Temples of Learning
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Devotees often say: "Swami's students are wonderful. But then, they are close to Swami throughout their stay in the Institute . What happens to them when they go out? Do they still cherish the values they are exposed to in the Institute?" Of course they do, and many are the stories that testify to this fact. As the Bible declares, it is only a house built on sand that collapses when facing a storm; a house built on rock does not. The character of Sai Students is built on the firm rock of Faith, Faith in Bhagavan Baba.

Reproduced below, is an article written by Gene Massey of United States of America. Gene's home is in Hollywood. He comes often to Prashanti Nilayam for Swami's Darshan, and while he is here, he invariably helps us out in various ways with his expertise. To him belongs the credit for the wonderful film on Creation that one sees in the Chaitanya Jyothi. Swami blessed Gene by seeing the entire film [in English] on the inauguration day. One year later, Swami again came to Chaitanya Jyothi to see the Telugu version that Gene had produced in the meantime .

Gene's article speaks for itself, describing as it does the Seva that he witnessed. Old students, both the boys and the girls, keep doing such Seva all the time, wherever they are. They leave the portals of the institute, but do not leave the path He has shown…..


The Village for the Old Boys Service CampSpeaking once to Sathya Sai Baba, Jack Hislop used the phrase "dry Western heart" to describe himself. I had often thought that those words also applied to me. Imagine for a moment, if you will, a selfless person who chooses a career as a teacher, a doctor, a nurse, a social worker or any number of occupations that deal with helping other souls become wiser, or healthier, or better off in some way. Now imagine a fellow like me who chose the path of fame and fortune, seeking a career as a movie star, and failing that, a career as a Hollywood film director. The years I spent in search of such a career in the spotlight left me a lost and greatly troubled soul who thought he wanted and needed the admiration of others to be whole and happy.

The Mission of Sai is to change hearts, even the hardest and driest of hearts, and it is to those souls that He has often given the most of His much-needed Grace. A Mother sees her child playing happily in the back yard and knowing he is fine, she lets him run free. But when the child falls, or is hurt, or is troubled, she will bring that child in, and hold him close, and comfort him.

Gene and Sai Prakash- In ActionSuch was the Grace of Sai with me. A lost and troubled soul, with a dust-dry heart, He has brought me in, held me close, and has given me a glimpse of His most wonderful Divine Love. I say, "glimpse" because His Love is fathomless, infinite, and cannot be described in words. It must be experienced.

My recent experience of His Wondrous Love actually began with a prayer. Don't all good things begin with a prayer? One evening, I was sitting in my room at Prashanti and actually said out loud, "Swami, I just want to experience Your Love. I want to really feel You in my Heart."

A Medical Camp in the VillageSwami was quick in his answer. The next morning, Dr. Venkataraman ("GV") called me in and asked me if I would like to film an "Old Boys Seva." Though I did not know what exactly it meant, I immediately accepted, as I have learned that the Sai Army is one army where you won't be sorry if you volunteer. The plan called for me to accompany GV's colleague, young Sai Prakash, a former student of Swami's School at Puttaparthi and a graduate from the Masters Program at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. We were to film a Seva (selfless service) project in a village about an hour from Puttaparthi, organised by Swami's "Old Boys," as former students of Swami's University are called. They had all left College many years ago but had come back to do Seva to the less fortunate villagers. Apparently, they do this regularly.

Hands that ServeSwami's Divine Plan for Changing Hearts usually includes putting you together with those souls who can do you the most good in progressing along the Divine path, and this partnership was no exception. Sai Prakash is truly a fine fellow and I was assigned the task of teaching him what I knew about filmmaking. However, when one works for Swami, one soon finds out Swami's real purpose, which is to make one understand that it is not the apparent task that is important, but one with a deeper, even greater goal behind it. This task assigned to me was no exception. Superficially it appeared to be a filming expedition, but I would soon discover just how important my partnership with Sai Prakash was, and how important the filming of this Seva project would be in my own transformation. I would also soon learn that, even at his young age, Sai Prakash had such a fine character and Devotion to Sai that he could teach me a lot more than I could teach him.

You see, the graduates of Swami's schools are not ordinary human beings. They are truly Divine Instruments. Swami's students are pearls, whereas the rest of us are plastic beads. You have to know them to come to realize this, because on the outside they look just like you and me. They walk around, wear the same clothes, talk, eat the same food, and look like you and me, but they are different. They are selfless. They are living examples of Swami's teachings.

