November 2013 Edition

Quote

The message of the Avathaar must be born, must become alive, must grow in you, your heart---that is the birthday, you have to celebrate. Celebrate the Avathaar's Birthday in your own village. You need not travel long distances to where I physically am. Plant the seeds of Love in your hearts, let them grow into trees of service and shower the sweet fruits of Aanandha.
Share the Aanandha with all. That is the proper way to celebrate the Birthday.

I have been telling you that My Life is My Message. I am exhorting you in the Upanishadhic way, "Revere the Mother as Divine, Revere the Father as Divine, Revere the Teacher as Divine, Revere the Guest as Divine." Now I am proceeding to the place where their bodies are entombed to offer, as I have advised you, to express gratitude and respect, to the parents. After that, the Prashaanthi Flag will be hoisted on the Mandhir.
Hoist it on the shrines of your hearts, shrines where God is installed and realised in actual presence, every moment of your lives.

Birthday Discourse, Prashaanthi Nilayam, 23-11-1972

~ Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Events

National Birthday Celebrations

News

Philippines Disaster Relief‏

Articles

In Communion with God through Prayer and Action: Talk by Mr V Srinivasan in London

Journey to Kazakhstan - Experiences from the 15th International Service Camp of Russian Speaking Countries

Region 1 - Bhajan Workshop: Inspiring for the Aspiring

Region 1 - Merton Centre Celebrate Navarathri

Region 1 - Swami's Love Spreads Across the Oceans with SSE Sports and Family Values Day

Region 1 - Wimbledon Sai Centre’s Inauguration Celebrations

Region 1 - Young Adults Programme: "The End of Education is character."

Region 2 - Gift Boxes from our Beloved Master...

Region 2 - London West SSE Children Foodbank Collection

Region 2 - National Seva Day: An act of Kindness without Expectation

Region 2 - Sewa Day Offering from Wembley Sai Centre

Region 2 - Slough Sai Centre: Serve the Planet

Serve the Planet: Global Initiative to Celebrate Avatar Declaration Day

This Day, That Year - Excerpts from Student Diaries Students with Sai

Editorial

Dear Love and Light Readers
Om Sri Sai Ram!

October will remain as a memorable month for the many devotees who were blessed and fortunate to participate in the “Serve the Planet” project. You may recall that this was a global service initiative planned for the 20th October to celebrate Bhagawan Baba's Avatar Declaration Day, a vivid reminder of His advent to redeem mankind. In the UK, we were fortunate to undertake three activities: Food Banks - providing required food items, Homeless Shelters - serving food to fellow beings and finally, Laksharchana - engaging in Namaseva (chanting the Divine Name). Our centres and groups around the country involving children, youth and adults participated wholeheartedly with eagerness and enthusiasm on these.

Fortunate are those who knowingly or unknowingly are able to serve the Divine Mission, as Swami once very lucidly reminded in one of His discourses, “Your Mission has begun. Those are My words to you, My devotees. Each of you have a unique and valuable part to play in this lifetime. Only those whom I have called can serve Me.”

November opened its doors with the All Saints’ Day, the Christian Holy Day which was observed on the 1st. This was then followed by devotees celebrating the Festival of Light, the Hindu festival of Diwali on the 3rd November. This was a marvellous opportunity for everyone to bridge the bond of brotherhood with fellow beings and to remind oneself of the significance behind Diwali that Bhagawan used to retell namely, to light the lamp within so as to dispel the darkness!

On the 9th and 10th November, devotees participated in the Global Akhand Bhajans when the name of the Lord was sung and glorified in different languages and tunes. Such noble acts as Swami has emphasised generates tremendous divine energy which purifies the environment on this planet. With the Divine Grace and Blessings of our Lord, we were fortunate to have an inspirational and thought provoking address by Mr V Srinivasan after the conclusion of the Akhand Bhajans in Watford. Mr Srinivasan had spent over 40 years in the immediate physical presence of Bhagawan and was blessed to have served in the large number of projects that Bhagawan personally had started. He is currently the All India President of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation (India), Trustee of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust and Trustee of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning.

Whilst we were immersed in the joy of the Akhand Bhajans, our thoughts were drawn to Philippines where thousands were flung in grief by Super Typhoon Haiyan. We pray to our beloved Lord Sai to shower His Divine Blessings on all those afflicted from the ravages of this natural disaster and to alleviate their suffering. Through His Grace, let us serve those in need with humility and dedication. As other aid organisations around the globe, the Sai Organisation is also launching a humanitarian appeal to facilitate devotees to serve those affected.

November 19th is another important day as we celebrate 'Ladies Day' as declared by Bhagawan, when we remember the significant and sacred role played by women.

And finally, we eagerly look forward with excitement and delight, the 88th Birthday Celebrations of our Lord, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Whilst it is adorable to see several centres and regions celebrating Bhagawan’s Birthday, a special national celebration is planned in Leatherhead (London). The theme reflects Bhagawan’s Message of Harmony through Love and is titled ‘Sai Premabandhan – The Unifying Bond of Divine Love’. We have two very eminent personalities to grace this event as our esteemed guests: Mrs Janet Bock-Bicker, and Mr Sikkil Gurucharan. Mrs Bicker from California is well-known and ardent devotee of Bhagawan since 1969 who with her husband Richard Bock was blessed to be in the Divine presence and had very many rare opportunities to film the Life and Message of Bhagawan. Mr Sikkil Gurucharan is from Chennai; he is a vocalist who was blessed by Bhagawan to offer two concerts in His Divine Presence. Since places are limited, please ensure you register as soon as possible to avoid disappointment: www.srisathyasai.org.uk/national-programmes

Lastly, dates of forthcoming events for your diaries:

National Christmas Celebrations in Cheltenham – 15th December 2013 – registration will open soon!
National Orientation & Welcome Day for Office Bearers (new & old) and Active Workers - 25th of January 2014
Sathya Sai National Human Values Day – Saturday 26th April 2014
National Easwaramma Day – Saturday 3rd May 2014

Loving Sai Ram

Sam Sambanthan
Region 3 Chair Person.


Philippines Disaster Relief‏

National Wing News

Dear Brothers & Sisters,
Om Sri Sai Ram!

We have been deeply saddened by the news of the disaster on an immense scale in the Philippines which has been wreaked by Super Typhoon Haiyan. Certain provinces of Philippines have suffered massive destruction and loss of life. Thousands are feared killed. Thousands of survivors are desperately waiting for aid effort to reach them and they are struggling to survive without food, shelter or clean drinking water. Hugh numbers have been displaced after the high winds and flood waters destroyed their homes.

The Disaster Relief Committee of the International Sathya Sai Service Organisation is currently mounting a global effort to explore the best possible ways of serving those affected by the disaster. In line with this, we request and encourage all the members of our Sai family in UK to come forward and participate in this relief effort in a spirit of oneness with our fellow beings, and in love and service to our beloved Bhagawan.

Let us pray to our beloved Lord Sai to shower His Divine Blessings on all those afflicted from the ravages of this natural disaster and to alleviate their suffering. Through His Grace, let us serve those in need with humility and dedication.

For anyone wishing to contribute towards the relief efforts led by the Organisation:

The details of the bank account in the UK are as follows:

1. Name of Account : Sri Sathya Sai Charitable Trust (UK)
2. Barclays Bank Plc : Sort Code: 20-77-67
3 Account Number : 33246590

The Procedure is as follows:

  1. Devotees can post their cheques with their address on the back of the cheque and marked ‘Philippine Disaster Relief’ to the mailing address below.

  2. Devotees can pay cash and/or cheques into the above account - if they want a receipt then they should post copy of the paying in slip and their address to the mailing address below. Alternatively, they can scan the paying in slip and send it by email to sssct.treasurer@gmail.com with their address.

  3. Devotees can also transfer on-line to the above account – use reference ‘Philippine Disaster Relief’. If you want a receipt then please email the details of the online transfer with your name, address, date of payment and amount to : sssct.treasurer@gmail.com.

