After a combination of South Indian and Sri Lankan breakfast, Swami granted a couple of interviews, before proceeding to the residence of Hon Speaker Sri Karu Jayasurya. As soon as Swami entered his official residence, He was escorted to the Board Room for the official Board meeting of the Sri Sathya Sai Karuna Nilayam Foundation.
Swami chaired the meeting in a one-of-its-kind incident; the official board room with speaker mics and chairs all around made it feel so special with Swami at the helm of affairs, the speaker for the day!
As soon as Swami entered the hall, he noticed the absence of Mr Jayasurya, and asked “Who is the speaker today?” Then He sat on the central chair and said that He was going to moderate the meeting. The agenda of the meeting was presented by one of the members of the Board, a brief of the work done since the land was donated by Brother Sutharshanom to the Sri Sathya Sai Karuna Nilayam foundation, which is now fully operational, was briefed to all present. Swami was also given a file containing the agenda and He went through it page by page. The discussions revolved around the future works of the Foundation which Swami guided directly by asking them to take up the construction of a small General Hospital within the next six months, which will eventually grow in to a Speciality hospital in a few years. Quoting the example of the Super Speciality Hospital in Prashanti Nilayam which was built in six months in those times of meagre communication and transport facilities, He encouraged all of them to build the hospital within six months so that He could return around New Year (2017) to inaugurate the same. After seeking everyone’s opinion, He specifically distributed the portfolio of works to each member according to their experiences. Swami brought the meeting to a close after blessing the whole team, who were now charged up more than ever before, to plunge in to action.
Swami was then led to hall where food was set up amidst many devotees who were waiting to experience Him. Swami personally looked in to every chaffing dish, and inspected the menu. Looking at the large spread of the banquet, He commented jokingly, “It will take till dinner for people to eat lunch!”. As He walked around He saw a women employee who was there as per the protocol and asked her, “Where is your husband?”. She said that she wasn’t married still, to which the omniscient Lord replied, “Oh! You know him for more than 10 years, your college friend and out of fear you are not proceeding with the marriage. Go ahead and marry!” He gave her some vibhuthi and blessings for her future. She was ecstatic!
Swami went to the first level of the residence, to His room. He had to walk through a large endless corridor, which was tastefully done with beautiful drapes. Swami commented that it looked like the Mysore Palace!
After lunch and brief rest, Swami proceeded to the venue of the public satsang, Ramakrishna Mission Auditorium, where over 600 people had gathered, eagerly waiting to receive the Lord. Swami entered amidst Vedic chants. A group of youth from Australia rendered some beautiful songs at Swami’s Lotus Feet. After which, youth chanted verses from the Buddhist scriptures, Bible, Quran, and Veda.
Sri Mithun Jayaraman, one of the key organisers of Swami’s trip to Sri Lanka, welcomed Swami and expressed his loving gratitude to Him. Two short videos on the continuing mission of the Lord, education, and healthcare, were screened. Sri C Sreenivas was the first speaker of the evening, and very beautifully compared the word ‘Karuna’ or compassion to Swami. (The programme was being conducted under the flagship of Sri Sathya Sai Karuna Nilayam Foundation instituted in Sri Lanka during Swami’s last visit and blessed with an opportunity to build His Ashram in Batticaloa, in the eastern province). He drew parallels to the word “Karuna” to Swami who embodies it. “It is through the first three words that precede the word ‘Karuna’ which are ‘Sri Sathya Sai’. In many ways ‘Karuna’ and ‘Sri Sathya Sai’ are synonymous, they are like saying the same thing but in two different terms. ‘Karuna’ as the loosest word of translation goes as ‘compassion’; a most epitomised value and virtue that Swami stood for, lived for, tirelessly worked for, was and is compassion. So when we sit under the auspices of Sri Sathya Sai Karuna – truly we begin to understand the most vital meaning of human life.”
Sri Sreenivas said that ‘Karuna’ is the message Swami has brought, and ‘Karuna’ is the very essence, meaning and purpose of life. “We are all embodiments of ‘Karuna’.” He concluded by saying, “I am sure much is waiting to happen as you will see in the days and the months to come.”
Sri B N Narasimha Murthy, the next supeaker, spoke about the life he spent with Bhagawan for more than fifty years, “earlier in His physical body and now later in this most baffling Leela, baffling manifestation in the subtle form. What do we know about Him? Having lived with the great Divine master, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, who is none other than Lord Sri Rama, who is none other than Lord Buddha, somebody asks me, ‘What do you know of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba?’ As He Himself has declared, nobody knows Him; but why do people all over the world build temples for Him, churches for Him, mosques for Him, synagogues for Him, pagodas for Him and in many, many forms we keep worshipping that One Divine about whom we know nothing? But we do believe that He is an abode of compassion, we do believe that He is a temple of love. That is why mankind from times immemorial keeps on worshipping this Divine principle which manifested at different times in history as different Divine personalities. What the world knows of Him is what He has spoken about Himself whether as Sri Rama, whether as Lord Buddha or whether as Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba today.
