As part of Guru Purnima celebrations, a series of programmes were held at Prasanthi Nilayam. The Sri Sathya Sai World Youth Conference on the lofty topic “Ideal Sai Leadership” was conducted in Poornachandra Auditorium on 13th and 14th July 2011.
As a curtain raiser to the Guru Purnima festival, on the morning of 14th July, the programme commenced with Veda chanting at 8.00 a.m. Sai Kulwant Hall was filled to capacity. The Hall was tastefully decorated with Chinese lanterns and buntings which added aesthetic value to the ambience. The altar with Bhagawan’s photographs was beautifully decorated with fresh flowers. Malladi brothers, Sriram Prasad and Sri Ravi Kumar, the famous Carnatic music duo enthralled the audience with their performance for the sixth time. They were accompanied by artistes on violin, Ghatam, Mridagam and Tanpura. The singers and artistes sat facing Swami’s majestic throne and the photographs. The Malladi brothers began their rendition with a song in Hamsadhwani Raga. The songs extolled Bhagawan as The Mother Divine, as the One who chose to be born in the Ratnakara clan and the mother of the Avatar, Easwaramma. The concluding songs raised the tempo to a crescendo, namely, Janula Madhya Tirugade Jagapati (the Master of the universe who moves amidst people), Sai Namasmaranam Sai Rupa Dhyanam (Chanting the Name of Sai and meditating on the form of Sai). At the end, Prof. Anil Kumar showered praises on the singers and compared them to the singers Sri Rama and Sri Lakshmana who sang along with Bhagawan in Venkatagiri during those earlier days. Sri V. Srinivasan, All India President, Sri Sathya Sai Organisations honoured the singers and artistes with silk Angavastrams, after which the singers paid their obeisance to Bhagawan. A few Bhajans followed and the morning programme concluded with Arati at 10.15 am.
The second day of the conference began with opening prayers at the Poornachandra Auditorium. The first speaker for the day was a young adult speaker Aparna Murali, a member of the International Youth Council from Zone 1 comprising the countries – U.S.A., Canada, West Indies and Israel. The second young adult speaker was Mathias Seital, again a member of the International Youth Council from Zone 7, comprising countries from Northern Europe. The third and fourth young adult speakers were Anatoli Dikunov from Zone 8 Russia and Alvin Leo from Zone 3 comprising the countries – Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Fiji. Both were members from the International Youth Council. Then they dispersed into study circle groups and deliberated on the topic “Sai Young Adults – Sai Ideal Leaders of the Future.” After the lunch recess, the reports on the deliberations of all the study circles were presented by the group facilitators. The day’s proceedings ended with concluding remarks by Sri Shitu Chudasama, International Youth Coordinator and closing prayers.
The evening programme commenced with Veda chanting at 4.30 pm followed by speeches by two youth from the International Sathya Sai Organisation. The first speaker was Sri Shitu Chudasama, International Youth Coordinator. Offering his humble salutations to Bhagawan, Sri Chudasama opined that though Bhagawan was no longer physically with us, He continues to guide and inspire us. We should not forget that the work He has started through us should continue. It is therefore important that we utilise our capabilities to the utmost. Continuing his speech, the
learned speaker said that Bhagawan always gave the onus to youth by saying that the future of any nation depends on youth. Those who were present during the youth conference in 2007 were witness to Bhagawan distributing robes to the delegates. One should not underestimate the power of robe. He referred to an incident in the bible where a mere touch of the hem of robe of Jesus could cure a person. Bhagawan even told the delegates to keep the robe under their pillow while sleeping. Such is the value of the robe. Sri Chudasama said that Bhagawan had granted permission for this youth conference in last November to Dr. Michael Goldstein. This youth conference is “of the youth, for the youth and by the youth.” There are 440 youth leaders. Many of them are active participants in international youth programmes. Sri Chudasama took a pledge that they would continue to serve till their last breath. Since the last youth conference, we have been trying to build a solid youth foundation. Our Sai Organisation bears the name of Divinity; we should safeguard it, said Sri Chudasama. In many countries, youth have been given greater responsibilities, especially the senior youth. Our youth have played a major part in allaying the suffering of people in natural calamities: Tsunami in Sri Lanka, earthquake in Haiti, etc. They have also undertaken a drinking water project in Nepal. Zonal youth conferences have been held across 9 zones. In Zone 2 – Latin America, 21 countries held a conference on the topic “The Moment is Now.” The depth of understanding of Youth of Latin America is phenomenal, told Sri Chudasama. Russian youth though financially poor, travel long distance through trains to attend conferences. The service activities done by Russian youth is noteworthy. Similar conferences were held in far east and other parts of the world. Reiterating further, Sri Chudasama said, “We must remember that Bhagawan is always with us to guide us. God has no beginning or end. He is eternal.” We have promised to offer ourselves to Bhagawan so that our life becomes His message. With these words, Sri Shitu Chudasama concluded his speech.
The next young adult speaker was Sri Daniel Strauss, Member of the International Youth Council. Offering his humble salutations at the Divine Lotus Feet and paying his respects to the Sri Sathya Sai Trust members, Sri Strauss said that 440 youth leaders brought together youth from 17 countries in unison for this conference. Right from registration to arranging chairs and Prasadam were done by the youth. Speaking on the deliberations of the conference, Sri Strauss said that delegates examined on the ways to improve the organisation. In addition to new guidelines, delegates were asked to structure the old ones. An important deliberation was to make Sai leaders for the future. Young leaders are important for the Sai Organisation. Delegates were asked to do spiritual enquiry to find answers to probing questions. The mission of the Sai Organisation is to awaken the inner divinity. Sai Organisation is founded on spirituality. These will help spiritually mature young adults. Spiritual leadership is the focus of our young adults. Finally, the key factor is that we have to become master of ourselves. With Swami’s grace, we want to practice the maxim “Heads in the forest, hands in society.” The speaker ended his speech by saying, “Swami is the refuge and comforter to millions.” The gospel of love will perpetuate forever.
After the speech of Sri Strauss, youth from 16 countries from the regions 1,6,7 and 8 presented a choir in unison. The group was christened LASA (Love All Serve All). The voices of the youth, both gents and ladies gelled well with the musical instruments. The international choir enthralled the audience for about an hour. At the end, the leader of the group expressed his gratitude to Swami for the opportunity. The students from Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning sang a few Bhajans, and then Arati was offered at 6 p.m.