The Lord of Thousand Moons
Sahasra Poorna Chandra Darshanam? What it entails?
Even as the last strains of the soul-stirring bhajans fill the air, and the enthralling leelas of the Supreme are being extolled by scholars, Prasanthi Nilayam is gearing up for the epochal Sahasra Poorna Chandra Mahotsavam.
This grand event is to commemorate the completion of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s 83rd year in His earthly sojourn as the avatar gazes at the full moon pearling in the sky for the 1000th time.
Viewing a full moon every month and twelve such in a year, a person who completes eighty two years of age would have beheld 1000 full moons after subsequent inclusion of a few months following completion. This occasion, often a rarity, calls for an elaborate celebration where the kith and kin of the person conduct rituals as stated in the scriptures.
With reference to Vedic astrology, it is believed that the nine planets take 120 years to complete a cycle around the Sun; likewise a human is bestowed with a life expectancy of 120 years. After fifty years of age, every tenth birthday thereafter is deemed as a blessing of the gods and the milestone is celebrated with great pomp and vigour.
On completing sixty years, people conduct the Ugra Ratha Shanti seeking divine benediction, popularly known as Shashti Poorthi. As the landmark of 70 years is crossed, Bheema Ratha Shanti is ceremoniously conducted in honour of "Bheema ratha", Lord Shiva the embodiment of time. On successful completion of 82 years of age, the Sahasra Chandra Darshanam is celebrated. Vedas refer to this as ‘Aseetidwayam’ which is also referred to as Vedayushya.
Man, according to Vedaantha and Yoga philosophies, is charged with a spark of the universal soul. Therefore, such functions are conducted to worship the atman residing in him so that he can unite with it ultimately. Every yajna has two phases, a preparatory phase and an executive phase. Thus, in consonance with tradition, the person completing 82 years would be given a ceremonial shower with honey, milk and water and be decked in new clothes for the ceremony. This would be followed by a rendition of Vedic hymns and chants by scholars.
Consecutively, a consecrated vessel, symbolic of Lord Mahavishnu would be worshipped alongside the Sun and the Moon who represent the passage of time. As this ritual nears completion, the holy water collected in the kalasham (brass pot) would be sanctified using the sacred leaves- mango, peepal, banyan, basil, and sacred fig. Subsequently, the nine planets would be pleased by performing a sacrifice to ward off the evil eye.
After these rituals, the holy ablutions would be offered to Lord Shiva after invoking His divine presence by reciting the Rudram. Here ends the preparatory phase.
In the executive phase of the yajna, the beneficiary is made to occupy a throne positioned in a prominent place for all to see. He is bathed with holy waters from all the sacred rivers along with many other precious gems etc though a sieve. Following which, Gandham (sandal paste representing earth), Pushpam (flowers representing Aakaasam, the sky) are offered first. Then, Dhoopam (fragrant fumes representing air) and Deepam (the lighted lamp) are also offered, accompanied by ringing of the hand bell- all representing fertility and abundance.
The entire executive phase of the yagna is brought to an end when all the Vedic scholars are honored with generous gifts. They are usually gifted with dhanam and dhaanyam - wealth and grains. In ancient practices, cows and large areas of land were also given as a token of gratitude. This generosity is believed to cleanse all the sins and grant liberation. The mere sight of the person who undertakes this Vedic exercise is believed to confer immense good fortune.
Generally, such an activity is organized by the relatives of the elderly and is undertaken for one’s own benefit. But the yajna in Puttaparthi held to glorify the Lord of the Universe is conducted for a greater purpose- to bring upon peace and happiness in the world, and redeem man from the vicious cycle of birth and death. This is the distinction between an ordinary individual and a divine incarnation.
This is a yajna where God is both the host and guest. He will bathe in the nectar of devotion, be crowned by the jewels of truth, righteousness, peace, love, and nonviolence and will be seated on a throne in every devotee’s heart. As devotees from far and wide converge to behold the biggest event chronicled in the cosmic diary, it is time for us to pause for a moment and reflect on what our beloved Swami has come to teach us for a lifetime.
To say that such an auspicious event is being celebrated with fanfare and gaiety is an understatement. It is an occasion of sanctified mayhem. It is a happening that no mortal can fathom. Only a divine scribe can pen incessantly the splendour and magnitude of this yagna. The Sahasra Poorna Chandra Darshanam is a celebration of life and is an open invitation to everybody residing in all worlds.
Sages and seers of the yester years have taken the form of purohits to perform the rituals. The Vedas and the creator Brahma are the priests and heaven will be the audience. The sky will act as the sieve into which the gods and goddesses will pour perennial waters; the Lord will be studded and bedecked with precious diamonds, rubies and emeralds. For it is to you oh Lord, that the universe belongs to.
It is a fortune of many a lifetime for us to witness this yagna where divinity is a symbol of universal integration. Time and again, the formless has assumed form to avert a moral disaster and protect dharma. This yajna is yet another chance for us humans to redeem ourselves from earthly ties and dedicate our lives to the service of the Lord.
Chandra, the moon god signifies coolness and acts as a source of joy to all the worlds. Ever since Krita yuga, the creator has incarnated every time to elevate his children from dust to diamond. To uphold truth he came as Satya Harischandra, and in the Tretha yuga, he assumed the beautiful form of Sri Ramachandra to soothe the world of the wounds of vices. He was then known as Sri Krishna Chandra whose glory has been scripted in the Srimad Bhagavatham.
The effulgence of divinity over aeons has been bestowed as a solace for minds that have been scorched by the heat of enmity and greed. Today, we are the luckiest of the lot as we have here amidst us the creator of the Poorna Chandra, the Poornaavataara Himself! The brilliance and luster of love walking on two feet has spread far and wide spreading joy and happiness to one and all. The memoirs of eighty years have transformed many a soul to follow the path of love and service. He has taught an instant formula to happiness by asking us to ‘love all and serve all’. By instituting a temple of learning, Bhagawan has granted thousands of students the knowledge that will provide them sustenance for a life and a living.
The divine master has baptized us as His messengers by sprinkling discourses of love and compassion. He spoketh forty volumes which show the path to righteous living to shield ourselves from mental destruction. To help one and all recognize the divinity in the poor and needy has been His aim. To uplift the downtrodden and console the disconsolate is His mission. He has not only cured the ills of the unhealthy, but also conferred upon them the panacea for life.
Replete with love, our Lord has incarnated to teach the world that there is only one religion- the religion of love; there is only caste- the caste of humanity; there is only language-the language of the heart; there is only one God- He is Supreme. He has quenched the thirst of many a land and people by planting the twin seeds of bhakti and seva in their hearts.
As the much awaited event will unfold in all splendour, we, your loving children promise that ‘Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’. We can now faintly understand that this yajna is nothing but moksha served on a different platter for our palates. Come all- king and paupers, young and old, reformers and scientists, evangelists and monks to experience another feel of heaven to taste nectarine love. Let us all submit to our Lord and tread the path of love, weed out jealousy and hatred and supplant the seeds of bhakti in our hearts.
You are the Satchitananda Swaroopa, you are the omnipresent, omniscient and the omnipotent one. We pray that we be addressed eternally as ‘bangaru’ so that we may pave our way seizing this golden opportunity of Your descent. Unto Thee we humbly submit ourselves with hearts full of fervent prayer:
Oh Lord, take my love and let in flow in fullness of devotion to Thee