Friday, March 30, 2012

Can I sing Swami?

It is the dream of my mother to make me sing classical music atleast for some functions at home. My experiences in attempting to learn carnatic music itself is a blog post that can be found in My singing odyssey or an ordeal? . I tried my best many a times and could not find a guru to take a step ahead in that direction.
Once I started attending weekly bhajans in Annanagar, Chennai, the thirst for singing bhajans rose in me. The joy in listening to roof top bhajans in one of the houses in Anna nagar made a big impact in my life. The impact I had after the Saturday bhajans would make me long for the next session and would keep me engaged in trying to remember those bhajans that were sung in that house. This definitely had brought Swami closer to me as one such continuous singing led to Swami showing His presence at my home.
After I got married I was out of touch with bhajans as we moved to Baroda and I did not have any clue about Sai centres there and my husband’s work pressure was immense that we had very little time even for ourselves. After a gap of five long years when we moved to Joburg He drew us back into his fold with a greater mission. Our lives turned 360 degrees with involvement of my husband into Sai movement and his dedication towards the same. This helped in my personal transformation as well.
My husband started singing in bhajans and got involved in Sai activities slowly and steadily. I used to accompany him for every bhajan practice. I always had a subtle prayer to Swami to allow me to enjoy singing bhajans instead of just listening. During one of the bhajan practice sessions the bhajan convener asked me try a simple Ganesha bhajan as a duet. All the bhajan singers gave me lot of confidence.
The first bhajan I tried was “Gajavadana gana natha”. Lots of appreciations boosted my interest to learn more bhajans. The second step I took in this path was “Ananda Sagara”. I sang this bhajan just before leaving to India for a vacation. The plan was to celebrate my Son’s crown birthday in Swami’s abode. On my son’s birthday we visited His birthplace and spent some quality time in peace. When we returned to the Mandir the bhajans had already begun. We were at the tail end of that session. After we settled in a place in the Kulwant hall I got a surprise of my life when I heard “Ananda Sagara” being sung just before Aarathi. Swami made sure that He indicated to us that He indeed was happy. He gave the blessing in formless form!
Recently I was practising “Dasaratha nandana Rama” and a subtle thought came into my mind. I asked Swami how I was supposed to visualise Him while I sang this bhajan. The answer came the next morning in the form of a friend who posted the picture of Swami next to Rama sita and Lakshmana that was taken by him few years ago.

Needless to say my prayers were answered and that I visualized that picture of Swami as I sang that bhajan yesterday in Satsang (Swami actually sung through me!). He definitely has boosted my confidence and is giving me opportunity to enjoy the bhajans in a completely new angle.
From a zero to what I am today is nothing but His grace. He is listening to every genuine prayer!
Jai SaiRam!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Faith factor

"Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death." Yesterday I experienced the truth in this quote in my dream. Let me first explain this dream. I and my husband were on a game viewing site. The place seemed to be a residential area. As we walked we reached a roofless building which only had walls and it seemed like an enclosed garden area. Before we could enter the gate of what seemed like a resting area/ garden I suspected that there could be cheetah or leopard. As we opened the gate we found a cheetah growling in hunger. I turned to the other side to look for cubs. As expected it had four cubs to feed. That moment I felt that either my husband or I would become their food for the daily. I wanted to save my husband and was ready to sacrifice my life. I tried to stroke the cheetah so that it would target me first and my husband could escape. It initially resisted and tried to catch my hand. We both did not feel like running for saving our lives. At this moment in time there awaited a surprise. The cheetah did not attack any of us. It quietly looked at us and calmed down. We were awestruck by the fact that a cheetah with four hungry cubs to feed did not attack us. From nowhere I had a feeling that it either saw swami in my face or Swami stopped it from attacking us.
The next scene took me to a bush in the jungle. I was hiding behind bushes to avoid lions during mid night. The next second I noticed that I was in fact sitting next to a huge shining lioness. I wondered how it did not attack and sat like a dog. I expected the lion would come anytime to attack me. The next instance a huge lion went past me without harming me. I felt so strange at the behaviour of these wild animals.
Third scene was about a cheetah that was roaming around my house and found the gate open. It tries to enter the compound. But it lied down right in front of the open gate. My heart pounded fast as I thought it might attack my neighbour or anyone else who passes by. But after sometime it vanished from the place. I also saw few rhinos which were used for safari like elephants. I saw the cheetah moving towards the other end of the jungle towards those rhinos.
What amazed me was the fact that I was put in situations where there were wild animals next to me. None of them attacked me. I felt that my faith in Swami saved me during that time. I felt there was some divine power that kept those wild animals unusually calm. Something told me that my faith in Swami has increased without me realizing it and it was an indication from Swami that the faith factor in me put the fear factor to death!..
Jai Sairam!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Almost a year later


