HIS LIFE IS HIS MESSAGE
by Jorge Reyesvera
One of the main things that, beside his followers, still many think is in favor of Sathya Sai Baba are his "teachings". Of course there are several ways to "teach" but at least in action he does not seem to teach a lot. Most objective people (including many devotees and followers) I know find him to be:
very contradictory in word and action
ignoring most people in general - not least avoiding what they really want to ask him
speaking in vague, sweeping and exaggerated ways about almost everything
very condemnatory of many groups, professions (eg. scientists, doctors, parents, politicians, youth, children, devotees, etc.)
rude, imperious and authoritarian as a leader (of his various staff etc.)
unable to respond to or to accept criticism of any kind whatever
enjoying a life that for Indians is sheer luxury (cars, houses, all services, no labour etc)
constantly claiming as 'his' achievements the work of others
very often making promises that he does not keep
constantly recycling the teachings of others without mentioning them
usually praising those who serve an apparent pro Sai Baba cause etc, etc.
chauvinistic behaviour is evident in some of his common messages. such as :-
Of course there are many people who may tell wonderful stories about him and his kindness. Unfortunately most of them are second-hand, while most others reflect the great devotion people have for him. But practically all objective descriptions I know of Sathya Sai Baba do not make him a worthy example to follow. The teaching of most of his observable (as opposed to his alleged) actions is very poor.
THE SO-CALLED 'INNER PLANE'
Then comes the inner plane which, by its subjectivity, prevents generalisation. As with objective analysis of Sai Baba behavior the inner teachings has many advocates. Unfortunately what can be observed of those subjected to the "inner Sai Baba influence" seem to fall into doubts and frustrations. Of course there could be exceptions, but it would be hard to prove Sai Baba responsible for that. However, any person familiar with Sai devotees can certainly notice the following:-
There is no consensus on the meaning of the "inner messages", the "tests of faith", the ideas about "bad or good karmas", etc and all are typical 'sticks for the blind'.
The "doubting", "monkey-minded", "frustrated wishes" states of mind are very common.
People who claim direct psychic contact with Sai Baba are in plenty, while Sai Baba often denies that he has any mediums or middlemen at all.
While there are plenty of accounts of Sai Baba having psychic powers, there is also undisputable evidence of his cheating. Many former devotees continue to experience psychic phenomena after leaving Sai Baba
SOCIAL WORK (SEVA) AS TAUGHT BY Sai Baba
Sai Baba constantly bases his claims of divinity on what he calls his 'unique selfless social service'. Yet there are plenty of social service organizations around the world doing service work on a far more massive scale, with self-sacrifice, often even of the lives of workers. Most of them are unknown precisely because - unlike most Sai Baba 'workers', they are so busy that they do not have time to parrot about the "good work" they do.
In his discourses Sai Baba gets all credit and very seldom he explains where the monies came from and its management and accountancy is very secret. While he parrots in his discourses that anybody can see the bookkeeping that he never takes even a naya paisa the truth is that the records are not public and he often takes letters with donations. And his expensive life is much more costly than a naya paisa for sure!
As an "educator" Sai Baba boasts about "his" universities and how the young people graduated from them would be the "future leaders of India and the world". There has been a while since those institutions are in place and we do not find even a clue of the "impact" that their graduates have, of course other than which would be expected of a regular educative institution. The Human Values education program promoted by the Sai Org was not developed by Sai Baba at all in fact it is difficult to match Sai Baba's "five human values" with the five personality levels in which that program is supposedly based. This EHV program is not homogeneous throughout the world. In fact in some countries there are two different types of programs one for the public and the other for the devotee's children. As a practical issue, some children subjected to the "spiritual" influence of those programs find it hard to apply such tough discipline in their teens and up to now the Sai Org has been unsuccessful in creating any effective program for this problem. Recently they created a youth program (with the fancy of having Sai Baba's "blessings" etc.), but what has resulted has been unarticulated and lacks real foundation. Undoubtedly there is an urgent need to review current educational programs, but the one presented by the Sai Org and self-ascribed by Sai Baba does not present any "surprising" or "tremendous" results other than the rosy statistics from the Sai Org.
