Memorable Christmas in Prasanthi Nilayam

Come Christmas and there is joy everywhere! Holy Christmas has a rich tradition in Prasanthi Nilayam, The Abode of Highest Peace. Traversing through the Sai Saga, the festivity earned its due Divine splendour, as in Prasanthi it has always been Christmas with Holy Father!!!

This year’s Christmas became a unique event at Prasanthi Nilayam when thousands of devotees from across the world celebrated the festivity in the ‘Holy Presence of Bhagawan’ in the spirit of unity and love. Delivering His Christmas Discourse, recorded version of the epochal Divine Discourse delivered during Christmas 1996, Bhagawan revealed some unknown facets of the Son of God, Jesus. This was the occasion when Bhagawan materialized a miniature version of the Holy Bible.

Carol Singing in the Early Hours…
The programme on the holy morning commenced at 0630 hrs. with overseas devotees singing Christmas Carols at the Sanctum Sanctorum in the Sai Kulwant Hall.

Singing the glory of the Holy Silent Night, announcing the arrival of the Saviour Jesus, the group of over 100 choristers from overseas sang a full half-an-hour on the Christmas morning. “…Glories stream from heaven afar, Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia, Christ the Saviour is born, Christ the saviour is born…”, sang the choristers narrating the joyous earthly scene at the time of the Holy Advent.

The songs were Silent Night…, We Three Kings…, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear…, O Holy Night…, What Child is This…, Joy to the World – sing twice…, O Come All Ye Faithful…, The First Noel…, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing…, Go Tell it on the Mountain…, Little Drummer Boy…, Angels We Have Heard on High…, Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee…, Jingle Bells…, Feliz Navidad, We Wish you a Merry Christmas…etc. and ended with the Universal Prayer, Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu…

Christmas Singing by Students…
Next session commenced at 0830 hrs. and saw the students from the Institute singing Holy Christmas hymns. Earlier a group of little musicians belonging to the Violin Band of Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School played some melodious Christmas tunes, commencing the session. The efforts of these little children are worth mentioning as they learned the art of playing violin on Skype over the internet with an accomplished trainer Al Levy guiding and training them. The children played for fifteen minutes and the numbers included “Love Is My Form…” and “Jingle Bell…” and also included some familiar bhajan tunes.

Lifting the spirits from the slow soothing violin to the fast paced beats of percussions, the Institute Brass Band presented a scintillating display of Band Music, playing for the next ten minutes. The Brass Band from Prasanthi Nilayam Campus has always been an integral part of the Christmas celebrations and this year too they excelled with high beat music reverberating entire Prasanthi. The Band played Silent Night, Rudolph the Red Rose Rein deer, Little Drummer and two varied versions of Jingle Bell…

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The final session of the morning programme was a presentation of a bouquet of traditional Christmas Songs and Carols by the students from the Institute.

Invoking Bhagawan, offering every note of their performance at His Lotus Feet, students began the Christmas offering in traditional Indian style, with three Omkars…Singing for the next fifty minutes, interspersed with commentary elucidating on the greater significance, narrating the beauty of the holy scenes from Bethlehem at the time of The Advent, they produced a total of eight songs, that included, We Wish You a Merry Christmas…, Love From Heaven…, Jesus Is Alive Today…, Gloria – We Three Kings…, God Is The Strength…, As We Worship You…, I Will Sing…, Sing For Joy…etc.. As the songs went on, two little Santas from the Higher Seconday Division emerged, moving among spreading spreading chocolate joy to one and all.

The evening programme commenced at 1700 hrs. with Christmas International Committee Chairman John Behner introducing the speakers for the evening. Introducing the speakers Mr. Behner thanked the Croatian led decoration team as well as Indonesian devotees for their efforts in the western canteen in providing sumptuous Christmas dinner.

The first speaker for the evening was Ms. Sylvia Alden. Sylvia Alden has been the programme coordinator for the International Christmas Choir group for several years. She comes from a fundamental Christian background. There was a time when she was an atheist and then an agnostic. A friend had given her some vibuthi to taste and she couldn’t shake off the taste even several days later despite everything she had consumed. Sylvia has come a long way since then despite many skeptics advising her that she has “no need for an Indian Guru!”

