“And the next song we’re going to sing is ‘In the Good Old Summertime’ . . . ”

Murmurs of recognition sound through the room, and smiles light up the faces of the elderly. The piano plays, and we start to sing, joined by some of the residents in the nursing home. For the entire duration of that song, the 30-some people in the room are unified. The piano, guitar, violin, singers, harmony, and melody all blend together to create a beautiful sound that not only touches the hearts of the people listening but the singers as well. For once we are doing something solely for others to enjoy, and putting into practice Sathya Sai Baba’s message, “Your happiness is my happiness.” We are happy only if they liked the performance, and they are happy only if we promise to come back again. When the session is done, everyone leaves feeling fulfilled and content. And at least for me, I feel that I have received a lot more than I have given.

Being part of this service has been an invaluable experience. I look forward to it every month. I love to sing, and this service was so perfect for me; there are really no words to describe it. The unity within our singing group is amazing. We all feel included and accepted. We all laugh and joke, and time flies when we are rehearsing as well as performing. We are not forced or obligated to participate; we do it because we want to be there. We just simply come together once a month to sing the songs as best and as beautifully as we can for the residents at the nursing home.

The rehearsals are fun and interesting; when we learn new songs, we not only learn the tune but learn a little historical background to it as well. We try to go back in time to understand and experience what it would have been like for people living in that era, and this further connects us with our music and our audience. I will admit that some of the tunes are a little hard to pick up, but as you keep listening to the CDs, the songs kind of grow on you, and before you know it, you are singing them in the shower or as you are cleaning. I even found myself humming them in school.

When devotees sing in groups, a sense of unity develops. By all people singing in unison and all hands clapping together, all hearts become one.

Sathya Sai Baba, April 1984

The first time we went there to sing, I was anxious because I did not know how they would receive our program, but we were immediately welcomed into the hearts of the residents. They were so willing to listen, be open, and accepted us so warmly that it really touched my heart. There was not one single face that was not smiling the whole time that we were there. That instant acceptance without judgment was the one thing that I admired the most about the residents at the nursing home.

What really makes this service special is the chance we have to interact and talk with the residents and get to know them better. I think this really makes the service meaningful and impactful for both the residents and us. We listen to their stories, learn about their predicaments, realize how truly blessed we are – and how thankful we should be – because we could easily be in the same situation. When they share their stories of living alone and having no visitors, it pains me, because just like me, these people really just want someone to talk to, someone to love, listen, and accept them for who they are.

Service does not just end at the nursing home. I now try to listen and be present with everyone who is around me. I try to put this into practice everywhere I go, and I can really see the impact that it is making. I really thank God for this opportunity to take part in this service, and I pray that with His grace I can continue to be a part of this wonderful experience.


Any happiness that you can give to others will result in happiness for yourself in the end. Man must realize that he cannot get anything without sharing it with humanity around him. So, you must believe that happiness of the people around you will lead to your own happiness in due course.

Sathya Sai Baba, Summer Showers in Brindavan, 1973

Akshaya Ravishankar

Sathya Sai Baba Center of Shelton, CT


Additional Info

While the author is affiliated with the Shelton Center, the article reports on a service project jthat was jointly undertaken by devotees of the Sathya Sai Centers of Shelton, Silvermine and Norwalk, in Connecticut USA.