Parents must set the best example

Parents must set the best example

Sai Reflections
Published: 18 Nov 2009

The following words (author unknown) are worth pondering over:

If a child lives with criticism,
he learns to condemn
If a child lives with hostility,
he learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule,
he learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame,
he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance,
he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement,
he learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise,
he learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness,
he learns justice.
If a child lives with security,
he learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval,
he learns to like himself.

If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find love. Praise is good, but don’t overdo it: It has at last been realised that a child does need some encouragement and praise but, like most things, this can be overdone. Give praise when it is due, but don’t shower praise on shoddy work and half-baked efforts. Your child is no fool, and knows perfectly well that it could have done much better, and so loses respect for your judgement if you are too easily satisfied. It is much more helpful to examine the work carefully (whether picture, homework, sandcastle, or anything else) praise the good parts, then give constructive hints on how it could be improved.

In that way, the child will appreciate that you have shown genuine interest, while, at the same time, being encouraged to do better. One needs to build the child’s self confidence, but giving praise where it is not due can produce the opposite result. The child can become addicted to praise and, when it is not forthcoming, a feeling of insurmountable inadequacy then often takes over. The need for ideals: Our aim should always be to prepare our children for life. This means giving them ideals, self-confidence, adherence to values, consideration for others, and the courage to face difficulties. But this also implies that you, yourselves, must practice these virtues. Sathya Sai Baba: “People want happiness in the family, but they fail to lead exemplary lives. The fault lies with both the husband and the wife. If children have taken to wrong paths these days, the parents alone are responsible, as they are not exemplary in their behaviour either.”

Children learn by example: As Sathya Sai Baba says elsewhere, “Parents must set good examples for their children. Parents talk of honesty, but they utter lies in the presence of their children, and even encourage them to speak falsehood. The father, while at home, asks the child to tell the unwelcome visitor that he is not at home! The child is thus taught his first lesson in prevarication by the father himself. There is no use blaming the child if he grows into a social menace.” It is natural for children to imitate the grown-ups around them; that is how they learn. It is no use scolding your child for using some four-letter word that you, yourself, use at every turn. By all means correct the child, but say also that you realise that you must correct yourself as well; you can even ask him to help you correct yourself—he will be very good at it, and you might even succeed in breaking the habit! Sathya Sai Baba: “You should have proper control over your children, but first of all you must have control over yourself. Only when the father is good, can he expect his son to be good. Is it possible for him to keep his son at home if he, himself, roams about as he pleases and goes to places that he should avoid?”

Compiled by Sathya Sai Institute of Education West Indies.

Trinibad And Tobago Guardian Reference


Sai Baba birthday celebrations

The Sai Nilayam at No. 113, New Chetty Street, Colombo 13 will celebrate the 84th birthday of Sri Sathya Sai Baba on November 23. The program will commence at 5 a.m. The inter-religious flag hoisting ceremony will commence at 9 a.m. and special poojas and bajan will be held the full day. A Sai Chariot Procession will be held on the November 22 at 6 p.m.

Daily News Reference

Why Are We So Desperate About Exceeding The Speed Limit?

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba


Why Are We So Desperate About Exceeding The Speed Limit?

Loving Sai Ram, and greetings from Prashanti Nilayam.

We are sure the title of today’s piece would intrigue you. Undoubtedly, questions like: “What speed limit?”, “who is exceeding it?” etc., are crossing your mind right now. In a minute, we shall address them, but first we would like to mention that this particular Sunday Special is inspired directly by a profound remark that Swami made in one of His daily Divine Discourses, during the recently-concluded Athi Rudra Maha Yajnam. Sathya Sai Baba of course always says profound things but two remarks of His in one of these daily Discourses attracted our special attention and what follows is the result.

Sathya Sai Baba said : “Man today is living life at a dangerously fast pace. This is not good for him.” The second remark is in a sense related to the above and we shall come to that later. For now, let us spend a few minutes on the above remark. For people who are young, the pace of modern life may appear normal but that would be because they have never experienced anything else. If we go back say forty years, and we are sure many of our readers can do that, then it would be recalled that life moved then at a much slower pace than at present. In fact, in the West life had become so comfortable with newer and newer labour-saving gadgets, that many speculated that soon there would be four or even three-day working weeks, the rest of the week being available for leisure and relaxation. People even went to the extent of drawing up various schemes for how to get the maximum out of this bonus of leisure that seemed just a few years away down the road.

But suddenly all that changed and today, people are not only working more than ever before but at a more furious pace too. Several factors, both market forces and technology, working together, have brought about this huge change in style and mind-set. In terms of technology, the phenomenal growth of TV, especially via cable and satellite TV, the advent of the internet and the mobile, the emergence and the dominance of the PC, appearing later in many forms like the laptop, Palm-pilot and so forth have made people madly rush here and there, doing many things they did not do before.

As for market forces, the emergence of the so-called service sector has a lot to do with it. There are many angles to this and we certainly cannot go into all of that here but let us consider one example. Earlier, people manufactured goods in one place and from there they shipped these goods to all parts of the world. This still happens but the manufacturing sector is no longer the only dominant contributor to global economy. There is now, a very strong sector called the service sector, where tasks play the role of components in the manufacturing industry. Take the auto industry. To build a car, one needs many ancillary components like spark plugs, tyres, windscreens and so on. Big manufacturers like Ford, did not make all these; instead, they procured them from satellite industries and to start with, most of these industries were located not far from the main manufacturing plant to reduce cost and time of transportation. But when it came to tasks, the ballgame changed, to use a common metaphor.

