It ends with character, not knowledge
IN RESPONSE to your editorial Dealing With Violence In Schools in your January 12 edition, I wish to share a concept worth considering, particularly as education is provided free from primary to tertiary level.
The following is a pledge required of each student at the Sai Institute in India, where education at all levels is provided free of charge, like in Barbados.
I hereby solemnly declare and promise that, if admitted to the degree for which I have been duly recommended, I will, in my daily life and conversation and in thought, word and deed, conduct myself as befits a member of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning; that I will, to the utmost of my capacity and opportunity, support the cause of sound learning, humanity, morality and spirituality; and that, as far as lies in me, I shall uphold and advance the social and, indeed all round welfare of my countrymen and fellow men.
The aim is to have students transformed both into academic, as well as community heroes, since, as Sai Baba says, “the end of education is not knowledge, but character”.
– LALU N. VASWANI, Chairman, Sai Institute of Education, WI (NationNews Reference)
Thursday, January 15, 2009
This evening was the last session for all the students of the Sai Educational Institutions to gather together in this Sankranti season. Bhagawan arrived at 5.30, and after a round of the hall as the Bhajans went on, sat onstage till He accepted Arati. The ‘Birthday boys’ were blessed for the last twenty minutes onstage before Swami accepted Arati after the 75 minute Bhajan session.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
The prize distribution function marking the end of the Annual Sports and Cultural Meet of the Sri Sathya Sai Educational Institutions was held this Sankaranthi morning in the Sai Kulwant Hall. After Bhagawan arrived and completed a round of the Hall seated in His special raised golden chair, the proceedings onstage got underway at 9.35 am. The girl student from the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School who secured all India rank in the XII class examination conducted by the CBSE was called onstage and felicitated. The medals and trophies of each of the campuses were then blessed by Bhagawan and the captains and vice-captains of each of the campuses came up to receive them. The distribution was followed by Bhagawan’s Divine Discourse. A couple of Bhajans followed, and the University brass band played a piece before Bhagawan accepted Arati and returned to His residence at 11.30 am.
In the evening, the Prasanthi Nilayam campus of the University presented a drama entitled ‘Sri Krishna Tatwa Darsanam’ in the Sai Kulwant Hall. Swami arrived at 5.15 for darshan and went to the Bhajan Hall for ten minutes of interaction with the students in costumes gathered there, following which the drama commenced at 5.30 pm. The 75 minute presentation brought out the message of the Krishna avatar to humanity through a series of episodes where He protected the Pandavas. Bhagawan came down from the stage and blessed the participants with group photographs after the moving drama. He then accepted Arati onstage and returned to His residence at 7.10 pm.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
After a day’s rest, the presentations by the students continued with a drama by the Brindavan campus this evening. Bhagawan arrived at five o’clock and after a round of the Kulwant Hall in the car, came to the Bhajan hall where the actors were ready in costumes. He interacted with them for 10 minutes, asking after many of the characters. The drama ‘Bhaktha Pothana’ got underway at 5.20 once Swami came onstage. The 70 minute extravaganza was filled with songs, dances and famous stanzas of Pothana and was embellished with a magnificient temple backdrop. Bhagawan was very pleased with their efforts and called them up for group photographs. Bhajans commenced and prasadam was distribued, and after a couple of bhajans Swami called up the Brindavan Warden and asked him to tell the students that He would soon come to Brindavan and make all of them happy. After one more photo session, Bhagawan accepted Arati at 7 o’clock before retiring for the day.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Bhagawan had come to the stadium in the mornings and in the evenings over the last few days, and had seen all the items to be presented by the students on the Sports Festival today. The morning programme commenced in the Vidyagiri stadium with Bhagawan arriving in a white robe just before 8.30 am. As He was escorted to the stage by the slow-march contingent, brass bands from Anantapur and Prasanthi Nilayam played marching music. This morning, the march-past of the Sai educational institutions with the torch-lighting ceremony was completed by 9.15 am. The torch was carried up the Hanuman hill by this year’s torch vehicle in the shape of a majestic Lion. The Prasanthi Nilayam, Anantapur and Brindavan campuses then completed their presentations in rapid succession by 11 o’clock, when Bhagawan accepted Arati and returned to His residence.
