Truth exists at many levels. In media of today, however, “truth” is manufactured based on one’s agenda. Sathya Sai Baba died on Sunday this past weekend – which also happened to be the Easter Sunday. Sathya Sai Baba was many things to many people.
He has been an enigma and a fascinating being. The more people riled against him, the more his devotees increased. There were enough who took him to trial – even when he wasn’t present. And gave judgments because he wasn’t present. And since they had already pronounced him “guilty” in their own “court of law”, sans any representation from him, they took the entire story to the market and suddenly there was enough noise about it.
Its a good thing that Jesus died when he did. He would have had a tough time in today’s world. He is known for only miracles – like bringing people back to life et al. That was his least important accomplishment. In fact that shouldn’t even be remembered. Its the same with Sathya Sai Baba.
Devotion is a tough state to create in anyone in this day and age. People are so logical, full of themselves, that submission to anything is almost impossible. In fact, submission to any idea is considered a bad thing. Even in love. So, there is no complete love. Only conditional love. With contracts. We have escape routes and contracts tight enough to help us compete. In love. In relationships. And even in charity. We game our parents, our spouses, and even our children. No one lives completely.
In such times, when everyone is wary of everything and cannot submit, one would assume that people would be on their own and very happy? Well, even that ain’t the case. People who think highly of themselves, and hate submission in love and compassion, keep looking out for “unconditional love”. They wouldn’t give it, but they want to receive it. So, if a spouse cheats you, its a big issue. But if you lie to him, that’s fine. If your kid lies to you, that makes you angry or doesn’t respect you, that’s BIG. But if you don’t care for your word given to her or applaud only her good marks in school and achievements – that’s good parenthood. Gaming begets gaming. But, intriguingly, my Gaming is more kosher than your gaming! One is “truth” and the other is a lie.
So, in such circumstances, where people cannot completely have even fundamental love, is it possible to make people give themselves up? Sometimes, it requires becoming larger than life. And even beyond normal.
Sathya Sai Baba’s miracles and clairvoyant acts can be seen in that light.
Those who are obsessed with proving and disproving miracles can keep going on, but the level of devotion that Sathya Sai Baba commanded helped the devotees open themselves up to a lot more than money could buy or give.
The toughest thing today is for people to have devotion. And, despite the increased education and logical mind, the humans of today are ideological in their intellect. Poke at their ideological make up and they burn up. If Devotion doesn’t open up, If intellect is nothing more than a safeguard for one’s ideology, and one keeps either religiously following or pooh-poohing moral edicts (of whatever kind they may be) as a proxy for correct action – then what is the way to reaching a level where anything spiritual may occur in someone’s life?
That’s where such beings and “miracles” can come in.
But let us keep the spiritual side apart. Let’s assume he was a normal man incapable of anything spiritual. Let us first start with a list:
Education works by Sathya Sai Baba
- Free educational institutes, hospitals and charities in 166 countries in all the livable continents.
- Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (now Sri Sathya Sai University) in Prashanthi Nilayam is the only college with “A++” rating by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (an autonomous body established by the University Grants Commission) with one campus each at Puttaparthi (men), Whitefield, Bangalore (men) and at Anantapur for women
- Sri Sathya Sai Mirpuri College of Music (Insititute for Indian Classical Music).
- Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Educational Institution, run by the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Trust s considered to be one of the top boarding schools in the Bangalore region and primarily serves destitute lower caste students from nearby villages. It has over 70 world-class lecturers and professors. It is complete with a well equipped sports stadium, amphitheatre, auditorium, spiritual center, bank and grocery store, farm, and brand new computer labs. It was overseen by Sai Baba himself.(Baba gifts varsity campus to Muddenahalli)
Water and Housing by Sathya Sai Baba
- Sri Sathya Sai Drinking Water Supply projects cover 750 villages in drought-prone Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh (population of 1.2 million), and has been implemented at a cost of US$ 63 million.
