Parthi Pilgrimage from the perspective of Young Adults from the ACT Region

Sai Young Adults of Australia undertook a two-week pilgrimage to Prasanthi in January 2019. Joining this pilgrimage were three young adults from the ACT Region.

This pilgrimage provided the Young Adults opportunities to undertake sadhana (daily spiritual practice by which you bring out your best), listen and interact with guest speakers, participate in a musical offering at Kulwant Hall and visit many important landmarks in and around Prasanthi in Puttaparthi, India. The aim of the pilgrimage was to catalyse our spiritual energy and to increase our devotion for our beloved Sathya Sai Baba.

The trip was truly spectacular with every detail being taken care of by the organisers. The Young Adults received a lot of support in the lead up to the musical offering and were showered with love and wisdom during the guest speaker nights and had a once-in-a-lifetime experience of visiting Trayee Brindavan, or Trayee as it is more popularly known (it used to be Sathya Sai Baba’s residence during HIS visits to Whitefield) and listening to Smt Vijayamma Garu on the banks of the Chitravathi river.

We are forever grateful to have had this experience and long to bring what we have learnt during our pilgrimage back to our homes, Sai centres and Regions.

National Media Team Report

Its with great pleasure to share our National Media Focus with all Region officers, Centre/Group officers and all participants of Sai Australia. The intention is not only to share the report but also to inspire all of you to make the effort in understanding and cooperating with us in order to do Sathya Sai Baba’s mission. Media is an important element for spreading His teachings and Human Values to all corners of Australia. It is an effective vehicle to reach out to as many people within SAI and beyond.

We have a team of 12 experts in various areas of Media matters and are always working behind the scenes with our utmost cooperation and support in the process of editing and approval of all Publications /Media, and in posting/sharing on the Sai Australia Website, Facebook, Instagram (new – taking over from SYAA), Vimeo and YouTube channels with videos and monthly Sai Australia Snapshots (Sai News Australia). Listed below are the team members and you are welcome to contact me if you have the experience and interest to be a volunteer and part of our team:

National Media Committee:
Andy Raveendran – Chair, National Media Committee
Judy Rowling – Deputy Chair and Supervisor- Sai News/Snapshots
Dr Michael Thrush – General Editing and Supervisor – Web process Team
Kalendran Mahendrarajah – Webmaster and Admin for Sai Snapshots
Mark Proctor – Supervisor – Video, Videos Editing/approval and Vimeo Channel
Deluxmi Logendran – Sai Australia Snapshots – Editing and Compiling
Shiri Chandiran – Facebook Supervisor and Admin for NSW
Laavanya Nagendran – Facebook Admin for VIC, SA and TAS and possibly managing Instagram
Jasmine Fong – Facebook Admin for WA and NT
Vinti Singh – Possible Facebook Admin for QLD
Vishwa Naidu – YouTube admin, Video and Photography
Ahilan Satchithanandam – Photography

Another vital part of Media Reporting is contributed by Region Media Officers and without their commitment, dedication and timely submissions to National Media, we will be struggling to meet the needs of our tasks and reporting to various sources including Sai International Media. Our heart felt thanks to this this team for their ongoing support.

Region Media officers:
S Mangala – ACT
Jasmine Fong – WA
Surya Barelds – SA
Suneek Sukhnundan – QLD
Nirupa Prasad – NSW East
Venkata Gottumukkala – NSW West
Ananda Sewram – VIC East
Shaista Y – VIC West

Website posting:
A key requirement for posting on the website is the material should conform with our Media and Community Engagement objectives. To make our material accessible and positively engaging, we use language that is appropriate for the general Australian community. We avoid giving an impression of having a religious bias but rather present a multi-faith and multi-cultural approach. We promote examples showing the SSIO as a force for good in the community and we concentrate on Sathya Sai Baba’s (lovingly called Swami) message rather than focusing on His image.

This approach sometimes leads to material that is at variance with these guidelines and is often treated as an internal communication or announcements, rather than posting it on the website for general consumption.

Flyers:
The quality of our flyers has been very high over the last 12 months with some beautifully conceived designs from Centres/Regions and appropriate messages being presented as the general rule. One area of improvement that could assist further would be a restricted use of Swami’s image on our flyers. When it is considered that our website headers have a beautiful photo of Swami, and adding to that our flyers in many cases showing other photos of Swami it can potentially give a cultish impression to the general public. It has been suggested before that more discrimination needs to be exercised with His image on our material. Any activities to do with SAI and its publicity should do with a degree of Transformation hence that should be the reflection of our Flyers & including with appropriate Swami’s Quotes.

