November 22, 2008 - 27th Convocation Day of Sri Sathya Sai University
The dawn of November 22 saw hectic activity in Sai Kulwant Hall as the Muddenahalli students worked in great zest and zeal to play what has now become their annual role in the Convocation ceremony of the Sri Sathya Sai University. Swami has chosen them to do all the decorations for the ceremony for which He is the host! And every time, they do a job that fills Him with joy and satisfaction. By 1:00 p.m., the whole Sai Kulwant Hall wore a new look. The stage was tastefully decorated with flowers of various hues. A beautiful arch decked with flowers bearing the letters XXVII Convocation of Sri Sathya Sai University was placed at the western end of the hall to welcome Swami. Another arch bearing the same lettering embossed in gold was placed near the gate facing the dais. At about 2:00 p.m., Swami came in the car to inspect the arrangements.
All those students graduating on the day were seated in the central marble block. Swami got down and with the first view of the decked stage, He seemed overwhelmed. His face seemed to say, "It's so beautiful!" He wanted to test the switch that would light up the decorated board to mark the "Convocation being declared open" by the Chancellor. As those lights came on, His face lit up! He then moved along both the right and left wing of the stage and inspected the arrangements. When He came on stage, two students came up to Him with the convocation robes. The post graduate students had a brown coloured robe while the undergraduates had light blue. He saw the robes but blessed the students! He then wanted to go to the eastern side of the stage and for that He had to literally wade through the boys.
Having satisfied Himself that all was fine, Swami was about to leave when from the corner of His eye, He saw an ex-student. Well, the concept of ex-student is only from the University angle. As far as Swami is concerned, once you are His student, you always remain as one. He called him to His side and enquired about his well-being. He also asked him, "How is the decoration?" The boy told the truth - that it was magnificent. Swami was so pleased, and as they say, when God is very happy, He bestows that look which fulfills all the desires of those on whom that look falls on. It appeared to be that kind of a look! Then, moving through the veranda where the roof had been decorated, He reached the other end of the Mandir. The veranda had been curtained from public view and so His journey through it was like a ride in a dark corridor. As He moved near His beloved students, they mobbed around Him. Like bees hovering around a flower, they buzzed near Him and Swami smiled warmly and spoke to some of them. Then, getting back into the car, Swami drove back to Yajur Mandir.
The 27th Annual Convocation of Sri Sathya Sai University was held as a glittering ceremony which it richly deserved for the matchless service it has been rendering in the field of education for more than a quarter century now. This prestigious institution that promotes value education with spiritual orientation, a chiseller of wonderful students whom Swami prefers to address as His future ambassadors, has thousands of students as its alumni who are engaged in relentless service activities in different parts of the world. The regal convocation procession began at 3.50 p.m. led by the students of the Institute Brass Band. They were followed by two students on either side holding the scepter with the Institute insignia embossed on it. The Registrar of the University carried the ceremonial mace. Members of the Governing Body and Members of the Institute Trust followed them. Swami came out of the Yajur Mandir in a beautiful maroon robe and as always was the shining star and life of the procession. As the procession moved on Swami did something so wonderful and beautiful - something that comes very naturally to Him.
Sitting on the chair, Swami was engulfed by the procession in such a manner that surely none would be able to see Him when He arrived into the Sai Kulwant Hall. So after being part of the procession for a few moments, He asked to be moved out of it. As the entire procession entered the Sai Kulwant hall, He sat watching it. He told the photographers nearby, "The procession has gone there. Go there and shoot.....Why here?" Surely, He knows as well as anyone else why they were there and not with the procession! Then He started. As Swami entered the hall, there was a huge burst of applause. Whatever is the occasion or ceremony, the Lord remains the heartthrob of His devotees. Swami moved gently through the rows of capped graduates from both the men’s' and women's campuses. Then, via the 'filled-to-the-capacity' marble block Swami made His way to the stage.
