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Sathya Sai Baba
File:SAISAI.jpg
Sathya Sai Baba in the 1990s
Religion Hinduism
Personal
Born Sathyanarayana Raju
(1926-11-23) 23 November 1926 (age 90)
Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh

Sathya Sai Baba (Telugu: సత్య సాయి బాబా), born Sathyanarayana Raju on November 23, 1926 [1][2] with the family name of "Ratnakaram",[3] is a South Indian guru, religious leader and orator. He is described by his followers as a godman and miracle worker.[1][4][5]

The Sathya Sai Organization reports that there are an estimated 1,200 Sathya Sai Baba Centers in 114 countries worldwide.[6] The number of Sathya Sai Baba adherents is estimated to be somewhere around 6 million, although followers cite anywhere from 50 to 100 million".[7] He is considered by his followers to be an avatar and the reincarnation of the saint Sai Baba of Shirdi.[8]

Biography[edit]

File:NICE SAI.jpg
Sathya Sai Baba addresses his followers

Sathyanarayana Raju was born to Peddavenkama Raju and Eswaramma in an agrarian family in the remote village of Puttaparthi, located in Anantapur district, Andhra Pradesh.[9] Kasturi's biography stated that when the child was born, musical instruments in the household started creating music on their own. The child was very lively and the pet of the village.[9] The young Sathyanarayana, Kasturi's biography states, was a vegetarian and was "known" for his aversion to animal cruelty.[10]

At the age of eight, Satynanarayana Raju attended higher elementary school in Bukkapatnam.[10] After that he joined another high school at Uravakonda. The biography says that on March 8, 1940, Satynanarayana Raju started behaving "as if a scorpion had stung in his foot". He exhibited strange behavior after this, and entered a coma state. After some time, he got up and his behavior worried his parents - he did not want to eat, remained silent for extended periods of time, and recited ancient shlokas or elaborated on holy Hindu scriptures. In May 1940, he proclaimed himself to be a reincarnation of the fakir and saint Sai Baba of Shirdi and subsequently took the fakir's name, Sai Baba.[11] In October 1940, at the age of 14, Sai Baba threw away his books and announced, "My devotees are calling me. I have my work." He then spent the next three days under a tree in the garden of an excise inspector (government officer) and many people gathered around him. Baba taught them his bhajans (devotional songs that are sung out aloud in praise of minor Hindu deities or in praise of sai baba himself). Sai Baba declared himself to be an avatar (a divine incarnation sent to Earth to bring about spiritual renewal.) He has consistently maintained this position ever since. He has often stated that his mission is to re-establish the principle of rightouesness, to motivate love for God and service to fellow man. He has consistently called on mankind to "Love All, Serve All" and has repeatedly asserted that the essence of all scriptures is, "help ever, hurt never." [9]

In 1944, a mandir for followers of Sathya Sai Baba was built near the village, which is now called the old mandir (old temple).[10][12] The construction of Prashanthi Nilayam, the current ashram, was started in 1948.[12] Today Puttaparthy has undergone enormous change. It has been transformed from a small village to a world pilgrimage center. Sathya Sai Baba's efforts have resulted in a deemed university with three campuses and two super specialty hospitals that cater to the needs of the poor free of cost.[9]

In 1960, Sathya Sai Baba said that he would be in this mortal Human form for another 59 years.[13] In 1963, during a discourse, Sai Baba made statements declaring himself a reincarnation of Shiva and Shakti.[14] He also claimed that Sai Baba of Shirdi was an incarnation of Shiva and that his future reincarnation, Prema Sai Baba, would be a reincarnation of Shakti. He publicly repeated this claim in 1976.[15] Baba's biography states that Prema Sai Baba will be born in Mysore State.[16]
"He said, "I have been keeping back from you all these years one secret about Me; the time has come when I can reveal it to you. This is a sacred day. I am Siva-Sakthi," He declared, "born in the gothra of Bharadwaja, according to a boon won by that sage from Siva and Sakthi. Sakthi Herself was born in the gothra of that sage as Sai Baba of Shirdi; Siva and Sakthi have incarnated as Myself in his gothra now; Siva alone will incarnate as the third Sai (Prema Sai Baba) in the same gothra in Mysore State.

