July 2014 Edition

Quote

To reach the presence of the source of bliss, that is, God, you must tread the footsteps of the great saints and seekers, like Jayadeva, Gauranga, Mira, Ramakrishna and others. Practise their teachings, follow their example. The path of dedicated activity, of surrender to the Highest, of incomparable love towards the Embodiment of Prema – that is the sweetest path, giving joy at every step. Hari Nama (the Name of the Lord) which all seekers had on their tongue is described by them as sweeter than all the sweet things put together.
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Sanatana Sarathi, December 2010

~ Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Events

UK National Retreat 2014

Articles

Hazelborough Wood 2014

Holy Ramadan: Eid Mubarak

National Pilgrimage – Final Sadhana Meeting

Professor Nanjundaiah: Our Special Guest At The National Retreat

Region 1 - Age Link Party at Tooting

Region 1 - Brixton Sai Centre Fundays: Days of Fun with Older People

Region 1 - Calling All Butterflies to Hazelborough Wood: The National Environment Project

Region 1 - Young Adults Programme: Service to Man...

Region 2 - Harrow West Sai Centre at Hare Krishna Organic Farm

Region 2 - Talk by Dr Kiran Patel at London West Sai Centre

Region 3 - 29th Annual Multi-faith Pilgrimage

Region 4 - Tapovanam Reading

Region 6 - Ellens Green Satsang

Rudra Ekaadhashini Homam

Sai Spiritual Education the Pathway to Excellence

Editorial

The allegorical story in the famous book, The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyon in 1678, depicts a spiritual journey from the ‘City of Destruction’ (world) to the ‘Celestial City’ atop Mt.Zion (Heaven). In this epic journey, the pilgrim encounters many characters such as Ignorance, Talkative, Mr. Fearing, Atheist, The Flatterer, Giantess Diffidence, Giant Despair, Lord Hate-good, Mr.Feeble-Mind, Mr. Ready-to-Halt etc. But he befriends characters such as Mercy, Faithful, Watchful, Piety, Sagacity etc along the narrow but straight path to the Celestial City, and is guided further to his destination by others such as Knowledge, Experience, Humble-Mind, Mr. Great-Heart and Hopeful.

Many pilgrims through the millennia have embarked on such an adventurous journey in real life and have succeeded in reaching the destination. In 2014, about 50 pilgrims from the United Kingdom too, have embarked on such a pilgrimage to the ‘Celestial City’, the holiest of holies, Prasanthi Nilayam! In the past 3-4 months, they prepared for this spiritual journey by befriending virtues such as Chanting, Meditation, Devotional Singing, Ceiling on Desires etc; they are being guided by faith, love and grace of Bhagawan Baba to their destination. Another recent pilgrimage, the 29th Annual Westminster Multifaith Pilgrimage in London in which our Sai family participated in large numbers, also depicts the innate urge of the pilgrims to return to the Common Source.

Sincere heartfelt Prayer and unflinching Hope have always been the soothing companions for any pilgrim. They light the path and guide us safely despite the surrounding darkness. The holy month of Ramadan, when about a quarter of the world’s population are engrossed in such prayers, gives us hope. The 1000 or so devotees who participated with great enthusiasm and devotion in the recently concluded Rudra Homam Prayers at the Balaji Temple in Birmingham, gives us hope and energy to progress on the path.

Traversing through a world that is ravaged by both man-made and natural disasters such as wars, floods and famines can be wearisome for even the most determined pilgrim. But the company of fellow aspirants tends to be quite refreshing indeed. It is in this spirit that Satsangs like the one at Ellen’s Green and Retreats such as the forthcoming National Sai Retreat in Llandudno, Divine Grace: The Fountain of Eternal Joy, where Professor Nanjundaiah from Prasanthi Nilayam will share his experiences and enable us to quench our thirst to some extent, play an important role in facilitating a pilgrim’s progress onwards and Godwards.

Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, our Jagathguru, Mahadguru and Sathguru (Universal and Great Teacher of Eternal Truth) teaches us that the ‘Celestial City’ is indeed within us! It is within our reach too! He assures us that we will ‘be’ in this heavenly city of eternal bliss when we fill our hearts with love and engage our beings in service. Even as we celebrate the sacred Gurupoornima in our Centres, it is important to remember and live His core teaching: To Be is To Serve, just as He did and demonstrated to us during His Physical Sojourn.

It is thus heartening to read in this issue about the National Envirocare Service project, the Hare Krishna Organic Farm project, and the ‘Fundays’ with the elderly. Even the children are being taught these key values of love and service in our SSE. It is uplifting to see every pilgrim in the Sathya Sai International Service Organisation march together in this journey towards our Divine Source, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

Dr. Veeru Mudigonda
National Vice Chair
SSSSO UK

Hazelborough Wood 2014

Having had several days of sometimes, torrential rain one wondered what the weather would be like on Sunday 29th June for the national service activity in Northamptonshire at Hazelborough Wood. We didn’t need to worry though as Swami had it all sewn up for us! It was a glorious day with light showers after lunch – well there was no catnapping after a sumptuous lunch, as there was much to do!

The Sai Mission for the day was to start clearing the King Richards Trail that had become completely overgrown and looked more like the sort of jungle that Richard Attenborough might frequent. This ancient woodland that was 600 years old if not more, of majestic oak had long ago been witness to King Richard and his royal entourage on hunting expeditions hence the name for the trail.

Blackthorn, Hawthorn, and Hazel are abundant. The wildlife that inhabit these woods include Muntjack and the very shy fallow deer might be spotted early morning or dusk. Grass snakes also make their home in the dense undergrowth, fortunately it’s not to the taste of Adders, and not to mention a cacophony of birds and butterflies. But, because the area is becoming so overgrown the conditions are affecting the life cycle of the plants and fauna, in particular the nationally rare Wood White butterfly is in decline. In cutting back trees and bushes it would allow light into the wood and the seedlings for example Vetch (a member of the pea family) and Stitchwort that has a pretty star shaped white flower (when the seed capsules ripen they can be heard ‘popping’ in late Spring) can then grow and are perfect for attracting butterflies. It is an absolute haven tucked away from the craziness of the World.

Sai devotees arrived from around the UK armed with tools and gardening gloves and smiles on their faces despite some getting incredibly lost touring Silverstone race track and heading in the complete opposite direction! There were 55 of us in total all raring to go! We were also joined by a lovely group of volunteers (namely John, Diana, Ian, Jake and David) from the local community whose passion for nature conservation would pull them regularly to the woods to lend a hand. The group that meets regularly consists of 16 people in total of varying ages that was begun by the Forestry Commission approximately 5 months ago. On speaking to them during the day they said that it not only helps the woods, it also allows quality time for members of families to get together and it’s fun.

On first view of the section of King Richards trail it looked like a mammoth task yet the teams (including ‘The A Team’ but without the tank!) took it in their stride and piles of branches and trees were mounting quickly. These will either get burnt or be left for wildlife to make home. The original trail soon became very clear and the rays of sunshine were able to break through easily and warm those hidden seedlings. Butterflies danced across the long grasses, as did 3 friendly Spaniels – they thoroughly enjoyed the attention of so many people and were happy to offer a hug for anyone who happened to be taking a break. The dogs belong to Jo and fellow forestry co-worker Helen. Region 4, have worked with Jo before when she was based at Salcey Forest and Jo happened to mention that she loved working with us all … and we all loved the opportunity to be with them both outside, in the fresh air and enjoying nature, seeing the results fairly instantly. Many photos were taken and a few of the comments are included here:

The question was “what brought you here and are you having fun?”

“Enjoying myself in the open environment having a satsung with devotees and the trees! It’s a great idea to be outside and so much more can be achieved as a national project with more helping hands. It’s also great to be working with the local community”

“Here to cut trees and have a good National get together. It’s great to interact with devotees from all over the UK and it’s a good mix of youth and adults. It needs to be more regular.”

“It’s great to be doing something different to the norm and I’m enjoying the fresh air”

There was no shortage of good humour and fun during the whole day either…

“I’m a Sai devotee, get me out of here!” came the cry from one of the youth obviously a reaction to seeing the video camera in action!

The day ended with a prayer for the environment, a poem:

“When upon life’s billows, you are tempest tossed.
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you, what the Lord has done”

There were also bhajans and a couple of quotes from Swami for everyone to take home in their hearts:

“In ancient times, sages and scientists commended the Ayurvedic system of treatment as it was considered a natural system for curing diseases. Trees play a vital role in helping mankind receive oxygen from the atmosphere; they absorb the carbon dioxide exhaled by human beings. Hence the ancients favored the growing of the trees to control atmospheric pollution. But nowadays, trees are cut down indiscriminately and pollution is on the increase. The relationship between man and trees is indicated by the term vanaspati in the Ayurveda” Sai Baba SSN Spring 1994 p5

“The atmosphere today is polluted by bad thoughts and feelings. When you sing the glory of God, the bad germs in the air are destroyed and the air gets purified by a treatment with antibiotics as it were.” Baba

Swami had given us a fabulous day spent in an amazing environment with much good company. If you weren’t there then you missed a treat so please come along to the next one … a lot was achieved but King Richards Trail needs finishing!

