by Åsa Samsioe
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“Bereft of truth, righteousness, love and peace, the sanctity of all your acts of charity is zero,”
says Sathya Sai Baba in his birthday discourse from 23 November 2003. How right he is! In the same discourse he also tells his devotees about his birth and childhood. It is interesting to compare his version with that of his mother. In his book, “Easwaramma, the chosen mother”, Prof. N. Kasturi tells us about Sathya Sai Baba´s mother, who he was acquainted with for 24 years:
“She laid bare her heart to me only on the occasions when she needed some pestering doubt cleared, some knotty tension loosened, some deep apprehension exorcised, some rumour explored,” wrote Kasturi in the foreword.

What sort of pestering doubt, knotty tension, deep apprehension or rumour, she wanted to discuss with Kasturi is however not described. Even if this book, like Kasturi´s other books, is a sugary version of reality, the picture he gives of Easwaramma is still that of a rather unsophisticated and probably dejected and uncertain woman, superstitious by nature and simple or honest enough not constantly to maintain her son´s fantastic descriptions of his childhood. On page 25 in the book you can read: “Shirdi Ma (an old devotee - my remark), in her reminiscence says that she was always urging Easwaramma to tell her a few miracles of Swami when he was a child. Easwaramma would parry the questions most of the time saying that she never saw any or could not remember.”

Kasturi also wrote: “Easwaramma was proud and delighted but also a little afraid of the envy of others. When Sathya was brought home, she swung coconuts all around him and broke them and waved burning camphor before him to avert the ‘evil eye’.” (ibid p 32) When Easwaramma noticed that her son had begun to attract attention from others, she began to fear the evil eye of envy and hatred, Kasturi tells us.

Perhaps that´s one of the reasons behind Sathya Sai Baba´s description of envy as “the greatest single cause for darkness in the world”, which Robert Priddy writes about in his article “Sai Baba´s fundamentalist view of some ‘deadly sins’.”

What a mother - what a son! But you may wonder if those suspicions according to the intentions of other people are compatible with a woman supposed to be the mother of an Avatar. Doesn´t the “seen reflect the seer” in this case? And what sort of black or white world was in her mind? Concerning Easwaramma´s simplicity, and perhaps also foolishness, Kasturi wrote: “Easwaramma´s simple and trustful approach was such that once when her son was acting in the play ‘Kanakatara’ she had rushed on the stage during the execution scene to save his life!” (ibid p 70)

In his discourse Sathya Sai Baba tells us about the circumstances around his mothers pregnancy and his birth:
“Prior to the birth of the child, a very significant incident took place. Puttaparthi was then a tiny hamlet. In the centre was a well from which people would draw water. One day Easwaramma was fetching water from the well. All of a sudden, she saw a white luminous light, emerging like lightning from the sky, entering her womb. There was a sudden gust of wind. Subbamma, who came out of her house at that time, saw the light entering the womb of Easwaramma. Till this day, I have not revealed this to anyone. I am disclosing this today so that you may understand the significance associated with the advent of the Avatar.”

This story is definitely not compatible with that of his mother which is described in Kasturi´s book: “Years later as Swami sat one day surrounded by His devotees, there was an abrupt interruption. A Pundit well versed in the holy Puranas felt a sudden urge to ask a question. ‘Swami! Was your Incarnation a Pravesa (an Entrance) or a Prasava (Encience)?’ I could not quite understand the relevance of the interruption that jolted everybody away from the jocular mood of the talk, but Swami knew the reason. Turning to Easwaramma seated in front, He said ‘Tell Rama Sarma what happened that day near the well after your mother-in-law had warned you.’ Mother said ‘She (Lakshamma, her mother-in-law- my remark) had dreamt of Sathyanarayana Deva and she cautioned me that I should not be frightened if something happens to me through the will of God. That morning when I was at the well drawing water, a big ball of blue light came rolling towards me and I fainted and fell. I felt it glided into me.’ Swami turned to Rama Sarma with a smile. There you have the answer! I was not begotten. It was Pravesa not Prasava.” (ibid p 20)

This incident have evident resemblances with those experiences which Sri Ramakrishna´s mother, Chandradevi, who lived before Easwaramma, has described about her "Pravesa" or entrance. In the book “Sri Ramakrishna the Great Master” by Swami Saradananda, you can read: “I suddenly saw a divine Effulgence come from the holy image of the great God Siva, fill the temple and rush towards me in waves. Taken by surprise, I was on the point of telling Dahni about it, when all of a sudden the Light engulfed me and swiftly entered my body. Stunned with wonder and fear, I fell down unconscious.” (ibid p 42-43)

How are we supposed to interpret all this? Is the omniscient Sathya Sai Baba now too senile to remember those important details heralding his Avatarhood, or did he forget that Kasturi wrote a book about his mother´s experiences? Didn´t he exhort his mother to reveal these things to make Rama Sarma, Kasturi and the other devotees "understand the significance associated with the advent of the Avatar.” Did he and his mother blend details from the story of Sri Ramakrishna´s mother with their own stories? After all, too, Sathya Sai Baba isn´t as unique as he pretends to be....

