March 2014 Edition

Quote

Active workers engaged in service should realise that there is nothing greater than service and seek to promote love of God, fear of sin, and Righteousness in society as the highest values to be cherished by all. Indeed, if there is love of God, automatically there will be fear of sin, and when these two are there, morality follows as a natural sequence. Sangha Neethi (social morality) is like a beacon for mankind. Everyone should develop love of God and take up service. Prema and Seva (Love and service) are like two eyes for a human being or the two wings for a bird. One who has no love for his fellowmen is like a blind man. There should be no pretence in manifesting love. It should be based on the condition that the Divine is present in everyone. When love is sincere, one will experience real peace and joy. Regard Me as an illustration of this truth. I have love for all, even for those who are bad. I have greater love for those who deride Me I draw them nearer to Me. I derive great joy from this. Hence My life is My message. With Me, it is always Thyaga (sacrifice and giving), not Bhoga (enjoyment). Sacrifice itself is enjoyment for Me. All active workers should excel in. sacrifice and dedication. Discourse in the Poornachandra Auditorium on 21-11-1987.

~ Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Events

Philippines Disaster Relief Medical Camp

News

Advisory Note to Devotees

Articles

International Disaster Relief Report

National Wing Meeting: A Summary

Prof. M Nanjundaiah: Our Special Guest in UK

Region 1 - Maha Shivarathri Celebrations

Region 1 - Young Adults Programme: Meditation & Prayer

Region 2 - Maha Shivarathri Celebrations

Region 2 - Shivarathri Celebrations at Harrow West Sai Centre

Region 2 - Uncle Fize Mohammed’s speech at Harrow West Sai Centre

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

Region 4 - Coventry Sai Centre: Food Bank Service

Region 5 - Shivarathri Celebrations

Region 6 - Laksharchana Held by Farnborough Sai Centre to Celebrate Shivrathri

Region 6 - SSE Basic Training and Awareness Day

Region 6 - You Take One Step...

Sathya Sai Leadership Training Programme: The Next Phase

SITA Team

UK Flood Relief

Editorial

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

For all us in UK, February has been a great month for Prayer and Service. Sai devotees across the country and around the world, as well as millions of Hindus, celebrated Maha Shivarathri, the auspicious night of Lord Shiva, with fervor and sincere devotion. Hundreds of devotees immersed themselves in festivities of the holy night with special rituals, chants and bhajans, with many centres having held a night-long vigil singing the Divine name and reminiscing God’s Glory. With the air full of divine energy, one felt transported to the heavenly abode of our Master, Prasanthi Nilayam, where millions were blessed over the past many years to witness creations of the Lingam, the symbol of divinity and unity.

February was also the month when, for the first time, our sacred organisation participated in the Flood Relief Efforts in UK. Parts of UK were experiencing the worst weather conditions ever seen in recent memory and several parts of southern England and Wales were flooded. In response to an appeal from our organisation, devotees from around the country rallied to the call with spontaneity, enthusiasm, and a sense of kinship and made generous donations of essential items. To date, 3 deliveries of these items have been made in these areas. By the Divine Grace of our Lord, a Sathya Sai Emergency Relief (SERV) Committee has now been formed to help coordinate similar efforts from our organisation in the future.

Against this backdrop, the month also saw various initiatives taken to enhance and strengthen the activities of the Sathya Sai Organisation in the UK. A review meeting of the SITA (Sai Information, Technology & Arts) team explored ways to standardise various aspects of audiovisuals and media activities undertaken within the organisation. A new Steering Committee has been formed to coordinate the Sathya Sai Leadership Training Programme (SSLTP) with a view to support the development of leaders for the divine mission of our Lord, especially at all levels of SSSSO UK. The national wings meeting of all Centre and Group wing coordinators has been conducted recently for a deeper understanding of their roles in the Divine Mission and for leading programmes effectively to reflect His Work.

Finally, be on the lookout for registration for our forthcoming national events: Sathya Sai Human Values Day (26Apr14) and National Easwaramma Day (03May14).

Kiran Patel,
Chair, UK Central Council

Advisory Note to Devotees

National Wing News

Dear members of the Sai Family,

Please be advised about individuals who approach Sai Centres and Sai devotees in UK with one or more of the following claims:

  1. Those who claim to provide healing or counselling therapy in the name of Bhagawan Baba and then charge a fee for their services (sometimes upto £500 for online therapy). Such individuals should be strongly discouraged.
  2. Those who claim that they have been given powers by Bhagawan Baba and materialise items such as Siva lingams, vibhuti etc. Be assured, Baba doesn’t need a medium. Baba is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. Devotees must keep such individuals at a distance and not entertain them.
  3. Those who claim Bhagawan Baba appears in their dreams and gives them instruction, or gives them messages to be passed on to specific individuals. Some of these individuals have started Trusts after Bhagawan’s Mahasamadhi and go around collecting funds for projects in His Name. Please beware of such individuals.

It may be worthwhile to remember what Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Himself has said about such activities.

"There are some who extol others for the absurd reason that Sai Baba speaks through them! How silly? It is all drama which cheats sick minds. Do not fall a prey to these. That is why I say, keep your devotion within yourself, under control, and not be led away by crooks and self-seekers. These lead you astray by giving you a wrong idea of the Lord's manifestation. They befoul the faith that their brothers and sisters repose in God."
Excerpts from Discourse at Prashanti Nilayam on October 15, 1964

"Talking of faith, I must issue a warning. Many people are collecting money in various places using My Name for various purposes like arranging receptions, building temples, doing Puja, etc. That is unauthorised and against My wish and command. Do not yield to such requests and encourage this practice, which I condemn.”
“There is another set of people who trade on your faith. They advertise that I am 'talking' through a medium or some other thing. Treat all such people and their agents or brokers as you treat cheats; if you do not treat them so, then you are also accomplices in the cheating process.”
“There are others who gather groups of followers and admirers and collect money .They even declare "Baba sent me to you to take from you some money" or "Baba has given me this" or "Baba blessed me specially thus and thus" and then ask for your help or your praise or your purse! I ask you to chastise all these types of men and turn them away, whoever"
Excerpts from Discourse on November 25, 1962 at Prasanthi Nilayam

"People say 'Baba appeared to me in a dream and commanded me to do this and that, to you, to collect so much from you etc., etc. Do not give heed to such cheats; punish them in the way they deserve. That is the advice I have to give you"
"Do not believe if any one comes to you and declares, "Sathya Sai Baba came to me in my dream and commissioned me to do publicity for him. Please help me as far as you can". I do not commission any one for such work, either in dream or while he is awake. Such men are cheats; treat them as such, without mercy”
Excerpts from Discourse on March 26, 1965 at Kakinada

International Disaster Relief Report

I would like to thank the members of the Council, the Trust and our dearest devotees for the generous support given to the victims of Uttarakhand and the Philippines disaster.

As you all know, there is an International Disaster Relief Committee operating within the Prashanthi Council, under the chairmanship of Dr Narendranath Reddy. The Sai Organisation is actively involved in both these disaster areas.

In Uttarakhand, the Sathya Sai Organisation of India, under the guidance of the National President Shri V Srinivasan, started relief work immediately. Please click on the link below for a detailed Report regarding activities in Uttarakhand:

http://media.radiosai.org/journals/vol_11/01SEPT13/Sai-Organisation-Committed-to-the-Uttarakhand-Relief-Project.htm

In Philippines, the International Sri Sathya Sai Organisation has taken the task of providing relief work without any delay. In both these areas, as per Swami’s guidelines, service is divided into:

  1. Immediate relief work to make provisions for water, food, communication, blankets etc (in Uttarakhand due to loss of communication Sai Organisation has immediately provided cell phones and solar lamps).

  2. Long term sustained projects – shelter and looking after children who have lost their families. Long before the disaster, in His mercy and with His Grace the Sathya Sai School was started in Rishikesh. This school is the first to take these children in their care, and other schools in India will also provide similar facilities. There are also plans for long term relief work in all three areas namely – Medicare, Educare and sociocare

Similarly in the Philippines an advance Reconnaissance team had visited in January 2014 to see the requirements and to facilitate long term projects/works. They had several meetings with the government and social organisations and have identified activities for the Sathya Sai International Organisation in the fields of Educare, Sociocare and Medicare. Since then, an activity base called ‘Sai Home’ has been established in Tacloban city and a Sai Reconstruction Team Coordinator (SRTC) has been appointed to coordinate all activities from this base at all times. In February, medical camps have been conducted in the Barangays (districts) of Nuangan, Biliran, Calungpang and Atipolo. Each camp treated about 350-400 patients daily and were very well received by the local population. One dental camp too has been held in this remote island.

