May 2014 Edition

Quote

Buddha taught that we should not have anger, not find others’ faults, and also not harm others, because all are the embodiments of the pure and eternal principle of the Atma. Have compassion towards the poor and help them to the extent possible. You think those who do not have food to eat are poor people. You cannot call someone poor just because they do not have money or food to eat. Truly speaking, nobody is poor. All are rich, not poor. Those whom you consider as poor may not have money, but all are endowed with the wealth of a loving heart (hridaya). Understand and respect this underlying principle of unity and Divinity in all, and experience bliss. Do not have narrow onsiderations like ‘these are my friends, they are my enemies, those are my relations’ and so on. All are one, be alike to everyone. This is the most important teaching of Buddha. Divine Discourse, May 13, 2006.

~ Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Events

Sai Smaran Bhajans

Articles

"Think of God and you will become a good Leader"

National Easwaramma Day 2014

National Easwaramma Day Celebrations

Region 1 - Easwaramma Day Celebrations at Tooting

Region 1 - Lewisham Centre: Maha Samadhi Day

Region 1 - Regional Easwaramma Day Celebrations

Region 1 - Volunteering at ‘The Passage’ for the Homeless

Region 1 - Young Adults Programme

Region 1 - Youth-led Easter “Eggstravaganza”

Region 2 - Young Adults Programme: Ceiling on Desires

Region 2 - Harrow West Sai Centre: Maha Samadhi Day Celebrations

Region 2 - London West Sai Centre Easwaramma Day Celebrations

Region 2 - Slough Sai Centre Easwaramma Day Celebrations

Region 3 - Bhajan Workshop

Region 3 - Youth-led Easter "Eggstravaganza"

Region 3 – Food Distribution at the Strand

Region 4 - Rugby Centre: Maha Samadhi Day

Region 4 - Sai Cinema

Region 5 - Bolton Sai Centre Paduka Pooja

Region 5 - Maha Samadhi Day

Region 5 - Youth Easter Egg Seva

Sathya Sai National Human Values Day 2014

Sathya Sai National Human Values Day 2014: Reflections 1

Sathya Sai National Human Values Day 2014: Reflections 2

Editorial

Dear Love and Light Readers,
Sai Ram to you!

For the millions of devotees world-wide, April has become a month of reflection, an occasion to ruminate over Avathars (Descent of God on Earth, the Incarnation of Formless with Form), their Purpose, Mission and Message.

We celebrated Srirama Navami denoting the birth of Lord Rama on 8th April. This was celebrated with great spiritual fervour in many Sathya Sai Centres around the UK and the world over. As Baba had revealed, Rama had thought, word, deed ever pure and totally free from blemish. He was Dharma (righteousness) personified; there was therefore no question of Him following Dharma. What He thought, spoke and did was Dharma. Rama’s Message for humanity was to become good and help others to unfold their goodness; as humans, to expand our human values to the utmost and to promote these traits in society to help others.

Devotees around the globe were immersed in prayers and in contemplation expressing their gratitude on the 24th April as they commemorated the third anniversary of our Lord, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba transcending to the formless. It is His sheer Grace that has given devotees the strength to come to terms with His physical absence and to continue living His legacy reflecting His Message of Love.

One is reminded of the words of the mighty warrior Arjuna, lamenting the loss of Lord Krishna when He departed the planet,

"We cannot sense the mystery of His Play. We have failed to understand it. There is no profit in worrying over that failure, now. With that deluding Human Form, He moved with us, mixed with us, dined with us, behaved as if He was our Kinsman and well-wisher, our friend and guide, and saved us from many a calamity that threatened to overwhelm us. He showered His Divine Mercy on us and solved for us the toughest problems that defied solution, in remarkably simple ways. During all this time that He was near and dear to us, we were carried away by pride that we had His Grace; we did not try to fill ourselves with that Supreme Joy, to dive deep into the Flood of His Grace. We sought from Him mere external victory and temporal benefits. We ignored the vast Treasure with which we could have filled our hearts. We never contemplated on His Real Reality." Bhaghavatha Vahini, Chapter 10

In the UK, the organisation remembered this important day as the National Sathya Sai Human Values Day to commemorate His Life and Message which was celebrated on the 26th April with great enthusiasm by devotees from around the country who participated in the programme together with representatives of various religions at the prestigious venue of Watford Colloseum.

May opened its doors with the celebration of ‘Children’s Day’ - the National Easwaramma Day which was observed on the 3rd May which brought parents and children of all ages from around the country together to be One with Him.

With much anticipation and excitement, we look forward to our First Sadhana Meeting on the 18th May at Watford in preparation of our National Pilgrimage ‘Sai Samarpanam – One with Sai’. There is still the opportunity to join the pilgrimage: http://www.srisathyasai.org.uk/national-programmes/NP2014/registration/registration.php

And finally we have the Sai Smaran Bhajans, yet another chance to sing His Glory and be One with Him in London on Saturday 31st May.

Dr Kiran Patel,
Chairman, Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (UK)

"Think of God and you will become a good Leader"

Throughout the ages, great and mighty leaders have walked upon the earth, who have led people to far off lands and civilisations, to freedom and more importantly to seek out Divinity in whichever name and form is most dear to them.

We have been extremely fortunate that Swami has lived with us and continues to live with us. During His life, every thought, every word and every action of Swami’s was an important lesson in ideal leadership. Swami led an exemplary life and taught us all how we should become good and ideal Leaders.

There is a common misconception amongst our fellow devotees that in order to be a leader, one must have position, a title, name or fame. This is not the case. Swami has continually extolled each and every one of us to become leaders. However, to become His leaders we must first become His servants. He requires nothing else!

Swami is pleased when our leadership is motivated by love for others. We must always ensure that we practice our leadership with love. Being motivated by love for others is certainly necessary, but it must be paired with practising our leadership in love. In other words, we must lead in a loving way. When we lead lovingly, the people we lead are encouraged, built up, and strengthened as individuals and as a part of the family of Sai.

Back in the late 1980s, I had the good fortune to interact with Swami. In that meeting Swami asked us to become good leaders and lead with love and compassion. I remember saying to Swami that I did not know how to become a leader, to which Swami mischievously replied, “Think of me all the time and you will become a leader!” I did what He said and thought of Him all the time, day and night, and I am very grateful to Him for all the wonderful and amazing leadership experiences He continues to bless me with. Even now Swami continues to lead me on a most unique journey of spiritual transformation. However, my story is not a unique story as we have all been touched by a Divine Master. We are all on this journey together, each with our own unique story and unique experiences. Swami has said we are all His leaders as long as we try to be good leaders.

Swami then continued to tell us that to be a good leader takes many years. It is not something that can be taught in a short space of time, through books or lectures. It must be practised, it must be experienced and it must come from the heart. In that meeting, Swami told us that Spiritual leadership must emanate from the heart whereas worldly leadership nowadays comes from the head. Therefore, if we make Swami our only role model, if we put into practice His teachings, if we look to Him for inspiration and guidance, He has promised He will mould us into ideal Sai leaders.

During the World Youth Conference in 2007, you would have heard about or fortunate enough to witness Swami distributing thousands and thousands of his robes to the 6,000 youth assembled in Sai Kulwant hall. On the day we were to leave, Swami called us in for a final meeting. In that meeting we thanked Swami for the gift of the sacred robes to which Swami asked us to tell the youth to keep the robes in their prayer room or under their pillow and that He will guide. Swami even went as far as to say that even if they did not get a robe, if they still thought of Him, Swami would guide and protect them. How fortunate were those 6,000 leaders, how fortunate are we all that Swami continues to guide, instruct and help us to become good leaders.

Swami many times has said that good leaders should always see themselves as children of God, created to experience the love of God deeply and personally and to live out their calling in love. The more leaders think like this, the more they will be able to function powerfully and effectively from a deeply spiritual base. The basic image is one of a deep well, filled with clean, refreshing water that flows freely to all those who tap into its source. The more leaders become deep spiritual wells, the more they will be capable of meeting the incredible challenges in today’s world and of leading others to greater depth, wholeness, and fruitfulness.

