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Sri Sathya Sai Baba Service Activities

  Grama Seva - Experience Sharing By Swami Students

Excerpts from:

Proceedings of the Sri Sathya Sai International Seva Conference
Seva Adoration Illumination
July 21 - 23, 2002 Prasanthi Nilayam

Inaugural Session -1 - Sri. Srinivasan

In last two years Bhagawan gave a new meaning to seva when he directed His students to take up Gram seva in the villages of Anantapur district. For the first time the sevaks went from door to door carrying Bhagavan’s prasad, gifts and message of Love. Every dwelling, be it a palace or a hut, was covered by the messengers of Sai. Bhagawan showed the importance of every individual in society reminding him or her that Sai never forgets anyone irrespective of whoever else may have forgotten him or her.

Bhagavan Baba has personally taken a lot of interest in every aspect of the arrangements for this Conference. He personally went around many times even during the hottest part of the day to see the accommodation arrangements for the delegates and the Conference facilities.

Inaugural Session -2 - Sri. Kishin Kubachandani

But in this new millennium let us take what Baba has done in India and make this our vision and mission of the Sai Organization. Bhagavan Baba has not undertaken service of convenience. He has launched massive programs of service of need for the nation, free schools, universities, hospitals, water projects etc. Bhagavan Baba has become in India, a force in human welfare and nation building. Every Sai Centre, every Sai National Organisation in every country must become a force in human welfare and nation building. 

Sri Sathya Sai Grama Seva In Villages Of Anantapur District, Presentor - Sri Rangarajan 

All these years, the poor people were coming to the Lord to seek His refuge. But that year Bhagavan resolved to go Himself to every doorstep to feed and clothe every poor person. This project was executed by thousands of students from the 3 campuses of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning: the one at Anantapur, Brindavan near Bangalore and Prashanthi Nilayam, assisted by the students of Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School, Prashanthi Nilayam. The students without any external help or support excusively carried out this task. A very unique feature of this project was its magnitude. Believe it or not, the entire planning, organisation and execution were completed in a record time of just one month. There was a fortnight of planning and execution followed by a fortnight of the actual Grama Seva. Details of Planning and Organisation of Grama Seva Vineet & Deepak Anand An old lady was waiting for us. When we offered the Prasadam to her she broke down and said "My two sons have passed away. I really don’t have any support in life. Give a photo of Bhagavan. His name is now my only recourse." She took the saree that Bhagavan had sent for her and wept.

For the thousands of students going to 600 villages and 5 big towns with a population of many lakhs and 50 vehicles traveling in different directions, we thought that an adaptive structure of organisation would be most appropriate. But the real lesson in adaptiveness came from Bhagavan Himself, who scaled up the whole project from covering a few thousand people in a cluster of villages in the beginning to covering big towns with population of 1.5 to 2 lakhs in a single day. We could still do it with the same man power, the same resources, the same infrastructure without compromising even a little bit of the quality! The discipline did not come out of force but it came from the Source. If you remember the Grama Seva was conducted during the vacation. All the students stayed back so enthusiastically and converted their "holidays" into "holy days".The Grama Seva has become Rama Seva.

He had told us that every house without fail should get Prasadam and a pair of clothes at their doorstep before their lunchtime and that became our vision statement.

When we had to go to a cluster of villages in Hindupur, the river was over flowing a few feet above the bridge. We could see the people waiting for us on the bank. It was like so close yet so far. Keeping Bhagavan’s vision in mind we traveled 40 kilometers, 4 hours of arduous journey on bumpy village roads. But finally when we reached there it was a bumper harvest of Love and Joy. "Bhagavan Sai Baba Ki Jai! Bhagavan Sai Baba Ki Jai!" They came towards us as if it was one home, one family and they helped us in every aspect of distribution.

Let us not forget that the students of the Anantapur women’s campus who used to spend the whole night preparing Prasadam and packaging it with Love. By singing Bhajans and chanting vedam we used to infuse the Prasadam with Divine vibrations and really that made all the difference. At the end of the day when we used to come back from Seva we all rushed to Bhagavan and the feedback used to flow not from us to Him but from Him to us.

We had gone to a particular village in Kadri and while coming back we saw a young man coming from the fields. We stopped and asked him whether he had received Bhagavan’s prasadam. He said no and took a few steps back saying not to touch him or come close to him because he belonged to the most deprived section of society and lived in a separate place. The brothers, anyway, went close to him and offered the Prasadam with all their Love and affection. One of them put his hand on the young man’s shoulder and said "Bhagavan Baba says that we are all children of one same God. Then in that respect are we not brothers?" The young man could not hide his tears and he left saying, "Yes! Yes! Sai Baba is God. Sai Baba is God." Many more such experiences we had which transformed us during this Grama Seva.

