Merry Christmas From The SathyaSaiBaba Blog

Merry Christmas From The SathyaSaiBaba Blog

Merry Sai Christmas

Merry Sai Christmas

The three stages of Jesus’ life
Jesus was kaarana-janma, a Master born with a purpose, the mission of restoring love, charity and compassion in the heart of man. He had no attachment to the self, nor paid any heed to joy or sorrow, loss or gain. He had a heart that responded to the call of anguish, and he went about the land preaching the lesson of love. His life was a libation for the upliftment of humanity.

Like most seekers, he first searched for the Divine · in the objective world. But he soon realised that the world is a kaleidoscopic picture created by one’s own imagination, and sought to find God within himself. His stay in the Himaalayan monasteries in Kashmir and in other centres of eastern asceticism and philosophical inquiry, gave him greater awareness. From the attitude of being a Messenger of God, he could now call himself the Son of Clod. The bond of relationship increased: the ‘I’ was no more some distant light or entity; the light became a part of the “I.” With the body-consciousness predominant, he was a messenger. With the heart-consciousness in the ascendant, he-felt a greater nearness and dearness, and so the son-father bond seems natural at this stage.

Later as the Aathman-consciousness was established, Jesus could declare, “I and My Father are One.” The three stages may be described as: “I was in the Light,” “The Light was in me,” and “I am the light,” and may be compared to the Dhwaitha (dualism), Visishtaadhwaitha (qualified non-dualism) and Adhwaitha (non-dualism) stages as described in Vedhic philosophy. The final stage is the one when all duality has been shed. This is the essence of all religious disciplines and teachings.

Jesus’ original name was Isa
Jesus was honoured by the populace as Christ, for they found in his thoughts, words and deeds, no trace of ego. He had no envy or hatred, and was full of love and charity, humility and sympathy. Jesus’ original name was Isa which, when repeated, is Sai. Isa and Sai, both mean Ishwara (God), the Eternal Absolute, the Sath-Chith-Aanandha (Being-Awareness-Bliss). In the Tibetan manuscript, at the monastery where Isa spent some years, his name is written as Isha, which means the Lord of all living beings.

When Jesus proclaimed that he was the Messenger of God, he wanted to emphasise that every one is a messenger of God and has to speak, act and think like one. This is the true Karma- Kaanda (branch dealing with action and its reaction) of the Vedhas: saadhana (discipline) of karma (work), japa (prayer), seva (service) and dhyaana (meditation). When progress is furthered, Jesus asserted, each one can recognise all as Sons of God, Children of God, brothers and sisters of oneself, and so, deserving of worship. The Upaasana Kaanda (branch of Vedhas dealing with contemplation) is the scripture in Sanaathana Dharma (Eternal Universal Religion) for this stage. Finally, knowledge ripens into wisdom and’ the goal of Jnaana Kaanda (branch of Vedhas dealing with spiritual wisdom) is reached, when each one realises, “I and my Father are One.”

The Esoteric Christmas

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba

The Esoteric Christmas

Undoubtedly the many millions of Christians throughout the world know that the 25th of December is the traditional date for celebrating the birth of Jesus. Very few, perhaps, know that this has not always been so. In fact, it did not become the accepted date for the Christmas festival until nearly the middle of the fourth century A.D. In her book entitled “Esoteric Christianity”, Dr Annie Besant, who was President of the International Theosophical Society for more than a quarter of a century, ending about 1934, quotes Williamson Gibbons, author of “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” and a number of others on this interesting subject. From these I gained the following facts, which should be of interest to all who join in the Christmas festival. Indeed, other spiritual people who regard Christmas as belonging only to the Christians may feel inclined to celebrate the 25th of December themselves when they know its true meaning and implications.

Not knowing and finding it impossible to determine the actual date of the birth of Jesus, Christians of the earliest centuries chose any date for the celebration. It is said that over a hundred different dates were chosen by sects of the Christian church. Dates in September or August, February, March, June and July were chosen by groups of Christians in different countries. Perhaps this did not matter so much but it was certainly better that all should celebrate on the same date. So in the year 337 A.D. the head of the Christian church, Pope Julius (, residing in Rome, decided on the 25th of December as the date for all Christians to celebrate the birth of their Saviour and leader Jesus Christ. At this time, about half of the people of Asia Minor, Europe and North Africa had become Christians, while others retained their old religions, mainly that of ancient Greece. At about this time, or a little earlier, Christianity had become the official religion of the Roman Empire. So it paid those in power, or seeking power, to adopt this new religion.