The service sector revolves largely around tasks. Say there is a physician in America . He sees many patients and notes down his findings. He then dictates his remarks into a Dictaphone. Later, his secretary listens to the recording, types the remarks and makes out a record of patient data. This is the way things worked for years, until the communication, revolution that is.

When the revolution occurred many said:

“This task of transcribing the doctor’s remarks and preparing reports – it could be done cheaper in India than in America . People might ask what about the huge distance? Well, in the internet age, distance is no problem. All the doctor has to do is to send his recordings to India by internet. And there, a service provider will arrange to have the recordings transcribed, reports prepared and have the reports sent back to the doctor’s office in America . Thanks to the 10-12 hour time difference, the doctor there can go home in the evening after sending his recordings to India . While he sleeps, the job is done and by the time he is back in his office next morning, the reports are all ready, sitting in his computer. All he has to do is to print them. And the cost of all this would be much cheaper than hiring a secretary.”

That is how tasks have become mobile. As everyone knows, so many tasks can be shipped overseas. This includes answering customer calls, helping with on-line travel bookings and so on. All this is fine but how on earth does it affect life style? That is not difficult to understand. Consider just one example, the Call-centre business. There are a huge number of them in India and people working in these are young people, most of them between the ages 20 and 30. They are awake throughout the night, night after night. This strains the body and when they get a break, the young people try to wind down by “living it up”; they can do it too because they have money to “enjoy”. This goes on week after week and soon the body begins to feel the strain due to sustained irregular hours, lack of sleep, serious disturbances to body rhythm and so on. When these people get married, the problems multiply immediately. And when children come things get even worse.

A large part of the IT industry revolves almost entirely around tasks, and since tasks are very mobile, there is automatically a lot of tension. The customer say in America can easily switch the task from India to China or Philippines or whatever. For the customer, it is all a case of who offers the best deal. But for the vendor of services, it is a tense existence. The people in the IT industry have to do a lot of travelling, frequently across continents, which is not as exciting as it might seem, especially when one is in a highly competitive industry.

The stress spreads across the board. Parents want their offspring to be successful and highly competitive. So they try to get them into the best schools even though the fees may be prohibitive. While the parents work hard to make the money needed, the children have to slog to get into the school. Indeed, even getting into Kindergarten has become a highly competitive affair, so much so kids of the age of five are now beginning to be stressed heavily.

Travel business is soaring but at the same time thanks to rising costs, especially of oil, many airlines are losing heavily. So people in the airline business are beginning feel the strain heavily. Faced with losses, many airlines in America are asking their staff to take pay cuts, which of course the staff is not willing to accept.

And so on it goes. Influenced by advertisements, people buy heavily on credit and when they are not able to pay the monthly installments, all kinds of problems arise. In short, people are working much more, faced with great job insecurity. In many countries, they have to hold several jobs to make both ends meet.

The point is that the thanks to all these post-1980 events, life has become very fast, subjecting all those caught in the rat race to face immense stress. The worst part of it that due to percolation effect, all members of the family including kids get heavily stressed. And that is what Sathya Sai Baba was commenting about.

One might argue, “Listen. We know all this. The point simply is that life has become complicated. Fast pace is inevitable. There is nothing we can do about it.” We agree that there is some truth about it. But if we reflect calmly and carefully, then we would be forced to the conclusion, that if we take seriously Sathya Sai Babas’s advice on Ceiling on Desires, then automatically, the stress level we have to face can and indeed would come down.

Many would hotly contest this, arguing “What on earth does ceiling on desires have anything to do with it?” Well, consider this simple example. Highly stressed people want desperately to make the maximum of the weekend breaks, vacation etc. They furiously make all kinds of travel plans, rush from work to vacation and then rush back to work when the break is over. In other words, even vacation has become a rush! In fact, many in America take their so-called Black-berries with them while on vacation; result, even vacation becomes tense, thanks to business pressures!

We would not dwell on this anymore, leaving you to think about it. May be we have not put across the arguments properly and convincingly and there is a better way of explaining what Swami means. We would certainly welcome hearing from you. Let us now move on to the second point made by Swami in the Discourse referred to earlier. Swami said that the body is no ordinary thing but a special “dress” worn by the Indweller; in other words, said Swami, the body is the dress of God. And this “dress” must not be soiled by misusing the body; and let us remember that these days, people have no inhibitions about misusing the body, in fact in every possible way.

Suppose a person has an expensive suit, say costing $3,000/-. We gather that three are suits that expensive! OK, so a person is wearing such a suit. Does one expect that person to say allow ketchup to spill on to his suit while he is eating? Will the person wear the suit and walk in the rain along a muddy road? And yet, when we look carefully at all the things we tend to do, often unthinkingly, making the body grow obese, straining the eyes beyond limit by excessive TV watching, and so on, we would be able to understand what Swami means. In fact in the Gita, Krishna too says something similar. He says fools ill treat the body by excessive starving saying they are observing austerities when in fact they are torturing Him!

So if we put it all together, simply by leading an unnecessarily fast life, we are driving the body far beyond the pace it was designed by the Creator for. Moreover, the body that we most casually tend to misuse does not belong to us; it is God’s Dress. Our Ego makes us think it is “ours” and leads us to believe that the body being ours we can do what we want with it including leading a fast life.

Sorry, the body is NOT “ours” and we just cannot do what we want with it, least of all, drive it a pace it was NOT designed for. Well, that is how we understood the essential point of Sathya Sai Baba’s Discourse.

With Love and Regards,
“Heart2Heart” Team

How Much Salary Does A Man Really Need?

