After granting an interview, Swami came down to the hall around 9.20 am and took His seat. Looking at a boy singing, Swami said, “You sang enough, now give the mic to the ladies..today is ladies day”. Indeed it was, a few alumnae from Anatapur, a few youth ladies and their children were to perform a few songs for Swami today.
But before that Swami beckoned Sri Narasimhamurthy to announce the results of SSLC Exams (Secondary School Leaving Certificate Exams) conducted by the education board of Karanataka, in which our 10th grade students appeared and passed with flying colours. 5 out of 6 campuses, had a 100% passing result where as only one campus had 99% passed students. Many of them scored distinctions with one of them from Gulbarga scoring as high as 99% marks. Swami was visibly delighted and conveyed blessings to all the staff and students who had worked hard to achieve this feat. He explained that most of the students come from rural areas with almost no proper facility for education and do not even know alphabets or basic arithmetic before joining our schools, yet they have worked hard with sincerity, not out of force or fear of parents or teachers like elsewhere, but out of love and gratitude for Swami and the society which has given them such a wonderful opportunity to study.
Thereafter Swami called the students who were present and blessed them. A student from Gulbarga campus who scored 97% marks on being asked by Swami, replied that he wanted to join Swami’s PU college, then become engineer and help in the construction more schools. Swami blessed Him with a gift, but more importantly with His grace and guidance to construct the Bidar campus after finishing his engineering, which also would be taken care of by Swami.
After blessing the students, the alumnae were then permitted by Swami to offer their musical presentation. They sang Kritis, devotional Songs and songs composed by Swami Himself in His early years, which Swami enjoyed, by keeping the beat with His hands and swaying to the rhythm, just like earlier times. After the seniors, the young singers with youngest being only 6 and a half year old girl, followed the veterans at Swami’s command and took the mics to sing the ever green numbers of ‘Why Fear when I am here’, ‘Love is my form’ and ultimately consummating in to the most famous, ‘Humko Tumse Pyar Kitna”. The audience joined in clapping and following as the old songs donned a new spirit in the shrill voices of the young ones. As soon as they had finished, Swami declared, “After the delectable spread of food, we finally had the dessert, now we can not eat any more”. Truly ‘Humko Tumse’, the anthem of Sai fraternity, was the sweetest number that never gets old!
Thereafter Swami beckoned Smt Sadhana Jayaram, to perform on Sitar. She is the disciple of her late father Sri Rama Rao who was the direct disciple of Pt Ravi Shankar, the legendary Sitar Maestro. She is also teaching Sitar to our students – boys and girls – in our campuses by coming all the way from Bangalore.
Mrs Sadhana performed a few popular bhajans like Prema Muditha and Hari Bhajan Bina, finally ending with a Dhrut in Khamaj Raga. Swami enquired with her about how well the students were learning, and was satisfied to know that some students are sincerely putting efforts to Master the instrument.
Swami blessed all the ladies who performed with specially ordered silk sarees and gave gifts to the children.
After which, Swami spoke briefly about the unique wealth of Goddess Saraswathi, the wealth of knowledge or Vidya, that grows on spending but diminishes on hoarding. He said that the education that the alumni and alumnae have received must be shared with their younger brothers and sisters, which is their primary duty and obligation. He narrated the story of Dronacharya and Ekalavya, where even though the Royal preceptor of Kuru Dynasty, bound by his offical duty, denies the deserving Ekalavya his tutelage due to his lowly birth, yet Ekalavya considering him as his guru, worships his idol and masters the skill of archery which could even shut the mouth of a distant unseen barking dog by tracing the sound. On discovering this, Dronacharya demands the right thumb of Ekalavya as Guru Dakshina (offering of a fee), lest the tribal boy should surpass the royal prince and his favourite student Arjuna and jeopardize his job! This cheating or Droha to a student, is worst kind of sin a teacher can commit and therefore Dronacharya is actually a ‘Drohacharya’, declared Swami.
“But as every action has a reaction, sooner or later, so it transpired that this sin of cheating his disciple, caused Dronacharya to not listen to the words of Dharmaraja completely, on the battle field of Kurukshetra and assume that his son Ashwathama had been killed instead of the elephant by the same name, thereby making him loose his energies, due to his attachment to his son and be defeated at the hands of Arjuna”.
“Today’s teachers are no different when they refrain from teaching the higher spiritual and moral truths to the students and limit themselves to mere worldly academic knowledge, for fear of pressure from greedy school management or ambitious parents. Though teachers know the need for moral and spiritual teachings, yet for the fear of their jobs, they do not teach these to the students thereby cheating them”.
“However in our schools, Swami insists on giving the academic education with greater emphasis on Spiritual training for the complete development of the students. Soon Swami is going to open many more institutions, apart from the 8 that have been built in the last three years”. However, Swami expressed His concern that any number of institutions cannot fully serve the need, therefore the alumni must take up the responsibility of spreading the light of education by each becoming an institution himself or herself. Swami said, ” Like Dronacharya, I am not asking you for thumbs or limbs in return for the education that has been given to you, all I am asking you is to teach ten others and help them also become better”.
Swami declared that soon more girls campuses would come up, then pre-university colleges for girls and even a degree college. This apart, Swami would provide complete support for engineering, medical, law, accountancy or any other field of knowledge that willing students may want to pursue. He already provides medical, engineering, law, accountancy seats to two girls and two boys every year, by paying their entire education expenses.
