Last updated on 24th March 2015
I felt it appropriate to reproduce below the comment exchanges (as of 6th March 2015) on my post, Radio Sai article on recent Swami (Sathya Sai Baba) subtle form appearance controversy, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2014/07/radio-sai-article-on-recent-swami.html. I have made minor grammatical-type fixes to the copied comments below which do not really change the content.
Paul Kelly, February 26, 2015 at 6:18 AM
Narasimhamurthy wasn't presenting himself as an intermediary. He was simply sharing a dream.
Ravi S. Iyer, February 27, 2015 at 8:13 PM
@PaulKelly: Here are my two bits on what you wrote. I could be just plain wrong. So do take my words with a pinch of salt.
Well, some of Shri Narasimhamurthy's dreams did have instructions from Swami for others besides him (including at least one then senior administrator in the Sai university), and so in these matters he has acted as a medium in the past, and probably continues to do so today. That is where it gets tricky as Swami, while in physical form, clearly and unambiguously discouraged following such others' Swami dream instructions. Swami dream instructions received directly by an individual in his/her dream is a different matter, of course.
Here I must also mention that the current well known medium in Muddenahalli may not have had the following that he has now if Shri Narasimhamurthy had not openly showed support for the medium. Shri Narasimhamurthy then had (and surely continues to have in some circles even today) very, very high respect in the Sathya Sai student and alumni fraternity as well as among dedicated servitors in Swami's mission, and I believe he had earned that respect from his dedication and devotion to (physical form) Swami's mission over four to five decades. So when Shri Narasimhamurthy endorsed the current medium in Muddenahalli, this medium got more easily accepted by some Sai devotees, and rose to fame.
saiuvacha, March 2, 2015 at 1:14 AM
You raise lot of good points and being in the same situation few months back, I can fully understand what lot of Sai devotees are going through. By His grace, I was able to attend the Australian Retreat in Murwillumbah where lot of my doubts were put to rest. Do you really think people like Sri Narasimhamurthy (given 45 years of his life serving Him), Isaac Tigrett (donated more than 100 million US dollars), Sri Indulal Shah (whom Swami himself facilitated in Kulwant hall as a true devotee), Kumar Venkat etc. would stoop so low to raise money even for a noble cause? They are Tyagajivis as referred to by Bhagwan himself as the kind of sacrifices they have made in their lives, most people could not even match in many life times.
Do you really think everyone who believes in subtle form has suddenly gone mad or being scammed by some very clever con artists? Why don't you find out more or even visit Muddenahalli if possible instead of reading all the garbage on internet. If you want to read more about my experience, please visit my blog. I have laid out the reason for setting this blog in my about page.
Ravi S. Iyer, March 3, 2015 at 1:25 AM
@saiuvacha: Thanks for your views. I am very comfortable living in Puttaparthi and trying to follow the teachings that Swami had given while in physical form, and also trying to connect to the inner Swami. I don't see any need for me to visit Muddenahalli unless Swami directly tells me to do so via a dream or vision.
I should also mention that I am not in a position as of now to accept intermediaries/mediums related to Swami as, while in physical form, Swami very clearly advised devotees not to believe in mediums. The intermediaries in Muddenahalli may say that Swami has changed his advice now but I cannot accept that view from the intermediaries. If Swami comes in my dream or gives me a vision where He states that He has changed his advice regarding mediums then I will seriously consider it.
If others like you do believe that subtle Swami is interacting through intermediaries, I do not have any issues regarding that in general. Their life, their choice, is my view.
But I am quite perturbed by reports from reliable sources of people from Sathya Sai organization or general Sai devotees being approached by Muddenahalli group persons with messages of "Swami is calling you to Muddenahalli". That sounds like poaching to me. Why not leave it to Swami to directly interact with such persons and call them to Muddenahalli? I think that would be a more ethical approach to staffing their mission.
saiuvacha, March 3, 2015 at 5:38 PM
Thanks for publishing my comments. Many sites discussing this issue would not entertain any comments opposing their view hence I felt the need to share my experience with the subtle body in Australia by writing my own blog. I am glad that you are keeping an open mind and that is the need of the hour for all Sai devotees.
