March 2015 Edition

Events

Sathya Sai National Human Values Day

Sai Mahima - Miracle of Love: SSE Pilgrimage

National Easwaramma Day

Articles

A Letter from the Lord

Divine Abodes

My Journey with Sai

National Youth Symposium – ‘Beacons of Love and Service’

Photo of the Month

Rama Navami Celebrations: The Spiritual Significance

Region 1 - Eggstravganza 2015!!

Region 1 - Mahashivarathri Celebrations

Region 1 - Mothers Day celebrations at Tooting Sai Centre

Region 1 - Sri Sathya Sai Orientation Day 2015

Region 1 - YAP: Face Painting at Royal Marsden Hospital

Region 1 - Young Adults Programme

Region 2 - Sathsang

Region 2 - Slough Mahashivarathri Celebration

Region 2 - YAP: Ashton Lodge and Meera Nursing Home Visit

Region 2 – Harrow West Shivarathri Celebrations

Region 3 - Sathya Sai Orientation Conference

Region 3 - Sathya Sai Orientation Conference from a youth perspective

Region 4 - Sathya Sai Orientation Conference from a youth perspective

Region 5 - Regional Orientation Conference

Region 6 - Coordinated Activities for National Easwaramma Day 2015

Spiritual Quiz

Swami Answers Our Prayers

Swami’s Discourses...

The Easter Story and its Significance

Editorial

As we approach springtime in the United Kingdom, I am reminded of the famous lines from one of our most illustrious poets William Wordsworth when he says “then my heart with pleasure fills and dances with the daffodils”. It was indeed a time to rejoice as many homes around the world celebrated their new year on the 21st March - Ugadi (celebrated in the Indian states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh), Naw-Ruz (by followers of Bahai faith), Gudi Padwa (celebrated in Indian state of Maharashtra).

Bhagavan reminds us that it is not just the beginning of a New Year or a new era but ‘the real new era commences when a person has new and noble thoughts. Therefore look within and experience God, who is present in your heart’.

Every incarnation made their advent to protect Dharma and save the virtuous and the good. When we celebrated Sri Rama Navami on the 28th of March, we reminded ourselves of the incarnation of Lord Rama as the embodiment of Truth and Righteousness and prayed that we tread on this noble path at all times. In April we will also be coming together with our fellow brethren to celebrate the festival of Easter. The pure Love and sacrifice of Lord Jesus Christ is brought to our minds and hearts during this holy period.

The recent programme by the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation, U.K. included the National Youth Symposium that took place on the 28th of March in London. This was an exciting and much awaited opportunity for a lot of our youth and the young at heart to participate wholeheartedly in a sacred and inspirational day in preparation for the World Youth Conference in Prasanthi Nilayam in 2016.

Our annual Sathya Sai National Human Values Day with the theme ‘Love – the One Divine Principle in All’ will be celebrated on 26th April at the Watford Colosseum uniting our fellow brothers and sisters from the different faiths in love and peace. It promises to be a day of prayer, music and inspirational talks. Please register at:

https://www.srisathyasai.org.uk/national-programmes/SSNHVD2015/registration.php

The much awaited day for our children in the United Kingdom is the National Easwaramma Day which will be celebrated on 2nd May at Hatfield entitled ‘The Festival of Love’. Bhagavan has emphasised that love comes in many forms and He lovingly reminds us that ‘Love as thought is Truth, Love as feeling is Peace, Love as right action is Righteousness and Love as understanding is Non-Violence’. There will no doubt be an exciting representation of Love in its various forms on the day by the children. Registration is now open at:

http://www.srisathyasai.org.uk/national-programmes/easwarammaday2015

Lastly, with immense gratitude to Bhagavan, the Sai Spiritual Education wing has been given an unmissable opportunity to take an SSE pilgrimage between 28th July and 6th August 2015 to Prasanthi Nilayam, the Divine Abode of our Dearest Lord. Our children will have an opportunity to offer a performance at the Divine Feet at the time. Our teachers will also have the privilege to participate in the International SSE conference planned between 1st and 3rd August 2015 in Prasanthi Nilayam. This is a wonderful opportunity presented to SSE children with their parents, teachers and devotees. Please register at:

https://www.srisathyasai.org.uk/national-programmes/ssepilgrimage/

With our hearts beating in prayer and gratitude, let us seize the opportunity to participate wholeheartedly in the forthcoming programmes commemorating the 90th year of our Loving Lord’s advent.

Sairam!
Vidyulatha Narayan,
Secretary, Central Council of U.K.

National Youth Symposium – ‘Beacons of Love and Service’

Flying with Sai Airways

On the 28th March 2015 youth from across the country, united by their love for Swami, came together to board Sai Airways Flight SA108. The title of the National Youth Symposium was ‘Beacons of Love and Service’ and the programme was based on the theme of air travel. The day comprised of guest speakers who were all youth from the UK, a reflective workshop and a service activity. The program was filled with ‘in-flight entertainment’ in the form of inspirational videos and musical presentation.

Participants at the National Youth Symposium

Shyam Jamnadas, National Youth Coordinator

Talk By Mali Almeida

The day began with a welcome address by the National Youth coordinator, brother Shyam Jamnadas. This was followed by the first guest speaker Ms. Mali Almedia who spoke about her experiences of Love in Service. She spoke about how as a youth she had reached an understanding that service was not limited to a particular mega project only, but how opportunities present to us at every step in our daily lives. She described her experiences of serving within the Sathya Sai Service Organisation and how when the service was done with the purest of intentions, Swami provided what was needed for that activity to be successful. We were reminded of the importance of surrendering the fruits of the act of service to Swami.

Talk by Reena Jamnadas

We then broke off into workshop groups. The workshops were entitled ‘An Expression of Love’. Participants were encouraged to think about the needs around us that moved us as individuals which brought out our deepest compassion and why we wanted to do something to help that cause. At the end of the session we came to the conclusion that we wanted to serve because it made us happy to see someone else happy by serving them. We were establishing a kinship with our fellow brothers and sisters that we are serving. By being aware of that feeling of happiness we could expand our hearts, and therefore our consciousness.

Following the in-flight movies demonstrating ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ during the lunch break, the next guest speaker Dr Reena Jamnadas spoke on the topic of ‘All Work is God’s Work’. She related how she worked toward her degree with a feeling of faith and surrender to Swami, praying for the degree to be used for the benefit of others. She reminded that we should do everything with a feeling of love and service; with purity and the right intention. In this way the action would become an offering to Bhagavan. She reiterated that without God, life was a hopeless end, with God life was an endless hope. She said that we had to be the beacons, like a candle that burnt itself day by day only to give the light of life to others. We could do this by being connected to Swami so that every action was infused with Love, she added. To establish this connection it was not necessary to spend endless time in front of an altar, she commented. Even eleven seconds was enough to become connected to Him. By taking one step towards Him, Swami would take 100 towards us.

Dr Kumi Pillay, Regional Chair, Region 7

Having listened to the inspirational talks and reflected on their motives for serving in the workshop, the youth were suffused with energy and enthusiasm to take part in a service activity planned on the day. Before the symposium, participants were encouraged to bring items to support two charities on the day: Trussell Trust Food Bank and Refuge UK. During the service activity, items were packed into boxes so that they could be delivered to the two charities after the symposium. Whilst the items were packed, the musical team sung bhajans to infuse divine vibrations of love to those who were receiving the items.

