FROM PRASHANTHI NILAYAM, Christmas 2012 – Sathya Sai Memories


This most wonderful carol of Away In a Manger is well worth a listen for those of you interested in English Christmas music. It doesn’t come much better than this.

1. Away in a manger, no crib for His bed,
 The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head;
 The stars in the sky looked down where He lay,
 The little Lord Jesus, asleep in the hay.
2. The cattle are lowing, the poor Baby wakes.
 But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes.
 I love thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky.
 And stay by the cradle till morning is nigh.
3. Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay,
 Close by me forever, and love me, I pray!
 Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care
 And take us to heaven, to Live with Thee there.
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 Words: Unknown, 1885 (verses 1 & 2)
 Verse 3: Attributed to John Thomas McFarland, 1887 (1851-1913)


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UPDATE ON THE CHRISTMAS ACTIVITIES

On my arrival since late November, the vibes in the temple have been wonderful. The darshan could not have been better and there was a peace and a respect that really touched my heart. I could not have been happier… But Christmas time has brought in the crowds big-time with many village people from all over India. There are about 10,000 OR SO I AM TOLD..  This has added a touch of chaos to the ashram, and has rather dampened the spirit of Xmas this year for the few foreign visitors who are here.
It is a pity as we only have two days in the year in which to celebrated the Christian religion and it’s traditions, and this year this has been brought down to the bare bones….. The choir has worked hard and I am sure they will sing their hearts out this afternoon. The decorations around the ashram have been lovingly created to make a festival of lights that is truly breath-taking. The inside decorations are not like those of the old days when Swami was here physically with us but they are nice all the same.
I am posting some of my favourite photos of Swami along with this update. enjoy…..
I wish you all a very Happy Xmas and New Year……
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Dear Folks,

Christmas morning was pretty amazing. The day began with the Vedas, then the students played a selection of classical music on violins and other traditional western instruments which really added a touch of old-time feeling to the festivities.  Later, a sweet selection of carols were offered and for a time we were transported to a sort of Christmas Heaven for want of a better word.  And even later, a Christmas play  presented  by the students portrayed the real meaning of Christmas.    “No,” as the boy said, “Christmas is not all about yummy food and presents, Christmas is about the birth of a great teacher whose message seems to be somewhat lost in the world today…”

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For the activities, I stood outside on the men’s side where a huge video screen was visible for those outside. It probably was the best place to be, for I could see the beautiful white candle, (not real of course) that stood centre stage and brought the feeling of light and sacredness to the overly  flowery stage.  The last part of this morning’s celebrations was a light-hearted and very Western concert of Christmas songs… then Bhajans ended the morning.

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I loved sitting outside where I had the freedom to move around the beautiful ashram… I remained, for the  most part  of the morning, at the West gate, where I could sit on my own and truly take in the spirit of Christmas.

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The decorations inside the ashram this year were arranged by the New Zealanders. The theme being hearts in silver and white on a blue background. The hearts moved on the breeze giving them a ethereal feeling. Also there were blue lights and lanterns hanging from the columns of the Sai Kulwant hall. Must say it was very pretty. The garlands on the wrought-iron gates and in the public areas were white, yellow and red and blue, a unique design that I had not seen before.

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Mandir, Christmas, 2012

Back to my updates for this Christmas 

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Christmas afternoon: The international children’s choir presented a collection of sweet songs on the Christmas theme and as always they performed very well. The last day, yes –  an added day that came as a surprise to us all, saw the South Africans perform a play on the birth of Jesus together with a thoughtful presentation on love to all creatures as taught by Jesus the Christ. They further emphasized the sorry state of the world and how we are destroying it by our lack of  love and love of things, (stuff)  also included  in their programme was love for all other species that we share our world with.  This kind gesture from the South African community finished the Christmas holiday presentations for this year.
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( Will add Christmas at Prashanti photos soon )
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Nativity5 Nativity1 Nativity2 Nativity4

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We wanted to share this touching Christian parable by Hans Christian Anderson

