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To carry out the mission of Sri Sathya Sai Baba and to manage the activities at Prashanthi Nilayam in Puttaparthi and Brindavan near Bangalore, a Trust was formed in 1972 called "Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust". Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is the founder Trustee himself and the Trust has become the main executing agency for all his works.

"Service to Man is Service to God,
Hands that help are holier than lips that pray,
Love All, Serve All",

These are the watchwords of this charitable organisation. It functions with the help of unsolicited contributions received from devotees all over the world.

More than 100,000 persons are working for the Trust on a voluntary basis and more than 10,000 persons are paid employees in various institutions run by the Trust. This apart, there are over 30,000 Sathya Sai Centers spread over 137 countries expressing themselves through three wings: Spiritual, Educational and Service.

The activities of the Trust have been growing from year to year and cover the basic necessities of education, health care and safe drinking water. The institutions are characterized by timely and successful completion of projects and programs:

  • Sri Sathya Sai Rural Service and Education Program
  • Sri Sathya Sai Education Program
  • Sri Sathya Sai Drinking Water Program
  • Sri Sathya Sai "Health for All" Program
  • Sri Sathya Sai "Balvikas" Program

SRI SATHYA SAI RURAL SERVICE AND EDUCATION PROGRAM

"HANDS THAT HELP ARE HOLIER THAN LIPS THAT PRAY."

BABA

Many were the projects launched for a three-year ‘celebrations’ program ending with Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s 60th Birthday, November 23, 1985. And all were schedule for completion. But the one that will be remembered for all times to come is ‘adoption ‘ of villages. The program planners had decided to adopt 6000 villages all over the country, leaving the choice to the State units. The villages are to regarded as near and dear as the child you adopt. In view of the importance of rural uplift, it has since been put on a permanent basis. It also envisages ‘carrying science to the villages’.

1. Villages are the foundation of our Indian Culture. General degeneration of our villages is the main cause for the decline of our prestigious heritage. We still find glimpses of this culture in our villages. Revitalization of our villages is a must to regain our glorious past.

"Indian Culture and Civilization have been built up from ancient times on rural communities. Even today this culture survives predominantly in villages. The national life is sustained by the villages. It is wrong to ignore the interests of the villages or allow them to decay."

"When the villages grow the states grow and the nation on the whole prospers. The progress of the nation is based upon the progress of the villages. Everyone should be interested in the welfare of the villages."

Rural service goes into the depth of the following:

  • Rural vs. Urban
  • Rural life in India
  • Identify the needs and problems of villagers
  • Earn the bread through agriculture and be self-reliant
  • Wipe out laziness among rural people
  • Primacy of national outlook
    • Bhoomatha [mother earth]
    • Gomatha [cow]
    • Dehamatha [mother who gave us birth]
    • Vedamatha [the four Vedas: Rig, Yajur, Sama, Atharvana]
  • Provide basic needs is the youth’s duty
  • Advent of Sai – to make human personality blossom
    [ ‘S’-Service, ‘A’-Association, ‘I’-Individual]
  • Six advisors for effective rural development – WHO, WHEN, WHAT, WHY, WHERE, HOW
  • Spiritual facet of rural development
  • Faith in the Divine greater than wealth for selfless service
  • Selfless approach needed for rural development

"Villages are the places where this knowledge comes easier to man, and takes deeper roots. That is the reason Swamiji loves villages most."

Indian culture and civilization have been built up from ancient times on rural communities. The National life is sustained by the villages. Villages are the places where the spiritual knowledge comes easier to man and take deeper roots. This is the reason I love villages most. The virtues of detachment, Uprightness, Honesty and Sincerity are still surviving in however attenuated form only in villages. City dwellers are haunted or hunted by phantom desires and wild imaginings. In villages you are ever in contact with God, His grace, His tenderness, His love. You can hear the birds sing at sunrise and you can bask in the bright sun underneath the pure blue sky.

