Old is the experienced version of the New and with the old and experience comes the Golden…The latter half of the fortnight had the golden touch of the old when thousands of Alumni gathered in Prasanthi Nilayam celebrating their “Coming Together” to the portals of their alma mater.
While the Alumni Meet 2010 earned central attraction, the fortnight witnessed frenzy of activities, Christmas as well as the advent of the joyous New Year 2010.
“Eternal Bond of Love” as aptly termed, the coming together of the Alumni with a strong 1400 team had the flavor of a “Coming Home” and Prasanthi literally basked in the glare of this Divine Romance between Swami and His Students.
Sunday, 3 Jan evening, supposedly the final day for the folks before returning, was made most memorable when Bhagawan, upon taking the dais, called for the remaining folks to join the current stream of students giving them yet another opportunity to sing in His immediate presence. With mikes exchanged to the seniors, with experienced hands yet again taking over the instruments, they burst open, singing “Sai Ke Durbar Mein Aao Madhura Madhura Sangeet Sunao…”
The song reflected the collective feeling of the fraternity, the feeling of pining and yearning to be in His presence. For the singer, even as he completed singing, Swami called him and spoke to him. What was once a regular routine has come as a rare opportunity on the blessed evening. He had no words to say and Swami further struck him dumb as He began to wave His palm in circles….and there came a beautiful golden chain with a pendant and the singer broke down, unable to bear the gush of joy that was welling up within”.
And what the singer, Ajnish Rai, had to share with the readers on the “Home Coming” and the “bonus” that came along with like a “bolt from the blue” is a testimony to the humility and devotion of the entire fraternity.
“I have realized that Swami’s love and compassion cannot be deserved or attained by one’s abilities. His grace supersedes all that one can achieve through merit or good karma. That is why it is called “Grace”, something which is bestowed upon you and is more than what you deserve. Despite being the fallible human that I am, despite the odds of even speaking to Swami, despite being a mere singer when there are thousands of great singers waiting for a word or glimpse of Swami, what else can it be except His infinite Grace, that I get the loving look, exchange of words and His chain of Eternal Love! I do not want to blemish this golden moment with a ‘Thank You, Swami’. I offer every song I sing at Thy Lotus Feet and pray for Thy Grace that redeems the entire world. Samastha Lokaha Sukhino Bhavanthu!!”
“Even in His silence we were leaning” said someone who agreed that every individual carry home the needed lesson that comes most subtly from Bhagawan in His most inimitable mysterious way. For bhajan folks it is recalling and reinventing of those nostalgic olden golden days: “… a flashback to those beautiful moments got tears in our eyes and left us totally thrilled and a joy not expressed in words” says Shyam Kumar Raja, a pass-out of 1989 and whose voice had been heard during those days.
Earlier the programme got off to a colourful start with Alumni presenting a thematic drama, entitled, “An Eternal Bond of Love…” essentially depicting the “Divine Romance” between Swami and His students. Reliving the golden memories at the hallowed precincts of Prasanthi Nilayam, the drama brought out in a most innovative style, was gratitude in offering for their beloved Swami for making and shaping their lives as worthy instruments.
The saga continued on the New Year day when the folks continued with their presentation in the afternoon with band display interspersed with commentary followed by a musical session coupled with bhajans. Capitalising the opportunity, stream of alumni, clustered in smaller groups seeking His blessings on various project activities.
The 2nd evening found the Alumni accompanied by their escorts assembling in the Poornachandra Auditorium for a private session with the Lord. The session turned out to be a “awareness refresher course” when Bhagwan asked two of the seniors to address the group, Prof. G, Venkataraman, former Vice Chancellor followed by Mr. V. Srinivasasn, President, Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations – India.
The fortnight had lots more in its kitty that included the glorious Christmas celebrations. While the Christmas Eve was marked with the usual International Choir singing Christmas hymns, a day after the Christmas found the International
Children Choir singing His glory through a selected band of children from around the world. The same evening, 26 Dec witnessed the Christmas 2009 Children Drama, by the children from Latin American countries, highlighting the greatness of the festivity in His Divine Presence in Prasanthi Nilayam. “Christmas Comes to My Heart” brought home the joy of Christmas, lucidly explaining the story behind the celebrations interconnecting the same with that of Bhagawan’s, bringing home the message of true celebration of Christmas in Prasanthi Nilayam.
Christmas was the day when the Lord in white ushered in to the escort of Biblical characters bringing in the real Christmas flavour. Christmas is essentially the “Western Time” in Prasanthi Nilayam and in the thanks giving speech, the Christmas Committee Chairman, Mr. John Behner spelt out every possible names thanking them profusely for the wonderful co-operation the team had received making the festivity a grand success.
The entire happening was only “icing on the cake” when the real blessing came in the form of Christmas Divine Discourse. He exhorted everyone of the importance of trying to know the Atmic reality: Enquire into yourself, “Who am I? Who am I?” you will realise, “I am I, I am Atma”, “I am I, I am Atma”, “I am I, I am Atma.” If you forget this Divine Self, what remains is ‘deep wine’! Hence, you should become divine.
There were other interesting happenings during the fortnight. The 22nd Dec afternoon Bhagawan commissioned the Sri Sathya Sai University’s new ERP system in a private function held in the Bhajan Hall. The newly revamped version of the University website was also shown to Bhagawan seeking blessings. The new version of the website was subsequently launched on the world wide net.
The Prasanthi Dance Troupe that celebrated its fifth anniversary had a cultural programme entitled “Sathya Vaani Nrithya Baani“ held in the Divine Presence on 23 Dec in the immediate Divine Presence of Bhagawan.
“Joy of Serving”, a cultural programme by the devotees from Southern Europe, comprising erstwhile USSR countries namely, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia followed the Christmas celebrations. More than their singing that had its beauty, melody and devotion what captivated the attention was the all-conquering love of Bhagawan when He decided to move among the hundreds of men and women to distribute Vibhuti Prasadam in person.
This was followed by two programmes in the next two days, a bouquet of songs by Balvikas children from Delhi followed by another bouquet of songs by a huge group of over 340 from Indonesia.
When the New Year ushered in, the mini world in Prasanthi had the fortunate darshan of Lord Sai, who ushered Himself donning in Yellow garb…and what followed was joy of the advent of the New Year in His immediate presence…a band display by the University Brass Band followed by an array of four songs, carnatic vocals by the Music Troupe that broke loose the set benchmark of excellence.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan was in Prasanthi for the New Year dawn. The Chief Minister, who came along with his immediate family, has made several trips to Prasanthi during the last couple of months seeking Bhagawan’s blessings.
Rose beneficiaries for the fortnight included Prof. US Rao, Principal, Prasanthi Nilayam Campus, Prof. Anil Kumar, Prof. GV Prabhakar Rao, Dr. KBR Prasad (all from SSSU),Sri Sivaramakrishnaiah, Principal, Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School, Sri Sai Surendranath and Sri Ramakrishna Reddy, (both from Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School).
Taking a cue from the recently launched Sri Sathya Sai Narayana Seva Project, all states coming for Prasanthi Duty would be bringing special sweets per week to be distributed in the Mandir, an initiative by the All India Sathya Sai Seva Organisations.
Sports and Cultural Meet is coming up in the second week of January and preparations got into a higher gear with the emergence of the New Year…and came along with the New Year a wintry bonus…but these resolute folks have only one aim, to excel and make Beloved Swami “happy”!
It was indeed Home Coming, be it for the Christmas folks from overseas countries or for the 1400 odd alumni came from different parts of the world, everyone finds the warmth of being at home while in His presence in Prasanthi Nilayam!