By Nikhila Sri Rao and Nilesh Sai Rao from Rochester, NY

Participating in fun, musical interactions with elderly residents of the nursing home

Love All, Serve All; Help Ever, Hurt Never” was one of the initial teachings we learned in Sathya Sai Education classes. What a simple message, yet so brilliantly profound! A fond recollection of when we were young SSE students, is when we would enthusiastically create cards with universal messages of love for the underserved, veterans, seniors at nursing homes and children suffering from cancer. We hoped that these cards would brighten up their day and provide them with a sense of hope and joy. When we served, seeing others smile made us feel incredibly happy and deeply connected to Swami. Now, embarking on our journey as Sai Young Adults, this inspiring quote, “Love All, Serve All; Help Ever, Hurt Never” has become our “go-to” guide for self-development. It was time to spread the wings of love and service! Our Beloved Swami was beautifully transforming our hearts to understand that Prema and Seva should be a way of life.

Creating decorative cards filled with positive messages of love as SSE students

With Swami’s grace, we participated in many heartwarming service projects that exemplified the magnitude of Swami’s ever-expanding love. It started with our keen interest in music, and trying to see how we could reach out musically to serve the greater community. After approaching the director of The Highlands at Pittsford–a senior living center, we had the wonderful opportunity of volunteering and sharing our passion for music with the elderly residents there. Each month we play instruments such as piano, harmonium, flute and tabla, and sing a variety of songs ranging from cheerful Holiday Carols, to Unity of Faiths devotional songs while everyone claps along. Our favorite part of the service activity is when we conclude with a special musical jam session with the residents! We distribute an array of instruments like the Peruvian cajón, tambourine, cymbals and maracas, and gather in a circle. When we collectively play our instruments, a beautiful feeling of unity imbues the room as everyone beams with pure expressions of joy. It is in these unforgettable moments that we realize the Divine power of Swami unifies individuals from all walks of life, and brings us together irrespective of our differences. Swami lovingly says, “Transform love into service; transform service into worship–that is the highest sadhana.”

The residents have truly become a family to us. After our musical interactions, we love conversing with them about our favorite hobbies, food, and movies! They have also given us invaluable advice that continuously resonates in our hearts. In one memorable conversation, an elderly woman lovingly told us, “Always surround yourself with good people,” similarly, Swami says, “Always be in good company.” Throughout this conversation, we wholeheartedly felt the spark of Swami’s love and were able to see SAI in all. 

Through these service activities, our devotion and pining love for Swami intensified as we recognized that same principle of prema in everyone around us. “Love All, Serve All; Help Ever, Hurt Never,” the short yet quintessential encapsulation of Swami’s life message now takes on a newfound significance in our lives. To us, service is more than the action of helping; it is about cultivating selflessness, suffusing love into our thoughts, words, and actions, and carrying out every single task as a sincere offering to Swami. Our Dear Swami presents us with sublime opportunities so that as we serve the community, we serve ourselves with the higher purpose of self-transformation. As Swami says, we must be like sugar dissolved in water, always immersed in the sweetness of His love!