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The Little Match Girl

So terribly cold it was, and nearly dark on the last evening of the old year. The snow was falling fast. In the cold and the darkness, a poor little girl roamed through the streets. It is true she had on a pair of slippers when she left home, but they were not of much use. They were very large, so large, indeed, that they had belonged to her mother, and the poor little creature had lost them in running across the street to avoid two carriages that were rolling along at a terrible rate. She could not find one of the slippers, and a boy seized upon the other and ran away with it, saying that he could use it as a cradle, when he had children of his own. So the little girl went on with her little naked feet, which were quite red and blue with the cold. In an old apron she carried a number of matches and had a bundle of them in her hands. No one had bought anything from her the whole day, nor had anyone given her even a penny. Shivering with cold and hunger, she crept along; poor little child, she looked the picture of misery. The snowflakes fell on her long, fair hair, which hung in curls on her shoulders, but she regarded them not.

The Little Match Girl

     Lights were shining from every window, and there was a savory smell of roast goose, for it was New Year’s Eve. In a corner, between two houses, one of which projected beyond the other, she sank down and huddled herself together. She had drawn her little feet under her, but she could not keep off the cold; and she dared not go home, for she had sold no matches, and could not take home even a penny of money. Her father would certainly beat her; besides, it was almost as cold at home as here, for they had only the roof to cover them, through which the wind howled, although the largest holes had been stopped up with straw and rags. Her little hands were almost frozen with the cold. Ah! perhaps a burning match might be some good, if she could draw it from the bundle and strike it against the wall, just to warm her fingers. She drew one out—“scratch!” how it sputtered as it burnt! It gave a warm, bright light, like a little candle, as she held her hand over it. It was really a wonderful light. It seemed to the little girl that she was sitting by a large iron stove, with polished brass feet and a brass ornament. How the fire burned! and seemed so beautifully warm that the child stretched out her feet as if to warm them, when, lo! the flame of the match went out, the stove vanished, and she had only the remains of the half-burnt match in her hand.

     She rubbed another match on the wall. It burst into a flame, and where its light fell upon the wall it became as transparent as a veil, and she could see into the room. The table was covered with a snowy white table-cloth, on which stood a splendid dinner service, and a steaming roast goose, stuffed with apples and dried plums. And what was still more wonderful, the goose jumped down from the dish and waddled across the floor, with a knife and fork in its breast, to the little girl. Then the match went out, and there remained nothing but the thick, damp, cold wall before her.

     She lit another match, and then she found herself sitting under a beautiful Christmas tree. It was larger and more beautifully decorated than the one which she had seen through the glass door at the rich merchant’s. Thousands of tapers were burning upon the green branches, and colored pictures, like those she had seen in the show windows, looked down upon it all. The little girl stretched out her hand towards them, and the match went out.

     The Christmas lights rose higher and higher, till they looked to her like the stars in the sky. Then she saw a star fall, leaving behind it a bright streak of fire. “Someone is dying,” thought the little girl, for her old grandmother, the only one who had ever loved her, and who was now dead, had told her that when a star falls, a soul was going up to God.

     She again rubbed a match on the wall, and the light shone round her; in the brightness stood her old grandmother, clear and shining, yet mild and loving in her appearance. “Grandmother,” cried the little one, “O take me with you; I know you will go away when the match burns out; you will vanish like the warm stove, the roast goose, and the large, glorious Christmas-tree.” And she made haste to light the whole bundle of matches, for she wished to keep her grandmother there. And the matches glowed with a light that was brighter than the noon day, and her grandmother had never appeared so large or so beautiful. She took the little girl in her arms, and they both flew upwards in brightness and joy far above the earth, where there was neither cold nor hunger nor pain, for they were with God.

In the dawn of morning there lay the poor little girl, with pale cheeks and smiling mouth, leaning against the wall: she had been frozen to death on the last evening of the year. The New Year’s sun rose and shone upon a little corpse! The child still sat, in the stiffness of death, holding the matches in her hand, one bundle of which was burnt. “She tried to warm herself,” said some. No one imagined what beautiful things she had seen, nor into what glory she had entered with her grandmother, on New Year’s day.

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Cosmic Adults – Children Of Light

“Child Of God, You were created to create the good, the beautiful and the holy.”
 
