|Arvind Yadavalli with Sri Sathya Sai during the Annual Sports and Prize Distribution Ceremony at Prasanthi Nilayam|
Life is full of surprises and not all of them are pleasant. Every moment of life is a new experience if we take it in the right perspective. Like a great philosopher once said, “…There is always something to learn from everyone. From some, how to be and from others how not to be…A wise man is an eternal student”.
One of the definitions of Management is that it is the art of getting things done through other people. But the fundamental question is: What is to be done? Is it efficiency or effectiveness, doing the right thing or doing things right? How does one make the right decision? In the art of war it is said, a true General goes into battle only when he knows he has already won the war. Hence battles are won not on the battlefield but in the minds of men. The wisdom of saints echoes in the statement “Don’t think you are…know you are… It is not what you have but what you think you have.” Apparently contradictory aren’t they? One says that the mind is limited and that knowing is superior to thinking. The next says that mind is the key to success. This is life… full of contradictions. What do we do when in such a predicament? Go back to the source.
It is not written in the destiny of all to be an Alexander who conquered through war or a Gandhi who conquered through peace. Nor is it in the strength of many to be a Genghis Khan who could unite the numerous warring tribes of Mongols into a formidable nation. The fact remains that even the greatest of leaders was once a follower. Each had a preceptor, a guide, a master who showed them the path to perfection. As students from the School of Business Management, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, we are fortunate to have Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, our beloved Swami as our Master, Teacher, Preceptor and Guide. Students studying here are lucky to have Swami as their Mentor. His Life is His Message. There is nothing that He does not practice that He preaches. In fact, His Message is so simple that to follow one of His tenets is to follow all, but to fail in one is to fail in all. How do we stay on the right path? Go back to the source.
Swami says that the two banks of the river of education are ‘Shradhavaan Labhate Jnanam’ and ‘Samshayatma Vinashyate’. They translate to “Only the diligent shall receive wisdom” and “The one that doubts shall perish”. In a world that reeks of the stench of “Dog eat dog”, where one believes one can succeed only by destroying the other, the philosophy of ‘Satyam Vada, Dharmam Chara’ (Speak the Truth and Practice Righteousness) comes as a waft of fragrance. Bhagawan declares that the ideal qualities of a student are: Satbuddhi (good intellect), Satchintana (good thoughts), Satyanirati (truthfulness), Bhakti (devotion), Kramasikshana (discipline), and Kartavyapalanambu (discharge of duty). The scriptures say: ‘Education confers humility, humility builds character, from character emerges wealth, and wealth used righteously confers happiness’. Once Swami declared that only a person with ‘Behaviour’ (good behaviour) is a boy; a person with ‘Manners’ can be called a man; and one with ‘Discipline’, a devotee. Discipline cannot be forced. It has to be sourced from within. This is what we are taught in our system of education. Duty, devotion and discipline are ingrained in every true student. Yet, the strongest tree sways when the elements strike. When doubts arise within because of tumult without – Go back to the Source.
Dharmic challenges, dilemmas, the questions of ‘To do or not to do?’, ‘To be or not to be?’ are the daily cup of tea of every decision maker. Starting from whether to drink tea or coffee in the morning to when to schedule a meeting – it is all decision making. Though we make efforts to fix the constants in the equation of life and reduce the number of variables involved, it is not in our hands to predict eventualities. It is difficult at times to take decisions when we are faced with the proverbial ‘Devil’s alternative’. In every situation it has always proven wise to use fundamental discrimination over individual discrimination. Fundamental discrimination evolves from the knowledge and realisation that the good of an individual lies in the good of many.
Why do we face such situations in life? Even the greatest of leaders have made decisions that seem apparently deleterious to the issue at hand but have proven to be the right ones in the long run. The Tao teaching says ‘…lose the battle to win the war…’ In the interest of the whole, a part is sacrificed. No greater example can there be than the bombing of Britain in the Second World War. The Allies had information about the German encrypted ‘Enigma’ and had intercepted a message that was about an imminent bombing of Britain. Britain could not react without revealing that they were in possession of the device. So the Prime Minister had to allow the bombing of the country – lose a battle, to finally win the war. Why do people make such decisions? Go back to the Source.
