The Message and Ministrations of Dewan Bahadur R. Venkata Ratnam, volume 2/Chapter 19
BIRTHDAY FAMILY SERVICE.*
Om! Glory, glory, thrice-sung glory unto the Giver of all good! He is the sole Giver of all good : of all that is good, of what is wholly good, of the good that never fails, of the good whence all good springs and spreads, of the good that consecrates every life unto the good. Unto Him, the Giver of the supreme good, glory, glory, glory for ever!
We need no udbodhan, no special invocation of the spirit-no separate exhortation, to apply the mind or to attune the heart to God. The darling, dear unto us all in the All-merciful and All-blessing God—he is the solemn udbodhan, the uplifting invocation to-day, as our eyes and hearts dwell on him, braced with the goodness, beaming with the grace, of God. He is unto our lives a rich token of the love of God—of the motherly affection, the fatherly protection, of God. The dear one, so charming to our eyes and so enchanting to our hearts—that is the call, the compelling call, to us that we do turn to Him, the Giver of all good, in profound reverence, and praise and glorify Him with boundless gratitude. He has vouchsafed this priceless boon unto this home, this circle of relations and friends, this ancient and honoured House; and yet He asks for no return, He looks for no acknowledgment from us. However, the intense craving, the irrepressible longing, of our grateful hearts impels us to thank Him, to praise Him, to glorify Him; for He is the good God, the gracious Giver of all good.
The sages have seer, and said that this entire creation is indwelt and inspired by God; and we have been taught, it has been brought home to us, that this wide-spread universe is the sacred temple of the supreme Deity. When exalted to this blessed consciousness, wherever we be, we stand on the holy ground of His temple, we are always and everywhere in the sanctifying presence of our God. Nevertheless, while He is the all-including, the all-pervading, the all-transcending One, even to betoken His particular solicitude, love and grace, He comes home to us, time and again, in events and experiences, in incidents and suggestions, that move the heart and urge the spirit with an irresistible attraction towards God; and then we know that God is, not merely the general protector and the common companion, but also the individual care-taker and the personal friend of each one of us. He thus grants it unto us to see and feel, to realise and rejoice, that not in the gross, not in the aggregate, but through direct, care, individual attention, intimate affection, He comes close and He attaches Himself to us. Thereby He endears Himself to each one of us as our own author, protector, preserver, friend, teacher, saviour, spouse : He thus rears unto Himself a sweet home in the loving heart and a holy sanctuary in the adoring soul of each one of His children. At one time we stand in the outer temple of the universe, next we are drawn into the inner shrine of the home; and further still we are translated into the holy of holies of the soul. Hence, far yet near, everywhere yet at home, always yet now, vast without yet intimate within, He stands revealed, beyond doubt, to our physical senses as well as to our feeling hearts. Blessed, blessed, blessed be His name!
Hymn-Anandamaye Brahmanandamaye (Telugu)
Thou art our own God; truly and verily Thou art our own dear God. Our hearts abounding with joy, we approach Thy holy feet today. As we behold Thy boon, Thy blessing, in this dear one, how our hearts fill and flow out with feelings of gratitude unto Thee! Thou hast undoubtedly been near and dear unto us. This our humble home, this our little household has been glorified, has been sanctified, by Thy presence. Thou art that profound reality of which all this is a marvellous manifestation. Thy tender, affectionate, providential presence illumines this home, enlivens this family; we bow down before Thee and we thank Thee, not out of the awe urged by majesty, but out of the reverence inspired by love and holiness. We are nearer and closer unto Thee than the embrace of Thy love; we are inspired and indwelt by Thine own hallowed spirit. Oh! Thou dear God, Thou thrice-beloved Lord, blessed, blessed, blessed be Thy name!