Throughout my journey with Swami, those closest to me, know of the many tests and obstacles that have come my way. Swami has often said “tests are my taste!”. However, every time I think of Him, every time I pray to Him and dive deep into that well of His pure love, the problems and obstacles have simply melted away. Therefore, good leaders today need many skills, abilities and resources to lead effectively. But the most important ingredient for those called to lead is spiritual depth and vitality, with an ability to let Swami work through them in their leadership role.

Shitu Chudasama,
Member, Publications Division
Prasanthi Council

National Easwaramma Day 2014

On 3rd of May 2014 the national celebrations for Eswaramma Day took place in Hertfordshire. This year’s theme was “Walk with Sai: And be One”.

At around nine o‘clock the crowds started rolling in what turned out to be with Baba’s blessings a glorious Saturday morning. After a replenishing breakfast the children were then grouped according to their regions ready for the first item of the day – “Walk With Sai - Human Values Procession".

The day kicked off with the SSE students from the different parts of the United Kingdom participating in a vibrant procession depicting the five human values of Truth, Right Conduct, peace, Love and Non-Violence with famous personages, saints and leaders from history and our scriptures who stood for these values, along with banners, handmade posters, exciting mascots and music to Walk with Sai and be One! I was part of the Region 2 procession based on "Right Conduct" which was like a carnival, colourful and fun with each placard displaying a message or Swami's quote. Our procession was broken into 3 main parts, first was depicting Mother Teresa, second was showing how Students can get involved in serving the community such as helping the elderly and the needy and finally the climax was about "Mother Earth" and how we can protect it better with the simple action of recycling.

With the SSE students back in their seat it was time for the pledge ceremony which the children offered to Swami followed by the guest speaker Dr Nishit Patel, Cardio-Thoracic Surgeon and SSE alumnus who mesmerised the crowd with his fantastic speech. This was especially great for the children as each and every one could relate exactly to him as he narrated his childhood stories with Swami as a Bal Vikas student. By midday it was time for lunch. The food ranged from healthy salads to multi-coloured ice-creams, each lovingly prepared by the wonderful volunteers. After a delicious lunch the children then set off with an SSE teacher to go and do various different group activities.

Region 2 prepared 4 different activities for Group 1 Children. The children were split into 2 groups (1 x 6 years old and the other 7 - 9 years old). The younger group activity involved a "Connect 2 Sai" game with questions and answers. This was based on the "Connect 4" Game. The other activity involved the children holding and lifting the Parachute, this was so much fun as all the children were involved in Running, Singing, Laughing and Silent sitting under the "Parrachute".

I had the privilege to be on stage and narrate for the procession that the children from R2 were part of.

This was then gracefully followed by the invocation of prayers recited by the region 2 students from Slough and Harrow West centres reciting the ‘Ganapathi prarthana’ and the ‘First Anuvaaka of Rudram’ (Vedam).

This was followed by melodious multi-faith prayers chanted by SSE children from Region 3.

The opening session of the morning was brought to a close with three little girls from Region 5 who absolutely stunned the crowd with their beautiful bharathanatyam dance welcoming Swami done with such professionalism that it brought tears of joy to the eyes of the audience.

The other group also had two different games; one was based on the game called "Blockbusters". SSE version of the game was called "Linked in 2 Sai". The girls team won the game as they were the first ones to fully link up from left to right to where Swami was waiting. The second game involved some concentration and accuracy of hand and eye coordination. We had to land one of our three discs onto where Swami's photo was placed. if we were to land the disc on the photo then we took Swami home with us. In between goes we sang bhajans and relaxed our mind in order to find Swami beside us.

The activities had great moral values. The games were exciting and informative. There were activities for the Nursery children, a workshop and quiz for the Group 3 children and art and crafts for the group 2 children.

After an hour of fun the children entered the ‘Walk with Sai’ experience. This was a beautifully hand crafted walk through area lovingly put together by the SSE alumni and Sai youth. Each section was extremely informative about Baba’s life and by the time the experience was over, each child came out with extended knowledge and a small Sai pendent from the Kalpavriksha tree!

I would like to thank all the SSE teachers for their tremendous efforts and help in supporting us to prepare for this programme. I would also like to thank all the volunteers and committee members for bringing this program together. Special thanks goes to my dearest Swami and the coordinators for giving me the opportunity to be on stage and narrate on such auspicious day, in front of such a big crowd'. We all did come together as One!

Jai Sai Ram
Prajwal [SSE student]
Region 2

National Easwaramma Day Celebrations

3rd May 2014

“Walk with Sai – and be One” was the theme of our 3rd National Easwaramma Day Celebrations, held in Hatfield on 3rd May 2014. From the minute one entered the venue the presence of our Dearest Lord could be felt; He walked alongside us through the day and we all took Him home with us at its end.

National Easwaramma Day has become a programme eagerly awaited by Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) pupils and their families from across the United Kingdom; their enthusiastic participation this year was no different. The programme brought together SSE pupils, their families and SSE Alumni in a spirit of Unity, as we commemorated the life of Mother Easwaramma, the chosen mother of our Lord.

Through the loving offerings of prayer, music, song, drama, dance and talks, children and adults alike, expressed sincere and heartfelt gratitude to Bhagawan and honoured the Ideal that Mother Easwaramma exemplified: Her selflessness, humility, devotion and love for Swami.

The bustling excitement and charged atmosphere of the auditorium was quickly focused on the centre aisle of the hall, as the words to the song “Truth needs a Hero” began, and signaled the start of a very colourful procession of children. It was immediately evident that each region had made a lot of effort to present the 5 Human values (Truth, Right Conduct, Peace, Love and Non Violence) by dressing children in costume, representing different faiths, each holding posters and messages, bearing teachings of different religions.

Procession

Procession

The wonderful energy created by the procession was built upon by the audience and children responding to the song “Love is My Form” in Bhagwan’s Divine Voice that reverberated in the Hall. Next, we were uplifted by the Vedic chants led by the SSE pupils, followed by the recitation of multifaith prayers by another group of SSE children. A traditional Indian dance concluded a most enchanting and vibrant opening ceremony.

Vedic Chanting by SSE children

Invocation Dance by SSE children from Region 5

The SSE pupils rose to their feet and pledged, in unison, to uphold the values and teachings of Bhagawan Baba, and to practice them in daily life.

Students taking their pledge to Swami

Mrs. Vidyulatha Narayan (National SSE Cordinator) welcomed the children and families to this sacred and auspicious occasion and shared her thoughts on the benefits of the SSE programme in developing young men and women of virtuous character. She then introduced the first guest speaker, Dr. Nishith Patel.

Nishith, a Cardiothoracic Surgery Registrar from London, and recent recipient of a PhD for research in Cardiothoracic Surgery, is an alumnus of the SSE Programme in UK. He very beautifully shared his experience of being a SSE pupil and the profound impact that the SSE programme had had on his life. In particular, he spoke of the relationships he developed with other like-minded children in his neighbourhood, and nationally through the SSE Rallies that used to be an annual event. Most of all however, he expressed his gratitude to his parents and SSE teachers who steered him towards the one relationship that he cherished most of all – his Relationship with Swami.

Dr Nishith Patel

Nishith used his personal experiences with Swami, to illustrate the importance of developing and nurturing a relationship with Bhagawan. He advised all the SSE pupils present to have full faith that Bhagawan is always there to guard and guide them and to take Him with them wherever they may go.

Whilst the SSE pupils left the main auditorium to participate in an exciting array of activities, that included art and crafts, value-based games, workshops, an interactive exhibition on the life and teachings of Swami, drama and song, the adults remained to hear our Chief guest, Prof. Nanjundiah, who joined the programme via Skype. Prof Nanjundiah, the former Controller of Examinations, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, shared some of his personal and very intimate encounters with Bhagawan. We were most grateful to Prof. Nanjundiah for taking the time to talk to us.

Following a well appreciated lunch of pizza, ice creams and other favourite foods, excited feet re-entered the auditorium for a relaxing afternoon programme. The SSE alumni took to the stage, this time to offer a music concert, and again displayed with confidence and humility, the excellence that is fostered by the SSE programme.

Lunchtime!

Exhibition

Exhibition

We were treated to a wonderful and inspiring drama, presented by SSE pupils who enacted scenes from the early life of Swami and the journey made by Mother Easwaramma from doting mother to that of ardent devotee.

