May 2015 Edition

Articles

National SSE Pilgrimage 2015: Sai Mahima - The Miracle of Love

1st ‘Sai Prema’ Prayer Meeting for Nepal; Watford, London

2nd ‘Sai Prema’ Prayer Meeting for Nepal; Watford, London

3rd ‘Sai Prema’ Prayer Meeting for Nepal; Bedford, UK

A Letter from the Lord

My Sai and I

National Easwaramma Day

Photo of the Month

Region 1 - Young Adults Programme

Region 2 - A Youthful Easter

Region 2 - Easwaramma Celebrations & Re-Commencement of SSE Classes at Harrow East Sai Centre

Region 2 - Easwaramma Day Celebrations at Harrow West Sai Centre

Region 2 - Mahashivarathri Celebrations

Region 2 - SSE Poems

Region 2 - Vedam Chantings by SSE Children from Region 2 in the House of Parliament

Region 2 – EGGStravaganza!

Region 3 - Central London Sai Centre: Easter Sunday

Region 3 – Easter Service Activity

Region 5 - Easter Service Activities

Region 5 - Maa Easwaramma Day

Region 5 - Mahasamadhi Day

Region 5 - My Experience at the National Youth Symposium

Region 8 - Aberdeen Sai Centre: Care Home Service Visit

Sai Prema: The Love of Sai for Nepal

Sathya Sai National Human Values Day 2015

Service with a Song

Spiritual Quiz

UK Satsangs with Sri. Naganand from Prasanthi Nilayam

Editorial

<p><b>Dear Love &amp; Light Readers,<br/> Greetings and Loving Sai Ram!</b> </p><p>We hope that this combined edition of Love and Light, filled with activity reports over the busy months of April and May, finds you in good cheer. The dawn of spring, and the gradual spreading of its wings into summer, has a miraculous effect indeed on life and activity all around. </p><p>The Jewish community celebrated the festival of Passover (Pesach) between 3-11April to remember the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, led by Moses, and a general celebration of freedom. The Sikh community observed Vaisakhi on the 14th April, the day commemorating the birth in 1699 of Sikhism as a collective faith. Christians in several nations, kingdoms, countries and cities celebrated St. George’s Day on 23rd April, the traditionally accepted date of Saint George’s death in 303 AD. Christians also observed Ascension Day marking the 40th day of Easter on the 14th May; it was an opportunity to remember Lord Jesus Christ's ascension into heaven, according to the New Testament of the Bible. Many Muslims celebrated Lailat-Al-Miraj on the 15th May; this event commemorated the Prophet Muhammad’s journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and his ascent into heaven. </p><p>24th April was an important day in the lives of Sai devotees across the globe when they celebrated Sathya Sai Aradhana Day. The Omnipresent Avatar of Love, that descended on earth and bewitched us by assuming the beautiful form of Sathya Sai Baba, completed the physical sojourn and left the mortal coil on this date in 2011. Lot of centres in the UK celebrated this day with bhajans (devotional singing) and talks. </p><p>We celebrated the Sathya Sai National Human Values Day on the 26th April to observe this special day. Baba was the very embodiment of Divine Love. He had established kinship with fellow beings through Love only. Not surprisingly, this memorable event was titled ‘Love – the One Divine Principle in All’. For the many, this was an emotional day with some reflecting, others reminiscing and few shedding a tear but it was about Him only! It was a very well organised event that provided both Sai devotees who had travelled from across UK and special guests from other communities and professions to come together, get stimulated from each other by being together and to celebrate the life and teachings of Baba. It was also an occasion to reflect and learn from the lives and teachings of the divine masters from the different religions and faiths. </p><p>We honoured the blessed mother Easwaramma, mother of Lord Sathya Sai on the 2nd May when we celebrated the National Easwaramma Day which was themed around the Festival of Love. This annual event focussed upon children attracted over 500 parents and children of all ages from around the country. As is the tradition, this day was also celebrated in several centres and regions of UK. </p><p>Whilst there was happiness and joy all around, we were deeply distressed by the thousands who had lost their lives and families displaced following the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal. We held a special prayer meeting titled ‘Sai Prema – Love of Sai’ on the 3rd May in Tooting to remember and pray for the thousands affected. The response from our devotees to the appeal that we had launched through our Sathya Sai Charitable Trust was overwhelming which is supporting the humane work been carried out by the Sathya Sai Organisation of Nepal. The second Sai Prema prayer meeting was held on the 24th May in Watford. We pray to Lord Sathya Sai to alleviate the suffering of all those effected. </p><p>We were blessed to have with us in UK, Mr. Naganand, member of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust in Prasanthi Nilayam. Devotees from different parts of UK were able to interact with him and listen to his talks during his visits to Sai Centres. </p><p>Excitement is building up amongst devotees preparing for various forthcoming national events, namely the Sathya Sai Global Service Day, the Sathya Sai Pre-World Conference 2015, and the National SSE Pilgrimage ‘Sai Mahima – Miracle of Love’ to the Divine abode of our Lord Sathya Sai in Prasanthi Nilayam. Please see the details for these events in this edition. The pilgrimage is scheduled for 28th July – 6th August, and will be part of the World Education Conference in Prasanthi Nilayam. Approximately 150 pilgrims will be participating including SSE children, teachers, parents and devotees. As part of preparations, the first sadhana meeting was held on the 18th April in Wimbledon, London, and the second sadhana meeting on the 23rd May. </p><p><b>Dr Kiran Patel,<br/> Chairman, Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (UK)</b> </p>

1st ‘Sai Prema’ Prayer Meeting for Nepal; Watford, London

The first Sai Prema Prayer Meeting for Nepal was held on Sunday 3rd May at Tooting Sai Centre in South London. Around 200 devotees gathered to offer their heartfelt condolences and prayers, beginning with three Aums and multi-faith prayers, followed by 30 minutes of sublime and uplifting bhajans to bring comfort, peace and relief (both material and spiritual) to all those affected.

Dr Veeru Mudigonda, National Vice-chair, opened the meeting with a welcome and introductory message on the importance of prayer for the brothers and sisters of Nepal, who have been affected by the earthquake.

Then followed a talk by Dr Kiran Patel, National Chair, who elaborated on the Nepal Earthquake Relief UK; he explained how the Sai Organisations around the globe, including SSSSO UK and the Sri Sathya Sai Charitable Trust UK, through the Sri Sathya Sai World foundation were facilitating the relief efforts in Nepal. Region 1 Chair, Rajendra Krishna Manandhar shared an update with a short video presentation on the situation in Nepal after the earthquake. The guest speaker of the day, Dr Achyut Dhital, former Chair of the Nepalese Doctors’ Association highlighted ongoing efforts, current needs and priorities for the future in Nepal. We were delighted to have Dr. Upadhyay who shared his thoughts and prayers too. Ketan Gokani, coordinator for UK Sai Emergency Relief Volunteers (SERV) Committee encouraged all to participate wholeheartedly in the relief and rehabilitation efforts.

The updates provided from Nepal touched everyone’s heart as the pain of our fellow brothers and sisters was felt. We sent our sincere prayers and personal messages of hope, as blank cards were handed out to each member of the congregation to put into words their message of sympathy, love, peace and prayer, which would be delivered to all those affected. In this way, devotees not only connected with their brothers and sisters in Nepal, but got an opportunity to live Swami’s message of everyone standing in unity under ‘Brotherhood of man and Fatherhood of God.’

The programme concluded with half an hour of intense singing of "Om Sai Namo Namaha” chant, with all mental energies focused upon prayers for all those afflicted by the earthquake. During the intense and energising chant, each devotee placed a flower at Swami’s divine lotus feet in a prayerful and poignant gesture to our Lord to take care of all His children in Nepal.

Finally, we had Arathi and chanting of the vibhuti mantra which brought this prayer meeting to a close.

Priya Kotecha, Youth Wing
Region 1, SSSSO UK

2nd ‘Sai Prema’ Prayer Meeting for Nepal; Watford, London

About hundred devotees congregated at the Sathya Sai Centre of Harrow West in Watford on Sunday 24th May 2015 to offer their collective prayers for solace and peace to fellow brothers and sisters who are affected by the disaster in Nepal.

The session commenced with multi-faith prayers and a heartfelt offering of bhajans. Introducing the prayer meeting, Dr Veeru Mudigonda, vice chairperson of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation enlightened the gathering on the purpose of the meeting, the power and benefits of prayers as explained by Swami. This was followed by a welcome address from the regional chair, Mrs Gayatri Bikoo.

The next speaker was Dr Kiran Patel, chairperson of the organisation who reflected upon Swami’s mission in serving humanity through love as He saw every Being as His reflection. He commented that in the UK, there had been an overwhelming response from devotees to stand together in unity both in prayers and supporting the relief efforts that were led locally by Nepal Sai Organisation.

