was festive atmosphere everywhere as the Sai Kulwant hall resounded
with the sonorous tunes of the brass band and Vedam chanting. To
add to the joy of the devotees, Bhagawan walked down the red carpet,
led by the students from Muddenahalli and Alike educational institutions
of the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Trust who had gathered to celebrate
its Silver Jubilee year in the immediate presence of their mother,
mentor and master Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
Sathya Sai Loka Seva Trust was formed with the noble intention of
providing value-based education to the young minds so that they
grow straight and strong to be exemplary leaders of society and
the country. To achieve this end, the Trust currently runs two magnificent
educational institutions, one being at the sylvan surroundings of
Alike and the other at picturesque Muddenahalli, both these schools
located in the state of Karnataka of South India. The Trust was
founded by a great devotee of Bhagawan, late Sri Madiyal Narayana
Bhat. After his sad demise, Bhagawan Baba, in 1978, graciously accepted
these institutions into His fold to the delight of the Trust members.
Including about 2000 students and staff from the educational institutions
at Alike and Muddenahalli along with their parents and well-wishers,
around 15,000 devotees had converged at His lotus feet to celebrate
25 golden years of their association with Bhagawan.
After the ceremonial welcome, Bhagawan lighted the lamp amidst thunderous
applause to mark the inauguration of celebrations on the beautiful
Tuesday morning of 27th of January, the first day of the two-day
celebrations. There were five speakers who addressed the gathering
that eventful morning. The first speaker was Sri Gangadhar Bhat,
Chairman of Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Trust, who went down his memory
lane in his soulful Kannada and narrated the story of the Trust
with all its cataclysmic and ecstatic moments. Sri Narayan Rao,
the Secretary of the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Institutions, Muddenahalli
followed him and presented a report of the activities of the Trust
in the last 25 years. On this occasion, Bhagawan also released three
books published by the Loka Seva Trust. There were three student
speakers following Sri Narayana Rao - two of them in English and
one in Kannada- who expressed their love and gratitude to Bhagawan
for His infinite love, blessings and grace. After the student speakers,
Bhagawan Baba graciously consented to give His divine message and
when He rose and started His discourse in chaste Kannada, the devotees
could not contain their delight at this unexpected blessing. The
audience listened in rapt attention, to Baba’s message, which
came in an uninterrupted flow since there was no translation. Bhagawan
praised the devotion of late Sri Narayan Bhat and lauded the dedication
and commitment of the members of the Trust for their excellent work
in moulding young minds.
The cultural programme in the afternoon consisted of a few folk
dances of the state of Karnataka and a scintillating performance
of Yaksha Gana, a traditional form of dance-drama very popular in
the southern regions of Karnataka, on the theme “Krishna Leela”
depicting episodes from Lord Krishna’s boyhood. After the
programme, Bhagawan graciously granted group-photographs to the
thrill of the participants.
The next day, the 28th of January, was a day of cultural extravaganza.
After Swami arrived at about 7.30 a.m. in ceremonial procession
just like the previous day, a dance drama entitled “Sai Leela”
was staged by the students. The presentation gave life to the legend
about Baba’s advent concerning Sage Bharadwaja and through
dances and music, created beautiful scenes of Swami’s advent
and His childhood. This was followed by a traditional ceremony called
“Ashtavadhanam” wherein various art forms, are offered
to the lord in a ritualistic fashion. The first to be offered was
Veda Parayana (Chanting of hymns from all the four vedas), followed
by puranas, shastras, the holy sound of the conch, the soothing
music of the flute, the art of vocal music, dance and finally, reading
of the panchanga (or the almanac). It ended with the rendering of
“Sai Ashtakam”, a string of eight hymns glorifying Bhagawan
Baba. After the programme, Baba came down the stage and blessed
the members of the brass band and the pundits who had participated
in the “Ashtavadhanam”, spending lot of time with them,
presenting them with gifts and posing for photographs with them.
At three in the afternoon of 28th, as Baba’s car glided its
way to the Kulwant Hall, students from Alike and Muddenahalli welcomed
Bhagawan with a sweet welcome song even as the other boys chanted
vedic hymns. There were some more beautiful group songs to follow,
in Kannada and English. The highlight of the day’s proceedings
was a dance-drama called “Jagadoddhara” depicting the
ten avatars of Lord Vishnu - an hour long presentation, which concluded
with Sai Avathar, the avathar of the Kali age. It was a fiesta of
song, dance, music, melody and some very good acting talent. Each
participant’s heart was brimming with joy, which was amply
reflected on their smiling faces as they stood next to Bhagawan
for a once in a lifetime chance of being photographed with Him.
Baba gave Himself to them, talking to them, blessing them and showering
gifts on them.
It was an unforgettable day not just for the staff and students
of Alike and Muddenahalli schools alone, but for each individual
present there that evening. For, such instances of witnessing the
supreme love filling and overwhelming His children are memories
that will be treasured for a long time.
Jai Sai Ram!