Living with God is True Education - By Dr. Naren Ramji

Dr. Naren Ramji with the Revered Founder Chancellor

It is our unique privilege to be students of Bhagavan. He has chosen to personally teach and mould us into good human beings. It has been a process of continuous learning for me from the time I joined as a student of the MBA Programme on 21st August, 1986. Bhagawan in His own subtle way has never missed an opportunity to gently chide, correct and drive home a point, sensitizing us to aspects of behaviour, right conduct or method of work. I wish to share a few personal instances where Bhagavan drove home very valuable lessons. 

Swami – The Perfect Host

As a part of the MBA programme, we visited industries in Bangalore to get insights into the practical aspects of Management. Swami was in Whitefield at that time. After our Industrial visit, Swami in His Infinite Love, decided to take us all on an outing to visit the Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary and the Nagarhole Wildlife reserve. We started from Brindavan early morning and went to the Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary. We went to a nearby town for lunch where devotees had made arrangements. One of our teachers was fasting on that day and was therefore refraining from having lunch. Swami was walking round to see if every one was being served food and He came upon this teacher who was not having lunch. When Swami was apprised of the situation, He observed that fruits are allowed during a fast and sent someone to fetch them. He waited till the fruits came and ensured that the teacher was eating before He moved on. 

Sri Sathya Sai with Students in the Bus

After lunch we drove down to the Nagarhole Wildlfe Reserve. Swami got into the bus we were travelling in and we went round the reserve looking at the wildlife. We were supposed to stay at the forest bungalow in the night and leave the next morning. However, when we went to the forest bungalow, Swami felt that it would not be adequate to house all of us and decided to drive back to the town where we had eaten our lunch. We arrived at around 7 p.m. and the devotees were taken by surprise. They had to arrange dinner for Swami and His entourage at short notice. In order to give them time and save them from an embarrassing situation, Swami called all of us to sit round him and asked us to start Bhajans. The Bhajans went on till dinner was ready to be served.  

As there was not enough accommodation for all of us, it was decided that some of us will stay in a nearby guest house. It was around 9.30 p.m. and those of us who were to reside at the guest house were getting ready to leave, when suddenly we saw the headlights of Swami’s red Mercedes approach and we saw Swami drive by. We all wondered where Swami was going at this late hour and decided to wait for His return before proceeding to the guest house. After half an hour we saw Swami’s car return. Swami stopped the car and told us that He had gone to inspect the guest house to see if it would be comfortable for us. He asked us to proceed and have a good night’s rest. By His actions, Swami taught us how to be sensitive and empathetic to the people around us. As a perfect Host, He personally looked into our welfare and comfort. Swami could have asked any of the elders accompanying Him to do these tasks but He chose to do them Himself. 

Sri Sathya Sai with Students of the first MBA Batch of SSSIHL (1986-1988)

Teaching – The Positive Way

Swami exhibits great patience while making us learn. For many years, I have been associated with the production of the Drama performed on the day of the Convocation of the Institute. I recall how in the early days we used to take an inordinately long time to set the stage between scenes. It used to take us a lot of time to raise and lower the backdrops. I still remember we had a dedicated crew of around 20 boys who used to sit on top of the Shanti Vedika stage to manage the raising and lowering of backdrops. Swami presided over quite a few dramas without once pointing out our shortcomings. 

On one occasion, the Bal Vikas children from Madras were to perform a few days after one of the Convocation Dramas. The backdrops for this programme were managed by just two people using an innovative technique with three ropes which could be operated from the ground on one of the sides of the stage. They were able to change backdrops in less than 15 seconds. Swami still refrained from making any comparative comment after watching the performance backed by excellent stage management. The idea was so simple yet so effective. We caught onto it and decided to use it for the next Convocation Drama. Swami, in His kindness, gave us an opportunity much earlier than that to redeem our reputation. 

Around a month later, the Primary School students had prepared a drama on the life of King Harishchandra and prayed to Swami for an opportunity to present it before Him. Swami decided that the drama should be enacted in the Institute Auditorium so that all of us could watch the drama. The teachers and students of the Institute were told to assist in setting the stage and provide the necessary support for the purpose. Seizing the opportunity, we incorporated the newly learnt system of backdrop management which resulted in very quick change of scenes. Needles to say the Primary School children performed beautifully and Swami was very happy. After the performance, He came onto the stage to take photographs with the Primary School children. After the photo session, Swami with a beaming smile walked towards the flanks where the Institute students were standing and said, “Very good stage management, the scene changes were done very quickly.” He was pleased not only because we had done well but also because we had learnt quickly from the situation to which we had been exposed. It is important to note here that Swami did not comment on our sloppy performance but instead chose to show us an example of a good performance so that we could introspect, learn and improve.

Swami - The Catalyst

Swami exhibits the qualities of good leadership for us to imbibe and emulate. It is important to oversee the performance of people but not be overly intrusive so as to stifle individuality and creativity. However, a leader must intervene when things are on the verge of collapse.

For an Annual Sports Meet, the Prasanthi Nilayam Campus decided to put up a sound and light show entitled 'Manava Samskruti'. Without realising it, we had taken on more than we could handle. The programme entailed making huge sets, directing the presentations and choreographing the dances, recording the audio track and providing special lighting at various points in the ground to light up three separate performing areas. Everyone worked tirelessly to fulfil the tasks allocated to them. The 11th of January was approaching and we had not had a complete practice with the audio tracks and lights. Things were in disarray. That year, Swami was a little reticent with the Prasanthi Nilayam Campus and He did not indicate any eagerness to see a rehearsal of the programme. 

