August 2014 Edition

Quote

People worship God with devotion and sincerity, but God is not-satisfied with external worship. You should serve society. Only service can confer bliss on you. By rendering service to society, not only can you alleviate the sufferings of the people, but you can also bring about transformation in their lives. Yad Bhavam Tad Bhavati (as is the feeling, so is the result). If you serve with sacred feelings, it is bound to yield sacred results. Serve society to your utmost capacity. You are doing bhajans in the morning and evening. The satisfaction that you get by participating in bhajans is temporary, whereas service confers permanent satisfaction. A few minutes ago, the students sang Bhaja Govindam, in which it is said, \\\"Ma Kuru Dhanajana Yauvana Garvam, Harathi Nimeshath Kalah Sarvam\\\" (do not be proud of your wealth, progeny and youth; the tide of time may destroy them in a moment). Krishna Janmashtami, 22-08-2000, Prasanthi Nilayam

~ Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Events

Region 1 - Sathsang with Prof M. Nanjundaiah

Articles

Divine Interaction: Good Actions and Gods Grace

National Pilgrimage 2014: Report and Reflections from Pilgrims

Region 1 - Eid ul-Fitr celebration at Brixton Sai Centre

Region 1 - Guru Poorinma 2014 Celebrations

Region 1 - Merton Sai Centre Easwaramma Day Celebrations

Region 1 - Young Adult Programme

Region 2 - Pinner Sai Centre Guru Poornima Celebrations

Region 2 - Young Adults Programme: Nine Point Code of Conduct

Region 3 - Young Adults Programme: 9 Point Code of Conduct

Region 4 - Leicester Central Youth Satsang

Region 5 - Guru Poornima Celebration: A Youth Perspective

Region 5 - Guru Poornima Celebrations

Region 5 - Guru Poornima Celebrations: SSE Report

Region 5 - Regional Retreat

Region 5 - Regional Retreat: SSE Report

Region 5 - Regional Retreat: Youth Report

Region 6 - Laksharchana in Southampton

Region 7 - Seva in Bath

Region 7 - Sharing Interfaith Understanding at the Bath Centre

Region 7 - The benefits of Likhita Nama Japam

UK Sathsangs with Prof. Nanjundaiah‏

Editorial

Dear Love & Light Readers,
Loving Sai Ram to you!

July was a spiritually uplifting month for the many centres and regions of the UK when Guru Poornima was celebrated to commemorate the life of our Divine Teacher, Sri Sathya Sai Baba. It provided an occasion to recollect and reminiscence His Divine Life and an opportunity to offer our homage and gratitude to Him for ceaselessly guiding humanity on the path of Truth, Love, Right Conduct, Peace and Non-violence.

July also saw the conclusion to the holy month of Ramadan by our Muslim brothers and sisters, when their focus was upon unity, harmony, equal-mindedness and self-control.

The month of August opened its doors with august musical offering to the Divine Feet of our Lord, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, by our Youth in the Sai Kulwant Hall, Prasanthi Nilayam as part of the UK Pilgrimage that was titled, ‘Sai Samarpanam – One with Sai’. For the 56 devotees who had joined the pilgrimage 27th July to 2nd August, their presence was a consummation of their yearning of the past few months, the very rare blessing of the coveted boon, that of being present in His Divine Presence. The pilgrims were united only by the bond of Divine Love. For the many pilgrims, this was a life changing experience filled with thrill, delight, enthusiasm, excitement but also a time of reflection of their lives and their roles in the Divine Mission. Having being educated to the rare glimpses of the Divine Lord from very ardent devotees in Prasanthi Nilayam, the pilgrims were enlightened to the glimpses of Sai Krishna during the visit to Brindavan (located near Whitefield, Bangalore). This place is extraordinary, filled with stories of Baba’s Divine Plays and His Glory. The pilgrims were doubly rewarded with the rare benediction, that of sitting in the sanctum sanctorum where Baba used to sit during His stay in Brindavan.

Not surprisingly, Krishna Janmasthmi which was recently celebrated by large number of UK centres has a special place in the organisation calendar since the celebration identified one closely to the life of our Divine Master.

And finally, we look forward to the National Sai Retreat planned 29th – 31st August in Llandudno, North Wales, themed ‘Divine Grace: Fountain of Eternal Joy’. Prof M Nanjundaiah is our special guest speaker who was the ex-controller of examinations at the Sri Sathya Sai University, Prasanthi Nilayam. He had the rare privilege of being Baba’s translator for number of years and has wonderful stories to share of his interactions with our Lord. This is an opportunity not to be missed. Just a few places are remaining. If you wish to avail of this opportunity, then please register using the attached link without delay.

http://www.srisathyasai.org.uk/national-programmes/nationalretreat2014/index.php

I pray that our readers have a spiritually energising August!

Best wishes and Sai Ram,

Dr Kiran Patel,
Chairman, Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (UK)

Divine Interaction: Good Actions and Gods Grace

After an evening Interview in March 2001, in the Ganesh Portico in Prasanthi Nilayam, Prof Anil Kumar's conversation with Bhagawan. Excerpt from Students Compilation ‘Heart to heart’.

Prof.AK: Swami, in temples, they do Pooja, Annadana etc so that the evil effect of the sins done by them will be removed…

Swami: All that is of no use. It might give personal satisfaction. But it cannot remove the effect of all the wrong things done. Suppose you mix the seeds of a thorny plant and a fruit-bearing tree and you sow that mixture, the plants that grow will be of both varieties. You should use your viveka (discrimination) and remove the thorny plant. In the same way, you have to accept the fruits of both good and bad actions and avoid bad actions. If you have diabetes, you cannot get away from it. But to reduce its effect, you should have diet-control, exercise etc. Peaople ask, ‘Anyway I am going to face the result of bad actions. What is the use of doing good actions?” If you do a good action, it will reduce the effect of bad actions. Otherwise, you will suffer more problems. If you do not know that you are doing a mistake, then it is not a sin. But if you commit the mistake knowingly, then it is great papam (sin). You should be able to discriminate between right and wrong, and do the right thing.

Prof.AK: Does Dharma change with time?

Swami: Dharma does not change with time, it changes with karma. That which changes with time is just fashion. Dharmamutho karma chesthe marmamu thelusthundhi (If you act in accordance with Dharma, you will understand the secret).

Prof.AK: Swami, you tell us that we are bound by karma, but there are so many types of karma, like Sachita karma, Agami karma, and Prarabdha karma. Which one should we follow?

Swami: Those are like different classes. Like the first, second and third standard. You go from first to second and from second to third. Similarly, there are different stages of karma and man has to go from one stage to another.

Prof.AK: Swami, is it because of past bad deeds that individuals undergo suffering?

Swami: Don’t worry about previous birth. The effects of yesterday will be felt today.

Prof.AK: Swami, it appears as if those who indulge in wrong deeds are having a merry time. How do we reconcile with this?

Swami: It only appears that way. But the people who will ultimately be happy are the ones who do good deeds. (Swami quoted a Telugu poem which means that even a king like Dharmaraja had to go to the forest, Rama too tested Sita, and one should be prepared for any eventuality at any moment, while leading a dharmic life).

Prof:AK: If an individual has to face the consequences of his actions, how does God’s grace come into the picture? How does it become relevant?

Swami: If you really have faith in God, you will be liberated from the effects of wrong deeds. But three-fourths of the people undertake bad actions inspite of knowing that the results will be bad.

Prof.AK: Swami, when a person knows that he is going to face the consequences of bad actions, why does he continue to indulge in such deeds?

Swami: They feel that when the time comes, they will pay attention and thus they continue with their misdeeds.

Prof AK: Swami, is it only the one who indulges in wrong action who faces the consequences?

Swami: If you eat food, will your wife’s hunger be satiated? Whoever eats food, only his hunger will be satisfied.

Prof.AK: Swami, then how do we understand the fact that the whole kingdom (Lanka) had to suffer due to the actions of one person, Ravana, in Ramayana?

Swami: Who said that all of them did not do any wrong? The only one who did not do any wrong was Vibheeshana and he was saved. Whoever does a wrong action, he alone has to face consequences. If her son’s leg gets hurt, the mother cannot tie the bandage to her own leg. She can at most console the child.

Prof. AK: Now-a-days, people do so much japa and daana (charity) and give money to the pujaris to perform rites on their behalf.

Swami: All such actions are of no use. It is because you give money that they are ready to do all that. Whenever a bad thought arises in your mind, do not implement it immediately. On the other hand, if a good thought arises, put it into action immediately. Any thought, good or bad, is subject to change with time. When a bad thought arises, take time and discriminate. Judge the consequences of action and then only should you take to action. Suppose in a temple, a person promises to donate Rupees 5000. On hearing this, another promises to give Rupees 10000. There will not be a problem if they willingly give away the money then and there. But if they go home and start pondering about the donation, they will begin to feel that Rupees 2500 would be a good enough sum to donate. When he goes to the cash box, he will feel that Rupees 1000 would do. Finally, when he picks up the cash, he feels that there is no real necessity to make the donation now. All this is illusion. Bhrama Unte Shrama tappadhu ( If there is illusion, one cannot escape from toil and suffering). Bhrama pothe Brahma vasthundhi ( If illusion leaves, Divinity will spring forth).

Prof. AK: Swami, you said that only the person who indulges in action will reap the benefit. When Suka narrated the Bhagavatham to Parikshith, it is Suka who should have acquired the merit from the narration and not Parikshith. But actually, Parikshith acquired the benefit of the narration.

Swami: Suka was already an enlightened individual.

Prof. AK: May be, the eagerness and enthusiasm of Parikshith to hear to the story of Bhagawatham brought him the merit of the action.

Swami: Apart from that, Parikshith was a Sthithapragna (Swami explained this with the help of an example). Ahalya turned in to a stone owing to the curse of a sage. All who touched the stone could not turn the stone back into Ahalya.Nor did all the stones that Rama touched turn into Ahalyas. It was only that particular ‘Ahalya stone’ that turned into Ahalya on being touched by Rama. Similarly, because Parikshith was a Sthithapragna and sage Suka had the ability to give the benefit to Parikshith, that he got the benefit.

Some people ask me to bless them with a husband like Rama. I tell them, if you conduct yourself in the manner similar to Sita, you will surely get a husband like Rama. On the contrary, if you behave like Surpanaka, the very same Rama will chop your nose and ears. In real life, al such small things matter most. Now-a-days people try to search for easy methods for everything.

National Pilgrimage 2014: Report and Reflections from Pilgrims

54 pilgrims on the ‘Sai Samarpanam: One with Sai’ UK Pilgrimage to Prasanthi Nilayam, returned recently after a spiritually uplifting and fulfilling trip, their hearts filled with joy and lives with love and peace. During their week-long stay, they attended daily Suprabatham, Nagarasankeerthan, prayers and bhajans in the Sai Kulwanth Hall; they received beloved Bhagawan’s divine blessings at the Maha Samadhi every morning and evening. Various blessed devotees of Bhagawan and senior leaders shared their invaluable and unique experiences and insights with the pilgrims. Speakers included Professor G.Venkataraman and Mrs. Karuna Munshi from Radiosai; Sri. Prasada Rao, Secretary of the Ashram; Sri. Satyajit Salian, Lead for Vidya Vahini programme; Dr. Pallav Baruah, Dr. Shiva Shankar Sai, Dr. Ravi Kumar, and Dr. Sanjay Sahni from the University; and Dr. Sunam Gyamtso, an alumnus of the SSSIHL.

