SSSGC Zone 1
(answered by quotes from Sri Sathya Sai Baba)
1. How often should centers meet, what activities should be done, and which members should be involved?
Meet together once a week or once a fortnight or at least once a month; have someone to discourse to you or engage in Bhajan (devotional singing) or study or Dhyana (meditation); experience the thrill of spiritual comradeship. Every member of the Organization must have some item of work allotted to him and he must be present whenever such meetings are held, unless of course it becomes physically difficult. First All India Conference, Madras | April 20-21, 1967
2. Should there be separate seating men and women in centers of all cultures and countries? Why?
Some members from Western countries do not seem to favor the rule of the Sathya Sai Organisation, which lays down that at bhajans (Group singing of devotional songs) and at other meetings, men devotees should sit apart from women devotees. The rule should be applicable to all members— whether they are Indians or non-Indians, in India or elsewhere. It is a part of the spiritual discipline that is necessary for devotees. Even a great warrior like Arjuna confessed to Lord Krishna: “The mind is fickle and is very difficult to control.” If even Arjuna found it difficult to control his senses, how much more necessary it is for us to have some regulations to control our own minds? Prashanthi Nilayam | November 22, 1980
3. Which holy days should be celebrated?
Yesterday, someone read out a list of holy days which the associations were to celebrate. That list mentioned Shivaratri, Navaratri, Swami’s Birthday and Guru Poornima. But you must also celebrate the Birthdays of the Mahatmas (great souls) who led man to the God within, and also all days held holy by your brothers. Do not set limits to these celebrations and these days. Make every day a holy day and fill it with the recollection of God and His Messengers. First All India Conference, Madras | April 20-21, 1967
Let the different faiths exist, let them flourish and let the glory of God be sung in all the languages and in a variety of tunes. That should be the ideal. Respect the differences between the faiths and recognize them as valid as long as they do not extinguish the flame of Unity. Divine Discourse, |July 4th, 1968
4. What is the guidance for setting up meeting halls, decorations, and equipment?
You need not collect an impressive crowd; you need no costly paraphernalia; they are superfluous impediments. Do not spend much on lecturers and speakers. If any crave for monetary rewards or showy receptions, keep such at arm’s length. A chair and a table will be quite ample; loudspeakers are a luxury for most of your meetings…. Have only as many gatherings as you can afford; do not call them together, because you must! People must look forward to them, and not feel they are too many. Prasanthi Nilayam | Nov 21, 1968
No, I do not need grand decorations, huge pandals, arches, flags and such paraphernalia. I require only a mike to communicate My advice to the people. Even a chair is superfluous! I can talk standing. Spend sparingly for the minimum needs; do not involve yourselves in expensive luxury. I would like you to spend any extra money that you have for the feeding of the poor or for any similar beneficial object. First All India Conference, Madras | April 21, 1967
Attempts are being made in many places to build Sathya Sai Mandirs (halls of worship). But Sathya Sai will be happy if He is installed in your hearts; that is the Mandir I like, not those. First All India Conference, Madras | April 21, 1967
5. What if visitors don’t understand the teachings and rituals that are from languages unfamiliar to them?
So too, in the midst of the crazy habits and behaviors of today, there is no use presenting the scriptures in a language that is unfamiliar to most people. The scriptures can be explained in easy, understandable language, and the fundamentals will not be affected by this. Then, the scriptures can be practiced, understood, experienced, and enjoyed. Consequently, faith in the scriptures will also be strengthened, and peace will also be stabilized upon faith. So, every believer must practice the important directions of the scriptures and demonstrate in their life the sweetness of such a dedicated life, so that all others might appreciate the truth and value of the ideals and disciplines. Prasanthi Vahini, Ch 10
6. What does Swami say about quality vs quantity for centers?
I am not interested or elated when this or that district claims to have a larger number of Units of this Organization than the other one. I am interested in the work, in the loving heart, in the selfless service. There are Units that exist only in name! There are others that function in ways quite contrary to our purposes and ideals! Instead of allowing these to continue, it is best they are wound up, immediately. Better to have two or three that function well than hundreds that function badly or not at all. Two ounces of cow’s milk are preferable to a potful of donkey’s milk. Third All India Conference, Prasanthi Nilayam | November 20-21, 1970
Only those units of the Organization are authentic, wherein the office-bearers practice and experience spiritual Ananda, through adherence to the lines laid down here. The rest are mere nominal; they burden the lists with their names and should be immediately removed. Enough for us if there remain one or two where practice and preaching are correct and sincere. Quality is accepted; quantity is of no consequence. Fourth All India Conference, Madras | December 22-23, 1971
7. Who can be members of Sai Centers?
1). Of course, they must be eager aspirants for spiritual progress. 2). They must have full faith in the Name that the Organization bears and in spreading that Name, in the manner suited to Its Message and Majesty. 3). The member must have won recognition as a good person. That is all the qualification needed; nothing else counts. There is no need to have money or lands, or scholarship, influence or authority or official position. First All India Conference, Madras | April 20-21, 1967
Followers of all faiths can join our Organizations; there should be no opposition to their entry; on the other hand, they must be welcomed with sincerity and looked upon as brothers and sisters. Fourth All India Conference, Madras | December 22-23, 1971
