Convocation Address by Maharajakrishna
At Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning(Deemed University)
22 November 2004
Revered Chancellor, Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai
Baba, Respected Vice-Chancellor, Honoured members of the Governing
body and the Academic Council, Learned Members of the Faculty,
Graduating class, students and friends,
This University is one of its kind; there is none other like
it in India or elsewhere in the world.
Nor is there another teacher like the founder, mentor, guide
and Chancellor of this great seat of learning, the fount of
divine wisdom and knowledge, the Avatar of our age, Sri Sathya
Sai Baba. His abode, Prashanthi Nilayam is the world’s
The convocations of this university, unlike similar occasions
elsewhere, bring together a vast congregation of men and women
of high achievement and a large number of people from all
over India and the world, to bless the year’s graduates,
as they cross the threshold into life’s arena of works
and responsibility. Participation in this unique function
is an exalting and sanctifying experience. They are festivals
of celebration of spirit of love of human unity.
There is no greater honour than to be asked to be the chief
guest at this event. It is my good fortune to be here today
as chief guest for the second time. I hold no special qualification
or position to merit this honour. I have done nothing to earn
it. Presidents, Prime Ministers and others of high distinction
have graced these occasions as chief guests. By summoning
me here today, my benign Master has lavished yet another shower
of grace on his humble devotee. To Him, I simply want to say
: Swami, I am doubly honoured, I am twice blessed : I thank
When I addressed the convocation in 1989, the Sathya Sai Institute
of Higher Learning was still in its early years; but intimations
of it being the harbinger of much needed change in the arid
scene of Indian education and in the country’s life
were there. There are two ways of initiating change: one,
can discard or destroy the old and begin anew, or retain what
exists and reform and renew it by introducing new catalysts
Sai is the messiah of change through reform and reconstruction.
He has infused in the prevailing pattern of education a stream
of spiritual awareness and social responsibility by inculcating
in the child’s conduct, during his years in school and
college, the human values of sathya, dharma, shanti, prema
Today, 15 years later, this deemed university is, in the words
of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council of the
University Grants Commission, “a model worthy of emulation
by the institutions of higher learning in the country and
elsewhere”. It is a well-deserved tribute to the Institute’s
pioneering work and it is to be hoped that the prized features
of this model will be replicated in all other Indian universities.
Young men and women, who pass through these portals into the
wider world are persons of character and integrity. Imbued
with the best in Indian cultural tradition and ethic, they
are modern in outlook without the frivolity and pomp of modernity.
They are living examples of a good life of simplicity and
honesty, of compassion, love and service. Ten thousand of
them already in the field are changing life and environment
around them. As their numbers grow the university’s
contribution to the making of a new Indian society will become
Of the several new dimensions added to the conventional teaching
in this Institution, two, in my view, are of singular importance
not only to character-building of the scholars but also to
the future of Indian society. These are the university’s
Gram Seva programme and the vocational training imparted as
a regular feature of hostel life. Introduction of these programmes
in the country’s schools and colleges will go a long
way in reducing unemployment and in energizing the process
of national integration.
The Gram Seva work, in particular, makes education socially
relevant. It gives the disadvantaged in our villages the feeling
of being part of a society which cares, and it brings the
educated elite closer to the reality of life in the country’s
vast hinterland, with uplifting effects on both.
Low cost and easily available rural health care facilities
in the villages of India are a vital and urgent need. Unfortunately,
the system of Indian medicine, which can provide such medical
care in the villages, has remained an area of comparative
The rural health scene in China was revolutionized by “barefoot
doctors” administering indigenous Chinese medicine.
I wonder whether, as part of the Gram Seva programme, or in
some other suitable way, this university can take the benefits
of ayurveda to the villages served by the Grama seva programme.
Or, perhaps, this pioneering Institution could set one more
example for other major universities by adding to its already
considerable assets a College of Ayurveda.
Institutions dispensing allopathic medicine and specializing
in complicated surgery are also necessary, especially in our
metropolitan areas. Bhagwan Baba has already set-up two magnificent
super-speciality hospitals where the most advanced medical
treatment is made available to the poor and needy of our country
free of cost. These and His projects to supply clean drinking
water to hundreds of villages in drought prone areas are examples
for our State and Central governments and the country’s
growing corporate sector to replicate in different regions
of our country.
