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 Education in Human Values
Interview with Dr Yoshio Takahashi
by Andrea Bistrich

An interview with Dr. Yoshio Takahashi, founder of the Sai College in Japan, which promotes education in human values and  international brotherhood. 

Prasanthi Nilayam, Andhra Pradesh, India Dr Yoshio Takahashi
Confucius once said: "If you are planning ahead for one year, plant a seed, for 10 years, a tree, but if you are planning for 100 years, educate the children." That is the guideline which is basic to the Education in Human Values (EHV) colleges and universities inspired by Sri Sathya Sai Baba. One of those colleges is the Sai College which was founded in 1997 in Japan. Share International correspondent Andrea Bistrich spoke with Dr Yoshio Takahashi, the founder and present vice-director of the College, when they met at Prasanti Nilayam, Sai Baba's Ashram in Puttaparthi, India.

Share International
: What are the main principles of the College?

Dr Yoshio Takahashi: It is an academic institution based on Swami's philosophy, the philosophy of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The main principle of the College is international brotherhood. We wanted to build an academy without barriers – neither in nationality, nor colour, nor race. We wanted to emphasize the quality which is called love.

SI: Could you explain in more detail what you mean exactly by "Swami's philosophy"?

YT: Our students learn about the universal human values which are, as Swami says: Sathya, Dharma, Shanti, Prema and Ahimsa. These are called the five pillars of wisdom. To explain briefly: Sathya means the deep truth of being which, in fact, everyone seeks to achieve; Prema is the pure, divine and selfless love; Ahimsa means non-violence in thought, word and action; Dharma could be translated as right living. In our daily lives, and wherever we are and whatever we do, we have to put into practice the values of truth, selfless love or brotherhood, and non-violence. This means right living according to the human values, and, inevitably, that will lead to the last pillar which is Shanti – total peace.

These five pillars of wisdom are the ethical and moral guidelines in all the Sai schools, from kindergarten to university. We keep them, but they're not bound to any religion or cult.

SI: Do the pupils and students learn more, or better, with that ethical background in mind?

YT: It is not a case of whether they will learn more or less. What our college encourages is independent thinking.

SI: How does this fit into today's society which is based on more materialistic ideas?

YT: We try to support our students as much as we can, even after they have left college – although we hope that they will integrate what they have learned into their daily life in society. But it depends on the students themselves what they do with the given wisdom.

SI: Which means that you need a good relationship with your studentsÖ

YT: Yes, we have life-long relationships. We know them personally and they know who we are. That is the reason why we usually, before entry, want them to check if this college would be the right thing for them and we, on the other hand, have to be sure that they are the right student for us. The only exemptions are students who don't have any resources to cover their college costs. They have no choice, and we should be conscious of that and take care of their education anyway.

SI: You have just set up a new university in Hawaii according to that EHV-model.

YT: That's right, yes. K.P. University is a distance-learning university based in Honolulu and affiliated to the Sai College in Japan. On 1 March 1999 it will open its doors under the guidance of Swami's brother and honorary chancellor Dr Ratnakara Janakiram. But, to make it clear, we are not part of the Sai organization and so we are not approved or supported by the Sathya Sai Central Trust.

SI: What subjects do you offer?

YT: Philosophy, Arts, Computer Sciences, and we have planned more for the future.

Swami says: "The end of education is character." And that is what we are trying to do: develop character from a basis of spiritual values. For that reason we also try to avoid as much as possible those unnecessary courses which in ordinary universities you have to take whether you like it or not, even when they are not related to the subject you study. If you, for example, study religion you shouldn't be obliged to take courses in mathematics or statistics.

SI: Would you describe that university as a first step to a better society?

YT: Yes, definitely. It is a small drop of contribution to change our troublesome situation to one of peace and harmony. Of course, it needs much more than one little distance-learning school. But with all the little drops we can fill a bottle of water.

SI: What is your vision for the education of the future?

YT: The most important to my mind are right human relationships. The capacity to understand each other, the capacity to love and to share with other people. Therefore, the goal of K.P. University is to be a "university of the heart". Not purely intellectual; but, instead, human emotions, human feelings and values must be given the proper place.

From the April 1999 issue of Share International

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First published April 1999, Last modified: 15-Oct-2005