The ‘Five Human Values’ Sathya Sai Baba Promulgates
The ‘Education in Human Values’ programme based on five traditional values preached by Sathya Sai Baba is nothing extraordinary. Though free voluntary courses and school curricula have been started by Sai Baba followers in various countries, and faith schools have been started here and there (almost only in poor countries where educations is at a premium) the standards of these course and schools falls far below modern requirements, whether as regards quality of learning, pedagogical expertise and – above all - neglect of modern pedagogical and relevant social research of all kinds.
The five values Sathya Sai preaches are explained by him as being divinely given values implanted in the human make-up by God and thus are most evidently NOT human values as such. They do concur in a general way with many commonly held values (they are named vaguely ‘love’, ‘peace’, ‘truth’, ‘righteousness’, and ‘non-violence’, but according to Sathya Sai they are “eternal, fixed” values, much like those vainly sought as descending from mystical realms by Plato. Sai Baba has created a dogma set in stone for his followers, who dare not change anything for fear of offending him (self-promoted as the Divine Creator of the divine values themselves!)
The somewhat arbitrary choice of (only) five major values – which overlap conceptually in confusing ways (i.e. love, peace and non-violence) are vague and ambiguous. Other values which his educational programmes includes are supposedly sub-values of his five most embracing and absolute values. However, crucial values in Western civilisation such as (human) justice, social equality, human rights, democracy and others are omitted and even definitively excluded from his value doctrine.
Serious flaws and shortcomings on the ‘five human values’ doctrine include:-
The ‘five values’ omit central moral and legal standards and universal human rights upon which civilised modern, society relies. Excluded are human justice as expressed in civil and international law (i.e. neither God-given commandments or laws, nor Koran-dependent ‘sharea’ law); the intrinsic values and precepts of democracy, including respect social fairness and the goal of social equality, women’s rights, gender rights and much more.
The five values – which originally were written off-handedly on the back of an envelope in answer to a question by Sai Baba – are declared to be inflexible, set values. Yet no human values are like that – they develop with advances in morality and changes in civilised circumstances and are delineated and expressed differently from time to time accordingly. Attempts at rigid codification of moral have always led to suppression of people throughout history. There are natural, human reasons for this and the changing and progressive development of human laws express this fact historically.
The values are stated in such sweeping general ways and are mostly explained through simple examples (insufficiently clear to make their wider application feasible) that they are virtually unusable. They can be interpreted in many diverse and conflicting ways according to local cultures, which does not make the viable as “universal values”, on the contrary – they become too arbitrary. There are no simple answers to the multifarious nuances of real human behaviour, the intricate moral dilemmas that arise from it, but this is not recognised.
The educational courses and institutions set up in the name of Sathya Sai Baba work in complete isolation from modern educational research, pedagogy and developing scientific understanding of the learning process, for his doctrine is considered as based on omniscient wisdom, and is thus sufficient for everyone and all situations. Being taken as unchanging Truth, the entire undertaking is immune to analysis, debate or any modification other than that based on Sai Baba’s words and teachings, which are frequently erroneous and lacking in credibility.
Sathya Sai Baba insists that all teaching is worthless unless the teacher practices what is taught to the full. Those who become educators of these values are largely non-qualified and untrained persons who are not subjected to any independent evaluations as regards whether they practise unity of word and act. The figurehead of this value education, Sathya Sai Baba, has moreover been shown to diverge in many ways from his own teaching, which would disqualify him as a teacher on his own teaching! (These acts include many proven untruths, numerous subtle deceits, outright fraudulent claims, sleight-of-hand, sovereign unaccountability for all his actions and words, and many crimes it is credibly alleged he has committed for which he cannot be brought to justice due to constant governmental protection in India).
Teachers in the Education in Human Values projects and Sai Educare
Many devotees of Sathya Sai Baba are well-intentioned, no doubt. They support these ‘five human values’, but they owe it to society – and above all to children – to study the entire field of moral education and pedagogical research into child development and learning far more deeply than they do. The doctrinal dogmatism of Sai Baba teachers demands much self-censorship instead of free and independent self-examination for it does not allow open discussion and, above all, rejects out of hand all serious dissent, however well-stated and reasonable its basis. Until the present, nothing published by any of the Sathya Sai human value educators stands up as sound educational content or new ideas or contributions of any valid, tested insights and applications of questions of human values. The pedagogical method used is unoriginal and mostly combines ideas and techniques borrowed from the common culture, such as story-telling, role-playing and ‘thought for the day’.
The main failings in Sathya Sai Baba's scheme of human values are further analyzed here.
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