Volume 13 - Issue 08
August 2015
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Posted on: Aug 24, 2015


Spreading Sai Values In An Islamic Monarchy

A Sai daughter, Chithra Narayan's love crusade unites Muscat's diversity while amplifying Omani values through Sai Spiritual Education in Human Values

Radio Sai special series Sai Stree Shakti chronicles the forces of nature that incarnated as women of spiritual substance to serve as the chosen instruments of the Avatar, contributing significantly to the Sai Mission.

Bhagawan not only hailed their sterling virtues but also shaped them to be exemplars of duty, devotion, dedication and determination.

To mark the auspicious 90th year of the divine advent, we salute these dynamic and divine Sai women whose contribution to the Sai mission has been strong and steady and largely silent. 

Starting March 19, 2015, every month till November 19, 2015, Radio Sai is celebrating Ladies Day by highlighting the life and dedication of such individuals who will go down in history as the able and capable contemporaries of the Sri Sathya Sai Avatar. Their incarnation appears to be a significant part of Bhagawan's master plan.

On March 19, 2015, Radio Sai offered its first tribute to the late Mrs. Sarla Shah under this series. (click here)

On April 19, 2015, Radio Sai featured the contributions of Mrs. Carole Alderman of the United Kingdom in the area of Sathya Sai Education in Human Values.  (click here)

On May 19, 2015, the humble and simple Mandir Ladies of Prasanthi Nilayam were under the spotlight as the custodians of the sanctum maintenance. (click here)

On June 19, 2015 Radio Sai shared the journey of Mrs. Angela Loraine Burrows, an English lady who was transplanted to Thailand to serve as an ambassador of the Sai Educare Mission. (click here)

On July 19, 2015 Radio Sai profiled Dr. Hema Gopinathan, the Deputy Medical Superintendent of the Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital, Prasanthi Nilayam. (Click Here)

On August 19, 2015 Radio Sai turns its spotlight on an Omani expatriate Mrs. Chithra Narayan who runs an adopted Sri Sathya Sai Education in Human Values Nursery in an Absolute Islamic Monarchy in the Middle East.

The net outcome of her persistence proves the universal appeal and application of the Sai Education in Human Values program, as Omanis find it resonating the core values of Islam and the Sultanate's diverse expatriates find in it an echo of their respective cultures.

It was his Pakistani business associate who passionately recommended the 'best nursery in town' for his Indian friend Mr. Suresh Ramakrishna's toddler daughter a decade ago. The gentleman was a very happy parent of a school that he described as the safest, most cultured and loving environment for a young child to be in. Today, Suresh Ramakrishna's daughter, Sai Gayathri is a Grade 5 student who carries with her the confidence and calm of the nursery that her father's Pakistani friend insisted she attend and the family remains grateful for the recommendation.

Over the past 22 years, a total of 2500 little people have graduated from a nursery school that runs the SSSEHV program in the most unexpected of places. Today it is amongst the most preferred early education options in Muscat, Oman. The school's current student body comes from 12 different countries and cultures and is as multicultural and ethnically diverse as its teaching faculty.

Omani, Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims, alongside Indian Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and Parsis come together at this school where little voices joyfully sing values songs such as 'May all the beings in all the worlds be happy', 'Truth, Peace, Love …' and 'We are here to wake up the values...'

Young beginners highlighting Omani values through the SSEHV programme

Admission at this thriving nursery school is as much sought after by local Omanis, as by expatriate parents from around the world who want to raise their precious little children in a nurturing environment, which they believe honours their respective traditional values. That is how this SSSEHV (Sri Sathya Sai Education in Human Values) Adopted school in the Sultanate of Oman plays an important role in spreading Sai's message of universal human values to thousands of homes in the city of Muscat. And in doing so, it brings together, in an environment of love and mutual respect, Indians and Pakistanis, Omanis and Bangladeshis, uniting races and religions.

Started by Mrs. Chithra Narayan, along with Mrs. Farida Ali Mohammed Al Zadjali, it is supported by 24 teachers, parent volunteers, administration and support staff. And this is where the team sows the seeds of natural goodness in these children through the 'Educare' teaching technique unique to SSSEHV, all within the framework of the Montessori system of nursery learning.

