Sai Baba Sri Sathya Sai Baba

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Reports of events from the Sai Baba Ashrams


Glimpses Of Buddha Purnima Celebrations At Brindavan (Whitefield)

"With the blessings ofBhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the Buddhist devotees celebrated the Fourth Visakh, Buddha Pumima Day, in Bhagawan's Divine Presence at Whitefield on May 9 and 101998. The event was hosted by Thailand with the coordination of Sathya Sai International Buddhist Secretariat, which is chaired by Sister Nandini Samarasinghe from Sri Lanka. A large number of Buddhist devotees participated in the event. They were from Japan, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Indonesia, Nepal, Taiwan, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Bahrain, South Africa, Germany and Thailand.

Sai Ramesh Hall and surrounding premises were decorated with yellow flags, Buddhist symbols, the five-coloured Buddhist flags as well as beautiful lightings depicting the artistic traditions of Thai styles. An exquisitely beautiful altar of Lord Buddha was put up on the stage in Sai Ramesh Hall by Thai devotees. This special altar showed the significance of Buddha. It had Lord Buddha's statue in the centre, behind which were three golden leaves, signifying his birth, enlightenment and death. Against this altar was a magnificently beautiful religious Thai screen.

On the 9th morning, a seminar on Inner Peace and the Teachings of Lord Buddha was held in Sai Ramesh Hall. Five speakers from Nepal expounded on various aspects of Buddhism. A large number of Buddhist devotees participated in this seminar. In the afternoon, devotees from Buddhist countries were blessed to lead the Bhajan and they sang with all their hearts to 'Buddha" Sai.'
On the May 10th morning, Bhagawan was greeted by a procession and drum music played by a group of children from Northern Thailand as He emerged from 'Trayee Brindavan" in all His glory. The Thai dancers were in their traditional costumes with their special tribal long drums. The dancers and rhythmic heatings of the drums conveyed the greetings of the devotees to Bhagawan and welcomed Him to the festival in Sai Ramesh Hall. Behind Swami, two Bhikkus (Buddhist priests) walked side by side and then came a group of white-clad Buddhist devotees. After the conclusion of the dance, Bhagawan was greeted by the prayer: 'Buddham Sharanam Gachchami.', sung by Thai devotees. Bhagawan then moved to the stage and sat on a special chair brought from Thailand. This wooden chair was specially carved and made so that when Bhagawan sat in that chair, He looked like a king on the throne. It gave immense joy to the assembled devotees to have Darshan of Bhagawan in that throne-like chair. Then Thai-led Bhajans were sung while Bhagawan sat on the 'throne' for a while and then moved among huge throng assembled in the hall giving Darshan. After Bhajan, Prasadam was distributed to devotees.

At ten o'clock, a Buddhist ceremony celebrating the Buddha Purnima Day was conducted by seven Buddhist monks, five from Thailand and two from Sri Lanka. The monks chanted prayers to mark the event and to bless the participants. Food then was offered to the monks. At lunch a special Thai menu was served in the overseas canteen for participants.

In the afternoon, Bhagawan arrived at four o'clock for the afternoon programme, taking His place behind the desk from where He would give His discourse. Bhagawan was then greeted with devotional songs in English and Thai. The songs gave praise to Lord Buddha and to Lord Sai and ended in the prayer: 'Buddham Sharanam Gachchaami, Dharmam Sharanam Gachchaami, Sangham Sharanam Gachchaami.' The  singing came to an end at 4:15 p.m. when Mr. Hira from Japan introduced the four speakers of the afternoon. He also introduced the distinguished guests such as the grand daughter-in-law of King Rama IV of Thailand, a member from the first family of Sri Lanka. Mr. Hira emphasized that amongst the five important missions, for which Bhagawan had incarnated, one of them was unity of faiths. He said, 'Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is the only Avatar in the history of mankind who has taken upon Himself this stupendous task of restoring, reviving and re-establishing all major religions of the world. At the 1997 Buddha Purnima, Bhagawan mentioned that lack of unity and discipline was the main cause for the decline of Buddhism. But there are 4,000 sects of Buddhism. It is with these sacred and holy intentions that Sri Sathya Sai Organization has undertaken the program me of unity of faiths, in which not only Buddhist or Christians but also all religions can find satisfaction and fulfillment. Buddha Pumima is the direct proof of Sai's universality. It is this universality of Sai, which is accelerating the unity of all faiths. He has the vision that the 21st century will be the century of Sathya Sai or golden century when the world will be one at His Lotus Feet.' The other speakers moved the gathering by their speeches and Sister Puntip Nitising, chairperson of the organization committee of the event, gave vote of thanks to everyone concerned and especially to Bhagawan who had allowed Buddhist devotees to celebrate this event in His Divine presence. After this Bhagawan blessed the audience with His Divine discourse.

When Aarati was performed, Bhagawan lighted another candle to be used for 'Vien Tien' ceremony. Vien Tien is a traditional Thai ceremony of circling around any significant holy symbol of Buddhism, i.e. Buddha image, Pagota or Dharma-Chakra (wheel ofDharma) for commemorating and paying respect to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The main candle, lighted by Bhagawan, was shared by all. Participants then lined up to form rows and moved behind the monks as a procession to circle around at a specially made and beautifully decorated Dharma-chakra for three rounds. Carrying a candle, participants sang 'Buddham Sharanam Gachchaami', The ceremony ended with the prayer 'Loka Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu' for peace in the world. It was a spectacular and moving ceremony put up by Thailand and joined in by other Buddhist countries. At night, there were many coloured lights twinkling on Dharma-Chakra, buildings, trees, expressing the joy of the occasion."

Source: Sanathana Sarathi 6/98, pp. 156 & 157

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