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Love and Light

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

With the Divine Blessings of our Lord, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, devotees from UK have embarked on a National SSE Pilgrimage to Prasanthi Nilayam in this special year when we celebrate Bhagawan's 90th Birthday. Christened as 'Sai Mahima - Miracle of Love', the pilgrimage will reach the sacred abode on the 28th July, and conclude on the 6th of August 2015.

The Pilgrimage will also participate in the World SSE Education Conference being held in Prasanthi Nilayam (August 1st - 3rd 2015), thus utilising the unique opportunity to participate in the discussions, and interact with fellow brothers and sisters from across the world.

Currently 138 devotees from UK, including 52 children and youth, have registered to undertake this sacred journey with sincere devotion and love. Earnest efforts are being made by all the kindred pilgrims to prepare themselves to receive Swami’s grace and blessings. A daily Sadhana programme, periodic group Sadhana meetings, and regular rehearsals for a cultural offering by children, have all been an integral part of this preparation over more than a month now. Two Group Sadhana meetings have been held so far, and the third meeting will be held on Saturday, 20th of June between 11am- 5pm at Sai Mandir, Merton. An account of these uplifting meetings is enclosed below:

First Sadhana Meeting

On Saturday 18th April, the “Sai Mahima – Miracle of Love” UK Pilgrimage had its first Group Sadhana meeting at the Sai Mandir in Wimbledon. Most of the 138 pilgrims came together on a bright sunny morning to meet and begin their group preparation for this wonderful journey of love to our Beloved Swami.

After 3 Aums and some beautiful bhajans, our National SSE coordinator, sister Thana Yogendran welcomed everyone, reminding all that it was only because of Swami’s Will, Grace and Love that we had all come together on the day and would be travelling on this pilgrimage together. Speaking about the SSE cultural programme, she explained that it would not just be a showcasing of talent and skills, but would be a humble offering of love and gratitude to Swami for all that He has given us. Through the medium of classical dances, folk dances, drama, music, multimedia and narration, the universal message of Swami would be depicted by the SSE children and youth from UK. Both the children and adults would follow a rigorous spiritual discipline in preparation to be in the Presence of God in Prasanthi Nilayam, as one family together, she said. She finished with a beautiful quote from Swami:

“Every Deed must take man nearer the goal, it must be a step in the pilgrimage to God. It must cleanse the emotions, correct the attitude, clarify the path and co-operate in the consummation, this has to be the constant care and vigilance of every seeking aspirant to bliss. (SSS Vol 10 July 1970)

Then followed two truly inspiring talks by brothers Kiran and Veeru, Chair and Vice- Chair of our SSSOUK. They clarified the purpose, focus, processes and logistics of the pilgrimage whilst sharing wonderful experiences of previous pilgrimages and their blessed time as Swami’s students in Prashanthi Nilayam and Brindavan.

Sister Geetha and brother Yoges rounded-up the morning session by getting everyone to interact with each other, and introduce themselves to someone in the group that they hadn’t met before. With a few guided questions, and some encouragement initially, it helped everyone open up and soon it seemed that we had begun the process of harmonising. We also watched a beautiful video presentation of clips from previous national pilgrimages compiled by K.Sai Ganesh, Region 1 Youth Co-ordinator.

After sharing a delicious lunch together, all the youth and children returned to the Sai Mandir for preliminary selection and allocation of roles for the programme and preparation for the Sadhana sheets they would follow.

Meanwhile, all the adults gathered downstairs in the hall and spent the afternoon chanting Swami’s 108 names, writing the Likhita Nama Japam in special books that they were given, and discussing the SSE conference that many would be attending in Prashanthi during the period of the pilgrimage – a rare and beautiful chance to share their views and learn more about Sai Spiritual Education with delegates from 80 other countries.

Then the pilgrims formed smaller groups to read and discuss the first two chapters of Geetha Vahini and Sandeha Nivarini, the two chosen books of study for this year’s pilgrimage. This really made everyone feel that their spiritual journey had begun, as Swami’s nectarine words touched and uplifted hearts, and they couldn’t wait to continue their reading and spiritual discussion. One member of each group summarised their understanding of surrender to Swami, as He is our Mother, Father, our Guru, our everything! Moderated by the members of the Pilgrimage Planning Committee, the pilgrims shared their own experiences of faith and surrender. Everyone concluded that Swami will be with us through all the ups and downs of life’s journey – and all we need to do is surrender to Him and remember that He is always with us, listening and watching everything that we do.

With these thoughts brimming in our hearts and minds, we joined the children and youth upstairs to end our first group meeting with another beautiful bhajan session and Arathi. We all left the Sai Mandir with joy and excitement and with the resolve to open our hearts and always remember to Walk with Sai – knowing that He will be with us every step of the way, on this wonderful journey back to Him.

