It's said that lightning never strikes the same place twice, but it is obvious that this old adage cannot be applied to Mahatmas or festivals. Australian premies saw Mahatma Padarthanand Ji arrive back from the United States in time for the first day of Guru Puja. By some strange ciincidence it was a Thursday, "The Day of the Guru", the day on which Mahatma Ji first came to Australia (at Guru Puja) to end a nine month's wait.
Fitzzroy, Melbourne, played host to about 700 interstate and local premies, who had gathered together to celebrate their love and devotion for the Perfect Master. The intense feeling of being part of a large family was experienced even before the festival began, with propagation sorties into the local communities, crowded Satsang programs and heartfelt speculation as to whether Guru Maharaj Ji and his wife, Durga Mata Ji, would attend Guru Puja.
Even cold weather could not hide the warmth that the premies felt for each other. In the words of a devotional song, the city of Fitzroy changed the place it lived in from its head down to its heart. It was quite amazing to see smiling faces everywhere you walked, to see drivers giving way to each other amongst laughter and waving.
Everyone gathered in the city square at lunchtime to tell passers by about the night time programs and the perfect Knowledge that Guru Maharaj Ji reveals.
A Chinese dragon danced in and out of a circle of premies, while huge banners proclaimed, "Heaven is a state of mind - meditation takes you there", "Give peace a chance" and "Peace in meditation".
Each program began with a half hour of meditation followed, appropriately enough, by "Amazing Grace". Song after song emphasised the practical fruits of Guru Puja ("Love is the key we must turn, Truth is the flame we must burn, Freedom the lesson we must learn.") Behind the band, Guru Maharaj Ji's darshan photograph gazed directly into all the premies' hearts. Coloured lights revolved about his face, above his hand-carved throne and the stage of blue and silver.
New Zealand's play depicted the ancient battle between the forces of light and darkness for control of man's mind. The good fairy slugged it out with Mr local agent for "Trips Incorporated", finally winning by wielding a hefty wand in all directions, as humanity disguised as a clown travelled from the senses to the source.
"The Rose" saw the propagation of Knowledge amongst plant life and the natural elements. An especial highlight occurred when the rose growing amongst the rubbish was graced by a visit from a mock Mahatma. At that instant the spotlight flashed on the real Mahatma Ji, who responded with a broad grin and the O.K. signal ("Jai Satchitanand").
After the plays Mahatma Padarthanand Ji gave Satsang, explaining how we had to go past the attributes of life to its source. He described in great detail the blissful events of Guru Puja in America and Copenhagen. Whilst he described Mahatmas throwing chocolate to the audience in Copenhagen, he manifested some practical prashad from his pocket and threw a handful of lollies to the laughing premies. All hearts were touched by his account of how he placed a ring on Guru Maharaj Ji's finger, as a symbol of Australia's marriage to the Lord. Darshan story followed darshan story and when the time came to sing Arti, everyone had an aching desire to see Guru Maharaj Ji and Durga Mata Ji. As usual, rumours were abundant about the possibility of a holy visit. The first night was summed up in a song by the Rhythm in Bliss Band, "He can make a good thing happen".
Various fields of experience came together in the Learning Exchange. The Arts and Crafts meeting emphasised the need for greater communication through a monthly newsletter. Participants also discussed the establishment of a pottery in Hobart, Tasmania, and an Arts and Crafts centre in Noosa Heads, Queensland. (Craftsmen interested in working at the Noosa Heads Centre or supplying high quality products, ideas or information, write to Peter Saint, C/- Post Office, Noosa Heads, Queensland.)
The Steiner method of education was discussed in the education meeting, along with the need for educational ashrams. The best form of education, everyone decided, was love, and this had to be manifested by premie teachers within the state school system until a divine school had been established.
Each day was a perfect routine of service, Satsang and meditation.
Saturday's Street Fair was threatened by rain, but the sun returned to a bright scene of merry-go-rounds, pony rides, clowns and happy children. Inside the Town Hall, a concert featured music from all the interstate bands. And under the banner of "Love"in the lower hall, a craft exhibition featured woolspinning, silk-screening, artwork, leather goods, candles, knitted wear, silverwork and pottery, not to mention a wide variety of goods supplied bySoul Foods.
Shri Hans Humanitarian illustrated in its clinic at 322 Brunswick St., that disease was the "lackof ease" and the first step in its cure was a relaxing environment and tender loving care. Their facilities included a tea room (which soon became famous for its peaceful vibe), and massage and naturopathic services.
Also throughout the day premies participated in a community service drive in activities ranging from store work to tree removing for various organisations such as the Fitzroy Community Youth Club and the Brotherhood of St. Laurence.
The night's entertainment got under way in a flurry of old gags ("The blinds are drawn but the furniture is real") in the hilarious Sydney play, "The Private Eye", which had a neurotic sleuth hot on the trail of mysteriously smiling premies. And rapidly on its heels came Adelaide's star-studded spectacular, "Blast from the Past", which led the audience through a fast-paced vista of pop stars from Elvis Presley to Jimi Hendrix, all conjured up in the dream of "Ego Jacoby", the ultimate superstar. His dream turned to nightmare, however, as the super musical egos began to clash so violently that their uncontrolled emotions resulted in a hanging by strobe light, backed by the terrifying music of "Twentieth Century Schizoid Man", Ego awoke in confusion and turned to Mahatma Ji, "Can you tell me what is Truth, Mahatma Ji?", who instantly replied, "That is my only business here".
Mahatma Padarthanand Ji pointed out how the play had shown us our past lives, and we could compare how far the Knowledge had brought us from those times. We have only one goal, he said, and that is reached by devotion and obedience.
After a musical bracket from Rhythm in Bliss, Arti began with the Brisbane Choir, dressed in blue, and with Mahatma Ji carrying the Arti tray before Guru Maharaj Ji's throne. Each day was a perfect routine of service, Satsang and meditation.
The last night of Satsang summed up the incredible harmony of the whole festival. Mahatma Ji stressed the importance of meditation and propagation, how work is worship, and how the premies had to try really hard to bring Guru Maharaj Ji to a festival in spring. After his Satsang, everyone began dancing to the music of Rhythm in Bliss, who were playing like a band possessed (by love). Prashad of chocolates and "simply wonderfuls" was given out to the entire audience. Over 1,000 people lit up blue Arti tapers and the hall became a sea of light. One brother handed Mahatma Ji a coconut, favourite symbol of the crazy mind, which he held aloft for all to see before dedicating it at the Lotus Feet. Everyone was overjoyed, Arti was sung by one huge family, who could now see very practically how Guru Maharaj Ji would bring peace on earth.