Loving Hand Turns Burning
Sand To Water
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being is a part of the whole,
by us `Universe-, a part limited
and space. He experiences
his thoughts and feelings as
something separated from the rest- a
optical delusion of his
consciousness. This delusion is a kind
prison, restricting us to our
personal desires and to affection for a
persons nearest to us. Our task
to free ourselves from this prison
widening our circle of compassion to
all living creatures and the
of nature in its beauty.
This details a recently given discourse in Geneva by Ryuko Hira on the
SATHYA SAI DIVINE GRACE WATER PROJECT, on June 10, 1995
R. Hira Speaks:
Sisters and Brothers!
In the preparation for Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's 70th birthday I
been given much work and little time. That's Baba's way!
The lesson from
this is that "in other's welfare lies our gain". The title of
project, the Sathya Sai Divine Grace Water Project, was given by a
from Thailand who has written poems on Baba in Thai and in English.
is one example:
"Sai Baba has set the norm
For worship at its highest form.
To remove the misery of others
And to treat all beings as brothers."
Water for 700 villages
The area called Rayalaseema, in which Puttaparthi is located, lies in
State of Andhra Pradesh. Although this area is the birthplace of
Sathya Sai Baba Himself, it has year after year been stricken by
with continuous serious shortages of water. This scarcity has
unbearable suffering to many people who are our sisters and brothers
living there. With their children they walk barefooted in the
hot sun, an
average of 4.6 km every day, carrying heavy pots of water on their
There is also a high arsenic content in the wells due to contamination
from the soil, and this has produced serious lesions on the feet and
of the people. The Central Government of India and the State
have been trying their best to alleviate this water shortage, which
affects not only India but other countries also in Asia. The United
Nations has said that water will be the world's most critical resource
the year 2000. Recently the Far Eastern Economic Review had a
article on water shortage.
Baba has come for the whole universe but He will answer first those
pray sincerely. To remove the suffering and the sickness of
He announced on 23 November 1994 that within one year He will supply
potable drinking-water to 700 villages with a total population of
1.3 million (500-3000 in each village). On 23 November 1995 we
celebrate Baba's 70th birthday and all these 700 villages, because of
Divine Will, will receive water. There are many more needy
which, hopefully, the Sai Organisation will be encouraged to take up
second and third phase.
*A chance to serve*
We refer to ourselves as the Sai family and we say we love Baba
as our mother and father. As He is feeling the pain and
suffering of the people in the villages, we cannot say they are
suffering alone. Baba's heart is with the poor and with the
needy. His heart is with the people who are thirsty wherever they
are. If we accept Him as our mother and father we are part of the
family. We cannot be selfish in our relationship with Baba.
have to make a choice in this 70th year: are we really a Sai
family or do we only name ourselves as Sai family? Repeatedly
Baba says, "I and We are one, You and I are one". This is a
chance He has given to us--- to become a part of His mission. On
25th February this year, shortly before Mahashivarathri, large
crowds were sitting waiting for Baba's darshan but He did not
appear. What was He doing? He was talking about the great
spiritual significance of this water project to 600 students in
the Poornachandra Hall, which I shall summarize below. And He
came out for darshan at 8 o'clock instead of 6:45!
There are five methods by which water could be supplied. (1) To
wells in the dry river beds. (2) To establish canals from the
irrigation canals. (3) To construct summer storage reservoirs (to
evaporation of the water due to the intense heat). (4) To sink
wherever there is a resource of water in the ground itself. (5)
provide overhead storage tanks with capacities of about 150,000 litres
The total cost of this project is estimated at US$ 70 million,
approximately twice the budget we had for constructing the hospital,
about $ 100,000 per village. These estimates include the cost of
of water availability and quality, supplies and equipment, the boring
drilling, the pump installations, and so forth. Baba's projects
holy and sacred that every person involved ---whether non-devotee or
devotee--- does the best possible. Some 2000 km of the main
now being installed using appropriate materials. When Baba does
it is permanent and the pipes will ---like the hospital--- last a
years. This seva we are undertaking will live beyond our
Thus, Baba has given us a chance in this body to gain the merit of a
Why has Baba undertaken this project in this 70th birthday year?
its spiritual significance? What is the gift we can give Him for
birthday? What does He want from us? Among the answers are
that He wants
our love and devotion, or wants us to be good, but I should like to
mention a rather special answer, which arises from the following
posed by Baba.