The miracle worker’s purpose is spiritually grand, not personally grandiose. The high cosmic drama is not your career, your money, or any of your worldly experiences. When we outgrow our immature preoccupation with the small self, we transcend our selfishness and become cosmically mature.  – all quotes from Marianne  Williamson

  

“The Sign of Christmas is a star, a light in the darkness”
 
The  desire to serve God doesn’t lie in what we’re done or even in what we’re doing. Our power lies in our clarity about why we’re on the earth. We’ll be important players if we think that way. And the important players of the coming years will be the people who see themselves as here to contribute to the healing of our world.

  

“Your holiness reverses all the laws of the world. It is beyond restriction of time, space, distance, and limits of any kind.”
 
There’s no more potent way to thank God for your gifts, or to increase them, than by sharing them. You will be given as much power in the world as you are willing to use on His behalf.

 

“When you meet anyone, remember it is an holy encounter. As you see him, you will see yourself. As you treat him, you will treat yourself. As you think of him, you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself.”
 
In every relationship, in every moment, we teach either love or fear. “To teach is to demonstrate.” As we demonstrate love and kindness towards others, we learn that we are lovable and we know how to love more deeply.

 

“Forgiveness takes away what stands between your brother and yourself.”
 
When people behave unloving, they have forgotten who they are. They have fallen asleep to the Christ within. The job of the miracle worker is to remain awake. We choose not to fall asleep and dream of our brother’s guilt. In this way we are given the power to awaken him.

 

My religion is Kindness – That’s what I do. – Dalai Lama

 

All great spiritual masters teach the same message irrespective of the religions that are later formed in their name. The truth of life is in unity. They all teach Self-inquiry to lead the mind back to the inner Self, a unified state of existence.  Different traditions may use different terms for this, but they are all essentially the same. The religious organizations that follow in the wake of great teachers often lose sight of this message of unity and even fight wars in the name of their beliefs.

Actually in all walks of life, we humans, are not as civilized as we would like to think. The world population more than double in the 20th century to more than 6 billion people, and it is consuming Earth’s natural resources at an outrageous rate. By some very reasonable estimates, our global natural resource base cannot support a population of more than 2 billion people consuming at the level of Western cultures. Clearly, major changes in thinking about our lifestyles is required as developing nations naturally aspire to the consumption of the West. Yet our political system is now punishing dissent, freedom of inquiry and efforts at preservation – tactics certain to slow the drive toward sustainability.

The days when we can ignore what the great masters have told us time and time again, are drawing to and end.  Personal responsibility for the greater good must become the mark of an informed and conscious people, then instilled rapidly into those yet unaware. Raising consciousness has been a  “motto” for the new age  through several decades of civil rights, Feminine rights and minority rights activism. Though that phrase sounds trite, even passe, to many ears, the concept of setting aside prejudice and bias in order to support a greater good and a larger view is vital to our collective well-being in the near future. The greatest philosophic and religious teaching of all time, as I have said before, are been ignored and perverted with regard to this issue. May our descendents forgive us these errors as we struggle to bring our Earth back into balance.

This time next week I shall be in Paris exploring the city in all its Christmas  finery, and hopefully will bring back some interesting stories and photos to post here.  This blog definitely is not easy to create. It takes ages to prepare a post like the one posted here today. I have had moments of wanting to push it aside and let it go. I carry on because I believe deeply that the world we live in needs each and everyone of us to share whatever talent or knowledge we have. Be it Occupy Wall Street, or helping with a  charity, or caring for animals, whatever it is, sharing at this time in our human history is important. We live in times of change like never before. PEACE.

A Friend Remembers – Sathya Sai Memories

A Sweet Story From Puttaparthi Visitor and Friend

It was Christmas 2000 when I first arrived in Puttaparthi with the intention of staying for a few months, not just a few days as I had done on my 1st trip in February.

Swami was in Whitefield and every day we would wait for a new canteen bulletin or news that He would be in Parthi for the Christmas celebrations. Much to our dismay, He DIDN’T come. Most of the foreign devotees moved to Whitefield. Having just arrived and in the process of settling down in my new home , I decided to wait for Him.

