Introducing a Cultural Programme commemorating the fifth anniversary of Prasanthi Dance Group, Prof. Anil Kumar exclaimed: Life with Bhagawan is celebration; Life with Bhagawan is music: Life with Bhagawan is ecstasy and dance. It was ecstatic celebration of music and dance that was in store when a group of dedicated, talented and devoted students from Sri Sathya Sai University’s Prasanthi Nilayam Campus got the Divine nod to celebrate the anniversary of the group, “Prasanthi Dance Group” in His Divine presence on the evening turned twilight of 23 Dec 2009.
The programme was a dance depiction of Bhagawan’s oft quoted maxim, Daiva Preethi, Paapa Bheeti, Sangha Neeti - Love for God, Fear of Sin and Morality in Society, presented through Bhagawan’s own compositions (poems) intertwined and linked with tales of yore, picks from epics, namely, Bhagavata, Ramayana etc.
Entitled “Sathya Vaani – Nrithya Baani”, the programme had picks from rich spiritual and cultural heritage of Bharat. Dancing with dexterity, sense of devotion, with a touch of aestheticism the folk danced to the compositions of Bhakta Jayadeva, Bhakta Ramdas, starting with a Vishnu Stuthi after Ganesha Vandana, through Shuklambaradharam Vishnum, sailing through the Dasavathara Stuthi, depicting the crux of the stories from the ten Avatars through steps suffused with emotive expressions. Story of Lord Sri Ramachandra through Bhakta Ramadas composition, a tillana depicting the tale Bhagavata featuring Gajendra Moksha were some of the other numbers before singing a mangalam song for Lord Sai “Sri Sai Ramanikku Jaya Mangalam, Parthi Nivasinikku Shubha Mangalam”.
The inspirational story of this five year old dance troupe began dating back to year 2005 when a talented, well trained student by name Ganesh was given an opportunity to perform a solo dance during one of the cultural programmes. Impressed by the boy’s talent, Bhagawan had words of appreciation and encouragement and opined that “there is ample space; will be nice if more boys join”. Six more boys, pick of best of dancing talents from the entire Prasanthi Nilayam campus joined and they had the first group dance programme in the Divine presence.
The group was slowly evolving as, in 2006, Bhagawan asked Ganesh to train pick of talents from the Prasanthi Nilayam campus. The troupe’s onward journey was inspirational. “Swami used to guide us on the kind of songs, encouraging us to practice rigorously to perfection. Often Swami would indicate us to get ready before major programmes”, says Ganesh who has done M.Sc, MBA and a Post Graduate Diploma in Indian Culture and Spirituality.
The troupe would dance in white dress without any costumes in the beginning. When Swami started enquiring about costumes, the troupe had the first opportunity to have a “full-fledged” dance programme during the Ati Rudra Maha Yajna in Aug 2006. Ganesh, who has been a trained dancer in Bharat Natyam, Kuchipudi and Folk forms for the past eleven years have trained more than forty boys over the past 4-5 years.
The 23rd evening programme featured 25 students of the University, ranging from under-graduate to doctoral programmes. The hype and importance of the event was very well evident, when Bhagawan asked Prof. Anil Kumar to announce the programme, detailing academic background, place each student hails from etc.
After the programme the entire troupe was blessed with a coveted group photo session. Loving Mother Sai is, He asked them to go, eat and sleep well. Earlier, before the commencement of the programme Bhagawan blessed the entire contingent with “Divine pep-up talk”, bringing and building confidence in His wards.
The same group had offered a huge anniversary card to Bhagawan on the previous evening while praying to stage “their” commemorative show. Bhagawan was gracious enough to bless new anklets and dandiya sticks while blessing them to stage the programme.
At a time when Christmas preparations are gearing up, with a sizeable western populace camping in the holy township, the dance programme served as a pointer substantiating Bhagawan’s view on Bharat’s rich spiritual and cultural heritage.