It is futile to pursue perfection. Idealism is only for idlers. Righteousness is impractical while you are living in this world.
Well, all this so-called clever wisdom, often preached to discourage the spirit of goodness and Godliness among the people, stands wanting when you look at the life and conduct of Lord Rama—the God incarnate who showed how to uphold what is right and how to perform one’s duty with an unflinching and unwavering faith. He showed perfection in the pursuit of idealism and upheld righteousness at the cost of personal comfort. One simple dictum underlined everything that He did—sacrificing one’s comforts and joys for others. This way, He portrayed how to be an ideal son, a step-son, a brother, a husband, a ruler, and most importantly a human being. He treated everybody with respect and acknowledged the smallest act of goodness and selflessness. He was the best of the leaders but He knew how to work in a team. He was the most powerful but accepted the help of even the tiniest of creatures and showed his gratefulness. He was the Overlord of the universe yet sought the blessings of saints and elders. His life, truly, was His message!
And what a joy it is to celebrate the birthday of such a phenomenon with our dear Sai—the same God incarnate in a different form carrying the same message of love and sacrifice and giving Himself fully for the service of mankind! Such a joyous occasion calls for celebrations and Muddenahalli was, obviously, abuzz with excitement.
The evening programme started with Swami entering the Sri Sathya Sai Premamrutham Hall from the stage-side. Shining brightly like the ‘Sun of Truth’, He interacted with the team members of Annapoorna Project before quickly settling on the stage and signalling the programme to start.
The programme started with the chants of Bhagya Suktam by the students of the Grade 8 of Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva High School. Swami blessed each of the boys with Prasadam.
The first feature of the evening was the launch of two books. The first one was ‘Prema Bandham—A Bond of Divine Love’ by Smt Uma Nayak and Sri Satish Nayak. The blessed couple had the privilege of living with Swami in both Prasanthi Nilayam and Brindavan campuses. In 2015, Swami called them to Muddenahalli. The book captures their journey with Swami.
The next book was ‘Rama Charitam—A Study of Ramayana for Students’ by Sri Ravichandra Natarajan and illustrated by Anand Sai Shivalingam. Sri Natarajan came to Prasanthi Nilayam campus in 1984 but Swami sent him to Russia where he completed his Bachelor and Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. After serving in the corporate world, he was called to Muddenahalli and now teaches in the Center for Human Excellence.
The first speaker of the evening was Sri B N Narasimha Murthy, who in his short talk expounded the characteristics of the Valmiki Ramayana and how blessed the Sage was because he was a contemporary of Lord Rama himself and could know the happenings of the world and also the inner feelings of the Lord. He ended his speech by recounting an incident where Swami pointed out the inner-being of Lord Rama as “Bliss combined with Compassion”.
Swami blessed the devotees with His discourse and related the story of dacoit Ratnakara who became a saint Sage Valmiki and was the first among the poets, due to Divine grace. Swami extolled the virtues of Rama Nama, and how everybody should recite this name. He ended his discourse poetically by saying that ‘This Nama is the Nava (boat), which will carry you across the ocean of delusion’.
Swami blessed the Prasadam to be distributed and asked the Bhajan Group to sing before retiring backstage for a brief period.
After few minutes, Swami entered the Hall and took a full round among the devotees, interacting with them, listening to and answering their prayers, accepting letters and blessing them.
The cultural program consisted of two offerings by the students. The first one was a musical and instrumental offering of ‘Rama Katha’ by two students of Grade 8 of Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Kendra (CBSE School) who performed four songs. Brother Pranav Sai Ivaturi and Brother Abhay Sai K, dressed in traditional costumes, performed the story of Lord Rama accompanied on various instruments by seven artists.
The little bards totally enjoyed their performance and looked verily like Lava and Kusha performing before Sai Rama. They regaled the audience with their rendition, handling the intricacies of the songs like professionals and appeared lost in the sweetness of the Name that they were singing.
Swami blessed the duo profusely and posed for photographs with the whole group.
The last performance of the evening was a dance presentation also titled ‘Rama Katha’ choreographed by Dr Roshini Pillay Kesavan. Fourteen girls from the Sri Sathya Sai Prashantiniketanam and Center for Human Excellence, Nallakadirenahalli Campus, and 12 boys from the Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Kendra and Center for Human Excellence, Muddenahalli campus participated in the event. Swami had named the group ‘Nritya-Ranjini’ and they performed the ballet in the classical dance form of ‘Bharatanatyam’. Dr Nisha Kesavan from Singapore and Smt Vani from Malaysia were also part of the troupe.
The dance performed various scenes of the Ramayana first narrated and then depicted. It was a meticulous performance and showed the hard work that Dr Roshini Pillay Kesavan had done to teach the students and prepare them for the occasion.
Swami blessed the whole group by walking on to the stage and posing with them for photographs. He also distributed a copy of the newly launched book ‘Rama Charitam’ to the participants.
Mangala Arati was offered to Bhagawan as the evening program came to close.