Sathya Sai Baba & Indulal Shah

Sri Sathya Sai

INDULAL SHAH
He ‘organises’ the Sai mission.

Sometimes friends can help change life permanently. Indulal C. Shah met Bhagawan ‘by chance’ while visiting long-time friend Mr. Java in Bangalore in 1965. He stayed on to become a cornerstone personality in the mission of Sri Sathya Sai. Moving up the Organisation ladder, he is today the International Chairman of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation. He and his wife Sarla have literally nurtured the Sai Organisation and made it the most important part of their lives.

Sri Indulal Shah has been a Chartered Accountant since 1942. He participated in the ‘Quit India’ Movement and was an ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi. He had been Secretary to the Indian National Congress from 1951 to 1960 for the Bombay Region. He had been associated with the Khadi Movement for a decade from 1954. The President of India and the Prime Minister have decorated Sri Shah with a gold medal and a shield for rural work and contribution to the building of rural economy.

Sri Indulal Shah has since long been spiritually inclined. His baptism into spirituality took place when he stayed in the Ramakrishna Mission Hostel in Bombay (Mumbai) from 1937 to 1942. From 1949 to 1964, he had been the joint secretary of the Mumbai branch of Sri Ramakrishna Mission.

In 1951, Sri Indulal Shah visited Shirdi for the first time. He has been making pilgrimages to the shrine of Sai Baba ever since.

With this blessed background, Sri Indulal Shah had Bhagawan Baba’s darshan in Malleswaram in 1965. Bhagawan was to address a public meeting and rain clouds had filled the sky. But Bhagawan willed the filled clouds away. The clouds of doubt and reservation too disappeared from Sri Indulal Shah’s mind. Along with wife Sarla and daughter Darshana, he went to have Baba’s darshan in Whitefield. Bhagawan saw him only after five days. The five days wait gifted Sri Indulal Shah his first personal interview.

Sri Indulal Shah’s long association with spiritual institutions has created in him the zest to present spiritual messages through words and pictures to the masses. Trained in the direction, he was able to prepare an exhibition on Bhagawan in the 60’s that ran for four months. Earlier he had prepared a ‘Sant Darshan’ exhibition in Mumbai and in 1969, the Gandhi Centenary Committee of the Government of India nominated him member secretary to oversee the preparation of a mobile exhibition on the Mahatma. In years to come, Sri Indulal Shah was to co-ordinate Prajnan Pradarshan (exhibition on spirituality once housed in Bangalore), Sanathana Samskruthi – Eternal Heritage Museum in Prasanthi Nilayam and finally his crown offering to Bhagawan – Chaitanya Jyoti, also at Prasanthi Nilayam.

In 1976, Bhagawan visited the residence of Sri Indulal Shah in Mumbai for the first time. Ever since, on some occasion or the other, Bhagawan would visit his home to shower His love on the man who officially ‘looked after’ His organisation. Even recently in June 2001, Bhagawan flew down to Mumbai to call on his ailing wife.

Sri Indulal Shah’s association with the Organisation is ever since its inception. In August 1965, when the registration of the organisation was in progress, Sri Indulal Shah was actively involved in the process. In March 1967, Bhagawan stayed at his Mumbai residence and finalised the site for the Dharmakshetra ashram of the Organisation. Dharmakshetra was ready by May 1968 to host the First World Conference of Sri Sathya Sai Organisations.

In 1967, during the first All India Conference of office bearers of the organisation, Sri Indulal Shah prayed Bhagawan to enlarge the scope of the Organisation and include education in its scope. After a gestation of twelve years, Bhagawan announced the Education in Human Values Movement in 1979. The EHV Movement has since flourished into a landmark step in the evolution of education in India and abroad.

For many years, Sri Indulal Shah held the position of All India President of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations. After 1985, Bhagawan gradually drew him to the international scene. Today Sri Indulal Shah is the International Chairman of Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisations.

Yet, Sri Indulal Shah is a humble sevak of Bhagawan. It was his humility and tremendous concern for others that made him the recipient of tremendous grace from Bhagawan. In 1967, at Madras, during the All India Conference of Sri Sathya Sai Organisations, Bhagawan was speaking to a private audience in Telugu. Sri B. Ramakrishna Rao, once Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and Governor of Uttar Pradesh, remarked that Sri Indulal Shah did not understand Telugu and that a translation was necessary. Bhagawan then said, “No, there is no time, he understands Telugu” and patted Sri Indulal Shah on his head with His fingers. To his surprise, Sri Indulal Shah was able to understand every word in Telugu that followed during the discussion!

Many such remarkable incidents are cherished with sweetness in this soft-spoken gentleman’s life. However, he cherished the teachings of Bhagawan the most. He has made a particular saying of Bhagawan central to his life: “It is not enough that you love Me, but you must see whether I love you.” Sri Indulal Shah leaves no stone unturned to deserve the love of Bhagawan.

Sri Indulal Shah has authored four books on Bhagawan, all of them reflecting on the Divine teachings: Sixteen Spiritual Summers (1980), We Devotees (1983), Spiritual Blueprints of My Journey (1993) and I, We and He (1997). He had also produced the popular film in Hindi on Sai Baba of Shirdi, Shirdi Ke Sai Baba.

Sai devotees have been privileged to work directly under his inspiring personality and guidance. His love and concern for his co-Sai workers is immense. When the serial blasts took place in Mumbai in 1993, he called up the residences of his brother Sai devotees to enquire if they were safe. A man of principle, Sri Indulal Shah has been a role model for many youngsters on how to lead and run an organisation. After all, he ‘organises’ Bhagawan’s mission.

Reference

Sathya Sai And Indulal Shah

Anandamayi Ma – The Blissful Mother

Anandamayi Ma Young

Anandamayi Ma – The Blissful Mother
By Chris Parnell (a Sai Devotee)

Individuation & Personality
Anandamayi Ma was born in East Bengal (now Bangladesh) in 1896. She was the second child of a pious, highly orthodox, impoverished Brahmin couple. Her devout mother had several auspicious dreams of gods and goddesses before Ma’s birth – a sign usually indicating the presence of an imminent mahatma (evolved soul). She was named Nirmala Sundari, and attended school only for two years. She was married when thirteen years old, to Mohan Chakravarthi, who later became her disciple (renamed Bholanath), and, finally a guru (spiritual preceptor) himself.

Their marriage would never be consummated: when her husband once tried to initiate conjugal relations, he felt a violent electric shock surge through his body. The Divine Light in Ma began to spread radiance and splendour. Soon Hara Kumar Ray, brother of the landlord of Astagrama, began to view Ma as a spiritual Mother. One evening Ma went into a deep trance during a public kirtana (devotional singing session). This further added to her growing reputation as an extraordinary spiritual personage.

Often, sitting in her room at night, after impeccably carrying out the household chores during the day, an ‘inner guidance’ prompted Ma to recite ancient Sanskrit verses and mantras (potent sound-symbols) which she had never heard. She also experienced the different aspects of God. When asked who or what this ‘inner guidance’ was, Ma replied, “Your Shakti (Divine Power).” It was then revealed to Ma: “You are everything.” After this, she stated, “I realised that the Universe was all my own manifestation… I found myself face to face with the One that appears as many.”

On the night of August 3, 1922, Ma, guided by her inherent Shakti initiated herself. She played the roles of both the guru and disciple – uttering an arcane bija mantra, which she then repeated for a while. This unprecedented self-initiation rite shocked one of Ma’s cousins. Ma had ‘flouted’ an age-old tradition, as well as ‘set’ herself up as spiritually superior to her uninitiated husband. Ma promised this cousin that Bholanath would also soon be initiated. Sure enough, five months later Ma initiated her husband, sending him into deep trance for two hours! Ma followed, in full, all the details of the initiation rite prescribed by the ancient scriptures.

While living in Dacca, Ma’s spiritual lustre illuminated many hearts. Many times during religious chanting, she would become stiff and even fall to the ground in a faint. Her body would variously become deformed during these events. She would sometimes hold difficult asanas (yogic positions) for long periods and spontaneously form complex mudras (tantric hand positions) and gestures.

Sometime in 1924, Ma lost the ability to feed herself. Henceforth, she was hand-fed by a devotee. Once she abandoned all food (solid and liquid) for 23 days. For one six-month-period, she ate only six grains of rice daily, and two or three ripe fruits fallen off the tree. Ma ‘knew’ which fruit had fallen and which had been plucked!