"PURE FOOD – PURE DESIRE –PURE THOUGHT --- leads to PURITY"

THREE Ps – the source of Swamiji’s strength – P-Purity, P-Patience, P-Perseverance

"Grama Seva is Rama Seva – [ Service to the village is service to God ]. There is no value in worshipping Rama if you do not serve your Grama [village] well. But if they have not installed Rama in their hearts, what use is there in building a temple for Rama? Sanctify your hearts and make the village a shrine in your hearts for the Lord. When you make service to the village your service to Shri Rama, you will be promoting your welfare in every way, economically, socially, morally and spiritually. You need not strive for salvation as a separate goal. Service to village will itself ensure ‘Mukti’ [liberation]. Bear this truth in mind and act up to it in your daily life. This is my message to all of you. I wish you all happiness, peace and prosperity."

EDUCATION FOR NEW ERA:

Education must aim at enlarging the heart and awakening the latent intelligence and skill of man and inspiring him to calmly welcome physical labor and exhausting work. Knowledge without character is a powerful evil. Teaching ends with the school, but learning ends only when life ends.

Two basic objectives of Education:

  1. In the olden times, when a student underwent the basic training under the teacher, he learnt, before he was 15 years of age, to spin, weave and procure clothes for his own use, to produce the food he required and to look after his needs for basic comforts. Simple habits gave him ample leisure for ‘Sadhana’ and contemplation of nature. Every one must endeavor to be self-reliant and self-sufficient, so far as food and clothing are concerned.
  2. The second objective of education is the culture of the mind and spirit. Transform village school into ‘Gurukala’, every teacher into a ‘rishi’ (sage).

GUIDELINES FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT:

  1. Satisfy the hunger first, then pour Spirituality:
  2. The present Birthday Gift to Swami – given to God has to be pure, steady and selfless Love. Go to the distressed, the poverty-stricken and those who suffer and who have no one to serve them, be their friends, their kith and kin, their closest well wisher. Let them welcome you as such.

    If you pour spirituality into the ears of those who are tortured by hunger, it will not be assimilated. Firstly satisfy the hunger:

2. Give them God in the form of

: Food
: Clothes
: Peace to those afflicted with anxiety
: Medicine to those afflicted with ill health

    Give them God in whatever form to those who are afflicted with fear, pain and sorrow.

    Then Spirituality can soak into their heart.

    There is no need to make any artificial distinction between the rich and poor in the sphere of service. Ostentation in rendering service is totally out of place. It will only inflate the ego.

  1. Inner cleanliness; inner health; inner illumination.
  2. You go into the villages adopted by Samithis, repair the roads, clear drains, give some medicines, conduct bhajans and deliver lectures. Is this the work that Sathya Sai Seva Dal has to do? Suppose you have glass, which you use to drink water from. Is it enough if the glass is cleaned on the outside? Inner cleanliness, Inner health and Inner illumination – these are far more important and Sathya Sai Seva Dal has to take it up, in a big way. Find out how many families are in misery and poverty on account of the evil habits of the breadwinners. Drinking, gambling and other vices have to be tackled with humility and love through persuasion and even personal submission.

    Every effort to give the villagers a few more coins through employment will only make things worse if their moral calibre is not made strong enough to overcome the temptations of drinking and gambling. Lead them slowly and surely along the path of God and these habits will drop off one by one.

  3. Serve out of spontaneous urge from within.
  4. You go to an adopted village, conduct ‘Nagara Sankeerthan’ and undertake renovation of a dilapidated temple. Can these activities fulfil the purposes of adopting the village? They only whet the appetite of the villagers. What you must do is find out what are the essential needs of the villagers. Do they suffer from poor water supply? You may feel that you need money for digging a well. But if all Seva Dal members work whole-heartedly, two wells can be dug in a single day. You must render service out of spontaneous urge from within, with a heart filled with Love.

  5. Adoption –refers to integral rural uplift.
  6. The villages are in a deplorable state today. When the Sai Organisation ‘adopts’ a village, what does ‘Adoption’ really mean? More whitewashing and cleaning of schools and mandirs cannot represent ‘adoption’. It should mean that the Sai Organisation meets all essential needs of the village, just as a parent who has ‘adopted’ a child takes care of its entire well being. All the needs of the village in respect of education, health, water supply, roads, etc. should be met, and in the process, the spiritual and moral needs of the villagers should also be met. Every act of service should be spiritually oriented. They should promote unity and purity in the villages.

    Services is not a one-way street. Give seva and receive prema. Earn the love of the villagers through your service.

  7. Some hints for rural planning.

(A novel subject ‘Constant Integrated Rural Development’ has been introduced for MBA students of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning).

