April 2013 Edition

Quote

Human values do not depend on education alone. They depend more on culture. What do you mean by culture? Culture means giving up one’s bad conduct, bad behaviour, bad deeds and cultivating good thinking, fostering good sentiments that lead to good actions. The state of the whole world depends on human activity. When the actions of the people are noble, the country is equally noble. The people’s behaviour and conduct depend on their thoughts. Thoughts depend on the mind. Good thoughts are the basis of human values.
Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 31 Page 222

Every human being is endowed with these five human values. If we promote these five human values, we become God.
Sathya Sai Speaks vol 39

~ Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Events

National Eswaramma Day

National Human Values Day

Education Wing - SSE Training Dates for 2013

Region 1 - Sri Sathya Sai Aradhana

Dr T Ravi Kumar National Talks

Articles

Family Health Fayre in Winchester

National Pilgrimage 2013 - 1st Sadhana Meeting

Region 1 - Brixton Sai Centre Ladies Day

Region 1 - Easter at Brixton Centre

Region 1 - Orientation Conference 2013

Region 1 - Sai Seva Curry: a Hit with the Homeless

Region 1 - Seva Activity for Service in Sierra Leone

Region 1 - Tooting Centres Mother’s Day and Shivratri Celebrations

Region 2 - MahaShivaratri

Region 2 - Orientation & Welcome Day

Region 3 - Orientation & Welcome Day

Region 4 - Easter Sunday Celebrations at Coventry Sai Centre

Region 4 - Sathya Sai Orientation Conference

Region 4 - Satyanarayana Katha

Region 4 - Shivaratri and Mothers Day Celebrations at Coventry SSE

Region 4 – Leicester Central Annual Service Meeting

Region 6 - Laksharchana at Farnborough Sai Centre

Region 7 - Easter Tea Party

Editorial

Fellow Devotees!
Om Sri Sai Ram,

In the month of March, the world celebrated Easter, which has always been a time for reflection, a time to reminisce Jesus sacrificing his life for mankind and its resurrection, out of his infinite love and compassion.

April is a poignant reminder to us, the devotees, when our beloved Swami and Divine Master, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, on Easter Sunday two years ago on 24th April transcended from this transient world into our hearts. He now guides us to focus on the eternal cosmic form that is formless, a light that transcends differences and unites us in Love. Baba’s Love, Grace and Omnipresence are felt ever so closely by us all. When we turn to Him, we instantly feel the loving arms of a mother, the firm stance of a father and hear the rippling laughter of a friend. Swami has told us what he means by omnipresence:

"Everything is nothing, and nothing is everything"
The Atma shines eternally, with no birth and no death, with no beginning, middle or end, ever remaining the All-Seeing Witness (Telugu Poem).

You may give God any name or form. The Divine has been given various names. Even the rishis (sages) have called God by many names – Shiva, Shankara, Aditya, Shambhava, and Bhagavan. These names were given to him; he did not give himself any name. So, all that you see may be called God:
nature is God; energy is God; nothing is God. But, it is really not nothing; it is everything. In what you call everything, there is nothing. What you call nothing, has everything. Everything is nothing, and nothing is everything. Some say, “There is no God,” but everything is in God. The atheist denies the existence of
what is. In saying, “There is no God,” “There is” comes first. This means that he is denying what is. He is blind. The truth is, divinity is all-pervading.
—Sri Sathya Sai Baba (SSS 19:4, Mar 8, 1986)

The month of April also celebrates Sri Rama Navami, marking the advent on earth of Lord Sri Rama thousands of years ago, as the very embodiment of Dharma (Right Conduct). Divine Incarnations as Rama, Jesus and Sathya Sai walk the earth to instil eternal values such as love, compassion, right conduct and non-violence through the example of their own lives; to give us joy and peace; and to establish us in the truth that we are all embodiments of divinity. They descend for the sake of our ascension to divinity.

As we wish our many brothers and sisters from India a ‘Happy New year’ this month- celebrated as Ugadhi by the Telugus (Andhra), Yugadhi by the Kannadigas (Karnataka), Vishu by the Malayalis (Kerala), Puthundu by the Tamils (Tamilnadu), Gudi Padwa by the Marathis (Maharashtra) and Baisakhi by those from Punjab- let us take the opportunity to inject our spiritual efforts for our inner transformation with a new enthusiasm and earnestness. This is the highest gratitude that one can offer God, our Lord Sathya Sai.

Let us get together on the 27th April at the Sathya Sai National Human Values Day, and on the 4th May at the National Easwaramma Day, pray together in gratitude, share in the joy of knowing His Avatarhood, His Divine Mission and strengthen our resolve to make our Lives His Message.

Let the month be the time to model our daily lives upon the values that He has outlined and to look inwards to experience the spark of our inherent divinity: For our Resurrection!

Mrs Nadia Eley,
Regional Chair, Region 6








Family Health Fayre in Winchester

Every year, the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation UK (SSSSO UK) in the South of England organises a health awareness event in partnership with the local health authorities in order to encourage healthy lifestyles, disease prevention, and utilisation of healthcare facilities amongst the local populace in the area.

The event usually takes place in Farnborough, but this year, Hampshire County Council invited the organisation to use the Council’s headquarters based in Winchester, in recognition of the positive impact that such events in the past had on the local people.

This year’s family fayre was aimed primarily at the Nepalese population in Hampshire to address concerns regarding poor uptake of available services, presumed to be due either to existing cultural or linguistic barriers. Accordingly, many young Nepali interpreters were welcomed as volunteers to help at the clinic, and this made a tremendous difference to the visitors. However, the event was open to people of all ethnicities from the local area. This open approach ensured a friendly ambience, and enhanced the community spirit..

At this walk-in clinic on the day, visitors utilised various services on offer such as blood pressure and blood sugar check, BMI measurements, eye and dental checks, as well as GP consultation. Advice was rendered where necessary with regards further checks.

There were a wide range of services available at the event. As well as the walk-in clinic, there were stalls highlighting conditions and issues such as sickle cell anaemia, diabetes, and breast-feeding. Also, in the main hall there was a cultural show, that included presentations of different types of dances. For the younger children, there was a crèche and a stall where they could design and create their own paper aeroplanes!