Mrs. Narayan is candid in introducing the SSSEHV program to potential parents. During the orientation sessions, she draws parallels between the more familiar Montessori program and SSSEHV. Just as she traces the origin of the Montessori system to Maria Montessori, she attributes the SSS Education in Human Values to the universal teacher to humanity, Sri Sathya Sai Baba of India who has successfully revolutionised modern education as a process of character building.

She also spells out with clarity that the program is about universal human values that are the cornerstone of every great religion, such as Islam, Christianity and Hinduism. The five human values under question are the inner sentinels that have guided human behaviour towards higher purpose and refinement since centuries. Great heroes and role models are drawn from Omani, Middle Eastern and world cultures and history, enhancing the appeal of the program. This makes for an easier buy-in by self-aware and well-informed parents who are convinced that a strong moral compass is essential for achieving true heroism and excellence.

Good, Not Great Is The New Cool

In the affluent Omani society, where basic needs of the indigenous as well as the expatriate population are well taken care, parents dreams of raising their children in an environment that nurtures the whole child, mind, body, emotions, heart and spirit included. Based on the 3H formula to align the heart, the head and the hand, this SSSEHV Adoptive school integrates academic excellence with character development based on the fundamental virtues of truth, peace, love, nonviolence and right conduct.

Through their ward's daily learning experience, school's culture and events, parents and grandparent find the school resonating their own religious and traditional value systems and appreciate exposing their tender children to ideals of respect for elders, taking responsibility and practising charity, compassion and caring.

As the program's founder, Sri Sathya Sai Baba says, these noble traits are present in every human being. The unique teaching technique that He has provided, trains the teachers to harness these from within the pupil, as per the 'Educare' method that seeks to draw out that which is already within.

Valued guests at the school,including Mr. Nimish Pandya and Mr. Sanjay Sahni

The multicultural population of Oman has eagerly embraced the program whose reputation is now well-known around the region. Annual day function of the school has become a gala event that the young students' extended families look forward to and often travel to Muscat to attend.

The journey to this rosy picture has not been an easy one for Mrs. Chithra Narayan. To find such widespread acceptance for this novel educational experiment of SSSEHV in an Absolute Islamic Monarchy has been an uphill process and Mrs. Narayan attributes it's success entirely to the divine will of Bhagawan Baba.

If the past two decades have taught her anything, it is that the power of faith can work wonders and invoke unimagined divine interventions to overcome challenges big and small.

New Beginnings – The Narayan Family Moves to Musat

Born and raised in a family of Sai devotees from Chennai, India, Mrs. Chithra Narayan, landed in Muscat, Oman in June 1990 along with her four-year-old daughter. Her husband had already joined a company there two months prior. The same year, she got a job at the city's Gulf Institute as a Young Beginners teacher and she gave it her all over the next two years.

Late Dr. Sara Pavan interacting with the children at the school

The sponsor of Gulf Institute, Sheikh Ahmed Saif Al Habsi encouraged her to start a small nursery for pre-schoolers. As the thought was daunting and she was praying for guidance, sometime in March 1993, a dear friend presented her a beautiful picture of Sathya Sai Baba in a standing and blessing pose.

Three months later, in June 1993, with Swami as her guiding force and Sheikh Ahmed Saif Al Habsi as her sponsor (a pre-condition for foreigners for starting a venture in the Sultanate), Mrs. Narayan started a new nursery school with just nine little students.

The signs of His grace were all over the project. The first student to register was named Sai Samyak. In 6 months the school strength rose from 9 to100 students.

Today, the school has become a benchmark for an SSSEHV adopted school in an Islamic nation where teachers dispense early learning through the medium of universal love, bearing in mind that it is God's little representative they are teaching, not Language, Numbers, Art or Dance.

Dato J. Jagadeesan and Mrs. Lalitha Jagadeesan of Malaysia at the school

Over the years, the school's culture reflects what it teaches. Highlighting the value of love for all creation and nonviolence, the school enjoys full support from parents to practice vegetarianism on the premises.

