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I remind the reader of the reason I gave in the Introduction for including the material presented here. The point of this section is not to dispute Sai Baba's theology, but rather to point out that Sai Baba's reading of the Christian Bible, for example, is completely at variance with everyone else's reading of these passages, and that in some cases the passages he refers to are simply not to be found. If Sai Baba, or his defenders wish to argue that he knows better about these interpretations or what was actually said and lost almost 2000 years ago, this is not my concern. My point is only that he cannot cite these passages as if they were undisputed, clear references. In so far as one already believes that Sai Baba is the reincarnation of Jesus Christ or the Omnipotent Supreme Being Incarnate, one will have no difficulty in accepting that Sai Baba is right and everyone else is wrong. However if one has not already arrived at this conclusion, one cannot look to these passages as evidence that Sai Baba is Jesus Christ or God Incarnate.
Sai Baba's relationship with Jesus Christ becomes even clearer with his disclosure on Christmas Day 1972 of a certain event at the time that Jesus was dying. Speaking to a group of people at Puttaparthi that day, he (Sai Baba) said:
There is one point that I cannot but bring to your special notice today. At the time when Jesus was merging in the supreme principle of divinity, he communicated some news to his followers which has been interpreted in a variety of ways by commentators and by those who relish the piling of writings upon writings and meanings upon meanings, until it all swells up into a meaningless mass. The statement itself has been manipulated and tangled into a conundrum. The statement is simple:
"He who sent me among you will come again" and he pointed to a lamb.
The lamb is merely a symbol, a sign. It stands for the voice (the sound of bleating) ba ba; the announcement was of the advent of Baba. "His name will be Truth," Christ declared. Sathya means Truth. "He wears a robe of red, a blood red robe" Christ said. (Here Sai Baba pointed to the robe he was wearing). Christ said, "He will be short, with a crown (of hair)" The lamb is the sign and symbol of love. Christ did not declare that he would come again, he said, "He who has sent me will come again" That ba ba is this Baba.
quoted in V. Kanu's Sai Baba, God Incarnate, p. 5.
The University Of British Columbia
Department Of Religious Studies
January 19, 1990
To whom this may concern:
In an attempt to legitimize his mission and person Sai Baba establishes continuity with Jesus by drawing on a spurious biblical statement disclosed "at the time when Jesus was merging in the supreme principle of Divinity" (Victor Kanu, Sai Baba: God Incarnate, 5). Sai Baba claims it as a prophetic albeit hidden reference to his name and a priori assumes that the name is a self designation and descriptive of his mission. Furthermore, Sai Baba contends that the `news communicated' by Jesus has been distorted because it has been `interpreted in a variety of ways by commentators and by those who relish the piling of writings upon writings and meanings upon meanings.' The statement, he suggests, is quite simple; "`He who sent me among you will come again', and he pointed to a lamb". Indeed, says Sai Baba, "Christ did not declare that he would come again," rather he said, "He who has sent me will come again." By implication the reader is erroneously led to believe that the statement was uttered by Jesus Christ, that it was commented upon in a variety of ways by many commentators, and that innumerable commentaries exist. Sai Baba, however, does not cite his sources. The supposedly simple remark attributed to Jesus is not uttered anywhere in the New Testament, but rather represents a distortion of what the author of the Fourth Gospel records Jesus to have said: "But now I go to the one having sent me" (John 16:5). Along with a number of other similar references (John 1:33; 8:18, 28; 14:3, 18; 20:21b) the writer of the Fourth Gospel overwhelmingly captures the sentiment of the other gospel writers, namely, Jesus was the one sent by the Father and he would come again (Matthew 24:3,27,37,39; I Thessalonians 3:13; cf. 2:19; I Corinthians 1:8; 15:23; II Thessalonians 2:1, et al). To my knowledge the commentaries to which he refers are nowhere to be found, unless he is alluding to New Testament commentators he feels have "manipulated and tangled the statement into a conundrum". Of course they could not have tangled the statement to which he refers since it does not exist in the New Testament. While the designation `lamb' appears frequently in the New Testament (John 1:29, 36; ...and 28 times in the Apocalypse) as a metaphorical reference to Jesus derived from the Old Testament (Isaiah 53:7,8) nowhere in the New Testament or the Hebrew scriptures is the `lamb' merely a symbol for the sound of bleating, namely, ba ba; the declaration by Christ that Sai Baba's name will be `truth' (Sathya). Whatever else Sai Baba may have thought and wherever he may have obtained the utterance it cannot be attributed to Jesus in order to validate that he is Sathya of which Jesus is the embodiment; i.e., that Sai Baba is the ultimate fulfilment of the one who was to come again.
Lecturer, New Testament Studies, (Ph.D. cand.)
original on file with the editor.
