The Very Important Message from Prashanti Nilayam



The Very Important Message from Prashanti Nilayam 


Date: 09-06-03

By: Sanjay K. Dadlani 



Attention has been brought towards a Sai-related website:

that professes to display an “important message” from Sai Baba’s ashram. The very first line urges the reader to read very carefully, and also to pass it on to others who may not have seen it.

Why the need for such a message?  

Dear Devotees! During the last couple of days a lot of rumours have been flying across the world relating to our beloved Swami. All these rumours are based on the fact that Swami has been giving darshan during the last two days moving in a golf cart. 

What do you know? The all-important message does not bring tidings of a new teaching from “Swami,” nor does it inform of any major organisational changes, nor does it report anything interesting about the Swami himself. No, the sole purpose of this paper is to deal with “rumours” regarding Sai Baba’s movements; specifically, his movements in a golf cart. Personally speaking, I am not aware of any rumours relating to these “golf cart” lilas. In my view, these rumours are actually fact. Devotees of Sai Baba worldwide are receiving regular ashram reports almost daily in their email inboxes. These reports are themselves the eyewitness testimonies of devotees who are actually there at the ashram. They witness darshans and bhajans, as well as Sai Baba’s movements in general, and then they go out into the village to the nearest cybercafe to pen their descriptions of the Swami’s routine. Thus they bring joy to Sai Baba’s devotees worldwide. How then, can they be callously called rumours?

Just read the statement: “All these rumours are based on the fact that Swami has been giving darshan during the last two days moving in a golf cart.” The language employed suggests that the Prashanti staff (or whoever is responsible for disseminating this Internet message) are about to tackle such “rumours” and perhaps successfully dismiss them. This would also imply that the Prashanti staff is about to deny the eyewitness reports of the ever-present devotees in the ashram. In sum, the ashram says that these devotees are liars. 

People seem to forget that ever since He came back from Brindavan, Swami has in fact been using the golf cart; only He is now using it a bit more, as many requested. 

Huh? But I thought they were going to dismiss.. Oh, never mind. It’s obvious that the important message actually has no substantial import. What the ashram is essentially doing is confirming the rumours. After all, the ashram staff themselves outlined the subject of their important message in the very first line; and the next line simply confirms that Sai Baba has in fact been traipsing around in a golf cart. The website on which this message appears has had a popup message attached to its front page, urging devotees to click a link within it to view the ‘latest’ pictures of the Swami trailing around in the golf cart. Of course we have no evidence how old these photos are, and must therefore trust that the webmasters are being truthful in displaying current photos of the Swami. What then, again, is the entire point of this message that was intended to grab the attention of every devotee?

By the way, does anyone wonder why the Swami has been requested to use the golf cart more? Is it because his devotees would like to see the “avatar” in his Cool Rider aspect, or is it because they have urged him not to physically task himself too much after his recent major surgery? Somehow the first proposal gives me much more amusement. 

Yes, the darshan style has changed temporarily but otherwise, Swami is attending to work as usual. In fact, He is meeting Ashram staff, Hospital staff and University staff as always, receiving reports and giving guidance as required. What is more important, Bhagavan is looking remarkably cheerful and is continuing to receive letters.  

Well well well, it looks like the ashram staff are getting a little bit nervous here. To my knowledge, nobody has denied that the Swami has stopped meeting people. After all, the whole point is that the Swami is now incompetent to handle the stress of two ten-minute darshans a day and bhajan routines due to his major surgery. This in itself does not mean to say that the Swami has become a recluse. Yet. 

Why the need to give so much information? Why feel the need to prove something to the world?

After all, as the ashram representatives are truthfully saying, the Swami is going about his usual business. However, I note that in a report dated August 15 2003, a devotee reports: 

“Gone are the days of giving letters to Swami. Oh yes, He still takes them, but much much less from the general audience. But if you’re a VIP or a student of His, then yes. This morning three ladies from our group were leaving without having their letters taken by Swami.  One of them passed her stack of letters to the front row. The woman there looked at the stack with a confused expression then promptly returned it. Few expect their letters to be taken.” – 

So even though the ashram is now saying that the Swami continues to receive letters, this is not entirely truthful. The eyewitness report itself clearly establishes that your letters will be definitely taken by the Equal Opportunities Swami if you are a VIP or a lucky student, but not if you are a relative ‘commoner.’ And the Swami is remarkably cheerful about that.

But wait a minute; I thought that Swami said he was always cheerful and always happy. Ever full of bliss? So what need is there to mention that the Swami is remarkably cheerful these days? Evidently the ashram staff feel that they have something to prove. Well guys, you have to at least admit that there has been disruption in Swami’s routine. Try being honest and truthful for a change, instead of attempting to present a tale that is obviously misleading. 

And, as if this is not enough He is reassuring everyone including doctors that He is just fine! In fact, last Sunday, Swami Himself narrated how there was a rumour that He had suffered a heart attack and how doctors rushed from Bangalore to see Him. As Bhagavan narrated this incident, He laughed heartily. 

