29 September 2005

The Krishna Issue

The Jiva Issue is not the only issue that Sai Baba has messed up on. He has made a few boo-boos regarding Krishna as well. This is especially interesting in light of his claims to BE the selfsame Krishna. I'll have to admit to being cheeky enough to recycle an old article of mine in this blog. There is some more Krishna-centric information in the original article (Krishnashtami nonsense), but here I would like to point out a particular contradiction in SB's speeches regarding the ages of Radha and Krishna, which was documented in official ashram publications:

“Radha, in the bodily aspect, was nine years older than Krishna … Her daily routine was filled with work connected with Krishna. Krishna was a seven year old boy at that time.” – Summer Showers in Brindavan 1978, p115

Just to clarify, in 1978 Sai Baba revealingly told the student audience that Radha was nine years older than Krishna. This means that at the time Krishna was seven years of age, Radha would have been sixteen years old approximately. Presumably, this nine-year difference in age carried on all the while Krishna was performing lilas in Mathura, establishing Dvaraka, etc. Not only does this 1978 information contradict the records as given in the scriptures, but it also contradicts Sai Baba’s “new revelation” in 2003!

"People think Radha was younger to Krishna and talk in derogatory terms about the relationship she had with Him. In fact, she was much older than Krishna, 26 months to be precise." - 19th Aug 2003

I think that this is a particularly revealing error in Sai Baba's presentation. One would certainly think that a supposed reincarnation of Krishna would remember some salient details of a previous life.

Copyright © Sai Baba EXPOSED! 2005-2007. Discuss this post!

28 September 2005

The Jiva question

A purported representative of Sai Baba recently stated the following:

God had a desire to create us else we wouldn't be here!!!!

I replied very briefly in response:

This is theologically incorrect. In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna (God) says:

mamaivAMzo jIva-loke jIva-bhUtaH sanAtanaH - "The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts." [Bhagavad-gita 15.7]

The presence of the word 'sanAtanaH' indicates the eternality of the soul (jIva). The word 'aMza' is also noteworthy, as it shows that the jIva is a fragment/portion of God Himself. Therefore the eternality of both cannot be denied. the jIvas were never "created", they have always been.

This got me thinking about how Sai Baba devotees often confuse these concepts. It is a common concept in Abrahamic religions to think that the soul has been 'created' at a particular point in time vis-a-vis the story of Creation, and of Adam, etc. I'm not sure exactly what the Judaeo-Christian position on the soul is, but the Vedantic position has been referenced above with due quotation from the Bhagavad-gita. I'll admit that it is rather striking and sometimes surprising when you sit and think about it, the fact that we have always been.

I don't think that the concept of the soul's eternality is something that is hard to grasp for the average Sai devotee, as they seem to be preoccupied more with their quantitative identity woth God. Indeed it is true that SB preaches that we are all God, which is really more of a pseudo-intellectual neo-Advaita rather than the actual orthodox Advaita philosophy that was presented by Adi Sankara. In fact, this is also an issue that has preoccupied my own mind, as it is very difficult to get Sai devotees to see how utterly wrong they are in the face of India's ancient Vedic/Vedantic tradition. It is something that I spent a few years doing private research into, and it is likely to be a topic that I'll return to for years. I seriously doubt that one would be able to find a single place where the identity of the soul as one with God is irrevocably established on a quantitative basis. Those that do seem to be saying just that are likely to be mistranslations or subject to mistaken interpretations.

On the other hand, it is unarguable that God and the jIva are one, but on a qualitative basis. You will also find plenty of quotes from the Vedic scriptures to support this premise. In fact, this is just what Krishna is saying in the Gita verse quoted above; that the souls are mama eva aMzaH, 'certainly My parts' if you want to get literal. 'AMzaH' would be the operative word here, and some of the following definitions are given for it in the Monier-Williams Sanskrit Dictionary: 'a share , portion , part , party ; partition.' It becomes abundantly clear what Sri Krishna is getting at. Criticisms about literalism will not get very far since the Gita speaks for itself.

So this is basically another foolish idea that Sai Baba preaches quite irresponsibly, which has led to many of his devotees thinking about and aspiring for the wrong things. Which leads me to think of much more material for future blogs...



Copyright © Sai Baba EXPOSED! 2005-2007. Discuss this post!

25 September 2005

The Joy of Betel

Before I get to the Gould subjects, I'd like to address a running issue regarding Sai Baba's personal habit of chewing betel. Much has been written about this over the years, with presentations about how extended chewing of betel over a long period of time leads to the development of mouth ulcers and cancers and various other tidbits. To be altogether fair, betel nut and leaves are offered to deities in various temples in India and later perhaps consumed by worshippers as 'prasad'. It is also believed to have some benefits such as aiding digestion. There is, however, no scope for denial about its potential to cause cancer. Prolonged chewing over many years also leads to reddened rotting teeth, which is a predicament that Sai Baba suffers from.

