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Love and Light

National Sathya Sai Orientation Conference 2016

The National Sathya Sai Orientation Conference was the first big event of 2016, which brought around 300 office bearers and active members of the Sathya Sai International Organisation (UK) to Hatfield, London on 30th of January. It was energising, invigorating and heartening to see so many delegates together, all having travelled many a mile out of sheer love for Swami from around the country, all beating with one heart, ever ready to serve His Divine Mission. The theme, ‘Love in Action – the Sai Path’ very aptly encapsulated the Life and Message of our Lord Sathya Sai and the spirit of our sacred organisation.

We were privileged to have two senior leaders from our Organisation participate in the conference. Ms Marianne Meyer from Denmark (member of Prasanthi Council and Director within Sri Sathya Sai World Foundation) and Mrs Petra von Kalinowski from Germany (Zonal Chair, Zone 7).

The stage was beautifully decked with Swami’s chair on one side, a projection screen in the middle and Swami’s photograph on the other side. The conference began with soulful rendition of multifaith prayers by the youth followed by stirring devotional singing that suffused the entire milieu with devotional fervour.

Dr Nishal Govindji Bhatt and Dr Mahesh Narayan were our Programme Anchors who conducted the proceedings seamlessly with great poise.

Dr Mahesh Narayan and Dr Nishal Govindji Bhatt - Programme Anchors

Dr. Kiran Patel, the outgoing Council President of SSIO UK, delivered the welcome address and shared anecdotes on how Swami epitomised the theme of the conference. He thanked the delegates for their support during his four year tenure and expressed gratitude to Swami for guiding Him and for the opportunity to serve Him. He urged the assembled delegates not to miss the rare opportunity to serve through the sacred organisation.

Dr Kiran Patel, Outgoing Council President Welcoming Delegates & Dr Veeru Mudigonda, New Council President Addressing Delegates Please click here for the video link.

Dr Veeru Mudigonda, the new Council President, SSIO UK was the next speaker. He reflected on the rare blessing to have Swami as our mother, father, teacher and friend. He said that it was Swami who had chosen us to be His Instruments; it was His Love that had pulled everyone together. He submitted that he was embarking on this journey as Council President in all humility, in the realisation that Swami was the Giver, Owner and Doe. He added that the Sathya Sai Centres had a big role to play where Love in Action could be practised. Our work, whether we are in position or not shouldn’t stop, He remarked. He shared an experience to demonstrate that Swami alone was permanent and it was therefore essential to maintain our spiritual focus only upon Him. He thanked all outgoing office bearers with a deep sense of gratitude and urged them to continue to do His work, work suffused with Love offered to Him.

The outgoing council members, Dr Kiran Patel, Mr Mukund Patel ( National Service Coordinator) and Mr Shyam Jamnadas (National Youth Coordinator) were then felicitated and the new council was introduced. An audio-visual collage was then shown highlighting the wonderful activities undertaken by SSIO UK in 2015.

Ms Marianne Meyer in her Keynote address reiterated the uniqueness of the Organisation and Sai Centres with the aim to remove all hindrances that kept one away from God. She said that we had to conduct as brothers and sisters and only in Love could unity be achieved; that we had to co-operate as one team, encouraging and supporting each other and to lead by example. She urged everyone to connect within and to build bridges by listening and learning and to develop trust amongst each other. The erudite speaker concluded saying that our’s was a journey from I to We to Him!

Ms Marianne Meyer sharing her views with delegates

The conference delegates then dispersed to their respective workshops titled ‘Love in Action – Ideal Sathya Sai Centres’. These encouraged delegates to delve deeper into their understanding of the purpose and role of a Sai Centre; the role of devotees and office bearers in ensuring that centres functioned as Ideal Sathya Sai Centres; relevance of the 9-point code of conduct that Swami had provided; and familiarity with the 10 guiding principles.

Workshop on Ideal Sathya Sai Centre in Progress

After a scrumptious lunch, delegates reassembled at different wing workshops; and Centre Chairs had an opportunity to engage with the leadership team.

After a short break, the National Wing Coordinators: Mrs Thana Yogendran (National SSE Coordinator), Dr Anshi Dattani (deputy to Ketheeswaran Saiganesh – National Youth Coordinator), Dr Kumarasen Pillay (National Service Coordinator) and Dr Rakendu Suren (National Spiritual Coordinator) presented details of their plans for 2016.

Mrs Thana Yogendran, National SSE Coordinator Presenting Wing Objectives

Dr Anshi Dattani, Deputy National Youth Coordinator, Sharing Plans for Youth Wing & Dr Kumarasen Pillay, National Service Coordinator, Sharing Wing Objectives

Dr Rakendu Suren, National Spiritual Coordinator, Outlining 2016 Plans

Click the links below to download wing presentations:

SSE Wing Presentation

Youth Wing Presentation

Service Wing Presentation

Spiritual Wing Presentation

Mr Mel Griffin, Trustee, and Deputy Chairman of Sathya Sai Charitable Trust UK was the next speaker who provided a background to the Trust reminding that it was the first Trust formed outside India in 1979 under explicit instructions from Swami. He elaborated on the funding the Trust had made to various activities in 2015, such as the international medical camps, and Emergency Relief in Nepal and Chennai (approximately 130,000 USD). He thanked the devotees and reiterated that both the Sathya Sai Organisation and the Sathya Sai Trust in UK would continue to work together in progressing the Sathya Sai Mission.

Mr Mel Griffin, Trustee, Presenting Activities of Sathya Sai Charitable Trust (UK)

Please click here for the video link.

Mrs Petra von Kalinowski, our Zonal Chair was the final speaker of the day. She reflected on her last 3 visits to the UK in recent months and the outstanding unity and Love she experienced, praising that UK was not ordinary but an engine, a jewel in the European Sai Crown. She reminisced that in the auspicious 90th Year of Swami’s advent, UK had once more become part of Europe which presented opportunities to co-operate and share learning. After this, she presented a brief summary of activities of the Zone. The activities undertaken in the Baltic countries stood out in her Talk as they were exemplary; in spite of meagre resources, the devotees there had big hearts to serve the needy when needed.

Petra concluded her talk by sharing an interesting anecdote about Hanuman, the great devotee and servant of Lord Rama whose gigantic idol on top of the Hill View Stadium stands as an icon of selfless sacrifice. During one of the darshans in the temple in Prasanthi Nilayam, she saw Swami’s face change to that of Hanuman. After a year, a lady gave her a photograph of Swami selflessly serving devotees. The photograph also showed Swami’s shadow, but the shadow clearly and uncannily resembled that of a Monkey! She finished her inspiring talk by quoting Swami that the best way to serve God was to Love All and Serve All.

Address by Zonal Chair, Mrs Petra von Kalinowski

Please click here for the video link.

Mrs Vidyulata Narayan, who took over as the new Vice President of SSIO UK shared her concluding reflections on an immensely recharging day, thanking the special guests and felicitating them, the delegates and all volunteers who selflessly ensured a successful day. She recalled Swami’s divine discourse from the 1st World Conference, on the 21st April 1967, when Swam had spoken of the 3 qualifications that members of the Organisation should possess: To be eager aspirants for spiritual progress; have full faith in the name that the organisation bears; recognition as a good person. Swami had then asked everyone to take a solemn Oath. In a similar spirit, all delegates were requested to stand up and take that oath. Thus, concluded a memorable conference!

Mrs Vidyulata Narayan, Council Vice President Giving Her Concluding Reflections