Ugadi is celebrated in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra signifying ‘the beginning of a new year’. It is celebrated as Gudi Padwa by the people of Maharashtra. This year 2018-2019 is referred to as Vilambi Samvatsara as per the current cycle in Gregorian calendar. In most traditions, the New Year is welcomed with colourful decorations, delicious preparations and prayerful salutations. The festival is characterised by the preparation of food items that combine all the tastes – sweet, sour, salty and bitter. This is a symbolic reminder that one must be equanimous to all the experiences that awaits one in the coming year.
On this festive morning, Bhagawan was welcomed amidst loud singing of Bhajans. The session began with Vedic invocation of Hiranyagarbha Suktam by Grade 6 and Grade 7 boys from Sri Sathya Seva Loka Seva Higher Primary and High school in Muddenahalli. This was followed by an elaborate pictorial presentation by Ms Bhuvana Santhanam about the Divine visit to Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore from March 8, 2018 to March 17, 2018.
There were three new launches for the new year day. The first was the DVD release of the Sri Sathya Sai Annual Sports and Cultural Meet 2018 by the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Group of Institutions. Omkar Sai and Prathap B S who are students of the Sri Sathya Sai Centre for Human Excellence and Sai Preetham, second year Pre-University student of Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Pre-University college at Muddenahalli, being part of the video team, shot the sports meet videos and helped in mixing of these to prepare the DVD.
The second launch was the Kannada version of the book ‘The Story Divine – Divya Kathamruta’, autobiography of Brother Madhusudhan Naidu and the unprecedented tale of his divine adventure. Sri Anantha Murthy and Smt Chaya Murthy along with Sri Sundar Bhat and Sri Kabir worked on the translation and edition of this book. Sri Anantha Murthy and Sri Chaya Murthy have translated 18 books of Sai literature into Kannada language before this book, ‘The Story Divine’. They had worked in the educational institutions of Bhagawan for several decades at Alike and recently as Chairman of Sri Sathya Sai Sharadaniketanam at Mandya. Currently, they are mentoring the students of Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Higher Primary and High School at Muddenahalli. Sri Sundar Bhat and Sri Kabir serve as teachers in the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva schools in Muddenahalli.
The third launch was another book ‘Sri Sathya Sai Divya Anandam’ by Sri B N Narasimha Murthy, Chief Mentor of the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Group of Institutions. This book is a sequel to Sri Sathya Sai Divya Kripashraya, which was the first in the series and covered the author’s journey from 1965, the year of his meeting the Divine to 1983, the year he moved from Sathya Sai Grama, Muddenahalli to Prasanthi Nilayam, Puttaparthi. In this new book Sri Sathya Sai Divya Anandam, the author narrates his journey with the Lord in His subtle form from the year 2011. Brother Varun, an architect by profession and Sai Preetham, a young graduate from the Sri Sathya Sai Centre for Human Excellence and currently the executive assistant of Sri B N Narasimha Murthy, presented the book to Bhagawan for the release. They helped the author in collating and compiling the book.
The first speaker for the morning was Sri C Sreenivas, Chairman of the Sri Sathya Sai Health and Education Trust, currently spearheading the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Group of Hospitals providing paediatric cardiac care completely free of cost. Sri C Sreenivas speech revolved around beauty and inspiration and he attributed both these qualities to Sri B N Narasimha Murthy. He said that Muddenahalli and Sri B N Narasimha Murthy were synonymous in the way they grew to be divine by every passing day, so much so that the very thought of them can make one feel energised and positive to enable deeper understanding and give varied perspectives to live life better. Sri B N Narasimha Murthy has been his ideal from the time he knew him in 1970s while he was a student at Prasanthi Nilayam. Sri Narasimha Murthy’s rare energy, idealism, implicit obedience to Bhagawan, unquestionable and time-tested devotion to Bhagawan, had inspired him a lot. Sri B N Narasimha Murthy was like an arrow that left its bow and knew only its target without looking hither and tither, up or down, but travels unidirectional to reach its ultimate goal.