School Reconstruction and Repair work has been started in Canduhag and Nuangan Barangays near Tacloban and Ormoc cities respectively. Water purification and storage activities are underway too at these schools which would benefit the neighbourhood populace as well. Please click the link for more information http://www.sathyasaihumanitarianrelief.org.

Camp in Atipolo

Camp in Biliran

As it always happens after sometime, most organisations leave and in some areas a vacuum for support is created. This is being witnessed in Philippines too, but the Sai Organisation is known for its continuous and long term support. It is few years since the Haiti earthquake but only a few weeks ago the Prashanthi Council has sent a large donation to continue support and volunteers still visit these areas. As Swami always says ‘Support should be devotional and not emotional’. I am sure you are all aware that Swami has always inspired people to be ready and prepared for challenges and long term support.

The UK Sai Organisation has always been one of the forces which has derived the blessings from our Ultimate Source, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, to put their Love into Action and provide volunteers, medics and generous financial support. The UK organisation has been given another opportunity to conduct a medical camp in Philippines in the first week of April, for which we need GPs, dentists and Paediatricians. Council Chairman Dr. Kiran Patel has already informed you through our Love& Light magazine last month. Time is short but we do not want to miss this great opportunity so please come forward and be Swami’s instrument.

I pray to Swami to shower His choicest blessings on everyone to be united in His love and be ready for His call to rise for the occasion.

Dr Surendra Upadhyay
Member of International Disaster Relief Committee
Co-Director Prashanti Medical Council

National Wing Meeting: A Summary

Held on Sunday 9th March 2014

Following the National Sathya Sai Orientation Conference in January this year, when the 4 National Wings discussed and announced the various programmes for the year, around 120 Wing Coordinators from across the country met again on the 9th of March to review the progress and finalise their plans. This face to face meeting took place in the familiar surroundings of South Oxhey, Watford. The theme of the year - ‘One with Sai: His Words and His Work’ was reinforced and the understanding that transformation of our hearts, through following His Teachings (His Words) and participating in the activities of the Organisation (His Work), is the only way to experience the bliss of Oneness, was deepened.

The day started with ‘sunny’ bhajans, and yes, we had a rare sunny day after the persistent bad weather recently. Bhajans were followed by a warm welcome from Dr Kiran Patel, Chairperson UKCC. Ketan Gokani, coordinator of the recently formed Sathya Sai Emergency Relief (SERV) Committee in UK, gave a presentation on the Flood Relief efforts undertaken by our Organisation; whilst it was moving to hear about the hardships that people faced in the flood affected areas, it was heartwarming to hear about the overwhelming response from fellow devotees across the country to the Flood Relief appeal made by our Organisation. Thus enthused, the coordinators of the 4 Wings then started their respective meetings in great earnest. A summary of the Wing Meetings is presented below.

The day was particularly unique and inspiring as it brought together all the four wings of the organisation together, providing members with a broader perspective and understanding of the Divine Mission and roles of each of the wings in it. The setting also provided an opportunity for wing coordinators from the different centres to engage with each other and exchange valuable ideas. It also offered members the opportunity to have a say in the objectives of the year and plans to accomplish them, thereby enhancing participation in activities. Members of the UK Central Council participated in the various wing sessions during different times of the day, to express and extend their support.

The day ended with updates from each of the wing deliberations followed by closing comments from UKCC Vice Chair, Dr Veeru Rao.

National Spiritual Wing

The first spiritual wing meeting of the year after the NSSOC, was indeed a special one. For the first time, not only the Regional Coordinators but also the Centre Coordinators were invited to join this meeting. And, needless to say, there was a vibrant response and enthusiastic participation from all regional as well as centre spiritual coordinators, and everyone earnestly looked forward to the various projects and activities planned for the year. Leading the meeting was Dr. Rakendu Suren, the National Spiritual Co-ordinator, who began with highlighting the uniqueness and the sacredness of the roles and activities that we take up as workers of Sai, for we report to none other than God Himself directly! Reminding one and all that the main purpose of the activities in our Sai organisation is for individual transformation, brother Rakendu guided the discussion for the various projects planned for the year:

Bhajans: It was acknowledged by all that bhajan singing is a cornerstone activity of the spiritual wing and so it is very important to maintain the quality of bhajans in the centres and encourage as many devotees to participate, learn and sing wholeheartedly. This would be facilitated by conducting bhajan workshops regularly. It was also stressed that as much as we should encourage new singers to lead bhajans, an eye on the quality must be kept at all times.

Beloved Bhagawan advises us to sing the divine names of the Almighty Lord in all languages and in all Forms with love and reverence. In this context, Region 4 Spiritual Coordinator, sister Jenni Robson, spoke about the English Devotional songs recording project. This is a unique endeavour aimed at familiarising English songs amongst the devotees attending Sai Centres in UK, so that they could feel confident to sing them during regular Centre meetings. The project aims to gather a comprehensive audio collection of English bhajans that could be accessed readily online by our fellow devotees. Spiritual coordinators were urged to encourage singers in their respective centres to make simple recordings of the English bhajans that they sing best and send the same onto sister Jenni. Musicians who can help play accompaniment for the recordings, as well as musically literate members of our Sai centres who can help in preparing score sheets for the English bhajans were also requested to join in this first of its kind project. This project has been piloted in Regions 1, 4 and 5 and is now open to all our devotees. The aim of this project is to experience devotional singing in different languages, reflecting the universality of the Swami’s teaching.

Sai Smaran bhajans held at a national level is another activity that has given a lot of joy to devotees. It has also enthused the members of our Youth Wing to participate actively and work in unity with each other and with the Spiritual Wing at all levels of our Organisation. It was decided to hold discussions with the Youth Wing with regards to the forthcoming sessions in 2014, and work together to further enhance participation from all Regions.

Study Circles: In several centres study circles have been conducted consistently and successfully. However, many other centres feel a strong need for help with regards to running study circles. Brother Karthik Prashanth, former Regional spiritual coordinator of Region 3, updated the gathering on the Study circle project. The aim of the project is to develop topic based material for study circle which would serve as a ready resource and reference for devotees and facilitators. Additionally, workshops for study circle coordinators would be conducted to help enhance the engagement with and the experience of study circles in Sai centres. The first workshop is expected to be announced soon.

The group also discussed the status of the Sathya Sai Speaks recordings project, where each region is allocated one or two volumes of the Sathya Sai Speaks series to read and record with the aim of bringing out an audio book on some of Swami’s earliest discourses. Brother Mahendra Patel, Region 7 Spiritual Coordinator updated the group on the progress of the project and clarified some of the technical questions the group had with regards to recording and available support.

Dr Vijay Nadella, Regional Spiritual Coordinator from Region 5, shared with all present details of the 52 Readings project, an effort aimed at compiling a ‘ready reckoner’ spiritual material for post bhajan readings. The materials are being compiled from a wide variety of authentic Sai Literature sources and will include inspiring experiences of devotees, excerpts from Bhagawan’s divine discourses, ‘Chinna Kathas’ etc. These will then be made available to all Sai centres via the Sathya Sai UK organisation website.

Meditation: The lead on the Meditation Project, brother Suresh Sajnani, Regional Spritual Coordinator of Region 2, shared with everyone gathered the aim of the efforts. The project intends to make available to everyone in our organisation standardised recordings and resources for meditation based on the three types of meditation taught to us by Swami. A meditation workshop will be conducted in every Region to raise awareness and encourage regular practise; these workshops will include short talks, panel discussions and group meditation sessions.

Interfaith activities: There was also a very interesting and enlightening discussion on interfaith activities undertaken in various regions- Interfaith walks, Multi-faith chanting days, Sarvadharma Bhajans, etc. It was agreed that we will now focus more on interfaith activities at a centre level, for instance, two or three centres coming together to host an interfaith chanting day, inviting the different faith representatives in the region.

