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Then & Now
A day in Ashram


In this issue of Prasanthi News, we bring to you the happenings at Prasanthi Nilayam from 21st to 23rd June 2005. The programmes during this period ranged from a pulsating tribal dance performance by the devotees from Chhatisgarh to a nectareous Divine Discourse by Bhagawan on 23rd June 2005. Please read on for details.

21st June 2005

This morning, Bhagawan came out for Darshan at 8.30 a.m. and sat through the Bhajans till 9.30 a.m. when Ararti was offered to Him.

In the evening, Swami came out at 3.20 p.m. There was a huge backdrop at the rear end of Sai Kulwant Hall made by devotees from Chhatisgarh. Devotees from the Durg District of Chhatisgarh were waiting for Bhagawan’s instructions to start their cultural programme. Swami came and sat on the stage and then Bhagawan signalled for the Veda chanting to be stopped. Two members from the coordinating group came forward to Bhagawan. One offered a rose while the other unfolded a scroll containing the programme for the evening. Swami very keenly went through the contents of the scroll and then lovingly made a few queries about the programme.

The programme was a tribal dance performed by a tribe called the Satnami residing in the heart of Chhatisgarh. The dance master Devdas Banjare from the village Dhanora, around 13 kms from Bhilai, is an internationally reputed artiste who has won the President’s Award and has visited more than 64 countries. Being a devotee of Bhagawan, his intense desire was to perform in the Divine Presence. The dance was a rigorous, vibrant dance with loud drum beats and cymbals being played by the dancers themselves. All the postures of the dance represented forms of worship of the saint – Sant Ghasi Das. This dance form is known as Panthi Nritya.

The dance went on non-stop for around 20 minutes and included a number of formations, pyramids, etc. At 3.50 p.m. the dancers moved out of the performing area amidst loud applause. Subsequently, Swami spoke to the event coordinator Mr. Srinivas for a long time. He showed Swami an album containing photographs of the different types of Seva that they were performing in the villages in Chhatisgarh. It included Narayana Seva, medical camps, donating sewing machines, performing mass marriages, etc. Swami was very pleased with all the service activities and He kept on enquiring with Mr. Srinivas about the details.

In fact, 186 people from all these villages had come for this programme from Chhatisgarh. These people had performed a number of spiritual activities before coming and one could see Swami literally responding to their prayers.

The interaction with Mr. Srinivas went on till 4.10 p.m. Then Bhajans were sung by the devotees from Chhatisgarh. At 4.30 p.m., Ararti was performed to Bhagawan. Swami went into the interview room and later retired to His abode.

22nd June 2005

On this day, devotees had a long Darshan session. The compassionate Lord was gracious to grant Darshan for almost 2 hours. Devotees could feast their eyes continuously on the Lord. Swami came out for Darshan at 7.45 a.m. He sat in the centre of the stage and the Veda chanting went on. At around 8 a.m., He asked for the Veda chanting to stop, and told them to go their respective work spots. Swami sat there looking lovingly at the devotees and showering His benign grace on them till Bhajans ended at 9.35 a.m. Then He came into the Bhajan Hall where Ararti was offered to Him and went into the interview room.

In the evening, Swami came out for Darshan at 3.30. Swami sat down at the centre of the dais, received letters from students, spoke to a few of them and even took some students for an interview. He also blessed the boys who had their birthday on this day. At 4.30 p.m., Swami called one of the Veda coordinators and asked him to chant the Purusha Suktam. Bhajans started at 5.00 p.m. and at 5.25 p.m. Arati was offered to Swami.

23rd June 2005

At 4.00 p.m. one could see Bhagawan’s car meandering its way through devotees to the Hall. He took a full round, got down near the interview room, and proceeded towards the centre of the dais. Bhagawan asked the Veda chanting group to stop at 4.05 p.m. Then Bhagawan asked Prof. Anil Gokak, the current Vice Chancellor of the Institute to share his thoughts with the audience.

Prof. Gokak started his talk on a nostalgic note by recalling the early part of his father’s life, Prof. Vinayak Krishna Gokak. How his father had developed the first streaks of faith in Bhagawan when in Edinburgh, the Oxford University had given him exemption from the oral test keeping in view his ill health and on account of his excellent performance in the written test. He went down memory lane and stated that Bhagawan had extended his mother’s life by 18 years and his father’s life by 5 years. It was in 1965 that Swami had first visited their house.

It was only in 1969, when Prof. Anil Gokak went along with his wife to Swami and Bhagawan materialised a necklace and an apple for his wife, that he started developing faith in Bhagawan. Initially he was focused on Swami’s miracles but later being an administrator himself, he started taking interest in Swami’s social activities.