  4. For ONLY those devotees who are UK tax payers, the UK Trust can claim Gift Aid from HMRC. You can post your remittance by cheque with your mailing address on the back of cheque and marked ‘Philippine Disaster Relief’ together with the GIFT AID DECLARATION to the bookshop address.

    OR if you are paying by cash / cheque into the above account, you can scan the paying in slip AND the signed GIFT AID DECLARATION and send it by email to sssct.treasurer@gmail.com.

    OR if you are paying by on-line transfer to the above account, please email details with name, date of payment and amount with a scan copy of signed GIFT AID DECLARATION to sssct.treasurer@gmail.com

  5. A GIFT AID DECLARATION FORM is linked below for those eligible to claim GIFT AID.
    Gift Aid Declaration Sri Sathya Sai Charitable Trust UK.doc

  6. MAILING ADDRESS:
    SRI SATHYA SAI CHARITABLE TRUST (UK)
    C/O SAI BOOKS (UK)
    19 HAY LANE
    KINGSBURY
    LONDON
    NW9 ONH

I thank you for your generous offer and Sai Ram

Lovingly,

Dr Kiran Patel
National Chair, UKCC
Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (UK)

In Communion with God through Prayer and Action: Talk by Mr V Srinivasan in London

Talk by Mr V Srinivasan in London (10th November 2013)
Member Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust &
All India President, Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation

It was the privilege of many Sai devotees in United Kingdom to have the exalted company of Mr V Srinivasan in London during the Global Akhanda Bhajans this year. Mr Srinivasan is a longstanding and ardent devotee of our beloved Bhagawan Baba. He was chosen by Bhagawan to serve in his current capacities as the Member of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, Prasanthi Nilayam as well as the President of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation in India.

As a befitting finale to an energetic and uplifting session of bhajans, Mr Srinivasan, who spoke on numerous occasions in the Immediate Divine Presence of Bhagawan Baba, gave a talk that was both informative and highly inspiring. His utter humility, lofty understanding, deep love and dedication for Bhagawan and His Work, and total surrender to the Divine Will of Sai were evident all through his talk and touched the hearts of everyone assembled. Below are a few excerpts from his talk, which he categorised as follows-

  1. Power of Collective Prayer
  2. Activities of SSS Central Trust
  3. 90th Birthday Preparations by SSSSO India
  4. Our Relationship with Bhagawan
  5. Power of Collective Action
  6. The Divine Legacy and Our Sacred Responsibility

Power of Collective Prayer

He began by expressing gratitude to Bhagawan’s Sankalpa, Compassion, Kindness and Love which enabled him to be at the Akhand Bhajans in London: An important global occasion of collective worship, adoration, prayer and bliss which he did not wish to miss! He spoke on the importance of Prayer and Bhajan and pointed to the day’s Sai Inspires quotation in which Bhagawan explains the Power of Bhajan and how it unites one with the others as brothers and sisters, as well as uniting one with Divinity. Expression of collective prayer is bhajan, he said, and real prayer is not when one prays for oneself, but when the prayer is for the happiness and welfare of others. Of course one can pray for individual protection and guidance, but we should have the inspiration and motivation to pray for the welfare of others.

Making a reference to the Holy Bible which says that real prayer can do many wonderful things, he narrated his experience with the recent Cyclone Phailin in Orissa which was described as the biggest ever monster cyclone to ever hit India. The Holy Dasara festival was being celebrated in Prasanthi Nilayam at the time, and an announcement was made to all devotees to pray fervently to Bhagawan to protect and mitigate the suffering of people in Orissa. Thousands across the globe responded and many kept an overnight vigil in prayer. It is now known that the killer-storm with expected wind speeds of 300 kilometres per hour, ‘inexplicably’ stalled about 35 kilometres from the coastline for about 90 minutes, and in doing so, lost most of its devastating energy and became much weaker by the time of landfall. It did cause some flooding in the areas affected, but large scale devastation was averted. The director of the Indian Meteorology Institute, a reputed scientist, when asked by the media to explain this phenomenon, simply submitted that there were many occurrences in Nature that are ‘inexplicable’! Bhagawan gave us the prayer ‘Samastha Loka Sukhino Bhavanthu’ (May all worlds and all beings be happy), and that is the real way to pray to Bhagawan.

Activities of Central Trust and Sathya Sai Organisation

He proceeded then to inform everyone about the activities undertaken by the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust (SSSCT) and the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (SSSSO) in India. In the 3rd year after Bhagawan’s Mahasamadhi, all the institutions and projects started by Bhagawan were functioning excellently, as always, with His Divine Grace and Will, he assured.

He explained that the SSSCT which is the Apex Body of all Sai Organisations and Institutions has 9 trustees (currently 8) vested with the responsibility by Bhagawan Baba to administer the various institutions set up by Him in India and all over the world. In the immediate phase after the Mahasamadhi, the trustees realised that Bhagawan wanted them to establish maximum transparency into the activities of the Trust. In consonance with this, SSSCT publishes an Annual Report both as a hardcopy and an online version, which is available to everyone. There are hardly 2-3 public charitable trusts in India that bring out such a detailed and authentic report which includes all the financial details, apart from details of all activities that the Trust undertakes such as the SSSSO, University, Hospitals, Water projects, festivals at Prasanthi Nilayam and Brindavan etc.. This report is certified by the auditors and meets the highest standards of corporate governance and statutory obligations. This year the report will be released on 23rd of November, he said, and encouraged everyone to access, study and understand it’s contents. He highlighted some of the salient features in this Report for our benefit, which reflect the role of various activities in continuing the Divine Mission of Bhagawan.

  1. Water Projects- 750 villages in Anantapur district, 300 villages in the River Godavari Basin, and other projects near Hyderabad continue to receive pure, drinking water. To complete the total coverage of this project, water supply to another 128 villages at a cost of 7 million GBP will commence on 23rd November. This life-giving gift of pure drinking water to remote and dry villages has improved the standards of health, living conditions and above all, moral values amongst the peoples
  2. Hospitals- Everyone knows about Super Speciality hospitals in Prasanthi Nilayam and Whitefield, but not many are familiar with the immense economic contribution that these institutions make to the nation. In order to put a number based on the numbers of patients treated and the value of treatment rendered to date, it is about 350 million GBP! In keeping with Bhagawan’s dictum that we should always be at the forefront and cutting edge of medical technology in providing high quality, State-of-the-Art healthcare, SSSCT will be making a fresh investment of 4 million GBP to improve facilities and replace ageing equipment. New MRI Scanners, new cardiac catheterisation labs, new sterilisation equipment, new centres for non-invasive treatments etc are being introduced. The Sathya Sai General Hospital, the very first hospital that Bhagawan had founded, treats 32000 patients every month, and is the single point of care to all people from surrounding areas. Be it the birth of a child, or surgery for appendicitis, or indeed the treatment for insect bites, malaria etc, this hospital caters to the local needs. A further 500,000 GBP is being spent to enhance and expand facilities at this hospital. As directed by Bhagawan, there is great emphasis on teaching in all the hospitals. Diplomates in various subjects such as cardiology, cardio-thoracic surgery, neurology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics and neurosurgery are trained to a high standard. At the national board examinations, these trainees have achieved 100% results unlike many other institutions! Again, unlike other institutions, this training is totally free of cost as per Bhagawan’s directions, so as to produce high quality doctors with an integrated sense of service to society.
  3. vUniversity- So many students have passed through the portals of these unique institutions who now live all over the globe; he was happy to see some in UK too, including the current UK Chairperson, he said. Currently a Centre for Advanced Study and Research in sciences and humanities is being funded by the SSSCT, in its first phase up to a sum of 2 million GBP. At the new university campus in Muddenahalli, it’s 4th campus, a new hostel at a cost of 1 million GBP is under construction. The University has a new Vice Chancellor, Justice M N Venkatachaliah, formerly the Chief Justice of India, and a renowned legal luminary.
  4. Sathya Sai Schools- More than 100 Sathya Sai Schools all over India are functioning today, he said. Although started by various devotees, SSSCT has taken the responsibility to improve their standards towards excellence through the SSSSO India. He also spoke about the Vidya Vahini Programme launched by Bhagawan, which is a technology initiative to provide access to high quality educational material to students and teachers in rural areas. SSSCT is providing training and logistic facilities in Prasanthi Nilayam for this important project.
  5. Ashram- SSSCT has undertaken the task of improving facilities in the Ashram for the comfort of devotees who undertake their pilgrimage to Prasanthi Nilayam. All festivals belonging to various religions of the world- Hindu/Sikh/Islam/Christian, and various cultures- Chinese/Japanese/Russian etc- are all happening just as when Swami was physically present. Many groups from various parts of India and Overseas continue to come to the Ashram, such as those from Croatia, Russia, Taiwan etc. In fact, an international symphony orchestra will be performing this year on November 24th, he said.

