This happened nearly four decades ago. Swami landed in Mumbai after His fourteen day East African trip and was in a great hurry to visit Anantapur en route to Bangalore. It was June 1968. Just after a month, Swami returned to the city of Anantapur, the official capital and the biggest town of the district, to unfold to the world His advent’s one very significant mission. He was inaugurating a college for women in Anantapur. What He said on that occasion set the pace for the Sri Sathya Sai education mission.
"The prompting behind this College is not the search for reputation or the desire to propagate a cult, or the hope of monetary profit. Fame is a fickle figment! Reputation rots quite soon. Profit, when it is calculated in terms of cash, defiles. I have allowed this College to rise because it will install in the minds of the students, the ideals of Truth, Righteousness, Peace and Love - ideals delineated in the Vedas, described in the ancient scriptures, illustrated in the Epics, practised by countless generations and confirmed by experience, as best suited for individual and social progress. Every child born…has the right to know and benefit by this precious heritage….(just like) agriculture is for living; Atma-culture is for success in life.”
Three years later, Swami was in this city again, now to preside over the inauguration of the college’s magnificent new building. And what He said on that Guru Poornima day, the day dedicated to the Supreme Preceptor, in the presence of the then President of India and his wife, was as prophetic as it was profound.
"India is being forged into a Bhogabhoomi - land of luxury - a land of skyscrapers, tinned foods, 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 the reason, I have decided that this college has to be inaugurated on Guru Poornima Day on Guruvar - Thursday - as a Gurukula - the hermitage school of ancient India in which the highest ideals of life were instilled by personal example and guidance by the Guru to the pupils eager to imbibe.” Swami concluded with a visionary declaration: "The seed has been planted; it will sprout and spread, heavy with fruits, providing shade, security and sustenance to all."
And forty years later what do we see? The hallowed Sri Sathya Sai University which completed twenty-five years of its glorious existence just last year was christened recently as the ‘crest jewel’ among universities in India by the National Assessment and Accreditation council. And it is not only the University with its three campuses - there is also the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School with its primary wing performing the difficult task of laying sturdy foundations on which the beautiful mansions of character are later built. Incidentally, in the just-out XII class CBSE results of the higher secondary school, all the 116 students secured above 75 percent and more than 50 percent have obtained more than 90 percent marks. Though discipline, service and sadhana are the first, second and third languages of this school, academics are never a casualty. In fact, emphasis on character-building has only ensured and encouraged sharp learning, be it secular or otherwise.
But it is not only the Sathya Sai University or the high school in Puttaparthi where Swami’s education mission is firing on all cylinders making enlightened citizens out of ordinary boys and girls. It has now become a revolution. Swami’s concept of Educare (manifesting the latent values within) has now spread to literally every corner of the globe, from Mexico and Equador, to Zambia and South Africa, to Fiji and Australia. And what is being done in these temples of learning - some tiny and some mighty – is truly eye-opening.
Did you know that the Sathya Sai School in Canada, which is in its sixth year now, was awarded a ‘Perfect Ten’ score in academics by the Fraser Institute, the British Columbia based think tank, because all the students met or exceeded the expectations of the Ontario curriculum? But equally significant is this: every year the young hearts here collect over half a tonne of vegetarian, non-perishable food items for the Food Bank used by the needy residents of the city of Toronto. And do you know how they celebrate Valentine’s Day? Interestingly, for these children it is Valuentine’s Day when they go to the old age homes and sing songs and share gifts with the elderly who long for such love. And in February every year, while all the trees are covered with snow in Toronto, these kids have a “mitten tree” which only grows in size every day of this month with their personal contributions of mittens, gloves, scarf’s, hats, etc., for the homeless. Darini, one sweet kid of this school, says, “CHC - Children Helping Children is my favourite project….In the last two years I have worked hard, done chores at home, sacrificed birthday parties and new year gifts to raise $700 to bring joy to children I haven’t met…I love to make a difference.”
Thanks to its dedicated teachers, spirited volunteers and enthusiastic and eager students, yes, this school is surely making a difference. It has enlightened parents, awakened the local community, and inspired hundreds every year to take to the path of Truth, Peace and Love. When you read the cover story of this issue, you will know how the “seed” that Swami planted years ago has sprouted and spread its fragrance thousands of miles away from Prasanthi Nilayam. What inspires teachers here to put in tremendous man-hours to integrate human values into the Ontario curriculum? Why do volunteers here do practically every odd job from vacuuming and mopping to secretarial services (apart from helping in teaching) so much so that the school has no janitorial staff? Why do the parents of this school go out of their way to help the school and organize mega events to promote human values?
Many of the people working in this school have not even seen Swami physically; some have had a fleeting glance maybe once in their lives, and for many He is what they see only in the big photo that is framed on the school wall. Nevertheless one thing is common – no matter what, they feel Him there every moment. His love inspires them to stretch themselves to their limits to create beautiful beings out of young minds. And this is true not only in the Sai School in Toronto. In Greece, Sai devotees are cleaning an area of some hectares of litter (tins, bottles, plastic bags, papers, etc.) in Parnitha forest; in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sai volunteers have conducted medical camps for the neglected; in Slovenia a family of five was saved from pitiable poverty; and in Switzerland, an eighty-three year old lady, whom nobody cared for, now has a house as bright as her smile. And back in India, a mother who had resigned herself to the cruel fate of losing her only child now says, “This Swami’s hospital is God” speaking of the Sri Sathya Sai Heart Hospital in Rajkot.
Truly, all beautiful things in the world have their origin in love. In fact, this world itself is born from love. As Swami says, “I separated Myself from Myself so that I can love Myself.” Umpteen are the occasions when Swami has said to the students, “All you need to develop is love… if you have the quality of love within you, you can secure anything for yourself and others...you can change the world.” That is what the Sathya Sai School in Toronto is doing, the same is happening in Puttaparthi’s Universities and schools, and this is exactly what each one of us has to do. Just improve our LQ – Love Quotient and soon heaven will not be a utopia.
Let us allow love to rule us!