days I hear all my young birdies
talking about their exams. They
are so frightened of failure, so
nervous for success.
These student years are ones
which are meant to be full of
learning, full of enrichment,
full of new horizons.
They come to me and they say,
say a prayer for me so I can pass
Of course, my young birdies are
always in my prayers; however,
being a student is not simply
about passing your tests.
To me, your student years are a
Seriousness, Trial & error,
Encouragement, Nav Jivan and
Your educational years should be
enjoyable and full of rich, new
experiences. However, this is not a time
to just sit back, relax and wait for the
world to carry you along. It is a time in
which you must be serious about your
studies, serious about your goals and
serious about your future. If you become
lax about your schoolwork, it will be
easy to slip behind. Then, it becomes
like quicksand. Once you are behind, it
is so difficult to catch up that the task
becomes daunting and one is tempted to
just say, "forget it."
Therefore, it is crucial to stay on top
of things from the beginning.
Most importantly, don't miss a class. In
university, especially, it is very
tempting to just "sleep in" one
day or to skip one class in order to
catch up on work for another. However,
going to class, paying attention and
taking notes is the single most important
thing you can do. No amount of catch-up
reading at home or copying from a
friend's notes will make up for what was
missed in class.
Be serious about your studies. Make them
your priority. Be serious about your
classes and your work.
T- Trial and Error:
The time of youth and student-life,
especially when you live away from home
in the dorms, is a time of trial and
error. You are just discovering who you
are, what your priorities are, what your
dreams are, what your values are. When
you live under your parents' roof, you
) according to their
rules and their set of values. But, once
you are on your own you must figure this
out for yourself. You must weigh that
which you learned at home against that
which you are seeing amongst your peers
and in the outside world.
You will make mistakes. Of course you
will. Don't worry. Don't be afraid of
making them. It is our mistakes that
teach us, our mistakes that make us
strong, our mistakes that give us the
resolve and the fortitude to say,
"never again." It is only
through making mistakes that we can ever
really know, "Oh that was a
mistake." Just as the word
"light" would be meaningless
without a "dark" to compare it
to, so we can not be sure of that which
is right, unless we can contrast it to
that which is wrong.
This is not a license to go out and
engage in reckless, hedonistic, decadent
behavior. This is not a go-ahead to make
mistakes on purpose or to do things which
you know are wrong. You don't have to put
your hand in fire just to "make
sure" that it really burns, or to
put your finger in a light socket just to
"see what happens." You already
know fire burns and you have already been
taught not to put your fingers in
So, please, my little birdies, be
careful. Take what you've been taught
into consideration. However, you will
still have to find your own way. Your
parents can not hold your hand through
life, and in these years you will have to
make your own choices. You will have to
experiment and decide what is right for
you and what is wrong.
However, before you make any decision,
before you jump into any situation, just
stop for a moment, pause and ask
yourself, "how will I feel tomorrow
if I do this? How will I feel about
myself when I look in the mirror? How
will I feel when I close my eyes and talk
to God?" If you know in advance that
you will regret it, if you know that you
will repent, then, please, don't do it.
This is the time in your life in which
you must cultivate understanding in your
hearts. If you don't cultivate it now, it
will be very hard later to embrace all
Try always to walk in other peoples'
shoes. Before you criticize or condemn
anyone else, ask yourself what it would
be like to be in their situation.
Although your time in these student years
will mostly be taken with your academic
work, you must always remember that a
rich spiritual life and a deep connection
to God are the greatest education, the
greatest wealth and the greatest success
anyone can obtain. You may get the best
marks, the most prestigious degree, the
top job and the highest salary, but
without a connection to God in your life,
all else is in vain.
There was once a man who was selling a
horse. He told the prospective buyer,
"My horse is the most beautiful
horse you've ever seen. His skin is the
shiniest, his coat is the brightest, his
mane is the softest, his legs are the
longest. He is large and strong and regal
looking. He won all the contests of
beauty and speed." The prospective
buyer asked the man, "Tell me, is
there anything wrong with the horse? He
"Well," the horse-owner said.
"There is one small defect. The
horse is dead."
Without a spiritual connection, without a
deeper meaning, without the presence of
God in our lives, we become like the dead
horse - beautiful on the outside,
prosperous, successful, but missing that
divine heart beat which keeps us going.
If you put two zeros together, you get
00. This is nothing. But if you add a 1
in front of them, you get 100. If you
have four zeros, you still only have
zero. Even if you have a hundred zeros,
it is still equal only to zero. But, if
you add that 1 in front of them, then the
number multiplies and grows. 0000 is
nothing. But add a 1 and you get 10,000!
That "1" is God. We may
accumulate and acquire all the zeros in
the whole world, but if we don't have a
"1" then we are still only
equal to zero.
