Lord Ganesha is extolled in the Vedic scriptures as the very embodiment of wisdom. As the son of Lord Shiva, who is God and Mother Parvathi, who embodies nature, Lord Ganesha is verily the principle of Atma that pervades both inside and outside (nature). Therefore, Lord Ganesha symbolises the journey from body consciousness to divine consciousness. He is also revered as the remover of obstacles.
The festival of Ganesh Chathurthi celebrated in honour of Lord Ganesha is one of the most popular festivals in India. It was no different in Muddenahalli. The entire campus of Sathya Sai Grama was abuzz with activity and celebrated the festival with much spiritual fervour.
Bhagawan does Prana Pratishta for Ganesh idol
The morning began with Bhoomi Pooja at the site for the construction of workers’ quarters in the divine presence of Bhagawan. It was an apt start to the day marked for celebrating Ganesha, who is also extolled as the remover of obstacles. Sacred vedic chants and melodious bhajans suffused a sense of peaceful reverence in the gathering. After the worship, Bhagawan addressed the gathering and later blessed all workers present. Bhagawan then proceeded to Sai Sannidhi, the residential complex and blessed a couple of devotees’ homes.
At about 11 AM, Bhagawan arrived at the Sri Sathya Sai Premamrutham to a grand welcome with the sacred Poornakumbam and Vedic chants by the students of the Sri Sathya Sai Prashanthi Niketanam Pre-University College. As Bhagawan walked inside the hall, bhajans on Lord Vinayaka were rendered by the students. Once He ascended the dais, Bhagawan inspected the 14ft idol of Ganesha and the beautiful pandal that was specially installed for the occasion. Bhagawan then went on to perform the Prana Pratishta for the idol, post which ceremonial puja was performed as per the ritualistic guidelines.
Formal Proceedings Begin
The morning’s programme had two speakers who were blessed by Bhagawan to address the gathering. The first speaker was Sri B Sathyanarayana, an alumnus of the Alike, Muddenahalli and Prashanthi Nilayam campuses. He is currently serving as the Principal of the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Pre-University College at Muddenahalli and a lecturer in Sanskrit language.
Sri Sathyanarayana, in his talk, narrated some interesting insights on Lord Ganesha. He spoke about how the moon, on seeing the enormous frame of Ganesha, had laughed and insulted Him. This irked the Lord, who then pronounced a curse that ill-fortune would befall those who happen to sight the moon on the day of Ganesh Chathurthi. Realising his folly, the moon seeks forgiveness and repents for his mistake. Moved by moon’s sincerity, Ganesha then very graciously consents to an antidote to the curse He had given. By listening to the story of how Lord Krishna retrieves the Syamantaka jewel in order to clear His name from false allegation, one could evade false blame and bad luck that would befall them if they saw the moon on Ganesh Chaturthi, he ended. The talk was simultaneously translated into Kannada by Sri Venkatesh Kamath, Warden at the Sri Sathya Sai Centre for Human Excellence, Muddenahalli.
The second speaker for the morning was Sri SM Krishna, former Chief Minister of Karnataka, former Governor of Tamil Nadu and former Union Minister for External Affairs. After a long and successful political career, he has now dedicated his life for the mission of Baba. He began by saying that this congregation was not just a Satsangha, company of the good, but Bhagavath Sangha, company of God Himself. He shared how growing up in a sacred environment of the Ramakrishna Mission with ideals of Swami Vivekananda inspired him to be a responsible citizen. Drawing parallels from his life, he then reminded the students, who had the fortune of studying in this sacred atmosphere, to use the opportunity to become responsible adults who are mindful of their duty towards the society and the country. He ended his talk by urging the students to set their ultimate goal as service to the motherland.
The morning’s proceedings concluded with the Ganesh Aarthi followed by the Mangala Aarthi to Bhagawan. Prasadam was then distributed to all.
Bhagawan arrived at around 6 P.M and was welcomed into the Sri Sathya Sai Premamrutham Hall with the ceremonial Poorna Kumbham, even as Bhajans continued to fill the air with divine vibrations. The deity of the day, Lord Ganesha’s magnificent statue was also installed on the dais.
Once Bhagawan had ascended the dais, the evening programme began with the invocation by the Pre-University students from the Muddenahalli campus, chanting the Ganesha Atharva Sheersham.
Following the invocation, two student speakers addressed the gathering. The first speaker was Kumari Chandana B Nagaraj, a second-year PU student studying in Sathya Sai Prashanthi Niketanam, Chikkaballapur Campus. She narrated her journey from an atheist to a firm believer in God, and confessed that obtaining a seat in the Sathya Sai Prashanthi Niketanam School was pure divine providence. She added that while adjusting to the spiritual environment that prevails in the Sai schools was very difficult and at first, she wanted to run away from there, she stayed on as per her parents’ wishes. Slowly but surely, she said that Bhagawan crept into her heart, touching her forever. She narrated a few incidents showing Swami’s love and concluded by praying to Swami to help everyone in their journey from Children OF Sathya Sai to Children FOR Sathya Sai, and finally to Sathya Sai.
The second speaker for the evening was Sri Bhargav Sai, a student from the Sri Sathya Sai Centre for Human Excellence. Following Swami’s command, he narrated the story of how he joined the Centre for Human Excellence. Ardent prayers, a firm conviction that he wanted to serve Swami and above all, divine grace, he explained were the reasons he could get finally get into the Centre for Human Excellence.
Sri B N Narasimha Murthy, Chief Mentor, Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Institutions addressed the gathering next. He observed that while we were all running, Swami was galloping. “That is the speed with which Swami is working.” Listing the various educational campuses that have been built and those that are yet to come up in the next few years, he reminded everyone that to be given a chance to serve Bhagawan is an opportunity that one only gets once in a millennium. He urged everyone to realise this and make the right choices so that we too can be a part of His Grand Mission and witness the glorious days that are to come. He concluded his talk, praying to Swami to grant His Vinayaka Chaturthi message.
Bhagawan then blessed the audience with His Divine Ganesh Chaturthi message.
After the Divine discourse, there was a small break after which the evening cultural programme resumed. A musical presentation by the renowned playback singer couple, Sri Kunal Ganjawalla and Smt Gayatri Ganjawalla followed next. They were accompanied by the students and staff from the Muddenahalli campus. They began by giving a small introduction about Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in the state of Maharashtra. Explaining that Ganesh Chaturthi as a festival was started by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and other freedom fighters during the British rule so that everyone could congregate in the name of religion and discuss their strategies and anti-British movements, they narrated how the festival gained in popularity over the years. They sang several Marathi folk songs, capturing the devotees’ hearts and keeping them in a devotional stupor. The musical treat reached a crescendo as the artists concluded in perfect Marathi style, singing the Ganesha Arati song Sukhkartha Dukhkartha, as the priest offered Arathi to Lord Ganapathi. After the performance, Bhagawan blessed all the artists profusely with tokens of His Love.
The evening celebrations then came to a close with the offering of Mangala Arati to Bhagawan.