Divine Darshan & Felicitation of Senior Functionaries
7th July 2009, Prasanthi Nilayam: The global spiritual mission that was set in motion by Bhagawan aimed at spiritual renaissance has its diversified tools bringing in the much required individual and societal transformation. Every festivity that dots the Prasanthi Calendar is one such tool that helps building Mission Sri Sathya Sai.
The surprise Discourse bonanza on the previous evening followed by a colourful musical drama with an ensemble of past masters rallying with their teachings served to set a perfect backdrop for the big day, Guru Purnima. And the auspicious morning had its share of glare and flair as Sai Kulwant that was brimming to capacity was bustling with greater enthusiasm anticipating the day’s brightest prospect, the Darshan of the Lord of all Lords!
It was a long wait and the prolonged waiting came to an end at dot 10:00. Cacophony of discordant notes of whispers gave way to Tayampaka and Nadaswaram and in tandem raised the decibels of loud Vedic chanting, in the backdrop of light devotional instrumentals. All eyes at Yajur Mandiram and there emerged the Lord in resplendent yellow, granting the first Darshan of the Guru Purnima morning! As if the Lord was pulling the string of a puppet show, surge of capacity crowd craned their necks, some rose to their feet, in tandem, as He ‘glided’ past the pathway bestowing the highest boon of His Guru Purnima Darshan!
Guru Purnima in Prasanthi Nilayam often assumes a difference as many of the organizational and institutional activities related to Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation, Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust and allied institutions are organized during the big occasion. This year too was not different.
The programme for the session was a felicitation ceremony organised to honour some of the senior functionaries who, till recently, had been rendering selfless service in Bhagawan’s institutions.
At the outset, Mr. Anil Kumar, a faculty member in the Department of Bio-Sciences offered his salutations to Bhagawan and paid glowing tributes to the functionaries to be felicitated, who had done yeoman service in their institutions. Commencing his speech acknowledging that we are fortunate to be in the presence of Purushotthama (God) as Guru, Dr. Anil Kumar continued: when the Lord of the universe comes down on earth, He chooses His own instruments in His Divine Mission. The greatness and uniqueness of this Avatar is that He takes care of them who take refuge in the Avatar following the spiritual path. Quoting and few of Bhagawan’s Telugu poems, Mr. Anil Kumar reiterated Bhagawan’s assurance to the mankind in His own words… The compassionate Lord of Puttaparthi will catch your hand and protect you. All your strength and capabilities have to be offered to the Lord. You should breathe your last serving the Lord.
Mr. Anil Kumar continued that we have devotees who have served the Lord for over 40 years. We have not selected our Guru; Bhagawan, the Jagadguru (preceptor of the world) has selected us. Inviting the senior functionaries to the dais, Mr. Anil Kumar began with Sri A.V. Appa Rao, Financial Controller, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Prasanthigram. He was formerly Deputy Accountant General in the States of Kerala, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. Though he held positions of eminence, he was happy to be called a Seva Dal. He was an active Seva Dal member from the year 1978 to 1992. Narrating an experience of Sri Appa Rao, Sri Anil Kumar said that one day Bhagawan enquired Sri Appa Rao about the health condition of his wife. He replied to Bhagawan that she was quite alright. Bhagawan said, “No. Take her to hospital.” Doctors found nothing wrong in X-ray. But Bhagawan pointed the defect to the doctor that she had acute rheumatoid arthritis. He served for 17 long years in the Hospital. This is his 18th Guru Purnima. Then Smt. and Sri Appa Rao prayerfully occupied their seats on the dais.
Mr. Anil Kumar then introduced another senior functionary, Prof. Nanjundaiah, Controller of Examinations, Sri Sathya Sai University, who had the privilege to be with Bhagawan from the year 1973. Formerly, he was the head of the Department of Commerce, NES College affiliated to Bangalore University. He stood first in his university in 1962. Having decided to dedicate his life to Bhagawan, he thought that teaching M.Com to students would be an obstacle in his spiritual life. Then Bhagawan cleared his misconception by saying that M.Com was not interfering, but your mind was interfering in your spiritual life. He had the rare good fortune of accompanying Swami to Sivam in Hyderabad. Once he asked Swami, “How am I to understand You?” Bhagawan told him, “Don’t understand Me, experience Me.” He was also blessed by Bhagawan to be a translator of His Discourses. Starting his career as a lecturer in the department of commerce, he rose to the position of Controller of Examinations. Smt. and Prof. Nanjundaiah after offering their obeisance to Bhagawan took their seats on the dais.
