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CHRISTMAS AT PRASANTHI NILAYAM


Posted by Bharadhwaaj Ramaswamy on 28-12-2003

 

CHRISTMAS BLESSINGS

 

 

SWAMI’s Love and Blessings flows on each and every one of us every moment.  Who ever it is wherever we are, HIS Love and Blessings never come to an end.  One of such fortunate incident happened on the Christmas Day to our family at the Christmas Bhajan at our Sai centre.

 

The first half of the programme was bhajans and the second half was the Birth of Christ enacted by Balavikas students.  One among the programme was Santa Claus walking into the scene and distributing gifts to the devotees sitting there.  Santa Claus had a cane bag from which he was throwing coloured papers. One of the papers that fell on the lap of my mother turned into chocolate.

 

We spoke to the Head of the Centre about the same and it has been confirmed by him that there were no chocolates kept inside the bag.  It was absolutely the Prasadam from SWAMI and as usual one of the miracles played by HIM. 

 

We felt blessed.

 

At HIS LOTUS FEET

Bharadhwaaj Ramaswamy


December 25, 2003

Christmas Day in Prashanti.

Swami came out at about 7:05 a.m. He came in the red car, wearing the orange robe, not the white robe, which He has worn during Christmas’ past. He was welcomed with the sound of Christmas songs over the loudspeakers and vedic chanting. It was quite an unusual mix to hear. Both sounds persisted, but the carols won out when the volume was turned up and nearly drowned out the unaided chanters. Swami took His time to come to the veranda, stopping a while in the ladies section. On the veranda He got out of the car in the usual spot on the left side. From there He walked forward and slowly made His way across the front holding onto the guardrail. He stopped on the right side in front of a group of young students wearing red sweaters and red caps. The students stood up; one of them walked towards to the left and remained there alone.

They were to perform for Swami on stringed instruments. The lone boy on the left, I believe, is one of two boys from America (Colorado) who are studying in Swami’s school. He is in the fifth standard, while his older brother is in the eight standard. In the past several weeks Swami has given both boys a lot of attention. The older brother has joined the group of chanters and just a couple of days ago was selected by Swami to stand on the veranda steps and chant with another boy as they faced the audience. The younger boy of this morning performed for Swami on a cello, while the other boys played on violins and violas. They performed mainly Christmas carols, and the boy was allowed to play some solo parts. His mother, I understand, is a violin teacher.

After the boys’ performance an older student came up to where Swami was standing and showed Him their musical program. Swami blessed him on the top of his head. He returned to the main floor and the band of older students stood. Clarinets, trumpets, trombones, tuba, snare and bass drums. It seemed to me also that the father of the boys mentioned above was playing the upright bass guitar. They performed several selections for Baba as well.

A third group of performers followed, accompanied by an electric keyboard and percussion instruments. This group performed songs of original composition with Christmas themes about Jesus and Baba. The songs were very upbeat and lively. My Dutch companion noted that this was the most merry Christmas he’s experienced in his 80 years of life.

At about 8:06 the singing concluded and Swami signaled for the distribution of prasad. As with yesterday, the distribution was very organized through the section of foreigners. Some of the prasad made its way to the Indians behind; it was only then that chaos began to emerge, but it soon died down as the prasad ran out. In about 15 minutes arati was sung and Swami departed. Afterwards Prof. Anil Kumar announced that Swami consented to give a Christmas discourse this afternoon.

For afternoon darshan there were six speakers who preceded Swami’s discourse: one American lady, the Australian man Hillcoat, a student of
Swami’s (for whom Swami afterwards materialized a golden necklace, which He personally placed on the boy’s neck and into his shirt), Narendra Reddy, Dr. Micheal Goldstein, and Dr. Venkataraman. Swami’s Christmas message, which you will shortly be able to read in full, was clear: I AM I. This is what we should all realize about ourselves. We should not look outside in search of our true nature. The truth of our nature lies within.


Sai Ram Everyone and Have a Happy New Year.

