A RESPONSE TO THE JOURNALISTS' ALLEGATIONS
As you may be aware, a talk show sort of program on India's NDTV recently featured a discussion on Godmen and their miracles and our Swami was the topic of much discussion there. Apart from 3 Sai devotees -- a pilot named Mr. Manvendra Singh, Gen. Chibber and Justice Bhagwati, there were all sorts of people there, criticising and lying about Swami including Swami Agnivesh, a well-known Indian social activist and head of Arya Samaj. Others included a rationalist and a magician named PC Sarkar. The discussion was useless and extremely unbecoming ….of being associated with the sacred name of Sai.
A major media storm against Swami seems to be brewing in India and elsewhere. I had been forewarned re the NDTV program by my friends in Parthi around Swami's b'day time itself. Prior to this, there was a very negative article by a well-known columnist named Vir Sanghvi in the Hindustan Times.
After much thought, I decided to respond to the host of the show Ms. Barkha Dutt and to Swami Agnivesh, a vocal critic of Swami, purely in my personal capacity, using my rogers email id.
Just wanted to share my response with you for purposes of information.
Read on ….
December 4, 2006
Dear Ms. Dutt,
I watched your show "We the People" regarding Godmen and their miracles with keen interest because it purported to demystify, among others, Sri Sathya Sai Baba, my personal hero and role model.
While I appreciate your efforts to allow both sides to have a voice on the show, I feel compelled to point out a few glaring inaccuracies featured on the show. A number of derogatory statements were made on the show about Sri Sathya Sai Baba that were factually inaccurate.
For starters, Baba's mission is to empower humanity, by reminding us that each of us is a bundle of infinite possibilities—that each of us is verily God. People misquote him when they say that Baba claims to be God. What Baba does say is that he is God as much as each and every one of us is God, the only difference being that most of us are not aware of our divinity. In no way does he prey on anyone, only infuses self-confidence and optimism.
Secondly, all the money that devotees contribute to the Sai Trust is utilized for providing free education (Kindergarten to PhD levels), free super-specialized health-care and clean drinking water, among other services. It is channelled to bring relief to those whom our governments have failed to assist. The education is of a world-class standard and combines academic excellence with character education. I should know. Nine members of my family over two generations have been or are being educated at his schools and colleges. My son is currently attending Grade 1 at his school here in Toronto. The only words to describe our experiences with Sai Baba are pure, sacred, inspiring, peaceful and divinely loving. Next time you have a question regarding Sai Baba, I suggest you feel free to contact any of us as we are real people, with names, faces and addresses and have had direct experiences with him, unlike the handful of anonymous people running websites to defame Swami. A bit of investigation shows that although they claim that they have hundreds of supporters, some of them have never even met Baba and other names are hoaxes. We, his students are not nameless, faceless unidentifiable nobodies; why not ask us?
Baba inspires millions around the globe to lead purpose-driven lives by practicing the five universal values of Truth, Peace, Love, Right Conduct and Non-violence. That is why people of all major faiths and culture are drawn to him. If someone has a problem with such a great teacher and his gospel of universal acceptance, I think they need serious psychological help. I wish them well.
Miracles—the topic of hot discussion on your show –can be discussed ad-nauseam without arriving at a conclusion. It is indeed a matter of faith and personal belief but let me tell you what Sai Baba's greatest miracle has been to date -- the transformation of millions of hearts around the globe. He has reached out to and touched lives in places far and near Puttaparthi and transformed crores, not lakhs of persons to practice more truth, peace, love, right conduct and non-violence in their daily lives. Only a genuine practitioner of such a noble and virtuous path can inspire others including highly educated, successful and intelligent people from a variety of cultural, religious and professional backgrounds. To my knowledge, no magician, has been able to achieve that.
Baba has taught his followers to live beyond the tight cocoon of their self interest and see others, especially those in need, as an extension of themselves. He says "The hands that help are holier than the lips that pray". He also reminds us all the time to "Help Ever, Hurt Never" and "Love All, Serve All." If promoting such broadmindedness and civic-consciousness is wrong, I wonder then what is right?
The other main issue that your show highlighted was alleged abuse. I am sure that an intelligent journalist like you will agree that if there was any iota of truth in any of the allegations, someone somewhere would have filed a lawsuit and produced evidence supporting it in the world. Faceless, fictitious and nameless individuals who are using the internet as their platform to make allegations are disgruntled and unhappy people. All the websites have their source in just two individuals – an Australian professor connected with an anti-Semitic institute and his other friend who used who runs a fundamentalist group for a major faith group with strong monetary muscle.
