January 2015 Edition

Quote

If you wish to embark on a new life, you need not wait for the arrival of a new year. To wait for a whole year means waiting for twelve months and so many days, hours, minutes and seconds. Treat every second as new. Sanctify every moment of your life. This has to be done by realising the unity of Sath (the Divine) and Chith (the individual Consciousness). When this union is achieved, Ananda (Spiritual Bliss) is experienced. This is the primary task before everyone. Every second should be regarded as an expression of the Divine. This New Year Day relates to the Christian Era. December and January may come and go (every year) but God neither comes nor goes. In this context, you have to bear in mind three things. One is that which, after it goes, will not come back. The second one is that which, after it comes will not leave. The third is the one that neither comes nor goes. That which, when it comes, will not go is Jnaana (spiritual wisdom). When this sublime knowledge comes to one, it would not leave him. The knowledge which comes and goes relates to the waking and sleeping states. Knowledge of Supreme Reality, when once it is acquired, will never go away. The knowledge that is lost is not true knowledge. Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Prashanthi Mandir, 1 January 1992

~ Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Articles

Christmas Carols at the Sri Sathya Sai Centre of Central London

Divine Abodes

From the Poets....

My Sai and I

National Sathya Sai Orientation Conference 2015

Region 1 - Young Adult Programme: Spread the Love

Region 1 - Brixton Sai Centre Celebrates Ladies Day

Region 1 - Brixton Sai Centre visit to the South London Synagogue

Region 1 - Christmas Celebration Bhajans at Mitcham Sai Group

Region 1 - Young Adult Programme: Introduction to Cooking and Baking

Region 2 - Harrow West Christmas Celebrations

Region 2 - New Years Eve

Region 2 - Slough Sai Centre Christmas Celebrations

Region 3 - Talk by Reverend Leonora van Gils

Region 4 - Coventry Sai Centre SSE Christmas Celebrations

Region 5 - New Years Day Bhajans

Region 6 - Farnborough Sai Centre Christmas Celebrations

Region 6 - Rochester Sai Centre Christmas Programme

Sai Smaran Bhajans

Spiritual Quiz

Editorial

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

Greetings for the new year!

2015 made its grand debut with Sai devotees in many centres across UK engaged on new year eve in prayers and singing the Glory of the Lord. Baba has become an integral part of the lives of devotees, not a moment can be thought without Him. What better and wonderful way therefore to start the new year than by listening, remembering and contemplating on the Divine Name.

2015 is particularly a significant year in the lives of devotees since the year marks an important milestone, the 90th year of the advent of our Lord Sathya Sai. This joyous occasion provides a perfect opportunity to reminisce the life, Mission and Message of Baba, thereby providing a ‘battery re-charge’ in our spiritual quest. He has reminded us that His birth was in response to the prayers of spiritual aspirants. His incarnation was unique but amongst the countless divine attributes that He embodied, His Love stood out as most supreme.

His Love knew no bounds. It was pure, selfless, untainted and always giving and forgiving. It was this Love that brought humanity from across the globe to His Divine abode, Prasanthi Nilayam, the abode of greatest peace. His Love was transformational; it alleviated suffering and made Man into Divine. His Love brought joy and happiness all around. Indeed, on number of occasions, He had said,”Love is My Form”. Not surprisingly, the theme for UK has been christened ‘Love is My Form’. His Life and Message of Love and Service inspires us to expand our hearts, awaken our consciousness, and experience the bliss of our own true divine nature whilst living our daily lives.

To mark this special year, several other important events are planned in the UK in addition to the national events already announced – Pre-World Conference, National Pilgrimage to Prasanthi Nilayam around the Christmas time and decoration of Prasanthi Nilayam to include the Sai Kulwant Hall, Yajur Mandir and other areas to mention a few. Various special programmes are also planned by the four wings of the organisation as part of the celebration.

The celebrations kicked off with ‘Sai Smaran’, our humble offering of a garland of devotional singing on the 10th January in Watford when around 300 devotees had gathered. The vibrations created brought bliss all around.

As is customary, Office Bearers who had completed their term of office changed on the 14th January. New members taking positions in centres and wings were welcomed.

We had National Sathya Sai Orientation Conference in Hatfield on 24th January for Office Bearers (current, outgoing and new) and Active Workers. Around 260 delegates participated. The Theme of the conference was ‘Love is My Form – Living as Reflections of Love & Service’. There was excitement and feeling of oneness amongst the delegates, everyone keen to wholeheartedly participate in the Divine Mission.

We look forward to another exciting year unfolding and pray to Baba for continued Guidance and Blessings to live as reflections of Love and Service as He has epitomised.

Dr Kiran Patel,
Chairman, UK Central Council

National Sathya Sai Orientation Conference 2015

The National Sathya Sai Orientation Conference 2015 was held in Hatfield, London on the 24th of January. It was heartening to see about 260 office bearers and active workers of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation in UK congregate enthusiastically for this annual conference, in the spirit of their sheer love for Bhagawan Baba and their shared love for each other. Aptly then, the Conference programme based on the theme ‘Love is My Form: Living as Reflections of Love and Service’, blended in nicely with this prevailing spirit on the day and helped amplify it further.

2015 is a special year being the 90th year of the Advent of our Lord, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. All over the world, brothers and sisters of our Sathya Sai Organisations are engaging in various activities throughout the year with a sincere aim to accelerate their individual and collective spiritual growth, and make this their loving offering at the 90th Birthday Celebrations in November later this year. In the UK too, various service and spiritual activities have been planned with the same aim as above, and the Conference provided an ideal platform to discuss, align, orientate and consolidate these plans.

Inaugural Session

Dr. Kiran Patel, National Chairperson, delivering the Welcome Address

The Conference began with energetic bhajans in the Main Hall that was simply but tastefully decorated. Dr. Kiran Patel, National Chairperson of SSSSO UK, welcomed the delegates heartily. In his address, he reminisced on the Loving Form of Bhagawan Baba and exhorted all to remember this, so as to be able to reflect it in our own daily life interactions. He advised the delegates to stay focussed on developing and deepening this inner connectedness with Bhagawan and His teachings, and cautioned against various distractions and claims made by a few. (Click for video link)

A section of the delegates at the Conference

After a Video-review of activities undertaken in 2014, Mrs. Phyllis Krystal gave a short talk on the theme of Love. In her inimitable simple and soothing style, she summarised that the best way to love others is to see Swami in them! She said that it wouldn’t be possible otherwise. She shared how Swami once said to her and others in the group that they were all ‘Walking Temples of God’, not just some ordinary bodies! Very gently but profoundly, she encouraged everyone to connect with this higher truth, our ‘higher self’, whilst engaged in the activities of our daily life. (Click for link)

Talk by Guest Speaker Mrs Phyllis Krystal

Our Sathya Sai National Organisation hosted a one-day National Office bearers Conference on 24th January 2015 to welcome the new Office-bearers and to thank the retiring Office bearers for their dedication, service and for their wonderful contribution to our Organisation. The Theme chosen for this year’s Conference was a beautiful, apt theme. I was very impressed and humbled to see our National Chair, Vice Chair and Regional chairs all working quietly, very enthusiastically, efficiently and with a smile. They made us all feel very welcome as all part of One Sai Family.