Brother Biroo Sun then shared his personal experiences when he was in Kathmandu with his wife on Saturday 25th April 2015, at the time when the devastating earthquake first struck Nepal. It was very touching and humbling to hear his experiences of courage, faith and unity in the face of extreme adversity

He narrated how the very foundation that he was standing on was shaking beneath his feet. He recounted his terrifying experience and when they managed to escape outside into open areas, how the buildings were swinging like a car screen wiper! When it seemed as though all hope had gone, Brother Biroo recollected Swami, his faith and prayers. With Divine Grace, none of his family were affected although buildings were collapsing in front of him. His account touched our hearts and brought tears to our eyes.

The next speaker was Rajendra Manandhar, chairperson of Region 1 who provided an update on the latest humanitarian efforts that was led by the Sai Organisation of Nepal supported by the Indian and the International Organisation. In his role as a Trustee of the Sathya Sai Charitable Trust (UK), Dr Veeru Mudigonda also appraised the gathering of the donations received from devotees which was transferred to help with the relief efforts.

One of the youth member, Dr. Anshi Dattani, offered a fitting prayer from the psalm 31:24 ‘Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord’.

The group prayer followed next with all devotees singing full throated, in unison, the chant ‘Om Sai Namo Namaha, Sri Sai Namo Namaha, Jai Jai Sai Namo Namaha, Sadguru Sai Namo Namaha’ while placing floral offerings and a personal written message on a card at the lotus feet of our Lord.

The blessed messages of hope written by devotees will be sent to the Sathya Sai Organisation of Nepal to be distributed to our grieving brothers and sisters to express Love from UK devotees in their difficult times.

The program concluded with arati and light refreshments. It was a sincere seamless loving offering of our prayers to our beloved Swami for solace and happiness for those affected. It was truly a memorable experience of unity, divinity and true spirituality.

Life is short and fleeting. One never knows what will happen in any given moment. Swami said that there are three sources of sorrow that man has to encounter while here on earth. The scriptures refer them to as individual sorrows caused by illnesses, the second one are sorrows that are caused by external elements and the third group of sorrows which trouble man is the result of calamities such as floods, drought, storm, earthquakes.

We send our heartfelt prayers and love to all those who have been affected by the earthquake, to those who have passed away so abruptly, those who are grieving, those who are injured, the vulnerable and those who are still searching for their lost loved ones. Dear Swami, may they feel Your Healing Hand, Your comfort and Your Grace.

Gayatri Bikoo
Chairperson, Region 2, SSSSO UK

3rd ‘Sai Prema’ Prayer Meeting for Nepal; Bedford, UK

On Monday 25th May 2015, devotees from Region 3 joined together at Foster Hill Sai Centre in Bedford, to send their love and prayers to all those affected by the earthquakes in Nepal.

The Divine presence of our Dearest Bhagwan and his radiant energy was evident from the very outset and felt by all devotees present.

To put perspective on the earthquake we were fortunate to have first hand experience of the aftermath from Mr Peter Bashford, a member of the Foster Hill Sai Centre, who runs a charity called Asha Nepal, a human rights organisation working towards the social and economic empowerment of women and children affected by trafficking, abuse and child labour.

Mr Bashford described the fortitude of volunteers working at one of the foster homes who were turning up for work daily despite having either lost loved ones or their homes. Volunteers were also sleeping outside with the children. He went on to describe the fear amongst people and the love that they very much needed.

Prior to the commencement of the chanting, brother Kapil Dev Prasher, the Region 3 Youth Coordinator, guided devotees through the messages of love and support that could be written on cards provided by the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (UK). All present were grateful to have had the opportunity to send messages and establish a Heart to Heart connection with the Brothers and Sister of Nepal.

Following this, devotees chanted the Gayatri mantra and also sang

Aum Sai Namo Namah.
Sri Sai Namo Namah
Jai Jai Sai Namo Namah
Sadguru Sai Namo Namah

We were also very fortunate to have as a guest speaker, Sri Naganand, a trustee of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust from India. Although his visit to UK was personal, we were grateful that he took time out to travel to Bedford and join us in prayer and share his experiences with us.

An eminent lawyer who attends the Supreme Court and various High Courts and Tribunals in India, Sri Naganand spoke at length about his time at the Divine Lotus Feet of Our Beloved Swami and enthralled the audience with miracles he witnessed and valuable lessons learnt. One key point raised was that although we may experience difficult situations, Swami’s Grace was always there to protect us.

He also emphasised that Bhagwan’s presence and guidance was as strong now as it was when He was in His physical form and all that we needed to do was with faith and devotion to tune in to Him. He stressed that Bhagawan’s relationship with us was heart to heart and that He did not require a third party to communicate.

The programme concluded with a vote of thanks from the brother Seelan Moodley, the Region 3 Chairperson and a Youth of Foster Hill Sai Centre. Thereafter, bhajans were rendered and Arathi was offered to Swami.

Dipika Mistry, Sathya Sai Centre of Foster Hill, Bedford
Region 3, SSSSO UK

National Easwaramma Day

Saturday 2 May 2015

We should stand united as a country. When someone asks you, ‘Where do you come from?” you should proudly say that you belong to India. Do not say you belong to Puttaparthi, Anantapur district, etc. Only those with a narrow mind will give such an answer. “I come from India,” this should be your answer. Similarly, one should not say that he comes from California, which is only a small part of America. One should say that he comes from America. Always be broadminded in your thinking. (Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol 41, Chapter 13)

With this sentiment in mind, SSE children, teachers, parents and others from across the country converged on Hatfield, Hertfordshire for this year’s National celebration of Easwaramma Day, a day designated by Swami Himself for children.

National Easwaramma Day – Festival of Love

The programme started with a children’s procession, accompanied by vibrant Vedic chanting. This was followed by a speech by Mrs Thana Yogendran, the National SSE Coordinator, to introduce the event and to remind all present about the virtues of SSE.

Vedic Chanting and children’s Procession

An SSE student then ascended the stage to lead the pledge to be recited. All present, young and old, took the solemn oath.

Next was an item called “Garland of Love”, entailing a reading from each of six different major world faiths. The reading was on love, tying in with this year’s National theme of Love and Service.

Outside the main hall, a display of entries for this year’s poster and poem event could be seen. For the poster, children had been asked to portray the value of love without the use of any text, again tying in with the National theme. One poster had been selected to appear on the programme flyer. The poems covered the subject of “Love as thought is truth; love as action is righteous conduct; love as feeling is peace; love as understanding is non-violence.” Certificates were awarded to the winners.

Posters and Poems on Love

During the three months leading up to Easwaramma Day, children around the country had also been recording their good deeds and other expressions of love in a special box, as part of a coordinated activity. These boxes were also displayed outside the main hall for all to see.

Back to the hall and it was the turn of guest speaker Mr Sai Tej Kumar to address the audience. Besides being an alumnus of the Sri Sathya Sai educational institutions in India, he is also the great-grandson of Mother Easwaramma herself. He spoke about the love Swami showered upon His students and reminded all that, having the love of a thousand mothers, Swami will give us what we request so we must therefore request wisely.

Brother Tej Kumar sharing his experiences with Swami

At this point, but not before the children sang three group devotional songs, the programme split into two. Adults remained in the hall to hear more reminiscences from Anantapur Campus alumni, followed by another talk from Sai Tej Kumar. The special guests of the day (the children), however, were taken to the dining hall to have their lunch, before they started their activities.

Talk by former students of Swami’s Anantapur Campus

These activities varied: there were placemats being made for the recipients of meals on wheels in Region 4; there were cards being made for those who suffered during the previous week’s earthquake in Nepal; and there was plant pot painting by younger children. Alongside this was an exhibition expanding on the theme of Love and its various expressions in the form of other the values. Features here included silent sitting, jigsaw making and even a charming puppet show!

Interactive exhibition

The afternoon hall session started with a musical concert by the youth and then saw each region present an item.

Musical item

Starting with a welcome dance by Region 5, there were various skits and poetry by other regions, before nearly 60 children from Region 6 filled the stage to for a musical item.

Regional performances by the children

The programme came to end with some rousing group devotional singing, whilst attendance certificates and gifts were handed out to the children. In all it was a very enjoyable day: some remarked that it was the best one in years, especially due to the large number of children present.

Roll on next year!

Today we are celebrating Easwaramma Day to propagate the glory of motherhood. The world is sustained by the prayers of mothers. A woman’s prayer is more powerful than a thousand prayers of men because women are pure and tender-hearted. Never cause displeasure to your mother. Never hurt her feelings. Then God will help you in all your endeavours. One calls one’s country motherland and not fatherland. Thus, mother is given an exalted position in the world. Consider your country as your own mother and work for its progress. Under any circumstances, do not cause any harm to your mother and motherland. This is the significance and main teaching of today’s celebration. (Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol 34, Chapter 8)

Sathya Sai National Human Values Day 2015

Love - The One Divine Principal in All

The Life and Teachings of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba shine as a Guiding Star in the human firmament helping individuals expand their consciousness through Love, and thereby, experience lasting happiness. Divine Incarnations of God have graced humanity on a few occasions since the beginning of Time to lead individuals towards their true divine nature. But none other than the glorious Sathya Sai Incarnation of Love has made us understand that Love and Service are the eternal and universal paths to our Truth, Peace and Bliss. That pure and unconditional Love itself IS the summum bonum of ALL Human Values: Truth, Right Conduct, Peace and Non-Violence in the world. That Love is the very Source, even the path and the Goal to happiness. That, in reality, Love is God!

