"Which is more important - Bhajans or Exams?" - By Prof. S. Siva Sankara Sai

Dr. Siva Sankara Sai with Sri Sathya Sai in the Prasanthi Nilayam Campus Hostel
Bhagavan has come to foster devotion in all of us because devotion is one of easiest ways to reach him. Since the students require greater help in fostering devotion, Bhagavan in the good old days, helped the students to cultivate devotion.

Whenever there was an opportunity, He would interact with the students. Invariably the interaction would start with the question, “Yenna Samacharam?”(What news?) and then He would encourage the boys to ask Him spiritual questions and doubts. He never used to miss an opportunity to correct the students and turn them towards the Spiritual Path.

I had the good fortune of travelling along with Swami in His Benz car in 1978 to Ooty. Swami would always encourage us to see everything as a reflection of God. When a beautiful mountain range, river or a valley used to pass by, He would always tell us of the Power of God and His Majesty in these creations. He would always encourage us to wonder at the Beauty and Power of the Lord.

He would always encourage the students to sit erect and sing Bhajans loudly. I had the beautiful experience of being caught by Him when I did not attend a Bhajan session. It was in the year 1983. On one evening, after the first Darshan, I along with some other friends went to the hostel to prepare for a slip test to be held on the next day, skipping Bhajans. Swami came out for the second round of Darshan and noticed that we were not there.

Later at night, our Warden called us and asked us for an explanation and gave us a piece of his mind. On the next day Swami asked me where I was the previous day. I jumped and mentioned softly, “Swami, because of the test we went to the Hostel.” Swami then asked me, “Which is more important, Bhajans or test?” Thus, He drove home the point that both Bhajans and exams are important.
Dr. Siva Sankara Sai with Sri Sathya Sai at Kodaikanal - May, 2007
The Love which He has for students is very unique and He painstakingly nurtures our Love for Him. One evening in Brindavan, an ardent devotee by the name Sohanlal came and pleaded with Bhagavan to come to Delhi. Swami was telling him that students were having examinations and that He would come later. But he pleaded and pestered Swami. Swami quickly told the students and teachers to tell Sri Sohanlal that they would also like to accompany Swami to Delhi. Sri Sohanlal said that because of their fast approaching examinations they could not accompany Swami to Delhi. Swami on the other hand, signaled the boys to be firm in their demand. Having Swami’s approval, the boys pressed him and very firmly said, “If Swami is going to Delhi, we will also accompany Him.” Sri Sohanlal finally relented and told Swami to come to Delhi along with His students. This is the relationship which Swami Himself has planted and fostered. In 1984, He mentioned, in a discourse on the Bhagavad Gita, that He is fostering our devotion with His love. We can still see Him doing it with all His students, staff and devotees and He will continue to do so!

- Prof. S. Siva Sankara Sai
Student and Research Scholar (1981 - 1989), Department of Physics
Currently, Dean of Sciences
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning


  1. In a way, its like asking, which is more important duty or devotion?

    1. Exactly! The whole objective of sharing this experience is to highlight the fact that Swami always emphasised that Karma and Bhakti, work and worship, duty and devotion have to be parallely practiced. One cannot substitute the other. In this case, just because exams are on, the Nitya Sadhana (daily spiritual practices) should not be given up. The balance of the two is the core. Swami has always emphasised the need for an integrated life to His students, and has given ample opportunities to practice it while studying in His educational institutions.
      SSwS Team

  2. Acedote received from Sri K.S. Ramakrishna Reddy, Teacher, Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School, Prasanthi Nilayam

    In Brindavan During early 70's, when classes were held just beside Swami's Mandir some boys used to skip classes and slip in to Mandir .Finding them there during class hours, Swami would send them back to college. Same thing happened many times in Parthi in 1980's. Classes time classes and study time studies important.He wanted us to balance both. I feel that day when He did not find anybody during Bhajan to correct them He would have said like that.

    K.S.Ramakrishna Reddy

  3. By His omnipresence Swami knows everything and teaches everybody keeping the students like Krishna teaching gita to Arjuna, so that everybody gets the benefit as well as the lessons behind Swami's words. Jai Sai Ram.

  4. Evergreen lifelong wisdom to be learnt & observed from this story...Sairam


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