Monday, February 15, 2016

sssbpt.info: Free and searchable Sathya Sai discourses and writings; Prof. David Gries' major contribution to it

Last updated on 16th June 2016

sssbpt.info is a website that is a joint venture of the Sathya Sai International Organization and the Sri Sathya Sai Sadhana Trust, Publications Division. This website provides free access to html/pdf format documents of the following:

*) Sathya Sai Speaks, http://www.sssbpt.info/english/sss.htm: Has discourses of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, translated to English, from the period 1953 to 2010.

*) Summer Showers, http://www.sssbpt.info/english/showers.html: Has discourses that Bhagavan gave at summer schools over the years which are in a separate book series, called "Summer Showers", translated to English.

*) Vahinis, http://www.sssbpt.info/english/vahinis.html: Bhagavan wrote 16 books, called the "Vahinis" (Vahini means stream). They cover a wide range of topics, from the Bhagavad Gita to meditation to education, and English translation versions of these are available at the afore mentioned link. There is also to a glossary of Sanskrit words, places, and people mentioned in the Vahinis. Vahinis come in ebook form, for both kindle and ipad. Also, these are the best editions for non-Sanskritists.

SEARCH ENGINE

In this Internet age, this website provides a VITAL facility to readers, writers and researchers on Sathya Sai discourses & writings through a search engine, accessible at http://www.sssbpt.info/english/index.html.

For example, one can type the following words in the Search box at the above mentioned link:
Love AND Detachment
to get discourses & writings of Bhagavan having both the words Love and Detachment. The results are presented in a separate window as a list of results with links to pdf/html version of the discourses/writings of Bhagavan that contain those words.

More details about the search facility are provided here: http://www.sssbpt.info/english/help.html.

Alternatively, one can use Google search engine with a special directive to limit the search to sssbpt.info website. The same search mentioned above can be done with Google Search by having the following search phrase:
Love And Detachment site:sssbpt.info
I have used both the sssbpt.info search engine as well as Google search with the site:sssbpt.info directive, in my research kind-of efforts related to Sathya Sai teachings/directives on various matters. One feature of Google Search is that it provides a matching/suitable extract from the result documents in its search list itself. I have found this feature to be convenient at times in distinguishing between result documents that I should open and read, and those that I can skip opening and reading (thus saving some time).

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A BIG THANK YOU to Prof. David Gries for his MAJOR CONTRIBUTION towards sssbpt.info

Prof. David Gries, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Gries, is a famous Computer Science academic at Cornell university, USA (more about that later), and a long-time Sathya Sai devotee. I have been informed that Prof. Gries has been the major contributor (main person) in building sssbpt.info which he did over the course of 17 years (as a part-time activity I presume; and which, I am quite sure, was offered as a Free service (Seva) offering to the Lord). Prof. Gries' wife as well as the Late Shri Subbarao (who Swami would interact with frequently, I am told) also made contributions to some parts of sssbpt.info. Prof. Gries has also been the major contributor (main person) in setting up and running saicast.org which has many Sathya Sai videos.



Above pic is of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba with Prof. David Gries (who is showing something perhaps related to a musical program offering by USA pilgrimage group to Bhagavan in Sai Kulwant Hall, Prasanthi Nilayam), and is reported to have been taken on 29th June 2010 (see http://www.saibabaofindia.com/index_2.html). Pic courtesy - Sai Baba of India, http://www.saibabaofindia.com/.

I have given below an extract from my part of a mail exchange (slightly edited) with Prof. Gries in Oct. 2015, where I thanked him for his contribution:

Sir, let me take this opportunity to thank you immensely for the wonderful work you have done in making Swami's discourses and writings available online. As I have become a blogger/social media writer on Sathya Sai matters I find it to be an INVALUABLE resource in getting direct quotes/references to what Swami publicly said or wrote. It not only helps me to better understand the topics that I write on, and better communicate the matter in the articles/posts that I write which include such references, but also provides the vital authenticity for the quotes/references as it can be easily confirmed via the sssbpt.info or other such (official) Sai orgn. website link that I provide.

In decades and generations to come, I think sssbpt.info and other such official Sai orgn. websites will play a vital role for devotees including those who become devotees in future, to easily read and confirm quotes/views of Sathya Sai.

Please convey my gratitude to others in the sssbpt.info team for this FANTASTIC service to Bhagavan and His mission of re-inforcing Sathya, Dharma, Shanti & Prema in the world.
--- end extract from my part of mail exchange with Prof. Gries in Oct. 2015---

Prof. David Gries has been an inspiration to me, in the way he has gone about his "loving service" of Bhagavan over the years. The objective of my sharing Prof. Gries' major role in sssbpt.info is that, I am quite sure, it will serve as an inspiration to others about how somebody can be fully involved in family life and an academic career (an exceptional academic career at that), and still make time for vital contributions to Sathya Sai movement.

Prof. Gries is a Fellow of the ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) which is a very prestigious recognition by the computing community of a person's contribution to the field of computing (software). According to the wikipedia page he is the only recipient of four major educator awards in computer science (the American Federation of Information Processing Societies' Education Award (1986), the ACM SIGCSE Award for Outstanding Contributions to Computer Science Education (1991), the Institute for Electrical Engineers Computer Society Taylor L. Booth Education Award (1994) & the ACM Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award (1995)).