To celebrate such a Divine Life is indeed an opportunity to remind oneself of these unique teachings and rededicate one’s resolve to follow them with gratitude. The annual Sathya Sai National Human Values Day in UK is a special event focussed on this purpose that every devotee awaits with so much enthusiasm and excitement. This year it was held in the prestigious Watford Colosseum in London on the 26th April and more than 600 devotees from all across the country participated with immense love and devotion.

Venue – Watford Colosseum and central stage

Based on the aptly titled theme, "Love - The One Divine Principle in All", the inspirational programme was a seamless integration of prayers, music, dance, talks, discussions and discourses that allowed the participants, both from the Sai family as well as guests from other religious faith communities and professional organisations, to share and bask in the warmth of a common bond of love and understanding. The entire arrangement at the Venue, including the human value banners and multifaith symbols on the stage and the beautifully illuminated pictures of Divine Masters from various Religions that installed specially in the auditorium, embraced the theme and encouraged the human spirit to soar to higher dimensions of universal and unifying Love which every world religion and every Great Master endeavours to teach humanity.

Children taking in the exhibition on Swami and His international Organisation

Religion of Love: A Multifaith Celebration

The morning began with a multifaith procession led by the SSE children holding Sarva Dharma flags and banners which carried very powerful messages on human values and universality of Swamis’s teaching. Leaders from Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Jainism, Sikhism and Hinduism joined in the procession. The procession entered the auditorium even as it was reverberating with the full-throated group singing of Sarvadharma Bhajans. The tiny tots sweetly offered their obeisance at the beautifully decorated Mahasamadhi Altar of Bhagawan and the multifaith leaders went up the dais to light the lanterns of love and unity near the throne kept for Bhagawan.

Opening procession with all the children and our multi faith guests

Dr. Kiran Patel, President of Sathya Sai Organisation UK welcomed all the participants. In his address he explained how Bhagawan Sathya Sai, with one simple yet profound word- Love -transcended race, language, culture and religion, and demonstrated to all of us the practical way to experience kinship with all beings in this world. He highlighted Bhagawan’s unfathomable magnetism of selfless love that has inspired millions across 150 countries to follow in His Footsteps and serve fellow beings in various ways by providing free education, free medical facilities, free drinking water, housing, food etc. He concluded with Swami’s quote: “When there is righteousness in heart there will be beauty in character when there is beauty in character there will be harmony in home, when there is harmony in home there will be order in the nation, when there is order in the nation there will be peace in the world”. He exhorted each one assembled to adopt these principles of Love and Service, thus contributing our bit sincerely towards individual and collective peace in the world.

Bhagawan’s Divine Discourse

A short video clip of Bhagawan’s Discourse was then played in the auditorium which the participants listened in rapturous attention. The majesty in his divine voice and in his uplifting and unifying message enthralled everyone. The eminent representatives from various religions spoke next, and it seemed as if they too were taking divine cues from Bhagawan’s discourse in articulating their wisdom through their talks. Below are brief summaries contributed by our Sai Volunteers from the guest hospitality team, who spent the day in the company of our esteemed guests.

Buddhism (Click here for videolink)

First among the series of talks was given eloquently by the world renowned and revered monk Ven. Bogoda Seelawimala, Head of London Buddhist Vihara and also the Chief Sangha Nayaka of Great Britain. The venerable monk beautifully blended his talk with quotes from Lord Buddha’s words of wisdom, coupled with reciting prayers and singing mellifluous verses and hymns.

Buddism offering by Monk Ven. Bogoda Seelawimala

He highlighted that LOVE is the core theme that runs as an undercurrent in the principles and tenets of Lord Buddha. He began his talk by defining the word Metta (roughly translated as Loving Kindness in English), and emphasised the significance of Metta as an essence of life that displaces negative aspects and feeling such as hatred, jealousy and anger. He described that one can cultivate this Loving Kindness by harvesting one’s heart with compassion. Monk Seelawimala then touched upon some practical ways to inculcate this pure love by renouncing attachments and expectations.

The revered seer later read out a verse in Pali, attributed to Lord Buddha that enunciates the efficacy of Pure Love and how it heals the several ills surrounding human existence. He referred to the recent tragedy of earthquake that struck Nepal and wreaked havoc causing insurmountable losses. He prayed for the wellbeing and peace for the people who are affected as well as those who are helping and supporting them. The revered monk ended his insightful talk on Love by reciting a prayer in Pali language, which aims to provide succour, peace and love to one and all.

Speaking about his experiences from the event, the revered monk has all praise for the event, its content and the people involved.

Pardha Sarathi Mantravadi,

Islam (Click here for videolink)

Islam was represented by Mulla Ebrahim Rashid and Rizwan Bhai, from Hyderai Islamic Centre, London. Mullah Ebrahim Rashid spoke sincerely about the true values of Islam and the correct interpretation of the Islamic teachings.

He said that he and his group saw this event as an unique opportunity to express the need for on-going and continuous dialogue between the different faiths. This he felt was necessary to reduce tensions between different communities and the risk of young people straying away from the true path. Particulary in current times, he said that a shared event such as this helps to promote a better understanding of the true Islamic path of Peace. Such opportunities also allow people to share their experiences without fear and in an understanding environment of Love and Peace. He congratulated our Organisation and expressed his eagerness to participate in any future events of such shared learning.

Ilamic presentation by by Mulla Ebrahim Rashid and Rizwan Bhai

Pradip Trivedi,

Christianity (Click here for videolink)

Christianity was represented by Sister Chrisitne Brown, a member of the International Congregation of Catholic Nuns. She belongs to Waltham Forest women’s interfaith network, a branch of National Women’s Interfaith Network.

Throughout the day, she demonstrated her preference for a simple and sincere exchange with others, always very thoughtful of other people, and she engaged in conversation very readily with leaders of other faiths. During her talk on Love, she humoured everyone by ringing her bell and quoting from Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem” in a loud voice:

"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”

It was an important reminder of our fragility and of our failings, our ‘cracks’, yet a great message of love and hope. She encouraged everyone to continue loving God in all, despite our frailties, for this is the only way to pure happiness and light. She spoke with simplicity and humour, yet with great strength, and everyone enjoyed her presentation, and found her wonderful and inspiring.

Christianity represented by Sister Chrisitne Brown

Pierrette Poirot, Southampton

Jainism (Click here for videolink)

Jainism was represented by Dr Vinod Kapashi, President of the Mahavir foundation. He is an eminent writer, and has authored 16 books, and is associated with the World Congress of Faiths.

Following a brief introduction to his talk, Dr Kapashi invited two young children on stage for a dance depiction of Jain worship. Aishwarya Rajkumar Shah and Princess Rajkumar Shah, then performed the famous and sacred Namaskara mantra, to the great delight of all the assembled delegates. The two received a much deserved warm applause.

Dr. Kapashi then elaborated on the ancient Jain religion which teaches that the way to liberation and bliss is to live lives of harmlessness and renunciation.

He explained that the essence of Jainism is concern for the welfare of every being in the universe and for the health of the universe itself.

Dr Vinod Kapashi and children from the Jainism faith

Darshan Patel, Cheltenham

Hinduism (Click here for videolink)

Hinduism was represented by Krishna Subrahmanian, an investment banker and alumni from Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Prasanthi Nilayam, India.

He introduced Hinduism as a religion that enables man to conduct a journey from Ashanti to Prashanti (Restlessness to Supreme Peace) through the practise of human values. He made an interesting observation that Spirituality being a solution to a problem, it becomes necessary to understand the problem well. And so Hinduism enables us to first understand Ashanti- the restlessness that troubles one, and then guides one along the paths of human values to Peace. He elaborated in a scholarly way that Hinduism identifies three aspects which initially appear as distinct entities- I (Aham), Universe (Idam) and God (Tath). All problems in life are because of an incorrect relationship between the three.

Hinduism represented by Mr Krishna Subrahmanian and the audience

Quoting the Vedas, he explained that resolving the identity between the three and establishing relationship between the three is necessary. This journey begins from the transformation of Aham- I. In order to start from ‘I’, one needs to purify the mind with Truth (Sathyam) and practice of Dharma (Righteousness). Divine love will spring only by following Sathya and Dharma. When it comes to Idam , one who is good-hearted, for him the whole world is one family. Hence, Love and Non-violence are the basis of relationship between Aham and Idam. When it comes to Tath, it is the very God that we worship. We should see everything as a manifestation of God be it human being, animal or even trees or plants. Whatever be His true nature we should offer our salutations. Perfect Harmony and Bliss can be attained only when unity of all three Aham – I, Idam –manifest Universe and Tath – God happens.

Aneet Govindarajan, Mill Hill

Sikhism (Click here for videolink)

The Sikh Group from Croydon Gurdwara represented the Youth wing of their organisation. Mr Sunni Singh at the outset welcomed us all and spoke about the spiritual and service activities they undertake, as well as our mutual interests. The group greatly appreciated the opportunity to share with the SSSO the key message of Love from their Religion. They embraced the universality of Bhagawan Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings on Pure Love and Selfless Service.

