Talks by VC and Student
The Vice Chancellor commenced his talk with the chanting of some verses from the Vishnu Sahasranamam. He stated his inability to express his gratitude to Bhagawan for having given him an opportunity to work for such a hallowed Institute under Bhagawan’s direct Guidance. The emphasis in this Institute is on Character Building, with Vinayam (Humility), Bhakti (Devotion) and Shraddha (Steadfastness) shaping the personality of the students. Here Swami gives them the confidence to face life and inspires them to develop compassion for all.
He said that the five major efforts which the Institute has been privileged to embark upon are
1) Seva – Service in all its forms. Free education, free medicare, free water and service to society in all ways.
2) Veda Poshana – Recitation of the eternal verities
3) Deenodarana – Lifting the forlorn and downtrodden
4) Women’s Empowerment – Supporting women’s freedom and empowerment
5) Caring of elders and aged – Bheema Ratha Shanti being an example.
These are the social manifestations of His Mission in which students are used as instruments. He has given them the opportunity to translate what He has in mind into reality and interpret its significance to the rest of the world.
He concluded his talk by once again expressing his feeling of inadequacy to show his gratitude to Bhagawan. He quoted a Tamil poem which says that – “You thought that I was of some worth, You chose me and you gave me the eyes of wisdom to understand an iota of what you are; O Mother what Grace of yours! How could this limited intellect of mine ever comprehend your Grace!”
He said that With Swami there is no discharging the debt of Gratitude. Subsequently, the Vice Chancellor introduced his successor Sri Anil Vinayak Gokak.
Sri Anil Vinayak Gokak held several responsible positions both at the State and at the Centre. He belongs to the IAS cadre of Maharashtra. He graduated from the Osmania University. At the Central Government he held the post of the Cement Controller of India, MD of Food Corporation of India and the position of secretary in three important Ministries including Telecommunications and Fertilizers.
He is the son of the father – Sri Vinayak Gokak who described Bhagawan – our Chancellor as the Divine Chancellor of the Universe. It was Sri Vinayak Gokak, the first Vice Chancellor who enjoyed Bhagawan’s confidence and was instrumental in drafting the rules and regulations which hold till now as the best in the University. Sri Anil Vinayak Gokak is a great speaker and is blessed to be the 7th Vice Chancellor of this sacred University.
Sri S.V. Giri then invited our Ph.D. Scholar from the School of Business Management, Sri Sanjay Mahalingam to share his thoughts with the audience.
Brother Sanjay began his talk by quoting the episode of the inauguration of the Bukkapatnam High School, when Sri Kasturi was sent an invitation to be the Chief Guest by Bhagawan. In that invitation his name was mentioned as Dr. Kasturi. Sri Kasturi Garu approached Swami and said that this was a mistake as he did not have a Ph.D. To this Bhagawan said that he indeed was a doctorate holder. Sri Kasturi humorously asked Bhagawan, “From which University Swami?” Bhagawan replied, “From the Puttaparthi University”. Sri Kasturi Garu had a great laugh!
Least did he realize that when the Cosmic Consciousness – Bhagawan speaks, it can never go in vain! Sri Kasturi Garu did live to see this become a reality. Brother Sanjay went on to highlight the achievements of the Institute during the tenure of Sri S.V. Giri as the Vice Chancellor – a position which he held from the 7th of August 1998 and served illustriously in this capacity for the last six years.
The University scaled great heights under his leadership. New courses such as the ‘Diploma in Indian Culture and Philosophy’, the ‘Post Graduate in Economics’, the ‘Master of Philosophy’ programme were started. The Sri Sathya Sai Mirpuri College of Music also came into existence during his tenure in office. The Institute acquired total connectivity with state-of-the-art infrastructure and Video-conferencing between the Campuses, the Bio-Sciences department got the ‘Special Assistance Project’ from the UGC. The National Conference for the Vice Chancellors for Education in Human Values was held at Prasanthinilayam. The University under the leadership of Sri S.V. Giri won nation wide acclaim. Brother Sanjay corroborated his statements quoting from reports of two committees that visited the Institute.
In January 2000, a committee headed by Sri M.K. Kaw visited our University and stated, “The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning is Bhagawan Baba’s outstanding contribution to the world of learning. It is unique for it has integrated value education with shining success since its inception. All the gamut of activities that are carried out in this University have one single underlying message and that is – education is for life and not for a mere living.”
The Peer team of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council that visited our University in December 2002 had this to say, “The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning is a crest jewel among the Universities of India and their model is worthy of emulation by Universities in India and elsewhere so that the benefits can be reaped fast and on as wide a scale as possible.”
