Volume 8 - Issue 11
November 2010
Other Articles

LOVING LEGEND -- LIVING LEGACIES

October 20, 1940. It was on this day, seventy years ago, that Bhagavan Baba unveiled the mystery surrounding His birth, life and mission.  He declared to the people around, and through them to the entire mankind, that He indeed is the Supreme Consciousness embodied in a diminutive and delightful form. “I am no longer your Sathya, I am Sai…I have My work; My devotees are calling Me…” He announced candidly on that day.

Ever since, this eternal reservoir of energy and empathy, hope and happiness, solace and succor, light and love, has nursed and nurtured, and ensured that the tiny seed of goodness latent within every individual grows into a gigantic tree of love and serenity.  And like a perfect teacher, He has demonstrated this more by living that principle in every moment of His own life. The result is a luminescent legacy that will continue to illumine the dark alleys of humanity’s collective consciousness, elevating it to a state of absolute sublimity for generations to come.

“Loving Legend – Living Legacies” seeks to capture a few salient highlights of this glorious saga of Pure Love. This 30-episode radio documentary starts on October 20, 2010 on Radio Sai to continue daily till November 19, 2010.

Below is the textual adaptation of this audio series embellished with pictures, audio and video clips!

Let us immerse ourselves in the story of His glory and more important strive to make our little lives shine with the sacred glow of purity, nobility and genuine compassion.

Episode 20: Modern Education's Divine Manifestation
- The Sai University

 
banner

On Vijayadasami Day in October 1980, Baba inaugurated the Sri Sathya Sai College at Prasanthi Nilayam. He said: “This college will be transformed into a University. Swami's will is the almighty will. The Government of India has agreed to the inauguration of a University by us here. Therefore, on this very day, Vijayadasami next year, the college at Prasanthi Nilayam and the college at Anantapur will be raised to University status.”

The ‘Unfeasible University’ Comes Into Being

 

It takes several years for a college to attain the status of a university. Bureaucratic red tape demands tedious committee evaluation of curricula. Also a history of success in providing education must be proven. Furthermore, Puttaparthi was a remote area then without a permanent road. Consequently, many in the education field including eminent men like Dr. Bhagavantam, a former Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, thought this was absolutely impossible; one year was too less a time frame for an endeavour like this.

The following year on Vijayadasami day, Baba announced that the Sri Sathya Sai University would be inaugurated on 22 November, the eve of His 56th birthday. And, indeed, on that day the marvellous edifice of architectural beauty, situated on top of a hill, glowed in divine light as it received its accession to university status.

 

During the ceremony, Baba said: “The students are the roots. The tree will grow with branches on all sides, countless flowers will bloom; it will provide and promote peace and security to the world.”

True to His Word, beautiful blossoms have bloomed since then and through the fragrance of their selfless service and ideal lives, they have become harbingers of a future that is filled with hope, harmony and goodness.

Commemorating the landmark event, Prof. Kasturi, Baba’s biographer, wrote: “This is the dawn of the Sai era of re-education of man for the establishment of peace on earth and goodwill among all people.”

The Puttaparthi campus was linked to the boys' College in Brindavan and the girls' college in Anantapur. Consequently, all three campuses attained university status.

Sai Institutes – A Reservoir of Spiritual Knowledge

The college for girls in Anantapur was the first, established as it was in 1968. The priority that Baba gave to the higher education of girls indicates His emphasis on universal education irrespective of caste, creed, nationality, and gender. And this in a country where girls traditionally have been given very little access to education!

Those who enter the Anantapur Campus are considered the daughters of India who learn to revere their holy traditions; sisters to serve the needy and downtrodden in the villages of this land; wives to wed simplicity and sincerity in their marriages, and mothers to instill the ideals of service and spiritual discipline in the hearts of their children.

But the boys were not forgotten. The foundation stone for a Sathya Sai College was laid on 16 March 1972 on a vast piece of land adjacent to Brindavan, near Whitefield. This became another architectural gem planned by Bhagavan, comparable in its magnificence to the grand structure housing the women's college at Anantapur. Designed as a reservoir of spiritual knowledge, it promised to transform the land into a place of peace and prosperity.

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Baba commented at the time: “Parents, politicians and teachers are all responsible for the extent to which the educational system has deteriorated. In education, as in all sectors of modern life, borrowed ideals, imported systems and fickle loyalties have brought disaster. Everyone is engaged in offering advice or criticism, but none in actual execution to set an example. When the students of this college become leaders and teachers, the number of persons able to voyage happily on an even keel over the turbulent sea of life will increase. Injustice, untruth and unrighteousness will be recognized as disgraceful.”

