November 22, 2010 – XXIX Convocation of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning

The 29th Convocation of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning was scheduled on November 22. The Chief Guest for the ceremony was the Prime Minister of the Indian Republic, Dr. Manmohan Singh. His flight arrived on time and Puttaparthi was facing the challenge of one VIP visit after another! The roads were heavily blocked and so many security measures were in place. The devotees’ thoughts usually in these times are, “What is there so much trouble? We want to see Swami!” A 3000 strong contingent of the police has descended into the holy hamlet.

There were many eminent guests too like Mr. K. Rosaiah, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Mr. E.S.L. Narasimhan, the Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Y.S. Yeddyurappa, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, Mr. Shivraj Patil, the Governor of Punjab and Administrator, Union Territory of Chandigarh, Mr. M.K. Stalin, the Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Mr. Sushil Kumar Shinde, the Union Minister for Power, Mr. Ashok Chavan, the former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Dr. Ratan Tata, Chairman of Tata Sons, and Mr. N. Chandrasekaran, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Tata Consultancy Services.

At 11:10 a.m., the University Brass Band began a majestic beat and a lively march led Swami and the Prime minister (PM) into the Sai Kulwant Hall. The whole contingent of the office bearers and the members of the academic council and the governing body followed Swami and the PM. They moved up the stage and took their positions. Swami ensured that the Chief Guest was comfortable. The Veda chanting began and the invocation was recited.

At the outset the Vice Chancellor of the Institute extended a cordial welcome to all. He said that the Institute has been established not to develop students to earn degrees but to nurture them to cultivate self-confidence and self-sacrifice. He then introduced the Chief Guest of the Convocation, the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh. In his talk, the Vice Chancellor opined that the former students of the Institute have received accolades from employers of various companies. 16% of PG students who have appeared for the examination have cleared GATE annually (on an average) over the past five years. With Bhagawan’s blessings research work is going to be undertaken to help the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences and the General Hospitals.

The Institute Oath was then administered to the students by the Vice Chancellor.

“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 country men and fellow men."

The gold medals to various degrees were presented to the students by the Chancellor. Receiving the gold medal from the divine hands is something that every student cherishes. To receive a gold medal from God – this is the pinnacle of academic success and an honour of the highest kind. And every boy and girl who went up the stage to receive it, knew it as it reflected on their countenances.  There was a mixture of pride and humility, expectation and surprise but above all, joy and radiance. Swami also conferred the Ph. D degrees on those that had completed their doctoral thesis.

The Hon’ble Chief Guest Dr. Manmohan Singh then delivered his Convocation Address. He was amazed at the progress that the Insititute had made since his last visit in 1995. His entire speech is available at the official site of the Prime Minister’s Office.

After the speech, the brass band struck up the tune of the national anthem. Everyone rose to attention. Then, the stage was vacated and Swami went into the interview room. The PM and his family too went in and they had a private interview. At the end, Swami told the PM that He would address the children and the PM decided to attend the discourse. Thus it was that the stage was once again occupied and Swami asked for His mikes to be brought. The translator arrived and the discourse began. This is the gist of the discourse:

People go to different pilgrim centres to see God. They are in quest of God. I tell you, Oh simpletons, you are God, God is within you, above you, below you and by the side of you. Do not consider Him to be separate from you. The very Self (Atma) is divine. Have this feeling ingrained in you. Right from a tiny tot to a grown up, from microcosm to macrocosm, God is present in everyone. If you have such feelings of unity, you will be successful in life. Therefore, you should repeatedly think that God is not elsewhere. God is in your heart. The heart is the centre of God. You are God. You and God are one. God resides in the altar of your heart.

There is no need to renounce the world. Remain in society with the awareness that God is within you. That is why it is said, Sahasra Seersha Purusha Sahasraksha Sahasra Pad (The Cosmic Being has thousands of heads, eyes and feet).

After being abducted by Ravana, it was only the power of her chastity which made Sita meet her husband Lord Rama. Mother Sita spent 10 months in Lanka. All the while she thought of Rama. She did not look at the face of anyone. She was even put to the test of fire, but she came out unscathed. Bharat is the land which gave birth to great women like Damayanti who reduced an evil-minded hunter to ashes by the power of chastity. This land also gave birth to Savitri who brought her dead husband back to life; Chandramati who extinguished wild fire with the power of truth. Can you show an example of a wife bringing her dead husband back to life? Have you seen such persons? She belongs to this land of Bharat. Today we do not find such women of chastity.

