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Published on Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 0137 Hrs. IST

Nov 22, 2010: The 29th Convocation of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning was held in Sai Kulwant Hall. The Chief Guest for the Convocation was Dr. Manmohan Singh, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India. Also present during the Convocation was Sri K. Rosaiah, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Sri E.S.L. Narasimhan, Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Sri Y.S. Yeddyurappa, Chief Minister of Karnataka, Sri Shivraj Patil, Governor of Punjab and Administrator, Union Territory of Chandigarh, Sri M.K. Stalin, Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Sri Sushil Kumar Shinde, Union Minister for Power, Sri Ashok Chavan, former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Dr. Ratan Tata, Chairman of Tata Sons, Sri N. Chandrasekaran, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Tata Consultancy Services.

The Convocation procession started at 1110 hrs. from Yajur Mandiram. The Institute Brass Band led the procession playing sonorous tunes. Bhagawan came to the Hall in a resplendent crimson-hued robe followed by Dr. Manmohan Singh, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Governor of Andhra Pradesh, and members of the Academic Council. A student carried the Sceptre on one side while the Registrar carried the Ceremonial Mace. After the procession reached the dais, the Vice Chancellor of the Institute Dr. Shashidhara Prasad garlanded the Prime Minister. Then followed the ceremonial Vedic chants for the Convocation that one should revere the mother, father, preceptor and guest as God. On the request of the Vice Chancellor, the Chancellor of the Institute, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba declared the Convocation open and pressed the button to unveil the plaque of 29th Convocation of the Institute. On the dais along with Bhagawan and the Prime Minister were seated the Governor and Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. On the other side facing the dais were seated the members of the Academic Council.

At the outset the Vice Chancellor of the Institute extended a cordial welcome to all to the Convocation of SSSIHL. He said that the Institute has been established not to develop students to earn degrees but to nurture students to cultivate self-confidence and self-sacrifice. He then introduced the Chief Guest of the Convocation Dr. Manmohan Singh. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was born on 26th September 1932 in a village in the Punjab province of undivided India. Dr. Singh completed his Matriculation examinations from the Punjab University in 1948.  His academic career took him from Punjab to the University of Cambridge, U.K., where he earned a First Class Honours degree in Economics in 1957.  Dr. Singh followed this with a D. Phil in Economics from Nuffield College at Oxford University in 1962. The Vice Chancellor described the Prime Minister as the most qualified leader of the country. He is the best example of simple living and high thinking. He said that we are privileged to have him in spite of the busy Parliament sessions. The Vice Chancellor opined that the former students of the Institute have received accolades from employers of various companies. 16% of PG students who have appeared for the examination have cleared GATE annually (on an average) over the past five years. With Bhagawan’s blessings research work is going to be undertaken to help the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences and the General Hospitals.

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The Institute Oath was then administered to the students by the Vice Chancellor: “I hereby solemnly declare and promise that if admitted to the degree duly recommended I will in my thought, word and deed…support the cause of sound learning, morality and spirituality…all round welfare of my countrymen and fellowmen. The gold medals to various degrees were presented to the students by the Chancellor. Sri Sathya Sai All Rounder Gold Medal instituted by Sri S.V. Giri, former Vice Chancellor of the Institute was given to Sai Prabhakar who had consistent conduct and behaviour, with excellent performance in academics, sports and service activities. The gold medals to various undergraduate and postgraduate degrees were then presented. There were a number of doctorates from the various departments of the Institute. Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry was awarded to Kum. Rajini Bhandari who completed the doctorate under the guidance of Prof. Chelli Janardhan. From the Department of Physics Kum. Deepa Sethuraman was awarded the Doctorate of Philosophy. She did her thesis under the guidance of Prof. K. Venkataramanaiah. From the men’s campus, Doctorate of Philosophy was awarded to J. Krishna Kumar (Department of Chemistry). He completed his thesis under the guidance of Prof. Chelli Janardhan. Jagdish Chandra (Department of Physics) was awarded the Doctorate of Philosophy. He completed his doctorate successfully under the guidance of Dr. S. Siva Sankar Sai. V. Sai Muthu Kumar who did his thesis under the guidance of Prof. Venkataramanaiah and Dr. Siva Sankar Sai was awarded the Doctorate of Philosophy from the Physics department. Rajesh Babu, who had completed his doctorate from the Department of Chemistry under the guidance of Dr. G. Nageswara Rao was the penultimate candidate to be awarded the Doctorate of Philosophy. Sri Shashank Shah had his doctorate from the department of School of Business Management Accounting and finance under the guidance of Sri Sudhir Bhaskar, the dean of the department.

