Puttaparthi to get total makeover

Puttaparthi to get total makeover
Express News Service
First Published : 26 Feb 2010 05:10:00 AM IST

HYDERABAD: Puttaparthi will get a new makeover as the State Government is gearing up to take up works worth about Rs 5 crore before commencement of the 85th birthday celebrations of Sri Sathya Sai Baba on November 23. Chief Minister K Rosaiah today directed various departments to speed up works pertaining to roads, drainages, drinking water supply and other beautification works at the earliest in coordination with the Puttaparthi Urban Development Authority.

The works to be taken up include repair and maintenance of roads worth Rs 3 crore by the Roads and Buildings Department, completion of Rs 1.64 crore worth road works by the Panchayat Raj Department and completion of the drinking water supply scheme at a cost of Rs 75 lakh by the Rural Water Supply Department. The Tourism Department will take up beautification of bunds around the Chitravati river and other works. All these works will be completed before the 85th birthday celebration of Sri Satya Sai Baba on November 23, keeping in view of large number of devotees including foreigners visiting Puttaparthi on the occasion.

Tourism and Information Minister J Geetha Reddy, Roads and Buildings Minister Galla Aruna, Municipal Administration and Urban Development Minister Anam R a m n a r ay a n Re d d y, Panchayat Raj Minister Botsa Satyanarayana and other officials were present.

Express Buzz Reference

Devotee Gifts Diamond Studded Gold Crown At Shirdi

Sai Baba

Sai Baba

Devotee Gifts Diamond Studded Gold Crown At Shirdi
August 25th, 2009

Nashik: A devotee has donated a diamond-studded gold crown worth Rs 1.3 crore to Sri Sai Baba temple in Shirdi through a ‘gupta daan’ (secret donation).

The union minister, Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh, and his wife, Vrushali Deshmukh, on Monday handed over the crown to the temple in the presence of Saibaba Sansthan’s chairperson Jayant Sasane, deputy chairman Shankarrao Kolhe and others.

However, on the request of the devotee, hailing from Mumbai, the Sansthan has kept the donor’s name a secret.

Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust also cancelled its decision to take Shri Saibaba’s ‘paduka’ (metal-slippers) to the US by its trustees following strong opposition from the villagers of Shirdi, Sansthan sources said on Tuesday.

Deccan Chronicle Reference

Karnataka CM visits Puttaparthi

Karnataka CM visits Puttaparthi

Chief Minister Yeddyurappa With Sai Baba

Chief Minister Yeddyurappa With Sai Baba

Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa seeking the blessings of Sri Satya Saibaba at Puttaparthi in Anantapur district on Monday.

Express News Service
First Published : 02 Jun 2009 03:40:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 02 Jun 2009 10:10:28 AM IST

ANANTAPUR: Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa had darshan of Sri Satya Saibaba at Prashanti Nilayam in Puttaparthi today.

He was accompanied by Karnataka Minister Katta Subramanyam Naidu. After having darshan of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Yeddyurappa returned to Bangalore by a special helicopter.

Local legislator Palle Raghunatha Reddy gave a sendoff to the Karnataka Chief Minister at the airport.

Expresss Buzz Reference

President Of India Visits Sathya Sai Baba At Prasanthi Nilayam

President Of India Visits Sathya Sai Baba At Prasanthi Nilayam

President Of India Smt Pratibha Devisingh Patil Visits Sathya Sai Baba At Prashanti Nilayam

President Of India Smt Pratibha Devisingh Patil Visits Sathya Sai Baba At Prashanti Nilayam

This day happens to be a special day in the annals of Prasanthi Nilayam as Her Excellency The President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil visited Prasanthi Nilayam. The President who came by a chartered Indian Air Force Aircraft was received at the Sri Sathya Sai Airport by the Collector of Anantapur, Secretary of Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, Sri K. Chakravarthi, Vice Chancellor of Sri Sathya Sai University Sri Vishwanath Pandit, Former Vice Chancellor Prof. G. Venkataraman and other dignitaries.

