Grama Seva 2014 - Thursday, 5th October 2014

The day began at 0500 with 21 Omkars and Suprabhatam. Being Sunday, the daily morning prayers were based on the Universal Prayer in the form of Vedam. As this was our final day at the divine lotus feet, Puppet Sir spent the morning session reflecting on the immense grace that Swami had showered upon us. We looked back all the wonderful experiences from Gram Seva to Veda Purusha Saptha Jnana Yagna to Prashanti Vidwan Maha Sabha. In addition, there were the various esteemed speakers who had taken their time to address us and the opportunities to offer Vedam and group songs in the immediate Divine presence in Sai Kulwant Hall. Puppet Sir also reflected on the unique work that Heart Valve Bank had been blessed by Bhagawan to carry out for the last 11 years, starting with supplying heart valves to Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Medical Sciences to later extending activities to the General Hospitals, the establishment of the hospital in Pothapalli and most recently extending into the area of cancer care with the involvement in supporting Virat Hospice in providing care to terminally ill patients, along with many other projects. Swami once again demonstrated his omnipresence through the thought for the day, saying, “If your real interest is in me, then your life will manifest it”, which perfectly reflects the story of Heart Valve Bank.
Sri Sathya Sai Institude of Medical Sciences - Whitefield, Bangalore

Pothapalli Hospital

Read about this and more projects that HeartValveBank are involved in on the website:

Following our final morning session, we made our way to Mahasamadhi Mandir for the last time for morning bhajans.

At the conclusion of aarti, we made our way back to our mandir room for our final visiting speaker, Professor Sudhir Bhaskar, Principle of the Prashanti Nilayam Campus of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, who, as part of his role, is also at the heart of the Gram Seva activities and is someone with whom we have always worked very closely with in that respect. Professor Sudhir Bhaskar spoke to us at length about the deeper significance of Gram Seva as explained to him by Swami himself and narrated some of his own experiences of Gram Seva over the years. He explained that the purpose of Gram Seva from the point of view of the students is multi-faceted, in that it firstly provides the opportunity to do service, secondly it gives them experience in managing a large-scale project and thirdly it exposes them to the society that they should continue to serve at the conclusion of their formal education. He also explained the significance of the items that are distributed during Gram Seva, namely annam, ladoo and clothes (sari and dhoti). As prasadam, each of these items confers vibrations over a certain period of time, with the annam supposed to be consumed the same day, the ladoo lasting a few days and the clothes items lasting for months and years. Thus, these vibrations sustained over long period bring about a transformation in the villagers who receive the prasdam. Professor Sudhir Bhaskar explained that, during the earlier Gram Sevas, villagers would often seem to exaggerate the number of inhabitants in their dwellings, knowing that the instructions were to give however much was stated without question and how as time has gone by they have stopped this practice. He narrated one particular incident from this year where a person from another village had made his way to one of the villages being served that particular day and was harassing the students and faculty members for clothes, despite having received them in his own village. Rather than have him tarnish the reputation of their village, the villagers offered him their own clothes prasdam that they had only just received so that he would stop trying to take extra from the students.

Following Professor Sudhir Bhaskar’s talk, we made our preparations to leave Prashanti. Other than being the last day of our pilgrimage, this day had an added special significance in that it also happened to be Puppet Sir’s 70th birthday. Having departed from Prashanti Nilayam with somewhat heavy hearts, we travelled to Bangalore where we had arranged a special meal to mark the end of this year’s trip and more importantly to celebrate Puppet Sir’s birthday, before departing early the next morning for our flight back to London.

Grama Seva 2014 - Wednesday, 4th October 2014

The Morning Satsang : Qualities of Lord Hanuman

It was Saturday and the day started with the morning Sadhna of Omkaar and Suprabhatam at 5 a.m. Being Saturday, the satsang was dedicated to Lord Hanuman. The immediate image that springs to mind when one recollects His name is dedication and bhakti towards Shree Rama. Puppet Sir reminded the boys of Swami’s precious gems which states that from bhakti ones gets shakti and from shakti comes yukti, which leads to mukti. In others words, bhakti is the source of strength & skills that confers liberation.  The source of Hanuman’s strength and might, does not originate from his strong physical frame. Rather, Hanuman was devotion (bhakti) exemplified and that was His real source of Power.

