Grama Seva 2013 - Wednesday, 16th October 2013

16th October 2013, 05:58 - Bags were packed and loaded into our vehicles. Hailing 3 Jais to Swami, we were off to visit His Hospital in Whitefield and then to Brindavan. The journey to Whitefield took about 3 hours. On arriving at Whitefield, we partook Swami’s Prasadam and headed towards Swami’s Hospital.

Located at the heart Whitefield’s booming IT industry, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences stood out majestically. 

Some of us were visiting the hospital for the first time. As we entered the temple of healing, a huge portrait of Swami welcomed us. We prostrated before Him and sat down for a minute. The Bhajan ‘Jaya Kailashepathe Shiva Shankara’ was echoing from somewhere.

We were later shown around the various departments of Cardiology and Neurology. It was heart-warming to hear how passionate and inspired everyone working at the Hospital were. A recent addition to the Hospital was its Counselling Department which has been doing a very crucial service to the patients and their relatives coming there - realigning the mind to its peaceful and loving state before the patients undergo any physical treatment. 

After having lunch, we went to Brindavan where we were fortunate to enter Swami’s Divine Abode where He gave His famous Trayee sessions. What ensued was a beautiful Satsang with Vinay Kumar Sir, Puppet Sir and Sanjay Sahani Sir. Emotional, encouraged and enlightened, we left Brindavan thanking Swami for bringing all of us together at His Lotus Feet and praying that He be with us all the time. 

Grama Seva 2013 - Friday, 11th October 2013

On this auspicious Friday dedicated to Maha Lakhmi the group commenced the usual routine of 21 omkar and suprabhatam at 5AM. Thought of the day was read.

The group then did visualisation meditation, this involves sitting quietly without any music and creating a scene for 10 mins – for some this would be Swami coming out of Yajur Mandir, walking towards Sai Kulwant hall, occasionally stopping to speak to some lady devotee, perhaps materialising vibhuti for some devotee. Swami would then walk toward get side where student will come very close to Swami’s path to touch His feet, hands and robe like one child interacts with his mother. Swami would continue along the path occasionally taking letters from eager devotees stretching their hands for Swami to talk the letters. Swami continues walking as if floating towards where the old students will be sitting at the edge of the veranda. Finally Swami would go pass the vedam boys towards portico and finally entering interview room. We completed the morning session by doing Pranayam.

The group prepared all the vehicles in readiness to go to Sai Kulwant Hall. In Sai Kulwant Hall pradikshana takes place at 8AM. All the Grama Seva boys circle the mandir chatting Vedam. We then head towards our vehicles and chant Brahmarpanam. We partook breakfast snack provided by Swami and head towards our allocated village which was Brahmana Palli. Brahmana Palli is located near the airport in Puttaparthi. We distributed Swami’s prasadam at the beginning of the village covering approximately 100 houses. However, Swami’s students covered remaining of the village. 

Today's Grama Seva activity was completed quickly and we reached Prashanthi Nilayam by 9:30AM just in time to witness yagna proceedings followed by Mangala Aarti in the Poornachandra Hall. Devotees and the group then headed toward Sai Kulwant Hall for Divya Darshan.

The group took rest in the afternoon followed by Listening to discourse by Puppet Sir on Govinda Ashtakam.

In the afternoon in Sai Kulwant Hall, the Maha Vidhawan Sabha commenced with the introductory Vedam chanting. A student from the higher secondary school, a student from the Brindavan Campus and a professor from the Mudhanhalli campus were the speakers for this afternoon's programme. This was followed by Swami’s divine discourse. Sisters from the Anantapur campus presented a musical program followed by bhajan, during which prasadam was distributed. There was an important announcement made by All India President of SSSSO urging to pray for brothers and sisters in the cyclone effected area of Orissa. Group then returned to their rooms after Aarti.  

At 11PM the group visited the kitchen to see the cooking procedure for the grama seva. It is a very complex and long process to prepare food, which takes all night. This involves washing and cooking the rice in big vessels that can sit 8-9 people on open wood fire.  High quality ingredients are sourced from various cities and brought to Puttaparthi for this purpose. Sisters from Swami’s institute come at night to pack the food in banana leaves and newspaper, which preserves the food.

Grama Seva 2013 - Tuesday, 8th October 2013

We have had frequent power outages during our stay in Prashanti and this morning was no different. The outages are due to strikes because of political tension in Andhra Pradesh. The group therefore performed the morning prayers with only candle light.

At 5am sharp we commenced our morning session with 21 omkars, suprabhatam and prayers to the Mother Goddess. Today is the 4th day of the Navratri festival. Puppet Sir read today's thought of the day and expanded on its deeper significance. We continued our morning programme with meditation and pranayam.

We enjoyed upma, sambhar, and tea/coffee at the South Indian Canteen today. This was an unusual treat!

As we made our way to Sai Kulwant Hall the sky opened and it rained and rained... and rained! We quickly reached the covered area and thankfully did not get too wet.

Today was the first day of the Veda Purusha Saptaha Jnana Yajna. After performing Pradakshina around the mandir we sat back in Sai Kulwant Hall continuing Vedam chanting. Normally we would start to make our way to our cars to make a start for the villages, but today we waited for the Pundits to finish of their prayers in the Mandir and then lead us to the Poornachandra Auditorium where the yagna will be performed for the next few days.