Applications in the field of the University’s scientific
research has already benefited rural development, environmental
conservation and agriculture in neighbouring areas. Good pioneering
work of this nature deserves to be more widely known so that
its benefits become available to other needy regions also
in due course.
My dream for this university is that it should become, like
Taxila of yore, the intellectual hub of modern India, that
in due course men of the caliber of Panini, the grammarian,
Kautilya, the celebrated theoretician and practitioner of
statecraft and diplomacy, and Charka, a progenitor of Indian
medical science, will lend luster to this institution and
that its research work in science and other branches of knowledge
will bring international acclaim and laurels to India.
In saying all this I am conscious that it takes time to build
the knowledge base and traditions of a place of learning.
There are no short-cuts to utopia. But considering what the
university has achieved in its short life of 22 years, its
accomplishments in the next decade or two may well exceed
I offer my warm felicitations to graduates who have received
their degrees today, and to those who have won medals and
other distinctions. I pray for your success in all your undertakings.
You have been prepared well for life’s varied tasks
and responsibilities. I shall not, therefore, invoke the usual
convocation homily: sathyam vada, dharmam chara etc. During
your stay here, you have integrated all that and much more
in your daily conduct. I want to speak to you, instead, about
the world you are about to encounter outside these hallowed
precincts, and of India’s place in that world. Also,
as a fellow Sai devotee I want to share with you my understanding
of Sai’s mission and His teaching.
First the world: Of the many changes sweeping the world,
globalization of its trade and economy and of its politics
is of particular importance. The phenomenon is unavoidable,
because astonishing advances in technology, especially in
transport and communication, have virtually eliminated the
necessities of distance and time. Day by day, the world becomes
a smaller but also a more complex place. Far-away happenings
affect our lives in unpredictable ways, and old notions of
nationhood and sovereignty are loosing some of their meaning.
Globalization is driven by the powerful market
forces of the west led by the United States of America. It
has generated some unsettling effects in the economies of
several developing countries. But we have to live with it,
and I believe India today is strong enough to cope with the
phenomenon, and even derive some benefits from expansion of
the world economy by improving its own manufacturing capabilities
and by enlarging its base of knowledge services. India’s
progress since independence has been impressive. India’s
GDP has grown from US$ 1 billion in 1947 to $ 475 billions
today. Similarly, India’s annual trade has increased
from around $1 billion in 1947 to over $ 100 billion today.
Today, Indian economy is fourth or fifth largest in the world
and it is growing at a healthy rate. There is substantial
progress in the spread of education. There is greater political
and social cohesion in the country. Cleansing of the country’s
politics, of its corruption and crime make it stronger still
and will ensure even more rapid progress in the future.
We are witnessing wondrous new advances in medicine, genetic
manipulation and space travel. Nanotechnology, the latest
discovery of science which involves making tiny robots designed
to hunt down anything from dust particles to germs in the
human body, is revolutionizing medicine, chemistry and electronics.
Every fresh breakthrough opens doors to new breakthroughs,
unfolding before us realms of knowledge and visions of life
Interestingly, scientific enquiry is now
also engaging in the search of answers to the timeless questions
about the nature and origin of the universe and of man, and
there emerges before us the prospect of bridging the gap between
science and spirituality. By demonstrating that through our
molecules, we are all physically connected, science is pushing
empirical understanding closer to recognition of the transcendental
reality of integral unity of all life. Can living entities
that are physically connected be spiritually isolated from
one another? A few more leaps in scientific knowledge and
will a Newton or an Einstein proclaim with the Vedic seer!
jyothi bahudha vibhati.”
i.e. one and the same light illumines all forms
(Atharva veda XIII,3.17)
The irony of it is that each scientific invention,
while opening up fresh prospect of man’s progress, also
brings new perils to human security in the shape of ever more
lethal weapons of mass destruction. Our world is, by no means,
the ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumukum, contemplated by our sages
and seers of yore! Humanity is splintered by hatreds and conflicts
of race and ethnicity and there is too much violence all around.