Parents feel reassured that their tiny tots are so loved in the school that Bhagawan founded Himself through His instrument popularly known as 'Chithramma' by her students and staff. “We consider every child an angel and the transformation that we witness through the three years of their exposure to a SSSEHV program is testimony to the power of Bhagawan's message of selfless love and universality” she explains.

Training, Professional Development Key to Continued Excellence

Professional training in the SSSEHV method has proven to be a major contributor to the school's success, and reflects clearly in the team spirit of the staff, satisfaction levels of the parents and grandparents (who are all stakeholder's in the school's culture) and the students' achievement levels.

It began in 2002 when the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation of Oman enabled Mrs. Narayan to attend a diploma course in SSEHV in Thailand. The experience proved to be a turning point for her professional and personal life. Several life-altering experiences in Thailand transformed her forever. She remains beholden to Dr. Jumsai and Mrs. Loraine Burrows for instilling the SSSEHV methods so deeply in her.

Dr. Jumsai encouraged Chithra to implement SSEHV within the Montessori nursery learning system in Muscat, Oman. His advise to her was, “yours can be an adopted school. Implement, impart and make the children evolve with Educare.”

One day before leaving Thailand, Chithra received inner clarity from Bhagawan. His command was simple: “Hold on to SSEHV and your mission starts now”. She recalls, “I was in tears and when I opened my eyes, and just then a flower fell from Swami’s picture and I promised Sai Ma that my breath is SSEHV and I will surrender my life at His lotus feet to impart and spread the messages of Educare.”

Upon return from Thailand, the school started EHV class and value integration took place in academic curriculum and co-curricular activities. Swami blessed her work many times and advised her to serve the society with His mission.

Cultural Confluence - Celebrating traditional Arab values through the SSEHV curriculum

After her studies in Thailand, Mrs. Narayan got her Advanced Diploma from the Institute of Sathya Sai Education, Dharmakshetra in 2006. Her research was guided by the institute's Director Dr. B.G. Pitre and was on the topic “Generating a Criteria for Evaluating Sathya Sai Schools in India”.

As an Accreditation Council Member of the ISSE India, she was part of the inspection team to 20 Sathya Sai Schools in India. This was a priceless exposure to both the fine nuances and the practical implementation techniques of the program, enabling her to replicate the best practices in her school in Oman.

Not to deny her teachers the professional development opportunities that she had benefitted so much from, she requested Dr. B.G. Pitre, Director ISSE, Dr. Shoba Doshi and Mr. Pratap Thakkar to come to Oman from Mumbai in 2010 for training all the teachers for a week. This on-going professional training is now a regular part of the school's culture.

Among others, Baba's translator Professor Anil Kumar of the Sai University in Prasanthi Nilayam, Dato. J. Jagadeesan and Dr. Suresh Govind of Malaysia, Mrs. Gayatree Anil Samboo of Mauritius and Mr. H.E. Arumugam Parasuraman, have trained the school's staff from time to time. Three of the school's teachers are ISSE, Mumbai trained, while another three attended the course in Thailand. This ongoing professional honing is keeping the educators' skill set on par with the best in the field.

Eminent guests at gala annual day celebrations, including Prof. Anil Kumar and Dr. Suresh Govind

Just as the program teaches children to go inwards and tap into their innate wisdom, Mrs. Narayan has had to fall back on her inner Sai to guide her through many day-to-day improvements, major challenges and everything in between. This sense of self-confidence derived from her prayers and meditation has rescued her in many trying circumstances.

Grace Inversely Proportionate to Challenges

Last 22 years have taught her valuable lessons in persistence of effort, acceptance and detachment of outcomes. In 1998 while her entire team was at the grand 5th annual day celebration of the school, her house was robbed clean. Chithra was able to handle the shock by holding on to Swami’s teachings and staying calm and collected in face of such an unexpected turn of events.

In the year 2004, the school suffered it biggest setback when its Omani sponsor suddenly announced during the summer holidays in June that he was going to sell the or close down the nursery and gave the Narayan family 45 days' time to leave for their country. He gave no reason for his decision.

