Sai Baba Sri Sathya Sai Baba

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Experiences by Devotees of Sri Sathya Sai Baba

  Gurupurnima 2002 at Prashanti Nilayam
Notes from a devotee from USA

24 July 02 Wednesday Prashanti Gurupoornima

My Dears,

Gurupoornima 2002 was low key compared to some of the other festivals I’ve attended at Prashanti -- but not the crowds! There were plenty of devotees! I left my room at 2:20 am for the token lines. When my friend and I got to the main street of Prashanti (where the autos come in), the token line was already up to Round house 3. There were only a few seva dals on duty at that time, so one of them asked me to direct ladies to a second line. I did that for a some time then, they had us move into two lines as more seva dals arrived to help. We all sat for over an hour and a half before they let us move up to where the token lines normally line up (by the Poornachandra Auditorium) at 4 am. It was! surprisingly calm at the front of the line where I was seated. But the back of the line was a different story! As the women began to feel they might not get inside the hall or be part of the tokens, they began to push forward. I was lucky to miss all that. At 4:30 am tokens were pulled and my line was 9. I was through security and seated by around 5:10 am. By that time the hall was already 1/2 full! I took a seat near the far side aisle and looked around.

A Sai video was playing on the TV monitors for our enjoyment while we waited. More decorations had been put up in the hall. The mandir exterior now had new multi colored, multi looped garlands along the roof edge (hung over the red and gold decorations that were already there from several days ago). The floral arch of yesterday had been replaced with a triple arch covered with multi colored Gerber daisies, red and white tropical flowers and carnations. The pillars one either side of the arches had been refreshed with new flowers. Round floral balls hung along the curved roof edge over Swami’s gold/beige swivel chair. Many more floral decorations were hung around the hall and on the façade of! the mandir. The front of the verandah looked like a lush garden.

The gate leading to the Poornachandra Auditorium was decorated with new mult-colored, multi-looped garlands. A new floral arch had been placed outside that hall gate and in front of the gate to Swami’s residence. It was twice as wide as the one that was there a few days ago. The fence in front of the Poornachandra, the façade and balconies were lavishly draped with colorful garlands some looped and some vertical. It looked very rich and colorful.

The arch that was inside the main driveway gate, had been changed overnight to burgundy with gold letters saying Gurupoornima Festival on one side and Om Sri Sai Ram on the other. Strings of U and V shaped flags in red and white with various designs were strung around the main driveway. There were a number of video cameras set up to record the event.

By 5:40 am the hall was full. Indian ceremonial music began - horns and drums. All the lights in the hall were turned on at 6 am. I could now see that the ceremonial music was coming from the verandah – all the band members were women! They began to play Manasa Bhajare. Some of the devotees in the hall started to clap and sing along.

On the middle of the verandah was a large cylindrical shaped object covered in orange cloth and tied at the top like a present. We all wondered what it was. No one knew in the audience. The lady musicians ended their performance and some men took over (seated in the main driveway).

The VIP ladies were seated up front near the verandah – some on the floor and some in white plastic chairs (normally they sit way over by the gate to the Poornachandra). The verandah itself was overflowing with VIP men, almost not enough room for them all.

At 6:30 am all the students from the local Sai schools came into the hall to be seated. I was seated near a TV monitor, so I had both live and TV views.

At 6:45 am a loud noise began to come from the crowd as the TV monitors showed Swami coming slowly toward the hall from the Poornachandra. Then He came into physical view and the noise got even louder. I could not hear the darshan music. He was followed by 3 men - one was Indulal Shah and the other two are named Srinivasan. All three of these men spoke yesterday at the Valedictory event. In the past, Swami would often be preceded by one of the Sai School bands and followed by another band - coming into the hall with great pomp and stirring music. Sometimes even Sai Gita would come into the hall with the bands following. This year was very low key.!

Before entering the hall, Swami turned off the carpet and went over to an area outside the hall where the women line up for tokens. Ladies were seated there who could not get into the hall (no more room). Swami kindly went over to give them darshan, waving a blessing to them several times. Such love. At this point, some of the ladies in the hall got up on their feet to see what He was doing. The seva dals had to work to get them reseated, so everyone in the back could see.

Then Swami came back over to the carpet and into the hall. I could see that His face was still very swollen, especially on the right side. He walked along the main aisle between the ladies then, cut across to the verandah. He stopped to talk to some of the VIPs along the way. Next, He went over to the orange covered object and pulled a string to open up the cloth covering. A statue/sculpture of Swami was revealed. It showed Swami standing on an open lotus, raising the energy with His right hand and holding a letter in the other – a classic pose. The crowd gasped and then started to clap. The statue was a dark gold/bronze color. Swami was very happy with it and materialized a chain for the sculptor, putting it around the fellows neck and patting Him gingerly on the arm in a gesture of appreciation. The fellow (sorry, don’t know his name) smiled broadly. This is the first official statue made of Swami.

Now the mandir priest began to put garlands on the statue -- first, a long pure white one, then a
shorter red one, and another red one. He started to put on a fourth red one, but Swami stopped him. Three was enough. (The priest had an entire plastic bag of garlands, so he took the remainder back to the mandir.)