The next guest speaker Dr Kumi Pillay, regional chair for region 7, inspired everyone by speaking on ‘Beacons of Service’. He said that we had to be good, love God and fear nothing except sin. We had to be ready, to serve as soon as we saw the need for it. Swami was always moved spontaneously by any suffering He saw. We had to ask ourselves if we were ready to do the same and follow our beloved Master, He probed. Dr Pillay described his experiences of joining Grama Seva and how Swami meticulously planned every aspect of the service. By witnessing Swami’s students serving, he witnessed what a youth force could really achieve. He reflected at the time how the students Grama Seva occurred alongside their exams and reminded us that in any seva activity God was the giver and the receiver and that we are merely the instruments in between. Swami was a perfect example when He started His mission as a teenager; we are never too young to embark on service activities to benefit others. Integral part of being a beacon of service was to be selfless. Dr Pillay narrated how during the construction of homes for the flood afflicted victims of the Orissa region, Swami commanded His properties to be sold to fund the project. Swami demonstrated how He was prepared to sacrifice His own belongings to help those in need. He reminded that we had to work in unity with our focus on Swami’s Love and that we had to be loyal to the divine name and form of our Lord and seize the opportunity to take part in His mission.

Talk by Tej Kumar Pernapati

Tej Kumar Pernapati, an alumni of Swami’s institute was the final guest speaker who spoke on the topic of ‘Serving in the Divine presence’. We were fortunate to hear some of his personal experiences of having such close proximity to Swami during his time at His educational institutions. He explained how Swami called us ‘embodiments of love’ because He saw us as reflections of Himself. He reiterated that the way in which we could expand and share our love was through service. Swami had shown how service is the principal medium to expand our love amongst fellow beings. Through service one could share the divine spark of love that Swami had lit in our hearts, He indicated. Brother Tej concluded by saying that it was not the magnitude of service that mattered, but the sincerity of one’s efforts and the purity of one’s feelings, devotion and intent.

Concluding Remarks by Deviesh Tankaria, Vice Zonal Youth Coordinator

As a finale to the day, the musical group Sai Madhuram presented a heartfelt musical concert which provided a smooth landing of the flight whilst watching videos of Swami’s darshan! The day was brought to a conclusion by brother Deviesh Tankaria, our zonal youth coordinator, who brought into sharp focus the opportunity and responsibility for the youth to be Swami’s ideal messengers, the joy and blessing in serving the Lord through service to society. He called on every youth member to join and prepare earnestly for the World Youth Festival in Prasanthi Nilayam in 2016.

Swami says “The airplane has to land at certain places in order to take in those who have won the right to fly, by the tickets they have purchased. So too, the Lord has to come down so that those who have won the right to be liberated may be saved; incidentally, others too will know of the Lord, of His Grace and ways of winning it, the joy of liberation.”

Sai Madhuram Musical Concert

After disembarking flight SA108, we were filled with energy and enthusiasm to serve as ‘Beacons of Love and Service’ and to make our lives His message. Through sharing our experiences and beliefs over the day, we built a bond that, with Swami’s Blessings, would strengthen the youth for years to come so that we could truly become, “Leaders like lions; self-reliant, courageous, majestic and just”.

Dr Anshi Dattani
Harrow East Youth Coordinator

Rama Navami Celebrations: The Spiritual Significance

Rama Navami is a Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Lord Rama. This year it falls on the 28th of March 2015.

As described by the Sanskrit scriptures, the world goes through cycles of yughas (eons) with Kali Yugha being the last of the four stages. The cycle started with Kritha Yugha, followed by Thretha Yugha, then Dwapara Yugha and finally by the current Kali Yugha. Whilst we are enjoying the advent of our beloved Lord Sri Sathya Sai Baba who will be attaining His 90th year of advent very soon, we cannot forget the birth of other Avathars (Incarnations) of the Divine Cosmic energy in human form to establish Dharma (Righteousness) and to lead mankind to realise their innate divinity.

In the Thretha Yugha, the Incarnation, Lord Rama was born to King Dasaratha and Queen Kausalya in the city of Ayodhya (currently located in Uttar Pradesh). The sole purpose of His birth was to restore Dharma (Righteousness) which was in the decline brought about by the ruler of Lanka, King Ravana, the all-powerful demon (asura). Righteousness connotes harmony of thought, word and deed; it calls for sacrificing one’s bad thoughts, feelings and actions. According to Hinduism, Lord Vishnu, one of the Gods’ took birth in human form as Lord Rama to vanquish King Ravana and restore Dharma to its pristine.

It is this same cosmic energy that took a human form in Dwapara Yugha as Lord Krishna and in Kali Yugha as Sathya Sai Baba. During His milestone divine discourse on the occasion of His Birthday on 23rd November 1968, Baba revealed,

“Every step in the career of the Avathar is predetermined. Rama came to feed the roots of Truth (Sathya) and Righteousness (Dharma). Krishna came to foster Peace (Shanthi) and Love (Prema). Now (in Kali Yugha) all these four human values are in danger of being dried up. That is why the present Avathar has come. The righteousness that has fled to the forest has to be brought back in to the villages and towns. All actions against righteousness that is ruining the villages and town must be driven back in to the jungles”

Since His birth in 1926 and His epic declaration in October 1940 on the purpose of His Divine Mission, Baba has relentlessly worked to transform mankind to the Divine by infusing wisdom and raising human consciousness. He has inspired millions all over the globe by His example to practise human values of Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Love and Non-violence.

Continuing on His earlier Divine Discourse, Baba added,

“Avatars like Rama and Krishna had to kill one or more individuals who could be identified as enemies of Righteousness or Dharmic way of life and thus restore the practice of virtue. But now (in Kali Yugha) there is no one fully good, so who deserves the divine protection? All are tainted by wickedness, so who will survive if the Avatar decided to uproot? Therefore I have come to correct the intelligence (buddhi) of mankind by various means. I have come to counsel, help, command, condemn and stand by as a friend and be a well wisher to all, so that they may give up evil propensities and recognising the straight path, tread it and reach their goal (of self realisation)”
On the occasion of Rama Navami on 11th March 2003, Baba elaborated on the Ramayana, the epic poem that describes the story of Rama –

“One may have desires, but they should be under a limit. They should be based on Truth and Righteousness. Do not eat whatever you get. Do not speak whatever comes to your mind. You should speak only after proper enquiry. These are some of the lessons that the Ramayana teaches mankind. “

“The Ramayana teaches the principles of Dharma and the path of duty to every individual. Though ages and aeons have passed by, Ramayana remains ever fresh and guiding humanity on the path of Truth and Righteousness. As a result, even today we think of the various characters of Ramayana with respect and reverence. There is no morality higher than what is depicted in Ramayana to the extent that Ramayana should be a subject of our Parayana (worship). All of you must install these principles of Ramayana in your hearts and experience bliss.”

“The Ramayana, the Rama story, teaches two lessons: the value of
detachment, and the need to become aware of the Divine in every being. Faith in God and detachment from objective pursuits are the keys for human liberation. Give up sense objects; you gain Rama. Sita gave up the luxuries of Ayodhya and so, she could be with Rama, in the period of ‘exile’. When she cast longing eyes on the golden deer and craved for it, she lost the Presence of Rama. Renunciation leads to joy. Attachment brings about grief. Be in the world, but not of it.”
RAMAKATHA RASAVAHINI, PART II, The Rama Story
BHAGAWAN SRI SATHYA SAI BABA

Every character depicted in the Ramayana has a lesson for humanity. For instance, Hanuman was a perfect example of devotion.

“Once Lord Rama asked Hanuman, “How do you contemplate on Me?” “At the physical level, You are my Master and I am Your servant. At the mental level, I am a spark of thy Divine Self. At the Atmic level, You and I are one”, said Hanuman.
BharaSathya Sai Speaks/ volume 34/05

Bharata was prepared to sacrifice his family ties to uphold righteous values.

“This was the ideal set by Bharata in the Ramayana. Rama, being the eldest, was the legal heir to the throne of Ayodhya, but Kaikeyi sent Him to the forest, as she wanted her son Bharata to become the king. When Bharata came to know of this, he became very furious. He even did not like to look at his mother and set off to the forest immediately to bring back Rama.”
Sathya Sai Speaks/ volume 32/01

On such a sacred day of Rama Navami, one should resolve to follow the teachings of Lord Rama.