On a recent trip overseas, I discovered something unusual about this curious habit. Speaking to various friends who chewed the nut and the leaf, I happened to find out that the chewing of betel led to a significant feeling of lightheadedness. Comparable to the sensation of smoking marijuana, it appeared to be very much of a poor man's drug which probably accounts for why much of the low-income Indian popluation indulge in this habit. In other words, chewing betel makes you high.

This was a surprising finding, and as I was able to observe friends preparing their betel, I discovered that there was an extra ingredient that was not present in the betel-offerings made in temples. This ingredient was calcium. Proper white calcium, which was consistent enough to be a paste. I believed that the presence of this calcium paste was the active ingredient that enabled chewers of betel to attain that intoxicated feeling.

I couldn't help extending this finding to Sai Baba; it turns out that all those years of his betel-chewing not only rotted his teeth but kept him at a constant 'high' too! Don't believe me? Read the following:

Visitor: What is that?

SSB (in English): That is the nut. This is the leaf. See, the leaves and this is betel. This is not a bad habit. If it were a bad habit, Swami would not chew it. The leaves, their juice purifies the blood. The nut digests. Here, even with the little puppies, they mix the nut and give it for digestion. And the other thing that is put is calcium. The three mixed make red colour. This is Indian." (J. Hislop, 'Conversations with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba', p.19)

Who can say if Sai was high all those years, since he no longer chews betel. He only gave up the habit in 1984 or thereabouts, but one phrease that sticks out in my mind that originated from within the pages of Erlendur Haraldsson's 'Miracles Are My Visitng Cards', was about how he was constantly "munching and munching."

Copyright © Sai Baba EXPOSED! 2005-2007. Discuss this post!

The Chosen People

As I was travelling on the bus this afternoon, the concept of the "chosen ones" entered into my mind for due contemplation. I began to wonder what it really means to be "chosen"; does "chosen" mean to be part of a community or race of people such as the Jews, with whom "chosen people" is a fundamental cornerstone of Old Testament rhetoric, or does it mean someone who actually makes the effort to put into practice some or all of the ideals that are expected of him within such a community?

Of course it just had to also occur to me how devotees of SB think that they are the chosen ones; chosen to know of his presence in this world and believe in Him since apparently you cannot even hear about him without his willing it so. The very thought of this brought forth an incredulous chuckle. Having exited from the Sai Org around 3 years ago, that line of thinking has become so far removed from my schema that I had to laugh at it. How twee do you have to be to actually believe that you are a privileged member of the elite, so to speak?

Of course there is nothing fundamentally wrong in having self-confidence or feeling special about yourself in other ways within the realm of positive thinking, but to actually believe that God has incarnated on earth and he has chosen you - YOU - to know about it is, well, a tad narcissistic.

What can I say? How can we deal with such people, who genuinely think that they are the bearers of the divine torchlight, recruited soldiers in the war against illusion, the type of people who would be happy to give their lives in "Sai Service"?

It appears to be the same sort of mindset as an Islamic suicide bomber. This is not to say that we can expect SB devotees to blow themselves up in the middle of crowded places, but the mentality and the innate sense of exclusivity is something that I find horrifically similar. Having spent some time indulging one of my favourite hobbies (reading political history), the parallels that I find in the mentalities are unnerving and uncanny. The same sort of foreboding mentality, the utter refusal to accept a different point of view, the senseless denial that is employed in the face of undisputed facts, and lastly, the firm conviction that they will one day be vindicated for their beliefs.

This topic of vindication is also something of a botheration. One particular topic that SB is famous for bringing up is how he has advented to bring about the Golden Age. For years he was vague about how he would so such a thing and in what manner it would happen. And then he gave a firm date: 23rd November 2000, the date of his 75th Birthday so I understand. He is now 79 and his Golden Age is well overdue by almost five years now. Conveniently, most of his followers changed tack and started muttering about how this Age had started at an imperceptible and subtle level, out of the range of perception of us lowly mortal beings. This, despite the long and palpable excitement that has been building up through the years for a tangible "Golden Age" that was understood to be of similar structure to the descriptions of the same in scripture.

Despite the glaring falsity of this single case, it amazes how SB devotees continue to ignore it and carry on as normal as if nothing was wrong, still looking forward. I feel that such self-evident absurdity need not be explained any further and it is really up to the onlooking observers to decide whether Sai Baba really merits the amount of attention that he receives.

As I am currently reading 'Rocks of Ages' by Stephen Jay Gould, I notice that he has some interesting things to say about the concept of a Golden Age in itself. Perhaps that shall be the subject of my next blog once I digest his views on the matter.

Copyright © Sai Baba EXPOSED! 2005-2007. Discuss this post!

18 September 2005

Definition of an Avatar

A proper way to analyse the SB phantasmagoria is to present a proper definition of an avatar so that it becomes easier to see if SB fits within such parameters. For now, we'll lay aside the question of whether an avatar is unlimited and is therefore not bound by the strictures of mortals. Recently on the discussion boards a quote from a Kriya Yoga organisation was supplied by an SB adherent in support of their contention that an avatar is susceptible to material miseries and the like. Here is the supplied quote in full:

"The title Avatar describes a fully freed soul incarnating directly from God on this physical planet or elsewhere. An Avatar fulfills a highly spiritual task in the name of God and returns to God after accomplishing his task. His Love for God and his creation is beyond description and imagination, his faith in God absolute as there is no difference between an Avatar and God."

