Sathya Sai Baba and the Bible.
Unknown Facts or Lapses?
Date: July 23, 2003
By: Serguei Badaev
Sai Baba (SSB) has produced a lot of important statements about Jesus Christ (see for example the book by P. Mason and R.Laing "Sathya Sai Baba. The Embodiment of Love." Pilgrim Books Tasburgh Norwich England. 1982, ch.4). As SSB claims he is omniscient that is he knows everything, we could expect that his revelations would contribute substantially to our knowledge of Biblical events. This article is based on the analysis of one SSB's discourse delivered on Christmas, 25th December 1998 and published in the monthly magazine Sanathana Sarathi (v.42, January 1999). This article continues the research of this topic which has resulted in some publications on the Internet (Brian Steel http://bdsteel.tripod.com/More/storyman.htm, Serguei Badaev "Contradictions and confusions concerning Jesus Christ and Christianity",www.saiguru.net/english/articles/)
p.2 (SS Jan 99) "This is what Jesus proclaimed at the time of leaving his mortal coil, "All are one, my dear son! Be alike to everyone."
These words cannot be found in any of the four Gospels. It is unclear who Jesus addressed calling him 'dear son'. In the Gospel according to John there is an episode where Jesus talks to his mother and a disciple standing near the cross (John 19:26-27). Quite surprisingly, in Sanathana Sarathi v.42, April 1999, these words are implied to be said by God himself not by Jesus: "When Mother Mary stood crying at the foot of the Cross, an ethereal voice was heard. "All are one, My dear Son; be alike to everyone." (p.95)
p.2 (SS Jan 99)"Jesus opposed the practice of animal sacrifice in Jerusalem. As a result, he had to face strong opposition."
None of the Gospels contains any indication that Jesus opposed the practice of animal sacrifice. Strong negativity towards Jesus from the priests was connected, first of all, with his Messianic claims. In the well known episode of the cleansing of the Temple when he overturned the tables of money changers and the chairs of dove sellers (Matt. 21:12) Jesus' concern was about trading in the Temple area, not about selling of animals for sacrifice. Moreover, after one of the cleansings of a leper (Matt. 8:4) Jesus directly instructed the healed man to "offer the gift that Moses prescribed". This sacrifice is described in detail in the Old Testament (Leviticus 14) and includes two birds, two male lambs and one yearling ewe lamb.
p.4 (SS Jan 99)"When it was ordered that all the devotees of Jesus should be crucified along with Him, even His closest devotees, Peter, Matthew, and Paul refused to identify themselves as His followers."
In the Gospels there are no indications that the priests sought to execute anyone else except Jesus. Even to get a death sentence on him was a difficult task for them. According to the tradition, the three closest disciples of Jesus are Peter, James and John, his brother, who were witnesses of his transfiguration on a mountain (Matt. 17:1). Among the closest disciples mentioned by SSB was Paul, who according to the New Testament became a follower of Jesus much later than Jesus' death on the cross.
p.5 (SS Jan 99)"Initially, Paul hated Jesus. One day Jesus appeared in his dream and asked him lovingly, "Paul, what harm have I done to you, why do you criticise Me? All your travails are consequences of your own actions; I am not responsible for your suffering". Then Paul was transformed and attained sainthood." (This episode was told by SSB on 24th November 1999 as well; see Sanathana Sarathi v.42, April 1999, p.95)
According to the texts of the New Testament, the transformation or conversion of Paul (he was called Saul before that) occurred on his way to Damascus where he was going to persecute Jesus' followers. "On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" He said, "Who are you sir?" The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting." (Acts 9:3-5)
p.5 (SS Jan 99)"Even at the time of crucifixion, he was smiling, because he realised that He was not a body."
