Messengers of Sathya Sai
the distance, beyond the lotus-topped building of the Sri Sathya
Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Anantapur Campus, is the Lion
Hill, which, in certain seasons, looks purple and majestic against
a crimson-red sky. One would think it was an ideal, sylvan setting
for a College for women who, in the future, would bring forth into
the world lion-hearted men and women – men and women that would
restore to Bharat its lost glory.
But, where did it
all begin? Where was this dream born? It took shape in the heart
of one of the noblest women of our time, one who, no matter how
rural her background, had the courage
to visualize a brave new world. Mother Easwaramma imparted her
dream to her Divine Son, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. She wanted
that the women of this country, generally regarded as weak and
helpless, be fully empowered, and provided with the tools of
education so that the dying roots of traditional values may be
revived with the mastery of Character and Culture. As the women,
so the families; as the families, as Manu says, so the societies;
as the societies, so the nations; and as the nations, so the
It is a significant
fact of history that among the educational institutions started by
Bhagawan, the first was the Sri Sathya Sai Arts & Science College
(for women) at Anantapur, in 1968. The building (that houses the
present women’s campus of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher
Learning) was built in a record time of ten months! No wonder,
therefore, that Dr. Bhagavantham wrote, “The College at Anantapur
is a concrete manifestation of something
superhuman….If you want to see Divinity in action, you can find
concrete evidence at Anantapur!”
Inaugurated on 8th
July, 1971, the building is an architectural archetype of all Sai
Institutions. It is circular in shape, symbolising the fulfilment
of the search for God. As Sri Kasturi wrote, it looks “like a
prayer rising up from the heart, a poem of praise for the Giver of
all Good.” The then Minister of Education said, on the occasion,
“When Baba establishes a college for women we may be certain that
it will not be just one among many. It will be a beacon, a lesson
for others, a model, a pioneer.” And, what did Beloved Bhagawan
have to say? Bhagawan Baba concluded His Divine Discourse with a
powerful, prophetic statement, “The seed has been planted; it will
sprout and spread, heavy with fruits, providing shade, security
and sustenance to all.” Little did anyone know, or dream, that one
day, on the strength of the achievements of this Women’s College,
the UGC would consider Deemed University status for the Sri Sathya
Institute of Higher Learning!
The College began
with a modest figure of 125 students on 22nd July, 1968. Slowly,
the strength increased, and a permanent building to house the
growing educational project was opened on 8th July, 1971. It
consisted of lecture halls, laboratories, a spacious auditorium,
and a well-equipped library. The student strength in 1971 was 350.
The first Master’s Degree Course was introduced in 1972 in Telugu
Language and Literature. The Bachelor’s Degree Course in Commerce
and Home Science came in 1975 and 1976, respectively. From 350 in
1971, the student strength increased to a remarkable 1250 in 1981
– the year in which, with the benign grace of Bhagawan, this
College, along with its counterparts in Prashanthi Nilayam and
Brindavan, became part of the deemed university, Sri Sathya Sai
Institute of Higher Learning. A Master’s Degree Course in English
Language and Literature in 1982, a P.G. Course in Home Science in
1985, and a Bachelor’s Degree Course in 1986, a Computer
Laboratory and a Plant Biotechnology Laboratory in the year 2000
complete the picture of the academic growth of the Women’s Campus.
22nd November, 1981, while announcing the inauguration of the
University, Bhagawan, in His address to the students, declared,
“Remember that all those whom we are accepting now as leaders,
whom we respect as holding positions of authority, whom we worship
as elders, were, some years’ ago, students like yourselves.
Therefore, you, in your turn, will be the leaders, power-wielders
and elders of tomorrow. Do not forget this destiny of yours….Along
with subjects related to worldly knowledge, this University will
impart instruction in ethical, moral and spiritual codes and
sadhanas. It has, as its goal, the cultivation of the students’
minds on these lines. Virtues, purity of the mind, adherence to
truth, dedication to the Supreme, discipline, devotion to duty –
these qualities will be fostered and promoted in this University.
Such seats of learning were established in ancient times by the
sages and seers of India and, as a result of their
self-sacrificing efforts, they have left for posterity the
priceless heritage of Bharatiya culture.”
One of the truly
remarkable features of the Sri Sathya Sai System of Value-based
Education is that Bhagawan, the Great Divine Teacher, has
envisioned a process of continuing transformation for His students.