Sri Sathya Sai at the Hill View Stadium

Swami, all-knowing that He is, realised that some intervention was required if the programme was to succeed. On the evening of the 10th of January, He came to the College, apparently to see the final practice of Chaka Bhajan which was to form a part of the procession when Swami entered the stadium on the 11th morning. Just as He was about to leave, a senior student took courage and prayed to Swami to come and see a rehearsal of the Prasanthi Nilayam Campus programme. Swami readily agreed and came to the stadium. We were totally unprepared and it took us a while to organize things and begin the rehearsal. Swami’s Presence brought out a seriousness and commitment from the students that we had not seen till then and for the first time we went through the whole programme without a break. Before He left, Swami made some suggestions and asked that some scenes be pared down as the programme was too long. The next day, the sound and light show, the first of its kind in Prasanthi Nilayam was a grand success. Swami had turned around a certain failure into a grand success by His timely intervention and guidance. A good leader is a catalyst – He makes things happen by His presence.

Swami – Perfect Manager and Organiser

We had installed the P. A. system in the newly built Sai Kulwant Hall. One festival day, Swami had given His Divine Discourse and was returning to Poornachandra Auditorium. While passing a person close to His residence, Swami asked him if he had liked the Discourse. The person concerned told Swami that he could not listen to the Discourse as the speaker placed on the outside of Sai Kulwant Hall was not working. Swami did not say anything and retired for the day. We rectified the problem the moment we came to know of it. The next morning Swami came for Darshan and slowly walked around the Sai Kulwant Hall as if checking out if the Darshan music was heard everywhere in the Hall. He even walked down the central path and went up to the Rama temple and came back. After evaluating things for Himself, Swami came into the Bhajan Hall from where we operate the sound system and gently told us to check up if everything was alright as some people were saying that they were unable to hear things properly. Swami chose to ascertain things for Himself before reacting to a complaint.

It was the day after one of the Sports Meets. Swami called for the car and took a drive to the stadium on the morning of the 12th. He found all the props and sets used for the previous day’s performance lying scattered all over the ground.  When He returned to the Mandir, He admonished us for our carelessness and said that all the items should be put away carefully after use. He wanted to drive home the importance of care and maintenance of resources. From then on, whether it is the Sports Meet, Convocation Drama or a Conference, we wind up all the items used, and put them back where they belong, the very same day. There is an interesting sequel to this event, though it happened many years later.

It was a day after an MBA anniversary on 21st August, when Swami had come to the Institute to Bless us with His Divine Message and also witness a Drama by the students. On 22nd afternoon, I was sitting for Darshan next to a group of youth from Hyderabad. As Swami walked by, the youth group prayed for an opportunity to present a drama before Him. Swami thought for a while, turned towards me and asked if the lights and mikes put up for the previous days’ drama were still on the stage at the Institute Auditorium. I apologetically told Swami that we had wound up everything, immediately after the function. He feigned surprise at this efficiency and enquired if it would be possible for us to arrange the lights and mikes at the Institute Auditorium to enable the youth group to put up their drama. When I replied in the affirmative, Swami wanted to know how much time we would require to set everything up. In my eagerness to please, I said it would take an hour. Swami said He would come around 6 p.m. thereby giving us around two hours to get things ready. He was walking away when He paused and said that He would appraise the Vice-Chancellor about this matter personally. Swami could have commanded us to make the necessary arrangements but He chose to ascertain from us if it were possible. Second, Swami asked us how much time we needed and gave an allowance for unforeseen situational factors. Third, Swami demonstrated the importance of following the correct protocol. The Chancellor was coming to the Institute and it would be appropriate to talk to the Vice-Chancellor about the arrangements to be made. 

Sri Sathya Sai, Revered Founder Chancellor
Living with Swami is true education. He is constantly teaching us through His personal example. He has said that His life is His message. How true it is. I pray to Him to give me the sensitivity, will and determination to watch Him, learn and imbibe His teachings in my endeavour to continually evolve into a better human being.

- Dr. Naren Ramji
Alumnus (1986-88), Department of Management Studies
Currently Registrar, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam

Source: Fragrance: A Compilation by the Management Alumni of Sri Sathya Sai Institue of Higher Learning on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Management Programme at SSSIHL, 2005


  1. Wonderful lessons, learnt through experience and fabulous guidance by the Lord. What a wonderful way of teaching the students. Only He can do that; but of course, He expects us to learn and emulate. Great narration and synthesis of Lessons that can be implemented in guiding students.

  2. om sri sai ram excellent lesson in people & management skills=m sai navneethan

  3. om sri sai ram apt and telling messages convyed on managing people/situaions & cicumstances best regards m sai navneethan

  4. Sairam Brother Sri Naren Ramji,

    Your article "Living with God is real education" made a blissful reading. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful experiences with Bhagawan. Being HIS student and serving as Registrar of HIS University is great honor and a rare privilege that Swami has bestowed upon you.

    I strongly feel that Swami's teachings are highly relevant today and in times to come. I therefore feel it is imperative that HIS teachings should become a part of academic curriculum in all Indian schools and colleges. Students are our national assets and value-based education would help us build good character in students and would help us make India a stronger nation.

    Many thanks for your article once again.

    Loving Sai regards,

    Arun Deshpande
    Nairobi- Kenya


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