Theme – Harmony of Religions
The National Youth Meet 2016 began with much aplomb and fanfare. The holy precincts of Sathya Sai Grama bore a festive look, welcoming all the delegates, students and guests from across India. Close to 1,400 delegates had gathered at the Sri Sathya Sai Premamrutham auditorium to take part in the three-day Meet.
The morning’s proceedings commenced at 10.00 A.M when Bhagawan was led into the tastefully decorated Sri Sathya Sai Premamrutham auditorium by the traditional Poornakumbham and Nadaswara Vadana. As soon as Bhagawan ascended on to the dais along with the dignitaries, veda chanting by the students of Sai Loka Seva Pre-University College, Muddenahalli reverberated through the hall.
Felicitation of guests and lighting of the lamp signal the official commencement of the Meet
Formal proceedings commenced with felicitation of the distinguished set of dignitaries, which included – Ms Gulshaa Begum, President, Global Peace Mission, Professor H.S Bhatia, former ISRO Scientist and State Secretary in Gurudwara, Sri Guru Govind Singh Sabha, Bangalore, Father Charles Ogada, Founder and President of the Spiritan Self Awareness Initiative, Nigeria, Rabbi Ezekiel Issac Malekar, Honorary Secretary, Judah Hyam Synagogue, New Delhi, His Holiness Sajjadanashin Syed Zainul Abedin Ali Khan, Head Ajmer Sharif Dargah, the Guest of Honour Sri M, Social Reformer and Educationist, Founder, Sri Satsang Foundation, Dr G Parameshwara, Honourable Minister, State of Karnataka, Swami Nikhileshwarananda, Head – Vadodara Centre, Sri Ramakrishna Math & Mission, Venerable Gheshe Lhakdor, Former Interpreter and Religious Assistant to His Holiness, The Dalai Lama, Sri Gangadhara Bhatt and Sri Narayana Rao of Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Trust. This was followed by the ceremonial lighting of the lamp, signalling the official opening of the National Youth Meet
Sri B N Narasimha Murthy, Chief Mentor of the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Institutions, in his introductory address to the audience said that the purpose of the Meet was to enlighten the delegates about the universality and harmony of all religions. “If there was no understanding of all the religions, then world peace would always remain an illusion” he explained. He also reminded the delegates about their good fortune at being able to listen to the many religious and spiritual stalwarts, who had gathered for the occasion.
This was followed by a short speech by Sri M. He enthralled the audience with a very interesting explanation for his name. He said that M was the first letter in the word ‘Manav’ in Hindi and in the word ‘Manushya’ in Sanskrit. Both the words meant ‘human being’. He explained that in essence everyone is ‘M’ and urged the young delegates to understand and act upon it.
The next speaker was Sri G. Parameshwara, who spoke about how no religion teaches hatred and animosity and that it was totally manmade. “It is not that we haven’t been taught, it’s just that we haven’t practised.” Reminding the delegates about Buddha’s teaching of how desire is the cause of misery, he urged the audience to reduce their desires. He ended his talk, stressing on the fact that it was now high time to start practising the principles of the many religions.
Bhagawan delivered His divine message thereafter, and said that even though Muslims adore Allah, Christians adore Jesus, Parsis worship Zoroaster and so on, and all should actually declare that there is only one God. Just like how water is called by many names but its effect of quenching the thirst is same, though religions are many, God is one, Bhagawan explained. “Only the wise see unity in diversity. When there is unity, there is purity followed by divinity.” Bhagawan then concluded His discourse, blessing everyone to gather good thoughts from all directions.
After the divine discourse, there was a quarter hour break post which the delegates were fresh and ready for keynote addresses by Sri M and Sri Nikhileshwarananda.
The Keynote Address by Sri M left everyone enchanted by the humility and simplicity of his talk. He revealed that the key to his physical and mental stamina was keeping hatred out of the mind. Wondering how we can fight in the name of religion given that the supreme reality is too vast to be conceived, he said that the essence of all religions was the same. He ended his talk, hoping that there would be a time when people all over the world would come to India seeking wisdom and learn the truth that the essence of all religions is ultimately the same.
His heartfelt talk was followed by an equally mesmerising address by Swami Nikhileshwarananda, Head, Vadodara Centre, Sri Ramakrishna Math & Mission. He said that the only way to avoid fighting and starting a new religion as a cause was by accepting all the religions as equal. He interspersed his speech with a lot of humour, and left the audience in raptures.
The morning session ended with the offering of the Sarva Dharma prayer.