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Monday, May 1, 2017

A LIVING SCRIPTURE ON IDEAL WOMANHOOD



“What is the most fascinating aspect of the relationship between Swami and His mother that you had the chance to personally witness?”

We asked Mrs. Ratanlal who is now 93; she was drawn to the divine fold in 1960s and since then was blessed to serve the Lord at close quarters, especially looking after His kitchen, all through her life.

The Jolly Relationship

“I saw The Mother for the first time in 1965,” she started. Her speech was slow but very measured, and her every word clear. 

“As I come from North India,” she continued, “Then I did not understand even a word of Telugu and The Mother did not speak Hindi, so I could not interact much with her initially. Nevertheless I would always pay my respects to her with folded hands but she never allowed me, or anybody for that matter, to go near her and touch her feet. She in fact repelled at such adoration. 

“With time as Swami gave me the privilege to take food for Him, I had the chance to go upstairs and into His dining room, and it is there that I saw the lovely interaction between The Mother and her Divine Son.”

Mrs. Ratanlal now paused, and a bright smile blossomed; maybe she was reminded of a beautiful scene.


Monday, April 24, 2017

WHEN A HEART BEATS WITH LOVE….


This is the story of a brave heart, Mr. Mihira Kumar Mishra, from a remote village of Orissa, who found hope and light in Baba’s Hospital in the darkest hour of his life, and having received this divine gift has now transformed his life into a saga of selfless service.


Born in Backward Bhagawanpur

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Sai Seva Orissa
 
Mr. Mihira Kumar Mishra

As an infant, when he wailed, his mother never picked him up and held him close to her bosom. 

When he cried out of hunger as a baby, she did not take him onto her lap and feed him. 

Or when he fell while trying to walk as a toddler, she never rushed to lift him up and stop his tears with her caresses. 

“I do not know what mother’s love is,” says Mihira Kumar Mishra.

It was such a tragic twist of destiny for this village boy that the one who gave him birth never acknowledged or realized his existence, let alone loved or cared for him. 

Right from the time he was born, his mother was mentally challenged – she lived in her own space and time, in her own way. And his father, though a concerned parent, was a man of little means; he taught small children in a nearby school.




TRANSFORMING THE TRIBALS - A Tale of Only Love



This account stands as a testament to Swami’s Sevadal volunteers who chose to put their own comforts second to living out His teachings to bring succor to the needy. 

These youth from Andhra Pradesh sought out the most isolated and neglected people of society - tribals suffering in desperate conditions - and willingly sacrificed their time, money and energy to make lasting improvements in their lives. 

It is also a testimonial to Bhagawan's words: God will support any service venture that is moved by sacred intentions. 

Read on to find out how these previously uncared for people are now finding their lives filled with His light and love, and how the work of the Sri Sathya Sai Sevadal volunteers is bringing about real social and spiritual development in their villages, redefining the concept of rural empowerment from within.

COLOSSAL TRAGEDY AND THE CURRENT OF SPONTANEOUS LOVE

...How the Sai Volunteers in Bihar braved perilous odds to reach out to the devastated and isolated


This is a story of two currents. One that destroyed and the other that saved. 

Both were mammoth and moving. 

How the most unexpected and unprecedented-in-half-a-century massive flood devastated millions of lives, destroyed crores worth of property and devastated hundreds of acres of cultivable land in one of the most populous and least developed states of India - Bihar, in the second fortnight of August 2008 is a shocking story, to say the least.

But what is equally astounding is how an Organisation consisting of a band of absolutely selfless workers plunged into this catastrophe without losing a second, to provide hope, succor and comfort to thousands who had resigned to their cruel fate and hopeless ends. 

They did not eat or sleep for days, and braved damage and death to ensure that their brethren are safe. 

This is a story of human empathy that flowed as swiftly as the speeding waters, giving true meaning to the most pious emotion of this universe - ‘love’.

HOW A 'HELL OF PAIN' BECAME A 'HEAVEN OF LOVE'

…By the sheer power of selfless love


If life is lost in dreaming, and being is lost in becoming, then creation is an eternal saga of searching for joy that is fulfilling. 

From wealth to power and positions, from fame to relationships, human beings wander all over, seeking that elusive and gratifying joy that may lend a sense of completion and meaning to their lives. 