The President who came into the Sai Kulwant Hall at 4:35 p.m. for His Divine Darshan was blessed by Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba with a half an hour audience. At the end of the interview Bhagawan blessed the Presidential support staff with Vibhuti Prasad. After the President and her entourage left the Nilayam, the three students who had performed Burra Katha on the previous day on the life of Mother Easwaramma gave another performance on the life of Shirdi Sai Baba.

As is the custom, the artistes began their performance by offering their salutations to Lord Ganesh. As they were offering their salutations to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the traditional garlanding took place. The students began their interesting narration on the life of Shirdi Sai Baba supplementing it with songs and humour. Delineating on the birth of Shirdi Sai Baba, the artistes said that He was born to Hindu parents Devagiriamma and Gangabhavadia. The Divine couple Parvati-Parameswara appeared before Devagiriamma and Gangabhavadia and foretold that He would be born to them as their third child. The couple who were childless till then gave birth to a daughter and son. On 28th September 1835, Shirdi Sai Baba was born in the village of Patri. Though born to Hindu parents, Shirdi Sai Baba was brought by a Muslim couple. As a child, He used to go to a Hindu temple and proclaim about Allah and speak about Rama in a Mosque. He advocated the concept “Sabka Malik Ek Hai” (One God governs all).

From the year 1858, Baba lived in Shirdi. He spent his early days under a neem tree and later lived in the Masjid which he named as Dwarakamai or Mother Dwaraka. Baba used to feed the fakirs and devotees and even cook for them. Baba had a profound love and compassion for suffering humanity. The master used to personally attend to the needs of the sick as a physician and a nurse. Baba distributed the holy ‘Udi’ – the panacea for all troubles to his devotees. ‘Udi’ is the ash from the perpetual sacred fire – Dhuni lit by Baba. The Udi is the token of His divine grace to all who come to Him for help. He begged for alms and shared what he got with his devotees and all the creatures around him.

Once during the festival of lights, Deepavali, Baba wanted to light lamps in Dwarakamai. As the shopkeepers refused to give Him oil, Baba just poured water on the lamps and lighted them. One can call it was only a tip of the iceberg. Baba performed many such miracles in His lifetime. He lived for 83 years and attained Samadhi in the year 1918.

Thus ended another beautiful narration by the three artistes. Bhagawan blessed the Prasadam to be distributed to all the devotees. Arati was offered to Bhagawan at 6.00 p.m. before He retired to His Abode.


Prez Has Darshan Of SaiBaba

President Pratibha Patil being given a warm welcome on arrival at Puttaparthi on Thursday.
Express News Service
First Published : 08 May 2009 09:30:29 AM IST
Last Updated : 08 May 2009 11:42:41 AM IST

PUTTAPARTI: President Pratibha Patil today had a darshan of Sri Satya Saibaba and later had a private audience with the Holy man for over 30 minutes at the Prashantha Nilayam here.

The President arrived here at the Satya Sai Airport from Banagalore at 4.10 p.m. and straight away drove to Srinivasa Guest House in the Prashanthi Nilayam. After spending some time at the Guest house, Pratibha Patil drove down to Sai Kulvant Hall.

She first had the darshan of the Swamy and later went inside the green room and had a personal talk with Satya Saibaba for about half hour. She left Puttaparti for Bangalore at 5.20 p.m.

Satya Sai Central Trust members, Industries Minister Geetha Reddy, Ananatapur ZP chairperson T Kavitha, Collector V Anilkumar, Rayalaseema IG R P Thakur and SP MK Singh received the President with official honours.

Police made elaborate bandobast for the visit of the President. Srinivasa Guest House was taken over by the SPG. Besides dog squads and bomb disposable squads, Armed Reserve Police, seven DSPs, 14 CIs, 26 SIs and 400 constables were deployed for the security.

Express Buzz Reference

Thousands Of Sai Baba Devotees Receive Anna Dana

Sai Baba Of Shirdi

Sai Baba Of Shirdi

Thousands Of Sai Baba Devotees Receive Anna Dana
Shirdi (Maharashtra), Wed, 18 Mar 2009 ANI

Tens of thousands of devotees of Sai Baba were recently given Anna Dana at the annual prasadalaya function here, taking forward a tradition first started by the Sai Baba himself.

