Sai Youth: SEX
As far as sex is concerned I can't say that I've directly witnessed or heard anything of the sort, but I am in no doubt that many of the youth wing had girlfriends (or boyfriends if they were girls). A couple of them fancied themselves as studmuffins and revelled in their image, even while present at the first World Youth Conference at Puttaparthi in 1997. Of course the Conference would be a good place to pick up girls, international Sai girls to boot, but more about that later.
As a young lad (I was a devotee through most of my teenage years), I was very surprised at how fellow Sai Youth dealt with the issue of having girlfriends. Obviously there were a few boys including myself harbouring a few crushes on the girls, but to my knowledge they were never acted upon. Who knows, though? I spent my first year of high school chasing the best-looking girl in the whole of the school and had a lot of fun doing that. By the second year, when I was firmly into Sai Baba, I had been reduced to a shadow of my former self; I had convinced myself that chasing girls was not something that a good boy would do especially since I was now an ambassador of sorts for Sai Baba. While I laboured under that delusion, my confidence had suffered a crushing blow and even if I did get close enough to a female devotee I didn't act on any crush I may have had. Of course, the 'no-mixing of the sexes' rule didn't help the situation either.
Oh God, what a stupid rule that is! I could talk endlessly about it's (im)practical effects but I'll save that for a rainy day. In any case, running after girls was a strict no-no and was also a serious inhibitor to my life outside of the Sai Center. When I think about it now I chuckle when I contemplate what my fellow youth must have thought; can you just imagine a group of over-hormonal teenagers all acting as if they are above and beyond one of the most natural and organic impulses of the human being? Such good boys and girls!
1997 was the year of the first World Youth Conference. Needless to say, I was honoured to be a delegate and meet fellow youth from all over the world in order to share and exchange ideas by which our Lord Sai Baba's message could be spread throughout the world. Sai Baba himself seemed very impressed with my ideas; out of a contingent of 135+ boys he came up to me at one darshan and materialised vibhuti for me. 1997 was also the year I met Alaya Rahm, who was also a delegate. I witnessed Sai Baba showering him with attention and granting him interviews on practically a daily basis. Sadly, I now have an idea of what was happening in those interviews.
There's not much to talk about sex and the conference except to note how tasteless I found certain young males dressing up at night in baggy t-shirts and jeans, and walking all around the ashram with a girl at either side, exactly in the style of an American hip-hop artist. You know, like one of the bad boys and their 'bitches'. It didn't seem an ideal way to conduct oneself in the 'Kingdom of God'. More amusing conference hi-jinks appeared courtesy of the South African contingent. Sorry to say it, but man, those girls were horny! It was almost embarrassing the way they used to openly check out every male who crossed their path and immediately engage in a discussion about how 'hot' he was. Sorry if this upsets a few people but I'm just telling it like it was. How I laughed when I read the letter from J. Jegadeesan (pasted on the door of the Western Canteen) thanking everyone for making the conference a resounding success.
Which brings me neatly to my next point. I'm not sure when exactly this happened but I had an interesting conversation with an ex-student of Sai Baba's Easwaramma High School. The two children of my Center President decided that they wanted to withdraw from Sai Baba's school to come back to study and live in England. An interesting coincidence is that they both enrolled in my college and we used to meet frequently by virtue of our 'Sai' connection and also by having the same circle of friends.
Priya (not her real name) once discussed an incident that took place in her Puttaparthi school. According to her, the daughter of a very well-known Sai devotee (whose name I'll not reveal here) had been caught exchanging love letters with one of the schoolboys by 'devious' means. It was your typical 'drop and pick-up' system; the girl would write a letter and 'drop' it at a secret location which the boy would know about, who would later 'pick' it up, and the two would exchange message sin this way. Priya was especially convinced about this because she and a couple of friends had inadvertently discovered the girl's letter in the secret location and had been shocked at the contents. She claimed that they went and reported it to the school Principal. Judging by how there was a deafening public silence over this affair, the incident had been suppressed and covered-up, probably not to cause any embarrassment to the well-known father. Priya claimed to have been completely dismayed at the lack of action considering she was the one who discovered the letter. She was visibly dismayed as she told me her tale, even sighing when she related how ironic the girl's behaviour had been considering that her first words as a baby was 'Sai Ram'.
I had no reason to doubt Priya. She had spent most of her school life as a Sai student in Puttaparthi and would doubtless be knowledgeable and privy to all sorts of happenings in the school and ashram. It was very difficult for me to accept this as the truth, and in retrospect I realise that it was one of the factors that caused my leaving of the Sai Organisation.
At this point, you may be wondering why this is such a big deal. If a boy and a girl fall in love and make secret attempts to meet and what have you, so what? Isn't it the stuff of romance á la Romeo and Juliet? Besides, if schoolchildren "fall in love" with each other all over the planet, why then is this such a big deal?
This is the reason why this incident is so shocking; Sai Baba devotees are expected to believe that the Sai students are veritable angels on earth. Sai Baba himself frequently refers to them as 'pure gold' and has often stated that he devotes 75% of his time for them. The students are Sai Baba's big project to train the next generation and educate them properly in human values so that they usher in a new age of harmony and peace to the world. I myself had a very great respect and regard for the students after having made friends with several of them, especially considering that Sai Baba himself had enthusiastically told me in both my interviews with him that I should apply to become a student.
For me to realise that things were not so perfect in the perfect world of Sai Baba was one of the most painful things I have ever had to feel. Despite all that I had witnessed at the youth conference and my years as a devotee, as well as putting Sai Baba's students on an ideological pedestal, it turned out that when all was said and done they were plain human beings just like you and me. I don't know why I had thought or was led to think any differently, that's propaganda and brainwashing for you!
Who knows what else goes on in Sai Baba's schools that are covered-up by their respective Principals? In 1997 I would have shuddered to think, but today I see it as something of a pitiable tragedy. It is not always a good idea to repress and suppress the sexual instinct, especially in the authoritarian environment of Sai Baba's schools where the mixing of the sexes is forbidden and harshly enforced. This is not to say that I advocate teenage pregnancy and the like, as the simple point I'm making is that life in Sai Baba's schools is just like life in any other.
On a related note, I now recall that a little book was published and donated to the ashram bookshop in 1997 to coincide with the World Youth Conference by some Indian devotees. Wonder of wonders, it was full of Sai Baba's quotes and advice to youth on how they should live their lives. And yes, there was enough about sex, girls, and how it is a bad thing to 'check them out'. I cannot find that book right now but I'll be posting some choice quotes from it when I do. That's a promise. ;-)
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