Bhakti arises from love and goodness. In this current age of Kali where might and greatness are celebrated, Swami reminded us during the satsang that:
“If you are a great man, you may not necessarily be a good man. But if you are a good man you will surely become a great man” – Baba
The boys left for Veda and morning bhajans session is Sai Kulwant hall at 8 a.m. and after blissfully chanting Veda and glorifying the lord’s name though singing, they were all back in the prayer hall to listen to an enchanting talk to Sri Nanjundaya, a blessed soul who was formerly used to translate Swami’s discourse. He has also been very fortunate to have received numerous handwritten letters from Bhagwan Himself. We are happy to share one of these precious and invaluable gifts that Swami wrote to Sri Professor M Nanjundaiah.

Narayan Seva in the Ashram

After the session with Sri Nanajundaya, the boys proceeded for Narayan Seva in the ashram where roughly 700 people were served food and sweets. Below are pictures of the Narayan Seva conducted.

Bhajans before the Seva

Seva with a smile ☺

The Evening Programme in Sai Kulwant Hall

The boys gathered at 2p.m for the afternoon session on lingastakam which concluded slightly earlier than usual and headed for the Sai Kulwant Hall to prepare for the evening programme. There was a sense of excitementment in the air  coupled with eagerness and anticipation to listen to the talk to be delivered by Puppet Sir, that same afternoon.

Grama Seva Boys Setting up for the Musical Programme

Just after veda, the grama seva boys rendered a musical offerings to Bhagwan. The group sang with great passion & devotion in ‘their’ matchless inciting style, presenting ‘Sayeesha Shatakam’ and “Every Moment Of My Life…”

The highlight of the evening was the inspiring talk of Puppet Sir who dwelled on the topic of how to live with the living master through Loyalty to the physical Name and Frame of The Lord, Loyalty to His physical Abode, to His Universal Family & to His Teachings. Puppet Sir explained how we need to learn the art of living with Him, our Bhagawan.

He further discussed that every religion repeats that God is our own Father. It is not the Fatherhood of God that is at stake he clarified. Rather, it is the Brotherhood of man that man has failed to understand and practiced. Puppet Sir also divulged some of the precious messages that he was fortunate to receive from Bhagawan in close quarters. A must see talk that is available at

Inspiring Talk delivered by Puppet Sir

The talk uplifted the entire gathering and to keep the momentum going, soulful bhajans by students ensued after the talk. Mangala Arthi was done at around 6.30 p.m marking the end of another day divine day at Prashanti Nilayam that has been etched in our heart for life.

Grama Seva 2014 - Tuesday, 3rd October 2014

Friday 3rd October was the tenth day of Gram Seva and was the day of Vijay Dashmi and began the day with Omakars and Suprabhatam. As it was a Friday Pupet Sir recited the Al Fatiah prayer as many Muslims do across the globe on Friday as part of their Juma prayers. Today also had another significance as it was the day Shirid Sai Baba took Maha Samdhi on this date in 1981.

As mentioned today is Vijya Dashmi also known as Dasera the tenth final day of the wholy festival of Navratri. The tenth day also had another significance as it bought and end to the Vidhvan Maha Sabha and the Veda Pursha Satya gyam yagna. To close the final day of Vidhvan Maha Sabha the Purnahuti puja was going to be conducted in Poornachandra hall.  Before we attended the puja Puppet Sir explained the significance of the puja and informed us that the Purnahuti Puja is an opportunity for us to surrender all negative thoughts and feelings and let these be destroyed in the yagana (sacred fire). Puppet Sir also mentioned that throughout Swami’s physical presence Swami dedicated his time to instilling Anandam in all beings through Swami’s Medicare, Socio Care, Water projects and many other projects all of which were dedicated to bringing Anandam to his devotees and bhaktas. Puppet Sir mentioned, ‘Swami’s entire life was saturated in Anandam and was reflection and resound Anandam’.

Today we were lucky to have a special guest address us. Dr. Anil Kumar is the Director of Cardiology at Sunshine Hospital in Hyderabad. Dr. Kumar has performed over 80 heart valve operations at the hospital is one of Puppet Sir’s close friends. Dr Anil Kumar addressed us and spoke about being grateful to Swami and to thank Bhagwan every morning that we have the ability to walk, see, talk and have fully functional bodies. Through Dr Kumar’s work he has seen many people who do not have many of these abilities which we take for granted such as walking and seeing for example. Dr Kumar explain to us that everything which happens in our life has been preordained as per our actions in our previous life and as a result there are people who face difficulties such as not having the ability to walk or see. Dr Kumar explained that our physical body has been given to us for the prime purpose to help us realise that God is within us and this is the same for everyone irrespective of caste, creed and religion. Dr Kumar then beautifully put into perspective the past ten days where we have been participating in Gram Seva. Dr Kumar mentioned we have been given the opportunity to partake in this seva and use our physical bodies to serve God by going to the villages surrounding Putarparthi and in many cases meeting people who at a physical level are less fortunate than us but the main practice for us here was to see that God is present within them and in every form. This was the key message which Dr Kumar wanted to convey to us and to state that this discipline was important for us to understand in order to make spiritual progress.