The pilgrims also visited Brindavan, Bhagawan’s Abode in Bangalore, for a day during this week. They had the opportunities to visit both the Sathya Super speciality hospitals, amongst other places such as the Old People’s Home in Whitefield and the Chaitanya Jyothi Museum in Puttaparthi, and felt inspired by the majesty, magnitude and the impact of the divine Sathya Sai Mission. The youth and children from the SSE in UK felt immensely blessed when they were given the opportunity to offer a garland of musical compositions at the divine Lotus Feet of Bhagawan, not once but twice: At Trayee Brindavan (inside Bhagawan’s Residence) and again in Sai Kulwanth Hall at Bhagawan’s Maha Samadhi.

Below is a collection of reflections from a few pilgrims, giving some glimpses of this memorable pilgrimage. In the next few issues of Love and Light, we hope to share the key points from the talks given to the group in Prasanthi Nilayam.

Pilgrimage Planning Team

Divine Memories

When I registered myself to be part of the UK pilgrimage, I had no idea what to expect and as to how this trip will go. As I attended the meetings, things were starting to happen. The Sadhana, and other works related with the pilgrimage, kept me busy during the preceding 2 months or so. It was Swami who planned this pilgrimage and chose the pilgrims. There were 54 of us, all wanting to be one with Sai. We took the one step, Swamy took the rest of the steps to make sure we were comfortable in every way. For a week, N2 block in Prasanthi was our home. Seeing each of us getting in and out, going for Darshan and bhajans, meetings, having coconut water, ice cream, cakes etc. gave us the oneness with all!


Early morning Suprabatham , Nagara Sankeertan, and morning, evening bhajan became our daily routine, not forgetting the Eastern, Western and Northern canteens for our food.

We heard talks by the blessed devotees of Swami, who had so much experience to share. A coach was arranged to take us all to Brindavan. We left early on Wednesday and reached Brindavan around 11am. We all were allocated rooms in Gokulam, after a few minutes for well needed drinks and short eats, we were taken on a tour of Whitefield campus with a short explanation of the place. For some of us, visiting Whitefield brought good memories. We were very fortunate to be allowed into Swami\'s residence "Trayee Brindavan". We sang bhajans and carnatic songs, heard a talk by Prof Ravikumar who shared his experiences with Swami in Brindavan and how all the boys longed for Swami\'s Darshan. Being inside Trayee Brindawan was an experience I will never forget. Visits to both super speciality hospitals, in Puttaparthi and Bangalore, was another highlight for all of us.

When we heard that our group will be performing a musical programme on 1st August, we were very excited. Our SSE children and Youth put together a very good programme, which was appreciated by all those assembled in Sai Kulwant hall. Radio Sai brothers worked hard to make sure every item was captured and photos taken. As we were due to end our pilgrimage the next day, they made sure DVD copies and photos were ready for us to collect. A big thanks for the Radio Sai team. As all good things must come to an end, our pilgrimage too came to an end on 2nd August. All of us left within few days with good memories and stories to tell.

Looking forward to the next UK pilgrimage. Dearest Swamy! Thank you for giving us the opportunity to visit Your abode.

Yoges Yogendran
Regional Chairperson
Region 1, SSSSO UK

"Love my Uncertainty"

A quote we are all too familiar with, but at the same time hardly ever ready to accept! Whatever the reasons for me attending this pilgrimage, I have no idea, but one thing is for sure - I have full faith and belief, that Bhagawan willed for me to be there!

It is often said, that unless Bhagawan wills, we will not enter the portals of Prasanthi Nilayam, for it is His will alone that determines the movement of even a single blade of grass! Such was my desire to be there, and a growing desire at that! But at the same time, the fear of \'going against one’s duty\', and disappointing those around me hung over my shoulder, for I was meant to attend a funeral during this very same period; in fact, as it turned out later, on the very day of our musical offering in Prasanthi Nilayam. I prayed fervently to dearest Bhagawan for guidance, and soon, as if the shackles were broken, my mind was made up! Immediately I booked my tickets, and within two days, I saw myself boarding a flight to India - my prayers had been answered!

We go on pilgrimages for various reason; performances, as was most definitely the case for me, and we were indeed blessed with bountiful opportunities of performing inside Trayee Brindavan, as well Sai Kulwant Hall; service activities; conferences; and such other reasons whatever these may be. But I have always believed, and still do till this day, that these are mere \'excuses\' conjured up by our Beloved Lord, as a means to \'attract\' us, to His Divine Lotus Feet. For, it is there in the presence of Bhagawan where the actual work is taking place - where He is reforming us, changing us, where the \'seeds\' are being planted.

On the final day of our Pilgrimage, one devotee commented that the actual \'Pilgrimage\' begins for us now, upon our return to the UK, for this is where the true journey begins… where the true tests emerge. I pray to our Beloved Bhagawan, that may He continue to guide us, and shower upon us, His most choicest and bountiful of blessings.

Kapil Dev Parasher
Youth Coordinator,
Region 3, SSSSO UK

Abode of Peace – Sai Samarpanam - UK Trip to Prashanthi 2014

Our trip this year to Prashanthi has left me in a bit of a daze. I’m still not quite sure if it was real or just a beautiful dream! Although I was travelling on my own, in charge of my son, my daughter and two of our Sai youth, I felt no stress and no strain. Swami ensured that the path was smooth for us to return to His home, and He welcomed us, His children, with open arms, and showered us with His Grace.

Because of commitments at home, we were only able to join the UK group two days after it had officially started. So we joined them when they came to Bangalore for a planned two day visit to Brindavan, Swami’s Ashram in Whitefield. Immediately it felt like being part of one family. Many beloved and familiar faces were there, and many new faces also, who welcomed us with open hearts and huge smiles, making us feel at home straight away. The nice thing was that, because it was a small group, we had that feeling of immediate closeness - a shared wish to dive deeper into our beloved Lord’s ocean of Love.

At Brindavan, this feeling of love was carried through by the sevadal in Sri Sathya Sai Gokulam, who organised our accommodation, and cooked and served food to our group with such humility and dedication – true love in action! We were also blessed to have Dr Sanjay Sahni, Director of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (Brindavan Campus), who spent most of the day with us, sharing His wonderful experiences of Swami and taking us on a personal tour of the campus. Visiting the Super-speciality Hospital in Whitefield was so inspiring, seeing so many of India’s poorest people being given the best that modern medicine can provide, free of charge, served by medical staff and volunteers who lived and breathed Swami’s message. But the most special part of the trip was that evening, when we were given the unique privilege of going into Trayee Brindavan, Swami’s actual residence in Brindavan and have some of the youth in our group perform a carnatic programme there. I had been privileged to be there once before - in 1994, when Swami had called our group for an Interview after the children had performed Sai Mahima 1 in the Kalyana Mandapam and then in the Sai Ramesh Hall. Memories of that wonderful time came flooding back – of the performances, the Interview and of our divine Lord so happy and caring, showering His Grace upon us all. And tears of gratitude started flowing from my eyes, as my own children were now sharing in this divine experience. Sundaraamma was blessed to sing a Telugu Carnatic piece in the place that our Lord had walked and talked with His closest of devotees, and we could truly feel His presence there - even looking up to see if He might suddenly appear from one of the many carved wooden doors on the upper floor as Sister Vidyulatha talked of her experiences with Swami as a young girl living in Brindavan and Brother Ravikumar (Warden of the Campus) shared His own delightful experiences with Swami.

Early next morning, memories of our group going into the vastness of the Sai Ramesh Hall, to sing the Suprabatham and then doing Nagarsankirtan whilst walking around Trayee, will stay fresh in my mind and in my heart, as will the rest of the trip in Prashanthi.

Seeing our children performing for Swami in the Sai Kulwant Hall was a profoundly joyful and emotional experience. But to be truthful, everyday of the UK pilgrimage was such. For myself, my son and my daughter, this was the first time we had been back to Prashanthi after Swami’s Samadhi. And we wondered if anything had changed. In a way, it was even more profound, because the crowds were less and there was no hysteria or mad scrambling to get a glimpse of our beloved Lord. It allowed us time to truly feel His divine spiritual presence, to meditate and feel the power of Love that emanated in waves from the Samadhi. And it allowed us time to really ponder and internalise all that had come before - all the wonderful memories that are wrapped up in this beautiful, divine place – Swami’s physical home on earth.

In my heart, I had felt that for more than a decade before, our Beloved Mother had been preparing us for this time. His “illnesses” were part of His message – showing us how we should react to disease and illness in our own and our family’s lives. For years, he had been showing us, through His own example, that we should not be attached to the body, to the physical form (even His!) and encouraged us to look within to find the true Reality, to feel His spiritual presence around us, guiding us in everything that we would think, say or do. And Swami had sent some of His most beloved Sai Students to the UK, many years before He left His physical body, to help His UK devotees through the difficult time of loss of His physical form that was to come. Their presence in the UK, their presence within the organisation, was the salve that was needed to heal our bruised and broken hearts. Their memories and experiences of almost daily contact with Swami helped to strengthen us and kept our memories alive and current. And the fact that they have taken leadership roles within our Sai centres and within the Council have brought us that steadiness of faith and trust that will ensure that our belief and faith in Swami will continue to grow and stay true to the principals that He taught us.

It was His beloved students that took the leadership of this small and wonderful group and took us back to the final resting place of our Lord’s physical form. They gave us daily food for the mind, with inspiring talks, organised visits to institutions that Swami had created and blessed with His presence, and introduced us to many inspiring Sai devotees. The young singers and musicians in our group were able to meet some of Swami’s students who sang daily bhajans to Him and they were inspired by their absolute faith in Swami, their advice about looking after their voices and about singing and accompanying bhajans, and we met many wonderful souls who have dedicated their lives completely to helping the most poor and vulnerable people in society. We left Prashanthi with hearts full of joy, with love and gratitude to our Beloved Sai Mother, who had cleansed us of all our worries, allowed us to bathe in unconditional love, and sent us back into the world, carrying with us these precious and joyful memories of our trip to our beloved Swami’s Abode of Peace.

Mrs. Geetha Maheshwaran
London

I Felt Connected!

My experience from the Prasanthi Nilayam UK Pilgrimage 2014 is one that I will never be able to forget. I fully appreciate the privilege of being able to represent the United Kingdom at Prasanthi Nilayam, and very grateful that I was able to spend 2 weeks in the presence of the divine. It was also an opportunity for me to reflect and realise that I have a very long way to go on my spiritual path, and being one with Sai.

There was a very unified, and cohesive feeling amongst all of the brother, sisters, aunties and uncles who were a part of the UK Pilgrim group. It was also very warming and reassuring to know that everyone respected each other, and were all there for the same reason - to surrender ourselves to Swami.

I felt blessed to have the opportunity to listen to various devotees of Swami talk about their experiences with Him. Their experiences allowed me to gain an insight into what life with Swami was like! The incredible details excited me and constantly pushed me to want to hear more.