Now what was the reason for the choice of this date, the 25th of December, above all other possible dates? There must surely have been a good reason and, in fact, there was. The reason goes back through many centuries to time immemorial. It goes back, in truth, to the worship of the sun god or the sun hero who reincarnated every year on that date. This was, of course, connected with the rebirth of the sun in the northern hemisphere. The wise men of ancient times, as do those of esoteric understanding, believed in the maxim, “As above so below and as below so above”. They understood that what happens below on earth is, in a sense, a shadow of more important happenings above. As you and I, having three-dimensional bodies, cast a two-dimensional shadow, so events in the higher spiritual world of many dimensions cast three-dimensional shadows here on earth. We are concerned here with the rebirth of the physical sun on the 25th of December and the parallel rebirth of the sun hero, the one bringing earthly light and the other bringing spiritual Light.

At midnight on the 24th of December, known as the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere, where our culture had its roots , the sun, which had been declining for six months and seemed likely to leave the earth forever, was suddenly reborn. The reincarnating sun rose above the eastern horizon, proceeding through the constellation of Virgo just above the horizon. So it was that on the early morning of the 25th of December the sun was reborn through a virgin. This was the great and wonderful event to the earth below. But, in the world above, there was a parallel, a yet even greater event. To the wise men of the ancients and likewise to the modern esotericists, a life-giving saviour sun is the body of the spirit known as the Logos. The dictionary gives two meanings to this word Logos, one is the Son of God and the other the Word of God. It is the Son of God, whether he be considered a messenger or an Avatar, who brings to man the wisdom of God in words. The new-born physical sun is at first a weak infant. He seems to struggle against the dark, which is predominant while the nights are longer than the days, and this valiant struggle of the youthful sun continues until he reaches the line of the spring equinox. And when he crosses that, he is said to be crucified and rises triumphantly to ripen the corn and fruits, thus bringing warmth and sustenance to the creatures on earth. His life-giving ascension into the heavens continues until the summer solstice in June, then he begins his six-monthly decline until the next winter solstice in December.

The Logos or Godman, who descends to earth to bring the divine Light and thus save mankind from spiritual death, has many parallels in his birth and life with his symbol, the physical sun. For one thing, he is always and inevitably born of a virgin as the sun is born through the cosmic virgin. The mother of the Godman may not be a virgin in the physiological sense but she is always so in the spiritual sense. Let us think of the few whom we know, Isis of ancient Egypt was the virgin mother of Horus, one of the Godmen light-bringers. Devaki, the mother of Krishna was of a spiritually pure virginal nature and in some accounts of Krishna’s birth his mother, Devaki, was a physiological virgin. The Chinese account of the birth of Buddha claims that his mother, Mayadevi, was a pure virgin. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virgin according to the biblical account, while all accounts show her to be a spiritually pure woman. Those of us who are fortunate to have known Eswaramma, the physical mother of our Avatar, Sathya Sai Baba, know that she was pure and virginal of heart. It would seem that none of the saintly mothers of the Godmen had any bad karma to adversely affect the bodies of those Godmen who came to earth through their wombs.

Knowing something of the lives of the great Avatars of history, we can see more easily through them, the continuing parallel of their lives with that of the new-born sun. They too suffered in the early part of their lives from the threats of the spiritual darkness around them. The Avatars are not, of course, born every year like the physical sun, but they reincarnate at the end of a cosmic year when the spiritual light is fading and the power of darkness comes near to eliminating the last shreds of spirituality in the hearts of men. Then in the boyhood of the young Avatar the parallel with the sun continues. His life is still threatened by the power of darkness. We know the threat to the baby Krishna by his wicked uncle Kamsa was there from the very beginning of his life and continued through his childhood. We know how, when he heard of the birth of the baby Jesus, the prince of darkness King Herod, who had heard in a prophecy that this child would be a threat to his throne, had all the male children born about the same time in Israel slaughtered to make sure that he had eliminated the threat to his power. But an angelic messenger had warned the baby’s parents and they took the young Jesus into Egypt where he lived until the threat to his life was over. We know, too, how the dark forces worked through certain ignorant and misguided villagers to kill the young Sathya Sai through poison and fire.

