Christmas 2008 At Prashanti Nilayam

Christmas 2008 At Prashanti Nilayam

Curtesy Sri Sathya Sai Books & Publications Trust
Christmas Celebrations, 24-25 Dec 2008, Images

Curtesty Radiosai

Friday, December 26, 2008
This evening, children from overseas presented songs and a musical play on the works of Jesus. After His darshan round at 4.30 pm, Swami came to the stage from the interview room at 5.10. and began the programme. Half an hour of songs were followed by the half-hour musical play. As they concluded, Bhagawan came down from the stage and blessed the participants with clothes and a group photograph. He then gifted photo-frames to the children who sang. The conductor and accompanists were also blessed with clothes. Swami interacted with the group for nearly half an hour before He went back onstage to accept Arati. Before He returned to His residence at 6.50, He blessed Mr. John Behner, the Christmas co-ordinator, also with clothes and raised both His hands in blessing all the devotees.

Thursday, December 25, 2008
This Christmas morning, the devotees from overseas gathered in the Sai Kulwant Hall and carolled after Nagarsankirtan as scenes from early morning darshans from Christmases past were projected on two screens atop the Mandir. Later, Bhagawan arrived in Sai Kulwant Hall at 8.35 in a white robe seated on His golden chair led by a procession of children from overseas dressed as the characters in the Nativity. When He reached the verandah, He blessed the cakes arrayed there and came onstage to begin the programme. The University brass band was the first to perform. After 10 minutes of Christmas-themed music from them, the violins of the Primary School took over. As the young boys finished their performance with ‘Jingle Bells’, young ‘Santa’s came up to Swami to get their gift bags blessed. Swami threw a few toffees to the boys nearby, and the Santas completed the job, running around the hall. Christmas songs by the students began next. The 40 minute song bouquet was interspersed with a commentary in the form of a dialogue between two of Christ’s apostles and a young boy. Two more ‘Santa’s arrived to throw toffees, and more traditional prasadam was distributed too. After Arati at 10 o’clock, Swami blessed students who came up with pictures of the Senior Students Hostel, Christmas day being the Hostel anniversary day too. More students with cards and birthday trays were blessed too before Swami left for His residence 10 minutes later.

In the evening, Bhagawan arrived at 4.40 pm. The programme got underway once He came onstage with an introduction and thanksgiving by Mr. John Behner from Latin America. Two overseas speakers were blessed to present talks – Ms. Gisele Sebastian from Germany and Mr. Ted Henry from the USA. Following their moving talks, Bhagawan delivered His Divine Discourse at 5.45 pm. After His Discourse, Swami asked the students to sing a couple of Bhajans, following which He accepted Arati and returned to His residence at 7 pm.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008
This evening, the Christmas eve celebrations began with Bhagawan arriving at 4.30 pm in His chair. After a full round of the Sai Kulwant Hall, Swami came onstage after a brief visit to the interview room. The conductor of the Western choir came up to Bhagawan for blessings, and their hour-long programme began. When they finished all the songs in their printed schedule, Swami asked them to sing more songs, so they sang some traditional carols like ‘Silent Night’ and then began an encore of selected songs from their programme. Prasadam was distributed and Swami called up the conductor to bless her with a chain before accepting Arati. He then asked the students to sing bhajans. After the first couple of bhajans, He asked them to sing ‘Sarva Dharma Priya Deva’. A couple of multi-religious bhajans followed before Swami accepted Arati once again and returned to His residence in the car after spending more than 2 hours in Sai Kulwant Hall.

Curtesty Spirit Reflections

Christmas afternoon in Prashanti Nilayam;

Hmm, I decided to enter the darshan hall by the top gate, and I was going to wander down to the back of the hall; an old Seva Dal pointed to me to go and sit somewhere at the front; I said, “No, I am going down the back” , and he said “No, you go and sit there only”.  

Well, I went and found the foreigners sitting and went and sat in an open space, about three rows from front line. Some people told me it was the space for the canteen volunteers and a seva dal told me to move. And another seva dal told me to go back and sit down. So I did, three rows from the front, closest I have been to the front on the men’s side. 

The atmosphere and energy in the darshan hall was gay, in the original sense of the word; it was joyful, it was happy, there was a humdrum of conversation, and we were waiting for Sai Baba to come. Happy devotees from every country, I had people from Scotland and South America around me, and children everywhere. Apparently I was sitting nearby the Children’s Choir. 

Swami arrived around 4.30pm; there were about five people walking behind Swami, and he stopped and spoke to members of the Ladies Choir; also stopped and spoke to some men, immediately he arrived on the mens’s side, and took letters. Swami: I was close, how to describe? 

Well, that chair moves slowly, and Swami looks left and right; his hair is just so; his robe shows the ironing creases, he sits and looks right across the men as he passes; hands go up in pranams; did our eyes meet? I think so, but I was three rows back. A sere smile on his face, hands raised in blessing as he passes by. Yes, Swami looked very happy as he passed us by. At the top of the walkway before he turns right to go across the front of the Mandir, he paused and spoke to some of the old students, who were seated there; Swami was talking for quite some time before he moved across and around to the other side of the Mandir, where he pauses for a long time in front of the primary school children; quite some conversation there. Then Swami came to the front of the porch and there was silence. John Behner kneels beside Swami and gives him details of the afternoon program. 

John Behner, Coordinator from Latin America, introduced the afternoon’s proceedings.  He spoke of the teams who had prepared the Darshan Hall, the devotees from South California, Nevada, and so on. The group of 200 Indonesians, who prepared the prasadum, the 160 ladies involved in sewing and decorations, the containers from China, the planning for the Christmas decorations. All planning had been submitted to Swami, and Swami had personally seen and approved all the decorations. The canteen and their work, decorations and the Christmas meal; the choir and their 9 days of preparation.   Last, but not least, the men who did the dirty work were acknowledged.  Big round of applause. 

