A Very Big Change That Never
By: Serguei Badaev
Document date: 12-??-01
Copied from: http://www.saiguru.net/english/articles/
According to the Sai Babas words, his life consists of some specific stages. Sai Baba describes those stages in J. Hislops book Conversations...:
A Visitor: It would be of interest if Baba would do a large creation.
Sai: Since Swami has taken a body, He has imposed certain proper limitations on himself. Swami has created idols of gold, and could just as easily create a mountain of gold. But then the Government would surround him and let nobody through. But Swami will not separate from His devotees. In Babas life, as with every Avatar, the first 16 years are characterized by constant leelas, then leelas and teaching up to age 45. From age 45 to 60 the emphasis is almost wholly on teaching. After age 60 there is a change.
(J.Hislop. Conversations with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Birth Day Publishing Company, the USA, 1978, ch.XXX, p.83)
However, in the latest edition after J.Hislops death this passage is different (major differences are underlined below).
A Visitor: It would be of interest if Baba would do a large creation.
Sai: Since Swami has taken a body, He has imposed certain proper limitations on himself. Swami has created idols of gold, and could just as easily create a mountain of gold.
H: Swami, people are thinking that after His 60th birthday, Bhagavan Baba will step away from contact with the world and that His devotees will no longer have access to Him.
Sai: No, not at all. Sai is not separating from the world, nor will He separate from His devotees. The course of an Avathar goes invariably through the same stages. It is the same for every Avathar at all times. The first 16 years are characterised by constant leelas, then leelas and teaching up to age 45. >From age 45 to 60 the emphasis is almost wholly on teaching. At age 60 there is a very big change.
(J.Hislop. Conversations with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, SSSB&PT, India, ch.XXVIII, p.91, edition after 1995)
What is the most surprising is that in the first Russian edition there is a third version of this passage. Instead of an idea of a big change that will take place at 60, it says about a restricted access to his devotees.
Sai: <...> In Babas life until 16 there were lilas, divine sports, from 16 till 35 miracles, from 35 till 60 - teaching and miracles, after 60 He will not be available to public. (translated back from Russian) (J. Hislop. Conversations with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, SSSB&PT, India, ch.XXX?)
It seems that this version was the original one which was later corrected. I could not find an English version of this original and would be grateful to the concerned reader if he/she could supply me with the proper English quotation. The idea of a restricted access to Sai Baba after his 60th birthday was widely known to devotees, so many of them rushed to Prasanthi Nilayam in November 1985, ensuring a huge gathering for this important event.
Going back to a very big change, it is not quite clear from the text what kind of change it would be and whether it would concern only Sai Baba personally, his relationships with devotees, the Sai Organisation or even a global situation. The last should have been quite probable because Sai Baba had proclaimed he had come to save the whole world. Anyway, a very big change could not happen without being acknowledged by people in general, and first of all, by his devotees. It is a bit confusing however, that the time periods given in these two texts are different.
Looking for the evidences of a predicted big change I have come across the following words of J. Hislop in his book Seeking Divinity:
Swami told me a couple of years ago that the sixtieth birthday would mark a big change in the life of the Avatar. He says that every move made by the Avatar is predetermined. Although it appears to us to be accidental and transient, yet everything is predetermined. He said every Avatar passes through the same stages, the same changes. At age sixteen, age thirty-two, age forty-eight, and sixty, and so on. But sixty is a point of a major change. He said that as a great wind comes up at harvest time and blows away the chaff and the dried wheat kernels and leaves only the solid, healthy kernel; in like manner, a great wind is arising now and will sweep away many, many devotees. Only the firm kernels will be left. So if you are left, you are a firm kernel. (talk on 4.02.1986. San Diego. California. J. Hislop. Seeking Divinity. SSSB&PT, p.15)
As Hislop said this after the 60th birthday of Sai Baba it looks as if the prediction was interpreted in regard to the events that had happened, and Sai Babas words got a different meaning. Now the change relates not to the Avatars life but to the lives of his devotees. Sai Baba arranges a global examination for his devotees, and the number of his devotees is going to diminish after that. Unfortunately, the Sai Organisation does not publish any statistics concerning a number of its members, so it is impossible to present any official data about the change of the membership for this period. It is worthy to note that the time stages in the last quotation differ from those given in the previous two versions.
