June 2013 Edition

Quote

The Vedas declare, Aham Brahmasmi (I am Brahman) and Tat Thwam Asi (That Thou Art). Even these two Vedic declarations state two things: I and Brahman, That and Thou. True wisdom lies in seeing oneness. Advaita darshanam jnanam (experience of non-dualism is true wisdom). It is a sign of ignorance to see duality ignoring the underlying unity. Duality is not the truth. In this manner, Buddha enquired deeply and ultimately got the experience of “I am I”. That is true realisation. You may do penance for many years, you may do meditation and perform many yogic practices. But all these spiritual practices give only temporary satisfaction, not everlasting bliss. Some people talk about meditation. Even Buddha advocated the practice of meditation. What is that you have to meditate upon? What is meant by meditation? Does it mean concentrating upon a particular object? No, no. That is not meditation at all. To contemplate upon the principle of “I am I” is true meditation. No other sadhana (spiritual practice) can match this.

~ Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

News

Gratitude paid by Indian Government ...

Articles

Dr T Ravi Kumar - The Lord’s Divine Touch: My Experiences in UK and Europe

Education Wing - SSE Poems

Education Wing - The Age Link Party

Region 1 - Buddhism at Brixton Sai Centre

Region 1 - Dr. T. Ravikumar’s Talk at Merton Sai Centre

Region 1 - Easwaramma Day Celebration

Region 1 - Easwaramma Day Celebrations at Merton Sai Centre

Region 1 - Events at Tooting Sai Centre

Region 1 - May Ladies Day at Brixton Centre

Region 1 - Sathya Sai Aradhana Day

Region 1 - Young Adult Programme (YAP): Youth in Service

Region 2 - Age Link Party

Region 3 - A View of Swamis Omnipresence

Region 3 - Ilford Sai Centre Celebrates Buddha Purnima

Region 4 - Easwaramma Day 2013

Region 4 - Satcharitra Reading Gujarati

Region 5 - Buddha Poornima Celebrations and Orientation Day at Warrington

Region 5 - Narayana Seva at Bradford

Region 5 - Sri Sathya Sai Group in Liverpool

Sai Smaran Bhajans

Sathya Sai Leadership Training Programme Graduation and Alumni Ceremony

Sri Rudram

Trust Matters

Editorial

Dear Love and Light Readers
Jai Sai Ram

The month of June has the longest day light hours of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

We are reminded of the month of May when we celebrated Easwaramma day throughout the country which brought devotees together in reverence to remember the blessed mother Easwaramma. We were blessed to have the company of Dr T Ravi Kumar (Associate Professor, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning and Warden, Brindavan, Whitefield) at the National event who inspired everyone with his experiences with our Lord. SSE children from all parts of UK also participated in the programme who felt a sense of oneness and were inspired to look forward to the next.

We also had the 4th National Sai Smaran Bhajans and the 2nd Pilgrimage meeting on the 18th May, where bhajan singers from around the country participated which brought joy to everyone. We were fortunate on that day to hear brother Nimish Pandya, Vice-President of Sri Sathya Sai Organisation, India who spoke on Sai Mission and our duties in the Organisation.

The month also witnessed celebrations of Buddha Purnima, commemorating the birth of Gautama Buddha. Several Centres around the UK celebrated this event.

Embodiments of Love:
We are celebrating today Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti. What does Purnima (full Moon) signify? It signifies fullness. When the mind is filled with love, it achieves fullness. As long as the mind is filled with the darkness of evil thoughts, there is no meaning in celebrating Buddha Purnima. Get rid of this darkness. Without the light of love in the heart, what use is there in having illuminations outside? Light the lamp of divinity in your minds. Banish hatred and envy from your hearts. Sanathana Sarathi-May 2013(page 21)

We have the final Sadhana Meeting in preparation of our National Pilgrimage to Prasanthi Nilayam ‘Sai Anandam - in Harmony with Sai’ (28July – 03 August) on 29th June 2013.

Finally, do not forget to register for the National Spiritual Retreat planned for Friday 30th August to Sunday 1st September 2013 in Llandudno, the beautiful Welsh coastal town which will provide a perfect setting for an uplifting and elevating experience. By the Grace of Bhagawan, we are most fortunate to have Sri R J Rathnakar as our chief guest. Apart from being blessed in the family of Bhagawan as His nephew, Sri Rathnakar was an alumnus of the SSSIHL and is currently an important member of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, Prasanthi Nilayam.

Jai Sai Ram
Yoges Yogendran
Chair, Region 1




Gratitude paid by Indian Government ...

National Wing News

The Government of India is expressing gratitude to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba for His magnanimous humanitarian service projects and for inspiring millions to lead a life based on five human values. As a token of love the government of India is releasing a commemorative postage stamp in honour of our Lord on His birthday this year.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Om Sri Sai Ram.

Hope you are doing well by Swami's Grace. Swami’s glory is unfathomable and His leelas (divine sport) are infinite. I am happy to note that the Government of India is expressing gratitude to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba for His magnanimous humanitarian service projects and for inspiring millions to lead a life based on five human values. As a token of love the government of India is releasing a commemorative postage stamp in honour of our Lord Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba on His birthday this year.

As devotees we feel happy when His glory is sung or acknowledged. I request you to share this news with the Sathya Sai centers and devotees. May His glory be sung in all languages in all the worlds. May He shower His grace on all of us so that we realize the true nature of SAI BABA by Seeing Always Inside that leads to Being, Awareness, Bliss Atma (Sat Chit Ananda).

Jai Sai Ram.

With lovng regards
Dr Narendranath Reddy
Chairman, Prasanthi Council.

Dr T Ravi Kumar - The Lord’s Divine Touch: My Experiences in UK and Europe

Dr T Ravi Kumar, Associate Professor and Warden,
Brindavan Campus, SSSIHL India

Dear Sai Brothers and Sisters!

In the months of April and May 2013, I had the immeasurable good fortune of visiting Sai centres and giving talks, on my experiences with Bhagavan, at various locations in the United Kingdom and in Switzerland. It was a delightful and richly rewarding experience for me. As Prof Kasturi, in one of his poems, would say “ What do they know of Puttaparthi, who only Puttaparthi know!” Travelling through the various centres I was amazed at the varied and numerous hearts our Lord has touched. Even though He had not visited these regions, physically, the tremendous impact, His Presence on planet Earth, and on the lives of so many human beings of varied tastes and temperaments, preferences and professions is mind boggling. Wherever I had the previlege of visiting and speaking, I noticed the immense love devotees of Swami have for Him. It was so evident in the tears that glistened in their eyes as they heard the stories( Leelas) of the Lord. The feebleness of the narration of the speaker and the limitation of the lexicon of the English language did nothing to diminish their eagerness for hearing more and more !

The Universality of the Message of the Avathar and its relevance in all climes and countries was very evident. I noticed that devotees in all parts of England and the wherever I went in Europe, sincerely sought to put into practise the message of Sai; that they would change their life styles and patterns of thinking to live the Sai way of life, was both a humbling and uplifting experience.

It was also particularly fulfilling for me to see the students – many of whom I had taught – occupy pivotal positions of responsibility in the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation and carry out their duties with humility, sincerity and deep devotion. I was also able to witness first hand the tremendous Love the devotees have for the alumni and the support they extend to them in the discharge of their duties.

Striking a personal note, I must express my gratitude to the innumerable devotees [ and ofcourse my very Dear Students!] who drenched me in the deluge of Sai love. I was welcomed with great affection and respect into the homes of devotees I had never met before like a family member - ofcourse I was one! This brought to my memory, the immortal lines of the famous Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore:

Thou hast given me seats in homes not my own. Thou has brought the distance near and made a brother of a stranger.

Having had the great good fortune of being contemporaries of the Sai Avathar, let us nurture the flame that He has lit in our hearts till it becomes a conflagration reducing to ashes the materialism so apparent in this age. We, Humans as a race, have predominantly forgotten that the primary purpose of our existence is seeking the Divine within and in the world around. The practise of the Sai message is the only panacea for all the ills that plague our societies and communities. May the tribe of those practise the Universal message of Love and tolerance increase . Let us, as children of Mother Sai, lead the world, to the pellucid waters of peace.

Let us live our lives for His pleasure!

With Loving Pranams at The Lotus Feet.
T.Ravikumar, Brindavan

Education Wing - SSE Poems


Education Wing - The Age Link Party

SSE Focus

At Pinner Sai Centre, the Education Wing’s focus was going to be around the importance of ‘SELFLESS SERVICE’ and with the help from the Service wing, Education Wing planned to deliver a fun and exciting Tea Party for our Very Important Guests from the Age-Link and PSC Elderly community. The planning started many weeks back in getting the Theme, Food and Entertainment just the way Swami would have liked for his special guest. We wanted the elderly guest to share their love and experience with us of all different age group.

On Sunday the 12th of May, there was an age link party to call all the elderly people because they are so often lonely. Pinner Sai Centre thought about how lonely these people are and invited them to a party! And what a party it was!! You can probably imagine the faces on the elderly people.

The Entertainment

The first entertainment was some live music from the SSE children, who played flute and keyboard as well as singing two songs from the olden days. This was followed by the Birdie song, sung and performed by very young children aged about four or five. The next song was disco divane; we did this twice because the elderly guest wanted to join in with the moves. Our guest continued to have fun as they also joined in the moves in the next song and dance called ‚Gangnam style‛ with almost everybody on the stage! When the children came off the stage they looked exhausted and very hungry.

The Bingo

The next entertainment was bingo. Each player had one sheet with six boxes on it and in the first round the players had to get a line. In the second round players had to get a full house! Daphne won the full house round. I’m sure she was delighted to have won.

The Gifts

At the very end, all the children gave gifts to all of our special guest. No matter how little or big, the presents were loved by the elderly people who appreciated our hard work! Children gave them soap, hand cream, hangers, note pads and so many more things, but whatever we gave them, they loved the party the most! People of all ages should have parties, but sometimes we forget the elderly and think about ourselves. Everyone put a lot of hard work in to make this celebration a success.

Love Nishika (Pinner Sai Centre) – Aged 9

Sai Smaran Bhajans

On Saturday 18th May, the National Sai Smaran Bhajans took place Oxhey Wood Primary School, South Oxhey, near Watford.

The programme began with a welcome address by Dr. Kiran Patel, the UK National Chairperson, opening prayers and a musical offering (consisting of flute and mridangam). This was followed by bhajans which were beautifully rendered with accompaniment by a range of musical instruments from the table and harmonium to the flute.

