A few of Sai Baba's traditional views
By: Robert Priddy
"Women should realise that, irrespective of their education or position, their foremost obligation is to protect the home. For lakhs of students and children who go to school, the mother is the first teacher. From the moment of birth, for every one the mother is the preceptor. If such a teacher leaves her home to teach other children, who will teach her children? For Indian (Bharatiya) women, the first duty is to reform the home and run it along ideal lines! The home and the family is the basic social institution everywhere in the world. When the home improves, the whole world will be better." SB at Prashanthi Nilayam on `Ladies day` 19/10/1996. (Sanathana Sarathi, Dec. 1996, p. 334).
This is interesting thinking indeed, for each woman must teach only her own children, so "who will teach". The answer to that is that there is no lack of male teachers, nor of women who are unmarried or whose children have grown up. These women could teach.
The faulty assumption SB implies he has made in the above, however, is that it ids due to the negligence of the home by women that the whole world has become as it is and we know how SB sees the world through extremely jaundiced eyes as a place where unrighteousness rules and almost everything is wrong. He puts the burden of the home and the family on women, and the burden of the world on them, just as men have done throughout most of history! His belief is wholly untenable, of course, a prejudice of bygone ages.
In a turnaround from his "womens place is in the home" talk, he suddenly pronounced: "Women too are doing all jobs equal to men. In fact, women do work more sincerely with dedication. Svaami questioned the Director of the Indian Telephone Industries when he came to see Svaami, about the percentage of women employed in the industry. He said 99% of the employees were women and added that women do better work than men. They do not stop or step out till the allotted work is completed. They have the work culture better than men. It is nowhere stated in any sacred text that women should only cook and not do work like men." (Sai Echoes from Kodai Hills, 1998, p. 48-9).
Here, SB sees it as exemplary that cheap womens labour is exploited in the most boring and repetitive work of telephone exchanges. These women must work long hours, then be home makers supreme etc. etc. This is much closer to the exploitation of women than respecting and honouring them.
But SB bemoans this situation where women are empowered to work outside the home and earn. Again, he harps back to the past he wants to see us all return to: "Rama told Bharata that he should not permit women to take part in affairs of state. Women have their estimable role in household affairs, but the should be kept out of state politics. "Don`t employ women as ministers. The reason is: a nations honour is based upon its women. It is only when women maintain their respect and honour that the nation will be respected. It is not proper for women to cheapen themselves by roaming in public places." and " How does the situation in the country today compare with Ramas conception of an ideal government? The state of things today is 100% contrary to the ideas and ideals of Rama. How, then, can Rama Rajya be established here? If we desire to establish Rama Rajya there should be harmony in thought, word and deed " etc. . (Sanathana Sarathi, May 1995, p. 118).
No need to stick to the same opinion at all, so SB changes tack to:- " in the modern world, it is necessary for the women to share the burden of maintaining the family with their husbands and so the women should also pursue studies as much as possible and take up suitable jobs to share the burden of the family. It will smack of selfishness if the males prevent them from going to work for which they have acquired the requisite qualifications. Women can control the whole world for themselves by virtue of their inherent qualities of love and spirit of sacrifice." SB in a discourse, 19/4/1999 at Kodaikanal. (Sanathana Sarathi, July 1998, p. 172)
So now we see that Rama must have been seriously wrong, after all:-"It will not be out of place to mention here that women who have wielded power in Bharat or other countries have proved themselves to be exceptionally able and successful. There have been many kings of Britain but no one ruled the country so well as Queen Victoria. Her rule was marked by righteousness, prosperity and efficiency. There was no discontent during her reign. In more recent times, Indira Gandhi ran the Government with courage and consummate skill. She was prepared for any sacrifice in the interests of her country." (see Sanathana Sarathi, Nov.-Dec.1995, p. 293)
SBs view of British history is that of some outdated and revisionist old time Anglo-Indian, one wonders where he picked it up a quaint anachronism that historians can chuckle over. Queen Victoria withdrew from all normal duties as a sovereign for decades, mourning her dead Prince Albert and causing huge constitutional problems due to her disinterest, wallowing in grief and comfortable seclusion. So there was no discontent during her reign? Not under the horrendous conditions in the British lower classes during the Industrial Revolution? Not anywhere in the British Empire? This SB is an original historian indeed, a marvelous joker no doubt who really knows that it was not so, but doesnt want to think or speak ill of anything? Congratulations!
But Queen Victorias rule also saw the extremely brutal quelling of the Indian Mutiny or Revolution, did it not? The prosperity and efficiency was for the upper classes only (headed by Queen Victoria) and for the exploitation of colonies. So much for SB as a historian of Britain.
SB seems to dither back and forth between the tradition he knows from Indian village life and the more modern approach many of his middle-class Indian ladies now hold. Women must in effect do two jobs if need be:-
"A lady must look after the home first and then work outside, if necessary she can study to get degrees, enter politics or do any other work but she should not neglect the home, which is the very foundation of her life." (Sanathana Sarathi, Dec. 1997, p. 327-8).
This is the omniscient SB! Are you confused? Well, someone is! All in all, SB must all be very confusing to women devotees!