A Gift OF Love…From Little Hearts That Beat For God

And so Christmas celebrations spilled over into Boxing Day. ‘Boxing Day’…the day following the sacred Advent of Christ, received this title perhaps way back during the 17th century, when those that were affluent, keeping in mind the spirit of Christmas, were generous in giving gift boxes to those that had served them. Another theory to this tradition shows that those that were economically challenged in mediaeval England saved money through the year in earthenware boxes, only to be broken up during this time, to share the funds for Christmas Festivities.

…And so, keeping with tradition…these little hearts opened for all devotees that had gathered, a gigantic ‘box’ of surprises on this Boxing Day. It was indeed an electrifying performance, spectacular in every way, that not only enthralled the gathering but touched the core of each heart.

Teardrops glistened in the eyes,
As we realize,
Only You, Beloved Bhagawan,
Can touch these little hearts,
In the amazing way You have already done,
Only You can make them feel love so pure,
Only You can make them so confident and sure,
Only You can make these buds the most fragrant delight,
Only You can make these little stars shimmer so bright,
Only You, Sweet Lord,
Only You can make them true reflections of Your radiant light…

Alma Badings, seasoned face conducting Children Choir for many years once again took the reins and as she moved her finger baton, innocent hearts and minds burst into singing, producing a most memorable Boxing Day evening in Prasanthi Nilayam, on 26th December 2011. At the intervels, between choir singing, selected children from different parts of the world reflected on their rich loving experience with Bhagawan during Christmas times, earlier years. This part of the programme was  coordinated and directed by Victoria Hargreaves ably assisted by Phyllis Wohlberg.

This musical program saw the participation of children from many countries. It was an offering to Beloved Swami in loving remembrance. The Program began with Bhagawan’s statement – “Light the way for the children of all lands into the glorious region of everlasting joy.” 

These exquisitely perfumed blossoms, most refined young minds, truly feel that – “Swami wants each one of us to continue to live our lives according to His teachings and carry on His Divine Mission, His gift of Love.”

The music was rhythmic and lilting, the voices sweet and melodious, the devotion ever so earnest and touching, the performance absolutely stirring and skilled. The harmony that these little angels portrayed is an example for older people all over the world to inculcate.

Sharing divine Christmas experiences, in between meaningful choir songs, they succeeded in bringing a warm glow to the body, mind and soul.

Beginning with an ode to Ganesha, the charming voices invoked their Guru – Sathya Sai Gurudeva, the Light in everyone, to lead and guide, to destroy the darkness of the night, allowing them to twirl in His dance of light.

They let the audience know through songs that had wondrous lyrics that they were the ‘Children of Mother Sai’, Children of Paradise; encouraging all to ‘Start the day with Love’; believing ‘We are fountains of Love’, full of bliss and happiness, let our lives be a stream of pure love, then one day it merges in the Ocean of love.

Sai Kulwant Hall reverberated with ‘You raise me up’, To walk on stormy seas, I am strong my Sai, When You are with me, You raise me up to all I can be, Each longing heart is waiting for You, And when You come our hearts are full of wonder, Sometimes we think we glimpse eternity.

A lesson for all and all times there was as the young ones made a harmonious appeal – For The Children, Save the trees, Save the rocks and hills, Save the seas, We must strive to save the planet and commit to its rebirth, We must do it for the children, Save the Earth, We are the guardians of the planet, We commit to its rebirth, We are keepers of the future, We hold it in our hands, We must ever strive to save this wondrous land; stressing their point they went  on to sing a message loud and clear, reiterating Beloved Bhagawan’s maxim of a Brotherhood of Man – We Are The World, we are the children, we are the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving, There’s a choice we are making, we are saving our own lives, It’s true we will make a brighter day, Just you and me…There comes a time when we hear a certain call, When the world must come together as one….Let us realize the change will come when we stand together as one.  

Traditional carols too were sung with praise, worship and glory to sweet Jesus – the Compassionate and merciful son of God.

