SATHYA SAI BABA'S PROMISES OF HEALTH AND PROTECTION
OF SPIRITUAL HEALING
AND DIVINE PROTECTION
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Sathya Sai Baba hands out many personal promises to people in private interviews.
Such promises are reported in many books about him. One standard format
of his is, "I will look after everything", another is, "I give you a
long life, healthy life, happy life!". (Unasked, he made both of these
'promises to me'- yet I can hardly be said to have a healthy life since
then, having still suffered chronic back and neck problems that have
kept me away from work for nearly 20 years). Other assurances he gives
are, "I shall protect you"; "I will build an iron wall around you!"
and "I give you liberation, you will not have to take on another body!"
To what extent does the evidence
back up these 'divine assurances'? This is a moot question, and it is
one that people long to believe is always fulfilled. But this is certainly
not the case! Even the adulatory literature contains references to instances
of this, but experience has taught me that many instances are not talked
about in the strongly self-censored books about Sathya Sai Baba.
To start with the simpler promises
like "I will give interview tomorrow", "I will visit your home" etc.
When Sathya Sai Baba does not follow up as promised, it is said by the
faithful that Sathya Sai Baba has divine sense of time which differs
from ours -so when he says 'yes, interview tomorrow' he may mean any
time in the future etc. A thousand years is as nothing to him! This
sounds crazy - but if one believes that Sathya Sai Baba is God Almighty
Himself, then it seems just about credible. But then it is literally
a simple deception, for God would have to know how each person understands
what he promises them. It is now common knowledge that there have been
a considerable number of suicides due to Sathya Sai Baba's not keeping
his word. A whole family of five was poisoned by the father (and few
survived) after Sathya Sai's broken assurances. These he makes
very freely and often sweepingly in interviews and also in discourses
about protecting all who put their faith in him.
One argument frequently heard
among devotees is based on what the long-term and very close follower,
Dr. John Hislop, wrote in his book 'My Baba and I'. Dr. John Hislop asked for
permission to publish it, but was told by Sathya Sai Baba he must wait
20 years. However, after 2 years, Hislop received a message from Sathya
Sai Baba saying he should publish straight away. The credulous Hislop
had searched for one guru after another, including Yogananda, Krishnamurthi,
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and U Ba Thin leaving each in disappointment.
He became a keen rationalised of Sathya Sai Baba's often impenetrably
unclear or fantastic assertions, and puts it down to Sai Baba
having a cosmic perspective and eternal sense of time that no one can
understand (as Sai Baba had asserted). This became standard doctrine
among the majority of disappointed, bemused and betrayed followers so
as to save what faith they can after years of major involvement and
personal commitment etc.
Sathya Sai Baba capitalises on
people's uncertainty and ignorance of anything to do with real truth
by ever reaffirming to people that they are uncertain and ignorant.
Sathya Sai Baba has insisted that he alone knows the right timing for
everything and acts accordingly. When, in so many instances, he does
not keep his word, he puts the blame on the person he made promises
to for not having asked from the heart or that something about them
was not genuine, or that they were simply not ready or worthy to receive
his grace etc. A good headmaster of a school is just in his judgments
and equal-handed in his rewards and punishments. An experienced master
uses the carrot and backs it up when it fails to work by the stick.
Sathya Sai Baba's visible and invisible rewards (i.e. as promised for
the future) are supposed exceed the punishments he is thought eventually
to mete out to those who accept positions of trust then seriously let
him down. So all his promises have to be taken in the context of this
unintelligible cosmic plan which he claims alone to know and effect...
and this actually makes them as unreliable in terms of human experience
as anything can be. He can't lose and you can't win, as long as you
accept his vast claims at face value!
Dominic Kennedy wrote in The
Times (27/8/01) of three British followers of Sathya Sai Baba who
took their own lives: "an investigation by The Times today discloses
that three British men have apparently taken their own lives after becoming
followers of the miracle worker. Two of them were encouraged to believe
that he could cure their medical problems. One of those also said that
he had been touched intimately by the Sai Baba."
We may take as a further example of
Sathya Sai Baba's failed promises, the constantly ill and suffering
Mrs. Phyllis Krystal, an elderly lady devotee for decades from the US,
who has written about some of her experiences of Sathya Sai Baba. She
described her chronic and terrible headaches, which Sai Baba
diagnosed as due to five different kinds of headache (see 'The Ultimate
Experience'- publ. Samuel Weiser Inc.). She went through some kind of
intensification of her symptoms while with Sathya Sai Baba, which she
interpreted as being a part of the treatment in removing one or more
of these several headaches. She was a speaker at the Sathya Sai Hamburg
Conference in 1992 and was asked point blank from the audience whether
Sathya Sai Baba had now cured her of all her headaches. She hesitated
for some time, and eventually said that he had. However, later I was
in London talking to Lucas Ralli, (Central Coordinator for UK & Ireland
until unceremoniously kicked out) and a close friend of Mrs. Krystal,
who stayed with him and his wife sometime during a UK visit. He came
to mention that she was in constant need of pain killers for her headaches
and I was taken aback. So I asked if she had not been cured, but he
confirmed that she still suffered greatly from this. This incident typifies
the kind of thinking one meets among Sai devotees.