Region 1 Drama on Mother Eashwaramma’s Life

Region 1 Drama on Mother Eashwaramma’s Life

Youth musical offering

The programme drew to a close, with an awards presentation. Miss Urvashi Patel and Master Sukrith Kumar were presented with their awards for submitting the winning poster and poem in this year’s National Easwaramma Day Poster and Poem Event. Thereafter, all children were invited on stage to receive a certificate of participation and a souvenir mug, which had printed on it, the words:

“Do not walk in front of Me, I may not follow you.
Do not walk behind Me, I may not lead you.
Walk beside Me and be my friend” - Baba

Children receiving their certificates from Dr Kiran Patel (National Chair)

With uplifting and melodious bhajans led by the children, a very memorable day celebrating the life of Mother Easwaramma and filling everyone with immense happiness ended with everyone united as One to continue their “Walk with Sai”.

Jai Sai Ram

Dr Kumaresan Pillay
Chair, Region 7
SSSSO UK

Sathya Sai National Human Values Day 2014

"Love as Thought is Truth; Love in Action is Right Conduct;
Love as feeling is Peace; Love in Understanding is Non-Violence."
-Bhagawan Baba

Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the Avatar of the Age and Embodiment of Supreme Love, has inspired the multitudes of humanity from across the globe to fill their hearts with love and lead their daily lives in a spirit of universal kinship. His Life and teachings during the 85 years of his physical sojourn on earth, highlight for us the essence of all religions of the world, namely, unconditional and universal love for all beings. In His Light, it has been possible for us to expand our consciousness and recognise that Love is the basis of all creation, and of all existence. Through His Example, we find encouragement to practise this divine love in our daily lives through its expression in every thought, word, action and interaction that we are engaged in. Perhaps never before in the history of humanity, have the fundamental but profound principles of Truth, Right Conduct, Peace and Non-Violence been defined as clearly and cohesively as the Human Values, and explained with such simplicity and practical relevance as in the quote above.

To offer gratitude for bestowing on humanity such precious gifts, and as a loving tribute for His eternal presence in our lives on the occasion of His Mahasamadhi in 2011, the 2nd annual Sathya Sai National Human Values Day was held on the 26th of April 2014 at the prestigious Watford Colosseum in London. About 600 devotees from various parts of the country, along with leaders and groups of representatives from 9 different Faiths and Religions, participated in these celebrations with joy and enthusiasm. The theme for the day was based on Bhagawan’s exhortation to us: ‘God is Love, Live in Love’.

Even as the day dawned with bright sunshine, the spirit of the theme came alive as teams of volunteers arrived early and applied themselves in an efficient manner to prepare the venue- decorate the huge Stage and the auditorium, set up the audio-visuals, welcome desk for guests, procession area for the children, kitchen and catering services, car parking assistance, bookshop and so on. Devotees, children, parents and guests soon started arriving in their numbers, and were received warmly by teams of young adults and member of the Central Council of the Sathya Sai Organisation UK. The spiritual ambience generated whenever Bhagawan’s devotees gather in love and gratitude is always a thrilling experience in itself, and it was no different on this occasion.

At 11am bhajans commenced in the main auditorium. This was a signal for the 50 or so children and teachers of the Sai Spiritual Education (SSE), gathered at the main entrance of the spacious venue to begin their Multifaith Procession. The young ones, with beaming smiles and joyous faces, each carrying either the symbol of a religion or a scripture or human value flags in their hands, led the 50 or so guests from the 9 faiths into the main auditorium much to the delight of all the devotees assembled. After offering their obeisance at Bhagawan’s Mahasamadhi Altar, they led the leaders of the Faiths and Religions onto the huge Stage which was gloriously bedecked with a bewitching portrait of Bhagawan on one side, His Chair on the other, the sacred Symbols of the world religions, beautifully lit up, in the middle and the human value banners framing the edges.

The young hearts then invited all those assembled to join their SSE Choir in singing ‘Love, Peace, Righteousness and Truth’ and aptly culminating with ‘We are One in the Spirit’! Amitesh Manandhar, a young SSE student from Tooting (London) welcomed and thanked the leaders on the Stage in his short Talk that was delivered with love and confidence. All the guests were highly impressed by the dedication, devotion, and discipline with which the SSE children displayed their conduct and talents.

Dr. Kiran Patel, the National Chairperson of our Organisation, took stage to welcome the gathering and introduce the theme for the day. He dwelled on the Love and Concern that Bhagawan had for all beings, even from a very tender age of three, when he would free little chickens held captive for later consumption! He spoke about the inspirational projects that Bhagawan willed into existence- free hospitals, free education, free water, etc- again out of the same Love and Concern. He summarised that Bhagawan was an Incarnation of Love, who lives to teach us the path of love, and leads all to live in the realisation that God is Love.

What followed after this rousing introduction was a spectacular, mesmerising, elevating and uniting festival of Love and harmony. Each Leader of a Faith or Religion came on Stage to share their love for God through prayers and music, and God’s Universal Love for his children as expounded in their scriptures. It started with Her Holiness Sister Yoshie Maruta from the Japanese Buddhist Temple in Milton Keynes who touched everyone with her humility and prayerfulness. She was followed by Ms. Bonnie and Rose Smith from the National Spiritual Assembly of Baha’is, Mr. Noshir and Ms Tenaz Bacha from the Zoroastrian Centre in London, Brother Julian from the Society of Saint Francis in Plaistow, Mr. Vinay Shah from the National Institute of Jainology, and Mr. Kuldip Singh Ubhi from the Namdhari Sikh Gurdwara who filled the ambience with their sincere prayers and spiritual reflections.

Interspersed amongst the above were prayers and scriptural messages on divine Love that were rendered in a musical format. The Watford Gospel Manna Choir led by Ms. Susan Watt from London, the Shaam Islamic ‘Nasheed’ Group from Birmingham led by Brother Haroon, the Gurbani Group from the Namdhari Sikh Gurdwara in Birmingham led by Kirpal Singh Panesar, and the Bhakti Vedanta Kirtan Group led by Sister Krsnapurna Devi Dasi from the Hare Krishna Temple in Watford- all created such sublime vibrations of love and harmony in every heart, that it seemed as if all individual identities melted and merged in a collective and universal One! Everyone enjoyed this powerful and liberating experience, and it appeared that each was making a strong resolve to preserve this feeling within oneself for a long time. This was acknowledged and echoed by Councillor George Derbyshire, the Deputy Mayor of Watford, in his brief address.

After a sumptuous and delicious lunch, Sri Ajit Popat, our Guest Speaker for the day delivered an inspiring and insightful Talk. Giving everyone some food for thought about ‘how to worship God’ in a true sense, he encapsulated the answer as five steps, denoted by 5 ‘L’ s, in the spiritual journey that a ‘seeker‘ of God, a ‘lover’ of God and a ‘follower’ of God would need to undertake: Listen, Learn, Lift up (oneself to practise), Live, and Love. He exhorted everyone to ‘live’ the prayers and the scriptural messages shared on the day and then ‘lead’ oneself into the Light of Divine Love that God Is, whether extolled as Rama, Jesus, Jehovah, Allah, and so on. He reflected on his experiences with the Supreme Divine Master, Bhagawan Baba, and shared his learning with the assembled audience.

Whilst our minds were absorbing these words of wisdom, shared so lovingly, our hearts were once again drenched in an enchanting session of instrumental bhajans by the popular ‘Sai Bandhan’ group led by Mrs. Roopa Panesar. This group comprising of internationally renowned and highly accomplished musicians had performed in Bhagawan’s Divine Presence in Prasanthi Nilayam on more occasions than one, and had offered at Bhagawan’s Divine Feet a special CD compilation titled ‘Sai Bandhan’ last year. On the day, they rendered popular bhajans as ‘Allah Hu Akbar’ and ‘Sai Bhajan Bina’ that enthralled everyone and transported our spirits into the precincts of the Divine Abode.

A youth concert and bhajans, led by eminent vocalist Mrs. Mathurini Vinothan, brought the curtains down on a day that will be cherished for some time to come by all those who worked for it and participated in it. For, Bhagawan’s Divine Presence and Love was closely felt, lived, and shared freely on this Sathya Sai National Human Values Day.