It has almost been a year since I posted anything in this blog.Life has taken a 360 degree change. Our involvement has intensified more than what I would have dreamt of. Swami is kind enough to make us part of His mission especially my husband. His elevation in spiritual path is so surprising. The day when Swami was admitted in hospital he was offered the position of spiritual convener in the centre as the person who was in that position stepped down due to personal reasons. Srinath took over the position having only the experience of observing the happenings in the short time he involved actively. There were challenges in terms of special bhajans for Swami's health and later His passing away from physical form. He was able to overcome all odds and was managing things to the best of his abilities.

In the mean time the Chairperson of the Centre stepped down due to the pressure at work place. From nowhere Srinath's name was nominated and he was elected as Chairperson. The commitment he showed in whatever work he did earned him to lead Swami's mission. The leadership qualities which is natural in him and the good character he has are driving him well. Above all it is Swami's will and blessing that Srinath has climbed so fast in the ladder not only as a leader but as a good devotee.

I was called to assist as SSE teacher in the centre from January 2011. I attended the training sessions and with Swami's blessing I am part of the SSE wing as teacher of Group 3 children. I read a lot of materials and listened to Radio Sai programmes to share information with the children. I follow my regular appointment with Swami every morning.

With regards to my child, he wakes up however early we ask him to in terms of going to any early morning programme. Though he gets less time to play and enjoy like other children we don't have any regrets about it as he is in the company of good people and listens to good sound all the time. He has learnt all the mantras which even teenagers find difficult to pronounce and memorise. He is definitely a blessed soul to have born with Sai consciousness.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Reply to my request!

Swami has replied to my request! The days after tell sai 2010 are clear indicators of how compassionate Swami is in granting genuine wishes. My prayer to Swami was to elevate us spiritually and make us involve in service activities. By Swami's grace we are able to attend bhajans almost every week. Srinath has started singing in bhajans as a lead singer and makes serious attempts to practice them umpteen times. We understood the schedule of the service activity our center does and by His grace we as a family are able to involve in it. Until recently my husband was not a sai devotee but he was not against Swami. He used to tell that he never had an opportunity to know Swami. I used to be in a delicate position to call him for bhajans when we were in India. Swami somehow gave me courage to request him about his willingness to accompany me when we heard of a center in Midrand. The change Swami has brought in his mind cannot be explained in words. Just like the water project swami has channeled us to a defined path.

Another important thing that needs mention here is about surrender. I have read about how surrender to Swami would help us mould ourselves but I never understood it until recently when it came naturally to me. Now Swami takes care of my daily routine giving doses of bitter pills on and off for my character building and how to look things from a broader perspective. I can say for sure He has brought in lot of changes in me and now -a-days I try to practice swami's non-violence principles. I could think of all those situations that would have inflicted pain on others and I apologize for those actions. But Swami tests me as soon as I feel that I have cleared the level.
Though I have not become successful in meditation, it has become a routine along with namasmarana. I have quit coffee and tea as per Swami’s advice and I no longer crave for them. I want the hard disk "athma" in me to remember only God when I depart this world and not any unfulfilled wishes or desires which would make way for rebirth. I strongly feel that I am satisfied with what God has given me and whatever future holds I surrender to Swami with the belief that He will take care of what is needed!

Jai Sai Ram.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

List of Sai centers in Gauteng Province - South africa

I have collected the list of Sai centers in Guateng Province in South Africa with the help Sister Saloshani. Hope it reaches people in search of a center who are new to this country. All the centres have bhajans every thursday.

