'What Sri Sathya Sai taught me' - By Dr. S. Siva Sankara Sai

Dr. Siva Sankara Sai receiving his PhD from Sri Sathya Sai, Revered Founder Chancellor, SSSIHL, on November 22, 1989

Our Lord Sai is an eternal teacher. He is praised as “Gurunaam Guru”, the teacher of teachers. He teaches, moulds, guards and guides all of us every moment. We only need to tune ourselves to receive these lessons and teachings from Him. For some of us who stay at Prasanthi Nilayam and see Him daily, His Maya deludes us and we miss the Divine lessons He is teaching through His own example.
One of the most important lessons which I have learnt at His lotus feet is not to waste time. He never wastes a single moment of His precious time. It is said that water that flows under the bridge and the time that passes away can never be retrieved. Bhagavan not only utilizes every moment of His time but packs many things in every minute. Take the example of Darshan time. In the ten minutes or so of Darshan time, He interacts, inspires, admonishes and encourages many people through a word here, a word there, a smile here and a glare there. He radiates love and transforms a number of hearts during that brief period. He is a perfect time manager. On every birthday festival we see Him giving clothes, Padanamaskar and Prasad to many people. At such times, we often see the volunteers and those who are carrying clothes for Him unable to keep pace with Him in either giving or in walking.

Dr. Siva Sankara Sai interacting with Sri Sathya Sai in the Prasanthi Nilayam Mandir
Paying attention to details is another unique aspect of this Avatar. He takes meticulous care about all details in every small endeavor. He often takes pleasure and care in enquiring about the food prepared for students in the hostel. He chides us even if one of the items is not up to standard. On a particular Thursday, our hostel mess in-charge and I were very happy with ourselves for having given during that lunch session, big and attractive mangoes to all the students, instead of the routine Thursday sweet. We were praying fervently that Swami should enquire us about that day’s menu. All knowing as He is, He did ask about the menu and about the special sweet. We told Him jubilantly that we had given mangoes. His immediate question was about its cost. We replied that on an average each mango would cost three rupees. He then admonished us for purchasing those mangoes when sweets could be made in the hostel for a lesser cost. We tried to be smart and told that mangoes were very big and tried to show the size of the mango with our hands. He listened and quipped that “If the mango is so large in size, the seed inside would be equally big, so you need not boast having given big mangoes.” He tells us to be alert and pay maximum attention to small details, so that we may not go wrong in bigger matters.
Even though He is innately aware of His Divine nature, He is intensely human in His approach. His zest for life and His humor enlivens the atmosphere. Wherever He is, we see and hear peals of laughter and joyous ‘ums’ and nods from the devotees surrounding Him.
His charming nature and sharp wit make us all feel younger in His presence. He splits every word and gives a new meaning. On one occasion, we went to Bhagavan seeking His advice for a dramatic performance. He enquired the cause of our coming to Mandir, for which I replied, “Swami, please fix the characters for the drama.” He asked again, “What?” Thinking that I spoke too softly I repeated loudly “Please fix the characters Swami.” He immediately retorted, “No, ‘Characters’ cannot be fixed like appendages. They should be developed naturally with effort.” I was taken aback at this revelation.
Dr. Siva Sankara Sai as Warden of the Boys Hostel at Prasanthi Nilayam following Sri Sathya Sai during His visit to the Hostel in March 2003

Yet another lesson I have learnt (and am still learning!) at His Feet is that we should never separate secular and spiritual life. He emphatically tells us to spiritualize everything by our own practice of mind control. In fact, the very purpose of Sai education itself is to integrate secular learning with spirituality and morality. In order to please Bhagavan, on one occasion, a group of students undertook Akhand Bhajan during the night. On the next day He corrected all those students (and the warden for allowing them to do so!) and said, “You have classes on the next day, if you don’t sleep during the whole night how will you attend the classes? Do you think your class work is not spiritual?” It is our attitude which should be changed and not necessarily the act. He declares that if one corrects one’s Drushti (looks or attitudes) then one perceives the whole Srushti (creation) as Divine. He even gives us the advice that whenever we take bath we should feel that we are doing Abhishekam to the very Lord inside, because the body itself is a moving temple!
Above all, I have experienced, in my own humble way that He is the loving God who takes care of us, whether we consciously are aware of this fact or not. It was the time when I was doing my doctoral study. For some reason, Bhagavan was pained by the behavior of senior students including research scholars. He completely avoided talking to us. He often puts us through this test, so that, we may introspect, find our mistakes and correct them. During that time, my mother was suffering from cancer and doctors pronounced that an operation was definitely required. My father did not want to take any decision without explicit blessings and consent of Swami. He told me to pray and get His blessings and Prasadam. I wrote many letters, and tried my best to plead, but nothing happened. He simply did not respond or even look at me. I was thoroughly disappointed, and told my father about my unsuccessful efforts and my inability to secure blessings for my mother. He did not lose hope and told me to continue praying, which I did mentally, without making any physical effort of asking Him. Two days later, after the evening interview Bhagavan went round the devotees for the second time and saw my father stretching his hands to give a letter to Him. He asked “How is the health?” Presuming that Swami was referring about his health, my father replied, “OK, Swami”. Then Swami said, “Not yours, his mother’s health.” This time my father understood Swami’s question and told Him about the doctor’s advice that an operation was required. He immediately gave permission and said, “Yes, go ahead with the operation, nothing to worry. Everything will be alright.” On hearing this we were all very happy. True to His assurance, my mother felt His presence during the operation, in the operation theatre (at Madras). She distinctly remembered Swami walking away from her as she was recovering from anesthesia and came to the conscious state. Needless to say, presently she is no longer a cancer patient. So, however Bhagavan might ignore us He still takes care of us directly and indirectly in His own Divine way. Let us all remember that we are contemporaries to this loving Lord who is the greatest of Gurus, who teaches us practical spirituality. Let us enjoy our living with Him, for living with God, is in itself, a great education.

- Dr. S. Siva Sankara Sai
Student and Research Scholar (1982-1989), Department of Physics
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Prasanthi Nilayam Campus
Former Warden, Sri Sathya Sai Senior Boys Hostel
Currently, Head, Department of Physics 
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Prasanthi Nilayam Campus

Source: Sai Nandana 1995 (70th Birthday Issue)


  1. What a Wonderful article. It teaches us how to bring true spirituality in our daily life in very easy way. Also it teaches us never to lose faith in Him, He will definitely respond in His way at His time. thanks

  2. Jai Sairam. Vat to comment .. v too enjoying d bliss u had .... nicely explained... thank u Sairam.

  3. One of the finest and loving human beings you will find in the university. Ever cheerful and ever willing to help everyone around. Siva Shankar sai garu is His true instrument indeed. Our respects to him



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