In 1946, a small group of devotees from Bangalore conducted the first ever 24-hour Bhajan in the city of Bangalore. This was repeated every year for the next 28 years. Bhagawan attended and participated and where every year, for what came to be called as Akhanda Bhajans. In 1974, speaking in the Lalbagh Golden Jubilee Hall, Bangalore, after the 25th Akhanda Bhajan that He attended, Bhagawan directed that this auspicious Bhajan event, should become a global event. He told the blessed devotees who were fortunate to start this tradition, “The lamp that you have lit and fostered, will now spread over the whole world!”
Bhagawan Baba has often reminded all about the benefits of congregational singing.
“Samyak-keerthanam Sankeerthanam” (Congregational singing of Bhajans is the best of Bhajans). There is a big difference between Keerthanam and Sankeerthanam. Keerthanam is an individual affair. It is singing by an individual for the fulfillment of his prayers. Sankeerthanam aims at the well-being of the whole universe. This is also described as Saamaajika Bhajans (community singing).
Sankeerthana aims at demonstrating unity in diversity. When all the participants combine to sing in unison with one voice, it is described as Sankeerthana.
What then is the essence of Sankeerthana? Its essential purpose is to earn the love of God. Combining one’s voice, tune, feeling and rhythm to the appropriate beat of the song, the devotee should immerse himself in the singing. Harmonising the feeling with devotion and Love, the sacred words of the song should be an outpouring of love towards God. That alone is devotional singing!”
The Global Akhanda Bhajans at Muddenahalli commenced at sharp 6 p.m on the evening of November 10 2018, with Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba lighting the Akhanda Jyothi, the ceremonial lamp and flagging off the 24 hours non-stop Bhajan saga. It started with the Ganesha Bhajan – Jaya Jaya Gajanana Gananatha and after spending nearly 30 minutes listening to the Bhajans, Bhagawan proceeded to give Darshan to the devotees at Premamrutham. Having spent nearly 90 minutes at the auditorium, He retired for the evening. The Bhajans continued throughout the night with enthusiastic participation by groups of devotees from all over the world including students, devotees, volunteers, alumni and Bal-Vikas children.
November 11, 2018
The next morning, as everyone sat immersed in singing the glory of the Lord, Bhagawan arrived at around 11 a.m to the delight of all. In the evening, He arrived at the Sri Sathya Sai Premamrutham Auditorium around 5.15 p.m and went around the hall blessing all the devotees and students. Once seated on the throne, a medley of Bhajans were offered, filling everyone with devotional fervour and marking the conclusion of the Akhanda Bhajans. The entire hall was engulfed in Divine vibrations that emanated from nonstop prayers all through 24-hours.
At the stroke of 6 p.m., the Bhajans concluded. Thereafter, a presentation on Bhagawan’s visit to the upcoming Hospital – Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Centre for Child Heart Care and Training in Pediatric Cardiac Skills in Navi Mumbai on November 9 and 10 was presented by Ms Bhuvana Santhanam. She started by saying that while the whole of India were busy celebrating Diwali and enjoying the festival, a few hundred people in Navi Mumbai were dedicatedly working towards the completion of the Hospital, nonstop! She said that during the visit, Bhagawan spoke of the Bhakti of the vanaras, bears and squirrels who could achieve so much, and recapitulated the wonderful visit where Bhagawan motivated the entire team working tirelessly for the completion of the hospital project. She went on describe how Swami had compared the two contractor-brothers Sri Anil and Sri Sagar Muthyala as Angada and Hanuman, working day and night with a huge vanara sena (all the labour force) with them to ensure completion. She repeated Swami’s words who had said, “This is Sai Ramayana being written and His-Story in the making!”
This was followed by a speech by Sri B N Narasimha Murthy who recalled that when the Super Specialty Hospital was being built at Prasanthi Nilayam, workers from Tamil Nadu went home for Deepavali, a week before completion. Then, Bhagawan mobilised 1000 students who worked tirelessly to assist in the completion of that extraordinary project. They worked for ten days, inside and outside the Hospital.
