Abortive pregnancies or Sathya Sai Baba's missing sisters?
by Åsa Samsioe, Sweden
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When Easwaramma entered her eight pregnancy her mother in law vowed a series of Sathyanarayana pujas in order to be blessed with a grandson, N Kasturi wrote in his book about Sathya Sai Baba´s mother Easwaramma the chosen mother. (p 20)
One can read in the article: Easwaramma, Mother Most Blessed click here to view it:
God for a son!.......... Like Krishna for Devaki, Sathya was Easwaramma's eighth child.
Where are then the other four children? We know that Sathya Sai Baba had only three older siblings, when he was born. Easwaramma´s oldest child was Sathya Sai Baba´s brother Seshama Raju, who was succeeded by two sisters Venkamma and Parvathamma.
According to N Kasturi Easwaramma had four abortive pregnancies in a series, after the birth of her second daughter and before she gave birth to Sathya Sai Baba. (p 19) In Sathyam Sivam Sundaram, part I, p 5, by the same author, you can read: Some years passed and Easwaramma longed for another son. She prayed to the village gods and observed Sathyanarayana Puja and kept a number of vows, which were rigorous and needed vigil and abstention from food.
Obviously both Easwaramma and her mother in law prayed to the village gods for another son! And Easwaramma even exposed herself to different hardships to get her wish for a son come true. Why not just pray for a healthy child, who was alive, after all those abortive pregnancies? And what was wrong with Easwaramma before she gave birth to Sathya Sai Baba?
In the last few years there have been some writing about the son preference in India and its effect on the sex ratios.
In the French journal L'Express from August 2003, there is for example a reportage named Inde Le pays qui ne veut pas de filles. (India The country which doesn't want daughters).
The roots of son preference in India lie in deeply entrenched social, cultural and economic discrimination against women and girls.
A daughter is considered to be an economic liability to her parents because of the heavy dowry payment demanded by the groom's family. There is also the high cost of the wedding, which is generally the responsibility of the bride's family to bear. And after the marriage the daughters may have little continuing contact with their natal family.
There is an old Indian locution which compares the bringing up of daughters with the tending of a sapling planted in the neighbour's garden.
The birth of a son is perceived as an opportunity for upward mobility, while the birth of a daughter is believed to result in downward economic mobility. Sons are expected to support their parents in old age and are therefore viewed as a source of social security. Also in strict Hindu tradition salvation in the afterlife can only be achieved if a son lights his parents funeral pyre.
As the infant mortality rates tend to be high for both Indian boys and girls, parents tend to produce numerous offspring in the hope that at least two sons will survive to adulthood.
According to UNICEF India is the kingdom of the invisible daughters and there are approximately about 40 millions missing females. These females ought to have been present in India if the sex ratios were on par with the world. Natural populations tend to have more females than males. According to L´Express there are 1050 females per 1000 males in Europe, but according to Census of India 2001, there are only 933 females per 1000 males in India. But what happens to all those missing females, then? They are murdered at birth, mistreated or never allowed to be born.
The unwantedness of girl children manifests itself not only in female infanticide, but also in selective abortion of female foetuses and neglect of girl children, leading to excess female child mortality..... Deliberate discrimination against girl children takes several forms: nutritional denial such as inadequate breast feeding and early weaning; insufficient or delayed medical care; lack of attention, causing emotional deprivation and insufficient investment in resources. All these have been documented as leading to excess mortality in the female child, Dr Sabu M George, Prasanth Nagar, Medical College, Trivandrum, India, writes in the article Female infanticide in Tamil Nadu, India: From Recognition Back to Denial?, taken from site: harvard.edu/ see http://www.safetylit.org/citations/index.php?fuseaction=citations.viewdetails&citationIds%5B%5D=citjournalarticle_100729_23
The lack of females in India has been so obvious lately, that the authorities have forbidden the gynecologists to reveal the gender of the unborn child for the parents (L'Express August 20039. But progress in technology has worsened the situation for women in India and have made it possible to determine the sex of the foetus, which has made female foeticide easy, convenient and cheap. The use of genetic testing for the purpose of sex selection has become a thriving industry in many parts of India. There are doctors who are advertising aggressively: Invest Rs 500 now, save Rs 50 000 later. i.e. If you get rid of your daughter now, you will not have to spend money on dowry. (Indiatogether.org- august 2003)
Dr. Vibhuti Patel´, Centre for Women's Studies, Department of Economics, University of Mumbai, writes in the article Locating the Context of the Declining Sex Ratio And New Reproductive Technologies publicized in The Quarterly Journal of Opinion, July 2003:
In Andhra Pradesh (note: Sathya Sai Baba's place of abode; my addition), Chattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharshtra, Manipur, Orissa, Pondicherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamilnadu, Uttaranchal and West Bengal; the juvenile sex ratio is lower than the overall sex ratio of the respective states. As a result of sex-determination and sex-preselection tests leading to selective abortions of female foetuses, sex ratio of the child population has declined to 927 girls for 1000 boys. Sixty lakh female infants and girls are "missing" due to abuse of amniocentesis, chorion villi Biopsy, sonography, ultrasound and imaging techniques. Sex pre-selection techniques prevent arrival of female baby at a pre-conception state. Even anti- abortionists use this method to get baby boys, as it does not involve ´Blood-bath`."
