Ashadi brings a renewed devotional fervour for the Lord of Pandharpur, Vittal Rakhumai. With the arrival of this auspicious season, the entire Maratha region goes agog as their attention turns to the centuries old spiritual capital of the state, Pandharpur, the seat of Lord Vittal Rakhumai. The centuries old tradition of Vaarkari Sampradaya showcasing the legacy of the state with religious passion, brings lakhs and lakhs of devotees walking on foot in huge processions to Pandharpur, the abode of Lord Vittala singing abhangas of Sant Thukkaram and Sant Jnaneshwar to have the darshan of their chosen deity.
In present time, when The Lord is walking the planet earth in physical, devotees of Bhagawan from different parts of the state takes a different route to come to the immediate presence of their Lord Sai Vittala, representing the time tested tradition, walking in a symbolic Dindi Yatra from Dharmavaram to Prasanthi Nilayam. The Dindi Yatra for the year commenced on 18 July from Seeta Ramaya Kalyana Mandapam, Dharmavaram and reached Prasanthi Nilayam on 20 July covering over forty-six kilometers. Hundreds of pilgrims joined in this Yatra carrying the palanquin, singing abhangas in praise of Lord Sai Vittala.
His concern and love for these folks, Prasanthi Vaarkaris, who do the symbolic walk was seen on the 19th evening when He, while onstage, sent word to make the Vaarkaris, who were arriving in the Sai Kulwant Hall, to be seated comfortably.
On 21st July, the holy Ashadi morning’s first item was the presentation of this Vaarkari to The Lord in physical. As He came onstage after a full round of Sai Kulwant, to melodious tunes of various Gayathri chantings coupled with traditional welcome by men dressed up in typical Maratha style, blowing the conch, the palanquin carrying the Lord of Pandharpur was brought unto Him, marking the culmination of this Prasanthi Dindi Yatra.
GAYATHRI VEDA MATA
Propounding the greatness, glory and the significance of the Mantra of all Mantras, emphasizing the greater need for the same in the present times, Balvikas children from Mumbai presented a colourful musical dance ballet that formed the main programme for the auspicious morning. The presentation, tracing the origin of Gayathri Mantra, was weaved in the form of a conversation between Bhagawan Sri Krishna and a frustrated youngster. The youngster was a victim of six vices, was frustrated and wanted to be freed from the clutches. Guiding the youngster, Krishna takes him through the ‘Saga of Gayathri Mantra’, bringing in anecdotes from the eventful life of Vishwamitra, whose effort to subdue his senses finally resulted in the grant revelation of the Gayathri Mantra.
Vishwamitra’s life story reveals how he was affected by the six vices and listening to his story helps one to trace a Vishwamitra in oneself, a victim of six vices. As Krishna went on expounding the Vishwamitra story, showing episodes from the life of the king turned Brahma Rishi, the youngster was relatively ‘introduced’ to his own follies and foibles, addiction to six vices, that every individual has to get rid off to become a worthy son of God. Showing sparks of the great glorious Mantra, narrating various aspects of the same, there were dance sequences interlaced in between to help the youngster to grow detaching from vices embracing the great glorious Mantra. Anecdote from the life of Sant Eknath, the Gajendra Moksha episode etc., were also shown as flashbacks to help the youngster to descend the understanding in him. Marati Abhangs, inserted in between, singing the three deity aspect of Mother Gayathri and the Gajendra Moksha episode rendered the needed Marata flavor to the presentation.
Episodes leading unto the final revelation of the Mantra, especially Vishwamitra’s altercation with Brahma Rishi Vasishta to possess the holy cow Nandini, his fascination for celestial damsels Menaka and Rambha that brought him down to naught after years of penance, the episode related to Trishanku wherein Vishwamitra, out of false pride and jealousy, created another heaven to accommodate the king, were depicted before the climactic scene, showcasing the birth of great Gayathri Mantra.
The final scene of the fifty minute presentation had Mother Gayathri, emerging in a golden chariot, with all Her majesty and glory to the most fascinating background score of Gayathri Mantra as taught by Bhagawan Himself. The final formation had Bhagawan’s special blessing as Bhagawan moved down the dais to pose for a photo session.
The auspicious morning was blessed with extra darshan rounds. To the ‘filling’ audience, it was moment of great joy when Bhagawan, upon completing His usual full round of darshan, went further into the ladies’ side for another half round, taking a detour from the ladies’ end. Upon the photograph session Bhagawan moved off to the ladies’ end, and when everyone thought that He was retiring Bhagawan took a surprise turn to come back for another half-round blessing the children with some more of opportunity to bask in His immediate presence.