(1) Who rules the universe? The answer usually is God, the
Bhagavan Himself. (2) Who rules God? God is ruled by Truth.
rules Truth? Baba said the noble souls rule Truth. The
only gift Baba
wants is that we should become noble. We should become noble and
happy. The spiritual significance of this water programme is
through this process, He has given us a chance in this 70th birthday
to make ourselves noble and happy.
In His talk to the students Baba said that two-thirds of our
planet is water, which is the life source. One can manage to
live without food but not without water. Water is the symbol of
purity. And as purity is divinity, water is God. But why is
water the symbol of purity? Baba gave three explanations.
(1) Water originates in the form of God from the head of
Shiva, as the Ganges river, which is symbolic to the Indians.
(2) What is the role of the ocean? It is to clean the
universe. Through the evaporation process we have rain which
cleans every plant, every road and everything else that has to
(3) Now who cleans the ocean? It is the duty of the fish to
purify the ocean. The very strong odour in fish is related to
all the dirt they have collected. So, water is a purifier and
its job is to purify. Purity is Divinity, water is God!
In a letter to a student, which was published in the book called
Premadhara, Baba asks, "How will you know that I am near to you?"
answer is, "When your mouth is parched and you can hardly speak, in
first sip of cool water you take I am soothing you. So, think of Me
am the water." In the Gita, Lord Krishna has said, "I am the
This precious water is often wasted. If one drop of water leaks
second from a tap, in one day this amounts to 50 gallons (227 litres)
water lost. Washing the car with a hose wastes a lot of water,
so use a
bucket. In toilet flushes in our homes much water is being used up.
washing dishes or brushing our teeth the water is allowed to run.
is sacred. To give water is to give God. God is Love. To give
Love is to
give water. The service of giving water is the highest form of
In religious ceremonies, e.g., Christian baptism, water represents a
spiritual element. The significance of this particular seva is
recognise God in man, seeing the oneness in all humanity. Baba
up this project in order to raise every devotee who participates,
Advaita or non- dualism, to see the oneness as we cross national or
geographical borders. For example, when offering your heart to
thirsty people--- whether in China or in India, you are crossing
Swiss and other frontiers to serve the one "caste" of humanity.
sharing the pain and by lightening the burden of those who suffer in
famines, earthquakes and other calamities, we should not think that we
helping God because there is nothing that man can do for God. We
practising what Baba has said, thereby helping ourselves to become
We all know that, by Baba's Will, simply raising His hand He could
hundred rivers of water to flow. But the Master of nature
follows the law
of Truth, the law of nature. Therefore this is Baba's leela
and we must not be deceived by the illusion. This is not a
which any money has to be raised. It is the consciousness that
has to be
*How can I serve?*
How can _I_ serve in this project? There are five ways.
(1) The seva of prayer. One day Baba was in His car and,
pointing to a
beggar, He told the person seated next to Him, "Yes, it is good to
money to a beggar, but it will last only a day. The prayer you
change the life of that person. The prayer will reach God and it will
bring a transformation of that person." We say a prayer before
but for 30 seconds in this particular year of the 70th birthday---
you drink any fluids--- you must think of the pain, the suffering and
problems of the people who have nothing, not even a glass of water.
(2) The seva of the intellect. Architects, engineers,
geologists, and others engaged in water supply and related
fields, who can and want to help, are welcome to speak to their
[local Sai Seva] Coordinators.
