SSSIHL I Convocation Discourse – 1982
Audio excerpt of the Divine Discourse by Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba during the SSSIHL Annual Convocation
Education today expands exceedingly wide
But, the Atmic glory, its heart, is mostly lost.
Living for all has become too huge a burden,
For the tinsel of pomp fascinates the student world.
What exactly is education? What have we to learn through the process of education? What is the aim which educators must have in view? What are we gaining through education as devised today? Students have to pay attention to these four aspects first. One’s standard of living depends on the way the mind is cultured. Culture does not imply any special transformation. It involves only the sublimation of one’s habits and attitudes and their dedication to the Divine path.
What exactly is education?
Education does not end with mastery of the meanings of words. It means opening wide the doors of the mind; it means cleansing the inner tools of the consciousness, the mind, the ego, the senses, the reason. Unfortunately, education is subserving the restricted purpose of making one fit for securing jobs which earn for him the wherewithal to live! True education must purge one of all traces of selfishness. But, today, what really happens is the elimination of love (Prema) and joy (Ananda) from the educated mind! Instead, the flames of jealousy are fed and fostered. The Divine spark in man is smothered. Modern education negates the virtues of discipline and humility. Science without a sense of values, activity dictated by whim, scholarship without experiential satisfaction, humanity with no involvement with humans, music devoid of sweet melody—these are all dull and dreary. They cannot inspire men to appreciation and observance. Therefore, you should give up selfish desires and welcome the Truth beyond the reach of the mind operating through senses and manifest the Divinity that is your Reality.
Education must award Self-confidence, the courage to depend on one’s own strength. Today, one emerges from the process of education with a hardened heart. Education has as its goal the fostering of sympathy with the less fortunate, but the knowledge and skill earned by one are diverted to selfish ends. Einstein explained to a friend why he spent sleepless nights and Gandhi too once gave the same reason to a questioner: ‘The hardness which the heart gains in through education’! The friend told Einstein, ‘But you are a product of the same educational system.’ Einstein retorted, ‘I am what I am not because of it but in spite of it!’ Education has become a means to gain self-importance and boost one’s conceit.
Western education has spread so deep that culture is submerged out of view;
Western education has spread so deep that family bonds are loosened much;
Western education has spread so deep that Aryan wealth is frittered away;
Western education has spread so deep that gaudy speech and dress fascinate all
’Tis considered wrong to talk in the mother’s tongue.
‘foolish to tread the ancient path,
And cheap to honour the Guru.
We have to be warned of these dangerous developments and prepare a generation of youth which can restore the glory of India in the coming years by enthusiastic and intelligent projects of loving service.
Bharat had unique goals for education in the past. You must relearn them and revive them. Vidya, it was understood, caused splendour to emerge from the heart. Vidya implied dedication for mutual service. Today, education does not impart the virtues of renunciation, selfless love and sympathy. Monetary return should not be the aim. Dependence on others should be avoided. Self-reliance is the most desirable virtue. One should always have the future of one’s country in view and mould oneself into an ideal for others.
The pity is, as soon as one secures a degree, he registers his name in the Employment Exchange and thereafter year in and year out, walks up and down that place, wasting his life in despair and distress. Narrow loyalties and limited visions inhibit student minds at the present time.
Wherever students are, silence, serenity and security should prevail, for such an atmosphere alone promotes study. But, what do we find now? What prevails is fear, anxiety and restlessness! Those who come out of our colleges are not at all educated in the real sense of the term. Many behave even worse than their uneducated brethren.
Students should be clear about their life values, their real Reality and the ideals which should shape their lives. Now, they are engaged more in judging and blaming others. When one has no knowledge of himself and of what is good for him, how can one claim the right to correct or condemn others?
Who is the friend, who the foe?
Who is the Guru, who the pupil?
Who is the poet, who the cast?
Have you the head to surely know?
If you haven’t, do not resent the blame.
