from all members are able to reconcile this with Baba's teachings about correct
use of money and the primacy of care to the poor, nor the expensive developments
of the lavish marbled temple compound (the Kulwant Mantap) with its unnecessary
150-plus huge chandeliers, the very costly "Eternal
Spiritual Heritage Museum" and
a huge architectural hodge-podge celebrating the Sai universal mission, "Chaitanya Jyothi" reportedly
costing over US$5 million, was added in 2000. Numerous other wasteful building projects have taken place,
including the huge and ostentatious luxury apartment building for statesmen
VIPs that is seldom in use, the Sri Kasturi Reading Room that was pulled down
after a few years to make room for other projects. An ashram shopping centre
built only around 1995 has been replaced recently by a much larger one. All
this bad (non-prescient?) planning is also seen in the demolition of the one-time
Shanthi Vedika at P.N. which became a hindrance, the permanently unoccupied
luxury apartment villa built beside the Western Canteen and Roundhouses for
a Princess (of Thailand?) and the demolition of the Sai Ramesh Hall at Whitefield
after only a few years of use to be replaced by a more lavish structure. A
very luxurious 'lingam-shaped' temple at Muddenahalli, between Puttaparthi and Bangalore, managed by the Sathya Sai Central Trust, cost over Rs. 200
million when built around 1993 on the lines of the Prashanthi Nilayam mandir,
with a luxury apartment complex for Sai Baba and his entourage. He visits the adjoining school complex, but has
not (yet) stayed in the apartment.
Indians and other Easterners – who make up the overwhelming majority of visitors
to Sai Baba’s ashrams - evidently want their god-guru constantly to be surrounded
by outward signs of his greatness and make great financial efforts to affect
this. He condones many such efforts, according to his own explanations, solely
because of the devotion and goodness of those who make them. Yet this going
along with such extravagance has only encouraged more and bigger showpieces,
which he also invariably accepts and certainly also seems to revel in himself.
For example, silver motorised chariots, golden thrones, huge light displays,
pomp-filled birthday and many other celebrations. In discourses, Sai Baba has also
criticised expensive aspects of ceremonies as the ostentatious Golden Chariot
at the Paduka celebrations and asked for it to be sold and the money used
for service instead, but he continued to mount it yearly even after this disavowal
Other wasteful projects include the expenses of laying a cricket field and
other arrangements for an international cricket match in 1997 with its 20kgs.
solid gold Cricket
Unity Cup and solid silver
trophies, excessive Las Vegas type illuminations and other showpieces at Sai Baba
birthdays and many more festivals.
teacher preaching ‘Serve All, Love All’ should use such huge funds for such
publicity in Andhra Pradesh, where many live on the poverty line and clean
drinking water still is extremely scarce in huge areas, is beyond serious
explanation. The tasks of correction and maintenance of the incomplete and
often malfunctioning super-costly ‘Water Project’ that Sai Baba caused to be installed
with improper planning and undue haste (to be complete for inauguration on
his own 70th birthday!), were soon shed onto the AP State authorities.
Facts about the malfunctioning are known to Indian experts in water management
and not least to the Central Trust, but admitted and all such problems are
suppressed on their publicity website.
in all, some of the paperwork directives from the Overseas Chairman and others
calling for financial support for such projects have confronted many of us with
the fact that the SSO has slid gradually further and further away from Sai Baba's
teachings, especially from his insistence on the importance of quality of
spiritual work and an organisation based on inner motivation, rather than one
supposedly ‘run by leaders’ to achieve worldly projects.
