SATHYA SAI BABA - THE FADS, FALLACIES, & FALSITIES OF 'SAIENCE' VS. SCIENCE
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Sathya Sai Baba calls his doctrines ‘saience’, most a semi-pun of the kind bandied about by Professor N. Kasturi. This is held forth as the true doctrine of all the wonders of the universe and its creation by Sai Baba's fiat. Contrary to natural science and all hard-won knowledge, "saience" is all about values and how to live anfd excludes most insights that do not come from Indian or other scriptural sources. That frivolous wordplay can never change science, which is a globe-spanning undertaking supported by virtually every government in the world and with millions of researchers employed in advancing it. Meanwhile, Sai Baba’s peculiar Hinduist doctrine is known in any detail to a relative handful of people. Though all his followers have a smattering of it, hardly any have studied it in any depth (as I have done) and none critically so, let alone practice it nearly as fully as he says is essential (which leads to a totally unworldly dissociation from the world and reality).
Can fantastic, unsupported claims by Sai Baba about ancient Indian ‘science’ being superior to that today - as represented by the scanned quotation inset here – be taken seriously? Sai Baba puts science down as only an uneducated ignoramus about human knowledge and achievements could do. Today, the combined efforts of the world’s most advanced physicists – standing on the shoulders of centuries of scientific physical research – have recreated at CERN in Switzerland the conditions a millionth of a second after the Big Bang (13.7 billion years ago), producing – if fleetingly indeed – temperatures of over 10 trillion degrees, a million times hotter than the centre of the sun! Even the pro-Sai Baba newspaper, The Hindu, stated that the results of the Big Hadron Collider recently, made up “the biggest scientific experiment of all time, the recreation of Big Bang.” Still, typically inaccurate journalism: the recreation was not another Big Bang, but an infinitesimally small-scale creation of conditions some millionths of a second after the Big Bang.
So the mythical Hiranyakasipu, saya SB, was greater than all scientists! This is what early indoctrination in Indian scripture can do, producing and uneducated charlatan and fantasizer - a self-proclaimed ‘omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent’ God! It has been shown indisputably in several analyses of his discourses how science-challenged Sai Baba is, how he almost never has a good word for science or scientists, or any genuine kind of scholar. He mocks and makes fun of them all repeatedly. This strongly suggests that he is envious of those with a higher education and realises how far short his own mind falls short of even moderate scientific achievements? He thinks ancient Indian ‘knowledge’ (mostly superstition or highly speculative) is superior in many respects to the amazing advances in modern knowledge into the nature of of matter, nature, the body, mind etc. – all facts unknown to all Indian sages and scriptures. Traditional Indian medicine, which he praises so much, is full of absurd remedies and is largely powerless to cure thousands of ailments that the ‘sages’ could not even identify... all those caused by bacteria and viruses not least.
Most people tend to assume that an omniscient God Incarnate would be, among many other things, an immensely towering knowledgeable mind. In most of his teachings, however, Sathya Sai Baba does not measure up to even a very modest intellectual standard. To make himself seem educated (which he is not), it suits his purpose to use the names of scientists like Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, when he is not denigrating scientists' and scholars as "educated fools". He even mentions physicists like Heisenberg (who he claims sought to unify science and spirituality!), and Dirac (who he says found the truth 'Love ever, hurt never'!!). He speaks of '"the great scientist Darwin" but only to say he was influenced by his teacher! Actually he denies Darwinian natural selection because he teaches creationism - and adds that it was he himself who created everything!
So Sai Baba demonstrates throughout that he has less than an elementary understanding of what they stood for. His references to historical and other objective facts, including other religions (especially Christianity) - are invariably very patchy, often garbled and inaccurate and sometimes hairdressing absurd. His quotations from famous figures like Churchill are inaccurate and sometimes laughably distorted! It is clear he only knows of these people at a considerable remove from the sources, such as via his former devotees Prof. Astrid and Dr. Bahaman. Instead, the lion's share of his teaching is a simplified version of well-worn religious moralism and speculative ideas about reality and God that have been put by many others before him, mostly in much more nuanced and clear ways than he manages.
For Sathya Sai, Ignorance is Bliss: The modern world's
hard-won and vast intellectual and scientific achievements are often challenged by Sai Baba in quite scathing terms
and those who have sacrificed much to make great academic and scientific
efforts are supposed to feel despondent to hear Sathya Sai Baba explaining how futile
it all was. Actually, though, it is Sathya Sai Baba who signally fails the test of
'the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth'.
