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Then & Now
A day in Ashram


30th January 2005

We begin this update by paying our sincere respects to the great soul Saint Thyagaraja who, having captured the Heart of Sri Ramachandra Himself, has established a permanent seat in the hearts of all those seekers of Truth, on the path of devotion, especially through the channel of music.

Hundreds of musicians converged at Thiruvaiyaru near Thanjavur to pay homage to the saint composer Sri Thyagaraja, by rendering the Pancharatna Kritis at the 158th Aradhana of the saint. The Aradhana is held every year on Pushya Bagula Panchami day when the saint attained Samadhi. In accordance with the tradition, a similar function was held at Prasanthi Nilayam in the Divine Presence. The students and staff of Sathya Sai Mirpuri College of Music enthralled the audience with more than an hour of soul-stirring Carnatic music.

A beautiful portrait of Saint Thyagaraja adorned the dais on the left side of Ganesh idol. (i.e., towards the ladies side) in Sai Kulwant Hall. In the centre, right in front of Ganesh idol, and to the right of the portrait of Saint Thyagaraja, was a beautiful photograph of Sri Rama, placed on a platform and decked with flowers of various hues. A simple cut-out of coconut trees were placed, resting against each pillar on either side of Swami’s sofa, in the centre of the dais. 

At sharp 7.15 a.m., the Omkaram of the Vedam group started with music from the speakers overlapping the chants. This is how it goes on everyday. The Darshan music continues until the golf cart reaches the turning to the interview room. Then the music stops and the Vedam continues. Swami took a full Darshan round, blessing many on the way and taking letters from a number of devotees and students. 

As the cart glided by, Swami looked at one student and smiled, saying, “Everyday …Will you give letter?” Such sweet expressions fill everyone with boundless joy. Adharam Madhuram, Vachanam Madhuram, Madhuradhipate Akhilam Madhuram!! Everything that He does, everything about Him is so Sweet!! 

At 7.25 a.m., Swami got down from the golf cart near the interview room. Then He walked along the dais, with a smile on His face looking fresh like a fully bloomed lotus! 

The Principal of Sathya Sai Mirpuri College of Music, who was sitting along with the students in the first row, got up and went to Swami to offer the rose and pray for the programme. Swami blessed him profusely and spoke to him for a few seconds. The Principal then came and sat down, signalling all the other teachers of the Music college and the boys to get ready. 

The presentation began with a rendering in Telugu about the significance of this occasion. This was followed by a brief talk by the Principal. He gave a short but informative and insightful talk glorifying the doyen of Carnatic Classical Music – Saint Thyagaraja. He said: “Saint Thyagaraja born in the year 1767, left his mortal coil 158 years ago. He was a divine musician with unique qualities that made him a composer par excellence of South Indian music. His steadfast and consuming devotion to his favourite Divine Form, Sri Rama elevated him to a sublime state. Though faced with ordeals throughout his family life, Thyagaraja lost himself in devotion to Rama. His very breath was Rama. The Chakras in his frail body vibrated with the Saptaswaras and his heart beat with rhythm and ecstasy of his musical creations!” 

For Thyagaraja, the very physical form of Sri Rama was the embodiment of all music. He sang a Kirtana in the Arabhi Raga – “Nada Sudharasambilanu Nara Kruthiyaye….”; meaning: The nectar of Nada, which is the basis of all the Vedas, Puranas, Agamas and Sastras, has taken human form in Sri Rama! 

The seven Swaras have become the seven bells of His bow; the Ragas have become the bow itself; the styles in singing – Dura, Naya and Desya have become the three strings of the bow, the steady rhythmic pace has become the arrow and the melodious variations of musical art have verily become His speech!! 

Saint Thyagaraja proclaimed, “Rama, the body that does not float on the ocean of ineffable Bliss of Brahman called Sangeeta Jnana, which abides in all the Vedas, is a burden to this earth. “Ananda Sagara Meedani Dehamu Bhumi Baramu….” Thyagaraja was a Nadayogi, Atmajnani and a ‘Vairagya Mahapurusha’. His songs are the essence of the Upanishads, the Gita, the Ramayana and the Bhagavatam. Therefore, they are called Thyagopanishad.

