Summer Course in Indian Culture & Spirituality
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Education is no bookworm affair. The process must include the study and appreciation of all trades, professions and guilds. It must encourage the acceptance of the good and rejection of the bad. Spiritual education is not a distinct and separate discipline. It is part and parcel of all types and levels of education. In fact, it is the very foundation on which a lasting edifice can be built. Secular and spiritual education are like the two halves in the seeds of pulses – the germ that sprouts in-between is fed by both.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Sanathana Sarathi, Sept. 1975
The Summer Course in Indian Culture & Spirituality marks the beginning of every student’s journey at Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. Blessed by Bhagawan Baba in the current format of three days, this induction programme, in the beginning of each academic year, exposes students of the university to the rich cultural and spiritual heritage of Bharat. Moreover, it orients students into Bhagawan Baba’s educational philosophy and gives them deep, first hand insights into how they can directly benefit from this unique institution.
The event in 2017 took place from 9th June to 11th June 2017 at Prasanthi Nilayam. Over 2500 students, 200 teachers and 75 research scholars of all the four campuses of the university, as well as Sathya Sai Mirpuri College of Music, Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School, Prasanthi Nilayam (Class XI and Class XII) and Sri Sathya Sai Gurukulam English Medium School, Rajahmundry participated.
The Format
Each day is typically split into the morning, afternoon and evening sessions.
The morning sessions consist of talks by teachers and research scholars of the university. Typically, they entail key insights and lessons from the ancient Indian scriptures, spiritual personalities and concepts. The sessions also feature a short video show on Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
In the afternoons, students and teachers from all four campuses have breakout sessions where they discuss teachings and lessons from Bhagawan Baba’s discourses. This year, the main themes were Mama Dharma- Message of the Gita and Karmanye Vadhikaraste - Right to do action, not the fruits, based on the series of discourses Bhagawan Baba gave on the Bhagavad Gita in 1984. Key moral messages and lessons from these are creatively presented on the final day before the valediction.
The evening sessions on the first two days of the event consist of a music programme by students of individual campuses, along with veda chanting and bhajans at the Sai Kulwant Hall.
Perhaps the highlight of the day for students are the post-dinner Parayanam sessions. They consist of 2-3 talks by alumni or teachers of the Institute who share personal experiences with Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and the profound impact they have had in shaping their lives. The valuable and profound life lessons and the sheer love that Baba had for His students and devotees is vividly communicated through these intimate sessions.
Given below is a brief daily report of each day of the event.

Summer Course in Indian Culture & Spirituality 2017

9-11 June 2017 | Prasanthi Nilayam

 
 
Day 1 – Friday, 9 June 2017

Following the invocatory Vedam Chanting, the event at the Poornachandra auditorium, Prasanthi Nilayam commenced at 8:30 a.m. with a welcome address by Sri Sanjay Sahni, Controller of Examinations, SSSIHL. He said that the Summer Course is Bhagawan Baba’s brainchild. His enthusiasm to mold His students as ideal citizens of the world rooted in the culture and ethos of our country is the genesis of the Summer Course in Indian Culture & Spirituality at SSSIHL. He urged students to open their hearts and make most of the learning during the three-day Summer Course.

The inaugural address was delivered by Sri K Chakravarthi, Member Secretary, Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust. Titled, Our Heritage, and said there are three types of heritage: material, mental/intellectual and spiritual. We must strive to harmonize spiritual heritage of Bharath, he said, and resist the forces from outside and focus instead on the inner growth. He ended his highly philosophical and intellectual talk by encouraging students to grow intellectually and spiritually and perform actions that would bring him close to Bhagawan Baba.

This was followed by an energetic talk by Sri Menon, who stressed on the importance of Indian culture—in particular our traditions—and the validity of performing good and kind deeds others. He highlighted the lives of eminent personalities such as Swami Vivekananda, Smt. M S Subbulakshmi, Dr. Abdul Kalam and Sachin Tendulkar to drive the point of putting the country and upholding human values at all times. He ended his speech by urging students to read Sai literature.

The morning session ended with a lively Quiz on Bhagawan Baba’s Leelas, Mahimas and Upadesha. Students from the university and school participated in the quiz.


 
 

The evening session in Sai Kulwant Hall started with a summary of the morning session followed by three speeches by students and faculty of the university. They wonderfully expounded the central theme of faith and inner strength that Indian culture exemplifies through the topics that included Our Culture, Our Strength, Our Beloved Swami and Bhagawan Baba on Education.

