Loving Sai Ram and greetings from Prashanti Nilayam.

Today is the 5th of November. We wonder whether you saw the latest issue of H2H, which was uploaded on the 1st of November. Our boys work extremely hard to get up every issue of H2H on the very first day of the month. But from what we can gather, not many take the trouble to browse through it. It is a tragedy of modern times and tastes that a very large number of devotees have more time for “Sai gossip” than for serious Sai thoughts and Sai’s teachings. We find from various feedbacks we receive via electronic channels, that our “news” is very popular and rapidly does the rounds all across the world. Our photos get picked up and even clipped to remove the water mark, and duly get posted on various web sites, frequently without the standard courtesy of acknowledgement [we do not say don’t take material from us but merely suggest: ‘Please tell others about the source so that they too can come to H2H in case they are not familiar with it’]. Anyway, it is not our intention here to gripe, moan and groan! These preliminary are meant mainly to perk up your attention so that we can bring to your notice something very important.

On 22nd November this year, Swami’s University, the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, would be completing 25 years. The Institute came into existence on 22nd November 1981, and the first Convocation was held on 22nd November 1982; thus, the Convocation this year would be the 25th, and you would agree that it is a landmark worth taking note of.

Crossing the 25–year mark is notable no doubt, but any institution can achieve that through sheer efflux of time. So what is the big deal? In our opinion, there are actually two “big deals,” one connected with traditional aspects and the other connected with the deeper aspects. Permit us to explain.

Where the traditional aspects are concerned, Swami’s Institute not only enables students to earn advanced degrees in everything from Mathematics and Business Administration to Computer Science, but also charges NO fees. In this day and age when education has become big business, this is nothing short of a miracle.

Again, with respect to the traditional aspects, may we call attention to the following?

1. Character development and inculcating team spirit , is central to the philosophy of the Institute. It is no accident then that employers in India are increasingly turning to graduates of SSSIHL, because they can be sure of teamwork, good work ethics, quiet dedication and sincerity.

2. Thanks to Bhagavan’s constant emphasis, Love becomes strongly and permanently ingrained in our students. This has many important fallouts. For example, there has NEVER been, indeed right from the time the Colleges were founded way back in the seventies, even a PASSING THOUGHT of ragging by seniors of their juniors. On the contrary, almost all juniors, when they enter, find that seniors go out of the way to help juniors. This is a NON-TRIVIAL point since ragging has become a huge menace and a barbaric custom in the rest of the country. Many new entrants even die but nothing ever seems to happen and ragging goes on, merrily from year to year.

3. Discipline: One can write chapter and verse on this subject, but we will not. It suffices to report the following. The country head of a leading bank told us, “When we hire a whiz kid from a brand Institute, not only does the whiz kid demand a high salary, but is also very choosy about the kind of work he/she is ready to do. Swami’s boys are just the opposite. For them, money is NOT the goal in life; and, they are ready to do any work we assign. We have now learnt that discipline counts for more than so-called brilliance. And it is not as if Swami’s boys are not brilliant. They just don’t flaunt their capabilities!” Need we say anything more?

4. Another point related to discipline; it might seem trivial but not so in the Indian context. In all these 25 years, the Institute has not missed a single day of work due to Bandhs, agitations or whatever. As far as we know, no University can boast of holding its annual Convocation, year after year on the same day of the year. Here in Prashanti, November 22nd automatically means Convocation Day, every year!

All this is about the so-called “traditional” aspects, by which we mean what any educational establishment committed to the development of character, would lay stress on and presumably also achieve. We now turn to aspects that make Swami’s Institute truly unique.

Swami’s University is named the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. What exactly is this Higher Learning? Does it refer to advanced studies in Computer Science, Biotechnology, Economics and things like that or, for that matter, advanced studies in Vedanta, etc? Neither! For Swami, the purpose of Higher Learning is not to turn the attention of the student from the real world to abstract matters; rather, it is to make students SEE God in everyday world, see the sufferings of people as the distress of the Embodiments of God, and thus make service to humanity the main goal of life.

Swami has always attached great importance to Society. Time and time again He tells students: “You are what you are because of Society. So, when you go out, remember to discharge your obligations to Society. When you serve Society with feelings of Selfless Love, it is as if you are loving and serving God Himself.” Here are some quotes that bring this out, drawn from the Divine Discourses of Bhagavan, delivered on the occasion of various Convocations:

The future progress and welfare of a Nation depend on how education is imparted. Students must be imbued with genuine patriotism. Starting with love for parents, students should cultivate love and reverence for the Motherland. All education must be a preparation for serving the Nation.

Swami – Benedictory Discourse, 1988.

Students! Time is precious. The waters of a river and the youth of a young man can never be restored once they are lost. Plunge into service and extend help to fellow human beings. Cheer up yourself by saying to yourself, “How soon will the day come when I finish my studies and serve my fellowmen in Society?”

Swami – Benedictory Discourse, 1983.

Students are the very foundation of the Nation. To make the foundation strong, the people, the Government, the parents, the Teachers, and the students all have to co-ordinate their plans and efforts. These five elements, these five vital forces, have to come together towards this end.

Swami – Benedictory Discourse, 1981.

The chief goal of human existence is the realisation of Ananda for mankind and the Unity of all people in a world of Love. This is the Higher Learning that this Institute will impart. It will encourage transformations in moral, material, spiritual, and political spheres too. Students who have to resuscitate the glory of this country, have to recognise and value these high ideals, because the welfare of the country depends on their talents and virtues.

Swami – Benedictory Discourse, 1982.

Yes, again and again, Swami reminds students that service to man is service to God, even as He revealed, when He appeared as Vittala, that service to parents, especially when they are aged, is verily service to God.

That is what Swami says, but does it all rub off on the students? You can check that out by going to the various articles we have published in H2H from time to time, on Sai Seva by Sai Youth. You can, for example, see the issue of April 2004, the issue of August 2006, of September 2006, and also the issue of October 2006. These offer good examples. [Please click on the link "Previous Issues" present in every page of H2H].

After reading them, reflect: “Is it possible to identify any other University, anywhere from the North to the South Pole, whose Chancellor constantly inspires in this manner, and whose alumni serve in this manner?”

The world may boast of many “great” Universities but when it comes to a really GOOD University, there is only one! In a sense, this is something to be proud of but at the same time, it is also a matter of deep regret that the rest of world is, ostrich-like, continuing to remain indifferent to the true purpose of education.

Wherever you are, this 22nd November, take a minute off to admire Swami’s miracle in establishing this Crown Jewel, in what was until recently, a mere remote hamlet.

See you again next Sunday. Jai Sai Ram.

With Love and Regards,
"Heart2Heart" Team.

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