Volume 7 - Issue 10
OCTOBEr 2009
Other Articles

THE ENNOBLING PATH OF SACRIFICE

By Prof. G. Venkataraman

In August 2009, Prasanthi Nilayam witnessed a unique convention of brahmacharis and tyagajeevis held within the sacred precincts of the Yajur Mandir, Bhagavan Baba’s residence.

The event was organized for a specially select audience comprising of two groups.  The first were the men alumni of the Sri Sathya Sai University currently serving in various institutions in Prashanthi Nilayam and Brindavan, Bhagavan Baba’s ashram in Bangalore. These gentlemen are associated with various Sai Institutions both in Puttaparthi and Bangalore. Married only to their spiritual missions, the path they have chosen is one of discipline, devotion and dedication. 

The second group in this audience was a band of selfless workers known as the thayagajeevis.  The thayagajeevis are men who have taken a sacred vow to selflessly serve the cause of a values-based education at the Sai Schools at Alike and Mudanahalli in the South Indian state of Karnataka.

This convention, organised under the divine direction and supervision of Bhagavan Baba, offered these brahmacharis and thyagajeevis a special dose of motivation and practical wisdom to pursue their path with heightened determination.

 

Bhagavan Baba chose Professor G. Venkataraman to be one of the speakers at this convention. A person of outstanding qualifications, Professor G. Venkataraman holds a Ph. D in Physics from the University of Bombay. He served as a Senior Scientist, Department of Atomic Energy in the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Bombay, from 1955 to 1973.  From 1973 to 1987, he worked as Director - Physics and Electronics Group, Head of the Computer Centre, Head Library and Information Service, at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam.

Thereafter, till 1992 in his position as the Director, he led the ANURAG project in the Defence Research and Development Organisation, holding the rank of a Distinguished Scientist. He retired from that post on superannuation to serve as the 5th Vice-Chancellor of the Sri Sathya Sai University, Prashanthi Nilayam. He is a recipient of many professional awards and also the prestigious Padma Shri conferred by the President of India.

 

Prof. G. Venkataraman has authored dozens of books on scientific topics. However, since 1992, he has turned his attention to serious spiritual enquiry, writing books on the various facets of the Sri Sathya Sai Mission, Teachings and Glory.

International audiences welcome his writings and talks over Radio Sai.  His latest book, a contemporary version of the song celestial, the Gita, under the title Conversation Between God and Man is being received warmly by international readers. [Currently, this book is available in the Shopping Complex as well as in the Radio Sai office in Prasanthi Nilayam]
.

Currently, as the Director of Radio Sai Global Harmony, Professor G. Venkataraman remains committed to spreading Bhagavan Baba’s message of universal love to every nook and corner of the world.

Humble salutations at the Lotus Feet of our Beloved Bhagavan by whose specific and explicit command, I am here.

The Jewel of Sacrifice

Earlier, Mr. Sanjay Sahani gave a very moving talk. Even as you are trying to digest that, I would like to present a few points, which are supplementary and complementary to his. What I am going to focus on is sacrifice or tyaaga because at some point, that is going to be demanded of all of you, as indeed of every person, but especially of you. And I am going to set the stage by drawing attention to a few important examples from the life of our own Swami because that is neither quite well known nor appreciated as much as it ought to be. Mr. Sanjay Sahani made many references to the Ramayana, so it would be in the fitness of things to start from there.

spacer
 

The Ramayana means many things to many people, naturally. And they are all valid. But to me, looking at the Ramayana epic through the prism of Swami’s life, what strikes me is sacrifice. And when I reflected on it, I was just stunned! He said:

“Rama sacrificed, He didn’t go to the Supreme Court and file an appeal for a stay order. Lakshmana said:  ‘I am coming with You.’ Bharata sacrificed; he didn’t have to; Shatrughana sacrificed; Sita sacrificed; and two others too – Kausalya and Sumitra."

And when I think of that, I tell myself if there was a Ramarajya (ideal kingdom under Rama’s rule), the seed was sown by the sacrifice made by all those people.