In February 2009, I witnessed and recorded this pursuit of happiness in an unusual setting - an unattended and isolated ward of a premier hospital in Bhubaneswar, the capital city of the east Indian state of Orissa. 

What I saw simply left me spellbound. What was once a ‘god-forsaken’ corner has today transformed into a laboratory of pure love, where miracles happen almost on a daily basis. 

How did this happen? Who did it? And, finally, who is the happiest?


Read this real life story and your perspective of life may not be the same again.


THE SAI PANCHARATNA KRITIS

THEIR GENESIS AND FIRST PRESENTATION IN PRASANTHI


The Sai Pancharatna kritis are special carnatic compositions on Sri Sathya Sai Baba by renowned composer Mr. Raj Kumar Bharathi. The lyrics were done by Mrs. Vasanthi Lakshmi from Sri Sathya Sai Mirpuri College of Music.

These kritis have been sung on Aradhana Day (April 24) every year in Prasanthi Nilayam since 2015.

The story of how this beautiful endeavour started and how Bhagawan worked His magic in His own inimitable way is simply marvellous.

I captured some of this in my conversations with C G Sai Prakash and Balarama Chandran.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

THE MATCHLESS COSMIC SPLENDOUR...

When God Becomes the Guru


The Presence

How many times have we experienced this? 

The serene silence in the hall is suddenly filled with soothing music and sonorous chants of vedic hymns, all eyes are glued towards one direction, uninterruptedly, in full concentration.

There is an amazing one-pointedness in everybody’s mind and vision, not even a fraction of a second can be missed, every millisecond is precious, every moment is a blessing and as every moment passes by every pore of our being seems full, every cell of our body is as calm and composed as a great ascetic lost in meditation. 


We are filled with a rare feeling of fulfillment, something which can never be acquired in the external world, we have become so detached to the world which we have been clinging to like a leech clinging to its prey just a few minutes ago, we are filled with so much dispassion, all the wealth of the world cannot lure us to take that moment away from us.

There is so much quietness within us, there is so much peace; a kind of peace which makes us feel we are no more governed by our senses, we are mighty yet so calm…and we want that moment to become eternity, we want to just immerse ourselves in that experience, in that environment, in those sublime vibrations, we want to be lost forever in those moments, in that bliss…..we experience so much!

But Swami has not even spoken a word to us, He has not looked into our eyes, He has not come near us and taken our letter or listened to our problem, He has only just come out of His abode and moved amongst us. 

No, not even that - He has just alighted from the car and is sitting yards away from us silently and as serenely as ever on His sofa.

There is absolutely no communication, but yet so much is conveyed, so much is received and so much is given; there is so much achieved with so little effort; there is so much learnt without a word spoken and there is so much progress in so few moments.

Have we not felt like this innumerable times when we have had the priceless opportunity of seeing the Lord in front of us? How gratified we feel?

SAI'S KASTURI... A Phantasmagoric Fragrance Forever





I firmly believe there is none kinder than You,
to shower Grace on me. 

Tell me, is this not the reason why
I am at Your Lotus feet?

I firmly believe You will respond quick
When I do pray and plead. 

Tell me, is this not the reason why
I am crying aloud for You?

I firmly believe You are ever beside me
To guide my steps aright. 

Tell me, is this not the reason why
I am Yours thro’ day and night?

I firmly believe You can never say ‘No’
Whatever I ask from You. 

Tell me, is this not the reason why
I long for a glance from You?

What have You designed for me this time?
Why this dire delay to offer boons? 

However long You make me wait and wail
I will not leave. I will be standing still
Until Your loving eyes do turn to me.



Such a soul-stirring prayer, isn’t it? It makes you feel someone has so perfectly penned every pang of your heart, expressing every intimate emotion of your inner self. What if we say this was actually written by your Indweller! 

Imagine Swami preparing a greeting card especially for you to wish you Happy New Year and then penning this pearl of a prayer inside the card with the endearing words, “My dear one! Begin the New Year with the above Prayer.” 

And not only this, He inundates you with more love and blessings with the magic message: 

“Endowed with long life and sound health, surrounded by children, grandchildren and friends, keep on imbibing joy through devotion and wisdom. 

