Christmas is always
a well-loved and eagerly anticipated festival in Prashanti
Nilayam. From early December the ashram gets transformed with
devotees converging from various parts of the world. They come,
eager to participate, sing Christmas carols and bask in His Divine
presence. The sight of the multi coloured scarves, the myriad
babel of tongues, blending together in one harmonious note is a
fitting testimony of the catholicity of Swami's teachings and a
tribute to His akarshana shakthi or
Divine magnetic power that compellingly draws people to Him from
all corners of the globe, through the endearing appeal of His all
Christmas 2003 too
was no different! The festivities were set rolling on the
afternoon of the 24th of December, but in reality had started much
earlier. For 2 weeks prior, 75 men and women from many countries
had been working hard and long, painting angels, decorating
Christmas trees and so on, and putting up the decorations
incrementally in Sai Kulwant Hall. This set the tone and the
Christmas spirit was generated in the hearts of all devotees, no
matter what their cultural and religious back-ground. Outstanding
nativity scenes were also installed on both sides of the steps of
the verandah of Sai Kulwant Hall, one depicting Mary and Joseph
and the other showing the three wise men.
The afternoon of the
24th of December, the Christmas eve program was the singing of
Christmas carols by all our overseas brothers and sisters. This
program involved about 400 ladies and 250 men in the adult choir,
and about 100 children in the childrens' choir, well assisted by
75 people serving as Seva Dals. All these people were from 25
countries around the world.
After Swami entered
Sai Kulwant Hall, He slowly walked up to the front of the
verandah, looking and appreciating all the decorations. Walking up
to the nativity scene of Mary and Joseph, He asked, "Where is baby
Jesus?" Swami also lit the Christmas candles to signify the start
of the celebrations.
As if in answer to
Swami's question, the program started with a short skit with
children dressed as inn-keepers; Mary and Joseph went around
knocking on numerous doors and being told repeatedly, "There is no
room in the inn".. …..This story was brought out in song by the
children, and culminated with Baby Jesus being brought forward in
a crib by both Mary and Joseph and placed at Sai's Lotus Feet! The
children then sang for Swami for about 25 minutes.
This was followed by
the adult choir that entertained with songs of praise and worship
to Swami for about 45 minutes. The songs were well rendered, with
full feeling and straight from the heart. After
arathi, prasadam was distributed to
The evening saw a
special Christmas dinner being served to all devotees in the
morning saw all the overseas devotees seated in Sai Kulwant Hall
bright and early. Several thousand devotees present in Sai Kulwant
Hall sang Christmas carols in one voice, for the Christmas morning
After the carols had
set the tone, all the devotees eagerly awaited Swami's arrival.
Swami arrived into Sai Kulwant Hall in the Red Maruti car to the
sound of Vedic chants by the students of the Institute. After
getting down from the car, He walked to the right side of the
verandah and watched the primary school kids dressed in bright red
sweaters and caps, perform a violin concert for Him. One could see
that He was visibly moved and happy at their
bhakti and hard work in their endeavour to please Him.
Still standing, He
signaled to the Band leader of the Institute Brass band. The band
then played their hearts out for their beloved Swami.
Swami then walked
and sat down in His chair. And it was time for a little interlude.
Santa came bounding in, and went up to Swami. After being blessed
by Swami, the primary school boy dressed as Santa went around all
the seated devotees and threw chocolates and candies to them.
The morning came to
a close with the singing of carols by the students of the
Institute. While prasadam was being
distributed, Swami graciously cut the cakes that the Institute
boys had prepared for Him.
saw speeches by the overseas devotees - Mrs. Rita Bruce, and Mr.
Arthur Hillcoat. Swami then surprised three devotees by asking
them to speak - one was a Institute student, Mr. Mahalingam. Swami
also asked Mr Narendra Reddy and Dr. Michael Goldstein, both from
the US, to speak. After this Dr. G. Venkataraman also addressed
the gathering. Finally, Swami gave His Christmas message. He
repeated and stressed that the same Divinity is latent in all
beings in the form of "I". The breath signifies this as
"So Hum" or "I am that". He also spoke of the incident when
Jesus, as a child, gets lost in Jerusalem, only to be found inside
the temple. Swami gave an excellent interpretation of this
incident saying that one has to search "inside" to find Divinty.
(Full text of Discourse available at
Thus the Christmas
festivities came to a close. There might still not be PEACE ON
EARTH yet in these troubled times, but everyone in Prashanti
Nilayam experienced a profound peace in their hearts, that only
the Lord can give.
Welcoming the New
January 1st New Year
day dawned bright and early for the eager devotees waiting in Sai
Kulwant Hall, to ring in the New Year in the Presence of the Lord.
