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An interview with Mr. Y. Siva Rama Krishnaiah, Principal,
Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School - Part 2

He was totally new to the 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 (third from left), the current Principal of Swami's school in Puttaparthi

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.”

Click here to read the first part of the interview.

H2H: It is almost 25 years since the school started. What do you think are the achievements of the school?

Siva Rama Krishnaiah (SRK): The excellence of the students has increased steadily. In the infant stage of the school, Swami was expecting that hundred percent of the students should pass. Later He started asking us whether all students have obtained first class marks! We struggled for the first few years but slowly reached the target of all students passing with first class marks.

H2H: Which year was it?

SRK: In 1997, all the students had passed in first class. That year, before the summer course, Swami went up the stage and announced the results Himself!

H2H: So, that was the day of fulfillment!

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni

"In My view, 75% is the pass mark"

SRK: Yes. Bhagavan Himself acknowledged our efforts.

Earlier, one day when I received the examination results, Swami called me. He asked me about each and every boy, and I told Him the marks each one had got. Swami then, quite casually, said, In My view, 75% is the pass mark”.

That is how Swami groomed us! When you go to Swami with the result, He would not see what the result is. He would tell you what He wants for the future and we have to aim for it the next time.

This is the way we are being carried by Swami. It is like a child in his mother’s hands. He brought us to this level, step-by-step.

Now that we are in the ‘adolescent’ period; there are more eyes on us! Swami is protecting and inspiring us. Even now, in spite of so many commitments and constraints, He is spending so much time with us. He gives us chances to perform so many dramas and skits in His Divine presence.

H2H: Some may say that Swami’s physical interaction has reduced. But actually He gives His time to students more than anyone else!

SRK: Yes!

H2H: Given the number of dramas that Swami watched in the last one or two years, the opportunities that the students are getting are tremendous.

SRK: Absolutely! And there have been occasions when the students, who have their CBSE examination the next day are performing a play the previous day! And then these boys secure distinction in their final examinations! Is it possible anywhere else? That shows the presence of the Divine Hand in everything.

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
Students are not only an inevitable part of Prasanthi Nilayam celebrations, they also stage a plethora of other programs

H2H: And it shows how Swami wants all-round development and human excellence!

SRK: Yes. If you observe, for all the strong foundation that we give in the school to the students, the fruit is enjoyed by our institutions which impart further education to them. The ‘fruit’ is, in fact, for the whole world. In the GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering) examination, our boys bag more than 60% of the ranks. A lot of the research scholars who receive gold medals in the Sri Sathya Sai University every year are from our school. These boys are the ‘fruits’ who were ‘seeds’ when they were in our school.

Two of us from the staff even got national awards and Bhagavan blessed us.

H2H: How was that experience? Can you narrate that event?

SRK: Yes. In fact, that too is a lesson for me. The director of the CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) used to come to Swami. When he came here for the second time, he told us that he would send us an application form for a national award, and asked us to propose one among our staff for the award. We did not know what the award actually was.

H2H: Yes, for the staff in the school, the greatest award is the appreciation of Swami.

SRK: Yes! And the CBSE director sent us the application form and I took it to Bhagavan. Swami said, Emi award? Emi chesthaarata veellu?” (Which award is it? What is the purpose?)

I told Swami what it is all about and that they want us to propose one among us for the award.

Swami then said,Manakoddhule” (Leave it; we need not apply for it).

I asked Him, “What do I reply to them, Swami?”

“You tell them that all our teachers are the best. So, we cannot propose any single person for the award," He replied thus!

"You tell them that all our teachers are the best" - Swami with school teachers, more than 10 years ago

There I saw how loving Swami is! He never hurts anybody.

Two years passed in the same way. Every year they were sending us the application form, and when I would take it to Swami, He would give me the same reply.

But in the third year, they sent the application form directly on my name! This time, since they pre-selected my name, Swami said, Fill the application form and send it to them.

I did as He directed. With Bhagavan’s Grace, I got selected for the award and the award-giving ceremony was supposed to be on September 5, that is, on Teachers’ Day. But those were the days when Swami’s darshans were very uncertain; He used to come in the Golf cart.