Sri A.V. Sathyanarayana Murthy, Senior Engineer in Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences was the next senior functionary to be introduced by Dr. Anil Kumar. Speaking on the ardent devotion of Sri Sathyanarayana Murthy, Sri Anil Kumar said that he used to say that one should be a servant of God and not to mortals. If you have devotion Bhagawan will confer everything. It so happened that Sri Sathyanarayana Murthy once had severe chest pain. Swami sent him to Dr. Jeevanandam, a cardiac surgeon who operated upon him. After a major heart operation, in one month’s time, he totally recovered and was back to duty. Before coming over to Prasanthi Nilayam, Sri Sathyanarayana Murthy served as Engineer in Bilaspur, Kenya and in New Delhi. Sri Sathyanarayana Murthy then sought Bhagawan’s blessings before occupying his seat on the dais.
The last of the senior functionary who was honoured this morning was Prof. A.V. Lakshminarasimhmam, who served as Registrar of Sri Sathya Sai University. Prof. Lakshminarasimhmam used to say that if there is no character and integrity, you cannot call yourself a teacher, said Dr. Anil Kumar. His devotion to Bhagawan could be compared to that of the devotion Gopikas for Lord Krishna. His eyes radiated kindness. Never this gentleman had eyes red with anger though he occupied high position with lot of responsibilities. He always had a smile on his face and spoke very softly. He was again from a Seva Dal background. He did his Ph.D. from Osmania University. Prof. Lakshminarasimhmam joined Brindavan Campus as a lecturer. As time passed by he was elevated to the echelons of Reader, Professor, Principal of Prasanthi Nilayam Campus and finally as Registrar of the University. We are indeed fortunate to work in his presence, said Dr. Anil Kumar.
After Mr. Anil Kumar’s introductory speech, the senior functionaries were garlanded in Bhagawan’s presence. These senior functionaries, Sri A.V. Apparao, Mrs. Apparao, Prof. Nanjundaiah and Mrs. Nanjudaiah, Sri A.V.Sathyanarana Murthy, Dr. Lakshminarasimham were garlanded by Sri Srinivas Rao, Senior Manager, Accounts, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Prasanthigram, Dr. (Mrs.) Dwaraka Rani Rao, Principal, Anantapur Campus of the University, Sri G.S. Srinivas Srirangarajan, the current occupant of the seat of Controller of Examinations, Dr. Niranjana, Department of Commerce, Anantapur Campus, Sri Rajesh Desai, Executive Engineer, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Prasanthigram and Dr. Naren Ramji, the current occupant of the seat of Registrar of the University, respectively.
Dr. A.N. Safaya, Director, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Prasanthigram was the next speaker for the session. He began his speech by saying that he had lots of experiences and to narrate them would need another Bhagavatham. Dr. Safaya then described an experience when Bhagawan asked him to be the Chairman of Hospital Committee; he was taken aback. He was previously serving India’s premiere institute, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), and to create a hospital was totally surprising since he was from a materialistic background. Then, he was not aware of Bhagawan’s Divinity. It was Sri Appa Rao who joined a year later who helped him in every respect. Dr. Safaya said that he hailed from Kashmir and he was unfamiliar with Rayalaseema region. “Had I not the company of Sri Appa Rao, I do not know how I would have carried on the work,” said Dr. Safaya. Bhagawan spent more than 2 crores on this hospital. To see whether things are stored according to rules, given to patients according to rules was the responsibility of Sri Appa Rao. These rules were based on Bhagawan’s Human Values, remarked Dr. Safaya. This book of rules has become a document for all Bhagawan’s hospitals. Dr. Safaya opined that it is not the number of operations and the treatment given which counts, but that which is done with love is most important. That environment is credited to Sri Appa Rao. He said that Sri Appa Rao was a man of great character, very straightforward and a role model for the 500 staff of the hospital. He used to come on foot 7 kms from the Ashram and go back on foot. I am saddened to lose such a person, said Dr. Safaya. There was not a single blemish in the maintenance of accounts, and there was no problem with the audits.
Commenting on another aspect of the hospital, Dr. Safaya said that there were four intensive care units in the hospital, one cathlab and one acute cardiac patient unit. The air conditioning equipment required for this purpose should be of a high order. The infection rate is very low, less than most international hospitals, said Dr. Safaya. 18 units of air conditioning equipment were maintained by Sri Sathyanarayana Murthy. All this was the responsibility of Sri Sathyanarayana Murthy. Great firms like Voltas have come to learn from Sri Sathyanarayana Murthy.
After Dr. Safaya’s speech, it was revealed to the audience that Sri Appa Rao and Sri Sathyanarayana Murthy were brothers and Prof. A.V. Lakshminarasimhmam was the youngest among them.
