Swami Discusses Hostel Food and Nutrition, Cooking and Costing!

Wednesday, June 28, 2000


Morning Darshan started at about 6.45 am. Swami called the former Union Home Minister Sri S. B. Chavan and his family for an interview. Later, Swami spoke to old students, many of them were selected for working at the Bangalore Super Specialty Hospital. Swami enquired about their work. One of the students was holding a photograph of Swami. Swami told him to give it to his mother. Swami told him to remember Sai in the heart while staying away from Prasanthi Nilayam.

Swami : (To alumni who were selected for training in Delhi) When are you going?

Alumni : Swami, we are leaving tomoorow.

Swami : Tomorrow. When are you coming back? (They didn’t know.) September, you are all coming back. By that time, labs will be ready in Bangalore.


Swami : (To students) Where have you come from?

Students : From You, Swami.

Swami : So many boys! (A student presented a colourful letter.) Very nice. Sit.

Students : Swami, talk to us.

Swami indicated to keep quiet. Swami then saw the card made by the M.B.A./M.F.M. students. He called a few devotees including a person on a wheelchair for the interview. After the interview, the incapacitated man was seen holding a neatly folded robe of Swami on his lap. Swami walked slowly towards the students. Near the lion’s statue, Swami supported Himself on it with His legs crossed like Krishna. Then Swami called the Warden, Dr. Siva Sankara Sai.
Swami : (To students) Your Warden does not have brains. He does not do any work in the Hostel.

Student : Swami, he is very active.

Swami : What is the use of being active when it is not shown in work? (To Warden) It is already one month and you have not found out who needs scholarship in the Hostel. (While education is totally free in the Sathya Sai Educational Institutions, there is a nominal amount charged as Hostel fees for boarding and lodging. However, for those students who may not be able to afford that, Swami would give scholarships from His side, so that their parents are not unnecessarily burdened.) Some students may need it. A student from Brindavan has joined here. He used to get scholarship there. (Warden apologised to Swami for the delay.) Enquire in the Hostel and find out who all need scholarship.

Students : Talk to us, Swami.

Swami : What am I doing now?

Students : Swami, in the Institute.

Swami : Vice-Chancellor said that there is a workshop on 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th. Many guests are also coming. (Swami confirmed it with the Prasanthi Nilayam Campus Principal, Prof. U. S. Rao.) 

Student : Swami, come to Hostel.

Swami : Hostel or Institute, same boys are there. If there are any day scholars, I will come. But there are no day scholars.

Warden : Swami, come to School Hostel.

Student : Swami, come and have food in Hostel. Once, Swami.

Swami : I am not a Kumbhakarna! Don’t call Me to have food anywhere. I eat only in morning - little Sankati (Ragi). What did you all have?

Student : Swami, idli and vada.

Swami : That was breakfast. What did you have for lunch?

Student : Pappucharu and beans curry.

Swami : In that Pappucharu, you hardly find any Dal! (All students laughed.) 
Warden: : Swami, boys like it very much. 

Swami : In Pappucharu, you need not put vegetables, Dal or Masala (spices).

Student : Beans curry, Swami.

Swami : It was not beans, it was Chikkudukai (Indian variety of beans). Very small.

Warden : We also put coconut, Swami.

Swami : After the Summer Course (held in the Brindavan Campus in May 2000), I sent you the remaining thousand coconuts. Otherwise, you will not put so much! What was yesterday’s breakfast?

Student : Parotha.

Swami : What is Parotha?

Student : It is like chapati. (There were peals of laughter among the students.) 

Swami : Chapatis are made small and not baked uniformly. (Swami was using the opportunity to highlight two things – the need to further improve the quality of food; and secondly, show His concern about the kind of nutritious food students should be given while maintaining the costs at the Hostel.)

Warden : Swami, we collect ₹5,000 from each student. It costs more in Hostels outside. 
(This meant that students paid ₹500 per month and about ₹18 per day in which they were served breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner - an outstanding example of cost management for student welfare under Swami's direct guidance.)
Prof. Siva Sankara Sai with Sri Sathya Sai
Swami : I agree to it. But no comparison. Outside money goes into different pockets. Here, it is not like that. In My opinion, you can give good food with the ₹5,000 itself.

