April 2014 Edition

Quote

Service to God has been described as Bhakti. The heart of the devotee flows with love of the Lord through constant remembrance and recitation of His name. Out of this stream of love, devotion emerges. One who is nourished by the nectar of Bhakti will have no desire for anything else. To be unaffected by joy or sorrow, gain or loss, praise or blame, to remain steadfast and unwavering in faith, is the hall-mark of true devotion. Affection, attachment, desire are natural qualities in man. When these qualities are directed towards God and when one is continuously engaged in good deeds, these qualities acquire purity and sacredness. Then a man becomes not only a great soul but can become divine.

~ Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Events

Sathya Sai National Human Values Day 2014

National Easwaramma Day 2014

Sai Spiritual Education Training Day

Articles

Bhagawan Baba: The Embodiment of Love in Thought, Action, Feeling and Understanding

Education Wing - A Tribute to Motherhood

Education Wing - Poem: Walking with Sai

Hanuman: An Inspiring Example of Devotion, Service, and Leadership

Leaders like Lions: Knowing is not the same as becoming

Region 1 - Young Adults Programme

Region 3 - SSE Training Day

Region 3 - Young Adults Programme

Region 4 - Coventry SSE Celebrating Mother’s Day

Region 4 - Coventry Winter Night Shelter Food Service

Region 4 - Mahashivarathri

Region 4 - Mahashivarathri: The Great Night of the Worship of Lord Shiva

Region 4 - Mothers’ Day and Ugadi Celebrations at the Leicester Central Sai Centre

Region 4 - Sathya Sai Regional Orientation Day

Service Wing - Health Awareness Workshop on 23rd March at Tooting Sai Centre

Spiritual Wing - Happy Easter!

Spiritual Wing - Lent

Stokes Wood Good Values Holiday Club

Youth Wing - International Youth Festival 2016: Pre-registration survey

Editorial

Dear brothers and sisters,
Om Sri Sai Ram.

The month of April has heralded the dawn of Spring and, to quote William Shakespeare, hath put a spirit of youth in everything! Bird songs, flower blossoms, new plant shoots, happy bees……all these bring into our lives new cheer, new hopes, fresher smiles, and firmer resolves!

This celebratory spirit in the air soared further, when many of our readers welcomed their traditional New Years this month with gusto. Let us join together and wish everyone a Happy Ugadhi (Telugu and Kannada), Gudi Padwa (Marathi), Cheti Chand (Sindhi), Navreh (Kashmiri), Baisakhi (Punjab), Poila Baisakhi (Bengal), Bohag Bihu (Assam), Vishu (Kerala), and Puthandu (Tamil). Bhagawan reminds us that the celebrations welcoming the New Year cannot just be treated as simple worldly affairs, but as opportunities to renew our aspirations and resolve to enter the Kingdom of God.

The Holy Easter continues to sustain and strengthen this yearning to enter His Kingdom, so poignantly in millions of people around the globe, even if more than two thousand years have elapsed since the Son of God, Lord Jesus Christ, exemplified The Father’s Love and Compassion through his unparalleled sacrifice and forgiveness. The period of Lent that precedes this holy day is a reminder to purify our hearts and undertake good actions: Qualifications that Bhagawan Baba says are a pre-requisite to enter The Kingdom of God.

Every divine master who graced this earth and walked amidst humanity since the very beginning of time, every religion they established, and every scripture they preached- all have highlighted the core principles of purity and transformation of hearts as the springboards to access this Kingdom.

April gave us the occasion to reflect and learn from the lives and teachings of such divine masters from different religions and faiths. The birthdays of Hanuman, Guru Nanak, and Mahavira were observed with great devotional fervour. So too, the Baha’is celebrated Ridvan, and Jews, The Passover as reminders of enlightenment and liberation from slavery: Slavery to the senses and vagaries of mind, our beloved Swami explains. These masters served fellow humanity through their example, and led others on the royal path of spirituality. They were, and continue to be, the true ‘Leaders like Lions’.

Bhagawan’s physical sojourn on earth, as was Lord Sri Rama’s 10,000 years ago, is an Epic on Human Values that exhorts humans to saturate their speech, vision, actions and hearts with Divine Love. With incredible patience and love of a thousand mothers, Swami touched each one of us and put us firmly on the path of Self-transformation. Let us together offer our immense gratitude and a loving tribute to such a benevolent Master, our Lord Sathya Sai! ‘Love is God, Live in Love’- His exhortation to us- is thus an apt theme for the upcoming Sathya Sai National Human Values Day in London, which is our heartfelt offering at His Mahasamadhi. In this Sai Path of Love, let us all ‘Walk together with Sai: And Be One’, which is our theme for the sacred National Easwaramma Day in Hatfield on the 3rd of May.

Dr . Veeru Mudigonda,
Vice- Chair, UKCC
SSSSO UK

Bhagawan Baba: The Embodiment of Love in Thought, Action, Feeling and Understanding

"Do not merely talk about truth, righteousness, peace, love, and non-violence (sathya, dharma, santhi, prema, and ahimsa). Instead. awaken these values in your heart. Arise, awake, go to noble men and learn from them the secret of attaining Divinity (Uttishtha, Jagratha, Prapya Varannibodhata). You should awaken the values of truth, righteousness, and peace that are lying dormant in your heart. Why are they lying dormant? They are lying dormant because you are not putting them to any use. On the other hand, you are putting all your worldly feelings and tendencies into action. Since you are not putting these values to use, they are lying dormant. Put them to use. Then all your worldly tendencies will be subdued and the values will be awakened.”
Divine Discourse 26 July 1996

Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s universal message of truth, right conduct, peace, love, and non-violence has travelled across the globe and has influenced the lives of millions. He embodied these values and inspired millions to practise them by His example.

His mission was to enable mankind to manifest their inherent divine qualities and values, expand their hearts and develop a broad minded vision through service to fellow beings, and thereby realise their full potential. He taught that all human beings are equal and that all faiths were universal in the principles that they promoted. His message and mission have inspired people around the world to undertake voluntary service in their local communities.

His name was Sathya (Truth).

“Truth is My nature, My Mission, My Message. Organisations bearing My Name have to be strictly adhering to Truth.” Sathya Sai Speaks/Volume 07/46

God descends in human form, so that humanity can learn from His Example. Bhagawan exemplified His teachings in His daily life, in interactions with millions of devotees and in various Service projects He undertook . His Will, His Word and His Work were always in unison. Whilst there are numerous incidents where Baba has demonstrated this, one that comes to my mind is the Chennai Water Project. Baba was very disturbed when he had observed people contracting diseases and dying due to lack of clean drinking water. In one of the public discourses, He pledged to provide water within a year although the costs were quite considerable, but which He delivered as promised! Even His most ardent devotees in the Ashram were stunned by this declaration which wasn’t a small feat to accomplish in such a short duration. But this stupendous task was completed by the date He had announced! Bhagawan always maintained His word to the devotees as His bond. His Truth was held on a high pedestal at all times. He encouraged everyone to speak the truth, to speak it pleasantly and not to speak unpalatable truth.

Ever since His birth, He sacrificed every moment of His Life for the welfare and spiritual uplift of fellow beings. He constantly reminded everyone to lead lives around God centeredness. He showed by His example, that the best way to Love God is by serving fellow beings. He declared that His mission was to establish on earth the brotherhood of man based upon Love which He demonstrated every moment of His Life.

“The establishment of righteousness (Dharma): that is my aim. The teaching of dharma, the spread of dharma: that is my object.” Divine Discourse 23 November 1968

Dharma (Right Conduct) is what Baba had come to establish. How can one decide in any particular case what is dharma and what is not?

“I shall tell you some principles which you can use on such occasions. That which does not inflict pain on you and on others - that is dharma. So act in such a way that you get joy and others to get joy. Or, take another standard for your actions: Make the manas, the vaak and the kaayam (thought, word and deed) agree in harmony. That is to say, act as you speak, speak as you feel; do not play false to your own conscience; do not cover your thoughts in a cloak of falsehood; do not suppress your conscience by forcibly enslaving it and embarking on actions not approved by it.”
Sathya Sai Speaks /Volume 02/44

His every action was imbued with Truth. Millions of spiritual seekers were attracted to Him drawn from diverse races, castes, beliefs and religions and from different age groups inspired by His sense of kinship and Love towards everyone without any distinction.

Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Sikhs and people from other religions came to Him. He didn’t establish a new religion but brought everyone together to make us understand that there was only one caste, the caste of humanity and that there was only one religion, the religion of Love. He exhorted everyone to become better in the practise of their respective religions.