Jai Sai Ram

Jenni Robson
Region 4 Spiritual Co-ordinator

Holy Ramadan: Eid Mubarak

“God is One; there are not many Gods, one for each tribe among men! Love is One; it transcends caste, colour and creed, if it has to be genuine. Truth is One; there cannot be two. For, two can only be One, occurring twice. The Goal is One; for, all roads must lead to the One God. Why then should men quarrel and fight over the Eternal and the Absolute?” - Sathya Sai Baba (Divine Discourse 12th October 1983

Throughout the past 4 weeks, Muslims world-wide have been observing the holy month of Ramadan (also called Ramzan) which is spent in prayer and fasting. It is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and represents the Five Spiritual Pillars of Islam, namely Shahadah which relates to Truth; Salah which relates to Peace; Zakat which relates to Right Conduct, Sawm which relates to Non –Violence and Haji which relates to Love. Beloved Bhagawan Sathya Sai Baba tells us that these five spiritual pillars, the five human values, are the very bases of the inner and outer worlds!

Beloved Bhagawan has very wonderfully elaborated on the meanings of Muslim and Islam.

“All founders of religions have heard this impersonal Voice of God revealing the Aathma that activates the entire Creation. Just as the Vedhas (revealed sacred scriptures) were ’heard’ and propagated as ‘heard’ (Shruthi), the Quran too was ‘heard’ by Hazrath Muhammad. The Quran has Salat and Zakat as the two eyes. Salat means prayer; Zakat means charity. Those who consider charity as a high duty and elevate their consciousness through prayers and continuous meditation on God are Muslims. Islam is a word which denotes not a particular religion but a state of mind, the state of total surrender to the Will of God. Islam means dedication, surrender, peace, tranquillity.

Islam denotes the social community whose members have achieved supreme peace through surrender to the All-Merciful, All-Powerful God and who have vowed to live in peace with their fellowmen. Later, it came to be applied to communities that considered themselves separate and different and so hostile to the rest. Islam taught something higher. It directed attention to the One in the Many, the Unity in Diversity and led people to the Reality named God.” ssspeaks/volume16/sss16-14

Like the followers of other major religions of the world, many devout Muslims too have been drawn to Bhagawan Baba’s divine love, compassion and the resonance in his teachings with Islam. Here are a few excerpts from Radiosai Heart to Heart Journal for our study and contemplation on this holy occasion. http://media.radiosai.org/journals/Vol_06/01MAR08/03-coverstory.htm

Professor Abdul Razak Baburao Korbu merged in the Lord on May 27, 2000 at his residence at Jaisingpur, Maharasthra , India . Prof. Abdul’s wife is a very devout and orthodox Muslim and had great difficulty believing in the reality of Sai Baba. Below is a story of how the All Compassionate, All Merciful Sai dissolved her fears and brought her to the realization of the Islamic Truth: God is One.

The Divine Invitation

Beloved Sai Baba had invited me to bring my wife to Puttaparthi. My wife blatantly refused this request. I pleaded with her so many times using many persuasions: I am not forcing you to go to any temple at Puttaparthi, or to do namaskar to Sai Baba or to bow at His Feet. You will just accompany me. Is it not said that the wife should see the husband as a spiritual head?"

My wife retorted sharply: "Don‘t quote the scriptures for your advantage. Why are you forcing me to go there?" "I am not forcing you", I said. "It is Sai Baba Himself who has called you." Then, to my greatest relief she said, “Alright, I will come on the condition that I will not do namaskar in front of anyone and I will not bow down to anyone‘s feet."

On the second day of our arrival Sai Baba called us for an interview. My wife entered the interview room with a taciturn face. She did not do namaskar or bow down at Swami‘s Feet. However, on Swami’s Face was a celestial smile. I tried to apologize to Swami saying: "Baba, Please forgive her." And Swami said: "Keep quiet. You talk too much." My wife gave me a strong look of disapproval.

God is the Doctor of Doctors

Below is an English translation of the brief conversation between Baba and my wife in Hindi.

Baba: "How are you, my bachhi (child)?"
My wife did not feel like answering, but the word ’Bachhi’ made her open up. Looking at the floor, she answered.
Baba: "How many children do you have?"
Naseem: "Four. Three sons and a daughter."
Baba: "What do they do?"
Naseem: "Two are practicing law. Two are studying. Daughter is doing medicine."
Baba: "Very good. I am very happy."
After this my wife felt better, but I was uneasy. Then Baba turned towards me and enquired about my teaching at the college.
Baba: "Abdul, tell me if you desire anything from Me."
Abdul: "Nothing Baba. But ....."
Before I could complete the sentence, Baba indicated by His Hand to stop talking. Although Baba told me to ask, I was not in an appropriate state of mind to do so. Naseem was sitting in the meditative position of Namaaz, with face looking down and both hands folded on her knees.
To my wife, Baba said again "Meri bachhi" (My child). It was very touching when Baba called her "Meri bachhi!" Naseem became slightly relaxed and for the first time raised her head to look at Baba. In a very casual manner, Baba asked her, "Don’t you want your own son?"

His Love Pulls us Beyond the Barriers of Religion

Now I became completely relaxed. With this question, Baba gazed into Naseem’s eyes without batting His eyelids. Naseem was transfixed with her eyes looking at Baba only. This Divine communion went on for a short time. Then suddenly, as if pulled by some invisible force, she fell at Baba’s Feet and plaintively murmured, "Oh! Mere Baba" (Oh! My Baba).

Her whole body was trembling. She was profusely weeping and washing Baba’s feet with her tears! I was about to go near her and help, but Baba signaled me to sit quiet. Baba picked up His handkerchief, wiped His face and lips, and sat at ease. Except for the sound of Naseem’s sobbing, there was pin-drop silence.

After a few minutes, Baba said “Utho mere bachhi” (get up my child). Naseem managed to get up and sat up. In her hand she held a corner of Baba’s robe which was hanging on the floor.

And Allah Says, "Be" and It is

Baba looked at me, kept His hand on my left shoulder and told me to sit next to my wife, who was still sobbing. Continuing to look at me, Swami said, "This lady is pregnant from this moment. She will deliver a very intelligent son on a nationally important day. She will deliver one more son on another important day."

Oh! My jaw dropped and I was amazed. Slowly speaking, I said, "Baba, the doctors confirmed that.........." Cutting off my sentence, Baba said, "What doctors? Doctors – I am the Doctor of doctors!" Naseem and I both understood, and both of us fell at His Feet again. In this manner, Naseem did ’Sai Namaz’ prayers twice.

As a prologue to this Divine Drama, I have to narrate that I married my second wife, Naseem, about eight years back. She did not bear any child for a long time so we consulted gynaecologists at Kolhapur who declared that it is not possible for her to conceive due to blockages of tubes, O-Rh-negative blood, etc. But Naseem loved my first wife and her four children without any reservations. And the children too loved her very much. That was the reason why when Baba asked, “How many children?” She gave a firm answer, “four”.

After returning form Puttaparthi, on the second day I went to Dr. (Mrs.) Meenatai, and told her that Naseem is pregnant and will deliver a son and later on a second son. Meenatai looked at me doubtfully as she had thoroughly checked Naseem just prior to our leaving for Puttaparthi.

Then I narrated to Meenatai all that had happened at Prasanthi Nilayam. She and her Bhadre family members were devotees of Sai Baba of Shirdi. She was suspicious of Sathya Sai Baba. However, she said, "I do agree that this is possible only with the Divine Omni Will.”

On the appointed date, I took Naseem to the clinic. After carrying out necessary medical examination they reported "the pregnancy has been clinically confirmed."

In this manner, as per Baba’s Divine Will, Naseem gave birth to her first son on October 2, 1993 coinciding with the birth centenary of Mahatma Gandhi – a nationally important day! Swami Himself performed the naming ceremony and gave him the name ’Sai Baksh’ which means “Sai’s Gift”.

Naseem gave birth to her second child, a boy, on November 19, 1994 . This day is the birth date of Indira Gandhi! The naming ceremony was done at our home and the boy was named ’Sai Kalam’ as per Baba’s wish. The sacred verses of Quran are called ’Aayat’ and the second line of ’Aayat’ is called ’Kalam’.

Professor Korbu narrates another incident

Say He is Allah Who Holds the Heavens and Earth in One Finger and Who says ‘Be’ and It Is

Sai Baba called me for an interview. Within the interview room, Beloved Swami put a question to me which captured me fully:

Baba: "I know that you have faith in Me, but you do not believe in My Power with which I create articles. Is it not so?"
I could not think of anything to say. In a way, I was happy that finally this topic has surfaced as I was still not fully satisfied on this account. I wanted to see and experience it myself. During the past five years, I spoke of Baba and about Baba to scientists, doctors and other learned persons.
I could not answer their questions on creation of objects from sheer Will. I felt it maybe because I did not experience it or I had no adequate knowledge about it due to my half-hearted efforts.
Abdul: "Forgive me, Baba. It is so."
Baba: "Your absence of belief in My Power of Creation is genuine and inquisitive also. I like your frankness and love you. It is very good that you do not take anything for granted. Your faith in Me is not blind; very good. Now I am telling you to ask Me for anything and I shall give it to you here and now. Take your time and ask for anything you desire."
Now I had a break. I had seen a number of objects created by Baba and handled them also. I was convinced about the genuineness of the articles, but I was not sure whether Baba Himself created them. After thinking for a while, knowing very well that there were very few Muslims among Baba’s devotees, I decided to ask for an impossible article no one has seen so far!
Abdul: "Baba, please give me such a thing which embodies in it the entire Universe and only my own religion is shown on it."
Baba: (With a sweet smile) "Abdul, do you really think that you have put an impossible request before Me?" Without a reply, I kept on staring at Baba.
Baba: "Look at My Palm. Do you see anything in it? Nothing is in My palm or behind it. You can verify it." Baba turned His Palm upside down, His cape was above the elbow. I could not dare to hold His Hand. Then Baba caught my wrist forcefully and moved my palm from around His palm to His elbow.
Baba: "Now, go on looking at the centre of My palm for some time."