The Morning session started with registration and a short bhajan. This was followed by a very beautiful welcome address by our National chair. He highlighted the Aims and Objectives of our Organisation and set the Goals to be achieved for the year 2015. I found his talk very simple, straightforward and coming straight from the heart. His expectations from us as office bearers were very practical and correct. He made us realise that we should be very fortunate to have been chosen as an office bearer in the Sathya Sai Organisation, that we should be grateful to Swami to be chosen to be apart of the Lord’s Divine Mission of Dharmasthapana and to realise that we have been given an opportunity by our Lord Himself to fill our lives with Love, Goodness and righteousness, and be given an opportunity to get rid of our ego and other negative tendencies if present in us through the sadhana of Love & Service.

Main Altar & Stage

This was followed by a short talk by our most respected Phyllis Krystal. Her talk was very inspiring and it beautifully fitted in with the theme. She made us realise that we are all moving temples wherein our Divine Lord, our Loving Mother Sai resides. She beautifully gave us a technique of communicating with the Divine within in that small 15 minute talk. A truly amazing soul!

Dr. Ram Bhaskar, Sathya Sai Centre of Aberdeen, Scotland
Region 8, SSSSO UK

‘Living As Reflections of Love and Service’-
Conference Workshops

The Inaugural talks set the ball rolling for the next two hours that were spent by the delegates in a Workshop that deliberated on the topic, ‘Living as a reflection of Love and Service’. Whilst the first half of the workshop focussed on the topics Love and Service, the second half highlighted various aspects of Effective Communication based on the principles of love and service. The take home message was to concentrate all efforts to feel Swami and His Love in our heart and then see Swami in others, so as to live as His Reflections of Love.

Morning Workshop

The workshop highlighted that Love is the atmic principle that is always within us, and therefore should be at the heart of our communication with others. The simplest technique advocated to achieve this is to remember that when we speak to others we are speaking to Swami himself. Particular attention was placed on speaking softly and lovingly, and practising moderation in speech; this is helped by enquiring whether what we are saying is true; will it hurt anyone? Will it improve on the silence? Is it necessary? Is it kind? Love can be realised though the removal of ego via selfless service, enabling us to realise the Brotherhood of man and Fatherhood of God.

A simple and powerful way of communicating with others without the use of words is to smile: “When we smile, love bubbles up in us”, was an interesting quote from Baba. Another important form of non-verbal communication is listening. We should listen patiently and attentively without interrupting our fellow brothers and sisters and express empathy when required. The workshop made us reflect on how feedback should be listened to with an open mind and accepted if correct. If unjustified, it should be regarded as a test of how we handle it. “Love lives by giving and forgiving”, as quoted by Baba was shown as an apt video clip.

Communication is a fundamental part of our everyday lives, including our spiritual growth. Good communication allows everyone to benefit, whilst poor communication can lead to confusion and conflict. Through group discussion and interaction based on various everyday scenarios that were presented in the workshop, delegates felt more confident about communicating effectively in situations they may face both within and outside the organisation.

Dr. Anshi Dattani, Youth Coordinator
Sathya Sai Baba Centre of Harrow East, Region 2, SSSSO UK

The facilitator showed us wonderful video clips of Swami’s discourses on the topic of True love and Service and discussed Swami’s teachings on Love and Service. He stressed that the Love for the Lord is true Love and God’s Love alone is true Love as it has no trace of selfishness. All other types of worldly love, although are expressions of divine Love, are imperfect as they are tainted by some bit/form of selfishness.

Workshop

He recommended that Love and divinity can be experienced through the Sadhana of Satsang (good company), and through the Practice of Service. He explained that when we share our Love with others, with the feeling that we are serving the Lord himself, then we can experience that Divine love. He also highlighted that we should treat each other with respect and love, work as a team, and communicate with all, including our superiors, our juniors, our colleagues.

Dr. Ram Bhaskar, Sathya Sai Centre of Aberdeen, Scotland
Regional Representative, Region 8, SSSSO UK

Please click the links below to download the workshop slides -
NSSOC Workshop 2015.pptx

National Wing Presentations and Wing Meetings

After a scrumptious lunch, the National Wing Coordinators presented the details of their plans for activities in the forthcoming months. These were further discussed in the Wing meetings that followed. A brief outline about the Sathya Sai Charitable Trust, its objectives and activities, was also given in this session. (Click here for video link)

Mrs. Thana Yogendran, National SSE Coordinator, presents the Wing Plan for 2015

Dr. Rakendu Suren, National Spiritual Coordinator, shares an Overview

National Service Wing activities summarised by Mr Jayesh Patel, Region 1 Service Coodinator

Vision 2015 for Youth Wing in UK presented by Mr Shyam Jamnadas, National Youth Coordinator

Summary of Wing Meetings

Spiritual Wing meeting was well attended. Following a brief feedback from representatives from each region, we discussed the goals for 2015, and focussed mainly on the Pre world Conference Study circles. In preparation for the 10th World Conference in Prashanthi Nilayam in November, a Pre- world conference will be conducted in UK mid this year and the theme for the conference is Love and Self-less Service. In preparation for this, globally study circles are conducted on these two topics and for the coming months we in UK will also be conducting study circles on these topics in our centres. The group welcomed the idea of nominating a person to coordinate/conduct the study circle in each centre

Spiritual & Service Wing Workshop

We also discussed two other important activities for the year. First is the meditation workshop to be conducted in different regions with the aim of encouraging it in our daily lives as directed by Swami. The second activity discussed was the English devotional songs recording project which we are aiming to complete this year with the aim to upload them on our organisation website to facilitate their learning. We will be further discussing these projects and others in details during the Wing Meeting day on February 15th in Watford , London.

Dr. Rakendu Suren,
National Spiritual Coordinator, SSSSO UK

The Youth Meeting focussed on communication, with more emphasis on the application of communication in the youth wing. We reflected first on our current understanding of the purpose of the youth wing, the roles and responsibilities of each of us as youth and as youth coordinators. We concluded that the youth were there to support and integrate into the other wings, to live our lives according to Swami’s teachings and to be role models for our peers and youngsters around us. We drew inspiration from Swami’s Words on the role of youth:

“The future of the country depends on the skill and the sincerity of the youth. Therefore, the necessary enthusiasm and encouragement must be generated among the youth. All my hopes are based on the students, the youth. They are very dear to me.You are the ones who will assume the leadership of the country in future. The future of the nation depends upon you.Your nature and character will decide the character of the nation.”

Youth & SSE Wing Workshop

Youth coordinators have the special responsibility to encourage the youth. As youth, we have to watch our nature and character carefully, as this will be shape the future of the society in which we live.

On a more practical level, one of the key roles of the youth coordinators is to communicate effectively and utilise the opportunities available to the youth within the Organisation and the Wing. However communication is two ways, and so active youth should also feel able to share their thoughts and ideas with the youth leaders. We agreed that therefore Youth leaders should be approachable and encourage youth to come forward and have a good rapport with the youth in their centre.

We analysed different modes of communication, looking at possible modes of communication that should be used to reach out to different youth and how to pass information effectively and efficiently. Communication should motivate and inspire youth and should be prompt, positive and to the point.

