March 2012 Edition

Quote

The true secret of enjoyment lies in sacrifice. Sacrifice has also been declared to be the only means of achieving immortality. Giving up what is taken in is a law of life. It applies to breathing, food and other things. Likewise, the wealth which one acquires should also be given back to society. Wealth includes not only riches, but every other form of acquisition including knowledge, scholarship, and skills of various kinds. The knowledge you have acquired through education should be imparted to others. It is by such sharing that your education gets enriched and purposeful. If you do not impart the knowledge you possess, it becomes useless. This means that the more you give, the more you grow.

~ Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Events

National Sai Remembrance Day

National Easwaramma Day

National Gratitude Bhajans

Articles

Education Wing - SSEHV at Abbey Primary Community School in Leicester

Region 1 - Maha Shivarathri Celebrations

Region 2 - SSEHV Holiday Schools for 5 to 11 Year Olds

Region 3 - Ilford Sai Centre Shivaratri Celebration at St Peters and St Pauls Church

Region 3 - Regional Orientation & Welcome Day

Region 4 - Maha Shivaratri celebrations at Rugby Sai Centre

Region 4 - Regional Orientation & Welcome Day

Region 5 - Regional Orientation & Welcome Day

Region 6 - Farnborough Maha Shivaratri Celebrations

Region 6 - Grieving Parrots and Weeping Camels and more....

Region 7 - Maha Shivaratri Celebrations

Region 8 - Aberdeen Mahashivarathri Celebrations

Region 8 - Medicare For All

Service Wing - My Reflections on Service at the Sathya Sai School, Leicester

Youth Wing - Sathya Sai Leadership Training Programme (SSLTP) Induction Weekend, Marvell House - Hampshire

Editorial

Salvation through Sacrifice

Na Karmanah Na Prajaya Dhane Na Thyaage Naike Armruthathwa Maanasuhu
Not by work, Not by progeny, Not by wealth: Only by Sacrifice can Immortality be attained - Taitereya Upanishad

In many religions around the world there exists a belief that God is attained through sacrifice. Thus various practices such as offering donations, almsgiving, fasting, tonsures, and even animal sacrifices are observed. Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba teaches however that the only thing which we need to sacrifice is our ego. This includes our animal qualities, including greed, lust, anger, envy, pride and attachment. This preparatory stage of Self Sacrifice is essential prior to attaining Self Realisation (Salvation or Liberation or Immortality).

The sacred period of Lent, which is currently being observed for a period of forty days by many Christians around the world, focuses attention on such preparation necessary for spiritual aspirants- through prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving, and sacrifice. Lent is traditionally observed to remember the 40 days and nights Lord Jesus Christ spent praying alone in the Judean desert without food before the beginning of His public ministry.

Luke's Gospel (4:1,2) says: 'Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.'

These austerities and penance observed by Divine Personalities such as Lord Jesus serve as examples and high ideals for aspirants to follow. Jesus willingly sacrificed the desires with which the body torments us, that bind us to the erroneous body-identity which is the root cause of the evil tendencies (devil) within. He did not yield or compromise until He renounced these evil qualities including ‘ego’ which is the hardest thing to do! At the end of this spiritual 'struggle', his hunger for God, his thirst for God, his love for God increased greatly. Bhagawan Baba explains to us thus - ( Divine Discourse in Prasanthi Nilayam, 25th Dec 1982) -

'Christ announced himself as the Messenger of God. He identified His body as being given to him for alleviating human misery and serving the helpless and the homeless. He denied the demands of the flesh and devoted his skills and strength to relieve the agony and pain. Then when the consciousness rose to the level of the mind, He emerged with the awareness that He was the Son of God. He strove hard to discover the distinction between Appearance and Reality, between Truth and Mental Image, and He became aware of the higher level of consciousness which transcends the vagaries of the mind. From this peak of intelligence, He became aware that 'I and My Father are One'. And both are one single manifestation of the Divine Essence, the Holy Spirit.'

To resurrect love and compassion, for which Lord Jesus sacrificed his very life, progressing on the path of sacrificing lower impulses and attaining purity of heart is evidently of utmost importance. To be like the proverbial lamb - full of innocence, purity, and humility - and then offer such hearts in loving service to the Lord will indeed be the True Sacrifice. Let this period of Lent therefore be another sacred opportunity for this sincere prayer -

O Lord! Bless us with the gift of your Divine Love and the quality of loving everyone equally in our daily lives;

O Lord! Enable us to use our God-given bodies wholly in the service of God in our daily lives;

O Lord! Grant us that we do not succumb to praise or censure in carrying out your mission of Love in our daily lives.

