Sai Baba and his "free" education
As a genial old devotee told me on my last trip to Puttaparthi, when an education conference of sorts was being held, "Swami gives free education from KG to PG". From kindergarten to post-graduate. I didn't have the heart to ask what he thought of my own experience in this regard. Whenever I have discussed this with ashram officials and parents of various students, the message I always got was that the education was completely free; no charge for textbooks and other materials, running administrative costs, and so on.
In January 1993 I went with my mother to see the Principal of the Easwaramma High School in Puttaparthi. The story of my involvement with this establishment is a whole other box of tricks that I may tell at a later date, but suffice to say we picked up an application form on Sai Baba's insistence as well as a prospectus.
The odd thing I noticed when flicking through said prospectus was the fact that they were asking Rs. 30,000 per annum. There didn't seem to be any explanation for this charge, but was just presented as a demand. Whatever this fee was for, why not be honest about it and admit that Sai Baba's educational establishments do take money, instead of propagating the idea that they don't? This is carried out even by parents of Sai students. And for all the stories of dirt-poor Indian families with their children at Sai Baba's schools, how could they afford such a high fee every year? The whole thing seemed dishonest to me, just as it does even today when I hear so much about Sai Baba and his good works.
Oh, and by the way, the Principal charged us Rs. 30 for the prospectus too.
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