The paradisal parody at ‘the Abode of Supreme Peace’

The God who says that he alone among all knows that he is God sails by, now in a bizarre motorised silver traditional Indian chariot (a converted jeep!), now in a Mercedes or a Jaguar, now standing majestically in a golden chariot tugged on ropes by rows of serflike figures… all the while making nonchalant royal gestures with a mostly superior and unconcerned, sometimes apparently bored, gaze. Around him on the hard ground or harder marble flooring (depending on the locale) sit cross-legged devotees who have awaited his appearance for several hours at the least. These are also said by him to be gods, yet gods who are unaware of this fact (even though he tells them) and who are mostly worthless as devotees (in his repeated railings) and who are 90% faithless, sub-human and many of whom he later says are ‘demons’ (those who eventually leave him and criticise him). He tells them to ‘Wait! Wait!’ and motions those who raise onto one knee or to their feet to stay down, down! Like faithful dogs ‘Sit!’ For ‘He’ is God not dog, like you and I! Previously, many were allowed to prostrate themselves at his feet, some lying full length flat on their faces to kiss them. Sathya Sai Baba quite evidently throve on all this for about 60-odd years, until he decided that it was not the right thing to do. (He also told in a weird discourse how his long-dead mother had appeared as a wraith and in concern for her son informed him and his bedfellow boys that he was thus in danger of having poison put on his feet).

From all appearances and reports by any follower of Sathya Sai Baba , he is always in control of the situation, not least because most devotees regard him as in control… not just of the ashram but of the fate of everyone alive and of the entire universe! The followers see themselves as pawns in ‘his drama’, whereby he divided himself in two to create the cosmos, by far the larger part of which he says is God… the small fragment being the physical universe etc. He identified himself as the omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God! This is a claim of some magnitude.

So the question as to why he does so many things that contradict his claims of omniscience and allows terrible things to happen even within his ashram is therefore seen as ‘an inexplicable divine mystery’. The worried, po-faced mass, with few exceptions, smile hopefully when Sathya Sai Baba gets near them. (Apropos, Sathya Sai Baba himself told the veranda VIPs plus students and teachers present on his 61st birthday when he finally came out of his apartment, "I am not 61. I am only 16. You are all 61, with your worried faces.") Sathya Sai Baba strolls past the supplicants, most often in sovereign disregard, now and again picking out some for interviews (nearly always groups with young men), taking some of the hundreds of letters, smiling at a few, slapping the shoulder or cheek of another. This is about what the long-awaited darshan amounts to.

To make it seem meaningful, most devotees who get no attention – including ca. 95% of the women – , have to rack their brains to make something positive out of it all, and find something in his chance movements or the like that could somehow apply to them personally. A mere word is treasured for days and weeks. But has it any value? Sometimes it seems to. But Sathya Sai Baba ’s words and actions have become so exorbitantly out of step with one another that the chief mystery is how long followers can go on not becoming fully aware of this!

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