“I am the embodiment of bliss (Anandaswarupa). Come, take bliss (ananda) from me, dwell on that bliss, and be full of peace (santhi).” Divine Discourse 23 November 1968

“Where there is righteousness, there is virtue, Where there is virtue, there is discipline, Where there is discipline, there is peace.” Divine Discourse 26 July 1996

He radiated happiness on everyone that came to Him and derived joy by doing so. His day was spent only in doing this. He was ever blissful and at peace. He demonstrated equal-mindedness on all occasions, whether it was praise or blame. He was never affected by criticism out of ill-will, envy or hatred. One recollects in the early 1970’s when Baba was criticised, ridiculed, belittled and defamed by Mr Karanjia, the editor of the Blitz magazine which at the time was very popular in India. Baba used to enquire about what was published this time around in the magazine, and He would just laugh it away but not react, ignoring the baseless criticism. When Mr Karanjia came to Brindavan (Bangalore), Baba called him for an interview and Mr Karanjia was a transformed man after this! The next edition of Blitz carried the headline: “God is an Indian”!

Baba manifested purity from within and spread bliss all around, something that the fortunate witnessed and experienced which can’t be expressed in mere words. To whomsoever He spoke, He did it sweetly and lovingly and always reminded devotees that you may not be able to oblige everyone at all times, but you can speak obligingly always! Baba was spontaneous and selfless in expressing His love towards anyone that came to His fold, for He was the very embodiment of Love and used that as an instrument for the transformation of mankind. It was His Divine Love that drew masses of people to the portals of Prasanthi Nilayam.

He encouraged everyone to develop the consciousness of the one Spirit in all being and promoted universal brotherhood. He reminded us, ”True Love should express itself in the awareness of the presence of the Divine in one and all. Names and forms may differ but the indwelling Spirit is the same in all.” Sathya Sai Speaks / Volume 29/ 22

His Mission was Brotherhood of Man. He had developed kinship with fellow beings and felt one with everyone. The welfare projects that He had undertaken are beyond anyone’s imagination both in terms of scale and time – free education, free medical aid with state of the art facilities, drinking water schemes, serving the poor and many others which had far reaching impact upon the masses of people. These were just a reflection of His compassion and His Love for fellow beings.

“There are any number of preachers in the world. There are equally numerous scholars. But there are few who practise what they preach and make others do likewise. Here alone there is a power that simultaneously preaches and practises. Whatever I say, I practise. I speak only on what I am doing. The students present here know this well. Love, love, love. I love all and I ask all to love. My greatest wealth is love. People speak about My powers and My miracles, but My Love is My greatest miracle. All should share in this love. Only then there will be oneness.” Sathya Sai Speaks /Volume23/35

Bhagawan has given a wider context to the practise of Non-Violence in our daily lives. Whilst avoiding causing harm to fellow humans is important, He advises us to also pay particular attention against harming animals and trees, polluting our atmosphere, and misuse of natural resources like rivers, energy, food etc. He used to ensure that ceiling fans or lights were turned off when the room wasn’t occupied. There was an incident when Baba was walking and observed a trail of ants on the ground. He alerted people walking behind Him to take note and avoid. His personal food habits too were very moderate so as to not cause harm to His body.

“When you are able to develop love, non-violence will come to you of its own accord. Where there is love, there can be no trace of violence.” Sathya Sai Speaks/Volume 39/15

Everyone should act up to the motto - "Help ever- hurt never." Sathya Sai Speaks/ Volume/27/16

Obeying my instructions is enough; it will benefit you more than the most rigorous asceticism. Practice sathya, dharma, santhi and prema, which are dear to me; resolve to keep those ideals before you ever, in all your thoughts, words and deeds. That can confer on you the summum bonum of mergence in the supreme substance of Divinity. Sathya Sai Speaks /Volume 6/ 210-213

Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is an eternally inspiring example of Human Values. It is for this reason that the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (UK) is celebrating the Sathya Sai National Human Values Day on the 26th of April this year, as an offering of Love and Gratitude on His Mahasamadhi. Let us all join in this programme enthusiastically. Please refer to the attached flyer in this newsletter for the details of registration.

Dr. Kiran Patel
UKCC Chair, SSSSO UK

Education Wing - A Tribute to Motherhood

In the sacred vedic hymns the mother is referred to as verily god incarnate herself. The well-known vedic dictum ‘ Maatru Devo Bhava’ places the mother in the lap of divinity itself. The greatness and glory of our mothers lies in the simple truth that they are the very embodiments of love, sacrifice, patience, forbearance, enormous inner strength and fortitude. It is our mothers who nourish, nurture and mould the child into humanness. Bhagavan Baba reminds us of the distinctive attribute only a mother possesses and that is of being the first person a child encounters. The mother is man’s first Guru. It is the mother who shows her child to their father, who in turns takes the child to the Guru whose responsibility it is to take the child on the good and Godly path.

Every religion pays homage to the greatness of motherhood by the great examples of Goddesses such as Mother Mary, Mother Kunti, Mother Sumitra, Mother Aryaamba, Mother Sarah and our very own Mother Easwaramma. It is the result of the noble and virtuous thoughts, words and deeds of these great and Godly mothers that we have been graced and blessed with the divine incarnations such as Lord Jesus, Lord Buddha, the Prophet Mohammed, Guru Nanak Dev, Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, Sri Adi Shankara Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba to name but a few.

Bhagavan Baba gently instructs us that only when we love and revere our own mothers and fathers, only then can we understand and experience the love of our Divine Mother and Father. Bhagavan Baba in order to demonstrate to us the importance of revering our parents performed His duties towards His parents Sri Kondama Raju and Mother Easwaramma during their lifetimes most lovingly and reverentially and He continued to visit their resting place (Samadhi) every year on the 6th Of May, known as Easwaramma Day.

Easwaramma Day in the Sai calendar is earmarked to be celebrated as Children’s Day the world over just so as to remind us of the ideal of reverence and gratitude towards our mothers and motherhood. Mother Easwaramma who so very dearly loved children was a great proponent of the Bal Vikas movement and hence Bhagavan graciously consented for this day to also be the day when hundreds of Bal Vikas children come together in His presence to offer their loving hearts and minds in the form of cultural programmes and to imbibe the highest spiritual lessons from the Divine Mother whilst performing selfless service to the needy.

National Easwaramma Day Celebrations this year in the United Kingdom is being commemorated as a day when our SSE children will come together to ‘Walk with Sai: And Be One’. Mother Easwaramma in her own life walked with Sai by demonstrating and practicing the qualities of kindness, devotion, patience, sacrifice, simplicity, humility and personifying the five Human Values of Truth, Right-Conduct, Peace, Love and Non-Violence as the very breath of her life. Our children through their SSE classes across the regions have been preparing for this annual event by participating in a National Poster and Poem event on the theme ‘Walk with Sai: And Be One’. From all the wonderful offerings of love from so many children, one poster and one poem has been selected as the flyer and poem to commemorate the event which will be showcased in the Love & Light publication. However, all the entries will be displayed on the day of the National Easwaramma Day Celebrations on 3rd May 2014 in Hatfield.

The children are also preparing for the annual SSE procession on the theme along with cultural and devotional items that they will present on the day. This year will also fulfil one of the objectives of commemorating Easwramma Day, that of being dedicated to the service of the needy. In this regard, an item of food contribution to the Food Bank will be encouraged for all children to participate in through the Ceiling on Desires programme that is an important aspect of the SSE programme. The SSE alumni and Sai youth are also working with abundant enthusiasm and dedication in providing an exhibition titled ‘Walk with Sai’.

Bhagavan’s grace on our children is boundless and has come in the form of a very special guest presiding over the National Easwaramma Day Celebrations this year. Professor Nanjundiah, formerly teacher and Controller of Examinations, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, India has had the immense good fortune of having walked with Sai for over four decades and he will be sharing his journey with Sai.

Needless to say, it will be a day for all of us to ‘Walk with Sai: And Be One’.

Mrs Vidyulatha Narayan
National SSE Coordinator

Education Wing - Poem: Walking with Sai

When one walk with Sai, they can do anything
No matter what difficulties the world may bring.
The cycle of joy and sorrow goes round and round,
When you’re with Sai, peace will abound.

When one walks with Sai, holy bhajans will they sing
Peace, like a tender dove does His presence bring.
Darkness flees as the light of Sai shines bright
When you’re with Sai, He saves you from your plight.

When one walks with Sai, they shine with Him
Swami’s radiance and light will never become dim.
Dedicate your heart to Sai, brimming with devotion
When you’re with Sai, the journey to bliss is in motion.

By: Sukrith Kumar
Age: 14
SSE Group 3
Region 3

Hanuman: An Inspiring Example of Devotion, Service, and Leadership

As we celebrate Hanuman Jayanthi on the 15th of April, I recall memories from my childhood sitting with my Grandmother as she watched the Ramayana on T.V. with great humility and devotion. I vividly recall tears of joy rolling down her face as she witnessed Hanuman’s example to the world as the perfect servant of the Lord. His unconditional love, his unflinching faith and his readiness to serve the Lord at all times - steadfast devotion and faith with not even an iota of doubt in Lord Rama’s Divinity.

