Reflections of a Sai Student about Sri Sathya Sai Institute – By Dr. B. Raghavendra Prasad

Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning Admin Headquarters
I am one of the thousands of alumni of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning and am unabashedly proud of my alma mater. Bhagavan Baba established His world University in 1981 for the revival of the perennial spiritual wisdom of all the religions. The Chancellor of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning is indeed the Chancellor of the Universe itself. His Institute is unique in various ways compared to other universities. The founder of the Institute is an Avatar, an integral incarnation of the Supreme Being. He is, in the words of Professor V.K. Gokak (first Vice Chancellor, SSSIHL), incredible, inscrutable and inexplicable. He founded His world university for the renaissance of Sanathana Dharma, the quintessence of our ancient wisdom and for revival of the perennial spiritual wisdom of all the religions.

Do not allow the desire for ostentation to enter the mind. Do not allow egotism to approach you. Be humble and be loyal to high ideals. Then only can you serve the cause of world peace and prosperity... It is only when the individual succeeds in being good that the world too can become good. One who is eager to be a real student must place before himself the ideal of world peace and prosperity. He has to be unpretentious. He must vow to be of service to others. This is the essence of true education or Vidya.” 
(Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Vidya Vahini)

Baba started His educational institutions to impart not only secular education, but to also inculcate spiritual knowledge and values through systematic practice. The Ultima Thule of education is the holistic and harmonious development of human personality. A student in Baba’s university grows physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The aim of the Sri Sathya Sai System of Education is not only academic excellence but also self-perfection. Baba Himself is an absolute perfectionist in everything. Sri Sathya Sai System of Education spiritualizes science and rationalizes spirituality. It provides a creative synthesis of science and spirituality. His University is a confederation of all branches of knowledge and all systems of philosophy. This, according to Baba, is true Vidya and is a congruence of all paths to Truth. It lays emphasis on the harmonious and balanced development of a student’s personality, the composite totality of his physical, emotional, mental and spiritual faculties. According to Baba, the aim of education is not the accumulation of knowledge or the acquisition of information. Its real aims are the awakening of innate faculties, the sharpening of sensibilities, the cultivation of useful skills, the development of healthy emotions, the sublimation of animal instincts and the enrichment of total character.
Sri Sathya Sai with Prof. V.K.Gokak and other Leading Luminaries
at the First Convocation of SSSIHL
Energy is all and energy is derived from God. That is the very basis of man. Now, we are building superstructures somewhere else and not on the basis. The foundational Divine Principle is being ignored. We are fascinated by subjects and studies that promise to feed our stomachs and make us materially happy and powerful. But the hard truth is the Divine beneath all. Man must either know the supreme Truth of the One Being behind all Becoming or at least know the practical Truth of Love and Brotherhood. These two points are the limits which education must ever keep in mind - the starting point and the goal.” 
(Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Vidya Vahini) 

In Sai Institute, education is an intellectual adventure and an exciting spiritual venture where the teachers are the torchbearers of true knowledge and the students are the ardent seekers of spiritual enlightenment. The teachers at Sri Sathya Sai University are not only dedicated but also addicted to their work. They exemplify the qualities and patterns of behavior enumerated by Dr. Benito F. Reyes, “Awakeners, Liberators of Consciousness, Motivators, Inspirers, Energizers, Facilitators, Catalysts, Cross-Pollinators, Bridge-Builders, Co-operators, Coordinators, Hyphenators, Integrators, Unifiers, Lamplighters, Sharers, Time-Binders and Exemplars.” In short, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher learning is a modern “Gurukula” for the regeneration and revitalization of Sanathana Dharma, the efflorescence and diffusion of Sathya, Dharma, Santhi, Prema and Ahimsa.

There are, perhaps, as many definitions of education as there are educationists. Education, says Bhagavan Baba, should lead to spiritual illumination, mental metamorphosis, physical development and moral regeneration. Morality should not be based on external control but on inner discipline. Its approach is holistic and its philosophy is synoptic. Baba and spirituality are not only inseparable but also identical. According to Baba, spirituality is the quintessence, the highest common factor of all religions. He has been telling us that universal love and compassion are the essence of all religions. He affirms, by precept and practice, the brotherhood of all religions and the fellowship of all faiths. He is absolutely eclectic and ecumenical in His teachings.

The aim of Sri Sathya Sai Education is not mere excellence but absolute perfection as Baba Himself is an uncompromising perfectionist in everything. The academic programs at Sai University are not only interdisciplinary but also cross-cultural. A student learns that spiritualism and pragmatism should be combined for the promotion of world-peace. The summum bonum of Sai Education is the holistic and harmonious development of human personality. At Baba’s World-University you will perceive a systematic synthesis of science and spirituality. Baba does not despise modern science and technology. What He condemns is orthodox and dogmatic scientism. It is obvious the dogmatic scientism cannot explain everything. 

