August 2012 Edition

Quote

Man's life finds fulfilment only when his mind experiences the principle of unity. There is no point in bringing about unity among people without uniting their minds. Manah eva manushyanam karanam bandhamokshayo (mind is the cause for bondage and liberation of man). You see someone and say he is a bad person; you see another person and call him good. But, in reality, good and bad are present in your mind and not in the people around you. You call this handkerchief white and this microphone black. The difference in colour is perceived by your eyes, but essentially black and white are one and the same. Everyone should make efforts to visualise unity in diversity. Only then can one experience divinity.

~ Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Events

UK Satsangs with Prof. Anil Kumar

Sri Sathya Sai Ideal Healthcare Seminar

Articles

Divine Light

Professor Anil Kumar

Region 1 - Ganesh Chariot Festival

Region 1 - Packing equipment for Sierra Leone Medical Camp

Region 2 - Guru Poornima Celebrations

Region 2 - Harrow West Sai Centre Celebrates Guru Poornima

Region 2 - SSE End of Year Graduation Celebrations at Pinner Sai Centre

Region 2 - YAP: "Holy Hearts, Helping Hands"

Region 3 - August 2012 Update

Region 4 - Global Service Day at Snibston Discovery Park

Region 4 - Olympic Values - Children of Sathya Sai EHV Good Values Club, Leicester

Region 4 - Rugby & Coventry’s Global Service Day

Region 4- Sathya Sai Baba Centre of Narborough Road, Leicester – Global Service Day

Region 5 & 8 - Retreat: LET GO…. LET GOD

Region 5 - Guru-Poornima Celebrations

Region 6 - Study Day at Park Barn Centre in Guildford

Region 7 - Guru Poornima in Cardiff

Region 7 - Music Team Workshop

Service Wing - Sai Ideal Healthcare in UK

Spiritual Wing - Ramadan… a time for detachment and self-regulation

Youth Wing - Sathya Sai Leadership Training Programme: August

Editorial

Om Sri Sairam
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Whilst July has swept by with the excitement of the Olympics and our Muslim brothers and sisters fasting for Ramadan, we are set for a spiritually uplifting August starting with Sri Krishna Janmashtami, followed by the National Sai Retreat and Satsangs all over the UK with none other than Professor Anil Kumar.

The holy month of Ramadan continues till the 19th August, culminating with Eid and we have an insider’s perspective on the month of fasting the body and the mind for spiritual upliftment and self-control.

Excitement is building for our National Retreat which is taking place in the picturesque surroundings of Llandudno. The opportunity to spend a spiritually charged weekend in the company of Professor Anil Kumar is one not to be missed. With nearly 40 years of direct experience with Bhagawan Himself, it is guaranteed to be an enthralling weekend filled with unmissable memories of our Majestic Avathaar.

Swami says that "Hazrath Mohammad proclaimed the different stages as I am in the Light; I am the Light; The Light is in me; The Light is me." He goes on to say that “He who is aware of this Is Brahman himself And Brahman is he.” This beautifully fits in with our theme for the Retreat which is “Divine Light”. Swami says that the "Divine Light is the light that illumines and sustains the three worlds, pervading everything in Creation. It gives you the enlightenment That Brahman you are, and Brahman is in you, You and the Brahman are not different." What a beautiful plan He has sketched for us for the retreat this month. There are a few places available for devotees to attend as Day Delegates in the retreat. So if you haven’t registered yet, then please do it urgently by logging into http://www.srisathyasai.org.uk.

Our Pilgrimage to Prasanthi in October this year (7th -12th, 13th -27th) follows on with the same theme of "Sai Jyothi". It gives us another golden opportunity to bask in the Divine Light of our beloved Swami who continues to shower us with His love every day. Please visit the website http://www.srisathyasai.org.uk/national-programmes/nationalpilgrimage2012/ for more information.

Finally, the journey of Prof Anil Kumar will continue after the retreat with Satsangs taking place around the country. Everyone is invited to these events taking place in Manchester, Leicester, Bristol and London. To confirm your place please register at http://www.srisathyasai.org.uk/national-programmes/

We hope you enjoy this month’s articles from around the country, and we look forward to seeing many of you at the retreat.

Srikailash Venkitadri,
Region 5 Chair


Divine Light

God is Light. In Christianity, in Islam, in Hinduism, in Buddhism and in many other Religions, God is spoken of as Light and all of them have prescribed meditation on Light. Our dear Lord Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba has explained that the Divine Light embodied as Brahman reveals and shines in all of us. He constantly reminds us that we are ourselves that Infinite Divine Light: Not the ‘water-bubble’ body, not the ‘mad monkey’ mind, but the eternally pure and free Spirit, the Divine Light.

What keeps us from experiencing this Divine Light is only our restless mind that hankers after sense objects ceaselessly. When the mind has become pure, when spiritual virtues and human values have grown with in us, when we have attained to a high degree of discrimination (Viveka) and dispassion (Vairagya), then we are told, we gain this knowledge and experience of our true selves. Then, we are enlightened! Only then, we are liberated or free!

Thus Purity is the pre-requisite for this experience of Divinity, and Purity is achieved through Unity or harmony in thought, word and deed. The practice and development of human values- Sathya, Dharma, Shanti, Prema, Ahimsa- along the paths of Bhakti, Karma and Jnana will lead each one of us nearer and nearer to the experience of this Divine Light.

In the UK Sai family, it is not a mere coincidence that we are celebrating the year as the Year of Illumination. This is the year too when the Olympic Torch representing the hopes and aspirations of human spirit around the world came to various parts of UK; when we are having the National Sai Retreat ‘Divine Light’; and the National Pilgrimage ‘Sai Jyothi’. Ramadan and Krishna Janmashtami, which also signify Divine Light, are being celebrated in the same month as our Retreat.

Let us all take advantage of this ‘Cosmic Coincidence’ as one large Sai family residing in various Centres and Regions of UK, and resolve to discover this Light with in us. When we have found that Light, and that Light is thrown upon those around us, then we will experience everything as light divine. And when one has seen everything as living light, Divine Light- that indeed is True Illumination.

Dr. Veeru Mudigonda
National Spiritual Coordinator

Divine “Light” and Divine “Feet”
(Jyothish charana-abhidhaanaath)
Sutra Vahini, Aphorism 10; Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

The word light (jyothi) in the Upanishads does not connote the physical light of the material world. When material limits or qualifications like feet (charana) are specified, how can the immanent, all-pervasive entity be indicated? Such a limited or qualified phenomenon cannot become the object of adoration and meditation. When the word light is understood to mean the light having certain natural characteristics, it cannot signify Brahman, the Universal Absolute.

Divine light shines everywhere

The hymn in praise of the cosmic Person (Purusha Suktha) declares: The entire cosmos, with all its component elements, is but one quarter of His glory. Paadosya vishwa bhuthaani.
Therefore, the cosmic Person is beyond bounds, measures, or degrees. The divine light (jyothi) illumines Heaven and beyond and reveals even Brahman. That which makes known by its splendour the era preceding the origin of living beings and the regions beyond even the farthest and the highest, “That” is indicated by the word Jyothi. It shines in that supremest among supreme regions.

Note also that the same divine light (jyothi) shines everywhere, at all times, and in all beings. It comprises existence (asthi or sat), illumination-knowledge (bhathi or chit), and joy-bliss (priya or ananda). All things seen in the universe have the unseen as their base. All things that move have the unmoving as their base. So, too, for every living being, why, for the very cosmos itself, the invisible Brahman, the Supra-Truth, is the basis. It is this Parabrah-man, the Omni-Self, that causes the cosmos to shine. “Divine light (jyothi)” is appropriate only for this light and not the limited, inferior, physical light. Divine light has neither beginning nor end. It is the supreme Light (Param-jyothi), the light without a second (Adwaitha jyothi), the eternal, unbroken Light (Akhanda-jyothi). In other words, it is the supreme Brahman Itself, for all this is revealed only in and through It.

Unlimited divine light versus worldly light

The divine light referred to above cannot be interpreted otherwise. The Upanishads do speak of Brahman as having “feet”, but that does not restrict or reduce Its vastness in any way. “Divine light (jyothi)”, therefore, conveys “Brahman” as its meaning. When Brahman is imagined as having four “feet”, or quarters, all that is projected from Brahman comprises but one quarter. The Upanishads assert that the other three are “undying, undiminishable, changeless (a-mritham)” in “heaven (divi)”. A point to be remembered is that such immortal (amritha)
light cannot be equated with the common light we deal with. The Upanishadic light (jyothi) is said to “illumine (deepyathi)”. How can this process be limited and tied down to the effect of ordinary worldly light? Divine light is embodied in Brahman; it operates in and through Brahman only. Brahman is immanent in all, so divine light reveals and shines in all.

Divine light is total illumination

The base, the root, the cover of the ever-vibrating, ever-moving cosmos is Brahman, the stable, the fixed, the im-movable, the ever-steady divine light. When Brahman also starts to vibrate, change, and move, total mergence, submergence (pralaya), happens. For example, when the train moves, if the rails on which it moves also move along, what about the fate of the passengers? When we walk, the road is stationary, so we are able to proceed safely along. The light that shines individually is called the flame in the lamp; the light that illumines and reveals all is called divine light (jyothi). Divine light brings to light the fire that pervades the regions, that warms the body and sides in the stomach, the gleam in the eye. The moon is lit by the sun and thereby made bright. All these activities are prompted and promoted by Brahman, which is divine light itself. Divine light is the principle, the phenomenon of illumination in all its aspects.

