Sai Spiritual Education students and youth from Singapore offer their reverence and gratitude to Bhagavan for giving them this coveted opportunity to present this drama in His presence.
The script was based on a beautiful discourse delivered by Bhagavan on the occasion of the inauguration of a branch office of the State Bank of India in Prasanthi Nilayam on July 14th 1966. The play highlights the concept of a Spiritual Bank where one deposits good thoughts, words and deeds, and draws upon them in times of need. This is depicted by the story of Sathya Harishchandra. It also highlights the Anugraha, divine grace of God, which is granted to us as an overdraft even though we have used up all of our deposits. This is depicted by the immense grace Lord Rama showers upon Ahalya, a scene taken from Swami’s Rama Katha Rasavahini.
The performance consisted of three parts – the Youth Choir, the dancers and the actors. The Youth Choir practiced three songs in Tamil, Hindi and Telugu languages to be sung between the various scenes of the play. The students also practiced Chinese, Malay and Indian dances, also depicting the multi-racial, multi-cultural background of Singapore. The students underwent an audition and were allotted suitable roles. All those who committed to travel to Parthi were given a role to perform. The practice sessions commenced in July 2009 and went on until the end of November with a break during the exam period.
Every practice session started with the chanting the Gayatri Mantra nine times and the singing of bhajans by students. Though discipline was the undercurrent, students enjoyed the sessions, sharing their experiences. While we concentrated entirely on work during the practice, starting and ending the session with thoughts of Swami helped everyone direct their focus towards Him. This was important as Swami had told the coordinator of the performance in Dec 2003 when another play was staged in His presence, that He had watched the drama practice sessions in Singapore!
Most of us arrived at the divine abode of Prasanthi Nilayam on 3rd Dec 2009. Some came before and some after. Through His infinite compassion and grace, we were all comfortably accommodated and a shed was allotted for our practice sessions. The greatest blessing was indisputably, Swami’s lovely Darshans. He only seems to grow more and more beautiful day by day! Occasionally glancing at us, signalling us to wait patiently, tossing a vibhuti packet on to the drama card that we thought He would accept, He played hide-and-seek with us during the Darshans. His every move truly reminded us of His saying, “Love My uncertainty”. He kept us guessing until two days before the performance, when He lovingly obliged and fixed the date with one of our office-bearers, Dr Ravi Pillay, that we could perform on Thursday, 10th Dec 2009. Our joy knew no bounds. The practice sessions continued with greater zest.
The incessant and sincere efforts of the team of Gurus, students and parents, who worked hard with the sole purpose of pleasing the Lord, finally bore fruit. On the afternoon of 10th Dec, it was like a flood of divinity after a drought, as Swami, gently moving through the rows of devotees approached the Kulwant hall stage. He asked the coordinator of the performance for the name of the play. While all plays in Parthi have divine names eg. ‘From Humanness to Divinity’, ‘Ananya Bhakti’, ‘Sai Mahima’, ‘Power of Devotion’ etc., she gathered her courage to say “Bank Balance, Swami”. He showed His amusement at the peculiar name and she then took the opportunity to explain to the One who knows everything that it was based on His discourse. He then proceeded to the veranda and blessed the office bearers seated there with Pada Namaskar. The performance began after Swami gave permission to the SSE coordinator to introduce the play to the audience.
Seven students approached Swami with cards and flowers. Swami spent a lot of time reading the card that was presented to Him and also with the students. This reminds me of His statement, “With children I am a child”! He asked them many questions about their names and their role in the performance. He teased Lord Rama, played by a student named Ramana, asking him curiously what Rama had to do with Bank Balance and saying, “Ramana is Rama!” He accepted all the cards and flowers and graciously gave Pada Namaskar to all the children.
Swami seemed engrossed in the performance, intently looking at all the performers- the actors, dancers and singers, occasionally bringing a smile that lit up His face and in turn the faces of all those watching, and even shedding a tear in the Sathya Harishchandra scene, reflecting the emotions of the actors. Swami always spoke of Harishchandra’s wife, Chandramati, as an ideal for chastity and purity and this was the scene that moved Him. He is of course the greatest Dramatist ever! Indeed beautiful is this unique relationship between the Divine Director and His actors.
The play began with two Sai Youth introducing the concept of Spiritual Bank to three of their friends who were affected by recession. The concept of depositing good thoughts-words-deeds and the overdraft granted to them in times of need, in the form of God’s Grace, was depicted through stories from our scriptures. Explaining the concept, the Sai youth introduced the currency accepted by this Spiritual Bank which are the five Human Values of Truth, Right Conduct, Peace, Love and Non-Violence of which Truth and Love are of the highest value. They explained that all deposits made through good thoughts, words and deeds could be drawn upon in times of need.
The play highlighted the following:
- Through one act of pure Love, a little boy deposited a huge amount in his spiritual account.