The two day trip to Brindavan, Whitefield, was incredibly hectic, but fun and inspiring as we visited Swami\'s home (Trayee Brindavan), the Super Specialty Hospital, and Old people\'s home amongst other locations. I experienced many different feelings, of love, compassion, inspiration, service etc., but above all I felt connected with Sai and with those around. I felt very emotional as we heard stories about Swami\'s life whilst sitting in his home, and as we watched a short documentary about a girl whose life was saved at the hospital.

Overall, my time spent in Prasanthi Nilayam was blissful and allowed me to re-energize myself, ready to tackle my last year at college, and made me realise that my spiritual journey has only just begun...

Rajan Bhagwandas
Youth, London

A Divine Trip

Sai Samarpan 2014 – What a Divine trip, what a Divine stay at the Sacred abode of our beloved Bhagawan! Every day was full of surprises, full of Love and blessings and spiritual vibrations. Various guest speakers brought their own valuable experiences with Swami and shared with us Divine lessons they had in their life through Swami. I feel blessed to have met some of the closest devotees of Swami.

Super Speciality Hospital, Prasanthi Gram

Being in the mandir for Vedas and bhajans every morning and evening is a very unique and valuable moment, where the Supreme presence and Love of Swami can be felt. The absence of His physical presence is in no way modifying the energy there. The same feeling is experienced and the same happiness is lived. Living that, I realised, even more than before, that Swami is present everywhere. Not as a body, not as something defined, but as a permanent and immanent Divine Principle. His Love and blessings can be felt everywhere at every moment. When I was in the mandir, it hit my mind that I have exactly the same feeling when I am in the Sai Centre in Leicester. Exactly the same loving presence can be felt! He is part of us, part of everything, and once we become fully and permanently conscious of this, our vision of life and way of living our life will be always led by this awareness and will hence always be on a pure basis.

Finally, Swami gave us the Divine opportunity to sit at the Feet of His Mahasamadhi for a while during the performance of our group. This was such a blessing. His Presence could be felt. As per his words, as soon as two or three people gather to sing His glory, He is there, ‘sitting on His chair’.

I thank Swami from the bottom of my heart for this Divine trip and express my deepest gratitude for His constant Love, Protection and blessings.

Marine Aufranc
Leicester, UK

The Saga of Love...

The last time that I went to Prashanthi was with my family in December 2010, when Swami was in His physical form, and I was blessed to sing in His Divine Presence as part of the International Children’s Christmas Choir. But four years later, I decided I should take another trip. My sister was due to perform in the cultural programme with the National UK Pilgrimage, so I thought that I should come as well, as I had finished all my exams and wanted to give my thanks to our Lord. However, this time it was different. With Swami no longer being in His Physical Form, the crowds of devotees were much less and the atmosphere felt different - but in a way also the same as in previous visits. I felt His presence everywhere. He soothed my heart and took away any worries and concerns I had for the future.

So, whilst my sister was practicing for her performance, I decided that I should offer my help wherever it was needed. One of these opportunities came when I had the privilege of working after hours in the Western canteen. Whilst working there, it made me realise the enormous effort that goes into preparing the food that arrives after morning darshan. It took nearly 3 hours to sweep, clean, wash down the tables, mop the floors and sanitise the kitchen so that everything would be clean and fresh for the morning. What I couldn’t believe is that volunteers did this every evening, in order for us to enjoy fresh cooked and sathwic food prepared and served with love to Swami’s devotees every day. I knew then, deep within my heart, that the saga of divine love, of Swami\'s Love, carries on as strongly and sweetly as ever before!

Saiganesh Mahesh - Merton

Thank You Swami

This was my first visit to Prashanti since Swami left His physical form and I was extremely fortunate to have gone with the UK Pilgrimage. In my opinion the highlight of the trip was the day we spent in Brindavan where we visited Swami’s college and Ramesh Hall. In addition we had the opportunity to not only go inside Swami’s Residence, Trayee Brindavan, but also perform. As I sang I could truly feel His presence and words cannot describe the immense happiness it brought me. Furthermore I had the opportunity to sing in front of His Samadhi and I am eternally grateful to Swami for having blessed us with such a wonderful and unforgettable trip.

Sai Sharanya - Merton

Journey to Spirituality

Swami has told us many times that He has hand chosen each and every one of us who are riding on this journey to spirituality. However the ride will continuously be filled with challenges. This recent trip to Prashanthi was no different. I had no intentions of going to spend time with my beloved Guru this year, as I have tied myself up with various work commitments, but He clearly had other plans for me. One week before the UK group was to meet in Parthi, I received a call, asking whether I can come and play Mrithangam. I gave a few other names to try, but all the other options were physically not able to be in Prashanthi on time. This began to make me feel as though Swami is directly calling me to His humble abode. Therefore I eventually decided that I could spend the following week preparing at work to be away for a week. With His divine grace, I was in Brindavan His very own playground a week after securing my flight.

Statue of Lord Ganesha in Brindavan couldn't be lifted and was therefore left in current location after Swami's instructions

Just like I said two years ago, experiencing Swami’s places of residence with the guidance of UK’s very own direct products of Swami’s teachings; Kiran Uncle and Veeru Bhai, we were blessed with opportunities that we could only dream about if we were to visit these places on our own. Not only did we get a personal tour of the Brindavan campus, but we also had the rare opportunity to perform in the divine abode Trayee Brindavan. We also managed to squeeze into the day a beautiful visit to the most stunningly produced hospitals (Super Speciality Hospital, Bangalore) in the world. We were also graced with the opportunity to meet the lovely residents of the Sri Sathya Sai nursing home.

The next day, we went to Prashanthi. Just like always it immediately felt like being back at home with the Divine Mother. As soon as I enter through the gates, I instantaneously feel the tranquility resonating through my body. Which also leads to the mind clearing up all the petty worries which burden us from back in UK. Which made me recall an experience that was narrated to us about a devotee from Dr Volety at the Super Speciality Hospital. Swami once materialized a ring and asked the devotee “What colours are here?” The devotee replied “Green and Gold Swami.” Swami, then went on to reveal that the green emerald symbolises peace. Swami also said that He cannot give a ring to all his devotees, therefore in the Kulwant hall, Swami made the whole ceiling green and gold, so that all the devotees can experience peace and can get rid of all their worries when they come to attain His divine darshan.

During our time in Parthi, there were two main things that stood out the most. Obviously at the top is performing directly in front of the Samadhi again. Which is always a wonderful pleasure to perform on the largest stage in the world. Only a very few people can say they have performed to thousands of people in front of God himself. The second memorable moment was meeting kids from an orphanage, who made each and everyone of us in the UK group feel inadequate by the sheer power, and talent of all the young children reciting Vedams, Poems, Shakespeare and many more other challenging performances, with so much ease.

However like I mentioned at the beginning, Our dear Lord had called me for some reason. It could very well be in order for me to merely experience the presence of His divine soul with the UK group, or He may have called me for something that will unravel in the near or not so near future. But either way, for whatever reason He had called me, I will always eagerly await for the next time He decides to present His omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience to me. In the meantime, I’ll continue to serve Him with my whole heart knowing that it is by doing His work that helps me to develop and progress further in everything else that I endeavor to do.

Saiganesh – Wimbledon

A Dream Come True

With Swami’s grace, I was fortunate to participate in the National UK Pilgrimage with the theme Sai Samparnam -One with Sai. During the week, we visited several places which include Sai Ramesh Hall in Brindavan, Trayee Brindavan, Super Specialty hospitals, Orphanage and an Elderly care home. One of the highlights of our trip was visiting Swami’s Divine Residence – Trayee Brindavan, where I was given the opportunity to play the violin. As I was playing Thygarajah’s kriti, I could feel Swami’s Presence and I felt as though He was playing through me for the entire piece. This was truly a blessing of a lifetime! From a young age, it has always been my dream to perform in Prashanti and this year, I was given the wonderful opportunity to sing and play the violin in front of the Samadhi. Swami says ‘What I will must take place; what I plan must succeed’. It was his Will that we performed and I will always be thankful to Swami for fulfilling my dream.

Tharsica Sivagnanasithiyar - Merton

My Soul Wept with Joy!

This was my second visit to Prashanthi Nilayam after Swami’s Maha Samadhi. Preparation for the Pilgrimage had started months before in UK and pilgrimage Sadhana activities had tuned our thoughts and minds to prepare to receive his Grace. For me I felt at Home the moment I landed in Prashanthi Nilayam. Right from my young age I had travelled there from my home town in Kerala, India, usually in the month of August – September for the festival of Onam, and each visit surprised me with new developments and the changing landscapes of Prashanthi Nilayam. But the core discipline and routine of the Ashram had always remained the same and even after several years, even now in this trip, I felt the same!

Sitting in the Kulwant Hall as I closed my eyes to meditate when the Vedic chants started, the excitement and expectation in me, in anticipation of Swami’s Darshan any moment, was very strong indeed! And I found that this aided my meditation, with the Presence of Swami felt very strongly with in.

Story of Gokulum narrated by Sri Sahni - Director, SSSIHL, Brindavan Campus

As I queued for the Maha Samadhi Darshan with Sai Gayathri chants reverberating in the air, His presence was felt stronger, reminding me of his promise that ‘His Samadhi will speak to His devotees’. When my head rested on the marble floor of the Samadhi , I felt very light , the same feeling when I had taken Swami’s Paadanamaskaram . Although my mind wept longing for his physical presence, my soul wept in Joy reconnecting with him!

The daily talks to our group by people who had interacted with Swami at close quarters, and holding various senior positions in Swami’s University, Ashram, Trust and the Organisation added to the richness of the experience. They conveyed the essence of Swami’s teachings in the most practical terms sharing a lot of their personal experiences with Swami.

Tears of Amrut emanating from Goddess Saraswati few days before in Brindavan

Perhaps the highlight of the trip was the visit to Brindavan and the ‘Trayee session’. We travelled to Brindavan in Coach from Puttaparthi. Sri Sanjay Sahni sir, Director of the Brindaavan Campus received us, and after making sure we were all fed and accommodation sorted, Sri Sahni sir took us on a guided tour of Brindavan – Sai Ramesh Hall, Kalyanmandapam, Trayee and Institute campus where we were treated with a brief presentation about ‘Trayee’. Following a visit to Swami’s Super speciality hospital in Bangalore and the Old people’s Home started by Swami, we rushed back for the ‘Trayee session’ in the evening. We were so fortunate to step in to the residence of Swami! An experience beyond description! Our group sang Bhajans in Trayee, and after Arathi we got the opportunity to do Namaskar. Swami’s presence was very much felt there. We were then given Vibhoothi packets taken from the ‘Red basket’ from which Swami used to distribute Vibhoothi to devotees. Following Suprabatham and Nagarasankirthanam next morning , we travelled back to Prashanthi Nilayam.

On 1st August, our UK group dedicated a musical performance in front of Swami in the Sai Kulawant hall. A fascinating performance by SSE children and the Youth! Our Pilgrimage came to an end on 2nd August. Now back in UK, totally recharged, I am re-living the experience I had in Prashanthi Nilayam until the next Pilgrimage in December 2015!