“Doubts readily spring to the mind of the worldly wise. They may be clever and intelligent where worldly matters are concerned but pretty dumb where real discrimination is required. Sugriva was one such person. In his heart he felt that Rama was divine; yet, he had to test Rama’s skill in archery – there were doubts in his mind; the mind and the heart were not in harmony. Hanuman provides a striking contrast to Sugriva in such matters. From the moment he first set eyes on Rama, there was never even an iota of doubt that Rama was God Himself. It is the so-called educated ones who become plagued with all sorts of doubts. This is what is happening today. Man is totally preoccupied with the acquisition of worldly skills and worldly knowledge, completely ignoring basic values and the necessity for the cultivation of virtues. Modern education may make you clever, but it would never help develop character.”
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Summer Showers in Brindavan 2000, page 125.

Whilst Swami’s quote may be over a decade old, His message seems more relevant than ever. As spring takes hold again this year, so too the green shoots of recovery are blossoming as the UK economy bounces back from a double dip recession. Organisations are placing higher demands on their employees and we employees are continually striving to progress onwards and upwards by acquiring more skills and knowledge, in order to gain better positions and salaries. I am reminded by Swami’s message of the dangers of focusing solely on worldly ambitions without so much of a thought for the cultivation of virtues and rendering selfless service. Hanuman – often referred to as “Gunavantha” (highly virtuous) - provides us with an inexhaustible reservoir of how we should strive to please the Lord.

Where there is Rama, there cannot be Kama, says our Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

"Rama wanted to proclaim Hanuman as an ideal person to the world. At the time of the coronation of Rama, he was giving presents to various people. Although he had given presents to everyone, he did not give any present to Hanuman. This caused some trouble in the mind of Sita…….Sita quietly and slowly told this to Rama; and Rama said that if she felt so strongly, she could give Hanuman any present which she liked. She had a very valuable necklace of pearls around her neck which she removed and gave to Hanuman. Hanuman held this very valuable pearl necklace in his hand, began to remove all the pearls, one by one, from the necklace and break them. He put each pearl near his ears and began throwing it away. In this way, he was throwing away all the pearls of the necklace. Looking at this sight, Rama and Lakshmana were very surprised. Sita became somewhat angry, but she knew very well the situation. She called Hanuman with a view to proclaiming to the world Hanuman’s nature, and she asked Hanuman why he was throwing away the pearls and thus behaving truly like a monkey? Hanuman told Sita that he was examining if by breaking the pearl, he could listen to the name of Rama out of each pearl. He said that if he did not hear the name of Rama, the pearl was of no value to him and so he was throwing such pearls away. Hanuman said, even if it be a pearl, if there is no sound of Rama in it, the pearl is no better than a stone for him. Sita asked if he could hear the name of Rama even in lifeless matter. Hanuman said that he did not want anything to remain on him if it did not produce the sound of Rama. Sita asked, in return, if he meant that his entire body is filled with the name of Rama. Hanuman then plucked out one single hair from his body and put that hair at the ear of Rama and Sita. Sita found that even that little bit of hair was uttering the name of Rama. Here we see that Hanuman’s entire body was filled with the name of Rama and so where was the room for kama on the body of Hanuman? It is an established truth that where there is Rama, there cannot be kama, where there is kama, there is no place for Rama.

Summer Showers in Brindavan, 1977, page 117.

One cannot help but think about Hanuman when contemplating on the glories of Lord Rama. In one sense, Rama and Hanuman are inseparable. Hanuman was so near and dear to Lord Rama because of the way he expressed his love and devotion through action. “‘Yad bhavam tat bhavathi.’ One’s actions will reflect the kind of ideas which one has in one’s mind. Because all these good ideas were in the mind of Hanuman, the good ideas in the mind of God also synchronized with them, and the two were in unison. Immediately, Rama, who was on the shoulders of Hanuman, signalled to Lakshmana and assured him that because they had acquired such a good friend, their efforts will also be very successful. Amongst messengers, there are three kinds of messengers. The first kind are those who take the orders of the Lord, will not obey Him, but will take such actions as will go contrary to the wishes of the Lord. The second kind are those who will take literally what the Lord has said and will follow them without either adding something or taking away something. The results of such work will be accepted and will be carried back to the Lord. The third kind are those who will take the wishes of the Master and will perform the task in such a way that the wishes will be completely and at all costs fulfilled. He will become victorious and take back to the Master the message of victory. Rama and Lakshmana told each other that Hanuman is the third kind of friend who will see that the Master’s orders are taken to a stage which will ensure victory.”

Summer showers in Brindavan 1977, page 106.

Hanuman was always victorious in his endeavours for two main reasons; i) his mind was always focused on Rama only and; ii) harmony of thought, word and deed – which bestowed upon him the Grace of the Lord. Bhagawan narrates: “When he first presented himself before Rama and offered his services, Rama turned to Lakshmana and said, "Brother! Listen! Notice how Hanuman has mastered the Vedas. His speech is saturated with the humility and dedication which the Rig' Veda embodies, the retentiveness and reverence that the Yajur Veda promotes and the intuitive vision that the Sama Veda grants. Hanuman knows all the scriptural texts. He is a genuine devotee. Sugriva is fortunate to have him as his minister, Hanuman, whose thoughts, words and deeds are offered to God." When these three are in perfect harmony, the person wins the Grace of God, as Hanuman succeeded in securing.

Sathya Sai Speaks volume 19, chapter 8.

I am also reminded of his innate characteristics which made Him so dear to Lord Rama. “Hanuman was a very innocent person. He had no deceit in him. Today human beings are covered by considerable amount of deceit. We think that such people are very clever people. One who takes to the path of truth and one who does not know how to practise trickery is an innocent person. However, today we regard all such innocent persons, who do not know trickery, as people who are not clever at all and who do not know how to get on in the world. This is not right. An innocent person is really a very strong person”.

Bhagawan Baba, Summer Showers in Brindavan, 1977, page 122.

When Swami asks us to be “child-like” it’s these very same qualities of innocence and purity that He is referring to.

What strikes me above anything else is the manner in which Hanuman obeyed Rama’s Commands with devotion and faith together with confidence in his own self. When any order was given to Hanuman, he never questioned whether he has the strength or the capacity to fulfil the task. He had the firm faith that the very orders of Rama will give him the necessary strength to fulfil those orders. Hanuman’s examples of courage, devotion and service are infinite and this is why he is such a source of inspiration and strength to past, present and future generations.

Mr. Rajesh Patel,
Leicester, UK

Leaders like Lions: Knowing is not the same as becoming

"I want you to be leaders to protect the world. Leaders like lions, self-reliant, courageous, majestic and just. Lion is the king of animals and I want you to be king among men."
~ Sri Sathya Sai Baba, inaugural address to students, Summer Course 1992

The calling from Bhagawan Baba to all of us to rise up to our true Atmic potential and participate as able instruments in His Divine Mission to establish Peace on Earth through Love. On leaders and leadership, Swami also made his great utterance, ‘the Mahavakya’: ‘’Leadership is To Be, To Do, To See and To Tell’’

First, He sets out the aspiration for each of us in terms of the ‘What’, in His ever loving way. This is followed by the Mahavakya, which identifies for us the means to be that aspiration; the ‘How to’ of realising our inherent potential. Reading, writing, watching and talking about lions will not make us into lions! Instead we need to become like those majestic creatures. We do this by becoming men and women of character and deep integrity, by doing good deeds and service to humanity, to see always the bigger, truthful picture and also by telling and communicating the inner truth, sensitively and without fear.

History provides some wonderful and stirring examples of men and women of Character, whose courageous, majestic, and just actions protected the goodness in the world.

Rosa Parks in 1955, a humble African American lady returning home, somewhat tired after a hard day’s work as a seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama, refused to be cowed down by a bully of a bus conductor, demanding her to vacate her seat for a white passenger in a bus. This led to her arrest, imprisonment and eventually even losing her job. However, this courageous lion-like lady’s simple but resolute stance, as we now know of course, led to the Civil Rights movement with Dr. Martin Luther King in the lead. The leadership of Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King paved the way to America electing its first black president, in Barrack Obama some fifty years later: Something that could barely have been imagined during those troubled times of the civil rights movement.

The Mahatma, almost single-handedly and despite ridicule and scorn, but with enormous courage, determination and vision, helped Bharat gain Independence from the then invading and powerful British empire.

The unassuming and self- effacing, but endowed with steely determination and clear vision, a former cook at London’s Carlton hotel, Ho Chi Min fought off two super powers in France and the US, to liberate the peoples of Vietnam.

Abraham Lincoln with his hallmark humility, compassion, courage and unrivalled ability to communicate and connect with a wide range of peoples, ensured the unity of the United States and fought valiantly to bring an end to slavery.

William Wilberforce, the gutsy and unbowed MP from Westminster, worked indefatigably, despite failing health, to bring an end to the then economically lucrative but morally abhorrent slave trade based in Great Britain. His spirited campaign culminated in the successful enactment in the Parliament of the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833.

Very recently Madiba, as he was affectionately addressed by people, a true Gandhian by nature and principles, and a real majestic lion from Africa who could not be tamed even after 27 years in prison, who with his compassion and clear vision liberated the now so called rainbow nation of South Africa.