I tried my best to obtain a chance to speak to Him, but with little success. I did not want to go the ceremony without obtaining Swami’s permission. Finally, one day, I went to the Poornachandra auditorium, which was His residence then. He did bless me and immediately permitted to go.

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
He always took directions from the divine and followed it steadfastly - Receiving the award from the President

I went to New Delhi, received the award and returned by flight. When Swami came to grant darshan the next day evening, He saw me and exclaimed, Oh! When did you come?

I went up to Him and showed Him the award.

Inthenaa? Inkemee ivvaledhaa? (Is this all? Didn’t they give you anything else?),” He said.

I told Him that by His Grace, I also received Rs. 25,000 and showed Him the D.D (Demand Draft). I added that the money too belonged to the school and that I was just an instrument in His Hands.

He said, Mancidhi, manchidhi. Unchuko, dhaggara unchuko (Good, good. Keep it with you.)

Only after three months, did He agree to my proposal of giving the prize money to the Central Trust.

Evidently, it was entirely His plan. Since the school had reached the ‘adolescent’ period, it had to receive the recognition due to it, and that is probably why He willed this event.

In 2005, one more staff member, Mr. Veda Narayan, received the award.

H2H: Though you receive these awards, the recognition that you look for ultimately is of course from Swami. What are Swami’s expectations?

SRK: Now, that most of the students are securing distinction, Swami has raised our target; He is now expecting the students to score above 90 percent. We will definitely achieve it.

H2H: Yes, when He sets the target; He gives us the strength to achieve it too.

SRK: Right. How much time are the students and the teachers here really left with after the multifarious extra-curricular activities they do? Within that limited time, we are able to achieve great results academically! That itself is clearly a miracle.

H2H: Academics are one thing. Can you tell us about the other facets of the school?

SRK: Well, we do not generally participate in any competitions with other schools. The sports event that takes place on 11 th of January every year is the only such event. We perform dramas before Swami and we have always received appreciation from the public as well as from Bhagavan for them.

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
This is the only award that every staff and student strives and prays for

H2H: What is the mission of the school?

SRK: The mission of the school is a part of Bhagavan’s mission. It is under His shade that this school grows. We want to spread His message of Love. Swami wants us to create a dynamic yet balanced personality out of every student.

H2H: Can you explain that, Sir?

SRK: Yes. As Swami says, a human being is composed of three parts – Head, Heart and Hands. Head stands for intellect. Hands represent service. Heart stands for the spirituality within. To achieve excellence in these three aspects is the goal of the school. Thereby all the three yogas – Karma (Work), Bhakti (Worship) and Jnana (Wisdom) are taken care of.

But if these three principles are simply studied and left aside, then the individual remains static. But when he puts them into practice, he becomes a dynamic personality.

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
Morning jogging for a sound body

Our routine, in fact, is planned to reflect these principles. Our boys are always kept busy without giving room for any diversion of mind. For them, change of work itself is rest, just as Swami says. The daily schedule which is being followed in the school by the students has been given by Swami Himself.

Whenever He gives us an instruction, we implement it immediately. For instance, it is Swami Himself who introduced the morning jogging into the curriculum in 1983-84. Swami also asked us to perform the sacred exercise Suryanamaskaram along with mantra! The students do yoga asanas, breathing exercises, etc.

In the human values course, we have a 30 percent component for the practice of the values. The teachers constantly observe and evaluate the students. They keep an eye on each boy’s punctuality, participation in various programs, the company he keeps, his manners and behaviour, relationship with teachers, etc. Out of 25, we have allotted 7 marks to these aspects. The remaining 18 marks are for testing their theoretical knowledge, which includes the discourses of Swami.

Though the students feel this disciplined curriculum a little difficult while they are in the school, they appreciate it fully once they have passed out of the school. After settling down in their lives, when they happen to come and meet us, they tell us how the school life had benefited them greatly.

H2H: You said that the mission of the school is to create dynamic and balanced individuals. Can you tell us instances where you saw the school living up to its mission? Any old boys of the school who made you feel so?

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
Swami always has time for His students

SRK: Striving for perfection is a continuous process. Coming to specific instances, you might be familiar with the incident that took place when the Super Specialty Hospital was under construction. One of our boys sent hundred rupees to Swami along with a letter. In the small note, He wrote thus: “Swami! I saved this money by washing clothes myself, thereby cutting down my laundry charges. And if these hundred rupees could be used for the construction of the Hospital, at least to buy one brick, my life would be sanctified.”