Jai Sai Ram
Dr. Rakendu Suren
National Spiritual Coordinator,
SSSSO UK

Swami had hit 6 sixes in the cricket ground seen behind in Brindavan - Time for of reflection in Sai Ramesh Hall, Brindavan

UK Sathsangs with Prof. Nanjundaiah‏

Wednesday 27th August, 7.30pm - 8.30pm

Soar Valley College, Gleneagles Avenue, LE4 7GY
Leicester
Contact Narendra Mistry 07714825249

Monday 1st September, 7pm- 8.30pm

Winwick Leisure Centre,
Myddleton Lane
Warrington WA2 8LQ
Contact Kailash Venkat 07841354590
Please click the link below to watch the live streaming from the event in Warrington -
https://new.livestream.com/SSSSOUK/profnanjundaiah-r5

Wednesday 3rd September, 7pm-8pm

Birmingham, Venue TBC
Contact Narendra Mistry 07714825249

Thursday 4th September, 7pm- 8.30pm

Oxheywood Primary School,
Oxhey Drive, South Oxhey
Watford, London WD19 7SL
Contact Senthil Kumarathevan 07984792105

Saturday 6th September, 7pm-8.30pm

Copthall School ,Pursley Road
Mill Hill, London NW7 2EP
Contact Sam Sambanthan 07740605306

Sunday 7th September, 10.15am- 11.45am

Fircroft Primary School, Fircroft Road,
Tooting, London SW17 7PP
Contact Yoges Yogendran 07713161832

Region 1 - Eid ul-Fitr celebration at Brixton Sai Centre

The Sathya Sai Baba Centre of Brixton congregated at Norbury Manor on Sunday 27th July to celebrate the auspicious occasion of Eid ul-Fitr, marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. With the divine blessings of Swami, we had the opportunity to observe the occasion once again with our Muslim brothers and sisters who came to visit us from the Hyderi Islamic Centre, a local Madrassah (Islamic school).

We commenced the celebration as per normal with multi-faith prayers, including al-Fatihah, the first verse of the Holy Koran in which we both praise God and ask him for His guidance on the right path. We sang multi-faith devotional songs, which all referred to the name of Allah. It was truly spiritually uplifting as different faiths joined hands together to mark the occasion.

Brother Mohamed Raza Walji, Principal of Hyderi Islamic School and Sister Rummana Kazmi, a spiritual facilitator for the Muslim community, shared their experiences and the meaning of Ramadan. Sister Rummana explained that ‘Ramadan’ comes from a Sanskrit word meaning to meditate, to bring an awareness of the light that shines in our heart and to connect to the inner core of our creation. The benefits from fasting are for us to gain piety, be conscious of our inner voice, and spring-clean our soul. She further informed that psychologists say, ‘If we can restrain and control hunger, we can control anything.‘ The month of fasting gives the opportunity to control the senses, to refrain from this material world and to attain the ultimate goal of divinity by praying, not hurting anyone, or gossiping about others by speech or thought. The day of Eid is a celebration, but also a test of the break from this controlled regime during the month of Ramadan: such self-control should also continue after Ramadan. The real celebration of Eid is how much success we make in this journey from evil to good.

The talk also identified some similarities with Hinduism. Sister Rummana noted that, in 2008, both Eid al-Adha and Geeta Jayanti came about the same time; and both occasions are about sacrificing your loved ones: Arjuna in the Bhagavad Geeta was asked to go to the battlefield and face his family; and Ibrahim (Abraham) was asked to sacrifice his son. These two examples show us that faith and surrender is the way to unify with God and that self-discipline is the real path towards God.

Sister Rummana concluded her talk with a quote, ‘Mutual respect and love is across all diverse communities. We need to learn that these qualities will enable us to come and serve one another.’ Swami himself has expressed this many times as, ‘Love All Serve All.’

In the evening, around twenty members from Brixton Sai Centre attended ‘The Big Iftar’ at the Hyderi Islamic Centre in Streatham. The Big Iftar is a national initiative promoting neighbourliness, strengthening of community relations and sharing. Mosques, community centres and places of worship come together and share ‘iftar’ (the evening meal that breaks the fast) during Ramadan, by inviting friends and neighbours from different faiths and ethnicities. There were speakers from different faiths, including a Christian priest and a Jewish rabbi, a local councillor and a local Muslim police officer.

By using the occasion of the centenary of the start of World War One to discuss whether religion can be a force for peace, the evening aimed to bring universal peace by sharing our friendship and growing spiritually together with mutual respect regardless of religion, race, nationality, caste, creed or sect, which is exactly the divine teaching of Swami. Some significant figures in history were mentioned such as Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Pope John Paul II, all of whom preached human rights and freedom through non-violence.

After the talks, evening prayers were held, before the ‘iftar’ was served. Sumptuous vegetarian food had been specially made for Sai Centre attendees and was lovingly served.

To summarise a day that touched us all, here is an extract from the teachings of our Beloved Swami:

"There is an urgent need for harmony. All great people are images of God. They form one single caste in the realm of God; they belong to one nation, the divine Fellowship. Each must interest himself in understanding the practices and beliefs of the others. Then only can everyone, with cleansed mind and loving heart, attain the divine presence with others. The principle of harmonising is the very heart of all religions and faiths."

Sutra Vahini, Chapter 4
Amrita Issory

Region 1 - Guru Poorinma 2014 Celebrations

Jai Sai Ram

Lewisham Sivan Temple Hall was the venue for this year’s Regional Guru Poorinma Celebrations, hosted by the Bromely Sai Centre with the support of the Regional Team and other centres and groups on the 20th July 2014. The evening was very hot, but this did not stop us celebrating with our Lord.

The altar was majestic in appearance as the audience sat in anticipation of the events of the evening.

The programme commenced with the traditional lighting of the lamps, followed by Vedic and Guru Stotram prayers which were accompanied by Darshan clips of our Beloved Swami projected for all to see. The evening then proceeded with Guru Bhajans which were well supported by the congregation and truly felt like we were in Prashanthi with Swami sitting on his chair with us.

Bromley’s SSE children then sang 3 hymns; they sang their hearts out and it was fantastic to see some of the younger children, who are under the age of 10, singing solo verses with smiles on their faces.

The celebrations continued with our Honoured Guest Speaker Brother Prem Anosh one of Swami’s Students who spoke about his experiences with Swami along with the importance of Guru Poornima. Hearing about Swami’s games that he would play with the students was both entertaining and thought provoking.

The celebrations continued with a Youth Musical Item. The two singers, Sister Mathurini and Brother Sharavanan, recollected how the last time they had sung together was in the Divine presence of our Beloved Swami in Prasanthi Nilayam over 16 years ago, as part of the UK group – Sai Mahimaa 3. Both singers were accompanied by tabla players, Brother Sankar and myself, from the centre. A mixture of classical Bhajans and Karanatic songs followed that were well appreciated by all.

A clip of one of Bhagwan’s previous Guru Poornima discourses was played, followed by the concluding prayers and Aarathi. The final bhajan being in praise of Lord Siva, was appropriate and pleasing to all present, given that our celebrations were taking place in the shadow of the splendid Sivan Temple Tower.

The evening was a great success with the overall feeling of Swami’s presence being felt; devotees left with a sense of renewed energy, peace and joy to reflect on our Lord’s innumerable spiritual messages.

Jai Sai Ram
Saish Balakrishnan
Youth Convenor Bromley Sai Centre

Region 1 - Merton Sai Centre Easwaramma Day Celebrations

The Merton Sai Centre celebrated Easwaramma Day on Sunday 4th May 2014. The stage in the main auditorium of the school was neatly decorated with Swami’s picture and Mother Easwaramma’s picture on either ides. Swami’s chair was placed right at the front of the hall facing the stage. All devotees, including parents and teachers, were seated in the hall while the children were getting ready backstage.

After months of preparation and practice, the SSE children sang bhajans and participated in short plays as an offering of their love to Swami. The afternoon began with an offering of six bhajans by the nursery groups. This was then followed by a play on the life and teachings of our beloved Bhagavan by Group I boys. The play depicted various incidents from Swami’s primary school days.

Next, the girls from Group I presented a play on Hanuman, the messenger. They illustrated the strength of Hanuman’s devotion and love for Lord Rama, highlighting his one-pointed determination.

The girls of Groups II and III followed with a play, which was previously presented in the Divine presence at Prashanti Nilayam. Entitled, ‘Good work is God’s work’, the play narrated the story of two young alumni of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute whose good work was transformed into God’s work despite the girls undergoing many trials and tribulations.

The final presentation was offered by the boys of Groups II and III. The play entitled, ‘Maya to Master”, recounted the life of Mother Easwaramma describing her journey from being under the spell of maya, seeing Swami as her little son, to realising the Master and reaching the ultimate goal.

The day commemorating and celebrating the life of the Divine Mother was concluded with the offering of Mangala Arati and prasadam.

Saiesha - Merton Youth

Region 1 - Young Adult Programme

YAP in Region 1 has been revamped.

YAP has been taking place in Region 1 for many years now. Each month, on 3rd Friday of the month; we have picked a topic that we want to discuss, discuss Sai literature that is relevant to the Youth or conduct a service activity. This format worked well for the youth who were able to attend regularly. However, there were various limitations by having it at this time. We were constrained to predominantly plan 2 hour indoor activities such as study circles, and were compromising on attendance due to work commitments for some who wanted to come but couldn’t as it was a working day.

We also realised that we were only getting a small percentage of youth attending YAP compared to the number of youth we actually have within the Region. The Region 1 youth committee decided the need to unify and energise all the youth in the Region and so something that will attract many youth to come. The initial idea was to have a Regional Youth Conference over a weekend. However, after much discussion and guidance from experienced confidence; we realised that this was not necessarily the only option. All around the world youth have tried this method, but have not achieved the lasting result of increasing the number of youth attending regularly. The way in which the Youth think and behave, would only provide a short burst of a spiritual recharge with a conference. We identified the best method to attract the non-active youth, would be to have more appealing activities at more regular intervals. Therefore this led to us deciding to change our YAP sessions to the third Saturday of the month, opening more doors to a much wider range of activities that we could do and plan activities that can be done at any time during the day / all day events.

We also felt that another reason why youth were not coming to events, was because they usually prefer to “relax” during “free time”, or partake in a more sociable activity with friends or spend time with families. Therefore the Region 1 youth committee decided, we had to come up with activities in which we could synergise this with spirituality. We also felt that the best way to introduce this new initiative would be to instil the idea that, the activity would feel like something they would plan to do on their days off from work. However by doing these activities with other Sai Youth, they will be surrounded with spiritually minded people, be in good company and will have the opportunity to talk about spiritual topics and the chance to discuss their everyday spiritual challenges with like-minded youth, who are all trying to tackle these same challenges using the beautiful teachings laid down by our Bhagawan.

After a lot of consideration, we decided to arrange a surprise trip to Longleat Safari. We told all the youth that we will be going on a day outing, but didn\'t tell them where we were going until we were on our way to the Safari. As Swami always made sure we experienced how to love his uncertainty, we decided to replicate that same feeling in the region 1 youth. As it was a 2 and half hour drive to get there; each car (5 in total) was split deliberately by separating the youth into cars with youth from different centres in the Region. Icebreaker games were set as well as topics for discussion, resulting in each car having a 2 hour study circle and sharing of Sai experiences. This was a great way of youth from different centres to bond with you in their Region.