Perhaps a kind of self-deceit
to protect one's faith, partly a desire not to admit doubts to oneself
or others and thereby publicly embarrass the guru, whose promises are
supposed to be as cast in iron and whose healings are infallible etc.
Later, Mrs. Krystal's house was shattered by the Californian earthquake
in the 90s, making her homeless, along with her deceased huband's lifelong
collection of crystal glass reportedly worth much more than $1 million.
As she describes in detail in her book 'The Ultimate Experience', Sathya
Sai Baba had himself told her to move to that house, after she had prayed
constantly for a very long time and repeatedly asked him whether she
could move house! Eventually he had given the go-ahead verbally to her.
Devotees, in their great wisdom, regard such things as a boon from Sathya
Sai Baba! It helps one to detach from worldly things and prepare for
the final detachment! This reasoning, when taken to its conclusion means
it is a boon when anything is destroyed, relatives are lost etc., because
it prepares one for death! All very acceptable and faith-inducing, no
Two of Sathya Sai Baba's closest
collaborators, Prof. N. Kasturi (his official biographer and servitor
for over 40 years) and V.K. Narasimhan, who followed Kasturi into the
editor's chair of Sanathana Sarathi and worked continuously for Sathya
Sai Baba in that and other capacities for over two decades, both suffered
horrible and long illnesses before they died. Kasturi was in a terrible
state for 6 weeks before his release (this would not have been known
to me had not Narasimhan told me so) and Narasimhan himself lost an
eye (Sathya Sai Baba having claimed he would look after him and applied
vibuthi etc. when it got infected). Then VKN suffered up to 3 months
with his lungs filling with water before dying in March 2000. Such vastly
selfless servers were not exactly eased in any way by the supposedly
'omnipotent and grace-giving' avatar. All kinds of weird and fantastic
explanations can be invented to explain away such things, but the gruelling
facts and harsh neglect remain. (Sathya Sai Baba also made VKN write
a lie in the press about the Central Trust before his illness, which
can't have been all that helpful for the poor man whose former life
had been in defence of the truth).
These are far from being all
the instances of which I know or have heard about from reliable sources.
So what are Sathya Sai Baba's famous "divine guarantees" worth? Let
a Dutch lady correspondent of mine of impeccable insight answer this
"After my visit to the ashram I was
very disappointed re. sb's attitude towards the invalids. I am
having walking problems due to a Guillain Barré spinal disease
at the age of 14. I recovered from it apart from a slight right
side limp. However, the last 15 years I am loosing strength and
balance and need a stick or rollator to stay out of a wheel chair.
I used both in the ashram and compared with some of the heavy
invalids I counted myself lucky. It struck me that sb never went
to that right hand corner where the wheelchairs were, all at the
far end. I was on the bench myself and mostly saw the back of
him for 4 weeks. If Baba could have cured people and took no notice
of the heartbreaking misfortunate devotees, he must have been
a heartless so-and-so!!!! I am sure he COULD NOT cure real disabled
people at all. He would not willingly have renounced the fame
it would have brought him!"
Mr. Y.V. Kutumb Rao, a former Indian High Court judge and
head of the ashram for many years until the mid-80s is said to have
served Sathya Sai Baba with devoted selflessness etc. He is written
about in a number of the earlier Sathya Sai Baba books. Even though
he was the first official to speak to Sathya Sai Baba every morning,
he was never given an interview during 20 years of service. He had longed
for this, for he had never been given any such private attention for
himself by Sathya Sai Baba before, which was a known fact to ashramites
too! Shortly after he was at last called for the treasured interview,
I was told shortly by his colleague, the elderly Head of the Administration
Building, Mr. Kanheia Jee, who with his Seva Dal wife Mrs. Kavery, became
charming friends of ours. K. Jee said that Baba had not spoken to him
until the private interview, when he had taken him alone into the small
room and told him simply that a man was on his way to murder K. Rao
and he had best make himself scarce for some months. He was told to
leave his post to the deputy head of ashram, Mr. Chiranjia Rao, and
go to a certain village and lie low there until Sathya Sai Baba sent
word. That was that!
This occurred while I was present
at PN, when Chiranjia Rao became head of ashram during early 1987 for
a period of some months. Well before 1989, Kutumb Rao was back at his
post, but suffering from internal cancers. He was sent to Madras and
opened up, but closed again as a hopeless case beyond surgery. He suffered
much for a long period altogether and died around 29/3/1989. Sathya Sai Baba
apparently did nothing to help him. But devotees speculate nonetheless
that surely Sathya Sai Baba helped him through his karma, or will give
him a better new body and life, or already granted him liberation? How
can they be so confident, so easily be taken in? The above instances
are but a few among numerous others of which I know.