The individual is a part of society, man is a social animal and society has its rules, written and unwritten. To be a change agent one must first be unaffected by the change around him. When moral and ethical depravity is the order of the day and survival demands drastic measures; one can be a minnow, flow with the current and end up in the wide ocean or be a salmon, swim against the tide and reach the source of its origin. Going against the tide requires faith both in oneself and in God. How did the change agents in this world become what they were and achieve what they did? What was their sustenance? A razor sharp intellect, practical knowledge, the will to achieve against all odds, being street smart and the ability to grab every opportunity that knocks, are some of the traits that one needs to have to succeed. In the world of competition there are no rules and even great men stoop to any level to conquer. To desist from such actions is the defining factor of a true leader. Where from does this control emerge? Go back to the Source.
In the Mahabharata, Sage Vyasa said, “His own self must be conquered by the king for all time, and then only are his enemies to be conquered.” Western psychology deems man – a conditioned being. This limits its perspective to the external expressions of acquired knowledge. It gives no credit to the innate fundamental unity of all beings. In his book ‘Leading consciously – a pilgrimage toward Self Mastery’, Debashis Chatterjee says, “Personal mastery is a journey toward a destination we call an Integral Being. Integral beings experience a life of oneness with themselves and their universe. They act from the wholeness of this experience…an integral person begins to experience spiritual affinity with the natural order of the universe; his inner nature becomes one with the outer Nature.” The question may then arise, Who are these integral beings? We are. And to become aware that we are – Go back to the Source.
What, how, when, where, who and why. These are the questions that plague all men of the world. But then we are in the world, not of it. The answers to these questions lie in going back to the Source; reconnecting with the Source of all wisdom. To us, the Source is our Swami. His words are beacons that light up our paths and when we perform any action for Him, as an offering to Him, He takes care of everything. It is said that the greatest of the Masters need to remind themselves of what their ultimate goal is. All of us use reminders in our daily routines. The more techno savvy, the better. From Palm tops, PDAs, and laptops to the humble table dairy, all of us depend on some form of support to jolt our memories and act as ‘back up’ just in case we forget.
A business appointment missed can translate to a loss to the tune of millions. We go to any extent to sweet-talk a customer to buy our product or wrangle a deal from a supplier. Time becomes precious when we have to make a presentation before a deadline. When no effort is spared to be abreast with the world through reminders why do we desist from reconnecting with ourselves? In other words why do we lie to ourselves to be true to the world? Most of us live a split existence where we show one face to the world and have another for our personal lives – an existence that leaves us unable to look into the eyes of the man in the mirror without a twinge of guilt. Reconnect, that we may look into our own eyes with self-confidence.
Honestly, how long can one live by stifling ones conscience? Swami refers time and again to the Bhagawad Gita where Lord Krishna says:
“Karmanyevaadhikaaraste Maa Phaleshu Kadaachana
Swami paraphrases this saying “Do your best, leave the rest (to Me)”. What greater assurance can one ask for? It is said that the true Guru has the power to change the destiny of His disciple and all that the disciple needs to have is faith. Implicit faith, that no matter what, the Guru is never wrong. Implicit faith and absolute obedience is necessary. Even a vestige of doubt can hinder the flow of the grace of the Master to His pupil. Is it too much to ask that we put our complete faith in our Master?
It all boils down to what Swami neatly expressed in four lines, “Follow the Master, Face the Devil, Fight to the End, Finish the Game.” To follow the Master we need implicit faith that the Master is always right and is with us, guiding us and guarding us. Swami in His infinite Love has assured us of His eternal support in a letter to His students on the occasion of Telugu New Year’s Day (Ugadi) 29.03.81:
“In this world of change, we meet with various vicissitudes of life, both pleasant and unpleasant. We are afflicted with disease both mental and physical. The body is stricken with disease and the mind with worries. In this state of our unhappiness, turmoil and misery, there is only one way and that is to take refuge in Sai. Sai alone can remove these difficulties and diseases and bring us health, peace and prosperity.”
- Arvind Yadavalli
Student (1997-1999), Department of Management and Commerce
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus
Currently, Programme Manager, Reliance Foundation, Navi Mumbai
Source: Fragrance 2005