Last updated on 5th Sept. 2015
The responses given below are from my Facebook post here: https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/1657172227832681.
Ms. Yaani Drucker is the wife of Mr. Al Drucker. They have been Sai devotees for long and have contributed significantly to Sai literature by their writings which is freely available here: http://www.atmapress.com/. It was a privilege for me to have an exchange with Ms. Yaani Drucker even though we disagree on so called Sukshama Baba i.e. Muddenahalli subtle body.
I did not want to trouble Ms. Yaani Drucker to ask for her approval to include her comments in this blog post below. So those who want to see her comments (and so the full conversation) may visit the above Facebook post. Only my part of the comment exchange (slightly edited) is given below.
Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Yaani Drucker: Thanks for your comment. I do respect your view but have a different view on the matter. As I was a teacher in the Sai university, Prasanthi Nilayam campus from Jan. 2003 to Mar. 2012, I have personally been through the TRAUMA that belief in so called subtle body of Swami based in Muddenahalli brought to some Sai university faculty (especially Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju) as the then vice-chancellor, Prof. Shashidhar Prasad, fully believed in it but the Central Trust did not. What a terrible CONFLICT OF INTEREST right in the institution which had the task of teaching Swami's students about Swami and His values!
It is utterly inconceivable not only to me, but many senior teachers (most of whom quit for one reason or the other), that Swami would create such CONFLICT in His own university. It is utterly inconceivable for me that the same Swami who openly declared that he never speaks through mediums and communicators, would change his stand after taking on a so called subtle body. Are you aware that Madhusudhan Naidu made claims of seeing and communicating with Swami some months or years prior to Swami's Mahasamadhi? We dug up the info. and know that that is the case. This matter is not publicised by the Muddenahalli group. Such medium activity while Swami was in physical form has been EXPRESSLY CONDEMNED by physical form Swami Himself on so many occasions.
Now people like me feel it is our duty born out of gratitude to both our beloved Lord, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and the Sathya Sai fraternity, to put out the truth as well as our views based on such truthful information we have gathered, regarding the claims made by Madhusudhan Naidu and strongly endorsed by Narasimhamurthy. If any material on my blog (or on my Facebook pages) is pointed out as faulty (has happened a few times) I correct it right away.
Madam, you may not be aware of how much division and heartache this has caused in some Sai centers in the world like in Singapore. Should we keep quiet while the Sai organization that Swami has created Himself and nurtured with so much care & attention, Himself, gets divided? My view is that we should not.
Freedom of religious belief is a vital freedom in many countries of the world including USA and India. I entirely respect the freedom of believers in so called subtle body of Muddenahalli and its so called chosen communicator, to follow their beliefs, within the law of the land. Today when one looks up discourse material about Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, we need to know that Muddenahalli group also puts out Madhusudhan Naidu's discourses in the name of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba!!! That makes it very confusing. Further, I think it may even be illegal, if challenged in an Indian court of law, for Madhusudhan Naidu to use the name of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba for his discourses! My suggestion is that he and others use a slightly different name (which is what Sathya Sai did even when he claimed that he is reincarnation of Shirdi Sai). I think they should use a name like Sukhsma Sai Baba as the speaker name for the discourses spoken by Madhusudhan Naidu. That would solve the confusion problem and bring it within the law of the land.
I further have no objection to Muddenahalli people creating a separate trust and platform for their activities. I have always been very appreciative of the Free Naya Raipur Heart hospital work that they have done. And if they are able to create and run similar free hospitals in USA states like Mississippi, it would be truly wonderful.
Let us not have a DUAL LOYALTY problem within the Sai organization. That creates horrific trauma. Employees and office bearers associated with Puttaparthi Sai orgn. should be loyal to it, and similarly employees and office bearers associated with Muddenahalli subtle body orgn. should be loyal to it. Then we can be respectful of each other without any fear of CONFLICT OF INTEREST.
At an individual level one can perhaps simply focus on Swami's teachings and try hard to practise them. Sukshma Baba or no Sukshma Baba is not really an issue. But from a viewpoint of the organization that Swami established as one vehicle for his mission of reinforcing Sathya, Dharma, Shanti & Prema in the world, I think it is not possible to simply ignore the claims of Sukshma Baba and to ignore the DUAL LOYALTY problem it has created in many Sai centers. I must also mention here that, as of now, I am not associated with any Sai orgn., and am writing in my individual capacity as a former Sai orgn. member and former teacher in the Sai university.
Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Dear Sister Yaani Drucker: Thanks for sharing your (and Al's) wonderful personal experience with Swami, which involved a lot of controversy (stirred by Baba, as you put it) but which worked out very well in the end. I do not doubt your personal experience and the controversy which was involved in it. I too have been involved in some personal matter where Baba's response was way different from what I had anticipated his response to be. By that time I was fully convinced that Baba knew all about whatever I was doing and Baba had given me enough gesture expressions to indicate that. But what I had not experienced was his DIVINE way of resolving the personal matter that I had got caught up in. That solidified my belief in physical form Swami (Baba) not only having the ability to know everything about me in an instant, but also having the DIVINE ability to resolve the matter in His awesome spiritual master way. And yes, my personal matter also did raise significant controversy with me being prepared to leave Puttaparthi at short notice if Swami/Baba indicated that I should do so and/or that I and my services there (Sai university, at that time) were not wanted anymore. However, that storm in my life eventually passed and I continued to stay on in Puttaparthi and the Sai university (till March 2012).