Draupadi was another who never said ‘no’ to her husbands. She was always willing to serve them. Also she was totally contented. If the husband and wife live in harmony, the whole country will progress. Because of disharmony between the couple, there is no peace anywhere. If there is adjustment between them, there will be peace. If such a life is lived, there will be no chaos. I want all householders to live in harmony and peace. There is no penance beyond this adjustment. Harmony at home is most important. Then all the rest will follow. If there is peace and harmony at home, there will be no anxiety. The path shown by these illustrious women should become the guideline of your life.

If you adhere to discipline in life, you will live a long and healthy life. Pure heart is the temple of God. Take care that negative thoughts do not enter your heart. The mind should not become perverted. Unity is possible only through spirituality. I want students to develop the principle of unity. Do not be narrow-minded. Youth should develop good character. The end of education is character. With good character, you can achieve anything. If you act according to the dictates of the mind, how can you expect to realise God?

In the name of meditation, you sit while the mind loiters in the market. You should not allow the mind to waver. Even if you are angry, do not fight. If you fight with someone, you are hurting yourself. Rectify your thoughts. That is what students should do. Educare is essential today and this is needed along with formal education. Do not deviate from the path shown by Bhagawan. Be humble, do not be arrogant.

When Rama was in search of Sita, they found some jewels. Rama asked Lakshmana to identify the ornaments as to whether they were of Sita’s. Lakshmana was one of immaculate character. He had never seen the face of Sita. He had seen her toe rings since he used to touch her feet. One should live an ideal life like Lakshmana. But today this sort of exemplary character is not noticed.

There is no unity at the national level. There is no unity, instead there is enmity. Everyone should work for the unity of this land. In fact, in every field of public life, unity is required. If one secures high percentage of marks, there will arise jealousy in others. Jealousy is the reason for all controversies. You may tell that you are a top ranker, but it is only written on a piece of paper. It is your heart and integrity that makes you really great, not medals.  

All are the children of God. You should mingle with each other as brothers. This is the message of Bhagawan on this occasion of Convocation.

It must be said the PM’s staff were getting very impatient during the course of the discourse which lasted more than an hour. But the PM, on the other hand, was cool and collected and heard the entire discourse. The PM’s staff was told that all had gathered to hear Swami and Bhagavan would end the discourse as per His will! Swami had started off the discourse saying that His children would feel bad if Swami did not speak to them as He always did on the occasion of their graduation. Thus it was that the first discourse of the whole year was delivered by Swami for His children, though they never demanded it of Him! Such is His love and such is the special place that the children occupy in His heart. As if in reward for his wise decision, Swami granted another interview to the PM and his family and that lasted about 20 minutes. It was 1:50 p.m. when Swami retired to Yajur Mandir.

The evening had been left free so that Swami would take rest, for the next day was the Big Day for which all had gathered. But Swami has his own plans and His plan is the Masterplan which overrules all other plans! It was at 7 p.m. that Swami came for darshan rounds. The Sai Kulwant Hall was packed to its limit. He took a complete round and then moved into the Bhajan Hall. He called for all the students who would be participating in the concert named “Prema Pravaham” on the Birthday evening. Swami gifted each of them with a dress that they would wear the next day. Each of these dresses had been ‘tailor made’ for the students after taking careful measurements! It was such a special gift on the eve of the birthday. Swami then interacted with the Vidya Vahini team that was also present there, and finally moved out and came onto the stage.

Swami was reading letters on the dais and the bhajans were on. He also blessed the prasadam for distribution. It was then that the chapter two of his master plan unfolded. Calling two of the students who are trained in the Carnatic style of singing, Swami asked them to change into the new clothes that He had given them. He also called the mridangam player and told him to fetch his instrument. The lad ran towards the Institute where his instrument lay. The harmonium player was also called on the stage. After about 10 minutes, when all were ready and assembled on the stage, Swami asked the singers to begin.

It turned out to be such a soul stirring serenade by the lads. They sang the krithis of saint Tyagaraja and other popular devotional songs. The way they rendered them would have opened up the mouth of any expert in awe and respect. The years of practise and constant prayer to Swami was easily seen as the best ever concert of the Birthday season so far unfolded before everyone. Swami continued to read letters but soon, He too kept them aside and was lost in the mastery and devotion that these students exuded. It was 45 minutes of sheer devotional and musical ecstasy! Ah! That is the grandeur of the programmes that the Divine plans! On more than one occasion, Swami was moved into tears almost and it was evident that everyone was enjoying this performance. At the end of the concert, Swami called one of the singers and materialized a gold chain with a golden Ganesha pendant.

It was 9 p.m. as Swami received aarthi and moved off the stage towards the Residence. It was announced that the Lord would grant the Birthday darshan in the Golden Chariot at the Hill View Stadium the next day.

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