Baba lays more emphasis on character as a sign of education than on academic achievements. He says, “It does not matter if you do not get marks; you should be careful not to get remarks”. Baba urges His students to have worthy ideals in life. “You must have the Head of Sankara, the Heart of Buddha, the Hands of Christ and the Love of Sai. One should have the equanimity of Sankara and see the One in All. Students should cultivate the compassion of the Buddha and should learn from Christ to serve selflessly without any reservation”. This aspect of service to society receives constant emphasis in Sai University, for, as Baba says, service helps to sublimate the ego and eliminate it altogether. Through service one sails from the small insignificant ‘i’ to the magnificent world of ‘I’. Students are inspired to expand their selflove into the Love of Sai, the universal love. By far the most effective way of Baba is to speak to His students during informal sessions which they are privileged to have in His Presence. Being in His Presence is itself an education. There, one imbibes all fundamental values and basic principles of life.

I cherish the sweet memories of my college life with profound nostalgia. I am always proud of having been a student of Bhagavan’s Institution. Teachers at Sai University combine precept with practice. I remember one particular incident very fondly and it was also an eye opener for me. As students, we used to look forward to Summer Course programs in Brindavan. Part of this great event was to go to nearby villages on Sundays for Social Service. Students used to be divided into small groups and each group was led by a faculty member. I had the privilege of having Dr. Lakshminarasimham (then Deputy Warden and later Registrar (1995-2009), SSSIHL) as my team leader during the 1979 Summer Course. On one such Sunday, our group went to a village called Sheegehalli for service activities. We had to clean the main drainage of the village as it was clogged. It was very narrow and the main road of the village spanned it. There was no way of cleaning the drainage below the road unless somebody crawled into it to push out all the sludge. The obvious question was who would volunteer. Before any of the students could volunteer (there was some hesitation among us), we found Dr. Lakshminarasimham already crawling in the drainage and clearing it. This was an eye opener for all of us and a classic example of leading a team from the front by setting an example.
Prof. A. Lakshminarasimham, Registrar, SSSIHL with Sri Sathya Sai
at the Convocation Ceremony
There is a continuous Diaspora of Sathya Sai Students. They are spread all over the world. Baba says that they are His Apostles of peace, love and harmony. “The education system of a country,” says Swami, “is the bank on which the nation draws a cheque whenever it requires strong, reliable, skilled workers. If it goes bankrupt, it is a national disaster. If the system is overhauled and streamlined, the next generation is assured of good leaders, and, what is equally essential, good followers. You must learn to become exemplary leaders, leaders who have passed through the crucible of Seva as Sadhana; leaders who have passed through schools and colleges and mastered the problems of the present and future and as leaders who appreciate the traditions and culture of this great country Bharat.”
(Sri Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume VII). 

Swami started His educational institutions with the single point agenda of evolving a new generation of leaders; leaders who are the very embodiments of Satya, Dharma, Shanti, Prema and Ahimsa, and work towards global peace and harmony. These leaders are His Apostles of peace, love and harmony. Students passing out of Sai Institute carry His Gospel which bonds them not only with their alma mater but also with the world at large.

I have been in academics since the time I graduated from SSSIHL. Professionally, I have been interacting with various reputed research organizations and there is a great demand for high quality, disciplined and hardworking researchers in the country. Most of the faculty members whom I meet, have asked me, “Can you get some students from SSSIHL to work with us?” The reason is, they are highly disciplined, extremely hard working, very intelligent, highly motivated and last but not the least, men of great character. They are distinctive and unique in many ways as compared to other students. At present, many of them are faculty members in premier research organizations spread all over the world and this number continues to grow.

The alumni of Sri Sathya Sai Educational Institutions have taken up Healthcare and Educare programs in different parts of the globe. They have associated themselves with various service activities such as the comprehensive development of villages, organization of vocational training programs for village youth, rehabilitation programs for the under privileged segment of the society, de-addiction etc., to mention a few. They spread the message of love and peace through these service activities. They experience Baba’s divinity through self-less social work. Purity of Purpose is the driving factor and this is where they derive deep inner satisfaction, and experience the Omnipresence, Omniscience and Omnipotence of Bhagavan Baba. They experience Baba’s Guiding Hand in all their endeavors. To sum up, the first and foremost aim of Sri Sathya Sai Education is humanization of spirituality and the spiritualization of education. It is well known that Sri Sathya Sai Students have carved a niche for themselves in their respective professions through their strict discipline, hard work, commitment and integrity. Sri Sathya Sai Students, also called as Sai Students, are themselves examples of the success of Sri Sathya Sai Education. It is a role model for all the educationalists, and is a true definition of Education.

- Dr. B. Raghavendra Prasad
Students (1983-1985), Department of Physics
Currently, Faculty Member, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore

Source: Vidyagiri: Divine Vision (2006)

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