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba


How Much Salary Does A Man Really Need?

Loving Sai Ram and greetings from Prashanti Nilayam. The title of this week’s letter is inspired by a famous story of Tolstoy entitled, HOW MUCH LAND DOES A MAN NEED? And the motivation for the theme? Read on to find out!

This is the time of the year when our newspapers and TV channels are full of news about graduates of our Brand Business Schools, who get fabulous offers from overseas, with annual salaries touching as high as $200,000. The Public is just floored by this phenomenon – fresh graduates getting this kind of fat salaries. Understandably, these young men and women instantly become heroes and heroines and their pictures are flashed everywhere. The Directors of the Business Schools beam from ear to ear, Professors who taught these graduates are full of pride, and hundreds of young people look admiringly, hoping soon it would be their turn to reach El Dorado.

Recently, we asked some of the students of the Business School here in Swami’s University what they thought of it all. We had a long discussion, starting with the curriculum and teaching, and then went on to discuss various related factors. In this letter, we would like to share with you some of what we heard and learnt from our students. This in essence is what they said:

  • In academic terms, there is really no substantial difference between the Business School in our Institute and these so-called Brand Institutes. The syllabus is more or less the same, and we too study the same books.
  • There are differences though. For one thing, in the Brand Business Schools, the students get more exposure to many practical details of today’s business world. We on the other hand get an entirely different orientation, which has its own value.
  • Learning about some of the intricacies of today’s business world does give some tactical advantages to the graduates in terms of entry into high-profile corporations. On the other hand, we learn, especially in a very practical way, more about humans, the way they behave, their aspirations and so on. In the long run, this experience is invaluable in its own way. After all, in the ultimate analysis, business is always done with human beings and Society is the real market place. Thus, when it comes to matters like really dealing with customers, and having a good appreciation of what it is that the public wants, we are much better equipped.
  • For the students of the Brand Schools, the horizon often is the Corporation they are in. For them, the shareholders are very important. For us, Society is everything, and the stakeholders, meaning the public at large are very important.
  • In the Brand Institutes, the bulk of the training is in the classrooms. For us, however, the bulk of the training is really outside the classroom.
  • To start with, our Hostel is where we learn most of our lessons, because it is truly a microcosm of Society.
  • In the Hostel, we are about ten or twelve to a room. Compared to other colleges, this might sound horrible. On the other hand, once one gets used to this, the experience is like living in a commune and teaches many valuable lessons.
  • The Hostel authorities make sure that in every room, we have a good mix of students from different regions, speaking different languages, studying different subjects and from different strata in life. Living in the same room, sleeping on the floor, and working with our brothers all the time on all matters relating to the Hostel and the College teaches us how to be austere, how to adjust, how to co-operate instead of aggressively competing, how to help each other, and so on. It shapes our personality in a subtle but very significant manner, for the better, we believe.
  • Another important thing about our Hostel. Compared to other Hostels elsewhere, our Hostel has very few service staff and as a result, the students literally run most of the activities in the Hostel. For example, all minor electrical repairs and plumbing repairs are done by the students themselves. When a boy is sick, other boys prepare special food for the sick boy, as prescribed by the doctor.
  • In effect, all labour is shared. The boys serve in the dining hall, they take care of the Hostel library and computer centre, they take care of the intercom, the audio system, they stitch costumes needed for plays and the Institute Dramas, they have a music group which takes care of the Bhajans and special music needed so often for various occasions, they take care of decorations when required, and so on.
  • These multiple skills come to the fore during the Annual Sports and Festival Meet, when very complex structures are designed and created by the boys, entirely on their own. This calls for skills such as welding, papier-mâché work, a bit of automation and so on.
  • Indeed, our Annual Sports and Cultural Festival, offers the best commentary on the training that we receive in the Hostel. It is absolutely unique, the like of which cannot be seen in any University in India, because where else do students get such training? It is only those who have actually witnessed the event who would able to appreciate what an all-round training we receive in terms of character development, self-reliance, working in harmony with others and so on.
  • Elsewhere in the world, Business Schools operate so as to throw up some stars and a large number of ‘lesser’ mortals. In our Institute we have a unique system in operation in the Hostel. The principle is that everyone has some talent in high measure and that person must therefore be encouraged to make use of that talent for common good.
  • Thus, one boy may be very good in sports and be the Institute Sports Captain. Here he is the leader and others follow him. But this same Captain might be in the Bhajan group, which has its own leader. This happens across the board, so much so everyone learns simultaneously to lead from the front, as also to follow. This is a very unique kind of leadership training that teaches everyone to lead and also to follow by listening to others.
  • Hostel is not everything, and we must not forget Sathya Sai Baba, who is the One that really shapes us, in so many different ways too. Take, for example, our daily visits to the Mandir for Darshan. You know, it takes a lot of discipline to sit quietly on the ground for hours, without fidgeting. That is a special training in itself; it teaches patience.
  • When we are in the Mandir, what we eagerly look forward to is at least a glance from Swami, and those fleeting glances do come. Others might not notice them but we never miss. Sometimes, it is a stern glance to a boy whose monkey mind is up to no good. At other times, it is a glance of immense love and compassion, assuring the receiver that He is there to help in tiding over the looming crisis. On other occasions, the glance is wrapped up in that matchless smile of Grace that everyone yearns for. Over the years, all these things add up in a most effective and miraculous way and that cannot be lightly dismissed.
  • We must also not forget how Swami gives us so many chances, like singing Bhajans, or distributing Prasaadam or presenting skits, opportunities to speak in His Divine presence, sing songs on festival mornings and so on.
  • When Prime Ministers and Presidents come here for ceremonial occasions, who is it that is in charge of hospitality services? Students of Bhagavan, both old [now serving as teachers] and new! And how meticulously Sathya Sai Baba instructs those in charge of service! Does this happen elsewhere?
  • In every possible way, we here get trained for life in such a manner that it enables us to fit in wherever we go. An important part of the training is the Annual Grama Seva or Village Service. Where else do you see the entire faculty and students working for ten to twelve days at a stretch, cooking food, packing the food, and carrying the food, sweets and clothes to over a hundred villages, visiting every house in every village and hamlet, and distributing all this with love and compassion.This exposure gives us a deep feeling for rural India, without which urban India would be nowhere. Indeed, it has changed the outlook of many students who wanted to go abroad, inducing them to stay back and serve the country.
  • Above all, what we learn every single minute is the importance of character and integrity in life.
  • People ask: ‘Does Truth work in the dog-eat-dog business world’? It does because, increasingly, Corporations prefer transparency, and integrity in professional work. In this respect, we actually have an enormous advantage over the graduates of the Brand Institutes.
  • People ask: ‘Why does not your Institute have placement service’? The answer is simple. Firstly, placement deflects the attention of students from studies to money. Swami is very clear that students must study for leading a proper life and not for making money. Secondly, stripped of the glamour attached, placement is like an auction! We value knowledge and education, and do not think knowledge should be degraded in this manner. This is quite contrary to the noble traditions of this country.
  • People ask: ‘Look, the graduates of the Brand Institutes are grabbed by the big corporations paying huge sums. What about you fellows? Do you get jobs with such fat salaries’? Our answer is simple. First of all, it must be noted that barring half a dozen ‘top stars’, the bulk of students elsewhere get the same kind of jobs and salaries as our boys do. In fact, over the years, big companies in India have come to learn that Sai students 1) are not attracted by salaries, but by the desire to learn through experience; 2) easily adjust to the work assigned instead of bargaining for work they like; 3) are loyal to the employer and do not jump jobs simply because someone offers a slightly higher salary; 4) are very good team players instead of being temperamental prima donnas. 5) Finally, Sai students actually improve the corporation they serve by making it a better corporate citizen. Thus, Sai students have their own ‘market value’.
  • This is not all. Sathya Sai Baba says, ‘You are what you are because of Society. So, when you go out into the world, make sure you serve Society.’ Thus, for Sai Baba’s students, serving Society is the main goal in life, and this they do in many ways. Firstly, wherever they are, they work for their employer in the true sprit of Karma Yoga. Next, they use every spare moment to go out into Society and assist those in need of help. Some go the villages during weekend and do all kinds of Seva. Some run medical camps, and so on.
  • Mind you, all this goes on throughout the year, very quietly, without any prompting from anyone. Do you know, for example, one of Swami’s students who is in Nigeria, works in a Leper Camp during his free time, actually dressing the diseased limbs of lepers. Can you find one such example from students who have graduated from all the famous institutions in the world.