According to the time of birth of the Avatar, Sathya Sai Baba says in his discourse: “At 3 o´clock in the morning, at an auspicious moment, the child was born.”

Yet Kasturi writes: “It was 5.06 a.m I.S.T. on 23rd November 1926, and the reigning star was Ardra. From 4 o´clock that morning Lakshamma, the mother-in-law was at Sathyanarayana puja at the home of the priest. She was called back home more than once as the delivery neared but she was determined not to return until she could bring back the deity´s prasad for Easwaramma, which she could procure only at the conclusion of the ceremony. At last she came, she gave. It was accepted and relished. And the Son was born.” (ibid p 21) Isn´t it rather remarkable that either Sathya Sai Baba or his mother must have forgotten this important and auspicious moment?

Sathya Sai Baba goes on in his discourse: “Since there was no proper school in Puttaparthi, Seshama Raju, the elder brother of this body, took Me to Uravakonda and admitted Me in a school.” But that was not the whole truth according to Kastori´s book. He wrote that the family was worried about Sathya Sai Baba and his many inventions: "Poor Easwaramma had no need to explain to Subamma that the boy was incorrigible, she transferred the task of putting some wordily wisdom in the boy´s head to Subamma herself ”, Kasturi wrote (ibid p 35-36).

Kasturi also tells us: “Sathya´s elder brother Seshama Raju was the brain of the family. He had jogged triumphantly through all his exams. .... Seshama Raju could only agree with his father´s conclusion that he (viz. Sathya Sai Baba - my remark) was ‘possessed’ by a clever spirit from the nether worlds! In the thirties and forties of this century pedagogy had, as the only instrument of instruction - the cane; and the child psychology they knew imparted but one lesson: ‘Spare the rod; spoil the child’. Seshama Raju who had finished a course in teacher-training and was appointed at the High School at Uravakonda, Serpent Hill, sixty miles away, took Sathya along with him, determined to extinguish the freaks of fantasy that marked him out as peculiarly problematic...... Easwaramma grieved at the thought of separation; she was afraid of the undeserved ridicule Sathya was sure to earn when his own brother believed that he was indulging in involuntary trickery under the influence of evil spirits” (ibid p 37-39).

Even if Sathya Sai Baba assures us that “All great men have been moulded by their mothers”, Easwaramma obviously had great difficulties and worries according to him and tried to get help and support from Subamma and Sathya Sai Baba´s elder brother with his upbringing. And his brother definitely had no lofty ideas about him.

When I read Kasturi´s book I can´t help wondering about this rough and ignorant treatment of the child Sathya Sai Baba. It is hard to imagine that an Avatar would chose those rather clumsy and unsophisticated individuals as his relatives. It´s also rather remarkable that Sathya Sai Baba´s next of kin didn´t recognize his “divinity”, pious, superstitious and God-fearing as they were and also used to a belief-system in which divine miracles play an important role.

Obviously it is difficult to believe in Sathya Sai Baba´s divinity if you come too near him! In the book “Nectarine Leelas” by R. Balapattabi, the author writes that 1944 (when it was easy to come near Sathya Sai Baba), only two! in a group of 46 stayed with Sathya Sai Baba and had abiding faith in him.

Sathya Sai Baba also tells us another astonishing thing in his discourse: “Namagiriamma was the actual name of Easwaramma, given by her parents. Since Kondama Raju recognised My Divinity, he told his son, Pedda Venkama Raju, to change her name to Easwaramma because he was very well aware that she was the mother of Easwara Himself.”

In Kasturi´s book we can read: ”It was in a farmhouse here that Subba Raju, an ardent devotee of the Easwara aspect of God lived. Easwara is extremely compassionate, even over-anxious to bless His devotees. Subba Raju´s experience confirmed his faith so deeply that he built a temple for Easwara in the village, with puja done every day to the Lingam there. Easwaramma was the name he gave the daughter who was born soon after. The feminine suffix was added to the name of the God. It foretold its future glory. The name means mother of Easwara.” Obviously Easwaramma got her name by her father even before her birth! (ibid p 15)

Then at last we must put the question: Who is lying - Sathya Sai Baba or his mother? My conclusion is that Sathya Sai Baba is so used to lying, that he lies automatically and by routine about everything. Obviously he is a full-fledged fabulist. Perhaps it has also become a sport for him to discover how far he can go when it comes to deluding his gullible devotees. He must be thoroughly fed up with them. (apart from the little boys and the young men of course) His devotees will believe him whatever he says or does. Unfortunately there is no limit at all for them. That´s Sathya Sai Baba´s tragedy. It is only his ex-devotees who don´t swallow all those fables any more.

See the Public Petition for Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization

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