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Then & Now
A day in Ashram


(11th -14th April 2005)

Prasanthi Nilayam was teeming with thousands of devotees from Kerala, especially the Sai Youth numbering about 1300 young men and women from different districts of Kerala. They got the coveted opportunity to sit in the front rows of the Hall during the Vishu celebrations, which was held for four days. A Youth Conference on the theme “Able and Noble Instruments of Bhagawan” was held in the 1st floor of North Indian Canteen on 11th, 12th and 13th April 2005. Speakers from the Institute and Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation addressed the youth. Bhagawan graciously blessed the youth with two discourses, one on the inaugural day of the Conference and the other on the concluding day of the Conference. During these days, members of the Sai Youth had the opportunity to share their experiences with the audience in the Divine Presence. There were also music concerts by eminent singers from Kerala. On 14th April 2005, which happened to be the New Year Day for Keralites and Tamilians, singers from Kerala and the Sundaram Bhajan group from Chennai, Tamil Nadu enthralled the audience with their soul-stirring musical performances.

11th April 2005

This morning, Swami came out for Darshan at 7.40 a.m. As Swami took a full round of the Hall in the golf cart, He observed the youth sitting at a distance in the Hall. Swami called the State President of Kerala, Sri Mukundan and asked him seat the youth, (both in the gents’ side and ladies’ side) in the front rows of the Hall. Swami was so keen to give the youth a vantage position that He asked the students to move to one side.

By 7.50 a.m. Swami was sitting on the sofa placed at the centre of the dais. After 5 minutes, the Veda chanting stopped. Sri Mukundan went over to the microphone and made a few introductory remarks. He declared the theme of the Youth Conference as “Able and Noble Instruments of Bhagawan”. Referring to the loving act of Bhagawan in calling the youth to sit in the front, Sri Mukundan recalled Swami saying, “Take one step towards Me and I shall take a 100 towards you.” But this step should be in the right direction, he added. He further said that as youth, not only should we remember ‘ABC – Always Be Careful’ but should also keep in mind ‘DEFG – Don’t Ever Forget God’. He recalled how once Swami while speaking to some devotees asked them what gift He should give them. Then Swami Himself said that there could be no greater gift than His coming down here to be with us!!

At 8.05 a.m. Hon. Justice Radhakrishnan from Kerala took over the microphone and spoke a few words. He was followed by Sri Raghavendran in Malayalam. At 8.15 a.m. Bhagawan blessed the youth by consenting to deliver His Divine Message. (Full text of Divine Discourse is given elsewhere.) Bhagawan concluded the Discourse at 8.50 a.m. Bhajans began and Prasadam was distributed to all. At 9.15 a.m. Swami stood up and went towards the interview room while Bhajans continued with devotional fervour. At 9.40 a.m. Swami was offered Arati and then He retired to His abode.

In the afternoon, Bhagawan blessed everyone with His Divine Darshan at 2.30 p.m. A group of ladies singers presented a bouquet of songs at Swami’s Lotus Feet. This went on till 3.35 p.m. after which the gents from Kerala commenced Bhajans. They sang devotional songs as well as Bhajans. At 4.10 p.m. Swami stood up and walked into the interview room asking the singers to continue their songs.

What followed was a most inspiring session. In fact, this Vishu celebration and the Youth Camp was a unique music treat for everyone. Every session, Swami would signal to them to begin their performance, which would continue for hours. They had a wide variety of songs to offer to Bhagawan, namely, Thyagaraja Kritis, Light Devotional Songs, Bhajans sung in Carnatic style, etc. Each song was vibrant with feelings and enraptured the heart of one and all! The singers kept up the tempo till 4.35 p.m. when Swami went into the Bhajan Hall. There, He asked the students to start the Bhajans! At 5.00 p.m. Arati was offered to Bhagawan and then He proceeded towards the Poornachandra Auditorium.

12th April 2005

This morning Swami came out for Darshan at 7.40 a.m. Four youth participants addressed the audience, two each from the gents’ and ladies’ side. They shared their ineffable joy to be part of this unique Youth Camp. They were followed by an elderly Bal Vikas Guru who delivered an insightful talk giving wonderful tips to the Youth Camp participants. From 8.40 a.m. to 9.20 a.m., mellifluous Carnatic music recital filled the air with spiritual vibrations.