There have been many, many more! But the most illuminating aspect in these exemplary lives is the common thread that connects them with the aspiration that our beloved Swami has set out for us: To be a Lion – self-reliant, courageous, majestic and just, which is what the achievements of the above tell us. Can we be like this? What challenges do we see with in, and in the current environment that we live in, whether be in the UK or elsewhere in the globe, to meet this aspiration?

This is what an enlightened lady called Dorothy Sayers living in England saw, in 1954:

‘’Futility; lack of living faith; the drift into loose morality; greedy consumption; financial irresponsibility; uncontrolled bad temper; a self-opinionated and obstinate individualism; violence, sterility and a lack of reverence for life and property including one’s own; the exploitation of sex; the debasing of language by advertisement and propaganda; the commercialisation of religion; venality and string pulling in public affairs; dishonesty in material things; intellectual dishonesty; the fomenting of discord (class against class, nation against nation for what one can get out of it; the exploitation of the lowest and stupidest of mass emotions; - these are all too recognisable stages that lead to the cold death of society and the extinguishing of all civilised relations.’’

More recently amongst the developed economies, along with a wave of crises arising from financial mismanagement, there have been questionable labour practices, environmental disasters, and many accusations of dodgy dealings. All these have shaken the core foundations of trust and respect in both the leaders and our understanding of leadership.

There may be many reasons for this current plight, but the main one seems to be a steady and deep shift in values, like the movement of the continental plates, causing a seismic change that affects all our national cultures, perhaps shaking some more than others. We as individuals, are seen as ends in ourselves, rather than as means to societal, national and global welfare. However at the same time, the truth has become increasingly clearer that a democratic society does need Good leadership. Good: How often have we heard this word from our dear Bhagawan as opposed to Great, a word misplaced and misused in all walks of life! One man who personified this good leadership essential in times today, and for tomorrow, was Dag Hammaarskjold, Secretary of the UN (1953-1958), who wrote:

‘Your position never gives you the right to command. It only imposes on you the duty of so living your life that others can receive your orders without being humiliated.’

How relevant this is to us all! Be Good in thought word and deed – lead yourself in the right path and others will follow your light. As our dear Bhagawan says:

‘Be Good, Do Good, and See Good. This is the way to God!’

It is possible to be a good leader either as a supervisor or a hospital sister, as the head of a university department or as a school teacher, as the chief executive of a company or as a director of a government department….And as an office bearer of the sacred Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation. Such goodness in the various roles of leadership underpins the very act of leading, in the true spiritual and moral sense of the word.

Let me conclude with a story that Swami often narrated to illustrate the paradigm of good versus great most poignantly: That of Ravana the great king of the lush Lanka, and Lord Rama, the Embodiment of goodness! Ravana without doubt was truly a great king, scholar and leader of his people, endowed with great chivalry and empowered with the many boons he received from the Gods for his penance and sacrifices. However as time passed, his ego and desires became as inflated as Mount Kailash; his unbridled ego, arrogance, and anger caused him to lose his discrimination, wisdom and character. This made all his great learning and achievements useless, redundant and harmful! Lord Narayana incarnated on earth as Lord Sri Rama, the very embodiment of goodness, in response to the prayers of the good and saintly people. The good prince Rama destroyed the great king Ravana, who despite his greatness and the mighty army, suffered an ignominious end due to his various misdeeds.

The moral from the story of Ravana, one might suggest, is similar to the torrid tales from contemporaneous lives of a Hitler, a Stalin and many others of evil vision and values. Without goodness in the heart and a good character in the Persona, our experience in the modern world shows us that greatness is both shallow and short-lived.

Hence, Swami’s constant mantra to mankind, and to us His children of service in particular, is to relentlessly strive for goodness in our hearts and if greatness happens to follow, so be it! And not the other way round, with ego becoming the driving force in our lives.

So let us pray to our Loving Bhagawan for His Blessings, and resolve to progress on the journey of transformation into Leaders like Lions, just as the young Narendra (later renowned as Swami Vivekananda) did, after being spiritually woken by his Master, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Let us strive to become as mighty and high as the Vivekananda Rock in the Indian Ocean at Kanyakumari, named after him as an everlasting tribute to his lion-like leadership qualities in the service of his fellow humanity.

Professor Sri Kandiah
Member, Steering Committee, Sathya Sai Leadership Training Programme
SSSSO UK

Service Wing - Health Awareness Workshop on 23rd March at Tooting Sai Centre

On 23rd March, Tooting Sai Centre held the first of its many future Health Awareness workshops on 'Heart Disease Prevention'. This was the culmination of many months of debate as to how best to present it, whom to invite, what topics would be covered and most importantly, to make this process very informal and in a language that any member of the Centre could understand. It was decided to conduct the workshop in English, with occasional Gujarati and also in future Tamil if required.

The Workshop started with three Aums. All 38 of us there agreed that God has given us a human body and our job is to look after it. It needs to be in the best possible health in order to render service, both to our families and others in society.

The two facilitators of the Workshop, Dr Krishna and his daughter Dr Chandni, started off by explaining what heart disease was. In their easy going and welcoming style, they soon engaged all the members there into asking questions about any heart issues that they were confused about.

Then the importance of stress and Blood Pressure was discussed, including causes of Blood Pressure and what we can do to mitigate it. Of particular importance was when members were asked how much salt they should have in their diet , there were a wide spectrum of answers and it soon transpired that many members were not sure how much 6 grams of salt was. It was not until it was pointed out that this was a tea spoonful and shown to them that the message sank home. These practical and visual tips are very powerful messages to get simple truths home. The same exercise was done with sugar, and after some wild guesses the members themselves came to the conclusion that most of them were having excess sugar and salt in their diet without being aware of it. Further analysis also showed that some of the savoury snacks that we all take for granted are not in the best interest of our health. The message here was one of MODERATION and cutting down on all of these non-healthy food items.

Further introspection amongst the members revealed an alarming lack of exercise, and it was recommended that if all else was not available , then at least a 20 minute brisk walk ( initially for a few sessions per week and then daily if possible) would go a long way towards reducing Blood Pressure and maintaing fitness. It was emphasised that medications prescribed by the GP's must be taken as prescribed and not on an ad-hoc basis.

The importance of diet was discussed and the need to reduce butter, ghee and oil in the diet .

Emphasis was made in the need to increase the amount of 'greens' in the diet at the expense of starch based foods. Again the language was very simple and clear to understand, and more importantly it was related to the actual diets of the members present rather than the general population as a whole. The medical terminology usage was kept to a bare minimum and only conditions that people were familiar with were discussed.

Having seen the success of this Workshop, many further ones are planned with the next one being on the all important and common DIABETES. This Workshop will be in May and a flyer will be sent to all the Region 1 Centres inviting them to attend. It is open to everyone including family and friends, and would encourage you to book your place to help manage the session and make it more interesting and interactive.

Swami's message on prevention is warmly embraced by us all.

Jitesh Patel
Tooting Sai Centre

Spiritual Wing - Happy Easter!

Have you ever washed someone else’s feet? That’s a very strange question for me to ask at this Easter time isn’t it? But it’s a very important question to ask ourselves, as it prompts us to think about serving others, giving ourselves for others and humbling ourselves for the sake of others. It also helps us to understand a little about the person who is at the very centre of the Christian faith, Jesus Christ.

Jesus washed his disciples’ feet when he met with them to share a meal together. The Bible tells us that he got up from the meal, ...and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped round him. You can read the full account of what happened in John 13:1-17.

Washing his disciples’ feet was a perfect lesson in humility and service to others. But there was more. Jesus’ greatest act of self-sacrifice came a short while later when he allowed himself to be nailed upon an ugly wooden cross where he suffered an agonising death. Crucifixion was the most brutal, painful, agonising and humiliating way to die and yet Jesus allowed himself to die that awful death.

But there was more. The Bible tells us that three days after his death on the Cross he rose from the dead, appeared to his disciples and then ascended into heaven. (All this happened about 2,000 years ago).

But why did Jesus suffer in that way? Why didn’t he just run away from the Roman soldiers and others who wanted to see him dead? Why didn’t he call upon a host of angels to rescue him and lead him to safety? After all, the Bible tells us that he is the Son of God so it wouldn’t have been difficult for Jesus to save himself.

The answers to these questions are central to the Christian faith. The Bible tells us that Jesus loves us deeply and came to earth from heaven to save men, women, boys and girls from God’s punishment for all the wrong things they have done and continue to do. The Bible calls this sin and tells us that all mankind is sinful. When Jesus went to the Cross he shed his blood and his life and suffered the punishment for our sins on our behalf.

There is more. Jesus Christ, having died upon the Cross for all our sins, invites each man, woman and child to turn from their wrongdoing and accept him as their personal Lord and Saviour. The wonderful thing is that when someone says sorry and repents of their sins (turns away from them) and accepts Jesus in this way, God no longer sees that person’s sin but he sees Jesus because of his death upon the Cross on our behalf. Isn’t that wonderful?! And God then forgives our sins and promises to make us a new person.