Within seven to eight seconds, the skin in the centre of His palm opened up and I saw a round large sized object coming out of it, soon the skin became normal as before and there was a beautiful luminous ring there.
Baba: (In Hindi) "You pick it up and give it in My hand. Before that have a careful look at it."
As ordered by Baba, I picked up the ring and inspected it very carefully. It had a crescent moon and a star engraved in gold. I put it back in Baba’s palm.
Abdul: "Baba, I cannot understand anything about this ring. Please explain."
Baba: "You are only born as a Muslim. You do not understand anything about Islam."
That was the truth. I am not a religious person in the true sense.
Baba: "I have made this gold ring in Asta konas (Octangular), embedded Nava-ratnas (nine gems), both represent the Universe, and in the middle of the navaratnas I have put the Islamic symbol of the star and crescent in emeralds (green gem stones.)"
Abdul: "Baba, where is the Muslim religion on this ring?"
Baba: "Look at these green stones. That is your religion. Now I will put this ring on the fourth finger of your left hand as your right hand finger is disfigured."
With this talk, Baba put the heavy ring on the said finger. Ah! It fitted perfectly. I bowed down again at His feet, now with plenty of tears. After a few minutes, I followed Baba to the outer chamber. Baba told the nine foreigners, who were waiting in there, about the ring and described me as "My naughty devotee?" I came to the outer veranda. The fourth finger of my left hand became heavy with the ring which had a heavy sparkling beauty.
Prof. Kasturi’s attention was drawn to it at first. He raised my palm, examined the ring minutely and exclaimed, "I have never seen such a beautiful creation by Swami so far! These are navaratnas (The Nine Universes). But what is this in the middle green portion of the ring? Is it Aum?"
Dr. V. K. Gokak, who also examined it, said, "It is not Aum certainly. Whatever it may be, this ring is an exquisite beauty. I am also witnessing such a creation by Swami for the first time." A few other devotees also saw this ring and touched it to their foreheads and eyes.
I had almost lost my speech, finding it difficult to utter even a single word. As I came into the Darshan hall, a very large number of devotees surrounded me, amongst them were many foreigners.
One of them was a bearded American devotee. He came near me saw the ring closely, took my hand with the ring, put it on his chest and said, "All Hum do Allah!” (Oh! God, your pastime is fathomless).
I was astonished by this and asked him to tell me more. He answered, "I am a Muslim. The ring reveals that you too are a Muslim." I asked him again, "How did you make this out?". He said, "Can you read Arabic?" When I answered in the negative, he clarified, "It is inscribed in the middle all in green." I further asked, "What is the meaning of the inscription?" He answered: "It is ‘Allah’ in Arabic."
At that time I came to know that Baba has inscribed the word "Allah" in the centre of the green emerald stone. I had asked Baba for my religion, and Baba blessed me in this wonderful manner! Who else but Allah that can Say, ‘Be’ and It is! To Him we bow down in worship.

Below is an account by Dr. Zeba Basheeruddin

Dr. Zeba Basheeruddin, a Professor of English from Hyderabad who served for many years in Sri Sathya Sai University, initially thought the ’I am’ in the inscription referred to the physical body of Sai Baba, but changed her opinion later when Sai Baba revealed His Omnipresence to her. When Sathya Sai Baba says “I” He does not refer to His physical body but to the Universal Eternal Consciousness; the ‘I AM THAT I AM’. (Exodus 3:14)

‘Say He is Allah, the Omnipresent’

"I had once engaged my three children in a difficult task, as I was unable to attend to it myself. Many hours had gone by; but the children had not returned. I was worried about their safety. With emotions of fear mingled with hope, I sat at the doorstep scanning the street. Sensing my tension, my mother calmly started chanting ’AyatuI Kursi’ [Lines in Koran ensuring safety and security]. After some time, she closed her eyes and remained silent. Minutes ticked by; but there was no sign of the children coming. The silence aggravated my tension. Why did mother stop praying? What could have happened? After a seemingly long spell of fifteen minutes, mother opened her eyes and asked, "Does your Baba have large eyes?"

"Yes, He has." I replied.
The next query was, "Has He got thick hair neatly set around His head?" The third one threw more light on the identity. "Does He wear a long Kurta reaching down to His Feet?" Definitely the description was that of Baba. What she told me after that was extremely important as far as I was concerned. She revealed, "As I was chanting the prayers from Qur’an, I had the vision of your three children in my inner eye. Baba was also with them." Oh God! Oh my God! What a relief! What a fool I was to be worried! I informed mother that Baba had promised to protect the children right from their birth. My mother, who firmly believed in the Formless Allah, was not a Sai devotee. She explained that Sai Baba’s promise was not referring to His Physical Form, but to the Power of His Omnipresence. Sai is Al Hafiz [The Protector]. The children were back safe and sound, within an hour." [Sai Baba – Mercy to the Worlds P. 19, 20.]

Bhagawan has wonderfully articulated the inner meaning behind fasting and drawing parallels from the practises of the other religions. He has said,

The Ramzan month is set apart for the holy task of bringing into memory and practice the teachings that Hazrath Muhammad conveyed and attaining that stage of unity and purity which is truly Divine. Islam gives importance to the Moon which regulates the months. Hindhus consider the Moon as the deity presiding over the mind. With the dharshan of the New Moon, the Ramzan fast begins and when the New Moon is seen again, the fast ends. ’Fast’ does not consist in merely desisting from food and drink. The fast starts at sunrise and is broken’ only after sunset and is observed most rigourously.

The Quran lays down that all men should cultivate the sense of unity, of interdependence, of selfless love and of the immanence of Divinity. Generally, all men take food of some kind or other for the body five times a day: an early cup of coffee in bed, breakfast two hours later, a heavy lunch at noon, tea at four and a fat dinner at nine. Islam prescribes food for the spiritual nature of man and directs that it be taken five times a day, as prayer. For the arousal of the Aathmic consciousness, for earning spiritual joy and for promoting the manifestation of Aathmic illumination, prayer is prescribed as many as five times a day.” ssspeaks/volume16/sss16-14

Another excerpt from an excellent article by Revered Professor G. Venkataraman

At this point, I would like to narrate an incident that took place many years ago, when I was the Vice Chancellor. One afternoon, after thedarshan and the Interview sessions were over, Swami called me in as usual. After I was asked to be seated, Swami asked me, “Do you know what happened this morning?” I replied, “No Swami” as I was busy in the University. Swami then continued: “This morning, I called a group from Iran for Interview”. Here I must mention that from time to time, Iranians do come here in groups and they have been doing so for years. A good many of them have had amazing experiences and in fact, some years ago, a whole series of discourses were translated into Persian by Iranian devotees and broadcast over Radio Sai. But that is not what I wish to discuss now, and so let me get back to what Swami told me. He said, “Inside the Interview room, some Iranian devotees said to Me: ‘Swami, please perform the Upanayanam of this boy and initiate him into the Gayathri.’ And do you know what I did?” Naturally, I replied, “No Swami.” He then said, “I shall tell you. I asked them, ‘Why do you want this boy to chant Vedic Mantras when he should be chanting verses from the Koran? All religions sing hymns to praise the same God. It is better for your boy to learn to be a better Muslim than to learn new verses from some other religion.’ The Iranians were surprised. I then spoke to them at length about the Glory of Islam, and repeatedly advised them that they should all be good Muslims!” This was not all; Swami told me that one reason why He was very insistent was that the Iranian devotees did not really understand the dangers they would face if back home they started chanting hymns from other religions. Since there was a strong streak of fundamentalism in their native land, they would be exposing their lives to danger; it was to prevent them from coming to harm that they were dissuaded, Swami explained. If that is not compassion, then what it is?

Full Article at http://media.radiosai.org/journals/Vol_06/01NOV08/muslim-4.htm

“I have not come to speak on behalf of any particular religion. I have not come on any mission of publicity for any sect or creed or cause; nor have I come to collect followers for any doctrine. I have no plan to attract disciples or devotees into My fold or any fold. I have come to tell you of this Universal unitary faith, this Atmic principle (principle of the Oneness), this path of love, this Dharma of Prema (nature of love), this duty of love, this obligation to love.” – Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Dear brothers and sisters, let us join our Muslim brothers and sisters in Ramadan prayers for peace and happiness in the lives of all beings in the world. Let us join them in singing the Glory of God, our common Divine Source. Allah Hu Akbar!

Editorial Team,
Love and Light

National Pilgrimage – Final Sadhana Meeting

The third and final sadhana meeting in preparation of our National Pilgrimage ‘Sai Samarpanam – One with Sai’ was held on Saturday 19th July.

A group of 50 pilgrims will soon be departing to the holiest of holy places, the abode of our Lord where many of us saw Him, touched Him, spoke with, and felt the bliss of being one with God! Even today, it is the place which fills us with amazement and inspiration, with hope and joy, with immense love and peace.

