September 18-19, 2009 – Grama Seva Begins in Prasanthi Nilayam

Ever since the year 2000 when Swami first introduced the concept of Grama Seva, it has been growing in strength year after year. This is true not only in the Sri Sathya Sai University but all over India too with all the samithis and district and state organisations pitching in wonderfully.

Villagers all over India have been touched by His Love. They have seen Him even before seeing Him physically! While writing about the various village service activities carried out all over India, one cannot help but mention about the SSSVIP or the Sri Sathya Sai Village Integrated Programme that has been implemented in the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh in India.

[To read more articles about Sai Seva being done in India and the world, please visit Sai Seva Archives]

As far as the Grama Seva in the University goes, it has now been institutionalised with it being an integral part of the curricula. And as Swami has said it, Grama Seva is a programme where there are no boundaries of a giver and recipient, for both are Him alone!

The evening of September 18 saw huge carton boxes containing hampers for all those who were to engage in the Grama Seva being brought out and assembled on the marbled steps on Swami's command. Bhagavan arrived for darshan and completing a full round, moved into the Bhajan Hall to have a look at these hampers! Though we call them as 'hampers' they are actually 'facilitators'! Each bag contained a couple of T-shirts, a couple of towels, a pair of socks and a cap. Swami moved to the stage and asked for it to be distributed.

Starting with the teachers, these were given to all the students. The distribution went on in a very organised and neat manner. The bhajans were on and Swami asked the staff member who plays the tabla, "You did not get?" The answer was a slight nod to say "No". He asked another boy who chants the Vedas, "You did not get?" Again it was the same reply.

Swami was told that only the students and staff of the University were being given the bags. Then Bhagavan said that all the staff and the former students who had assembled too be given! That showed a beautiful aspect of Swami - that He does not discriminate. All are equal for Him and He does not seem to 'understand' man-made divisions and distinctions.

And so it was that everyone around were gifted by the Divine command. Many members of the alumni who had come over to Puttaparthi for the weekend were also beneficiaries and with gratitude they too joined the serving brigade that was to leave for the villages on the next day.

Swami was so happy and He appears the happiest when He is giving away while all of us rejoice when we receive! (Another example for all of us to emulate and that is also one of the guiding objectives in the Grama Seva.) The girls from the Anantapur campus of the University and the senior girls from the Primary school were given sarees. The ever concerned Swami asked the teachers to distribute the sarees, two each, to all of them! After the bhajans concluded, Swami received aarthi and retired for the evening.

The morning of September 19 saw the students and staff of all the campuses of the University gather in the Sai Kulwant Hall awaiting Swami's arrival. All the villages to be served that day were less than a five minutes drive from Puttaparthi.

Swami arrived at 10:20 a.m. and completing the darshan rounds, arrived on the stage, and then asked for the boys to leave immediately. The Veda group took the lead and all the students circumambulated the mandir singing bhajans. Circumambulation is a very significant aspect of the Bharatiya culture. It means that one is placing God as the centre when one does anything! Swami sat seeing the students file out of the Mandir into their respective vehicles.

After all had left, He asked the remaining school students, "You are not going?" These were students from the 8th, 9th and 10th class who help in packing and arranging snacks for the students. They do not go for the actual field work. Swami sat for a couple of more bhajans and then aarthi was done. After that, Swami told the members of the bhajan group also to leave.

As they left, Swami moved into the Bhajan Hall where the Kalashasthapana was to take place. This is the process by which the deity for the Navarathri is installed. He told the priest there to begin the installation and the priest started chanting.

After five minutes or so, Swami seemed to want the installation to be done soon but priest’s chanting continued. Another person nearby who noticed this, made courage to ask the priest to hurry but the priest chose to do it his way, systematically. Finally, with a smile Swami left to the Yajur Mandir.

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