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THE ZENITH OF HOLISTIC LEARNING

The Sublime Story of Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School,
Prashanthi Nilayam, India - Part 2


Part 1:
A School That Not Only Educates, But Elevates! -The Unmatched Mission of SSSHSS

Part 2:
Curriculum Designed to Train Future Torch Bearers -
A Typical Day in the Unique SSSHSS

Part 3:
‘The School Is His Making’ -
When God Becomes Guru, Guardian And Guide

Part 4:
Honing Talents to offer it as Homage - The Multifarious Extra Curricular Activities

TRAINED TO BE TORCH-BEARERS:
A TYPICAL DAY IN THE UNIQUE SSSHSS

“When Swami asked me to take care of the boys in the Sri Sathya Sai Hostel, the only direction He gave me was: ‘Keep the boys happy and ensure that love prevails always’,” says Mr. Janardhan, the Warden of Sri Sathya Sai Junior Boys’ Hostel. “And this has been the guiding principle behind all the multifarious activities that are planned each day for the boys in the hostel.”

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The tall Junior Boys’ Hostel, redolent with inspiring experiences and lofty memories
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The ever energetic Mr. Janardhan, the Warden of Sri Sathya Sai Junior Boys’ Hostel
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Learning to Love God

Illustrating the profound impact that this simple but sublime system has borne upon the young pupils, Mr. B. K. Misra, the English Teacher, says, “I once asked a very simple question to a boy. This young lad had completed his two years in the school and was about to join a professional course elsewhere. ‘Now that you are leaving School, can you tell me, Naresh, what have you learnt here?’ The boy did not even bat his eyelid and spontaneously said, ‘I have learnt to love God.’ I was stunned! I had never expected this from a boy who had barely two years of exposure to Swami and the system! That was the right answer! All the evil that we see in the world occurs because we have banished God from our lives. But he had learnt to love God! I felt, if he carried this love for God with him everywhere, then he would have achieved all that one needs to in life.”

Prayer: The Manna for the Soul

That is the magic of the Sai-suffused environment that pervades the hostel and the school completely. Love for God becomes every student’s second nature. One aspect which contributes greatly to maintain and enhance this milieu is prayer. It is for this reason that life in the hostel begins and ends with a prayer. The day starts early morning at 5 a.m. when the boys assemble in the Prayer Hall for the morning prayer and Suprabhatam.

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The daily schedule begins with morning prayer

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Starting the day by loving God and silencing the mind


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Self-Discipline Springs Naturally in Sai Ambience

Is it not difficult for the boys, especially those who are new to this disciplined way for life to get adjusted to such a schedule? “Well, before joining here, I always had this fear that I would not be able to get up early in the morning, because I had never done that earlier,” says Abhay, and continues, “But once I came here, I do not know what happened, I was able to do it without any problems. And now, it comes to me spontaneously.”

Nurturing the Body, Mind and Soul

After the morning prayer and an energy drink, the boys go out to the ground for jogging. This is followed by stretching exercises and the powerful Surya Namaskar or the ‘Sun salutation’ yoga-sequence. This allows the students to worship the Sun through a succession of 12 yogic postures and is considered as the best way to build up resistance against any malady in the body. Interestingly, it was Swami Himself who initiated this morning schedule. Mr. Habbu recalls, “After the Guru Poornima festival in July 1983, when a good number of students were down with viral fever, Swami was concerned and said that we must take steps to improve immunity in the boys. And that was the genesis of jogging and Surya Namaskar.

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Daily morning jogging to get the
mind and body awake and alert...
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...followed by physical exercises together to warm up the limbs for a productive day ahead
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Looking up to the Sun during a yogic posture
as part of early morning exercise
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The Surya Namaskar sequence is as
strengthening as it is soul-filling
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Once the stiffness of the body is gone, and the boys are active and agile, they shower and settle down for a sound breakfast. Soon, they are in the school, and now the mind has to be made still before the actual classes begin.

Sacred Chantings Prepare Mind for Learning

This is achieved through the chanting of Vedic hymns in the school Prayer Hall. The whole school learns and recites the Vedas together. This activity too was personally initiated by Swami. One fine morning in June 1983, Swami sent Mr. Veda Narayan, who had just finished his Masters in Philosophy, to the school with the instruction: ‘Go and teach Vedam to the students.’ “For me, it was a dream come true,” recalls Mr. Veda Narayan. “Because unlike elsewhere, where only a few are interested to learn these hymns, here the students were chanting Vedam en masse. This had never happened before. I was thrilled. The students here were fortunate to receive ancient learning and modern knowledge: Swami had blended it so beautifully.”

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The Veda practice sessions - an everyday event

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Collective prayer before the classes begin

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Veda chanting being led by a small group
to instill confidence and synchronicity

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They pour out their heart to God and
He in turn fills it with His Love
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Over the years, the impact this sacred initiative has had on the boys, and through them upon the world at large, is phenomenal and simply awesome. Keshav Harlalka, who passed out of the school in 1993 and currently is the Director of BHH Securities Pvt. Ltd, says, “I still chant the Vedic hymns I learnt at the school and they fill me with very strong energy.” Echoing the same sentiment is Jeffrey, an American who completed his XII grade in the school just this year (2008). “I have always enjoyed chanting Vedam,” he says and continues, “And I love it when we chant in front of Swami because I feel so much energy. Swami has always encouraged me to chant these hymns and is very happy when I do it perfectly with right intonations. Besides, this has given me a lot of confidence too. I know I can do anything if I put my mind into it.”

