Responses to Gurupurnima Paper
By: Sanjay K. Dadlani
Still hot on the heels of my recent ‘Gurupurnima Nonsense’ paper, a Sai Baba devotee has endeavoured to address, challenge and refute many of the points brought up therein. I believe that this devotee’s comments are worth addressing if only to publicly show the depth of desperation and brainwashing that they display in an attempt to explain away the ridiculous contradictions and half-baked philosophies that Sai Baba heavily preaches. It is interesting how a pseudo-philosophical spin can be put on a discourse that was in fact philosophically weak.
Before we start, it should be noted that this particular devotee is noted for his brash and extremely rude style of speaking, which is obviously against the codes of conduct that Sai Baba has set for those who claim to be his devotees. Readers who are of a sensitive and peaceful nature are advised to read this paper with due caution. Understandably, this devotee is an anonymous heckler who passes by the name of “truth bliss,” and for the purposes of this paper we shall be referring to him as ‘TB.’
Now let us try to understand his objections to the aforementioned paper.
In response to:
“This is just a typical example of the consumer-friendly philosophy that is preached by Sai Baba.”
“Pretentious ignoramus. The Bhagavad Gita must be 'consumer-friendly' as well right? How many paths does it teach?”
Well, much as I try to understand, I cannot understand why TB attempts to bring the Bhagavad-gita into an area where we are discussing the ‘consumer-friendly’ philosophy preached by Sai Baba. Evidently, TB is using the holy text as a platform to launch an attack by attempting to find faults in it in order to “refute” my point.
It can be answered fairly that the Bhagavad-gita does indeed describe a number of paths for spiritual aspirants to follow. Some of these paths are karma-yoga (union through sanctified activities), jnana-yoga (union through knowledge), dhyana-yoga (union through meditation and yoga) and bhakti-yoga (union through selfless love). Followers of Paramahansa Yogananda claim that Krishna speaks two verses that support the theory and practice of kriya-yoga. However, just because Krishna describes several paths does not necessarily mean that each of these paths is a direct highway to the destination. After all, Krishna Himself does say:
“All of them - as they surrender unto Me - I reward accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pritha.” – BG 4.11
“Reward accordingly” are the operative words here. This clearly shows that seekers who follow a particular path are rewarded accordingly according to the degree of surrender they have attained as well as attaining the goal of the path itself. Elsewhere in the Gita, Krishna says:
“Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; those who worship ancestors go to the ancestors; and those who worship Me will live With Me.” – BG 9.25
This verse clearly shows that different goals are attained according to the path one has taken. The same holds true for the followers of the spiritual paths previously mentioned; a follower of karma-yoga will attain a particular result, a follower of jnana-yoga will attain another, a dhyana-yogi will attain yet another and the bhakti-yogi will attain still another. There would be no point in the existence of different paths if there were no different goals. Do all roads really lead to Rome? If I purchase a ticket to New York, will I be flying to Paris? If a student reads Computer Science, will he attain a degree in Psychology?
Most importantly, can one attain God (or Krishna) by not following the specific path? This is perhaps one of the most important concepts of the Gita; which path does Krishna recommend? The answer comes directly from Him:
“A yogi is greater than the ascetic, greater than the [jnani] and greater than the [karmi] worker. Therefore, O Arjuna, in all circumstances, be a yogi. And of all yogis, he who always abides in Me with great faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service, is most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all.” – BG 6.46-47
“One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God.” – BG 18.55
The message is clear: Krishna has a preference for bhakti-yoga. And if that wasn’t clear enough, Krishna clarifies the matter elsewhere in the Srimad-bhagavatam:
“My dear Uddhava, the unalloyed devotional service rendered to Me by My devotees brings Me under their control. I cannot be thus controlled by those engaged in mystic yoga, Sankhya philosophy, pious work, Vedic study, austerity or renunciation.” – Srimad-bhagavatam 11.14.20
To conclude this point, even though Bhagavad-gita appears to be a consumer-friendly text by virtue of describing different paths, it ultimately depends on what exactly the ‘consumer’ is interested in ‘purchasing.’
