Day before yesterday when the Founder-Convenor of city’s well-known NGO, Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP) Dr. Bhamy V. Shenoy sent me a message about his visit to a high school established by Sathya Sai Baba Trust near Mandya, I was all attention. I had thought that the memory of Sri Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi fame, whose last days were mired in trauma and controversy, was completely eclipsed ending his spiritual power and glory. I was told there was no activity at the Puttaparthi Ashram like it used to be at the peak of Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s physical presence. Likewise the Baba’s Centre at Whitefield near Bengaluru too had ceased to make news.
In such a bleak scenario of the post-Baba period, Bhamy’s message revived in me a journalist’s curiosity as well as my interest in investigating the obsession of mankind with religions and Godmen as a Seeker of Truth. It is a phrase I have borrowed from Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, another Godman.
I decided to visit the place very next day because Bhamy Shenoy had written an eulogy on the school that I could not ignore, coming as it was from a person who could not be satisfied with anything lacking in excellence, specially in the matter of education. He wrote:
“Even our IITs do not have such impressive buildings and surroundings. Lecture halls are spacious. Library is housed in a large room. Hostel is immaculately clean, spacious and huge. Toilets are clean and functioning. No fees. Absolutely free. Mostly only the poorest of the poor are admitted.
“Some rich and middle class students are also there. Happily all of them are able to interact without any class distinction as claimed by some private schools. These private schools while admitting students under Right to Education Act claim they face problems of class distinctions. Also the poor who are admitted to sixth grade do not have foundational literacy and numeracy. But the school provides such skills that they are able to manage along with more advanced students quickly. This is remarkable.
“Anyway, if one were to nit-pick, it is overemphasis on following the “Guru”. But the bright side of that is inculcating right values of ethics, service to society, helping those in need etc. I had one hour interaction with the students on what they should do to serve the society when they graduate.”
I wish I was there with him that day to hear him speak to the students. Reading this I was wondering what would the students expect from those elders like Shenoy who advice them in this manner. The smart, cell-phone-educated student might tell the elders, now retired from a cushy job with a fat-pension, what they should do to serve the less fortunate and much deprived people in the society. Reality is, only a chosen few would share their good fortune with the have-nots. And among them are those who donate and are giving generously to establish schools like the one Bhamy Shenoy and I saw yesterday. They are the pro-life divine people. May their tribe increase.
This resident school, in an area of 20-acres, was started in 2013, deep inside the agricultural belt with very poor road connectivity. I was anxious and uncomfortable driving through the meandering, bumpy, partly asphalted and metalled road. Muddy roads had deep ruts in it left by the bullock carts where driving a car was hazardous.
However, a new vista of a paradise opened before me as the car entered the premises of the school. If a picture is worth more than a thousand words as Alice says in the book ‘Alice in Wonderland’, let me produce some pictures. It was like finding an oasis after wandering in a hostile desert.
Blessed is the land of Rishi, Munis. Blessed is Mandya where the spirit of Sri Sathya Baba of Puttaparthi lives.
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