In November 2017, the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust formally established the Sri Sathya Sai Centre for Human Values (SSSCHV) in Prasanthi Nilayam, as a body that shall carry out research and training programs with the focus on Sri Sathya Sai Sahitya (literature) covering the scope and essence of Human Values found in all the major spiritual texts and philosophies.
The objective of the centre is “To foster the study of Sri Sathya Sai Literature in order to promote a holistic understanding and practice of Human Values in personal, societal and professional life.”
To fulfill this objective, following activities are undertaken:
The last few centuries have been remarkable in terms of human achievements in a wide variety of ways. The fact that these have been breathtaking in their impact on the overall human life cannot be ignored. The first thing that comes to ones thoughts is the remarkable increase and variety of production as a result of the achievements in science and technology; traditionally referred to as the “Industrial Revolution.” Though its initial impact was disastrous for many at the lower end of the social system, the situation improved eventually and considerably though with considerable variation across the society. Equally, or in a more pronounced way, the industrial revolution substantively changed the pattern of life in the society and eventually the paradigms governing attitudes relevant to individuals and more so to the society.
An important result of these new developments was the consolidation of strong nations with increased domestic and international power. From our point of view the outcome of these changes resulted in the adoption of a new style of education in almost all its aspects. While this has been beneficial in many ways, it has also led to several institutional changes that deviate from many old vital Indian traditions. Today the cost of education, access to it and the very content of the new system deviate from what the society requires.
To get into the basic issues with more details and in greater depth it is advisable to view these under a few broad themes. Let us look into these as follows.
Some measure of inequality in income and wealth across households in any society is natural and unavoidable. However, excessive and increasing such inequality within a country is indeed the result of exploitation caused by greed; though it may not often look like that. In the modern world, at all levels, decision making follows a framework based on the egoistic mental pattern rather than being need based. As an example it is common these days to see people buying more and expensive items like cars and houses not because these are needed but more to show off wealth. The underlying feeling is based on the so-called dictum under which “Greed is stronger than Need”. The result is a pattern of production, which gets economically justified but is morally undesirable. Changes in the pattern of production do not lead to higher employment in most cases. That the ethical behavior has no place in the system leads to many other, even greater problems over time.
It is important to underline that the foregoing characteristics are true as much, or even more so, for services. In this context one is particularly thinking of education, its content, cost and administration. In our own country we have moved into a considerably market based system of education focused on development of skills in which moral and ethical values have no place. Resources to provide good education for the poor particularly those in the villages are very scarce. The same is true of most other public services like health care. For both the problems, namely, education and healthcare, Swami has set an example by including in His Divine Mission the establishment of free hospitals, schools and colleges.
Let us now turn to the harder part of this discussion. As usual, this relates to the search for the solution. To start with, it may help to think of oneself as bound by identities arising from system-based institutions like religions. However, this cannot take one far enough. While the ultimately right perception is not easy either to explain or to understand, it is helpful to move along the path with patience and commitment. One has, indeed, to see oneself as a spiritual entity with the universal identity. While this ultimate perception is not easy for most of us to understand, and more so to accept, it is necessary to make serious efforts to internalize it.
The basic issue is the one that requires one to accept human values in depth, as the most vital feature of human birth. This is, indeed, necessary before one can proceed any further. For this reason it is useful to diverge a bit and clarify some issues as follows. At the outset it needs to be said that the term “Human Values” must be given a deeper, universal and substantive meaning. To start with, the term “Human” needs some explanation. The basic element here is that one can attain a human life after a long sequence of lives of lower order only if one deserves it. This must clearly be taken as an achievement that provides the foundation for greater progress towards perfection.
It is equally important to underline that when we consider “Values”, these do not only relate to our thoughts and actions. On the other hand values, in this context relate to how we see our thoughts and actions affecting total creation. It may be rather trivial also to note that the perception of time covers past, present and future with equal importance. It should be noted that most of us are likely to fall significantly short of the perceived ideals. Yet, it is significant that we do, in all our physical and mental endeavors keeping these tendencies as ideals in front of us all the time. These are goals to be attained even though one may frequently fall short of them.
Let it be noted that the foregoing notes are intended to give us a deeper and more inclusive meaning of Human Values than it is usually taken to be. Turning now to the concrete issues, we need to follow the subsequent points as much as we can.
The teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba are extremely relevant, particularly to the problems that we see all around us in the contemporary world. These are also fundamental in a deeper sense, as these address precisely the problems of all times. The great beauty of Baba’s teachings is the ease with which these can be followed, and more significantly practiced by all, with their respectively different backgrounds. In an oversimplification the fundamentals can be stated as follows:
It is our fortune that the eternal human values - Prema, Sathya, Dharma, Shanti and Ahimsa - have been clearly defined, demonstrated and elucidated by Sri Sathya Sai Baba. A deep understanding and practice of the human values in day-to-day life has, indeed, been clearly articulated by Baba through His own life, His writings, discourses and intimate conversations with His devotees.Just as illustrated by a banyan tree (image), that can derive its nourishment from the roots; and each of its independent branches also seeks further nourishment directly from the soil (source), it is prudent that the various research initiatives and training programs that are undertaken by the Centre for Human Values cater to the myriad needs of the humanity at large, to foster universal harmony and wellbeing, seek nourishment directly from the source – the teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
Many praise-worthy articles are written based on varied experiences that the devotees have had with Baba. Many of these have largely been based on personal life with a considerable emphasis on Divine Sankalpa, usually referred to as miracles. While they are precious and helpful to the devotees, there is considerable lacuna in using these for presenting Baba’s Universal teachings with depth and rigor for the entire humanity.
The Centre, in its current capacity recognizes that it needs to take up active research on Sathya Sai Literature while it can also potentially facilitate programs based on case-to-case approval from the advisory council. These eventually take form as conferences, publications, specific lectures and similar other activities.
Currently, the centre is governed by an Advisory Committee constituted by the following eminent members:
Pragathi Patham workshop at Dharmakshetra, Mumbai
Workshop in Darjeeling for National level and State level office bearers of Sai Organisation India
Trustees addressing the partcipants of workshop in Prasanthi Nilayam.
Alumni of SSSIHL actively participate as trainers.
Workshops aim to strengthen the three wings of the organisation - education, service and spiritual that inturn impact thousands in the country.
Spoken Sankrit class hosted by SSSCHV