Sai Baba Sri Sathya Sai Baba

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Reports of events from the Sai Baba Ashrams


Report on Educare Conference
17th & 18th August, 2005


An International Conference on the subject 'Education in the 21st Century: Education to Educare' was organized at Prasanthi Nilayam on the 17th and 18th of August this year, under the aegis of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. Many eminent educationists and administrators were invited to participate in the deliberations and share their views, experience and expertise, under the overall direction and guidance of the revered Chancellor of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

The inaugural session of the conference was conducted on the morning of 17th August at Sai Kulwant Hall. Bhagawan arrived in the colourfully decorated hall at 8 a.m. amidst intoning of Vedic hymns by the students. The delegates, who had taken their places on the dais, rose up to receive Bhagawan in their midst. The proceedings commenced with Sri Anil V. Gokak, Vice-Chancellor, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, welcoming the delegates and Hon. Justice M.N.Venkatachaliah, the Chief Guest of the conference. Justice Venkatachaliah is a well renowned figure in Indian judicial circles, having held several key positions including the Chief Justice of India, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, and Chairman of the Constitution Review Committee.

Justice Venkatachaliah, in his inaugural address outlined the problems bedevilling modern society and presented a historical perspective of the evolution of human society in the past three centuries. Some of the more pressing problems that society is faced with today are the ethic neutrality of science and dehumanization of wealth and power, he said. Man believes that Nature is for him to conquer. But, this is a fundamental error because man himself is a part of the very nature he aspires to conquer. This is not to say that science & technology have not been beneficial to mankind. On the contrary, it has vastly improved the living conditions of people. Knowledge, wealth and power are not evil by themselves, but become so by wrong use. He punctuated this with a quip, "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance!" He said that this conference has not come a moment too late and nor could a more appropriate venue be chosen than Prasanthi Nilayam where the greatest experiment in love, service and compassion is underway. The learned speaker concluded his talk with an observation that in the presence of such a hallowed personage as Bhagawan, it is better to maintain silence and appreciate and absorb His teaching and message.

Consenting to the prayers of those assembled in the hall, Bhagawan granted His divine discourse. He clearly delineated the roles of secular and spiritual knowledge saying that worldly knowledge should culminate in the acquisition of spiritual wisdom, that alone constitutes complete education. "The End of Education is Character", Baba said. Unless one cultivates love, humility and a helping nature, there is no use of education. Self-awareness is true education; it is within oneself and not to be acquired through books. "Ekameva Adwitheeyam Brahma" (There is only Divinity, not two). Everyone refer to themselves as "I"; and this "I" that is common to everyone is the Atma. In order to realize one's divinity, one must first practice the lessons of unity and purity. Dhyana (meditation) is achieved by unity of the five senses and purity by cultivating love. One must understand the fundamental unity of all creation and develop love towards everybody. That alone can grant us a life of joy and bliss. Bhagawan concluded His discourse with the Bhajan ? "Prema Muditha Man Se Kaho..." He then graciously and lovingly presented mementoes to all the delegates. Then, the participants assembled in the Administrative Block of the University to continue their deliberations.

In the afternoon, two students presented the summaries of the deliberations of the forenoon session. Following this, there was a presentation by the senior students of the Institute, entitled 'There is only one caste, the caste of Humanity. There is only one religion, the religion of Love'. It depicted the origin, teachings and beliefs of the major religions of the world and how each one of them was designed by God for the uplift of man, according to the specific time and circumstances. Though they may vary in their external rituals and observances, the underlying teachings are the same. This concept was brought out very lucidly in a scene where four salesmen are promoting the same product ? coloured candles. Although all the candles give the same light, each one was packaged differently and each salesman proclaimed his product to be the best and promoted his product in his unique way. This is not quite unlike what may be happening in the socio-religious realm of the world today. At the end of the presentation, Bhagawan lovingly granted photos to the participants and accepted Arati before retiring to His residence.

The next day, after the morning darshan and bhajan session in the mandir, the participants adjourned to the Institute Administrative Block for a session that was chaired by Sri Venu Srinivasan, Chairman & Managing Director, TVS Motors Ltd. In the afternoon, everyone assembled in the Sai Kulwant Hall to attend the Valedictory ceremony of the conference. After Bhagawan had granted darshan and was seated on the dais, the Vice-Chancellor of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Sri A.V.Gokak, made a few introductory remarks and invited Sri Sanjay Sahni, Principal, Brindavan Campus of the Institute, to conduct the proceedings. Sri Sahni, then, welcomed the Chief Guest for the occasion Mrs. Kumud Bansal, Secretary, Primary & Secondary Education, Government of India. He also introduced the speakers for the valedictory session of the conference.