The Hon’ble Chief Guest Dr. Manmohan Singh then delivered his Convocation Address. Dr. Manmohan Singh began his address by paying his salutations to the revered Chancellor Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, His Excellency, the Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Sri E.S.L. Narasimhan, Sri K. Rosaiah, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Dr. Shashidhara Prasad, Vice Chancellor of the Institute, Members of the Governing Body and students of this illustrious Institution. He said that he deems it a great honour to be the Chief Guest of the 29th Convocation of the Institute which coincides with the 85th Birthday of Bhagawan. He prayed that Bhagawan would continue to be an inspiration for many years to come. Dr. Manmohan Singh recalled that he was the Chief Guest for the 14th Convocation of the Institute in the year 1995. Many changes have taken place over the years, he said. Dr. Manmohan Singh opined that the place has become an international township. People from all over the globe are residents here. I see in particular a microcosm of India, a nation which celebrates its diversity. Unity in diversity is one of the central messages of India. This is what makes this country unique. “Yours is a relatively young University, already established its place as a centre of excellence”, lauded the erudite Chief Guest. Dr. Singh then paraphrased the words of Baba: “This is not a place to earn degrees, but a place to cultivate self-sacrifice, self-knowledge leading to self-realisation”. The true meaning of education is knowledge in action, said Dr. Singh. Speaking on the hallmark of education, Dr. Singh said is to combine science with spirituality. Modern society has given better livelihood and quality of life. Accelerating social changes has put newer pressures. Today we cannot succeed without providing value-based education. Character building is universal in education. You are leaders in it, complimented Dr. Singh. As India grows in world affairs, we will need global leaders in education, in technological development. We are a nation of young people. We require people who can make young people excel. Our scientists and technicians have achieved great renown in many fields. Dr Manmohan Singh expressed that the institute is promoting research in various fields like Bio-sciences, Nano Technology, etc.; research in Humanities, Literature, Philosophy, Economics is equally required.

Dr. Manmohan Singh showered praises on the work being undertaken for the betterment of masses. 731 villages in drought-prone Anantapur district, 500 hamlets in East and West Godavari districts were provided pure drinking water. This achievement is all the more commendable because Godavari districts are naxal infested areas. He even made a mention on the yeoman service being undertaken by Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences in Puttaparthi and Whitefield, and the General Hospitals. Medical care through mobile medical vans at the doorstep of villagers was another achievement. Medical care, education, water is rendered totally free, said Dr. Singh. Such benevolence and philosophy should be an example for many, but are unable to emulate Your example. An education project is taken up wherein 3 lakh Bal Vikas children would receive Baba’s ideals is indeed a worthy project, opined Dr. Singh. Addressing the students, Dr. Manmohan Singh said, you are graduating today. I have no doubt you will face challenges, but you will come successful, I have no doubt. You have been exposed to fine minds, excellent libraries. Dr Singh advised the students that your life will not be complete if you do not reach out to those less unfortunate ones. Render help to them. God bless each and every one of you. With the Institute Brass Band rendering the National Anthem, the Convocation function came to a close at 1215 hrs.

After the function, Bhagawan went inside the interview room with Dr. Manmohan Singh. After a few minutes, Bhagawan and Dr. Manmohan Singh emerged from the interview room and came on the stage. What followed was the Divine Benedictory Message. The Academic Council members too came on the dais after some time. The gist of the Discourse follows.

