A simple, but touching, ceremony was held in the wee hours of the morning to commemorate the establishment of the Loka Seva Vrinda on this day, fifty-six years ago, on December 7, 1960.
A large canopy was set up in the open space in front of the Ganesha Temple in the campus and a stage set up for the morning ceremony. The back-drop had two large pictures, adorned with flower garlands, of both the Shirdi Sai as well as the Puttaparthi Sai Avatars. A sizeable gathering consisting of students, teachers and the staff of all the educational institutions located in the Muddenahalli campus, as well as a representation of devotees, from both India and abroad, had assembled to witness and participate in the holy Vedic rituals to be conducted to mark this occasion.
The ceremony started in the pleasantly cool winter morning with a Homa to Lord Ganapati. A Homa or the sacrificial fire ritual to Lord Ganapati is always conducted first to remove the obstacles in achieving our goal and mitigate the differences between people in all walks of life in both worldly and spiritual matters. The Ganesha Homa was also conducted on this sacred day, of the anniversary of the establishment of the Loka Seva Vrinda, for the welfare of mankind and to further world peace.
The Beej (Seed) Mantra used in the Ganesha Homa is:
Aum Aum Shreem Hreem Kleem Glowm Gum Ganapathaye
Vara Varadha Murthaye Sarvajanam Maye Vashamaanaya Swaha
AUM – the holy word.
SHREEM HREEM KLEEM GLOWM – tantric words to invoke God.
GANAPATHAYE – Lord Ganesha.
VARADHA – keep away.
SARVAJANMAYE – all kinds of.
VASHAMAANYA – squabble.
SWAHA – holy chant.
This very powerful mantra is chanted to invoke Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. It is recommended that this Mantra be recited before starting any new plan or work as it removes any obstacles and increases the chances of success in one’s efforts. The Ganesha Beej or Moola Mantra was chanted while simultaneously making offerings of fruits, flowers, grains etc. into the sacrificial fire, whilst everyone prayed that all people engage in noble activities for Loka Kalyanam (welfare of the world).
Following the Ganesha Homa, a Durga Puja was also conducted to neutralise our enemies, particularly the six inner enemies (called the Arishadvargas) – the six passions of the mind like Kama (Lust), Krodha (Anger), Lobha (Greed), Moha (Delusion), Mada (Ego), and Matsarya (Jealousy). The Durga Puja helps in removing these negative characteristics which prevent man from attaining Moksha or salvation.
At the conclusion of the Puja all eyes turned towards the gate of ‘Sai Anandam’, the Divine Abode of the Lord, anticipating His arrival for the concluding ceremony. Not one to disappoint the ardent desire of His devotees, the Lord arrived immediately accompanied by Sri B N Narasimha Murthy.
He quickly went to the Yagya shala, the place where the sacrificial ceremony was conducted, for the Purna Ahuti, the final sacrificial fire offering that brings the Yagna to a close. Swami, as the Yagna Purusha, stood right by the fireside accepting all the offering, as Sri Rameshji and Sri Sridhar, the officiating priests, made the final offering of clothes, precious grains and stones, flowers and fruits, Ghee (clarified butter) etc. into the fire in this concluding ceremony.
At the conclusion of the Yagna, Swami slowly wended His way to the stage, while talking to both students and guests. After taking His place on the stage, Swami signaled a student in the front row to be the first speaker of the morning.
Sri Shiv Prasad, a student of the Institute, touched upon the quality of the education being imparted in the Institutions as not being mere secular education but as one that guides the students on their spiritual journey to God. Tracing the history of the Institutions at Alike and Muddenahalli, the student stated that these campuses were founded by Anna (Sri Madiyal Narayan Bhat) on the ten principles dear to him including lawfulness, loyalty, honesty, patriotism etc. and these principles of Anna still guided their working. He further stated that though all of us are undeserving, it is through Swami’s Blessings that we are all here, and being given this golden opportunity to participate in the Divine Mission.
Though we cannot really give Swami anything, we continue to receive abundantly His gifts and blessings, he said. Our student speaker, Sri Shiv Prasad, exhorted everyone to introspect and meditate on the question: How can we best express our gratitude to Swami? What can we do for Him? And certainly, if we sit and introspect, he concluded, Swami will respond and show us the task that we can do to participate in His Mission.
The next speaker was Sri B N Narasimha Murthy, Chief Mentor, the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Institutions. Sri Narasimha Murthy talked about the great work happening in Karnataka under the guidance and direct command of Swami. Saying how the work speaks for itself, Sri Murthy expressed that technology like Google Maps are show casing the beautiful iconic buildings in the different campuses, built in the recent past, under the guidance of Swami.
Truly, Sri Murthy said, He is doing His own work and always everything happens only by His Grace. He mentioned an example of how three days prior they had been to Gadag to select a site for the girls’ campus. They had inspected six sites but were not satisfied; on the way back at a suggestion they stopped to see one more site and it appealed to them. When the photos were shown to Swami, He selected the last site and also commented that there was a garden close by. When Sri Murthy later showed the site on Google Maps to Swami, Swami pointed out the nearby garden.
Similarly, Sri Narasimha Murthy narrated another example of how Swami appeared in the hut of a pious couple in Bali, whose house had been witness to many miracles, and asked them to build an Ashram to comfortably accommodate the surging crowd of visitors. The poor couple pleaded that they did not have the wherewithal to build an Ashram. Swami asked them to pick the site and that things would move forward. When the site was picked, they found the requisite money under Swami’s silver Padukas. And later when miraculously honey, Kumkum, Vibhuti and turmeric started manifesting in the newly built Ashram, Swami remarked that these were the work of His angels who were also His instruments and serving Him in the same way as we humans do.
Sri Murthy said that the seeds for this wonderful work were sown 56 years ago. Swami’s instruments then were Sri Madiyal Narayan Bhat and Sri Adi deva Nanda, a scholar from the Ramakrishna Ashram. He concluded by saying that today’s students were the most fortunate, for all they have to do is to decide that they will only do whatever Swami tells them to do. And Swami, in turn, will look after all their needs, take care of their parents and fulfil all their ambitions if it is driven with the motivation to serve society.
In His Divine Discourse Swami explained that the motto of the Institution itself asks the question – How are we going to attain Self-redemption? And the motto itself provides the answer – by service to society. He also mentioned that though the founder, Sri Madiyal Narayan Bhat, was a precocious child born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he still decided to offer all his talents, knowledge, wisdom and wealth for the service of society.
Sri Madiyal Narayan Bhat sowed the seeds of sacrifice in a group of young men and this small seed of Sai Vrinda, planted in Madiyal 56 years ago, has now become a mighty tree. Swami further said that the students from the ‘Centre for Human Excellence’ are going to graduate in a few months, and spread out to all parts of Karnataka to carry out this mission of Madiyal Narayan Bhat at Swami’s command. Swami added that Madiyal Narayan Bhat’s thoughts, as he was a great patriot, was about serving this country. But as Swami is here for the entire world, He will send these messengers to all parts of this world. They will grow into men and women of great character and sacrifice and spread all around the world, thereby transforming the world itself.
Swami concluded His discourse by stating that on this Foundation Day, let us all lay this foundation of sacrifice in all our hearts on which shall be built the empire of transformation of the world. There is no better way to be attached to God than by attaching oneself to the service of the people, for Manava Seva is Madhava Seva, Jana Seva is Janardhana Seva, Nara Seva is Narayana Seva.
On conclusion of the Divine Discourse, Mangala arathi was taken. While Prasadam was being distributed, the officiating priest went around sprinkling Theertham or the holy water on one and all.