The multi-disciplinary team of Sai volunteers who participated in this event were spread across all age groups, and came from a variety of backgrounds. The friendly atmosphere generated by the volunteers put the visitors at ease and enabled them to express themselves freely. Everyone felt fulfilled and uplifted by the experience and for the opportunity to share their love, and professional expertise.

The cooperation with the Hampshire County Council was a huge success, as was noted by an employee at the Council headquarters: “I feel that as a local authority, working together with Sai volunteers and the community- we were able to achieve so much more than any of us possibly could in isolation. An absolute credit to Sai!”

Jasen & Rahul
Volunteers at HAC
Region 6 Service Wing

Poem: On the 24th March

Once.Twice.Thrice.
The Om rises, as has the Sun.
All falls, at the rise of the Om.
Below the summit: Beyond Dawn
Rises the Om.

Saffron sash, saffron as robe, ushers tongues of other land.
Our speech is sparse. Because the Word has settled.
Resonant
Evident.In the act.

One sash stands, sure as sentry.
Gently he guides alongside a sister
whom makes talk with tongue
whilst I with gesture, make sure the sash is seen.

The sashes disperse
Our work is beginning
Writing and typing and filing and filling.
This life seems so fitting...
This mind has ceased flitting...
So mind be bound to hymn and work

Our work is over. Our speech is sparse.
This day has been, I see, well passed.

By Issa Loyaan Farrah

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

Region 1 - Brixton Sai Centre Ladies Day

Sunday 24 February 2013

On Sunday 24 February, Brixton Sai Centre held its quarterly Ladies’ Day programme. The proceedings started just before 11.30am with the reading of the Thought of the Day, followed by silent sitting for a few minutes.

Then, there were multi-faith prayers and group devotional singing led by the ladies for about 45 minutes, followed by the aaratee and a few minutes of guided meditation led by Sister Veena. A short discourse by Sister Bina followed on the benefit of smiling: it is good for health, is contagious, changes the atmosphere and also relieves stress and tension. Smiling helps our immune system and it has also been proved that it lowers blood pressure. It was a very informative discourse.

Thereafter a workshop was held by Sister Manon for the ladies only, with the men going into another room for a group discussion. The workshop topic was abuse, i.e. when someone is harassed, tortured, bullied or tormented by somebody else who feels that he or she is superior to the victim. Abuse can take many forms, for instance physical, emotional, mental, verbal or psychological, to cite some examples. These types of abuse can take place at work, at the home and also in places such as schools, hospitals and care homes. The victim often suffers from low self-esteem and self-worth, important to consider when Swaami says self-confidence is the foundation for achieving self-realisation. There were two key lessons learned:

1. everyone must be treated with love and respect, using soft, loving words; and
2. everyone has a valuable role to play: no one must be dismissed as useless.

Sister Manon educated everyone about how abuse can exist anywhere. It was a very good, interactive workshop, with everyone getting involved in the discussion.

Region 1 - Easter at Brixton Centre

Easter was celebrated at Brixton Sai Centre on Easter Sunday, 31 March 2013. A number of regular worshippers, aged 4 to 64 and more and coming from a variety of faiths, congregated for this joyous occasion. A mixture of hymns and regular Sai group devotional songs were sung. The choice of beautiful, nostalgic hymns (including "My God loves me", "The Lord is my shepherd” and “Jesus Christ is risen today") really brought home the true meaning of Easter and the implications of the resurrection of Christ. Song books were provided and song numbers were listed on a board enabling everyone to sing their hearts out for all the songs.

The songs were followed by a short talk from a Group 1 SSE student, Leanna Iyavoo, on the events that lead up to Easter and the significance of the festival. After the programme, as well as the regular monthly study circle on Sathya Sai Speaks Volume 1, everyone – young and old - enjoyed some mini Easter eggs.

For the third year in a row, the Sathya Sai Baba Centre of Brixton held an Easter Egg collection for the children of the Royal Marsden Hospital, Surrey Branch. The Royal Marsden specialises in cancer treatment, meaning all would-be recipients unfortunately suffer from this terrible disease.

The staff were so surprised and pleased to see the gifts: literally dozens of eggs had been kindly given by members of the Centre, including SSE students, meaning two of them had to come to carry them all. We hope it was an egg-stra special Easter for the children!

Region 1 - Orientation Conference 2013

Becoming His instruments
Saturday 23rd March 2013

45 Office bearers and active workers from Region1 braved the snow on Saturday 23rd March to gather at the Sai Mandir for the Orientation Conference, where we were supported in our deliberations by 2 members of the UKCC - Brothers Veeru and Kumi.

The scene was set with by Sister Karunes, former National SSE co-ordinator, lighting the lamp and giving a few words of encouragement to all. Our regional chair, brother Yoges, then introduced all Regional coordinators, Centre / Group chairpersons and welcomed all. He also said that it was Bhagawan’s grace that brought us all to the day’s programme - to pray together, learn together and to be inspired together.

We began by listening to Bhagawan’s Divine Discourse given at the 3rd World Conference on 21st November 1980 and a video of the speech Swami gave to accompany the launch of the Organisational
Charter - given by Him over 40 years ago. This reminded us of our high calling as instruments of our Lord and brought home to us the calibre of the organisation in which we are blessed to hold office.

Brother Raj then led a session on the Roles and Responsibilities of Sai centres, which are:
- To serve the devotees,
- To facilitate the spiritual development of all members, including the office bearers,
- As a by-product, to provide service to the wider community

Office bearers carry a heavy responsibility. They must:
- Ensure that everything is functioning properly in order to facilitate spiritual development of members.
- assist with the growth and expansion of the centre, so that it meets the needs of the members
- Ensure that members have adequate opportunities to participate in the activities of the centre.
- To enhance their own spiritual progress through the path of Karma Yoga by rendering selfless service not only to the wider community but also to the members of the centre.

In the process, there is scope for office bearers to practise the three path/forms of yoga - Bhakti, Karma and Jnana and often form a combination. So, in order for a centre to be serving members effectively, all wings must be strong.

He ended his speech with Swami’s quote “You are the instruments in the spread of Vedic science, among the farthest corners of this vast land; you are the chosen ones!” A charming video of an old violin being brought to life “by the Master’s touch” seemed particularly appropriate for theme.

