SAI BABA PLAGIARIZES INDIAN AND OTHER FIGURES' SAYINGS
When I was drawn to visit Sathya Sai Baba, particularly because of one inexplicable and apparently paranormal events involving my mother's suffering and death, I was readi
ng all the Sai movement "literature", also seeing the Bock films and meeting people with all kinds of stories (some were later shown to be far too imaginative, such as the Balu books, Hislop's reported "Conversations with Bhagavan SSSB", Howard Murphet´s devotionally-coloured speculations, Sandweiss´clinically cleansed accounts, and Conny Larsson's descriptions of events at the ashram, which he has since agreed was all enthusiastic over-interpretation. I was very well versed in Indian spirituality, having already been involved with an Indian swami for 7 years (Swami Amritananda of the Ramakrishna math), who I had eventually found wanting and left. Apart from my professional studies of European philosophy (which means much theology), I had read everything available on Eastern mysticism about Ramakrishna, Yogananda, Shirdi Sai Baba, and much Vivekananda, Shivananda, Krishnamurthi, Maharishi, Muktananda, Dayananda Saraswati ... and plenty of others. Later I expanded to include over a hundred other Indian spiritual 'saints' and gurus, as well as the main classical religionists like Patanjali, Adi Shankara, Ramanuja, Nisargadatta, Aurobindo... and so on.
The strange thing is that I did not at first notice how Sai Baba's 'wisdom' was familiar to me through all those sources - nor that many of his examples and analogies I had learned from Indians in my teenage years. Nor did I think about plagiarism when others´ ideas were attributed to Sai Baba by Hislop, Murphet, Sandweiss, Fanibunda, Kasturi, Ra. Ganapati etc. My interest was more in his movement and its aims, and I soon became rather overwhelmed not only by dreams and synchronicity involving him, but all by much in all the film and hagiographies. These focused overwhelmingly on his alleged miracles and his supposed divine nature being the avatar come to bring it all back as an infallible and soon to be conquering world spirituality. These claims I felt impelled to investigate - and accepted his advice that it must be from the right attitude of a spiritual seeker with positive attitudes and trust, not as a skeptic. A very attractive feature to many who came to the centre four of us started in Oslo, and I approved of it too, was the avoidance of involvement with money in the organization, and of doing service for its sake alone. There were also, of course, all the promises of expansion of consciousness or illumination (and even possible liberation from rebirth) as possible consequences of involvement.. which I observed to be the most powerful motivations in most of the Sai followers I met through two decades (plus another several years of meeting devotees before joining in myself). It took the MAJOR exposure of the murders and the sex abuses for me even to begin to use my former philosophical critical faculties to bear properly on the matter. (Once I was extremely critical of much of science, especially those I knew best - social sciences, and with much reason too - I wrote two books - one on the philosophy of science and one on psychology in an acutely critical - but also constructive - spirit).
Having suspended my belief in Sathya Sai Baba after many years, and had finally begun to look at his acts and words really critically, the whole thing unravelled far beyond what I had expected it could. My many web pages are the result of that process. Yet it took some time before I got around to considering Sathya Sai Baba as a major plagiarist.
WHOSE LIFE WAS HIS MESSAGE?: Perhaps the most blatant plagiarism is taken from Mahatma Gandhi. His words 'My life is my message' are very well known in India and are even inscribed on his tomb. The origin is described as follows:-
“Once, while Gandhi’s train was pulling slowly out of the station, a reporter ran up to him and asked him breathlessly for a message to take back to his people. Gandhi’s reply was a hurried line scrawled on a scrap of paper: “My life is my message. It is a message which does not require the vast stage of world politics, but can be put into practice here and now, in the midst of daily life.” (p. 140 in "Gandhi, The Man, The story of His Transformation" by Eknath Easwaram, US, 1997, Nilgiri Press). Gandhi popularised the idea that " "Work is Worship" in India and acted upon it by doing considerable menial work every day (not so Sathya Sai Baba, though, who has pronounced this constantly. The same identification of work as worship is common to many religious movements, not least the Bahai faith. Further one may compare these quotations:-
|“Seven Deadly Sins" by Sathya Sai Baba
(Sanathana Sarathi July 2000)
The nation today is affected by the consequences of seven grievous sins.
The first is business without morality,
The second is politics without principle.
The third, education without character.
The fourth, worship without sacrifice.
The fifth, wealth without hard work.
The sixth, human existence without regard for scriptures.
The seventh, devotion without austerity.
Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) was the most prolific early spreader of Hinduism in the West. Among other slogans he promoted and supportedas sentral to his philosophy was "Work is worhip", also taken up by Swami Sivananda and Mahatma Gandhi, as well as many others in the Western tradition long before Sai Baba.
