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Sri Rama Navami Celebrations

Distribution of Clothes and Cultural Programme by Orissa

April 02, 2009

The coastal regions of the State of Orissa faced the fury of the floods during the third week of September 2008. More than 6,000 villages in 18 districts of Orissa were marooned in floods, leaving about 40 lakh people homeless. The devastating floods caused untold misery to many people in the districts of Cuttack, Puri, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapura. On 7th October 2008, the sacred day of Ayudha Puja during the Dasara celebrations, Sri V. Srinivasan, All India President, Sri Sathya Sai Organisations announced that Bhagawan in His infinite compassion was going to build concrete houses for those rendered homeless by the floods.

As part of Sri Rama Navami celebrations, on 2nd April 2009, 320 gents and ladies, who are the beneficiaries to this divine act of grace, came over to Prasanthi Nilayam showing gratitude to Bhagawan. Bhagawan on this occasion blessed the villagers with clothes; as their names were announced, the villagers received this gift with gratitude after offering their salutations to Bhagawan.

Bhagawan came to the Hall at 4.50 p.m. At the outset, the State President of Sri Sathya Sai Organisation, Orissa gave a brief speech expressing his gratitude to Bhagawan for this benign act of grace. The programme for the evening started with three youth blowing conches and offering their obeisance to Bhagawan. This was followed by “Pala” (traditional and intellectual form of musical programme based on the theme of Indian mythologies and scriptures). The theme of Pala was the relief and rehabilitation of the flood-affected villagers of Orissa. The performance of the youth with cymbals and drum beats and pithy statements enthralled one and all. At the end of their performance, Bhagawan blessed the lead artiste with a gold chain.

This was followed by a play “Shabari Ki Pratikshya” based on the episode of Shabari Moksha (liberation) from the Ramayana.

The scene opens with tribals breaking into dance and music on the eve of Shabari’s wedding ceremony. Having been exposed to the sacred vibrations of Mantras chanted in the Ashram of Sage Matanga, she was leading a Satwic life with vegetarian habits. Naturally, she disapproved of the inhuman and barbaric custom of an innocent creature’s sacrifice before the deity of the tribe as part of the marriage ritual. She ran away from home into the forest cancelling her marriage. Being a girl she was forbidden to enter an Ashram, but after hiding behind, listening to discourses and performance of spiritual practices, she was blessed by Matanga Maharishi to stay in his Ashram. The Rishi revealed to her that one day she would be blessed with Sri Rama’s Darshan.

Time and years rolled by; she went through the daily routine of clearing the pathway to the Ashram. But there was no sight of the Divine personality. She collected fruits and tubers everyday awaiting the Lord to the Ashram. As age took its toll over her, she became weak and emaciated, but steadfastly continued the daily practice.

Due to her sincere prayers and pure heart, the Lord finally visits her Ashram. Feeling electrified and emotionally charged she welcomes them to sanctify the Ashram premises with their Divine presence. Being overwhelmed, she offers the sweet fruits though she has bitten and tongued them. The Lord who is pleased with Shabari’s devotion relishes the fruits and blesses Shabari. She demeans herself by saying that she is a dunce and does not know the ways and means to worship the Lord. Lord Rama consoles her lovingly and gets immersed in the ocean of joy, impressed by her pure, unsullied and selfless love. She falls at His Feet saying that she does not want to live any more, since the consummation of her life has been achieved.  Bhakta Shabari attains Moksha (liberation) and merges with the Lord.  

At the end of the performance, Bhagawan blessed the artistes by going amidst them and getting Himself photographed. Then Prasadam was distributed to the artistes and the devotees. Arati was offered to Bhagawan at 6.45 p.m. after which Bhagawan retired for the day.    

Distribution of Keys and other articles for daily use to the Orissa Beneficiaries

Morning, April 03, 2009

Sri Rama Navami was celebrated at Prasanthi Nilayam on 3rd April 2009 with all its religious fervour. The Hall was beautifully decked up for the occasion. The beneficiaries who were to receive the keys of houses were seated in the central part of the Hall. Banners heralding the function were displayed at vantage points in the Hall. “Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust. Orissa Flood Rehabilitation Housing Project. Allotment of Houses to Beneficiaries by Divine Hands” was the message in the banners. Maps containing the regions where the houses are built were placed in important locations in the Hall.

Bhagawan came to the Hall in His golden-hued robe at 9.20 a.m. to the accompaniment of Vedic chants. Under Bhagawan’s direct supervision, keys for the houses were distributed to the beneficiaries. Utensils and other articles of daily use, Bhagawan’s photograph were also distributed. As the distribution of these items was in progress, students chanted Vedas in the background. Prasadam was distributed to all at the end. The proceedings for the morning session concluded with Arati to Bhagawan at 10.20 a.m.