Professor Anil Kumar

Professor Anil Kumar Kamaraju from Prasanthi Nilayam hardly needs any introduction to the large Sai family across the world! Over 25 years or so, our dear Lord Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, bestowed upon him the unique opportunity to render live translations of His Divine Discourses in Telugu into English. And this sacred but difficult duty, Professor Anil Kumar performed with great devotion, humility, enthusiasm, concentration and clarity; and for this great service, many devotees remain indebted to him!

Hailing from the fertile delta region of the State of Andhra Pradesh, Professor Anil Kumar was educated in the famous Andhra University and worked as a Professor of Botany in Andhra Christian College in Guntur. He belongs to a very scholarly family who were staunch followers of Brahmo Samaj, a progressive thinking reformist movement in India and known for its worship of the Brahman as the Formless. However in early 1970s, Bhagawan Baba entered his life through the faith and devotion of his wife, Srimati Vijaya Lakshmi. After some initial hesitation and scepticism, Professor Anil Kumar soon found convergence of his Brahmo Samaj ideas with those of Bhagawan’s teachings: Only, Bhagawan’s explanations were clearer, fresher, interesting, inspiring, gave great joy and solace.

He never looked back after this, and with his trademark enthusiasm and in his inimitable style plunged into the Divine Sai Mission. He studied and digested Bhagawan’s Discourses with great dedication, and toured various parts of the State to interact with fellow devotees and spread the Divine Sai Message. Bhagawan’s Grace flowed unto him incessantly in his selfless efforts to serve the Lord and His devotees, most times at the cost of all personal conveniences and comforts that he sacrificed happily and uncomplainingly. Since late 70s, he was blessed to be regularly invited by Bhagawan to speak in His Divine Presence at Prasanthi Nilayam; he was appointed to many responsible positions in the State Sathya Sai Organisation, including as the State President in 1985. And eventually, Bhagawan appointed him as the Principal of His favourite Brindavan College in Whitefield in 1988, and later as Professor at Prasanthi Nilayam, thus giving him the unique opportunity to live and serve in the direct, immediate, Divine Presence of the Poorna Avathar for 22 most cherished years. During these years, he has endeared himself to students, staff, devotees and others, and above all to our derarest Lord Sai!

Professor Anil Kumar’s relationship with Swami was very unique, and a great treat to those of us who watched it. He was no doubt an ardent devotee who was constantly aware of Bhagawan’s Omnipresence, Omnipotence and Omniscience. Yet he was also aware that the Avathar assumes human form and chooses to ‘feign’ ignorance occasionally ONLY for the sake of devotees, allowing them to gain opportunities to be near Him, enjoy His Sambhashan and engage in conversation with the Divine. If He always ‘appeared’ to be the all-knowing one, there would be no conversations taking place as He already knew what the devotee was going to say!

No one understood this aspect of the Avathar better than Prof. Anil Kumar and he utilised every opportunity to ‘engage’ Swami in many such beautiful conversations. Such conversations also ‘kept’ Swami longer amidst devotees and students, thus allowing longer Darshans and other opportunities for Divine Interactions such as Padanamaskaar, Autographs, Vibhuti, and so on for many others around.

Swami would ask him on a daily basis almost, during the famous ‘Verandah Sessions’ in the Mandir in Prasanthi Nilayam or during the ‘Trayee Sessions’ in Brindavan, “Yemi Samacharam” (what news?). And Prof. Anil Kumar would narrate either some mundane worldly events, or miracles of Swami that he had recently come across, or the grandeur of the programmes in Prasanthi Nilayam, or describe some of the mythological stories that he had read, and so on. In turn, he would receive divine insights and explanations into what should be done, why certain events take place and the real significance of various mythological incidents. Such conversations benefitted not only those in the vicinity of this dialogue, but many others too, for which posterity will always thank him.

Once the staff quarters in Prasanthi Nilayam were being refurbished, and during the evening Verandah session after Darshan, Professor said to Bhagawan, “ Swami, the Staff Quarters are glittering”. Swami acknowledged it briefly, and Professor continued “ Swami, staff quarters are being painted, cleaned and repaired. Very nice, Swami. They are even changing old taps’. Bhagawan then remarked, “ Inside also, it should be clean!”. On another occasion, the students had performed Laksharchana in the hostel that morning, and Swami was enquiring about this with the Warden. Professor Anil Kumar who was present nearby, produced from his pocket the photograph that was given to the students for Laksharchana, and handed it to Bhagawan saying, “ They gave this photo also”. Swami looked at the photograph and turned it over where on its reverse was printed a picture of Mother Easwaramma. After observing it for a while He said, “This is an old photo. In this photo, she is not looking very old”. Yet another time, Swami and he were discussing the various concepts of Dvaitha (Dualistic) philosophy and Professor Anil Kumar asked Swami to clarify the meaning of Moksha. Swami replied, “In my opinion, Moksha is Moha Kshyam (removing of desires)”. Professor Anil Kumar was in rapturous delight with this definition and said, “Ah! Classical definition, Swami”. Swami pointed out, “ Not classical!”. Instantly he corrected himself and said, “Classic definition, Swami”. Swami just smiled in reply. Such was the informal and loving relationship that Prof. Anil Kumar enjoyed with our dear Swami.

Another unique aspect of this relationship was his ability to make the Divine Lord laugh with him! Swami enjoyed his sense of humour and Himself participated in the mirth at times. Times at which the entire Verandah would burst in peals of laughter! Pointing to a student of very lanky build once, Swami said “ When will he become fat?” Professor replied humorously, “ When I become thin, he will become fat Swami”! And everyone including Swami laughed at this funny remark. Another time, when Swami enquired how he liked His discourse, Professor said that the discourse was beautiful and Swami dispelled all his doubts. Bhagawan mischievously said that Prof. Anil Kumar was full of doubts that would never get clarified. In his own inimitable style Prof. Anil Kumar lamented, “Swami, what then is my gathi (fate), what is my destiny, what is my fate? If I'm full of doubts that cannot be clarified, what am I to do?”, and Swami answered, “You surrender to Me. Sharanagathi, that is your gathi. That is your destiny.” On a different occasion, he pleaded with Swami to tell him the secret of living without worry as he humorously described the plight of people thus: “Swami, you say that I should not worry. However, how can I not worry? How? We are all married people. We have children and a wife. She is the source of worry to me; I am the source of worry to her; and the children are the source of worry to both of us.” Swami laughed and said that whatever is bound to happen will happen and what is not destined to happen will not happen and we should not worry!

Such conversations were numerous and Professor Anil Kumar became an instrument in Swami’s hands. He entertained the very creator of the universe with wit and humour, whilst all the time he relaying to us His divine message. We are indeed fortunate to have him amidst all of us in the UK between the 17th- 25th of August, travelling across the country and sharing his unique experiences, deep understanding and love of our dear Bhagawan and His teachings.

Gunaranjan Bose
Dr Pawan Tamvada
Saistudents Alumni

To attend the UK Satsangs with Prof. Anil Kumar please register here.

Service Wing - Sai Ideal Healthcare in UK

Inspired by the Divine example and teachings of our Master, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the SSSSO UK has for many years been involved in offering service in the field of Healthcare, both domestically and abroad. Our awareness of this work was raised following the Sai ideal Healthcare Conference conducted by the Organisation at the University of Reading in September 2011. To ensure that this good work continued to expand, whilst maintaining the high standards of Sai Ideal Health Care, it was deemed pivotal that a facilitative body comprising of various healthcare professionals should be constituted to help, support, guide and streamline activities for the future.

By Bhagawan’s Grace, the Sathya Sai Healthcare National Co-ordinating Committee UK was formed under the auspices of the National Service Wing of the UK Central Council. This committee has been working diligently towards providing this structure, making it possible for more health professionals from all fields as well as non-medical volunteers to derive joy through serving our fellow brothers and sisters. The committee has also been in consultation with various professionals, voluntary bodies and local governmental agencies, and is making steady progress in evolving qualitative guidance and support for the various healthcare projects undertaken currently under the sacred banner of SSSSO UK.

With in UK, members of the committee have visited Sathya Sai Health Awareness Days (SSHADs) in various regions. A standard proposal form and a set of guidelines has been produced, providing help, support, and advice on a variety of topics, to all those wishing to organise and run an event in their region. The plan is to encourage these SSHADs with a focus on prevention, a key principle of Sai Ideal Healthcare, while at the same time ensuring that we offer the highest standards of service, befitting the name of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. These forms will soon be made freely available through the National Service Wing to all Regions and Centres, so that these can be used as a resource when planning their events.

A further Healthcare Seminar is being held on Sunday September 16th this year in Hatfield in London to discuss the progress made thus far, and to look at ways to develop and enhance further our current work in UK (including Blood Donation services, Bone Marrow transplant registers, and First Aid training), and at an international level ( including medical camps, hospital rotas, mobile clinics, telemedicine). For further details, please see the enclosed flyer.

Dr. Adam Price, Member SSHNCC UK
Mukund Patel, National Service Coordinator

Spiritual Wing - Ramadan… a time for detachment and self-regulation

It’s that time of year again where Muslims all over the world will fast during the day for the month of Ramadan. However, what is Ramadan and why do we fast? The foundation of Islamic spiritual practice is known as the Five Pillars of Islam. Fasting in Ramadan counts as one of the pillars making it one of the most important practices in Islam.

