Throughout early 1950's and early 60's Bhagawan had been repeatedly motivating parents to fulfill the spiritual needs of the children. He insisted that parents should take up the responsibility of moulding the character of children who, in turn, shape the destiny of the nation.
The roots for Bal Vikas took shape in the year 1968 wherein, the Mahila Vibhag was formed. In 1969 Swami instructed Mahila Vibhag to
•"run a Bala Vihar for young children where they will listen to stories from the Scriptures, the Epics, and the Lives of Saints belonging to all religions. Children must also be trained to sing Bhajans, enact small plays with themes selected from the classics. They must be taught to cultivate habits of discipline, for these alone can ensure happiness: both individual and social."
•"The genesis of Bal Vikas is to raise a generation of boys and girls who have a clean and clear conscience. Bal Vikas is the primary basis of the great movement to restore Dharma in the world. The young minds of children are not polluted and hence they can be led into good ways of living, simplicity, humility and discipline."
•"Guide the children in the spiritual path, through simple and moral living; Install in the young minds, the importance of duty, devotion and discipline; Help them understand the five human values, so that they can practice these in their daily lives; Guide them to Love all and Serve all. In short help them grow into worthy citizens to serve the world; identifying the divinity present in all. Education must aim at providing the child not livelihood, but, a life worth living. The promotion of human values must become an integral part of the educational process."
Story Telling methodology was adopted in educating children above six years of age. They were taught on scriptures, mythology, leaders etc. These children were also taught to sing Bhajans.
With the sowing of good seeds in children’s mind’s, they started to develop Good Habits, helping each other thus inculcating a sense of discipline and Devotion.
Prof. Kasturi introduced Play-Way education system imparting noble values, giving insight to Sanathana Dharma. Bhagavan later changed the name of Bala Vihar into Bal Vikas in 1971, redefining the education system created by Him as the system aiming at the Blossoming of Human Excellence.
With changing trends in Technology, Sri Sathya Sai Bal Vikas started adopting to latest techniques. Now children are taught lessons through Videos and audios.
Early in the development of Bal Vikas, Swamy emphasized that
"the Bal Vikas course is designed to impart the values of Sanathana Dharma, the Perennial Virtuous Conduct. It is imperative that the guru teaches this course with full faith and confidence."
Throughout 1980, Swamy continued to elaborate on his concept of ideal education for children. Addressing students in May 1985 He said,
"The process of education involves the process of self-control and self-denial. Wealth, Scholarship, Power and Prestige are all despicable if they are not directed towards moral ends".
As time passed by, slowly and steadily the Bal Vikas Programme designed by Bhagavan for children between 6 years to 14 years of age, in three groups, took shape and with the formation and expansion of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation, Bal Vikas spread far and wide. Training modules were developed, research went in deeper, and with Bhagavan's active and continuous guidance Bal Vikas was crystallized into a 9 year non-formal education system for children enhancing their learning to become role models in character and also in academic performance.
Bal Vikas in Sanskrit means "Blossoming of the Child". Accordingly, rules, regulations and a course syllabus were developed in order to enhance the blossoming of "truth, beauty and goodness" (Satyam, Sivam and Sundaram) in the child.
The aim of Bal Vikas is to foster character development and spiritual transformation and
To inculcate habits of discipline and self-discipline so that students learn to be masters of the mind and not slaves and have absolute control over sense organs.
To engender in children a desire to be of service to all humanity and in this way to be of service to God by helping them learn about the life and teachings of Swami.
To Cultivate Humility, Practice Ceiling on Desires and render Self-less Service.
To train them to be able to discriminate between right and wrong, between truth and non-truth; that is, to follow always the inner promptings of the Divine.
To help children to be fully aware of the Unity underlying all faiths and all mankind.
To guide all children to have Purity and Harmony in Thought, Word and Deed.
To help children realise their conscience and follow that as the path for attaining Divinity
To give priority to the development of character, self-confidence and self-sufficiency.
To foster the understanding and practice of the five inherent human values of Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Love and Non-Violence.