A role play exemplified how to behave and communicate according to Swami’s teachings under difficult circumstances, for example, when faced with criticism or judgement. Swami says,

"Let people say anything; be cool and calm. Do not enter into unnecessary arguments with them. It only breeds enmity. Speak softly and sweetly with a smiling face. That will silence a critic. A smile is the best answer to criticism”. Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Dr. Nishal Govindji-Bhatt,
Regional Youth Coordinator, Region 5 SSSSO UK

The SSE Wing meeting was packed with attendees, resulting in a number of extra chairs being brought in. All were enthusiastically keen to start working on plans for the year ahead. Divided into groups, the assembly was brimming with ideas concerning two particular initiatives.

One of these initiatives was a plan of nationwide activities for SSE students, teachers and parents, with each activity being carried out over the course of a three-month period and each based on “Love is My form”, the theme for this year. The first activity, to be carried out from February until Eashwaramma Day, will have each student, parent and teacher, aim to record 90 acts of love performed by him or her and place each record of these in a special “Love Box”, to be offered to Swami.

The second initiative was called “SSE Reconnect”, a Nationally-driven but Centre-led activity that entails re-establishing contact with SSE alumni who are no longer active in the Organisation. The need for gathering and maintaining contact details from former teachers and office bearers was a key point; and ideas regarding the form of initial contact with such alumni were also given, for instance starting off with personal one-to-one contact before eventually progressing to something larger-scale. It was also noted that Centres could do more to maintain contact proactively with those former students who move away to university, thereby ensuring that any link remains unbroken.

Mr. Roni Ramdin,
Regional SSE Coordinator, Region 1 SSSSO UK

The Service Wing workshop was attended by approximately 50 delegates. Our Vice chair, Dr Veeru Mudigonda set the scene by highlighting the supreme importance that Swami places on Service as the surest way for our spiritual progress. He pointed out that it was for this reason alone that Bhagawan had chosen the word ‘Service’ to sit alongside His Divine Name when founding our Organisation in 1967! He advised that the Service Wing should work towards motivating every member of our Organisation across the country, irrespective of age or gender, to participate in some service activity during this 90th Year of the Divine Advent of our Lord.

Delegates then discussed the golden opportunity given to SSSSO UK to decorate the entire Prasanthi Nilayam for the Christmas 2015 celebrations. Everyone was enthusiastic to participate and not to miss such an opportunity. A total of 100 volunteers would be needed over a period of 4 weeks between 5th December 2015 and 5th January 2016 in Prasanthi Nilayam. More details would follow soon.

On the spiritual path, the first step is selfless service. Through selfless service one can realise the Divinity that all this creation. (SSS 10.32: November 20, 1970)

Delegates then divided into groups to interactively discuss and share ideas for activities in UK under the 5 service streams of Educare, Sociocare, Healthcare, Aquacare, and Envirocare. In depth discussions took place within each group with all delegates participating and all were so engrossed that it was difficult to get them to stop! It was evident that the delegates enjoyed the session very much and wanted more time. Each group came up with many ideas and plans for activities based on societal needs, and common threads were evident. Further in depth discussions will be undertaken during the National Service Wing Meeting on the 15 February 2015.

Mr. Jayesh Patel,
Regional Service Coordinator, Region 1 SSSSO UK

At the Centre Chairs Meeting, there was a good discussion between the Regional and Centre Chairs on a number of queries ranging from Multifaith prayers to DBS (CRB Checks). We were reminded to re-examine the main purpose for which Swami has created the organisation – “The Organisation has as its main objective, selfless love and service without any distinction of religion, nationality, race, socio-economic status, either for those who work in the Organisation or for those who are served by them”. To this end, the General guidelines released by Prasanthi Council should be adapted to local community needs for Centre activities including Bhajans and prayers.

We agreed that as a UK Organisation we are required to abide by UK legislation. All active workers are therefore required to be CRB checked. CRB is now known as DBS – Disclosure and Barring Service. Regional and Centre Chairs will soon be advised on a national plan to facilitate this process in a systematic way. Work continues on establishing indemnity insurance for the Centres, in the meanwhile, Centres are requested to renew their indemnity insurance until further notice. Other operational issues of importance such as support for SSE, use of Social Media, development of websites by Centres were discussed. Updates on these will soon be circulated by the UKCC.

Looking ahead, it was felt essential that our Centres serve the needs of their respective local population and function as true reflections of Swami’s universal message. To this extent, it is incumbent upon us to dispel any perceived notions that Sai Centres are orientated towards any particular Religion. Here we reminded ourselves to constantly examine if our Centres align with Swami’s teachings that place greater emphasis on a ‘spiritual rather than ritual’ basis for activities. Centres are encouraged to chant Multifaith prayers according to local needs. Whilst we work closely with many multifaith organisations and participate in their activities, we still have work to do in this area to facilitate our own deeper understanding and genuine experience of universality, apart from ensuring a closer integration of our Sai Organisation and Centres within the local communities. Singing more songs in English during the regular Bhajan sessions is to be encouraged as an inclusive measure and is on the 2015 plan for the Spiritual Wing.

Mr. Seelan Moodley,
Regional Chairperson, Region 3 SSSSO UK

Please click the links below to download the wing workshop slides -
SSE Wing.pdf
Service Wing.pdf
Spiritual Wing.pdf
Youth Wing.pdf

Dr Veeru Mudigonda, Trustee and Vice Chair of the Sri Sathya Sai Charitable Trust UK

The Conference concluded with a ‘Question and Answer’ session with senior members of UKCC, a short Closing speech by Dr. Veeru Mudigonda, National Vice-Chair, SSSSO UK (Click for Audiolink), followed by bhajans. It was indeed a recharging day, each devotee deriving energy and inspiration from each other as kindred pilgrims, that put a spring in our step and a fire in our belly to dedicate our lives in his Love and Service.

Mr. Vadgama offering Arati to Bhagawan

Compiled by Love and Light Team

Sai Smaran Bhajans

Namasmarana – the life-giving flow of nectar

The first national event for 2015, Sai Smaran Bhajans, were held in Watford, London on the 10th of January. And what a blessing it was to participate in six hours of uninterrupted, uplifting bhajans dedicated to our beloved Lord, focussing on his beautiful divine Form, and his sweet divine Love. It was a perfect way to get the New Year off to a most auspicious start for all of us in UK!

A stunningly decorated altar in tasteful hues of brown, pink and green immediately set the mind at peace, preparing it to invoke and receive Swami’s bountiful grace. Bhajan after bhajan accompanied by tabla, harmonium, flute and clapping created a most sublime and charged atmosphere. Each bhajan was sung with such intensity and feeling, that Swami too was moved to show his presence midway through the event when the middle flower fell from his stunningly decorated picture.

Swami himself has spoken much about the power of Namasmarana: “Winning the Grace of the Lord is as easy as melting butter; that is why the heart of the Lord is compared to butter. It is as soft as butter, they say. The Name is the spring of all the Chaithanya that you get by Namasmarana; it is the life-giving Nectar; it is the fountain of Primal energy. Recite the Name and the Named will be before you; picture the Named and the Name will leap to your lips.”

The spiritual force of this event lies in its utmost simplicity. A day dedicated to nothing but bhajans – not only helps devotees become more centred spiritually but also encompasses two of Swami’s key messages namely:

– Namasmarana - one-pointed attention on the Lord through constant chanting of his divine name and eyes fixed on his divine Form
– Seva - The spirit which prompted Sai brothers and sisters from near and far to not only attend the event but also lend their hand in decorating the altar, set up the AV and PA systems as well as the bookshop, prepare and serve food throughout the day so devotees could feel refreshed and energised, and of course lend their beautiful voices and musical skills to the programme itself to create a most sacred ambience

As Brother Rakendu, the national spiritual coordinator who addressed the congregation later said: ‘The uniqueness of Sai bhajans lies in the fact that they are solely focussed on singing the praises of the Lord and nothing else.’

