Aum Sri Sairam
Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation ~ Odisha
Faith in God is natural to all Indians and they believe that God resides in the places of worship, be it a temple or a church or a mosque or Gurudwara. But this belief of Indians does not match with the manner in which these places of worship are maintained. If cleanliness is next to godliness, then surely we have a lot to aspire for, in terms of cleanliness!
Driven by this spirit the youth Seva Dal of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation (SSSSO), of Balipatna in Puri District embarked on a project to clean two temples and three mosques on two consecutive sundays prior to the Eid festival of Muslims and Car Festival (Rath Yatra) of Hindus. Balipatna is a block headquarters with certain pockets where there is sizable Muslim population. There are many mosques here, of which three are quite large.
When the youth went to the moulavies (Muslim clerics) and sought their permission to clean the mosques, they could not believe their ears. Hindu boys, that too some of them bramhins , coming forward to clean the mosques, had never happened. It was something unheard of. Is it the mischief of some Hindu fundamentalists? To clear such doubts or fears, they asked who had advised them to do all this and whether they had taken the permission of their parents. They replied that they were the followers of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba who had taught them to respect all religions as those are different pathways to one God and to serve humanity, as service to mankind is service to God. When the Moulavies asked them why Masjids, they could clean their own temples, the reply was only when they clean a mosque they will realise that both Mandir and Masjid are the abodes of one God and both are to be respected. Moulavies were amazed seeing these white clad sevaks speaking such noble words, their intense desire to follow their master and their gentle behaviour full of love. Such selfless attitude by these enthusiastic young men won the hearts of the Moulavies and they ungrudgingly gave them permission to do the seva.
On the appointed Sunday, around 6.30am the group leader was taking stock of the work and distributing the available work force to different tasks as per requirement. Before the start all the Seva Dal, Moulavi Saheb and Samithi Convener assembled for a prayer. SSSSO boys chanted a couple of universal prayers and moulavi saheb recited certain verses from Holy Koran .
Accordingly, the work progressed with great vigour. Everybody was focussed on his work. There was silence all around. Some people who had come to see what was happening, were so impressed that they too joined the seva. Among them was a Professor in Odia and a Police inspector. Everyone seemed to have been infused with Divine Energy!
The inmates of the Mosque and the general public were watching the manner in which seva was carried out and how without any hesitation they were cleaning the areas from where foul smell was emitting. Finally, that day’s work came to an end and the youth assembled to offer thanks to the Lord for giving them an opportunity to serve. Moulavi saheb offered to the Seva Dal some snacks which they politely refused and requested him to give them some drinking water instead.
The second Sunday revealed a transformation! The entire village appeared to have been mesmerised by last Sunday’s seva. They realised for the first time ,how good and refreshing it was to live in a clean atmosphere,hence everybody was on a cleaning drive. The inmates of the Mosque were cleaning the inside of the mosque. The ladies were busy in cleaning their houses,the shop owner was cleaning his shop, the hotel owner was cleaning his hotel. Village hospital, school, market place, bus stand—everywhere people were busy in cleaning. No one felt in terms of my work or your work. It was the work of all. It was simply difficult to measure the impact one Sunday’s seva had on the villagers, that could change their hundreds of year’s mindsets!
At the end of the second day’s work, the mosque had a completely refreshing look. The idgaa ground was ready to invite all the Muslims and men ofother religions to offer their prayers on the last day of the month of holy Ramzan. In a meeting held towards the close, the Moulavis expressed their gratitude to Bhagawan Baba and his followers for opening their eyes on the importance of cleanliness and assured the youth of the seva dal that henceforth they will keep their mosques clean. They invited to join the id-ul fitre celebrations. District President of SSSSO thanked the Moulavies for allowing the seva dal to do the seva and assured all Muslim brothers that in times of hunger, disease, bereavement or any type of danger, they can rely on our organization as a friend in need.
Today there is absolute religious harmony in these villages. The artificial barriers created to divide mankind on the basis of religion are broken and religious tolerance has given place to religious acceptance. Incidence of diseases has drastically come down. Each has learnt to respect the other and all have learnt to live together.Today when a Muslim youth meets a Hindu youth, the Muslim youth greets him saying Sairam and the Hindu youth in return, says walecumesalam.,and both of them warmly embrace each other.Thus a silent revolution is taking place all over the world and Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s dream of a golden age is gradually taking shape.
Shri Jagannath Prasad Rao, State President, Odisha
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