Parthi Prays Through April Days in 2011
This is how Parthi stepped up its individual and collective Sadhana as the Divine Frame chose to take upon Itself, perils that threatened humanity.
Oblivious to malicious talk and unperturbed by vicious pens, Parthi continued its Sadhana in a calm vein. In temples and individual homes chants and bhajans rang out. The village geared up for akhand bhajan and night long vigil, so no procession on the streets of Parthi…but the inner procession continues non-stop as it should. The world over, the feeling is thus – Where the mind is without I, and the heart is full of Sai, into that heaven of freedom, Oh Lord, let my soul awake…
Each drum beat, each ring of the cymbals is pleading with the Lord and praying to Him for Him…and why shouldn’t they…? For all that He takes upon Himself, saving humanity from disastrous effects of natural calamities which threatens the existence of millions, it is on their part but a humble act of acknowledgement and gratitude, isn’t it….?
Hearts full of gratitude to Bhagawan for all that we know He does and all that we don’t know…to the Universe for all its abundance, for the country we live in…do we wish to be in any other place than the one the Lord chose…? So too, wholesome gratitude to our parents for giving us life and for introducing us to ‘life’ – to Bhagawan.
Also, isn’t it important to have gratitude towards the physical casing of the atma – the vehicle for the soul, to each and every organ for functioning well, to the eyes for seeing His Form, to the ears for having heard Him, to the feet for having walked His Way, to the mind for its focus on Him…and to the heart for being the shrine where He does dwell…?
1st Week of April
…Collective Harmony in the heart of Parthi…beyond caste, colour, religion – a rare example of unity…
When the Cherished One allows Himself to be admitted to the ICU of SSSIHMS, the Cosmos watches with bated breath as to what He has written next in the Divine Play, for only He knows the script and He is the Director Supreme in this Cosmic Drama. What is known to us is that devotees the world over – in every village, city, home and heart are praying to Him…for Him. For a change, there is a selfless prayer in every heart, mind and soul, an ardent appeal, a passionate plea, in all humility, with pure love replete…that goes beyond any personal benefit or selfish need…a prayer that asks Beloved Bhagawan to cure Himself…as He has done with millions over the last eight decades of this Avatarhood.
What is perhaps not known to us is that every being in the Universe also has a prayer in its heart, concern in its mind, tears in its eyes and hope in its very being. From the plains to the deserts, to the mighty Himalayas…from the lay person to heads of state, to saints and Himalayan Masters…all souls are joined in prayer to the One for the One.
Faith is the sole factor for each soul. A collective appeal from the individual soul to the Super Soul to heal whatever It has deemed fit to take upon Itself, for the highest good of the Cosmos.
And Puttaparthi, the village which received the ultimate benediction when the Lord willed Himself to be born and continue the scenes of His Divine Mission here…is awake, alive, alert and aware with fervent prayers and deep devotion. Every hearth, home and heart is imploring Dearest Bhagawan to heal Himself and return to Prashanti Nilayam without further delay.
All temples are holding prayer meetings which include bhajans, yagnas and various chants for the speedy recovery of their Beloved Lord. Come evening and there are groups of devotees converging from different lanes and by lanes, with adoration in their hearts, devotional songs on their lips and candles in their hands. They are like little streams and rivulets, gushing forth from myriad directions, bobbing up and down with diyas, merging together at the Holy Feet of the loving ocean of extreme benevolence, represented by the deity of Sathyamma at the temple dedicated to Her – Sathyabhama, the Precious Consort of Krishna.
Their passion, dedication, loyalty and love for Bhagawan is overwhelming to witness and exhilarating to experience. The entire village is effervescent and vibrant with adoration for the One Who gave them life and is their life. An amalgamation of unified faith, a combined gathering of such a large multitude continuously over a period of 11 days for just ‘one person’ is unheard of anywhere in the world. But of course that ‘one person’ happens to be Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba – Whose Unconditional Love and Selfless Service for humanity is an example in itself. Bhagawan is receiving the love with which He has touched the lives of millions in every nook and corner of the globe.
Unified prayers bring collective harmony resulting in a benediction supreme, and this is the entreating hope of every soul.
2nd Week of April
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamayaa
Millions flock to Him…they love Him for what He is, all that He is, for all that He has done and keeps doing for the individual, the society, the nation, the world and the universe too. For them that is proof enough of His Divinity. They have experienced His Magnanimity, His Presence, His little and great acts of Supreme Grace, the miracle of His Unconditional Love and so are now expressing it in a befitting manner. For them, He deserves the best and they are bent upon offering their best. Unshakeable is their faith, heartfelt their gratitude, unmatched is their fervor, dedication, devotion and tenacity of purpose – to have their Lord amidst them at the earliest.