Sai Baba has established three temples (referred to as a mandirs) in India. The first center, established in Mumbai, is referred to as either Dharmakshetra or "athyam. The second center, established in Hyderabad, is referred to as Shivam, and the third center, established in Chennai, is referred to as Sundaram.[17]

Since 2005, Sathya Sai Baba has been confined to a wheelchair, and his failing health has forced him to make fewer public appearances.[18]

Virtually all existing accounts of Sathya Sai Baba's life are based on the writings of the late secretary of Sai Baba, professor Narayana Kasturi. [19] Kasturi wrote a biography, which Babb described as "hagiographic", depicting the life of Sai Baba not as a development of the person but as revelations about himself.[20][21] Individuating details are missing in the biography and the childhood is modeled after the life of Krishna.[22]

The Hollywood screenwriter, Arnold Schulman, tried to verify some stories from Kasturi's writings. He came to the conclusion that "for any episode of Baba's childhood, there are countless contrasting versions and, at this point, the author discovered that it was no longer possible to separate the facts from the legend.”[23]

Beliefs and practices of followers[edit]

Sathya Sai Baba gives discourses on religious topics in his native language Telugu to devotees.[24] Twice daily, devotees engage in worship of Sai Baba by conducting rituals such as aarti and singing devotional songs in front of his picture.[24] Sai Baba has said that his followers do not need to give up their original religion.[25] His followers view his teachings as syncretic (uniting all religions). Some famous sayings of his are, "Help ever, hurt never" and "Love all, serve all". According to "Ocean of Love," a book published by the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, "there is no new path that He is preaching, no new order that He has created. There is no new religion that He has come to add or a particular philosophy that He recommends ... His mission is unique and simple. His mission is that of love and compassion."[26]

Across the globe, local Sathya Sai Baba groups assemble to sing bhajans (devotional songs in praise of Sai Baba) often accompanied by rhythmic clapping of hands, to do collective community service (called seva), and teach "Education in Human Values" (Sai Sunday School). While devotees claim that the movement is not missionary, some analysts assert that it is cultish in nature.[27] Bhajans are sung at nearly every meeting with the names of the traditional Hindu deities as well as saints and prophets of other religions occasionally replaced by Baba's name. Hindu chants are sung out aloud with the deity's name replaced by Baba's name, and the worship of Sai Baba are all known happenings.[citation needed]

According to the Sathya Sai organization, Sathyanarayana Raju has written several articles on religious topics, later collected by the trust in the form of books, titled "Vahinis" (vehicles).[citation needed] There are sixteen vahinis.[citation needed]

Sai organization claims to advocate five values: sathya (truth), dharma (Hindu word for right conduct), ahimsa (non-violence), prema (love for God and all his creatures)[28] and shantih (peace).

Other teachings are:

  • Service and charity (seva) to others.[29]
  • Love for all creatures and objects.[29]
  • Putting a ceiling on one's desires is sadhana.[29]
  • Celibacy after age of fifty.[29]
  • Vegetarianism,[28] moderate and sattvik diet.[29]
  • Abstinence from drinking alcohol,[29] smoking cigarettes,[29] and taking drugs.
  • Meditation (dhyan).[29] Baba teaches four techniques: repetition of the 'name of God'( "Sai" or "Sai Baba") ,[29] visualizing the form of God(often on sai baba's physical form),[29] sitting in silence, and jyoti (Flame/Light meditation).[29]
  • Importance of bhakti (devotion) to Sai Baba.[29]
  • Developing "prashanti"( vaguely translates to carefree-ness) and eschewing vices of character.[29]
  • Japa (ritual chanting of Baba's name) and other sadhana (spiritual exercise) to foster devotion.
  • Highly committed devotees use the phrase "Sai Ram" as a salutation.[29]
  • Conducting pooja or aarti( a form of ritual worship) twice daily in front of Baba photos.[citation needed]
  • At the ashram frequent "yagnas" or ritual worship involving ritual sacrifices of vegetable matter and ghee to a pyre is conducted for the baba.[29]

Educational Institutions, Charitable Organizations, Hospitals and Service Projects[edit]

Sathya Sai Baba supports free schools and other charitable works in 166 countries.[30] The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning in Prashanti Nilayam is the only college in India to have received an "A++" rating by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (an autonomous body established by the University Grants Commission).[31][32] His charity supports the Institute of Music and the Institute of Higher Learning in Anantapur, which is a women's college.[33]

The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences in Puttaparthi is a 220 bed facility that provides free surgical and medical care and was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao on November 22, 1991.[34] The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences in Bangalore is a 333 bed hospital meant to benefit the poor.[35] The hospital was inaugurated on January 19, 2001 by the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.[36][37] The hospital has provided free medical care to over 250,000 patients.[38]

The 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.[39]