Probably it is more difficult for you living in Puttaparthi to accept the subtle body as you must be getting inundated daily with some or the other conflicting reports from different people. For me sitting in Australia, it is easier to be a neutral observer watching the events unfold from a distance. I visited Puttaparthi during Shivaratri in 2014 and stayed there for a week. My travel agent kept pushing me to go to Muddenahalli, saying that lot of miracles are happening there. I refused politely because to me, Swami was in Prashanthi and there was no need to go anywhere else. However all that changed when Swami's subtle body visit to Australia during new year's eve. Four of us decided to go from our centre with an open mind deciding to walk away if there was any talk of money or any attempt to start a new organisation. However no such thing happened and we came back convinced that Swami was present in the subtle body during the entire retreat and it was HE who spoke through Madhusudhan.
I am not sure who has been approached by whom, in Swami's name hence I can't comment on your last paragraph. But if I was called, I would definitely go and experience it myself. If I felt later that this whole thing is just a charade, I would say so openly and warn everyone about it. What one should not do is to have preconceived ideas about anything and dismiss the whole thing without even experiencing it.
No one can convince anyone about anything. As humans, we form our own opinions based on our own experiences. Just as Vivekananda said “Be an atheist if you want, but do not believe in anything unquestioningly.”
Ravi S. Iyer, March 4, 2015 at 4:15 AM
Though I live in Puttaparthi, I live outside the ashram, and rarely visit the ashram nowadays. So I write/blog quite independently of any fear or influence of Puttaparthi ashram system. But I must also say that I am a well-wisher of the Puttaparthi ashram system, and so may have some bias towards it.
I entirely agree with basing one's opinions on experience. If some people are having good experiences with Muddenahalli group in general, naturally they will want to continue to have those good experiences by associating with them. While I don't subscribe to subtle Swami based on teachings & directives of physical form Swami, if it works for you and others, who am I to judge or interfere?
My concerns are limited to expressing my view about what I see as unethical poaching of Sathya Sai organization members and Sai devotees by messages of "Swami is calling you to Muddenahalli" being delivered via mediums/intermediaries. However, you do not seem to find any ethical problems with such messages. Perhaps we should just politely agree to disagree on this matter and leave it at that.
Ravi S. Iyer, March 4, 2015 at 7:56 AM
Edited version of saiuvacha comment made on March 2, 2015 at 1:53 AM:
I just watched the video. Anil Kumar is (completely wrong) to suggest that Muddenahalli camp is collecting funds by organising overseas trips. Similar rumours were spread by the Sai Organisation in Australia as well but after attending the Australian Retreat, I can assure you that there was no talk of money or any kind of donations. In fact, all participants were fed 3 times free of cost and not even registration free was charged which is normally the case in such retreats. [Deleted sentence.] It is (Prof. Anil Kumar) who invented or subscribed to the theory of Solar vs Lunar calendar to justify Swami's untimely departure. [Deleted sentence.] Sorry Professor, You lost me when you came to Australia and when asked about Vedam chanting, gave a cunning answer about cat in the box story. Very different from when you translated Swami's discourse in 2006 during Ati Rudra Maha Yagna, where you thundered from the podium that it is Swami's wish that Vedam should be chanted by one and all irrespective of country, caste, colour, race or religion. Truth remains the same irrespective of time and place. You only told us so Professor. Peace. Sairam
Ravi S. Iyer, March 4, 2015 at 8:07 AM
Slightly edited version of original comment by Ravi S. Iyer on March 4, 2015 at 4:40 AM
The fund collection methods used by Muddenahalli group during overseas trips may be more subtle than registration fees for retreats. However, my view is that in this post-Mahasamadhi phase, fund collection for proposed service to man/society activities done in a transparent and accountable way, is OK. I mean, one needs funds to meet the expenses for service activities, especially large scale activities like free education institutions and free hospitals.
The problem for people like me is if and when subtle fund collection is done using claimed paranormal connections to subtle Swami, as while in physical form, Swami has very unambiguously warned devotees to stay away from such people.
Regarding your very strong criticism of Prof. Anil Kumar's view about Muddenahalli group fund collection from overseas trips: My view is that Prof. Anil Kumar Kamaraju would have made his comments based on information received from reliable sources. One should not forget that Prof. Anil Kumar Kamaraju is one of the most recognized and visible faces of the Sai fraternity over decades with huge level of contacts in the fraternity both in India and abroad. So his words, IMHO, should not be taken lightly.