The revered chief guest this time was Prof. G. Venkataraman, a man of superhuman achievements both in the scientific world as well as in the sphere of Swami's mission. Educated at the University of Madras, he had an illustrious career. He has rendered yeoman service to the nation, starting his career at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). He also held the position of Director, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). In recognition of his services, he was elected President of Indian Physicist Association. He was also conferred the prestigious national honour “Padma Shri” by the Government of India. Being the director of the Prashanti Digital Studios and the world renowned Sai Radio channel “Radio Sai Global Harmony”, he has been a true instrument in the Lord's hands. It was no surprise that Swami had decided to bestow him with that exalted honour on this day. At the outset, Prof. Vishwanath Pandit, the Vice Chancellor of the University garlanded the Chief Guest Prof. G. Venkataraman. He also welcomed the prominent guest from the UGC, the Vice Chairman of University Grants Commission, Prof. Moolchand Sharma. The proceedings began with the customary Vedic chant which has a lofty meaning to consider the mother, father, preceptor and guest as God, and hold them in high esteem. The Vice Chancellor then requested the Chancellor, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba to declare the convocation open.
Swami held the mike and everyone in the audience - their breath. With a sweet smile and even sweeter voice, Swami said, "I declare the Convocation open" and thunder seemed to strike the Sai Kulwant Hall. There was genuine pure joy on every face as people applauded with all their might. The Vice Chancellor then delivered his opening address. The highlight of this was the statement of the UGC committee that he quoted, "Rather than the University having a need for the UGC, the UGC needs the University." The candidates for the various degrees were then presented to the Chancellor. The Vice Chancellor then administered the oath to the students. This was followed by medal distribution ceremony.
The gold medalists received their most cherished dreams - the medal from the Divine Hands! The feeling of a gold medalist as he/she goes on stage to receive the award from Swami is something that no other will understand. If an actor gets the Oscar or a soldier is awarded the ParamVir Chakra, that joy is still lesser compared to this medal from Swami. It is as if Swami is saying, "I am happy and proud of you, My child." And that is enough for this birth and later births too, if any! The students made no secret of that joy as they posed beside Swami for photographs after getting the medal. Swami too smiled broadly at the photographers for He knew that these pictures would be something that not only the medalists but their generations to come would treasure and cherish.
This year 437 students received their degrees, and 20 students were decorated with gold medals by Bhagavan. Five students had completed their doctoral dissertations from the departments of Mathematics, Physics, Finance (2 students) and Economics.
The Chief Guest of the Convocation, Prof. G. Venkataraman began his convocation address by expressing his gratitude to Bhagavan for conferring upon Him the honour of being the Chief Guest of the 27th Convocation. Prof. Venkataraman congratulated the graduates not for only for their degrees, but mainly for being the students of Bhagavan. His entire talk traced the wonderful story of the University intertwined in which were the many love stories between Swami and His students. One story will suffice as an example. When in 1975, the Brindavan College was growing and the hostel was relatively small, Swami wanted to build a spacious hostel near the sports ground, which was a few meters away from His compound. All preparations were being made by Col. Joga Rao, the Central Trust Engineer. A day before the ground breaking ceremony, Swami came to hostel.
Then a student gave a letter to Swami. He read the contents of the letter and then asked the student whether He could ask the warden to read the letter for the benefit of all the other boys. The student readily agreed. He had expressed his anguish at being separated from Swami. He had written, "Swami why are You so upset that You are distancing us from You?" Swami was so moved by the sincere prayer of this boy that He immediately changed the plans to construct the hostel at the distant location. Instead the hostel was now built close to His residence. The erudite speaker said that the current economic meltdown was due to the uninhibited consumerism without any regard to moral values. And thus, it is that the Sathya Sai University gains profound importance. His talk moved many a member of the audience to nostalgic and joyous tears of hope. As he completed his speech, he received a loving congratulation from Swami. Then, Bhagavan asked for His mikes to be brought. Along with the mikes came a feeling of anticipative joy in all. Given below is a summary of Swami's discourse:
Bharat is the motherland of many noble souls who earned great reputation in all the continents of the world. This is the land of many valorous people who could vanquish the enemies in the battlefield. This is the land of many learned people who taught the Vedas and other sacred scriptures to the people of other countries. But, unfortunately, the Bharatiyas today have forgotten the principles of spirituality and are taking to wrong path. (Telugu Poem)
Boys and Girls!