Dr Veeru Rao
National Spiritual Coordinator




Education Wing - SSEHV at Abbey Primary Community School in Leicester

Abbey Primary Community School, which is in partnership with the Sri Sathya Sai School in Leicester, recently received an outstanding grade for its Ofsted Inspection. Twenty-nine areas were considered 'Outstanding' from the thirty-two required. The Sathya Sai Education in Human Values programme is fully embedded in the school ethos, and the inspectors themselves, were quoted as saying: 'the children of Abbey school are held together by the golden chain of human values.'

Hearing these words was music to my ears, and it brought tears to my eyes when I think of the extent to which our dear Swami helps us to achieve such results. It is Swami who brought an excellent head teacher - Tim Foster - to our school six years ago. He introduced the programme at our school, which was 54th in the league table then. It is now the 11th best school in Leicester. The Good Values Club, which is the beacon of the school, has now been introduced in four other schools in Leicester. The four schools display the same quotation of the week and have introduced silent sitting. With Swami's Grace more schools are interested and we will need more volunteers to help.

Dipak Kumar Fakey
SSEHV Good Values Club

Service Wing - My Reflections on Service at the Sathya Sai School, Leicester

"Service expresses the divinity hidden in man. It broadens one's heart, it destroys narrow-mindedness, and it gives delight. The evil qualities and tendencies in us can be driven away through service." ~ Baba

Every fortnight each region has a turn to carry out service at the Sathya Sai School in Leicester; this week (25th February 2012), it was Region 4’s opportunity to do this.

The activities started at 10am, and we were around eleven volunteers. A couple of us focused on the cleaning of the canteen area, and the rest of us initially helped to move 50 boxes from the store room down to the basement area - a task that required strength and above all, team spirit.

After the boxes were moved, we split into three teams. One team worked in the sports hall and the other two teams focused on the sweeping and mopping of the stairs on either side of the building.

Although the tasks seemingly appeared simple, they required a lot of organisational skills. For example, the team that was working in the canteen area first had to move all the tables and chairs on one side of the room before cleaning and mopping the floor. It was quite a fun experience with the floor buffer, which kept pulling them away in the opposite direction. This required a lot of patience and perseverance.

"Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish". ~ Baba

This was my second time providing service at the Sathya Sai School. Apart from meeting my fellow brothers and sisters from the region, I felt quite blessed to serve His institution. Focusing upon Swami all the time whilst doing the work, was a unique experience. I look forward to helping again in the near future.

"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". ~ Baba

Prashanth Premkumar
Region 4

Youth Wing - Sathya Sai Leadership Training Programme (SSLTP) Induction Weekend, Marvell House - Hampshire

"A house must be built on solid foundations if it is to last. The same principle applies to man, otherwise he too will sink back into the soft ground and becomes swallowed up by the world of illusion"

Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

The 2012/2013 cohorts for the Sathya Sai Leadership Training Programme met at the Marvell Activity Centre, in Hampshire, for a weekend induction. This commenced from the evening of Friday 17th February, through to the afternoon of Sunday 19th February. The group and the SSLTP Coordinating Committee were joined by the SSSSO UK National Chair, Dr. Kiran Patel, and National Youth Coordinator, Shyam Jamnadas.

This Induction Weekend was the first step towards the orientation and development of the cohorts’ leadership training. The weekend commenced with the SSLTP Coordinator, Deviesh Tankaria, highlighting the year ahead.

The weekend was largely focused on group interactive sessions, with discussions based around Bhagwan’s teachings, and current leaders and leadership theories. Saturday morning commenced with Subrabatham and morning meditation before an exercise in presentational skills and public speaking. The cohorts then had group discussions. One of the discussions was based on the Metropolitan Police Service and the impact of the Stephen Lawrence case. The groups analysed the findings of this case and discussed the wider impact as a result of the lack of leadership. Looking into the lessons learned from this case, the group then spent the rest of Saturday afternoon contemplating Bhagwan's Vision and Mission and the importance of values, with the evening session addressing practical ways to make Bhagwan's message our life message.

On Sunday morning, our SSSSO UK National Chair, Dr. Kiran Patel, addressed the group and shared some of his personal experiences with Bhagwan. Kiran uncle stressed that to be an effective leader, one must live by the core values as instructed by Bhagwan. Kiran uncle narrated some beautiful experiences and shared his vision for the UK Sathya Sai Organisation and the need for leaders. He explained that, by undertaking this Leadership Training Programme, the cohorts will be making, delivering and inspiring considerable and valuable changes for the benefit of SSSSO UK.

