Posted at 18:55:12 Hrs. IST on 22 Nov 2009
AUM SRI SAI RAM
SRI SATHYA SAI UNIVERSITY
Twenty Eighth Convocation
November 22, 2009
PROF. VISHWANATH PANDIT
With loving Salutations at the Lotus Feet of our Beloved Lord, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, I invoke His blessings for this august function.
Revered Chancellor, Professor Samuel Sandweiss who has kindly agreed to deliver the Convocation Address, Distinguished members of the Governing Body, the University Trust and the Academic Council, Respected Guests, members of the faculty, Graduands of the Year, and Dear Students, it is my privilege to welcome you all to the Twenty Eighth Annual Convocation of the Sri Sathya Sai University.
Human existence has apparently distinct but in reality integrated two aspects – the manifest and the unmanifest or, more simply the outer and the inner self. The need to promote both has been felt ever since humanity emerged from its primitive existence. It is natural that the initial concern was with the gross body and its relationship to the manifest world. While improvement of capabilities needed for living steadily improved, the urge to listen to the unmanifested self
deepened. Though Man lives in the body-mind-intellect complex, he cannot ignore the higher Atmic Complex. The Vyavaharik and the Atmic life need to be integrated effectively. This is where education comes in with its twin segments
which need to complement and indeed reinforce each other.
Great thinkers in the past had a clear understanding that education was indeed the very process which lays the foundation for Dharma (Righteousness) by removing the cover of ignorance and letting the Self inner shine. It was put
remarkably by Greeks with the proclamation:
“………. Education should devise the simplest and most effective methods to turn the mind towards the light. Not to implant sight in it because it already has the capacity, but to correct its orientation, because it is now improperly aligned and is not facing the right way.”
Therein lay the seed for Educare.
Similarly, the societal welfare implications of education are marvelously brought out by a Chinese proverb which says
If you are thinking for a few months grow fruits and vegetables, If you are thinking about a few years grow trees.
But if you are concerned about generations to come educate your children.
More than a century back the reputed philosopher John Stuart Mill emphasized the power of education and therefore the need to design and harness it for human good as he said,“Education and opinion which have so vast a power over human character should so use that power as to establish in the mind of every individual an indissoluble association between his own happiness and the good of the whole” ……….. “Selfishness is the principal cause which makes life unsatisfactory ….. There is no inherent necessity that any human being should be a selfish egotist, devoid of every feeling or care but those which centre in his own miserable individuality…….”
The earliest three universities in Europe established several hundred years back at Oxford in England, Salamanca in Spain and Sorborn in France had deep religious and presumably spiritual foundations. This was true of India much earlier when universities at Nalanda, Taxila and other places were established and even more so and much earlier when the system of education took the form of Gurukulas under the guidance of great saints and sages.
Unfortunately, however, as man progressed materially with advancement in science and technology, his concern for inner peace and happiness got steadily blurred. Education for life took a back seat and that for a living became increasingly prominent, eventually overshadowing it. Education got entirely focused on mind body and intellect with egocentric tendencies leading to Swartham and Swaprayojanam as the sole motivation for all human endeavours.
Dharma got diluted into Morality which in turn came down to ethics and has fallen further to a syndrome of market mechanism driven entirely by profit. Education itself has today emerged as one of the best businesses under the regime of a globalised world. No wonder the world is up against massive problems of environmental degradation, poor access to healthcare and absence of true education.
THE DIVINE MISSION
Time had obviously come for the LORD to redeem His promise to reincarnate and take the world back to Sanathana Dharma, as He said:
Yada yada hi dharmasya glanirbhavati bharatha
Abhyuddhanamadharmasya tadatmanam srujamyaham
He did exactly as He had promised, and came down once again as Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba to transform humanity. The Divine Sankalpa was clear.
Education was the top priority and the objective was obvious. The start had to be made with education for girls because educating one girl meant educating one and more correctly two families. Inaugurating the Sri Sathya Sai College of Arts
and Sciences for Women at Anantapur in 1968 Bhagavan declared –“India is being forged into Bhogabhoomi (land of luxury), a land of skyscrapers, tinned food, air-conditioning, and television. Indians are being shaped into an imitative, insurgent, and ill-disciplined mass. They are being transplanted on other soils and encouraged to grow without roots. This is an insult to the past, and a sacrilege on the history of Time.
That is the reason I have decided that this College be inaugurated on Gurupoornima Day, as a reminder of the highest tradition, in which the highest ideals of life were instilled by personal example and guidance by the Guru, to pupils eager to imbibe.”
True Education is not merely for India but for the entire world and this country is meant to lead in spiritual regeneration. Bhagavan highlighted the need for character building so as to produce enlightened citizens for tomorrow with a deep
commitment to social welfare.
The sapling that was planted at Anantapur and later at Brindavan and Prasanthi Nilayam itself has now grown into a University which has been acclaimed to be a path breaker by a Delegation of Indian Parliament in 1997, two Peer Teams of the University Grants Commission in 1999 and 2008 and the National Assessment and Accreditation Council which gave it the highest level rating of A++ in 2003. The uniqueness of the University goes deeper in so far as
the emphasis on human values is in no way at the cost of academic excellence.
That the two streams complement and reinforce each other is fully evidenced by the type of students it has produced.