Representation from the Sikh faith, Sunni Singh offering his thoughts

Daksha Trivedi, Hatfield

After this amazing offering of a bouquet of inspiring multifaith presentations in the morning, and a sumptuous take away bag full of tasty food for lunch, delegates enjoyed the afternoon session packed with music, dance and interactive panel discussions.

What could be more energising after a sumptuous lunch than watching angelic SSE children from Region 3 perform a highly aesthetically choreographed multifaith dance with purity, precision and full of love. As the dance concluded with Bhagawan’s Message that God is one and that God is Love, the auditorium roared in thunderous applause from the audience.

Children from Region 3 offering an enthralling multi faith dance enthralling the audience

Human Values in Nation Building: Panel Discussion

This was followed by a lively Panel Discussion on the theme ‘Human Values in Nation Building’, anchored and led by Shitu Chudasama, former President of UK Sathya Sai Organisation and International Youth Co-ordinator, and currently serving as a member on the Publications Committee of Prasanthi Council. Brother Shitu started by first highlighting Bhagawan’s miracle in curing and healing people through the love He showered upon them.
He then brought attention to the challenge that is being faced in Britain today in fostering and integrating the Five human values of peace, love, truth ,right-conduct and non-violence in our societies. He shared that all people from all professions should consider taking an active role in promoting community cohesion through value-orientation and integration. He then invited three renowned professionals from the fields of education, music and police onto the panel for what was to be a very interesting and engaging discussion.

Chief Constable of Sussex Police, Mr Giles York, first gave a brief but insightful talk on Human Values in Leadership. It was impressive to note that his work and dedication has led to the Sussex Police being regularly in the Stonewall top 100 employees. He was also awarded the Queens Policing medal in the 2015 New Years Honours.

In his humble but intelligent demeanour, Mr York explained how he strives to do the best he can in his various roles as a policeman, a public leader and as a family man. Mr York, in a humorous but sincere manner explained how he finds it difficult to maintain the value of non-violence in the job that he does. He mused that his focus on upholding Truth and Right Conduct gave him the necessary balance and clarity whilst facing these challenges. He then shared about his role as a public leader, where his focus similarly is not just on what to say but, more importantly, on how one could say it. Mr York felt that in relating to the community or family, compassion is very important.

Shitu Chudasama and Chief Constable of Sussex Police, Mr Giles York opening the panel discussion

A video with a powerful message from Head Teacher Mr Tim Foster followed, on the impact that human values have had on Abbey Primary Community School in Leicester. He explained that Abbey was held together by the golden thread of human values and also explained how important it is to set up human values systems in schools. Mr Dipak Fakey OBE, Director of Institute of Sathya Sai Education, UK and one of the panellists on the day, explained the triangle of the society- the child, the teacher and the parent- and how each one of them needs to take the responsibility to make the children, who are like little buds, enlightened with human values. He further explained how to incorporate human values in daily life responsibly with practical and real life examples from his model of the Good Values Clubs in Schools, which are based on Bhagawan’s Principles on human values and serve as a stepping stone for integrating values seamlessly.

Mr Deepak Fakey OBE and Dana Gillespie offering their thoughts on the panel

Dana Gillespie, the internationally renowned musician, was the other eminent member on the panel who shared her experience that people across the world are same and God is one! Dana beautifully explained that the more she travelled, the more people seem the same. This further reinforced to her Swami’s teachings that all religions are one and all people are same. She felt that music and arts brings light to dark places.

The Mayor of Harrow Councillor Ajay Maru then delivered the Mayoral Address, which in a way, summed up the Panel Discussion. He started off beautifully quoting Bhagawan Bab: Love in thought is truth , Love in action is right conduct, Love in feeling is peace, Love in understanding is non-violence. Councillor Ajay Maru emphasised that only when we preserve human values in our character and conduct, will we be able to transform others. He touched upon actions of love, kindness, appreciation and the message he conveyed clearly was “ Practice what you preach”.

Mayor address by Councillor Ajay Maru and the audience watching the programme

Love The Love: Human Values Concert

After a quick break, when delicious ice-cream was served to the immense delight of all delegates, and an inspiring video was shown on Sathya Sai Organisation’s service activities across the rural and urban India, it was time to enjoy an enthralling Human Values Music Concert, ‘Love the Love’, by none other than Dana Gillespie.

The fantastic Dana Gillespie with a very memorable musical performance

Dana started off with Salam-alaikum song; the intensity in her voice, the devotion that oozed out of her, and the energy that vibrated across the massive hall was something that left us all in heavenly bliss and connected us so much with our one and only Avatar of Love, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Dana went on to render many other amazing songs some of which were Om Shakti, Guardian Blue angel, and finally Allah Hu Akbar! Words cannot describe our happiness when we listened and enjoyed the powerful and inspiring rendition of Dana. It was a heavenly experience that left us all in bliss and connected us with our Bhagawan intensely.

The uplifting celebrations ended with the offering of Arathi to Bhagawan. It seemed that every heart sang and danced, thanking him in love and gratitude, for the divine inspiration He continues to give us in leading our lives meaningfully with Love, and for Love! And one could perhaps attempt to summarise the wondrous celebrations on the day in a few simple words as follows:

S – Selfless Love
W- Words of Wisdom
A – Attaining divinity
M- Manifestation of God
I – Infinite blessings, blessings and blessings...

Compiled by

Aneet Govindarajan
Dr Veeru Mudigonda

Region 1 - Young Adults Programme

On the 18th April, the youth of region 1 got together at Swathi ben and Jitesh bhai’s house for the regular monthly Young Adults programme (YAP) for a BHA-JAM. Initially the idea was to do two activities consisting of bhajan composing and video editing. However, all the youth that attended, including myself, thought it may be fun and interesting to delve into an area that we had never done before, so we all participated in a bhajan-jamming session, entitled Bha-jam.

The session was led by Mathurini Visakan, a youth member and professional Carnatic singing teacher who has conducted many music composition workshops at centre, regional and national levels.

Mathurini started by explaining her own journey with Swami and how bhajan writing came about in her own life, before providing us with inspiration through showing us her own bhajan compositions.

She then, separated the youth into two groups with varying musical abilities within each group (to keep it a fair playing ground!) whereby each group had to come up with a bhajan. In order to provide a starting point for this, Mathurini handed out sheets of paper with various words on it, and asked the groups to pick out words that depicted either each person’s individual relationship with Swami or what Swami meant to them.

She then asked the groups to come up with lines using these words as a starting point and suggested ideas on melodies and how a bhajan should be structured.

The teams then went away and whilst some would argue, that certain melodies sounded like existing popular songs from Indian films, both teams produced different yet beautiful bhajans.

When hunger called, Swathi ben had lovingly prepared us Mexican bean wraps with guacamole,salad, salsa and crisps. As if this wasn’t enough, Swathi ben also made delicious mango cupcakes which makes my mouth water even thinking about it! After the inspirational Bhojan, we had a couple more rounds of practising our compositions before we finally presented this to each other and to Swathi ben and Jitesh bhai, who had lovingly opened up their home for us to use.

This session’s YAP was hugely inspiring and made us all come away feeling like we too could compose our own bhajans.

Sai Vinothan Visakan
Region 1

Region 2 - A Youthful Easter

Easter celebrations at the Sathya Sai Centre of Harrow West on fifth of April 2015, was conducted by the Youth and the SSE children. Throughout the one and a half hours of celebrations, all the prayers and songs were in English, a way of respecting and creating Christian vibrations within our centre. With the commence of the Lord’s Prayer the young lead us to the Shaker tuned hymn “Lord of Dance”. The rhythmic melody took me to the scene where Jesus, riding on a donkey, was welcomed as the King of Jews with palm branches as he entered Jerusalem. This day is now known as Palm Sunday and falls a week before Easter.

Our hearts were then warmed into a journey of English Bhajans. A variety from simple melodic, “A Temple in my heart, a prayer in my soul” to the more yearning “Every moment of my life please be with me” were sung which captivated our hearts into the thoughts of Swami and Christ.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:17). This verse reminds me of the selfless way of life that Jesus lead; Even on the cross he bore no illness towards those who mocked him and threw stones at him. Instead he removed all the people’s karma and poured forth compassion and forgiveness. As he was crucified on Good Friday and resurrected on Easter Sunday, he reminded us all of the heavenly calling to God for liberation.

Following the melodious bhajans, two older SSE students held a small presentation drawing up the similarities between Jesus and Swami’s teachings. How can two avatars born of love be any different? The children proved that indeed there is no difference. Jesus said: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who ill-treat you.” Similarly Swami has said: “Let the brilliance of love envelop you, spread from you, taking into its fold your kith and kin, the loved ones, friends, strangers, foes, rivals, enemies.” In another example, the children looked at finding faults in fellow human beings: Jesus said, “Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you.” To concur, Swami has said “Do not try to find fault with others; search, rather for your own.”