But the above deals with individual matters. My experience as a teacher in the Sai university was that Swami, in His human aspect, was very protective and very concerned about the Puttaparthi ashram institutions like the university and the hospitals. They were almost like His babies! Really! He could not bear to hear criticism or be told about anything unfortunate happening there. I recall that when two of his students, whom he liked a lot and who had finished their Ph.D.s and were expected to be pillars of their department in the Sai university, quit in quick succession (or perhaps together; I don't recall clearly), Swami was reported to have been very, very disappointed (in his human aspect). [BTW I don't blame the student-staff involved at all; I mean, they had their life situations and had put in a few years of service in the department (for very low salaries then, I must add), and felt that it is time to move on.]
So while I think that he would even go to the extent of engineering chaos in an individual devotee's life but which he would steer to a spiritually beneficial end, provided the devotee was able to withstand the test of faith, I don't think Swami would want to engineer chaos in His PET institutions, namely, the Sai schools, university and the Sai hospitals.
I do not accept your view that Swami has engineered all this drama of Sukshma Baba and chosen communicator Madhusudhan Naidu, and I publicly have written about my view that it is a FALSE CLAIM. But that is my view based on what I have analysed and studied. However, I am human with my limitations and do not, by any stretch of imagination, claim to be able to know or predict or understand the workings of our DIVINE MASTER, Kali Yuga Avatar, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. So, who knows, maybe my carefully analysed conclusion could be wrong, and you could be right, howsoever improbable and even "impossible" that seems to me now.
So while I do not accept your view about Sukshma Baba being Sathya Sai Baba in Sukshma form, I respect your right to hold that belief and to even write about that belief. But I hope you will also respect my right to write about, what I view as, flaws in that belief. Let the interested readers have both viewpoints and make an informed choice about this Sukshma Baba matter.
I have noted your view that enlightenment is what Baba wants for all of us and that He uses controversy towards that end. My comment is already pretty long, so I will not respond to that part but simply note it.
I wonder whether you could respond to two specific points I mentioned in my previous response:
a) Muddenahalli group should use the name of Sukshma Sai Baba (or similar) instead of Sathya Sai Baba for discourses (and interviews & darshan) involving so called chosen communicator Madhusudhan Naidu.
b) We should NOT have DUAL LOYALTY employees (usually paid but some honorary) and office bearers either in official Sai orgn. or in Sukshma Sai Baba orgn.
Thanks. Jai Sairam!
Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Thanks Sister Yaani Drucker for your view.
In my spiritual journey I prefer a blend of discrimination based on reading & intellect, and the heart. In particular, my journey to Sai was informed by writings on Swami, Sai discourses/teachings and my readings of Hindu scripture and other Hindu spiritual masters, as well as my heart and my personal (prayer, thought & gesture) interactions with Swami. I do think some readers of my blog now may have a similar spiritual journey approach and so may find my views to be useful to some extent to provide them information. You seem to have a different approach based primarily on your heart. I do respect your approach even if my approach is a different one.
Thanks for answering my a and b points. I have given below my understanding of your answer including its implications (as I see them):
a) For you personally it was clear that the discourses delivered through/by Madhusudhan Naidu were Sukshama Sai Baba's discourses. But you perhaps are not so concerned about future generations and posterity being confused whether these discourses were given by physical form Sathya Sai Baba or Sukshama Sai Baba. Essentially, as far as you are concerned, there is no issue with the name of Sathya Sai Baba being used for these discourses and other interactions. Noted also that you found them to be similar/same as physical form Sathya Sai Baba's discourses & other interactions.
b) It is okay from your point of view for an office bearer of official Sai orgn. or even paid employee of official Sai institution (which do not believe in Sukshma Sai Baba) to believe that Madhusudhan Naidu is speaking words of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. You don't see any conflict of interest here. BTW were you aware that while Bhagavan was in physical form, many official matters would get escalated to him by various employees at various levels, and office bearers of Sai orgn.? And then if Bhagavan decided to intervene, many times, Bhagavan's instructions were treated as the final say on the matter, overruling earlier decisions, if any.
I have the strong impression (along with some amount of hearsay information from reliable sources) that the former Vice-chancellor of the Sai university, Prof. Shashidhar Prasad, in the period from a few months after Mahasamadhi till Nov. 2014 when he stepped down, would have discussed official Sai university matters with Sukshama Sai Baba's communicator(s) [Narasimhamurthy & Madhusudhan Naidu]. He would have then treated instructions recieved from those communicators as Bhagavan's instructions and considered them as final say on the matter. I get the impression that you may view such probable behaviour of Shashidhar Prasad as being fine and not being unethical though the orgn. paying salaries and meeting other expenses of the Sai university, namely the Central Trust, did not believe in Sukshma Baba.
