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In Communion with God through Prayer and Action: Talk by Mr V Srinivasan in London

Talk by Mr V Srinivasan in London (10th November 2013)
Member Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust &
All India President, Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation

It was the privilege of many Sai devotees in United Kingdom to have the exalted company of Mr V Srinivasan in London during the Global Akhanda Bhajans this year. Mr Srinivasan is a longstanding and ardent devotee of our beloved Bhagawan Baba. He was chosen by Bhagawan to serve in his current capacities as the Member of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, Prasanthi Nilayam as well as the President of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation in India.

As a befitting finale to an energetic and uplifting session of bhajans, Mr Srinivasan, who spoke on numerous occasions in the Immediate Divine Presence of Bhagawan Baba, gave a talk that was both informative and highly inspiring. His utter humility, lofty understanding, deep love and dedication for Bhagawan and His Work, and total surrender to the Divine Will of Sai were evident all through his talk and touched the hearts of everyone assembled. Below are a few excerpts from his talk, which he categorised as follows-

  1. Power of Collective Prayer
  2. Activities of SSS Central Trust
  3. 90th Birthday Preparations by SSSSO India
  4. Our Relationship with Bhagawan
  5. Power of Collective Action
  6. The Divine Legacy and Our Sacred Responsibility

Power of Collective Prayer

He began by expressing gratitude to Bhagawan’s Sankalpa, Compassion, Kindness and Love which enabled him to be at the Akhand Bhajans in London: An important global occasion of collective worship, adoration, prayer and bliss which he did not wish to miss! He spoke on the importance of Prayer and Bhajan and pointed to the day’s Sai Inspires quotation in which Bhagawan explains the Power of Bhajan and how it unites one with the others as brothers and sisters, as well as uniting one with Divinity. Expression of collective prayer is bhajan, he said, and real prayer is not when one prays for oneself, but when the prayer is for the happiness and welfare of others. Of course one can pray for individual protection and guidance, but we should have the inspiration and motivation to pray for the welfare of others.

Making a reference to the Holy Bible which says that real prayer can do many wonderful things, he narrated his experience with the recent Cyclone Phailin in Orissa which was described as the biggest ever monster cyclone to ever hit India. The Holy Dasara festival was being celebrated in Prasanthi Nilayam at the time, and an announcement was made to all devotees to pray fervently to Bhagawan to protect and mitigate the suffering of people in Orissa. Thousands across the globe responded and many kept an overnight vigil in prayer. It is now known that the killer-storm with expected wind speeds of 300 kilometres per hour, ‘inexplicably’ stalled about 35 kilometres from the coastline for about 90 minutes, and in doing so, lost most of its devastating energy and became much weaker by the time of landfall. It did cause some flooding in the areas affected, but large scale devastation was averted. The director of the Indian Meteorology Institute, a reputed scientist, when asked by the media to explain this phenomenon, simply submitted that there were many occurrences in Nature that are ‘inexplicable’! Bhagawan gave us the prayer ‘Samastha Loka Sukhino Bhavanthu’ (May all worlds and all beings be happy), and that is the real way to pray to Bhagawan.

Activities of Central Trust and Sathya Sai Organisation

He proceeded then to inform everyone about the activities undertaken by the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust (SSSCT) and the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (SSSSO) in India. In the 3rd year after Bhagawan’s Mahasamadhi, all the institutions and projects started by Bhagawan were functioning excellently, as always, with His Divine Grace and Will, he assured.