The last speaker for the morning session was Prof. Vishwanath Pandit, Vice Chancellor, Sri Sathya Sai University. After offering Pranams at the Lotus Feet of Bhagawan, Dr. Pandit said that all of us – students and devotees are fortunate to be in the presence of the Jagadguru. He further added that for him the day was emotional as it was on this day 33 years ago that he came into the fold of Bhagawan. Prof. Pandit was teaching then in a university in Manchester, England. The two – Prof. Nanjundaiah and Prof. Lakshminarasimhmam are frontrunners in Bhagawan’s education system, said Dr. Pandit. Prof. Lakshminarasimhmam was a doctorate in Microbiology from Osmania University. He did his doctorate in the year 1967 and served for six years in the Osmania University. Fulfilling his inner urge to serve Bhagawan, he joined Brindavan Campus as a lecturer, became Reader and Professor, and in 1989 took over as Principal of Prasanthi Nilayam Campus. In 1999, Bhagawan anointed him as the Registrar of the University. “Prof. Lakshminarasimhmam was a scientist and professor, I feel honoured to work with him”, opined Dr. Pandit. His job entails a lot a responsibility. He was firm, but at the same time he was courteous.
Other universities are trying to evolve the semester and grading system of this university. All the credit for this goes to Prof. Nanjundaiah. This is the only university where examinations are held on the stipulated date and results are declared as announced. Though Prof. Nanjundaiah headed the Department of Commerce in his earlier stint, he readily took over as lecturer since he wanted to be with Bhagawan. Such was the dedication and devotion of Prof. Nanjundaiah for Bhagawan. Prof. Pandit expressed his gratitude to Bhagawan for giving two of his bright students to fill the gap, Dr. Naren Ramji as Registrar and Sri G. S. Srirangarajan as Controller of Examinations.
At the end of Prof. Vishwanath Pandit’s speech, Bhagawan honoured Sri A.V. Appa Rao, Smt. Appa Rao, Sri Sathyanarayana Murthy, Prof. Nanjundaiah and Smt. Nanjundaiah and Prof. Lakshminarasimhmam with silverware – silver plate and tumbler. Arati was offered to Bhagawan at 11.45 a.m. With this, the glorious session came to a close.
Divine Discourse at the Twilight
Starting off on a lighter note that in the morning He was not allowed speak about those who were honoured, Bhagawan had all the good words about the seniors who were felicitated in the morning. Appa Rao who has been serving as auditor right from the inception of the hospital has taken care of everything in minute details putting an all-round show. He has been rendering service without any expectation and without remuneration. Referring to the service rendered by the other two brothers of Mr. Appa Rao, Mr. Sathya Narayana Murthy, Sr. Engineer in the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Prasanthigram and Dr. Lakshmi Narasimham, outgoing Registrar of Sri Sathya Sai University, Bhagawan said that all the three brothers were serving Bhagawan with utmost dedication. Hailing Mr. Appa Rao’s yeomen service to the hospital, he said it would be difficult to leave and lose such a person. He has taken care of everything most meticulously, taking everything as his own responsibility and put in all his hard work for the development of the hospital. Mentioning that the special session was convened in honour of Mr. Appa Rao, Bhagawan said, He was immensely pleased, touched and moved by his dedicated hard work.
Dr. Lakshmi Narasimham has done a lot to the best of his satisfaction without any complaints. It is absolutely necessary to thank him profusely for his hard work. Being a bachelor he has dedicated his life for the welfare of the university. He had no other responsibilities and his lone concern was the welfare of the university. Starting his career as a Sevadal, with an intention to serve the university, he completed his Ph.D. to join the Brindavan Campus as a lecturer.
Hailing Prof. Nanjundaiah, the outgoing Controller of Examinations, for his systematic approach towards the examination system, Bhagawan made a mention of the exalted status of the Institute which has become a reputed institution of national and international reckoning.
In an apparent reference to the prevailing corrupt practice in the educational and medical system, Bhagawan said that in Sathya Sai Institutions no such collections and no corruptions could be found. Neither students nor patients need to worry, said Bhagawan assuring that he would take care of them.
Making a mention of the girls attending to work, Bhagawan asked: if you go to school to teach other children who will take care of your children? A woman who goes to work will never be happy; it is their responsibility to take care of their children and parents. Parents should be well taken care of. They should not be kept at ‘home for the aged’; keep them with you; feed them and take care of them. It is an absolute must to take care of your home and responsibilities. Students should take note of it. This is right education, said Bhagawan.
Discoursing on the greater importance of emulating the ideal lives of elders, Bhagawan exhorted the students to follow the path shown by the elders to come up in life.
Bhajans continued for sometime after the Divine Discourse before Arathi was offered to Bhagawan.
Earlier the evening session started as usual at 1700 hrs. with Bhajans and devotees had a long wait till 1800 hrs. when Bhagawan came out of His Abode. After completing His usual round, coming onstage Bhagawan called for the couples, Mrs. & Mr. Appa Rao and Mrs. & Mr. Nanjundaiah, materialized gold coins for both the ladies before commencing His Divine Discourse.