It is your responsibility to uphold the glory of this country, Bharat. This country Bharat is highly reputed and is the land of plenty and prosperity. In spite of many foreign invasions, this country has prospered. The real beauty in this land is the observance of forbearance. There is no greater feeling than the one each one has towards one's own mother. This country Bharat is known for women of chastity. Savitri could bring her dead husband back to life. Do you find such chaste women in any other country? This is also the birthplace of Damayanti. Mother Sita came out of blazing fire unscathed to prove her chastity. Today everyone seems to succumb to silly problems. People seem to have forgotten their responsibilities. Just as a mighty elephant submits to the dictates of the mahout, the Bharatiyas are unaware of their own strength and are aping others. Truth and righteousness have been the guiding principles of Bharat. Since these twin principles are forgotten by the Bharatiyas they are suffering.
Man should declare that I am a human being not an animal. When he declares that he is a human being, he should have human qualities and not animal qualities. Where there is love, there is no chance for hatred or enmity. The dog loves its puppies and the birds love their young ones, but modern man does not love his fellowmen. Today, there is no unity in Bharat. Where there is unity, there is purity; where there is purity, there is divinity.
Man should develop faith in the Self. But man today lacks Self-confidence. Self-confidence leads to self-satisfaction, self-satisfaction in turn leads to self-realization.
Human quality is still prevalent in Bharat. In other countries, there are so many problems. Today, even countries like U.S.A. and Japan are envious of Bharat. Today the food, water and even air are polluted. Bharat faces no such pollution problems.
Man is verily God. But man is not able to know his true nature. Education leads to only argumentation. Modern education is not conferring the knowledge of the Self. Parents spend many lakhs to send their children abroad for studies. But they return totally spoiled. There is no need to go abroad. What is available in Bharat is not available elsewhere. The greatness of Bharat is beyond estimation. The kind of fortune that you find is Bharat is not found anywhere. There are many people who invite Swami to foreign land. They are prepared to bring airplanes to take Bhagavan with them. I do not want these comforts, I want only devotion. There are no enemies of Swami. Swami loves everyone. But His pure divine love is often misunderstood.
If your desires are fulfilled, you are sure to be spoiled. So, Swami is training youngsters here with all limitations. Students have great love for Swami. As Swami leaves this place to go elsewhere, they bid farewell with tears. Such is their love. He is an intelligent man who helps those who have harmed him too. That is true human quality. Whomsoever you meet, consider him as God. God is in human form. Rama, Sita, Hanuman - all were humans. All are divine. Names may be different, but the principle of Atma is the same in all. It is necessary to develop equal-mindedness at this young age. You may think it is difficult, but in reality it is easy. You will not experience this in spite of doing Yajnas and rituals. In the outside world, there are only pieces. Peace is within you.
You call yourself as humans and behave like an animal. Evil qualities like greed, avarice, hatred are animal qualities. Be a human with fellow human beings. Do not hate anyone. Till this moment, Swami has not hated anyone. Bhagavan is full of love. Swami maybe at a distant place, but divine love is drawing people like magnet. He is not angry with anybody. He is always happy. Bhagavan always smiles. Swami wants you to be blissful. Swami has not sent any invitation to anyone, but thousands have gathered here. It is only your love for Bhagavan that has drawn you here. When Bhagavan goes in the streets, shopkeepers come running out of their shops to have His Darshan. On this sacred day, one has to develop love primarily. Very soon the world will be united under one roof. Nobody would say, I am from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and so on. Everybody would call themselves a Bharatiya. We do not belong to any party. We have only the party of love. You may go anywhere; you will be respected and honoured if you have the party of love. Love is selfless. A true man is one without an iota of selfishness. Every human being has love. There is no greater quality than love. Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu (May all the beings of all the worlds be happy!). This should be our prayer if we want the world to be peaceful. This is the message of Swami today.