Historically, whenever a prophet or a divine being guides humanity on the right path, there are those who find it so hard to accept that they are not the sole proprietors of the Truth that they vilify Him. Such was the fate of Lord Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and others. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, being a personification of Truth and Love is no exception. In some way or the other, those opposed to the message of Truth try to character assassinate or simply crucify the messengers. Such is their level of opposition to the Truth. They just can't handle it with their closed hearts and minds.
Baba's message of universal love and the Brotherhood of Humanity and the Fatherhood of God is a unifying message. There are some groups, might I add powerful and moneyed, that prey on human weaknesses and zealously attempt to divide humanity into different groups and classes. They believe in their way or the highway. They suffer from what may be described as a superiority complex in the spiritual sense. Such groups feel threatened by this little brown person, who sitting in a remote corner of Southern India is having such a liberating and uniting effect on millions world-wide. People who failed to find answers in their traditional faiths are finding that with Baba's guidance and in light of His teachings, they are developing a keener and deeper understanding of their own faith. They are able to rise above the literal translation of their scriptures and experience the cosmic understanding. They begin to experience the oneness of mankind. This threatens the powers that operate on the premise that some humans are created more equal than others and have special passes to win the grace and love of God. These powers insist on only specific routes to liberation. Baba says there are as many paths to divinity as there are human hearts. He insists everyone has equal chances of realizing their innate divinity if they practice the five human values of Truth, Right Conduct, Peace, Love and Non-violence. He says He is here not to start a new faith, but only to urge a Christian to be a true Christian, a Moslem to be true to his faith in Islam and a Buddhist to be true to the teachings of Buddha and so on. At the level of ethics, Baba points out that all faiths simply tell us to be good human beings - loving, kind, forgiving and compassionate. So look past the superficial name tags and recognize the oneness of the life force that runs through all diversity. This powerful and piercing insight that He provides freely to all is what is threatening many who fear losing their congregations to this Messiah of the New Age.
Normally, I would not even bother to write to the media, because I know the game as well as anyone else. What drives such stories is the bottom line not always a desire to get to the bottom of the story. However, since I noticed some effort on your part to include the viewpoint of those of us who revere him, I took the time to express myself.
In the spirit of fair journalism, I urge you to visit Prashanthi Nilayam and enquire first hand what draws millions to Baba and seek to understand the vision of his mission with an open mind. Trust me, no one will attempt to convert you to any "ism" there. It never happens.
If you ever need any other information, feel free to contact us. We are real people, with real experiences with Baba, over 4 generations covering my grand-parents, parents, our family, including our children.
As a former student of Sri Sathya Sai Baba's University, I was blessed to study in Anantapur, India for 6 years (1980-86). More recently, my daughter studied in Baba's elementary school in Puttaparthi for 5 years (1996-2001). In my immediate family, eight of us studied in various Sai educational institutes in Puttaparthi and nearby Anantapur. Over our combined 36 years of stay near Baba, what we have experienced is nothing but pure and divine love, unsullied by anything associated with worldly love. Very weakly, it can be described as the love of a thousand parents that we received from Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
Each of us can vouch with utmost confidence and conviction that Sri Sathya Sai Baba is a sacred master, who is an incarnation of purity and divine love. I am sure you will agree that for my siblings and I (former Sai students), to allow our young children to study in his elementary school, we must have a strong sense of confidence in the pure and safe environment of the holy land of Puttaparthi.
Do I need to defend him? No! The sun does not need for anyone to announce its rise every morning. The midday sun fills us with its golden light and warmth, yet someone who does not possess the capacity to experience it can deny the very existence of the planet. Only a clean piece of iron attracts a magnet. One that is covered with rust and dirt is not drawn to it. So too only a pure and spiritually ripe individual can experience Baba's divinity. Not everyone is that fortunate.
I wish the media would not slant everything into a sensational controversy and occasionally use this powerful tool to highlight something inspiring, sublime and reassuring such as selflessness and altruism. Thank you for your time. If you have a question or a concern in this connection, feel free to call me, 24/7. I look forward to hearing from you.
103 Golden Tulip Crescent
Markham, Ontario, Canada - L6C 1W4
Tel: (905) 887 2430
Dear Miss Dutt, Please forward the following email to Swami Agnivesh as I don't know how to reach him. Thank you.
Revered Swami Agnivesh,
Pranaams and Namaskar! My name is Karuna Sarup-Munshi and I am a graduate of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Anantapur Campus in Andhra Pradesh. I studied in Sri Sathya Sai Baba's university for six years, from 1980-1986. I consider that period as the golden period of my life as it accounted most significantly towards my spiritual growth and development.