Once when Ma passed a Muslim tomb, she immediately began to recite portions of the Quran, and perform the Namaz ritual. This, and other similar acts, showed that Anandamayi always moved through a variety of psychic and spiritual states.

Anandamayi Ma wrote no books. She travelled extensively throughout India and established many ashrams, affording women the opportunity to lead the celibate life as brahmacharinis.

Ma’s devotees are spread worldwide. They are of all ages, from different walks of life, from various religions. Westerners began visiting Ma since the 1940s. Mrs. Blanca, a former Austrian aristocrat, became a renunciate under Ma, receiving from her the name “Atmananda.” This lady outlived Ma by a few years. She performed invaluable service by translating Ma’s teachings into English and other European languages.

Speaking about Brahmacharya (the life of celibacy), she said that it was better to become an ideal family man than to become an aimless brahmachari (celibate). In her view, “There is nothing wrong in leading a virtuous family life. It is good for some people to strive to move close to God through marriage.”

Ma, in the midst of a conversation or a devotional song, would often begin to laugh in a rich, resonant and rhythmic voice. Her laughter sometimes quite prolonged seemed to say: “Don’t worry – be happy!” This was in keeping with “Ja hoye jay” was the most frequent of her pithy East Bengali aphorisms. It means, “Come what may, all’s well, all is God’s wondrously intelligent, benevolent play.”

Travels and Teachings
Ma was once invited to the Sevagram Ashram of Mahatma Gandhi. Dr. Rajendra Prasad (first President of India) and Acharya Vinóba Bhave came to have her Darshan.

Kamala Nehru took Ma and her followers, there. Gandhiji greeted her, addressing her “Mataji” and Ma reciprocated by addressing him “Pitaji.” Mahatmaji took Ma in his arms like a little child. Appropriately Ma turned into one, hiding her face in his chest. Gandhiji’s first words to her were, “Perhaps you know that I sent Jamnalal to you. He came back and told me that he got the peace of mind from you which I failed to give him.”

Mentioning Kamala Nehru’s devotion to Ma, Gandhiji once told those present that Kamala used to treat Ma as her guru. Ma immediately protested, “Pitaji, I cannot be a guru to anyone. I am just a little girl.” Ma and Gandhiji spent the whole day together like a little daughter meeting her father after a long time.

Ma meets Shri Aurobindo
Once, at Bhimtal, Ma experienced travelling in the astral form to be with Shri Aurobindo. From Bhimtal, Ma moved to Nainital. Here one day, during a kirtana, she suddenly found that the congregation comprised a myriad Krishnas. There was just one image of Lord Krishna but in her eyes all participants had turned into living Krishnas. A similar thing happened in a gathering singing the glory of Ram. In her eyes, all those present had been transformed into Ram. Speaking about high significance of Nama Kirtan, Ma said, “It is not being suggested that you leave everything behind and run away. You should be with the world and its various demands, but keep a fire burning – the fire of His name. If He chooses to bless you, then this fire will burn all impurities and lead your pure soul unto Him. Live your life in this world but keep Him along.”

Ma on Karma
Once a man named Pannalal came with a problem. His friend had been continuously doing sadhana (spiritual practice) for 20 years without any change in consciousness and had now decided to leave the path in disgust. He had even lost faith in God. Ma told him that mere external sadhana was not enough. One had to get rid of lust, and desire. “If you hold on to the chain while taking a bath, you can never have a proper dip.” Again, “the old practices and beliefs stand in the way of getting to Truth.”

Pannalalji’s wife used to pray and meditate hours on end everyday and yet she died in pain of cancer, after a prolonged illness. Why did she suffer like that? Ma explained, “One accumulates the effects of habits, practices and beliefs over several life-cycles. Don’t you think it is His mercy if all the accumulated ill effects are washed away through the suffering in just one life-cycle?” Dwelling on his friend’s doubt, Pannalalji asked, “Can one see God?” Ma’s replied, “You can see Him the way I see you now or you see me here – there is no difference. You can achieve Him more intimately if you have a yearning to achieve and feel Him.”

Anandamayi Ma Middle

Ma and Islam
Shortly after 1945, Ma was felicitated in a function organised by Muslims. After excerpts from the Holy Koran were read, speakers discussed various aspects of religion. By her presence, Ma emphasised that in essence every religion had the same message: the disputes were over the external attributes and rituals.

One day, speaking about the ways of God, she said, “Frequently, you lament over the unkindness of God, when you are merged in sorrow; but the point is that He dispels danger only by creating danger. No one would move towards Him unless one passes through sufferings.”

Ma and Mother
At Madras, a devotee asked Ma the way to reach God. Ma said, “Cry for Hari and you will get Him.” The questioner said he was incapable of crying. Her reply was, “In that case, keep company of those who can.”

Ma went to Pondicherry next. She had a meeting with ‘The Mother.’ Mother stood in the sitting room of Sri Aurobindo and looked at Ma for a long time with a fixed gaze. Ma looked at Mother with a natural poise. Mother presented Ma with a rose, a ‘ball’ flower (globe lily) and two pieces of chocolate. Ma returned the rose and one piece of chocolate. Mother kept the chocolate but gave the rose back. This exchange of flowers was repeated twice or thrice after which Mother tore a portion off the rose and returned the rest to Ma. The same evening, the two had another meeting at the same place. Mother was distributing roasted peanuts to visitors with a spoon from a wooden container. She offered some to Ma who said, “This little girl is the youngest of all.” Mother said in English, “Forever a little child.”

Poorna Kumbh
Once Ma attended the Kumbh Mela at Allahabad. Millions of people from all corners of India had assembled there. A camp was set up also by Anandamayee Sangh to receive devotees. Mohantas (high priests) of three sects – Dasnami, Udasi and Vaishnav – were honoured at the camp. The Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath also paid a visit. The auspicious moment for the holy dip fell in the small hours of the night of February 3. As Swami Paramananda left with a hundred devotees for the dip at three in the morning, Ma looked unusually disturbed. When the second batch left the camp a few minutes afterwards, Ma told them to chant God’s name all the while. At nine in the morning Ma lay down and suddenly cried out, “There, they are being crushed, stampeded, there they cannot breathe.” Shortly, the sad news of hundreds of devotees having been stampeded to death was received. Later, while returning to Kashi, she said, “When the tragedy occurred, it was as if ‘this body’ was being crushed and it was ‘this body’ that was losing breath.”

On Conquering Fear
Ma’s birth anniversary was celebrated at Solan one year. The Governor of Himachal Pradesh came to have her Darshan. Ma felt at ease in the calm and quiet atmosphere of Solan and devotees could approach her easily. Once, talking to a group of young men, Ma said, “You can conquer fear if you think of God. He is the soul – the life force. Unless you call Him, you cannot get free from the shroud that covers you. Never try to bribe your way to God. If you try to deceive, you will be deceived yourself.” On reaching God while leading a family life, she said “Turn your house into a temple of God. Whosoever stays in my house are images of God and I shall serve them as a manager. If you can live in this spirit there is every chance of your becoming a true servant of God in good time.”

Time taken to reach God
Ma returned to Kashi Ashram. During a religious discourse there, a devotee asked whether any particular name of God when recited would lead to Him more quickly. Ma said, “All names given to God have the same power. You can reach your destination by taking any name you like. The more intense your sadhana, the quicker you reach Him. Take it lightly and you take more time.”

Devout Mistake:
Once Ma went to Kishenpur Ashram for a week. Shortly after, Ma was at Kankhal. Devotees surrounded her. An old lady bowed in Pranaam (salutations) before an American lady, mistaking her for Ma. When she realised her mistake, Ma assured her, “You have done the correct thing. There is just one Lord; everything else is of no consequence. To whomsoever you may bow your head in reverence; the offer is being made to the Lord. For that matter, all creatures, plants and even inanimate objects are nothing but the manifestations of God.”

Last days of Earthly Sojourn
By March 1982, symptoms of an undiagnosed ‘disease’ that baffled doctors showed on Ma’s physical form.

On the Guru Poornima Day on July 6, Brahmachari Bhaskaranand performed worship to Ma as she lay in her bed in the Verandah. She herself restricted Darshan to once a week – half-an-hour every Sunday. For quite sometime preceding this, Darshans had been completely stopped. A number of devotees came for her Darshan on July 11. Among them were Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, her sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren. Indira Gandhi had rushed down from Delhi on hearing the illness of Ma. For a few minutes Ma sat up on the bed and spoke to her. This was the last time that Ma sat up on her own to give Darshan to anybody.

