Sai Baba's Shirdi LIES 5
A shocking discovery in my research consisted of information about how Sathya Sai devotees are unashamedly using the name of known Shirdi authorities to acquire a measure of authenticity for their "avatar". More specifically, Venkamma and Seshama Raju (Sathya Sai's elder brother and sister) were jointly interviewed by V. Balu and Shakuntala Balu and were reported to have surrendered the following information about what occurred soon after Raju publicly declared himself as the reincarnation of Shirdi Baba:
"He [Raju] stayed in Uravakonda for some time more. People came from far and near to attend his bhajans. His fame spread like wild fire. Many sceptics came and were convinced. Mr. B.V. Narasimhaswamy, who wrote the life of Shirdi Sai Baba in detail and established the Sai Samaj in Madras, went to see Sathyam. He said to Seshama Raju, 'Though we do prachar [preaching] of [Shirdi] Sai Baba, we have not been as effective as this boy in spreading the name of Sai Baba. Whether he is an incarnation or not of Sai Baba, only time will tell.' He also wrote about this in the Sai Sudha magazine." - Divine Glory, p. 146.
No matter how you look at this, this story certainly serves as an example of almost shameless publicity-seeking. We have previously noted the status of Narasimha Swamiji in the firmament of the Shirdi sky, providing a brief description of his life achievements while we were at it, and suffice to say that it is largely down to his efforts that the name of Shirdi Sai Baba spread throughout India on account of his enthusiastic preaching and construction of temples in the Baba's honour, also founding and editing the 'Sai Sudha' magazine.
A prominent feature of the Swamiji's activities entailed travelling far and wide to meet with those who had directly met with Shirdi Sai Baba and experienced his miracles and presence first-hand. Part and parcel of this was to meet with several "reincarnations" who, by the early 1920s (Shirdi Sai Baba died in 1918), were already sprouting up here and there. In his famous four-volume biography of Shirdi Sai, Narasimha Swami relates how he personally met several such reincarnations and exposed them as frauds without mentioning if one of them was Raju. Further research is necessary to clarify the issue of the alleged article in Sai Sudha, but for now we may note that the general policy among the Shirdi milieu is that the Baba has not been reincarnated as we have observed on several occasions. As recently as 1982, a certain Narayana Baba of Hyderabad claimed that Shirdi Sai Baba had not reincarnated:
"He says the disembodied soul of his guru (that is, Sai Baba) talks to him. He sits before a framed photograph of the Sai Baba of Shirdi and looks at it for enlightenment... With the help of his guru's spirit, he is even able to materialise rings, lockets, and vibhuti [ash] from thin air. When asked how he produces these things he declares that the spirit of his departed guru gives them in his hands, so that when he opens his fists the object is there." - Ruhela, 'Sai Baba And His Message', p. 133-34.
The object of this series of articles was to engender a deep and penetrating analysis of [Sathya] Sai Baba's Shirdi Lies in the light of new discoveries. While we await the results of continuing research on these and other lines of enquiry, we hope that we have been largely successful in bringing this information to the public and helping them to re-evaluate their understandings of the Sai Baba phenomenon. By way of a short recap, we have shown how Sathya Sai and his official biographies initiated false impressions about his 'self-knowledge' while not disclosing the culture of Shirdi devotion that was prevalent in Puttaparthi; the testimonies of several old devotees who witnessed Raju engaging in Shirdi worship on a substantial scale; a brief recapitulation of the scorpion incident which is inconsistent in places and revealed evidence of Shirdi Sai Baba as being a separate figure; a short review of the tangled explanations offered to explain the transformation of Raju into 'Sai Baba'; and a short discussion about the possibility of a reincarnation. Considering that Sathya Sai's empire is based on the foundations of his declaration of his identity with Shirdi Sai, it's no mean feat to declare that - with the uncovering of these devastating facts - those foundations will now crumble.
