Sai Kulwant Hall was decked beautifully for the occasion. Beautiful flowers of various hues adorned the dais. Elaborate arrangements were made to seat the couples comfortably on chairs in Sai Kulwant Hall. Every couple was provided two chairs and a small table to keep the Puja materials in a separate enclosure in the Hall. A vase with fresh flowers was placed near the chair of each couple. Mango tree leaves and plantain saplings were tied behind the chairs to provide a festive look and a jubilant atmosphere.
Swami came to Sai Kulwant Hall at 7.15. a.m., had a look at the arrangements and went into the interview room. At 8.25, a grand procession of couples entered Sai Kulwant Hall. They had previously assembled in Pedda Venkama Raju Kalyana Mandapam from where the procession commenced. The procession was preceded by Veda chanting students from the Prasanthi Nilayam Campus of the Institute, followed by the brass band and Nadaswaram troupe from the Anantapur campus. Another interesting feature of this function was a lively Banjara dance accompanied by traditional musical instruments by tribal women from Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh. Each couple was accompanied by a student from Anantapur campus to help them in the performance of rituals. The previous evening, these students had received instructions from Bhagawan Himself regarding their duties during the function. Bhagawan had taken care of such meticulous details so that the function had all its traditional flavour and the ingredients of a marriage function.
Vedic Purohits from Godavari districts began the Puja with the worship of Ganesha. This was followed by a ritualistic worship of Raksha Bandhan (a talisman which is believed to protect the couple) with flowers and Akshata (sacred yellow rice). Various names of the Lord were invoked and then the Raksha Bandhan was tied by the wives on the wrists of their husbands and vice-versa. Explaining the significance of Bheema Ratha Shanthi, the head priest said that the aim of the function was to pray to Bhagawan for long life and for world peace. Bhagawan Baba being the ocean of compassion went round the entire Hall and distributed Mangalsutra with gold chain with His Divine Hands. Then the Vice Chancellor and other staff members distributed watches to each couple. Every couple also received an idol of Lakshmi Narayana, one pair of silver anklets and two pairs of silver toe rings. Then came the most auspicious moment of this function! To the accompaniment of Nadaswaram music, the couples were asked to repeat the Mantra chanted before tying the Mangalsutra. Exactly at 10.04 a.m. the Mangalsutra was placed round the neck of the wives by their husbands. Then, Bhagawan walked on the dais sprinkling Akshata on the couples. The couples were asked to exchange garlands and the function concluded with benediction Mantras usually chanted during this occasion. An announcement was made in the Hall that a sumptuous banquet would be served to the couples, their relatives, friends and all devotees present on this occasion in the South Indian canteen. At the end, Arati was offered to Bhagawan at 10.25 a.m., and then Bhagawan retired to His abode.
In the evening, Bhagawan came to the Hall at 3.55 a.m. and took a full round of devotees. As Bhagawan came to the dais, He instructed the persons concerned to arrange the discourse table and microphone. What ensued was an invigorating discourse on the significance of Bheema Ratha Shanthi. He said that the word Bheema normally signified strength and valour. It does not refer to physical strength but to the enormous will power and the wealth of wisdom that elders possess. He also said that in the modern times, the younger generation was neglecting their parents. This is an unhealthy trend. Children should respect them and benefit by their wise counsel. The discourse continued for one full hour at the end of which Bhagawan materialised a gold chain for a student. At 5.15 p.m., there was a Carnatic music recital by the renowned singer Padmashri Smt. Sudha Ragunathan. Before the recital started Swami created a gold chain for her too. She sang famous songs like Sita Kalyanam Vaibhogame …, Kuraiondrum Illai…, Bo Shambo Siva Shambo Swayambo … She ended her soul-stirring and melodious recital with a Sai Bhajan. The programme concluded with Arati to Bhagawan at 6.05 p.m.
We would like to present important information from the life of Smt. Sudha Raghunathan when she was a child of two years. Not many of us would know that the Ashtottram of Bhagawan, Om Sri Sai Jodi Aadipalli Somappaaya Namaha has its roots in this incident. The story goes as follows:
“On the 26th November, 1958, 3 days after Bhagawan’s Birthday festival, a devotee from Bangalore left Prasanthi Nilayam by car, taking leave of Baba. On the way, his 2 year old daughter was attacked by ‘fits’ which became so serious that the child was asphyxiated and it collapsed. Baba knew this and manifested Himself before them as a ‘Villager’ with two others. He wanted the child to be given to Him and the two comrades supported the demand. ‘Give Him: He will cure it. He has cured thousands’, they implored. The Villager (Baba) told them, ‘I was busy for the last 3 days; I just now laid Myself for rest; but I came to know that a child was seriously ill on the road. So, I ran up!’ He placed the child on His lap and it was cured. He gave it back to the happy parents. They offered Him money and when it was refused, they gave Him a fruit from the many that He had Himself given them at Prasanthi Nilayam while they were leaving as Prasadam.
They asked Him His name. He said “Jodi Aadipalli Somappa”. When asked later at the Nilayam, why He chose that name of all others, Baba said, ‘I am Somappa, Soma appa (Siva) Sa-uma – Soma. The place of My residence is Aadipalli (the primeval village, Kailas). It is Jodi (belonging to two) because it belongs to Sa and Uma ‘Siva Sakthi’, - the Twin – Prakriti and Purusha. This is therefore Baba’s most appropriate epithet, selected by Himself, for that profound miracle of grace. It reveals His truth as Siva Sakthi’."