As a youth and SSE teacher, I thoroughly enjoyed this programme set out by fellow youth and the SSE children. I am sure our beloved Father Sai was pleased with the prayers, bhajans and the Easter presentation. Easter is a time for spiritual reflection and I remember from the beautiful bhajan “Remind me my Lord” that “I am love, I am love, pure love”!

Jai Sai Ram!

Maathini Balachandran
(Youth and Group 2 Year 2 SSE Teacher, Sathya Sai Centre of Harrow West), Region 2.

Region 2 - Easwaramma Celebrations & Re-Commencement of SSE Classes at Harrow East Sai Centre

With the divine blessing of our dearest Swami and on His auspicious 90th advent year, the Sri Sathya Sai Centre of Harrow East re-commences its SSE wing. Over six years ago the centre had to send its SSE children to other centres and close its classes due to restrictions imposed by the venue at the time. Whilst the centre continued with its remaining wings: Service, Spiritual and Youth, there was a small emptiness felt by the absence of the SSE wing for many years.

Having now relocated and settled into a new venue, the centre office bearers decided the time was right to re-establish the SSE wing. With the guidance and support from our Region 2 chair sister,Gayatri Bikoo and Region 2 SSE coordinator, sister Shyama Jeyaseelan, plans were made to re-establish SSE classes at the centre.

It was felt most appropriate to inaugurate the SSE Wing on the day when the centre would be holding the Easwaramma Celebrations on Sunday 10th May 2015. It just so happened that on the day itself, we had exactly 9 children starting. This was in no way planned as we have been accepting all applications for the past two months for the commencement of SSE classes. I recalled a large youth group interview I was once part of in a medical camp in Prasanthi. The doctors were presenting Swami with large figures of the number of operations they planned to do and I quite clearly remember Swami said to start with 9!

The ceremonies commenced with the new batch of SSE children themselves singing beautifully the bhajans that they had been practicing with our bhajan coordinator for the past few weeks. The vibrancy of the centre was changed and immediately felt by the presence of the young children once again at our centre. All dressed in white and with beaming smiles and joyful faces, the children brought their love and light that was felt by all.

The bhajans offerings were followed by a message on mother Easwaramma from one of the young SSE girls.

This was followedby our National SSE coordinator sister Thana Yogendran gave her key note speech in which she gave anecdotes which intrigued and engaged the children. We were also very grateful for the invaluable support and attendance of our Region 2 SSE coordinator sister Shyama Jeyaseelan who also gave her loving words of support and encouragement in her talk.

Our newly appointed centre SSE Coordinator, sister Pritiben Tailor, addressed the audience next on the importance and value of the SSE education.

The session was followed by Sister Thana presenting token gifts to the first batch of SSE children and group photo session.

My final remarks concluded the session reminding all that the children joining have the immense good fortune of being now in the fold of this organisation and to go through the SSE education will help restore Dharma in the world and in that process also help them find their own way back to God. As Swami says

Start Early, Drive Slowly and reach Safely!

Kiran Mistry
Centre Chair – Sathya Sai Centre of Harrow East, Region 2

Region 2 - Easwaramma Day Celebrations at Harrow West Sai Centre

Easwaramma day 2015 was celebrated with devotion and joy at the Sri Sathya Sai Centre of Harrow West. During this special year of our beloved Swami's 90th advent, the loving offerings made by the SSE children to Swami are memorable in many ways.

The altar looked beautiful in pink, with Mother Easwarmma's picture enhancing its beauty. After the initial prayers, bhajans were sung melodiously by the children, some of whom were singing for the very first time. As did the congregation, Swami would have enjoyed their singing very much, filled with devotion and love.

The newly formed SSE orchestra did a wonderful presentation with just a few weeks of practise. A familiar bhajan was played and sung by 16 musicians! The musical instruments included the trumpet, flute, veena, violin, electric guitar, saxophone, clarinet, recorders, harmoniums and tablas. It was truly spectacular to watch and listen to these talented children.

The Nursery and G1 children performed 2 plays from the early life of Swami. Little Sathya and Easwaramma reminded us all how loving and caring Swami always was, to his friends as well as the poor and the needy.

The G3Y1 class performed a short sketch of Swami Vivekananda's life story. The child performing as Swami Vivekananda was aptly named Vivek Anand and did a wonderful job of portraying the character. When the famous words were spoken, "Sisters and Brothers of America", one could feel the impact of Swami Vivekananda's speech all those years ago. Thunderous applause followed the drama, so well presented by all 4 children, the 2 narrators, Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Swami Vivekananda.

The G3Y3 children did a short reading of Mother Easwaramma’s loving requests to Swami. Because of her love and compassion, Swami created the water, education and health care projects for the needy.

Finally, the children were presented with Sai books, encouraging them to read, enjoy and practise Swami’s teachings. The programme concluded with Aarti and closing prayers.

Today's wonderful programme was an example of how the love, encouragement and teachings from the SSE teachers and commitment and support of the parents worked wonders to bring out the talents of our beautiful children. Thank you Swami for showering us with Your grace and guidance.

With love and gratitude at Swami’s Divine Lotus Feet

SSE team
Sri Sathya Sai Centre of Harrow West

Region 2 - Mahashivarathri Celebrations

Maha Shivarathri – a night to merge the mind in God

Devotees from region 2 and beyond came together to celebrate one of the holiest of festivals in the Hindu calendar - Maha Shivarathri on Tuesday 17th February 2015 at Oxhey Wood Primary School in Watford – and what an auspicious occasion it was.

From the moment one entered through the double doors of the venue and was met by the divine fragrance of the burning incense at the front altar, and allowed to offer abhishekham to the Shiva Linga placed there in front of a most striking picture of Lord Shiva, the mind was tuned to God.

In the main prayer hall, the beautifully decorated altar in shimmering blue with a picture of our beautiful Bhagawan in the middle and his chair on the right, with a smaller picture of Lord Shiva on the left, soothed the sight and filled the mind with an inevitable excitement for the evening of prayers and chanting that was to follow.

Sister Gayatri, the new regional chair welcomed everyone and on this holy night, with the garland of Devotion around our neck and our thoughts, words and deeds saturated with Divine Love, the event started at 8pm with invocatory prayers including Ganesh prayer, Gayatri mantra and Sai Gayatri followed by over 2 hours of the most uplifting bhajans dedicated to Lord Shiva, sung with great fervour and accompanied by tabla, harmonium and other musical instruments played by some of the most talented musicians in Region 2. As the divine vibrations filled the air both inside and outside the hall, one couldn’t fail to be moved by the palpable energy that was the surest sign of our Lord’s divine presence.

Bhajans then made way for a short meditation on Sohum and a video clip from Radio Sai about the significance and importance of Maha Shivarathri. This is a festival that Swami has talked much about in his discourses and stressed the importance of on many an occasion. The festival of Shivarathri is a monthly event in the Indian calendar – marked by the 14th day of the dark night of the month where only a fraction of the moon remains. The moon being the presiding deity of the mind and the ultimate goal of all sadhana (spiritual striving) being to eliminate the mind and move beyond maya to attain mergence with God, Shivarathri offers us the opportunity to easily subdue the mind through puja or japam or dhyaana (ritual worship, one-pointed repetition of holy names and meditation), be as close to God as possible.

Then once a year when Shivarathri falls in the month of Phalguna we celebrate Maha Shivarathri which not only marks the emergence of the Linga (symbolising the formless aspect of Lord Shiva) millions of years ago but also the union of Shiva (symbolising Paramapurusha or the Eternal Absolute) and Shakti (symbolising Prakriti or nature). As our beloved Swami puts it, this day is dedicated to recognising the Shiva that is in each of us. During a discourse Swami delivered on Maha Shivarathri in February 1969, he said:

'If you make the slightest effort to move along the Path of your own liberation, the Lord will help you a hundred-fold. That is the hope that Maha Shivarathri conveys to you. Man is called so, because he has the skill to do manana; manana means inner meditation on the meaning and significance of what one has heard. Resolve, on this Holy Shivarathri in the Presence of Shiva Sai, to visualise the Shiva as the inner power of all.'

Many Sai devotees will also know this as the day that our beloved Lord would often materialise the auspicious Linga from his stomach known as Lingodbhavam (emergence of the Linga), in front of thousands of devotees gathered in Sai Kulwant Hall in Prashanti Nilayam during his earthly sojourn.

So what is so special about the Shiva Linga and why is it revered so highly? Swami says the Linga is the fittest symbol of the All-pervasive, the All-knowing, the All-powerful. It is a symbol, a sign, an illustration, of the beginningless, the endless, the limitless - for it has no limbs, no face, no feet, no front or back, no beginning or end. As a matter of fact, Linga means leeyathe (that in which all forms and names merge) and gamyathe (that towards which all names and forms are proceeding, to attain fulfilment).

Having thus been reminded of the significance of Maha Shivarathri, devotees were then blessed to witness a most sacred and divine Maha Rudra Abhisekam performed by Pandit Chandrasekara who is the 12th generation of Head Priests who lead the rituals at the Madhurai Meenakshi Amman Temple in South India.

Against a backdrop of powerful chanting of the Sri Rudram and Chamakam,
the Maha Abhishekam was performed and consisted of 11 types of offerings, including milk, curd, ghee, honey, fruits, tender coconuts etc, with each offering bearing a religious significance.

