|Sri Sathya Sai with Justice Venkatachalaiah, Former Chief Justice of India and |
Vice-Chancellor A.V.Gokak, at the Inaugural Session of the Conference
Wednesday, August 17, 2005 and
Thursday, August 18, 2005
An International Conference on the theme of ‘Education for the 21st Century: Education to Educare’ was held at Prashanti Nilayam on 17th and 18th August 2005. This was organised by Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning as part the 80th Birthday celebrations of Bhagavan.
The participants in this Conference included Vice Chancellors of Indian Universities, Directors of Institutes of Education in India and overseas countries, eminent Administrators and Educationists. The Chief Guest of the Conference was Justice M.N. Venkatachalaiah, former Chief Justice of India. The Inaugural Session commenced in Sai Kulwant Hall after the Darshan of Bhagavan at 8 a.m, on 17th. Sri A.V.Gokak, Vice-Chancellor of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, welcomed the Chief Guest and other dignitaries. The Chief Guest then delivered the inaugural address. Bhagavan blessed the delegates with His illuminating Discourse providing valuable insights and giving new directions to our present system of education. He said:
“In this world, there are millions of educated people. Right from a child to a learned old man, everyone is interested in reading books and acquiring knowledge. But in what way are they benefited by the acquisition of bookish knowledge? Such education can only help you to eke out a livelihood. Right from a pauper to a millionaire, everybody wants his children to be well educated. Parents are prepared to spend any amount of money and they even borrow money (even beyond their means) to provide quality education to their children. In spite of the fact that the parents face a lot of hardship in educating their children, the children do not have any gratitude towards their benefactors. They do not introspect, “Who is responsible for all my development? Who has made me what I am today?” Under these circumstances, we should enquire into the true purpose of education. One may study a number of books and master various branches of knowledge, but does he enjoy peace and tranquillity? All the knowledge that we acquire from books can only take care of our physical needs. The fact is, true knowledge is latent in everyone. Women do not lag behind men in academic excellence. People think that education confers on them respect and esteem. But, people lack true wisdom in spite of their high academic achievements.
In the present, parents want their children to pursue solely job-oriented education. But, what is the use of such education which does not bring about transformation among children? Neither are the children benefited nor are they able to render any help to their parents. Modern man develops ego on account of his educational achievements. Humility is the hallmark of true education. If a man lacks Viveka (discrimination) and Vinaya (humility), all his education is of no value. You should understand that your education is meant for the welfare and progress of society. But, in what way is society benefited by educated people? Actually, you are learning many things from society and derive benefit from it. But power of discrimination which is found even in uneducated people is not to be found in the so-called educated people today.
When this is the true state of affairs why should the educated get inflated with ego? There is scarcely any humility among students today. They show no respect towards elders. They do not realise their responsibilities towards society. What is the use of merely acquiring bookish knowledge if one does not respect elders and serve society? One who leads such a life is not true to his nature. His walking, talking, reading, writing, everything becomes an affectation. If this is the result of academic education, why should one go to college at all? Every student must enquire into himself, “What am I doing in the college? What am I supposed to do?” Only when he conducts such self-enquiry, can he understand the true meaning of education. Mere bookish knowledge is not true education. It is merely transfer of what is contained in Pustaka (book) to Mastaka (head) and vice versa. In this manner, people are entangled between Pustaka and Mastaka without really understanding the true meaning of education. They are wasting their time in the pursuit of bookish knowledge instead of acquiring practical knowledge.
No doubt there is a lot of information in Pustaka, but what purpose does it serve if the Mastaka is filled with filth? You can never achieve the desired results from such an education. The same was explained by the chief guest in his address. “Though all people learn and study, what is the ultimate result out of this?” he questioned.
People spend thousands of rupees for acquiring academic education. What is the role the educated people play in society today? Do they contribute for peace in society? Do they try to bring about transformation in individuals? No. In fact, they are unable to inculcate discipline in their own children. Most children may pretend to be well behaved and humble in the presence of their parents, but they behave like rowdies once they step out of their houses. Students should strive to earn a good name in society. Today’s education is making the students materialistic. It does not prepare the students to turn inward to listen to their inner voice. One should acquire Atma Prabodha (Atmic knowledge). That is true education.”
Later, Swami presented mementos to the participants.
The speakers who addressed the conference were Sri A.V. Gokak, Justice M.N. Venkatachalaiah, Sri M.K. Kaw, former Education Secretary, Government of India; Dr. G. Venkatraman and Sri S.V. Giri, former Vice-Chancellors of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning; Prof. J. Shashidhara Prasad, Vice-Chancellor, Mysore University; Dr. Yoginder Verma, Director, UGC Academic Staff College, Shimla; Prof. S. Chakravarthi, Director, Jaipuria Institute of Management, Lucknow; Sri Venu Srinivasan, Chairman and MD, TVS Motor Company; Sri Samir Bhatia, Director, HDFC Bank; Prof. J.S. Rajput, former Director NCERT, New Delhi; Sri Victor K. Kanu, Director, Sathya Sai School, Zambia; Dr.Art-Ong Jumsai, Founder Director, Institute of Sathya Sai Education, Thailand; Prof. V.R. Mehta, former Vice Chancellor, Delhi University; Professor V.S. Prasad, Director, NAAC; Prof. G.S. Randhawa, former Vice Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, Chandigarh; Swami Atmapriyananda, Vice-Chancellor, R.K. Mission Vivekananda Educational and Research Institute, Kolkata; Prof. S.P. Thyagarajan, Vice-Chancellor, University of Madras; Prof. P. Geervani, former Vice-Chancellor, Sri Padmavathi Mahila Viswavidyalayam, Tirupati; Smt. Kumud Bansal, Secretary, Department of Elementary Education and Literacy, Government of India; Sri Sanjay Sahni, Principal, Brindavan Campus; and Sri Sanjay Mahalingam, Sri Shashank Shah and Sri Jagadish Chandra, doctoral research students of the Institute.
The senior students of the Institute presented in Sai Kulwant Hall a drama on the theme of Unity of Faiths that afternoon. Bhagavan blessed the cast and posed for photographs with them.
The Valedictory Session of the Conference was held in Sai Kulwant Hall at 3.25 pm on the 18th. The Institute students led the Bhajans that evening. The programme concluded with Mangala Arati.