More fragrant than jasmine

More fragrant than jasmine
By Amjad Ali khan

Every human being’s first teacher is his mother. In fact, the first ‘music’ that a child hears is the mother’s voice. Have we ever thought about the great ladies who raised great artistes? The lives of these brave and timeless women are often a tale of struggle and evolution.

When I look back, I cannot remember a day when my mother was not there for me, watching me practise, play, eat. In whatever financial condition we were back then, life looked beautiful because of her unconditional love. I grew up and moved on, but she remained in the background with her blessings. My mother suffered a lot because of the big joint family of Abba Saheb in Gwalior. She had no say in most family matters and was not treated with love and respect by other members who lived with us.

Recently, I was saddened to hear that Ustad Alla Rakha Khan’s wife, Bawi Begum, who was affectionately called Ammaji, passed away in Mumbai. She was, perhaps, the last of the artistes’ wives who kept the house open for family and friends without, in today’s language, an appointment. With the erratic timings of the profession, such warmth and welcoming can be expected only from a person with unsurpassed love, affection and understanding.

I have had some of the most memorable evenings at Alla Rakha Khan saheb’s residence in Mumbai. It was always great interaction and great food. I pray to the Almighty that her soul rests in peace and the legacy of love and affection that she has left behind stays forever in their home. She blessed the music world with her jewels, Zakir Hussain, Fazal Qureshi and Taufiq Qureshi.

I recall similar stories of the wives of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and Ustad Enayet Khan. These ladies gave birth to the finest artistes who represented Indian classical music.

I hope all artistes and their wives give quality time to their children. Artistes need to travel constantly, but it is very important to strike the right balance between professional and family lives.

My wife, Subhalakshmi Khan, deserves the highest praise for handling my life the way she is doing it. She has been the best daughter to her parents, the best wife to me, the best daughter-in-law to my parents and the best mother to my sons, Ayaan and Amaan.

She is in charge of the museum Sarod Ghar and the Haafiz Ali Khan Awards. She has been dealing with art and artistes for years, and has completely dedicated herself to my family. She makes immense effort in maintaining the Ustad Haafiz Ali Memorial Trust.

Subhalakshmi began coordinating and managing my concerts soon after our marriage. Now this includes the management of Amaan’s and Ayaan’s concerts as well. She did not know how to cook at the time of our marriage, but today we all look forward to her cooking, as she has an exclusive touch in everything she cooks. She could not meet my father but has heard all the old stories of our family from my mother.

Only a mother can multi-task at all levels and still have the time to devote to and the love to share with the family. I don’t know how mothers do this, but they do! I have watched my mother and wife perform these roles with utmost devotion. I have forever felt blessed and remain grateful to be in the midst of such divine love. I remember a quotation by Sathya Sai Baba:

Sathya Sai Baba: More fragrant than the sweet-smelling flowers like the Jasmine and the Champak, Softer than the cheese and the butter, More beautiful than eye of the peacock, More pleasant than the moonlight, Is the love of the mother.

The Week Reference

Women’s day held

Women’s day held
Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, November 19 2009: Women’s day was observed today in rememberance of the mother of Bhagvan Sathya Sai Baba, Easwarammam, at Shri Sathya Sai Mandir located at Mantripukhri under the aegis of Mahila Vibhag Shri Satya Sai Organisation, Manipur today.

The occasion was graced by ex-chairperson of Social Welfare Advisory Board, Manipur, S Satyabhama as the chief guest.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr G Ibemhal, State Mahila Spiritual Coordinator, underlined that the day has been celebrated to boost the moral value of the women since 1995 .

S Satyabhama said more lawlessness has prevailed in the state due to negligence in worshipping gods.

She said, the land will become more peaceful when the people devoted more on their respective beliefs.

The chief guest has also inaugurated a textile fair on the occasion.

Various songs were also presented by artistes today at the celebration programme.

E Pao! Reference

Prasnottara Vahini – Brahmavidya and Women

Sathya Sai Baba On Brahmavidya

Sathya Sai Baba On Brahmavidya


Prasnottara Vahini – Brahmavidya and Women
by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Questioner: You were talking of strict regimen; men too should follow this, is it not?
Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Of course! They too are flesh and blood, bone and marrow; they too are afflicted with illness. Each and every person who is afflicted with birth and death and suffering from this cycle is in need of this medicine. And, whoever helps himself to this treatment has to follow the regimen too. Man or woman, whoever neglects the regimen, cannot get rid of the illness. Men cannot afford to say that they are free from it; they have to stick to it closely and observe it strictly. Even if they have had Brahmopadesam (initiation into the spiritual path of Brahma-realisation), if they are devoid of virtues like Sama and Dama they cannot save themselves, whether they are men or women.

