Sri Sathya Sai Expounds on Values Orientation in Higher Education

Saturday, August 29, 1981 to Monday, August 31, 1981

Sri Sathya Sai in the Brindavan Campus Auditorium
A three day Seminar on ‘Values Orientation to Higher Education’ was held under the auspices of the ‘Kingdom of Sathya Sai’ at the Brindavan Campus between 29th and 31st August 1981. About 100 teachers from various colleges in Bangalore and the staff members of Sri Sathya Sai Educational Institutions participated in this seminar.

Sri Nityananda Menon, President of the ‘Kingdom of Sathya Sai’, gave the welcome speech. Sri Govind Narain, Governor of Karnataka, inaugurated the seminar. Many eminent educationists and administrators addressed the seminar. Sri Maharaj Krishna Rasagotra, Indian Ambassador to France; Prof. Bashiruddin of the Osmania University; Dr. S. Bhagavantam; Dr. V.S. Jha, former Vice Chancellor of Benares Hindu University; Sri S.B. Chavan, Minister for Planning, Government of India; Mr. Victor Kanu of Africa; Dr. S. N. Saraf, Educational Advisor to the Planning Commission; Dr. M. L. Mehta, Deputy Secretary, University Grants Commission; Sri I. C. Menon, Deputy Secretary of the University Grants Commission; Prof. V.K. Gokak; and D. Narendar, Principal of the Brindavan Campus were amongst them. Bhagavan gave valuable guidelines for the seminar in His inspiring Discourses on all the three days. 

During the Inaugural Discourse, Swami said: 

“Every country, wherever it may be and whatever its stage of progress, must have three requisites' material resources, protective power and a proper educational system (producers, security personnel and teachers). The peace and prosperity of the world depend on the work of these three classes of people. They form the legs of a tripod. Even if one leg is weak, the other two cannot sustain. When production is plentiful, it has to be guarded against loot and plunder. When soldiers and security men become powerful, they turn into a menace to the country while production declines. When production and protection are adequate, if the educational system takes a wrong track, the country is weakened. The development of material resources and the defense of the country ultimately depend on the kind of education that is imparted. 
But a tripod is not only 'three legs'! How can one sit on three legs? There should be a plank, resting on them--the plank of LOVE, that is to say, Love of the Country. ‘Country’ does not mean a specific area on the map, the soil. It means the human community inhabiting the territory. And 'Love' means the sense of inter-relationship and involvement of the individual with that community. This degree of love is absent now in many highly educated, highly placed persons. As a result, the process of education too is suffering from misuse, and crores of rupees, set aside for it, go to waste. And since education affects the other two sections too, even the money spent on the producers and protectors does not yield full fruit.

Education has to open the doors of the mind 

Education is being confused with the acquisition of verbal scholarship. This is wrong. Education has to open the doors of the mind. Many describe science today as a powerful acquisition, but, science holds before mankind a great opportunity, that is all. It cannot be as great a power as it is imagined to be. If it is devoid of character, it brings disaster. It can then cause evil and wickedness. Intelligence can be found to be very high among clever thieves. So, too, scientific knowledge can be misused for destructive purposes. 
To enter Heaven, man must transform himself into an innocent infant. This is the Truth. To enter the heaven of science, man has to mould himself into a humble, unselfish seeker. This is as true as the former statement. Mankind is caught in the mire of egotism, self-seeking and envy and, as a consequence, it is wandering in the realm of demon kind. Education is not merely the gathering of scientific knowledge; it should endow man with heroism in action. It should instruct man to decide on what has to be done and how. It must make man recognise the kinship that exists between himself and others. On the other hand, scholarship or punditry pores over many tomes and texts and devises many wonders, witticisms and feats. This is just a fanciful rut into which the intellect falls. True beauty lies in true education. Vidya is the hidden treasure. It guards us even while we are in foreign countries, like an intimate kinsman, standing by us, behind, beside, before.

Youth must be full of yearning to know 

The system of education prevalent in India is antagonistic to the progress of the people. It appears to be a system which teaches students to live without dirtying their hands with the soil. The process ignores the human traits of man. It is not right to do so. Education must aim at enlarging the heart and awakening the latent intelligence and skills of man, and inspiring him to calmly welcome physical labour and exhausting work. How can education shine in man if he does not attain these fruits? Gandhi once said, “Knowledge without character is a powerful evil”. Today, there is knowledge but character is seldom seen with it. Practice promotes Vidya. Experience is the Guru. But he is not visible at all. Teaching ends with the school, but learning ends only when life ends. Vidya does not mean mere attendance at school or college, mere study of some books, or mere mastery of a few subjects. 