He wanted that we students also experience that joy of giving and so He directed that we should go and serve each one of the people in their houses, at their doorstep and experience that joy of giving. Bhagavan explained to us a lot of important things. He told us why is it that He was giving clothes and food as prasadam and not something else. He said "Bhikshanam deha rakshartham, vasthram sheera nivarnam". Food is needed to foster the body while clothes are needed to protect us from inclement weather.

At many places they used to sprinkle water on the roads where we had to walk. They had beautifully decorated shrines for Bhajans to take place. Bhagavan had actually told us that before we started distribution of prasadam, all of us were to go around and do Nagar Sankeerthan and Vedam chanting. Just imagine hundreds of youth going around singing the glory of God with all their hearts. What an impact it had! There were subtle changes in the environment. People themselves used to come and join us. We used to sing for no more negativity, no more despair or despondency. There was only Love. Love and Joy in every heart. That is the Love we experienced and felt when we went house to house giving prasadam. Each house we went to, we were welcomed with beaming faces and broad smiles.

Upon enquiry we found that the Annaprasna ceremony where in, a newborn is fed food for the first time in his life,was in progress. Instead of feeding the child the ceremonial soft-boiled rice, they fed the sweet that Bhagavan had sent. The child had got prasadam as its first morsel in its life.

In a village, Gunnipalli, a person approached us and pointed towards the water tank of the Sri Sathya Sai Water Supply Project and said "See that is Bhagavan’s gift to us. He is giving us water 24 hours a day and now that is our lifeline. Not only that Swami has also constructed a Kalyana Mandapam where we can hold marriages and functions."In a choked voice the man said "And now Swami has sent you with prasadam. Will the Divine Hand ever refrain from giving?"

He went up to the hut to see who was there. And what did he see? In a corner he found an old lady crouched up. He went up to her and said "Amma Bhagavan has sent prasadam for you. Please do take it." When she heard these words from him, she broke down on the spot and then told him why. It had been 2 whole days since she had her last meal and she had been praying fervently to Bhagavan to save her somehow from her situation. This goes a long way in showing us that the village people are so simple in their outlook that they could have a direct contact with Bhagavan. Many times what they could not put in words, their broad smiles and moist eyes said it all. In short, it was an exchange of Love between hearts that left all of us transformed and inspired.

Deepak and Vineet: An old woman was waiting in a small hut even after receiving the food, prasadam, sweet and saree that Bhagavan had sent for her. After finishing serving all the others in the village we went to her and she insisted that we see her new house. So we went in and told her and complimented her saying what a nice and neat house she had built. But suddenly she turned around and said, "I have not called each of you to admire my house. I called you in so that you step into it. Since you have come from Swami may the dust of Puttaparthy enter my humble house with your feet and may our family be blessed with auspiciousness."

As one of the village folks told us themselves during the Grama Seva "Aa abhaya hasthaniki aapata mante emani thelusa?" Do those Divine Hands that always bless and bestow ever know what it is not to give?

During those memorable days of the Grama Seva we learned to serve. For the one who wishes to serve, has to knock at the door and the door opens. But for the one who truly loves, the door is always open. During those days of Grama Seva we learned to love. We learned to love every symbol of humanity the way He loves us.

Suddenly the whole atmosphere reverberated with "Swami’s clothes! Swami’s clothes!" When we turned around we saw a festival of colours. The children donning their new clothes were parading in the streets, waving at us chanting "Sai Ram! Sai Ram" for they had never worn such clothes before. We realised in Grama Seva that loving alone is true living.

The inmates of the house opened the door saw us with the prasadam and suddenly explained "Oh no, wait!" and we were taken aback. But then they told us "Ayya there is a room next to ours where our parents stay. So please serve them first and then come to us." Reverence and respect for parents will never be forgotten in our lives. Truly Indian culture lives in its villages!

Swami would be here waiting for us. We would just hide ourselves into His lap and He would shower us with his smiles and Love. Truly weariness or sleep never came close to us because it was Love of the Lord that was operating through us.

We were feeling thirsty. Even before we could express our need, an old woman came rushing from the village with a pot of buttermilk and insisted that each of us have a glassful. Even though we tried to resist, she persisted. It really left us with the question "Who was the giver and who really was the receiver?" We received as much as we gave. In fact, more. In the words of Saint Francis we were but "Channels of His Peace".

Amit and Sri Krishna: It was in one of the village that we came across a decrepit old woman ambling across the street in a rather remarkable wheelchair. It was a sort of wheelchair, but suitably modified to serve as her shelter and also means of transport. When we served her the prasadam, she gratefully accepted it and then made a simple statement that left us stunned. She said that it was during a previous function that Bhagavan had given her the very same special wheelchair that was now her sole possession in life. He was again giving her prasadam thereby assuring her that even if no one else cared, He did.

