Theme – Ideals from the Ramayana for modern times
If the morning session took the audience on a journey back in time to relive the momentous moments of the great epic Ramayana, the afternoon session was designed to put the experience and learning to test!
In keeping with the day’s theme, a quiz on the timeless epic of Ramayana was conducted. Delegates, students, devotees and guests participated in the quiz with much gusto and enthusiasm. Every correct answer was rewarded with a chocolate, drawing out the child in everyone – young and old alike! The quiz master brought out many interesting and lesser known facts of the Ramayana to light, making the entire session educative, entertaining and elevating for all.
Evening session begins
Following a short break for snacks, the delegates reassembled in the hall, awaiting Bhagawan’s arrival. The ceremonial Poornakumbam and Vedam welcomed Bhagawan as He arrived at the auditorium at 5 PM. Once Bhagawan and other dignitaries had ascended the dais, the evening’s proceedings commenced with invocation by the students of the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Pre-University College, Alike Campus. All the dignitaries and guests on stage were then formally introduced and welcomed with floral bouquets.
Brief summaries of the morning’s proceedings were then presented by brother Anirudh, an alumnus of the Sri Sathya Institute of Higher Learning, Brindavan Campus, and Sister Reshma Kunder, a current student at the Sri Sathya Sai Prashanthi Niketanam, Chikkaballapur Campus.
Dr K.P. Sai Leela was the first speaker for the evening. She was both a student and staff at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Anantapur Campus. On Bhagawan’s command, she is now serving as the Chairperson of all the girls’ campuses and is also Director, Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Women’s Education Trust. She spoke eloquently about the pivotal role played by women in Ramayana. Sita, Kausalya, Sumitra, Shabari and Mandodari represent the ideal values that should be emulated, she said. In contrast, Kaikeyi, Manthara and Shurpanaka remind us to rid ourselves of vices such as selfishness and hatred, she added. She concluded by praying to Bhagawan to clarify a doubt that had been troubling her regarding Rama’s decision to re- exile Sita, that too when she was a mother-to–be. Bhagawan immediately agreed to address her doubt.
The next speaker for the evening was Professor J Shashidhara Prasad, an eminent physicist and an ardent devotee of Bhagawan. He was also former Vice-Chancellor at both the Mysore University and the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. Though deeply rooted in both science and spiritualty, he said it was only Bhagawan who could speak about the actual facts in Ramayana and draw insights from it that are still relevant in today’s times. “After all it is His own story from a different era.” Quoting various incidents and drawing lessons from the epic, he explained how God was the director, script writer and the actor in this cosmic play, enacting His own role with perfect precision. The avatar merely demonstrated to the world the way lead a life on the morals of truth and right conduct, he added.
Bhagawan then blessed the congregation with His divine message. Explaining the true meaning of dharma, He said that true dharma is mama dharma, which is nothing but the atma dharma. Dharma is that which bears everything, and is the fundamental basis of this world, He said. Rama did not go to the forest in order to obey His father. He went to the forest in order to obey the command of dharma.
The life of Rama revolved around practising and adhering to the word of dharma. When He was in the life of exile in the forest, He adhered to the dharma of a husband. At that time, he wasn’t the king. When He returned to Ayodhya and became the king of Ayodhya, He had to practise the dharma of a king. Every human being has three types of dharma to practise – the individual dharma, family dharma and societal dharma. As an individual you may be a son or a father or a brother or a sister or a mother or a daughter but all this is individual dharma. But when you look at the family dharma, you are a member of the family, you can sacrifice individual dharma for family dharma. But when you are standing up for societal dharma, in order to achieve the welfare of society, you can sacrifice family dharma.
Rama, being the king of the country, had to protect the societal dharma – His duty to the nation; therefore, He sacrificed the family dharma in order to uphold the national or societal dharma.
Bhagawan then went on to answer a couple of questions from the delegates.
The cultural programme for the evening was a play titled, Bhakta Hanuman. Scripted on the life of Sri Rama Bhakta Hanuman, play was enacted by the students of the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva High School and the Sri Sathya Sai Centre for Human Excellence, Muddenahalli.
The presentation began with Bharatanatyam recital by two dancers. The opening scene began with little Hanuman requesting Lord Surya to accept him as his disciple. It then went on to showcase the life-altering first meet of Hanuman with Lord Rama along with Lakshmana during their search for Sita, Hanuman’s jump to Lanka, consoling Mother Sita in the Ashoka Vana, transportation of the Sanjeevani Paravata to revive Lakshmana and finally Rama revealing to everybody as to why Hanuman was indeed His greatest devotee. Not finding Rama in the pearl necklace gifted to him by Mother Seetha, he simply flings it away as a worthless object. Rama alone is the sole objective in Hanuman’s life and in the climax scene, Rama finally embraces Hanuman, bringing the “You and I are One” teaching to the fore.
The entire skit was rendered in Sanskrit and put to display the pure talent of the student. It was a treat to the senses, with soulful music, lively dance and colourful backdrops and perfectly-tailored costumes. The play was guided and directed by the Bhagawan Himself.
Bhagawan then blessed all the participants of the play with tokens of love and group photographs.
The evening ended with the offering of Aarthi to Bhagawan and prasadam distribution to everyone.