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Love of Science and Signs of Love

- A Revealing International Conference in the Department of Physics, SSSIHL


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Each year, the month of November draws several thousand devotees from around the globe and all corners of India to Prasanthi Nilayam. The week of November 23, 2006 which marked Bhagawan’s 81st birthday celebrations, was no different. Devotees thronged Prasanthi Nilayam to witness the 25th annual convocation of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (SSSIHL) - a deemed university, and the inauguration of Sri Sathya Sai International Centre for Sports - an indoor stadium of international standards, and a momentous gift from Bhagawan to His students. The indoor stadium was built in a record four months time and inaugurated on November 22, 2006 by His Excellency President of India, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. Offering his reverential pranams at the Lotus Feet of Bhagavan, the President praised the value-based education offered at Bhagavan’s institutions saying it combines spirituality with social responsibility. The president also emphasized the importance of emerging technologies to the students and faculty of SSSIHL and said,

“From the university website, I found that SSSIHL is attracting faculty members from many parts of the world. This resource can definitely be utilized for providing courses to the students in the emerging field of “Convergence of Technologies”.

The information technology and communication technology have already converged leading to Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Information Technology combined with bio-technology has led to bio-informatics. Now, Nano-technology is knocking at our doors. It is the field of the future that will replace microelectronics and many fields with tremendous application potential in the areas of medicine, electronics and material science.”

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The President of India delivering
the 25th Convocation address

As Divinely ordained, and on the heels of President’s exigency to open doors to nanotechnology, the department of physics at the SSSIHL hosted an international workshop at Prashanti Nilayam on “Science and Applications of Nanostructured Materials” from 29 November to 1st December, 2006. Because of its multidisciplinary nature, the workshop attracted participants researching in diverse fields ranging from physics, chemistry, biosciences, engineering, to business and management studies. Twenty invited speakers and about fifty participants from various Indian institutions participated in this workshop. Most of them were making their first visit to Prasanthi Nilayam, and understandably their curiosity was two-fold – scientific, and about Prasanthi Nilayam itself. As one of the invited speakers from Cambridge University wrote in his email ahead of the event - "I have heard a lot about Baba's work. Being invited (to Prasanthi Nilayam) gives me an opportunity to see it for myself." The students and faculty of the Brindavan campus (Bangalore) also participated via teleconferencing from the Sri Sathya Sai Multimedia Learning Center inaugurated by Bhagavan earlier in August, 2006.

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The spectrum of experts and participants invited for the workshop

Every student of the SSSIHL is trained in the practice of "Atithi devo bhava" (Revere the Guest as God) and this often involves learning lessons from Bhagavan directly. Events in Prasanthi Nilayam where first-time visitors are introduced to Bhagavan's philosophy, message and work present both opportunities and challenges to the students of Bhagavan. These events are verily “practical laboratories” where the student is put to test. The three-day international workshop on nanostructured materials was one such event. Besides being curious knowledge-seekers, the students played the role of hosts, organizers and caretakers during this event. They organized themselves into small groups to efficiently attend to the needs of each visitor and more importantly, introduce them to Prasanthi Nilayam and help them discover on their own about Bhagavan's work, philosophy and message.

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Vibuthi confers the most therapeutic benefits for
the human body
 

As a part of this workshop, the visitors were also shown an hour long video on Bhagavan's mission and work, courtesy of Prasanthi Digital Studio. This began their introduction to His Work. At their own convenience the visitors visited the Super Specialty Hospital to absorb the magnitude of His Work. To many of the visitors, especially those from overseas, the presence of a university of this nature in a rural setting was a miracle. One of the professors of Indian origin, presently residing in the United States, said, "To establish a university in this country, in a rural setting is a wonder. Usually students from rural areas move to the universities located in cities. Here, it is just the other way round and this trend is more than a miracle." And what impressed them most was the import of a value-based education system. It was a stark contrast to what they usually see in most academic circles.

The workshop not only enhanced education for the students but also served as a platform for the participants to forge international collaborative research in nanoscience and nanotechnology. Progress and current issues related to the synthesis and properties of nanostructured materials were discussed, in particular, the curative effect of trace amounts of copper present in the human body was thoroughly analyzed. For example, copper is an essential element of an enzyme necessary for the production of cartilage lining in human bones. This scientific fact justified the ancient practice of Indian sages who habitually drank water stored overnight in copper vessels. After further deliberation on the curative effects of silver and gold particles, it was unanimously concluded that Bhagavan’s vibuthi (sacred ash) which has the most therapeutic benefits for the human body, could work in ways much subtler than these and remain beyond the understanding of our limited minds.

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Expression of a participant’s humbling experience
during the workshop.

For some of the participants, the impact of their interaction with the students came shortly after the event ended. One of the invited speakers called a member of the faculty at the SSSIHL and said he was moved by the warmth and love of the students he interacted with.

Recalling later the last few moments when the students requested him to visit again in near future, he said, “I was touched by the genuineness of feeling. It is customary to say a few these words when a guest leaves. I hear this everywhere. But I felt that here the words were suffused with love." Another professor from the United States wrote, "It will be a pleasure if some of Bhagavan's students chose to work with me in the future. Their sincerity is remarkable."

His love flowed through the young minds. Love of science brought the participants to the workshop which provided them an opportunity to worship at the shrine of science. Those who came to share their love of science were indeed touched by the signs of love. It is indeed amazing what the touch of divine love can do to man, mind and matter.

Organisers of the Workshop,
Deparment of Physics, SSSIHL

 
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Vol 5 Issue 03 - MARCH 2007
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