During the rest of Sunday, the cohorts received feedback on observations arising from activities undertaken over the weekend, before the conclusion of the programme late Sunday afternoon.

With Sai Love,

Deviesh Tankaria
Sathya Sai Leadership Training Programme Coordinator

Region 1 - Maha Shivarathri Celebrations

Shivarathri means an auspicious night. Every day, there is a rathri (night). But all nights cannot equal Shivarathri. Real Shivarathri is only that, where the divine name is contemplated upon and sung with devotion. That is the only auspicious night. Hence, cultivate noble feelings in your heart at least on this auspicious night. (Shivarathri discourse March 07, 2008)

On Monday 20th February, Maha Shivarathri was celebrated by Region 1 (hosted by Merton Sai Centre). The festivities commenced at 7pm and continued on throughout the night until 6am. The programme began with Vedam including Rudram, the chanting of Aum Sri Sai Lingeshwaraya Namah mantra 108 times, bhajans and musical renditions. Linga Abhishekam was also carried out at 9pm, 12am and 3am. At 5am, Omkaar and Suprabhatham were chanted, followed by bhajans which continued until Mangala Aarti and closing prayers at 6am.

The night was filled with mesmerising vibrations from the melodious bhajans and talented musicians from the Balvikas children, youth and adults. A strong sense of faith, unity, love and devotion for our Dear Divine Beloved Swami was eminent amongst all present. The hall was filled throughout the night with support from various centres across the region.

Swami says “Devotional singing (bhajans) is the process of singing that originates in the heart, not from the lips or the tongue. It is the expression of the joyous thrill that wells up from the heart when the Glory of God is remembered. It is the spontaneous manifestation of inner ecstasy. No attention is paid to the blame or praise that others may give. It does not seek the admiration or the appreciation of the listeners.” (SSS Vol X, p84)

Sister Verushka Naidoo
Merton Sai Centre

Region 2 - SSEHV Holiday Schools for 5 to 11 Year Olds

'Transforming Lives - Empowering Generations'

It is said “to teach is to touch a life forever” however, with the Sathya Sai Education in Human Values programme we do not just touch lives, we transform lives and empower generations. The Sathya Sai Education in Human Values programme is delivered via a one week Holiday School during the half term holidays for children between the ages of 5 to 11 in local primary school’s within Region 2.
Trained SSEHV teachers, Sai youth and volunteers all unite in their efforts to undertake the task of providing a safe and fun filled week of Human Values based activities for children. These Holiday Schools allow us to impart the teachings of Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s 5 universal Human Values: LOVE, TRUTH, PEACE, RIGHT CONDUCT and NON VIOLENCE; to children who may not know of our Divine Master but can surely benefit from his teachings.

Each Holiday School has approximately 50-60 children that attend. The children are put into classes according to their age for effective teaching and learning. They are given practical experiences throughout the week to learn first-hand the importance of practicing the 5 Human Values through activities such as SSEHV Classes, Silent Sitting, Group Singing, Values based board games, Stories, Drama, Art, Yoga, Sports and Choi Kwang Do (Martial Arts).

During the week many heart to heart conversations are shared between children, teachers and volunteers either in class discussions or in the playground. These heart to heart conversations create within the schools an atmosphere of love, peace and trust. As the days go by a gradual heightened energy of bliss permeates the schools and this is seen by the big smiles on everyone’s faces be it the children, volunteers, teachers and even the parents when they come to collect their children.

The last afternoon of the week usually ends with the whole school participating in an orientation activity which is similar to a treasure hunt but instead we are hunting using the values and finding words which make up a quote about the values. Through the orientation activity the children are given the opportunity to put into practice what they have learnt throughout the week. This activity fosters many good character qualities such as self discipline, leadership skills, co-operation, unity in thought, word and deed and a willingness to be of service to others.

The last day of our Holiday School ends with a school assembly prepared by the children and teachers. The parent’s are invited to see and hear what their children have understood, experienced and achieved by practicing the 5 Human Values. The feedback from parents has always been encouraging and they often share positive changes that they have observed in their children after attending the SSEHV Holiday School.

Here are just a few testimonials from the parents:

"Cameron really enjoyed this programme. He has learnt to be less moody and kinder to his younger siblings. Excellent results and I would highly recommend the School (Wembley Primary School) gets involved in this programme for further sessions."

