Volume 15 - Issue 09
September 2017
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Posted on: Sept 02, 2017

Insights Gleaned at Bhagawan Baba's Primary School

by Ms. Yogita Mariwala

A Bal Vikas student in Mumbai right from the age of 5, Ms. Yogita Mariwala joined Bhagawan's college in 1987 for her XI grade and went on to do her Bachelors in Sciences from the Anantapur campus of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. Later, on Bhagawan's direction she pursued and completed her Bachelors in Education in the same campus in 1992. After this Bhagawan graciously gave her the opportunity to serve in the girls wing of Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School, Prasanthi Nilayam. She has been teaching biology to middle and high school students for more than two and half decades. Meanwhile she did her Masters in Environmental Biology too from Kuvempu University in 2011.


The genesis of my tale lies in a casual conversation I had with one of our ex-students.

It is said, “Whomsoever you encounter is the right one”. This means that no one comes into our life by chance. Anyone with whom we interact represents something, whether it is to teach us something or to help us improve a current situation.

My Introspection on Information Begins...

So it was that a student was recounting the beautiful days when Bhagawan would visit His primary school unannounced and throw everyone into spirals of thrill, joy and excitement.


She then went on to relate that on one occasion she had an almost one–to–one audience with Bhagawan as He entered her classroom. Pointing to a large pile of thick books stacked on the desks of students, He asked, “Are these all text books or are there note books also?”

She answered, “Swami, most of them are text books but some are note books too.”

Swami sombrely replied, “So much information... so many thoughts...”

That's it! That's when the colour drained from my face and I felt limp! The next few days were agony...

This was because I had been teaching at middle and high school levels and being a science and biology teacher, this was what I did—giving students massive amounts of information!

My classroom in fact has a permanent ‘Fact–Fantasy’ board where I constantly pin additional information on new scientific discoveries, inventions and innovative technologies. I encourage my students to read and my class is full of ‘little excited exploring encyclopaedias’!

But here was Swami saying that all this information only made more thoughts!

Of course in my class we discussed a lot of human value topics too and I told the kids all about Swami's life, miracles and teachings.

But there was no taking away the fact that I had been responsible for loading my kids' minds with useless information and thoughts. Try as I might I could not get rid of this guilt.

The days passed by grimly. Now when I entered the class and little Sai Charan came bouncing towards me excitedly saying, “Ma'am, did you know that spiders have blue blood as their oxygen is bound to haemocyanin, a molecule containing copper and not iron containing haemoglobin?” I felt my haemoglobin drop down further!

Many a conversation did I have with the elderly teaching staff. They all wisely suggested that I offer all my work to Bhagawan and talk more about Him in my classes. But I felt this was a pertinent question, not just for students and teachers but for every single person in this world of exploding information and technology.

Taming the Mind to Train the Heart

Then one day my father, a long-standing devotee of Bhagawan, noticed that I was moping around with a lugubrious face and asked me the reason. Hearing my dilemma, he answered with great clarity.

He explained that Bhagawan never meant that we should stop giving or receiving information or that thoughts should not be formulated on the basis of that information. Bhagawan only meant that we must learn to use our minds as instruments and switch them off when not needed.

The capacity to use the mind effectively on one subject with concentration is what we need to teach the kids. The mind could thus be compared to a pencil. If the pencil started writing on its own accord, it would fail to be a fit instrument in the master's hand. So too the mind needs regulation.

Hence, perhaps the training Bhagawan wanted to impart to us and our students was to find ways to quiet the mind when not needed and to give the kids time to refocus, calm themselves and just be!

One teacher confessed, “I realized I was racing along in class on speed skates with my kids and zipping through activities and tasks. At first, I thought I was adapting to their attention spans but I realized that rushing through at such speed was shortening their attention spans. I needed to slow down first.”

I can say that slowing down my breathing, talking and racing around was powerful for me and my students. As teachers, we are meant to set the pace and help our students match us.

Bhagawan gives a wonderful analogy of two racing horses. He says, “When two horses are galloping side by side, the slower one too is seen to move in sync with the faster one. This is because it bucks up in order to keep pace with the faster one; this happens naturally. So too, when you are in My presence, your mind is elevated till it matches my vibrations.”

My brother once had the opportunity to ask Bhagawan, “Swami, the mind is so troublesome. Yet how do we work without the mind?”

Swami answered by pointing to his spectacles and said, “Why do you need these specs? It is because your vision is defective. They help you to operate and navigate around the world; though they are burdensome, you need them. But when your vision is corrected, you will throw them away. So too with the mind, you need it now. But once you are more spiritually mature its role is redundant.”

One of the things we constantly remind our students about is: Study to be Steady!

