19th April 2015- Sunday- Morning
The lovely Sunday morning started off with divine vibrations of chanting and the Sathya Sai Vrata Puja organised very well by the ladies wing of Sai centre. We were blessed to be part of the puja celebrations.
(There are 5 parts to Sai vrata puja which are posted some time ago)
19th April 2015- Sunday Evening
This was day 2 of the wonderful musical performance by the Parthi Alumni Bro Ravi Kumar, Amey, Siddhartha. We were all looking forward to this blissful evening of love and devotion.
It was indeed one of the most mesmerising divine musical evening I have ever attended in a long time. The program was titled ‘A flow deep within’ with music and devotion across all eras and religions and true to its name it did take us deep within. I think if we need to be constantly ‘within’ we need many programs like this till we get to a stage where we don’t look for external things to seek within.
The program began right on time starting with an Alumni brother introducing the singers as well as sharing a beautiful story about Mian Tansen who was the greatest singer of the Mughal era in India; the essence of which is that when one offers all his talents with full love and devotion only for the sake of God rather than monetary benefits; it will definitely touch one’s heart and soul. (https://wordpress.com/post/37840007/404/)
The first rendition was ‘Pibare raam Rasam’ by Bro Ravi kumar which set the motion for the evening program. The beauty of these programs are that they are interactive and a musical presentation rather than only singing; hence more enjoyable and can connect with the audience. The brothers felt that the best offering for Swami on His 90th birthday would be a pure heart which He always looks forward to and one of way of achieving that is through ‘namsmarana’- chanting the Lord’s name. When that is put to tune and made melodious it not only gives joy and happiness to the singer but to the others listening as well. This is a sadhana where one’s individual sadhana helps others also in their spiritual journey.
Salient points/take away
- Purity of heart- Lord tests many of His devotees in order to purify their hearts. One such incident was shared where a Professor had gone through several trials in his life that year like losing his family members, his job etc and was very dejected. Swami came to his dream and kept repeating the words; ‘gold smith, gold smith’. The professor could not catch the import of those words and visited a goldsmith. He began having conversation with him and the goldsmith explained about his work of purifying gold; wherein he had to whack the gold to remove its impurities and then put it directly on the fire to let the gold become pure and shine. The process would be complete only when one can see their reflection on the gold indicating that it is fully purified. The professor understood that God’s way of purifying certain devotees are in this manner. The same merciful Lord has also told that the easiest way to attain God in Kali yuga is through namasmarana; so let us purify our heart through this namasmarana remembering that consistency, intensity and faith is vital for this sadhana.
- Devotion expressed through music- Saints and devotees in every era and every religion of the world have experienced the divine through their music. Mirabai, Saint Thyagaraja implored Krishna and Rama through their devotion and beautiful compositions. Bro Ravi Kumar sang a beautiful Mira bhajan ‘Payoji maine Naam Ratan dhan payo’ (meaning-I have the gem of Lord’s name with me). At the time of Mirabai and Thyagaraja, Swami was not there in His physical form; yet their music reached Him. Their faith, love and devotion was such. They saw Him within. Not only did they attain Him, but they have left a legacy of devotional music behind for centuries for others to benefit from it. Whenever devotees are spoken about; the conversation cannot be complete without Mirabai, Surdas or Thyagaraja. Hence we should also try to look for SAI within rather than missing and craving for the physical form.
- Devotional music of other religions- Religions other than Hinduism also have used music as a medium to show their love for God. Islam through their Sufi music (Bro Siddhartha’s beautiful rendition of ‘Moula Moula; Moula mere Moula touched our hearts). Christianity through carols- Bro Amey sang ‘God is Good all the time’ by Don Moen, Buddhist chants- ‘Buddham Sharanam Gacchami’ and then Sikhism through ‘Gurbani’- ‘Guru meri puja, Guru Govinda, Guru mera parabrahma’ (sung by Bro ravi)
- Swami has mentioned that there are 4 types of sankeertana.
- First one is ‘Nama sankeertana’– only the name of lord is repeated like ‘Panduranga Bhakta jana vatsala’-(Composed by saint Namdev of Maharashtra) superbly rendered by Bro Amey.
