A Musical Drama on Samartha Ramdas

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A drama entitled " Samartha Ramadas " was played before Bhagawan at Sai Kulwant Hall, Prasanthi Nilayam, on 22nd July, 2010, by students of Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Mandir, Dharmakshetra, Mumbai, on the occasion of Aashadi Ekadashi. Bhagawan entered the Sai Kulwant Hall around 5.25 pm and was there till 7.25 pm, For the benefit of all, a summary of the drama  is given below.

In a place called Baadar in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, a son was born to a couple highly devoted to God. He was named Naaraayana. He grew up as a naughty boy, neglecting his studies and quarrelling with other children. At the age of eight years, he lost his father. His mother Ramaa Dhevi, found it difficult to control her mischievous and delinquent son. Her relatives and neighbours advised her to get him married so that he might realise his responsibilities and change for the better.  

Although the boy was only 13 years old and too young for marriage, his mother yielded to the persuasions of others and arranged for his marriage. At the time of the wedding, a screen of thick cloth was held in-between the bride and bridegroom, according to the prevailing custom, and the purohits (priests) removed the curtain to hand over the Mangala Suthra (the sacred thread of wedlock) to the bridegroom for him to tie it round the bride's neck. Lo and behold! The bridegroom had disappeared behind the curtain, without anybody's notice. A thorough search was made to trace him out, but in vain. So, the marriage could not be performed. 

The boy Naraayana, who had escaped from the marriage, hall, ultimately reached a place called Nasik near the source of the sacred river Godavari. He stayed there for sometime and then moved to a nearby mountain called 'Chithrakoota' which is considered holy, because Lord Rama lived there for nearly 12 years. There he selected an exquisitely beautiful spot by name Panchavati. The boy was enraptured by the grandeur of the scenery of the place, and its sanctity, associated with the stay of Lord Rama there during his exile, sent thrills of ecstasy in Naraayana. He was always immersed in the contemplation of Lord Rama. 

What was the cause for the naughty boy turning into a pious young man? Apart from the fact that his latent good Samskaaras (accumulated tendencies) were aroused by the sudden shock of the 'prospect of being saddled with the heavy responsibilities of married life, the boy, during his journey to Nasik, entered a famous Hanuman temple enroute, and wholeheartedly prayed to the Deity to bless him with all the noble qualities for which Hanuman was renowned. And he had an indication of his prayer being answered by way of gentle movement of the idol transmitting spiritual vibrations in the direction of the boy.  

After 12 years of intense penance at Panchavati, Naraayana gained the three-fold realisation of Lord Rama, as did Hanuman, namely, when he had body consciousness, he was the servant and Rama the Master, when he was conscious of his being a Jeeva (individual soul) he was a part of Rama (Visishtaadhvaitha) and when he was aware of his being the Aathma he and Rama were one (Adhvaitha or non-dualism).  

After this realisation, he returned to Nasik from Panchavati. While there, he came to know that the country was in the grip of a severe famine. Then he began to reflect that to spend his time thinking of only his own liberation, when all his countrymen were suffering due to famine,amounted to extreme selfishness. So, he coined the slogan, "Dhil me Raam, Haath me Kaam" (Raama in the heart, and work in the hand), and entered the arena of social service with all his energy and zeal, giving to himself and his band of dedicated workers mottoes such as: "Manava seva (service to man) is Madhava seva (service to God)" and "Graama seva (service to the villages) is Rama seva (service to Raama)." He filled the tank of his heart with the holy water of Rama naam (Raama's name) which flowed through the top of his hands to quench the thirst of the multitudes of his countrymen. 

Proceeding thus from village to village, doing social work, coupled with chanting of Rama naam, Naraayana finally reached Rameshvaram at the southern tip of the Indian peninsula. From there he went to the pilgrim centres of Tirupathi (where he had the darshan of Lord Venkateshvara) and Hampi (where he worshipped Lord Viruupaaksha). Ultimately he returned to Nasik. On the way to Nasik, he met Saint Tukaram, who was singing the glories of Rama so melodiously that a large number of people including Shivaji, the ruler of Maharashtra, were attracted to him. As Shivaji listened to Tukaram, and told him about his decision to give up his kingdom and to devote himself fully and whole-heartedly to the pursuit of the spiritual path,Tukaram admonished Shivaji for his narrow-minded view of spirituality and exhorted him to consider duty as God and work as worship. Thereupon Shivaji prayed to Tukaram to give him initiation. When Ramadas arrived, Shivaji received him with due honours and reverence, arranged for his stay in the palace itself, and after washing his feet, he sprinkled the holy washings on his own head and submitted to him in all humility: O revered Master! From this moment this kingdom belongs to you; and I too, am yours.  

