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Report & Photos: The 25th Annual Convocation of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
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Report: The 25th Annual Convocation of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning

The 25th Annual Convocation of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, a deemed university was held on the 22nd November 2006, in a glittering ceremony that had its grandeur, richly deserved for the yeomen service it has been rendering in the field of education for a quarter century. This prestigious institution that is undoubtedly ‘the one’ of its kind that has won attention and accolades for simple reason that it promotes value education with spiritual orientation helping in engendering students whom Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba prefers to address as future ambassadors, has thousands of such students in its alumni list who are engaged in relentless service activities in different part of the world, following the invaluable inputs that they received before leaving the portals of this great institution.

Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning was instituted in the year 1981 to provide value based education, absolutely free of cost and has the unique distinction of being one of the very few institutions that impart emphasis on total value based education. Besides education, the students are taught human values, morality and spirituality with the five cardinal human values of Sathya, Dharma, Shanti, Prema and Ahimsa being the backbone of all teachings. The Institution has three campuses, a Women’s Campus in Anantapur set up in the year 1968, Men’s Campus at Brindavan in Whitefield, Bangalore set up in 1969 and the Men’s Campus at Prasanthi Nilayam set up in 1981. This institution has the unique distinction of being accorded Double Plus Level Higher Rating (Highest Grade) certification by the National Accreditation and Assessment Council.

The 25th Annual Convocation was a unique event for the simple reason that unlike yester years this time the convocation was held in the newly constructed Sri Sathya Sai International Centre for Sports, an indoor stadium of International standard that was completed in a record four months time and inaugurated on this eventful day by the first citizen of India, His Excellency President of India, Dr.A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

The proceeding for this afternoon began with the arrival of Bhagawan at the venue, Sri Sathya Sai International Centre for Sports at 3:30 p.m. along with the Chief Guest for the occasion, the President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to the accompaniment of an invocation song.  Just before entering the stadium, Dr. Abdul Kalam inaugurated the Commemorative Hall that houses depictions of salient features of 25 glorious years of existence of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning.  Bhagawan and the Chief Guest chose to go for a full round of the stadium in the golf-cart and were greeted by thousands of devotees gathered, joined by students from Sri Sathya Sai Institutions, World Champion Gymnasts from Greece, national Volleyball teams from India Sri Lanka, national Basketball teams from India and Indonesia alongwith sporting legends of India, Former All-rounder and India’s lone World-cup Winning Cricket Captain, Kapil Dev Nikhanj, Prakash Padukone, former All-England Champion and big name synonymous with Shuttle Badminton, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, India’s lone Individual Silver Medalist in an Olympic Games.

As Bhagawan reached the dais, the National Anthem was played by the Institute Band. Prof. A.V. Lakshminarasimhmam, the Registrar of the Institute garlanded His Excellency Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and the Vice Chancellor offered a bouquet to the Chancellor of the Institute.  Other dignitaries who were present on the dais were Sri Rameswar Thakur, His Excellency, the Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Sri T.N. Chaturvedi, His Excellency, the Governor of Karnataka, Sri Vilasrao Deshmukh, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra.  Greeting all assembled at the stadium, Sri Sanjay Sahni, Principal of Brindavan Campus of SSSIHL, expressed gratitude to Bhagawan for the marvellous, wonderful and world-class indoor stadium Bhagawan has gifted to the student community out of immense love. It is Bhagawan’s Vajra Sankalpa (adamantine resolve) which has made this stadium a reality, said Mr. Sahni.  

Sri A.V. Gokak, the Vice Chancellor of SSSIHL profusely thanked Dr. Ram Setty and Mrs. Usha Setty for their generous contribution which has made this dream project a reality. Dr. Ram Setty is a cardiologist by profession and has been practicing medicine for the last 20 years in the U.S. Dr.  Ram Setty has donated an amount of Rs. 40 crores for the construction of this stadium.

Offering his reverential Pranams at the Lotus Feet of Bhagawan, Dr. Ram Setty expressed his gratitude to Bhagawan for being blessed to play a small part in His Divine Mission. He said: the Divine Grace of Bhagawan showered on his family is beyond expression. Quoting the real life example of his own son, as an ideal reference to total surrender to His Divine Will at a young age, Dr. Setty narrated how his son, a medical professional based in the U.S. surrendered himself to Bhagawan and His Will. A young doctor who aspired to pursue Paediatrics, but was advised by Bhagawan, to opt for Paediatrics with Cardiac Surgery had no hesitation in shelving his personal interest to follow the advice given by Bhagawan. Bhagawan also had advised him to go to Melbourne, Australia to pursue his higher studies in one of the most reputed institutions in the world. The young doctor is now aiming to finish his course on Paediatric Surgery to come and serve Bhagawan. Dr. Ram Setty ended his inspiring, touchy speech praying that he and his family want to dedicate their lives by serving Bhagawan till their last breath.

