Sri Sathya Sai visits Ayodhya and Varanasi...



Sai Rama with Lakshmana and Hanuman
(symbolically standing exactly in front of the idols of Lord Rama and Mother Sita)

Thursday March 23, 1961 to Saturday, April 08, 1961

Swami’s visit to Ayodhya and Varanasi via Madras

Swami visited Sri Sathya Sai Samaj, Perambur (Madras) on its fourth annual day which fell on 23rd March, 1961. He blessed the devotees with His Divine Discourse at the Perambur Railway Institute Stadium. Dr. B. Ramakrishna Rao, Governor of Uttar Pradesh, also addressed the devotees. On Sri Rama Navami day, the Telugu Edition of ‘Sathyam Shivam Sundaram’, and the English version of ‘Dhyana Vahini’ were dedicated at Swami’s lotus feet at Santhi Kutir. Dr. B. Ramakrishna Rao presided over this celebration as well. Swami, in His Discourse, elaborated on the philosophical meaning of the Ramayana.

Governor's Residence (Raj Bhavan)
at Lucknow
On 26th, Swami left for Lucknow along with the dignitaries in a specially chartered plane. Swami stayed in the Raj Bhavan (Governor’s residence) and blessed the devotees with His daily Darshan. On 30th, the Andhra, Kannada, Tamil and Kerala Sanghas jointly arranged a welcome function for Swami at the town hall. Swami addressed those gathered on this occasion.

Banks of the River Sarayu at Ayodhya
Swami and His entourage of dignitaries proceeded to Ayodhya on 1st April. Swami pointed out to the devotees the various spots sanctified by their association with the Ramayana. He said that the people there were suffused with Bhakti, for He said that He could hear the unceasing ‘Rama Naama Japam’ emerging from their hearts. Swami blessed all the devotees at the banks of the river Sarayu.

The Sanctum Sanctorum of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple
The party reached Saranath on the same night and visited the Vishwanath temple at around 11.00 am the subsequent morning. Inside the shrine, Swami materialised Vibhuti and sandal paste and applied them on the Linga. He then created a priceless jewel and placed it on the Linga Mukha. He blessed each devotee with the holy water of the Ganga. 

Prior to the Vishwanath temple visit, Swami led the party to a Hanuman temple on the banks of the river Sarayu. Legend has it that this land was awarded to Hanuman by Lord Sri Ram so that he may establish there in a kingdom ever resonant with the ‘Rama Nama’.

Goddess Annapurna
at the Annapurna Temple, Varanasi
The party then proceeded to Annapurna temple, Birla Vishwanath temple and the Benaras University Campus. Swami returned to Allahabad on 2nd April night.  Swami visited the Triveni Sangam along with the devotees on the 3rd. Swami then led His party to the Hanuman temple, the Akshaya Vata and the Saraswati Kupa. Swami sent His party back to Lucknow by car. Swami and the dignitaries travelled to Lucknow by train. Swami sent His party back to Madras and stayed on at Raj Bhavan for one more day. On that day, He met General Thimmaiah and other top ranking officials of the Army, Navy and the Air Force. 

Swami left for Madras on 5th April. On the 6th, He inaugurated the Tyagaraja festival at Tirupati. He addressed the large gathering with the following Message:

"In spiritual matters, experience alone is the deciding factor. Reason is rendered dumb before the testimony of actual experience. All the arguments of logic, all the tricks of dialectics are powerless to nullify the direct effect of that inner evidence. For example, take the question of image worship. Many people laugh at those who practise it and condemn it as superstition. But those who do worship idols have the faith that the Omnipresent Almighty is present in the symbol before them. For them, it is not a mere external adjunct or apparatus or object. It is a part of the inner mechanism of devotion and faith. Of course, all the “worship” carried out with the idea that the idol is lifeless wood or stone or bronze is so much waste of time. But if it is done in the full confidence that the image or idol is alive, saturated with consciousness and power, then image worship can bestow Realisation of Godhead itself. 

The spiritual aspirant should see the power inherent in the idol 
A spiritual seeker once approached a guru for guidance. The guru gave him an idol of Vishnu and also necessary instructions for daily worship. But the seeker found that, even after some months of meticulous worship, he did not get any spiritual reward or elation. So he reported his dissatisfaction, and the guru gave him another idol, this time of Siva, and asked him to have another try. The disciple came after another six months demanding another idol, because even Siva had failed him. This time, he got a Durga idol, which he duly installed in his domestic shrine. The two previous idols were standing, dust-ridden and neglected, on the window sill. One day, while ritual worship of the Goddess Durga was going on, the disciple found that the perfumed smoke from the incense stick was being wafted by the breeze toward the idol of Siva on the window sill. He got wild that the ungrateful stone-hearted God who was deaf to his powerful entreaties should get the perfume intended for his latest idol! So he took a piece of cloth and tied it round the face of Siva, closing up the nostrils that were inhaling the perfume. Just at that moment, to his immense surprise Siva appeared in His Splendour and Glory before the seeker! The man was dumb-founded. He did not know how the ill-treatment had induced Siva to give him Darshan. But what had really happened? The seeker for the first time believed that the Siva idol was alive, conscious, full of life (Chaitanya-full), and it was that belief which forced him to tie the bandage to the nose. The moment he realised that the idol was full of consciousness (Chit), he got the Realisation he was struggling for. Therefore, the spiritual aspirant should see not the stone, which is the material stuff of the idol, but the Power that is inherent in it, that is symbolised by it, the same Power that is inherent in his own heart and that pervades and transcends all creation."

He returned to Prashanti Nilayam on the 8th. Swami blessed each devotee with Ganga water on the 13th.

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