The condition of Ma’s body was preparing itself for Ma’s Mahasamadhi conscious exit of the soul of an evolved personage, and mergence with the Absolute. In the night of July 23, Ma told Mrs Khaitan, “Tomorrow morning ‘this body’ will move to Kishenpur Ashram.” On arrival at Kishenpur, next morning, she was seated in a chair kept in the courtyard, and then taken straight to her room on the first floor. It was here that the Divine Light completed Its role as ‘Ma’ and merged in Itself.

Once Ma took a trip to Lucknow. While returning, she received the news of Jamnalal Bajaj’s death. He used to be very child-like in Ma’s presence. When someone was lamenting his death, Ma said, “Who goes away – who else is that arrives? What is the distinction between life and death? One who passes away, in fact, merges into the One who is ever-existent.”

Reference

Anandamayi Ma Late Life

Sri Sathya Sai Baba & Maynard Ferguson

Maynard Ferguson Guru Sathya Sai Baba

Sri Sathya Sai Baba & Maynard Ferguson

Walter “Maynard” Ferguson (May 4, 1928 – August 23, 2006 ) was a Canadian-born jazz trumpet player and bandleader. He came to prominence playing in Stan Kenton ‘s orchestra, before forming his own band in 1957. He was noted for being able to play accurately in a remarkably high register , and for his bands, which served as stepping stones for up-and-coming talent.

Ferguson was born in Verdun, Quebec (now part of Montreal ). Encouraged by his mother and father (both musicians), Maynard was playing piano and violin by the age of four. At nine years old, he heard a cornet for the first time in his local church and asked his parents to purchase him one. At age thirteen, Ferguson first soloed as a child prodigy with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Orchestra and was heard frequently on the CBC, notably featured on a Serenade for Trumpet in Jazz written for him by Morris Davis. Ferguson won a scholarship to the French Conservatory of Music where he studied from 1943 through 1948 with Bernard Baker.

Ferguson dropped out of Montreal High School at age 15 to more actively pursue a music career, performing in dance bands led by Stan Wood, Roland David, and Johnny Holmes. While trumpet was his primary instrument, Ferguson also performed on other brass and reed instruments. Ferguson later took over the dance band formed by his brother Percy, playing dates in the Montreal area and serving as an opening act for touring bands from the United States. During this period, Ferguson came to the attention of numerous American band leaders and began receiving offers to come to the United States.

Ferguson moved to the United States in 1949 and initially played with the bands of Boyd Raeburn , Jimmy Dorsey, and Charlie Barnet . The Barnet band was notable for a trumpet section that also included Doc Severinsen , Ray Wetzel, Johnny Howell, and Rolf Erickson. Ferguson was featured on a notoriously flamboyant Barnet recording of Jerome Kern’s All The Things You Are that enraged Kern’s widow and was subsequently withdrawn from sale. When Barnet temporarily retired in 1949 and disbanded his orchestra, Ferguson was free to accept an offer to join Stan Kenton’s newly formed Innovations Orchestra.

Kenton and Hollywood
Stan Kenton had a longstanding offer to Ferguson but had temporarily disbanded when Ferguson moved to the United States. Kenton’s bands were notable for their bombastic brass sections and Ferguson was a natural fit. In 1950, Kenton formed the Innovations Orchestra, a 40-piece jazz concert orchestra with strings, and with the folding of the Barnet band, Ferguson was available for the first rehearsal on January 1, 1950. While the Innovations Orchestra was not commercially successful, it made a number of remarkable recordings, including “Maynard Ferguson”, one of a series of pieces named after featured soloists.

When Kenton returned to a more practical 19-piece jazz band, Ferguson continued with him. Contrary to the natural assumption, Ferguson was not Kenton’s lead trumpet player, but played the fifth chair with numerous solo features. Notable recordings from this period that feature Ferguson include Invention for Guitar and Trumpet, What’s New and The Hot Canary. In 1953, Ferguson left Kenton to become a first-call session player for Paramount Pictures . Ferguson appeared on 46 soundtracks including The Ten Commandments. Ferguson still recorded jazz during this period, but his Paramount contract prevented him from playing jazz clubs. While he enjoyed the regular paycheck, Ferguson was very unhappy with the lack of live performance opportunities and left Paramount in 1956.

The Birdland Dream Band
In 1956, Ferguson was tapped to lead the Birdland Dream Band, a 14-piece big band formed by Morris Levy as an “All-star” lineup to play at Levy’s Birdland jazz club in New York City. While the name “Birdland Dream Band” was short-lived and is represented by only two albums, this band became the core of Ferguson’s performing band for the next nine years. The band included, at various times, such players as Slide Hampton , Don Ellis , Don Sebesky, Willie Maiden, John Bunch, Joe Zawinul , Joe Farrell, Jaki Byard , Lanny Morgan, Rufus Jones, Bill Berry, and Don Menza. Arrangers included Bob Brookmeyer, Jimmy Giuffre , Bill Holman , and Marty Paich.

As big bands declined in popularity and economic viability in the 1960s, Ferguson’s band performed more infrequently. Ferguson began to feel musically stifled and sensed a resistance to change among American jazz audiences. According to a /Down Beat / interview, he was quoted as saying that if the band did not play Maria or Ole, the fans went home disappointed. Ferguson began performing with a sextet before finally officially disbanding his big band in 1967.

India and England
Following the path taken by many important jazz artists in the 1960s, Ferguson left the United States in 1968. Feeling that he needed a period of spiritual exploration, Ferguson moved with his family to India and taught at the Krishnamurtl-based Rhishi Valley School near Madras. He was associated with the Sri Saithys Sai Institute of Higher Learning’s Boys Brass Band, which he founded and help teach for several years. Whilst in India, Ferguson was impacted by Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi, whom he considered as his spiritual guru.

In 1969, Ferguson relocated to Manchester, England, manufacturing personally designed trumpets and mouthpieces and performing with a variety of ensembles in Europe.

Also in 1969 Ferguson signed with CBS Records in England and formed a big band with British musicians that performed in the newly popular jazz/rock fusion style. The band’s repertoire included original compositions as well a pop and rock songs rearranged into a big band format with electronic amplification. This British band’s output is represented by the four MF Horn albums that included very popular arrangements of the pop songs MacArthur Park and Hey Jude.

Return to the U.S.
Ferguson’s new band made its North American debut in 1971. With a revived career, Ferguson relocated to New York in 1973 and gradually replaced his sidemen with American performers while reducing the band size to 12 (four trumpets, two trombones, three saxophones and three rhythm plus Maynard). The quintessential recording of this period is the album /Live at Jimmys/, recorded in 1973 in New York. Ferguson latched on to the burgeoning jazz education movement by recruiting talented musicians from colleges with jazz programs (notably Berklee College of Music, North Texas State University and the University of Miami) and targeting young audiences with performances and master classes in high schools. This practical and strategic move helped him develop a strong following that would sustain him for the remainder of his career.

In 1976, Ferguson began working with producer Bob James on a series of commercially successful albums that were complex studio productions featuring large groups of session musicians, including strings, vocalists and star guest soloists. The first of these albums was Primal Scream, featuring Chick Corea, Mark Colby, and Steve Gadd. The second, Conquistidor in 1977, resulted in a top-10 pop single, Gonna Fly Now (from the movie Rocky), a rare accomplishment for a jazz musician in the 1970s. Aside from an exciting Jay Chattaway arrangement and dense Bob James production, the single was also helped by the fact that it was released prior to the official soundtrack album of the hit movie. Ferguson maintained a hectic touring schedule during this period, with well-attended concerts that featured concert lighting and heavy amplification.

Ferguson continued with this musical model for the remainder of the 1970s, receiving considerable acclaim from audiences but often tepid response from jazz purists who decried his commercialism and questioned his taste. Ferguson reportedly also began to experience great frustration with Columbia over being unable to use his working band on recording projects and having difficulty including even a single jazz number on some albums. Ferguson’s contract with Columbia Records expired after the 1982 release of the Hollywood album, produced by Stanley Clarke.

Ferguson recorded three big band albums with smaller labels in the mid 80s before forming a more economical fusion septet, High Voltage, in 1986. This ensemble, which featured multi-reed player Dennis DiBlasio as the only other horn player, recorded two albums and received mixed reviews. The format was ultimately unsatisfying to Ferguson, who had grown up in big bands and developed a performing style most appropriate to that structure.