This being the last sadhana meeting, there was a great excitement and anticipation amongst all of us in the group. Any apprehensions about the journey soon faded away as the knowing that our Lord takes charge of our beings took hold: A knowing that usually happens almost imperceptibly in the sacred company of kindred aspirants! Apart from the frantic preparations in terms of finalising travel plans, accommodation, filling various forms, and instructions regarding matters such as general discipline, dress code etc., the day offered opportunities for individual and collective reflection too!

We were graced by the surprise company of Dr K L N Swami who served as principal to the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Brindavan Campus during the period 1995-2002. With humility, simplicity and with a great sense of humour, Dr Swami reminisced his early days on how he was drawn in to the divine fold.

He was a devotee living in Orissa, India. Looking around, he noticed a big deficiency in education. This inspired him to start a school. With little money, he made a start. Knocking at people’s doors, he succeeded in getting 20-25 children enrolled in the school. He personally used to pick up the children and drop them back at their homes on a bicycle! The school gradually grew in strength and reputation, despite resistance from a few jealous locals. Today, this little school is a well reputed and successful college! Dr Swami narrated how he felt Swami’s Divine Guidance in all those years of hardwork rendered with complete faith and love in Bhagawan. And in 1988, he was granted an opportunity to join Bhagawan’s University to serve as a lecturer in the Prasanthi Nilayam Campus initially.

Dr Swami cautioned the pilgrims not to fall prey to the mistake of considering Bhagawan Baba as an ordinary guru. Bhagawan, he said, was a unique phenomenon. He expressed this unflinching faith by saying that there was One God, and He was Sathya Sai Baba! Dr Swami truly believed that the moment one stepped into Prasanthi Nilayam, they would have no further births. Although Bhagawan was physically not there, He was 100% there in Prasanthi Nilayam. Bhagawan’s headquarters was in Prasanthi Nilayam and in no other place, he emphasised.

He elaborated on recent reports which talked about ‘subtle bodies’ of Swami or Swami appearing in someone’s dreams and instructing them. These experiences if true, were for the concerned individuals only, based on the relationship between that individual and Bhagawan, he said. Unfortunately, there are people trying to take undue advantage of Bhagawan’s physical absence, he commented.

Dr Swami’s talk was filled with the joy of his experiences with Bhagawan, many of which were humorous. He reflected that although Bhagawan was the Almighty Lord, He engaged with those around Him in a very human way too, so as to establish kinship and give joy.

Dr Swami’s presence at the sadhana meeting was clearly an icing on the cake before the pilgrims embarked upon one of the greatest journeys of their lives.

We look forward to a week-long stay 27th July to 2nd August in the hallowed precincts to saturate our beings with the divine vibrations and fill our hearts with the divine love of our dearest Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

Programme Overview

27th July – Arrival and Orientation
28th-29th July - Sadhana Camp ‘Sai Samarpanam’
30th July – Pilgrimage to Brindavan, Whitefield
31st July / 1st August - Musical Offering by SSE and Youth
2nd August – Visit to holy places in Prasanthi Nilayam, final reflections and departures

Dr. Kiran Patel
Chairman, UKCC

Professor Nanjundaiah: Our Special Guest At The National Retreat

Professor Nanjundaiah: Our Special Guest At The National Retreat
It is our honour and privilege to announce that Professor M Nanjundaiah will be our special guest this year at the National Retreat in Llandudno between the 29th- 31st of August. For more details and registration please visit http://www.srisathyasai.org.uk/national-programmes/nationalretreat2014

Prof Nanjundaiah is a former Controller of Examinations of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher learning. He came into Swami’s fold in 1973.

By the Divine Grace of Bhagawan, he joined as a Reader and the Head of the Commerce Department in the Sri Sathya Sai College of Arts, Science and Commerce at Whitefield, affiliated to Bangalore University. Before this, he was the Head of the Department of Commerce, MES College, Bangalore University. Having stood first in Karnataka University as an M.Com student, he was offered many lucrative career options. But he chose the profession of a teacher as he believed, and continues to do so after about 50 years in it, that it was a noble profession which had the power to mould the next generation of students.
During the first 3 years in his position as the Head of Commerce department at Swami’s Whitefield college, he steered many of his students to top ranks in Bangalore University, thus giving immense joy to beloved Swami. In fact, Swami felicitated him in a grand ceremony in 1976, in recognition of his services! Professor Nanjundaiah continued with his dedicated service to Bhagawan; he stayed in the Brindavan Ashram and served in the Sathya Sai College for the next 9 years.

Bhagawan then appointed him as the Deputy Controller of Examinations in the newly formed Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, a deemed University, at Prasanthi Nilayam in 1981. Since then, he has been instrumental in setting up and developing the examinations section of the University, and also in framing the syllabus for the M.Com and MBA programmes, as he moved on to become the Controller of Examinations for the University.

Prof Nanjundaiah is blessed with numerous experiences with Bhagawan. He considered Swami as his Mother, and developed this relationship with immense faith and love. Beloved Swami too responded to him with great affection, bestowing upon him many insights. He had the rare privilege of translating Swami’s discourses into English for more than a decade, between 1981 and 1993.

Professor ‘Sir’ was very loving, friendly and always approachable to students, and Bhagawan showered him with blessings in abundance for this. The Divine Discourse that Bhagawan gave on the occasion of Professor’s retirement on 7th July 2009, stands as testimony to the zenith of Divine Appreciation. Let us read Bhagawan’s Words on this occasion: (excerpts from http://www.sathyasai.org/discour/2009/d090707.html)

(Editors note. In the morning of 7 July, Guru Purnima, four senior functionaries and their wives were honored in Sai Kulwant Hall: from the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, A.V. Appa Rao, Financial Controller, and A.V. Sathyanarayana Murthy, Senior Engineer; from the Sri Sathya Sai University, Prof. Nanjundaiah, Controller of Examinations, and Prof. A.V. Lakshminarasimhmam, Registrar. In the evening, Bhagavan Baba again called Appa Rao, Prof. Nanjundaiah, and their wives to the verandah. Then Bhagavan Baba gave this discourse.

Bhagawan spoke highly of Sri A.V. Appa Rao first. He then spoke about Professor Nanjundaiah).

Embodiments of Divine Atma!

In the morning there was no time to talk about these people.

.......Nanjundaiah has been the controller of examinations. He has been very kind to all students. He has been working day and night in order to declare the results well in time. He never used to take rest even for a while. He would engage himself in correcting papers even while suffering from fever. Everybody was depending upon him. He had to take much trouble in sending results to Anantapur and Bangalore colleges. We were very much concerned at the troubles he had to face. His wife also has been taking good care of him at home, providing timely food and looking after other needs meticulously.

The University has now grown very large. We are receiving more applications as compared to other institutes. Right from big officers to small clerks in India, all have great regard for our institutions. Be it the hospital or the university, there is no habit of taking money for the services rendered in our institutions. We know only to give. In Sai Organisations, there is only giving and no taking.

Recently, we appointed a committee to oversee the working of the Hospital and provide necessary help and guidance. We have procured some new machinery also. We have even imported necessary equipment from abroad. We have in our stock a variety of books. The University has produced many Ph.D.s. This year also, fourteen researchers got Ph.D. degrees.

The students have great faith in these two people. These two have been very helpful to us with regard to hospital services and educational activities. All the responsibility was shouldered by them. They used to send me letters while I was not present here. I used to discuss every detail with them. I used to ask Nanjundaiah about the examination results. The results were always good.

We have now decided not to burden them with these responsibilities any longer. Today, I am thanking and blessing them. These two are foremost among those who have strived hard for our Institutes. Therefore, wherever they are, Swami is always with them, guiding and guarding them. They came here only for the sake of Swami. Therefore, I wish to provide them with houses and keep them here only. Just as they looked after patients and students, I wish that hereafter also they both extend necessary guidance and help to the newcomers in the respective areas. There is much to learn from these two people. What is this Organisation doing for the society? How is it doing? What is their responsibility in this regard? Such details should be accorded to the newcomers, and necessary zeal and motivation should be inculcated.

Our university and hospitals are now being regarded as the best in India. I am very happy that you have contributed much for this name and fame. You always belong to Me. You have never thought that you are working for the hospital or the college. You have been working with the feeling, "This is ours, this is our Swamis." That is why we got all first prizes for the colleges and high reputation for hospitals. Even this information is known only through newspapers; we never proclaimed it in any manner. Our hospitals and university have become very famous indeed.

The students have learnt many things from such people, and have grown up to great heights. Many of them, who are Ph.D.s, have been appointed here so as to lead these institutions. Now many novel subjects have been introduced along with the conventional faculties like B.Com., B.Sc., M.Com., M.Sc., Ph.D., etc. Many deserving students are unable to get admission in other schools and colleges and with great hope are looking at us for help. I told our authorities to take such students also into our fold. We do not have any selfish motive. It is only in consideration of their parents anguish. They have given us the responsibility of looking after the welfare and progress of their children.

Appa Rao and Nanjundaiah must both be given the job of keeping watch with vigilant eyes on the affairs of these institutions. In other institutions, new entrants have to pay money and take receipts. But our hospitals and university have never given a scope for such things. Here everything is free, free, free. People wonder how we are managing these institutions with so many entrants, like this, without taking even a paisa? They just come in their clothing, as we admit them here. We are admitting all, including those who obtained average marks, and we are developing them into "First class" students......