The Spiritual HeritageMuseum, though
ostensibly to promote all religions and universal spirituality, highlights Sai Baba
as its decided centrepiece - the only One Living God the Father and Holy Spirit
who rules over everyone and everything. Self-publicity on such a scale (Sai Baba
having supervised every detail of the project) conflicts roundly with Sai Baba’s own
declarations of wishing and needing no publicity other than personal good work
and of not requiring anyone to worship him. In the setting of what is called a
‘museum’, this promotional showpiece made at such expense seems remarkably out
of place. The centrepiece of Sai Baba's 75th birthday - the 'Chaitanya Jyothi'
building was an even more extravagant venture solely devoted to glorification
of the 'living avatar'. Sai Baba thus eagerly supports all kinds of initiative and
activity that go to increase what is a ‘personality cult’ focussed on himself,
by any definition of the phrase.
matters are often far from being dealt with in accordance with Baba's repeated
pronouncements, year after year, about never asking anyone for a penny and
that the SSO shall not solicit funds, saying that where there is money, there
he is absent. However, repeated fund-raisings appeals for money for the hospital
were made in his journal, which is published and sold in large numbers (The
English version of Sanathana Sarathi was already selling a minimum
50,000 copies per month some years ago). A direct financial appeal made through
the SSO itself to all members to support the Rayalaseema water project through
a highly suspicious share investment scheme was backed up by the Overseas
Chairman and very active soliciting of funds by a Central Coordinator. Considerable
donations are also solicited from individuals by personal
approach by CCs.Increasingly to seek funds for service projects in India,
new buildings and diverse other local purposes, often at the expense of projects
in other countries that contribute, is not at all what Baba has previously
preached. These requests for money are now made via letters from the central
authorities in Sathya Sai institutions and even in announcements in the public
journal Sanathana Sarathi.
In recent years, however, it has been common to have a collection
box in some prominent place in centres and groups, where donations can be
made - either anonymously or by name. One of numerous
examples that could be documented was sent in from an Australian devotee.
production and large scale sale of films and videos and books about Sathya
Sai service activities is undeniably also a form of publicity. In 2001, Sai Baba
angrily denounced the allegations made internationally by more than a dozen
independent sources about his sexual practices - and he proclaimed, ‘I am
not on the Internet’ (despite his claimed Omnipresence). Nonetheless, his
ashram, the Sathya Sai Central Trust and many national branches of the SSO
advertise on the Internet. We find the SSO very active with his connivance
at http://www.sathyasai.org/ and in other
media such as the radio, e.g. a 24-hour Digital Radio Broadcasting Station
on Bhagawan's 76th Birthday -- 23 Nov. 2001 in Asia, a service available
through Worldspace ASIA's STAR WEST, the SSO official web site informs us.
Many National and other SSO centres have their own web pages.
aspect of publicity made by the SSO are undue claims of achievements - or
exaggerated accounts - that are sometimes made and are left uncorrected, extending
baseless claims and denying corrections of inaccurate glowing accounts. This
has occurred most notably with Education in Human Values claims, the failed villages project and the flawed water project.
Membership - quality vs. quantity:
It is almost a
natural law that organisations tend to want to be successful, such as in
increasing active membership, and not least in obtaining a good image and
positive publicity. However, Sai Baba has many times declared that the SSO should
always prefer quality to quantity and not work just to increase the number
of members. Through the years there has been constant internal pressure
to register members and their attendance, to progress by almost any means
- if only on paper - from the status of a group to a Centre (which shall
have at least 9 active members) and to increase the number of projects undertaken,
without due regard to the quality of the work or prevailing local conditions
known best to those actually doing the service work.
example, when I was leader for the Oslo group & Norway, I once tried
to correct membership
figures I had sent in but which had been inflated by our ‘superior’
regional office-bearer, who was very keen to represent us as a centre, though
we had only 4 members. I have repeatedly come across others from around
the world (e.g. Denmark, Sweden, Venezuela, Austria, UK…), who complain
of the same kind of pressures and/or inflated misrepresentation of their
activities by higher coordinators. To exaggerate membership and numbers
surely shows a lack of faith in Sai Baba, as if the success of his mission depended
upon the SSO or the size of his following? (All SSO leaders know well that
he has frequently declared that his mission cannot fail, there is no power
capable of opposing it and even said that he could have the whole world
at his feet if he wished, but that is not his desire). However, it is known
that Sai Baba exaggerates
wildly, which sets precedents to repeat and copy.
