Maria Polyzou is born to run the marathon

Maria Polyzou is born to run the marathon
Nihal Koshie / DNA
Monday, January 11, 2010 1:53 IST

Mumbai: Maria Polyzou was in Mumbai for the first time on Sunday. She was in the city to participate in the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon flame run — the first time the flame was seen outside Europe — from the Shiv Chatrapti International Airport to the Hutatma Chowk.

Polyzou is best-placed to spread the marathon spirit. At 41, she has been running marathons for 23 years. She is also the director of the Museum of Marathon in Marathon. In September she is planning to participate in the Ultra-marathon, a 250 kilometre grind, between Sparta and Athens.

This year marks the 2,500-year anniversary of the battle of marathon, so Polyzou wants to make it a special one for her and the sport as well. She had run in Xiamen, China, to celebrate the uncoming anniversary in September. “This is a special year for the sport. It’s great that the marathon flame has come to Mumbai. It will make this year’s event most special,” Polyzou told DNA on the sidelines of the run.

The marathon celebrates the run of a soldier, Pheidippides, from the battlefield near Marathon to Athens in 490 BC. Pheidippides was carrying the news a Greek victory over the Persians and collapsed and died at the end of his effort.

“There is something about marathons that elevate the spirit. If you can run a marathon you can safely say that you not only have attained the best from your body but have also managed to control your mind. There is no greater satisfaction than winning a marathon but even participating and lasting the distance can be a life-changing experience,” Polyzou said.

India is a second home for Polyzou. She is a Shri Sathya Sai Baba devotee and has been to Puttaparthi a number of times. “I have always enjoyed my visits to India. I am sure the Mumbai marathon will continue to be a success. What is most important for the success of a marathon is public participation and going by what I have seen today and heard about the previous editions, there is a tremendous support for the event,” Polyzou added.

Tarus, Too favourites
An elite athlete field comprising some of the world’s leading male and female long distance runners will participate in the seventh edition of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2010. The course record for men stands at 2:11.51s, set last year by Kenyan Kenneth Mugara, while the record for women is 2:34:08, held by three-time winner Mulu Seboka of Ethiopia, set in 2008.

While Kenneth Mugara is missing for this year’s line up, due to injury, last year’s runner-up David Tarus, also from Kenya, will be back and going by his current form is one of the front runners to take home the winner’s purse of $35,000.

Tarus ran 2:09:24s at Eindhoven in October 2009 and will have to contend with another strong challenger from Kenya, Daniel Kiprugut Too, who has returned the fastest timing in 2009 from among the field, clocking 2:08:38s in the Paris Marathon.

The other leading contenders among the men are Ethiopia’s Gebo Burka, winner of the Alps Marathon in 2009, with a personal best of 2:10:18s, set at the Cannes Marathon in November 2009, and Kenyan Luka Chelimo, winner of the Toronto Marathon in September 2009 with a personal best of 2:10:26s.

DNA India Reference

Sai Baba In The News – November 2009

Sai Baba In The News – November 2009

Aswamedha Trust in service of the poor
Express News Service
First Published : 22 Nov 2009 03:55:00 AM IST

ANANTAPUR: Inspired by Sri Sathya Sai Baba and Mother Teresa, Aswamedha Charitable Trust, the brain child of NT Chowdary was founded in 2007 to sponsor education of poor students in drought-prone Anantapur district.

The trust helps poor students, irrespective of caste, creed or religion, to pursue higher education. It also provides free coaching for Public Service Commission examinations, ICET etc.

Scholarships are also being provided to the students pursuing MBA, MCA, B.Tech, MBBS, degree, Inter and nursing courses. So far 850 students were given scholarships.

Group insurance facility was also extended to 850 students by the Trust.

Differently abled and mentally challenged students are also being taken care by the Spandana Orphanage and the the Trust has donated Rs.50,000 to the orphanage. The trust has provided mid-day meals to nearly 650 students for a period of 45 days and donated Rs 2 lakh to NTR Trust through Governor ND Tiwari.

In order to eliminate corruption from the society, the District Collector N Sreedhar had organised a 3K Run on anticorruption in Anantapur. The trust distributed biscuit packets and fruits to those participated in the run. It donated Rs 2.5 lakh to the Teachers Associations and Unions.

Under Anantha Pratibha programme, 300 students have been provided help to secure admission in corporate colleges.

Free coaching for clerks recruitment examination in State Bank of India was given for 600 candidates by the Trust.