We should also not here that the (generous) definition supplied by the Sai Organisation is as follows:

"An incarnation of God, taking a form according to the age in which the incarnation occurs. Special manifestation of God on Earth."

Elsewhere in Sai literature we note that an avatar is described as "an incarnation of God in human form". It is this very humanity of the avatar that we shall seek to discuss. At the outset, we can observe the obvious conflict(s) in the two definitions provided by the above-mentioned organisations. The former definition appears to be unclear about the ontological status of an avatar and seems to be confused as to whether an avatar is actually God or "someone else"with faith in God. In short, the former definition appears to posit a duality.

The latter definition by the Sai Organisation at least is clear on the matter of the avatar's inherent divinity. The qualifying statement referring to taking a form according to the age is a curious one, and I cautiously assume that whoever made this definition has done his homework and is referring to Bhagavata Purana 10. 8.13, or would that be too much of a high expectation?

But at least we are clear than an avatar is indeed a "special manifestation of God on earth", even if they do say that He comes in a human form.

One of the most disturbing things that Sai Baba has said follows thus:

"The Avatar behaves in a human way so that mankind can feel kinship with Him, but rises to His super-human heights so that mankind can aspire to reach those heights."

By itself it seems reasonable for an avatar to behave in a human way in order to foster friendly relations with mortals, but the dangerous conclusion of believing that the avatar actually is a human and suffering the similar tribulations of a human due to being possessed of a human body is widely prevalent among SB devotees. Not only is it demeaning to suggest such a thing but it is as palpably ridiculous as assuming that a prison governor becomes a prisoner when entering the prison for the purpose of inspection!

The SB adherent who contributed the Kriya Yoga definition (LDW) offered this as the conclusion that she made from that quote:

"Since an avatar is NOT dependent on form, he can take the form of an animal or anything else for that matter, but usually does so as a manifestation of an aspect of the avatar rather than as an 'incarnation,' for short periods of time for the purpose of Divine Intervention."

This makes no sense whatsoever. The appearance of an avatar in the form of an animal or whatever is immaterial since Hindu mythology records such appearances in the form of a fish (Matsya), tortoise (Kurma), and so on. It is widely accepted among devotional scholars that each avatar is a manifestation of God in His fullness, possessing the total range of His powers even if not they are not exhibited or not required to do so. The Dvaita/Tattvavada school of philosophy has made a rigorous analysis of this.

As far as I am aware, the school of Sri Vaishnavism (codified by Ramanujacharya) also believes this. Manifestation of an "aspect" is a status that is reserved for minor empowerments of special souls such as Jesus Christ, Buddha, Prophet Muhummad, Guru Nanak, etc.

LDW further contributed:

"Krishna IS a human who incarnated as the embodiment of Divinity, PERIOD. Krishna IS God in human form as are ALL Masters. Now, do you want to argue with me about that? And don't give me the crap about the form being DIVINE. Any idiot knows that. The point is He is born into a human body. He looks like a human and acts like a human and does experience human travails like any human but his REACTION to them is different."

And considering that this was an interpretation of the Kriya Yoga definition, trying to make sense of this would be beyond human ken. Not only is it so painfully self-contradictory but it betrays a deep-seated ignorance as well.

How exactly is it possible for a human to incarnated as an "embodiment of divinity"? And within the same breath it is declared that Krishna is God in human form? The adherent would do well to make up her mind; is Krishna God or a mortal human? For devotees of Krishna, the answer is abundantly clear.

The premise that since "God comes down to the earthly level He must take a human body" is false and misguided. I can guarantee that anybody who says this would not be able to submit even one scriptural quote in support of this argument. Rather, it is stated everywhere that God (even avatars) have a "body" that is made of pure sac-cid-ananda. It is not a material form at all, it is just pure spiritual substance. Yes, it looks like a human body (providing that the avatar has taken a humanlike form) in which case it would be more correct to say that the avatar is humanlike, not human.

It is quite sad how SB devotees justify every one of SB's illnesses by claiming that he suffers such because he is either taking it on himself on somebody's behalf, or he is just pretending to act like a human in order for mankind to "feel kinship with him". Little do they realise that because Sai Baba is not an avatar, every disease that he suffers is real. Every stone that he treads underfoot hurts. Every hair on his head is vulnerable, and he is just as mortal as the rest of us. He has been blind in one eye for so many years and has undergone several hip operations; all of this cannot be written off as "leela". This is precisely the kind of institutional blasphemy that is inculcated by SB and his org.

