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Ekadasi 2003 report and photos

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Photographs of Ashada Ekadasi
Sai Kulwanth Hall, 10 July 2003

10 July, 2003. The silence in the colourfully decked up Sai Kulwant Hall in orange, green, and Indigo, the colours of the sun, was broken. The Nadaswaram resounded, heralding the arrival of Swami into the Hall at 7 am. The devotees applauded as Swami lit the florally ornamented lamp to commence the celebrations of the auspicious day of Ashadi Ekadasi, held very sacred by the people of the Indian state of Maharashtra.

The celebrations in Prasanthi Nilayam had begun the previous day when the Bhagawan returned to a grand welcome after a longer-than-usual summer break. The road from the airport to the mandir (temple) was lined with devotees, anxious to catch a glimpse of their Lord. When Bhagawan entered the mandir, it was as if the entire congregation erupted in rejoicement to see their beloved Swami back with them, looking more radiant and happy than ever. It was in this background of festivity that the proceedings of the Ashadi Ekadasi celebrations commenced on the morning of 10 July.

The programme started with an appealing traditional Maharashtrian dance glorifying Lord Vittala. As the dance concluded, Kulwant Hall reverberated with "Jai Jai Panduranga Hari" with the captivated audience joining in with enthusiastic clapping and singing. The next item was a dance drama titled "The Divine Address - Devudi Chirunama". This hour-long presentation involving song and dance by the bal vikas students of Maharashtra and Goa was an entertaining and enlightening experience for each one gathered there. Through dialogue and dance, it sought to remind us all, that while Bhagawan is the most enchanting divine personality, Wisdom lies in taking advantage of the Swami's Saguna Rupa (Physical form) to realize the Nirguna (the formless Divinity). With impressive sets and music, the programme depicted the spiritual game of Snakes and Ladders and the mysteries of the Sun god as the The Supreme Teacher and Bestower of Wisdom.

After the presentation concluded, there were a few bhajans led by Maharashtrian devotees. The morning celebration ended at half past eight with Arati and prasadam distribution.

The cultural programme in the Poornachandra Auditorium that evening sought to show the unity of two seemingly diverse paths of spirituality: worship to the Saguna Rupa (form of Gd) and contemplation on the Nirguna Brahman (formless Brahman), through the story of Saint Namdev, one of the spiritual giants of the Maharashtra State. Sant Namdev was an ardent devotee of Krishna, who is worshipped as Vithobha in Maharashtra. The saint Jnandev, a contemporary of Namdev, however, held that the path of jnana (spiritual wisdom) alone was the means ofliberation. The drama staged by the bal vikas children of Maharshtra and Goa demonstrated how Namdev first convinces Jnandev of the efficacy of the path of devotion (bhakti marga). However, when, one day, the Saint Gorakhnath, compares him to a pot made of half-baked clay, he feels hurt and rushes to his Lord in agony. Lord Vithobha then appears and teaches Namdev to transcend the Form of the Lord and seek the Formless One instead.