Thanksgiving to Sri Sathya Sai – By Vijayaraghavan V.

Gaining admission to Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning was in itself a miracle. I completed my B.E. in Anna University, Chennai. Hoping to do MBA in Swami’s College, I submitted my applications. The MBA entrance exam and my final exam dates were clashing. I did not want to miss the entrance test and thereby lose the opportunity of getting admission into Swami’s College. At the same time, missing the final exam would mean wasting of a whole year.  I prayed to Swami to help me. In answer to my prayers, my final exam got postponed due to some local problems, and I could take the MBA entrance test. By Swami’s Grace and Kindness, I procured admission into this wonderful Institute.

As He used to say in His Shirdi Avatar, we are all like sparrows being pulled towards Him with strings, from all directions. We are His chosen ones, showered with this privilege of being in close proximity to Him and be blessed with many a Darshan, Sparshan and Sambhashan. Swami has taken care of every single need of mine while at College and continues to do so even now. With great humility and gratitude, I submit my Pranams, at the Lotus Feet of Swami.

All Encompassing Love: Swami loves His students and often says, “My Students are My only property”. The role that Swami plays, varies from moment to moment over a wide spectrum, but the constant and unwavering undercurrent is Prema. Swami is always concerned about our welfare, both worldly and spiritual.

While we were at Swami’s Institute – like a mother, He would be concerned whether we were eating enough and getting sufficiently nutritious food. At the same time, like a father, He would make sure that we were studying well. He is also our Guru, which makes Him concerned about our spiritual development; He is a mother, father, teacher, friend, philosopher, guide, and everything else that one can think of and much more. 

To encourage us, Swami appreciates our efforts, however small they may be and rewards us with His love. While I was studying in Swami’s Institute, my mother and sister compiled a booklet “A-Z with Baba” and they had a wish that I show it to Swami. Once, while waiting for Darshan, I was holding this booklet and when He came near me, I looked at Him with the booklet in my hand. Swami reached for the booklet, looked through a few pages and asked, “Who made this?” I duly acknowledged. He blessed me saying “Chaala Santhosham”. I cherish that moment even today.

Swami, through His discourses, and interviews, advises and guides us as to how we should conduct ourselves at work. With Swami’s Grace, we carry with us His teachings and His Blessings, to help us as we progress in our careers. 

I pray that I always appreciate, value, and treasure the priceless gift of Divine intimacy that I have received. Although Swami does not expect anything in return, I believe, we students owe it to Bhagawan to be the best examples of those who practice His teachings. As Swami says “Swami does not want anything else, all I want is that you earn a Good Name”. This is the best way of expressing gratitude to the Institute and to its Divine Chancellor – the Chancellor of the entire Cosmos.

My Work: After completing Masters in Business Management from Swami’s Institute, I started my career in a multinational software company. Swami’s teachings – “Truth, character and good conduct are most important to all students” and “Duty is God”, have been the guiding principles in my life. Living by Swami’s ideals clearly attracts positive feelings from one and all. With Swami’s Blessings, I have earned lot of respect and goodwill, both from my colleagues and my superiors.

Total Quality: With every passing day, I understand that Swami’s teachings are applicable in all areas of work. Swami says, ‘Management students from this Institute should have Quality ‘inside’. Quality should be chiefly inside and you should be ready to do any work. Only then can we strengthen our quality. You should not regard certain areas of work as mean, because you are an engineer or an MBA graduate. If you do so, you cannot improve quality’.

My role requires that, I work on end-to-end solutions – Gathering customers’ requirements, ensuring correct understanding by the team that is going to implement the solution, and most importantly testing the solution provided, to ensure that it adheres to the requirements and has no errors.

I was once working on an assignment in Bangalore. My job was to test a particular project that was being carried out for a foreign bank. As always in the IT world, the project was a race against time. I joined this project when it was mid-way through. The project was going through a very difficult time as it had lot of flaws, and hence was behind schedule. Instead of stopping with just testing and detecting errors, I willingly started sharing the workload of others also. I began interacting with the foreign clients to seek clarifications required and to understand their needs better. I introduced some innovative practices and put in place new processes which would help detect errors at different checkpoints during the life cycle of the project.  

