The festival of Makara Sankranti is a festival of celestial significance as the sun begins its journey northwards and enters the sign of Makara. Celebrated as a time of harvest for famers, Makara Sankranti is an opportunity to show gratitude to the Lord for all He has bestowed and to also offer all that He has given, back to Him.
At Sathya Sai Grama, this festival is a double celebration as the day also marks the anniversary of the Sri Sathya Sai Sarla Memorial Hospital, the first phase of which was inaugurated in the year 2018. This year, the holy festival of Sankranti was celebrated in the morning, while the evening’s programme was the celebration of the second-year anniversary of the Sri Sathya Sai Sarla Memorial Hospital, culminating with Tyagaraja Aradhana, in homage to the great saint Tyagaraja.
The morning’s proceedings began as Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai entered Premamrutham while Bhajans were in progress. After granting Darshan to everyone and showering His love and blessings on all the students, staff and devotees who had gathered, Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai ascended the dais and took His seat on the throne. The celebrations then began with the invocatory Vedic chanting of the Atma Suktam by the eighth and ninth Standard students of the Sri Sathya Sai Sathya Niketanam campus, Hassan district. Thereafter, a short video beautifully recapitulating the travels, visits and projects undertaken by Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai in the year 2019, was played.
This was followed by a wonderful rendition of Sathya Sai Krithis by Dr Hiramalini Seshadri along with a group of 17 alumnae, alumni, staff-members and devotees. Singing in praise of Lord Ganesha, Lord Vitthala and Swami, Dr Hiramalini also offered a beautiful composition on the Mahavakyas (great sayings) from the Upanishads.
Thereafter, Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai graciously released the ninth volume of the series, ‘Love Beyond Boundaries’ by Sister Bhuvana Santhanam, chronicling the Divine visits to various countries between June and December 2019.
This was followed with an address by Sri B N Narasimha Murthy, who spoke about the significance of the Makara Sankranti festival and the genesis of the Annual Sports and Cultural Meet. He reminded everyone that the Sankranti festival is an opportunity to make a change happen within and to move from being self-centred to God-centred.
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai then granted His Divine message and explained the traditions of Makara Sankranti. He spoke about the importance of giving up one’s old habits and ways in order to make way for all that is new and auspicious on Sankranti. Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai also expressed His great joy in hearing the ancient truths being chanted by the young students of the Hassan campus and also by Dr Hiramalini through her Krithis. He said that with atheism being a fashionable choice in today’s world, it is a source of great comfort and joy to see the ancient wisdom being propagated and remembered by such young children.
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai then spoke about the ‘Sports and Cultural Meet’ and conveyed His immense joy at seeing the students and staff conducting their practices with much Shraddha.
Showering abundant blessings on everyone, Sri Madhusudan Sai concluded His message.
The Bhajan, ‘Hari Bhajana Bina Sukha Shanti Nahi’ was then sung, following which Mangala Arati was offered. Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai then lovingly blessed Dr Hiramalini and her team, distributing gifts to all of them. He then proceeded back to His residence as the morning session concluded.
Late Smt Sarla Shah, or Sarla Ma as she was fondly known, was a pioneer of several Seva activities initiated by Bhagawan during His physical sojourn and it was on this auspicious day of Makara Sankranti in 2015, that this great devotee of the Lord, merged back into the feet of Her beloved Master. In her honour and loving memory, Bhagawan decided to build a general hospital at Muddenahalli and named it as the ‘Sri Sathya Sai Sarla Memorial Hospital’. As outpatient services commenced in January 2018, the hospital today celebrates its second-year anniversary of providing quality medical care to the rural poor and needy, as well as the students of the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva instituions, completely free of cost.
The evening began as Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai was welcomed into Premamrutham with a procession with Vedic chants by the girl students. After granting Darshan to everyone, Sri Madhusudan Sai took the throne on the dais and the proceedings began with an invocatory chanting of the Shivopasana Mantra by the lady staff of the Sri Sathya Sai Sarla Memorial Hospital. The whole hall reverberated with the sacred sound as all the students of the twenty-three campuses enthusiastically joined in.
Thereafter, Dr K Ramesh Rao, who as per Bhagawan’s command is currently leading the hospital in an administrative capacity, presented a summary of all the medical activities and services offered at the hospital over the last one year. Dr Rao spoke about the various departments at the hospital, such as: General Medicine; Paediatrics; Obstetrics and Gynaecology; Ear, Nose and Throat; Dentistry; Physiotherapy and Diabetic Hypertension. He also mentioned that the hospital is also visited by a Neurologist, a Cardiologist, an Orthopedician and a Podiatrist. Dr Rao briefly covered the numerous services provided by the hospital, such as the ‘Divine Mother and Child Programme’, ‘Sai Wheels’ and ‘Sai Aarogya’ programme, among many more.
A short video was played, outlining the vision and mission of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and the work being conducted by the Sri Sathya Sai Sarla Memorial Hospital in loving memory of the two pious souls, Mother Easwaramma and Sarla Ma. Dr Rao expressed gratitude and love to Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai on behalf of all the doctors and staff of the hospital for the wonderful opportunity given to serve the poor and downtrodden.
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai blessed each and every staff member of the hospital and, after taking group pictures with all of them, conveyed His blessings to all those associated with the noble project. He urged all the departments to work together as one single body, as the hospital would keep expanding to include many more facilities and also serve as a teaching institution for studies in general surgery.
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai then showered His blessings on all the staff once again, after which He proceeded for a short break as the stage was prepared for a musical offering.
‘Tyagaraja Aradhana’ is an annual celebration in memory of the renowned composer, Saint Tyagaraja. A musical genius, his contribution to Carnatic music is unparalleled. He is said to have written and composed more than 24,000 compositions and while one may appreciate the technical soundness in his work, it is the underlying devotion to Lord Rama that stands out and evokes devotion in the listener.
As Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai was seated on the throne facing the dais, the students and staff of the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Institutions presented a bouquet of compositions by Saint Tyagaraja, including one of his famous Pancharatna Kritis. The melodious offering was interspersed with a narration of snapshots from the life of Saint Tyagaraja and accompanied by wonderful illustrations depicting various scenes in the life of the great Saint.
After their soulful rendition, Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai showered all the participants with gifts and blessed them with a group photograph. Thereafter, Mangala Arati was offered and Prasadam was distributed to everyone, bringing a magnificent day of celebration to an end.