September 20, 2010 – “The Voice of Unity” by Sai Students

The team from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council or the NAAC as it is called had arrived to Puttaparthi to accredit Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. For those who know the reality, this whole exercise seems so strange. What do this mean?

Simply this: When Swami started the Institute, during the first Convocation on the 22nd of November 1981, He had said, “Students! You are aware that there are now 108 universities in India. This University is the 109th, one more than that traditional total. Lokaah samastaah sukhino bhavanthu - May all the universities succeed and serve the country well. But, this university must be distinct from the rest and attain a unique status. It must be the ideal for others. For this consummation students, teachers, parents, rulers and the people must cooperate.”

So,the very basis for starting the University was that it stands out different from all the existing ones. But that day, a team had arrived to see how the university is faring based on parameters used to judge any other University (!) with the question in mind, “Why make a special exception for this University?” A rich history of such teams visiting Puttaparthi has always shown people arriving with their heads held high, full of questions but returning with hearts full and heads bent low, filled with wisdom and humility!

The team had visited the various departments of the Institute and had queried them on many issues. The answers were given with a lot of conviction. It is an interesting story in itself to cover this transformative process of a visiting team, but leaving that for some other time and space, we proceed to the events of the day in the Mandir. The team was blessed to witness a cultural programme which Swami had blessed the students to put up in front of Him.

Swami had not come out for darshan the previous day and so that day there seemed to be a lot of prayers for His arrival.  When Swami finally arrived at about 6:25 p.m., there was a surge of joy amongst the waiting people. On both sides, people rose to their feet and cried out in joy as Swami passed by. It is so true that when we miss something, we realize its importance instantaneously. Blessing the birthday boys, Swami arrived on the stage. He sat listening to the bhajans and began to leaf through the day’s mail! His not coming the previous day seemed to have proportionally increased His mail too! After about 25 minutes of bhajans, the student next to Swami asked Swami about the programme and Swami told the students to start.

One boy quickly moved up the stage and offered a rose to Swami and the programme entitled, “The Voice of Unity” began. Commencing with an introduction on the salient features of the esteemed Institute, the students presented a Carnatic piece of Saint Thyagaraja, "Ramanannu Brovara...", rendered with professional touch. The next was a dance on the theme, “Mera Bharat Mahaan.” The verve and energy with which the boys danced drew applause from the appreciative audience.

Swami somehow was engrossed in the letters with only casual looks now and then at the programme. But the moment any boy rose to speak, Swami would be all ears for him. There was a wonderful and fast instrumental piece, the original of which has been played by Ronu Majumdar entitled Bengal Nagpur express. Interspersed in the piece were short speeches by students in various languages.

 

As the Sitar, Violin and Flute in the piece began to build a wonderful crescendo, there were goosebumps for many. There was the famous qawwali, “Sai Ke Darbar Mein” and the final topping came with the evergreen classic, “Humko Tumse Pyaar Kitna.” Electrifying the evening, airing lofty themes of national integration, hailing the alma mater, this reservoir of great talent and devotion, dedicated the presentation to their Divine Chancellor in presence of a visiting NAAC Team (National Assessment and Accreditation Council), an autonomous institution established by the University Grants Commission (UGC).

As the programme concluded, Swami asked for the aarthi to begin. Once that was over, Swami asked for the Samastha Lokaha… mantra to be chanted again after which He raised both His hands in blessings to all. As Swami moved towards the residence, all the members of the visiting NAAC team sought His blessings and touched His feet in reverence.

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