(3) Physical labour by volunteers was planned originally, as
was the case during construction of the hospital, but there are
major problems. For example, the villages are scattered in the
interior of the State with no proper living accommodation and
other facilities. Moreover, for each foreign devotee we would
require two Indians to help him! For your information, 13,000
people are now working two shifts a day to finish this project
in time. One truck load can carry only two pipes, so you can
imagine how great a task it is to lay down 2000 km.
(4) Supply of materials such as pumps, pipes, tanks and other
construction materials. Please note that all the materials must
meet the required local specifications.
(5) Monetary resources. You already know that Bhagavan
the Central Trust and the Sathya Sai Organisation never solicit
any donations. This project is not open for donations, it is open
for sadhana. It is open for sacrifice, to take us to nobler
heights. If God was for sale, people would try to "buy" Him.
We receive everything from God totally free and it is our duty,
it is our Dharma to volunteer and participate wholeheartedly in
every seva project that Baba announces.
As active members in the Sai family we must open our eyes and raise
consciousness to become a part of Baba's mission. This project
for earnest, wholehearted people who want to do seva. Baba says,
is My message". But what is the message in this 70th birthday
are different views and interpretations of His message, but to me the
birthday and the divine water project can mean only one thing, which
has repeated in every discourse this year: sacrifice, sacrifice,
sacrifice! When Baba said, "Expansion is My life", what did He
expansion? You must expand your heart. Do not restrict it to
or house, your centre or your region. Baba is universal. We are
His family, so we are universal.
*In the service of God*
Recently in China I was asked, "Why should the Chinese Sai
donate money for water in India?" I should therefore like to clear any
doubts some of you may have. When God created the universe He did not
any country, nor did He draw any boundary lines---you are in China and
am in England. It is one universe! It is one humanity!
Since Baba is the
Avatar, He knows which particular region of this universe needs
help, which needs intermediate help, and which needs secondary help.
cannot determine the actions of the Avatar. We can only follow. So if
decides that He is going to serve a particular district in China,
or India, those who are in the Sai family must join with Him all the
through. This is expansion of my life, expansion of my
realise that the whole of humanity is one. The seva that Baba is
comes first and must be given top priority. His projects are
to participate in them is the purest seva.
In Puttaparthi, on the Vidyagiri hill there are five statues of the
Masters---Lord Krishna, Lord Christ, Lord Buddha, Zoroaster and Lord
Shiva. But above them is a huge statue of Hanuman. Why is this
Hanuman bigger than Shiva? Why is it higher? There is
in whatever Baba does. Hanuman is the symbol of courage and devotion.
was a servant of Lord Rama, but reached the divine heights by serving.
This is what Lord Hanuman has taught us. When you serve God in
servant becomes God. Baba has given us a chance in this 70th
year to follow the quickest way from being a servant, or a devotee, to
to that higher level like Hanuman.
This project is a mammoth task. If you think it is impossible,
become impossible. The first thing therefore is to think that it
possible and we are going to do it. Why? Shortly before
Lord Rama was to
be crowned as king, he was ordered to leave the palace and go into
for 14 years in the forest. His mother Kausalya, his wife Sita,
younger brother Lakshmana all wanted to go with him to the forest. The
citizens of Ayodhya, the capital of his kingdom, also walked all the
to the boundary of the forest to take leave of him. Even the
the monkeys under Hanuman supported him. Why was everybody
Because Rama's mission was Dharma.
When our mission is to serve the Avatar to serve humanity, this is
and nothing will stand in our way. We may have no resources with us,
financial resources or technical resources, but the greatest resource
have is our own will coinciding with the Divine Will. If we have that
will, all the resources will follow. Baba says in all His
Dharma protects Dharma. If we keep this in mind and follow the
Dharma, nothing will come in our way.