Fasting is not a new concept. As Muslims, we believe that the very first human alive through to modern day man has fasted, and of those who have, the majority have done so to be closer to Allah or to become more spiritual. Examples of this are not only found in Islam but Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, and many other religions. There are a variety of different reasons why we see Ramadan as such a special month. One, is that we believe it is when our holy book, the holy Quran was revealed to the prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). As it says in the Quran: The month of Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was sent down, a guidance for the people, and clear verses of guidance and criterion (between right and wrong). [Quran: Chapter 2, 185]

Ramadan is also a month of self-regulation and self-training, with the hope that this training will last beyond the end of Ramadan. Muslims will spend their month detaching themselves from the hustle and bustle of the modern day world and try to re-prioritise their life and remember what is important. While a person fasts, he is not only to refrain from eating, drinking and conjugal relations, but also strive to improve his own character by abstaining from bad deeds which have become a habit, such as swearing, smoking, holding grudges, lying (big or small) and many other such deeds. The main point of desisting from food and water and other actions is so that we can learn self-control and apply that to our everyday lives. Most people associate Ramadan with giving up food and water, but that is probably not the most important aspect as the prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said: “Whoever did not give up lying and practicing falsehood, Allah is in no need of his giving up food and water”.
Although Muslims are enjoined by their sacred Religion Islam not to engage in performing bad actions throughout the year, we get caught up, like many others, in our own lives and forget our real purpose. That is why Allah gave us Ramadan as a holy opportunity to be better humans, as the prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said

"When Ramadan comes, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are put in chains."

As a Muslim I see fasting as a month to coach myself to be better both in the spiritual and worldly spheres. Firstly, fasting allows me to sympathise with the millions of people in the world who have little to eat. I refrain from many activities such as lying, getting into fights (even verbal) and swearing and coach myself into being a better human being. Breaking my fast with other members of the community brings us all together. It is said that spending more time in prayer during this holy month is more rewarding, and I find that this gives me a higher motivation to absorb myself in prayer. The giving of charity (zakatul fitr) before the Eid prayer which marks the end of Ramadan reminds me of the importance of sharing with those less fortunate than myself. The objective is to strive to make the feelings and attitudes that we endure during this month, to stay with us during our "normal" lives. That is the true goal and test of Ramadan and at the end of the month, Allah has given us Eid-ul Fitr. A day to spend with family and friends, to share our joys and celebrate what Allah has given to us. If one has never fasted before, we encourage you to try it and take the opportunity to think about transforming yourself and in turn, improve the world we live in.

Dr Adil Ibrahim and Basith Zaveri

Bhagawan’s Ramadan Discourse

Hazrath Muhammad announced the message of God that he had heard to the townsmen of Mecca. At that time, people did not give heed to the Divine Declarations. They forced him to leave the place. But, Hazrath Muhammad. knew that truth will win and God will prevail. He knew that the insult and injury were only for the body; the Atma can never be hurt. The Ramzan month is set apart for the holy task of bringing into memory and practice the teachings that Hazrath Muhammad conveyed and attaining that stage of unity and purity which is truly Divine. Islam gives importance to the Moon which regulates the months. Hindus consider the Moon as the deity presiding over the mind. With the darshan of the New Moon, the Ramzan fast begins and when the New Moon is seen again, the fast ends. 'Fast' does not consist in merely desisting from food and drink. The fast starts at sunrise and is broken' only after sunsets and is observed most rigorously.

During Ramzan month rivalry is avoided

Waking as early as three or four, in the Brahma Muhurtha, prayer is started, and throughout the day, the constant presence of God is sought to be experienced. This is the meaning of Upavaasa (fast). Also, during the Ramzan month, rivalry is avoided, hatred is suspended. husband and wife live apart though in the same home, mother and children both follow the same spiritual regimen and an atmosphere of brotherhood is maintained. The body, the senses and the mind are subject to rigorous discipline. Periods of fast 'comprising a month are prescribed in all religions. The Hindus observe it in Maagha and Shraavana months. Zoroastrians and Christians have allotted for themselves months for the same purpose. The Quran lays down that all men should cultivate the sense of unity, of interdependence, of selfless love and of the immanence of Divinity. Generally, all men take food of some kind or other for the body five times a day: an .early cup of coffee in bed, breakfast two hours later, a heavy lunch at noon, tea at four and a fat dinner at nine. Islam prescribes food for the spiritual nature of man and directs that it be taken five times a day, as prayer. For the arousal of the Atmic consciousness, for earning spiritual joy and for promoting the manifestation of Atmic illumination, prayer is prescribed as many as five times a day, from the dawn of discretion up to the moment of death.

Unity is the basic teaching of every religion

Prayer, in Islam, is also a congregational activity. Prayer in a group produces beneficial vibrations. Islam promises a greater flow of ecstasy when God is adored by a huge concourse of yearning: hearts. All of them bow low at the sight of the Masjid. They sit in rows on their bended knees and lean forward until their palms and foreheads touch the ground in humble submission to God’s Will. Misunderstanding, conflict and enmity should not disturb the serenity of the occasion.

Thus Islam emphasises the One in the Many, the urge for God which manifests in various
degrees in various minds. Unity is the basic teaching of every religion. Faith in Unity is cardinal. Without it, no system of belief and conduct can be a religion. God is One and the teachings in all faiths that exalt Him are all on Love, Compassion, Tolerance and Sympathy. The tragedy is neither the Muhammadans, nor the Hindus, nor the followers of other religions are practising these qualities in daily life.

Islam teaches that God's Grace can be won through justice and righteous living; wealth,
scholarship and power cannot earn It. Holy Love alone can please the Lord. This is the message of every religion. But mankind has ignored this crucial point. Ramzan brings together in bonds of love kith and kin, near and far, friend and foe. This type of negligence is happening in every religion. The followers adopt the rules they like and break those which they find exacting. So, they become narrow-minded and crooked. And, they rationalise their defects and justify their failings. They have become habituated to this practice of self-deceit.

Demonstrate love and tolerance in daily activity

Since Islam means surrender to God, all who in a spirit of surrender and dedication, live in peace and harmony in society, do really speaking, belong to Islam. Islam insists on full co-ordination between thought, word and deed. Muslim holy men and sages have been emphasising that we must inquire into the validity of the 'I' which feels it is the body and the 'I' which feels it is the mind and reach the conclusion that the real 'I' is the Self yearning for the Omniself, God. The Ramzan month, the fast and the prayers are designed to awaken and manifest this realisation. Whichever may be the religion, its emphasis is on unity, harmony, equal-mindedness. Therefore, cultivate love, tolerance and compassion, and demonstrate the Truth in every daily activity. This is the Message I give you with My Blessings.

Discourse on Ramzan, Prashaanthi Nilayam, 12-7-1983

Youth Wing - Sathya Sai Leadership Training Programme: August

Our SSLTP module this month was over 2 days – Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd of July at the Committee Room in Reading. Saturday started beautifully with a big yellow rose falling from Swami’s photo just as we started the day’s proceedings. The weekend was packed with open forum discussions on various aspects and characteristics of Leadership and was led by previous SSLTP graduates who are also committee members. We all feel so fortunate having such a structure in the course as we feel like a big extended family and everyone is looking after each other, whilst serving Swami is the core of the programme.

Saturday started with a description of the leadership wheel by Sima Mistry Patel. She mentioned that the most important factor ‘To Be’ with the sub-values of Character, Adaptability and Flexibility, Feedback, Reflective Practice and Harmony in thoughts, words and deeds. This made me think of Emerson’s saying ‘What you ARE shouts so loud in my ears that I cannot hear what you say’. We went through all the aspects of the leadership wheel – To Do, To See and To Tell.

Afterwards, Mathan Arulvel led a session on Adaptability. To me, the important message from this part was that if I continue to go along the route that I am going, I won’t change myself to be better. We discussed how Adaptability is strength as long as our core values are not compromised. We then watched a video of Steve Jobs. One quote that stood out from what he said was, ‘Sometimes life hits you with a brick but don’t lose faith. Do what you believe is great work’.

After a scrumptious lunch contributed by every candidate, we returned to discuss ‘Thought Leadership’ led by Uncle Sri. As Swami graced us with a beautiful hot sunny weather, we did some of the discussion outside. Everyone’s spirits were high and we were all picking up relevant personal points from the wealth of information that was mentioned. Our 1st day finished beautifully with linking together Swami’s teachings to Thought Leadership.

Sunday started with beautiful prayers and a discussion on Versatility. We all realised the importance of stepping back and getting a bigger picture before making rushed decisions. I thought of Swami’s sayings about silencing the mind to hear the inner voice of God as a way of stepping back. In my eyes, step back was a way of pausing to connect to the God within. We learnt that Leadership starts with yourself and that for Thought Leadership; we need a sustainable long term strategy or direction.

Each SSLTP candidate then came up with a well-planned model of a business that we want to set up. We discussed the proactive analysis of PESTEL and SWOT. We then explored how organisations like our own Sai Organisation goes further with an established Vision, Mission and Values. Our Values and Swami’s teachings form the core of our organisation and faith in The Lord is what should keep all strong united together.