Questioner: But then, Swami, why do many scholars learned in the Sastras declare that women have no right for acquiring Brahmavidya? What is the reason?
Sri Sathya Sai Baba: There is no reason at all in declaring that women are not entitled to Brahmavidya. Vishnumurthy taught Bhudevi the glory of the Githa; Parameswara taught Parvathi the Brahmathathva through the Guru-Githa. That is what the Guru-Githa means when it says, “Parvathi Uvaacha”. What do these words mean? Besides, Easwara initiated Parvathi into Yogasastra and Manthrasastra. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad mentions that Yajnavalkya taught Maitreyi this very same Brahmavidya. This is a well known fact. Now, you can yourself judge and draw your own conclusion whether women are entitled to Brahmavidya or not.

Questioner: There are some others, Swami, who declare that women are not entitled to Brahmacharya and Sanyasa. Is it true? Do the Vedas prohibit it?
Sri Sathya Sai Baba: The Vedas have two sections: Karmakanda and Jnanakanda. The Karmakanda is for beginners, for the undeveloped; and the Jnanakanda is for the more advanced, the developed intelligences. There is no reference to men or women in connection with these. The beginners are worldly; how can they understand the immortal message of the Jnanakanda about the Atma? In the Brihadaranyaka we have mention of Gargi and Maitreyi who shine in the spiritual splendour of Brahmacharya and Sanyasa. In the Mahabharatha also, we have Subha Yogini and other women who are ideal women, full of virtue.

Questioner: Can women win Brahmajnana, even while leading the householder’s life?
Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Why not? Madaalasa and others were able to get Brahmajnana while in the Grihastha stage of life, the house-holder status. You must have heard of these from the Yogavasishta and the Puranas, how they attained the height of auspiciousness, Brahmajnana itself. Then again, do not the Upanishads declare that Kaathyayini, Sarangi, Sulabha, Viswaveda and others were adepts in Brahmajnana?

Questioner: Swami, are there any women who have attained Brahmajnana while in the Grihasdtha stage? And who attained it while in the Sanyasa stage? Or any who realised it while in the Vaanaprastha stage? Are there women who got it in the Brahmacharya stage of life?
Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Do not think that there are no women who have realised Brahmajnana while in any one of these stages. Choodaala attained it while a Grihastha; Sulabhayogini won it while a Sanyasini; Maitreyi attained it while in the Vaanaprastha stage of life; and Gargi got it in the Brahmacharya stage. There were other great women of Bharath who have achieved this height. Why, there are even today many who are of this great category. I simply mentioned some four names because you came up with that question now; so do not in the least lose enthusiasm. There is no need for loss of heart.

Questioner: When we have so many examples of women who have attained Brahmajnana, how is it that so many argue against it? Why do they impose limitations on women?
Sri Sathya Sai Baba: It is sheer absurdity to deny women the right to earn Brahmajnana. But in worldly matters, it is necessary that some limitations are respected by them. They are laid down only in the interests of Dharma and for Loka-kalyana. For the sake of the upkeep of morals and for social health in the world, women have to be bound by them. They are too weak to maintain certain standards of life and discipline; they have some natural handicaps; that is the reason for these limitations.

This does not mean any fundamental inferiority. Why, even Pundits and men learned in the Sastras acquire their Jnana through the reverential homage they pay to the Feminine Deity, Saraswathi. The patron Deity of Vidya, as well as of Wealth and Jnana are all three feminine. They are Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Parvathi. Even in customary correspondence, when women are addressed, they are referred to as, “To…who is equal to Lakshmi” etc. You always speak of Maatha-Pithaa, Gowri-Sankara, Lakshmi-Narayana, Seetha-Rama, Radha-Krishna etc. The feminine name comes first and then the masculine. From this itself you can gather how much reverence is paid to women here.

Questioner: The distinction between man and woman – do you condemn it as Mithya-jnana or do you value it as Atma-jnana?
Sri Sathya Sai Baba: My dear fellow! The Atma has no such distinction; it is eternally conscious, pure, self-effulgent. So, it can only be Mithya-jnana; it can never be Atma-jnana. It is a distinction based on the Upadhi, the mask, the Limitation. The Atma is neither masculine, feminine nor neuter; it is the form that limits and deludes and that wears the names.

