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National Sai Remembrance Day 2012 - Celebrating the "Religion of Universal Love”

Like a feast to a starving man,
Like rain for the parched earth,
Like a child to one yearning for a son,
The Lord comes to protect Dharma, And save the virtuous and the good.
-Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

It may have been the wettest April on record in UK, but the rains could not dampen the spirits of the 1500 devotees from around the country who had gathered in Leicester, for the National Sai Remembrance Day. Indeed these were not April showers - in our hearts they were verily summer showers in Brindavan, as we had amidst us as our Chief Guest Sri Sanjay Sahni from Brindavan! A year on since Swami’s physical departure, apparently so much had changed and yet so little in reality! Deep down we know He had not gone at all. No doubt He is closer to us than ever before, eager to connect with us than ever before!

It is well known that Constant Remembrance of the Divine Lord confers the experience of oneness with the divine, as demonstrated by many supreme devotees of the Lord such as the gopikas, the cowherdesses during the Krishna Avathar. The gopikas regarded the Lord as their constant companion and their most precious treasure. Their hearts thus filled with this divine consciousness, they saw the divine in everything and everywhere. They realised that Jnana or supreme wisdom is nothing but the awareness and experience of this Oneness.

The National Sai Remembrance Day afforded everyone of us another opportunity to fill our hearts with such divine consciousness and Love. Looking around at the tremendous love that had gone into arranging everything, from the breath taking altar to the warmth of the Sevadals, it was clear that this was going to be a day to remember.

‘There is only One Religion: The Religion of Love’ is the Divine Declaration of Bhagawan Baba. In the spirit of this Universal Message, the program commenced with a beautiful procession by the SSE children led by representatives from various religions and faiths. And though varied in language and melody, each leader chanted to the same tune of that one divinity that envelops and resides in all. After the prayers and chantings, the children of the Sai Spiritual Education Choir delighted everyone by giving a sublime rendition of two songs they had performed in Swami’s Divine Presence in Prasanthi Nilayam during the National UK Pilgrimage in 2012 - George Harrison’s ‘All you need is love’ and ‘My sweet lord’, before finishing with Samasta Loka Sukhino Bhavanthu. The divine synergy of Love for God that emanated from the Stage occupied by these leaders and children enveloped the ambience in the auditorium, and an immensely positive vibrations of hope, harmony and peace were experienced by one and all.

Opening Address by Dr Kiran Patel

Dr Kiran Patel, National Chair of the SSSS Organisation in UK, gave a warm welcome, reminding us of the glory and purpose for which the Poorna Avatar had come. He inspired us by stressing the importance of Swami’s mission - the brotherhood of man, and how we should all make His mission our own life’s mission simply by loving more and more.

'Love is My Form' Keynote Address : Sanjay Sahni Part 1

We were blessed to have with us, as our esteemed guest for the day, brother Sanjay Sahni, Director of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Brindavan Campus, who gave a rapturous, awe inspiring talk.

Behind the many wonderful experiences that he shared with us about the time he spent in the Divine Presence of our dear Bhagawan, his message was simple and clear, although one that is often forgotten: Swami is always with us! This was lucidly expressed as a Manthra given by Swami during the 1986 Guru Poornima celebrations- Devudunnadu (Telugu) – which translates to ‘God is’.

If we understood this, brother Sanjay Sahni said, we could not do any wrong. Our lives would be sanctified and we could participate fully in his Divine Mission. If we understood this, we were certain to experience him, in every corner around us; filling everything, pervading everything.

'Prema Vahini' Eternal Stream of Divine Love : Musical Tribute by Ustad Dharambir Singhji MBE

After a hearty lunch we were treated to an elevating musical performance by Ustad Dharambir Singh, one of the most prominent sitar players and Indian music teachers in the UK. He was accompanied by his illustrious and well known disciple, sister Roopa Panesar, who had the good fortune to perform in the Divine Presence of Bhagawan in Prasanthi Nilayam; by Kaviraj Singh on Santoor; and by the Tabla duo of Gurdain Singh Reyatt and Upneet Singh. Ustad ji’s humility and love for God were abundantly evident in his introductory words and his musical rendition.

Their soulful and unique way of playing left us all enthralled, each one of the musicians displayed great talent, skill and expertise. And we all sang wholeheartedly when they performed one or two familiar bhajans.

'Living in God is Realization' : Sanjay Sahni Part 2

As the music drew to an electrifying finale our eager ears were captivated once more by the continuation of Sanjay Sahni’s talk.

“Living with god”, he said, “was education, living for god was service, and living in god was spirituality”. Spirituality was nothing short of realisation!

Using the example of Hanuman, he reminded us that we should all become perfect servants of the Lord. The whole Ramayana was enacted to show to the world the sterling example of Hanuman- his love for the Lord, his unflinching faith in the Lord, and his readiness to serve the Lord at all times. In the same way Swami came to show to the world the love in action exemplified by his devotees – this paradigm is now our opportunity to carry this ideal of selfless service and transform our lives.

The Lord does not discriminate between colour and creed, young and old. All were entitled to play a part in this divine mission. The only qualification was steadfastness of faith and unswerving love for all beings. Brother Sanjay concluded – Swami’s physical mission may have been over, but that was just the first part to this divine saga. The second part was only now commencing when we the devotees will work in unity and love, and achieve great things in His Divine Name.

It is difficult to describe how lucky we were to hear from a man who had moved so close with Bhagawan and whose life in every way echoed Bhagawan’s message. We were all more fortunate than we could ever imagine!

Valedictory Address: Mrs Manjula Sood MBE,

Finally, a riveting closing address was delivered by Mrs Manjula Sood, Deputy Mayor of Leicester City Council and Chairperson of the Leicester Interfaith Council. Sister Manjula gave practical and powerful ways with which we can apply Swami’s message in our day to day lives. She stressed the importance of working together with all faiths to serve humanity. And yet, more than her words it was her character - how she had adhered so steadfastly to human values even in the midst of public life- that was truly a ray of light unto us all.

The day was brought to a close by an exhilarating session of uplifting bhajans. It seemed as if all hearts sang, prayed and conversed with the Divine within, expressing gratitude and deep love. Indeed the day would not be forgotten! It was the first of its kind in 2012, but certainly not the last. And the higher message the day seemed to convey was to live every moment of our lives in the eternal presence of our loving Bhagawan, and in the constant divine consciousness that the entire cosmos and every living being in it are reflections of the Divine. Just as the gopikas of Brindavan!

Subo Gunasegaram
Youth Wing, UK