Speeches and Divine Discourse

Evening, April 03, 2009

On the afternoon of 3rd April 2009, there was a programme of speeches and to top it all, Bhagawan gave his nectarous discourse to the delight of everyone. Bhagawan came to Sai Kulwant Hall at 4.55 p.m. At the outset, Sri V. Srinivasan, All India President, Sri Sathya Sai Organisations offered His salutations to Bhagawan. He also extended his greetings to all on this holy day of Sri Rama Navami. Sri Srinivasan said that the last two days were Bhagawan’s veritable flood of love to the flood-affected victims of Orissa who had gathered in Prasanthi Nilayam to receive the keys of newly-built houses. Referring to a line in a Bhajan, “Prem Ki Behati Dhara …” (flow of stream of love), the learned speaker said that the beneficiaries were experiencing Bhagawan’s love and compassion in abundant measure. He then introduced the two speakers for the day, Dr. Ramesh Chandra Panda – senior IAS officer from Tamil Nadu cadre. He has held posts in the department of agriculture and rural development. Presently, he is in Delhi, holding a post of the Central Government. The next speaker Sri R. Kondal Rao, formerly chief engineer in the Panchayat department of Andhra Pradesh. He still holds the post of technical advisor to the Government of Andhra Pradesh. He has been associated with the various water projects of Bhagawan and now he is participating in the housing project of Bhagawan in Orissa.

Dr. Ramesh Chandra Panda began his speech by offering his obeisance at the Lotus Feet of Bhagawan, the Guru of gurus - Gurur-Brahma Gurur-Vishnu Gurur Devo Maheswara; Guru Sakshat Param Brahma Thasmai Sri Gurave Namaha (Guru is Brahma, Guru is Vishnu, Guru is Maheswara. Guru is verily the supreme Brahman.  So, salutations to the Guru). The erudite speaker said at the outset that he is a humble instrument to transmit Bhagawan’s message to the beneficiaries, so he would speak in Oriya, the language of the people of Orissa, with explicit permission from Bhagawan. Bhagawan has taken up many humanitarian projects like providing high quality free education, drinking water projects, hospitals providing tertiary care completely free of cost, home for the destitute, etc, said Sri Panda. The speaker said that students in His educational institutions practise Bhagawan’s precept, Education is not for a mere living, but for leading a good life. Bhagawan has provided water to the city of Chennai which was facing water scarcity for most part of the year, now it is getting copious amount of water for 24 hours a day. He said, Love All, Serve All is the motto of the Sai Organisation. Calling the housing rehabilitation project in Orissa a unique one, out of the total number of beneficiaries, 20% of them are women, the speaker said. Sri Panda concluded his speech with the axiom, Twameva Mathacha Pitha Twameva, Twameva Bandhuscha Sakha Twameva, Twameva Vidya Dravinam Twameva, Twameva Sarvam Mama Devadeva. (Oh Lord! You alone are my father and mother, friend and relation, wisdom and wealth. You are my everything).

Sri R. Kondal Rao began his speech by offering his reverential salutations to Bhagawan. He expressed his gratitude to Bhagavan on being giving the opportunity to speak on the holy occasion of Sri Rama Navami. Sri Kondal Rao gave the reasons for the large scale destruction in the State of Orissa because of the floods. About 15 lakh cusecs flowed from the river Mahanadi due to the torrential rains whereas its capacity was only 10 lakh cusecs. As a result, the river breached its barriers and entered human habitations. More than 50,000 houses were washed away by the floods. Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation, Orissa quickly swung into action by providing cooked food and medical relief to affected people. They had to travel even in boats to inaccessible places. When Bhagawan saw the photographs of large scale destruction of houses, He immediately wanted concrete houses to be constructed for the victims. A team comprising Sri V. Srinivasan, Sri A. Ramakrishna and Sri R. Kondal Rao was sent by Bhagawan to assess the damage on 19th October 2008. The team toured and finalised 14 villages for this project. The Government of Orissa was requested to provide sites for construction in some places. Good concrete houses are built at a higher level from the ground on Bhagawan’s direction so that water does not enter the houses in case of future floods. On 30th November 2008, the construction work started in the villages. Bhagawan has also directed that construction of houses should be done at a faster pace. The speaker also said that Bhagawan is getting classrooms constructed for schools where it is damaged. Proper drinking water is also provided to these houses. Sri Kondal Rao concluded his speech by saying that it was only Bhagawan’s grace which has helped them to do this work.   