But is this interesting, strange parallel with the life of the sun seen also in the many sun heroes who have come to help mankind through past ages? Annie Besant states that this is so and that the similarity in the pattern of their lives is too great to be accounted for by a mere coincidence. Today we do not, of course, think of a sun hero, a saviour, as he was called, being born every year at the winter solstice, as perhaps some of the ancient peoples did. Oddly, however, in a metaphorical way we do think of him being born each Christmas. As Rudolph Steiner points out, in some of the Christmas carols we sing ‘Christ is born on earth today’, ‘Today the angels are rejoicing and singing on earth as well as in the heavens’.

Perhaps in past ages many of the ancient peoples celebrated the 25th of December not because a new sun hero was born but to rejoice in the birth of one born in past years. The Celtic peoples, for example, used to light fires on the hills of Scotland and other countries on the 25th of December, and the bells would ring in rejoicing and thanksgiving to Bael, one of the ancient Light-bringers. When they became Christians, the Celts continued lighting the bonfires in honour of the new saviour and redeemer, Jesus Christ. How appropriate it was that the Christian leaders in Rome in the year 337 A.D. chose this date to celebrate the birth of Jesus! Whenever he was actually born, was he not the great and recent bringer of the spiritual Light and therefore the Saviour and redeemer of mankind?

Another of the ancient light-bringers, or sun heroes, was Dionysius of ancient Greece, renamed Bacchus by the Romans. In Rome itself, it seemed very useful and appropriate that on this day any ritual celebration by the Christians would hardly be noticed and attacked by the non-Christian Romans who were busy noisily celebrating the birth of Bacchus who, as well as being a sun god, was also the god of the grapevine. A good deal of noisy celebration and drinking seemed called for. Also sports and games were part of the Roman celebrations of the birthday of Bacchus. Altogether it was safe for the Christians to hold their quiet spiritual rejoicings on this day. Christians were not altogether safe from violence even at that period in the first half of the fourth century A.D.

So the Christmas rejoicings and celebrations go back into the dawn of time. We can hear the bells ringing out through the many centuries, giving it a greater dimension. As well as this greater dimension in length, the concept of Christmas gains also a greater width. It embraces not only the birth of Jesus but of all other bringers of spiritual Light. We can include all of them, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Sai Baba in both of his births and others we know and appreciate, in our prayers of thanksgiving and our songs of joy on that special day of the year, the 25th of December, honoured and sanctified through so many generations of our forefathers and perhaps by ourselves in former incarnations. We do not need to belong to a Christian church. We do not even need to think of ourselves as Christians in order to open our hearts and minds in unity with all our brothers and sisters on the earth and of all time and feel our oneness with the one and only God, who has periodically paid his special compassionate appearances on earth in the many forms and under the many names we know and of so many more that we do not know.

Sai Baba teaches us this by holding Christmas celebrations at Prashanti Nilayam each year. And though I have spent Christmas in many lands among many peoples, those held at Prashanti Nilayam are the most spiritual and meaningful that I have ever experienced. Thinking of Christmas in this esoteric way helps us to feel in our spiritual hearts the unity, the love in all religions, as Sathya Sai Baba teaches us to understand and accept.

Reference:: “The Lights of Home” by Howard Murphet

Sai Baba Documentary On South African TV

Sai Baba Documentary On South African TV
Published:Jun 07, 2009

The first South African-made documentary on Sathya Sai Baba will be screened on SABC2’s Issues of Faith today.

One God, Many Paths, to be shown between 9am and 10am, explores the life and teachings of Sathya Sai Baba, regarded as an avatar (a heavenly being who came to earth to show humankind the path to God).

African Lotus Productions, a local production company, made the documentary in India during Christmas last year.

It contains exclusive interviews with devotees, including Prof Anil Kumar, Sai Baba’s official translator; Sylvia Alden, an American who co-ordinated the Christmas programme; and Dr Rajan Cooppan, president of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Council of South Africa.

