Centres and Regions across Australia chose to celebrate the occasion of Guru Purnima in a variety of ways this year. Below are a few glimpses into some of the offerings and celebrations.
Toowoomba Service Activity
The Toowoomba Sai Centre organised a service opportunity as part of their Guru Purnima Celebrations. A total of 24 grocery packs were donated by Toowoomba Sai Centre to Mission Australia. The packs were warmly received with great joy and appreciation. The donation packs were distributed to the local Toowoomba refugee community, largely consisting of families from Afghanistan.
QLD Regional Celebrations
VIC East Nursing Home Visits
The Guru Purnima service offerings kicked off in Victoria East last weekend on the 1st July with the nursing home singing activity being the first. This service activity included energetic renditions of old time classics, interactive games and lots of dancing performed by the young adults, which the residents thoroughly enjoyed. The majority of the service attendees were young adults.
Trillion Trees Challenge – SYA of WA
“There is not greater example of Selfless Love, than Nature” – Sathya Sai Baba
As part of their Guru Purnima offering, the SYA of WA have undertaken a series of service activities. One of these was attending a local Trillion Trees Challenge planting site. As they were planting the young adults lovingly dedicated each tree to a person to encourage the heart to heart connection with their task.
NSW Nursing Home Visits
On Saturday 4 August 2018, 90 members across NSW came together to offer the final service for Guru Purnima. Members visited 6 nursing homes across metropolitan NSW. The nursing homes were located in Quakers Hill, Greystanes, Merrylands, Baulkham Hills, Carlingford and Ryde. These visits incorporated the positive and refreshing energy of the Young Adults, Adults and SSE children collectively, which allowed us to spread Sathya Sai Baba’s love and joy with the residents.
Nursing home visits gave us the opportunity to come together and promote the message of love and peace that our beloved Sai Baba emphasises. Through music and games, we were able to interact and bond with individual residents. Members were also inspired by the enriching life experiences shared by the residents. We were blessed to come across couples who have been married for 50 years and are continuing to venture through this journey of life together. It is always challenging to walk into a foreign environment and trying to engage with strangers, but through Sai’s grace, we were able to interact with the residents through games, music and dancing. In one instance, the music and atmosphere was so lively that a resident believed that Christmas had come early. We left each nursing home with a promise to return very soon, eagerly embracing our theme for GP 2018: Endless Service, Timeless Love.
Let us all continue our journey of service with our beloved Sathya Sai’s words in mind – “Service gives widespread pleasure and happiness for all mankind. In fact, service is the first step along the spiritual path, for service to man is service to God.”
NSW – Devotional Offering
The Guru Purnima devotional offering was held on Saturday 28 July 2018 at Marsden High School, West Ryde. The theme for the month long activities was ‘Endless Service, Timeless Love’. The service part of the Guru Purnima activities included a simple spiritual discipline plan which incorporated the Body, Mind and Soul, blood donation, clothes donations, nursing home visits and tree planting and bush care activities which coincided with National Tree Day on 29 July 2018.
The devotional offering commenced with devotional singing followed by a drama by some of the young adults from both Region East and West. The drama depicted the Body, Mind and Soul aspects in a family environment comprising a mother and her daughters. The daughters (named Mindy and Soul) lovingly called their mother Bodyma. The sisters were completely different from each other; the older sister Sou was very calm, spiritually minded and eager to teach Mindy about spirituality and the benefits derived from reading Sai literature and doing daily meditation. The mother was constantly exercising and encouraging her daughters to lead a healthy lifestyle which included a healthy body, sound mind and a peaceful soul. The play was well written and the young adults certainly made every effort to drive home the message of caring for your body, mind and soul equally.
The play was followed by a presentation on the service activities that were undertaken by the young adults as part of Guru Purnima, and the event concluded with more devotional singing. It was a very well executed program and the take home message was clear to all who attended.
The WA Region celebrated Guru Poornima with its members on the 29th of July, a Sunday morning. This year’s inspirational theme was “Service to Man, is Service to God”.
In line with the theme, the members began the event by packing dental items for the homeless of Perth. Children, youth and adults worked together in an assembly line, packing toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash and floss into a dental kit.
Following the service activity, the Sai Youth Adult presented their service offerings for Guru Poornima, including Liquid Love, Trillion Tree planting challenge, Sai Youth Mentoring service and cooking for the homeless. There was also a launch of a new service initiative program called SOS (Service our Sai families) and sharing of inspirational stories and the Nepal SSIO service Service Video and the National Conference 2019 video.
Guru Poorinma in the ACT Region was commemorated on Sunday, 29 July 2018 between 9.30 am to 11.30 am.
The program began with Ragavan, Master of Ceremonies (MC) welcoming approximately 100 Sai followers who had gathered at the Senior Citizen’s Centre hall in Turner on a very crisp cold Canberra morning to commemorate Gurua Poorinma. The altar was simple but aptly decorated with a combination of candles on two iron candle stands, pine corns and green leaves and fresh flowers that was not only inviting but provided a warm and rustic feel that wintery morning.
Ragavan briefly noted the significance of the Guru Poornima and that the best form of worship of the Guru is to follow his teachings, shine as the very embodiment of his teachings and propagate his glory and his message. Ragvan steered the program by announcing each of the segments.
