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Then & Now
A day in Ashram


11th and 12th February 2005

As the golf cart glided slowly into Sai Kulwant Hall, the devotees’ faces gleamed with joy. It was 8.50 a.m. Bhagavan took a full round of the Hall and entered the portico of the Mandir. He took a devotee into the interview room. In the evening Bhagavan came into the Hall at 3.45 p.m., took a full round of the Hall. One could see the joyful faces of devotees as Bhagavan passed through them, some closed their eyes and contemplated on the beautiful form of the Lord trying to recollect the moment, some others expressed their happiness to fellow devotees, having succeeded in giving a letter to Bhagawan.

On the 12th evening, Bhagawan entered the Hall at around 3.15. Swami took a full round of the Hall and went into the interview room.

13th February 2005

Being Sunday, students from the Institute, Higher Secondary School and Primary School had come for Darshan. Bhagawan came out at 7.25 a.m. to the Hall. He took a full round of Sai Kulwant Hall and finally got down from the golf cart and walked towards the sofa, which was kept facing the gents’ side. The Vedic chants were going on in full swing and everyone had a wonderful Darshan of Bhagawan as He stood there for quite some time radiating His infinite bliss and grace on all. 

There was a gentle smile and His face was beaming with immense joy as He cast His loving glance on the devotees present there. Then He began moving slowly in the dais towards the ladies’ side, where the Primary School children were seated. It was as though their innocent love and yearning for Swami was pulling Him towards them! He went close to that end of the dais, and as He moved closer the children chanted the Vedic Mantras in a higher pitch. Swami signalled to the core Vedam Group to stop chanting. Now the opportunity had come in full for the Primary School students! The Vedic Mantra being chanted was Bhu Suktam; the entire hall reverberated with their voices in unison. After a while, Swami again asked the core Vedam Group to resume the chanting. Meanwhile, Bhagawan kept moving forward and entered the interview room.

In the evening, Swami came out at 3.10 p.m. for Darshan. He walked slowly along the dais just as He had done in the morning and by 3.35 p.m., He was inside the interview room, with some devotees. Bhajans commenced as usual at 5.00 p.m. and Swami retired to His abode at 5.30 p.m.

15th February 2005

This evening, Bhagawan was came to the Hall at 3.15 p.m. The tenth class students of the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School were ready with their ‘Gratitude’ programme. The ‘Gratitude’ programme is a presentation by the outgoing batches of the School and the Institute in the Divine Presence, at the end of every year. This is an occasion wherein they pour out their hearts to Bhagawan expressing their deep sense of gratitude for all the Love and Blessings showered by Him. 

It is definitely not a farewell, for in this place, with Swami, there can be no farewell. It is only an occasion to express their Love and Gratitude. Swami sat down on the sofa and at 3.30 p.m. and signalled to the students to begin the programme. The tenth class students started their presentation with the chanting of Gayatri Mantra. They had aptly titled their presentation as Krutagnyata Ke Ye Kshan – “These Moments of Gratitude”. Two students anchored the programme. They would come forward and give a brief introduction about each module .

There were basically three modules. One was sharing of personal experiences by students. The second was enacting of some real life situations where the students take decisions to solve the dilemma, after consulting their conscience. The skits illustrated how Swami’s students are tuned to their conscience and are ever eager to act in a way that makes Bhagawan happy! The third module was group songs.

The presentation concluded at 4.20 p.m. Swami was very pleased with their presentation and materialised a chain for one of the boys who anchored the programme. As the boy stood across the railing, head bent down in reverence, Swami placed the chain round his neck.

Bhagawan got up and signalled to the boys to arrange themselves for the photograph session. All of them assembled in groups in front of Swami. Cameras clicked for a while. Subsequently, something very wonderful happened! The boy who got a chain, was asked by Bhagawan to come onto the dais. He stood beside Swami for the coveted photograph. After the photograph was taken, the boy as an expression of his gratitude for his teachers, prayed to Swami for giving all the teachers a group photograph!

Bhagawan was ecstatic at this prayer of the boy. What a sense of love for his teachers! Swami immediately gave His consent and all the School Teachers gathered around Bhagawan for a group photograph. That is truly the hallmark of a Sai Student!

Bhajans began and by 5.00 p.m. At the end of the Bhajans, Swami retired for the day.

16th February 2005 

This evening, Swami came out for Darshan at 3.45 p.m. At 4.00 p.m. Bhagawan instructed the core group to stop Vedam chanting. A microphone was placed next to Swami’s sofa. A student from the 2nd MBA class gave a crisp and interesting talk interwoven with Kabir’s Dohas and the poetry of the Alwars.

The second peaker was a student from the 1st M.Sc. class who delivered a thought provoking 20 minute talk, centering on the oneness of man and God. He profusely elaborated on the analogy of the tree trunk and the leaves, to drive home the point that God and man are indeed one and the same, just as all the leaves and the trunk have come from the same seed! 

Next the Warden of the Senior boys hostel was asked by Bhagawan to share his thoughts with the audience. The Warden spoke at length delineating Bhagawan’s expositions on Chamatkar – Sanskar – Paropakar – Sakshatkar. He commenced his talk by chanting some verses from the Vedas and then elaborated on the above theme. He struck a note of humour saying that he was under the impression that as the Warden he only had to make arrangements for the speakers, but he was in for a surprise today when Bhagawan asked him to address the audience.He remarked that Bhagawan always says – My Boys are My voice. My Devotees are My voice.

