The Tree of knowledge
On April 24th, the day Bhagavan withdrew from His body… see that date as the day of transcendence. It was the transcendence of Divinity over the body, mind and intellect. He transcended all limitations of space and time, and is now all-encompassing and universal. He is no longer limited to the physical frame.
It is in this context that we should know a few fundamental points relating to an Avatar or Divine Incarnation. We humans lead life-after-life because of our karma (the effect of our thoughts, words, and actions, which must still be experienced). So the consequences of our past and present life have to be faced, and that eventually leads to our rebirth. Thus birth and death is a regular cycle in our lives for which karma, the fruit of our action, is responsible.
The birth of an avatar
To give us the physical experience, to bless and guide us with His dear proximity, and to set an example to all humanity, He takes a human form. We call this the ‘birth of an Avatar’ and we mark the event with a celebration.
There is Krishna Janmashtami for the Avatar Lord Krishna, Sri Rama Navami for the Avatar Lord Rama, Mahavir Jayanti for the spiritual leader Mahavir, and Christmas for Lord Jesus Christ. Each one, out of His individual will, has taken birth to lead humanity and set an example. So that’s how we have to understand the birth of an Avatar.
In addition, the ‘end’ for the Avatar is different from a normal death at the worldly level. We humans have no control over when the end comes; it simply happens when the karma is exhausted. But in the case of an Avatar, the withdrawal from the body is decided by the Avatar.
Nobody could keep Bhagavan on the worldly plane beyond the date of His determined withdrawal. He had decided to leave on 24th April, and nobody could hold Him for a day more. And He said so many times. We were amazed and even frightened when He said in Kodaikanal, “Though I said ninety-six years would be the age when I drop My body, I may continue until I am one hundred years old, or one hundred and five years, or even more. And if I decide, I will withdraw now.”
Therefore my friends, the date of Samadhi (the day of the passing of an Avatar or saint) is His decision. He even said this a long time ago: “This is the place where the Samadhi (Bhagavan’s tomb shrine) is going to exist. This is the place where this body will be laid to rest.”
April 24: Festival of the Unity of Faiths
What are the ways in which we should celebrate the 24th of April, and the one or two days following that?
Sathya Sai Baba stands for the unity of faiths (all religions). We should not be dogmatic, fanatical or biased, allowing one religion to dominate over the others. Accordingly, let us have an event where representatives from all religions gather together because the audience (of devotees) comes from all different religions.
So let all representatives of different religions gather. It should include readings from the Bible (Christian faith), the Koran (Muslim faith), the Dharmapada (Buddhist faith), and the Bhagavad Gita (Hindu faith) as well, in order to represent and demonstrate the unity of faiths.
Our Prashanthi symbol represents all religions, so let us translate the spirit of Baba into action by celebrating His Samadhi day in this way. Then this day becomes an occasion to show what Baba stands for.
Baba’s Service to Humanity
Baba initiated and directed a number of service projects. If there is time and resources, let us show His service to humanity. I would suggest the display of large posters with photos of the educational institutions and super-specialty hospitals founded by Him. Photos of the water projects supplying the villagers with clean drinking water can be shown too. By these means, His activities in education, health care, and village welfare are portrayed to the general public.
We can also organise the distribution of clothes, feed the poor, visit hospitals and orphanages, or homes for the aged, to help and console them.
Slide shows on the purpose and Divine mission of the Avatar of Bhagavan Baba can be made. These can be projected with an appropriate commentary on huge screens on the dais.
Let us also show and speak about the international medical conferences held here in Prashanthi Nilayam, as well as the conferences of top bankers and vice-chancellors from different universities.
Besides this, let people see national and international visuals from the Sai organisations, and show how the Prashanthi spiritual festivals such as Buddha Purnima, Christmas, or Dasara have been observed. Everyone has the chance to know of Swami’s work from such an exhibition.
Members of the Sai organisation and office-bearers from different levels can meet and plan with vision and fortitude. “Vision of Sai” could be discussed by the office-bearers. We should also plan the second line of leadership. On this special occasion, the youth can gather and discuss what Baba has said to them, guiding their future activities.
Then this is also an opportunity for teachers of Bal Vikas (spiritual education for children), and teachers of the Education in Human Values (EHV), and all Sri Sathya Sai education teachers to discuss “Educare”, which He also started. The discussion could focus on “What is Educare?” and “How to Introduce Educare into our Institutions”.
All should be inspired
So let us develop these programs together. In this way, let us show and speak about the three-dimensional activities of service, education, and spirituality undertaken by Bhagavan for society. This should inspire the whole audience.
This occasion to meet together with the whole Sai family, to exchange our experiences with one another, is also an occasion of deep inner connection and contemplation. From now on, as we experience more and more Baba within, we should dispel the feeling that He is no more amongst us. He is eternal, the only One-without-a-second! Sai Ram.
Extracts from ‘How to Worship Swami on Mahasamadhi Day’ – A special talk given by Professor Anil Kumar. Contributed by Amrit Seesaran
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