Sai Anandam Pilgrimage Meeting

While the bhajans continued, the afternoon saw the 2nd meeting of the UK National Pilgrimage taking place in the gymnasium. The meeting began with 3 Aums, followed by an introduction from the National Spiritual Coordinator, Dr. Veeru Mudigonda.

The year 2013 has been designated by the UK Organisation as the ‘Year of Harmony’ and the pilgrimage has, as part of the theme, been named ‘Sai Anandam’ (In Harmony with Sai). The pilgrimage will take place from 28th July to 3rd August.

Dr. Veeru recalled how in January 2011, Swami had said 5 key things:

1. Be happy
5. Be happy

In between,

2. Remember Me
3. Love God
4. Be Good

Besides being an external pilgrimage from the UK to Prasanthi Nilayam, the aim is also to be in harmony with the Sai within us.

The Sadhana (Spiritual Practise) Plan for the pilgrimage consists of four key aspects:

1. Learning of prayers including the 108 Names of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
2. Likitha Japam (Writing of the Name) for 10 – 15 minutes each day
3. Reading of 3 Vahinis (summaries will be made available)
4. Practise Ceiling on Desires and utilise the savings for a service programme.

There followed talks by guest speakers under the title of Dhyana Vahini, covering the importance and significance of meditation.

The first speaker was Mrs. Kamala Pandya, who conducts SSE training in India. Mrs. Pandya began by referring to meditation as ‘opening the doors of the heart’ and mentioned that we have to be careful of the ‘monkey mind’.

Various techniques for helping to control the mind were given such as:

1. Likitha Japam
2. Watching the flow of breath – very slowly and rhythmically

Reference was made to a quotation by Swami:

‘Bend the body, mend the senses, end the mind – that is the way to God’

  1. Bend the body means be humble – do not underestimate anyone, do seva (selfless service) and start this at home.
  2. Mend the senses refers to undertaking practises such as Ceiling on Desires and reading to have some control.
  3. How we react to something is important – taking approval of the heart links to 3HV.

Mrs. Pandya also spoke about concentration, contemplation and meditation and mentioned that mind is like a radio receiver – be silent and sit quietly for 2 minutes.

When something is offered to Bhagawan it becomes meditation.

To end with, Mrs. Pandya spoke about colour therapy and led the group through a Jyoti meditation session.

Thereafter, Mr. Nimish Pandya (Vice-President of All India Sathya Sai Service Organisation) addressed the group. Some of the key points were as follows:

  1. Going to Prasanthi Nilayam is not a matter of choice, but by His (Swami’s) grace.
  2. The 9 point code of conduct is sacrosanct when embarking on sadhana to go to the Lord’s feet.
  3. When chanting the 108 names of Bhagawan, we should aspire to become the names i.e. have the attributes.
  4. Keep unity of Thought, Word and Deed – Swami doesn’t say Truth, what he says becomes Truth and He keeps His word.
  5. The joy within must be expressed – people should be happy in the Sai Organisation.
  6. Be present, be happy, and forget the past and the future.
  7. There may be many functions, but we should move onto the next without dwelling on the previous one.
  8. Listen to the Master’s voice within – that is the whole purpose of the 9 Point Code of Conduct and Sadhana.

Mr. Pandya wished the group success on the pilgrimage.

Ending remarks were given by Dr. Kiran Patel who mentioned that we have been fortunate to be contemporaries of Bhagawan, while others in the future will read about Him.

Address to Congregation by Mr. Nimish Pandya

Meanwhile, the bhajans continued in the main hall, and at 4pm, Mr. Pandya gave a talk to the whole gathering, which began with a video of Rameshbhai Oza, a spiritual leader from India, explaining the respect Rameshbhai has for Baba.

Mr. Pandya said that this is an important phase in the Sai Organisation and that the UK has it’s part to play and went on to recount how on the Mahasamadhi day in 2012, the various leaders in the All India Sai Organisation resolved to follow the message of Bhagawan in action and held a 2 day Sadhana camp.

Some of the key points covered in the talk to the pilgrimage were again covered such as to imbibe the qualities in the 108 names, and to be happy. Other key points were as follows:

  1. One of the hallmarks of devotees in the Organisation is unconditional love.
  2. There have been comments that it is harder to render service in the UK compared to somewhere like India – the response was that it doesn’t mean that you have to leave home. The relationship with one’s Mother and Father is the biggest seva.
  3. 2015 will mark the Golden Jubilee of the Sai Organisation, the theme of which will be ‘Transforming Self for Transforming Lives’ – Swami had given the instructions Sri Indulal Shah to start small and grow.
  4. Keep Swami’s presence with you as you perform actions and ask two questions:
    1. Would Swami like this?
    2. How would Swami do this?
  5. Make the Organisation a happy place – smile!
  6. Swami was never unhappy.
  7. There is joy and peace that we can share with everyone. Spread happiness and the fragrance of love in the world.
  8. The mission is more important than the Master.
  9. It is important for each one of us to have a persona that is Divine. When people see us, they will see love.
  10. Bhagawan started 2 hospitals – millions of devotees have been rendered medical service at grassroots level.
  11. We must learn to forget the harm done to us and the good we have done to others.

Mr. Pandya also shared an anecdote about Swami’s visit to Mumbai in 2009. As a result of a packed schedule with several late nights, on His return to Prasanthi Nilayam, Swami had commented that it was a tight schedule several times, but on hearing that the devotees were happy, He too was happy!

Prior to ending his talk Mr. Pandya led the congregation with a bhajan ‘Neno ke premadhar, vachano ke premadhar.’

Mr. Pandya said that the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation is the only organisation that encourages others to undertake self-effacing service, and recounted a personal experience with Swami from which the key learning was that the sense of doer ship is a hindrance between a person and God.

At the end of the talk, Mrs. Vidyulata Narayana, National SSE Coordinator, gave thanks and reflected how the key aspects of the talk apply to every moment of our lives. Dr. Kiran Patel also gave thanks to the guest speaker and there was a vote of thanks by Mrs. Gayatri Bikoo, the National Secretary.

Thereafter the programme ended with 2 bhajans and the offering of Aarthi to Bhagawan. Mahaprasad was served in the canteen.

The next Sai Smaran Bhajans will take place on 21st September at Sandbach, Cheshire, in Region 5.

Jai Sai Ram

Sathya Sai Leadership Training Programme Graduation and Alumni Ceremony

On the 25th May 2013 the Sathya Sai Leadership Training Programme held its graduation ceremony, entitled ‘The Light of Leadership’ and saw 15 cohorts from this year’s programme successfully graduate and go on to join 72 other fortunate graduates of SSLTP.15 individuals hand-picked by Bhagawan to partake in this sacred journey of self realisation, self audit and self confidence, over the course of 14 months. A journey which draws inspiration from the eternal teachings of Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba with emphasis placed upon His ‘Mahavakya’ (Great Utterance) on leadership:

“To Be : To Do : To See : To Tell ”

The graduation ceremony was held at the Chambers Lounge, Harrow Civic Centre. The night also welcomed previous graduates of SSLTP (SSLTP Alumni), members of the UK Central Council including National Chair, Dr Kiran Patel, National Service Coordinator, Mukund Patel and National Youth Coordinator, Shyam Jamnadas as well as 2 keynote speakers.

The programme commenced with our keynote speakers; Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary Mr. Andy Marsh, Dr. Richard Giordana and Dr. Kiran Patel, our National Chair, lighting the leadership candles to signify the success of the programme to date, those graduating and to the leaders of tomorrow; truly setting the scene to what can be described as a magical evening.

This was followed by a procession by the cohorts, led by SSLTP Coordinator, Deviesh Tankaria, into the main hall to the sounds of vedic chanting. Prashanti Nilayam was indeed in Harrow! This was followed a short video on success of the programme over the past 15 years.

The first speaker for the evening was our National Chair, Dr. Kiran Patel. Kiran Uncle formally opened the evening’s programme with his welcome note, highlighting the importance of leadership in our organisation and the benefit of this unique programme which has been successfully running for over 15 years. He congratulated all the candidates on their sterling achievements and talked about how we should make a difference and undertake in national building projects. Kiran uncle ended his talk by talking about the leaders of all leaders, our dearest Swami, and how Swami is a good leader who leads by example providing selfless service and setting up numerous humanitarian projects worldwide. A lot can be learnt from His life and we should strive to live by His teachings.

Next we had our first key note speaker for the evening, Chief Constable for the Hampshire Constabulary, Mr. Andy Marsh. Mr. Marsh talked about the importance of leadership in today’s society and related his personal experience as a leader in the police force highlighting the importance of values, ethics, respect, integrity and courage and how all these qualities play a fundamental part in leadership. Chief Constable stressed the importance of authentic leadership to bring about transformation and the need to be true to yourself, “You are successful for who you are not who you pretend to be”. He stated that he joined the police force to make a difference and has installed this belief in all his staff by recognising that each one of them is a leader and ensuring they are all aware of the core values. Chief Constable concluded his speech talking about how in life you will face challenges but a good leader will rise above the challenges and seek opportunities. He narrated an example of how he saved £55 million from his budget and made a positive difference.

A short video was then showed highlighting the candidate’s journey over the last 14 months which was then followed by the next speaker of the evening, Deviesh Tankaria, the current SSLTP Coordinator. Deviesh commenced his talk by describing how he felt blessed and honoured being this year’s Programme Coordinator and how over the course of 14 months all have been fortunate to have experienced so much love, blessings and guidance from our Beloved Lord.

Deviesh talked about how the application forms for the SSLTP 2012/13 went out across the nation to all centres in all regions and how it was evident that Swami picked this year’s candidates. He went on to talk about the various experiences on this year’s programme and how there were tears and laughter, doubts and fears, but at the end of the day all united showed support and dedication for this unique programme and how it is this same dedication which had made this year’s programme the success that it is.

Deviesh concluded his speech by summarising this year’s SSLTP curriculum and announcing two very special awards. Each year SSLTP offer an award for academic excellence for the graduate who has performed beyond and above expectations and this year’s award went to Dr. Ruthra Nagendran. Also presented was the prestigious transformation award which this year went out to an individual who truly had transformed from being on this programme, Mr. Punit Ghumra.

In his final address as SSLTP Coordinator, Deviesh thanked members of the SSLTP Alumni, the UKCC and all the previous committee members for all their love, support and guidance over the years.

