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Love and Light

National Sathya Sai Orientation Conference 2014 ‘One with Sai: His Words & His Work’

Not long after the start of the New Year, the UK Sai Organisation congregated on a Saturday morning on the 25th of January 2014, with a renewed focus to engage in the annual Orientation Conference in Hatfield.

The theme was "One with Sai: His words and His work", and this pervaded the day's programme effortlessly. The series of workshops, uplifting talks and wing presentations highlighted our role in His Work. It was an opportunity to reconnect with Swami, with the core principles of His mission and identify our inner purpose. We also re-visited the purpose of the Organisation and the way it enables our own transformation.

Besides talks from Dr Kiran Patel our UK Chairperson, and Dr Veeru Rao the UK Vice-Chair, we were blessed to listen to a recorded message especially for the occasion from Dr Samuel Sandweiss, the well renowned author of "Sai Baba: The Holy Man and the Psychiatrist" from America. In the afternoon through another video talk, we heard from Mr Leonardo Gutter, Prashanti Council member for Zone 2 (Latin America), from Argentina. They all reminded us of our great fortune to have known Swami, to be in His Organisation and to be given the opportunity to work for Him, to expand our hearts, and to realize our own innate divinity.

The day then moved on to 2 workshops, the first for everyone to reflect on Swami’s message and implementation into our daily lives. This workshop on "His Words" took us right back to basics. The first part of the workshop was spent reflecting on which of Swami’s quotes most resounded in our hearts. Through the process of observing Swami’s darshan, we then identified our reactions and feeling to His words and seeing His form. We were all reminded by the links between our chosen quotes and our one-word reactions to the darshan that His life was indeed His message.

The workshop then focused on the Sai Organisation, and its uniqueness in this world. First and foremost it is headed and guided by our Divine Master, our beloved Swami Himself; but also has features such as recognising the universality of faiths, having non-exclusivity of the preferred divine name and form in devotional singing, the most elevating Jyoti (Light) meditation, the Human Values Programme, the 9-point Code of Conduct, and Service to all as if serving God. We can often forget these aspects of His Organisation that make it divinely unique.

Lastly, the workshop centered on a few topics for deeper discussion, namely Ceiling on Desires, Service, the interfaith programme and the practice of practical human values. As before, whilst these are all accepted as everyday elements of our Sai activities, it was helpful to be reminded of some key principles. For instance, donating plenty of money to charity and performing service whilst continuing to indulge one’s limitless desires does not conform to the spirit of the Ceiling on Desires.

After a hearty lunch, we were treated to a second workshop which took the form of the different wings. All the delegates were split into Service, Spiritual, Youth, SSE and Centre chair workshops to discuss the plans for the coming year. An account from each workshop can be found below.

After a short break, we all congregated back in the main hall and were delighted to hear from Dr Upadhyay, in his capacity as Trustee of the Sathya Sai Charitable Trust UK. Dr Upadhyay updated the Conference delegates about the relief efforts undertaken by the International Sai Organisation during recent disasters in Uttarakhand (India) and Philippines. Many devotees from UK had participated in supporting these loving efforts, and it was heartening to see and hear the way the global Sai Family rallied to serve our fellow beings in dire need.

The next part of the afternoon was entitled “The nation on its Wings” which was exactly what it was. The national coordinators Mr Mukund Patel, Dr Rakendu Suren, Mrs Vidyulatha Narayan and Shyam Jamnadas took us through some of the individual wing highlights of 2013 and their vision and objectives for the coming year.

We were then blessed to have two of our young speakers take to the stage and narrate personal experiences of how Swami had been a part of their lives. Diya Bechoo, a SSE student from Region 3, and Punit Ghumra, an active Sai Youth from Region 1 shared with us how Swami and the Organisation had shaped their lives. It was inspiring to listen how Diya had been guided by her SSE lessons, particularly during times of adversity such as school bullying; and hear how Punit felt that something had been missing from his life after university, before he decided to rejoin his Sai Centre. Both of them have since gone on to become active workers in the Sai mission.

Towards the end of the day, Sanjay Vaja from Manchester indulged us to one of his very humorous and captivating poems, in which he summed up his relationship with Swami and how we should be ideal instruments in His hands. It was truly a poetic treat for the ears accompanied by some playful photos of Swami.

The uplifting and enriching programme concluded with the vote of thanks from Mrs Vidyulatha Narayan, the National SSE coordinator, and with bhajans and arthi. The conference gave us the opportunity to reflect on the fundamental purpose of studying Swami’s Words and practicing them through participation in His Work: That purpose being self-transformation. It gave us all an open invitation to embark on this exciting spiritual journey of transformation through action, in the year 2014 and beyond, spreading the joy and light with in oneself to all beings in the world.

Roni Ramdin
Brixton Sai Centre, London