In response to:
“The unsuspecting spiritual aspirant is led to believe that God is a nameless, formless entity who will answer to or appear in any form that is desired by the aspirant.”
“The Upanishads are the source of Vedanta Philosophy. What do they teach?”
Well, first of all, we should correct TB in his mistaken notion that the Upanishads are the source of Vedantic philosophy. The source of Vedantic philosophy is contained in none other than the Vedanta-sutras themselves, also known as the Brahma-sutras. The Upanishads are a separate body of texts that are believed to be revelations that were given to elevated Rishis.
Now that this has been clarified, how do I proceed? I do not know if TB is quoting the Upanishads or the Vedanta-sutra. If it is the Upanishads, then which Upanishad in particular is he referring to? I will just go ahead and speak of the Upanishads.
Different Upanishads say different things, and most important is the interpretation. Unfortunately through the passage of time, the commentaries of scholars who have attempted to use the sacred texts as a vehicle to propagate their own philosophies have remarkably clouded the original meaning of the texts. It now seems practical to learn Sanskrit in a bid to try to understand the texts. It should also be noted that the Upanishads and the Vedanta-sutra are ambiguous in nature, which accounts for why there are different interpretations of the same texts in the major philosophical schools of India. However, let us try to understand what they teach about God’s supposed formless and nameless nature. I will quote several examples of the form-full nature:
“As when a drum is beaten, one is not able to grasp the external sounds, but by grasping the drum or the beater of the drum the sound is grasped. As when a conch is blown, one is not able to grasp its external sounds, but by grasping the conch or the blower of the conch the sound is grasped. As when a lute is played, one is not able to grasp its external sounds, but by grasping the lute or the player of the lute the sound is grasped.” – Brihadaranya Upanishad 2.4.7-9
“Beyond the senses is the mind; above the mind is its essence (intelligence), beyond the intelligence is the great self; beyond the great self is the unmanifest. Beyond the unmanifest is the person, all-pervading and without any mark whatsoever. By knowing whom, a man is liberated and goes to life eternal.” – Katha Upanishad 2.3.7-8
“O my Lord, sustainer of all that lives, Your real face is covered by Your dazzling effulgence. Kindly remove that covering and exhibit Yourself to Your pure devotee. O my Lord, O primeval philosopher, maintainer of the universe, O regulating principle, destination of the pure devotees, well-wisher of the progenitors of mankind, please remove the effulgence of Your transcendental rays so that I can see Your most auspicious form. You are the eternal Supreme Personality of Godhead, like unto the sun, as am I.” – Isa Upanishad 15-16
Apologies for producing such antiquated translations. I have quoted from a number of texts, some of which use archaic language, and I have tried to make it as readable as possible. On the basis of the above verses, and on the basis of many more, we can easily see that the existence of a ‘person’ is indicated. Interestingly, this Person exists beyond the “unmanifest.” This surely proves that God as described in the Upanishads certainly possess a form and a name.
Learned readers may object that there are also several instances of the Upanishads describing God as a formless and nameless entity. I will reply that such descriptions pertain only to show the spiritual nature of God as opposed to a pan-atheistic material conception of God. God definitely has no material form and name but certainly possesses a spiritual form and name.
In response to:
“Most certainly, the living entity is not God since our everyday life and experiences are ample testimony to this [idea that living beings are God in fullness].”
“What are the entities and experiences in your dreams? Do they have an existence separate from you?”
What does this have to do with the fact that living beings are not God? Sai Baba himself quoted Bhagavad-gita 15.7 to show that the living beings are eternal fragmental parts of the Supreme. This verse itself proves that the living beings are not God in fullness. How can they be, if they are eternal fragmental parts? Either the living being is eternally a fragmental part, or God in fullness, and Bhagavad-gita 15.7 makes it fully clear that the latter proposal is not bona fide.
It would be most appreciable if any comments or challenges were relevant to the topic at hand instead of going off on a tangent.
In response to:
“’Please keep us near and dear to You,’ isn't that a remarkably selfless prayer that can be addressed to divinity? Surely God is not so heartless that He would not reciprocate with such a prayer in at least some way.”