He explained that the SSSCT which is the Apex Body of all Sai Organisations and Institutions has 9 trustees (currently 8) vested with the responsibility by Bhagawan Baba to administer the various institutions set up by Him in India and all over the world. In the immediate phase after the Mahasamadhi, the trustees realised that Bhagawan wanted them to establish maximum transparency into the activities of the Trust. In consonance with this, SSSCT publishes an Annual Report both as a hardcopy and an online version, which is available to everyone. There are hardly 2-3 public charitable trusts in India that bring out such a detailed and authentic report which includes all the financial details, apart from details of all activities that the Trust undertakes such as the SSSSO, University, Hospitals, Water projects, festivals at Prasanthi Nilayam and Brindavan etc.. This report is certified by the auditors and meets the highest standards of corporate governance and statutory obligations. This year the report will be released on 23rd of November, he said, and encouraged everyone to access, study and understand it’s contents. He highlighted some of the salient features in this Report for our benefit, which reflect the role of various activities in continuing the Divine Mission of Bhagawan.

  1. Water Projects- 750 villages in Anantapur district, 300 villages in the River Godavari Basin, and other projects near Hyderabad continue to receive pure, drinking water. To complete the total coverage of this project, water supply to another 128 villages at a cost of 7 million GBP will commence on 23rd November. This life-giving gift of pure drinking water to remote and dry villages has improved the standards of health, living conditions and above all, moral values amongst the peoples
  2. Hospitals- Everyone knows about Super Speciality hospitals in Prasanthi Nilayam and Whitefield, but not many are familiar with the immense economic contribution that these institutions make to the nation. In order to put a number based on the numbers of patients treated and the value of treatment rendered to date, it is about 350 million GBP! In keeping with Bhagawan’s dictum that we should always be at the forefront and cutting edge of medical technology in providing high quality, State-of-the-Art healthcare, SSSCT will be making a fresh investment of 4 million GBP to improve facilities and replace ageing equipment. New MRI Scanners, new cardiac catheterisation labs, new sterilisation equipment, new centres for non-invasive treatments etc are being introduced. The Sathya Sai General Hospital, the very first hospital that Bhagawan had founded, treats 32000 patients every month, and is the single point of care to all people from surrounding areas. Be it the birth of a child, or surgery for appendicitis, or indeed the treatment for insect bites, malaria etc, this hospital caters to the local needs. A further 500,000 GBP is being spent to enhance and expand facilities at this hospital. As directed by Bhagawan, there is great emphasis on teaching in all the hospitals. Diplomates in various subjects such as cardiology, cardio-thoracic surgery, neurology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics and neurosurgery are trained to a high standard. At the national board examinations, these trainees have achieved 100% results unlike many other institutions! Again, unlike other institutions, this training is totally free of cost as per Bhagawan’s directions, so as to produce high quality doctors with an integrated sense of service to society.
  3. vUniversity- So many students have passed through the portals of these unique institutions who now live all over the globe; he was happy to see some in UK too, including the current UK Chairperson, he said. Currently a Centre for Advanced Study and Research in sciences and humanities is being funded by the SSSCT, in its first phase up to a sum of 2 million GBP. At the new university campus in Muddenahalli, it’s 4th campus, a new hostel at a cost of 1 million GBP is under construction. The University has a new Vice Chancellor, Justice M N Venkatachaliah, formerly the Chief Justice of India, and a renowned legal luminary.
  4. Sathya Sai Schools- More than 100 Sathya Sai Schools all over India are functioning today, he said. Although started by various devotees, SSSCT has taken the responsibility to improve their standards towards excellence through the SSSSO India. He also spoke about the Vidya Vahini Programme launched by Bhagawan, which is a technology initiative to provide access to high quality educational material to students and teachers in rural areas. SSSCT is providing training and logistic facilities in Prasanthi Nilayam for this important project.
  5. Ashram- SSSCT has undertaken the task of improving facilities in the Ashram for the comfort of devotees who undertake their pilgrimage to Prasanthi Nilayam. All festivals belonging to various religions of the world- Hindu/Sikh/Islam/Christian, and various cultures- Chinese/Japanese/Russian etc- are all happening just as when Swami was physically present. Many groups from various parts of India and Overseas continue to come to the Ashram, such as those from Croatia, Russia, Taiwan etc. In fact, an international symphony orchestra will be performing this year on November 24th, he said.

