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Then & Now
A day in Ashram

Ratotsavam (18th November 2007)

Bharat has a rich tradition of Chariot Festivals with religious fanfare and piety and famous among them is the one that happens in the temple city of Jagannadh Puri in Orissa. Prasanthi Nilayam, the holy abode of God in physical has its own version of Chariot Festival that happens every year on the 18th of November, virtually kick starting the Birthday celebrations of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

The traditional Ratotsavam (chariot festival) that has been a regular fixture in the Prasanthi Festive Calendar over the years during the Birthday Celebrations was held on the 18th November with piety and religious fervour coupled with much deserved pomp and ceremony marking the beginning of a weeklong festivity celebrating 82nd year of His Divine Advent, His illustrious sojourn on earth.

Two palanquins decorated aesthetically befitting the occasion carrying the idols of Lord Sri Rama, Lord Sri Krishna, Mother Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman were taken out in a procession from the Bhajan Hall in the Mandir to the Peddavenkama Raju Kalyana Mandapam, as has been the custom over the years. Bhagawan’s little pet elephant lead the procession followed by Nadaswaram, Veda chanting and Bhajan singing groups from the University and schools.  Adding on to the hype, fanfare and devotional enthusiasm of thousands congregated in Sai Kulwant Hall and on the road leading to the Kalyanamandapam, Bhagawan came out to the Gopuram Entrance ceremoniously blessing the occasion of mounting the Idols on to the chariot. Bhagawan returned to Sai Kulwant Hall after receiving Mangala Arathi and blessing the procession to commence.

Ladies’ Day (19th November 2007)
Mother Easwaramma’s greater virtues have often been found getting the much-deserved mention in Bhagawan’s Divine Discourses that serve as benchmark for the women folk around the world in setting their life in the Ideal path. International Ladies’ Day that has been a regular feature in Prasanthi Nilayam ever since its inception in the year 1995 was celebrated on the 19th November in the Divine Presence. Ensuring the grandeur of the occasion, the venue, Sai Kulwant Hall was aesthetically decorated that had an array of hues of decorations ranging from multi-coloured parasols to multilayered floral arches, from buntings to festoons to lighted candles giving the resplendent look of Heaven on Earth.

Bhagawan was accorded a grand traditional welcome by Veda Chanting girl students, Nadaswaram band from Anantapur Campus and Scottish Bagpiper Group from Sri Sathya Sai Primary and Higher Secondary School – Girls Wing.

‘GO’ which denotes cow in Sanskrit, occupies a very important place in Hindu mythology. It is believed that all the Gods and Goddesses occupy different parts of Gomata and with that belief Gomata is worshipped all over India during various auspicious occasions. The morning of 19th November saw a function organized by Easwaramma Women Welfare Trust founded with an objective of women empowerment giving away cows in charity to selected village women folk. Bhagawan most magnanimously came down the aisle to the middle of Sai Kulwant Hall to bless the recipients on the coveted occasion. Fifty cows and fourteen calves were given on charity on the occasion. Earlier, before the function Bhagawan came on to the dais to light the lamp officially marking the beginning of the day’s activities.  Morning session had a bouquet of melodious bhajans by women devotees which was followed by prasadam distribution.

The evening session became virtually a resplendent twilight musical and dance extravaganza with celebrated carnatic singer Nithyasree Mahadevan enthralling the audience followed by a dazzling musical drama presentation titled SAI LEELA based on the life story of Bhagawan by children from Sri Sathya Sai Primary School, Prasanthi Nilayam. Immensely pleased with the stupendous display and devotion of the tiny tots Bhagawan came down the aisle to pose for a group photo session.
Earlier before the commencement of the cultural programmes, two senior speakers addressed the gathering sharing their thought with the audience. The first speaker, Dr. (Mrs.) Hymavathi Reddy chose to speak about the unfathomable love of Bhagawan. Asserting her faith in Bhagawan’s Motherly love, she narrated a beautiful experience of her own as to how Bhagawan cured her illness by a mere glance and attention that had happened way back in 1984. Dr. (Mrs.) Reddy urged the audience to resolve to expand their love and make our life His Message.

