Sai Australia

Sathya Sai International Organisation, Zone 3, Region 31

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T ‘Wenty’ – Five: the 25th Anniversary Celebrations of the Sathya Sai Centre of Wentworthville

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The Sathya Sai Centre of Wentworthville celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. The celebrations were held in two parts. The first part consisted of a birthing kit project held in June, where approximately 50 members joined in to pack 800 birthing kits. The second part of the celebration was a devotional program held in September, which included a musical offering, video presentations, speeches and devotional singing. Below is a personal reflection on the history of Wentworthville Sai Centre by one of its members.

A brief history of Wentworthville Sai Centre and my association

In 1984 a few Sai devotees from Lautaka Centre, Fiji had migrated to Australia. They used to meet and conduct weekly bhajans at John Chand’s residence in Parramatta. In 1993 John Chand (an industrialist), along with Kannan Reddy (a talented artist and instrumentalist), Jay Singh (a lawyer and former Member of Parliament in Fiji) and Jack undertook the important initiative of starting a Sai Centre at John’s new house in Toongabbie.

On the 12th of June 1993, Toongabbie Sai Centre was officially inaugurated by the Central Coordinator at the time for the Sathya Sai Organisation of Australia, the late T. Sri Ramanthan at Guiren Place, Toongabbie. The centre had all wings and programs (Devotion, Service, and Education wings, and the Young Adults and Ladies programs) and weekly bhajans were held on Friday evenings.

My mother-in-law (sister of Dr Somasundaram, a pioneer Sai devotee in Jaffna, Sri Lanka and a dedicated Sai devotee) wanted my three sons aged 13, 10 and 6 years old to attend Bal Vikas (SSE). I enrolled my three sons in the first batch of Bal Vikas classes held on Sunday mornings at the centre. Shammi Chand, who was the Bal Vikas teacher in Fiji, conducted the classes. The children enjoyed the classes and they learned about human values at an early age, in addition to devotional singing, story-telling, acting in dramas and being involved in the group.
We were made welcome by the Centre members and gradually we started to lead devotional songs and were invited to participate in Centre activities. Within a few months, a number of Sai devotees from Sri Lanka joined in and also participated in the Centre. We had regular study circles and Ladies Program held their activities in devotees’ houses. Devotional singing at devotees’ homes were regular features of the Centre.

Very soon the Centre’s weekly sessions was moved to the public school in Fitzwilliam Road, Toongabbie to accommodate the growing number of devotees. Later the location was moved to Darcy Road Public School in Wentworthville. I had the opportunity to serve as the Service Coordinator and Devotion Co-ordinator of the Centre activities. My help in publishing, videoing and editing continue to help the Centre.

Following the rules of the Sai Organisation, the name of the Centre was changed from Toongabbie Sai Centre to Wentworthville Sai Centre to correctly reflect its location.

The service activities undertaken by the Centre in the past included feeding the homeless at Parramatta Park once a week, cleaning at the Sydney Murugan Temple once a month, collecting non-perishable food and old (good) clothes for the needy, visiting nursing homes, soup kitchen, adopting a road, tree planting, school cleaning, Telecross and blood donation.

In November 1996, on behalf of Wentworthville Sai Centre, I started to edit a monthly publication called “Sainet Journal” and later this journal was named as “Aum Sai Journal”. Being the only Sai Journal published in Australia at the time, by the request of the late T. Sri Ramanathan (Central Coordinator), the journal became a quarterly publication of the Sathya Sai Organisation of Australia & Papua New Guinea. It was renamed as the Australian Aum Sai Journal. The last issue of AASJ (No. 52) was published in Summer 2003.

Wentworthville Sai Centre played an important part in my life in Australia for the past 25 years. Wentworthville Sai Centre is helping all us to progress spiritually, independent of our differences in age and race, and to cultivate the most important human value of love in our heart. Meeting equal minded people promotes spiritual growth.

I have been fortunate to visit many Australian (Tasmania, Brisbane, Canberra, Geelong, Perth) and international Sai Centres in Singapore, New Zealand (Auckland, Christchurch), Hong Kong, Japan (Tokyo), USA (San Jose), Canada (Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary), Brazil (Recife), Fiji (Lautoka), Mexico, Chile (Santiago) and Sri Lanka (Colombo and Batticaloa. Sai Baba has helped me through his devotees from other parts of the world for my safety while travelling through unknown countries.