Spiritual Inspiration: God and I by Sapna Mukherjee

Sapna Mukherjee

Sapna Mukherjee


Spiritual Inspiration: God and I by Sapna Mukherjee
By Sapna Mukherjee

I am a staunch devotee of Sathya Sai Baba. Ever since I was a small girl, I remember I would sing bhajan s in front of him in Delhi. I feel I was born to sing for him and that’s why sometimes the people who I work with, my family and friends, tease me about my devotion for him. They think I am completely mad. They even call me “Kalyug ki Meera”.

I personally believe that whatever has happened in my life is largely because of God and destiny. Main do kadam bhi unke bina chal nahin sakti. That’s why there is a little mandir which goes with me everywhere I go. I constantly feel His presence in my life. Everything that happens in my life, in my career is all because He wants it to be that way.

I remember there was a phase some time in 1995 when songs were written that had double meaning. I couldn’t bring myself to sing such songs. In fact, all through my career I have never compromised on anything.

Ever since I came to Mumbai to be part of Kalyanji-Anandji’s group, who were instrumental in me getting my first break – an opportunity to sing for Feroz Khan’s Jaanbaaz , I have always lived one dream. My mother wanted to be a singer but she could not because in those days, it was not considered right to be a professional singer. She wanted me to fulfill her dream and I have single-mindedly focused on that.

You know how difficult it can be for a young, single girl to survive in this industry, what with everybody expecting you to compromise on something or the other, but I’m glad I stuck to my principles and moved on.

I may have lost out on many films but whatever I have got is Baba’s blessings or every song I sang would not have been a hit in its own right. I feel that it’s Baba who has charted the course of my career and of course Kalyanji- Anandji and Feroz Khan who consider me as part of their family.

I was going through depression when I couldn’t see myself singing double meaning songs and that’s when I decided to give up my career. I had almost decided to give up playback singing totally and concentrate on bhajans.

But again I think it was Sathya Sai Baba’s wish that I met Sir or Sahara Shri Subroto Roy. I had sung a jingle for the Sahara group, which Sir had liked and it was him who said that I shouldn’t leave the industry, which had given me everything I have today. That’s when he asked me to be part of the Sahara Parivaar. He told me to sing for any producer, for any channel, for anything as long as I was happy doing it and committed to doing it.

Sometimes, I feel it is Sathya Sai Baba who has come into my life in the form of Sir. He’s my guide, my friend and my mentor. Today I feel grateful to God for everything he’s given me. Money has never driven me. My work has. Soon, I will be releasing an album which is produced by Sahara and has music by Raju Singh. It was Sir’s idea that I break away from my image of singing only racy numbers and sing some sensitive songs. It’s shaping up well but ultimately it will be Baba who will decide its fate and I will have to accept it.

Experience Festival Reference

Easwarrama Women’s Welfare Project

Sathya Sai Baba On Empowering Women

Sathya Sai Baba On Empowering Women


Easwarrama Women’s Welfare Project
Chethana Raju

RECOGNISING WOMEN’S CENTRAL role in society, the Easwaramma. Women’s Welfare Project-seeks to help in the development of women in a holistic manner by understanding and supporting the different roles which they play in life, be it daughter, mother or breadwinner.

It is a well-known saying, “Give a man bread and you feed him for a day, teach him to farm, and you feed him for life.” Along these lines, we felt our sisters in the villages would be better served by the acquisition of skills; the goal being self-support and independence.

Powered by the idea of sustainable development, this philosophy motivated the adoption of a Welfare Project to first address the need for a woman’s financial security. Before the Project launch, a survey was conducted in the surrounding villages, identifying the most deprived and impoverished women in the area. Their economic condition and whether they had some basic or no skills were all points taken into consideration before selection for the Project.

A Step towards Making Women Self-reliant
On 19th November 2004, on Ladies Day, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba officially inaugurated the Easwaramma Women’s Welfare Project by unveiling a plaque. On 19th July 2005, the Project facility for these women was graciously inaugurated by Bhagavan Sri Satya SaiBaba within Prasanthi Nilayam. The Project is already producing a large number of products and has started marketing them initially through local outlets in the Ashram. The proceeds of the sales will be spent on remuneration for the women and will also go towards charitable projects in the villages.

