Id-Ul Fitr that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting was celebrated in Prasanthi Nilayam in the Divine Presence. Prasanthi’s unique label of Religious Harmony was on display on the festive 21st evening in Sai Kulwant Hall when the holy occasion was celebrated in a simple yet elegant function in the immediate Divine Presence.
The programme commenced at 5.45 p.m. with a speech by Ajit Popat from the United Kingdom. Invoking Bhagawan in typical Islamic fashion, the Islamic call to prayer, Mr. Popat dwelt on the significance of fasting during Ramadan and Navaratri. Fasting at physical level was not enough, but the mind should be trained to perform the fast to attain purity. Narrating an interesting incident during the ongoing Grama Seva, Mr. Popat mentioned that when Prasadam was distributed to a devout muslim and family, who received the same after performing the Id Namaz in the local mosque, the devout Muslim and his family thanked Bhagawan for His love and expressed that their prayers had been answered by merciful Allah.
This was followed by a speech by Sathya, a class seven boy from Primary School, of Muslim Origin from Iran who spoke on the importance of prayer and fasting during the month of Ramadan. The little speaker stated that it was a great good fortune of all to celebrate the festival of Id in the Divine Presence of Bhagawan. Talking from a personal front, the boy thanked Bhagawan for all the wonderful chances that Bhagawan has been bestowing upon the family during their stay with Him over the years. At the end of his short and sweet speech Bhagawan asked the tiny tot to announce publicly that he has come from Iran and has been in Prasanthi Nilayam for the past five years.
These speeches were followed by an enthralling and elevating programme of devotional music, titled “Sai Ke Darbar Mein” by the post graduate students of Sri Sathya Sai University.
For the Muslims in and around Puttaparthi, this was a great occasion as Prasanthi’s tag of embracing unity of all religions was yet again on display and thus a special occasion for the minority muslims who were immensely blessed by the Divine Grace long ago in the year 1978 by His special Divine Grace. Read on for a flashback into the glorious Id festival in 1978 when the Muslims in Puttaparthi had their day in the immediate Divine Presence of Alla Sai.
Id Ul Fitr in 1978 blessed by His Divine Presence
“Sai Baba found that the Muslims of Puttaparthi had to trek about four miles to Bukkapatnam every time they had to pray in a mosque, since they did not have a place of worship in their own village. He called together the Muslims, mostly poor agricultural labourers and artisans and very graciously consulted them on their needs in this regard. Baba in His infinite compassion built a mosque for them in the village, truly an architectural gem, charming, simple and spacious. The mosque was completed and consecrated in time for the Ramzan festival in August this year.
Baba welcomed the Muslims into the Prasanthi Nilayam area, when they prayed for permission to sing the pre‑dawn Ramzan hymns (salaat) before the commencement of the daily fast. Another act of Grace was the visit that Bhagawan paid to the Mosque, on the Id Festival day. A large assemblage of Indian and Foreign devotees and also villagers of all faiths were present to share in the joy that Bhagawan gave to the Muslims that day, when He visited the Mosque. Sri. G. Fakhruddin the Convener of the village Mosque committee while paying the homage of welcome said that the Muslims of Puttaparthi feel both humble and happy by the gift of a Mosque from Bhagawan. Sri. Fakhruddin said that the Light and Love that shone in and through the founders of all religions were physically present in Sathya Sai Baba today. He expressed eternal gratitude to Sai Baba for showing the Muslims the Pathway to God and for re‑inforcing their belief in the universal aspects of all religions.
Baba, in His Telugu discourse, which was understood by all the Muslims who gathered there, said that Ramzan was the month when the Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It was a divine Communication, a Bhagavad Vani, reaching him through waves or Tarangas of Divine Vibrations. The Vedas too were revealed in the same manner by God to the Rishis. The Bible, the Zenda Vesta, and the other great scriptures of other religions also had similar Divine Inspiration as the reason for their validity. Since the Quran originated from God, Baba declared, it cannot be changed or modified, to suit 'changed' conditions. They are all eternal verities. The Quran, according to Baba, contained expositions of the five vital principles or pancha prana of human life: mercy, truth, sacrifice, love and tolerance. These principles, really basic to the good life are emphasised in all religious texts of humanity. If they assimilate the truths declared in the Quran, they can live in full concord with all others. No religion praises violence or falsehood. Baba said that fasting was laid down during the Ramzan, in order to make people experience the benefits of sense‑control and in order to cleanse the spirit and the passions of man, so that he may be rendered fit to approach God. Fasting is also referred to as Upavas; Baba said that Upa means 'near' and vas means `living'. So, Upavas means, living very near God. The Ramzan fast is intended to enable Muslims to set aside all sensory desires and to spend an entire month in the Holy Presence of God. As man gets the cool heartening breeze when he approaches the air‑conditioner, or fan, so too when man approaches God, his sorrows will vanish and he will have his good aspects flourish by His Grace. Cultivate during this Month of God all the Godly qualities, charity, unity, love, service, detachment, tolerance. And, see that you practise them, not only at home, but, spread the joy outside your household also.
Fasting entails not merely abstaining from food and drink from sun‑rise to sun‑set, but, the mastery of the more difficult discipline of giving up violence, falsehood, anger, envy, and the maligning of others. One may have to face ridicule and persecution, obstructions and troubles when he decides to lead the good, holy life. Prophet Muhammad was persecuted thus and he had to leave Mecca for Medina. Jesus was crucified for the meek and the mute. As the Lord's Will assumes the form of a tree—the Kalpavriksha—in order to be a perennial source of sustenance and sweetness to others, great persons have suffered voluntarily, for the sake of their beneficent beliefs. In spite of hurdles and handicaps, Prophet Muhammad did not give up his conviction; He declared that there was only One God and that His Name was Allah. He commanded his disciples to serve mankind, and treat all others as fellow beings, children of the same God. Baba called upon the Muslims to study the Gift of God to man, namely the Quran and holds its teachings as valid for all time, because they are universal and basic.
At the end of His Discourse, Baba created out of His Will (Sankalpa) seven silver lockets, each with the Arabic Inscription, 'Allah' and gave them over to the Convener, to be distributed among the members of the Mosque Committee. Baba was cheered in great devotion by all the villagers, while the Muslims sang Telugu and Urdu poems praising His Love and Compassion towards all mankind.
Earlier upon completing a full round of darshan Bhagawan blessed the group of priests lead by Kotla Lakshmi Narasimham designated to officiate the one week Dasara Jnana Saptaha Yajnam, a routine affair every year.
The beautiful evening session dedicated to the Muslim brethrens came to a close at 6.30 p.m. with Arati to Bhagawan.