Health n Hygiene Class by an Old Sudent DoctorSwami has often spoken of the "Golden Age" and how it will soon be upon us. He has also said that selfless people, who want to work for the good of all mankind, is what the world needs now. To effect this great change in all mankind, Swami is "seeding the world" with these great young souls and the future of our world is literally in their hands. My Great Blessing was the opportunity to see these souls in action and to work closely with Sai Prakash.

So that morning after Darshan, Sai Prakash and I packed our cameras and joined the expedition to the distant village. We travelled by car through several small villages along the way, any one of which could have used much help, as these people have nothing. We travelled so far into the backcountry that at one point near the end of our journey we had to get out and walk, as the road was so rough.

In Action at the PharmacyArriving at the village, we could see that many preparations had been made for this Seva project and the "Old Boys" had been working for several days. In addition to the students, a large group of doctors had come from Hyderabad and one aspect of this Seva Project was a medical camp where all the villagers would get to see a doctor. A fully stocked pharmacy had been set up to dispense medicines as prescribed by the doctors. A veterinary clinic had been set up to treat the animals. There was also a noon meal planned for the whole village, and the day was to be capped off with a procession and Bhajans singing praise to the Lord.

The first thing that struck me was the simplicity of these beautiful villagers. They were so loving and so innocent. I marvelled at their humility and tremendous gratitude for what was being done in their village. The wide-eyed children surrounded us and looked at us with such innocence, such humility and such Love in their eyes - His Love.

Veterinary CampThe boys were scurrying around preparing lunch, preparing to treat the people, and assisting the doctors. Many of the Old Boys were now even doctors themselves. Tents had been set up to provide for privacy as the doctors gave each villager a personal consultation before they were sent off to the makeshift "pharmacy" with their prescription. The doctors tried to give each villager a prescription, even if they were just vitamins, so no one would feel left out. Sai Prakash and I did our best to film the most pertinent activities and we interviewed some of the doctors. I was particularly impressed with these great Devotees who spoke on camera. They spoke so lovingly about Swami's Mission of selfless service to the less fortunate people in the world that at times I felt that Swami must have selected them personally for these interviews. They knew His teachings by heart, and could recite so many of them without a second thought! These Devotees were such wonderful, loving examples of His teachings that I will forever remember what they said that day on camera.

One young lady who spoke on camera will be forever embedded in my mind. She was the village schoolteacher. This highly educated young lady lived here in the village and taught over three hundred young children, and without her they would not have the opportunity for an education. For a moment, I imagined the primitive conditions she was enduring to be teaching here in this remote village, and thought about the much more comfortable life in some nearby city she had given up to be here with these children. As she spoke, I could see a deep love, a Divine Love shining forth from her heart. She was His Instrument, a pure and loving instrument, and a selfless soul, His Divine Will acting through her.

In addition to the medical treatment for the villagers, several Devotees had come who were veterinarians. They had set up an area to treat the village animals and inoculate them against certain diseases. They also provided the villagers with certain medicines to be added to the animals' food. This was a particularly interesting thing to film, as the animals did not especially like to get an injection. They moved around a lot and would not hold still, so to film them we had a heck of a time finding a good angle without getting kicked!

Lunch at the CampAt noon, a hot meal was served, and as we filmed we could see the villagers were extremely grateful. Living in the western world, where so many of us have too much to eat, we often forget this great need of many of our less fortunate brothers and sisters. Many people in the west just don't know what it is to be truly hungry. One of the doctors explained to me why many of the villagers are malnourished. When they do have a little money to buy food they buy rice, because they can buy more rice with their money than they can buy vegetables. The greater volume of rice is more filling, and they are so hungry that they just want to fill their stomachs. However, in doing so they are missing many of the important nutrients they need to be healthy, so the vitamins provided to the villagers are a much-needed supplement to their diets.

The day wound down and we prepared to leave. I had packed up my camera and was waiting in the small car to depart. A group of beautiful young children completely surrounded this car I was seated in, and they all began to look at me. After a moment, one child said "Sai Ram." I smiled and said "Sai Ram" in return. Another child said "Sai Ram." I smiled again and said "Sai Ram." Soon all the children joined in this Sai game. "Sai Ram" each child would say. "Sai Ram" I would say back to them. Again "Sai Ram" they would say. "Sai Ram" I would say back to them again. Over and over they would say "Sai Ram" and I would say "Sai Ram" back to each child. I looked into their eyes. They were so innocent, so humble, and so pure. I could see that they wanted nothing but His Love. For a moment, perhaps just a split second, I felt it come through me. I'll never forget it.



Volume 01: PDS / 05 Date : NOV 01 2003