Unless, one is aware of one’s powers and possibilities, principles and processes, one has no right to point his finger at the evils and excellences of others, or at the condition of his, country or of the society in which he is born and bred.
The end of education is Character. And, character consists of eagerness to renounce one’s selfish greed. Persons without a good character cannot claim to be educated ones. At present, men of character are most needed. Our Organisation has decided to establish such colleges in order to promote the development of character through the educational process. You must know that this is no commercial venture nor is it designed to foster personal reputation. We had to venture on this plan in order to realise and reveal the validity of the ancient ideal, ‘Lokas Samasthah Sukhino Bhavantu’ ‘May all the worlds be happy’. The chief goal of human existence is the realisation of Ananda for mankind and the unity of all men in a world of Love. This the higher learning which this Institute will teach.
Service rendered to society is the sure road to prosperity. This is the lesson which it will teach, with the brotherhood of man, as its inspiration. When this Institute succeeds in this effort, it will be an example for other centres too and they too will strive towards the ideal. It will encourage transformations in moral, material, ethical, spiritual and political spheres too. Students who have to resuscitate the glory of the country, who have to protect and develop the country have to recognise and value these high ideals, for, the welfare and wealth of the country are based on their talents and virtues.
A Telugu proverb declares, ‘When the daughter-in-law is dark-skinned, the entire clan is dark’. When students are good, the country will be good. As the student, so are the people. Just consider all persons whom we revere today as elders and leaders have been, at one time, students like you. And, you too will replace them later. Make yourself ready therefore by utilising best the chances you have. Your education must make you Self-reliant and Self-confident.
On one occasion, a follower told Gandhi, “Independent India is your crown.” Gandhi commented; “Independence is my crown; but separation is my Cross.” We have to grasp the sadness of that confession. Divisiveness has become the bane of the nation in all fields. The evil of separatism is infecting the entire country and passions are rising sky high. True humanness yearns for unity. Man seeks the one in the many, unity in diversity. He should not break the unity into diversity. All limbs and organs have to work in unison in order to ensure health. The nation too is a body and the same rule applies to its various limbs and, parts. The welfare of the nation depends on the welfare of the societies comprising it and the nation’s welfare is proportionate to the welfare of its component States. So, we must promote human values at every stage. What is happening today is just birth, growth and death.
Bharat has through countless centuries not only treasured the Vedas, the Puranas and other priceless spiritual teachings, but put them into practice, derived supreme delight in the process and, what is more, shared them with all mankind. Students of today must take a vow to continue the observance of those teachings and to derive the bliss they can confer.
At first, our Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning had only the Vidyagiri Campus College at Puttaparthi and the Anantapur College for Women. Gundu Rao, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, resolutely overcame the obstacles that had to be met and helped in adding the College at Brindavan, Bangalore, to this Institute. This day, the Institute has become the Holy Triveni—Anantapur, the Ganga; Bangalore, the Yamuna; and Puttaparthi, the Saraswati. Ganga is the pure heart, the source of good work (Karma). The Anantapur College has initiated service activities saturated with holy love. The women students visit villages and render various forms of rural service. The Bangalore College students cooperate lovingly in service in order to realise the Divine Atmic reality that is evident in all. The flower (the Anantapur College) emerged first; later, the fruit (the Bangalore College) developed; the fruit has become ripe and sweet at Prasanthi Nilayam. As a result, degrees which enshrine the sweetness are to be awarded here itself today.
This Trinity (Trimurti), the Three Eyes in the one face (trinetra), the Three Ages of Time (trikala), the Three Worlds in one Cosmos (triloka), the three Prongs of one Sula (trisula), the Three Modes of One Nature (triguna), the Three Leaves in one Bilva (Tridala), are to be adored and symbolically offered today by the students.