First of all you must develop love for God, fear of sin, and morality in society. Bad qualities have to be curbed and ethics must be fostered in the society. When morality is lost, what is the use of any amount of social service you do? These are the lessons that you must learn. When you follow the path of elders such as these, you can reap immense joy and goodness in life. It applies to girls also. You must learn from parents the aspects of service and put them into practice. If you make your parents happy, your children will make you happy.

What is meant by morality? It is not just earning money and depositing in the bank. You must refrain from troubling your parents. When you have love for God, you will have fear of sin. After acquiring morality you may proceed to serve the society at large. When you are unable to attain Gods love, how do you expect to win people’s love? You must earn name in the society in a way that people talk of you as a good and helpful person. You must learn from parents how to help.
First thing is to develop love for God, fear of sin and morality in society. How can morality be acquired while one is engaged in acts of sin? When you come across elders, always respect and serve them.

Today I am honouring such good people so that you will try to emulate them. This is what gives Me happiness. First take care of your children at home and extend happiness to your parents. How can you be happy while your parents are not happy? If today you love your parents, tomorrow you will receive love from your children. You can be called educated only when you learn these two things. You may acquire big degrees, but who will love you if you do not love your parents? Society will love you when you take good care of your parents. First set your house in order and then think about the progress of society. It is with this purpose that I am honouring today these experienced elders. You should take a lesson from this and follow in the footsteps of the elders.

It is indeed our great privilege to have such a noble personality amidst us in the UK at the National Retreat. Let us utilise this great opportunity to listen and learn from his interaction with our beloved Bhagawan, fill our hearts with the Love and Grace of our Divine Lord, and experience the joy and bliss.

Region 1 - Calling All Butterflies to Hazelborough Wood: The National Environment Project

An Experience in Service Project

June 29th was the day of the National Environment project, organised by Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (UK) (SSSSO) and it found devotees converging from many of the Regions on Hazelborough Wood for a great day out as conservation volunteers.

The wood, located deep in the countryside in Northamptonshire is owned by the Forestry Commission. Part of a former medieval hunting forest enjoyed by kings, it is one of England’s oldest woods. It is now maintained in a natural way for more peaceful purposes and is open to the public.

However, not many butterflies have chosen to frequent this natural haven. These creatures are attracted to sunny sheltered spots and to certain types of plants which can only grow if they get enough sun. This was where the SSSSO UK volunteers came into play –we were needed to bring in the light. There were about 80 of us, young and old, male and female who travelled long distances to the venue.

Once there, we were met by a grateful member of staff and enjoyed tea and biscuits after our long journeys and early start. It was now becoming apparent that we were not there for a little light weeding as some had hoped. We set off through the woods, kitted out in hard hats and wellies and carrying heavy bags of tools and eventually arrived at “King Richards ride” – this was basically a wide path through the woods which was overhung with trees, blocking the necessary light. Our task we were told was to saw down the small to medium bushes and trees, cut them into smaller pieces and pile them up.

Nothing daunted, we set to work and although some of it was tough enough going, the mood amongst the volunteers was vibrant. We worked in teams and were happy to tackle quite big trees – after a tiring morning, we were also happy to trudge back to H.Q to enjoy our shared lunches – and then back for another hour and a half’s work. By 3 o’clock some of us were pretty exhausted but in a “good way”. We thoroughly enjoyed the work and made a real impression on the overhanging trees, light was flooding in by the time we finished.

Finally, we filled the air with the sound of the Aum and a few bhajans uniting us spiritually with the ancient wood, with the environment and with Swami. We would love to return again – and next Spring we may see those butterflies starting to arrive.

Maureen O Hara
Wandsworth Sai Group

Rudra Ekaadhashini Homam

In the fringes of Tividale (Birmingham), quietly tucked away from the busy roads and the chaos of daily living is located the Shri Venkateswara (Balaji) Temple, a place of immense sanctity and spiritual ambiance that was chosen for our annual Rudra Ekaadashini Homam, the ceremonial ritual which was conducted as a prayer for the prosperity and welfare of our fellow beings wrapped up in disharmony and pain around the globe.

This popular event attracts hundreds of devotees drawn from different cultural background from around the UK. It was a fitting occasion performed as part of our National Gurupoornima Celebrations, to salute, remember and pay homage to our Divine Master and Teacher, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

The morning of Saturday the 12th was foreshadowed with mist that soon dissipated filling the skies with the brilliance of the sun that remained with us for the whole day and the radiance of its rays felt like the blessings of the angels was upon us. Devotees flocked from all over the UK who were joined by the many visitors to the Temple.

The focal point of the altar was set with a beautiful photograph of our beloved Swami, smiling in His own captivating way, uncanny where Swami’s eyes seemed to follow you here and everywhere you went!

At the centre was an altar made of bricks where the sacred fire was lit using specific type of wood and straw and then pouring oblations such as clarified butter, food grains, sesame seeds and water to the accompaniment of sacred verses from the Vedas.

Close to it was sited a large lingham where abhishekam was performed by offering items such as milk, yogurt, clarified butter, honey, rosewater and sandalwood paste to the accompaniment of sacred chants of Rudram. Lot of devotees had been practising the Rudra chants to actively participate and thereby benefit by doing so.

Devotees who wanted were also provided with linghams specially procured from India to allow them to do abhishekam. They were then asked to take them back to their respective homes with the proviso that they would perform Pooja everyday with water thus continuing the spread of the purifying vibrations not only within the body but also in the home and surrounding areas as declared in the Rudram verses.

The event commenced with uplifting bhajans that created the right vibrations, ready to welcome the procession that followed and prayers. As a westerner who prior to 2006 had no experience of such an occasion chanting the Rudram, this was indeed an electrifying experience.

Seeing a large group of both young and not so young to be chanting in unison such sacred words, is an experience that is difficult to describe and I would thoroughly recommend for everyone to experience as often as possible. The Vedas are the foundation of the Universe, the breath of God. It isn’t easy to learn the Rudram, however, perseverance is essential. It is worth the effort! It was truly a sight to witness watching the priests at work and by the end of the morning, the rituals were complete.

It is fair to say that everyone was feeling good, full of smiles and full of energy that couldn’t be described!

Swami has stated (Sanantha Sarathi, Sept 2006):

"We should not neglect the Vedas. The secret of the entire creation is contained in them. They reveal to us the goal and purpose of life. The Vedas are replete with divine mysteries and deep spiritual truths. Rudram forms a very important section of Krishna Yajur Vedas, viz., Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharvana Veda. Another important feature of Rudram is the Ekatwa (unity) between its two parts, Namaka and Chamaka. Namaka lays stress on Vikrati (detachment) whereas Chamaka dwells on desires for this and that. What is to be discarded and what is to be desired? That which is evil is to be discarded and all that is good is to be desired. Understanding of both these aspects is essential for man.”

Following a hearty lunch, an alumni from the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Prem Anosh talked about his experiences with Swami. His talk about the Guru aspect of Swami was apt for the occasion. Brother Prem narrated several experiences with Swami reminding all of us how Swami was taking care of his devotees all the time.

Everyone was then enthralled and entertained by an amazing professional singer, Sairam Iyer, who was visiting the UK from Mumbai, India. Sairam first performed at the age of 8 years in front of Swami at Dharmakshetra in Mumbai and has performed for Swami many times after that as well as performing in more than 1500 concerts all over the world. The unusual thing about Sairam’s voice is his dual voice singing ability, singing with a female voice as well as a male voice! And to show us just how it was done he performed a duet. Sairam also sung bhajans including one he sung for Swami as a young boy. He encouraged everyone to join in with him thus ending a fabulous day.

It would be remiss not to mention the many silent workers who were engaged in all of the seva before the Homam as well as those who remained afterwards to clear up. Everyone worked hard but with a smile. Teamwork that Swami has always promoted was certainly in view and that added to the recipe for unity, making the event complete! And most important of all is to thank Swami for His inspiration, love and patience and allowing us to chant the Rudram. If you were not able to come then please do come next time and in the meantime enrol for Rudram classes, it really is a good investment of your time.

Jai Sai Ram
Jenni Robson
Region 4 Spiritual Co-ordinator.

Sai Spiritual Education the Pathway to Excellence

I would like to share my experience as a parent about my children attending Bal Vikas classes (Sai Spiritual Education) here in Walthamstow Sai Centre.

From my childhood, I was lucky enough to be introduced to Swami through my family and I wished that my children should experience the same. My children have attended Bal Vikas classes since 2008 and it is visible to me that these classes have had a positive influence in their lives.

One of the main things that I wished that my children would learn from attending Bal Vikas were essential life skills, such as being able to discriminate between the good and the bad in life. I also hoped that Bal Vikas would lay a strong foundation for the rest of their lives.

When we first started attending Bal Vikas my children were very impatient, especially in bhajans, as they weren’t used to sitting in one place for that period of time! But, as time went by, they became more accustomed to this and began to enjoy bhajans. At the beginning my children were quite shy, but now I see them engaging in different activities at the centre and have seen them grow in confidence. I believe that Bal Vikas has brought them out of their shells by pushing them out of their comfort zones.