Producer Suda Sing said the documentary, shot at Prashanthi Nilayam, the headquarters of the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation, would also feature the avatar’s gift of “materialising” jewellery.

“While I was there, at the end of one of the sessions, Sai Baba waved his hand and a necklace with a pendant appeared. That we captured on camera,” said Sing.

He said he approached the documentary with scepticism. But “it fills you with so much heart. You can’t help but believe what you see there.”

The Times Reference

George Frideric Handel’s Messiah

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba

George Frideric Handel’s Messiah

On the Sunday morning before Christmas, 1980, as I sat on the sands outside the temple of Sri Sathya Sai Baba in Puttaparthi a small tune came into my head. It was a lilting refrain, and it played itself over and over again, insistently, as if asking to be recognized. But I could not remember exactly what it was, nor what words went to it, although this seemed important. All I knew was that it came from somewhere in Handel’s “Messiah”. When I was younger I used to hear this work every year, then later I sang in the chorus on a few occasions. My singing teacher had given me two soprano arias from “Messiah” to practise. And in my own music classes, we often studied it. I had grown to appreciate the magnificent music more and more, but the full impact of the words had come upon me only a few weeks before Christmas,1980.

Before, I had always assumed the entire “Messiah” was about Jesus. But one day six years after knowing about Sai Baba and three years after seeing Him for the first time, I began to wonder. The parts about Jesus were all in the past tense, and the parts about the Lord, for whom a new highway would have to be made in the wilderness, were in the present and the future. Not many days before, I myself had used a road that had only been in existence for a few years, to reach the courtyards of Sai. With me I had brought my musical score of Handel’s “Messiah”, rather the worse for wear, and it lay on my lap as I waited for Baba to come out. With it was a letter asking Baba to confirm my belief that a great deal of this oratorio is about Him, and also asking Him to bless a performance of it one day in His presence. I had begun to envision this grand event, complete with choir, soloists and orchestra under a certain world famous conductor. The idea seemed fantastic, but not unrealizable. I pictured people all over the world practising their parts, then gathering in Puttaparthi to put the finishing touches to the whole, all in the same spirit of love, service and devotion with which Handel wrote the music and Jennens found the words for ‘The Messiah’.

My mind travelled back in time and space from India, 1980, to London in the late summer of 1741. The Governor of Ireland had asked “The Great Mr. Handel”, as he was often called, to write an oratorio for a charitable benefit concert. Handel was wondering what material to use, when a certain Charles Jennens came to him with a libretto for an oratorio made up of texts from the Old and New Testaments that said, in essence: “Prepare for the coming of the Lord in all His glory, for the sacrifice of Christ Jesus was not in vain.”

Jennens could not understand himself why he had been impelled to begin selecting texts from the Bible, nor why he had selected those particular ones. An atmosphere of wonder surrounded the entire creation of “The Messiah”. Handel was so inspired by the libretto that he composed the music in 23 days, hardly stopping to eat or sleep. A servant, tip toeing into his room one evening to take away an untouched supper tray, found him in a state of ecstasy. A glorious vision seemed to be still hovering before his inner gaze, and he said, “I did think I saw all heaven before me, and the Great God Himself.” He had, the legend says, just composed the “Hallelujah” chorus.

Following its premiere for charity in Dublin, ‘The Messiah’ came to London for a royal command performance in a full theatre, before King George II. The first stirring notes of the “Hallelujah” chorus brought the King to his feet, followed by the entire audience. It is still traditional for audiences to rise for this particular chorus.

Having originally composed this music for charity, Handel continued to use it in service of society throughout the rest of his life, giving benefit performances regularly for charities dear to his heart. In his will he left a copy of the musical score and several sets of words to the London Foundling Hospital.

Coming back to the twentieth century and Puttaparthi, I found the persistent little tune still chirping away in my head, asking to be identified. But morning Darshan did not seem the right time or place for games of ‘Guess the Theme’. Sternly banishing the motif as if it were some kind of friendly but superfluous mosquito, I resolved to calm my spirits by looking up an inspiration for the day. Usually, I do this with one of Baba’s recent books, but today all I had with me was ‘The Messiah’. Being full of sacred writings, it should do very well for a change. I then opened my score at random, and found myself looking at none other than my ‘lost’ theme, which had been set to the words, “He is the King of Glory! He is the King of Glory!”