We got down and saw that there was no road, it was just a stony path and it was so narrow that no vehicle could pass through it. Just then as we got down and were thinking what our next move should be, some villages approached us. When they came to know of our problem, they did not lose any time. They brought their bullock carts, put the prasadam into them and took it to the villages. It was so good !

This Grama Seva project has stood out as an ideal for all humanity to emulate. For it has taught us that social service, should not be a "slowcial" service. For slowness in implementing noble thoughts never brings harvest. It has further gone to show that social service should not be a "showcial" service for it is not to show that we do, but that we do to sow the seeds of love and peace amongst us.

Summary of Presentation, Dr. M Sainath: At the outset, we would all like to state that Bhagavan's invisible, yet visible hand was felt at every point of the project guiding and guarding us and for this, we remain eternally grateful to Him. While the planning and the actual spadework took 15 days, the actual execution of the project took 15 days. This remarkable speed was basically possible due to the excellent discipline and coordination among the teams

The first point which we observed as felt with our heart was that love begets love. We saw this from the open hearted welcome that all the villagers accorded to us and almost always the rather tearful farewell that they bid us. It is often said that when getting makes a living, giving makes a life. These were villagers who extended their hearts to us because their hearts were touched with the love of Bhagavan who had given them so many projects for their upliftments, They wholeheartedly came forward to beg us to let them become a part of this project, much as we tried to dissuade them from it. And this was a lesson which we all leant from the Grama Seva.

A very notable feature of Grama Seva which we saw in the response of the villagers was the reverence with which they accepted the prasadam. To them these were not material objects which were just given to them out of pity. From the conception, the planning, execution in every stage the Divine name was chanted. This in turn was a valid consequence of Namasmarana.

At the outset, this Grama Seva was an eye opener in the sense that it gave us a wholehearted view of the selfless giving nature of Bhagavan. The second point under the lessons learnt is that we youth were sensitized to the needs of the needy. There is much that the people around us need. Much of it at the level of metaphysical rather than the material. A third very vital but critical point. We found that contentment is the key to a happy life. none of them lost their sleep or worried over what they did not have. What they did not have did not stop them from enjoying what little joys life had to give them. This was a very big lesson that we learnt. Then come a point that details matter. If we look into the minor details of today, a major disaster can be avoided during the execution if the plan tomorrow. Another point which I wish to make here is that we learnt the important power of the name of the Lord. importantly, it divinised the entire effort.

What lesson does Grama Seva offer to humanity? The first and the most important lesson is the quality of the effort that matters and not the quantity. And this brings me to the next point - to serve with love. And this means reaching out to one and all. The second lesson which Grama Seva has to offer is that of Nishkama Karma.

In conclusion, I would like to say that the highest reward that we toil for is not what we get from the effort. It is what we become from the effort. Bhagavan has often stated – "Each one of us works for happiness. Whatever we do in hinged around the simple, single pointed objective of achieving happiness." But when we try to bring happiness to some others, happiness comes to us by itself. This concludes our presentation. Sai Ram and thank you.

Inspiring Talks On Seva

(From the proceedings of the Sri Sathya Sai International Seva Conference Seva Adoration Illumination from July 21 - 23, 2002 at Prasanthi Nilayam)

Seva Through Socio Care (Sri. Suresh Govind)

The other day I met a person who came to me, was very weak and tired with a bad cough and so on. He says he goes to the gym twice, morning and evening. He said, "I go to the Gym and watch other people exercise." That is one kind of activity. Mere observation of Seva activities cannot bring direct benefit. It must be actual participation, really soaking ourselves in participation. If Educare is to manifest Divinity from within and Medicare is to preserve the body so that Divinity can be experienced then Sociocare must mean to manifest this divinity, manifest the consciousness of care and concern for society at large. The Prime Minister has recently declared Malaysia a Muslim nation. In fundamental Islamic nation you and I know how things can be, yet to move the agenda of Sathya Sai forwards and to bring recognition from the Government and the people requires effort, strategy, action plan and initiative. Strategy S, action plan A, I initiative its also SAI. The normal routine service activities are there. We realised we need to give permanent legacies of Sai love and service of need should be emphasised and should replace service of communions.