Prof. Gokak said that he was very much moved by the book ‘A Catholic Priest Meets Sai Baba’. In 2002 Prof. Gokak delivered a talk in the Summer Course in Indian Culture and Spirituality. By now he was convinced that Bhagawan alone is the saviour of this world. He said that Swami always laid less emphasis on mere rituals and directed all to go towards the core. He stated that Bhagawan was not a Vyaktinath but a Lokanath (not for individuals but for the whole world).

He concluded his talk by drawing an analogy between an Avatar and a pilot who temporarily brings down the plane to the ground to take a few passengers and then fly back to the skies!

It was 4.30 p.m. and Swami now asked Sri S.V. Giri, the former Vice Chancellor to address the audience. Sri S.V. Giri also struck a personal note by talking about the heart surgery he had for the first time in 1989. Within 3 years, 4 of the 5 bypasses had been blocked. On praying to Swami, Bhagawan had said there was no need for any further surgery. Though the doctors said that there was no way out other than a surgery, Sri S.V. Giri has been continuing since then, discharging all his responsibilities – purely on account of Bhagawan’s Grace! He expressed his immense gratitude to swami for this benediction.

He then shared how Swami had facilitated his smooth exit from the post of the CVC (central Vigilance Commissioner) – Government of India. Swami had made sure that his resignation was accepted without any complications. Sri Giri stressed on the uniqueness and the three most important facets of this Institute – Service, Society and Faith.

He concluded his talk by stressing on the Truth elucidated by our scriptures that all is one. Man and even the fruit-fly are equally Divine, but man has evolved to greater heights. He has been given a bigger brain so that he can think of practical solutions for the burning problems facing society today. He has been bestowed with the rare gift of speech (unique only to the species of human beings) so as to express himself and speak obligingly!

It was 4.50 p.m. and suddenly to everyone’s delight Swami began His Divine Discourse. Bhagawan spoke until 5.45 p.m. elaborating on the life of Prof. Vinayak Krishna Gokak – the father of the current Vice Chancellor and the first Vice Chancellor of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. The highlights of Bhagawan’s Discourse are as follows.

Vyashti represents the individual and Samashti stands for society. Only when Vyashti identifies himself with Samashti can he realise Parameshti. Samatwam (equality) is very essential to achieve harmony between Vyashti and Samashti. What is the role of an individual in society? No one is able to totally understand the spirit of society. As one enquires deeply, it becomes apparent that Samashti is but a manifestation of Parameshti.

We find it very difficult to understand this transcendental picture. This was the position of Prof. Vinayak Gokak in the beginning. (So saying Swami went on to describe the life of Prof. Vinayak Gokak in very elaborate terms giving details of his spiritual journey to Swami).

Prof. Gokak read a number of books but could not understand the principle of Sathyam and Nithyam. He was trying to differentiate between Atma and Anatma. However, there is nothing like Anatma. There is only Atma. Later, Prof. Gokak realised the Truth in depth. I gave him a lot of support then. A true devotee will be highly benefited by the support extended to him. Divine help is not temporary or momentary, but is continuous and everlasting.

Once when Prof. Gokak closed his eyes and sat in meditation, I pressed his Bhrumadhya (point where two eyebrows meet) with My right thumb. He experienced a state of supreme bliss. All his doubts vanished like thin mist. From then on he held on to the Eternal Truth. It is not easy for everybody to understand this Divine Principle. Those who depend on Truth remain changeless. The rest keep changing. One must necessarily face the consequences of whatever one does. It is only in the doubtless state that we can understand the principle of oneness. Mere superficial enquiry will land one in confusion. Truth represents doubtlessness. Such Truth is the royal path to Mukti (liberation).

Moksha means Moha + Kshaya. So long as there is Moha one cannot attain Moksha. Maya is the root cause of Moha. Keep Maya (delusion) away and allow the Truth to come forth. Truth cannot be seen or heard. It can only be experienced.

When individual reaches out to society, the society also reaches out to the individual. Prof. Gokak made an in depth study of Aurobindo’s treatise on Savitri. However, only after he came to Swami could he understand the principle of Savitri as Sathya and Nithya. The question may arise, “Is Savitri feminine or masculine?” Savitri is beyond gender. Gokak became a scholar on Savitri. He investigated his innermost thoughts and realised the Truth. Finally he said, “Swami, I am One! God is One! I do not need anything.” As we proceed along the path of Sadhana, we will acquire certain spiritual powers. But do not allow the mind to waver. Hold on to the fundamental principle. Truth is One, not two!

Bhagawan concluded His Message at 5.45 p.m. Bhajans began, and at 5.55 p.m. Ararti was offered to Bhagawan after which Swami retired to His abode.