Why does Sathya Sai Baba not make known - fully and clearly - everything about himself that people wish to know and answer every valid question or doubt that arises? Many reasons are given, but the most obvious one is unthinkable to those who have a deep need to believe in him, namely - that he is neither omniscient nor is he very knowledgeable. Yet more relevant, he is highly secretive and cannot be buttonholed by anyone on any account, being surrounded by sycophants who sift and sort everyone who can get near him. He has built up an illusion around himself, his inscrutability, his total control of everything, as a self-protective kind of Maya (i.e. his deceit). In this he has had massive aid from his blindly worshipping admirers, with Priofessor N. Kasturi as the most prominent prototype, closely seconded by Dr. Bhagavantam and Professor Gokak.
Sathya Sai Baba is evidently incapable of explanations of depth and vision which would appeal to and satisfy the logical and scientific methods of real scientists and genuine intellectual scholars. He is, however, very astute and able to fob off questioners in a number of unexpected ways, one of which is to change the subject peremptorily, such as by aiming the questions back at them personally, often in a way which ridicules them before an ever-present circle of zealots.
Sathya Sai very often derides those who he claims suffer from intellectual pride – he constantly puts down and ridicules scientists, scholars and their ilk. He has said that his ‘ministry’ is primarily to those who have humility, including many of the poor and suffering, this being one reason for the birthplace of the avatar being in India. While there is truth in this, judging by nearly all of those who surround him, this attitude has its reverse side - an expression of the uneducated and envious peasant in him, for he is certainly not learned or even well-informed about the sciences, history, other religions and especially world events. This has been shown at considerable length from his own words time and again, even though many Indians with degrees become his sycophants and claim he knows everything (a claim which is a very poor reflection on themselves, their own intelligence and knowledge). He presumes to explain the very secrets of creation, but he makes many a false assumption and demonstrates a complete lack of intellectual sophistication, whatever subject he addresses… unless one considers his occasional insights into ancient Indian scripture (which is for him just about the sum of all truth and knowledge). His apologists say he ‘pretends not to know’ and that his plan for humanity would be spoiled if he were to demonstrate what the sciences do not understand yet… one of the hollowest ‘true believer’ reationalisations imaginable!
Sai Baba is said not to wish to stimulate the analytic and restlessly curious mind, since he teaches that 'mindless and divine consciousness' is superior in every way to mental activity and intellectual theorising or speculation. He talks of inner qualities of blissful consciousness as preferable. This is a kind of psychological navel-gazing – which history shows has often led to sheer escapism – with mental, social and physical consequences and the gradual loss of social awareness, anti-social behaviour and even loss of the sensory and mental faculties (as in the case of extreme asceticism, which can take many peculiar and inexplicable forms).
Despite his pretensions to wisdom, Sathya Sai is no genuine philosopher, nor logician. He speaks so vaguely (called ‘simple purity’ etc. by acolytes) and makes so many false and imprecise generalization because this appeals to the non-discriminating masses, of which India still unfortunately has a glut. He tries to speak across all human boundaries regardless of social standing, educational level, religion or culture, but he cannot manage this within one set of self-consistent terms, so he mixes incompatible systems of thought and bodges his way through as he goes along. He has come to re-institute an ancient set of beliefs, the Vedas above all else, but he over-extends this to include a regular hodge-podge of precepts taken from here and there, a pick-‘n-mix philosophy with an a la carte menu where each person can find something to their taste.
The devotee is trapped in his own self-defeatist attitude which says that as long as we lack full and certain knowledge of all things and of ourselves, we must continue seek inwardly to find the inner depths of meaning, following the guidance of the guru etc. This is a dangerous position of the guru is not omniscient - really knows all that matters in every possible instance and circumstance (as Sathya Sai Baba definitively claims to know). However, not even ten million controlled observations of Sathya Sai Baba's acts would demonstrate omniscience, because the problem of its infinitude arises. Each 'proof' refers back to the particular hypothesis it validates, but there is no limit to the number of hypotheses or questions that can be raised concerning Divinity. We cannot hope to obtain coherent understanding for something or someone who is essentially incoherent and so self-contradictory, but we can have an understanding of it, but rising above it critically.
Putting one's trust or faith in Sathya Sai's divine powers, even tentatively and incompletely, can bring results, but one must ask oneself more about those results to appreciate what they really do and do not amount to. That is no easy process, some call it gaining self-knowledge or self-realisation. The devotee will assert that anyone’s experiences are but a tiny increment to those of thousands of others who have borne witness to the all-knowingness of Sathya Sai Baba. But this begs the question, for there is no guarantee in numbers – all of them can be deceived and deluded, each one in their particular personal fashion. Even if driven by more or less the same kind of basic desires that influence people to believe in a guru. Once the first steps of belief are taken, there is usually no way back – at least until the deception has run its course or is exposed by indubitable incidents and facts.
Some words of Sathya Sai illustrate the nature of the deal – the invitation to the web of uncertainties and ‘tests’ of discipleship: "My Will (Sankalpa) confers bliss only after assessing the depth of the yearning (Sadhana)." He insists that the development of faith is the very foundation of any forward steps along the way of spirituality and that it is a prerequisite of any higher realisation or of being fit to receive the grace of the Divine. "You cannot have Wisdom (Anubhava) and Bliss (Ananda) first. And you cannot postpone faith until you get them. You cannot bargain: 'Give me the Bliss and then I shall have faith"
Even the strictest scientist has to put faith, paradoxically enough, in various common assumptions without which one can hardly live in the world. Religious believers never tire of pointing this out, while at the same time overlooking the vast difference between science and religious faith as means of attaining to provable truth. Scientists proclaim they have faith in the irreplaceable value of doubt in developing reason and empirical knowledge. It is a fact that we cannot live for long at all without some sort of faith in ourselves, the world and others... however strong or weak, however well-advised or ill-guided. Faith in God, however, is literally a 'leap in the dark', as the Danish existentialist philosopher Søren Kierkegaard made crystal clear - in his case a necessarily irrational lead of faith in the face of anxiety and despair. This is very often the case with those who become believers in the self-proclaimed 'avatar' or God Incarnate, Sathya Sai Baba, as many of the hagiographic books by converts and accounts make clear.
The Indian 'saint', Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, also hailed as a God avatar, said of God's designs that he allows the 'plot to thicken', as an answer to why God allows evil characters to enter the drama of life. This is a fatuous explanation, dependent entirely on an ungrounded faith in the existence of such an omniscient, omnipotent Creator. Why God conceals so much from mankind is also an inadequately unanswered question, at least in the case of Sathya Sai Baba's so-called 'spiritual teachings'. To adopt this idea is to resign oneself to ignorance and surrender to lack of self-confidence in the quest for greater understanding and knowledge.
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