From Brian Steel on the Sunrise Chat page:
I have just read Prime Minister Vajpayee's plea for everyone to be nicer to SSB. I note (with great interest) that there is NO mention of SSB's claimed Divinity. He is referred to only as "a great spiritual master and teacher," ecumenical in outlook and with masses of social works to his credit.
Neither is there any recognition in this open letter of Mr. Vajpayee's (or anyone else's) recognition of those frequent claims to be an Avatar. So, perhaps Mr Vajpayee and his co-signatories have read my little book: SSB: GOD OR GURU? Now that would be very encouraging!
This is the sort of letter that the Indian Prime Minister MIGHT send me IF he had the time and the inclination. (I wish him and his nation a speedy and peaceful solution to the present religious conflicts.)
You don't mind if I call you Brian, do you? Good.
The SB Divinity question isn't exactly as you and others over there see it; it is much LESS complex.
You do not understand SB's South Indian language, Telugu, do you? Neither do I, but I am told that in Telugu, if one says "Hello. I am God. I am omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent," one does NOT mean it in the simplistic sense that you "Westerners" understand it.
What one means is, apparently, "I am a qualified guru and I would like you to benefit from being my devotee. What I just said was just my little game (leela)."
That's all. Nothing sinister in that, is there! The rest is up to you and the guru.
Well, nice to have had the opportunity to clear up that little misunderstanding. Please tell your friends over there.