The above is only a small sampling of what our students told us. In quoting all this, we do not want to give the impression that our students are vain and look down upon others. Far from it; we asked a question concerning this matter, and they simply said, ‘Other Business Schools train students to play a certain role in life, whereas Swami trains us for something different.’ And to drive home the point that they do not pose as being holier than others they added:

  1. In God’s Universe, everything has a purpose, and every individual plays his or her own assigned role in the never-ending Cosmic Drama. Thus, we do not criticise or condemn the graduates who have studied elsewhere. If some of them are offered big and attractive salaries, so be it for that also is what the Good Lord has willed. For us, that same Good Lord has given other instructions, and over here, we are trained to follow those instructions when we go out into the world.
  2. We have no right to condemn others even as we have no right to praise ourselves. God has given every one a role to play; others play their roles and we play ours. In the ultimate analysis, who is to say which is better? But this much we do know: If we live with integrity and offer everything to God, there can be nothing better. This is possible for both the king and the pauper. The good thing about our Institute is that we are constantly reminded of this truth, and that is what makes us different. And we are mighty happy to be different, for this is a difference money cannot buy. So, why should we complain?!

Well, we were quite amazed to have this incisive analysis of the nature of Sathya Sai Baba’s University and the Business School of the University in particular. What do you say? Do you agree or is there something our boys have missed? Do write and tell us please; we would welcome your comments!

With Love and Regards,
“Heart2Heart”
RadioSai’s e-Journal Team,
In Sai Service

Got A Minute To Spare To Listen About Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba


Got A Minute To Spare To Listen About Sathya Sai Baba?

Loving Sai Ram, and greetings from Prasanthi Nilayam.

This Sunday we would like you to spare a minute to read the following three quotations, all of which relate to education:

EINSTEIN:
I want to oppose the idea that school has to teach directly that special knowledge and those accomplishments, which man has to use later directly in life. The demands of life are much too manifold to let a specialized training in school appear possible. Apart from that, it seems to me, moreover, objectionable to treat the individual like a dead tool. The school always has as its aim that the young man leaves it as a harmonious personality not as a specialist…. It is not enough to teach a man a speciality. Through it, he may become a kind of useful machine, but not a harmoniously developed personality. It is essential that the student acquire an understanding of and a lively feeling for values. He must acquire a vivid sense of the beautiful and of the morally good. Otherwise, he with his specialized knowledge more closely resembles a well-trained dog than a harmoniously developed person.

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA:
Is that education, which slowly makes a man into a machine? It is more blessed in my opinion, even to go wrong impelled by one’s free will and intelligence than to be good as an automaton. ….The education that does not help the common mass of people to equip themselves for the struggle for life, which does not bring about strength of character, a spirit of philanthropy, and courage of a lion – is it worth the name?