What can Sathya Sai be recognised for? So what is the greatest service Sai moment can do at this time? We too looked at the newspaper just as Bhagavan did and how Swami looked the newspaper and responded to the call of the lady. Therefore we took up a challenge. How can we regenerate Human Values in society? How? We did pervasive Human Values programs. All these programs were done: Human Values drama & song festival, Human Values cartoon competition, Human Values billboards, Human Values debate. Human Values song festival, this is a crowd you can see, were about three thousand non Sai public people comprised of Muslims, Christians, Hindus watching programs and this program was declared as a national event in the year of peace many years back. We also went to the newspapers and did Human Values cartoon competition. Human Value billboards on the streets asking people to respect parents and culture was also done. Therefore over the years, Sathya Sai Organisation in Malaysia, what we did was we built curriculum vitae. People realised that we are not just a spiritual group, but we are a Service organisation. We are an inter faith group whereby you manifest the ideals that people saw, we mean what we say and we do what we say as Baba said, "Be, Do, See and Tell". A Muslim king came to our function and graced Sathya Sai function. Perhaps nowhere else maybe first time a Muslim king giving recognition to the efforts of the Sathya Sai Organisation.

Every minister, every member of parliament, deputy prime minister, prime minister and the king has mentioned something about Sathya Sai Organisation and said that the Sathya Sai’s contribution is valuable and continue this nation’s building work. Were we happy? We were not happy. Therefore we walked into a Mayor’s office and we asked the Mayor, "Which is your black area? Which is the highest drug area? Which is the area that has highest gangster’s?" So the Mayor pointed one area in Kaula Lumpur. For three years, a whole team of professionals, workers, social workers, Sathya Sai devotees, all gathered together immediately after work we used to roll our sleeves and get into this particular area. This area had about twenty eight thousand people, with majority of them Muslim Malays, Chinese Malays, Indians and we walked into this area. We went there and we literally wore mere sandals and walked day and night.

They saw us physically manifesting our presence working with residents. We went at ten o’ clock at night put our hands on potential drug addicts who were hanging around and made friends with them. We asked them to form bands and they started to sing Human Value songs. the drug pushers began to see our intention they began to give us threatening calls. Brother Jega said, "Don’t worry Swami is there. But we still brought insurance." See one thing you must have is divine sense the other thing you must also have is common sense. Every time after bhajans we used to chant, "Loka Samastha, Sukhino Bhavanthu" for all those workers who were working in the field, so that they may return back as vertically as they went in.

Suddenly they realised this program was too big, too grand. But then they realised we there are not standing there for election. They saw the power of selflessness, immediately they responded to this call. A Muslim minister who came to this particular function, we saw this, we opened Sai function there with a Muslim prayer and there they are Nashiq (?) people praying for the welfare, the Muslim minister declaring and asking Sathya Sai Organisation not to leave this area, continue this good work because people are seeing the benefit of this. One thousand people came down, wore t-shirts and an anti drug run manifested this will of fight against drugs. They are all painting these value messages, value themes, Muslim children, Christian children, Hindu Children sitting there and painting value messages. Two thousand people wore t-shirts and they did what they call "Nagar Sankeerthanan". We made banners, we influenced by love. This whole two thousand people formed a big chain and this chain was the longest human chain in Malaysia in Guiness book of records. This is the Sathya Sai gang leading the whole congregation and then suddenly rain started to come. But we realised what was the greatest miracle in the hight of the rain not one person moved from that particular place, everybody held their hands.

This deputy prime minister three hundred and fifty miles away was giving an elections speech at 3 o’clock he stops his speech at 4 o’clock, he jumps on his private jet, comes to this function declares this function, gives his speech, folds his hands and says to Sathya Sai Organisation, "Never leave this area, continue to be an asset nation building", jumps on his jet plane, rushes back three hundred and fifty miles to conclude his election speech and if this is not a miracle what else is? At Baba’s 61 st birthday he said, "Do not be like fire crackers, full of sound and noise. Become like fire works, let the colours be seen in the skies above, adopt a village. When you adopt a village you adopt everything."

We were not happy. We looked at the newspaper, we suddenly saw school children declining, people are not attending classes. So we implemented a program called "Star", Student Training in Attitude and Responsibility. In the parliament there is a rule, no non-governmental organisation can ever enter into a school. Finally seven months the Muslim head mistress came under the newspaper and she said it’s only because of Sathya Sai’s Human Value program that my students who have been to fail got grade 1, grade 2 and grade 3, I thank the Sathya Sai Organisation. We now know this program works. Therefore this year and subsequent years, we have asked Sai Centres in Malaysia now to adopt schools but schools of poor students and take these students and change their lives.

I’ll just return back from International Conference in Barcelona. I went from booth to booth to place, United Nations agency, U S agency, and every agency I talked about this. Everyone is talking about what to do when they get HIV. What to do when they get AIDS. I said what do you do before you get AIDS and HIV. Then we talked about this program. They were stunned. I said, "We are small non governmental organisation we only got about 65 million people, that is a record." If we realise this, we find that as an organisation we can respond there regard the Star program, this program like ABC as an anti HIV, anti AIDS program. All these agencies are looking for modules, looking for people, looking for volunteers to make things happen because the world is crying out that there is an epidemic of this nature and the only way to arisen the way to arise is through value regeneration.