At that precise moment, just as I had read and marvelled at these words, Sai Baba Himself strolled into view on the other side of the courtyard, moving majestically in rhythm to the theme, and glowing in the gold of the morning sun in His scarlet robe. All through in that unique and splendid Darshan, while Baba visited the hosts who had been awaiting Him, and faces opened up like flowers to the sun, I could “hear” with incredible clarity the mighty chorus from which comes my “little” theme:

‘Lift up your heads, O ye gates,’ sing the higher voices of the choir, like herald angels. And be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in!”

“Who is this King of Glory? Who is this King of Glory?” inquire the lower voices, those of the men.

“The Lord of Hosts, the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle,” comes the reply from on high. Then all the voices, high and low, unite as if heaven and earth had joined forces, to exult: “He is the King of Glory.”

The music was over and Baba had now nearly completed His stately progress around the ladies’ courtyard. As He arrived at my place in the Darshan line, I held out the score and the letter, wondering what He would do. What He did was beautiful in its simplicity. He placed His hand firmly for a moment on the tattered pages full of the hopes of generations and the visions of prophets since Isaiah, and gave His blessing.


George Frederick Handel Messiah

George Frederick Handel Messiah

Sai Spiritual Showers – Issue 70

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba

Sai Spiritual Showers – Issue 70

How often do you get to ask Bhagawan some of the most intricate questions seeking clarification? Late Ms. Peggy Mason, an ardent devotee of Bhagawan from the United Kingdom had an opportunity to seek Divine clarification on some of the most intricate things about Jesus in a series of three consecutive interviews granted by the Lord. …and thus after 2000 years of his advent, humanity got to hear the Divine Whispers revealing the truth… Excerpts from Ms. Peggy Mason’s article The Interviews, published in Sanathana Sarathi, Sept 1980.

The Questions
I wished I had asked Swami more questions. Yet when one really thinks about it, many questions which leap to mind regarding past events are of academic interest compared to the here and now, and the living reality of the divine principle incarnate in Sai Baba at this most crucial period of the planet’s evolutionary history. There was, however, a question which was most vital to us – to hear from Swami’s own lips – and Ron “plucked up courage” to ask it.

“Swami, you are reported as saying, on Christmas Day 1972, that Jesus said: ‘He who sent me among you will come again. His name will be truth. He will wear a blood red robe. He will be short, with a crown (of hair).’ Does this mean that it was you who sent Jesus into incarnation?”

With ineffable simplicity, never moving his eyes from Ron’s, and in his soft, gentle voice, Swami nodded and said, “Yes.”

Ron took a deep breath. “Then, in that case, are you what Western Christians call `The Cosmic Christ’?” (the Cosmic Christ spirit)

Again came that simple, gentle reply, “Yes.”

As long as I live I shall see His face as He gave this answer in a manner no ordinary human being could assume—so direct, so simple, so gentle, and completely egoless. For a few moments we said nothing, overcome by the impact of His reply.

Everywhere men and women of goodwill are expecting and praying for the Second Coming of the Cosmic Christ spirit. But whether they recognise it or not, it is here amongst us in the embodiment of selfless love.

Carols in the Rain
The most touching darshan I have ever witnessed took place this Christmas Eve, in the late afternoon. Thousands of devotees from all over the world had gathered to spend Christmas with Bhagawan Baba. It had been threatening rain all day and by darshan time there was a steady drizzle.
I gazed across the darshan line and saw a sea of people sitting in the rain. There was absolute silence; no one stirred. They all sat, soaking in the rain, as water dripped from their heads to their faces. Each one was determined to have Swami’s darshan.

Their love seemed to touch the heart of Swami. He came out on the verandah, looking at all these apparently “God-Crazy” people sitting in the rain. Bhagawan moved from beneath the sheltered verandah, walking ever so slowly in the rain, giving us darshan, and letting us know’ by His action that He is always experiencing every thing in life with us. Not once but twice He walked past – showing us that for each deed we do for Him, He blesses us twice.

