Summer Course in Indian Culture and Spirituality, A Report – Day 3

DAY 3 (12th June 2011):

The proceedings of the third and final day of the summer course in Indian Culture and Spirituality began with Veda chanting from the Holy Scriptures by a group of staff and students of the Institute at 8.30 a.m. in the Poornachandra auditorium in Prasanthi Nilayam.

Dr. Naren Ramji, the fourth Registrar of the institute and an alumnus of the institute was the first speaker of the day who spoke on the topic, “Vision and Mission of SSSIHL”. The learned speaker quoted expansively from the defining discourses of Bhagawan that laid the Vision of the Institute as bestowing both worldly knowledge as well as knowledge of the Self. He said that if the educated have to fruitfully play their role in the upliftment and betterment of the society, then they should first become better human beings, as true transformation only comes through a personal example.

Expressing his views on the way Bhagawan Baba built the ethos of the Institute that today stands as the ideal to the whole world, he said that the Lord never overwhelmed the administrators with the complete idea of the masterpiece that He wanted to built, but held their hand to paint one stroke at a time. In the process, the Lord made it very clear that His medium of instruction is discipline, which is nothing but practice of doing the right thing at the right time in the right way. But this self-discipline cannot be forced from outside, but has to come from within to be rewarding in the way envisaged.

To substantiate how Bhagawan sometimes forced His students to develop an inner connection with Him, he narrated a personal experience wherein the Lord when He withdrew Himself from them to teach them the efficacy of prayer. He encouraged the students to introspect in a spirit of enquiry as to why a ritual or a discipline has been espoused by Bhagawan for His students, to make best use of the same and make it a stepping stone for reaching Him. In this journey, the learned speaker asserted, we should have Saburi, i.e. patience with the right attitude, which is life-changing. This transformation, he affirmed was true freedom, where our inner peace and happiness does not depend on any externality.

He concluded by saying that in the eyes of Bhagawan, there is a difference between a student of the Institute and His student and that we should all endeavour to become His students by putting into practice the teaching He so lovingly bestowed upon us.

The second speaker of the day, Ms. Rajeshwari Patel, HoD, Department of English, Anantapur campus of the Institute, spoke on the topic, “Blending Science & Spirituality at SSSIHL”. The eloquent speaker started on an emotional note, saying that as in the 20th Century the upheavals of the times brought out the best in poetry, we the devotees of Bhagawan should offer our best, in our respective capacities as an offering to our omnipresent Lord.

She reiterated that it was impossible to achieve happiness for humanity unless there was a concomitant increase in its wisdom, in harmony with its increase in knowledge. Referring to the moral and Spiritual challenges of the 20th Century, she held that unfortunately material progress has been conjoint with moral and Spiritual regression, resulting in net loss for humanity.

She called upon the scientific community to take in its ambit the exploration of the universe within man to understand himself more holistically. In this respect she called upon the education fraternity to take the Vedanta as the benchmark of such a standpoint, exploring not only the kshetra, the outer world which is like a field, but also the kshetragya, the tiller of that field – God Himself.

She congratulated the students of the hallowed institute to be in a system of education where values were diffused in the teaching of each subject, by the inspiration of Bhagawan Baba. She said that this is diagrammatically opposite to the strife between the Church and the scientific community in the 20th century, where the scientific community lacked a fundamental knowledge of the spiritual world and vice versa.

The erudite speaker, quoting extensively from the doyens of English literature alleged that if we have to bridge the two worlds into a wholesome one, we have to steadily progress from the realm of the food – the annamaya kosha to the realm of Bliss – the Anandamaya kosha at the core of our being. This she said was the nature of Atma, defined by Bhagawan as the most fundamental, most elemental core of our beings.

The next speaker for the day was Dr. T. Ravi Kumar, the newly appointed warden of the Brindavan campus of the Institute. In his eloquent speech on “Life sketch of Bhagawan – His role as an ideal Student and an ideal Master “, he shared from some of his beautiful moments spent with Bhagawan at Ooty. He reiterated to the student community that one must practice before teaching others, as was exemplified by Bhagawan in His life.

He then recollected the incident where Bhagawan materialized a medallion with 100 Sanskrit shlokas embossed on it, depicting the future 18 centres, where His students would be the guiding forces. He said that the life of Swami has always been an open book and recalled how next year Swami had shared very personal experiences of His life with His students.

He called upon the student community to never miss any opportunity to serve the Lord and His institutions to find fulfilment in their lives.

The talk was followed by a an excellent video film titled, “Living with God is True education” on the Kodaikanal visits of Bhagawan Baba with an entourage of selected students was produced by the Radio Sai team of the Digital Studio. It brought together some of the finest moments spent by Bhagawan with His students in the picturesque hill station. The presentation contained an interview of a student in whose presence the Lord had revealed that it was not the merit of past lives that had given them the qualification of being in His presence, but it was only a manifestation of His Divine grace that had made it possible.

The presentation also showed some moments from the earlier summer course programmes which were organised in the presence of Bhagawan, first in Brindavan and thereafter in Ooty. It showed students going into the town for a cleaning drive, much to the surprise of others. It depicted very clearly as how service to others has become the second nature of students and how well they continue to serve the society even after passing out of the institute. This was reaffirmed through interviews of some of the employers of the students who heaped praises on the performance of the students due to their positive attitude, desire to learn and a sense of purpose in life.

The last speaker of the day was an alumnus of the Anantapur campus of the institute, Mrs. Nirmala Shekhar, who spoke on the topic “An Ideal Sai Student and her/his Role in Society”. She asked the students as to what was the first step in doing anything? A student replied that it was self confidence. Quoting Swami, she said that Bhagawan had said that it was ‘wanting to do something’. She felt that the essence of the summer course was awakening of the awareness of Lord’s presence in our life. She called upon everyone to watch coincidences as the handicraft of God – moments when God chose to be anonymous. She ended her interesting talk with an experience of how once Swami saved her life.

Towards the end, some of the veterans, outgoing officials were felicitated by the new incumbents. This includes Prof. Jayalakshmi Gopinath, formerly Principal of Anantapur Campus, Prof. Ramamoorthy, formerly head of SBMAF – Prasanthi Nilayam, Sri BN Narasimhamurthy, outgoing Warden of Brindavan Campus, Prof. US Rao, outgoing Principal of Prasanthi Nilayam Campus and Dr. Siva Shankar Sai, outgoing Warden of Prasanthi Nilayam Campus.

Fifth and final volume of “My Dear Students” has been released by the former Controller of Examinations, Prof. Nanjundaiah on the auspicious occasion. These volumes contain compilations of Divine Discourses by Bhagawan delivered over the past three decades, specially meant for student folk.

The programme ended with a presentation by some students on the lessons learnt. In the end, Arathi was offered to Bhagawan and Prasadam distributed.