Some comments by psychologist Åsa Samsioe, Sweden

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Once more Sathya Sai Baba’s devotees have got their “spiritual” nourishment from their “master”. I wonder when the food he gives them will stick in their throats. How is it possible to disregard those conspicuous manipulations, logical somersaults, unspiritual teachings, rough generalizations and cliché-ridden declarations?

“The mother is like the body and the father, the Atma.” Sathya Sai Baba tells his devotees. But just before that he has also informed them: “Now, what is the nature of this body? This body is a den of dirt, and prone to diseases... It is nothing but a structure of bones.”
Are his devotees supposed to interpret this utterance of his as just another example of his depreciation of women?

Another statement of his: “In fact, every drop of your blood is the contribution of your parents. You owe your existence in this world to the love of your parents. Hence, whenever there is a need for blood donation, you should come forward to donate your blood.” How far Sathya Sai Baba ’s rather crude literalism is from Jesus´symbolism and wonderful parables!

But Sathya Sai Baba isn’t just rude. He is also cunning. And he has got his own strategies in order to manipulate his devotees. One of these is to give hints to his devotees regarding what he wants them to do. But to eliminate all possible suspicions that he gives these hints because of his own personal and egoistical reasons, he also arranges smoke-screens by asserting the opposite opinions:
“Significantly, this New Year's Day started on a Thursday.” (He wants devotees to worship him on Thursdays!) But then he adds:
“It is one's foolishness to single out a particular day in a year and celebrate that day with great joy. “

And another (much worse) example:
“In fact, God is the real owner of the wealth acquired by you. The money you earn belongs to God's Trust. God Himself is the President of the Trust.” (Donate all your money to The Sathya Sai Trust!) But to be on the safe side, he has also just before that informed his devotees that “the old students of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning have brought a cheque for Rs. 48 lakhs to present to Swami as a token of their love and service,” but he did not at all want that cheque for himself or for his “Trust”!
He explains: “Therefore, I told them, "My dear ones! You deposit the money in the bank and undertake the service activities with the interest accrued on the amount." How noble of Him! Then he must be exonerated from all suspicions! And at the same time he has made perfectly clear to his other devotees that this sort of behavior will make them very dear to him.

Actually Sathya Sai Baba gives a lot of emphasis to sacrifice in this New Year discourse. The reason for that is probably a prevailing shortage of money in The Sathya Sai Trust nowadays: “Prepare yourself for sacrifices. You will find eternal bliss only in sacrifice. There is no use contemplating on God without making sacrifice...... One who does not make sacrifice will not find peace anywhere.... What ultimately comes along with you at the time of leaving the body is the sin or merit you have accumulated and not the wealth you have acquired.” (Here he even tries to manipulate his devotees with veiled threats!)

Not a word in this New Year discourse about how to deal with the prevailing rampant violence in the world of today and the Golden Age which he has promised his yearning devotees! No, no, his main concern seems to circle around the money which “belongs to God’s trust” even if he does his best to convince his devotees that his only interest is to engage them in service to their fellow human beings. And obviously it is also his concern to provide blood donors for his hospitals. He treats his devotees as if they were cattle. Where are the loving and soothing words from the guru, which would give his devotees hope for the future?

Another way of manipulating his devotees is by mentioning all those things he himself is accused of by his ex-devotees, as bad examples. Perhaps he believes that this will take the sting out of the allegations and will make himself more credible if he to demonstrates his disgust at those things: “Man today is giving sermons to others. But he himself is not following his precepts. What values will such teachings have? All this is mere deception.” Yet actually he is the master deceiver!

Other examples:
“You want to earn great wealth and build big mansions. Devoid of good qualities, all the wealth that you earn becomes mere waste.” Yet he wants your donations to build big mansions and monuments to himself and I am far from being the first one to question his good qualities!

“Whatever pleasures you enjoy with the help of this human body, you will have to leave all those pleasures as well as the body itself in a trice one day or the other. Should you have to undergo so many trials and tribulations for the sake of these momentary pleasures?” Does Sathya Sai Baba now regret his sexual molestations because of the trials and tribulations he surely has had to go through as a consequence of the allegations and the bad name he now has to put up with? (even if he is too sick mentally to experience feelings of guilt for what he has done to his victims) Is he also realizing that his failing health sooner or later will force him to give up his body?"

Another characteristic of his are all those tiresome generalizations. And this discourse is no exception:
“It is the mother that is responsible for the children earning reputation and fame. If children wish to earn good name, they should obey the command of their mother.” I don’t know the customs in India, but in Sweden both parents are responsible for their children and I suppose that Sweden also belongs to the world.

“The Bharatiyas (Indians) are really fortunate. They have all facilities. But the quality of love is missing in them.” Isn’t that utterance of his rather remarkable? I always thought that love is the very foundation for spirituality and that the Indians are the spiritual engine for the world. And now Sathya Sai Baba tells us that the quality of love is missing in them! Doesn’t he insult his own compatriots with this rough generalization?

Another rather remarkable thing which he mentions over and over again is the story about Abraham Lincoln. Probably he identifies himself with him. Like Abraham Lincoln he is the poor and ill-treated boy who rose to an “exalted position”. But he doesn’t seem to realize that he doesn’t share Abraham Lincoln’s ability to “command respect from all people by his good behavior”.
And why does he always give prominence to earning “name and fame”? I thought that ego and pride are something every earnest spiritual seeker should give up? Doesn’t Sathya Sai Baba realize that mental desires like the wish for power and control over others and the desire for name and fame are as malign and unspiritual as the material ones?

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, the advaitist - a much more sophisticated thinker than Sathya Sai Baba - gave the following answer to a question from one of his devotees, (Why is life so full of contradictions?) which stands in stark contrast to the content in Sathya Sai Baba ´s discourses:
“It serves to break down mental pride. We must realize how poor and powerless we are. As long as we delude ourselves by what we imagine ourselves to be, to know, to have, to do, we are in a sad plight indeed. Only in complete self- negation there is a chance to discover our real being.... The false self must be abandoned before the real self can be found.” (I Am That, p 110-111)

But in reality it seems as if Sathya Sai Baba is actually puffing up both his own ego and those of his devotees. How flattering to be one of those few people in the world who is chosen and called by Sathya Sai Baba , “God Himself”! And what function does an interview from him have but puffing up his devotees! The repeated platitudes which Sathya Sai Baba is pouring out to them could hardly make them more spiritually inclined. And how proud are actually those devotees who still belong to the “wheat” and not to the “chaff” (i.e. those who remained uncritical and those who did not)?

Regarding swamis with big egos, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj also told us:
“All those who proclaim their own greatness and uniqueness are not ´gnanis` (those who have realized the unity of all things in Brahman). They are mistaking some unusual development for realization. The gnani shows no tendency to proclaim himself to be a gnani. He considers himself to be perfectly normal, true to his real nature. Proclaiming oneself to be an omnipotent and omniscient deity is a clear sign of ignorance.” (I Am That, p 193)

See other articles by Åsa Samsioe:-