Swami concluded His discourse with the bhajan ‘Hari Bhajana Bina’. But there was another beautiful thing that happened. Swami keeps telling, "My boys are my voice." This day, after singing the first line, Swami told the boys to lead! The whole bhajan was sung by the students as the rest of the Sai Kulwant Hall followed. It was a wonderful feeling and Swami watched on with a gleam in His eye. As that bhajan concluded, Swami told everyone to rise for the national anthem. The Institute brass band struck up the national anthem and everyone joined loudly in chorus.
As the ceremony concluded, announcement was made that in another 20 minutes there would be a cultural programme by the students of the University - a play "Divya Premashrayam" (Under the Umbrella of Divine Love), in the Poornachandra Auditorium.
Anand, an alumnus of Sri Sathya Sai University, rejects offers from many top companies and decides to dedicate his youthful years in uplift of villages. He chooses a village called Ramanathapuram for this endeavor. There, he joins forces with an educated and hardworking youngster named Krishna for the hard task at hand. Anand gets a glimpse of the difficulty ahead at his first meeting with the village elders. During his arrival there is an altercation between two brothers on a property issue. Anand attempts to resolve the issue by various means, and having gained their goodwill narrates the story of the two great brothers from the Ramayana, Sri Rama and Bharatha.
Sage Vasishta and King Janaka are the arbiters between the two brothers. On one hand there is Sri Rama who having got the command from His father is firm that he will not return to Ayodhya till He completes 14 years in the forest. On the other side is Bharatha who emphatically states that only Lord Rama has the right to ascend the throne and that he will take his brother’s place in the forest. Sage Vasishta raises his hands in surrender and says that he is incapable of judging in this confrontation not between two brothers but between Dharma (Righteousness) and Prema (Love) itself. He requests King Janaka to do the honours. The Rajarishi then delivers a landmark judgment. He informs Rama that in a battle between Dharma and Prema, Prema has to be the victor. He then instructs Bharatha that though Prema is the victor, Prema by definition is selfless and hence, he should ask what his brother desires and act accordingly. The scene ends with Bharatha taking the padukas (sandals) of his brother and agreeing to rule the kingdom as the caretaker but not the king.
Moved by the story, the brothers decide to set aside their differences and work together. What follows is a golden period for the village when Ramanathapuram becomes a model village enriched with development and communal harmony. However, the wheels of fortune turn and the village is engulfed by ravaging floods and epidemics. The same people who lived peacefully in the past now change in the face of crisis. Selfishness becomes the order of the day. Anand is devastated and in a moment of severe introspection cries aloud to his Lord. He opens a book of Bhagavan's messages to his students and reads about the enthralling story of Emperor Shivaji.
Faced with a severe crisis wherein his kingdom was becoming weak internally and the power of his enemies was growing exponentially, Shivaji longs to call it a day and renounce his kingdom. At that moment, Shivaji's guru, Sri Samartha Ramadas enters and offers to give Shivaji renunciation. Shivaji surrenders his crown and sword to the sage and accepts the ochre robes. On the enquiry of Sage Ramadas he reveals that he feels extremely peaceful now. Content with the answer, the holy one commands Shivaji to rule the kingdom on his behalf from thereon and returns the crown to Shivaji.
Having learnt this lesson in non-doership, Anand now becomes the very embodiment of peace, and he feels confident that Swami will take care, and sets aside the burden from his shoulder. No sooner had he done this, he learns that Swami has sent a contingent to the village to rebuild the houses. The whole village gathers together again in gratitude to Bhagavan. The story was based on the recent announcement that Swami made about rebuilding the homes and in fact, the lives of flood affected people in Orissa.
After the drama, Swami blessed the participants with group photographs onstage before accepting arati and retiring for the day at 8.20 p.m. The group photograph session this time had a new flavour as Swami posed for photographs with the "Sets' boys" too as they are called (the boys who set-up the stage). And so, scores of boys in black dresses surrounded The Orange and had pictures taken. Swami, then, blessing everyone, moved backstage and finally retired. An announcement was made about breakfast and lunch being provided tomorrow free to all as Bhagavan's prasadam on the occasion of His 83 rd Birthday.
Dear reader, how do you like this section? Does it help or inspire you in anyway? Please share your reflections with us by writing to [email protected]g mentioning your name and country. Thank you for your time.
- Heart2Heart Team