Of course, Prof. Anil Kumar Kamaraju is also human and one may not agree with everything that he says. I do not know whether he invented the "theory of Solar vs Lunar calendar to justify Swami's untimely departure". But I do not subscribe to the lunar calendar theory. Like so many Sai devotees, I too was in shock for a few months when Swami gave up His physical body in April 2011 as I had no doubt whatsoever that He would be in His physical body till 96 years of (solar calendar) age. Today I have fully come to terms with His Mahasamadhi. I do not know why He gave up his body then. But neither is it very important for me to know why. He has given enough to us in the 85 years that He was amongst humanity. Now it is upto us to sincerely attempt to follow His teachings (even if we stray a little here and there, sometimes) and further His mission of spreading Sathya, Dharma, Shanti & Prema in the world. Whether we do that as a member of the official Sathya Sai organization or as a member of an organization unrelated to the Sathya Sai organization or in an individual capacity, is upto us and what we are comfortable with, IMHO.
[For the past three years I have not been associated with any Sathya Sai organization even though I live in outside-ashram Puttaparthi, and do my service activities of blogging on spirituality & religion, and on improving the practice of software development in Indian Computer Science and Information Technology academia, in an individual capacity. I should also mention that I decided to opt for individual capacity service as I felt that after Bhagavan's Mahasamadhi the attitude & behaviour of some administrators in the Sai university (where I was offering free service as a teacher of software lab. courses and as a technical consultant for student software projects) had changed significantly and was not to my liking. So I felt it was time for me to get a move on.
I continue to have very friendly relations with many people working in the various Sathya Sai institutions in Puttaparthi and also benefit from the Puttaparthi Sathya Sai institutions/activities like the General Hospital, Radio Sai, Sanathana Sarathi, Prashanti Reporter etc. So, while I currently am not a member of the Puttaparthi based Sathya Sai institutions, I am a strong supporter of them.]
Ravi S. Iyer, March 4, 2015 at 5:13 AM
@saiuvacha: I decided to put up an edited version of your last comment here as I have great respect for Prof. Anil Kumar Kamaraju. The edited comment (from saiuvacha) is as follows:
"My comments do sound a bit harsh on retrospect and you can edit/delete those offensive parts but the truth remains that either Prof Anil Kumar should put up the evidence that Muddenahalli camp is collecting money by deceit or (not talk about it). Swami does not require a letter of approval from (anybody) to do what he wants. Why is he trying to stop people from visiting Muddenahalli is beyond me as I see no one from Muddenahalli stopping anyone from going to Parthi. If he is afraid that people will stop coming to Parthi, then I can assure you that most people who visit Muddenahalli would also visit Puttaparthi. It is He who is seeing two where there is only one. Peace. Sairam" end-saiuvacha-edited-comment.
Ravi: @saiuvacha: I cannot edit your earlier blogger comment - only delete it (or provide an edited comment in my name like above). It's OK. We can leave it as it is. The first sentence of your comment above helps to make the debate/conversation more polite.
Ravi S. Iyer, March 4, 2015 at 8:14 AM
@saiuvacha: After some more thought on the matter I decided to put up an edited version of your earlier comment referencing Prof. Anil Kumar Kamaraju and the video with clips of his talk, and put up a slightly edited version of my response comment.
saiuvacha, March 4, 2015 at 1:51 PM
Sairam Ravi, You have done a good job in capturing the essence of my thoughts. Those who wish to interact with me, can always do so by commenting on my blog at https://saiuvacha.wordpress.com/
thanks again. May Swami bless us all.
Ravi S. Iyer, March 4, 2015 at 7:06 PM
Sairam saiuvacha, Thanks for your comments and co-operation with my editing of a couple of your comments. Amen to "May Swami bless us all".
Ravi S. Iyer, March 5, 2015 at 8:55 PM
Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju responded to an email where I shared most of my above comment exchange with saiuvacha. His response was as follows:
"VERY VERY GOOD !!!
A most dispassionate, unbiased, open and balanced stand that you have taken is commendable.
I fully agree with your views expressed on every single point.
MAY BABA BLESS YOU."
I responded to Prof. Anilkumar sir as follows:
"Thank you so much for your encouragement and kind words, Prof. Anil Kumar sir. Thank you for your invocation of Baba's blessings on me."
