“Innernet with Sai”: Region 3’s First Virtual Retreat
Region 3 held its first Virtual Retreat on May 25, 2020, after the Sathya Sai International Organization advised a lockdown for all conferences, retreats and meetings in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s retreat was appropriately themed “Innernet with Sai”.
The retreat began with a video featuring Sathya Sai Baba, followed by chanting in both Sanskrit and English, light meditation, and devotional singing. Regional President, Balu Karanam, reviewed the activities of the year and expressed his gratitude to everyone for their hard work on such short notice to make the retreat possible.
Past Regional President Dr. Gnana Bhaskar Tenali had the honor of introducing the keynote speaker, Dr. K. Sankarasubramanian, an honor made more joyful because Tenali had been a student of Dr. Sankarasubramanian when he taught mathematics at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (SSSIHL). Each speaker shared wonderful stories of their experiences with Sai Baba as His students. After the tea break, participants viewed “Go Green Tips”, a slide series which gave suggestions for improving the environment.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Sankarasubramanian, then regaled the audience with happy memories of a memorable trip to Kashmir with Baba, along with other students several years ago. During the 18-day trip, Baba produced a lingam, some coins and statues, photos which were included in his slideshow, along with many pictures of a much younger Sai.
A series of slideshows followed. The first show featured a face mask service project carried out during the COVID-19 quarantine by the Sathya Sai Center of Charlotte, North Carolina. The second showed various plays by Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) classes across the region. There were also slideshows on recycling and service projects by various centers.
After the lunch break, the retreat continued with past Regional Vice President Sathya Gopalan, a former student at SSSIHL-Prasanthi Nilayam, recalling a humorous story about Baba. The ashram was installing a centralized water heating system when the new faucet gave way and hot water splashed over Sathya Sai Baba. Baba chimed in with laughter, “This was being dedicated to Swami, so Swami was the first to get a shower!”
Sathya Gopalan proceeded to introduce the five speakers on the panel who had also been students at SSSIHL-Prasanthi Nilayam. They regaled the audience with various episodes that revealed Baba’s sense of humor.
After the enjoyable panel session, the Young Adults presented a musical offering in the form of a program featuring Shri T.V Hariharan, a special guest singer, composer and musician who was speaking from Bangalore, India. Eight Young Adults took the microphone and requested the artist to perform some of their favorite songs. After viewers had enjoyed several songs along with videos of Baba enjoying the compositions, the regional officers gave thanks for the assistance they received in making this retreat possible. The audience left feeling spiritually uplifted by a day well-spent attending the virtual retreat.