I bless that your days be spent in the service of Sarveshwara, the Lord of All. Spend your life in abundant peace and happiness. - Baba.”

Your heart would have skipped a few beats leaping with inexplicable ecstasy, isn’t it? Sounds too good to be true! 

But let me tell you, this is no imagination. This is exactly what Swami did for Professor Kasturi, His darling devotee, way back in 1960. And this is only half of the story. 

The way Swami passed on this specially crafted card to Professor Kasturi was even more exciting.

THE LEGEND OF SAI GEETHA… Unsurpassable and Eternal



“From the beginning there was an intimate relationship between Me and Sai Geetha. And this was a purely inner relationship.”
As Swami said these poignant words in a private session to the students and staff of His University on June 7, 2007, the silence that dawned in the Institute auditorium was too deep and dense, absolutely impenetrable. 



“When I mention about Sai Geetha, do not think I am emotional,” said Swami, His voice unsteady, overpowered with intense feelings. 

Looking at the Lord’s eyes oozing with overwhelming emotions, everybody’s heart plunged; it was as if the fragile organ had become too heavy to beat and given away, creating a crater deep within that was subsuming every cell of their being into it.

As everyone expectantly awaited with bated breath the next diamond of divine revelation, Swami, in a very soft but steady tone, continued, “When I mention about Sai Geetha, I am not deeply grief-stricken. In fact, I have no sorrows. I am never worried. I am not remorseful at all. It is only Vatsalyam – Supreme Maternal Love.” 

It is the kind of spontaneous undiluted love that a mother has for her new one, who is so pure, so innocent, completely dependent only on her mother, seeking nothing but her lap and on whose face you can verily see the pristine image of God. 

As a child grows and becomes strong, and intelligent, the god-like purity slowly diminishes and diluted with reasoning love looses spontaneity, but with Sai Geetha it was exactly the opposite.

SAI GEETHA... …A MYSTIFYING TALE OF UNMATCHED LOVE



A Glimpse of Swami - A Day like No Other 

This happened more than a decade and half ago. It was one serene morning in the hallowed hamlet of Puttaparthi. 


As the Sun cleared the dispiriting clutter of the night with its pleasantly penetrating rays of soothing morning light, Bhagavan, with His divine darshan, had filled the devotees’ hearts with the warmth of His love. 

The bhajans ended as usual, at nine-thirty, and Swami retired to His room. The Ashram, again, was enveloped in powerful silence. 

As the devotees dispersed carrying the serenity of the blissful morning in the chalices of their hearts, their minds and senses were submerged with only one thought: ‘when can I have the Lord’s darshan again?’ 


To hear the darshan music once more waft through the silent settings of Prasanthi Mandir and still their bliss-seeking souls, they knew they will have to wait at least five hours. 

This would be true, had it been any other day. But on this day they were in for a pleasant surprise. It was eleven thirty in the morning and quite unexpectedly they heard the siren of the police pilot that precedes Swamis’ convoy! 


Suddenly there was excitement everywhere; it was as if the ashram was in one instant catapulted into fifth gear. 

Swami was on one of His ‘unscheduled’ drives around the Mandir, when at times He would go as far as the Super Specialty Hospital, located about five kilometers away. 

But where exactly was He going that day? “Will He visit the Hostel?”, “or the Hospital?”, or “the School?” or “is it just a drive?” The guessing game was on in everyone’s mind. 


Either side of the road was bursting with devotees somehow trying to carve a little space for their necks so that they would not miss this bonus blessing of the day. 

All the children of the Easwaramma High School and students from the Hostel lined up on either side of the road. 

As His car reached near the hostel, it slowed down, and His hands were raised in blessing for all the beaming faces that thrust themselves to have a precious glimpse.

Sai Geetha Pleads with Her Master

At that time, Sai Geetha, Swami’s pet-elephant, had a huge vaulted roofed enclosure right in front of the Senior Boys’ Hostel. 

Apparently, hearing the sound of the siren, she rushed towards the gate and had it not been for her caretaker, she would have crushed it. 

She was out on the road even before the boys lined up. She seemed unduly excited that day, making it difficult for her mahout to hold her in check. Swami’s car approached and Sai Geetha moved forward.