Education in Bhagawan’s Institutions does not finish with the
acquisition of academic degrees. The values of love and service
imparted to the students during their period of study have to,
necessarily, be carried forward into society, and, from thence, to
the world. The ends of education at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute
of Higher Learning are Spiritual Upliftment, Self-discovery and
The educated receive
many benefits from society, and they must return the favours
received by working for the welfare of society. This is Sangha
Neethi, says Bhagawan. If our education becomes devoid of basic
human impulses such as kindness and sacrifice, modern children may
grow with selfish traits and minds, indifferent to the sufferings
of others. The ideal of EACH FOR ALL, and ALL FOR EACH may be
replaced by EACH MAN FOR HIMSELF! Not only are the students of Sai
Institutions trained in academic disciplines, they are also given
exposure to the concept of self-help and service through the
Self-reliance Programmes, and the Village Service Programmes
organised during the Dassera break.
At Anantapur, right
from the inception of the Sri Sathya Sai Arts & Science College (for
women), Bhagawan’s instructions were that the girls should be
taught all the household arts and skills, along with academic
studies, since His idea was to uplift the status of women without
jeopardising the social fabric of traditional Indian society.
Therefore, the girl-students had to sweep their rooms themselves,
cut vegetables, roll chapattis/puris, clean the campus
surroundings on Sundays, manage the dispensary, oversee the
water-supply, weed the gardens, etc. Apart from all this, they
were trained to take literacy classes for the adult workers on the
campus, and Bal Vikas classes for the children of the workers.
Though this routine may sound strenuous, regimental and demanding,
since alongside these variegated activities, the girls had also to
study for examinations at the end of each year, Bhagawan was very
firm about the details of this discipline being meticulously
observed, as the girl-students of those early years will testify.
that the College emphasise on the cultivation of physical health
and mental equanimity, as well as scholarship and proficiency. As
a result, Indra Devi, from Mexico, was invited to teach Yoga to
the girls! Even today, in the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher
Learning, every student, boy or girl, is supposed to know the
basic yogasanas for his/her mental and physical well-being.
Bhagawan’s visits to
Anantapur, in those early days, were Gifts of Grace. He would
advice the students about the need for women to be ideals to
society. He shared with them His vision of a resurgent India in
which women, no longer ‘abalas’ or weak, were endowed with the
moral strength to create a cultural revolution.
During one of
Bhagawan’s visits to Anantapur in 1968, He told the girls that,
being the upholders and protectors of Culture, women had to be
educated in a different way than men. It was the duty of the
elders, Bhagawan suggested, to see that the girl-students do not
leave the institution without securing the ‘priceless treasure
left by the sages of the past.’ A Women’s College, He said, ‘has
the added responsibility to practise and preserve the essential
values of Bharatiya Samskrithi.’ Thus, under Bhagawan’s Divine
Guidance, an ‘Indian Culture’ Class was introduced - to be held
every Thursday - to impart lessons on culture.
Blessed was it in
that dawn to be alive, to be young was very heaven. Bhagawan’s
Divine Plan for the redemption of humanity charged every student
with a sense of ‘mission.’ Though not the recipients of Bhagawan’s
proximity with equal measure as the boys, the girls hoped to
participate in the unfoldment of Bhagawan’s Plan, if not by doing
Great Things, then by doing Small Things in a Great Way.
It is against the
purity and simplicity of this background that one needs to
understand, and appreciate, the eventual formation of the women’s
In November, 1980, a
year prior to the formation of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of
Higher Learning, after Bhagawan’s Birthday, the ex-students sat in
a group for darshan, resolved to plead and pray to Bhagawan that
He should form an old students’ association for the girls, too! (Bhagawan
had already started “Kingdom of Sathya Sai” for the boys. They had
had their opening-day ceremony on 22 November that year.)
the girls sat silently together, next to the Mandir, one could
sense their anxiety – it was almost palpable. Some had tears
rolling down their cheeks, a fear having gripped them that maybe
Bhagawan would leave them – the ladies – out of His mission. The
routine of sitting and waiting, and, when Bhagawan came for
darshan, calling Him out in One Voice to heed their prayer, went
on for a couple of days. Finally, on the 26th morning, when
Bhagawan came out for darshan, He walked straight to the
ex-students seated next to the Principal and the Warden of the Sri
Sathya Sai Arts & Science College , Anantapur, and said that He
had discussed the matter with Sri Indulal Shah. It was decided to
name the Girls’ Alumni Association “Kingdom of Mother Sai.” The
girls heaved a sigh of relief, and tears of joy filled their eyes!