And as devotees partook the Mahaprasadam at the end – one devotee told ‘Love and Light’ that the event ‘takes you on a journey. It is a journey we have all experienced as the divine melodies elevate one to a different level, a level filled with nothing but peace and infinite bliss. And judging by the smiles on the faces of everyone there, it had been a most fulfilling spiritual journey to start the New Year with!

Ms. Priya Kotecha,
Spiritual Coordinator,
Sathya Sai Centre of Harrow East, Region 2, SSSSO UK

Christmas Carols at the Sri Sathya Sai Centre of Central London

A SSE Student’s Experiences

As part of our 2014 Christmas celebrations, we at the Sri Sathya Sai Centre of Central London sang Christmas carols on three occasions: firstly at our monthly gathering for Narayan Seva with our guests (most of whom are homeless); secondly during bhajans with all the Centre’s devotees; and thirdly at a care home for the elderly in Westminster.

Before the Christmas celebrations, I, along with Bhavesh, Daren, Irene, Maria, Philip, Nikita, Pratistha, Sachin, Sanjay and Shaye (my talented brother!) met at Sanjay’s house every Saturday in December to practise singing the carols. It was hard work but good fun and, during the breaks, Sanjay and his mum served us exceptional Gujrati chai! There was also an additional practice held one Sunday at the centre, where Cliff, Geeta, Lourdes, Usha and Vidya also joined in. In all of these practices, we revised all of the carols, some of which were ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, ‘Away in a Manger’ and ‘Silent Night’.

On Sunday 21st December, we sang the carols to the guests that came to the Centre for their monthly meal with us at Narayan Seva. Many of the guests thoroughly enjoyed the carols: some were swinging their arms in enjoyment; others were singing along with us!

Afterwards, during the afternoon, we sang the carols with devotees at the Centre during Bhajans, along with Bible readings, Swami’s quotes, bhajans and prayers. It was soooo much fun! The energy in the hall could be felt and it made me feel in a festive spirit. Some of the SSE students – Aryan, Deepesh, Jaimeet, Nelisha, Sophie, William and I - sang ‘Little Donkey’, ‘Away in a Manger’ and ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ to the devotees, after practices with Nimah (our SSE teacher) Philip (Christmas programme co-ordinator), Irene (Excellent Supervisor) and Nirmal (Co-Excellent Supervisor!).

Moreover, during Silent Night, the SSE students then placed lanterns at the special altar made for Jesus. Dana Gillespie also joined us for the carols, leading us in the beautiful carol, ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’. After the Aarti (which we sang on this occasion in both Sanskrit and in English) and Philip’s brilliant discourse, Bhavesh then became Santa Claus, so to say, and he gave out gifts to the SSE students (including me!).

On the following Wednesday, Christmas Eve, many of the group (plus Gowri, her little son Devdan, and her friend Anna) also went to an elderly home in Westminster and sang carols to the residents. I am told it was also very enjoyable. Many of the residents joined in with the singing, and all the carol singers then joined the residents for tea and mince pies … and to have a good chat!

Finally, I would like to say that we (every singer, instrument player, and SSE student) thoroughly enjoyed ourselves from the very beginning to the very last moment and to be honest, we wished it never ended and we were very sad but proud when it did! And we also hope that everyone listening enjoyed it all as much as we did!

Nirina Chinegadoo
SSE Student
Sri Satya Sai Centre of Central London

Region 1 - Young Adult Programme: Spread the Love

Region 1 Youth launched a new initiative called #STL in December, which stands for Spread The Love. The idea of this initiative is to make everyone more aware of the small random acts of kindness that happen around them every day. In December we kickstarted the project by continuing our regular December YAP session where we made 133 hampers, consisting of gloves, scarves, hats, socks, coat, and sleeping bag. Which was given to the charity The Passage, who then distribute them to the homeless people in London.

As well as this great project, we also decided to reach out to the children within the SSE. The children were asked if they would like to join the Youth in practicing ceiling on desires, by saving their pocket money to buy presents for the children in hospital during the festive period. In total Region 1 managed to collect around 250 presents, which we then split and gave to Great Ormond Street Hospital and Royal Marsden Hospital.

The hospitals really appreciated this act of kindness, and sent us letters to portray their appreciation.

Ketheeswaran Saiganesh
Region 1 Youth Coordinator

Region 1 - Brixton Sai Centre Celebrates Ladies Day

‘If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character.
If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home.
If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation.
When there is order in the nation, there will peace in the world.’

On Sunday 19th November, the Sai sisters of Brixton Sai Centre marked the auspicious occasion of Ladies’ Day. The morning celebration comprised prayers and group devotional singing. It was a wonderful morning as we offered our reverence and homage to our Divine Mother.

A special surprise activity, organised by some of our Sai sisters, awaited us next door. As we made our way to our surprise, we saw the tables neatly laid with tablecloths, blocks of butter, jars of pickle and packets of shredded cheese. When I heard that we were going to mark the special day by making sandwiches and donating them to the Mother Teresa Home in Elephant & Castle, I was reminded of my time in Prashaanti taking part in graama seva (service to villages).

While making the sandwiches, we chanted the Gaayatree Mantra. Our SSE children excitedly helped us and were very curious to understand what we were doing and why we were taking part in this service activity. This was our opportunity to offer a small token of our love to our Swaami by serving our community.

We were able to finish four boxes of sandwiches in half an hour; this really showed that working together is better done when we have unity and devotion. The children decorated lovely notes to stick on the boxes; and soon the sandwiches were ready to deliver.

On 19 November 1995, out of His immense love and compassion, Swami initiated Ladies’ Day. This day is now an annual event, observed worldwide on 19 November. Women are represented as the qualities of truth and culture and these qualities will protect the nation. Bhagawaan has very lovingly guided women about the significant role they can play in shaping individual and national character. In His divine discourse on 19 November 1995, Sri Sathya Sai Baba explained:

‘If the nation has to prosper, improvement must start with the parents. Without peace and harmony at home, there can be no peace in the nation. This message should be propagated throughout the country on every November 19th, by observing it as Ladies' Day. You should teach people how to run their homes well and how to bring up children on right lines. You must deal calmly and tactfully with the men, if they are not cooperating. Though Raavana was evil-minded, his noble wife, Mandodhari, tried to correct him as much as possible. She advised him strongly not to keep Seetaa in Lanka, but to restore her to Raama.’

Our Ladies’ Day service activity was one in a million! We thank Swaami for being able carry out this service and especially remind ourselves the value of a mother’s love.

Kirtee Parmar

Region 1 - Brixton Sai Centre visit to the South London Synagogue

On Sunday 7 September 2014, Brixton Sai Centre took the opportunity to visit the South London Synagogue in Streatham. Many of us were unaware that the Synagogue even existed, especially after passing its road many times, as the Synagogue is situated behind housing that it sponsors.

We were fortunate to be guided around the Synagogue by the Rabbi and learn from him how a service is conducted. The Rabbi explained that “synagogue” means “coming together”; it is a place of prayer, social and charitable work, and especially a place of study. The old German and Yiddish word used to refer to a synagogue, “shul,” means “school”: this emphasises the synagogue’s role as a place of study.