“Just mouthing words isnt prayer. Can you know if the prayer came from the heart? Why doesnt YOUR idea of God answer your material prayers?”
Fair enough, there is some merit in the idea that sincere prayers hold more ‘weight’ with God than relatively insincere prayers. Yet in the Bhagavad-gita Krishna clearly stated he even responds to prayers addressed to lesser divinities and that the benefits requested are granted by Him alone. This is at odds with Sai Baba’s philosophy when he says that, “there are many who have deluded themselves that they love God. But they are full of body consciousness and crave for money and material things. Such love cannot be true love at all. It is artificial love … In this context, let Me emphatically tell you that Sai cannot be attained so easily.”
Bhagavad-gita shows the opposite conclusion, so Sai Baba is wrong as usual. God responds to all prayers and is capable of doing so. If He weren’t, He wouldn’t be God.
In response to:
“Now we are led to believe that it is even a possibility to 'hoodwink' God? [Am I the only one who can see this contradiction?]”
“What led you to believe that?? Hypocrites 'trying' to hoodwink God does not mean they are succeeding, does it? Take a course in elementary logic and reading comprehension will you? What a thick, stupid dunce! If idiots like you think they can hoodwink God, how does that make God 'silly'??!! Its THEM who is silly, you illogical imbecile. Your brain really is wired bass-ackwards.”
Why, it was Sai Baba himself who led me to believe it. More precisely, Sai Baba is leading his devotees to believe it. TB forgets that just a little while earlier, Sai Baba clearly stated in no uncertain terms, “let Me emphatically tell you that Sai cannot be attained so easily.” Sai Baba was specific about this also, “but they … crave for money and material things. Such love cannot be true love at all. It is artificial love.”
Then a little later, Sai Baba says: “Devotees of modern times are trying to hoodwink even God with sweet talk and artificial love."
It is incredible to me how Sai Baba contradicts himself. One minute he says that he cannot be attained by artificial love, and the next minute he says that devotees are trying to hoodwink God with artificial love.
Now please answer the question: Is God intelligent enough not to be easily attained, or is He capable of being hoodwinked? Whether “hypocrites” or “dunces” who try to hoodwink God succeed is of no consequence; it is evident that God is not capable of being hoodwinked. Otherwise there would be no meaning to all of those descriptions of God as being all-powerful, full of knowledge, Supreme Lord, and so on. Can anyone even attempt to hoodwink the all-powerful Supreme Lord? Sai Baba certainly thinks so.
TB then says:
“I am sure there are others among your retarded weeded
lot who also see a contradiction where none exists. Your comments are no wiser than that fool Priddy's.”
Ouch. Well it has just been explained how Sai Baba has contradicted himself. What is the need to bring an illustrious author and prominent ex-devotee like Robert Priddy into the discussion? I am guessing that TB has been reading some of his terrific papers, all of which can be read here [http://www.saibaba-x.org.uk/enigma/index.htm], and that TB is now aware of many, many contradictions that Sai Baba has spoken, which may account for his nasty attitude. Evidently TB is unnecessarily biased towards anyone who does not agree with Sai Baba’s ideas. To find out who Robert Priddy is and what is his position, please see http://www.saibaba-x.org.uk/enigma/credo.htm .
It would be greatly helpful if TB and others could stick to the topic of discussion rather than shoot off on a tangent. Good manners would also be appreciated. I am sure that Sai Baba as well as any genuine devotee would not approve of words such as “retarded” to describe other people.
In response to:
“Isn't it contradictory that someone whose eye and hip were affected is indeed befallen by a form of medical danger? In the same breath, Sai Baba says that he has "recovered" from something when he is supposed to have been trouble-free and unscathed.”
“The atma is always 'unscathed' by the happenings in the material world.”
Well, aren’t we getting a tad too philosophical here, especially when it is irrelevant? Was Sai Baba talking about his medical problems, or was he talking about the atma?
“Nobody needs to be worried or anxious about Swami's well-being. No danger can ever befall Swami. Swami comes out of all difficulties and troubles unscathed. He will achieve all success. There may be some changes at the physical level. They are only temporary and not permanent. Hence, Swami wants all of you to be courageous. Now I have recovered and am standing before you.