Dr. Veeru Mudigonda,
National Vice-Chair,
SSSSO UK

Sathya Sai National Human Values Day 2014: Reflections 1

April 26 2014

The event was held at the Watford Colosseum, an impressive civic building with excellent acoustics. The stage was beautifully decorated with illuminated symbols of the world’s leading faiths, depicting Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.

The theme of national human values was very appealing, and looking at the programme in advance I was struck by how many different faiths were to be represented.

The day started in true Sai welcoming style, - tea and biscuits on arrival and of course so many lovely members of the extended Sai family to touch base with.

A parade of children started the programme, carrying lights and flags representing the Human Values of Truth, Right Conduct, Peace, Love, Non-violence. Dr Kiran Patel opened the meeting, and we were then treated to representatives of the world’s faiths introducing their beliefs with prayer, and explanation. A Buddhist nun and practicing Buddhist chanted the mantra Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, filling the hall with pure vibrations. A group of Muslims sang beautiful holy songs in Arabic, accompanied by drums and tambourines. We were treated to an explanation of the principles of Jainism, most importantly that no living creature should ever be harmed, and I reflected that if everyone was able to follow this principle, how different today’s world would be. Two representatives of the Baha’i faith explained how the essence of Baha’I is all about the unity of God and the oneness of mankind. They sang a beautiful song to a guitar accompaniment.

Brother Julian, a Franciscan monk, spoke of the despair and then the joy associated with the recent Christian festival of Easter. His words were uplifting and inspiring. To complement the Christian message, a gospel choir treated us to some joyous and powerful singing, which had us all joining in by the end. We were also introduced to the key teachings of Zoroastrianism and Sikhism and a highly talented group of Sikh musicians played devotional songs using classical instruments. A group from the Hare Krishna temple at Bhaktivedanta Manor led us all chanting Hare Krishna, Hara Rama.

As the day went on, the vibrations went higher and higher. Then, during the afternoon, we were treated to an exquisite musical performance of classical Indian music featuring sitar, ‘tar’ shehnai, tabla and mridangam, Although we had to vacate the hall briefly due to a fire alarm, we were fortunate to resume the concert within a short while as we resumed our seats in the hall.

We were struck by how much careful and thoughtful planning had gone into the preparation of the event. In order to maximize on time spent soaking up the energy and spiritual messages from all the participants, we received a snack which we ate in the hall, and later on lunch was served – delicious food served in individual ready prepared bags so we did not have to wait or queue.
Brother Ajit Popat gave an inspiring talk on the importance of putting Baba’s teachings into practice. Then the programme came to an end with bhajans and arathi, and we returned home, full of Swami’s Divine Love and Grace.

Barbara Baker
Wandsworth Sai Group,
Region 1, SSSSO UK

Sathya Sai National Human Values Day 2014: Reflections 2

My dad and I are Parsi Zoroastrians and we represented our religion at the National Human Values Day on 26th April. We gathered with other Region 1 devotees to get the coach, it felt like a family gathering where we all cheerfully interacted while sheltering from the rain and wind. We all sat on the coach and Yoges uncle, our Regional Chairperson, led the chanting of three Oms and the Gayatri mantra before starting our journey. When we reached Watford we were warmly welcomed by members of the organising committee, we had the opportunity to talk to various faith leaders and listen to some lovely stories from their faiths, the underlying message of brotherhood of man and fatherhood of God was evident in their willingness to understand the different ways in which all the faiths give the same message of service to God through love for all.

After some refreshments, we ‘guests’, who were representing the nine religions, were led in a procession by children of the SSE and were taken to the beautifully decorated stage. A huge photo of Swami and His chair adorned the stage; as each faith representative stood on the stage, we were each given a rose by two little girls. Each faith representative, then got up to do their prayer and give a short talk on the theme for the day which was ‘God is Love, Live in Love’ and how it relates to each religion. Each prayer was done so beautifully that the vibrations these prayers generated resounded throughout the hall and uplifted the atmosphere. Swami’s presence was felt by all in the hall! Each of the talks given by the faith representatives was fascinating and inspiring. As each one spoke you could feel that there is only one religion the religion of love which is the common thread in all religions. There is only one God and we all pray to Him.

My dad, Mr. Noshir Bacha, beautifully recited the Zoroastrian prayers called Ardibesht Yasht Nirang and Vanant Yasht Nirang and I spoke on the main tenants of the Parsi Zoroastrian religion, viz Humata, Hukta and Harveshta (good thoughts, good words and good deeds). The way to Love God and Live in Love is to express it by steering the mind towards good thoughts which in turn naturally would be spoken by kind words and never hurting the feelings of others, never gossiping and always speaking the truth. In good deeds we love God by serving the society in which we live, which is not just by money but by helping others, giving our time and efforts towards the benefit of all our brothers and sisters, whoever they may be. When we do service activities in our Sai Centres it gives us the golden opportunity which should be grabbed with both hands, to help in whatever way we can, this can be with big projects or when we help at venues during the functions like Swami’s birthday etc. Every service we do is always noticed by God, no matter what our faith, and we are given the incredible opportunity to serve as a part of His organisation.

After keeping us enraptured with beautiful prayers and talks from the various faiths, we were treated to a spectacular music concert by the ‘Sai Bandhan Group’. While they played it felt like we were transported to a different level, we were so engrossed with the various instruments it really was heavenly. This was followed by an equally thrilling youth concert. We enjoyed Dr Ajit Popat’s talk, the jist of which said that we should make Swami proud of us by following His teachings and living the five human values everday.

I was also helping out in the background in the kitchen. Organising just this aspect of the function must have been a tremendous effort and it certainly was appreciated by all the guests. I was just astounded at seeing the number of food bags at the end of it all! Again it was wonderful to see how quickly, with so much love and discipline they were distributed to everyone in the hall. I always enjoy doing this particular service as we all worked together with a great team spirit which truly inculcates the five human values. The combination of hard work and good humour made the whole thing enjoyable.

Like everything, the superb Sathya Sai National Human Values Day had to come to an end in the evening, but we went back home with memories of another tremendous event: Refreshed, Recharged, and Joyous!

Ms. Tenaz Bacha
Tooting, UK

Region 1 - Easwaramma Day Celebrations at Tooting

This years Easwaramma Day celebrations were held at Tooting on 4th May with the commencement of bhajans followed by seven different items from children of all age groups and classes. As usual a lot of preparatory work was done by the teachers, children and parents to make the event a resounding success. This is one of the few events that brings out the Communal Spirit of the Centre as a number of parents helped to set up the Hall, Stage and Altar a day before in readiness for the event for the following day whilst the children were doing their rehearsals at the same time.

The first play performed by the six year olds tells the story of a woodcutter who lost his axe in a river. A mermaid then tempts him with a golden and silver axe but he resolutely sticks to his principle of truth and chooses his old iron set instead.. The lesson here for us as parents is to encourage and set good examples for our children to speak the truth.

The second play was the Ten Avatars of Lord Vishnu , performed by the eight year olds. They then sung a song about recycling and how man abuses the bountiful items provided by mother Earth with an emphasis on what Swami has always told us about wastage of resources, electricity and food.

This was then followed by a beautiful dance item by one of the four year old children. It took a lot of courage to stand in front of over 135 guests to perform this and one can see the abundant skill and talent in this young girl, Saviben. One to be watched out for in future.

Thereafter, the 12-15 year olds did a play on an episode of Adi Sankara's childhood depicting that even the Divine Plan needs to await the Blessings of the Mother before it can proceed followed by recital of selected Bhaja Govindam verses.

The next play entitled 'Watch your Thoughts, Words & Deeds' was performed by 9-11 year olds. This was based on a Genie who would grant any three wishes that you wanted but as the play showed, there were serious consequences to unlimited desires being granted. This brought out the worst in people and led to qualities such as anger, despair and sadness. Instead as Swami says, the focus should be on inner peace and happiness by turning towards God and Selfless Service.

The 12-15 year old children then did a play on Hanuman's devotion where the ever popular story of a set of pearl necklace that mother Sita gives to Hanuman and who in turns discards it. When asked why, he replies that any object that does not have Lord Ram's name reverberating from it is of no use to him. To prove his point, he plucked one of the hairs from his body and held it out for all to hear his beloved Lord Ram's name echoing from it.