In the afternoon, Bhagawan came out for Darshan at 2.50 p.m. At 3.00 p.m., the Kerala Youth presented a professionally choreographed drama – “Uthisthata Jagratha” (Arise Awake). The play portrayed several scenes from the life of Swami Vivekananda – depicted as flashbacks in the course of a grandfather advising his grandson who had come from USA to India – his homeland for the first time. The play ended at 3.35 p.m. The participants were blessed with photographs with Swami. Bhagawan was very happy with their performance and spoke to each one of them.

A very touching incident occurred at this point. A youth prayed to Swami asking for something. He kept pointing at Swami’s sofa. Swami asked him again what he wanted. He again pointed at the sofa. Swami looked at Sri Mukundan and Sri Nitin. On prodding him further, the youth hesitantly prayed to Swami asking for His handkerchief which was kept on the sofa! Instantly, with a loving smile, Bhagawan took the handkerchief and gave it to him. As the youth were settling down in their places, Bhagawan signalled for the Music programme to be started. The programme which started at 3.40 p.m. went on till 5.25 p.m. In the course of the songs, Bhagawan called the lead singer in front and materialised a gold chain and placed it in his hands! The delighted singer went back and started singing Bhajans in Carnatic style and Marathi Abhangs. Swami got up at 5.00 p.m. and went inside the interview room, but asked the singer to continue singing. At 5.25 p.m. Swami was offered Arati.

13th April 2005

Swami came out for Darshan at 7.25 a.m. Swami took a full round of the Hall in the golf cart and then walked towards the sofa. This morning too there were two gent speakers and two lady speakers. As the Gent speakers came forward to offer their rose to Swami, Sri Mukundan signalled to them to wait until Swami sat down on the sofa. Watching this, Swami immediately told Sri Mukundan to allow them to come forward. Swami exclaimed in Tamil – “Neengal Chuma Irango …” (you keep quiet). They have come from far off places – why do you stop them?

The second speaker got a chain from Swami and then Bhagawan called for the first speaker who was seated on the dais, and created a ring for him. Their joy knew no bounds. After the lady speakers, Swami delivered His Divine Discourse. (Full text of Divine Discourse is already given.)

It was 8.40 a.m. and Swami asked for the music programme to begin. As the participants were getting ready, the main singers in front looked for some water to wet their throats. Observing this, before water could reach them from behind, Swami told Sri Nitin to give them His glass of water. By then, a bottle of water had arrived, but Swami offered His glass of water!

The singers would not miss this great opportunity at any cost. One of them came forward with a tumbler and Sri Nitin poured out the sacred water from the tumbler into their tumbler! What a blessing! Each one took a sip of the Prasadam. But that was not the end of it. There was some water left in the tumbler. Bhagawan asked for it and He drank the remaining water! That is the pure Love of the Lord!

The singers were again at their best. A couple of devotional songs and Bhajans kept everyone spellbound. At 9.25 a.m. Swami got up and went inside the interview room. Bhajans continued as usual! At 9.50 a.m. Arati was offered to Swami.

In the evening, Bhagawan’s golf cart glided its way to the Kulwant Hall at 3.15 p.m. Swami asked for the cart to be turned towards the interview room. His Excellency Sri Narayan Datt Tiwari – the Chief Minister of Uttaranchal had come for Bhagawan’s Darshan. Swami spoke to him for some time in the portico and then came out and sat down on the sofa. It was 3.25 p.m. The Veda chanting stopped and a new set of virtuoso singers from Kerala held the stage today with their Carnatic classical music! Bhagawan sat there till 4.15 p.m. Sri N.D. Tiwari was seated behind on a chair along with the Vice Chancellor. The singers rendered Bhajans, songs, Tukaram Abhangs, a steady flow of sweet spontaneous music, making everyone forget themselves. At 4.15 p.m. Swami went in and blessed the Chief Minister with an interview. Even after Swami went in, the music continued as per His command. At 5.15 p.m. the Bhajan group from Kerala took over. By now Swami had come out and was seated again. They sang for 5 minutes and at 5.20 p.m. Arati was offered to Bhagavan. As Bhagawan’s golf cart was moving towards Poornachandra, Nadaswaram and Panchavadyam music alternately made their entry as it was the eve of the Tamil New Year and Vishu.

14th April 2005

First of all, we wish everyone a happy Vishu and Tamil New Year! Nadaswaram and Panchavadyam music were reverberating in the Hall, and at sharp 7.30 a.m. Bhagawan made His grand entry in the Hall. The Mandir was decorated with banners of Swami’s sayings.