Geetha Maheswaran, Thana Yogendran, Sujatha Ravishankar and Yoges Yogendran

Second Sadhana Meeting

The second Sadhana Meeting for the Sai Mahima – Miracle of Love UK Pilgrimage 2015 took place in the Sai Mandir on Saturday 23rd May. I had only been able to briefly attend the first meeting because of my University exams, but as they had now finished, I was able to participate fully in the seva to prepare the Sai Mandir and also to attend and help on the day. I feel very thankful to Swami that I had been part of Sai Mahima 2, 4 & 5 pilgrimages from 1996-2004, but I had been too young a child at that time to fully appreciate the benefits and importance of Group Sadhana. So this was a very interesting and uplifting meeting for me, as I was approaching this pilgrimage as an adult, and I realised that the responsibility was mine - to attend the meetings and to do the Sadhana, in order to gain the maximum benefit from this pilgrimage. I was fortunate enough to help the volunteers in getting the Mandir and Temple prepared the day before and also on the day, and I started to appreciate how much time, preparation and dedication went into organising these meetings – in order to make them as interesting, engaging and comfortable as possible for all the pilgrims. It soon dawned on me that these meetings too were an offering to Swami, just like the pilgrimage itself, and therefore all actions needed careful attention to detail and purity of heart.

The day began with bhajans and was divided into two sessions: The morning session addressed the entire gathering and consisted of various talks about different aspects of the trip. The afternoon session addressed the children and adults separately with relevant activities. IOur National SSE Co-ordinator, Mrs. Thana Yogendran, gave a wonderful introduction to the meeting - emphasising the importance of practising Swami’s teachings - an advice that I felt we should all abide by. There was then a brief talk from Dr. Kiran Patel, Chair of the SSSSO UK, who gave us an insight into the benefits of a group pilgrimage, relating how Swami was so happy when group pilgrimages came to Prashanthi, and that He did not focus on individuals within the group but used to comment on group discipline as opposed to individual discipline – hence the need for Group Sadhana. There was an update from Mrs. Karuneswary Ratnasingham, on the progress of the Sai Mahima cultural programme – where she went through the individual dance scenes and the good progress made so far. She also stressed the importance of attending these Group Sadhana Meetings with a sincere attitude of duty and discipline, as we would benefit the most from hearing all the speakers and taking part in all the activities – the importance of putting Swami first in our lives. Mrs. Geetha Maheshwaran then shared her experience of last year’s pilgrimage back in August 2014, narrating her memories of Brindavan, and talked about the spiritual atmosphere and the great experiences of the group during that trip. She also launched the ‘Boxes of Love’ project that we would take with us to Prashanthi, with the opportunity of having them blessed on Swami’s Samadhi. She then introduced the ‘Tree of Reasons’ about why we were going on this pilgrimage. Finally, Dr. Veeru Mudigonda, Vice Chair of the SSSSO UK and Mr. Yoges Yogendran outlined the logistics of the trip. Veeru Uncle also talked about the importance of the World SSE Conference taking place from the 1st to 3rd August. He said that an important purpose of this conference was to learn more about the way Swami’s SSE Programme was taught in different countries and advised everyone to participate in it with enthusiasm and energy.

After an excellent lunch, the adults had a study circle in the hall downstairs and split into groups to discuss the next chapters from Gita Vahini and Sandeha Nivarini, books chosen for Group Study Sadhana on this Pilgrimage. They also spent time reciting the 108 names of Swami and then 10 minutes was spent writing out “Om Sri Sai Raam”. In the hall upstairs, two things were taking place and the children were involved in both: some children designed their own cube nets, which would eventually be transformed into the cube Boxes of Love for Swami and other children were doing dance practice with our esteemed dance teacher, Subathra Aunty. Finally, the day ended (as it also had began) with Bhajans and concluded with Arathi. Overall, the day was a great success in aspects. And the main message I took home from this meeting was the importance of all of us attending these group meetings and practising the Sadhana with dedication, in order that we could develop that unity of purpose – unity of thought, word and deed that would be so essential for our trip to Swami this Summer.

M Sai Ganesh, Youth Wing
Merton, London

"The ideal of the Bal Vikas is to raise a generation of boys and girls who have a clean and clear conscience. Bal Vikas is the primary basis of the great movement to restore Dharma in the world. The young minds of children are not polluted and hence they can be led into good ways of living, into simplicity, humility and discipline... Help them understand the five human values, so that they can practice these in their daily lives; Guide them to Love all and Serve all. In short help them grow into worthy citizens to serve the world; identifying the divinity present in all. Education must aim at providing the child not livelihood, but, a life worth living. The promotion of human values must become an integral part of the educational process." ~ Sathya Sai Speaks, 14/09