Education Wing

"Education should inculcate in students the spirit of self reliance and self confidence. The first thing in life is self reliance. Second is self confidence, third is self sacrifice, fourth is self realization. With self-realization, life finds its final fulfillment" -Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Bal Vikas is an important wing of the SSSSO worldwide, deeply committed to the sacred task of imparting human values to children of varying, faiths, cultures and backgrounds from the age of five years to fifteen years. This programme which was inspired by Sri Sathya Sai Baba, was started in Delhi State in the year 1971. With the Divine hand guiding the teachers along this new and unfamiliar path, a few tentative steps were taken in the direction of the teaching of values. “And how are we to start?” was the query on the lips of the mahila devotees who had been directed to begin this sacred work. The answer of Baba was simple, “’Tell inspiring stories and make the children enact plays,” He said, “What they do they will never forget.” And that is how it all began. Just two or three classes in the entire city of New Delhi, with small groups of students, perhaps six or seven per class and two or three dedicated and devoted mahilas, trusting in the Lord and His wisdom. He reassured them,“ It is quality and not quantity that is important.” Thus was laid the foundation of this movement which has now, with His Grace, spread its influence in the far flung areas of the state.

The initial classes were held in small groups in homes and the warmth and love of the teachers gradually attracted greater numbers of children. Depending on the divine Master Himself for His guidance, the teachers gathered further knowledge, honed their skills and added the now well-used five teaching techniques to their methods of teaching. As a follow up to the initial directions, the teachers were privileged to attend gurus’ training camps, held at Prasanthi Nilayam, Puttaparthi and at Brindavan Ashram, at Whitefield. Slowly but surely, He endowed them with the required skills and confidence to spread out and enlarge the activities of this wing. The first few teachers never imagined that the small activity they had embarked on would grow to the proportions that it has done so today.

Bal Vikas classes are presently being held in all five districts of Delhi. These classes are conducted, once a week, for an hour, in residential areas and in several schools by trained Bal Vikas gurus. In addition, there are classes held for under privileged children in rural areas and slums as well. Apart from focusing on character development and human values, gurus also teach children the basics of Indian culture and spirituality. They also explain the principles on which other faiths are based. As in Baba's Divine mission, people of all faiths and cultures are warmly welcomed, the children are taught to respect all religions and to see the underlying unity rather than the superficial diversity. As Baba says:

"There is only one religion, the religion of love,
There is only one language, the language of the heart,
There is only one caste, the caste of humanity,
And there is only one God, and He is omnipresent."

Keeping such powerful and inspiring words of Baba in mind, the gurus are committed to ensuring that the message of Baba goes deep into the psyche of the child and contributes to the harmonious development of the child.

The Bal Vikas programme is taught through the use of five techniques. They are:

Silent sitting/ guided visualization
Story-telling
Prayers
Group singing
Group Activities

The Bal Vikas programme is spread over a period of nine years, during which the children are taught to not only understand values, but also to implement them in their daily lives. For the success of this programme the children are taught daily introspection and the older children are given spiritual diaries to aid them in this process of character development. The cooperation of the parents is imperative if the instruction given in the classes is to have the desired result. Keeping this in mind, the Bal Vikas guru remains in touch with the parents, through regular meetings. Often it is noted that certain problems faced by the child are able to be solved with the assistance of the guru, due to the close and loving relationship that is forged between them over the years. There are many instances where the guru has been able to help the child through difficult and trying situations. Parents have been highly appreciative of the positive impact and the perceived improvement in the behaviour of their offspring. Oftentimes, they have attributed the positive change in attitudes purely to the influence of the instructions and guidance received by their children in the Sri Sathya Sai Bal Vikas. One mother openly wept at a meeting of gurus, describing how the atmosphere in her home had been dramatically altered for the better since her daughter started attending Bal Vikas classes.

In order to help the gurus to carry out their work to the best of their abilities training camps are held throughout the year, either at the samithi, district or the central level. There is a group of resource persons who willingly come forward to share their skills and knowledge in order to improve the quality of teaching and hence, add value to the entire programme.

Competitions, cultural programmes, spiritual outings, value based activities, community prayers and service to society are some of the activities that are conducted alongside regular classes. These activities encourage a sense of unity, awareness of social responsibility, self confidence, courage of conviction, appreciation and awareness of one’s own tradition and culture and most importantly, faith and trust in God.
Again, in the words of Baba:

"Daiva preethi or love for God
Paapa bheethi or fear of sin
Sangha Neethi or morality in society
&
Love all, serve all.
Help ever, hurt never."

With thoughts such as these, the bedrock of the teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the young ones are encouraged to equip themselves to face the world and its challenges.The Bal Vikas programme aims at nurturing and nourishing the tender minds, during their most impressionable years, so they grow to be upright citizens, full of moral fibre and capable of becoming worthy role models for the rest of society.

"The End of Education is Character" -Sri Sathya Sai Baba