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Posted at 13:00:00 Hrs. IST on 26 Dec 2009

Christmas flavour in Prasanthi Nilayam got a shot in its arm when Bhagawan, hinted quite affirmative to a prayer from students to bless ‘them’ with Christmas Benedictory Divine Discourse. …And in the evening when Bhagawan came out quite early, just after 4 pm, the greater expectation was giving way to a near certainty.  

And the beautiful Christmas evening was enlightened by a nectarous Divine Discourse wherein His Divine voice was heard echoing: God is Love…Love…Love alone… Do not brood over the past; past is past and will never come again. Future is uncertain.Live in the present. This moment of life, existence, is reality.

The third session of the Christmas Programme 2009 started off with a thanksgiving speech by Christmas Committee Chairman John Behner that was followed by two speeches, by Yuliana Stephanie Pulgar Monge from Cost Rica and Douglas Saunders from Newzealand.

John Behner in his thanksgiving address was categorical in mentioning various groups and even individuals who made the big difference in making Christmas 2009 a grand success. Ranging from Secretary, Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, to accommodation to security to maintenance to western canteen, Mr.Behner had a special word of request for a big applause for this dedicated bunch of staffers of Prasanthi Nilayam.

926 strong adult International Choir under Ms. Sylvia Alden, the upcoming Children Choir conducted by Ms. Alma Badings, the children Drama team scheduled to perform on Saturday afternoon directed by Cony Avala from Mexico, Special Christmas Mass scheduled for Sunday at Chaitanya Jyothi Museum that would be presided over by Father Charles Ogada, also came in for special mention for their wonderful dedicated devoted service.

The Atlanta Decoration Team, responsible for decking up the Abode of Divinity had a inspiring tale behind their greater effot. Mr. Nagesh Rai from Atlanta had a wonderful story related to decorating Prasanthi Nilayam. Mr. Rai, a professional decorator himself, had a dream a couple of years ago, in which Bhagawan had asked him to decorate His house. Initially Mr. Rai had no clue. Bhagawan had even asked him to write a book and the title as suggested by Bhagawan was “Decorate the Decorator”. It was then, when the Atlanta centre obtained the final nod of approval for decorating Prasanthi Nilayam that Mr. Rai understood the subtle reality behind the dream.  

Indonesian group comprising 430 devotees who would be working in the western canteen, cooking till the 28th Dec and also involved in ashram services as well as conducting Bal Vikas Sadhana Camps, and the Atlanta choir which conducted Christmas Choir in the mandir on the Christmas morning also came in for mention with appreciation and gratitude. The large group of Croatian group who would be performing a musical programme also got introduced to the devotees.

The first speaker for the afternoon was Ms. Yuliana Pulgar, a medical student from Cost Rica who was the youth coordinator for Sathya Sai Organisations, Costa Rica for one year and also is one of the collaborators for Radio Sai programme from the country as well as the Costa Rica Radio programme, Love in Action. The eighteen year old speaker had started a Hata Yoga Institute at the age of seventeen as inspired by Bhagawan and has been a follower of Bhagawan since twelve years.

Expressing deep sense of gratitude for the “miraculous” opportunity bestowed upon her, the young speaker said she was confused as to what she would speak on the occasion in the Divine Presence. With a blank mind she had a fervent prayer to Bhagawan to guide her through and as a result she was illumined to share one of her experiences.

At the age of 6 she was introduced to English training through a teacher who was incidentally a Sai devotee. She would often see the lovely picture of Bhagawan with her English teacher,  but had no clue about His identity. From within she started feeling His love and could equate the same with that of Jesus Christ. And as she grew up her interest in Swami also increased and started applying His teaching in her life. She has been awakened and compassion descended into her heart. She turned to vegetarian food to the utter disgust of her friends and relatives. ..And is Divine providence, her mother gradually learnt cooking vegetarian food and got convinced of her daughter’s decision.

The inspirational young speaker had mention about her Hata Yoga institute, her medical career, her efforts in spreading His message through the radio programmes in her country, miracle at Hata Yoga institute wherein after fervent prayer to Bhagawan five of her students, who had undergone fertility treatment, but could not conceive and subsequently lost faith in miracles became pregnant and delivered healthy babies, all with His grace.

