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Compassion more relevant than rituals

While religious festivities and rituals bring people together in prayer, compassion and mutual respect are far more important in the service of God, a preacher has said.

According to Dr Chandra Banu Satpathy, the foremost devotee of Shirdi Saibaba, simplicity, humility and love for people are among the essential qualities of human life and that participation in rituals alone will not appease God.

“Shirdi Saibaba believed in peace and harmony and held ‘Dharma’ as the core principle in life. While the approach to prayer and obeisance to God may differ between religions, all of them accept the supremacy of service and sacrifice for the betterment of the society,” he said, speaking to Indian Newslink during an interview.

He was in Auckland last month to participate in the opening of the $6 million Temple constructed by Shri Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan of New Zealand Inc in Onehunga (12 Princes Street) and conduct the ‘Prana Pratista’ of the main Deity at the Temple on February 9.

Universal fraternity

“Baba did not insist or even suggest that Temples should be built for Him. His teachings were directed towards universal fraternity of men and women, coming together for the progress and development of societies and liberation from such negative qualities as jealousy and hatred. He stood for the goodness in every human being,” Dr Satpathy said.

He said that Simplicity, Purity and Love formed the essence of the ‘Sai Movement,’ which is spreading fast throughout the world. The Movement is unique, as it brings together people of varied faiths and religions, he added.

Later, addressing a gathering at the ‘Sai Centre,’ a purpose-built community hall at the Temple Complex, Dr Satpathy said that devotees of Baba were under no compulsion to visit His Temple or conduct rituals.

Divinity personified

“The old Fakir was the epitome of divinity with no degree of sophistication. Baba cut down ‘non-essential aspects of religious rituals,’ and stood for human love, peace and harmony. Those following His simple teachings and conforming to good human qualities are true disciples,” he said.

However, Temples also serve several good purposes in the community, creating avenues and opportunities for service, Dr Satpathy said.

Born in Odisha (Orissa), Dr Satpathy served in the Indian Police Service and retired as Director General of Police in Uttar Pradesh. In 1989, he became a ‘full-time devotee’ of Saibaba and since then has been involved in the consecration of more than 300 Temples in India and other countries.

Some devotees prostrate before him and equate him with Shirdi Saibaba, but most others respectfully address him as ‘Guru Ji’ (Master).

Great challenge

Sansthan President Bhaskar Reddy Duvvuru said that the challenge now is to repay the bank loan (stated to be about $2.4 million).

“We are confident that with highly supportive devotees in and around New Zealand, we will be able to service our debt in a short period of time. Baba always longs for the love and affection of His devotees. We request people to visit the Temple, which has been created for your happiness,” he said.

Daily schedule

Chief Priest Suresh Sadha Sathavalli Sharma said that the Temple will be open from 7 am to 1 pm and from 5 pm to 9 pm from Monday to Friday and from 7 am to 9 pm on weekends and public holidays.

The daily schedule includes Kakad Aarati (7 am), Madhayan Aarati (12 pm),

Dhoop Aarati (6 pm) and Shej Aarati (830 pm), he said.

“I look forward to serving the devotees of Shirdi Saibaba. This is one of the finest places of worship in the world. I am privileged to serve Baba and His devotees. While I had offers from Temples in America, I am happy that I am in New Zealand. Baba brought me here,” Priest Sharma said.

Photo :

Dr Satpathy performing ‘Prana Pratista’ of Shirdi Saibaba on February 9

Chief Priest Suresh Sharma

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