Srimad Ramayana Sudha Pravachana Sapthaham and Sri RamachandraSwamy Pattabhisheka Mahotsavam
Sweeter than sugar, tastier than curd, sweeter indeed than honey is the Name of Rama. Constant repetition of this sweet Name gives one the taste of divine nectar itself. Therefore, contemplate on the Name of Rama incessantly… said Bhagawan counselling to devotees on the occasion of Sri Rama Navami in the year 2004. …And similar tones have echoed Prasanthi Nilayam over the years wherein Sai Rama lavished at the righteous life of Lord Rama projecting Him as the ideal role model for the generations to come. Ages have passed; still the sweet nectar of His Name enthrals millions of hearts, even after millenniums. This fervour and devotion to Lord Rama and His ideals stands as a testimony to the Divine Power and Potency of the Name Rama. Prasanthi witnessed yet another unique function, Srimadh Ramayana Sudha Pravachana Saptaaham and Sri Ramachandra Swami Pattabhisheka Mahotsavam.
Procession, Kalasthapana, Shodhashopachara Puja and Balakanda Pravachana
June 22, 2008
The grand function got underway with a regal palanquin procession carrying an aesthetically decorated Lord Rama idol along with that of Mother Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman. The procession that started from Yajur Mandiram was typical as, as if to simulate the royal grandeur of an elephant carrying the Lord in procession, the priests reproduced the "GajaNade", the traditional elephant walk and towards the end of the procession “HamsaNade”, another traditional walk bringing the Lord’s Idol alongwith that of Mother Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman to podium, the stage for the grand occasion. This was followed by Bhagawan’s grand entry into the packed Sai Kulwant Hall; Bhagawan who came for a full round, blessing the capacity audience, formally opened the week long affair, symbolically lighting the lamp on the aesthetically decorated stage, that had idols of Lord Rama, Mother Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman brought in the procession adorning the centre stage.
Introducing the concept of Saptaaham, Vidwan Nidumamidi Srikanata Rao from Bangalore spoke on the significance of the occasion before concluding with the first canto in the epic, Balakanda, narrating the events and significance in abridged detail.
Ashtothram Chanting &Ramayana Pravachana
June 23-27, 2008
From the third day onwards, holy chanting of Vishnu Sahasra Namam, Sri Rama Sahasra Namam, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Sahasra Namam and Lalitha Sahasra Namam were conducted, respectively on the third, fourth, fifth and sixth day that was largely participated by number of devotees offering holy akshata grains (uncooked rice, often mixed with turmeric, offered as a sacred substance during rituals) for each nama (name) in the respective sahasranamavali (1008 names of the Lord).
The evening sessions witnessed the cantos in the order being elucidated with narrative beauty in the Divine Presence of Bhagawan by expert guest speakers. The guest speakers were Sri Malla Pragada Srinivasa Narayana Murthy from Guntur on the second day on Ayodhyakanda, Dr. Ranganath from Bangalore on Aranyakanda on the third day, Dr. Thangirala Venkata Subbarao from Bangalore on Kishkindakanda on the fourth day, Dr. Mylavaram Srinivasa Rao from Guntur on Sundarakanda on the fifth day, Sahasravadhani Dr. Gariki Pati Narasimha Rao from Kakinada on Yuddhakanda on the sixth day to conclude with the grand finale on the seventh and final day with Sri Ramachandra Pattaabhishekam in the immediate physical presence of Bhagawan.
Maha Sankalpam, Panchamrutha Abhishekam, Theerthabhishekam from Holy Rivers, Procession of Pattabirama with Mangala Vadyam, Mangala Dravyam and Veda Parayanam, Sadashopachara Pooja, Pattabisheka Mahotsavam, Rajashirvadam & Sangeetha Seva
Morning, June 28, 2008
The legacy of Lord Rama would be the oldest and the most precious that human could cherish to possess and imbibe in their onward journey towards his final goal. And the week long affair in Prasanthi Nilayam in the Divine Presence of Lord in physical was yet another stamp emphasising this greatest legacy of the Lord of Tretha who has been ruling millions of hearts over minds for several millennia. …And the day seven of this week long saptaaham witnessed a rarest gem of spiritual occurrence, the Lord of Treata being crowned as the King of Ayodhya and the Supreme Master of the three worlds in the very physical presence of the Lord of the present age. As the stage for the final ceremony was set, a packed gathering in Sai Kulwant Hall was awaiting Bhagawan to emerge out. He made His grand entry in to the Sai Kulwant Hall out in open for a complete round to come onstage…and it was time for the proceedings to formally begin.