Concepts of Bal Vikas Teaching
The Balavikas course is based on two principles -
Existence of God
Divinity in man
The ultimate aim of Balavikas is to let the child realize that Divinity dwells in him. The child is ignorant that he or she is Divine though pure at heart, soft in physique, tender in mind and nascent in intellect. What you sow, so you will reap. It is here that the teaching techniques assume importance. All the techniques are meant to achieve the two important goals mentioned above. Essence of education and knowledge have been clearly emphasized by Swami as
'The end of education is character'
'The end of knowledge is Love'
Swami says -
"Man is endowed with knowledge, skill, balance and insight, but balance of man is upset today. The cause can be traced to the fact that man is killing knowledge instead of skilling it. As soon as balance is lost, man's insight suffers a setback."
The imbalance caused by the external education is balanced by the skill of human values and thus the imbalance is corrected and balance is restored. To attain the illumination level of the mind, balance is a pre-requisite. Education process that Bhagawan has designed is for the transformation of man into a human with a character of nobility, compassion and love for mankind. It is the Divine education (Brahma Vidya) not just the academic education (Bahya Vidya) which can achieve this.
Balavikas aims to develop the five aspects of child's personality i.e. Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Psychological and Spiritual aspects, by kindling the intrinsic human qualities, thereby achieving a complete, well rounded personality aiming at individual transformation. The skill, maturity, intelligence and commitment of guru lies in helping the child blossom into an excellent personality nurturing the five human values and developing the five attributes of an integrated personality.
Bal Vikas Teaching Methodology
The hall mark of Bal Vikas is that the programme is conducted by devotees who have tremendous commitment, faith and love for Bhagavan and children. The programme has an integrated plan for motivating parents' participation and involvement of students who complete the 9 years course too.
Since the values are inherent in the child, the guru has to gently encourage these values to emerge from within the child by adopting certain teaching methods and helping the children master their minds to become master minds. This task is accomplished by synchronizing the five teaching techniques of Prayer, Silent sitting and Meditation, Group Singing, Story Telling and Group Activities. The Bal Vikas Guru must follow the Divine Principle of "Be, Do and Tell".
"Be, Do and Tell" - Leading by Example
Implementation of Bal Vikas curriculum lays stress on using the Five Teaching Techniques in a systematic and integrated manner. The Five Human Values are elicited through lessons based on the Five Teaching Techniques.
A Bal Vikas Guru teaches through love. It is through love ultimately the desired transformation takes place. When the process of Educare is uppermost in the mind of the guru, the process of teaching and learning becomes experiential and joyful.
For each age group, from young children to teen-age youth the Bal Vikas Guru takes on a specific role linked to psychological development of the child. For Group I, it is that of a mother: discipline established and good behaviour is positively rewarded. In Group II, the teacher takes on the formal teacher's role and the children develop a sense of order and respect for rules. Finally in group III, the teacher is a friend helping the children to develop firm principles and become actively aware of their conscience. In Group I learning is attained through 'doing and making', in Group - II 'doing and thinking' and in Group III 'Planning and Achieving'.
PARENTS - PAY RENT
"One's body is derived from the flesh and blood of the mother. The food you eat, the clothes you wear, the life you lead are all the gift of your parents. It is one's primary duty to please one's parents. Serve your parents." Parent means 'pay rent'. Children should pay the rent of respect and service to parents who gave them the room called body.
Mother is the first guru of the child. "Great mothers create great men". Indian culture emphasizes the importance of mother, father, teacher and God. Swami has said that parents are living Gods. Children are their most valuable treasure. Parenting is nothing other than 'Family Sadhana'.
Parenting Programme of Sri Sathya Sai Balavikas aims at
A - Awareness
I - Induction
M - Motivation
The objectives of parenting programme are :
To fulfill Swami's vision that every home must be a Balavikas class and every mother must be a Balavikas guru. For this we have to work with great momentum.
To highlight the need of individual transformation and the family transformation.
To heighten the parents self - awareness and self - knowledge.
To let every parent get the benefit of Sai experience.
To inculcate the idea not to send parents to old age homes.