Ravi S. Iyer, March 11, 2015 at 1:47 AM
This youtube video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbCTvS89msQ, 5 min. 59 secs., has an audio clip of one of the most dedicated and physically very close servitors of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba during the last decades of His physical presence amongst humanity, brother Satyajit Salian.
Satyajit speaks about how Swami intensely rebuked a long-time devotee who was, shockingly, trying to almost convince (physical form) Swami that Swami was speaking through a 14 year old boy in Bangalore who claimed to be a medium of Swami. Swami's words (I presume that Swami would have spoken in Telugu only), as per Satyajit in this video (at 2:25):
"You have been here close to me for so many years. How could you even bring this up in my presence? Buddhi unda leda Neeku? (Don't you have any common sense?) Naaku em pattindi vaalu (vaadu) paadu shariramulo cheradaniki? (What business (need) do I have to enter into that dirty body?) If I want to talk to somebody I can figure out a way. Nenu matlaadaalante nenu matlaadutaanu. Nenu nerega matlaadutaanu. (If I need to speak to somebody, I can speak directly.)"
The audio clip of this youtube video may have been taken from the (original) video of brother Satyajit Salian's talk at Santa Ana, California, USA on 22nd February 2014, which was put up on saicast.org. At 34 min. 35 secs (the actual matter starts after 40 min. 05 secs) in (first of the three videos listed) here: http://www.saicast.org/2014/2014FebSatyajit.html, Satyajit starts talking about claimed mediums to Swami.
anonymous, March 22, 2015 at 8:48 PM
I have read this complete blog and wish to share few thoughts.
First of all I would like to congratulate Central trust Puttaparthi for efficiently continuing swami's mission to the best possible extent!
It is hard to satisfy everyone but they are trying their best to extend all facilities to public and Ashram is being run in a very efficient manner. Running a mission like Sathya Sai's is very (read infinite very) difficult task for central trust and it is bound to be have some frictions and criticism ....becoz after all the office bearers are human beings. Swami could run it with little finger because he is God and nothing is beyond his reach! It is very easy to criticise or find faults. Only if the critics run such Ashrams would they know of the heavy responsibilities day in and day out!
Reg. Muddenahalli, surely it is adding confusion to the Sai devotees especially the ones who have been recent or always had some element of doubt.
Mr.Narsimha murthy/Mr.Indulal Shah/MrTigreet are big well known names in Swami's circle .No doubt they have been for long associated with Swami ....But for Every devotee Swami /his teachings comes first and rest all are only secondary!
Swami has always been synonymous only with Puttaparthy Prashanthi Nilayam ...Swami has time and again told that He does not need any medium or intermediate person to speak to his devotees. The best part of Puttaparthy is there is no Hundi ...No charge for entry no special entrance tickets. Rich or poor easily can approach Bhagwan!
The real beauty of Sathya sai organisations is that Money is not collected in any form neither is begged for unless given voluntarily ..Swami has never asked for any money! If Tigrett had given donations .it is his conviction that Swami's mission deserves it !
Reg. Narasimha murthy/Indulal Shah/Isaac Tigrett endorsing Muddenahalli..Isaac has the dubious distinction of speaking unpleasant talks(read blatant lies) reg. Swami's activities with students. It is also perhaps Swami's leela that he made Isaac say such things so that Sai devotees are able to know the real person inside and don't trust anyone just becoz they are donors!
It is very unfortunate that these people chose to separate..It is a guess on the part of some long time devotees that perhaps Indulal/Tigrett etc wanted some important posts in Central trust and were not given perhaps due to their age or other factors and hence they chose to break apart!
If they say *Swami's calling* or mobilising donations then undoubtedly they are misusing Swami's name ..They might make umpteen proofs of dreams of talks subtle forms etc., Those might even have proofs//But if they do not follow Swami's warning of not to misuse his name in anyway ....then it is nothing worth!
This is nothing new ... Even during his life time he witnessed his image being tarnished through unpleasant talks /false claims ..After his Mahasamadhi media for some time spoke all blatant lies But slowly they understood the magnitude of Swami's mission and his self less service and now almost all media seem to speak in a revered manner! It seems Swami willingly does divine leelas and in the end all confusions are cleared themselves !!!Jai sai ram!
Ravi S. Iyer, March 22, 2015 at 9:38 PM
@anonymous: Thanks for your comment.