But in spite of sex pre-selection techniques "blood-bath" does occur in India - even today.
On http://www.pointofview.org/missingwomen.htm (no longer available) one could read this heartbreaking description: "As soon as the baby girl was born, my mother-in-law kicked it with her toe and said, who wants this?' She wrapped it in a wet towel and left it on the floor. My husband's sister, weak after the delivery, just wept. It died within a few hours." Palanianmma from Nalampalli, Tamil Nadu, describes the birth and death of her sister-in-law's third daughter: the unnamed, unacknowledged girl child whose father longed for a son.
But what have all those things to do with Easwaramma? In the circumstances described above, the question is: Did she really have four (!!) abortive pregnancies? Even if N. Kasturi writes that the elders attributed those abortive pregnancies of Easwaramma to black magic, there is the probability that it might rather have been infanticide of female children or perhaps a mixture of abortive pregnancies and infanticide which Easwaramma had to go through. We don't know for certain and will never know, but as a matter of fact she had already given birth to two girls in succession but only one son. Her husband, Sathya Sai Baba´s father was very poor and could hardly afford a third daughter.
In "Swami's Schooldays - Divine Discourse for Students, Sathya Sai Baba says: I did not have a single paisa. The father to this body belonged to four families and could not afford much... In those days I had only one ordinary pair of knickers and one ordinary shirt.
According to Sathya Sai Baba´s parting gift from his father, when he went with his elder brother Seshama Raju to Kamalaapuram, M.N.Rao writes in his book God And His Gospel, p 126: "At Puttapathi his father´s family income was mostly in kind and meagre in cash. One can imagine the economic status of the conjoint family, when the father and head of the family Pedda Venkapa Raaju gave the son a parting gift of two annas (1/8 of a rupee). And was it to be spared from the dowry, that Venkamma, Sathya Sai Baba's elder sister had to be married within the family i.e. to her mother's brother?
There are no good data on the number of cases of female infanticide in India, but recent research has shown that female infanticide has been practised in rural Tamil Nadu (the neighbor province of Andhra Pradesh) unnoticed by outsiders for many decades. Besides Andhra Pradesh is among those nine provinces in a study, which are known for high rates of sex-selective abortions.
The villages in which female infanticide occur tend to be remote with less educated population than villages with no cases of female infanticide. They are located in a hilly and more isolated part of the block and cut off from outside influences...., Sabu M George writes. Seems to be a good description of Puttaparthi!
If I am right in those suspicions of mine, it isn't hard to imagine the enormous psychological impact that those potential tragic events then would have had on Sathya Sai Baba! What will happen to a little boy who has to compensate his poor mother for the death of perhaps as many as four girl children? Would it be compensation enough if he became God the Father Himself? That's a cut above the family members original high hopes of his joining the prestigious government service. Who has never heard or read that Sathya Sai Baba, who always boasts about his human values (which he doesn't practice himself), is concerned with the treatment of girls and women in his own Bharath? On the contrary he is stuck to the male chauvinistic view of women, which is responsible for those 40 millions missing females.
Today, girls want to compete with boys in every field. They also aspire for name and fame. Their argument is, ´In what way are we inferior to boys? Why can't we acquire the same type of education as boys?` Sathya Sai Baba says in his discourse from 15 January 2004. Perhaps those girls only wish is to be able to earn their own living for the purpose of supporting themselves and their potential girl children and hence escape from the cruel fate of female infanticide or feticide?
Do not give room for differences based on language, religion, caste or nationality. Develop the feeling that all are children of God, Sathya Sai Baba says. What about the difference based on gender in his own Bharat which according to him, basks in the light of divinityand is the center of peace and security?