Swami Sivananda was another rich source for much of Sai Baba´s supposed own teaching. Together with with Kasturi, Sai Baba visited Sivananda in the 1960s. He later sang some of his song verses as if he had written them, One main slogan stolen from Sivananda is "Love all, serve all". "The world is yourself, therefore LOVE ALL, SERVE ALL, be kind to all, embrace all...." (from "Bliss Divine" by Swami Sivanada, Divine Live Society, 1997, 5th Edition, p 395).
In "Four Hundred Sayings of Swami Sivanada" of the book entitled, "Swami Sivanada: Twentieth Century Saint" by Indrajat Sharma, (Divine Life Society, 1997, pxxii), is the following quote: "He who is desireless is the richest man of the world."
The simple quote "Be Good, Do Good" is a well-known motto's with a long tradition, well before Sai Baba took it up as a moralism.
The "Self-realization Magazine" promoting Paramahamsa Yogananda´´ teaching, the following Yogananda quote was printed:-
"If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character;
If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home;
If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation;
If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world" (Fall issue 2000, page 13)
Further, Sai Baba advised devotees in a discourse: "Before you speak ask yourself if what you are going to say is true, is kind, is necessary, is helpful. If the answer is no, maybe what you are about to say should be left unsaid. He never acknowledged that this famous saying was by the well-known US lawyer, Bernard Meltzer (1914), though Sai Baba would surely not have known that. Kasturi probably fed it to him. Sai Baba's English was very poor, and remains weak - far from adequate enough to make a slogan in English. Kasturi provided the slogans in English - taking them from all over the place. Thus, Sai Baba uses lots of so-called 'penny proverbs' such as 'Spare the rod and spoil the child' ((so much for non-violence)), 'A stitch in time saves nine', 'See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil' (which is a particularly impossible advice as I have shown here: http://www.saibaba-x.org.uk/3/Mad_monkey_minds_see_hear_speak_no_evil.htm.
His often-praised 'Nature is the best teacher' is plagiarism, no doubt via Kasturi from others (one of the original sources is Descartes : 'Nature as teacher': In Meditation 3, on page 89 of Descartes: Selected Philosophical Writings) Descartes held that nature taught him various things, both genuine and misleading, and he embroidered this in Meditation 6, where he finds nature 'teaches' some truths but also that we have a habit of making ill-considered judgements (p. 117) about what is actually derived from nature. Sathya Sai Baba makes no such distinctions, for him, everything in nature is good and would be non-violent too if it were not for human influence! (See here). Of course, nature is actually equally 'red in tooth and claw' - see http://www.saibaba-x.org.uk/3/nature.htm.
While at sea with and Indian crew in 1953/4, I heard many of the examples and comparisons etc. with which Sai Baba impresses foreigners but which really are a part of quite simple Hindu people´s common culture and belief system. When I heard them from Sai Baba I did not think that he was simply repeating what many peasants think and say. For example, to prove that God is behind every action my Indian crew mates would point out how the tongue so cleverly avoids the teeth without our thinking about it (this is one of SB`s points too). Actually, ac a child one bites ones tongue until it becomes a learned response not so do so! Then there was the explanation as to how continuously chanting a mantra does not interfere with ones thinking... it uses one side of the brain only. Another Sai Baba "revelation". Many more such items I had heard long before Sai Baba uttered them in discourses and interviews.
I have written a lot about Sai Baba's use of all manner of 'spiritual' speculation and theology, all mixed up to offer a pick-and-mix selection of something for everyone - which is only seen clearly when you study his entire body of writings and discourses with an eye to this, as apparently no devotee actually does. He stands at the same time for some free will, no free will whatever - says only service will bring liberation as well as that service will never lead to liberation. His vague advice is the impossible 'Forget the past' (not further explained) which is strange considering how he harps on the past constantly and not least wants a return to the Vedic world (Bharathiya).
In fact his 'teaching` is an eclectic menu of all bits and pieces that may be tasty here or there ´all drawn willy-nilly from every tradition in India - including Indian Christianity - and, when he wants to distance himself from what he has said, he returns to a solipsist and incoherent advaita, as taught by Shankara and popularised by gurus like Nisagardatta and enhanced by the age-old Indian belief in lingams, golden wombs, a sea of milk, holy amrit (actually tea rose essence with sugar water) plus all too vague ideas about 'omnipresence', 'omniscience'.... what a gala jumble of entirely unproven but inveigling and wild old speculations in which even well-educated devotees easily get lost as in a maze of distorting mirrors... some never to liberate themselves from it.
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