The final item was the SSE Childrens Choir who sang three songs dedicated to one's mother and Mother Sai. It was a truly magnificient performance and one which they also did the following day at the Regional celebrations. Weeks and weeks of rehearsals and practice had finally paid off.

Tooting Sai Centre

Region 1 - Lewisham Centre: Maha Samadhi Day

April can now be deemed as one of the most emotional months in our calendar as this month reminds us that our Bhagwan’s physical form is no longer here. Yet as the days go by more and more special things occur, ensuring us that even though His physical form has gone, He is and always will be ever present.

3 years has passed since our beloved Swami took Maha Samadhi and to mark this auspicious occasion Region 1’s Lewisham Sai Centre decided to put on an extra special bhajan. The evening began with Padhuka Abishek and 108 Ashtrothra, followed by the Lingashtakam. The SSE children then lead Mulitfaith Prayers before bhajans commenced lead by the centre’s SSE and Youth wings. The bhajans were uplifting and provided an abundance of vibrations, creating a beautiful and energetic atmosphere for all.

Members from the regional team were in attendance and before Mahaprashad was served we had the privilege of listening to a few words from Region 1 Chairperson Yoges Uncle. An ardent devotee of Swami, Yoges uncle spoke of His omnipresence and to never feel like He is not there, fitting words on this particular occasion. Yoges uncle also mentioned one of his experiences in Prashanthi and how Bhagawan gave him a look of acknowledgement as someone else was singing one of Yoges uncle’s recently sung bhajans again exhibiting another example of how our Lord is constantly there, constantly listening, constantly watching and constantly guiding us on our spiritual paths.

Dhiran Jayasundera

Region 1 - Regional Easwaramma Day Celebrations

On Monday 5th May 2014, Sai devotees from around Region 1 (London) congregated to commemorate Easwaramma Day. The day that is marked to honour and offer our respects to Mother Easwaramma who is remembered as the most modest, humble and purest and who had the rarest blessing to be the chosen mother of our Lord, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

Baba had revealed ‘Easwaramma was the chosen one. I chose her to be my mother. That is the ultimate relationship between mother Easwaramma and myself.’ Mother Easwaramma was an ideal daughter, sister, wife, mother and grandmother. Her extraordinary life was certainly an inspiration and is an example to all women today. Her love towards others was unconditional. She could not bear the suffering of another and strived hard to help those in need.

After lighting of the lamp, the SSE children from centres of the region commenced the event with a procession carrying human values placards which were finally placed in a vase; they then offered their humble gratitude to the divine mother Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The event was attended by several members of the UK Central Council.

The day comprised of various items led by the SSE students such as the recitation of Vedic chanting and multi faith prayers. This was followed by the SSE students of Tooting Sai Centre who presented three songs entitled ‘Mother of mine’, ‘Teach us’ and ‘One way’. The SSE students of Brixton Sai Centre presented a drama entitled ‘Change comes from within’ which lucidly demonstrated how peace can be brought about from within oneself when the outside world is perturbed by confusion and anxiety. A medley of English devotional songs was offered by SSE students of Lewisham Sai Centre. This was followed by the SSE students of Bromley Sai centre who performed a stunning and thought provoking play that depicted the work of Adi Shankarcharya. Each presentation was wonderfully presented with the master of ceremonies, brother Anand infusing sparks of inspiration with anecdotes of Mother Easwaramma’s remarkable life. The SSE students of Wimbledon Sai centre performed a vibrant musical drama based on Swami’s childhood anecdotes inspiring the audience to reconnect with our Divine Master when obstacles in life led one astray from the right path. The SSE children of Kingston Sai Centre offered a melodious musical offering entitled ‘Sai Chalisa’. It was heart rendering to see the commitment, dedication and effort shown by the SSE teachers, parents and students to be able to make these reverential offerings at the Divine Feet. The session ended with the SSE children of Merton Sai Centre who offered a drama entitled "Good Work and God's Work"; this depicted the lives of two young ladies and how they try to put Swami's teachings of 'Service to Man is Service to God' into practice.

Finally, the children, parents and adults were inspired by the words of the guest speaker, Dr Mahesh Narayan, who thrilled everyone that had gathered. The event concluded with devotional songs and Maha Mangala Aarati.

‘It is the foremost duty of children to fulfil the wishes of their mother and make her happy. Serve others to the extent possible. You need not take up any service activity beyond your means and capacity. If you find your neighbours suffering, give them solace. Help them to the extent possible and make them happy. This is what I expect you to learn today. On the occasion of Easwaramma Day, I exhort all of you to practise these three principles of service, experience bliss and share it with all.’ Sri Sathya Sai Baba: 6th May 2006

Alisha Manandhar - Sathya Sai Centre of Brixton (Region 1)

Region 1 - Volunteering at ‘The Passage’ for the Homeless

One of Bhagawan’s most recognizable quotes "Service to man is service to God" has been an inspiration to many.

On Friday 18th April 2014, Sai Youth from Region 1 volunteered and supported the homeless shelter, The Passage, to serve breakfast to the homeless people of London, Victoria.

The Passage runs London’s largest voluntary sector Day Centre for homeless and vulnerable people. Each day they help hundreds of men and women.

An eight-strong team of outreach workers make contact, often late at night or early in the morning, with those sleeping rough in Victoria as they are bedding down or getting up each day.

The mission statement of The Passage is "To provide homeless people with support to transform their own lives".

The day began with the Sai Youth Volunteers getting an introduction to The Passage and how the organization operated. One of the service volunteers explained, “Homelessness occurs due to many reasons, including, break-up of a marriage or relationship; the loss of a job, leading to the repossession of a home or inability to pay rent, or an addiction to drugs, alcohol or even gambling’.

The Passage has various schemes to help the homeless find their way. These include homelessness prevention projects, hospitality, assessment and advice, faith and community projects and much more.

Having being even more inspired to serve the people, the Sai Youth joined the other volunteers and each took a specific role in the morning’s activities. Posts included meal preparation, serving breakfast, washing up, working in the clothes store and setting up for the next service...lunch. The morning was an eye opening experience and made us cherish what we have and take for granted everyday.

Sai Vinothan Visakan

Region 1 - Young Adults Programme

Why do we do what we do? What are the reasons for the actions we take? Do we understand the motives behind the goals that we pursue? These were the questions that were covered in April’s Young Adult Programme (YAP) in Region 1.

As ever with YAP, we started off with an ice breaker. Seeing as it was being held on Good Friday, it seemed appropriate that this involved finding pictures hidden around the room and answering the riddles in them to win chocolate prizes, just as one would expect on an Easter hunt. The riddles had us filling in Swami's quotes and, having fooled us with an easy one at first, our Regional Youth Coordinator, Saiganesh, made us pick our brains for the next few.

This YAP was entitled "Why" and focused on trying to understand the true reasons for why we undertake certain actions. We looked at a video that explained the golden circle in business. It pointed out how, in most organisations, everyone knows "what" they want to achieve and most understand "how" they try to reach their target. But only a few know "why" they want it.

On the other hand, the most successful businesses and people always start with the "why" and work backwards. This theory does not have to limited to businesses. It can also be applied to our personal lives. Most of us know "what" we want and, eventually, we can work out "how" to get it. But do we truly know "why" we want it?

Taking this question into mind, we discussed the reasons why we are part of the Sai Organisation, sharing our experiences and feelings. We also looked at the things Swami was able to achieve. He provided free education and drinking water to all who needed it. He managed to have not one, but two Super Speciality Hospitals built, providing the most advanced healthcare for free, when most thought it impossible.

How was he able to do all this? It is because he knew "why" He had to do it. Swami made a promise to his mother Easwaramma, near the end of her life, to provide all these necessities to the poor. It must be remembered, so close to Easwaramma day, that many of the projects the organisation takes part in started off as a promise between a son and His mother. 

To achieve any goal, we must know the motive why we pursue it. Each of us must look within ourselves and find the reasons behind our deeds. It is only when we know why we take action that we are able to reap the full benefits of it. Therefore, from now on, when you wake up each morning with an objective in mind, always contemplate why you want to achieve it. Start each task with a simple “why” before trying to find the “how”.

