This ashram is an important one. This name, Swami Sivananda Ashram is an important name of a great man who is the guru of my life and I want to share about him with you When I was a student in school, studying 5th/10th standard, I had an ambition “to become a great aircraft pilot” was my dream Is everyone able to hear me? I was studying until 8th standard in a Panchayat School at Rameshwaram. My teacher then was one Mr. Sivasubramanya Iyer, a great teacher. One day, he was teaching how birds fly. He drew on the blackboard a picture of a bird with its wings and tail. He was explaining how a bird flies in Tamil. We were forty students in the class. After teaching us for about 40 minutes, he asked us if we all understood how a bird flies. I stood up and told, “Sir, I do not understand anything that you are teaching.” If you don’t understand, would you tell your teacher that you don’t understand? Children: “Yes sir, we will” Really? Won’t he punish you? [Laughter] I told him, “I do not understand anything.” He was a calm man. He was a Gandhian. Do you know in which year this happened? It was in 1941. The teacher then asked, “How many of you in this class have understood?” “All those who have understood, lift your hands up.” he said. Ten students raised their hands. Out of forty, thirty did not understand. The calm Gandhian said, “I think my teaching method is not correct. I will take all of you to the beach today.” Rameshwaram is an island. Do you know what an island is? Anyone? Yes, you are right. An island is land surrounded by sea on all the sides. The teacher took us all to the beach that evening. It was about 4.00 or 4.30 PM then. There were lot of sea-birds flying in the beach. He showed us the birds flying and how they were moving their wings up and down. When the bird moves its wings up and down, it gets “lift” power to fly in the air. To change the direction, it moves its tail. The teacher asked, “What is its engine?” and explained that its life itself gives the required energy. Then for about ten minutes, he explained us how a bird flies. He taught us theoretically in the morning and demonstrated experimentally in the evening. I understood in one day how a bird flies, which parts the bird uses to fly and how it uses them. That day I decided that I should study and learn about flight science and the engineering that deals with the mechanism of flight. It was in the year 1941 when Mr. Sivasubramanya Iyer taught us how the bird flies. Then I went to high school and then studied Physics in St. Joseph college. Then I joined Madras Institute of Technology and studied Aeronautics there. I studied about how to design aircraft and how to manufacture an aircraft. Then in 1957, there was an interview for the pilot officer post in Dehradun.
As I was an aeronautical engineer, I was eligible to become a pilot officer. I had to travel to Madras via boat mail, then caught GT express train to Delhi, and then via Himalayan Queen train to reach Dehradun. It took 4 days to reach. There is a Selection Board for Air Force in Dehradun.
The interview was for four days. Day and night there were various tests:
Sports, Debate, Discussion, Interview, Running etc For eight posts of Pilot Officers, they had invited 250 students to attend the interview.
I was one among that 250. After four days of interview, they selected nine people.
For the eight posts, they had selected nine candidates.
I was ninth among them. I was a standby. Out of the eight, even if one got disqualified in Medical Test, I would have got my turn. But, that time, all the eight before me got cleared in Medical Check up, and so I did not get selected. I did not get selected as a Pilot Officer. That was my first interview.
I wanted to become a Pilot Officer, but I was not selected.
What to do? I did not get selected. I was very much worried & depressed that I was not selected in the interview in spite of my hard work and preparation. With depressed mind, I took a bus from Dehradun. From Dehradun, I was to go to Delhi, then from Delhi to Madras and then to Rameswaram. So I started from Dehradun by bus. On the way, the bus reached a place called Rishikesh.
Have you heard of it?
Rishikesh is on the foot of Himalayas. In Rishikesh, I saw the River Ganges flowing with pure crystal clear water in it.
It is the month of November. Winter has started. When I saw River Ganges, I was eager to take a bath in it.
So I had a bath in Rishikesh. It was about 6.30 in the morning. When I finished my bath and came out to the banks, I saw a big hill nearby. I wanted to see what is there in that hill.
So I walked towards the foot of the hill and I saw an ashram, Swami Sivananda Ashram! There I saw Swami Sivananda sitting like God.
Hundreds were sitting listening to him give a lecture on Gita. Because I went late, I was in the last row wearing a Dhoti. Daily, after the Gita lecture, he used to call two individuals for a discussion with him. That day also, he called two.
One was a White man and the second one was me.
We both went to him. First, he finished his discussion with him.
Then I went to his room for the discussion.
It was 1958, November 26. He was sitting like a King and had a Godly appearance & characteristics to him.
He asked me to sit. He asked my name and I answered him.
Immediately he asked, why are you so worried? I said, Swami, I wanted to become a pilot but I was not selected and that’s the reason. He is a great human being isn’t it?
Well educated, enlightened, guru that he was, he opened Gita.
Have you seen Bhagvat Gita? He opened Gita, the 11th chapter.
Such a great Guru, he is opening it and reading it for me. It was about Viswaroopam. Lord Krishna is taking Viswaroopam. Arjuna is always skeptical about war. To clarify Arjuna’s doubts, he is taking Viswaroopam. He was showing a powerful shape as if it was like a thousand suns rising. After showing Viswaroopam, Lord Krishna says:
“You defeat the defeatist tendency”. Like Thiruvalluvar says, give worry to worries.
Those who are strong & successful in life excel at this. Lord Krishna says: “You defeat the defeatist tendency”.
Meaning, you should make a worry, worry.