Devotees accepted the delicious prasad at a nominal rate.

Sources at the Shree Sai Baba Sansthan Trust said, nearly 1.5 crore devotees benefited from the prasad and the meals that were served.

The trust spends Rs.25 crore annually on the prasadlaya. The donation is considered very valuable in today’s age, which is known as KALYUG in the Hindu mythological context.

According to the trust, one should constantly endeavor to donate and help the needy, especially those who are suffering from hunger and malnutrition.

Legend has it that Sai Baba used to feed the hungry in his own unique way, taking the whole process to a spiritual plane.

He used to prepare the food himself, and ground the spices on a grinding stone. He also used to purchase foodgrains that were to be cooked and subsequently distributed by him personally.

The trust is really a place of faith for all Sai Baba devotees. They relish their food, which can be procured for as little as Rs.5 per person and Rs.2 for a child.

On any given normal day, 35,000 to 40,000 devotees attend the activities at the Sai Baba Trust. During occasions like festivals and vacations, the number goes up to 70,000 or 80,000.

One hall can accommodate up to 5,000 devotees, and a meal often includes servings of rice, roti, dal, two vegetables and a sweetmeat.

Free provision of food is given to the poor, blind, the physically challenged and hermits.

The prasadalaya purchases the foodgrains once a year, and it includes 9000 quintals of wheat, 5,500 quintals of rice, 6,500 quintals of besan, 9,500 quintals of sugar, and 11,000 quintals of tur dal, besides 6,200 quintals of vegetables which are stored in the cold storage of the trust. Another 2000 quintals of food grains is also purchased every year.

The prasadalaya operates for twelve hours every day and has 474 workers, 404 of whom are permanent.

The prasadalaya is the largest of its kind in India. A one storeyed building which has been built on seven acres of land at a cost of Rs.20 crores. (ANI)

News Track India Reference

Three Handfuls Of Dust

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba

Three Handfuls Of Dust

Lord Shiva is Bhola Nath, one who is easily pleased. Intense yearning suffused with devotion and faith wins His heart. Every devotee who flocks to Prasanthi Nilayam to celebrate the The Sacred Vigil on Shivarathri Night in the Divine Presence will have his or her version of this immense mercy and bounteous Love of Lord Shiva. Read on for an account by Dr. A. Ranga Rao whose family was tested thoroughly of their yearning and devotion before being given the taste of the nectarous Divine Presence of Lord Shiva in Prasanthi Nilayam, as published in Sanathana Sarathi. Feb 1969.

We yearned long to witness the Sivaratri Festival and last year, we started from Madras, in the early hours of the previous day itself, in our car. We thought we could reach the Presence of Sathya Sai Baba, Prasanthi Nilayam by 5. P. M., and have His Darshan in the evening.

To our bad luck, the car started giving trouble. The engine was getting too hot and every ten miles, the car came to a stop! We had to wait in the hot sun for hours, every time, for the engine to cool down. Imagine our plight when we realised at 10 P. M., that we had covered only 70 miles, through that hapless vehicle! Fortunately, we were able to secure the services of a good mechanic, who set to work, pretty quick; but, he too could not set the car on her wheels again, before 5 A. M., on Sivaratri day! We were at Ranipet, then; all hopes of being present at the magnificent and inspiring flag Hoisting Function at the Nilayam were blown away. Nevertheless, from the smooth running of our car, we were confident we could be at the Holy Kshetra by 11 A. M., in time for the Vibhuti Abhishekam, if all goes well. The milestones were flying past quite fast. We were in quite a happy mood, singing Bhajan.

Then, the petrol pump gave us the slip; it failed. Twelve miles after Chikballapur the car came to a halt! The poor thing had taken us merrily on many occasions to the Nilayam from Madras; but, this day, it was haunted by a series of mishaps. Other cars were racing along the road, with devotees anxious to reach the Lord’s Presence. Some noticed us; many did not. One car stopped; the chauffeur walked towards our car and attempted to set it right in all earnestness.