At 6:55 am, music came on over the loudspeaker, then singing (Indian language). Swami went over and sat in His swivel chair. A podium was brought over and some young male students in white (with a white cloth and red stripe hanging over their right shoulders) came up to chant for us. When they finished, they bowed to Swami and left.

The MC (Srinivasan) came up to the podium and introduced two men who would speak before Swami. The first speaker was Dr. Michael Goldstein and the second, Sanjay Sahani (not sure of the spelling). Dr. Goldstein came up to Swami, bowed down and then went to the podium. His talk was short, only about ten minutes. Swami listened from His swivel chair, turned slightly to His right, so He could see Dr. Goldstein.

After Dr. Goldstein finished, Sanjay Sahani came up to Swami, gave a flower then, went to the podium. His talk was also brief. As he left the podium and Swami’s desk was being brought out, I noticed that devotees were peering over the fences that surround the hall. There were many, many outside – all along the East,West, and North sides and on the 2nd floor of the East building.

At about 7:30 am, Anil Kumar came up to the podium to translate for Swami, bowing to Him first for blessing. With His desk in front of Him, Swami began, singing the introduction as usual. Here are some highlights (To read the complete Gurupoornima discourse, click on this link : http://www.srisathyasai.org.in/Discourses/2002/Guru_Poornima.htm)

During the day, it is the Sun that sheds its light and helps all the beings in this universe. It is themoon that shows the path to all the beings in the night time. It is dharma that shows the light on the path to all the worlds. It is a true son, who sets a good example – a light for His family and colleagues

Swami spoke for sometime about a fellow named Karnada (don’t know the proper spelling). Swami had to repeat this name to Anil Kumar several times before He was able to understand. Karnada, it seems, was the first to talk about atoms. Swami spoke at length about atoms. He said “God is smallest of the small and biggest of the big. Everyone is a combination of these atoms. Man never made an attempt to know the mystery of the atom.

He said He has had swelling of teeth for 10 days, but has taken no medicine. Yesterday, after His discourse and during bhajans, He said He went inside (the interview room) and focused on all the prayers that were being said for Him by devotees. Those prayers were able to help Him and when He woke up the next morning no more pain whatsoever. I and you are one!

At 8:30 am Swami stopped His discourse and began to sing Vahe Guru interjecting several verses with the different names of God including His own (Krishna, Rama, Sathya). Ocassionally He wiped His mouth off with a cloth.

He stopped singing this bhajan and began to talk again about the Guru and the So Ham principle. About 8:40 am, He begain to sing Hari Bhajana Bina, followed by Subrahmanyam. The devotees sang along enthusiastically. Then, He stopped singing again and had Anil Kumar make an announcement: There would be a cultural program in the Poornachandra Hall at 6 pm put on by the Bal Vikas and devotees of Canada.

He lit 3 arti lamps as we began to sing and the big bell was rung. While we were singing, Swami went to the back of the verandah and blessed some of the men there. Then He came back up front bringing some young boys along. Anil Kumar went back up to the microphone and spoke first in Telegu, then in English saying that these young boys were orphans and Swami had adopted them all! He would see that each had 1 lakh rupees. He would take care of them in every possible way. The children then filed off the veranda.

Swami went to the interior of the veranda again and lit the candle on a large cake that was on a table with wheels. Helpers brought out prasadam in big silver bowls for the school children and VIPs and a few lucky devotees. Meanwhile, Swami began to hand out gifts to the VIPs on the veranda from a basket. It was something wrapped in green.

The Indian ceremonial music began again. The male band came around from behind the mandir on the ladies side with all the orphans following in a mini parade. They moved in front of the veranda, then over to the men’s side and disappeared. Swami finished handing out the gifts and began to walk toward the exit. At the end of the veranda, He was greeted by two Indian ladies, one held a ceremonial bowl/pot with a candle stuck in the top for Him to light. The other had a coconut. He lit the candle then, continued along the side aisle toward the Poornachandra. The sacred conch was blown and large cymbols were played. ! ; Guruproonima 2002 had concluded.

For the sake of the large crowd of devotees, Swami had several temporary “canteens” put up at strategic locations throughout the ashram. Food was available in any of these, as well as the regular canteens.

In the afternoon, darshan was back to the normal routine although the crowds were still very large and filled the hall. It was a hot day. The TV monitors were still in place and turned on. Swami came at around 2:30 pm. He walked through the ladies quickly, then up to the verandah. He had helpers give more prasad to the VIPs and students while He supervised from the door of the interview room (we could see this because of the video cameras!). Eventually Swami went inside and darshan was over.

Bhajans began early (4 pm) because of the cultural program at 6 pm. I did not attend either bhajans or the cultural program because I was extremely tired. But, I could hear both events from my room over the loudspeakers that are set throughout the ashram.

My dears, this has been a most incredible, inspiring and sacred four days (the conference and Gurupoornima). I hope I was able to convey some of that to you in these emails.

At His Feet Love,


Source: http://www.geocities.com/saicenter_us/snl/snl_080802.htm

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