The lines of the famed Jingle Bells was adapted to ‘Oh what fun it is to ride to Sailand on this day, Sathya Sai, Sathya Sai, Sathya all the way…Arriving at Prasanthi, Lord Ganesha greeting us, What better way to start our trip, Ganesha guides the way…Dashing down the hills to Sailand on this day…

Many wonderful Christmas experiences were received from Sai Spiritual Education students and Sai School students, though all their experiences are being acknowledged, due to time and space constraints only few could be allowed expression.

Let us meander through some of these miniature streams that bubble forth with great gusto enriching all lives that they touch.

Wonderful excerpts from some of these personal experiences with Swami that these young ones were fortunate to experience so early in life.

Ananya Goyal shared her experience of a ‘Christmas Morning’ – I am waiting and waiting with a feeling of anxiousness! I stare into the palms of my hands. They are sweaty, sweaty damp form waiting in anxiety.
I look up gazing into the Christmas morning sky.
The pinkish orange clouds hovering above the ground are waiting too. The bright Sun is also waiting.
We are all waiting – waiting to see the face of our Beloved Lord.

When the world sees His face, everything will start.
The creeks will flow rapidly, the wind will blow, the earth will smile. Then the Lord will show His Divine Grace.
We were waiting to go inside the Ashram Hall. I moved inside and sat down slowly. I must have waited for five hours!

And then I saw the most beautiful Person on Earth, only a few yards away: Sri Sathya Sai Baba! He came in His chair, wearing a white robe, smiling at all the waiting people. My heart leapt! I felt it pounding right through my chest.

He had smiled in my direction!

Interspersed with the choir singing we now hear Kanha Kumar talking about – ‘My Best Christmas Ever’.
Last year I was extremely blessed by our Divine Master, Mother Sai, to get an opportunity to be part of the International Children’s Drama, “The Spirit of Christmas” in Prasanthi Nilayam, the most sacred place on earth.

Children from all over the world flocked to this tiny spiritual hamlet to be part of the Christmas celebrations.
A stream of love flowed between all the people from many different countries on this holy ground. There was such a feeling of oneness. We were picked up or dropped off at rehearsals by any one of the parents. Each one’s mum or dad would treat everyone’s child as their own. Where else can one experience such warmth and caring? The feeling of unity and love was so apparent.

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At last came the evening I was waiting for. Swami entered the hall with a huge smile. He came to right where I was sitting and paused exactly there. My heart almost stopped! I sat motionless with my back straight and my arms folded in prayer. Suddenly, He threw a packet of vibhuti towards me. I reached out to catch it, but the boy next to me caught it first. Then Swami threw another packet for a second time and said, “This one is for you.” A huge magical feeling lit up inside me. It was as if someone had turned on the switch inside. I was so delighted! Throughout the course of the drama, I could still hear the exact words that Swami said to me.

At the end of our performance, we were blessed to get a photograph with the Lord Himself, which I will cherish all my life. In retrospect, the whole experience was extraordinary. Although we were from different countries and faiths we joined hands to sing Swami’s glory and perform for Him.

Soon it was time to hear Eshvan Ravishankar’s – A Life Changing Experience.
Swami came into my life when I was around five years old, and I was lucky to start Balvikas at the age of six.

Throughout these precious years, my mum had very strong faith and never wavered even when asked the most difficult questions. Our dad did not believe in Swami and just called Him a normal man or a messenger. He said that we would never step foot in Puttaparthi.

Thanks to Swami, my dad had a change of heart and we first went to see Swami in December 2006. It was a beautiful experience and since then we have been blessed to come to Prasanthi Nilayam every Christmas and participate in the Children’s Choir.

For me, Christmas 2008 was a life changing experience. When we were in the London Airport, I said to my mum that this year was going to be special. I guess that was my heart talking. I started to pray very, very hard for Swami’s special blessings. I had an important exam in January 2009 and really needed Swami’s blessings to boost my confidence.