Suddenly, to our utter consternation, the petrol caught fire. Big tongues of flame were rising to the skies. The friendly driver was caught in the flames, but, he jumped out in the nick of time, and saved himself. His dhoti was on fire; he managed to scotch the flames and get back to his car. I lost all hope of the vehicle, I was all in a shiver. It was impossible to put out the fire. But, my friend, Kameswara Rao, called out Sai Ram, Sai Ram, most piteously. He threw three handfuls of road dust on the ghastly flames. And, the miracle happened. The fire became extinct and the car was free from any sign of fire! Master of all the Elements, Baba heard the agony and ordered the Fire to leave the car alone! It obeyed.

We gave the driver some money and a Dhoti to wear; he was too dazed at the miraculous extinction of petrol flames, for, he knew that the tank was full of the combustible stuff. I boarded a bus that took me back, twelve miles and I got a mechanic from there, to repair the petrol pump. He brought all the implements necessary for the operation, and started his work, promising to restore the car to perfection, in half an hour.

But, his treatment went on, endlessly. It was 3 o’ clock already and he was still twiddling. By 3-30 P. M., we got desperate again. Cars sped past us, towards the Nilayam. One party took pity on us and gave us some coffee from their flasks, saying, “Take this; it is sent by Baba!” It was such a welcome refresher. For, we were really very thirsty and very hungry. They offered to take us along with them and pressed us to get into their car; but, there was no one except a milestone to whom we could entrust that car of ours!

I told those kind friends, just to persuade them to proceed, “Don’t worry; Baba will not start the evening meeting, until we arrive. He would certainly take us there to witness His Glory, the Lingodbhava.” They left us, with a heavy heart.

Meanwhile, time was flying. It was 5 P. M. It was 5-30 P. M. And, there were still a little over 50 miles to go, driving that recalcitrant car. All hopes of seeing the Lingodbhava Vanished.

Suddenly, the pump began working. The mechanic smiled, though it was working only intermittently. I requested him to sit in the dicky, and shake the pump, whenever it stopped working. I sat at the wheel, and the car moved.

It was a fine show, for all we met on road! Nevertheless, in spells of spurts tossed between hope and despair, the car brought us to Prasanthi Nilayam, racing over the 50 miles in -would you believe it? – sixty minutes! Another miracle of Baba!

With tears of joy, we ran towards the Shanti Vedika…. Yes. Baba was waiting for us to arrive, in order to come Himself to the meeting! When we reached the Lotus Circle in front of the Porch, Sai Ram was proceeding to the Shanti Vedika! What Compassion! We could press forward, with folded hands. He smiled at us, showered Grace with His blissful Eyes, and said, “Santosham! You have come, at last.”

As we sat in the front rows facing Baba, tears of gratitude welled from my heart. “Lord,” I said within myself, “while thousands and, thousands of devotees were singing and adoring You here, You heard our anguish, and stopped the fire to save the car, and brought us in time to see Your Glory. We were feeling Your Presence and Grace, every inch of the road”.

The friends who brought the Coffee for us and who had tried to bring us to the Nilayam were sitting just behind us; they congratulated us with their meaningful gestures. We saw the Lingodbhava, from our Lord; we sang enthusiastically and with a contented heart, for within minutes, the mechanic came to us and said that, the car was perfectly O. K.

Sathya Sai Baba, Bill Aitken And The Vibuthi Covered Pick

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba, Bill Aitken And The Vibuthi Covered Pick

On 14th June 1980 I was lucky enough to be present in a house visited by Sathya Sai Baba in New Delhi after His Divine visit to Kashmir. I was preparing to go on a pilgrimage to the Nanda Devi Sanctuary, one of the most difficult treks in the Himalayas. I took my high altitude equipment with me, including ropes, pitons (rock clamps) and my trusted ice-axe, an indispensable tool for negotiating precipitous icy terrain in the high mountains.

