Sri Sathya Sai World Education Conference 2008 was held in the Divine Presence of Baba at Prasanthi Nilayam from 20th to 22nd July, 2008. More than 2000 delegates from 90 countries of the world including India participated in this Conference.
On the afternoon of 20th July, 2008, in a grand function held in Sai Kulwant Hall, Baba inaugurated the conference by lighting the sacred lamp at 4.25 pm. The function began with speeches of two distinguished speakers, Dr. Michael Goldstein, Chairman, Sri Sathya Sai World Foundation and Sri V. Srinivasan, All India President, Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations. Dr. Michael Goldstein, spoke first exhorting particularly those connected with Sathya Sai Education, to observe the highest spiritual principles in all that they did and become worthy instruments of Baba. He was followed by Sri V. Srinivasan, who observed that Sai Education is the gift of Sai to mankind for its transformation and redemption and is poised to bring about an era of love, peace and harmony in the world.
After these speeches, Baba blessed the delegates with His Inaugural Address. He spoke for fifty minutes, mentioning at the end that within twenty to thirty years, the whole world will be one, united in love. The Sai Symphony Orchestra presented their devotional music concert at 6.30 pm. After forty minutes of the symphony, Baba accepted Mangala Aarati at 7.05 pm and returned to His residence as Prasadam was distributed to all.
The first plenary session of the Education conference was held in Sai Kulwant Hall on the morning of 21st July, 2008, after the Divine Darshan at 10.30 am. Professor David Gries, the Zone I Chairman of the Sathya Sai Organisation, introduced the speakers: Dr. Tom Scoville of U.S.A., Dr. B. G. Pitre from Mumbai, Dr. Dalton de Souza Amorim from Latin America, and Sri G. S. Srirangarajan of Sri Sathya Sai University. Baba accepted Mangala Aarati after the speeches and returned to His residence at 11.50 am.
The second plenary session was held on the afternoon of 21st July, 2008, in Sai Kulwant Hall after the Divine Darshan at 4.30 pm. The programme commenced with speeches by Mr. Victor Krishna Kanu of Zambia, Mr. Jeremy Hoffer of U.S.A., Mr. M. K. Kaw of Delhi and Sri Sanjay Mahalingam from Sri Sathya Sai University. Baba then graciously consented to speak to the delegates. He answered the questions posed by the delegates and clarifications desired by them. In His Divine Message, He stressed on the need for parents to take proper care of their children, and for the children He said that they should love, obey and respect their parents. The students sang Bhajans for ten minutes after the Discourse. Thereafter the devotees from the former U.S.S.R. offered a musical presentation. Songs from Russia, Georgia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan kept the packed hall enthralled with their catchy tunes and lively beat. After their half-hour programme, Baba asked them to sing one more song, so they sang the popular “Kalinka” and had the audience clapping all through. He interacted with the organisers, and then, waved His hands to materialise a large golden Hiranyagarbha Lingam. Wrapping it in a small bag, He handed it over to Dr. Goldstein with some instructions. Blessing all the devotees, Baba accepted Mangala Aarati and returned to His residence at 7.30 pm while Prasadam was distributed to everybody present.
On 22nd July, 2008, in the morning, Bhajans began in Sai Kulwant Hall at 9.00 am and Baba granted His Divine Darshan at 9.50 am. After He sat onstage for a few minutes and interacted with the conference organisers, He moved to the interview room and called in a few lady delegates for an interview. Once He emerged from the interview, He accepted Mangala Aarati before returning to His residence at 11.00 am.
The Valedictory Session of the Sri Sathya Sai World Education Conference got underway in the evening on 22nd July, 2008, in Sai Kulwant Hall in the Divine Presence at 5.00 pm. The three speakers for the session were Dr. Narendra Reddy, Director, Sri Sathya Sai World Foundation; Sri Nimish Pandya, District President, Mumbai Sai Organisation and Dr. Michael Goldstein, Chairman, Sri Sathya Sai World Foundation. Once the speakers summed up the conference proceedings and outlined the course of future action, Baba delivered His Benedictory message. He stressed the importance of unity and the feeling that all are the children of one Father. At the end of His Discourse, He went to the interview room briefly, and returned with Dr. Goldstein in. Baba took the Lingam He had given to Dr. Goldstein the previous evening and displayed it to everyone, then created Vibhuti and sprinkled it on the Lingam. Baba announced that He’s giving the Lingam to Dr. Goldstein for him to distribute the Abhishekam water to those who are unwell. He then asked for the evening’s cultural programme to begin.
Children from the Sri Sai Vidya Vihar, Alwaye, Kerala, presented an hour-long dance-drama on ‘Bhakta Jayadeva’. Baba’s face was wreathed in smiles, watching the small children make their presentation. As they concluded, He got up from the stage and walked down to take group photographs with them. He then sat onstage and distributed laminated photographs to each of them as they came up one by one, while Prasadam was distributed to all the devotees. He also threw a couple of sweets to some of the drama participants. It was 8.00 pm when Baba accepted Mangala Aarati and returned to His residence.