To get back to the matter at hand, I find it just typical how SB devotees exhibit their spiritual ignorance by doing what they are most famous for and grabbing at any definition of a subject and following it as if it is inviolable spiritual truth. LDW has done this by ignoring the usual definition of an avatar as given even in SB circles, and has opted to draw her conclusions from the Kriya Yoga definition instead. So that is what we will analyse:

"The title Avatar describes a fully freed soul incarnating directly from God on this physical planet or elsewhere. An Avatar fulfills a highly spiritual task in the name of God and returns to God after accomplishing his task. His Love for God and his creation is beyond description and imagination, his faith in God absolute as there is no difference between an Avatar and God."

I feel that I must wonder where the KY people get the idea than an avatar is a soul, albeit "fully freed"? In this regard I feel that I must present an argument that was originally quoted by Sri Madhvacharya, the founder of the Dvaita/Tattvavada school of Vedanta philosophy. In his rigorous analysis and exegesis, Madhvacharya quoted the Paramopanishad as scriptural evidence for one of his key concepts:

"The difference between the jIva (soul) and Izvara (Creator), and the difference between jaDa (insentient) and Isvara; and the difference between various jIvas, and the difference between jaDa and jIva; and the difference between various jaDas, these five differences make up the universe."

We will note here the first difference; that between the soul and God. The UTTER difference between God and the soul is one of the hallmarks of the Tattvavada philosophy, and such a premise can be supported by a number of scriptural arguments. The Kriya Yoga definition of an avatar thus fails to hold as a logical and coherent explanation of the nature and function of an avatar.

It remains only for SB devotees to think carefully about the spiritual conclusions that they draw from dubious sources, as placing your entire faith on a shaky basis does not bode well for the future. I can only repeat that what I have said in the past, that it is up to the SB devotees to educate themselves and familiarise themselves with the vast body of scriptures available in order to attempt to have some understanding of God, which would also be Sai Baba's advice. As for the proper definition and function of an avatar, the clear answer has been given by Krishna Himself:

Ajo 'pi sann avyayAtma
bhUtAnAm izvaro 'pi san
prakRtiM svAm adhiSThAya
sambhavAmy Atma-mAyayA

"Although I am unborn and My transcendental body never deteriorates, and although I am the Lord of all living entities, I still appear in every millennium in My original transcendental form."

yadA yadA hi dharmasya
glAnir bhavati bhAratha
abhyutthAnam adharmasya
tadAtmAnaM sRjAmy aham

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion, at that time I descend Myself." - Bhagavad-gita 4. 6-7

Copyright © Sai Baba EXPOSED! 2005-2007. Discuss this post!

13 September 2005

The Most Unfulfilled Prophecy Of Them All

One characteristic of major religions is the element of prophecy, most of which contains themes of positivity (Golden Age) and negativity (dommsday) in their nature. As any serious student would know, the book of Revelations would know, that entire chapter of the Bible is a book ofprophecy. Some symbolic in nature, with a host of elaborate images that may be deliberately vague in order to hide the exact details. It is therefore no surprise that such texts gain a symbolic nature and are interpreted as such.

In my studies of other religions, I have discovered that the prophcies contained in scriptures of other religions (like Islam and Hinduism) are very deailed and full of specific information. For example, a typical prophecy in a Hindu scripture will state something along the lines of: "God will be born at this time, in such-and-such city, born as the song of Such-and-such, and this is what he will do." In some places such predicitions are limited to a verse or two whereas in other places they contain many details.

Early on in my spiritual quest I became convinced that for a major incarnation of God to appear, he would have to be extensively described in the scriptures. Apparently this was one of the die-hard signs of an avatar, to be predicted. I found out that this idea was shared by Christians too as I learnt when I read the book 'Unexpected Messiah', which dealt with all of the Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament and explained how they all fit Jesus Christ. It was a very interesting read and it solidified my conviction that prophecy of an avatar was a necessary item in order to prove the authenticity of them, as opposed to fake messiahs and gurus who claim to be incarnations of this, that and the other.

When I first learnt of Sai Baba (the first book I read was 'Holy Man and the Psychiatrist' by Sandweiss), I was amazed at the number of miracles that were reported; nonchalant materialisations, healings, dreams and visions, appearance in faraway places, even reports of ressurecting the dead. It was then obvious to me that if these reports were all true, then these things could not be categorised on the same level as the miracles possesed by blessed saints and that they were God-like in nature. Yet there was still a doubt in me; how could I be sure that this guy was God? Were there any prophecies around about him? Such prophecies would surely prove his authenticity as the great figure that he was being promoted as.

And so it came to be that on a visit to a Sai Centre, I picked up a back issue of a quarterly publication and, sure enough, the very first article was dedicated to prophecies of Sai Baba. And not vague ones either, really detailed ones! As far as I was concerned, I had found the "evidence" that SB was really who he claimed to be and it was at that moment that my faith solidified in him and I continued to worship him as God for the next 10 years or so.

Finding out about the authenticity of such prophecies was doubtless an earth-shattering experience. The relevant passage in Revelations 19 is a debated definition, but is still vague enough not to be considered a specific prophecy. Moreover, it is considered by many Hindus a beneficent occurrence of an 'interfaith' prediction of their own Kalki avatar. The prophecy that I had admired the most was the Islamic one. Much significant research has been made in this direction so I will not bother to recount that here except to say that the versions of the Islamic scriptures as presented in SB literature and the actual text of the relevant Islamic scriptures are extremely different indeed. Paul Holbach has done some excellent documentation in this regard. Whereas the SB-Islamic version fits SB to a tee, the actual Islamic text presents a very different description of their predicted messianic figure, known as the 'Mahdi' in their tradition.

