REPORT ON SRI RAMA NAVAMI CELEBRATIONS: 27th MARCH, 2007
One of the principle beliefs of Sanathana Dharma is the concept of Avatarhood. An ‘Avatar’ is defined as an incarnation (physical manifestation) of the Supreme Being. The word ‘Avatar’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Avataranam’, which means ‘descent’, and usually implies a deliberate descent of the Divine into the mortal realms to reveal the Absolute Truth to humanity and remind them of their true divine nature. The Supreme Divine Power took the name and form of Lord Sri Rama and walked the earth during the Tretha Yuga. Hence, Sri Rama Navami is celebrated all over India with gaiety and religious fervour to mark the day when Lord Sri Rama took birth.
Many devotees gathered at Prasanthi Nilayam to offer their obeisance to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the same Lord Rama come again. On 27th morning, Bhagawan granted Darshan at 8.50 a.m. Thereafter, there were Bhajans in praise of Lord Rama and Sai Rama during which time Bhagawan graciously distributed idols to many devotees in the Bhajan Hall. At the end of the Bhajans, Bhagawan accepted Arati and retired to His residence at 10.30 a.m.
In the afternoon, Bhagawan arrived in Sai Kulwant Hall at 4.15 p.m. After He was seated on the dais, He blessed Dr. G.Venkataraman to address the gathering. Dr. Venkataraman is an eminent scientist who had served in many capacities in the Government including the DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organisation). He has received many awards including the prestigious award ‘Padmashri’ from the President of India in 1991. After an illustrious career as a scientist, he was blessed by Bhagawan to be the fifth Vice-Chancellor of Sri Sathya Sai University. He is now serving Bhagawan by teaching in His University and also heading the ashram radio service, Radio Sai Global Harmony.
Dr. Venkataraman began his speech by saying that the festival of Sri Rama Navami holds special significance for him. He recollected that in the year 1996, Sri Rama Navami was celebrated in Brindavan. In the evening, before His Divine Discourse, Bhagawan blessed him to speak in His divine presence. Thereafter, Bhagawan delivered His Discourse and the whole programme concluded at 5.15 p.m. After the programme, Bhagawan called Dr. Venkataraman aside and told him that He had brought the programme to an early conclusion so that he could leave for Puttaparthi and reach there before night fall as the next day he was to assume the office of Vice-Chancellor of Sri Sathya Sai University. Dr. Venkataraman was deeply moved by Bhagawan’s love and concern for him, where Bhagawan went to the extent of changing His programme so that he will not be put to any inconvenience.
Dr. Venkataraman also narrated an episode from Ramayana as told by Swami in the Summer Course on Indian Culture and Spirituality in 1996. He said that during the marriage ceremony of Sita and Rama, while Rama was repeating the hymns being chanted by the priest, He did not repeat a particular line in spite of being prodded by the priest. The reason was that it involved taking a vow that He would fulfill all the desires of His wife. Lord Rama said that having been born in the royal lineage, His duty was first to His subjects and therefore, the needs of His family and His personal needs came only after that. Such was Lord Rama’s ideal of selfless love and dedication to His Dharma. Dr. Venkataraman then said that in our present times, our dear Lord Sai Rama also gave up His family in order to dedicate Himself completely to the task of uplift of humanity and leading them on the spiritual path.
Following this, Sri S.V.Giri addressed the gathering. Sri Giri, IAS held many important positions in the Government of Andhra Pradesh and the Central Government before retiring as the Chief Vigilance Commissioner. He later served as the sixth Vice-Chancellor of Sri Sathya Sai University, and is presently involved in many service activities undertaken by Bhagawan. Sri Giri quoted the first few lines of Ramayana where Valmiki asks Sage Narada if there is or ever was a person who embodied all the noble qualities and virtues in full measure, and epitome of an ideal human being. Narada says that such men are indeed rare to come by, but there was one who exactly fit the above description and that was Sri Rama of the Ikshvaku dynasty. And how fortunate we are that today we have the very same Rama in our midst teaching and guiding us by the example of His own life. Sri Giri then spoke briefly on how Bhagawan was mobilising and motivating the students and the youth wing of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations to undertake service activities and thereby bringing about development of the country and also spiritual transformation of youth.
Bhagawan then called upon Sri Mohit, an undergraduate student to share his thoughts. Sri Mohit then recalled an interesting incident that happened many years ago when he was studying in the Sri Sathya Sai Primary School. One day during Darshan, Bhagawan was speaking to them. When pointing out to a student, He said, “This boy was Sugriva in the Tretha Yuga, and you were all Vanaras (monkeys) who assisted Me in My mission.” Sri Mohit expressed his gratitude to Bhagawan for having kept him in His physical proximity through the ages. After Sri Mohit concluded his short speech, Bhagawan materialized a golden chain and lovingly put it around his neck and blessed him.
Bhagawan then rose to deliver His Divine Discourse. Bhagawan began with a Telugu verse that describes the matchless sweetness of the name of Lord Rama. Bhagawan said that in spite of the fact that many millennia have passed since Tretha Yuga, the sweetness and power of the name of Rama had not diminished a bit. Bhagawan then said that one must not take Rama to be a human being, for He is an incarnation of God and ‘Atma Rama’ - the Indweller of all the beings. He then narrated many episodes from the Ramayana such as the sacred marriage of Rama and Sita and also the events that led to Rama being exiled into the forest for 14 years. Bhagawan then declared that this sacred land of Bharat was ruled by Rama; it is ‘Rama Rajya’, and hence it is ‘Shanti Rajya’ and ‘Prema Rajya’, the land where peace and love reign supreme. Bhagawan exhorted everyone to sing the name of Rama at all times and thereby fill their lives with ecstasy and bliss. The discourse concluded with the Bhajan - ‘Rama Kodanda Rama…’