After Sri Kondal Rao’s speech Bhagawan gave His Discourse to the huge gathering of devotees, the excerpts of which follows:

Sweeter than sugar, tastier than curd, sweeter indeed than honey is the Name of Rama. Constant repetition of this sweet Name gives one the taste of divine nectar itself. Therefore, one should contemplate on the Name of Rama incessantly.                                                               (Telugu Poem)

Bharat is the motherland of many noble souls who earned great name and fame in all the continents of the world. This is the land of valorous people who vanquished foreign rulers and attained independence. This is the land which excelled in music, literature and other fine arts. Having been born in this great land of Bharat, oh boys and girls, it is your sacred duty to protect its rich cultural heritage.
(Telugu Poem)

From the very birth, there are no children in this land of Bharat who do not chant God’s name. Children are given names of God so that parents get an opportunity to remember the name of God. In this land of Bharat there is no village without a temple. From times immemorial, this land has given importance to spirituality. If the Bharatiyas are happy and leading a secure life, it is due to their spiritual way of life.

Every Bharatiya has self-confidence. They may be poor, but youngsters in this land have come up in their life by studying even under streetlights.

Whether the adversities come in the form of explosion of bombs or floods, Bharatiyas depend on God. If you depend on God, you will not face difficulties. Miseries and difficulties are like passing clouds, they come and go.

Dasaratha had three wives – Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi. A daughter was born to Kausalya, but a daughter cannot be crowned as heir to the throne. Dasaratha and Kausalya gave away the daughter to Sage Rishyasringa. He taught her all kinds of education. As there was no male child in the family who could ascend the throne, Sumanthara and other ministers asked Dasaratha to perform Putra Kamesti Yaga. They thought only Rishyasringa was competent to perform the Yaga. During the performance of Yaga, a divine being emerged from the sacrificial fire and handed over a vessel containing Payasam (pudding). This was to be equally distributed between his three wives. They were supposed to partake of the pudding after having a bath. As Sumitra was drying her hair in the terrace, she kept the pudding in the parapet wall. Suddenly an eagle swooped down and carried the pudding in its claws. Sumitra was fear-stricken since she was afraid of facing Dasaratha. When she related this incident to Kausalya, she readily agreed to share half of her bowl of pudding. Kaikeyi too did the same. Kausalya gave birth to Rama and Kaikeyi gave birth to Bharata, but Sumitra gave birth to twins – Lakshmana and Satrughna. Sumitra faced a predicament; Lakshmana and Satrughna were always crying. She could not find out the reason for this. In spite of resorting to many incantations and Mantras, they never stopped crying. When Vasishtha, the family priest was asked the reason, he told her to place Lakshmana by the side of Rama and Satrughna by the side of Bharata. When this was done, both Lakshmana and Satrughna slept peacefully. The reason was Lakshmana was born after partaking of half of the pudding given by Kausalya and Satrughna was born after partaking half of the pudding of Kaikeyi.

In the Ramayana, we do not find Sumitra and Lakshmana’s consort Urmila being given prominence. When Lakshmana came to take leave of Urmila, she told him that he should never think of her in the forest. He should serve Rama always. Even a thought of her should not interrupt his service to Rama. Such was the nobility of Urmila.     

Lanka was 100 miles away, but Hanuman could cross the ocean uttering the name of Rama.

The demon king Ravana abducted Sita. In the battle, Lakshmana fell unconscious. It is then that Rama declared, “I can even live without Sita, but not without Lakshmana.” One of the demons advised that Lakshmana could be saved by rubbing the Sanjivini (a medicine that had a divine cure) on his body. Hanuman was sent to bring the Sanjivini. As Hanuman could not locate the Sanjivini, he uprooted the whole mountain and brought it to Rama. When the Sanjivini was applied on Lakshmana, he regained consciousness.

Rama was ever blissful. The name of Rama which is sweeter than sugar, tastier than curd and honey should be chanted always.

The five human values, namely, Sathya, Dharma, Santhi, Prema and Ahimsa are very important. One who cultivates these five human values is a true human being. Even if one of them is missing, he / she cannot be called a true human.

When we have love in our heart, nobody will hate us. Therefore, develop love and live like brothers and sisters. This is the essence of Ramayana. What Swami has done in Orissa is to demonstrate this truth, the propagation of love. All of us should be united.

Let us all move together, let us all grow together,
Let us all stay united and grow in intelligence together,
Let us live together with friendship and harmony.                              (Telugu Poem)

Whether you are in Ashram or anywhere else, do not have a sense of hatred. It is love which unites everyone.

Bhagawan concluded His Discourse with the Bhajan, “Prema Mudita Manase Kaho Rama Rama Ram …”

After the distribution of Prasadam, Arati was offered to Bhagawan at 7 p.m. Thus, concluded the Sri Rama Navami celebrations at Prasanthi Nilayam.