Once the products are identified, trainers are engaged to teach the women how to make these items. When they are proficient at their tasks, one or two women in the group are trained to interact with suppliers and customers. In addition to providing women with a skill that is a lifelong source of income, this Project will also have socially beneficial effects. As an income earner, a woman’s self- esteem and her respect in society increases. Speaking on women, Sathya Sai Baba has said, “All women should be provided with opportunities to become self-reliant”.

The Project seeks to translate this into reality. A major step was taken to expand and organise the work of Easwaramma Women’s Project when Bhagavan graciously established Easwaramma Women’s Welfare Trust on 18th February 2005.

Mother and Child Project
Recently, another dimension has been added to the Easwaramma Women’s Welfare Project by initiating Mother and Child Project. This project was started after conducting thorough research at grass root level by visiting a large number of villages as well as by assessing the needs of expecting mothers from Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital, Puttaparthi. As a result of this, two requirements have been recognised as vital. One is for maternal and infant care, which has given rise to the Mother and Child Project. The central role that the mother plays as “the Guru of the children … and the upholder of spiritual values” has been emphasised by Swami many a time. Recognising the importance of her health and well-being for society, the Mother and Child Project strives to support her during this crucial stage in her life.

Visits to the General Hospital, Puttaparthi showed that the general health condition of some of the pregnant women coming in for care is a cause for concern. Many come in for deliveries with extremely low haemoglobin levels, far below the international recommended level for delivery. Lack of proper nutrition is one of the main causes for this deficiency.

They often come to the hospital at a very late stage, which significantly increases the chances of complications. Regrettably, some are unable to come because of the considerable journeying distance and / or monetary constraints. Therefore, the Mother and Child Project aims to provide medical care for pregnant mothers and infants in the villages. Bhagavan, in His infinite grace, has provided a fully-equipped ambulance which can be utilised for on-the-spot medical treatment. The two objectives of the Project, medical and educational, are pursued side by side. The medical care is dispensed in a regular manner, over a significant period of time, in keeping with the Project’s goal of sustainability. The voluntary team of doctors, nurses and Seva Dal members visit each village throughout the year. Records of all mothers and children are maintained systematically so that their health condition can be monitored on a continuous, long-term basis. These records prove to be invaluable resource for the next team of doctors to assess the follow-up care.

Each mother-to-be receives a Sari and a special kit for mother and baby as a token of Bhagavan’s love and blessings. The kit provides the mothers with important supplements such as iron and folic acid. High protein nutritional supplements are also distributed regularly. As for the delivery itself, only emergencies are advised to go to the hospital. The traditional practice of home-deliveries with the central role of Dhais (midwives) is encouraged and made increasingly hygienic with the training of these Dhais and the supply of sterilised kits that assist in safe deliveries.

Once the baby is born, it is welcomed into the world with a fresh set of clothes, regular health check-ups and full immunisation. Immunisation is done for major locally-prevalent diseases including polio, measles, mumps, hepatitis-B and tuberculosis. Nutritional supplements are also regularly given to the infants. In conjunction with the treatment, the doctors conduct educational talks for mothers. Advice is given on a variety of practical matters, i.e., available good foods for pregnancy, post-natal and infant care, and handling of emergency cases.

We envisage a world where women have equal privileges in every sphere of life, a world in which women have opportunities to support themselves, a world in which they are self-reliant and not dependent on others. We believe that Easwaramma Women’s Welfare Project is a step in this noble direction. One of the Mission statements of Bhagavan Baba is: “I am attached to the work that I love: To remove the sufferings of the poor and grant them what they lack”. We pray that we all become humble instruments in His Divine Mission!

Sathya Sai Baba: Self-imposed discipline is conducive to real Shanti, peace of mind, poise, equanimity and the stable equilibrium of the mind. Peace of mind is the most desirable thing in the whole world. It gives us physical and psychical euphoria. In order to achieve this peace, an aspirant must develop a thirst for spiritual wisdom. He must acquire the qualities of love, sympathy and compassion, and do selfless service to others. Shanti (peace) should not be regarded as a part-time virtue to be cultivated only during meditation. It is a constant state of inner tranquillity. It should become habitual and instinctive.

