Window to Sai Seva...
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( continued from the October 15th issue)

SERVICE BY THE LADIES…..One day, even the Super Speciality Hospital was covered. One may wonder why. After all, the people in the Hospital residential area are not poor. The reason is simple. The Hospital came within in the zone of a particular village in that area, and Swami's instructions were: "Distribute Prasadam to one and all, making no distinction between the haves and the have-nots." Swami also drew special attention to outlying houses, some of which were quite some distance away from the main road. Thus, when Mr.Chiranjeevi Rao came on his monitoring circuit, he asked the boys serving in that area, "Did you go to a house that is one kilometre away and standing all by itself?" The boys replied, "Yes sir, we did." Later, passing by the Sri Sathya Sai Airport, Mr. Rao spotted a group of people repairing the road in preparation for the Seventy-fifth Birthday. He stopped the car to check whether they too had received Swami's Prasadam.

The distribution of clothes to the destitute was handled somewhat differently. On account of various operationalDISTRIBUTING CLOTHES TO THE POOREST OF THE POOR problems, this was invariably done at a central place in the village; if a school was available, then it was in the school compound. The eligible persons were brought together with the help of village elders and village officials [where available]. Before the distribution commenced, there would be a few Bhajans and/or a prayer. After this, the senior devotees in Swami's distribution party would be invited to give away the clothes and the food. Considering the prevailing levels of poverty, distribution of clothes was no easy task. However, by Baba's Grace, everything always went off smoothly.

REACHING OUT TO THE NEEDIESTThe village visits highlighted many important facts. First of course was the extent and the depth of the poverty. It was heart-rending to see old and infirm people being even carried so that they might receive Swami's Prasadam. Those who had no human help, literally dragged themselves. For most persons associated with the service project, all this came as an eye-opener. It was difficult to believe that there were such places, barely a few kilometres away from Puttaparthi. Backward though the villages were, they were relatively clean. Another saving grace was that there was no cinema, which mercifully kept out the garish cinema-posters that disfigure walls in the towns. Also, no TV! This was a real boon one might say! No wonder the villages still retained their old-world character that Swami always speaks so highly about. The schools, where they existed, were neatly maintained though obviously lacking in facilities. In every place, as per Swami's instructions, food and laddus were distributed also to the school children. It was heart-warming to see Swami's sayings and teachings prominently displayed in many schools.

Midway through the service, the girl students of the Institute and other lady devotees made a prayer to Baba: "Swami, what about us? Why can't we also go to the villages and serve instead of just packing the food here?" Swami immediately granted them their wish and asked them to do service the following day in Bukkapatnam the neighbouring town, to which, as young Sathya, He had to walk everyday in order to attend school. On the appointed day, all the senior women in the Ashram and all the teachers and students of the Anantapur campus climbed into the trucks for a change. The road followed was round the Bukkapatnam tank, covering a distance about twenty kilometres. The short-cut across the fields that young Sathya used to take is about four or five kilometres. That path does not appear to be used any longer, there being other roads.

In Bukkapatnam, there was a huge turnout, with people there still feeling a special relationship to Swami. TheSTILL ENTHUSED AFTER A DAYS WORK main distribution centre was the town High School, and most of the girls and senior ladies headed for that spot. The local women had organised a Bhajan session, and a small altar had been improvised under the flag-staff of the school. Bukkapatnam turned out to be the biggest distribution assignment faced up to that time but the ladies were more than equal to the task. They not only handled the entire operation with great efficiency and ease but also distributed food to over a thousand teachers and staff of the school. Meanwhile, the recipients of Baba's largesse were so moved that many of them bowed and offered their salutations to Bhagavan's photo before leaving. While all this was going on, Swami sprang a surprise by sending several crates of chilled softdrinks! So, when it was lunchtime, not only did the volunteers have a nice campus with shaded trees all round to sit, relax and eat but also softdrinks to go with the lunch! A real picnic atmosphere prevailed, naturally. Thereafter, everyday Swami would send fruits (apples, bananas, oranges, or whatever) to go along with the lunch.

One of the unseen results of the Service Project was the extra-ordinary sense of unity and co-operation that it produced amongst the participants. There was an invisible web of unity, Divine Unity, clearly generated and sustained by Swami. There were innumerable opportunities for tempers to flare up, but most remarkably, such a thing never happened even once during the entire duration of the service activity. At four O'clock in the evening when most people were physically worn out, students and staff were ready to press on and do more service if required. Swami says that where enthusiasm, determination to accomplish, intellect, energy, courage and bravery exist, there may be seen the Divine Effulgence. This radiance was patently evident among the participants of the service project, both in young and old and in men as well as women. It was there on all days, from morning to evening. In fact, as the trucks and the tractors rolled in one by one into the Ashram compound in the evening, the boys would roar like a thousand lions: Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba ki Jai! [Victory and Glory to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba!].

(to be continued….)


Volume 01: PDS / 07 Date : DEC 01 2003