Our next speaker was a member of the SSLTP cohort for this year, Dr. Dipika Mistry. Dipika was one of the fortunate graduates from this year’s programme and talked about her experience. She commenced her talk by thanking the SSLTP Coordinating Committee, on behalf on all the graduates, for their love and assistance throughout the past 14 months. In her account Dipika talked about how we all have the capacity to inspire and empower others but we must be willing to devote ourselves to our own personal growth as leaders. Dipika narrated how SSLTP gave her the tools to self-reflect and dive deep to explore her inner self and narrated this by exploring the work of Bill George, Harvard Business Professor.

The current cohorts then presented a surprise act. Roni Ramdin and Pooja Tankaria introduced two videos thanking members of the SSLTP Coordinating Committee for their hard work and commitment over the last 14 months. A humorous yet very moving tribute.

We then had our next speaker for the evening, Dr. Richard Giordana. Dr. Giordano is the Programme Leader for the MSc in Leadership and Management in Health and Social Care in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Southampton. In his address he talked about how leaders should strive to make a difference and stressed the realisation that we are all born good however through habit, society and own experiences we forget this goodness. “A good leader touches base with his core values”. Dr. Giordana went on to talk about the mind, body and spirit and its importance in leadership and how positive spirit helps foster good leadership. He concluded his talk narrating a paragraph from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Divinity School Address of 1838:

"When you meet one of those men or women, be to them a divine man; be to them thought and virtue; let their timid aspirations find in you a friend; let their trampled instincts be genially tempted out in your atmosphere; let their doubts know that you have doubted, and their wonder feel that you have wondered."

The key in that the person you are trying to inspire needs to see that you were once similar to them and that they can become like you.

Prof. Sri Kandiah then took centre stage. Uncle Sri holds Senior Management positions in Sales, Marketing, Training and HR. He has coordinated and conducted seminars and workshops in the consultancy/teaching field of Leadership, Strategic management, Navigating through change with flair and commercial acumen for the past 20 years as well as chairing numerous boards and trusts. He was also one of the founders of SSLTP.

Uncle Sri shared a few words highlighting the journey of SSLTP over the past 15 years and acknowledged the hard work and dedication of all the team past and present. He offered a special tribute to Deviesh Tankaria who has been associated with SSLTP since 2004 as he is stepping down from his role as Coordinator.

Uncle Sri went on to say that he also felt very proud of each one of the graduates and how he truly believed each one was handpicked by Bhagawan. He narrated a few personal examples from his professional life and its importance in society and paid tribute to Bhagawan for the love and guidance over the years.

Uncle Sri stressed that we must lead ourselves first before we can lead others and concluded with the analogy of a three leg stool – "Lead ourselves, lead others and lead the organisation" - each "necessary for the leader to stand."

The formal graduation ceremony then followed and we concluded the emotional evening with a musical offering by this year’s graduates consisting of devotional singing.

Below are some testimonials from some of the candidates in relation to SSLTP

"I went into the SSLTP course with no expectations, but what an adventure it ended up being. So much excitement, growth and development in such a fun and enjoyable way. I am certainly looking at life in a different way now.”
-Yatin Mistry

"In a time when people are increasingly referring to the need for good role models and good leadership, the Sathya Sai Leadership Training Programme is helping to fill the void. Focussing on principles, not quick fixes, and by studying the theories of various leadership and management authors through a spiritual lens, the Programme has helped me to become more self-confident and self-aware.”
-Roni Ramdin

Putting spirituality and leadership together is fantastic! The course allowed me to evaluate the person I was and who I wanted TO BE. This course is a true reflection of where the youth of the organisation should aim to be, by making HIS life our message.
-Gobika Mohandas

The Sathya Sai Leadership Programme is a unique opportunity to go on a journey taking steps towards understanding your true inner self whilst becoming ever closer to Swami. The focus on constant integrated awareness allowed us as a cohort to realise our innate core values for our betterment both within and outside of the Sai organisation.
-Punit Ghumra

As we mark our Lord’s 87th birthday this year it is rather fitting that to date SSLTP has groomed 87 graduates since 1998. Congratulations again to the class to 2013 and thank you to all the volunteers over the years.

Jai Sai Ram

With Love,

Deviesh Tankaria
SSLTP Coordinator

Sri Rudram

Introduction

It is by the Grace of Swami, that the UK Sathya Sai Organization will be conducting the Rudra Ekadashini Homa in Birmingham Balaji Temple. Who would have foreseen that such a Vedic ritual would have been consistently possible, year after year, in the UK? We are grateful to Swami for making this happen. The best way to express our gratitude to Him is to utilise this opportunity by participating in the homa, assisting organizers in conducting it and by understanding its significance and thereby reaping the full benefit of its performance. Swami has frequently recommended that we understand the meaning of the prayers so that we can feel the presence of God as we pray. Towards that end, we present below our humble effort in understanding the significance of Sri Rudram so that we can ruminate on it during our participation in the homa.

Vedic prayers use many symbolisms in their expression. Therefore it is important that the Vedas be learnt from a Guru who is well versed in them and whose mind is well established in God. Only such a Guru can unravel the profound meaning behind the symbolism. We admit that our attempt here is only a modest effort. We seek Swami’s blessings for a deeper understanding.

Let us remind ourselves, before we proceed, that the only thing to be known through Vedas is God. This will help us to keep our minds focussed on God throughout our entire study of the Vedas and the practice of its teachings.

Lord Sri Krishna said in the Bhagavad Gita (15.15): “I alone am to be known through all the Vedas”.

Om Namo Bhagavate Rudraaya
(Salutations to Lord Rudra)

The meaning of Sri Rudram is vast and profound. We cannot fathom its full significance, much less restrict it to a few pages. We can at best explore a few facets of its significance. The entire chant or text has eleven chapters (anuvakas). The opening lines of this hymn is “Om Namo Bhagavate Rudraaya”. In many ways, this opening line is the summary of the content of Sri Rudram. So, we can take the approach of understanding the meaning of the entire text, by understanding the significance of the first line. Just as a sip of seawater can give us a taste of the entire sea, so also understanding the opening line will reveal to us the magnificence of the entire hymn.

OM – The universal prayer

The best upadesha (spiritual instruction) is the Pranava, the sacred syllable OM, which summarises many principles of theology, philosophy and mysticism. Little children just learning to toddle about are given a three-wheeled contraption which they push forward, holding on to the cross-bar. The OM is such a 'vehicle' for the spiritual child. The three wheels are a, u and m, the three components of the mantra. OM is the primal sound inherent in the life breath.
- Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, 4/10/1965; SSS 5-46

OM is single-syllabled and represents Brahman (God).
- Bhagavad Gita 8.13

OM is a universal prayer to all forms of God. Phonetically, OM is composed of three sounds “a”, “u” and “m”. The sound “a” arises from the inner most part of the vocal apparatus (gut), the sound “m” from the outer most vocal apparatus (lips) and the sound “o” is representative of all of the sounds from the rest of the vocal apparatus. Thus the combination of all three represents all possible sounds. Since names are words and words are sounds, OM contains in it all the names of God (irrespective of the religion). Each name of God is associated with some form or concept of God. So when one chants OM, it has the same effect as chanting all the names of God of all forms. Thus OM is the most universal of all prayers to God.

In the Vedic tradition OM is considered as the harbinger of auspiciousness. It is believed that Lord Brahma (name used to address God when viewed as performing the task of creation) uttered the word OM and then began the task of creation. Hence chanting OM before beginning any task will augur well for the successful completion of the task.

Sri Krishna said: ( Bhagavad Gita 7.8 and 10.25 respectively)

I am OM in all the Vedas.
Among words, I am the single-syllable OM.

Namaha – The complete surrender

You have nothing in you or belonging to you that you can claim as yours to offer to God. Then, what does surrender of the self, signify or imply? To experience God as Omnipresent, to be aware of nothing other than God this is true surrender. To see God in everything, everywhere, at all times, is true sharanaagathi (surrender). He gives, He enjoys, He experiences.
-Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, 8/10/1981; SSS 15-28

The word “namo” is the same as the word “namaha”. The word “namaha” under certain rules of phonetic conjunction is pronounced as “namo”. They are the same.

The meaning of the word namaha is reverential salutation. The word namaha is derived from the root word “nam” in Sanskrit which means “to bow”. Even though that is the etymology from the linguistic perspective, the spirit behind the word is the attitude of “na mama” or “not mine” which is a concise way of expressing the subordination of one’s individual preferences and prejudices to the will of God.

The first part of Sri Rudram is called Namakam because of the repetition of the word “namaha” or “namo” that occurs after every utterance of a glory or attribute or name of the Lord or His manifestation. This repeated utterance indicates the attitude with which one should pray to God, namely “not mine, but Thy will be done”.

Vedic tradition recommends that the reverential salutation be done in the form of prostration with eight limbs namely the knees, the feet, the palms, the chest, the mind, the forehead, the speech and the sight. Among all these, Swami has laid particular emphasis on the mind being the most important aspect of reverential salutation. Sri Rudram too mentions about the worship in one’s mind (“prabharamahe matim” – we worship you in our minds; in the 10th anuvaka). It also talks of worship being done with an attitude of surrender (“namasaa vidhema te” – we worship you with surrender; in the 10th anuvaka).

One of the main purposes of chanting Rudram is to inculcate the spirit of surrender to God as elucidated by Swami (quoted above) namely by recognizing that God is immanent in all life and matter and there is nothing other than God. Sri Rudram goes beyond saying that there is only one God, by showing that there is only God.

Sri Krishna said:

Seek refuge in Him (God) alone with all your being, O Arjuna (scion of Bharata dynasty). Through His Grace you will attain supreme peace and eternal abode.
- Bhagavad Gita 18.62

Bhagavan – The Supreme Lord

What is the inner meaning of the expression, Bhagavaan? The Vedas say, Bhagavaan principle is the same as Brahman, Paramaatma. Bhagavaan is the Ultimate, the Full. Bha means having full auspiciousness and prosperity. Ga means deserving praise and adoration. In the Raamaayana, Bhagavaan is described in clear terms. He sustains the Universe using His creative power as the means. He creates and fosters what is created. So, He is Sambhartha or Bhartha, He who raises, He who rules and saves. Bha also means light, splendour. Bhagavaan is He who sheds and spreads Light. Bhagavaan is embodiment of Light, Effulgence. Since He can and does illumine all things and beings everywhere at all times, He is Bha-ga-vaan.
- Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, 5/4/1981; SSS 15-4

The word “bhagavate” is the dative case (4th declension) of the word “bhagavan”. The word “bhagavate” means “unto bhagavaan (supreme lord)”. It means that the salutations (“namaha”) are unto Rudra who is Bhagavan. The word “Bhagavaan” in the Vedic tradition means the one who has the following six attributes: lordship, power, fame, wealth, knowledge and dispassion – all in full measure without any deficiency or defect.