Raghav Viswanathan, Wimbledon Centre

Region 1 - Youth-led Easter “Eggstravaganza”

Some people think the Easter bunny isn’t real… Region 1 decided to prove these people wrong, by keeping the Easter bunny spirit alive ourselves. Arguably we didn't have long floppy ears, but we definitely had the right intentions. We felt that during the long Easter weekend, we tend to take for granted what we have by booking a sneaky short holiday, or even just using the four days to have a relaxing time off. However what we all usually forget is that there are some people who are forced to experience this weekend in a very different way. Sometimes these people have to undergo unfathomable treatments; what is even worse is that a large number of these people are young children, with a terminal disease.

Therefore, Region 1 Youth decided to continue an initiative that has been continuing for a few years. However this year we wanted to tie in our regular collections with a purpose. We wanted to experience Swami's teachings first hand. One of the nine point code of conduct is practice ceiling on desires. We felt that we could easily implement this teaching within this project, by encouraging everyone to donate Easter eggs, by putting a ceiling on a desire they have, in order to give them the capacity to be able to give Easter Eggs to children in need. We decided to set an initial target of 108 Easter eggs. However the youth decided to get their entire centres involved from the adults down to the children.

As the Easter egg counts started to trickle in, we got word from Brixton Sai Centre who had really worked together as a centre to collect over 108 eggs just by themselves. The whole centre from the elderly down to the youngest children in the SSE classes all contributed. There was one young girl, who really touched all of our hearts. Not only did she fuel inspiration to the rest of the Region, she made each and every one of us contemplate on our own understanding of selfless Love. This little girl, at a mere age of 5 years old, decided to give the only Easter egg she had, to children less fortunate than her. This egg wasn’t a normal egg, it was specially personalised for little Aayushi. We asked her if she was sure she wanted to give her only egg away, and her answer was: “In the Easter egg, there is a chocolate smiley face, I thought, if I donate my Easter egg to children in hospital that will make other children happy.” She also went further to say, “No children should be in hospital during Easter, they should be celebrating Easter with their family.” If you have ever had doubts as to what selfless service is, I’m sure five year old Aayushi, will be more than happy to teach us all the true meaning to this wonderful teaching of our beloved Lord. 

Little Aayushi, doesn't even realise that her selfless act of service, not only made a huge difference to another little child in hospital, but also made a huge impact to all the youth in the Region. From that day, the collection numbers sky rocketed! We went from about 150 eggs to a mind blowing, 840 Easter eggs. With this many eggs, we decided that we could help more than just one hospital. We then called up various children hospitals around us, some of which were puzzled as to who we were and questioned our motive for donating so many Easter eggs. A simple explanation about our Service organisation, and how we as an international organisation that partake in various service activities around the world, put their minds to rest. Some hospitals were so happy that they wanted to find out more about us and our organisation and wanted to see whether we could work together on other projects in the future. We ended up donating this abundance of Easter Eggs to four children hospitals: Royal Marsden, St Georges, Evelina and Great Ormond Street. 

This project really showed us what we can achieve when we all work together, especially when we have a great foundation laid down to us by our Divine Bhagavan. Furthermore it showed us that the small act of one small child can create a domino effect that influences a plethora of people to be inspired to do the same.

Region 1 Youth Team

Region 2 - Young Adults Programme: Ceiling on Desires

Region 2 reignited last month with 2014’s Young Adults Programme (YAP). The theme for YAP this year is the 9-Point Code of Conduct. Hosted by Harrow West and facilitated by Harrow East, Region 2 youth came together to discuss and consciously implement these teachings in our daily life.

The YAP programme was created to enable the youth to express, share and develop their beliefs and understanding of spirituality – something which not only benefits each of us personally, but also strengthens us as a unit and Swami’s youth as a whole. During the month of Easter, we decided to combine Swami’s points of ‘service to the community’ and ‘ceiling on desires’, allowing us to appreciate the love, sacrifice and forgiveness Jesus incorporated in his life. Jesus’ words “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” are what we as a Region strived to achieve during this time.

The first part of the session was a study circle conducted on service. Using a panel of different people within society, the floor was opened to discuss who in society we should be serving and personal opinions about which members were priorities. Featuring some controversial faces such as criminals, it was interesting and inspiring to see that regardless of personal thoughts, the youth collectively decided everyone had a right to community service. One conclusion of the day was that service should be implemented without discrimination and with no priorities, echoing Swami’s teaching “Love All, Serve All.”

This then prompted us to examine how we should serve – again met with a full house of ideas. Deep contemplation on this brought up the idea of the ‘needs’ versus the ‘wants’, and turning to both Jesus’ and Swami’s examples of a lifetime of service, with no extents or limitations, the group agreed that service should take place with the intention of satisfying the need at hand with the means required. We extensively examined time, money, energy and food – Swami’s four concerns of ceiling on desires – by splitting into groups and discussing quotes from Swami regarding each area. Linking the quotes to each other and appreciating the values and messages behind the words led to a discussion of how much we take for granted in today’s world, especially food and money, which were consistently mentioned. Ideas of people suffering the world over from poverty and hunger intensified the group’s desire to serve those in need as an individual duty, but the quote “give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, but give him a rod and he’ll eat for life” also brought up the notion that service should also help others to help themselves.

Most importantly, we also decided that true service should be done with a sense of selfless love. Swami’s example has shown us that this is the key to success in any service project. Altogether, the many different lessons taken from the study circle rekindled everyone’s desire to actively serve in the community – leading us to our second part of YAP.

After the deep and insightful discussion, the youth decided to put into practice all they had learned through initiating a ceiling on desires-inspired service project to provide Easter Eggs for local hospitals. Each person was encouraged to donate an Easter Egg (or the money to finance an egg) by giving up a luxury dear to our daily lives – a weekly Starbucks, a new dress etc. – with the savings incurred going towards purchasing the eggs. Announcing the scheme at the centres in the Region, allowed adults, youth and children to contribute to the cause – with the whole Region collecting over 400 Easter Eggs within two weeks!

On the Easter weekend the youth distributed the collected eggs to three of the local hospitals: West Middlesex, Hillingdon and Watford General. The doctors and nurses were very warming and welcoming – astounded by the contributions, of which the volumes had seemingly exceeded everyone’s expectations. Surpassing our original intentions to donate the eggs to each hospital’s Paediatric ward, there were enough eggs to be donated to other wards as well.

Overall, this YAP session has been a great experience and learning platform for all the youth. As a unit, the bond between the youth has become stronger, and individually we have all learned some important lessons. Donating the eggs to the hospitals, the youth realised that rather than the doers, they were merely doing what was taught unto us a long time ago for the benefit of the mankind around us. Additionally, quite a few of us realised that many of our ‘needs’ were actually just ‘wants’ – teaching us the purifying that comes with sacrifice. Jesus taught us to “love thy neighbour as thyself”, and the love that drove the project has definitely impacted every individual involved.

Thank you, Swami, for your love and blessings – may we always be instrument of thy will.

By Harrow West Sai Youth.

Region 2 - Harrow West Sai Centre: Maha Samadhi Day Celebrations

On the 27th of April 2014, Harrow West Sai Centre had a special programme for our beloved Swami passing from the “Form, to the Formless”. It was truly an inspiring event to remember as the members of the Centre united as one to make this afternoon possible. The dedicated Centre members helped to set up the wonderful decorations and arrangements whilst the ever hard-working and diligent tech crew set up all the necessary equipment to ensure that the true power of the bhajans and chanting would be appreciated and that everything went smoothly.

The occasion was marked prominently by outstanding, heartfelt prayers from the devotees and the auspicious incantation of the Sri Sathya Sai Ashtottra Shata Namavali and the Sri Rudram; purifying and energizing the environment. The mellifluous chanting of the 108 names of the Lord was entrancing as the devotees had a chance to ask the Almighty to “Take all their troubles away”. Afterwards a short video was played of Baba singing “Govinda Krishna Jai’ and there was a session of Questions and Answers read by the SSE children. They spoke about frequently asked questions towards Baba and of the replies he gave, in which were instilled lessons on how to live our lives.