*Ceiling on desires*
How do we raise the money? This is possible through the practice
ceiling on desires (COD), while always keeping in mind that this whole
project is an exercise in sadhana to help make us "noble". The
discipline of COD teaches us to limit our personal desires, starting
simple daily needs like several cups of coffee or tea, soft drinks,
cigarettes, alcohol, snacks, cosmetics, etc. Another example is
my birthday or wedding anniversary, I feel I should buy new shoes or
clothes. But at what cost, the suffering of the people who have
Unless our consciousness has expanded through the COD programme, we
not know the true benefits. So we must constantly be aware of
practise ceiling on desires. Phyllis Krystal and others have described
very well how to implement this programme. These texts could be
translated and discussed widely to facilitate implementation.
The actual amount of money saved is secondary. If one person practices
as an expression of his or her love for Baba and for all humanity, he
she might save 2 or 3 dollars in a day. From 1st June to 22nd
we have about 170 days, so the savings can amount to a few hundred
dollars. When several people are involved in the COD programme,
pool of money can be realised to support the project. What is
is to participate wholeheartedly in this sadhana.
In the Sanathana Sarathi (February 1995) is described a story about a
in Baba's school in Puttaparthi who practised ceiling on desires. A
years ago when the Super Specialty hospital was being built, Baba was
busy with the doctors and architects, and He had very little time for
students who felt deeply this separation from their Sai mother. One of
these students one day offered Baba a letter which He took. Baba
returned to the interview room with the doctors. Normally He
come out for an hour or so, but on this occasion He came out after a
minutes with the letter still in His hand. He called the boy to
with his permission, read out the letter to all who were in the
`You have given so much to me and to everyone
here. You have
provided free education for me and all my
brothers, and now I
hear that you are constructing a BIG
Hospital that will provide
the most modern health care facilities to
every section of the
society totally free of cost.
Bhagavan! I also want to be a
part of your glorious mission but I am just
a small boy and I
don't know how I can contribute. My
parents are extremely poor
but, in spite of that, they send me a
little extra pocket money
every month. I know it's due to their
love and concern for me.
`Bhagavan! For the last three months I have
not given my clothes
to the dhobi (washerman). While all
the other boys were sleeping
in the night I washed my clothes and thus I
managed to save a
little money. I have also resisted
the temptation of toffees,
chocolates and all other things and thus
managed to save a little
money. Bhagavan! I offer this
100-rupee note to you. I feel
ashamed and small to give you so little,
but even if this money
can be used to buy a small brick for the
foundation of the new
hospital, I will be the happiest child in
Your loving Son'
Baba said that these 100 rupees are worth millions of rupees to Him
because that "brick" is not made of mud, but of love and sacrifice and
given with a pure heart. This is what He wants from us all!
Sisters and Brothers, Baba will never ask you to do something.
We have to
open ourselves to see what we can do. Look at His example---
bucket of water for His bath, or putting on and off the lights each
He enters or leaves the interview room, thereby saving energy.
want to benefit, if you want to be noble, if you want to walk hand in
with Baba, He has shown us how to do it. If you arrive in the
minute after the train has left, you have missed it. November
22nd is the
last day for 700 villages to celebrate this Divine Grace Water
Those of you who would like to join must take steps and establish a
Coordinator in each centre and see what kind of seva you would like to
This project is extremely urgent and demands top priority. Sai
------- End of Transcription-----------------------------
Please note than the number of villages, which was
initially 700, has been revised upwards to 900, as confirmed directly
by Justice Bhagawati.
The talk by Ryuko Hira was given in the context of a
two day meeting; the idea to celebrate it came from Indulal Shah and
Justice Bhagwati and was approved by Swami, who sent a special message
for the occasion; other speakers were the above mentioned, Art Om
Jumsai and a few more. [We are transcribing the interventions].
Shah explicitly told the transcribing devotee to give an account of
what was said `to those who could not attend.' Thus this discourse
comes to you as Sai Seva through the grace of that transcriber, Ester
DelaFuente, to whom I offer grateful pranams.
Whatever a fine person does, so will others do; people effect
-Bhagavad Gita 3:21
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