One knows not the passage of time when one is immersed in infinite happiness, and it was already the eighth day (Ashtami) of Navaratri celebrations at Sathya Sai Grama, Muddenahalli. The days had flown by so beautifully that none realised that they had already reached the last phase of the Dussehra celebrations dedicated to Goddess Saraswati.
Ashtami is for the glorious Chamundi form of Navadurga. It was on this day that the mother slayed the demons Mahishasura, Chanda, Munda, Raktabija who are nothing but metaphorical depictions of the inner evils that are enemies, that one’s needs to slay to attain spiritual progress. It was a beautiful welcome for Bhagawan by all the women who were clad in the traditional in white and red sarees from West Bengal, gifted by Bhagawan Himself.
It was the day of Lakshmi Narayan Homa, the Godly couple who show the way, life must be led. After the Puja to the Goddess, Purnahuti was done after seeking blessings of Bhagawan. Lord Narayana resides in the heart of Goddess Lakshmi and the Goddess resides in the heart of Lord Narayana. If Artha (wealth) is Lakshmi, then the means to earn is by Dharma, which is the very manifestation of Lord Vishnu. If Kaama (desire) is Lakshmi then one must desire for Moksha (liberation), which is Narayana. If Deha (body) is Lakshmi, then Atma is Narayana. If Vidya (knowledge) is Lakshmi, then Buddhi (intellect) is Narayana. If disciple is Lakshmi, then the teacher is Lord Narayana Himself. Just like how Lakshmi Devi resides in Narayana’s heart and vice versa, as Jeevatmas, one must keep the Paramatman (God) in the heart, so that like Lakshmi Devi, man too can reside in the heart of the Paramatma. This is what is Moksha or liberation. Through this Homa, one offers their hearts to Bhagawan just like how Goddess Lakshmi had offered Her heart to the Lord. Every day, the Pundits worked hard to draw the beautiful spectacular Mandalas, prepare for the Homas and tirelessly worked for the benefit of the world. Bhagawan has always extolled the Vedas and this time too offered tokens of His love to the dedicated Pundits who had performed the Homas.
The next in sequence was the celebration from West Bengal, that had been brought down South, so that every devotee could benefit therefrom. Young girls and devotees from Kolkata put up a small skit along with dance explaining how the Creator (Purusha) cannot function without the creation (Prakriti). Lord Shiva is Shava (lifeless) without His consort Maa Parvati. It is always the confluence of the two that brings about the melody in creation, the balance in the sustenance and the final closure through dance of destruction. Thus, the Gods impart this knowledge to man to move from duality to non-duality and realise the oneness in the diversity of His creation. The Homa was beautifully explained through the drama and the Tridevi dance.
As it was the Ashtami (eighth) day and as per the customs in West Bengal, the Shodashi Puja was done where young girls were worshipped as they are the unsullied pure versions of the Goddess Herself. This was followed by the Durga Arati and after blessing the devotees from Bengal, Bhagawan proceeded to the premises of the Rudra Yajna. The Pundits performed Archana and Yajna as per the guidelines given by Bhagawan and concluded it with a song dedicated to the son of the divine couple Uma Shankar – Lord Karthikeya.
Mangala Arati was offered and Bhagawan, the Maha Purusha Himself, the Lord of the Lords blessed every devotee. To this Yoga Purusha, who also plays the role of a divine beloved mother to one and all, the devotees prostrated with all their reverence.
The auspicious Durga Ashtami evening session saw the magnificent Premamrutam Hall at Sri Sathya Sai Grama at Muddenahalli filled to the brim with devotees from across the globe and staff and students from various campuses. They were greeted to a pleasant scent of the earth, rainfall, after the skies had opened up in the afternoon right after the Yajna. The heavy downpour did not deter the devotees from reaching the Premamrutam Hall on time to be with Beloved Bhagawan. After the regular incantations of Sri Rudram and Samasta Lokah for World Peace, He arrived from back-stage and was welcomed amidst Vedic Chants, Purna Kumbham and Bhajans.
The compere presented a brief introduction of the morning events. The staff members of the Bijapur Campus rendered the Durga Suktam flawlessly. The popularity of this Vedic Chant was evident from the fact that the entire student community chanted along as one voice with them charging the entire atmosphere with the power and positivity of Ma Durga. Following the Bijapur Campus Staff, the Priests from the Veda Prayana Group chanted verses from the last of the four Vedic branches called Atharvana Vedas. This is the fifth and last day of Vedic chanting. The last four days saw chanters renditions from Rig, Shukla Yajur, Krishna Yajur and Sama Vedas.
The first speaker for this evening is Smt Kanika Parameshwar the wife of the deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka – Sri G Parameshwar. Smt Kanika is a person of many talents – a Senior academician with a Post Graduate in English Literature, an accomplished Bharat Natyam Dancer and a Senior National Cadet. An ardent devotee of Bhagawan Baba for many decades, she spoke from the heart and identified herself as a child of Bhagawan like all others. She thanked Him for bringing her to Muddenahalli and praised Bhagawan’s pioneer initiative – The Annapoorna Breakfast Programme for rural Children. She extended her best wishes for the Annapoorna Team to hit the mark of 500,000 children by March next year. She also pointed about that the food is the most fundamental starting point for a person to go closer to God and thereby grow spiritually.
The next speaker was Swami Akhileshwarananda Giri – Chairman of the Go-Samrakshna Trust from Madhya Pradesh. He was also a Senior functionary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and has now been elevated the rank of a Cabinet Minister in Madhya Praesh. His stirring speech emphasised the great good blessing conferred upon each and every human being of being born on earth, more so in Bharat. He spoke about the Spirituality that is all pervasive in the campus here at Muddenahalli and Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s subtle presence is spreading high positive vibrations. He spoke about protecting the native cow and the importance of performing Yajnas and Yagas. He spoke about the re-establishment of the culture of Bharat. He said Bharat will be a shining beacon of spirituality in the times to come.
The third guest speaker – Sri Murlidhar Halapa – Chairman Skill development Corporation of Karnataka and Alumni of the Alike Campus, recalled with gratitude about his childhood at Alike campus and profusely thanked Bhagawan on behalf of the Government of Karnataka, for all the developmental projects undertaken by the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Trust.
Bhagawan’s divine discourse followed next. He emphasised on the oneness of all HIS creations. He beseeched all to practise love, to serve with compassion and feel the presence of divinity in each and every one. He said unless one really understands this fact, the intent and aim of all the Yajnas performed all these days will not culminate into tangible benefits. Bhagawan suggested Ahimsa – Non-Violence as a first step to begin this journey to attain divinity.
The blessed evening session on day eight closed with the Bhajan ‘Hari Bhajan Bina’, and Mangala Arati was offered to Bhagawan.