Raj Selvakumar - Region 1

Please click for the video link Sri Ramanavami Divine Discourse

The Easter Story and its Significance

Jesus teaches infinite love and compassion. To resurrect love and compassion, you must kill jealousy and selfishness, and purify your hearts. Speak sweetly; shed comfort with every glance of yours. Do not be slaves to your sensual desires. Dedicate your hand to the service of mankind. Earn the true mercy of Jesus. Follow the path shown by him.
( Sathya Sai Baba,25 December 1979)

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

These words were spoken by Jesus nearly 2000 years ago and they still ring true today, two millennia later. Why did they have such a profound effect on so many people?

During Jesus’s short life of 33 years He spent the last 3 or 4 years in service to others, teaching, consoling and uplifting. Many people wanted to meet him and listen to his teachings, they wished to be healed by him and bathe in his love. Jesus performed many miracles, including the sensational raising of Lazarus from the dead, and his fame started to spread widely.

However there were some people, such as the Pharisees – these were the spiritual and political leaders at the time – as well as the temple priests who felt threatened by Jesus as they feared that their power would be diminished. They did not agree with His claim that he was the Son of God, indeed it was blasphemy to them, but they could see that the people were attracted to Jesus and they tried to find ways of silencing him.

A week before Easter Jesus and His disciples were on their way to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. This was and still is celebrated every year in commemoration of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Jesus was riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, symbolic of peace and humility. When people heard that this was happening they came out in great multitudes to greet Him with palm branches (still commemorated today on Palm Sunday). They all were eager to see him as they had heard of the many miracles he had performed. They were singing-

“Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord, Hosanna in the Highest!” (Matt 21:9) and “Blessed is the King of Israel”. It was clear by now that the crowd saw in Jesus not just a miracle-worker but the longed-for leader and King who would rid Palestine of the hated Roman rule.

On the Thursday Jesus and His Disciples had a meal together – this turned out to be their last supper. Jesus knew what was about to happen. He was aware that one of his Disciples, Judas, would betray him for 30 silver coins. He took bread and wine, gave thanks and said. ‘This is my body and my blood, given for you. Do this in future in remembrance of me.’ The re-enactment of this “Last Supper” is at the heart of the Eucharist and the Catholic Mass to this day. Swami reminded us in a discourse of this event when he said that when Jesus said the bread was His flesh and the wine His blood he meant that all beings alive with flesh and blood are to be treated as He Himself.

Jesus said that the bread taken in the "last supper" was his flesh, and the wine, his blood. He meant that all beings alive with flesh and blood are to be treated as he himself and that no distinction should be made of friend or foe, we or they. Every body is his body, sustained by the bread; every drop of blood flowing in the veins of every living being is his, animated by the activity that the wine imparted to it. That is to say, every man is Divine and has to be revered as such.
Sathya Sai Baba – 25 December 1978

At the end of the meal Jesus washed the feet of His disciples saying: ‘I have given you an example that you should do as I have done’ (John 13:15) He was showing his total humility, love and service. – Love all, serve all – as Swami so often reminded us.

In the meantime one of the disciples, Judas Iscariot, had met up with the elders and chief priests who were about to arrest Jesus for blasphemy. Judas walked towards Jesus and kissed him to identify him to the Priests. For this he received the 30 silver coins.

As the priests and elders, Jews, could not judge Jesus they brought him before Pilate, a Roman Governor, to secure the death sentence. Pilate then questioned Jesus, asking whether he was the King of the Jews, He answered that his kingdom was not of this world, that he was born to bear witness unto the truth. Pilate could not find any fault in Jesus and suggested that, as there was a custom to release a prisoner for Passover, it should be Jesus. But the crowd shouted to release a common thief not Jesus, as He had acted against Caesar by calling himself a king. By this time, most of the earlier support for Jesus seemed to have evaporated.

Pilate then relented and handed Jesus over to the Jews to be crucified on Golgatha (the place of the skull.) After much torture – a crown of thorn was put on Jesus’s head, His clothes were torn off, His body was lashed and He was nailed onto the cross with the cynical epithet written above his head ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.’

Jesus prayed to God that he might take this cup of suffering away from him, but that not his own will but God’s will should prevail. He hung on the cross for three hours while He was tortured and mocked and then with the words: ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:46), he died. At that time the temple curtain tore into two and the sky turned dark for several hours. This threatening phenomenon has been interpreted by Swami in an eye-opening revelation - the curtain of illusion falls away and the illumination of the Self-Effulgent-Sun of the Atma extinguishes all other lights.

Jesus’s body was placed in a tomb and a huge rock was rolled in front of it, so that nobody could say that he had risen, as Jesus had predicted. Guards from the temple were placed outside the cave.

On the third day after Jesus had died on the cross his mother and Mary Magdalen went to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away and that the tomb was empty. Two angels were outside and said: “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but he has risen” (Luke 24:6)
The Bible recounts that over the next 40 days Jesus appeared to the disciples on a number of occasions and showed them the wounds on His hands and feet before being “transfigured” and assumed into Heaven. In any case, the faith of the disciples, greatly shattered by the death of Jesus was wonderfully boosted by the miracle of his re-appearance. The claim that Jesus rose from the dead is one of the great tenets of Christianity and has given hope to the world indicating that there is a power greater than time, nature and maya.

We know from Swami that this is true and the great news for us as devotees, indeed for all of humanity, is that there is no death in the ultimate sense. This does not apply just to Jesus or even to Swami. The timeless all-pervading Self without which the world of appearances cannot exist is our very own essence, the truth of who we really are. Jesus was identified with that higher consciousness. It is accessible to all of us through the many paths that Swami has given us, not least the way of love and service. Then we can also proclaim the power of the Spirit over matter and exult with the disciples on that Easter morning “He is Risen”.

You are in God and God is in you. Understand this truth and act accordingly. You should be able to say with conviction that you are the spark of the Divine. You should say with courage and conviction that God is everywhere. You must fill yourself with the feeling that God is in you, beside you, around you, and with you wherever you go.
Sathya Sai Baba – 15 Jan 2000, 25 Dec 198

Gisela Robinson
Maureen O’Hara
Wandsworth, London

Please click for the video link Bhagawan Baba About Jesus

Region 1 - Eggstravganza 2015!!

For the last few years, Region 1 has been collecting Easter Eggs to be donated to local hospitals. We have always wanted to make Easter enjoyable for the patients at these hospitals during the Easter break. Last year we collected 850 eggs, inspired by a young girl, Aayushi from Brixton Sai centre, who told her parents that she would like to give her ONLY Easter egg (which was personalised) to a child in hospital. Most of the eggs are now collected by our dearest SSE children along with the support of the adults and youth.

Every story has a moment of magic as does this one. We wanted to increase the activity further this year , but ended up collecting 641 eggs only. However, Swami had a surprise in store for us. About a month ago, I mentioned this annual activity to a friend and asked him if he wanted to participate in this collection. He agreed but everything had gone a bit a quiet so I did not follow up on this. To my utter surprise, he rang and said that he had managed to collect a few eggs and asked if he could drop them off. I was astonished to find, when he turned up at my house, 224 eggs given by Croydon Gurudwara! This was a wonderful gesture indeed, and now............we had 865 eggs!! More than our expectations!

We delivered the eggs to ROYAL MARDSEN Hospital, The Children’s Trust and Mayday Hospital. All three Hospitals were overwhelmed and they responded very positively saying that this would bring a smile to the patient’s faces. Swami teaches us to ‘practise ceiling on desires’ and I feel our SSE children have worked wonderfully at this! With Swami’s divine grace we hope that we can continue this drive and collect even more eggs next year, thus bringing happiness to a lot more children.

Saish Balakrishnan
Region 1 Youth Coordinator

Region 1 - Mahashivarathri Celebrations

Our beloved Swami has said that ‘Shivarathri is a day when one tries to establish friendship between the mind and God. Shivarathri makes one aware of the fact that the same Divinity is all-pervasive, that it is to be found everywhere.’ (ref: sss vol18 ch 7).