Swami said, "Forget mantra, forget yantra, forget seva, forget bhajan, just worship your parents and your life will be redeemed." We implemented a vehicle. Vehicle called Parents Appreciation Vehicle. There were lot of tears. In fact some of our volunteers kept wiping away the tears. For that’s an exaggeration. Anyway, the program became successful. The ministry of family development says, "The Sathya Sai Module is the module, we are willing to support, we are willing to come in any way". First we must regard ourselves as an International Non-Governmental Seva Organisation. We must be prepared to learn from all countries because if every nation start to invent it’s own wheel. We’ll take a long time. So one major paradigm shift we must do. We must learn from everyone else. The resource must be shared. All these manuals can be obtained using this particular email, you can contact this particular email for all these programs we have created a CD, in which all these manuals are available.

Adoration: Developing Nearness And Kinship To God Through Seva -Sri Guillermo Elvira Vallejo

Even though the moon, which has no light of its own, is able to project a great quantity of light to help us by giving much more illumination than all the stars in the sky can do. What is the secret? The secret is that the moon is so near to the source of light, the sun, and also, it is near to us on earth. Swami says that God is much more brilliant than billions of suns. But if we keep ourselves separate from Him, what light can we receive? Adoration is an attitude of Love and surrender to the object of adoration. A subject is doing adoration, an object is being adored: Adoration is what counts.

In 1975 I started my studies in philosophy in the Catholic University of Theology in Valencia. About 24 years old, my mind was so exhausted one day, and I was so full of confusion and pain, that in some way or another I had to finish with everything, but I didn’t know how. I slumped down onto the pavement. There was nobody around. I felt totally defeated, and the only thing I could do was to cry and pray to God. But all of a sudden, a man came around the corner of the street. He came slowly towards me; he cut a very strange figure, dressed in an orange robe with a crown of black hair. What impressed me most was the fact that He was barefooted, and that He had such small and beautiful feet. He was holding the robe with His left hand. He was looking at me in such a sweet way a way, which I never had seen before. When He was close to me He smiled, and this impressed me so much that all other thoughts disappeared in that instant. I lowered my head. But my heart told me to get up and face this extraordinary figure. Now He was not there any more. He had disappeared. I shared this experience with some of my friends, and something in me told me not to worry, and that some day I would see Him again.

So, this demonstrate that: The subject doing the adoration is the individualized, limited, attached, conscious, the mind. The object of adoration is God, the Totality, the All-Pervasive, Infinite Spirit. The attitude of adoration in a spiritual sense is an attitude of the limited consciousness toward the unlimited Infinite Spirit-the Inner Self-, God. So, we must raise this conscious mind upwards all the timeHow can we do it? How to do it? Right conduct, bringing in correct information, do good, see good, hear good, think good all the time. Then we learn to control the mind, bringing peace into ourselves, so there is no anger, no hatred, no envy, no jealousy anymore. The conscious mind is raised automatically towards the Higher Consciousness within ourselves and then we get to know the Truth of the Universe, the Truth about everything, the real Truth, the Truth that does not change.

In the context of Seva, adoration is an attitude of in the context of the limited consciousness towards the inner self as it is recognized in others. Service is an action of love and surrender towards the Inner Self in others. In love and surrender no material reward is asked for only the reward of recognition of the Inner Self in all the awareness of God in all and in the self. Service is performed to exercise the attitude of adoration towards the Inner Self (God) in love and surrender without material reward. We have to do certain activities in order to use time and skill to our best advantage. That is our duty and the duty is God. Balanced people will be active they will not be affected by success or failure, by reward or loss, by pain or by pleasure. The reward of service is the experience of the awareness of God in the self and in all.

Going back to my own story: During the following years, I dropped all religious and spiritual activities although once in a while I read the Bible. The social work was intense and really hectic. Somebody came and asked me : "Have you heard anything about Sathya Sai Baba?" In this desperate moment I said out loud to Sai Baba "If You are what they say You are, why don’t You provide us with a house, money to pay our debts and some kind of transportation? If You help us I will come and thank You personally." to make a long story short, that same day the owner, a lady, gave us the keys and told me not to worry about money. One week later, a lady, who was unknown to us and very much impressed by the work we were doing came to visit us and gave a donation. This covered all our debts. She later gave us some extra money and told us to take a month’s vacation for the three of us to go anywhere we wanted to. A month later the three of us were in Prashanti.

We came to Baba on March of 1994. And here I had the revelation of that strange person who had helped me with His smile in the most desperate moment of my life about 13 years before, and who I had forgotten about during all these years. I have been given also the opportunity to see at first hand how Swami breathes and works through each one of his devotees while they do Seva.