"I think this holiday school programme is a very good idea for educating our children with Human Values. It will help them make the right choice not only in childhood but also in adulthood. My daughter has very much enjoyed her week at the holiday school and has done lots of things she has never done before and it has brought out her confidence as well. My daughter would like to attend this Holiday School again. I would like to see this programme in my child’s school on a more permanent basis."

"I am very happy with the way my son understood things. Even if we as parents talk and explain, it’s a different thing when children learn outside the house. My son made dinner for me after learning about love, which showed me he understood the deeper meaning. Keep going please you are doing a great job! Thank you."

Although the SSEHV Holiday Schools are intended for the children who attend them, the impact is seen to benefit their schools, families and friends. Teachers and volunteers of the SSEHV Holiday Schools are also given an opportunity to reassess whether they are good exemplars of the 5 universal Human Values. Even after a 40 hour energy demanding week the teachers and volunteers all look forward to when the next Holiday School will take place. With the grace of our dear Lord Sathya Sai Baba the SSEHV Holiday School team are organising another Holiday School for July 2012 within Region 2. If you would like to be a volunteer please contact Mr Keith Banfield: keithbanfield@btinternet.com

"Education is the means of unfolding the moral and spiritual potentialities of man" - Sathya Sai Baba

Article submitted by Sister Chetna Mistry
Centre Chair for Sai Centre Wembley

Region 3 - Ilford Sai Centre Shivaratri Celebration at St Peters and St Pauls Church

25th February 2012

More than 100 ardent devotees from Ilford Sai centre and Walthamstow Sai centre gathered on this auspicious occasion at this holy venue at St Peters and St Pauls church hall to celebrate Shivaratri.

Within minutes the venue was transformed from an empty hall to a wonderful ‘Mandir’ with Baba’s picture adorning the centre of the Altar. The program started with universal prayers, Vedam chanting and Shiva mantras where the nursery SSE students offered flowers to the glorious Shiva murthi on the altar.

An enlightening discourse was read by one of the Group 2 SSE student Derran followed by a Bharat Nathyam dance 'Natesha Kauthavam' praising Lord Shiva by a young SSE student Sai Neema Vanam.

This was followed by a musical offering and devotional songs by the Ilford Centre Musicians and Choir group after endless practices which were truly inspirational. A wonderful power point presentation of the bhajans and energising Holy Scriptures accompanied the sweet sounds in the mandir which proved to be the food of love.

The programme continued with uplifting and beautiful devotional songs by both centres. The Youth from Ilford and Walthamstow Sai Centres created a true vibration which energised all the devotees.

Unisons Bhajans was followed by Aarthi and 'Thought of the day'.
This was a truly moving evening which touched hearts and souls of everyone present and left a loving smile on everyone’s face. Sai centres working together as one, shows great unity and total success in performing Swami’s teachings.

Submitted by Sheila Ring
Spiritual Convenor, Ilford Sai Centre
5-03-2012

Region 3 - Regional Orientation & Welcome Day

The Region 3 Orientation and Welcome Day took place on Sunday 26th February 2012 and was hosted by Mill Hill Sai Centre, St Andrew’s School, Totteridge. The day was attended by over 100 office bearers, active workers and devotees.

We were fortunate to have the following members of the UKCC attend and facilitate on the day: Brother Veeru Rao (National Spiritual Coordinator), Sister Vidyu Narayan (National SSE Coordinator), Brother Jamie Raju (National Vice Chair) and Brother Kumi Pillay (Region 7 Chair).

The day began with a welcome address from the Regional Chair which was followed by a talk from Brother Jamie Raju on the Divine Vision and Mission. Brother Jamie really set the scene for the rest of the programme by refocusing our minds on Bhagawan’s Mission and our roles as devotees in the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation.

The two workshops entitled ‘Heart to Heart’ followed this. Each workshop was conducted by members of the UKCC and a team of facilitators. They focused on really getting to the issues at the heart of Sai Centres and looking at practical ways in which we can approach these. The focus of the workshops was bringing about change through personal transformation. Devotees had the opportunity to get really in touch with Swami’s teachings through exploring His discourses, understanding the messages in them, trying to understand how they can be applied to the self and how they can help us to grow spiritually. These interactive sessions were enjoyed by all and there were requests for further similar workshops in the future.

After a delicious (and ample) lunch provided by the ladies of Mill Hill Sai Centre, we began the afternoon session of the programme. Each member of the Region 3 team presented his or her ideas and Wing plans for the year to come. There were presentations from the Youth, Ladies, SSE, Medical, R3 SSE School, Spiritual and Service Wings.