Sathya Sai Baba graciously asked after my welfare and I said I would like Him to bless my adventure. My hostess suggested I give Baba my ice-axe to bless. He smiled, took it and began to ask some searching questions about the composition of the steel used in its making. His students knew more about this than I did. Suddenly He produced Vibhuti from thin air (without the usual circular movements I had seen in public) and proceeded to rub it with great intensity on one side, the pick side, of the ice-axe only. He didn’t put any Vibhuti on the other parts. Then with an air of finality He said, “You will be successful,” and handed back the ice-axe.

I do not know what constitutes a miracle but I do know that a month later, on 26th July, while climbing into the Sanctuary, the pick of the ice-axe saved my life.

Traversing some tricky wet slabs of rockcut croppings above the Rishi Ganga gorge at Rhamani I was aided by two excellent Garhwali porters. They were so skillful and daring that they disdained to use any rope and would cross the wet slabs sloping out over the edge of the gorge in their bare feet. They would go ahead fixing rope, then sit on their haunches and wait for me with all my climbing regalia to haul myself up.

We began up a narrow earth gully which was particularly slippery and treacherous. There were no reliable footholds anywhere and we had to make them as we went. I looked back into the yawning chasm that led a thousand feet straight down into the huge gorge carved out by the rushing river below.

I kicked a toehold in the damp earth and reaching up whacked the pick of the ice-axe into the earth above. To my dismay the six inch pick clanged against rock after it had gone in only three inches, not enough to hold much weight. At the same moment the earth under my toehold crumbled away and I felt myself sinking gently with the earth until I was dangling above the gorge supported only by the Vibhuti covered pick. For the agonising moment my full weight came on the axe; my thoughts were more of self disgust at my incompetence than fear of hurtling a thousand feet to certain death.

Somehow that three inches of steel didn’t slice through the soft earth but held me long enough for the porters to back down and grab me. After a few more close shaves we were successful and got to our destination, the Nanda Devi Sanctuary, reaching that holy place on Gurupurnima. There were other hair raising incidents on our return trip, but thanks to Baba’s Divine Grace, we came through all right and I am alive today to narrate this story.

– Bill Aitken
(William McKay Aitken, also known as Bill Aitken is a Scottish born naturalised Indian writer and traveller)


Time For A Break

Time For A Break

Ng And Siew Lean Kong

Ng And Siew Lean Kong

To some Malaysian families, Chinese New Year is not about traditional get-togethers or merrymaking. Rather, it’s the time to get away from the hustle and bustle and spend quality family time in a foreign destination, writes SHANTI GUNARATNAM

THE wind of change is blowing towards many age-old traditions, particularly spending the lunar new year in the homes of matriarchs and patriarchs.

Instead of returning home to spend Chinese New Year with their parents, in-laws and relatives, many are packing and heading for some exotic destinations.

In the case of Billy Fong, his idea of a good Chinese New Year holiday is to spend time in Puttaparthi, north Bangalore, India, with his spiritual guru, Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

But Fong, who owns his own seminar consulting firm, will not be alone on this annual trip.

His wife, two children and some 400 members of the various Sathya Sai Baba organisations will be joining him, as in the previous years.

In Puttaparthi, which is transformed into Chinatown during the festive season by the hundreds of Chinese who converge there from all over the world, is one big happy place to be during the lunar new year.

The whole place will be decorated with cherry blossoms, ang pow packets. lights and lanterns, filled with activities such dragon and lion dances, plays and dramas and fantastic vegetarian meals, all prepared by the devotees themselves.

“Puttaparthi is a wonderful place to be during Chinese New Year because of the activities there. We learn so much about the importance of filial piety and values from Sai Baba himself” says Fong.

“We never miss home and the lunar new year celebrations when we are in Puttaparthi.”

Sathya Sai Baba’s ashram in Puttaparthi, which has the capacity to house thousands of devotees, is called Prashanti Nilayam.

Fong and his family often spend three to four days in Puttaparthi before returning home to continue with the Chinese New Year festivities in Malaysia with their family and friends.