Thereafter, Sri B N Narasimha Murthy attributed all that he was and is to Bhagawan and said that this is the reason behind naming the first chapter of his book Sri Sathya Sai Divya Anandam as ‘Fortunate beyond deservedness’. Margaret Mitchell had said ‘Life is under no obligation to give us what we expect’. However, his life was blessed by the love and compassion of Bhagawan that he received beyond what he expected. He learnt the lessons of life at the feet of his devoted mother even as a 10-year-old boy, subsequent to which he never learnt anything more after having read thousands of books. His mother practiced devotion to God and compassion towards fellow beings and fostered these qualities in her children as well. His father served as a revenue officer in a nearby town from Chikkaballapur. He was by nature very short tempered. They had employed a servant at their home who did all the household chores. One day he approached his father for financial help for his daughter’s wedding. But his father was not in the right frame of mind that day. He flared up at the old servant and shoved him off. His mother felt very bad, rushed into the Puja room and started sobbing thinking about the plight of the servant. She gathered all the money that was saved in small portions over a certain period of time, meant as an offering to their family deity Lord Narasimha and handed this money over to her son Narasimha Murthy asking him to run to the old servant and give the package to him. Her son did the same and learnt yet another valuable lesson for his life. Sri B N Narasimha Murthy’s father was an intuitive astrologer and had written the horoscopes of his children precisely mentioning the year of their demise as well. But his father paused the horoscope prediction for him at age 64 and did not write further till the end of his life. When enquired about this, his father said that he is not very clear since there is something in the planetary positions, which if helps him continue his life, will only lead him to do God’s work. At the age of 64, he was serving as Warden in the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Brindavan Campus. Bhagawan at that time told him that he has got work in Muddenahalli and he might have to move there soon. In fact, in his first interaction with Bhagwan in His subtle form, Bhagawan had said that He will give him 20 more years of life in order to serve Him. Bhagawan had also told him in his very first interview at Puttaparthi, “You do my work, I will do your work”. All his life, Mr B N Narasimha Murthy did not aspire to achieve anything, but just followed Bhagawan’s commands. As a concluding note he exhorted everyone to just surrender to Swami and with this, life will give us all that we seek and much more.
Then, Bhagawan in His discourse stressed on the importance of utilisation of time for the pursuit of divinity and immortality and not for the pursuit of transient and temporal things of the world. One attains immortality through sacrifice and by living for the welfare of others. Every minute, every moment is a new beginning and an opportunity to set right what we have not done correctly and take steps to do things better. During this new period of time that God is granting us from the day of Ugadi, let us live a life for other’s sake, a life of sacrifice and service, give happiness to others and in the process be happy ourselves.
The morning session at Premamrutham ended with Managala Arati offering to Bhagawan.
The Ugadi evening was chosen by Bhagawan as an eve to fulfil His responsibility towards the elder Tyagajeevis of Alike and Muddenahalli who had served for more than four to five decades. Bhagawan blessed 17 senior Tyagajeevis with independent new residences on that day. The building was lovingly christened by Him as Prema Sadana.
Bhagawan arrived at Prema Kutir which is currently serving as Sri Sathya Sai Centre for Human Excellence (for men), at around 4.15 p.m. to inaugurate the second floor. He was gladly received by Tyagajeevis and other dignitaries. Dr A R Manjunath delivered the welcome address. Sri B N Narasimha Murthy explained in detail about the lives of these Tyagajeevis in small huts known as Prema Kutir at Alike during the early 1970s along with the founder Sri Madiyal Narayan Bhat. The current Centre for Human Excellence building was constructed by Alumni of Muddenahalli Institutions, Brother S G Ajay and Brother S G Vijay. Bhagawan requested Brother S G Ajay to speak a few words.
This was followed by Bhagawan’s Divine discourse. He spoke in praise of Dr Ravi Pillay, his sister Dr Roshni Pillay and her husband Dr Keshavan for being instrumental in building the Prema Sadana. After the discourse, tea and snacks were served to everyone present. Bhagawan proceeded to inaugurate the Prema Sadana and walked into all the rooms of the Tyagajeevis residences and allotted them their homes with loads of love. He reminded the Tyagajeevis that this should be like their Vanaprastha and Sanyasa Ashrama meant to immerse themselves in meditation and Saadana. Bhagawan also blessed the workers for their hard work and handed over His gifts of love to them.
Bhagawan came to Premamrutham for the evening’s proceedings at around 7 p.m. The programme began with the Vedic chants of Ishavasya Upanishad by Second Year Pre-University students of Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Pre-University College at Muddenahalli.
The cultural programme for the day was ‘Prahalada Charitham’ by the Melattur Bhagavatha Mela Natya Vidya Sangam, Melattur.
Bhagavata Mela is a regional temple theatre form presented through the medium of classical dance and classical music. This blend of theatre and dance has been performed for five centuries by Vaishnavites and also Tamil and Telugu speaking Smartha Brahmins in Thanjavur. Throughout this time, one of the most unique aspects of Bhagavata Mela has been that all the roles including female roles have been performed only by men. Bhagavata Mela is also unique in that it is still performed not as a commercial enterprise but as a devotional prayer of surrender to Lord Lakshmi Narasimha. The primary repertoire of Bhagavata Mela in current times is the set of ten Natya Natakams in the Telugu language composed by Melattur Venkatarama Sastri, who lived in the 1700’s and early 1800’s, and a senior contemporary of the famous Trinity of Carnatic Music.
The Prahalada Charithram began with obeisance to Lord Ganesha followed by the introduction of the three main characters, Hiranyakashipu; his wife Leelavathi and Bhaktha Prahalada. The theatre play ended with Lord Narasimha avatar destroying the demon king and blessing little Prahalada for his devotion.
This was followed by the Mangala Arati and Prasadam distribution and the programme came to a close.