Bhagawan defines education as Vidya - that which illumines the life of man with the light of Divine joy. And in His glorious mission of rejuvenating and revamping the present educational system, the Lord chooses His instruments – the instruments through whom the Divine wisdom flows to the younger generations.
The Convocation drama 2009, Vidya Amritham, is based on the story of one such instrument in the Hands of the Divine, Prof. Gururaj.
Against the prevailing practice of having convocation drama on the eve of Divine Birthday, on the 22nd evening at Poornachandra Auditorium, this time the drama was held on the eve of the Annual Convocation, on the 21st evening at the Sai Kulwant Hall.
The 28th Annual Convocation of Sri Sathya Sai University will be held in the Sai Kulwant Hall on the 22nd Nov morning in the immediate Divine presence of the Chancellor of the University, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba along with scores of dignitaries from the field of education.
The Convocation address will be delivered by Dr. Samuel Sandweiss, psychiatrist, author and a long time devotee of Bhagawan from the United States.
The drama unfolds....
Prof. Gururaj is an eminent scientist who responded to the call of the Divine, ‘Janani Janma Bhoomishcha Swargaadapi Gareeyasi’ and sacrificed the wealth and comfort of a promising career in a foreign land. He has set up a school, Bharatiya Vidya Mandir, in his native village to impart education based on Bhagawan’s teachings.
His story was the story of the journey of a world renowned professor to a primary school teacher, at the call of the Divine.
As Journalist Prakash Roy from ‘Frozen Thoughts’, an international magazine bringing enthusing and ennobling ideas, and inspiring stories of dedicated personalities, poses a barrage of questions on Gururaj’s illustrious journey from a world renowned professor to a primary teacher, the drama unveils interesting snippets, revealing the story in essence.
Answering the journo’s inquisitiveness, the professor turned primary teacher talks about his coming into the fold of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, his myopic vision that blocked him from the reality.
Highlighting on Bhagawan’s oft quoted adage, Daiva Preeti, Paapa Bheeti and Sangha Neeti to be the aim of education, the professor confesses that soul of education is the education of the soul.
“My call had come! That’s how I came here and started this experiment with truth”.
Treasure chest of these seeds of ideals is our own scriptures and epics and the directions for the future are enshrined in the messages of the past and thus the story moved into the life of Prahlada.
Prahlada upon returning after successful completion of his education was tested by his father Hiranyakashyapa as advised by the preceptors of the young lad, Chanda and Amaraka, for convincing himself.
Upon questioning on various philosophical themes, the young lad came oozing wisdom showcasing the quality education he received at his preceptors.
The quintessence of Vidya is the wisdom that teaches us that to cross over the stormy ocean of Samsara by holding on to the feet of Lord Vishnu, says the young student, much to the disgruntlement of his father whose animosity with Lord Vishnu was well known to the whole of fourteen worlds.
Here comes the irony...the altercation between the father – son duo...
Hiranyakashyapa: Ha Prahlada, what is this irony! The exhibition of your wisdom had to start with the exaltation of my enemy. Refrain from saying the name of the slayer of your uncle Hiranyaksha and the scourge of the Danava clan.
Prahlada: All the scientific knowledge that you have is of no meaning, unless it is sanctified by the name of Lord Narayana. What is the use of going as far as the Moon, if we have not gone even an inch within?
Disheartened, Hiranyakashyapu questioned the preceptors:
Hiranyakashyapa: Guruputras, is this what you have taught him all this while? Is it for this unfortunate moment of hearing the name of my sworn enemy from the lips of my dearest son that I have entrusted him to you?
Having irritated at the young lad’s Vishnu Bhakti the King ventures to find out the real culprit behind teaching his Vishnu Bhakti.
...and the young lad answered:
Prahlada: Father, do we require any teacher to tell us how to breathe or satiate the hunger. The hunger of the soul is satiated by the nectarine name of Narayana.
Upon Hiranyakashyap’s warning that he would not hesitate to stifle the breath out of his body if that was the only way to stop his Vishnu bhakti, the young lad replied in cool, calm, composed style:
Prahlada: Father, pardon me for saying this. You have conquered all the three worlds, yet you have failed to conquer yourself. May the blessings of the Narayana bestow true Vidya on everyone.
Drama evolves to the third scene that had a depiction of Gururaj’s greater sacrifice imparting education to the needy. ...He enlightens the pessimists, citing Bhagawan’s own life wherein one could only see “giving, giving, always giving”. Telling that by sponsoring education to the needy, like Aditya, Abdul and Ramananda, He has ever been earning...
...as in his own words:
Gururaj: I have lost nothing, I have only gained. Aditya! Ramanand! Abdul! Why do you feel that I am sacrificing anything? What is value of a property when compared to the value of a noble and enlightened citizen? But the joy is unlimited. So don’t get anxious, I am very happy.
The scene crossed over to an ailing Guruji handing over the reins to Aditya who was more than willing to share the burden.
A mighty proposal, with a vested business interest, to finance the institution that is already running under debt came in from some quarters and Gururaj’s wisdom prevails at the end. Gururaj tried to convince and educate the young lot, including Aditya, that, it was a Saraswati Mandir that they have been yearning for and not a Lakshmi Mandir.
Gururaj: Aditya, my child! What are you all saying? The proposal they presented was that of a Lakshmi Mandir. Ours is and will continue to be a Saraswati Mandir. Their dream is to create Aakarshaka Purushas – attractive personalities, ours is to mould Aadarsha Purushas – ideal persons. The proposal that came was not a solution but a test.