Big Bop Nouveau
In 1988, Ferguson returned both to a large band format and to mainstream jazz with the formation of Big Bop Nouveau , a nine-piece band featuring three trumpets, one trombone, two reeds and a three-piece rhythm section. The band’s repertoire included original jazz compositions and modern arrangements of jazz standards, with occasional pieces from his 70s book and the Birdland Dream Band. This format proved to be successful with audiences and critics and Ferguson toured nine months a year with Big Bop Nouveau for the remainder of his life. This band recorded extensively, including albums backing vocalists Dianne Shurr and Michael Feinstein.

Although in later years Ferguson did lose some of the range and phenominal accuracy of his youth, he remained an exciting performer into his late 70s. Just days after completing a weeklong run at New York’s Blue Note and recording a studio album in New Jersey, Ferguson developed an abdominal infection that resulted in kidney and liver failure. Ferguson died on the evening of August 23 , 2006 at the Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, California.

Influence
Maynard Ferguson was one of a handful of virtuoso musician/bandleaders to survive the end of the big band era and the rise of rock and roll. He demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt to the musical trends that evolved from the 1940’s through the 2000’s. Ferguson’s albums show an evolution from big band swing, bebop , cool jazz , Latin , jazz/rock, fusion with classical and operatic influences. Through his devotion to music education in America, Ferguson was able to impart the spirit of his jazz playing and technique to scores of amateur and professional trumpeters during the many Master Classes held throughout his long career.

Ferguson was not the first trumpeter to play in the extreme upper register, but he had a unique ability to play high notes with full, rich tone, power, and musicality. While regarded by some as showboating, Ferguson’s phrasing and vibrato have been extremely influential on generations of trumpet players. Ferguson was doubtless endowed with exceptional facial musculature, but he often shared in interviews that he was able to command the upper registers of the trumpet not so much with his embouchure, but more with the breath control he had discovered as a youngster playing the instrument in Montreal. Ferguson attributed the longevity of his demanding bravura trumpet technique through his later years to the spiritual and yoga studies he pursued while in India.

While Ferguson’s range was his most obvious attribute, perhaps equally significant was the personal charisma Ferguson brought to a musical genre that often veers towards the cold and cerebral. As David Von Drehle wrote in Ferguson’s Washington Post obituary, “Ferguson lit up thousands of young horn players, most of them boys, with pride and excitement. In a (high school) world often divided between jocks and band nerds, Ferguson crossed over, because he approached his music almost as an athletic event. On stage, he strained, sweated, heaved and roared. He nailed the upper registers like Shaq nailing a dunk or Lawrence Taylor nailing a running back — and the audience reaction was exactly the same: the guttural shout, the leap to their feet, the fists in the air. We cheered Maynard as a gladiator, a combat soldier, a prize fighter, a circus strongman — choose your masculine archetype.”

Ferguson popularized and enhanced two unique instruments, the ‘Firebird ‘ and the ‘Superbone ‘. The Firebird was similar to a trumpet , but had the traditional valves played with the left hand (instead of the right) and a trombone-style slide played with the right hand. The Superbone was another hybrid instrument, which was fundamentally a trombone with additional valves played with the left hand. Ferguson regularly incorporated Indian instruments and influences in albums and concerts.

Personal Life
While Ferguson’s life had its ups and downs and moments of exploration, Ferguson was fortunate to have evaded the self-destructive behaviors that bedeviled so many other musicians of his generation. In the mid 1970s, Ferguson resettled to Ojai, California, where he lived to the end of his life. Ferguson’s first marriage was to singer / actress Kay Brown in 1951. Maynard second marriage to Flo Ferguson (in 1955?) lasted until her death on February 27, 2005. Ferguson had four daughters: Kim, Lisa, Corby, and Wilder. Kim Ferguson is married to Maynard’s former road manager, Jim Exon. Wilder Ferguson is married to pianist (and former Big Bop Nouveau member) Christian Jacob. At the time of his death, Ferguson had one granddaugher, Erica.

Reference

YouTube Videos Of Maynard Ferguson: 010203

Maynard Ferguson

The Rediff Special – Major General Eustace D’Souza (retd)

The Rediff Special – Major General Eustace D’Souza (retd)
‘Here’s my pistol, now come on shoot me’
June 27, 2008

As a young major in 1947, Eustace D’Souza first read about Major Sam Manekshaw when reading about the Burma campaign in World War II. Manekshaw was shot in the stomach when he and his company were holding the Sittang bridge. For that act of valour, he was given the Military Cross on the field of battle; his commanding British officer did not expert the flamboyant Parsi officer to survive. But survive Sam did, leading the Indian Army to an incredible military victory in the 1971 war.
Commissioned in the Indian Army in 1943, Major General D’Souza (retd), now 87, has fought four wars and had several interactions with Field Marshal Manekshaw. He spoke about the man who was an outstanding leader of men. A first person account of a great soldier who passed into the ages shortly after midnight June 27:

Till yesterday Sam Manekshaw was the oldest living field marshal in the world.

I first met Sam Manekshaw when I was facing the Chinese in Nathu La, commanding a brigade. It was in 1964-1965. The Chinese were across a little strip and my brigade held them when they first moved up with 2,000 troops, we held fast, we didn’t panic like in ’62.

Sam came to visit us as he was very pleased, and then he came again to request me to stay on as brigade commander. I told him, ‘Sir I have a family too, I have been away from my family for four years — three in high altitude.’ He recommended me to the National Defence College and I went there.

He was very perceptive. When he came to visit me at Nathu La at 13,600 ft, I was a brigadier then with 5,000 troops under me. He said, ‘Souzie — he used to call me that –what do you do for your young officers, they must be absolutely cheesed off here.’

He went back to Calcutta and sent back a packet of girly magazines. He said this is for your young officers. He had wanted to see how I lived and saw a portable record player with lots of LPs — and I am a Western classical music fan. He went back and sent a parcel with a LP record of the famous American singer Marian Anderson.

He was fearless. When he was a major with the Sikh company in Burma, they had a promotion meeting for the appointment of lance naik to naik.

He didn’t approve of one name because he said he was a rascal. That man sent word to Sam saying, ‘I would kill you.’ So Sam Manekshaw told his senior subedar — ‘Unko march karna hai’.

He was marched before Sam and he asked him — ‘You are going to kill me? Here’s my pistol, now come on shoot me.’ That man was so taken aback that he marched out meekly. Sam appointed him as batman. That was the sort of man he was.

Once in a riot he walked through the crowd with just his cane.

Once he visited our 4th battalion in the ’65 war in the Barmer sector. There was a mike etc for him and he said, ‘Take this bloody thing off, I want to speak to my boys.’ He knew how to win people. In Nathu La, we got tea for him on a silver tray and he said, ‘I want it in a mug.’

Professionally he was good, there is no doubt about it. He was the first Indian to be appointed by the British after World War II to the military operations directorate.

Just before the war ended, he was sent on a three month deputation to Australia to tell them about the Indian Army. He did a good job. He came into focus then.

When he became chief it was a toss up between him and (Lieutenant) General Harbaksh Singh. His becoming chief was touch and go between him and General Harbaksh. Tactically and strategically, he was a very good soldier. He knew how to get around men. He commanded the Western and Eastern Commands — both hot seat commands.

He will always be remembered as the creator of Bangladesh and the man who split Pakistan. What was most outstanding was that he could get a team going because the Navy and Air Force, who were always at loggerheads, he got them around in Bangladesh.

If there was no Bangladesh, he would not be a field marshal. He was at the right place at the right time. He deserved to be field marshal because he carried the air force and navy with him in ’71. Remember we were fighting on two fronts — east and west. He stood out.

He had a presence, was impeccable in dress and appearance. His shoes were polished, he had a good knowledge of the English language, sense of humour and was a good orator.

When (then prime minister) Mrs (Indira) Gandhi asked him if he was going to take over the country, he told her are you asking for my resignation on grounds of mental instability? Here’s my resignation.

His only fault if you can call it that is having an inner circle of friends but who doesn’t. All of them flourished. Once I was told that Sam Manekshaw doesn’t like anyone taller than him.

In the ’71 war, I was commanding the division in Baramulah — responsible for 200 kms of the border between India and Pakistan, somebody carried tales to him that when I took over the division, my predecessor said — ‘I’m sorry Souzie there are no Gorkhas in this division’ and I said — ‘thank god’.