SATHYA SAI ORGGANIZATION
People have the Sai Org largely as a means to "know" Sai Baba and be in touch with his "teachings", it appears. Essentially, most of the Sai Centers inherit and practice a strong Indian style, then adapt it to some degree and flavour the interpretations of Sai Baba's teaching to whatever end the leader "thinks" is best. So outside India, the most common scenario for a Sai Centre is devotional songs once or twice a week and/or study circle and attempts to do social service and "marketing" for Sai Baba, which are mostly very much hindered by both internal matters and the social environment. Some wings of the Sai Org have a more or less structured ways to present things, but that comes from the officers' "common sense". Not all the officers are personally named by Sai Baba. The Central Coordinators are personally chosen by Sai Baba and are supposed to have the "inspiration" to know who is fit and who is not for other offices or membership, though election of office-bearers by voting is practiced in some more democratic countries. It is not uncommon to find disputes among Sai Org entities.
SAI BABA WRITTEN MATERIAL
So what is left for the most objective followers are the "written words" of Sai Baba, which need a lot of adjustments to cover the lapses, inconsistencies, mistakes, etc that constantly Sai Baba makes (and more and more so lately) . But what results is praised by many as "universal teachings", as the "immortal heritage of India", etc. However, on a more unbiased and more detailed analysis, that notion can radically change. On the surface, the teaching does not have "anything new" and is based on some axiomatic and easy to understand notions like:
There is only one God
Everything is God
Man is God but he does not realise that
God is good
Man is ignorant
Ignorance leads to wrong actions
Wrong actions lead to bondage etc. etc.
Many of these are also found in cheap new age or oriental books of ‘teachings’. Taking them ‘for granted’, the follower then chooses one or two and begins to develop a thesis based on his personal knowledge. All Sai Baba's teachings seem mainly to be based in Indian affairs, something strange for a one who claims to be omniscient! The problem with treating such notions as axioms is that the resulting thesis inherits any contradictions and weaknesses in full from the source, in this case Sai Baba.
For example, to assert that every person is God may or not be true. But at least before that we should have clear what is God. If one asks the question, "What is God?" to a number of Sai devotees, one receives many different responses. The notion by itself is subjective and so is any construction based on that.
Further, Sai Baba sometimes says that the mind needs to be killed but at other times he says that it needs to be controlled. Then he says that it is just a bunch of desires and then that spirit, mind and body exist! He explains that we have 5 envelopes or "bodies" and in other discourses instead about the 'anthakarana', etc. Each of those concepts is subjective by itself and the way Sai Baba mixes them up creates much confusion so that, if you ask to the average Sai devotee about it, everyone gives his/her own view, often quite different ones.
FAMOUS SAI BABA PHRASES
Absolute terms inevitably lead to self reference, self reference leads to contradiction. Sai Baba frecuently uses absolute terms or frases which imply absolute meanings. That practice indeed is used ofthen by many people and usually is filtered by the common sense and really that does not have too much impact. But when someone regarded by many as God creates a doctrine based upon that and those who receive and accept are prone to find themselves in very difficult situations, even an insignificant act or mistake can be regarded as a sin. And according to Sai Baba sin is punished by the law of karma with rebirth. The main issue here is that human nature is not that squared. Every body in his daily life is prone to break many of the so- called Sai Baba rules like:-
Start the day with Love, fill the day with Love, end the day with Love, that is the way to God
Time waste is life waste
Help ever hurt never
Never speak ill of others and so on.
