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Love and Light

Spiritual Wing - First National Sadhana Meeting

3rd June 2012, London
Sai Jyothi 2012: Journey to the Divine Light
UK National Pilgrimage to Prasanthi Nilayam October 7-27th

'The first task of a Saadhaka is the cultivation of enthusiasm. Through that enthusiasm, he can derive any variety of Ananda. Never get inflated when you are praised, never get deflated when you are blamed. Be a spiritual Lion, regardless of both. One must oneself analyse and correct one’s faults, this is most important.'
-Bhagawan Baba, Prema Vahini p113

For the first of the four Sadhana Meetings, planned as part of the preparation for the sacred Sai Jyothi UK National Pilgrimage in October 2012, it was heartening to see about 150 fellow Sadhakas assemble with great enthusiasm and love in Watford, London despite the slightly damp weather conditions on the 3rd of June. The day started at 10:30 am with the group chanting Sri Sathya Sai Ashtottharam (108 names of Bhagawan) followed by bhajans.

Dr. Kiran Patel, National chairperson of the SSSSOUK welcomed the gathering. He reminded everyone that Prasanthi Nilayam is the holiest of holy places, an epicentre from where the entire mission of our divine master unfolded, and indeed our spiritual birthplace. The majestic Temples of healing and education in Prasanthi Nilayam came about very quietly without any advertisement, and stand in testimony to the Divine Will, Glory and Leelas of our beloved Bhagawan. They also reflect the eternal relationship of pure love between God and Man. Just like the monkeys in the Rama Avatar built the bridge by chanting the divine name of Lord Rama, so too in this age, devotees participated in constructing these mighty institutions by chanting the Name Sai Rama while engaged in various tasks, including carrying sand bags and bricks.

Karthik Prashanth , an alumnus of the Sathya Sai institute was our programme Anchor for the day. He said that when Bhagawan wants to shower his grace on us, we should be able to receive it. For this we need to be in the recipient mode, ready and prepared to be drenched in the divine love and grace. The Sadhana meets will help us towards achieving this goal. He narrated an incident when a few of them as youngsters got together and wanted to do all night bhajans to draw Swami’s attention. They tried their best but couldn’t continue with the endeavour and soon fell asleep. The next day at darshan, Swami came up to them and encouraged them by acknowledging their effort and said that it was the motive and the spirit that mattered most.

This was followed by a detailed presentation about the Sai Jyothi Pilgrimage by a team lead by Dr. Kumi Pillai. Brother Kumi highlighted the inner significance of the Journey to the Divine Light, and took us all down the memory lane by reminiscing on the blissful experiences of Darshan , Sparshan and Sambhashan granted in Prashanthi to many devotees and groups from UK over the years. When like minded aspirants with a common spiritual goal get together in a spirit of unity and devotion, great things are achieved and much progress is made spiritually. The sadhana meetings are planned with this in mind where all of us have the opportunity to light the Lamp of Love, can take steps to preserve its brilliance and enhance its lustre. We will then be able to connect to the source and draw our sustenance from it. He reiterated that in times when we lead very busy lives, this pilgrimage offers us a golden opportunity to share a common platform of service and spirituality.

Brother Karthik then gave a quick outline of the Sadhana plan which includes Likhitha nama japam, study of five vahinis ( Sandeha Nivarini ,Prema Vahini, Dharma Vahini, Dhyana Vahini, Sathya Sai Vahini), daily prayer (Suprabhatham, Ashtottharam and Nirvana Shathakam) and finally practice of ceiling on desires. This was followed by Brother Jamie Raju detailing the logistics of Registration, travel arrangements, accommodation etc and the various features of the website created for the pilgrimage.

http://www.srisathyasai.org.uk/national-programmes/nationalpilgrimage2012/

Grama Seva in the villages around Prasanthi Nilayam is a unique aspect of this National Pilgrimage. It is a great opportunity for the young men in our country to serve and learn invaluable lessons in simplicity, contentment, gratitude and faith in God. Dr. Amit Patel shared how his experience from a Grama Seva trip to Prasanthi in 2006 had a profound impact on his life. He said the change in his attitude and outlook towards service, towards keeping a check on his desires, and the deep feelings of love towards Swami following that visit helped him in his daily life including his career.

We then had a refreshing and uplifting ten minute session of Jyothi meditation ( Meditation on the Light). Please find the link below: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldq3eChOAm0

The national spiritual co coordinator, Dr. Veeru Mudigonda, took us all through the Nirvana Shatakam.Nirvana Shathakam is a six stanza composition (Shatakam) by Sri Adi Sankaracharya at the age of eight. He was a great sage who lived around 780 AD and brought to the attention of modern man the eternal concept of Advaitha or non-dualism. The translation that was presented was rendered by another great saint and proponent of the vedantic thought, Swami Vivekananda. Brother Veeru mentioned that as students of Swami, this Shatakam was often sung in Swami's Divine Presence. The words in Sanskrit and their meanings are quite profound and significant. Just contemplating on them elevates the spirit towards expansion and freedom.