The Bible also makes it clear that there is only one way to God and that is through Jesus. John 14:6 says: "I (Jesus) am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me."

This is an extraordinary claim for Jesus to make. He claims to be not one of many ways to God, but the way to God. The only way to God. It also means that any effort we make to be good in order to gain God’s favour is meaningless. Christians throughout the ages have come to Christ in faith, believing his claim to be the only way to God. That includes me, everyone in my church and Christians throughout our nation and world.

The amazing thing is that Jesus is calling you right now to turn from your sins, receive him by faith as Lord and Saviour and trust, follow and obey him throughout your life. In return, he promises that he will bless you with his Holy Spirit and guide and help you as you walk with him in the days ahead. He does not promise you an easy life and there will be difficulties and obstacles along the way. But he promises to change you and help you through this life, give you purpose and he promises you eternal life in heaven when you die.

This Easter time, join with other Christians and remember on Good Friday Jesus’ death on the Cross for your sins and my sins. On Easter Sunday join us in thanking him for rising from the dead to offer all people new life in him. And then respond to his invitation to turn from your sins and accept him as your Lord and Saviour. Don’t delay.

May this Easter be your best ever as you respond positively to Jesus. Happy Easter!

(You can read more about Jesus and the new life he offers in the four Bible Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

Stephen Bechervaise, Wootton Bassett Community Church

Spiritual Wing - Lent

Aum Sri Sai Ram

How beloved Swami turned me into a Vegetarian...

The forty day period from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday in the Christian calendar is known as Lent. During this time, devotees are encouraged to look God wards and pray daily, remembering the days Jesus himself wandered alone for forty days in the desert contemplating his mission, without food and water. During this ti me, for those who observe Lent, it is customary provided they are in good health, for each to give up something dear to them as an offering to God.

I was a keen meat-eater in those days and couldn't go through a day without my steaks, chops etc.

Our Sathya Sal Group in Bristol decided to undertake service helping our local Salvation Army with their regular feeding programme. On our request, they provided us with a list of specific items, ideally non-perishable food, for their kitchens across Bristol. This was especially at weekends as for many homeless people, this was their only hot meal in a week.

Somewhere along the way the conversation came around to very practical issues, such as how much money we would need to be able to purchase the list of items Sally Army had requested. While our desire to help was strong, due to the smallish size of our group, and some qualifying as pensioners, we did not wish to overstretch and disappoint ourselves. We decided to follow Baba's 'ceiling on desires' programme and any money saved that way each week, would go towards buying the required items. From the spiritual perspective, we felt this would also help us alter our habits and allow transformation from within. From my own perspective this meant only one thing. I would have to, for forty days, divert all money I saved on the meat component of my diet and channel this towards our group funds. Luckily, my wife agreed to do this as well and it was quite striking just how much we were spending on meat! Incidentally, my daughter who was then aged around 9 years decided to give up crisps to save money towards the funds, and my little son aged 5 announced he would give up his sister!

we visited our previous next-door neighbours, having not seen them for years, and they had prepared a traditional Christmas meal with all the trimmings. I remember worrying that if I ate any of this, whether it would completely undo my ‘karmic-bank account’ or convert me to being a non-vegetarian again.

As it happened, after this, I continued to be a vegetarian again. It happened once again last year on our most recent trip to Greece. I had not seen my friend for so long and we arrived in his home to find a magnificent spread of seafood, which he himself had prepared in memory of our college days. I thanked him and made no issue, partaking in the meal that was so lovingly prepared by him.

I see these as a tiny example of how my experiences with Swami operate. It starts with His grace of some sort and an internal mini-desire to improve oneself. Then, with a conscious effort and a dedicated prayer for support from Baba Himself, what looks difficult initially is made easy. I must stress here that I hold no opinion against anyone who themselves is a meat-eater as I was like that myself and I have now moved on for my own reasons. I believe I have no grounds to expect others to be vegetarian and my children still enjoy their meat. I have every faith that Swami will help them make their own decision when the time is right for them.

I will forever thank Baba for His presence in my life and His daily help and guidance. I hope this article gives some encouragement to others to reflect on ‘ceilings on desires’ and how this can play a role in one’s own personal and spiritual development. I now look forward to Easter every year as it reminds me of what I have achieved and inspires me to better myself more.

Sai Ram

Stokes Wood Good Values Holiday Club

"When young people know they have inherent values and are valued, they will be motivated to behave well and work hard"

The Stokes Wood Good Values 5-day holiday club is to take place at Stokes Wood Primary School, Blackett Avenue, Leicester LE3 9BX the week of Monday 26th May to Friday 30th May, 2014 from 9.30am to 3.30pm.

This Holiday Good Values Club is based on the Sathya Sai Education in Human Values (SSEHV) Programme, which is a multi-cultural, multi-faith, self-development programme. SSEHV emphasises the teaching of five core 'Human Values' which are inherent in all of us, namely Love, Peace, Truth, Right Conduct and Non-Violence, as well as related values such as respect for self, others and the environment, compassion, courage, honesty, etc. The programme does not impose any value system upon children, but empowers them to become more confident decision makers themselves.

The aim of the holiday club is to help children aged between 6 and 12 to develop positive values and self-confidence, whilst having fun. It is designed to help them experience and recognise the values within themselves. It teaches them:

* To be more aware of their actions and the repercussions of their actions.
* To respect each other, their parents, teachers, elders, and law and order.
* To accept and appreciate differences and also similarities between other people and themselves.

The Programme will help children to explore concepts of right and wrong through group discussions, quotations, storytelling, songs, games, sports, drama, art work, silent sitting and other activities.

Every day for five days each value will be selected and there will be an SSEHV lesson, Values based sports, EHV Games, Chi Kwon do, an assembly, storey telling and singing.

Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire Jennifer, Lady Gretton JP will be presiding on the last day as Chief Guest.

Dipak Kumar Fakey, OBE
Director, ISSE

Youth Wing - International Youth Festival 2016: Pre-registration survey

Dear Youth Brothers & Sisters,

Please see the below message from our Zonal Youth representatives on the International Youth Council. This is regarding a pre-registration survey for the International Youth Festival 2016 in Prashanthi Nilayam.

Whether attending, unsure at this stage, or not attending; UK Youth input and suggestions to the theme, content, topics etc. is essential to serve Sai Youth globally, therefore ALL YOUTH in the UK are humbly requested to take this survey.

Please note the following:

  1. You will need to select Zone 9A for Zone
  2. UK for country
  3. Then your Region followed by your centre
  4. The survey will need to be completed by 30th April 2014 on the link below and will take approx. 10 minutes

Survey link: http://www.tinyurl.com/surveyfestival

If you have any questions or experience any issues in completing the survey, please contact myself or Deviesh Tankaria on the details provided.

This is a fantastic opportunity for UK Youth to lovingly unite with our Sai brothers and sisters all over the World for this Global Youth event in 2016!

With Love,

Shyam Jamnadas
National Youth Coordinator, SSSSOUK
youthwing@srisathyasai.org.uk

Dearest Sai Youth,

Loving Sai Ram to you.

With Bhagawan's grace we are excited to share with you the INTERNATIONAL SAI YOUTH FESTIVAL 2016 PRE-REGISTRATION SURVEY.

Please can ALL youth kindly complete the survey by clicking on the link below: Your inputs are vital and will be considered carefully and thoroughly as we all plan for the festival. We promise you, it is going to be a truly magical and divine experience!

The survey is open to all youth and not just those who are planning on attending.

Survey link: http://www.tinyurl.com/surveyfestival

The survey should not take more than 10 minutes. Please ensure it is completed no later than 30th April 2014.
Please contact your National Youth Coordinators for further details or feel free to contact us.

We look forward to receiving your responses soon.

On behalf of the International Sai Youth Festival Planning Team, Jai Sai Ram.

With Love,

Sharvanie Sooriah (South Africa) & Deviesh Tankaria (UK)
International Sai Youth Council - Zone 9A Youth Coordinators

Sharvanie Sooriah - sharvanie@gmail.com
Deviesh Tankaria - deviesh_tankaria@hotmail.com

Region 1 - Young Adults Programme

With 2014 Young Adults Programme [YAP] focused on 9 Point Code of Conduct; March’s session in Region 1 was hosted by Lewisham Sai Centre on topic of ‘Ceiling on Desires’.

YAP offers the opportunity for Sai Youth to express their views and share their experiences on spiritual topics such as implementing the nine point code of conduct in our daily lives. Ceiling on desires was an excellent topic for all of the youth to get involved in, sharing our thoughts and experiences on how we can try to ‘ceil on our desires’ and discuss the forms in which desires are most prominent in our lives and how money/time/energy savings (by putting a ceiling on them) can be used to do something good for someone.

The evening began with an open question to the group as to anything they had done during that day that they could have lived without doing, or not have easily done. This opened up the forum to start thinking about the daily tasks and activities we may pursue in everyday life that may not be essential to us, or can be deemed a ‘desire’ that we could avoid. It was interesting to see the different perspectives with a range of answers revealed, and a pattern was emerging as to different categories under which we can control and decipher the true meaning of ceiling of desires and putting this into practice. This allowed us to continue into the main activity of the evening, which was separating into small groups to discuss a given topic on the subject at hand. The youth divided into four categories; Time, Food, Energy and Money. A quotation from Swami was assigned to each group for discussion where the quotation addressed that particular category.