The 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.[30] The Trust has also funded several major drinking water projects. One project completed in 1996 supplies water to 1.2 million people in about 750 villages in the drought-prone Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh.[40][41] The second drinking water project, completed in 2004, supplies water to Chennai through a rebuilt waterway named "Sathya Sai Ganga Canal".[42][43] Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi praised the Chennai water project and Sai Baba's involvement.[44][45] Other completed water projects include the Medak District Project benefiting 450,000 people in 179 villages and the Mahbubnagar District Project benefitting 350,000 people in 141 villages.[41] In January 2007, the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust said it would start a drinking water project in Latur, Maharashtra.[41]

Sai Baba's Educare program seeks to found schools throughout the world with the goal of educating children in the five human values. According to the Sai Educare site, schools have been founded in 33 countries.[46] The Times of Zambia states, "The positive influence of Sathya Sai is unprecedented in the annals of education in Zambia. Sai Baba’s education ideals as embodied in his human values-based approach in education are an eye opener to educationists in Zambia."[47]

On November 23, 2001, the digital radio network "Radio Sai Global Harmony" was launched through the World Space Organization, USA. Dr. Michael Oleinikof Nobel (distant relative to Alfred Nobel and one of the patrons for the radio network) said that the radio network would spread Sathya Sai Baba's message of global harmony and peace.[48]

In January 2007 the Baba was given a big felicitation in Chennai Nehru stadium organised by the Chennai Citizens Conclave for thanking him for the 200 crore water project which brought water from the River Krishna in Andhra Pradesh to Chennai city. Four chief ministers attended the function. The notable news about this event was that Sai Baba was sharing the same dais with Karunanidhi (Chief Minister of Chennai) who is a very well known hardcore atheist against Hindu gurus / godman and that Karunanidhi was felicitating Sai Baba. This was covered in all newspapers.[49][50]

Materialization and other miracles[edit]

Claims[edit]

Sathya Sai Baba claims to be omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient.[51] In some books, magazines, filmed interviews and articles, Sathya Sai Baba's followers report miracles of various kinds that they attribute to him.[29] Claims have been made by devotees that objects have appeared spontaneously in connection with pictures and altars of Sathya Sai Baba.[52][53] Sathya Sai Baba's devotees believe that he relieves his devotees by transferring their pain to himself.[54] Daily, he is observed to allegedly manifest vibuthi (holy ash), and sometimes food and small objects such as rings, necklaces and watches.[55]

In devotees' houses all around the world, there are claims from observers, journalists and devotees that vibuthi, kumkum, turmeric powder, holy water, Siva lingams, statues of deities (brass and gold), Sugar Candy, fruits, herbs, amrita (a fragrant, nectar-like honey), gems, colored string, writings in ash and various other substances spontaneously manifest and materialize on the walls, furniture, pictures and altars of Sathya Sai Baba.[53][56][57][58][59][60]

The retired Icelandic psychology professor Erlendur Haraldsson wrote that he did not get Sathya Sai Baba's permission to study him under controlled circumstances. Nevertheless, he wrote, he investigated and documented the guru's alleged miracles and manifestations through first-hand interviews with devotees and ex-devotees.[61] Haraldsson's research yielded many extraordinary testimonies of reported miracles. Some of the reported miracles attributed to Sathya Sai Baba included levitation (both indoors and outdoors), bilocation, physical disappearances, changing granite into sugar candy, changing water into another drink, changing water into gasoline, producing objects on demand, changing the color of his gown into a different color while wearing it, multiplying food, healings, visions, dreams, making different fruits appear on any tree hanging from actual stems, controlling the weather, physically transforming into various deities and physically emitting brilliant light.[62]

These devotees and ex-devotees also claimed that they witnessed Sathya Sai Baba materialize many substances from his hand such as vibuthi, lost objects, statues, photographs, Indian pastries (both hot and cold), food (hot, cold, solid and fluid), out of season fruits, new banknotes, pendants, necklaces, watches and rings.[62] Haraldsson wrote that the largest allegedly materialized object that he saw was a mangalsutra necklace, 32 inches long, 16 inches long on each side.[63] Haraldsson wrote that some miracles attributed to Sathya Sai Baba resemble the ones described in the New Testament, but also with some differences. According to Haraldsson, although healings certainly figure into Sai Baba's reputation, his impression is that healings do not play a prominent role in Sathya Sai Baba's activities as in those of Jesus.[64]

