The SB Seva Conference (21-23 July 2002) and
The Guru Purnima Festival (24 July 2002)
From: Brian Steel (and informants)
A resounding success for the SSO, with their costly but newsworthy Seva Exhibition in the Hillview Stadium. As usual, a happy fun occasion for devotees, with free Prasad and lots of good feelings and bonhomie.
Unfortunately, SB did not fare so well since, for the whole 4 days of this important festival, he had what appeared to be a hideous and incapacitating swollen abscess on the right side of his face. Although he was admirably stoical about the pain, this limited his darshan activities to virtually NIL, hardly any vibhuti even, and some of his Discourses were also short.
Characteristically, SB claimed that the swollen face was the result of him taking on the unbearable pain of a child (unnamed, as usual) afflicted with mumps. Although this drew instant sympathy from unconditional devotees (and inspires feelings of sympathy in the rest of us), he has resorted to this thin 'divine' pretext before when afflicted by human ailments, presumably in an attempt to uphold his 'divine' status. Curiously, on some other recent occasions this subterfuge has not been possible: e.g. when he fell in the shower and broke a hip and when the driver of one of his costly festival chariots braked suddenly and caused him excruciating injury - again stoically borne by SB. More discrepancies! And what about those mythical earlier illness which were allegedly the results of SB taking on the illnesses of (unnamed) devotees? Who knows?
Other interesting highlights of the Festival, for those of us outside the SB umbrella, were contained in his Discourses. During the first (21 July), at the Inauguration of the Seva Conference and Exhibition, he was understandably brief in view of his physical affliction. As if under official orders not to refer to his alleged divinity, he merely made one or two indirect references. He also twice reiterated his full support for telling the Truth: "Know the human values in the first instance. The first among them is Truth." And "You may listen to any number of sermons . but all this will prove futile if you forget the principle of truth ." He then made a long reference to his having undertaken the suffering of the unnamed child, and in doing so, was subtly reminding his audience of his superhuman nature. Finally, he had a little complaint about those who "put the blame" on him. But that was all for that first speech and there were many international SB celebrities in doting attendance to give other uplifting speeches.
In his second speech, on 22 July, SB sounded much more dyspeptic, angry, disappointed and confused. He was in one of his characteristic negative moods. At some length, he cast blame on everyone for not being worthy. He blamed devotees for not being proper devotees. He denounced devotees for making a profit out of his name. For the umpteenth time he repeated that he does not ask for money, emphasising his distance from the SSO, which, of necessity, has to deal with the financial aspects of his growing empire. He accused "almost 90% of the so-called devotees" of being deceitful, while
reiterating that he himself had "never deceived" anybody. Perhaps he was annoyed with the SSO for upstaging (or muzzling?) him!
And so on.
More later, maybe...
Especially if we ever get a literal Premsai translation of what SB really