The chairperson of Midrand Sai is Srinath and can be contacted in 0712645745.

Region: Lenesia
Shri Sathya Sai Centre Ext 3 Lenasia      
Soobramaniar Temple
cnr Heron & Primary Streets, Ext 1 , Lenasia

Sri Sathya SaiCentre Lenasia Ext 11a
382/383  Godavari Street, Ext 11a, Lenasia

Shirdi Sai Centre
Islamabad Street, Lenasia

Region: East Rand

45 Honeysuckle Drive, Bakerton

Actonville Sivan Temple, Khan Crescent, Actonville

Kempton Park
Cresslawn Primary School, 37 Rigger Rd, Cresslawn, kempton Park

Cnr  Haggie & Main Reef Rd, Dunswart, Boksburg

Region : Johannesburg

SandtonSandown High School , cnr Grayston & Rivonia Road

RandburgAnne Harding Chesire Homes, Fourth Street Randburg

LindenMelpark Primary School 2nd Ave. Melville

Southern SuburbsMondeor Recreational Hall, Cnr Daylesford & Columbine Avenue,Mondeor

MayfairNo 1 pancras Road Homestead park

Palmridge4 Bottlebrush street Palmridge

PageviewCnr Krause & Bartlet Sts. / Pageview

JohannesburgKensington Senior Secondary School,Protea st,Kensington

JHB NorthHA Jack School, Jauncey Street, Highlands North

Kingfisher2809 Kingfisher St, Lenasia South

Ext 4Tygerberg Street, Ext 4, Lenasia South

Region : Pretoria

Heuweloord Heuweloord Community Hall, Wildeperske St, heuweloord

MidrandHalfway house primary school, Midrand

Laudiumlaudium Primary School, Cnr Carmine St & 15th Ave, Laudium

Pretoria EastTheosophical Society, 2 Esselen Street, Trevenna, Pretoria

Wingate ParkPretoria chinese School, Halse Street, Wingate Park, Pta East

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My way of looking at baba

Baba is always looked at as a man of miracles. I feel the miracles draw one's attention towards him. Once into the stream of Sai the development of self discipline improves. Thanks to radio sai. Now we are able to listen to the voice of baba. Listening of his discourses has become a mouse click away. The request He makes is to follow the principles and path He shows us. Swami says one need not run behind him. He would follow those people who listen to his words and act accordingly. Chanting mantras/ reading scriptures will not make one great. Doing service to the needy and society is equally important. He started his mission as a 14 year old boy without money in hand. Now the service he does to the society is enormous. He emphasizes that love is important to serve the society and not money. The transformation he brings in the minds of youngsters and educating them to serve the society is making me awe. One can be proud to say that they are students of God's own university. There is a peace revolution on progress in Prashanthi nilayam and among his devotees. The discipline is not imposed on the devotees. It is developed by the devotee himself that is why it lasts wherever they are. Swami says not everyone understands or asks what he has come to offer us. He says people ask for promotions, wealth etc., and those coming unto him asking for spiritual excellence is handful. I have felt people would spend time gossiping but not in introspection which is what Baba asks us to do. Swami says "I am God and so are you. I have realized it and want you also to realize it". Destroying hatred and developing love with everyone is his mantra to all of us. Only those who have developed a heart to heart connection with him can understand him. For such h2h connection one must try to become a better human being!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Akhanda bhajan

In the month of November on the second saturday-sunday akhanda bhajans are carried out globally on all sai centers. This means a continuous session of bhajan for 24 hours.
Here is a collection of details about Akanda bhajan:
The Bhajans (spiritual songs) start with the lighting of the Akhanda Jyoti (the sacred lamp) that is kept continuously burning for 24 hours."

Akhanda bhajan involves constant contemplation on God in the morning, evening, and even during the night. It is constant contemplation on God during all three states: the waking, dream, and deepsleep states.

As part of the birthday celebrations of Bhagawan Baba, on the second Saturday-Sunday in November, Bhajans (devotional singing) are conducted continuously for 24 hours at all Sathya Sai Centres on a global level praying for peace, harmony and bliss to all mankind.