Tnou art undoubtedly present here : this dear one is the witness of Thy sweet presence. Aye, the whole frame thrills with the quickening touch of Thy holy presence. Dear One, sweet One, gracious One, enrapturing One, we reverently bow down before Thee, in devout obeisance unto Thy holy spirit. Indeed, we are so suffused with the sense of our closeness and dearness unto Thee that we hardly know how to think and feel that we are apart enough to talk to Thee and to thank Thee. All-embracing, all-pervading that Thou art, do Tnou graciously grant that unto these grateful hearts and adoring souls it might be possible to stand a little aside, just one step apart, that we might glance at Thee, that we might rejoice to feel how charming, how bewitchingly beautiful Thou art. Oh! Thou sweet One, even because Thou art the sweet God, Thou art also the sacred God; Thou art happiness itself, even because Thou art holiness itself; Thou art goodness itself, even because Thou art grace itself. Sweet and holy, good and gracious, Thou dost really transform the whole Universe into Thy tabernacle and transfigure every soul into the image of Thy sacred Self. Hence, it sounds almost like presumption to say, we thank Thee! Art Thou not too near for words and too inward for thoughts? Infused into every particle of our being, inwoven into every incident of our lives, Thou art too intimate for the heart to conceive, Thou art too unique for the tongue to describe. Nevertheless, if not to clarify the thought, yet to ease the strain on the heart, these winged words come spontaneously upon the lip. Oh! Thou sweet One, we thank Thee, we praise Thee, we blesss Thee, we glorify Thee. Hallowed, hallowed be Thy name!
Hymn—Dinamadi sudinamugada (Telugu)
This home is ours, only so far as Thou dwellest in it with us; this home is ours, only so long as we dwell in Thy happy company. This home is ours that we might be privileged to make it Thy abode. From Thee it comes as Thy gift and blessing, to be rendered back unto Thee as a love-token and a thank-offering. This home is dear for Thy sake and happy as indwelt by Thee. May this strengthening, sanctifying sense of our living in Thine own abode, abide with us always, filling our whole hearts and shaping our entire lives, everywhere and at all times! Carried, as though on the wings of the winds, we go from here to what are called far-off-places; but there, too, Thou art as surely and clearly manifest as here; and we feel perfectly at home. Indeed, we have not gone, we can never go, to an unknown land; since we can never go away from Thee, we can never roam out of Thy reach. Wherever we are? Thou art with us, we are in Thee. Again, as we come back to what the world calls our home, we are, as before, with Thee, abiding, as ever, in Thee. Thus we are always at home, everywhere at home; since Thou art our home. We rejoice in this blissful consciousness, in this blessed assurance, that Thou art our home and for ever we dwell in Thee as our home.
Divided in body but united in heart and Soul, we trace the course of our days as co-pilgrims; and Thou art pleased to bless our progress with Thine own rare boons, Thine own bountiful gifts. Parent, spouse, child, preceptor, companion, friend, associate—all are land-marks of the soul's progress in this pilgrimage of life; for them all We render our whole-hearted thanks Unto Thee. God hovering, God accompanying, God sustaining, God preceding, God following—such is the bliss of this life-pilgrimage; and as the pilgrims greet one another, they realise that this pilgrimage is all in Thee and unto Thee; and for this we render Thee our whole-hearted thanks.
This darling comes to us out of Thy mystery—a secret, no doubt open as day-light unto Thee, but wonderful as a marvel unto us—the miracle of maternity. And as the darling comes, Thy providence, Thy anticipative mercy, prompts us to press the darling to our bosoms as Thy gift—a fresh donation of Thy love, anew ministration of Thy grace; and in the advent of this darling we sight Thee, in the caress of this cherub we touch Thee. Its smiles are Thy greetings; its lisps are Thy messages; and we feel blessed in them. As we count each day in the growing life of this sweet one, we feel the call to a new promise and pledge, to a fresh covenant with Thee—the covenant to own Thee and trust Thee as our sole care-taker, our ever-vigilant protector, our ever-faithful friend, our ever-reliable guide in this heavenward pilgrimage. This darling's daily life, so wisely ordered and so mercifully nurtured, reiterates the convictian to our hearts that the rarest gifts of our lives come out of Thy pure grace, Thy unsolicited, unexpected, abounding grace. Thus the life of this dear little one is alike an illumination unto the mind and a benediction unto the heart. And we thank Thee and we bless Thee, the good God, the gracious God, for this precious darling—the source of our hearts' comfort and joy, the object of our souls' prayer and hope. We feel we cannot adequately acknowledge, we cannot correctly estimate, we cannot even clearly conceive, the immense measure of our gratitude and our thankfulness. What has he not been unto us, during these twelve merciful years, as a perennial proof of Thy providence? When the perplexed mind or the doubting heart asks, what-like will the morrow be?, Thou presentest this loved one to the mind and to the heart: as though to say, here is the pledge of mercy, here is the guarantee of goodness, for the morrow; and thus we are taught to bow down before Thee and to trust in Thee. Erring in our plans and purposes, frail in our vows and resolves, we do not quite know, we cannot clearly make out, the marvels and the mercies which Thy divine design seeks to disclose even through our erring ways and our wasted days. For the advancing years unfold the guidance of Thy spirit in the life of every man and reveal the triumph of Thy grace over all human temptations. We are thus trained ardently to desire and taught devoutly to pray, "Thy will be done, truly and verily, Thy will be done!" In this manner the pledge of Thy providence is ratified through Thy daily and hourly nurturing of this infant life, through Thy ceaseless watch over these tender buds of affection; and as we repeatedly experience Thy mercy, Thy love, thus manifested to our eyes and conveyed into our hearts, we ask, in wonder, what richer blessings we could have even from Thee, the God of all goodness. And involuntarily the grateful heart and the rejoicing soul exclaim, "God of goodness and of grace, for this dear boon of Thy love, for this rare gift of Thy grace, do Thou accept our self-surrendering obeisance unto Thee." Blessed, blessed, blessed be Thy name!