SISTER NIVEDITA:
Our concept of education must have a soul. It must form a unity. It must take note of the child as a whole, as heart as well as mind. Unless we train the feelings and the choice, man is not educated. He is only decked out in certain intellectual tricks that he has learnt to perform. By those tricks, he can earn bread. He cannot appeal to the heart, or give life. He is not a man at all; he is a clever ape. Learning in order to be clever or learning in order to earn a livelihood – not in order to become a man to develop one’s own manhood and manliness – means running into danger. Therefore, in every piece of information imparted to a child, we must convey an appeal to the heart. … There is one way and one way only. It is, throughout the early years of education, to remember that there is nothing so important as feelings. To feel nobly, and to choose loftily and honestly, is a thousand-fold more important to the development of faculty than any other single aspect of the educational process.

Three different quotes from three different people, but echoing very similar sentiments. We presume you must be familiar with the first two names. The third one might not be so familiar; it is the name of an English lady who came nearly a hundred years ago to India in search of spiritual enlightenment, discovered Swami Vivekananda, and settled down to become his disciple, adopting the name Nivedita. Her example recalls the names of two others, namely, Annie Besant whose name would for ever would be associated with the Theosophy movement in India and Mira Ben who became an ardent follower of Gandhi.

Getting back to the quotes, they all, each in its own way of course, convey the same message which is:

– Education should not, in the name of producing specialists, convert humans into skilled robots.
– Education must have a SOUL, meaning it must awaken noble feelings latent in the Heart.
– Education must have a moral base and fill one with moral courage to face the moral and ethical challenges of the world.
– And finally, education must train one for life rather than merely for filling the belly.

It does not take much imagination to realise that these are the very principles that Swami talks about it, and form the basis of education in His Schools and Colleges.

The question arises: “Why did Sathya Sai Baba set up His Schools and Colleges?” Mainly to act as exemplars to a Society that has lost its way. Just look around; there are tens of thousands of colleges and hundreds of universities the world over, all supposed to produce educated men and women. If indeed students are really getting educated in these educational establishments, as everyone believes they are, then how come the world is so full of problems today, indeed more problems than ever before? In fact, it would appear that today’s Society is better at creating problems than in solving them! So what has happened to these various educational establishments, including those with famous brand names? Where have they all slipped?

That is not difficult to determine, if we use the guidelines of the quotes above, which, by the way, is only a small selection of invaluable quotes available on education. From the Greek philosophers to Lincoln to Gandhi, all great men stressed the importance of moral values; and for centuries, some attempt was made to adhere to them as well as to structure education around moral and ethical values. It is only in the half century that followed the Second World War, that values have been withdrawn, rather like pulling the rug under one’s feet. Following which, the inevitable has happened everywhere without exception – politics without principles, business without scruples and all the rest of it; we all know the list, don’t we? Swami has quoted them so many times.

Is there any particular reason why we are harping on this particular theme this Sunday? There sure is, a chain of connected links in fact. First, there was a nasty article directed entirely against Swami in the Hindustan Times, published from Delhi. Quickly came after that a one-hour TV talk show on NDTV, against so-called God-men, and inevitably, there was a lot of mud slinging against Swami. Apparently, the Guardian in the UK also had something but we have not seen that. Anyway, we shall deal with all this anti-Swami stuff elsewhere, but here we would like to look deeper and ask ourselves why Society has become so sick as to see negativity all the time, often unfounded? There are of course superficial reasons as well as deeper causes, and may be we should comment on both.

Superficially, things have changed enormously since World War II, thanks to three factors. 1) Technology, 2) enormous growth in transport and communications, including TV, Internet, etc., and 3) the engine of economic growth becoming supercharged with, shall we say, hyper-activity! The net result of all this is the quest to dominate the mind. In the colonial era, those with money wanted to dominate the land so that they could have easy access to commodities and markets. Later, it was the quest for market, or market dominance, without the expenditure of maintaining armies, that colonialism involved. Now it is mind-dominance, because once the mind is dominated, humans can be manipulated in any way the powerbrokers want.

These are complex matters and maybe we shall comment on them in detail elsewhere, but the bottom line is that everyone is in a tearing hurry in pursuit of their own particular objectives. Those who “inform” wish to do it all very quickly while those “who want to be informed” also want it all very quickly. We see it here all the time working for Radio Sai and H2H. Our boys here work so hard round the clock but most people simply do not have the time to read or listen to what we offer via H2H and via Radio Sai. Most devotees stir into action only when there is a blast of negativity in the outside media.

What we are trying to say is that since everyone seems to want everything in a hurry, the media obliges by having instant opinions and instant commentators. These days, wars, whether they are fought in Afghanistan or Iraq or whatever, are played out in front of TV cameras. Everything from protests to soccer matches to war and insurgency has become subjects for TV shows, talk shows and so on. Is it any wonder that “instant experts” appear everywhere airing opinions left and right without bothering to check whether they are accurate or not? News now means negativity, sting operations and so on. Good works and good news are “boring” and not “newsworthy”. That is the mantra circulated everywhere, and is it any wonder that those who want bang for their bucks as they say, dare to project even falsehood as news, as long as they do a sort of “balancing act” making it appear that they have given “equal” time?

If you think about it deeply, all this is because we have all been brought up bereft of values. Our schools have let us down and that is because Society simply did not think that moral base is important in education. When values are drained away, understanding disappears; when understanding becomes scarce, conflict arises; when conflict erupts, there is pain and even destruction.

