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Then & Now
A day in Ashram


16th March 2005 (Evening)

It was 3. 40 p.m. when Swami entered Sai Kulwant Hall in a car. He took a turn on the Ladies side and proceeded straight towards the interview room. Bhagawan got down from the car and walked towards the dais. The Vice Chancellor, Sri Anil Gokak received Swami on the stage. Swami sat down on the sofa and by 3.45 p.m. the Veda chanting stopped.

A podium was already arranged for the speaker. The boys who had won marvels in the GATE examination sat in the front. The Vice Chancellor, Sri Anil Gokak offered a rose to Bhagawan and moved forward towards the podium.

He began his talk saying that yet another milestone had been crossed in the history of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. He shared the joy he experienced the previous afternoon when he received this good news. Above all, he was wonderstruck to witness the delight expressed by Bhagawan!

Sri Anil Gokak gave some factual details of the GATE examination. It is called ‘Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering’, an all India test, held in 8 zones across India and conducted by 7 Institutes of Technology and IISc., on behalf of the Department of Education, Ministry of Human Resources and Development. This year, the exam was conducted by IIT Mumbai and over 1,00,000 students appeared for the exam all over India. It is a matter of great joy that 20 out of 48 students who appeared for the exam from our Institute passed with high ranks. 8 of these 20, securing above 98 percentile!

Sri Gokak said that whereas students elsewhere have total access to Internet for accessing information, our students have in addition to this, access to Swami, who provides the means for transformation. Elsewhere in the world one perceives the revolution in Science and Technology while students here are witness to yet another revolution – that of a spiritual nature. Our students are on the threshold of this great revolution.

The Vice Chancellor then called upon each student, one by one, asking them to come over to the dais, seek Swami’s blessings and receive the honour. Sri Naresh Kumar (M.Sc. Physics) came first. As soon as he reached Swami and bowed down, Bhagawan’s Hand waved in circles and there came a gold bracelet that was to adorn Naresh’s wrist! Swami personally tied it around his wrist. All the while, there was a thunderous applause from the audience. This went on for quite some time as the bracelet was being fastened!!

Just behind Swami, there were a set of boys standing with silver trays filled with shining watches and royal shawls. Each student received a watch from Bhagawan and Swami with His own Hands opened each shawl and spread it around the shoulder of each and every student. All 20 of them received the blessings. It was a sight to see. As each student approached Swami, he would receive a loving smile from Bhagawan. He would offer the rose to Swami, take Padanamaskar, receive the watch, get the blessings of the shawl and then a photograph with Bhagawan!!

The Vice Chancellor then invited Sri Naresh to share his thoughts with the audience. Sri Naresh, first of all offered his gratitude to Bhagawan saying that all this was possible not due to his talents, but purely because of Swami’s Grace! He spoke admirably, recalling the great lessons he had learnt throughout his stay here.

He recalled with fond memory, the contribution of his classmates, his teachers and many others at various phases of his life that finally led to this glorious moment! He spoke highly about the rich infrastructure available at the Institute, giving specific examples of the expensive, not so easily available, instruments in the Institute Labs. He appreciated the team spirit, sense of fraternity and the focus on the individual more than anything else that formed the hallmark of this Institute.

He also made an attempt to clarify the common doubt that many people have as to how students can study seriously if they were to participate in several activities like Grama Seva, Sports Meet etc. He said that, in fact, these activities resulted in increased productivity even on the academic front!

Sri Naresh was followed by Sri D.V. Hemant, a student from the II M.Sc. (Physics) class who began his talk saying that this is the best of times as we have God in our midst. He spoke of the troubled times that the world is generally going through today. Since 60 years and more, Swami has been relentlessly speaking about the same truths and passing on the same message. Why?

Sri Hemant gave the example of the Parachuters who say ‘Jump’ and then count 10 to 1 and finally open the chute. They practice this drill again and again day after day for two months. The purpose is that when they are finally dropped from a helicopter, miles above the mighty ocean, they must inadvertently perform the same drill with all accuracy.

