Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba teaches us that all festivals and religious celebrations are opportunities given to us to remember God and His divine gifts to humanity. The purpose of all religions is to reunite us with our true Self. All religions are valid paths revealed by saints to purify our minds and hearts so we can see clearly our real Self and attain the final goal of this human experience.
Sathya Sai Baba says “There is only one religion, the religion of love. There is only one caste - the caste of humanity.”
Therefore, we as human beings should not only accept all the ways to worship God but also celebrate them. We should not only speak about Unity of Faiths but also practise it in our lives.
In Judaism, there are two important celebrations, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The Jewish celebrations of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur lead the followers of Judaism to reflect on their actions and feelings, sincerely repent for wrong actions and pray for the strength not to repeat them. And finally, when they achieve a pure heart, their names will be inscribed by God in the Book of the Righteous, for those that practice dharma please God. May we all follow that path and become better and better examples of true human beings who work hard to realise our real Self and help others advance in their own awakening.
The Jewish Holy Days
Here are the accepted meanings of the two major Jewish holidays:
Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. The biblical name for this holiday is Yom Teruah which means literally, "day of shouting or rejoicing". It is the first of the Jewish holy days, "Days of Awe" that occur in the early autumn in the Northern Hemisphere.
Rosh Hashanah marks the start of a New Year in the Hebrew calendar. Jews are confident that Rosh Hashanah represents either figuratively or literally the time of God's creation of man. The New Year also represented the beginning of the ancient cycle of sowing, growing, and harvesting food grains.
Jewish families gather on Rosh Hashanah to share a meal which usually includes apples dipped in honey to symbolize a sweet new year. The common Hebrew greeting on Rosh Hashanah is “Shanah Tovah” which means “have a good year.”
For me this is like the Hindu tradition of wishing all the worlds be happy and live in peace, “Samastha Loka Sukhino Bhavantu”.
Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Its central themes are atonement and repentance.
Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 24-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in the synagogue. In order to gain atonement from God, one must pray, repent the sins committed, and give to charity.
Although I attended a Jewish school in my younger years, my true awakening came through my experience with Sathya Sai Baba.
During January 1982, I was in the Ashram on my first trip to have the darshan of Bhagawan. I was not a Sai devotee yet - I went to find out who Swami was. Almost thirty days went by and one night when I was in my room in the Ashram, I felt overwhelmed by the attention I had received from Swami. He accepted my letters almost every day, gave me several opportunities for Padanamaskar, and signed photographs for me. I was really touched by His divine love and attention. I therefore decided to resign from the position of Vice President of another spiritual organisation to which I belonged in Argentina, because I felt that I had found the Avatar of this age and I wanted to surrender fully to Him.
In the morning, I went to have darshan and when Swami came out of His room, and instead of His usual round of first going to the ladies’ side and then to the men, He came straight to me. Standing in front of me, He looked at me and said, “YES, I will see you today, I will see you this afternoon.” On the previous night, I said Yes to Him and in the next darshan He came out to say Yes to me!
When morning darshan was over, I wanted to wait near the interview room until the afternoon darshan. However, one sevadal (volunteer) stopped me and told me that things were not done that way, and that I had to come for darshan in the afternoon and wait. I thought that this sevadal did not like me and that he was ruining my opportunity for my first interview with Bhagawan. I thought that Swami might not even remember about His promise or even find me in the crowd.
Afternoon darshan came and I was seated not in the first row, but a few rows behind, feeling sad that I might have lost a golden opportunity for which I was waiting with all my heart. When Swami came out of His room, He stood in the Veranda and looked straight at me. He did not even have to look for me, He knew where I was seated and from there, He said to me: “YOU!!” in a very loud voice. Immediately I stood up and went almost running to Him and then He said the most wonderful word that all Sai devotees eagerly wait for: “GO!!”, directing me to go to the interview room.
I asked Him if the other devotees from Argentina could join me and He agreed. He then gave darshan to all the devotees. When He came to the Veranda, He told us to go inside. In the middle of the interview, He paused, looked at me and told me everything that I was thinking that day since the morning – reassuring me that He would never forget me, etc. Then He approached me and almost whispered in my ear something that I will never forget, and neither should any Sai devotee. He told me:
“I WILL NEVER DISAPPOINT MY DEVOTEES!”
This, brothers and sisters, has been my experience ever since. I have always felt Swami´s presence in my life. When I needed Him most, He was there giving me His divine help.
I have experienced so many divine miracles, so many proofs of His presence in my life that I know that He is with me always, everywhere. I live with the full awareness of His loving presence. This has changed my whole life, in all aspects - my family life, my work, my Sai service. I know that He is there, just waiting for me to be aware of His presence. I now understand the words He said when He was in the Shirdi form:
“IF YOU LOOK TO ME, I LOOK TO YOU”
It is as simple as that. We have to only remember His presence, and then we will feel that He is with us, ready to help us, guide us, and fill us with His endless LOVE.
Leonardo Gutter, Argentina
Member, Prasanthi Council