Gram Seva 2015 – Wednesday, 21st October 2015

 Aum Sri Sai Ram

 As usual, we began our day with an early morning session at 4:40, beginning with the powerful 21 Omkars and Suprabhatam. Puppet Sir then began his talk, which today was about devotion. He began by giving an example: a baby being fed milk for the first time will not accept it but a persistent mother will keep offering it and soon, the baby will come to love milk. Eventually, the time will come when the mother mixes rice into the milk for the baby, who again at first won't like it but grow to like it. The same process happens when the baby grows teeth, and is given solid food. This is like Sadhana. At first we will not be able to practice Sadhana and be devoted to Swami, but if we keep trying, and put in the effort, Swami, much like a persistent mother will allow us to gain proper devotion, and practice Sadhana with God in our minds. Patience and effort is the key to enjoying anything you do, and this includes Sadhana and devotion.

We then proceeded to get ready and go to morning Darshan, which was in Poorna Chandra Hall, where we watched the yagna take place, and stayed for the aarti.
There was no gram seva, so following Darshan, we went to the Western Canteen for breakfast, before going to shed 36 to do Narayan Seva. It was hard work but it was also extremely satisfying as we managed to serve food to 1000 Narayans (people). We are all extremely grateful to Swami for giving us such a wonderful opportunity to serve so many Narayans in form of people.

Seva finished at midday, and as there was no food left over from it, we got lunch from the Western Canteen. We then got to rest for a while, before we held a practice in the mandir in N6. During this practice, we practiced our Vedam and our bhajan medly, and we also, for the first time, heard sister Rupa Panesar's sitar performance (also to be offered on Dassera) for the first time. We were thrilled with the power of the medly, and the beauty of the sitar performance.

After practice, we went to afternoon Darshan in Sai Kulvant Hall, where we were privileged to hear a talk from Sri Siddhartha. R, and one of Swami’s discourses. Today's performance was a brilliantly choreographed dance performance given by Swami’s students from high school ranging to the students of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning.

Sri Siddhartha. R is a teacher of English literature at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. He gave a thought provoking talk, telling us stories to show how Swami is all powerful, all knowing and such a fascinating deity. My favourite story from his talk was when Swami asked some elders what they thought the most curious thing in the universe is. They didn't know so Swami told them to remind him to answer the next day. When the next day came, Swami was very busy, so the elders thought, it’s okay, we’ll ask tomorrow. At night on that day, the elders where asleep in the mandir and Swami came and woke them, asking them why they didn't remind him to which they replied, you were very busy, so we were going to ask tomorrow. Swami said that that was nonsense and he took them outside, and he looked up into the night sky. Swami told the elders to look up and they saw all the holy souls in the universe, clearly visible in the night sky. Swami said, what is so curious is that all that these holy souls around the universe have a single desire, which is to be with God, and it is you that get the chance to be with Him. This story shows Swami’s power and knowledge, but it also shows that he takes every opportunity to teach us, in this case how lucky we are to be with Him and that we must make the most of this chance we have been given.

In Swami's discourse, the theme was how we as humans should behave. Swami said that our minds are full of bad thoughts and to do these bad things is demonic. Swami says that we must always follow our conscience instead of the mind, and only do an action once we have fully thought it through. This means we must think of what we do, when we do it and what the consequences of doing it are. We must always do good deeds, and never demonic ones, even if our parents tell us to do something bad, we mustn’t do it, but instead we should explain softly and sweetly why we cannot do what they ask.

The dance performance was extremely unique, a mime group with narration "presented" each new scene, with the theme being a search for the perfect devotee of Swami. The most memorable scenes from the dance where about Hunuman's devotion to Rama and the Gopikas' devotion to Krishna. We saw scenes of Hunuman flying and lifting the mountain at Rama’s command and the Gopikas dancing with Krishna. The narration told us the Gopikas always said that they belong to Krishna and that they were true devotees, which made me remember what Puppet Sir often says, "I am not a devotee, I am a slave of the master."
Darshan concluded with bhajans and the aarti, after which we bowed down to Swami’s Maha Samhadi and did our prayers. Our day finished with dinner in the Western Canteen.

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