The wet crowd all dispersed after darshan, and re-appeared in clean clothing for bhajans. The rain had stopped in the interval. The Overseas Devotees’ Christmas Choir sat in front of the Mandir prepared to sing carols during the allotted Bhajan time. All the overseas devotees sat together next to the choir. Swami filled the verandah with all the boy students and placed His red chair amongst the children, at the western edge of the verandah facing the choir.

It began to rain. The more it rained, the stronger the voice of the choir determined to go on with the programme. Swami swayed and tapped with His hands to the rhythm of the songs. He seemed to enjoy us all sitting in the rain at His Divine Lotus Feet.

When the choir finished their programme, Swami signalled us to continue by singing Bhajans. After arati, one person said, “We have had a complete Baptism!”

In between darshan and bhajans my eyes fell on this quote:

“When I sprinkle your face with rain and wash the earth, the first smell of clean rain, I am cleansing you – THINK OF ME!”


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

Happy Holidays From The SathyaSaiBaba WordPress Blog

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Singing For Sai

Heart unto HEART
– By Sue Kelly Christie

Singing For Sai

Singing For Sai

It’s Western time again at the holy city of Puttaparthi. No folks, not Country and Western but Western carols for Christmas. That’s right; it’s the time of the Blessed Birth of the Baby Jesus. That means that the “Westerners” get a chance to strut their stuff for their Beloved Bhagawan.

What an amazing array of humanity has gathered to pay homage to their Master and spiritual leader Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba! So broad and all encompassing are His teachings, that He blesses and indeed encourages all the major faiths and religions to continue with their individual methods of worship. But, with the love of Bhagawan, their worshipping seems to achieve even greater fervour after they visit this great teacher of mankind, even while they are His guests at Prasanthi Nilayam (the Abode of Highest Peace). Christmas time is no exception.

The Western Choir have in their repertoire for their Christmas 2008 programme 18 hymns – including such stalwarts as How Great Thou Art. To make sure that they are in harmony with their host country – Blessed Bharat – the choir also sings a sprinkling of Sanskrit in the form of Bhajans.

The choristers have only nine days to familiarize themselves with 18 new musical pieces – in English – and many of the devotees do not have English as their first language. In addition, there are 36 musicians and to add a final twist of complexity to this ambitious undertaking, most of the people involved are not professional singers or musicians.

Yet, every year for the past ten years the Western Choir have managed to present a most enjoyable programme for their Lord. How do they do it, I hear you cry?

Well, there happens to be this wonderful American woman called Sylvia Alden, who, with her innate musicality and huge heart full of love for Bhagawan, waves her finger-baton and tickles those vocal cords into producing a beautiful sound.

We met Sylvia to find out more about this little musical maestro (by the way the lady has no formal training). She told me:-

“I came to Swami for the first time in 1978. At that time we used to sit on the sands and sleep in the sheds. It was funny, Swami was giving Darshan and He said to me: ‘Come back here in December, I have very much work for you to do’. Well of course, I did come back in the December and instead of being given the Children’s choir to work with (I was a teacher all of my working life) I was given the Adult choir, which was a first.

“In those days we used to write the lyrics out in longhand and all we had was one light bulb hanging on a cord. In those days I would say: ‘Okay, what should we sing?’ These days Swami has given such beautiful songs to people. Back then we had just a harmonium and a guitar. The first programme we presented was in the open air. The Germans wanted to sing Hallelujah. But, open air dissipates the sound and we were singing in the driveway, we were asked to stop in the middle of the song, because the sound simply evaporated in the open air. But, it was a good lesson to teach one not to panic and to just carry on, which we did and the adjusted programme was a big success.”

Sylvia laughs a self deprecating laugh (which one comes to learn is par for the course with this lovely lady) as her memory takes her on a musical interlude.

“I used to have to hold the music down with my foot, in between my toes, because there wasn’t a music stand. But despite all of that, the programme worked well. The men had tears. Swami looked so happy. He apparently said: ‘If you didn’t look at them you wouldn’t know they were foreign.’”

And what do the participants have to share…

I managed to winkle out some Westerners visiting Prasanthi Nilayam for the first time to find out what kind of experience it has been for them, singing for Sai in the choir for the first time.