Speaking about the Akhandaa Bhajans, Sri Narasimha Murthy recalled an incident in the year 1980 at Brindavan when Bhagawan appeared to Dr Rajeshwari (Mother of Sri C Sreenivas) at her simple cottage, during Akhanda Bhajans and blessed her with Padamamaskar! This was when Bhagawan was very much at Puttaparthi, He manifested in Brindavan as she was repeating His name with much devotion and adoration. Sri Narasimha Murthy recalled how Dr Rajeswari gave up a lucrative practice to serve Bhagawan at the General hospital at Brindavan, which she helped set up.
Bhagawan started his Divine Discourse stating that God is all forms and He is the Embodiment of truth, awareness and bliss. He emphasised that the name of Rama is a Mantra to cross the ocean of worldly existance. “A robber who could not chant the name of Rama properly, rose to be a saint by chanting His name. Once, Lord Shiva explained to Mother Parvathi, ‘The name of Lord Rama is extremely potent. Chanting His name once is equal to chanting a thousand other names. Such is its power and potency.” Bhagawan explained with a small story illustrating the truth that not everyone can chant His name unless some penance, austerity or good deeds are performed!
Once upon a time there was a thief who stole from people to sustain himself. As he was sharp, alert and clever, he never got caught. There ensured a debate between Lord Shiva and Mother Parvathi as to who is remembered on earth – Shiva or Parvathi. The thief was about to break into a house to steal. Shiva wanted to see whose name the thief was going to chant as he was going to be caught. If he chanted ‘Appa’ He would go to his rescue and if he chanted ‘Amma’, Parvathi would save him. However, the thief shouted ‘Ayyo’, for he was getting a good beating for his deeds. Shiva-Parvathi looked at each other and thus ended the debate.
Bhagawan says that similar is the situation of man who does not chant the name of the Lord even in times of difficulty.
“When you say Sai, He says Oyi, when you say Baba, He is next to you waiting to rescue you! In Kannada, Baba means come-come. Immediately He comes. Because the name of the Lord isn’t chanted, we end up like the thief getting a beating from life”, said Bhagawan. He reminded everyone that in the human body Namasmarana goes on endlessly. “What is this Namasmarana? It is Soham–Soham. When we inhale it is ‘So’ and when we exhale ‘Ham’. This we do 21,600 times a day remembering our Divinity. Even during the sleep state this goes on. It is easy when we pay attention to it. If we observe this, in times of difficulty the name of the Lord comes to us naturally.”
Bhagawan repeated the time-tested Mantra: Start early, Drive slowly, Reach safely
If one starts late, he has to drive fast, there could be accidents. Chanting the name of the Lord can be done at any time, every day. There is no other way in the Kali Yuga. Therefore, chant the name continuously (Akanda) to enrich your life. The Nama (word) is the Nava (boat) across the ocean of Samsara. Where there is Nama (Name), there is Roopa (Form) as well.
He said that the Mumbai devotees and workers were working very hard to complete the hospital. “Workers take little rest and come back to work again in the next shift, although their working shift has ended. This is because they know the intent behind the construction of the hospital. The hospital will happen in a fantastic way. This is a miracle of this age taking shape due to Bhagawan’s Sankalpa. People haven’t seen Bhagawan there, but the work goes on just like the people who are devoted to Rama, Krishna and Jesus. The glory grew more and more with devotees who came after these divine personages left their body.”
He mentioned that the next hospital would-be built-in Kolkata and after that, another at the Gujarat-Rajasthan border. He emphasised that once a child’s life is saved, that family is saved. Once a family is saved, the nation is saved. He exhorted the students to grow into responsible individuals and take care of the different institutions being set up. But first everyone must develop a pure heart, filled with chanting the name of God during these tender years.
After Mangala Arati, Prasadam was distributed bringing the programme to a close.