SSO upper hierarchy is much focussed on recruitment figures, and are entirely
uninterested in any statistics that show ‘de-recruitment’ (i.e. loss of
members, not followers and visitors who fall away etc.). This runs contrary to
the interest of most other groups, organisations etc. not only in their gains,
but also their losses. Voluntary bodies (charitable organisations, idealistic
non-governmental movements, political parties etc.) all naturally consider
their effect on members, supporters, voters etc., for they wish to improve
their attraction, advance their work and understand why people leave, are
disaffected etc. Not so the SSO. The SSO relies on the simple fact that those
who leave soon disperse and, not being a homogenous group or in contact with
the SSO any more, will not be noticed. Another matter is what is known and
discussed behind closed doors, perhaps? Repeated pronouncements from Indulal
Shah and others show how it keeps on denying facts and ‘massaging’ statistics
so as not to lose face, under the constant belief (or hope?) that virtually
every day brings many more followers and that the entire world knows about Sai Baba!
Despite this, it should be added that circulars have been sent to all centres
asking them to contact all ex-members inviting them to rejoin and to increase
membership by recruiting any non-organised Sai groups one can find.
Brothers and sisters?
It is interesting to observe
how the CCs of the SSO use as substitutes to Mr., Mrs., or Ms. as prefixes
to names of other devotees the words ‘Brother’ and ‘Sister’, as if they
were formal titles (often somewhat absurdly abbreviated to Bro. when writing
letters: e.g. ‘Bro. Shah’ and ‘Bro. Hira’, though so far we have not yet
seen ‘Sis.’ used). However this is in direct disregard of Sai Baba’s repeated
ridiculing of using the titles 'brother'
and 'sister' as a deception while not behaving fully as such. He has very
pointedly remarked that, if one really acted as a brother, one would not
even walk past a penniless beggar in the street without sharing all one
had with him. I have seen or know of more than enough instances of behaviour
by several top Sai leaders (not forgetting certain of the Indian Seva Dal)
that make people feel they are hardly even far distant cousins. Indeed,
who among us can claim that they can announce they are a true brother or
sister of all without becoming a hypocrite? This conflict between what the
guru says and the follower does invariably will have some cause.
this case, we may note that, in the West this usage suggests the person is a
monk or a nun, or at least an evangelical or other sect member. The person is
seen as wishing to emphasize that he or she is religious. But these ‘titles’
have a strongly sectarian, often ‘fundamentalist’ and naive overtone that serve
more to disaffect than inspire the great majority of normal adults in the West,
and largely make for a laughing stock… especially when these words are far
from always matched by really brotherly and sisterly actions. So the
explanation of this deviance from the guru’s advice can be an overwhelming
desire to present oneself as conformist religious and a ‘good person’, to keep
up sectarian morale and to cloak the negative effects of the otherwise starkly
quasi-military chain of command from ‘superior’ to ‘inferior’ in which these
‘brothers and sisters’ take part. This, at least, is a sociological hypothesis
to explain the social custom.
treatment afforded to those who leave office or the SSO by many higher office
bearers is to ignore them. Those who leave because they disagree with the
regime, or for various other reasons (including illness), are seldom contacted
again or offered any kind of help, even when they may have worked tirelessly
for the SSO for years. Worse still is the way those whose faith in Sai Baba weakens
or who leave due to disaffection. They are labelled as being 'disgruntled',
'having too big egos' and as 'chaff blown away by the wind'. Those who feel
they must challenge Sai Baba because of evidence of illegal activities have by
CCs been charged without any evidence of being guilty of the same activities
themselves. This hardly accords with the constantly repeated teaching of
Sai Baba demanding respect of all persons, compassion and truthfulness. See 'criticising ex-devotees'.