Reporting:
Whilst there have been quite a few very good reports received during the year, it is still an area that can be improved upon. Guidelines are available for these productions, which are vital for promoting our organisation, not for publicity sake, but to show the public what we do and to give greater exposure of the transforming nature of Swami’s teachings. Reports can be of activities just completed or of items such as ongoing service that has been played out over extended periods such as feeding the homeless, or long-term nursing home visits, etc. Most Region Media officers are actively engaged and others’ involvement is critically required too.

Photography:
Another area needing improvement is the production of quality photos documenting our activities for inclusion in our reports. The photos also need to meet our Media and Community Engagement objectives/guidelines. To be effective, they should show the people positively engaged in the proceedings, (smile and laughter are always nice), reflect our multi-faith, multi-culture credo and not inadvertently create controversy by insensitivity to other religions’ feelings, such as including an altar for Swami with celebrations for Christmas or some other religion’s holy day. This requires the photographer to be looking for appropriate material, rather than just taking a lot of shots. I acknowledge that it is not an easy task, especially with the limited cultural mix in our groups and sometimes the placement of our altars in relation to the stage. Photos speak a thousand words and your photos are key with the action rather than group/posing photos.

Facebook:
We have a good team for administering Facebook with a corresponding admin for each state. Please send all quality original photos and a brief report to anyravi.mediaaustralia@gmail.com
It’s really great to see participation from SYAA and most Regions except one or two Regions but we need support from all Regions. We need Photos from all Regional/Centre Activities for sharing with entire Sai Australia for lifting each other, inspiring each other and to grow spiritually together. Focusing on your Centre/Region is good but sharing with rest of Australia & Overseas is really great. Thanks to those regions who are sharing at present … Others please consider and start providing going forward.

Website Access
Throughout 2018 – Busy hits in particular months of Jan, Mar, Jul, Nov and Dec – 5 months and the usage Hits from:
AUS – 6915 whereas from USA 3982, India 2683 New Zealand and France – approx. 1000, and from 10 other countries in 100’s… It’s great to see that our Website is popular not only in Australia but it’s spreading worldwide. You can confidently introduce our website to your friends and your families enabling for them to realise that our activities are spiritual, educational and service oriented, moreover it’s universal.

YouTube
Our target was 500 by end of 2018 but we reached with 413 subscribers. Noticed that 50% of users are from Overseas and it’s time for more of our local members to sign on. It will be great to have some skilful volunteers to come forward with Video recording/editing from various states. Currently we have two official Video experts in NSW and one in VIC. We are hoping at least one and preferred two for each state.

Vimeo Channel/Archive Videos
We would love to have more videos coming from all states to be loaded on Vimeo channel. Obviously, we are looking for quality skilful and committed people from other states with the edited videos as mentioned above. There are Archive Videos on http://multimedia.saiaustralia.org.au/sai-archives-australia/ Those who have had personal experience interacting with Swami’s physical form are welcome to come forward for recording your interview with the Archive video team, provided you are willing to be interviewed and believing that your experience would be inspiring others.

Sai Australia Snapshots
We started off with mailing list of 228 with National officers/ Region and Centre presidents, launched from the month of June 2018 and then gradually increased each month and by Dec 2018, mailing list went up to 320 – All up only additional 100 subscriptions from ordinary members in the last six months.
Its’ rather unfortunate to see, not many local members either are not aware or not interested! It’s also been noticed that one or two Regional and some Centre Presidents have not opened or not forwarded to Centre Members in some months. Once the number goes up by members starting to subscribe themselves for receiving Sai Snapshots directly to their email, this will become a best outcome for all concerned with greater participation. Please promote for the optimum results.

Region Media Officers
Not all Region media Officers are functioning and it’s really up to the Leaders to make them do their role appointed for, passing on Reports/photos in timely manner to National media Team. Thanks to those Regions and Media officers currently doing the role effectively. You do not want your Region /Centre activities not being shared Nationally /Internationally, this is not for publicity but for inspiring, lifting all and progressing together.

Region Presidents & Centre/Group Presidents
Thanks to your great support in HIS mission of promoting His teachings and human values through the Media Sources to-date and please make 2019 a better year with more participation, more reporting, promoting more members to use our social media and consider passing on Media matters/Guideline pack to next term new officers.

Lastly and importantly:
Media team humbly and lovingly urge not only all Regional/Centre leaders but also to promote each and every single SAI member to support the Media, become the Media and to work together with that focus of mission of transformation – each Sai member be the changing agent walking with Swami and making His presence in you as equally in others.

With SAI Love.

