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Love and Light

National Youth Symposium – ‘Beacons of Love and Service’

Flying with Sai Airways

On the 28th March 2015 youth from across the country, united by their love for Swami, came together to board Sai Airways Flight SA108. The title of the National Youth Symposium was ‘Beacons of Love and Service’ and the programme was based on the theme of air travel. The day comprised of guest speakers who were all youth from the UK, a reflective workshop and a service activity. The program was filled with ‘in-flight entertainment’ in the form of inspirational videos and musical presentation.

Participants at the National Youth Symposium

Shyam Jamnadas, National Youth Coordinator

Talk By Mali Almeida

The day began with a welcome address by the National Youth coordinator, brother Shyam Jamnadas. This was followed by the first guest speaker Ms. Mali Almedia who spoke about her experiences of Love in Service. She spoke about how as a youth she had reached an understanding that service was not limited to a particular mega project only, but how opportunities present to us at every step in our daily lives. She described her experiences of serving within the Sathya Sai Service Organisation and how when the service was done with the purest of intentions, Swami provided what was needed for that activity to be successful. We were reminded of the importance of surrendering the fruits of the act of service to Swami.

Talk by Reena Jamnadas

We then broke off into workshop groups. The workshops were entitled ‘An Expression of Love’. Participants were encouraged to think about the needs around us that moved us as individuals which brought out our deepest compassion and why we wanted to do something to help that cause. At the end of the session we came to the conclusion that we wanted to serve because it made us happy to see someone else happy by serving them. We were establishing a kinship with our fellow brothers and sisters that we are serving. By being aware of that feeling of happiness we could expand our hearts, and therefore our consciousness.

Following the in-flight movies demonstrating ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ during the lunch break, the next guest speaker Dr Reena Jamnadas spoke on the topic of ‘All Work is God’s Work’. She related how she worked toward her degree with a feeling of faith and surrender to Swami, praying for the degree to be used for the benefit of others. She reminded that we should do everything with a feeling of love and service; with purity and the right intention. In this way the action would become an offering to Bhagavan. She reiterated that without God, life was a hopeless end, with God life was an endless hope. She said that we had to be the beacons, like a candle that burnt itself day by day only to give the light of life to others. We could do this by being connected to Swami so that every action was infused with Love, she added. To establish this connection it was not necessary to spend endless time in front of an altar, she commented. Even eleven seconds was enough to become connected to Him. By taking one step towards Him, Swami would take 100 towards us.

Dr Kumi Pillay, Regional Chair, Region 7

Having listened to the inspirational talks and reflected on their motives for serving in the workshop, the youth were suffused with energy and enthusiasm to take part in a service activity planned on the day. Before the symposium, participants were encouraged to bring items to support two charities on the day: Trussell Trust Food Bank and Refuge UK. During the service activity, items were packed into boxes so that they could be delivered to the two charities after the symposium. Whilst the items were packed, the musical team sung bhajans to infuse divine vibrations of love to those who were receiving the items.

The next guest speaker Dr Kumi Pillay, regional chair for region 7, inspired everyone by speaking on ‘Beacons of Service’. He said that we had to be good, love God and fear nothing except sin. We had to be ready, to serve as soon as we saw the need for it. Swami was always moved spontaneously by any suffering He saw. We had to ask ourselves if we were ready to do the same and follow our beloved Master, He probed. Dr Pillay described his experiences of joining Grama Seva and how Swami meticulously planned every aspect of the service. By witnessing Swami’s students serving, he witnessed what a youth force could really achieve. He reflected at the time how the students Grama Seva occurred alongside their exams and reminded us that in any seva activity God was the giver and the receiver and that we are merely the instruments in between. Swami was a perfect example when He started His mission as a teenager; we are never too young to embark on service activities to benefit others. Integral part of being a beacon of service was to be selfless. Dr Pillay narrated how during the construction of homes for the flood afflicted victims of the Orissa region, Swami commanded His properties to be sold to fund the project. Swami demonstrated how He was prepared to sacrifice His own belongings to help those in need. He reminded that we had to work in unity with our focus on Swami’s Love and that we had to be loyal to the divine name and form of our Lord and seize the opportunity to take part in His mission.

Talk by Tej Kumar Pernapati

Tej Kumar Pernapati, an alumni of Swami’s institute was the final guest speaker who spoke on the topic of ‘Serving in the Divine presence’. We were fortunate to hear some of his personal experiences of having such close proximity to Swami during his time at His educational institutions. He explained how Swami called us ‘embodiments of love’ because He saw us as reflections of Himself. He reiterated that the way in which we could expand and share our love was through service. Swami had shown how service is the principal medium to expand our love amongst fellow beings. Through service one could share the divine spark of love that Swami had lit in our hearts, He indicated. Brother Tej concluded by saying that it was not the magnitude of service that mattered, but the sincerity of one’s efforts and the purity of one’s feelings, devotion and intent.

Concluding Remarks by Deviesh Tankaria, Vice Zonal Youth Coordinator

As a finale to the day, the musical group Sai Madhuram presented a heartfelt musical concert which provided a smooth landing of the flight whilst watching videos of Swami’s darshan! The day was brought to a conclusion by brother Deviesh Tankaria, our zonal youth coordinator, who brought into sharp focus the opportunity and responsibility for the youth to be Swami’s ideal messengers, the joy and blessing in serving the Lord through service to society. He called on every youth member to join and prepare earnestly for the World Youth Festival in Prasanthi Nilayam in 2016.

Swami says “The airplane has to land at certain places in order to take in those who have won the right to fly, by the tickets they have purchased. So too, the Lord has to come down so that those who have won the right to be liberated may be saved; incidentally, others too will know of the Lord, of His Grace and ways of winning it, the joy of liberation.”

Sai Madhuram Musical Concert

After disembarking flight SA108, we were filled with energy and enthusiasm to serve as ‘Beacons of Love and Service’ and to make our lives His message. Through sharing our experiences and beliefs over the day, we built a bond that, with Swami’s Blessings, would strengthen the youth for years to come so that we could truly become, “Leaders like lions; self-reliant, courageous, majestic and just”.

Dr Anshi Dattani
Harrow East Youth Coordinator