90th Birthday Celebrations 2015

He then continued to elaborate on the preparations for the Milestone Event of the 90th Birthday Celebrations of our dear Bhagawan in the year 2015. He reminded everyone that this coincides with another milestone: The Golden Jubilee 50th Year of the founding of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation. He revealed that the SSSSO India has decided to celebrate these two important milestones with 3 main national projects targeted for implementation in the 1300 village clusters all over India currently served by the Sathya Sai Village Integrated Programme (SSVIP).

  1. Nutrition for expectant mothers during pregnancy;
  2. Disaster Management Training;
  3. Vocational Training for Rural Youth

Our Relationship with Bhagawan

Reflecting on our relationship with Bhagawan, Mr Srinivasan shared what Swami often said: ‘I am interested more in your Transformation than your devotion!’. He shared how Swami had picked him from the relative gutters of materialism 40 years ago and had changed his life. He reiterated that every single person assembled in the audience and in the wider global Sai family had been specially selected by Bhagawan, not as a random occurrence, but as a special act of Grace. Having been fortunate thus, he cautioned us against wasting time in idle talk and rumours in circulation that Bhagawan would ‘reappear’ soon and so forth. Instead one should spend time in feeling His Omnipresence and living His Teachings. He pointedly asked how many of us, whilst talking incessantly about His Omnipresence, actually feel it! Swami has elaborated in His many discourses on almost every issue relevant to our daily living- activities we should engage in, how we can be happy, how we can avoid unhappiness etc. But, he posed the question, how many of us spend time reading, reflecting, and imbibing the teachings in His discourses.

The summum bonum of Bhagawan’s teachings, the fundamental lesson learnt by studying His Discourses, is the principle of LOVE, said Mr. Srinivasan. Divine Love is the answer to any and every question and situation; Divine Love is also the agent as well as the outcome of our Transformation, he said.
He reminisced how Bhagawan often said, ‘All are One, my dear son! Be alike to everyone!’, and exhorted everyone to live and experience the Truth that there was no difference between Peter and Krishna, between Ranbir and Mohammad, and so on. If we are to claim that we were touched by the Divine and have been thus transformed, then we must act like The Divine, seeing divinity in everyone, recognising and practising this unity!

This divine transformation would manifest as feelings of love and compassion in our acts of Service. Service, he reminded, was not just writing a big cheque as a donation, but doing activities with love for humanity, with a sense of sharing in their sufferings, be it in India or the Philippines. This divine transformation would manifest also as unsullied rejoicing in the success and happiness of others. Instead of being jealous and petty that others had received rings and lockets from Swami, one would rejoice in their happiness, he noted.

Power of Collective Action

The resounding message Mr Srinivasan conveyed was that there was no difference between Bhagawan and Bhagwan’s Work! He said, “When you do Service, Bhagawan is with you. If you want to worship, adore and pray to Him, Do His Work! There is no difference! But before you do work, pray to Him. Pray that ‘I am a zero, you are the Hero! Nothing is with me. It is all with You’. Offer everything to Him, not for your ego! Work with love, humility, and joy. Whether it is a success or not is His Will. Leave it to Him! Also understand that there is no difference between the work in your office, at home and in the Sai Organisation. Everything is His Work and so do it with the same diligence, with the same principles. Our lives have to be integrated. CIA as Bhagawan says: Constant Integrated Awareness!”

Mr Srinivasan made a very interesting observation that we cannot do Service all the time, as we will not have the requisite sustained motivation. Unless, of course, we are spiritual! If we are spiritual, we will become more inspired and capable to do more service. Spirituality gives us the required energy and the motivation. Thus Spirituality and Service are like the 2 legs; just as one cannot walk well on one leg, so too one cannot progress on the road to spirituality without rendering service. But what is Spirituality? It is not sitting in one place in meditation for one’s own individual redemption. ‘The goal is Redemption For All’, he said.