Hymn—Anandamritha Namah (Sanskrit)
Twelve years, twelve precious years, twelve blessed years counted, not with the beat of the clock, but with the prayers and benedictions of the heart, how passing rich they have been with Thy mercies! Oh! Mother, Father, Friend, Protector, Teacher, Sanctifier, how significant, how informing, low purposeful, have these twelve years been unto us! How they have been daily reminders unto us of our duty to sanctify ill our aims and endeavours with unswerving trust in Thy wisdom and unflinching obedience to Thy will! Indeed, this darling is a standing miracle, evoking our profound adoration—a living cell, a growing germ, a self-unfolding shape, a finished figure, a hope incarnate, a joy manifest! Thou, the Sternal One, Thou hast thus chosen to reveal Thy ever-present providence unto our eyes; aye, even to bring home to our hearts the supreme reality of Thy participation and Thy benediotion in our daily, hourly life. For all this mercy we humbly, gratefully, reverently render our warmest thanks unto Thee. Blessed, blessed, blessed be Thou now and for ever!
We would recount unto Thee, with the thanks of our hearts and the praise of our Souls, these numerous tokens and manifestations of Thy love and mercy, even through this, the very dear, lovingly-cherished gift of our darling. With what aching eagerness of the heart we besought Thy mercy to be made manifest unto our eyes and our hearts— how we wept and implored, how we sighed and supplicated, to be vouchsafed a light to be illumining, cheering, adoring this House! Then the darling—the response unto our prayers and the recompense unto our tears—came, not as nature's normal product, but as God's special boon; and we bowed before Thee and we sang Thy praise. And now, with the liveliest memories, we recall that auspicious moment of his advent—a star, a blossom, a sweet music-note, a buoyant life-throb, fresh added to creation. Yet we could not imagine or foresee the full worth of this blessing. With advancing years, as the silver line has broadened, as the crescent moon has waxed, what wealth of intelligence, affection, hope, joy has been gradually disclosed! He has thus been an abiding witness of Thy mercy unto us.
Yet such is the frailty of our faith that we often forget that this Thy gift Is safe and secure with the guarantee of Thy providential watch. A passing cloud of distemper would make us sigh and feel perplexed; yet every time Thou wouldst convey the soothing glance of Thy presence, the cheering touch of Thy mercy, unto our troubled hearts. And the repeated stimulus thus given to trust and hope has been of inestimable service in winning our souls to Thy adoration. For all this direct dispensation of Thy mercy and grace we render our thanks unto Thee,--Again, how this growing joy has been inducing a growing life in us—its lisp developed into speech, its toddle quickened into race, its glance deepened into observation, its touch intensified into study; all these have served to widen our prospect, sweeten our tasks, soothe our pains, chasten our pleasures, enlarge our sympathies, fortify our faith. The dear one has been growing under our eyes; the mind as the repository of knowledge, the heart as the casket of love, the conscience as the oracle of the right, the soul as the shrine of the Spirit, the body as the vehicle of service—all these have been growing and expanding as the very fulfilment of our prayers. And with these, the father's heart and the mother's heart, bow they have felt or formed fresh hopes and fresh duties, fresh promises and fresh pledges! For all these, we render our whole-hearted thanks unto Thee.—Then, the other darlings who have come after him, feasting the eye, gladdening the heart, enchanting the soul—how they have repeated and multiplied, through their growing lives, all the marvels and mercies revealed through their elder brother! Thus Thy holy spirit has been building up this sweet home, with its verified hopes and augmented trust, with its reinforced energies and amplified love, all to be employed in Thy service and devoted unto Thy glory. Blessed, blessed, blessed be Thy name!