– Email: andyravi.mediaaustralia@gmail.com
– Website: https://saiaustralia.org.au
– Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SSIOAU
– YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/SaiAustralia
– Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/saiaustralia

My SAI and I – ACT Region

The tenth session of the “My Sai and I” series in Canberra and 12th session within the “My and I”series nationally, was held in Canberra on 23 February 2019. The venue for this event was the Tamil Senior Citizens’ Centre in Isaacs and the guest speaker was Dr Mohan Bhullar.

Dr Mohan is a dentist by profession and first moved to Australia in 1971 as a student. He spent his childhood in Malaysia prior to moving Australia for his studies. His Wife, Jo, is a qualified nurse by profession and has been a core member of the Sai Organisation in Canberra since its inception.

Dr Mohan was first introduced to Swami by his younger sister in Malaysia in 1982 and visited Prashathi Nilayam, the abode of Sathya Sai Baba, in 1983 for the very first time. Since then Dr Mohan and his wife, Jo, have been ardent followers of Sathya Sai Baba and have taken up many roles within the Sathya Sai Organisation of Australia and & PNG. Dr Mohan served as the South Canberra Sai Centre’s president and later as the president of the ACT Region. He also was the convener of the Australian National Sai Conference in Canberra in 1998 and has been a faculty member and administrator of the Australian Institute of Sathya Sai Education.

Dr Mohan’s talk centred around his introduction to Sathya Sai Baba by his youngest sister and the many trips to Puttaparthi during the period 1982 -1998, the learnings from these trips and the very light hearted interactions he and his wife, Jo, has had with Sathya Sai Baba. Dr Mohan also touched on his search for other Sai followers in Australia in 1980s to learn more about Sathya Sai activities, formation of Sai Centres in Canberra and the early challenges encountered by those in the Sai fold in Canberra. Key highlights from this talk are given below:

  • Detailed description of life in Prashanthi during the period Dr Mohan and his wife travelled to India
  • The stories behind some of the Sathya Sai Baba photographs that were in their house
  • One of the light hearted banters with Sathya Sai Baba that Dr Mohan shared was that during an interview the Sai followers in his group had complained to Sathya Sai about a lady who was very active as a seva dal (i.e., volunteer force) and many felt that she was being unjust with the many followers who thronged to see Sathya Sai Baba. Hence, they had asked Sathya Sai Baba to do something about it and Sathya Sai Baba had quipped that HE too was scared of the seva dal.
  • Dr Mohan became vegetarian soon after his visit to Prashanthi Nilayam along with his wife Jo. However, the pleasure of having glass of wine after work or while entertaining friends was a tad too difficult to give up. He had promised that he would give up as soon as he emptied his stock. One day while enjoying a glass of wine his glass for no apparent reason fell to the ground and into many pieces. Dr Mohan said that his wife had quipped “you know who is behind that” and with that he gave up drinking wine. He also briefly touched on how one’s social circle changes when one’s values and way of life undergo a re-alignment.
  • Dr Mohan apparently never wore a ring after his marriage as he was of the view the soul was not tied to anything. But, Sathya Sai Baba had given him a ring during one of the interviews he had and from then on he wore that ring
  • During a dharshan one of the gentlemen next to him was quite restless and his restlessness impacted Dr Mohan and he found him an annoyance. However, he had met this very gentleman later and had found him to be very pleasant and friendly. Hence, ones need to be careful when judging others based on one incident.
  • Dr Mohan concluded his talk by saying that he felt fortunate to have been introduced to Sathya Sai and his teaching.

    Healthy Ageing Seminar

    The event was very successful and had a good turnout. The seminar was opened by Dr Lodhia from Sai Medical Unit and followed by dynamic speakers from various professions including general practitioners, dietitian, podiatrist and a yoga instructor. The audience were engaged and inspired to actively take care and maintain their health.

    More information on this workshop

    Bhajan Workshop – ACT Region

    The ACT spiritual wing conducted devotional singing workshop entitled Mergence through Music. The workshop was aimed to deliver the nuances of devotional signing to all lead, aspiring lead and chorus singers with the objective “How to create Bhaava”? Devotional singing is the primary spiritual activity of the Sai Organisation. Bhagavan has told us that singing the name of the lord is the easiest path to attain divinity in Kali age.

    The workshop was facilitated through snippets on different components of devotional singing like importance of practice, song selection, meaning and pronunciation, role of instruments, etc. through short videos by the members of the prashanti bhajan group with live examples by talented members of the ACT Sai Young Adults.

    The three-hour interactive workshop gave information to attendees as to the importance of focusing on key areas of group devotional singing activity and provided answers to all their questions.

