Concerning "Memories of a still thinking,
not quite brainwashed ex-devotee"
By: Serguei Badaev
It is with interest that I read Sanjay Dadlani's recent posting on exbaba.com.
(1) With regard to missing discourses, I remember being very much concerned about it when I discovered it. My attitude was very similar to Dadlani's. The strangest thing for me was missing two SB's discourses ( 13th January 1992, 20th November 1993) which were considered as a must for SSEHV teacher training, but at the same time were not included in the Sathya Sai Speaks volumes.
(2) SB's discourse on Christmas 1996 is outstanding in many respects. First of all, this discourse was heavily edited when published in Sanathana Sarathi. When you listen to James Redmond's video recording you have a chance to hear very strange things about Christianity and Jesus. It was analysed by Brian Steel in his works (see his website). When we got a copy of the video in Russian, I was shocked reading the script. We presented the English script to Bernhard Gruber (at that time the central coordinator for Northern Europe), he had a look and told us that Swami could not say those things. He promised us to clarify the point, but we never heard about it again. We had to stop the circulation of those videos in Russia as it would obviously discredit us in the eyes of Christians. Some time later there was an inquiry from the International Chairman of the SSO, I. Shah (as we were told) if it would be possible to locate where the 'small Bible' referred to is kept in Russia. Until now nobody had known anything about it.
Comment by Robert Priddy
There was an incident similar to the 1993 Xmas discourse loss back in 1987. At the time, SB told people that his series of discourses, which were published independently in a set of 5 booklets under the title 'Advaita through Seva', were essential for serious devotees. They were circulated in the Northern Europe SSO (possibly also world-wide) as crucial teachings. Only three of them were actually remotely about advaita, however. Only one of these discourses appeared in Sanathana and it was almost impossible to recognise that it was from the same discourse as the booklets' fuller version! This fact was discovered because the English in the booklets was so poor that we tried to get a better result from Narasimhan's translation. But the translation was remarkably different, and the discourse had been cut down drastically.
Reading some of my notes recently (which I always made every day while at the ashram) I see that Narasimhan expressed his considerable concern to me that he would be held to account for having made so many changes in SB's discourses. He told me he had often had to correct mistaken factual statements, and gave me numerous examples... one being that SB completely mixed up events in two Latin American countries. He told me that, at that time (before he became close on a daily basis after his wife died) he would present each edition of Sanathana to SB for his approval or otherwise,either before final printing or publication. He told me that SB usually read through the Sanathana versions of his discourses. He would instruct Narasimhan to cut out too many repetitions and he also sometimes was corrective of points he said were intended only for the audience present, not for the general public. One such was a discourse in which he had said something like, if a man poisons his son for infidelity, he is not to be blamed!! Narasimhan had not included this in his translation, but the Telugu version DID contain it and SB was very angry. The reason for saying it, SB told, was that there was a man present in the audience who was suffering terrible pangs of guilt for having killed his own son by poisoning him! So this is the kind of compassion Baba practices... even condoning murder! For a broad analysis of the sanitisation of SB discourses, see Brian Steel's The Packaging of SSB's Discourses