Reference: Sanathana Sarathi pgs 381-383 – November 2005

How To Build Character That Lasts

Swami Sathya Sai Baba

Swami Sathya Sai Baba


HOW TO BUILD CHARACTER THAT LASTS
By Mrs. Mallika Srinivasan

Mrs. Mallika Srinivasan is the CEO of TAFE [Tractors and Farm Equipment] and is one of the most successful women CEOs in India having transformed TAFE from a 80-crore company to a 2500-crore market leader. She was awarded the Business Woman of the Year Award by the BBC, UK in 1999 and the Economic Times Business Woman of the Year in 2006. Engaged in many social service activities, she is also an active participant in the Mother and Child Care programme undertaken by the Easwaramma Women’s Welfare Trust. This is the transcript of the talk she delivered to the delegates of the Sri Sathya Sai World Youth Conference during a workshop session in Prasanthi Nilayam on July 26, 2007.

Mallika Srinivasan: I offer my most loving and humble pranams at the lotus feet of our Beloved Bhagavan. Respected elders, Sai youth, brothers and sisters, Sairam to all of you.

“Watch, observe, obey, learn and apply”

Each one of us gathered here today is truly blessed, enjoying and basking as we do in Bhagavan’s Protection, Grace and Love. To my family, as to all of you, Sathya Sai Baba has been the very centre of existence – mother, father, guru and God. All of you as Sai Youth are exceptionally privileged.

For unlike people like myself, who went through a process that began with magnetic attraction, led to intellectual curiosity, and perhaps a degree of scepticism before the spark of devotion could be lit, leading to faith and finally to total surrender, you have been brought into Swami’s fold at a time when your heart is open to receive His love instantly. Youth take to Swami like fish to water.

It is the determination of Swami to sow in the minds of young people which are like rays of the rising sun, the seeds of desire for acquiring spiritual knowledge. These seeds have already been sown in the Sai Youth gathered here today. The distinguishing feature of Sai Youth is that material gains are not the sole goal of your lives. You seek to lead holistic lives, yearn to achieve a larger purpose and strive to be better human beings.

Living in the presence of Bhagavan offers us the very best opportunity to achieve this. Swami teaches us in a variety of ways through His compassion, through disciplining, through His interactions, through the formal teaching like we had this morning, and at times through direct advice: “Watch, observe, learn, obey and apply.” Then, we will begin to comprehend the essence of what is required for a successful life, i.e., the building of character. Devotion, Duty, Discipline, Determination and Discrimination are the pillars on which the robust house of character is built. These are the few things I would like to touch upon today.

The Charismatic Charioteer
Devotion to God is fundamental to leading a virtuous life. Swami, through His Divine Love and in His own inimitable way, evokes in each of our hearts, this devotion and builds our faith. I would like to share with you, one such instance, when Swami through a simple and appealing example captured the heart of a young boy in an instant, making him a devotee for life!

During an interview, Swami asked our young son to ask Him a question.

The boy said, “Swami, which is your favourite car?”

My heart sank and I thought to myself, “Is this the question to ask Swami? Time with Swami is so precious!”

Swami gave a lovely smile and answered, “Morris Minor” and went on to tell stories of how He used to drive to Madras and how He obtained a license.

“You used to drive it yourself Swami?” Exclaimed the boy, stars in His eyes!

Swami had woven a bit of magic and our son looked at Swami transfixed.

Swami went on to say, “I will give you a big car. Will you take it? You mustn’t say no!”

And the boy, a bit overawed by now, said, “OK!”

Swami then asked, “Will you give me your car?”

Prompt came the answer, “Sure Swami!”

“Shall I drive it?”

And the boy again said, “Sure, Swami.”

Swami then smilingly placed His hand on our son’s heart and said, “Your heart is the car and I am the driver.”

One of the most profound lessons in devotion had been taught by Swami in the simplest possible manner! Swami says, “Have faith in Him” and “Be free from fear, anxiety and agitation. Surrender to God; His Grace can save you. His wisdom can enlighten you. His power can overcome all obstacles. Faith and surrender are the manifestations of devotion.”

The Right Attitude
Duty without expectation of reward is the essence of the Bhagavad Gita. Let us cast a glimpse of what is actually happening around us in the world today, especially in the lives of younger people. There is, if you permit me to say, an obsession with being remunerated; with obtaining greater and greater power and authority. There is a constant measurement of work versus reward and a continuous comparison with other family members, friends, colleagues and peers. Opportunities and temptations abound in a growing economy and this is fuelling these trends.

