Living with God is true
education, January 12, 2004
all started innocently enough! Swami had just come out for the
Sunday morning darshan. The Sunday morning darshan is always a
little special, as all the students including the Primary and the
Secondary School students, both boys and girls, come to Sai
Kulwant Hall for the Divine darshan on this day.
As is His
wont, Swami came to the verandah to the sounds of Vedic chanting
by the students of the Sri Sathya Sai Institutes. Slowly He was
walking from one end of the verandah towards the other side to
talk and joke with the Primary School students. He happened to see
a High School student from overseas, chanting Vedas with full
feeling along with all His Indian brothers and fellow students.
Visibly impressed, Swami beckoned to him to come up and listened
carefully to the Sanskrit verses rolling easily off the tongue of
this young man from the United States.
Swami then asked him
to turn and face the crowd and continue the chanting in unison
with the rest of the boys. Perhaps Swami wanted to hold this young
man up as an example of how people from overseas come and drink
deep from the fathomless well that is the Bharatiya culture,
whereas Bharatiyas themselves neglect their cultural heritage and
go West in pursuit of the Almighty Dollar.
Swami then called
another young primary school student to come up and join this
young man. Pretty soon there was a collection of young students
with varied backgrounds reciting the Vedas in front of the
thousands who had assembled in Sai Kulwant Hall that morning. The
entire assembled crowd listened spell- bound and with rapt
Swami. He was bursting with pride that some of the very youngest
of His students could recite the Vedas with such ease and correct
diction. After all, an important facet of the Avataric mission is
Veda Poshana or the nourishment of the Vedas, enabling it to
flourish without restriction or hindrance.
But the story does
not end here. Swami then called an MBA college student from the
Institute and asked him to not only recite the Vedas but also
explain the meaning to the crowd. This young man recited and
explained the Narayana Upanishad, the story of how the supreme
person Narayana, willed to create all the beings. All things and
all beings emerged from Narayana. Everything is sustained by Him
and ultimately merges in Him.
Swami then called a
Sanskrit teacher and asked him to recite and explain from the
Purusha Suktham. This
mantra describes the greatness of the Purusha or the Cosmic
Person. It describes His omnipresence and omnipotence. From Him is
born the entire manifested Universe. From this Cosmic person, all
the Devas (Celestial Beings) are born. Then the Devas performed a
sacrifice (yagna). The Vasantha and the other seasons became the
offerings of this sacrifice. (Swami then asked the teacher to name
the six seasons, as they are not explicitly named in the mantra.
The teacher correctly replied ?Vasantha (Spring), Grishma
(Summer), Varsha (Rain), Sharad (Autumn), Hemantha(Spring), and
Shisira (Winter.) As there was nothing else, the Cosmic Person
Himself became the first ?animal? for the sacrifice. From that
Yagna is born everything. As the teacher explained this part,
Swami asked him, ?What is the meaning of Yagna?? The teacher
replied that Yagna or sacrifice refers to all the actions that we
do. Clarifying, Swami replied, ?Whatever we do, whatever we think,
whatever we utter, should be considered as the sacrifice. Without
expecting any fruit of the action, all actions must be offered to
God. That is the true Yagna?. What a simple explanation of one of
the most profound truth of the Vedas!
A subtle fact that
perhaps eluded most devotees present there, witness to the
progression of these events on that day, is Swami?s commentary on
education. At the ?primary school? level, it is enough to learn by
rote with perhaps some attention to diction. At a more advanced
?college? level, one should not only learn by rote but also
understand the meaning in full. At the ?post-graduate? or
?teacher? level, one should not only know the literal meaning but
also understand the inner significance. Additionally, the
?teacher? should also have a deep understanding of all connected
and related material. Compare this simple truth with the situation
prevalent today when all material is learnt by rote with the
examinations in view, and college students go to court if even one
question on their examination paper is from ?out of syllabus?.
the story still does not end. On a couple more occasions, Swami
asked the same young man from overseas to come up and recite in
front of the crowd. On one occasion, while the young man was
reciting, Swami called up the ?birthday boys? to come up and
receive His blessings. (Note: On their birthdays, the students
generally bring a tray with some cloves, dried fruits, and
chocolates, to be blessed as prasadam by Swami. They also utilize
this opportunity to give a letter to Swami or else have His
photograph autographed by Him). After blessing the birthday boys,
Swami asked the young man to stop, and said, ?Here boy, this
chocolate is for you?. The boy?s face lit up like a neon light,
especially happy that Swami had singled him out for this special
attention and glad that he was given the opportunity to contribute
his mite towards the Avataric mission.
still goes on. On New Year Day, Swami called the young man, yet
again, and asked him to chant facing the mammoth festival crowd.
Visibly nervous, he gamely did his best, closing his eyes to shut
the crowd out and concentrating hard on the recitation to please
his Lord. Swami also perhaps chose this most auspicious day and
setting to appropriately reward this young man who had served Him
well. Waving His hand, He manifested a beautiful gold chain and
personally put it around the neck of this young man. What a
beautiful lesson to managers that you should publicly praise and
reward everyone who has served you well.
The story also has
an interesting post-script. On January 12th, 2004, Swami gave a
sudden, but welcome, discourse in the morning. Touching upon a
topic very dear to His heart, He exhorted the students, ?You must
respect your parents, whoever they may be and in whatever
condition they may be. You must respect their words and obey their
commands, without any reservation. Then only you will be able to
command respect from society?. Furthermore, Swami went on to
explain that the ancient traditions of Bharat are meant to promote
humility, respect and reverence among people. He also explained
that one must strive to earn the ?grace? of God, whereas people
these days are craving only for the ?grass? of worldly desires.
Then calling this American boy to the dais, Swami said, ?This boy
is securing first class not only in studies but also in the study
of the Vedas. He has given immense joy to his parents with his
good behaviour. His father is very happy that his son has earned a
very good name and is appreciated by one and all?. Swami then
called the boy?s father, who was present in the crowd up to the
dais and asked him, ?Are you happy?? In a choked, emotion-filled
voice he replied, ?Very happy, Swami?. This moving scene is still
etched on everyone?s mind.
The sight of this
lanky Yankee kid with braces on his teeth, but profound Sanskrit
Vedic hymns on his tongue, and the sight of his equally tall
father answering Swami in a moving voice, provided a simple but
powerful imagery for the thousands to remember Swami?s teaching
that pleasing your parents is what pleases God the most.
Yes, verily living
with God is true education.
E-Magazine, February 15, 2004