Volume 10 - Issue 02
February 2012
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Posted on : Feb 15, 2012




- a conversation with Vinod Cartic, an alumnus of SSSIHL


Vinod Cartic (VC) hails from Jamshedpur, a city in the State of Jharkhand, East India. He joined Baba’s institution in 2005 to pursue his Masters in Business Administration (MBA), soon after graduating with a degree in chemical engineering from IIT Chennai, one of the top three engineering and technology institutes in India. Earlier, Vinod received his schooling at the Loyola School in Jamshedpur.

It is worthy of mention that Vinod held a trailblazing track record as a student. He was a recipient of gold medals both at IIT Chennai and at Baba’s University in Prashanti Nilayam. Vinod completed his MBA degree with brilliant scores in 2007. Since then, he has opted to stay back at Prashanti Nilayam and continues to be associated with service initiatives that have been implemented under the direct guidance and instructions of Bhagawan.

In a one-on-one conversation with Radio Sai's Bishu Prusty, Vinod tracks his journey to Baba’s University, his learning there, his deep-rooted convictions, his decision to stay on at Prashanti Nilayam, his novel service initiative and the most cherished moments of his life.

This conversation was originally done for the Radio Sai series “Fleeting Moments, Lasting Memories” in October 2011. Presented below is the edited transcript.

Listen to the Radio Programme



Part - 1



Radio Sai (RS): Sai Ram Vinod. Let’s start with what made you join Swami’s institution. Your decision intrigues me particularly because as a graduate from IIT Chennai, which is the dream destination for every aspiring engineering student, one would think your career is made. Instead, you opted for further studies. And, if your choice was to do a degree in management, you could have sought admission in any of the IIMs that are regarded as premier management institutes in India. So, why Puttaparthi?

Vinod Karthik (VK): I will have to go back to the time when I first had a darshan of Swami, back in 1998. Fortunately for me, and by His grace, at the very first glance, I knew He was God. That apart, ever since childhood, I had wanted to become an engineer. This is the average dream of almost every kid in Jamshedpur – also called the Steel City – where every other person is an engineer.

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Mr. Vinod Cartic in the studios of Radio Sai, October 2011  

Fortunately, and by Swami’s grace, I cleared the IIT entrance examination in 2001 and joined the institution. Throughout those years of study, the thought that I had seen God kept playing on my mind. And, I would ask myself, “If He is God, what should I do to get closer to Him?”

I am fortunate to be hailing from a joint family that is spiritually inclined. With such values deeply ingrained in my siblings and me from early childhood, I would draw parallels and think how fortunate were people like Lakshmana who could stay close to Rama or the people who could be around Krishna. And, over time, I became more and more convinced that if we indeed have an avatar in our time, the only thing I had to do was to be with Him.

So, even during my student years at IIT, I would try and visit Prashanti Nilayam at least once a month.

RS: Once a month?

VC: Yes, I would come here and enjoy the darshans - whether they were in Brindavan or Prashanti. There were a few occasions of course when I would rush for darshan at four o’ clock in the morning, to sit in the line to get a coupon…it was all a part of the game.

RS: Or the ecstasy of being a devotee?

VC: Absolutely! During these visits, I would look at the students and admire their proximity to Swami. This convinced me about where I really wanted to be. Ultimately, it all came down to living up to my conviction that if there is God on earth, I have no other place than to be with Him.

If it is a rare achievement to win a gold medal at the IIT, it is a rarer blessing to be able to offer it to the Lord. (Left) Mr. Cartic receiving the gold medal at IIT Madras. (Right) He is offering the medal and the certificate to Bhagawan during a mandir session after he joined SSSIHL for his MBA.

As you rightly mentioned, I did have other opportunities after I graduated from IIT. I could have pursued my studies abroad or taken up a lucrative job. But I think Swami made the choice for me and a life-altering one at that, in leading me to the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning.
Memories of First Darshan - “He is God! Full Stop!”

RS: Could we go back to 1998, when you saw Swami and knew right away that He is God?

VC: I have always been a believer in intuition. Right from my childhood, I have felt there are things that could not be quantified by reason. I know the scientific community to which I belong to does not fully agree with this. But even today, I believe that not everything is logically arguable or debatable. Meeting Baba and experiencing that feeling of Godliness was one such instance. If someone were to ask me if Swami is God because He made this super-specialty hospital or because He spearheaded a huge water project or because of X, Y, or Z, my response would simply be ‘it has nothing to do with any of that. He is God, full stop’.  My logic is as fundamental as that. And I don’t think it is so much a matter of discussion for me.

