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Wednesday, Nov 23, 2005

Sri Sathya Sai 80th year of Advent

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Sri Sathya Sai 80th year of Advent

The End of Education is Character

A view of the Administrative Building of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, a Deemed University. Baba established the first college in 1968. In 1981, all the colleges were integrated into a University based in Puttaparthi.

Until about fifty years ago, educational establishments everywhere regarded character development and training students to be good citizens as very high in their list of priorities. Lately, however, the stress has shifted almost exclusively to imparting worldly skills. When values cease to have any place in the scheme of education, Society ends up paying a heavy price. Indeed, a good fraction of the crime today is committed by intelligent and clever college-educated people, as should be evident from the number of corporate frauds, cyber crimes, high-level corruption, etc. Thus it is that a leading academic in the West remarked with much frustration that universities are currently reduced to training "clever devils"

Baba says that all these aberrations occur when one forgets that the Atma is the most important component of a human being. He strongly believes that education must cater equally, and in balanced proportion, to the needs of the body, the Mind and the Soul, and not merely the "Head" as he puts it.

A panoramic view of the Institute Convocation, which takes place without fail on the afternoon of 22nd November every year. On this occasion Vice President Shekawar was the Guest of Honour.

To give practical expression to his ideas, Baba established a women's college way back in 1968. It is significant that he started with a women's college which, interestingly was inaugurated on Gurupoornima day to stress the importance of ancient values and tradition.

Self reliance receives much emphasis in Hostel life.

Quickly followed other colleges, all of which were blended in 1981, with Government approval, into a Deemed University named the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. In Baba's University, education is completely free, and no fee of any kind, be it admission fee, tuition fee, library fee, examination fee and so on, is charged. Further, admission is made without any distinction of caste, creed and religion. In many respects, Baba's University is like a modern Gurukulam, combining the best of the past with the best of the present.

Stress on values does not mean a compromise of academic standards.

Shakespeare said that above all, one must be true to one's own Self. The instructional method adopted in the Institute and the Spartan life style followed by the students helps them in every way to follow this principle.

Annual Sports is an occasion not so much for competition as for demonstrating individual capabilities, team spirit and cooperation.

Since 2000, every year the students participate in a massive village service programme that lasts about ten days. The service involves going every day to every house in about 20 villages, distributing clothes, sweets and food, as a token of Baba's Love. This sustained village contact has done much not only to sensitise students to the problems of rural India but has also induced most of them to stay back in the country and serve it instead of going abroad.

Baba mixes freely with students all the time, as the picture above shows.

Education in Baba's University may have a strong moral and spiritual slant but that does not mean that academic work is relegated to a secondary status. On the contrary, discipline helps the students to shine academically.

Students distributing Baba's Prasadam during Grama Seva.

By Statute, Baba is the Chancellor of the University founded by him. In practice, however, he is anything formal. He is in constant touch with his students, literally on a day-to-day basis. For them Swami is father, mother, Guru and also the guide. As a result, Students develop a life-long bond of love, that greatly influences their attitude in life.

Scene from a Medical camp run in a village by ex-students of Baba's University. Such camps are run all over India, throughout the year.

* * *

Real education is that which enables one to utilise the knowledge one has acquired for making happy as many people as possible. Born in Society, one has the duty to work for its welfare and progress.

Good teachers + good students = Great Nation!

It is necessary to foster human values along with the growth of Science and Technology. Students should attach more importance to the cultivation of virtues than in being clever and in the acquisition of mere worldly skills.

- Baba

* * *

I have had first hand experience from 2001, when I visited the Institute for the first time. I was quite amazed to see the discipline amongst the students, spiritual as well as academic. We took about six students (MBA graduates) from the Institute in 2001 and were very happy with their performance. Over the last five years, we have hired more than 60 students.

The primary motive in today's world behind taking up a job is money. A difference that I have seen in Institute boys is that for them, money is secondary. This is proven by the loyalty factor and the attrition rates, as compared to the other employees in the Organisation.

Further, Baba's students are willing to do whatever work is assigned to them, which makes a very big difference to the Organisation.

Samir Bhatia
Country Head, Corporate Banking HDFC Bank

The most important difference is really the transformation process the boys brought to the Organisation, which is something unique. After the boys from the Sathya Sai Institute joined us, our Organisation started looking at social initiatives, in the form of service in the village, and education. We have taken up two projects already, driven largely by the boys of the Institute. We are looking at taking up a third project now. On the whole, our experience has been excellent.

Sri Sathya Sai 80th year of Advent
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