There is much I can write on this subject and I will probably add to it on future occasions, but the important thing to remember is that to proclaim an avatar as 'authentic' one must refer to the scriptures, as they abound with such predictions. The Srimad-Bhagavatam, for instance, predicts the names of the Kings of Lord Rama's family line well into the age of Kali-yuga, which is quite impressive considering that Lord Rama lived in Treta-yuga (two yugas before Kali). The Bhavishya Purana is a well-known 'predictor' scripture as well as some sections of the Padma and Vishnu Puranas.

It turns out that SB's claims to avatarhood have no solid foundation at all. Considering how many avatars and events are predicted in the scriptures, it seems immensely puzzling why SB, supposedly the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, embodiment of every divine principle there is, is nowhere heard of in any scripture. Quaint indeed, but it's yet another sign why SB is not an avatar.

Copyright © Sai Baba EXPOSED! 2005-2007. Discuss this post!

Ignorance of SB Devotees (3)

In some of my past blogs about the ignorance that is prevalent among Sai deovtees, I feel that I still have not adequately touched on the matter fully in the sense of my own labelling them as such.

One thing that we should consider about spiritual ignorance is how prevalent it is in other religions and traditions too. For example, some Muslims are often criticised for drinking alcohol when this habit is strictly against the principles of Islam. And whereas vegetarianism is considered to be a penultimate virtue among Hindus, you will often find such people consuming meat and mat products. Similar inconsistencies are there among people of all faiths, yet we still find them acknowledging themselves as a member of that faith. And I am not even going to start on the level of spiritual knowledge that such members may have of their respective faiths.

In some circles this would be considered hypocrisy whereas in others it might be considered human nature. I, therefore, do not find it out of line to consider SB devotees to be ignorant despite paying lip-service to him and his organisation's works. Judging by the philosophical content in SB's books I find them often lacking in depth and substance, and also judging by my discussions with devotees over the years it appears that not very many of them spend much time studying his teachings either. In much of the discussions that I have viewed and/or participated in, most participants invariably paraphrase a quote that they have "read somewhere but can't remember where." Devotees who quote from his books as a result of due study are quite rare to find and such study seems to be very much of a recent trend.

It is interesting to see how Sai Baba himself highlights the problems in one of his more famous discourses: "Your worldly intelligence cannot fathom the ways of God. He cannot be recognized by mere cleverness of intelligence. You may benefit from God, but you cannot explain him. Your explanations are merely guesses, attempts to cloak your ignorance in pompous expressions." And yet this is precisely what most devotees do; speaking in vague terms without direct reference to SB's books or mainstream scriptures.

To admit ignorance is a hard thing to swallow, but there is nothing inherently shameful about that. To admit to not reading SB's books or studying them very well and yet participating in discussions on convoluted subjects such as the nature of God, the soul's relationship with Him, our duties, and so on, would be a truthful expression of honesty and an admittance of one's own faults. After all, this is what SB himself preaches all the time; admit your faults, be humble, work on your ego.

And I would have to repeat what I said in an earlier blog: What the devotees need to do before they do anything else is to educate themselves.

It would be an expression of humility and truth for devotees to accept that they know very little philosophy. And what they would need to do is to follow the teachings of their own guru:

"If they learn the Sastras or scriptures, or if they cultivate direct experience, they can understand me. Your innate laziness prevents you from the spiritual exercises necessary to discover the nature of God. This laziness should go. It has to be driven out of man's nature in whatever shape it appears."

Copyright © Sai Baba EXPOSED! 2005-2007. Discuss this post!

11 September 2005

Theological Inaccuracies of Sai Bhajans

One issue that has been on my thoughts now and then regards the theological inaccuracies of Sai Bhajans as comparable to other religious traditions. Here I'd just like to note how bhajans and padas in other religous traditions often have the hallmark of the author's (usually a famous saint) deep bhAva (feeling, inner aspiration) and this is what leads to their 'authenticity', religiously recited/sung by their followers. In some traditions, recital of a certain saint's bhajan is said to bestow the same result that the saint received. Another noteworthy characterisitic of such 'authentic' bhajans is that they embody the teachings of that particular tradition in a simplified form so that the divine message can be "preached"to people in a medium that is suited to their sensibilities.

In the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition (which I happen to follow), the bhajans and padas of Srila Narottama das Thakura are a perfect example of what I am speaking of. Sri Narottam's padas happen to be so 'in tune' with the theological teachings of Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy that it is quite appropriate to quote selected stanzas in the midst of a debate among Gaudiya Vaishnavas. Just imagine; in a "normal" discussion or debate where advocates of a particular position refer to scriptures to make their points, is it not wonderful that in some traditions participants are able to quote stanzas of certain bhajans to prove their points? Obviously, the bhajans of Sri Narottam das Thakur have no authority within a debate between followers of two differing schools of philosophy, such as Sri Vaishnavism or Tattva-vada, but it is still a wonderful discovery to see how such bhajans are considered to be "scriptural evidence" in some circles. This is primarily because of the bhajan's resonance with the tradition's philosophy.