Brother Sanjay went on to say that great people are remembered not just for what they do but what they are. Sri S.V. Giri is known for his accessibility and the undivided attention he gives for those whom he grants an audience. He personifies humility and dignity. His very presence carries an aura of dignity. He is a man of stupendous accomplishments but one without the air of attainments. None have seen him lose his temper or allow his emotions to get the better of him. He is a man who always is in full control of himself.
Brother Sanjay praised the leadership of Sri S.V. Giri quoting General Eisenhower who said that if you push a string from behind it will go nowhere but if you pull it from the front it will go anywhere. Leading from the front is the key! He narrated an episode during the Grama Seva of 2000 wherein, the Vice Chancellor had made it a point to visit a very far off village, the road to which was almost impassable. But he somehow made it to that remote hamlet, went around every house asking them whether they had received Prasadam and then also had a few words of encouragement for the students who were assembled there. Students were left with great admiration for him.
Another incident was during the Sports Meet of 2000 when Bhagawan had allowed even staff members to participate. Early morning, on the very first day, when few staff members assembled in the ground fighting the chilly weather, at 5.30 a.m., Sri S.V. Giri was already there in his full sports gear ready to encourage them.
He would be remembered as someone who could not possibly always oblige for certain valid reasons, but always made the listener very comfortable by obliging words. His keen interest in the Awareness programme, to which he accorded utmost importance, can never be forgotten.
As Sri S.V. Giri moved on to assume higher responsibilities, Brother Sanjay recalled the statement made by Bhagawan on the 4th of March 1993 when Sri Hanumanthappa was taking over the Vice-Chancellorship of the University. Bhagawan said, “With Swami, there is no send off. It is always welcome, welcome and welcome!”
Brother Sanjay concluded his talk recalling the contribution made by Sri Vinayak Gokak in building the foundation for this University. Talking about the great person that Sri Gokak was, he shared an incident that occurred long back. Once Sri Vinayak Gokak was sitting on the benches of Trayee Brindavan and he had just completed a book in Kannada. A friend of him asked him as to when he would publish the book. To this Sri Gokak asked him to look into the sky and tell him what he saw. The friend replied that there were stars appearing in the night sky. Sri Gokak said that these were not just stars appearing but it was God composing His epic. The next morning, there would be nothing. God composes His epic every evening and erases it every morning. Does He care to publish it? He acts out of the sheer joy of existence without any concern for any appreciation or acknowledgement. Then why should we worry about our accomplishments?
Today as Bhagawan’s Divine Mission enters its 80th year and our Institute enters its 25th year, it is a great fortune that the illustrious son of Sri Vinayak Gokak is taking over the stewardship of our University. Under your guidance and the Blessings of Bhagawan we hope to take this Institute to far grater heights of glory! Yesterday evening Swami made a great statement. He said – Boys you all are Blessed, because one great Vice Chancellor is going and another great Vice Chancellor is coming!
Brother Sanjay’s talk was followed by Sri Anil Gokak. He sought the guidance and inspiration of Sri S.V. Giri and Sri Chakravarthi who were his senior colleagues in the IAS. He described our Institute as an island of hope amidst chaos and a spiritual lighthouse for the whole world. What distinguishes this great Institution is the emphasis on Educare as separate from education. Education as defined by Swami Vivekananda is truly Educare. Educare is enabling the students to realize the Divine potential within him. Man is not only Divine, he is also the acme of creation for he alone has the ability to transform himself from a beast into an angel or God. We need to find out whether we are enabling this process. We are lucky to have the Divine incarnation itself as our Guru.
However, this adds on a special responsibility on the teachers. The teachers have to play a multifarious role over here. They have to act as the snake charmer to wean away the minds of the students from evil tendencies and be a shepherd to the hungry sheep. Teachers are like the wire that connect the Generator i.e. God with the students who are like the lamps. The teacher has to carry the current within him so that it reaches the other end and has the transforming effect.
He has to be the experiencer and not merely the transmitter of the Divine Message. He has to identify the talents in the students and accelerate them on the path that suits them best. He has to communicate like a poet choosing an appropriate medium, and then recreate the experience he has had, in the minds of the students. All this must be done selflessly, without any expectations and with pure motives. Teachers in this Institute must be distinguished from their counterparts in other Institutes, by the great quality of possessing nothing and seeking nothing.
We need to conduct a spiritual audit of ourselves to find out whether we are transforming ourselves. This is the only way to transform the students and restore our country to its ancient glory and pride. He concluded his talk by seeking Bhagawan’s Guidance and encouragement and gave a word that he would do his best to translate the objectives of the Institute into reality.