We were indeed blessed to have amongst us two very eminent guest speakers for the day: Sri H J Dora and Sri Ajitbhai Popat.

Sri HJ Dora is a highly decorated officer of the Indian Police Service, and an ardent devotee of Bhagawan Baba since the year 1965. Bhagawan has handpicked him to serve in many key roles in His Divine Mission, and especially in his current role as one of the Directors of the Sri Sathya Sai World Foundation.
Professionally and personally, at every significant stage of his life he was able to receive Blessings from Swami directly. He most often served as ‘Swami’s Car Driver’ whenever Bhagawan toured the various cities and villages of Andhra Pradesh, and Swami blessed Him by visiting their home too.

Sri Dora spoke on the topic ‘Journey to the Divine’. Some of the key points are mentioned here. Whether aware or not, we are constantly making a journey towards God, he said. When man goes astray, Avathars take the physical form from time to time to guide mankind back on track. He explained the difference between a saint and an avathar as revealed by Swami. Saints through practice evolve and achieve awareness of the supreme, while the Avathar who is verily the Supreme Consciousness, descends to a physical form so as to guide humanity.

Swami was completely detached, Sri Dora reflected, even at the tender age of 14 when he declared his avatharhood. He addressed his father, Pedda Venkapa Raju, as gruham abbayi (the man of the house) and his mother, Easwaramma, as gruham ammayi (the lady of the house).

Avathar comes with a clear and complete road map laid. And Swami had said that once He Decides, no power will be able to obstruct His Will. Swami had no advantage whatsoever as he was born in a rural village in one of the poorest parts of Andhra Pradesh. Puttaparthi was a very primitive place and Swami was born into a poor family. Now puttaparthi is on the world map and is a spiritual epicentre. This is possible only because Swami is Kaliyuga avathar, the Incarnation of the Age.

Bhagawan's prediction in 1943

Sri Dora narrated an experience of a devotee to whom, as early as 1943, Swami as a little boy foretold the great events that were to unfold, including the construction of the Prasanthi Nilayam Mandir, super specialty hospitals, University etc facilities which exist now. He described the coming of millions of devotees including those from distant countries. People around Him found it difficult to believe as Puttaparthi was a very remote, snake-infested dry land, and Swami only a small seventeen year old boy! Swami was always surrounded by people who were in utter disbelief and always questioned his predictions. This was purely because of the Maya which engulfed them.

Avathars don’t fail

Swami had a clear vision about his mission right from his birth. Swami always guided all those who followed him with faith and love, in spiritual and personal issues. He constantly toiled for their spiritual uplift, and in fact had no holiday in the 86 years of His Life on earth. Wherever he went, he was always surrounded by thousands of devotees! Swami’s sankalpam (Intention or thought) is as strong as a diamond (Vajra Sankalpam)

Whenever Baba wished anything it would happen well within time inspite of several obstacles. The hospitals were opened on time and surgeries were performed as declared inspite of acute shortages of cement and steel. 2000 kilometres long pipelines were laid for the supply of water to remote villages. With great regard and respect people came forward and offered their land for this project.

Miracle defies scientific principles

Being contemporaries, we don’t understand the importance of the moment and even doubt Swami’s actions. He explained how Dr S Bhagavantham an ardent devotee of Bhagawan and a great physicist, was mystified as to how two metallic objects could stick to each other without even the generation of any heat, as it happened when Swami casually stuck a pendant to a silver idol of Shirdi Baba! Sri Dora himself was a close eyewitness to many a traditional ‘ear-piercing ceremony’ performed by Swami where the little girls didn’t feel any pain nor was there any bleeding!

Sri Dora in his conclusion said that Swami always followed what he said. In spite of the money pouring in, mega projects etc, there was never a change in the life style of Swami. He is an embodiment of love, and love alone is the most powerful instrument. Devotees from several countries came to Swami’s feet only through his message of universal love.

We had a sumptuous lunch and this was followed by Likhitha nama japam. The gathered devotees spent about ten minutes in writing the divine name. Brother Veeru explained the significance of writing Swami’s divine name everyday. He narrated how Swami made a room just outside the Sai Kulwanth hall for the completed Nama Japam books written by his devotees. Swami then installed a marble idol of Lord Hanuman over the vault, as He said that only Hanuman could withstand the vibrations generated by these books. Devotees aspiring to participate in the Likhitha Japam should write regularly and have a particular time dedicated to it. It is vital to have a silent and peaceful atmosphere to visualise the Form and experience the qualities of Love and Bliss associated with it. Care should be taken to not treat this just as a mechanical exercise. This Sadhana apart from being practised daily by an individual, could also be undertaken together periodically as a group either with in the family or even in our respective Sai Centres to motivate one another and reap the benefits.