So beloved Swami is ‘fine’? Then, pray tell, why has he been whining about his pain and non-pain for no less than three discourses in a row? I am obviously referring to the Swami’s prattle about how any ordinary man would be in excruciating pain after undergoing similar surgical operations as he underwent, and that how he does not feel any pain. The intent here is to hoodwink the devotees even further with tales of his superhuman capacity to feel no pain.

This obviously contradicts with the eyewitness reports that are being sent by the ashram devotees, and also by the monotonous words of the Bhagavan himself! If the Swami is ‘just fine’, then why does he wince with pain when he walks? Why the need for golf carts? Why the need to convey reports of his medical condition to devotees in his discourses? “He walks slowly now, with a noticeable side-to-side ‘waddle’, appearing to have difficulty;” are these eyewitness reports being denied?

After all, I hear that the Swami no longer sits on his “throne” in the Bhajan Hall. He now sits in an armchair next to the aisle on the gent’s side. Why is this? Is this because going up on the platform to sit on the throne would prove to be too much stress on his hip? This evidently shows that the Swami is not entirely ‘fine’ isn’t it? Did Swami really suffer from a heart attack “last Sunday” or is that supposed to be a “rumour” too? I’m glad to see that only the Swami finds his contradictions highly entertaining, as I doubt that rational people would feel the same way. 

Dear Devotee! Please do not believe in rumours. The are spread by people who mistakenly think they are doing service but are in fact doing dis-service by creating unwarranted anxiety, something that Swami totally disapproves of. 

Do note how the ashram staff are increasingly low in specifics. What are the “rumours” exactly? Which “people” are mistaken in their service? What “anxiety” is being created?

I have already shown, by referring to the available evidence, that there are no rumours floating around at all. Everything that is to be read on the Swami’s medical condition has either come from the horse’s mouth or from the horse’s devotees. These devotees have been ‘serving’ their fellow devotees for quite a few years now by regularly reporting the Swami’s movements as and when they happen. Surely the ashram staff are not so heartless that they would label the service of such devotees as “dis-service”? If the Swami totally disapproves of causing unwarranted anxiety, then why does he himself cause such anxiety?

After all, he has said that every step in his avataric career is pre-planned and that everything happens according to his will. So can anyone, especially the knowledgeable ashram staff, kindly explain to us what purpose was served by this latest lila of hip-replacement surgery and sight correction? The avatar is displaying his old-age pastimes? Is that the correct answer? The avatar is getting old, my word! 

Many things happen in the life of an Avatar that we mortals simply cannot fathom. But this we must always remember: He who has come with a mission will not handicap Himself. And, if He can control the Universe, He surely can manage Himself. Instead of spreading unwanted anxiety, let us spread Swami’s love. 

Oh, that old chestnut! The avatar’s lilas are beyond mortal comprehension, thus the best we can do is get immersed in them since we are too unintelligent to fathom the absurd explanations of the ashram staff.

Seems like even the ashram staff have not understood Sai Baba’s philosophy all too well, have they? When Sai Baba preaches nondualism and advocates the concept of conceiving oneself as God, the ashram staff appear to be stuck in dualistic mode. Aside from that, they contradict the Swami’s own words. We have just discussed how Sai Baba say that everything happens by his own will; therefore it is his will that he has handicapped himself. If you choose to believe that, of course. Please, Sai Baba, please forget universal domination. That is a goal you will never, never achieve. Please give up such insane ambitions and admit that you are a fraud who has just undergone major surgery as a normal consequence of old age. 

If we shower love on Swami as He showers it on us, there never can be an occasion for Him to have any problem. The recent hip fracture shows that our love is not adequate. The need of the hour is to strengthen that love of ours, instead of wasting time on spreading gossip and unfounded rumours. God is here to fill us with ananda and not anxiety. Let us remember that please! 

What? Of all the guilt-trips in the world, the ashram staff are condescending enough to state that the Swami’s medical problems are due to the imperfect love and devotion of his devotees? Unbelievable cruelty! Astonishing insensitivity! Amazing thoughtlessness! And I am not even going to start on the brainwashing potential of this quote!  

Jai Sai Ram. 

Jai Sai Kama. You clever little ashram guys know what is the meaning of ‘kama,’ shouldn’t you? In which case, you had better be praying and hoping that your beloved Swami will never, never get better. 

I should inform them though, that I am pleased to see that they are now starting to finally wake up to the enormous potential of the Internet. Despite the fact that Sai Baba has forbidden Internet use for his devotees, it is immensely gratifying to me that Sai devotees, especially the ashram staff, are finally realising that their tried-and-tested damage control tactics no longer work. Their “important messages” from the ashram no longer bear the ring of truth in the face of conflicting and more believable reports. They can no longer protect and maintain the reputation of their avatar. In fact, these sorts of circulars perhaps only serve to make Sai Baba look even more ridiculous than he already is.

I suppose that their last resort in trying to stop unedited reports sent by devotee witnesses is to either brainwash them into thinking that the Swami does not disapprove of their writing activities, or else ban them from going outside the ashram to visit cyber cafés. Now that last idea would be a human rights issue if it came to pass. Interesting.