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Parthi Update


 


Om Sai Ram!

A friend residing at Parthi has written a descriptive account....ENJOY!

Take care and God bless!

lalita

I could get off work a little early to watch the Ganesh procession on the 20th. I came when the statues of Ganesh were already in a semi-circle around the Darshan hall and Swami was seated in the chair, and remained so the entire time. Vedic chanting went on for some time and then, after Swami gave the word, the boys near each statue came up to Him and had their puja plates blessed, after which, one by one, the statues left the hall through Gopuram gate in procession. This is the first eyar that Swami did NOT go to each statue, blessing them and breaking coconuts in front of each; and the first year that the statues did NOT go around the Mandir in pradakshina before leaving the hall (though place enough was made for them to do so).

There were several great displays but the funniest of all was Ganesha sitting in a chariot, driven by SANTA CLAUSE, pulled by REINDEER and surrounded by students dressed as ELVES! Ha, ha!!

Since there was no body of water even several kilometers around Puttaparthi (the lake where the idols are usually immersed, being dried up due to drought and lack of ground water), I hear that there were plans to take the Ganesh statues in trucks to some nice water source about an hour away.


16-09-2004

In the evening Bhagawan came out for Darshan and went inside the interview room with some VIP’s. Beside our Bhajan group, there was a group of youth sitting in whites with all their music instruments. They were the Sundaram Bhajan Group singers from Chennai. There was some meeting of all the Samithi convenors of Tamilnadu at Prasanthinilayam on the 16th and 17th of this month. Along with them, these Bhajan singers had also come. Swami completed the interview and as He came out of the interview room, He sent word for the Sundaram Bhajan group to start their songs. Even as Bhagawan came and sat down on the sofa, the first song began. What professional singing! Believe it or not, it was a wonderful treat to our ears and heart. Song after song flowed – so soothing and melodious. The voice was very sweet and mellifluous, tunes were soul stirring and the selection of songs itself was very good! We had Tamil, Kannada and Hindi songs. All songs were about the glory of Lord Krishna!

What is more important is the participation of Swami in this programme. As soon as Swami sat down, He asked one of them to come forward. The person went forward with the card. It was a brown colour card that looked very elegant and had the programme details within. Swami opened the card and went through the details and asked him a few questions. Then Swami asked them to sing a particular song. They began that song. We enjoyed it thoroughly. As they concluded the song or rather were in the last few lines, Bhagawan opened the card again and selected another song. As they completed the current song, He asked them to sing the next song of His choice. Thus it went on, song after song. Each time Bhagawan would see the card and ask them to sing a particular song. Literally “Khuda Ki Pharmaish”. All throughout, Swami kept the card with Him on His lap!! What a gesture of Love and flow of compassion!

Throughout the programme, Swami kept giving Taalam (beat) and there was a smile on His face, a loving smile acknowledging their devotion and love for Him. It was a treat to all of us. They sang from 3.45 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. Then Bhagawan asked them to sing Bhajans. This too was a very thrilling experience! Bhagawan retired by 5.15 p.m. 

17-09-2004

We all assembled in the Mandir for evening Darshan. The Sundaram Bhajan Group was again sitting in front. We hurriedly went and took our place. Swami came and sat on the sofa and signaled for the Sundaram boys to start their programme – part 2. Once again the same experience. Very good songs. Not the usual one’s but still very catchy, good beat, and very nice to hear. After they sang a few songs, Bhagawan asked for our Music boys. Very quickly, the music boys gathered in the front. Two of the music boys were holding a card to seek for permission regarding music programme the next day – for Ganesha Chaturthi. Bhagawan called them forward, looked at the card and asked “What about now?”

The boys were taken by surprise. They said, “Swami group songs”. Bhagawan said, “Sing Padyams (verses)”. Boys asked, “Swami, stotrams?” Swami said, “No, sing Padyams”. The boys went back and having no idea how to start, they began with the Ganesha Stotrams that were actually meant for the next day! That is Bhagawan!! Full of uncertainty and surprises! We just need to take things as they come and enjoy the flow of His Love! The music boys continued with stotram after stotram. Many Gurupoornima Stotrams were chanted.