After Dr. Ram Setty’s speech, Kapil Dev offered a bouquet to Bhagawan followed by Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, a bouquet to Dr. Abdul Kalam.  Sharing his thoughts with the younger generation, Kapil Dev, the Wisden Cricketer of the Century and India’s greatest ever all-rounder said: “as a sportsman, I have only a few words. What I see here is a paradise for any sportsman.” He assured the audience that with such facilities being provided, sportspersons will win medals for our country to make the nation proud.
Life is a game, play it and it has to be played with rules. What followed was a short video presentation on the Divine Mission. The film ended with a profound statement that God is the divine referee who has taught us to play the game well.

It was sports next… a wonderful display of acrobatic show by the gymnasts of world class from the Mecca of Olympics, Greece and Switzerland. Tabakos Dimosthenis from greece who is a World Champion Gold Medalist, European Champion Gold Medalist and Olympic Champion Gold Medallist began the proceedings with and adroit performance on the Roman Rings followed by Flario Fankoni from Switzerland. Domenico Rosi, coach of Switzerland junior National Team and Greek Champion Vagilis Kolozakis perfomed on the Tarpaulin. They where followed by World Championship Gold Medallists, Pagalov Maria and Georgatov Maria performed Rythmic Gymnastics. Flario Fankoni then returned to give an exibition of Floor Exercises. The program concluded with another display on the Roman Rings by Tabakos Dimosthenis. For these devoted gymnasts, it was indeed a great day, a day of fulfilment of a Divine Assurance…In 1995, these gymnasts had prayed to Bhagawan for an opportunity to perform in His Divine Presence and Bhagawan had assured them that He would grant them an opportunity.

Next to follow was an International Volleyball Match between India led by K.J. Kapil Dev and Sri Lanka led by P.G.Morris Chaminda as a part of the ongoing five match series. The first match played at Bangalore was won by India. The Indians won the match convincingly in straight two sets.

The convocation proceedings began with the invocatory chants paying respects to mother, father, guest, preceptor and God. Then Bhagawan, the Chancellor of the University declared the Convocation open. Sri Anil Vinayak Gokak, the Vice Chancellor began his speech by extending a warm welcome to one and all.  Quoting Bhagawan’s famous dictum, End of Education is Character, Dr. Gokak said, “our system of education provides for the integral development of the human personality, and aims at tapping the divine potential within the student”. Pointing out expressing concern over the rise in the incidence of violence all the world over, Dr. Gokak further stressed on the importance of inculcating human values and emphasized on the greater significance of Bhagawan’s Educare Programme. 

The next speaker was the Chief Guest of the Convocation, His Excellency, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Paying obeisance and glowing tributes to Bhagawan, Dr. Kalam recited a poem he has composed during his flight journey to Puttaparthi.

The poem titled EARTH SHINING IN GLORY runs as:
Our milky way is shining with millions and millions of stars;
Our beloved star sun along with eight other planets around orbits the milky way,
finishes one orbit in 215 million years,
Someone in the galaxy suddenly echoed a voice in surprise,
The voice was: “See there the earth shining in glory, how come it got light?
A sweet and soft reply comes,
It is not the mere light, it is the light of knowledge, it is the light of service, it is the light of peace,
specially radiating from Prasanthi Nilayam,
When earth completes its eightieth orbit
carrying the great soul in its bosom

Lavishly praising the students of the Institute, culling out a reference from the Bhagavad Gita where Lord Krishna saying Arjuna, "See the flower, how generously it distributes perfume and honey. It gives to all, gives freely its essence. When its work is done, it falls away quietly. Try to be like the flower, unassuming despite all its qualities", Dr. Kalam certified that this characteristic is being imbibed and followed by every student of the institute in all areas of activities.

After Dr. Kalam’s speech, the candidates for the various degrees were presented to the Chancellor. Then the Institute Pledge was read by the Vice Chancellor and repeated by the candidates who were admitted to the various degrees: “I hereby solemnly declare and promise that if admitted to the degrees which I duly recommend, I will in my daily life and conversation conduct myself as a member of S.S.S.I.H.L. and support the cause of sound learning.” The candidates who were awarded gold medals then collected the gold medals from the Chancellor. A student who excels in studies, games and has a sound character, is given the all-rounder gold medal every year by Bhagawan. This medal is instituted by Sri S.V. Giri, former Vice Chancellor of the Institute. Sri Ranjan Sharma, a student of M.Sc. Chemistry hailing from Himachal Pradesh was the recipient of this year’s all-rounder gold medal. After this, students who had excelled in their respective disciplines were presented gold medals.

