National Youth Meet 2016 – Day Three – 27 May, 2016 (Morning)
Theme – Spirituality in Education through Harmony of Religions
This theme was chosen to decide how both secular and spiritual education could be merged in to a philosophy and pedagogy of education with the power to better serve the needs of the society.
The Sri Sathya Sai Premamrutham auditorium was packed with students, delegates and devotees, eagerly awaiting Bhagawan’s arrival. Bhagawan arrived around 9.50 AM, led in a procession by the traditional Poornakumbham and Vedam even as melodious bhajans sung by the students rang through the magnificent edifice.
The speakers for the day were, Sri Sri Nirmalanandanatha Swamiji, Head, Adichunchanagiri Math, Swami Muktidananda, Head, Mysore Centre, Sri Ramakrishna Math and Mission, Dr Gururaj Karajagi, Chairman, Academy of Creative Teaching, Sri HN Dastur, Executive Secretary and Director General, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Prof J Shashidhara Prasad, Former Vice Chancellor, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Issac Tigrett, Founder, House of Blues and Hard Rock Cafe, Father Charles Ogada, Founder, Spiritan Self Awareness Initiative, Dr Mrs Seetha Kunchitapadam, Former Director, Sahaj Marg Research and Training Institute, Prof Samuel K Samuel, Vice President, All India Association for Christian Higher Education, Professor H S Bhatia, former Scientist, DRDO, Sri BN Narasimha Murthy, Chief Mentor, Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Trust, Sri B Narayana Rao, Secretary, Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Trust
The formal proceedings began with Vedic invocation, followed by introduction of the guests seated on the stage, as well as the esteemed panellists for the inaugural session. The theme for the day’s conference was ‘Spirituality in Education through Harmony of Religions’.
Need for spirituality in Education
With the ceremonial lighting of the lamp and divine invocation, the conference on “Spirituality in Education” commenced. Sri B N Narasimha Murthy, Chief Mentor of the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Institutions, in his introductory note, drew the audience’s attention to the lacunae in the modern educational system which, bereft of morality, was resulting in major dangers that the world faced today. The soul of education is the education of the soul, he said, emphasizing on the importance of blending spiritual and secular education in right measure. It is spiritual education alone that can liberate a society from all evils, he added. He ended his talk, briefly mentioning about the white paper that was to be released by Bhagawan on ‘Spirituality in Education based on Harmony of Religions’ The Paper would be presented to eminent luminaries in the field of education in India, and to the Government of India as well, he shared.
After the hosts recapitulated the highlights of the white paper, Bhagawan then formally released the white paper that was compiled by the Education Committee of the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Trust. This was followed by a short video documentary of ‘Education for Transformation’. The video pointed out the innate flaws in man today, who is filled with a strong desire to get educated to earn money, rather than to live a purposeful life. The relevance of Sri Sathya Sai Baba as a Messiah of the age to bring about a spiritual revolution in the world by setting up unique values-based educational institutions in India was made clear in the video. The work of another visionary in the field of education – Sri Madiyal Narayan Bhat who was inspired by Bhagawan Baba was also showcased in the video. The story of how the hard work of Madiyal Narayan Bhat fructified into a chain of free values-based educational institutions with the blessings of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba touched many hearts. The documentary also covered in detail the continuing legacy of Sri Sathya Sai Baba in the Subtle form, the various educational institutions established by Him and the holistic model of education followed by these institutions.
Sri Sri Nirmalanandanatha Swamiji then addressed the audience. A staunch follower of the Indian philosopher and theologian Sri Adi Shankaracharya and his philosophy of Adwaita, he spoke energetically about the fallacies in modern educational systems, and highlighted the ever-growing importance of spirituality as the basis for true education. “It is important to study the modern science with the help of ancient wisdom of the yore. Science is not different from spirituality, and it is only this realization that the young children in the country need to keep in mind while pursuing true education”. At Bhagawan’s behest, he spoke about his relationship with Bhagawan and his Guru Sri Sri Balagangadarnath Swamiji. Recollecting the moments spent with Bhagawan and his Guruji, who had established over 450 educational institutions across the country) he shared how his guru too took on the subtle form to carry on his legacy.
