11 September 2005

Theological Inaccuracies of Sai Bhajans

One issue that has been on my thoughts now and then regards the theological inaccuracies of Sai Bhajans as comparable to other religious traditions. Here I'd just like to note how bhajans and padas in other religous traditions often have the hallmark of the author's (usually a famous saint) deep bhAva (feeling, inner aspiration) and this is what leads to their 'authenticity', religiously recited/sung by their followers. In some traditions, recital of a certain saint's bhajan is said to bestow the same result that the saint received. Another noteworthy characterisitic of such 'authentic' bhajans is that they embody the teachings of that particular tradition in a simplified form so that the divine message can be "preached"to people in a medium that is suited to their sensibilities.

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
Namostute Namostute
Hey Shiva-nandana Sai Gajanana
Sai Gajanana Namostute

Namostute 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. :-)

Copyright © Sai Baba EXPOSED! 2005-2007. Discuss this post!

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  • Well going through bajanvali is not a bad idea for some amusement on a rainy sunday afternoon. But I dont think you are going to prove anything more than you already have. Maybe you will find tons of evidence for copyright violations and most disregard for preserving musical-devotional traditions of geniune faith.
    Having said that I have my own recollections of prayer-sessions of long gone school days to add. The bajan-sessions usually started with a ganapathi bajan (I have noticed ganapthi bajans are least tampered with, from the time relaized that, that was the only bajan I genuinely sung). That used to be followed by with a semi-hindi, rama-krishna (usually in north indian style) bajan inserting 'sai' where it sounded meldoious. most of the time we didnt know what it meant and many times we didnt even know the wordings). The prayer sessions used end with a 'aarathi' and 'Om jai jagadisha hare...'. Now this is the bajan most corrupted with word sai. when,I later heard it in a movie,sung by people in North India I was so ashamed. and then there is mantra for vibuti distribution and I still dont know what it meant.
    There is actually a sai version of 'Gayatri' mantra. This is supposed to be the most Holiest mantra for hindus and they have corrupted that too. Isn't this as offensive to hindu extrimists as eating beef? By eating beef you supposed to be corrupting your body (and that's it)a nd by tampering with holiet mantra you are offeding the Faith itself. Try offending the God's name in Islam!
    But worst for all spoofing done by sai devotees is the 'suprabathm'. If you listen to the original Ventakesha suprabathms you really know how bad the sai version is (and want to kill yourself for having sung that). The original version is so meaningful and melodious sung by classical carnatik musicians like S.Janaki. Where as the Sai version, corrrupted with no meaning whatsoever sung by men who are half between pedofiles and guys.
    Then are other accessories like 'Sai ashotra namavali' (108 names) and 'Sai sahsra namavali'(1008 names), which are shameful. The worst (the most insane) joke I have come acorss about Sai prayers is that "Sai sahsra namavali" actually describes the 1008 ways SB has sexually abused his devotees. Now guess where this joke came from? I heard it when I was in my last year in one of His own schools. It was the secret of secrets we had and if ever it got out we were risking everything. Somehow we 4 guys held on to that joke and we are lifelong friends.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 November, 2005 16:51  

  • I second the comments and this is a serious issue with these so called followers of Sai Baba, be it Shirdi or the Sai Baba second. Whatever bhajans you may find bear no originality. Just Sai name inserted here and there, for example there is a bhajan comes in my mind "raghupati raghav raja raam patit pawan sai ram".
    Also without proper philosophy and understanding of the absolute truth, most of these presentation are extremely dry, but still these followers keep on chewing it like a sugarcane which is chewed over and over, again and again....
    Not sure what kind of pleasure they derive from such bhajans.
    Even I'm a follower of Gaudiya Vaishnava parampara and I consider it offensive against the Supreme Lord to replace His name from the sacred vedic mantras and beautiful bhajans praising Him, to be replaced by some mundane, materilistic presentations.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 20 April, 2006 10:51  

  • Dear Friends,

    Saibaba's message is very clear for those who have understood it. Its a pity some so called devotees do not understand it even after so many years. Saibaba's is a message of love and he said, time and time again, that there is no need to pray to him. The essence of his teachings is to - Be a good person and "practise" the values taught by your religion and most importantly help your fellow man, that is enough.

    Let the different faiths exist,
    let them flourish, and
    let the glory of God be sung
    in all the languages
    and a variety of tunes.
    That should be the ideal.

    Respect the differences between the faiths and recognize them as valid as long as they do not extinguish the flame of unity.
    - saibaba.

    Any teacher which teaches us to love and serve all fellow man and most importantly practices it by his own example, should be welcomed by all.

    Saibaba's humanitarian projects are serving millions around the world - free water, free hospital care, free education.Find out more at

    One should not be small minded to criticise, why dont you ask the millions of beneficiaries around the world who benefit from his grace, what they think of Baba.

    We need more people like Baba who are helping the world. Lets join them.There are 3 types of people in the world - Those who dont do anything and complain, those who do and complain, those who inspire. Which one do you want to be?

    Om Sai Ram

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 19 June, 2007 13:50  

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