With these noble goals in mind Region 1 celebrated Maha Shivarathri on the night of Tuesday 17th February at the Sai Mandir with programme of vedic chanting, prayers and bhajans that was hosted by Merton Sai Centre. It was a wonderful occasion as the centres and groups in the region came together to celebrate this auspicious festival. The beautiful altar adorned with flowers and garlands set the tone for the evening.

We started at 6.00pm with the Rudram and the Vedic chants followed by Linga Abishekam and Shiva prayers. A night of bhajans to uplift the soul then commenced. The centres and groups in the region took part in their allotted time slots to fill the night with bhajans. Many devotees stayed for the entire night. The highlight was the SSE children from the region coming together for the SSE bhajan slot. The bhajans continued till 5.00am when we paused for aumkar and suprabatham to greet Bhagawan at dawn. The bhajans then continued till 6.00am when the celebrations concluded with Arathi. We departed with the bhajans still resonating in our hearts.

Sakthi Shanmugathasan
Vice Chair Region 1

Region 1 - Mothers Day celebrations at Tooting Sai Centre

Tooting Sai Centre celebrated Mothers Day on Sunday 15th March. As with all other previous years, the children read a special reading to their Mothers and celebrated by doing Pranams to their Mothers.They had also very lovingly made cards for their mothers which they presented to them. It is important to inculcate these values in the tender hearts of the children from an early age in a world that is so full of secular education that the values of the old are often forgotten and discarded. It was a joyous occasion to see the tiny tots to the young adults pay their reverences to their mother.

The following extract was read out from Swami’s discourse to emphasise the importance of this occasion.

This is an extract from Swami’s discourse on the 6th May 1999.
(Sathya Sai Speaks , Volume 32, Part 1, Chapter 14)

In this world, there are many types of relationships, but none equals the relationship that exists between the mother and the child. It is because of this intimate relationship with the mother that one’s own country is called motherland. Similarly, one’s own language is called mother tongue, not father tongue.

Among the parents, the first place is given to the mother; next comes the father. Not only in day-to-day life but also in the field of spirituality, mothers and women are given the highest regard. For example, when we mention the names of Divine couples such as Sita Rama, Radha Krishna, Lakshmi Narayana, etc., the names of the goddesses come first. What is the inner significance of this? Mother represents Nature, which is the manifest aspect of Divinity.

Mother is one’s first God

Mother is given the utmost importance in human life. There may be a wicked son, but not a wicked mother. It is because of the noble feelings of the mothers that sons become virtuous, intelligent, attain exalted positions and earn name and fame. The Vedas declare: Mathru Devo bhava, pithru Devo bhava, acharya Devo bhava, atithi Devo bhava (worship the mother as God, the father as God, the preceptor as God and the guest as God.) It is the mother who fosters you and nourishes you. It is she who knows your choices and preferences and fulfils all your needs. So, be grateful to your mother always.

Though you cannot see Rama, Krishna, Siva, and Vishnu, you are worshipping them because you believe in scriptures and what the elders say. But how is that you are forgetting your parents, who are responsible for your progress in life? First and foremost, you should show gratitude to your parents, love them, and respect them. Your blood, your food, your head, your money are all the gifts of your parents. You do not receive these gifts directly from God. All that is related to God is only indirect experience. It is only the parents whom you can see directly and experience their love.
So, consider your parents as God. God will be pleased and will manifest before you only when you love and respect your parents.

It is the mother who teaches you the sacred principles like love, compassion, forbearance, tolerance, and sacrifice. Mother shows the father, father takes you to the preceptor and preceptor directs you to God. That is why among mother, father, preceptor and God, mother comes first.

The mother will always pray for the welfare of the son wherever he may be. At times, she may be angry or have a difference of opinion, but such differences
are only passing clouds. One should not disregard one’s parents yielding to the vagaries of the mind.

Respect your mother, obey her commands. Mother protects her children in many ways. Even when she is not physically present, she comes back and helps you in various ways. Never disrespect your mother or disappoint her. Do not hurt her feelings. Try to
satisfy her in all respects. Only then will the seed of devotion sprout in you. Everyone should follow the dictum, mathru Devo bhava in letter and spirit and be a recipient of his / her‘s mother's love.

May Swami continue to shower his grace on all the children and lead them on the path of righteousness, especially more so in a society that often lacks moral and spiritual wealth.

Arti Patel
Tooting Sai Centre

Region 1 - Sri Sathya Sai Orientation Day 2015

On Saturday 7th March, Region one hosted the Sathya Sai Regional Orientation Day based on the national theme 'Love is My Form: Living as Reflections of Love and Service’ at Tooting Sai Centre. The Orientation Day was open to all current office bearers and active members within Region one. There were 65 attendees in all and we were glad that the National Chairperson, Dr. Kiran Patel, National SSE coordinator Thana Yogendran, National Spiritual Coordinator, Dr. Rakendu Suren, including Region 6 Service Coordinator, Nila Murday, was able to join us on the day.

The aim of the day was to deliver information about the various regional and national projects that are planned for this auspicious 90th Year since the advent of our Lord. Another vital aim was to look at where the Regional team could provide support to the Sathya Sai centres in carrying out these service projects and also where they could help in the day-to-day activities that took place in the various centres. It was all about sharing ideas, about what works well and what could be improved.

After being offered a wonderful breakfast by the many volunteers, the Region one Orientation Day commenced with some very uplifting bhajans followed by Region one Vice-chairperson, Sakthi Shanmugathasan, opening the Orientation Day and setting the scene for the events of the day. The welcome speech was delivered by our Region one chairperson, Rajendra Krishna Manandhar, who touched upon the aim and objectives of the Sathya Sai Service Organisation founded by our beloved Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

The Wing Presentations were delivered by the Region one coordinators, Roni Ramdin (SSE), Jayesh Patel (Service), Anand Venkataraman (Spiritual) and Sai Ganesh (Youth). All the regional wing coordinators gave an overview of the events that took place in 2014 including details of the multitude of planned events in both Region 1 and Nationally that will be taking place in 2015. We were all left with excitement and a degree of buzz at the sheer numbers of events planned this year, culminating in December with the National Pilgrimage to decorate the Sai Kulwant Hall at Prashanti Nilayam.

Thereafter, Uncle Sabesan discussed the importance of the DBS clearance (known previously as the CRB) and the fact that it is not an option but a NECESSITY for all centre members who come into contact with children and vulnerable adults to have this done. It has to be validated by the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation, UK.

The SSE, Spiritual & Service wings then broke into Workshops which allowed the opportunity to discuss plans for the year ahead, current challenges and areas of improvement. Some of these included ideas (and this is by no means exhaustive) to facilitate practice of Swami's teachings, enhancing spiritual vibrations in Centres, this year's topics for Study Circles (Love & Selfless Service), Meditation workshops, English devotional songs CD, projects on Educare, Sociocare, Aquacare, Healthcare, Medicare, how to unite Youth across the UK to make 'Our Lives his Message', the 'Spread The Love-STL ' model, training in specialist projects, Nutrition, First Aiders, shared skill sets, Blood Donations, etc.

After a lovingly prepared sumptuous lunch, the afternoon session started with a Wing Breakout Review session where each coordinator shared the outcome of their discussions. This was followed by a talk from the guest speaker, UK National Chair Dr Kiran Patel where he shared his thoughts on the Organisation and Swami with us all. He said that Bhagwan's focus was on awakening the latent divinity within us and how we should try and emulate even a small fraction of Bhagwan's life which was spent in intense love and good for humanity. He reminded us of the threats that come to Swami's Organisation, both within and outside, and how we must cling to Swami's teaching and principles no matter what the circumstances.

The session concluded with some Bhajans and Aarti and we all departed with elevated thoughts and how we could all best serve in Swami's Organisation in this most auspicious 90th Year. Our thanks to Tooting Sai Centre for hosting this event and all the selfless love and Service they put into it.