I noted that the same is not true in the Sai organisation. For a start, most if not all of their bhajans are theologically incomprehensible. If I was in a generous mood, I would say that because their bhajans have various names of God in them, that would be their only virtue. They are totally incomprehensible in other terms. When I was an SB devotee, I came across many such bhajans, but one sticks out in my mind right now just as it always has:

Namostute Ganpathi Gananatha
Namostute Namostute
Hey Shiva-nandana Sai Gajanana
Sai Gajanana Namostute

Namostute Namostute

At least that's the way I remember it from an audio recording that I have.

- In the Sai Org it is customary to begin a bhajan session with a bhajan in praise of Ganesh, although I haven't noted the same emphasis in other traditions as far as I am aware. -

The specific lines that I object to have been highlighted in bold. It is well known within the Sai Org that Sai Baba is believed to be a combined incarnation of Shiva-Shakti as per his own words. As such I believe that, to be theologically inaccurate, bhajans in praise of him should be sensitive to ontologial considerations.

If Sai Baba is believed to be the combined incarnation of Shiva-Shakti, then where is the sense in glorifying him as 'Hey Shiva-nandana' (Oh the son of Shiva!) and 'Sai Gajanana' (Sai Ganesh, the son of Shiva)?

The knowledgeable devotee would most likely retort that Sai Baba is an incarnation in which "every divine principle is manifest", and thus it is appropriate to glorify him in the mood of all such manifestations of God. In other words, since Sai Baba claims to be an incarnation of every form of God that ever existed, it is therefore OK to glorify him as such, even if they violate ontological considerations.

Yeah well, such a consideration may be acceptable to the average Sai Devotee. Unfortunately it is unaccepable when dealing with members of other religious traditions who may be curious to enquire about the precepts of the Sai Tradition and find it to be a confused faith.

This is a theme that I'll be returning to often. It seems that I may have to go through the entire Bhajanamavali at some point in order to point out all of the inaccuracies in Sai bhajans. :-)

Copyright © Sai Baba EXPOSED! 2005-2007. Discuss this post!

09 September 2005

Dealing With The Devil(s)

Eek! I think that talking too much about devotee-morons like De Witt in my last couple of posts is somewhat draining.

I only referenced that set of posts to highlight my point about spiritual ignorance. In any case, it'll be a topic that I return to time and again as I experience more realisation along those lines. I hope that I drove the point home though.

One thing that annoys me about such people is the way they even bother to argue when they clearly have no clue what they're talking about. It makes me feel kind of offended. Of course I haven't got a problem with discussing my points of view in a fair and balanced way, but to be automatically judged as "stupid" and "ignorant" because something that you say does not resonate with the views of the opposite site is an extreme brand of fanaticism.

Indeed it can be noted how many SB devotees are indeed very fanatical about their beliefs. This was observed by the letters that were published in the Asian newspapers after the 'Secret Swami' documentary was broadcast by the BBC. Even now, after several years of being disassociated with SB an dhis organisation, to see people holding the same beliefs and doing the same things and not having moved on at all is incredibly painful to see. Considering some of the more glaring inconsistencies that are laid out and obvious to see, it makes me wonder how exactly some people are actually dealing with such issues. Due to a fierce sense of loyalty, they may ignore it or autimatically assume it's falsity. I find that to be an extremely disturbing development. They need to be honest with themselves and open themselves up to the fact that the beliefs that they have held for so long and cherished may not be true after all.

It is a painful realisation, doubtless. But to accept the truth and move on shows character and maturation. I think it all depends on how much respect and longing for truth each individual possesses.

Copyright © Sai Baba EXPOSED! 2005-2007. Discuss this post!

Ignorance of SB devotees (2)

One of the issues that has led me to think this way lately is something that I recently posted onto an SB discussion forum. Part of this post was displayed here in the first-ever post on this blog. One particularly annoying and irksome devotee of SB (LDW) on another more raggamuffin forum decided that she would comment on it and posted a link to my original post. I shall copy her post here which I've taken the liberty of editing for brevity and I should warn that it contains plenty of invective, which is just about all you can expect from SB's devotees these days:

"I've commented several times on how almost all the anti-Sais have Messiah Complexes which I believe are actually inferiority complexes in disguise since so many of them are losers with mental, drug/alcohol or other major problems and are extremely ignorant yet think they are 'mental giants.' They rant against gurus and yet it is obvious they think they are great leaders who know more than everyone else, evidenced by their condescending tone, etc...
In Dadlani's diatribe below, he shows how superficial he is in stating that God MUST have physical beauty in order to "prove" he is God. If this isn't the most superficial and idiotic thing I've ever heard. Dadlani constantly makes idiotic statements like this though so it doesn't surprise me. And you can't shame this sociopathic idiot. The only think that will wake him up is a jail cell... Dadlani you are as stupid as O'Clery. Hard to believe two idiots can be so stupid and certifiably moronic. I know five year olds that are smarter than these two put together. Besides that Dadlani sounds like he's on drugs most of the time. Yes, another substance abuser."