This is how it is in Puttaparthi right now. This little township is alive with plentiful pageants that carry life-size photographs of the Lord of Parthi, while singing devotional songs through the lanes and by lanes, the crisscrossing of various such groups charging the environment with piety.
More than 200 women had a ‘coloured light’ procession of their own. A parade that glowed with the hues of adoration. Carrying plates of worship, that contained candles, flowers, coconut, turmeric, vermillion, betel nuts and betel leaves – phalam, pushpam, patram toyam – upon their heads and singing aloud hymns in worship of their Lord, these ladies carried out a special act of devotion past every temple of this holy village.
Large groups of children too have taken to the streets, themselves pulling the huge chariot carrying garlanded pictures of Bhagawan – a Rath Yatra, even as they sing aloud in their tender voices, bhajans pure in their intent.
Candle lights – that rekindled hope and faith. Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamayaa – leading away from the darkness arising out of the absence of their Dear Lord to the radiance of His coveted darshan. It seemed the onus is on humanity to woo Beloved Bhagawan. Clearly devotion has swept into the sands of Parthi and the hearts of its inhabitants … “Parthipurishwar Jaya Mana Mohana”.
14th April, Thursday…was reserved for the men folk of Parthi to express their devotion. Hundreds gathered outside Ganesh Gate with candles in their hands, a prayer in their hearts and hymns in praise of their Lord on their lips. Chants of ‘Om Sri Sai Ram’ rang out aloud and echoed in the ether. Accompanying this devoted gathering was a floral float drawn by a tractor. Colorful bouquets and flowers bedecked the gigantic photo frame of Beloved Bhagawan. They passed on their candles of love, hope, faith and worship, as an offering, which was collected by seva dal and devotees from inside the Ganesh Gate and made to adorn the parapet surrounding the deities under the canopy of the Peepal Tree opposite Ganesha.
A myriad candles glowed bright with unified prayers and collective harmony.
Further down the main street of Puttaparthi, children sang and danced in circular formations, even as the elders of the village played the drums and cymbals with synchronized rhythm. The residents of the village, each one of them were leaving no stone unturned to coax and cajole their Beloved Lord to be amidst them again. Indeed a sustained spectacular effort with amazing dedication.
3rd Week of April
Monday evening there was a special pageant from the village of Gokuntlapalli, near Bukkapatnam. This gathering comprised of simple village folks of all age groups – men, women and children, who with great fervor and dedication, carried placards in their hands that had pictures of Shirdi and Parthi Sai, as well as a ‘get well soon’ message for their Lord, in English and Telegu. The candles of hope that they held in their hands, were placed around the parapet surrounding the deities under the lush green foliage of the Peepal Tree. Twilight gently crept in, and the twinkling stars watched with delight, even as some of them offered flowers of worship to Lord Ganesha.
The procession then continued to the Hanuman Mandir where an amazing moonrise waited to greet them. The full Moon, brilliantly golden hued, seemed to be worshipping Sathyamma, paying obeisance to Her, with its silver rays caressing Her Beatific Profile and Lotus Feet. The Goddess, dressed in a stunning green silk sari with a red border, smiled resplendently.
It being Hanuman Jayanti the entire temple complex was bathed with moonbeams that seemed to enchant and be enchanted with the bhajans and chants, the pealing of bells and the aarati that was being offered to Bhagawan. Devotees prayed to Hanumanji, the Valiant One, Who is considered the most devoted, to bring forth the Sanjivani and carry their appeal to their Lord to be amidst them soon.
21st April, as the evening gradually got enveloped by velvet dusk, devotees flocked to the various temples to propitiate the deities. There was a synchronized pealing of bells from all the temples. Sathyamma looked ever radiant accepting offerings of flowers, fruits and colourful glass bangles. Dressed in dark green silk with a pink border, Her hair was adorned with fresh blossoms and dazzling ornaments, while many an appeal was being whispered in Her ears.
Along with the daily worship, which was ever fresh and fragrant and never a ritual or routine, Parthi was diving into the memories of days following the spectacular divine dawn that heralded the Advent of the Avatar. A reminiscing that not only refreshed many a wondrous saga that had been witnessed, but rejuvenated faith and hope, as limitless were the miracles that every heart and household had experienced.
The innumerable acts of care, concern and compassion of ‘tiny’ Sathya; the knowledge, wisdom, insight and understanding of their ‘little’ Raju; the omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent acts of their Beloved Swami resounding through the globe, beyond space and time made them realize they were face to face with God – and Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba was He.
