Makara Sankranti marks the first day of the longer days – and what blessings it is to celebrate the day with the Lord Himself! The festival marks the end of the Winter Solstice and is dedicated to the Sun God.
Swami, welcomed by the Veda chanting group arrived in the Premamrutham Hall to everybody’s delight and cheers, wearing a bright orange color – a symbol of the Sun God’s, quite appropriate to begin the new season with vigour and zeal.
The morning programme started with an introduction to the festival, which coincides with other festivals throughout India, celebrated with different names in different states of the country including Lohri, Pongal, Bihu, and Bhogi, but marking the same event, of days becoming longer because the sun was entering the Capricorn sign. This festival is observed according to the Solar Calendar while most other festivals in India are observed according to the Lunar Calendar. This day is particularly significant because the atmosphere is infused with Divine Consciousness and a seeker can greatly benefit from his/her Sadhana.
The proceedings were underway with students from the Pre-University College, Muddenahalli Campus chanting the Sai Chamakam for the very first time. After the chanting, Swami blessed each of the boys.
In the morning, Swami had inaugurated three new projects and devotees were given an account of the events along with the pictures. Swami had inaugurated ‘Sai Shruti’, a residential block for the devotees with the Bhoomi Puja for the construction, inauguration of the new Public Relation cum Human Resources and Media Centre and the inauguration of the outpatient department of the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Medical Centre at the Sai Sarla Memorial Hospital. Swami mentioned that today – January 14, was the Punyatithi of Smt Late Sarla Shah, wife of Sri Indulal Shah.
This was followed by the book launch of ‘Antar Darshana’, which is the Kannada translation of ‘Inner View’ by Sri Madhusudan Naidu. The translators Sri Kabir Adkastala and Sri Kana Sundar Bhat, Alumni of Alike Campus, offered the book to Swami for His blessings. Sister Vijaya Laxmi from the Sri Sathya Sai Premamrutha Prakashna also offered her salutations.
The first speaker of the morning was Dr Satish Babu, who works in the Endocrinology department of Bangalore Medical College, and is an alumnus of the Muddenahalli campus. Swami directed him to speak about how he became a doctor before talking about the Divine Mother & Child program and the Sai Sarla Memorial Hospital. He began by going back to his childhood when Swami blessed him by rubbing his head for almost 30 seconds and remarking that ‘He is my doctor’. Dr Satish mentioned that he was a mediocre student till then but his marks and academic performance improved tremendously and he got the 20th rank in the post-graduation entrance test in the Karnataka state. He mentioned how Swami sent him to London to complete his training and then asked him to move back to India.
About the Divine Mother & Child program, Dr Satish Babu mentioned that with the blessings of the Swami, the program has been received well by the participating doctors and even the district administration officials who are coming forward to lend all types of help needed. He went in detail about the state of healthcare in the area and how Swami has asked them to find ways to improve the nourishment of the women, without medicines—Swami has directed the doctors to prevent diseases instead of simply treating the patients. He mentioned that with the opening of Sai Sarla Memorial Hospital, Swami has fulfilled His promise to the devotees. In this hospital, four departments would become operational soon which include General Medicine, Paediatrics, Dentistry, and Ultrasound and Diagnostic Laboratory. He concluded his talk with a prayer to Swami for His guidance and directions.
This was followed by a talk by Sri B N Narasimha Murthy, Chief Mentor of Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Group of Institutions. He elaborated on who is a true devotee and when asked, Lord Krishna answers that a person who keeps God as his/her prime goal and follows God’s instructions is a dearest devotee. He mentioned many small incidents of interactions between Swami and Sri Indulal Shah’s family, and how he has been a chosen instrument who is always ready to serve Swami even though he is 97 years old now. He concluded his talk with a prayer to Swami to bless the devotees with His discourse.
Swami asked Sri Indulal Shah to come on stage and sit beside Him. In His discourse, Swami mentioned how Dharma and Keerti are the two everlasting qualities in this otherwise ephemeral world. He profusely praised the couple and how they were totally dedicated to Him and always ready to serve Him. Swami declared that their house in Mumbai, ‘Sai Darshan’ would be used to build the hospital in Mumbai which Sri Indulal Shah would inaugurate next year. Swami extolled the virtues of the whole family and advised the students of following their example and lead exemplary lives. Remarking on the festival of Makara Sankranti, Swami mentioned that everybody should be selfless like the Sun who shines on everybody irrespective of status, caste, age, etc.
Before concluding His Divine Discourse, Swami mentioned that there is a contractor who has left no stone unturned to make sure Swami’s Will prevails. Swami called Sri Purushottam, the contractor, on stage and mentioned that he will complete the construction of the hospital before November and blessed him with a token of love.
Blessing everybody, Swami concluded His Divine Discourse. Mangala Arati was offered to Swami and the morning program came to close.
The evening program on the auspicious day of Makara Sankranti was another great blessing for devotees to be with their Lord and have His Darshan.
Swami entered the Sri Sathya Sai Premamrutham Hall and glided past the devotees, blessing them and accepting letters and flowers. He talked with devotees accepting their prayers and guiding them with great patience.
The first rendition of the evening was from the girl students of grade six of Sri Sathya Sai Vani Niketanam, Gadag who chanted the Durga Suktam. Swami blessed every student and also posed with them for a group photograph.
Next was the launch of the book, ‘Antaranga Sai’, by V. K. Srinivasiah which chronicles his life as a devotee and his wife Lalitamma had been saved on several occasions.The last one being a resurrection after she had passed away in the hospital. Swami, during Puttaparti days, had remarked that he would be unmindful of whether anybody joins them for the Nagara Sankeertan or not in Hubli and they would sing any Bhajans even in alone. He remarked that He could hear his loud singing in Puttaparti.
Their son, Brother Vijay Sai, an alumnus of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning and a faculty member, was blessed to speak next. He said Makara Sankranti is associated with the farmer being happy seeing his harvest and similarly how Swami feels happy about His students during the Annual Sports Meet His harvest. He went on to relate how our actions, done for the service of others, help us in dire times and how God showers His special grace.
The next offering of the evening was a musical rendition of Saint Tyagaraja’s Kritis by the Music Group of the Muddenahalli campus in which four students performed four Kritis accompanied by Mridangam, Violin, and Tanpura. The group enthralled everybody with a meticulous performance.
The next speaker of the evening was Brother Bharat Kumar, who is an alumnus of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning and stayed there till 2011 before joining the corporate world and finally came back to serve in Swami’s mission in the finance department. He is also appointed as a financial consultant in the committee for the Sai Sarla Memorial Hospital. He spoke at length how at first his mother was guided from Lord Tirupati to Shirdi Sai Baba and how in 2003, he was guided to Swami in Puttaparti. He was about to leave to the US for higher studies but through His inimitable way, Swami brought him to His fold and guided him through his life. Then he went on relate how through a dream to his wife, Swami guided them to Muddenahalli and provided them with everything. His talk was full of heartfelt passion and he exhorted the students to keep Sai as their ultimate goal, though the glitter of the world is full of powerful attractions. He emphasized his talk with a story when Swami said that surrender is the true mark of a devotee and through Namasmarna a devotee can achieve complete surrender.
Thereafter, the evening program came to close with Mangala Arati to Bhagawan.
On His way back, Swami Himself announced on the microphone that students and everybody should be confident about their performance the next day, on the Annual Sports Meet and that He blesses them.