So too, Bhagawan gives us strong doses of these spiritual messages, so that when we go through the ups and downs of our lives, we too spontaneously do our own counting – counting on His Grace! It was 4.30 p.m. It was now the turn of the former Vice Chancellor of the Institute, Sri S.V. Giri to share his thoughts.

Sri S.V. Giri commenced his talk with the three qualities that all students must possess. Sraddha (steadfastness), Bhakti (devotion) and Vinayam (humility). He explained how the various extra curricular activities that the students go through at the Institute, enable to develop their power of concentration, which in turn helps them to perform better in academics too. An hour of concentrated effort is better than 20 hours of wavering attempt.

He praised the students and drew reference to a student J. Sai Kiran who passed out from our Institute with a M.Sc. (Chemistry), a few years back. He too had secured an All India Rank and was second in the country. He could have secured a seat in any prestigious Institution. However, he chose to stay back with Swami and serve Him in the Super Specialty Hospital at Bangalore. This is the noble feelings that our students have.

He also explained the difficulty involved in passing the GATE exam and the cut throat competition that exists, by giving the example of brother Naresh who secured the first rank with 99.97 percentile. The next ranker secured 99.03. Between these two boys, there were 25 others – in that small margin. That is the rigour!

After Sri Giri’s talk, the Vice Chancellor prayed to Swami to bless everyone with His Divine Discourse. However, Swami asked him to speak once again. Obeying Swami’s command, Sri Gokak spoke for some time advising the students to develop a sense of humour, which in the philosophical sense means an attitude of live and let live and also to develop the quality of wit which is the ability to respond spontaneously. Our students, he said, must have the resilience to handle change, face change and live up to it.

It was 4.45 p.m. Again the Vice Chancellor prayed to Bhagawan and Swami conceded. The table was arranged and Swami began His Discourse. (Full text of Divine Discourse is already given in our earlier update.)

At the end of the Discourse, Bhagavan instructed the students to distribute Prasadam. Group songs started in the background. At 5.50 p.m. Bhagawan got up and retired for the day. This day shall remain etched in the history of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning as a day when the acme of intellectual excellence manifested in the students and was offered with gratitude to Goddess Sai Saraswati – the source of all knowledge!!

17th March 2005

This morning, Swami came out for Darshan and took a full round of Sai Kulwant Hall. In the evening, Swami called some of the boys who had secured high ranks in the GATE examinations for an interview.

Swami spoke to each one of the boys whom He had called for the interview. They got an opportunity to have a personal audience with Bhagawan! Swami materialised an emerald ring for Sri Naresh, the All India Topper. The most touching part of the interview was when the compassionate Lord told the boys that though He had honoured them the previous day, He was not satisfied with it. He wanted to shower more Love on them!! The boys prayed that they were most grateful for the downpour of Love and Grace showered by Bhagawan.

19th March 2005

Bhagawan came out for Darshan at 3.15 p.m. Soon, some school boys moved forward and showed Bhagawan a beautiful card! Swami blessed the card.

He came out at 4.00 p.m. and sat down on the sofa placed at the centre of the dais. Soon the Veda chanting stopped. Prof. Anil Kumar made an announcement that the XI class School students would be presenting a Burra Katha (traditional folk art of narrating stories through songs and dances). The theme of the Burra Katha was the story of Bhadrachala Ramadas (a great devotee of Lord Rama).

Three students dressed in the traditional Burra Katha style, with dhotis, turbans, and moustache, and accompanied by musical instruments came to the fore. They sought Bhagawan’s blessings and started their presentation. After a while, as is the tradition, three boys came with Marigold garlands to garland the singers.

They entered from the interview room side and came in front of Swami. When Swami saw them, He asked them to wait for it was too early to garland the singers. They were just singing the opening verses. The all knowing Lord, is aware of all the intricacies of folk art. After a few minutes, Swami signalled to them to garland the singers. The three boys sang with all their hearts, sharing the glory of the great Bhadrachala Ramadasa. The presentation concluded at 4.30 p.m.

After a while, Bhagawan called the main singer of the Burra Katha and materialised a gold chain for him. The boy bent down reverentially and Swami very lovingly placed the chain around his neck!