As the youth regrouped back from these sub-groups, we were able to listen to each other’s discussions through short presentations of each category.

Money was an interesting point as we found most of the Youth could relate to this aspect of life, controlling one’s personal spending and reflecting on the idea of saving and using that saving for a better purpose. Methods of putting money to good use, and not to waste were poignant.

‘Time waste is life waste’ – an emphatic quote as to the importance of time was given to one of the groups, who reflected upon time management skills and the effects of procrastination. With students and professionals making up most of the group, this area could be related to by all and how to effectively evade the risk of wasting time throughout the day and planning ahead as a proposed solution.

The topic of food considered the essence of ceiling on desires, as to various ‘unhealthy’ foods which members of the group discussed are susceptible to being strong desires for money, with troubled consequences. How to manage your food intake, what to eat and what not to eat were key issues in this discussion.

The final group gave a short presentation on Energy, dividing their view of this topic into both ‘spiritual energy’ and ‘physical energy’. Spending too much time talking to others with idle-chat and lack of exercise were points the youth familiarised with, and came up with effective solutions to putting good energy to use, with the practice of meditation and time management skills.

To conclude, we summarised the main points of the evening and ended with another open question as to what the youth had gained from the session and could take away as a ceiling on desire that they could work on and try to improve. It was evident from the successful evening that the discussion was very thought-provoking as to analysing the ways in which we lead our lives faced with countless desires, and the reality of trying to avoid the temptation to dwell on these desires too much.

Varkison Krishnanandharajah
Lewisham Sai Centre, Region 1

Region 3 - SSE Training Day

One could be forgiven, amidst the pageant of activities that line the Sai calendar not to notice the few SSE training events strewn discreetly over the teaching year. On the 22nd of March 2014, a beautiful sunny Saturday morning a group of SSE teachers, parents, office bearers, SSE helpers and aspiring teachers, youth wing and group 4 members came together at Manor Park Centre Region 3, for a deeper insight and understanding of the Basic Teacher training course.

It is these seemingly unassuming and routine of days that perhaps more than all others hold the key to the future of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation and its sacred vision at large. Without the humble and loving dedication of SSE teachers and helpers, the committed parents and the Sai Centre playing the pivotal role, it would be impossible to mould children into the leaders of tomorrow; and without children of integrity and love for God there can be no hope for the future. The training day aimed to refresh and inspire teachers; and to that end it certainly did not fail to deliver.

Mrs Vidyulatha Narayan, the National SSE Coordinator opened the day, setting out the noble aims and purpose of the SSE wing as declared by Bhagawan Himself – transformation of character and inculcation of godly ideals. She touched upon the SAI (Systematic, Appropriate and Integrated) approach. This is used to measure the impact of the learning experience for children attending SSE and the crucial role that all other wings play in supporting and enhancing the work of the SSE wing.

Vidyulatha introduced us to the five teaching techniques, and with Swami’s grace, she came across a beautiful download of the Jyoti meditation guided by Sai Baba himself which we then practiced. This is a tool to enhance our personal sadhana in order for Self- development. It is also the first code of conduct which Swami has laid down for us to practice on a daily basis. We discussed how to introduce this to children, in different age groups, through guided visualisation and Soham techniques to help focus our minds and bring about calmness so as to be able to listen to the voice of our conscience.

The tripartite system where the child, parents and the Bal Vikas Guru are all working together as emphasised by Swami was the focus of a subsequent session led by Uncle Raj Rajasingham, Former Region 1 Chair. As Uncle lucidly pointed out with the precision of a seasoned accountant – Bal Vikas lessons took up an hour or so each week for 36 weeks a year. This amounted over the nine year curriculum to a total of only 16.5 days of teaching time per child; nothing short of a miracle considering the kinds of transformation we have grown accustomed to seeing. Case study scenarios were also used to highlight the importance of effective parental engagement and the need to understand the challenges families faced, particularly those where a parent may not be a Sai devotee.

Attendees were also fortunate to be visited by a professional child psychiatrist Dr Rakendu Suren who is also the National Spiritual Coordinator of the SSSSOUK, who outlined the different stages of a child’s physical, cognitive, mental, emotional and spiritual development, and how these corresponded with the SSE teaching groups and syllabus. Other sessions looked at some of the teaching techniques uniquely espoused by Bhagawan to engage students during lessons and allow them to connect with their inner selves. This included a session on the role bhajan singing can play in developing confidence, devotion and discipline – facilitated in his usual scintillating style by Kapil Dev Prasher, the Region 3 Youth Co-ordinator. Another session on the significance and importance of prayers was conducted by Dr Mahesh Narayan, Region 6 Chair who also befittingly conducted the art of story-telling His infectious zeal, legendary anecdotes and spontaneous quips were woven seamlessly throughout the day to highlight the benefits of each of these techniques as demonstrated by Bhagavan Himself as early on as His childhood days. Kamal Arulvel, SSE Coordinator for Region 3 brought out the creative and fun side to an SSE class by conducting an interactive group activities session. He encouraged teachers to be creative and take (children) activities out to various service projects for their experience to be meaningful and aid in the development of the child’s personality so as to become well rounded and balanced individuals.

In conclusion, Sister Vidyulatha Narayan summarised that alongside the activity of teaching or participating in the various capacities within the SSE programme, the activity of individual sadhana or spiritual effort is very important. The inspiration and success of this noble movement is contained in the name itself, 'Sri Sathya Sai Balvikas'.

If we can only put these three Ss in Sri Sathya Sai into practice in our daily lives, success is sure to come.

  1. S - Silent Sitting
  2. S – Study of Sai literature
  3. S - Self introspection

Let me leave in your heart Swami’s words "pour out all your Love on the children around you and instruct them gladly and sincerely. This attitude alone can justify association with Sathya Sai Balvikas". (Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. X, page 288).

Thanusan Gunabalasingham
SSE Teacher & Vice Chair
Walthamstowe Sai Centre

Raakhe Chohan
SSE Coordinator
Thurrock Sai Centre

Region 3 - Young Adults Programme

9 Point Code of Conduct: Regular attendance at devotional meetings conducted by the organisation

On Sunday 9th March, Thurrock Sai Group hosted the second regional Young Adults Programme [YAP] session of 2014. The study circle ran for an hour following regular bhajans and was facilitated by brother Thanusan from Walthamstow centre. The topic was point 5 of the 9 point code of conduct: regular attendance at devotional meetings conducted by the organisation. This topic was very appropriate as we were holding our monthly group bhajans at the time.

Brother Thanusan opened the discussion with the question: What constitutes the Sai Organisation? We talked about the various structures in place such as the Prasanthi council, the zones, countries and regions in the organisation but ultimately hit upon the centre as the base unit of the Organisation.

We then discussed why we go to centre. To generate ideas we held this part of the discussion in the form of a debate where one side would argue in favour of regular centre attendance whilst the other would argue that it was not necessary (it was indeed a challenge for devotees to hold a conflicting viewpoint however it aided the discussion greatly). We also discussed our own personal motivations of attending centre.

We then discussed what we would like to see more of in our centres and how we can improve it for future generations. This is a very important theme for the youth as we will be driving the centres forward in future years.

To close we were asked to think of a bhajan that has particular meaning for us, and the memories it evokes from our experiences in the centre. Here we got to share warm experiences with some of the devotees in attendance.

The session was very successful and thought provoking.

Jai Sai Ram
Nayan Dave
Youth Cordinator, Thurrock Sai Centre, Region 3

Region 4 - Coventry SSE Celebrating Mother’s Day

Sunday 30th March 2014

Mother's Day was celebrated at a grand scale at SSE on Sunday 30th March. The altar was beautifully decorated by all the Gurus and the young SSE children. Manay set the scene with a warm welcome and paid gratitude to our Mother Sai first, followed by quotes on Mothers read by Kishen and Shyaami. The programme commenced with an enchanting welcome dance dedicated to Mata Saraswati by Amrita.

The Group 1 girls – Menagaa, Neha and Amrita all dressed up in different forms of Goddesses - Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati Mata. They wore bright and colourful costumes and displayed vibrant expressions which were very enjoyable to observe.

Two Group 1 boys - Krishan and Aksh who had researched and compiled their talk on the Goddesses confidently delivered it by reciting it from their hearts.

After that, the SSE children captivated the audience by their smiles and singing sweetly the bhajan - “Jaya Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati”

Group 2 children – Kishen delivered a very informative talk on Ganga Maa. Dhruv researched the topic of ‘Mother Earth’ and shared many interesting facts about the gifts that nature gives us. He mentioned that preserving nature will make an enduring difference in the health of our planet and all of the life on which it depends.