Women treated as equals?
During the 70th birthday celebrations, Sai Baba introduced for
the first time a Ladies Day (19th November,
1995), when all spiritual functions are
taken over by ladies in place of men. This is a relatively modern idea in
Indian society, but not in many other parts of the world. It was remarked
that the ladies have their day, but the men still have the other 364 days
of the year, and there is much truth in many a word said in jest. In the
SSO the influence of women is known to and recognised only by women, it
certainly appears so in all respects. Ladies’ Day is made of it in ashram
publicity because ladies are for once given a front place during the celebrations,
but this has not noticeably altered the role of women in the SSO, or other Sai Baba institutions. This is certainly due to Sai Baba’s traditional (and often self-contradictory)
view of the female as being first and last a home-maker and child-rearer.
the real backbone of the SSO everywhere consists in women workers, though they
hold virtually no decision-making positions in the world movement. The
proportion of women devotees to men is high in all the ashrams too. However,
the running of the SSO is overwhelmingly dominated by men. At conferences in India, women are
relegated to inferior places in the locale. To give an example, at the World
Conference in 1995, women delegates had to sit on the floor in a cramped space
at the side of the hall, while the men (decidedly the minority there as always)
occupied the centre of the spacious hall and male leaders sat on rows of chairs
placed right in front of everyone. When ordinary delegates were at last given
half an hour to voice opinions, one delegate - a Western man - brought up this
matter. The International Chairman I. Shah had already absented the locale
nonchalantly in full view of all directly beforehand. Sai Baba is well-known for
giving the lion’s share of his attention to men, often ignoring women totally,
which sets an example in concrete.
All-inclusive love of everyone?
Before long, every office-bearer is faced with dilemmas
about how to deal with difficult persons who visit group meetings and centres.
From discussions at international meetings it is evident that this occurs
all the time in all countries. It is not surprising that Sai Baba is approached
through the SSO by many who are suffering from incurable illnesses, chronic
health problems, psychic problems, and – because of the massive publicity
about incredible miracles etc. – people with a poor grip on reality, warped
or delusional ideas about spirituality and religion as well as persons who
feel they should run things, decide over others, receive privileges because
they believe they can heal people or convey wisdom from Sai Baba as mediums or
by other esoteric means.
fact has led to a range of different (informal) restrictive practices – not
formulated in the rules - to handle such persons. Regional committees issue
advice and sometime requirements in such cases. Membership is often denied to
those who fail to conform to various requirements over and above those stated
in the Charter(s), such as following a long course for aspirants, partaking in
regular group service activities and so forth. Serious critics of Sai Baba are mostly
soon made unwelcome by a number of means, including ostracism and even physical
exclusion from meetings. Unruly and ill-behaved persons - or those who
persistently challenge in argument SSO groups or their leaders - are treated
likewise, just as people are who overstep the fairly narrow behavioural limits
at Sai Baba ashrams. However necessary this may seem to the running of a group, it
remains a kind of exclusivity which, by Baba’s strict requirements, is seen as
going against the all-inclusive love and respect of others he calls for… and
this leads to various conflicting ideas and feelings among members and office-bearers,
and is in our experience especially disturbing to infrequent guests and
visitors to centres. Such human issues arise and are often dealt with similarly
in society elsewhere, but then the SSO lays claim to having a much higher
standard of love, compassion, and tolerance.
SSO shall not take part in joint service projects with any other humanitarian
or spiritual organisation, according to Sai Baba's own amendment to the resolutions
of the VI World Conference, 1995. Moreover there is an unwritten policy in the
SSO not to take part in any spiritual meetings and forums where Sai Baba could be
presented as one among others. Likewise, circulars from the Central Office have
now and again instructed that other gurus or leaders of different spiritual
organisations may not to be invited to speak at SSO meetings. No genuine
interfaith dialogue exists within the SSO. The expectation that people should
be led to recognise Sai Baba as God is too prevalent among members, from whom
this belief is required as the No. 1 article of faith.