In the evening, it was the turn of another set of Balvikas children, from Thane district of Maharashtra. Withstanding the hustle and bustle of the big city, reaching out for regular training sessions in the evenings for almost a month, beyond their school hours, this set of Balvikas children perfected in the art under the tutelage of Bharat Natyam exponent of fame, Deepak Mazumdar of Mumbai, to deliver a scintillating musical dance drama entitled Natya Veda.
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"Natya Veda" is undoubtedly one of the rare class of presentation Prasanthi has ever witnessed, professionally set, choreographed by Deepak Mazumdar who 'materminded' the programme with the assistance of his disciple, Pavitra Bhatt. Sri Deepak Mazumdar was an alumnus of Balvikas who had the rare privilege of performing in His Divine presence as a little boy. He was the direct recipient of Bhagawan's guidance and inspiration that made him what he is today. ...To that 'Master Mind' who anchored his career, Deepak and Co. presented a dazzling display of dance and music that lasted for fifty minutes, depicting the 'Trinity Affair' of the Cosmic Concert of Creation!
The presentation on the twilight lit by special colourful stage light was an audio visual treat, quite professionally set, with the master, Deepak, donning the role of the ‘narrator’, who with his fluid dancing movements ‘compered’ the show bringing the essence of the Natya Veda, which is essentially considered as the fifth Veda. The origin of the trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara, was depicted developing the theme to the origin of various musical notes. As Lord Shiva, the original Dance Master, danced to reach a crescendo, one gunguroo of His Painjan came off, touching His head, shoulder, thigh, knee producing Tad, Dhit, Tom, Na.
The presentation was essentially echoing, with the help of dance and music, the Truth that the Cosmic Concert of Creation had started with the Trinity, and thus the Universe was born in the eternal Raaga of Life set to the Talam of Time… It was dance…accompanied by music… Pavitra Bhatt donning the role of Lord Shiva was a rare sight to watch while dancing to credulous movements, set to perfection, with his little master ‘compeering’ the show, while the original Master sat onstage watching His creation dancing. Balvikas children from Thane who danced with the duo excelled in their movements to match with the skills of the professionals in their attempt to appease the Lord in physical.
As the disciplined children sat in orderly lines Bhagawan moved down the dais to pose for a group photo session granting them the best of the mementos in their lives. ...And He had a few words of appreciation on their exemplified discipline.
The message was clear; Natyam, Nrithyam, Sangeetham will make the minds of men and women soar to the pinnacle of joy and to the depths of their own inner heart…Education with entertainment, the Nava Rasas of Natya Veda will not only reflect the worldly state of man, will equally make him to ascend to the sublime heights of his own divine destiny.
The final Ashadi presentation was on the 22nd evening, a musical dance drama entitled Samartha Ramdas by the students of Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Mandir, Dharmakshetra, the Marati Medium school run by Sri Sathya Sai Trust, Maharashtra.
Presented with the original Marathi flavour, the drama was an illustration of the spiritual odyssey of little Narayana born in a Maharashtra village, Jamb, who went on becoming one of the greatest ever devotees of Lord Rama.
Little Narayana’s fascination towards God got him initiated in to the name of Lord Rama. The little boy enacted as Narayana was quirky and charming with his movements that helped setting the pace for the rest of the presentation.
Seeing her son always immersed in chanting Lord’s Name, oblivious of surroundings, his worried mother with the help of her elder son decided to get her son married with her brother’s daughter. An ardent devotee of Lord Hanuman and a Bala Brahmachari, little Narayana had an aversion towards worldly life. Fleeing to escape from the clutches, he travelled to Nasik, then to Panchavati getting into greater penance ceaselessly chanting Lord Rama’s Name. Twelve long years of intense sadhana ensued that brought him three-fold realization of Lord Rama. …And thus he became Ramdas. As he possessed extraordinary capacity to perform great feats, subsequently he came to be known as Samartha Ramdas.
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Subsequent episodes featured Maharaja Shivaji’s association with him, his service activities with the motto, Dil me Ram hath me kaam, and finally meeting with his aged blind mother after long separation, essaying the greater message of constant contemplation of God's Name with unflinching love and devotion towards God. An episode showing Ramdas reviving a dead bird with the power of Ram Naam was also shown depicting why he is Samartha Ramdas.
The cast in this drama were non-english speaking children from the marati medium picked up the English script in two days, to make the presentation a sublime one. Sitting onstage after the programme, Bhagawan interacted with the organizers and officials from Maharashtra. Calling the ‘Guru’ onstage, who trained the children for the presentation, Bhagawan presented an emerald ring as a token of Divine reward! Moving down the dais, Bhagawan posed for group photo sessions, while the entire cast was blessed with clothe pieces as Divine reward!