All India Workshop on Parenting - 20-21 November, 2007 - Prasanthi Nilayam
On the morning of November 20, Sai Kulwant Hall witnessed the inauguration of the two-day Workshop on Parenting organised by the Education wing of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation. Swami lit the ceremonial lamp at 9.30 am. A vedic invocation and three short speeches followed. The speeches were by Smt.Nimmi Kanwar, Smt.Vidya Srinivasan and Dr.L.Sasi Bala who spearhead the Balvikas and Parenting initiatives of the Sai Organisation. The content was mainly based on inputs that Swami had given at various times on the Bal Vikas programme and the role parents have to play in bringing up their children.
Sri. V. Srinivasan, All India President inaugurating the workshop
Parenting Programme in various states
BV trainers are equipped with material and methodology. Parenting programs are conducted regularly and members of EHV wing and Sai Teachers Forum associate with parenting activity.
Exhibition on dynamic parenting at samithi an taluk levels.
Publication of quarterly news letter on parenting.
Encourage parents to become Balavikas gurus.
Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh
Intensive house to house parent contact: This was done at least once a year through out the state. For this teams comprising of male Samithi members & B.V.Gurus visit all houses of the specified area. Although the questioner [as per B.V.manual] is not filled but its contents are covered during the verbal talks with the parents.
Mothers Meet was conducted at few places. Inviting parents in B.V. classes by respective Gurus.
Exhibition on parenting in urban Samithis.
All the districts have conducted parenting meeting at the Samithi level. All the samithies organize Matru puja where the children worship their parents with all devotion by washing the feet of parents and doing archana by reciting sathya sai Ashtothram.
In school Balvikas, parenting meeting was conducted when the parents mentioned that their children stopped taking non-vegetarian food and prevented their parents from cooking non-vegetarian dishes.
The parents addicted to alcohol changed their habit because of their children who are in Balvikas. The children who attended Balvikas prayed to Bhagawan to change the habit of their parents.
The constant pressure exerted by the children brought about a favourable attitudinal change in the parents.
The workshop on parenting facilitated an understanding and adjustment between daughters in law and mothers in law. It helped in eliminating the animosity between the in laws.
Parenting has helped the youngsters to respect the elders and the elders to understand the problems of the youngsters.
The great weakness among the parents noticed in the parenting programme is that they were highly interested in the academic achievements of their children. It took great deal of time to convince them of the importance of overall personality development consisting of emotional, mental, intellectual, psychological and spiritual dimensions.
The parents who were ready to go for divorce actually changed their ideas as the programme on parenting helped them to shed their egoistic attitude and helped in bringing about a positive change in their mental outlook.
Successful Parenting programme and balvikas have helped the parents to join in the organization either as Balvikas Gurus or sevadals .One person has become a samithi convenor too.
The Parenting Exhibition with sub titles in Regional Language held at Samiti Level was a Great Success.
Parenting Workshops -- Quiz, Dialogues etc. with active participation of the parents held
Funfair with a spiritual themes - where both Parents and children together participated was also a success.
"Children are the crops growing in the fields, to yield the harvest on which the nation has to sustain itself. They are the pillars on which the future of the nation is built. They are the roots of the national tree, which has to give the fruits of Work, Worship and Wisdom to the next generations."
Following the promptings of Bhagavan, the mothers gradually changed their attitudes from 'my children' to 'our children' treading the path shown by Bhagavan in the journey of 'From I to We' and started Bal Vikas Classes in the villages and in the neighbourhood and started seeing mankind beyond the narrow corridors of home, caste, colour, creed and religion. It was in 1974 that Bhagavan gave a new identity to the teachers of Bal Vikas as 'Gurus'. It was the beginning of the expansion of Bal Vikas.
Devotees took up the clarion call of Bhagavan and in one year by 1975, the number of Trained Gurus rose to 3,500 and little over 50,000 children were encouraged to join Bal Vikas. It was also decided to make Easwaramma Day Celebrations as an integral part of the Bal Vikas Programme.