8. What qualities should members exhibit?
Office-bearers and Members of Sathya Sai Institutions must have Sahana (tolerance of opinions different from one’s own), Satya (truth), Daya (compassion) and Prema (love). They must revere their parents. Whoever neglects his parents, allows them to languish and suffer while he himself is enjoying a higher standard of life does not deserve to be a member, for I always stress the Vedic injunction: Matru Devo Bhava (consider mother as God), Pitru Devo Bhava (consider father as God). Those of you who are guilty of this malfeasance, take note, and be cured by this injunction. The Sathya Sai Family must have only men and women, who honor their family obligation of nourishing and nursing their parents. Second All India Conference, Prasanthi Nilayam | November 20-21, 1969
9. What about affiliation with other spiritual organizations?
It is also laid down strictly that those who are in our organization should not have any connection with other Organizations of spiritual or religious character. Of course, so far as service is concerned, members should help and serve all, without distinction. Everyone in distress deserves help. But no member of the Samiti (center) should have any connection with other such institutions or societies. For example, there may be a Sai Samaj in your locality. “Sai is Sathya Sai; Sathya Sai is Sai.” I have declared often, and you know it and have realized its truth. Why then, you may ask, is the Sai Samaj distinct from the Sathya Sai Samaj? Well, this body with the name Sathya Sai, has full authority over all institutions established under this name. For the Sai Samaj, there is no body with that name to hold and exercise authority and so, if funds are collected, used or misused, this body has no control over the Sai Samajs (groups) in a tangible manner. So, it is best to keep the two distinct and allow those societies to go their own way. Third All India Conference, Prasanthi Nilayam | November 20-21, 1970
There are a number of other institutions also started and run by Swamis of various types. If we have any who associates with these, I ask the District and State President to remove them immediately. Though people can revere and worship whomsoever they like, we should not have in the Organization men with dual loyalties. Only those with faith and devotion to this Name and Form can carry out its objectives with zest and enthusiasm. Some Units are established with the sole purpose of earning money for the promoters. When a certain name or person is known all over the world and revered by all, such men are tempted to utilize that name for filling their own pockets or for earning name and fame for themselves by associating their activities with that name. This is natural stratagem. Several such persons are found to emerge everywhere. When this happens, the Organization gets a bad name. Third All India Conference, Prasanthi Nilayam | November 20-21, 1970
10. How important are rules and regulations?
Do not consider the rules as restrictions imposed by Me or as shackles on your freedom of action. They are devised to help you and others in the Sadhana (spiritual path) you have entered upon. Two guidelines, peculiar to this Organization you should not neglect: (1) Act and then advise; practice first, precept second. Unless you yourself avoid the evil habits, and the undesirable practices, don’t talk against them. (2) The rules and regulations that we have laid down for the Organization and its Units, must be observed, scrupulously, down to the smallest dot and dash. Fourth All India Conference, Madras | December 22-23, 1971
Not merely the office-bearers, but any one of the members, if he fails to observe any one of the rules and regulations, he is weakening the Organization and bringing it into disrepute. Members together form the Units. Its strength, its utility, its expansion, its efficacy, depend on disciplined obedience to rules. Faith in the discipline, marked out by the rules, is as the heart to the various limbs of the Organization. Lack of discipline is the root cause of the disorder and discord that are undermining almost all the various types of association of men, from the simplest to the most complex. Fourth All India Conference, Madras | December 22-23, 1971
11. How should finances be handled?
The Sathya Sai Organization and its units must not collect money or material from those outside the membership. Fund collection is as much opposed to this movement as fire is to water. If you yield on this point, spiritual advance will perish. Let only members contribute; do not ask all and sundry, or anyone who is not a member of the Samiti. When you collect money from outsiders you become tools in their hands. Dharwar | May 14, 1971
I shall tell you a method by which the extra funds you may need for any undertaking the Samiti has in view, are to be collected. Estimate beforehand what the expense will be. Suppose it comes to a thousand rupees, give that information to the fifteen members, and fix a day when they shall all meet. That day keep a locked box with a slit on the lid, in an inner room; let everyone go in alone into the room and deposit in the box whatever he feels he can. He can come away without depositing anything; he has the freedom to do so, there is no compulsion. If funds are collected with the knowledge of the rest, a person who is unable to give as much as another may feel humiliated, and so this is the best method. When all have finished their turn, let the box be opened and the amount counted. If it falls short of the estimate, divide the shortfall among all members equally and collect the share from each. If there is some surplus, keep it for the next occasion. Do not have lists, appeals, receipt books and all the cumbrous complex of fund collection campaigns. That way will lead you to stratagems and falsehoods, competition and calumny. Do it in this quiet and sacred manner, suited to the holy objectives you have. First All India Conference, Chennai | April 21, 1967