Sathya Sai Baba has explained the phenomenon of manifestation as being an act of divine creation, but refused to have his materializations investigated under experimental conditions. Critics claim that these materializations are done by sleight of hand and question his claims to perform miracles and other paranormal feats. In April 1976, Dr. H. Narasimhaiah, a physicist, rationalist and then vice chancellor of Bangalore University, founded and chaired a committee "to rationally and scientifically investigate miracles and other verifiable superstitions". Haraldsson stated that Narasimhaiah wrote Sathya Sai Baba a polite letter and two subsequent letters that were widely publicized in which he publicly challenged Baba to perform his miracles under controlled conditions.[65] Sathya Sai Baba said that he ignored Narasimhaiah's challenge because he felt his approach was improper.[66] Sathya Sai Baba further said about the Narasimhaiah committee that "Science must confine its inquiry only to things belonging to the human senses, while spiritualism transcends the senses. If you want to understand the nature of spiritual power you can do so only through the path of spirituality and not science. What science has been able to unravel is merely a fraction of the cosmic phenomena [...]" [66] According to Erlendur Haraldsson, the formal challenge from the committee came to a dead end because the negative attitude of the committee was obvious and perhaps because of all the fanfare involved. Narasimhaiah stated that he considered the fact that Sathya Sai Baba ignored his letters as one among several indications that his miracles are fraudulent.[67] As a result of this episode, a public debate raged for several months in Indian newspapers.[68] Narasimhaiah's committee was dissolved in August 1977.

Refutation of Claims[edit]

Documentaries produced by the BBC and the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, analyzing videos of the supposed miracles, suggest that they can be explained as sleight of hand tricks.[69][70] In the 1995 TV documentary Guru Busters, by UK's Channel 4, Sathya Sai Baba was accused of faking his materializations. A videotape was provided which suggested that magician's tricks were being utilized. The same videotape was mentioned in the Deccan Chronicle, on 23 November 1992, on a front page headline "DD Tape Unveils Baba Magic".[71]

The documentary Seduced By Sai Baba was produced by Denmark's national television and radio broadcaster Danish radio and was aired in Denmark, Australia and Norway. The documentary carried interviews in which former devotees alleged sexual abuse at Sai Baba's hands and that his "miracles" were the result of sleight-of-hand.[72]

The magazine India Today published in December 2000 a cover story about the Baba and the allegations of fake miracles quoting the magician P. C. Sorcar, Jr. who considered the Baba a fraud.[73] Basava Premanand, a skeptic and amateur magician, asserted that he has been investigating Sathya Sai Baba since 1968 and emphatically believes the "guru" to be a cheater and charlatan. Premanand sued Sathya Sai Baba in 1986 for violation of the Gold Control Act for Sathya Sai Baba's purported "materializations" of gold objects. The case was dismissed, but Premanand appealed on the ground that claimed spiritual power is not a defence recognised in law.[74] Premanand later said that he could duplicate some of Sathya Sai Baba's acts using sleight of hand and the production of a lingam from his mouth.[citation needed]

The British journalist Mick Brown discussed in his 1998 book that Sathya Sai Baba's claim of "resurrecting" the American Walter Cowan in 1971 was probably untrue.[75] His opinion was based on the letters from attending doctors, provided in the Indian Skeptic magazine (published by Premanand).[76][77] Mick Brown also related, in the same book, his experiences with manifestations of vibuthi, from Sathya Sai Baba's pictures in houses in London, which he felt were not fraudulent or the result of trickery.[78] Brown wrote with regards to Sathya Sai Baba's claims of omniscience, that "skeptics have produced documentation clearly showing discrepancies between Baba's reading of historical events and biblical prophecies and the established accounts."[79]

In October 2007, Baba reportedly announced that he would "appear on the moon" and asked devotees to proceed to the local airport.[80] The miracle failed to happen and the baba and his devotees turned back after waiting for an hour. Police officers found it difficult to disperse the utterly disappointed crowd, and no explanation was offered by the Sai Trust for the failure of the miracle. Rationalists claimed the publicity was an attempt to boost the Baba's waning popularity.[80]

Ashrams and mandirs[edit]

The daily program at Sathya Sai Baba's temples usually begins with the chanting of "OM" and a morning prayer (Suprabatham). This is followed by Veda Parayan (chanting of the Vedas), nagarasankirtana (morning devotional songs) and twice a day bhajans and darshan (baba walks around or is wheel-chaired around amongst the gathered devotees) [81] Particularly significant are the darshans during October (the Dasara holidays and November (the month of Sai Baba's birth).[81] During darshan Sathya Sai Baba walks among his followers and may interact with people, accept letters, "materialize" and distribute vibhuti (sacred ash) or call groups or individuals for private interviews. Interviews are chosen solely at the Sai Baba's discretion. Followers consider it a great privilege to get an interview and sometimes a single person, group or family will be invited for a private interview. It is claimed by the Sathya Sai Organization that meeting him has spiritual benefits.[51]

President of India Visits Sai Baba[edit]