I prayed to Swami to give me Padanamaskar. I prayed from my heart continuously everyday because that is where Swami resides. The performance day arrived. I was tense but excited. We all sat down in Sai Kulwant Hall, and as I touched the cold stone floor, I seemed to get even more nervous. Finally Swami came. My heart started pounding. As I started singing, my nervousness eventually went away. I was singing my heart out to Swami.

We were approaching the end of the program. I started to pray.  To my astonishment, Swami signaled to His student to take Him down to where we were sitting. This was something new for the International Children’s Choir. When Swami came down, it felt as if my heart had skipped a beat. He was so loving, so beautiful, and He glowed with a yellow aura, like sunshine. How could I ever forget His beautiful smile, bright orange robe and lotus feet? Finally it was my turn to take Padanamaskar. I felt overjoyed and ecstatic. This special experience brought me closer to Swami and made me realize so many things that I wouldn’t have known or even dreamt of. Swami, I will always love You!!

Soon nine year old Jhyni Ravishankar was regaling the gathering with ‘My Special Blessing’.
In 2008 I had a special blessing from Swami. I was chosen to give Him a flower. I felt over the moon and ecstatic. I was jumping up and down.  I couldn’t wait for the day.

The day finally came and I sat there eagerly waiting for the moment. There I was standing next to Swami! He lovingly smiled at me and I gave the flower to Him. He took the flower from my hand and spoke with His loving voice. Swami asked me, “What is your name?” I said, “Jhyni.” He smiled. I kept staring at Him. I completely forgot to take Padanamaskar.

Before I went to give the flower to Swami, my mum reminded me about hundred times that I should take Padanamaskar! All knowing Swami knew my mum’s wish. He kept pointing with His hand for me to take His Padanamaskar, but Swami was so beautiful that I kept on staring at Him. Finally, Swami ‘asked’ me if I wanted to take Padanamaskar. Only then did I remember and touch His Lotus Feet. I will remember this beautiful experience my whole life! I am so grateful to my loving Mother Sai.

He Is With Us All is what Suhas Subramanya had to say.
Swami has been with me all my life, helping me, inspiring me, listening to me and guiding me. He has always helped me in times of trouble and embraced me with His Grace. He has helped me choose my friends and be patient with my family. He has also helped me understand that Christmas is a time to share and care for everyone. He helped me understand that His teachings and Jesus’s teachings are one and the same. Both Swami and Jesus taught us to show love and compassion to all those in need.

In 2007 , we did a drama called “The Boy Jesus”. When it was over, Swami pointed to me and I immediately went to Him. In His ever loving voice, He asked my name and about my family. I answered His questions and He nodded and sent me away. As I walked down the beautiful steps, I realized that I should respectfully bid Him farewell, so I rushed back. Suddenly He whirled His hand in a circular clockwise motion and a magnificent chain with a shining pendent appeared out of His palm! He put the chain around my neck. After that Swami nodded and I went back to my seat. When I was fortunate to share these priceless precious moments with Swami, I experienced a range of emotions like joy, excitement and astonishment. Emotions like anger, greed, hatred, fear, sorrow and pain immediately melted away, while my heart was filled with love, compassion, peace, faith and joy.

This last Easter, just a couple of days after Swami took His Mahasamadhi, I had an amazing dream. I found myself in a room where bhajans were going on. A blue light was fluttering around but no one seemed to notice. I caught the blue light in my both my hands and closed them tightly around it. I then heard the light calling my name and I slowly opened my hands to see. And the blue light spoke to me. It said, “Suhas remember, I am always there, whether I am in My body or not. I am always there for you.” I opened my hands and the blue light spread out everywhere becoming a brilliant golden light. I know that Swami is here in my heart and that He is with us all everywhere now and forever.