As a group we reminded ourselves that the aim of all these activities is self-transformation. It was felt by all that the entire day was mutually beneficial it was strongly felt that the group should meet again in three months’ time. In the meantime, if there are any questions or suggestions or if you are interested to participate, in relation to any of the activities above, please contact spiritualwing@srisathyasai.org.uk

National Spiritual Team

National Service Wing

Around 39 Service Wing Coordinators participated in discussions which were led by Mukund Patel, National Service Coordinator.

The Service wing divided into four workshop groups and throughout the day reviewed and contributed to the three main sections:

- Role of the Centre/Group Service Wing coordinator
- Review of current service activities carried out in the Centres/Groups
- Plan a number of activities for the year in 2014

The findings of the first two workshops highlighted the importance of the service coordinators’ role to inspire and provide everyone in the centre/group an opportunity to participate in service activity and to carry out regular reviews of their activities to identify needs for further training and opportunities to expand the services delivered.

In the final workshop the groups discussed four proposals for future activities and presented their conclusions as follows:

- Disaster Relief – Set up relief teams and a database of skills and expertise from across the regions to respond immediately and provide help when required. The presentation on the UK flood relief provided experience to progress further.
- Training – conduct workshops in Food Hygiene, Health & Safety and First Aid.
- Overseas Service Projects – investigate areas where there is a need not currently met by other international agencies and initiate a project through the UKCC. One proposal is a project of ‘Adopting a Child’ to help, educate and nurture disadvantaged children where there is no current support.
- Environment – promote energy saving projects through recycling, car sharing, walking rather than driving, switching off lights when not needed and environmental improvements through contact with local authorities and agencies to pick up litter, tree planting etc.

Finally, the Service Wing will be organising a National Service Wing Conference in October this year where all service volunteers can participate and share their expertise. There is also a proposal to hold a one day National Service project where everyone can participate at the same time and at given locations – ideally over a weekend.

National Service Team

National SSE Wing

SSE wing had representation from Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7 with Regions 5 and 8 being represented through reports provided by their respective Regional chair and Regional SSE Coordinator. The morning session was dedicated to reflection and evaluation of the progress of the wing at regional and centre levels. The SAI approach (systematic, appropriate and integrated) was used to measure the impact of the learning experience for children attending SSE and the crucial role that all other wings play in supporting and enhancing the work of the SSE wing.

The afternoon was spent in group discussion by the coordinators on 5 key areas identified from the morning’s feedback and evaluation of the wing. The aim of these group discussions was to look at ways to further enhance and ensure progress of the wing nationally, regionally and at a centre level keeping in mind that each activity is undertaken as an offering to our Lord. Areas discussed and action points identified were the following:

- Integration of the four wings in supporting the activities of the SSE wing
- Enhancing the learning experiences of children who may have additional needs
- Improving participation by families who are new to the teachings of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
- Engagement with the wider Community
- SSE resources for teachers

The day concluded with presentation to the wider group on the next steps. The singular feeling amongst all who attended was that of bountiful enthusiasm, love and the eagerness to serve in His divine mission!

National SSE Team

National Youth Wing

Around 30 youth from around the country participated in the youth wing meeting.

The Youth Wing meeting started off with a wonderful video compilation of what Swami had said both to the Youth and about the Youth; reminding the youth to be self-confident and leaders like lions.

A welcome address by the National Youth Coordinator, Shyam Jamnadas, set the scene for the meeting who reminded members that the end goal of their roles was one’s own self-transformation. As leaders, he reminded that the youth are provided with the opportunities to self-transform through the activities undertaken within the Wings of the Organisation. He emphasised the importance of the youth wing to work hand in hand with the other 3 wings. He stressed the need to ensure there was effective communication to all youth so as not to deny anyone the opportunities provided and also to leadership upwards.

A video of Swami was then shown. Everyone was then asked to reflect upon His Actions in the video and His Words that He says. One concluded that what He said was always reflected in His Actions.

The National Youth Objectives for 2014 were then presented to the team and the members were then asked to brainstorm ideas on each of the themes:

  1. To lead on Serve the Planet 2014 - this year is on the theme of "Children are our future."
  2. To expand on the 2013 Serve the Planet Food Bank Initiative that was undertaken by UK.
  3. To work with the Service wing in expanding on other existing service activities undertaken by SSSSOUK both in the UK and abroad.
  4. To integrate more with SSE wing.
  5. To participate in Global Youth Offerings and start the build-up for 2016 World Youth Festival in Prasanthi Nilayam.
  6. Young Adults Programme (YAP), which is on the theme on implementing the 9 Point Code of Conduct in our daily lives for 2014
  7. Sai Smaran Bhajans which is co-led by the Youth in conjunction with the Spiritual Wing.

Each of the objective themes were further explored. To achieve this, 4 Groups were formed and the youth split into these four groups, which naturally formed into the 3 wings (Service, Spiritual and SSE & Other)

Group 1 (Service Group) focussed on objective 2&3, expanding on the food bank initiative and other service activities undertaken by SSSSOUK in UK and abroad
Group 2 (Spiritual Group) focussed on objective 6&7 focussing on expanding Sai Smaran Bhajans and Implementing the 9 Point Code of Conduct in daily life via Young Adults Programme (YAP).
Group 3 (SSE Group) focussed on objective 1&4, focussing on Serve the Planet 2014 which is themed “Children are our future” and further Integration with the SSE wing.
Group 4 (Other) focussed on National and International Events and explored the theme that emerged from the post-it; that participation needs to increase in events. The UK Pilgrimage was the focus for discussion for this group.

Each Group presented back to the forum:

Group 1 (Service) had some wonderful ideas about supporting disaster relief in the UK, looking after the elderly and homeless and also expanding on the food banks initiative with action plan.
Group 2 (Spiritual) had inspiring ideas on Bhajan workshops for adults to SSE led by Youth and multifaith songs and prayers as well as making Bhajan singing a service activity to involve other communities.
Group 3 (SSE) had interesting ideas around the SSE curriculum to make it more exciting and also SSE camps that the youth can support in planning and running.
Group 4 (Other) focussed on the purpose of going to Prasanthi Nilayam and how that can be shared in the UK through various communication tools to inspire devotees to go.

The next steps are to have a meeting with the National Wing Coordinators and explore ideas that could be taken forward. The youth are looking forward towards working closely with the Service, Spiritual and SSE wings in achieving our objectives for 2014!

National Youth Team

Prof. M Nanjundaiah: Our Special Guest in UK

It is our honour and privilege to announce that Professor M Nanjundaiah will be our special guest this year at the National Sathya Sai Human Values Day (26th April 2014) and the National Easwaramma Day (3rd May 2014).

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

By the Divine Grace of Bhagawan, he joined as a Reader and the Head of the Commerce Department in the Sri Sathya Sai College of Arts, Science and Commerce at Whitefield, affiliated to Bangalore University. Before this, he was the Head of the Department of Commerce, MES College, Bangalore University. Having stood first in Karnatak University as an M.Com student, he still chose the profession of a teacher as he believed that it was a noble profession that had the power to mould the next generation of students.

During the first 3 years of his heading the commerce department at Swami’s Whitefield college, many of the top ranks from Bangalore University were bagged by his students, thus giving immense joy to Swami. Infact, Swami felicitated him in a grand ceremony in 1976, in recognition of his services.

Having stayed with Swami in the Brindavan Ashram for 9 years and served in His college, Swami asked him to come to Puttaparthi as the Deputy Controller of Examinations in the newly formed Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, a deemed University. Since then, he has been instrumental in setting up the examinations section of the University from scratch and also in framing the syllabus for the M.Com and MBA programmes, as he moved on to become the Controller of Examinations for the University.

Prof Nanjundaiah was blessed with very many experiences with Bhagawan. He had the rare privilege of translating Swami’s discourses into English from 1981 to 1993.

Prof Nanjundaiah was felicitated by Bhagawan during his retirement from extended duty as Controller of Examinations on the 9th July 2010. During the ceremony, Swami had said, “Nanjundaiah has been the controller of examinations. He has been very kind to all students. He has been working day and night in order to declare the results well in time. He never used to take rest even for a while. He would engage himself in correcting papers even while suffering from fever. Everybody was depending upon him. He had to take much trouble in sending results to Anantapur and Bangalore colleges. We were very much concerned at the troubles he had to face.”

