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:
- 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.
- 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,
RadioSai’s e-Journal Team,
In Sai Service
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