A worry shouldn’t be your master. Such a great man, is reading all of that to me and emphasizing, don’t run from worries but you make a worry, worry. Understand? Then he gave me like 12 tamil books to read. That incident, a great incident where I learned the importance of “giving worry to worries” became the foundation of my life. Today whatever success I have had in my life, is because of that advice I got from Swami Sivananda in Rishikesh. I wanted to share that with you all today. Come up in life. Whenever you face hurdles, don’t be scared.
By sharing that incident in my life, I want you all to win in your life.
Win your life. Understand? Ok? Now everyone repeat what I am saying. Ready?
Children: Ready sir.
Ok,very good. Is everyone ready?
Children: Ready sir.
Very good, very good. “We are God’s Children” “We possess the strength to beat a Diamond in our hearts”. “We will win”.
“We will accomplish”.
“We will wipe off worries”. “With God’s blessings, anything can be ours”. “If God is on our side, then who can stand against us”.
Meaning, if God is for you, then who can be against you? These are all my compositions in the form of poem. If you repeat these 3 times everyday, you will get the strength that your deserve.
[Repeating the verses once again] Now if you have any questions for me, I will answer.
I will answer for about 5 questions. Student: Greetings Sir.
Which standard are you studying?
Student: 10th A After finishing, 10th, 11th, and 12th, what do you want to do?
Student: Will go to College
Which college you want to go?
Student: Engineering College
Very good ambition. My best wishes. Now, what is your question? Student: What is your opinion on improving India-Pakistan relationship?
India-Pakistan relationship is a job for politicians. There are individuals who work day & night to maintain that relationship. As students, focus on your studies.
It is very important.
Isn’t it? You say you want to become an Engineer. If you do not study well, you will not get a seat. Isn’t it? I have 3 simple rules and this is for everyone, so listen carefully.
No.1. You need to have a clear cut goal.
Like, I want to become a Doctor, Engineer, Lawyer, or a Teacher etc. No.2, work hard.
Until the sweat on your forehead drops on the land, you need to work hard.
Only when you work hard you will get marks. No.3, never fear failure.
You will face some failures in life. But don’t fear them.
Perseverance. Continuously you should try and you will win.
So follow these 3 rules in your life. Next question? What is your name?
Which standard are you studying?
After finishing, 10th, 11th, and 12th, what do you want to do? Do you want to become a Doctor, Engineer, Lawyer, or a Teacher?
Student: A teacher.
Very good. What’s your question?
Student: You have been successful in many research work. Specifically which research gave you the most happiness? You are big person already! You are asking such great questions already!
[Laughter] Collaborating with my teachers, friends & colleagues I worked on a rocket that took a satellite to space/orbit. So that’s one. Then we worked on Agni, Prithvi designs which went to production and gave satisfaction. Then, I worked on Nuclear projects along with my colleagues that gave happiness.
But is there anything more than these that can give happiness? When I was working on a missile, I made a material.
It was a composite material made out of fiberglass/epoxy. Very light weight.
When compared to other materials 1/7th lighter and I made it for a missile. At that time, a Professor named Prasad from Nizam’s institute of medical sciences came to see our lab in Hyderabad. He advised against the idea of using my material in a missile saying that a missile can only cause pain to people. Instead, he suggested to use my material to relieve pain. So he took me to a hospital. It was an orthopedic hospital.
There, many 15-20 year old polio patients were dragging a 3KG caliper leg brace.
Imagine dragging 3KG weight on your legs. It is painful isn’t it? So he suggested to use my light weight material for this purpose.
Within 1 week, I made a light weight caliper leg braces (FR-1) for 3 girls & 2 boys.
From 3KG I reduced the weight 1/10th to 300 gms and fitted to those kids. As soon as they had them, they were playing, dancing, and running everywhere.
Some of them even rode a bicycle with it.
To see this, was the most happiest moment in my life. Hold on! Hold on! What is your name?
Which standard are you studying?
Student: 8th After finishing, 10th, 11th, and 12th, what do you want to do?
Student: I want to become a computer engineer.
Very good. God bless you. What is your question? Student: In the present situation, which one is better?
Professional education or Arts education? All education is important.
Through professional education you can become a Doctor, Engineer, or a Lawyer.
Through other education you can lead a great life as well. Through arts education you can lead a successful artistic life.
History education is also very important.
So we shouldn’t compare. In my opinion, even Professional education students should learn arts/humanities so an integrated good human being will be created. Very much like you all at Sivananda Ashram here who are well brought up.
Ok, last question? Student: Greetings Sir. My name is R. Brinda.
Which standard are you studying?
Student: I am studying in 5th standard. After finishing, 12th, what do you want to do?
Student: I want to become a Doctor.
Doctor. Very good. Why do you want to become a Doctor? Why do you want to become a Doctor?
Did you mother or father asked you to become one?
Student: My grandfather said so.
So tell me, why do you want to become a Doctor what is so special about it? Student: When we cure diseases for others, our diseases will be cured by God.
Excellent answer! God bless you. What is your question? Student: Is there enough opportunities to become someone like Kalpana Chawla?
Absolutely! In our country, there is an organisation called Indian Space Research Organisation. One Dr. Kasthurirangan is the head. He announced last week that we will go moon in a spacecraft.
Let us all pray for his efforts to succeed.
I am very happy to meet you all today. One last word. Repeat after me properly, ok? Ready? “The lotus grows up to the height of the water in the pond.
So too, a man’s level of greatness is determined by the height of his own will.” For all the teachers standing behind.
You are doing a noble work.
May God bless you.