The first two speakers were students from the Post graduate classes, who read out the summaries of the day's proceedings of the conference. Following the summaries, Sri Sanjay Mahalingam, a Research Scholar from the Department of Management of the Institute began by quoting from an open letter sent by a World War II survivor to 'the teachers of the world'. The author of the letter had witnessed unspeakable horrors perpetrated by engineers, doctors and nurses during his incarceration in a concentration camp. These men and women who had been trained to serve society were now engaged in merciless killing. He refers to them as 'learned monsters' and 'intelligent psychopaths' in his poignant letter. He concludes with an appeal to all teachers that they must educate their students such that they become more human. Sri Mahalingam said that if today the field of education presents a bleak scenario, the system of education laid out by Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba holds out a promise of a brighter tomorrow. He drew the attention of the audience to the many accomplishments of the students of the university ? the stupendous feats of adventure and endurance that students display during the Annual Sports and Cultural Meet and the numerous distinctions secured by the students in national level examinations, a case in point being the All India 1st rank secured by a student of the M.Sc. (Physics) course in the GATE examination conducted last year. He also referred to the upcoming alumni meet of the Department of Management of the university and noted that the former students of the university have done its alma mater proud not only by rising to high levels in the corporate world but also by their noble conduct and integrity that has earned them and the university, appreciation from the industry. But, Sri Mahalingam pointed out, it is not for achieving worldly success alone that Bhagawan has called His students to Himself. In the vision statement of the university given by Bhagawan Himself, He says, "The main purpose of this college is to help you cultivate self-awareness and self-confidence, so that each one of you can earn self-sacrifice and thus attain self-realization". It is this lofty goal that makes Bhagawan's students unique and very special, Sri Mahalingam concluded.

After the forceful and inspiring talk by Sri Sanjay Mahalingam, there was a speech by Sri Jagadish Chandra, who is currently pursuing his M.Phil (Physics) in Bio-Optics. He spoke about the human values of Sathya (Truth), Dharma (Righteousness), Shanti (Peace) and Prema (Love) and said that these are pillars of the edifice of Self-Realization. With anecdotes drawn from Bhagawan's teachings, he elaborated on the significance of human values in our daily lives. He said that the greatest inspiration on this path is Bhagawan Himself, for through His service projects such as the water projects and the super-speciality hospitals, He exemplifies these values. He said that it is the greatest fortune of students to acquire Bhagawan as their Master, for He with His selfless Love constantly mould the students to become better human beings and ultimately grants them the priceless gift of the Vision of the Self.

Sri S.V.Giri, former Vice-Chancellor of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, spoke on the uniqueness of the education system established by Bhagawan, that has been named by Him as 'Educare'. He said that the university orients the students towards social welfare and that education should never be removed from the context of society and its uplift. He further went on to say that the remarkable achievements of Bhagawan's educational system have to be replicated to benefit all humanity, and the Institute of Sathya Sai Education in Thailand and the Sathya Sai School in Zambia have proved that it is indeed possible even without Bhagawan being physically present, as His Grace and Compassion are not bound by the spatial limitations.

Smt. Kumud Bansal, Secretary to the Government of India, Dept. of Elementary Education and Literacy, who spoke next, observed that while discipline problems in the country's schools are not too many, the same cannot be said of the colleges and universities. The educational institutions run by Bhagawan hence stand out as an oasis in this respect, given the high caliber and conduct of the students of His university and prayed for His continued guidance and blessings.

The Vice-Chancellor of the university, Sri A.V. Gokak then presented his concluding remarks, thus bringing the curtains down on a truly enlightening conference that not only highlighted the problems faced by the modern day education system but also held out a ready solution in the form of the human values based approach adopted in Bhagawan's schools and colleges. The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning has already been acknowledged as the crest jewel among universities in India by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council and in their citation the Council mentions "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". Such conferences, that increase the awareness of the treasures that our ancient Bharatiya culture has to offer to modern society not just in the field of education but in other spheres too, are bound to have a snowballing effect that will transform the world we live in, and the dream of heaven on earth will then become a reality.

Jai Sai Ram!

http://srisathyasai.org.in/ website, 22nd August 2005


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