Lastly, Prof. R Gangadhara Sastry, Hon. Professor, Dept. of Political Science delivered a talk on Bhagawan’s impact on education. He narrated major milestones of His work on education as well as the background philosophy of culture, spirituality and human values on which Bhagawan Baba founded His educational institutions.

Following bhajans and prasadam distribution, the first day of the event concluded at 6:30 p.m.


 
 
Day 2 – Saturday, 10 June 2017
The second day began with the invocatory Vedam Chanting at the Poornachandra auditorium, Prasanthi Nilayam at 8:30 a.m. The first session was a panel discussion on Work, Worship and Wisdom moderated by Dr. Srinivas Srirangarajan, Director, Brindavan Campus, SSSIHL. The panel deliberated on the three royal paths to reach our ultimate goal – to realise our true Divine Self. Ancient seers have categorised the many customised pathways that lead man to his Divine destination into three broad categories: Work (Karma), Worship (Bhakti), and Wisdom (Jnana). The panel defined, explained the meaning of the three pathways, highlighted the unity among them and expounded on the challenges faced and means to overcome them in the course of our journey along these pathways.
Sri Pushkaraj Gumaste, Managing Director and Head of Coverage, Corporate & Investment Banking Division - India, Barclays Bank PLC and an alumnus of SSSIHL then spoke on the topic, Pathway to Lasting Success- The Golden Sai Way. He said that SSSIHL set him up for success for life because the ecosystem here hones students to build inner qualities, such as patience, adjustment, team work, etc. These qualities are the ones that current employers are looking for in millennials (a term used by demographers and researchers to largely categorize those born in the mid 1980’s onwards), who typically do not adhere to certain standards and moral codes of previous generations. He cited several personal interactions with Bhagawan Baba as a student and the lessons inherent in those experiences. He encouraged students to always keep in mind of what Bhagawan Baba expects from them and reminded them through an analogy that although the entry to the university is free, the exit is not, and they all have certain responsibilities to carry with us when they graduate.

 
 
During the evening session in Sai Kulwant Hall, following a summary of the morning session, two talks by students. The topics were: Bhagavad Gita and Tyageinaike Amrutatva Manashuhu (Only by Sacrifice can you get Immortality) This was followed by a talk on Bhagawan Baba’s magnanimous Love by Dr. T Ravi Kumar, Associate Professor, Dept. of Chemistry and Warden, Brindavan Campus titled, Sai, the Essence of Sweetness. He described how Baba—through His exchanges with students—taught them the essential spiritual teachings and lessons through His sweet Love and Divine vision.

The second day of the event concluded at 6:30 p.m. with devotional songs, bhajans followed by prasadam distribution.


 
 
Day 3 – Sunday, 11 June 2017
The final morning of the event day began with the invocatory Vedam Chanting at the Poornachandra auditorium, Prasanthi Nilayam at 8:30 a.m. The first presentation was a Panel Discussion on SAIence of Diet and Health: Ancient Wisdom and Modern Perspectives. It was a comprehensive presentation on the importance of traditional foods. The effects of different kinds of food on the human body were elaborated. Scientific rationale was provided for the traditional food items prepared during festivals. The panelists also suggested diets that could help in curing commonly encountered health disorders.
This was followed by a melodious Musical Presentation by the Dept. of Music, SSSIHL. It focused on unity and was aptly titled, Sam Gacchadvam - Let us move together.
As is tradition each year, new faculty that joined the SSSIHL family were welcomed to the audience by Sri Sanjay Sahni, Controller of Examinations, SSSIHL. In addition, two long-standing senior Professors, Prof. (Miss) Madhu Kapani (Dept. of Education) and Prof. R Basavaraju (Dept. of Biosciences), who have now retired, were felicitated.
Dr. S Siva Sankara Sai, Dean, Faulty of Sciences, SSSIHL offered the valedictory address. He offered a deep sense of gratitude to Bhagawan Baba for His Love and blessings to all of us. He recalled an experience when Bhagawan Baba asked him to tell students to treasure this experience (of Him) inside their hearts. They must put into practice what they have learnt and only then will be beneficial to them. He then recalled the main events and lessons of the Summer Course 2017.
Finally, Managala Arati to Bhagawan Baba marked the conclusion of the Summer Course in Indian Culture and Spirituality. After lunch, the students and teachers then travelled backed to their respective campuses and institutions.

 
 
Education must enthuse youth to understand the precious heritage of Indian culture and spirituality, and to evoke the higher powers they possess. Though there are perennial sources and springs of strength within them, they behave like weaklings and ignoramuses. Patience, tolerance, tranquillity and calmness have to be implanted in the heart.
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
© Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Vidyagiri, Prasanthi Nilayam - 515 134, India.