This was followed by more bhajans, chanting of the 300 names of Lord Shiva, Mantra pushpam, Chatur Vedam, Lingastakam, and Bilvastakam.

The Holy Night culminated at 01:30 with Mangala Arathi, Vibhuti Mantra and Kshama Prarthna.

Afterwards Sister Bharti, the regional vice-chair thanked Pandit Chandrasekera and all those who made the event possible, including our beloved Bhagavan and told the congregation, ‘Let’s make this the start of a continuous journey of contemplation on God and let him guide us through our days. But unlike New Year’s resolutions which slowly start to fade, let this resolution be a firm one, both individually and collectively, and let us work together to nurture our spiritual progress.’

So this event gave devotees the opportunity to come together and collectively merge their mind in God through prayer, meditation and puja and make the most of such a sacred and divine occasion in the spiritual calendar.

Om Sai Ram
Priya Kotecha
Spiritual Coordinator

For more information

Click on this link to watch the video - http://media.radiosai.org/journals/vol_11/01MAR13/Significance-of-Shivaratri-A-short-video-presentation.htm

Click on this link to read Swami’s MahaShivarathri discourse delivered in February 1969 – http://sssbpt.info/ssspeaks/volume09/sss09-03.pdf

Click on this link to read about the significance of Shiva Linga in a discourse delivered by Swami in 1971 http://sssbpt.info/ssspeaks/volume11/sss11-13.pdf

Region 2 - SSE Poems

Love as thought is truth

Love is the base to being good, it should be unconditional
Right conduct is next, with doing right things at the right time
Non violence means no fighting and not teasing or being mean
Peace will spread throughout the world if we follow this
Truth will be found once we embrace these values in thought, word and deed

By Sriya Moparthi
SSSC of Pinner
G2Y1

Love over violence

Sell love over violence
And get paid respect
This will be your guidance
Sorrow is what you’ll eject

It’s time to stand up
It’s time to say ‘Stop!’
Start a spiritual club
With non violence at the top

Sell love over violence
And get paid with love
This will be your guidance
To fly in the sky above

It’s time to fly high
And reach the heavenly sky
Don’t you ever be shy
Violence is what you deny...

Yogya Gupta
SSSC of London West
G2Y3

Love

Love in action is,
Committing to the person whom you love
Love in action is,
Loving people for who they are.
Love in action is,
Having something to offer others
Love in action is,
Respect everyone and earn respect from others.
Love in action is,
Talking through your problems
Love in action is,
Loving without expecting anything in return

By Neel Thakkar
SSSC of Harrow West
G2Y3

Region 2 - Vedam Chantings by SSE Children from Region 2 in the House of Parliament

Love is My Form, Truth is My Breath, Bliss is My Food, So says Baba...Sathya Sai Baba...Our Lord.....

So are Sai’s enchanted gardens stretching into vastness and one such beautiful garden is the Sathya Sai centre of Slough.

One day, a Swami’s messenger came to the centre and slowly but gently sowed the seeds of VEDAM deep in the hearts of everyone, especially in the little ones’ hearts. Then the messenger flew away to move on with the next task.

Next came a gardener to look after the seeds and with his shears of selfless love and patience, the seeds burst out into tiny buds. These tiny buds have such a loving association with the gardener that they reciprocated the Vedam chanting swaying their heads for Sai Maa.

Take one step towards to me and I will take 100 steps towards you. So says Baba..Sathya Sai Baba… Our Lord

As these buds took a small step in learning and chanting Rudram, our loving Swami came forward and took these buds to the British Parliament. Yes, these tiny buds the SSE children chanted Vedam on the occasion of Ugadi, the Telegu New year celebration which was held in the UK House of Parliament on 25th of March 2015.

SSE children singing Vedam in the UK House of Parliament

SSE children singing Vedam in the UK House of Parliament

We would have liked to take all the SSE children, but due to space constraints and other practical issues, five boys got the opportunity for the divine chanting. Among them were two brothers who also presented a beautiful Carnatic song.

Two SSE brothers singing a Carnatic song in the UK House of Parliament

In a hall enriched with an amalgamation of cultures, with Swami’s blessings, the audience was enthralled by the children’s performance. Among those were three Hindu priests who congratulated and blessed the children and also complimented the teacher for the perfection in teaching.

One of the priests then explained the importance of Gayatri Mantra to the children. He said, “It’s neither IT, nor face book that is feeding me. It’s Gayatri Mantra alone that gives me a respectable position in life”.

We offer our deep gratitude to Swami for sending a messenger, Brother Aneesh Mohan to sow the Divine seeds in one of His garden and a devoted gardener, Brother Joe Venkat to lovingly nurture the seeds. The children in this Sai garden are from different backgrounds speaking mainly English. Sanskrit is not an easy language and that too, Vedam chantings but with love and patience, our gardener cultivated Rudram chantings in all the children of different age group.

We are grateful to Mr Ramesh Vudatu of the Telugu NRI Forum for trusting us with this great opportunity and to all the SSE teachers and parents for their dedication and commitment.

Our final appreciation goes to the sweet SSE children for their achievement. We pray to our beloved Swami that these buds will soon blossom into beautiful flowers in the Sai’s garden and further soak it with His effulgence so that each bud becomes an instrument in spreading Swami’s love.

Samastha Loka Sukhino Bhavantu

With Love,
Madhuri Aithamaraju
SSE teacher, Sathya Sai Centre of Slough

Region 2 – EGGStravaganza!

As part of the on-going Young Adult Programme,in line with the 2015 theme of Love and Selfless Service, Region 2 was appealed to donate Easter eggs.

Swami explains “Seva (selfless service) can be identified by means of two basic characteristics: compassion and willingness to sacrifice”.
SSS 15.31: November 19, 1981

The Youth of Region 2 initiated the Ceiling on Desires programme, whereby all were encouraged to give up something and practice keeping desires under control. Instead of inordinate spending for our own pleasure, we chose to spend the money raised for the relief of paediatric and elderly patients. This year, Region 2 targeted distribution to 3 local hospitals: - Hillingdon, Watford General and West Middlesex.

As there were so many donations from the devotees, we also were fortunate to donate eggs to other organisations like Access Storage, Mencap, Ashford Childrens Home, Skanda Vale and Mother Teresa Soup Kitchen. There was great participation from SSE children, youth and adults across the region. Many of us could not believe how many eggs were collected within such a short period – in fact an EGGStravaganza as we collectively managed to collect over 700 eggs!

On Monday, March 30, Youth began the distribution of Easter eggs at the West Middlesex Hospital. Nurse Staff at the children’s unit were overwhelmed allowing us personally distribute the eggs in the wards.

It was amazing to see the Nurse staff and other medical professionals show much love in action, 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week taking care of their patients. We were all inspired by the courage of the patients, and personally delivering eggs was a gratifying experience for the Region 2 Youth to offer our love honourably to serve God verily Himself.

Swami profoundly states “Seva (selfless service) is the adoration of the Lord as Vishwa-Virat Swarupa, God with multifaced form and with immanence in the entire cosmos. The Vedas described Him as “thousand headed, thousand-eyed, thousand-footed”. The thousands of hands and eyes and feet are all His, the Lord’s. Worship Him. That is the purpose of your seva. And He is none other than your own Self. Do not count an individual as just an individual. The individual has God within him or within her as the reality. Be aware of that”.
SSS 8.33: September 22, 1968

There were some instances where Swami showed his presence atWest Middlesex Hospital, including an incident where we met a particular patient who at first was not interested in receiving the Easter egg. The patient was interested to know where we were from. One of the members began to describe that we were from the Sri SathyaSai Service Organisation, tears of disbelief and joy started to roll down the patients face. The patient kindly urged her Son to take the Eggs as prasadam which was received with a very warm and welcoming “Sai Ram” as her Son told us that she felt that Swami had himself come specially to show he is Omnipresent.

In addition, whilst distributing Easter eggs,some visitors were seen with Vibhuti on their forehead, urging us to say Sai Ram. It was soon discovered that the visitors were from Leicester Sai Centre!

On Friday, April 3, Youth began the second Easter egg distribution at Hillingdon Hospital. Another great opportunity where we were able to serve in particular the Paediatric wards. Again, the Youth were able to personally distribute the Easter eggs to the very brave paediatric patients.

On Monday, April 6, Youth began distribution at Watford General. Some Youth from Region 1 were also able to join; there was great unity and bond between the Youth. Swami very profoundly states unity in diversity being essential to Selfless service:

“What a single individual cannot accomplish, a well-knit group or society can achieve. A person walking alone will feel tired and miserable at the end of five miles but walking with ten others as a group he or she will find the five miles a jaunt. That person arrives refreshed and strong. Social living contributes increased happiness and more efficient effort among birds and beasts. They are able to defend themselves from enemies, secure food and shelter and migrate to places beyond great distances when they act as a group. Even ants have learned that immense benefits are derivable from group activity and social organisation. Monkeys also live in groups for greater security and happier lives. Let me tell you that nothing is impossible to achieve if an organised society is set on achieving it. Even liberation from material entanglement (moksha) can be won through serving and promoting the progress of society. Through the sense of unity, the willingness to sacrifice and the softness of compassion all objects can be gained”.
SSS 15.31: November 19, 1981

It was very satisfying to hear from one of the Staff nurse describing it as “spreading the love”. This very much summed up this year’s Easter YAP Programme – an enriching feeling of spreadinglove and
kindness, in the name of our beloved Sai.