Meanwhile Swami spotted two of our young Music College singers. They used to often render the Ramakatha songs in front of Bhagawan. Swami asked them to sing the Rama Katha. It was a long time since they had performed. I’m sure their hearts would have beat faster than ever! They readily burst forth with the series of Rama Katha songs. Swami was continuously looking and smiling at them. That kept them going on smoothly. At the end there was a loud applause!!

Bhagawan retired by 5.40 p.m.

18-09-2004

We wish you a very happy Ganesha Chaturthi! On this holy day, Bhagawan came to Sai Kulwant Hall at 7:30 am and took His seat in the portico. He called the V.C and asked him as to who would speak. In fact boys had prepared a nice programme consisting of group songs interspersed with commentary, dialogues, dance, etc. revealing the inner significance of all the aspects of Ganesha and the festival. But just like it happened during the Krishnashtami festival, Swami asked for individual speakers. There were no scheduled speakers and so the V.C with Swami’s permission called research scholar Sri Deepak Anand to address the gathering. Deepak Anand spoke about Swami being the One in whom all names and forms of God resided. He narrated the experience of one of our students who was blessed with the literal physical company of Lord Ganesha, when he was in the Institute.

Thereafter Swami blessed Sri Shashank Shah, a student of the M.Phil programme in Management, to share his thoughts with the audience. He spoke on the inner significance of the various facets relating to Lord Ganesha. He also narrated the incident where Bhagawan had blessed Swami Amritananda (a disciple of Sri Ramana Maharishi) with a vision of Lord Ganesha in the interview room many years ago. Swami Amritananda in his childhood days had performed a very special Yajnam for Lord Ganesha. As per the Sastras the benefit of this Yajnam was supposed to be the Darshan of Lord Ganesha Himself. Reminding Swami Amritananda about this, Swami asked him whether he had got the Darshan of Lord Ganesha. When Amritananda answered in the negative, Bhagawan gave him a vision of the golden hue Ganesha!!

The third speaker was Sri Bharat Kumar from the II MBA class whom Swami blessed to speak. He spoke on the efficacy of Namasmarana and his personal experience at Tirupati; how Swami had miraculously helped him to have a very good Darshan of the Lord within a very short time, with the help of a recommendation letter of a Minister unknown to him, that mysteriously landed in his hands on its own!

Finally the Vice Chancellor, Sri S.V.Giri addressed the gathering speaking on the significance of the Ganesha festival.

After his talk, the Vice-Chancellor prayed to Bhagawan to give His Divine Message. Swami nodded His approval. The table was arranged and Bhagawan arose to give His benedictory Message to all of us.

The highlights of the Discourse will come to you in my next mail.

As the Discourse ended, Swami signaled for Prasadam distribution. The entire Kulwant Hall was soon bustling with activity. Boys moving all around distributing juicy red apples! Meanwhile Swami called those boys who were ready with the programme and asked them what it was all about. One of them explained that they were going to talk about the inner significance of all the aspects of Lord Ganesha relating it to the Nava Vidha Bhakti. Hearing this Swami said that we must not limit Lord Ganesha to Nava Vidha Bhakti, for Ganesha is above all this. He is the Atmic Reality! The boys nodded and said that they would incorporate this too in their presentation. Swami said that we would have the presentation in the evening.

In the evening, Swami came around five past three and got down on the dais but then went walking towards the interview room. He was inside until 4.15 p.m. Then He came out, sat for some time and finally called the boy to whom he had spoken in the morning. Swami asked him as to what they were going to speak. The student said that they were going to speak about Ganesha as the transcendental reality. Bhagawan asked them to also mention that Lord Ganesha is beyond the Pancha Bhootas too. With His Blessings the programme began.

A song to start with. Then the first pair of anchorers began their talk saying that though Lord Shiva and Vishnu had specific pilgrimage centers for them, there is no village or town without the temple of Lord Ganesha. Then they went on to say that the real pilgrimage to Lord Ganesha was on the path of Nava Vidha Bhakti. They explained the first two steps- Sravanam and Keertanam. They said that both of these are relevant only if done with total Bhavam (feelings). This was followed by a dance by one of the students to the stotram ‘Ganesha Pancharatnamala’ in the recorded voice of Smt. M.S. Subbulakshmi (Mudakarata Modakam Sada Vimukti Sadhakam…). Swami and all of us enjoyed the dance.