Warden : Current charges have increased, Swami.

Swami : Ask Chandrababu Naidu (Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh), not Me. What can he also do? For everything, prices are increasing! You cook with gas; not with current! (Everybody laughed.) 

Warden : Swami, gas prices have also gone up.

Swami : It has increased from ₹140 to 170. Only ₹30 increase. When you divide it among so many boys; it comes to nearly one Anna (Anna was a measure of currency in pre-Independence India. 16 Annas = ₹1) or less per student. 
(Swami called the kitchen in-charge, Sri K. Venkatachalam (Sri K. V.)) What is today’s dinner?

Sri K. V. : Alasandalu (a variety of beans), Swami. 

Swami : How much do you give?

Sri K. V. : One spoon, Swami.

Warden : Big spoon, Swami.

Swami : (To students) How much does he give?

Students : Swami, two-three spoons.

Swami : Even teaspoon is a spoon. He can give two-three teaspoons.
(To students) What did you have yesterday?

Students : Palak, Swami.

Swami : What is it?

Student : Swami, Aaku Kura (leafy vegetable).

Swami : Totakura. Do you like it?

Student : Yes, Swami.

Swami : Eat green leaves. It is good for health; it is good for heart. Brinjal and drumstick are also good for heart.

Teacher : Swami, sprouts are also good for health. 

Swami : What is it? 

Teacher : Soaked pulses.

Swami : It is artificial.

Warden : We make drumstick Sambar. Boys like it.

Swami : But you don’t boil it properly. To cook it properly, you should soak it the previous day itself. You can add chilies, salt, and Masalas the next day.

Warden : Is it good to chew the drumstick?

Swami : If you boil it properly, you can scrape it with your finger itself. No need to chew. Dal, wheat and soyabeans have proteins. Indian soyabean is original. American soyabean is artificial.

Warden : Swami, boys like groundnut Chutney. 

Swami : Groundnut oil is not good, lot of cholesterol. You should use purified oil like Saffola. Dalda is not good for growing boys. You should not use it.

Warden : Swami, we use refined oil.

Swami : They put labels like that, but it is the same oil.

Warden : Swami, we get double-refined oil directly from the factory.

Swami : Double or triple, all are same. 

Prof. A. K. : Swami, we have to use some oil for cooking.

Swami : They don’t use oil, they boil in water and later sprinkle some oil over it, just to show that oil is there! See, boys have become thin. 

Prof. A. K. : Nobody has become thin. All are eating well, Swami.

Swami : How do you know?

Prof. A. K. : Swami all faces are bright and smiling.

Swami : You eat in hotel? How will you know? At home, they eat nicely. Only one month has passed and so they look fine.

Warden : Swami, Summer Course food was nice. 

Swami : It was unlimited. (To a student) What is your weight?
Student : 70 kilos, Swami.

Swami : Now, only 68. 70 to 68. 

Teacher : Swami, exception. May not be feeling well or dieting, Swami.

Student : Swami, I had fever. 

Swami : No, I did not ask about fever. What is your weight?

Student : 68 kilos, Swami.

Swami : See! In North, they have chapatis. But here, they give chapatis only for dinner.

Warden : Swami, we give chapatis in lunch also.

Swami : How many?

Warden : One, Swami.

Swami : They eat four chapatis at home and you give only one. (To a teacher) In their home, they boil potatoes in oil; here it is boiled in water.

Warden : Swami, they go for jogging and do exercises.

Swami : They should eat well to compensate loss of weight due to jogging and exercises.

Warden : Swami, boys do Yogasana also.

Swami : All that is not necessary, if they go for jogging and do exercises, it is enough.

Swami had a look at the card of the MBA students. After speaking for a long time with the students, He came near the interview room. He noticed Mr. Arthur Hillcoat, an Australian devotee, who sports a long white beard. Noticing his long beard…

Swami : Lion (Swami would fondly call him with that name), when did you come?

The devotee walked over to Swami and did Sashtanga Namaskar. Swami blessed him.

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