I do not want to revert to what has been already said. What is behind all this grandeur here? It is the innate culture of Bharat that is reflected in this celebration.

People go to different pilgrim centres to see God. They are in quest of God. I tell you, Oh simpletons, you are God, God is within you, above you, below you and by the side of you. Do not consider Him to be separate from you. The very Self (Atma) is divine. Have this feeling ingrained in you. Right from a tiny tot to a grown up, from microcosm to macrocosm, God is present in everyone. If you have such feelings, you will be successful in life. Therefore, you should repeatedly think that God is not elsewhere. God is in your heart. The heart is the centre of God. You are God. You and God are one. God resides in the altar of your heart. There is no need to renounce the world. Remain in society with the awareness that God is within you. That is why it is said, Sahasra Seersha Purusha Sahasraksha Sahasra Pad (The Cosmic Being has thousands of heads, eyes and feet).

After being abducted by Ravana, it was only the power of her chastity which made Sita meet her husband Lord Rama. Mother Sita spent 10 months in Lanka. All the while she was thinking of Rama. She did not look at the face of anyone. She was even put to the test of fire, but she came out unscathed. Bharat is the land which gave birth to great women like Damayanti who reduced an evil-minded hunter to ashes by the power of chastity. This land also gave birth to Savitri who brought her dead husband back to life; Chandramati who extinguished wild fire with the power of truth. Can you show an example of a wife bringing her dead husband back to life? Have you seen such persons? She belongs to this land of Bharat. Today we do not find such women of chastity. Bhagawan referred to Draupadi who never said ‘no’ to her husbands. She was always willing to serve them. She was totally contented. If the husband and wife live in harmony, the whole country will progress. Because of disharmony between the husband and wife, there is no peace anywhere. If there is adjustment between them, there will be peace. If such a life is lived, there will be no chaos. I want all householders to live in harmony and peace. There is no penance beyond this adjustment. Harmony at home is most important. Then all the rest will follow. If there is peace and harmony at home, there will be no anxiety. The path shown by these illustrious women should become the guideline of your life.

If you adhere to discipline in life, you will live a long and healthy life. The pure heart is the temple of God. Take care that negative thoughts do not enter your heart. The mind should not become perverted. Unity is possible only through spirituality. I want students to develop the principle of unity. Do not be narrow-minded. Youth should develop good character. The end of education is character. With good character, you can achieve anything. If you act according to the dictates of the mind, how can you expect to realise God? In the name of meditation, you sit while the mind loiters in the market. You should not allow the mind to waver. Even if you are angry, do not fight. If you fight with someone, you are hurting yourself. Rectify your thoughts. That is what students should do. Educare is essential today. Along with formal education, educare is needed. Do not deviate from the path shown by Bhagawan. Be humble, do not be arrogant. When Rama was in search of Sita, they found some jewels. Rama asked Lakshmana to identify the jewels as to whether they were of Sita’s. Lakshmana was one of immaculate character. He had never seen the face of Sita. He had seen her toe rings since he used to touch her feet. One should live an ideal life like Lakshmana. But today this sort of exemplary character is not noticed.  

There is no unity at the national level. There is no unity, but instead there is enmity. Everyone should work for the unity of this land. In fact, in every field of public life, unity is required.

If one secures high percentage of marks, there will arise jealousy in others. Jealousy is the reason for all controversies. You may tell that you are a top ranker, but it is only written on a piece of paper. Your heart, integrity that makes you really great, not medals.  

All are the children of God. You should mingle with each other as brothers. This is the message of Bhagawan on this occasion of Convocation.

Arati was offered to Bhagawan at 1320 hrs. after which Bhagawan called Dr. Manmohan Singhfor an interview that lasted for half-an-hour. . At 1350 hrs. Bhagawan retired to the Yajur Mandiram.