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50 years on Sri Lankans still find warmth in Baba’s religion of love

7 October 2017 12:01 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Sri Sathya Sai Baba(Paththi) was one of the most influential persons in the spiritual world. In an attempt to take his legacy forward the Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Seva Samithi, established 51 years ago in Sri Lanka, has spearheaded this spiritual movement in the island nation.  Speaking to the Daily Mirror Former Regional Central Coordinator of Sri Sathya Sai Organisation Wanni Wanniyasekaram spoke about the activities of the Organisation, its service to society and local Sai devotees and future projects.  

 

The Sri Lankan public first heard of the miracles and spiritual mission of Sri Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthy, India through the visit of Hilda Charlton, an American psychic who arrived in Colombo back in 1965. Upon hearing her stories about Sai Baba many devotees, including M. Rajanayagam, decided to call their friends to join and listen to the experiences of the Divine. On hearing and viewing the video clippings shown by Hilda, a few enthusiastic devotees of Bhagawan Baba commenced conducting group Bhajans in their homes, mostly on Thursdays. K. Thiagarajah’s house in Wellawatte was also frequented by devotees, who then went on to conduct Sai Bhajans in Kandy, Jaffna and Batticaloa.  

 

Upon hearing her stories about Sai Baba many devotees, including M. Rajanayagam, decided to call their friends to join and listen to the experiences of the Divine. 

 


“What followed was the establishment of the first Sri Sathya Sai Seva Samithi in Sri Lanka, which was registered in Puttaparthy in 1967 by this group,” recalls Wanni. “Thereafter the group decided that the official inauguration of the premier Samithi in Sri Lanka be held with the presence of the then International Chairman, Indulal Shah. Hence, the Samithi was officially named as the Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Seva Samithi in Colombo. Later on the Sai Mandir was established in Barnes Place where it currently stands with the support of Meena Rutnam, who gifted the 64-perch land,” said Wanni. 


According to Wanni, in April 1968 Bhagawan Baba convened a World Conference of the Sai Organisations. One of the decisions made there was that each town should have only one Sathya Sai Centre with the President, Secretary and a Convener to conduct Bhajans. At the conclusion of the second World Conference, Baba was pleased with the work done in Sri Lanka and appointed C. Balasingham, as a member of the World Council of the Sathya 
Sai Organisation. Taking his memories back as an active Regional Central Coordinator at the time, Wanni proudly spoke about the establishment of Sathya Sai Education in Human Values (SSEHV). “Since 1969 Sri Lanka has been one of the nations that introduced SSEHV in the form of Bai Vikas education. This was dedicated to children of Sai devotee families and took place at individual Samithi levels and soon spread throughout the island. One of the most significant milestones of SSEHV activities was the establishment of the first dedicated Sathya Sai School in Jaffna. The school commenced operations with just 25 pre-school students, but has made tremendous progress over the years. Another Children’s home was opened in Vavuniya along with an elders’ home in Hanwella,”said Wanni. 

 

The Sathya Sai Institute for Human Value Education of Sri Lanka was inaugurated in June 2004 by Dr. (Mrs) Tara De Mel with several objectives. Some of these objectives include providing support to teachers and parents through appropriate books

 


In 1996 a few Sri Lankan devotees, led by Dr. Seevali and Mrs. Ratwatte, were at Whitefield on Vesak Poya day holding a traditional tray with lights to signify the importance of Vesak. “When Baba asked them what that tray was, the trio explained to Him about the importance of Vesak and that He (Sai Baba) should bless the people of Sri Lanka on this day. Baba blessed the people and upon request He graciously approved the prayer and request to observe Vesak in the Divine presence. This was well received by the rest of the Buddhist countries in the Asia Pacific region. Towards this objective the Secretariat has undertaken to celebrate Vaisakha Buddha Poornima, the thrice blessed day of the Buddhist calendar,” recalled Wanni.  


Another national project of the Sai Organisation in Sri Lanka was the establishment of the Sathya Sai Suwa Sevana – a home for symptom control and palliative care for cancer patients, which commenced operations in July 2002. In addition to that a Sarva Dharma Shrine too was unveiled by Ryuko Hira, Chairman for Asia-Pacific regions.  


The Sathya Sai Institute for Human Value Education of Sri Lanka was inaugurated in June 2004 by Dr. (Mrs) Tara De Mel with several objectives. Some of these objectives include providing support to teachers and parents through appropriate books, providing for the Government and private sector educational institutions, facilitating the establishment of Sathya Sai schools in Sri Lanka among others. Presently the construction of a separate Bhajan hall is underway and would be completed soon.  


In conclusion, Wanni further requested the youth to engage in these activities as they have to carry the spirit of Baba forward. “Through the Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Seva Samithi Colombo Youth Wing we have done several projects including a clean up in the Mattakkuliya area. Volunteer doctors have also been conducting medical camps for the past 15 years. Other projects include community mobilisation and empowerment. We would like to encourage the youth to join our activities. Add some spirituality into your lives and stay away from stress. It will definitely help you in the long run,”
advised Wanni. 

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