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Love and Light

Christmas Celebrations

Christmas is an annual religious and cultural holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ celebrated on the 25th December by billions around the globe. Popular modern customs around Christmas include gift giving, Christmas music, singing carols, exchange Christmas cards, church celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly. In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas and others are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions.

Human mind tends to forget the inner significance of this great celebration. Sathya Sai Baba reminds us on its inner meaning,

“The observance of holy days like Christmas is an occasion for realising the importance of love and harmony among human beings. It is not right to celebrate Christ's birthday by feasting, drinking, singing and merry-making. The ideals taught by Jesus should be put into practise. That is the right way to celebrate his birthday.” ssspeaks/volume21/sss21-34

The purpose of human life is to realise oneself as commanded by the sacred writings. It is the destiny of man to journey from humanity to the ultimate goal of Divinity. There are many spiritual seekers who by their devotion, dedication and disciplined lives, attain Godhood, the vision of the Omnipresent, Omnipotent and the Omniscient One. Some are content with the Bliss they have won for themselves and consider that as their ultimate goal. There are however others, who make it as their mission, to go out and share this bliss and thereby inspire others with their experiences to tread the path.

“Divine personalities and Incarnations of God take birth in human form. They move amongst the afflicted and the seekers who have lost their way or strayed into the desert, and lead them into confidence and courage. Certain personalities are born and live out their days for this very purpose. They can be called kaaranajanmas (born for a purpose), for they take on the janma (birth) for a kaarana (cause, purpose). Such guides, exemplars and leaders, appear among all peoples and in all lands. They inspire faith in higher ideals, and teach in the Voice of God, counselling from the heart.”

Baba beautifully describes Jesus’s spiritual journey,

”Jesus was kaarana-janma, a Master born with a purpose, the mission of restoring love, charity
and compassion in the heart of man. He had no attachment to the self, nor paid any heed to joy or
sorrow, loss or gain. He had a heart that responded to the call of anguish, and he went about the
land preaching the lesson of love. His life was a libation for the upliftment of humanity.
Like most seekers, he first searched for the Divine in the objective world. But he soon realised
that the world is a kaleidoscopic picture created by one's own imagination, and sought to find
God within himself. His stay in the Himalayan monasteries in Kashmir and in other centres of
eastern asceticism and philosophical inquiry, gave him greater awareness. From the attitude of
being a Messenger of God, he could now call himself the Son of God. The bond of relationship
increased: the ‘I’ was no more some distant light or entity; the light became a part of the ‘I.’ With
the body-consciousness predominant, he was a messenger. With the heart-consciousness in the
ascendant, he-felt a greater nearness and dearness, and so the son-father bond seems natural at
this stage. Later as the Aathman-consciousness was established, Jesus could declare, "I and My Father are One." The three stages may be described as: ‘I in the Light,’ ‘the Light is in me,’ and ‘I am the light’.”

The Cross is the symbol for Christianity and is worshipped by Christians. Sathya Sai Baba has lovingly explained its significance,

“Unity of head, heart, and hand is essential for man. This is the true significance behind the Christians making cross sign. Install God in your heart. Contemplate on Him and undertake good deeds. Consider every activity as God’s work and act accordingly. Merely feeding the poor and distributing clothes to the needy do not constitute seva (selfless service). Along with this, one has to cultivate love, which is eternal. Right from dawn to dusk all our actions should be suffused with love.”

One reminisces Christmas Celebrations in the Divine physical presence of Sathya Sai Baba in Prasanthi Nilayam, His abode in India. One witnessed the demonstration of the power of Love. People from many countries flocked to His abode who spoke different languages and came from diverse religious and cultural background with their different dresses, mannerisms and customs. Transcending all these differences, they got together as brothers and sisters with a sense of Brotherhood of Man and Fatherhood of God inspired by Sathya Sai Baba and His Message of Love that bound everyone together.

Elsewhere in the world, people drunk, ate all sort of foods, and made merry in the name of Christmas. To the contrary, Christmas in Prasanthi Nilayam was special, celebrated in a holy atmosphere, an occasion to spend as a “holy day”and not as a “holiday”!

On the Christmas morning, overseas devotees all dressed in whites gathered in the Sai Kulwant Hall, singing carols during Nagarsankirtan (walking in procession singing God’s Name and His Glory) and carrying candles and assembling for the early morning darshan (sight of Baba). It was a sight to be witnessed when Baba made His appearance in the balcony, dressed in a white robe. Later, Baba made His way to the hall in His white robe led by a procession of children from overseas countries who were dressed as the characters in the Nativity. Baba then very lovingly blessed the cakes that were offered and then the programme commenced. In the latter years, the University brass band participated, filling the hall with heart rending musical tunes and melodies. The young boys grateful for the chance to perform finished their slot with singing of ‘Jingle Bells’ accompanied by young Santas’ who prayerfully approached Baba with their gift bags to be blessed. Baba enjoyed every second of the proceedings throwing a few toffees to the boys nearby, and the Santas going around the hall distributing their bag contents. This was followed by singing of Christmas songs. Then Baba delivered His Christmas Message exhorting and reminding all those gathered about Jesus’s life, His Mission and Message. It was a Joyous occasion and an experience to witness.