The fourth and the final speaker for the evening was a student from the 2nd M.Sc class, who gave a scintillating talk in Hindi. He spoke for about 15 minutes in chaste Hindi, leaving everyone stunned with his clarity of thought and striking examples. He received a loud applause from the audience. Bhagawan blessed each one of the speakers after their talk and even spoke a few words with them.

Then the Bhajans commenced. It was 5.05 p.m. when Swami was offered Arati.

17th February 2005

Chinese New Year - 9th February 2005

Chinese New Year celebrations starts with the New Moon on the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. The 15th day of the new year is called the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated at night with lantern displays and children carrying lanterns in a parade. The Chinese calendar is based on a combination of lunar and solar movements. The lunar cycle is about 29.5 days. In order to "catch up" with the solar calendar the Chinese insert an extra month once every few years (seven years out of a 19-year cycle). This is the same as adding an extra day on leap year. This is why, according to the solar calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year. New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are celebrated as a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving. The celebration was traditionally highlighted with a religious ceremony given in honour of Heaven and Earth, the gods of the household and the family ancestors. The sacrifice to the ancestors, the most vital of all the rituals, united the living members with those who had passed away. Departed relatives are remembered with great respect because they were responsible for laying the foundations for the fortune and glory of the family. Year 2005 is the Year of the Rooster by the Chinese calendar.

Coinciding with the Chinese New Year celebrations, a group of devotees from a few Middle East countries had assembled in Sai Kulwant Hall to celebrate their New Year. They sang devotional songs and Bhajans in English and Chinese. They struck the cords of devotion in their hearts and Bhagawan reciprocated by receiving their offering for a full one hour and five minutes. They sang until 4.05 p.m. They even sang a song in Telugu. One could see the clarity in their pronunciation, painstakingly learnt to please their Lord and express their love for Bhagawan.

At 4.10 p.m. Bhagawan asked the coordinator of the group to share his thoughts with the audience. He said that they all had assembled at Prasanthi Nilayam to celebrate the Chinese New Year, marking the Birthday of their heavenly Father. Here they were so fortunate to be in the very presence of their Divine Parent – Sai Baba. He also shared some of his personal experiences.

He went on to describe how Swami taught him the skills related to Disaster Management by giving him the opportunity to serve the needy people in North Korea. In 1997, when North Korea was hit by tidal waves, he went along with his team to serve them. They had to find a special variety of paddy that could be grown in the brackish water since their fields were inundated with it. Finally they could get this variety from Bangladesh. They helped the people by providing them with food stock – rice as well as corn – tonnes of them were transported by railway carriages. They also donated cows and bulls to help them earn a living. Fruit trees, especially apple saplings were distributed to enable them to earn a living.

He ended his talk at 4.20 p.m. As he came onto the dais, Swami waved His hand and created a beautiful gold chain with a locket for him. He stood bowing down and Bhagawan placed the chain round his neck.

The next speaker, a professor from the Institute, began his talk by stating that thousands of devotees come here to have the Darshan of Bhagawan. Devotees flock here from hundreds of countries all over the world. All this happens without Swami visiting any of those countries. This is the greatest miracle!!

He narrated an incident of a boy who fell down from the roof of a multi-storeyed building. However, Swami saved him in time. Later, the father expressed his gratitude to Swami and asked Bhagawan, “Swami thank You so much for saving my child. But when did You come there to save him?” To this Bhagawan replied, “My dear child, I did not go there, I was already there!” Bhagawan is omnipresent!

Once when Swami was giving a Discourse, Prof. Kasturi translated a statement saying that Bhagawan is present all over the world. At this, Bhagawan intervened and said – not world – say Universe (Viswamu). Bhagawan is present in the entire Universe! He is the support to all His devotees. He is ever ready to extend a helping hand. He is the only One whom we can depend upon. 

The speaker opined that the word ‘Sai Ram’ had become the most commonly used word today. All of us are united by this word. It is the most powerful antibiotic and is very essential these days when people are miles and miles away from smiles!

He stated that Bhagawan Baba is like an intercontinental bank wherein we can draw any number of cheques! He will always come to our support. Once when the speaker made this statement while speaking in Bhagawan’s Presence, Swami asked him to repeat the line. So, he said, “Swami will always support us.” Bhagawan said, “Not just support you, He will come and literally lift you up!”

He extolled Bhagawan saying that ‘Sai Drushti’ is like ‘Parijata Vrushti’. His look is like a shower of Parijata Flowers! He quoted the incident of a Malaysian guitarist who was paralysed by a nervous disease that disabled the movement of his hand. However, after sitting for Darshan for three days and receiving the loving glance of Bhagawan, the guitarist was back to normalcy and was able to play on his guitar! 

He concluded his talk, quoting another interesting episode that took place in Brindavan. It was about a Buddhist devotee who had a very peculiar operation in his young age. Only his mother and the concerned doctor were aware of this fact. Years later, when he came to Bhagawan, Swami spoke to him and told him that he had only three chambers in his heart when he was born! The devotee laughed on hearing this. But later, when he rang up to his mother, she was stunned, for nobody other than her and the doctor were aware of his ailment.

As the speaker wound up and came towards the dais, Swami again waved His hand and created a large emerald ring. He looked at the professor and smilingly said, “Not for you!” The speaker who had just received a gold chain a few minutes ago was blessed with the ring too. Swami lovingly slipped the ring onto his finger!

At the end, Prasadam was distributed to all. Bhajans began at 4.45 p.m. At 5.00 p.m., Bhagawan was offered Arati and then He retired to His abode. The devotees from the Middle East were saturated with His Love and Grace and a sense of contentment, which shone on their smiling cheerful faces!