Reminiscing the MBA Day Drama – By Soumya Chakraborty

‘All the worlds a stage and we are but actors’ – writes Shakespeare; very potent, very true, we are all actors being directed by our Supreme Lord and playing out our parts in His Mahalila of Pralaya and Shrishti.

I am among those who have a strong desire to take this a step further. In simple words I love theatre and the whole concept of the stage: the audience, the lights, sounds and costumes set my adrenaline rushing. A thought – why is it that in a souvenir commemorating 20 years of the MBA course at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, should an alumnus be talking about theatre? The answer is simple. It is this element of art that gave me the greatest learning in my life.

Ever since I entered the portals of the Institute, I had a strong desire. I wanted to perform on stage in the physical presence of the Lord. The Convocation dramas and Kulwant Hall sessions – all came and went, but opportunity evaded me always. Was He playing with me or was it so difficult to perform in His presence? The answer came soon enough. All that was required was a sincere prayer from the heart. I longed for it and He granted it. This was how it happened.

The day: 15th of August 2002
The place: The C floor new wing steps (just outside Room No. C2), Senior Boys Hostel, Prasanthi Nilayam.

There were around five or six of us and we were deliberating on the Independence Day show that we had organised that evening. It had been a runaway success and we were supremely satisfied. In the course of our conversation, we realised that the MBA day was not more that a week away. The MBA day had always been very special not only for the MBA students but the entire Institute as well. This was because Swami would come to the College and Bless us with His Darshan, Sparshan and Sambhashan. The students, as part of the celebrations, used to present a drama in Swami’s presence. However, over the last few years Swami had not followed this routine and the MBA day had gone dry. Standing there that night, few of us decided that come what may, through sheer dedication and devotion we would pull Him to us.

The next step was to start planning for the story, after which the play had to be scripted. A few more friends joined in and after a rigorous brain storming session, we had a semi concrete idea of what the play was going to be like. It was around 1:30 a.m. We had not slept for nearly three days because we had been busy with the work for the Independence Day celebrations, but we were not tired at all. In fact we had found a new source of energy. Since time was short, we decided that we would distribute the work so that things would run really smooth. So, while the rest of the team started working out on manpower logistics, a classmate and myself got down to scripting the play.

By the break of dawn, we had all reassembled and read out the script to the team. The feedback was absorbed, by making small and necessary changes and the loose ends were tightened. The manuscript was handed over to a couple of other classmates so that they could start typing it out. We needed to take print outs so that we could show it to the higher authorities for their permission.

As the discussions ended and people started going about fulfilling the duties handed out to them, I walked back to my room. A sense of thrill engulfed me because, even though we were not sure whether we would ever get permission to stage the play, I somehow knew that we would do it. It was a strange feeling of victory even before the game had begun. It is probably very difficult to explain what the source of such a feeling was. It probably stemmed from an absolute conviction in Him and the relationship that we share.

The next step involved getting clearance from higher authorities. However, when the case was presented to them, they rejected it outright. They believed that the trend of Swami coming for the MBA day was over and so it was no use trying. We however pushed hard and asked them to give us a chance. When they finally relented we put forward the idea of the play and presented them a copy of the script. This time we had crossed limits. They were flabbergasted. How could students even dream of staging a full-length play for Swami by rehearsing for just 5-6 days? On an average, a play of this kind would take at least 30 days to be presented. MBA students that we were, we would not be pushed back so easily. So we tried explaining how the details had been worked out and how groups and individuals had clearly been given their responsibilities and that by working 18 hours a day for the next five days we would surely be able to put up the show. But no amount of convincing helped and we were warned against pursuing our dreams.

Reluctantly we walked out. We were down but not out. As discussions continued about what to do next (we were still very sure that the play was going to happen), help came in an unexpected manner. We had not figured out that unknowingly we had managed to convince some of the higher authorities. They approached us and suggested that we should convey the news to Swami directly. This would be extremely risky but we were beyond the boundaries of fear by now. It was an obsession and it had to be fulfilled. 

That evening when we approached the Lord, He did not show too much interest and this upset us slightly, but we were not to be shaken off so easily. We went back and started rehearsing. We had planned the script in such a way that no particular character had a long appearance. This helped us to learn our lines fast. The next day we approached Swami again. His response seemed better than the previous day but it was still not motivating. Nonetheless, we continued with our efforts. We were given subtle warnings from various quarters but our determination got the better of us.

Come day 3, Swami took the initiative and asked us as to how the rehearsals were going on. We were thrilled. But still there was no assurance from the Lord about coming for the play. We at least knew that we were moving in the right direction.

Day 4 – Swami enquired about the characters in the play and asked the individuals playing those roles, questions relating to them. The signals were getting stronger, and slowly but surely the crowd had begun to change sides. More people wanted to join in and contribute.

Day 5 – Swami enquired about the day of the show. Then He indicated that there was another festival coming up and that He would not like to disappoint thousands of devotees who would be coming from far off places. We were dumbfounded. Had Swami been playing along with us? Quickly, one of our brothers said, “Swami, you tell us the date when You want to come, we will make that our MBA day.” It was almost as if Swami just wanted to hear this and He beamed with happiness. But then the Mayavi that He is, He quickly changed His emotions and said, “No, how is that possible?”. Then we all persuaded in unison saying that our MBA day was going to be the day that Swami would come to our College. This time He seemed happier, but quickly He changed the topic saying, “We’ll see.”

Day 6 – We were still going strong with rehearsals. We were unable to interact with Swami because of the festivities. This was our calendar MBA day.

Day 7 – Patience had run out and the authorities sounded us an ultimatum. It was going to be a decider that evening. Swami walked out and directly came to us. Again He asked us about the rehearsals and spoke to a few of the actors. Then even as we were planning to ask Him a date for putting up the show, He turned around and called some of the senior authorities and sought their feedback on the rehearsals. They were in for a shock and they admitted that they had not seen any of our rehearsals. Swami reprimanded them and said that when the students are putting up a programme for Swami they should cooperate. Then Swami turned to us, smiled mischievously and in His own unique way signaled to us, something that He tells His ‘pillalus’ time and again, “You and I are one, and nothing can come between us.”  He then confirmed that we should put up the play two days from then.

Overnight there was a transformation. The entire college – students, teachers and the administration were working together to put up the play. 

Sri Sathya Sai with the MBA Students after the Drama - August 2002
(Soumya as Ramakrishna Paramahamsa in the first row next to Swami)

The fact that Swami came and we put up the play and we had a wonderful time is only obvious; but for us the greatest learning had been that if the conviction is 100%, nothing can stop you from reaching your goal.

To sum it all up, I would like to quote from the Bhagawad Gita:
Yatra Yogeshwarah Krishna Yatra Partho Dhanurdharaha
Tatra Srivijayobhutihi Dhruva Nitirmatirmama

-    Soumya Chakraborty
Student (2001-2003), Department of Management Studies
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus
Senior Manager, Talent Development, Tata Consultancy Services

Source: Fragrance 2005

1 comment:

  1. "Love My Uncertainty", so said Swami many times to the students! This is yet another example of that all of us students have grown up with in our stay with Bhagawan. Fantastic.



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