On a wintry foggy January morning when temperature on a mateorograph would tend to settle somewhere near the “15 mark”, the student folks from Sri Sathya Sai University were not ready to relent. They were up from the bed much early, as early at 5 am for their regular Omkar, Suprabhatam schedule at 5:20. After this customary routine spiritual exercise feeding their souls, they would not retire under the cover of cozy blankets warming themselves for yet another spell of early morning nap. Instead, they would flock together to move into the adjacent Vidyagiri Stadium, sans any winter coat, for the warming up schedule in preparation for the Annual Sports and Cultural Meet.
After a fortnight of hectic activities filled with action, ranging from Christmas to New Year to the Alumni Meet, the week leading to the Annual Sports and Cultural Meet, scheduled for 11 January, 2010 had no specific activity in the Mandir, though the Vidyagiri Stadium has been abuzz with frenzied action.
With Brindavan and Anantapur campuses joining the Prasanthi Nilayam campus on 6 January, it was time for combined practice sessions, with an eye on the timer. Giving a fillip to the prevailing mood of excitement, Bhagawan blessed the practice session on the 7th evening watching the students practising various events. The Higher Secondary School and the three campuses of the University presented ten-minute excerpts of their respective programmes as Bhagawan preferred to watch from the “D – Block” in front of the Shanti Vedika.
The morning warming up exercises continue till muscles turn supple enough to stay competent for the sporting event. Of course, these warm-up exercises form part of the regular routine of the hostel boys. This would be followed by breakfast session before continuing with regular practice sessions for specialized items, all divided campus-wise for want of stadium availability. Hectic practice sessions would follow after enough of rest during the mid-day. This final session would continue for 3-4 hours beyond 7 pm till the students return to hostel.
With items galore in their kitty, these folks were at their very best when Bhagawan chose to present Himself for the live-show demonstration. With Him, these students became the heroes and they left no stone unturned to make the event a grand success, both with sports and spirits, upholding sporting spirit.
Daredevilry is something unique and common with the students from the Sri Sathya Sai University and their spirits peak to ecstatic levels when they realize that they are blessed to put up a show for none other than The Lord in physical form. The folks are not alone in their attempt to excel; they are ably supported by industry based professionals. It is a new learning ground for these professionals, meeting the students from Prasanthi who at the end of the day turn themselves to become real heroes.
A pair of stuntmen from Telugu Film Industry was engaged in training the wards in jeep stunts. “Never did unacknowledged stuntmen of the film world know that they were the chosen ones for the Divine exhibition. The film heroes might be duped in the movies by these stunt men and they never get the praise, but they had the call of the Divine which heroes never have” says, Sagar Reddy from Hyderabad who was fortunate to arrange the men from the Industry based in Hyderabad.
“They are surprised by the enthusiasm, the vigor, the courage and sincerity of the students. What surprised them was that these students were doing it not for the claps or not for the box-office hits, but for a smile from the Divine” said Sagar speaking about the spirited students and their charged up enthusiasm.
For an accomplished trainer who got the first Lion Dance Troupe to Prasanthi, Francis Goheng Lee from Singapore, training the students has been a blessing ordained by Bhagawan Himself. Francis was a member of the Lion Dance team that visited Prasanthi in 1998 and subsequently got the Divine call in 2000 to train His wards on Lion Dance, and ever since he has been a regular trainer in Prasanthi Nilayam campus. Apart from Lion Dance, he had stints in training the boys in giant flag post, trampoline basketball, gymnastics, parachute acrobatics, etc.
“Parthi students are quite inquisitive, learning fast” says Francis adding that while the students in Singapore would take a year to learn Lion Dance skills, same skills are picked by students in Parthi in less than a month. Speaking about the discipline and level of enthusiasm of the boys here, he says, “only in Parthi can you see it that students come as early as at 5 am to the Hanuman…they are able to concentrate, they are very respectful and always smiling, willing to learn…” Francis is ably assisted by Linus an Analyst Banker, and Weng Joon Cheng, an Engineer working as a Project Manager, both from Singapore.
Apart from the balancing of the Giant Flag Post, trampoline basketball etc., the students are getting trained in a special item called “Colour of Lights”, a parachute item that was held for the first time anywhere in the world, during the International Kite Festival in Shanghai, China. This is only for the second time in the history this parachute acrobatic item is going to be displayed tomorrow, after the Shanghai event, involving 25 parachutes against the six at Shanghai. Calling the entire exercise an exchange of tradition and cultures, Weng Joon Cheng says that they are always taking bigger lessons back home, learning from these students, whose exemplary behavior is something heartwarming for them.
When the D-Day arrives, there come the tiny tots from the Primary School to steal the limelight to the merriment of all. Pepped up in spirit by a bunch of dedicated teachers, these wards undergo hectic practice sessions making their final drill a masterpiece for the Divine. As an encouragement to their preparations, Bhagawan went to the Primary School ground and blessed the children watching their practice session on 9 January, Saturday evening.
Back in the ashram, the week was full of evening darshans and bhajans galore. As Bhagawan came to occupy the dais every evening, watching and blessing the concourse of devotees, ecstatic assembly, in its blissful state would not have remembered that it was exactly an year ago that Bhagawan ordained to shift the bhajans from the Bhajan Hall inside to the open Sai Kulwant Hall.
While the construction of the dormitory work is progressing with two more locations identified, rear to the road leading from the Book Centre ‘towards west’, the canteen coupon counter located near the South Indian Canteen has been demolished to reconstruct at the same spot. A temporary counter has been opened at W2-A1&2, opposite to the previous Counter.
Rose Beneficiaries for the week included, Shri H J Bhagia, Prof. Shiv Pandit (both from Prasanthi Nilayam Campus), Mr. M. E. Thukaram Rao and Dr. Narahari (both from Brindavan Campus).
With hours to go for the “Sports and Cultural Meet 2010” to kick start, Bhagawan made a visit to the venue on Sunday, 10 Jan, evening. Bhagawan spent an hour sitting in the “D-Block”, watching the proceedings of the three campuses, twenty minutes each.
It was announced in the evening, after the Arathi, that the “ The Annual Sports and Cultural Meet 2010 would commence at 9:00 am at the Vidyagiri Stadium in the immediate Divine Presence of our Most Beloved Bhagawan”.