Colouful umbrellas stood erect along the outer wall of the Darshan Hall, giving a typical Kerala ambience! At 7.45 a.m. Swami was on the dais, blessing the Kerala and the Tamil Nadu State Sai Samithi presidents. Then the Veda chanting stopped. Singers from Kerala began their scintillating music. After a while, the Sundaram Bhajan group took over with their Bhajans. Swami was standing all the while giving wonderful Darshan to all the devotees!

Bhajans went on till 8.15 a.m. Mr. G.K. Raman from Chennai, was the first speaker. He prayed to Bhagawan for a peaceful new year, and then specifically addressed the Kerala Youth stressing on the importance of character. Practice of Truth, Integrity and Honesty, he said was the only way to become a good human being. Finally, he offered gratitude to Bhagawan on behalf of all the people from Chennai for the gift of life-saving water bestowed by Him on the city!

The speaker recalled his unique privilege of being a student of the first set of Bal Vikas students in Madras in 1969. He also happened to belong to the first batch of Seva Dal and the first batch of the Bal Vikas Gurus in Chennai. Swami had performed his Upanayanam (sacred thread ceremony) when he was just 10 years old. Bhagawan had then asked him the meaning of Upanayanam. Swami said that Upa means ‘near’ and Nayanam means ‘eye’. Therefore Upanayanam means one is taken near the eye of wisdom!

Bhagawan had cautioned him that even if he was not be able to perform Sandhyavandanam everyday, he must never give up chanting of the Gayatri. Gayatri Mantra can be chanted at anytime, Swami had said. It can be chanted while bathing – this would become an Abhisheka to the Goddess. It can be chanted while eating too.

In 1985, Swami had given his family an interview where Bhagawan asked him what job he was in. When he told Swami that he was a lawyer, Bhagawan smilingly told him, “Be a lawyer and not a liar”! He recalled some more teachings of Swami that have helped him extensively in his life.

It was 8.30 a.m. and Sri Mukundan came forward to address the audience. Sri Mukundan shared the joyous feelings of the Kerala Youth with Bhagawan and said that they had resolved to do Grama Seva in each and every village of Kerala. He prayed to Bhagawan to give them the strength to undertake this massive Labour of Love!

He recalled an instance where some devotees travelling with Swami, looking at the evening sky exclaimed – what a beautiful sky it is! To this Bhagawan told them that they were so lost in the painting and they were forgetting the Painter Himself! Never forget the Creator! Creator is more important than Creation!

Once as Swami was approaching the students, they immediately cleared the way for Swami. Looking at this, Swami said, “What is the use of making this way. Make a way in your heart for Me!” In yet another episode, Swami was supervising the drama troupe just before their performance. He asked all the students who was their director. All said ‘no’ and finally the teacher in charge said that he was only the assistant director because Swami Himself was the actual Director. To this, Bhagawan replied that the Avatar needs no assistant directors. He needs only instruments!

Praying to Swami to bless all the 1300 youth from Kerala to become able and noble instruments in His Divine Mission, Mr. Mukundan concluded his inspiring talk. It was 8.40 a.m. The Sundaram Bhajan group started singing Bhajans. At 9.00 a.m. Bhagawan received Arati and retired for the morning.

In the evening, Swami came out at 2.50 p.m. He cut across the Hall and came onto the dais. He spoke to Sri Ramani, the State President of Tamil Nadu, enquiring about the evening programme. Three members from the Sundaram Group came forward with a card. They started their programme at 3.00 p.m. and it went on continuously till 4.45 p.m. In the course of the programme, Swami called one of the singers and materialised a ring for him. The programme for the latter half of evening was a set of songs by ladies from a Chennai Samithi. Throughout, Swami was very much involved and kept beat with His fingers. At the end, the Sundaram Group members got the opportunity of being photographed with Bhagawan. Swami also spoke to many of them. Arati was performed to Bhagawan. As the golf cart moved towards Poornachandra, once again Nadaswaram and Panchavadyam music filled the Hall.

The past four days were truly filled with great devotion and noble feelings. Time ticked away so fast and Bhagawan gave Himself totally to saturate the devotees and the Youth with His Love and Grace! Sri Rama Navami is fast approaching. We will get back to you soon with Rama Navami news!