As Baba's students, I was encouraged to read biographies of great leaders, especially those of who represent India's great spiritual heritage. Till date, I have the highest respect for the spiritual scientists of India, its sages and seers. Hence, I was terribly disappointed by what you said on Barkha Dutta's show recently with regards to the Chancellor of my university, my best friend and role model, Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
While you were willing to let Sai Baba be because he provides clean water to millions, you urged him to:
1) Stop preying on innocent, gullible people
2) Stop the abuse, because a teary-eyed Australian approached you for help
3) Initiate social reforms on such issues as women's empowerment
With all due respect and in the spirit of Sanathan Dharma, Swamiji, may I request that you enquire well before making such serious allegations against anyone, be it Sai Baba or someone else, unless you have tangible proof. We do great disservice to the hoary traditions we claim to represent when we freely criticise and condemn someone using a powerful medium without first checking our facts. If the true ornament of the tongue is truth, then perhaps we should seek the truth of the matter before drawing any conclusions in haste and misinforming others.
With regards to your first allegation, we are all drawn to him because of the power of his love and selflessness. To us, Baba exemplifies everything positive and good in human nature. He inspires us to strive to be good human beings who are caring and selfless, just like him and we express our devotion to him by serving our fellow beings in our local communities in numerous ways. Should you wish to know about the many service projects we the devotees of Sai Baba undertake around the globe, please feel free to contact us, real people with real names, faces and real addresses. Meanwhile, you may be pleased to learn that the greatest gift that Sai Baba has conferred upon us is our self-confidence. None of us are or have ever been gullibly preyed upon in any manner whatsoever. In fact he discourages gullibility and reminds us to think for ourselves and use our power of discrimination. Baba does not use any force to draw us to himself and nor does he enslave us emotionally or spiritually. He urges each of us to pursue our own faith, with deeper devotion, and urges us to love everyone without prejudice. What, may I ask, is wrong with that?
Swamiji, your acquaintance in Adelaide, Australia should have filed a lawsuit and produced some evidence before you chose to quote him and generalize his allegations so flippantly, to freely defame Sri Sathya Sai Baba to millions of viewers on TV with scant regard to the truth. Besides, I am curious to know, how exactly did you help this forlorn soul who came to you for counsel? Anything more substantial than repeated a hearsay charge on television as the ultimate truth would have been a more responsible way to deal with it, I would think.
Finally, I am happy to inform you that in the 1960's when Baba began setting up institutes of higher learning that would combine academic excellence with character education, the first college he set up was exclusively for women at Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh.
To a former student of that college, a mother, a professional and intelligent person like me, Sai Baba is the greatest advocate of women's rights and the greatest feminist on the face of earth. He has taken the women's empowerment to his logical and spiritual conclusion by reminding us that in the entire creation, humanity is the most superior and among human beings, women represent the epitome of God's creation. He has made women realize that they should not merely seek mental, emotional, physical or financial freedom but assert their true nature by identifying with the atma. This awareness of our atmic freedom is his greatest gift to women. The Sai community celebrates November 19 as Women's Day world-wide and also the 19 th of every month. Baba's teachings speak of oneness and unity, not dividing society on basis of class, culture, or any such barriers. How I wish you had checked your facts!
Swamiji, as Baba's student and hence his daughter, I will be more than happy to answer any of your questions or address your concerns regarding the purity and sacredness that is associated with my teacher, guide and role model Sri Sathya Sai Baba. His life has inspired millions of us to live more meaningful and purpose-driven lives wherever we are. My children represent the 4 th generation devotees of Baba in our family and we speak purely from our experiences, not hearsay and I am sure you will agree that first-hand experiences counts more than the juicy gossip one may catch from the grapevine.
Swamiji, if you are visiting Canada, please know that you are most welcome to our home. We will be delighted to answer your questions and share our feelings with you. Better still, why don't you visit Prashanti Nilayam for yourself and separate the facts from the myths?
That which is true will survive any blasphemy, lies, canard and slander. That which is untrue will never pass the test of time. Who knows this better than a spiritual seeker such as yourself? While some people will continue to spend their time, energy and resources to malign Sri Sathya Sai Baba, his glory continues to spread globally and crores, not lakhs, of people continue to be drawn to Baba because of the power of his personal example and message.
With Regards, and Namaskar!
103 Golden Tulip Crescent
Canada L6C 1W4
Tel: (905) 887 2430
Please click on the following link:
For those who wish to know more about Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's Background, His Life History, His writings and Why He Has Come?, His Teaching, The Service Projects undertaken under the Guidance of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba...etc .... please click on the below-mentioned links