Thereafter the next module had two boys discussing the inner significance of the various physical features of Lord Ganesha. One was a sculptor who complained that he was getting bored of doing the same work every year. Make these idols in large numbers and sell them. He did not gain any satisfaction from this work. To this, his friend explains that any work done mechanically without understanding its significance will lead to despair.

He then goes on to explain the inner significance of every part of the idol. To start with, the huge elephant head symbolizes intelligence; the large ears indicate that Ganesha is ever ready to hear to the pleas of His devotees. The goad in His hand is to goad humanity to walk along the path of spirituality; the noose in another hand is to catch people who are on the wrong path. The missing tusk reminds us of the great sacrifice made by Lord Ganesha in breaking off His tusk so as to allow the dictation of the great epic Mahabharata without any interruption! The tiny mouse symbolizes Tamas (ignorance). The mouse is a nocturnal animal found only in dark and dirty places. Lord Ganesha has a command over this Tamas and has mastered it. So Ganesha who has Mooshika as His Vahana is the Master of ignorance and He dispels ignorance in humanity.

Thus true Vishnu Smaranam is not only mechanical remembrance of God, but also keeping the form of the Lord in mind, with full knowledge of its inner significance. Further, when the elephant moves in the forest he creates a path for other animals. Thus the elephant is a path maker. Similarly Lord Ganesha is the path maker. He sets the path for all of us and is a role model for all the students and youth. Therefore, true Padasevanam is following the path laid by the Lord. Walking in His footsteps and living His message is true Padasevanam!

Thereafter, there was a stotram chant, followed by the next two anchorers. They touched upon the next step of Archanam, narrating the story of why the Durva grass is offered to Lord Ganesha. Once when Mother Parvati and Lord Shiva were playing a game, they appointed Nandi as the umpire. On completion of the game, Mother Parvati was the winner but Nandi declared Lord Siva as the winner. This outraged Mother Parvati and she cursed Nandi with an incurable disease. Nandi went pleading to Mother and told her that he had no choice other than declaring Lord Shiva as the winner because He was his Master and he was the slave.

Impressed by the feelings of Nandi, Mother Parvati agreed to take back her curse provided Nandi would offer what was cherished by him most, to her son Ganesha. Durva grass – the most precious item cherished by Nandi was offered to Ganesha. This is how the practice continues even today. The inner significance of this is that when we go to religious places we have a tendency to offer things we do not like, to God. But in reality, we should offer that which we like most, to our Lord, as a Tyaga (sacrifice) similar to Nandi. As Bhagawan says we go to Gaya and give up Bitter Gourd over there!!

In the Gita, Lord Krishna clearly elaborates on the practice of Archanam, saying that what a devotee should truly offer to God is the Patram (leaf) of the body, Pushpam (flower) of the mind, Phalam (fruit) of the rewards of the actions and Toyam (sacred water) of the tears of Bliss! Bhagawan goes one step further and says, “Give Me all your bad qualities and I shall give you good qualities in return”.

Thereafter there was a group song, “Sri Ganesha Shivuni Kumara Shrutajana….”. A Telugu module followed this song.

This module expounded on Vandanam. It was full of humour. Two ‘so called’ Pandits are going around trying to give Discourses on Lord Ganesha. When asked by a scholar to explain the meaning of the verse, ‘Suklam Baradaram Vishnum….”, they go on to explain that this verse is not meant to describe Ganesha but it is about Sai students. Suklam Baradaram (wearing white clothes), Vishnum (found everywhere, in India and even abroad), Sasivarnam (the cool mark of white Vibhuti on their forehead), Chaturbhujam (with two hands and two feet), Prasanna Vadanam (always cheerful), Sarva Vighna Upa Shantaye (pacify their taste by adding more salt to a saltless dish!)….(Laughter!!)