Group 3 children - Aman, Darshan and Rutiksha presented their researched topic on Bhoo Mata, Gau Mata and Veda Mata. This was full of fascinating facts about the different Goddess forms and history.

After the presentations by the children, each child offered their gratitude and thanks to their mothers and grandmothers who were present in the audience and received their blessings. The Nursery children in particular were very amusing and thanked their mums by expressing their love for all the yummy food they cook and reading books and playing with them. This was followed by the Centre members seeking the blessings from the respected elderly ladies of the Centre. It was a very touching and heartfelt exercise. After paying gratitude each child found their mum in the crowd and gave them a beautiful flower, piece of cake, a hug and a kiss. A Youth - Dipesh Patel (former SSE student) also took part in this and expressed his heartfelt message for his mum.

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

The programme concluded with Kishen summarising the celebration and everyone singing the bhajan – “Mother O Mother Sai Maa” followed by all the mums linking arms to perform the melodious Aarti.

All the children were given yummy chocolate cakes baked by the Gurus as a gift from the celebrations.

We thank Swami for guiding us and filling our lives with love and bliss and making this event fruitful for all of us.

Jai Sai Ram
By: Smitha Karunakaran - SSE Parent

Region 4 - Coventry Winter Night Shelter Food Service

March 2014

With Baba’s grace on 17th March 2014, a group of volunteers from the Coventry Sai Centre had the opportunity to serve food to homeless people at the St Paul's church night shelter. The shelter provides food and a bed to sleep on for homeless people residing in Coventry. Baba says "Service to Man is Service to God".

The Coventry Winter Night Shelter project was set up in January 2014, so that homeless people have a safe place to sleep, keep warm and have something to eat. During the week different churches within the city of Coventry are used as temporary night shelters on a rotary system. It is important to note that temperatures during the Winter months in the UK can be below freezing. This is further compounded by unsettled climate conditions which make living on the streets unimaginable in terms of difficulty. Added to that scene is likely starvation, a fear for safety and the thought of what the next day brings for a homeless person. Only those who have faced such hardships can fully understand.

Baba says "You should use your power of determination to do good to others and not to harm or cause suffering to anyone" (Extract from Bhagavan's Discourse 27th June 1996).

To help the St Paul's church night shelter with their work in feeding homeless people on the 17th of March, a devotee had prepared food. The vegetarian food was prepared at their home with fresh ingredients and spices. The food was delivered at 8pm and was ready to serve. In total four volunteers from the Coventry Sai Centre helped to serve food to 18 homeless people and the regular night shelter volunteers. The main meal served was a tasty dahl curry with rice including vegetables. The meal was accompanied with cheese and pickle sandwiches and a yogurt packet and chocolate sweets for desert. Everyone who received food were extremely grateful of the food they had received. As there was extra food available many took the opportunity for more, in what was a sumptuous meal.

There were many occasions for Coventry Sai Centre volunteers to contemplate during this service. For instance there was a homeless person who tended to his homeless friend who had an injured leg first with food, before taking and eating his own food. The sight of 18 beds aligned in the main hall ready for homeless people to sleep on during the night. It was nice to see the social company between homeless people and the interaction of volunteers.

As the Coventry Sai Centre volunteers left for their own homes many of the homeless people with happiness and gratitude came outside of the hall area to hug and shake hands with volunteers.

It is important to thank the Multi-Faith organisers of this project, the Coventry City Council and the regular shelter volunteers for their time and effort throughout the night. The project runs only during the winter months. The following morning homeless people were given a breakfast meal before they departed.

This is an extract on service taken from Bhagavan's Discourse given at the First All India Conference of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, Madras (Chennai), 21/04/1967.

"Service to others is the medicine one needs to alleviate the distress which fills one at the sight of distress in another being. Feel that you are serving yourself, that you are curbing your own ego. Otherwise, service heightens your self-esteem and develops a sense of superiority, which are both harmful spiritually".

by Coventry Sai Youth and Centre

Region 4 - Mahashivarathri

Maha-Shivratri was celebrated with great enthusiasm and love on the 28th of February , at Abbey Primary School in Leicester. The program started at 7 o’clock on the Friday evening and continued until 6 on Saturday morning , however the preparation had started many weeks prior to this event.

The altar had a beautiful statue of Lord Shiva sitting on a snowy mountain , blessing all the devotees in the hall. The atmosphere and the sparkling lights transported the devotees to mount Kailash.

The program began with the Sarva Dharma prayers followed by an hour of beautiful bhajans. Just like the sound of Shivji’s damaru echoing through the universe, the bhajans echoed through the hall filling every heart present with peace and bliss! Many of the bhajans described the benevolent Bholenaath with his trishul damaru,chandra and his forgiving nature and many of them focused on Shiva as the Lord of Dance, Natraaj.

We were all transported to the Sai Kulwant Hall in Prashanti as the Lingashtakam, Shivashtakam, Bilvashtakam and Sai Shiva Stotram were sung. This dedicated group of singers had been practising for weeks and their singing flowed like the Ganga from the matted locks of the Nataraja.

Next the audience was enthralled by a dance and a play performed by a group of extremely talented SSE children. The dance performance was carried out by five young girls, four of whom were devotees of Lord Shiva and the fifth was Neelkanth himself.

This group of dancers have been trained by a professional dance teacher and this was apparent in their skilful, elegant and poised movements. This was followed by a wonderful play on Markandey, a great devotee of Lord Shiva. The story goes- once, there were a couple named, Mrikandu and his wife Marudvati, who were devotees of Lord Shiva and had no children. They prayed to Lord Shiva, who was pleased with them and offered them a choice of having one son who would be well educated, religious, respectful and would serve the Lord alongside his parents but would only live to his sixteenth birthday. The second choice the couple had was to have one hundred sons who would be the opposite, but they would live long lives. The couple had chosen to sacrifice their future happiness by choosing the one son who would help them in serving their beloved Bholanath. After sometime Marudvati delivered a baby boy and named him “Markandey” who was extraordinary and God gifted child. When he had completed his 16th year, Yama (Lord of death) came on the earth to take him. At that time Markandey was worshiping Shiva Linga in the temple. When Yama asked him to go with him, he became very afraid and begged Lord Shiva to defend him. Yama threw his rope on the boy and at that instant Lord Shiva appeared from the Shiva Linga. Lord Shiva saved the life of Markandey and on that day, Lord Shiva declared that His devotees will forever be secure from the rope of Yama. From such a short play, we are taught that the power of sincere prayer can even fight off death, so with each breath we take in and out we must utter His name.

After the performance by the children, everybody that was present was given the opportunity to pour milk and water onto Shiv Lingam’s which were placed at the front of the hall. With a dhun of Om Namah Shivay, line by line, brothers and sisters went and poured away their stresses, worries and negativity.

Blessed were the souls who had the amazing opportunity to carry out Shiv Puja on Maha Shivratri night itself. A Sai brother led the puja, through explanations, musical interludes, experiences as well as a powerpoint presentation which showed step by step how to carry out the practical aspects.

This puja and the bhajans that followed continued the divine vibrations well into the early hours. Finally with Suprabhaatam , 21 Omkaar’s and the chirping of the birds and the rising of the sun indicated the dawn of a new day and the end of the Shivratri program.

Overall the Shivratri celebrations were a great success and devotees went home with divine vibrations, inspiration and love in their hearts!

Region 4 - Mahashivarathri: The Great Night of the Worship of Lord Shiva

On this beautiful auspicious night of Maha Shivratri we were very privileged to have the opportunity to hold a program that was conducted all night commencing on the 28th February 2014 from 7:30 in the evening until 6am the next morning, at Abbey Primary School in Leicester. One felt the surge of warmth as their eyes prostrated in front of their Sai Shankar - their kailash ke nivasi , sat majestically on an altar which perfectly depicted the auspiciousness of the night.

The day commenced with prayers and all were greeted by Sanjaybhai Samani who in his Welcome speech emphasised on the auspiciousness of Maha Shivratri and the opportunity to create a bond with Bhagwan. Immediately afterwards, a beautiful session of bhajans began and included the Lingaashtakam and other Ashtakams that were sung during the Abeishekam to which the devotees could participate.

The next item was by our wonderful SSE Children who produced a beautiful Shiva Dance which narrated the story of The Life Lord Shiva.

The first half of the program ended at midnight as the hall had to be set up for the Maha Shiv Puja. Around 50 families participated in the Lingam Puja conducted by Chiragbhai Vithlani.

It is believed that anyone who utters the name of Lord Shiva during Shivratri with pure devotion is freed from all sins. He or she reaches the abode of Shiva and attains Moksha. This puja concluded at 3 in the morning uplifting everyone with divine vibrations. The evening was then continued with beautiful bhajans sung by all the devotees.

The programme drew near to its conclusion in at 05:00 with an atmosphere of Prashanti Nilayam leading into Suprabhabhatam followed by Bhajans and ending with Arti and Vibhuti Mantra.

I feel that we should cherish this spirit of devotion, love and bliss in our daily lives.

It is now our duty to make our lives His Message.

We pray to Swami to grant us more opportunities like this to help us with self-transformation.

