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  Vice President appreciates Sathya Sai System of Education

22nd Convocation of SSSIHL

Chief Guest of the Convocation, Sri Bhairon Singh Shekawat, Vice President of India with the Revered Chancellor of the Institute, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Expressing deep appreciation of the spiritual ambience of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of. Higher Learning, Sri Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Vice President of India and the Chief Guest of the 22nd Convocation of the Institute remarked, This campus has a unique serenity and sublimity of atmosphere. It is not just that your buildings and gardens are beautiful, which they undoubtedly are. It is not just that the climate is pleasant, which it surely is. But beyond all this, there is a certain intangible quality about the atmosphere of this place. There is a refinement and a soothing power about your campus. Every teacher and student, every administrator and worker here seem to know intuitively that this Institute of Higher Learning is also a centre of Higher Behaviour and a seat of Higher Understanding."

Sri Shekhawat was delivering the Convocation Address at the 22nd Convocation of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning held in beautifully decorated and glittering Sai Kulwant Hall, Prasanthi Nilayam on 22nd November 2003. Commending the integral system of education of the Institute, Sri Shekhawat said, "Your Institute is known for imparting integral education. Welfare of the poor and the downtrodden through several humanitarian projects is the running theme of this Institute which shapes the outlook of the students and forms a part of their mental make-up; they are trained to think in terms of giving more to society than to take from it. Gandhiji's noble advice when he said, 'The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others', convincingly reverberates in the ethos of this Institute.'

THE CEREMONIAL PROCESSION was led from Poornachandra Auditorium to Sai Kulwant Hall by the brass band of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. At the head of the procession were the Chief Guest, Sri Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Revered Chancellor of the Institute, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and Vice Chancellor of the Institute, Sri S.V. Giri. The procession received a rousing welcome by the students and devotees when it entered the glittering Sai Kulwant Hall at 3.10p.m.

The Vice Chancellor, Sri Giri garlanded the Chief Guest after the procession reached the dais. The Convocation was then declared open by the Revered Chancellor, Bhagavan Baba on the request of the Vice Chancellor after invocatory Vedic chants by the Institute students.

Vice Chancellor's Introductory Speech

In his introductory speech, the Vice Chancellor of the Institute, Sri S.V. Giri extended a warm welcome to the gathering on this auspicious occasion of the 22nd Convocation of the Institute. He had a special word of welcome for the Chief Guest of the function Sri Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, the Vice President of India.

Sri Giri elaborated how the integral education being imparted to the students of this Institute had helped them to develop Samanvaya - a harmoniously balanced outlook and insight. Commenting on the academic excellence achieved by the Institute, Sri Giri informed the august gathering that the Peer Team of the NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Committee) which visited this Institute awarded A++ grade to the Institute in the university system. The Team said: "The Peer Team feels that this Institute stands out as a crest jewel among the University education system in the country and this model is worthy of emulation by the institutions of higher learning in the country and elsewhere, so that these benefits would be reaped fast and on the widest possible scale." Sri Giri then dwelt on the significant events of the last year and referred to many projects of social concern undertaken by the Institute including the recent one of rehabilitating the physically challenged persons from the lowest rung of society.

The source of inspiration and guidance behind all these achievements of the Institute is its Revered Chancellor Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, remarked Sri Giri.

Graduands Presented to the Chancellor

After these introductory remarks of the Vice Chancellor, the candidates who had successfully completed their studies were presented to the Revered Chancellor by Prof. U.S. Rao, Principal, Prasanthi Nilayam Campus of the Institute. The candidates stood up on their seats and bowed to the Revered Chancellor with folded hands who bestowed His benedictions on them. Thereafter, the Vice Chancellor administered the pledge to the candidates who had been conferred the degrees by the Revered Chancellor. After this, the names of meritorious students who had won gold medals were announced. They were lustily cheered by the students and devotees when they came to the dais to receive their medals and certificates from the Revered Chancellor, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

Convocation Address by the Vice President, Sri Bhairon Singh Shekhawat

At the outset, the Chief Guest, Sri Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Vice President of India expressed deep gratitude to the Revered Chancellor, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba for giving him this opportunity to come to Prasanthi Nilayam which was his long-cherished desire. To visit these precincts is to undertake a pilgrimage; to be in Holy Baba's enlightened presence is to witness the self-renewing spirit of India's spiritual heritage," said Sri Shekhawat. Sri Shekhawat then congratulated the graduating students and wished them a successful career. He hoped that those coming out of the portals of this prestigious institution would address themselves to the problems of the country. "I have no doubt that the humanistic culture of this Institute will positively orient your attitude towards the imperative need to help the. poor to come out of the shackles of poverty, disease, ignorance and illiteracy," said Sri Shekhawat.