Not hearing or speaking ill of others:
A typical dilemma caused by conflicting ‘norms’ is that
between the common expectation to follow Baba’s teaching about not speaking
ill of anyone versus the expectation from strong believers within the Sai
movement and SSO that leaders should refute all allegations against it or Sai Baba and to defame critics. Such persons are repeatedly referred to in Sai
circles and the SSO as ‘having too big egos’, ‘bad men’ (a term Baba often
uses in interviews), ‘disgruntled persons jealous of others and/or Baba’s
achievements’ and, more recently, ‘representing vested interests’. Even
when known to be groundless, these pseudo-explanations are virtually a part
of the Sai liturgy and are used almost as if they were protective mantras.
Their function, in branding others, is indeed to protect devotees from knowing
why other devotees can even consider ‘leaving God’ or from finding out the
reasons for their disaffection.
number of derogatory and disrespectful statements were made by various CCs
in internal printed circular letters and to the press in some countries
against a considerable number of admittedly serious criticisms of Sai Baba since
1999. Various SSO office-bearers stigmatised ex-devotees out of hand as
‘sick’ and worse, themselves having made no contact with these persons,
nor being willing to investigate the facts reported in their public testimonies.
Sai Baba’s published words in his Christmas discourse of 2001 leave no shred
of doubt that even mentioning these allegations is forbidden. This soon
led to the dismissal of at least one high office-bearer. (see
S. Badaev’s testimony) All defamatory
words against critics were a definitive break with the whole letter and
spirit of Sai Baba’s repeated teachings.
Security in the ‘Abode of Supreme Peace’?
Sathya Sai has many times proclaimed
that no one and nothing can harm him. He named his ashram Prashanthi Nilayam
(which means ‘The Abode of Supreme Peace’). In numerous books blessed by
Baba it is stated that visitors to Prashanthi are under the protection of
Sai Baba, no harm can befall them etc. SSO encourages its members to visit Sai Baba
ashrams, often arranging group visits and making their travel arrangements.
The information given in advance to newcomers is, in all permitted literature
and in talks given about conditions there is seriously lacking in frankness
as to certain dangers that can be met, even within the ashrams. All information
about deaths therein, murders, suicides, fatal accidents and other major untoward incidents is suppressed. Those who have found out, usually by chance or private contacts
about such events, have had to rationalise hard to sustain belief in all
that Sai Baba promises about his protection and with his much-publicised motto
‘Why fear when I am here?’ Serious discussion of these facts is taboo in
the SSO. The conflict of belief and reality, and of word and action in this
raises many questions that are quashed by issuing spiritual directives on
how it is best to mind one’s own business, examine oneself instead etc.
The attitude one is supposed to take is that, if Sai Baba allowed an event to
happen in his ashrams (or nearby or even anywhere in the world!), it must
be for the best… be it contagious illness, injury, sudden death, murder,
cover-up etc. What appears harmful to us, it is repeatedly told, must be
in accordance with the All-Good, All-Knowing Divine Will of Sai Baba. It is just
that we don’t understand anything of it!
the much-publicised murders of six persons in Sai Baba’s rooms in June 1993, which
were impossible to keep under cover, the security arrangements at Prashanthi
have been very much increased. All can see the armed security personnel
provided by the Indian authorities and the metal-detectors one must go through
to each darshan or gathering in the proximity of Sai Baba. All can see the new
apartment of Baba, but only from a considerable distance due to 24-hour
guarding of all approaches to it. By 1996, I was informed by V.K. Narasimhan
that the ashram itself was spending Rs.100,000 per month for plain clothes
security men, trained in commando techniques, who mingle with the devotees.