The second speaker was Mrs. Sowcar Janaki, well known veteran film actor from South India. With a speech with modesty, rich practical experience and conviction, Mrs. Sowcar Janaki gave an engrossing rhetoric stressing yet again her unflinching devotion to Bhagawan, her only God. Make use of the golden opportunity at being in His Institution and become instruments…come out with flying colours and get certified by Bhagawan as 24-carat gold.  Empowerment and freedom of a girl does not mean that she is certified to do anything…freedom means greater responsibility…answerable to God…to our consciousness…concluded the veteran speaker receiving loud applause from one and all.

An all India Workshop on Parenting was inaugurated by Bhagawan on the 20th morning. The conference will be attended by Balvikas coordinators from different states.  In the evening the stage was set for a musical offering by Gazal Singer of fame, Pankaj Udhas. Taking cue from Bhagawan’s message that youth should not resort to move out of the country with fancied interest and instead should stay back to serve the Mother Land, the singer broke out with his well known music piece, Chitti Aayee Hei…to the delight of one and all.  Charismatic voice coupled with devotional fervour rendered the air in the twilight with Nada Brahma Himself accepting the offering. It was indeed heavenly! Apart from the hit song the Gazal artiste came out with some of the best compositions including a Sufi poem compeering intermittently giving details about the songs. This was followed by a Jhugalbandhi by the accompanying artistes in the evening.  

 The evening session was one with an enthralling music session by Sri T.M. Krishna, one of the leading voices in the field of carnatic music. Hailing from a family of music connoisseurs, this young artist exhibited great talent enthralling the audience with rich musical offering coupled with resonant and mellifluous voice with strict adherence to classicism. Immensely pleased with the offering Bhagawan spent quiet sometime with the artistes and three of them were blessed with materialized rings apart from shawls and coveted photo session for the entire group. The dazzling performance was followed another mellifluous carnatic recital by His students that sent continuous raptures from the audience to the delight of one and all.

Annaual Convocation (22nd November 2007)

22nd November is a very special day in Prasanthi Nilayam as this day has a date with something unique in the field of moral and spiritual education. The epoch making Sathya Sai University, that moulds youth of character as future ambassadors of the country and for the world in general holds its annual convocation, the passing out parade for the graduates of the year on this day every year, on the eve of Bhagawan ‘s Divine ‘Birthday’.

The 26th Annual Convocation of Sri Sathya Sai University was held on the 22nd November 2007, in a glittering ceremony that had its grandeur, richly deserved for the yeomen service it has been rendering in the field of education for a quarter century. This prestigious institution that is undoubtedly the one of its kind that has won attention and accolades for simple reason that it promotes value education with spiritual orientation helping in engendering students whom Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba prefers to address as future ambassadors, has thousands of such students in its alumni list who are engaged in relentless service activities in different part of the world, following the invaluable inputs that they received before leaving the portals of this great institution.

Sri Sathya Sai University, formerly Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning was instituted in the year 1981 to provide value based education, absolutely free of cost and has the unique distinction of being one of the very few institutions that impart emphasis on total value based education. Besides education, the students are taught human values, morality and spirituality with the five cardinal human values of Sathya, Dharma, Shanti, Prema and Ahimsa being the backbone of all teachings. The Institution has three campuses, a Women's Campus in Anantapur set up in the year 1968, Men's Campus at Brindavan in Whitefield, Bangalore set up in 1969 and the Men's Campus at Prasanthi Nilayam set up in 1981. This institution has the unique distinction of being accorded Double Plus Level Higher Rating (Highest Grade) certification by the National Accreditation and Assessment Council.

The Chancellor of the University, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba was ceremonially led to the venue, Sai Kulwant Hall in a grand procession by the Institute Band, from Anantapur Campus for Women and Prasanthi Nilayam Campus for Men, followed by group of boys chanting Vedam, followed by the academic council members. The Convocation stage was set on the dais in Sai Kulwant Hall that was decorated to perfection suiting the occasion.