This was followed by group songs. As the lilting tunes of the songs filled the hot air in the Hall, the Burra Katha boys and their accompanying music team were blessed with the opportunity of group photographs with Bhagawan! More than a dozen birthday boys were waiting expectantly for Swami to look towards them. The moment Swami turned to them and nodded, all of them made a beeline to seek blessings from Bhagawan. Each one was blessed and most of them had some word from Swami! Bhajans began at 4.55 p.m. and Swami was offered Arati at 5.25 p.m. and then He retired to His abode.

20th March 2005

Swami came out for Darshan at 3.00 p.m. This evening there was a Kavi Sammelan (Poets’ Meet) in Sai Kulwant Hall. The readers may vividly remember that a grand Kavi Sammelan of poets from Potti Sriramalu University was held on 14th December 2004. This time, poems in different languages were rendered by the students of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning and Sathya Sai Mirpuri College of Music. These students were from different parts of India and even as far as Lithuania.

Swami came and sat down on the sofa. Few minutes later, some boys went towards the Poornachandra Hall to fetch some items. After a while, they returned with 20 white plastic chairs. Swami wanted the poets to sit on the chairs. Even the smallest task must be performed with utmost perfection and attention to the minutest details!!

Swami personally supervised the arrangement of the chairs in a semicircular fashion! At 4.00 p.m., Swami signalled for the Veda chanting to be stopped. Prof. Anil Kumar made an announcement that some students of the Institute, who were poets in the making, would share their poetic thoughts in the Divine Presence. He read out the names of each of the student-poets and the language of their expression. As their names were called out, the student-poets came and took their seats.

In all there were 18 poets and two students ably compered the programme. Poems were recited in twelve different languages – Telugu, English, Hindi, Oriya, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Tulu, Marathi, Nepalese, Assamese and Lithuanian. The style and diction of the poems were laudable and captured the hearts of the audience who erupted in loud applause time and again.

The Kavi Sammelan went on for 45 minutes. At 4.45 p.m., the music group started singing group songs. They began with O Sai Maa… Bhagavan distributed special pens to all the poets. Surprisingly, even after all the poets received the pen from Bhagawan’s Hands, Swami kept on giving the pens even to other boys. For the next 45 minutes and more, Swami kept giving these pens personally to each and every student of both the Institute and the School.

Arati was offered to Bhagavan at 5.25 p.m. and then He retired for the day to His abode.

25th March 2005 (Morning)

Bhagawan came out for Darshan at 7.50 a.m. Being Good Friday, all the students and staff of the Institute had assembled in Sai Kulwant Hall for Darshan. The golf cart came along the usual path and everyone had a wonderful Darshan of Bhagawan. Swami enquired from the boys about the programme for the morning. The XII class boys came forward and told Swami about their programme. They also presented a huge programme card to Swami.

At 8.15 a.m. Swami signalled for the Veda chanting to be stopped. The XII class boys, with their costumes came out of the Bhajan Hall and took their seats in front of the dais. Then Swami sat down on the sofa. The XII class boys made a presentation titled ‘Sai Message’. The first module was an interactive Question & Answer session – but non-verbal. It was in the form Dumb Charades! A student would come forward and enact the chosen message of Bhagawan. Immediately a number of hands would go up and one of them would give the answer. Messages like “Hands that serve are holier than lips that pray”, “Bird with Me and the wings with you…” etc. were depicted in this module.

The next part was identifying personalities through non-verbal depiction. Great personalities like Sabari, Jatayu, Kuchela and Sravan Kumar were enacted through scenes from their life and boys very correctly identified each one of them. This was followed by a song on the Love of Mother Sai.

The next round was a set of questions on major incidents in the life of Swami. For example, the significance of the date 23rd Nov, 1990 (Answer – Declaration of construction of Super Specialty Hospital), devotees who were resurrected by Bhagawan (Answer – Karanam Subbamma, Kuppam Radhakrishna, Sir Walter Cowan …), significance of the loss of the collar pin given to Swami in Bellary and so on ...

