The Birthday season is over. The
crowd at Prasanthi Nilayam has thinned. The Ashram seems to be
quiet and serene, enjoying the peace and tranquility.
But there is one place here at Prasanthi, where the situation is
quite the opposite. This place is a bee hive of activity. You will
find people are running around, here and there, and appearing very
busy. Young men can be found all over the place preparing for
something that seems to be very very important. Well! Let's join
them and find out what's cooking.
the place is the Sri Sathya Sai Hill View Stadium. The people we
are talking about are the staff and the students of the Sri Sathya
Sai Institute of Higher Learning and the Sri Sathya Sai Higher
Secondary School. And they are all preparing for a big, really
big, event - the Annual Sports and Cultural Meet,
2003-04, which is to be celebrated here on the 11th of January
No wonder the place is in such a state of activity. This time of
the year is always like this. You can find the students slogging
it out there. And they are joined by the staff of the Institute.
Irrespective of their age, you will find almost every member of
the Institute and the School on the grounds. You will find the
teachers encouraging their students and supervising
guiding them in what they are doing.
You will find the students involved in a wide array of activities.
Every morning you will find them going for a regular round of
jogging and exercises. This is followed by the march past training
session. And then the practice session for the cultural programme
that the students present every 11th of January begins.
The students are divided into groups according to the event they
have chosen to participate in. So you will find someone riding a
motorbike only on its rear wheel, or jumping through rings (which
will be on fire on the D-day). You might have to watch out for a
young boy rolling past you on a pair of roller blades. You will
find a group of dedicated gymnast practicing their skills at
vaulting and flipping and doing all those back bending things that
could watch (from a safe distance) another group of students
practicing martial arts. You will find them breaking bricks with
bare hands, kicking and breaking more bricks placed well above
their own heights and all sorts of fantastic things. Those with
dancing skills practice their art in another end of the ground.
And a good number are busy preparing the colourful and, sometimes,
gigantic sets (which have risen more than thirty feet from the
ground on occasions) or the torch vehicle (which carries the flame
to the top of the hill).
And all these things are learnt by the students (some of them
learning these things for the first time) within the space of
thirty days. Students put themselves through gruelling training
sessions to master their respective arts in the shortest time
possible and prepare themselves to display their newly learnt
skills in Bhagawan's presence.
The teachers surely inspire the students to give their best. But
the greatest inspiration comes directly from the Divine Chancellor
of the Institute. It is a celebration when He comes to the Hill
View Stadium early morning to see how the students are faring.
First Bhagawan sees the march past. He sees and comments on a
student who is not correctly swinging his arms while marching or
the squad leader who does not shout out his command properly. His
enthusiasm to see the various programmes prepared by the students
is infectious. The students run to the centre of the performing
area to show Bhagawan what they have learnt. And then rush back
faster to listen to Bhagawan's views. Bhagawan with His comments
raises the level of the programme very high.
The best part of Bhagawan's visits is when all the students gather
around Him and He talks to some of the staff or students. Those
seeing from a distance often see the entire gathering burst out
with laughter on occasions. Bhagawan, with His divine wit and
humour livens up the occasion and lifts the
of the students who are physically tired and mentally strained
after the day's hard practices. Bhagawan's rejuvenating visit
prepares them to train even harder before He sees their
performance again the next time.
Even if Bhagawan does not go to the ground to see the practices,
He enquires about them in the Mandir. He insists that He be kept
up to date with the latest happenings on the grounds. Every
evening, in the Mandir, He interacts with the students and showers
them with love and joy. He lovingly enquires from some of the
students about the event they are involved in. He even discusses
the risk factor in some of the stunts that students perform and
advices the students to take appropriate care to avoid any
untoward incidents. At times He has even cut out some risky items
for the safety of the students.
If you were to ask any student why he was doing what he was doing,
you would get a uniform answer, "To please Swami". Well that is
what sums up all that goes into the sports meet. It is this very
drive that fills every student with the energy that is required to
do all that they do. It is to make Swami happy that students are
willing to go to any extreme. All that happens on the 11th of
January, every year is with this one motive.
As with all activities linked to Bhagawan, the Sports Meet too
carries with it many lessons for the students. Bhagawan often
says, "Bend the body. Mend the mind. End the senses." The Sports
Meet drills in this very lesson. The physical fitness that it
demands does a world of good to the students' bodies. The one
pointed concentration that some events require boosts the maturity
of the young minds. The students give up rest and sleep during
this month - a form of sense control - to give their best on the
The most important lesson is that of dedicating every deed to God.
The students do not take individual credit for what they do. They
do everything so that they can make Swami happy. This attitude of
doing things with the aim of pleasing Swami goes a long way in
shaping the character of the students. Knowingly or unknowingly,
the most important lessons that students learn during their stay
at the Institute are learnt during the Sports Meet.
Surely the Sports Meet is the among most important events on the
Institute calendar for more than one reasons.
Radio Sai E-Magazine,
January 1, 2004