The Poornachandra Auditorium was already full when we arrived, we quickly sat on the floor in our allocated area and observed the start of the Yagna. The Yagna ceremony commenced with the ritviks lighting the Yagna in the traditional way by churning two pieces of wood together. The action is similar to the way milk is churned by hand to make butter. This year the spark of light appeared quickly and smoke appeared soon after. This led to the fire being created. The Yagnam fire was taken to Swami's throne for blessings. Soon after we left the Poonachandra Auditorium to make way to our vehicles for today's Grama Seva.

We left Prashanti Niliyam at 10am and made our way to the Super Speciality Hospital in Puttaparti to offer Swami's prashadam to the doctors, nurses other hospital staff and their families. The UK group was the only group covering this area this year. We commenced the Seva by performing Nagarsaankeertana consisting of Vedam and bhajans.

Prashadam was distributed in all the living quarters as well as the Director's residence. Once we concluded the distribution we went to the central dome in the hospital, to pray to Swami and seek his blessings. We also used this as an opportunity to take group pictures.

After partaking Prasadam back in Prashanti Nilyam the group took a few minutes rest and we sat with Puppet Sir to continue the study of the Govindashtakam.

At 4:30pm we were sat in Sai Kulwant Hall, the afternoon proceedings started with regular Vedam chanting. At 4:45pm the children from Swami's school commenced the Maha Vidvan Maha Sabah by chanting Vedas in front of Bhagawan, adorned in orange robes. There were three speakers who eloquently spoke about various spiritual topics including the significance of the Dasara festival and Grama Seva. The talks were followed by Swami's divine discourse.

The students from the Muddanhalli campus performed a thoroughly uplifting music programme. This was followed by Swami singing in his divine melodious voice and finally the evening session was concluded with bhajans and Mangala Aarathi.

Grama Seva 2013 - Monday, 7th October 2013

At 5am the group sadhana started with 21 Omkars followed by Suprabhatam. 

We performed meditation and then completed the morning session with Pranayam. This consisted of Bhastrika, Kapalbhati, Anulom Vilom and Bhramri.

At 7am we went to the Sai Kulwant Hall and performed Pradakshina around the Mandir by chatting Vedam. We continued Vedam as we left Sai Kulwant Hall and went to our respective vehicles to make a start for the journey to today’s villages. 

Our group was allocated Mellumpalli and Obuladevapalli villages.  These villages are located near Locherala, Kottacharu district.  These villages were located in remote regions along the Kottacharu lake surrounded by hills. 

The group enjoyed bhajans enroute a scenic drive along  the Kottacharu lake which is surrounded by hills. 

Obuladevapalli consists of 150 houses, with about 600 inhabitants. As we approached the village we were greeted with decorations (rangoli) on the street and garlanded photos of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Children ran towards us, and accompanied us as we circumbulated the village for Nagarsankeerthana. 

Swami’s Prashadam was distributed to each and every house in this remote village.  Our perception of this village was that it has not been greatly influenced by modern possessions.

We experienced many touching moments, one particular one was seeing an elderly lady in a make shift hut with very few personal items. She beamed with joy as she received Swami’s Prashadam, in the form of a Saree. 

Most of the houses were not only inhabited by people but by their animals as well! These are not regular pets… we saw cows, chickens, hens, goats. Here is a picture with of a newborn calf and our group.

The group then headed towards the second village, Mellumpalli. This was relatively small compared the other one with 50 houses and approximately 300 people. 

The group completed the Seva activity and headed back to Prashanti Nilyam to partake in Swami’s Prashadam together. 

At 3pm we started our afternoon session. This was the second day of Govindashatakam Swadhyay. This concluded at 4pm and went to Sai Kulwant Hall for Divine Darshsan.

Here are some other pictures from today:

Grama Seva 2013 - Sunday, 6th October 2013

With the Divine Grace of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba the Grama Seva started in earnest on this auspicious Sunday. The UK group consisting of 18 boys from UK, Mauritius & Dubai joined professors and the students of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning.

At 8AM, all the facility members, students and UK group commenced the Grama Seva doing "pradakshina" around the mandir and Sri Sathya Sai Baba Maha Samadhi while chanting vedic hymns. The group continued chanting whilst leaving Sai Kulwant hall along the Gopuram Road until they reach their respective vehicles. Gopuram road was busy with all the Grama Seva trucks lined up along the South Indian canteen.

The UK group hailed victory to Sri Sathya Sai Baba as they exited the Ashram gate and headed to Pedapalli village. This village is located in Puttaparthi mandal 30 Kms from the Ashram. The village had 6700 people living in approximately 1000 homes.

Once the UK Group arrived at the village they conducted “Nagarsankeerthana”.  This involved the chanting of vedic hymns and bhajans in the village to sanctify the area. Prasadam in the form of Pulihora rice (tamirin rice) and ladoo was taken door to door and given to each and every house in the village. Swami's prasadam in the form of a Saree & Dhoti was also given to each house. Gram seva was completed by the afternoon after which all the group members returned to the Ashram.