Former Sai student, brother Aanand (Merton Sai Centre Spiritual Co-ordinator) then challenged us further on the reason for organisational guidelines, the spirit of the guidelines and their practice. How are we different from, say Oxfam, who also do good work? Are we a spiritual organisation or a service organisation? We spoke about the universality of the teachings, the absence of fundraising, the spirit of love and also the democratic spirit – leaders there must be and a few rules, but there is no hierarchy in terms of spiritual attainment. Humility rather than officiousness are to be promoted.

The workshops

The assembly broke into 2 groups for workshops on SSE/Spiritual and Youth/Service

The following Centre / Group issues in the Region based on guidelines for each group, were discussed:

Sustenance / Improvement/Growth of centres

1. Improve Centre activities
2. Devotees trends
3. Communication - email etc
4. Health and Safety
5. SSE -awareness to all OBs
6. Groups to see if they can introduce SSE classes
7. Change of office bearers
8. Quarterly reports
9. How can the Region / UK Organisation help - as centres are finding difficulties with rising costs of rent, insurance etc

SSE/Spiritual Workshop

Discussion points (practicalities)
• Promoting newcomers and young parents.
• Raising awareness of the SSE programme.
• Encouraging and supporting already existing SSE in the centre to expand.
• Motivating centres/Group currently without SSE to start classes or a ‘value club’ for youngsters - any new venture related to education.
• Regional support to the centres who need help.
• To bring back former SSE students(Alumni Meeting)

The meeting began with us being told how important it was for all our centre members to support SSE / Balvikas classes and how (as an Officer Bearer) we should have a strong Faith in Swami in order to carry out our task efficiently and with commitment – First Be, then Do and Tell is the maxim here.

We discussed various practical difficulties that the SSE wings faces; one of the key examples was children’s uniform. We then spoke about the children being required to wear white to Balvikas classes and how some parents do not adhere to this. It was suggested that as an incentive we could award a Star to those who are properly dressed and we should also talk to the Parents about how it is a requirement, as laid down by Swami. Another centre SSE teacher said how they have hand down uniforms that they give out to those children who don’t have whites.

The aim was to raise awareness. It was said that Teacher training should be open for all members because, in that way, their interest and awareness would be raised and they may want to become part of the SSE team within the centre. Another way of raising awareness was to start doing in house SSE training for all active members (including parents). An action taken from this is that Sister Vasanthi will be liaising with National SSE co-ordinator to implement this. We were also asked if we could think of ways to improve the teaching of the children. Teacher Training sessions were requested to take place a few times each year, so that all who wanted to could have the opportunity to attend. Sister Vasanthi, Regional SSE co-ordinator, said that teachers often also need a shadow/assistant to help them. So those who have done the basic training could act as an assistant for the first year, before taking on the role of Teacher. The meeting touched on the need to prepare for Balvikas lessons with a 5 minute Sadhana - such as reading from one of Swami’s books or Thought for the day. We can motivate Centres that do not have SSE to start a Values Club or a new venture related to education. We were informed that there are currently a total of 481 students, 57 teachers and 26 assistants in Region1.

We then spoke about Bhajan Practice and it was suggested that 2 children at a time be taken aside and taught a Bhajan. It was also said that more English Bhajans should be sung and how the National Team are compiling a book of 500 English Bhajans. English Bhajans can also be found on the SSE website.
We then spoke about the Vedas and it was said that Brother Anand could come to the centres to teach the SSE children to chant properly. It was also recommended that Study circles should be held for Parents and other members to encourage the study of Swami’s teachings.

Brother Sabesan then talked about CRB checks and told us that it is now called DBS checks and how it is more detailed.

The workshop closed with 3 AUMs.

Youth/Service workshop

We started with some stirring words from Swami on the power of youth - that they can achieve anything and emancipate the world, which was further emphasised by clips from the National Youth Conference showing speakers Sunder Iyer (a former personal attendant of Swami) and Sharon Sandweiss, a recent visitor to Region 1.

We were reminded of the objectives from the conference – the emphasis on youth-led activities, the pilgrimage in July with its seva component, the Serve the Planet day in October (more details to follow but ideas welcome), regular YAP meetings, liaison with former SSE students and possibly a regional youth satsang. There was a dynamic exchange of views and many ideas – youth must be given responsibility from a very early age e.g. singing, leading discussions etc. The music and IT matters are very attractive to youth and they are also action-orientated. This must be channelled appropriately. Brother Kumi spoke about his involvement in a medical awareness programme in the United Kingdom.

Health awareness days – they are in touch with groups such as the British Heart Foundation and the Primary care Trust to discuss how to best make use of these days.

Blood donations - for which much work has been done by the Merton Sai Centre. Lots of support and help was needed for this project. Brother Lavan suggested that all the centres need to make all their regular members aware about blood donation sessions well in advance, as they have to be made aware of things that might prevent them from being able to give blood.

International work - the rota for the hospitals in Brindavan and Prasanthi Nilayam and the service camps.

Global Sevice Day - centres or groups are generally involved in a number of service activities. The service is to be conducted on the 2nd weekend of July and is on a “Global Scale”.

It was also mentioned that local councils welcome volunteers for various types of work, particularly environmental work.

Finally, after a wonderful lunch, we listened to an extract of the video from Dr Narendranath Reddy (Chair of Prashanthi Council) as already enjoyed by those who attended the UK National conference. Brother Veeru of the UKCC then gave a stirring summary of the day, reminding us of the need for steadfast faith and commitment, and a deep identification with the suffering of others. Most of us lead a very narrow existence, he said. He left us with the image of a pot of Amrit (nectar), placed in the heart and constantly overflowing. We should also have the courage to talk about our experiences.

The programme concluded with two bhajans, followed by arathi thus bringing an end to an uplifting day. Hopefully we all took something away to work on in the coming year.

By sisters Maureen (Wandsworth Group) and
Sandra (Bromley Centre)

Region 1 - Sai Seva Curry: a Hit with the Homeless

For some years now, Region 1 has been bringing Swami’s love to the homeless in Streatham in the form of a monthly vegetarian curry. The project involves 3 of our Region 1 Sai groups turning up on the 3rd Sunday of each month at Spires in South London in order to cook a curry.

This means buying and transporting all the ingredients and donning an apron on Sunday morning to wash, chop and cook for a group of up to 120 people. And since there are just 8 participating groups (Brixton, Bromley, Tooting, Wimbledon, Lewisham, Kingston, Chessington and Thornton Heath) it can mean up to 5 “turns” for some stalwart groups.

