SRI SATHYA SAI INSTITUTE OF HIGHER
Twentythird Annual Convocation (November 22,
SHRI S.V. GIRI
On behalf of the thousands who have gathered
here, we pay our obeisance to Saieswara, the Universal Sadguru.
The first stanza by Kalidasa and the second
(slightly adapted) by Adisankara are half a millennium apart,
but bear evidence to the fundamentals of Indian culture, -
its stress on purity, trikarana sudhi, and universal brotherhood.
Most revered Chancellor, our beloved Chief
Guest of the day Sri Rasgotra, Hon'ble Justice Bhagwati, Members
of the Institute Trust, Governing Body and Academic Council,
Distinguished guests, Members of the Faculty, Graduands of
the year, Dear students of the Institute and Dear Brothers
I deem it a great privilege to extend a most
cordial welcome to all of you on the occasion of the Twenty
third Convocation of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher
1. While inaugurating the Institute a score and three years
ago, the Revered Chancellor unfolded His vision thus “My
sankalpa (determination) is to provide to the youth an education
which, while cultivating their intelligence, will also purify
their impulses and emotions and equip them with physical and
mental disciplines needed for drawing upon the springs of
calmness and joy that lie in their own hearts. Their higher
nature will have to be fostered and encouraged to blossom,
to place them on the path of self-confidence, self-sacrifice
This universal philosophy of Bhagawan is
made operational through the methodology of Integral Education
adopted in the Institute combining the five ideals of education
- namely knowledge, skill, balance, insight and integrity
harmonized in the teaching learning experience. The products
of the Institute have come to acquire a distinct identity
with their positive attributes, sound learning and character
– all because of the inherent soundness of the system
and the loving guidance of its Chancellor. No wonder, the
Institute stands out as a beacon light and is ranked in the
top grade of the University system in the country. It is a
privilege conferred on me to welcome you to the portals of
such a hallowed institution.
About the Chief Guest
2.1 I have a special word of welcome to our
Chief Guest of the day Shri Maharaj Krishna Rasgotra, an ardent
devotee of Bhagawan. He was the Foreign Secretary to the Government
of India and later the High Commissioner of India in London.
Having entered the Indian Foreign Service in 1949, the second
batch after independence, Shri Rasgotra has held several diplomatic
assignments in France, America, England and nearer home, Nepal.
His experience in working with the United Nations Bodies,
General Assembly as well as UNESCO and other specialized agencies
has been very extensive. He is a very fluent and facile speaker
in English and French. In recognition of his contribution
to public life, he was conferred the honour of Padmabhushan.
He is currently on the Management Committee of Sri Sathya
Sai International Centre and School for Human Values, New
2.2 Known for his liberal attitude and purposeful approach
to international relations, he is a Diplomat par excellence.
His deep understanding of the history of civilizations and
the cultural contexts of different nations lend a realistic
touch to his attitudes and approach. The students of the Institute
have had the privilege of listening to him on several occasions
when he spoke in the Kulwant Hall impromptu, all the time
the underlying theme being to influence policy makers to change
from the old to a new order in constructive and peaceful ways.
On behalf of the Institute, I extend to him our most cordial
Major Developments during the Year
3.1 I take this opportunity to highlight
some of the important developments during the year
3.2 While maintaining the primacy of its
commitment to character building, the Institute has systematized
and broadened its research efforts by introducing a three
semester M.Phil. course and shaping several interdisciplinary
projects. A spin off of this type of research effort is to
bring the fruits of research and its methodology to the undergraduate
and postgraduate teaching.
3.3 Five theses that have been approved for
award of Ph.D. this year, cover a wide range of subjects spanning
from high end soft computing at one end to insights from Mahabharata
on values centred leadership in organizations and individuals.
These are sophisticated areas of research. Bhagavan identified
them all when the research scholars were selected. With His
blessings they have been able to produce theses which have
all been applauded as path-breaking in their respective spheres.
3.4 Recognizing the relevance and quality
of the research carried out in the Institute, the University
Grants Commission has awarded a five-year research support
to the Department of Biosciences. More such projects are likely
to follow. The University Grants Commission is also presently
considering a proposal to identify the Institute as one of
the Universities with Potential for Excellence in the country’s
university system. Hopefully this will happen soon considering
the laurels which have been conferred on the Institute already.
3.5 While the academic strengths have been
outlined as above, far more significant are the spiritual
dimensions of the Institute’s efforts. Three things
stand out for special mention in this regard.
(i) One of the facets of Sri Sathya Sai System
of Integral Education is that the activities of the Mandir
form an integral component in the mosaic of the Institute’s
curriculum. Bhagavan especially blessed this academic year
by allowing the students to chant Vedas and Upanishads every
morning and evening at the Mandir. What started as a modest
effort of reciting some Suktas swelled very quickly into a
torrential flow of sophisticated Vedic chants, marked by the
purity of the rendering and sonorousness of the chants. It
was an exercise in demystification to demonstrate the universality
of Vedic hymns and to establish that they are not sectarian
but meant for every one. Nowhere else do we see a congregation
of students and devotees running into thousands, chanting
Vedic hymns without a break for a couple of hours at a stretch.
We express our heartfelt gratitude to Bhagavan for this blessing.
(ii) Swadhyaya Pravachanam, that is stressed
in the Vedas as continuous life long learning, assimilation
and articulation, came out in all its force. It is difficult
to single out any one hymn or a sukta but the underlying themes
that the origin of life is in sacrifice, and that all things
work in unison came to be understood and appreciated by one
and all. The regular recitation of excerpts from Vedas every
day and enacting skits and plays at intervals to illustrate
the practical significance of the eternal verities of the
Vedas presented a harmonious blend of precept and practice
of the spiritual dimensions of life. The entire audience became
Swami’s students and had an exposure to the depth of
the wisdom contained in the Vedas.
(iii) Grama Seva which was commenced a few
years ago, has now become a regular annual feature of the
Academic calendar of the Institute. The exercise undertaken
during the recent Dussera festival demonstrated how much the
spirit of service stays reinforced and the instruments for
rendering of the service refined. This massive exercise of
faith and devotion was carried out in its true spirit and
the joy was immeasurable.
4.1 As is well known, at Prasanthi Nilayam everything has
a place and everything is in its place – be it Dasara,
Diwali, Muharram or Ramzan, Christmas or New year days galore..
The impact is deep and lasting on everyone who has been blessed
with an opportunity to be here. His Excellency the President
of India was here as the Chief Guest for the Convocation in
2002. Experiencing the atmosphere and picking up a familiar
stanza, he expressed his feelings thus:
Where there is righteousness in the heart,
there is beauty in character.
When there is beauty in character, there is harmony at home.
When there is harmony at home, there is order in the nation.
When there is order in the nation, there is peace in the world
I was very pleasantly surprised to see that
he gave expression to his feelings through the same stanza
when he inaugurated the restored ancestral residence of Swami
Vivekananda at Kolkata on the 26th September this year.
4.2 One more instance: All of us who had
the privilege of witnessing the drama staged by the Institute
students on the Independence Day this year were transported
back to that day more than 50 years ago and felt in our beings
what it meant to be free – not merely freedom in the
political sense but to earn Swaarajyam – being spiritually
free and confident. That is the intense and enlightened patriotism
which the Revered Chancellor instills in His students. It
is most heartening that the Institute is responding to His
vision and is exhibiting the will and power to brace itself
for the right causes – Atmano
Mokshaya Jagat Hitayacha.
Concluding on that note of optimism, I once
again welcome you all to this Convocation.