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An interview with Mr. Y. Siva Rama Krishnaiah,
Principal, Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School

Part 01


Click here to read the Second part of the interview.

He was totally new to Sri Sathya Sai Organization till 1971, and before that he was a shy graduate who thought he failed in the first year examination of his Masters; well, that is what his results said. But assured earlier by Bhagavan that he would pass the exam, he waited, only to hear that he indeed had passed in first class. And the very next year he went on to top the university in the final examinations. After that, he waited again for two years for another shower of Grace, which came as his first job, a chemistry lecturer in the erstwhile Sri Sathya Sai Junior College.

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
Mr. Y. Siva Rama Krishnaiah receiving his principles from the Divine Principal

Embraced and assimilated into the Sai mission, slowly but surely, Mr. Siva Rama Krishnaiah was to become the Principal of the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School, Prasanthi Nilayam. In 2003, he was conferred with the “Best Teacher” award by the Central Board of Secondary Education of the Government of India. Fortunate to be an instrument in the divine hands in shaping the school for the last 25 years, his journey to Sai is as wonderful and exciting as the story of the school itself! In the July 2008 H2H issue, we offered you the sublime story of the School, and now here is the tale of the school’s principal, a story suffused with same love, care and protection of the Supreme Teacher and Divine Mother, Lord Sai.

In July 2008, H2H met this 59 year old principal, who never reduced the number of his lectures, in spite of umpteen administrative responsibilities as a principal. “I am a teacher first, and only then a principal,” he said. “I never dreamt that I would become the principal of this school. And tomorrow, if Swami gives me some other assignment, I’ll do it gladly. This life is for Him. For what He has done for me, I cannot ever repay Him for any number of lives to come.”

H2H: How did you come into Swami’s fold? And how did He groom you to become a vital part of His education mission?

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
A young Mr. Siva Rama Krishnaiah with Swami

Siva Rama Krishnaiah (SRK): I was totally new to the organization till 1971. In that year, I got married and since my in-laws were devotees, I came to Brindavan (Bangalore) along with them for Swami’s blessings. When we reached there, we saw Bhagavan going to the college to speak to the boys.

We were in the crowd and did not know if He had seen us. But just when He was entering the college building, He seemed to have told one of the caretakers there:Call the people from Guntur; they have come.

So, we went inside. Swami was talking to the boys about the Geetha in Kannada. It was a very informal session, and since Telugu and Kannada are quite similar, I could fairly understand what He was saying. He spoke for more than half-an-hour and then returned to His residence.

We waited for two more days and Swami came to us on the third day. He blessed my wife and me, and accepted a garland from us. In those days, we could offer Him garlands. He also gave us Prasadam and said, “I will see you in Puttaparthi.” After that, we returned. That was my first personal interaction with Swami.

H2H: Did Swami ever interact with your wife’s family prior to this incident? Was such an experience a first for your wife too?

SRK: Prior to our marriage, my wife had been an active Sevadal member for 2-3 years. Their entire family used to come to Swami. So, it was not new for them; but for me, it was. Yet Swami spotted me out in that crowd! He came to me and said, I just saw your wife, I blessed her. Take Namaskaram. So I bowed down and touched His holy feet.

Later, in 1971, I got admission into M. Sc. (Master of Science).

H2H: Oh, so you were still studying?

SRK: Yes, I had just finished my B.Sc. (Bachelor of Science) and had joined the Masters programme. After the first year of M. Sc, I came to see Swami again. He called me for an interview and spontaneously said, I will see that you get a job. Don’t worry. He also told me that I would achieve first class result in the examinations, and before sending me off gave me clothes and blessed me profusely.

When I returned to Guntur, I was shocked to hear that I had failed in the first year examination! Since Bhopal, the city where I was doing my M.Sc., was quite far, I decided I would join a college in Guntur itself, and switch my discipline to M.A. (Master of Arts) in English.

During this time, I used to attend bhajans in my hometown, Guntur, every Monday. One such day, as we just started Omkaaram, I got a telephone call from Bhopal which said that the previous communication was a mistake and that I had passed the exam in first class!

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
Here he reaches out to the Lord with a prayer in his heart...
..and the Lord accepts his sincere offering

H2H: Oh, that’s wonderful!

SRK: Yes, but the people who had seen the examination results in Bhopal were still surprised since they could not find my hall-ticket number anywhere in the list of passed candidates! I believe it is just Bhagavan’s word that turned the situation around.