On one of those days , I stood before Swami’s house and I silently prayed ” Swami , please take away the Russians. I hate them!”.
Now, people that know me, can tell you that I’m not the kind of person that goes around hating other nationalities or the kind of person that would pray for such nonsense. But, I found the russians that I had met till this day in Puttaparthi extremely rude and arrogant. Some were even annoyed when the rickshaw driver didn’t understand their language.

To continue the story….From Swami’s house till the men’s shoe stands – where they used to line up in the past – takes only 3 minutes to walk…maybe even less. As I reached there, a woman came running up to me and asked me if I wanted to join her little group to go somewhere – i didn’t ask where but as Swami was not in Puttaparthi and as I am a addicted to travelling, it didn’t make a difference. I was not going to lose my chance. I jumped into a minibus and the door closed behind me as I sat in the one available seat. Then it hit me…I was sitting in a bus FULL OF RUSSIANS and I was the only non russian present!!! Swami’s leelas are wonderful!!
It took me a long time to understand where we were going…another ashram in Penukonda which was a horrible experience for me…BUT, beloved Swami had started to show me, in such a beautiful way, how wrong I was to judge.
After that…..my neighbour and best friend was a Russian, I was taken into a RUSSIAN GROUP and I even ended up going to Russian bhajans!!
Then, another strange happening, the 2 interviews I was blessed with was with the RUSSIANS!! What more can I say!! Only that the russians I met were such beautiful people and I’m SOOooo grateful for my russian friends!

1st Interview

I remember thinking to myself at some point ‘Swami, this year I will be alone on Valentine’s day ( I had just separated). i have never been alone on this day”…..just a fleeting thought.

On the the 12th February I was given a purple scarf….the group’s colour. That night I had a strange dream.

A hand giving me a key and the words ‘ I GIVE YOU THE KEY TO THE BEST ROOM IN THE HOTEL. ROOM NO7′

I’m sure that anybody with the slightest intelligence would have understood what room that was and whose voice that was. But not me or , I should say, I didn’t want to understand.

So, I didn’t go to afternoon darshan. I was feeling depressed and instead of going to the MY BEST FRIEND, I stupidly wandered around the Puttaparthi shops.

A man who owned a telephone booth knew me and my group. He came up to me and said ‘ I think your group has been called for an interview’.

For over 2 hours I howled not just cried. I cried and cried and cried so much that people outside stood in front of the house and asked what was happening. Eventually, the owners of my flat said to me ‘Stop crying. it was obviously not your time. Just go and find out what happened.’

So, I dried my tears and went to the ashram. Just as I was arriving at Ganesha, one of the group members, a friend of mine came smiling towards me and said ‘ Get ready for an interview tomorrow’. ‘But, you just had an interview today’ I said , not believing my ears.

‘We were called on to the verandah, Swami materialized a lot of gifts but then He said Wouldn’t you rather have private interviews.? I’m sure you would. And the problem today is that the room is full of boxes for my students, so better I take you tomorrow’. My friend then said to Swami ‘ Swami someone is missing today’ to which He answered ” BUT, TOMORROW SHE WILL BE HERE!!” How many are you today..12…so you should be 13′.

Swami often says ‘tomorrow’ and tomorrow nothing happens because His time is not our time. All we could do was hope, pray and be ready.

The next morning, VALENTINE’S DAY, one of the Russian ladies sat by the VIP section, hoping that Swami would see her and call us. We all sat near the patient’s section.

To this day, I feel tha amazing happiness of that moment, when Swami walked straight to her and said ‘ 13 TODAY? GO! ‘
– ( found this out later).

I will be forever grateful that HE GAVE ME A 2ND CHANCE. From both interviews, I will only refer to Swami’s sayings that could be directed to any one of us.

So there I was sitting on the verandah waiting to be called into Swami’s interview room. The feelings and thoughts that go through one’s mind at this point cannot be expressed in words.

In general, the whole interview and any communication I have ever had with Swami has always had the feeling of a dream. When it’s over, I am never sure that the things I remember actually took place. Did Swami hold my hand? Did He smile at me? Did He really say that in the way I remember? And because Swami knows this , there has always been a witness to confirm that things happened as I thought they did.