Spires is a charity which aims to provide many services and learning opportunities for the homeless and underprivileged. They do wonderful work, and their clients seem to enjoy our curry. As Lucy Barrett one of the staff puts it –

“I just wanted to write on behalf of everyone at Spires to thank all those who came here and cooked the wonderful food on Sunday. You all did a fantastic job and our clients loved the curry, with everyone saying how tasty it was (plus you also did a smashing job of cleaning up the kitchen afterwards!). Thank you so much, your hard work is as always much appreciated.”

Unfortunately, due to the economic downturn Spires is no longer open to the public on Sundays so our food has to be refrigerated until Tuesday when they throw the doors open and feed the multitude. This makes the Sunday morning cooking very easygoing and is in marked contrast to the days when we were serving breakfast and lunch with the queues forming out in the hall. We may have had to compromise on our procedures but we put in a good effort and I don’t think we have ever disappointed our clientele.

As a group we always enjoy our morning’s task, with the different cooks bringing subtle changes to the procedure. Happily for everyone, I just manage the project and have never had to actually cook myself.

By the way Spires are always glad of food offerings, clothes, towels etc. so contact your Seva convenor if you would like to make donations.

Maureen O’Hara
Project Manager

Region 1 - Seva Activity for Service in Sierra Leone

Members from Tooting Sai Centre were not deterred by the ice-cold conditions on Sunday 24th March; instead they came together and created a warm atmosphere whilst taking part in a worthwhile seva activity.

As doctors, nurses and general volunteers prepare to head to sunny Sierra Leone in April to aid the on going medical camps at Yonibana Sai Hospital, Yonibana, Mile 88, Sierra Leone, West Africa, volunteers came together to pack boxes and prepare gifts for the underprivileged people there. Having been on one of a number of previous camps back in 2009, I was pleased to arrive and see a swarm of volunteers buzzing around for this fantastic cause. The medicines packed will be used to provide free healthcare to the local people and the books and educational resources will be used to provide the much-needed education to the community, so that they themselves can evolve as a society. This also included a number of books on Sai literature, books for the younger children and books for the GCSE syllabus. Three active members of the Tooting Sai Centre have already gone earlier to Sierra Leone ( prior to the medical camp joining them on 10th April) to start the Educare programme ( EHV teaching, teaching of health and hygiene to schools/ villages , prevention of STD) and Sociocare programme ( doing a 'census' of approximately 65 villages in the surrounding area to determine disease patterns, age groups affected by various diseases, prevalence of certain diseases, what preventative measures can be introduced to the local communities and working with village 'chiefs' to reduce high incidences of infant mortality deaths).

It was a wonderful afternoon in which a total of 27 of 62 boxes, each 23 kilos in weight were packed with supplies for the medical camp there. Subsequently volunteers from Tooting Sai centre packed a further 35 boxes in the few days bringing the total to 1426 kg of medicines, books, food items, and clothing! The food items are for the medical camp personnel who have to do their own cooking as there is a scarcity of vegetarian supplies in this remote location of the camp. All of these supplies were either generously donated by volunteers and local businesses or purchased especially for the medical camp through the Better Lives Foundation charity.

Amongst these boxes, extra special gifts were wrapped for the children of Yonibana and the neighboring rural villages. Clothing was kindly donated for children who are from newborn, up to 6 years old. It even included an adorable range of sweaters, gloves, booties and hats for premature babies. These brightly colored clothes were all hand knitted with so much love by the voluntary group ‘Something beautiful for God’. Even though the climate is predominantly warm and sunny, the rainy season is fast approaching and evening time can be particularly cold, especially for the younger ones. Thankfully this clothing will reach Africa just in time for the season change.

After a long day, all the volunteers stood around the room grateful to the many donations and kind gestures of so many individuals that has made this trip once again possible. More so, everything was ready to take flight and make its way to the people in need over 3000 miles away in Africa.

Rishni Patel, Tooting Sai Centre

Region 1 - Tooting Centres Mother’s Day and Shivratri Celebrations

Sunday 10 March 2013

Whenever a mother conferred her blessings on her son, the Divine was present there to declare, "May it happen so."
Sathya Sai Speaks Volume 31 (Ch 22)

The programme commenced with a melodic invocation on the sitar with a traditional melody and bhajan set in raag bhairavi, to evoke a peaceful mood. This was followed by the recitation of Lingaashtakam and Sai Shiva Stotram which extol the virtues of Lord Shiva. The youth of Tooting Sai centre then presented the song Man mero laage na which was composed by Swami's students and was first presented on the occasion of his 58th Birthday in 1983 followed by bhajans, aarti, vibhuti and reading.

After the announcements SSE children offered their gratitude and thanks to their mothers, grandmothers and prostrations seeking their blessings. Of particular amusement were the nursery children who thanked their mums for giving them yummy food, reading books and playing with them. This was followed by the Youth, teachers and helpers, and centre members seeking the blessings from the respected elder ladies of the centre.

Shivratri celebrations continued with Group 1 year 2 students reciting the prayer "kailasarana Shiva Chandramouli" and bhajan "Nataraja", followed by Group 2 / Group 3 students presentation on Maha Shivratri. To ensure all in the audience were paying attention a short quiz followed, and yes the audience answered correctly.

The newly formed "Parents Study Group" started their presentation with recitation of "Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu" prayer, followed by explaining Shiva's function as an essential part of regeneration and not "a destroyer" as is commonly perceived. The creation of a tree requiring the germination of the seed was sited as an example. The various objects of Shiva and the qualities these represented were then explained. This was followed by a presentation highlighted the contrasting components of the family of Shiva and their associated animals and travel vehicles. How these animals, who in nature, consume each other as food but live in harmony when associated with Shiva Family was illustrated. The examples included Subramanium riding on a peacock, which attacks snakes wound around Shiva; another son Ganesh rides on a mouse which is consumed by snakes, Lord Ganesh has the head of the elephant, which wets the appetite of the Lion (vehicle used by Goddess Durga, the consort of Lord Shiva), the Lion is not friendly by nature to the Bull, which the Lord Shiva has as his vehicle. The presentation was concluded by and explanation of why and how Shivatri is celebrated and what is the significance of the day.

The celebrations were enjoyed by all and finished with prayers and prasadam.