Swami then introduced Prof Sai Leela, who has been with Swami since she was a little girl, studied in Swami’s institutions, obtained a PhD in English from Swami’s university, served as a lecturer in Anantapur campus and now has been RE-TYRED by Swami to be the chairperson and direct and guide the Girls’ education program in Karnataka. Prof Sai Leela who was busy in the kitchen preparing some of the favourite foods of Swami, rushed to His presence and spoke a few minutes to all. She urged the alumni especially the girls who she had taught, to join hands in this great mission of Swami, spread the word and expand the service activities. She recollected how Swami has always been with her when she lost her father at an early age and later her mother during her college days. However after Swami left His mortal coil, she felt orphaned and abandoned, but fortunately not for too long as Swami reached out to her in the Subtle form and brought back the lost joy, peace and confidence. Soon after she finished talking, she hastened back to the kitchen to continue her chores.
After Swami took Arathi around 11.30 am, He gave a long interview to the Australian devotees and had his special meal of Pure Love on the menu! His all time favourite!
Swami granted a few interviews to the devotees who were leaving that day and then came down to the main hall around 5pm. The evening program was a musical one, wherein Smt Gayatri and Sri Kunal Ganjawala were to offer a few songs at the lotus feet.
The confluence of devotees, devotional songs and the divine Himself, was a moment that captured the essence of the statement, “Happiness is union with GOD”. Truly this happiness was beyond all joys known to mankind.
The rendition of the bhajans of Meera Bai by Smt Gayatri made Bhagawan say, “She sings just like Meera, in a high pitched voice, forgetting herself”. Kunal ji presented Abhangs of Saint Tukaram along with some other songs including a famous one that we all sing often to Swami, ‘Jab Koi Baat Bigad Jaaye’, which can be summarized as a prayer to Swami to be with us through ups and downs of our lives. When the song was over, Kunal ji told Swami, “Please be with us Swami all the time”. To this Swami replied, “I am always with you, you be with me! If you think of me all the time you will feel my presence all the time”. How true! Swami is always with us, it is we who need to be with Him, by keeping our minds ever focused on Him. Sri Mandolin Rajesh ji, who was blessed to be with Swami on his birthday, also accompanied the artists on his mandolin.
Swami then the asked Sri U Rajesh to play a Kriti and a bhajan on the Mandolin, which he did so amazingly, that the whole audience was in raptures and joined his playing by clapping loudly to the beats of the bhajan,’ Bhola Bhadari Baba’. Swami blessed him thus on his birthday.
Swami spoke thereafter spontaneously about music. He said, “In the word Bharatha, the name of our glorious motherland, there are three letteres : Bha- Ra- Tha, which represent, Bh= Bhava (feelings), Ra= Raaga (tune), Tha= Thala (rhythm). All singing is a combination of all the three. The feeling of devotion led the sages and saints who were simpletons, become musicians. None had formal training but the devotion within them burst forth as tunes set to rythms so naturally without any formal training. Meera Bai and Tukaram whose bhajans were rendered a while ago and even Tyagaraja whose kritis are being played, were not trained in music, yet their immortal music is being sung even today by trained and accomplished musicians. Music without feelings is like pudding without sugar, which even a DOG would not like to taste let alone GOD accepting it. Devotion alone is ‘true emotion’, all other emotions are but ‘loose motions’.
Swami advised the students to learn this from these great musicians, who on this day had offered their music with so much of devotion. “When Haridas would sing, he would sing for God so his music was sublime where as Tansen, his famous disciple would sing to please the king and other subjects, therefore he could never achieve the divine sweetness. Music sung for God alone is truly divine. Any one who has devotion will have music in him”, said Swami.
He then enquired as to how long did Late U Srinivas, the older brother of Sri U Rajesh practise everyday? Sri Rajesh replied that his brother would practice for 14 hours a day, though he is able to put just 10 hours of practice. Swami pointed this out to the students especially musicians, “It is only devotion, dedication and discipline that makes one perfect, there is no short cut to perfection. We must give our 100% to whatever we do, even a percent less is equal to 0%, our body, mind and soul should be one when we do anything”.
Swami then invited questions from the audience. A senior devotee asked Swami that though some people may have devotion yet they may not be good singers or musicians though Swami said that devotion would lead to music. Swami replied, “You may not be a singer or a performer and you may be able to appreciate the subtleties of music, you would feel the devotion when you hear music, and in your moments of solitude you may hum a tune or two and enjoy it. So this appreciation of music also is a gift of devotion. Not all can sing or play, but can definitely enjoy good music. In fact some serve by singing and giving joy, but some serve by not singing and still give joy. We must choose well”.
Another person who is a professional singer and composer asked Swami, “I have to listen to, compose and sing film songs, but I always think of you while singing those songs and keep you as the one for whom the lyrics are written expressing the love, is it right?” Swami replied, “Its better to think of me while you have got to sing a film song, rather thinking of something or someone else while singing bhajans. Like the two friends who decided to spend the evening in different ways, one chose to attend a satsang whereas other decided to go to a bar and enjoy a few drinks. However, it so happened that the one in satsang kept thinking of the enjoyments of the bar, while the one in the bar kept thinking of the good thoughts of the satsang.
Swami answered many more questions for young and old and concluded the session around 7.15 with arathi. Thereafter He gave a few interviews, had His dinner and retired for the day.