Thereupon Ramadas replied, "My son, I am an ascetic who has renounced everything. I have neither the right nor the desire for your limited kingdom. God's kingdom is unlimited. The goal of my life is to help every one to reach that unlimited kingdom of God. So I don't want this kingdom of yours. I am now coronating you as the ruler of this kingdom which you have offered to me. From now onwards, you will be king with a difference. You should consider that the kingdom really belongs to God and that you are only "His instrument or trustee administering the kingdom on His behalf."  

Since Ramadas had the extraordinary capacity to do many great things, he came to be known as Samartha Ramadas, the appellation Samartha meaning a man of versatile skills. There is an episode in his life which describes the context in which the title of "Samartha" was conferred on him. He used to dress himself and move about like Kodhandapaani (Rama armed with his bow and arrows).  

After this, Ramadas visited Pandaripuram where he was an eye-witness to the ideal way in which a man by name Pundareeka served his parents as veritable gods, making Lord

Paanduranga Himself wait in front of his house standing on a pair of bricks, till he completed his service to his parents.

Then he visited Shivaji and gave him three things as mementos to guide him in his royal duties one, a coconut to remind him that just. as our intention in buying a coconut is to consume the white kernel inside, so also the purpose of owning and administering the kingdom is that the king himself should lead a saathvik life and also to ensure that the saathvik quality prevails in his kingdom; second, a handful of earth to remind the king and through him his subjects, about the sanctity of Bhaarath, their motherland; third, a pair of bricks to symbolise that just as bricks are used to construct houses for the safety of the inmates, the king should use his powers to protect the people and promote their welfare and progress.

Thu, July 22, 2010: In Parthi it rained again and this evening when the Sai Kulwant assembly was awaiting the emergence of The Lord, Prasanthi was still experiencing intermittent drizzle. Emerging at 1725 hrs. with an yellow umbrella cover on top, Bhagawan came into the hall to go for a complete round before coming onstage in fifteen minutes, at 1740 hrs. Upon coming onstage Bhagawan lit the lamp before asking the Veda chanting to cease.

Being the final day of the Ashadi celebrations, Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Mandir, Dharmakshetra, Mumbai was scheduled to stage a dance drama presentation entitled "Samarth Ramdas" on the illustrious life of one of the spiritual giants from the state, Bhakta Ramdas. Presented with the original Marathi flavour, the drama depicted the spiritual odyssey of little Narayana born in a Maharashtra village, Jamb, who went on becoming one of the greatest ever devotees of Lord Rama. Episodes related to his marriage wherein the scene depicting his aversion to marriage as well as final fleeing to escape the clutches of married life, Maharaja Shivaji's prayer to accept him as his disciple, service activities with the motto, Dil me Ram hath me kaam, his meeting with his aged blind mother after long seperation etc. were depicted essaying the greater message of constant contemplation of God's Name with unflinching love and devotion towards God.

Upon the end of the fifty minutes programme, Bhagawan had a lengthy interaction with the officials commenting about the programme. As He was interacting with them, He asked the organisers to give away safari pieces to all the participating boys. The 'trainer' was called onstage and was blessed with a materialised ring. At 1855 hrs. Bhagawan asked for bhajans to begin. After 2,3 bhajans, He indicated for Mangala Arathi and as the Arathi song was over He raised His palms blessing the concourse with a double abhayahastha. After Arathi, moving down the stage, Bhagawan posed for a photo session with the participating children. Coming onstage, He paused for a while looking at the backdrop on the stage, before moving off the dais retiring to Yajur Mandiram in His car at 1910 hrs.


As Guru Purnima is in the offing, ensuing evenings are expected to have cultural programmes. Latin American group, which has been camping and practising for sometime is likely to show up tomorrow, while Tamil Nadu Youth will be getting their turn on saturday, the penultimate evening leading to Guru Purnima. Students from Brindavan and Anantapur campuses will be reaching the Ashram tomorrow to take part in the Guru Purnima celebratiions