In a hagiography called 'Conversations with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba' ISBN 81-7208-049-2 page 164. Dr. John Hislop asked about life beyond the earth Hislop asked:-
H: "Science says there are many planets where there will be much the same life.
"Sai Baba replied: "In all the universe there is no other planet that has human life, or a similar life form."
Later, in 'My Baba and I' by Dr. John Hislop (p.225-6 - Birth Day Publishing, San Diego 1985), we read the exact opposite:
Sai Baba said "All life may flow toward God. Even frogs in a pond and insects."
J.H: "But Swami, that is life in this world. I mean life elsewhere in the universe."
Sai: "... The question about life in the universe arises because you project your own particular circumstances. You feel that other ways of life would be intolerable for you. In the hot, blazing Sun, for instance, beings are living… life exists in circumstances considered to be intolerable by you. Elsewhere in the Universe, life feels it is Divinity, is one with Divinity, and is quite happy, and feeling all is right."
Comment: This helps satisfy each party – they read only which version they want to believe and then deceive themselves that he knows and is telling them the truth! That some form of life will be found to exist outside earth is highly likely, according to the many other prominent scientist and most foremost geneticists like Prof. Richard Dawkins. Dawkins makes a calculation of the chances of the same basic conditions for life as exist on earth to show, in summary, that "...my earlier calculation demonstrated that even a chemical model with odds of success as low as one in a billion, would still predict that life would arise on a billion planets in the universe." He also points out that "a chemical model need only predict that life will arise on one planet in a billion billion to give us a good and entirely satisfying explanation for the presence of life here."
More food for simple minds
Here are some choice examples of the difficulties Baba seems to lay in the path of any keen-minded person:
"At the centre (of the world), everything is liquid. Everything is melted. No temperature. Everything is liquid, like water. Gold, iron, silver all are liquid. Next there is solid. Then trees. Then human beings and animals. At the very centre is the divine. It is the support of everything. First is liquid, chemistry. Then solid, physics. Then trees, Botany. Then man, the pinnacle of life. But at the centre, supporting all, is the divine. Without the divine, where is chemistry, physics, botany? Like this will be the teaching of all courses at the university." (My Baba & I, p. 197 and also Conversations with BS Sathya Sai Baba, p.182 both by Dr. John Hislop)
A few years ago, the Satya Sai Institute of Higher Learning was declared a deemed University by Madhuri Shah, devotee and Chairperson of the University Grants Commission, on a par with the rest of India's Centres of Higher Learning! A couple of decades later the Indian authorities elevated that Institute into a fully-accredited university. The Sai authorities boast that many scientists, doctors, professors visit Sai Baba and are in awe of his knowledge. What more is there to say? Well,I have never heard of any 'top' scientist visiting or supporting Sai Baba, no world figure of real intellectual distinction, no famous scientific researchers who have advance any science can be found near him. Dr- G. Venkataraman is touted as a very prominent and widely-awarded scientist, but there is no way in which he is known to have advanced science by research or discovery. He was some kind of nuclear scientific apparatchik rewarded for his contribution towards Indian's atomic bomb. There are thousands of such people in various countries. As for doctors and professors, there are millions and otherwise unremarkable, unoriginal Ph.Ds (two a penny in India, the USA and also Europe). The same goes for the educationalists who are attracted to Sai Baba and his 'human values' teaching, but no one with a name in pedagogy, educational psychology are related research achievements can be found among them.
It is highly improbable on grounds of all the known paleontology and other kinds of historical evidence - which is very considerable in scope - to accept what Sathya Sai Baba says of giant men 14 cubits tall (20 ft. 6 ins.) or of Rama's vast stature and enormous strength, one of a race far taller than the tallest person in this age today. Such stature in the human form is considered a physiological impossibility, for the tallest man known, Robert P. Wadlow very nearly 9 ft tall, died in 1940 at the age of 22. To be much taller and live at all, one would have to have hollow bones, like the saurians and birds.