We also received many letters of gratitude from some of the hospitals for the donation of eggs:

We offer this effort at Sai’s lotus feet, with deep gratitude for the blessed opportunity, and we look forward to next year’s Easter activities and building on our current relationships at each of the hospitals.

Until next time, that’s all yolks!

With Loving Sai Rams

On behalf of the Region 2 Youth Team
Vishal Paul

Region 3 - Central London Sai Centre: Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday 5th April @ 9.50 am

It is Easter Sunday, 5th April, at 9.50 am. I meet Sai devotees from the Sri Sathya Sai Centre of Central London outside Westminster tube station, exit 4. Together we head towards Norton House, a care home for the aged, to sing Easter hymns to the residents. Empowered by the message of Jesus’s love, compassion and forgiveness, our hearts are filled with joy!

Coming from a Russian Christian Orthodox background and being absorbed by Swami’s teachings and Yoga scriptures, I think: what is the real message of Christ? What are the differences and similarities of Christ’s teachings and Swami’s? And what is the deeper reason behind the everlasting conflict between different religions? I am willing to explore all of this, through my heart, and through the Easter experience.

10.10 am - We go through the gates of Norton House and we’ve some time to rehearse and prepare.

Our audience starts gathering close to 11, and we see some have dressed up for the occasion; their effort feels so warming.

Our songs takes the audience through the events of the last week of Jesus’s life. Entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, welcomed by the crowd shouting “Hosanna!” (which means “Please save us!”), then onto Thursday of that week, when Jesus shares the “Last Supper” with his disciples, and gives them the new commandment: “That you love one another as I have loved you”.

On Friday, Jesus, an innocent man, is sentenced to death by a few ignorant people. While dying on the cross in the midst of unbearable pain, Jesus says: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And then, finally, onto the Sunday and Jesus's disciples' discovery that his death doesn’t mean the end of his life! Although he is buried in a tomb guarded by Roman soldiers, Jesus rises to life again, and in the ensuing days appears repeatedly to over five hundred people, proving his existence, before ascending into the heavens 40 days later.

We finish our hymns around noon and have tea with our listeners. Ann - one of the care home residents - tells me she loves music and that her son is a musician, and she’s so proud of him. We had noticed many of the residents singing along, and, when the time comes to leave, we receive very hearty handshakes and it feels that the message of joy and hope has reached the souls and hearts of our lovely hosts. 'Shine Jesus shine, fill this land with the Father’s glory!’ We now head to the Sri Sathya Sai Centre of Central London, to prepare for our Easter programme there starting at 4pm!

Our programme at the Centre is heart breaking – ‘There in the garden of tears, my heavy load he chose to bear…’. As one of Jesus's disciples, I am sharing the last supper with him and listening to his commandment - ‘True love is patient, not arrogant or boastful, love bears all things, love is eternal’. On Friday, I am witnessing one of the world’s worst injustices! I am walking along with Jesus up the hill, carrying the cross in the burning sun - my heart is filled with grief beyond any description; ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?'. I am dying with Jesus. I rise from the dead on Sunday with Jesus. This is very emotional! I can hardly hold the tears running from my eyes. ‘Then sings my soul, my saviour God to thee, how great thou art, how great thou art!

Jesus Christ was born of 'flesh’, like man. He lived a life in which he was tempted like all other men, yet unlike all other men he had the power to resist the temptations of the flesh. He overcame these impulses and lived a perfect life of obedience, fulfilling God’s will. Jesus said:

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever" (John 6:51)

Jesus told us, we too can be filled with the spirit of God, if we turn to God and give up our insincere, vain pursuit of earthly treasures; if we do, we can also call God Our Father. Isn’t this the same with Swami’s teachings? Controlling our senses and worldly pursuits in order to experience true Divine Love?

“God is love; Love is God. Love is linked to love. When one is full of love He is fit for oneness with God. It is most vital for everyone to recognise and practise this Love Principle.” (Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 29; Chapter 52)

In my heart, I come to the conclusion that there is no difference between Love and service; all the paths lead to union with God or Yoga. 'Christ in me is to live!’

Maria Canas

Region 3 – Easter Service Activity

Aum Sri Sai Ram

The theme for 2015 is the Year of Love and Selfless Service. What better way to convey this message in not only our words but also our actions. On Friday 3rd April (Good Friday) youth from Region 3 joined together to partake in distribution of Easter eggs. This involved collection and distribution of chocolate Easter eggs to spread Swami’s love to people/patients in their time of need. This year, we collected in excess of 200 eggs and circa 500 hand-knitted items of clothing, hand puppets and blankets for young children and newborn babies. Swami’s presence was felt as such a large region collaborated to participate in this act of unconditional love and service.

Swami himself lived a life of service and love: “if you lift the hand to serve, to help, to console, to encourage another man you are lifting it for God, because in every man is God.” With this in mind, youth distributed to a number of hospitals – Great Ormands’ Street Hospital (GOSH), King George’s and Whipp’s Cross Hospital. Due to some hospital regulations, we were not able to personally hand out some of the Easter eggs but were able to hand to staff that could hand them out. A letter of thanks was received from the hospital in appreciation of the efforts put into delivering Easter eggs to them on.

The hand knitted items of clothing, blankets and puppets were delivered to the maternity ward of Whipp’s Cross Hospital and GOSHH. What better place than the maternity ward to deliver such items! The effects of this were apparent; whilst delivering these items, youth were not only greeted with smiles and gasps of joy, additionally, words of gratitude and thanks. The hospitals were expecting to receive chocolate eggs only, however received items of clothing and warm blankets for new born babies. Seeing as part of Easter signifies the celebration of new life it is not just a mere coincidence that this year these items were donated to hospitals to newborn babies.

The message of “Love All Serve All” teaches us to serve all mankind in whatever circumstances they are in. This Easter, youth were provided with this great opportunity to serve so many children from different backgrounds and circumstances. Receiving chocolate eggs was reflected in the sheer excitement and happiness on the children’s faces. Easter teaches us the significance of Lent. More so, this activity of ceiling on our desires, by way of giving up something that we love, showed us in return, how satisfying it is to give a little something back to the community in the spirit of love and selfless service. “The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.” Our transformation is Swami’s legacy for it is Swami that has given us such an opportunity.

This experience helped us to understand the true meaning of love and selfless service. It was warming to see all youth and centres working in harmony for a common goal under the name of Sai. This type of activity definitely shows Swami’s love and service in action. During Easter time, Lord Jesus and Swami both gave up their life in the physical form to teach us the message of love and sacrifice. Participating in this service activity taught us as fellow youth that ceiling on our desires will help us spread Swami’s message of “Love All, Serve All” through surrender and sacrifice.

Thank you Swami for allowing us to be mere instruments to “Love All, Serve All” through the Ceiling on Desires program. We look forward to participating in this activity next Easter.

Aum Sri Sai Ram
On behalf of Region 3 youth team,
Pooja Chotai

Region 5 - Easter Service Activities

Easter Collection for Macclesfield Hospital Children's Ward

On a bright Good Friday morning, a collection of story books, puzzle books, sticker books, colouring books, pencils, craft kits, lego, and of course chocolates, were delivered to Macclesfield Hospital's 21 bed children's ward. This year when we contacted the ward, they asked for bubbles which they use to distract the children while taking bloods and other tests, so we collected those as well. When we dropped off the goodies, the nursing team mentioned they are also useful for siblings visiting family in the ward. One of the nursing team who is a community nurse, will be able to distribute some items to children with ongoing health issues that she visits at home. Items this year were donated mainly by colleagues at work and in amongst the items was a card expressing thanks to the nursing team for taking care of their son who'd recently been treated for meningitis. The nursing team saw the card and remembered the family well... how Swami works. Hopefully the items will bring many smiles this Easter!

With love,
Sanjay Vaja
Sai Centre of Greater Manchester

Easter Collection for under privileged children at Bradford

As part of one of the 2015 service projects at the Sri Sathya Sai Centre of Lidget Green, we joined hands with a local organisation called “Junior Chamber of Commerce” to collect Easter eggs for the underprivileged children of Bradford.

Members of the centre, family and friends all supported this project to contribute in bringing a smile to less fortunate children. The youth of the centre took an active role in helping to coordinate the collection.

With the grace of our Beloved Mother Sai we were able to collect 123 Easter eggs, this was a fantastic effort by all given that we collected over 60 eggs in just the last couple of days.

Thank You Swami

Shivani Meera Chouhan
Sathya Sai Centre of Lidget Green
Bradford

Region 5 - Maa Easwaramma Day

On a sun filled day, a spark of excitement grew inside my body as I remembered I was going to perform in front of a supporting and interacting crowd on Maa Easwaramma Day. Even though it was a long journey from Leeds to London, I was so happy that I got the chance to perform with two other talented girls Prakruthi and Sreenidhi. We had lots of fun looking at the exhibition and making place mats.