Although we have lost some of our dedicated Sai family over the years, I am happy to still see the steady growth of our Wentworthville Sai family. Many young adults and children are very much involved in the progress of the Sai Centre to benefit from the teachings of our beloved Sathya Sai Baba. Wentworthville Sai Centre is looking forward to another 25 years (and more) of success with committed young Sai devotees by the Grace of Sathya Sai Baba.

– Sriravindrarajah Rasiah


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‘Mind Your Mental Health’ Workshop

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A workshop titled “Mind Your Mental Health” was held on 1 September 2018 at the Senior Citizens’ Centre in Turner, Canberra.

This workshop is the third medical workshop by Canberra doctors in partnership with the Sai Medical Unit and ACT Region’s Sathya Sai International Organisation of PN&G. The workshop was organised close to R U OK? Day which falls on 13 September 2018, a national day of action dedicated to reminding everyone that any day is the day to ask, “Are you okay?” to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life.

Sathya Sai Baba said in 1959 that man suffers from two types of ills – physical and mental. They are caused by disequilibrium of the three tempers and three gunas (attribute or personality). Physical health is a prerequisite for mental health, and mental health ensures physical health.

Sathya Sai has further stated that “we suffer from ill health due to psychological reasons also. If you examine your pulse, blood pressure, temperature, etc., with feeling or fear that you are unwell, you will get abnormal readings. If you have the apprehension that you will not get good sleep, it will happen accordingly. So, always try to have a positive outlook and self-confidence that your health is all right. Today, one is called an old man if he attains the age of sixty or seventy. But in olden days, people were considered young even at the age of 80, 90, or 100. You might have read in the [Hindu epic] Mahabharata that at the time of the Kurukshetra War (5,500 years ago), Krishna and Arjuna were 86 and 84 years old respectively. But they were in youthful condition and participated in the war with vigour, vitality, and valour. Who was the Commander-in-Chief of the Kaurava army? It was the 116 year old Bhishma. If it were to be today, a 116 year old man would be confined to his cot, with his body shaking all over and needing others’ help even for getting up from bed. But, Bhishma fought fiercely for nine days. How do you account for this? It was because of their mental strength, nourishing food, and above all Self-confidence (i.e. confidence in the real self, or Atma).” – Summer Showers, 1990, p17.

The Mental Health Awareness Workshop was carefully designed to cover a range of age and gender groups and create an awareness of mind-related issues including when to seek a medical professional’s assistance and how this professional can meet the needs of those affected with love and compassion. In addition, the workshop also aimed to dispel some of the myths relating to mental health such as ‘mental illness is a death sentence’, ‘mental illnesses are all the same’, ‘some cultural groups are more likely than others to experience mental illness’ etc.

The workshop had about 100 participants including the volunteers and health professionals. Each participant was warmly welcomed by volunteers and provided a hand out on depression, the most common mental health issue found across all age and gender groups. The attendees at this workshop came from diverse communities and age groups with approximately fifty per cent of the attendees coming from non-Sai backgrounds. The workshop covered the following topics: mental health in children, womanhood and mind, mental health in men, laughter yoga and its benefits to mental health and mental health and spirituality.

Key points from the workshop were:

  • an introduction to anxiety, depression and behavioural issues in children, and factors such as child characteristics, family and parent characteristics and roles played by the immediate and external environment in increasing the susceptibility of children to mental health issues.
  • information on other mental health issues in children and adolescent such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), autism, and learning disorders such as dyslexia and how early intervention by a medical professional can result in positive outcomes for both the child and the parents.
  • a discussion on post-natal depression and some of its challenges, domestic violence and its impacts on mental health and empty nest syndrome and how exercise, healthy eating, deep breathing and mindfulness can assist with one’s well-being.
  • a presentation on the signs, symptoms and difficulties experienced by men living with a Black Dog (depression) and tips for men who may be impacted by depression to communicate honestly with a loved one or GP; the presentation also included useful sites that provide support services relating to depression.
  • the definition of mental health from the World Health Organisation indicates that it is a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, where he or she can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and able to make a contribution to his or her community. Hence, mental health is about wellness instead of illness
  • a discussion on how spirituality is something that provides a sense of purpose or connectedness; a quest for wholeness or belief in a higher being or beings and a search for hope and harmony. Spiritual practices can be multi-dimensional to include the body, mind and spirit
  • a reference to the Book “Little Kiddy Went to Market” which covers the way that corporations are targeting young children with a barrage of advertising and marketing, the way that children’s play has been turned into a commercial opportunity, and how corporations have taken advantage of childish anxieties and insecurities to reshape children’s very identities. Hence, we can’t control what other people think of us but we can control our responses.
  • understanding that simple actions such as a smile keeps anxiety away and life is a roller coaster state of well-being; we must embrace life in its entirety and it is only when one is able to accept life that one is able to ride the roller coaster.
  • The very informative workshop concluded with a question and answer session at 6 pm.