Sylvia began speaking with her first ever eye-to-eye with The Lord Incarnate and her sudden transformation from being a skeptic to a believer. That was the beginning of her spiritual journey, under the patronage of Beloved Bhagawan.

Elucidating on the beauty and love of Beloved Bhagawan, Sylvia posed a question, …what else we could ask for when He has given us everything…? Speaking on the Love of Swami, the speaker narrated some of the most wonderful moments she had with Bhagawan, wherein she learned many a lesson, over the years ever since she came into His fold in the year 1978. “When He is foremost in your mind…He is foremost in your heart and when He is foremost in your heart…you have Joy…Joy…Joy” concluded the speaker receiving round of applause from the audience.

The second speaker, Mr. Arthur Hillcoat, fondly referred to as the “Lion” by Swami, because of his distinguished white beard for a mane, relayed a message of a more serious nature. Referring to Bhagawan the speaker stressed on the importance of understanding the mighty benevolence of His being with us and to follow His teachings…

Referring to the trials and tribulations that he had to face in his early years, the speaker said, he would often wonder, why me, my Lord? and this disgusted feeling took Him to inquest about his real being that led Him to the Mighty Lord. Speaking from a higher level of wisdom, referring to what he learnt from His own experience with Bhagawan, Hillcoat said, all that we see around is nothing but a projection upon the screen of consciousness. In this great play of consciousness once we are aware of our own reality, we will be unaffected with all happenings. Hillcoat further advised the assemblage of devotees to seek the Truth as to “what is the purpose of our existence?” One must make efforts to go through the trials and tribulations to find out this Truth. From understanding one should shift to ‘inner standing’ delving deep inside.

Be the Love that you are…and one should make efforts to be that…as this won’t come on a platter. We must make efforts to know the Truth.

You are Love…You are Divine Love…You are Divinity…Rama, God, consciousness, the Self are all synonymous….enjoy this great play…it’s a wonderful one…we should be happy when we suffer pain, with grief or loss or hardship…as it is debt that stops us from Sai… may you in course of time know the Truth, concluded Hillcoat.

What followed next was an excerpt of the Divine Discourse delivered over 15 years ago, during Christmas 1996.

Excerpts from Christmas Divine Discourse 1996
Giving an account of the Jewish concept of the creation, of the cosmos and referring to the birth of Jesus as the son of Mary and Joseph, Bhagawan spoke about the evolution of the little boy to ‘The Messenger of God”. Materialising a miniature version of Holy Bibile, that the Russians preserved in a safe place on the Black Sea cost, Bhagawan revealed that the contents of the book could not be found anywhere else, including in the prevalent Bible. Many unknown, unheard, untold stories of birth related to Jesus was revealed by Bhagawan in this Divine discourse.

It is not open to all to understand the ways of the Lord. To know about God one has to develop Godly feelings. In this book, there are bookmark threads which distinguish every faith by a shloka relating to it. There is one page which contains the shloka from the Bhagavat Gita in which Krishna exhorts Arjuna to give up all beliefs and take sole refuge in Him and assured Arjuna that thereafter he will absolve Arjuna of all the sins.

The essence of all creeds is one and the same thing. Man’s primary duty is to surrender to God. “Surrender” means attaining the state in which the devotee feels he is one with God. This feeling arises out of the conviction that the same divinity is present in all. Bodies of human beings are varied like bulbs, but the current passing through them is the same. The colour of the bulbs or their wattage may vary. But the current activating them is the same.

Divinity is One…Ekoham Bahusyam…this book contains the Truth that God is only One, present in everyone. Never follow the differences basing on the differences of the body; there is no scope of conflicts; it is the body attachment that is responsible for conflicts…do not follow the body, do not follow the mind, follow the conscience, said Bhagawan referring to the contents given in the materialized miniature version of Bible.

Two bhajans that followed the Divine Discourse Hari Bhajana Bina…and Love is My form…came like a soothing balm to the audience that felt the absence of His physical form.

Prof. Anil Kumar made the concluding remarks, thanking the speakers, and paying gratitude to Bhagawan for making Christmas a grant success.

The session ended with Mangala Arathi.

II Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II