June 10, 2010 - The Sri Sathya Sai University Welcomes Its New Vice Chancellor

The rain that falls onto dear earth is the same everywhere. Little droplets of water spray from the heavens above as the ground below slakes its thirst. Though it is the same, the effect it produces depends on how much it has been sought. And so, even though the equatorial forest welcomes the rains it is the desert that takes on a prayerful attitude of the deepest gratitude and supreme joy as these drops of life descend upon it!

"More important than Swami's proximity is how much you pine for it," was what Swami had said once. The thirst of the land for water was indeed great in Puttaparthi and Rayalaseema in the first week of June as the promised rains didn’t arrive for long.

And in those days of an apparent "darshan drought", everyone in the Nilayam prayerfully pined to see Him with the intensity of the desert waiting for the cooling showers. The parched hearts which hadn't been filled with the beauty of His darshan on both the 8th and 9th June evenings felt that they could bear it no longer.

Of course, there had been 'car-darshan' as Swami had visited the super specialty hospital a couple of times to see two very long-standing devotees who had been admitted there. But seeing Swami behind a raised glass never substitutes for seeing Him unobstructed to our heart's content.

And the rains came! They did not lash out with the fury of the tropical monsoons but showered with a gentle fragrant breeze! Swami delighted one and all that day morning as He came gliding out of the Yajur Mandir even as the bhajans went on.

It was about 9:45 a.m. and Swami entered the Sai Kulwant Hall. He moved down the slope along the ladies. As He neared the primary school block, He asked one child there as to where he had come from.

Moving through the central block, He entered the gents' side. A group with yellow scarves had been waiting for Him and their representative came forward and offered a card to Swami. Swami studied it for a while and then moved ahead. At the area where the alumni sit, Swami spoke to a couple of them and then via the central area moved to the stage. He spoke to two members of the bhajan group as well.

Arriving on the stage, Swami sat for the bhajans. His right hand moved in mystic circles and He seemed to gaze at eternity. It was a beautiful sight to see. Then, He leafed through the few letters on His lap even as He asked for aarthi to be taken. Though Swami was present on stage for only two bhajans, it was such a rejuvenating feeling!

After the aarthi, He interacted with Mr. Kornelis M. Keur, Hon'ble Consul General, US Consulate, Hyderabad who was seated seeking Divine Blessings. Being Thursday, tiny tots from Primary School were also present and for some of them, the first standard children, this was their maiden darshan.

Before retiring at 10:10 a.m., Bhagawan blessed prasadam for the Primary School children. Everyone was happy and as Swami retired to Yajur Mandir, a few people stayed back in the Sai Kulwant Hall, meditating on the beautiful darshan in the morning.

At 4:55 p.m., the Sri Sathya Sai University auditorium, which had been all prepped for the new Vice Chancellor welcome ceremony, resounded with the notes of bhajans as everyone waited for Swami's arrival. The stage was set for the new incumbent Prof. J. Sashidhar Prasad to take over. Swami arrived at 5:30 p.m. and then sitting in the car, started towards the auditorium. Throngs of devotees lined the road from end to end to have a look at their beloved Swami.

Swami was ceremonially received with the poornakumbham and Veda chanting. As soon as the door of His car opened, He saw the Vice-chancellor, Registrar, Controller of Examinations, Principal and all the senior staff of the University waiting.

Accepting roses from them, He told them all to move into the auditorium and Swami Himself made His way to the stage. On the way, Swami moved through the green room where the incoming and outgoing VCs with their wives awaited Him.

Swami gave them all padanamaskar and vibhuti packets before telling them to proceed to the stage. Arriving on the stage, Swami lit the lamp to a loud round of applause from the audience. The proceedings were being beamed live to the other campuses, Anantapur and Brindavan, by the team from Radio Sai. The bhajans were on and soon Swami asked for the programme to begin.

Compering the function and introducing the occasion, research scholar from the Department of Physics, Mr. Jagadish Chandra spoke about the evolution of the University crediting the same to Mother Easwaramma's selfless ambition.

Prof. U. S. Rao, Principal, Prasanthi Nilayam Campus who spoke next, while officially welcoming both the Vice Chancellors to the changing over ceremony, expressed grateful thanks to Bhagawan while invoking Him with a prayer to continue His shower of Blessings to the University.

Mr. Shashank Shah, a research scholar from the School of Business Management, Accounting and Finance spoke of the credentials of the outgoing Vice Chancellor, Prof. Vishwanath Pandit. Speaking about the veteran, Mr. Shah highlighted the illustrious academic career of Prof. Pandit, who with a rare blend of humility, devotion and academic brilliance guided the University to greater heights.

