Spiritual Rejuvenation that the Sai Mission is set into and Cultural Renaissance that goes in tandem to attain the set goal were brought to the fore by the devotees from Maharashtra and Goa on the auspicious Ashadi morning, 7th July 2006 at Prasanthi Nilayam in the immediate Divine Presence of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
Reminiscing the past, rallying behind the great traditions set by two of the greatest spiritual sons from the state, Sant Tukaram and Sant Jnaneshwar, Sai fraternity from the two states of Maharashtra and Goa thronged Prasanthi Nilayam, rekindled those golden spiritual memoirs, suffused with greater spiritual Truths imparted by Bhagawan over the years.
Ashadi Ekadashi is the festival that marks the beginning of the Chaturmasa and that ends with Kaarthik Ekadashi. It is celebrated during the months of June - July (Ashad Shukla Paksha). People consider the two eleventh days, “Ekadashi”, of every month to be of special significance. The eleventh day (bright) of Ashad is known as the great Ekadashi or Maha Ekadashi. This is the day on which people go walking in huge processions to Pandharpur, the abode of Lord Vitthal singing the abhangas (chanting hymns) of Sant Tukaram and Sant Jnaneshwar to have the darshan of their Lord Vitthal. The Vaarkari sampada is a time honoured cult and an important landmark in the colourful history in the state of Maharashtra. Large number of devotees from the city of Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra and from the state of Goa come every year to celebrate this festival at the Divine Lotus Feet of Bhagawan at Prasanthi Nilayam.
Bhagawan who arrived in the fully packed Sai Kulwant Hall at 7:15 a.m. was accorded a traditional welcome by the Maharashtra Bal Vikas, Mumbai Youth Wing and devotees in general from both the States apart from thousands present from other parts of the world. Sai Kulwant Hall was aesthetically decked with flower hangings and one could see inscriptions of Bhagawan’s teachings hanging from top serving silent reminder to man of His ‘Final Reach’.
Bhagawan went for a full round in the Sai Kulwant Hall, came on to the dais blessing the occasion by lighting the lamp before taking His seat on the specially decorated stage that had a beautiful picture of Lord Vitthal, the Lord of Pandharpur set against a background of rainbow. ‘Phir Ashadi Aayi Hai…Swagat Tumhara Sai Hai…Kithni Kushiyan Laayi Hai…Puttaparthi Nagariyan Hamari…Yahan Pandarpur Ki Sai Hai…(Ashadi has come again…Welcome Lord Sai…How much joy has it brought to our Puttaparthi?…Sai of Pandharpur is present here) was the song that lit the hearts of one and all, welcoming the Lord of Gods to the hearts suffused with love and devotion.
Then the Vaarkaris performed a traditional dance bringing the deity of Lord Vitthal in a palanquin to Sai Vitthal from Gopuram Gate side. (Vaarkari in Marathi means travellers.) One among them offered his obeisance to Bhagawan by offering a Tulasi (basil) garland. The Vaarkaris ended their dance with a pyramid formation offering their collective salutations to the Lord. It is worth mentioning here that the Vaarkaris came on foot from Dharmavaram to Prasanthi Nilayam passing through many villages. They did pre-medical check-up of children in about 35 villages. Narayana Seva was performed for the villagers on all the days of the Yatra (journey). Three tableaus formed part of the procession. They conducted role plays in Telugu on topics such as National Integration, Anti-tobacco, liquor and awareness about good health and hygiene in the villages. There was continuous singing of the Name of the Lord during the Yatra.
What followed was an enchanting musical – “The Divine Commandment “I am I – AhamAsmi Aham”. The musical began with children offering their Pranams (salutations) to Bhagawan through a dance.
THE DIVINE COMMANDMENT “ I am I – Aham Asmi Aham”
Who am I? Modern education teaches that man belongs to the animal kingdom, but Bhagawan declares that man is Divyatma Swarupa (embodiments of Divine). The animals question the very right of man’s claim of greatness. How man is considered superior to animals is their contention.
The king of the forest exclaims that it is only because of them that balance exists on the earth. A conversation between the lion and fox ensues. The fox says that whenever man acts in a cunning manner, it is attributed that so and so is cunning like a fox. But truly, it is man who is cunning and selfish, says the fox. In a similar manner, man derogates buffalo by calling a lazy person a buffalo. A person pretentiously shedding tears is called as shedding crocodile tears. Similarly, frogs and pigs are deprecated. The snake proclaims that it is considered an enemy to human beings, but the same man makes it dance to their tunes and its venom is used as a medicine. In the game of cricket, when a batsman is out without scoring, it is said, “he is out for a duck.” So, the lion commands the tiger to capture man and bring him to the forest. When he is brought, he shows his arrogance and callous nature. But the lion shows mercy and says that he will be given a chance to defend himself. Meanwhile, the elephant bellows, “I can carry ten of you.” Man says, “I have a great mind which you animals lack.” The horse proclaims that it is made to pull carts and fight in battles; similarly, the dog says that for all its acts of faithfulness to its master, it is given stale food. The lion questions, “What is the use of all education you profess to possess if you do not follow Dharma and have no contentment?” To this argument, man counters that he has the power to know God. The lion says that to serve God is the motto of their kingdom. The monkeys served as Vanaras helping Lord Rama in His Divine Mission. The bulls perform a dance extolling Siva and declare that they are the recipients of the grace of Lord Siva because the Lord uses them as His vehicle. Similarly, the lion is the vehicle of Goddess Durga, Swan, the vehicle of Goddess Saraswathi, peacock, the vehicle of Lord Subramanya and the tiny Mooshika (rat) acts as the vehicle of Lord Vinayaka. So, animals are worthy of all honour. God Himself had taken the form of animals to teach mankind. He took the form of Kurma (tortoise), Narasimha (lion), Varaha (boar) and Matsya (fish) to transform man. Now, the lion puts the question to man, “Can you defend yourself?” “Animals are superior to man in all respects”, declares the lion.