The word CONSTANT is very important. Service should not be haphazard or casual. It should be done continuously.

  1. There is a great need to educate the rural people to earn their bread through agriculture, become self-reliant and contribute to the growth of villages.
  2. The most important cause of backwardness in rural areas is ‘laziness’ among rural people. Today rural people are after physical comforts. Moneymaking and mental satisfaction is not real and the true goal is that of satisfying the conscience.
  3. Teach the villagers the value of vegetables, fruits, milk, etc as source of nutrients that will promote and preserve their health.
  4. We should be concerned with ‘Man Management’.
  5. Teach the importance of health and hygiene. Firewood that emits dangerous carbon dioxide should not be used as fuel. A proper pipe and vent should be provided in the kitchen so that smoke can escape. Toilets and latrines must be built in all the four directions along – with a suitable septic tank and sanitary arrangements.
  6. Drinking water facility.
  7. Teach the importance of cleanliness of home and village.
  8. Primary rural development must be linked with health and education – Physical and spiritual, national and individual character and EHV [Education in Human Values].
  9. Rural development must aim at making it possible to generate in every village all that are considered to be essential items, e.g. generation of electricity from cow dung, maintaining kitchen gardens, growing coconut trees etc. and making firm paper out of sugar cane pulp.
  10. Make a definite plan to feed the heart and spirit.
  11. Launch medical facilities.
  12. Plan to wean the addicts from the drink habit, etc.

Any service you undertake must meet the needs of the villages and to the satisfaction of villagers. Nothing should be done in a spirit of condescension. Remember ‘Yogah Karmasu kaushalam’ ‘Prachar is not the achara’ of Sai Organisation. Work silently. ‘Dil me ram hath me kam’.

Youth alone can transform youth. The youth of the villages will be inspired when they find you, graduate and post-graduate students…evincing practical interest in the cleanliness of the environs, the health of the villagers and in fulfilling their needs. You must bring the village youth together and form them into a group, which can, with the guidance of the elders, maintain and expand the work done by you.

3. Qualification of educated youth for rural uplift work

  1. The foremost quality students should have is humility. They must be free from conceit. They must be unselfish. Without these a student lacks luster.
  2. Great reverence for
    • Bhoomatha
    • Gomatha
    • Dehamatha
    • Vedamatha
  3. Use the knowledge for development of India
  4. Harmony between ‘thought-word-deed.’
  5. Be prepared to serve in remote backward villages by providing all basic needs like approach roads, sanitation, drainage, safe drinking water and electrification.
  6. Good health and commitment.
  7. Assisted by six advisors: who, when, what, why, where and how.
  8. Depend on Swami’s Grace besides self-effort.
  9. By selfless, dedicated, dynamic and hard work, become role models for innocent villagers.

Action alone inspires action. Tall talk is a barren exercise. Self-sacrifice is the most important quality that people engaged in rural development should cultivate.

"Grama Seva is Rama Seva – – A ‘Sadhana’ (Individual as well as Community)

The very purpose is to realize the Divinity in everybody. ‘Ekaham Bhausyam’ – the Atmic Orientation is very important. Only boys and girls of high character can save the country and not those who indulge in subversive activities.

If all the ninety crores of people in Bharat act as one, Bharat will stand forth as an ideal nation.

If you start service with the attitude that ‘service to man is service to God’ you will find God there. The same thing you cannot experience in Japa or Dhyana. You have to ‘shut your mind and open your heart’, which happens while doing seva.

Wherever you go for service, Swami will always be with you, Whatever happens, I shall protect you. Think of God ceaselessly.

Sai rejoices when ‘Seva’ is done. All that Sai does or say is ‘Seva’. By acting according to what Sai says and does, I hope you will derive the joy of the Self. Remember the world welfare and peace cannot be achieved without selfless service to mankind.

"Grama Seva is Rama Seva – Service to village is service to God"

Sanctify your hearts and make the village a shrine in your hearts for the Lord. Service to village itself ensures ‘mukti’ [liberation].

People who are engaged in rural development work should depend on ‘Swami’s Divine Grace’ besides self-effort.

You can work wonders with purity of heart,
Any work, which is started with purity of heart, is bound to succeed.
Money flows if your work is suffused with love and sacrifice.
People will provide magnificent funds to support any noble endeavor.
- Baba
 

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