Summer Course in Indian Culture & Spirituality
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Born in this land of Karma, Yoga and Tyaga, students should understand and cherish its cultural heritage. Their ignorance of this culture is due to the absence of teachers and parents who could convey the elements of this culture to the students. During the Summer Course, you have to learn how to harmonise this ancient culture with the needs of the modern world and to lead lives governed by truth and righteousness. Position or power is not important. They are transient. One should not be proud about wealth, progeny or youthful vigour. All of them may go in a moment. Adolescence is a precious period in one's life. It should be rightly used. Remember that Bharatiya culture transcends the limitations of time, space and circumstance. Endeavour to know its unique greatness.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Summer Course in Indian Culture & Spirituality, 20 May 1990
The Summer Course in Indian Culture & Spirituality marks the beginning of every student’s journey at Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. Blessed by Bhagawan Baba in the current format of three days, this induction programme, in the beginning of each academic year, exposes students of the university to the rich cultural and spiritual heritage of Bharat. Moreover, it orients students into Bhagawan Baba’s educational philosophy and gives them deep, first hand insights into how they can directly benefit from this unique institution.
The Format
Each day is typically split into the morning, afternoon and evening sessions.
The morning sessions consist of talks by teachers and research scholars of the university. Typically, they entail key insights and lessons from the ancient Indian scriptures, spiritual personalities and concepts. The sessions also feature a short video show on Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
In the afternoons, students and teachers from all four campuses have breakout sessions where they discuss teachings and lessons from Bhagawan Baba’s discourses. This year, the main themes were From Ignorance to Liberation and Seek the Company of Good People Bhagawan Baba’s discourses during the Summer Course in Indian Culture & Spirituality 1973. Key moral messages and lessons from these are creatively presented on the final day before the valediction.
The evening sessions on the first two days of the event consist of a music programme by students of individual campuses, along with veda chanting and bhajans at the Sai Kulwant Hall.
Perhaps the highlight of the day for students are the post-dinner Parayanam sessions. They consist of 2-3 talks by alumni or teachers of the Institute who share personal experiences with Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and the profound impact they have had in shaping their lives. The valuable and profound life lessons and the sheer love that Baba had for His students and devotees is vividly communicated through these intimate sessions.

Summer Course in Indian Culture & Spirituality 2016 - A Report

17-19 June 2016 | Prasanthi Nilayam
The event in 2016 took place from 17th June to 19th June 2016 at Prasanthi Nilayam. Over 2500 students, 200 teachers and 75 research scholars of all the four campuses of the university, as well as Sathya Sai Mirpuri College of Music, Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School, Prasanthi Nilayam (Class XI and Class XII) and Sri Sathya Sai Gurukulam English Medium School, Rajahmundry participated. Given below is a brief daily report of the entire event.

 
 
Day 1 – Friday, 17 June 2016

Following the invocatory Vedam Chanting, the event at the Poornachandra auditorium, Prasanthi Nilayam commenced at 8:30 a.m. with a welcome note by Prof. (Miss) Madhu Kapani, Dean, Faculty of Humanities & Economics; and Director, Anantapur Campus who reminded students that Bhagawan Baba wanted them to practice the values and principles of Bharatiya culture so they can be future leaders of tomorrow and architects who affect positive change in society. 

Prof. K B R Varma, Vice-Chancellor, SSSIHL then delivered the inaugural address. He said that the exceptional opportunity that all new students have in being exposed to true Indian culture here is unparalleled. He compared the induction programme in Indian culture and spirituality at SSSIHL to be in stark contrast to other universities elsewhere. He urged students to reflect on the past glory of Bharat and prompted them to develop noble thoughts as they lead to noble character and noble deeds in life. 

A brief video of Bhagawan Baba’s divine discourse was then broadcasted. Baba said that the entire world is built on social structure and that told students to traverse the path of truth, re-establish the glorious traditions of our country and be messengers of peace. 


 
 

This was followed by a forthright talk by an SSSIHL alumni, Sri Gopal Rao, Managing Director, Landmark Worldwide – India Operations, who stressed on the relevance of being a Sai student and the lifelong accountability that comes with it. His topic was on Self Confidence, which he described as an expression of our true nature. Just as there is no imperfect tree, there is no imperfect love and that we must nurture ourselves to be who we truly are. This is the way to build self-esteem, he said. He touched upon several life experiences in the real world and highlighted that it is possible to live with total integrity in a seemingly corrupt world. He said that the best definition of culture he got from Bhagawan Baba was that culture is care and concern for others

The morning session ended with a lively quiz titled A Rainbow of Sai Wisdom. Students from the university and school participated in the quiz that included seven rounds.