In a country where local sponsorship is essential to run a school and for holding visas, this appeared to be the end of the road for Mrs. Narayan's SSSEHV school. Through this crisis, Swami guided her through a series of miracles and materialisations in her home, which served to remind her that He was in-charge and all she had to do was keep up her efforts. She knew that a higher force was controlling the outcomes.

The nursery was originally scheduled to reopen on August 9th and the shocking news of its imminent closure came just weeks before during the summer holidays. Some students and teachers moved away upon hearing the news of its possible closure. Swami guided Mrs. Chithra Narayan to hold a meeting and inform the parents that by 27th August the school would resume functioning.

While Mrs. Narayan obeyed His command implicitly, an Omani teacher Mrs. Farida Ali Mohammed Al Zadjali took over the sponsorship and the school got a second lease of life. Oman's SSSEHV adopted school got a big thumbs when 90% of the parents waited for its delayed reopening to send their children back to school.

“In a foreign country, when I was in trouble, so many well-wishers stood by me and helped me to rise again. With Swami’s infinite grace, we won the battle and began a new journey on August 27th with a bang,” says Mrs. Chithra Narayan with much gratitude.

Through the challenges, it was both the affirmations from the Sai within and the direct endorsements received from Prasanthi Nilayam that kept her going. Back in the ashram, Bhagawan often spoke fondly of His school in Oman. From time to time, these life saving comments from the divine lips were conveyed through various instruments, such as Mr. Vembu of the Sri Sathya Sai Boys Hostel in Prasanthi Nilayam, Baba's translator Professor Anil Kumar Kamaraju, Mr. S.S. Naganand and later by Mr. Ratnakar Raju who had heard Swami talking fondly about Chithramma's nursery school. With such recurring feedback, the team's cup of joy and inspiration kept overflowing and no challenge seemed unsurmountable.

Bhagawan's divine words “Very happy with school. Chala santoshan. Good girl, good work” during darshan on March 30, 2010 are etched in her heart with deep gratitude.  The opportunity to come with 45 children and present a dance in Prasanthi Nilayam in June 2012 was the icing on the cake.

During the cultural programme presented in June 2012 in the Sai Kulwant Hall

In February 2011 Bhagawan, not only spoke to Mr. S.S. Naganand, Member, SSS Central Trust about the Muscat nursery, He also sent vibuthi for Mrs. Narayan with an assurance to cure her slip disc. Today, His grace keeps her back straight and upright and her heart whole and open to receiving His guidance on a moment to moment basis.

SSSCT member Mr. S.S. Naganand participating in the school’s community outreach activities

If the SSSEHV adopted nursery school in Oman is a dynamic and innovative learning program that is ever experimenting with new ideas, it is purely an outcome of intuitive promptings from the inner Sai. In 2004, Bhagawan tweaked the school's motto from “Your partner in Childcare and Growth” to “Your Partner in Educare”.

Start Early, Drive Slowly, Reach Safely

Preaching without practice is against the school's vision. For an early learning centre, this SSSEHV adopted Montessori incorporates various experiential facets of the program right from the beginning.

School programs and extra-curricular activities such as fancy dress competition, story-telling, sports, skits, songs and daily learning are based on values. Parents are trained to look for values in everything be it value walk or value sports and grandparents are especially honoured on the annual sports day. Baba's Chinna Katha based dramas are also popular.

What a Child Learns Till Five, Stays for Life – Early Dose of Educare, Medicare and Socio-care

As part of the nursery's medicare activities, children bring medicines every year and these are handed over to needy camp workers who find them useful. School's adult population, especially school parents participate actively in the annual blood donation drive.

Parents of students participating in the school’s annual blood donation drive

Children are sensitised and trained to involve in socio-care activities several times through the academic year. On a hot day in the month of May, students participate in serving out chilled juices, fresh fruits and food to the labourers in their camps and the response is tremendous. The sense of satisfaction and joy of bringing a smile on a face of a hard working person, away from home is not lost on the hearts of Chithramma's little students.

During the holy month of Ramadan, children participate in 'Grama seva' activities by donating food grains and clothes to the needy people, and it is done with love and humility.