Expess Buzz Reference

Blood donation camp held at Civil Hospital
Ludhiana: Shri Sathya Sai Baba Sewa Samithy, a non-governmental organisation, organised a blood donation camp at Civil Hospital on Saturday. Sanjay Sondhi, a member of the NGO, said the camp was held as a part of birthday of Shri Sathya Sai Baba.

Indian Express Reference

Song Of The Twin Seekers

Song Of The Twin Seekers
Rosemary Sorensen | June 19, 2009
Article from: The Australian

BEING looked at is so much part of the experience of identical twins, according to Moyia O’Brien, that putting the story of her and her sister on to the stage is perfectly natural.

Moyia and Dorothy are the subject of a new musical theatre production, written and directed by Sue Rider. A “good local story”, Rider says, The Pink Twins is also a production that lets us look at the phenomenon of twinning, not just as the topic of the play but also literally. Two sets of twins will perform in the show starting in Brisbane next month: identical twin actors Anni and Maude Davey, and twin singer-musicians, Heather and Marjorie Michael.

It’s a situation that has composer John Rodgers salivating. He has long been fascinated by the way twins’ voices mimic and diverge from each other, and Rider’s Pink Twins has given him a rare opportunity to work that into his music.

“The notes start together, then veer out in a pattern,” is how Rider describes it. “It’s very bent, and that’s just what twins are like, a bit bent.”

Her twins, the O’Brien sisters, were eccentric in a genteel way, their nickname deriving from their obsession with the colour pink. But there is so much more to the slightly sweet and sanitised version which the women themselves put about and carefully exploited until Dorothy’s death in 2004.

It was precisely hearing the news of Dorothy’s death that galvanised Rider into action on her play. Aware of their story, and of the women themselves when they used to come occasionally to see plays at La Boite Theatre, where she was artistic director in the 1990s, Rider realised the jumping-off point for the play she had vaguely thought about writing for many years would now have to be the question: what happens to the twin left behind when the other dies?

“It’s about their life and work,” Rider says, “and the idea of interdependence, this same-but-different thing. Their story was like a continuing line of surprises, from their birth on, and they continue to do things to surprise.”

The O’Briens were born in Toowoomba and they have an older sister who still lives there. Their father died when they were three, as a consequence of being gassed in the trenches in World War I, according to the twins. The first surprise was their arrival, as the doctor had not detected two heartbeats, so only one baby was expected.

Their mother plays an enormous role, in the story as told by the twins and in Rider’s musical. As we move through their childhood years, when they would pinch flowers from gardens, horses from paddocks and even little boys from off the street to bring home and present to their loving mother – to make her as happy as they believed she deserved to be – we sense an intensity in their mother that is almost “bent” itself, to use the word in the way Rider uses it to describe twins. When a path is followed with such conviction and strength of purpose, it can seem, to a dawdling onlooker, to curve away from the simple and ordinary.

It was, in fact, the twins’ mother who brought them, quite late in their lives, to their guru, the controversial Indian spiritual leader, Sathya Sai Baba. That connection led to an ugly incident this year at the Sunshine Welfare and Remedial Association, which the twins set up in 1975. SWARA, the acronym by which the organisation has been known from the outset, is a place where intellectually disabled people, those deemed unfit by government agencies for rehabilitation into the workforce, are given “understanding, care and love”, with daily schedules of activities designed “for personal growth”.

According to the twins’ story as told to Rider, SWARA was set up a few years before their mother, still living in Toowoomba, asked them to accompany her to a film about Sathya Sai Baba. All three were smitten with the guru’s powerful presence and rhetoric. He embodied their beliefs about love as an invincible fount of happiness.

Swara is also the name of an Indian musical scale. Sai Baba’s group is one of those whose devotees wear sunshine colours, across the range from orange to red or pink. The sisters felt these coincidences were signs of the confluence of their work with that of their guru. But a previous manager of SWARA went public with claims that such signs were proof the Pink Twins were running a dangerous cult centre.

The storm, which included protests and finger-pointing aimed at uncovering the twins’ connection with their Indian guru, passed (Ref), Rider says, and SWARA is back to running as it has for more than 30 years.

Moyia was recognised last year by the Queensland State Government with a lifetime achievement award for her work in disability services (Ref). Being the focus of a television expose-style current affairs program appeared not to faze her: she told an interviewer at the time the suggestions were rubbish. “SWARA is not a cult, it’s a service organisation.”