Hymn—Vandanam sada Anandadevatha (Sanskrit)
Again we approach Thy footstool, we bow before Thy sacred feet, and we deposit on Thy holy altar all the hopes and all the expectations of our hearts. We would own and acknowledge that: Thy love is the pledge unto those hopes, Thy mercy the warrant for those expectations. Why should we petition for favours; why should we appeal for mercies? Thou anticipatest all the favours that we would seek; Thou vouchsafest in advance all the mercies that we would supplicate. Even as the loving and beloved child approaches the dear and honoured parent, we approach Thee; not to disclose the hidden, not to reveal the unknown, but to own and to proclaim that the parent has been a true parent, a good parent, a loving parent, a gracious parent—more faithful than a friend, more constant than a companion, more solicitous than a preceptor, more watchful than a care-taker, more intimate than a guide. Thou art not merely the designer and the author, Thou art truly and verily the whole substance, the entire sustenance, the total happiness, of our lives. We, therefore, confidently look forward to the future well-being, the steady growth and the certain happiness, of our darling, in Thy providence and through Thy grace, notwithstanding our shortcomings. And thus we render unto Thee—unto Thy keeping and care—this gift that Thou hast so mercifully vouchsafed unto us. May we never fail of confidence, of sure trust and certain hope, that the future of our darling is ordained to be bright and cheerful through Thy grace! May we ever rest firm in the faith that this dear one will grow thoughtfully, truth fully, and benevolently, under Thy protection; and may we ever retain the assurance that our prayers and supplications will be fulfilled in his God-fearing and God-adoring life and that whatever we have, in our humble day, wished and desired to do, will be achieved and accomplished in his career, through Thy mercy and Thy grace! The faith which we have struggled to keep, may he steadily sustain; the love which we have imperfectly realised, may he live in all its fulness; where we have halted in doubt, may he walk steady in wisdom! Thus in Thy mercy, through Thy grace, may he be a guarantee that our home, our family, our House, will be still further exalted in the good-will of man and the glory of God! Vouchsafe unto us the belief and the trust that our endeavours will be his accomplishments; our friends will be his unfailing supporters; and thus your prayers will be the realised assets of his life. And grant, we beseech Thee, that Thy mercy may so grow and Thy grace may so dwell in him that he be the loving brother unto all those that count as kith and kin, and the benevolent care-taker unto all those that number among the well-wishers and dependents, of this family. Likewise, may these six beloved nurslings grow together as the darlings of grace, achieving for this ancient and illustrious House an imperishable name for love and service! And these dear, pure ones, may they grow sweetly and securely in Thy love, Thy wisdom and Thy holiness! And not only these six, but also and likewise, these threescore and more,*made dear unto us even through the inspiration of Thy love, these fair blossoms, may they grow into the full fruit, of Thy mercy! From the heart of the desert Thou callest forth the living spring; in the centre of the gloom Thou kindlest the shining stars; out of the deeps of despair Thou churnest up the nectar of hope; even thus, amidst our arid apathy Thou hast planted this Kalpatharu of Love. The fatherless fathered, the motherless mothered, the homeless nestled, the rejected owned, the forlorn embraced, they are Thine own children, the very offspring of Thy love. As our hearts beat in unison with theirs, even here is reared Thy shrine, Thy sacred fane. Blessed, blessed, blessed be Thou; as we feel blessed in and through them, and we bless Thee for them!
This household, this larger home, this ever-growing family, do Thou bless it! Do Thou bless him and her that constitute its fatherly protection and its motherly affection. Thou hast set unto them the solemn duty of fostering these tender ones; grant unto them Thy guidance, impart unto them Thy strength, reveal unto them Thy purpose, vouchsafe unto them Thy love,, in an ever-increasing measure. Grant, we beseech Thee, likewise, Thy mercy and Thy grace unto all those that are gathered hero as the well-wishers of the House. May they all be tilled with the one sweet sense of fellowship in spirit: and may they all be knit together with the holy ties of brotherhood in God! Thus may Thy supreme purpose be achieved, even the Universal Sway of Love and the Eternal Reign of Righteousness! Blessed, blessed,, blessed be Thou, now and for evermore!
Om! Brahma Kripahi Kevalam!
Om! Santhih! Santhih! Santhih!
- In Pithapuram Palace, on the twelfth birthday of the senior Mahavajakumar (8—10—22.).
- * The 'children' of the Maharajah's Orphanage, present at the Service.