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Morning Darshan, Divine Discourse, Drama on 2nd September

Posted at 0230 hrs. on 3rd Sept 2009

When festive Kerala was abuzz, busy welcoming her erstwhile ruler Emperor Mahabali, a miniscule of the state descended in Prasanthi Nilayam welcoming the Mighty Lord amidst them, invoking Divine Blessings on the auspicious festive occasion of Onam.

The venue, Sai Kulwant Hall, bore a festive look of gaiety and majesty, with natural decorations reflecting the state’s greater cultural values and traditions beautifying the seat of the Lord in Prasanthi Nilayam to pristine splendor and beauty. 

Plantain trees tying a green belt around the periphery of the spacious Sai Kulwant Hall, decorated parasols, muthukkuda, of varied hues standing upright majestically, symbolizing class, temple architectural designs made out of plantain stems adding to the aesthetic cultural beauty, tender coconut leaves hanging all over heraliding auspiciousness, palm leaves covering huge pillars, it was a mini green revolution all over at the venue in Sai Kulwant Hall.

Bhagawan was accorded a befitting welcome with girls in traditional attire arrayed on both sides in the pathway giving a ceremonial welcome. Band Girls from the state accompanied them, amidst Bhajans and Panchavadyam (an orchestra of five instruments popularly known as God’s Own Orchestra) by both University students and a special troupe from Kerala.

Traditional floral decorations with Nirapara, full measure of paddy heaped for ceremonial offerings in  traditional measuring container called 'Para' decorated with ‘Thengin Pookula’, opened coconut flower, offshoot of coconut tree, was arranged in the centre of Sai Kulwant Hall  opposing the seat of the Lord on the dais. University boys with Kerala origin from Brindavan and Prasanthi Nilayam campuses along with Higher Secondary School had various creative cards and presentations wishing Bhagawan “Happy Onam”.

Bhagawan came for a full round at 9:20 a.m. while bhajan was on, and an announcement was made about a scheduled Divine Discourse at 4 p.m. Arathi was offered just after 10 a.m. before Bhagawan retired to Yajur Mandiram.

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Evening Programme

The evening proceedings started with Bhagawan coming out at 4:20 p.m.  Bhagawan came onstage after a full round of darshan and all eyes were on Bhagawan expecting the promised Divine Discourse. At the outset, State President Prof. Mukundan introduced Mr. A.Jayakumar, IAS, Chief Addl. Secy., Home & Vigilance, Govt. of Kerala, the lone speaker for the session preceding the Divine Discourse.

In a tone that sounded humble and a tenor that reflected submission, Mr. Jayakumar mentioned that, while back in Kerala people from all over the world come back home to celebrate the festival, devotees of Bhagawan come to their ‘real home’ in Prasanthi Nilayam to celebrate the festivity in the Divine Presence of Bhagawan. While there was a sense of abundance and well being all over the state with the festive season in Kerala, devotees of Bhagawan come to Prasanthi Nilayam to have abundance of Bhagawan’s love.

Bringing parallels between the festivity and Bhagawan, taking a cue from Emperor Mahabali’s great act of surrender to the Will of Lord Vamana, Mr. Jayakumar reminded fellow devotees that it was time for sacrifice and surrender to the Will of Bhagawan for the greater benefit of humanity. Against the floral decorations that are done ten days in advance to the Onam festivity in Kerala, symbolizing purity, devotees have their hearts ready with floral decorations all the days, all through for Bhagawan to come, concluded Mr. Jayakumar.

Lucidly explaining the story of Emperor Mahabali, mentioning that his kingdom of yore was ruled in perfect fashion, taking care of the subjects and their needs to best of his abilities, Bhagawan, touching upon various incidents in the life of the Emperor further mentioned that the Emperor was sent to the neither world and ever since it had become Brahma Loka and the Emperor had attained liberation.

Talking of the legend of the festivity, Bhagawan mentioned that the subjects were grief stricken at the loss of the Emperor and reciprocating to their fondling feeling the Emperor had promised them that he would be visiting them once in a year and thus came into being the festivity of Onam.

Bringing a comparison of the monsoon that starts from Kerala and spreads all over the country, Bhagawan mentioned that God was one and One alone and this One God was taking care of the entire humanity, declared Bhagawan to thunderous applause.

Hailing Kerala to be a Gift of God, Bhagawan mentioned that the people of Kerala think of the mystery and glory of the Emperor even today, which in turn helped them to make advancement in their lives. The state was blessed with plenty and prosperity.

Though individual difference, due to the effect of Kali, caused some changes in the state, still the people of the state follow Truth, said Bhagawan adding that the people of the state give great respect and care to the elderly people. Drawing attention to the three God given principles, Love for God, Fear of Sin and Morality in Society, Bhagawan mentioned that Kerala was the only state where service to elderly people was undertaken in this Kali age. Discoursing in detail on the subject or Morality, Bhagawan said, Kerala has given great importance to the teaching, Sathyam Vadha, Dharmam Chara…

It is not mere celebration in a grand gala way, but one should make every effort to fulfill the promises given to the Emperor, added Bhagawan..