The speaker highlighted Prof. Pandit's tireless efforts that resulted in organising a high profile finance conference in Prasanthi Nilayam in October 2009, attended by luminaries from India Inc. led by the highest banking official of the country, Dr. Duvvuri Subba Rao, Governor, Reserve Bank of India who delivered the key-note address. It was very touching to know that a person who had arrived to Prashanti Nilayam to do sevadal duty at the Mandir gates, had been elevated to the status of the vice chancellor of the University by Swami's Grace.

Prof. Vishwanath Pandit, who spoke next was his usual simple self. He spoke on his self evolution from a man who knew Sathya Sai Baba into a devotee who came over seeking His blessings. Lucidly narrating his phase-wise evolution of his becoming a devotee and later, a visiting faculty on sabbatical from Delhi University, Prof.

Pandit thanked Bhagawan profusely for making him a worthy instrument in His mission. His story was lucky to be part of His story and thus of history and it was an uplifting experience to listen to his narrative.

Prof. G. Venkataraman who spoke next, formally introduced the new vice chancellor. He hailed Prof. Prasad to be a core research oriented person who has over 300 publications to his credit in various journals of national and international repute. Specializing in 'liquid crystals' the Professor equally developed his research interest in other related areas in Physics, said the former vice chancellor.

He also highlighted on Prof. Prasad's rare achievement of winning a grant worth Rs. 100 crores for his erstwhile University as its vice chancellor, which according to the veteran professor is a commendable achievement considering the prevailing bureaucratic hurdles.

The former vice chancellor, ending his speech on a positive note, commenting on Prof. Prasad's earlier stint as VC of Mysore University, said the new VC would enjoy the coordination and co-operation of the entire University; he further advised the new vice chancellor to put all problems before the Chancellor who would take care of everything so that he would be having lesser problems and higher challenges. To Prof. Vishwanath Pandit, the speaker welcomed him back into the faculty as an ace teacher!

Prof. Sashidhar Prasad, the new incumbent, the 9th Vice Chancellor of the University, in his brief speech highlighted on his personal growth as a Sai devotee who had a rare connection with late Prof. Kasturi. Being the son of a former Vice Chancellor of Mysore University, Prof. D. Javare Gowda, the new Vice Chancellor highlighted his ninety three year old father's words of appreciation at his selection by Bhagawan.

"You are chosen by the Living God; that is the best thing that could happen" is what his father said. He had a very emotional moment as he fondly remembered his mother and wished she was there to see him attain the wonderful opportunity of serving at the Lotus Feet. Seeing the beautiful sentiments of a son to his mother, Swami too became emotional and the whole auditorium sat absolutely silent, witnessing this poignant moment.

Even as Prof. Prasad spoke one could not help feeling a deep sense of gratitude to Swami for Him having called us to Him. It does not matter that the appointment is for the post of a vice chancellor, it may as well be a cleric or a priest, but the fact the He was appointing was all important.

And that is all one needs in life - to be appointed by God as "something". All the students who were seated in the audience were in bliss, drinking into the nectarine darshan of Swami that had been bestowed after many "drought-prone" days. Mother Nature too seemed to reflect the bliss as it began to rain!

Swami now presented the Suvarna Kankanam or the golden bracelet to the new vice chancellor. He presented a saree in the traditional manner with flowers and fruits to his wife. He presented clothes to the passing out vice chancellor too and then presented a saree in the same manner to his wife.

The last speaker for the evening was Mr. S. V. Giri. He spoke on the uniqueness of the institution and the education imparted at the hallowed portals. Swami then blessed prasadam to be distributed and asked for alaap bhajans to be sung.

Two bhajans later, Swami asked for aarthi. After that was done, Swami blessed all and moved out into the car. On the way, Prof. Pandit did a full Sashtangha Pranaam to Swami.

When Prof. Shashidhar Prasad wanted to emulate that, Swami told Him, "No need! Bow to me in your heart, that’s enough!" Sitting in the car, Swami moved towards the Mandir. The roads were still packed with devotees who wanted to have another darshan of Swami.

Swami arrived to the Mandir and again even the Mandir was full of people who had been doing bhajans from the past two hours. When the aarthi was being taken in the Mandir, Swami said that He would descend from the car and come to the stage! Everyone was very happy and Swami came onto the stage in the centre. Receiving aarthi, He blessed prasadam to be distributed in the Mandir too. It was 7:40 p.m. as He retired to Yajur Mandir. 

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