A shocking news that she had received before setting off to India, that she was infected by a dreaded disease that could finally lead to cancer if not treated in time, forced her to cut her long beautiful hair for undergoing chemotherapy. The contented speaker was at her somber best when she expressed satisfaction that her long, beautiful hair would be used by someone in some part of the world and that she no longer identifies herself with any false delusion. The speaker claimed that she has been evolving herself to understand the Atma principle. She said the incident helped her to reflect life and death from the right perspective.

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The second speaker was Douglas Saunders, who was in printing business and is the national chair of Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, Newzealand.

Referring the Birth of Jesus as a day of hope and love the speaker started with the message Jesus Christ had for humanity, his message of love and compassion. The speaker had his wife’s own story of transformation that happened overnight.

In 1987, when his wife happened to watch a film organized by the SSSO, Oakland and the moment she watched Swami on the screen, listening to His discourse, she had understood that this was what she had been waiting subconsciously for long. She exclaimed “Here He is; He is here” and she was no longer her old self. She had been transformed.  The first to come was a meal without meat followed by extensive reading of Sai literature and attending to service activities in His name at the local Sai Centre while consciously started working on self improvement.

With Douglas the story was different. Disturbed at the new found spiritual love of his wife, he wondered:  God is somewhere up in the heavens with white beard and how could He be walking on earth and living in India. Douglas was not prepared for a change.

After six years, Mrs. Saunders travelled to India for Swami’s darshan and she returned after a three week’s mission to Kodaikanal. Though consciously she was making an effort not to talk to him anything about Bhagawan, she was so overpowered by His love, that she could not resist temptation in telling all about Him after the trip.

Douglas was confused. He had decided to sit and talk to his wife to convince that she no longer need to travel to India. And within six months he found himself in presence of Sai Baba. He decided to see the “man” in person so that he could convince himself before convincing his wife not to travel to India anymore.

 Though he stayed over there for three weeks, he could not get any closer opportunity despite fervent yearning. When time was fast approaching for him and his wife to return, during the second last darshan the transformation happened. Bhagawan came near him to grant a beautiful smile that was the panacea he had been wanting for quite long. And he was transformed once for all.


God is in all, in a subtle form, in the form of spirit; Man does not make any conscious effort to understand the spirit within, said Bhagawan commencing His Christmas Benedictory Divine Discourse.

Talking about the greatness of Bharat He extolled the great illumined characters who glorified the cultural and spiritual worth of the nation, exemplifying character par excellence.

Mentioning names like Mother Sita, who exemplified chastity and integrity, Chandramathi who could extinguish wild forest fire with the power of chastity, Savitri who showcased her power of Truth, Bhagawan mentioned that it is in Bharat alone that one could find women of such great characters and only Bharat had the great good fortune of giving birth to Avatars.

Today, man wants to possess everything else, other than God and is prepared to leave his motherland to amass wealth. Bharathiyas are not supposed to have excessive desire for wealth.

Referring to violence prevalent in present day world, Bhagawan said, people think and meditate on peace, but we find only pieces. God is Love; Love is God, Truth is God; God is Truth, Truth and Love stand for Divinity, exhorted Bhagawan.

Talking about love, Bhagawan said, people tend to picturise love in the form of Ravi Varma paintings. All these paintings are imaginary work. God is present in everyone. True form of God is Love…Love and Love alone…

Ego has to be eliminated. Bondage is nothing but, “I” ness. “I” and “Mine” should be removed so that one gets the all-encompassing feeling, said Bhagawan referring to the crucifixion of Jesus, symbolized by the centre-line on the holy cross.

Do not brood over the past; past is past and will never come again. Future is uncertain. Bhagawan wants us to live in the present. This moment of life is existence which is reality.

Divine Discourse was ended by the bhajan “Hari Bhajana Binaa Sukha Shanti Nahin…”. Upon His Divine Discourse Bhagawan called out some of the Russian devotees who were seated in the front row, interacting with them. He materialized a ring for one of the Russians. And when the Russians prayed for a photo session Bhagawan promised the same the next morning when “lighting would be proper”.

The Russian group was allowed to sing a bhajan, “Manasa Bhajare Guru Charanam…” upon which Arathi was offered, ending a glorious Christmas Day in presence of the Holy Father!