After Swami entered
the Sai Kulwant Hall, He stood and listened to the Institute Brass
Band regale Him with rousing tunes. Visibly moved, He got down the
steps of the verandah and walked closer to the band. He stood
close to them and listened through their program. On completion,
He expressed His pleasure by posing for group photographs with the
members of the band.
Swami then walked
back and sat down in His chair. This was a signal for the
Institute Boys to sing carols to Him. After the carol singing was
over, Swami went to the back of the verandah and cut the cakes
prepared by the Institute boys.
Then, to the
pleasant surprise of everyone, He walked back out onto the
verandah and blessed the crowd again, before taking
arathi and leaving for the
The New Year evening
saw a gathering of the alumni of the Sri Sathya Sai Institutions
at the Sai Kulwant Hall. Feeling the thrill of homecoming, they
decided to express their joy in song, and give a concert for the
enjoyment of the Lord. An alumnus writes of his memorable
experience that day………..
Another year was ready to pass by in Parthi, making some happier,
some wiser, and some older. But in the last 2 days of the year
gone by, time seemed to slow in its tracks, and glance at this
beautiful Abode of the Divine, aglow with the perennial grace of
our beloved Sai.
former students of the Sai Institutions felt the familiar thrill
of a homecoming, as we eagerly arrived in Parthi, elated, and
eager to have a glimpse of Swami.
bird that desires to soar the skies of enduring freedom from
everything, does so from the most majestic tree, from which it
draws its own nourishment. With a gentle push from the breeze of
its swaying leaves, and the firm support of its strong branches,
the tree sets the bird towards greater heights. We are the
birds….and our support and strength : Mother Sai.
last day of the year was a truly memorable one. On December 31st ,
2003,We, the alumni of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher
Learning, as part of our ongoing seva activities, distributed
clothing to 124 boys and 135 girls, from the Government Hostel, in
Puttaparthi and a nearby village. Swami in His infinite Grace and
Mercy, handed over the clothing to the children. We felt gratified
by Swami's love for us, and we were further delighted when He let
us lead the bhajans in the morning. This seemed to be an assurance
of the blessing to come.
first day of January. D-day. We welcomed a beautiful day with our
hearts full, and beating to an expectant rhythm. As we all sat
drinking in the Divinity before us, He beckoned us to sit on the
beautifully decorated stage, … beside Him.
of us were too thrilled to speak, so we chose to sing instead ! A
carefully rehearsed rendering of songs was underway. With Swami -
the Lord, the inspiration beside us, every song was simply the
opening of every heart.
our brother V. Kumar at the outset, there couldn't have been a
better beginning. The song conveyed the essence of what any child
of Sai Maa would sing to his mother. V.Kumar sang "Kahin Tum Badal
Na Jaana". Beginning with mischief the indulgent mother would
lovingly excuse, the song happily flowed, praising the Lord.
Paradise is at the feet of Bhagawan. Give yourself to Him, for He
has already embraced you. Kota Sivakumar sang "Nee charanamalu …"
as Lord Krishna lead Arjuna through his dharma as a charioteer, so
is Sai Krishna leading us all on the path of righteousness, as our
Sarathi. "Sarathi Tu Baba" was soulful rendering by twins :Vikram
and Anand, with masterpieces as interludes from Balasubramaniam on
the violin, Muthu and Saunil Narang on the tabla.
Bhakti is "Attachment to the Unknown". The highest emotion. It was
tangible as Hariharan sang "Chilanga katti", beckoning a little
Krishna to dance his way into our hearts. Shrivastava and Ramesh
struck the right chords with their guitars, and Rajagopal
enthralled us all on the tabla.
Just as a river flows through wonderful paths, leaving beauty on
its trail, so did this rendering. Santosh Pai made ripples with
"Prabal Prem ke", quoting instances in song when the Lord chose to
protect the reputation of His bhaktas rather than His own.
Prasanna Venkatesh provided solid support with fluid movements on
Sudhakar Parth assured the dejected hearts of many a devotee with
his song "Ramji Karenge Beda Paar" After all, with Him beside,
above and within us, what need we fear?
Subbarao and Jaydev formed a fitting conclusion, full of melody.
The very dust on His feet are worth all the riches in the world,
said Subbarao in "Padamle chalu".
Thamasoma Jyotirgamaya, in the Lord's Abode, there is only
effulgence, no darkness. Jaydev sang "Bhagavan ke ghar Dher hai".
the students ended the music program with a group song to our Sai
the delight of everyone of us present there, Swami then gave His
new year message. He said that every moment should be considered
holy and new. He emphasised that there is no greater sadhana than
service. It is better to serve the fellow human being you see than
to worship a God whom you cannot see. He also advised us students
not hanker after money and directed us to cultivate Tyaga,
sacrifice. .(Full text of Discourse available at
so concluded the evening, which was nothing short of an
unparalleled expression of Swami's Love for us children, the Sri
Sathya Sai Students.
Radio Sai E-Magazine,
January 15, 2004