When we got to the Safari, two of the sisters revealed that they were very scared of animals. However, as we were in the comfort of our cars and surrounded by good company, they were happy to continue on with the safari.

On the safari we saw some of the greatest animals that God has created. We saw various wild cats; Swami has countlessly told the Youth to lead like Lions. We also saw exactly what Swami has told us about the monkey mind and how destructive it could be, with four out of five of our cars experiencing some kind of damage by the meddlesome monkeys. Aptly, one car that experienced damage to its parking sensors by the monkeys, were discussing that to be a MasterMind one must master the monkey mind and control the senses! We saw many other beautiful animals that we don\'t usually have the opportunity to see or even get close to in the western world.

After the Safari, some youth had to get back home; however the rest of the youth wanted the day to continue, so we decided to drive to Cheddar Gorge, which wasn\'t too far from the Safari. This showed us another beauty created by the Lord. As it was late by the time we got there, we couldn\'t actually go inside the Gorge itself, but we could still appreciate the beauty of the mountainous area. Which also resulted to some light Bhajan singing at the top of a hill, which I’m sure was a prayer to those who gathered the courage from the lions to climb as high as they could on the rocky incline.

The day was highly enjoyed by all who were able to attend, and we were able to experience the beauty of so many different wild animals, and realised why Swami always loved animals, and constantly referred to animals when He was teaching us valuable lessons. It also gave us the opportunity to experience the teaching that we should see God in everything. A Safari is something we usually wouldn\'t relate to as being a spiritual day out. However it all comes down to what we want to take out from the day, everything that we do will always have some level of spirituality in it, sometimes we just need someone to point it out to us. If we begin to do this with everything we do, it will make that ultimate goal of thinking of God all the time every time that little bit easier.

Sai Ram
Ketheeswaran Saiganesh
Region 1 Youth Coordinator

Region 2 - Pinner Sai Centre Guru Poornima Celebrations

On the 13th of July 2014, Pinner Sai Centre hosted a divine celebration for Guru Poornima. Guru Poornima is a day filled with thanks for our loving teachers which our Lord Sai inspired us to do.

We started with the Vedam and then led on to the ksama prathna. We then performed a warm up exercise of srgm and akar to prepare us for the bhajan singing. This was followed by some awesome bhajans based on Guru which also included manase bhajore guru charanam which is the first bhajan Baba taught. The group bhajans Shiva maheshvara and veera hanumana were truly vibrational. Next was a presentation based on Babas childhood called ‘The Wise child’. This was about how Baba as our guru taught us that ‘’there is no religion greater than love in this world’’ followed by Guru – the last resort from chinakatta which was about how a guru leads us unto the path of liberation and saves us from fear and anxiety. The age range of children was 5 – 16 years.

This was a very helpful event because we have learnt how important it is to love and respect our gurus and we have learnt how lucky we are to have had Lord Sai on this planet to teach us and celebrate all the important events.

Thank you to all the gurus who have helped us do this event and helped us all through our lifetime.

Hiral Makecha
Pinner Sai Centre R2

Region 2 - Young Adults Programme: Nine Point Code of Conduct

On Saturday 28th June 2014, Region 2 Youth gathered for the Young Adult Programme (YAP). London West Sai Centre conducted and hosted this wonderful Satsang. The action-filled day commenced with Bhajans, which not only provided fantastic vibrations but also set the scene for the session. As quite a few youth attended this session, a short icebreaker allowed all youth to introduce themselves before starting the YAP session.

The Nine Point Code of Conduct has been laid down by our Beloved Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Therefore, to continue this theme, two points of the Nine Point Code of Conduct were to be discussed. These were as follows:

• Avoidance of talking ill of others, especially in their absence – Part One
• Participation in Sai Spiritual Education by children of the family – Part Two

Part One of the study circle started with a humorous sketch acted out by our Youth. The “observers” were able to see the unnecessary backbiting and gossiping. Questions and viewpoints were asked to these youth in order to establish what they could do differently in a particular scenario as well as how to approach a situation. These views were shared amogst all youth and this formed the basis of discussion. Our concept of “contagious cancer” was the main point of comparison with backbiting where there is human tendancy towards praise of onself and talking ill of others.

The six streams of emotions (Karma-desire; Krodha-anger; Lobha-greed; Moha-attachment; Ahanikara-ego) is where the backbiting originally eminates from. Swami has beautifully taught us how to overcome this problem of backbiting through His quote: WATCH. “Watch your Words, Actions, Thoughts, Character & Heart”. Swami ensures that our behaviour and character are developed for all life situations. Not only this, but we were gently reminded throughout the gathering that God is Omnipresent and ever-pervasive. Thus, as His children we must be a living example to practice HIS message.

This YAP day also gave us an opportunity to discuss other practical sadhana tips in the context of ill-talking of other:

• Excuse yourself from that place without lending your ears to such evil talk
• Situations where you cannot move from, then act as a pillar
• Sit and keep you tongue folded upp
• Be in Good Company only

Encompassed into this was self-enhancement tips:

• Dedicate enough time to improve yourself so that you have no time to criticise others
• Be selective in your words, sometimes silence is better than being right
• Speak the truth as those who know you will not mind.
• Before speaking there should be 4 gates:
o At the first gate ask yourself- “IS IT TRUE? “
o At the second gate ask – “IS IT NECESSARY?”
o At the third gate ask – “IS IT KIND?”
o At the fourth gate ask, - “WILL IT IMPROVE UPON THE SILENCE”
• Before trying to find faults in others and speaking ill of them, try to find your own weaknesses and correct those.

Part Two of the day commenced after a short lunch break: “Participation in Sai Spiritual Education by children of the family”. To initaite this part of the study circle, a short introduction on how Balvikas (SSE) was established 16th May 1964 was introduced. Lord Buddha also echoes Swami’s teaching on the importance to the periods of childhood and youth, providing clear guidance to parents and communities to raise children in a nurturing and unambiguous environment.

Lord Buddha teaches that seeds need water, manure and insecticides to keep pests off; likewise, through love, faith, devotional singing and the seeds of good teaching SSE children grow into trees of knowledge and yield the fruit of wisdom.

Swami has created this lovely nursery called Balvikas/SSE to see these children grow into mighty trees that provide beauty, fruits, nourishmnet, shade and rest. During this time at YAP, the important of Balvikas children being taught about all religions, singing bhajans, enacting plays and to follow Swami’s teachings ere delivered.
SSE teachers explained how youth should be able to teach religion to these children in a manner to prevent contradiction in their minds. Again, hatred must not be cultivated for any religion, conversely how one can become closer to God.

Through this they would cultivate habits of dicipline, for these alone ensures happiness – individually and socially; not forgetting that Swami is the divine gardener cultivating this beautiful garden. It was also emphasised that we, as Swami’s youth, should have the genuine urge and willingness to help SSE children imrove in their daily lives.

Swami also reminds us that we should surrender all that we have been given in this world to God – for it is only Him that has given us everything. The emphasis on Nishkam Karma is of high importance whereby youth were told that they should not expect any fruit for their actions. God is omnipresent afterall and will repay each and every one of us in the way that we deserve at the right time. We must keep good faith in our beloved Lord.

Swami incredibly describes that Our life is His message and therefore we should not waste the precious time that He has given us on this wordly planet in unnecessary acts of no value. To conclude this part of the study circle, we ended with: God is always watching over us and we should be careful in all that we do.

Vishal Paul,
London West Sai Centre Youth Co-ordinator, Region 2

Region 3 - Young Adults Programme: 9 Point Code of Conduct

Life - It is a word I have contemplated over a lot recently, yet if I asked to describe it, I would still struggle to give a straight-up answer. More to the point, any answer I could conjure up in my mind would present with it some resounding contradictions. You see, if the reality I perceive through my five senses were to dictate, then I would describe life in a way I imagine most people would – beautiful, encompassing everything I love and hold dear. However, I would just as easily be inclined to decorate ‘life’ with far less inspiring words too - unremarkable, ordinary and meaningless spring to mind!

Far from both the afore mentioned descriptions being little more than a bi-polar slur, what I am trying to poke at is the idea that we go through so many turns of ‘life’ that wouldn’t it be fair to say that ‘life’, by now, should feel fairly ordinary and unremarkable to us? To expand, what is so special about everything we regard as special in this life? The chances are, we have probably already experienced it countless times over from previous births! Being someone who has adopted the concept that “life” is an illusionary prison, barring our consciousness from higher planes of understanding, all of these ideas and questions leave one with a deep-seated dilemma: If life is to be deemed an ‘illusion’ how should one go about living it? How can I lift the inconveniently indiscernible veil over my eyes to experience the true nature of “life”- or to be more accurate, reality? Enter our beloved Guru, Swami, and the 9 point code of conduct He has given to us. Put simply, it is a list of various spiritual exercises (Sadhana) that He urges us, as devotees, to start practicing and implementing within our daily lives. For me, the beauty of this 9 point code lies in how innocently simple it is to understand, yet how challenging it is to follow on a daily basis! Personally, I see the 9 point code as an answer to the questions presented earlier about the nature of “life” and how I should be leading it.

Swami has been extremely kind and generous in giving us not one, but nine different modes of spiritual practice by which we can reach Him. So on paper, these codes should seem like an easy and enticing invitation to join Swami. Yet, as I have already suggested, implementing these codes within our daily lives is such a challenge. As such, it was both fortunate and inevitable that on 19th July 2014 I found myself, among twenty-four other youth, trying to dissect the inner connotations of Swami’s beautifully simple 9 point code and how we can apply these points in daily practice.

The event I am referring to is one of the many UK Region 3 YAP (Young Adult Programme) Satsangs that have already taken place this year – the theme: Swami’s 9 point code of conduct. The aim of these Satsangs is to discuss and debate the meaning of these codes of conduct as well as identify the issues that arise when trying to implement them in today’s society and tools to overcome these challenges.

The focus of this article is to report the events that took place at the most recent Satsang, hosted by the Youth of Luton Sai Centre. This particular Satsang was focussed on the 7th & 8th codes of conduct: “Speaking softly and lovingly with everyone with whom he/she comes into contact” & “Avoiding talking ill of others especially in their absence” respectfully – arguably two of the most difficult codes to practice at all times. The turnout for this event was highly encouraging with youth from centres across Region 3 (stretching from Ilford to Bedford) attending, all equipped with rousing levels of enthusiasm.

After a short Bhajan conducted by the Luton Youth a picture of the controversial, yet highly talented and in-form striker Luis Suarez was revealed to the congregation of youth and each was asked to give their sincere view on this particular individual. As expected, the answers were as diverse as they were conflicting. Some stated that, first and foremost, they saw him as a remarkable player. Others, including myself, labelled him as troubled and a cheat! What this ice-breaking exercise demonstrated was that it is very easy to hold negative perceptions about certain people, and as a result talking ill about them develops as an offshoot from this way of thinking. What was eventually agreed by all was that despite the bad press that could be spread about someone, like Suarez, we should look past these and instead see only the good in others. We pushed this conclusion even further to establish that what ill we wrongly see in others is but a reflection of the doubts one has about one’s self. Therefore, be happy and content with your being and naturally you can start to see nothing but the positivity in others too because, after all, we are all but the sparks of the same flame.