The part of the synagogue where prayer services are performed is called the sanctuary. Its most important feature is the Ark, a cabinet in the wall that holds the Torah scrolls, with fine mantles and decorations to protect the scrolls. The Ark always faces towards Jerusalem. It has doors including beautifully embroidered curtains called “parokhet”. The opening and closing of the doors or curtains is performed by a member of the congregation, which is considered an honour and all congregants stand when the Ark is open. During the service, the Torah scrolls are taken out of the Ark; the scrolls are very heavy. The decorations and mantles are taken off and the scrolls are held up high for everyone to see. They are carried around the synagogue and with great respect the congregants touch them with their prayer shawls. The scrolls are then placed on the reading desk to be read.

The Rabbi gave a very interesting talk about the Jewish New Year festival, Rosh Hashanah. This year, Rosh Hashanah was celebrated from sundown on September 24 to nightfall on September 26. The meaning of “Rosh Hashanah” literally means "head of the year". The holiday takes place on the first two days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, which is the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar. This is because Rosh Hashanah, one of four new years in the Jewish year, is considered the new year of people, animals and legal contracts. A common greeting on Rosh Hashanah is shana tovah u'metukah, Hebrew for "a good and sweet new year." In the Jewish tradition, Rosh Hashanah marks the completion of the creation of the world. Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the Jewish high holy days, or Yamim Noraim (the “Days of Awe"), and is followed ten days later by Yom Kippur, the "day of atonement." The Mishnah (Jewish oral tradition) refers to Rosh Hashanah as the "day of judgment" and it is believed that God opens the Book of Life on this day and begins to decide who shall live and who shall die. The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are viewed as an opportunity for Jews to repent (teshuvah) and ensure a good fate.

The Rabbi also presented a polished instrument made from the horn of a ram or other kosher animal called shofar. The shofar is blown on Rosh Hashanah marking the beginning of the New Year, signifying waking up to the call to repentance. In ancient times, the shofar was used to summon everyone in the event of an emergency. It is customary to hear 100 sounds from the shofar on each day of Rosh Hashanah.

Afterwards, we had the opportunity to ask the Rabbi questions, as well as partake in his hospitality. We had a wonderful time marking Rosh Hashanah and learning about Judaism.

Amanda Sogga

Region 1 - Christmas Celebration Bhajans at Mitcham Sai Group

26th December 2014

Mitcham Sai Group in Region holds their once a month Group Sathsang on the last Friday of each month and we were lucky that this Friday 26/12/2014 fell on Christmas boxing day.

We started this evening session at 07:30 pm with Gayatri Mantra chanting followed by Ganesh Bhajan and a Sarva Dharma Bhajan after which we switched on to the singing some of the most popular carols – lead by youth and the adults. Then we did Aarthi followed by Vibhuthi prasadam.

At this point someone said that there was a loud knock on the door – when we opened the door – surprise ....surprise ......who walks in?? – None other than our beloved Santa carrying a pink bag – with his usual laughter - Ho – Ho - Ho!

All the children and the youth along with the adults were surprised and overjoyed and started singing another famous song – “Jingle bell - Jingle bell - Jingle all the way” – He walked amongst the devotees and distributed to all chocolates he had brought with him in his pink bag. Then to our surprise – he announced that he was going to hold a Question and Answer session and said he will award gifts to two winners – one male and a female devotee. This was never heard of before and everyone was excited.

He then appointed one of the adult devotees – Suren - as the scorer and said that only the youth and children will participate and if the person chosen to answer Santa’s question did not know the answer he or she can then ask one of the adults to assist in answering for which only half points will be scored – but if the answer was given straight away – then full points was scored. Very exciting and then Santa started his questions – a total of 16 – all based on the life & teachings of Jesus Christ.

At the end of this session which was mixed with Santa’s laughter and merriment – two winners emerged – on the male side, young Sai Prabhu and on the female side, Adhi - who were both gifted by Santa amidst loud applause. All the devotees thanked Santa (who was none other than our Regional Service coordinator Jay Patel in disguise) for his novel way of spending his time with us and as a token of gratitude – requested him to cut the Christmas cake amidst the loud singing of another famous song – “We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year” after which Santa bid adios to all of us and walked away in to the cold night. There was happiness and joy on the faces of all – young and old and each of us then greeted and wished each other a Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New year and also thanked our beloved Swami for being in our life as our divine Guide and Guardian Angel.

We also observed a few minutes silence and remembered those all over the world who had no shelter, food and clothes and were suffering either due to natural calamity or man-made disasters and prayed for their relief.

Then we all shared a loving menu of Maha Prasadam – brought in by many devotees and blessed by our beloved Swami. After more happy and joyous moments, we went home with feelings of love, peace and joy coupled with very optimistic and positive thoughts & expectations of the dawn the New Year 2015 with a sense of sincere love and gratitude to Swami for being in our lives and the humble privilege given to each one of us to serve HIM by serving the humanity. “Love All and Serve All – Help ever and Hurt never”

Jai Sai Ram
Mitcham Sai Team

Region 1 - Young Adult Programme: Introduction to Cooking and Baking

On the 17th January, the first YAP of 2015 was held, with an introduction to cooking and baking. This was hosted by the hugely inspirational Swathi aunty, or better known to most as the ‘lovely lady who bakes great cakes and biscuits and makes a killer masala chai!’
Swathi aunty introduced herself to the youth explaining how her journey with baking truly began with Swami’s call over four years ago. She explained how she grew in confidence through a combination of utter faith in Swami and baby steps, which, in turn, made all of us feel very much at ease with trying anything.

We began by observing and listening intently as Swathi aunty explained the ingredients used and how it was always important to read and be weary of even items that we wouldn’t usually think contained egg or meat bi-products. Swathi aunty then showed us how to make a beautiful orange sponge, followed by a delicious sultana jam, and a wonderful buttercream. We also helped Swathi aunty make the most amazing oatmeal cookies which we couldn’t help but sample even if they weren’t 100% cool! Then the fun part came as we decorated the orange sponge cupcakes and placed them in decorative boxes ready to take to the shelter. We also learnt how to create a cupcake filled with the sultana jam, which complimented the flavour of the orange beautifully, to my surprise.

The afternoon continued with all of us learning a simple, quick and easy lunch, which was not only tasty but easy on the pockets too! Having learnt how to make vermicelli noodles with peppers, sweet corn and a mix of herbs, it was then time for us to eat some lunch, have more joyous Sathsang and then pack all the biscuits, ready to take to the homeless shelter (Merton Action for Single Homeless – MASH).

It was a wonderful experience interacting with both the other youth but also the adults whom we so often see behind the scenes but we don’t often get a chance to have real conversations with. Through also giving our offerings to the shelter it really was a great combination of Seva with smiles and Sathsang!

Although, I haven’t quite gotten around to baking all the recipes, it will be the next cake I bake!

Mathurini Visakan, Region 1

Region 2 - Harrow West Christmas Celebrations

The same amazing amount of love, devotion and passion that was displayed on Swami’s Birthday by the Harrow West family, carried on to the 2014 Christmas celebrations, at our Centre. The altar looked vibrant, decorated with beautiful Christmas colours. The programme started with an array of English bhajans, which filled the hall with a joyful atmosphere.

