Sai Annapoorna – Daily Breakfast Seva

Duty without Love is deplorable

Duty with Love is desirable

Love without Duty is Divine.

When the Lord decides that He wants us to learn to love without duty, He does it by designing a program that makes it easy to incorporate this lesson into our everyday lives. For, wouldn’t it be easiest for love to flow when small, innocent children are involved?

“There are many school going children who do not have proper breakfast in the morning. With an empty stomach how can they study? Children are the next generation youth and it our responsibility to nurture them right from the beginning. Children who either cannot afford or are not being served breakfast at home, should not go hungry to the school as it is detrimental to their physical and mental health.

The foundation for the Sai Annapoorna project or the 90 schools breakfast seva was laid in 2012, when Bhagawan asked the youth from South Bangalore to identify a village where children who could not afford breakfast or were not being served breakfast, would go to school without eating until mid-day, when the mid-day meal would be served to them. They identified Dodballe, a village 20kms from Banashankari, where they could serve breakfast to 70-80 school-going children. The children would be served a filling, nutritious breakfast of idli-sambhar, rice bhath-chutney, chapatti-kurma, milk and fruit on rotation, in an open area at the common assembling place in the village. Swami guided the team at every instance and last year the team even built a permanent building called Sri Satya Sai Sevaamrutam to house the project. Today, apart from serving breakfast in this building, the volunteers conduct Bal Vikas and Veda Learning sessions also here.

Over the next two years the project became stable and the time ripe for this seed to germinate by spreading across other schools. In April this year, 2015, Bhagawan asked all the students from Dodballe village to come for blessings to Muddenhalli. He also asked other youth members to attend the event. Throughout the morning, Swami expressed the delight and pride of a mother as He pointed out the significant transformation in the children.

Over the last 6-8 months, other teams from across Bangalore, Chennai and Trivandrum have taken lessons from the Dodballe team and started similar breakfast seva chapters in other parts of these cities.

Most sevas follow a similar routine. Every morning the seva starts with a short prayer by the students wherein they sing a couple of bhajans and chant Brahmarpanam. This is followed by breakfast being served to the students. Breakfast consists of a complete meal including milk, a banana and a tiffin item such as upma, idly, puri bhaji etc. In some cases, the teams provide a glass of milk and a fruit.

However, this was not enough for our compassionate Bhagawan, who had been mentioning the need to provide this nutritious start to students in villages which struggle for their basic meals. He pressed the team led by Anand Kumar and Sai Prasad to identify village schools across Chikaballapur district and roll out the program in 90 schools across the country. He named the project Annapurna and put together the Sri Sathya Sai Annapurna Trust with the mandate of Grama Udharana and Grama Parivartana – Rural Upliftment and Rural Transformation.

The 90 Schools Breakfast Seva project, Annapurna, is all set to go live on November 24th, when Bhagawan will flag it off. Key contact persons have been identified in each of the selected villages. They will be responsible for procuring milk every morning from the local dairy and providing it to the students along with a banana. The seva will take place on three days every week, after the school prayer is over. Volunteers have come forward and have been allotted village schools. They will manage the smooth functioning of the seva on a day to day basis. Bhagawan has tasked the team to gradually extend the seva to include a full tiffin meal over time.

“I don’t have a body now. So I want the children to experience Swami’s love through you.”

While Swami guided the team in detail on execution, His Guidance on the softer aspects of the seva is crucial to note. He constantly reminds the team members that they must allow Bhagawan’s love to flow through them to the children, allowing them to experience His love through their actions.

“You are taking care of my children. Think of them as your children and love then the way you love your children. There should be no difference.”

At some point, Bhagawan asked a team member how many children he has. To his reply (he stated he has 2 children), Swami lovingly pointed out that was a narrow way of thinking. He wanted that the breakfast seva team think of all the breakfast seva children as their own children and treat them that way. What a practical example to point out how each of us needs to recondition our narrow thinking to begin thinking of the world as our family, Vasudaiva Kutumbakam.

In His loving and very experiential way, Swami has provided all the team members and volunteers associated with this project, a practical opportunity to live His advice – Love without Duty is Divine – as they go about serving breakfast lovingly to students across the country.