It was a day packed with events! November 30 marked the 89th Birthday Celebrations of Sri Madiyala Narayana Bhat, reverentially called as Anna (a loving brother to all). As a tribute to the selfless life of this great beacon of inspiration, Bhagawan got the 200-year-old Madiyala House renovated as a museum that would house articles and works of Sri Narayan Bhat. Swami was ready by 9am to leave for the Madiyala house, which is tucked away in the interior part of the Alike village, 5kms from the main campus. Devotees and students were already gathered there to receive their beloved Lord. Swami recounted many incidents on the way to Madiyala House. He spoke about the place where He was received, when He had visited on January 30, 1979 after the untimely demise of Anna. Swami alighted from His car amidst vedic chants and bhajans. He inaugurated the plaque of the museum thereafter, before heading to the newly laid garden. A bust of Anna sheltered under a beautifully carved dome like altar was waiting to be unveiled in the centre of the garden. Bhagawan graciously unveiled the statue, and also cut a cake commemorating the glorious day.
Thereafter, He took all the guests with Him to inaugurate the house by ceremoniously cutting a ribbon. Sister Devaki Bhat, the younger sister of Anna was waiting to receive Swami, and her joy knew no bounds as the Lord was now revisiting this home. Swami blessed her and went into each room. With the innocent curiosity of a child, He was the tour guide as He explained the place to the accompanying guests! Swami recollected how Anna had generously extended the Madiyala home to house young children including orphans, which was initially resisted by his own mother Gowramma. But when Anna declared that he too would leave if they were asked to leave, his mother, with a large heart, obliged and served all as her own children. Swami finally went upstairs to His room, which was furnished and kept unused since 1979. The time had finally come now, to welcome the Lord to His room for the first time!
Swami immediately pointed out that there used to be a hand-operated traditional fan swinging from the roof, that helped ventilate the room. Gowramma, the great mother used to swing this fan by pulling the string and offer this as a service to Swami, while singing bhajans . Though all had forgotten about it, Swami remembered, to the utter surprise of all the elderly trustees gathered! Swami said, “No service to me, goes unnoticed by me!”
Swami then gathered the students from the Sri Sathya Sai Centre for Human Excellence and spoke to them at length about the life of Anna, and urged them to become like him. He told them to do Swami’s work, and Swami will do their work by looking after all their responsibilities. It was an exclusive session granted to these fortunate boys, while all others waited outside.
After this brief talk, Swami came down and walked around the corridors, watching the displayed photos with much intent. He finally took Arathi and blessed the Prasadam to be distributed. Amidst so many people, Swami did not fail to recognise the old caretaker of the house and acknowledged his services.
Thereafter, Swami proceeded to the site of the new residential PU college for girls in Alike, Prashanthi Nikethanam, for Bhoomi Puja, at the Sathya Sai Sharda Vihar campus for women. As His car drove through the muddy road, He noticed the girls wearing sarees, standing reverentially with folded hands, on either side. Swami was very happy to see that our tradition and culture was being imparted to the girl students.
Swami quickly proceeded to the site and performed the Bhoomi Puja. He took the effort to explain to all the guests, details of the architectural drawing. It has been designed thoughtfully to include the sloping terrain and the traditional roof features from Mangalore; at the same time scientifically drafted for air exchanges and ample natural light. The campus construction will commence soon and will be ready within a year. A makeshift arrangement will serve the students, when the college will begin the term in June. Swami recalled that it was the dream of late Sri Madiyala Narayan Bhat to have a girls college.
The next event was the Bhoomi Puja for a 2,500 seater auditorium complex in Sathya Sai Vihar, which is the need-of-the-hour to allow all the students to come together and pray in unison. This will surely improve the sense of unity as a single family, Swami said. After all, a family that prays together, stays together! The Bhoomi Puja concluded, but the Lord was not yet done with His tasks yet!
Swami called for a trust meeting at Swami Nivas, and guided the elders on the next steps in completing the tasks at hand, elucidating the stipulated time frame too. He assured them of His constant guidance, grace and support at every step. Swami’s words reinvigorated and energised their souls!
Grama Seva took place at the same time, where all the residents of Alike village were given Prasadam and clothes. After lunch, Swami retired briefly, before meeting everyone again at 5pm.
After a few personal interviews, He proceeded to the grounds where a public function was organized. A makeshift arrangement was temporarily erected to conduct the event. Swami ascended the dias amidst bhajans along with the guests. After Vedic invocation, a brief welcome talk was delivered by Sri U Gangadhar Bhat. He recollected the hard days of labour when the institutions were being set-up against several hurdles and setbacks. But Anna’s nature of selflessness was deeply engraved in all. Discomfort, poor facilities and poverty did not deter them to work in unison to make it all happen! It is Anna’s great sense of sacrifice that has lead to these institutions, which now stand as a testimony of selfless seva, living up to its motto, “ATMA KALYAN AND LOKA KALYAN.”
Thereafter, prizes were given away to students who won in elocution, and various cultural competitions by Sri B N Narasimha Murthy.
Swami blessed Sri B N Narasimha Murthy to talk next who mentioned that Anna was a “Kaarana Janma”, a person born for a particular purpose. Within a short life span of 49 years he achieved what he had come for,and shed his mortal coil thereafter. All of a sudden, there was a downpour which the temporary shamiyana could not withhold. It was as though nature was shedding tears of bliss for this rarest of blessings! The compassionate Lord who is extremely sensitive to the comfort of people, adjourned the proceedings and instructed all to return to their hostels and homes.
However, after going back to His residence Swami called the trustees, and directed them to immediately start the auditorium project and make it functional before His visit again in June. While most of us see a problem, sympathise and leave it at that, Swami acts and that’s what make Him what He is!
The day ended after this brief session in the mandir, and Bhagawan retired for the day.