National Conference 2023 - Karishye Vachanam Tawa
The Sai Organisation of New Zealand had the wonderful opportunity to host a National Conference at Sacred Heart College in Auckland during the weekend of 22-23 April 2023; thanks to the Divine Grace of our beloved Lord, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The theme of the Conference was “Karishye Vachanam Tawa” (Thy word, oh Lord, is my command).
We were blessed beyond measure to have Dr. Sai Giridhar Sairam, who has spent the greater part of his life in holy proximity to our Bhagawan Baba and who has devoted himself to Swami's Mission, as our keynote speaker. Having been awakened from his slumber of ignorance by Lord Krishna, the protagonist of the Mahabharata, Arjuna spoke these words with the clarity that allowed him to fulfil his Dharma finally. Similarly, in this Kali Yuga (Dark age), we devotees are sitting in the same place, with doubts keeping us from living as the Lord instructs. At the conference's workshops, devotees learned concrete and profound ways to bring ‘Karishye Vachanam Tawa’ into their daily lives.
The two-day event, 22-23 April 2023, consisted of seminars, games, and bhajans that encouraged participation from the audience. Dr. Sai Giridhar opened the first day of the conference on Saturday, 22 April 2023 with a discussion on the 73rd sloka of Bhagavad Gita, which contains Arjuna's famous line, "Karishye Vachanam Tawa". After that, he led an activity on human values that helped us comprehend Swami's writings in a very tangible way.
‘Bhajan Antakshari’ was a humorous and entertaining part of the day, putting the brothers against the sisters and ultimately being won by the latter. The Australian Deputy National President of Sri Sathya Sai Organisation, Aunty Saraswathi Bhaskar, then spoke on ‘Sarvakarma Bhagavad Preethyartham’ (perform Actions to please God), or rather say, doing good deeds as an offering to God. After that, our Devotional Coordinator of Zone 3, Brother Sridhar, talked about chanting Vedam and why it's important to have a qualified instructor assist you through the process. This made the devotees more appreciative of the opportunity to study Vedam.
Dr. Sai Giridhar then spoke on ‘Life is a Yagna – Life Transforming Processes as Taught by Swami.’ While every aspect of the day held deep significance, one of the most profound experiences was that evening’s dinner. From first-hand experience with Swami during his days as a student, Dr. Sai Giridhar shared with us how we should consume our food as Swami prescribes. When we conceive our bodies as the original Yajñaśālā (sacrificial chamber), we then understand the act of eating as being yajña itself. After mass chanting of Bramharpanam, all devotees consumed the prasadam after in utter silence. This physical and mental stillness was held throughout the dinner session and it truly felt like Swami was in the room with us, enjoying His meal. After dinner we were addressed by Brother Sudhagar Sivabalan, the Zonal Young Adult Coordinator and we enjoyed a Musical Offering presented by Young Adults from the Auckland Region to conclude the night.
Day 2 (Sunday, 23 April 2023), of the conference commenced with Dr. Sai Giridhar hosting a guided meditation session on ‘Dissolving in the Divine’ followed by a workshop on ‘How to Get an Interview with Swami Today?’ However, the most fun and exciting part of the two-day experience culminated in the gamification of the Gita Vahini, an experience created by Dr. Sai Giridhar himself and facilitated by trained devotees. All devotees had the opportunity to choose one of the three paths: Bhakti (Devotion), Karma (Action) and Jnana (Wisdom). Within these groups, devotees travelled through a pathway of self-reflection after reading key verses from the Gita on their respective paths. The game allowed for self-reflection, study circle-like discussions and one-on-one discussions with our knowledgeable guest speakers, concluding with a Q&A session. Devotees were made to realise that much like an auto-rickshaw, one of 3 wheels (Bhakti, Karma or Jnana) may guide us, but the other 2 wheels must also be intact for the auto to take us through life.
By the end of this two-day journey, each devotee was equipped with practical methods on how to sanctify every aspect of daily life, right from reading divine literature and doing service activities, to correctly executing simple tasks such as eating, bathing as well as other worldly duties. For all who attended, the path to God and self-realisation was no longer a theoretical idea but rather made into practical methods to fulfil our Lord's command.
Jai Sam Ram.
(Sai Organisation of New Zealand)