The Sai School of Business Management – A Class Apart

Five years after the university came into being, Bhagavan shocked the then Vice-Chancellor Dr. S. N. Saraf with His announcement that He wished to introduce a Masters in Business Administration programme. Not just that, He also expressed His resolve to begin the course during the following academic year. Within six months, the curriculum had to developed, staff recruited, students enrolled and the approval obtained from an external committee.

Just as He had willed, on 21 August 1986, Swami inaugurated the MBA programme. During the occasion, He said: “In the Sai Institute, we are attaching special importance to cultural and ethical values. Among these, the primary place is being given to 'Indian Ethos and Values.' The course will cover such matters as the Indian Economic Environment, Personnel Management, Organizational Behaviour and Business Communication. Emphasis will be laid on Personnel Management and Human Values, which do not figure very much in the courses of studies in other management institutes now.”

And that is how the School of Business Management, right from its inception, has been very different. Apart from the regular subjects dealing with production, finance, and marketing, it has special courses on values in management, leadership and national perspectives. At that time no other management institute in the world even thought about these topics. The significance of this becomes apparent if we closely watch the changing contours of the corporate scene in the last few decades.

Current Deterioration of Business Ethics

 

Though business, as a discipline, originally started as a way of serving the society by providing a few goods and services, in the last hundred years or so, with the rise of capitalism, its objective has been dangerously redefined to ensure wealth maximisation for shareholders. In 1970, Milton Friedman, Nobel Laureate economist, aggressively propagated the idea that 'the sole concern of business should be the maximisation of profit' and that it cannot accommodate a host of other 'conflicting interests’.

Companies have never been so crass as to have such a maxim in their mission statement. Somewhere buried in the corporate psyche is the guilt of failing in their duty to society. The mission statements often have such politically correct phrases as 'corporate social responsibility,' 'sustainable development,' and other buzz-words to deflect inspection while the pursuit of the bottom line of profit continues with undiminished zeal. The resultant social or environmental damage accruing from their activities continues unabated.

With the capitalistic frenzy taking over the corporate boardrooms, anything other than economic growth of the company is overlooked, and any shortcut to growth, even though questionable, is welcome. The scene has only become more dismal with the rise of super capitalism in the current times. The Enron collapse, the Worldcom debacle, and the insolvency of Adelphia, the fifth largest cable company in the U.S. are but a few examples that illustrate the factor. And the trend continues, as much in India as elsewhere. Not a week goes by without the news of one big scam or the other being unearthed, despite the implementation of several checks and balances by the regulatory authorities. Can corruption at high places in the corporate world be reduced by introducing more rules? Maybe yes, but it will only be a temporary measure before someone finds another loophole to exploit. The problem, if one analyses it carefully, finds its way to the corridors of the world's business schools.

 

Rakesh Khurana, an associate professor at Harvard, writes: “Business schools - which started to make management a profession with a commitment - to using a body of knowledge for the good of society - have today transformed themselves into a 'marketable commodity' with the students often being treated as 'customers’.”

Some social scientists view this situation as perilous to the future of humanity. It poses long-term health hazards to modern society. In such a scenario, for many managers, pay packages and perks become more important than ethics. Economic value takes precedence over eternal values, and money takes the centre stage.

Truth, Love and Righteousness – The True Profits

One visionary redefined the role, goal and responsibilities of managers. He clinically disengaged corporate success from the no-holds-barred ideology of profit-making at any cost. That visionary is the Universal Teacher and the most committed champion of Character Education, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

And Baba says: “True business is that which is carried out on the lines of truth and righteousness. Profit earned without these two cardinal principles should be considered as loss, not profit. Leading a life of truth, love and righteousness is true profit.”

 

It will be heartening to note that this is the life-breath of scores of graduates that leave the Sai Baba's School of Business Management every year. The real question is, “Can anyone be successful in this ruthless world without compromising these sacred values?”

Given their mandate and its strict limitations, graduates of the School of Business Management proceed into the world of business with surprisingly interesting results.

One of them Mr. Jitendra Panjabi, currently working as Macro Analyst with the Capital Group in Singapore, reports: “There was a situation at work where a senior colleague asked a group of us to produce backdated reports and file them to maintain the files in order. Most of my other colleagues complied with this, while I refused to follow it. My stand was that backdating reports was not a righteous action.