This is a huge topic, and we simply cannot do justice to it here. But this much we can and will say. If there is one educational institution that has steadfastly stood for and helped students to absorb values and practice them in the modern world, it Swami’s Institute . That is Swami’s greatest gift to humanity, an Institute that helps students to really understand what morality and human values are all about and how higher learning is related to all that.

So what does higher learning, morality etc., have to do with negative reporting that is appearing to drown out the good work being done by Sathya Sai Baba’s institutions? Simply the following. We must, all of us together but each in our own way, help the Divine Light to reach far and wide. Divine Light cannot be extinguished; however, it can be covered and eclipsed. And we have it in our power to remove that cover. How? Well, if our readers, old students and the like would only take a few minutes off now and then and share with us, good news they have access to, we can spread it far and wide.

The world today is actually very hungry for good news. We know it because of the mail we receive. But the sad point is that good news is not easily accessible. That is because the traditional news agencies do not regard good news as news at all. If however, Sai devotees, share with us what they know, instances where people have come out better by adhering to Dharma, then when others read it, it would give them some courage. We need to hold each other’s hands. There are so many things we can do and do so easily. However, at present we do not; that must change, and when that change occurs, there would be fewer and fewer takers for non-news, bad news and wrong news. For example, strange as it may sound, not many people in Chennai/Madras are aware how much Swami has done to bring water to that troubled city.

When there was no drinking water, everyone hollered and prayed, depending on their disposition. But once water was provided by Sai Baba, few bothered to remember Him and almost took it all for granted, as though it was the job of Sai Baba to do the fixing. Not only is this phenomenal accomplishment ignored, but instead, people ask, “If Sai Baba is God, why did He not stop the tsunami?”

If people only took time off to do some serious reading, then would they have such questions? These days, people seem to want Vedanta in five minutes, and the Gita in just two! If that is all the time we can give to God, then why should we expect God to keep on bothering about us? They ask about God hiding Himself during the tsunami. Who gave land that we so readily pollute? Who gave water that we so readily pollute? Who is killing millions in genocide, God or man? So what are the self-appointed bleeding hearts doing about it?

Let us pull all this together and wind up this seemingly random and apparently disconnected exploration, so that you can see the purpose behind. This is what we would like to say this Sunday, as our bottom line:

  1. If some people sling mud at Swami, it is in part because of the corrupted value system of today, which reflects on the tragic erosion of values, in all segments of Society.
  2. We may be feel hurt; that is but natural. However, we should not let our feelings run away too much.
  3. If criticism comes from the riff-raff, and let us remember that many who try to tarnish Swami do belong to that category, we should not engage in a direct confrontation with them.
  4. That said, it does not mean we should always remain silent. There are occasions when one has to exert for the sake of Dharma. That was Krishna’s lesson given to Arjuna. Depending on the circumstances, we must make our judgement and react as fitting and appropriate.
  5. We did that from here when we dealt with the UNESCO; that story has been told elsewhere.
  6. Similarly, on this occasion, there have been some well composed, dignified and strong response from a few devotees, especially one of Swami’s students; more about this later in H2H.
  7. Meanwhile, devotees must try and spend more time trying to absorb Swami’s teachings as well as details of the amazing missions He has executed. It is not enough to have some vague feeling about the Hospitals for example. We must be aware of the moving details so that stench can be rebutted by the fragrance of details about selfless service.

There is much more to be said on this and related themes. For the moment, please do reflect deeply on the extra-ordinary achievements of Swami’s University, and its moral authority. This year, the Institute held its 25th Convocation, and as always, it was held on 22nd November. This might appear like a routine procedure, but if you look at the record of the three hundred and odd universities in India, including those who can trace their history as far back as 150 years, there is not a single university that can boast of such regularity. Even if the Guest of Honour is the President or the Prime Minister or whatever, our Convocation has always been held on 22nd November. May seem like a small thing but compare it with the record of others and you would know what we are talking about. Is the world aware of it? You think this is a small achievement? Well, do you know that right now, a major University in UP, the land of birth of Rama and Krishna, is facing problems because the Vice Chancellor has suspended nearly a hundred students from contesting student elections? And you know why? Because all these students have criminal complaints against them, including murder, yes murder! A university with students on its rolls who have murder complaints registered against them? Amazing but true!

Is it any wonder we have invited your attention to the meaning and purpose of Education? Who in this wide world has done for so long and so consistently what Swami has done and is still doing? Why is the world silent about it? Why are we devotees so ignorant about it?

Jai Sai Ram.

With Love and Regards,
“Heart2Heart” Team

How To Build Character That Lasts

Swami Sathya Sai Baba

Swami Sathya Sai Baba


HOW TO BUILD CHARACTER THAT LASTS
By Mrs. Mallika Srinivasan

Mrs. Mallika Srinivasan is the CEO of TAFE [Tractors and Farm Equipment] and is one of the most successful women CEOs in India having transformed TAFE from a 80-crore company to a 2500-crore market leader. She was awarded the Business Woman of the Year Award by the BBC, UK in 1999 and the Economic Times Business Woman of the Year in 2006. Engaged in many social service activities, she is also an active participant in the Mother and Child Care programme undertaken by the Easwaramma Women’s Welfare Trust. This is the transcript of the talk she delivered to the delegates of the Sri Sathya Sai World Youth Conference during a workshop session in Prasanthi Nilayam on July 26, 2007.

Mallika Srinivasan: I offer my most loving and humble pranams at the lotus feet of our Beloved Bhagavan. Respected elders, Sai youth, brothers and sisters, Sairam to all of you.