They go on to give one more explanation of this Sloka as narrated by a washerman (dhobhi). Suklam Baradaram (white in colour), Vishnum (found everywhere, wherever you see), Sasivarnam (having a cool disposition), Chaturbhujam (with four limbs), Prasanna Vadanam (always cheerful irrespective of being patted or beaten), Sarva Vighna Upa Shantaye (O Ganesha, prays the dhobhi, “please remove all obstacles in the way of my pet so that it can peacefully complete it’s task”.)….This is the donkey that is used by the washerman to carry the bundle of clothes!! (Laughter!!)

Listening to all this, the scholar chides them for spreading all this perverted meanings. He then goes on to explain the true meaning of the Stotram as the One wearing white (pure) clothes, Omnipresent, as cool as the moon, with four hands – ever ready to help His devotees, ever Blissful with a pleasant smile on His face, bestowing peace by removing all hurdles – He is none other than Lord Ganesha Himself! We must offer our Vandanam to this Lord.

Another student elaborated on Vandanam and Dasyam in English for the benefit of the non-Telugu audience. In Vandanam, we join our two hands representing the five Karmendriyas and the five Jnanendriyas, keep it close to our heart and then bowing down with humility, we offer all these to the Lord. This is true Vandanam. True Daysam is when one offers help and service to others with a feeling of compassion and amity and not with a feeling of pity. We become a Dasa (servant) of the Lord in every being!!

Then the boys sang another stotram and thereafter the aspect of Sneham – friendship was very humorously depicted wherein, a student is talking to his teacher about making Lord Ganesha as his new friend as the exams were soon approaching. To this the teacher corrects the student saying that this is the mistake we all make. Friendship is not meant for this ‘give and take’. True friendship must be related only to the Atmic bond. The student then asks the teacher as to how one could cultivate this bond. The teacher says that this can be done by loving God as one’s true friend. It is only then that we will experience His Love.

The module culminated in the depiction from the Kathopanishad, about the analogy of the human body and the chariot. The chariot stands for the body, the five senses are like the five horses, the reins stand for the mind, the charioteer is like the Buddhi and the owner of the chariot is the Atma! This was illustrated with the help of five boys acting as the horses with the rope of the mind binding them together and another student acting as the Buddhi controls the rope in his hand.

If the Buddhi has control over the rope of the mind, the senses are under check. If not, the chariot of the body will be under total chaos with each of the senses following their own way. Thus making the senses subservient to the mind, the mind subservient to the Buddhi and the Buddhi subservient to the Atma, is true Atma Nivedanam (self-surrender).

Thereafter the boys communicated that Lord Vinayaka was the supreme Atman itself and true Atma Nivedanam was surrendering the individual self to the Supreme Self. Lord Vinayaka was even beyond the Nava Vidha Bhakti and the Pancha Bhootas. He is the supreme consciousness pervading the entire cosmos and it is to Him that we have to offer ourselves in totality and attain the supreme mergence. He is Vi + Nayaka – the one without a Master. He is Gana + Pati – the Master of all the Ganas that represent the ten Karmendriyas and Jnendriyas and the mind and the Buddhi.

One of the students explained the inner significance of Vidya, which was not merely the secular knowledge, but Atmavidya – the supreme wisdom and Lord Ganesha is the bestower of that supreme wisdom.

Finally, praying to Bhagawan to cast at least one glance at us so that we may acquire this supreme wisdom, the programme ended with the Qawalli, “Ek Bar Yun Nazare Milakar Dekh Le Sai……….”           

Bhagawan then asked the boys to sing some more group songs while Prasadam was being distributed. Swami very lovingly called the boy who danced and materialized a small idol of Lord Ganesha made of gold, for him.

Swami sat for another 20 minutes and took Arati at 5.45 p.m. All throughout the programme Bhagawan was smiling and expressing great joy! This was a very satisfying experience for all of us. Thus with the Blessings of the Divine Father we returned to the Hostel to worship the Divine son in our wing altars.

The immersion ceremony is going to be on Monday and therefore all boys are busy fabricating and decorating their palanquins and chariots. We are awaiting the colourful and joyous ceremony the day after!

Sairam

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Posted by Azmeen Kasad on 20.09.2004