Frequency of job change has reached new heights and as the search continues for something elusive, our inner peace is destroyed. If, on the other hand, we enjoy doing what we are doing, do our very best, excel at it, going beyond what is commonly termed “the call of duty,” do our tasks with devotion and love, without fear of failure, leaving the rewards to Swami, not only will we achieve inner peace, but we will exceed our own expectations of performance.

Surrender, the Best Strategy!
In our professional lives, we may have the illusion that we control outcomes. That it is only an illusion becomes quite clear, when we are faced with a personal crisis.

For example, let us take the illness of a loved one. My mother, a very healthy person, was recently diagnosed with having an ailment, for which the prognosis was indeed poor. Only God could save her. It is in situations like this, that faith and surrender make us witness Swami’s magic. His Grace fills us with a sense of calm. He directs and guides us to do our duty taking appropriate decisions and leaving the rest to Him.

It was raining heavily and the hospital room began to leak. And a fungus infection would be disastrous for my mother. The Hospital administration and doctors out of concern were urging me to move her immediately to another Hospital where the care would not be of the same order, but the room would not leak. We seemed to be moving her for all the wrong reasons. Couldn’t we move her to the smaller room or to the intensive care? A quiet prayer to Swami seeking His guidance and the answer was clear. “Do not move her.”

It is Bhagavan’s infinite grace that she is today completely well, truly Swami’s walking miracle. Faith enables us to carry out our duties calmly, even under extraordinarily extenuating circumstances, surrendering the problem at His feet. Our duty, however, extends beyond our jobs and serving our families to serving humanity at large.

Inspiring Examples
Speaking at the Harvard Commencement in June 2007, Bill Gates said:

“When you consider what those of us here have been given in talent, privilege and opportunity, there is almost no limit to what the world has a right to expect from us.”

We gathered here today, are even more privileged than those in Harvard. For, we have in our midst, Bhagavan, to teach and guide us as we strive to give back to society, what society has given to us! “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give,” said Winston Churchill.

While our ancient texts have laid down the way wealth should be distributed, a quarter for personal use, a quarter for charitable purposes, a quarter on other living beings, and a quarter in support of state, even in this materialistic world, there are a handful of the richest of men, who have set outstanding examples of giving back to serve the larger cause of humanity. Many of you would probably have read Warren Buffet’s recent announcement that he would donate 85% of his 44 billion dollar empire to charity to serve communities across the world and most importantly, without heed to religion, caste or community.

Inspired by such examples, Sai Youth, having imbibed Swami’s teachings of “Service to man is service to God” can play a prominent role in the establishment of a new world order. Participating actively in Swami’s Seva Organization and programs, be they providing water, food or medical care, gives Sai Youth a unique opportunity to serve with love under Divine Guidance.

How Can ‘I’ Start Service?
Opportunities to serve are everywhere; one does not have to search for them. They are in your neighbourhood and in your work place. As Swami says, you may not get a chance to participate in some gigantic scheme of service through which millions may be benefited, but you can lift a lame lamb over the side, or lead a blind child across a busy road. That too is an act of worship. If you look around you with love, service to others will come spontaneously and become an intrinsic part of our daily lives.

In the words of Bhagavan, the real value of seva and its most visible result is that it transforms and reshapes you. Devotion must be directed along the lines of duty and tested in the crucible of discipline, says Bhagavan.

Discipline – Indispensable for Success
“Why do we need discipline?” Swami’s analogy comparing life to a football game, gives us the answer. If any player can do anything with the ball, and there is neither foul nor out, neither offside nor goal, neither throw nor penalty, then it be a meaningless game incapable of giving joy. It is these rules and restrictions that give charm to the game of life. It is disciplined societies that emerge victorious.

Japan was decimated during World War II and Korea sank into poverty after the Korean War. It is discipline that has enabled the resurgence of both Japan and South Korea that has enabled both these countries and propelled them into being economic power houses. Discipline pervades every aspect of life in their society. Their daily routine, their work habits, their interaction with each other, and everything is done in a particular way at a particular time and with no deviations. In Japan, even the tea ceremony is a much disciplined affair. Quality, efficiency and excellence in everything they do are the hallmarks of these societies. It is individual discipline that translates into this kind of societal discipline and ensures success.

While discipline is a prerequisite in every endeavour, be it social, economic or material, it is even more vital for Sai youth aspiring to pursue the spiritual path. Swami expects the highest levels of discipline from his students and the youth, for it is this discipline that builds credibility, the foundation stone for leadership.