Interaction / Workshop by Zones, Tuesday, July 23, 2002 - Dr. William Harvey

It was repeated many times by many people that before you embark upon service a clear and very thorough needs assessment should be made. So we should use a formula where the concept is that we go from the individual to our family to the Sai Center and then to the community. Some people fall ill, some people are in a state of turmoil, someone may be dying and there are all kinds of service opportunities for us to render to our members right in our centers. These certainly should be addressed, preferably before we go out into the community. This brings in one extremely important objective and that is to – (and Swami tells us this) - enlist and involve the participation of the recipients themselves and particularly those in the community.

We're not going to these projects to advocate and talk about our perspective, our perceptions on Divinity. We're there to render service and we must first see what it is that the individuals think is important for them. We have to behave in a manner that shows that we are practicing what we preach. So if we don't show consideration and respect for the recipients, if we take a 'holier that thou' kind-of attitude, we have a “them” and “us” kind-of orientation, then we're not really practicing what we're trying to preach at all. It's often not good to raise hopes and aspirations. So sustainability should be looked at before we embark on the project. There is some advantage in having even one-shot service opportunities so that individuals, particularly new devotees may just do a specific project to get them to reduce their anxiety, to get them to have a taste of what it means to do service. We have come to a point where service as a Sadhana is beginning to be realized

Spirit of Seva - Sri. Dr. G Venkataraman

At Bhagavan's Lotus Feet. I must first of all apologise for not showing up at the right time. Actually, I was trying to, but sometimes, I don't know whether it is God or man, these things happen. I will be talking about the spirit of service and the inevitability of service that is to say why we cannot escape service even if we try hard to. It is a very old and ancient concept and service implies sacrifice. Sacrifice does not imply pain. It gives inner satisfaction when I sacrifice, I feel happy within myself and when I feel happy within myself I experience bliss. Bliss does not have an opposite- pleasure has an opposite which is pain. So if I sacrifice I elevate myself in a very simple way from the dual to the non dual. It's a very simple trick please try it. I can guarantee success I've experienced it. But you must love sacrifice. When you love sacrifice you love God.

There are many non-governmental organisations- NGO's as they are called, which are very active in service. Let us not underrate them. We also serve. So the question is "Is there any difference between them and us?". We call ourselves spiritual or spiritually inclined and we also serve. So the question is "Should spirituality come first and service next or service come first and spirituality next?". Truly speaking, service defined properly is an aspect of spirituality. Therefore as far as the Organisation is concerned, spirituality is unquestionably the basis or the foundation. And service is the manifestation of spirituality. It is like the superstructure of a building. We don't see the foundation but we see the superstructure. So our Organisation must be visible to the outside world through the service that we render but the basis is spirituality. Therefore, as far as the leaders and office-bearers of the Organisation are concerned this is the order of priorities; spirituality first and service next. However for the "ordinary people" we can change the sequence a little bit. We can say "Start with service, if you like, then, that will lead you to devotion and finally wisdom". In fact this is the sequence in the Bhagavad Gita. In fact that is what SAI is all about Service Adoration Illumination.

Service is very practical, it is very visible. If you go and tell a young fellow "Look that chap is feeling thirsty why don't you give him some water" he will know what he is doing, he will feel some joy. So, for a beginner you start with service, then make him enjoy service and then slowly he will start loving God unknown to himself. Then he is on the road to bliss. You need not worry you catch hold of the next sucker and take him to this path. Sai Ram. Sorry if I sound like a salesman. But do you know this is the very way you have to talk to young people these days in the classroom?

Swami made this extremely clear. He said, "If you do the job for which you are paid properly, conscientiously and you do what is expected of you, then that itself is service." So doing one's job properly as a parent or as an office-worker or as a doctor is itself a service. That means that I should not look at the rewards, I should not look at promotions, I should not look at salaries, I should not look at press reports and things like that. That is what Nishkama Karma, a word which is bandied around, is all about. So let us not imagine service means I must start soup kitchens and all that. I jolly well have to do as Brother Kishin said yesterday. Service starts with doing the right thing for my body, for my family, for my parents. In fact, doing one's normal duty with discipline and devotion can eliminate many of today's problems as I have been mentioning.