It is also clear that the other quotes attributed by Sai Baba to Jesus are equally impossible to attribute to Jesus. These are: (1) "`His name will be Truth' Christ said." (2) " `He wears a robe of red, a blood red robe' Christ said." and (3) "Christ said, `He will be short, with a crown (of hair)'". These three statements clearly contain references to the contents of Revelations 19, and Kanu quotes the passage from Revelations and interprets it just prior to giving the quote of Sai Baba reproduced above to show the source. However Revelations does not purport to be presenting the words of Jesus, but rather of John of Patmos. In a typical introduction to the book of Revelations, we find:
The author of the book calls himself John (1, 1.4.9;22,8), who because of his Christian faith has been exiled to the rocky island of Patmos. Although he never claims to be the apostle of the same name, many of the early church Fathers so identified him. This identification is not altogether certain. Vocabulary, grammar, and style make it doubtful that the book could have been put into its present form by the person(s) responsible for the fourth gospel. Nevertheless, there are definite linguistic and theological affinities between the two books. The tone of the letters to the seven churches (1,4-3,22) is indicative of the great authority the writer enjoyed over the Christian communities in Asia. It is quite likely, therefore, that he was at least a disciple of the apostle John who also lived in that part of the world. The date of composition is probably near the end of the reign of Domitian (81-96 A.D.) a fierce persecutor of the Christians.
Editors, New American Bible, Thomas Nelson Inc., New Jersey,1966, p. 1380.
Let us examine the paraphrases given by Sai Baba against the passages from Revelations:
"`His name will be Truth', Christ declared"
|Rev: 19:11 :
"And I saw heaven opened, and as I looked on, a white horse appeared; its rider was called, `The Faithful and True'.
|Given that this was a vision given to John, the author of Revelations, Sai Baba's claim "`His name will be Truth' Christ declared" is incorrect.|
"`He wears a robe of red, a blood red robe', Christ said"
"He wore a cloak that had been dipped in blood, and his name was the Word of God".
|Sai Baba is mistaken in his attribution to Jesus here as well. There is a significant difference between wearing a cloak dipped in blood and wearing a red robe.|
"Christ said, `He will be short, with a crown (of hair)'"
|Rev: 19: 12:
"On his head were many diadems" ("..on his head were many crowns"--the translation Kanu gives).
|Aside from the great leap from diadems or crowns to ringlets of hair, this is not a quote which is attributable to Christ. And nowhere is there a reference in the Revelations passage or in the Christian materials to a prophecy in which Christ says, "He will be short"!|
Sai Baba's sloppiness with the materials is equalled only by the inattention of his devotees. Even Kanu introduces the prophecy in the following terms:
In Chapter 19, Saint John saw the vision of the Deliverer who was to come again and save mankind from the slippery pathway to self-destruction. That Deliverer is Sri Sathya Sai Baba, for Saint John's vision was as follows: "And I saw heaven opened..."
(Kanu, ibid., p. 3)
A prophesy supposedly given by the prophet Mohammed is sometimes quoted as alluding to Sai Baba. This prophecy refers to 27 features of a future teacher, who will be short, whose hair will be profuse, face cleanshaven, with a mole on the cheek, flaming clothes, who will give gifts that are light in weight, etc. The paraphrase of the prophecy also states:
Asked by his deciples whether he, Mohammed, was not "the master of the world," he said he was not, and that no prophet of God who had ever come to this world had come with the power with which he would come.
Soham, Feb. 1988 p. 19. Reprinted from Sathya Sai Newsletter, Fall 1983.
This prophecy is found, according to the Sai literature, in the 14th edition of the discourses of Mohammed in 25 volumes, called The Ocean Of Light, specifically, vol 13, "Mehedi Moudi". I have been unable to find any bibliographic reference to this collection, and have been advised that it is not part of the standard collections of the discourses of Mohammed. Moreover the contents of this prophecy are out of keeping with the general spirit of Mohammed's teaching. The book and its prophecy was supposedly stumbled upon somewhere in a near Eastern bookstore. Without a reliable historiographic treatment of the supposed document, there is no point in even beginning to look at the connections or lack of them between the figure supposedly prophesied by Mohammed and the life of Sai Baba. Needless to say, this treatment does not, at present, exist.
After wading through this collection of claims made by or on behalf of Sai Baba and the critics' responses, the reader should be in a position to reach his or her own conclusion about Sai Baba. Mine is based on the adage proposed by Marcello Truzzi, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof". The proponents of Sai Baba simply have not met this standard.
We might end with this "not proven" verdict. However, this would be too weak. We must remember that the onus of proof is not on the person who wishes to deny a claim, but on the person who makes it in the first place. The claim that Sai Baba has paranormal powers is no exception to this rule; and I think I have examined the best evidence put forward, and found it unconvincing. In fact, in §85 my magician colleagues have pointed out visible evidence of sleight of hand passed off as genuine paranormal power. The videotape we examined is available to anyone who wants to examine it for herself.
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