The next exercise looked in to the 8th code “Avoiding talking ill of others especially in their absence” in more depth. While talking about someone in the news, someone disconnected to us (Like Suarez in the example) is one thing, talking ill of the people we know on a personal level can create calamitous outcomes – and this is what the next exercise presented to the Satsang aimed to demonstrate. This exercise came in the form of a short drama choreographed by the gentlemen of the Luton Youth. The play highlighted the ease at which “gossip” can quickly spread and full-circle back to those involved breaking trust & friendship in equally grand proportions.

With the drama concluded the youth were split into 4 different groups and each were given a respective problem associated with the 8th code. Posters and pens were supplied to help the various groups illustrate their answers. While I could spend a lot of time explaining the answers given from each group, I would like to instead share the problem posed to the group I was a part of as a particularly thought-provoking and stimulating point was raised by a fellow brother which I would like to share. The problem posed to our group was ‘What are the consequences for the person who chooses to stick up for someone who has been talked ill about?’ If I was to ask you, the reader, to answer this very question now, I would be confident that the fair few of you brothers and sisters would come up with answers along the lines of “The person sticking up for the other is doing the right thing, but as a consequence of this they are leaving themselves open to possible ridicule themselves for siding with the minority” - This was most certainly the kind of answer that had come to my mind at the time. However a fellow member in the group stepped in and purported something similar to “Why is the word “consequence” (In the context of the initial question) preordained as a negative outcome?!” Indeed the word ‘consequence’, though universally understood as an outcome associated with unpleasantness, doesn’t necessarily have to be so! This thought in particular resonated within me and demonstrated that there is always room to find optimism, even where none may seem to exist. And it was with this that we started to come up with positive and optimistic outcomes for our tasked problem. After some discussion the four groups rejoined and expressed their answers to the posed questions, which were subsequently left open for further debate and discussion.

The second half of the Satsang focussed on the 7th code of conduct - “Speaking softly and lovingly with everyone with whom he comes into contact”. The way in which our group of 24 tackled this code’s ideals was in the more traditional form with simple discussion and debate! I feel I can speak for all the youth who took part at the Luton YAP session on the 19th July in saying it was a highly informative, constructive and enjoyable way to spend time.

At the beginning of this article I attempted to explain why the 9 point code of conduct given by Swami was so important for me personally – it helps in giving me a role and a focus to “life”, of which I am still essentially lacking in understanding! I believe that the 9 point code is as equally important for all the youth who were present at the YAP session, though their reasoning for its importance may be completely different to my own. Nonetheless we were all brought together by Swami’s teachings and in doing so my ideas have matured at a rate far beyond what I had anticipated. More important and fundamental is the fact that these sessions are thoroughly enjoyable. To work alongside youth from my centre as well as meet others from across the UK is a blessing and I feel very fortunate to be able to discuss matters important to me with other open-minded, imaginative and amusing individuals.

From what I understand, at least another two YAP sessions in Region 3 are set to take place before the close of this year, so for any youth interested, we would be delighted to see you there! I’d like to finish by thanking Aranee, the Luton Sai Youth Coordinator for all her strength and support and instilling the rest of the youth team: Luxmy, Niruba, Garry, Janaarthanan, Maiyuran, Aditi Prashanthan, Carthykejan and I with same passion and drive she has. Much of the success of the Luton YAP Sathsang was a direct result of her dedication and love so thank you on behalf of Luton. And thank you to all the youth who tackled the M1 on the 19th to reach us and partake in what was a fruitful and uplifting event.

Jai Sai Ram
Nirmalan Patkunan, on behalf of Luton Youth Wing

Region 4 - Leicester Central Youth Satsang

“Conversations with Sai”

On the blessed day of 26th July, the youth of Leicester conducted the first of four workshops called “Conversations with Sai”. The aim of the workshops is to bond together and improve ourselves to become ideal Sai youth by finding practical ways to deal with the common troubles of daily life. The first workshop was based around conquering vices (bad habits). The day started with a personal internal conversation with Swami, offering our chosen habits at his lotus feet.

A study circle commenced with the discussion of what vices are and why they are bad for us. We established that anything that holds us back from progressing in life spiritually or practically can be categorised as vice. This includes qualities such as anger, jealousy, an excess of a particular activity (e.g watching TV for a prolonged period of time).

How do these vices impact us? They cloud our mind and our discrimination power therefore inhibiting personal and spiritual progress.

We then moved on to practical ways of attempting to decrease our vices and tame them. We established that there needs to be a balance. No one is completely void of bad habits, but they can be kept under control and curbed by increasing our good habits.

We each discussed what habit we would like to give up and how we were going to apply what we have learned today. We shared ways in which we have already curbed a bad habit. For example, in this day and age, we are surrounded by social networking. The moment we wake up, the first thing most people do is check Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat etc. How do we stop ourselves from doing this and increasing our productivity during the day? One youth decided to counteract social networking with technology by finding a program which prevents you from checking the site and in turn encourages you to do something productive with your time. Counteracting technology with technology.

Swami gives a brilliant example of how to counter act our bad habit. Swami had given an interview to some of the teachers from the Brindavan campus. The Mathematics teacher asked whether a habit should be given up all at once or little by little. Swami replied “Suppose you think you are holding a rope in your hand. Suddenly you look at it and realize that it is a snake! Will you release it little by little or drop it all at once?"

The teacher was not satisfied with this answer and asked further “Bad habits do not go away so easily. What can be done?”

Swami then sought around the interview room for an empty envelope which he rolled up and then released it in his hand to reveal a curved envelope. Swami then asked the group “ How will you straighten this?”

Everyone awaited Swami for an answer. Swami then rolled the envelope the other way and revealed the envelope as straight.

Swami simply said, “To remove a bad habit, start a new countering good habit.”

The session ended with a small talk from Madhu Aunty Parmar who described Prashanti Nilayam before Sai Kulwant hall was built and the interaction Swami would have with his devotees. It was an insightful and inspiring talk which encouraged us further to develop as Ideal Sai Youth and make our dear Swami proud.

Further to our first session, as Shravan month has started, the Leicester Youth decided to maintain a sadhana for the month. The book “Krishna-Arjuna Dialogue: Gita for Young Adults” was voted as the literature to read everyday as this book gives us practical and spiritual knowledge on how to develop as individuals. Needless to say, the first few weeks have been thought provoking for us all and we look forward to our next session.

Sai Ram.
Nirali Sisodia
Leicester Central Youth Coordinator

Sow an action, reap a tendency; Sow a tendency, reap a habit; Sow a habit, reap a character; Sow a character, reap a destiny.

Region 5 - Guru Poornima Celebration: A Youth Perspective

Om Sri Sai Ram

The morning had finally arrived and rays of sunshine shone through the slits of the curtain, waking me up for what promised to be fantastic day. Opening the curtains further, there in the sky was the effulgent sun in all its glory, providing light for us all. Today was the celebration of Guru Poornima and with that in mind, I looked up into the sky and asked Swami a question. “Swami, you are my mother, my father and my guru. In the Gayatri manthra, you say, that you are that vivifying power, love, radiant illumination, and divine grace of universal intelligence. Swami, will you therefore, as my guru, teach me some important lessons and I pray for the divine light to illumine my mind.”

Lesson no. 1: As I reached the venue in Sandbach, a single yawn slipped away. Walking into the main hall, I stood for seconds in awe. Everything was set up and ready. Devotees had travelled from near and far to set up the beautifully breath-taking altar which covered the entire stage, creating the perfect setting for devotees to bask in the glory of the Lord from anywhere in the hall. The SITA team had clearly been very hard at work, as all the electronics and visual equipment had been set up and was ready to go. Even the catering team had come in early and prepared a wonderful breakfast for the devotees. People rushing here, people rushing there, and here I stood in a stand still looking at the beautiful altar. Needless to say, I knew my lesson was to stop yawning and get helping out in any way I could. Baba says “Constant work in loving service to others covers the seeds of past sinful and harmful actions, so that they die away and do not grow into a new round of misery.”

Lesson no. 2: The programme had the title “Nava Rathna Mala- a day of devotion filled with music and stories”. It focussed on the 9 forms of devotion. Namely, Shravanam, Keerthanam, Vishnusmaranam, Padasevanam, Archanam, Vandanam, Daasyam, Sakhyam and Atmanivedanam. Each centre had been given a single form and been given the task of expressing this form, in a short performance. Before this celebration, these words might as well have been from another planet because I had no clue what each of them meant. I could maybe have guessed a couple, but really, I was very lost. This was Swami’s subtle mini lesson for me to read more books to expand my spiritual knowledge. Each and every centre had worked so hard to portray the form of devotion in an exciting and enthralling way. Every performance was unique and outstanding in conveying the message of the Lord. From the opening performance of songs with an accompanying guitar to the strike of a dancers anklets as her foot hit the floor, we needed only to close our eyes to be transported to a campfire setting singing the glories of the Lord to the majestic halls of Prasanthi, where girls would perform Bharathanatiyam with grace and beauty. SSE children teamed with adults in teaching the importance of Archanam, tales of Radha were brought to life with exciting and innovative modern twists and lessons of a yogi were conveyed with the use of exquisite props and costumes. All the performances were lessons in themselves, but the unity and teamwork that had been put in, delivered outstanding performances. Our dear Bhagawan says, “The mind sees separateness, LOVE sees unity.”

Lesson no. 3: Whether it be a single strum of the guitar, a mellow note from the flute or the strong strike as a finger makes contact with the tabla, the musical melodies of the day proved to be a real highlight. Devotees were entranced by a medley of songs from various religions and a Qawwalli that set the halls ambiance on fire. In the words of our dear loving Baba, “Let the different faiths exist, let them flourish; let the glory of God be sung in all languages in a variety of tunes. That should be the ideal.” There are so many forms of devotion, so many ways of reaching Bhagawan. One need only remember “There is only one religion; the religion of Love. There is only one language; the language of the Heart. There is only caste; the caste of Humanity. There is only one God, He is Omnipresent." As I watched the performances, there was something really special about each and every one of them. There was so much effort and scrutinized planning, but what was it that made every one so beautiful? It was the fact that every thing was performed as an offering to God. Swami says “What is offered to GOD is totally free from all defects and imperfections.”

Lesson no. 4: The programme was coming to an end and as aarthi began, I had a quick look around the hall. There stood all the devotees, singing in union, eyes closed and contemplating on our dear beloved Bhagawan. “Unity is divinity; purity is enlightenment.” Each and every one of us has a role to play in the world. Whether it be the love and care of a mother, the discipline given by a father or the duty of a student to gain as much worldly knowledge and spiritual insight, we must always remember that we are simply the instruments of God. “Life is a game, Play it”. I thank Swami, my mother, father and guru, for all these lessons and giving me guidance every step of the way.