Saturated with five human values of Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Love and Non-violence, alumni of the Sri Sathya Sai University spread across India and indeed across the world have been acknowledged not only as competent professionals but also as role models for their moral behaviour and service to society. The ancient system of Gurukula education has been effectively reinvented to suit the modern times. No doubt this must verily be the only university of its kind in the entire world. The daily interaction that students have with the Revered Chancellor of this University is unthinkable anywhere else. The purpose is to mould the students’ mind and intellect filling the heart with Love for all. I cannot do better than quote Swami Himself as follows:
“Education means broadening the heart. It implies development of Control over senses. It should make one seek to promote the good of the world. It should serve to instill all good qualities in the student. An education that is devoid of such qualities is worthless.”
SAI SYSTEM OF EDUCATION
The educational system followed here has a clear interface with the society in all its endeavours. This is abundantly brought out by the kind of academic research that is pursued here as well as the co-curricular activities undertaken. The well known example of the latter is the Grama Seva which is undertaken every year with all students and all teachers participating in it. This year’s programme was stretched over ten days during which students and teachers visited more than 150 villages spread over three Mandals of Kothacheruvu, Bukkapatnam and Puttaparthi carrying the message of love from Bhagavan. Lakhs of packets of food and sweets were distributed along with several thousands of sarees and dhotis. How much joy it gives to the villagers can only be seen to be believed. More than that, for teachers, and students it is a matter of happiness and a process of learning.
Similarly, the bounden duty of undertaking academic research relevant to social welfare is prominently reflected in the topics chosen for large research projects as well as those for doctoral and M.Phil dissertations. These relate to devising solutions for problems of drinking water, identifying useful fauna and flora in this area, and how these may be used, and several ways in which health care can be improved. This is well illustrated by the work undertaken by scholars who will be awarded Ph.D. and M.Phil degrees by Bhagavan today. By His grace several teachers of the University were chosen for prestigious awards by reputed organizations and agencies during this year. The University has arrived at a new threshold when its role as an instrument of Bhagavan’s Mission has assumed greater importance. We pray for His guidance at every step.
When Swami added the MBA programme to the University when it was barely five years old, one wondered why a University devoted to promotion of thyaga should train students for plum jobs in the business world. The Revered
Chancellor knew that every aspect and every sphere of life was getting increasingly corporatised. Hence the need to prepare an army of students with values based training who must enter the portals of business houses and transform them as institutions for social good. This is indeed happening slowly but steadily. Obviously, He knew the potential ailments and the effective medicines. Spiritual elements are fully integrated in the teaching programmes of
all disciplines in the University, as ordained by Him.
How the University can shoulder its responsibility as a watchdog on what is happening around was remarkably highlighted by a high profile Conference on“Ethics and the World of Finance” organized by the University at the end of August. This brought together about thirty top echelons representing regulatory institutions, insurance companies, bankers and investing agencies; a dozen reputed academics well versed in finance, management and economics and
versatile bureaucrats dealing with governance. Their deliberations for two days focused on the current international economic crisis which has led to bank failures, widespread bankruptcy and massive unemployment. More than all this,
millions have lost access to health care, prospects of education and caused massive impoverishment of the ordinary people. A large number of poor households have been robbed of their precious savings.
It is clear that if we want to identify the basic cure for all this we have to go back to what Swami prescribed for such ailments more than three decades back, in 1976, to be precise when He asked us to exercise a “Ceiling on Desires”. In the present context, in particular, the additional part of the Divine direction was‘Do not waste money.’ In today’s context the problem arose not only from excessive greed of not merely an individual but of institutions who were playing
with others’ money. The idea of behaving like a Trustee was thrown to the winds because of a built-in asymmetry. Profits will be mine but losses will be yours.
The roots of the problem and the solution to the present travails of humanity were succinctly explained by Swami in His valedictory discourse with reference to episodes from Mahabharata. How Dharmaraja falling prey to his weakness for gambling brought misery to his family – an excellent illustration of how people dominated by wrong tendencies ignore risk and throw away precautions. Also Draupadi brought in the question of the well being of other stakeholders – her other four husbands. There is no way to highlight what was said except by quoting Swami Himself as He said:
“Money comes and goes but morality comes and grows. Cultivate Love of God which will lead to fear of sin and bring morality in society”
The Conference came to be a turning point for many participants who realized their real role in promoting human welfare as Trustees for the society..
OUR CHIEF GUEST
Today there is a wide consensus in the medical profession that most ailments are born in the mind and passed on to the body in different ways. Hence the need to mend the Mind as Bhagavan has taught. We cannot think of a better person than Dr. Samuel Sandweiss who has mastered this subject in all its facets and shown how spiritual practices affect the mind and expand consciousness and love. He not only teaches psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego but has also been a practicing psychiatrist for over 40 years. Rising well above the body-mind-intellect complex he treats human beings as embodiments of divinity. Most of us have learnt a great deal from his inspiring books, namely, Sai Baba: The Holyman and the Psychiatrist, Spirit and the Mind, and the more recent one, With Love Man is God. An ardent devotee of Bhagavan for more than three decades, Dr. Sandweiss has served on the Sathya Sai Baba Council of the United States since its beginning in 1975. He and his wife Sharon have hosted a Sai Baba Center in their home for over 35 years. They also oversee Birth Day Publishing Company which publishes books about Sri Sathya Sai Baba by Western devotees. I welcome Dr. Sandweiss to this august function and request him to deliver the Convocation Address. All of us need to listen carefully and carry a valuable message with us when we leave. I am sure the message will inspire the outgoing Graduates for many many years to come.
Finally, I pray to Bhagavan to grant us all the strength and the yearning to be worthy instruments for His Divine Mission.
Jai Sai Ram!