Following that, the nursery and group1 year1 children recited a beautiful recount of the Nativity story, setting the stage for the youth to come in. After last year’s performance by the adults, the youth kept their promise and presented the Nativity play that left everyone in fits of laughter, still conveying the true significance of Christmas.

After completion of the play, SSE children and youth sang carols, keeping the Christmas spirit going. As the carols came to a close, Santa Claus arrived to the sound of ringing bells with a sack full of goodies, giving presents to all!

The program concluded with Aarti followed by a delicious tea party in the canteen. Swami’s grace flowed throughout the evening making it another memorable Christmas at Harrow West.

Mita Panda
SSE Coordinator – Harrow West Sai Centre

Region 2 - New Years Eve

New Year’s Eve is one of the largest global festivities celebrated around the world in various ways from spectacular display of fireworks in a host of major cities, special parties, open air concerts, midnight mass to the traditional fire festivals and torch light procession of Hogmanay in Scotland.

There’s a common belief that specific activities taken on New Year’s Eve leading to the New Year can have an effect on the outcome of the incoming year. In many cultures, New Year’s Eve customs are about driving away the bad spirits of the past year, so that the new one can arrive untarnished and pure. For some, it is a day of mixed feelings for it is a time to celebrate the end of the year gone by and welcome what is in store in the New Year.

On 31st December 2014, about a hundred and fifty devotees across region 2 gathered on an icy night at the Oxhey Wood Primary School to herald the New Year.

The session commenced at 22:00hrs with invocation prayers followed by a bouquet of melodious Bhajans by devotees from various centres of region 2 until just before midnight when the mantra Aum was chanted twenty one times in a meditative ambience to connect to the Absolute Reality during the transition to the New Year.

After a spiritually uplifting bhajan session followed by the chanting of Omkar, a transient feeling of oneness with the whole universe and inner peace could be felt. This blissful state was hastily interrupted by the sound of fireworks in the local vicinity at the stroke of midnight.

The spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks at the London Eye were silently and briefly screened signifying the ushering of the New Year 2015.

The programme continued with the ringing of the bell nine times indicating the invocation of Divinity in our hearts and the departure of evil forces from within. Prayers to Lord Ganesh and Swami were lovingly offered to remove any obstacles and to guide us in this New Year and always followed with bhajans, concluding prayers, Mangala Arathi and ended with Swami’s Thought of the day.

‘New Year must usher in a new step in spiritual discipline. The old must be rung out and the new must be brought in. Remembrance of God is the spiritual discipline prescribed by the scriptures in Kali Yuga. This involves giving up all habits that interfere with the constant remembrance of God. The best way to love God is to Love All and Serve All’ Baba.

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a continuation of our Soul’s journey to the ultimate goal and on that expedition, God alone is the true selfless friend.

Gayatri Bikoo

Region 2 - Slough Sai Centre Christmas Celebrations

Slough Sai Centre celebrated Christmas as merrily as always. Swami’s alter was decorated beautifully in White.

After the initial prayers, the programme started with Bhajans filling the hall with the divine vibrations. Continuing this were the Carols. Carol singing is the perfect way to get into the spirit of Christmas. Our SSE children sang few carols Little donkey, Away in the manger, Silent night then the holy carol..

"O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
How lovely are your branches
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
How lovely are your branches"

This carol further beautified our Christmas tree.

This year our esteemed guest speaker Brother Selva Kumar gave a wonderful Christmas message. This message he gave was really very meaningful. As soon as Christ was born he saw the beautiful birds and animals surrounding him. He saw Turkey, Sheep and other farm animals. They too rejoiced the birth of Jesus. They welcomed him. They were so auspicious for the birth of Jesus. Instead of caring those birds and animals man today is killing and enjoying them on dinner plates on the day of Christmas which should really to be considered.

After the speech our SSE children Kajhol and Prajwal played lovely carols on guitar and keyboard.

One of our youngest SSE child Madhav [age5] explained the importance of WATCH.

W - Words.
A - Actions.
T – Thoughts.
C – Character
H - Heart

Younger SSE kids narrated the holy Christmas story in short.

We then had a lovely play by older children titled “A Christmas Crisis”. It all begins on a snowy and frosty Christmas Eve When a bus starts off for an overnight journey. Different passengers with different mindsets take the bus and start the journey with moody and disturbed situations. The bus stops all of a sudden. Worried passengers then opens up talks to each other… one Passenger tell the importance of Christmas- “God sent his son Jesus to earth to take away all the pains from them and gifted them with the true life. Remembering his sacrifice we now celebrate Christmas and give away gifts to each other.” Strangers now became good friends and together got the divine message of Christmas.

Children sitting in a bus going to Newcastle

Finally Santa [brother Niraj Sharma & Mr Partha Commander] arrived from the North Pole on time. Children and the adults gave him a warm welcome with jingle bells song.

Children got gifts and sweets from Santa. Santa was so happy with the children that he paused for a group photo.

Our Celebrations then came to an end with the traditional song “WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR”.

We the Sai devotees from Slough Centre wish you all a very Holy, Happy and Healthy New Year.

AUM JAI SAIRAM
Madhuri Aitham

Region 3 - Talk by Reverend Leonora van Gils

How to use Swami’s teachings in our daily lives for lasting peace and happiness. (Transcript of a talk delivered by Reverend Leonora van Gils, Inter Faith Minister and Spiritual Counsellor to the devotees of Mill Hill Sai Centre on Sunday 14th December 2014).

The Christmas lights most certaily sparkled when Reverend Sister Leonora, an ordained Inter-Faith Minister, Spiritual Counsellor, International Healer and Allergy specialist shared her wonderful stories with the devotees of Mill Hill Sai Centre during her visit on 14th December.

“We all have so many stories, don’t we?” she said, then started off by explaining how important it is not to trip up on sad stories that we experience or hear from others, but learn only to extract the goodness by carefully selecting the bits that will help each of us find lasting peace and happiness. She then proceeded to respond to a series of questions, providing beautifully illustrated answers bringing out the learning in each case:

How should we feel... now that Swami is no longer present in His physical form? Rev Leonora shared how her own relationship with Swami has significantly changed since Swami had left His physical body. Whilst Swami was in His physical form, she had constantly felt the urge to visit Prasanthi Nilayam for darshan and physical proximity whereas now, her relationship with HIM was stronger than ever, because she felt that Swami was forever residing in her heart. She explained very simply that “it doesn’t matter that Swami is no longer with us in His physical form, as He is with us in all we do, every step of the way and it was important that we follow His teachings, remember that all we do is only for Him, surrendering ourselves and leaving the rest to Him”.

