Temples of Learning
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Today, the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning is known everywhere and almost taken for granted. Do you know how it all started? Here is that story, the story of three colleges that were started one after another, and were later fused into a University in a small village, when experts declared that such a thing was impossible! What a pity these learned people did not know about Sai Sankalpa and the fact the word IMPOSSIBLE occurs only in the dictionary of man!

The College at AnathapurInterestingly, the first college that Swami started was for women. He did this in 1968, locating the college in the neighbouring town of Anantapur, the District Headquarters. Once Swami starts any activity, He must just 'get on with it'; He is not the one to sit around and mull, letting grass grow under one's feet, as they say. As Kasturi has noted, classes were started in rented halls and hurriedly erected sheds so as to avoid delay, even as the regular building was coming up. Finally, after the buildings were ready, there was a glittering formal inauguration on Gurupoornima Day, 1971 by the President of India, with all the speech-making. On that occasion, Baba said:

India is being forged into Bhogabhoomi [land of luxury], a land of skyscrapers, tinned food, air-conditioning, and television. Indians are being shaped into an imitative, insurgent, ill-disciplined mass. They are being transplanted on other soils and encouraged to grow without roots. This is an insult to the past and a dangerous defiance of history. It is a sacrilege on the history of Time, on the sole purpose of the human body. That is the reason I have decided that this College be inaugurated on Gurupoornima Day, as a reminder of the highest tradition, in which the highest ideals of life were instilled by personal example and guidance by the Guru, to pupils eager to imbibe.

The seed has been planted; it will sprout and spread, heavy with fruits, providing shade, security, and sustenance to all.

The College at BrindavanQuickly on the heels of the college in Anantapur, came the college in Brindavan, Bangalore, which was for boys. After a modest inauguration ceremony, classes were started in improvised locations while the main building came up slowly. Over now to Kasturi for a brief description of the inauguration.

On the Inauguration Day, the College looked spic and span ….. On 9th June, 1969, the Chief Minister of Mysore State, Mr. Veerendra Patil had the honour of inaugurating the College. ….. Speaking on that occasion, Dr. V.K.Gokak, Vice Chancellor of Bangalore University to which the College is affiliated welcomed the new addition as "a gem in the crown of the Bangalore University." [Later, Dr. Gokak became the Vice Chancellor of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning.] He added:

This College would set the pattern for College education, not only in the academic field but also in the ethical and spiritual fields. This is a College conceived, chiselled, and completed by Baba's Love, Grace, and Wisdom. Brick by brick, plank by plank, He attended to every detail. It is a lesson for all those who seek to do sincere service.

Before the College at ParthiSince Swami usually spent several months in the year in Brindavan, it was now very convenient for Him to be with students a good part of the time, gently moulding them the way He wanted; Kasturi gives us a glimpse of the process:



There is no activity of the College in which Baba does not evince interest, for He knows that it is the atmosphere in which education is imparted and imbibed that really counts. Since the College and the Hostel are situated within the compound [of Brindavan], Baba walks in during the Prayer Session, presides over Moral Instruction Lectures, and Himself supplements the Instructor. He writes and directs plays for the College Dramatic Society. Often, He pats a student on the back, pulls up a Lecturer who saunters in late, inquires from a sluggard the percentage of marks he secured at the monthly test, creates a fountain pen or a watch for some diligent, well-behaved boy about whom the Principal gives a report that confirms His own opinion, advises the Librarian about classification, and generally moves about as the Guardian Deity of the Institution.

The College at PuttaparthiIt was time now to turn to Puttaparthi, and in 1978, Baba started the third College. By the beginning of the eighties, there were three colleges, in Anantapur, in Bangalore and in Puttaparthi respectively. Soon the time was ripe to fuse all these into a University, and that step was taken in 1981. And now, a Music College also has been added.

Swami compares His strategy for attracting students with what Yasoda the foster mother of Krishna once did. Yasoda was becoming a bit tired of Krishna's pranks and the complaints from the villagers. So one day she decided to catch Krishna and punish Him. But Krishna went into hiding. To draw Him out, Yasoda said in a loud voice, "Krishna, come here and see what I have in my hand. I have something You like very much, butter. Come and get it!" Yasoda no doubt had butter in her outstretched hand but in her other hand, concealed behind her back, she held a stick! Swami says that Yasoda wanted to first attract Krishna with butter and then apply the stick! Baba adds that He first attracts students with the prospect of earning a University Degree. Once they are in, He leads them by the hand on the spiritual path!


Volume 01: PDS / 05 Date : NOV 01 2003