90th Birthday Celebrations 2015

He then continued to elaborate on the preparations for the Milestone Event of the 90th Birthday Celebrations of our dear Bhagawan in the year 2015. He reminded everyone that this coincides with another milestone: The Golden Jubilee 50th Year of the founding of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation. He revealed that the SSSSO India has decided to celebrate these two important milestones with 3 main national projects targeted for implementation in the 1300 village clusters all over India currently served by the Sathya Sai Village Integrated Programme (SSVIP).

  1. Nutrition for expectant mothers during pregnancy;
  2. Disaster Management Training;
  3. Vocational Training for Rural Youth

Our Relationship with Bhagawan

Reflecting on our relationship with Bhagawan, Mr Srinivasan shared what Swami often said: ‘I am interested more in your Transformation than your devotion!’. He shared how Swami had picked him from the relative gutters of materialism 40 years ago and had changed his life. He reiterated that every single person assembled in the audience and in the wider global Sai family had been specially selected by Bhagawan, not as a random occurrence, but as a special act of Grace. Having been fortunate thus, he cautioned us against wasting time in idle talk and rumours in circulation that Bhagawan would ‘reappear’ soon and so forth. Instead one should spend time in feeling His Omnipresence and living His Teachings. He pointedly asked how many of us, whilst talking incessantly about His Omnipresence, actually feel it! Swami has elaborated in His many discourses on almost every issue relevant to our daily living- activities we should engage in, how we can be happy, how we can avoid unhappiness etc. But, he posed the question, how many of us spend time reading, reflecting, and imbibing the teachings in His discourses.

The summum bonum of Bhagawan’s teachings, the fundamental lesson learnt by studying His Discourses, is the principle of LOVE, said Mr. Srinivasan. Divine Love is the answer to any and every question and situation; Divine Love is also the agent as well as the outcome of our Transformation, he said.
He reminisced how Bhagawan often said, ‘All are One, my dear son! Be alike to everyone!’, and exhorted everyone to live and experience the Truth that there was no difference between Peter and Krishna, between Ranbir and Mohammad, and so on. If we are to claim that we were touched by the Divine and have been thus transformed, then we must act like The Divine, seeing divinity in everyone, recognising and practising this unity!

This divine transformation would manifest as feelings of love and compassion in our acts of Service. Service, he reminded, was not just writing a big cheque as a donation, but doing activities with love for humanity, with a sense of sharing in their sufferings, be it in India or the Philippines. This divine transformation would manifest also as unsullied rejoicing in the success and happiness of others. Instead of being jealous and petty that others had received rings and lockets from Swami, one would rejoice in their happiness, he noted.

Power of Collective Action

The resounding message Mr Srinivasan conveyed was that there was no difference between Bhagawan and Bhagwan’s Work! He said, “When you do Service, Bhagawan is with you. If you want to worship, adore and pray to Him, Do His Work! There is no difference! But before you do work, pray to Him. Pray that ‘I am a zero, you are the Hero! Nothing is with me. It is all with You’. Offer everything to Him, not for your ego! Work with love, humility, and joy. Whether it is a success or not is His Will. Leave it to Him! Also understand that there is no difference between the work in your office, at home and in the Sai Organisation. Everything is His Work and so do it with the same diligence, with the same principles. Our lives have to be integrated. CIA as Bhagawan says: Constant Integrated Awareness!”

Mr Srinivasan made a very interesting observation that we cannot do Service all the time, as we will not have the requisite sustained motivation. Unless, of course, we are spiritual! If we are spiritual, we will become more inspired and capable to do more service. Spirituality gives us the required energy and the motivation. Thus Spirituality and Service are like the 2 legs; just as one cannot walk well on one leg, so too one cannot progress on the road to spirituality without rendering service. But what is Spirituality? It is not sitting in one place in meditation for one’s own individual redemption. ‘The goal is Redemption For All’, he said.

Spirituality is to act in the way in which divinity expects us to act, in the way in which Jesus expected us to act! And the greatest thing that our dearest Bhagawan taught us and expects of us, he said, is Collective Action! He revealed that Bhagawan was not interested in individual action and in the so called high fliers! ‘One cannot eat with one finger’, he referred to this oft quoted example given by Bhagawan. He explained the purpose behind this Divine Emphasis: “When all of us work together, we adjust with each other; our egos get suppressed; we begin to love each other. Bhagawan wanted all of us to love and work together. This may take time, but it will go well. Individual action will introduce ego and pride and may lead us down a wrong path. But Collective Action will safeguard us against these evil traits and ensure spiritual progress”.

The Divine Legacy and Our Sacred Responsibility

Bhagawan’s Divine and Eternal Legacy is not the Trust or all the other great Institutions, he reflected. But it is the inspiration and motivation of Love. It is the lighting of the Lamp of Love in the hearts of millions of people which motivates them to do Service: That is His legacy! A Legacy unlike that of any other! He reminded us that it is our responsibility and heritage to be aware of this Supreme Legacy and talk about it with confidence. It is the sacred duty of every devotee to know his work and his teachings in depth and pass it on to our family, friends, and grandchildren; to engage intelligently with the discerning general public.

“And we have to support His Institutions”, he said. He observed that many devotees were keen to personally handover money to Swami because we thought Swami must become ‘aware’ that ‘I’ have given! But he shared how Swami never took any notice of this. Swami didn’t bother at all and would either just put the envelope away or give it away to someone! He revealed that this was what they found whilst taking the Inventory after Bhagawan’s Mahasamadhi. Currency that was more than 30 years old was found, which was not valid in today’s times; coins were found from the times of King George VI! This was because Swami never gave any importance to it.

Mr Srinivasan then asked a poignant question: “What did Bhagawan do with the money we gave? “He built the Institutions”, he proceeded to answer. Every single institution of Bhagawan was built with the donations given by devotees. They were not built with some “manthra or tanthra” (mystic formulae), he humoured! They were built out of the love and sacrifice of many devotees for Bhagawan and His Mission. He narrated the story of a young primary school student, who during the construction of the Super Speciality Hospital in Puttaparthi, silently contributed 100 rupees to the Central Trust by saving up on his laundry bills. He had washed his clothes himself instead! Bhagawan was so touched by this young boy’s spontaneous love and sacrifice, that He instantaneously showered His Blessings and Grace on him. It is this aspect of spontaneous love and sincere sacrifice that deepens and sanctifies our relationship with Bhagawan. He advised us therefore against writing cheques without sacrificing our desires.

Emphasising ‘Ceiling on Desires’, he said that it was understandable to aspire to be comfortable in life, but one should have only what is needed and should refrain from overindulgence. Money should be in circulation like blood, as Bhagawan tells us, and should be used for the benefit of people who need it. So, in a way, every single person is a ‘trustee’ to serve humanity! These monies need not necessarily be given only to the SSSCT, or even spent on activities in India, although one might wish to set aside some contribution to the Institutions founded by Bhagawan. Instead, the funds can be spent on activities in the United Kingdom such as serving the Homeless, etc. The important thing to remember is to have gratitude to society.

