Grama Seva - Experience Sharing
By Swami Students
the Sri Sathya Sai International Seva Conference
Seva Adoration Illumination
July 21 - 23, 2002 Prasanthi Nilayam
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
Inaugural Session -2 - Sri. Kishin
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
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
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
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.
proceedings of the Sri Sathya Sai International Seva Conference
Seva Adoration Illumination from July 21 - 23, 2002 at Prasanthi
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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!