Following our morning session we all went to Poornachandra hall to witness the Purnahuti Puja which for many of us was the first time we witnessed the yagna in it’s devine presence. We were all blessed to be part of the puja and witness the final closing moments of the Veda Pursha Satya gynam yagna and take part in chanting vedam and rudram as well as bhajans to close the ceremony.

For the afternoon session were blessed to be joined by Devki Pandit who is a renowned Bollywood playback singer who has been in a Swami devotee for many years and also had the opportunity to performance in the divine presence. As part of the Desera celebrations Devki Pandit preformed a musical performance in Sai Kulwant hall singing a selection of bhajans. Before the programme started some of the brothers were lucky to perform the Gayatri Ganapat in Sai Kulwant hall following which we all sang group songs to lead up to Devki Pandit’s performance.
The session concluded with Swami’s Divine discourse, bhajans and Mangal Aarti.

Grama Seva 2014 - Monday, 2nd October 2014

The Day began at 0500 with 21 Omkars and Suprabhatam. As we had come back round to Thursday, the morning prayers were once again devoted to Guru. During the remainder of the morning session, Puppet Sir spoke on various topics. Among these was Ceiling on Desires. We were taught that the way we should establish whether a desire is worthwhile is by asking ourselves three questions: Firstly, do I need it? Secondly, can I afford it? Finally, can I live without it? Today had the added significance of being Ashtami, which In Prashanti means the day of Ayudha Puja, where people worship the tools of their respective professions. Puppet Sir explained the relevance of this ritual in the modern day, telling us that we must destroy our base instincts with the weapons of love, faith, conviction and self-control. Swami, as he has done every day, went on to demonstrate his constant presence by proclaiming, “A wise man should have self-control!”

At the conclusion of our morning session, we made our way to Sai Kulwant Hall to witness the Ayudha Puja in the form of Vahana Puja, where Swami’s vehicles (including the magnificent Golden Chariot) were worshipped with Veda chanting and the breaking of coconuts in the same manner that Swami used to do every year. This day always has a special significance for us in particular as it sees the emergence of the Mini car that was offered at the Divine Lotus Feet by Puppet Sir; indeed the car has been blessed by Swami giving his Divine Darshan in it! As a reflection of Swami’s love, Puppet Sir was given the honour of participating in the Puja by being invited by Central Trust members to break a coconut in front of the Mini. The Puja concluded with Aarti.

Following Ayudha Puja, we conducted Pradakshina of the Mandir with Swami’s students and faculty and made our way to our vehicles to get ready for our daily Prema Yagna in the form of Grama Seva. Today, we travelled to the village of Janakampalli in Bukkapatnam Mandal. The village consists of close to 4500 people. With Swami’s students leading the way and helping to overcome the barrier of our basic telugu speaking, we were able to complete the day’s task in an efficient and timely manner, making sure each and every house was served, before returning to Prashanti Nilayam.

Following our lunch of Swami’s prasadam, we concluded our study of Lingaashtakam by contemplating the inner meaning of the final verse. After reciting the prayer, Puppet Sir posed the question, “who is your Guru?” He went on to explain that your real Guru is Sadguru, Devaguru and Jagadguru, which is ultimately your true self. This Guru is concretised in the Lingam before which we prostate ourselves.

After the afternoon session, we made our way to Sai Kulwant Hall for Swami’s Darshan along with the penultimate day of Prashanti Vidwan Mahasabha. Today we heard a dynamic address by Dr N Gopalakrishnan, who is an acclaimed scientist in the field of chemistry, having held positions in numerous institutions both in India and abroad. He is also a scholar in Sanskrit and Indian heritage, and so brought a distinct blend of perscpectives. Dr Gopalakrishnan spoke of six steps required in order to lead a meaningful life: elevation of the mind, nurturing of the body, creating a family, protecting our culture, serving society and thereby making a golden nation.

The session concluded with Swami’s Divine discourse, bhajans and Mangal Aarti.