In this sacred hymn Rudra is praised as the "pati" or Lord of various beings. He is presented as having complete lordship over them (example: “pashuunaam pataye namaha” - lord of all beings; in the 2nd anuvaka). The list of beings mentioned is meant to be only to be illustrative and not exhaustive. In such verses, one finds repeated mention of the words "pataye namaha" which means "salutations unto the Lord". Such praises are meant to highlight that the Lord is in complete control of all life forms and their destinies. Recognizing this helps the devotee to worship God seeking His protection with faith and surrender.

The hymn further explains that all forms (animate and inanimate) are manifestations of Rudra. The creation is not different from the Creator. Just as the pot is never separate from the clay, the wave never separate from the sea, so also the creation is never separate from the Creator. Creation is a collection of names and forms. By presenting the very same Rudra as manifest in different names and forms, the hymn teaches us that though names and forms may be many, their truth is one and that is God. Therefore, worship of creation is really a worship of the Creator provided their identity is understood. Thus, Rudra is worshipped as the material cause of the universe.

While worshipping Rudra as manifested in various forms, both good and bad are equally worshipped (example: “namo grutsebhyo” - salutation to the greedy, and “namo mahadbhyaha” - salutation to respectable people; both in the 4th anuvaka). This teaches that while God is the Creator the universe, He is also unaffected by creation. Just as all life becomes active in the presence of sunlight and yet the sunlight is never affected by the activities performed in it, so also all creation (good and bad; animate and inanimate) comes to being because of God and yet He remains unaffected by them. Even though God manifests in various forms, He is limited neither to those forms nor by those forms. And hence, He is able to be both just and merciful. As a dispenser of the law of karma, He is just and when devotees repent for their wrongdoings and surrender to Him, He is merciful.

Rudra is also worshipped as the very force that governs the universe. Not only matter, but also the various natural laws that govern the universe are also manifestations of Rudra. Rudra, the one and only God, is worshipped as many Rudras to indicate that the one God manifests as various forces that govern the lives of beings (“namo rudrebhyaha” - salutations to the Rudras; in the 11th anuvaka). In this way, Rudra is worshipped as the efficient cause of the universe.

Rudra is in everything; in fact everything is Rudra. He is proximate and profound. He is full and free. Rudra is Bhagavan. When the devotee comprehends this glorious vision of Bhagavan, he or she learns to spontaneously Love All, Serve All.

Beholding the Cosmic Form revealed by Sri Krishna, Arjuna praised Him as follows:

You are the primal deity; the ancient being; the supreme refuge of this universe; you are both the knower and what is ought to be known; and the supreme abode. O Thou of infinite forms, the universe is pervaded by Thee.
- Bhagavad Gita 11.38

Rudra – The fierce and auspicious

...In the context of Shiva, one of these aspects has been described as Mangalaakaara (auspicious form) or one who gives prosperity and good. There is an opposite side of it called Rudra Aakaara (fierce form). These two aspects differ in form and appearance, but we have not tried to realise the oneness or unity that is present in both aspects. Not only in God do we see these two aspects of anger and peace, we see them also in the whole created world occurring side by side. The aspect that one really notices depends totally on the attitude of one’s mind.

When the fearsome Narasimha (incarnation of God in the form of man-lion), emerged out of the pillar, Prahlada (a great devotee) witnessed His form but enjoyed the serenity enshrined within. Prahlada was deeply immersed in happiness when he looked at this peaceful attitude. To Hiranyakasipu (demon father of Prahlada), who regarded himself as an enemy of God, the very same Narasimha appeared in an angry mood. That the same was seen by one as Shiva and another as Rudra has to be interpreted by saying that these two aspects are not intrinsic to God but arise from the different attitudes which the devotees themselves possess.
- Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Summer Showers in Brindavan 1974, Part 1

The name Rudra is derived from the root word "rud" which in Sanskrit means to cause anguish (literally, to cause to cry). In the first anuvaka, Rudra is depicted as the fierce one who is ready to dispense the results of one's karma. The depiction of Rudra as fierce is merely a reflection of the devotee faced with the consequences of past actions, the results of which are inexorable. The root word "rud" also means one who removes sorrow. This twin interpretation is very appropriate to the Lord, since it is the very same Lord who is about to unleash the fury in the form of karmic results is also the one who can relieve us from the results of our actions. Thus Rudra as the dispenser of karmic results is fierce, but as the saviour from the law of karma, He is auspicious.

The prayer in the first anuvaka implores Rudra to show mercy on all beings including oneself ("maa himsih purusham jagat" - may thou not harm me and the world, and "shivo nah sumanaa bhava" – be thou of benevolent disposition to us; both in the 1st anuvaka). Here, the devotee recognizes the painful consequences of one's own karma and seeks refuge in God (Rudra) for protection. Then between the 2nd and 9th chapters the glory of Rudra as Bhagavan is described which is for contemplation by the devotee. Then in the 10th and 11th anuvaka, there is further prayer to seek His protection and to request that He bless one and all with peace and bliss.

In this sacred hymn, the devotee seeks to transform Rudra from one who causes anguish to one who removes all anguish. When a person is immersed in worldly life and is unmindful of the consequences of one's actions, He beholds Rudra as the fierce one. But when that person realizes the higher potential of human existence and reaches out to God (Rudra) for help, the very same Rudra appears as auspicious. This transformation of Rudra is really a transformation of the individual.

Thus, the chanting of Sri Rudram is said to be very conducive to spiritual progress. And because it is a prayer on behalf of both oneself and all beings, it invokes the blessings and protection of God on all.

Sri Krishna said:
Even if a man of very bad conduct worships Me with single-hearted devotion, he is to be considered good for he has resolved rightly.
Bhagavad Gita 9.30

Conclusion

Thus, we see that Sri Rudram is a universal prayer to the Supreme Lord with complete surrender seeking His protection for oneself and for all beings in the creation.

When performed as a ritual with selfless motives and for the benefit of the world, it takes the form of karma yoga. When the glories of Bhagavan are chanted and reminisced, it serves as bhakti yoga. When one enquires into the unitary principle behind all diversities, as pointed out by the prayer, it is conducive to jnana yoga. Thus Sri Rudram is a complete prayer and truly the crest jewel among the several hymns in the Vedas.

The Vedic tradition says that just as the entire tree is nourished when its roots are watered, so also all forms of God are as though worshipped when Rudra is worshipped. The chanting of various glories of God in this hymn is the most ancient and original form of Namasmarana or Japa (contemplation on the various names of God). Sri Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita (10.25): “Among the rituals, I am the ritual of japa”.

Swami has emphasised the study of Vedas and within Vedas the study and chanting of Rudram. That it would please Him if we study the Vedas, chant, understand the meaning and practice it, should be sufficient motivation for us to encourage and enthuse ourselves in this noble endeavour.

Let us conclude by reminding ourselves of what Swami said about the Vedas: Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, 9/8/2006;

A regular study of the Vedas and practice of Vedic injunctions confer all forms of wealth on the human beings. The fundamental principles governing human life and destiny are contained in the Vedas. The Vedas are the gift of God for the welfare of the entire humanity. The Vedas make no distinction whatsoever on the basis of religion, caste, nationality, etc. The Vedic mantras can be chanted by one and all… It is Swami's wish that the Vedas be spread to every country, so that every human being, irrespective of religion, caste, nationality, etc., learns Vedas and chants them...The Vedas remove all types of sorrow.

Krishna Subrahmanian
Alumnus, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Chairperson, Mill Hill Sai Centre, Region 3, SSSSO UK

Trust Matters

Sri Sathya Sai Charitable Trust UK Update

In London in April 2013, the Trustees had the honour of meeting Dr Pal Dhall, the head of the International Sathya Sai Education Committee who was appointed in February 2013. Dr Dhall made several visits within the UK, including one to Sathya Sai School, Leicester, under the auspices of Mr Kishin Khubchandani, who is both our Trust Chairperson and the Zone Chair of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Africa and the islands of the Indian Ocean (excluding Sri Lanka), along with Dr Kiran Patel, the SSSSO UK Chairperson.

Trust Meetings:

The Trust met on April 24th 2013 in London and has had very regular communications via email both before and since that meeting.

Sri Lanka Flood Victim Housing Update:

As was mentioned in the February edition of ‘Love and Light’: In liaison with Dr Visvanathar Jeganathan, the Chairman of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation of Sri Lanka Central Council, the Trust in February sent £20,000 from its Tsunami Fund to assist the Sai organisation in building low-cost permanent homes for some of the displaced flood victims.
Since then, we have seen the plans and approved them, subject to a change in the roofing material from asbestos to a healthier substitute.

In Sri Lanka, the SSSSO SL has been working hard. It has had to revise the original house plan and cost estimate, which did not cover the inclusion of piped water or a toilet, it also did not allow for the cost of plastering and painting.

The cost of building the newly-designed houses will be an estimated SLR 680,000 to 700,000 per house, depending on the area of location of the house. Therefore, the £20,000 that we donated will probably support the construction of about six to seven houses. Each house will therefore average between £2,800 and £3,300 build cost.

These are homes that will provide a proper, permanent and more modern lifestyle for distressed families.

Dr Jeganathan tells us that the selection of beneficiaries is being done very carefully, based upon the following criteria:

• They must have been affected by the December 2012 - January 2013 floods
• They must be from an income Group - below the poverty line (using Sri Lankan index)
• They must currently have no permanent house in which to live
• The number of family members - particularly children - is important, and is taken into account
• The family does need to have a source of income and an average income per month

Once the beneficiaries are selected, the SSSSO SL goes into legal matters. The following documents are then drawn up, scrutinised carefully and secured:

1. A copy of the deed of ownership of the land certified by the GS (the village headman), confirming the identity and eligibility of the beneficiary as a flood-affected household.
2. A letter from the beneficiary consenting to the housing proposal by the Sai Organisation including a sign-off on the proposed plan.
3. A building plan approved by the necessary local authority.
4. A contract to be signed by the contractor for the stipulated house.

Accordingly, two beneficiaries have been selected in the District of Batticaloa, foundation stones have been laid and construction work is in progress.

Beneficiary Family 1:

This is composed of a grandmother, with five school-going grandchildren, who is now living with them in a temporary hut thatched with coconut leaves and cooking outside. The current source of water is a dug well. The grandmother goes to the nearby beach when the fishing boats reach the shore, begs for a few fish, and sells them in the village earning a few rupees, which is hardly enough for a meal a day. The father of the children left the family a few years ago and is now living with another wife far away. The mother of the children has apparently gone abroad, seeking a job, and her whereabouts are completely unknown.

