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Healthy Minds in Healthy Bodies

Address to students at Lalaji Memorial Omega International School 3rd January 2008, Chennai, India 

I have not been able to come as often as I would wish to see you all. There are no excuses. Because as far as I have committed to myself, your education, your upbringing and the final result that the school hopes to produce in all of you, is one of my primary commitments. I hope you understand what I am saying; if you don’t understand, say so, and I will say it in plainer language.

I am more committed to your scholastic welfare, your health, your education, your moral instruction, than perhaps even your parents. Your parents have a happy time, you know they have the money to send you here. And nowadays, especially in modern society, parents don’t take responsibility for the upbringing of their children as they used to do in the past. So the school seems to have acquired, schools seem to have acquired a double role, that we have to play the part of your parents as well as the part of your instructors, as well as being your parents very often, because for those of you in the hostel, our wardens must be like parents: you must trust them, you must love them, and you must obey them—things which don’t always happen in the families. Take it seriously, don’t smile. Listen attentively, take it seriously.

Your prayer just said, “Hey prabhu aanandadaata” [O Lord, the giver of bliss]—true anand in life. Anand in Sanskrit does not mean this tomfoolery, you know, that goes on in schools, what you call fun. Anand is to be translated as bliss, something superior to just happiness and joy. It is a combination of love, the joy of life, and inner contentment with one’s own self. The true test of a human being is, are you content with yourself? Or are you just playing tricks; pretending to be happy, pretending to be content, not good students, bluffing your way through school, marginally passing and hoping for the best.

You know prayer is a powerful tool, but prayer is not the only thing. God’s grace is a must but it will help those only who help themselves. If you don’t study, God is not going to come and write your examinations for you. You understand?

Now half of your year has gone, the other half is in front of you and it is the more difficult half. You know when you ride a bicycle, the beginning is easy, the ending is difficult. When you climb a mountain, the beginning is easy, the ending is difficult. In everything, the morning is easy, the evening is difficult. So you have to learn to conserve your energies, save your energies for this half of the year. Do well.

Because, for the edification of your staff, I made a list of possibilities of students. Right at the top we have ‘genius’, next level ‘excellence’, next level ‘superlative’, ‘very good’, ‘good’, ‘average’, ‘passable’, ‘so-so’. I don’t want to see the ‘so-so’ and ‘passable’ levels in my students here. Even ‘average’ is only at the time of admission, not later.

We are a school dedicated to excellence in you. There is no such thing as an excellent school. There are excellent students in a school and that school becomes excellent. You understand? So forget these ‘so-so’s’, ‘passables’ and ‘average’ and aim for the upper.

Of course below that we have, what I would not even like to read: ‘poor’, ‘bad’, ‘very bad’, ‘incorrigible’, ‘hopeless’. That half is like the dark night—not for us. I have been told by some of your people, students, parents, that you all take it very easy, especially the hostel students. Because you have good accommodation, good food, good companionship, lot of horseplay, sometimes going into violence, sometimes creating enmity instead of friendship. All that has to go.

A hostel is to be considered as the home with the tighter element or environment of discipline, where you can be free to study without interference from your family, television, street noises, so on and so forth. In fact, the hostel students should always do better than day students. They have so many more facilities. It is not a time for, you know, pillow fights in the dark. I see one girl smiling so that it means perhaps they are having it, in their dorms. We all had it in our times but in a limited way.

Play should mean, that which contributes to health, to strength, both of body and mind. There is an ancient proverb, I think it is Greek, or Latin perhaps. It is Latin which says, “mens sana incorporae sano”: A healthy mind makes for a healthy body. We have a lot of akhaadaas [gymnasiums] and you know pehelvaans [body-builders] who have nothing here [in the head]. And of course we have a lot of people like Einstein, the great geniuses who have nothing in the rest of the body. Our school aims at healthy minds in healthy bodies, intelligence, proper perception, good brotherhood, friendship and, above all, humility.

It is said in Sanskrit, vidya vinayasampanne: Knowledge must bestow upon you humility. The wise are never arrogant, never blustering, “nahi nahi mein sab janta hun—I know everything,” you see, that sort of thing. The wise are like unlit candles, everything is there, on demand it should come up. So don’t boast, don’t tell lies. I must warn you that if anybody tells lies or uses vulgar language and they are caught, I would request our school authorities to use that old punishment, you know? To go to the bathroom and wash your mouth out with the worst soap that you can find in the market. I’m serious about this. No vulgar language in school, in any language. Not in Hindi, not in English, not in French, not in Russian—always polite, always courteous, always good language. These are the signs of culture, of breeding, of education.

So I want you all to make a commitment to yourselves, because who is going to benefit from this education which gives you knowledge and culture and a moral basis for life? Who is going to benefit? Bolo? [Tell me?] You are going to benefit, not me. So remember that whatever you do, you are doing for yourself, not out of fear for your parents, not out of fear for your teachers, but out of a sense of commitment to yourself that “I will strive for excellence.” 

So I bless you all, please remember this, take it seriously. Don’t say he comes and gives lectures and goes away. I am in my eighty-first year; this is a long life. And you know when we become old, we are always regretting all the time we lost, all the opportunities we missed, all the education we passed by. All that we could have got but we did not get. And then it is too late to try again. You understand? Our old age should not be given up to regret for the past.

On the contrary an old man should be able to sit and say, like a beautiful rose, “Look at me. Look at the fragrance, look at the colour, look at the khushboo [fragrance] that is spreading.” That is a life well led. That is a life of contentment. That is a life of quiet, inner joy in which one can leave this life and go into the next life with equal happiness.

So these are my blessings to you all for today. Please pass on these words to others, to your parents when you go home, those of you who are hostel students. Remember, time lost cannot be regained.

There is an old saying which says: wealth lost can be easily rebuilt again. Health lost is a little more difficult, because each time you become healthy again you are a little less than before. Time lost, is irrevocably lost. So every moment of time that you waste is something you will never recapture again, gone into the limbo of the past, adding brick by brick to that house of future regret, which we must not build. OK? Let us hear it, OK? (Students respond, “Yes Master.”)

Thank you. Love to all of you.