The song, Teri Hai Zameen Tera Aasmaan followed. In the next module, the boys spoke about the significance of Bhava, Raga and Tala in singing Bhajans. But apart from that Swami has also pointed out three most important aspects that must be followed while singing Bhajans. One is a feeling of faith, second – one-pointed concentration and third – understanding of the meaning of the Bhajans. In line with this, the comperers would give the English translation of a Bhajan and the students were expected to identify and sing the Bhajan.

The final module was a set of skits depicting profound messages delivered by Bhagawan. One of them was the role of rules, regulations and discipline in life. This was depicted using the analogy of a cricket game. Team of players came forward and started playing cricket in front of the dais. In the first scene, the game goes on very well and all are thrilled. In the next scene they show the same game being played without respect for any rules. The batsman does whatever he wants, the umpire is busy attending to his cell phone and a peanut seller comes selling peanuts right up to the pitch during the game. There was utter chaos!

Through this example, the boys very tactfully depicted how rules and discipline are vital even for an ordinary game like cricket. Then what about the game of life? Unless there is discipline and respect for laws of creation, life has no purpose at all.

The final skit was that of Munshi Premchand and his two sons. The elder son falls at his father’s feet before departing and seeks his blessings, while the younger son just bids goodbye. Premchand did not mind the younger son failing to show respect for him but was worried about the future of this son with such an attitude in life. As their life unfolds, the elder son who saluted his father became a judge in the court and received salutes from everybody while the younger son who refused to salute his father became a peon in the same court and had to salute everybody throughout his life!! Yad Bhavam Tad Bhavati! (As you think, so you become)

The final song was ‘Tere Sang Hum Rahne Ki Aaj Khushi Manate Hein ...’ It was by then 9.00 a.m. Swami was very happy with their performance. A photograph session followed, wherein all the XII class boys were blessed with group photographs with Bhagawan. Finally, the comperers came forward and prayed to Swami for a photograph with the teachers. Swami was very happy and nodded, giving His consent. The School Principal, the Hostel Warden and all the teachers soon assembled around Bhagawan and had a good group photograph. The Hall broke into applause!

Chocobars were distributed to the XII class boys. Many of them were leaving for their vacations as their exams had just concluded. Swami blessed all of them and asked them to come back safe and sound – with a pure mind. He enquired whether all had received the Prasadam. At 9.20 a.m. Bhagawan was offered Arati. He stood for a while watching all His children. The Love of the Divine Mother would not allow Swami to move away! He stood there for some time and then slowly moved towards the golf cart.

25th March 2005 (Evening)

In the evening, Swami came out for Darshan at 3.25 p.m. As the golf cart approached the dais, Bhagawan got down and ascended the dais. The chair was placed behind the sofa close to the Ganesha idol. Three chairs were placed on the dais. A senior devotee was asked by Bhagawan to sit. Next, Swami called the Vice-Chancellor and made him sit next to the devotee. After a while, Sri T.N. Seshan, former Chief Election Commissioner, Government of India, occupied the third chair next to the Vice Chancellor. Bhagawan sat down on the sofa and invited the former Vice Chancellor, Sri S.V. Giri to sit next to Him. The stage was set for the evening programme! Then, Swami called the students seated in front and enquired about the programme.

At 3.30 p.m., Veda chanting stopped and the presentation began. A student dressed as a Christian stood up and offered his prayers to Jesus. Joseph as he was called, had two sons Jeffrey and Marius, who are truly two Christian students – one from USA and the other from Lithuania (Europe). The first module was a discussion between Joseph and his friend Aravind – a Hindu. They discuss the significance of Good Friday. This was the day when Jesus was nailed to the Cross. But is it a solemn occasion? Depends on how we perceive it. In fact, Jesus taught three most important lessons to humanity on this day.

1) The infinite Love that God has for man
2) Death is the dress of life
3) Body is the temple of God

Joseph recalls the story of how Jesus, when he sees sheep being sold and money lenders exchanging money in the temple premises, feels pained and threatens them asking them how they could pollute the Abode of His Father. To this, the people over there question his authority and ask him to prove his deservedness to make such a statement by showing a miracle. Jesus replies – Break down this temple and I shall build it in three days again. Normally, we wonder why Jesus made this statement and never did any such thing in reality. However, every word of his had an inner meaning. On Good Friday, Jesus was nailed to the cross and three days later, He resurrects himself! Therefore, the temple he was referring to was not the one built with bricks and mortar but the human body. In fact, the very same Christ Consciousness is with us today! The song – Jesus is alive today – He is Sathya Sai today – reverberated in the Hall to everyone’s delight!

