When hundreds of farmers in Cholamaari of Anantapur district were selling away their cattle and bullocks to slaughter houses, simply because they could not afford to feed them when they themselves were going without food for days, the Sai Youth of Andhra Pradesh stepped in. And now even though the dreadful drought continues in its sixth successive year, the villagers in and around Cholamaari are not committing suicide. In fact, their produce has doubled, they are selling milk from their cows, cultivating more land and jubilant like never before. How did all this happen?
Again, the youngsters of Cholamaari who used to leave their village in search of elusive dreams in big cities reducing their village to an old men’s ghetto now do not want to leave their village any more at any cost. They are not only earning good money and are prosperous but are also providing employment to other unemployed youth. “We will never leave this village,” now the teenagers of Cholamaari emphatically say. What exactly did the Sai Youth do?
Thousands of village children who never went to school because their parents did not know what a school was and how it will help their children, are now enthusiastically going to school. Teachers deputed to village schools who either paid occasional visits or sent their proxies now want to make the village children good citizens of the country. How did this transformation come about?
The guileless hundred odd villagers of Guntapalli who lived in dingy dilapidated houses made of burnt mud and had to walk six kilometers through stone and rubble to catch a bus and at least twenty kilometers to see a physician, are now proud owners of houses made of reinforced cement concrete. They, who have never seen Baba or heard of Him, now say, “We all want to see Sai Baba. If He can inspire so many youngsters to come so far and construct houses for someone they don’t even know, He must be great indeed. Over the years, we had lost faith in humanity. But now we know they are people who do what they profess to do.” Did the Sai Youth only construct houses here? What else did they do? How did they reach this god-forsaken village in the first place?
These are just tiny glimpses of what the Sai Youth of Andhra Pradesh under the banner of Sri Sathya Sai Grama Seva Trust have done in the last few years. There is much more and when you read our comprehensive cover story on this saga of stupendous selfless service, we are sure you will never be the same again. What the Sai Youth has achieved in just three years is truly remarkable and mind-boggling. No wonder, Swami speaking to this group of Youth in the year 2003 said, “It is enough if there are one or two organisations like this; Bharat can be restored to its pristine glory.”
You will be amazed to know that the Sai Youth conceived and implemented a string of critical service projects - first in a cluster of villages and then scaled up later to cover the whole state of Andhra Pradesh – benefiting thousands of villagers yet without spending a single rupee. Their ideas were revolutionary and implementation as perfect as it can be. And, of course, there was the unseen hand. The ways of the divine are mysterious. You will find another fascinating instance of this when you read how Swami began to be loved in the enchanting isthmus of Panama in our feature articles section. Here too, it is selfless service by Sai volunteers which made miracles happen, hearts healed and bridges built.
“Hands that serve are holier than lips that pray” is oft quoted and may sound quite straightforward. But the real issues surface when one tries to apply this principle in one’s professional and personal life. It suddenly becomes complex. Many people do not understand where to draw the line. What exactly is Service? Whom should we actually serve? Is not doing our office work service? Where will it ultimately lead to? These jab the mind again and again. It is to provide a clear perspective on all these concepts that we have in this issue a special panel discussion in the Sai Seva section. And you will find a practical demonstration of these ideas when you read the article “Where there is His Will, There is a Way” by a former student of Swami’s institute in the Swami and Me section.
It was six decades and six years ago in this same month of October that Swami revealed to the world for the first time His identity, His advent and His Mission. If we have to describe all these three facets in one phrase, it would be - Selfless Love. “The joy that you can derive from selfless service,” Swami says, “cannot be compared to any amount of worldly accomplishments.”
Truly, deep in his heart, every wise man knows that the only way he can help himself is by helping others. Not to lose oneself in being of help to others is to miss the elixir of life. Opportunities knock only once. So, let’s take every chance that comes our way to experience this supreme feeling of love through service. For there is actually no other way to perennial joy.
Let’s make our lives a saga of love and service.
In Sai Service,