Aum Sri Sai Ram.
Tens of thousands of devotees from different parts of the world
gathered to be at the Lotus Feet for this auspicious and joyous
occasion of the 78th Birthday Celebrations of our Lord, Bhagawan Sri
Sathya Sai Baba. Prasanthi Nilayam wore a festive vesture with the
Mandir being richly caparisoned with festoons and beautiful flower
The week-long celebrations commenced with the traditional Rathotsavam
or Chariot Festival on the morning of the 18th of November. This is an
annual ritual in which the idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana are taken
in a palanquin in a procession to the Old Mandir in the village of
Puttaparthi, followed by a chariot bearing the idol of Lord Krishna,
to the accompaniment of Vedam chanting and Bhajans by the students. In
the evening, the Bal Vikas students of Kerala presented a programme
titled "Bhakta Purandaradasa" based on the life of Saint Purandaradasa,
a holy man of South India. The presentation depicted how a worldly man
extremely attached to wealth, undergoes a change in his outlook and is
inspired to renounce all his wealth and spend the rest of his life
singing the glories of the Lord.
19th November 2003 was celebrated as Ladies Day. Bhagawan lit the lamp
in front of a portrait of Mother Easwaramma to mark the commencement
of the morning's programme. The students of the Sri Sathya Sai Primary
school then presented a dance programme depicting various episodes
from the Bhagawan's life. This was followed by a drama entitled "Ek
Shakti, Roop Anek", in which the different aspects of the feminine
principle like Love and Sacrifice were shown as exemplified in the
lives of Rani Jhansi Laxmi Bai and Florence Nightingale. The evening
programme had Poornachandra Auditorium as the venue and featured talks
by five lady speakers and a Carnatic Vocal rendition by the renowned
artist Sudha Raghunathan.
20th and 21st of November saw plays staged in the evening at the Sai
Kulwant Hall by the Bal Vikas children of Singapore and Canada
respectively. The plays elaborated on the teachings of Bhagawan and
how they are to be practiced in our daily lives, be it at the
individual level, the family level or at the community level.
The 22nd Convocation of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher
Learning was conducted in the Sai Kulwant Hall on afternoon of 22nd
November. On this day, Bhagawan as the Revered Chancellor of the
Institute blesses the students who have graduated that year and gives
His Benedictory Discourse. It is an occasion that remains as a
cherished memory in the mind of every student of the Institute.
The Chief Guest at this year's proceedings was Shri Bhairon Singh
Shekawat, the Honourable Vice-President of India. The students were
administered the oath to remain true to the values of the Institute to
the end of their lives. After the presentation of medals to the
students who had passed with distinction in their respective
disciplines, the ChiefGuest, Shri Shekawat, addressed the gathering.
He spoke about the unique and holy atmosphere that he pervaded the
ashram and expressed his gratitude to Bhagawan for the various social
projects that He has undertaken for the uplift of the needy in the
country. He exhorted the students to use the knowledge they had gained
during their stay in the Institute, in service of the nation.
Bhagawan then delivered His Divine Benedictory Discourse. He reminded
the students of their great good fortune of having taken birth in the
sacred land of Bharat and exalted the values that a true Bharathiya
(resident of Bharat) stands for. He advised the students that the
degrees that they have earned as not as important as the values that
they have learned being students of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of
Higher Learning. He declared that the most important thing that
students must always strive for, is the Love of God, which is the most
precious wealth that can be gained. The proceedings concluded with the
singing of the National Anthem by the entire gathering.
Later that evening the students of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of
Higher Learning presented a drama entitled "Tera Tujhko Arpan" based
on the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita, that the gifts that God has
given us like the talents or skills we possess, has to be offered back
to the Lord Himself by using the gifts in the service of the Lord.
They must not be frittered away in the pursuit of wealth. The play
told the story of two singers, one who decides to make a career out of
his musical talents and the other who instead uses his gift to sing
the glories of the Lord's Name. At the height of his fame, the
career-minded singer loses his voice. His friend then advises him to
use his voice to sing for God. Only then does he regain his voice. The
evening concluded with arati offered to Bhagawan.
The dawn of 23rd November arrived with Bhagawan in his limitless
Compassion granting His Divine Darshan to all assembled in the Sai
Kulwant Hall, and added to their joy by going twice around the hall.
The morning programme saw three distinguished speakers addressing the
vast gathering of eager devotees. The first speaker was Justice
Bhagawati, Former Chief Justice of India. He was followed by Dr.
Jumsai, Director of the Institute of Sathya Sai Education of Thailand
and also former Member of Parliament of Thailand. The third speaker
was Dr. Michael Goldstein, Chairman of the Overseas Sathya Sai
Organisation and of the Prashanti Council.
Bhagawan then gave His Nectarine Discourse. He spoke on the greatness
of mothers like Putlibai and Jijabai who gave birth to such celebrated
sons of this land as Gandhiji and Chattrapathi Shivaji. He then
related various incidents surrounding His Advent and from His Life,
which with their miraculous nature, convinced all who witnessed these
incidents about His Divinity.
In the afternoon, Bhagawan, to the surprise and enormous delight of
all devotees, entered the Sai Kulwant Hall, dressed in a bright yellow
robe. It was a beautiful sight for all to watch as devotees feasted on
the radiant Form of the Lord. The evening programme featured two
internationally renowned musicians - Parveen Sultana and Dana
Gillespie. Mrs. Parveen Sultana began with a song composed on Bhagawan,
by her Guru, Ustad Dilshad Khan. She then went on to regale the
audience with her soulful rendition of Meera Bhajans. Ms. Dana
Gillespie, with her songs of inspiration that contain teachings of
saints and sacred books from all over the world, enthralled the
gathering and made it an evening for all to remember.
On the 24th the Bal Vikas children from the state of Tamil Nadu staged
a play titled "Bhaktha Ambarisha" about the Lords immense love for His
devotee and how he does not allow any disaster befall His beloved
children. The following day, the Bal Vikas children of Bihar depicted
Daasya Bhakthi, the path of servitude, which is one of the nine forms
of devotion, using episodes from the life of Hanuman, the great
devotee of Lord Rama.
Thus concluded the 78th Birthday Celebrations of our Lord, leaving
everyone with beautiful memories to carry home and cherish.
Jai Sai Ram.