Maha Shivaratri in Prasanthi Nilayam…

Maha Shivaratri has a rich legacy in Prasanthi with Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai, The Prime Sai Incarnation featuring Lord Shiva and Shakti in one frame, giving a rare boost to the festivity blessing the occasion celebrating every year with much religions fervour. …And thus the festivity has been among the most spiritually signifying events in the festive-galore Prasanthi Nilayam. The festivity had a unique trail to this Divine Abode that dated back to the early 1940s when the Master Indweller of this Home of Supreme Peace, had come out with the most significant declaration after the times of Bhagawan Sri Krishna, revealing The Sai Advent. Over the years Shivarathri in the immediate Divine Presence of Lord Shiva Himself was the uniqueness of the festivity in Prasanthi Nilayam.

As the auspicious morning dawned in this spiritual township, Prasanthi turned resplendent charged with Divine vibrations. Colourful parasols added beauty to the resplendent Sai Kulwant Hall, and the Sanctum Sanctorum had an added splendour with the special Seat Of The Divine adorning the centre. The Seat was covered from the top with a golden-silver umbrella, signifying the custom, umbrella over the deity.

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The morning programme began with the University Percussion Band of Nadaswaram and Panchavadyam, playing for half-an-hour heralding the auspiciousness of the occasion, while Veda chanting continued as scheduled, till 0830 hrs.

At 0830 hrs. beginning with offerings to Lord Rudra as Sai Easwara, boys began their rendition with Vishwanathashtakam followed by Lingashtakam and many other hymns that included some scintillating Carnatic pieces, lasted an hour. Some of the musical pieces were, “Charanom Mein Rakhle Oh Sai Baba…”, “Deva Deva Yama Raajitha Vanditha…”, “Sai Naatham…” a tamil carnatic piece etc.. Bhajans continued for next twenty minutes and special prasadam was distributed to the entire audience. Tiny tots from the Primary School made a beeline to the Divine Lotus Feet offering handy-work of Love at their Beloved Swami. Mangala Arathi was offered at 0950 hrs.

In the evening, the highlight was an auspicious “Maha Rudrabhishekam” to the sanctified Sayeeswara Lingam in the Sanctum Sanctorum in Sai Kulwant Hall prior to the commencement of Akhanda Bhajan.

The Sayeeshwara Lingam was sanctified by the Divine Hands during the epochal Ati Rudra Maha Yajnam in the year 2006.

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The proceedings began at 1610 hrs. with a procession carrying the “Sayeeswara Lingam” to the venue in Sai Kulwant Hall. Mounted on an elevated platform, decorated with flowers, mango leaves and banana stumps, Mahaganapathi Prarthana and Swasthi Punyaha and Avahana (purificatory rites) followed for the next five minutes before the commencement of Maha Rudrabhishekam.

The abhishekam was performed with eighteen different items and was officiated by Prof. Nanjunda Dixit, who was the Chief Priest for the Ati Rudra Maha Yajnam in Prasanthi Nilayam. The eighteen items offered to the Lingam are: milk, curd, ghee, honey, sugar, gandham, five types of cut fruits, five types of dry fruits, tender coconut water, special flowers, akshata, vibhuti, rudraksha leaves, sacred grass, gold, turmeric, kumkum and pure water.

As the Abhishekam with various items progressed, by the Chief Priest assisted by a set of four priests, chanting of Namakam and Chamakam continued.

Alankaram, decorating the Lingam, followed along with Sri Sathya Sai Ashtothara  Namavali followed by Sri Shiva Ashtothara chantings.

Dhoop (Fragrance) Arathi, Offering of Naivedyam and Ashirvachana, seeking blessings from The Lord, followed before Mangala Arathi offering to Sayeeshwara Lingam.

The Maha Rudrabhishekam was conducted for World Peace and the whole proceedings lasted ninety minutes.

Divine discourse exhorting the esoteric significance of the auspicious night was played for the next fifteen minutes before the commencement of the Akhanda Bhajan. Bhagawan’s discourse ended with His favourite Bhajan, “Prema Muditha Manase Kaho…” that marked the beginning of the Akhanda Bhajan.

Night-long Shivarathri Vigil continued with enthusiastic students along with various groups leading the bhajans throughout the night. There was a good turnout of devotees during the entire night and Sai Kulwant was vibrant with devotional singing. Simultaneously, a group of students was engaged in chanting Namakam eleven times, infusing added life into the Night Vigil.

At the scheduled hour at 0600 am final bhajans was played, a recorded mellifluous piece from Bhagawan “Subramaniam Subramaniam…” bringing nostalgic memories of His physical presence, when He would often sing Divine Melodies at the end of His Divine discourses.

Mangla Arathi offering was followed by serving sanctified Prasadam, tamarind Rice and sweet pudding, to the entire assembly of devotees bringing curtains down on yet another glorious Maha Shivarathri in Prasanthi Nilayam.

II Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II