I returned to Bhopal and completed my second year. At the end of it, I achieved first rank in the college!

H2H: That’s great!

SRK: Yes, then I came to Swami and He called me for an interview and said, “I will help you in getting a job. Don’t worry, just be here.”

I waited. He called me for an interview two or three times again and every time He assured me about my employment, blessed and sent me back.

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
As a Sevadal in the early 1970's (he is in far right)

Later, when I went to Brindavan, Swami introduced me to Prof. V. K. Gokak, saying that I was from the Andhra Seva Dal. Actually, I never heard the word ‘Sevadal’ till then! That was the first time I was hearing it! Now when I look back at it, I understand that it was all a preparatory ground He made for me.

Prof. Gokak called me later and said that they needed experienced lecturers for their college and not fresh ones like me. When Swami returned to Puttaparthi, I also came along with Him and told Him what Prof. Gokak had told me. Then, Swami asked me to wait, and I waited for five months!

However, those five months were, in fact, the golden period in my life, because I participated regularly in Sevadal work. It was then the domes of the Mandir and the Poornachandra Auditorium were being constructed, and I eagerly participated in that work. At the construction spot, Swami used to stand on the barricades and supply drinking water to us! There He saw me one day and acknowledged my participation saying, Oh! You are here too! See, your hands have become soiled and red!

Swami used to stand at the construction site and spend time with us on a daily basis. There were about twenty of us.

H2H: This was in 1973?

SRK: Right, 1973. Earlier, Mandir did not have any domes. Swami used to spend hours with us talking casually. Mr. Subba Rao, who teaches mathematics in our school, Mr. Ramana Rao, Mr. Patel, Mr. Narendra Popat and other Hyderabad Sevadals were also there. Swami used to bring so many things for us to eat. That was how He initiated us to participate in service.

In the end, on December 28 or 29, there was a conference in Rajahmundry which Swami was going to preside over. The evening before that, He came for normal rounds to the construction spot. I was sitting there. He came to me and asked, Did you see the newspaper today?

“Swami, I did not!” I replied.

Then, He said, In the newspaper, there is a notice requesting interested and experienced teachers to apply to the Brindavan College. By now, they have already selected a person for the post.

Then I asked, “What shall I do, Swami?”

He said,Nenu emi chesthaanu? (What can I do? They have already made the selection.)

I kept silent and Swami went to Rajahmundry the next day. I returned to Guntur and with the initiation into Seva that I had in Puttaparthi, I continued participating in Seva activities. I had no job for the next two years; I was just waiting.

In 1975, a miracle happened. One night, I returned from service, and we, my wife and I, were sleeping in our bedroom. Suddenly, Swami came into our room!

H2H: He appeared!

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni

SRK: Yes, physically! He tried to wake me up but I wasn’t opening my eyes (I came to know of this later). But my wife woke up. Swami, then, sat on the bed! He spoke of a few things and then asked my wife to go to the library and check a particular newspaper. He also told her that in it there was an advertisement. After this, He just disappeared.

Startled, my wife woke me up saying, “Swami came! Swami came!”

“Are you mad?” I asked her.

“Go to the mirror and check yourself!” she replied.

When I looked myself in the mirror, there was Vibhuti on my forehead which Swami had placed. In fact, both of us were having Vibhuti marks on our foreheads! Now, I had to believe this.

So, I went to the library and checked the newspaper Swami had mentioned. In one corner of this daily, I saw the ‘Wanted’ column, and there I saw an advertisement from a college seeking three chemistry teachers. It was from a big and reputed college in Guntur by name ‘The Hindu College’. This college had a long tradition; it was started in 1885! I applied for the post.

Within 15-20 days from then, I saw so many changes happening in that college and so fast! The D.E.O (District Education Officer) of the college was transferred and the new person in charge happened to be my father-in-law’s friend!

When my father-in-law spoke to the new D.E.O, he advised me to apply for the post. I did and I was called for an interview. I was a little nervous as I was fresh graduate, without any work experience. But when I went into the interview room, I mustered some courage since the interview panel members were already known to me.

They asked me a few questions and I could answer all of them satisfactorily. Though I performed very well, getting selected was not going to be easy. There were three teachers who had retired from the college at that moment which had created three vacancies. But they had one son each, and all three of them had done M. Sc. in Chemistry! Each one of them had applied for the job; hence I was the fourth candidate. Somehow, by God’s grace, one person among them was overlooked and I was given the job!