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    ‘Go Green, Be Keen and Redeem’ – Family Funday – WA

    The Education Wing of Western Australia Region of the Sathya Sai International Organisation of Australia & PNG is organising a family ‘Funday’ for its Sathya Sai Education (SSE) students and families focusing on environmental awareness on 24 September. All are very welcome.

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    ‘Mind your Mental Health’ Workshop – ACT

    The Sai Medical Unit and the Sathya Sai International Organisation of Australia &PNG (SSIO) ACT Region in partnership some doctors from Canberra conducted a workshop addressing the important issue of mental health on 1 September 2018.

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    Adelaide Sai Family Camp

    The South Australia Region of the Sathya Sai International Organisation of Australia & PNG (SSIO) is holding its annual weekend spiritual camp in October 2018. This will be a spiritually energising and uplifting event and all are welcome to attend.

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    Healthy Ageing Workshop

    The Sathya Sai International Organisation of Australia & PNG’s (SSIO) NSW Region East in collaboration with the Sai Medical Unit conducted a workshop on Healthy Ageing for the community on Saturday, 1 September. The workshop was aimed at providing an understanding of health-related issues that may be progressively experienced for people over 50 years and carers for such people..

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    Gratitude to our Teachers – A Community Engagement event

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    Homebush Sai Centre held a community engagement event on the 12th of August. Themed Gratitude to our Teachers it was our centre’s celebration of Guru Poornima, and we were joined by one of the Directors from Woodbury Autism Education and Research. Karyn from Woodbury came to our Centre and joined in on our devotional singing, and really enjoyed the presentation by our SSE children and parents.

    The junior SSE children spoke about their experiences at SSE and how they find their classes and teachers, while the senior SSE students shared poems on teachers from a spiritual perspective. Parents of SSE children spoke about their journey and the positive impacts they that SSE has on their family. And finally, Karyn gave a very inspiring talk on her experiences and reflection on the theme from a practical perspective through her work at Woodbury, and personally supporting her child who has severe autism. Members of Homebush Centre also generously donated many stationery items to give to Woodbury, and Karyn left with her car seats full of green bags and boxes containing these items.

    Woodbury has recognised the Sai Organisation and Homebush Centre (Newington) on Facebook – . We are very excited about the relationship we are building with Woodbury, and find great compatibility between their values and our five human values. It was very exciting and humbling that a Director from another organisation took out the time and effort to come to our Centre.

    Of course this activity would not have been possible without the hardwork of many people. All the wings came together to make this happen, facilitated by the Centre President. The SSE coordinator and teachers worked with the children and parents to present a program, while the Service Coordinator organised the stationery drive. The Ladies Wing coordinator organised morning tea and the Bhajan Coordinator planned the Devotional part of the program, ensuring we had a good mix of English songs. They had a centre representative for the Community Engagement perspective to plan the program and liaise with Woodbury, and it is rewarding to see the success of different wings coming together in this initiative. With effective teamwork, I am positive that Woodbury and Homebush Centre together can continue spreading positive messages and values into the wider community to Love all and Serve all.


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    SSE Music Camp, QLD

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    The SSE Music Camp was a spectacular weekend held in the Sathya Sai High College in Murwillumbah, QLD from the 3rd to 5th August. Bright and early on Saturday morning, over 20 SSE students, along with numerous Sai young adult volunteers and parents arose, eager to start the weekend’s activities. Many of the guest speakers travelled from interstate and even overseas for the camp, including Sai Vigneshwar, Gopi Iyer, and Divya Ravinthiran from Singapore, Sydney and Melbourne respectively. The children were taught the importance of morning prayer, the meaning behind Aumkar and how to connect to bhajans (or devotional songs) in a fun and interactive lesson involving music, game and acting. They were given a wonderful opportunity to sing and learn new bhajans and instruments including the piano, harmonium, naal and guitar, lovingly taught by the guest speakers themselves.