When you've finished laughing after reading all of that, and you will certainly deserve a prize for doing so, youc an take a look at my reply to tha, again edited for brevityt:

"[Regarding God being beautiful etc.] Is that my own idea? No. Any serious student of Vedic religion (sanatan-dharma) would have doubtless spotted this verse in the Vishnu Purana:

aisvaryasya samagrasya viryasya yasasah sriyah
jnana-vairagyayos caiva sannam bhaga itingana - Vishnu Purana 6.5.47

'Bhagavan is defined as one who is full in six opulences — who has full strength, fame, wealth, knowledge, beauty, and renunciation.'

"Of course God is characterised with endless qualities, being the Totality and the All-in-All, and six qualities cannot hope to define His Totaily. However, these six particular qualities have been named by Parasara Muni as the CHIEF characteristics of God. And the point that I was making is that God will possess all of these qualities in fullness. Who is Parasara Muni? He is the illustrious father of Sri Vedavyasa, the incarnation of God who codified the Vedas and divided up all the scriptures according to category; the literary incarnation of God who is widely worshipped on Guru Purnima, also known as Vyasa Purnima.
"If Lisa De Witt, ignoramus that she is, chooses to believe that this way of characterising God is "superficial" and "idiotic", then she is guilty of contradicting Sai Baba's own words on the matter. Sai Baba himself has quoted this verse many times and listed them as qualities of God. Therefore it is most hilarious to see one of his followers, Lisa De Witt, expose her complete ignorance of his teachings as well as the teachings of the Vedic religion that Sai Baba claims to have come to fulfil. What can we do with such a comedic situation, apart from sit back and laugh until our sides split?"

At the time of writing, LDW continues to be hung up on technical details and has not admitted that the concept in question (God being full in six major qualities) has it's origin in Vedic scriptures and is thus not "superficial" or "idiotic" enough to come from my own imagination or anthropomorphic desires. So much for her "observation" of messiah complexes among ex-devotees.

This episode actually highlights the degree of ignorance that is prevalent among Sai Baba devotees. One of the most startling things is that Sai Baba himself urges his followers to study the Vedic scriptures in order to get a clear idea of God. Poor fools, I doubt if many of them even know where to start, and so it follows that much of their (queer) understanding of "Bharathiya culture and religion" comes from the Baba himself. What the devotees need to do before they do anything else is to educate themselves. They need to follow SB's own advice and brush up on the scriptures that they hold so dear, before entering into a supposed debate with people who may perhaps actually know what they're talking about.

Ignorance is painful to observe.

Of course if I had the desire to do so, I could very easily carry out a point-by-point analysis of each of her sentences as was my habit in the earlier days. I guess I do not have so much time to waste any more. :-) Most of the time I just let a lot of things go. Because there is a lot of wisdom in the old saying; "You can wake a sleeping man, but you cannot wake a man who pretends to sleep."

Copyright © Sai Baba EXPOSED! 2005-2007. Discuss this post!

Ignorance of SB devotees

I've often been asked by various people about comments I've made at various times to the effect that devotees of SB are ignorant, especially when it comes to spiritual matters. I can understand why they may feel offended at such remark.

I've been pondering this for the last couple of days One of the big problems (or blessings?) of leaving SB and his organisation is that I have moved on to such an extent that I can barely remember the status quo that is observed by them, said status quo referring to some of the spiritual beliefs that they hold as well as other bits and pieces. I find myself turning to Google if I need to look up something he said, or if I'm very desperate I'll look it up in some of the books that I still have. But when I come back to dicussion forums or read some SB-related material, I am again reminded of how poor devotees are when it comes to spiritual knowledge. Not only are they confused about various important issues, but it seems that they are not able to spot any contradictions. Those that do and express them as genuine doubts tend to either have their questions unanswered or have themselves shouted down as faithless and other put-downs.

Anyway, sometimes it is not their own fault that they are confused. Most of the time the origin of the confusion lies with Sai Baba himself; first for spouting much of the garbage that he does, and secondly allowing his Books & Publications Trust to put out heavily-edited versions of his speeches. As a result, it is not uncommon to come across an unclear passage in his writings that makes little sense. One while reading an issue of Sanathana Sarathi, I once read a paragraph that was grammatically incorrect! It had been edited so badly that it barely made any sense at all. Now that I look back on those days, I can see how I used to articulate this concerns even when I was still a devotee, asking other devotees for ways and means to resolve all of these problems. I don't recall much helpful assistance. So it seems that, at least from my own experience, things get to be shoved under the carpet and forgotten about even when a sincerely enquiring devotee brings it out into the open.

Copyright © Sai Baba EXPOSED! 2005-2007. Discuss this post!

The Initiation

Well, hello.