That was carried to Sam; after that he was after my blood (the field marshal was from the Gorkha regiment] Sam. During the war, my division captured 73 square kilometres of Pakistan territory, but he never visited my boys. I had 25,000 troops from 365 castes and communities.

I retired in 1978 and came to Bombay, I was on the management of Xavier Institute of Management and we did a series on leadership for which I asked for Sam — along with five other names.

I asked for an appointment, at that time he used to live at the Oberoi (hotel, now the Hilton in Mumbai). He was very surprised because he thought I hated his guts but there is no doubt that he had leadership qualities.

I asked him to come and speak on leadership for an hour. He said, ‘You really want me — and I said — yes sir, that’s why I’ve come here.’ He spoke brilliantly without notes, answered all the questions, held the audience in a packed hall. I had it recorded and have shown it all around the country.

He was called to speak on leadership many times in Bombay and he used to say, ‘Souzie, haven’t you heard enough of me?’

He was always prepared well in advance if he was making a talk, he never used notes and his turnout was impeccable. Even if he was to give a talk in the evening, he would shave again so that there was no shadow on his face.

He had a sense of humour, sometimes it backfired. Once a remark in Patiala offended the royal family there. Wherever I took that CD of the leaders, and asked people of the 6 who impressed you most — 100% it was Sam Mankeshaw. He used to get a standing ovation.

When the Parsis had a felicitation for him at the Tata Theatre (in Mumbai), I was asked to rally all the ex-service officers. I told them to come wearing their medals and when he saw all of us, he was really touched.

I called on him in Connoor when his wife was living, she was a very nice warm hearted person.

He was a great believer of Satya Sai Baba.

He liked good looking girls and was colour conscious. When he went as commadant of the Staff College in Wellington, he got into trouble in the mid 1950s because he put up photographs of the (British) queen. Somebody made a complaint and there was an inquiry held by the then vice chief (Lieutenant) General (P P ) Kumaramangalam and he was later exonerated.

Sam wanted to be a doctor. He wanted to go to England where his brothers were doctors but his father knew that Sam was a naughty chap, he said — ‘you stay right here in Amritsar.’

He read an ad in the paper asking for young Indian gentlemen to apply for the first course of the Indian Military Academy in 1930. He applied and got through.

He belonged to the 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment which went to Pakistan after Independence and commanded the Sikh Company.

The Sam Bahadur myth is all because of his association with the Gorkhas. He was allotted to the Gorkhas after Independence. His father was a doctor in the old Indian medical services and fought with the Second Royal Ludhiana Sikhs in Mesopotamia. Sam was partial to Gorkhas and Sikhs.

When he was sick, it was the saddest thing for me to see him being led up the stairs at the Tata Theatre by his daughter some 8, 9 years ago. It was unthinkable because he was always so dashing.

In the last few years he was mainly in hospital in Delhi. He said he wanted to go back to his home in Connoor because he was very fond of rose gardening. When he had come to Baramullah, I took him to my rose garden and said, ‘Sir have a look at my roses,’ and he said, ‘What are you bloody well taking the credit for, it’s because of the climate here.’

I think the top leaders of the Indian Army are Field Marshal K M Cariappa, General K S Thimayya and Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw. I rate General Thimayya number one. India hasn’t produced a better general than him.

Major General Eustace D’Souza, PVSM, retired from the India Army in 1978. He served two years in Italy, two years in Japan during World War II and fought the Pakistani army in Baramullah in the 1971 war. Now, 87, he recently traveled to Baramullah and met soldiers in the area he once commanded in Kashmir. He spoke to Archana Masih. Photograph: Archana Masih.

Reference

Ramayana Saptaha Mahotsava At Prashanti Nilayam

Ramachandra

Ramayana Saptaha Mahotsava At Prashanti Nilayam
(Curtesy RadioSai)

Sunday, June 22, 2008
The seven-day Ramayana Saptaha Mahotsava got underway today. In the morning, the priests assembled for the occasion did Abhishekam to Lord Rama’s idol at the altar readied on the Mandir Stage. The Bhajans did not start since the puja was scheduled. Bhagawan did not come for darshan, so the devotees in Sai Kulwant hall dispersed by 11.30 am.

In the evening, the Rama-Sita-Lakshmana idols were brought to Sai Kulwant Hall in procession with traditional paraphernalia from Bhagawan’s residence just before 4.30 pm, and Swami followed soon after. At 4.45, Bhagawan was seated onstage and asked for the programme to commence. A learned scholar spoke in Telugu for 45 minutes, introducing the Ramayana Saptaham, stating that each day, one Kandam of the Ramayanam would be expounded by a scholar, till the last day, which would be dedicated to the Pattabhishekam or Coronation ceremony. The scholar then spoke about the first part of the Ramayanam, the Bala Kandam and the inner significance of many events narrated there. Bhajans commenced after the speech and prasadam was distributed while the students sang Rama Bhajans. Bhagawan accepted Arati at 6.10 pm before returning to His residence.

Come 22nd of June and the entire Kulwant hall appeared in a different light altogether. It looked as if the legendary “Rama Rajyam” had descended on earth. Sorry! Correction please – not just looked that way, Raama Rajyam has indeed descended! Sai Rama speaks a lot on Rama. More than anything else, as He describes the qualities of the Lord then and the way Rama conducted himself, one is always reminded of the daily activities of Swami Himself.

The stage had been occupied by three beautiful statues – Rama, Lakshmana and Sita. Hanuman was conspicuous by his absence. It came to be known that these were only like a standby The actual idols would be brought in a procession in the afternoon! In the afternoon, the Yajur Mandir was bustling with activity. A gaily decorated procession stood in readiness to escort the two Ramas from different Yugas!

Swami came out at about 4:30 pm and the procession started. The grandly decorated palanquin bearing the idols of the Lord was being carried by priests chanting hymns and mantras in praise and glory of the “perfect man” of the Treta age. The sanathana Dharma is so glorious and grand.. While in many places, God is reduced to a mere book, idol or picture, the Sanathana Dharma, uplifts everything – idols, pictures and everything to the level of God! The “GajaNade” as it is called is the traditional elephant walk that the priests simulated while carrying the idols. This meant that Rama seated atop the palanquin would have felt as though He is seated on an elephant! The movements were such and the priests undulated and gracefully twisted their bodies to exactly replicate that walk.

Swami in the meanwhile, sat just at the threshold of the Kulwant hall entrance from Yajur Mandir and said that He would prefer to wait for the idols to be taken in procession completely and then begin His darshan round. That was so sweet and understanding of Swami. Imagine the state of mind of people if both Swami and Rama came for darshan together! The two eyes are not enough to drink in the beauty and glory of both forms at the same time. What does one do when the tastiest of dishes and the best of desserts are placed simultaneously in front for the feast! So, as Swami sat sweetly allowing the palanquin to proceed. all the assembled devotees had a wonderful darshan of Rama, Lakshmana, Seeta and Hanuman. Towards the later part of the procession, the “HamsaNade” or the gait of the majestic swan was adopted and the palanquin proceeded and came to a halt at the stage.

Then sweet Swami began His darshan rounds. It was double delight. For those not yet spiritually evolved to see the Lord in the idols, here was the same Lord in flesh and blood. The thought that the Avatar was in our midst in flesh and blood, heightened by the presence of the idols atop the palanquin made hairs stand on their ends at the great good fortune all of us privileged to enjoy being contemporaries of Swami.

Swami glided through the hall in the chair and was all smiles towards the assembled devotees. He went through the gents side and then came to the students section of the hall. Blessing the birthday boys and collecting letters from many, Swami went on stage. There He lit the lamp that had been placed and so the “Srimad Ramayana Sudha Pravachana Sptaham” had been officially declared open! The Kalashasthapana and Shodashopachara pooja to the idols were performed and everyone awaited for the next part of the programme to begin looking at Swami. Swami sat listening to Vedic chants as He gently fondled and played with a yellow rose bud in His hand. He opened up the petals slowly. It was so symbolic of what He was doing to all the children seated in front of Him. The come to Him as buds and with His touch, He makes them bloom into fully blossomed flowers.

At 4.45, Bhagawan, seated onstage, asked for the programme to commence. A learned scholar, Sri.Vidwan Nidumamidi Srikanta Rao, spoke in Telugu for about 45 minutes, introducing the Ramayana Saptaham, stating that each day, one Kandam of the Ramayanam would be expounded by a scholar, till the last day, which would be dedicated to the Pattabhishekam or Coronation ceremony. The scholar then spoke about the first part of the Ramayanam, the Bala Kandam and the inner significance of many events narrated there.