Is there any mention of atma, or indeed anything philosophical, in that quote? However, we will see later that Sai Baba did indeed suffer pain, and it is irrelevant if the atma remains unscathed.
In response to:
“Now if the prayers and spiritual activities of the devotees were enough for Sai Baba's total recovery from his hip and eye problems, then what was the need for two operations? Why didn't Sai Baba just sit back and let the magic bhajans work? What exactly does Sai Baba have more faith in, bhajans or modern medicine?”
“Its ridiculous to think SB needs faith...or hospitals. As he has said: "The avatar behaves as a human so that mankind can feel kinship with Him". He has cured himself on occasion and he has let doctors treat him on other occasions, so that devotees would have both examples to identify with. Not every devotee can be expected to be so advanced that he can cure himself. For such, the majority perhaps, there is nothing wrong in using hospitals. Which is why SB has himself set up hospitals and even used their facilities. BTW studies have shown the efficacy of prayers in healing. Read the Discourse imbecile. SB gave bliss to his devotees by saying that their prayers were instrumental in his speedy recovery from the operation. All his leela of course.”
Just a little while earlier, TB was adamant about the fact that the ‘atma’ is unscathed by happenings in the material world, implying that Sai Baba was actually unaffected by any of his hip or eye problems. Now TB has changed his argument in an attempt to explain why Sai Baba frequents hospitals; because the avatar behaves as a human so that mankind can feel kinship.
What? Where has anyone ever seen an example of any previous avatars visiting hospitals, or even contracting an illness? Show us one example of a previous avatar that underwent a situation similar to Sai Baba’s. Rest assured, there has never been an avatar that has suffered two hip fractures and blindness. One may praise or criticize Sai Baba’s social projects, but one would be bordering on the verge of public ridicule if one suggests that “God” needs a hospital. Behaving like a human so that mankind can feel ‘kinship’, or naively proclaiming that this is all a “leela” is a seriously lame excuse and thoroughly disingenuous.
As for studies that have shown the efficacy of prayers, that may be or may not be. In any case, this gives more ammunition to my contention; why did Sai Baba need to go to hospital? Why didn’t he just sit back and let the magic bhajans work? Does Sai Baba have more faith in bhajans or modern medicine?
In response to:
“Did Sai Baba feel pain or didn't he? Was there no suffering experienced or did he experience excruciating pain? Confusion confounded!”
“The confusion comes from not understanding the basics of spirituality. Do you think the atma feels pain...or pleasure? The message here is to give up body consciousness: ‘One who has given up body consciousness will have no suffering at all.’ ”
Unfortunately for TB, Sai Baba was again talking about his medical problems and not about the basics of spirituality. Here is the quote that prompted my comment:
“When I fractured My hip, it was not possible to even move My leg. The slightest movement caused excruciating pain like that of an electric shock.”
Again, is there any mention of philosophy in this quote? Quite clearly, Sai Baba is saying that even the slightest movement of his leg caused a lot of pain. We are also receiving almost-daily reports of Sai Baba’s movements. He is travelling to darshan in a golf-buggy, and has practically stopped walking onto the men’s side to give darshan. There are descriptions of him wincing with pain as he walks, and in some cases he needs an assistant to support him. Must I repeat the obvious? I may have to: If Sai Baba felt pain, then he is certainly conditioned by bodily consciousness and is not free of it.
In response to:
“So if Sai Baba was not feeling pain, why would someone like Satyajit (Sai Baba's personal male servant) ask the question in the first place [how Sai Baba could tolerate pain]? Surely Satyajit would be more than familiar with the Baba's capacity to be unaffected by pain.”
“The avatar interacts with humans in a human way. Why does SB ask questions if he already knows the answer? Why did Krishna do the same?”
This is not about Sai Baba’s questioning ability; this is about Satyajit’s. Let us not forget that Satyajit witnessed the entire operation even though Sai Baba advised him not to. Now if Satyajit witnessed the entire affair, he would doubtless be aware that Sai Baba must have reacted to the operation in an uncomfortable way. Why else would he even ask Sai Baba if the latter could tolerate so much pain and suffering?