My Srinivasan concluded his talk by addressing the question that might plague some minds about the need or the purpose of visiting Prasanthi Nilayam when Swami is everywhere and here in UK. One should go there for Inspiration, he said. For recharging one’s spiritual batteries! He advised everyone not to go there with a casual attitude and reduce it to a social rendezvous with family and friends. Only when we sit quietly in the sanctum sanctorum before the Mahasamadhi, in the hallowed precincts of the Sai Kulwanth Hall and absorb the ambience, the divine vibration therein, that we get recharged! One must travel to a holy place in a holy way! To Communicate with God! To be in Communion with Him!

Journey to Kazakhstan - Experiences from the 15th International Service Camp of Russian Speaking Countries

With the Divine Blessings of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the 15th International Service Camp in Russian speaking countries was conducted in the Republic of Kazakhstan, Karaganda Region in the town of Saran and nearby villages from August 1 to 10, 2013.

This was a united effort of 254 volunteers from over 11 countries worked together to serve the people of Kazakhstan.

The service camp was organised by the Russian speaking devotees of Sri Sathya Sai Service Organization. The volunteers from Kazakhstan and Russia, under the leadership of Mr. Valery Voschinin, (Chairman, Russian Speaking Countries, Sri Sathya Sai Organisation) and Ms. Saule (National Coordinator of Sri Sathya Sai Organisation in Kazakhstan), conducted extensive preparatory work to organize this camp. Their selfless love and energy was a true reflection of Swami’s message of “Love All, Serve All”.

Nine Teams - Unity in Action

There were nine teams in total. Each team had a specific objective and purpose: the Medical team - organised the Medical Camp and visits to the ten adjacent villages.; the Translators team - interfaced with the non-native speaking doctors and the local population; the Building Brigade team - renovated and completed construction projects; the Narayan Seva team - provided food to the needy; the Educare team - educated children and organised activities; the Kitchen Seva team - fed and nourished the volunteers; the Media team - captured the event and activities as well as interfaced with local authorities; the Security and Administration team - ensured the safety of volunteers and provided administrative support to the Camp; and the Transportation team - made available the transportation required by the volunteers to conduct their activities.

Medicare

It consisted of 84 Volunteers led by Dr. Upadhyay from U.K. The Russian speaking doctors along with 24 volunteers from UK, USA and Canada (13 medical professionals, 3 medical students and 8 paramedics and general support workers) participated in this camp. The medical team was divided into 4 groups with one group serving in the polyclinic in Saran and the other three groups traveling to different villages each day. The ‘global’ teams were working together as one team to serve the patients’ best interest. Each non-Russian speaking physician was coupled with a Russian (and/or sometimes a Kazakh) speaking translator. These translators were the key to ensuring that ‘seva’ could be done optimally. Some of these Interpreters had been training for over a year for this job. The Local Clinics also gave their complete cooperation to the visiting physicians.

The medical team consisted of the following specialties: Ophthalmology, Optometry, Neuropathology, Immunology, General Practice/General Medicine, Cardiology, Gastroenterology, Endocrinology, Nephrology, Pediatrics, Dentistry/Stomatology, Psychiatry, Psychology, Reflexology, Massage specialists and Medical Students. Some of the medical team members, in addition to seeing patients in the clinics, also made some home visits for the patients who could not walk to the clinic.

Free eye glasses (prescription glasses / spectacles) were provided to those in need. Prescription medications were given free of cost. Psychiatric counselling and Pain therapy were provided and this helped several patients who did not think that they would ever receive this type of help for free.


The youth medical students conducted dental and hygiene workshops which were very well appreciated.

Wheelchair, baby jumper and medical equipment were donated to patients/local Polyclinic. In total the medical team treated more than 6,500 patients and also gave follow-up care for some patients. Each physician had a unique experience and everyone felt like the instruments of Divine Love.

This was wonderfully summed up by a comment made by a patient that she saw Purity in our eyes and Love in our hearts.

Sociocare

On the social front, the building brigade team of over 50 volunteers took up 6 construction projects. Their jobs included fixing bathroom floors, walls, and showers, installing tiles, wooden flooring in schools, replacing doors, changing electrical fittings, painting and so on.

They covered 2 kinder gardens, 2 schools, 1 house for mentally retarded people, 1 old people’s home and 1 college hostel. This team also covered distribution of free food packets, clothes and washing liquid. This was similar to Grama Seva activities in Puttaparthi. This team distributed these packets to 150 houses with low income members (with over 1 tonne of food supplies distributed).

The Ladies wing of the UK Sathya Sai Service Organisation had provided several new clothes for children and patients, along with bracelets for the children (these bracelets were handmade by Balvikas children in UK. Such packs for some volunteers in the medical team were also prepared.



Educare

Apart from medicare and sociocare, the service camp covered educare services too. The Educare team consisted of 40 volunteers who imparted Human Values to over 186 children surrounding schools in Saran and to the children of all volunteers who participated in the service camp.

There were lots of interactive sessions and a teacher training workshop was also held. A one day activity day with disabled children. Toys and electronic equipment were also supplied to local schools (e.g., laptops, 1 large screen TV, DVD player, camera and so on).

It would not be fair if the hard work of the cleaning, transportation and kitchen teams was not mentioned – their work started before and ended after the service activities began/ended. There were lots of other volunteer teams – such as registration, IT, media, security, administration. A concert held by volunteers and local celebrities was held on August 8, 2013. On August 9, 2013 Dana Gillespie won many hearts by an enthralling performance.

It was a great pilgrimage of service by working with the extended Sai family using the universally available medicine of love. We pray to Swami to give us continued opportunities to be part of His mission by serving His people. We thank Swami for his love, guidance and support.

Urvi Widhani

Serve the Planet: Global Initiative to Celebrate Avatar Declaration Day

"I always conduct Myself in accordance with the principle of Help ever, Hurt never. This has been My motto. I never harmed anyone. I derive great joy in helping others. That is why I tell the devotees to always pray, Loka Samasthah Sukhino Bhavantu (May all the people of the world be happy!) All should be happy, healthy and blissful. With such sacred motive, I have been spreading the message of love to the entire world." –Sri Sathya Sai Baba 20th October 2002

20th October 1940 is an historic date in the lives of devotees, when Bhagawan declared to the world His Divine Avatar and His Divine Mission for the transformation and redemption of humanity.

As part of the global celebrations of this joyous occasion this year, devotees all across the United Kingdom joined hands in the bond of His Love and participated enthusiastically in 3 main activities:

  1. Providing food items to local food banks in the week leading up to October 20th
  2. Narayana Seva – serving food on October 20th to the homeless and those in need
  3. Nama Seva – Chanting the divine name of the Lord 100, 000 times and praying for those in need during a special Laksharchana programme

Food Banks

With the Inspiration and Blessings of Bhagawan, it is heartening to note that there was an overwhelming response from the devotees in various Centres and Groups in all the 8 Regions of our Organisation.

It was humbling to witness children, young adults, the elderly, both men and women from around the country participate in this service activity, beating with one heart in love, and serve their fellow beings in local communities who are in urgent need of food items. ‘Coincidentally’, in the week that our devotees were engaged in this selfless activity, the Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust which spearheads the Food Bank Network in UK, appeared on BBC and ITV news channels to make a public appeal highlighting the increasing demand and the immediate need for food in many communities in UK! [http://www.trusselltrust.org/media-coverage]

This activity has encouraged and inspired many devotees to continue and sustain the delivery of food items on a regular basis, and to serve as Food Bank Volunteers, through their Sai Centres and groups. The Trussell Trust too has recognised the participation and the enthusiasm shown by our Sai devotees. Below are some extracts from the letters written to us by the Food Banks:

“Through your support your donation of food will reach out to many families and single people in the Hillingdon community. Thank you for the difference you have made in those lives.
May God bless you all for this amazing contribution and the initiative you have taken to make a contribution to the wellbeing and development of the people in our communities” – Hillingdon Food Bank

“The food donated will go towards feeding members of the community in desperate need for a couple of days.
Thanks for your demonstration of love and generosity extended to the local People of Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield through the Food bank.
Your commitment to helping to provide food to local people in crisis in the surroundings of Welwyn and Hatfield communities is sincerely appreciated.
Through this initiative, we have seen many lives changed for the better. The goal of the Welwyn/Hatfield Food bank is to continue to make a difference in the helping local people in crises by providing them with emergency food. With the help of donations from supporters like you, we will continue to see improvements.” – Hatfield Food Bank

