The year was 1961 and the day was Dussera. After the poornahuti or the final oblation of the ‘Veda Purusha Saptaha Jnana Yajna’, Sri Sathya Sai Baba came to the Mandir and addressed the huge assembly with the following words,
I am starting a Seva Samithi. The persons who become members of this samithi and perform selfless service will be liberated from the cycle of birth and death; not only they, but also their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. But the test will be severe. I will see how many will withstand this trial and emerge victorious in the end.

This marked the sowing of the seeds of a unique organisation – totally voluntary and accepting within its fold any individual without any distinction based on caste, colour, creed, language, faith or socio-economic status and which would develop into a gigantic tree spreading across the world in more than 120 countries.

Since the sowing of the seeds as above, the Organisation started to sprout in various regions in various forms and groups which were rather un-organised and loosely knit.

On 18th of March 1963, for the first time, Sri Sathya Sai Bhajan Centre was inaugurated in Prashanthi Nilayam in the Divine presence to carry out bhajans in a systematic and a regular way with certain rules and regulations. In a couple of years such Bhajan Mandalis came into existence in various parts of Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Orissa, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab etc.

The first Samithi Members with Baba
Mr. Sanadi, Mr. Atal, Mr. Indulal Shah, Mr. Wagle, Bhaskar Rao, Mr. Narendra Hate, Mr. Dafftari, Mr. Pinge, Mr. Chidanand Nagarkar, Mr. Navalkar, Mr. Java, MST. Nandan Ballawally, Narayan Das Bhatia, Raja Navalkar, Mr. Mukundrao Rane, Mr. L C Bhatia, Mr. Mistry, Mr. Gurudutt Bailoor, Mr. Ballawally, Mr. Sampath
Baba with Hyderabad sevadals during the inaugural function of the Sri Sathya Sai Sevadal, 1968
It was on 5th July 1965 that the first ever Sri Sathya Sai Seva Samithi was formally constituted in Bombay (presently known as Mumbai) by a few devotees which was blessed by Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The devotees from different parts of the country who had assembled at Prasanthi Nilayam during the following Birthday celebrations learnt about the formation of the Samithi in Bombay and came forward to form similar units in their respective areas for carrying on service and spiritual activities. Over the years, the units of the Organisation grew under the inspiration of the Divine and took the form and shape of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations that started to function in a well structured manner and with proper administrative rules and regulations founded on the principle of Love, and only Love, as the Master said in His own words:
The Sai Organisation is set up to develop and foster Love; it is not set up through compulsion; it arose from the heart and it expands the heart. The inner desire to achieve Love and expand Love has taken outer shape as this Organisation. – All-India Conference, Prashanthi Nilayam, 21 November 1970
The Master has been very categorical in setting the stage straight when it came to the use of His name with the Organisation and the purpose of the Organisation, which is deeply rooted into the welfare and redemption of the whole Mankind.
The Organisations named after Me are not to be used for publicising My Name, or creating a new cult around My worship. They must try to spread interest in japam (recitation of God’s Name), dhyaanam (meditation) and other saadhanas (spiritual practices), which lead man Godward; they must demonstrate the joy derivable from bhajan (devotional group singing) and Naamasmarana (remembering God’s Name), the Shaanthi (peace) that one can draw from Sathsang (good company). They must render seva (service) to the helpless, the sick, the distressed, the illiterate and the needy. Their seva (selfless service) should not be exhibitionistic; it must seek no reward, not even gratitude or thanks from the recipients. Seva is saadhana, not a pastime of the rich and well placed. Each one must realise his own truth. That is the purpose of all the teaching, all the curing, all the counselling, all the organising, all the advising that I do – Divine Discourse, World Conference of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, Bombay, 17 May 1968
I have not got the slightest intention to utilise the Seva Samithis (Service Organisations) for propagating My Name or canvas homage for My Name. No! I am content only when spiritual endeavours and disciplines to elevate and purify man are progressing everywhere. – Divine Discourse, World Conference of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, Bombay, 17 May 1968

Since the 1960s, when the seeds of the Organisation in India were sowed, it transformed itself into a banyan tree spreading across length and breadth of India in almost all the Districts under which many take refuge to cure their own spiritual ailment by alleviating the miseries of millions. By such acts they indeed relieve their own afflictions, their own sorrows, and serve the same Lord who is the resident of their heart as well as the heart of the recipient of their services, the one and the only Lord, the indweller of every heart. This way, they march ahead on the path of releasing their own inherent Divinity, their true identity, their true Self.