After lunch, we had a session on Time Management by Prashant Mistry, Laavanya Nagendran and Deviesh Tankaria. We discussed how to make the most of the time we have and key points in having an organised and balanced life. One tip that I found helpful is waking up a few minutes early and saving that time for meditation or silent sitting.

I am sure that I speak on behalf of all the 15 candidates when I say that our weekend was very thought provoking and packed with immense positive energy. I feel blessed to have such a heart-warming circle of people who are there helping each other through this course blessed by Swami himself. We all departed in high spirits looking forward to our next outbound weekend in September.

Jai Sai Ram

Pooja Tankaria
SSLTP 2012/13 Candidate

Region 1 - Ganesh Chariot Festival

On 29th August 2012, several thousand devotees commemorated at the Shree Ganapathy temple in Wimbledon to celebrate the annual Ganesh Chariot Festival.

The annual procession went around the block of streets from the temple, with three chariots carrying three deities.

Just before the procession, Sai volunteers gathered in the meditation hall and divided into their respective teams of medics and stewards consisting of youths and adults. All the volunteers were fortunate to be blessed by the priests before commencing their duties.

The festival procession commenced with rituals performed to Lord Ganapathy, Goddesses Ambe and Gayatri. The male devotees placed the magnificently decorated deities on three mini chariots and carried it on their shoulders. They swung backwards and forth as they made their way outside the temple where more worshipers awaited eagerly.

Once the deities were outside, at the temple's entrance, they were all placed on to another three chariots which was grand in size and appearance.

A crowd of male worshipers gathered around a pile of 1008 coconuts placed around a large wooden box filled with water and large rocks. The worshipers swung the coconuts on the rocks before the chariots could be pulled on into the road. Groups of men and women, traditionally dressed, took hold of the ropes on the giant chariots and the procession began.

Women carried bowls of flaming camphor, and other walked with jars on their head. The younger girls danced away clicking their dandiya sticks together while the older girls were singing devotional songs into a loud speaker. Volunteers carefully looked after the men, striped to the waist, rolling over the ground till the end of the procession. It was a fascinating and overwhelming experience for the residents as well as passers-by. Musical bands played continuously throughout the procession. Women who were offering gifts of fruits and flower to Lord Ganapathy on the chariot were blessed by the priests. Despite the rain, everyone still carried on joyously singing hymns and chanting mantras. It was God's loving grace which showered upon all.

As the procession drew to an end, the deities had to be sprinkled with water before they could be taken back inside the temple and be put back to their respective shrine. The priests continued with the rituals, and the day concluded with group devotional singing. It was thoroughly an eventful day. An amazing experience to be cherished forever! The day had been blessed for the management team including doctors, police and stewards who made the festival possible by the grace of our beloved Swami.

Alisha Manandhar, Region 1

Region 1 - Packing equipment for Sierra Leone Medical Camp

Yonibana Sai Hospital. Ever heard of it? Somewhere, a few hours down the Masiaka-Yonibana highway out of Freetown in the sub-Saharan country of Sierra Leone, is a small primary health clinic in the skirting edges of the birth place of Victor Kanu.

Empty most of the year for now, the hospital stands calm and quiet waiting to fulfil its purpose. Three or four times a year the empty corridors of the hospital are filled with a buzz of activity. The place comes alive; full of excitement, love, light, togetherness and divinity as the doors are thrown open and the people of Yonibana and the surrounding area are welcomed in to have their health problems addressed and be immersed in love and attention.

Better Lives Foundation is a UK registered charity, number 1122290, whose objective is to develop a support structure that aims to better Health & Education for people in developing countries. It was set up by Devi Patel and a few others. With the help of Victor Kanu and his brother Jacob, they have also started Yonibana Sai Centre. In 2009 Victor took 8 locals to Prashanti who have now taken up roles and are helping spread Swami’s values. BLF brings people together.... medical specialists, students and general volunteers. It organises and arranges medical camps to Sierra Leone and has also helped train local people in the medical field for the future benefit of the hospital.

Of course, a medical camp whether small or large is something of a logistical endeavour; a great deal of fund-raising, paperwork, packing and phone calls. A lot of work goes into organising containers and luggage that goes out with each camp. That brings us to the sunny weekends of 21st /22nd & 29th July, where a flurry of activity took place to face head-on the monumental task of packing equipment and essentials for the hospital into a shipping container. Many people from different centres and regions came together, especially the youth, fulfilling Swami’s message of service and unity.

The next Medical Camp is planned to take place on 21st Sept to 1st Oct 2012. For more information visit http://www.betterlivesfoundation.org . Having been twice, I would say it is hard work, but fun and very rewarding!

Lovingly
Rupal & Gayatri
Tooting Sai Centre, Reigon 1

Region 2 - Guru Poornima Celebrations

7th July 2012

The Region 2 Guru Poornima celebration was a Divine Experience from start to finish! The Programme was commenced by our Regional Chair; Sister Bhadra Patel, who shared with all the deep spiritual significance of the occasion, then followed by Brother Suresh who shared the meaning of the ‘Laksharchana’. The Laksharchana itself was conducted by our Dearest Uncle Vadgama who has had many close interactions with Swami throughout the years, and has conducted Laksharchanas worldwide as instructed by Baba Himself through our Dearest Doctor Ghadia.

The Region 2 Chair, Sister Bhadra Patel, read Bhagavan Baba’s inspiring and profound words regarding Guru Poornima "Guru means the One who removes darkness and only GOD can remove the darkness within by GOD’s Grace. Guru is the light to show the way but the destination is GOD. One is grateful to the Guru but it is GOD that one worships. Let each one march on at his own rate, only the direction and road has to be Godward."

Brother Suresh then shared the importance of Laksharchana before we commenced. He mentioned that 'Laksh' means 100,000 and’ Archana’ means singing the Glories of the Almighty. He also explained that we should perform this Laksharchana as a Puja. The word ‘Pu’ meaning fullness and ‘Ja’ meaning ‘born out of’. This means that whenever our ‘consciousness is full’ and we perform any action, that action, is considered a Puja. In other words when our hearts are saturated with Love, any action done from this state of consciousness is known as a ‘Puja’. Brother Suresh mentioned that whatever Swami does for us is also given out of the fullness of his Love. All were then reminded of the Power of the Lord’s Name and that when the Name of the Lord is remembered with all His associated Glory, a flood of happiness wells up within. In addition we should chant in a manner that will make the Lord dance, as Swami puts it. Even the Name itself will begin to dance as we are assured by Swami.

Before Uncle Vadgama commenced the Laksharchana, he himself told the story of how Bhagavan had given the instructions to perform this Laksharchana. Also that Swami later on told him to include bhajans in between the malas in more recent years so the devotees can maintain their focus and ‘not fall asleep’ as uncle put it light-heartedly. Both the chanting during the Lakshachana and the bhajans were a very uplifting experience!

After bhajans and the closing prayers, we were treated to some Divine Mahaprasadam, made by our dedicated Region 2 Service team. It was really great to see the entire Region 2 Sai Family sitting together to partake the Prasadam.

We look forward to next year’s Guru Poornima Celebration and thank Swami for reminding us of the importance and strength of chanting His Divine Name and His deep Spiritual Teachings too!

Jai Sai Ram.

Article submitted by Brother Suresh Sajnani - Region 2 Youth Coordinator

Region 2 - Harrow West Sai Centre Celebrates Guru Poornima

With the Blessings and Grace of our Beloved Lord, Guru Poornima was celebrated by Harrow West Sai Centre at Oxhey Wood Primary School on 8th July. We were fortunate to have our dearest Pandit Gowrishankar from Mumbai, India, to join us and conduct a beautiful Abhishek followed by a Padhuka Pooja. On Guru Poornima, the Guru becomes a channel for tremendous cosmic energy, which is available to all through the Guru's Lotus Feet. Thus, Guru Poornima is the most auspicious day for performing Padhuka Pooja, or the worship of the Lotus Feet. Cosmic energy flows from the Guru's Feet in abundance on this Divine day.

This special programme commenced with beautiful prayers sending out powerful vibrations to fill the hall. Each of the eleven items (oil, ghee, pancha amrith, milk, yoghurt, honey, fruit juice, coconut water, sandalwood, vibhuti and ganga water) which were used during the Abhishek was clearly explained stage by stage, allowing all of us devotees, to understand the importance and significance of the items used. During each stage of the Abhishek, we chanted the Sai Gayatri in order to strengthen the Divine vibrations. Following this, the Padhuka Pooja was performed whilst chanting the Sri Sai Paada Ashtothra Shatha Naamaavali. The devotees, either individually or in pairs were given a yellow tray, a flower and a bag containing a picture of Swami’s Lotus Feet, yellow rice and a packet of vibhuti. We were able to take part in this auspicious pooja by offering rice to our very own set of Padhukas throughout the chanting of the naamaavali.

The hall was filled with mesmerising vibrations from the uplifting pooja and the programme continued with melodious bhajans. Given the great significance of this Holy Day, we chose to present our SSE children with their certificates for both their internal and national examinations. The children were presented the certificates by our loving Uma Aunty (Mrs G. Umapathisiram), who has been involved in the Sai Organisation for nearly forty years and teaches SSE in our Centre. This marked the end of a remarkable year in our SSE wing!

The presentation of certificates was succeeded by the mangala arathi. Finally we all came up to the Universal Padhukas and offered a flower symbolising the inner heart being offered and merging with the Cosmic Heart. A strong sense of faith, unity, love and devotion for our Dear Divine Beloved Swami was eminent amongst all present. Lastly, the programme was concluded with delicious Mahaprasadam!