The programme was concluded with an inspiring speech from Uncle Vignesh, an ardent devotee of Swami’s. He spoke passionately and the Centre was hushed as every member was hooked by his words. He regaled stories of his past experiences in Malaysia and spoke of how we should have our thoughts, words and actions aligned. He also explained beautifully, “All is not what it seems”. Penultimately, a touching video was shown depicting the incredible work of the Sathya Sai Organization and the work they had done to provide clean drinking water free of charge to many people living in remote villages and living in poverty. Everyone was truly inspired and a few tears were indeed shed.

At the end, the dedicated devotees were treated to the anticipated Mahaprasadam. The atmosphere was lively and friendly with many people in attendance. Many, many thanks go out to everyone who helped and the Active Harrow West members, who took the time and effort to make this event possible. A humble and loving thank you to Swami, for guiding us and making all of this possible.

Sohum Panda
SSE student – G3Y2

Region 2 - London West Sai Centre Easwaramma Day Celebrations

Most auspicious sunny Sunday morning dawned at Sai Centre of London West with Easwaramma Day Celebrations celebrated all over the world as Children’s Day. All SSE children dressed in white, accompanied by enthusiastic parents, gurus and devotees gathered at the Sai centre at 10 am to celebrate The Chosen Mother’s Birthday.

Swami’s altar was beautifully decorated with Red and Gold background.
We had the Light meditation and the Ashtotram to start with. The children had put up a program for 15 minutes starting with Vedam Chanting. All the children sang “Love is my Form” and “God’s Love is so wonderful” songs which was their humble musical offering to Swami.

The songs were followed by the skit ‘Abu Ben Adam’, one of the favourite stories which our Swami narrates to HIS Students and devotees. The story portrays the path to tread for being loved by God.

Two group 2 boys rendered Swami’s message on Easwaramma -THE CROWN OF MOTHERHOOD. They shared how like Krishna, Swami was the eighth child of Mother Easwaramma and the turbulent times she went through before he took birth were akin to what Devaki experienced before Krishna graced her lap. They also mentioned the Three Selfless Desires of Easwaramma which was the boon for Mankind all over the world.

The boys beautifully explained the Eternal Bond of Love between Swami and HIS mother.

Melodious bhajans were sung by the SSE children accompanied by Keyboard and Thalam played by SSE children. The programme ended with arthi and sharing of few experiences by two children about the National Easwaramma Day celebrations that was held at Hatfield on Saturday 3rd May 2014.

Jai Sai Ram.

Region 2 - Slough Sai Centre Easwaramma Day Celebrations

The mother is the first of the five Maathas (Mothers), that the child encounters:
Dhehamaatha (the mother that gave birth to this body); Go-maatha (the cow that gives sustaining milk); Bhoo-maatha (the land that grows the crops which feed the body); Desha-maatha (the Native country that gives protection, care, love, rights and chances to serve and elevate oneself to one's full height), and Vedha-maatha (the heritage of spiritual treasure that reveals the aim and purpose of human life and takes one step by step, towards the Goal of Self-realisation. The Dhehamaatha must reveal to the child the glories of all the other four; so her responsibility is the greatest and most crucial.

The celebration was based on mother earth and how to protect her. For this year’s Easwaramma day celebration we focussed on how we should protect the earth and not put rubbish on it. We started off with a procession where we took candles and placed them at the altar and then we began to chant the Ganapati prathana and the first Anuvaaka from the Sri Rudram, then the SSE students sang some bhajans.

Next was our saving the planet sketch through which we started explaining the five Maathas that a child encounters [see above] then went to explain the importance of the Mother earth and reminded the people of the cruel things we are doing that hurt mother earth. It is down to us to look after this precious Gift of God simply by following Baba’s three D’s: Duty, Devotion and Discipline. We used recycled and homemade props to express our points. Then we explained how to help mother earth using the three R’s Reduce Reuse Recycle. Also demonstrated the need to save water, energy and nature [esp. trees]. Finally, we ended the programme with Aarthi, Vibhuti, thought for day and one big photo.

Thank you to Bharti Aunty, Madhuri Aunty and Roja Aunty for helping us prepare for this event.

Jai Sai Ram

Prajwal [SSE student]

Region 3 - Bhajan Workshop

On Sunday 6th April, the Ladies wing of Thurrock Sai Centre hosted Region 3 bhajan workshop facilitated by the very talented and inspirational Sister Cookie and Brother Vijan of Milton Keynes Sai Centre. The day was split into two sessions: the morning and the afternoon.

During the course of the morning session, the duo defined a bhajan as a devotional expression of love relating it to SAI – Sweet, Attractive and Inspiring, ever so aptly describing Swami Himself! They also gave us an insight into the theory of bhajan singing by delving into the importance of the key aspects of a bhajan: thetune (raaga), the beat (taalam) and feeling (bhava).

When bhajans are composed with one of the many ragas and taalas in mind and sung with bhava, different emotions can be experienced by the singer which in turn, can be felt by others. Therefore, something as powerful as bhajans should be practised to perfection before being offered to the Lord. Similar to how a cook prepares his recipe before feeding his guests, bhajan singers must also prepare their bhajan through attending bhajan practice before feeding the Lord with their bhajan offering.

Further to this, bhajans were stated as one of the highest forms of Sadhana (spiritual learning) that an individual can do. The vibrations created from only the mere uttering of the Lord’s name is enough to cleanse our souls, our community and the environment.

The interactive afternoon session gave musicians and devotees an opportunity to practice different bhajans, using their instruments. Some devotees practised playing the manjeeras and others the harmonium and tabla. Tips on how to improve one’s techniques were also given. The afternoon session concluded with uplifting bhajans, aarti and a vote of thanks.

Overall, the bhajan workshop session was a wonderful way of inspiring devotees to analyse bhajans and to appreciate that a bhajan should be sung with feeling, in tune and in beat. With endless practical tips, demonstration and quotes from Swami's guidelines, we were all treated to an excellent, day long tutorial which has very much been taken to heart by everyone. We are very grateful to our workshop leads for travelling such a long distance to whole-heartedly share their knowledge and expertise with us all and displaying such commitment and dedication to Swami’s work.

Jai Sai Ram.
Thurrock Sai Centre

Region 3 - Youth-led Easter "Eggstravaganza"

In Western Christian Tradition, Easter marks the end of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline in preparation for Easter.

An activity which this year started off as the thought plan of one region, but spread to others regions, Region 3 Youth took part in ‘Eggstravaganza’; this served as a way of adopting / following the 9 Point Code of Conduct, serving as an opportunity to practice the spiritual discipline of ‘Ceiling on Desires’, during Easter.

Various youth were involved by taking the lead in humbly serving, with love, over 220 Easter Eggs, along with various other items, to children in the following four vicinities -

Keech Hospice, on the outskirts of Luton, where the hospice organised a small petting farm and a picnic for the attendees, and all the children were also gifted an Easter egg; Lennox Children’s Cancer Fund (Romford), Richard House Children’s Hospice (Beckton), where Easter Eggs as well as Dolls were donated. The Dolls were originally donated by a Sai Devotee, to the Region 3 Ladies Wing; one of the Aunty’s carefully stitched together new dresses for these dolls, and two dolls each were donated to both Richard House & Lennox Children’s Cancer Fund (where they were to be raffled, and the proceeds of which would’ve gone towards their respective charities).

The Last two venues were Basildon Hospital, where a few youth delivered Easter Eggs as well as some Softs Toys, for the two Children Wards situated there, and Hatfield Hospital, where the youth donated Eggs to the respective Cancer and Maternity wards.

This was a privileged opportunity for the youth to take lead on a service project in the Region, whereby the entire Region from SSE children to the elderly came together in donating Easter Eggs. A great sense of unity was felt, not only within Region 3, but also, as this was an initiative being led by Youth Wing in other Regions, the unity was also felt with our brothers and sisters around the UK.

We thank Swami for inspiring such a humble offering whereby we had the opportunity to practice His Teachings of Ceiling on Desires and Service with Love and pray for this continue with His Grace.

