Lord Shiva is one of the chief gods in the
Hindu pantheon. The day previous to the new moon is observed
as Shivarathri and considered auspicious for worship of Lord
Shiva. But the Shivarathri in the Magha month of the Hindu
calendar is celebrated as Maha Shivarathri and people throng
temples and observe night long vigil engaged in
singing Bhajans, chanting hymns and performing worship to
Lord Shiva. At Prasanthi Nilayam, this festival assumes more
significance in the physical presence of the very embodiment
of Shiva-Shakti Swaroopa, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
On the occasion of Mahashivarathri, Bhagawan
felicitated five long-standing devotees for their invaluable
contribution and dedicated service in Bhagawan’s institutions
and service projects, and gifted them each with a new car.
The fortunate ones were –
Sri A.Ramakrishna, Former Vice-President
of L&T, ECC Division. During his tenure, the reputed construction
company executed a number of projects on behalf of Sri
Sathya Sai Central Trust, most significantly, the water
supply projects in the drought prone districts of Anantapur,
Medak and Mahabubnagar in Andhra Pradesh and the metropolitan
city of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, as well as the two Super
R.Kondala Rao, Technical consultant to the Government
of Andhra Pradesh, for the water supply projects undertaken
Sri K.Chakravarthi, IAS (Retd.) who
was the first Registrar of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of
Higher Learning, and is presently the Secretary of Sri
Sathya Sai Central Trust.
Prof. G.Venkataraman, a renowned scientist
and former Vice-Chancellor of Sri Sathya Sai Institute
of Higher Learning. Presently, he is the Vice-Chairman
of the overseas wing of Sri Sathya Sai Organisation, and
also the in-charge of Radio Sai Global Harmony, the ashram
Sri K.R.Paramahamsa, IAS (Retd.), who
has held various positions in Bhagawan’s institutions
and who is presently in charge of the ‘Deena Janoddharana
Pathakamu’, the home for destitute children established
26th morning, after the felicitation ceremony,
the students of Bhagawan's educational institutions sang stotrams
(hymns) and songs in praise of their Lord Sai Shiva. The morning
programme concluded with Arati.
In the evening, after granting Darshan at
4 p.m., Bhagawan distributed white safari suiting material
and calculators to all the students. Following this, Bhagawan
went back to Poornachandra and returned at 5.15 p.m. Once
Bhagawan was seated on the dais, He commanded the students
to start Bhajans. However, after a few minutes, Bhagawan indicated
the Bhajans to stop and permitted Sri A.V.S.Raju to read out
a selection from his anthology of poems composed on Bhagawan.
At 6.30 p.m., Bhagawan rose to give His Divine Discourse.
Bhagawan started His discourse with a poem
that described the omnipresence of God and irony inherent
in the various modes of worship offered to Him. Bhagawan said
that while the whole Universe is in God, how can one build
a temple for Him? What name can one give to Him who resides
in all beings? What need is there to perform Abhishekam (ceremonial
bath) to Him when all the oceans find refuge in Him? The entire
universe is a manifestation of the five elements which in
turn have originated from the Divine. While these elements
are subject to change and destruction, God alone is immutable
and eternal. One must realize that everyone is divine and
should not be deluded by bodily attachment to one’s
spouse, children and even one’s enemies. One should
respect them as embodiments of the Divine. Bhagawan concluded
His discourse with the Bhajan – “Prema Muditha
Man Se Kaho…” and soon retired to His residence.
The Akhanda Bhajans continued through the
night and the next morning, Bhagawan arrived in Sai Kulwant
Hall at 6.20 a.m. After going around the hall granting Darshan
to everyone, He took His seat on the dais. Around 6.45 a.m
.or so, one could sense that something was in the offing as
Bhagawan was showing signs of physical pain and restlessness
– indications that there may be ‘Lingodbhavam’.
The pace of the Bhajans kept increasing every minute in anticipation,
but it was not until 8.25 a.m. that a beautiful golden lingam
emerged from Bhagawan’s mouth. Then out of immense love
and compassion, He moved amidst devotees holding the lingam
so that everyone could have a close glimpse of it.
Afterwards, Bhagawan presented Sri K.R.Paramahamsa
and his wife with the keys of a brand new car. Bhagawan
sent word for the boys who are the beneficiaries of the Deena
Janodharana Pathakamu; all 60 of them at once surrounded Bhagawan
and what took place in
the next 25 minutes was an outpouring of love that brought
tears to everyone’s eyes. Bhagawan spoke to them and
assured them that He would take care of all of them and they
should study well and lead happy, spiritual and healthy lives.
They in turn replied that they were no longer orphans or destitute
children for Bhagawan was looking after them and showering
so much love on them. Some of them spoke, chanted Vedic hymns
and sang songs expressing their love and gratitude to Bhagawan.
Bhagawan also praised Sri K.R.Paramahamsa and his wife Smt.
Gita Paramahamsa for their dedication in looking after their
every need and bringing them up so well.
The Shivarathri Celebrations concluded with
Mangala Arati and everyone was served Prasadam.