Volume 8 - Issue 03
March 2010
Other Articles

Simple Days, Simple Joys of Serving Sai –
Anantapur Campus Notes

Vignettes of a life dedicated to women’s education – the inspiring example of
Mrs. Pushpa Ramanna

 
 

Having mentored 40 batches of women graduates of the Sri Sathya Sai University, Mrs. Pushpa Ramanna is the iconic librarian of the Sri Sathya Sai University’s Anantapur campus.  She also serves there as the assistant warden of the girls’ hostel.

A graduate of the Nagpur University from where she earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s in English Literature, Mrs. Pushpa Ramanna also holds a degree in Library Science . 

She has served the cause of the Sathya Sai education since 1971 and participated actively in the tremendous growth and expansion of the Anantapur campus since its early days.  Over the past 40 years, she has seen it evolve from the SSS Arts and Science College for Women to the SSS Institute of Higher Learning and eventually to its current status as Sri Sathya Sai University.

During the four decades of her unstinted service, she has worked closely with five Principals of the campus. Well known for her attitude of gratitude, which she expresses through her selfless service , she has never hesitated to contribute in any capacity at the campus.

Through the changes and the growth, Mrs. Pushpa Ramanna has remained a pillar of strength and dedication, serving as a role model to her peers and students.

She is also devoted to promoting musical talent, the creative arts and gardening, and an overall sense of community among the students.

Reproduced below are select excerpts from her interview that was recorded on November 18, 2009 and subsequently broadcast on Radio Sai.

Moving into His Aura

It was in the year 1961 that my elder sister first came to Prasanthi Nilayam. She was brought by her mother-in-law . Following her subsequent visit in 1963, she would constantly talk about Bhagavan, His routine and her experiences in Prasanthi Nilayam. It was only in 1967, and I would say primarily due to Swami’s divine will or sankalpa, that I could come here soon after my marriage. It was the day of Guru Poornima, and my brother and sister both accompanied me on this visit. Fortunately for us, my brother was called in for an interview with Swami and both my sister and I could join him.

 
Mrs. Pushpa Ramanna: A lifetime of serving Sai

Swami spoke lovingly to my brother about his illness and health problems . My brother was quite young and in his innocence said, “Swami! People say you are God , but I find that hard to believe.” Swami said, “It doesn’t matter what you believe . It is enough if you have devotion for any form of God.” Swami then went on to give an analogy .

He said, “See that bulb? It is on and there is light everywhere, but do you see the electric current passing? No, you don’t ! It is the same thing with Divinity. It is everywhere, omnipresent. The atma is here  and this soul pervades everything.  But you would need to switch on your consciousness just as you turn the switch on for light to surround you!”

My brother appeared partly convinced with the explanation, but soon turned into a staunch devotee. Swami, however, had His own plans for my brother and me .

For many years, my brother had nurtured a wish to set up his own factory. During our visit in 1967, Swami not only said he would set up a factory in Whitefield in 1981 but also kept His word by making my brother’s ardent wish come true . And, as if in preparation for this moment, Swami deputed him to gather some work experience at the National Aeronautics Laboratory in Bangalore and later at Satyam Electronics. With Swami’s grace, my brother is currently doing very well. Not only for himself, he even helps the needy and works to improve the lives of   others around him.

My sister, meanwhile, became a Bal Vikas convener. Soon enough, Swami named her as the  All India Convener for Human Values. As part of this capacity, she had to travel to many places with the guidance of Professor Gokak, who was the first Vice-C hancellor of the Sri Sathya Sai University.

“A silver plate can be converted into a tumbler, a cup or any other object. Much in the same way, the atma or the soul takes different forms. So be assured that your husband has gone into some other form.”

Early Indication from Swami

I come from a very spiritually inclined family . My mother used to perform Sathyanarayana Vratham on every full moon day. During Navaratri, my father would install the Ghatasthapana (initiation of Durga pooja with the placement of a Kalasha) and observe fast on all the nine days of the pooja cycle . In that sense, I grew up amidst a spiritual ambience, and when I accepted Bhagavan Baba as my God , I didn’t have an iota of doubt that He was indeed my Master.

 
Tuned to divine command in the
Poornachandra Auditorium

My husband then was an officer in the army. In 1968, he was posted to Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) which was not a family station for army personnel at that time.  Since I could not join him there, during that period, I visited Prasanthi Nilayam with my sister for the Mahashivratri celebrations. Swami once again blessed us with an interview and in the course of our talk, I shared my desire to work at the ashram while my husband was away on his posting.

