Aum Sri Sairam,
Our pranams at the lotus feet of the Lord. We are boosting with energy and love, for we received them in a larger amount at puttaparthi for four days at a stretch. Things look more beautiful now. My friends say I have changed. All is swami’s love showered upon us. This miracle is the result of All Maharashtra & Goa Youth Parthi Yatra *(Conference). About 2700 youths from about 28 provinces (including Goa) attended the 4 day spiritual conference.
We left from Goa to Hubli on 31st of January ’08. Our group was about 30 in numbers. Others were coming by various means of transport. The Sai Jyoti of Goa was leaving in the evening on the same day. The journey to Hubli was long and tiresome. Many among us did not know each other and all we were doing was smiling and then neglecting. At Hubli we refreshed and boarded the train to Guntakal. We celebrated the New year ‘2009’ in the train. It was a small party and the only eatable was ‘veg. patties’. After that we played some indoor games and started with antakshari- of hindi films, occasionally a bhajan popped out. This is where we started to know each other. Twelve among us formed a good group.
From guntakal we reached Sri sathya sai prashanti nilayam railway station (the longest name of a station I have ever heard), and boarded a bus to Puttaparthi. The scenary on the way was awesome, especially the Super specialty hospital. That day we had a complete rest, but in the evening went to take swami’s darshan. It was one of the best days for devotees at puttaparthi as swami was at kulwant hall as late as 7:30 p.m. and the majority of the time he spent was on a divine discourse. Late evening, we arrived at our shed. Our group leader told us that this is where we would spend our next four days. Many among us said “Oh God!. The Shed was very big, but it was already full, packed with at least 400-500 people. Somehow we managed to get some place. Our leader instructed us and gave us scarf and identity card. They also told us that the need not partake food outside as they arranged the same in front of our camp.
Next morning (2nd January) many of us had a bath. The water seemed warm, but the line outside the bathroom was long as hanuman’s tail in Lanka even as early as 5 a.m. We managed well and reached the Kulwant hall at about 8 a.m. (I never woke before 9 am at home). But Swami did not come. So we were a little upset. In the evening a big portion of Kulwant hall of filled with youth donning their orange scarves. Today was the day Swami had blessed us to put up our programs in front of Him.
It was about 5:30 pm when Swami arrived. A huge curtain of the Tri-colour hung from the ceiling to the floor acting as the giant background. before it were giant backdrops of red fort. Sai youth rejoiced at the close darshan.
After spending about 20 minutes in the interview room Swami came out and asked for the programme to begin. A train of youth moved up to Swami with various offerings and Swami patiently blessed each and every one of them. Then, Swami called the coordinator and told him to make the announcement soon and begin the programme.
The introduction for the drama on Netaji Subash Chandra Bose was given and then the programme began. 27 fire torches lit from their respective Sai Jyotis were presented in a beautiful way before Swami. The 27 Jyotis merged into one in the Divine presence and that was used to light a candle which Swami used to light the “Maha Jyothi” as they referred to it.
After that ceremony, the drama began. Subash Chandra Bose also called Netaji was a colossus amongst the brave men of the world. The drama displayed his spiritual and social attainment, many of which we were unaware of. He was strongly influenced by Swami Vivekananda’s teachings. The drama also showed his contribution to the freedom struggle and it was an inspirational story. In one plot, Netaji wrote to his mother a letter saying that, he was not fighting only for independence from British, for the nation still had to be administered after that and he also desired true freedom in its complete spiritual sense. Swami too, being specially fond of Bose, watched the drama attentively.
As the drama concluded with the final song with Bose marching out with the INA – the Indian National Army, the Tri-colour was waved in thousands by Sai Youths. Swami consented and moved down the stage for a group photo with the participants. As He did that, He also spoke to many of the boys and accepted letters.
One particular boy almost broke down telling Swami that though he had been studying and trying very hard, he was not getting a call to do MBA in Swami’s University. Swami took his application form and gave instructions that the call letter be sent to that boy! There were smiles all around. Prasadam was then distributed as the youth started bhajans. Before leaving the compassionate lord blessed us the Sai youths with ‘Abhaya Hasta’ (blessing with both the hands).
In the Morning, Swami gave us a blissful surprise. Sai youths were waiting for Swami in the mandir and as time passed by, it seemed he would not come. But lo, the kind lord appeared at the last moment when the hopes of the devotees were dying out.
In the evening, there was a sitar and “zitar” concert by Niladri Kumar, son and disciple of sitar player Pandit Kartick Kumar who was in turn a disciple of Pandit Ravishankar. The “zitar”, a creation of his, is an instrument that is a fusion of the sitar and the guitar. Along with his accompanying artistes, he sat ready from 3:30pm awaiting Swami. When swami arrived and told them to begin, they presented a mind blowing ‘fusion’ music. After that Niladri said his experience during the time of 69th B’day celebration of swami. He said that when he first came to Swami, his hand was in bandages. Swami had blessed him in the darshan lines and told him to play the next day. He did exactly that and from that day on, every note that has issued from him, has been due to the blessings of his guru and Swami!
Showering his grace at them, the Swami manifested a ring for him and blessed the other band members.
Over-whelmed by the blissful showers of the lord, they took back their seats and played a mind-blowing solos. The jazz-drummist and the mridanga was awesome. They also sang the bhajan ‘Madhusudhana hare madhava’, which received booming claps. After that, swami present safari to each of them and accepted Aarti.