This was the dwelling that the Lord selected for His Advent. He chose to be the cherished ‘Son’ of Parthi. No, not a palace as in Treta, or as the ‘Prince’ among the cowherds in Dwapara, not even the royal household chosen during the time of Buddha…for the much awaited sunrise for this dark age of Kali, He chose a humble hamlet, obscure and hitherto unknown…soon to be considered most sacrosanct.
And so, Parthi realizes that this jolt out of the blue, from the Infinite to the finite was to shake awake slumbering humanity steeped in sloth.
The Lord singled out this humble hamlet and with His charming ways became its most Cherished Soul. The hardships He faced as He ‘grew’ – walking for miles to reach a school; carrying water in pots attached to the two ends of a stick, which left His tender shoulders bruised; extreme paucity of medical facilities, later led to free Educational Institutes, innumerable Water Projects and Super Speciality Hospitals, besides other acts too numerous to mention, that became His benediction to humanity at large.
Through the examples of little Sathya’s life, Parthi learnt that man can learn how to elevate his destiny and ascend to a higher way of living and being.
Knowing that sensationalism and speculations led to strife; irrational thought, reckless talk and irresponsible reporting led to distress, disharmony and a display of immaturity, and that aggressive accusations belonged to devious, disgruntled minds…Puttaparthi decided to –’put apart I’ and follow the ways of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai.
On the evening of 22nd April, it was clearly a play of rain and reign…the natural elements were openly lending their support to the persistent pledge of prayers, by not only the residents of Parthi, but devotees all over the world in whose hearts Beloved Bhagawan reigned supreme. The roar of thunder fuelled the storm of devotion in every heart, the gusty winds carrying their devoted fervor echoing into the ether, only to mingle with fresh wisps of adoration throughout the planet.
The rain did not dampen the will of Parthi….but delivered their spirits into the realm where the Benevolent, Limitless One reigned Absolute.
Prayers, a myriad chants, devotional hymns, continued in respective homes and temple complexes. Some took rounds, circumambulating the shrine while others did surround the deity with adulation. From offering garlands made up of betel leaves to Hanumanji…seemingly asking him to carry their message to Sai Rama…to festoons of fragrant flowers…devotees continued their efforts to woo their Dear Lord.
Keeping in mind the whimsical, fathomless and mysterious ways of the One Who sat under the Neem Tree in Shirdi, it appeared to them that the same mystifying, inexplicably mystical phenomenon had been carried forward into Parthi. Erring humanity had to be taught lessons that would wake them up from their slumber.
They had made a firm choice – Ours is not to question why… ours is but to follow Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai.
And so it was, that the towering crusade of their trust, faith, love and hope was not to be overcome or disturbed by the tiresome tirade of tattered tongues.
Clearly in Parthi the mind had not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit. Taking its cue from ‘Little’ Sathya, who started a ‘Pandhari Bhajan’ group at the age of ten, many continue this tradition in Puttaparthi. Even at the age of five He was a Guru to His friends, setting an example with His ideal behavior.
For Rama Navami, the children would make Sathya sit next to the picture of Sri Rama, placed upon the flower bedecked bullock cart that gently ambled its way through the village. The Pandhari Bhajan group consisted of twenty ‘little’ members. They would dye their clothes light orange, wear scarves and garlands, and bell – anklets. While some carried flags in their hands, some had little wooden clap sticks, as well as drums and a harmonium. Sathya would compose the bhajans and teach His friends. Thus, these tender aged ones would sing and dance and go around the village to the great delight of the elders. When they ventured out to neighbouring villages people would clean their houses to welcome them and feed them too. The villagers firmly believed that it was because of this remarkable Pandhari Group and their devotional singing that the dreaded epidemic of cholera kept its clutches away from Puttaparthi. Though Sathya was the ‘littlest’ of this assembly, He was the soul of the Pandhari Group and its most active member, often jumping and dancing in rhythm to the hymns.
Today, the Bhajan Hall in the Hanumanji Temple complex has devotional songs reverberating through the ether every evening. The clanging of bells and other holy chants that ring out from elsewhere simultaneously make the environment intensely devout and potent. The walls of this bhajan hall are adorned with many a unique picture of Bhagawan. There is a magnificent, thought provoking, life-size painting at the back of the hall that depicts the churning of the Ocean and Lord Shiva as well as Beloved Bhagawan, swallowing the poison that spewed forth.
From then till now, He is still doing so in order to shield and save humanity from its own venomous follies.
Small wonder then, that in this sacred village of Parthi, as well as elsewhere around the globe, all hearts beat for Beloved Bhagawan and every lip has a prayer…to Him for Him…
Even as ebony and ivory exist peacefully on a piano keyboard, Parthi too, through the ideals of its cherished Sathya, has made this harmonious blend a way of life. In a world filled with despicable diatribe, their hearts are full of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai.