EL DESPERTAR SAI
EL DESPERTAR SAI: A SOJOURN IN PUTTAPARTHI FOR MAHA SHIVARATRI 2016 PARTES 1-6 A SOJOURN IN PUTTAPARTHI FOR MAHA SHIVARATRI 2016 PARTES 1-6 - EL DESPERTAR SAI

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A SOJOURN IN PUTTAPARTHI FOR MAHA SHIVARATRI 2016 PARTES 1-6


Friday, March 18, 2016

Om Sri Sai Ram


Shivalayam Temple
 (Sathya Sai Baba's Birthplace)
Maha Shivaratri - 7th March 2016

Sai Ram!!!

I was fortunate to be in Puttaparthi for 9 days during the Maha Shivaratri Celebrations
 held during early March 2016.
It had been 3 years, since I made my last visit there in 2013.
You can see that blog via this link below

A Sojourn in Puttaparthi for Maha Shivaratri 2013

Three of us had made the sojourn this time around from Australia.

This blog includes personal reflections, photo's and short video snippets, recorded during our time spent there.

  May Sai Always Be With You 

JAI SAI RAM


Post No.2

Day 1 (5th March 2016)


We arrived from Australia at Bengaluru (Bangalore) Airport at around 11.30pm on the
 4th March 2016.
 It was approximately a 14 hour journey.
We took a pre-arranged taxi to Puttaparthi. Normally it takes around two and half hours to get there.
We arrived around 3.15am on the 5th.
At that time in the morning, the streets of Parthi are quite deserted.
As you can see in the photo's.
We again decided to stay at a hotel outside Prasanthi Nilayam.


Puttaparthi



 Prasanthi Nilayam seen on the left



Puttaparthi Main Road leading to the hotel

 Video recorded some parts of this taxi ride soon after leaving the airport.
For those who have frequented this road journey...reminisce
And for those who haven't, this video might give you some idea what its like to travel on these roads.
Its mostly a highway two thirds of the way, then you turn right to the main road leading to Puttaparthi.
At that time of night the roads are always full of trucks.



Looking forward to the days ahead!
Due to the lack of sleep from the long trip over. Slept most of the day!

Managed to go to the evening Darshan session at Prasanthi Nilayam.

Swami's presence there is as strong as ever! 108%

Veda Chanting and Bhajans in Sai Kulwant Hall.
They also held a Gratitude Program by the Students of Anantapur Campus.

Gratitude Programme by the Students of Anantapur Campus, SSSIHL

At 17 00 Hrs, the outgoing students of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Anantapur Campus have offered their gratitude to their dearest Bhagawan and the Founder Chancellor, Sri Sathya Sai Baba in the form of a Musical programme interspersed with narration of their valuable personal experiences that have wider relevance, at Sai Kulwanth Hall, Prasanthi Nilayam.

The programme, which lasted for 47 minutes, also included handmade offerings of hospital gowns & baby sweaters stitched and knitted by students, for patients in the General Hospital, Prasanthi Nilayam.

A bouquet of collection of students' experiences in the form of booklets titled 'Sai satkruti', handmade flower garland and a short video presentation showcasing Bhagawan's omnipresence in their lives as students were also offered with deep love and gratitude. 

Bhajans continued and the Mangala Arathi next marked the end of the proceedings of the day.

 Earlier at 1630 Hrs Veda chanting was rendered.



Wonderful!!!
Since taking photo's/video's is not allowed within the confines of the ashram,
 no visual record is available.
 This blog will mainly concentrate on what transpired outside in Parthi itself.

We got back to the hotel that evening and could smell smoke everywhere in the atmosphere.
Out of curiosity, we decided to venture up to the rooftop of the hotel.
Couldn't believe what we could see in the distance.
The hilltops were on fire!!!

It was quite hot there and very dry around the place. I don't think it had rained for a long time.
Not a mosquito in sight!

Either it was a wildfire or a controlled burn. I never found out!
 No-one around was concerned about it.
The temperature for this period was around 38 degrees celsius during the day and 25 degrees at night. 






Short video
  
That was the 5th of March!
Another day awaits us!!! The 6th of March!

JAI SRI SAI RAM

Post No.3

Day 2 (6th March 2016)


OM NAMAH SHIVAYA
 
Sai Ram!!!

The start of the day began before sunrise. 


Shrine Room at the hotel.


Wonderful Divine Ambience!!!

We could hear bhajan singing in the distance. It seemed to be getting closer.
 Managed to just film some villages walking past the hotel doing Nagarsankirtan (walking bhajans).


A wonderful way to start the day!
Afterwards, we went to the top of the hotel to witness our first sunrise in this Land of the Holy.
There is a very beautiful statue of Lord Shiva situated there on the rooftop.
  

Here are some pictures taken by my son.
 He was the photographer for most of this trip. It was his first trip to Parthi. It was a real learning curve for him, but he settled in quite nicely, as the days went on.
  







 Here is a short video.
  


 
 Afterwards, we headed for the morning Darshan in Prasanthi and had breakfast at the Western Canteen.
 The devotees from around India and abroad were starting to flood in.
Prasanthi Nilayam was a hive of activity.
Busloads were arriving at regular intervals.
Decorations were starting to appear all around the place.
The streets of Parthi was busy. People everywhere!
I did not have a camera to record.

We came back to the hotel after breakfast to have a much needed rest.
It was getting hot!

After a short break, I decided to take my son to the Shivalayam Temple (Swami's Birthplace).
As he had not seen it before.


The Road to Swami's Birthplace
 

Shivalayam Temple 
 

 
We were surprised when we arrived that a puja was being done by the resident priest.
That was around 11am.
He was doing it for a group of ladies. They were making offerings to a small Shiva Linga.







 At the temple, a group of locals arrived later and started preparing flowers/garlands. 



The stone tiles surrounding the temple were so so hot from the scorching sun.
 It was very hard to walk on them with bare feet. Ouch!
Here is a short video of what transpired that morning of the 6th.


 I was told by the priest that the Maha Shivaratri Puja and Abhishekams would begin around 10am the next day.
As, I have never witnessed this very special puja before,
 on such a auspicious day... to the Lord Sai Shiva Himself!
 I definitely had to be there.
 We would go to the morning Darshan in Kulwant Hall, then come back for this... I decided!
   I had even prayed to Swami, before I left Australia, asking Him if He would allow me to witness it, and also to film it... for the benefit of others!
  It was a tall order, I felt, as in past years, you were not even allowed to take a camera inside this Sacred Temple.
 I have tried before but got rejected. I managed to film a snippet or two in past years.
 In 2013, I also missed it, as I was at the Durga Temple by the banks of the Chithravati River
 when they were also doing Linga puja that Shivaratri morning.
You can see that on my previous 2013 blog.
  After this puja, we went for lunch at the North Indian Canteen.

Many people were arriving at Prasanthi.
The place was abuzz. It was starting to get crowded.
We spent some time in the afternoon at the ashram.
Enjoying the Divine Energy!
It wasn't long for evening Darshan, so we took it easy till then.
Here's the video of that program that evening via Radio Sai


  We decided to retire early, as it was going to be a big day and night tomorrow.
Maha Shivaratri!!!

Post No.4


GANESHA IN PRASANTHI NILAYAM

 OM GAM GANAPATAYE NAMAH

Salutations to Lord Ganesh 

Sai Ram
Jumping ahead a bit here!
This posting consists of some screenshots and a video of a casual walk,
 I took with video camera along the main Puttaparthi thoroughfare.
 From where we were home-based, it took around 10 minutes everyday
 to reach the Ganesh Gate.


This video was taken the morning after Maha Shivaratri around 9.30am.
For many who have travailed this road in past, you know what its like.
 For those who haven't this is what its usually like EVERYDAY!!!


 At this time of the morning it was not that busy.
 It usually gets really really busy in the afternoons and early evenings, especially when Darshan finishes.
 Devotees stream out of the Gate to shop etc etc.
This video (see below) is just one long continuous shot.
 I walk all the way up to Chitravati Road (which is opposite the Prasanthi Nilayam entrance).
 I even managed to get Ganesha's Darshan!
 I then turn around and walk all the way back down to the Hanuman Temple Road.


This is a long video (20mins). Transport yourself there and imagine walking with the camera.
See it as a walking meditation!
The Sounds & Sights of Puttaparthi.














JAI SRI SAI RAM 

Post No.5

MAHA SHIVARATRI
IN
PUTTAPARTHI
7th March 2016


Sai Ram!!!
 Its the most auspicious of auspicious days!
Being here in the land where Sai Shiva chose to reside in His embodiment for 86 years
and even still very much present there, as the formless aspect...Saieshwara!!!
He never left!
I felt most fortunate to be there.
Awoke early and not really knowing what will unfold...I surrendered!
It was around 4.30am
I heard familiar bells ringing in the distance and knew exactly where it came from.
Grabbed the video camera and headed off!

It was very quiet at that time in the morning.
The locals were preparing the temple. Colorful lights graced the temple itself.




In the space of 30 minutes, it became a hive of activity.
Rickshaws were arriving with devotees.
The morning prayers from the mosque just around the corner could be heard.
More and more arrived making salutations/offerings to Lord Sai Shiva.




Soon we could hear Shiva bhajans getting closer.
It was a group of mainly school children coming up the road.



They arrived at the temple and circumambulated around Lord Shiva 3 times singing various bhajans, finally going inside the inner sanctum, to offer their salutations before finally leaving again down the road, just before Lord Surya was about to rise above the distant hills.
 Puttaparthi had awaken!
Here is a video, I filmed during that time! 


 Shiva is revered as the Form to be adored for the acquisition of Jnana'Jnanam Maheshwarat lcchet', as the Vedas advise (Pray to Shiva for wisdom). So, do not treat this Day lightly. Do not reduce the disciplines prescribed by the sages for its celebration such as fast, vigil and uninterrupted recital of the Name of God, into a routine ritual, or a chance for picnic, revelry, rivalry or factious fun. Contemplate on this day and on this night, on the Atma Linga, theJyotir Linga, and be convinced that Shiva is in every one of you. Let that Vision illumine your inner consciousness...Baba


The three worlds and the Trinity are present in every human being. The three are to be regarded as one and worshipped as Shivam. What is Shivam? It is the embodiment of Auspiciousness. When man recognizes the unified form of the Trinity his humanness acquires auspiciousness. - 17 Feb 1996


 The Principle of Shiva (Shivatatwa) teaches the unity of Prakriti and Purusha (the Creation and the Creator). Every human being is Ardhanareeshwara (a mix of masculinity and femininity).
 This is the true meaning of Shivaratri. - 15 Feb 1999


 You will be observing Shivaratri in the true spirit of the term only when you give up bad qualities and cultivate divine love. Merely observing vigil on Shivaratri is not sufficient. You have to contemplate on God incessantly. - 14 Feb 1999 


 He who has understood the truth that Shiva and the Jiva are one and the same is the true Brahmajnani (one who has known the Brahman). Shiva and Jiva are not different as the same divine Atmic principle is present in both. One who has realised this truth is a true human being. The objective of human life is to understand this truth. - 13 Sep 1999



 In most of the Shiva temples you will find the idol of the bull installed right opposite the lingam. Devotees taking darshan of Shiva look straight over the head of the bull, for the bull itself is taking darshan with concentrated devotion which they want to share. Just as the devotees of Shiva keep company with His vehicle, the bull, to earn His Grace, you too must choose friends who by their company would help in raising your aptitudes. - 30 Jul 1978





 There are sixteen aspects for the mind. The moon is the presiding deity for the mind. Of the sixteen phases of the moon, today in the fourteenth day of Margashirsha month (lunar calendar), fifteen of the phases are absent. On this day it is possible to get full control of one's mental faculties.
 Hence it is considered an auspicious day. - 17 Feb 1996 







After the glorious dawn we headed to the ashram for Swami's Darshan and breakfast.



The Ashram, as expected was full of devotees.

Post No.6


Sai Ram!!!
It was Maha Shivaratri morning! 7th March 2016
This would be our last visit to this sacred place on this trip.
 The place where the Lord of the Universe chose to make His first appearance at this very spot 90 years ago!



 Swami's Birthplace Backyard

Swami's Parents 
 A Shivalayam (Temple of Lord Shiva) now stands in place of the house where Bhagawan was born. Bhagawan was born on 23rd November 1926, a Karthika Somavara according to the Hindu calendar, and a day traditionally devoted to the worship of Lord Shiva.

After breakfast, my son and I had raced back to the Shivalayam Temple.
The priest said the day before, that there would be a pooja and abhishekams to Lord Sai Shiva starting around 10am.
 It was also a Monday! 
 (Monday is considered sacred for the worship of Lord Shiva)
We got there around 9.45am




It was packed with devotees doing salutations and offerings.
 There was a queue going in to the inner sanctum.
 Vedic chanting, mainly Sri Rudram and Shiva mantras were being constantly chanted,
 as people lined up to get in for His Divine blessings.






We finally got in and just plunked ourselves at the back, hoping Swami would allow us to stay.
As in previous years, if you bring a video camera, you would normally be told only to film from the outside.
 Not inside!
But not this time!
Not a word was said from anyone.
The resident priest even acknowledged our presence.
I felt Swami approved of us being there.
Finding the space to setup with a tripod was very difficult indeed without disturbing anyone
 or taking up any unnecessary space.
It was a very tight squeeze.
But somehow we managed.
As devotees filed in they were told to leave through the other gate on the left
 after they did their pranams.

 


There was a large group of ladies chanting Sri Rudram etc.


Even on the men's sidethere was hardly any room to move.


For around 30 mins, streams of devotees filed in and out.
The divine energy was ...heaven!!!
It quietened down a bit and a lot of people started leaving.
A chance to quickly circumambulate around the temple 3 times and
stretch ourselves, as I was told that we might be in there for at least a couple of hours.
That's how long the main pooja would be going for.
We waited! Enjoying the beautiful sunny weather. It was very hot even at that time of the morning.



 Here is a video, I put together during that short time.



Not long after devotees started pouring in again.
 Priests, I recognized from Prasanthi Nilayam, had started arriving.
 Suddenly, we realized we needed to get back in to the inner sanctum,
 as the Maha Rudrabhishekam was about to begin.
For awhile, it seemed unlikely we could, as many had lined up.
We finally did....JUST!
 They even locked the gates intermittently soon afterwards, so no-one else could get in.
It was packed to the brim. Not one space was available.
Somehow, I could quickly setup again with tripod. No room to move!
Squashed against the metal barrier. There were oil lamps burning just a few inches away.
Someone kept warning me to be careful not to catch fire!
Soon, the five priests were chanting the Sri Rudram and started pouring water over Lord Shiva...Saieshwara!


 Maha Rudrabhishekam performed had special offerings to the Lord Shiva.
 The offerings included milk, curd, ghee, honey, sugar, fruits, tender coconut water, flower, yellow rice, sandalwood paste, vibhuti, bilva leaves, sugar candy juice, rudraksha, turmeric, kumkum (vermillion) etc. with each individual offerings bearing spiritual religious significance.
 These offerings are meant to appease the Indweller within, Who is verily Sai Shiva.

Lord Shiva Who is hailed as Abhisheka Priya is mightly pleased with such sacred offerings.

Sri Rudram was chanted continually.

Other Shiva mantras & Vedic chants were recited by all also.

The pooja went for over two hours.

Here is the video, I put together of this sacred pooja.

May Lord Sai Shiva bestow His blessings on you while watching this!!!


Note: A few hiccups occurred during the proceedings with the camera, so was not able to fully film everything.
 Got most it...though!
 The camera battery charge expired just before the end. Borrowed my son's mobile phone to record the final arati.

Here's some screenshots taken from the video.









Afterwards we headed back to Prasanthi to get some lunch. It was around 1pm.
Then took some rest. 
It was getting close to the evening program in Prasanthi, so we decided to stay there, making sure we could get in to Sai Kulwant Hall for the Saieshwara Abhishekams and offerings to the white Lingam.
We were fortunate to get in close for the proceedings starting around 4.30pm.
At 6pm the all night Akhanda Bhajans started.
We stayed till late evening, intending to go back through the night.
I had also planned to film the Pooja's/Bhajans etc being performed around Parthi at midnight. 
But due to the long day starting around 4.30am... tiredness finally took over!
Unfortunately, I could not stay awake.
Awoke again around 3.30am and headed back to Sai Kulwant Hall for the final two hours of the Akhanda Bhajan.
It finished at 6am.
Swami was present!
We were all blessed with prasadam at the conclusion.








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