Sai Baba Sri Sathya Sai Baba

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  Radio Sai Global Harmony
Crossing a New Milestone


SWAMI SAYS THAT EVENTS always happen according to Samayam and Sandarbham, that is, according to the time and the circumstances, including in the life of an Avatar. In the case of our Beloved Bhagavan Baba, He waited for fourteen years after incarnation to announce to the world as to who exactly He was. Eighteen more years had to pass before He granted permission to start a monthly magazine to carry His Message, a periodical now familiar to the devotees all over the globe as "Sanathana Sarathi".

All that Happens is Divinely Ordained

Years rolled by and the world was swept by the communication revolution, thanks to the explosive growth of satellite technology, telecom technology and computers. Devotees, especially from overseas, repeatedly prayed to Swami to permit them to launch radio links, internet links and what not, so that His Golden Voice and Message could be flashed across the globe instantly. As if He was putting into practice His own maxim, Baba invariably smiled when such requests were made but otherwise remained non-committal. And then, when no one was in the least expecting it, Radio Sai Global Harmony burst on the scene with stunning rapidity. It all started rather casually - or so it seemed. But the speed with which events moved subsequently clearly indicates that the outcome was Divinely ordained.

Sometime in September 2001, two distinguished visitors came to Sri Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospital in Bangalore. They were Dr. Noah Samara, CEO, WorldSpace Corporation, and Dr. Michael Nobel, Chairman, Nobel Family Society, and a Member of the Board of Directors of WorldSpace. Dr. Nobel is the great grand nephew of Dr. Alfred Nobel, the founder of Nobel Prize. These two gentlemen were in Bangalore on official work connected with WorldSpace, and having heard about a "dream hospital" they decided that they must see it before leaving Bangalore. When they saw the hospital, they both were stunned - no surprise in that. Immediately, they were seized with the irresistible urge to have Swami's Darshan, and that is how they both found themselves in Puttaparthi; such a trip was not at all in their schedule but nevertheless it happened. Who can deny the play of the "hidden hand"? Dr. Samara and Dr. Nobel were duly blessed with a Divine Interview, in the course of which Dr. Samara offered at the Lotus Feet an entire digital radio channel for broadcasting Swami's Message of Love and Compassion to the entire world.

Satellite Digital Radio Broadcasting

Here it is necessary to say a few words about WorldSpace and its efforts to promote digital radio broadcasting. Dr. Samara hails from Africa but was educated in the West. He noticed that one of the crucial imbalances between the developed and the under-developed countries lay in the ease of access to information. He then reasoned that use of satellites in conjunction with digital radio broadcasting was the answer to the question of providing the common man with the latest news. The use of satellites avoids the huge expenditure associated with setting up massive radio transmitters, and the use of digital broadcasting ensures highest quality, not at all possible with conventionaf broadcasting - no hiss, no radio noise, no interference from other stations, no fading due to weather conditions, etc. And modern technology has made it possible to have a compact receiver with an antenna of the size of one's palm, to directly receive the broadcast signal from the satellite. With such a receiver, one can tune in with great ease even inside a jungle and yet get crystal clear reception.

Dr. Samara quickly followed up on his idea by first setting up the WorldSpace Corporation in America. He then had a satellite launched and positioned over Africa; this satellite called Afristar covers not only the whole of Africa but a sizeable part of Europe as well. After this came the Asiastar which took care of the Asian continent. In fact, Dr. Samara's visit to Bangalore was in connection with promoting WorldSpace operations in India. In 2002, WorldSpace expects to launch its third satellite, the Ameristar, extending coverage to the American continent (Figure in the beginning of the article shows the WorldSpace Coverage Area).

For a couple of weeks after Dr. Samara's trip to Puttaparthi, nothing happened but shortly thereafter a WorldSpace team showed up in Prasanthi Nilayam for follow-up discussions. It was at that stage that I got into the picture. I sat through the first round of talks unable to believe that we would soon be involved in satellite digital broadcasting. Frankly, I had never heard of this technology earlier, much less seen a digital radio. But when the Lord pulls the strings, the puppets have no problem, not too much that is! What happened thereafter is largely a blur for those of us who were involved with this. On the morning of 23rd November, 2001, amidst Bhagavan's 76th Birthday Celebrations, when Bhagavan pressed the button and put Radio Sai on the air, I just could not believe my ears. It took a while for me to realise that the sound heard on the public address system in Sai Kulwant Hall was actually coming from a digital radio specially placed inside the Mandir and tuned to the Asiastar satellite hovering some 23,000 miles above the earth!

Radio Sai Global Harmony

Below Swami pressing the button to launch Sai GLobal Harmony channel

Radio Sai Global Harmony is operated by Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust, Prasanthi Nilayam as a part of its mandate to spread Swami's Message. The broadcast programme is prepared in Prasanthi Nilayam, written onto computer CDs, and then sent to Melbourne in Australia where the satellite uplink station is located. From there, the signals are sent to Asiastar which then re-radiates back to earth. Thus, the programme heard on 23rd morning actually originated in Australia. The moment Swami pressed the button in Prasanthi Nilayam, a signal was flashed to Melbourne and hey presto, Radio Sai was on the air!

Currently, the programming schedule is as follows: During week days, that is Monday to Friday, there is a four-hour package that is looped and repeated six times during a 24-hour period, from 6.30 a.m. one day to 6.30 a.m. on the next. In the four-hour package, the listener can hear two Divine Discourses and some music consisting of vocal Bhajans, instrumental Bhajans, and excerpts from concerts rendered in the Divine Presence. The looping is done for the convenience of people living in different time zones. On weekends, there is a consolidated programme that covers all the programmes of the preceding week or ten days. This way the listeners, who missed some segments earlier in the week, can catch them again in leisure. Efforts are in progress to diversify the programme content with talks, interviews, special programmes, and the like. Mean?while, many technical innovations have also been made. Within less than a month, we are now able to control the programme content in the Melbourne computer directly from Prasanthi Nilayam. In my opinion, this is quite a feat, made possible by the admirable dedication of two of our former students assigned to this work. As one connected with Swami's Institute, I am so happy and proud that all our former students, whether they are in the Hospital, or in the College, or in the Book Trust, or in the Central Trust or in the Planetarium, work so hard just to please Swami.

At present, Radio Sai covers only West Asia. What next? It is said that the appetite grows by what it feeds on. So, having tasted what is now being offered, there is a clamour for immediate extension of Radio Sai service to South Asia and East Asia. After that would have to come the extension of service to Africa and Europe, followed by service to the American continent. We must also find ways of reaching out to countries not covered by the satellites of WorldSpace; we can't leave out the devotees in these countries, can we? Many also want live broadcast - that means when Swami is giving a Discourse, the whole world would hear at that very same instant! All these extensions are technically possible but require much work, technical, administrative and legal. But when Swami wills, who can stop these things from happening?

Some time ago, Swami said during a Discourse that when we sing Bhajans, the subtle sound vibrations thus generated spread throughout the world and indeed the universe; not only that, they get absorbed and become latent in all material objects present in the universe. Bhagavan added that if we sing Bhajans with true love for God, these subtle vibrations can in fact cleanse the world and promote peace as well as harmony. If our voices could do that, how much more can the Divine Voice do, especially when it is physically pervading the whole world via radio waves! Just imagine, this very moment, Swami's voice can be heard in every strife-torn part of Asia! Soon it will do so throughout the world. Can there then be any doubt that Peace WILL prevail?

Source: Sanathana Sarathi, January 2002

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