Children learn hands-on the joy of sharing and caring

Honour Our Parents Everyday – HOPE Program

Honour Our Parents Everyday or HOPE is a unique program that is celebrated on 6th May every year, to mark Eswaramma day in the school. Students sing songs of love and gratitude to their parents before presenting special cards and flowers they have made with love. They also take cards and gifts for their grand parents and their sweet songs often end up becoming the ringtone of many grandparents' mobile.

A school-wide food and clothes distribution drive is the highlight of the month of November and the young students are involved hands-on in the campaign so that they may experience the joy of selflessness and kindness.

Mrs. Chithra Narayan dedicates her efforts at making her SSSEHV school a fertile ground for experiential learning at Bhagawan's lotus feet, along with the Tamil language book she authored in 2012 about the benevolent and broad-minded ruler of Oman, His Majesty, King Qaboos bin Said Al Said.

Non-denominational Light Meditation is an intrinsic part of the school day

For Mrs. Chithra Narayan, God presents Himself as an impressionable bundle of joy in the age group of 3 to 5 plus. The institution she has built, one alphabet and one value rhyme at time, provides the right conditions for bringing forth the innate beauty and wisdom of the tiny tots in her care. As she channels their purity to dream dreams that include the well-being of all the beings in all the worlds, her efforts buzz with the familiar strains of “May all the beings in all the worlds be happy, or Samastha Loka Sukhino Bhavanthu”.

While the Sarva Dharma stupa stands tall in Prashanti Nilayam, Mrs. Chithra Narayan upholds its sanctity all the way across the Arabian Sea. Today, many broad-minded Omanis acknowledge that Truth, Love and Peace are the first, middle and last names of the one and only God we all worship, in our own ways. This love crusade to unite everyone in love and harmony is what drives this Sai daughter to keep going, one toddler step at a time.

Feed Back from Parents, Alumni and Guests

I am truly amazed by the work children do here and so proud that my kid is studying in this fantastic nursery. Oh the small miracles everywhere in a very disciplined way!

- Yasmeen Al Issa (Arab parent)

Teachers and children are fantastic in this environment which is infused with love. Helps in overall development of each child. I am happy that my son Athileo is here. Outstanding work in grooming kids.

- Anubis De Anthony (Argentinian parent)

Hip Hip Hurray! Three cheers for all the teachers and management. Hats off the way every event is organised with love and devotion.

- Irshad Sabiha

Great work. Truly a treat to the eyes in every event where everyone works from heart to bring out the best in each child. God bless this institution.

- Iram Ashraf – Parent

We would like to express our sincere thanks and gratitude for all your love, affection and support given to Sarah in the first 3 years of her schooling.

We have seen lots of effort has gone in building a strong foundation of her through many activities through out these years. We are sure this will help her in future to shine as a student and good human being.

We take this opportunity to thank all the teachers, especially Karpagam teacher for all her care, love and support given to Sarah throughout the year. As some one said

“Unless you flap your wings, you will never know how high you can fly”.

Here you have shown her how to flap her wings, now we hope she will fly greater heights in the future.

We admit that we took the right decision 3 years ago by enrolling her here. We believe this is the best Nursery in Muscat town today.

Wajeeha Sultana Basid Khan (Sarah Basid Khan’s parents)

My Beloved Teacher,

You are appreciated every single day in our lives. You brought the light to my sight from the moment you started teaching me...

And there is no way I’m ever going to forget that!! With you my life makes sense even more every single day... you keep on adding amazing new things to my life which makes me understand things clearly and so much better. I can never repay you and there will never be a better way to say thank you... I will say it a million times if I have to... Thank you for just being there!!

- Your loving student (Alumnus)
Rayan Mussellem Al Harthy

My dear Principal and teachers, thanks for giving me all your support and knowledge which helped me to bloom into a confident person. My nursery school has been a strong foundation for my educational life.

- Your obedient student, Mohammed (YB IIB)

It was a memorable annual day of song, music, devotion, love and joy beautifully presented by the tiny tots. Keep up the good work and may the nursery grow from strength to strength with blessing from Bhagwan Baba.