Satyajit is a close male devotee of Sai Baba. He of all people should be familiar with Sai Baba’s abilities and weaknesses since they spend so much time together. To propose that Satyajit asks questions in much the same way that Sai Baba does (implying knowledge of the answer) is tantamount to saying that Satyajit is omniscient! Is TB confident enough to present this new idea, that Satyajit is omniscient as well?
In response to:
“What is the need to guard a divine body that is free of suffering and does not experience any pain due to a lack of bodily consciousness? As if the ashram itself isn't heavily guarded, what is the need for two boys in the Baba's own bedroom?”
“Why did Rama need weapons? Why did Krishna need chariots? Why did Jesus need his disciples to keep watch? You have a silly childish mind. Why does anything happen? How do you know Rama and Krishna didnt have security? Why did they need weapons to defend themselves?”
By referring to the examples of previous avatars, TB is attempting to set an extremely dangerous precedent. By questioning the actions of the latest “Sai avatar”, we could be asked to question the activities of the previous avatars as well without knowing the time, place and circumstances under which those avatars acted.
Rama was a Kshatriya king and Krishna used chariots for transport. They were both kings. What is the point here? Are you saying that Sai Baba is in danger from a veritable Ravana? If so, then that would contradict his earlier words: “Nobody needs to be worried or anxious about Swami's well-being. No danger can ever befall Swami.” Why did Jesus need his disciples to keep watch, well Jesus was not an avatar per se. Why does anything happen, well that is totally irrelevant. Sorry TB, you have a childish mind. All of these puerile points are all meant to detract from the fact that since the ashram is so heavily guarded, there is no need for two bodyguards in Sai Baba’s bedroom. Security has certainly been stepped up since the murderous events of 1993. Speaking of which, do the two young male servants, Satyajit and Dilip, have any sort of weapons training at all? Martial arts? Simple bodyguard knowledge? Yes? No? If they don’t, then what is the point of their presence there?
Again, people like TB must try answering the questions instead of submitting irrelevant arguments and wasting everyone’s time.
In response to:
“And since when did the laws of space and time change so that the hours of 1am and 2am are to be included in the 'midnight' category?”
“Do some research and see how the day is traditionally broken up.”
Er, well, now here’s me thinking that the day was split into 24 hours, each with its own term. This means that 1am and 2am are known only as ‘1am’ and ‘2am’ respectively. I am not aware of any tradition or culture that includes these hours to be “midnight” in any form.
In response to:
“Earlier, Sai Baba was explaining to the large crowd that he comes out of all troubles unscathed, is free of pain and is generally unaffected by mundane ailments. Now we see Sai Baba clearly admitting that he communicates in a feeble voice and was unable to even feed himself!”
TB simply says:
“It gives joy to his devotees to attend to him.”
Cough cough. As I indicated earlier, it is truly amazing to see the depth of brainwashing and desperation that Sai Baba’s devotees fall to in a pathetic attempt to explain away their avatar’s troubles. Why not just wake up to reality; Sai Baba is transforming into a senile old man who can no longer remember what he said even a few minutes earlier. He has just undergone two operations, one to correct his hip fracture and the other to cure his blindness of several years. He is unable to feed himself or even to communicate in a normal voice. Despite all of these objective facts, devotees still continue to view Sai Baba as an all-powerful almighty incarnation of God whom nothing can affect.
In response to:
“We see that even thoughtful devotees are aware that there are many conflicting reports on the Baba's medical health, and are in confusion about which one to believe. One devotee in particular even went as far to say that ‘we [devotees] are being kept [in the] dark ... as it had been customary thus far with both good and unpleasant events happening/happened in Prasanthi.’”
“The confusion is their own fault. Those with Bhakti derived bliss from praying for him, feeling for him and rejoicing in his recovery.”
It appears here that TB does not even have any form of respect for the views, opinions and comments of his own devotee-brothers. TB is even suggesting that the devotees who make such comments do not have devotion for Sai Baba. A very humble statement indeed! Is TB in a position to pass judgment on the devotion of other devotees?