“I personally felt we have to be honest about our actions, and accept that the processes need to change. This, however, did not go down well with the person concerned. My colleagues, who complied with the orders, were benefited with opportunities, while I was singled out with negative repercussions in the near term.

“The pain I went through for taking this stand troubled me for many months, till, one day it reached the ears of the CEO. The big boss immediately came down on the issue, and asked me to bypass formal channels and report to him directly on such matters from thereon.

“A few years later, when the same CEO was looking for a senior person to take charge of the leadership on a couple of new and important initiatives, he chose me, bypassing all the other senior persons in the organisation. The top management wanted someone who could stand up for righteousness against power. My steadfastness to principles was rewarded handsomely, even though it took a while.”

Value-Based Management Programme

 

The very first course in the management programme offered at the Sai Institute in Puttaparthi is not “Management Principles” as is the convention in any management school. Instead, it is “Value-Based Management”. And this remains as the undercurrent in all the other subjects dealt inside the classroom and outside. It is no wonder, therefore, that when a graduate of the Institute steps into the corporate world, he is as passionate about values and ethics as he is about performance and progress.

Referring to his learning experiences in the school, Mr. Manoj Gautam, an alumnus serving as Financial Advisor in Sinhasi Consultants, Bangalore, who is now a financial advisor, states: “At the school, we learnt not to earn but to yearn, to command and not demand; to be complete and not to compete. We have been taught to emphasise and empathise; to look at every event and incident in life with the prism of humanness. Elsewhere, students are tutored to be impersonal in the name of professionalism, but we give a personal touch to everything we do, and that is what makes us different from the rest.

“Is it difficult to be different? Surely, it is easier said than done. You have to struggle when you stand for a principle. People appreciate what you do, but don't dare to support you when their personal interests are jeopardized.

“In one of my earlier offices, I was heading the account section of a particular state office of a private company. Many malpractices were prevalent there. With strong measures, I could stop and change a few practices at levels below me in the organisational hierarchy.

“But there were other incidents happening with the connivances of the higher authorities. I put forth these issues to my higher ups and requested them to change their ways for the good of the client and the company. But my concerns fell on deaf ears. I was told 'it should be done this way as it has been done that way since long.'

 

“Now, I had no choice; I wanted to follow what I was taught - 'If you cannot influence your company to turn into good, run away from that bad company.' When you do not have enough strength to change others, you should have the strength to change yourself and take corrective course of action.

“Therefore, I quit the job. It was a difficult decision, and I was persuaded by many not to take this seemingly 'hasty' step, including the ones who were instrumental in helping me find a placement in that company. But this decision strengthened my self-confidence and determination to follow my conscience. No management institute teaches these values and instills the same in you, but this, I believe, is the stark difference that sets the Sai Business School apart from the herd.”

On being asked where he derived such confidence and passion from to follow the voice of his soul and remain uncompromising in his adherence to principles, Manoj says: “Our greatest strength is Bhagavan. In any difficult situation, we, the alumni, turn to Him for solace. He has trained and prepared us for the world as professionals. We are set to bring about a change. We begin with changing ourselves, and then move onto transforming our surroundings, and finally, the world. My alma mater has given me the strength of knowledge and character. This enables me to march ahead in life with confidence and conviction that we are here, for a greater purpose.”

Sai Students – Shining Examples of Spiritual Awareness

Speaking to the students on that landmark occasion of the inauguration of the Sri Sathya Sai University in 1981, Bhagavan Baba said: “This College has not been established just to prepare you for earning degrees. The main purpose is to help you to cultivate self-knowledge and self-confidence, so that each one of you can learn self-sacrifice and earn self-realisation. The teaching of the University curricula, the preparation for presenting you for the University examinations, and the award of University degrees are only the means employed for the end, namely, spiritual uplift, self-discovery and social service through love and detachment. Our hope is that by your lives, you will be shining examples of spiritual awareness and its beneficialconsequences to the individual and society.”

Today, when one looks at the experiences of these alumni of the Sai Business Management School, one sees an achievement, to whatever extent it may be, of the University's grand vision. It offers hope of a new world of business where integrity is as important as analytical ability, men and methods are governed by ethics and morality, and the sole objective of business is not to sell to the society whatever it produces to further its selfish interests, but to serve society with whatever it needs, and in a manner that is economically sound, ecologically harmonious, environmentally friendly and humanely driven, for, truthfully, the business of business is not divorced from the business of life.

To be continued)

- Heart2Heart Team

What are your impressions about this article? Please share your feedback by writing to [email protected] Do not forget to mention your name and country.

 

 

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