As he went about the narration of the events of the planned coronation the intilal exploits of the young princes, Swami listen appreciatively with rapt attention. At the end of his talk, Swami looked at the bhjan group and signalled them to begin with a hint word, “Shlokam”. And so began “Shree Raghavam”, the aalap for the bhajan “Shree Raghunandana”. Bhajans continued after that and everyone clapped and sang enthusaistically. All the bhajans were on Rama with special emphasis on the initial phases of Rama’s life- to the events of Baala Kanda in particular! Prasadam was distributed while the bhajans went on. Bhagawan accepted Arati at 6.10 pm before returning to His residence. (Reference)

Monday, June 23, 2008
Today was the second day of the Ramayana Saptaham being held at Prasanthi Nilayam, and today’s talk was on the Ayodhya Kandam. Bhagawan arrived for evening darshan at 4 pm, and after sitting onstage for a few minutes, moved to the interview room. He emerged after half an hour to move around the stage area and the verandah, going back onstage and starting the proceedings at 5 pm. After the stirring hour long Telugu speech by Mallapragada Srimannarayana Murthy garu, bhajans commenced at 6 pm. After half an hour of Rama bhajans, Bhagawan accepted Arati and returned to His residence.

The afternoon of 23rd too began on the same auspicious note as Swami came for darshan. Today however, Swami cut to the stage after the ladies side. Bhagawan arrived for evening darshan at 4 pm, and after sitting onstage for a few minutes, moved to the interview room. He emerged after half an hour to move around the stage area and the verandah, going back onstage and starting the proceedings at 5 pm.

Today’s talk was on the Ayodhya kandam. The scholar speaking on it today was Sri Malla Pragada Sriman Narayana Moorthy from Guntur. He spoke very beautifully on the inner significance. Ayodhya means, “Where no one wins”. this part of the Ramayana, expounded the scholar, was the portion where everyone- King Dasharatha, the queens, all the four brothers and everyone in the family loses. Yet all of them lose so that Dharma can win. And that was the significance of that Kanda. It also highlights the beautiful congruence between Sathya and Dharma. Like the two feet which are perfectly in sync and make movement possible, only when Sathya and Dharma are in sync is progress possible.

Swami was very moved at many instances during the narration. The speaker too spoke very powerfully on the Ayodhya Kanda and the entire audience listened in rapt attention. After the stirring hour long Telugu speech by Mallapragada Srimannarayana Murthy garu, bhajans commenced at 6 pm. Swami too sang the lead for some of the bhajans and that only catalysed a more devotional and enthusiastic singing by everyone assembled! After bhajans for half an hour, Swami received Mangala Aarthi and left for Yajur Mandiram. Two Wonderful days of the Ramayana Sapthaha. (Reference)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008
On this third day of the Ramayana Saptaham, the proceedings began in the morning with Vishu Sahasranama chanting by the entire congregation at 7.50 am, forming a laksharchana. Bhagawan arrived when the morning Bhajans commenced after the laksharchana. In the evening, Bhagawan once again sat for a few minutes onstage after His darshan round in the chair and returned to the stage from the interview room to start the proceedings at 5.15 pm. Today’s speaker was Sri S. Ranganath garu from Bangalore, who spoke in English about the Aranya Kandam for 45 minutes, noting various points of interest in Valmiki’s poetry. Bhajans commenced at 6 pm, and Bhagawan accepted Arati at 6.30 pm.

As the Mangalavaram (literally translates as auspicious day / Tuesday) dawned in Prashanti Nilayam, the chanting of the holy VishnuSahasranaama started in the mandir. All the devotees who had assembled offered the holy akshatha grains to a picture of Swami’s cosmic form that had been so efficiently distributed to all of them.

At about 8:45am, Swami came for darshan in the chair. He cut to the interview room after the ladies side. The bhajans began at 9 as usual and then a beautiful incident took place. Swami came in for bhajans and noticed that a student was seated in front with a bowl of Akshatha grains as it was his birthday. Swami called him and blessed him profusely. The magical moment came when the student asked for paadanamaskar and Swami consented. There was a sudden momentary silence as the bhajan that was on concluded. As the student placed his head on the Lotus feet, the next bhajan began – Sathya Sai Paadaambujam, Bhajore Manasa Nirantaram. (Oh mind! Dwell incessantly on the Lotus feet of Sathya Sai) A thrill went through all who were witness to the poignant scene and the student must have been overwhelmed for he stayed down on His feet for more than 10 seconds. Swami was smiling so sweetly at this “coincidence”! The bhajans concluded and Swami left after receiving Aarthi.

In the evening, Swami arrived at about 4:30 pm. He completed the darshan rounds and came onstage. There , He called a boy and took his letter opening it, Swami saw that the letter was a full page long. He made a face of mock anger and then asked, “Why do you write so much? Write a few lines- that’ll suffice!” The boy returned with a smile on his face. He was so happy that Swami spoke to him that maybe that advice went unheard! Immediately, Swami called another boy to take the letter. This time, as He slowly opened it, all watched in bated breath! Swami Himself seemed to open it with an expectant anticipation. Seeing that the letter consisted only of a few lines, He smiled and so did everyone around. With this, He went around the upper stage and then via the inner portico, went into the interview room. He returned to the stage from the interview room to start the proceedings at 5.15 pm.

Today’s speaker was Sri S. Ranganath garu from Bangalore, who spoke in English about the Aranya Kanda for 45 minutes, noting various points of interest in Valmiki’s poetry. Today’s talk was more of a Sanskrit scholars’ delight with the erudite speaker outlining the beautiful grammar and perfect language employed by the sage Valmiki. He also drew out examples from the works of various modern and contemporary writers where they had been influenced and inspired by the Ramayana. Therefore, he stated, this epic has great relevance irrespective of the age or era!

At the end of his talk, Swami saw that one of the students was clicking photos prolifically. He asked him as to there was film in the camera. The student, on his knees, cheekily pulled out the memory chip from the camera, showed it to Swami and said, “No film Swami!” Swami smiled and asked for the bhajans to begin. The bhajans began and today they were all specific to the episodes and the characters of the Aranya Kanda. After bhajans, Swami enquired whether any prasadam was available! When it was being checked, He said that prasadam may be distributed the next day. Smilingly He asked for Aarthi and then left. (Reference)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008
This morning’s Laksharchana chanting was performed with the Sri Rama Sahasranama at 7.30 am. Bhagawan came in His chair in the evening at 3.45 and went into the interview room. After interacting with a few devotees, Swami came onstage at 4.45 to start the proceedings. Today’s talk on the Kishkinda Kandam was in Telugu by Sri Venkata Subbarao garu. After the 45 minute talk, the Bhajans commenced at 5.40 pm. Prasadam was distributed while the students sang Hanuman bhajans. Bhagawan accepted Arati a few minutes before six o’clock and returned to His residence.

This day was dedicated for the Kishkindha Kanda. Swami arrived in the evening a little earlier than all the students had arrived. He completed His darshan rounds on the ladies side. There was a huge empty space as the students had not yet filed in. He took a detour and then cut across the marble blocks. He spoke to the two sevadal lads who were seated near the pillar as part of the security measures to ensure that no one rushes upto Swami to touch His feet and so on. They were taken aback but nevertheless filled with joy as Swami spoke to them. The speaker scheduled for the evening was Dr.Thangirala Venkata Subbarao from Bangalore. Swami then went into the interview room. Coming out, He took a round around the stage and inner portico and once again went into the interview room. From there, He spoke a while with then bhajan singers and then came out of the bhajan hall too. Swami came out and then after a while of Veda chanting, He asked for the speaker to be introduced. The speaker offered his obeisances to Swami and began the talk.