Living, not for the sake of food but for the sake of an ideal, that is the goal of education. The human personality must blossom into enthusiasm for work, into eagerness to raise society to the highest level. Without character, man becomes the plaything of every passing whim, a kite whose string has broken, or a counterfeit coin, without benefitting any one. In order to manifest genuine human excellence and instruct others to do the same, spiritual Sadhana alone can equip one with necessary qualifications and authority. Education is now solely materialistic. The Governor quoted in his speech the axiom, ‘Saa Vidya Yaa Vimukthaye’. (That is, Vidya which liberates). Vidya is that process which makes us aware of the bondage we are in, the suffering we live through and the darkness within. The Upanishad exhorts us: Utthishtatha, Jaagrata, Praapya Varaan Nibodhitha (Arise, Awake, Approach the wise and learn).

Teachers decide the future of a country 

Education has become mechanical today. The spirit of inquiry is absent. That alone can enable one to discover Truth. For this, youth must be full of yearning to know, and to shine through that knowledge. Success begets success. Success will encourage and ensure success at a higher level. Students must learn more about persons who have achieved success despite obstacles of every kind. Their examples have to be of the heroic mould. Even failure is commendable, if it befalls one while pursuing a high ideal. "Better far to fail in bagging a tiger than succeed in killing a lame jackal," says a Telugu proverb. Aim high and strive for grand victories. 
When one’s interest is rooted in some field of knowledge, attention on it becomes firm and memory will enshrine it in the mind. Students now remember the trivial details of the lives of film stars, since they are victims of a barren fascination. Steady interest is essential in order to master worthy knowledge. 
Education is now oriented more for earning a living than leading a worthy life. As soon as they secure degrees, they succumb to the lure of money and run off to Iran or Iraq. Education must be oriented towards the attainment of character for leading clean simple lives. Rivers are dammed and the waters are stored in reservoirs. Of what earthly use are these if the waters are kept therein? Through canals, they have to be taken to the fields to feed the crops in order to appease the hunger of millions. So too, we store the knowledge available in libraries in our heads as reservoirs, but, is that enough? Can this be the end of education? It has to be utilized through canals of service in order to fertilize and feed the minds of one's fellowmen and make them more intelligent, more skilled and more loving. The nation will thus become more prosperous and happy.”

On the Second Day Swami exhorted: 

“Teachers have to discriminate thus and develop a firm faith in the Atma. As the seed, so the crop. Unless they are able to implant this seed of knowledge, value orientation cannot happen. ‘Who am I?’ is the question, the answer to which must be known and experienced. The Sanskrit word for I is ‘Aham’, this is formed by putting together the first letter ‘A’ and the last letter ‘Ha’. It shows that all thoughts and expressions centre around the I; nothing is outside it. 
The ‘I’ is the centre of all duties and obligations. Teachers and others complain that they are not given the respect that is due to them; if they fulfill their duties, they will certainly get their due. Both teachers and students must be intent on discharging their duties. They must be ever vigilant against bad habits and vices gaining a foothold in their minds, for, like a brood of white ants, they will eat into the vitals until man crumbles. 
Teachers and students must develop constructive companionship. The teacher must share the sorrows and joys of the pupils as keenly as if they were his own. He must identify himself with them as milk does with water. When the water with which milk has been associated goes off as vapour when boiled, the milk is so saddened that it rises over the edge of the vessel and tries to fall into the fire. Seeing its plight, you add a little water and the milk is quietened and pacified when the companion rejoins it.
Man has in him the Sun of Jnana but he ignores it and behaves as if he has to live in a dark dungeon. This is what is called Maya or ‘the great illusion. So, the teacher who is entrusted with the task of carrying illumination into tender minds has to become aware of the light within so that he may inspire the pupils under his care.”

