One Million Steps to Swami’s 100th Birthday

Facebook Instagram

Sai Baba is the founder and inspiration of the Sri Sathya Sai International Organisation (SSSIO). To his followers, he is affectionately called ‘Swami’. On April 24, 2023, coinciding with the anniversary of His passing, the SSSIO branch of Australia & PNG embarked on a dedicated ‘journey’ towards Sai Baba’s 100th Birthday, undertaking various service and devotional activities. Since then, across Australia dialysis patients have been supported, flood victims have been cared for, and a homeless community has been assisted. What is this unique program that has ‘moved’ followers of Sai Baba’s teachings across the country?

The inspiration behind this came from an intention to bring together individuals to put into practice the spiritual and service-based teachings of Sai Baba in the lead up to his 100th Birthday. Sai Baba often used to say Take one step towards Me, and I will take a hundred steps toward you. So, why not take a million steps toward Him! Thus, ‘1 Million Steps to Swami’ (1MSTS) was born, an initiative dedicated to walking a million conscious steps by each individual.

A ‘new’ initiative based on the eternal concepts of Love and Service

From Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings, we understand that spirituality is not about doing different things. It is doing things differently – with the right attitude!

On April 24, 2023, we did the calculations:

There were 944 days to Sathya Sai Baba’s 100th Birthday on November 23, 2025.

This would allow for 1060 ‘conscious’ steps per day to reach a million steps to this commemorative event.

What is meant by a ‘conscious’ step? It is simply a step taken with awareness of the divine during a walk or a run. It is spirituality in a practical form. While walking, jogging, or running, an individual can either listen to a recording of one of Sai Baba’s talks or other spiritual talks, or engage in the practice of thinking and chanting the name of their preferred form of God, perhaps recite prayers or sing devotional songs – anything that helps the individual feel connected to the divine. This initiative allows everyone to participate, from a young child to a senior citizen, as an individual, a couple, a family unit!

The individual tracks the steps using a smartwatch, phone, or pedometer. If one doesn’t have a digital device, there is no need to worry because an average 10-minute walk per day comprises 1,000 steps! The step count is then logged on our website, dedicating the steps of this activity to Sai Baba. Once this is done, the beautiful service project gets triggered!

An initiative which is spreading across Australia.

The challenge before the SSSIO in Australia was to seek new service opportunities, increase awareness of existing service activities coast-to-coast and strengthen engagement with the community.

The initiative allows us to spiritually explore the country we call home, Australia. The accumulated steps fuel the journey of the SSSIO, which serves as a ‘walk’ all around Australia, including remote parts and the countryside, in search of service opportunities and devotional activities.

We decided to begin the journey at the heart of Australia, its spiritual centre – Uluru. Uluru and its neighbour, Kata Tjuta, aren’t just rocks. They are living, cultural landscapes that are very sacred, being the resting place for the ancient spirits of the Aborigines of the region. From here, we began our journey to Alice Springs, the destination for our first service project.

Indigenous people in remote central Australia are up to 30 times more likely to suffer from kidney disease compared to other Australians. Operating from its base in Alice Springs, Purple House is a home away from home for many Indigenous dialysis patients and their families. It offers remote dialysis, social support, and primary and geriatric services. We decided to undertake a service project with Purple House. The distance between Alice Springs and Uluru is 455 km. This journey required taking 681,000 steps.

The service project involved contributing beanies (head caps) based on a needs assessment. The patients undergoing dialysis feel cold as their blood drains from the body during the dialysis treatment. The beanies help to keep them warm. The SSSIO pledged 1,008 beanies and is well on target to achieve it.

Purple House was very happy to receive the beanies and gave the following feedback:

“The beanies have arrived!! Thank you so much for sending through all the generous donations. We have been a bit short on beanies this season, so the patients were so excited to see them.

Kind regards, Katie Merriman, Administration & Events Assistant”

From here, we resumed our journey to the second destination, Kalkarindji. This journey of 985 km took us 1,477,500 steps. The town of Kalkarindji and neighbouring communities were impacted by the floods in early 2023. Here, we organized a devotional offering of nationwide chanting of the sacred Gayatri prayer, offering this for their recovery and well-being.

Next, we reached the city of Darwin, 776 km from the Kalkarindji. This journey took us another 1,165,050 steps. One in every twenty people in the Northern Territory is homeless and does not have a good night’s sleep. This is almost 12 times worse than the national average. Here, we embarked on a service project along with the ‘Sunset Soup Kitchen,’ an organization that serves the homeless.

The homeless community constantly needs blankets to battle weather conditions and to stay protected against bugs and insects that pester them as they sleep in the streets every night. We pledged 1,008 blankets for the homeless community. Please click HERE to learn more about this service opportunity.

Along every step of the way, Sai was felt to be present, inspiring us with boundless love. This has allowed us to commit to the service needed and meet the perceived challenges confidently. Here is a comment by one of the team members:

In recent weeks, the core team has been extensively researching the cost of blankets and where/how to source them, i.e., KMart, Target, BigW, etc. I came across a contact who pointed me to a source that launders and repurposes blankets from airlines, including blankets used by business-class and first-class passengers. Yesterday, a few of us went to pick up blankets from this place.

Prior to going, I asked her two questions.

            What is the cost of each blanket? How many are available for pickup?

Her reply was:

             No cost, $0!. Just bring a van.

As Sai Baba assures us, when we have selfless intent and readiness to work, Divinity does the rest! We collected about 250 blankets, and we now have access to a seemingly unlimited supply of blankets at no cost! This incident shows His reassurance that when we commit to serving and following Sai Baba’s teachings, we are supported in every way.

In addition to this, we were very fortunate to receive 108 blankets, also at zero cost, from the Tzu Chi Foundation. They were keen to contribute upon hearing the cause SSSIO is supporting in this service activity.

This nationwide initiative of One Million Steps to Swami’s 100th Birthday is still unfolding. As members of SSSIO in Australia, we are excited, very touched, and inspired by this divine journey.