It was an amazing opportunity to be asked to dance in London for a National programme. I loved performing on Maa Easwaramma Day and giving my offerings to Sai Baba. The hall was spacious and beautifully decorated. All the children around the UK performed really well and I loved how they interacted with the audience of all ages. I learnt so many fascinating facts from the speeches and I thoroughly enjoyed the bhajans sung by all the children and adults. Making place mats was a great idea (to go along with the food) as all of them were going to be passed out to people who can’t afford much. In future if there are anymore National programmes, I would love to come and enjoy the auspicious day with everyone else.

Deeshani
SSE Group 3
Leeds

Region 5 - Mahasamadhi Day

Theme of the Day was Love and Selfless Service

Today’s event, organised by the Region 5 Planning Committee, and hosted by the Greater Manchester Sai Centre, was held in the school hall of Sanbach High School, Sandbach Cheshire.

It was a day to celebrate the life of a unique being, Sai, who lived his life, practising Love and Selfless Service to all mankind, irrespective of the different faiths that existed in the world.

Devotees arrived in coaches and cars, around 180in number, from all corners of the region and a warm welcome and refreshments awaited them on arrival. The spacious hall accommodated them all.

In the hands of Ketan and his family from Bolton, the stage, the focal point of the hall, was transformed beyond recognition, with colourful drapes and twinkling lights. The captivating photo of Swami and the inviting seat to watch the day long programme was respectfully placed. The emblem of unity of Faith was there to remind us that the love and self less service is universal in all humanity.

Under the loving gaze of Swami, the opening prayers of the SSE children of all ages from
Warrington, Manchester and Bradford rolled out the programme for the day. Their invocation prayers to Ganesha, Guru and Goddess of learning were followed by the prayers of all faiths. The devotional bhajans were beautifully sung by the children, their performance also set the standard for the day’s programme.

Bhajans were sung with love from the devotees of various centres to welcome the Lord.

Mrs Vasanthi Vaja, Chairperson of the Greater Manchester Centre, in her welcome address reminded the devotees that Swami’s life was the highest example of love and selfless service and in our journey of life, we must emulate his teaching in our lives.

Prashanti the young compere for the day invited Dr .Sathya Vishwanath, a consultant Psychiatrist, the first speaker. He recalled lovingly, how fortunate, he was to have studied in Swami’s school from the age of five and the joy of receiving Swami’s loving care everyday . Swami’s attention to detail, his concern for the welfare of his children was paramount and Dr .Vishwanath said he grew up secure in the knowledge that he was blessed.

The Theme of love and service continued in to the poetry of Sanjay Vaja. Sanjay has been writing poetry since 1990, and has contributed in many regional programmes. ‘See Me In All’, Sanjay recited his poem in his inimitable style with slides of Swami in humorous and serious situations but always with the expression of Love for all. His message is, always be happy. He is our guide, friend, guru and He is always waiting to take you by your hand and most of all ‘Always be Happy.’

Lunch break was next, and everyone enjoyed a sumptuous lunch of varied dishes and lovingly served by the ladies and gentlemen. The team behind the cooking was headed by Taraben, and her husband, Champakbhai. Long before the devotees arrived,
they were in the kitchen, preparing the dishes with a small number of helpers. Taraben dedicates her work with love and selfless service.

The classical music presentation by Halifax SSE children studying Indian classical with their teacher, Gayatri Nadella, delighted everyone; their singing devotional songs glorifying the Lord Ram was well appreciated.

Dr Vijayanand Nadella, the Region 5 Chairperson, introduced the next guest, Reverend David Page. He has a doctorate in chemistry and was a research scientist with Unilever before he was ordained as priest. He is now the Vicar of St.Peters Church, Elworth, Sandbach and rural Dean of Congleton. He explained that the Christian Faith was not different in its teaching on Love and Selfless Service. He quoted from the Corinthians on love which is read at the Wedding Service in Church. Selfless Serving Love is the epicentre of Christian Faith. Love, he said, was ETERNAL it was, it is and it will be for all times.

A musical offering to the Lord by Rakesh Joshi, an exponent of classical music and he holds concerts and teaches classical music. He was accompanied by Girish Mistry on the Tabla. Rakesh rendered beautiful bhajans, glorifying the Lord and His love for his beings. He also played Santoor (a string instrument) with great elan.

The next guest Speaker, Ishver Patel, needs no introduction, as he was in the Sai fold as a young man. He found his God, Sai, and his unwavering faith and love for Swami and to practice his teachings in daily life has been the goal. He held responsible positions at all levels in the organisation, as Centre, Regional, National Chairman and Central Coordinator. He spoke to us about Swami’s eternal love that never dies and lives on. The amusing tale about the English priest and the Indian at the door of the paradise drove a simple message that one’s thought should always be fixed on God and nothing else.

Hannah Mistry, Region 5 Spiritual Coordinator, summed up the day’s proceedings and asked the devotees, to take away with them the memorable experience of the day and to thank Swami for being the beacon of Love and Selfless Service for all mankind
Concluding bhajans was followed by Arati and closing prayers. The gathering observed a minute’s silence in memory of the departed souls in the devastating earthquake in Nepal.

Lalitha Unnithan,
Sandbach, Region 5 SSSSO UK

Region 5 - My Experience at the National Youth Symposium

Flying on flight Sa108 was a fantastic experience, one which really captured the importance of youth in the Sai organisation. The event for me stood as a checkpoint, marking what our task was as youth in the progression of the organisation, and also as a chance to reflect on what we have done so far especially in terms of service activities-not forgetting being able to meet new youth!

The event fully served its purpose of enlightening each of us with new ideas of service and giving us a chance to open up our talents as service themes, be it crafts, education or health. The day consisted of many speeches on love and service, a service activity, lots of music and a workshop which was particularly interesting. It questioned that although we carry out so many fantastic service activities, what is it that our real passion is ? Could we do more? Did we want to do more but not realise it? And the answer for most of us was YES! It showed how as youth we had so much unused potential for the organisations service wing and that any passion, talent could be turned into a service activity. The chance of being able to contribute to service activities engaged everyone in thinking what they could do as a unique service activities, bringing many thoughts to the table.

Another highlight was the whole-group service activity which portrayed unity of Sai youth in action. 10s of boxes of food, toys, toiletries flooded out of the aircraft as all youth worked together efficiently to sort and pack donated items to the nada of beautiful bhajans. All I could see was Sai in action through all of us! He had purposefully brought us all together on that day to complete such a magnificent task that would benefit so many!

The talks on stimulating topics and personal experiences pin pointed the importance of service. Service is a form of devotion-all acts of service should be offered directly to Bhagawan by realising the fact that Sai resides in one and all. Hanuman was given as a supreme of example of selfless service many times through the speeches, highlighting his ever loving nature for Rama, which came in the form of service. In such a way we should also express our love for God as selfless service, not seeking reward or reputation for it.

The day ended with more energetic bhajans and an enchanting instrumental performance which touched the soul of everyone present, making us just wanting to close our eyes and listen-it was just fantastic. With closing remarks the program ended with Sai aarti marking the smooth landing of the Sai Youth Airline. The aeroplane theme added another excitement to the program, with the Sai Bucks cafe, on board crew service and personal monitor with music, videos and much more. The extent of professionalism of the theme-with boarding passes, safety instructions etc-made the event much more enjoyable and kind of realistic in a sense.

The event really motivated me to move forward interms of service to do something I had a passion for-education. It made us all think if there was more we could do and I certainly now feel I have the potential to get more out of service activities than currently. I want to seek new opportunities and set up a new service project due to the realisation and confidence I gathered from the National Youth Conference-Thank Yoi Sai!

Ketan Parmar
Region 5 Youth & Sai Group of Bolton chair

Region 8 - Aberdeen Sai Centre: Care Home Service Visit

Om Sri Sai Ram

By Divine Grace, 4 Volunteers from Aberdeen Sai Centre got an opportunity to visit the Cornerstone Care Home and paint the hand rails of the home on 5th April 2015. It is a residential care home which houses 5 residents (2 males, 3 females) with learning disabilities. We reached there at 2.00 p.m on a pleasant and warm sunny afternoon. We were introduced to the residents by Brother Gursharan who is the manager of the Care home. All the residents were very welcoming and pleasant to speak to. We had a short interaction with them and took their permission to paint the front hand rails.

With good team work we managed to paint all the handrails in just less than 2 hours. After that we went inside, had a cup of tea and interacted with the residents enquiring about their likes and dislikes. Although the home is fully equipped with all facilities, we felt the most important thing that the residents need is attention, love and care. Bro Gursharan was extremely helpful and did tell us that we could visit the home again and plan a fun activity filled day for the residents in near future. We sincerely thank Swami for this opportunity and pray that Swami will provide more such opportunities.

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"Love and Light"
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"Love and Light" is the only nationwide monthly publication of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (UK). You are free to pass it on in its entirety to any interested party. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (UK) UK National Chair.