The next speaker of the day was Sri. Ajit Popat, who spoke on Grama Seva is Sai Rama Seva. Sri Ajitbhai Popat, whom Bhagawan used to address endearingly and lovingly as Puppet, is well known to the Sai family in UK and beyond. Dedicated to the service of our Divine Master, Sri Ajitbhai has been blessed by Bhagawan to participate in many significant projects such as Swami’s Hospitals in Prasanthi Nilayam and Whitefield, Parthi ‘Grama Seva’, and various Parthi Yatras (pilgrimages) from UK. An inspirational and insightful speaker, he was one of the fortunate few who was regularly invited by our dear Bhagawan to address the august gatherings in His Divine Presence on various occasions.

Sri Ajitbhai Popat took the whole gathering on a roller coaster ride for the next one hour. It was a very emotional and every minute was uplifting and spiritually elevating. He spoke about the significance of Grama Seva and why it was so special and endearing to swami. Ajit bhai was granted the opportunity by Swami to participate in Grama Seva in the year 2000 and it continued every year from then on. Some of the highlights of his talk are given here.

God in Action

Swami once said to Ajit bhai: Do you want to see god in action? If so go and join Grama Seva boys. Baba took active role and lead from the front. The planning started from as early as Shivaratri and lasted till Navarathri (Dasara). Swami would enquire every evening about the day’s events, and was very pleased with the Seva done by the UK boys. The UK boys in spite of several difficulties always participated in Seva enthusiastically. They overcame language barrier by learning the local language. They came face-to-face with abject poverty and thus understood the largesse that in comparison they were bestowed with in their home country.

PHD : Pure Hearted Devotee

Swami once asked Ajit bhai (AB): What is PhD?

AB: Doctorate swami.

Swami: No. No. It is Pure Hearted Devotee

Swami then said spend time with my boys during the Grama Seva and that is the best Sadhana. Swami reiterated that one of his eyes is on the devotee while the other eye is on Grama Seva.

Grama Seva : A process of learning

Swami highlighted that Grama Seva is a learning process and that it is not a process of serving. Swami once remarked that one should go deep rather than always swim in the superficial waters of spirituality and service. He went to state – ‘When god is ready, you should be ever ready!’

The whole gathering was absolutely silent and was very emotional when he narrated few conversations between Swami and himself during the Grama Seva time. One evening Ajit bhai mentioned about a 100 year old lady to Swami to whom they had given a saree during Grama Seva that day. Swami was very happy and enquired with great concern and love, ‘Did she wear the saree? Please ask her to wear it. Will you?’

Swami said to Ajit bhai on one occasion, ‘ To serve, don’t just look for opportunities. Create opportunity! That will make me proud! There is no use of just having good intentions, when you don’t have the plan to translate them into definitive action.’

Baba is Allah

Once during Grama Seva which happened to coincide with the holy month of Ramadan, Ajitbhai came across a devotee who was just returning after the evening prayers. He offered Swami’s Prasadam to this devout Muslim who immediately was overwhelmed how Baba answered his prayers to Allah. On another occasion, when he enquired from a lady in a village if she was happy with the choice of the saree given to her as Prasadam, the lady without any hesitation retorted that there could never be anything wrong with God’s Choice, and could never be a substitute for Swami’s Prasadam.

3 kinds of devotees

Swami explained that there are three kinds of devotees. One who follows to the core whatever Swami says, second is the one who needs constant prompting, and the third is the one who anticipates the wishes of the Master, and plans and executes even before he is told. One should aim to anticipate and carry out Swami’s work with utmost motivation and love.

Ajitbhai concluded that indeed we, his devotees, are his legacy. Every moment is golden and let Him operate while we cooperate. God is working with us, not working for us. Baba created facilities so that one day we will follow in his footsteps. The intensity of our involvement should be similar to that of a person dying of thirst for a drop of water in a desert. It was a truly emotional and unforgettable experience listening to Ajit bhai.

Brother Kiran Patel summarised in conclusion and offered his gratitude to Swami and His devotees. He said that past is past and future is uncertain, but the present is important. So it is all the more important for all of us to embark on this divine journey.

Time just flew and the event concluded with Arathi. It was a truly enlightening Sadhana meet which I will cherish for ever.

Please click here to download the days power-point presentation

Dr Vijay Anand Nadella
R5 Spiritual Coordinator