Rider’s play picks up, and delicately handles this intensely personal but fascinating side to the twins’ experience, suggesting this was a kind of secret part of their lives. They chose not to share it because they must have known it could be misunderstood. In her 60s, Dorothy, the twin who had always been the blue one, ever since her parents dressed her thus to distinguish her from her pink sister Moyia, decided to swing across to the pink side. The decision may have been influenced by their increasing interest in the spirituality of Sathya Sai Baba.

Moyia, now 85, puts the story more simply. Wearing pink was simply something they liked to do. Towards the end of Dorothy’s life they became a kind of local oddity, admired but smiled at, the couple of elderly twins who dressed in pink, furnished their house in pink and drove about in a pink car.

“The pink thing marked them out,” Rider says. “They became aware of the advantage of it, when, as funds for their centre became scarce, they needed the promotion, and they were quite canny really, at playing the game, but in a different way from everyone else.”

When her final illness made it clear she was dying, Dorothy was taken to India by Moyia, to spend her last days near their guru. She was cremated and her ashes scattered in the Ganges. It would take a very different work of art to interrogate how this sits alongside the family’s strong Catholicism, and their “spiritual journey” which they also described in an autobiography, written in 1999, called The Touch of the Lord.

Rider says Moyia, who knows the theatre production is a fictional development of their lives, is “overwhelmed with excitement” about this project. Both women were pioneers in occupational therapy, moving to Sydney when they were young women to train in the first courses of a branch of medicine they could see would become important.

When they moved back to Brisbane Dorothy went to work at the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Centre, Moyia at a hospital and then at the Queensland Spastic Centre. Their determination to set up SWARA, how they managed first to secure, then gradually improve, the facilities, and how their city-edge premises became the subject of huge frustration and eventual compromise for a string of state governments, is all part of Rider’s storytelling in The Pink Twins.

But she uses the facts as the mere bones. Around the real lives, she has spun a weave of ideas and themes: about interdependence, about faith and transformation and, most excitingly, about “appreciating difference”.

Early on, Rider says, she had the thought, half-formed, that her music theatre piece would have to involve the people who attend SWARA.

“The people the twins worked with as occupational therapists were, like them, seen as different from the rest of the community, but at SWARA they were exploring what is the same about them or, on the other hand, getting them to appreciate their own different-ness.

As twins, Moyia and Dorothy were always stared at. They couldn’t not be the centre of attention, and a lot of the people they worked with are in the same position. So they learned to accept that, and to understand that’s who they are.”

Rider’s first thought was to use footage from SWARA, particularly of the group singing, which is a big part of their daily schedule, but eventually she realised they needed to become part of the show.

“There’s a really moving song they sing,” Rider says, “which is about how I love myself the way I am, there’s nothing I need to change. I realised it would be dishonest, in a play that is about embracing the work they do at SWARA, not to have the people from the centre there. It would be sanitising it.”

Getting The Pink Twins to stage has been an immense labour of love for Rider, who has had to be producer and director. The play is being presented by Queensland Performing Arts Centre as part of the Queensland Music Festival, which provided good foundation support, but Rider was still following up on various small grant applications right up to the last minute.

In keeping with the “spirit of transformation” theme which threads through the work, she headed into the rehearsal room this week with an open mind as to how her two sets of twins would transform the script she has worked so hard, over several years, to get to its final draft.

“A long time ago, when I started out as a director,” Rider says, “I thought I had to plan everything, to tell everyone exactly what to do. Thank God I’ve relaxed over the years. The collaborative meeting of minds in the rehearsal room is so exciting.”

The Pink Twins, presented by QPAC and the Queensland Music Festival, is at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane, July 22 to August 1.

The Australian Reference

Buddha Zen Feng Shui Art For Blogs

Buddha Zen Feng Shui Art For Blogs

Zen visualization of the Buddha to evoke positive and balanced energy through light, color, imagery and design.

Buddha Zen Feng Shui

Buddha Zen Feng Shui

Feng Shui Blog – Symmetry – Blog Feng Shui

Zen Buddha Feng Shui

Zen Buddha Feng Shui

Feng Shui ~ Dare to see from a different perspective ~ Feng Shui ~ Let your mind expand ~ Feng Shui ~ A hidden design latent in all things ~ Feng Shui ~ A circle of energy.

Feng Shui Zen Buddha

Feng Shui Zen Buddha

Feng Shui – Wind Water – the free flow of balanced and harmonious Chi Energy to brighten the mind, elevate the mood and inspire the heart.