The evening presentation was by the Sri Sathya Sai Primary school, and Bhagawan arrived at the stadium by 4.15 pm. Swami was escorted into the Shanti Vedika stage by young cartwheeling gymnasts and their hour-long performance commenced with gusto. The younger children and the girls presented colourful mass items, and the boys presented gymnastics and roller-blading events. Bhagawan was very pleased with their presentation and blessed everyone profusely while returning to His residence after Arati at 5.20 pm.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Bhagawan went to the stadium both in the morning and in the evening yesterday, witnessing the students’ rehearsals there. As per His instructions, the Bhajans were held in the Sai Kulwant Hall instead of inside the Bhajan hall in the evenings. This evening, devotees from New Zealand presented a musical programme. The group of around a hundred performers were seated on either side of the stage. Bhagawan came for darshan at 4.50 pm and went into the interview room. He emerged at 5.10, and moving to the stage, moved down from the centre ramp to take a round of the ladies’ side in His chair interacting with many devotees. At 5.20, He came onstage to begin the musical programme. The first half of the programme consisted of Maori action songs. Most of the other songs were in English, with the last song being in Hindi and English. Bhagawan interacted with the lady who lead the Maori chants and blessed her with a chain at the end of the programme. Clothes were distributed to all the performers, and Bhagawan interacted with them for nearly twenty minutes before Bhajans commenced. Prasadam was distributed, and Swami accepted Arati at 6.20 pm before returning to His residence.
Monday, January 5, 2009
This evening, Bhagawan went to the stadium and watched the rehearsals of the students for the annual Sports and Cultural Meet events to be held on January 11. Seated on a raised platform near the front of Shanthi Vedika, Swami saw one hour of the practice session, seeing all except a couple of events and giving feedback on them. After He returned to the Mandir at 5.50, He sat in the Bhajan Hall for a couple of Bhajans before accepting Arati and returning to His residence.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
The Maharashtra youth were ready with a programme of songs this evening. Bhagawan came for darshan in the chair at 4.15 pm, and after a full round of Sai Kulwant Hall, sat onstage for a while before He went into the interview room to emerge at five o’clock for the programme. The ladies and gents sang half an hour respectively, with more than fifty singers in each group. The ladies’ songs were themed on the ideal ladies mentioned by Bhagawan in His Discourses, and during each song, children came up to present brief tableaux right in front of Swami. The gents sang Abhangs and also songs composed and sung by Bhagawan in the early days. After the programme, Swami came down from the stage and distributed clothes to some of the performers. He also sat among them for group photographs. After He came onstage, clothes were distributed to all, and the lady singers led bhajans as prasadam was distributed. Swami accepted Arati and returned to His residence after 6.30 pm.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Today, the Maharashtra youth presented the second day of their programmes, with a sitar concert by Sri Neeladri Kumar and party. Bhagawan arrived for evening darshan and went into the interview room, emerging at 5.15 to commence the programme onstage. After a couple of pieces of fusion sitar music, Bhagawan blessed the artistes with clothes and the main performer with a ring. They performed one more piece including individual performances by the drumkit, tabla and mridangam artistes before Bhagawan accepted Arati at 6.10 pm.
Friday, January 2, 2009
The Sai Youth from Maharashtra are here in large numbers, seated as a group in Sai Kulwant Hall with their orange scarves. This evening, they were to present a programme of songs and a drama. Bhagawan arrived at around 5.30 pm and went into the interview room, emerging after twenty minutes to come onstage and begin the programme. The Maharashtra youth first brought up a series of lamps lit from various districts and offered them to Swami to the accompaniment of a song. Next was a 45 minute play on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Bhagawan blessed the participants with group photographs after the programme with the backdrop of the Red Fort and a huge tri-colour. Twenty minutes of Bhajans followed, led first by the Maharashtra youth and later by the students, while prasadam was distributed. It was 7.30 when Bhagawan accepted Arati and returned to His residence.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
The Sai Students – alumni of Prasanthi Nilayam and Brindavan – were ready to escort Bhagawan from His residence to Sai Kulwant Hall in a procession with flag marchers and Poornakumbham with Vedam. Swami arrived just before 10 am in a dazzling white robe seated on a golden chair, granting New Year darshan to the devotees who filled and surrounded Sai Kulwant Hall. When He reached the verandah, Bhagawan blessed the cakes there and came onstage to begin the programme arranged by the Sai Students. A band programme with symphonic and vocal accompaniment was followed by songs composed for the occasion by the Sai Students. The whole programme was interspersed with short speeches by the alumni, reliving their days with Sai. A bhajan medley formed the score for a short dance programme too. Swami blessed the participants who came up to Him one by one, and after prasadam was distributed, accepted Arati at 11.35 am.
Bhagawan arrived in the evening for darshan clad in a deep red robe. When He came onstage just before 5.30 pm, He blessed the brass band of the University to perform, and they played a couple of pieces with brief introductions. Songs by the students followed. Swami called up some of the alumni singers and asked them to sing, and they sang some of the group songs which used to be sung by the students in the mid-90s. After 45 minutes of music, Bhagawan delivered His Divine Message. Bhagawan’s emphasised the message of Advaita, stressing the point that there is nothing in this world which is not divine, and that we should conduct ourselves bearing this in mind. After speaking for more than 70 minutes, Bhagawan asked for Bhajans to begin at 7.25 pm. Prasadam was distributed, and Swami accepted Arati at 7.45 before returning to His residence.