Life is not smooth sailing for anyone...so how do we find peace and happiness? Despite her calm, peaceful demeanour, we learnt that Rev Leonora too has experienced sad times and learnt to deal with each experience in turn. She shared how, after 37 years, one day completely out of the blue, her daughter sent her a letter stating that she didn’t want anything more to do with her. All communication with her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren was severed from that day. The devastation from this kind of news is colossal for any mother, and Rev Leonora couldn’t understand it, nor rectify it, so she asked Swami what she should do. She heard a strong voice telling her, “your daughter is not who you are. You are you, and you are here on your own journey, as she is on hers, if she needs this time alone give it to her with love”. Rev Leonora explained she had to find the strength to detach herself and she did this by continually praying, and by holding a loving space for that person to be able to grow on their journey. She explained “I sent my daughter love and light, praying for the mist to clear so they can see vividly and that I should not hold on to any grudges, nor any form of bitterness or resentment but to forgive them, as they did not know what they were doing...and were just hurting themselves and projecting their pain”. Rev Leonora asked devotees to detach, by remembering that we are not the body which is causing the thoughts in our minds, bringing us the ups and downs of life. To find lasting peace, she urged everyone to detach from the worries these situations cause, and just send love and explained that by practising the above, amazingly, her love for her daughter is now stronger than ever! “Attachment just leads to pain, sorrow and disappointment” Baba

Q: Can dreams be real? What messages can they deliver? In response to this question, Rev Leonora related a beautiful story, recalling when she was living in London some years back, treating Princess Diana. Shortly after Princess Diana passed away, Leonora took her daughter to swim with the wild dolphins in North West Florida. During their time there, Leonora one night had a dream that Princess Diana came to her and said, ‘Leonora, Leonora, I have a great request for you. Would you like to come and live here in Florida and take the sick children out to swim with the wild dolphins?’ With that, she woke up and her daughter who was asleep in the bed beside her suddenly said "Yes" in her sleep. The next morning Leonora asked her daughter if she had had a dream. ‘No’ her daughter initially replied, but then said, ‘Actually, yes. I dreamt of Princess Diana. There were all these dolphins around, and Princess Diana was calling my name.’ Prior to her trip to Florida, Rev Leonora had visited Prasanthi Nilayam and had had an interview with Swami and taken a picture of dolphins with her to show Him.

‘Aah, fish,’ He said. ‘No Swami, dolphins.’ ‘I know, I know,’ He said. ‘Dolphins are very special. They open the heart chakra’.
‘Swami, would you like me to move to Florida and take the sick children out to swim with the dolphins?’
‘Yes, yes, very happy. I’m always with you when you are working’ He said.

Hearing these divine words from the Lord Himself, was a unique and precious moment for Rev Leonora, validating her work. So she felt this dream of Princess Diana was a very strong message and she trusted that Swami was leading her in the right direction, and after making arrangements to close down her clinic in England, she left London for sunny Florida. Once she arrived in Florida, she didn’t know anybody and didn’t know what to do. Sister Leonora was inspired to write an article for a dolphin magazine to the dolphin guru called Dr Horace Dobbs, who had given a talk on dolphins at her daughter’s school. Soon after sending off the article, she found herself flooded with visitors, and thereafter her work with sick children and dolphins flourished. She remembered Swami’s words to her about her work and realised that having faith and courage in the steps you take is important, as Swami is with us in all the work that we do!

Q: With reference to the Sathya Sai seventh point code of conduct, where is the line drawn between arguing and raising your voice to make a point, especially when things don’t go our way? How do we control ourselves at such times? Rev Leonora responded by explaining that each time we shout, the recipient doesn’t hear the message we are trying to convey. All they hear is SHOUTING so the objective is not achieved. She reminded everyone of Swami’s advice to use soft, loving speech with everyone at all times, concluding that by speaking softly with love, not only will one be heard, but the situation will be calm with a much greater chance of success. “Speak softly and sweetly” Baba

Q: Reverend Leonora, how were you brought into Swami’s fold? Rev Leonora shared how her first trip to Swami was of course unforgettable. She explained how she was given a book on Swami titled, ‘Divine Memories’ by Diana Baskin, which she read without putting down...and then immediately decided to visit Prasanthi Nilayam, although her family were not keen on her visiting India on her own and knowing nobody there. Each time someone tried to persuade her not to go, she would heard a voice inside say "Trust me, I will look after you". She explained “from the very first moment, I experienced miracle upon miracle - how the trip came about, how I got there, where I stayed, where I sat...it was all Swami’s blessings. In fact I felt Swami completely transform me – with His pure divine magic! Even upon my return to London, people said how I had changed for the better both in the way I looked and behaved. It was then that I decided that I would dedicate my life to Swami”.

This led to the revered speaker taking groups on several trips to Prashanthi Nilayam, and several interviews were had. In one interview Swami patted her shoulder and said, “Good woman, but sometimes a little mad’. Swami then said, ‘I have something for you.’ He started materialising a beautiful ring, and asked for her to put her hand out. He pushed the ring onto her finger and it was a perfect fit. That was truly a moment one can never forget! As she went to bed that night, she took the ring off to look at and examine. ‘Swami, this ring is a bit rough, a bit scratchy!’ she thought. At that moment an inner voice said, ‘Yes, many rough edges I will smooth.’

Rev Leonora has since reflected much on Swami’s words...she felt that Swami was telling her that she had many rough edges, many things that she needed to work on myself, and He was going to help her smooth them out. There was a lesson here for each person as we could all relate to possessing “rough edges”! This experience showed how, through Swami’s teachings, these can be smoothed, through constant effort.

Q: Do you always have Swami in your mind? Rev Leonora responded “I have Swami in my mind 24 hours a day/7 days a week, but not just in my mind, also in my heart too. I try to repeat the name of the Lord whenever I can. It’s like Swami's name running like the blood that flows in my veins. I also have lots of pictures of Swami around me, so that I am surrounded by Him”. She also explained that another way of always remembering Swami constantly, was by asking the question, ‘How can I help someone’? as helping someone was serving Swami and she also reminded everyone of the feeling of the joy and happiness experienced from helping others. “Help ever, hurt never...love all, serve all” BABA

Q: You said that Swami told you, you were sometimes a little mad. I too have that! How do I deal with it? In response to this question, Rev Leonora reminded the audience that as long as we are in our bodies, we’re not perfect, so the edges need to be smoothed. It was important not to have “knee- jerk” reactions; take a deep breath before responding to anything upsetting, allowing time to reflect and ask ourselves, “Is there a message for me in this irritation? How can I put a stop to it? Is there something I can do that is good for me and good for the other person?”.

Q: What do you believe is the purpose of our lives? What are we trying to achieve and does it vary from one person to another? From her own experience, the learned speaker responded: “We’re all individuals, and I personally feel I am here to discover who I am. Swami has helped me discover who I am, and this is what has brought me lasting peace and happiness. He has taught me that I am none other than Swami. I have come to have an experience in this human body, I need to work on this, so that I can go home as perfect as possible, and be at peace. This is why we are here: to constantly realise who we are, why we are here, having experiences and it’s what we make of the experiences that makes us who we are". Sister Leonora has also come to realise that Swami is having His experience through each one of us. Shouldn’t we therefore make it a beautiful experience for Him in each and everything we do, by purifying our lives, but not forgetting to have fun at as well. Sister Leonora referred to how Swami embodied this in His own life...which was His message, reminding everyone present about Swami’s good humour in every situation. Refrain from getting sucked into negative energy. Do what you can and your best. Your responsibility is to shine out HIS love. “Life is a game, play it” BABA

Q: How do you deal with friends and family who have negative vibrations, and turn this into in a positive experience? In response to this question, Rev Leonora urged the audience to look within and ask ourselves why we are feeling hurt; why that person is behaving in such a manner...and if no immediate answer comes from within...to conclude that the other person must be in pain themselves, which is why they’re trying to hurt us. In this way, the problem becomes theirs, not ours.