~Feng Shui Art By Joe Moreno
(natural designs and patterns emerge when manipulating a single image of the Buddha with imaging software)

Happy New Year 2009 From The SathyaSaiBaba WordPress Blog

Happy New Year 2009 From The SathyaSaiBaba WordPress Blog
(click on thumbnails to enlarge)

Om Sai Ram - Blessed New Year 2009

Om Sai Ram - Blessed New Year 2009

On New Year’s Day and the whole year through,
I hope the kindness you’ve given to others returns many times to you.
May hope, love, and warmth be in your heart’s possessing,
and may the New Year bring you and yours Sai Baba’s blessing.
Happy New Year 2009!!!

May love and laughter light your days and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world with joy that long endures.
May Sathya Sai’s grace bring the best to you and yours!
Joyous New Year 2009!!!

Om Sai Ram - Happy New Year 2009

Om Sai Ram - Happy New Year 2009

How To Say “Happy New Year” In Different Languages:

  • Chinese (Cantonese) – Sun nien fai lok
  • Chinese (Mandarin) – Xin nian yu kuai
  • Danish – Godt Nytår
  • Dutch – Gelukkig nieuwjaar
  • Farsi – Aide shoma mobarak
  • French – Bonne année
  • Gaelic – Aith-bhliain Fe Nhaise Dhuit
  • German – Gutes Neues Jahr
  • Hawaiian – Hauoli Makahiki Hou
  • Hebrew – Shanah tovah
  • Hindi (Indian) – Nav Varsh Ki Badhaai/ Naya Saal Mubarak Ho
  • Hmong – Nyob zoo xyoo tshiab
  • Indonesian – Elamat Tahun Baru
  • Italian – Buon Capo d’Anno
  • Japanese – Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu
  • Norwegian – Godt Nyttår
  • Pilipino (Tagalog) – Maligayang Bagong Taon
  • Polish – Szczesliwego Nowego roku
  • Portuguese – Feliz ano novo
  • Puttaparth’ian – Om Sai Ram
  • Romanian – La Multi Ani
  • Russian – S Novym Godom
  • Spanish – Feliz Año Nuevo
  • Sudanese – Wilujeng Tahun Baru
  • Swedish – Gott Nytt År
  • Turkish – Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
  • Welsh – Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

Abounding Love And Compassion

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba

Abounding Love And Compassion

Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s abounding Love is indeed the cause and the effect is His creation, and there are myriad ways for Him to express His bounteous Love to His creation. Every word, every gesture, every look of His is suffused with His Love and compassion. Every devotee knows that He cannot endure the pain of suffering of others that He pours out His heart in sympathy with the distressed, the weak, the downtrodden and the afflicted and that, it is this overwhelming Love of His that binds all to Him, in silken bond of affection.

It was Dasara at Puttaparthi, long ago, the fourth day, at about 9 P.M. Bhagawan sent word to a band of young men that they must assemble in the hall for some urgent work, and within a few minutes, there were double the number, eagerly awaiting His orders. Everyone wondered what that could be! Well, Baba came and explained that the buntings and flags with which the Nilayam and the garden were decorated since the first day of Dasara had faded slightly and become dull in colour and so they had to be replaced by fresh ones, to be prepared and fixed during the night! The work engaged everyone till the smaller hours of the night and Baba was with the party all the time, attending to every details. Some one dared asking Him the reason for the extra attention upon the 5th day of Dasara and the reply he got was this: “Don’t you know that tomorrow your Bandhus come for the feast?” and this everyone knew! For, the next day was the day the poor, the Daridranarayanas were coming to the Nilayam to receive Prasadam and Vastram (clothes) from His Hands! But, who could imagine that His Love was so great, so deep, so all embracing as to celebrate the arrival of the poor by this ‘de novo’ decoration? When some one told Him that the feeding of thousands of people and the distribution of hundreds of saris and dhotis should be published in the news papers, He turned towards him and asked “What! Do you publish in papers the news that your friends and relatives came to your house?”! We have, everyone of us, to learn the lesson of those flags.

Verily, it has been truly sung, “Karuna (compassion) indeed is He; He is indeed Karuna”. In the Viveka Chudamani, the Guru is described as Ahethukadayasindhu; His Grace is showered on all without interruption and without cause! Such is our Master, our Beloved Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Truly His Love is all conquering and His Grace is overwhelming that bind us in silken bond of affection.

