The Annapoorna Breakfast Programme which was started in 2012 under the Divine guidance and command of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, is an initiative which aims to let no child go to school hungry, ever. Having commenced on a small scale, serving one small school in a village in the outskirts of Bangalore, the programme now provides healthy, nutritious breakfast every day, to more than 250,000 underprivileged school-going children, totally free of cost. With the support of a number of volunteers, the Annapoorna Breakfast Programme is currently serving children in seventeen States, two Union Territories, and over five countries as well. On October 19, volunteers of the initiative gathered at Sri Sathya Sai Premamrutham Hall for a training programme.
The day began at 08:00 a.m with breakfast, registration and prayers, after which a few video presentations were made. Thereafter, an introduction and brief overview of the Sri Sathya Sai Annapoorna Trust was presented, along with updates on the functions of the Trust. This was followed by regional state presentations and interactive sessions, after which there was a short break for tea.
The second half of the training programme began as Swami arrived and was welcomed with a traditional Poorna Kumbham procession. As Swami ascended the throne, Brother Anand Kadali, Co-Founder, Trustee and Secretary of the Sri Sathya Sai Annapoorna Trust, welcomed Him and offered his love and gratitude to his Master. Brother Anand prayed to Swami to permit the young children who have been volunteering for the Annapoorna Seva every Thursday, to offer the invocatory Veda chanting at the feet of Bhagawan. These young tiny tots beautifully chanted the Shivopasana Mantra much to the delight of Swami and all those who had gathered. Swami then showered these children with gifts, after which Brother Anand briefly recapped the purpose of the training session and proceedings of the session earlier in the morning.
Brother Anand then went on to speak about the progress of the Trust activities and submitted the Trust’s plans to reach out to a total of more than 400,000 children by Swami’s upcoming 94th birthday and as per His divine plan, and to expand this number to 500,000 children by the end of the current academic year. He then submitted himself and all the volunteers at Swami’s lotus feet and prayed to Bhagawan to grant His divine message and guidance.
Thereafter upon Swami’s command, Sri B N Narasimha Murthy, Chancellor of the Sri Sathya Sai University for Human Excellence addressed the gathering. Sri Narasimha Murthy congratulated and complimented all the volunteers of the Annapoorna Trust for their wonderful work and dedication to feeding the underprivileged and hungry children of the nation. He briefly narrated the story of Pat Seed, who after having been diagnosed with cancer, used her remaining years to selflessly strive for the sake of others and spoke about the importance of being selfless. Elaborating on the nature of selflessness, Sri Narasimha Murthy quoted from the Upanishads, which say that when the urge to help others selflessly arises in one’s heart, all one’s difficulties melt away and one will be followed by wealth and success. He reminded everyone that in the spiritual domain, it is adopting this selfless attitude of forgetting about oneself and only thinking about others, that is the only thing that has to happen. With this, Sri Narasimha Murthy brought his talk to a close and prayed to Swami for His divine message.
Swami then granted His discourse, saying, “Everything is born out of love. Everything lives in love, sustained by love and ultimately, everything merges back in love. Wherever you see, there is only love and nothing else.” Swami explained that love is the most gratifying feeling and although it comes in different forms: such as that between mother and child, between siblings and between friends, it is the purest form of love which is without expectations, that sustains this world and is the love from this world is born and into which it will merge back.
Swami explained that it is with this love that has no expectations, that He does all that He does for everyone and does not expect even a ‘Thank you’ in return, because love lives by giving and is its own reward. Just as a river only knows how to flow and reach the ocean, even though birds, animals, saints and even sinners may drink from it, likewise, all Seva that is undertaken, must be like the purest of rivers and must flow only with the aim of reaching God. Swami reminded everyone that as even the work continues, numbers and support will surely increase, but truly the Annapoorna Seva is a river which is taking everyone to the ocean which is God and that is the real purpose behind these Seva projects that have been initiated. Through undertaking this Seva, every day one must feel purer, more compassionate and kind, more loving and more divine.
Swami exhorted all those involved in Seva to discard the sense of doer-ship so that the opportunity does not get reduced to goal-oriented work but remains as an opportunity for worship through serving others. Swami said, “All Seva should be standing on the firm ground of Sadhana.” He went on to explain that real Sadhana is not performing austerities or undertaking difficult penance, but rather, it is about constantly reminding oneself of the true reason for undertaking any activity. Both Seva and Sadhana are inseparable, for, all that one feels within must be expressed through one’s actions and all one’s actions must reflect what one feels within. As the Annapoorna Seva provides breakfast to the children, it must also provide Jnana, knowledge and Vairagya, detachment to the volunteers.
Swami then spoke about the future of the Annapoorna Trust and its growth in the years to come. Swami emphasised the importance of joint efforts by the Samaj or society, Sarkar or government and Sanstha or institutions and expressed His great joy at the efforts being made in this regard for the initiative of Breakfast Seva. Swami described the upcoming expansion that will take place in this initiative with many NGO’s and government bodies but also stressed the importance of keeping sight of the greater goal, which is to reach God. This Seva is solely designed to teach knowledge of within and to develop detachment so that one can reach the divine. Swami lovingly reminded all those participating in this programme that although it is easy to become swept up in the achievements and recognition that is to come, each individual must remain anchored to spiritual moorings just like the ocean which is restless on top, but steady in its depths. Urging everyone to remain steady in the mind and pure in the heart, Swami closed His discourse saying that He would meet the Annapoorna volunteers again for the Annapoorna Trust’s anniversary celebrations in December.
Brother Anand Kadali then offered the concluding remarks and after briefly speaking about the Trust’s upcoming anniversary celebrations, brought the session to a close.
Swami then distributed Prasadam to each and every volunteer who was present, lovingly interacting and showering His love on them.