As we have already exposed TB’s ignorance of real philosophy and continue to do so, we notice that TB is under the impression that it is the duty of a devotee to pray for Sai Baba and rejoice in his recovery. And joy is derived from doing so.
“To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the intelligence by which they can come to Me.” – Bhagavad-gita 10.10
If one possesses real bhakti (devotion), they will possess intelligence too. So just on the basis of this one Gita verse, we can conclusively state that Sai Baba’s devotees, those who prayed for him and rejoiced in his recovery anyway, are not very intelligent.
Intelligence here refers to the nature of God. Material miseries do not affect spiritual bodies. One should know that God possesses a spiritual body and as such, the miseries of birth, death, old age and disease do not affect Him. So not only should Sai Baba not have been affected by hip and eye problems if he was God, but his devotees should be intelligent enough to recognize these facts about spiritual bodies. According to TB, they aren’t.
In response to:
“Obviously there has been a decline in Sai Baba's healing standards. From being able to save a person fully even before they become affected by an ailment to just leaving a little bit behind is a comedown indeed!”
“Those who wish to disbelieve will always find reasons to disbelieve. SB said ‘I do not wait until he gets the disease’. This woman already had the disease. This womans cure involved medical intervention: ‘She took treatment for one week’ and ‘A little malignant portion was
left and I instructed the doctors to remove it by surgery. The doctors performed the surgery as instructed by Me.’ This healing used medicine to cancel the cancer.”
This coached answer is obviously contradicting Sai Baba’s own words. Let us remind ourselves of what Sai Baba said on 6th July 1963:
“When I save a person I save him completely. I do not wait until he gets the disease, and I do not leave him a fraction of a disease so that he may be identified later.”
This shows that at least in 1963, Sai Baba’s healing standards were ‘perfect.’ Sai Baba didn’t need and never has needed medical help to supplement his ‘cures.’ Now we have a case where Sai Baba assured an American citizen that he would “cancel” her cancer. She then underwent treatment for a week and the cancer disappeared. A little malignant portion gets left behind and is removed by doctors. Why? Sai Baba said that he doesn’t leave a fraction of a disease behind. So why was a little malignant portion left over?
What treatment did the lady undergo? Radiotherapy? Chemotherapy? Whatever it was, it certainly worked if the cancer had largely healed. There is certainly no direct connection to Sai Baba to prove that he was responsible for the healing. This is just another dismal attempt of Sai Baba’s to draw attention to his “miraculous powers” which didn’t work this time. Devotees who are genuine and honest are advised to open their eyes and be responsible for their beliefs, especially when there is a 40-year-old contradiction that is taking place.
In response to:
“I thought that God was supposed to be unaffected by disease and general problems. What sort of behaviour is this when ‘God’ is affected by eye and hip problems, then NEEDS PRAYERS to recover?”
“This sets an example of the healing power of prayer.”
Sai Baba was not healed by any prayers. He was healed of his hip fracture and blindness by modern medicine. Fact.
In response to:
“So what great and astounding revelation did Sai Baba give to the crowd on the holy day of Guru Purnima? What elevated teachings were bestowed upon the spiritually hungry seekers that were congregated from all over the world? Did they expect Sai Baba to whine about his medical problems and present a medical report, as well as tawdry tales of two young males in his bedroom?”
“This reflects the perversion in your own mind. Actually this serves to show that SB is never alone and leaves little room for gossip....except among the promiscuous gay community.”
This is the typical hit-and-run tactic of avoiding the subject of two young males in Sai Baba’s bedroom, by accusing observers of being perverted promiscuous homosexuals. I don’t need to declare that I am not a homosexual, but I will do so for the record. Now what challenge is there? How about answering why Sai Baba has two young male servants in his bedroom instead of flinging mud?
All of this paper has served to show how desperate, brainwashed, foolish, and childish devotees can get in their doomed attempts to protect the “avatar’s” reputation. No serious challenge has been directed towards my original “Gurupurnima nonsense” paper. In fact, the petty objections raised by TB have simply worked to highlight and further emphasize all of those original points. If Sai Baba has more defending devotees like TB, then we can be assured that his public image will soon lie in tatters.