The Business School at Sri Sathya Sai University – Part 6


THE SOCIAL DIMENSION

Residential Hostel Inputs for Personality Development

Sri Sathya Sai Hostel - Prasanthi Nilayam
The Gurukulas of ancient India realised the importance of character building and hence designed the entire educational system around this crucial aspect. The Sri Sathya Sai System of Integral Education mirrors largely, this time-tested Gurukula system of education. Residential hostel forms a critical cog in this wheel of education. Presented below are some of the essential features of the hostel. The stay in the hostel takes care of the ‘hands’ (the performance and the work orientation of the students in the hostel, which aims at shaping their personality) of the students, which transforms work into worship. The students get an opportunity to live a disciplined life in the hostel. The philosophy of education of the Institute is based on the appreciation of the need to provide full scope for the development of the body, mind and heart. Discipline, duty and adherence to basic human values are deeply appreciated as the special traits of students of the Institute by all the concerned stakeholders. Every student practices these in various aspects of hostel life.

It is precisely on account of the contribution of these activities to the overall development of personality, that the Institute attaches great significance to integral items of education like – Yogasanas (physical postures of Yoga), games and sports, participation in morning prayers and morning assembly talks, and social work / self-reliance programmes. These are graded independently, and figure separately on the students’ grade cards. The following are the elements of the residential hostel life. These institutionalise Gandhiji’s concept of ‘Simple Living and High Thinking’.

Dormitory Style of Living

In accordance with the fundamentals of integral education, all the Sri Sathya Sai Educational Institutions have dormitory style of accommodation,. In each dormitory of the size of 15 feet x 30 feet, about 15 students with a diverse-mix (age groups, cultures, geographical regions, languages, faiths, economic status, etc.) reside. All the students, irrespective of their financial status and class have to share the same facilities and amenities. At this juncture, the purpose and benefits of such a style of living deserve some elaboration. The hostel and the dormitory style of living represent a miniscule model of the world outside, with people of different habits, temperaments, living style, language and outlook residing together and working. Living in dormitories helps the students to adjust not only with respect to the limited resources, but also with the different mind-sets of diverse group members. They would have to cultivate flexibility and adjust with the others. Dormitory style of living helps the students to cultivate a frame of mind with noble and civilized qualities like adaptability, tolerance and sacrifice so as to be able to practice these later, as important and responsible citizens of society.

Baba always says, “Jaisa Ann, Vaisa Mann” – As is the food, so is the mind. In accordance with this guideline, the students eat vegetarian-nutritious food, prepared by service-oriented people in the hostels. Food that people consume has significant influence on their mind and it is the firm conviction of the education system of the Institute that this wholesome food leads to a balanced personality development in the students. Designated students assist the cooks in the kitchen. They also serve the food in the dining hall during the breakfast, lunch and dinner sessions. Students take their plates and stand in a queue for receiving their meals. When the food is served in their plates, they go and sit on the mats spread on the floor in rows, and after group-prayer partake their food. Maintenance of silence and peaceful ambience is highly encouraged during all meal sessions.

Typical Daily Life at Hostel

The day for the students in the hostel starts at 5 a.m. (during Brahma Muhurta that is believed to be very conducive for intra-personal development activities according to ancient Indian wisdom) with a call given by a bell followed by devotional music played through the public address system. The students get-up from bed and after ablutions assemble in the prayer hall at 5:25 a.m. and up to 5:45 a.m. there is prayer and meditation. 
Morning Prayer Session at the Hostel
Thereafter they go for Yoga/physical exercises from 6 to 7 a.m. 
Morning exercise session at the Sri Sathya Sai Hill view Stadium - Prasanthi Nilayam

Students playing table tennis and badminton at the Sri Sathya Sai International Center for Sports at Prasanthi Nilayam

Students playing volleyball and basketball at the Sri Sathya Sai International Center for Sports at Prasanthi Nilayam
They then take their bath, have breakfast and leave for the academic sessions in the Institute campus at 8:45 a.m. 
Students leaving for the College session
They come back for lunch at 12 noon and return to the Institute at 1 p.m. to attend the class work in the afternoon session. 
Dining Sessions at the Hostel - Prasanthi Nilayam
Students serving food during the dining sessions - Anantapur Campus Hostel
They return to hostel after 3:30 p.m. and after light refreshments, go to the Ashram for participation in Vedam Chanting and Bhajans from 4.30 to 6 p.m. [i] The dinner time is from 7 to 8 p.m. The students have designated study-hours time between 8 and 10 p.m. They retire for the day after chanting the night prayer, which is played through the public address system and followed by all the students in the hostel in their respective rooms. 

Self-Reliance Schedule

The hostel is run with limited full-time support staff. It is the responsibility of the students (and the resident hostel teachers) to look after the hostel maintenance. Many of the tasks in the hostel such as maintenance of the electrical lines and appliances, plumbing, communication facilities, computers, photocopying, library, publications and multimedia, fruit stall, general stores, health-care dispensary, sick ward, bakery, automobile maintenance, etc. are managed by the students under the overall supervision of the resident hostel teachers. 
Anantapur Campus Students practicing for a campus dance programme

Prasanthi Nilayam Campus students practicing for the Panchavadyam

Anantapur Campus students completing a painting as part of the fine arts activities on campus


Prasanthi Nilayam Campus students managing the Hostel General Stores as part of the Self-Reliance activities

Prasanthi Nilayam campus students and research scholars participating in a temple activity on the Hostel premises as part of the self-reliance programme
The faculty, doctoral research scholars, support staff and the students look after the upkeep and maintenance of laboratories, machinery, plant and equipment to avoid any breakdowns resulting in minimisation of the maintenance expenditure. As an outcome, they learn to become independent and manage things in a self-reliant manner, which contributes to the development of leadership and entrepreneurial skills. Succession planning for each of the self-reliance activities in the Institute Campus and hostel is taken care of in an appropriate manner; wherein for instance a senior student Bhajan leader, and likewise the student-in-charge of maintenance, fruit-stall, general stores, dispensary, etc. mentors a successor to step into his/her shoes by the time he/she leaves the campus so as to ensure continuity in the process. This is modelled on the lines of the ancient Indian Gurukula tradition.
Typical Daily Schedule of Students at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning


Note:

[i] While this schedule is typical of the Prasanthi Nilayam Campus, students of the other campuses also have their evening prayer and congregational chanting sessions in the prayer hall of their respective campus hostels for about an hour.



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