The impact of Bal Vikas on my children has been huge; it has taught them discipline, self-control and respect for others. They are much calmer and patient and this has had a positive influence on them and in the home. I believe that what my children have learnt in Bal Vikas has helped tend their spiritual needs and has helped in moulding their character. One of the main teachings I feel that they have taken into their lives is the 5 human values. After observing them over time, I notice that my children have earnestly tried to implement these values in their lives. Also, I have found them to be less stressed and maintain better concentration. As a parent, you are pleased when they become involved in activities both in school and in Bal Vikas.

What all parents want is that which is best for their children. I personally feel that Bal Vikas has had a positive influence on their lives and has provided them with a steady platform from which they can excel. I pray that Swami continues to guide them always and keep them on this path.

Mrs Iswary Kirubakaran

The following speech was given by a parent of two SSE students at a recent end of year achievements ceremony held at Walthamstow Sai Centre, Region 3.

Region 1 - Age Link Party at Tooting

On Sunday 22nd June, Tooting Sai Centre had the pleasure of hosting the AgeLink Party for the elderly people in the local area. This is an Annual event hosted by the Centre where about 25 elderly people are invited to the Centre and are entertained . As usual, a whole raft of preparatory arrangements needed to be in place starting from a few weeks prior to the event. The food menu had to be catered for, the arrangements for volunteers to collect and drop off the elderly guests and the entertainment programme that the children from the Centre would be doing were all planned for meticulously.

The great thing about such a programme is that it brings a whole range of age groups together. After all there are not many such events where anyone from the age of 6 years to 80+ can participate and have fun. The entertainment began on time and performances by the SSE children included playing on the Violin, Flute, Guitar, Keyboard, Dholak and Clarinet. The talents displayed along with their confident performances left the elderly guests extremely happy , and the love that they got during the programme was overwhelming.

Alongside this, there was more opportunity for the elderly to sing along with old favourite songs from the 1960s and 70s, and also to participate in a quiz and play the ever popular Bingo games. Some of the SSE children were paired up with the elderly guests and helped them with their quiz answers and playing the Bingo. There was also an ever ready flow of tea, biscuits , cake , food, smiles, chatter and love! The compering done by Ronibhai from Brixton Centre was hugely appreciated as was his ready wit and easy going charm that made the guests feel special.

Words cannot express that overwhelming feeling of love and unity one gets from being part of such an event. AgeLink gives us all an opportunity to spend some time with the elderly, talk to them and make them laugh. We all forget how lonely lives some of them lead and some of them do not see anyone apart from their carers for weeks on end. They eagerly look forward to these events and always leave with a smile on their faces with prizes and gifts to take home. In return, the SSE children are given an opportunity to render service at such a tender age. One can only smile at Swamis leelas, for the same SSE children when they grow up will have no hestiation to render service to the wider Community as they will see this as being natural to them.

The joy and appreciation from the guests touched us and reminded us of Swamis saying, "Service springs out of love, and it scatters love in profusion.

Jitesh Patel
Tooting Sai Centre

Region 1 - Brixton Sai Centre Fundays: Days of Fun with Older People

June 2014 saw the members of Brixton Sai Centre come together once again to laugh, play and sing with residents at three locations: Aashna House in Streatham, a residential care home for older Asian adults; and Truscott House and Freeman Court, two sheltered accommodation schemes in the borough of Croydon. Two members, one elder and one young adult, give their perspectives on these “Fundays” below.

Aashna House: 1 June 2014

Aashna House is the only Asian residential care home in Streatham, London, accommodating about 40 residents. Brixton Sai Centre holds group devotional singing there on the first Sunday of each month. So, as per usual, our annual Fun Day started with group devotional singing for half an hour followed by aaratee.

Afterwards was the game of pass-the-parcel. Each parcel layer contained either a small prize or a “forfeit” such as “tell a joke” or “sing a song”. It was really good fun: some of their jokes were hilarious and some of the songs were fantastic. Some residents even got up and started dancing garbhaa as their forfeit!

The next item had our Centre members singing Hindi songs from some old films that are still popular up till now. The residents really enjoyed the songs and some of them even joined in.

The programme concluded with some snacks being served and small gifts given to all the residents.

It was very nice to see the residents enjoying themselves and socialising with our members.

Jugdish Injore
Truscott House and Freeman Court: 7 and 14 June 2014

To act is a natural process for an individual. Some actions are obligatory, some for enjoyment and others with purpose and meaning. God does not need your service, but serving his Creation, especially the old and those in need, is a divine act.

For some years, Funday has been a regular activity organised by Brixton Sai Centre, and I have enjoyed it immensely. Annually, the Centre’s members, both adults and children, work together to create a truly memorable day for the residents. The day includes serving a variety of food, prepared and served with loving care by Centre members, and organising games and entertainment. The main aim is an enjoyable, out-of-the-normal day for the residents, as well as for the organisers. Entertainment includes performances from the children such as piano playing; and singing where the residents join in and enjoy.

The residents take part in many games including “Play Your Cards Right,” bingo, pass-the-parcel and a quiz. The overwhelming smiles and gratitude from the residents show how worthwhile the day is. The day also emphasises to the younger SSE students the importance and significance of service, allowing them to be a part of the service wing and work alongside older members of the centre.

Service to humanity is service to God.
Ruchika Rupchandani

Region 1 - Young Adults Programme: Service to Man...

The youth of Region 1 congregate on a monthly basis to have a spiritual satsang inviting all youth from centres within the region to attend. The underlying theme for YAP this year in the UK is focused around Swami’s 9 Point Code of Conduct. In Region 1, each Centre rotate to host a YAP session. Bromley Sai Centre were given the topic…. "Participation in community service and other programmes of the Organisation" to host on20th June. Thinking outside the spiritual box, Bromley youth decided to host a practical activity for YAP where "hands that serve..." were put in to action straight away.

Swami, in many discourses has always reiterated that we as his children should serve our local community, serving all as if we are serving God. Many youth take part in many service activities within the organization and on their own accord. Acts of kindness are all considered as service, some youth give blood on a regular basis, others volunteer within this organization to help the running of Scout groups, or to ensure that service projects such as the Food Bank are maintained and are sustainable.

For this YAP, many ideas were drafted, where finally we felt that serving the local community would be the most appropriate and enjoyable for our topic. The youth in the Region teamed together to make sandwiches for Merton Action for Single Homeless (MASH) under Homeless UK. This organization helps house young single adults from the age of 16- 21 on a temporary basis giving them the support and tools to help find a more permanent solution to their housing needs.

With a handful of strong willed youth, cheese, pickle, jam and peanut butter, 6 trays of hearty sandwiches were made within an hour and half. Spreading Swami’s Love, 3 Gayatri mantras, 3 Sai Gaytris followed by devotional singing were recited throughout the YAP session until the last sandwich was made.

This YAP session energized the youth and a buzz was felt by all s we felt that this mall act of kindness helped us to spiritually grow and also help the community.

With Sai Love,

Gobika Mohandas
Bromley Sai Centre, Region 1

Region 2 - Harrow West Sai Centre at Hare Krishna Organic Farm

Harrow West Sai Centre has been attending the Hare Krishna Temple’s Organic farm for the last four years on the third Sunday of every month.

Adults, youth and children eagerly participate in this service. It’s an excellent opportunity for us to get together as a family and also to mingle with the staff & volunteers on the farm, where jointly we get a lot of work done. One can witness how this is undertaken with so much love and dedication.

The farm is run on the principle of “Organic produce”. Everything is done using basic tools and no pesticides are used. We even get the opportunity to witness bulls being used to plough the fields. The farm work is in operation from the month of February to late October. We get involved in various activities. In February, the seeding is done and this is a delicate process. With proper guidance from the farm manager and fellow volunteering staff, we as a group including the children get the process going. Different varieties of herb & vegetable seeds are potted and neatly put away in the green house to grow. Once seeds sprout, in the coming weeks on our visits we then participate in taking the plants out of the pots and re-planting them in the green house or field as appropriate.

During our visits we also take part in various other tasks. One of the main and challenging jobs is weeding. As an organic approach is applied, all weeding is done manually. Getting vast areas of land weeded and trying to protect the crops can be quite demanding. Keeping slugs and other animals such as foxes and rabbits out of the farm can be challenging. Watering the crops is also another important task, which we do during dry periods.

Natural fertilizer is produced in the farm with cow dung and straw. We assist in collecting this and spreading it for the plants. Children find this amusing, though it gives them an opportunity to appreciate how nature works! During the course of the year we also get involved in harvesting fresh coriander, methi leaves, spinach etc. Once harvested, everything is neatly put into bunches and taken to the temple. In the late spring/ summer months children have a lot of fun when we get involved in harvesting produce such as tomatoes, pumpkins, marrow, cabbage & potatoes.

At the end of the service, which is from 10:00 am to 13:00 pm, Krishna’s feast awaits us. The food is prepared in the temple kitchen and kindly transported to the farm. After a few of hours of hard labour, we are all hungry. Delicious hot food is served by the volunteers with a lot of love. We normally sit in the barn area and have the meal. If the weather is good, then there are benches outside the barn where we can sit and eat admiring nature!

We thank Swami for giving us all this opportunity to serve Mother Earth in our own little way. This seva reminds us to appreciate and respect the food we consume. There is so much work and effort that goes in by the farmers to produce the end products we see in the supermarkets. Especially for our children, the farm visits give an insight into all the hard work that goes towards producing our food and makes them aware and appreciate the food cycle.