Stressing the importance of filial piety and values, Fong says he goes home to Penang one or two days before Chinese New Year to have the reunion dinner and spend the first day of the lunar year with his octogenarian father and siblings before leaving for India on the second day.

Spending time with his father, he says, is just as important as his trip to Puttaparthi.

“I leave for India only after fulfilling my obligations to my father and siblings.”

For printing shop proprietor Ng Kai Ling, it doesn’t make much of a difference if she misses her family’s reunion dinner or spending the first few days of the lunar new year with her relatives and friends.

More importantly, spending time with her husband and daughter in a faraway land is very crucial to her.

“The Chinese New Year holidays are the only time we can spend time together as a family,” says Ng, who this year will be going to Harbin in northeast China for eight days.

“At no other time during the year will my husband, daughter and I will be able to go away together because someone has to look after the business.

What fun will it be if we cannot get away for the holidays as a family, at least once a year. We really look forward to the Chinese New Year holidays.”

China is the family’s preferred holiday destination because they enjoy its culture, food, hospitality of the mainlanders and the shopping.

Ng and her family, who started travelling 10 years with their first trip to Disneyland in Los Angeles, have also gone on holidays to Japan, Korea, Myanmar, Thailand and numerous trips to China.

“The Chinese New year celebrations in China are no different from Malaysia. However, they only celebrate it on the first two days of the lunar instead of 15 days, unlike how it’s done in Malaysia.

We don’t feel guilty about not joining the reunion dinner because both sides of our families are in Kuala Lumpur. If we want to have reunion dinners, we can do it every weekend.”

The New Straights Time Online Reference

Obama Win Raises Advani’s Hopes

Obama Win Raises Advani’s Hopes
Express New Service
First Published : 06 Nov 2008 09:57:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 06 Nov 2008 11:33:10 AM IST

TIRUPATI: Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha LK Advani, along with his family members, worshipped Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala today.

Accompanied by a few BJP leaders, Advani arrived by a special aircraft from Bangalore in the morning and was accorded warm reception at the airport here. Amid tight security, he drove straight to Tirumala. TTD officials received him at Srivari temple and conducted him into the temple. After worshipping the Lord, Advani left for Puttaparti in the afternoon.

In a brief interaction with mediapersons at Tirumala during his short visit, the BJP leader and former deputy prime minister said the victory of Barack Obama in the US presidential election was a clear indication that the people of that country wanted a change and, given the political situation in India, the verdict would not be any different in the ensuing parliamentary elections.

Advani, who is being projected as the next prime ministerial candidate by the NDA, exuded confidence that the BJP would emerge victorious in the ensuing Assembly elections in six States.

ANANTAPUR: BJP leader LK Advani along with his family members had a darshan of Sri Sathya Sai Baba at Prashanti Nilayam here today. Sri Saibaba presented a gold ring to Advani. After having darshan, Advani left for Bangalore.


Queen Of England Honored Sai Youth Of UK In 2005 With Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

Preface: Due to misleading claims about Sathya Sai Baba, the UK Sai Youth Group and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards, the following article relating to the British Controversy is provided for factual background information.

Queen Of England Honored Sai Youth Of UK In 2005 With Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

2006 is a very special year in Great Britain, it marked the 80th Birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the 50th Anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme for young people. To celebrate both events a special Royal Garden Party was organised at Buckingham Palace on Thursday 13th July 2006.

Royal Garden Parties have been held at Buckingham Palace since the 1860’s by Queen Victoria. In fact, Queen Elizabeth II has always worked hard to recognise the efforts of those people who best embody the spirit of Great Britain.

This year was no exception: approximately 8,000 invitations were sent out to various dignitaries, diplomats, ministers, famous celebrities, and ordinary people who had made a unique contribution to society.