Once inside, I sat at the back of the group of women. Being the only foreigner in the group, I felt abit of an intruder. Swami asked everyone where they are from, He skipped that with me!!

Before coming to Sai Baba I was a Yogananda devotee. It was through him that I found my way to beloved Swami. I remember being in Ranchi at Yogananda’s ashram. Some devotees were speaking about Sai Baba. I didn’t want to hear anything. I was not interested in this Swami who performs miracles and I did not fancy the crowds that I heard went to Puttaparthi.

Now 5 years later, I was sitting in Swami’s interview room….exactly 7 years to the day since a friend gave me the copy of Autobiography of a Yogi. Swami, of course, who knows our every thought, materialized watches, pendants, lingams, rings for everyone or maybe almost everyone in the room. The only devotees in there who got nothing, not even vibhuti were my russian friend who had shared my beliefs in the past and myself !!!

Swami blessed us so much in that interview……

At some point He took 2 at a time into the smaller, private interview room.

There was a Russian lady, the translator in the middle and then me. We were literally sitting at Swami’s feet.

He turned towards the Russian lady and pointing at me and said,

– ‘SHE IS ALWAYS WORRIED, ALWAYS UNHAPPY” then turning towards me, He continued ‘ WHY DO YOU WASTE SO MUCH TIME AND ENERGY WORRYING? BE HAPPY!! ‘ and showing me the palm of His right hand, He smiled with such love and said ‘ DON’T YOU KNOW EVERYTHING IS WRITTEN HERE? BE HAPPY.’

This is really what He wants from all of us….our happiness and our love. Everything is in His hands anyway.

When I heard Him say the above, I was somewhat taken aback. Out of all the things He could have said, did these really have to be His first words to me? My ego was not happy and I felt that He was being abit unfair for yes, I do worry or used to worry about everything, but I never saw myself as unhappy. In retrospect, OF COURSE, beloved Swami couldn’t have said anything more beautiful and more knowing than what He did say. He knew my nature more than I knew myself. Most of the time we are not aware of our true nature.

The Russian devotee in the room then asked Swami.

– ‘ Swami I have separated, will you send me a good man?’

Swami ‘ NO, I WILL NOT!!’

– ‘ Please Swami, I am very lonely.’

Swami ‘ NO, I WILL NOT!!! WHAT IS MARRIAGE?? MARRIAGE IS NOT ALWAYS HAPPINESS. ONE PERSON WANTS ONE THING AND THE OTHER PERSON WANTS ANOTHER THING.’

As we know, what Swami said in that room to us was not directed to everyone and He says different things to different people. I think that what he said above was for our ears. For her and for me….marriage was not always happiness. To others , He says ‘where is your wife?’

And this was what happened with my Russian friend. He had said to me that he would NEVER get married. He wanted to be a monk.

‘I will only get married if Swami tells me to’ – To which I had responded ‘That is so silly!! You are so young, you can’t not get married and how can you wait for Swami to tell you…He may never speak to you.’

Well, within a month Swami spoke and His first words to my friend were ‘I will give you a good /beautiful wife.’ …which He did!!!

When we were all in the bigger room, Swami chastised a young girl for her behaviour…too many men…and He then materialized a pendant with Swami on it….He was also very strict with a young man who actually looked as if he had fallen into the room by accident.

All the time I remember the cuckoo clock..yes, there is a cuckoo clock in the room …so sweet. And his little basket with the coloured packets of vibhuti. I was so relieved and grateful that He also gave ME 7 of these packets.

When our precious time was over, Swami led us to the door and blessed us by placing His hand on our head, one by one..

(The personal things Swami said to me have not been mentioned.)

The BEST Valentine’s Day of my life!!! How foolish I had been to think that I would have been alone!!! We are never alone when we have Swami in our heart.

As the months passed after the interview, i would often say to Swami ‘ Why didn’t I also ask you for a little something..maybe a japamal…something to hold on to when in need, afraid, lonely! I’ve changed my mind….next time i will not say no to one of your miracle gifts of love!!!’