    Clean Up Australia Day -2019

    The Sathya Sai International Organisation of Australia & PNG is a regular contributor to the Clean Up Australia Campaign. The objectives of the campaign sit well with the philosophies of the organisation of community selfless service and a responsibility for our environment based on gratitude for all the benefits nature and society bestows on us. This year the campaign was on Sunday, 4 March 2019.

    Victoria Region East

    The Clean Up Australia Day was held at two venues in the Region Easton Sunday, 3 March 2019. First venue was Greaves Reserve in Dandenong which was attended by SSE children, parents and their teachers along with some young-adults and adults. The children as always were enthusiastic about taking part in the Clean Up day as they got to be outdoors in the park and helped to do Service to the Community. The children received certificates in appreciation to their contribution to the environment and collecting a lot of rubbish that would otherwise end up in the Creek bed and block waterways. The second venue was Gardiners Creek Trail at Boxhill South. The participation here included young adults and adults. Once again,all participants provided Service to our Community and the environment. All work has been acknowledged by their local council and is part of Community Engagement activity.

    Sathya Sai Centre of Carlingford – NSW

    On March 03-2019, the Carlingford Sai centre members gathered in Boronia Park Epping, NSW at 9 a.m. to clean the park and surrounding area for Clean Up Australia Day.

    We had 26 Sai members participate in this activity joined by 3 non-Sai members.

    More than half of the members were SSE children who were divided into groups to cover the area. After the registration and brief introduction, they were all ready with non-recyclable and recyclables bags to do the job.

    The PreSSE-Gr2 were unstoppable, with so much energy and enthusiasm.  They found bottles, paper and plastic bags, many glass pieces, rubber lids and bands, plastic wrappers and many other kinds of garbage.  They also found a cap (which was quite new), and as a group we decided to leave it behind on the tree.  When the time was up to stop the activity, unanimously the kids were very sad to not being able to continue.

    The adults specialised to clean the area around the Coles car park (which was adjacent to the Boronia Park).  Talking to the volunteers who were part of this group, I hear they too had a lot to clean.  It was sad to see most of the items were recyclable.

    At end of the day, kids received their certificate of appreciation, from Clean Up Australia.

    Following up with the clean up activity, kids also got the opportunity to play games and have picnic lunch with parents and young adults.

    As Swami says “Nature is not anyone’s private property, it belongs to God” (SSS Vol22, Ch 17). We realised how lucky we are to have pure water and air around us and appreciate our mother nature. Therefore, it is our duty to do the right thing and preserve our nature for the future.

    Thank you, Swami, for giving us this day to work together as one family and be part of Clean Up Australia Day.

    ACT Region

    On Sunday 3 March 2018, the Sai followers in the ACT region got together at Edison Park in Woden to take part in the nation-wide initiative, Clean Up Australia Day. The objective of Clean Up Australia Day is to help protect and care for the environment by empowering communities to clean up, fix up and conserve the environment. The Clean Up Australia Organisation aims to foster relationships between communities, businesses and the government to address environmental issues of waste, water and climate change.

    The Sathya Sai International Organisation of Australia and PNG gives importance to environmental care. Sathya Sai Baba in His Divine Discourse on 22 August 2007 has said “Not only in the field of education, but changes have now crept in the area of health. Earlier, people used pitchers, plates, and pots made of clay by local artisans. After some time, stainless steel utensils replaced the clay utensils. But now plastic pitchers, plates, and pots have come into vogue. These plastic articles have exposed man to great dangers. The plastic bags and other articles have created enormous waste material which is not biodegradable. Even if you bury it underground, it does not decompose and remains as it is even after many years. Much land is being spoiled by this plastic waste. Vegetables grown in such land are harmful to man. In this way, many harmful changes have crept in the life of man today”.

    Clean Up Australia Day was a great way for the all Sai followers in the ACT Region  including Sai Spiritual Education (SSE ) students and Young Adults to come together to help clean up the local area. On the day, the participants were provided with one bag for general rubbish and another bag for recyclable rubbish. The participants spent the morning walking through Edison Park and allocating rubbish into the respective bags.  It was amazing to see about 41 attendees come together for this cause especially given the importance that Swami has placed on the connection between God, Nature and Man and the need for us to practice Human Values and ‘Ceiling on Desires’, for the purpose of taking care of our environment and for our own spiritual upliftment.

    Sathya Sai Centre of Blacktown – NSW

    Sathya Sai Centre of Bonnyrigg- NSW

    Sathya Sai Centre of Hoxton Park- NSW

    Sathya Sai Centre of Westmead – NSW

    Victoria Region West