But the most heartening fact was this – the National Youth Wing of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation United Kingdom, had been chosen by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to attend and receive a special certificate of gratitude and recognition for the outstanding contribution made by its Youth towards nation-building and promoting happiness and harmony within the community. This indeed was a great honour and further demonstrates the respect and gratitude that the country has for the humanitarian work being undertaken by Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

The National U.K Youth Co-ordinator, Shitu Chudasama, had been asked to speak at Buckingham Palace during the presentation ceremony on the work of the Sai Youth and the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation.

This was extremely well received and all marvelled at the wonderful work being done by Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. When the certificate was presented, instead of bearing the name of the Sai Organisation, the certificate instead bore the name of ‘Sri Sathya Sai’.

Shitu Chudasama

Shitu Chudasama

“It was a blessing, a shower of Grace” – Mr. Shitu Chudasama

Recounting his memorable experience, Mr. Shitu Chudasama said:

As soon as Rita, my wife and I arrived at Buckingham Palace, we were escorted to a special enclosure where we were introduced to some famous Hollywood actors, actresses, and people who had received honours for doing outstanding and heroic deeds. We were extremely nervous and at this point wondering what we were doing here. However the celebrities were most kind and extremely humble. Tim Burton, a famous Hollywood director who directed famous movies such as ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, ‘Planet of the Apes’, and ‘Batman’, came up to us and started asking questions about what we did. We started talking to him about Swami and Swami’s Youth and the wonderful work that is being done in United Kingdom. He straightaway said that America needs an Organisation like this – we told him that America already had one. He mentioned how some of the youth that he had come across in the movie world were so badly behaved and lacked manners. He further went on to marvel at Bhagawan’s youth and how impressed he was by them.

When the time for the speeches and award ceremony came, my heart started beating very fast. What was I to say? How can one describe in a few minutes the marvellous and miraculous humanitarian projects that are undertaken by Bhagawan.

I was the last speaker called up, and suddenly a confidence, and a joy engulfed my being. I spoke about the wonderful work being done by our Sai Organisation Youth in United Kingdom. I attributed everything to our founder Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. As I spoke I watched the sea of faces, there was a look of excitement on their faces as if to say ‘why have we not heard of this Organisation before?’

Suddenly the certificate was presented to me. Instead of having the name of the Sai Organisation, the certificate bore the name “Sri Sathya Sai” – I looked again, and was dumbfounded. For that split second as everyone cheered and clapped loudly, I felt the omni presence of our beloved Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba at Buckingham Palace. Then I knew that this was a gift from Bhagawan Himself. A blessing, a shower of Grace for all the Sai Youth in UK that work so hard contributing to Bhagawan’s Mission of Dharmasansthapana – establishing righteousness in the world.

After the award ceremony, we were then escorted to a special section, which was lined with the Queen’s guards. We were asked to wait here so that we could meet the Queen. At 4.00pm, as the National Anthem was played by the Royal Band, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, together with other members of the Royal Family emerged from the Palace and started to greet their guests.

We could not believe this remarkable Grace Swami had bestowed upon the Sai Organisation. As the Queen walked gracefully by, one noticed that there was a very special aura and energy around the Queen, something quite beautiful, enigmatic, and spiritual. The Queen had dedicated her whole life to serving her country and people.

As she walked passed, looking at all and smiling, you could not help but notice that her smile never once left her face. She was extremely patient with everyone and spent two hours greeting and welcoming everyone. All in all it was a truly memorable and uplifting event.”

The award reads, as you can see from the picture, “This certificate is presented to Sri Sathya Sai on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh’s award with grateful thanks from the patron … for Your invaluable contribution as a partner of the award in helping to provide an enjoyable, challenging and rewarding personal development programme for young people.”

Now what is Duke of Edinburgh’s award? And how and when did the Sai Organisation of UK become associated with it?

Duke Of Edinburgh’s Award Certificate To “Sri Sathya Sai”

Duke Of Edinburgh’s Award Certificate To “Sri Sathya Sai”

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is an international leadership in action programme established in 1956 by its Founder and Patron, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh (the husband of the Queen of England). The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a voluntary, non-competitive programme of practical cultural and adventurous activities. It is designed to support the personal and social development of young people aged 14-25, regardless of gender, background, or ability.