Beneficiary Family 2:

A family of three comprising a father, mother and their three year-old daughter. The father is permanently in a wheel chair with paralysis of both legs and weakness of both arms. They live in a hut, with thatched roof. The source of water is a dug well. Their source of income is very small-scale, inadequate for a basic livelihood.

Further Beneficiary Families:

Two more beneficiary families have been identified in the District of Trincomalee. Matters pertaining to ownership of the building plots are under legal investigation. Very soon, these legalities will be completed and construction will commence.

Updates on the progress of the project are being sent to us by the SSSSO SL National Service Coordinator, Mr Hari Darshan, he is in charge of the implementation of this very useful, life-changing project. He tells us, “We hope, by Swami's grace, that the first two houses will be completed during the month of July and be ready for handing over”.

It is often raised that merely ‘helping a handful’ of people does not warrant the expenditure of around a few thousand pounds, and that maybe such sums could be used to benefit greater numbers. This is true of so many things. However, this project will radically change these beneficiaries’ lives forever and bring them together safely under their very own roof in a substantially built home that will hopefully last for a few generations to come.

A grandmother, suddenly thrust into the position of being totally responsible in every way, for five grandchildren will naturally pour out her motherly and protective love on them.
For any grandmother, regardless of her economic status, to suddenly be responsible for every single aspect of her five grandchildren’s upbringing, going far into the future, is a very daunting and stressful task. If, in addition, that grandmother has little or no financial means to support them, then the task is overwhelmingly difficult.

If, further, that grandmother has also just been through terrible floods with those children, then her fortitude and spirit have been severely tested. Let us pray that this dwelling will be propitious and provide a security and stability that will enable this family to grow, prosper and flourish, long into the future.

The disabled father may feel disempowered and inadequate as a husband and parent, let us pray that there is an uplifting quality that comes with receiving this house that is both enabling and dignifying for this family of flood victims.

My mother’s school motto was: “Do one thing supremely not many things indifferently.” Certainly, I believe that is the case here.

Article submitted by Rev Rosemary Perry on behalf of the Sri Sathya Sai Charitable Trust UK

Region 1 - Buddhism at Brixton Sai Centre

The month of May saw the members of Brixton Sai Centre interact with the Buddhist religion in two particular ways: first a visit by the SSE students to a Buddhist temple; then the celebration of Buddha Poornimaa.

On Sunday 26 May 2013, the Centre celebrated Buddha Poornimaa. The proceedings started just before 11.30am with the reading of the Thought of the Day from Prashaanti, followed by a few minutes of silent sitting, recitation of multi-faith prayers, group devotional singing for about 1 hour, the aaratee and a few minutes of meditation.

A short talk was given by one of the Nursery SSE students (Ria Neerohoo) about Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. She narrated how Buddha Poornimaa is the most sacred day in the Buddist calendar and that it celebrates the birth, enlightenment and the death of Lord Buddha. It is believed that Lord Buddha was born and left the world on the same date after living for 80 years. By finding the path to enlightenment, away from the pain of suffering and rebirth, Siddartha became known as the Buddha or Awakened One. Ria also outlined the five principles of Buddha’s teachings, which are: (1) not to take life; (2) not to steal; (3) not to lie; (4) not to drink alcohol; and (5) not to be disloyal. The teachings of Lord Buddha are as true today as they have always been. They give complete peace of mind and help any person to have peace and harmony in life.

The programme ended with the recitation of Tibetan Buddhist hymns dedicated to the 21 Taaraas (female Buddhas) by brother Rajendra, after a brief explanation of their significance and the meaning behind the different colours they wear. A special altar had been arranged for the occasion, focussed on the Green Taaraa representing enlightenment.

Jai Sai Raam.

Region 1 - Dr. T. Ravikumar’s Talk at Merton Sai Centre

Om Sri Sai Ram

On the evening of May 5th, 2013, the devotees from Region 1 were fortunate to listen to the talk delivered by Dr. T. Ravikumar, Warden, Brindavan Campus. Dr. T. Ravikumar had been speaking at various Regions across the UK for over a week by then and some of his experiences had already reached the ears of the devotees at Region 1 making them yearn for more. The devotees had gathered in the Sai Mandir for bhajans which was to be led by Balvikas (SSE) children that day. The altar was beautifully decorated with tall lamps at both ends and Swami’s chair placed right at the centre. The children were seated in the front and were all ready to sing the glory of our Lord. The children sang the bhajans beautifully for nearly an hour and Dr. T. Ravikumar also participated in that by playing the tambourine towards the end.

Following that, he started his talk by narrating on how the tambourine led him all the way to the door step of Swami’s room during his student days. He went on to highlight that Swami can use any instrument at His will to achieve His goals. He then spoke about how Swami answered the prayer of a young student by building the hostel at Brindavan within the ashram premises instead of building it elsewhere according to the original plan. This showed the value of a prayer and how God was willing to move buildings or even mountains just for the sake of His devotees. Dr. T. Ravikumar also mentioned about how Swami cured his father’s stroke in a flash when he was unsure if he would be able to continue to serve at the university should his father’s ailment become worse. In this instance, he described how a simple prayer in front of Swami’s photo moved the merciful Lord to perform a miracle on his father who was elsewhere in Bangalore. His incidents were very simple yet conveyed the glory of our divine Lord in an elegant manner. After all, the most important aspect of an experience is neither the experience nor the devotee but the Lord Himself.

Dr. T. Ravikumar had to extend his talk twice at the request of the devotees but had to unfortunately conclude as it was getting late. Listening to him describe the glory of our Lord was so nectarine that everyone including the Balvikas children (some of them under 7 years of age) were rooted to their seats for more than two hours. The evening was extremely enriching and left everyone contemplating on the selfless, compassionate and ever-loving nature of our Lord Sai.

Merton Centre

Region 1 - Easwaramma Day Celebration

On Saturday 11th May 2013, Region One congregated to celebrate Easwaramma Day at Norbury Manor Business and Enterprise College for Girls, Kensington Avenue, Thornton Heath. The SSE students, smartly uniformed in white, took their positions and conducted a march past and offered their humble salutations to both Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and beloved mother Easwaramma. Each child placed either a values or a faith symbol placard in a vase which reminded everyone of the core-values (truth, right conduct, peace, love and non-violence) Bhagawan has gifted us all with.

The opening ceremony commenced with all the children from various centres chanting the Vedas and multi faith prayers followed by Bhajans by nursery children that uplifted us all with divine vibrations.

Swami has said, “Tell inspiring stories and make the children enact plays. What they do, they will never forget.” The SSE children aged four to sixteen from each centre in Region One made magnificent offerings in forms of dramas and devotional singing. There were meaningful values presented in each performance.

It was an honour to hear two guest speakers, sister Vidyulata, the National SSE coordinator and Brother Kiran, the National Chairman, who greatly inspired the SSE students, parents and teachers. The day was filled with something special for all.
During the programme, the youth of region one assembled small gift bags filled with a token of love for the SSE children whilst Group-4 (LOTTUS) students compared very eloquently.
As the programme drew to a close, the SSE students of group four offered devotional songs which concluded with the bhajan ‘Subramanyam Subramanyam’ in Bhagawan’s golden voice, followed by Mangala-arati.

was truly wonderful to see the SSE students, teachers, parents and youth working together in unity to commemorate one of the most auspicious occasions.

‘Respect your mother, obey her commands. Give her the utmost importance in human life. There may be a wicked son, but not a wicked mother. It is because of the noble feelings of the mothers that children become virtuous, intelligent, attain exalted positions and earn name and fame. The mother fosters you, nourishes you, knows your choices, preferences and fulfils all your needs. So, be grateful to your mother always. Mother protects and helps her children always, in many ways and even after her death. Never disrespect your mother or disappoint her or hurt her feelings. Try to satisfy her in all respects. Only then will the seed of devotion sprout in you. Everyone should follow the dictum, Mathru Devo bhava (Mother is God) in letter and spirit and receive their mother’s love. Also never look down upon women. They are embodiments of Nature and most virtuous. With all the sacred feelings in your heart, respect women and be respected’.
- Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Region 1 - Easwaramma Day Celebrations at Merton Sai Centre

It is as a part of the SSE curriculum, that the children are encouraged to take part in plays as part of group activities. During the practices the children imbibe qualities such as co-operation, helpfulness and team work. Swami has said “Tell inspiring stories and make the children enact plays,” He said, “What they do, they will never forget.”

With practices for the plays having started at the end of February, and with a great deal of hard work put in by the teachers, parents and children; on 6th May 2013, Easwaramma day was celebrated at Merton Sai Centre with various presentations of bhajans, prayers and plays.

The programme began with invocatory prayers and bhajans being led by nursery children aged between 4 and 6 years. This was followed by a drama by Group 1 boys, entitled “All religions are one” which depicted incidences from the four major world religions, showing that they all lead to the same God.

Next, came a drama by the girls of Group 1 on the life and teachings of Gautama Buddha. The play depicted the most significant teaching of the noble eightfold path, which showed the way towards the ending of suffering and the beginning of self-awakening.

This was followed by a play by boys from Groups 2 and 3, on Advaita Vedanta as propounded by Sri Adi Shankara. The play showed the early life of Sri Adi Shanakara up to the time he met his guru, Sri Govindapada. The play included a recitation of the Nirvana Shatakam summarising Advaitic philosophy, which was sung by Shankara in reply to his guru who questioned him “Who are you?”

Finally, the Group 2 and 3 girls presented a play entitled “The religion of love” based on the life of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Sri Ramakrishna in his lifetime, proved the reality of God and the truth of religion. As Swami declared in 1968, “Believe that all hearts are motivated by the one God; that all faiths glorify Him alone; that all names in all languages and all forms man can conceive denote the one Supreme Being; His adoration is best done by means of love.” The play showed how Sri Ramakrishna pined to have the vision of his beloved Divine Mother and how, after attaining the vision of mother Kali, he followed the different religions exclusively and subsequently attained the visions of the deities of those faiths.

The programme came to a happy conclusion with a few bhajans, Aarthi and distribution of Mahaprasadam.

It was commendable that all the wings of the Merton Sai Centre including SSE, Spiritual, Service and youth wings along with the parents of the SSE children worked together for nearly three months to make this event spiritually vibrant and enjoyable.