Receiving the gold medal for distinction in MBA, from the Divine Chancellor - Nov 22, 2007  

RS: And you had this conviction in the first darshan?

VC: In the very first eye-contact I had with Swami. Yes, that’s a great blessing because I didn’t have to go through the rigmarole that many other devotees experience!

IIT Hostel Vs. Sathya Sai Hostel

RS: Let’s go back to your student days. You stayed in the hostel within the IIT campus, and then you moved into the hostel at Baba’s university. How were the two experiences different? Did you find it a welcome experience or was it difficult to adjust?

VC: At IIT, we had personal rooms, access to the internet, and a lot more facilities than we have at Prashanti Nilayam where the emphasis is more on community living and holistic learning. At the hostel in Baba’s university, there were 12-14 students to a room with individual cupboards. I feel that putting me earlier through a system where I had more facilities was also, in a way, a blessing from Swami. However, as I was visiting Prashanti Nilayam ever so often, the change wasn’t very apparent to me when I did join the institution.

With regards to ambience, both the hostels offered a lot of avenues for fun. However, at IIT, those moments would sometimes extend beyond the domain of ‘fun’ – if you get my point.

Whereas, in Prashanti Nilayam, the concept of 'fun' is spectacular! I recall the Gokulashtami celebrations used to be a wonderful mingling of our culture, tradition and youthful boisterousness.

At the end of the day, when I look back, I know that it’s as simple as - fun without discipline is vulgarity. And that is what completely distinguishes this college. Spirituality is not about seriousness; at least I have understood that. It is about a lot of fun. Here, you learn to enjoy fun as it should be enjoyed and make sure it remains an enjoyment and not as Swami says: “The end of joy!”

sathya sai students, hostel,radiosai sathya sai students, hostel,radiosai sathya sai students, hostel,radiosai sathya sai students, hostel,radiosai sathya sai students, hostel,radiosai sathya sai students, hostel,radiosai sathya sai students, hostel,radiosai sathya sai students, hostel,radiosai
The Gokulashtami festival being celebrated with fun and frolic at the senior boys hostel in Prasanthi Nilayam

If I were to capture one learning from both these systems, it would have to be about the essence of spirituality - living life beautifully. You don’t need to go to the Himalayas or watch a movie to do that -  it is about how you really live life wherever you are – enjoyably and at the same time helping those around you. The solution is pretty simple!

RS: Yes, Swami has given a very beautiful definition of spirituality - “Spirit of love is spirituality!” Swami really epitomized that. He was the colossus of all spiritual knowledge and we always enjoyed being in His presence. There was never a dull moment in His company.

VC: I would like to add to that thought. I have always loved the charisma of Lord Krishna. I would look at Krishna, read about Krishna in the Bhagavatam and think, ‘Wow! This is the guy who stole butter and who wrote the Gita at the same time. This is amazing. This is what I ever want to be if I ever can.’ This state of being, I think, is spirituality: fun, and yet the highest source of knowledge.  All-in-one!

RS: You mentioned that even as a student you were spiritually moored. How did this reflect in your relationship with your peers?

VC: It’s not uncommon for people to think that IIT students are academic nerds, technical guys and all they think of is studies. This is not true at all. There are several students who have varied interests and talent. I have shared some very special moments with some of my teachers at IIT, just as I have with teachers in Prashanti Nilayam. In fact, I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of them for having shaped my life in so many ways.

sathya sai hostel sathya sai hostel sathya sai hostel sathya sai hostel sathya sai hostel sathya sai hostel sathya sai hostel sathya sai hostel
The lives of students, in Bhagawan's educational institutions effortlessly revolve around Him.
(Above) Swami in the hostel for senior boys, in Prasanthi Nilayam, 2003.

Reverting to your question, my conversations with friends or faculty would typically hover and come back to what is culture, what is spirituality, what is life all about, and who are we? In fact, I would even say that my interest in such discussions started as early as my school days!

I found that in Prashanti Nilayam there is more of a guided discussion – perhaps because of the direct contact that we enjoyed with Swami or through our interactions with people who were close to Swami.




- Radio Sai Team

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