Tooting Sai Centre

Region 2 - MahaShivaratri

This year’s Region 2 Maha Shivaratri programme, led by the Greenford Sai centre, brought together a remarkable array of readings, pooja and soul stirring bhajans to warm and spiritually energise devotees and the environment, on what was a very cold March night.

To begin with devotees entering the venue were greeted by a beautiful Shivalingam (outward symbol of the formless being, lord Shiva) and given the opportunity to perform their own heartfelt Abhishekham before sitting down for the evening’s programme, which was kicked off with a short description about the Family of Lord Shiva, read by Brother Suresh Sajnani.

Quoting Swami’s discourse, Brother said the Family of Lord Shiva set an ideal example for us all, because Lord Shiva’s family was filled with animal forms that would usually fight in the material world but who instead chose to live together in love and harmony.

This set the tone for the rest of the evening as a devotee was chosen at random to perform the Shiva-Lingam Pooja. The joy on his face was clear to see and warmed the heart of everyone lucky enough to witness the Pooja, which took place on a shimmering and beautifully designed altar (shown below). After this, every devotee was given the opportunity to partake in Bilva Archana by placing a Bilva leaf on the Shivalingam accompanied by the melodious singing of the Bilva Ashtakam which chants ‘Trijanma Paapa Samharam – Eka Bilvam, Shiva Arpanam’ – meaning, if you offer a single Bilva leaf with devotion to Lord Shiva, it has the potency to eradicate sins for three lifetimes

Maha Shivaratri celebrated on the 14th night of the new moon in the dark fortnight of the month of Phalgun, is when the moon (signifying the mind) only appears as a streak in the night sky, meaning the mind is much easier to control on this night above all others. Swami has also said: “The holy night of Maha Shivaratri is intended to be an opportunity for eradicating the evil tendencies, and turning the mind firmly towards God. When the entire night is dedicated to the chanting of the Lord's name, a person’s mind, speech and senses, all get centred on God”.

Devotees were then treated to two hours of sublime, soul charging bhajans (also led by the Greenford Sai centre), sung by an array of melodious voices and accompanied by some fine musicians. As the midnight hour approached the bhajans gathered pace and devotional fervour, suffusing the air with warm divine vibrations. Soon after, the festivities came to a close with the offering of the Mangala Arati and closing prayers leaving all devotees feeling blessed and spiritually charged on the holiest of nights. In his closing remarks Brother Senthil, Region 2 Chair, thanked the Greenford Sai Centre for leading the event so beautifully and for bringing the region together in Love and Unity.

As if that wasn’t enough, devotees were joined by some unexpected, but well known guests, in the form of Hollywood actress Goldie Hawn and her husband Kurt Russell, as they took the time to mark this important occasion and pay homage to our beloved Lord.

With Love,

Article Submitted by Priya Kotecha & Suresh Sajnani
On Behalf of the Region 2 Spiritual Wing

Region 2 - Orientation & Welcome Day

On Saturday 23rd March, around 40 Centre Chairs and Active workers with Brother Kiran Patel and Sister Vidyulatha Narayan came together to better understand "The Mission of Sathya Sai" through some of the activities our Spiritual Aspirants had on offer last year as well as to hear what the year ahead holds for them. This year’s activities will provide devotees more opportunities to "Serve ably as His Instruments". The aim of RSSOC this year was to Inspire Individuals and Centres members into action of selfless service.

On Today’s RSSOC Menu, the Starter was served by Swami’s Omnipresence, the ambience was charged by the vibrant chanting of Vedams followed by Group Devotional Singing. Sister Bhadra Patel (Former R2 Chair) highlighted some of the items on last year’s menu served regularly by Centres and Groups in their local areas within North West London and highlighted some of the centres signature items and achievements.

In the way of drinks on the menu, we would be served 3 different types of Nectars during the afternoon for our taste buds to be inspired. Each one came with its own unique ingredient of ‘Take Home Messages’. The first drink was a cocktail called ‘Power of Words’ and the results of mixing its words were amazing. Just imagine a Blind Man sitting on the pavement on a bitterly cold day with a sign that read "I’m Blind, Please Help" in a hope you would drop a few coins in loose change. At this point not much loose coins followed. A Young Adult changed the sign and this prompted every passerby to donate their loose change. When the young adult returned, the man asked her "what did you do to my sign". She replied I wrote the same, but just in different words. The sign now read "It's a Beautiful Day and I Can’t See It". This reminded me of how Swami also played with words with devastating effect and one such word was Impossible where he said everything is I.M. Possible.

In the form of side dishes, Brother Senthil (R2 Chair) and the Regional Wing Coordinators shared they vision for the year ahead. The R2 Team were here to compliment and support all the main dishes the centres served up. Taking forward some of the centre’s best ingredients and making the activities available to other Sai Family members and local communities. Always innovating the menu to ensure all members have ample opportunities to "Serve ably as His Instruments" on the Centre, Community, Region and National platforms. Devotees were informed of the launch of the R2 inspiration Desk, which was on display in the foyer. The desk was a point of information and inspiration for all to see upcoming programmes, centre and group locations in the Region, contact details for all regional and centre chairs and how to get involved in service activities at Regional level.
The desk is designed to be dynamic with information changing as required and will be in action at every Regional event.

The glasses were topped with another nectar, "Pass the Kindness", the glass was full of atoms bouncing with energetic soundtrack called ‘One Day’ which followed a multitude of people who received one act of kindness and went on to help another fellow being without any discrimination to race, colour or creed. The amazing thing was the first character that started the chain reaction act of kindness was also the final beneficiary, just like when a boomerang returns to its starting point. It reminds me of how Sai Centres are the focal point in the community and the important role they play in "The Mission of Sathya Sai". How Swami has set up this Organisation to provide different openings for his beloved children to lead a moral life, by rendering selfless service to those in need, by engaging in devotional practices, and by developing love, respect, and compassion for all life.

The main course was served with the recipient’s full involvement in the two workshops: ‘Guidelines for Centres & Groups’ and ‘How to serve ably as His Instruments’. The first workshop concentrated on Guidelines and asked us to reflect if the operation of the centre met these guidelines. It generated a lot of discussions and debate exposing changes were needed at all levels in the organisation and at the same time analysis the benefit and constraints these changes posed. We were reminded that Swami was the Master Chef of these International Guidelines and the workshop was concluded with the Divine Discourse from 3rd World Conference (21/11/1980).