Skandha Kanagasabai
Service Co-ordinator

Region 2 - Talk by Dr Kiran Patel at London West Sai Centre

At London West Sai Centre we were privileged to have a talk by Dr Kiran Patel, our National Chairperson, on 15th June this year. He told us many wonderful stories about our Dear Swami and the learnings that he had received from these interactions. However, there is one particular story that sticks in my mind.

This is the story of Swami’s manifestation of the Crucifix which took place in l973 for Dr John Hislop, an ardent devotee of Sai Baba. On Mahashivaratri Day Swami chose a small group of devotees and students to accompany him to the Bandipur Game Sanctuary in Bandipur Forest in Mysore State. Swami had already chosen a place on a dry riverbed where He would manifest the Lingam. As the group approached this location, Swami broke off two small twigs and placed them together and asked Hislop what it was. Hislop replied that it was a Cross. Swami closed his fingers over the twigs and breathed into his fist slowly three times. When he opened his hand a tiny figure was revealed of Christ crucified on the Cross.

Swami said that the image is of Christ after he died. It is a dead face. He also said that the stomach is pulled in and Christ’s ribs are showing as He had not eaten for eight days. Swami said that the wood is from the actual cross on which Christ was crucified and that it had taken a little time to find the wood after 2000 years!

I have always loved this story, probably because of my Christian background, but also because it tells us so much about Jesus and shows the enormous compassion that Swami had for His devotee in manifesting this little Crucifix. It also connects the Christian Faith to the Hindu religion because the Crucifix, which is a symbol of Christianity, was manifested on a Hindu festival. However, when Dr Kiran Patel told this story, he gave it a whole new dimension as I now know somebody who was there in the Bandipur Game Sanctuary on that day. Brother Kiran was actually present on that dry, sandy riverbed and he witnessed the manifestation of the Crucifix and also of the gold lingam on that auspicious day of Mahashivaratri.

Dr Kiran Patel was truly blessed to be present on that auspicious day, and we are truly blessed to have Brother Kiran with us in this country as Chairperson of the Sai Organisation.

In Dr John Hislop’s account of this manifestation, he then goes on to recount what happened when he returned to Mexico with the Crucifix. Because the Crucifix is so small, he wanted to have some photographs taken of it so that they could be enlarged to show more details (this was in 1973 remember). When Hislop saw the photographs he said that he was sure that it is the greatest sculpture of Christ ever made and that, in his estimation, it is the most extraordinary object Sri Sathya Sai has ever created for the joy of His devotee.

As Hislop and his wife, and his friend Walter and his wife studied the photographs, without warning, there was a loud crash of thunder and lightening flashed from a dark cloud where previously there had only been blue sky. This was accompanied by a violent wind that sent the curtains flying in all directions. Mrs Hislop observed that it was 5 p.m., the time when Jesus died on the Cross and that what was happening was described in the Bible. She later brought a Bible which says that at the moment Jesus gave up His life a violent storm arose with thunder and lightening and winds rent the curtains of the temple.

The Hislops and their friends concluded that this recapitulation of an event which had taken place nearly 2000 years ago implied that there was a great power connected to that small Cross and Christ figure materialised by Swami. Baba later confirmed that the event had occurred as described and that the significance attributed to it was correct. Swami also said that when he went to look for the wood, every particle of the cross had disintegrated and had returned to the elements but Swami had reached out to the elements and reconstituted sufficient material for a small Cross. Very seldom does Swami interfere with Nature but, occasionally, for a Devotee, it will be done. I understand that this tiny Crucifix is now in the possession of Dr Goldstein.

Jai Sai Ram
Pamela Nash
Chairperson, London West Sai Centre

Region 3 - 29th Annual Multi-faith Pilgrimage

A day of reflection from a youth’s perspective

On Saturday 14th of June 2014, pilgrims gathered at ‘Our Lady of Muswell Church’ hall in the early hours the morning, to take part in the 29th Annual Westminster Multi-Faith Pilgrimage for Peace. Undeterred by the rain which was forecast to continue into the rest of the day, people of different ages, backgrounds and faiths had arrived from across the Region and there was a palpable excitement in the air. Each and every one present in the hall, be it a first time participant or an old hand, felt connected in their mutual anticipation of an educational and enriching day. The aim of the pilgrimage was to allow people to “deepen their own faith by promoting greater awareness of other faiths through dialogue, prayer and action.” During the course of the day, everyone shared small patchworks of their personal God experience, culminating in a rich spiritual tapestry.

This year’s pilgrimage took place in the Borough of Haringey and in true spirit of a pilgrimage, majority of the ‘pilgrims’ chose to walk from one place of worship to another. Taking part in this procession gave everyone the unique opportunity to interact with each other, to help each other assimilate the experience they had in each place of worship and greatly facilitated interreligious dialogue.

Following a welcome address by the organisers and a brief introduction by Fr Mark of ‘Our Lady of Muswell Church’, we set off to attend Shabbat service at the Muswell Hill Synagogue. Upon entering this traditional, Orthodox synagogue, we were warmly invited to witness the reading of their holy text, The Torah. The Rabbi beautifully stated that, “The Torah is the tree of life to those who grasp it and happy is everyone that upholds it”. The Torah consists of the first five books of the Old Testament and is seen as a guide for how a Jewish person should live their life. As it is written in Hebrew, the Rabbi perfectly translated the messages behind the readings, which revealed themselves to be based on universal principles that all could relate to. We also witnessed the chanting of prayers specifically for the sick and ailing, and congratulatory prayers for a newly engaged couple where everyone joined in joyous singing. For those of us who had never been to a synagogue before, this experience was fascinating and one could immediately feel a strong sense of community and family that is so inherent in the teachings of Judaism. In his brief sermon, the Rabbi explained that for Jewish people, Shabbat was a day of the soul and that Sabbath day gave soul and meaning to the rest of the week, just like the festivals gave meaning to the rest of the year. This was very enlightening; to know that Jewish people had such a strong connection to the soul, and for us to be allowed to share that experience with them showed their commitment to interfaith harmony and understanding.

The next presentation by the Religious Society of Friends, also known as the ‘Quakers’, was highly interesting and educational, as majority of those gathered had not heard of this particular faith before. Quakerism had in fact begun in the mid-seventeenth century and has since had a strong following all around the world. Quakers believe that it is possible for every person to have a real and direct experience of God, without the need for priests, rituals or dogmas. We were told that this abolishment of the priest was a symbolic rejection of a deity and that every one of us was a priest. They believe it is their task to seek “that of God” in people and respond to it in a way that lives out that belief. This automatically brings to mind how Swami has time and time again reminded us of the salient truth that we are divine; beginning every discourse with “Embodiments of the Divine Aatma”. Quaker meetings are based on silent waiting as they feel the presence of God in stillness and in silence, but anyone who becomes inspired is encouraged to speak, read or pray out loud. A fellow Quaker of several years, mentioned that despite being a Hindu, he is drawn to the Quaker meetings as the silence allows him to continuously recite the name of Krishna in his mind, in peace. Such a crossover was wonderful to discover and really showed the beauty of harmony in religious diversity.

Following that enlightening talk, we proceeded to lunch kindly provided and served by members of the Sachkhand Nanak Dham International. This Sikh order was founded by Hazur Mahraz Darshan Das in India. His slogan, “In the name of the supreme Lord, do something good for someone else in your life”, is the essence of his teaching, urging his followers to render selfless service for the welfare of all humanity. The members of this Sikh order have diligently upheld this teaching; generously feeding the pilgrims of the interfaith pilgrimage for 29 years. This is no different to how Swami inspires us even today to put his message, “Service to Man is Service to God” into action. The parallel does not stop here, as Mahraz Darshan Das too proclaimed that God and Man were one and the same. He strived for the unity of mankind under the one common banner of love. (There is only one religion, the religion of Love - Baba).

No longer weary Pilgrims after the hearty meal, we resumed our journey towards the Moravian Church in Hornsey. Again, many of us were unaware of this Christianity denomination, which has a long history dating back to the 14th century. It was founded in what is today the Czech Republic by Jan Hus, who felt the practices of the churches in those days were not in line with what the Bible stated. Consequently the Moravian Church became the first protestant church. We were treated to a wonderful presentation by the Minister, Rev Joachim Kreusal, who explained the rich history of the church, played music pertaining to Moravian congregations and also described the importance of the church’s architecture. We were in awe of the beautiful structure, with its high arches and simple yet effective design.

The Moravian church is also a regular meeting space used by the Baha’i Spiritual Assembly. The Baha’is worship God through prayer, meditation and active service to their communities. They believe that there is only one God, whom people call by different names, and that their founder Baha’u’llah was a messenger from God, in the same way Christ, Muhammad, Buddha, Moses and Krishna were. Baha’is preach the importance of independent investigations of the truth, and at the age of 15 (age of spiritual maturity), Baha’i families encourage their children to investigate other religions and beliefs in order to choose for themselves the direction of their spiritual trajectory. Just like the principle of Sarva Dharma so lovingly advocated by Swami, Baha’is believe in the unity of all faiths.