“Every week we encounter heart breaking stories and your support means we are able to help and empower some of the most vulnerable people living on our doorstep.
The majority of people needing foods are those facing issues over their benefits, whilst for others low income means they cannot afford to feed themselves or their families. We could not help these people out without your generous support” – Lewisham Food Bank

Activity highlights in UK: 'Serve The Planet' - Global Avatar Declaration Day Celebrations

Narayana SevaFood Banks49 Food Banks were served4.5 tonnes of food items were delivered
Narayana SevaHomeless Shelters11 Shelters were served1000 guests were served (approximately)
Nama SevaLaksharchana200 devotees participated

Feeding the Homeless and Elderly

On the sacred day of Avatar Declaration 20th October, devotees in all the 8 Regions served food to the needy such as the homeless and the elderly in Shelters, through meals-on-wheels, and the sandwich and soup kitchens. Below are the reflections of joy and gratitude shared by devotees from around the UK:

“On avatar declaration day the youth of Region 1 assisted with cooking food at spires homeless centre.
Youth volunteers assisted in preparing food from Lewisham, Kingston and Tooting centres with the food items also being donated from other centres in Region 1.
It was a great team effort making a great curry serving up to 100 homeless people.” – Region 1

“Harrow East Sai Centre attended the Narayana Seva at Mother Theresa Home. Devotees prepared food and served for 250 Homeless people” - Region 2

“On the 20th October (Avatar Declaration Day), a group of youth from various Sai Centres across Region 3 (Ilford, Manor Park, Walthamstow, Bedford, Thurrock) assembled at 5:45am in East London, and set off to Central London, for Narayana Seva.

The day before (Sat 19th), a few youth from Ilford Sai Centre had prepared 54 'lunch bags', which contained various eateries - chocolate, crisps, pastries, etc. We also prepared 6 cans of Coffee and Tea dispensers. The area where we served was along the STRAND (not far from Embankment Station). We split into 3 groups, and went along various parts of the STRAND. All in all, we served 60+ homeless individuals.

We hope to serve on a regular basis and our next one will be on Sunday 8th Dec (early morning), and will form our 4th and Final YAP (Young Adult Programme) session of the year. We take inspiration from the theme of ‘Messenger’ discussed at the National Youth Conference in February 2013- so, a practical/service filled YAP activity. - Region 3

“The Bridge Project is a church led project which offers food (hot and cold) with light refreshments to those who are in need. Youth and adult volunteers participated in the service on Sunday 20th October. We are fortunate to be involved in this project every Sunday over the past many years.

Before the start, a prayer was recited by a church volunteer to thank the Lord for giving us the opportunity to serve and to offer the service with Love. Each volunteer had a different task to do, such as serving hot and cold food and drinks. During the service, I felt happy because I was doing a good deed. Our guests felt grateful and that made me realise how fortunate we really are to have food and a good quality of life. At the end around 4.30 pm, we wished them a good day. Since serving on this day, I always look forward to my Sundays helping out in such activities.” – Region 4

“Over 50 homeless people in the Bradford area were served by Lidget Green Sai Centre as part of their Curry Project Narayan Seva. This is a monthly service which will continue throughout the year” – Region 5

“Centres in Region 6 celebrated Avatar Declaration with prayers around the Region and also serving the homeless in the Farnham and Folkestone areas” – Region 6

“SSE children from Swindon led a service project at the Ridgeway nursing home, delivering tea, cakes and cards to the elderly residents. Bath centre participated in a sandwich run at the Julian House Homeless Shelter. In Cardiff, the Sai Centre served a special meal at the Huggard Homeless Shelter where they have been fortunate to participate since 2002” – Region 7

“Devotees from Glasgow serve on every Sunday at the Wayside Soup Kitchen. The youth prepared food, set up tables and chairs in the serving area and served approximately 80 homeless people” – Region 8

Laksharchana

As part of National offering of our love and gratitude at the Divine Lotus Feet of our Lord on the occasion of His Avatar Declaration Day on the 20th October, a Laksharchana Programme was conducted in Watford (London) for the welfare of the planet. The sacred chanting of the Divine Name 100,000 times was led by our respected and energetic elder Mr Vadgama . The programme commenced with uplifting bhajans (devotional songs) followed by a short address by Dr Kiran Patel, SSSSO UK Chairman. The chanting of the Laksharchana followed soon thereafter which generated tremendous vibrations with well over a hundred devotees chanting 'Om Sri Sathya Sai Krishnaya Namaha' in unison with one voice and one soul! They joined in the melodious bhajans that followed after every few chants. Devotees all over UK also joined in via the live video streaming of the event. Bhagawan’s presence was felt throughout. Devotees were greatly blessed by the manifestation of vibhuti on the padukas during this session, which was witnessed by all those assembled. It was truly a memorable conclusion to the Avatar Declaration Day celebrations!

A photo presentation of all the 3 activities offered will be uploaded to our ‘Serve the Planet’ website http://www.srisathyasai.org.uk/servetheplanet/ at the end of November. Please do continue to send your photos and letters from Food Banks to servetheplanet@srisathyasai.org.uk and these will be incorporated.

We offer our most loving gratitude at the Lotus Feet of our Divine Master for the benevolence He has bestowed upon us! Let us pray for many more such opportunities to serve our fellow brothers and sisters in need. and for His continued guidance and inspiration.

‘Serve the Planet’
Coordinating Committee, SSSSO UK

This Day, That Year - Excerpts from Student Diaries Students with Sai

Prasanthi Nilayam, 15th November 1992
Excerpts from Student Diaries ‘Students with Sai’

Bhagawan called a Primary School student today, who wanted to show Swami something that he had written. Swami called another Higher Secondary School student and asked the small boy….

Swami - Who is this boy?

Student - Swami, we are all brothers.

Swami - Oh, is it? See, there are so many boys. Go with them. This boy is from Delhi. That boy is from Anantapur, and he is from Goa. Go with them.

Student - No, Swami, we are all Your children. I want to stay with You. Everything is in You. You are God.

Swami - Everything is in Me? You are also God. On a physical plane, you are Master, I am servant. On a mental plane, you are Real, I am Reflection. On the Atmic plane, You and I are one.

Student - Yes Swami, but we do not realise it.

Swami - How do you know that?

Student - Swami has said so. We must live our lives to realise this Truth.

Swami - What is life?

Student - Swami, life is a journey from ‘I’ to ‘We’.

Swami - Life is a challenge, meet it. (Then Bhagawan and the boy alternately completed the saying)
Life is a game, play it
Life is a dream, realise it
Life is a challenge, meet it

Pausing for a moment….

Swami - Who is God?

Student - Swami, You are God.

Swami - How do you know? Have you seen Rama or Krishna?

Student - Swami, I see Rama and Krishna in You.

Swami - Do you see them? Then tell Me, how does Rama look?

Student - Swami, He has curly hair, orange robe…..
Swami - What about Krishna?

Student - Swami, Krishna also the same!

Swami - How can that be? See, I have no flute like Krishna.

Student - But Swami is both Rama and Krishna to me. Swami is everything!

Swami then looked down at the book that the boy wanted to show Swami and asked him

Swami - What is this book? (Then Swami showed it to the other boys and said) See, how well he writes! (To the student) What is this? (Swami then showed the other boys the drawing and said) See, he has drawn Swami as ‘Sesha Shayana’ (reclining on the serpent Adi Sesha). Do you know what the snake is called?

Student - Swami, Adi Sesha.

Swami - Yes! See, it is depicted with the six open and four bent hoods. The six hoods signify the ‘Arshadvargas’- the six vices in man – Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Mada, Maatsarya. When these bend and surrender to God, God resides in their hearts. What are the ten heads of Ravana? They are not real heads. They are the six Shastras and the four Vedas that Ravana had mastered. They are depicted as the ten heads.

Student - Swami is so compassionate that He forgives any number of our sins. Then why was Shishupala killed instead of being forgiven.