Even religion, which is man’s quest for the divine,
and cultures whose intermingling should enhance human bonds,
lie behind much of the ongoing strife. Terrorists, armed with
all manner of lethal weaponry roam the earth with singular
objective of killing innocent people in the name of religion.
With all its abundance of material wealth and its great advances
in science and technology, it is an unhappy world because
there is a great deficit of Love in it.
In the last decade and half, the world’s political
landscape has undergone a radical change. The Soviet Union,
a leading power of the 20th century, has vanished from the
world map and Russia is in the process of finding its feet
as a democracy. Several new states have arisen in central
Asia adding to the complexity of Asian politics.
Europe, for centuries the scene of schadenfreudal wars, is
at peace and the European Union, comprising 25 states, is
engaged in consolidating its political unity and economic
strength for an enhanced role in world affairs. The centre
of gravity of world affairs has shifted sharply from the Euro-Atlantic
region to Asia, where China and India, the USA, Japan and
Russia, are redefining their regional and global roles. It
is a dynamic situation and a time of many uncertainties.
Clearly, the United States is the world’s pre-eminent
military and economic power and it is likely to continue to
occupy that position for the best part of this century; possibly
longer, if it can eschew the war-psychology urge that often
goads powerful societies to provoke challenges to their own
supremacy, such as the on-going war in Iraq.
In recent years, a special link has developed between India
and the United States in the shape of a two million strong,
prosperous and influential community of Americans of Indian
origin with roots and ties in both countries. They are playing
an important role in bringing our two nations closer. There
is much curiosity and general interest inside. Outside India,
the USA is, perhaps, also the country where interest in Sai’s
work and teaching is the deepest. We have much to give that
country and, equally, a good deal to learn from it.
India’s relations with Russia – a traditional
friend and supporter – and Japan, a committed democracy
and Asia’s economic power-house should form the central
focus of our foreign policy and diplomacy. Relations with
the European Union and China will also require the closest
It is ancient wisdom that a rising power – and today’s
India today is a rising power – should take care not
to antagonize the existing great powers. Further, it must
do everything within its means to avoid any possibility of
a combination of existing powers arising against it. Neglect
of these maxims has caused our country much harm and discomfiture
in the past.
Regrettably, our own region, South-Asia, is beset with many
difficulties : a wide-spread armed rebellion in Nepal, ethnic
separatism and violence in Sri Lanka, unreasoned anti-indianism
in Bangladesh and instability characteristic of military regimes
in Myanmar and Pakistan. Uncertainties surround the India-Pakistan
peace process because of Pakistan’s pathological fixation
concerning the intractable Kashmir issue. We have to learn
to live with these surroundings in calm detachment. India
should offer willing cooperation and help to those who want
it; but towards recalcitrant neighbours a policy of benign
neglect is best.
India survived a long debilitating period of alien rule because
of its innate spiritual resilience which, in the course of
the century preceding independence, found its expression in
the lives and teachings of Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Vivekananda,
Sri Aurobindo, Shirdi Sai Baba and Mahatama Gandhi. That same
spirit, has flowered to perfection in the divine personage
of Sri Staya Sai Baba. His life, his work and teaching are
shaping modern India’s destiny and preparing the country
for the role of a spiritual catalyst in a changing world.
In a recent discourse, Sri Sathya Sai Baba had declared:
“In future, many great events are going to take place.
The country should have no fear. Bharat will certainly become
a land of plenty and prosperity. Our students will contribute
a lot to the development of the country. They are the future
These extraordinary words are a prophecy and a promise and
a benediction. It is the voice of the Avatar calling a rejuvenating
nation to greatness and conjuring the scholars and alumni
of this university to be a major means for his mission’s
fulfillment: obviously he has other powerful means also at
his command, for example, his personal charisma, the miraculous
magnetism of his love, and the simplicity and profundity of
his teaching which goes straight to the heart.
Bhagawan Baba’s teaching is aimed, as were the teachings
of Krishna, the Buddha and Jesus Christ, at raising man to
a higher consciousness and thus to help him to work for his
own individual perfection and for a perfect society.
