17 November 2005

PA to the Double BA

I had a strange dream last night of which I wanted to keep a record.

I dreamt that I was in Prashanti Nilayam back in the days when it was only the Prashanti Mandir there, and there was no Kulwant Hall or any of the fancy trappings. It was a very vivid dream where I found that I was Sai Baba's Personal Assistant. In those terms it meant that I had the job that any devotee would kill for. As a "disciple" I would be attending to Sai Baba's every need; being with him all the time, serving his food, eating with him, being his bodyguard, cleaning up after him, taking him to the bathroom, and so on and on.

The weird thing in all of that is that while I was aware and made aware of the great "honour" that had been bestowed upon me, I was in clear consciousness of the fact that I hated this guy. Despite having the "greatest job in the world", I was still very much an ex-devotee. I was wondering what in the world had led me here and into this position. I was mortified at how I would seemingly have to live here and take care of this guy for the rest of my life. Or, given his age and decrepitude, the rest of his life. My feelings were very much along the lines of "What the hell am I doing here?"

Although I don't know his name and never have, an old guy who I used to work with doing seva in the Whitefield Indian canteen (in real life) was in the dream. As in life, his job in the dreamy Nilayam was an attendant on the verandah and he was grinning and embracing me with great glee that I had been given this great honour. Although I was happy to meet and greet this man as well as reciprocate his affection accordingly, I was filled with a sinking feeling as I slowly absorbed what was happening. Everyone's eyes were on me; the ashram residents, the visiting devotees, the other close disciples, they were all gazing at me with envy.

I admit that I quite enjoyed the power that this position ensured. I had freedom to walk all over the ashram and even all over the darshan compound, which is quite a contrast from the position of an ordinary devotee getting shouted down by overenthusiastic sevadals. I was given my own room to stay which was in the bottom left of the mandir directly opposite the interview room. As I was checking out this room, I was aware of many pairs of eyes staring at me from outside. Being constantly watched was a very creepy feeling; perhaps this is also what Sai Baba has had to endure all of his life?

Then came the moment which defined my responsibilities, Sai Baba needed to be taken to the toilet. A weird job, but it was mine. So I took him to the toilet and left the door slightly ajar to make sure I'd see or hear if he slipped and fell or anything. He was taking quite some time to urinate, so I slightly opened the door to check if he was ok. There seemed to be three different types of toilet; two of your average sit-down Western type and one regular walled urinal. Sai Baba's robe was slightly lifted and his ankles were exposed, so it was obvious what he was still doing. As he finished and turned around, I quickly stepped back in order to pretend that I hadn't witnessed anything in order to give him some dignity. He then locked the door from inside and I got the feeling that he was about to have a shower, so I sat cross-legged on the floor and waited for a while, and then walked around the compound.

And then I woke up, having no idea what this dream was all about. I no longer subscribe to the idea that dreams of Sai Baba are direct visitations from him, although when you've been telling yourself that for about 10 years you start to wonder if it's true given the vividity. Even so, how odd it is to hold such a high position given my current feelings about him. I distinctly remember wondering how I would be able to carry the whole thing off. And then it hit me, what if I was having an insight into the mentality of many of the nondevotee lieutenants there? Given the many claims that some of the ashram staff are "all in on the con" and that I also know for a fact how many of his intimate advisors are not his devotees and do not believe in his divinity, I just wonder if I was one of those? This seems to be the only reasonable explanation.

Though I spend some time pursuing my psychology studies I haven't paid much attention to the neurological and emotional processes of dreaming beyond the well-known idea that dreams are the surfacing of what lurks in the subconscious. I can't conceive of aspiring for such a job at this stage in my life given my current feelings for Sai Baba, and so I can only guess it is the surfacing of past desires that I may have held in the past. Desires that almost every devotee has and probably fantasizes about.

In any case I'm glad that I've got it out of my system. Interesting how having this dream coincided with the night I decided to temporarily withdraw from forum discussions in order to work on upcoming Expose projects. Also, I'm grateful for having an insight into the mentality of those undevotees, who I've wondered about from time to time. How do they live their lives day-in and day-out, proclaiming false devotion to a mortal man who they pretend to deify just to get by and make a living? I cannot even conceive of the horrible prospect of living such a life.

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