Spreading A Gospel Of Positive Energy

Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Spreading a gospel of positive energy
Don Retson, edmontonjournal.com
Published: Friday, May 30 2008

EDMONTON – Preeti Mathur beamed recalling how a complete stranger approached her to ask if her group was responsible for the good vibes at a park on Edmonton’s south side.

“What are you doing?” a face-painter asked Mathur at McIntyre Park in Old Strathcona last Saturday afternoon. “I feel positive vibrations today coming from this corner of the farmers market.”

Mathur’s comment drew smiles and approving nods the next evening at Sri Sathya Sai Baba Centre of Edmonton.

Members of the centre made up a large number of the 200 people who took part in Edmonton’s fourth annual Walk for Values the previous day. Mathur was chief organizer of the event.

The walk isn’t a fundraiser. It’s meant to create awareness of the importance of practising positive values to bring about a more caring and kinder world.

Participants pledge to practise one of five values – love, truth, peace, non-violence and right conduct. They believe that when each individual tries to change, there’s a positive impact on their families, communities and ultimately the world.

A Hindu by birth, Mathur was educated in a Catholic convent in her native India.

Today, she’s educational co-ordinator of Sai Baba Centre, a non-denominational spiritual and service organization, with millions of devotees worldwide.

During a Sunday evening devotional service, Mathur noted some passersby were so impressed they signed up on the spot and took part in the three-kilometre walk.

“It was a wonderful, motivating and energizing experience,” Mathur said of the event, which included speeches, music and the decoration of a gazebo and floats.

Mathur was attracted to the Sai Baba organization by the teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba of India, in particular his belief that all religions are facets of the same truth.

This respect for other faiths is one of the first things to strike a visitor. Each of six major world religions is featured in a glassed-in display.

During a tour, centre president T.R. Pillay explains that the elaborate and artistic work of the displays was done by Sunday school students. “We made sure that people of any faith that come in here will feel comfortable and that’s why we have these displays depicting the various faiths,” he said.

The Sai Baba centre has been around since in 1983, at various locations. Wanting a permanent home, devotees eventually bought a property at 9619 Whyte Avenue. The building once housed Studio 82. An additional $150,000 was spent on renovations to convert the old movie house into a place of worship.

For historical reasons, the facade of the building is unchanged from its Studio 82 days. However, the words “Sai Sadan” (House of God) on the exterior are a dead give away that movies aren’t what’s happening inside any longer. There’s also a message from spiritual leader Sai Baba to “Love all; serve all,” not your typical greeting at a movie theatre.

At devotional services, males in white or light-coloured clothing (symbolic of the purity of spirit each is aspiring for) sit on chairs or on the carpeted floor on one side of the huge worship hall. Females in traditional Indian saris sit on the other side of the room.

Facing all is a giant picture of Sai Baba, considered by millions of his followers around the world to be an avatar or incarnation of a divine being. Devotees revere him as a great spiritual leader, a humanitarian, a man of miracles.

There’s a great emphasis in the Sri Sathya Sai Baba Organization on service to the poor, the destitute and the sick. “Help ever; hurt never” is one of Sai Baba’s famous quotations. Another is: “Hands that serve are holier than lips that pray.”

Reference

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