Swami came out very thrilled and showed those hundred rupees to all of us! If Swami is satisfied with us for one such moment, our lives would truly be sanctified. All our lives, we strive for one such glance of approval from Bhagavan. Isn’t it?

About 5-6 years ago, there was a big cyclone in India, and the school boys and teachers together pooled up to Rs. 40,000 within 40 minutes! They contributed this money from their own bank accounts and savings! Along with that, a large collection of clothes was also sent to the victims.

It is exactly this kind of compassionate hearts that Swami wants. That is why Swami stresses on ‘Educare’ rather than mere ‘Education’.

Also the boys help each other greatly. Irrespective of their tight study schedules and examinations, the boys themselves take care of the sick ones among them. We don’t ask them to help each other, but they do it on their own.

H2H: How do you feel when you talk to the old students?

SRK: We feel happy and satisfied when we see them settled in their lives. For a teacher, that’s the greatest satisfaction he can ask for in his life.

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
The Principal and the Warden of the school
with their Divine Master

When a boy, for instance, comes and tells me how the organic chemistry that I taught him had greatly helped him further in his life, I feel grateful to Bhagavan for rendering my efforts fruitful.

That’s why I have always loved the job of teaching, right from the beginning. I would never give it up. I never reduce the number of my lectures, even though I have many administrative responsibilities. I am a teacher first, and only then a principal.

I make myself available to the students and the staff till 8 pm everyday. Sometimes, even if there is no specific work, I stay in the school premises till that time. If the parents of any of any student come, I talk to them. Sometimes, if the boys have any questions related to the subject of chemistry, I clarify them at that time.

H2H: The school has crossed so many milestones in the past 25 years and come a long way, academically and even otherwise. Students have really made a mark in their careers. Can you recall some of the old boys?

SRK: There are thousands of them! There are at least forty to fifty doctors whom I remember clearly. Similarly many more engineers, software professionals, etc.; it is difficult to specifically name a few.

H2H: Where do you see the school 25 years from now, in terms of its mission?

SRK: We have to keep putting in the effort in the direction Swami expects us to. This school has inspired so many other Sai schools all around the world. Those schools seek guidance from us. And we are always improving ourselves; the school is getting better every year in one sphere or the other.

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
One of those priceless visits of Swami to the school

We need to be perfect; we are on the path to match up to Swami’s expectations. Though we have not reached our goal yet, we are on the path. More importantly, we are on the ‘right’ path since it is laid by Swami Himself. So, we can simply go straight even by closing our eyes. That’s the special advantage of being with Bhagavan.

The school will run without any impediments under all circumstances since it is under His Grace. We are only His instruments. He will take the school ahead whichever way He wants.

One of the good features of the school is that we ensure that there is hundred-percent participation from the students in every activity that we take up.

H2H: Can you explain this?

SRK: Take chanting of Vedic hymns, for instance. In other schools where this is done, only students from certain sects are allowed to learn. But in our school, even Muslim and Christian students learn and chant Vedic mantras. They also take a test in this. There is a student from America, Jeffrey, who chants these hymns very well, and he has received a lot of encouragement from Swami Himself.

H2H: It is amazing for the devotees to watch an American student chanting Veda with correct intonations!

SRK: Yes. Even in sports, we ensure that there is full participation from students. Teachers divide the responsibilities of various programs equally among themselves.

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
Every student participates in the Sportsmeet every year...
Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
And gives a splendid performace of teamwork, talent and creativity

When the students of a particular grade stage a drama, every student of that class gets involved in it one way or the other. Those who do not act, work backstage.

H2H: You will agree Swami is the sole inspiration and motivation behind the school. But in what forms does this inspiration sustain the school?

SRK: The teachers are highly dedicated and focused. Since every teacher joins here only because of His inspiration, they are absolutely committed. And with that dedication, comes unity. Harmony comes in easily among us because we are all likeminded. We do discuss different opinions but when we arrive at a decision, everybody follows it. This unity is very evident in our staff.