Swami - That is different. Shishupala and Dantavakra, Hiranyakashyap and Hiranyaksha, Kamsa- these are all ‘special’ cases. Their actions were like that.

Student - Swami, but you have said God is the doer and we are all His Instruments. Then what is fate and law of action?

Swami - That is what is called ‘Purusha Prayatna’ –self effort, though God is the cause, one must make his own effort also in order to achieve something. You may be given a plate of potato- chapathi. But if you simply keep it in front of you and chant its name, you get nothing. Use you hands and mouth. Then alone you get the benefit.

Student - Swami, You have said that one must avoid bad company. But in this world, who are we to judge what is good and what is bad? How can we then avoid ‘bad’ company?

Swami - You must not judge. You must keep in life as little connection as possible with others. Whenever you hear unnecessary and too much talk or something wrong being done, you must leave that place and company at once. Your relationship with everyone must be limited to ‘hello- hello’, ‘goodbye-goodbye’. Lesser the connections, the better it is. ‘Less luggage, more comfort’. God is the only One with whom you should have connections.

Swami then looked at the boy and asked

Swami - What is devotion?

Student - Swami, devotion is complete surrender.

Swami - What is surrender?

Student - Swami, surrender is to know that whatever Swami is doing is for our good only. We must hence implicitly do whatever Swami tells us to do.

Swami - Then go to Bombay. Swami is telling. Go.

Student - Swami, when everything is in You, Bombay also is in You. So I will stay with You.

Swami - See, I am so small! How can everything be in Me? See My hands- so small!

The boy caught Swami’s hands and said…

Student - Swami, these are everything! You can show the Vishwaroopa.

Swami - What is Vishwaroopa?

Student - Swami, it is the form that encompasses everything. It cannot be measured by anything.

Swami - (To the other students) Listen to him! Learn from him!

Swami then went to give Darshan. A few minutes later, Swami again came there and the boy caught Swami’s hands…..

Student - Swami, please give me an Interview.
Swami - Interview? This was all Interview only. What do you want?

Student - Swami, I want you only. I want to stay with You.

Swami - But what about studies…..?

Student - Swami, You are everything. When I have You, I will have studies also.

Swami - Do you want Swami or studies?

Student - Swami, I want You. Everything is in You.

Then Swami mentioned several things to the boy- parents, Bombay, studies, friends etc. But the students reply consistently was just…. “No Swami! I want to be with You Swami! Keep me with You!”

Swami stopped speaking, looked deep inside the boy’s eyes. He then slowly shook His Head and in a vibrant, deep, awesome voice, said, “It is not so easy, sir. It is not so easy!”

Region 1 - Bhajan Workshop: Inspiring for the Aspiring

The Region 1 workshop took place on Saturday 5 October 13 and was hosted by Tooting Sai Centre. Approximately 40 devotees (adults , Youth and SSE Children) attended from across the region from various centres. We started with opening prayers followed by a short video showing our beloved swami interacting in a bhajan practice session with students in an often humorous way.

Sing aloud the glory of God and charge the atmosphere with divine adoration...This is why I insist on group singing of the names of the Lord. (SSS, VI, 239)

Brother Rakendu (Region 1 – Spiritual Coordinator) explained that Bhajan singing started many years ago in a village in Puttaparthi by our beloved Lord Sai, and today there are Sai centres all over the world singing His glory on a regular basis. Bhajans bring us happiness and contentment, transforms us and the place where we sing bhajans.

The vibrations emanating from them make the heart vibrant. If you sing alone in your shrine, the vibrations return to you as a reaction. But in community singing, what you have is not a reaction but a wave of vibrations. They enter into the atmosphere and purify the polluted air. The atmosphere today is polluted by bad thoughts and feelings. When you sing the glory of God, the bad germs in the air are destroyed and the air gets purified by a treatment of anti-biotics, as it were. SS, Jan. 1995, 26)

We then went over some of the basic aspects of preparing and performing as a bhajan singer, as well as how to make the venue and entire session as conducive as possible to sing His name and create an uplifting atmosphere. Brother Yoges then narrated a wonderful story about a little boy who repeatedly asked his father if he could sing a bhajan, only to be told ‘not yet’ as there are so many people who can sing. Sometime later, the little boy, now grown up and studying in Prashanthi, asked Swami the same question and Swami gave the same answer as his father, then finally, one day Swami suddenly asked the boy to sing. The moral here is that you need to wait until you are ready.

When all the participants in a bhajan sing in unison, what sacred vibrations are produced and what Divine energies are released! When these vibrations fill the world, what changes cannot they bring about! When one sings alone, the heart is merged in the song. But when many sing together, it acquires a Divine power. (Sai Bhajana Mala, 30)

The procession to the cremation ground starts immediately on birth and the beating of the heart is the drum beat for the march towards that place. Some take a longer route, some reach quickly, but all are on the way. Therefore, devotional singing (bhajan) has to start in the childhood and has to continue. It must be the constant companion of man, his solace and strength. Do not postpone it to old age, for it is essential food for the mind. (SSS I, 123)

We then had a session about how bhajans can be selected, as well as some of the technical aspects of bhajan singing. We looked at the importance of bhava (devotion) as well as shruti (pitch), talla (rhythm) and voice modulation.

Pay attention to the tune, the meaning, the variety, the voice, the raga (rhythm), the tala (beat), and other fine points of the bhajans. (Sai Bhajana Mala, 30). Let your heart pant for God, then the raga (rhythm) and tala (beat) will automatically be pleasant and correct. (SSS VII, 60)

The next session focused on the musical aspects of bhajans singing and how instrumentalists can enhance the entire session. We all came away from a thoroughly enriching day that served both as an opportunity to sing Bhagawan’s name, but also how we can all take steps to reach a higher level of singing which benefits all who attend. Bhajans are an integral and very important part of most centres, and it is our duty to offer only the best in His divine presence.

Let your heart pant for God, then the raga (rhythm) and tala (beat) will automatically be pleasant and correct. (SSS VII, 60)

Those who sing bhajans get what can be called a 'double promotion', for they derive joy and distribute joy. (SSS X, 101)

Darshna
Thornton Heath

Region 1 - Merton Centre Celebrate Navarathri

From Saturday 5th October to Sunday 13th October, thousands of devotees all around the world were celebrating the auspicious festival of Navarathri, dedicated to our Divine Mother Goddess.

Navarathri is a Hindu festival celebrated over nine days, as suggested by the name, to commemorate the victory of good over evil. This nine-day festival is usually divided into three parts. The first three days are dedicated to Goddess Durga, to Whom we pray to grant us physical, mental and spiritual energy. The next three days are for the worship of Goddess Lakshmi, the One who blesses us with wealth of many kinds - this includes physical wealth, intellectual wealth and wealth of character. Finally, the last three days are dedicated to Goddess Saraswathy, the One who grants us an intellect to discriminate between right and wrong, and the capacity for intellectual inquiry.

Swami has said that the nine days of Navarathri should be used effectively to destroy the demons within us; they are present in the form of lust (kama), anger (krodha), delusion (moha), greed (lobha), pride (mada), envy (maatsarya). The tenth day, Vijayadasami, is used to honour our victory in overcoming these evil qualities through the guidance of Goddess Devi.

In Prashanthi Nilayam, the festival is usually celebrated with the Veda Purusha Sapthaha Jnana Yagna. This is a week-long sacrificial ritual conducted in the Divine Presence by renowned Vedic scholars, for the welfare of the whole world. This includes making offerings to Lord Shiva using the celestial fire, the worship of the Sun and the reciting of sacred epics such as the Ramayana and Mahabharatha. Such acts of worship are believed to inject divine energy into the world and destroy any source of evil.

Merton Sai Centre celebrated the Navarathri festival with uplifting bhajans to our Divine Mother Sai every evening from 7pm to 8 pm. This included Omkar, 108 names of our beloved Swami, followed by bhajans and Arathi. Each day was allocated to a different family of devotees, to prepare the Mandir and altar and to provide prasadam for the devotees after the bajan. The Region 1 Youth were given the opportunity to organise the bhajans on Friday 11th October. The love of all the devotees towards our wonderful Mother Sai created a vibrant spiritual energy, where we could all feel Her Divine presence. These nine days allowed all the devotees to take part in some way. Whether it was arrangements for the altar, preparation of prasadam or taking part in the bhajans, it was wonderful because we all had Mother Sai sitting in our hearts and minds throughout.

