Aum Sri Sai Ram
The morning began at 0445 hrs with 21 Omkars and Suprabhatham. Being Monday, or Somwar, the morning's prayers were dedicated to Lord Shiva. Puppet sir conducted Shiva Pooja in exactly the same way as we had all come to know and love every Monday in Sai Kutir. He then addressed the group on the subject of spiritual intensity, citing the example of Swami Vivekananda. He narrated one incident from the life of Swami Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, where Master noticed the jealous feelings of other devotees towards Swamiji because of his closeness with Master. Master therefore went about ignoring young Narendra, as he was then still known. Narendra continued sitting in Dakshineshwar without any complaint for 20 days. Master, shocked at this, eventually went to Narendra and said, "Are you not upset that I have not spoken a single word to you for so long?" Narendra gave an astonishing reply, "Master, who told you I have come here to talk to you?" Master was completely taken aback by this response and enquirer as to what then he came for. Narendra then gave a most wonderful reply, saying, "I have only come to see you." It is this intensity, Sir told us, that we should develop for Swami. Moving on to read the Swami's message for us in the thought for the day, Swami as always displayed his omnipresence, "If we keep our mind on a high point and continue to hold it there, the result will be a great awakening." Swami was giving us the very same message about spiritual intensity in preparation of our participation in his great demonstration of Love in Action that is Grama Seva. We then continued the process of preparing ourselves for the physical element by doing Pranayama before making our way to Sai Kulwant Hall for Vedam, morning bhajans and Mangala Aarti.
Following this, we attended a briefing session for Grama Seva 2015 in the main auditorium of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning where we heard from several experienced faculty members and students on their experiences of Grama Seva, the spirit in which Swami wants it to be conducted and also some of the logistical aspects. The student speakers conveyed the multi-faceted nature of this activity. For the villagers, it is a reminder of Swami's everlasting love; for us, it is an opportunity to serve and experience the joy of giving. The first faculty member to address us was Sri Venkateshwar, a teacher in Swami's higher secondary school. Quoting Swami, he explained that selflessness and purity should be inherent. Displaying Swami's beautiful wordplay, he gave two quotes demonstrating this point: "Loss of self makes you selfless" and, "Loss of I gives you more of Sai." Finally, we heard from Sri Sudhir Bhaskar, Principle of of the Prashanti campus of SSSIHL, who has overseen the running of Grama Seva at a physical level since its inception in 2000. He discussed the practicalities of what would happen on a day to day to basis and explained the scale of the project. We discovered that each day would involve the distribution of an astonishing 30,000-40,000 rice packets and ladoos. To end, He re-iterated that we are going simply as messengers to deliver Swami's love, saying, "Sai Seva is silent Seva."
Our next activity took us to the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences. Some of the group donated blood that was to be required for a major case planned for that very afternoon. We were also most fortunate to receive a talk from Dr Voleti Choudhary, the hospital director. He proved to us that, despite Swami no longer being present in physical form, his mission continues to grow at full pace with the news that the hospital had recently undergone its first ever inspection by the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and ranked among the very best institutions in the entire country, all the while providing care of the highest standard completely free of charge.
On returning from the hospital we had another afternoon session with Puppet sir, resuming the discussion on the subject of "Samarpanam". Explaining the law of karma, Puppet sir said that one has to reap the consequences of the seeds he has sown and there is no escaping from this. If you do good action, the result will be good; in contrast, if you do bad action, the result will be bad. However, if one offers the fruits of the action at the divine Lotus Feet before undertaking it, then that person is free, and that is Samarpanam.
Our day's programme concluded with the evening session of Vedam, bhajans and Mangala Aarti in Sai Kulwant Hall, after which we took early rest in preparation for the commencement of Grama Seva 2015 in the morning.