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Exhorting the devotees not to consider the festivity like any other festive occasion, Bhagawan said that, true significance was to follow the ideals of the Emperor. Taking bath, wearing new dresses, purifying our hearts ever thinking of God is real Onam, said Bhagawan divulging in detail about various kinds of preparation done by Keralites during the occasion. Keralites make twelve types of sweet dishes from plantain and they do it with sacred feeling, offering the same to God.  Kerala is the only state where preparations are done with such sacred feeling, said Bhagawan. Referring to the state’s devotion, Bhagawan urged the devotees that all should give up all silly thoughts distancing themselves from all sorts of worries understanding that heart is the seat of God. Citing Emperor’s example, Bhagawan advised everyone to follow His often repeated maxim, LOVE ALL SERVE ALL enlightening that there was no bigger penance than following the same.

Coming back to the subject, Morality, He stressed on the greater importance of the same to follow the same in our lives. One should learn obedience and humility from the life of the Emperor and following these ideals his life could be redeemed, concluded Bhagawan.

Bhakta Nandanar

Drama by Students of Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Vihar, Aluva

The Divine Discourse was followed by a Drama entitled “Bhakta Nandanar”, by the students of Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Vihar, Aluva. Bhakta Nandanar was one of the celebrated devotees of Lord Shiva, belonging to the famous Nayanar saints of South India.  The drama had few incidents from the life of Nandanar, who was an epitome of true, pure and unsullied devotion.

Born in Andhanur village of Tanjore, Nandanar endured at the hands of the mighty in the name of untouchability. Being born in the paraya community, he was considered to be an untouchable. As a child he showed exemplary devotion to Lord Shiva though he was permitted to worship only tribal Gods.

The first episode depicted a scene wherein the orthodox belief and theory that - the untouchables should not be allowed to worship Brahmin Gods - was affirmed and reaffirmed by the friends and colleagues of Nandanar. Nandanar was still nonchalant and determined with his devotion to Lord Shiva. Despite cautions and warnings the young Nandanar was unmoved and finally he was taken to his mother. His mother gripped with fear, finding her son suffering from fever, attributed the fever as a punishment meted out to Nandanar for worshipping the Brahmin God. To redeem the effect, she promised to offer goat sacrifice to Lord Shiva. Nandanar was distressed at this sight and called upon his mother to stop such nonsenses, telling her that it was not acceptable for him to sacrifice one life for another; he would rather prefer to die, declared the young Nandanar. The scene ended with Nandanar getting miraculously cured after applying sacred ash taken in the name of Lord Shiva.

The second episode had an interesting incident related to the Thirupangur Temple, wherein the untouchable Nandanar was found in a distressed state with no option to have the holy darshan of his favourite Lord. With the huge statue of Nandi blocking the view of the sanctum sanctorum, and by being an untouchable, he was not allowed to cross over the Nandi statue, he was left with no option than to fervently pray to his favourite Lord. Having surrendered completely to the Will of his Lord, he was immersed in praising His glory and lo! The Nandi moved to the side letting Nandanar to feast his eyes with the holy darshan of His favourite Lord.

Once, after hearing the glory of the Lord of Chidambaram, Nandanar grew into an intense desire to have the darshan of the Lord. His Brahmin Landlord upon hearing his desire literally run down on him, hurling abuses, showering insults, calling him profane names reminding him that he was an untouchable and would not be allowed to have the darshan of Brahmin Gods.

Upon repeated pleadings from Nandanar, the landlord granted permission on condition that Nandanar harvests forty acres of land all by himself! Happy beyond measure, taking the name of Lord Shiva, Nandanar completed the task overnight to the astonishment of all. Understanding his folly and realizing the greatness of Nandanar, the landlord sought pardon from Nandanar.

It was trial time for the great devotee, even after entering the city of Chidambaram. He was accused by the Brahmins over there and a vailing Nandanar was in deep contemplation of the Lord. But, the same night, the Dikshitars of the temple had a dream of Lord Nataraja commanding them to purify Nandanar to allow him to the sanctum sanctorum. They set Fire Test for him…Agni Snanam, the Test of Fire. To the utter astonishment of all, Nandanar who ventured despite warnings from his well wishers came out of the fire unscathed in the attire of a Brahmin to merge at the Lotus Feet of His chosen Lord!

At the end of the programme, grateful children from the school fervently prayed to Bhagawan thanking Him profusely for the great grand boon bestowed upon them with His immense grace and love. Bhagawan moved down to pose for a photo session. Clothes were distributed to all the thirty two participants. The cast of Nandanar, who acted with precision and great feeling, almost living with the role, was presented with a golden chain in appreciation by Bhagawan. Arathi was offered before Bhagawan retired to Yajur Mandiram bringing the curtain down for the grand festivity Onam 2009.