As the rays of the setting sun made way for the crisp breeze, watching the Lord descend from His residence atop the hill, crawling through the curvy road and gradually approaching the auditorium, an indescribable warmth filled every heart despite the chilly winter evening. From all corners of the world, men and women, young and old, had converged upon the little hamlet of Muddenahalli with just one desire, to be with Swami on His birthday.
While the girl students with culture dance presentation and boy students chanting verses from the Vedas, youth representatives from various nations stood on either side of the aisle – a unique and unprecedented guard of honour for the Master. Bhagawan was welcomed with the traditional Poorna Kumbham as the air reverberated with mellifluous Bhajans. The gracious Master that He always is, Bhagawan wound his way through the gathering, cutting cakes, throwing chocolates, distributing gifts, accepting and answering prayers, leaving not an inch of ground uncovered.
The proceedings commenced with Vedic invocations by the second-year pre-university students. Bhagawan released a multitude of books and translations of the, amassing to a colossal 24 books spanning 18 popular global languages. The translations, which are published by Sri Sathya Sai Premamrutha Prakashna, the publications wing of Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Trust, include the highly recommended Sri Sathya Sai Uvacha series, transcriptions of divine discourses delivered in the subtle form, and The Story Divine, an intriguing narrative of personal transformation, penned by Bhagawan’s chosen communicator in the subtle form, Sri Madhusudan. The new releases included a Kannada musical offering in addition to the English edition of Sri Sathya Sai Uvacha Volume 9.
The first speaker for the evening was Mr Isaac Tigrett, Founder of the Hard Rock Café and the House of Blues. Mr Tigrett thanked Bhagawan for providing an opportunity to undertake the incredible task of translating Sri Sathya Sai Uvacha into foreign languages, and he also commended the global team for their efforts and dedication.
Sri Sunil Gavaskar, former Indian Cricketer, who was the next speaker, expressed his gratitude to Bhagawan, who was a constant presence in his life and career, guiding him and eventually raising the man to make him a legend. He urged the audience to strive and spread goodness for it is the need of the hour.
The next speaker, Sri C Sreenivas, Chairman of the Sri Sathya Sai Health and Education Trust, reflected upon the momentous nature of the occasion being celebrated. His talk revolved around the love and sweetness that is the mark of Swami’s presence, which alone draws devotees from every nook and corner of the world to an unseen and unheard-of village in India, day after day, week after week, year after year.
Sri T B Jayachandra, Former Minister of the Government of Karnataka, was next to address the gathering. He stressed that the teachings of Bhagawan were universal, which lay the path for each one to follow in order to establish peace and righteousness in the world.
The concluding talk was delivered by Sri B N Narasimha Murthy, Chief Mentor of the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Group of Institutions. In his thundering talk, he spoke of the on-going mission of the Lord in the subtle form in Muddenahalli, reiterating that Bhagawan is love personified; His energy is the source of all the strength and energy in His devotees.
This talk was followed by the divine discourse. After taking a short break, Bhagawan returned for the cultural presentation.
Devotees from Singapore, who play a prominent role in the current mission of Bhagawan, were the first to offer a garland of songs. While they danced and sang, unable to contain their joy, seated on the silver throne, next to the intricately decorated Jhoola (swing), swaying to the tune of sweet music, Bhagawan was a sight to behold. At the end of their presentation, a large cake was brought and while the entire hall was singing ‘Happy Birthday to You’, Bhagawan lovingly cut the birthday cake.
The final act to mark the grand conclusion of this glorious day was a musical extravaganza on the Sarod by Sri Amaan Ali Bangash and Sri Ayaan Ali Bangash. The brothers, maestros themselves, sons of the world-renowned Sarod legend Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, have performed at many prestigious venues, including the Carnegie Hall and collaborated with the most talented and respected musicians, world over. They began their presentation with a classical composition set in Raag Shree, an evening raag. Their next piece was a folk song that is traditionally sung in the eastern regions of India, Bengal and Assam. The brothers, who enthralled the audience with their soul stirring music, ended with a popular Indian devotional song, Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram. As the festivities drew to a close and Arati was offered to Bhagawan, one could say with certainty that every soul which walked out into the starry night to watch the display of fireworks was content, having basked in the nectarine love of the Lord for the entire evening of His birthday celebrations.