He detailed at length on the Ramayan story from the point where Hanuman meets with the two princes Rama and Lakshmana till the point where Hanuman stands ready on the shores of the ocean, ready for take off to Lanka. The killing of Vali at the hands of Rama and the wonderful dialogue that followed was narrated. Vali asks Rama as to was it fair on His part to kill him in that manner from behind. Rama raplies, “Oh Vali! I never challenged you in a fight. I am on a hunt and I hunted you like any hunter would do a wild animal. Your deeds show that you are indeed a wild animal as you have eyed the wife of another and treated your own brother very badly. As for the enmity, though you are not my direct enemy, you are the enemy of my friend Sugriva, and so you become my enemy too!” Vali himself repents to his words and begs Rama’s forgiveness. Rama’s crystal clear understanding of Sathya and Dharma was highlighted. At one point, the speaker said that just like the forest in Ramayana had been transformed by the penance of the sages, Puttaparthi had been transformed by penance of Swami. At this point, Swami burst out laughing! With a smile, He said, “I never did any penance of any sort.!” All those who saw it smiled and nodded back at Him.

There exists a misnomer among many that Swami is a great spiritual seeker who has loads of penance backing Him. He is not a spiritual seeker but the One who is spiritually sought; does not need penance to back Him, but He is the one who backs all the penance of the world!

The mind may make comparisions between Him and sages, but the heart will say that the only apt comparision will be between Him and Rama for both are incomparable and that is the similarity between them!!

After the speech completed in about 50 minutes, there was a loud applause and the speaker was blessed by Swami. Swami then asked for bhajans to be sung. The instructions were that only Hanuman bhajans be sung.

The first bhajan to begin was “Rama Lakshmana Jaanaki”. Now this bhajan is special because, the lead is always “Rama Lakshmana Janaki” while the follow is always,”Jai bolo hanuman ki”. As soon as the first line was sung, Swami sang out aloud, “Jai bolo Hanuman Ki”. Apparently, it seemed that the Lord was reminding all about the special nature of the bhajan. Well, a little deeper view and the Lord was showing mankind another beautiful aspect. In the divine romance, the devotee always keeps singing and thinking of the Lord while the Lord thinks and sings about the devotees. As all assembled kept singing the Lord’s name, the Lord was singing the devotee’s name! It was indeed an awe inspiring and thrilling sight! After four bhajans, Swami asked for the Aarthi and then left for Yajur Mandiram. (Reference)

Thursday, June 26, 2008
The laksharchana by the devotees gathered in Sai Kulwant began at 7.30 am, with the chant of the Sri Sathya Sai Ashtothara Sahasranamavali. Bhagawan arrived at 8.40 am while the chanting was in progress and sat onstage for a while. He then moved to the Bhajan Hall and then to the interview room. The chanting concluded at 9.10 am and Bhagawan arrived in the Bhajan Hall for the Bhajans to start. He moved to the interview room for a few minutes, then returned to the Bhajan Hall, sat there for half an hour and accepted Arati at 10 am before returning to His residence.

Swami returned in His chair to Sai Kulwant Hall at 4.10 pm and moved to the interview room. After a round of the Bhajan Hall and the verandah after a few minutes, He came onstage at 4.45 pm and sat there for 45 minutes while the Vedam went on, calling up a few students with letters and interacting with them. The speech for the day was on the Sundara Kandam by Dr. Mylavaram Srinivasa Rao garu in Telugu, and he held the audience spell-bound for 90 minutes. Swami accepted Arati immediately after the talk at seven o’clock while prasadam was distributed to all.

Friday, June 27, 2008
This Friday’s concluding Laksharchana was with the chanting of Sri Lalitha Sahasranama. All the devotees chanted “Aum Sri Matre Namah” as the Sahasranama went on from 7.30 to 8.25 am. The scholar who chanted the Sahasranama spoke a few words extolling the compassion of the mother, then concluded the morning session for the Bhajans to begin as usual at 9 o’clock in the Bhajan Hall.

The afternoon session began with Bhagawan arriving in His chair at 3.45 pm. Moving to the interview room after a few minutes onstage, He emerged at 4.15 and moving to the verandah, distributed special clothes for the priests to wear for tomorrow’s function. Then He came onstage and sat for a while with the Vedam chanting going on. Swami called up two American brothers from among the students to chant Vedam onstage, then an Iranian boy from the Primary School. The programme of speeches commenced at five o’clock. The Yuddha Kandam was narrated with aplomb in Telugu by Sahasravadhani Garikipati Narasimha Rao garu till six o’clock, and with that the programme of speeches concluded. Bhajans were sung by the students as prasadam was distributed, till Swami accepted Arati at 6.15 and returned to His residence.

Pictures Of Prashanti Nilayam Rama Pattabhikema 2008

Lord Rama

Bharati Maiya & Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Amba Sai Maa

Bharati Maiya Of Surat (Gujarat)
By Dr. D.J. Gadhia
Sai Samaran (Chapter 45, pages 323 – 329 )

After a laksharchana in a hall in Leicester, some devotees from London said to me, “We would like to see the ‘Mini Prashanti Nilayam’ in Wolverhampton” – i.e., the Sri Sathya Sai Temple in Ratibhai Patel’s house.

It was already 10:00pm and it took us two hours to get to Wolverhampton. We reached there at midnight and a few devotees from Manchester were sitting with Ratibhai. Among them was Bharati Maiya of ‘Ambica Niketa’ in Surat (Gujarat), who was visiting Manchester. She invited ‘this Das’ to come to Manchester and after two days I went there and heard the following true story about her.

At the age of ten years, Maiya used to worship Lord Krishna. Her devotion must have reached great heights – a continuation of her bhakti from previous lives – and Lord Krishna granted His darshan. The Lord advised her to worship Shakti (Devi Amba Ma) and she went to the temple of Gabbar in Gujarat and was initiated and started worshipping Amba Ma.

After ten years, Ma appeared in front of her and said, “You have to serve mankind in several ways. But first you have to build Ma’s temple”. She replied, “I do not have the means to build the Temple”. Ma suggested, “Collect just one rupee from everybody.”

Maiya started collecting one rupee from each person. Some devotees offered a hundred or even a thousand rupees, but she refused. After one year and nine months, she had collected one hundred and seventy five thousand rupees. Ma appeared again and said, “You have now collected enough for building the temple. Nobody but you can see me. Follow me and I will show you the site of the temple.”

Ma took Bharati to the banks of the Tappi River on Athwa Lines and said, “This is the place.” Maiya said, “You want me to build the temple here where Muslims kill goats!” Ma answered, “Don’t you know that I will come here as Mahakali and stay here with you?”

A committee was set up and the site was acquired for the temple and plans for the building were prepared. A beautiful building was ready and Ma appeared again and said, “Look here, observe me correctly. I am not sitting on a tiger or lion. I am sitting on a stone. I do not carry any lethal weapon; there is only Surdarshan Chakra in one of the eight hands. You go to Jaipur where beautiful statues are made. Most of the merchants will say that they do not have a big enough stone to make a life-sized statue but they could cut out a big statue from two stones. In the end you will find one person who will say that there is only one big stone, which he has stored for many years. He will be the right person who will make the statue. You give him the description and the rest will be handled by Me.”

A most wonderful life-like image of Amba Ma with eight arms was completed and one feels as if she would speak.

Bharati Maiya called upon one hundred Brahmins to do a special puja called Lakhchandi Yagna before installation of the statue in its right position. Two Brahmins developed severe gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhea) that could lead to serious consequences. Bharati Maiya prayed to Amba Ma who appeared and suggested giving the juice of neem leaves. After taking this juice, the two patients recovered miraculously.

Having installed the statue, Amba Ma appeared and instructed Bharati Maiya on the following matters:

– Keep a few cows to supply milk for the ashram’s use.
– Establish three dispensaries in different locations to give free treatment to all patients.
– Establish homes for old people, especially old and sick parents who have been rejected by their married sons, where they can live comfortably with all their necessities provided. Some hundred old couples were being looked after in this place.
– Establish a school (Veda Pathashala) and admit 50 children who would learn everything including the Vedas, recitation of slokas, astrology, etc.

Some devotees of Beloved Swami staying nearby informed Maiya that the following message, written using vibuthi, had appeared on a wall: “Examine the life story of Bharati Maiya”. She was not prepared to believe this, but went to see it and was most surprised to see Divine vibuthi falling from the wall. She developed faith and requested the devotee to give her a small photo of Beloved Swami.

Bharati Maiya obtained a small photo of Swami and kept it in her shrine and used to offer food preparations before taking it herself. From that day onwards, one food item used to disappear, as if taken by Beloved Swami.

One day, all the boys in the Veda Pathashala expressed their wish to visit Prashanti Nilayam. They arrived in the ashram in Puttaparthi and after three days, Swami called everyone for an interview. in the beginning, Beloved Swami said, “You are my Maiya. What have you brought for Me?” She answered, “Swami, a box of chocolates for the children.” He opened it, ate one chocolate and distributed the rest to the children.