On May 7, 2009, the President of India, Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil payed her respects to Sathya Sai Baba with a visit to Prashanti Nilayam, the ashram of Sathya Sai Baba. The President came by a chartered Indian Air Force plane. She was granted a half an hour with Sai Baba. What they discussed is unknown at the present time.[82]

Criticism and controversy[edit]

In 2004 the BBC aired the documentary titled Secret Swami in the United Kingdom. The documentary, based on the experiences of former devotees covered alleged allegations of sexual abuse . The BBC team states that they discovered that there are a number of former devotees who have turned away the from Sai Baba claiming that he ruined their lives.[69] In the documentary Alaya Rahm, who was brought up as a devotee by his parents, recounts his experience of being sexually abused by the swami: "I remember him saying, if you don't do what I say, your life will be filled with pain and suffering. And that’s a pretty heavy thing to hear being sixteen and God’s telling you do what I say or your life is going to be full of pain and suffering." The documentary also touches upon the experience of Mark Roche. Roche, who first heard of the Baba in 1969 and had devoted twenty-five years of his life to the movement, recounts his experience of suffering sexual abuse in the hands of the Baba.[69] BBC states that "Genuine Sai Baba followers like the Rahm family have had their faith shattered in the most disturbing manner. The man they believed to be God was repeatedly sexually abusing their son.The documentary was also broadcast in Australia and ,by the CBC, in Canada. Another documentary, Seduced By Sai Baba, was produced by Denmark's national television and radio broadcaster Danish radio. It was aired in Denmark, Australia and Norway. The documentary carried interviews in which former long-term devotees recount experiencing sexual violations in the hands of the godman.

According to Salon.com's "Untouchable" article from July 25, 2001, there were several instances of alleged abuse. Hari Sampath, an Indian software professional now living in Chicago and a former volunteer in the ashram's security service is concerned for Sai Baba's Indian victims, who generally have a much more difficult time speaking out than Westerners do. During his time at Prasanthi Nilayam, he said, many students at the ashram's college told him they were pressured to have sex with the guru. "Westerners have little to lose by coming forward. The Indians have to go on living among Sai Baba devotees."[26] Sampath also wants the American government to intervene, on the grounds that "American citizens have been knowing about this abuse and taking American boys to Puttaparthi and feeding them to him."[26] According to Michelle Goldberg, the fact that the Baba has high ranking Indian politicians as his supporters and the purported charity works associated with the baba help to explain why he has not been brought into a court of law in India. Goldberg states though rumors of chicanery and worse swirl around all these ventures, even Sai Baba's critics admit that he has eased some of the region's suffering. "God or a fraud, no one doubts the good work done by the Sai organization," wrote the Illustrated Weekly of India.[26] Iranian-American former follower Said Khorramshahgol said, "Sai Baba was my God -- who dares to refuse God? He was free to do whatever he wanted to do with me; he had my trust, my faith, my love and my friendship; he had me in totality." What Sai Baba chose to do with him he claims was to repeatedly call him into private interviews and order him to drop his pants and massage his penis.[26] After Conny Larsson, a Swedish film star who once traveled the world speaking of Sai Baba's miracles, went public about his coerced sexual relations with the guru, the Sai Organization in Sweden was shut down, along with a Sai-affiliated school.[26][69]

In 2000 UNESCO withdrew its cosponsorship of an education conference in Puttaparthi, explaining that it was "deeply concerned about widely reported allegations of sexual abuse involving youths and children that have been leveled at the leader of the movement in question, Sathya Sai Baba.".[26] UNESCO has since withdrawn their media advisory against Sai Baba. In a statement sent to the Sathya Sai Organization, UNESCO stated," I do appreciate this concern and wish to inform you that following your personal intervention, the media advisory in question was immediately withdrawn from the archives of the UNESCO’s website for education."[83]

The Guardian and DNA noted that a travel warning was issued by the US State Department about reports of "inappropriate sexual behavior by a prominent local religious leader", which officials confirm is a direct reference to Sai Baba.ref>Paul Lewis, The Guardian, "The Indian living god, the paedophilia claims and the Duke of Edinburgh awards", 4 November 2006, page 3, Available online '</ref>[84] The Guardian further expressed concerns over a contingent of 200 youths travelling to the Baba's ashram in order to gain their Duke of Edinburgh Awards.[85] However, As of 2009, The travel warning which was issued in 2006 has since been removed from the consular page of India.[86]

The Vancouver Sun noted in 2001 that with "the sex scandal rapidly being unveiled on various Internet sites and in a few newspapers, Sai Baba has told his adherents, whose numbers range from 10 million to 50 million, depending on whom you talk to, not to sign on to the World Wide Web."[87]

Political row[edit]

In January 2007, Sathya Sai Baba found himself embroiled in a political row after his remarks opposing the proposed partition of Andhra Pradesh as a "great sin", claiming that there was no demand from the people to bifurcate the state into Telangana and Andhra states.[88] The comments caused an outcry among pro-Telangana activists who angrily voiced their protests in street marches and attacks on the Sivam building, Sathya Sai Baba's temple in Hyderabad, which was staffed by a few followers. Shouting anti-Sai Baba slogans, the protestors pulled down a large picture of Sai Baba and trampled on it before taking it outside and setting it on fire. An effigy of Sathya Sai Baba was also reported to have been burnt, and twenty protestors were arrested following several police complaints.

