By Nikhila Sri and Nilesh Sai 

As spiritual aspirants, we are deeply blessed to collectively learn and evolve on this journey of self-transformation. Along the way, we encounter checkpoints, where we engage in introspection and inquiry, and crossroads, in which we must overcome adversity and navigate dharmic dilemmas. At every single point, we are guided by our divine moral compass: our dearest Swami! 

For my twin brother Nilesh and I, discovering the Sai within us has been a multifold integration of spiritual disciplines from singing and playing instruments at Sai Center to practicing the invaluable SSE teachings of human values to participating in selfless service. Throughout the day, we contemplated on Swami when we were eating or walking or studying. It was like having an “internal dialogue” 24/7 with Swami! 

Every December, since we were 1-year old, we have had the special opportunity to visit Prashanthi Nilayam. We were eager to participate in the joyous International Christmas Programs and see our loving Sai Maa during darshan. Although we were tiny tots when we first witnessed Swami’s physical presence, the inexplicable feeling of happiness that we experienced is an indelible memory forever etched in our hearts. Our gracious personal interactions with Swami over the years still vividly play in our minds as sadhana. Every year, we felt that the Sai in us was blossoming, intensifying our spiritual conviction and giving us the strength to become instruments of His love. 

As we grew older, selfless service quickly emerged as our catalyst for spiritual change. During our Parthi visits, we volunteered in the Cardiology Department at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences (SSSIHMS), helping with patient counseling. This was a heartwarming opportunity to be pillars of support for patients undergoing major heart valve surgery, many of whom had never visited a doctor before. Most profoundly, these eye-opening conversations conveyed to us the significant need for heart valve care in rural villages deprived of comprehensive healthcare. Nilesh and I were ardent to impact change, even it was just a single drop in the ocean. 

With the sincere, collective efforts of our community, we participated in the annual “Sai Heart Valve Service Project,” which has consecutively provided 93, 94, and this year, 95 heart valves for patients suffering from cardiac ailments, on occasion of Swami’s birthday. For us, the most unforgettable part of this project was being able to experience firsthand the fruits of this united seva and see Sai love in action! One day during our volunteering, a mother was profusely crying tears of joy, immensely grateful that her 15-year old daughter could receive a life-saving valve surgery – one they could otherwise not afford. This demonstrated to us the tremendous, transformative power of heart-to-heart connections through service. While my brother and I witnessed these Sai miracles around us, a miracle was happening right within our hearts – from realizing Sai in ourselves to seeing Sai in all! Through selfless service, we not only transform the lives of others but also transform our hearts with love, empathy, and compassion. 

Please note: The authors were involved in another service activity which was featured in a media article in August 2020 entitled, “Turning Inward to Turning Outward: Rochester, NY” (Click here).