This is being done not for the sake of one individual, one nation or one community. It is for the welfare of humanity as a whole. The bhajans that are sung permeate the ether in the form of sound waves and fill the entire atmosphere. Thereby, the whole environment is purified. Breathing in this purified atmosphere, our hearts get purified. The Akhanda Bhajan should make devotees feel their unity with the Divine and, at the emotional level, and fill them with love for entire mankind

3. About the origin of Akhanda Bhajan:

Story of Sri Seshagiri Rao and Sunderamma:

When Swami was still a young boy, Sri Seshagiri Rao, his daughter Sunderamma and her mother-in-law and her six-year old daughter went to Puttaparthi to visit a relative named Karnam Subbamma. This lady had figured prominently in Sri Sathya Sai Baba's early life since it was she who had first helped to organize bhajans when Swami first announced himself at the age of 14. The family was called in for interview and after materializing vibhuti for the ladies, and sweets for the gents, Swami asked what Sundaramma wanted. She was very shy, but Swami knew her heart, and said `Ah, so you yet want a son? Yes, a son is coming. Be happy.'

That prediction soon came to pass, and the family became frequent visitors to Parthi. On one of those trips to Puttaparthi, Sunderamma was alone in her room with her baby boy who had a slight tempearture. After the thermometer was inserted in his mouth, she sat for a moment looking at the child, and recalling what Swami had said at their first meeting. Yes a son is coming- be happy. In that reverie, she turned her face to the light from the window, and looked outside at the monkeys nearby. In that quiet time alone she was thinking about Swami's recent announcement that he would protect the devotee as the eyelid protects the eye.

Then suddenly she heard a sound of glass breaking and turned to the child in his bed. The two-year old baby boy had bitten through the thermometer and the mother saw the shards being swallowed by the infant. Prying open the tender mouth, she saw blood and screamed. The family was frantic as they rushed in to help. As if from next door Swami, without a word, came to them and massaged the baby's stomach. He looked at the mother and smiled. `Like the eyelid protects the eye,' she thought.

As quickly as he had come, Swami left. Picking up her child, the mother was astonished to find the mercury and glass bits which she had seen in the mouth, now under the baby boy's blanket.

Thought about Akhanda bhajan

Nine families started an Akhanda Bhajan Mandali in 1944. They had bhajans every thursday evening regularly. After this, Sunderamma began regular weekly bhajan meetings in her own native place, all with great dedication and without interruption for an entire year.

In 1946 her father, Sehagiri Rao, thought they should celebrate the completion of the year of bhajan-singing in suitable style. Each member of the family thought up a different way to celebrate the anniversary in befitting manner, but it was Seshagiri Rao's idea that was adopted: uninterrupted bhajans for one whole day and one whole night. They would begin by lighting a Jyothi in Swami's honour, and then sing nonstop for 24 hours.


The decision having been taken, they got down to planning the performance at their house -- which songs to sing, what prasadam to distribute, pooling of resources to obtain the ingredients of the prasadam. (This was particularly difficult as, in those days, there was rationing of rice and a system had to be worked out for cash or kind to gain enough foodstuffs for the party). After making all the preliminary arrangements, father and daughter went to Puttaparthi to announce their intention to Sri Sathya Sai Baba. He was very happy to hear of their plans and responded, "I have come only for the sake of my devotees. Go ahead with the AKHANDA BHAJANS. I myself will come, and be with you throughout the singing."

Sunderamma was startled at that, since up to that moment they had planned only a very simple celebration. But, if Sri Sathya Sai Baba was himself going to attend, then she felt she ought to make more elaborate arrangements. But Swami told her not to fear, he himself would see that all went well. He asked where she had planned the meeting, and then suggested instead she book a place in town for the `akhanda bhajan', so that all those who wanted to attend could do so more conveniently. He also advised her to ask other devotees to assist in helping her make the arrangements. Sunderamma was in a quandary at this unexpected turn of events. To cope with an occasion such as it was turning out to be was a gigantic task in those days when even transportation was very difficult.