Jai Sai Ram
Region 3 Youth Team

Region 3 – Food Distribution at the Strand

Since the commencement of the food distribution initiative towards the end of last year, the Region 3 Youth have been earnestly committed to the provision of lunch bags and hot beverages to the homeless people in Central London (Strand). Once again, the youth assembled on the morning of Sunday 6th of April 2014 for distribution. The collective effort of devotees across the region ensured that food items were supplied and carefully packed, culminating in 70 food bags, consisting of a sandwich, a piece of fruit, a carton of juice and an assortment of savoury snacks, as well as numerous flasks of tea and coffee.

Quite extraordinary was the cohesion of the youth across the Region under the umbrella of Seva. With the guidance of Brother Kapil, Region 3 Youth Coordinator, a modest group of 7 selflessly distributed the items, providing a nutritious lunch for a number of our homeless brothers and sisters. What was pertinent during this activity was how little an action on our part can benefit others. For example, the morning cup of tea or coffee which many of us enjoy and admittedly take for granted was greatly appreciated by those who were served, many of whom were able to find solace in the hot beverage, following a rough night. We were greatly humbled by the expression of gratitude from the recipients, who may have felt ostracised from society due to their unfortunate circumstances.

The group were joined by Kripa, an SSE Group 3 student, who had chosen this Seva activity for her SSE project. She was actively involved in both the preparation and distribution of the food items:

"The reason why I chose the Seva at Strand as my SSE Project was because it allowed me to gain confidence and provided me with the opportunity to serve not only those in need, but also myself.  I truly enjoyed the experience for it made me happy to see a smile on the people's faces and also made me realise just how fortunate I am to have been granted food, shelter and a family by Swami. I would definitely like to take part in the activity again and encourage other youths to join in, for it is a wonderful experience.” -Kripa, SSE Group 3

It was a fantastic morning and an uplifting experience for all, for which I would like to express my gratitude for the continued support across the region, ensuring that this initiative is able to prosper and for the opportunity that we have been fortunately given.

Sai Ram,
Region 3 Sai Youth

Region 4 - Rugby Centre: Maha Samadhi Day

Thursday 24th April 2014 Overslade Community Hall, Rugby 7pm

Three years have gone by since Satya Sai Baba chose to once again be accessible only as Cosmic Sai.

Our event started with multi faith chanting from our devotees which was followed by SSE children speeches of Baba’s key messages,
SEE Children provided outstanding performances in reading, devotional singing and offering flowers at the Lotus Feet of
Bhagawan Sri Satya Sai Baba.

Here are a few quotes that stood out for me;

‘Stressed is Desserts spelled backwards…’ Rising above Life’s Challenges with Humour, Hope, and Courage.

“Dharma is like a mother. One can choose a wife, but no one can choose a mother”.
Dharma is in the same position as one’s mother is.

“Love is in you. It need not be acquired from outside”
“Never forget love. Love is the form of God. Love is God. Live in love”

Our Evening concluded with Sai Bhajans, and other musical accompaniments ending with Samadhi Darshan and Vibhuti Prasadam.

With the little time for preparation on this auspicious occasion I felt very enlightened to have been a part of it.

May the blessings of Baba shower on All & Everyone

Umeshbhai /Binaben

Region 4 - Sai Cinema

What is better than a few hours of ‘Sai cinema’ on a nice Sunday afternoon to fill ourselves with divine vibrations? This session was the 2nd one of four afternoons devoted to plunge ourselves into Divine stories. On that day we watched the DVDs 3, 4 and 5 from the series Shirdi Sai Parthi Sai Divya Katha. After having a divine gist of the life of Shirdi during the 1st session, we had the great opportunity during this 2nd session to see the times before the birth of the incarnation following Shirdi Sai, which is no one other than our beloved Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, as well as a part of His early childhood.

Devotees were moved by the Divinity of Sathya Sai in the form of a child. His Pure and Loving answers towards His friends and His mysteriously divine behaviour were beautiful to witness and were very eye-opening. Watching the life of the Avatar is for some devotees the opportunity to learn more about Him, whereas for some others it helps them understanding what they already know, picturing the Divine Advent in their mind. From a very young age, Sathya, as His name reflects, was living by the Divine Principle of Truth. Whatever obstacle may come before Truth, Truth will always prevail.

As Sai devotees, we should endeavour to put Truth as the basis of our life. Only then will it be sanctified and reflecting Sai’s teachings, which is everyone’s utmost important mission.

Sai Youth - Narborough Sai Centre

Region 5 - Bolton Sai Centre Paduka Pooja

Paduka Pooja (Worship of the impressions of Lord’s Feet)

Sathya Sai Group of Bolton hosted Paduka Pooja on the 5th April 2014. Padhukas were procured from Prashanthi Nilayam and were offered at the MahaSamadhi before using them in the worship.

Smaller Padhukas (around 150) were also bought from Prashanthi Nilayam so that every family that attended had a pair to do the pooja on the day.

The pooja started with chanting of the Omkaar, Vedam and bhajans. The Padhukas were brought to the hall amidst the Vedic chanting. The pooja was then done for the padhukas with abhishekam (consecration). Every devotee in the hall participated in the worship.

One of the experienced devotee oversaw the procedures whilst explaining the significance of the ritual. The event ended by the Arati and taking of the prasadam (offering)

The event was attended by around 130 devotees from the Region. Everyone who participated left inspired with their hearts filled with a sense of peace and happiness within.

One is reminded what Bhagawan had said about such rituals and not to forget the end goal.

“In the morning, Punditji, while doing abhisheka to the padukas with milk, curds, and honey, explained the significance of these offerings. All these spiritual pursuits are meant for the purification of Heart. “Chittasya Suddhaye Karmaha (all actions are aimed at the purification of heart).

Purity alone is not enough to experience Divinity. With purity of heart, you should offer yourself to God. You would not offer a faded flower to God. Likewise, the heart, which may be compared to a flower, should be fresh and devoid of impurities before it is offered to God. There is an ocean of difference between archana (worship) and arpitham (total surrender). It is not archana, but it is arpitham that is most essential.” Sathya Sai Speaks/volume31/sss31.pdf

Ketan Parmar
Bolton

Region 5 - Maha Samadhi Day

Om Jai Sai Ram

Devotees from Region 5 observed Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's Maha Samadhi day on Sunday the 27th April 2014 at Bradford.

Patidar Samaj Hall was packed with devotees who enjoyed the afternoon with beautifully sung bhajans, variety of performances by SSE children, and listening to an inspiring talk given by Swami's former student Brother Kartik who travelled all the way from London.

The programme commenced with Vedic chanting of Shiva Stotra, and the event was blessed with the presence of a well known kathaa kaar Shastri Ramnik Jiva Bhai Dave. Brother Kartik paid a moving tribute to Swami and narrated an unique experience of an elderly Chinese devotee. When this Chinese devotee was a young boy he suffered intolerable physical and verbal abuse from a hotel owner where the boy was forced to work. At that time Swami came as a young man to this boy's rescue and saved the boy from this atrocity.

Regional Chair Brother Kailash outlined the Rapid Response Team service project.

The programme finished with a video showing Swami serving the needy, followed by Arti and Maha Prasad.

Bharathbhai Sisodia
Oldham

Region 5 - Youth Easter Egg Seva

The goal modern youth should set before themselves is to sow the seeds of love, rear the plant of forbearance and distribute the fruit of peace to society through dedicated service - Baba

On Easter Sunday, many children wake up to find that their loved ones have left them baskets of candy and toys and also hidden the eggs to engage them in the Easter egg hunt. But thousands of children suffer poverty and ill health making them less fortunate to enjoy this tradition. Region 5 youth came together for the sole purpose of bringing smiles to the face of these children and youngsters by initiating a project to collect eggs, toys and games and donating it to a local group/hospice.

With Swami’s Grace, the youth of Region 5 donated 112 Easter eggs and 6 large bags of toys and games for Manchester Children’s Hospital, Liverpool Alderhey Children’s Hospital and Junior Chamber International in Bradford, a youth driven local community service group. We were very blessed to serve the local community in this way and we hope to work together and support them in the future projects.

A massive heartfelt thank you to all the adults, children and youth across the region who kindly donated eggs and toys towards this wonderful cause. We are most grateful to our beloved Swami for the wonderful opportunity, and for inspiring us with this project.

Supreetha
On behalf of Region 5 Youth

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