Lovingly shared by a Sai Devotee

Posted on 26/12/2003



December 24, 2003

Merry Christmas greetings from Prashanti!

We just returned from afternoon darshan Christmas eve. This is the time for the foreign devotees. The program was put on by the foreigners.

Darshan began at 3:17 p.m. Swami came in the red car as usual. But instead of vedic chanting He was welcomed by orchestral Christmas music played over the loudspeakers. Swami came onto the veranda directly and got out on the left side. Before getting out of the car He called the tall Australian gentleman with the white hair and white beard. The man went to the car and spoke with Swami briefly before returning to his seat. Swami then came out and walked to the front of the veranda. The hall is decorated with the usual festival decorations of red lanterns, various colored Indian-style garlands hanging from above, and different colored triangular “flags” strung across the driveway section.. In addition there were Christmans theme  decorations: long red cloths hung from the columns, silver “stars” hung from the ceiling, two Christmas trees (one on each side of Ganesh), and more.

This morning Swami had given two-handed blessings, one for the gents and one for the ladies. We did not get the same blessings this afternoon, but the program was still very special. There were participants from 24 different countries. Foreign sevadals “managed” the foreign devotees in their reserved seating area along the driveway and closer to the front. We were able to go inside immediately without having to line-up outside with the chit lines; there was a separate line for foreigners. The sevadals were very organized and nice.

As soon as Swami came to the front of the veranda He walked to the center. A small boy and a smaller girl came up to Him and gave a rose and the program. He returned the rose and the red ribbon to them and He opened the program and read it. He then touched the little girl on her cheek. They returned to their seats in front. The Australian gentleman then came to Baba with a candle, which He lit. The man then guided Swami to light two candles on stands on either side of Ganesh. We clapped at this official beginning of the program. Swami then tried to extinguish the candle in His hand by shaking it, but He did not succeed. The man by His side blew it out for Him.

Swami then took His seat at front and center. The western choir began by chanting in unison the usual vedic chants that welcome Swami into the hall. That was a very nice touch, unexpected for westerners. What followed was a short re-enactment of what took place on Christmas eve over two thousand years ago. A boy and girl playing the roles of Mary and Joseph went from inn to inn asking for lodging. They were turned down by the three inns they approached and were finally told to go to the stable where the child Jesus was born. The children did singing along with live music accompaniment at each inn. Finally they walked upstage towards Baba carrying the infant in their arms and placed him in a “manger” set up in front of the veranda where Swami normally sits. Baba blessed them before they returned to sit.

The children’s choir, directed by a Dutch lady, then began. They sang to the accompaniment of various instruments: flute, trumpet, snare drum, guitar, electric keyboards, tabla. Their songs were lively and upbeat, and some were even done with harmonizing. They sang for 45 minutes.

The adult choir, conducted by an American lady, followed the children’s
choir. They performed familiar and new compositions. There were three
sections: men, soprano ladies, and alto ladies, each section singing in
unison. They sang a few songs in round. The crowd thoroughly enjoyed it, clapping after each song. The one who enjoyed the singing the most was Baba Himself. Many times He sat there with His head tilted back and looking “heavenward” with eyes closed. His left hand would be upturned and “raise the energy”, or just be still in mid-air.

At about 5 p.m. He called the conductor and spoke with her; He wanted her to continue with the music as He directed the students to distribute prasad. The foreigners were directed by the foreign sevadals to remain seated during distribution: they listened and followed. The students were able to go through the devotees unharassed and everyone, or mostly everyone (most of the ladies missed out) was able to get prasad (one candy and one Indian baked sweetie). Then at 5:12 p.m. Baba lit the arati lamp and arati was begun. Swami then walked towards the interview room and went inside. The foreigners were asked to remain seated; they complied while the bulk of the locals got up and left. When Swami came out again to depart in the red car, the foreigners remained seated until Swami was almost at the gate.

What a very different and pleasant experience from the other festival days here. Merry Christmas to all.


Lovingly shared by a Sai Devotee

Posted on 25/12/2003

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