It is impossible to pen the life of Bhagavan. Its subtleties are beyond our ken. He often exhorts us, ‘Don’t try to analyse Me, experience Me instead; dive deep into My life, and therein you will find pearls of supreme wisdom which you can use in your daily life.’
This was one endeavour which was a regular feature at the Sri Sathya Sai Hostel, Prasanthi Nilayam – writing our experiences with Bhagavan and sharing through them the lessons for life that we have learnt. Through these writings by the students and staff, emerged facets of His personality, which have struck us the most, and transformed our lives forever – His love, grace, grandeur, charisma, message and mission.
The ‘Sai Chandana’ magazine started in 1984. Named by Bhagavan Himself, it is an in-house Hostel Magazine offered by the Hostel students and staff to Him, every quarter. It typically consists of the experiences of students and staff (in English, Hindi, Telugu and Sanskrit), in the form of articles and poems, and even colourful sketches of Bhagavan and other deities of the Sanatana Dharma. The best of these articles were selected and published in a book form every five years titled ‘Sai Nandana’.
Till date, five such volumes have been published by the Hostel (1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010) and offered to Bhagavan on the occasion of His ‘five-yearly’ Birthday celebrations, as an offering of love and gratitude for all that He has done for us, for sharing with Him and expressing to Him all that He means to us. In Hindi it is said, ‘Tera Tujhko Arpan’. He gave us, and we offered it back to Him. And He accepted it too! For example when the 70th Birthday issue was taken to Bhagavan for Blessings by Dr. Siva Sankara Sai (then Warden) and Sri Ram Mohan Rao, Founding Editor of Sai Chandana, He blessed them to have tiffin (snacks) with Him in the Poornachandra residence and spent over an hour going through each and every article, recollecting the student author, his class and his association with Him. Thus, each of the articles of all the issues was sanctified by Him, year after year – the Naivedyam had been accepted, it was now Prasadam for all to partake…
Each of these issues was a limited copy edition. By and large, the students whose articles were published in the issue would receive a gift copy from the Hostel as a prize for their writing skills. The devotees, who would throng to Prasanthi Nilayam on the occasion, would be lucky enough to get a copy for themselves from the Mandir book shop, for students’ experiences with Swami are something that everyone wants to read. Luckily, a copy was given to the libraries of each of the Hostels and even to the Central Library of the Institute at the Prasanthi Nilayam Campus.
Those who joined the Institute in recent years, were unaware of these early issues. Recently, we happened to come across some of these old copies in the Central Library at the Prasanthi Nilayam Campus of the Institute. When we opened the issues, we found articles by many illustrious alumni names, who are today in prominent positions in eminent organisations across the globe. When they were students, they had shared their experiences with Bhagavan in the Sai Nandana issues. And in all the articles, we found that the same Love Story between the Lord and His Children continuing year after year, batch after batch, decade after decade – the silent story of inner transformation of students through His Darshan, Sparshan, Sambhashan, Anugraham and Aashirwadam.
We, at Sai Publications, thought that it was the right time to bring forth all these issues into the public domain, and once again, make it available for all the alumni, students and staff of Bhagavan’s Institutions, and to the large Sai family of devotees across the continents, to read and reminisce the golden days which the students spent with Swami during their stay in this hallowed Institution. Undoubtedly, this would be the Bhagavatam of our times, where each Gopala had the opportunity of sharing his own story with their Krishna. A single Vyasa would not be burdened with the Himalayan task of compiling all of them together in one book!
Since e-books are the most preferred format in contemporary times, we bring these Sai Nandana books in various e-formats, which are compatible with different software provided by Apple, Google, Kindle and Adobe. This would give the readers an opportunity to read an experience a day, while they are travelling to office or returning therefrom, waiting for a meal or winding up after a long day’s work, and help them get soaked in the joy of those moments of a bygone and glorious era! The issues have also been made colourful by including photos of Bhagavan relevant to the experience shared in each article.
Through this endeavour we bring before the readers all the issues of Sai Nandana, compiled between 1985 and 2010, and consisting of over 450 experiences of students and staff over the last quarter century – indeed, a treasure house of Divine Grace and proximity between the Divine Chancellor and His students…