 Rama was to Thyagaraja a child, a hero, most dearest and nearest, a master, a friend and Parabrahman Himself! Rama, moved by the deep anguish of His devotee, appeared before Thyagaraja and assured him of Moksha (liberation). Thyagaraja himself sings about this vision in the Raga Sahana – “Giripai Nelakonna Ramuni Guri Thappaka Ganti…”, meaning “Unerringly, I have seen Rama who is installed on the hill. My body was thrilled, tears of joy rolled down my cheeks and I merely mumbled, unable to give expression to my thoughts!” Lord Rama did grant him Moksha as promised on this Bahula Panchami day, 158 years ago. 

The Principal concluded his talk by saying that these young musicians (students of Sathya Sai Mirpuri College of Music) were most privileged to sing the compositions of the great composer in the very Divine Presence of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. “Dorakuna Ituvanti Seva….”. He prayed to Bhagawan to bless these young artistes with a glorious musical career. 

At 7.35 a.m., the first song commenced, making an offering to Lord Ganesh. Subsequently, Kirtana after Kirtana surcharged the atmosphere with spiritual vibrations. They sung in all 15 Kirtanas of Saint Thyagaraja. They were: 

                Sri Ganapati Nee Sevimpa Raray – Rag Saurashtra

                Melukovaiyaa Mammeluko Rama – Rag Bhouli

                Sadinchane O Manasa – Samayaniki Tagu Mataladane – Rag Arabhi

                Orajupuchu Chedi Nyayama – Rag Kannada Gowla

                Narayan Hari Narayan Hari Narayan Hari – Rag Yamuna Kalyani

                Yendaro Mahanubhavulu Andareeki Vandanamulu – Rag Sriragam

                Maru Balka Kunna Vemira – Rag Sriranjani

                Nitya Sopane – Rag Pantuvarali

The next song was the Thyagaraja Kirtana often sung by Swami: Rama Kodanda Rama Rama Pattabhi Rama Kalyana Rama Raghava …sung in Rag Bhairavi. They sang in the classical style and towards the end, the entire audience clapped with gusto along with the Mrudangam and the cymbals.

Bhagawan was keeping beat with His hands. One Hand on His lap and the other on the armrest of the sofa, with fingers tapping in sync with the lilting beats of the Kirtanas! A soft smile on His face – Mandasmita Mukha – as they describe Him!  

It was 8.35 a.m. More than an hour since the music presentation began. Bhagawan got up and moved towards the interview room. He asked the group to continue their performance. The boys continued singing some more Kirtanas like: 

                     Ksheerasagara Aparimita – Rag Ananda Bhairavi

                     Nee Daya Raada – Rag Vasantha Bhairav I                                                                             

                     Sarasa Sama Dana Vedanta Chatura – Rag Kapi Narayani

                     Brova Ba Rama Raghu Rama

                     Taleyaledu Rama Bhakti Margamu

 Finally, at 8.55 a.m. they concluded the music presentation, as is the custom, with the Mangalam – Jaya Mangalam Nitya  Shubha Mangalam.

 At 9.00 a.m., Bhajans commenced. The Bhajan singers assembled outside and sat next to the Music College singers, to continue with the Bhajans. Swami came out of the interview room and walked again onto the dais. The Principal and the teachers of the Music College went forward to seek the blessings of Bhagawan. Swami blessed all of them. He was very happy and showered lot of love and joy on all of them. Next, the student singers and participants too went forward with roses in their hands. They also received Bhagawan’s love in abundance! 

Swami came walking further and crossed all the way to the other side of the dais. The golf cart was stationed near the rear end of the main portico. As He approached the golf cart, the Principal of the Music College went closer with the Arati. After Arati, Bhagawan retired to the Poornachandra Auditorium. 

In the evening, Swami came out for Darshan at 3.00 p.m. He got down near the front steps of the dais and climbed onto the marble slab. He sat on the sofa for a few minutes and at 3.15 p.m., He got up and went walking towards the interview room. Bhagawan came out at 4.10 p.m. and asked for the Bhajans to be started in the Bhajan hall. It was a long Bhajan session which continued till 4.50 p.m. at  the end of which Swami was offered Arati, and then He retired to His Abode.