Aum Sri Sai Ram
The seventh day of the Navaratri Festival started in N6, B25 as usual for the Grama Seva Boys, at 4:40. The morning session began with the powerful 21 Omkars followed by Suprabhatam. As it was Monday, this was followed by prayers to Lord Shiva and was conducted by Puppet Sir just like he used to perform Shiv Pooja at Sai Kutir and the fond memories came flooding back for many of our group members.
In the satsang that followed the prayers, Puppet Sir relived his Army days, recounting a story of when General Mahadevan had invited Swami to the Military Staff College in Wellington. Swami graciously accepted and was given full honour coming in an open top jeep and given a 21 gun salute. The General had previously given a talk to the soldiers telling them that he wanted A1 behaviour from them. However, when Swami came on the dais and raised the consciousness by turning his hands upwards and turning them in the customary circular motion, all people stood up and ran to Swami. All discipline disappeared! Swami kindly took letters, blessed and afterwards gave a divine discourse. Later Swami asked General what had happened to the Army discipline and General beautifully replied, “Swami, when devotion entered through the front gate, discipline left through the back gate!”.
At 8:00, after taking pradakshina of the Mandir, we went to the cars and set off to do Grama Seva at Agraharan, part of the Bukkapatnam Mandal. Agraharan is in the same direction as Krishnapuram, where we had been yesterday for seva. It took an hour to get to Agraharan and we arrived fresh and ready to serve. We started with Vedam recitation and then started the distribution. As always we received joy by having the opportunity to serve and see the gratitude on the villagers faces when they received Swami’s Prasadam, but the highlight was giving pencils and chocolates to the children in the village and then singing bhajans with them, because doing this really brings joy to the faces of the children, which makes us feel that we are sharing Swami’s love all around.
In the afternoon, after lunch and rest, we practiced Vedam and Medley in preparation for a programme, which will we perform later in the week, with Swami’s Grace.
This afternoon’s programme in Sai Kulwant hall started with powerful invocatory Vedam chanting which was followed by a talk given by T. Ravi Kumar, Warden of the Sri Sathya Sai Hostel, Brindavan. Ravi Kumar Sir had received a Gold Medal for his PhD and had been coached by Swami Himself on Public Speaking. Today he gave a “simple narration of His [Swami’s] love”, telling us about how his family had come to Swami (due to his father’s serious illness), about how Swami got his school studies back on the straight and narrow and how, through insisting to Swami, he was able to remain at the Lotus Feet in Swami’s education institutions.
He excerpt of Swami’s discourse today continued on the theme of truth and morality with Swami giving examples of Dharmaraj and Draupadi upheld truth. He said we should determine to follow the path of dharma all the way and that this was the first teaching of Lord Krishna. Swami said he tells teachers to teach morality. He said instead of learning ‘Aum Namah Shivaya’ or ‘Aum Namo Narayana’ we learn ‘Ding Dong Bell’ or ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’! We should start with God’s name.
The day’s programme was completed by a melodious musical programme by the sisters from the Anantapur campus, followed by bhajans and Arati. We were then told about the programme for the 8th day of the festival and after that offered our love at Swami’s Maha Samadhi.
In the evening we were blessed to be given a talk by Deepak Anand, a Faculty Member of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Education. It started with Deepak sharing his experiences and thoughts in his characteristic dynamic and passionate way, followed by a question and answer session with the UK boys.
The day ended with the group eating the evening meal together in N1, A9.