Who is Sri Sathya Sai Baba?
Sri Sathya Sai Baba is considered one of the most revered spiritual teachers in the world. He is also known as Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Sai Baba, Swami, Bhagavan or simply as Baba to millions of people in the world. His followers come from all faiths and races and meet regularly for devotional singing, to study his teachings, and to engage in service activities allowing them to practice his message of Love and Peace to unite all mankind.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba was born as Sathyanarayana Raju on November 23, 1926 in the village of Puttaparthi, in the state of Andhra Pradesh in South India. Even as a child, his spiritual inclination, contemplative nature and miracles set him apart from other children of his age, and he was known as ‘Guru’ and “Brahmajnani’ (knower of Brahman or Godhead) among his peers and others in the village. However, it was not until October 20, 1940, the day he made the historic declaration of his Avatarhood, (Avatar - Divinity Incarnate) that the world at large learned of this divine phenomenon. He proclaimed his message – to bring about the spiritual regeneration of humanity by demonstrating and teaching the highest principles of Truth, Right Conduct, Peace, Love, and Nonviolence. With that announcement, he left his childhood home and began his mission.
What is his message?
Sri Sathya Sai Baba teaches that man’s basic nature is divine and that the purpose of life is the realization of this divinity. This will occur, he says, by leading a moral life, by rendering selfless service to those in need, by engaging in devotional practices and by developing love, respect and compassion for all life. As one strives to transform his/her worldly life of self-centered desires and attachments into a higher spiritual life of selflessness and devotion, the foundation is built for receiving God’s Grace. It is this Grace which will reveal our true nature to each of us.
He reminds us that mankind is unique among all of God’s Creations; human beings are capable of recognizing that they emanate from God. We have the capacity to commune with God by turning inward. Ultimately, it is our destiny to merge with God. Sri Sathya Sai Baba teaches us that all religions are the expressions of these same universal principles.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba does not recommend that we become ascetics and retreat from the world. Instead, he teaches us that the world is our school, The Five Human Values (Truth, Right Conduct, Peace, Love, and Nonviolence) are our curriculum, and the realization of the unity of Godliness in the diversity of Creation is our ultimate lesson. “Love All Serve All” and “Help Ever Hurt Never” says Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
What is his mission?
About his mission Sri Sathya Sai Baba says, “I have come to light the lamp of love in your hearts, to see that it shines day by day with added luster. I have not come on any mission of publicity for any sect or creed or cause; nor have I come to collect followers for any doctrine. I have come to tell you of this Universal unitary faith, this path of Love, this duty of Love, this obligation to Love.
Sri Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. 8 Ch. 22
By personal example, Sri Sathya Sai Baba has inspired and continues to inspire millions of followers throughout the world to the ideal that service to man is service to God. His numerous service projects, be it free hospitals, free schools and colleges, free drinking water supply projects, or free housing projects, or disaster relief operations, all stand testimony to his selfless love and compassion especially for the needy and less privileged.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba strongly emphasizes selfless service to those in need as the highest means for enhancing one’s own spiritual growth and development. He teaches that it is not enough to simply do good works – but of equal importance is one’s attitude during the service activity. The service worker must have an attitude of humility and appreciation for the opportunity to do any service activity. The opportunity itself is a gift from God. One should not dwell on the good that they are doing, or that activity will strengthen one’s ego rather than help to reduce it.
The Sri Sathya Sai International Organization founded by Sri Sathya Sai Baba has a presence in more than 120 countries and its members undertake many service activities that benefit their immediate communities.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba remains a living presence, an inspiration, a guide, and most of all a cherished, endearing and intimately felt divinity in the hearts of millions who knew him.
How can I get involved in Sri Sathya Sai Organization?
There are Sri Sathya Sai Baba Centers in various cities across the United States. Members of the Centers meet regularly to study and discuss the teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba and to engage in group devotional singing, meditation, and prayer. Center members also plan and implement a variety of community service projects that are within their means and resources. There is never any solicitation or fee charged for any function that a Center conducts. All are welcome, regardless of race, creed, economic status, or religious orientation. Sri Sathya Sai Baba says:
There is only one Caste, the Caste of Humanity
There is only one Religion, the Religion of Love
There is only one Language, the Language of the Heart
There is only One God, and He is Omnipresent
Sri Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. 18 Ch.30
To locate a Sai Center near you, please click here.
Why do individuals greet each other by saying ‘Sai Ram’ at the Sai Center?
Devotees of Sri Sathya Sai Baba frequently say “Sai Ram” when greeting each other. This beautiful inner meaning of this tradition originating with Sri Sathya Sai Baba decades ago is given below.
When you meet each other, do not shout hello or bye-bye, or some silly chatter. Let the moment of meeting be sanctified by the remembrance of God. Say, Ram Ram, or Om, or Hari Om, or Sai Ram.
Sri Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. 10 Ch. 14
Saying “Sai Ram” to greet recognizes the divinity in the other person as well as ourselves.