- The second Water project was completed in 2004, supplies water to Chennai through a rebuilt waterway named “Sathya Sai Ganga Canal” (Chennai benefits from Sai Baba’s initiative; Project Water) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi praised the Chennai water project and Sai Baba’s involvement (Karunanidhi shares dais with Sai Baba)
- Another Medak District Project benefiting 450,000 people in 179 villages and the Mahbubnagar District Project benefitting 350,000 people in 141 villages
- In 2008, after the devastating floods in Orissa, Sathya Sai Seva Organization built 699 houses as a part of their first phase in 16 villages by March 2009.
Hospitals and Health Care by Sathya Sai Baba
- Sri Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospital in Puttaparthi is a 220 bed facility that provides free surgical and medical care and other patient care facilities to all, free of cost
- Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences in Bangalore is a 333 bed hospital meant to benefit the poor free of cost.
- Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital was opened in Whitefield, Bangalore, in 1977 and provides complex surgeries, food and medicines free of cost. The hospital has treated over 2 million patients
- Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust runs several general hospitals, two specialty hospitals, eye hospitals and mobile dispensaries and conducts medical camps in rural and slum areas in India
- Educare program seeks to found schools throughout the world with the goal of educating children in the five human values and has founded schools in 33 countries around the globe including Australia, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Zambia and Peru. (Article in Times of Zambia on how the Sathya Sai schools have benefited the poor and the orphaned Sathya Sai school: A decade of quality education)
Despite all this work, for which, even a layman can understand, millions would be spent year on year basis, just for the upkeep and operations – specially since it is free of cost to beneficiaries, yet at the highest quality that is in any country (Fraser Institute, an independent Canadian research and educational organization, ranked the Sathya Sai School of Canada as one of the top 37 elementary schools in Ontario) in which these institutions exist (like A++ ranking by UGC), what remains in the mainstream domain is the rhetoric that he was a charlatan and a cheat – because he did miracles that weren’t.
Sathya Sai Baba’s Real Miracles
Many tried to prove that but couldn’t. But they were looking in the wrong direction. That someone could invoke devotion, by whatever means (many times benefiting the person on whom the miracle was being done), and inspire common men and women to use their money to fund and bring happiness to millions. in India and outside in many countries. That was indeed the real miracle. So, the B. Premanands of this world were blind. The real miracle was going on and they couldn’t see. They were obsessed with something only that of which their ego could fight against. Ask all the critics if anyone has ever brought happiness or a smile to a poor man or a woman?
And all this was achieved without any persecution, or conversion of anyone to Hinduism or criticising any other religion. There are enough evangelists – crook and cheats – whose ONLY aim in life is to convert people. And interestingly, their “shows” in India are all house full and attended by the mightiest of the land. Media, intriguingly, is very kind to them as well. Of course, B. Premanands of the land – skeptics and the so-called rationalists – have made a habit of missing their schedule as well. But when it comes to Sathya Sai Baba, their selective rationalism comes alive. And despite all the good that is done – without interrupting with anyone’s religious or ideological lives – the real miracle is completely missed!
Further ask them, if he really was in the wrong, why no one ever proved it so or indict him? Connections with the power brokers – comes back the answer.
Interestingly, I had to dig up for the projects that the Sathya Sai Baba institutions have done. They aren’t there on their own web-sites. Now, if Sai Baba REALLY had used all the powerful connections that supposedly saved him from the courts, they would surely have helped bring out the good work that the Baba had done. Specifically, given the ferociousness of the campaign against him.
But how many of us – non-devotees of the Baba – really knew of all this? What did you know of him? That he is a cheat and charlatan who just cheats people off of their money. What good comes out of that was no one’s business.
Mess him up on the one side you can, and leave the rest to the imagination of the gullible public – seems to have been the constant Mantra.
Compare this to the paragon of human service in India – Mother Teresa. How many homes did her organization create? And what was the condition of people there? Last time, my sister visited one of the homes, an old man came to her and whispered “Ma’am, are you the one serving food?” She nodded. “Can you give me one extra bread? They don’t give us enough to eat”. My sister couldn’t come to terms with that request! And Mother Teresa is a Saint.
But as the story goes……
This article was first posted on May 1, 2011. Subsequently some typo and grammatical corrections were done.