Window to SAISEVA...              
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Continued from the previous issue…

The Road Less TravelledThe moment the word 'Go' was given, Swami's teachers and the students swung into action. As always, very little time was available to get organised; but then, in His typical fashion, Swami made sure that everything went right, to drive home the point [once more!] that He is the real doer.

Statistics on paper hardly reveal much, impressive though they maybe. Yes, over two hundred villages and six hundred hamlets had to be served. About half a million food packets and laddus had to be distributed, and about a hundred thousand pieces of cloth had to be given to the poor and destitute in the villages. But how was one to get to these villages in the first place, especially when were hardly any motorable roads? How were estimates of the population in those villages to be obtained when even Public Administration for villages made ad hoc estimates? Where was the food to be cooked? Who would do the packing and who would organise the distribution? There were many pertinent and not so pliable puzzles But nobody had any time even to think about these! There was no need to either. They were all taken care of by the Master, as He went about, executing His Master plan.

Sai- Taking Care EverywhereEverything got organised with lightning speed as always happens when Swami runs the show. All questions suddenly stumbled upon their answers, as if by magic! Collection of statistics, sorting the clothes and readying them for distribution, the cooking, and the packing - tough though all these were, they actually formed the easy part. More difficult was the preparation of maps [hardly anything existed to start with], route planning, lining up the vehicles for distribution, and, above all the logistic planning. Experts in Information Technology talk of paperless office. Here was a massive project literally done without any pieces of paper or memos sent from anyone to anyone! The plain fact was that Swami gave absolutely no time for all this.

God's work is never easy, and what was feared came true; there were no maps available to get to the villages! So parties were hurriedly sent in advance to scout all the areas to be covered, and monitor all the so-called roads/mud tracks to be taken. Based on the information gathered, route maps were hurriedly prepared and photocopies made. The volunteers were organised into groups, each group servicing a set of nearby villages. Team-leaders and co-ordinators were identified by the senior teachers, and detailed briefing was given to them every evening. Over a dozen trucks were commandeered and a few tractor-trailers as well. Portable wireless sets were procured and fitted to the trucks. In addition, several people were given walkie-talkies so that they could communicate with each other and also the mobile units. As if all this was not enough, a control room was set up in Prasanthi Nilayam and a mobile repeater wireless outpost was arranged to be erected each day in one central location in the distribution area to provide anchorage and communication assistance.

Walking the Way, to Map it OutThe action began on October 31th at the Pedda Venkama Raju Kalyana Mandapam [the Paatha Mandiram of the pre-1950 days].It was the first day of GRAMA SEVA. In keeping with the popular adage, charity was to begin at home.Swami had decided that the Grama Seva should be first done at Puttaparthi. In the morning, after Swami came out for Darshan, all the boys and teachers rose and went around the Mandir chanting Vedas and singing Bhajans while Swami stood on the veranda smiling, watching, and showering His Divine Grace. The procession streamed out of the Sai Kulwant Hall to reassemble at the Kalyana Mandapam. From there, all the teachers and students went in a procession, singing Bhajans, to the Siva temple that now marks the birth place of Swami. The procession then wound its way back to the Kalyana Mandapam for the formal commencement of the distribution. Meanwhile, Swami the ever-anxious Mother, came to the Kalyana Mandapam to see if everything was alright - the human-aspect of the Living God!

On the way...But, not on the Road!The compound of the Kalyana Mandapam was teeming with the poor and the destitute of Puttaparthi, who were then given sweets, food and clothes by the people assigned for duty there. Others fanned out in various directions, moving through the town distributing food and sweets from house to house, to each and every member of the family, irrespective of whether the persons were poor or rich. The students and teachers went not only to the residences but also to the shops, telephone booths, bus stand, street vendors, and the various hutment colonies. No one was left out. Everywhere, with a smile, the boys said, "Sai Ram. We are privileged to offer to you these sweets and food which come with Love, Blessings and the Grace of Bhagavan Baba."

They March Out for Sai's workFor everyone, it was a new experience, somewhat tiring but very rewarding nevertheless. Swami came out early for Darshan that afternoon. Some of the teachers and students had returned but many were still to come back. Soon they also trudged in, bushed, but beaming with satisfaction. But Swami was not very happy. Why? Because many boys had not eaten lunch. They were busy doing service, and after that rushed for Darshan. So, we got strict instructions, "From tomorrow, all of you will eat promptly at 11.30 A.M. No exceptions and no excuses. You may suspend service for a while to have lunch. After eating, you may resume service!" Words from a concerned Mother, to Her children.

 Procession in PuttaparthiDay One was a mere curtain-raiser. After all, Puttaparthi was home and there were no serious problems with roads, maps, or even logistics. Day two would prove a lot tougher. And so would every other day, as one went farther and farther, into more remote villages. But it also promised to be more exciting and challenging.

 All begin  Door to Door...Heart to Heart
Reaching out, for a Gift of Love Love Beyond all barriers
to be continued...

Volume 01: PDS / 03 Date : OCT 01 2003