Jesus' suffering on the cross is an indispensable part of the New Testament story. Nowhere in the texts can we find that Jesus was smiling on the cross. It is mentioned that he was suffering from thirst (John 19:28-30) Intensity of suffering is well conveyed in the following passage: "And about three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46). Interesting to note that this interpretation of Jesus' state during the crucifixion differs dramatically from other SSB words: "At the time of crucifixion, Jesus prayed: "O Father! What sin have I committed? Why am I put to suffering thus?" (24.11.1998, Sanathana Sarathi v.42, April 1999, p.95).
p.5 (SS Jan 99)"Thomas used to doubt the divinity of Jesus. Such doubting Thomases are on the rise in this Age of Kali. Never be in the company of such people."
According to the text of John's Gospel, Thomas did not doubt the divine origin of Jesus but he doubted that in his absence other disciples saw resurrected Jesus (John 20:24-27). According to the Christian tradition Thomas went to India, where he was killed for preaching the Gospel. On the place of his death in Madras there is a cathedral of St. Thomas. Thomas is honoured by Christians as a saint and an apostle, that is why SSB's remark to avoid the company of such people sounds rather insulting to Christians.
p.6 (SS Jan 99)"Truly speaking, Christmas falls in the month of March, not in December. Since it was very cold in December and people are confined to their homes, they utilised this time to celebrate Christmas. Actually, Jesus was born in the month of March. With the passage of time, this fact has been distorted and misrepresented in the Bible."
This statement is important because of its assessment of the Bible texts as containing distortions and misrepresentations. Though in the Bible texts the date of Jesus birth cannot be found explicitly and ancient Jews used a different calendar, Christians everywhere observe Jesus' birthday on 25th December. Interesting to note that SSB himself gave different dates elsewhere: "Some say he was born on the fifteenth day of September. But, he was born at 3-15 a.m. (early morning) on December 28, 1980 years ago. It was Sunday." (25.12.1979. Sathya Sai Speaks v.XXIV, p.288). "The 25th is not the birth. It was on the 24th, near midnight." (J.Hislop. Conversations with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Ch.XXIX)
"On December 25th, when Jesus was born, three kings came to his birth-place." (25.12.1992. Sathya Sai Speaks v.XXV, p.397.)
p.6 (SS Jan 99)"When Jesus was a small boy, His parents took Him to Jerusalem to attend a fair."
The journey to Jerusalem was because of the celebration of the Passover, one of the main religious festivals of the ancient (and present) Jews which commemorates their departure from Egypt to the promissed land. To say they were going to a fair is almost blasphemous
p.7 (SS Jan 99) "Smile is the best answer to criticism. When Paul went on accusing Jesus, He lovingly went up to him and gave a pleasing smile. The sweetness in the nectarine smile of Jesus transformed the poisonous heart of Paul."
This episode is in strong discrepancy with the texts of the New Testament, according to which Paul never met Jesus during his life. Paul even mentioned this in one of his letters. As we mentioned above, Paul's conversion (that time he was called Saul) took place on his way to Damascus after Jesus' death (Acts 9:3-5).
How is it possible to explain so many discrepancies in just one SSB's discourse with what we know about Jesus Christ? Most of the SSB's devotees will probably find appropriate explanations for themselves taking into account poor translation, incorrectness of the Bible texts, allegorical interpretation of SSB's words and even inscrutability of his divine sport (lila). That is quite understandable for a person who is faced with the necessity of protecting his own faith in SSB as an Avatar (that is incarnation of God). But for the impartial observer, especially for a Christian this approach is inadmissible. Taking into account discrepancies in SSB's words, the most reasonable explanation here is lack of knowledge. It does not correspond well to what one should expect from an all-knowing person who claims that it was he who sent Jesus to Earth. Keeping in mind the authority and sacredness of the Bible to Christians, such SSB's undue familiarity with Biblical texts might be as insulting Christians as for Muslims undue familiarity with Qur'an or for Hinduists undue familiarity with Vedas. I wonder how SSB expects to get Christians into his flock after all.
Commentaries by the Webmaster:
It is obvious that the SSB's Christian devotees don't place much importance on how he manipulates the scriptures. It is also obvious that, regardless of the large population of Christians in this world, many of them are not practicing their faith nor are they very well versed in the scriptures.
It would be very interesting to see if Sathya Sai Baba would dare make any comments on the veracity of the Qur'am or change dates and events concerning Muhammad.