Om Sri Sai Ram
Sai Ram

Region 5 - Guru Poornima Celebrations

Saturday 12th July 2014

“Man should make effort to visualise Unity in diversity and thereby attain Divinity. Only through Unity, Purity and Divinity can one experience bliss. You can never attain bliss if you do not give up the feeling of diversity and cultivate the spirit of Unity. People should recognise the intimate and inseparable relationship that exists between Unity, Purity and Divinity.”

This year’s Gurupoornimaa celebrations were truly unique, and I honestly felt unity, purity and divinity present throughout the whole day.

The reason why I felt this was because this Sathsang was different. The entire region 5 family came together to celebrate Gurupoornimaa and every centre across the region fully participated in the event. The theme of the Sathsang was “The Nine Forms of Devotion”, and every centre was given a different form of devotion for which they were to present an item. This resulted in a variety of presentations from SSE skits, role plays to classical vocal perfomances and narration of personal experiences with Swami. All of which enabled the creative talent across the region able to shine.

Each individual performance beautifully demonstrated each form of devotion, and re-inforced the theme of “becoming One with Sai” that has been running throughout the year. The hard work and effort that went into in each performance was evident in the quality of each item, thus demonstrating the focuss and purity of vision that permeated the Sai family across region 5.

The united way in which the whole day was carried out enabled Swami’s presence to be truly felt. From the catering of food to the technical set up, everyone had one focus in mind; Swami, thus creating a thoroughly blissful experience.

Hannah Mistry
Region 5

Region 5 - Guru Poornima Celebrations: SSE Report

Region 5’s Guru Poornima celebrations took place on the 12th of July 2014 at Sandbach High School in Cheshire. As a former SSE student myself, it was great to see that there were many other SSE students present and actively participating in the proceedings. The theme of the day was ‘One with Sai’, and how this can be achieved by practising the nine forms of devotion. The nine forms of devotion are; Sravanam (listening to God's glories), Keerthanam (singing the glories of God), Vishnusmaranam (ever remembering the Lord), Paadasevanam (worshipping the Lord's feet), Archanam (offering daily worship), Vandanam (prostration), Daasyam (dedicated service), Sneham (friendship) and Atmanivedanam (total surrender).

The day started promptly at 10:00 am by listening (Shravanam) to a beautiful talk on personal experiences with the Lord combined with some melodious rendition of songs from uncle Ajit Patnaik from Blackpool. The instruments came together in harmony and complemented uncle Patnaik’s melodious singing. Young and old in the audience joined in, adding further to the already auspicious atmosphere. I was very inspired by this offering from uncle and felt that he had set the standards very high for the next performers to try and match.

The next form of devotion to be offered was Keerthanam (singing the Lord’s glory), and this was performed by the Halifax Sai Group. The SSE students sang devotional songs, accompanied by myself on tabla. We felt very honoured to be able to offer our songs to Swami and perform in front of so many people. The singers were also joined by Deeshani and Prakruthi, who did classical Indian dancing for some of the songs that were being sung.

Lidget Green Sai Centre expressed Vishnusmaranam by singing bhajans as a group. They showed great unity as there were many on stage but their intentions were the same, to sing bhajans with great devotion and as an offering to the Lord.

Warrington and Liverpool’s presentation of Paadasevanam (worshipping the Lord’s feet) was an enchanting performance and there were many SSE children involved showcasing their talents. They enacted a play which expressed the true meaning of Paadasevanam. The actors, their costumes and the music were fantastically chosen to make it an amazing presentation.

Archanam (offering daily worship) was done by Leeds Sai Centre, who performed rituals in order to convey the message of offering daily worship. It was great to see two SSE students, Deeshani and Sourav involved in this presentation. It was indeed a very enlightening presentation and we learnt a lot too.

Bolton Sai Group offered their prostrations (Vandanam) to the Lord by uplifting songs that they sang with love and devotion. It made me happy to see a fellow SSE student Vishaal on tabla and dholak accompanying the wonderful singing.

Uncle Jagdish Patel was next as he expressed Daasyam (dedicated service) by singing Hanuman and Meera bhajans. His singing was soulful and the whole audience was very moved by his singing. As an SSE student, I was really inspired by uncle Jagdish, as were the other SSE students.

Sneham (friendship) was offered by Aunty Praveena and Aunty Supreetha. They narrated stories of the sacred friendships from the scriptures, including the touching story story of Sudhama and Krishna. They also sang devotional songs about friendship between their narrations. All the SSE children really enjoyed the stories and also the singing that came in between.

The final form of devotion that was performed was Atmanivedanam (total surrender). Manchester Sai Centre performed a medley of bhajans to express this form of devotion. It was a fitting end to what was a very wonderful and happy day for all us. I’m sure all the SSE children were glad that they took part in this very special day of Guru Poornima, I know I certainly am!

Prahalad Nadella
Halifax Sai Group
Region 5

Region 5 - Regional Retreat

i am I – One with Sai- Make it Happen

With Swamis grace, devotees from various places including Regions 5&8, Leicester, London etc gathered at the picturesque location of Langdale in Ambleside, Lake District for the Summer retreat from 25-27th July 2014. The beautiful location amidst mountains and lakes was the perfect setting to get away from the hustle and bustle and to spend some time understanding Swamis teachings in further depth. The scene was all set for a spiritual and enjoyable weekend.

The prorgramme started on friday evening with melodious bhajans inviting Swami to bless all the devotees. Region 5 chairperson, Mr. Kailash Venkat welcomed all the devotees and then Region 8 chairperson Mr Bhaskar Ram introduced the theme of the retreat which was "i am I - One with Sai - Make it Happen through Sadhana, Seva and Sathsang". The theme was split into three parts. The first part was about- understanding who we really i.e. the eternal Atma and what stops us from realizing that we are divine. The second part was about how we can progress on this spiritual journey by practising Sadhana, Seva and Sathsang. The final part was about realizing the importance of time and not procrastinate putting Swamis teachings into practise.

The next day started off with a prayer session that included: suprabhatam, veda chanting, bhajans and Jyothi meditation. The vibrations were so powerful that it felt as if all of us had been transported to Prashanthi Nilayam. After breakfast, was the first interactive workshop by Region 8 on the topic "i am I". The workshop started with a small introduction by Samarth (facilitator from Aberdeen) and then the participants were divided into pre-allocated groups and were asked to prepare a skit or discuss on the theme. The objective of the workshop was to make us aware that we are not the body, we are not the mind, but we are Atma (real “I”) and we can realize this by removing our inner enemies and controlling our mind. All the participants were very enthusiastic and came up with interesting presentations, humorous skits. This was a nice ice breaker.

The next workshop was on Sadhana, Seva and Sathsang by Region 5. In this, the participants were divided into 3 groups. Study cricles were conducted on each topic covering Swamis teaching related to each of the topic explaining the significance of Sadhana, Seva and Sathsang. Devotees shared their experiences as well which made the whole workshop quite interesting.

After a sumptuous lunch that was prepared by the catering team, the guest speaker Mr Navin Patel, who was a student from one of the first batches of Swamis College, thrilled the devotees with his numerous personal experiences with Swami. He shared some of the oldest pictures of Swami and reminded all of us of Swamis love, compassion and concern for everybody.

Highlight of the evening was the wonderful musical performance by Region 8 SSE children and fun filled bhajan antakshari where everyone participated and the atmosphere was full of laughter and healthy competition.

Sunday prayer session included suprabhatam, veda chanting, bhajan followed by Pranayama session conducted by Dr. Sood from Region 8. Various types of paranayama were practised and their benefits were discussed.

The last workshop was a conversational play on topic "Time is Now" which highlighted the importance of time. As Swami Himself says - "Time waste is life waste, Time is God". The message was loud and clear - we should sanctify time by putting Swamis teachings into practise and make the most of this sacred human birth given to us.

This was followed by a panel discussion where devotees asked various questions about how to practise spirituality in daily life and what are the hurdles that they face. The panel members (Ram, Vijay, Dr Lakshmi Sherbet and Kailash) shared their own experiences and quoted Swamis literature in context to the questions.

Finally, the 2 day programme ended with a melodious song medley from Region 5 singers and instrumentalist that simply transported Prashanthi Nilayam to Lake District. This was followed by concluding bhajans that were truly elevating, the singers and musicians with their wonderful talents sang with hearts full of love and filled the atmosphere with devotion and bliss and truly made us immerse in the rapture of God’s name and form.

All in all, retreat was a huge success and all the devotees from both the regions came together to become one family. It was an enriching and elevating experience. Every moment of it was enjoyable and full of learning. We thank our beloved Lord for giving us this wonderful opportunity to take one step forward on our spiritual journey.

Sairam

Samarth Mehrotra
Aberdeen Sai Centre

Region 5 - Regional Retreat: SSE Report

Despite the retreat only being a few days long it was filled with Swami’s messages and quotes which will stay with all the SSE children throughout the whole year. Through one of the SSE workshops which was based on Nature, my friends and I had a chance to think about and appreciate what nature does for us every day – especially the trees, the sun and the rain. We went on a walk and discussed all about how the retreat’s topic ‘i am I’ ‘One with Sai’ ‘Make it Happen’ could be related to nature. All of us SSE children were able to see how beautiful the world really is when it is filled with nature. My friends and I then had lots and lots of fun going on treasure hunt filled with clues that made us all think. On each of the clues there was a quote of Swami’s which we had to complete. This meant that not only was our knowledge about the retreat campus tested but also our spiritual knowledge. We had lots of fun and after all the fun we settled down for a small bhajan antakshari. After all this we were staring and so we went to the dining room to eat some well-deserved lunch.

After lunch we sang some bhajans while two of the SSE children were able to back us up with instruments. This was really enjoyable as we all felt refreshed after singing. We then coloured some pictures of animals as best as we could which turned out to be really fun. In the next SSE workshop we decided that we should present something to the adults to show them what we had done. Our main idea was a small bhajan medley. Although we only managed to figure out a rough idea on Saturday we decided that if we worked hard on Sunday morning then it could be possible. After all that hard work we were more than ready for dinner.

On Sunday morning we got together to rehearse the medley and in the end it was decided that my friend and I would sing while the boys played the tabla and dhol. The younger children would present their artwork to the parents as a summary of what we had done on the Saturday. When the time came for us to present we felt nervous and excited but it turned out brilliantly and we even managed to impress all the adults! It turned that the SSE at the retreat great fun.

The SSE workshops were all taught by different members of the Sai family which mostly included youth but of course there were some Aunties and Uncles who helped out at times. This meant that we were never bored and were able to meet many new people. Throughout the 2 days I learnt so many different yet valuable lessons that will stay with through the whole year and the Sai Retreat 2014 will stay dear to my heart for many years to come.

Ms Priyanka Ram,
SSE, Aberdeen

Region 5 - Regional Retreat: Youth Report

At the Regional Retreat we have SSE sessions that run in parallel to the main workshops sessions for the adults, so that all the parents can come to the retreat and participate fully, knowing that their children are taken care of and are with their SSE gurus learning and enjoying a different experience at the Retreat.

This year, the Youth wing were put on a rota for the responsibility of looking after the SSE children. each youth put so much thought and love into making their time with the SSE children of great value by teaching them about team work through an engaging treasure hunt, nature walks, nature collages, music medleys, dance and much more. Each child seemed genuinely happy, engaged and had really taken something new away with them.