Regarding your view about serving one's enlightenment: Well, I think Swami's mission was/is multi-fold. He provided spiritual guidance for those seeking enlightenment (knowing who they really are). But he was also very concerned about reinforcing the values of Sathya, Dharma, Shanti and Prema in society. I think a large part of his Sai orgn. related mission was about reinforcing these values. Further, I think the world very badly needs reinforcement of such values. As of now, I am less interested in my "enlightenment" and more interested in reading and writing about spirituality and religion including, of course, about Swami. That has been my conscious choice, after Swami's Mahasamadhi.
You may be focused on enlightenment. I wish you all the very best.
About Unity: Well, we are quite a divided lot on this Sukshma Baba and chosen communicator matter, aren't we? To me that seems to be an inescapable fact. Over the past few months as I engaged in this matter on Facebook (which has a lot more interaction going on as compared to my blog) I first attempted to explore possibilities for Unity. Now I have almost given up. As I see it Unity in the Sai mission can now be achieved by:
a) All Sai devotees, including everybody in Prasanthi Nilayam ashram system, accepting Sukshma Baba and chosen communicator Madhusudhan Naidu. That seems highly improbable to me.
b) Sukshma Baba devotees giving up Sukshma Baba and chosen communicator Madhusudhan Naidu. That seems quite improbable to me, as of now at least.
Thank you for your loving Sairams and I convey the same loving Sairams to you.
Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Thanks for your response, sister. Don't want to elongate the conversation and so will skip the parts where I have already given my view. You wrote, "If you are wrong, and MDH is authentic, then maybe you will feel very sad that you took so much effort to negate." I don't think so. As I went out of my way to keep an open mind on this matter. You see, my former students and others asked me about it after it became publicised bigtime after May 2014. I saw it as my duty to investigate the matter based on information available to me and put out my views. I see the probability of me being proved wrong on so called chosen communicator Madhusudhan Naidu and so called subtle body/Sukshma Baba being Sri Sathya Sai Baba, as very, very remote (almost impossible).
So, even if that very, very remote possibility turns out to become a reality, and my investigations and conclusions are proved wrong, my conscience will be clear as I have been following PUBLIC teachings and instructions of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in this regard. In the almost impossible case, of Sukshma Baba really being Sathya Sai Baba, I am sure Swami will understand me following his physical form instructions in this regard. I mean, if he changes his instructions after becoming Sukshma Baba, I cannot be held guilty. So I certainly will not feel sad that I negated Sukshma Baba being Sathya Sai Baba. I will ask Swami why did you not appear to Prasanthi Nilayam leaders like Shri Chakravarthi, Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju and Prof. G. Venkarataman, and tell them that you are now Sukshma Baba. I will further ask him why he did not appear to brother Satyajit and so many other student-staff who have sacrificed material worldly careers to serve Him at close quarters when he was in physical form. It is my DIRECT experience with Bhagavan that he allowed sincere devotees (even those with some flaws here & there, like me) to question him in such fashion. He was the teacher and he gave the right to his sincere students to request (even demand, at times) answers of him in such confusing matters. Truly unique and divine was the relationship between Bhagavan in physical form and his sincere devotee. Jai Sairam!
Over email a correspondent wrote (and was OK with me sharing it publicly):
Dear Ravi, I read the full conversation on the Facebook post! it is amazing to see how wonderfully you are keeping your mental balance! It is remarkable that you are keeping your conscience very clear on this matter all the way thus far, and gratefully doing all you can do to fulfill your obligation to Him! I believe, He will provide you the necessary inner strength to carry this on!
I wrote back to him over email (slightly edited):
Thank you so much for your words of encouragement, dear [name-snipped]. They really mean a lot to me. Engaging in this debate to uncover the truth (Sathyanveshan) can be very stressful and disturbing mentally, and is quite a lonesome affair. The lady concerned and her husband are very big names in the Sai fraternity and so only a few people are willing to comment opposing her views.
Yaani Drucker: I admire and applaud your "only ONE passionate want" to (work towards) "the end of suffering on the planet". I wish you all the very best in your efforts towards that end in either your personal capacity or as part of the Sukshma Sai Baba group or any other group. I have also got to say that I am sure that Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi would be very happy with efforts made by you towards that end. I pray that Bhagavan showers His Grace on you towards that end.
[Ravi: I felt it appropriate to share the small comment response of Ms. Drucker to the above comment.]
Yaani Drucker wrote:
Thank you dear brother Ravi, your comments warm my heart and act as a healing balm. Loving Sai Ram and sincere best wishes. In our hearts we are All already one in Sai. I feel this with you, even though we may have differing opinions. Our mutual respect is in tact. That is maturity, and I pray that prevail in all our hearts. Purity ~ Unity ~ Divinity [heart emoticon] Jai Sai Ram!
[Ravi: I Facebook-liked the above comment.]