Once again, the speaker stressed that self-analysis and questioning is the key to lasting happiness, as we are the only ones who knows the answers inside ourselves: “ Each of us is an individual and we all deal with things differently, so we must become our own healer. We can only do this by Self-enquiry. If a person is suffering, what can we do? We send them love and light which will go straight to their soul and will start the healing process”.

Q: It’s very difficult to deal with family members who are not Sai devotees. Should we try and make them believe, or just leave them to it? The learned speaker reminded us that it is not up to us as to what our friends and family members do and if we are disturbed by their actions, it takes energy away from us. Our job IS to hold a loving space for them and pray for them.

Thus Revered Leonora’s inspiring talk came to an end, uplifting the audience with her heartfelt, loving advice. The exceptional questions raised by the SSSE children and parents were answered with simplicity and completeness, all stemming from our Beloved Swami’s invaluable teachings. Thus devotees were lovingly reminded of the endless miracles, the lessons taught, the messages given, the answers to their prayers. It was no wonder that an overflow of love for Swami filled the hall, which was summarised perfectly in the vote of thanks by Sister Nita Wadhwani, as she urged everyone to put into practice some of what had been heard from Reverend Leonora, and practice feeling and giving this love to each and every one, there by achieving everlasting peace and happiness.

JAI SAI RAM!

Nita Wadhwani
Sutopa Sen

Region 4 - Coventry Sai Centre SSE Christmas Celebrations

Coventry SSE celebrated their end of term with Christmas Spirit. The celebration commenced with 3 Aums and Universal Prayers. This was followed by readings from the SSE children to convey the messages of Jesus Christ and Sathya Sai Baba. The children were reminded of the true meaning of Christmas and showed their understanding of why the birth of Jesus Christ took place over 2000 years ago.

A Christmas quiz and a game of Charades brought excitement and delight to the children. The Nursery children were quizzed on the story of Christmas which had been previously read to them in their SSE lesson two weeks prior to the celebration.

The older children had organised a game of Charades for the children and also asked parents to join in with the fun. It was great to see the parents participating.

After this, the children entertained their parents and visitors with singing Christmas Carols and uplifting the energy in the room.

The celebration concluded with showering the children with special gifts - they were encouraged to appreciate the meaning behind their gifts. Each child was presented with an electric candle light, a decorative bookmark with quotes and chocolates. The children were asked to switch on this light of love on Christmas Day to remember spreading the Divine Love of Jesus Christ and to offer prayers of gratitude to Sathya Sai Baba for giving them the strength and guidance in their lives. The special decorative bookmark is a reminder of Baba’s messages on the Blessings of Life, and of course, the chocolate was a Christmas treat! The Gurus were also showered by the generous and kind words via a phone call from the Centre Chair – Kishorbhai Mistry, who could not be present at this celebration as he was assisting at another event with the collection of food parcels. He thanked the Gurus for their hard work and dedication with SSE.

We are very grateful to Baba for bringing joy and love in the hearts of our SSE children, who continually enjoy the pleasures of learning and attending SSE classes.

Jai Sai Ram.
Coventry SSE Gurus

Region 5 - New Years Day Bhajans

Devotional singing (bhajan) is one of the processes by which you can train the mind to expand into eternal values. Teach the mind to revel in the glory and majesty of God; wean it away from petty horizons of pleasure . Devotional singing induces in you a desire for experiencing the truth, to glimpse the beauty that is God, to taste the bliss that is the Self. It encourages man to dive into himself and be genuinely his real Self.
Sathya Sai Baba (SSS VII, 497-498)

On 1st January, as in the past seventeen years, Gita Bhavan Mandir, Manchester vibrated with the sound of Sai Bhajans. This event is held at the request of the temple Trustees.

The atmosphere was conducive to the Bhajan singing, beautifully adorned idols of deities and Bhagwan Baba looked on benignly blessing the singers and worshippers. Bhajans of all faith sung with devotion and gusto rang through the building.

Regular worshippers of the temple and others of all ages, who came to pay their respects and receive blessings for the coming year, stood in reverence, listening to the bhajans. Outside, the cold and wet winters afternoon gave way to a warm and uplifting atmosphere inside.

Bhajans lasted over three hours. Aarati was offered to the deities and Bhagawan Baba by the Priest of the temple. Prasaad (fruits and sweets) was distributed to one and all.

Enjoying a wonderful day in the company of those who want to start the New Year with divine blessing and wishing Happy New Year to one another, the crowd dispersed with uplifting hearts.

Region 5 reporter

Region 6 - Farnborough Sai Centre Christmas Celebrations

A Christmas Satsang was held on Sunday, 21st December by the Farnham and Farnborough Sai groups.

Carols were sung and readings about Christmas and the importance of Jesus were read from Swami's discourses and Father Charles Ogada's Untold Story of Christmas. Maurice Allen introduced the day with a few, very pertinent words about Jesus and his purpose as an Avatar. Dr Chun gave a deep and thought provoking talk entitled, "Jesus as Savior". As the role of the donkey in the Bible Story is so important and key to saving the unborn Jesus from Herod's wrath, a little time was spent honoring the patient, humble donkey and remembering the plight of donkeys worldwide, many of them enduring lives of utter misery and hardship in the service of humankind. This was highlighted with the use of short films.

Six SSE children from Farnborough really excelled themselves when they all participated in short readings and a poem about Christmas and the message of Jesus and also in singing two carols very well, "Little Drummer Boy" and "How far is it to Bethlehem?" In the afternoon, we were all thrilled to welcome Mrs Phyllis Krystal who held a question and answer session and in doing so, imparted some very wise and helpful information for us all to follow.

The afternoon ended with more carol singing and a very important message from Swami about implementing the true message of Christmas.

Region 6 - Rochester Sai Centre Christmas Programme

Christmas programme presented by the Bal Vikas children

The Christmas programme was celebrated by Rochester Sai Centre on 13th December 2014 with great enthusiasm and high energy. The programme was commenced with the Slokas – mantras and the multi – faith prayers. The main performance of the programme was offered by the Bal Vikas children with love. All the children were very happy and joyful with Christmas spirit.

Our Bal Vikas children performed a very special programme in the divine presence of our beloved Swami. The first item was the story. They narrated a special story called ‘The Christmas story’. The children read with so much confidence and full gusto. They explained how the Christmas celebration was started by Lord Jesus.

The programme was followed by Divine songs sung by Swami’s daughters Royna (SSE2) and Sohum (SSE 1).

Then our dear Swami’s son Aadesh (SSE2) offered a beautiful presentation called “The Presentation of Bible”, created by himself.

At the end of the Balvikas programme, all the Sai children sang a unison Christmas Carol called “On a Starry night”. It was so beautiful that all the devotees felt energised and were filled with Love.

The children were so excited and overjoyed to see the Father Christmas and they fully enjoyed interacting with him. It was fun.

At Rochester Sai centre all the gurus support each other and the children to promote the confidence, positiveness, self - esteem, equality, resilience, inclusion, and mainly to be Divine, feeling God and Godliness in their hearts and among all. As gurus we are very pleased to see the changes and growth in the children spiritually, which is helping them in every aspect of their lives. And which is very evident to their families as well. We are confident that our Bal Vikas children with Swami’s Divine grace will become the beacons of Swami’s love and the role models for others.

Jai Sai Ram
(Bal Vikas Gurus)

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"Love and Light"
© Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (UK) 2013

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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.