While the morning session witnessed lovely children from around the world joining hands singing Unity in Diversity, the evening session had the crowning jewel of pristine womanhood awaiting the turn to live her life through, yet again, to showcase what an Indian Woman is, in the immediate Divine Presence.
The stage was set for a musical drama entitled, “Panchali Charitamu”, the life of Draupadi, famously known by her demonym Panchali.
The story ran through the entire Mahabharata, focus being Panchali and her battle for modesty and righteousness.
While the preparations were on for Panchali’s Swayamvar (the ancient Indian practice of choosing a life partner, among a list of suitors by a girl) to an apprehensive Panchali, who raised reservations at accepting five husbands, Krishna counseled her advising to stick to the path of righteousness, the righteous path of woman, with sincerity.
Thenceforth, it was story of Panchali’s travails, wails that turned to no avail. When the Pancha Pandavas were invited to play the game of dice, as per the Kshatriya traditions Yudhishtira could not refuse and had to accept the invitation.
Shakuni who was designated to play representing the Kauravas was a past master while Yudhishtira was a novice and he started losing from the beginning. He lost his wealth, jewels and all possessions. He then lost his part of the kingdom. Finally, after having lost everything in gambling, only Pandavas, were there sitting with sullen faces with their heads down in shame and sadness.
Upon Shakuni’s suggestion, the Pandavas had to put themselves at stake which subsequently they lost becoming slaves by themselves. Having left with nothing, other than their better half, Panchali, the Pandavas had to finally yield to the pressure to lose her as well to deposit her at the hands of the wicked Kauravas.
Draupadi was humiliated by the wicked Kauravas and her modesty was at stake. An emotional Draupadi wages a lone battle calling out Krishna to spare her from despair.
Though Dhritarashtra, the reigning king was saddened at the turn of events, he was helpless and sought for apology.
When the final game of dice was also lost, Pandavas were asked to leave in exile.
Bhagawan Sri Krishna, who came out to help a wailing Draupadi at a time when her modesty was at stake, wanted to prove yet again that He was with the Pandavas. In a pre-planned game Duryodhana sent Sage Durvasa along with his disciples to the hermitage of the Pandavas asking for food. Pandavas had no option that to call out their eternal friend Krishna.
When Durvasa arrived that day, there was no food left to serve him, and the Pandavas were very anxious as to their fate should they fail to feed such a venerable sage. While Durvasa and his disciples were away bathing at the river, Draupadi prayed to Lord Krishna for help. Krishna immediately appeared before Draupadi saying he was extremely hungry, and asked her for food. Draupadi grew exasperated and said she had prayed to Krishna precisely because she had no food left to give. Krishna then told her to bring the Akshaya Patra to Him. When she did, He partook of the lone grain of rice and piece of vegetable that He found stuck to the vessel and announced that He was satisfied by the "meal". This satiated the hunger of Durvasa and his disciples, as the satisfaction of Krishna.
When the Kauravas failed to stick to Bhagawan Krishna’s plans for an amicable settlement to the property issue, war became imminent and the entire Kaurava clan was annihilated in the epic battle followed as a consequence.
Bhima’s exuberant exhibition of satisfaction at the killing of Dussasana, a revenge he had taken upon when Panchali’s modesty was threatened, was depicted well, a lesson to the traitors of modesty of woman for all time.
Ashwathama who in an irrepressible act of revenge killed the entire progeny of the Pandavas, wiping off the entire clan save the Pancha Pandavas, was let off at the mercy and wise counseling of Panchali, who advocated that killing would not serve the purpose.
Finally, when Krishna having finished in earthly mission, vanished from the physical plane, Pandavas understood the folly of a life without Krishna and started their final journey…and on the way, Panchali dropped herself down…
It was a fine portrayal of the crowning glory of Indian womanhood, organized by the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.
Panchali was at her best with natural emotional acting and Bhagawan sat through the entire session of more than ninety minutes watching the epic, re-enacted in Prasanthi Nilayam.
Immensely pleased with the performance, Bhagawan materialized a chain for the girl who enacted the role of Panchali. Coming down the aisle, Bhagawan posed for photographs. Each and every participant, numbering sixty were called on to the dais to receive special gift from Bhagawan.
Earlier, Bhagawan came into the Sai Kulwant Hall just before five for a complete round culminating at the dais. It was a marathon sitting for the Lord, for more than two hours, feasting thousands of eyes.
The first programme for the evening was a Musical Offering by the Greek Choir. …And the splendorous evening was made into a musical delight by the magical tunes weaved by Christos Kotsmonis, a professional playing the traditional Buzuki for over forty five years.
As he tuned his music on the instrument accompanied by two guitarists, the chorus sang in praise of greater heaven. They had three songs for the evening, Intelligible Sun of Justice by Odysseus Elytis, Around the islands of Aegean Sea, Joy to the Eyes that Cry for Someone Else in Pain and finally the famous “Tuu Pyaar Ka Saagar Hey…”, a composition by Sathya Sai Students.
Buzuki is a long-necked plucked lute of Greece, resembling mandolin. The buzuki has a round wooden body, with metal strings arranged in three or four double courses over a fretted fingerboard. The musician plucks the strings over the sound hole with a plectrum held in the right hand, while pressing on the strings on the fingerboard with the fingers of the left hand. It is also played in a variety of musical genres throughout the world, including jazz, bluegrass, rock and folk music.
This was followed by a European Choir conducted by Alma Badings, from The Netherlands, a familiar face in Prasanthi during the Christmas season.