So sometime, when we read the Ramayana, and admire, appreciate and experience bliss in its nuances, let us not forget the theme of sacrifice which is always running through creation and that thread is the invisible thread created by the Creator Himself.

During the 1976 Summer Course Discourses in Ooty, Swami has described how Krishna washed plates; how He saved the Pandavas from the wrath of Roma Rishi by prostrating before the Pandavas, I mean, God prostrating to man! And how He carried Draupadi’s sandals, and so on…

The Declaration of Divine Intent

Let me now come to our own Swami, and go back to the year 1940. I remember that year very well because World War II had started. And as we all know, in October, Swami had declared who He was – that He was not Sathya Narayana Raju, but Sathya Sai Baba. Who was He from a worldly point of view? A 14 year-old school dropout from a hamlet, namely Puttaparthi, which had a population of maybe 100-150, with not even a road leading to it. And I don’t think that the map of British India even showed this place! And yet, He made a public resolve to serve humanity – at least that’s what He told His brother. I don’t think anybody even heard it, or took it seriously if they heard it.

 

But nevertheless, He was saying and declaring something that was very profound. And the first time He spelt it out in some detail, was on May 25, 1947. India had not yet become independent, and indeed the fate of India was not known because Viceroy Mountbatten had just gone to England with many options. One was to keep India as one country, and the other was to break it into two. Nobody knew what was going to happen at that time. And here was Swami declaring explicitly, how He is going to serve the world in 1947!

It was an incredible declaration, and what resources did He have? In terms of material wealth, connections, whatever - nothing!  Then from where did His confidence come? He pointed to a Source and that is the Source embedded in us. And that Source is Love. And I shall come to it in certain detail, but let me continue how with zero capital but infinite self-confidence born out infinite Love, and the capacity for infinite compassion, and limitless sacrifice, anything can be done!

The Lord Demonstrates by Example

God does everything by setting examples. He goes through the grind. He says:
“If I can go through the grind, so can you!” Rama went to the forest to show that Ramarajya will come only when Sathya and Dharma are observed; not for any other reason. He had already been appointed Prince Regent. He could have just gone and sat there. But no! He had
to show that there is a price to pay for Ramarajya; it doesn’t come free. And God Himself
showed how that price ought to be paid.

Mr. Sanjay Sahani said God can do anything but He doesn’t do it the way we want Him to by waving a hand. No! He does it by setting examples. He goes through the grind. He says: “If I can go through the grind, so can you!” Rama went to the forest to show that Ramarajya will come only when Sathya and Dharma are observed; not for any other reason. He had already been appointed Prince Regent. He could have just gone and sat there. But no! He had to show that there is a price to pay for Ramarajya; it doesn’t come free. And God Himself showed how that price ought to be paid.

In earlier days, when power cuts were so much more frequent, and I was here in this room in West Prashanthi, the power would go off in the night, and the fan would stop and I would say: “Swami! How did You remain for 14 years in the forest without a fan! I can’t even stay for 14 minutes! Please tell us some of that trick!”

In this place, many people, who had great experience, said that there would be no University. It did come, it is thriving – even I managed to serve as the Vice Chancellor at that University. It is growing strong – all set to have a new Campus, and it is set for bigger things to come.

The Blossoming of Health Care for All

There was a Hospital established in 1954, it is still there. And I have heard Dr. Alreja say there were only 6 cots! Four were reserved for women and two for men, and there was one reserved for the doctor himself, and there was one nurse; that’s all; nothing else. There were no funds; nothing! Somehow, medicines would come; somehow some other things would arrive and everyday, Swami would go and spend two hours there and talk about every patient.

In 1990, He announced that there would be a Super Specialty Hospital, everybody clapped, nobody believed in it; nobody took it seriously. But in 1991, I was there for the inauguration! It was a mind-boggling achievement and it still remains so! And some of the boys of the University, who were trained in the AIIMS – All India Institute of Medical Sciences – came back and I talked to them and the doctors there had said: “Ah! Very good! The Hospital will fold up in 6 months and you will have to look for a new job; so don’t forget you are an MBA!” 