Spirituality is to act in the way in which divinity expects us to act, in the way in which Jesus expected us to act! And the greatest thing that our dearest Bhagawan taught us and expects of us, he said, is Collective Action! He revealed that Bhagawan was not interested in individual action and in the so called high fliers! ‘One cannot eat with one finger’, he referred to this oft quoted example given by Bhagawan. He explained the purpose behind this Divine Emphasis: “When all of us work together, we adjust with each other; our egos get suppressed; we begin to love each other. Bhagawan wanted all of us to love and work together. This may take time, but it will go well. Individual action will introduce ego and pride and may lead us down a wrong path. But Collective Action will safeguard us against these evil traits and ensure spiritual progress”.

The Divine Legacy and Our Sacred Responsibility

Bhagawan’s Divine and Eternal Legacy is not the Trust or all the other great Institutions, he reflected. But it is the inspiration and motivation of Love. It is the lighting of the Lamp of Love in the hearts of millions of people which motivates them to do Service: That is His legacy! A Legacy unlike that of any other! He reminded us that it is our responsibility and heritage to be aware of this Supreme Legacy and talk about it with confidence. It is the sacred duty of every devotee to know his work and his teachings in depth and pass it on to our family, friends, and grandchildren; to engage intelligently with the discerning general public.

“And we have to support His Institutions”, he said. He observed that many devotees were keen to personally handover money to Swami because we thought Swami must become ‘aware’ that ‘I’ have given! But he shared how Swami never took any notice of this. Swami didn’t bother at all and would either just put the envelope away or give it away to someone! He revealed that this was what they found whilst taking the Inventory after Bhagawan’s Mahasamadhi. Currency that was more than 30 years old was found, which was not valid in today’s times; coins were found from the times of King George VI! This was because Swami never gave any importance to it.

Mr Srinivasan then asked a poignant question: “What did Bhagawan do with the money we gave? “He built the Institutions”, he proceeded to answer. Every single institution of Bhagawan was built with the donations given by devotees. They were not built with some “manthra or tanthra” (mystic formulae), he humoured! They were built out of the love and sacrifice of many devotees for Bhagawan and His Mission. He narrated the story of a young primary school student, who during the construction of the Super Speciality Hospital in Puttaparthi, silently contributed 100 rupees to the Central Trust by saving up on his laundry bills. He had washed his clothes himself instead! Bhagawan was so touched by this young boy’s spontaneous love and sacrifice, that He instantaneously showered His Blessings and Grace on him. It is this aspect of spontaneous love and sincere sacrifice that deepens and sanctifies our relationship with Bhagawan. He advised us therefore against writing cheques without sacrificing our desires.

Emphasising ‘Ceiling on Desires’, he said that it was understandable to aspire to be comfortable in life, but one should have only what is needed and should refrain from overindulgence. Money should be in circulation like blood, as Bhagawan tells us, and should be used for the benefit of people who need it. So, in a way, every single person is a ‘trustee’ to serve humanity! These monies need not necessarily be given only to the SSSCT, or even spent on activities in India, although one might wish to set aside some contribution to the Institutions founded by Bhagawan. Instead, the funds can be spent on activities in the United Kingdom such as serving the Homeless, etc. The important thing to remember is to have gratitude to society.

My Srinivasan concluded his talk by addressing the question that might plague some minds about the need or the purpose of visiting Prasanthi Nilayam when Swami is everywhere and here in UK. One should go there for Inspiration, he said. For recharging one’s spiritual batteries! He advised everyone not to go there with a casual attitude and reduce it to a social rendezvous with family and friends. Only when we sit quietly in the sanctum sanctorum before the Mahasamadhi, in the hallowed precincts of the Sai Kulwanth Hall and absorb the ambience, the divine vibration therein, that we get recharged! One must travel to a holy place in a holy way! To Communicate with God! To be in Communion with Him!