On introspection, the lion comes to the conclusion that the very God they adore is in human form. So, the animals decide to help man to realise his true nature. The scene now shifts to a modern day school where the students are taught that they belong to animal kingdom. A Bal Vikas teacher then teaches the most important lesson of life to students that God resides in everyone. Man does not belong to animal kingdom, he belongs to God. When man is born, he cries Koham, Koham (Who am I?). He should realise his true nature – Aham Asmi Aham (I am I).
All the participants of the musical converged to have the blessings of Bhagawan. After Prasadam and Arati, Bhagawan went to the site near the Planetarium, where a sprawling indoor stadium is going to be built. Bhagawan blessed the construction materials and broke coconuts as a mark of auspiciousness.
Proposed Design of Sri Sathya Sai Centre for Sports
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
A musical drama “The Ten Commandments” was presented by the children of Sri Sathya Sai Bal Vikas from the districts of Buldana, Akola and Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Mandir, Dharmakshetra. Bhagawan came to Sai Kulwant Hall at 3.20 p.m. The musical drama was the story of the birth of freedom – freedom from bonded slavery from the clutches of the Pharaoh of Egypt. The Hebrews were being persecuted by the Egyptians. On hearing the prophecy that a deliverer would be born to liberate the Hebrews, the Pharaoh passed a decree that all new born babies in the kingdom be put to death. To save Moses his mother made a plan. She hid him in a basket by the side of the River Nile. Moses’ sister Miriam watched over him until Pharaoh’s daughter came to the river to wash. She found Moses in his basket. Pharaoh’s daughter took him to live with her as though he were her son. Moses grew up as an Egyptian prince. One day a slave was in danger of getting crushed under a stone. Moses saved her life. This act of kindness endeared him to the slaves. On learning about his true origins, Moses spurned the throne of Egypt to fight for the slaves. One day Moses lost his temper and killed an Egyptian who was cruel to a slave. He was produced in front of the Pharaoh who passed an order that Moses should be banished to a lonely desert to die.
Many years later, God spoke to him from a burning bush and told him that he must go back and free the Hebrews from slavery. When he asked who He was, God replied, “I am that I am”. Moses went to the Pharaoh to ask him to set the Hebrews free. The Pharaoh did not want to lose his slaves. Awful things began to happen in Egypt as a consequence. There were ten plagues. Before each one, Moses had warned the Pharaoh what would happen. Moses told him the disasters had been sent by God. The last plague was the worst. The eldest son in every Egyptian family, including Pharaoh’s died. The Pharaoh was so upset by losing his son that he said the Hebrews could leave Egypt. The Hebrews knew they must leave Egypt quickly. But the Pharaoh suddenly changed his mind again and sent his army after them to bring them back. The army chased the Hebrews to the banks of the Red Sea. They would have been trapped but a miracle happened. God told Moses to lift up his staff and as he did so the waters parted to make a dry path. They were able to make their escape. When all the Hebrews were safely at the other shore, Moses lifted up his staff again and the waters of the sea closed on Pharaoh’s army who had been chasing them. God had saved the Hebrews. Even though the Hebrews were free, they were still in the desert. The journey was long and they soon ran out of food. They were very hungry and blamed Moses for taking them out of Egypt. Moses told them that God would give them food. God told Moses, “I will give the people food.” After three months of travelling the Hebrews came to the foot of Mount Sinai. God called Moses to meet him on the mountain. As he climbed, there was thunder and lightning. When he was up the mountain God gave Moses ten laws which told the people how to live. These Ten Commandments were written on two tablets of stone. He stayed there in the mountain for days. When he returned, he found his people indulging in evil. As a punishment, the tablets disappeared. Then Moses pleaded for forgiveness from God and the tablets reappeared.
The drama ended with the declaration that now God Himself has descended on earth. He is the One who has declared, “I am that I am”. He is Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and each of us is His chosen messenger. It is our right to spread the love of Bhagawan. After the drama, Prasadam was distributed to all. After Bhajans Bhagawan was offered Arati and then He retired to His abode for the day.