Robin Pillay & Shakti Shanmugathasan
Region 1

Region 1 - YAP: Face Painting at Royal Marsden Hospital

Sunday 22nd March marked the annual walking event of the Royal Marsden March where supporters walk between 5-14 miles in honour of those loved ones suffering from cancer. The Sai Youth of Region 1 decided to do their March YAP titled ‘Spread the Love’ alongside this great event. We were scattered across three sites (Morden, Chelsea and Sutton) and were given the exciting task of face painting for both the young and young at heart. Although most of us had limited or relatively no face painting experience at all, we got stuck in and with a bit of confidence and “creative interpretation” of peoples requests we managed to pull off some pretty cool looks by the end of the day!

There was a great sense of community spirit with people getting together from all walks of life who were connected by the one common thread – having a loved one with cancer. It was a wonderful but humbling experience to be part of such an amazing event where so many people gave their time, energy and love to inspire those who were suffering and needed support. Although face painting is seen more as a bit of light hearted fun, it really was a joy to put a smile to children’s faces when they get to see how we have made them up. And it wasn’t just the children getting excited about it!

Thank you to everyone who made the day what it was – from organising transport, taking pictures, face painting or just offering moral support to the general public, everyone contributed in whatever way they could. I would urge you all to participate next year – you won’t regret it!

Nalinee Patel
31st March 2015

Region 1 - Young Adults Programme

In this month's YAP we tried to incorporate the message of “Spread the love” by performing some random acts of kindness to those we felt might need some cheering up. The location we chose was Hyde Park in Central London, a place we hoped would have people who might be more receptive to random strangers coming up to them and offering them something. The group met up outside the park at the Marble Arch and came up with a plan.

First we went to the local Sainsbury’s and purchased various items that we could give to people. These included fruits, flowers, chocolates, crisps, water and juice. Then we sat down and created some compliments charts. Each chart contained perforated sections which had compliments written on them. We pinned these charts up on locations that are easily visible in the hopes that people would look at them and tear a section off to give to a loved one, hopefully making their day.

So far everything was going according to plan, but it was when we started giving out the items that we hit a snag. Try as we might, almost no one would take anything from us. We only managed to give out the flowers completely, whereas the food and drink was left virtually untouched. It was then that we arrived at a conclusion. In this western world we have been conditioned to never accept anything from strangers for free. If someone were to approach us with free items we automatically get suspicious.

Having realised that we would never be able to distribute the food to the general public, we approached some police officers just getting off duty, who were grateful for our contribution. Finally we decided to find homeless people around the area and offer the food to them. On our search, a group of women, who live in homeless shelters found us, and asked for the rest of our food, as they had many children between them, we therefore happily gave them the rest. However, these women, also asked us if we could get them some more items. In the nature of the moment, we decided to lovingly oblige. We agreed to buy some, baby milk formula, and nappies for them. The ladies, then asked us to buy more items, however we had come to the end of our allocated time for the day, and we had already gone over our allocated amount of items, so we had to lovingly decline any more service and part ways.

This was a very interesting experience for us, even though we felt great helping people in need, we also felt a feeling of pressure, being directly asked for specific items, and being put on the spot. We then realised that this is the reason why Swami has clearly stated many times not to ask people for money. This is why when doing service, we shouldn’t have any limits to our levels of service, however we should always be fully aware of our own capacity, so we can comfortably do our service without incurring any extra burdens in our lives.

Before concluding our session, we theorised that if we were to do this again, we would set up a stall instead of approaching people ourselves. After all it is a lot easier when someone comes up to you, rather than when you have to go up to them.

Raghav Viswanathan
Wimbledon Sai Centre

Region 2 - Sathsang

Region 2 Sathsang inspires and recharges devotees

Region 2 came together on 22nd March to recharge and recommit themselves to Swami’s divine mission on this most important 90th advent year.

The programme took place at the Canons High school, the weekly meeting place for the Sathya Sai Centre of Harrow East.

The programme began at 12:30pm with a welcoming address from Region 2 Chair Sister Gayatri Bikoo followed by the 2014 diary of regional events by Sister Bharti Raja, vice chair who concluded her talk by saying practice makes perfect.

Each of the wing coordinators then presented their plans for 2015 including Brothers Suresh Sajnani, Jay Mistry and Shankaran Peethakaran regional coordinators for the spiritual, service and youth wings respectively as well as sister Shyama Jeyaseelan; SSE coordinator for the region. All four wing coordinators reiterated the importance of this year and the plans going forward were outlined as follows:

Spiritual - How to sustain the blissful feelings after a melodious bhajan session and live as reflections of love. Specific objectives for 2015
• Meditation Training for all Spiritual Coordinators
• General Training for Spiritual coordinators
• Rekindle Interfaith Presentations or information Packs
• R2 Chanting day/Lakshacharna
• Continue to support our national projects for English Bhajans and Sathya Sai Speaks recordings.

Seva - Service is a life program which knows no rest or respite. Project 90, as our Tribute to Bhagwan on his 90th Birthday will be based along the 5 streams of Educare, Socio Care, Aqua Care, Enviro Care and Health Care. Together with the on-going service activities, region 2 will take up the following two projects:
Enviro Care – Environment in the UK
Tree planting/clearing
Recycling at all levels, at home at centres/groups, at events etc.
Cleaning; Streams, parks, streets
Educare – Education, overseas
Establish needs through Sai centres in the area
Provide Education equipment
Adopt a school

Youth - Beacons of Love and service. There is a youth lead for the SSE, Service and Spiritual wings. YAPs activities are planned bi-monthly and service activities with Food bank, Refuge UK and Easter Egg collection for children at local hospitals continue. A Youth Symposium will be held in region 1 on Saturday.

SSE - Six centres out of twelve have SSE classes. Altogether there are 178 children supported by 39 teachers. Activities for 2015 included the Maha Shivaratri celebrations where the SSE children took part in Vedam chanting.

The SSE wing will be involved in the Youth Led Easter Egg collection, National Sathtya Sai Human Value Day, Eeswaramma Day, Family Values Day on 12 July, Farm visits in August, Summer pilgrimage and SSE conference in Prasanthi Nilayam, regional training day, Akhanda Bhajan, Swami’s Birthday Celebrations, Christmas celebrations and Christmas Shoe boxes for children in need.

The 2015 Calendar of Opportunities was followed by a reflection from a centre chair, Brother Pratap Thakkar, of the Sathya Sai centre of Harrow West who spoke eloquently on the role of the centres which were established to help imbibe the five principles of love, truth, peace, right action and non-violence in our daily practise and self inquiry. He further explained how centres are not individual unit but the heart of this global Divine organisation. It is imperative to work in unity with teams at all levels in order to bring out the inherent Divinity in us. He referred to centres as the branch of a tree which will only flourish and bear fruit if the branch remains part of that tree.

We were also reminded to recognise that we are all one family from an ancestry evolved from Swami, himself and concluded with this ‘Love All, Serve All’ quote from Swami:

That day alone is a true day
When all good devotees gather to pray to the Lord;
When people serve the poor and the needy in a spirit of brotherliness;
When a feast is offered to the servants of the Lord who sing His glories;
When holy men visit our homes and relate the exploits of the Lord;
All other days are days of mourning.
(SSS 29.18: May 29, 1996.)

Then National Chair Dr Kiran Patel delivered a powerful address to the congregation about the great privilege of being involved in the Sai mission. He told the audience we must make the most of this divine opportunity to not just serve in the Sai mission but to be walking examples of Swami’s love – the quality that defines him and makes him who he is – the Poorna Avatar of this present age.

The talks were then followed by two workshops entitled ‘Love is my Form’ and ‘Living as Reflections of Love and Service’ facilitated by Sister Priya Kotecha from Sathya Sai Centre of Harrow East and Brother Rajesh Ramanaidoo from Sathya Sai Centre of Harrow West respectively.

