06 August 2007

Sai Baba's Tattvavada Troubles

In discussing the premise of poorna avatars and how they relate to the Sai Baba schematic paradigm, it might be interesting to briefly discuss the concept for those who are unfamiliar with it: Hindu theology holds that incarnations of God appear on earth at critical moments when there is a serious threat to the natural order and divine intervention is necessary to avert the threat or destroy it completely. There have been many such incarnations (called 'avatars') throughout human history, which has led to ten of them being listed as the prominent and known as the Dashavatars. Of these ten, Rama and Krishna are perhaps the most popular deities in the Hindu pantheon and are known as 'poorna' avatars (also, 'purna avatars'), the reason being that they are believed to have fully displayed the fullness of power of God's glory during their incarnate mission. Poorna means 'full' or 'complete'.

One may wonder why there is a distinction between all the avatars. A popular answer is given is that other avatars advented for a particular purpose, and when that purpose was achieved they returned to their abodes. A good example of this would be Matsya, an incarnation of Vishnu who appeared as a fish to protect the endangered scriptures when the world was suffering devastating floods. The lives of Rama and Krishna were in sharp contrast to Matsya and others in which they lived full humanlike lives from apparent "birth" to "passing" (Hindu theology holds that avatars are never "born" and never "die", they simply appear to do so). And in so doing, Rama and Krishna performed natural miracles and feats that bespoke of the full glory of God, things that other avatars did not do during their own advents.

For the sake of brevity, I am being deliberately superficial and shallow in describing these concepts, as we would not want to unnecessarily enlarge this article. In any case I suppose that the general ideas about poorna avatars are now clear.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Sai Baba also claims to be a poorna avatar. Of course, nothing else would be appropriate enough to describe his great magnificence. :-) Sai Baba's 'poorna' status is supposed to be exemplified via the sensational nature of his "astounding miracles", welfare works, all-inclusive spiritual teachings, and the like. After all, wouldn't GOD be perfectly capable of transmitting new holy teachings for the benefit of the world, which explain absolutely everything?

Here comes the crunch: Dvaita Vedanta is one of the three major philosophical schools of Hindu theology, the other two being Vishishtadvaita Vedanta and Advaita Vedanta. Whereas seekers of Eastern spirituality are likely to have heard of or be influenced by Advaita above all, Dvaita (also known as Tattvavada) has an increasing reputation for having formed its conclusions on a strong basis of sound reasoning, admirable rigorousness and textual clarity. In other words, Dvaita followers have extremely good reasons for believing the way they do, and Dvaita holds that there is no such thing as poorna avatars. :-)

The reason for this is rather simple: Since avatars are descents of one deity, Vishnu, it naturally follows that they are all emanations of his and would naturally possess all of his potencies. In theory, it is possible for Matsya and other "minor" avatars to exhibit and fully display all the astounding powers of God displayed by the 'poornas' like Rama and Krishna, and the reason for why they didn't do so is really because there was no call to do so. Otherwise it is regarded that each and every incarnation of Vishnu is possessed of 'full' and 'complete' power and are thus equal to each other. There is no gradation among the incarnations of Vishnu as they are all him.

Not everyone will agree with this, but there you have it: the viewpoint of Dvaita Vedanta on this subject. This leads us to the natural consequence that Sathya Sai Baba's claims to 'poorna' avatarhood will have no credibility among the followers of Dvaita Vedanta and they are not likely to brook such nonsense either.

At the very least, this is a perfect example of how Sathya Sai Baba's divine and supposedly all-inclusive teachings are incompatible with Dvaita Vedanta philosophy. :-) One of the Baba's oft-quoted platitudes urges Hindus to be better Hindus, Christians to be better Christians, Muslims to be better Muslims, and so on. This will not apply for the Dvaita Vedantin, as Sai Baba's meaningless witterings about 'poorna' avatars will hold no weight with such people. After all, how can Sai Baba claim anything "special" about his status when his claim doesn't even exist in their religious paradigm? :-)


For further discussion of these issues, please see Sai Baba's Tattvavada Troubles 2.

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  • I was curious why he is in a wheel chair, does he have some disease or? what of health problem.
    Its sad that some many people believe he is God even after it was exposed that he molests people.
    What is his current situation>

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 27 October, 2008 06:35  

  • What type of health disease does he have?
    Did any of his servants reveal his trickery and molesting?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 27 October, 2008 06:36  

  • Hi there,

    Sai Baba has numerous health problems but the main one that accounts for his being wheelchair-bound ar ehis numerous hip fractures. On several occasions Sai Baba has fallen and fractured his hip, and has undergone several operations to correct the fractures. It seems that he has been in a wheelchair since the last fall. He can stand, but only barely upto about half an hour or so. But most of the time he is wheeled around by his personal servants.

    Many of his confidantes have revealed his molesting and trickery. Dr. Naresh Bhatia, for example, witnessed the aftermath of an anal rape of a young student.

    By Blogger Swami Saiexposedananda, at 27 October, 2008 23:35  


    Hare Krishna !

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 02 January, 2009 23:16  

  • My only concern is what happens to Prashnthi nilayam after his death?. How about free education, drinking water & hospital? Some one should seriously think about it before they write any critics on Baba. I wasn't devotee till day before yesterday but, yes I'm now a devotee. How many fans OR devotees you have after creating this blog? OR how many good things you have done so far in your life being a human? Wrining critics is so easy. What happend to Lord Rama OR Krishna ? In that matter Shiridi Sai baba and even Gandhi ji?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 17 January, 2011 11:08  

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