Many people think that service is an Eastern concept. Service is neither Eastern, Southern, Northern nor Western. Service is something that comes from the heart. Let us look at Florence Nightingale she was a nurse in the Crimean War. But she became a legend. In fact I mention her name because I am told nurses will be replaced by robots. I shudder to believe this is technology, this is tricknology, as Swami says. I don't want robots. Robots can’t speak a kind word. You go to a hospital and see how the nurses are and how the seva dals are. Now let us take Lord ???? Powell who founded the scout movement- what's the motto of the scouts? We have to serve. And Swami served as a scout. So there are always wonderful people whom God has sent as examples so let us not imagine that service was invented by us or our organisation. And talking of duty to parents, two days ago we all saw the Vittala celebrated here by the people from Maharashtra. The story goes like this; there was a young man who was very devoted to his parents who were very old. God, had to wait for this man to serve his parents. I don't know the name of the British General Sir Phillip Sydney or something like that. He was dying and he asked for a glass of water. A glass of water was brought by an orderly. There was a sailor who was dying who said "Water! Water!". This man said "Give that water to the other man" and he told the soldier "Thy need is greater than mine". That's a fantastic story. Even at the moment of death he is able to serve. So let us not imagine that I can't serve just because I am old. If I am old and I am lying down in bed in a hospital (God forbid) then what we have to do is say "Sai Ram Sai Ram Sai Ram. Loka samasta sukhino bhavantu." That is also service because nobody is praying for peace.

Swami says "You must aspire for liberation" and now He says "Why are you asking for Moksha?" He says it is very selfish to ask for liberation. "You want to be liberated, what about the other people? Go and serve man, go and serve. If you go and serve, God will come looking for you and say "Where are you My dear devotee. Here is liberation- take it! Even if you don't want it!" Now Swami said it with such gusto and power and passion I can't repeat it for you.

The story is of a Russian cobbler named Martin. He hears a voice which says "Martin, tomorrow I shall come to you." At the end of the day Martin is very disappointed. He goes to a picture of Jesus and says "Lord, what happened to your promise. You said You would come, You did not come." He heard a voice that said "Martin I came three times but you did not recognise me." That is a story that Shirdi Baba taught and that is a story that our Swami teaches. What is the message? God comes in innumerable forms and we'd better learn to recognise and see God in others and that is an important aspect of service. This is the message that Swami gave us at the beginning of the Grama Seva and at the end of the Grama Seva. He asked us "Did you see yourself, did you see Swami in all the others?"

They said: "Man is a limb of society, society is a limb of nature and nature is a limb of God." The boys gave an example of a man whose leg was pierced by a thorn and hands came to help. When I serve another person I am really serving me. If we do our service projects like it was described earlier with that spirit then we are distinctly different from all the NGO’s, in fact we are way above. The rest come out of pity. We don't go there out of pity, we go out of compassion and something more, feeling of self. Mr. Chinni Rao who was sent by Swami to Gujarat after the earthquake. He said there were all these many service organisations but they did not know how to do service. They would stop their trucks and throw the relief items such as blankets or food. We were not like that. We went to the villages, we pitched a tent, we made a tent city for them. There are photographs which you can see in the exhibition next to the Book Trust. And I have got a beautiful photograph of a Seva Dal having a boy seated on a chair and combing his hair. Which NGO would do that in a village. So we must serve with the feeling that my fellow human being is my own limb.

Krishna says: "Everything in the universe is linked. There is nothing that is not linked." Except man, all entities are programmed to receive and give automatically. Except man. In the case of inanimate objects this program is what we refer to in science as a law of nature. If the earth goes around the sun we say that's a law of nature. It's a very convenient way of avoiding the word God. With respect to animals and animate objects except man we say instinct. But this is Dharma whether you like it or not. This is what Swami has told us. Man alone has the option to follow Dharma or violate Dharma. No other species or entity in the whole Cosmos has got this. Man alone has this. If we follow the senses we can take it for granted, we can bet that we will violate Dharma. But if we follow the heart then we will follow Dharma. Eco-imbalance cannot be created by the dinosaur or the ant or the elephant or the tiger. None of them can do it because they are not programmed to do it. We alone have the decision power to follow Dharma or violate Dharma and we alone can cause this pollution. And moral degeneration is the worst form of pollution that man alone can do and no one else can do. This is ridiculous and scandalous because man has been created in the image of God. Is this way you respect God? Is this the way you adore God? Is this the way we love God. Is this the way we serve God? Service is man's Dharma and service is a must.

Question: "Man has broken the chain so how do you fix it? How do you repair it?" Answer: Ok that's a good question. Let me see if I can come up with a good answer. The answer is very simple. The repair manual has already been written by Swami. I suggest we all read and go and fix it. That's all. Service is the answer.

Valedictory Session by Sri Indulal Shah

The first quarter century of the next millennium should see the awakening of the Sathya Sai world. It should be the most sacred privilege of every devotee to participate in this unprecedented global mass movement of spiritual reawakening in the world. For this target, we have to cease to be a Sai Organisation, but make it a Sai Movement. Movement means rapid spread of influence of educare and role of values in the human workshop. Many societies are rich in worldly terms, but poor in love and spirituality. There is often moral hunger in such places. Meeting this vital need is also the service.

Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision would become a nightmare. But vision and action can change the entire world. No organization can be successful if it does not have a well thought out frame work of succession. The old order must continuously make way for the new. The elders in Sri Sathya Sai World Organisation must consciously devote their time and energy in grooming Sai youth to take positions of higher responsibility. The elders should progressively transfer organizational responsibility to the Sai youth while assuming an advisory role to guide the progress of organizational activities.

Therefore we, as the leaders of the Sathya Sai Organization, always need to remember this great message of Bhagavan’s which says “There is no mistake in creation. The mistake is only in our vision.” Even today when the revolution has begun, we Sai devotees numbering several millions, belonging to different faiths, cultures, nationalities and scattered all over the globe feel a strong bond of Divine kinship to one another, which we rightly call the Sai Family.

Thy Mission will still be achieved. But the Lord will let us share great bliss of seeing this happen from very close quarter being participants in this great revolution movement of mankind. On behalf of all delegates Bhagavan, I offer our gratefulness and million salutations at Your Lotus Feet. Sai Ram.

Dear delegates. Before I leave, I wish to request you to leave one vice and replace it with one virtue from the Divine Wealth. Sai Ram.

Valedictory Session by Sri C. Srinivasan

In life, to give education to one being is considered an act of great merit, of great kindness, of great illumination. I always remember my late father who used to remember a gentleman who used to educate him till his very last breath. As against this, we have Swami who for four decades has in a formal sense educated tens of thousands of young boys and girls, many of whom who have received the secular and formal form of education sit in positions, sit in places which but for Swami’s grace and kindness, which but for his beneficence and magnificence they never ever would have dreamt of sitting. Apart from the formal, secular form of education that these boys and girls over generations have learned, what they have learned is a new illumination, a new enlightenment, a new attitude, a new perspective of life, an education that stirs your soul, an education that moves your spirit, an education that touches the very core essence of your being. When that touching happens, suddenly, a beautiful dawning happens. This is something that money can never ever buy. This is something that no university, no organization can ever confer.

Bhagawan for seven decades, 70 years of his physical frame, has been holding court, has been holding his classroom in this magnificent class room of the world that we all sit in. Virtually the entire humanity, has at some point of time, has in some manner or the other, learned from His message, learned from His dictums, learned from His life. Civilization hangs in the balance. For what I become, the world of tomorrow will be. Sisters and brothers I am your child. It is to this child that we want to dedicate the future of the Sai Mission. It is to this child who would be the citizen of tomorrow that we want to dedicate the Sri Sathya Sai Primary School. The Sri Sathya Sai Prathamika Patashala.

There is no organization worth its salt in the world today which can address this issue of primary education other than Swami’s Organization. I say this because in you is the devotion to Bhagavan which is the cardinal requirement. Every little town in this world is orating Swami’s name and when such a spread exists as Brother Indulal Shah said, we are no longer an Organization, we are a movement. Our children do not know what it is to be clean. Our children do not know what sanitation is. The Sri Sathya Sai Primary School will be the place where medical awareness will also be brought in. And finally, the Sri Sathya Sai Movement will create from this edifice a movement for generations to come where men and women who will from children take Swami’s message on their lips.

At a micro-level, the Sri Sathya Sai Primary School is not ambitious. It is a two room, one office block, or a four room one office block as the need requires. These are labours of love. What is the difference between work and a labour of love? When this building is created it’s not just work it is a labour of love because the vibrations, the spirit, the love with which these buildings are made, permeate, percolate into the very beings of each and every one of us who sits here. Generations of those children will know with what love, with what kindness these buildings were made. You will live to see that. It would be need-based, it would be on a capacity to run, it will involve villager participation, it will ensure proper community participation. A pilot start of this project will be made in Grama Seva 2002 by the Institute. I am doing this with and without Swami’s permission. As a pilot project we will take up ten schools in Puttaparthi, Bukkapatnam and Kothacheruvu Mandal as a start.

Every time I know, it is said when it hurts it instructs, but unfortunately when it hurts Him it instructs us. This is a paradox. I have seen Him with this physical discomfiture so many times – and every time it baffles me. The moment we have to endure physical pain, we immediately adopt the supine position. We like to sleep. With Swami, He undergoes it. He endures it. He withstands it. He transcends it and He thrives on it. He uses His pain to teach us to live. He makes use of His pain to translate His love to all of us. I have never ever seen anything like this in my life, I am sure none of you have. To this what can I give back? What can my brothers and sisters in the Institute give back? Swami I want to give this Organization a motto and that is “Our heart beats for Sai.” Sai Ram and God bless and finally, our hearts beat for SAI!

Source: http://www.geocities.com/saicenter_us/snl/snl_110502.html
 

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