In the early 1970s a Bal Vikas programme was begun in the United Kingdom. In 1977, Swami's devotees started Bal Vikas in United States of America. The Bal Vikas programme began to spread rapidly to other countries all over the world.. and in 1981, a conference for the overseas teachers was held in Prasanthi Nilayam. It was in this conference, the concept of Education in Human Values was introduced. In 1983, the 15th anniversary of Bal Vikas was held in Prasanthi Nilayam. In 1995 at the Sixth World Conference, in order to emphasise the Universality of the Bal Vikas Programme, it was decided to change the name to Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) in countries outside of India.
Bal Vikas classes are designed for children whose parents are primarily devotees of Bhagavan. The core content relates to the Five Universal Human Values of Truth, Right Action, Peace, Love and Non-Violence. In the early 1980s a modification of the Bal Vikas programme was developed for children whose parents were not devotees of Baba. It was given the name Sathya Sai Education in Human Values. It promotes Character development and seeks to instill in the students, a respect and reverence for nature and for the rights of others.
Formation of Sri Sathya Sai Bala Vihar in Bombay.
The First All India Bal Vihar Teachers' Conference held at Bombay.
1971 - Bhagavan renamed Bal Vihar as Bal Vikas and clarified the objectives of child education which were to promote the blossoming of the values of Truth, Beauty and Goodness. Formal structure was given to Bal Vikas with rules and regulations for conducting the classes. Syllabus was drawn up and the First Manual for Teachers was developed. Aims of Bal Vikas were clearly defined as Vikas or Blossoming in respect of
· Deha Vikas (Physical Development or Blossoming of Body)
· Mano Vikas (Mental Development or Blossoming of Mind)
· Buddhi Vikas (Development or Blossoming of Intellect)
· Bhava Vikas (Development or Blossoming of qualities of Heart)
· Atma Vikas (Development or Blossoming of Spirit)
First Issue of magazine in the name of 'Sri Sathya Sai Bala Vikas' released.
The Second All India Conference for Teachers was conducted at Rajahmundry, AP. Bhagavan addressed teachers as 'Gurus', clarifying that Guru is one who dispels darkness and helps the child to understand divinity within and in the Universe. Bhagavan directed that an All India Training Course be organized to enhance the quality and to bring in uniformity in Bal Vikas Education. A Three stage curriculum was developed here.
The Third Conference was held in Prasanthi Nilayam. Bhagavan stressed upon personal Sadhana for Gurus leading to synchronization between one's thought, word and deed. He directed the Gurus to teach with Love, through Love and Blend Love through Discipline. Baba always directed the gurus - "Be, Do and Tell". Without practicing the human values, Gurus cannot acquire the moral authority to influence the children. Syllabus for Group III was prepared in this conference.
Bal Vikas was introduced to other countries.
All India Rally of over 2000 Bal Vikas students from all states held in the presence of Bhagavan in Prasanthi Nilayam.
Scientific Research of Bal Vikas Programme in Bombay and Bhopal conducted by Professors of Bombay University.
The Fourth Conference was organized in Prasanthi Nilayam. Bhagavan motivated the Gurus to adopt and propagate 'Ceiling on Desires'. Bhagavan revealed Non-Violence includes saving on food, water, energy, time and money, and how waste leads to violence. Baba stressed on how desires ignite violence and the only remedy to curb violence is to minimize desires.
First All India Examination in Group III for Bal Vikas students held.
Introduction of 'Diploma in Sai education'
Sri Sathya Sai Bal Vikas - Central Training Camp for Gurus at Brindavan, Bangalore
In the 3rd World Conference of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, at Prasanthi Nilayam Swamy introduced Ceiling on Desires Programme. He said "Children must be taught not to waste Food, Water, Time, Energy and Money".
Second All India Rally of Bal Vikas students from all states held in the immediate presence of Bhagavan in Prasanthi Nilayam.
A conference for the overseas teachers was held in Prasanthi Nilayam. It was in this conference, the concept of Education in Human Values was introduced.
Central Training of Overseas Bal Vikas Gurus and Group III Bal Vikas Gurus in Prasanthi Nilayam
Parenting Workshop at Prashanti Nilayam.
'Glory of Sai', Children's Festival in the Divine Presence at Prashanti Nilayam. First Convention of Bal Vikas Past Students at Prashanti Nilayam. All India Bal Vikas Gurus' Conference.