When a new employee joins a firm, both his seniors and his subordinates are watching him closely. Does he come to work on time? Does he do what he says he will? Does he deliver his assigned tasks on schedule? Is there unison in what he thinks, says and does? Is he willing to shoulder additional responsibilities? No one can succeed in his or her mission alone, and success depends upon the support we are able to garner from others and this support is garnered only through credibility established by the practice of personal discipline. People may not believe what you say. But they will surely believe what they see you do. Emerson, the American author had this to say. “What you are shouts so loudly in my ears that I cannot hear what you say.” It is character that communicates most eloquently.

Discrimination – The Most Vital Tenet
All of you gathered here are aspiring to be leaders in your own respective spheres of life. Besides demonstration by personal example, two key differentiators between leaders and others are determination and what Swami referred to this morning in His inaugural address as “The Power of Discrimination.”

Determination is widely acclaimed as the king of faculties and as the one that succeeds when everything else fails. Nothing can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with great talent. Genius will not. Nothing is more common than unrewarded genius! It is now almost like a proverb. Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

A distinction however may be made, between determination and obstinacy. An obstinate man is not open to suggestions and course corrections become impossible. In sharp contrast, a determined man has a flexible approach, keeps his eye on the goal post and freely takes inputs that help to further progress towards the goal. Obstinate people are filled with ego. Determination without a trace of ego or self-interest empowers the individual with a sharper sense of discrimination.

Discrimination is the ability to distinguish between good and bad, right and wrong, and take the correct decision, given a specific set of circumstances. What is right in one situation may not be right in another and leaders are often faced with difficult choices. But in every situation, discrimination implies applying the principle of dharma, the righteousness that upholds the universe.

A couple of examples. Each one of us has different roles that we play in life. The father at home is many times the boss at work, be it a small, medium, or large business. The factors that he takes when taking a decision vis-à-vis his son in his role as a father will be distinctively different from those that he uses when taking decisions at the work place. At the work place, he cannot take decisions based only on his son’s individual interest. For, these affect the larger good of the Organization. Therefore, necessarily, it has to be above self-interest. He needs to give up on mine and thine.

Hitler was a determined man. Why was he destroyed? His determination was filled with ego and megalomaniac tendencies. The larger good was not in sight. He lost his discrimination for his decisions were not based on the principles of Dharma.

While the Dharma for each person may be different, depending upon the role he plays, the basic principles of dharma, based on which discrimination is applied remain unchanged, namely, truth, love, fortitude and non-violence. These are the cornerstones of the practice of Dharma and upholding Dharma is the insignia of a true leader.

When there is Dharma, there is victory. And the protector of Dharma, will always be protected by Bhagavan. Devotion, Duty, Discipline, Determination and Discrimination are integral parts of the whole and need to come together in perfect balance to form the character of an ideal Sai Youth.

Each of these attributes cannot be viewed in isolation and when closely intertwined, make for a successful and holistic life. All of you, young delegates are filled with idealism, dreams and aspirations. In conclusion, I would like to share with you the words of Swami, that to me have been through the years, a joyous source of inspiration.

“Life is a Game, Play It! Life is a Challenge, Meet it! Life is Love, Enjoy it! Life is a Dream, Realize it!”

Jai Sri Sai Ram!

RadioSai Reference

Millions Flock From Around the World to India’s Hugging Guru

Amma

Amma


Millions Flock From Around the World to India’s Hugging Guru
Saturday, March 07, 2009

AMRITAPURI, India — The droves who come here leave with no souvenirs, no memories of posh hotels, nothing more than they brought.

All they came for was a hug.

The woman offering the soft embrace is considered a guru, and her tender approach and simple message have galvanized followers to amass in crowds thousands deep at stops around the globe. Part of the appeal of Mata Amritanandamayi, or Amma, as she is universally known, are teachings she says transcend any single faith, let alone simply her Hindu upbringing.

“My message is not unique,” she says through an interpreter. “There will ever only be one message capable of purifying man, nature, the atmosphere, the earth we live on and life itself. That message is: Act with compassion and love for all our fellow beings.”

The masses aren’t coming for Amma’s eloquence, though. Far more than any oratory, any dogma, any writings, people are drawn here by her touch, and so they line up and wait in marathon hugging sessions that can stretch 20 hours and more. The guru’s aides say she sleeps little, sometimes just an hour a night, but is as eager to hug her first visitor as her last.

