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Posted at 1015 hrs. on 25th Aug 2009

Ramayana is one of the rarest and most enchanting of the epics of India, most popular not only in India but also the world over. Lord Sri Rama is attributed to be the Maryadapurushothama, the most ideal being and by following His life story, mankind could benefit immensely to develop in all aspects of life. The Adarsha Purusha, Sri Rama, was a virtuous ideal son, an ideal disciple, an ideal brother, an ideal husband and an ideal ruler. No wonder, the Lord Himself has painstakingly written the most illustrious story of the “Lord of Dharma” ruled eons ago, as Rama Katha Rasa Vahini.  

…And the Lord who has written the story of His Own often relishes getting back into the “history” living “His Story” for the sake of the devotees. Prasanthi Nilayam often witnesses cultural renaissance with traditional folklore art forms from the interiors getting their stakes to go onstage in the Divine Presence.  Burra Katha, though not identified as a folklore, is a quite innovative and distinct form of effective story-telling. Rhetoric coupled with expressive enacting with the help of traditional musical instruments makes it a most lively and distinct form of story-telling to en mass.

The trio, students from Sri Sathya Sai University, Sai Prabhakar, Aravind Sai and Sai Raghuram, have been parading their skills in the distinctive art form with blessings, guidance and encouragements from Bhagawan and Prasanthi Nilayam has witnessed number of such Burra Katha sessions over the past couple of years, enacting lives of illustrious souls, disseminating greater messages to humanity, the latest being on the 13th June on illustrious Mother Easwaramma. The trio also had the rare blessing of staging continuous shows for three to four days in the Divine Presence during this year’s Kodai Sojourn in April. The trio has been trained thoroughly by Mr. Krishna Bhaskar from BHEL who had the rare privilege of enacting Burra Katha in the Divine Presence for twenty long years.

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On the 24th August evening, Prasanthi witnessed yet another enthralling Burra Katha session and the story was on the life of Lord Sri Rama. The sublime story of the glory of Ram Avatar was brought back into life with expressive narration often intertwined with hasyam (by a clown character delivering comic relief) and music and songs in between. The programme commenced with the traditional “Ganesha Vandana”, “Bhaja Mansa Vigneshwaram…..” after receiving blessings from Bhagawan.   This was followed by garlanding of the performers by three designated students, a tradition followed, before the trio went elucidating the glory of Ramayana.

Starting from the Lord’s birth the story evolves towards various events narrated by Bhagawan Himself in Rama Katha Rasa Vahini. Rama’s implicit obedience towards His father’s words and will, His life in exile, winning Dharma by annihilating the demons and protecting the holy, devotion and dedication of Lakshmana, Hanuman, Sabari, Guha and Jatayu etc. The story ends with a greater message to mankind that when man becomes closer to God, he does not require or desire anything materialistic. If he departs from Lord’s heart, he would be facing lots of obstacles, the apt example being that of Mother Sita’s agony, when she was deluded by Mareecha turned golden deer….and final narrative was that of the King’s return to Ayodhya as the mighty righteous ruler par excellence, as The Dharma Swaroopa; but the programme ended not without singing the glory of the Lord in physical and they broke into a beautiful song, “Anandame Sai Bhajana and Brahmanamdame Sai Bhajana….”

It took an engrossing full hour, where the Lord was onstage quite attentive, in rapt attention, witnessing His Own Story, now narrated by His Own Students. Ramayana depicts almost similar scenes wherein the Little Beautiful Children of Mother Sita, the illustrious twins of the Treta Age, Lava and Kusha who went into the streets singing the story of the glory of Lord Rama, their beloved father…  The programme that lasted about an hour concluded with thunderous appreciative applause by one and all. The entire troupe, including the music boys and the trainer was blessed by Bhagawan towards the end.

“Swami has been encouraging us to do Burra Katha right from our UG days. His abundant grace and love are the only strength for us to enact the Burra Katha. Swami used to guide us at every step right from the costumes, tunes of the songs, the way we should dance when the song is being sung and also the way we should be together not only for Burra Katha, but how to be united, wherever we go, whichever part of the world. Bhagawan expects everybody to know the story of Ramayana and also stresses to follow the principles of Ramayana to lead a happy living” says Sai Prabhakar, the main narrator who is currently pursuing an MBA at the Sri Sathya Sai University, Prasanthi Nilayam.

Indeed, these are definitely sessions meant for the devotees to understand the greater significance behind the glory of the story of the Lord, Sri Rama!