We, the teachers, voluntarily assign to ourselves various responsibilities and do our part meticulously. Even those teachers among us, who do not reside with the boys in the hostel, visit the hostel and help the students in the evenings. And this happens voluntarily! It is not out of pressure; it is not a duty assigned to us by anybody. We want to serve more, for we believe we are here only because of Him. We get satisfaction out of everything we do here.

The dedicated teachers of the school with their Sole Inspiration

H2H: I think every teacher here will have a wonderful story of how he came to Bhagavan.

SRK: Yes, each and every one of them has. And that is why they are able to stick to their job, even though many of them are over-qualified for the job of a school teacher. They never think of leaving the place. They are satisfied with whatever Bhagavan has given them. They are steadfast in their job and are concerned only about the wholesome welfare of the boys.

H2H: One last question, Sir. How did the association with the school help you personally?

SRK: Well, till I came here, I never knew what Vedic hymns really are. I thought only the priests in the temple chant these hymns while performing worship, but I never knew it can be learnt and chanted by any one.

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
The Master made him speak - an act
he was most afraid of

Till I came here, I never faced an audience; I never spoke in a microphone. Even in my college days, I used to skip classes whenever I had to present a seminar. In the beginning, when I came here, I told Swami that I cannot speak in public. When the new hostel was opened, Swami Himself excused me from speaking since He knew that I was hesitant to take the stage.

But on August 15 (India’s Independence Day), in 1993, Swami asked me about the programme in the school that morning. I replied that we only hoisted the Indian flag, sang a bhajan or two and then assembled in the Mandir. Swami immediately said, “No, you should speak at least for two minutes!

We must follow whatever Swami says. So, I opened up and spoke on the 15th of August the next year. From that day onwards, I make it a point to speak during such occasions.

So, it was a learning process all through. He motivates and inspires me always.

He has helped me even in my personal life. After my marriage, we did not have children for fourteen years. When we came here, Swami called us for an interview and said that we would have a child. But for the next two years, our condition remained the same. Yet, we never were dispirited. In general, both of us, spent our time only in service activities, nothing else.

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
The Principal's principal source of grace and guidance

Finally in 1984, she conceived but within five months, she had to undergo abortion. Swami then called us and said,Don’t worry. She will conceive again within the next three months.

And it happened just as He had said. Initially Swami told us that it would be a male child. But after she conceived, He casually came to me one day and said, Boys these days are leaving their parents. On the other hand, girls are good, they do not leave you.

I immediately got the hint that He was going to give us a female child. And that’s what had happened.

My whole life is what He has given me. I came here with an open mind; I never dreamt that I would become the principal of this school. If tomorrow He gives me any other responsibility, I will do it. This life is for Him. For what He has done to me, I cannot repay Him in any number of lives to come.

Being part of this school is a great chance that He has given me. Though there are eminent and distinguished people who need His attention, He calls me and talks to me. That itself is His mercy and a blessing. I am absolutely grateful to Him.

H2H: Can you recall any other personal experiences of His Love?

SRK: Even though He might not be available physically, His unseen Hand is always there behind everything. Two years ago, I met with an accident. It was during the Dasara celebrations. I had gone to do service near Kothacheruvu (a small town near Puttaparthi). The car, which I was driving, hit a tree. The vehicle was damaged completely but nothing happened to me except for a slight fracture! I opened the door of the car slowly and walked out! And there I saw our doctors coming along the same road for performing service activities! They immediately took me in their jeep to the hospital and gave me necessary treatment.

I was told later that physically Swami appeared very much tensed that day! Every ten minutes, He was sending someone to the hospital or asking another to call the hospital to enquire about me and also to give instructions to the doctors.

When I was discharged, I went straight to Swami and said, “I am very grateful to You, Swami!”

“Ah! You were going up. I caught your collar and brought you down,” He replied.

Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
Swami and Me Sai Krishnaveni
He has given his life to Him and He has lovingly accepted it
The all powerful and ever protecting Grace

H2H: Wonderful.

Thank you so much for your time, Sir! Talking to you was very enlightening. Swami has brought so many people to work here so mysteriously.

SRK: And remains silent as if He does not know anything!

H2H: Yes, only on hindsight one knows how much Swami has done! Thank you once again.

- Heart2Heart Team

Click here to read the first part of the interview.

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Vol 6 Issue 09 - SEPTEMBER 2008
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