This is August 2009, and that was in November 1991. It is running much better than many other hospitals in the world. And let me tell you, I don’t think many of you are aware of the extraordinary debate that is going on in the United States right now about Health Care for all. It is a highly contentious, highly polarized issue; the conservative right wing is trying to deny health care for all, but here is Swami who has done it for so many years at the highest level! That is what the triangle of love, compassion and sacrifice can achieve. And that is what I would like to focus on now. But just before I come to that golden triangle, let me mention a few facts.

The Gift of the Water of Life

Swami said: “I want this Project finished in record time, and good, pure drinking water
must be available before such and such a date – no matter what the cost!
One million people shall benefit!”

Over there is the Poornachandhra Hall - now cut back to November 1994. Dr. Venugopal was being honoured. Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao had come. Swami was speaking and because the Prime Minister was there, Swami said: “The Rayalseema region suffers from droughts. Why don’t you create a Water Project? If you do, the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organization will join, the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust will make a contribution, and we will come to your help and assistance.”

spacer
 

And in March 1995, Swami got fed up [with the lack of any action by the authorities], He asked everybody to roll up their sleeves, and declared that the Central Trust would do it.

Swami said: “I want this Project finished in record time, and good, pure drinking water must be available before such and such a date – no matter what the cost! One million people shall benefit!” I mean, who can dare to say that!

I have talked many times to Mr. Kondal Rao, and Mr. Ramakrishna of Larsen & Tubro, who have done many Water Projects for Swami and they have said that the Anantapur Project was one of the most difficult that they had done till today - I won’t go into the technicalities of that.

 

Nine-hundred and thirty-one villages received water; about 1 million people were benefited, and the projects executed were of different kinds! At that time, it was the largest Water Project executed anywhere in the world by a private charitable trust!

The Millions of Madras Receive Bhagavan’s Drinking Water   

 
chennai water project

After that, take the Madras Water Project. He announced it out of the blue, at the first anniversary of the Bangalore Hospital. I was present there. He was talking about the Hospital Medical Camp and in the middle of it, He said: “People in Chennai are suffering; I am going to give them water!”

I was taken aback! I mean, what’s this! But He did that because that was January 19th and I later learnt that it was the anniversary of the establishment of Sundaram. They had never come and asked: “Swami, please give us water!” They had never even dreamt that Swami would even think of such a project! But He said: “I have gone there and I have drunk that water…I am Krishna, so I am bringing Krishna to Madras!”

When Swami said that, in less than 20 months, a perfect Canal was built, all the way up to the Andhra border!

Now, the water travels so well! In 5 days, water reaches Chennai. In previous days, it used to take 20 days! And that too if it came! Meanwhile, it would be hijacked on the way!

Swami said: “I have gone there and I have drunk that water…I am Krishna, so I am bringing Krishna to Madras!”

Swami’s Compassion Bestows Drinking Water on the Godavari Tribals 

In addition, I have gone to the Godavari area and spent three days in the tribal areas. That is a potential Naxal area! Nobody cares for them! Absolutely nobody! But Swami gave them water! It is an incredible project! And you know, there should have been so much publicity, but there was absolutely none! Just a few months ago, the tribals came and danced for Swami. There was no inaugural function either!

When the Project was completed, Swami told the All India President: “Go there, do bhajans, open the tap, distribute the prasadam, take photographs and come back and show them to Me.” That’s all that was done! No television, no newspapers, no speeches – nothing! God does everything but stays in the background.

 

Dear Reader, did this article inspire you in any way? Would you like more such stories from devotees who have been touched by His Love? Please write to us at [email protected] mentioning your name and country. Thank you for your time.

Articles by Section
Go to Radio Sai
Go to Publications Division Sri Sathya Sai Sadhana Trust
Go to Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust
counter for wordpress