Jai Sai Ram

Region 1 - Events at Tooting Sai Centre

Easwaramma Day celebrations were held on 5th May with the commencement of bhajans followed by performances from children of four different classes . A lot of preparation went into the plays and the teachers , children and parents did a wonderful job to make the programme a resounding success. Events such as these really do bring out the Communal Spirit of the Centre as the day before a number of parents helped to set up the Hall, Stage and the Altar in readiness for the event for the following day whilst the children were doing their rehearsals at the same time.

The nursery children did a medley of nursery rhymes and actions to the song ' Let my head feel peace, Let my eyes see good, Let my mouth speak only truth, Let my hands always help, Let my feet move to serve, Let my heart be full of Love. Another play on 'Are we really Loving' was based on Mother Teresa who always gave her Love to all no matter who they were, what they looked like, what they dressed like or what they ate. The third play was a story, song and prayers on Hanuman who allowed himself to be used as an instrument in the Divine Mission of Rama. So like Hanuman, we should surrender to God and become his instruments. The final play was on' Gautama Buddha's prescription' and reminded us to keep our words, thought and actions under control and set a good example to others.

The values of all that they represented were obvious in the plays and it was no coincidence that the five values of Truth, Peace, Love, Right Conduct and Non-Violence were constantly felt throughout the morning.

In tandem with the multi-faith and Sai Family Values, Tooting Sai centre has held two Study Circles in March and April to elaborate on these points and what they mean to us as a Centre.

With over 25 attendees, we discussed on what constitutes a family, why devotees come to the Centre, what do they hope to gain in their spiritual journey, how we can benefit each other & the wider society, the equality of all at the Centre, the non-judgemental approach of devotees towards each other, similarities between our Centre and say, a Church, how we put into practice what we have learnt at the Centre. The next steps naturally are to put into practice what has been learnt.

The Centre further celebrated Buddha Purnima on Sunday 26th May where the altar included the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism.

An explanation was given for each of the eight symbols ( Conch, Umbrella, Victory Banner, Golden Fish, Dharma Wheel, Endless Knot, Lotus flower, Vase of Treasure) and how they also correlate to Sai teachings. The Conch, for example is representative of the awakening from the deep sleep of ignorance , the Golden Fish represents us swimming fearlessly and without drowning in an ocean of suffering, the Lotus flower is for purity of body, speech and mind and in a similar way the deeper meanings of the other symbols were explored. The end point of Buddhism, as with Swami's teachings, was the attainment of self-realisation and liberation.

Tooting Sai Centre

Region 1 - May Ladies Day at Brixton Centre

On the 19th May 2013, Brixton Sai Centre celebrated Ladies’ Day. This day was dedicated to all the women around the world.

The programme started with multi-faith prayers sang by everyone. Lovely group devotional songs were sung afterwards. During these, Swami blessed us with his presence. Afterwards, the gentlemen left the room for a study circle of their own, to allow the ladies to carry out the activities planned for themselves. These started with a quiz conducted by Alisha Manandhar, with the ladies divided into two groups: Satya and Dharma. The topic was Swaami's life.

After listening to a talk by Phyllis Krystal in Prashaanti, given on Ladies’ Day last November, the activities ended with our brainstorming our ideas on the concept of unity. Everyone had really nice ideas, all written out and decorated on paper.

To finish off, some snacks prepared by the ladies were served to all, including the gentlemen. We were very fortunate to feel Swaami's presence that day: it made us realise that we are indeed in good company and we are ever so grateful to Swaami for being with us and guiding us in our lives.

Region 1 - Sathya Sai Aradhana Day

The devotees from region 1 came together for the 24 hour Sathya Sai Aradhana day at the Sai Mandir on Effra Road, Wimbledon, hosted by Merton Centre. The proceedings started at 8.00 PM on 23 April 2013 with Vedic chanting and bhajans. At 10.00 PM the youth of the region took over and invigorating bhajans followed for over 2 hours. The rest of the night flew past as devotees from the region sang Multi-Faith bhajans, chanted the Sai Gayathri and Namasmaran.

At 3.00 AM all present were requested to chant “Aum Bhagwan shri Sathya Sai Baba nahama” and at approximately 3.10 AM (UK time two years ago when Bhagwan left His physical form) floral arrangements on the photo of our beloved Bhagwans lotus feet dropped, I guess signalling to some devotees who witnessed this that He is pleased and with us forever.

Dawn beaconed and Sri Sathya Sai Suprabhaatam was invoked at 5.30 AM. Proceedings continued throughout the day with bhajans and 2 hours of Hunaman Chalisa chanting. From 4.30 PM to 6.00 PM the SSE children energised all with singing the glories of God.

The 24 hour prayers concluded at 8.00 PM on 24 April 2013 with aarti and Region 1 devotees are looking forward to next year Aradhana day.

Region 1 - Young Adult Programme (YAP): Youth in Service

YAP (Young Adults Programme), is a regular Youth Satsang held across the country. In Region 1, youth meet every third Friday of the month to discuss Sai Teachings and how we can implement in our daily lives.

YAP is a platform where Youth can come and discuss topics dear to them, in an open environment. In our Region, we always have the kind loving support from the Sai Mandir at the Ganapathy Temple to allow us to use their venue to host our YAP sessions.

After taking in all the feedback from our youth, we decided to dedicate this month’s YAP on a topic where a lot of interest was shown: Seva (Service). We aimed to echo the interest that had been shown on the topic of service, by taking action on this interest. The evening proved to be a very successful method of providing a guide for the future, for our youth to set realistic targets for our spiritual progress.

Just like all YAP sessions, we started by introducing ourselves and had an ice breaker. We all recalled something new that we had done in the last 3 months. It was very interesting that we forget about the various new aspects in our lives in such a short space of time. We all probably do something new each and every day, but when we try to recall it, our monkey mind finds it difficult to focus.

From here we then decided to address the fundamental aspects of service, or lack of service. So we had an open discussion about; What is service? Why do we do service? How do we feel when doing service? What motivates us to do service?

“What is Service?” came to a quick consensus, that any act done with love and self-sacrifice can be considered as service, and sometimes we take for granted the finer aspects of service.

“Why we do service? Interlinked with the succeeding questions of; how do we feel when doing service and what motivates us to do service. Generally everyone felt that service was done to help other people unconditionally, but through further discussion, we realised that it is also to help ourselves spiritually progress. We felt that instead of thinking about how we have helped the other party, we should also be introspecting and realising how our action, has changed us. We concluded that we should not expect any reward for the actions we do, however praise is inevitable, but we should make sure it does not add to our egos. We strongly agreed that service to man is service to God, and we should permanently imprint that in our mind, while doing any act of service.

We then split up into two groups, to discuss: What service activities does our centre/region currently do? Why do we do them? What problems do we face in maintaining the project? What service activities do we actually want to do?

Both groups covered all the service activities which the region do, on a centre level as well as regional, ranging from general centre activities, to Bingo for the elderly, to collecting Christmas presents for children’ hospitals, plus many more activities. However we realised that these service activities are either one-off projects, such as collections for various holidays, or they are not very recognised service projects throughout the region. From this we tried to find out the reason why people got involved with these service activities; which resulted in personal fulfillment, the opportunity to give back the wonderful values we have learnt, the desire to help people who need it and the aspect of conquering a challenge.

Furthermore, we also established that these activities would start, but eventually the buzz would slowly fade away. This was due to various other commitments; both personally and within the centre/regions and nationally. It was also felt by some, that some of the service activities become too monotonous/boring and results in less engagement to participate.

Some of these aspects are difficult to address, but a lot of them funneled down to greater levels of organisation required, including communication at all levels from centre to regional to national. This tied in with the fact that with the lack of communication, we cease to see the end result, or the ongoing benefits of a service activity. When a service project becomes boring or monotonous, we shouldn’t continue to do the activity in that way, but at the same time we shouldn’t stop the activity. The best solution seemed to be to add a different aspect to the service project, to make it different to the regular weekly/monthly visits to the elderly homes and try to mix it up with a different activity to do with the elderly people. Swami has said Himself “life is a game, play it”; why don’t we make every aspect of our life an enjoyable game like, creating a game to find out who can find out the most interesting thing, one of the elderly citizens has done in their life. Creating a long term benefit can always help, by setting a target to work towards with any service project. Having realistic milestones set, provides motivation for everyone to work together to achieve them. Another thing we observed is that the youth work very well when we endeavor to undertake a large scale project.

The session provided a lot of information for us to work with over the coming months, but to keep the energy charged, we have decided to immediately partake in a few activities. First being Spires, a homeless shelter in South London, which is an ongoing project where each centre in the reigon collect food ingredients, and then two youth from each centre will help prepare the food to be distributed. This is an ongoing quarterly based project, that the youth will be taking lead in throughout the region. Secondly, the youth will be leading the Food Bank program where all the centres will donate non-perishable food items, and then these items are collected and provided to the Trussell trust, who run the UK Foodbanks.

Another project we are currently working on, is to go to Evelina Childrens Hospital at St Thomas hospital, and host various party events for the kids. We have a team of youth who are liaising with the hospital currently, and arranging specific dates where our Youth can go and help put a smile on these lovely children, who are undergoing various treatments. This is a very exciting project which we hope will become a regular occurrence.

We were also very lucky to have had the Regional Service Coordinator, Rajendrabhai Manandhar and Regional Chair, Yoges uncle attend our YAP session, where they have showed great interest in our plans and initiatives for the future, and have agreed to help us in any possible way. They also encouraged us to get more involved and aspire for more, as we underestimate our own capabilities.

The best way to conclude this article is by finishing with Swami’s own message on Service:

“Many social workers visit hospitals to do service. Most of the work done, like fanning patients, writing letters for them and singing bhajans, appears mechanical. It is done as that is what is defined as service and done without paying heed to what the patient really needs! That is incorrect. Service must be done with the full cooperation of the mind, gladly, intelligently, and reverentially. The patient should not feel disgusted at the fussiness of the social worker, but indeed look forward to their arrival, as that of someone near and dear! If you do not like one type of service, do not engage in it. Do not burden your mind by the unpleasantness of a task. Work done mechanically is like the flame of an oil-less wick. Your mental enthusiasm is the oil, pour it and the lamp will burn clear and long".
- Divine Discourse, Mar 25, 1958.

Written by Region 1 Youth Team

Region 2 - Age Link Party

Tea and cucumber sandwiches anyone?

An afternoon tea party for our respected senior citizens

Sunday 12th May was a glorious afternoon; the sun was shining down beaming its golden rays over Oxhey Wood Primary School, the venue for an Afternoon Tea Party for Elderly and infirm people who generally get to see very few people because they live alone and rarely get visitors.