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"For me, teaching Vedic hymns is a dream come true" - Mr. Veda Narayan, the Sanskrit teacher
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Chanting the Vedas has given me confidence and fills me with energy, says Jeffrey, school alumnus
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Jeffery video

 
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Watch Jeffrey, an American, leading the school chanting Vedam during the School's morning prayer session
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It is with such attitude and mental alertness the boys finally enter their classrooms where they are taught the secular academic subjects, with generous doses of spirituality added in wherever appropriate and whenever necessary. Once the classes conclude in the afternoon, they rush to the hostel for a quick wash, and in orderly lines, proceed to the Mandir. Here begins their lessons for life, taught by the Divine Master in His own mysterious way - sometimes vocally, at other times silently; sometimes directly and at other times subtly.

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He is the Source, He is the Inspiration -
So they cling on to Him
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He takes care of their every little need - He is their Mother, Father, Guru and Guide, all rolled into one
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A Powerful Lesson – Straight from the Divine

Sharing one such life lesson, Vijay S. Prasad, an alumnus, says, “I was then in my X grade when Swami came by my side. I rose with a pen in my hand and said, ‘Swami, my exams are round the corner. Please bless me and this pen.’

“Swami then stared at me, and said, ‘What? Only you have exams? What about your classmates? Don’t they have tests too? It is wrong to pray only for yourself.’

“I immediately sensed the message and altered my prayer. ‘Swami, please bless all my classmates. Let each one of us do well.’ Swami was now all smiles. Very lovingly He blessed me and said, ‘Bangaru (golden one), that is the way you have to pray. Be selfless.’ Not only this, next He waved His hand, produced Vibhuti, placed it on my palm, and before leaving, blessed the pen too.”

That simple incident left a profound impact on the student’s heart of the need to place the collective good before self-interest, for each of us is a part of a larger whole.

All Knowing Sai Encourages Positive Thinking

Gauri, another alumnus who completed his grade XII in 2001, sharing his life-lesson from the Mandir sessions, says, “It was in 1999, I was in the X grade then. I had carried a few writing instruments to be blessed by Bhagavan along with my hall ticket to write the Board Exam. I also had a letter that I wanted to give Swami. When He came near me, I was lucky to get everything blessed. But suddenly I realized that I had forgotten to offer my letter. Just as this thought crossed my mind, Swami retraced His steps, removed the letter that was beneath my hall ticket and gently walked away without even saying a word. I was flabbergasted, to say the least. And then Swami asked us to sing songs. We sang, ‘Mother of mine…’ Swami was listening happily, but when the line ‘Without Your love, where would I be...’ was sung, He stopped us and said, ‘Why do you think negative? Do not sing ‘without your love…’, sing ‘with love…with love.’ What a great lesson it was on positive thinking! I know that in every situation of my life, all I have to do is hold on to Him and look at the bright side of every situation.”

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Sai's maximum time is for His students

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Enveloped by His Love eternally

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Supreme Teacher Awakens Inner Wisdom

The learning that happens in the Mandir is lasting and of immense importance in the life of every student. Students unanimously vouch that while knowledge is imparted in the school, it is in the Mandir that wisdom awakens in them. The net result is that they return spiritually charged to their hostel every evening. They now have a little time to spend just by themselves or practice a new talent, before its time for the dinner bell.

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Before partaking dinner...


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Prayer again before slipping into blissful sleep

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Following a wholesome and healthy vegetarian dinner, at the stroke of 8 pm, study hour begins, which continues till 9.50. They are then treated to a tasty night milk or an energy drink, and before the lights are off, all the boys sit together in their rooms and chant the night prayer. Thus ends every day in the hostel with the thoughts of God lingering in the students’ minds as they slip into the lap of the Goddess of night.

Part 1:
A School That Not Only Educates, But Elevates! -The Unmatched Mission of SSSHSS

Part 2:
Curriculum Designed to Train Future Torch Bearers -
A Typical Day in the Unique SSSHSS

Part 3:
‘The School Is His Making’ -
When God Becomes Guru, Guardian And Guide

Part 4:
Honing Talents to Offer it as a Homage - The Multifarious Extra Curricular Activities

Please Note: While this feature highlights the boys’ hostel and school, its counterpart, the girls school from Grade 1 through 12 functions in a separate facility and is popularly known as the Sri Sathya Sai Primary School, which is indeed a misnomer as the school also participates in the Grade XII CBSE. We hope to bring you a detailed story on it in the near future.

To know more about this school, please visit www.ssshss.org.in

Dear reader, how did you like this article? Did it inspire you in any way? Is it informative enough? Please write to us at [email protected] We look forward to your feedback, comments and suggestions to help us serve you better.

- Bishu Prusty
Heart2Heart Team


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Vol 6 Issue 07 - JULY 2008
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