26 March 2006

Sai Youth: DRUGS

Sex / Drugs / Rock & Roll

Continuing the series that blows the lid on the activities of the Sai Youth, it shouldn't be any surprise that several members of my Sai Youth group were involved in taking drugs. No real names have been used to prevent embarrassment.

When you are at school and a majority of your friends regularly take drugs, you begin to recognise the signs. And so I could see the signs in several of the Sai Youth members of my local Sai center. I would have thought it was especially embarrassing considering that my center was one of the very popular ones and had a "high performance" reputation as far as seva and other organisational activities were concerned. I didn't know the extent of the problem nor did I knew exactly which drugs were used. I would have assumed that none of the "hard" drugs were being used (such as cocaine, heroin) but several members regularly smoked cannabis.

One day after the meetings were over I was hanging around outside the center with a couple of my Youth classmates. I can't remember how it happened but somehow the subject of drugs came up in our conversation. Through hints and gestures we let each other know that we were all familiar with the subject of regular use of cannabis amongst our peer group and that it was in easy supply, and I ended up being approached to provide them with it!

"Mike" and "Sam", I had known all along, were two of the several loose cannons in the group. Even though their public profile was high in that they made substantial contributions to the running of the center (involvement in seva, active youth membership, etc.) it was well known that Mike was a figure with an extroverted personality. Of course there's nothing wrong with that in itself, and I personally liked him and had a good relationship with him. I met many of the Youth boys at the first World Youth Conference in Puttaparthi (1997), where I had also met Mike and Sam and thus I had known them for several years before this event happened (around 2000 or thereabouts).

When Mike asked me if it was possible for me to acquire cannabis for him, I was actually annoyed by Sam's reaction to the whole conversation. He was blasé about it and didn't seem particularly bothered about this "drug deal" going down in a Sai center. I was even more annoyed because Sam was one of the Active Members - a Youth Committee within the Youth Committee that was responsible for the nuts and bolts of the whole Sai Youth Wing where finance and similar things were concerned. In fact, if I remember correctly, this took place right after an Active Member's Meeting which made it doubly shocking. I found it hard to understand how you can be a member of a select 'elite' group of Sai Youth and appear to have no scruples where everything else is concerned!

As if that wasn't enough, Mike's next remark left me flabbergasted. He told me that if or when I had acquired the cannabis, I shouldn't bring it to the center! In other words, I would have had to arrange to meet him outside Center meetings in order to hand it over to him.

So it would have been okay to give it to him outside the Center but not inside or near the Center because, Sai Baba might be watching and could get angry about it? I was disgusted at the double-standards of these two rascals and quickly took my leave.

"Never take meat, cigarettes, or other intoxicants and drugs." - Sathya Sai Baba

Of course I never acquired the cannabis for him because I never had any facility to do so in the first place. The whole exercise served to show me exactly how the main pillars of the Sai Youth were corrupt to the core. What was the use of coming to bhajan meetings and organising dramas and the like when there is clearly no problem with duplicitously indulging in bad habits? And drugs to boot, which rates much higher on the bad habit scale than picking your nose.

By way of interest, the drug problem amongst Sai devotees is not just restricted to the youth. It is open knowledge that drugs such as cannabis (and possibly harder drugs) are available to buy from "agents" in the Puttaparthi and Whitefield villages. The scale of the problem was revealed by Sai Baba himself in an impromptu talk for Western devotees one morning in the summer of 1994.

That is another story in itself so I'll just relate the salient points here: I used to be a regular hard seva worker in the Indian Canteen near the Whitefield ashram and could be found ther every morning and afternoon. One day I decided not to go for some reason - call it an inner prompting or whatever - and I felt tired and decided to go back to my room and have a lie-down after that morning's darshan. Another inner prompting around ten minutes later urged me to get up from bed and go for a little walk around the ashram. As soon as I stepped outside I saw large crowds rushing towards the marriage hall right outside Sai Baba's apartments. I have no idea how much Whitefield has changed since those days so I'm just relating according to my memories.

The sevadal volunteers were forcefully discriminating between Indian and Western devotees, and I was beckoned by one of them and told to go to the marriage hall and to take a seat there. Apparently Sai Baba had decided to give a spontaneous talk just for the Western devotees but it was difficult for me to understand what he was saying. This was not a talk in the normal sense of Sai Baba's habits; Instead of talking directly to the audience in Telugu and having it translated into English by someone else just like your typical discourse, he was just sitting in a chair and telling someone what to say. He had also randomly picked an Italian woman from the audience and have her translate the (English) translator's words into Italian.

Anyhow it was a nice event and a bit of a surprise. I found out from my mother later what Sai had been saying. It basically went like this: "You shouldn't buy drugs from the villagers outside the ashram. Drugs are bad for you and will seriously harm your health. Why are you here in a spiritual ashram if your interest is in taking drugs? There are police patrolling outside at all times, what if they catch you?" And so on and on. I think everyone was very shocked that Sai Baba was even talking about all of this and there were a lot of wide eyes around. "People are taking drugs here? NO WAY!"

In any case this just goes to show that not everyone who comes to Sai Baba "by his willing it" is squeaky clean. Many former drug-takers, even though they are currently devotees, continue to take drugs and not bat an eyelid at their own hypocrisy. Just imagine the fuss if I was in the habit of giving out the real names of the people concerned!

Sai Baba had ended his talk by letting us know that he would give a special discourse just for us Westerners the next day, but as I said earlier it's a whole other story that will make a great blog when I write about it. Stay tuned. :-)

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

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