All that is said or implied in the instruction of prophets,
saints and seers of all times viz., human equality and brotherhood,
a virtuous life of compassion and service etc., love of God
and his creation, man’s divine destiny, is summed up
by Sathya Sai Baba in four simple words : Love All, Serve
All. These simple words, in my humble judgment, contain the
core of all his teaching and the teachings of all previous
Avatars andsaints. He drives the message home by showering
His love on one and all without distinction of any kind.
Sai is here with us, is here in the world, to make good the
deficit of love which ails the modern world.
Love of which He speaks, is the human heart’s natural
surge: directed towards fellow beings love engenders the spirit
of service which in turn, reinforces the feelings of love,
fellowship and compassion. The spirit of service also tames
the ego, ego which is the main hindrance on man’s path
Sai’s emphasis on service echoes Lord Krishna’s
teaching. He tells Arjuna that He, the supreme Lord, is to
be known as the “friend of all beings” (suhridam
sarvabhutam V.29). Therefore, those who want to attain Him
must “engage in doing good to all beings” (sarva
bhoot hiteh ratah V.25). His true devotee is one, Krishna
affirms, who is “without ill will to all beings, is
friendly and compassionate (advestaa sarva bhootanam maitrah
Karun eva ch XII.13). In short, if you want to reach God,
love his creation, eliminate the ego through service of fellow
beings. “Love all, Service All” is the mantra
for man’s liberation and immortality and also the recipe
for the making of a perfect global society.
To a world riven by religious bigotry and contention Sai says:
“What is all the strife about? There is but one God,
and there is only one religion, the religion of love. I preach
only the religion of love for all, and this alone will integrate
the human race into a brotherhood.”
Sai’s teaching is making an impact not only in India
but in all parts of the world. His way of uniting humanity
in a universal bond of love and service is truly globalization
of the most far-reaching consequence to man’s evolution
to a higher plane of existence.
My young friends,
Life’s passage is seldom smooth or trouble-free. There
are surprises and allures, challenges and crises at every
step. In dealing with them let the spiritual values you have
garnered here and Sai’s teachings be your anchor and
your guide. When in need you will find that somewhere in his
teachings there is an assurance and a guideline to pull you
through any and every circumstance. But faith is important.
Faith may not move mountains, but it does remain man’s
firmest mooring against the pulls and pressures of life.
Three routine disciplines go a long way in the making of a
good and happy life. These are disciplines of the tongue or
speech, of the intellect and of the mind. Coupled with charity,
which is a form of service, these make living a joy in a world
which the Buddha described as nothing but misery and transience:
(sarvam dukkham dukkham, sarvam khshanikam khashnikam). A
quatrain in Aadi Shankara’s Bhaj-Govindam is a useful
guide to the acquisition of these disciplines. It says;
“Geyam gitanam sahasram
i.e. chant the Geeta and the Lords’ thousand names
(for discipline of speech)
Dhyeyam shripati roopamajassram
i.e. Contemple the Lord’s form(for disciplining the
Neyam sajjansange chittam
i.e.Lead the mind towards good company (to control the mind)
Deyam deenajanaya ch vittam”
i.e.And share your wealth with the needy.
Finally, I commend to you the necessity and importance of
prayer in daily life. Prayer is an effort to reach God: it
is a powerful way of communicating with Him and it is the
best way to serve Him. Providence (Daivam), Lord Krishna tells
us, is one of the five factors in the accomplishment of all
human endeavours. Providence is unpredictable and it is also
the most potent factor in human action, it is beyond man’s
control. Therefore, it is best to begin each day with a short
prayer from the heart asking the Lord to take charge in simple
words, such as these:
Lord, be my guide this day
In all I think, say or do.
Let this be your day in my life.
And the day should end with another short prayer rededicating
to Him the day’s efforts and their fruits, and asking
Him to dispose of them as he thinks best
Sai Himself has often said:
to me with your heart full of love
When you pray with a loving heart
I immediately respond.”
I advise you to take Him up on his word: if my own experience
is any guide, you will not be disappointed.
I pray for Sai’s blessings on you.