Last updated on October 6th 2014
While I do not believe in the claims made by some person(s) of being able to interact with subtle form of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, and therefore act as a medium between devotees and Bhagawan, I think what is undeniable is that some Sathya Sai devotees have belief in some of these person(s) and are associating with the activities done by organizations/trusts led by these person(s) and/or their close associates. I wish them well, and I am quite sure most Sathya Sai devotees would wish them well, in their efforts to spread as well as practice Bhagawan's teachings through these organizations/trusts.
However, I believe there are some strange situations where some individual(s) associated with Sathya Sai trust/organization A (including, perhaps, some senior administrative position holder(s), at least in the past, immediately after Bhagawan's Mahasamadhi) take guidance/instructions from leaders/spiritual masters associated with Sathya Sai trust/organization B (with B being totally unrelated organizationally to A)! Now, if this guidance is for personal matters that would be OK, I guess. But if this guidance is for organizational/institutional matters then this is a clear case of conflict of interest, IMHO.
It does not matter whether the concerned office-holder is honorary (free service or on some honorarium) or salaried person on regular pay scales (like sixth pay commission). The office-holder has to be loyal and accountable to the leadership of the organization/trust that has given him that office.
Non-interference in each others' matters is the key to harmonious co-existence between multiple unrelated Sathya Sai trusts/organizations, IMHO. Leaders/spiritual masters of one Sathya Sai trust/organization should not provide instructions/guidance related to organizational matters to office-holders/members of another unrelated Sathya Sai trust/organization. Further, any person receiving such instructions/guidance from leader(s)/spiritual master(s) of other unrelated trusts should politely refuse to accept/follow it.
Dharma Sankat (Ethical Dilemma) when given instructions not in tune with Bhagawan's vision & teachings
Now, at times, a person associated with a Sathya Sai organization may form the view that the leadership of the department he serves in and/or of the organization itself is not in tune with the vision of the founder, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. That view could be a valid or invalid view. But if the person holding that view feels it very strongly then it is best for him to disassociate from that department/organization, rather than stay in that department/organization and muddle through, sometimes taking guidance/instructions from spiritual master type persons who are in another unrelated Sathya Sai organization. The latter can create a lot of confusion, doubt and discord.
[In this context, I would like to mention that in 2011-12, after Bhagawan's Mahasamadhi, I formed the opinion, right or wrong, that the leadership of the department of a Sathya Sai institution in which I was serving (free service for over 8 years then) seemed to be out of tune with the vision of the founder of the institution, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. When I found that me raising these matters were not being appreciated by higher-ups in the institution, and I was told to simply do what the dept. head says, I disassociated myself from the department and institution. That's a clean break. That's how I resolved my Dharma Sankat. No confusion or doubt, though there was anguish & trauma for me personally, and there was a certain amount of discord as I considered it necessary to publicise the matter within my circle of then-colleagues and friends.]
An update with the exchange I had on the above contents (with some minor changes), over email with two correspondents (sharing approved by them).
Correspondent 1 wrote:
Very well written !! Both the points are valid !!
I responded (extract of response):
Thanks a ton for your approval - that means a lot to me.-----
Correspondent 2 wrote:
Here is my 2c!
Firstly, it is unfortunate and undesirable, although perfectly democratic in the free world we live in, to have more than one prominent institute/organization wedded to the vision/philosophy of the creator/inspirer. However, if at all such multiple prominent institutes/organizations (not talking about insignificant localized ones) do come up, then the office bearers should be loyal to the institute/organization he/she is part of and represent. Your suggestion to have a clean break for the dubious ones make perfect sense. The approach you took, given your circumstances, was was the right one, IMHO.
It seems, as happens in many spiritual organizations, to be a struggle between the subjective understanding/aspirations of the devotees for the individual spiritual development and the objective framework meant to sustain/support the spiritual development of the mass. This struggle is more noisy in the initial days after the physical departure of the creator/inspirer, but eventually things do settle down, and devotees find their way best suited to them. The noise of this struggle, for right or wrong, can be minimized, if the creator/inspirer publicly designate the official heir (institute/organization) and ask the followers to follow the leadership of only and only that heir, upfront before the physical departure, IMHO.
End of my 2c!
Thanks for your valuable view.
My view, nearly three and a half years after the Mahasamadhi of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, is that anointing a single individual as successor-head of his movement would not have worked out as people would have expected the single successor-head to even have Swami's awesome mystical powers! Instead Swami had set up a very strong organization with various top-members directly appointed by him, including the main trust of Puttaparthi, the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust. So it was clear to all concerned that the designated successor of the Puttaparthi setup was the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust body.
Despite that, some important people who were associated with the Puttaparthi based trust and institutions, moved away and formed their own Sathya Sai trusts and institutions. I guess they felt they could do better spiritual and service activities if they moved away and formed their own setup.
And I moved away to do my individual spiritual and service activities :). C'est la vie! (That's life!)
[Ravi: There was a further exchange with the correspondent but as that exchange touched upon some sensitive points I felt it was best not to share it on this blog.]
--- end extracts of exchanges with correspondents ---
Ravi: I would like to add that when I initiated my move away to do individual spiritual and service activities I had made a LinkedIn entry in my work experience titled, "Individual Service to Society", in Sept. 2011. Over the past few days I received congratulations from three of my LinkedIn contacts on my third work anniversary for "Individual Service to Society"! I did not realize that so much time has passed since I broke away on my own (though I continued to visit the previous Sathya Sai institution that I was associated with, for an average of just an hour a week to help out an M.Tech. student on his project work, till Feb./Mar. 2012 when I parted ways formally from it). I guess I am quite experienced now in individual service to society (operating out of one's home/flat), and may perhaps be in a position to advise others on the same :).