Preparation of food:

She did contact other devotees and together all arranged for the hall, but she herself felt it was her responsibility to prepare the food for the group. She calculated that about a hundred regular devotees might turn up for bhajans and so had PRASADAM prepared for that number. Little did she know that the crowd would continue to grow as the hours passed. As the crowd passed two hundred persons, Sunderamma became anxious about how she would provide enough PRASADAM to go round. At that late date it was impossible to acquire more food, all her friends had already used what rations were available, and since rationing was so strictly

enforced, she feared that nothing could be done.

Lighting of Akhanda Jyothi:

As the hour approached to begin the festivity, Swami entered the hall. In his presence, PUJA to Sri Shirdi Sai Baba's and Sri Sathya Sai Baba's images was performed under a gaily bedecked floral canopy. Sri Sathya Sai Baba materialised a silver figurine of Sri Shirdi Sai Baba to keep beside a large bust of Sri Shirdi Sai Baba especially made for that occasion. Then, with circular movements of his hand, He produced 108 golden flowers for the PUJA. After ARCHANA (Offering with MANTRAS) of rare flowers, Seshagiri Rao performed PAADA PUJA (worship of the feet) to Sri Sathya Sai Bba and lighted the AKHAND JYOTI (everlasting flame) at that first ever akhanda BHAJAN meeting.

Sundaeramma’s worry:

Sunderamma then touched his feet and Swami sensed she had a question. He lowered his head to her ear and said `Yes Daughter, what is troubling you?' She requested Sri Sathya Sai Baba to come into the kitchen. He did as she asked and in the kitchen he carefully looked at each dish she had prepared, and so realized her concern that there was not enough food for all those who had come. He then smiled at her and loudly said "AKSHAYA" thrice, sprinkled water on the food and simply left the kitchen. Bhajans began immediately. Sunderamma did not know what to think, but realizing she had done all she could do, she surrendered to what must come.

Swami’s miracle :

Bhajans continued for several hours and as the evening progressed, devotees would come into the kitchen for refreshment, and be served by Sunderamma. That day from the food she herself had prepared for a hundred pesons, she easily fed several thousand people, even generously. The pots containing the PRASADAM simply never became empty! At last as the 24 hours came to a close, Sunderamma entreated Sri Sathya Sai Baba to let the pots be empty and only then did the food supply decrease.Later when she told this story, Sunderamma said "Such was the nature of Swami's blessing that it ensured an unending stream of food". The event was truly remarkable. Many of the guests were totally unaware of this miracle, and assumed foodstuffs had been provided by some wealthy devotee.

That first meeting where the Jyothi lighting was organized by Seshagiri Rao, has led to the lighting of thousands of other JYOTIS on AKHANDA BHAJAN day in SAI SAMITHI BHAJAN centers throughout the world. Though Seshagiri Rao is no more, Sri Sathya Sai Baba Himself recalled his contribution on one such occasion, by referring to him as "the devotee who was the first to light a JYOTI to Swami."

Akhanda bhajan Prasanthi Nilayam 13 November 2007

One has to understand what is meant by “akhandabhajan”. There are two kinds of bhajans.
One is khanda bhajan and the other is akhanda bhajan. Khanda bhajan is for a specific time, for example, the bhajans held for a limited period either in the morning or evening.
On the other hand, akhanda bhajan involves constant contemplation on God in the morning, evening, and even during the night. It is constant contemplation on God during all three states: the waking, dream, and deepsleep states. It is “sarvada sarvakaleshu sarvathra harichintanam”.
Suppose you are watching a clock. There are three hands in the clock: the second hand, the minute hand, and the hour hand. The second hand is the longest, the minute hand is slightly shorter, and the hour hand is the shortest of the three. When the second hand crosses sixty spaces, the minute hand moves forward one space. When the minute hand crosses sixty spaces, the hour hand moves forward one space. Which one of these three hands is important? Undoubtedly, the hour hand is important. On the same analogy, doing namasmarana and bhajan only in the morning and evening is like the second hand. The divine Name is highly potent. Each one of the several names of God has one type of power specific to it. If you wish to make good use of this power and derive lasting benefit out of it, you have to participate in akhanda bhajan.