So, be Number 1 in school, be Number 1 in
your extracurricular activities, be
Number 1 in all your endeavors. However,
don't forget the real Number 1. The real
Number 1 is God. It is only He who can
turn 0000 into 10,000! If you keep Him as
your Number 1, your life will be magic.
E stands for "encourage."
Encourage whom? Encourage yourselves.
These years are times in which it is easy
to become discouraged; so frequently I
hear my youth bemoaning, "But,
Swamiji, I can't do it. I'm just not
smart enough." Or, "Swamiji,
maybe I'm not meant to be
successful." Or, "Swamiji, I'm
so afraid of letting my parents
You must keep your spirits high. You must
remember that you are divine and
wonderful. You CAN do it! Whatever you
want to do, you can do!
Look at Hanumanji. He was able to jump
across the entire ocean. He was able to
carry an entire mountain in his hands.
Why? Because of his faith in Bhagwan
Rama. You, too, must cultivate that
faith. It doesn't have to be Bhagwan
Rama. That's no problem. Whatever name or
form of God you pray to is fine. But,
have faith. If a small monkey can fly
across oceans and carry mountains through
faith in God, then you, too, can succeed
beautifully if you keep Him in your
N- Nav Jivan (New
The time when you go from being a child
at home to being a student off at
university is a time in which you are
born into a new life. One moment you are
a child, and all your needs are taken
care of by your parents. They are always
there -- 24 hours a day -- watching out
for you. They are there to help you, to
care for you, to make sure you eat
properly and sleep on time. They are
there to guide you and to provide a
structured, balanced life.
However, once you leave home and move
into the dorms or into an apartment, the
responsibility becomes yours. There is no
one there to tell you to eat your
breakfast, or to tell you to go to sleep.
There is no one there to prevent you from
watching TV all night or from talking on
the phone with friends until the wee
hours of the morning. There is no one
sitting up until you come home safely
from your evening out.
When you live at home, under your
parents' supervision, a part of you knows
that you will always be
"caught" and will never be able
to go too far astray. Therefore, you may
rebel, you may disobey the rules, you may
push their boundaries. The deeper you
knows that they will always be there
looking out for you.
However, once you have moved out of the
house, that is no longer the case. Now
you are on your own. The responsibility
of caring for you is now yours alone.
You are now traversing the threshold from
child to adult. This Nav Jivan (New Life)
can be whatever you make it. The choice
is now yours. When I was young, doing
sadhana in the Himalayas, a great saint
told me, "Bolo Jivan kaisa hai?
Jaisa banalo vaisa hai. Chaihe is ko
narak banalo, chaihe is ko swarg banalo.
Bolo jivan kaisa hai? Jaisa banalo vaisa
hai." It means, "What is life?
Life is what you make it. You can make it
Hell, or you can make it Heaven. The
choice is yours. What is life? Life is
whatever you make it."
So, take a pledge that you will make your
new life Heaven, not only for yourself,
but for all of humanity. It is said that
one of the greatest gifts from God is the
gift of human birth. Through this human
birth you can do wonders. Do not limit
yourselves. Do not underestimate
Nothing in life comes easily other than
love for God! That which we want we have
to work for. Your studies will be
difficult at times. Sometimes they will
seem to require more of you than you are
able to give. At other times during these
years, your life may seem to fall apart
-- that is part and parcel of being an
adolescent. Our lives are torn down, then
rebuilt again, each time with the pieces
more firmly in place, each time with the
foundation a little more solid. You must
not lose hope; you must never give up.
There is a current, tragic epidemic of
teenage depression, drug abuse and
suicide. These youth don't know how to
hold on through the difficult times. In
the limited vision of adolescence, they
are unable to see the light at the end of
My birdies, you must hold on. Whether it
is a difficult class, a difficult
project, a difficult relationship, or a
difficult time, just hold on with faith
that God will pull you through. There is
a beautiful saying, simple and yet
profound. Keep it as your mantra during
those times which may seem to be
unbearable. The mantra is "this too
We move through life, shedding layer
after layer of the old, as we don newer
and newer layers of maturity, wisdom and
experience. That which today seems
unbearable will be but a memory tomorrow.
Feel it, experience it, learn from it,
but never let anything leave you dejected
or hopeless. There is always a brighter
tomorrow, as we move -- day by day --
closer to God.
There is a beautiful line in one of our
prayers which says, "Tu akela nahin
pyare; Ram tere sath mein." It
means, you are never alone. The Lord is
always with you. Never feel lonely. Never
feel scared. Never feel hopeless. Just
close your eyes and realize that God is
walking by your side, holding your hand
So, remain tenacious. Remain strong. Keep
doing that which is right -- study hard,
be honest and kind, live a life of purity
and integrity. Never give up.