Thereafter, an informative session came, entitled ‘Echoes from the Centres’. Centre Chairs, or their representatives, presented brief talks on the good work that took place over the past year. It really was an opportunity for attendees to learn of these various projects, as well as appreciate the dedication and commitment of devotees. This item really provided food for thought for many devotees and office bearers alike!

The final item in the programme was by the guest speaker, Dr. Upadhyay. Listening to his excellent speech, it soon became clear that Dr Upadhyay was genuinely inspired by what he had heard that afternoon and chose to honour the Sai in each one of us, by congratulating everyone on the good work that had been carried out to date. It was a very gracious and encouraging speech - a perfect conclusion to the day's programme. Vibrant bhajans (group devotional singing) ensued, with the final two bhajans being led by an audio-visual of Swami Himself. This was immediately followed by the Aarti. The day had many take-home messages and succeeded in uplifting and inspiring the devotees in Region 3.

By Sutopa Sen and Mali Almeida

Region 4 - Maha Shivaratri celebrations at Rugby Sai Centre

A wonderful evening of Maha Shivaratri started with centre members arriving early and eager to set up the hall. Shades of blues and lemons cascaded from the huge photo of Lord Shiva and our Dear Swami. Garlands seemed almost swinging with glee as the candles were lit at 6.25pm.

The commencement of the programme with three thunderous Omkars, followed by the Gayatri Mantra and the linking of the Shiva Gayatri and Rudram sent out ripples of vibrations to charge our “Spiritual Batteries”!

The Abhishek of Lingam with continuous recitation of Lingastakam was completed when all our young SSE children came in turn with their parents to take part in the puja. Their disciplined eagerness was very visible and a great lesson for all to learn.

Following the Lingam Puja, all the SSE children had prepared readings emphasising the meaning of Shivaratri with exemplary stories of devotion to Lord Shiva and the importance of why we observe this day. This was delivered beautifully by all our children.

Group devotional singing commenced with many Shiva Bhajans that were made vibrant with the accompaniment of tabla and percussion instruments and, of course, the glorious and loving voices of our young ones!

The whole session peaked to a high crescendo of Shiva Vibrations… One can only imagine Lord Shiva doing the cosmic Tandav dance on Mount Kailash.

The beautiful session finished with meditation for all to experience. The spiritual vibrations gathered in the hall which broke into Asato Maa Saad Gamaya followed by the universal prayer and the Maha Araati that took us all to Prashanti in the presence of our Lord Shiv Sai.

Everyone dispersed taking with them the Maha Prasadam of Bhang and blessings from the lotus feet of Bhagwan.

Savita
Rugby Sai Centre

Region 4 - Regional Orientation & Welcome Day

The Regional Orientation Day was held on Sunday 26th February, a beautiful, sunny winter’s day. Region 4 held its gathering at Soar Valley Community College, Leicester. The aim was to get together, focus ourselves and discuss plans announced at the National Orientation Day. The orientation was to concentrate our energies in the various wings of the Organisation and to do our very best for the devotees, centres and most importantly Bhagawan for this year, 2012.

The day started off with our new National Chair, Kiran Patel, welcoming the Region’s coordinators and devotees and reminding us of the importance of such gatherings and the need to have a clear focus for the present and the future of the Organisation. He also spoke of the importance of being one with Swami and having unity in the Organisation and in the Centres and Groups.

Workshops took place in the morning, entitled 'Heart to Heart': Workshops involved role plays and Bhagawan’s discourses. We discussed what is spirituality and the importance of being loving and spreading love in all we do and everywhere we go. The sisters enacted role plays to make the meaning of the messages clearer. We found it was important not to have ego, to remain humble and to remember Bhagawan is the doer and we are merely His instruments. We decided that acceptance of others and appreciating others’ views without judgement were also vital in our spiritual journeys. We could focus our energies on Love instead of money, on balance instead of hierarchy.

We were reminded of the quote WATCH: Watch our Words, Watch our Actions, Watch our Thoughts, Watch our Character and Watch our Heart. The synchronicity of this quote arose from its being the thought for the day on my calendar that morning.

Another Sai quote which struck me was, 'Love is my form, and so is yours.'

A further lesson was that we must have 100% involvement and 0% attachment; we must give up the outcome we desire and do our tasks with love and dedication to Bhagawan.

2012 - Year of Illumination

We gathered after a tasty lunch generously made and served by the ladies in the Service Wing. Afternoon commenced looking at, the aims of the Centres. The main aim being to enhance ‘spiritual ambience’ in all Centres. Importance was also placed on the Centres having God Centeredness.