He is the author, co-author, or editor of seven textbooks and 75 research papers.

According to wiki page again, his son Paul Gries has been a co-author of an introductory textbook to computer programming using Python and is a senior lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto.

I find Prof. Gries' major work in sssbpt.info, done over 17 years, part-time, in addition to handling his duties as a leading computer science academic in the world, as well as his family responsibilities, to be a great example of a person achieving a balance in contributions to Sai orgn. work and managing work & family commitments.

Prof. Gries has also played an important role (designation of Visiting Faculty, I believe), in his regular visits to the Department of Mathematics & Computer Science (DMACS), Prasanthi Nilayam campus, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (Sai university). During my stint in that dept. (designations of Honorary Staff/Honorary Faculty/Visiting Faculty) from Jan. 2003 to March 2012, I did have the pleasure of some interactions with Prof. Gries, though not much on the professional/work front, and I am pleased to inform readers that faculty as well as students in the DMACS dept. loved and revered him.

I say a BIG THANK YOU to Prof. David Gries for all his wonderful contributions to Sathya Sai movement, and pray to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba to continue to shower His Grace on Prof. David Gries and his family.

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Prof. David Gries responded to my blog post contents above (sent over email to him) as follows (he was OK with his response being shared; the response is slightly edited):

I kind of blushed, reading all you said about me. A little embarrassing to read it because I don’t believe I was doing anything special, just my job.

I like the saying “bloom where you are planted”. Each of us has been planted in this life with certain skills. If we just concentrate on what we can do and don’t worry about and be jealous of what the other blooms are doing, we will be happy.

Bloom where you are planted.

At the same time, I told the USA Council the other week at a meeting, all blooms fade away at some point. We need to have the wisdom to be aware of when our bloom is fading and step out of the way for others. That’s why, 2 years ago, I asked (senior International Sai orgn. office-bearer) to set up an IT committee and take over sathyasai.org.

My old ideas were getting in the way of progress. That’s why it has a new design.

--- end Prof. David Gries' response ---
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Update on 17th Feb. 2016

This 8 page document provides a history of sathyasai.org, http://www.sathyasai.org/history/Proposal.pdf, which, I guess, includes the work of putting up free and searchable discourses and writings of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba on sssbpt.info.

A small extract from it:

After discussing the start of a website for the International Sai Organization with Michael Goldstein and others, in an interview in June 1995, David Gries presented a proposal for it to Swami. Swami said, “Do it, do it.”

The website was then designed and implemented, first becoming available in early 1996. It was hosted where it still is hosted today, 23 November 2010, Swami’s 85th Birthday, on the servers of the company Sai Systems in Shelton, Connecticut, USA, owned by longtime devotee Ramesh Wadhwani, at this address:

www.sathyasai.org

The proposal presented to Swami appears in this document, beginning on the next page.
--- end short extract from sathyasai.org ---

Prof. Gries provided an update on the above on 17th Feb. 2016 over email, as follows:
The new design of sathyasai.org is now hosted by some other company, somewhere in Los Angeles. A very capable and dedicated team of people on the Sathya Sai International Organization’s IT Committee, chaired by Venkat Sadanand, has developed the new design.
--- end Prof. Gries update ----

I came across a short video here, https://vimeo.com/77554713, 9 min. 28 secs, dated Oct. 2013, of Dr. Venkat Sadanand, Chairman IT Committee of Sathya Sai International Organisation, where he talks about SSIO, IT work. In the video he has a presentation slide which has great words from Swami on Seva, which I have given below (see video at 1:53):

[I used Google search to locate the discourse from where this quotation has been taken by using the following search words:

site:sssbpt.info "Seva brings out all that is great in man"

which gave me two results, with the first result being the pdf of a discourse having these words. What I have given below is from Swami's discourse pdf file (1st result link in Google search). There is a slight/minor difference in the words in the presentation slide.]
"Seva brings out all that is great in man. It broadens the heart and widens one's vision. It fills one with joy. It promotes unity. It proclaims the truth of the Spirit. It drives out all the evil qualities in a man. It must be regarded as a great spiritual discipline. You are born to serve, not to dominate. Everyone in the world is a servant and not a master. All relationships--husband and wife, mother and child, the employer and employee are based on mutual service. The world is progressing because of such mutual service. If the principle of service did not operate, the world would come to a halt." - Sathya Sai Baba, Discourse to the Fifth World Conference of Sathya Sai Seva Organizations on 20-11-1990 at the Hill View Stadium, http://www.sssbpt.info/ssspeaks/volume23/sss23-31.pdf.
The video also has a slide (watch at 4:28 in the video) which states that the purpose of this IT committee (of Sathya Sai International Organization) is to:

* Build a platform for the Sathya Sai International Organisation to disseminate Bhagavan's life, message and work.

* Provide access to a single authentic reference source for all of Bhagavan's teachings and works in multimedia format

* Provide a central reference source for organisational structure, function and guidelines
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[I thank sssbpt.info, sathyasai.org and saibabaofindia.com. and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above short extracts/picture from their websites on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

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