He had been indeed blessed to be one of the few chosen ones to be in His proximity – a chance that many can only dream of!

Sathya Sai Leadership Training Programme: The Next Phase

"I want you to be leaders to protect the world. Leaders like lions, self-reliant, courageous, majestic and just. Lion is the king of animals and I want you to be king among men."
~ Sri Sathya Sai Baba, inaugural address to students, Summer Course 1992

"...you should take up the reins of leadership and bring peace and prosperity to the nation by leading ideal lives..."

The Divine Mission of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is to establish peace and harmony amongst all the peoples of the world through unconditional love and service. In order to facilitate the blossoming of such unconditional love and service in our hearts, Bhagawan founded the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation in 1967 in India that has now grown globally and serves in more than 125 countries in the world. Through participation in the various activities of the Organisation, it’s members around the world are able to nurture these divine qualities in their own lives, and share the joy and peace in their hearts with the communities around them.

The Sathya Sai Leadership Training Programme (SSLTP) in UK is envisaged in this context of inner transformation and service to fellow beings, so as to fulfil our lives in the Divine Sathya Sai Mission. SSLTP in UK has been conducted since 1998, following the First World Youth Conference in Prasanthi Nilayam in 1997, and around 89 individuals have benefitted from undertaking it over the past 15 years. Currently, sincere efforts are underway to broaden the scope and reach of the Programme, so as to provide opportunities to all those who are interested in serving the Sathya Sai Mission, especially as leaders at various levels of the Sathya Sai Organisation in UK.

To facilitate this enhanced approach, a SSLTP Steering Committee has been established on the auspicious day of Maha Sivarathri. The role of this committee will include refining the objectives of the Programme, reviewing its current content and its delivery, and to make strategic decisions for its future management and monitoring.

Steering Committee

Dr Kiran Patel - UKCC Chairman
Dr Veeru Rao - UKCC Vice Chair
Mr Shyam Jamnadas - National Youth Coordinator
Mrs Vidyulata Narayan - National SSE Coordinator
Mr Sri Kandiah - Visiting Professor, University of Southampton Management School
Prof Chandra Lalwani - Emeritus Professor, Hull University Business School
Dr. Pawan Tamvada - Programme Director, University of Southampton Management School
Mr Shitu Chudasama - Publications Division, Prasanthi Council
Mr Deviesh Tankaria - Assistant Zonal Youth Coordinator (former Lead coordinator SSLTP)
2 other members of the UKCC will join the discussions on an ad hoc basis.

Dr Kiran Patel

SITA Team

Sathya Sai Information Technology & Arts (SITA) Team has been an integral part of Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation for many years, currently functioning as part of the Service Wing. SITA is a platform for collective effort in the realms of Technology aimed at serving the Divine Mission of our Lord Sathya Sai in an effective and enjoyable way. It’s main objective is to coordinate the skills and expertise that devotees in UK wish to offer at Bhagawan’s divine feet, as their gratitude and loving service.

As the name implies, the team covers a wide range of activities undertaken by our sacred Organisation. Currently, for the sake of effective functioning, the activities have been categorised under the following:

  1. IT and Communications Division- Web Team (programmers, content support); Public Relations Team (media, legal, event management, hospitality). Lead Coordinator: Mr Jamie Raju
  2. Publications Division- Graphic Designers, Proof Readers, Journalists, Writers. Lead Coordinator: Dr. Amit Patel
  3. Audio-visual Division- Sound Team, Live Vision Team, Photography Team, Lighting Team, Post-Production Team, Web Stream. Lead Coordinator: Mr. Roshan Patel
  4. Archiving Division: Lead Coordinator: Mr Ramesh Mistry

Those of us serving in the SITA Team welcome everyone to join us and get involved, whether it is your profession or your hobby. We are open to all, as we are always learning and adapting to the situations and requirements as time progresses. We feel that every task that we have been given is an opportunity to offer ourselves to Beloved Bhagawan; and whether we are planning prior to events, or functioning at live events, or producing material post events so as to share with everyone through avenues such as Love and Light and the National Website, we strive to do it to the best of our ability as this is what our Beloved Swami accepts from us. I request and encourage anyone who is interested to know more or join the SITA team to contact us at servicewing@srisathyasai.org.uk

SITA is comprised of individuals that also attend their local respective centres or groups. For instance in my case, being involved at centre level, I was able to carry my skills over to a regional level and I am now able to help in the various areas we have established within the organisation and the SITA team. Being part of the team has enabled me to meet and interact with numerous members from the organisation. It gives me great pleasure to serve Swami, whether it be at centre, regional or national programs. Being able to take part in service and serve in various ways is heaven for me. I believe this is what makes Swami’s Organisation so unique and great!

Roshan Patel
SITA Audio-visual Lead ,
Service Wing, SSSSO UK

UK Flood Relief

Unloading items for Flood Relief at ‘Centre for Donations’ at the Old Summerfield Distribution Centre in Bridgwater.

"Through service you realise that all beings are waves of the Ocean of Divinity. No other spiritual discipline can bring you into the incessant contemplation of the One-ness of all living beings. You feel another's pain as your own; you share another's success as your own. To see every one else as yourself and yourself in every one, that is the core of the discipline of service."
- Sri Sathya Sai Baba, 14th November 1975

The recent storms in UK had a big impact upon the lives of significant number of people throughout Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and the Thames Valley regions due to continued flooding and power outages. Many of us watched or read about the courage of local communities in dealing with this adversity, as well as the untiring relief and rescue efforts by various governmental and voluntary agencies. The Sathya Sai Organisation in the UK also joined the relief efforts by launching an appeal for blankets, duvets, sleeping bags, biscuits, crisps, dry snacks and water. Devotees from around UK rallied to the appeal responding enthusiastically and participated in a spirit of oneness with fellow beings and as their offering of love and gratitude to our beloved Lord.

Two regional hubs were identified; Leicester (Region 4, Midlands) and Harrow (Region 2, London) where items collected from the regions were stored.

Volunteers from Region 4 and 5 delivering items from Region 4, 5 & 8 to Storage Hub in Leicester, Region 4.

The first shipment of items collected took place on the 17th February 2014 which was destined for the Salvation Army at the Westfield Church, Bridgwater, Somerset. Few families from the flood afflicted areas visited the centre when items were unloaded. One of the family members approached us to thank us profusely for the duvets and blankets since the children were sleeping on curtains over the past few nights. Another person with his eyes watering approached us, again expressing his thanks for the generosity.

8th March saw our 2nd delivery in vans from 2 separate locations, Leicester and London.

The van with collections from the Leicester hub had donations from as far places such as Scotland, Leeds, Bradford and other places of the midlands. Items included, sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, food items, cleaning items such as heavy duty brushes, cleaning fluids and cleaning cloths.

Our first drop of the day was the Food Bank in Tewkesbury where we met Jack Lowe, who works for the Food Bank, covering Tewkesbury, Gloucester and Cheltenham. It was lovely to see our organisation assisting such charities that are engaged in helping those in need. Jack was very appreciative of the donations and commented in his subsequent mail response, “It was great to see you and I will see your generosity being used in the good cause of what we do. May God bless all the kind people who donated all the food and sleeping bags.”

‘Centre for Donations’ at the Old Summerfield Distribution Centre in Bridgwater. Rows and rows of food, clothing, childrens toys and items to help with next phase of cleaning.

The second drop was at the ‘Centre for Donations’ at the Old Summerfield Distribution Centre in Bridgwater.

Items collected in London and Region 6 were stored at the hub in Harrow and homes of devotees. These were finally packed and loaded onto a van. The journey from London to the Centre for Donations in Bridgwater took approximately 3 hours; both vans from the 2 locations congregated together around the same time.

It was fascinating to see their process in operation where the affected members of the public showed their ID and then could walk down isles (similar to supermarket setting) and pick up items of clothing, food, toys for children, books etc as needed. Here at the Centre of Donations, volunteers had been working from 9am to 5pm every day as well as another team coming in overnight, tidying up and sorting through donated items. For people who could not come in to collect items due to problems of access arising from the floods, volunteers having four wheel drive cars delivered directly to their homes.

