It took a few days because I had to compose my thoughts but, relating to the posting of a recent announcement
, the ceremony went ahead and a number of "dedicated devotees" received their golden bracelets (I wonder if they all fit perfectly?
) for their hard work in Sai Baba's institutions. However, I some some extremely hard observations to make concerning the amount of propaganda that the announcement contained. As follows:
The Institute has several distinctive features. The more important among them are:
* Free Education: The Institute does not charge any type of fees - tuition fees, laboratory fees, library fees, examination fees, caution deposit and the like.
I've written about this before
but it merits repeating again; the Sai education institutes do
charge fees. When I applied to join Sai Baba's high school in 1993, the prospectus clearly
stated that a fee of Rs. 3000 would be charged for whatever reason (administrative or other). The prospectus itself was Rs. 30, and so this clearly contradicts the lies being put out by the Puttaparthi Propaganda Machine. No need for hair-splitting here; even though my application was to join the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School it makes little difference if it is the Institute of Higher Learning (college) that is being referred to in the circular.
* An open admission policy enabling students from all over the country to seek admission to various courses, irrespective of income, class, creed, religion or region, making it truly national in character.
* Merit based selection through a very comprehensive testing and interviewing procedure giving adequate weightage to intellectual attainments and intuitive insight.
In my first interview (Jan 1993), my mother broached the subject of my joining Sai Baba's school with the Baba himself, to which he became evidently enthusiastic and asked if we had acquired the application forms. My mother replied that she would get them at Puttaparthi and Sai Baba agreed, telling us that we should come back the following June for my entrance into his school. Needless to say, the other group members in that interview room were besides themselves as they slowly figured out what was happening; Sai Baba was directly agreeing to my entrance in his school!
This exchange was repeated in a second interview; my mother again discussed my education with Sai Baba and also added that she had acquired the application forms. Sai Baba was again enthusiastic, asked a few further questions and reaffirmed that we should return the following June for entrance. "Ho jayega June," his exact words in Hindi.
At the outset I'll say that this issue represents one of the biggest traumas of my life so I will not get into it here except to discuss the propaganda policy in the announcement. I will relate my own experiences at a later date. So as we returned to the UK, filled in and sent off the application forms as normal and returned to Sai Baba at the appropriate time. The long and the short of it is that I did not join the school and the circumstances of this failure should raise more than an eyebrow. First of all, when we visited the Principal of the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School (I forget his name at the moment) he didn't seem at all amazed that Sai Baba himself had practically guaranteed my entry. His attitude, though polite, was unlike anything I would expect from a Sai devotee, being openly dismissive of Sai Baba's words.
In retrospect I feel that I can understand his position. After all, anyone could walk in off the street claiming to have been given permission from Sai Baba to join his school, but his attitude was decidedly weird
. You'd think that, with Sai Baba being the avatar and all as well as the Lord and master of his own township and educational projects, his word would be law,
but no, the Principal seemed determined to be awkward. Fairly enough, he said that we should submit our application through the normal way and the final list of names would be checked and entrants would be personally approved by Sai Baba himself. Upon being told that we have received permission from Sai Baba in an interview, the Principal merely replied, "But Swami didn't tell me
Can you just imagine? Here's this guy saying what I thought was absolutely incredulous; it wasn't enough that Sai Baba had personally approved me for entrance on the spot, but he also had to confirm this with the Principal! Of course, like I say, in retrospect I can understand these things in terms of administrative processes and the like, but again this was very puzzling to me as a fourteen-year-old boy, how the avatar
apparently needed to agree and personally inform his staff of his choices! This theatrical performance was more or less repeated later that year when we visited the Principal to confirm if my application had been received. He did confirm it, and repeated his earlier statements about Sai Baba's direct approval of each applicant which was akin to "directly informing" the Principal of his choices.
The culture of Sai Baba's ashram should be noted: Almost everybody has an opinion on what Sai Baba really
means when he says very vague things, or even about his specific statements. After talking to numerous devotees and other staff members, they all invariably stated, "Swami simply said 'June'. Which
June it would be, he did not specify. Such are the ways of our Lord Swami!"
And that kind of talk actually passes by as high intellectualism in the Baba's ashram, not knowing anything about Sai Baba and what he says but simply offering their own mental speculations. Excusez-moi, but I do believe that they were seriously suggesting that I should return in June of every following year to take up my "chance" of being in his school? What kind of wacko administration is this? First I get Sai Baba's own direct permission for me to join his school, then this is subverted by the Principal who says that I must apply properly and get the Baba's approval again,
and now just because no one has a clue about what's going on I must return every year?
This is the culture of Prashanthi Nilayam that has ruined so many people's lives; Sai Baba's pronouncements about this or that affair in people's private lives have caused them to hang on to his every word and wait for an oasis in the desert that turns out to be a mirage. He is a personified juggernaut who completely ruins lives, relationships and marriages in his wake. As I mentioned earlier, this whole affair became such a traumatic experience that I am still not entirely comfortable talking about it and will leave it for a future post. The long and short of the matter is that this whole brouhaha betrays an extremely chaotic organisation that hides behind a conceited veneer.
Although I did return to see Sai Baba in following years, just to visit him as well as the possibility of joining his education institutes in a "following June", the same scenario was repeated. When it became evident that I was too old to join the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School, I thought that Sai Baba may have been referring to my admittance in the Institute of Higher Education either at Prashanthi or his Whitefield college. Prof. Anil Kumar was the Principal of the Whitefield college at the time and also knew due to our regularly meeting each other in the course of ashram life, even he smilingly shrugged his shoulders and cheerfully proclaimed how it is impossible to fathom the mysterious ways of the avatar. My foot!
Needless to say, I did not even bother applying to the Sai University when I reached the appropriate age. I simply could not live my life hinging on Sai Baba's carrot in a "will he? won't he?" paradox. I'm not at all concerned anymore about what Sai Baba himself said about my joining his school because for me it's one of the many things that he can stick where the sun doesn't shine.
Copyright © Sai Baba EXPOSED! 2005-2007.