Article submitted by Sister Shhanghamie Peethakaran – SSE Teacher at Sai Centre Harrow West

Region 2 - SSE End of Year Graduation Celebrations at Pinner Sai Centre

July 2012

As we bring another SSE year to a close, on Sunday 8th July, Pinner Sai Centre celebrated its end of year graduation celebration. After weeks of planning, it was the privilege of the SSE teachers to say ‘thank you’ to the Centre Members, Parents, Students, and most of all, to Swami for the opportunity to serve in such a unique way.

The children looked so excited as they walked in and saw paddling pools and duvets on the floor, but were able to curb their intrigue whilst we held an assembly and prayers. In the meantime, Group Devotional Singing had already commenced in the Bhajan hall and Swami announced His presence by making the flowers fall from the back of the His Throne...

The Children took part in a treasure hunt, searching for the lost Human Values by having to participate in a series of challenges and tasks, each of which took them another step closer to re-discovering the Human Values. Everybody, including the parents and the children loved the Fishing and Catching activity.

The task was simple (but that does not mean it was easy!), to fish for the Five Human Values from the Human Values ‘Lake’ and to catch the nine forms of devotion, represented by nine coins (inspired by the 9 silver coins given by Shirdi Baba with His own hands before He took Maha Samadhi, as a token of His nine fold path of Bhakti and Seva). The record for the morning was two coins, so we all have lots more work to do!

Then, after the Group Devotional Singing, the whole centre joined us for the prize giving, presented by Pinner Centre Office Bearers and Veterans, some of whom go back to the origins of the Centre more than 40 years ago.

It was such a joy to see the look of admiration on the faces of the Presenters as they so lovingly presented the prizes to our SSE Children; priceless...

The task was simple (but that does not mean it was easy!), to fish for the Five Human Values from the Human Values ‘Lake’ and to catch the nine forms of devotion, represented by nine coins (inspired by the 9 silver coins given by Shirdi Baba with His own hands before He took Maha Samadhi, as a token of

The morning concluded with mahaprasadam, lovingly prepared by our SSE teachers who worked tirelessly to serve food to those who serve and have served the Centre and local community over the last 40 years since the Centre opened.

Swami was smiling with all of us throughout the celebrations, and it felt that He, Himself was giving out the prizes and serving us the food through our guests and teachers, giving them warm smiles, accompanied by words of congratulations and encouragement to continue on their spiritual journey; after all, we are never too young to start! This sense of warmth and love went through everybody present and, when the teachers had finished serving food, the Centre Elders and Students then served food to the teachers in the same spirit of selfless love and service. The morning most definitely demonstrated unity in diversity from the oldest to the youngest. The smiles and laughter said it all… One of the parents described it in the following way:

"May I say that yesterday was a wonderful and delightful Sai Day. The food along with the graduation was simply top class. I really enjoyed it and so did the children. Thank you. Fantastic Sai work...loved it..!

I just can’t wait to see what the next academic year will bring..."

Class of 2012

Article submitted by R2 SSE Coordinator Bhupendra Solanki on behalf of Sai Centre Pinner

Region 2 - YAP: "Holy Hearts, Helping Hands"

Sunday the 29th July saw Sri Sathya Sai Centre, Greenford host their ‘Young Adult’s Programme’ or ‘YAP’ for Region 2 youth wing. Although the programme was very well planned on paper, we were all aware that the day was fraught with uncertainties and we would need to be able to adapt to changes which were not in our control. Thankfully, our beloved Swami helped us overcome obstacles to make this day a fulfilling one overall.

Swami says ‘Hands that Help are Holier than Lips that Pray’ and therefore we decided to combine these two different aspects of prayer and service.

The day started off at 11am with Vedam chanting and Bhajans. Aarthi was offered at 12pm followed by a short ‘thought for the week’ reading by one of the youth. During the Bhajans, some of the male youth visited a bridge in West London which was well known for housing homeless immigrants. Originally, we had planned to leave after the Aarti but were made aware that there would be some traffic chaos because of lane closures due to the Olympics. We arrived at the bridge without facing any issues and were then faced with a very squalid atmosphere. There were a total of ten men who were staying there, but only two were present at that time. They had been staying in extremely filthy conditions, surrounded by waste and rotting litter. We were looked upon with some suspicion as soon as we got close, but were allowed to approach them when we signalled that we had only come to drop of some items. We then handed them clear plastic bags containing everyday necessities such as tooth paste, tooth brushes, mouth washes, face wipes, some snacks and bottles of water.

We were aware that many of these men had a serious drug habit and so we also handed them small packets of Vibhuti, along with instructions for its use, hoping that Swami would guide them through these passing clouds in their lives. We left the bridge and went back to Bhajans, reaching in time to receive Vibhuti prasadam.

After putting away the altar and blankets, the youth had a quick introduction to each other and left the Bhajan hall with trays of food and boxes of snacks for a residential home. Again, an alternative route was selected due to worries with traffic. However, the roads were clear and the journey was trouble free and we got to our destination at the appointed time. This particular residential home houses 43 individuals in self-containing flats. Many of them are elderly and some have disabilities. A small poster of weekend activities is displayed in the ‘common room’ and the residents can come downstairs and take part if they wish. We had planned a tea-party with games, riddles and other forms of light entertainment. However, it was quite obvious that our guests were not interested in our planned entertainment. They were more interested in something extremely valuable, which many people don’t give to each other in today’s society – Their Time. Our youth had tea, snacks and a light lunch with around 11 elderly residents. We sat and chatted to them and listened to their stories for a few hours!

One of the elderly male residents had been sitting in his room when we some of the youth knocked for him to invite him personally to the ‘Tea Party’. The gentlemen expressed his happiness saying something in the way of ‘This is how things should be!’ We could feel his plight as his floor felt lonely and dissolute. On talking to him later we realised that had a very rare spirit. His energy, his light hearted spirit, and his chuckle of laugher charmed us all. He told us that Allah is in his heart always which maybe helped to explain the source of his Joy!

Swami defines service as “Love made manifest”. Real service has never been about quantity but about quality and so the whole day was a positive experience for all involved. This was not only because everything we had planned was achieved, but also because different youth from different centres worked in a spirit of unison to bring a smile on the face of others. We hope Swami continues to inspire us, use us as His instruments so we can do something like this again in the future

Jai Sai Ram.

Rishi Chhibba
Greenford Youth Co-ordinator, Region 2

Region 3 - August 2012 Update

I’ve recently become acquainted with some lovely Christian ladies who have been regularly attending our monthly craft sessions at the Lady of Lourdes Church in Wanstead, Essex. One afternoon recently, as we all sat knitting at one of the monthly gatherings, Sister Camillus, the most senior nun of the group asked me about Swami and His teachings. I searched in my bag and found a calendar card with a photograph of Swami’s Hands in the “namaskar” pose with the following words written underneath:

There is only one religion, the religion of Love;
There is only one language, the language of the Heart;
There is only one caste, the caste of Humanity;
There is only one law, the law of Karma;
There is only one God, He is Omnipresent.

Seizing the moment, I read the words out slowly and loudly to the little group of Christian Sisters that sat around the table and there was a moment’s silence as the profound meaning sunk in.

Sitting next to me was another Christian sister – Tara, a keen knitter and always full of joy and positivity. Feeling particularly bold in the wake of Swami’s magnificent, universal statement, I seized the moment and asked her where she had grown up. She told me that she had spent her childhood in Bangalore, India; her mother was a Christian, her father a Hindu. She had been brought up by her mother in the Christian faith as her mother had always taught her to pray the way she knew best, the way she understood, in a way that had the most meaning for her…as all prayers ultimately led to the same God. Feeling inspired by hearing this excellent advice, I ventured… “Oh, you must have heard about Bhagavan Sri Satya Sai Baba?”. “He has an ashram in Whitefield, Bangalore”. She told me she had heard of Him and almost visited the ashram once with some friends, but somehow the trip got cancelled at the last minute. She then told me how throughout her life, she had always gained immense strength and courage from praying to our Lady of Lourdes (the title given to the blessed Virgin Mary by Roman Catholics) and how she had always been sustained in her life by this.

I asked her to write down a few words to express what she felt by participating in the workshops. This is what she wrote:

How about joining me for tea on a Saturday afternoon…?

Coming together, meeting each other…just talking sometimes about nothing in particular…we work with beautiful colours – wool and material, needles and machines…many faces, various talents; sharing and learning from different creeds, customs and cultures.

Why do we do this and what does it give us in return? A great dividend of joy and happiness; a feeling of love and appreciation for others; developing a little concern for those who we don’t know, have never met. Yet we can imagine ourselves receiving a surprise present; such a feeling of happiness is experienced… and knowing that the happiness would be so much more when the gift is so desperately needed…

So where does God come into it? Well, we all learn that God is love and we would like to spread this message through our work.

I realised afterwards that it was probably not a coincidence that Swami had guided us to this Church to hold our monthly ladies gatherings; a Church whose patron was the symbol of perfect womanhood for millions of followers worldwide. As a child I had avidly watched the 1943 film “The Song of Bernadette” which recounts the tale of how visions of the Virgin Mary given to a young peasant girl…Bernadette Soubirous …resulted in the magnificent Lady of Lourdes Shrine that exists today.