Being voluntary, flexible, non-competitive, balanced, progressive, challenging and most of all enjoyable, it provides an opportunity for young people to achieve personal excellence and build self-esteem, self-confidence, self-reliance, self-motivation and respect for others via their involvement in service, skill, physical recreation and expedition activities.

The partnership of the Sai Organisation of UK with the Duke of Edinburgh award and the tremendous positive international contribution of the UK Sai Youth is what lead to the recent recognition award from the Queen. But the whole episode has its genesis in November 2004. 180 youth from United Kingdom embarked upon the National UK Youth Pilgrimage to Prashanti Nilayam for Bhagawan’s blessings that year. The trip was both unique and multi-faceted. It was a message of love for Bhagawan that His youth in UK were ready and waiting to take up the baton of His mission. The Pilgrimage consisted of a Youth Service Camp, the UK Youth Choir, Youth Speakers and a Mini-Prashanti UK Youth Conference which were all held in Prashanti Nilayam leading up to Sathya Sai Baba’s Birthday.

The Youth Service Camp was entitled “Helping Hands and Healing Hearts” and a phenomenal amount of planning, energy, goodwill and sacrifice went into the work. For over 5 days, the Youth visited 4 villages near Puttaparthi that were not easily accessible by bus or car. The Youth Service Camp was unlike anything ever attempted before by UK youth. 5 tonnes of equipment was taken from the United Kingdom consisting of medical supplies, the latest health scanners, thousands of saris, baby clothes, and toys.

The camp consisted of a plethora of service activities for the needy villagers: Narayan Seva, workshops on hygiene in the villages, the installation of toilets, the providing of water pumps and water pipelines. There was also seva directed specifically to the women of the villages: talks, medical check-ups, and counselling to improve their quality of life. For the children there was distribution of clothes, music, games and special dramas. The youth also engaged in village cleaning and maintenance, the reconstruction of a dilapidated village temple and installation of its village deities. And finally, a large scale Medical Camp which provided general medical care, eye care, paediatrics, dentistry, physiotherapy, massage, diabetes screening and cancer screening.

The entire cost and expenses of the Youth Service Camp totalling around $45,000 was solely funded by the youth, which was inspired and enabled by Swami’s Ceiling on Desires Programme. During the Medical Camp Vibhuti started materialising on the badges worn by a number of our Youth. The Pilgrimage proved to be a very powerful magnet in not only empowering the youth to become leaders but also bringing out other qualities in them such as self-confidence, discipline, and compassion.

On returning to the UK, the National Youth Wing was contacted by His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Office, and informed that they wanted to award each of our Sai Youth the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. They had heard about the wonderful work that was done in Puttaparthi by our Sai Youth in UK .

On 9th August 2005, the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation (UK) formalised its partnership with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme by signing the much-coveted Operating Licence Agreement. This gives the Organisation the mandate and authority to run this famous Award scheme and to award the certificates within the structure of the UK Organisation for all youth aged between 14-25 years.

At the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Ceremony, held on Saturday 3rd September 2005 in London, all 180 youth from the National UK Youth Pilgrimage received their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award certificates in front of an audience of 450 people.

Presiding over the ceremony was the Chief Executive (CEO) of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, Peter Westgarth. Peter was extremely impressed with the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation and in particular the calibre of its youth. This was truly a historic event in the history of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation in UK and a befitting tribute to our Lord during His 80th year of Love in Action. The Sai Youth of UK said:

“The invitation to the Organisation to attend the Queen’s Royal Garden Party and receive the award is a valuable testimony of recognition for the Sai youth in the UK. The youth of the United Kingdom are indeed grateful to Bhagawan for the wonderful Grace that He has bestowed upon them with the presentation of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Certificate.”

(Please Note: This blog is not affiliated with the Sai Organization, Mr. Shitu Chudasama or any other member of the Sai Youth Group in the UK. This article was obtained from personal archives.)

Also see:
Paul Lewis – The Guardian UK Newspaper And The British Controversy