“Watch, observe, obey, learn and apply”

Each one of us gathered here today is truly blessed, enjoying and basking as we do in Bhagavan’s Protection, Grace and Love. To my family, as to all of you, Sathya Sai Baba has been the very centre of existence – mother, father, guru and God. All of you as Sai Youth are exceptionally privileged.

For unlike people like myself, who went through a process that began with magnetic attraction, led to intellectual curiosity, and perhaps a degree of scepticism before the spark of devotion could be lit, leading to faith and finally to total surrender, you have been brought into Swami’s fold at a time when your heart is open to receive His love instantly. Youth take to Swami like fish to water.

It is the determination of Swami to sow in the minds of young people which are like rays of the rising sun, the seeds of desire for acquiring spiritual knowledge. These seeds have already been sown in the Sai Youth gathered here today. The distinguishing feature of Sai Youth is that material gains are not the sole goal of your lives. You seek to lead holistic lives, yearn to achieve a larger purpose and strive to be better human beings.

Living in the presence of Bhagavan offers us the very best opportunity to achieve this. Swami teaches us in a variety of ways through His compassion, through disciplining, through His interactions, through the formal teaching like we had this morning, and at times through direct advice: “Watch, observe, learn, obey and apply.” Then, we will begin to comprehend the essence of what is required for a successful life, i.e., the building of character. Devotion, Duty, Discipline, Determination and Discrimination are the pillars on which the robust house of character is built. These are the few things I would like to touch upon today.

The Charismatic Charioteer
Devotion to God is fundamental to leading a virtuous life. Swami, through His Divine Love and in His own inimitable way, evokes in each of our hearts, this devotion and builds our faith. I would like to share with you, one such instance, when Swami through a simple and appealing example captured the heart of a young boy in an instant, making him a devotee for life!

During an interview, Swami asked our young son to ask Him a question.

The boy said, “Swami, which is your favourite car?”

My heart sank and I thought to myself, “Is this the question to ask Swami? Time with Swami is so precious!”

Swami gave a lovely smile and answered, “Morris Minor” and went on to tell stories of how He used to drive to Madras and how He obtained a license.

“You used to drive it yourself Swami?” Exclaimed the boy, stars in His eyes!

Swami had woven a bit of magic and our son looked at Swami transfixed.

Swami went on to say, “I will give you a big car. Will you take it? You mustn’t say no!”

And the boy, a bit overawed by now, said, “OK!”

Swami then asked, “Will you give me your car?”

Prompt came the answer, “Sure Swami!”

“Shall I drive it?”

And the boy again said, “Sure, Swami.”

Swami then smilingly placed His hand on our son’s heart and said, “Your heart is the car and I am the driver.”

One of the most profound lessons in devotion had been taught by Swami in the simplest possible manner! Swami says, “Have faith in Him” and “Be free from fear, anxiety and agitation. Surrender to God; His Grace can save you. His wisdom can enlighten you. His power can overcome all obstacles. Faith and surrender are the manifestations of devotion.”

The Right Attitude
Duty without expectation of reward is the essence of the Bhagavad Gita. Let us cast a glimpse of what is actually happening around us in the world today, especially in the lives of younger people. There is, if you permit me to say, an obsession with being remunerated; with obtaining greater and greater power and authority. There is a constant measurement of work versus reward and a continuous comparison with other family members, friends, colleagues and peers. Opportunities and temptations abound in a growing economy and this is fuelling these trends.

Frequency of job change has reached new heights and as the search continues for something elusive, our inner peace is destroyed. If, on the other hand, we enjoy doing what we are doing, do our very best, excel at it, going beyond what is commonly termed “the call of duty,” do our tasks with devotion and love, without fear of failure, leaving the rewards to Swami, not only will we achieve inner peace, but we will exceed our own expectations of performance.

Surrender, the Best Strategy!
In our professional lives, we may have the illusion that we control outcomes. That it is only an illusion becomes quite clear, when we are faced with a personal crisis.

For example, let us take the illness of a loved one. My mother, a very healthy person, was recently diagnosed with having an ailment, for which the prognosis was indeed poor. Only God could save her. It is in situations like this, that faith and surrender make us witness Swami’s magic. His Grace fills us with a sense of calm. He directs and guides us to do our duty taking appropriate decisions and leaving the rest to Him.

It was raining heavily and the hospital room began to leak. And a fungus infection would be disastrous for my mother. The Hospital administration and doctors out of concern were urging me to move her immediately to another Hospital where the care would not be of the same order, but the room would not leak. We seemed to be moving her for all the wrong reasons. Couldn’t we move her to the smaller room or to the intensive care? A quiet prayer to Swami seeking His guidance and the answer was clear. “Do not move her.”

It is Bhagavan’s infinite grace that she is today completely well, truly Swami’s walking miracle. Faith enables us to carry out our duties calmly, even under extraordinarily extenuating circumstances, surrendering the problem at His feet. Our duty, however, extends beyond our jobs and serving our families to serving humanity at large.

Inspiring Examples
Speaking at the Harvard Commencement in June 2007, Bill Gates said:

“When you consider what those of us here have been given in talent, privilege and opportunity, there is almost no limit to what the world has a right to expect from us.”

We gathered here today, are even more privileged than those in Harvard. For, we have in our midst, Bhagavan, to teach and guide us as we strive to give back to society, what society has given to us! “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give,” said Winston Churchill.