The 60th birthday celebrations took place in Prashanthi Nilayam alongside the 4th World Conference and the 11th All-India Conference of the Sai Organisation in 1985. So it is quite natural to suppose that an expected change would impact the Sai Organisations activities.
Some statements of Sai Baba during the years before 1985 may be considered as indirect evidence that some significant change was expected during (or after) the 60th birthday. The following words of Sai Baba which were said at his birthday on 23rd November 1982 can be an example:
Embodiments of the Divine Athma, you may not be able to see it, but it is clear before my eyes. As days pass, even those who are now not able to recognise the truth of Swami will have to approach with tears of repentance and experience Me. Very soon, this will be worldwide. Swami is now restraining this development. When once it is allowed to manifest, the whole world will be transformed into Prashanthi Nilayam. (23.11. 1982. Sathya Sai Speaks v. XV, p.313)
Other examples can be found in J. Hislops book Conversations with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, SSSB&PT, India, ch.XI, p.39; ch.XXXIV, p.111, edition after 1995.
At that time (i.e. November 1982) in Prashanthi Nilayam the 10th All-India Conference of the Sai Organisation was held. The Conference adopted a programme of Ceiling on Desires which was aimed at increasing the devotees control of desires and using saved resources (i.e. money, time, etc.) for the programmes of service to the needy people.
At this Conference Sai Baba addressed his devotees and appealed to start a new unprecedented project to help Indian villages.
On this birthday I have only one desire. I am desiring this only to promote your ananda. You are planning programmes for the coming 60th Birthday. Even before the 60th Birthday, you must adopt at least 6000 villages and improve them through proper means into ideal villages. (23.11.1982. Sathya Sai Speaks v. XV, p.310)
What really happened during the 60th birthday of Sai Baba that might be considered as a very big change? Let us look for some evidence of this expected change in Sai Babas discourse delivered on 23rd November 1985 on the day of his 60th birthday and during the period of work of the 4th World and the 11th All-India Conferences of the Sai Organisation.
Sai Baba began his discourse with poetical introduction where he confirmed his status of the Lord of all the worlds. Among other things Sai Baba mentioned that some people left him but that would not influence his mission. He described quite clearly the motives of those people:
Those who have left have done so, not because they do not like me, but because they did not get from me what they desired. Or, they could not receive here the status and respect available in the outer world. When they are questioned, they invent other reasons to explain their conduct. (23.11.1985. Sathya Sai Speaks v. XVIII, p.160)
Then he emphasized his outstanding moral qualities:
No one, in fact, has the right or reason to point a finger at any blot in me. My total selflessness, my compassionate heart full of eagerness to serve and save, my resolve to establish peace and prosperity, my determination to shower Ananda on the world - these are being manifested more and more from day to day, and I am at all times in immeasurable Ananda. (23.11.1985. Sathya Sai Speaks v. XVIII, p.161)
Then he made comments about the Ceiling on Desires programme and said that the idea of this programme was not properly understood by his devotees.
The message of placing a ceiling on desires and utilising the money thus saved into a fund was to use the money for social service among the villages, for the poor and the illiterate. But the underlying principle was generally neglected. What was offered to the fund was not saving derived by desisting from desires. The old, deleterious habits were not given up. Smoking, drinking, etc., continue undiminished. The object of the programme was to put a brake on harmful desires and not the collection of money. (23.11.1985. Sathya Sai Speaks v. XVIII, p.162)
In regard to the project of adoption of 6000 Indian villages he appealed not to be involved in fund-raising activities and promised that his Divine will would provide the necessary spontaneous inflow of funds.
He mentioned also that due to the devotion of his followers and his Divine Grace a natural calamity in southern India did not happen.
