Day of introspection at Puttaparthi
A view of Prasanthi Nilayam ...
THE PURPLE hills remained in the growing dusk. The sky was a dull orange tinged with pink and blue. The birds were going home to roost and the stunted bushes of such a rocky landscape were mute witness to the passing time. The journey back from a valley so insulated was meditative. The thoughts and ideas that one got exposed to brought home and reiterated some truly universal values that could make life meaningful in these days of stress, commercialism and materialism.
It was November 19, the day dedicated to women at Puttaparthi, the ashram of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. It was also the day when the role of women, in society and in nation building, got reinforced by the attendance of women who have made a mark in their respective fields and by an audience that was reminded of its key role in building a healthy society and nation.
The day began with the traditional nadaswaram played by young women from Baba's colleges. A rather slow moving march by the school band with the members dressed in white and blue ushered in young girls on the bagpipes reminding one of the stunning parades that take place on the Republic Day. The conventional chanting of the suktams by young girls came as a ceremonial welcome to Sai Baba, who came to address the gathering.
The morning was made fulfilling with children performing dance, music and folk arts such as the burra katha, which had the audiences cheering heartily for them. Not only were they good but they also drew attention to the fact that tradition and culture are something that we all need to nurture and preserve. In the afternoon, a choir comprising of women from over 22 countries performed lilting numbers, many of them composed by the members themselves. The harmony had a soothing effect on the large gathering.
Four eminent women Justice Prabha Sridevan, Madras High Court, Genoveva Kanu, a Rhodes scholar and a teacher from Africa, Carole Alderman from the U. K. and Varsha Chitnis from Gujarat were asked to speak on the role of women in the society, and its development. The common thread of what they said was that it was through women that values and ideals were propagated since they played a key role in raising children. There is a clear need to restore their lost honour. Her rightful place in as the Shakti swaroopini has to be taken seriously. She is the custodian of values and culture, and mothers are the pillars of home.
The speakers also dwelt upon the efficacy of Sai Baba's Education in Human Values Programme, which has benefited children across the world, where it has been implemented. Selfless service to mankind was advocated by all four of them a thought completely endorsed by Sri Satya Sai in his speech that followed.
India, Sai Baba said, is a flourishing country filled with women doing many wonderful things. They have not only upheld values but have also provided sound homes and happiness. However, over the years, there has been a degradation of women and there is much chaos simply because there does not seem to be harmony between men and women... Women, he said, are not subordinate to men belittling them is like belittling creation. Only if they are supported, encouraged and allowed to progress can the society progress. They, who are so full of compassion, bring up children carefully. But sometimes, we find that children are not being taught values so important for good living.
November 19 will be a day when the woman's spirit will be celebrated. But that is not enough. This should be a life-long mission; not something we remember on this day alone. ``Love your parents," Baba said. ``Everyone should be happy; this is my only desire. Forget the past, it is gone.
The future is unknown but it is the present that we have. Be happy in the present, be blissful, and always remember to build character; be selfless, and make others happy," he concluded. Thoughts are not unknown to us but in the rush to achieve and accomplish, they are left by the wayside. We do need someone to bring us back, to remind us of our roots to rejuvenate, reassess and reaffirm our purpose as human beings. That was what Sai Baba did that day.
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