First trip of the year 2010 was to Puttaparthi in Anantpur dist of Andhra pradesh. In case you are wondering, this place doesn't fall in Telengana! This hamlet has been put on the world map by Sri Sathya Sai Baba, God to millions, Guru to others, Guide to yet others, God man to the media and all of the above to many many on this planet across continental borders. Puttaparthi is some 160 KM from Bangalore. We started in the morning by 7AM on my wagon-R. Thanks to the wonderful Hyderabad highway, we did this distance in 2 hrs and 30 min without much of a break in between (on the way I also clocked a career best 140 kmph ;-) for a few minutes).
Puttaparthi is most noted for Prasanthi nilayam, the Ashram in which Swami (as Sri Sathya Sai Baba is lovingly refered to by devotees) stays for the most part of the year. Puttaparthi is also home to the Sri Sathya Sai University and Sri Sathya Sai Superspeciality Hospital among many other institutes of great importance.
This year, there was an alumni meet of the Sri Sathya Sai University from 30th Dec 2009 to 03rd Jan 2010, a period in which the alumni attempted to re-live their days at the university. Among other things, there was grama seva (the students go to the rural folk and offer clothes and food). On 2nd Jan afternoon, there was a session in the Poornachandra auditorium. The alumni were also permitted to bring their family to this session. So there we were! Swami came in by 4:30PM. HE was given a poornakumbha swagatam by the group of alumni dressed in dhotis and chanting vedams. Very aptly they were chanting a hymn from the शीक्षा वल्ली (Shiksha Valli) in which the preceptor tells the students at the time of convocation to always speak truth and follow right conduct (सत्यं वद, धर्मं चर). They led Swami in a procession to the dais. Swami asked two distinguished speakers to speak on the occasion, one was Prof. G. Venkatraman, formerly Vice chancellor of the university and Mr. Srinivasan who is the All India President of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organizations.
Prof. GV, as he is fondly called, started his message by offering his salutations to Swami and took the alumni and their families through an audio visual presentation interspersed with his comments. HE mainly thrust upon the episodes of the super speciality hospital construction at Puttaparthi and construction of 750 houses in folod hit Cuttack, Puri and Kendrapara districts of Orissa in 2008-09. The message that came clear through these two examples was Swami's love for mankind and HIS selfless initiative to eradicate the suffering of the poor and down trodden for whom nobody seems to care! The alumni were called upon not only lead a righteous life worthy of emulation but also take part in doing selfless service. He ended the show by showing a clip in which Swami had said HIS only concern was how the students would conduct themselves after passing out of the university! Very right concern, much like a mother would have for her child when he/she leaves home for studies! But I think very thought provoking concern of a Mother who has given the highest quality education without charging a single penny for the same!
The second speaker Mr. Srinivasan spoke about the role that Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organizations (SSSO) have been playing in many parts of the world. He recounted how pure drinking water has been supllied to many districts in India. The districts that are covered are Anantpur, (parts of) East Godavari, Medak, Mehboobnagar, Chennai among others. He said, the cost of all the service projects of Swami if they were to be valued would be a whopping USD 500 million (~INR 2000 Crores). Quite an amount for an organization which doesn't raise any donations through advertisements! He called the Sai Alumni to take up positions in the SSSO and help realise Swami's mission. He apprised the audience about the various activities being taken up by the SSSO across India and the world.
After the speeches Swami graciously looked at the offerings of the alumni in form of greeting cards, photographs, reports of service activities etc and blessed them profusely. He then came into the rounds briefly and moved to the Kulwanth hall to grant darshan to devotees who were waiting for a long time.
It was a memorable day for the alumni and am sure many of them will go back with a greater dedication to help realise the mission of the MASTER- selfless service to the needy!
We returned to bangalore on 03rd after spending one more day in the hallowed precincts on Prashantinilayam.
- ▼ 2010 (11)