This was ostensibly for the benefit of visiting devotees as well as for Sai Baba
himself, who lives in what Narasimhan characterised as a fortress-like
apartment with an unclimbable overhanging balcony and access only by internal
lift, which is locked at night. On top of this comes a constant guard of 500
unpaid male volunteers for the Seva Dal - also to partake in surveillance work.
Many of them carry out security duties throughout the ashrams on a 1 or 2 week
basis, coming from all over India for the period during which they often do
guard duties for 12 hours of each day. A very costly and massive array of Black
Beret commandos take over at functions which the P.M. and President of India
attend, often causing crowd crushes, such as at the bi-decennial birthday
celebrations (i.e. 65th, 70th etc,)
threats received by the ashrams are never made known (except by independent
sources in the press), and devotees are left in the belief that there are no
threats of such dangers. A bomb threat from Tamil Eelam were received prior to
the 75th birthday, which was quietly reduced in size by the ashram
authorities without giving the reason as reported in the Indian press.
Universality, non-discrimination as to
creed or religion:
Perhaps the most serious and deep-lying conflict between Sai Baba’s teachings and SSO activities (being based on recommendations in the
Charter) is rooted in its traditional Hindu-orientation in methods of worship,
the forms commonly worshipped (mostly) and the insistence on the nature
of Sai Baba as being God Himself, the Avatar of the Age. At least one picture
of Sai Baba is invariably the centrepiece of all meetings of worship in SSO groups
and Centres, as it is at all the ashrams and Sai Baba temples in India. Many centres
have a highly-decorated empty chair in a prominent place, sometimes with
an orange robe from Sai Baba spread on it.
Though Sai Baba says he accepts Islam as an essentially true faith, and would not exclude
Muslims, Islam itself rejects out of hand the possibility of an avatar of God
as it is preached by Sai Baba. Thus, the first requirement of the SSO to have faith
in Sai Baba automatically denies believing Muslims of almost all Islamic sects (bar
some Sufi-Muslims) from being members. Sai Baba claims to be the one whom all prayers
actually reach, to whichever divine form of god, deity or saint they may be
addressed. He has referred to himself as “all gods rolled into one” and claims
to be the one and only ‘full’ incarnation of God in this entire ‘Kali’ or Dark
Era of thousands of years (along with his previous form, Shirdi Sai, and his
coming form, Prema Sai). He does not insist that everyone accept this, but in
practice the SSO virtually requires it
soon as Sai Baba is set up by devotees in public as the supreme teacher
whom all should follow, it becomes a divisive social and political idea.
To hold that Sai Baba is the only existing divinity - as so many Sai followers
do even after decades of listening to his denials of this in discourses
- is about as exclusive of other faiths and as misguided as all those Christians
who wrongly insist that the only way to God is through Jesus Christ and
that all others are misguided, even calling them 'unredeemed', 'lost souls'
and so on. Further, a number of central pronouncements of Sai Baba about Jesus
go firmly against the teachings of both mainstream Catholicism, Protestantism,
Baptism and of dozens of other Christian sects. See Brian Steel's analyses. In trying to bridge this
gaping gap, the Catholic priest, Mario Mazzoleni, conducted services which
combined Christian mass/communion with the use of Sai Baba’s ‘holy ash’ (vibhuti),
singing of both Sanscrit bhajans and Christian hymns etc. He was formally
excommunicated from the Catholic Church as a result of his belief in Sai Baba.
This shows, however, that lack of openness to other faiths is similar in
the SSO to that in the Catholic Church, while 'excommunication' by the SSO
is without any due process, as in the Catholic Church.
has said a great many negative and often very condemnatory things about
almost all other swamis, gurus, yoga teachers and virtually all spiritual
teachers who are active nowadays,though without naming names in public discourses, at least.
This he sometimes does in private interviews, however, against various well-known
contemporary spiritual figures (Rajneesh, Mahesh Yogi and others) according
to the personal experiences of several of my different reliable informants.