Our company wanted us to deliver the project on time. They were ready to have minor defects within a certain tolerance limit. With complete conviction and faith, I explained to the management that, given a little more time we could complete the project without giving scope for any defect. Resident defects make customers unhappy and they may not favour the company for any future business. The management was convinced and reposed their faith in our team. We were under tremendous pressure. Working day and night, we pulled through the tough times. The project was delivered with ‘zero-defects’. The good quality of the project benefited both the customers and our company. At the get-together arranged to celebrate the event, my work got special mention. By Swami’s Grace, I got a lot of appreciation and recognition, both from my company and the customer. 

Time Management: Before joining Swami’s Institute as students, we used to prepare for the exams very late into the night, and even through the early hours of the day. The day, however, was wasted in unnecessary activities. This trend was and is common in most Hostels. But at the Institute we learned and realised that, “Time is God. So time should not be wasted. Time waste is life waste”. There is an appropriate time for each and every activity. It is more beneficial to study during the early hours of the morning than during the late hours of the night, as it enhances the grasping ability and memory power. This principle holds good for work too. All work has to be planned appropriately; time allotted correctly, and implemented accordingly. This is more so in the IT world, where time is of great significance. Working long and late hours is a common practice. Even research says that the quality of work done during the morning hours is always better than the quality of work done at other times. I try to extend my habits learnt from the Institute in effectively managing my time at work. I try not to waste office hours in unnecessary activities. Instead, I plan in such a way that the work gets completed during the day itself. Despite this, we may have work spilling over to late evenings, but that is mostly due to unavoidable circumstances or emergencies. My experience is that proper planning gives us a high comfort-level and half the problems automatically get solved. 

We often hear Swami saying “Start Early, Drive Slowly and Reach Safely”. 

Start Early – Go to office early. You will see that you will have the entire time for yourself without any disturbances. The mind is very alert and fresh, due to which we can do a lot of work and be ahead of schedule. This is the time of the day when we can solve challenging problems with better focus.
Drive Slowly – Having started the day early, we have a lot time ahead of us and we can work as planned. On the other hand, if we start the work late, we will have to rush to catch up with pending chores. 
Reach Safely – Start work early, work as per the plan and complete work on time. Projects that get completed on time, benefit both the clients and our organisation. Working along these lines also reduces the possibility of defects.

This is my personal experience at work and it helps me a lot in delivering my responsibilities.

Constant Care for Devotees: The following incident shows how Swami keeps a constant watch over His devotees, satisfying even their smallest needs and desires. I was pursuing my bachelors’ degree at the Anna University, Chennai. My parents gave me Rs.2000 for the semester fees, to be paid at the extension counter of State Bank of India, in the campus. During the first three days, I could not pay, owing to classes getting extended beyond bank timings. So I had to keep the money safe and carry it everyday. On the fourth day, my parents reminded me to pay the fees without fail, as there was the risk of carrying money by public transport. While I was waiting in the queue at the bank counter, hoping to complete my task, with just about 15 people before me, the counter closed for the day. I was very disappointed. I prayed to Swami. When the queue started dispersing, the cashier just opened the counter and announced, “Those who have to pay Rs.2000 or more in cash alone can stay and pay. Others can come tomorrow.” To my surprise, I was the only person eligible! I paid the fees and thanked Swami. I could surely perceive the handiwork of God in this.

Sat-Sangam across the Ocean: As I have already mentioned, Swami takes care of our spiritual development also. Currently I am in the United Kingdom on an assignment. I got introduced through one of Swami’s students, to a Gujarati family settled here for over three decades. The whole family is very devoted to Swami and conducts Samithi activities at their residence. They visit Puttaparthi for Swami’s Darshan every year. I join them for Bhajans on Thursdays. On hearing that I was a student of Swami’s college, I was asked to share my experiences with them. They showered their love on me as if I was one among them. I was even invited to participate in their family Pooja (worship). Far from home, Swami has shown me a home where I can be in touch with Him. I spent the Sivaratri night with this family, engaging in Bhajans and special Pooja. The love and respect I get there is due to Swami’s Grace only.

Swami Grace Continues across the seven oceans and mountains …

- Vijayaraghavan Venkataraman
Student (1996-1998), Department of Management Studies
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus
Currently, Global Lead, Banking Risk Management Practice
Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., Chennai

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