When pupils completed mastery of all branches of knowledge at the Gurukuls in Ancient India, they were exhorted, on the day they left the sacred precincts of the hermitage, by the loving preceptor who showered blessings on them, to observe certain ideals and adhere to certain practices and attitudes in life. The convocation address, delivered on the occasion of conferring degrees to those who have passed the examinations and who are venturing into the world beyond, is but a poor counterpart of that benediction and that encouraging counsel.
The message communicated then was most elevating and was worthy of practical application in daily life and each axiom was nectarine in content. Every advice was, clothed in inspiration. The tone and tonic effect of the message has became erased in the womb of Time and reduced to a forgotten dream. While the immortal words of the Shiksha Valli (the section on education) of the Taitiriya Upanishad are being repeated for their benefit, the pupils of those days were thrilled and transformed by them. The response of the students of today to the same message will only be a mixture of strangeness and surprise. But that same message can serve as a beacon light to guide present day students, who are tossed about on endless waves of worry and anxiety caused by inordinate desire and vain pursuit of tantalising goals. The characteristic result of the modern educational process is the bloating of conceit into the size of a pumpkin when only a mustard seed size of learning has been acquired! And, the students aspire for unlimited rewards. As the proverb says, they pay for an onion and demand a melon as extra. The bond between jobs, degrees has to be cut asunder. Education should foster moral and spiritual excellence. Students should cultivate the intelligence needed to cleanse the mind, to stand on one’s own feet and to render service to fellowmen. Napoleon used to tell his people, “Be clear. The rest will follow.” Minds clear and strong can achieve the hardest tasks with ease.
Students in the past practised “simple living and high thinking” but today, they, are engaged in “High living and low thinking”. High living urges them to earn and amass money, which is subject to devaluation and diminution. But the wealth of knowledge and character is free of both these. “Fire cannot burn, nor rulers confiscate. Floods cannot dampen nor thieves decamp with it,” as the saying goes. Kith and Kin can lay no claim on it. Share this special wealth with others; it does not become less; it grows with each gift. Accumulate wealth and you will be bled dry by sycophants pretending to be friends.
Atheism is growing wildly among students these days. They forget and ignore even elementary human qualities as a result of the cursory and perfunctory study of natural, physical and spiritual sciences. Scientists declare, “seeing is believing.” But, can the eye be trusted? Can the mind, delight, sorrow, the soul be seen by the eye in order to induce belief? Experience is believing, not seeing. The Milky Way, according to scientists, has billions of clusters of stars. How few have seen them! Yet; how many believe in them! Has each person who believes, seen them? So, too, a few have experienced God after arduous processes of denials and assertions and many take their words as genuine and valid truth. The seers of God proclaim what they have visualised, and when people put their faith in it. It is condemned as blind faith as if belief of people in the number of star clusters in the Milky Way as proclaimed by those who have seen them is not blind! Have faith in the Divine and one can experience the Divine. Have faith in oneself and one can have faith in the Divine.
Scientists announce that the cosmos is composed of atoms. Spiritual seers announce that God is the minutest of atoms and the vastest among the vast. Sea water yields salt crystals. Similarly, the all-pervading Divinity crystallises as Avatars. The crystal is a build up of many atoms; the Avatar principle is the buildup of many divine attributes. The two sciences—physical and spiritual—can never clash; one complements the other, for the sciences related to nature have bounds which they cannot cross. They can study only the created; the Creator is the special field of study for religion. One is a scientist; the other is a saint. The saint probes the root; the scientist peers into the tree above ground.
One cannot succeed in spiritual search unless one has attained a pure, untainted consciousness or Chitta. This is possible when one becomes aware of one’s reality, God. No attempt is made to impart this knowledge to the tender minds of youths. Men are more valuable than all the precious wealth of the world. For, every human body is the temple of God the Almighty! The individual has to be strengthened and sanctified so that the country or mankind can prosper. Knowledge without action is useless, while action without knowledge is foolishness! Education must be brightened by means of discrimination and spiritualisation. In stead, the educational process fosters merely greed for selfish aggrandisement, without using one’s attainments for social service and beneficial sharing.