    The SSE children were also joined by students from the Sathya Sai School for the much anticipated Amazing Race, which involved the children completing various competitive activities around the campus. This was followed by the evening showcase performance. The SSE children were given a chance to showcase their skills during the twilight concert, also featuring a performance from the Beetroot Band (from the Sathya Sai College) and the guest speakers.

    The highlight for many of the children was Saturday night’s ‘Sai Kitchen Rules’ session, where the children were excited to be working in teams to make their dinner. On concluding the SSE Music Camp, the children were reluctant to go but were so grateful to be given the opportunity to connect with God on deeper level through music.


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    My first interaction with Sathya Sai Baba – A story from Sridhar Subramonian

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    I was blessed with an interaction with Sai Baba during my first year of MBA studying at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher learning in Prashanti Nilayam. Sai Baba was interacting with a few MBA students who were asking him various questions and when my turn came up to ask a question, I asked, “Baba, how can one pray using the Vedanta dictum ‘So Aham’?” (So Aham means I am that indicating that the individual soul and the universal soul are the same. Sai Baba in various discourses has elucidated this principle of So Aham).

    To this question, Sai Baba very lovingly said “serve everyone unconditionally. This is the best way to internalise the phrase ‘So Aham’ and is the best prayer”. That was it. There was no further explanation. Sai Baba has often commented on the importance of the three-step process of listening, meditating and constant reflection, so I started to meditate on this message.

    As I reflected on this message, my first impression was that you normally serve someone who is either better than you or is in a position better than you. Sai Baba has said so many times that ‘Service to man is Service to God’. So, when I serve a fellow being, I serve God in that being. The normal extension to that argument is that when I serve I get something in return. When I serve someone who is in need, I may get nothing from that individual except his blessings and gratitude; however would get some spiritual merit from God.

    As I reflected further, Sai Baba had said serve everyone unconditionally; if I am expecting spiritual merit as a product of my service, it becomes conditional. Then my second impression of His message was that Service must be performed with the spirit that you are serving yourself. When I satiate my hunger, I have no thought of serving myself. The action is performed without any effort on the mind. Likewise, when I feed the ‘needy’, it must be done without ego and without a feeling of ‘otherness’. It must come as easily as something you do for yourself. I now understand the message as Service should not be performed with a feeling that I am a giver and the person receiving my service is a beneficiary. Sai Baba wanted my service to be effortless on the mind. So Aham in service is understood as ‘that I am’ who I am serving.

    Once a student asked Sai Baba if his father could settle down in Puttaparthi. Sai Baba asked why and the student responded that his father wanted to Serve the Master. Baba said all are Masters and the student persisted, saying “but Baba, my father wants to serve God!” Sai Baba replied that all are God. Another simple conversation emphasising the divine self in all.
    Spirituality shouldn’t be in the realm of mental gymnastics but must be an expression of our daily experience. Sai Baba in his inimitable way gave me a mantra and a message reflecting how important a simple act of service is to an individual’s spiritual progress. I continue to reflect on this message and pray to Sai Baba for his constant guidance.


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    Education Week – NSW Region West

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    Education week was observed in all centres and SSE hubs in Region West from Sunday 12 August to 25 August. The theme for this year was “The Divine Blueprint for a Harmony Home of Human Values.” This year the focus was not just on SSE children but also parents, young adults and adults, on how we can all be better equipped to enhance the spiritual development of our children through enriching study circle material that was shared with centres.

    The centralised SSE of Bonnyrigg made an exhibition which was well received by the members. The exhibits brought out the theme well and a lot of hard work has been put in too. Individual parent – teacher meetings were also held where the parents had an opportunity to individually meet their child’s teacher and give feedback on things that were working well and those that needed to be improved. A report of all the feedback will be collated and distributed to teachers.

    The centralised SSE of Wentworthville had an open day and parents were invited to visit their child’s classrooms. The teachers designed activities in line with the theme. Before the parents went to the classes the administration team had a meeting with the parents listing out their expectations from parents and during that meeting a former SSE student spoke about her SSE journey. A parent also spoke about his experience bringing his two children to SSE and how it has impacted their lives.

    The SSE of Blacktown went away on a retreat organised by the Sathya Sai Centre of Blacktown and explored the theme at the retreat.

    A unity meeting was held on Saturday 25 August 2018 to conclude Education Week where the devotional singing was led by SSE children and we had three SSE students talking on the theme. A wonderful way to conclude bringing members together in a harmonious environment.


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