Both workshops were interactive and provided a great opportunity to refresh Swami’s teachings on Love and Service including how to develop the divine Love that Swami talks about, and how this Love should be the basis of all service activities that the organisation undertakes for it to be truly called selfless service. In the second workshop the audience learnt about the need for love underpinning all the ways in which we communicate not just with those in the organisation, but those outside of it as well.

The audience worked together on communication scenarios that could surface within the organisation and how these could be resolved through a variety of techniques such as; the need to listen, understand, learn from mistakes and bring love, honesty and harmony to the situation as well as to all those concerned.

This was followed by bhajans, mangala araathi and vibhuti mantra to bring a truly inspiring programme to a close. At the end Brother Kiran Mistry, chair for Sathya Sai Centre of Harrow East thanked all those who attended and reiterated the need to make the most of this blissful opportunity we all have as Sai devotees to not only serve in Swami’s mission but to be transformed by it ourselves into walking examples of love and service.

All in all, it seemed everyone walked away having learnt something new and inspired to put into practice what they had learnt in the days and weeks to come.

Of course there is no way that having an event dedicated to the very essence of Swami's life and teachings would go unnoticed by our dearest Lord. His presence was felt even mre so by vibhuti being materialised on a large picture of Swami's Mahasamaadhi at the altar.

Priya Kotecha and Gayatri Bikoo

Region 2 - Slough Mahashivarathri Celebration

By Mounika Naralasetti SSE student

The Maha Shivarathri celebrations at our centre were done exceptionally well. The bhajans, vedam chanting, Shiva Panchakashari Stotram, Lingastakam and a short sketch by SSE students, brought an atmosphere of Divine presence.

We started off with the short but meaningful sketch by the students. It was about the importance of every aspect in Shivaratri e.g. the name Neelkantaya Namah [drinking of poison to save the creation, significance of offering of bilva leaves, Mrutyumjaya Mantra and various names of Lord Shiva] and what it contributes on helping our prayers reach Lord Shiva. Each student took a turn in saying one important aspect of Shivaratri.

After the play we followed in to the vedam chanting. This is a very sacred chant in Sanskrit. This is very special to Lord Shiva as every word in the vedam describes the glory and beauty of the Lord. Lord Shiva is easily pleased and so in chanting the vedam he fulfils our prayers.

Vedam chanting was continued by the Shiva Panchakshari Stotram and Lingastakam. There were also other chants which sing the glory of Lord Shiva. These two chanting’s are also in Sanskrit and the students all know the meaning of each word.

Bhajans were after all the chanting. As it was Maha Shivarathri, all the bhajans were about Lord Shiva. They were sung beautifully and so devotionally that soon the centre was filled with vibrations from Baba and Shiva. One of the students, Murali Radhakrishnan, sang a simple, sweet bhajan.

We ended the celebrations with a thought of the day, from Prashanti, by Mounika Naralasetti. It was about how to attain happiness in the mind, and concluding the meaning of Shivaratri.

I would like to say on behalf of me and my fellow students, a big thank you to Joe uncle, Sai Krishna uncle, Anish uncle and Sai uncle for using their time to teaching us the vedam with such devotion and patience. We couldn’t have done it without you all. I would also like to say a very big thank you to Madhuri Aunty for teaching us the Shiva Panchakashari and Lingastakam in the time of two days, without your help we couldn’t have done it. And last but not least, Roja Aunty, Bharathi Aunty and Madhuri Aunty for all the hard work you put in arranging the classes well.

JAI SAI RAM

Region 2 - YAP: Ashton Lodge and Meera Nursing Home Visit

Region 2 re-launched YAP this year based on the theme, ‘Service with Love.’ In line with our theme, we decided to put love in action by visiting 2 nursing homes and spend time with the elderly. They have given us so much and for us to be able to show our love and gratitude was truly graceful.

The first nursing home was Ashton Lodge, where we spent time with the elderly playing bingo and generally giving them company. The second part of the day was at Meera Nursing Home where the youth came together to sing bhajans for the elderly. We also had a bhajan practice the day before, to ensure we could render our bhajans with love, and it was surely a blissful day.

My personal opinion of the day Region 2 Youth spent with the members of Ashton Lodge and Meera Nursing homes is that it was a stilling, humbling and powerful experience. I spend most of my life at Uni now, barely making it home at weekends to attend bhajans at the Sai Centre, but spending the day with my brothers and sisters in the region was something amazing for a number of reasons. It reminded me of how three-dimensional the world was – we’re never alone in our own suffering, or struggles, or personal setbacks; there are people alongside us who also need a friend sometimes, and giving them something as simple as a hand to hold or a buddy to play bingo with reminds us not only of the power we have to bring fun and games to a stranger’s life, but also the difference a little love and hope can make on our own negative ponderings. Love, hope and a little service is all Swami has ever wanted from us; that’s all he will continue to ask of us. And if we can be brave enough to surrender to those small gestures, suddenly our day begins to change. We begin to breathe a new kind of life, and see the world from a new, humbling perspective.

When you attend and host events like these in the name of Service – on behalf of other individuals, for their own benefit – it’s easy to believe you’re helping out the lesser man, that you’re doing them a favour. But if anything, spending the day with women and men I’ve never seen before in my life, the pride and positivity with which some of them hold themselves and the lessons they’ve taught us through something as simple as a friendship between two ladies who don’t even speak the same language, has reminded me how easily our judgments are based on nothing but our own ignorance. Some of these people have lived the most inspiring lives and continue to keep moving when they only have themselves for support. And I’m thankful to Swami for allowing me to witness this kind of strength and example first-hand, receiving their smiles and love when all I’ve done is turn up, sit with them, and sing a few bhajans.

I thoroughly look forward to the next time we visit, and what other lessons we may be blessed with in exchange for a few hours of our time. Thank you for the experience, Swami, and for continuing to inspire us through your service, and love.

Dharpana Premachandra
Youth, Harrow West Centre

Region 2 – Harrow West Shivarathri Celebrations

Shiva Ratri is one of the festivals that we all look forward to celebrating each year. The prospect of chanting the Lingastakam and offering bilva leaves to the lingam brings excitement to everyone and devotees perform this with a lot of love and devotion.

A lot of love, planning and hard work had gone into setting up the altar making it unique. Swami’s picture was projected on a large Shiva Ling and strings of hand made garlands, lamps and the ethereal blue-litbackground gave the feeling of our Sai Shiva’s presence in the Himalayas.

The program started with 3 AUMs and the abhishekam was performed with 11items (water, oil, pancha kavyam, milk, honey, fruit juice, coconut water, sugarcane juice, chandanam, vibhuti, water from the kalasham). In between each Abhishekam, one anuvaka of Sri Rudram was chanted reverberating the hall with vibrations.

While bilvastakam was being chanted, devotees offered bilva leaves to the Lingam.

The program continued with the chanting of Shiva panchakshari and Lingastakam followed by bhajan singing.

In the end, panchamrit was served to all. The icing on the cake had to be the delicious badam milk, which reminded us of Lord Shiva’s favorite drink. A very heartfelt thank you to all our Sai brothers and sisters in making all the arrangements with such devotion and details, which certainly made the occasion memorable.

Hemant Panda
Spiritual Coordinator

Region 3 - Sathya Sai Orientation Conference

On Saturday 14 March, Region 3 held its Orientation Conference at the Ilford Sai Centre – Seven Kings High School from 09:30 – 14:00. This conference was organised by the youth of Region 3 with strong support from the Regional Committee. The regional conference focussed upon the theme of ‘Love is My Form: Living as Reflections of Love and Service’ building upon the National conference.

A total of 64 devotees attended the event with representation from 11 of the 18 centres and Groups in Region 3. This was an important event in our Sai Calendar and both our UK Chair Dr Kiran Patel and Vice Chair Dr Veeru Rao attended.

In the meeting with Centre Chairs the question was raised on how to re-engage with the Local English Sai Devotees. It was agreed to setup a task force to identify solutions. Centre Chairs agreed that:
• They would meet monthly for an hour via conference call to share ideas and improve communications.
• Support the creation of a Special Project group comprising a pool of active workers who can take responsibility for projects in the Region.

