Summer Course in Indian Culture and Spirituality, A Report – Day 1

The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning organised a Summer Course on the theme of Indian Culture and Spirituality from the 10th June to 12th June 2011 at Prasanthi Nilayam. Students and staff from all the Campuses of the Institute participated in this programme.

DAY 1 (10th June 2011):

The Programme started at 08:30 am with Invocatory Vedic Chanting and Universal Prayer by the students. This was followed by a Welcome Note by the Registrar of the University, Dr. Naren Ramji. Prof. J. Shashidhara Prasad, the Vice-Chancellor of the University gave the inaugural address.

After the welcome note and the inaugural address, the first speaker of the session was Sri. A.V. Gokak, the seventh Vice Chancellor of the Institute. The learned speaker presented a historical review of Indian culture and Spirituality and Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s role in it. In his erudite exposition on the salient features of Indian Culture and Spirituality, Shri Gokak stressed that it is the Culture and Spirituality of a nation that determines the character and conduct of each individual, ultimately defining the direction and pace of its progress.

Quoting extensively from renowned philosophers and thinkers like Shelley and Victor Hugo, Sri Gokak opined that man is not merely an evolved animal, but, as declared by Bhagawan, is potentially Divine, if only he can come out of Maya that deludes him from his own reality.

In the age of globalization what is important to us is that we should merge Spirituality of the East with the materialism of the West for the development of the world at large, yet not lose our national identity. At the same time we should also recognise the fact as Bhagawan says,
There is only one caste: the caste of humanity
There is only one religion, the religion of love,
There is only one language, the language of the heart,
There is only one God, He is omnipresent.

Sri Gokak concluded by saying that evolution cannot happen unless there is a revolution in the human Consciousness and this is where Bhagawan should be our Divine Flame igniting Spirituality in our daily life.

Sri S.V Giri, the sixth Vice Chancellor, Sri Sathya Sai institute of Higher Learning, was the next speaker. The learned speaker spoke on “the Philosophy and Concepts of ancient Gurukula system”. Sri Giri observed that Swami’s philosophy of Integral Education, on which is founded Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, can be understood only by combining the ancient Gurukula system with the modern system of education.

The speaker emphasized the fact that only when the mind is concentrated and pure, students can lead happy lives and attain their goals. To cultivate a focused mind, he emphasised on the role of discipline and also drew analogies from the scriptures, talking at length about Nachiketa and Satyakama. The erudite speaker went on to say how teachers should conduct themselves; and stressed their impact on the lives of students.

The speaker defined character from a practical standpoint and also highlighted the important dimensions of character, namely wisdom, heroic will, compassion and universal love, competence and untiring labour towards perfection.

In his concluding remarks Sri Giri recollected from his career as the Central Vigilance Commissioner that even a small compromise on one’s values would eventually lead to a catastrophe in one’s life. He believed that education of today should emulate the Gurukula system and always teach students to discriminate between right and wrong, making them able citizens to serve the society.

Thereafter a video, ‘Living with God is True Education’ was screened. The video, specially produced by the faculty and students of SSSIHL, with inputs from Radio Sai, showed Swami’s educational system closely cultivating the values already emphasized by Sri Giri in his talk on the ancient Gurukula system.

Sri B N Narasimhamurthy, Warden, Muddenahalli Campus of the Institute spoke on the theme ‘Ideal Masters and Disciples from Ancient India’. Sri Narasimhamurthy said that the SSSIHL is the dream University of all sages and saints of ancient India and the renaissance period as it provides an ideal blend of the physical and metaphysical.

He recollected Bhagavan’s emphasis on the dictum, ‘The Soul of Education is the Education of the Soul’.
Dwelling on the core of his topic he gave examples of many master-disciple duos from different periods of time, starting with Yajnavalkya and Janaka from the Upanishadic times, Krishna and Arjuna from the Itihasas, all the way to AdiShankaracharya and Padmapada of the Historic times.

He elucidated the ABCD of life as:
A – Awareness of God within as bliss and as beauty without
B – Balance of Mind
C – Control of Senses
D – Dedication to the welfare of mankind

Sri Sanjay Sahni, Director, Brindavan Campus spoke on the topic. ‘Educational Philosophy of Bhagavan Baba
Sri Sanjay Sahni stated that the educational philosophy at SSSIHL is rooted in the Indian culture and heritage. He classified his talk into 5 dicta highlighted by Bhagavan as the core values for human life. These include:
At the individual level: Satyam Vada; Dharmam Chara
At the family level: Matru Devo Bhavan; Pitru Devo Bhava
At the society level: Paropkaraya Punyaya; Paapaya Parapeedanam
At the national level: Janani Janmabhumischa Swargadapi Gareeyasi
At the universal level: Samasta Lokaha Sukhino Bhavantu
He laced each of these examples with very touching incidents from Bhagavan’s life which he was a personal witness to.

After a lunch break, the students broke into small teams of 20 and discussed on select Summer Course Discourses by Bhagawan and His other Discourses on Educare. There was one anchor discourse which was studied by all and six auxillary discourses of which one was read by smaller groups.

Students assembled in the Sai Kulwant Hall by 04:30pm. After Vedam Chanting, there was a summary presentation by students after which, there was a music programme by the students of Brindavan and Prasanthi Nilayam campuses of the University.

After Dinner, the three campuses met seperately and shared their experiences with Bhagawan with Love and Devotion.