Over the decades, several All India and World Conferences have taken place in the Divine presence that have helped the members and office bearers of the Organisation in running it as a well oiled machinery for realisation of its objectives and the welfare of humanity. All these conferences have been presided over by the Master Himself who ‘guided and chided’ the members and devotees with the Love of a million father and mother. A record depicting such a history is presented here.

First All India Conference of the Office-Bearers, April 20 – 21, 1967

The First All India Conference of the Office-Bearers of Sri Sathya Sai Organisation was held in the Divine Presence at Abbotsbury, Madras on the 20th and 21st of April 1967. Dr. B. Ramakrishna Rao, former Governor of Kerala and Uttar Pradesh, presided over the proceedings on the 20th. The office bearers gave brief reports about the Seva activities in their respective states. The Chairman gave a brief report of the activities undertaken overseas. Baba then blessed the delegates with His Divine Message. Baba gave a call to HIS devotees “to march ahead with boldness and unity in search of God”. He also urged HIS devotees to “worship the divinity in the hearts of their fellow beings by rendering various services and thus striving to help those who are afflicted with sufferings and are in dire need of help”. This conference also synthesied and twined all Samihtis in a uniform pattern. Necessary rules and regulations were formulated to bring all Samithis under a common body/organisation and function effectively in a cohesive manner. In the evening, Baba gave clear guidelines to the Presidents and Secretaries of each state individually in conducting Seva activities. He addressed the delegates on 21st evening and granted interviews to the representatives He was unable to meet the previous day. The musician siblings Sri B. V. Raman and Sri B. V. Lakshman gave performances.

First World Conference and Second All India of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, May 16 – 19, 1968

The first World Conference and Second All India of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations was held at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Campus in Bombay from 16th to 19th of May, 1968. Sri Morarji Desai, Deputy Prime Minister of India, inaugurated the Conference at 9.00 am on 16th morning. After the invocatory recitation by Sri Kameswara Ganapathy, Sri P. K. Sawant welcomed the delegates, and Sri Indulal Shah gave an outline of the programme. Baba then called upon some delegates to summarise the activities of the Organisations in their respective states. Justice V. Balakrishan Eradi from Kerala, R. P. V. Rayaningar from Madras, Dr. Choodasma from Jamnagar, Mrs. Khasalkar from Bihar, Sri D. P. Sukla from Uttar Pradesh, Sri Somdat Khera from West Bengal, Sri G. Ramarao from Orissa, Sri Murthy from Madhya Pradesh, and Dr. S. Bhagavantam from Delhi summarised the activities in their respective states. Charles Penn from Los Angeles, Howard Murphet from Australia, Dr. C. G. Patel from East Africa, Dr. Nallainathan from Ceylon, and Ms. Indra Devi from Mexico shared their experiences with the delegates. Baba then nominated a few members to head various Committees. A public meeting in connection with the Conference was held at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Campus at 6.00 pm. Baba thrilled the audience with His Discourse in Sanskrit.

On the 17th, Prof. V. K. Gokak and Dr. Nagappa Alwa, the former Health Minister of Mysore State, addressed the delegates. Sri P. K. Sawant and Mrs. Osborne addressed the delegates prior to Baba’s Discourse. He then delivered His Message. Baba met the delegates on the 18th and interacted with them. On the 18th morning Sri Indulal Shah, Sri Rayaningar and Dr. S. Bhagavantam addressed the delegates and Baba then delivered His Discourse. Sri Nanubhai Sastry of Navsari offered a Sanskrit epic on Baba’s life at the Lotus Feet. Sri Indulal Shah, Sri P. K. Sawant, Prof. V.K. Gokak and Sri Bharde addressed the delegates during the Benedictory Function held on the 19th. Thereafter, Baba blessed the delegates with His Valedictory Message.