While our ancient texts have laid down the way wealth should be distributed, a quarter for personal use, a quarter for charitable purposes, a quarter on other living beings, and a quarter in support of state, even in this materialistic world, there are a handful of the richest of men, who have set outstanding examples of giving back to serve the larger cause of humanity. Many of you would probably have read Warren Buffet’s recent announcement that he would donate 85% of his 44 billion dollar empire to charity to serve communities across the world and most importantly, without heed to religion, caste or community.

Inspired by such examples, Sai Youth, having imbibed Swami’s teachings of “Service to man is service to God” can play a prominent role in the establishment of a new world order. Participating actively in Swami’s Seva Organization and programs, be they providing water, food or medical care, gives Sai Youth a unique opportunity to serve with love under Divine Guidance.

How Can ‘I’ Start Service?
Opportunities to serve are everywhere; one does not have to search for them. They are in your neighbourhood and in your work place. As Swami says, you may not get a chance to participate in some gigantic scheme of service through which millions may be benefited, but you can lift a lame lamb over the side, or lead a blind child across a busy road. That too is an act of worship. If you look around you with love, service to others will come spontaneously and become an intrinsic part of our daily lives.

In the words of Bhagavan, the real value of seva and its most visible result is that it transforms and reshapes you. Devotion must be directed along the lines of duty and tested in the crucible of discipline, says Bhagavan.

Discipline – Indispensable for Success
“Why do we need discipline?” Swami’s analogy comparing life to a football game, gives us the answer. If any player can do anything with the ball, and there is neither foul nor out, neither offside nor goal, neither throw nor penalty, then it be a meaningless game incapable of giving joy. It is these rules and restrictions that give charm to the game of life. It is disciplined societies that emerge victorious.

Japan was decimated during World War II and Korea sank into poverty after the Korean War. It is discipline that has enabled the resurgence of both Japan and South Korea that has enabled both these countries and propelled them into being economic power houses. Discipline pervades every aspect of life in their society. Their daily routine, their work habits, their interaction with each other, and everything is done in a particular way at a particular time and with no deviations. In Japan, even the tea ceremony is a much disciplined affair. Quality, efficiency and excellence in everything they do are the hallmarks of these societies. It is individual discipline that translates into this kind of societal discipline and ensures success.

While discipline is a prerequisite in every endeavour, be it social, economic or material, it is even more vital for Sai youth aspiring to pursue the spiritual path. Swami expects the highest levels of discipline from his students and the youth, for it is this discipline that builds credibility, the foundation stone for leadership.

When a new employee joins a firm, both his seniors and his subordinates are watching him closely. Does he come to work on time? Does he do what he says he will? Does he deliver his assigned tasks on schedule? Is there unison in what he thinks, says and does? Is he willing to shoulder additional responsibilities? No one can succeed in his or her mission alone, and success depends upon the support we are able to garner from others and this support is garnered only through credibility established by the practice of personal discipline. People may not believe what you say. But they will surely believe what they see you do. Emerson, the American author had this to say. “What you are shouts so loudly in my ears that I cannot hear what you say.” It is character that communicates most eloquently.

Discrimination – The Most Vital Tenet
All of you gathered here are aspiring to be leaders in your own respective spheres of life. Besides demonstration by personal example, two key differentiators between leaders and others are determination and what Swami referred to this morning in His inaugural address as “The Power of Discrimination.”

Determination is widely acclaimed as the king of faculties and as the one that succeeds when everything else fails. Nothing can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with great talent. Genius will not. Nothing is more common than unrewarded genius! It is now almost like a proverb. Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

A distinction however may be made, between determination and obstinacy. An obstinate man is not open to suggestions and course corrections become impossible. In sharp contrast, a determined man has a flexible approach, keeps his eye on the goal post and freely takes inputs that help to further progress towards the goal. Obstinate people are filled with ego. Determination without a trace of ego or self-interest empowers the individual with a sharper sense of discrimination.

Discrimination is the ability to distinguish between good and bad, right and wrong, and take the correct decision, given a specific set of circumstances. What is right in one situation may not be right in another and leaders are often faced with difficult choices. But in every situation, discrimination implies applying the principle of dharma, the righteousness that upholds the universe.

A couple of examples. Each one of us has different roles that we play in life. The father at home is many times the boss at work, be it a small, medium, or large business. The factors that he takes when taking a decision vis-à-vis his son in his role as a father will be distinctively different from those that he uses when taking decisions at the work place. At the work place, he cannot take decisions based only on his son’s individual interest. For, these affect the larger good of the Organization. Therefore, necessarily, it has to be above self-interest. He needs to give up on mine and thine.

Hitler was a determined man. Why was he destroyed? His determination was filled with ego and megalomaniac tendencies. The larger good was not in sight. He lost his discrimination for his decisions were not based on the principles of Dharma.

While the Dharma for each person may be different, depending upon the role he plays, the basic principles of dharma, based on which discrimination is applied remain unchanged, namely, truth, love, fortitude and non-violence. These are the cornerstones of the practice of Dharma and upholding Dharma is the insignia of a true leader.

When there is Dharma, there is victory. And the protector of Dharma, will always be protected by Bhagavan. Devotion, Duty, Discipline, Determination and Discrimination are integral parts of the whole and need to come together in perfect balance to form the character of an ideal Sai Youth.

Each of these attributes cannot be viewed in isolation and when closely intertwined, make for a successful and holistic life. All of you, young delegates are filled with idealism, dreams and aspirations. In conclusion, I would like to share with you the words of Swami, that to me have been through the years, a joyous source of inspiration.

“Life is a Game, Play It! Life is a Challenge, Meet it! Life is Love, Enjoy it! Life is a Dream, Realize it!”

Jai Sri Sai Ram!

RadioSai Reference