They are as follows:
The President of India Dr.A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Gold Medal: Sri Srikanth Khanna for Distinction in M.Tech. (Computer Science), Prof. S. Sampath Gold Medal: Sri D.Hanumantha Rao Naidu for Distinction in M.Tech. (Computer Science), Prof. S. Sampath Gold Medal: Sri D.Hanumantha Rao Naidu for Distinction in M.Tech. (Computer Science), Sri Burgula Ramakrishna Rao Gold Medal: Sri Shashank Shah for Distinction in M.Phil, The President of India Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma Gold Medal: Sri Sandeep Mohan for Distinction in M.B.A., Dr.K.Hanumanthappa Gold Medal: Sri Vipin Bhaskar.M for Distinction in M.B.A. (Finance), Dr. G.Venkataraman Gold Medal: Sri Deepak Venkatesh Varan for Distinction in M.Sc.(Physics), Sri. Janaki Ramaiah Gold Medal : Sri Koduru Sai Charan for Distinction in M.Sc.(Mathematics),Kanika Pandit Memorial Gold Medal: Sri Jandhyala Bhuwan Mohan Viswanath for Distinction in M.A. (Economics), Justice P.N. Bhagawati Gold Medal: Sri Karri Venkata Satya Dileep for Distinction in B.Sc.(Hons.) Mathematics, Lt. Gen. S. P. Malhotra Gold Medal: Sri Vishal Khetan for Distinction in B.Sc. (Hons.) Chemistry, Sri Sanjay Chibber Gold Medal: Sri V.Vamsee Aditya Mallajosyula for Distinction in B.Sc.(Hons) Biosciences, Smt. Meera.S.Pai & Sri M.S.Pai Gold Medal: Sri Saicharan.A.S. for Distinction in B.A.(Hons.) Economics & B.Sc.(Hons) Economics, Prof. M. Radha Swamy Gold Medal: Sri Govind Mahtolia for Distinction in B.Com (Hons.), Rajah I.V.Murali Krishna Rao Gold Medal: Sri. Anoop.K.Suresh, for Distinction in B.A., Prof. N. Kasturi Gold Medal: Sri Sarat Kumar.N. for Distinction in Post Graduate Diploma In Indian Culture And Philosophy, Smt Rajkumari Balram Nichani Gold Medal: Kum. Lavanya Muddu for Distinction in M.Sc.(Biosciences), Dr.V.K. Gokak Gold Medal: Kum.Tina Thomas for Distinction in M.A (English. Lang. And Lit.), Sri T.K.K. Bhagawat Gold Medal: Kum Lakshmi Suneethasatti for Distinction in M.A. (Telugu. Lang. And Lit.), Prof.(Mrs) Jayalakshmi Gopinath Gold Medal: Kum. Ramakeerthi Gottapu for distinction in M.Sc.(Home Science), Dr. A. Adivi Reddy Gold Medal: Kum. Jaddu Ramya Vinusha, for Distinction in B.Sc.(Hons) Physics, Smt J. Eashwari Bai Gold Medal: Kum Srividhya.G for Distinction in B.Sc.(Hons) Zoology, Smt R. Sundari Kondala Rao, Gold Medal: Kum. Roopasri C. for Distinction in B.Sc.(Home Science), Dr.Somnath Saraf Gold Medal: Kum Vishakha Pathak for Distinction in B.Ed. After the awarding of gold medals, the Vice Chancellor prayed to Bhagawan to deliver His Benedictory Address.

Bhagawan began His Discourse by addressing the students, teachers and the devotees as embodiments of love. Addressing the present day concern of lack of interest in knowing the true meaning of education, Bhagawan said: we have gone through many textbooks and many disciplines of knowledge, but they are all to do with the materialistic world and not with spirituality. No one is attempting the meaning of true education. By going through textbooks, one cannot call oneself educated. To begin with one learns the alphabets, then words. Just by learning letters, one cannot call oneself literate.

Excerpts from the Divine Discourse:
Once King Krishnadevaraya addressed an assembly of poets. He threw an open challenge to the poets that the person who would be able to convey the same meaning of five different letters in five different languages would be given bounteous gifts. Tenali Ramakrishna pleaded with the king to permit him to answer the question. He also told the king to permit him to stay in the same village since it would be difficult for him to go to his village. He stayed at the house of his brother-in-law. He told his brother-in-law that since he liked cows, he wanted to sleep near the cow shed. Though he was lying down, he could not sleep. His brother-in-law too had immense love for cows. It was midnight time and the cow was delivering a calf. His brother-in-law asked “Ye, Aav, Ra, Bha Va”. Tenali Ramakrishna went to the king and told him that he had found answer to the question. He said that Ye in Marathi meant come, Aav in Hindi meant come, Ra in Telugu meant come, Bha in Kannada meant come and Va in Tamil meant come. All these five letters convey the same meaning.

Bhagawan reiterated that one should study that which makes him immortal. He also stressed the importance of propagating and practicing the five human values of Sathya (truth), Dharma (righteousness), Santhi (peace), Prema (love) and Ahimsa (non-violence. These five human values have to be practised right from childhood. The President mentioned many important things. You have to practise what he advised. It is practice which is essential. You may learn many things, but practise at least one or two. Only then you will become sanctified. Many ask Bhagawan, “Who are You?” and He replies, “I and you are one.” He ended His spirited Divine Discourse re-iterating His Divine Assurance advising the students to leave everything to God and He will take care of them.

Then there was a fusion music programme by the renowned Mandolin U. Srinivas and U. Rajesh with Anandan Sivamani, India’s most illustrious percussionist with Bhupathi on Mridangam.

The National Anthem was played marking the conclusion of the proceedings of the silver jubilee convocation of this temple of learning, which is unique in its rare role in shaping a new world order.


Photo source

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