Of course it is not only good but desirable that we fill everything with Love, but again that word is understood in so many ways. And if a consensus were reached, what happens if the rule is broken… how grave is the fault? Is there any cure? What happens if we can do it 364 out of the 365 days of a year. Is it worth doing it if we have already failed? How much? What is time wasting? That also depends on the person, but for those who are very compulsive and have absolute faith in Sai Baba, these phrases can make their lives very hard. I agree that non-violence is the hallmark of human character however in our lives in some degree we need to hurt our environment, every time we use any industrialized product, when we kill insects, when we kill the bacteria which causes illness, etc. Sometimes our help is not wanted, etc. What is it to speak ill of others? That also could create a huge debate.
There is no doubt that when those directives are filtered by common sense then some of them gather a tremendous meaning (for example: Wrong is wrong even if everybody practices it, good is good even if none practices it) and Sai Baba literature has plenty of those however it is very important to note that those meanings are made by ourselves and that particularity is not exclusive of Sai Baba literature there are plenty of sources of inspiration to improve ourselves. I think that most of us would like that the world was a "better place" and many would agree that if we want to improve something we need to begin by ourselves and that is not a Sai Baba's lila or the like.
Another example: Sai Baba constantly uses the karma and reincarnation doctrine to threaten. He constantly speaks that "the worst sin is this" or the "worst sin is that". Curiously that often occurs close to some event related to his own prestige, like the murders in 1993, new negative constant press assertions about him, the latest exposé developments, etc. How many "worst" sin he can find?
SATHYA SAI BABA AND OTHER RELIGIOUS FIGURES
Many Sai Baba advocates try to find similarities between Sai Baba's words/life and those of some religious leaders like Jesus, in fact there is whole book devoted to that theme. However it should be noted that while in general and vague statements it can be found some similarities Sai Baba message is quite different, among other things.
Sai Baba usually treats as true Hindu mythology and constantly brings back supposed passages taken fron Hindu epics. There is no evidence that Jesus had mentioned that his father was in the earth in the form of Krishna or Rama neither of the acceptance of that mythology. All records show that Jesus leaded a very humble existence and his example was a powerful one. I do not have evidence that Jesus boasted about his good doing. Jesus reaction to those against him was of compassion and forgiveness. In terms of knowledge there is no evidence that Jesus pretended to know everything and as recorded it seems that Jesus accomplished what he promised. Of course if we try we could find similarities between the words of M. Gandhi and those of Sai Baba, those of Osho, and those of the Mataji, etc. but that does not prove anything. In fact in his messages he implicitly and constantly diminishes other creeds and faiths.
SOME MYTHS ABOUT SAI BABA
People are very fortunate to be born in this time. Statistically speaking along recorded history there have been around 20 Billion people in the earth. So considering the current population (about 6 billion) the chance to be born in this time is between a third or a forth, not one in a million as is said by some Sai Baba followers.
People are attracted to PN by Sai Baba's magnetism. Of course there should be many people who visit the ashram because of true devotion, but it is undeniable that there are plenty of tourists, hippies, free-thinkers, the curious, and others who happen to go there. There are plenty of people visiting the Vatican, the Eiffel tower, Buckingham Palace, the big department stores, etc. most of them without invitation.
Sai Baba is predicted in the scriptures. There is even a whole book on this subject however any serious, in deep research shows that all those rosy stories have been modified or fabricated. The sources alluded to are never properly quoted nor are the original source locations given so that they can be checked properly.
Sai Baba has changed the world. India today has enormous problems, many of them initiated during his lifetime like the AIDS crisis, the conflicts with India’s neighbours, the acceptance of disruptive western standards of life, etc. Also big problems remain unsolved, like hunger, education, caste discrimination, bonded labour, child labour, sexual slavery, wife and widow burning etc. That is just the place he constantly boasts he will transform first.
So at the end what is really the Sai Baba teaching? What tangible benefits do those engaged in Sai Baba's endeavours or the Sai Org. get? To an objective observer, it becomes evident is that the result is very similar to a cult and those at the top of the pyramid get the economical benefit of having a number of blind believers to fund their ostentatious way of living.
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