I think your words about some people of the rival group are rather strong. I decided to retain your comment in this form (without replacing it with an edited version cutting out those strong words) as I think this massive confusion churn being caused, especially in some countries outside India, among the Sathya Sai devotee fraternity needs to be resolved, one way or the other. [Recently the rival group had been to Malaysia with supposed subtle Swami through medium/communicator making very big statements. E.g. "I will unite the whole world. Narasimhamurthy told just now, the last few years of mine is only for uniting the whole world." Given the lack of unity in quite a few parts of the world today where people are losing lives in civil war or insurgency kind-of situations, such a statement is really a very, very big one.] Stifling some strong opinions may delay resolution of this confusion.
I have given my views below as points:
1) Mr. Tigrett has been a great patron of the Sathya Sai fraternity. One should not forget all the good he has done for the fraternity.
2) The dedication and contribution of both Shri Indulal Shah and Shri Narasimha Murthy to the Sathya Sai movement till Swami's Mahasamadhi is enormous. Later generations of Sai devotees (including me) have to be very grateful to them for the platform they helped to create for us to know about Swami and His teachings, and a satsangh where we could attempt to practice those teachings together and learn from each other. I think Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju has got it spot-on when he asked a leader of the rival group to come out with a public statement on why they have separated from us (the mother organization which they themselves played a vital role in creating and shaping). Perhaps if Shri Indulal Shah, Shri Narasimha Murthy and Mr. Issac Tigrett give a joint public statement on the matter, including any divine experiences they have had via the Muddenahalli medium/communicator with supposed subtle Swami at Muddenahalli, then we Sai devotees will have a better picture. So far, all these matters seem to have been discussed behind closed doors by top leaders of the official organization and the Muddenahalli group. Devotees don't know what is happening. I think if the Muddenahalli group veteran leaders mentioned above share directly with Sai devotees their view of the matter (by putting it out on the Internet, say), this confusion can abate. I think they cannot be silent any more - they owe it to the very organization they played such a vital role in creating and growing and which nurtured later generations of Sai devotees like me, to publicly tell us what is happening and advise what we completely confused Sai devotees should do in this matter.
3) I agree that overall the Central Trust at Puttaparthi must be congratulated for continuing to run the Puttaparthi setup in the absence of Bhagavan's physical form. You wrote, "Only if the critics run such Ashrams would they know of the heavy (responsibilities) day in and day out!" I entirely agree.
Ravi S. Iyer, March 23, 2015 at 10:38 PM
Slightly edited version of Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju's mail response to me on the above comment exchange with anonymous:
I am thankful and appreciate you for your valuable services in this area at this moment strongly reminding time and again the teachings of Bhagwan and thus help those that are confused and need clarity and timely reminder . It is here JNANA the Gospel of Sai/teachings of Swami support our faith so that it would be unwavering, steady and in a way develop CONSTANT INTEGRATED AWARENESS.
We may suggest every one to make copies with excerpts from Swamy's messages regarding this confusion and distribute emphasizing that He will never possess any one and that He does not need any medium and above all that He is totally against fund raising. If you need I can supply material. Let every one know authentically with references.
We may recommend devotees to think deep along these lines and take all possible measures to prevent people from further confusion dilemma and doubt.
We should think of UNITY based on purity leading to divinity.
Let people give up craze for positions in the organization.
Let every one sink differences like caste, region, language etc so that the world will know that we are a spiritual organization and not a social or political organization where these are common and expected.
In view of the present situation we need leaders who can spare more time who can work with vision in full understanding of the recent developments. More than resourceful they need to be more committed to mission of Sai.
Urgent need is to know the pulse/feelings/needs of devotees rather than meetings with pedantic thoughts and expressions.
It is essential to move freely & lovingly amongst devotees.
Come forward with innovative creative novel programs and activities in tune with the aspirations of youngsters/present generation.We should at the earliest come out of routine monotonous repetitive out dated programs .
Every speech /activity should reflect uniqueness of this AVATHAR and we should learn how to portray from Swamy's point of view whatever we say either upanishads or puranas or any spiritual subject.
We need committed people not political opportunists or non-committal, neutral, so called devotees that observe meaningless silence when there is a threat to the organization and mis-interpretation of His teachings.
Ravi S. Iyer, March 23, 2015 at 10:45 PM
Sairam Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju sir!
Thank you so much for your kind words and your thoughts on this matter.