Items collected and delivered to ‘Centre for Donations’ at the Old Summerfield Distribution Centre in Bridgwater.

Whilst speaking to the local volunteers, we picked up several stories. One such which sticks in our minds, involved a lady that had just visited the centre a few hours before, When she saw the help offered by this centre to those in need, she burst into tears; she commented that she couldn’t believe the help she was receiving, she had lost everything, the basics and here she could go round and pick up items as needed.

Flooding observed during driving through Somerset & Volunteers of the Salvation Army in Westfield Church, Bridgwater - serving in the spirit 'God is Love'

Westfield Church in Bridgwater, Somerset used by Salvation Army to coordinate Flood Relief efforts & Delivery of the first shipment in Westfield Church, Bridgwater.

Gigantic Pumps from Holland used to divert water in Bridgwater

After spending some time with the volunteers, we learned that they were coming to the end of the first phase of supplying food, clothes etc. Plans were being drawn to look at the cleaning of the homes, work places etc after the devastation caused by the floods. Some of the properties were so badly damaged that the properties had to be knocked down and rebuilt due to damage caused by water to the foundations. Some people will not be able to go back in to their homes until Christmas this year, that’s nearly a year after being evacuated due to the scale of floods!

Items being collected in Region 1 and 2 and being offered at the Lotus Feet of our Beloved Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

It was an eye opener for us to see first-hand the service that was being provided on the ground to those affected by the floods. We had an uncle that travelled with us from Leicester; he was 71 years of age and had been associated with the Sai Organisation for the past 25 years. His experience was that this was the first time that he saw devotees from around UK - SSE Children, Youth, Adults and the Elderly that had got together, united in Love to help with disaster relief at our own doorstep. He had remarked that children in the Centres, through Ceiling on Desires had given up chocolates and crisps and had offered the money saved to purchase items for the flood victims. Very moving indeed! This reminded us of the delightful story that our Beloved Lord, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba had mentioned about a young boy who out of his love for Baba didn’t give his clothes to the dhobi (washman) for three months and washed them himself; the 100 rupees (£1) that he had saved, he offered it to Baba towards the cost of the Super Speciality Hospital that was being built at the time. Baba was so overjoyed with the sense of selflessness that he loving said to the boy "My dear son, this is not just 100 rupees, this note is worth millions and millions of rupees for Me!"

Volunteers at ‘Centre for Donations’ at the Old Summerfield Distribution Centre in Bridgwater.

This is just the start, we have a long way to go, but our Lord has given us an opportunity to unite together to help our fellow brothers and sisters in need. The next step is to help with the second phase, the cleaning of premises. In the meantime, if you wish to participate in the cleaning phase after the floods have receded, then please pass on your names to your Centre/Group Chairs.

Jayesh Patel (R1 Service Coordinator)
Ketan Gokani (ex R4 Chair)

Region 1 - Maha Shivarathri Celebrations

"On Chathurdasi (the 14th night), the night of Shiva, only a fraction of the moon remains. If some special effort is made that night, through more intensive and vigilant Sadhana, like puja, japam, dhyana (ritual worship & meditation), success is ensured. Hence, Shiva must be meditated upon that night, every month, without the mind straying towards thoughts of sleep or food. Once a year, on Mahashivaratri, a special spurt of spiritual activity is recommended, so that the Shavam (corpse) can become Shivam (God), through perpetual awareness of its Divine Indweller. Dedicate the vigil of this Shivaratri night to the Shiva present within each one of you" - BABA

Holy Shivarathri was celebrated on a grand scale in Region 1 on Friday, 28th February. The celebrations were hosted by the Merton Sai Centre with the support of various other centres within the region. As in the past, the holy occasion provided us with an opportunity to work, pray and sing together.

On the evening of the 28th, the altar was beautifully decorated with Swami’s throne at the centre and the multifaith Sarvadharma Emblem above that. There were large pictures of Swami and Shirdi Sai Baba on either sides, each adorned with large Chrysanthemum garlands. Two Shiva Lingams that were materialized by Swami were kept on the either sides of the altar.

The sacred evening began at 4:30pm with the chanting of three Aums, Gayathri mantra and Sai Ashtotharam (108 names of our Lord). This was immediately followed by an offering of Abhishekam to the Saeeshwara Lingams. After the Linga Abhishekam, the group of vedic chanters who had assembled there performed the Rudra Ekadashi parayanam (i.e. chanting the Sri Rudram 11 times). Rudra Ekadashi is performed by chanting the entire Namakam 11 times prior to each of the eleven verses of Chamakam. The Namakam portion of Rudram offers prostrations to different forms of the Lord while the Chamakam portion of the Rudram seeks for spiritual, mental, emotional and physical benefits.

Upon the completion of Rudra Ekadashi parayanam, the regional SSE children offered their prayers by chanting few vedic mantras such as the Shivopasana Mantra, Medha Suktam, Narayana Upanishad and Mantra Pushpam.

The elaborate vedic chanting session enhanced the spiritual vibrations of the gathering and set the stage for the bhajans which began around 8:15pm. The bhajans were initially led by the regional SSE children who sang with a lot of devotion and enthusiasm.

This was followed by the singing of bhajans by various centres and regional youth members during their respective time slots. Each group arrived in a well-disciplined manner and offered their prayers in a loving way. It was a delight to experience the harmony with which the entire night progressed and one could certainly feel the presence of our Divine Master through the night.

Prasadam and refreshments were served all night by dedicated volunteers who looked after the comfort of the assembled devotees.

At 5am in the morning, the bhajans were briefly paused to awaken the Lord within each of our hearts with the chanting of Omkaram and Suprabhatam. The final hour of bhajans began with a beautiful rendering of an alaap and bhajan in Raag Bhoopali. The bhajans concluded with the offering of mangala arathi to our Lord. The whole night was indeed a great spiritual exercise that filled each of our hearts with His Love and minds with His thoughts!

Region 1 Team

Region 1 - Young Adults Programme: Meditation & Prayer

As I was looking forward to travelling home from University for a short but much-needed break; I was excited to hear that there was going to be a Young Adults Programme session hosted by the Region 1 youth team on the evening after I returned to London.

The ‘Young Adults Programme’, a monthly activity run by the youth, for the youth, is something I have always looked forward to, but since commencing my studies abroad in Italy, something I have sadly missed.

The honest truth is that, as is often the case with spiritual events, I turned up at least partly for the wrong reasons. In this case, I was eagerly looking forward to seeing my fellow youth from Region 1, some of whom I had not seen for almost a year. Of course, by the end of the session, as is inevitable whenever devotees gather to talk about our Dear Swami; I was full to the brim with that Divine bliss which we have all felt and are continuously drawn back to, even if we cannot quite describe it in words.

With YAP for 2014 in UK focusing on implementing the Point Code of Conduct in our lives; the subject of this month’s session was ‘Meditation & Prayer: because some questions can’t be answered by Google!’

Focusing on the two forms of spiritual activity, we were asked to consider a number of important questions such as why and how we prayer or meditate, and how these disciplines can be compatible with our ‘western’ way of life.

At the outset we found it difficult to define what the words ‘mediation’ and ‘prayer’ really meant. Some suggested that mediation was a way of taming the mind and withdrawing it from the distractions of the world. Others gave the opinion that meditation involved contemplation on our own ultimate reality or that meditation is a means of fixing the Divine Name and Form in our hearts, just as an image is fixed on paper. Many felt that prayer was communicating with the Divine and could take the form of ritualistic worship, or talking to God in an informal way. Despite these different ideas, we all agreed that mediation and prayer where closely related and just two of the many forms of sadhana (spiritual practice) indicated to us by Swami in His teachings.

For me, the most affecting part of the evening was listening to the personal experiences of my fellow Sai Brothers and Sisters, who spoke about the place of prayer and meditation in their own daily lives. As it is often said, ‘youth inspire youth.’ I was encouraged by hearing how other youth strive to make their daily lives revolve around Swami and inspired by the changes they have brought about in themselves through sincere sadhana.