Kelly Killion, 57, from Arkansas, USA, told me of his first experience.

“Well, I guess it was in 2004. It was my first time in the choir, also my first time in Puttaparthi. Everyone was abuzz with the fact that Swami was going out every day in His red car. So the one day I got it in my head to go outside and wait for His car. I bought a mala — which is a garland of flowers and five roses. Swami came out of the 2nd gate at the University and as He drove past me; He looked at me and gave me a small smile. I then somehow knew I was to wait. Then, He drove past again. Only this time, He didn’t drive past entirely, His car stopped and as it did, I took my mala and placed it in front of the windscreen, and then I took the five roses and placed them on the side near Swami. Swami gave me a big smile. Then to my own amazement, I heard myself implore Him ‘Christ me!’ Well, Swami looked at me, raised His two hands and Wham! Brought them both down in a big blessing! Whoosh – well, I didn’t know what struck me. I felt my whole being immersed in bliss and I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t do a thing until the next time we sang. When we got to sing for Swami, I was right up front. It was the most unforgettable experience of my life. Thank you Swami!”

So that was a triple first for Kelly! Then I spoke with lovely Lore Lijen, a 25-year-old first timer from Belgium. She told me:-

“This is my first time in Puttaparthi and my first time in the choir. My experiences from the choir are very good. The Bhajans I like — although I do not understand them! The hymns I like very much, I find them very uplifting. They make me feel verily at home. It’s like celebrating Christmas in a traditional Christian way and yet Sai Baba makes it all feel so fresh!

“What I also noticed and what really interests me — I am a fitness instructor by the way – and which is something that I never thought I would find so interesting – is the custom of separating the men from the women. It is really good, I think.

“Because, now when I see the women all covered up, I actually see the women – from the inside. I see their beauty and character which emanate from the inside, whereas at home in my own country, many are very body conscious. It is always body, body, body. This I have found to be most fascinating. It’s actually liberating!”

Now let me introduce you to another Parthi first timer, from the US, Miss Paula Hendrix. Paula is a feisty American who has spent most of her life counselling and healing. She has a tremendous love for Lord Jesus. Here’s her feeling on being in Puttaparthi for the first time:-

“I’m from Tampa, Cigar City they call it and it’s in Florida and this is my first time in Puttaparthi. Being in the choir is wonderful. It’s a spiritual experience where some of the songs make me cry. It also makes me less homesick. I feel I am closer to home when singing in the choir. I have pretty much shined in India. Also, for me what is particularly wonderful is that I have found my love for Jesus again. You see, because of the fundamentalists I went right off religion… But being here is like being in a time warp. Being taken back some two thousand years to the time when Jesus walked the earth. That’s what it makes me feel like. Being turned back and now I have shone, on Jesus being here.”

Sylvia reflected on some comments from her choristers: “One lady said ‘I really don’t mind if we sing in front of Swami or not. These nine days of rehearsals have been to me, like a darshan’. Another lady told me, ‘For the first time, I saw my man with tears in his eyes, as he sang.’”

Sylvia added: “I don’t think that surrender is as easy for men as it is for women. Women do that instinctively. Men, from a societal aspect, are brought up not to show any emotion. This choir serves as healing therapy and an opening of the heart. I have seen men in tears on many occasions.”

And what of Sylvia herself? Has her involvement in the Christmas Choir had a healing effect on her?

She confessed: “I had never really laughed until I came to Bhagawan. I was an extremely serious child. I was born into a Baptist family and in my heart I was always afraid of doing something wrong. I was also very angry. I didn’t believe it when I was told that if you grew up in a jungle somewhere you were not worthy of loving God. But then I came to Swami in 1978 and finally was able to laugh”.

During the rehearsals there are, quite naturally, a lot of emotions which generally run high. The means of vocal communication can be a very delicate matter, particularly when one is singing of and for the glory of God. There are a lot of little incidents which happen during the Christmas Choir practice which, on reflection are farcical but at the time of occurrence, it could be felt that World War Three had broken out. For instance, the fans; to fan or not to fan. THAT becomes the question! Lots of ladies want them on, but others want them off!

Then there are the spaces – this is my space, not yours!

