festival of Christmas celebrates the glorious advent of the
Son of God, Jesus Christ, on this earth about two millennia
ago. Born in Bethlehem, He rose from humble beginnings to
become a World Teacher. His message of Love and Compassion
inspires millions of followers all over the world today. The
Christmas season is marked with festivities and rejoicing
at the wonderful gift that God bestowed on mankind in the
form of His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And now, that
very Father who sent Christ has incarnated amidst us as our
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. It is our good fortune to behold
and adore His beautiful form and witness the grand sight of
people professing different faiths deriving the bliss of celebrating
their religious festivities in His Divine presence.
The Christmas Celebrations at Prasanthi Nilayam
commenced on the evening of 24th December, Christmas Eve.
Devotees from many overseas countries had gathered to adore
the Divine Father with their carols sung first by a children’s
choir and then by the adults. It was heartwarming to see thousands
of eyes riveted in reverence on Bhagawan as He listened to
their expressions of devotion and yearning. At the end of
the programme, Bhagawan blessed the conductors of the two
choirs and presented them with sarees.
In the early hours of 25th December, the
choir groups gathered in Sai Kulwant Hall and sang carols
for about an hour and a half. After Bhagawan granted Darshan,
the students of Sri Sathya Sai Primary School presented a
violin programme. The Institute Brass Band then followed with
a thrilling performance. Bhagawan then permitted the students
of Bhagawan’s Institute and School to commence their
musical presentation. The students sang carols and songs capturing
the spirit of Christmas. The songs were interspersed with
a dialogue between a child and his uncle that brought out
the many wonderful aspects of the Christmas celebration. The
beautiful songs with excellent musical accompaniment gladdened
the hearts of all present. As the students sang the popular
carol, “Jingle Bells”, students dressed as Santa
Claus, came prancing into the hall and approached Bhagawan
for His blessings before distributing their goodies to everyone.
Bhagawan then answered the yearnings of the thousands gathered
in Sai Kulwant Hall as He descended the dais and went amidst
the hordes of devotees blessing them on this sacred day.
The afternoon programme featured talks by
two distinguished devotees of Bhagawan. They were introduced
by the Christmas Programme Coordinator, Mr. John Behner of
El Salvador. The first speaker was Mr. Arthur Hillcoat, a
long-standing devotee hailing from Australia. He began by
observing that if Jesus were to come to Prasanthi Nilayam
today, he would be really happy. Not because we are celebrating
his birthday in such a grand manner, but because thousands
of people from diverse nationalities, speaking different languages
and following different faiths have come together to adore
the Lord in a spirit of love and harmony. The greatest gift
we can give God is to live by at least one of his teachings,
he said. Mr. Hillcoat mentioned that we must live life as
it comes, cherishing the difficulties, sorrows and tears as
much as we cherish our joys and pleasures, for it is the difficult
times that lead us to enquire into our true nature. The Lord
will then enter our lives to lead us to our own reality, he
said. He concluded his talk by saying that having been blessed
to come to the divine fold, we should not fritter away this
golden opportunity but practice at least one teaching of Bhagawan
and thereby find fulfillment in our lives.
The second speaker was Father Charles Ogada,
a Catholic priest from the state of Abia in Nigeria. Father
Charles said that the essence of Christmas was to realise
the Christ Consciousness, which is but our inner self. The
purpose of our lives is to realise our true nature. He narrated
the thrilling story of how he came to the Lotus Feet of Bhagawan,
or as he put it, how Bhagawan came to him. He had led a routine
life until the age of seventeen. He was to go on to study
medicine at a prestigious university in Nigeria. One day,
as he sat in seclusion in a forest near his house, he heard
a Divine Voice asking him what he wanted to do with his life.
Recognising the voice to be that of God, he replied, “Sweet
Father, I want to offer this life to you”. His life
thus took an unexpected turn as he decided to study to be
ordained as a Catholic priest. However, after nine years of
religious studies, he was frustrated as he still could not
come face to face with the God he was praying to. One day,
one of his teachers mentioned the name “Sai Baba”
and this name he said “shook the foundations of Heaven
within me”. There is tremendous power in that name,
Father Ogada said. A few days later, Bhagawan appeared in
his dream and said, “I am the one you have been seeking”.
He came to Prasanthi Nilayam in 2001 and was overwhelmed by
the Love of Bhagawan, which, he said, was like the love of
millions of mothers. When he met Swami, he felt he met Jesus,
for had Christ not said “I and My Father are one”.
Father Ogada concluded his thrilling talk with a prayer to
Swami to make the entire world aware that the Father, who
Jesus had said had sent Him, is now with us.
Acceding to the prayers of the devotees,
Bhagawan then granted His Divine Discourse. Bhagawan observed
that man is a bundle of paradoxes. He can be loving sometimes
and full of hate at other times; he is deceitful to some people
while being a trustworthy person to others. In truth, however,
the inner self of man is without blemish. Depending on every
individual’s tendencies, he responds to his environment.
But, these are merely superficial appearances, for the Divine
principle within is beyond all attributes, He said. Bhagawan,
while praising Father Ogada’s devotion, reminisced about
His trip to East Africa and the intense devotion of the people
At the conclusion of Bhagawan’s discourse, Bhajans
were sung and after accepting Arati He retired to His residence.
Jai Sai Ram!