Devotees - Centre - Local Community

We are to refocus our minds on our roles in the Organisation and the Centres. Universal prayer sessions, study circles and meditation are to be implanted in the Centres. Tree planting, multi-faith days and music programmes are on the spiritual agenda for this year. Service activities with which everyone can get involved; are blood donation, the "Bridge project" (in which the youth and adults have joined with a local church to provide an invaluable service for local homeless people), spreading love with music and serving the elderly and other people in need.

An invoking panel discussion enthused the atmosphere and answered devotees’ questions.This led us into the Wing meetings.

The day concluded with bhajans (group devotional singing) and Aarti. A thoroughly thought-provoking day, for either a coordinator or a Centre attendee. I certainly was inspired and it refocused my energy and vision for my Centre for 2012.

Lovingly in Sai Service, Jai Sai Ram
Lianne Bruce
Vice Spiritual Coordinator
Narborough Sai Centre

Region 5 - Regional Orientation & Welcome Day

Om Sri Sai Ram

Our humble pranams at the lotus feet of our dear Lord Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

I hope and pray that the divine vibrations from this event are reflected to the eyes of all who read this article and, in turn, those divine eyes reflect these vibrations all around. A ‘luminous’ first regional event for the Leeds centre who hosted this event.

Kailash Venkat, Our Region V chair welcomed the gathering and introduced the Council members to the Region V Sai family. An introduction by the National Vice Chair, on the Divine Vision and Mission set everyone’s sights and hopes high to move forward together in this year’s theme of ‘Illumination’.

The rest of the morning was filled by focused interactive workshops which helped to awaken our own visions as instruments of or dear Sai. This was very much values-based, as always, and the simplicity of Bhagawan’s teachings was once more the spine for these workshops.

We were given royal treatment by the Leeds group in the dining hall who served tasty dishes at our tables. We were welcomed back after lunch with a wonderful video of Swami which kindled our emotions, reminding us of our experiences with his Divine form.

The Wing coordinators from the region shared their plans for the next year. Kailash presented a brief idea about the future plans of the spiritual wing. Mansukh (Regional Service Coordinator) shared valuable, loving and practical ways to reach out to society as instruments of the Divine mission and with His Will, any project is possible- we need to work with this enthusiasm. Nishal (Regional Youth Coordinator) talked about 3 key objectives for the youth wing this year:

  1. A regular themed Regional youth event.
  2. To use our enthusiasm and skills to reach out and serve the wider community with love.
  3. To hold a Regional and National youth sathsang which will create the spirit of love and unity with all the youth across the country.

This was followed by a wonderful reminder of the importance of Bal Vikas and the need to ensure further involvement in this subject which is very close to Swami’s heart. All left with ‘food for thought’ as to how each can be better instruments of His work at the crucial period of His mission. We enjoyed for a few minutes, a video presentation of various service activities of the region. The event closed with Bhajans (beautiful as always) and Aarthi.

Jai Sai Ram

Region 6 - Farnborough Maha Shivaratri Celebrations

Farnborough Sai Centre observed Maha Shivaratri Celebration in a joyous way on Monday, 20th February 2012 at Tamu Nepalese Community Hall in Mytchett. The programme was scheduled in two phases, from 7.30pm-9.30pm and 11pm-12midnight. About 160 local devotees along with some devotees from different centres and places attended the special bhajans. Former Regional Chair Bahnoon did welcome speech with 3 oms and Gayatri mantra.

After finishing first phase aarati, devotees had an opportunity to offer Panchamrit (Milk) and bilva leaves to the shiva lingam before mahaprasad distribution.

Farnborough Sai Centre presently runs Val Bikas in the local area twice a month. Val Bikas children sang Ganesha bhajan beautifully.

Laksharchana date was announced which is going to be held on Friday, 10th August 2012 by Vadgama Uncle.

Region 6 - Grieving Parrots and Weeping Camels and more....

“Manana (deep contemplation) will confirm the fact of God being in every living being, bird, beast, tree and when this awareness is established, you will not be tempted to hate or ridicule or envy any other living being in creation. For you are he and he is you, fundamentally. Until you come to this stage, you are only a partial devotee, still a long way to go”. Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 10, chapter 12.