Still not convinced, Aditya tried his best to convince Gururaj and Gururaj was firm on his stand.
Gururaj: Schools are not just buildings, Aditya. Schools are its teachers and students. They may confiscate our building but they cannot take away our values. They may acquire our properties but they cannot take away our faith. The Lord who has inspired us till now will continue to show the path. I am ready to go back to the thatched roof and start all over again.
The modern educated Aditya was still not convinced, asked the Guruji to shun away his age old thinking to change for the better.
Gururaj was crestfallen at this newfound development, where his idealism was overpowered by the modern ideals. He writes a letter before leaving the scene...
As a parting message, let me say something that you have heard very often. School is not just buildings, schools are you, me and our students. We may be facing our darkest hour. But remember, the night is darkest before the dawn. Have faith and hold on to his feet. Kuchela faced an even worse situation, but he asked the Lord for solution. He always held on to the Lord. I know you will make the right decision…
(At this juncture, when the Professor was vanishing from the scene, an emotional parting, Bhagawan called the student playing the role, Siddhanth Chandrasekhar, a final year M.Tech student, to materialise a chain blessing him with encouraging words)
And the drama moved in to Lord Krishna’s palace wherein Krishna welcomes His long lost friend Sudhama. Upon the Lord’s query as to how he suddenly remembered his old friend after such a long time, Sudhama answered:
Kuchela: The passage of time might have increased our physical distance, but we’ve always remained close to thee in thought. I have only come to see my dear friend and recall those wonderful days at Sage Sandeepani’s ashram.
Insisting on to seek any boon that he could grant, the old friend was only interested in Krishna’s perpetual love, and a pleased Krishna was heavenly pleased to offer Himself to Kuchela...
The message was straight and simple. When the all powerful Lord presents Himself before us and grants us a boon, what should we ask for? The answer is straight and simple. Even in our darkest hour, we have to overcome the temptations of the glittering world and ask for Him and Him alone. Kuchela asked only for God, but all his material needs were fulfilled. Thus the Lord taught to the world the importance of complete surrender.
The folks were reduced to a confused lot after the exit of Prof. Gururaj and the time was nearing for the bank to confiscate the school property. The ‘mighty’ proposal comes again with some more ‘concessions’, adding a new course on quality education, giving five seats for the village folks, absolutely free of cost etc.
Aditya was still weighed down by guilt and was indecisive and at the climax appears Prof. Gururaj, as commanded by Bhagawan.
Spurning the modified proposal, Prof. Gururaj was blunt this time.
Gururaj: Sorry for being so blunt but how can I make you understand that education is not a commodity to be sold? Special offers exist in business and not in education. Values are not subjects that you can teach through additional courses. They have to become part of a teacher’s being and manifest through his life. Vidya has to be imparted with a sense of humility and purpose. The ever fragrant aroma of knowledge should not be polluted by the stench of money.
The altercation grew louder when the Professor was questioned for his wisdom and was challenged to show one sustainable model that provides education absolutely free...
Gururaj: 30 years, Ten thousand students, education free of cost, where? Sri Sathya Sai University; 20 years, 5 lakh operations – free of cost, where? At the Sri Sathya Sai Super Specialty Hospitals... 50 lakh people, free drinking water, where? Sri Sathya Sai Drinking Water Project? And you say that it is unsustainable?
Shunning all pessimistic views, Prof. Gururaj declared:
Gururaj: Why not? Every moment spent in his presence is a miracle. And don’t ever underestimate the power of Sai. There is no constraint of place or time for it to manifest.
With the climax arrived Gnani, an old student of the Professor, who pursued his higher education at the Sri Sathya Sai University to climb the success ladder rapidly.
Gnani: I always had urge to serve Swami for what He had done for me. Just a few days ago I was in Parthi, Swami was right in front of me and said, ‘Service is your birth right. You need not ask anyone for it. Take, your mission’. He threw a letter at me. I was surprised to see that it was a letter written by Prof. Gururaj to Swami.
And comes the climax the biggest surprise...
Postman came to deliver a letter:
It is a letter from Swami Himself! ‘Bangaru, till now, you were doing my work. Henceforth, I will do your work. Nay, I will take over all your responsibilities here and hereafter. Here is my ultimate gift. I’ll come there myself within a few days and establish a university there!’
As Krishna told Sudhama, to him who seek Him alone, He gives him Himself...here comes our Bhagawan throwing Himself taking the brunt of running the institution to glory...
The drama was interspersed with thematic songs, sequentially, as the storyline progressed.
The drama ended with a group song, multilingual, started in english, drifting off to hindi finally ended with telugu..a fervent prayer to Bhagawan...Sai Maata Saraswathi...Sub Ko Deejo Sanmathi...
The curtain was drawn at 6:45 and there began the actual drama, Bhagawan's exclusive session with the drama crew...
Bhagawan posed for a coveted group photo session, interacted with the crew for quite sometime, praising and encouraging. A beaming Bhagawan gave away safari sets to the crew, including backroom boys, numbering over 170, subsequently granting them Paadanamaskars, validating their greater effort all with one intention, to make their Beloved Bhagawan happy..
After a long interacting session lasted for almost 45 minutes, an announcement was made about the 28th Annual Convocation of Sri Sathya Sai University to be held on the21st morning in the Sai Kulwant Hall at 10 a.m.