I decided to start this blog as a way to pen my thoughts about the Sai Baba situation. One of my big regrets about being a SB devotee is that I never kept some sort of journal that properly described my progress in the organisaton as well as all the realisations that I had, both political and spiritual. This need was more poignantly felt at the time of my exit from that whole belief system. At that time I had quite a disillusioned ooutlook as well as some interesting points that I wished I had had the time to jot down somewhere. I did once keep a diary of the numerous "blessings" and such that I received from him during my 1997 visit to him, but nothing seriously deep or thoughtful.

I hope that this blog will lead somewhere in that direction. I cannot promise that it will all flow through, but just that I might have some interesting anecdotes, realisations and memories to share, as well as some description of the theological and philosophical inaccuracies that Sai Baba passes off in the guise of "divine teachings".

For me, this was one of the worst aspects of his whole sideshow. Aside from the immoral acts that he perpetrates and also the corruption within the organisation, the one issue that really affected me on a personal level was the way he misleads his followers by:-

a) pretending that he in an avatar (incarnation of God), and
b) teaching wrong things.

By "wrong", I do not mean that he teaches people to do wrong things such as kill and loot, and so on, but just that from the standpoint of philosophy, his teachings are largely one-sided and myopic. It is sometimes sad to see how his followers blindly believe him and his teachings simply because they do not know any better. These are some issues that I plan to expand upon in future writings.

I should probably also get around to penning some sort of descriptive record of my experiences with SB and the organisaton and put it up somewhere on the net. For now I can introduce myself as someone who believed in Sai Baba as God for a period of 10 years. I made several trips to India to visit him at several of his ashrams, and I had the opportunity to view him at close quarters on two specific occasions that are commonly referred to as 'interviews' amongst his devotees. I would like to quote from a recent post that I wrote on a discussion forum dealing with one of the issues that led me to leave him and his organisation:

"I was a devotee of SB for 10 years and I also had many dreams, leelas, interviews, and so on. I also did not change my mind because of what someone told me; I changed my mind and stopped worshipping Him as God because I actually followed his teachings.

"Would you like to know how I did that?

"You know how Sai Baba always says that only those who study the scriptures are able to actually gain some insight into who God is? Well actually, that's his roundabout way of saying "if you want to understand me, study the scriptures." The implication is that if you read the scriptures, you will be able to understand who God is, His activities, His qualities, and so on. He also likes to identify himself with God often.

"Well, you know, that's what I did. I've always been interested in scriptures anyway and it was a pleasure to read them yet again. The interesting thing is that as I was studying, I began to realise that Sai Baba was not God at all. I mean, all of the qualities and attributes and descriptions of God in our scriptures, they do not fit Sai Baba at all!

"Let me give you an example: God is FULL of six major opulences. These opulences are strength, fame, wealth, knowledge, beauty, and renunciation. Mind you, God being all in all must be FULL of these six opulences, not just a little bit. In other words, He is the MOST beautiful, MOST famous, MOST strongest, and so on. So at the risk of being superficial, is Sai Baba MOST beautiful? No. MOST strongest? Hell no, he gives darshan in a wheelchair these days, or was it a golf cart? MOST wealthiest? I don't think he's made anyone's Rich List. In any case you get the point, right?

"So in the same way, if you actually get around to reading proper scriptures and analysing tall of the points in different ways, you'll see that they do not describe SB at all, but rather the "real" God. And since it was SB himself who advised me to do this in his teachings, it is SB himself who is pointing the way to his own downfall. Isn't that hilarious?"

I have about this elsewhere but the above just about sums up the gist of the issue. Of course there were many other factors that caused me to leave, and I hope to deal with and discuss them in future posts on this blog. It is interesting to see that the discussion forums that served us very well at the beginning of our quest to bring Sai Baba to justice no longer serve a good purpose. They now appear to be arenas of constant spam and fruitless discussion with heavily-influenced followers who are not prepared to engage in mature and thoughtful discussion about the various concerns surrounding this figure. Add a healthy dollop of ad-hominem attacks and character assassination at every step and it soon becomes clear that a battleground is not necessary any longer.

In any case, it has become abundantly clear that while discussion served us well in the past, the majority of ex-devotees who currently contribute their efforts to bring him to justice are focusing most of their energies on that purpose. As such, discussion forums no longer serve a healthy purpose for such undertakings except perhaps for clarifications needed or to make some announcements. The days of fruitful discusson are long gone, and while there may be occasional glimmers of light in the darkness, they are by and large unworkable and a complete waste of time.

Surprsingly, with Sai Baba's huge emphasis on truth as one of his cardinal expectations of his devotees, it appears that most of his followers who pose themselves as the "defence counsel" have scant regard for truth and facts. They seem to spend a lot more time concerning themselves with the supposed faults of the ex-devotees whether they exist or not.

Anyway, I've rambled on long enough for an initial post. I guess the value of this blog will become obvious in the days to come. Let's hope that this becomes a fruitful undertaking and the start of something new.

Copyright © Sai Baba EXPOSED! 2005-2007. Discuss this post!