THE MOTHER LIVES ON...






“To me, the power of Mother Easwaramma is not a concept, or an idea or a belief, it is an experience. In fact an experience as intense, powerful and real as it can be,” says Aravind Sai, an alumnus of Baba's university who has had the opportunity of singing the glory of the Mother of the Divine in the immediate physical presence of The Son at least six times.

Aravind Sai, along with Prabhakar and Raghuram, form the Burrakatha trio who have had the chance to perform any number of times in Bhagawan's presence, especially in the last five years of Swami's earthly sojourn.

Burrakatha, as many would know, is a traditional folkart of Andhra Pradesh wherein a story, largely taken from ancient epics and scriptures, is narrated in an interesting and engaging manner with a rich mixture of soulful songs, scintillating dialogues, and delightful humour. 

Before March 2007, the trio had performed in the Sai Kulwant Hall a couple of times. On each of these occasions Bhagawan's joy was obvious and copious. However it attained a new high on March 18, 2007. And the way it happened is where there are deep lessons for all humanity.


MOTHER TO THE AVATHAR - MOTHER TO THE WORLD



The enlightening life of Divine Mother Easwaramma



"I resolved on My birth. I decided who should be My mother!"

This is what Bhagawan declared in a discourse, describing His Advent on earth. 

What a blessing and privilege it is to be the Chosen Mother of the Lord! 

Yet it came with a monumental measure of responsibility. 

Indeed, Mother Easwaramma’s life was replete with challenges and lessons. 

Her biggest and enduring difficulty was that of acceptance – of the celestial nature of her 'little boy' who came into her life with a big master plan. 

Often, she was torn between her maternal instinct to protect and nurture her darling Sathya and the inevitable need to let go when Bhagawan declared His mission.

Mother Easwaramma was born Namagiriamma. Modest, humble and pure, she was ordained for the rarest of honours – to be in the league of the likes of Kaushalya, Devaki, Yashodha, and Mother Mary. 

When she married Pedda Venkama Raju at the young age of fourteen, her father-in-law Sri Kondama Raju asked that she change her name to Easwaramma.


Eventually, she accepted His divinity and became His devotee for life, receiving His benedictions; yet, in her role as the Mother, she spurred His compassion for mankind into tangible acts of philanthropy. 

In retrospect, few women have influenced the destiny of this planet as silently and as significantly as this great Mother did. 

In the divine discourse on the occasion of His 81st Birthday, Bhagawan fondly recalled:

Easwaramma was not the name given to the mother of this body at the time of her birth. She was named so by Kondama Raju, the grandfather of this body. 

He was a noble soul who had realised My Divinity even when I was a child. Realising that she was to be the mother of Easwara (the Lord), he changed her name to Easwaramma. 

She was not an ordinary woman; Easwaramma was a great soul who was adored and admired by one and all. Wherever she went, people greeted her with great love.

Easwaramma - The Crown of Motherhood



"Easwaramma was the chosen one. I chose her to be My mother. That is the intimate relationship between Mother Easwaramma and Myself."


That was the emphatic declaration of Bhagawan on the most auspicious Easwaramma Day, May 6, 2001. 

In no uncertain terms Swami communicated how lofty, grand and glorious is the stature of Mother Easwaramma. 

The thronging crowd in Sai Ramesh Hall exploded into loud applause that evening as they heard these Divine words from Bhagawan.

Easwaramma - Mother Divine

Mother Easwaramma, truly, was a divine effulgence which graced mother Earth with a sacred mission and purpose by the inscrutable will of the Divine just like Kaushalya (Mother of Sri Rama), Devaki (Mother of Sri Krishna) or Mary (Christ’s Mother). 

She underwent similar agonies and ecstasies, fears and dilemmas, trials and triumphs, and ultimately bliss and beatitude that the Divine Mothers of yore passed through.

Like Krishna, Swami was the eighth child of Mother Easwaramma and the turbulent times she went through before He took birth were akin to what Devaki experienced before Krishna graced her lap. 

None of Mother Devaki’s previous seven children could escape from the heinous designs of the demon Kamsa. Easwaramma too suffered at the hands of cruel fate. She had four miscarriages in a row before the Light of the World descended as her Son.