Baba’s denigration of most other swamis course experienced as exclusion
by those who still revere persons who hold spiritual or religious beliefs
that differ more or less from those taught by Sai Baba. Many who visit Sai Baba meetings
who are already followers of other teachers, dead or alive (for example,
Buddhists) are naturally very soon put off by this. Interestingly, he has
never condemned the Pope, the Dalai Lama, the Archbishop of Canterbury,
the Chief Rabbi, the Ayatollah, or heads of other major religions, nor has
he ever mentioned any of them in discourses to my knowledge. And nor have
they ever mentioned him! However, he is quite adamant that one shall not
only have only one God, but only one guru, Sai Baba! One is supposed to be ‘one-pointedly’
focussed on one’s chosen preceptor, otherwise to go somewhere else. Circular
instructions are now and again sent quoting Sai Baba that no other spiritual
teachers, swamis, or gurus of any kind should be invited to speak at any
Sai Baba meetings. The SSO must keep clear as much as possible of other religious
organisations and should carry out service preferably only under the name
of Sai Baba.
these views and practices are extremely hard really to reconcile with the claim
to universal spirituality that is central to hundreds of Sai Baba’s discourses. This
exclusivity is an ever-recurring theme in informal conversations of many
followers and not least visitors to the SSO activities, and is also discussed
regularly at regional meetings for coordinators.
level of ‘morals’ preached by Sai Baba – so puritanical and pietistic as to be
evidently largely unattainable by anyone - raise expectations among believers
to themselves and towards others that are bound to lead to constant disappointments
in actual experience. The above-noted discrepancies between word and word
- and word and action – have to be accepted either as being beyond all mere
human understanding, or as ‘tests of faith’ set by the all-knowing sadguru (i.e. true spiritual master) to see of what mettle the aspirant is made
(i.e. whether there is blind faith or not). These expectations are apparently
somehow often kept alive by sheer willpower and sheer hope, despite continual
disillusionments. Sai Baba has repeatedly said before crowds at major festivals
that he cannot see one true devotee among them. He has said, for example,
“Where is the devotee to be found who is pure in thought, word and deed.
God is searching for such a devotee.” (Sathya Sai Speaks 1990s ed.
Vol. 28, p .14) This creates a virtual ‘no-win situation’ where those who
get few blessings from Baba are probably kept striving and in line.
to SSO groups/centres and first-time visitors to the ashrams, who have been led
in advance to believe that they are entering the company of virtual budding
saints, are thrown into confusion when they learn the hard way that there is
little peace and quiet, but plenty of jockeying, pushing and struggling for
places at darshan, in the canteen queues and mad rushes for best places at
events. In this situation, leaders cannot change the facts, so they have to set
about changing the ideas of those who are upset by explaining how all is
Swami’s will, all is a spiritual lesson etc. Leaders are themselves faced with
many dilemmas of this kind… whether to be frank and truthful about ‘unpleasant’
facts or the many anomalies that arise, or whether to dissemble in some way,
avoid answering, ignore pleas for help etc. To speak up is to break faith with
the codes of the ‘chain of command’ and the pledge of unquestioning faith in
whatever Sai Baba says and does.
my knowledge, only a few office-bearers in the SSO have spoken frankly in
bringing up at conferences weaknesses and problems of the kind known to most
grass roots members, and if they persist, they are treated as heretics. Most of
the above problems should have been at least dealt with and attempted solved
internally by the SSO. As already remarked, in the UK alone, at least two
Central Coordinators originally nominated by Baba himself (and possibly a third
also), both extremely dedicated and decent people, have been relieved of their
offices and then ignored completely for attempting such things.
this creates a considerable ‘role-conflict’ for office-bearers, especially in
the lower echelons who are in direct contact with a wide range of interested
non-devotees. It affects, though more indirectly, those NCs and CCs who try to
get groups and Centres to conform to restrictions despite the feelings,
understanding and opinions of less passive and self-confident members and other