Swami also says, “Deho Devalayo Prokto Jeevah Devo Sanathana”. Body is indeed the temple of the Lord and the indweller is God Himself! All religions preach the same message. At this point, Joseph calls Jeffery and Marius who chant the Purusha Suktam conveying the above message. A loud applause from the audience fills the air. Lord Jesus taught the lesson of sacrifice. He condemned the philosophy of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Instead, he advocated the noble idea of a smile in return for a frown and love for hatred. Even as he was being tortured on the cross he called out to the Lord – Oh God – forgive them for they know not what they do!!

Conveying the essence of sacrifice as the undercurrent of an ideal life, the boys sang the song, ‘Madhuban Khushbu Deta Hai…’ The next module was on Holi. Presented by another pair of students, they took us through the story of Holika, the sister of Hiranyakasipu. In one of his attempts to put an end to the life of Prahlada, the father asks Holika to help him. Holika had the boon of being untouched by fire. Therefore, she takes young Prahlada in her arms and sits on a burning pyre. By Divine Grace, Prahlada remains totally safe and Holika gets reduced to ashes. Marking this occasion and paying tribute to the faith of Prahlada, Holi is celebrated all over the country.

The comperers explained how Swami talks of the nine types of devotion as the nine colours of devotion. They went on to elaborate each type starting with Sravanam, Keertanam and so on until Atma Nivedanam, giving examples of saints and sages who actually practiced each of these. They stressed on the fact that faith was the undercurrent of each of these nine types of devotion. Quoting Swami, they said, “Nammaku Cheddinavaru Unnaru Kani…” There may be people who have brought ruin to themselves without having faith, but there is nobody who having faith is ever brought to ruin!!

A song followed – Kya Khush Naseeba Wo Sai Ko Pa Le… The next module was a presentation in Telugu. The best Telugu speaking students participated in this dialogue based skit. The scene is the heavens where an award for the best parent of the age is being decided. Several eminent personalities participate in this competition. We have Dasaratha (father of Rama), Nanda (father of Krishna), Dronacharya (Guru of the Pandavas and the Kauravas), Indra the king of gods. All of them present their case and try to outwit the other. Narada, played by the dancer Sri Ganesh, acted as the moderator for the entire discussion. Some time later, Yama comes in and makes the announcement that this award has already been given to somebody on planet earth.

All are furious! Narada tries to console them but to no avail. How could some insignificant person on earth get this award when so many noble heavenly personalities are present here? Finally, Lord Vishnu himself comes and reveals the secret to them. He says that the infinite Lord Himself has come onto the earth and taken a form. This Form, indeed, is the Divine Parent of every child in this universe. He is the best Father, the best Mother, the best friend and the Best Guru one could ever have! The scene concludes with all these eminent members offering the award – a huge card made by them to Swami. Swami smiled and blessed them. This module was very good, with its rich Telugu poetry and colourful costumes! The presentation concluded with the song – Dil Yehi Kehta Hai Maa Sang Rahe Har Dam Yahaan…

Swami smiled and blessed all the participants. The X class students were also waiting to sing some group songs. Swami permitted them to offer their songs too. As they sang songs, Swami called an elderly devotee from Netherlands, who helps in training our Institute band students. In fact, he shared his views about Good Friday and Swami’s teachings in the first module of the presentation. Bhagawan called him and spoke to him for quite some time. Swami materialised a three diamond ring and put it on his finger. It was 4.50 p.m. and Swami said that all boys were tired after their performance. He asked for the Bhajans to start.

As the Bhajans went on, all the boys were blessed with group photographs. All of them got wonderful photographs. Swami stood up and posed for them. At 5.05 p.m., Swami was offered Arati and then He retired for the day. Both in the morning and evening, He had filled the hearts of the students and devotees alike with so much joy and love. So many students got an opportunity to express their talent and love for Swami. So many got photographs that would be their lifetime memory!