I also recalled that just as Tara had been due to visit Swami all those years ago in Whitefield…and the trip had been cancelled at the last minute, I too had been due to visit Lourdes several years back… but the trip had been cancelled at the last minute. Perhaps now was the time to put that right and enquire when the Church was organising its next trip to Lourdes…

I know now that as our relationship with this Christian community grows, there will be many other opportunities to learn and grow and serve in God’s love. I am so grateful to Swami for having given us this opportunity. As ever, His Plan and His timing are perfection itself.

Sutopa Sen
R3 Ladies Co-ordinator

Region 4 - Global Service Day at Snibston Discovery Park

Sunday 15 July 2012

This year we opted for Snibston Discovery Park as our venue for Global Service day. We last visited Snibston in 2006 so there were a number of changes to the museum that were new to both our guests & volunteers to enjoy.

We invited just over 60 guests, with a similar number of volunteers to help on the day. Our guests were members of the local community from elderly and care homes and devotees who attend our Centre who were a mixture of both able and disabled abilities.

The guests were provided with transport from their homes by the volunteers. All guests arrived at the venue by 10:30, where the volunteers welcomed and lovingly and served refreshments including hot & cold drinks and cookies.

The guests were then accompanied by the volunteers to explore the Discovery Museum. There was a lot to see and try out in the museum which was enjoyed by all. Some of the guests went on a fascinating colliery tour with former mine workers who described in gritty detail their experiences of working in the mines. The tour included visiting the Lamp Room and Control room and the Medical Centre,.

Soon everyone drifted back to the room we had hired for the day, where we had entertaining games laid on for everyone to try. Games included the Wii machine, skittles and Pictionary. Lunch included hot toasties, pasta salad, samosas, curry, and more......Plus a 'summer berries combo & ice cream' pudding! Delicious!

Everyone then joined in bingo & karaoke sessions, before it was time to say fare-well to our guests. Mementos in the form of photos were presented to all guests to take away with them (see an example below). These photographs were taken, printed & laminated on the day! A fine reminder for each one of our guests of the enjoyable day!

Region 4 - Olympic Values - Children of Sathya Sai EHV Good Values Club, Leicester

The children of the Sathya Sai EHV Good Values Club had ‘Olympic Values’ as their club theme last half term. We had different activities related to the Olympic values, as shown in the Get Set Programme of the Olympics.

On 3rd July 2012, the Olympic torch passed Abbey Primary Community School in Leicester. On the day, we organised a free Olympic breakfast which was attended by more than 400 parents and children. We displayed the five values logo on the route of the torch and some children made a big values torch.

The organisers asked one of our children to run up and down the road with the values torch, before the actual torch arrived. The crowds cheered Tia and she had her picture taken with the actual torch bearer. The torch bearer remarked that the values torch was bigger than his. We told him that was because the values torch lights the values in us to shine forever.

Dipak Kumar

Region 4 - Rugby & Coventry’s Global Service Day

This year, the Sathya Sai Centres of Coventry and Rugby joined together to celebrate Global Service Day at the new venue of Bubbenhall Village Hall on 15th July 2012. On this day we invite elderly and disabled people from care homes around Coventry and Rugby and provide entertainment, delicious food and a fun day out! Despite it raining for weeks leading up to this event, fortunately we were blessed with glorious sunshine on the day; Swami’s grace shown throughout yet again!

From 11am, volunteers began to arrive to set up chairs and marquees on the Bubbenhall field and were smiling and ready to help, escorting the guests from their minibuses to their seats from 1pm. Tea, coffee and biscuits were served whilst volunteers began welcoming and talking with our guests.

At 2:20pm, our compere brother Kishor Mistry welcomed everyone on behalf of the SSSSO and introduced our first item of the day. These were two Bharatanatyam dances performed by a group of 7 young girls in total. They were beautifully dressed in colourful silk traditional Indian clothing, gold jewellery and flowers in their hair. This was a wonderful start to the day and the girls brought a smile to everyone’s faces.

The dances were followed by a lively interactive drumming session by the Rugby Intercultural Drummers, showing everyone a variety of rhythms from around the world. Even a few guests from groups like the Catholic Fellowship and a couple of volunteers joined in with the drumming. This was enjoyed thoroughly by all our guests, especially our compere who had decided to solo dance around the drummers for us all!

Next were two very talented instrumentalists; Jessica played well known favourites 'Dancing Queen' and 'Hey Jude' on the flute. Following this, her brother Harrison played 'Dido's Farewell' on the cello. Their performances were received with great applause from the crowd and volunteers alike.

After a wonderful first half of the day, everybody was additionally rewarded with a scrumptious variety of food for lunch from sandwiches and pizza to quiches and samosa, which was all lovingly prepared by our volunteers. During the lunch break Pru Poretta, our Lady Godiva representative, arrived and interacted with all of our guests and some volunteers, brightening up the day even more!

The food was received with many compliments, and after that everyone was ready to get up and dance in time for our next item. Sisters Mina and Vina Mistry sang a mixture of Bollywood and English songs, appealing greatly to the different cultures in our audience. Songs included ‘Ajeeb Daastan Hey Ye’, ‘Dil Le Gayi Le Gayi’ and 'Brown Girl in the Ring.’ They were sung beautifully, encouraging audience members to join in and dance with them. Carrying on with the music and dance theme, this was followed by Gujarati Garba! This is a traditional North Indian folk dance that was led by brother Nagin and sisters Niru and Savita. It got everybody moving, even those who were unfamiliar with the Indian culture.

The finale to our Global Service Day is an annual favourite of both guests and volunteers – BINGO! Once bingo tickets and pens were handed out, volunteers made their way around the circle of guests, assisting them in the games. One very lucky guest by the name of Winifrede Dorrington happened to win both games of bingo and ended up going home with two great prizes!

Alas, the day drew to a close with brother Kishor giving a vote of thanks to our performers and volunteers and a final farewell to our amazing guests who continue to make the event so special each year.

Until next year, Jai Sai Ram!

Bhavika Patel and Saisha Mistry

Region 4- Sathya Sai Baba Centre of Narborough Road, Leicester – Global Service Day

The Sathya Sai Baba Centre of Narborough Road, Leicester celebrated Global Service Day on Sunday 22nd July, 2012, at Birstall Village Hall in Leicester.

On a surprisingly bright and shiny Sunday morning about 60 elderly guests were picked up from their homes by our volunteers. Upon arrival at the village hall, our guests were gleaming with joy. It was a day for our guests to entertain, to be entertained, to talk to someone, to be respected, to be appreciated, to be spoilt and to be LOVED.

After a humble welcome and refreshments the spiritual atmosphere was set with prayers and bhajans by the youth. This was followed by entertainment which included some interesting and funny Shayari (poetry) by Bhavanbhai, jokes by Chiragbhai and an interactive presentation by Dipakbhai. Some of the guests also had an opportunity to dance. Lunch time arrived fast; a scrumptious hot dinner and Gulab Jammu were served. Despite all the Gulab Jammu getting finished, there were enough for all to relish. During lunch there were live Bollywood songs being sung for entertainment. After a hearty meal, some of the guest played Bingo and others opted to go for a walk in the park to enjoy the weather. Again there were some more Bollywood songs, some of which were sung by the guests. This was followed by tea and biscuits whilst a general knowledge quiz was played. The day ended with some more devotional songs, the Shirdiwala Sai Baba Qawali and Aarti which was conducted by a few guests whose birthday fell around that day. The guests were then taken back to their respective homes.

All the guests had a lovely time and asked us when next programme would be. Oh and of course...the volunteers had a great time too. With a nice satsang, lovely food, a good catch up and plenty of smiles, it was day that was enjoyed by all.
When everyone is Happy, Swami is Happy!

Be Happy and smile!

Victory to Sai.

Region 5 & 8 - Retreat: LET GO…. LET GOD

The day opened with sun shining brightly for our Regional Retreat in Lake District with Swami`s grace. This year, Region 8 joined us again for the retreat making it a joint family effort. It started on Friday, the 20 July evening with beautiful bhajans inviting Bhagawan to the Mandir, which was a marquee set outside in the lawns of the Youth Hostel where we stayed. Mr Kailash Venkat, Region 5 Chair welcomed devotees for the retreat. He spoke about how this is a family event and how that family is extending with Swami`s grace and love. He welcomed devotees who came from all over the Region 5, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, London, Leicester, Coventry and even from South Africa and the Netherlands.

This was followed by a quick introduction by Mr Sanjay Vaja on the theme of the retreat which was Let Go…Let God. He stated that the whole of Saturday will deal with the Let Go aspect and Sunday is devoted to Let God. He used musical bits by various international singers to talk about the Let Go and Let God aspect of the theme.

LET GO

"Inner purity is essential for God to come in. Purify your heart and make God your Hridayavaasi (indweller of heart). Get rid of the six inner enemies of the man which is inside you with Naamasmarana (recitation of the God`s name). Let go of your desires and the attachments thereof and you will realise that you are an embodiment of the Divine Himself."