A number of political figures criticised Sathya Sai Baba including K. Chandrasekhar Rao, leader of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and former Union Minister, who suggested that Sathya Sai Baba should restrict himself to religious functions and not involve himself in politics. Sai Baba's followers responded by calling a 'bandh' in which shops and business establishments were shut down to protest against the remarks of the Telangana leaders, and effigies of the critics were set alight.[89] K. Kesava Rao, President of the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee, maintained that Sathya Sai Baba's comments had been "misinterpreted" and that the remark was not political. Digvijay Singh, Congress secretary-general, disagreed with suggestions that Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy could have instigated Sathya Sai Baba to make his statement, and confirmed that his party approved plans for the creation of a separate Telangana state. "With due respect to Sai Baba we can say that the work for setting up the second state reorganisation commission will go on," he said.[90]

Raising of funds[edit]

Central to the activities if the Sai organization is raising of funds which, the organization claims, are used for charity. According to an article by the Indian news-agency Thehelka, all donations to the Sathya Sai Central Trust have been given tax exemptions and the total value of the Sai Baba's recorded assets, movable and immovable, both within the country and abroad, is Rs 5,000 crores (approx. 1 billion USD), "give or take a bit". The article states that every year, the Sathya Sai Central Trust is bloated with donations worth approximately Rs 65 crore. It also has about Rs 130 crore in fixed deposits (FD) and other term deposits all over the world. The trust has so far raised about Rs 385 crore in the form of loans for some of the Sai Baba's projects.[91]

According to The Times:"Sai Baba is being challenged on another more prosaic front. Questions are being asked about the fundraising techniques employed by his followers. Some are accused of targeting vulnerable rich people and claiming that the miracle worker might be able to cure the afflictions of old age." The Times reported on the case of Clarissa Mason, the second wife of the film star James Mason: "When Clarissa died of cancer in 1994, she willed a large part of her late husband's £13 million estate to the cult, although, due to a dispute with Mason's children, Portland and Morgan, who contend that the estate was not hers to will in the first place, it will be some time before the cult can hope to see any of the Mason millions. Clarissa Mason believed utterly in the powers of Sai Baba, filling her house near Lake Geneva with pictures of the "godman". Her legacy has gone to a trust whose beneficiaries are believed by Mason's children to include a follower of Sai Baba." Joseph Edamaruku states: " He raises enormous amounts of money from India and around the world. We do not believe claims that it is spent on hospitals and charitable works." [25]

Sai Baba responded in a 1993 discourse to allegations that funds donated to the Sathya Sai Central Trust were used in an improper manner. "The Sathya Sai Central Trust would never be burnt by fire. The trust is so sacred. Every naya paisa is spent in the correct way. We know that. The world does not know that. This body is 67 years old. Swami never stretched His hand at any moment. What is the reason? You will certainly get what is required if you have good feelings either in India or abroad. There are no people who are ready to do that. There will be no dearth of money if you are prepared to do. Therefore, a single naya paisa is not wasted. People say crores and crores are mismanaged. This is utterly false. To give such a publicity to the Central Trust is worst of the sins. In this world, nowhere else things are dealt with in such a sacred way. Therefore, our institution is growing day by day. Not only that. Nothing can happen to our institutions so long as the sun and moon are there. It is because of the envious people that this happened. This publicity leads to restlessness in this world. They earn sin. It is not good. Do good if you are capable. Or shut your mouth and sit quiet. Not doing harm is a great help. You are harming others. It is not good. You may speculate why Swami has not come forward with replies." There must be an appropriate time for everything.[92]

Responses to Criticism[edit]

The Pioneer newspaper published an article about the false and smear allegation campaigns on Sathya Sai Baba. Reports from The Pioneer said that an insidious smear campaign against Sathya Sai Baba quietly fizzled out when Channel Nine MSN removed a biased anti-Baba broadcast from its official Website. The Pioneer said the reasons for removing the video were due to legitimate complaints about the disinformation in the video. The Pioneer has published the details of the failed Alay Rahm sexual allegation case on Sathya Sai Baba. Alay Rahm allegations on Sathya Sai Baba gained media attention and was covered in the BBC documentary and later in Seduced By Sai Baba and in Secret Swami. It was also published in Britain The Daily Telegraph and in India India Today.[93]

