Sri Sathya Sai: A Saga of Service and Sacrifice - Manoj C.

Bhagavan performing Narayana Seva

The Lord blessed me with the good fortune of being at His Lotus Feet for four years. Though in no way devoted, disciplined or dedicated to earn this grace, the Lord out of His compassion granted this rare opportunity hoping that I make the best use of it. Let me take this opportunity to share a few things that I have learnt, experienced and witnessed. 

The first thing that comes to mind is Swami’s emphasis on service. For Swami, Love in action is service. Swami declared that in Kali Yuga, when man’s perverted thinking prevents him from performing penance as done by the saints and sages of yore, the royal route to liberation is service and Namasmarana. As the Lord always does, He shows the way by undertaking mammoth service projects. ­The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Drinking water supply projects and the Grama Seva are some of the pioneering projects undertaken and supervised by the Lord. ‘Grama Seva’, a mammoth exercise undertaken by the staff and students of the Sri Sai Institute of Higher Learning under the immediate and direct guidance of Bhagavan has taken the concept of service to a new realm. Nowhere in the world do we have an educational system where selfless village service is a part of the curriculum. Recently, Swami was very pleased when the youth of Kerala prayed for Swami’s blessing and permission to carry out ‘Grama Seva’ in the villages of Kerala. 

My memory goes back to an incident that took place years ago. In those days, Swami used to arrange for Narayana Seva on a grand scale and ‘Lord Narayana’ Himself used to serve food to ‘Daridra Narayanas’. All the students were assigned various tasks connected with the programme, with the exception of the eighth class students. On seeing these boys Swami asked them as to what work they were doing. The little ones replied that they do not have any task left as the senior boys are taking care of everything. Swami immediately replied that they should at least go and serve water and thereby earn some merit. What a revelation! Let this statement be etched in our memory and let us take selfless service as our foremost Sadhana. 

The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences situated at Puttaparthi and Bangalore, where ‘Kuchela’ and ‘Kubera’ are treated alike, where he medical services are provided free of cost is a trendsetter and the idea, though not on the same scale, is being replicated elsewhere.

The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning turns out hundreds of efficient and enthusiastic youngsters eager to spread the message of the Lord. This educational set-up is one of its kind in the world, where education from KG to PG is provided free of cost, not compromising on the quality of education. If these are not examples of exemplary service, then how does one define service? Let us also not forget the fact that in addition to this, millions of people, inspired, blessed and guided by our Lord are carrying out innumerable service activities in every nook and corner of the globe. If the Avatar Himself is ready to serve mankind, then why not man get out from the clutches of ego and serve his fellowmen? 

Sai is synonymous with ‘Sacrifice’. The Lord of Lords, who is waited upon by crores of Gods and Goddesses, and who is constantly served by Sri Lakshmi and Adisesha, spends all His time and effort for the benefit of mankind, teaching them the highest truth and leading them to the highest treasure, not for a second thinking about Himself or His physical body. Every day of His existence, nay, every second of His is spent to cajole, comfort, guide, guard and uplift the ailing mankind. I have not seen a greater personification of sacrifice in my life. Swami once mentioned that ‘kashaya’ represents sacrifice and that one who wears ‘kashaya’ should lead a life of sacrifice. The happenings in the recent past bear testimony to this. In spite of suffering from physical ailments, which cannot be borne by an ordinary mortal, Swami rarely alters His daily schedule. He grants us the privilege of His Divine Darshan, spends time with students and devotees and even goes to the extent of sitting for long hours to watch the programmes put up by them. What does the Lord, who is constantly entertained by celestial beings with their mesmerising songs and dance, gain by watching the programmes presented by us mortals? Nothing! Never does our Lord think of Himself and all at He does is to give, give and give and to love, love and love. He often mentions that He is ready to do anything for the happiness of His students and devotees. 

Bhagavan is ready to go to any extent to give joy and happiness to His devotees and students and more importantly all the while never does He feel that He is doing all this for someone else, for He sees Himself in all of us. Though I have learnt many things and imbibed good qualities during my stay as His student, these two qualities and attitude remain etched in my memory and I believe that to be successful in life one needs to have them in plenty. Swami is the One who showers His grace on one and all unasked. He is the One who bestows boons on His devotees, and finally He is the One who grants us liberation. Let us offer our lives at his Divine Lotus Feet so that He carves a masterpiece out of it. Let us not forget this- 

Life without Sai is a Hopeless End; Life with Sai is an Endless Hope.

- Manoj C.
Student (2003-2005), Department of Economics
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus
Currently, Research Analyst at BankDhofar
Sultanate of Oman

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