Sathya Sai Baba speaks of giant ogres and serpents and other fantastic phenomena mentioned in the Ramayana or Mahabharata as if they had been real events. He never points out that this is merely mythological. When asked about this by Hislop he has also contradicted himself and said that the story is largely symbolic, though the main events did take place. Though new kinds of dinosaur are still being discovered now and again, they lived so many millions of years ago that one cannot expect a complete picture of their kind. Yet the giants of Indian scripture are supposed to have existed within only thousands of years, and the likelihood of their not have been discovered or identified must be reckoned as infinitesimal. Sathya Sai Baba has also many times insisted on the factuality of many other truly incredible events. However much some may take such pronouncements seriously, all reason and knowledge defeats these claims as simply not credible! The complete lack of any kind of records presenting a shred of evidence to support Sathya Sai Baba 's statements is a decisive hindrance... nothing but blind belief will suffice.
Sathya Sai insisted to Dr. Hislop in the 1960s that the students of Sai colleges would bring about a great change in the Indian nation through taking key positions of influence in India within a ten-year period, not 20 or 30 years as Hislop argued. (Conversations with BSSSB, p. 47 by Hislop). No independent observers of India, within or without, have so far noticed any marked overall change for the better, at best only some limited and largely unsuccessful attempts to curb the universal corruption when in 1996 charges against major political figures were first brought to bear.
From the above and many other incidents it certainly seems that Baba often appreciates how some people prefer to think or need to believe something that affirms their preferences, ideas or wishes accordingly. This is itself a deceit when Sathya Sai Baba uses his position to induce false ideas. Sathya Sai Baba 's avoidances of telling the truth are explained away as being what is best for the particular person's spiritual progress at that time. Telling a 'truth' that may throw a mind into turmoil or overturns faith and upset one's spiritual work could be destructive, but telling untruths or intimating them in other ways cannot be a right solution. And to think that Sathya Sai Baba rails on about this himself often!
A parody of truth and goodness!
In his frequent and totally moralistic harangues, Sathya Sai Baba says that humans today are just a pack of degenerates, while only he really knows anything properly and is pure and good. He demonstrates a compulsive need to speak scathingly and reject much of what has been learned through science and the systematic use of our supposedly God-given faculties of common sense, intelligence and intellect! His own incomplete secondary school education, which still forms the basis of his outlook on the world beyond Indian religion, is seriously challenged even by elementary science. His discourses are mostly vague and imprecise from any analytical, scientific or philosophical viewpoint.
Further, Sathya Sai Baba is nonchalant as regard to many worldly facts. He bluntly rejects learned scholars and all intellectual sophistication. A considerable number of his statements go firmly against well-established fact, whether historical or scientific. His teachings often express a most archaic world-view, exhibiting blatant misunderstanding of scientific ideas, sheer muddling of facts, plus massive self-contradiction compounded by plenty of factual ignorance.
Few people of any education find it possible to accept as a fact that God has in ages past actually incarnated in successive eras as a gigantic fish, a vast tortoise (Kurma), a giant boar (Varuna) and a lion-man (Narasimha) to save the world. Yet Sathya Sai Baba states this as something he takes for granted. There is not the slightest danger whatever that the world at large will accept Sathya Sai Baba 's fantastical claims. Such as his frequent statements that what he calls 'demonic' persons like Ravana (virtually unknown to historical research) had mastered all the sciences of the universe and Hiranakasipu had long ago travelled to the limits of the universe (beyond the stars)!
There are very few persons to be found near Sai Baba who demonstrate a thorough enough understanding of scientific and secular thought to rate as serious thinkers in a Western sense, and not one famous scientist has ever supported Sai Baba. Therefore, some people around him are uncomfortably aware of his ignorance, yet - because of their 'faith' in him and what it means to them personally in one way and another, they have to ignore or rationalize it.
Does ignorance lead to bliss?
A red thread through Sathya Sai Baba discourses is his preference for simple persons devoted to himself who are easily led and therefore too weak to stand up against anything they discover is not right about him. He claims to favour the naive soul who will accept anything with what he calls "His Grace". However, few of the peasants who storm into the ashram on festival days ever get a word or a glance from him, not to mention an interview. He is definitely most interested in persons with power, influence and riches... it can also be observed daily.