Bhagawan, in His divine discourse, spoke about what was true education. The word vidya has two letters – vi and dya. ‘Vid’ means to know, ‘ya’ means that. True education is to know ‘that’. When you ask the question, what is ‘that’: that is the principle of Truth. The ultimate goal of education, or vidya is to know that Truth, which is eternal, permanent, steady and changeless. Body and mind are ever changing; therefore, they cannot be the Truth, He said.
“There is only one atma – which is eternal and permanent. There is only one atma, which pervades every creature. To know this eternal truth is the ultimate goal of education and an important part of education. There is nothing wrong in learning material education because we are a part of the material world and have to continue to live in this material world. But to learn only material education, thinking that that is the ultimate truth, cannot be called true vidya; it is avidya or ignorance.”
He then implored the gathering to work together for the greater good of the society. “The five fingers on your hand may look different, but when they get together we can do anything. Anything is possible. Similarly, everyone should get together – all similar institutions should get together and work towards the betterment of the society.”
After a short break, the keynote speakers were asked to speak to the audience. Sri H N Dastur addressed the gathering. His association with the Founder President of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Sri K M Munshi (a renowned scholar, freedom fighter, national figure) goes back to the inception of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, he shared. Confessing that he was the odd man out of all the speakers present on the dais, since he was neither a philosopher nor a spiritual expert, he said as an educationalist he felt it was high time to inculcate cultural values in children – with parents and teachers taking equal responsibility for the same. “The degradation of cultural values and morals with the rise in globalization was one of the worrying trends in the country. However, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan had taken several measures to inculcate cultural values into the minds of the students.”
He urged the young men and women to embark on an educational journey that would raise the nation’s consciousness, quoting the life of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, who believed that the spiritual values are the same in all religions, and that the same divinity resides in all. ‘One in all, All in One’. To realise the complete truth of Vasudaiva Kutumbakam, one should even break the barrier called nationality, he added.
He also spoke on the importance on keeping a ceiling on desires. Reflecting on his association with Sri Rajagopalachari (Rajaji as widely known in India), he said that Rajaji used to often mention about respecting all professions and labour equally, which would result in cultural and social evolution. He ended his talk, highlighting the importance of detachment and being with God, which is the only truth in the world.
The second speaker in the post-break session was Swami Muktidananda. He recollected his association with Bhagawan Baba since the 1960s, and also spoke about Sri Madiyal Narayan Bhat and the Satsangs he had attended along with Sri Narasimha Murthy during those years.
He explained that any form of –ism cannot stop any individual or system from realising one’s natural, theological and true self. “Spirituality means search about our own objective and subjective truth. All religions ultimately take to a common destination.”
“We cannot douse fire with fire. Violence and dogmatism cannot be countered by violence and dogmatism. It is only love and divine spiritual power, which would conquer the negative power” he added.
“In order to dispel the darkness of ignorance, we need to undertake spiritual sadhana. The spiritual core of every religion should be embraced and accepted. It is like how the various disciplines in the field of science – physics, chemistry, biology, etc. – are all required for completing a course. Similarly, spirituality is a course wherein the various disciplines are represented by the various religions. But one needs to accept them all, and embrace them all to reach the same destination.”
The last speaker for the morning was Sri Gururaj Karajagi. Speaking in the importance of having human values in education, he said that values cannot be taught. They have to be demonstrated. “A person who lives for himself will be forgotten by the world. A person who lives for others will be remembered by the world, which is why none of us know our own great grand father’s name!”
Quoting Swami Vivekananda that every human is potentially divine, he recollected his experience in Gujarat with his friend Dr Sailesh Mehta. He spoke about how a few years ago, following a turn of events his doctor friend, who had always believed in his own skills and knowledge more than anything else had suddenly surrendered to God to save a child’s life. From that day on, he started believing in the existence of God, he confessed. “God is not to be seen, but just to be experienced.” Individual faith becomes a collective faith, he explained, giving the example of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, who tried and tested many such collective faiths and realized that all the paths lead to the same destination.
Towards the end of his talk, Bhagawan revealed that the child whom the doctor had saved was a devotee of Bhagawan.
The morning’s proceedings came to an end with Sarva Dharma prayer.