We arrived at the venue an hour before our guests, eager to make things perfect for the party and preparations were under way instantly. Our SSE students, teachers, parents and centre members alike, were all buzzing around like joyful busy bees. Setting up chairs, laying the tables with beautiful fresh flower arrangements, hanging up bunting and balloons, transforming the otherwise normal school dining hall into a truly beautiful party venue. Nothing was too much trouble when it came to looking after our divine guests.

No sooner had the final touches been made, than our guests began to arrive. They were lovingly shown to their seats with a helping hand from our volunteers and senior students. Two of our SSE students decided to sing to welcome them as they arrived, totally impromptu and straight from the heart. We are so proud of all our SSE students and the care with which they looked after these ‘new grandparents’.

As soon as all the guests were made comfortable, they were served with cups of tea and coffee accompanied with an array of delicious food items all lovingly prepared, by our all too willing volunteers. There were sandwiches, savouries, pastas, pastries, scones with jam, cakes, crisps and crackers and of course no “Indian” tea party would ever be complete without dhoklas and samosas. This was followed by generous helpings of strawberries and cream, double of course! The glow on the faces of our guests showed us that words were not needed to know how appreciative they were about the attention that had gone into every detail.

While our guests enjoyed their afternoon tea they were entertained with a variety of acts all performed by our very talented SSE students which included the birdy song performed by our nursery children, followed by some Old Time Music Hall songs which our guests were very willing and happy to sing along to.

Some of our guest even got up to lead some songs themselves; what a great thing for our children to see; people of their grandparents’ age abandoning the fear of standing in front of an audience. When it came to showing off their dancing skills there was no holding some of our Guests back, I think they could even show our younger members a move or two especially when it came to dancing the Gangnam Style!

This was then followed by a game of Bingo; it got very exiting as we neared the first completed line and then the Full House! Wow! We had a winner, and another...

And... there were prizes for all our winners. Of course, in our tea parties every single one of our guests is a winner; they were all presented with a token gift for giving us the opportunity to serve. So in fact, the real winners were all our students and volunteers – Hands that Help are Holier than Lips that Pray!

As it neared the end of the afternoon carriages and escorts where waiting to take our guests home. There was almost a reluctance to go because we were all having such a spiritually uplifting time. Still, we waved them off with all our love and appreciation for sharing their Sunday afternoon with us, filling it with fun, laughter and most of all, Love... Can’t wait for the next one!

Ami Tanna (Age 11) and Beena Tanna Pinner Sai Centre Region 2

Region 3 - A View of Swamis Omnipresence

On a cold wintry morning in the month of May (No surprise in the UK) , a local plumber visited our home to rectify a leak in the plumbing ( No surprise again )...

After completing the job, he came into our kitchen to return a cup (I had offered him a cup of tea to stop him from freezing!!). As he walked in, he noticed a small picture of Swami that we had placed on the doorframe. He kept looking at the picture intently and, after taking a deep breath, said to me “ I will never forget this person. He saved my life once!!” On hearing this, I asked him if he had been to India and met Swami. He said that he had never seen Swami in person but had felt his presence. He proceeded to tell me his story...

About a year ago, he was called to an Indian family’s home to repair a leaking pipe. In that home, there was an old mother and her young daughter. He had to use an electric drill in order to conduct the repair. When he pressed the switch on the drill, he was electrocuted by a massive power surge and became semi conscious!!! He could not speak. He had no sensation or movement below his neck. He was, however able to breathe, see and hear things going on around him.

The daughter called the emergency services immediately. Meanwhile, the old mother quickly went upstairs. She rushed back to me with some ‘white powder’ and some water in a cup. She also brought a small picture of Swami and put it by his side. She said to him in a loud voice “ Swallow this powder and drink this holy water. This is the best medicine for you now. My Swami will cure you immediately”. He saw the conviction in her eyes and felt the strength in her voice as he swallowed the powder and water that she gave him. As he lay there, she started chanting Swami’s name again and again. He felt an unusual peace within himself and unbelievably... started recovering!!

By the time the ambulance personnel arrived, he was sitting up and talking!! He explained what had happened to the emergency personnel. When they examined him, they could not find anything wrong!! He had recovered completely!!One of the emergency personnel told him that he may have just been confused due to the shock and may have imagined that he could not feel anything or move anything below his neck. He then suggested that they check the electric drill for faults. When they did so, they found that there had been a short circuit and he would probably have received a shock, which could have been three times the limit of fatality!! My hairs stood on end as I listened to this. Tears welled up in his eyes.

He asked me for a picture of Swami and also then prayed in silence in front of HIS picture. As he left I asked him if he prayed to Swami regularly. To this he replied, “I do not know his name or where he is. But whenever I face a problem, I think of him and the problem gets solved easily”. To this I said, “ He is Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and he is EVERYWHERE….”

JAI SAI RAM.
DR KUMAR SUBRAMANIAN
Spiritual Coordinator –Milton Keynes Sai Centre Region 3

Region 3 - Ilford Sai Centre Celebrates Buddha Purnima

Swami in the occasion of Buddha Purnima in 2006 said,

"Today is Buddha Poornima. Poornima means full moon. The underlying message of Buddha Poornima is that the mind should shine with total purity like full moon; it should unite with its source i.e., the Atma which is pure and effulgent. There is no darkness on the full moon night. On this auspicious day of Buddha Poornima, we should attain full purity of the mind."
Buddha Purnima Discourse in 2006 in Sai Kulwant

Swami has also often reminded us that purity is the essence of all sadhana. And Buddha's life after enlightenment shone with this splendour of pure character. If there is anything that we should take home in our lives and into our hearts on this festival it is this determination to withstand any ordeal, resist any temptation and overcome any obstacle that tests our levels of purity, and strive with Buddha-like dogged perseverance to attain that peace and happiness which is permanent, transcendental and most fulfilling.

Ilford Sai centre once again became a platform to host and facilitate yet another opportunity to devotees to purify their minds, on the occasion of Buddha Purnima on Saturday 25th of May 2013. A fantasticly transcendental altar set the scene for what was to become a real Buddhist spiritual experience.

After the usual vedic and multi faith prayers were chanted, a ganesh and guru bhajan then followed, enhancing the already vibrant mood in the large hall. This was then followed by the arrival of the five venerable buddhist monks from the Buddhist viharas of Plaistow, Edmonton, Ilford and Letchworth. We were then treated to a short speech on the ‘Dhamma’ before the monks proceeded to charge the entire gathering with 45 minutes of chanting or ‘pirith’.This needless to say transported all the devotees to a different dimension of spiritual vibrations.

After the chanting the monks then blessed the entire congregation with the sprinkling of holy water and tying of the ‘nool’ or a string around your wrist (a common Buddhist tradition). The monks then took leave and arathi was offered to Swami before vibuthi and fruit prashad was offered to the congregation.

A truly uplifting experience to say the least...

Dr Vickneswaren Krishnan
Chairperson, Ilford Sai Centre

Region 4 - Easwaramma Day 2013

We started the morning with SSE Bhajans sung beautifully by the children and we watched a short video on Mother Easwaramma detailing her life in song.
This was followed by a presentation by boys from all the age groups talk on the meaning and importance of Mother Easwaramma’s life in Swami’s mission of transformation.

Nursery & Playgroup Presentation

The SSE gurus of the nursery wing and play group had organised an Interactive Quiz which was based on the principles of Mother Easwaramma’s teachings and beliefs. The Interactive quiz provided clues by the children of the Nursery wing and the Play group children shared the answers with everyone. Everyone took part in giving out answers and the young children performed very confidently.

The quiz covered the principles of healthy eating, yoga and meditation, human values, drinking water and loving speechless animals. The children dressed up like a fruit, carried animal soft toys, dressed up as a water princess and there was also one child who dressed up as Little Baba to promote the human values.

It was a very fun filled and interactive quiz where everyone got involved and were very enthusiastic to give answers to the Clues provided. The message passed on by the children left a great impact on everyone present on that day.

The children finished on the note:
Let us grow together, let us live together, let us study together, and let us develop knowledge together, without conflict, with friendship and with Broadmindedness.

We then had group 2 and 3 girls perform solo instrumental pieces as an offering to Swami; first with a classical guitar piece and then a bhajan medley on western flute.

We finished with Aarti and thought for the day with a special Easwaramma Day poem and a dedication to all mothers with a personal poem from a student.

The above was PART 1 of our special program! PART 2 was about to start…every child was given a coloured sticker to form 3 groups to rotate round the 3 interactive workshops with their parents with centre members joining in as well.
We based our 3 workshops on Mother Easwaramma’s 3 Wishes of; Health, Water and Education for the villagers of Puttaparthi. We wanted families to take home key information and messages that they could then apply into their daily lives.

Healthy Eating Workshop: Food Is GOD

The healthy eating workshop incorporated children, youth and adults. All who attended were pleasantly surprised to find which different fruit and vegetables were beneficial for specific parts of the body.

First families had to match the fruit/vegetable to the part of the body they thought it was good for by looking at its colour, shape and features. Therefore, learning the message that God has created all we need to take care of our bodies.

Secondly, we unscrambled the food prayer and talked about its importance in destroying bad vibrations in food. To help children remember the food prayer, they creatively decorated a place mat to remind them to say the food prayer before eating.

Lastly, we divided foods into healthy and non-healthy. However the message here was that there are no healthy and unhealthy foods, but the amount we eat and how much we eat, decides whether it is healthy or not.

Water Workshop: Source of LIFE

A long time ago, Easwaramma asked Swami to have a well dug nearby so that the villagers could avoid a long trek to draw safe water. Little did she know that in years to come the Sri Sathya Sai Water Project would be serving so many villages and towns!
We are fortunate enough to have unlimited supply of drinking water in our own houses, but how often do we take water for granted? The aim of the water workshop was to raise the awareness of parents and children about the importance of water in our life and to convey the point that water is indeed our life source! We used interactive games and quizzes to educate everyone about what is water, where we derive it from and how it gets to us, who needs water, uses of water in our households and how can we reduce water wastages. All parents, children and elders participated with great interest and contributed wonderful insights! In general, the workshop helped us appreciate that water is a beautiful gift from Mother Earth and so we should use it with respect.

SSE children and parents were set an experiment to grow two sets of cress seeds, keeping all conditions the same. The only difference was to select one to pour positive vibrations on, in the form of prayer, song, kind words or thoughts. The aim was to see the physical effects positive vibrations have on living things. They also took home a strawberry plant to grow lovingly at home and reap the sweet fruit the plant provides.