At this Conference, the need and necessity of the proper and effective conduct of bhajans, Nagar Sankeertans and Study Circles in developing peoples’ faith in God and increasing their devotion was underscored and the necessity of Seva Dal was recognised.

Third All India Conference of the Office Bearers, November 20 – 22, 1969

The Third All India Conference of the Office Bearers of the Units of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation was held between the 20th and 22nd November, 1969 at Prasanthi Nilayam. The State and the District Presidents presented themselves before Baba on 18th November. At 10.00 am on the 20th of November, Baba inaugurated the Conference and delivered His Inaugural Address. Sri N. Kasturi welcomed the delegates. Sri Indulal Shah outlined the programme of the Conference. Baba met the delegates from different states on the 21st morning and addressed them in the evening. The recommendations of the subcommittees were presented by Sri Indulal Shah on 22nd morning and Baba gave a Discourse. Baba delivered His Valedictory Address in the evening. Later, the Chinmaya Cultural troupe from Madras performed in the Divine Presence. A key decision to form Mahila Vibhag and Bal Vihar was taken during this Conference.

First All India Conference of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Dal, October 3, 1970

The 1st All India Conference of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Dal was held at the Prayer Hall on 3rd October morning with Sri Nakul Sen, Lt. Governor of Goa, as the Chairman. Sri N. Kasturi and Sri Indulal Shah addressed the gathering. Sri Sen then delivered his presidential address. In the Valedictory meeting of the conference, Baba gave His Divine Message to the delegates.

Fourth All India Conference of the Office-Bearers, November 20 – 23, 1970

The Fourth All India Conference of the Office-Bearers of the various units of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation of India was held at Prasanthi Nilayam between the 20th and the 22nd of November, 1970. Baba delivered His Divine Message at the Valedictory Session held on the 22nd. He showered His blessings on the devotees gathered in thousands at the Lotus Feet on 23rd November 1970, to celebrate His 45th Birthday.

Baba declared that selfless service was the first stepping stone to spiritual progress and if service was carried out with love and tolerance, there would be peace and prosperity in the world and such an act would be naturally dear to HIM. Basic Guidelines to active Workers were formulated.

First All India Bal Vikas Teachers’ Conference, May 11 – 14, 1971

The First All India Bal Vikas Teachers Conference was held at Dharmakshetra, Bombay, on the 11th and 12th of May, 1971. Baba blessed the devotees with His Message on 12th May, the third Anniversary of Dharmakshetra. The Third State Conference of the Office Bearers of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation, Maharashtra, was held at Dharmakshetra on the 13th May. Sri M. M. Pinge, State President of Maharashtra, presented a brief report of the activities. In His Message, Baba elaborated on the objectives that the Organisation should place before itself. 

Fifth All India Conference of Office Bearers, December 22, 1971

The Fifth All India Conference of Office Bearers of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation was held in Abbotsbury, Madras, on the 22nd and 23rd of December, 1971. Baba hoisted the Prasanthi Flag at 9.00 am on the 22nd to inaugurate the Conference and delivered His Inaugural Address. In His Discourse to the delegates on 23rd morning, Baba spelt out the guidelines for utilising the Sai Organisation as an instrument for individual liberation and social upliftment. He then spent some time with the delegates from each State. Prof. V. K. Gokak, Sri P. K. Sawant and Sri Indulal Shah spoke during the evening session. In His Concluding Address, Baba stressed the need for forbearance and tolerance. The Bal Vikas children of Tamil Nadu presented a few cultural programmes in the Divine Presence. He blessed the delegates at 8.00 am on the 24th morning with a photograph with Himself.

At this Conference, services in the fields of Health and Education were introduced. The name of Sri Sathya Sai Bal Vihar changed to Sri Sathya Sai Bal Vikas, and the term for “Bal Vikas Teacher” was changed to “Bal Vikas Guru”. Baba emphasised that various units/wings of the Organisation e.g. Bhajan Mandali, Study Circle, Seva Dal, Mahila Vibhag and Bal Vikas have to work under the auspices of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Samithi and not independently.