The Pioneer reported that Alaya Rahm’s had filed sexual abuse allegations against Sai Baba in the Superior Court of California on January 6, 2005. On April 7 Rahm withdrew his lawsuit. Though it gained publicity his claims were not thoroughly investigated until the lawsuit was filed. The Pioneer sought to cast doubt on Rahm's credibility, saying that Rahm and members of his family had publicly provided "enthusaistic praise of Baba" during the time at which the alleged sexual abuse took place. Also it says that during the lawsuit Alay Rahm admitted to daily using illegal street drugs and alcohol from 1995 to 2005 when he claimed his allegations and also during the filming of the BBC Documentary Secret Swami and the Danish Documentary Seduced By Sai Baba.[93] The Pioneer also reported that Alay Rahm never sought medical or psychiatric treatment for alleged trauma and could not itemise any wage losses. And no other alleged victim came forward to testify in support of his allegations. The Pioneer also reported that no offers of settlement were made and no money or other consideration was paid to Alay Rahm. And under international doctrine of res judicatahm Alay Rahm can never file another lawsuit against Sathya Sai Baba, in the US or in India, for the same claims made in this case.[93]

Sathya Sai Organisation officials and followers response[edit]

Devotee Bill Aitken (traveller) was quoted by The Week as saying that Sathya Sai Baba's reputation has not been harmed by the negatize stories published about the guru. In his opinion, the more detractors rail against Sai Baba, the more new devotees will flock to see him.[94]

In the Divine Downfall published in the Daily Telegraph Prof.AnilKumar, the ex-Principal of the Sathya Sai educational Institute said that he believed that the controversy is part of Baba's divine plan and that every great religious teacher had to face criticism in his/her lifetime. AnilKumar also said that allegations have been leveled at Sai Baba since childhood, but with every criticism he becomes more and more triumphant.[85]

In an official letter released to the general public, in December 2001, A.B. Vajpayee (then Prime Minister of India), P.N. Bhagawati (Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India), Ranganath Misra (Chair Person, National Human Rights Commissioner of India and Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India), Najma Heptulla (President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union; UNDP Distinguished Human Development Ambassador) and Shivraj_Patel (Member of Parliament, India; Formerly of the Lok Sabha & Union Minister) all signed a letter which stated as follows "We are deeply pained and anguished by the wild, reckless and concocted allegations made by certain vested interests and people against Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. We would normally expect that responsible media would ascertain the true facts before printing such calumny - especially when the person is revered globally as an embodiment of love and selfless service to humanity. Since this professional ethic has not been observed by a section of the media, we have elected to go public with this signed statement."[95]

The Times Of India article dated 26 December 2000 said that Sathya Sai Baba lashed out at his detractors referring to the criticism printed in a magazine, the newspaper quoted him saying as follows “Jesus christ underwent many hardships and was put to the cross because of jealousy. Many around him could not bear the good work he did and the large number of followers he gathered. One of his disciples, judas betrayed him”. Further it says Baba said “Today there are thousands just as that judas was tempted to betray jesus, the judases of today too are bought out to lie. Jealousy was the motive behind the allegations levelled at him”.[96]

Sai Baba states in a discourse on Christmas Day, 2000 that "Some people out of their mean-mindedness are trying to tarnish the image of Sai Baba. I am not after name and fame. So, I do not lose anything by their false allegations. My glory will go on increasing day by day. It will never diminish even a bit if they were to publicise their false allegations in the whole world in bold letters. Some devotees seem to be perturbed over these false statements. They are not true devotees at all. Having known the mighty power of Sai, why should they be afraid of the ‘cawing of crows’? One should not get carried away by all that is written on walls, said in political meetings or the vulgar tales carried by the print media." [97]