Sri Narasimha Murthy spoke about the assurance which Lord Rama gave the whole of mankind, “Only once you have to come to Me and tell Me with feeling in your heart and with tears in your eyes, ‘Lord, I belong to You,’ and whether it is a man or a woman, a bird or a beast, I grant complete freedom from fear.” Otherwise as Brother Sreenivas said, who would take monkeys as His soldiers, who would take the help of squirrels, who would take the help of eagles and birds if He were not an embodiment of compassion? And Lord Buddha also, the one teaching that He gave which was absolutely relevant for His times in India and in every country for every man and woman was this Karuna, compassion. Ahimsa paramodharmaha, He said. Non-violence is the eternal law, He proclaimed. Again we see this in Dhammapada, where Buddha declares that hatred can never be overcome by hatred; hatred can be overcome only by love. This is the eternal law. And that is exactly what Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is also doing”.
Swami started His discourse by saying, “It is My pledge that I grant bliss to mankind and protect them. It is My love that I would like to confer on the poor and the downtrodden what they lack, and remove their suffering. It is My vow that I catch hold of the hands of those men and women who stray away from the path of Dharma, and bring them back to the right track. What is true devotion to Me? True devotion to Me on the part of devotees is to take either failure or success, sorrow or happiness as equal with equal mindedness. That is devotion to Me.”
Swami then went to explain that the above couplet was written by Him in a letter to His brother Sheshama Raju, who way back in 1949 was worried whether some harm will come to his younger brother. Sathyam as His friends would address Him, was gaining much name and fame, which resulted in jealousy and hatred from the people around. Having received many threats to stop the work that Sathyam was doing, and having heard about all such threats and attempts to stop Sathyam from doing what He was doing, His elder brother Sheshama Raju was worried and He also requested Swami that, “You are a young boy and You speak of such things which do not go very well with the people around. It would be better if You keep all your teachings to Yourself instead of going around talking about things that irritate others.” That is the time when Swami replied and revealed His mission to His own brother. Swami said, “And the mission that ‘He’ has taken upon ‘Himself’ continues even now. ‘He’ stands by What ‘He’ told then, and until last person on earth is transformed into a person who follows his Dharma, that is the duty of his true Divine self, Swami’s mission is not going to be over. Those who stray from this path of Dharma, to put them back in this path of Dharma is Swami’s vow. Those who are afflicted by the miseries and sorrows of this world, giving them ever lasting joy that arises by experiencing one’s own Divinity is Swami’s mission. Those who lack the basics and are poor and needy, to grant them what they lack and bring relief to them, bring succour to them is the mission of Swami and to teach the people to accept both joys and sorrows with equanimity is the duty that Swami has taken upon Himself. And till there is a need for this, Swami’s mission cannot get over!”
Swami quoted the example of Buddha who’s statues and pictures are everywhere in the city of Colombo. But what truly would please Buddha is not the installation of idols but practicing His teaching of compassion. “Hrud plus Daya is hrudaya ( heart).Swami too will be happy only if you practice what He has taught and not merely adore him with flowers and fruits. If need be offer the leaf of your body, flower of your heart, fruit of all your actions and water of tears of bliss”. “Lead your life in such a way that people would know me through you. It’s only a life lead for others that can make one immortal”.
It was indeed very powerful to hear the Lord’s discourse! Swami answered a few questions from the devotees. One devotee who had served Swami earlier in Puttaparti, asked Him if he could serve in any way in the upcoming hospital in Sri Lanka, Swami said,” Of course, for good work you don’t need my permission. When the bridge was built by monkeys who could carry large boulders, a little squirrel watched them and thought as to how could it help as it was too small to carry the boulders. But it’s yearning to serve the Lord and participate in His mission was so strong that it plunged in the waters and rolled in the sands and shrugged the sand from the body on to the bridge to fill up the gaps between the boulders so that all could walk without hurting their feet. Sri Rama acknowledged its services by caressing it’s back which still carries the lines that remind one of Rama’s touch”. After answering a few questions, blessing the packed dinner Prasadam, accepting Mangala Arathi, and blessing all the devotees profusely by walking around the hall, Swami proceeded to the residence of General Rohan de Silva Daluwatte, former Chief of Army, Sri Lanka for dinner. It was an intimate gathering of friends and family, and the Lord showered His grace on all of them. General Daluwatte, his wife Smt Jayanti, their children have been ardent devotees of the Lord for many decades. Swami revealed that it was a promise given to the General 25 years ago to visit his home when he had invited Swami, which was being fulfilled that day!
After dinner, Bhagawan and His entourage proceeded back to the Jayewardene residence.