Nikhila and Nilesh Rao, ten year old twins then spoke referring to Bhagawan as – “Our Very Special Friend.”
There is Someone above us who is very special and who loves us very much. Whenever we see His picture, we smile and He smiles back to us. Throughout the whole day His divine name and lovely face comes to our minds. He brings beautiful radiance to us. He answers our questions and prayers. He makes us very confident and happy. We feel He is our Mother, Father, Teacher and Friend. We hold on to His hand knowing deeply in our hearts He will never let us go. We sing to Him and He listens to us. We feel His extraordinary grace. His sweet smile and eyes remind us that He will never leave us.  He is with us and is sitting in the very temple of our hearts. He has given us the most precious gift –The Gift Of Love. He is our most Beloved, the Lord of the Universe – Bhagawan Sri sathya Sai Baba. We love Him so much!

Swami has graced us with His wonderful blessings from the time we were born. When we were only a year old , Swami graciously called our family and blessed both of us. That day in January 2003, Swami called it the ‘twin day’ because He called us in the morning and then He called the Australian ‘pink twins’ in the evening.

Since that time, we have been visiting Swami every December during Christmas and were very fortunate to receive His Divine Blessings.  On one of those occasions when we were six years old Swami asked us what we were learning in SSE class. We recited the five human values: Love, Peace, Truth, Right Conduct and Non Violence. Swami was patiently listening and then asked us what they meant. Both of us replied by giving the meanings. Swami smiled at us lovingly and said, “Very good. Keep learning and be good examples. I will always be with you.” We will cherish these memories forever.

On this special holy day of Christmas, let us make Swami proud and let our lives be His message. Let us all help and love one another because this gives us a warm and wonderful feeling.
Let us share precious gifts of love with everyone. Everyday should be special and celebrated like Christmas with joy and love. We love You, dear Swami.

Always in My Heart is how ten year old Darnel Perera experiences Beloved Bhagawan, while going on to affirm that Christmas 2010 was the best. When it was time for the play, Swami said, “Tomorrow.” While most others were in tears, Darnel stayed strong and believed in ‘tomorrow’ for that was Swami’s word.

Darnel also expresses that another time at age eight when they enacted a play in the Divine Presence on the life of Jesus, Swami loved it! “When it was time to take the picture with Swami, He held my hand. His hand was so soft. That’s another time I will never forget.

Swami is everywhere. I feel that He is right next to me, guiding me. Thank You for everything Swami. You’re always in my heart.”

Sariah Parera too conveys confidently – He Is With Me Every Day.
The first time I did a play in front of Swami, I was five. I played an angel. I felt shy, but when it was over I was glad I was in the play because He gave me a saree. I could tell He loved the play. When I left India, I was very sad.

One year later, my parents told me that I was going to be in another play in front of Swami. I was so excited. I got to be an angel this time too.

The next play I did, I played Cinderella. I did not get a big part, but I know I was a big part to Swami. I will remember this trip because the first night Swami did not let us do the play in front of Him, but He called me up and gave me a vibhuti packet! We got to do the play the next night.

I will always remember what He has done for me. He has given me love. He has made me a better person. He is with me every day, guiding me to the right thing in my life. I know for sure because He comes in my dreams. Swami, thanks for all the loving memories. I love You very much!

These special children are truly enveloped in the spirit of the season, the joy of giving, of sharing and caring, the real meaning of Christmas. Though tender in age their thoughts are boundless and free, fragrant with the compassion of Christ…the essence of Beloved Bhagawan.
Truly an enchanting evening and an enlightening one too!

There comes a time when we hear a certain call…when the world must come together as one…there are people dying and it’s time to lend a hand – to life, the greatest gift of all…We can’t go on pretending day by day that someone somewhere will soon make the change…We are all part of God’s great big family…and the truth you know, Love is all we need…We are the World…we are the children…we are saving our own lives…let us realize that the change will only come when we stand together as one…giving and receiving Love…for Love is the greatest gift of all.

Our Beloved Lord has bestowed this great gift of love upon us so abundantly…come let life be an endless celebration of the spirit of Christmas…saturated with pure unconditional love and the Compassion of Christ.

II Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II