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Canada News - India Abroad October 29, 2004

MBA students learn from Satya Sai Baba


in Toronto

Dr Yassin Sankar uses the teachings of Satya Sai Baba in his lectures to MBA students at Dalhousie University.

Sankar, an Indo-Caribbean Christian, takes classes on ethics, stress management and allied  areas at the University.

"Sai Baba tells you how to teach ethics in accounting, finance as then you can look at  ethical issues in every field," he said.

Over 700 people attended a lecture by Sankar and Dr David Gries, professor of computer science, and associate dean of engineering, Cornell University, on the message of Sri Satya Sai Baba, on October 10 at downtown Toronto United Church.

Gries is the Chair of Satya Sai Baba's North American zone,  which covers the US, Canada and the Caribbean countries. The organization has divided the world into nine such zones.

"The human efforts that he (Satya Sai Baba)  has done is there for anybody to see, as there has never been anything like that, but more importantly the way he has changed peoples' lives." he told India Abroad. "People have become more spiritual, more understanding."

Gries and Sankar regularly visit Satya Sai Baba's main ashram  at Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh. Gries, who goes to teach  computer science at Satya Sai Baba's Institute of Higher Learning, has spoken with the godman several time.

Sankar, who has not met Satya Sai Baba so far, described Baba as India's "national treasure to the world."

I learnt about the spiritual heritage of India from Sai Baba- Before that I was just a Christian. I had no connection with Hinduism.

We had some biases against Indiana but when I went to India for the first time I saw how amazing it was. I discovered the spiritual and cultural heritage I left behind when our forefather left India some 150 years back.

"Every lime I go to India I am amazed at the growth of the ashram where I meet people from 100 countries, rich, poor, everybody there."'

He became interested in the teachings of Satya Sai Baba when he went to McGill University and later the University of Toronto and John Hopkins for his Ph.D.

"When I came to Sai Baba and started reading I was amazed at the ethical traditions."

Most books in the West focus on "Judeo Christian ethical lenses, they are talking about globalization, they ignore Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Whereas Sai Baba says all religions are facets of the same truth. That's what impressed me as a Christian the most, because most Christians believe Christianity is the only path."  

Satya Sai Baba "preaches the unity of all religions and he celebrates the birthdays of all of them in the ashram. It is amazing,  he's building bridges against all cultures, all faiths and spiritual traditions." 

Gries went to India for the first time in 1973. His wife was a follower of Sathya Sai Baba, but it took Gries eight years before he agreed to go to India for the second time in 1981. He has made several visits since then.

"It was not easy to believe everything people said about Sai  Baba in the beginning, he told India Abroad.

"I am a computer scientist, with the same analytical skills and discrimination of all scientists. If I can't have absolute proof of something, at the least I want hard evidence. With me. it has been a slow and steady process, gaining faith in the teachings of Satya Sai Baba and in him.

Are there any inter-religious conflicts when people of varying faiths and beliefs visit the ashram?

"No, it  just the opposite," Gries replied. "He says there's no need for you to leave the religion you grew up with. You are worshipping the same God. Important thing is to follow the basic principles of religion as underneath they are all the same! "