Friday, November 25, 2016

Background to pic of Sai student (Vennel), peacock and Swami; Vennel is now vice-principal of a Telangana school

A few days back bro. Clive Raj Valydon had put up the pic of a Sai student holding up a peacock for Swami to see & bless from up close. Here's his Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/sathyanarayana.raju.9/posts/903166386486513, dated Nov. 22nd 2016. I have given the pic below. Thanks Clive for sharing the pic.



I enjoyed the pic but did not focus on the profile view of the Sai student holding the peacock. Later it struck me that it seemed to be that of brother Vennel Raj from the Biosciences department, whom I had interacted with many times, and who is on my regular mailing list even today. I have given below our mail exchange on it (slightly edited).

I (Ravi) wrote to Vennel:

Can you confirm that it is you in the pic? If it is you, can you share more info. about the pic - when, more background ... Can you also tell me your period of stay in Swami educational system? May I also share your current position (if so, you will have to share that as well)?
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Vennel wrote back:

Yes sir, it is me only. This was on one of the Krishna astami occasions. Year, I do not remember exactly. Must be when I was doing my M.Phil at SSSIHL. I got this beautiful chance to be with the peacock for taking our beloved Sai Krishna's blessings. I was so Happy on that Krishna astami day, as I craved for such chance every year, being a Yadava boy. Thanks to the warden Shiva Shankar Sai sir for giving that nice opportunity. Swamy was very Happy seeing the peacock...

[Ravi: I think Vennel's full name is Vennel Raj Yadav indicating that his clan is the Yadava clan. Krishna was also from the Yadava clan. More on Yadavas can be seen here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yadava.]

Sir, I studied @ parthy and served our bhagawan for 13 years. I belong to 1999 batch. All 13 years I was at parthy only sir.

I am currently working as vice principal @ Shasta school @ kalwakurthy..I am continuing the same swami's work here also (moulding children into good human beings). Swamy is still taking care of me and my family. This life of vennel is only for serving bhagawan...
Lots of love to you.
Thank you for sharing swami's love...
Humble Pranams.
..
PS: sir, no problem if you share this information with other devotees of our bhagawan.
Jai sai Ram.

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I wrote back (inline comments in mail):

Wonderful! Thanks for sharing. Which were the years you were doing M. Phil?
..
So you started in Parthi in 1999? 1999 to 2012, I guess. Did you join for your F.Y. B.Sc. or was it earlier?
..
Thanks brother. Will do so (sharing with others) later. I think it will give joy to some readers of my posts. Jai Sairam!
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Vennel wrote back:
Respected Sir,
Sai Ram!
Sir, I joined SSSIHL in the year 1999 for B.Sc Degree Course.
I completed B.Sc in the year 2002,
M.Sc in the year 2004
M.Phil in the year 2006
Ph.D in the year 2013.

So it must be in the year 2005/2006 [Ravi: Vennel is referring to the year the pic was taken.]

THANK YOU SIR.
HUMBLE PRANAMS..
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Vennel also wrote another mail:
Some pics of swamy school children  during swami's birthday celebrations @ kalwakurthy sai mandir. they offered two dance sequences to take swami's birthday special blessings. [Ravi: I have given those three pics too below in this post. You can see Vennel in one of the pics standing behind the students and to the right in the pic. The school is in Telangana state, I believe in a place called Kalwakurthy.]




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I wrote back:
Wonderful! I think adding these pics to my post will add beauty and make the post more attractive. But would it be OK to share pics of these children? [Any problem if pics are shared?]
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Vennel wrote back:
Not at all sir, You can share the pictures. We are swamis children..
lots of love
from all of us.
jai sai ram
--- end mail exchange between Vennel and me ---

Ravi: I would also like to share that during some of the years of my (free) service in the Sai university (from Jan. 2003 to Mar. 2012), I would get to see these peacocks on every day that I would visit the Prasanthi Nilayam campus. This is because, for some years, the peacocks were housed in a rather large cage in the campus quadrangle very close to the entrance of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science (DMACS), Computer Lab (called AI Lab) where I used to sit. I have even seen the peacocks spread out their beautiful feathers and enjoyed it from a very close distance. It was a wonderful and uplifting sight. Later the peacocks were moved out to some other place, if I recall correctly.

Brother Vennel was with the Biosciences department and I believe the responsibility at a top level, of taking care of these pets of Swami was that of the Biosciences department.

I must also say that Dr. Vennel Raj was and continues to be a very humble and loving Sai student and now Sai university alumnus. I hold him in high regard for his adherence to the values that Bhagavan tried very hard to instill in his students. I am so glad to know that he continues to serve Bhagavan in the regular world outside through being a vice-principal of a school in Telangana state of India, where he seems to be doing his level best to mould school children under his care into good human beings using the teachings that Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba taught him and us.

I pray earnestly to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba to shower His Grace on the students, teachers, and other staff of Vennel's school and on Vennel, in their efforts to learn/instill Sai human values.
==================================================================

Vennel wrote (and was OK with public sharing):
Thank you sir for your encouraging words.
I will consider your love as swami's direct blessings..
Love you sir.
My Humble Pranams!!
Yours vennela.
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I (Ravi) responded (slightly edited):

Bro. Vennel, I am just a spiritual aspirant with my fair share of human flaws. But I think I do have a fairly good understanding of what Bhagavan approved and was happy about and what he was either not interested in or even disapproved. What you have done by becoming a school administrator (vice-principal) who tries to inculcate Sai human values in the school children, is something, I am very sure, that Bhagavan will be very happy about.

To be honest, I think what you are doing would give Bhagavan far more happiness as you are contributing to moulding the new generations, than if you were doing Biosciences research which publishes a few papers and earns UGC and NAAC appreciation but does not really do much in terms of promoting Sathya, Dharma, Shanti & Prema values in society. It is the latter that is sorely needed in society today where Sai alumni should come to the fore. I hope more and more Sai education systems alumni learn from examples like yours and try to do their bit to contribute to Sai human values teaching in schools across the country, even if they do it as a part-time activity.
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Given below is a comment on my Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/1823247777891791, associated with this blog post.

Terry Reis Kennedy wrote:
Such a loving story. And how sweet is Swami's expression in the photo.
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