Let Go of the six inner enemies (Aberdeen Workshop)

With Swami's Grace and Blessings the workshop achieved its objective of making the participants aware of the practical ways to "let go" of the six inner enemies: Kama (desire), Krodha (anger), Lobha (greed), Moha (attachment), Madha (pride) and Matsarya (envy). The interactive workshop comprised of an initial short presentation on the six inner enemies highlighting Swami's message on each of them. They were asked to join six pre-allocated groups and requested to prepare a short skit on each of the inner enemy. The skits presented by the groups generally followed the theme that demonstrated for the first half a scenario where the chosen inner enemy was taking over the person/situation resulting in difficulties and the second half whereby the inner enemy was overcome. All the participants presented interesting and humorous scenarios. There was a lot of enthusiasm and eager participation. Many useful and practical means to "let go" each of the six inner enemies were discussed. A brief summary of all the six skits was presented in the end to highlight important messages from each. The discussion clearly demonstrated the link between the six inner enemies and how desire formed the root of all of them. If desire which arose from the senses was not controlled and was satisfied would lead to Lobha, Moha and Madha. If such desires were not satisfied they can lead to Krodha and Matsarya.

Let Go the EGO (Isle of Man Workshop)

Ego is our “enemy number one” according to Bhagawan and this workshop had an active discussion about how we can surrender all our actions at the Lotus feet to let go of this Ego.
The skill of how we should love everyone but not to lose the sense of proportion led to some interesting thoughts in the Mandir.

“Cultivate love, not delusion. Love your wife and children and do your duty towards them as a husband and a father. But always hold on to the true values. Do not lose your sense of proportion.”

“He who is devoid of the 'I' and 'mine' tendencies, these are not mine,' 'this is I' and 'this is not I,' he alone can attain Prashaanthi (the Higher Peace)."

It was summarised with the thought that letting go of the Ego is an extremely important part of our spiritual sadhana which requires constant practise.

Maaya- Apparent Deluding Reality (Illusion) Isle of Man workshop

“The acronym MAN stands for Maaya, Aathma and Nirvaana. The teaching contained in this term MAN is firstly 'Get over Maaya', secondly 'see the Aathma', and thirdly 'Attain Nirvaana.' God is one's greatest and closest friend.”

The workshop talked about how we can get the Jnana, the wisdom and enlightenment to see the God behind the veil of Maaya. It was deviced beautifully on aspects: what is Maaya; what is the structure of Maaya and finally how can we see God who is behind this Maaya.

“Maaya is like a mirror. Ishwara, prakrithi and jeeva (the Almighty God, objective world and individualised self), all three are images of Paramaathman (Supreme soul) reflected in the
mirror of maaya and warped by the gunas (qualities) that tarnish the surface of the mirror. It is the mirror that pictures the One as many. But the One is ever One.”

The structure of Maaya and the two powerful Shaktis (energies) that make up Maaya (Avarana, the veiling power and Vikshepa, the projecting power) were explained. The difference between the two was explained with some daily life examples.

Finally it was summarized with the quote from Swami on how to control Maaya which is as follows;

“Scholars have described Maaya as a Narthaki (dancer). This Maaya is said to make every man dance. How is Maaya to be controlled? Read the word Narthaki in reverse and you have the answer Keerthana. This is proclaimed as the path of devotion.”

Nature Workshop (Bradford; Leeds and Halifax)

“There is no greater example of Selfless love than Nature.”

The nature workshop typically was designed as a bridging session between the two parts of the retreat theme Let Go –Let God and it also gave an opportunity to enjoy the extraordinary beauty of the Lake District landscape.

This interactive workshop commenced with the divine Madhurastakam video which beautifully set the tone. The workshop had 4 sessions and was interspersed with beautiful bhajans.

The devotees were divided into five smaller groups and each one was led by a facilitator.

1. Understanding Nature

“If the Creation itself is so beautiful… then what about the Creator Himself?

Devotees shared their thoughts on what nature means to each of them, how we are dependant on nature and how nature is a perfect example for True Surrender and Selfless Love.

"Prakruthi or Nature is the energy, and the controller of this energy is the Lord. Whether it is blessing or bereavement, joy or sorrow, gain or loss, it comes from Prakruthi. Nature presides over the destinies of all creatures. Prakruthi is the name for all the items that impress upon man the glory and the splendor of God. Her beauty is beyond all description, and her strength is enormous. However Prakruthi cannot survive without the company of Purusha, or God. Man himself is a product of the five elements of Nature (Panchabhutamulu) which are Earth, Fire, Water, Air and Space. These 5 elements are equally distributed in everyone and no one can truly be considered superior to any other."

2. Nature: Role in our sadhana

"Pure mind, pure thoughts and pure love can alone lead to surrender."

This session had a fun filled activity where a devotee who was blindfolded had to place a bindhi on Swami’s forehead with the help of their team mates who guided them to achieve the goal.

Other teams in the group distracted and misguided the blindfolded devotee from reaching the goal. This devotee had to filter out the “Noise” and concentrate, focus and have faith on the guiding “Voice”.

Devotees shared how the serenity and tranquility provided by nature enhances the concentration in our prayers. A devotee explained that the sound of birds chirping at the Ganesh mandir in Prashanti helped his mind travel several thousand miles each time. Swami has said that Nagara Sankeerthan helps to purify nature and create vibrations that would cleanse the minds. Bhajans were sung as a group in Nature to end this session.

3. Kalpavrikhsam (Wish fulfilling Divine tree)

“My task is to give everyone what they ask for, without any prejudice or favouritism. Can any fault be imputed to the Sun shining its rays? This world is a part of kalpa vriksha. If we
think evil, evil happens to us; when our thoughts and deeds are pure, the kalpa vriksha of the world will give us the good things desired by us. Both good and bad come from our hearts only; they never come from outside. That is why, at the outset, we have to make our hearts as pure as possible. Therefore in this way, for everything, the mind or our sankalpa, the desire, is the cause.”

Devotees shared their personal experiences of Swami being the doer and giver and how one has to have an open mind and heart filled with love to see our beloved Lord’s miracles that happens to each one of us in every step of our lives.

Devotees wished for a good quality to be granted and at the same time pledged to get rid of an evil quality. Good thoughts lead to good deeds and these in turn reduces the 6 inner enemies present within us.

Devotees set off for the nature walk to explore the serene elegance and beauty of Lake District singing bhajans all along the way and learning from Prakruthi how to overcome the vices present in Man.

Workshop came to an end with a wonderful presentation from the devotees sharing their thoughts on how Nature serves as a perfect example to let go of the vices present in us. Trees all through out their life keep giving flowers, fruits, leaves and bark without any complaints purely because of their love. They shed their dead parts according to the seasons and thus follow a discipline with sacrifice and detachment. Water constantly flows and with it carries all the filth and helps in purifying nature.

This was followed by Jyothi meditation where all devotees chanted the Omkara and allowed the mantra to flow from within only to experience peace, sense of balance and awareness of the beautiful surroundings.

Saturday evening culminated with beautiful bhajans and a fun- filled Bhajan Anthakshari conducted by the ex-Ananthapur sisters, Mrs Praveena Srikailash and Mrs Gayathri Nadella. The anthakshari, with 5 innovative rounds, left everyone wanting for more. There were smiles in every devotee`s face after the anthakshari.

LET GOD- Sunday

After the Suprabhatham and breakfast, we started with the second half of the topic on Faith and surrender (LET GOD).

Faith and Surrender- Mr Krishan Kaul- London

“Man has but the right to perform action; to ask for the fruits thereof he has none. God alone can dispense the fruits of man’s actions.”

Mr Kaul conducted an interactive workshop on Faith and Surrender. It was for almost an hour and a half but time literally flew. Mr Kaul involved the younger audience with a “question and answer” session to start with and analysed the intricate relations between belief, faith and surrender. Belief leads to faith which in turn leads to surrender.

He reiterated that faith is recognition that one is god. Faith is a deeply held belief which is expressed in thought, word and deed. Surrender is not losing power but on the contrary it is
regaining supremacy. One is surrendered completely when he or she is detached to the sense of doer-ship. It was a highly thought provoking session and Mr. Kaul left the devotees in awe
with his profound knowledge.

Guest speaker: Mr Charles Fowler, London

Nothing works better than having someone with devotion and experience to talk to the devotees in a retreat to summarize the theme. Henceforth, having a guest speaker who can do that is invaluable in a retreat. We had Mr Charles Fowler from London who was successful in connecting with the audience. He shared his experiences with Bhagawan and more importantly the lessons he learnt from them to substantiate on the best way to practise surrender. He took us through a journey of transformation within which he is still going through ever since he saw Swami in India. He focussed on how important it is to set a goal and work towards achieving it .The goal should be clear at the outset and as Sai devotees our goal is realisation of Sai. We need to have faith that Sai is Poorna-Avatar. By applying the knowledge, we need to change and make progress towards that goal. Without surrender there can be no liberation. Surrender is not inaction and it should be unconditional. Once we surrender to god, He himself will get everything for us. Mr Fowler shared how each time he felt the change for good within when he had success or failure in his business. He emphasised the power of Namasmarana and how it provided the strength and succour in difficult times. It was a well received and enjoyable session.

Our retreat ended with devotees leaving the Mandir with hearts filled with His love and mind filled with the knowledge of His message. Our love to Swami, who blessed us with such a beautiful retreat.