The second workshop gave us an opportunity to become his apprentice and allowed us to reflect and question if we had all the ingredients we needed to "Serve ably as His Instruments". As a Team, we were given a variety of scenarios to work through for different wings and asked to draw an action plan and think of ways of turning action points into actual actions. These scenarios required us to work and identify members of centres who can grow and take the centre forward into the community with the support of all the wings.

Brother Kiran Patel, shared some of his experiences and his observations from the workshops he attended and reminded us how we still have a lot of work to do and why we should grasp every opportunity in doing Swami’s work with full faith and know it will helps us in our spiritual journey.

After the closing address, we were served our final drink to warm our hearts and appreciate the time Swami has given us today to serve. This drink was simply called ‘Joy Jars’. A little Angel called Jessica Joy, whose selfless attitude and action changed the lives of many thousands of children across USA. Jessie was dialogised with Brain tumour when she was 11 years old. Regardless of what she was going through, she wanted to help all the other children going through the same painful treatment. The plan was to put small gifts of toys and stationary into a small paper bag and delivery it to all the children who cannot leave the hospital. The hospital changed the paper bags with small plastic jar. The joy and happiness she saw on the children faces when they were presented with the gift, made her determined to do more. A foundation was named in honour of Jessie who dies at a tender age of 12 and now it sends 130,000 Joy Jars’ across the USA every year bring hope and joy. Her simply message was ‘Never Ever Give Up’.

Finally, the desert were served by the Master himself as we joined him in the chorus and offered our humble closing prayers and Aarti.

Jai Sai Ram.
Written by Bhupendra Solanki (R2 SSE Coordinator).

Region 3 - Orientation & Welcome Day

Sunday 24th March 2013

Mill Hill Sai Centre kindly hosted the annual induction for office bearers in Region 3 on Sunday 24th March. The surrounding countryside was covered in a blanket of white snow but thankfully the devotees who had made the effort to attend, despite the cold weather were fully engaged in a packed and interesting agenda.

The compere for the day was Brother Seelan, Region 3 Vice Chair from Milton Keynes Sai Centre. Members of the national team, Dr Veeru (National Spiritual Co-ordinator), Uncle Yogesh (Chair, Region 1) Brother Kumi (Chair, Region 7) and Brother Shyam (National Youth Co-ordinator) were also in attendance to share their experiences and contribute to the discussions. The programme started with an inspiring talk from Uncle Yogesh relating his personal journey into the Sai fold and an incident involving a lonely, elderly lady to whom he offered some conversation and company; events that followed lead him to believe that she was none other than Swami Himself!. This talk was followed by short presentations from the wing co-ordinators outlining their activities for the forthcoming year.

Brother Karthik (Regional Spiritual Co-ordinator) lead Part 1 of the morning workshop around implementation of the Guidelines for Centres & Groups issued by the International Sri Satya Sai Service Organisation. An interesting debate followed on the first point – One Pointed Orientation, where individuals reasoned out the importance of implementing this point and also how pitfalls could be avoided. The audience then split into 2 groups to conduct Part 2 of the workshop which covered the other 3 guidelines and prompted interesting discussions around the importance of study circles and the need to avoid collection of funds for all centre activities. In fact, the discussions became so absorbing and intense that the sessions ran over time and the delicious lunch was all the more welcomed by participants who had reached their fill with intellectual sustenance and were more than ready for a good, hot meal.

The afternoon session started with the centre chairs from Ilford (Dr Vignesh), Thurrock (Brother Vijay), Walthamstow (Brother Kuhan) and Mill Hill (Brother Krishna) who each delivered excellent presentations outlining the variety of activities taking part at centre level. This was followed by an inspiring talk by Dr Upadhyay whereby he shared his experiences illustrating the need for office bearers to imbibe human values when dealing with others, and above all the power of LOVE in overcoming difficult situations.

The afternoon programme concluded with a vote of thanks from the Region 3 Committee extended to the guest speaker, Dr Upadhyay, members of the national team and to all those who attended the event or assisted behind the scenes. Most of all, thanks was offered to our Beloved Bhagavan Sri Satya Sai Baba in the form of Mangal Aarti - recognising that this event would not have been possible without HIS Grace.

Sutopa Sen
Region 3 Ladies Co-ordinator

Region 4 - Easter Sunday Celebrations at Coventry Sai Centre

Sunday 31st March 2013

St. Paul’s Church hall in Coventry, where the monthly Group Devotional Singing is held regularly, was filling up quite quickly when I arrived with my two sons. The Altar was already beautifully arranged in green and yellow spring theme which looked divine. A photo of Sai Baba and a photo of Jesus were adorned in the same colours, flowers and candles.

The celebrations started with Ganapati Prarthana and Purusha Suktam. We were then all asked to stand up for congregational singing of various hymns and songs. This just took me back to the time when I was at school; we used to sing hymns in assembly. A couple of young mothers were swaying to the music with their toddlers who were very happy. The hall was filled with sweet singing and all were enjoying the vibrations of the Lord’s songs.

Then the SSE children came to the front and talked on Easter, Jesus and Sathya Sai Baba. They were absolutely fabulous considering they had not had time to practise together. The children had relayed their individual talks with great confidence. One child even sang the Easter song solo. He was very brave and sang so confidently and sweetly.

We then had few bhajans followed by a very inspiring talk by Veena Subramanyam, a teacher from the Sathya Sai School in Leicester. Veena gave a spiritual angle to Christ’s resurrection along with her own personal experiences growing up in a Christian School. Listening to her reminded me that the message that Jesus had for us is the same as what Baba had been saying all those years. The five values have to be practised in our daily lives, we need to remember this all day and every day; Love, Peace, Truth, Right conduct and non – violence.

We then watched a slide show from last year’s Global Service Day with the song ‘We are the world’ sung by Michael Jackson and other singers. It reminded us of how the day was such a fun filled day and what we have to look forward to this year. It was so good to see everyone working hand in hand, in unity, with love and serving the community.

The Easter celebrations ended with Aarthi and closing prayers. All the children were given chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs as a gift from the celebration and a reminder of the message of Easter.

Thank you, Sai Baba for guiding me and bringing me and my family to such events. I cannot stress enough how my outlook on life has changed since Baba has come into my life.

