Divine Trainer’s Drama Directions – By Prof. Siva Sankara Sai

Professor Siva Sankara Sai with Sri Sathya Sai
Bhagavan is everything for His students. He is a friend, philosopher and guide. In the education that is imparted in His University, He is the inspiration, goal and guide of every single activity. Even though we may consciously know this or not, I have found this to be true. Sometimes, when we detach ourselves and see the way “His Will” flows, then we become awestruck and feel supremely blessed to be part of that grand plan. Celebrating cultural events are an integral part of Swami’s education system. Swami defines culture as a way of life. He has come down to revive our sacred Bharatiya Culture. Swami used to encourage students to develop the talents of ‘acting’, ‘music’, ‘dance’ and ‘art’ along with secular education. After all, these are the ways our lovely culture was propagated for thousands of years. Each generation adds its own flavour and beauty to this great Indian culture and thus embellishes it further.

In Swami’s Hostel, dramas, dance, art & music are positively encouraged, nurtured and fostered. Swami provides a number of opportunities to the students for developing these qualities by putting up various dramas in His Divine Presence. I would like to relive one such occasion where I saw Bhagavan personally involving Himself completely with the students’ drama, in spite of His busy schedule and gave us the joy of His Divine intimacy and Directions.

It was the year 1987; Swami had decided that the students should put up a drama on the life of Markendeya to emphasise the devotion of young Markendeya to Lord Shiva. One day in the month of October that year, Swami called me and Sri Ram Mohan Rao sir along with a few students and explained to us the story of Bhakta Markendeya. He highlighted the qualities of young Markendeya, especially, his humility and obedience to the words of his parents. Swami also highlighted the steady and unwavering devotion of young Markendeya to Lord Shiva. He told us that if we put up a drama with this theme, it would be an inspiration for all the young students. Then He instructed us to write the dialogues of the drama based on what He mentioned and show to Him. We were overjoyed at this unique and rare chance.
Lord Shiva protecting Markendeya from Lord Yama
Ram Mohan Rao sir, being a good speaker both in Telugu and English, and also a lecturer in English literature, wrote the draft of the drama script. We both fine-tuned it to our level best as per the story and directions given by Swami and got the script ready to be shown to Swami. To our luck, after three days, Swami called us for an interview along with a few other students. He asked, “Enna Samacharam?” (What’s the news?) When we mentioned that the draft of the drama script was ready, He immediately listened to the entire script and gave a few suggestions and asked us to incorporate them. He polished certain sentences and corrected a few factual details. He stressed and drilled one very important point into our heads – when we are on the stage to enact a drama or skit, the entire attention of the eyes, ears, and mind of the audience is on us. Hence, what we speak and act is observed by a thousand minds, two thousand ears and two thousand eyes. Hence it is extremely important that what we say and do should be of high standard, inspiring and exemplary to the people. 

Swami was very particular that negative emotions, negative feelings, negative words and actions should be avoided or minimal (if we cannot avoid them completely due to the theme chosen). In the script of the Markendeya drama, we had introduced the conversation between the two soldiers of Yama very elaborately, to lighten the very sombre theme. The next day, Swami called us for an interview and reviewed our progress in writing the script. He liked the first part and approved the script of the first part. But, in the second part, Swami objected the conversation between Yama’s Kinkaras (Yama’s minions) that we painstakingly introduced. 

He told us that the Yama’s Kinkaras’ scene should not be made light or loose, like in films. He corrected us and mentioned that even humour can be there to lighten the mood, the drama should be of high standard and not cheap, as is commonly done. Especially in a spiritual theme, wherein the devotion is highlighted, we need to be extra careful to give proper emphasis to various emotions. Swami said that, our mind is so fickle that, inspite of many good things depicted in the drama; our mind gets attracted towards the negativity and tends to retain the negative dialogues and actions in the drama more than the moral of the drama itself. 
Professor Siva Sankara Sai with Sri Sathya Sai
Thus the script of ‘Markendeya’ drama had to undergo many changes to conform to the Divine standard. It was a great revelation for us to know the absolute and benchmark standards of our Divine Director. It need not be mentioned that the drama was a success because the Lord Himself became the script-writer and trainer. All of us were lucky because the Eswara whom Markendeya was praying for his life, was the one who directed all aspects of the drama.

- Prof. Siva Sankara Sai
Student and Research Scholar (1982-1989), Department of Physics
Warden (1994-2011), Sri Sathya Sai Hostel
Currently, Dean of Sciences
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam

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