What is the dress code for attending a Sai Center?
Modest clothing should be worn for attending Sai Center events. As the Sai organization is spiritual in nature, members should wear clothes which will not be distracting to others.
Is there any membership fee to join the Sai Organization?
There are no fees to join the Sai Organization. Money is never solicited and all activities of a Sai Center are offered for free. In keeping with Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s injunction, Sri Sathya Sai Centers should have as little to do with money as possible, since it draws attention away from the members’ spiritual focus.
Why are men and women seated separately at the Sai Center?
Sri Sathya Sai Baba required that men and women should sit separately at all Sri Sathya Sai Centre activities.
At devotional singing and other meetings, men devotees should sit apart from women devotees. The rule is applicable to all members — whether Indians or non-Indians, in India or elsewhere. It is a part of the spiritual discipline that is necessary for devotees.
Sri Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. 14 Ch. 56
What activities are conducted by the Sai Organization?
Activities conducted by Sai Organization fall under three wings: Devotion, Service and Education.
Devotion Wing: Focuses on group devotional singing, study circles, prayers, meditation, spiritual practices camps and retreats, inter-faith activities, newcomers’ programs, arranging pilgrimages to Prasanthi Nilayam and other activities designed to strengthen one’s faith and devotion to God, and one’s understanding and practice of universal spiritual knowledge.
See the Devotion tab under “For Members” for further details.
Service Wing: “Service to Man is Service to God”, says Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Service is the very essence of devotion to God, and the goal of devotion is realizing one’s innate divinity. Sri Sathya Sai Baba emphasizes that every act of selfless service, performed with unconditional love and the attitude of serving God residing in those being served, confers immense spiritual benefit. It is primary spiritual discipline that allows compassion, love and peace to blossom within and helps to get rid of the ego. Members engage in service activities depending on local needs.
See Service tab under “For Members” for further details.
Education Wing: SSE classes are provided at Sri Sathya Sai Centers for children from ages 6 to 17 years. The aims are to foster character development and spiritual transformation by helping the children to bring out and practice the values that are inherent in them (Educare). The children will: (1) learn about the life and teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, (2) render selfless service to others, (3) embrace the unity of the different faiths, (4) practice the five universal Human Values of Truth, Right Action, Peace, Love and Non-violence and (5) practice placing a ceiling on their desires.
See Education tab under “For Members” for further details.
Is there any special program for Young Adults?
Young Adult (YA) Program is offered to 18-40 years old members. The YAs are encouraged to lead purposeful lives by learning & practicing spiritual values as defined and established by the life, message and works of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. They meet and discuss issues in leading spiritual lives in today’s world. Young Adults come together to read, reflect and practice teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba in daily lives while primarily focusing on the acquisition of self-transformation.
See Young Adults tab under “For Members” for further details.
What is the significance of sacred ash (Vibhuti) offered at the conclusion of a meeting at the Sai Center?
When any object that has a name and form is completely burnt, it is reduced to ashes. The name and form are gone. All things are one and the same in the final state as ashes. When Vibhuti is given, Sri Sathya Sai Baba wants the recipient to understand the basic oneness. The devotee should get rid of ego arising from the feeling of separateness and sense of “mine” and “thine”. These two are based on name and form and when they are destroyed, the underlying unity of the Divine can be realized.
Sri Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 20 Ch. 15
Many individuals apply a pinch of the sacred ash to the forehead as a reminder to be humble and refrain from pride and ego.
Where can I get books and other resources to learn more about Sri Sathya Sai Baba?
Almost 2500 discourses given by Sri Sathya Sai Baba are available online at www.sathyasai.us/devotion/discourse-search
A large selection of publications is available on the life and teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba at the Sri Sathya Sai Book Store at Tustin, CA or online at www.sathyasaibooksusa.org
Some of the most well-known writings are listed below and can be ordered from the book store above:
1. The Vahini Series (written by Sri Sathya Sai Baba)
2. Sri Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. 1 – 42 (Six decades of discourses by Sri Sathya Sai Baba)
3. Summer Showers Series (Spiritual discourses by Sri Sathya Sai Baba given to college students during summer courses, 1972–2000)
4. Sathyam Sivam Sundaram, Parts 1-7 (Series on the Life of Sai Baba)
5. My Baba and I, by J. Hislop
6. Conversations with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, by J. Hislop
7. Loving God, by Professor N. Kasturi
8. Pathways to God, Volumes 1 to 3, by Jonathon Roof
9. Sai Navratnamala (Nine Gems), by A. Adivi Reddy
10. Journey to Sri Sathya Sai Baba… A Visitor’s Guide, by Valmai Worthington
11. Essence of Divinity, by Elaine Gries
12. Finding God, by Charles Penn
13. Sai Baba, Holy Man and the Psychiatrist, by Samuel Sandweiss
14. Sai Baba, Man of Miracles, by Howard Murphet
15. Sai Baba, the Ultimate Experience, by Phyllis Krystal
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