The youth also participated in a beautiful musical offering which consisted of qawali’s, songs and bhajans in various languages.

As well as these activities, youth helped with food service throughout the retreat and enjoyed the experience of being involved in the set up and clearing of the venue. A personal highlight of the workshops was the Service through story-telling workshop where by we heard wonderful stoires of Hanuman and many more. Each story highlighted the way in which we should do service.

The fun part of the retreat which was organised by a youth originally from Scotland was a wonderful evening of bhajan antakshri, with themes for each round making the whole game challenging and exciting. We had themes based on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Goblet of Fire, the Wolverine Round, The Deathly Hallows and much more...so much creativity and passion made the game engaging.

Dr Nishal Govindji-Bhatt
Region 5 Youth Co-ordinator

Region 6 - Laksharchana in Southampton

22nd June 2014
OM SRI SATHYA SAI KRISHNAYA NAMAHAH

A Laksharchana led by Mr Vadgama took place at the Vedic Society Hindu Temple in Southampton on 22nd June. It was attended by over 150 devotees from all over region 6, as well as from Bournemouth, London, Birmingham, and even Leicester! What an enjoyable and spiritually uplifting day we had, in the company of our three speakers, Mr. Vadgama, Dr Patel, and Dr Upadhyay.

Namasmaranam means repeatedly chanting the name of the Lord; it is a recognised method of cultivating Bhakti, highly commended by Swami.

The name of the Lord never fails. Stressing the point and extolling Namasmaranam, Swami said:

“The Name is what will guard you and guide you throughout life. It is such a small thing! But to cross the ocean, an immense steamship is not needed. Even a small raft will do. The name of God is the smallest of the small…Like a small Lantern, the Name must go wherever you go, and then you can travel easily through the forest of life.”

The Lord is Apadhbandava: it means, “One who rushes to the rescue of a person in distress.” Drawing attention to the infinite compassion of the Lord, Swami says:
“Think of Him, call out for Him, He melts!”


After several months of planning and preparing, it was good to see such a great demonstration of working with love in unity, a great opportunity for all to serve Swami and be willing to be instruments in His hands. The event was beautifully orchestrated by Swami, from the many helpers decorating and preparing the hall, to those preparing food, those welcoming the guests, and to all those who took part in organising the event and ensured the day went smoothly.

The timing had to be precise too, as there were the regular prayers at the Temple before the Laksharchana. The prayers were followed by a “Peace Walk” taking place on that day, which took in the Vedic Temple as part of their route to visit local holy sites which covered 7 Faiths in the City. An introduction to Hinduism and Buddhism was presented for all to enjoy and whet the appetites to learn more. As soon as the Peace walkers left the hall, we all jumped into action and the place was ready to receive our guests in no time at all…Sai Ram!

The Laksharchana was formally started by Mr Vadgama, who has been asked by Swami to carry out this ritual throughout the world. Prayers and bhajans followed to raise the already potent vibrations in the Temple. We felt transported to a higher plane by the vibrations of the chanting. Everyone looked happy and commented how much they enjoyed this beautiful setting.

Inspiring and moving talks were given by Mr Vadgama, Dr Patel and Dr Upadhyay, highlighting Swami\'s Love, Grace and Omnipresence, and emphasizing the importance of the name in their talks.

Mr Vadgama told us that we could ask Swami to help us with any problems we may have, and that it was quite alright to ask. We were reminded that anything that we recite from our heart becomes a mantra, and that the name of God is the mantra that will protect us. Sathya Sai Avatar comes only once, and we are so fortunate to have seen him. Also God often comes in disguise, and we should serve others as we serve God.

All the participants were delighted to receive Prashadam from Mr Vadgama of a beautiful photo of Swami, a booklet and blessed vibhutthi.
At the end of the day, after a very tasty meal prepared at the temple, everyone left with Love and Joy in their heart. We certainly had food for body, mind and soul

Some feedback from helpers and devotees attending this event:

“My very first experience of Laksharchana was amazing. From the very first word of the planning to the last bit of tidying up, I enjoyed it.
The planning was fun, but hard. It was great to be part of it and be responsible enough to take on jobs. As being a receptionist, I had to make a sheet to see how many people were going to attend. I had to find a picture and a few decorations to make the table look pretty.

The actual day was hectic. I woke up very early and went to the Temple to help set up. We had to lay out sheets on the floor, help the aunty decorate the front of the Temple, where we had Swami’s picture and chair. We also had to blow up balloons, to tie onto the entrance and put up posters everywhere.

The Laksharchana was great. I helped out in between the Malas, when the Bhajans were sung. The Bhajans were great. Many sang lovely Bhajans and were amazing.
At the end of the Laksharchana I helped serve the food in the back hall. During this time, an amazing miracle was about to unfold. I had just started to eat when I got pulled to the Temple by an aunty. When I went into the Temple, I saw many people crowding around a picture of Swami. As I squeezed through the crowd, I could see that vibuthi had been miraculously materialised on the photo. One aunty even said that she saw the vibuthi on the picture growing!!!

I asked an aunty about her thoughts of the day, “I have had an amazing day. I have never felt so relaxed. I really enjoyed it.”

An uncle said, “An amazing experience. The best part was the materialisation.”
At the end of the day, I helped with the tidying up of the hall.
Overall, I had an amazing day.”
Nisha Patel, 14 y.

More comments about the day:

“Taking part was an amazing, purifying and exhilarating experience. It was hard to believe that we actually chanted “Om Sri Sathya Sai Krishnaayaa Namaha" 100,000 times, as the time just flew by in a whirl of Love and devotion. Each person participating reverently placed their offerings, "from the heart", of saffron rice onto a picture of Swami. The ritual was interspersed by devotional songs and bhajans keeping the vibration high and potent. Swami’s presence felt tangible to me and was certainly affirmed after the event by the appearance of vibuthi across Swami\'s large picture at the altar. What loving joy and happiness He gives us for all our efforts!”

We received many messages from devotees uplifted and in bliss for having had the blessed opportunity of being part of this wonderful event. The feedback from all those present on the day was very positive, about the puja, and about the discipline of all devotees, especially the children. Our Beloved Swami\'s unseen hands were definitely with us throughout the planning and the day as we were only the instruments. Thank you to all of you dear souls who travelled to Southampton to be with us on the day and shared the joy of chanting together!

Om Sri Sathya Sai Krishnaya Namaha
Southampton and Portsmouth Groups

Region 7 - Seva in Bath

One of the Seva offerings of the Sathya Sai Centre of Bath, is the collecting of items for the local Food Bank. All over the country the Sai Organisation has been involved in this work in the spirit of – Love All Serve All.

The Bath centre, has been participating in this much needed service activity for a few years now.

The Bath Food Bank, is run by the Genesis Trust. Devotees bring their loving offerings to our monthly satsang. The food items collected are then delivered on behalf of the group to the local food bank, which is always grateful for the contribution.

All activities undertaken, are motivated by the life and teachings of our Beloved Swami. This month, we reminded ourselves that service should be undertaken with a spirit of sacrifice, as then only is it worthy as an offering to our Lord, who we see in all whom we serve. And there is prasadam too, the Joy that comes with being able to serve.

Written by Mr. Patrick Shaw

Region 7 - Sharing Interfaith Understanding at the Bath Centre

Inspired by Swami and His teaching, “There is only one religion, the religion of Love”, the Bath Sai Centre has hosted a series of talks about different world religions. We have been fortunate to have a variety of religious leaders join our satsang and enhance of understanding of different faiths. We are ever grateful to Swami, that through His teachings we have found greater faith and are becoming better devotees; whatever the religious path we follow.

As Sai Baba said: “Each religion teaches man the righteous path; he has only to know it and march along” (Discourse 1978).

On Sunday 3rd August 2014, The Bath group was delighted to have Sheik Rashad Azami, former Imam of Bath Islamic Society come to speak. He chose to explain the deep inner meaning of Ramadan and fasting.

He explained that observing the fast, was not simply to develop compassion with the hungry and starving of the world, important though that is. There is also of deep spiritual benefit, of self purification, and of righteousness. Sheik Rashad echoed, the values expressed in Swami’s teachings of Truth, Right Conduct, Peace, Love and Non Violence, as he said this is at the very heart of Ramadan.

Written by Susan Rosie Cullip

Region 7 - The benefits of Likhita Nama Japam

In preparation for our Gurupoornima celebrations this year, the children of our SSE class, focused our attention on how we can show Swami our gratitude for all that He has done for us. After some discussion, we all admitted to watching too much television and spending time on our iPad’s and game consoles. With the help of our teachers we researched what Swami says about watching too much television.

“Television sets are installed in every room of the houses of the rich. From the moment television made its appearance the mind of man has been polluted”. - Baba

Swami also warns that the violence and behaviour shown on some programmes have harmful effects on our minds, and our own behaviours. Based on this, we decided to stop watching TV, and focus our minds on putting one of Swami’s teachings into practice. Swami has reminded us on many occasions that remembering His name is of great benefit to us. For 3 weeks, my SSE brothers and sisters, parents and even the teachers, stopped watching TV, playing on our ipads and used that time to engage in Likhita Nama Japam – writing and repeating the name of the Lord. We were given the Likhita Nama Japam books to write ‘Om Sri Sai Ram’ as many times as we could everyday.

“Likhita Nama Japam is an easy way to bring union of the two hearts, the heart of the Sadhaka and the heart of Bhagawan” said Swami

Finally at our Regional Gurupoornima celebration, the class did a short drama on the effects that television has on our minds. In the drama, we showed how the children in a family were influenced by what they saw on TV. Advertisements make us greedy for more and more things, which we don’t always need. Violent acts can result in us copying them.

Thanks to Swami, we spent more time thinking about Him instead of wasting our time watching TV programmes. At the beginning of this exercise we thought we would find it difficult to follow. However, we actually found that we were much happier and each week we excitedly went to SSE to talk about our progress. On Guru Poornima we came together and each of us offered a completed Likhita Nama Japam book at Swami’s feet.

These are some of the benefits that we have experienced:
1. All of us felt much happier and calmer watching less TV.
2. Once we started writing our Likhita Nama Japam, TV, computer games and iPads seemed to attract us less.
3. We felt that our concentration improved therefore benefitting our school work.
4. The whole family spent time writing together and this kept everyone happy at home.
5. Looking at our Likhita Nama Japam books we realised that even our hand writing has improved from start to finish. In fact one our SSE brothers in my class, won an award for ‘Best Handwriting’ at school. He was sure the practice had helped him.

Even now we have continued to make the effort to continue this practice and would recommend that all SSE children from around the country try it.

Swami says: “Before the advent of TV, men’s minds were not as polluted .Acts of violence was not so rampant previously. People watch TV even while eating. The result is all foul things seen on TV are consumed by the viewer .The scenes, thoughts, actions displayed on the TV set fill the minds of the viewer. Unknowingly agitation and ill feelings enter our minds. In due course they take root and grow in our minds. Hence people should avoid watching TV while eating”

Ananda Sai Pillay
SSE Group 1 Year 3
Swindon
Region 7

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"Love and Light" is the only nationwide monthly publication of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (UK). You are free to pass it on in its entirety to any interested party. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (UK) UK National Chair.