At 8pm, we all were said to gather at the conference hall. Mr. Nimish Pandey, a close devotee of swami and also a lawyer, gave an inspiring speech to the sai youths. He began by saying, ‘You all will be thinking why you have been called here, but know one thing my friends, you don’t come here by your own will.’ He shared with us some of his humorous experience with Swami. He wished us to make the best out of this conference.
This evening over the ceiling of kulwant hall were a number of banners that depicted the greatness of womanhood. At the centre mother easwaramma’s picture was printed over the banner. There were two separate songs programmes – one by the ladies and one by the gents. Swami came out for darshan at about 4:15pm and after the rounds, arrived on stage. He sat listening to the chants for a while and then moved into the interview room. It was about 5:00 pm when He came out again and asked the youth to begin their programme. The ladies then began their part of the programme.
It was a programme based on the great women of Bhaarat. There was a short narrative in English and Telugu. It must be recorded here that the speakers who spoke in Telugu did it “by heart” in every sense. Though ignorant of the language, their diction and delivery were perfect. There were narratives on the great women viz. Rani Laxmibai, Draupadi, Urmila- the wife of Lakshmana and the wife of saint Tulsidas who turned all his worldy passion into divine Love. Each narrative was followd by a song specially composed on the woman concerned and there was also a mini-ballet depiction of a major incident in that woman’s life. Swami seemed quite absorbed in the presentation. In between he kept looking at the banners above, especially the one with mother easwaramma.
Soon enough, on the conclusion of the ladies programme, the gents came to Swami to seek blessings to begin. They also got a book released which Swami personally signed in His own hand! The songs sung had all been pre-recorded and the youth sang over the CD track. Swami was not impressed! He told the co-ordinator that there was no effort involved and everything has already been recorded. Swami seems to prefer performances to be “Live” for there is a joy when we do things directly for God in His presence. The end result may not be so fantastic, but God never sees the results- He is interested only in the efforts. After two songs, Swami moved into the interview room and the songs too went on. They could not cease as the tracks played on. The songs were abhangs and some were those that Swami Himself had composed
After the programme had concluded, Swami arrived on stage again. He had a mocking smile on His face and He said that it was of not much use and that there was no efforts involved. “All old songs! nothing new. Girls did lot of efforts, but boys- no efforts.” Ultimately, all are His own children. So, lovingly, He came down the stage and went first towards the womens’ section. He began to distribute sarees to them. Then, He waded right into their midst and posed with group photo with them. They were a picture of high joy and deep gratitude as Swami sat smiling among them. He advised the,”Do more work. Do not get into politics. There is so much politics among ladies!”
All this while, the gents side was a picture of doubt- would Swami come to them? Swami smiled and said that He be taken to the gents side. There was a loud cheer as Swami got safari cloth pieces distributed and then posed for pictures amidst them. He accepted letters from many of them and then moved to the front, where He sat watching the distribution in progress. Swami then moved up the stage and asked the ladies to lead the bhajans for the evening. Two bhajans later, Swami received Aarthi and retired for the day.
It was a very energizing day for us. Again we all gathered in the conference hall. Nimish pandey praised Sai sisters for their dedication and devotion that they had put for the concert. After him, All Maharashtra and Goa president took over, in his inspiring speech he said how a devotee should behave and how we should spread the love we have recieved here.
Today morning Swami did not come, but we did not mind. We were very happy with what we had recieved. This afternoon, we were called in the conference hall. There every District coordinator was handed the jyoti lit from the maha-jyoti lamp. As this ceremony was going on, everyone was singing the bhajan, ‘Akhanda Jyoti jalawo’. After all the 28 Maha jyoti lamps were lit, Mukesh bhai and other brothers gave us instructions regarding the Maha Jyoti.
This evening some lucky ones got the chance to go inside the bhajan mandir and we all sat outside in the hall. Swami came in his car, when he came towards the sai youths, he lowered his window pane and gave us darshan. Then he went out of the kulwant hall. Meanwhile We sat listening and singing bhajans. After some time he came back and gave us darshan again. It was joy upon joy – limitless joy.
This evening we sat near the sai jyoti and prayed. he did our shopping and bought gifts for our loved one at home.
Today morning, we woke up at 5 am. we had our bath and sat before our Maha jyoti. There we said suprabhatam and sung bhajans. Other sai youths joined us and the atmosphere had become so divine that we almost forgot ourselves. We felt so good that we were not feeling to end the bhajan. We kept on singing. Ultimately in the end someone forced in with ‘Om Tatsath’. We then distributed vibhuti to all and took snap with the Sai jyoti for he was swami himself.
At about 8 am we roamed at the outskirt of Parthi and visited the ‘Kalpavriksha’. By that time it was afternoon and we boarded the bus to the railway station.
We reached Goa on 7th afternoon and we are very joyous. Before going we were feeling many odd things. We thought going for a picnic or a beach party would be better. pilgrimage are for old people. Thank god we did not listen to our brain, but followed the sayings of our hearts and true friends. We are eager to spread the love insde us to all. We have changed somewhere in the way we look at others. Everyone now seems to be our own. The conductor, the beggar, teacher, friends and rivals, we find a lovely bond in them. I have started to smile for no reason. I have ceased to react and started to respond.
We have planned a drama on Sai jyoti. We have planned bhajans and abahangas. Some are composing. Soon we will make a conference and invite all our friends and relatives; from there we would spread the awareness and love.
All we need is his Anughraha (will).