The 12th session of the “My Sai and I” series in Canberra and the 14th session within the “My and I” series nationally was held on Thursday, 24 October 2019. The session was held at the North Canberra Sai Centre’s venue, 10 Watson St, Turner and was attended by approximately 70 Sai followers. The guest speaker for the event was Mr Vedanarayanan Kollengode from Puttaparthi, India.
Vedanarayanan is a familiar figure in Prasanthi Nilayam, and is well known around the world for leading the Vedic chants in Sai Kulwant Hall ever since Sathya Sai Baba asked for the Vedic hymns to be chanted.
The Program commenced with ten minutes of Vedam chanting which was led by Vedanarayanan. Next, Chandra Balvaida, an alumnus of the Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, introduced Mr Vedanarayanan Kollengode, also an alumnus of Sai educational institutions, as the voice of Vedic chanting. Vedanarayanan joined Baba’s college in Brindavan (Bangalore) way back in 1976. After his Bachelor’s degree from this college in 1981, on Sathya Sai Baba’s instructions, he pursued his Masters in Arts (Philosophy) in Bangalore University, securing a Gold Medal. Later, he completed his Masters in Arts (Sanskrit) from Mysore University with distinction. In 2004, he received the National Award for Best Teacher from the then President of India, Dr. APJ. Abdul Kalam. Chandra said that on a personal note, Vedanarayanan had taught him and those in his class at that time Rudram chanting, and had managed to get all of them to chant Rudram within a month. Chandra concluded his introduction of Vedanarayanan by narrating how a particular image of Vedanarayanan (of him meditating on Sathya Sai Baba by facing Sathya Sai Baba’s residence in an empty hall after the Mahashivarathi celebrations concluded while Sathya Sai Baba was amongst us) left an indelible mark on Chandra’s heart of Vedanarayanan’s intense devotion and faith.
Vedanarayanan then commenced his talk with the Sanskrit lyrics ‘Twameva Mata Cha Pita Twameva, Twameva Bandhu Sakha Twameva, Twameva Vidya Sarvinam Twameva, Twameva Sarvam Mum Dev Deva, Sai Deva’ which means “O Lord, You Are My Mother, Father, Kinsman and Friend. You Are My Wealth of Knowledge, Strength, Velour and Power”. He shared his experiences from living in close proximity to Sathya Sai Baba. He also shared how Sathya Sai Baba influenced him to take up the study of Sanskrit and how he eventually thrived in learning Sanskrit, although initially he did not take a liking to this subject. He further spoke about the importance of surrender and devotion in spirituality and reflected on the golden opportunity of being able to see Sathya Sai Baba’s physical form. He concluded his talk with a guidance to those present at the session that they should try to develop a way of integrating Sathya Sai Baba into all aspects of their lives if they wish to constantly be attuned Sathya Sai Baba’s divine presence.
The common threads across the various stories narrated by Vedanarayanan at this session were devotion with feeling (Bhava), loving attitude towards all, faith and surrender. The key points are given below:
- Change starts at the individual level.
- You will find god only when you offer something with true feeling.
- God enjoys the subtle essence of the food offered and the food remains as it is in the shape it was offered as prasad. Instead of searching for happiness, if you give happiness to others you will also get happiness
- Practise loving attitude towards all, including plants. One should not pull out the leaves or break plants unnecessarily because plants also have life.
- The shift from sorrow to happiness and happiness to sorrow requires equal-mindedness.
- You can remain in the divine presence of Sathya Sai Baba by taking Sathya Sai Baba with you on your day’s journey, just like just like Meerabai, a hindu mystic poet who promotes devotion as the best way of life.
- Enjoy every moment of your life as a miracle of life.
The ‘My Sai and I’ event concluded with a dinner session which provided an opportunity for all the attendees to personally interact with Vedanarayanan.