Theological Inaccuracies of Sai Bhajans
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
Hey Shiva-nandana Sai Gajanana
Sai Gajanana 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. :-)
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