To the end of his discourse Sai Baba announced that from that day he started testing of his devotees. This test would be like winnowing chaff from kernels. Those who would pass this test successfully would be considered as real humans.
As part of the sixtieth Birthday Celebrations, I am prescribing a test which you have to accept. When you undergo it and emerge victorious, you can be pronounced as real humans. The farmer ploughs the field, sows the seed and watches the crop grow, until the grain is harvested. The next process is winnowing. The light chaff will then be carried away by the wind and the hard grain will stay. I shall start winnowing from now; the test will remove the chaff. (23.11.1985. Sathya Sai Speaks v. XVIII, p.166)
It is not quite clear what kind of testing Sai Babas devotees would face. J. Hislop interpreted that test as some serious problems of health which would check firmness of devotees faith in Bhagavan Baba. (talk on 4.02.1986. San Diego. California. J. Hislop. Seeking Divinity. SSSB&PT, p.14). A careful reader has probably noted the fact that Sai Baba announced the test after some people had already left him.
Sai Baba finished his discourse with the words that, obviously, nobody could expect:
A misgiving has spread, and it is causing confusion in peoples minds, that after the sixtieth birthday, Swami will not be available and that there will occur a change in Swami. Mine is not a changing nature. I will never be distant from devotees. I will be available to devotees more and more from now. Sathya Sai is Sathya (Truth). How can Truth change? So, give up all such guesses and imaginations and engage yourselves in the service of your fellowmen. (23.11.1985. Sathya Sai Speaks v. XVIII, p.167)
This article has appeared as a result of researching in the history of the Sai Organisation. The materials that are given in this article, of course, sound differently to those who believe in Sai Baba as in his/her Master and for those who consider themselves as ex-devotees. However, as this material is based on facts, it should be significant for all those to whom truth is much dearer than their own likes and dislikes. I have deliberately tried to restrain from evaluation of the facts presented in this article. Every person can evaluate them according to his/her values and belief system. Nevertheless, I feel responsible to make some conclusions which are logical inferences from presented facts.
This case of the cancellation of the predicted change makes one be very careful and rather skeptical in regard to other of Sai Babas predictions. For many devotees this turn of events might be just another example of absolute freedom of God even in regard to his own words. Sai Babas devotees like mentioning a famous Sai Babas saying: love my uncertainty. Many devotees have no doubts that Sai Baba has absolute knowledge of all (i.e. omniscience), never makes any mistakes, and believe that nothing can hamper realisation of his goals. However, taking into account his uncertainty we have to accept that his words cant have a high prognostic value, one cannot rely on them with 100% guarantee.
Some extra information about other unkept promises and unfulfilled predictions can be found on site http://www.exbaba.com, English section, button news: September 2, The Golden Age of Sai.
During the years following the 60th birthday celebrations some significant events have taken place in the life of the Sai Organisation, which can hardly be evaluated as progress. So, in 1987 the World Council, then probably the supreme collective body of the Sai Organisation, was dissolved. In 1989 the programme of spiritual education (SSEHV), conducted by the Sai Organisation in governmental schools in India, was halted. No information has appeared about the project of help to 6000 Indian villages for a long time. It is quite possible that this project does not exist any longer.
Quite recently a prediction has been spread among Sai devotees that Sai Babas mission has come to its crucial stage. In a metaphorical way it has been described as follows: (translated back from Russian)
Bhagavan told the group of his students, that His mission can be compared with an aeroplane that is going to take off. Up to 70th birthday his mission would be like an aeroplane going along the take-off track and gaining speed. These days the aeroplane is rushing and speeding up and will take off at the 75th birthday. (Sai Reflections: The UK Sai Organisation. Quarterly Magazine: February, 1997, p.15.)
The 75th birthday of Sai Baba, which was observed with magnificent festivities in 2000, has already passed. The aeroplane must have taken off, but apparently nobody is able to recognise it.
I invite all concerned readers to help me and to supply me with the original English quotations for the stages of Avatar from J. Hislops Conversations... and the Sai Reflections quotation which were translated back from Russian for this article. Your comments and any extra information are welcome as well