In the evening the some of the Brother were lucky enough to be interviewed in the Radio Sai Studio whilst the others listened. The recording from the Radio Sai session can be found here for those of you that would like to have a listen: Radio Sai Interview - Thursday Live - October 2nd 2014

Grama Seva 2014 - Sunday, 1st October 2014

The 1st of October started with Omkar and Suprabatam at 0500 followed by the daily rendering of prayers by Puppet Sir. The stage was now set up for the morning Satsang and the boys were all ears to absorb the cascade of wisdom of Puppet Sir.

Here is an extract which we share with you all in the spirit of caring and sharing as narrated by Puppet Sir (in his own unique and inimitable style!)
Many devotees “complain” that Swami does not heed to their prayers. In simple terms, human believe that God does not talk to man. But this is not the correct perception. Here is what Swami told me once:“Puppet, I am always free to talk to you. But you are always engaged in the world”
These morning sessions gives us inspiring food for thought, or rather, food for life! The Grama Seva boys are immensely grateful to Puppet Sir, for sharing these precious jewels, every morning.

Grama Seva

We proceeded to Sai Kulwant Hall and the Grama Seva Boys were all seated by 7:45 a.m. Veda chating and pradakshina of the Mandir started at 8 a.m sharp, before the group headed for Grama Seva at Bramanpalli Village with loud cheers of “Bhagwan Shri Sathya Sai Baba Ji Ki Jai! “

Morning Veda Chanting & Pradakshina by Grama Seva Boys

The trip to the village was approximately 30 minutes drive from Prashanti Nillayam and was suffused with Bhajans and sharing of Swami’s divine Leelas.

A few selected (“behind the scenes”) Pictures of the Daily trips to the village

All Smiles: the morning breakfast has been well received by the boys ; )

The Joy of Grama Seva!

The Spirit of love, Joy and brotherhood prevails

Once at the village, the Grama Seva Boys joined Swami’s student for Veda Chanting and Nagarsankirtan before starting the distribution of Food, Sweets, sarees and Dhotis. Interestingly, this particular village had a quarry where few villagers were employed.

The Village Quary

Few villagers stayed in the houses provided by the quary and the distribution started there.

The Quarry Workers

Sharing of Prasadam, Joy and Love with the villagers ( Did you notice mother holding the “baby”? )

 A View of the village and the houses of the quarry workers at Bramanpalli

A typical Kitchen in Bramanpalli Village

A Lesson to take Home from Grama Seva

The families in the villages hardly have the basic amenities which are considered indispensable. Though they live in conditions of poverty, there seem to be a feeling of calmness & contentment amongst them – which is cruelly missing in cities & richer societies.


Simplicity & Contentment

Pondering over this, one realizes that those who have money needs to learn how to practice ceiling on desires. However, the villagers – being poor materially – spend their entire life in the spirit of ceiling of desires.

While we are still trying to learn the art of ceiling of desires, villagers have adopted Swami’s teaching as a way of life.And as Swami beautifully said :
“The lesser the number of desires, the greater the freedom & the greater the happiness”
The lesson to take home is that the secret to happiness lies in the reduction of desires and the practice of simple living & high thinking.

Afternoon Session & Practice

Once back at Prashanti Nilayam, lunch was served and all boys partook of Swami’s prasadam reverentially along with Puppet Sir.

Lunch after Grama Seva

Prior to the daily afternoon session with Puppet Sir on Lingashtakam, the boys met for one hour to practice the group songs and bhajans which would be offered to Swami on the 3rd of 4th of October in Sai Kulwant Hall.

After the afternoon session on Lingashtakam, the boys along with Puppet Sir headed for Sai Kulwant Hall for the evening bhajans and Vidwan Maha Sabha. One of the speakers talked on fear which arises due to duality and which we one tends to naturally rebuke. But from god’s perspective Fear has an altogether different purpose.  When a child is on the wrong path, the mother uses fear to bring the child back on track. Similarly, when a child of God strays, God too will use fear & pain to bring him/her back on the spiritual path. This is actually a blessing in disguise.

The evening sessions concluded with enchanting bhajans by students from Puttaparthi and Anantapur campus, marking the close of another blissful day in Prashanti, the abode of supreme peace. As we retired for the night, we kept reminding ourselves of our great good fortune and thanked Swami with a profound sense of gratitude.

The Grama Seva Boys, heading to N1 after a “holy” day in Prashanti Nilayam