- By adhering to the Truth at all times, Sathya Harishchandra made huge deposits to his account, using which he redeemed not just himself but his entire kingdom too.
- Though Mother Ahalya’s deposits were not sufficient to get her out of a crisis, Lord Rama showered His grace to redeem her from a curse, due to her good deeds, good thoughts, good feelings, good company and constant contemplation on the name of God.
- A mean and miserly wealthy man led a happy life because he was drawing from the accounts of previous births and cumulative deposits. But he was only drawing and not depositing anything. So he would soon go bankrupt.
The Sai Youth encouraged their friends to open a fresh deposit account with the Spiritual Bank in order to lead happy and purposeful lives.
When all the performers, Gurus and parent volunteers assembled at the soul-stirring finale Telugu song ‘Sai Krishna, won’t you come to us’, Swami came down to pose for photographs with the entire group.
Rewinding a little at this point let me add that Uncle Bhanoji Rao, who was invited for the dress rehearsal at Singapore, had suggested that we put all the little ones in the front row. And at the finale, in His divine presence, we got to witness Swami as the perfect Director planning every detail though we may not be aware of what to expect as the story unfolds. Looking at the little children seated in the front row, Swami beckoned to a little boy named Sashank, to come to Him. The little one was too afraid to move. This prompted the coordinator of the SSE program to bring him to Swami. Swami asked little Sashank what his role was. When the boy replied, “Dead Boy, Swami” meaning Harishchandra’s dead son, Swami said, “Ayyo Paapam” meaning ‘poor little fellow’ and materialised a gold chain for him! He got sarees distributed for all girls in the play and for the Gurus, and white pant-shirt materials for all the boys in the play. He also got prasadam distributed for all. He gave Pada Namaskar to the student who played the role of mother Chandramati. Two of our younger students presented ‘Thank-You’ cards to Him and He blessed them with Pada Namaskar. He also called little Sashank again to give him the photograph of the materialisation, so promptly developed by Swami’s boys from digital studio. How beautifully the busiest God of all times demonstrates that when He is with us He is completely with us!
After spending so much time with the group, the One who is beyond the limitations of time went back to the veranda and asked for the youth to sing bhajans. It came as a pleasant surprise to all! The youth started rendering soulful bhajans and once again Swami seemed engrossed in the bhajans. He seemed amused at the enthusiastic clapping for the second speed of the bhajans, which is the specialty of Singapore. After a few bhajans, He turned to leave. But looking at the suddenly apprehensive faces of the youth, a loving Mother Sai that He is, He signalled them to continue singing and that He would be back. He took a round in the inner veranda for a while and upon returning asked for Arati.
Arati was performed by the five youth who discussed the concept of Bank Balance. He showed His concern for the boys as they held the Arati plates with flames much bigger than usual, which the coordinator of the performance confesses was a blunder on her part. He patiently waited for the whole Arati and then raised both His hands blessing all before He left. Overjoyed by the immense blessings they received, many of the performers couldn’t hold back their tears.
The next morning we sat in silent contemplation with the expectation of Darshan but Swami decided to come only in the afternoon. That afternoon all the ladies and girl students draped the sarees He had presented to them the previous day, even the tiny 4-year olds! Fortunately the weather forecast was ‘bright skies’ for the ladies because though we were seated in row 4, there was not a single person in front of us! Swami decided to come very early and the security asked us to move up from our ‘special seating’ row 4 to fill up the VIP row 1. He had promoted us! Swami always says ‘God is very simple’. And the simple God finds simple ways to bring us all sitting in about 7 columns from row 4 onwards, to the front row! When He wills it everything becomes so effortless! The Indweller of all beings approached the group and asked the coordinator of the performance when they were leaving. She replied that the group was leaving the next evening and thanked Swami profusely for the love He showered on all. She highlighted that all ladies were wearing the sarees He gave. He smiled and gave her Pada Namaskar. He also went on to the veranda and gave Pada Namaskar to one of the office bearers, the husband of the drama coordinator, who had missed the performance the previous day.
As one of my dearest friends mentioned, the fact that the Avatar spent so much of His precious time exclusively with the group is most memorable. Swami interacted with every single member of the group, some externally and some through the inner quietude of the heart through a look, a glance, a smile, a gesture or a word. Many letters were accepted by Him. Many wishes were fulfilled. Many dreams were realized. Many were given the opportunity of Darshan, Sparshan and Sambhashan. With Swami, the wonderful thing is everything looks beautiful and thrilling for He is the One who lends beauty and grace to everything.
He is the script writer
He is the director
He has chosen the cast
He is the actor
He is the musician and the singer
He has prepared the costumes and props
The message is His
We are His.
He is my most beloved Jagannaataka Sootra Dhaari, the Divine Director.
Offering myself at His Paada Padmamulu, Divine Lotus Feet.
Om Sai Ram
Photos from the event