After Bhagawan declared the Convocation open, the Vice Chancellor Mr. Anil Gokak welcoming one and all to the Convocation gave a brief narration of the progress achieved by the University during the past one year. Referring to the dismal system of education in the country, he said: the universities in India have ceased to be centres of learning and lost their strings of creativity and innovativeness…in the midst of all these ruins Sri Sathya Sai University stands out like an oasis, an island of excellence and a beacon of light. Students of this University are not merely aspirants of professional degrees to acquire professional skills, but also pilgrims of eternity in quest of Truth.  While congratulating the graduates of the year his advice to the students were to leave the portals of the university with the blessings of the Divine Chancellor as ambassadors of love and peace and radiate the light of the spiritual lighthouse and be the harbingers of a golden age to come…

After the gold medals and doctors of philosophy were conferred to the qualified students Vice Chancellor read out the pledge to the student to repeat after him.  

The stage was set for the Divine Benedictory Address. Referring to the business oriented education in the world outside, Bhagawan drew the attention onto the free education that the University is imparting.  If the educated one lives an ordinary mortal life what is the use of education? asked Bhagawan while stressing on the greater significance of leading a life based on the five human values. True form of education lies in acquiring the fundamental principle of five human values. Ending His Divine Discourse Bhagawan exhorted the boys to continue to earn good name and make their parents happy which would in turn make Bhagawan happy. At His Divine instance brief talks by Dr. Michael Goldstein and Hon’ble Justice (Retd.) P.N. Bhagawati preceded the retreat of convocation procession.

A wonderful drama presentation by the students of the University titled Hridaya Vani that had a clear message for the youth of the day to have faith, devotion and dedication and serve the Lord and thus the humanity in general was the highlight of the extended twilight session in the Poornachandra Auditiorium. A touching presentation laced with dance and music that would definitely carry a message home for one and all…follow your heart.  

Divine Birthday (23rd November 2007)

23rd November, the day destined and privileged to rejoice His Advent broke out on the eastern horizon with Prasanthi Nilayam bubbling over with festive exuberance at the imminence of the great event.  The whole Prasanthi Nilayam wore a festive look with lighting, flowers and festoons compounded to decorate every possible area projecting the greatness of the occasion. Bhagawan who arrived at around 9:00 was ceremoniously led in a procession by the regular paraphernalia comprising of bands from Primary School, both boys and girls, bands from Anantapur campus and Prasanthi Nilayam campus of the university, group of Veda chanting boys, the Ndaswaram troupe of the University, a bedecked little pet elephant…a regal procession in style and’s humble effort in reciprocating to the Greater Heaven’s Greatest Boon…His Divine Advent!

Famous Carnatic music duo Malladi Rama Prasad and Malladi Ravikumar, popularly known as Malladi Brothers took the centre stage of the morning proceedings along with their father and accompanying artistes. But, the most highlighting part of this year’s Birthday celebrations was the reinstatement of the anointment ceremony that used to be a part of birthday celebrations in early years, especially during the times of Mother Easwaramma. Six distinguished couples were specially chosen for this ceremony and the couple, came on stage one after one anointed Bhagawan’s head with flowers dipped in scented oil while Veda was being chanted in the background with Prof. Anil Kumar compeering the show introducing the couple to the public and explaining the significance of the occasion. Malladi brothers continued their recital. It was a quality concert with warmth in their music and enthusiasm in their presentation while their devotion to Lord was to the fore.

The evening session was turned to another twilight music session under the lights and yet again it was Malladi Brothers who got the Divine consent to perform. They sang with much vigour and enthusiasm raising the tempo to match with the expectant devoted hearts filled the entire Sai Kulwant Hall and outside the premises. Then, the stage was set for the singer who vowed over lakhs and lakhs all across the land, the Colonial Cousine fame Hariharan. Hariharan seemed to have started from where he had stopped during his concert on Ashadi Ekadashi evening in the Divine Presence. …Coming out with variety of devotional pieces, the singer created the right ambience for a grand finale for the 82nd Birthday celebrations. Janani Maa…Sai Janani Maa was again sung that had a rapturous following by the capacity crowd of devotees in the Hall, setting a high tempo of devotional fervour and enthusiasm.  The artistes were blessed with coveted photo session with Bhagawan and the curtain was drawn for the 82nd Birthday celebrations with Bhagawan accepting Arathi and returning to Yajur Mandiram.