The evening session in Sai Kulwant Hall consisted of three speeches by students and faculty of the university. They wonderfully expounded the central theme of inwardness that Indian culture exemplifies through the topics that included Lessons from Ramayana, SAI – See Always Inside and Sri Adi Sankaracharya: His Life and Ideas.

Following bhajans and prasadam distribution, the first day of the event concluded at 6:30 p.m.


 
 
Day 2 – Saturday, 18 June 2015
The second day of the Summer Course in Indian Culture & Spirituality, after the invocatory Vedam Chanting, started at 8:30 a.m. with a session on Living with God is True Education. Teachers and scholars recollected the beautiful memories and lessons learnt at the feet of Bhagawan Baba when he blessed a drama—Bhaja Govindam—to be enacted ten times during various occasions. These included the fact that feelings are more important than the paraphernalia, Swami did not select the qualified, He qualified the selected and Sai's philosophy is not about running away from the world. It is about discovering the immanence of the Creator in the world.
A presentation on Bhaja Govindam by students of Muddenahalli, Anantapur and Brindavan Campuses; and Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School (Boys) then highlighted life lessons such as Man is born to learn, not to be born again, Nothing lasts forever, Realize your true inner reality & identity, Enjoy every moment and the The only way to be desireless, is to desire for GOD.
The last session before lunch was a talk on the Mind and its Mysteries by H H Sri Sri Sri Jayendra Puri Mahaswamiji, Sri Kailash Ashram Mahasamsthana and Sri Raja Rajeshwari Devasthana, Bangalore. Swamiji highlighted that thinking, unlike taking action, requires no effort. Thoughts are free, they keep on coming like waves in the ocean. He told students that worry arrests over 99% of the world and that most of us are privy to some sort of fear, such as that of disease, old age, intelligence, etc. and that the only notion that doesn’t have fear is the notion of vairāgya (dispassionate renunciation). He said that the mind is the cause of both bondage and liberation. The world appears to catch us but it is we who are caught and bound ourselves. He concluded by saying that If we make up our minds, we can change anything in the world. The mind has to regulate the food that goes into the senses.

 
 
During the evening session in Sai Kulwant Hall, two students elaborated on insights on the Srimad Bhagavatam and on Love, the spiritual element of Indian culture. They touched upon on the process of transformation by using analogies from the scriptures and Bhagawan Baba’s teachings. The first student elaborated on Ekagrata bhakti or single-pointed devotion and how it leads to detachment and the notion of how God the formless takes a form as an Avatar. The second student spoke on how to evoke pure love for the divine. He said that the three attributes of this love—as supposed to worldly love—are that it is selfless, assuaging and invigorating.

The second day of the event concluded at 6:30 p.m. with devotional songs, bhajans followed by prasadam distribution.


 
 
Day 3 – Sunday, 19 June 2016
The first item on the final day’s agenda was a Panel Discussion entitled ‘Love All Serve All.’ The discussion weaved together the divine and loving experiences they had in the immediate presence of Bhagawn Baba, and how it has positively impacted them, their world view and the ultimate purpose of their lives.    

This was followed by a high quality musical performance entitled, BHava, RAaga, TAala – An Appreciation of Indian Classical Music by the students of Sathya Sai Mirpuri College of Music.

Faculty who joined the university in the previous academic year were then introduced to the audience by the Registrar, Dr. Naren Ramji. He then felicitated the outgoing Finance Officer of SSSIHL, Sri Ratilal Pala for his outstanding honorary contribution of 33 years to the university. Sri Pala continues to work at the age of 80. 

The Summer Course concluded by a valedictory talk delivered by Dr. Gowrishankar R, Head, Dept. of Physics, SSSIHL. He reminded all students and teachers of the real purpose of coming to Prasanthi Nilyam and suggested we pause and reflect on all that Bhagawan Baba has given us all.
Following Arati and a specially arranged lunch, all participants returned to their respective campuses and institutions.

 
 
Education must enthuse youth to understand the precious heritage of Indian culture and spirituality, and to evoke the higher powers they possess. Though there are perennial sources and springs of strength within them, they behave like weaklings and ignoramuses. Patience, tolerance, tranquillity and calmness have to be implanted in the heart.
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
© Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Vidyagiri, Prasanthi Nilayam - 515 134, India.