I pray to Swami for the strength to break stubborn habits and the conviction to lead a truly God-centered life. I offer my heartfelt gratitude at the feet of our beloved Satguru and pray that He continues to guide me and all the youth of the UK to reach the divine ideals He has set forth for us.

Oh Prince of Puttaparthi, look upon us, Your beloved youth, and see Yourself there. Find within our depths, oh Lord, the pure mightly Mount Kailasha, which is Your home and heavenly kingdom. Behind, before and on every side guard me from the desire, the distraction, and the defeat.

Sairaj Puvinathan
Merton Sai Centre, Region 1

Region 2 - Maha Shivarathri Celebrations

Maha Shivaratri, the night of the worship of Lord Shiva, occurs on the 14th night of the new moon during the dark half of the month of Phalguna. It falls on a moonless February/early March night, when followers of Lord Shiva offer special prayer to the lord of destruction. Shivaratri (Sanskrit ‘ratri’ = night) is the night when Shiva is said to have performed the Tandava Nritya or the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction. The festival is observed for one day and one night only. It is also believed that whoever performs sincere worship of Lord Shiva attains moksha or salvation.

R2 Maha Shivaratri celebration at Heston Community Hall started at 7:45 pm on Friday 28th February with 3 Aums, Ganapathi Atharva Sirsam, Sai Gayatri, 9 x Gayatri Mantra, and 3 x Aum Shanti.

An uplifting session of very melodious bhajans commenced and lasted for a couple of hours followed by a short meditation. This was followed by a short ten minute video on the “Significance of Shivaratri”.

R2 Chairperson then introduced Panditji who was to conduct the Puja. Pandit Rajashekar Gurukka (Shiva Temple) has completed a 6 year course in vedic rites and chanting and has earned the title Shiva Gama Shiromani. Panditji has also been involved in teaching vedas to the children, in particular he taught them for the Sai Mahima Play and is currently a resident priest at the Wimbeldon Shiva temple.

Panditji explained the sequence of the puja starting with Ganesh Prathana (Aum Shanthi x 3), Guru Prathana (Aum Shanti x 3), Rudram (Namakam), Rudram (Chamakam), Shananthi Paath. Puja Aarthi, and Sankalpam/Aarchanai.

All the devotees were provided with a thali, lingam, vibhuti, bilva and flower so that all could participate in offering vibhuti to the lingam while the 300 Names of Lord Shiva were chanted by Panditji. The Veda chanters started with Mantra Pushpam, Chathur Vedham, Lingastakam, Bilvastakam and the final Puja Aarthi. The whole puja was done so beautifully with Vedam that all the devotees present were really blessed by being a part of the puja.

Closing Sai Prayers and Kshama Prathana & Meaning thus brought an end to a very blissful Shivaratri Programme.

London West Team

"Shivaratri - (night) of Shivam (goodness, Godliness, good fortune). It is an auspicious night, because the mind can be made to lose its hold on man by dedicating the night to prayer. This is because on this night the moon and the mind, which it rules over, are both drastically reduced, so if the night is devoted to vigilant adoration of God, the remnant of the wayward mind is overcome and victory is ensured. With firm faith and clean heart, the night should be spent in glorifying God. No moment should be wasted in other thoughts"
– Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

It was with these teachings from Swami in mind, that devotees across Region 2 gathered at the Heston Community Sports Hall to celebrate this holiest of festivals in the Hindu calendar, and with our beloved Swami’s grace and presence what a blessed occasion it turned out to be. Weather did not affect attendance. Young and old came from the whole Region.

As devotees arrived they were able to do Abhishek to lord shiva before proceeding to the main hall with their personal lingam and thali. This included children who thoroughly enjoyed the night.

The event began at 7:45pm with three hours of non-stop bhajan singing, as singers delivered pitch perfect bhajans accompanied by music from talented tabla and harmonium players as well as other musicians, to purify the atmosphere and get the evening off to an auspicious start. By 9pm the Divine vibrations could be felt in the crisp winter air outside, as the energy and pace of the bhajans continued to increase and one sublime Shiva bhajan after another was offered at the Divine lotus feet.

At 10.30pm, the bhajans made way for a comprehensive and sacred Shiva Lingam pooja performed by the revered priest Pujya Pandit Rajashekar Gurukka and his assistant Priest supported by brother Ranjan . As they bathed and made holy offerings to the Shiva Lingam, brothers and sisters from region 2 who had prepared weeks beforehand for this golden opportunity, chanted the Sri Rudram Namakam followed by the Chamakam, Shivopasana, Lingastakam, in one strong united voice to increase the divine vibrations as the dark night set in and the holy midnight hour approached.

Then it was a chance for the devotees themselves to get involved as Pujya Pujya Pandit Rajashekar Gurukka began the chanting of holy names from the Sri Rudram Namakam and on the chant of each name devotees offered holy vibhuti ash, to their own personal Shiva Lingam which had kindly been provided on the day and which devotees were fortunate to take home afterwards. This was followed by unison chanting of the sublime Bilvastakam and Mantra Pushpam, which concluded the Pooja itself and made way for the Mangala Araathi, Vibhuti Mantra and Kshama Prarthna. As the auspicious Shivratri event came to a close, devotees left feeling energised and hopefully another step closer to our beloved Bhagavan.

Delicious food and refreshment was on offer all night by dedicated seva daals. They worked tirelessly following swami’s much quoted saying “Love all serve all”. ‘Almond’ milk was on offer as a treat [replacing the bhang].

Priya

Swami says:
When Desire is destroyed, Love reigns supreme

The Vibhuuthi Abhisheka has a potent inner meaning which Swami wants you to grasp. The Vibhuuthi is the most precious object, in the truly spiritual sense. You know that Shiva burnt the God of desire or Kaama, called Manmatha (for he agitates the mind and confounds the confusion
already existing there) into a heap of ashes. Shiva adorned Himself with that ash, and thus He shone in His glory, as the conqueror of desire. When Kaama was destroyed, Prema (love) reigned supreme. When there is no desire to warp the mind, love could be true and full.

What greater offering can you give God to glorify Him than the ash signifying your triumph over tantalising desire? Ash is the ultimate condition of things; it cannot undergo any further change. The Abhisheka with Vibhuuthi is done to inspire you to give up desire and offer Shiva the ashes of its destruction as the most valuable of all the articles you have earned. Ash cannot fade as flowers do in a day or two; it does not dry and disappear or get soiled and unpotable as water does; it will not lose colour as leaves do, in a few hours; it does not rot as fruits do in a few days. Ash is ash for ever and ever. So, burn your viles, your vices, your bad habits; worship Shiva, rendering yourselves pure in thought and word and deed.
Baba.

Feedback from devotees:

Region 2 ,Regional Shivratri Programme was a great success, due to united efforts by all. Bhajans and vedam practices took place in different areas to make it more easy commute for devotees who wanted to make an offering . Musicians and bhajan coordinators made themselves available for all. From planning to the execution it was team effort. Vibrations were strong and the power of the puja was felt by all, as all participated in the puja with the Lingams given at the entrance to all devotees.

A devotee.
'Jai Sairam.2014 R2 Mahashivaratri program was one of those Regional programs that garnered participation from all devotees right from the very start. It started with the participative process of involving every centre devotee's opinion in selecting the venue and timing and continued all the way in making the event participative for all by virtue of every devotee offering vibhooti to their own lingams. Overall it gave a highly divine participative experience for the devotees who attended from Slough Sai centre as well as myself and enabled us to leave the venue with genuine divine vibrations. It was a good moment for all of us to be enjoying in the planning process right from the start along with the regional team. Thank you all for the lovely opportunity provided this year which uniquely stood out from previous years/ programs. I also want to place on records that this participative and inclusive attempt by R2 team is truly reflective of the steps being taken to remove feelings as articulated in the orientation conference by UKCC as 'Them Vs Us' between devotees and larger organisation. R2 ensured that every centre had representation along with devotees involvement in the planning to execution and I want to express my love and gratitude for the steps taken to bring all of us together even further in Swami's divine mission.- Aneesh Mohan (Slough Centre Chair and Student- Sri Sathya Sai Institute of higher learning)

Aneesh Mohan
[Slough Centre Chair]

Region 2 - Shivarathri Celebrations at Harrow West Sai Centre

2nd March 2014

'Once, when everything in all the worlds got reduced into Lord Shiva, in that darkness of nothing present, the Mother Parvati worshipped Lord Shiva in the Agamic way, with great devotion. The Parameshwara, pleased by Her prayers, blessed Her. She asked, for the benefit of all the creatures, that whoever worships Lord Shiva on the Shivarathri day – with sincerity and devotion – should be blessed, and should be given the ultimate liberation.'