Second All India Sri Sathya Sai Seva Dal Conference, October 9-10, 1972

Baba inaugurated the 2nd All India Sri Sathya Sai Seva Dal Conference on 9th morning. Sri Nakul Sen, Lieutenant Governor of Goa, presided over the conference. Prof. Gokak offered at the Lotus Feet his new book – ‘Narahari, Prophet of New India’ on this occasion. Baba then delivered His Inaugural Address. He addressed the delegates on 10th morning also. At the evening session, Baba elaborated on the final resolutions arrived at during the conference which He approved of.

Sixth All India Conference of Office Bearers , January, 1974

Baba inaugurated the Sixth All India Conference of Office Bearers of the Sathya Sai Organisations at Rajahmundry in January 1974. Over 6,000 delegates from all over India attended the conference. In addition, 750 Bal Vikas Gurus participated in the All India Conference of Bal Vikas Gurus held in the Divine Presence. Swami Karunyananda took all the necessary efforts to organise these conferences under Babas direct supervision. Babas Discourses helped integrate the office bearers into an effective instrument in His mission. Baba blessed the Bal Vikas Movement describing it as the basic activity of the Sai Movement and the Gurus as its most useful pioneers. Babas presence during all the three days of the conference motivated the delegates who had come from distant places like Calcutta, Bihar and Patna.

An emphatic call was given to the workers of the organisation to intensify their Sadhana through devotion, discipline and duty and to be exemplary to others. It was also decided that Sri Sathya Sai Seva Samithis shall hereunto be unregistered bodies.

Several conference during 50th, Birthday Celebrations, November 15 – 23, 1975

The 50th Birthday celebrations were held at Prashanti Nilayam between 14th and 24th November, 1975. The Third All India Sathya Sai Seva Dal Conference and the Third All India Bal Vikas Gurus Conference were held at Prashanti Nilayam on 15th, 16th and 17th of November. The Rathotsavam started from Prasanthi Mandir at 8.30 am on the 18th morning. Chandi Yaga was performed in the Divine Presence from the 19th to the 23rd of November. Baba performed the Poornahuti of the Yaga on 23rd morning.

The Second World Conference of Sri Sathya Sai Organisations was held in the Divine Presence at Prasanthi Nilayam between the 19th and the 21st of November, 1975. A rally by the Bal Vikas students was held on the 22nd. Baba blessed the devotees with His Darshan from a helicopter on 23rd morning. When the helicopter landed, Sri Vengala Rao, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, received Him. Accompanied by the Chief Minister, Baba then moved in a procession to the Sarva Dharma Aikya Stupa. The Stupa was then inaugurated by the Chief Minister. On 23rd evening, Members of Sathya Sai Central Trust; the State Presidents of Sri Sathya Sai Organisation from India and all over the world; Sri T. A. Pai, Minister for Heavy Industries and Civil Supply; Sri Subbarayudu and Sri Sagi Suryanarayana Raju, Ministers of Govt. of Andhra Pradesh; offered their homage at the Lotus Feet at Poornachandra Auditorium. Baba then delivered His Birthday Message. He gave Darshan seated in the Jhoola on the 24th night.

Unity of all religions and that all religions are holy paths to the same goal was underscored. It was emphasised to make organisation acceptable to people of all religions and all castes. Furthermore, it was decided to form the World Council of Sri Sathya Sai Organisations.

At the conclusion of the World Conference on 22nd November, Baba nominated the following members as the Members of the Governing Body of the World Council of Sri Sathya Sai Organisations: Sri Indulal Shah, Dr. J. Hislop, Dr. K. Pani, Sri S. Sitaram, the Rajmata of Navanagar, Dr. Bhagavantam, Sri Sohanlal, Sri Balesingham, and Mrs. Natalie Santos.

It was during the 50th Birthday celebrations that Baba most graciously permitted the Sathya Sai Organisation worldwide to hold the 24-hour Akhanda Bhajan on the same day at the same time globally. It was to commence at 6.30 pm on the second Saturday of November and end at 6.30 pm on Sunday.

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