- Second one is leela keertana– Describing the leelas of God like raasleela of Lord Krishna “Radha kabhi Krishna kabhi Krishna hai Radha’ by Bro ravi Kumar took us all to Vrindavan each of us imagining ourselves dancing with the Lord.
- Third one is ‘Guna keertana’- glorifying the attributes of the lord; like ‘Rama Kodanda Raama, Raama Pattabhi Rama’ (Raama- one who is holding the bow; Raama- one who is seated in the throne etc). The prayer rendered in this category; was stupendous; when all the 3 brothers chanted the ‘Vishwanatha ashtakam’; I was transported totally somewhere else. One has to listen to this.
- After this bro Amey spoke about Adi Shankara who had composed this beautiful prayer. Adi shankara was the greatest philosopher of Santana Dharma. He has always advocated ‘Advaita’ (non duality- God and I are one and the same). It is ironical though that most of the prayers of all hindu deities have been composed by him. Bhaja Govindam by Adi Shankara, keeps reminding us that no amount of knowledge gained can take us across this mundane existence; only the name of Govinda will help us in our last days; hence foolish mind chant the name of the Lord. It seems that before his Samadhi, Adi shankara visited Kashi and asked Lord Shiva for atonement of 3 sins committed by him. They were;” Knowing that God was omnipresent ie He is present everywhere, I came to have Your darshan at Kashi, though I know that You are not different from me, yet I praise You with words; and finally I bring You in my thoughts limiting You though I know that You are beyond comprehension.” What a high level of philosophy that was!!
- Fourth type is ‘Bhava sankeertana’– With pure feeling and utmost devotion like Surdas. Surdas was a blind wandering monk who was a great devotee of Lord Krishna. Once while wandering Surdasji fell inside a well. It was dark in the night and he was shouting for help. No one was around to help him. After sometime, he felt someone pulling him out from the well. After he was out, he realised while he was holding the person’s hand that it was strong and that it was his Krishna who had rushed to help him. When the Lord knew that Surdasji had recognised him, he gave a slip and disappeared. Surdasji burst forth with his composition ‘bole jai giridhar gopal, haanth chhudaye jaat ho nirbal jaan ke mohe ,hirdaya se jab jao to sabal main jaun main (You have left my hand and slipped off thinking I was weak, but let me see how You can slip off from my heart?) It was a challenge to the Lord by His devotee. Again sung melodiously by Bro Ravi.
- All the above culminated as ‘Sai bhajan’ which includes all categories of sankeertanas which can be sung by all. Swami always encouraged collective singing as group singing has more power and vibrations leading us to Him.
- Swami’s avatarhood as ‘Sai baba’ was declared by the bhajan ‘Manasa bhajore Guru charanam’. Many years even before that as a little boy of 8/9, Sathya (Swami as He was known when He was young) led the Pandhari bhajan group which had many boys joining it and singing across the village of Puttaparthy. While cholera affected all the other villages, Parthi was safe because of little Sathya’s bhajans. The soul stirring bhajan and my favorite bhajan ‘Jaya Panduranga Prabho Vitthala’ sung by Bro Ravi, took us back to little Sathya’s pandhari bhajan group. This bhajan also has another significance for me; I heard this bhajan first time as a child of 9/10 yrs on the Dharmavaram to Puttaparthy bus rendered so beautifully by a blind person seeking alms (he was like surdas- soulful singing) I cannot forget his face even after so many years. It brings me so many memories of Parthi in the early 80s.
- Bhajans are an integral part of the Sai activities. It is through the bhajans that many people are drawn towards Swami. Various samples of Carnatic, Hindustani, western style were rendered beautifully by the brothers. They also sang bhajans categorised in the above 4 categories.
- Finally they had Swami’s message for Singapore devotees. That was ‘SAI’- ‘See Always Inside’. Let’s strive to do that and seek His blessings and grace for seeing Him within.
The mesmerising program concluded with some more bhajans and aarti for Swami.
Thanks to dearest Lord for having given this opportunity to attend this one of a kind program and as the brother in the centre mentioned, definitely credit goes to all the 3 brothers who put up such a fantastic show but all thanks to Swami for training them this way. They are ever ready for any such programs. Thanks dear brothers for giving us indescribable joy and happiness. Swami always be with You. Thanks are also due to the Alumni from Singapore who were instrumental for this program to materialise.
Jai Bolo Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai babaji ki Jai