The first item in the program was the recitation of Guru Stotram and Sai Satguru Stotram by the Sai Young Adults of the ACT Region. Next, in the program was an offering in the form of a play by the Sai Young Adults of the ACT Region titled “Pure Love”.
The play was woven around a queen from ancient times whose kingdom was plagued by drought with peasants folk in the kingdom undergoing a lot of hardships. However, the queen despite the advice of her Minister continues to raise the taxes and burdens the farmers further with severe hardships. The queen’s trusted advisor, the magical mirror, shows the queen how the peasants were coping under her callous rule. The magical mirror also shows how one peasant despite all the hardships was supporting his fellow peasants by sharing whatever little produce he had. The queen was not impressed with the peasants who helped others and felt that they were squirreling away their wealth and were not contributing to her kingdom. The queen smashes the magical mirror into two when the mirror continues take her on a tour of her kingdom. As soon as the mirror is shattered, the queen is transported to the dark forests with none of her finery. The queen lies all alone in the forest hungry and tired when a passing robber steals from her a few gold coins she had in her possession. The queen continues to roam looking for food and shelter and when a kind women gives her only scarf as covering for the night. The queen asks food from an elderly peasant in return of the gold coin she has in her possession. The elderly peasant says that gold is of no use to her and that in their world one needs able bodies to do work and bring in the daily produce. The elderly peasant indicates shows cow dung and asks the queen if she can assist her to build her hearth as the parched and arid land has not provided them with the required food. The queen initially was reluctant to soil her hands but relents does the household chores for the elderly peasant in return for food and continues her journey. The queen meets the robber who stole the gold coins from her looking hungry and offers whatever food she had been given by the elderly peasant. The robber is surprised and the queen says that she now understands that Love is the essence of life and love seeks nothing in return. Immediately the curse is broken and the queen is transported back to her kingdom and the queen immediately instructs to remove any taxes that burden the people in her kingdom and rules her kingdom with love being the focal point.
The second item was a talk by Peter Fenner, the latest addition to the Canberra Sai Community. Peter, for over a period of 40 years has distilled the essence of traditions like Zen and the Buddhist Middle Way, and adapted them to suit our post-modern culture. In addition Peter also has served as the Senior Lecturer in Asian Philosophy at Deakin University, Australia and visiting lecturer at the Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning.
Peter said that though he had been a Sai follower for about 20 years he had not publicly spoken about Sathya Sai Baba and that it was he was only speaking because of Sathya Sai’s divine play or leela. Peter said that Guru Worship is an important element in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist traditions where the Guru, the spiritual guide and teacher is remembered with love and gratitude. Peter had good fortune to meet his first Guru, Tibetan lama Thubten Yeshe, founder of The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition in 1974. He met Sathya Sai in 1998. Peter said that during his visit to Puttaparthi he did not leave as intended and stayed longer and felt that this was again Sathya Sai’s divine play. Peter also says that the ways of the guru cannot be discerned by the mind and that the guru is the one who, through his own direct experience may teach and lead a spiritual aspirant along the path to right living and enlightenment and the spiritual spirant should willingly surrender to the Guru.
The third item was a very uplifting devotional singing. Some of the devotional songs sung on this day included the following: Prema Sai Parthi Sai, ‘Guru Mahima Gao, Shirdi Sai Parthi Sai, I am God, Guru Nanak Ji Ki Jai Kaar with musical instruments tastefully selected to accompany the devotional songs and thus accentuating the singing.
The fourth item was a discourse by Sathya Sai Baba delivered during the Guru Poornima celebrations of 1988. The heart of this discourse was that it is time to put into practice all the spiritual learnings and that essence of all teachings is love. The discourse ends with Sathya Sai singing the devotional song “Prema Muditha” and all the Sai followers congregating that day sang along with him. This devotional song not only energised all but was a fitting end to the program.
The final item in the day’s program was the vote of thanks by Mayavan, President, ACT Region’s Sathya Sai International Organisation of Australia and PNG. Mayavan thanked all for their presence and reminded the reason for congregating that day at the Turner Senior Citizens’ hall was to contemplate and practice the teachings of Sathya Sai in our daily life. This was why in October 1940, when Sathya Sai Baba declared His mission and the first message as the Avatar of the age was to teach the devotional song, “Manasa Bhajare Guru Charanam, Dusthara Bhava Sagara Taranam…” which means ‘O Mind, take refuge at the feet of the Guru; He will guide you across this ocean called life’. Mayavan thanked Peter for his insightful talk, the Ladies’ Wing for their efforts in setting up the altar, Young Adults for their offering in the form of a play and all lead singers and musicians for their dedication. Mayavan used the vote of thanks as an opportunity to update all on following upcoming National and Regional Sai activities by showing either a short promotional video or the flyer:
The program concluded with Aarti, distribution of vibuthi and serving of light lunch which was organised by the Ladies’ Wing and comprised of rice, dhal curry, mixed vegetable curry, potato curry and fruit platters,
The focal point of any Guru Purnima celebration is to turn back and review and how much one has progressed in life. This year it appears that we in the ACT region through our Guru Poornima commemorations focused on how to advance on our spiritual journey by making Love the focal point, the human heart visible and letting Sathya Sai be our personal coach in our spiritual journey.