Sathya Sai Grama, a tiny village in the district of Chikkaballapur, was abuzz with activity in the wee hours of holy morning of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s Birthday. November 23 this year was celebrated as Guru Nanak Gurpurab, also known as Guru Nanak’s Prakash Utsav and Guru Nanak Jayanti – the birth of the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak.
Even before the warm rays of the sun peered into the Ashram on the cold winter morning, the air was already scented with the fervour of the imminent celebrations. On a day when the Ashram would host the Honourable Vice President of India Sri Venkaiah Naidu and the Honourable Governor of Karnataka Sri Vajubhai Vala among a host of other dignitaries, the focal point of all those assembled was their Master, their Lord, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Devotees from all corners of the world had been pouring into the town for the past week, to revel in the 93rd Birthday Celebrations of their beloved Swami.
The festivities commenced, after Bhagawan’s arrival along with the Honourable Vice President of India and the Honourable Governor of Karnataka, with playing of the National Anthem by students of the Sri Sathya Sai Institution, followed by the lighting of the ceremonious lamp. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati ji, President and Spiritual Head of Parmarth Niketan Ashram, a spiritual institution based in Rishikesh, delivered his benedictory address, granting his message of love and peace. During his enlightening talk, the spiritual leader stressed that it is the touch of the Master alone that can convert dust into diamond. He urged the audience to remain united, for this was the only means to achieve true peace.
The morning witnessed the conferring of the Sri Sathya Sai Award for Human Excellence upon seven individuals who went beyond their call of duty, who, through their passion and zeal, strived to serve humanity in their respective fields of expertise while constantly upholding human values. Sri Sunil Gavaskar, Former Indian Cricketer and one of the members of the jury for the Excellence Awards, spoke of the need to excel at an individual level in order to bring about transformation in the society, the country, and the world at large. He also gave an overview of the gigantic social welfare projects that have been launched by Bhagawan in the subtle form, serving the nation in the fields of education, healthcare and nutrition.
The Excellence Awards, which were given away by the Honorable Vice President, were awarded to Sri Kartik Sawhney (Education), Smt Purnima Devi Barman (Environment), Dr Sunil Kumar Hebbi (Health), Dr Ambika Kameshwar (Music and Fine Arts), Sri Vinayak Lohani (Unity of Religions), Smt Binalakshmi Nepram (Women and Child Welfare) and Ms Tegla Chepkite Loroupe (Sports).
Following the award ceremony was the launch of the coffee table book, ‘A Visionary with a Mission – Madiyala Narayana Bhat’. Authored by Ms Bhuvana Santhanam on the command of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the book traces the life and message of Sri Madiyala Narayana Bhat, a visionary leader and inspiration to scores of youth, whose selfless dedication towards the betterment of society resulted in the formation of the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva group of institutions.
Thereafter, Sri Vajubhai Vala, the Honorable Governor of Karnataka, addressed the gathering and in his talk, he urged everyone to focus on the most fundamental teaching of Bhagawan, Love All Serve All. He emphasised that this universal message, which was epitomised by Bhagawan during his earthly sojourn, should be the slogan of the lives of his devotees.
Honorable Vice President of India, Sri Venkaiah Naidu, was the next speaker. Expressing his joy on being given an opportunity to participate in the Birthday Celebrations, Sri Venkaiah Naidu spoke of the massive movement of love and service that was initiated by Bhagawan, which continues to gather pace and momentum with every passing moment. He stressed that devotees of Bhagawan must consider themselves fortunate to have received His grace and guidance. His talk also focused on the need for selfless service, which helps break barriers of caste, creed and religion.
Bhagawan then granted his divine message, which was followed by the National Anthem, concluding the morning session.