Jai Sai Ram!
By Chhaya Parekh

Region 4 - Sathya Sai Orientation Conference

The Region 4 Sathya Sai Orientation Conference took place on Saturday 23rd March 2013 and was hosted by Birmingham Sai Centre at the Broadway School, Perry Bar, Birmingham. There was 4 inches of snow in Birmingham but that didn’t stop those dedicated, determined office bearers and active workers from attending.

The day began with multi-faith prayers, bhajans and with a welcome address from the Regional Chair Ketan Gokani . This was followed by the National Service co-ordinator Mukund Patel sharing his thoughts on the Mission of Sathya Sai. Brother Mukund really set the scene for the rest of the programme by refocusing our minds on Bhagawan’s Mission and our roles as devotees in the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation. He emphasised the development of humanity with all fellow man, seeing divinity in all, and how to ably serve as His Instruments.

After that we split up in to two groups, according to our roles and interests in Service/Youth and SSE/Spiritual to discuss further “The importance of the divine guidelines”. Each workshop was conducted by members of the Region 4 Chair/Vice chair and SSE and Spiritual coordinator. They thoroughly focused on getting to the issues regarding why guidelines make you feel as restricted instead of being a support at the heart of Sai Centres. We continued by looking at practical ways in which we can approach these issues. The focus of the workshops was bringing about change through personal transformation and how to learn to discriminate in a positive way. Devotees had the opportunity to get really in touch with Swami’s Teachings through exploring His discourses; understanding the messages in them; trying to understand how they can be applied to the self and how they can help us to grow spiritually.

Before the lunch, a video showcasing all the activities carried out by the centres and groups of Region 4 showed how busy the previous year had been. After that we had a delicious (and plentiful) lunch we then started the afternoon session of the programme. We continued the workshops. This time there was more focus on what you would say to a complete stranger about Sathya Sai Baba, His teaching and the Sai Organisation. Again, it was a very interesting discussion and the conclusion we came to was that centres need to seek to avoid creating an impression that one has to worship Sathya Sai Baba within context of any one particular religious orientation.

The SSE and Spiritual workshops discussed the 3 main qualifications of an office bearer. In summary, one must be an eager aspirant for spiritual progress, one must have full faith in the name and spread the message of Sai, and one must be a person who has won recognition as being good. Then in the afternoon we discussed the topic "being a fit instrument". In summary to serve as a fit instrument one must have steady faith, devotion, loyalty, enthusiasm, harmony, happiness, humility, skills, and dedication. One must avoid egotism, exhibitionism, and favouritism.

These interactive sessions were enjoyed by all and there were requests for further, similar workshops in the future.

Each member of the Region 4 team presented what was previously done in 2012, and the future plans for 2013.These plans were presentations by the Youth, SSE, Spiritual and Service Wings.

The final item in the programme was by the guest speaker, Dr. Pawan Tamvada. Listening to his excellent speech, it soon became clear that Pawana has genuinely inspired us by the short story of the axe and hammer that God has a plan for each and every one of us; we all are His instruments and he will use us when it is the right time according to our readiness. Pawan mentioned a quote to explain how our relationship should be with Swami i.e.

"Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend."

The talk summed up through his stories, our deliberations from the workshop, and which re-affirmed our roles as "His instruments"
here was a pre-recorded message by Dr Reddy, reminding us to practice His teaching ‘Start the day with love…’, and how we are blessed by Swami leaving us with His Divine legacy, the water project, schools, university, hospitals and so on. His final message was ABC – A (Always) B (Be) C (Careful/ Cheerful) and D (Don’t), E (Ever), F (Forget) G (God). It was a perfect conclusion to the day's programme.

This was immediately followed by the summery and vote of thanks by Brother Narendra Mistry Vice Chair R4, he concluded the day and mentioned that last year had been very busy, but we should now add an extra 20%.

The Program finished with one bhajan and the Aarti. The day had many take-home messages and succeeded in uplifting and inspiring all the devotees in Region 4.

Manisha Patel

Region 4 - Satyanarayana Katha

Narborough Sai Centre performed the Satyanarayana Katha on the 23rd of March, an auspicious day in the Hindu calendar. On the 22nd of March, the volunteers with a lot of love and devotion set up the hall, the puja materials for each Katha, the beautiful altar for our Bhagwan and food preparations had already begun. The divine presence was noticeably felt and all left in sheer excitement for the next day. The Katha was set up as service for the elderly and a seva opportunity for the youth. The set up of the hall was such that the youth sat on the floor whilst the elderly were seated on chairs with seva dals helping them. Despite the unpredictable weather (it was snowing), the turnout was fantastic, the atmosphere was ecstatic and all shared the experience as one big family. It is moments like this when devotees appreciate what divine opportunities Swami has given us.

The Katha story begins with Narada traveling all over the universe and its many worlds and finally coming to Earth (Bhuloka). Here he found that so many people were suffering. He was filled with compassion for their suffering and went to Lord Vishnu to ask him what could be done. Lord Vishnu explained that there is a special puja called Satyanarayana that can be performed by anyone. It can be done at any time and in any place. By performing the Katha, heartfelt wishes are answered and protection is showered upon us by our Lord.

The puja started by worship to Lord Ganesh, the oil lamp, the kalash and then to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi. 1008 names of lord Vishnu were chanted and various fruits, flowers and foods are offered. The benefits of conducting this puja are peace of mind, prosperity, dangers averted and negativity removed. The puja was led by Chirag Vithlani, who narrated the meanings and stories beautifully in Gujarati. Prasadam was served after mangal arti and positive experiences were shared. Our Swami was also born after Easwaramma partook of the Prasad of the Sathya Narayana puja and hence he was named Satyanarayana Raju.

Many elderly guests praised how beautifully the Katha was conducted, the youth enjoyed themselves and all were charged with divine love. A truly inspiring morning spent in divine company.

Rupal Rana and Lianne Bruce

Region 4 - Shivaratri and Mothers Day Celebrations at Coventry SSE

Sunday 10th March 2013

The SSE Shivaratri and Mothers Day session was a very special one indeed. I hadn’t attended an SSE morning for a while, my mum wanted to go and being Mothering Sunday, I happily went too.

We were greeted by a beautiful altar set-up by the SSE Gurus, complete with a Shivalingam.