They gave their names for enrolment into this Association to the
office clerk-in-charge, and left for their hometowns.
The formal structure
of this “Kingdom of Mother Sai” had not been given by Bhagawan,
but the ‘naming’ was itself a big step, they thought, and left
their addresses and telephone numbers in the office register.
After a lull of 5 months, in May, 1981, the final fulfilment came.
at Anantapur was preparing for Bhagawan’s visit – always an
all-night, all-day affair – when around 10 pm, the night before,
came a message from Bhagawan that when He comes the next day – 2nd
May – He would formally inaugurate “Kingdom of Mother Sai.” A few
of the ex-students who were working as teachers in the College,
and some who were pursuing their higher studies in the nearby
autonomous Post-graduate Centre and residing, with Bhagawan’s
permission, in the College Hostel, were summoned by the Principal
to the Auditorium where preparations were going on for Bhagawan’s
visit the following day.
commenced. The old girls collected the list of the students, who
had given their names for membership, from the office. Working
through the night, they got ready a banner, and a scroll,
including all the names, and waited with bated breath for
received in a ceremonious fashion, and led to the Auditorium. When
Bhagawan was seated, a prayer was sung and the proceedings began.
As coincidence would have it, Ms. K. P. Saileela and Ms. Shobana
Nair offered the garland, and stood next to Bhagawan for the
Lighting of the Lamp. Ms. Rajeshwari Patel spoke on the occasion.
She thanked Bhagawan for accepting the role of the Inner Sovereign
(‘King’dom of Mother Sai), and giving the girls an opportunity to
participate and serve in Bhagawan’s mission.
Bhagawan asked the
Principal to bring the old girls to Puttaparthi the following
Sunday when, He promised, He would form the Executive Council of
“Kingdom of Mother Sai.” True to His Divine Word, Bhagawan
summoned all the old girls into the Interview Room on Sunday. The
Principal read all the names out aloud. Each girl, as her name
was called, got up, did pranams to Bhagawan, and sat down.
Subsequently, He appointed Ms. K. P. Saileela as President, Ms.
Shobana Nair as Vice-President, and Ms. Rajeshwari Patel as
Secretary of the “Kingdom of Mother Sai.”
In the beginning,
since the numbers were small, around 150 or so, and the largest
single group of old girls were at Anantapur, the members centred
their activities in and around Anantapur, and the villages on its
outskirts. A variety of service programmes were taken up.
Beginning with visits to the Govt. General Hospital and
T.B.Hospital in the town, and an Adult Literacy Project, the girls
took up road and gutter laying work in the village of Upparapalli,
conducted Bal Vikas classes there, culminating with a skit (using
the boys of the village in different roles) based on Bhagawan’s
Cheppinatlu Chestara? at the end of a week-long service camp. They
spent their summer break in the task of building mud-brick houses
Taking advice and
medical assistance from the concerned government bodies, they also
undertook sanitation work in many villages on the outskirts of
Anantapur town, disinfecting wells, spraying pesticides in
pest-ridden houses, getting wells dug, and, making door-to-door
calls, generally instilling in the village folk the need to
maintain health and hygiene through simple and easy-to-follow
instructions about diet and a clean lifestyle.
medical camps and eye-camps were organized at Prashanthi Nilayam
in which hundreds of
people from the rural areas were given free treatment. After the
eye operations, post-operative requirements such as dark glasses
were provided free of cost. A camp for the physically handicapped
was organised in which a few hundred persons were examined by
specialists, and furnished with artificial limbs on a suitable
day. (After the setting up of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of
Higher Medical Sciences, the venue of the medical camps was
shifted to other towns and cities.)
On the occasion of
the 60th Birthday of Beloved Bhagawan, the girls built smokeless
‘chulhas’ for all the 60 houses in Subbamma Nagar, Puttaparthi.
They organised two mass marriages programmes in the Divine Presence
of Bhagawan at Prashanthi Nilayam.
The expenses for all
these activities were borne entirely by the members, and at no
time were donations accepted. In the initial stages of the growth
of “Kingdom of Mother Sai,” Bhagawan had, when asked, affirmed
that when Good Work is taken up, money will automatically follow.
He advised the Executive Council not to have any anxiety on this
count, and laid down clear guidelines for the execution of service
work. From 1981, till today, the “Kingdom of Mother Sai” has been
self-reliant in its financial resources that are generated through
the voluntary contributions of its members.