FIrst speaker is Mrs Geesje Sebastian of Germany, a Human Values teacher, Regional Coordinator, SSE Teacher. Mrs Sebastian spoke in slow, careful English and told the story of her coming to Swami, how she did not know who or where this Sai Baba was, and how he entered her life and saved her eyesight. Mrs Sebastian finished with a beautiful song. 

Second speaker was Ted Henry, a retired TV Broadcaster from Cleveland OHIO, and Ted has been interviewing people for many years, and making videos. Ted told that the fruit of all this was not the change in the people he was interviewing, nor the change he had hoped for in those who might view his interviews on Radio Sai Global Harmony; no, the real changes came in Ted himself, it was his heart that was pierced with Love. Ted is a great speaker. 

Then silence. John Behner went to Swami, knelt and spoke and then got up and went back to his place. We all looked at Swami. Swami turned his head, and looked around, then an imperceptible nod; there was going to be a divine discourse, and a great round of applause burst out. 

I have never seen Swami sit and give a discourse before, but, you know, it was really no different; Anil Kumar was beside Swami, always turning his head to Swami and waiting for him to finish before looking up and translating. AK took the microphone from the stand and held it in his hand (he gave up writing, as usual).

Swami spoke in English a lot. He never said Sathyam, Sathya, shanti, he spoke in English a lot. Swami told (in my inaccurate recall) (these are the English bits)

  • The body is a container, we have to look after it
  • Truth is God; Truth is Love, Truth is the basis of the Universe
  • God is above you, below you, around you, in you (all in English)
  • Hurt Never, Help Ever
  • Love is everything, give love, only love
  • You are three people, the one you think you are, the one others think you are, and the One God sees
  • I,I,I, don’t say I am this, I am that, say I am God
  • People ask “Who are you, don’t say I am the body, don’t give body-name, say I am God, and tell them YOU ARE GOD TOO, (all in English) (tremendous applause)
  • Swami spoke about Jesus on the Cross, and Mother Mary at the foot of the Cross, weeping, crying; Jesus told Mother Mary not to weep, all this was fore-ordained
  • Swami spoke about the mind, he never said manas or tapas, he kept on speaking in English, Mind is a bundle of thoughts, master the mind, do not think you are the mind, do not think you are the body. Swami really spoke a lot about the body and how it has to be taken care of so we can do service. 

And that is about all I can recall now. Then Swami sang Prema Muditha Manasa Kaho (Chant the name of the Lord with Love) … then he began Bhajana bina sukha shanti nahi .. it was really funny, we all sang the first line with Swami with both of those bhajans, just the first line, it was a teriffic feeling to be singing that so softly and sweetly with Swami …

After singing, Swami spoke again and lauded the singing of the Choir, and said something like their effort was blessed and pure and of wondrous quality.  He really praised the Choir and we all gave them a round of applause. 

It was dark, now, around 6.50pm, and a magnificent singer sang some strophes, and then into two bhajans, they were marvellous, Swami blessed the prasad and students ran out to collect and distribute; then the pujari stood and gave arathi, and I could see Dorothy of the UTurn school waving the arati flame along with one or two other ladies, on the ladies side. 

It was dark now, and Swami left in his car, a most blessed Christmas in Prashanti Nilayam.

Prashanti Nilayam – Christmas 2008 Childrens Christmas
Prashanti Nilayam Add commentsIt was the time for the Children’s presentations in the darshan hall; they had been waiting in there for many hours. First, it was the choir, and their first song was magnificent; the words are still going around in my head. so high was their energy. They also sang a very fast version of “Take me away oh won’t you carry me” with few verses I had not heard before. Also, their rendition of Why Fear When I am here was magnificent; their refrain was “So says Baba, Sai Baba and Jesus, Why fear when I am here”. Marvellous.

I still haven’t got the new Samasta Loka right in my head, and when it comes at the end of Bhajans, I am slightly non-plussed for a few moments, then I catch on; the children’s choir integrated this into “May the Love we’re sharing spread its wings” and came in with Samasta Loka sukhino Bhavantu, Bhavantu, and the second bhavantu is really high with emphasis and volume; it sounded really good.

I had to laugh at one stage. Something caught my attention during the Childrens Play, I saw snow falling onto the choir in the darshan hall. The adult choir members were sitting near the walkway and some heads were covered with snow, and I could see waves and waves of snow falling all over the choir… then I looked up to the roof and there were two “snow boxes” up there, and snow was just billowing out from them. People were reaching up and brushing the snow off their heads and shoulders; there really was a lot of it.

Lovely energy with the Children, the Lord Jesus had a thick mop of black hair and a fulsome black beard, there was a boat, and nets, and Peter went out and walked on the water with Jesus. The diction and delivery of the lines was excellent, it was rich and full of energy.

The darshan hall was chock full of children from everywhere, overseas and local children; it was a wonderful, graceful and joyful atmosphere in the hall this evening. Swami sitting up on the front of the porch, following the play very attentively, reading the program, and holding the HUGE RED ROSE presented to him by the Producer of the Childrens’s presentation. The Childrens Choir sang sacred songs during the scene changes in the play, and the whole presentation was very inspiring and edifying; it very nearly brought me to tears several times, so sweet was their energy.

Puttaparthi is dark, the wind is blowing, and buses are leaving. And more buses arriving.

Lovingly shared by a Sai Devotee

2 Responses

  1. I was There

  2. When does the adult Christmas choir practice start?

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