H2H: So, it was divine intervention!

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
He always took directions from the divine and followed it steadfastly

SRK: Nothing else. Swami was guiding us all the time. Even before my marriage, when my in-laws were looking for a boy for their daughter, they were considering four or five matches for her among which I was also one. When they took all the profiles to Swami, He chose me among them saying, This boy is very good. I will look after him. You give your daughter to this boy.

H2H: Even before you knew Swami physically, He has been looking after you! Sometimes instances like these makes your hair stand on end!

SRK: Yes! He was guiding me. In fact, He was making up for every deficiency of mine. Since Prof. Gokak asked for an experienced candidate, Swami granted me the job in the Hindu college, only for me to gain a couple of years of experience.

I worked there for four years and returned to Swami in 1979. At that time, they were looking for a teacher who could work for the junior college in Puttaparthi. They wanted someone who could teach in Telugu too. I was told later that Swami showed my application to Dr. Bhagavantham and said, Why don’t you call this boy?

That is how I was called to Puttaparthi. I came and when I sat in Darshan line, Swami came straight to me and said,Aaa…Emappa? Class theesuko, choosthaam.” (How are you? Take the demo class, I will see.)

I said, “OK, Swami”, and took Namaskar. I actually had never thought Swami would come to me!

I went to take the demo class. Three other lecturers were seated in that class. I started the lecture in English and then changed to Telugu. While I was lecturing in Telugu, Swami came in and sat in the last bench!

I looked at Him, and He said, Carry on!

I started writing chemical equations on the board.

Swami then asked one of the boys, What would happen if you consume more calcium?

The boy could not answer, and so He passed the question to me. Actually, I could not hear the question properly and communicated to Him the same.

Swami then answered the question Himself saying, If you take more calcium than needed, you will loose your teeth.” Then looking at me, He said, Good! Write big letters on the board so that they would be visible even to the people sitting at the back and went away.

I finished my lecture, came out of the class and was standing on the steps. Swami suddenly came there and said, Aa vaachaavaa? Namaskaram theesuko! Baga chesuko! (Oh, you are here! Take Namaskaram. Perform well.)

With that, I knew I was in. That was the initiation; that was how I came here and joined the Junior college.

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
In every situation, he sought His guidance...
....and the kind Lord explained with patience and love

H2H: So, how did the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School come about?

SRK: From 1979 to 1982, only the junior college existed. In 1982-83, a new building was constructed, and Mr. Anjaiah, the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, was expected to open the building. Swami arrived at the venue, but Mr. Anjaiah was late. Swami did not wait for Mr. Anjaiah, He entered the building passing below the ribbon and inspected the rooms. The school was formally opened by Mr. Anjaiah a little later.

H2H: Interesting!

SRK: The Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School was started in the new building, and I was instructed by Swami to take care of it.

H2H: So, that was how you were associated with the school. How was Swami’s involvement in the school activities in the early days?

SRK: Swami used to come to the school often. When the CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) inspection committee came to the school to check our functioning and grant us affiliation, Swami also came along with them. He even entered into my classroom!

He also used to come for the practice sessions of Christmas carols and sit in the portico of the school. He also gave two discourses in a small room of the school.

But the very first time when Swami came to the school, we, the teachers invited Him chanting Vedic hymns. All of us learnt Narayana Suktam just for this purpose!

H2H: Swami must have been extremely pleased. And about carols, this is something really good! We never knew that Swami used to come for carol practice sessions! Can you share with us any other experiences?

SRK: Yes, once I had to go to appear for my B. Ed. (Bachelor of Education) examination.

H2H: Oh, did Swami ask you to do B. Ed?

SRK: Yes, He asked me to do it. But I could not go and write the examination. That was the period of time, for some reason, Swami wasn’t talking to me often; I thought He was not so happy with me (or that is what I thought with my limited knowledge). I wanted to ask Swami to permit me to go and write the examination, but I did not have the courage. I was afraid, “What if He asked to me leave forever!” Thinking so, I did not ask Him. I thought, “Let it go! If Swami wills that I should write the exam, He will tell me.” Of course, that period cleared up, but then I forgot about it, thinking that I should wait for a clear directive from Swami.

I waited for ten years! In fact, I was asked to do B. Ed. in 1982-83. I prepared well but did not write because I could not a chance to seek His permission. After ten years, Swami asked Mr. Chakravarthi, who was then the Registrar of His University, “Why hasn’t Siva Ram Krishnaiah done B. Ed.? I told him to do it long back.”