It is said that 'ignorance is an evil' and it is associated with darkness, and the cynic might even add that ignorance is after all 'what makes the world go round'... for excessive worldliness is a product of ignorance. It is sometimes said that human beings are born ignorant. But then ignorance can also be called a blessing, such as when we remain ignorant of some terrible events until long after its effects have been repaired... and "What the eye doesn't see, the heart cannot grieve". There are some things it is better not to watch, not to take in, not to know and not to dwell upon. There are the sayings, 'ignorance is bliss' and 'it is folly to be wise'! It appears from much of what he says that Sathya Sai Baba has tried to build his own philosophy on this.
Trying to recognize one's own ignorance often seems to be like groping in the dark, as I have seen through many years of teaching at university. Philosophy proper is one of the best antidotes which causes deep questioning of everything, including oneself. All in all, Sathya Sai Baba is certainly no master of the art. Yet considering the far-fetched ideas of many Sai devotees I have met who are 'blissfully' living in an artificial cloud-cuckoo land that they are unaware of - they doubtless lack psychological and critical philosophical insight of the many influences that form their minds and condition their being. Those who I have got to know better are mostly not at all so blissful in fact, it is either just a passing phase or an outward appearance... often the adoption of the correct Sai devotee talk. In fact, I have seldom come across so many disturbed people in any social setting, persons with depressions, mental unbalance not far below the surface, some suffering severe self-alienation and much else. The same people mostly tend to believe what suits them, and woe to anyone who would help disillusion them! These followers who will go to any lengths to believe anything and everything they hear, make up a large portion of the population of all ashrams and peculiar sects.
Sathya Sai's pseudo-philosophical thought
Sai Baba's kind of inclarity and illogicality is most noticeable when subjects within the domain of philosophical analysis are involved. For example, he has more than once insisted that all words represent existent things. This is a traditional fallacy, long since pulverized by hundreds of analyses in linguistic philosophy, especially since Wittgenstein. Only some words, chiefly concrete and proper nouns, name objects or refer to some kind of identifiable 'thing'. For example, there are thousands of words without such reference, for example: 'before', 'if', 'but', 'non-existent', 'unworthiness', 'Ha!', 'Hallo!', 'imaginary value', 'and so on', and so on. The 'proof' that words represent real things is invalid.
It does not exactly help the thinking person when Sathya Sai Baba relies on this same simplistic fallacy (of misplaced concreteness) in repeating the well-known theological 'proof', to prove God's existence. This 'ontological argument' holds that because we have the word 'God', it must name something... therefore God must exist. Kant ironfisted over this saying that one can easily say 'a thousand thalers' but it does not mean they are in one's pocket! That words always name things is false and Sathya Sai Baba simply tricks his hearers, whether knowingly or not. (The invalid proof does not, of course, increase the likelihood of there being no God either.)
Sathya Sai Baba seems to have the ability to find words that at once intentionally convey different things to different persons. Though he asserts he is omniscient, he does not even answer questions about the highest of mysteries, except with his well-tried aphorisms or in very general and vague terms. From all accounts, he has very seldom gone much into such subjects with followers, often saying in discourses that what he knows is too far beyond the range of anyone else's understanding.
He is genuinely a master of intentionally elliptical questions and bewildering answers. His answer may puzzle at first, directing attention away to some apparently quite different matter. Some explain this by holding that he gives precise answers to questions that will later arise for that person in some quite other situation. The real import of the words are said to dawn much later on the dim-witted, so the meaning becomes clear when the time is ripe. The same applies to his gestures, all are non-verbal communications to be mulled over. This is a very subtle way of saving face for Sathya Sai Baba , and it confuses people into a kind of naval-gazing expectancy about Sathya Sai Baba 's words. Some claim further that he does so to protect the person (out of his 'boundless compassion') from the impact of a fact or truth that would be a burden or incomprehensible to the dimwit at that time. A convenient excuse for non-answers… thus preserving the dear illusion that Sathya Sai Baba does know, though his words do not express this knowing. Yet so many of his words express ignorance of history, science, other religions... how does one explain this? He is only playing with us, they say. Yes... I reckon so, which would suggest there's no reason to take anything he says seriously!
Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and all natural disasters due to humans actions
Primitive views on 'nature as the best teacher'
Sai Baba's complete ignorance of atomic physics
Sai Baba's absurd conception of magnetism
Startlingly misinformed discourse on science of magnetism
Sai Baba's physically magnetic hands and feet etc.!
Sai Baba's ignorance of astronomy, the cosmos
Eye defects destroying eyes today due to "unsacred vision"