The morning started with uplifting Multi-Faith prayers to our Mother Sai and continued with the Lingashtakam whilst every person in the room went up to the altar, one-by-one, and performed Lingam Puja. The children sang the Lingashtakam beautifully multiple times until the puja was complete.

2 SSE students, 2 young boys who had volunteered to create and deliver talks about Lord Shiva at the Centre’s Shivaratri event the night before, spoke again this time in front of their peers. Mostly reciting by heart what they had researched and compiled, they each delivered a clear and confident talk.

It had been announced earlier in the programme that there would be a surprise for the Mothers in the room; they did not disappoint. What followed brought a few tears to the eyes of a few mum’s and dad’s in the room!

Each student, beginning with the eldest child, stood up and told their mums why they were special to them. It was a very touching exercise, despite many of the children being quite shy at first! Immediately after finishing, they each found their mum in the crowd and gave them a beautiful flower, a hug and kiss. A recent former SSE student also took part in this with heartfelt message for his mum.

The room was really spilling over with happy vibes and smiles all round! It was a well planned, successful event, an amazing way to start Mothering Sunday.

By Dharmishta Lad, Coventry

Region 4 – Leicester Central Annual Service Meeting

The Leicester Central service wing held their quarterly gathering for active service members to overview their activities on Saturday 2nd March 2013 at Belgrave Neighborhood Centre. The aim of this event was to emphasise how, and with which attributes we should be carrying out service activities. We identified the ways in which the service group can service the centre as well as the wider community as a form of practical spirituality.

The programme started with prayers and a bhajan, followed by a short video on Swami. Thereafter a small story [1] was narrated about the hungry poor man who had not eaten for few days, visits the house of a householder who had always practiced ‘revere your guest as God’. As the man was famished he forgot to say his prayers before eating the delicious food. This enraged the householder and he took away food and asked the man to leave. That night God appeared in the householder’s dream and said ‘I have been looking after the man for 60 years and did not mind he did not remember me even once. You should have served him food with love and should not have lost the quality of forbearance. First and foremost, give importance to humanness. You can teach spirituality to a hungry man only after offering him food and satisfying his hunger'. Every now and then God subjects people to such tests. Thus the moral was to be careful not to lose forbearance in any situation. We, as service members should always be eager to serve and learn to be patient with whomever we are serving as it is God whom we truly serve.

A few members of the service team spoke of personal experiences of service activities in which we are all able to participate, in Prashanti. These activities included helping at the Chaitanya Jyoti Museum, catering in the canteens and general help within Swami's hospitals. Everyone who spoke emphasised the amount of love there is in serving and how peaceful vibrations are created.

We then had a lively discussion on how we can improve and further develop on current activities that take place in the Centre. For example, “meals on wheels” service is more than just delivering home cooked food, but it is an opportunity to sit, talk and listen to those that we serve.

This led us to talk about introducing new service opportunities, such as visits to residential and nursing homes, working with other organisations, such as helping to improve the environment.

We realised that it is very important to have these regular gatherings so that we can all learn from one another as to how we can continue to carry out all service activities selflessly, happily and lovingly..

SWAMI SAYS:

To serve selflessly and silently with the feeling of oneness towards every individual, community and humanity and to offer every act to God.

[1] Sanathana Sarathi April 2011

Sai Ram

Region 6 - Laksharchana at Farnborough Sai Centre

Farnborough Sai Centre hosted a Laksharchana on Sunday, 10th March 2013, on the auspicious occasion of Maha Shivaratri day. The Laksharchana was conducted by Mr Vadgama who was told by Swami in one of his interviews that he was “SAMA” during the reign of Shirdi Sai Baba. Currently he is Vadgama and he will become a store keeper at the time of “PREMA SAI”. It is the third time that Mr Vadgama has conducted a Laksharchana in the Farnborough Sai Centre. He has had countless experiences with Swami. It is believed that this yagna solves any kind of problems and cures illness if it is performed with full faith.

Around 240 devotees participated in this Laksharchana, of which 50% were local devotees and 50% were from other areas in Region 6 and London. Each mala of chanting was interspersed with wonderful bhajan singing. Each devotee was given an opportunity to offer Panchamrit Milk and Vilma leaves on the Shiva Lingam. Mr Vadgama kindly blessed all the devotees with vibbuthi, a Sai Charitra book and Swami’s photo. The programme was concluded with a vote of thanks by the centre chair and delicious mahaprashad was served to all.

It was a lovely occasion and the hard work that went into organising it was really rewarded.

How truly blessed we were to have Mr Vadgama with us again to represent our beloved Swami. He is truly a tour de force! We were also so lucky too when he gave each one of us a packet of vibhuthi which had materialised overnight at his home. He told us that this always happens when he prays to Sai Baba to provide vibhuthi for the following Laksharchana.

Jai Sairam
Sushma Gurung
R6 Service Co-ordinator

Region 7 - Easter Tea Party

As part of their Seva project; the SSE children from the Swindon class, Region 7 decided to host a tea party for the elderly in our community. The Easter Tea Party is the third party we have hosted and each time there has been a growing interest from the local community in Wootton Bassett. This is thanks to our dear Swami whose love has clearly touched all of our lives!

Everyone gets involved with the preparation. The Nursery, Group 1 SSE children make cards and gifts whilst the Group 2 & 3 children plan how to entertain our guests. Previously we played Bingo and ‘Name That Tune’. This time we decided to get to know our elderly friends better and to give them a chance to share their life experiences with us.

Interestingly, our SSE children were astonished to find out that majority of our elderly friends did not have televisions in their homes when they were growing up. They used to watch TV at a neighbour’s house if they were lucky enough to have one.

They also had to make most of the games they played with. The advice they gave our children was to be grateful for what they have today, and to enjoy life, to be happy and to always remember GOD.

It was a real treat, when Helen, who has been joining us for our tea party every term, came prepared with a story for the children! She found out that story telling was part of an SSE lesson and wanted to share her talent with everyone. She had hand drawn illustrations that the children held up as she read the story.

There was lots of tea, cakes, sandwiches and Easter Eggs which was enjoyed by all! The afternoon ended with a few English Devotional Songs in which everyone joined in. An Easter basket, made by the children was presented to each guest on departure. Everyone left with high spirits and one question.....When is the Next Party!

We thank Swami for allowing us to be his beacons of light and for spreading his love into the community.

Sai Ram
Lena Patel
SSE teacher

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