Hence movement is good for the body but stillness is good for the mind. Only then can we move forward.

The minds of Bhagawan's tiny tots are like fertile soil. As teachers our job is only to sow seeds. When and how they sprout is Bhagawan's wonderful play!

Words Arising from Deep Conviction Go Deep Down the Hearts Forever

Many years after he had left the school, one of my students returned to tell me this.


He recalled that one day the class was making a lot of noise just before setting out for evening darshan on a Thursday (the Prasanthi Nilayam school children go for darshan on Thursday and Sunday evenings). When I entered the class I was annoyed and chided them for being so noisy and talkative.

I went on to say, “You are going to see God manifest on earth and you don't realize it. The whole world is coming here praying for His darshan and you are wasting your energy talking. He is the Lord of the universe! He is Rama and Krishna come down again.”

At that moment something happened to this little boy and he was filled with only one thought “Swami is God. GOD!”

This thought just filled his whole being, so much so that when he saw his father as he walked down for darshan, he shook his father's hand and shouted “Appa, Swami is God. He is God. Did you know that?” His bewildered father just nodded.

Then, when the boy sat for darshan, Swami came near him and looked deeply into his eyes, reaffirming this wonderful realization. He says that this one experience was so immensely powerful that he developed strong faith. Even to this day, there is this deep conviction at the source which nobody can shake, no matter in what surrounding he is placed.

Mindfulness - The Basis for a Stilling and Filling Life

I remember a kid in the primary classes from Manipur who was very good at drawing. We would watch him spend hours by himself, perfecting his little picture creation, oblivious of the usual movement and jostling regularly seen in third–graders. His focus was so great that he would not talk for hours. He was totally indrawn. Such talent is generated from an inner stillness.

Research shows that learning at an early age, especially till the age of 10, shapes our attitudes and personalities to a large extent. Hence in Bhagawan's primary school too, He has lovingly laid down in the curriculum a ten-minute silent sitting session before going to bed, right from grade 1 (age 6 years).

Meditation is thus a journey from sound to silence, from movement to stillness and from a limited identity to an unlimited space. Bhagawan has also included yogasanas and jyothi meditation in the curriculum. The importance of these habit-forming practices now dawns on us as a means to mindfulness and stillness in our lives.

Very often after a morning's startup of jyothi meditation (where students visualize the purifying light of God spreading to their entire body and then in ever-widening circles to their school, their country, the world and the cosmos), students commonly tell me that they are feeling particularly happy and at peace the whole day due to the poignant effect of the meditation. In my humble experience this is an unfailing tool that creates waves of positivity and purity in the classroom atmosphere.

Another dictum that Bhagawan spoke about to the kids whenever He came to school was “Play when you play, study when you study and pray when you pray.” How simply put but how illuminating!

Again a pointer that we should be mindful of every action during the day.

Unplugging ourselves from man-made devices or mind-made devices, thus, seems to be the key to using our minds effectively and sparingly. A short gap in our mental activity if dedicated to remembering His name or sitting silently a few times a day has far-reaching influence.

The Eternally Energizing Connect

In 1993, when I first joined Bhagawan's primary school as a teacher, I taught the primary classes which left me with practically no time away from the kids. However, I tried to persevere with my old habit of spending 10-15 minutes in front of Bhagawan's photo in prayer. Most times, surprisingly, I would be able to focus and often felt a communication with Swami, feeling His presence strongly.

One day after a heartfelt prayer session, but for only 10-15 minutes, I wondered if this feeling of communicating with Swami was a figment of my imagination since I was able to devote such a short time to prayer. I walked down to my classroom, waiting for the students to file in when suddenly two seventh-graders came running towards me, shouting “Swami has entered the school gate and there is nobody on the ground floor to welcome Him properly. So please come, Ma'am”.

I rushed out to see Bhagawan entering the school lobby. By then the two-legged news reporters had alerted the whole school faster than a radio broadcast!

Bhagawan spent a short while with the children and as He was leaving, some of us teachers sat down near His path. As He walked, Bhagawan stopped for a brief minute in front of me, slid His right hand between my folded hands. Looking directly at me, He smiled and nodded.

The message was crystal clear—“I am there between these folded hands in prayer. There is communication. Do not doubt it!”

I cannot help but recall my favorite lines here:

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

- Maya Angelou

I am learning that Swami wants all of us, His students, to be equipped with:

The ability to achieve but also the balance to look beyond. Most importantly to remember that we have the choice to be conscious.

He is saying:

RECHARGE yourself, for there is need of you.
REMAKE yourself, for there is work to do.
RECLAIM yourself, for you are made of love.
REGAIN yourself, the hand will fit HIS glove.

Team Radio Sai

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