And after quite a few other trivia – the music. Every other one of us becomes Mrs. Pavarotti Par Excellence! The beautiful ladies take the Prasanthi Christmas Choir to a whole new level. It’s all part of the process, the teachings. After all, didn’t someone say – Life is a Game – Play it!

So what is Sylvia’s philosophy on these musical machinations?

“I always pray to Swami: Do not let them see me, Sylvia – this body is nothing. Just let them see Thee through me. Let Thy love and light shine through me”.

During the rehearsal sessions Sylvia generously shares with the choristers some of her blessed interview experiences with Bhagawan. This gives them an invaluable insight, which they may otherwise never achieve, into the teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The rehearsals are peppered with these magnificent gems.

What does she lovingly advise her transient musical family to do? Sylvia smiles that beautiful, radiant arresting smile (one that lingers long after the lady has left) and ponders. Then, “If you want to hear God, listen for that soft sweet voice of Love”.

Speaking of that soft sweet voice of Love, Sri Sathya Sai Baba has assembled so many of His beloved musicians for His Christmas Choir. There’s Doug Sanders from New Zealand who Sylvia refers to as her musical rock – and who is also a naughty angel. Doug is a professional musician with the soul of a child. You can hear that when he plays his violin. There’s Peter Bo, who has been playing keyboards for the Christmas choir for almost ten years. Peter’s composition “Christmas in Prasanthi” is being sung by the choir this year. Surely this song will become the anthem for the Choir.

I asked him how it felt to have a choir of nearly 700 interpret his work. He told me: “It is truly wonderful, to feel all that love coming through the song”.

Then there is Gisela Sebastian, whose glorious voice truly inspires the ladies to reach even greater heights. Gisela has composed many songs for Bhagawan. She lovingly goes through the pieces, note by note, chord by chord and semi-breve by semi-breve. Gisela has been involved with music in Prasanthi for the past 28 years. From her demeanour alone, one can see that she honestly lives and breathes for love of God. She has the voice of a Diva and the soul of a Goddess.

The piquant Krishnaveni lovingly teaches us the correct pronunciation for some of the Sanskrit lyrics.

Meet another first-timer to Puttaparthi and to India, 20-year-old Sue Ellen Harrison. She comes from the Blue Mountains of Australia where the famed author Howard Murphet lived and where he penned many of his best-selling books about Bhagawan. She is having a wonderful time in the choir. She tells me that she has been experiencing visions of Jesus all her life. Now she is able to sing in front of the Beloved Lord Himself.
Other members of the 36-strong orchestra include the gifted Anthea on cello, Stan Zaides from Germany, Anne from Australia, Eliena from Russia and Loli Puelles from Spain – to name just a few of this talented group of musicians who all do a magnificent job of making music that brings us to The Music Maker Himself – Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. This Christmas Choir is surely another musical interlude which is part of His unique plan for this period in mankind’s evolution towards Godhead.

It teaches us yet again, as His magnificent story unfolds, that we are all Divine instruments in the hands of the all loving, ever caring and compassionate Creator — whether we are aware of it or not. So let’s all give thanks to this most Beatific Lord for opening our hearts to be able to sing, albeit only one crotchet in the Divine choir of His magnum opus – His Celestial Song, as it continues to unfold, like the petals of the lovely lily greeting the Divine Light in all its spectacular splendour.

It is……
heart unto Heart,
light unto Light,
sound unto Sound.

The Most Perfect Master, again, has been teaching. In this instance — through the Christmas Choir.

HARMONY…Not only through music. But through co-operation…To fan or not to fan, that was the question!

PITCH…Not only in tune musically but with fellow choristers. Think Unity.

PACE…Not only in musical time but seeing God’s timing in everything that happens around us. Rely on the Self.

PAUSE…WAIT for the music and listen in the silence to that small sweet voice of Love within.

God is Melody! Live in Harmony. Promote Unity.

Singing For Swami

Singing For Swami

So, with the Blessings of Bhagawan Baba we wish you a Holy and Happy Merry Christmas. Thank you our BABA!

From the Ladies and Gentlemen of the Christmas Choir we sing to you…..

For this is Christmas in Prasanthi. Oh! Swami what a gift – Your Love is filling every heart, with Joy and Peace and Bliss!