The scene on the stage was different on this final day with three beautiful idols of Lord Rama, Mother Sita and Lakshmana with a huge Hanuman idol at the base occupying the centre stage. The proceedings began with Panchamrutha abhishekam; the idols were bathed in milk, tender coconut water, sandal paste, ghee, curd, vermillion water, turmeric water, honey, sugar and milk. Each item was brought to Bhagawan for blessings before they were poured over the idols and each 'ceremonial bath' was followed by a water bath through specially made silver ladles. Next to come was Theerthabhishekam where in water from some of the holy rivers of India, namely, Chitravati, Kaveri, Rameshwaram, Krishna, Godavari, Narmada, Triveni, Manasarovar, Brahmaputra, Ganges being some, were poured over in ritualistic style bathing the idols.
It was time to draw the curtains for the formal dressing up of the idols before the much awaited coronation and simultaneously the PattabhiRama Idol was brought in a procession from the gopuram gate to the venue to be installed over there. …And as the curtain was drawn, there was beauty all around and loud applause could be heard from the gathering marvelling the splendour and grandeur of the idols. Parayanam (reciting) of the Pattabhishekam Ghattam with Shadashopachara Pooja were performed as a part of the concluding crowning ceremony before the crown was formally placed on the Idol marking the completion of the coronation ceremony. Sangeeta Seva was performed towards the end symbolically marking the formal conclusion of the ceremony. Two main priests officiated the entire week long affair were blessed by Bhagawan with chains and the entire group of priests were blessed with Paadanamaskaar and watches as a token of Divine Love. Sweet Pongal, Tamarind Rice and Rava Laddu were served to the packed gathering while Bhajans were on; The Lord remained on stage watching the entire chunk of devotees and prasadam being distributed with love and compassion.
Joolothsavam of Ramachandra Swamy, Keerthana's by Vidwan Sri. M.G. Venkataraghavan and Accompanists
Afternoon, June 28, 2008
In the evening the stage was set for the concluding ceremony, Jhoolotsavam (the swing ceremony). As the priests gently rocked the swing while rituals were going on, Bhagawan sat watching the proceeding to the delight of capacity gathering. This enthralling spiritual feast was followed by an array keerthans by Ganagandharva Vidhwan Sri M.G.Venkataraghavan & Party from Bangalore, which was followed by a bouquet of songs by students from Sri Sathya Sai University at Bhagawan’s special instructions. It was a perfect twilight shining in brilliance with Bhagawan on stage at the centre and His children rendering soulful tunes and lo! Bhagawan was swaying and swinging to the tunes and the priests tuning their swing synchronising rhythmically, replicating a heavenly vision. One would wonder whether the Gods of the highest heaven would also be watching this graceful and wonderful sight through the holes of heaven, if there be, when the heavenly Prasanthi Nilayam was heard reverberating with mellifluous rendering by students who were singing their hearts out, praying to the Lord, in His immediate physical presence. To conclude they sang the famous bhajan Sree Raghavam…with aalap
And such a glittering spiritual event would definitely deserve a dazzling closing ceremony and what else could have been apt for such an occasion than a Divine Discourse studded with Bhajans lead by Nadaswarupa Himself? Bhagawan commenced with some of the Rama Bhajans that continued for almost ten minutes finally leading into a Divine Discourse. Commencing the Divine Discourse with His melodious rendering, He stressed on the greater significance of singing in chorus. Dwelling deep into the mysteries and tales of the epic, Bhagawan echoed: Ramayana is full of secrets and great mysteries and power. Just take the name of Rama and all will be taken care of. It was Guru Nanak who first started the trend of singing in chorus. All the names of the Lord are the same. God is one. Cows' colours are many, milk is one. Jewels are many, gold is one. So too, treat everyone alike. The Atma or soul in you is Rama. All are one, be alike to everyone.
Prasanthi often witnesses such marvels and it is for the devotees to introspect to understand the inner significance of such rare happenings. A memorable week that had a grand finale with Bhagawan installing Lord Rama in the spiritual heart of one and all airing the message of impending real Rama Raajya, a world of righteousness!