20 October 2006

Sai Baba's School Records - A New Light 3

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A major problem in trying to understand Sathya Sai Baba's life relates to relying heavily on 'official' material, such as the authorised 'Sathyam Sivam Sundaram' hagiogaphy by N. Kasturi, whose authenticity and reliability have come under serious scrutiny. A common misconception relating to the young Sai Baba (as Sathyanarayana Raju) is the assumption of his continuance of education in nearby Bukkapatnam, all because it happens to be the neighbouring town. Meticulous research by way of analysing all of Raju's available school records show his education movements as follows:

Puttaparthi - Kamalapuram - Bukkapatnam - Uravakonda

The reason given to account for such upheaval relates to how Raju's parents entrusted the responsibility of his education to their eldest son, Seshama, who was a teacher by occupation and was himself frequently transferred around the district to teach. Consequently Raju followed his brother and lived in the same house along with him, his sister-in-law and her relatives. And so Raju was transferred from the Government-aided Elementary School in Puttaparthi to the Board Middle School in Kamalapuram. Thanks to Seshama's disruptive transfers, he was transferred from there to the Samithi Elementary School at Bukkapatnam. For the first time Raju's transfer certificate (from Kamalapuram to Bukkapatnam) has been released on the Internet and which furnishes us with the following salient information:

(Click to enlarge)
  • Name of the school which the pupil is leaving: B.M. School Kamalapuram
  • Name of the pupil: Ratnakaram Satyanarayana
  • Date of birth as entered in the admission register: 4.10.1929 (Fourth October Nineteen Twenty Nine)
  • Class or form in which the pupil was [unintelligible] at the time of leaving (in words): First Form
  • Date of admission or promotion to that class or form: 11.6.40
  • Date when the pupil actually left the school: 22.4.41
  • Date on which application for transfer certificate was made on behalf of the pupil by the parent or guardian: 20.6.41
  • Date of transfer certificate: 20.6.41

The significance here is of a second official administrative document listing Raju's birthdate as October 4 1929 and that this was declared as such on June 11 1940, the date of Raju's admission to the Kamalapuram school. To follow Seshama to Bukkapatnam and join the school there, Raju left Kamalapuram on April 22 1941, and that the transfer certificate was filed after the fact (June 20 1941), a period of just under two whole months. These figures fit in very nicely with the information contained in the Bukkapatnam record, namely that Raju's admission to the 8th Standard (Form One) took place on July 5 1941, a month and one week after he had left Kamalapuram, and just around two weeks after the transfer certificate was filed. There, again, Raju's birthdate of October 4 1929 was listed in the Bukkapatnam records.

After Seshama was transferred again, Raju was admitted into the Karibasavaswami District Board High School in Uravakonda. His records of admission there turn up more unusual and salient facts:

(Click to enlarge)

  • Student Number: 422
  • Name in full: R. Satyanarayana
  • House or village name: Rathanaharam
  • Parent: R.P. Venkappa
  • Residence: Puttaparthi
  • Ocupation of parent or guardian: Teacher
  • Date of admission: 1-7-43
  • Date of birth: 4-10-39 [See notes below]
  • Religion: Hindu
  • Caste: Rajapuri
  • Class on admission: III F.

With the appearance of a third official administrative document (again released for the first time on the Internet) we get the information that Raju was admitted to the Uravakonda school on July 1 1943 and straight into Form Three. This is an educational impossibility for Raju to skip an an entire year (Form Two) after apparently passing Form One at Bukkapatnam. LIMF posits that since over a year had passed between Raju's leaving of Bukkapatnam (April 6 1942) it was possible that he was personally tutored at home by Seshama. The birthdate here presents a curiosity of sorts; whereas the original entry stated October 4 1939 (and even spelled out as 'October Thirty nine'), a close look at the record reveals an apparent correction of October 4 1929, that too being spelled out as 'Fourth October Nineteen Twenty Nine'.

A partially legible note on the right side of the record appears to clarify this correction and states thus:

"Compared with --- original --- --- & date of birth corrected as 4.10.1929. (p. 32 of the --- regs.)"

As far as this note is legible, this correction was made on August 11 1976! The writer of that note has also appended it with his signature in two places, at the date correction and after the clarificatory note. It is a pity that people tend not to write too clearly and that time also tends to ravage sensitive documents, but it is a stupendous achievement that we have no less than three independent pieces of evidence that confirm Sathyanarayana Raju's birthdate as October 4 1929, and that the major pieces - further research notwithstanding - all fit neatly together.

This "controversy" can now be put to bed, but not before some further musings. You didn't really think it was over yet, did you? ;-)

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