Swami replied, “Come in June.” Elated over His permission, my sister and I returned to our parents’ home in Nagpur.

However, on arriving home we received a message that I could join my husband in his posting at Srinagar, as the location had now been designated a family station ! Without a second thought, I left to live with him. Subsequently, we were transferred to different places and in 1969, my husband and I together visited Prasanthi Nilayam.  

It was indeed a blessing that each time I visited Puttaparthi, I was granted an interview by Swami. So was it this time too, proving yet again that He indeed had His own plans!

In His conversation with my husband, Swami casually enquired about his posting and the demands of his work. While taking our leave, Swami quietly said, “Come in June.” By then, I had completely forgotten about the earlier time He had mentioned the same thing and so His words rang no instant bell.

 
Beckoned by her Lord Sai

The turning point in my life came in 1971 when I lost my husband. He was hale and hearty , and was posted in Siliguri. As it was a non- family station, I had returned to Nagpur to be with my parents.

It so happened that my husband was playing badminton and due to lack of oxygen, he suffered a massive cardiac arrest and passed away. It was not even 15 days since I had arrived in Nagpur  when we received this news.

My first reaction to the shocking news was that I wished to go to Puttaparthi. But before we did anything else, we had to first complete the last rites.

As my mother was heart-broken, I left with my sister, brother, and brother- in- law for Coorg where my mother- in- law lived. Once the rituals were completed, my sister, brother-in-law and I left for Puttaparthi. Coincidentally, it was Shivaratri time again. Seeing us, Swami said, “Mysore ki velli vacahava (You are returning from Mysore – which is near Coorg)?” indicating His omniscience, and then He called us in for an interview along with another family.

Swami said, “Kurchondi bindhu pedthaamu meaning, come and sit, we will give you good meals”. He then consoled me with a motherly concern and said , “See, you had lots of attachment. Now that attachment is gone. The feeling of ‘my’ and ‘mine’ are gone too.”

 
Interacting with Sai in old Brindavan

He then gave me a very good example that he often uses in many of His discourses. He said, “A silver plate can be converted into a tumbler, a cup or any other object. Much in the same way, the atma or the soul takes different forms. So be assured that your husband has gone into some other form.”

It was very difficult to accept the reasoning but Swami’s consoling words brought tears to my eyes. He then said, “What would you like to do?” I said, “Swami, I would like to work in Rishi Valley school as I like being around children.”

Swami asked, “ You want to be with children?”

I said, “Yes, S wami.”

Swami replied, “You come to Anantapur in June.”

I realized Swami was repeating the same words, three years later!

Stepping into my Future Home

 
 
With the Loving Lord in the Anantapur Campus lawns

Come June 1971, and I was back in Anantapur as per Swami’s instructions. Soon after I arrived , I noticed Swami coming out of the chemistry lab  where some construction was going on. Swami was with Mr. Raja Reddy and one engineer Mr. Damodar.

Noticing me, Swami said, “Vachavaa (Have you come?)

I said, “Yes Swami, you had asked me to come in June.”

To my astonishment, Swami replied, “Alright, now you go back and return in July!

As always, Swami had His plans. I realized He wanted me to return when the new college would be inaugurated on 8 July . I returned to Anantapur a few days before the ceremony and since then I have been in this campus.

Unparalleled Joy of Early Years at Anantapur

The hostel was not ready then. Along with a few other teachers who had arrived at the same time, we stayed at one of the classrooms in the campus itself. Whenever Swami visited the college, He would occupy one of the rooms on the first floor. During such days, the joy we felt at being in His vicinity was unparalleled.

 
During Bhagavan's visit to Anantapur campus

Once, four of us were sitting in a room when Swami walked in. He spoke to us and said, “Today, I have invited some local people here and we will have a discourse.” He sent us new saris and asked us to wear them.

A small celebratory function was held that day and Swami gave away gifts to the teachers who had helped the college achieve 100% per cent results .

So profound was Swami’s love and care for us that we forgot all the inconvenience of living in a classroom. It didn’t matter that w e had to bathe in the bathrooms that were built for students and were some distance away.

We also had to make our sleeping arrangement on the floor in the same classroom. There was no furniture and we had to get our own beds. But none of this seemed a matter of concern to any one of us.

 
 

 

- Heart2Heart Team

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