The final leg of the pilgrimage took us to the mosque of the London Islamic Cultural Society followed by the Crouch End Sufi Centre. Construction of the LICS Mosque began in 1998 under the visionary leadership of its President, Adbooll Alli and it was Haringey’s very first purpose built Mosque. Beautiful and spacious, this Mosque was built in the traditional style with an elaborate gold coloured dome and a minaret which can be seen from a distance. The evening sun gleamed off the gold surface of the dome as we walked towards this impressive building. After receiving a very warm welcome by Mr. Alli’s daughter, we proceeded on a tour of the building during which our guides provided informative talks and answered our questions. We were completely enamoured by the intricate designs on the walls, the elegant light fixtures and the beautiful ottoman carpets and for brief moment we all forgot that we were in England. We then concluded in the dining hall for refreshments and also a speech from Mr. Alli himself: a wise, kind-hearted and extremely articulate gentleman, who spoke of the importance of interfaith relations and encouraging togetherness in the community.

Our last stop was the Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi Shahmaghcoudi, School of Islamic Sufism. Upon entering the building, we were immediately taken aback by the sheer beauty of the interior. From the glass chandeliers, the calligraphy and the mosaic ceramics, to the intricate mirror work and wooden panels engraved with sacred teachings (which we later discovered were all handmade by the students of the school); everything was reflective of the self-inquiry and contemplative practice that Sufism cultivates. The most prominent feature was the Sistine Chapel-esque painting on the ceiling of one of the domes that was single-handedly painted by a famous Sufi artist (also a student of the School). It consisted of images of old and young people which showed the different stages of life and he had used very light, dewy colours in order to portray the kingdom of heaven. Presentations given by the students explained that Sufism was the inward path to Islam, looking beyond the scriptures in order to seek the source of absolute life – the essence of divinity. They mentioned how every student was encouraged to learn the arts and use their creativity to input into their place of worship. This creativity is very important in Sufism because they believe that man is created in the image of God (the creator); therefore, man himself has the ability to create and this creation is unlimited just like the existence of the universe. Every feature of the building was steeped in meaning and purpose. The amount of thought put into each and every element was extremely enlightening and encouraged self-reflection of our own day-to-day actions. We were then invited to take part in Zikr, a form of worship where people gathered in a circle, moving from left to right making the symbol of infinity (with the heart at the centre) while singing a specific phrase or verse. To witness everyone revelling in the rhythm and motion of Zikr, reciting the Shahada earnestly irrespective of their own faiths, was a transcending experience and a perfect way to conclude the Pilgrimage.

Listening to the teachings of these various faith groups, one becomes increasingly aware of the similarities and interconnectedness between them. Just like the Muslims observe Ramadan, the Jewish observe Yom-Kippur, and the Hindus observe fasts during auspicious festivals. Judaism teaches that all mankind was created "b’tzelem Elohim," which is Hebrew for "in the image of God." All the other religions too preach the same. This resonates greatly in every Sai devotee, as Swami has always said that he created us in his image. The more we learn of other religions, the more attuned we become of our own. This event addressed the widespread misconception that spirituality is incompatible with secular society. Swami has stated that spirituality is not only concerned with salvation, but in fact, it is the backbone of society; indispensible for social progress and solidarity. We must realise that all religions are denominations of the one religion – the religion of Love. Their teachings are all rooted in the universal ideals of truth, right conduct, peace, love and non-violence (five human values). Each individuals relationship with God is unique and personal and the differences should not matter as long as every experience connects us to the omnipresent. A fellow Pilgrim, who has been attending the walks for 15 years, rightly said that we need events like this to keep us grounded. It allows us to “accept each other’s differences and still see each other as equals.”

Sai Ram.

Nikita Limbu
Central London Sai Centre, Region 3

Region 4 - Tapovanam Reading

Spending the day reading the Tapovanam on Saturday the 14th of June was a very rewarding and divine opportunity. The programme started with a Paduka puja in the morning, followed by Suprabhatam and the reading. Once the story of Bhagawan ended, one bhajan was sung, after which the Aarti was offered.

Participating in that programme was a blessing, but why?
First of all what is the importance of the Paduka puja? By doing this puja, you venerate the Divine Lotus Feet of the Lord. “For the sake of His devotees the formless Guru takes the form in Padukas. Guru lives in the Padukas”

If you have faith in the Guru’s feet If you have deep feeling for the Guru’s feet, If you imbibe the state of the Guru,Then you don’t have to look for God. God will come looking for you- Bhakta Tukaram

About the reading of the Tapovanam: this book is a gem, as it relates personal experiences, details of Bhagawan’s life, His leelas, His teachings, in a short and concise manner. Reading His story also reminded us how lucky we are to have been in contact, in whatever form, with an avatar. Do we realise it enough? We know it, but do we realise it deep inside ourself? This Divine incarnation of Swami was very powerful, and He came as a Purna Avatar. He declared that He was the embodiment of all the Divinities: Sarvadevata Swarupa. In His story, we can read that Swami showed immense compassion towards everyone and everything

His life in his human body has been spent in selfless service. Our life should be inspired from His Divine life on Earth.
All the selfless and Pure Love that He has given us, we should share it and live only by it. When the Tapovanam was being read out, we could feel the depth and divinity of Swami’s life

When reading it, it should not be done merely to accomplish it in one day and feel happy that we have done a good action. We should actually understand its importance and take inspiration from it and implement it in our own life. We know lots of things, but do we actually make that step to incorporate them in our practical life?

Bhavin and Marine
Narborough Sai Youth

Region 6 - Ellens Green Satsang

What a lovely day we had at the annual Ellen’s Green satsang! The event was organised by Margaret Bull (Horsham), with a little help from devotees around region 6.

Margaret is passionate about this satsang, which has welcome devotees for the past 30 years at the same venue, a small village hall in the countryside near Horsham. It is a gathering that many of us look forward to, and an opportunity to be together with dear friends in an informal, warm and loving atmosphere. We love to meet up with devotees from across the region, especially the elderly, and share news about those who have not been able to come along. We shared a prayer for June Auton, who passed away on 28th March.

There were inspiring speakers throughout the day, devotional songs with a good variety of English and Sanskrit items, there was time for tea and chat, a chance to catch up with each other, food to share, and also an opportunity to visit the Sai bookshop. Andrew Smith had brought his violin and played some beautiful tunes for us too.

Many devotees had brought huge bags of donated items for Tony’s charity, British Humanitarian Aid. He had come prepared in his van (see report below, and photo). There was joy and laughter, and we could all feel Swami’s presence very strongly, always so tangible at this satsang. Two devotees were so blessed to see Him standing near His chair… After a whole day spent together in the name of Sai, we were sad to leave, but we felt recharged with Love and Joy, and so grateful to Swami for bringing us all together again. What a wonderful day we had indeed, and what a wonderful way to spend a Spring Bank Holiday! We’ll be back for more…

A very big Thank You to Margaret and all who helped to make it happen!

Here is a snapshot of the talks of the day:

Rosemary Dewan gave us an update on the work of the Human Values Foundation charity, set up by June Auton in 1995. The foundation supplies 2 fully resourced, non-denominational, highly engaging Values Education programmes:

(1) Education in Human Values, suitable for ages 4 to 12, and (2) Social and Emotional Education, suitable for ages 12 to 14 and over, sometimes also used to help teenagers get their lives ’back on track’.

Each inclusive programme comprises over 30 learning modules to integrate children’s intellectual, emotional, social, physical and spiritual development.

The next speaker was Jean Francis, who told us about the Philippine Community Fund (visit their website for more information: www.p-c-f.org), a charity that helps support children and their families, living on dumpsites and in cemeteries, and scavenging through toxic waste on the dumpsites.

Jean had set up a display of various items such as jewellery and hand bags made from recycled materials.

Dr Mahesh Narayan, our regional chair, related several incidents from his personal life, and stressed the importance of seeking direct communication with Swami (there is no need for any intermediaries), and about the importance of remembering Him at all times.

Mercini Sherratt spoke very lovingly about animals, and told us stories of animals helping human beings, rescuing children and adults. She reminded us that it was our responsibility to look after them. We should not abuse them or hurt them. Swami says “Love all My creation”. She cited several quotes from Swami:
On Seva for the Animal Kingdom:

The last speaker of the day was Tony Budell, founder of the British Humanitarian Aid charity; he spoke very movingly and humbly about his life, and told us how, after a personal crisis, he gave up his job as a truck driver and started working with people and helping them, mostly in disadvantaged areas of Eastern Europe. He came to know about Swami when a book fell on his head in a shop (it was Peggy Mason’s “Embodiment of Love”) He told us how he met Mother Teresa in an orphanage in Eastern Europe, while she was there on a visit: she kissed him and told him that “None of us can do great things, only small things with great love”... .What a powerful and humbling message. Tony spoke with much warmth and humour, and it was a perfect end to the day.

British Humanitarian Aid started their work in Ukraine in 1995, alongside the convoys of humanitarian aid that they were running to Romania and The Balkans. Since 2000, all BHA’s efforts have been directed towards alleviating some of the hardship, for the poor and handicapped, in the Chernihiv Region of Ukraine.

Among others, a children’s hospital at Nizhin, two foster homes in Chernihiv and Nizhin, and two homes for very young children at Priluki are also supported, along with homes for the elderly, several hospitals, a couple of prisons and two rehabilitation centres. Where they can, they also support some state schools, especially those that distribute aid to nearby villages. Another recycling opportunity!

BHA recycles unwanted goods from the UK to Ukraine. Please visit their website for a list of items needed: www.britishhumanitarianaid.co.uk Compiled by Pierrette Poirot, R6 spiritual coordinator

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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.