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Sai Spiritual Education Training Workshops

Sai Spiritual Education Training Workshops held on 24th May 2014 A Report

The SSE wing of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation UK held its third workshop for the year 2014 on Saturday 24th May 2014 in South Oxhey, Watford. The aim of workshops was to inspire and guide Bal Vikas teachers, helpers, parents, youth and office bearers all over the country to whole-heartedly participate in the sacred movement within their respective Sai Centres and Sai Groups.

The forum provided a mix of activities for the 60 devotees who attended. After an introductory session, participants had the option to attend one of three different workshops that were running in parallel. Aspiring Bal Vikas teachers attended Basic SSE training, while the more experienced gurus attended Multi Faith prayers sessions, Bhaja Govindam training and the session on Child Psychology.

Swami says: “Teaching is the noblest of professions”. This was the ideal opportunity for current and future teachers to re-familiarise themselves and learn the fundamental principles of Sri Sathya Sai Bal Vikas or Sai Spiritual Education programme.

The Basic SSE training explored the five teaching techniques of Silent Sitting, Group Devotional Singing, Prayers, Story Telling and Group Activities and their benefits in developing the child’s personality into balanced, self-confident, loving and virtuous children as prescribed by Swami.

This aspect of the training was done through experiential learning. Thus, participants learnt different methods and had the opportunity to practice them.

Swami has emphasized the importance of parental participation and support in the SSE programme, and this was discussed through case scenarios and Swami’s teachings. Whilst the child and the parent receive the spiritual lessons through the SSE classes, it was most important for the guru to undertake their own personal sadhana to invoke the grace and inspiration of the Jagadguru, our Beloved Bhagavan. This was briefly touched on during this session.

The Basic SSE training was educational, inspiring and above all entertaining. Everyone left the workshop feeling motivated to teach Bal Vikas students, helping them become good citizens and leaders of tomorrow – the aim set by Sathya Sai Baba when launching the Bal Vikas Movement in 1969.

Dr Ritesh Sunnasy
Sai Youth, Region 3

Workshop on Multi-Faith Prayers & Understanding Children

The Multifaith Prayer session was conducted by our Sai brother Ronnie Ramdin, Brixton Sai centre Chair and SSE alumnus. He taught us to chant some of the main prayers, and also explained the meanings to these chants from the faiths of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism and Zorastrianism with references provided in Bhagavan’s divine discourses.

The afternoon session on ‘Understanding Children’ was conducted by Dr Rakendu Suren, Consultant Child Psychiatrist who explained the developmental models in relation to a child’s personality and the importance of being aware of the special needs that a child may have so as to be able to adapt the class to be inclusive. He facilitated a meaningful discussion on applying the understanding of the developmental models to the five teaching techniques used in SSE, so that maximum benefit is achieved when teaching a class.

Miss Nuleen Panday
Regional SSE Coordinator, Region 6

Workshop on the Significance and Teaching of Bhaja Govindam

In the spirit of Vedantic analogy, if the SSE curriculum was compared to an Ambala sweet, then the Bhaja Govindam would no doubt be its delectable epicentre. Whilst too easily relegated behind better known epics such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana, once found, the Bhaja Govindam is a treasure trove of learning for students and teachers alike. Indeed this masterpiece of the great Sri Adi Shankaracharya is so replete in its poetic and philosophic beauty that Bhagawan Himself dedicated to it an entire summer camp for students in 1973. These verses expounded by Bhagawan during those Summer Showers in Brindavan today form part of the Bal Vikas syllabus.

The advanced training session facilitated by Dr Mahesh Narayan and sister Praveena Patel brought together their many years of experience teaching the Bhaja Govindam. The session provided invaluable tips and insights into conveying its message to today’s generation and inculcating in them an affinity to this timeless classic. An important aspect of this was an understanding of the unique geo-religious context in which Shankaracharya emerged, whose legacy is still very much evident in every corner of India today. The disciples, personalities and sub-stories which feature along the way are worthy of narration in themselves and told inimitably by Bhagawan over the years to bring to life the glory of Shankaracharya and his epic poem. Attendees were also doubly privileged to be joined by Dr Kiran Patel, Chairperson UK Central Council who was among the golden batch of students present at Bhagawan’s original lectures in 1973.

This session also provided suggestions through which the wisdom and essence of Bhaja Govindam could be imbibed by the SSE children. The session commenced with the life of Adi Shankaracharya followed by recitation of verses and their meanings. Both new and experienced SSE teachers along with SSE helpers, youths and parents were taken through each of 16 out of the 31 verses included in the Sri Sathya Sai Bal Vikas Syllabus. Topics on each verse were supported with Swami’s teachings, stories as well as their applications in our day-to-day lives. All these activities would certainly enhance the learning process of the SSE students, making it fun with full of interactions.

The SSE trainers also suggested many sources from books and Swami’s discourses to further understand this beautiful poem. This training has certainly inspired and revived the spirit of Bhaja Govindam in both experienced as well as aspiring SSE teachers.

Mr Thanusan & Miss Prathista
Sai Youth and SSE teachers
Region 3

The day of learning and sharing together, came to a close with Dr Kiran Patel, UK Central Council Chairperson sharing his thoughts and experience on the vital role SSE plays in carrying the Sai Mission forward. He also stressed on the role of our Sai Centres in ensuring that our children have all the opportunity to grow and blossom into virtuous, self-confident, loving, humble and good human beings within the portals of the loving environments of each and every Sai Centre. Our children are our future serving the society in the name of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the Embodiment of Love!