Referring to the social concern of Bhagavan Baba to help the downtrodden and the needy, Sri Shekhawat observed, "Holy Baba's social concern is unparalleled. He has started a water supply project which provides drinking water for over 700 villages in a hardcore drought prone area proverbially known for its scarcity of drinking water. He has established an Educational Institution, such as yours, which provides the best quality education without charging any fees whatsoever. He has founded an institution which provides the most expensive medical care to those who can least afford it, and totally free. I wish all religious organisations derive inspiration from Baba and in addition to spiritual upliftment, also work for the amelioration of the poor, the hungry and the diseased."

In conclusion, Sri Shekhawat urged the students to play a meaningful and constructive role in promoting universal peace and harmony as envisaged by Bhagavan Baba in the axiom: "There is only one caste, the caste of humanity ... There is only one God, He is omnipresent."

Benedictory Address by the Chancellor, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

In His Benedictory Address, the Revered Chancellor of the Institute, Bhagavan Baba reminded the students of the glory and pristine culture of Bharat, the mansion of which rested on the pillars of Sathya and Dharma. He therefore advised them to uphold the prestige of this great land by adhering to the values enshrined in its great culture. The Chancellor advised the students to use the education acquired by them for the good of others and not to amass wealth. He said, "Remember always that your education is not merely to amass wealth or to eke out a livelihood. Money cannot confer true happiness on you. Do not deviate from Dharma for the sake of Dhana (money). Dharma is your life, truth is your breath. Good reputation is your wealth. You should not crave for worldly name and fame. Once you practise Dharma, you will naturally attain good reputation. Dharma is related to the heart. Practice of Dharma is termed as Ritam which will make you immortal. But today we do not find anybody adhering to Ritam. Bharat has given birth to many great scholars, poets and men of sacrifice who demonstrated great ideals. But today people have forgotten them. We should always remember people who have sacrificed their life for a noble cause and try to emulate them. It is the spirit of sacrifice that has protected and sustained this country for many ages and generations. Sacrifice is the Dharma of the Bharatiyas. You should offer your life for the protection of Dharma and not for amassing wealth."

The Revered Chancellor concluded His Benedictory Address by exhorting the students to imbibe love for God in their heart. He said, "Love is your life. Love is your goal." The Bhagavad Gita also lays great emphasis on the principle of love. Having studied here for a long time, you should fill your life with love. You have immense love for Me. It cannot be described in words. Love others as you love Swami. Give Me your love. Take My love in turn. There is no trace of body attachment in Me. Doctors said they would perform hip surgery on Me. I told: You can do whatever you want. I am not the body This body is yours. Your love becomes worldly in nature when you have body consciousness. You should develop such love which transcends body consciousness. Only then can you understand the eternal truth. When you truly experience Divine love, you will not lead a worldly life. You will make your love flow incessantly towards God."

The proceedings of the 22nd Convocation of the Institute came to a close at 5.00 p.m. with the singing of the National Anthem by the entire congregation.

Tera Tujkho Arpan

The students of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning presented a powerful drama entitled "Tera Tujhko Arpan" on the occasion of 22nd Convocation of the Institute on 22nd November 2003 in Poornachandra Auditorium, Prasanthi Nilayam in the Divine Presence of the Revered Chancellor of the Institute, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Based on a theme which is pertinently relevant to modern times when even fine arts and spirituality have not been spared by the onslaught of commercialisation, this excellent drama depicted how music loses its divine quality when it is put to commercial use for money, power, name and fame.

As the story unfolds, one of the two disciples of a saint musician goes to city to earn name and fame lured as he is by his youthful ambition, while the other disciple keeps following the teachings of his Guru to sing for God and serve the poor. Meteoric rise of the ambitious disciple has an equally steep fall when he suffers a catastrophe and loses his voice. This leads to his homecoming in the Ashram and ultimately at the Lotus Feet of the Avatar Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba through the loving persuasions of his saintly brother-disciple.

Scripted under the direction of Bhagavan Baba Himself, the drama was an unrivalled piece of excellence which brought the dramatic art to absolute perfection. Besides, matchless direction, superb acting of the cast, appropriate dialogues, soul-stirring devotional songs, perfect choreography and excellent stage management made it an outstanding presentation from all standards.

The drama which began after the arrival of Bhagavan in Poornachandra Auditorium at 6.30 p.m. kept the audience spellbound till the end at 7.50 p.m. when Bhagavan went up on the stage, blessed the cast, posed for photographs with them and distributed watches to them. The dignitaries who watched this play included the Vice President of India, Sri Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

Man must get rid of the feeling that he is the doer. As long as the ego is dominating, the Atma or God consciousness will not be realised. The egoist cannot recognise the Atma. Therefore, first crush your ego. It is egoism that is the root cause of all troubles of man.

Source: Sanathana Sarathi Page 369-372 December 2003 Issue

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