Date: 05-18-02

By: Robert Priddy

Website: Sathya Sai Baba - Extensive information and Viewpoints

In the Sai movement there is a standard fall-bacl position for 'explaining' every awkward and nasty fact about SB: "We cannot understand his Divine ways", or other words to the same effect. It is true that one cannot understand if one has given up beforehand, and this 'giving up' is a 'to surrender to his Divine will', which involves not questioning anything he says or does. Without exception, SB either ignores or fobs off anything remotely like a penetrating question that may be put to him once in a blue moon.

What we would not accept as a valid or relevant answer from other people, many devotees will immediately accept as profound when it comes from the one they believe to be omniscient. For example, when asked by a friend of mine from Copenhagen why it was that Jehova (i.e. God, i.e. Sai Baba) had not told the Jews about reincarnation, but asserted the contrary via the Bible. SB simply did not understand the question and asked to have it explained. (A divine joke that he can't understand? I think not!). My Jewish friend said that the question was about reincarnation and intended to specify, but - without waiting to hear the actual question again - Baba replied brusquely, and in so many words, "Oh! Reincarnation! You cannot understand it. Do not try to think about it. It is like the seed and the fruit." I saw that this answer was just a brush off, but afterwards my friend claimed that it was a perfect answer! His view was that, because the question was one that his Jewish wife considered very important, Baba was telling that they should rather concentrate on other more important things. This is not untypical of Baba's way of answering questions. He frequently replies so obliquely that no sense can be made of his words, or he changes the subject unexpectedly, or brushes it aside and the person concerned often takes whatever comes as a significant teaching or even a spiritual directive. This is also typical of evasive deceivers hoping to maintain others' false perceptions, or to avoid being unmasked or incriminating themselves.

SB is virtually never held to account to his face for anything he says. Most people who qualify to get near him already have too much respect, awe or out-and-our fear to question anything he says or does in any but the most positive or else superficially questioning manner. This is not to say that there have been absolutely no exceptions. There are doubtless those who only pretend subservience, while being self-willed and devious. Most officials in his various institutions who are often in his presence have the 'healthy respect' for him, his will and his word that a schoolboy has for an unpredictably punishing headmaster. Now, is this not what one would expect of God too? In all major religions, God is not accountable for any kind of error or wrong doing. As long as one really believes that SB is God Almighty himself on two feet, or something near to that, one thereby surrenders all chance of understanding anything about him. Add to this the indisputable fact that SB does not WANT anyone to be able to understand him... almost everything he says and does demonstrates this! He also is ever telling people in private interviews to keep things secret, which is a near paranoid precaution for controlling what is generally known about him.

At the same time he is admittedly a master at seeming to tell something, but saying it so ambiguously or obliquely that it amounts to saying as good as nothing. I have to admit that I was taken in for a long time by some of his clever comments and half-spoken sentences... For now and again he suddenly breaks off mid-sentence and turns attention to something else or another person. The disappointed person soon contrives an explanation, for this omniscient God must be telling something through this behaviour. I spend much time searching for explanations as for a needle in a haystack, and they were seldom convincing when I did find them.I now conclude that, to a large extent, he thereby avoids really telling anything, leaving the devotee at least an illusion of having the attention of God Himself. Those he talks to (very seldom more than one or two sentences) are expected to be overwhelmened with gratitude, to see it as a blessing for which one has striven through many previous lives packed with good actions! People want to believe such things, and they do. In pthe ashrams one believes in 'thinking with the heart, not the head'. No one seems to realise that the heart can deceive as much or even more than the head, and that it can be filled with feelings of inferiority, intense unfulfilled longing for love - or at least acceptance.

There is no doubt that the subjective experiences of interviews are very good for most people (though not all, for some are told off strictly too etc.). One can read hundreds of accounts that use superlatives beyond all reason. I can now see myself as mislead and so 'naively guilty' of a much too one-sided and gold-tinted account of interviews in my book ('Source of the Dream'). Therefore I choose to describe my summary of SB interviewees' from the cold clarity of my eventual disillusion with them.

After attending several interviews they tend to be an anticlimax because so little can bereally learned about anything from SB. He just reels off his usual imprecise spiritual directions. Sometimes it is like a routine he enters, regardless of who is present. But this is certainly not how one's first interviews seem! Interviewees are often so worked up after months or years of his 'Wait! Wait! instruction - and who can count what sacrifices and efforts many have made- and are mega-relieved (as if they were pools' winners). In interviews, many behave as if in a daze, there is often a sense of staring, hypnotic happiness. Especially ladies, mostly having been constantly starved for the slightest attention at darshan, often give themselves over to an orgy of gushing words about it afterwards, like 'blissed out', 'spaced out by divine love' and 'eternal moments of realisation' and what have you. All of this remind of some psycho-social orgasmic release of pent-up doubts and worries in surrendering to the delightful conviction, 'So I am really one of God's chosen children after all'. This conviction is always insecure, however, and SB will shake it time and again with his famous hypothetical 'tests of faith', i.e. his indifference, his neglect and much more besides until death... of that one could invariably be convinced and confident, at least!