Sharlini - Merton Youth

Region 1 - Swami's Love Spreads Across the Oceans with SSE Sports and Family Values Day

When we moved to Australia at the end of May this year, we knew it was going to be heartbreaking to leave behind our loving family and friends. We were especially going to miss our Sai family after being involved in Lewisham Sai Centre since it began and also being an active part of Region One…all is one…Region One as we would say proudly! What kept us going was that Swami had plans for us in Melbourne and he would give us strength to heal our hearts. After a few weeks of moving here, I came to realise that there was something missing from our lives. In the midst of being so busy settling in, we had not yet joined a Sai centre and our weekly bhajan fix was not happening. Swami ended up having to come in my dream and told me to go to bhajan, talk about a wake up call! Thanks to our cousin here in Melbourne by the name of Sai, we came upon a beautiful Sai centre called Nunawading which had bhajans every Thursday, this was perfect as we used to go on Thursdays at Lewisham Sai Centre too.

I found most astounding was seeing the love everyone has for Swami around the world which brought tears to my eyes. I felt the same love and vibrations created by the amazing bhajans and study circles at Nunawading Sai Centre that I would have found in London. It made me truly appreciate Swami’s omnipresence. The Sai devotees here really embraced us like their own brother and sister; we knew Swami had brought us to a home away from home.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect as they were due to hold their first Regional SSE Sports and Family Values day in 3 weeks. This event was a mainstay of our SSE calendar back in Region One in London, which I had the good fortune to assist in planning and volunteering over the years from being a youth and as SSE Co-ordinator later on. I felt that Swami was giving me a chance to share my experiences and the knowledge, which I had gained from my fellow brothers and sisters in Region One who had been planning these events for years. Once I revealed this to the Regional SSE team here in Melbourne, they were overjoyed with the Regional SSE Co-ordinator happily remarking that “Swami has sent you to help us at the right time”. I personally wasn’t doing anything at all; I had learnt so much from my time at Region One that it would be a crime not to share it. Normally these events are planned months in advance but Swami had the most dedicated and passionate team here to do his work so we were confident that we would get through it.

I quickly contacted our Region One Chair back in London who I also worked with when he was Regional SSE Co-ordinator and he put me in touch with another devotee for additional help with information for the day and wished us well with the event. I also spoke to my loving Sai Sister who was the Region One Youth Co-ordinator and she forwarded me examples of timetables to use and other relevant event ideas in order to organise sports in parallel. I also got in touch with her Shadow Region One Youth Co-ordinator, a very helpful Sai brother who quickly sent me the march past music that we could use on the day. This all happened in less than a matter of days which goes to show it doesn’t matter how far away you are, the Sai family is always with you, making sure Swami’s work happens wherever we are.

I was now fully equipped to meet our Melbourne Regional SSE team 2 weeks before the event where we had a very productive meeting at the sports day venue. We all felt reassured that thanks to Swami’s grace, everything was coming together. The true test in fact would be the day itself! The Regional SSE Co-ordinator and the team allocated roles to helpers from the 3 Sai centres that were due to participate on the day, namely Nunawading, Glen Waverley and Box Hill Sai Centres. We were looking forward to half a day full of activities for the children and parents but there was one thing, which would have stopped it all - the rain. The Nunawading Sai Centre Chair informed me that the weather forecast was hail in the morning and rain. He said this with a smile because he knew, like we all did, that Swami would not let us down especially the little hearts of his sweet children.

The day came and the sun shone bright, we held the march past with a great turnout of around 50 children of all ages, this was amazing considering we were expecting less because of the weather. Parents turned up in full support and the hard working volunteers and teachers did their utmost to ensure all the activities ran smoothly such as long jump, sprint, lemon and spoon, sack race and more. It reminded me of how sports day would have started out in Prashanthi with the students back when the world was beginning to awaken with the realization of that the Lord himself has incarnated on earth. The children were ecstatic; their enthusiasm knew no bounds and their smiles were priceless. They were split into houses under the names of the human values, Love, Peace and Right Conduct. We stressed the emphasis on everyone being a winner by giving each child a participatory medal, those who came 1st, 2nd and 3rd in races contributed to their overall house score and the winning house was given a special shield. The parents participated in tug of war, which proved to be very comedic and fun.

Towards the end of the morning there was a brief downpour and then sunshine again, we believed that this was Swami’s blessing for us all. We thank Swami for bringing us all together and uniting the community. We have had so much positive feedback to have the SSE Sports and Family Values day as an annual event. This wouldn’t have been possible without a truly global effort connecting regional experiences from London to Melbourne and goes to show how much we can help one another around the world in the name of our beloved Swami.

Jai Sai Ram!

Laavanya Nagendran

Region 1 - Wimbledon Sai Centre’s Inauguration Celebrations

Sunday 4th August 2013 marked the start of a new chapter for Wimbledon Sai Centre. Following 17 years of unforgettable memories we were told that we would have to find a new venue by 31st July, with just two months notice.

The search for a suitable new location proved to be challenging with members of the committee having to contact several schools within the area. With Swami’s grace Malmesbury Primary School in Morden was chosen as the new venue a month later. This venue has many facilities to offer including a beautiful hall overlooking a lovely playing field, and an enormous car park. Weeks of hard work and planning made the relocation a great success.

Several active members gathered the day before the inauguration bhajan to prepare the new centre. The stage was stunningly decorated with the use of a green and white theme. The inauguration bhajan had a wonderful turnout with both new and old faces including members from the Regional Committee. We were also able to comfortably welcome many elderly devotees as the hall is located on the ground floor, unlike the old centre. The bhajan was opened with powerful Vedic chanting and Swami’s presence could be felt throughout the hall. The centre welcomed many new devotees with children hoping to join SSE in the coming September.

With many of the centre’s members growing up at the old venue, the relocation has been an emotional one. Riversdale Primary School has given us memories including Easwaramma plays, Christmas carol singing and celebrations of Swami’s birthday which we will always treasure. The members of Wimbledon Sai Centre are delighted to have this fresh start and are looking forward to the experiences to come.

Jananni Vigneswaran

Region 1 - Young Adults Programme: "The End of Education is character."

One of Baba’s most famous quotations, it refers to the education systems prevalent in the Western World nowadays. Whilst us here in the UK are in many ways more lucky than those of our counterparts in Asia and Africa due to our free and usually high quality education and opportunities, there are many in the world who have no such luxury.

And yet, despite all this education, what good comes of it? Are people taught the moral values which will help them to support themselves, their families and communities, or society as a whole? Is there an emphasis on providing selfless service to those who are less blessed than us with material possessions, or instead a culture of grabbing as much as you can for you and your own?

During the most recent Young Adults Programme (YAP) meeting, on Friday 20th September, in Region 1, we discussed these and other questions which are very important in our day to day lives.

Through the use of ‘circle time’, we asked everybody to describe which TV or film character they thought best represents them. From people such as Sheldon in the Big Bang to both versions of Gandalf (White and Grey) there was a wide variety of answers. Through these medium we discussed how different characters and personalities can be, as well as thinking about the sort of people we can emulate.

Next, we split into 3 groups and created a small role play based on some character relevant quotations. In one play, a coach was hostile to one of her pupils, yet showed greater affection for her star student. Yet when this student could not compete in an official match due to too much partying the night before, the coach had to rely on the pupil who she disfavoured. This was a thought provoking piece that encouraged us to realise how continuous hard work and perseverance can lead to obstacles being overcome. It also reminded us of our duty to treating all people equally, whether their external appearance merits them different treatment or not.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening, where a lot of ideas were expressed and discussed. Through creative theatre and sharing our opinions and ideas, we were better able to realise more fully the truth behind Baba’s discourses on character, and learn ways in which we could apply it in our everyday lives.