On the 2nd March, Harrow West Sai Centre celebrated the auspicious occasion of Shivarathri. The phrase ‘many hands make light work’ was indeed proved to be true as all the wings came together to celebrate with prayers, bhajans and sincerity to strengthen our connection with the Lord. With the dedication and manpower of the active members, the intense few hours beforehand saw us transform the stage into a humble replication of Mount Kailash, whilst preparations also went on for the highly-anticipated Abhishekham and pooja.

Powerful vibrations were felt from the start as Brother Ranjan conducted the Abishekham, with the build-up of energy from the Vedam chanting, Bilvastakam and Lingastakam touching and purifiying every individual in the hall. Each devotee was given the opportunity to personally offer their worries and doubts to Lord Shiva in the form of bilva leaves, whilst the guiding commentary and melodious bhajans allowed each member of the congregation to become more involved in the pooja. Culminating in the Mantra Pushpam, Aarthi and Kshama Praarthana, a small video was played to conclude the celebrations, featuring clips of the famous Abishekhams where the young Swami would materialise sacred Vibhuti from an empty pot, and the amazing Lingams of all stones and sizes Swami would expel every Shivarathri.

As the programme ended, the sweet mix of milk and dravyas from the Abishekham was distributed among the devotees. The charged atmosphere that could be felt in every inch of Oxhey Wood speaks for itself on the success of the event, in which many were moved to tears. However, none of this could have been achieved without the loving support and commitment of the Harrow West active members; they put a lot of time, passion and muscle into making this event a success. Heartfelt thanks go to each member of our Harrow West family…and of course, thank you Swami for walking with us every step of the way, and for being a constant source of support, compassion and guidance.

Sathya Premachandra
G3Y1 SSE student

Region 2 - Uncle Fize Mohammed’s speech at Harrow West Sai Centre

Every year, from February to November, people from our Sai centre go to Hare Krishna farm in Watford once a month to take part in seva activities. After the Winter break, on the 16th of February 2014, my family and I travelled to the Hare Krishna Farm along with other people from our Sai Centre.

While the men worked in the fields, the children did seeding in little pots. After three hours of working diligently, I was approached by Uncle Jerry who had a request. The request was if I could take notes during Uncle Fize’s speech later that day at Harrow West Sai Centre. I happily agreed.

Uncle Fize spoke very lovingly for about half an hour and finished his talk with a beautiful song about Allah. These were my notes:

Uncle Fize is an SSE teacher who loves his students. He said how some of the students from his centre had been good role models for their parents. Swami’s quote: The dust of my student’s feet will create the future.

Benefits of family prayers: The family stays together, children learn confidence and respect.

As the teacher, so is the student. The teachers need to be good examples to the students.

It is important to do sadana.

At the end, he told us some jokes that his SSE children had said during fun time in class. Here is one: A student came very late to school. The teacher asked him why he was late and the boy replied, “I saw a sign outside the school that said ‘school, go slow’. So I walked slowly!”

Arthesh Jeyaseelan
G2Y2 SSE student

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

On February 15, youth from Region 3 came together for its first Young Adults Programme [YAP] session of 2014. Around 25 youth from centres all over the region attended this session, in Newbury Park, Ilford aiming to elicit the importance and benefits of the 9-point Code of Conduct, which is the focus and theme for YAPs in the youth wing this year. We were fortunate enough to be also joined by our National Youth Coordinator, Brother Shyam Jamnadas.

The session began in earnest; with discussion around what we felt were the perceptions of the Sai Youth within our own centers, communities and wider society. This led to exploring what we as youth considered were the characteristics of an ideal Sai Youth and how we try to meet these expectations on a day-to-day basis. It was a great opportunity for us to explore Swami’s own message on character and how it applies to every stage of our lives as youth, from being a student right the way to work and family life.

Everyone’s contributions to the discussions were insightful and many of us could draw parallels within our own lives when we listened to each other’s experiences. It naturally became apparent how valuable the 9 point code of conduct was in order for us as youth to manage our lives in line with Swami’s teachings. The significance of the 9-point code of conduct was illustrated aptly by one of the Brothers who compared to it a car manual:

The manufacturer of a car provides an instruction manual with it. This is to enable the driver to operate the car effectively and efficiently on its journey from A to B. If we were to liken ourselves to the car and Swami to its manufacturer, then the 9- point Code of Conduct would be the instruction manual given to us by Swami to navigate smoothly during our earthly existence as we journey to realize the Ultimate Truth.

There was much food for thought and the discussions left many of the youth with the encouragement and yearning to put into practice the teachings of the 9-point code of conduct.

We then had the opportunity to hear Brother Shyam share some of his most cherished experiences of Swami’s teachings in his own life and how they related to Swami’s words: Follow the Master, Face the devil, Fight to the end and Finish the Game. He concluded the session with a video showcasing the sheer grit and determination of Derek Redmond as he finished the 400m semi-final at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics despite sustaining a hamstring injury. But perhaps more pertinent still was seeing his father, breaking the security barriers and coming to support his son till he reached the finishing line. For a lot of us, that scene blurred our sight with tears as we recounted the many times Swami has been there for us in our darkest hours, eternally encouraging us and ensuring that we too pass the finishing post.

The next YAP session will be held on the 9th March 2014 hosted by Thurrock Sai Group at Orsett Village Hall, Mill Lane, Essex, RM16 3HB. The topic will be on theme of Point 5 of the Code of Conduct – regular attendance of devotional meetings – and entitled 'Hari Bhajana Bina Sukha Shanthi Nahi – can there be peace or happiness without singing the glory of God?' The session will start at 10:45am with Jyothi (Light) Meditation, followed by Bhajans and Study Circle, before concluding with Aarti at 13:15. All are welcome.

Jai Sai Ram.
Region 3 Sai Youth

Region 4 - Coventry Sai Centre: Food Bank Service

Jai Sai Ram,

With Baba’s grace on 25th January 2014, a group of 12 volunteers including youth from the Coventry Sai Centre had the fortunate opportunity to do service at the Coventry Foodbank warehouse. The Coventry Foodbank was set up three years ago to help citizens of Coventry in need of emergency food aid. Baba says "Service to Man is Service to God".

In Coventry there are 60,000 people including children who are currently living below the bread-line. Their problems are very much a consequence of social and economic pressures. The Coventry Foodbank is providing temporary relief with free food to help families and the people of Coventry. Over the last 3 years the project has fed 33,000 people. A clothes bank has also been set up, helping to clothe people for school, work and the winter conditions. The ultimate aim of the Coventry Foodbank is to eventually help lift these people out of poverty through programmes such as employment training.

Figure 1 (a-b) - Volunteers sorting donated food items in the Coventry Foodbank warehouse.

The Coventry Foodbank warehouse where donated food and clothing is stored and distributed, forms an integral part to the overall operations. The warehouse has a 5000 sq ft storage space and is one of the largest in the UK. The facility relies upon the goodwill of donators and help provided by volunteers.

The Coventry Sai Centre volunteers on the day helped to inspect and categorise food items (e.g. rice pudding, beans, soups, cereals, coffee and tea) which had recently been donated. It is important that food items donated were within their best before date and of a suitable condition for redistribution. Volunteers helped one another with the tasks and worked as a team. The work ethic and spirit by which the volunteers undertook tasks was praised by the Foodbank warehouse manager, and welcomed future services.

The service had given volunteers an opportunity to experience the bliss associated with doing service and also acknowledge the scale of work undertaken by the Coventry Foodbank. Feedback from volunteers was one of an eagerness to help out again in future services.

We pray that this experience may help us to appreciate and be grateful of the food we receive and eat.

This is an extract on service taken from Bhagavan's Discourse given at the First All India Conference of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, Madras (Chennai), 21/04/1967.

