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Love and Light

National Pilgrimage 2013 - 1st Sadhana Meeting

A gloriously sunny day was unfolding around Oxhey Wood Primary School, Watford, when I arrived for the 1st sadhana meeting for the UK Pilgrimage to Prashanthi Nilayam. The galvanising effect of the Sun was an indication of how energising the day would be! The programme started with a few sweet bhajans and a recital of the Sathya Sai Ashtottharam and Joythi Meditation, after which National Chair Dr Kiran Patel gave us a scene setter regarding various aspects of the pilgrimage. He explained the significance of the title 'Sai Anandam- In harmony with Sai', its purpose and importance in our spiritual endeavour, both on an individual and group level. He said that 'Anandam or Bliss' is the very core of our beings, and Bhagawan is the very personification of Divine Bliss. When we harmonise our energies and thoughts with our dear Bhagawan- His Love, His Words, His Teachings, His Actions- then our beings too resonate readily and we experience great Bliss and Peace. He reiterated that this pilgrimage is another great opportunity to redouble our spiritual efforts and make progress with enthusiasm in the joyful company of fellow pilgrims. Of course, he also gave some tantalising hints about the group itinerary in India (including a visit to Brindavan too!!).

At various points in the day, National Spiritual Coordinator Dr Veeru Mudigonda talked about the aspects of the group sadhana programme, that includes chanting various prayers such as the 108 Names of Bhagawan (Ashtotthram), Suprabhatham, Nirvana Shatakam etc, Likhitha Japam (Writing Swami's Divine Name), study of 3 Vahinis, and Ceiling on Desires programme. He gave a personal account of the effectiveness of Likhitha Naama Japam, e.g. the mind automatically focuses on the name of the Lord because it must engage and coordinate the tongue (in saying the Name softly), the eyes and the hands in writing it. And, accompanied by a video, he beautifully explained the significance of the Nirvana Shakatam prayer in our lives. Undoubtedly, it was worth the long journey just to hear the talk given by Zone 9 Chair, Mr Kishin Khubchandani! It was an intimate account of how he initially came to Swami when he lived in Ghana in the 1970s. Ghana was in a state of transition with one coup d’etat followed by another. Yet somehow the military ruler in the mid-1970s, surely an aggressive man, came to know of Swami through an amazing series of events before many Indians did! It was through this unlikely source that Mr Khubchandani came to know, see and have many wonderful experiences with Swami. Whenever we heard Mr Khubchandani speak in the past, it was in the context of his official capacity. But speaking intimately as he did at the Sadhana meeting gave us a rare glimpse in to the personal experiences and the great devotion that Mr Khubchandani has for our Lord Sathya Sai. It was quite special indeed!

During the interval, an excellent lunch (pasta, garlic bread and Greek-style salad) was lovingly served by volunteers from local centres. Our sincere thanks and praise goes to them!

After lunch, National SSE coordinator Mrs. Vidyulatha Narayan gave a personal account of her experiences during last year’s Sai Jyothi pilgrimage, especially the Powerful Vibrations experienced at the Mahasamadhi in the Sai Kulwanth Hall. It reinforced to everyone, and to the UK pilgrims especially, the strong and continuing Presence of Bhagawan, blessing and guiding all who come to Him. Even in the general precincts of the Ashram, she said she immediately felt the warmth upon entering it, as one did in the past with devotees and volunteers milling about calmly and with a smile in the discharge of their duties. She explained how Darshan seemed to her more disciplined nowadays, as more of the assembled devotees sat with a greater focus on God rather than spending time in needless chatter!

The 3 Vahinis chosen for the deep study and contemplation during the Sai Anandam pilgrimage are Sandeha Nivarini, Bhagavatha Vahini and Dhyana Vahini. As an introduction and taster, Dr Mahesh Narayan gave a characteristically humorous, yet insightful talk about the Bhagawatha Vahini and highlighted some important messages contained in this Vahini. He described how Bhagawan elaborates the meaning of Bhavatha to include 'the one who is dear to God', and thus Bhagavatham as an elevating account of the intimate relationship between God and devotees. He explained how Bhagawan identifies the person whose attention is focussed on God, rather than on material world and its wealth, as the one who is dear to God. On such a person, all boons and blessings including material benefits, are bestowed. Dr Mahesh reminded us to adopt this devotional and loving attitude at all times during this pilgrimage.

An intimate and spiritual day thus concluded with uplifting bhajans and aarati, and left me feeling very energised for the next meeting on May 18th.

Jai Sai Ram
Ritesh Patel