Source: Sanathana Sarathi

All Is Sweet That Ends Sweet

All Is Sweet That Ends Sweet

Priya Mani With Sai Baba

Priya Mani With Sai Baba

“Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is Omnipresent, Omnipotent and omniscient” is something I had grown up hearing, ever since I joined Swami’s school. In open-mouthed wonder, my little mind (Ms. Priya Mani came under Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba‘s fold as a young girl of 11 years) would try to fathom these stupendous attributes of God.

I am reminded of a ‘sweet’ experience, that takes me back to my 10th grade, when I was sitting for darshan in the 1st line with a couple of students. It was a rain-kissed Onam morning and we were seated for special festival blessings. Given the crowds and the program, it seemed highly unlikely that Swami would even come our way.

Each of us must have been praying to Swami; in a moment of desperation, I decided to bribe Him with the lure of a much-loved sweetmeat. “Please, Swami, please,” I pleaded, “If You bless us today, I will give up eating Gulabjamuns for ever.” As our good fortune would have it, Swami did come our way and did bless us!

2 years sped by. We were in our 12th grade diligently preparing for our approaching Board examinations. It was the dry and dismal month of March with Swami away at Brindavan. One night, Swami appeared in my dream. I saw Swami seated on a chair in our school lobby, and we students were seated on the floor facing Him.

With an ever so slight gesture of the index finger, Swami pointed to one of the students, asking “What is your favorite sweet?” The student replied, “Swami, sohanpapadi.” Swami then posed the same question to another student, to which the response came ‘badurshahi’. Swami then asked me, “What is your favorite sweet?” I replied, “Swami, gulabjamun.”

The Lord then remarked to the gentleman seated beside Him, “Do you know how foolish some people are? They try to please me by giving up sweets!!!”

I woke up delighted and thrilled beyond words. Later on, during the day, we were greeted in the dormitory with joyous shouts that Swami had sent prasadam (sweets) for us from Brindavan and that we should go downstairs to collect the same. It was sohanpapadi! “Wow! What a coincidence. Well, well, all’s sweet that ends sweet.”

But Swami was in no mood for endings. The next day, He sent prasadam again. This time, it was badurshahi! This set me thinking. Part 1 and 2 of my dream had found fulfillment. And I was wondering how Bhagavan was going to execute Part 3. Would He dispatch barrelfuls of rosy gulabjamuns to school tomorrow from far-away Brindavan? Inconceivable by all standards of reason!

Yet, I waited in anticipation for the next day. I did not have to wait for too long. For the very next afternoon, as we were plodding away with our books, our Headmistress Aunty walked in with a huge bowl of gulabjamuns she had prepared exclusively for us, the 10th and 12th grade students. She said we had been slogging too hard, so she had decided to sweeten our labors with a savory surprise!

This incident taught me 2 lessons. One, God defies all definitions of possibility and probability. When He decides to do something, he will find the ways and means to do it. Time and space cannot limit Him and His will. It is we who need to keep our minds and hearts open to receive that Will and Grace. Two, Swami does not desire our paltry offerings by way of giving up a much-desired food item.

He doesn’t even need them. What can we really give Him that belongs to Him already? We can only offer ourselves to Him, heart and soul.

More importantly, Swami was gently reminding me as ever that He was privy to my every thought, word and deed; that ‘Forgetting’ was a word that simply did not exist in the Divine Dictionary!

That I would ‘get’ and ‘forget’, but He only ‘gave’ and ‘forgave’.

Sai Baba With Priya Mani

Sai Baba With Priya Mani

Ms. Priya Mani, an alumna of the Sri Sathya Sai University, Anantapur Campus, joined the Sri Sathya Sai Primary School for her 6th grade. She later went on to complete her graduation and post graduation in English Language and Literature from the Anantapur Campus, securing a Gold medal in both the courses in the years 2002 and 2004 respectively. She currently lives in Dubai and works as a freelance writer.

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!”


Happy Holidays From The SathyaSaiBaba WordPress Blog

Happy Holidays From The SathyaSaiBaba WordPress Blog
Sai Baba Wallpapers – Christmas Backgrounds – Hanukkah Desktops
(Click On Thumbnails To Enlarge)

Sathya Sai Baba Christmas

Sathya Sai Baba Christmas

Sai Baba Christmas Greetings

Sai Baba Christmas Greetings

Blessed Christmas

Blessed Christmas

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Happy Hanukkah

Happy Hanukkah

Happy Holidays For All Faiths

Happy Holidays For All Faiths

The SathyaSaiBaba WordPress Blog sincerely wishes everyone a most blessed Christmas, joyous Hanukkah, festive Kwanzaa, auspicious Yule and a Happy Holiday Season!

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!