In the Valedictory Discourse, Swami emphasized: 

“Three qualities distinguish man from other animals. They are sympathy, compassion and renunciation. Today a famine has dried up these feelings in the human heart. This tragic condition is generating agitation and disturbance among both students and teachers. Strikes have become normal routine events. The conviction that money can achieve anything has grown in men's mind, though it is impossible to promote peace and security through the accumulation of money. Money can buy plenty of food; it cannot buy appetite or hunger. Money can buy medical care and medicines; but it cannot buy health and immunity. Money can buy servants; it cannot buy goodwill. It can buy comfort, but not happiness. It cannot help to promote character or morality. This truth must be understood by both students and teachers. For, teachers mould the nation and students build the nation, sound and strong. Only a few students are intent on taking the nation along the royal road and only a few teachers are holding high ideals of love and service before the people. 
Teachers have to be life-long students, engaged not in mere study, but immersed in practice too. Only a lamp that burns can light other lamps. How can a flame that has long been off light other wicks? Many teachers have now become dispirited and the flame of their enthusiasm is spluttering. This is the result mostly of the multiplication of desires. The great mission of the teacher and its obligations are often ignored.
Pride must be eradicated to realise Divinity 

Human values can be listed as 50, 60, 70, 80 in all. But they can be better grouped under the following three heads: pure thoughts, pure words, pure deeds; thoughts, words and deeds coordinated with one another. When you read only dirt, your ‘Chit’ (awareness) is contaminated and your ‘Sat’ (Being) is disfigured. So, how can ‘Satyam’ (Truth) be revealed to you? Nowadays people appear too cowardly even to pronounce the words God or Atma. They shout loud and long on irrelevant and indecent topics. It is difficult to understand why they are so afraid to pronounce the word God! They feel free to utter falsehood but draw back from truth. 
If Divinity is absent, everything is devilry. So, teachers and students must have faith in God and boldly call on God and pray. That will drive away the devilry that encompasses us. Of course, hesitation to address God is only superficial. During examinations, every student prays to the Almighty. When calamities happen, loss is sustained, members of the family are struck by disease and are in mortal danger, people do pray to God. Why, then, yield to false pride and refuse to acknowledge God. This is sheer hypocrisy. 
Another characteristic of the educated, the intelligentsia, is their pride. They move around wearing the crown of the conceit. Pride is the wall that hides the Atma from the Anatma, the curtain between them, between Truth and Untruth. This obstacle has to be removed in order that Unity might be realised and Divinity manifested. Many students develop this pest called pride, for, they have physical charm, educational attainments and monetary resources, but they must be vigilant enough to eradicate it soon.

Qualities that provide charm to life 

Once upon time, Socrates was asked by a pupil, “Master! God has allotted a hundred years for man. But, he seldom lives so long. 25 of them are spent in childhood, boyhood and youth playing silly games, 25 more in family and social entanglements and another 25 in allotting and apportioning properties among children. If he survives 75, he is ridden by disease or grief at the loss of son or daughter. He has no free time to think of God. It would be good if God grants 25 years more for him to dwell wholly in Him.” Socrates responded with another equally sad statement. “Son! God has given us this vast house called Earth. But, three quarters of it is sea; the other quarter is mostly mountain, desert, lake and forest. I have no place to live,” he wept. The pupil consoled him: “Why? When billions can live on earth you surely can secure a place.” Socrates said, “When so many billion thoughts are framed in your mind, my son, you can certainly find room easily for thoughts on God." Only idlers complain of want of time for meditating on God. "Yearn, you will find a way; pray, you will receive Grace.” 
The value that has to be inculcated is discrimination between the fleeting and the fundamental, the trivial and the precious. Do not tell students that the world is an 'illusion' (Mithya). It is real, intensely real so long as we are present here. Let people live lives with deep interest in the process. For a meal that takes up a few minutes, we take trouble to make it a tasty, delightful experience. Then for a life that covers long decades should we not take the trouble to make it tasty? What imparts taste to living? Good thoughts, clean habits, virtues, good deeds---these provide charm and delight to life. Do not go home and loll in an easy chair, with your head swollen with pride that you are a 'teacher' or a 'student'. Share joyfully in the work that your mother or father does. That makes living delicious. 
Teachers and students must involve themselves in useful work without intermission. When left idle, the mind roams into insane regions of thought. Parents are leading children to ruin when they give them all the money they demand, provide them the dress they fancy, gift them cars or motorcycles to go places and allow them the license to indulge in every desire. Teachers must meet the parents of their pupils at least once a month and warn them of the evil consequences of fondling children overmuch. Inspire pupils to love the Motherland, to do social service and to love simple living.” 

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