- Mr. S.S. Naganand, Member, SSS Central Trust, Prasanthi Nilayam

I am thrilled and excited to be here on this campus for SSEHV day celebrations. Teachers are dedicated. Children are joyful. The nursery implements and imparts SSEHV beautifully.

- Prof. Anil Kumar Kamaraju - Prashanti Nilayam 

Children are so loving and talented. They are so lucky to have wonderful and dedicated teachers. We feel Swami’s divine hand and blessing is plenty in the progress of this institution. Thanks to Swami who gave us the opportunity to visit the nursery.

- Mrs. Vijaylakshmi Kamaraju

Where there is unity, there is purity and divinity. Your love flows from you to staff, children and parents showing Swami’s presence in all your activities. Jai Sai Ram.

- Mr. Rajaram (on behalf of Mr. G.B. Choithram)

The school has been the source of inspiration and basic education for the Tiny Tots with the dedication of your team.

Special thanks to you for giving your precious time during the school vacations for our son Aaron Filipe D’souza to help him in his weak areas of learning. God bless you all. Keep up the good job.

- Sally & Victor D’souza, Parents

We take this time to express our gratitude and sincere thanks for moulding our child during his vital stage of development.

We see and understand, as a small child Mutayyeb has learnt the value of helping others, showing gratitude, being responsible & to be a good human being.

- With our regards, Shakaib & Firdous, Parents

I feel privileged to have been given the blessed opportunity to visit this special nursery school in Muscat. A special tribute to Mrs. Chithra Narayan for her vision, determination and dedication to manage this institution. The achievement of the nursery is extraordinary and bears the seed of excellence. God bless and all the best.

- Mr. H.E. Arumugam Parasuraman, irector, UNESCO

Words can hardly express the wonderful amazement experienced here at the Middle East Nursery. The world must love, see, emulate and spread to their homeland. I pray this becomes a reality. God Bless.

- Dato. J. Jegadeesan , Advisor Sathya Sai Council, Malaysia

Middle East Nursery is a beacon light that touches the realm of early childhood education with educare. Children, teachers, parents are working with love under the safe umbrella of SSSEHV. Hearty congratulations to all for working with heart and reaching the hearts.

- Mrs. Gayeetree Samboo, Director, Indian Ocean Centre for Education in Human Values, Mauritius.

Children here vibrate with love. Teachers are filled with peace and dedication. It’s only possible due to your leadership, dedication and commitment. May Sri Sathya Sai bless you and the nursery ever and forever.

- Dr. Suresh Govind - Chairman, SSSO Malaysia

Launch Pad for education with values. Great commendable work.

- Elango Muthukrishnan

Tons of credit – Lot of hard work by teachers and management. We are proud our child is in the great care of such dedicated people who are role models.

- Vandana Saxena

A world of creativity displayed all over. A Disneyland show equivalent with love and passion. A great job of teachers reflected through the children in every activity. Hats off to this educare team.

- N. Mahadevan

The smiles, the enthusiasm, the love, the songs, the silent sitting sessions are all extremely impressive. I congratulate the sponsor, the Principal and the teachers for doing something unique, special and truly great. This nursery produces good and great children.

- Dr. Raj Raghupathy, Professor, Kuwait University

Dear Chithra Madam, you are the heart of every classroom, the soul of the school. The mind behind the message that learning is cool. Your courage and commitment is that of legends told. Because of you, our children will have their own voice. Thank you Chithramma for passing knowledge through the years.

- Renimol & Samuel Parents of Rebecca & Rachel

It has been such an honour to visit not just a nursery but a citadel of loving compassionate learning. It shows in the energy, the spirit and the joy that I sense in the teachers, the children & the environment of this place.

- Dr. Prema Seshadri. A.O.L.

The children are very enthusiastic to learn the basic concept of education and matured enough to understand the real purpose of education and life in particular. The Educare day celebrations were par excellent. May Swami guide them to progress and prosper ever and forever.

- Mr. R. Chandrasekar. SSSO Prasanthi Nilayam

Radio Sai Team

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