The youth facilitators wonderfully led the workshops making them fun and practical so that devotees could relate the key messages to their daily lives and be able to easily practice Swami’s message on Love and Selfless Service. The workshops paved the way for the afternoon session where the Regional wing coordinators discussed the plans for 2015 with Centre wing coordinators.

Wing Updates:

Service:

The Service Wing Coordinators arranged themselves in to 2 groups to review and contribute to:
• Current service activities to be carried out in the Regions/Centres
• Plan a number of activities for the year in 2015

The discussions highlighted the importance of the service coordinators’ role within the centre and the responsibility to help everyone engage in National, Regional and local service activities; to regularly review their activities; to identify needs for further training and explore opportunities to expand the services delivered.

Proposals for future activities are as follows:

• Establish Leads from regions to respond immediately and to provide help when required by the National teams.
• Overseas Service Projects – investigate areas where there is a need not currently met under Educare and initiate a project in conjunction with national teams with a view to assist at an international level.
• Enviro Care – contact local authorities and agencies to pick up litter, tree planting etc. as potential service opportunities.
• Continue with ongoing activities such as supporting Food Banks, Refuge UK, providing meals at the Night Shelter, hymn singing for the Aged, etc.
• Registration and participation in Christmas Decorations in Prasanthi Nilayam.

All present left in the full understanding that we had a role to play, to be reflections of our Master Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, in the way we carry out service and in full knowledge that this was the essence of spirituality.

Spiritual:

Centre Spiritual Coordinators were encouraged to hold frequent Study Circle discussions using the pre-World Conference study material based upon Love and Service in preparation for the pre-world Conference in July 2015. The theme is: "Love is my Form" and the same material is used by all countries in preparation for the pre-World and World conferences. Some Centres have already started using the material in their Study Circle discussions and others are encouraged to start in earnest.

Centres are encouraged to practice meditation either before or after the Bhajans. If required, the guided meditation CD will be used, especially given that Swami has made it the 1st point in the Code of Conduct.

Regionally we are aspiring to introduce a balance of English and non-English Bhajans at centres in accordance with the National objectives. A National English Bhajan database is being created with Bhajans submitted by Centres.

A regional multifaith panel discussion is planned in October. Centres are encouraged to join their local interfaith groups. A number of centres are actively involved with their local interfaith communities.

SSE:

It was heartening to see so many SSE teachers gathered together to represent more than seven centres in the region. We began the wing meeting by discussing how fortunate region 3 is, being a region with circa 300 children enrolled in the SSE programme across the region. There was excitement about the National Easwaramma Day celebrations on the 2nd May 2015; the feedback from all the teachers was that the co-ordinated activity that is being undertaken across the country in preparation for NED was having a positive impact on the students. We discussed that this year was a very special year for SSE with the SSE National Pilgrimage (Sai Mahima programme) 28th July – 6th August and the international SSE conference in Prasanthi Nilayam scheduled 1-3 August 2015.

Finally, we discussed the needs of the SSE wing at centre level and the programmes we will take forward as a region this year to support those needs. We are fortunate that there appears to be a great team of SSE teachers and we pray that Swami guides us in a way that He would have wanted us to serve Him.

Youth:

A video (Christmas discourse, 1997) was shown at the beginning, in which Swami emphasised on the aspect of Love, and how this is expressed in service.

Questions were asked of the youth, in terms of what they expected, what they wished to see and
service activities they wanted to undertake in the region. Were they happy with the 'YAP sessions' that had taken place so far, and whether any changes needed to be done? But mainly, what inter-ested them!

It was agreed that that the Monthly Narayana Seva was now an established routine Service activi-ty, for the youth, which could be developed further e.g. by cooking the food. This led to discussion and generated ideas on what cooking to undertake such as soup, etc. Discussion extended to 'workshops' on these, and whether these workshops or service activities could serve as YAP ses-sions.

YAP for 2015 has been encouraged, to be focussed upon service. Youth will be encouraged to lead the 'National Youth Symposium' and aspects of the 'pre-world Conference.

Youth Coordinators have an opportunity to work more collaboratively with members from other Centres.

Kapil Dev Prashar / Kamal Arulvel – Region 3

Region 3 - Sathya Sai Orientation Conference from a youth perspective

The region 3 conference which welcomed people from all across the region was held in Ilford. There was a continuation of the theme from the national conference with the title: Love Is My Form, Living as Reflections of Love and Service.

Following the opening prayers, everybody in attendance split into their respective workshop groups. The key topic of the workshops was “Swami’s Love.” This was a very simplistic topic that was assembled and addressed by the youth of the region. The facilitators examined this topic, breaking it down in a manner in which every person was able to connect by making recollections about the love they had received from Swami. The first question raised was “Give a time when you have felt Swami’s love and what did it make you feel?” There was a range of responses from devotees. For instance, one devotee said “Swami answering their prayers gave them goose bumps and energy.” Another said “Swami looked into their eyes while giving Darshan giving them a feeling of immense and pure happiness, making them smile.” This led on to the topic of what we can do with this love or feeling? Devotees concluded that they could spread this feeling in a various ways. Carrying out service, complimenting someone, make someone else happy, or just smiling were identified as mechanisms for spreading this feeling.

To conclude the workshop devotees were presented with two case studies about certain centre situations in which they had to provide an assessment of how they would react and respond to such situations. The first scenario depicted a centre failing to follow through with a seva opportunity and postponing it to a further date. Homeless feeding was the seva opportunity. A volunteer at the homeless feeding centre then complains to one of the Sai devotees that it took too long for the Sai Centre to come and help, and this is not the way Swami operates! The majority of devotees’ reaction to this scenario if in the position of the devotee was to get angry or to argue back that a lot of effort had been put in. The key answer for me, however, was what Veeru Uncle mentioned. Taking a completely different perspective of the incident, he asked why do we want to get angry? Why do we want to react? He said, it is because we think that WE are doing the work and therefore when criticised, we take it as a personal attack. We must remind ourselves that we are merely instruments of the Lord. Swami is doing the work, Swami is the orchestrator. We have to detach from the work we do. Uncle further reiterated his stance by using another example. He said if somebody tells Sahil that he played Tabla poorly today, he will get upset. Why? Because he would be under the impression that he has played the Tabla! This is wrong. Swami has played the Tabla, and when somebody tells you that you have not done well, you should tell Swami, “Swami, I tried my very best” and then let it go. Do not be attached.

After the workshops there was an opportunity for some reflection amongst devotees. Gathering again in the main hall, feedback was presented on the key points from their individual workshops. A short comfort break followed this after which the wing meetings commenced. Being a former youth coordinator, I attended the youth wing meeting. Issues were discussed with regards to youth numbers within the Sai centre as well as ways that we as a region could be united through activities. The key ideas proposed were: day retreats, sports activities such as sports day, study circles on topics similar to the workshop and service activities like Easter egg collection.

The take home message for the conference was how to take Swami’s love in the various ways that we as individuals had received it and best bring it and spread it to those around us, be it through service or how we go about our daily lives. Remembrance of how much love Swami is able to give to so many people is crucial as we can then implement this within our everyday interactions and behaviour.

Jai Sai Ram

Sahil Kotecha
Youth, Hatfield Centre

Region 4 - Sathya Sai Orientation Conference from a youth perspective

Swami has placed emphasis on the importance of being in the company of good people. When like-minded people collaborate and share experiences, insights and thoughts, a spectacle is created. Those willing to take part all get their share of this spectacle. During the 2015 Region 4 conference held in Leicester, devotees from the Midlands were able to come together to do exactly this. The event revolved around breakout sessions for the various wings and included speakers during the introduction and conclusion sessions. What personally stood out for me were Veeru uncle’s remarks on acting immediately, without hesitation when your help is needed, even if at 4am, and not complain if there is not enough time to conduct the activity. Having that urge to help without reservations would indeed be a remarkable quality to have.