Here, on these lush banks of the Arabian Sea near India’s southern tip, along backwaters dotted with coconut and cashew trees, Amma has built the capital of hugs. Her ashram, or spiritual center, is a maze of buildings reached by boat or a footbridge over a river.

Eventually, visitors find a large open-air auditorium with a group of men playing music and chanting, and lines of plastic chairs full of people awaiting their turn to walk up the ramp at stage right. When they finally make it, they enter a space so full of people it is hard to move.

Amma is finally in sight.

She is wrapped in a sheer white sari. Her dark hair is tinged with gray and pulled back, her face round, her features soft. Her ears and nose are pierced, and a red and gold dot is worn between her eyebrows. Her smile is beaming but imperfect. She looks older than her 55 years.

She offers hugs as aides come to her with varied questions about her multimillion-dollar charity network of hospitals and orphanages; she gesticulates frequently as she talks.

When the time comes, the visitor is nudged to sink to his knees before Amma’s makeshift throne covered in gold fabric. And, in an instant, it happens.

She holds the visitor’s head tightly between her shoulder and face, uttering in Malayalam what is unintelligible to the non-speaker. Some, she simply holds, others she gently strokes or pats their backs. Some are brief encounters; others last several minutes.

Some sob. Others can’t help but to break into a gaping smile of their own. Some tremble, believing they have been given a divine touch. Nearly everyone seems moved.

When it is over, Amma offers her visitor a small gift — often a hard candy or piece of fruit — and the line moves on. All told, her aides claim she has done this more than 25 million times.

“Her hugs are really like a sermon,” said Vasudha Narayanan, the director of the Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions at the University of Florida. “In her touch, in her hugs are the greatest teachings.”

The experience so moves some that they give up their lives to follow the guru. Dante Sawyer was editing a jazz magazine in New York when he first met Amma in 1998. He had never felt anything like it.

“You really experience a love that’s given completely, selflessly — it’s just like sunlight pouring out,” said 35-year-old Sawyer, who is known at the ashram simply as Sachin. “It’s a love that doesn’t have demands of you.”

Two years after first meeting Amma — a name that means mother in Malayalam — he moved here to dedicate his life to her work. Countless others have similar stories to tell.

Amma was named Sudhamani when born to a relatively poor family here and from childhood was said to have spent a great deal of time meditating, singing and chanting, fixing her eyes on a picture of Krishna.

As her followers tell it, she felt compassion for others from an early age, even to untouchables, and was driven to tears by others’ suffering. Her own family viewed her with disdain, even wondering if she was mentally ill, those who tell her story say, and she was beaten and treated as a servant. She even pondered suicide.

All sorts of lore surrounds her story, including miraculous claims of turning water to milk and allowing a poisonous cobra to flick its tongue against her own. However it happened, though, as a young woman she attracted a following. Some ridiculed her and deemed her a fraud, but the number of devotees grew, and people began to journey to her in the 1970s.

She became regarded as a guru, but unlike other Hindu spiritual masters, she allowed herself to be more than just seen, offering her touch to anyone who wanted it. Amma’s touch is seen as having the potential to ignite one’s spiritual power.

Critics remain, charging Amma’s movement amounts to a personality cult. They question the finances of her organization or even claim it is linked to radical groups. Amma and her followers reject such accusations.

Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri, considered Amma’s most senior disciple, says the guru has attracted so many followers because she is accessible to anyone and allows people to feel the presence of God.

“She is humble but firm as the earth,” he writes. “She is simple yet beautiful like the full moon. She is love, she is truth, she is the embodiment of renunciation and self-sacrifice.”

Today, her spiritual star power drives not only her popularity, but the success of international humanitarian efforts fueled by millions in donations. A visitor to her ashram is not asked to give anything, but many around the world do, funding her many Indian charitable endeavors, as well as massive relief for those affected by events such as the Asian tsunami.

She has a sleek Web site. Her movements are tracked on Twitter. She even has a logo.

At the end of her exceptionally long days, Amma climbs the steps to a simple studio apartment in a small peach-colored walk-up at the ashram. She will go to bed alone, having refuted her parents’ numerous attempts to arrange a marriage.

Amma received no formal education beyond the age of 10, and on this day, like every other, she has steered away from scriptural specifics. But her message is clear.

It is about taking as little as possible and giving the maximum, about embracing the core of faith.

It is, in essence, about a hug.

Fox News Reference