It was only then that I actually went and wrote the exam. We never know how Swami’s plans are!

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
Swami visits the school to the delight of the Principal
He listened to his every prayar and answered too

H2H: It is all Divine design! Coming back to the school, can you recollect how Swami used to interact with the students?

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
Bhagavan blesses the Board examination hall tickets

SRK: Swami used to encourage the boys, in whatever program they took up. Be it a drama or a skit, Swami used to inspire them always.

Once, in 1984, Swami gave Discourses on the Geetha for almost 35 days! In those days too, Swami used to give opportunities to one boy from the institute and one from the school to speak every day. We had speakers on all the thirty-five days.

Swami used to call a few X or XII grade boys during morning Darshan and give them interviews. He used to create things for them and fascinate them. He loved and encouraged them like anything!

Once I was holding a set of examination hall tickets (for the Board examinations) in my hand waiting to distribute them to the boys. Swami came to me and said, I will distribute them. He gave hall-tickets to all the 80 boys personally! He continued this sweet and benevolent act for 2-3 subsequent years.

Once He also called the boys for an interview and explained to them how to prepare for examinations. We keep a copy of that divine lecture on the notice board every year during examination time for the boys to take advantage of it.

H2H: Can you relate any more instances where you witnessed the love that Swami has for students?

SRK: Yes! We used to conduct science exhibitions. Swami used to visit the school on these occasions, stand patiently at each model and ask the students to explain to Him what the model is all about. He came to each of the three exhibitions during the years 1994, 95 and 96. He spent hours together in each exhibition.

It is in one of those exhibitions, that the famous burglar’s alarm leela took place. The boy who was demonstrating the model of a burglar’s alarm to Swami, requested Him to put His Hand across the model, saying that it would ring the bell. Swami kept His Hand, but the bell did not ring! Swami then asked the boy to keep his hand in it. It rang! And this mysterious thing happened twice! Then Swami commented beautifully, I am not Chora; I am Chittachora. (I am not a stealer, but stealer of hearts.)

Once I was telling Him about a particular boy. Even before I started to talk about him, Swami told me his residential address. He said, Oh, that boy is from Bombay, isn’t he? He lives near Andheri. His father is a doctor…” In fact, I had never seen Swami speak to that boy before!

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
In the earlier days, Swami visited the school very often...
...and spent plenty of time with the teachers and the students

H2H: Moments like these are really a revelation to you, aren’t they?

SRK: Yes, what else do we want! Even now, I remember those incidents and derive such inspiration and satisfaction. He, of course, gives internal guidance so that we can carry on our work.

Whenever I took the results of the examinations of each class with me to Swami, He used to ask me how many students passed in first class, how many got through in the second class and similarly in third class. When there were one or two who passed in third class, Swami would be very concerned. Why did this happen? Ask the teachers to conduct special classes in the evenings for academically weak students. Make them work more and they will improve automatically. Nobody should be left behind,” He used to say.

H2H: Yes, for Swami, the fact that 99 boys have passed is not important but that one boy who failed is of note!

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
Where he will always abide...

SRK: Yes! That is His love! He built up the institution in such a way! For each student who was weak in academics, He asked us to appoint one boy who was senior to him as his mentor. The idea behind having student-mentors was that the boys would be able to exchange their ideas easily among themselves. We did it, and we are doing it even now. It works wonderfully.

H2H: Having served as a principal for so many years, you would have surely received lessons from Swami regarding running the institution. What has been your guiding principle? There must be a few things in your mind which always help you to self-check if you are going on the right track.

SRK: Well, everyday, as soon as I get up, I put before Swami the day’s work which I would be taking up that day and ask Him to guide me. And whatever is the first thought that I get after that, I do not question it. I firmly believe that it is Bhagavan’s message. I never faced any problem following this approach. Bhagavan has always been guiding me.

At times, I might not get a chance to seek His direct guidance. But during such times, I remind myself that whatever I do, it should bring glory to Him. I always question myself “Will Swami like this?” Only after an affirmation, I proceed. I also draw upon my previous experiences and His inner guidance to take decisions. When we act after thinking of Him, He is always there with us.

Click here to read the Second part of the interview.

- Heart2Heart Team


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Vol 6 Issue 08 - AUGUST 2008
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