Yoga Workshop:

We invited a yoga teacher to come and share the benefits and use of yoga in helping to calm the mind, mediate and improve concentration, with simple fun exercises: asanas for everyone to learn and try at home.

Everyone enjoyed a scrumptious healthy lunch to end the day as one big SAI family with simple nutritious food, a variety of delicious salads and fruit kebabs.
Group 3 students collected feedback from the children, parents and devotees during lunch about the workshops they enjoyed and we received lots of positive comments about each workshop and the learning everyone took, with requests for more yoga for children (which we have incorporated into our weekly SSE assembly after prayers) and to help us plan for future events.
We are grateful to Swami for helping us to create a wonderful day for the children and families and we look forward to next year’s celebrations!

Region 4 - Satcharitra Reading Gujarati

Twice a year, Leicester Narborough Sai Centre celebrate the teachings of Shirdi Baba by holding Satcharitra readings in Gujarati and English.

On this occasion the reading was done in Gujarati which gave the elderly the opportunity to participate.
The Youth took up the challenge of designing the Palki, preparing and making the woodwork and finally decorating it beautifully. The final product was the successful result of their enthusiasm and great teamwork.

The programme began on Friday evening with Baba's Palki Procession which was greeted by devotees both young and old showering flower petals on Baba as a token of their love for him. And if that wasn't enough to raise the vibrations, the beats of the dhol, Garba and chanting of ' Om Sai Namo Namah, Sri Sai Namo Namah, Jai Jai Sai Namo Nama, Mere Sadguru Sai Namo Namah" further elevated the atmosphere.

Bhajans and Qawalli's were sung in praise of Sai Naath and one, which transcended the devotees to Shirdi itself... Bhajans and Qawalli's were sung in praise of Sai Naath and one, which transcended the devotees to Shirdi itself....

"Arziyaan sari mein, chehre pe likh ke laaya hoon
tumse kya mangu mein, tum khud hi samjah lo
ya maula..., maula maula maula mere maula ......."

"All the requests, are written on my face
what can I ask from you, you yourself should understand
o lord/god... my lord....."

".... Jo bhi tere dar aaya, juhkne jo sar aaya
mastiyan piye sabko, jhoomta nazar aaya
pyaas le ke aaya tha, dariya woh bhar laya."

"Whoever has come to your door, whoever has come to bow at your feet
drunk with fun/bliss were seen dancing to everyone
he had come thirsty, and gone with a river full."

The session ended with Dhoop Aarti.
On Saturday it was a 5am start and the devotees witnessed a very special Abhishekam and the Kakad Aarti just like in Shirdi The readings started at 6.30am with the only breaks for Madhyan (afternoon) Aarti and the Dhoop (evening) Aarti.
After the reading was completed, devotees were given the chance to prostrate and offer flowers to Baba's lotus feet.

Below are some of the comments made by devotees who attended:

With Baba's grace we hope to keep re-living the pure Anandam of the Shirdi Sai Satcharitra.

- Bhavin V Jivraj

Region 5 - Buddha Poornima Celebrations and Orientation Day at Warrington

Buddha Poornima at Warrington Sai Centre

The wonderful day (19th May 2013) started with a study circle organised at the Warrington Sai centre on the topic “Desire” facilitated by Dr Mylvaganam. The theme of the study circle revolved around the core principles of Desire and Vaasanas; how to have a Ceiling on the Desires and most importantly how to change the materialistic desires to something positive- "the desire for Swami".

This was then followed by a “reading” around the basic principles of Buddhism prepared by Mallika and Lesley Liyanearachchi and read out by Ayeasha Parmar. The Warrington Sai centre was celebrating the Buddha Poornima on the day with the reading and understanding of the Eightfold Noble Path of Buddhism - the means to ending anguish and attaining Nirvana. The eight stages include Right Views; Right Intent; Right Speech; Right Conduct; Right Livelihood; Right Effort; Right Mindfulness; Right Concentration.

This was followed by Bhajans and Arathi. Prasad was served for lunch after which we started our Orientation Day for the active workers and office bearers of Region 5.

'The Mission of Sathya Sai - How to serve ably as His Instruments'

The Regional Orientation Day started with a discourse given by Bhagawan at the 3rd World Conference on 21st November 1980. Swami’s discourse delved on certain disciplines for all office bearers and the reason behind discipline and regulation in the Organisation.

Following a welcome address by Kailash, Regional Chair, all the office bearers joined together for the first workshop on the “Guidelines for the Organisation” facilitated by Sanja Vaja. The scenarios delved on issues including Universality of the Altar; Organising a Service Project and Financial issues in the Organisation. This led to active discussions with every member learning something from the workshop. The hall had a good mix of “experienced” and “new” office bearers which facilitated the learning by Swami`s grace.

This was followed by the release of the DVD of Professor Anil Kumar`s talk in Oldham in 2012. Bharathbhai from Oldham received the first copy from Kailash and Jaish (who did the recording). A copy of the DVD was given to each centre chair who attended the event.

After a short break, the next workshop started on “How to serve more ably as His instruments” which was beautifully facilitated by Regional youths Hannah and Supreetha. They reminded us on the quote:

"Be always aware that you are but Instruments, in My Divine Mission of Dharmasthapana: Revival of Righteousness. Try to be more and more efficient as such instruments. The hand that wields the instrument knows how and when it has to be applied." (Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. VII, Page 181).

The activities were structured to develop key skills which are used regularly in the Organisation by office bearers- Empathetic e-mail writing; Creative writing; Organising a Service project; Organising a Meeting and Devising a Workshop.

Printed folders containing the hard copies of the Guidelines for Organisation; duties of an office bearer; oath of the office-bearer and a brief summary of the Annual Report of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust were given to all Centre Chairs.

The event was attended by most of the office bearers in the Region with all the centres and groups represented on the day. Everyone left the venue feeling inspired with better understanding of their roles and responsibilities by Swami`s grace.

Sairam

Region 5 - Narayana Seva at Bradford

"If you lift the hand to serve, to help, to console, to encourage another man, you are lifting it for God, for God is in every man" Sathya Sai Baba

Bradford Curry Project is a multi-faith, multi-cultural charity in which all major faiths of Bradford work together to serve those in need. The mission is to provide free meal service for the homeless, poor and underprivileged people of Bradford.

By Swami’s grace, Lidget Green Sai Center along with Halifax and Leeds have joined hands with this organisation to feed the homeless on the 4th Saturday of every month until the end of the year.

Lidget Green Sai Center is immensely grateful to have had the opportunity to carry out the service for the month of May. Volunteers donned their aprons on Saturday evening to wash, chop and cook vegetarian curry for a group of up to 80 people.

Inspired by the Newcastle Sai Center to find jobs for the homeless, we printed out job opportunities that are available in Bradford and placed it on the counters along with the list of things available in the area for free. As one of the members of the Curry Project staff mentioned that this is a new activity, we hope and pray that this will change the lives of homeless and underprivileged for the better and will prove to be a permanent solution for all their problems.

Our Master tells us,

“Do not believe that you can, by means of selfless service, reform or reshape the world. You may or may not. That does not matter. The real value of Seva (selfless service), its most visible result, is that it reforms YOU, reshapes YOU.”

The joy one gets while promoting another’s joy is incomparable and we come to realize that the true measure of our lives is not how much we have gained for ourselves, but how much we have given. We thank Swami to have given us this opportunity to be His instruments.

Sairam
Supreetha
Lidget Green Sai Centre

Region 5 - Sri Sathya Sai Group in Liverpool

On the 12th of May we gathered together for the opening ceremony of Sri Sathya Sai Group in Liverpool. The meeting was quite short, but cozy and personal and everyone had a chance to interact in a close circle.

As usual, the event started with Vedam and bhajans.

Kailash greeted everyone and shared a lovely welcome speech. Opening a new Sai centre is like setting an appointment with Bhagawan. At the agreed time Swami will be there waiting for the love and songs of the devotees. So he requested the devotees to do all the tasks with great sincerity and devotion. He emphasized the importance of keeping Swami as the prime focus in each and every activity in the centre. He also elaborated on the purpose of the centre which is to facilitate devotees to realise their inherent divinity.

Next was a presentation by Milda about the activities of the youth in Europe. Milda shared her experiences with everyone on a seva project in Germany that she was part of last month. The youth in Germany are currently renovating an old complex of buildings in a beautiful remote location that will become home for the elderly and the needy. Milda helped them refurbish the place which will become a wonderful spiritual village that they have named as Hopri Nilayam.

The event wouldn't have been so special without our guest Brother Pawan Tamwada. He was a Sai student during his undergraduate and postgraduate studies and he had some wonderful thoughts and experiences to share. Pawan told the following story in the beginning of his speech:

"There was a magician, who at the same time was also a very rich man, a millionaire. He was a very successful person and he would achieve anything he wanted to. Once he decided to build a golden palace. He came to a pile of bricks and started convincing them to become a part of his golden palace. He told them how wonderful they were and that they were actually made of gold. Many bricks did not believe, because they could see that they were far from being made of gold. But some of them decided to try and be a part of the magician's idea. After all, he was the successful man and he must know what he is doing! With time a beautiful palace was complete. It was indeed golden and shining and each brick was so proud to be a part of this majestic building. Those who went into the rooms would come out transformed. Whilst those who came out of one room kept saying “I am Brahman”; someone else who went to another room kept saying “Tat Twam Asi”. Such was the golden magic palace."

Pawan concluded the story by saying that the magical palace is our Sai Organisation. Each room in the palace is a centre and it should be a place that transforms everyone who comes there. Hence the establishment of a new room in God's mansion is a really great event.
The speaker shared some amazing memories from the time of his studies and everyone was eager to listen for more. We got to know about Swami's love and His care for the students at all times.

The speaker told that he studied Economics for his undergraduate degree and decided to stay for the Master in Mathematics only because he wanted to stay close to Swami for longer. He shared a lovely experience which elicited the fact that if the yearning for Bhagawan is from the bottom of your heart, our prayer will be answered by Him for sure. He also shared lovely instances on how Swami still responds to his prayers even now and makes His presence felt.

Dr. Pawan is currently teaching at Aston University and by Swami's grace he is now moving to Southampton - bigger university, but smaller faculty - just what he himself requested from Baba.

The sathsang ended with more bhajans, Arathi and a lovely home-made cake. It was a very inspiring gathering and a wonderful opening of our new Sai centre in Liverpool.

Kind regards,
Milda

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