Thanks in part to Descartes, the 17th century philosopher, who proclaimed that animals were mere automatons (with dire consequences for many animals ever since then), for a long time, the so-called scientific mind has held that animals cannot be proved to have thoughts or feelings – they cannot express them as we do – and to attribute emotions to animals amounts to anthropomorphism – a very unscientific attitude to be thoroughly scorned and despised. This has closed the hearts of many and blinded them to the actual facts as they are, that animals do have feelings just as we do and deserve them to be recognised. It has lead to an insensitive and often callous attitude which has allowed all kinds of ‘legitimate’ horrors to be perpetrated on the animal kingdom. Luckily, the tide is at last beginning to turn………and this attitude is slowly changing because scientists of animal behaviour are very much finding otherwise. They are now acknowledging what many humans who have interacted with the animal kingdom have intuitively known all along through their own observation and experience. They are finding that animals have rich emotional lives and are capable of more complex thought processes than hitherto realised.

Parrots, for example, may have walnut sized brains but they are not actually birdbrained and have demonstrated unsuspected and remarkable cognitive abilities. Recent research has shown that some can also use the language they learn at appropriate moments and not just randomly, showing much more understanding than previously thought. I know of a good example of that when my mother’s parrot screeched out some rude words in Greek when a particularly tedious and draining acquaintance was visiting and complaining long and loudly. It did the trick in that the neighbour, on hearing the parrot ‘s words, jumped up in high dudgeon, gathered up her belongings and flounced out of the house, never to come back, saying she had never been spoken to like that before in her whole life. A zookeper once told me that parrots are very particular about whom they mate with. He explained that he had great difficulty in finding Mr or Miss Right for the parrots he looked after because they were extremely fussy and had to feel a real affinity with any prospective partner. As we know they are monogamous, as are swans and some other animals, and this seems to apply not just to their parrot mates but also to the humans with whom they bond. They become very attached. My mother’s own parrot literally died of a broken heart when her family had to emigrate and leave him in someone else’s care. He was my mother’s darling and when abandoned by his human flock, he refused to eat from that day on. Such was his grief that he just pined away and soon died. However, good news on that front has recently come to light …………….

Now onto the subject of weeping animals: As some people may already know, elephants have been known to shed tears in times of pain, stress and distress. A famous true story tells of one Sadie, a timid young female circus elephant in the Robbins Brothers Circus in Missouri, America. She simply could not understand how to do her tricks no matter how hard she tried. Not understanding what was required of her, she finally gave up and tried to escape by running out of the ring. At this, her trainers (the methods of circus trainers have now been exposed to be very cruel) brought her back and punished her. She immediately sank to her knees, then lay down on the ground and with tears pouring from her eyes, great sobs shook her huge body – she was crying like a human being and her trainers just stood there dumbfounded. Other reports exist of elephants crying in different situations, sometimes when they have been captured and separated from their families, sometimes in the throes of being shot and killed as well as on other occasions.

There is a report from the Chemical Defence Establishment at Porton Down which conducts warfare experiments of various kinds on animals, for various reasons and secretly of course. What goes on there reminds me of the words of the Lord Bishop of Manchester “ I have heard it said once and the saying has haunted me ever since – that if animals believed in the devil, he would look remarkably like a human being”. The following is written by an electrician who happened to be contracted to work there and this is what he found when he inadvertently opened the wrong door: “At first I thought I was ill. I thought I was seeing things, and then I went a little nearer and looked. It was a little monkey enclosed in a glass case… its eyes seemed to be falling out and it couldn’t breathe. It was in dreadful, dreadful distress. I forgot everything and went near it and said something to it and it buried its head in its arms and sobbed like a child. I never slept that night and next day, I managed to go back to the same room, but it was nearly finished by then. It had sunk to a little heap at the bottom of the glass cage”.

Dr Christian Barnard, the pioneering heart transplant surgeon, and one notorious for doing multitudes of animal experiments, most of them thought to be useless, talks about two male chimps whom he used. He had bought them from a primate colony in Holland. They lived in adjacent cages and when he took one away to become a heart donor he said, “When we put him to sleep in preparation for the operation, he chattered and cried incessantly. We attached no significance to this but it must have made a great impression on his companion, for when we removed the body to the operating room, the other chimp wept bitterly and was inconsolable for days. The incident made a deep impression on me. I vowed never again to experiment with such sensitive creatures”. Sadly, however, thousands of primates of different kinds are still used in laboratory experiments. Many of these undergo the additional trauma of being brutally captured in their native habitat, torn away from their families and transported to laboratories all over the world.

Seals too have been seen to weep witnessing seals cubs being clubbed by seal hunters.