Further reading[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Edwards, Linda (2001). A Brief Guide to Beliefs: Ideas, Theologies, Mysteries, and Movements. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 137. ISBN 0664222595. 
  2. ^ Lewis, James R. (Editor) (2002). The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions:Second Edition. Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-57392-88-7 Check |isbn= value: length (help). 
  3. ^ Haraldsson, Erlendur, An investigative inquiry on Sathya Sai Baba (1997 revised and updated edition published by Sai Towers, Prashanti Nilayam, India) ISBN 81-86822-32-1
  4. ^ Lochtefeld, James G. (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism (Vol. 2 N-Z). New York: Rosen. ISBN 0-8239-2287-1. 
    Hindu religious figure of the type known as avatar, godman (pg 583)
  5. ^ Nagel, Alexandra (note: Nagel is a critical former follower) "Een mysterieuze ontmoeting... :Sai Baba en mentalist Wolf Messing" published in Tijdschrift voor Parapsychologie 368, vol. 72 nr 4, December 2005, pp. 14-17 (in Dutch)
    *Haraldsson, Erlendur, Miracles are my visiting cards - An investigative inquiry on Sathya Sai Baba, an Indian mystic with the gift of foresight believed to perform modern miracles (1997 revised and updated edition published by Sai Towers, Prasanthi Nilayam, India) ISBN 81-86822-32-1 page 55: "They carried the family name of Ratnakara and belonged to the Raju caste [..]"
    *Menon, Amarnath K. (April 12, 2000). "A God Accused". India Today. Retrieved 2007-12-18.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help):
    *Woodhead, Linda. Religion in the Modern World: Traditions and Transformation. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-21784-9.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
    *Lochtefeld, James G. (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism (Vol. 1). Rosen. ISBN 0-8239-3179-X.  Entry: "Godman"
    *Hummel, Reinhart (1984). "Guru, Miracle Worker, Religious Founder: Sathya Sai Baba". Dialog Center. Retrieved 2007-12-18.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help): "People's motives for that journey are often serious or incurable diseases, for Sai Baba has an unrivaled reputation as a miracle worker."
  6. ^ The Sai Organization: Numbers to Sai Centers and Names of Countries
    "The inspiration of Sathya Sai Baba's example and message of unselfish love and service has resulted in the establishment of over 1,200 Sathya Sai Baba Centers in 114 countries throughout the world."
  7. ^ *Nagel, Alexandra "De Sai Paradox: Tegenstrijdigheden van en rondom Sathya Sai Baba"/"The Sai Paradox contradictions of and surrounding Sathya Sai Baba" from the magazine "Religieuze Bewegingen in Nederland, 'Sekten' "/"Religious movements in the Netherlands, 'Cults/Sects' ", 1994, nr. 29. published by the Free University Amsterdam press, (1994) ISBN 90-5383-341-2 reports the following estimates: Beyerstein (1992:3) [skeptic]: 6 million; Riti & Theodore (1993:31): 30 million; Sluizer (1993:19): 70 million; Van Dijk (1993:30) [follower] "between 50 and 100 million."
    *Adherents cites Chryssides, George. Exploring New Religions. London, UK: Cassells (1999) (10 million)
    *Brown, Mick (2000-10-28). "Divine Downfall". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2007-03-12.  Check date values in: |date= (help)"The guru Sai Baba has left India only once, yet his devotees across the world are estimated at up to 50 million."
    *Edwards, Linda (2001). A Brief Guide to Beliefs: Ideas, Theologies, Mysteries, and Movements. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 0664222595.  (venerated by hundreds of millions in India and abroad)
  8. ^ http://www.vishvarupa.com/sathya-sai-baba/
  9. ^ a b c d Chennai Online, "Sri Sathya Sai Baba : A living Legend" by Ramakrishnan R, Available online
  10. ^ a b c Murphet, Howard (1977). Man of Miracles. Weiser. ISBN 0877283354. 
  11. ^ Babb, Lawrence A. (1983). "Sathya Sai Baba's Magic". Anthropological Quarterly (PDF). Washington DC: The George Washington University Institute for Ethnographic Research. 56 (3): 116–124. ISSN 0003-5491. JSTOR 3317305. doi:10.2307/3317305. : "In 1940, at the age of fourteen, he proclaimed himself to be a reincarnation of the celebrated Sai Baba of Shirdi-a saint who became famous in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries."
  12. ^ a b Bowen, David (1988). The Sathya Sai Baba Community in Bradford: Its origins and development, religious beliefs and practices. Leeds: University Press. ISBN 1871363020. 
  13. ^ Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. I, 31:198; Prashanthi Nilayam (29-9-1960) Sathya Sai Geetha iii Available online (pdf file)
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    "Finally, Prema Sai, the third Avathar will promote the evangelical news that not only does God reside in everybody, but everybody is God. That will be the final wisdom which will enable every man and woman to go to God. The three Avathars carry the triple message of work, worship and wisdom."
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    English "For example, he materializes vibuthi constantly."
    Dutch original "Vibhuti bijv. materialiseert hij aan de lopende band."
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Look also[edit]

External links[edit]


Category:1926 births Category:Living people Category:Hindu gurus Category:Hindu saints Category:Indian religious leaders Category:People claiming to have psychokinetic abilities Category:People considered avatars by their followers Category:Supernatural healing