Retreat Planning Team

Devotee`s experience: Let Go... Let God I attended the R5 & 8 Sai Retreat in the Lake District this year with my family and we had an amazing time. God's grace, interesting and entertaining activities, with weather and scenery that only the Divine could provide. The planning team were inspirational from start to finish and brought everyone together like one big family. We felt welcomed and included in every sense. Bonding with everyone during activities while exploring the deep and thought provoking topics in each session. Reminding us to simply Let Go of all unnecessary worldly attachments that make us forget and Let God remind us of who we really and truly are. The beautiful bhajans transported us to the Sai Kulwant Hall, Prashanti and while uplifting our souls, were the perfect accompaniment to each day. We've brought back with us some lasting memories, friendships and learning what I guess we've known all along... Everything is Perfect and Divine in God's special way and if we only look inside we'll remember and feel Infinite Love and Grace every day.

With Love from Ms Mohini Patel (London)

Region 5 - Guru-Poornima Celebrations

Devotees from across the region gathered in Bolton on Sunday 8 July to celebrate Guru-Poornima. This was the first Regional event organised in Bolton after many years, and the Bolton groups worked together with unity. Devotees came all the way from Sandbach to Preston, from Leeds to Newcastle - the whole length and breadth of the region. The hall was decorated and Swami's altar looked beautiful. A large stage was set too, which left devotees eagerly anticipating what activities would take place on it. Vibrant vedam and bhajans set the atmosphere for Mr Kailash Venkat, our Regional Chair, to give the welcome address. Kailash explained and reminded us all about how very auspicious this occasion was for the devotees.

We were fortunate to have Mr Navin Patel from Leicester as our guest speaker. Navinbhai was one of the first batches of students to pass through Swami's educational institutions in Puttaparthi and he shared some very beautiful experiences with us. He reminded us that Swami is pure love, He is Premaswaroopa. Navinbhai shared about Swami's love. Swami, Navinbhai and Swami's driver were in a car driving from Anantapur to Bangalore. Swami stopped the car along a road with fields on either side and got out of the car. There seemed to be nobody around. All of a sudden, workers from the field started to gather for darshan. Swami asked after a particular farm worker who was blind and patiently waited for him so that he could have His darshan too - such love for God to stop the car and wait patiently for a devotee to arrive! When Swami visited Africa, He chose to travel by car for 12 hours rather than fly, again so that He could stop and meet local Africans who could also have His darshan.

Navinbhai talked about how important it is to have love in our centres, between our centres, and between devotees. There may be Sai groups in every corner but it is important that we all work together with tolerance and love and as ONE Sai family, especially for larger events.

In the hostel, Swami would always lead by example - whether it be painting or sweeping - He would show the students how it should be done first and then let them complete it. Swami told Navinbhai "when I have taken you under my protection, I WILL protect you" and this assurance holds true for all of us. As you can tell, quite a lot was packed into a short time!

After Navinbhai's talk, we watched a video of Swami's Guru-Poornima discourse from 2004 where the main theme was about tolerance. The SSE students took to the stage to present a Shiva dance - part one of their Guru-Poornima contributions. Ms Nishal Govindji talked us through the National Pilgrimage Sai Jyothi presentation and showed us the video. She delivered the presentation with lots of energy and excitement. The SSE children returned to present to us about our Gurus - mothers, fathers, school teachers, friends, and ended with God as our true friend. They also sang some beautiful songs - including one in Telugu that they learned especially for Guru-Poornima.

Mr Arvind Patel then spoke in Gujarati. He talked about his personal experiences with Swami and ended with a strong focus on service. Arvindbhai shared the various projects being undertaken by members of the Sai Organisation across the region and also more locally around Greater Manchester area. He encouraged us all to take a good look at ourselves, Swami's teachings, and to become more active in service projects.

Mr Vijayanand Nadella, our Regional Spiritual Coordinator, summarised the programme. He added what I thought was an interesting story about how someone once asked Swami the similarities and differences between Swami and Gurus. Swami explained how Gurus do sadhana to ascend and come up to God... whereas Swami has come down to 'act' as a Guru.

Delightful bhajans ended the programme, with Mangal Arathi offered in a packed hall. Ms Hannah Mistry, our MC, re-iterated how blessed we are to have God himself as our teacher. Finally, we all had a lovely lunch!

Mr Sanjay Vaja
Greater Manchester Spiritual Coordinator

Region 6 - Study Day at Park Barn Centre in Guildford

Sai Baba specifically asked us to read his teachings and this directive was even taken around the world by Arthur and Poppy Hillcoat at his request a few years ago. For this reason, our regional study day was aimed mainly at focussing on Swami’s teachings in a relaxed atmosphere, using the Sathya Sai Speaks series.

We started with a message from Seema Dewan, which she shared on Gurupurnima as this contained a few words that were very relevant to our endeavour: "I have left you with gems of knowledge. My words of truth shall keep you vigilant and aware of My presence. Those that hold the words to their hearts shall surely find the way to see Me beyond the physical level. My words are My form. I have spoken them for you to benefit and make them the eye that sees the road before you..."

There was then a short presentation on the significance of the Vedas, in which we tried, using quotes by Sai Baba, to answer certain questions, for example, why Baba believes they are so important and why vedic chanting is so powerful. During the chanting the heavens opened as the rain poured down breaking the sunshine we had been experiencing all week. This was then concluded with an interactive session chaired by Selva Kumar and Dr Chun which proved very interesting and enlightening. We ended up feeling that we had learned something important and were a little wiser about this very deep subject. The Sathya Sai Speaks workshops consisted of people dividing into groups, with each person perusing a different volume of Sathya Sai Speaks and finding a passage that inspired them. They then shared this with the rest of the group and explained why it had appealed to them. At the end, each group read one or two passages to the rest of us, so that we all had the benefit of hearing as many of Swami’s words as possible. Feedback was positive and some people commented that the passage they found had answered a burning question for them.

In the afternoon, an interesting and helpful talk about meditation was given by Dr Chun with a short Soham meditation at the end. Selva Kumar then gave a thought-provoking and enlightening talk on the different kinds of karma...a more complex subject than it appears at first.

All in all, a happy, relaxed and productive day, one which will hopefully encourage and inspire devotees to keep reading Baba’s teachings, while being uplifted by them and finding peace through them no matter what other things may be going on in their worlds. His words contain His vibration and reading a paragraph here and there is a wonderful and powerful way of connecting with that in us...

AUM SAI RAM

Region 7 - Guru Poornima in Cardiff

Sunday 8th July 2012
by Clare Pargeter, Chair Bath Group.

What a very beautiful and special day.

It started most auspiciously early in the morning with Suprabhatam, about forty devotees gathered in candlelight to awaken the Sai within each of us. After weeks of rain, the Welsh skies had cleared to the bluest blue and more devotees streamed in with the morning sunshine from all corners of the region to celebrate our love for our beloved Lord.

The entire day was intimate, harmonious and filled with love. Long term devotees from different centres and groups shared their personal experiences and uniquely individual relationship with Swami. We were transported back to Brindavan, sitting under the banyan tree, or in the sand at Prashanti, having the freedom to perform pradakshina round and round the mandir early in the morning before Omkar....

Our two guest speakers, Vidyu and Mahesh Narayan brought tears of joy and bliss to our hearts by recounting wonderful stories of Swami’s omniscience and our hearts were overflowing with gratitude that we should have been born at this time to witness and share these wonders and be reminded by Swami’s clarion call of Premaswarupalara.

Chants from many different faiths were simultaneously chanted, reminiscent of some of the wonderful festivals at Pranshanti, a cacophany of sound adoring and worshipping God in different languages and from different cultures. Bhajans and Devotional Singing, as always, raised the energy refreshing and reenergizing our souls.

Breakfast, Lunch and refreshments were prepared, cooked, served and eaten by all the various groups who attended, a true sharing. The lunch that was prepared was also packaged by devotees whilst chanting the Lord’s name and these parcels of Love were distributed at the local homeless shelter. The SSE children also baked and decorated fairy cakes for the homeless and all who had gathered.

We all left completely satiated, filled with Swami’s Love and Blessings.

Region 7 - Music Team Workshop

The Regional Music team held a Devotional Singing Workshop in Marazion, Cornwall on the 10th June 2012. Marazion is a most beautiful sea side town with majestic views of St Michael’s Mount.

The team were met by the smiling faces of devotees from Marazion, Exeter, and Gunnislake, all eager to express their love for Bhagawan through song and the morning started with vibrant singing which set the mood for the programme ahead.

Brother Veeru Mudigonda, the National Spiritual Co-ordinator shared some inspiring lessons learnt during his time as a student in the Divine presence of Bhagawan Baba. His experiences reminded us of the discipline, the dedication and the devotion necessary when singing to the Lord; but most importantly the humility with which we should approach this Sadhana (spiritual practice).

Brother Nishith Patel, also shared his experiences with Bhagawan and reminded us of the importance of always being cognisant of Swami’s presence. He highlighted how the constant awareness of this, led to improved discipline and an enhanced spiritual experience for all present.

Devotees shared with the group their experiences and the impact that Group singing has had on them. They spoke of the joy and happiness that they experienced when singing the Lord’s name and the impact on the wider community, bringing god loving people together, irrespective of caste, colour or creed.

The group enthusiastically approached learning a few new Sanskrit bhajans and English songs and hymns and everyone enjoyed the relaxed and loving atmosphere created by like-minded devotees coming together to sing the praises of our Lord.

Many wonderful memories were created from the day; but most importantly everyone left feeling uplifted and energised by a day of singing heart-felt, soul stirring melodies to our Dearest Lord, thereby experiencing His Love.

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