Jai Sai Ram
Palvi Tanna

Region 4 - Mothers’ Day and Ugadi Celebrations at the Leicester Central Sai Centre

We, devotees paid a heart-felt homage to our mothers, grandmothers and above all, to our Dearest Universal Mother Sai through myriad activities at the Leicester Central Sai Centre on the 30th March 2014. It was inspirational to see young children and young adults from the SSE wing to express Swami’s dictum, “Matru Devo Bhava!” in action. The loving experiences of mothers and grandmothers in relation to their children brought tears to many devotees’ eyes.

The main programme started after the bhajans and was almost completely led by SSE students of different ages from very young age to the Group 4. The comparing was very ably carried by the SSE young boys. The programme opened with poems written by some of very young and older SSE students, to express their deeply felt love and gratitude towards their mothers and grandmothers, such as,

The mothers, grandmothers, SSE gurus, aunties and uncles present in the audience were moved and thrilled by the manifold talents of our young devotees, the future leaders of the world according to our Beloved Baba.

The next item to follow had showcased young musicians from the SSE who played instruments such as violin, keyboard, tabla, flute and the harmonium. Naturally, what bound them with the common theme was their pure love to our Mother Sai and this they did it through musical, instrumental renditions which culminated in the famous Mother O Mother Sai Maa English bhajan which they all played together in an orchestral style.

Another very interesting and enlightening item this year featured talks given by mothers and grandmothers about their experiences of being mothers and grandmothers. This item was organised by the Ladies’ Wing at the centre and incorporated devotees who shared their experiences in English and Gujarati, the latter, a language spoken by many of the devotees at this centre. This was particularly effective as it included those devotees who mainly communicated in that language. One mum narrated her wonderful experience of how Swami came to her miraculously to heal her young daughter of her illness under very trying circumstances. Another grandmother, reminded us of the need to serve all with love and without any distinction of caste, creed or any other limiting criteria.

The day’s celebrations added variety with interesting description of the Ugadi festival presented by the SSE parent who explained the spiritual significance of the festival with colourful examples! Then some SSE children presented a small Kuchipudi dance and presented a power point about the Tamil New Year, Puthandu. Another SSE parent also prepared the pongal sweet dish made on the occasion of Puthandu and shared it with the devotees at the centre. In the end, there was a beautiful surprise for the mothers of SSE children. The names of the mothers were called out and their children offered them gifts of love and thankfulness! What a moving ceremony that was!

From the Mothers’ Day celebrations, we are all reminded of selfless love. Dear brothers and sisters, why is it so important to cultivate such love for all? What has Swami advocated to us in this matter?

“You do not need any special type of penance or meditation. Meditate on love. Fill your mind with love. Even while attending to your daily chores, regard all of them as offerings to the Divine. God is omnipresent. See God in everything and every being. Let love grow in your hearts like the waxing moon. Divine love will not wane like the moon. Let such steadfast love be enshrined in your heart. As Thukaaraam said: Dhil me Raam, haath me kaam (Raam in the heart and work in the hand).” (taken from the Discourse on 23-11-1996 in Sai Kulwant Mandap)

Let us, from now on, intensify our love in action for all through good thoughts, kind words and selfless actions. Always!

Jai Sai Ram.

Region 4 - Sathya Sai Regional Orientation Day

16th March 2014

On Sunday 16th March 2014, 65 office bearers and active workers from Region 4 joined the devotees of Leicester Sai Centre who hosted the Orientation Day at the Soar Valley College, Leicester. They were joined and supported in their deliberations by Brother Veeru Rao, Vice Chair, UKCC.

Following a welcome address by Narendrabhai Mistry, Regional Chair, the programme commenced with a review of 2013 – ‘Year of Harmony’ presented by Brother Ketan Gokani, including a feedback on the valuable contribution made by the region towards the Flood Relief UK programme. The next stage in this ongoing programme was for service volunteers to go and help with the clean up of properties and areas affected by the recent flooding.

Next with an introduction and a few inspiring words of encouragement from Brother Veeru,
kicked of the conference reminding each of us the key role we play in this divine organisation and the importance of oneness with God and the bliss feeling it creates. All of the activities that we engage in are opportunities for our spiritual growth and how only this organisation has the charter provided by the Lord himself. How lucky for those who have had the glimpse of this opportunity to serve. We often have to remind ourselves the purpose of our role and understand how we put into practice the commandments given to us directly by GOD in human form. We need to be mindful of our conduct not only in the organisation but to every being we come in contact with knowing the divinity that exists in all. We all strive for happiness but we fail to understand that happiness is within us and not outside. Satsungs are a great place to charge our batteries and reaffirm our understanding and the message to all of us now is “My Life is your message”.

The participants were then divided into three workshop groups to discuss the theme – ‘One with Sai: His Words’, the main topics of the workshop were:

  1. Transforming our lives into His Message
  2. Transformation through His Organisation

We began with a power-point presentation discussing important quotations from Swami relating to His incarnation, aims and mission in this world. Swami stressed that mental and spiritual transformation was very essential rather than attaching importance only to the external world. How do we transform our lives into His Message? This was discussed after watching a video of Swami’s Darshan and noting the holy and uplifting feelings being generated within us. The key message was that we must take Swami’s words and put them into practise in our daily lives.

The unique qualities and activities of the Sai Organisation were next outlined as noted below, to show how we could transform through His Organisation.

  1. Jyothi Meditation
  2. Service – Love in Action
  3. Spiritually Integrated Education (SSE, Youth)
  4. Bhajan Singing (GDS)
  5. Human Values
  6. Interfaith Spirit
  7. Nine Point Code of Conduct

The key message was that we must fix our attention on God only. Focus on God, do selfless service and be happy. Further discussions took place on practical issues encountered with practicing Ceiling on Desires, Interfaith Programme, Practical Human Values and Service. Brother Veeru concluded by reminding us of the importance of the need for steadfast faith and commitment. The workshop closed with three AUMS.
After a wonderful lunch and short bhajan, we listened to a youth presentation by a Sai sister entitled ‘Commit to Sai’, in which she described how with complete faith and surrender to Swami, she was guided by Bhagwan in her study and choice of life changing career.

Next followed the Wing feedbacks for SSE, Spiritual, Service and Youth.

SSE: Sister Pravinaben began by telling us of the various practical difficulties that the SSE wings face and how important it was for all our centre members to support SSE / Balvikas classes and how (as Officer Bearers) we should have a strong faith in Swami in order to carry out our task efficiently and with commitment. She also urged everyone to raise awareness of Teacher training in their centres to encourage devotees to become part of the SSE team within the centre. It is planned to have a training day in the region sometime this year. Also coming up is the National Easwaramma Day on 3rd May to be held in Hatfield.

Spiritual: Sister Jenny spoke about the success of the ‘Sai Smaran Bhajans’ which had been held around the regions throughout the year (the next one is 31st May in Tooting) and bhajan workshops to help us all improve our singing skills. There is also the English devotional songs project where lead singers and instrumentalists can be involved in recording English songs for upload to the UK website so that all devotees can download and have access to songs and lyrics as a learning tool. The aim is to enhance the bhajan programmes in the centres and groups and follow Swami's teachings on oneness of all faiths.

Interfaith activities for example encouraging centres/groups to organise their own chanting days and interfaith walks would also create a bridge into the community and help devotees learn about other faiths on the path to unity and brotherhood of man. Under the title of study circles there will be a workshop where prospective facilitators can gain skills, and ideas that can be taken back to the centres to then be passed on to those devotees who wish to facilitate study circles in their centres.

Sai literature reading are an ongoing project and region 4 had already began recording SSS vol4 to create a CD that can then be played at home or in the car and work as an alternative tool in the learning process. In a few months we will also receive 52 readings (1 for each week of the year) taken from Swami's discourses that can be encouraged to read in the centres after bhajans. Finally a meditation workshop will be held that will be based on the technique that our beloved Swami so succinctly instructs. There are lots of opportunities that are in front of us it’s for us to take the first step!

Service: Brother Rohit highlighted the activities undertaken in 2013 and looking forward to the New Year informed the gathering of the forthcoming activities:

Hazelborough Forest Environmental Project – 22nd June 2014
Monthly Return - (replacing the quarterly report for the Service Wing)
Rudra Homam Celebration at Balaji Temple – July 2014
National Service Conference – October 2014
National Birthday Celebrations (Leicester) – 23rd November 2014

Youth: Brother Ketan presented the feedback on behalf of the youth describing the successful National Youth Conference held in February 2013, the pilgrimage to Prashanthi in July and the Serve the Planet project in October last year.

Finally, Brother Kishor Mistry from Coventry reflected on the days’ programme with a summary of the main events and thanked everyone for their attendance and participation in the activities of the day.

The programme concluded with a short bhajan session, followed by Arathi thus bringing an end to an inspiring and uplifting day. We all felt we took something special away with us to work on in the coming year.

Jai Sai Ram
Ramubhai Rathod, Kishor Mistry, Jenni Robson

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