Swami asked the question, “Why are the boys wearing pants of different colors although the material seems to be the same?” Maiya answered, “Swami, some can afford while some are poor and cannot afford to buy costly clothes.”

Beloved Swami gave a signal to a volunteer who brought the same type of cut pieces of cloth to be distributed to every student. Then beloved Swami said, “Every boy will have the same colored pants.”

Maiya thought that if only Swami had given this two days earlier, the pants could have been stitched. Beloved Swami knew what was in her mind and sent three tailors; they took the measurements and all the pants were ready by the morning. All the children with the same type of pants stood near the interview room.

Swami called the children from His Veda Pathashala and sat them opposite to the children from Surat. Baba asked the Puttaparthi children to recite a particular verse from the Vedas. They knew it perfectly and recited it quickly.

Then Beloved Swami asked the children from Surat. They too recited perfectly and everybody came to know that their pronunciation was correct.

Baba took them to the interview room and had photos taken with them. One of the boys asked Swami, “When will you come to Surat, Baba?” Swami answered, “Ask Maiya, she knows. I come daily to partake food offered at her shrine!” This was a great revelation.

The climax in this story was when Beloved Swami called Maiya in the interview room and said emphatically, “Look here, who is this?”

Baba was transformed into Amba Ma – the same as the visioin Maiya had seen – and she shouted, “Oh, my Amba Ma! I am so pleased to know that You are my Ma.”

When Baba returned to his own form, Maiya said, “Can I ask you one question?” Swami said, “Yes, Maiya!” She said, “The Jain community in Surat is building a very large hospital and we have been given the responsibility to build a super diagnostic centre where all investigations can be done under one roof. We do not have the provisions for it, what do we do?”

Beloved Swami answered immediately, “Will you do what I say?” Maiya replied, “Yes, Swami.” He then said, “Go to the UK and America; your work will be done easily.” She therefore travelled to the UK with the secretary of the temple and subsequently met us in Wolverhampton.

This was the result of Beloved Swami’s resolve. Perhaps He wanted to send ‘this Das’ to help Maiya do her work. I took her to different places in the UK and after hearing the description of the super diagnostic center, everyone was happy to help. With her blessings, the health of many devotees improved and women who had no issue for a very long time became pregnant within a couple of years. Maiya’s blessing helped hundreds of devotees in different places during her stay of two weeks.

I asked my sister Hansa and her husband in California to help. Maiya was such a divine lady that everybody was attracted towards her and many devotees throughout California invited her. During Maiya’s stay there the response was great and as directed by Beloved Swami, her work was completed and she was able to establish the Super Diagnostic Centre in Surat. As a token of love, one rupee was charged for a complete investigation to help towards a diagnosis, after which the patient was sent to the hospital by the Jain community for free treatment including free surgical treatment.

We are all aware that Beloved swami build a beautiful hospital called the Sri Sathya Sai Super Specialty Hospital near Puttaparthi where all treatments are given free of charge, even surgical treatment, without regard to the patient’s caste or creed. We also know that a second such hospital was build near Bangalore; it is the biggest in the State of Karnataka.

Beloved Swami proved to Maiya that His sankalpa (resolve) was final and everything happens according to His plan. Bhagavan must have decided to involve the Gadhia family as he said in Kampala, “Gadhia family is Sai family”. In the UK, ‘this Das’ was called to help Maiya, while in the USA my sister Hansa did the same under the Lotus Feet of Beloved Swami. Thus was His Grace showered upon us!

Beloved Swami said:

Ask me when you need any help. Extend your hand only for Grace from God. Ask for Grace as a right, not in a grovelling style. Ask, as a child asks the father; feel that God is nearest and dearest. Grace is showered on those who seek. Knock and the door shall be opened; ask and food will be served; search and the treasure will be yours!

Maiya, after having the Divine darshan of Amba Ma, asked Beloved Baba – not as a father, but as a mother – and Beloved Swami fulfilled her wishes.

Beloved Swami has said:

God does not address everyone as a real devotee. If you are a real devotee, then God will call you ‘His devotee’. It is not good to call yourself a devotee; only God can call you His devotee.

Beloved Maiya was worshipping heartily and sincerely Amba Ma (Shakti) – the left side of Beloved Swami. Hence, as His real devotee, Baba gave her the Divine vision of the same Amba Ma.

Our most sincere and hearty salutations to Beloved Baba and Beloved Bharati Maiya!

Amba Ma - Durga Lakshmi Saraswati

How To Receive Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s Grace

Sai Grace

How to Receive Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s Grace
Compiled and Edited by Dr. Satya Pal Ruhela
Diamond Publications, New Delhi, 1982
312 pages; ISBN: 81-7182-089-1

Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is the greatest of all the contemporary Godmen, Mystics, Spiritual Saints and Gurus in the world. He is the Purna Avatar. This unique book focuses on the most crucial theme “how to receive Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s grace’. The meaning and implications of Sathya Sai’s devine grace have been presented along with some ardent sai devotees’ most intimate experiences in the Sai Path.

It is said that one is closest to God when one is in pain or peril. Basically selfish, human beings turn to Him only in moments of crisis. We devise various ways of reaching Him, by going on pilgrimages, distributing alms, chasing godmen or praying at home. Once upon a time Sri Satya Sai Baba was a rage among the nation�s elite. Politicians, intellectuals, scientists, Generals, Admirals and Air Chief Marshals led the pack in having the Baba�s darshan. Then things changed, and the Baba is now a recluse. Spiritualism, politics and materialism can be a high octane explosive mix. The author has compiled the experiences of various devotees of the Baba. Needless to say, they are all in his praise. It always makes one wonder about the divine experiencess that these people are able to have, or the miracles they behold. […]

Contents
Dedication
Divine Assurance
Sai Message: “Be Like Bees”
Prayer Given By Swami
Foreword
Preface

Section I: Sai The Saviour
1. Letters From the Divine: Mata Betty
2. Understanding the Divinity of Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Dr. S.P. Ruhela
3. Sri Sathya Sai Avatar: A Philosophical Profile: Dr. Kamla Arora
4. ‘In the Form of Sathya Sai, God Became Actual’ (Poem): Prof. I.D. Singh
5. ‘Sai Darshan’ (Poem): William Jackson

Section II: What Divine Grace Means
7. Divine Grace: Jayadayal Goyandka
8. Saints on Divine Grace: J.P. Singh
9. Prayer: What & How: Sister Gertrude
10. Rekindle Your Flame of Devotion: Connie Shaw
11. Meditation Tecnique As Recommended by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
12. The Power of Choice: God’s Greatest Gift to His Finest Creation, Humanity: Sri Sathya Sai Baba
13. Sai Gems on ‘Sai Grace’: Sri Sathya Sai Baba
14. ‘How Will You Know When I Am Near’ (Poem)
15. Purity and Peace: Sri Sathya Sai Baba
16. The Role of Baba in Grace: Indulal Shah

Section III: Experiencing The Sai Grace
17. ‘We and Our Lord in Prasanthi Nilayam’ (Poem): Donn Doongaj
18. Sai Darshan: Memories of Those Blissful Days with Swami: Neeta Roy
19. ‘Yes, I have Indeed Received the Grace of Sri Sathya Sai Baba in My Life’: Anonymous
20. A Sanyasi’s Experiences in the Sai Path: Swami Rameshananda
21. My Twenty-five Years Under the Grace of Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Dr. S.P. Ruhela
22. Frustrations, Bad Karmas and Sai’s Grace: Dr. S.P. Ruhela
23. Of Faith and Scepticism: Uttam Sen Gupta
24. Strange Experience of a Sai Devotee: Prof. I.D. Singh
25. Sri Sathya Sai: A Laboratory God: Prof. I.D. Singh

About the author (from the Back Cover)
Dr. Satya Pal Ruhela (born on 2nd February 1935) is an internationally renowed sociologist. He is Professor of Education (Sociology) in the Institute of Advanced Studies in Education, Jamia Millia Islamia (Central University), New Delhi. He is an ardent Sai devotee. He has contributed several highly informative and interesting books on the Sai Baba Phenomena, Spirituality, Sociology and Education. He is the Founder and Secretary of the ‘Sai Divine Research Centre’, Faridabad – 121003.

The book is available at:
Sathya Sai Book Center of America
Sri Sathya Sai Book and Information Centre, Toronto, Canada