The touchstone for virtue in a person is his keenness to give up, to sacrifice, to develop detachment. I exhort students on many occasions to associate with good and godly people only so that the precious aspect of divinity in them can manifest. Many of them are humble and subdued and disciplined as long as they are in hostel and college, but once they enter the outer world, they resume the routine and ruin themselves. This should not happen. Once Truth is accepted as an article of faith, one should sacrifice one’s entire life to its practice. Or else, man degrades himself below the level of birds and beasts.
“Speak the truth. Follow Dharma. Treat thy mother as God. Treat thy father as God. Treat thy teacher as God. Treat thy guest as God.” These were the duties marked out for the pupils. The baby is borne and bred by the mother, the child is fostered and fed by the father, the boy is directed and divinised by the Guru, and the adult is afforded the chance to serve and sacrifice for the guest. Man is moulded and made to shine and spread light, by these four mother, father, teacher and guest. Students might fail to revere the guest or adore the teacher as God. But it will be a great pity if they fall into the sin of dishonouring their parents.
Students learn effective means to smother the anxiety, the tears, the cruelties and the lies that afflict the world today. Revive the ancient ideals of learning and of high living in the awareness of divinity. Shine forth in the splendour of eternal truth, in the practice of time hououred values and in ways of holy living adjusted to the times. Be ready to renounce that which seems to you as precious. Be heroes for adventure. The world needs today youths full of universal love, enthusiasm to serve, and disciplined emotions.
When we survey the career of this country, we can discover clearly why this great country has come to such a pass. There was no lack of powerful rulers in the past; there was no lack of skilled administrators and brave generals. There were many scientists and learned pundits and profound teachers. But there was one defect which ruined the land, want of unity. There was no spirit of accommodation and social friendship. We may have vast resources but we have some wrong traits which weaken us. We cling to trivialities and mechanical acts and thoughts. We pay no attention to the divine exhortation and instruction that inhalation and exhalation of breath, kills moment by moment. “Soham”, “Soham” 21,600 times a day! ‘That is myself’ ‘I am That’ ‘I am God’. Teachers have to discharge this responsibility. Since the students are the roots of a prosperous nation, the basis for a strong structure, they have to be moulded into citizens we have to depend upon in the future. Students must develop extensive interests. They must visualise wide horizon.
Be grateful to the Institute that has fostered you. The Sai that is loving you as the mother, protecting you like the father, counselling you as the Guru saving you like God should ever be in your memory. Live, wherever your future lies, in accordance to the ideals you have imbibed here. Do not fall into the temptations of imitating wild and vulgar fashions in dress, deportment and thinking.
The educational institutions must endeavour to produce students with integrity, character and Self-confidence. Cultivation of knowledge is secondary. We can assure that colleges of Kamsa or Hiranyakasipu might have produced knowledgeable pupils but would not have produced a Prahlada or Krishna! Maintain purity of speech, of sight, of learning and of action. Awarding a university degree on a person of low character and vicious habits can be condemned as sin, for the degree has to be justified to the recipient by his exemplary noble living.
Students! I am speaking to you in this strain. I for your own good, for your happiness, for making your lives meaningful, not because I dislike you; each of you has a living mother though you may not be aware of the depth of that love. Know that Sai Love is the Love of a thousand mothers. Naturally you will find it impossible to gauge the intensity of my Love,and understand this. If you place yourselves outside that Love, you place yourselves outside the love of all mankind. Mine is Love that is pure, free, selfless and unconditional. It is a great good fortune to receive such love.
Do not barter away this priceless human embodiment of the divine for a handful of trash. Gold can never make a man genuinely human nor can diamonds achieve that goal. It has to be reached through your own sincerity and tireless effort.
Audio Source: Sri Sathya Sai Media Centre, Radio Sai Archives
Transcript Source: ‘Benedictory Addresses’ (Edition: May 2011), published by Sri Sathya Sai Sadhana Trust, Publications Division