With Love and Light

Active Youth Member of Merton Sai Centre, Region 1

Region 2 - Gift Boxes from our Beloved Master...

"Love All Serve All."

Following up from our last year shoe box gift project for the National Seva Day, our beloved Swami has blessed us again to continue the same project this year. HE has also blessed Slough Sai Centre in our region to join hands with us.

On the 6th of October, at 2:00 pm, we gathered at our Centre to commence seva for the 2013 National Seva Day. The hall was filled with love and laughter. Many devotees including SSE children took part in this wonderful activity. Lot of care went into the wrapping of each box as the box and the lid had to be wrapped separately. For some of us, it was a difficult task as we had none or very little experience with wrapping gifts. But perseverance and Swami’s guidance helped us make a positive contribution. 108 boxes were wrapped and filled with lots of goodies (such as toothpaste, toothbrush, hairbrush, pen, pencil, color pencils, note book and more.. ) kindly donated by our Centre devotees.

We are sure that Swami will pick the right children somewhere in the world to receive these wonderful boxes filled with more than the goodies, the abundant love that HIS devotees poured in!

Between Slough and Harrow West Sai Centres, we have donated 162 shoe boxes to Refugee Relief. It was a truly amazing experience to see such a successful end product. This was possible because of Swami’s blessings and the joint effort of the devotees from the two Centres. We pray to Swami to inspire more and more Centres to join together to deliver many more projects like ours.

Jai Sai Ram.
Jay Jeyaseelan, Chairperson, Harrow West Sai Centre - Region 2.

Region 2 - London West SSE Children Foodbank Collection

Our Loving Pranams at the Lotus Feet of Our Mother Sai. In the Bhagavathgeetha, Krishna has referred to "Pathram, Phalam, Pushpam, Thoyam" (that is, leaf, fruit, flower or water) that can be offered to God. I am pleased with any of these provided it is offered with sincere devotion”.

Remembering the above Geeta verse, London West Centre Devotees (all ages) participated by giving Food to the Food Bank at Richmond. We the SSE Children from London West Sai Centre through Ceiling on Desires participated in our own little ways by collecting Food for the Food Bank.

Thanks Swami for giving such wonderful opportunity to help the needy. Little Drops Make the Might Ocean. We pray that may we be the little drops in Your Mission and always Love all and Serve All.

Region 2 - National Seva Day: An act of Kindness without Expectation

Seva (service) is a universal concept, which involves performing an act of kindness without expectation of reward. It is performed selflessly and without ulterior motive. As a concept, it is actively promoted by different cultures and faiths - as the core belief is the same - to sacrifice your time and resources for the benefit of others without wanting anything in return.

On Sunday 6th October morning with glorious sunshine, clear blue skies, we were blessed with nearly 100 SSE Children, Parents, Teachers and centre members gathered at the Hare Krishna Temple (HKT) for the third year running to carry out farming duty as their personal contribution to the National Seva day and continuing the SSE focus on ‘SELFLESS SERVICE’. Around 9.15am, we offered our ‘Thanks’ to Swami in the form of prayers for providing us with yet another opportunity. The groups were divided into smaller groups and delegated different duties across the different areas of the Temple after a quick registration.

The duties varied from potato picking, cabbage patch tidy up, coriander gathering, spinach gathering, manure spreading and weeding. Some of our Teachers and Parents volunteered in the Temple kitchen preparing the hot and wholesome meal we were served at the end of the great productive day.

"Come on girls hurry up!". Great innovation shown by a group of children collecting potatoes using their Seva Day T-shirt to gather them.

"Anyone for a Ride?" Wheel barrow being used to transport the weeds to recycle bin and the washed vegatables to the kitchen ready be consumed by all the devotees visiting the Template as prasad.

Our Youth Wing members take a moment’s break to pose for a snap. “It looks like someone forgot to wear their T-Shirt”. Each Year everyone participating was awarded with “National Seva Day T-shirt” and this year’s colour was Orange with a logo of ‘Gandhi’ – how appropriate!

After all the hard work everyone put in, hot puri’s, vegetable and chick pea curry, freshly home-made soup, salad, rice and a sweet dish, alongside some fresh punch juice, was served hot off the plates. We filled ourselves to our hearts content.

To end a beautiful day full of love, smiles and unity, HKT Team provided us with a Bull and Cart ride for all of the SSE children, teachers and adults – some even twice! We can only thank our dearest Swami, for the perfect weather, company and atmosphere amongst Krishna and his devotees. Thank you Swami, for giving us the energy, inspiration and unity in fulfilling this task.

Jai Sai Ram.

Written by Sonal Mistry. Parent & A Teacher.

Region 2 - Sewa Day Offering from Wembley Sai Centre

Wembley Sai Centre were very privileged to share the shoebox service offering set up by Harrow West Sai Centre. We had undertaken to make up 18 shoeboxes ready for collection and despatch to school children in need of certain items which are readily available to us in The UK.

Centre members of all ages participated in bringing differen items for inclusion in these boxes. We had items such as compass boxes, packets of markers, ball point pens, pencils, notebooks and notepads, paints, etc., along with fun items such as sweets and bubble makers - all brought in as gifts for bright young people in far flung destinations.

The items were evenly distributed into the boxes and then lovingly gift wrapped. The beautiful thing for the centre was that some members new to co-ordinating got whole heartedly involved in the concept and delivery of the commitment we had undertaken.

Region 2 - Slough Sai Centre: Serve the Planet

Serve the Planet is a global service to commemorate the day of our beloved Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s Avatar declaration day on October 20th. All overseas the Sathya Sai Organisations have committed to carry out this project under the leadership of Prasanti Council as a sacred offering of this wondrous day.

On this magnificent day in the year 1940 our Sri Bagawan had announced about his avatar to the World. He declared that the purpose of his Advent and Mission is the transformation and redemption of mankind through his whole world of love. And all through the 85 years of His sojourn on earth, He was engaged in this Mission of Love through selfless service to humanity and mankind. In fact his message ‘’Love –All, Serve All’’ has been shining the light over the millions of devotees and followers who have been around the world in their spiritual journeys.

“The core of the spiritual discipline of service is to see everyone as yourself and yourself in everyone. You are not doing service to others, you are doing service to yourselves, to the God in you who is equally present in all” – Sathya Sai Baba 21/11/1981

The project, in which so many regions and centres are participating in, is to focus, importance, and significance of the Service of love. On the Avatar Declaration Day, and in the weeks leading up to it, various service activities will be undertaken by individual countries based upon locally identified needs like people in poorer countries or people who can’t afford to eat or work. Serving food to the poor and hungry (Narayana Seva) has been suggested as one of the main focus areas for this project but one can donate clothes or accessories etc.

In our centre we did a 'shoebox ' project. In this project, a shoe box is filled with items such as combs, toothbrush, toothpaste, notebook, pen etc. the boxes are delivered to children in Africa. This was a joint project with the Harrow West Sai Centre. Balvikaschildren ,teachers and members of the community participated in the project. Groups of people were given different tasks. Some assembled items, some checked to make sure all boxes had similar items, and other gave the boxes the finishing touch. Children and adults worked in unison with the Divine music playing in the background. We managed to wrap 54 shoeboxes and sent them to Harrow West from where the people who deliver would have collected them.

Below are some photos taken on the day:

I would like to end with Baba’s message :
“A single homestead cannot make a village; many have cluster together and live as one family in order to constitute a village. And, for such Seva as you are doing, each homestead and every member thereof has to lend a helping hand and achieve success in the common venture. The physical strength, the monetary resources, the intelligence of all have to be pooled in order to make the project succeed. This garland has not happened out of a single flower; many flowers of different hues and fragrances have string themselves around the string in order to achieve the common aim of decorating the picture or person. No one in the village can stand apart and say, "This work is not mine; it is the responsibility of man or this group". Bhagawan Baba

Data Protection Act 1998
Please note that "Love and Light" is also published on the National Website and is freely available to countries outside the EEA.

"Love and Light"
© Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (UK) 2013

All rights reserved
"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.