To round off these essays we will conclude with the wise and considered words of that doyen of Shirdi, His Holiness B.V. Narasimha Swamiji, by whose efforts the name of Shirdi Sai Baba has largely spread to every corner of India:
"The question has several times been raised whether Sri Sai Baba arranged for and left a successor to his position. He was Guru on certain lines to vast numbers of people who looked to him at Shirdi for governing their entire lives. Naturally one would expect that such a person with such vast and mighty powers would provide his devotees with some means for their future guidance. Usually a Guru forms a Math or an Ashram and trains up, some time before he passes away, a pupil and even introduces him to those dependent on that Math or Ashram ... Every experience of every devotee that comes to him now makes him feel that he is dealing with Divinity, a good Guardian Angel, or Ishta Devata [chosen deity], if he likes to term him so. So Baba's assurance of the continuance of his protecting personality after Mahasamadhi is a sufficient reason why Baba did not mind the absence of any person to get into his Gadi [seat] at Shirdi and continue his Guruparampara [lineage of gurus] there. It is not necessary to discuss the claims of X, Y or Z, who occasionally put forward the chaim that he is the successor of Sai Baba. A few of such claims seem to have been put forward. But they were all pooh-poohed and there is no set of Sai Bhaktas that we are aware of who are deliberately saying and holding to the position that X, Y or Z was the successor to Baba's Gadi.
"That however, is a different matter from the question whether there is now any living person who has to be identified with Sai Baba. Just as the Avatars left Nava Naths as their representatives on earth, sometimes people come forward and say 'I am an Avatar of Sai Baba'. This sort of claim has been put forward in various places at various times. It is not necessary to narrate all of them even if that were possible ... But these have occasionally been mentioned in the columns of the 'Sai Sudha' or other papers and invariably on investigation, it has been noted that any person, claiming to be Sai Baba, does not show even a very small fraction of Baba's nature. Mere power to read thought, mere clairvoyance, mere production of articles from empty box and hands and mere devotion to Sai or God, will not constitute one into an Avatar of Sai. So, we might conclude this chapter by saying that Sai left no successor to his seat, that there was no seat to succeed to, (as God's seat can never be vacant) and that there is no person living who can be recognised by all as having the entire Sai spirit or Soul in his body, that is, who can be regarded as the Avatar of Sai.
"That question arises because of the statements of Sai Baba to several of his devotees ... Kaka Dixit (H.S. Dixit) seems to have said, 'Baba said that he would suddenly appear as a boy of eight and show himself, that is, his power and nature'. We have not till now discovered any boy of eight, who had Baba's wonderful nature and powers. Even if he should take birth somewhere, his Apantaratma Rupa is still there and still helping. Therefore the question of our finding any person now who is the Avatar of Baba need not be further discussed. It is sufficient to say that those who are anxious to benefit by Sai Baba will be very wise if they confine themselves to the well known history of Sai Baba; and if they adopt the usual and well known methods for contacting Sai Baba of Shirdi, who is now no other than God himself, they would succeed, and they need not be panting to discover if there is any Avatar of Sai Baba or anyone who is entitled to call himself the successor of Sai Baba for the Shirdi Gadi. God's seat we repeat is never vacant. Sai Baba was and is God always immersed in the God idea, and carrying out God's lilas when he was in the flesh. His Ritambhara Prajna or Antarjnana, as it was called, his control over men's minds and material objects at any distance, his power to appear and do anything anywhere, can only be called divine. These powers we read of in his lilas before 1918, and we read of the same also after 1918.
"Sri Sai Baba's kindness in stirring up people's minds to contact him now seems to extend itself in various places in remarkable forms and ways which are not always understood by us, but which are to spread faith in Baba. What Sai Baba did at Coimbatore in 1943, at Ramachandrapuram in 1950-54, at Ahmedabad in 1953, and at Thotapalli Hills in 1954 and in so many other places, have been brought to public notice and have greatly increased the number of Sai bhaktas. These recent lilas ... have strengthened people's fath in Baba and are bound soon to make Sai faith reach all the distant corners of this country, a faith that deals with Sai Baba as God and not as a human being holding a position that has to be filled up by a successor." - Life of Sai Baba Vol. II, p. 336-49
We couldn't have put it better.
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