A documentary made in Mongolia called The Story of the Weeping Camel, tells us the moving story of a baby camel and her mother who also shed tears when healing took place and the bond of love between mother and child was restored, thanks to her human carers (Nomadic Mongols). Their care and sensitivity in bringing healing to the couple was exemplary and deeply impressive. (The film can be seen on You Tube).

How can we help? By teaching our children to think thoughtfully and sensitively about the animal souls around them, to learn to care for them when possible and be sensitive to their needs. This does not mean, however, jumping in where angels fear to tread and exposing them to hungry polar bears, jumping into a bear’s den or hugging lions, for example.

By buying cruelty-free products whenever we can. Most companies test their products on animals – and nearly every single everyday product is or has been tested. Make no mistake about it: these tests cause a great deal of horrendous suffering leading to eventual death. They are not “just a pinprick”. Look for the Jumping Bunny Logo on the back of a product to be sure it is really cruelty-free and send up to Naturewatch for a cruelty free shopping booklet. Uncaged also provide information on this online. In that way, not only will we be helping bring an end to this cruel and unnecessary practice, but we will also be supporting ethical and compassionate businesses who are a prototype for a better future and need our help to grow and thrive. Moreover, as spiritual aspirants and Sai Baba’s torchbearers, we will be walking our talk even in the most mundane areas of daily living.

"There is only one royal road for the spiritual journey…………LOVE, love, love for all beings as manifestations of the same divinity that is the very core of oneself". ~ Sathya Sai Baba

Region 7 - Maha Shivaratri Celebrations

The most auspicious night of Mahashivarathri was observed on Monday, 20th February 2012, at the Gandhiji Hall, Bristol.

The evening commenced with the uplifting chants of Rudram whilst an Abishekam was offered to the lingam. This was followed by the singing of Lingashtakam as devotees had the opportunity to offer flowers and their prostrations to the Lingam.

This offering was followed by an extract from Bhagawan’s Divine Discourse given on Mahashivarathri night 2004, in which He gave the following Divine assurance after a Golden Lingam emerged from His mouth:

"Dear children! I will protect you wherever you are. I am utilising all my time for your sake. My only aim is to see that you are always happy. No danger will ever befall this body. Be assured of this. Always remember God, wherever you are. Whatever work you may undertake, consider that as Swami's work. I will always look after your welfare. In fact, even your parents may not be able to understand and appreciate your feelings as well as I do".

A vibrant session of devotional singing sanctified and energised the atmosphere, allowing all those gathered to experience immense joy and focus on our Beloved Lord.

Mahendra Patel
Regional Spiritual Co-ordinator

Region 8 - Aberdeen Mahashivarathri Celebrations

Mahashivarathri was celebrated in Aberdeen in collaboration with the Aberdeen Hindu Association (AHA) on 20th February at the Best Western Hotel.

Preparations included bhajan practice, mantra chanting with the devotees/members of the AHA. The programme commenced at 6.30 pm with Vedic chanting - Namakam/Chamakam - followed by Shiva Pooja. Children from both the Sai Organisation and the AHA chanted Shivopaasana Mantra. This was followed by Bhajans/Lingaashtakam. There were equal numbers of participants from both organisations.

One member from the AHA, Dr. Senthil, spoke on the significance of Mahashivarathri. The programme concluded with Aarthi. The programme was well attended with over 100 devotees.

Region 8 - Medicare For All

Medicare initiatives from Scotland
Serve our people, our society, our nation

Following the first initiative on Medical education for doctors attending Overseas Medical camp, the second lecture was held at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary on 18th February 2012. Dr. Pradeep Kumar, Consultant Rheumatologist presented on 'Rheumatology in Indian Practice'.

The programme commenced with a short quiz followed by a lecture on common rheumatological disorders encountered in Indian society. Osteoprorosis, Osteoarthritis, Infective arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis were addressed.

Patient Education: Dr Kumar highlighted the importance of exposure to sunlight and recommended daily exposure for at least 10 minutes as it is one of the most important sources of Vitamin D. With many people in India living in apartments, adults and children are getting less exposure to sunlight which in turn reduces the formation of vitamin D, in turn predisposing patients to arthritis/rickets.

Medical Education: Dr Kumar further educated the medics on different aspects of Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis and Rheumatoid arthritis, highlighted salient features of each of these disorders and a simple approach in identifying them in a rural setting. He laid out simple treatment plans for the management for the above conditions.

10 doctors attended this session. They were Consultants and Associate specialists from various specialities including ENT, Gastroenterology, Ophthalmology and Psychiatry.

Sai Ram
Region 8

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