Service to others is the medicine one needs to alleviate the distress which fills one at the sight of distress in another being. Feel that you are serving yourself, that you are curbing your own ego. Otherwise, service heightens your self-esteem and develops a sense of superiority, which are both harmful spiritually".

Sai Ram,
Coventry Sai Youth

Region 5 - Shivarathri Celebrations

Shivarathri Celebrations in the Northwest

Shivaratri was celebrated in Manchester on 28th February 2014 with Sai families from Manchester, Bolton and Warrington joining together for the sathsang. The program commenced with the following opening message conveying the importance and significance of Maha Shivaratri.

Swami once said...

"Some say that Shiva was born on this day, as if Shiva has birth and death like any mortal!

Shivaratri is the convergence between Shiva and Shakti and it is celebrated 12 times a year. The most powerful of those is the festival we celebrate today, Maha Shivaratri. On this day, people all over the world worship Lord Shiva by offering milk to the Shiva Lingam, fasting and performing other acts of penance. Like all other Hindu festivals, Swami says, “Shivaratri also has many such outer ceremonial observances and a deep core of inner significance. But, human nature prefers the easier path of outer formality to the path of inner discipline and direct experience."

On this day, the planetary positions in the Northern hemisphere act as potent catalysts to help a person raise his / her spiritual energy easily. The benefits of powerful ancient Sanskrit Mantras such as Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra increase manifold on this night.

Swami said that

"Shiva is said to go about with a begging bowl. He teaches that renunciation, detachment, indifference to good fortune or bad, are the paths to attain Him. Shiva is known as Mrthyunjaya (He who vanquishes death). And, He is also the Kaamaari (the destroyer of desire). These two names show that he who destroys desire can conquer death, for desire breeds activity, activity breeds consequence, consequence breeds bondage, bondage results in birth and birth involves death.”
The only way we can detach ourselves from this cycle of birth and death is by keeping our focus steadily on the Lord. He alone can save us from this world of Maya and take us across the river of Samsara.

Therefore, on this auspicious day, let us all immerse ourselves in the worship of our beloved Lord Sai Shiva and sing His praise. Let us take that one step towards Him as he takes a thousand steps towards us and obliterates all evil within us with the fire in His eye."

Subsequently, opening prayers were chanted and the lingam abhishekam pooja started. One by one, devotees showered the lingam with milk and flowers in adoration to Lord Shiva. Shortly after, bhajans were sung in praise of the Lord and carried on till 12 midnight. As the night progressed, the pace of the bhajans picked up and elevated all present spiritually.

Finally, the program commenced with aarti and closing prayers.

Prasanth Selvam,
SSE Co-ordinator
Manchester Sai centre

Shivarathri Bhajans in Bradford

Devotees from the Lidget Green Sai centre and the Halifax Sai Group organised special bhajans for Maha-Shivarathri on 28th February 2014. The programme started with SSE prayers and bhajans. After many years, SSE was started in Bradford last year. The SSE Children read two prayers and sang a Shiva bhajan beautifully to start off the proceedings. Bhajans followed by the Lidget Green and the Halifax devotees which made everyone feel the presence of our Divine Lord in the venue on the day. A reading by sister Shivani about Shivarathri and Arathi brought the programme to closure. Delicious prasadam was served to everyone after the enthralling bhajan session.

Region 6 - Laksharchana Held by Farnborough Sai Centre to Celebrate Shivrathri

A Laksharchana was held in the Tamu Nepalese Community Hall in Mychett by Mr Vadgama on Friday, 28th February, to celebrate Mahashivarathri.

The event was well attended by devotees from the Farnborough Sai Centre and other devotees from Region 6.

Beautiful bhajans were sung before, during and after the chanting. The chanting itself was done in five malas and went surprisingly fast. As we progressed, the malas got faster and faster and it was hard to believe that each mala had come to an end. I am sure this was due to Mr Vadgama’s amazing energy. The energy generated by the Laksharchana was extremely powerful and carried us along. Uncle Vadgama told us, with great humour, some miraculous stories of Swami’s intervention in his life and Dr Upadhyay gave us a very interesting talk on the meaning of Shivarathri. He also talked to us about his time in Nepal and recounted a truly amazing story about a leper and an unwilling participant in one of his medical camps…again, another story clearly demonstrating Swami’s Omnipresence and Love. It was a story in a million and one would never tire of listening to it. Vibuthi manifested itself quite profusely on Swami’s picture as preparations were being made for the event and Amrit manifested itself on Shirdi Baba’s picture during the chanting. Later on, when Swami’s picture was taken back home, amrit also appeared on it. How blessed we all were to be able to attend and participate and how grateful we are to the Farnborough Sai for always going out of their way to arrange and organise such events. Their hard work, openheartedness, cheerfulness and willingness to serve is an inspiration to the rest of us and a pleasure to receive.

Mercini Sherrat
Region 6

Region 6 - SSE Basic Training and Awareness Day

SSE (Sai Spiritual Education) is an important wing of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation. It aids in the blossoming of excellence of children (the future generation) to their full potential through the innate values of love, peace, right action, non-violence and truth; thus helping to mould their characters and personalities.

As Baba says “Education is for life not merely for a living”.

A SSE Basic training day was recently held on the 1st of March in Farnborough for SSE teachers. It was attended by new and current teachers, helpers, parents, office bearers and those who were interested in knowing more about this programme.

The objective of this training was to give an in-depth view of the foundations of this noble and sacred programme which was entrusted to us by our Lord Sri Sathya Sai Baba Himself. It focussed on the five teaching techniques, ie: Prayers, Silent Sitting, Story Telling, Group Devotional Singing and Group Activity so as to enhance and improve the learning experiences for our children and the guru’s confidence in delivering the programme. Other areas of the training included an Understanding of Child Development, The Tripartite Relationship of the child, parent and guru and the importance of Sadhana and spiritual practice in our daily life.

The trainers on the day were Dr Mahesh Narayan, Mrs Vidyulatha Narayan , Miss Nuleen Panday and Mr Yoges Yogendran.

The training day was inspiring to all those who attended which would enable members to apply the learning in SSE classes and in one’s everyday lives.

Miss Nuleen Panday
Regional SSE Coordinator
Region 6

Region 6 - You Take One Step...

When a mishap befalls us, it is very easy to turn away from God. Sometimes, however, it is just this mishap that serves to bring us that much closer. Some years ago, a young man named Alok incurred such a calamity. Alok described it in the following way:

“I am a computer science graduate, travelled extensively in my job, often meeting dignitaries in the process. In 2007, however, when I was 32, I had a car accident while driving to the temple with my wife and daughter. All three of us were injured. I suffered a serious spinal injury and became tetraplegic. This body became paralysed from the neck down. My wife got a pelvis fracture and wrist fracture. Our daughter also suffered cervical injury, leaving her right hand paralysed.

From being ‘top of the world’ in my career, life completely changed and I was confined to a bed spending several months in hospital. After going through the literature about spinal cord injury, I realised that I will never walk or use my hands again.”

Alok has since been living at Branksome Park Care Centre in Poole. Few members of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (UK) recently came to hear about Alok who started to visit him and provide something that we all seem to have little of, these days….Time. They visited Alok just to chat with him, sing bhajans, exchange spiritual thoughts and share Swami’s teachings The event is best described by Alok himself.

"I have come to know Sathya Sai Baba through His followers and feel very fortunate to be with people who are making time to support others. This supports me out of my negativity, depression and to start feeling good by sharing happiness/sorrow.

The Satsang was organised at the care home on Sunday, 16 February 2014. Over 40 devotees attended the function. The session started with some discourses followed with Gayathri Mantras, multifaith prayers, vedas chanting and devotional songs. This was accompanied by a power point presentation containing the lyrics of all the prayers, mantras and devotional songs.

All participants were uplifted by the programme and took away the message of Love and Faith. It all happened with the blessings of Sai Baba, because, otherwise from last many days the weather was very strongly windy and also my health was not good. However, on the day of the Satsang, the weather was all clear & bright and also after struggling with by low blood pressure for the initial half an hour, I managed to attend the whole session.”

When we take one step toward Him, He always responds…That does not mean he will not test us along the way! He is Love, He is compassion, our beloved Swami Thank you for being in our lives.

Region 6 Devotees

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