As youth coordinator at Leicester Central I attended the youth session. Commencing with an icebreaker on learning about each youth’s favourite quotation from Swami, the breakout session was an engaging opportunity to reflect on what hinders us from taking part in Sai activities. These mainly revolved around academic, work and family duties. However it provided an apt platform to step back and assess how we can make the effort to involve ourselves in such activities based on our individual interests, resources and availability. It was thought provoking to bring to light the number of hours that we wasted in a day, which we could easily divert towards service or centre activities. For me though, the ultimate message was that there are always means through which we can do Swami’s work, for as Swami says “if you do my work, I will do your work.” We additionally had a fruitful discussion on potential long term service activities for the youth. I personally hope that us youth can aid the facilitation of these projects and make them come to life.

It goes without saying though that at such events one can become overwhelmed with a plethora of teachings, messages and advice. I certainly can become confounded about what to and how to incorporate such ideas into my life on a long term basis. However, even if we just take away a single thought and implement it in our daily lives, this is sufficient to act as our initial steps towards pleasing him.

Dixa Thakrar
Leicester Central Youth Coordinator

As a newly joined Youth coordinator I was quite nervous and not really knew what to expect.
I will try to explain my view and thought of the day and a general view of the day. The day started with a really good introduction and some thoughts and a lot of good stories which were shared by various devotees. This for me was the best “boost” I could get to start my day.

Especially, when Veeru Bhai started telling about Swami’s teachings and how we actually should implement the teachings in our daily lives. I believe this was a good foundation and even a summary of what we experienced for the full day and what we were supposed to learn from the day.

IT was really nice to see how we as the youth worked as a group and brought together some practices and learning methods to see how we can learn more of Swami tries to teach us. I personally believe that it was good to see how we in our daily lives can use his teachings and how we can bring it to others as well. Our induction programme was quite good to know more about each other and we learned about our interest. We further with small activities used Swami’s teachings in the group and in an interactive way saw what everybody’s view was.

I believe overall that the regional meeting was something which we can take for the coming months to our centres and explain to all who were not able to come. I believe that the day could be nicely summarised by pointing out to keep on reading and listing to swami’s discourses and act.
I hope we can have more of these nice meetings, with hopefully more youth, more people to share their story and experiences,

Sai ram

Vinayak Ramcharan
Deputy Youth Coordinator Birmingham Centre.

Region 5 - Regional Orientation Conference

Swami kept the snow away as devotees travelled from Newcastle, Sandbach, Bolton, Leeds, Oldham, Macclesfield, Halifax and across the region on a bright morning in Bradford to take part in our Region 5 Orientation Conference on Sunday 22nd February 2015. We were joined by Dr Kiran Patel , SSSSOUK National Chairperson .

The day started with bhajans and beautiful darshan of Swami.
This was the first event led by our newly appointed and energetic Regional Team.

Dr Vijayanand Nadella , Region 5 chairperson welcomed Dr Kiran Patel and the rest of the office bearers and active workers. He said that this orientation conference is an opportunity for all the active workers to come together and focus our approach godward.
Swami said , Samsthalu ( Centres) are not important. Samathvam ( Unity) is more important.
Unity is Divinity. He concluded that all the centres within the region should work with unity and intensity.

Dr Kiran Patel addressed the audience and expressed concerns regarding the threats coming from within the organisation. He cautioned devotees not to fall prey to claims made by certain individuals with vested interests.
He highlighted the enormous responsibility of the office bearers in safeguarding the interests of the devotees. He said that Prasanthi has granted a special opportunity for UK devotees to decorate the Sai Kulwanth hall for this christmas and we should all grab this life time opportunity.

The regional team then facilitated two excellent workshops on “love and service” and “living as reflections of love.”

The workshop materials were beautifully put together – the quotes, videos, scenarios and interactive sessions moved and inspired us as well as giving us plenty to think about. There was something for everyone to learn and to take away and I want to share with you some of the key things we learnt from our regional conference.

The first workshop was on LOVE. I’ve selected the slide below as it was one that really made us think deeply. We wanted to print this slide and use it every day, in our centres, with SSE children, and use it like a ‘7 point code of love!’ We had a good discussion about the word ‘intensity.’

Discussion on the last point and how service kills ego and confers infinite bliss, led us nicely to the second part of the workshop. The Sai Organisation is here for us to learn who we really are. We are all sparks of the divine and our body is here only to serve others. We shared our experience of service activities and how we felt the activities met the points in the slide below.

The second workshop was titled Reflections of Love and covered the importance of communication. The chosen scenarios were very good and we all identified with something from them. We looked at how communication is about sharing love, information and understanding. Look at Swami as an example – he talks to so many people but he still has that same smile and makes sure everyone is comfortable. Smiles should be cornerstone of our communication and love should be at the heart of every communication. Why? Because...

Love in word is truth
Love in action is right conduct
Love in thought is peace
Love in feeling is non violence

The words we use are very important and we have to be careful as office bearers and active workers that our words don’t do damage. We all found using THINK very useful for communication...

Think ...
Is it True
Will it Hurt anyone
Will it Improve on the silence
Is it Necessary
Is it Kind

How to improve communication? The simplest and most powerful technique is to remember we are speaking to Swami himself. Personally, I found the choice of the word ‘remember’ very important. Not to imagine, or to think, but to remember we are speaking to Swami himself.

A big thank you to our regional team for facilitating the day. Everyone left feeling lifted, inspired and ready to start on our journeys during this auspicious 90th year of the advent of our dear sweet Swami.

Sanjay Vaja
Sai Centre of Greater Manchester

Region 6 - Coordinated Activities for National Easwaramma Day 2015

This year is an important one : it is the 90th year of The Advent of our Beloved Lord Sai . To emphasise the importance of this , and to reinforce this important value in our lives- the SSE wing has planned a series of coordinated activities nationally .This is in keeping with the theme of Love which is the main focus for the year ahead.

As Swami Says : “Love is the unseen undercurrent biding all the four values. It can be summarised thus : Love in thoughts is Sathya (Truth ); Love in feelings is Shanthi
( Peace ); Love in action is Dharma (Righteousness) and Love in understanding is Ahimsa (Non -violence). Love is the common denominator for all these values. It is the form of God, for God is Love.”

The first of these coordinated activities is the focus on “Love is My Form” , leading up to National Easwaramma Day in May , and this activity has been taken up mainly by the SSE children and Gurus and parents (if they want to ). The aim of the activity is for each one of us to experience and become that Love ;that Love is also my form .
Each child has been provided with 90 cards with “Love is My Form because ……” printed at the top of the card . Each time they do or practice something good, helpful, kind ; go out of their way to make someone feel happy and when they themselves feel good and happy, then they are experiencing “love is my form” . They then record each practice on one card , and place in it a special box that they have decorated during class time.

In Region 6 this activity was carried out in all the centres with enthusiasm, and the children have diligently been carrying out this activity daily . There has been positive feedback from the children , Gurus and parents.
I, myself , have also been doing this task , and I find that it is helping me to analyse my day and making me more aware of how I conduct myself ,thus reinforcing this positive aspect of the activity . I certainly look forward everyday in filling out the cards.

Rochester & Farnborough

Farnborough & Eastbourne

The year ahead will be certainly hold more coordinated activities , that help to reinforce important values and lessons in our daily lives .

As Swami says : “ God is Love and can be won only through the cultivation and exercise of Love. He cannot be trapped by any trick ; He yields Grace only when His commands are followed-command to love all , serve all. Love is God, God is love. Live with Love , move with Love, speak with Love, think with Love, act with Love -this is the most fruitful Sadhana. Love is the core of the Atma. Love is selflessness. Love brings people together. Love is the solvent for the hardest hearts. Love is the strongest antidote for greed. Love will destroy the roots of the ego.”

Nuleen Panday
Region 6 SSE coordinator

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