With the number of
members increasing, it became possible for them to take up service
activities in their own hometowns – which is what Bhagawan has
always emphasised: Charity should begin at home. As there were
bigger groups of students in various towns and cities of India,
they could plan service projects that require more volunteers.
After a few years as
“Kingdom of Mother Sai,” Bhagawan changed the name of the
Association to “Messengers of Sathya Sai” since it was felt that
the word “Kingdom” might create some misconceptions – though
Bhagawan still continues to fondly refer to its previous name in
“Messengers of Sathya Sai” has an official count of 2500
registered members. Since only those who have completed their
course of study in the Institute, and have had full exposure to
the philosophy and teachings of Bhagawan, are eligible, it is
important to note that there are many more old students than are
members of “Messengers of Sathya Sai.” The members are spread over
all the states of India, except Jammu and Kashmir. The highest
number of members is from Andhra Pradesh, with Tamil Nadu a close
second, and Karnataka in the third place. Among overseas countries,
United States of America has the highest number of members, with
Nepal, England and Canada vying for second place.
At the end of the
year, every member is expected to give a report of the service
activities undertaken by her in the course of 12 months. A
consolidated report of the outstanding work undertaken is
presented before Beloved Bhagawan on the 25th of December every
year, when the Messengers gather at the Divine Lotus Feet of the
Lord for the Annual day celebrations.
It is next to
impossible to give an exhaustive report of the service work being
done today by the Messengers of Sathya Sai, but, needless to say,
they are all inspired by the spirit of “Help Ever, Hurt Never.” A
catalogue of the regular service being done would be difficult to
The old girls do
Security Duty in rotation throughout the year, wherever Bhagawan
is, at Prashanthi Nilayam or Brindavan. Braille typing of books on
Bhagawan has been going at the Anantapur Campus of the Institute
for several years now.
Apart from the
organization of Medical Camps (at various places like Cuddapah,
Guntur, Bangalore, etc.), Narayan Seva, EHV programmes, Free
Tuitions for the economically underprivileged, and visits to
Cancer Wards, Homes for the Retarded and Physically Handicapped,
Leprosy Centres, Schools for the Blind, Old Age Homes and
Orphanages, the Messengers contributed money and materials to
victims of natural calamities such as the Orissa Cyclone and the
Gujarat Earthquake, and to the National Defence Fund during the
Kargil War. Besides participation in Environment Protection and
Afforestation programmes, the Messengers in Uttar Pradesh are
involved with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Many of the Messengers in different parts of the country are
sponsoring the education of school-going children from backward
areas. They have initiated Balvikas classes in tribal areas, too!
The Messengers at Hyderabad runs an adult education programme for
the poor, and vocational training for underprivileged teenagers.
The members at Chennai organise monthly medical camps – general,
dental and acupuncture – at a fishermen’s village, Chinnaadi
Overseas actively participate in Sai Centre activities. In USA,
Kuwait, Singapore, Israel, England and Canada, the girls have
taken up the Education in Human Values programme at various
centres to spread the Swami’s teaching on Educare. The members in
different countries help the victims of natural disasters,
contribute to and volunteer at Rehabilitation Centres, Cancer
Hospitals and Nursing Homes for Senior Citizens. In some countries
like the Philippines and Australia, they assist in organising/or
volunteer at Medical Camps.
Having been the
special recipients of the Divine Grace and Love of Bhagawan, the
Messengers believe they have the responsibility of sharing this
grace and love with fellow brethren. The service activities they
do may be big or small, as per their strength and resources, but
they must never cease in this noble task: SERVICE TO HUMANITY is
SERVICE TO GOD.
The “Messengers of
Sathya Sai” undertake all service-oriented activities as a humble
and loving offering at the Divine Lotus Feet of Beloved Bhagawan,
in gratitude to the Lord for all that He has given them, and
taught them – a definitive spiritual goal, a noble path, and the
loving way of walking it.
The Declaration at
the bottom of the application form to “Messengers of Sathya Sai,”
which every student seeking membership has to sign, sums up the
solemnly pledge to strive incessantly all my life for upholding
the highest ideals of moral and spiritual living that I had the
privilege of imbibing during the course of my study at Sri Sathya
Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Anantapur.
to the institution, and ever in prayerful devotion to its Founder,
our Lord, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, I offer myself in total
dedication at His Lotus Feet for the Service of Humanity.”
Sai E-Magazine 15th Mat 2004