Saturday, October 10, 2015

The danger of hero worship leading to cult group(s) being formed in post-Mahasamadhi Sathya Sai movement

I recently saw a social media post (with accompanying pic) where a particular individual was being idolized as a "faithful servant" of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Now this individual had been associated with the (official orgn.) Sathya Sai educational mission for many decades, but broke away from the mother orgn. after Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's Mahasamadhi, to form a separate group/mission. Not only that, he claimed to be receiving dream messages & instructions from Swami (Sathya Sai Baba) for the next steps he should take to further his mission.

Till this point, I think the gentleman's actions were similar to inspired missionaries of various religions, in the past and in the present. They typically claim to get inner guidance on how to move forward with their mission from their chosen deity (Christ, Krishna, Shirdi Sai, Sathya Sai etc.).

But somewhere down the line, along with a so called 'communicator' individual, the role expanded to becoming a prophet kind-of duo, who claim to have the UNIQUE ABILITY to interact with a light body/subtle body of Sathya Sai which others cannot see (it is said that a few others too have seen it but they choose to not publicly document it; one cannot lend much value to undocumented reports; I am not talking of fleeting visions of Swami as that happens all over the world; I am talking of seeing this subtle body/light body for long periods of time like is claimed by the so called 'communicator'). This role seems to have been going on privately for some time with a chosen kind-of set of Sai devotees both from India and abroad. They perhaps got great success, in terms of following and funding, in their private role and went public from May 2014 onwards, after which they have got even more success (number of followers & funding)!

Once this duo claimed this UNIQUE ability to see subtle body/light body of Sathya Sai, and give Darshan, interviews and discourses through this DUO of that subtle body/light body (as others cannot see it), their actions have got into cult-leader like territory. The increase in following feeds the cult-leaders belief in their prophet-like/Avatar-like declarations including their UNIQUE ABILITY to communicate with light body/subtle body Sathya Sai. I mean, if so many people across the world start believing in what they say, then they would naturally be convinced, that what they say is the TRUTH!

And now, one of their followers has put up a pic. of the gentleman venerating him as a "faithful servant" of Sathya Sai (and somebody else). If that is simply a reaction to criticism of actions of that gentleman after Mahasamadhi from various quarters (including my criticism, once he endorsed the communicator act), then I think that intention is okay.

But even if the intention is okay, are we now going to see people of that group interpret it differently, and elevate this gentleman to cult-leader status? Or is he already a cult-leader to many? Note that the typical cult-leader has ENORMOUS POWER (and CONTROL) over his following. And the atmosphere around the cult-leader is such that any criticism of the cult-leader is dismissed without seeing whether it is genuine or not. Arguments will be made that one should feel with the heart and not use one's head as the heart is the way to God or something on those lines. Now such an atmosphere can naturally make the cult-leader start thinking that he is INFALLIBLE like some GREAT PROPHET being individually guided by God himself!

And, if one studies the history of cults, that is where it become DANGEROUS. Jim Jones, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Jones, was not an ordinary preacher, neither was David Koresh, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Koresh. Jim Jones achieved significant success as an integrationist (supporter of multi racial society of whites & blacks & others) in 60s and 70s USA, and was known for his 'rainbow family' (he and his wife adopted several children of at least partial non-Caucasian ancestry). More about him from his wiki:

By the early 1970s, Jones began deriding traditional Christianity as "fly away religion," rejecting the Bible as being a tool to oppress women and non-whites, and denouncing a "Sky God" who was no God at all. Jones wrote a booklet titled "The Letter Killeth," criticizing the King James Bible. Jones also began preaching that he was the reincarnation of Mahatma Gandhi, Father Divine, Jesus, Gautama Buddha and Vladimir Lenin. Former Temple member Hue Fortson, Jr. quoted Jones as saying, "What you need to believe in is what you can see ... If you see me as your friend, I'll be your friend. As you see me as your father, I'll be your father, for those of you that don't have a father ... If you see me as your savior, I'll be your savior. If you see me as your God, I'll be your God."

--- end wiki extract ---

From David Koresh's wiki:

David Koresh (born Vernon Wayne Howell; August 17, 1959 – April 19, 1993) was the American leader of the Branch Davidians religious sect, believing himself to be its final prophet.
...
Vernon Howell filed a petition in California State Superior Court in Pomona on May 15, 1990, to legally change his name "for publicity and business purposes" to David Koresh. On August 28, 1990, Judge Robert Martinez granted the petition. Koresh is the Persian name of Cyrus the Great (کوروش, Kurosh), a Persian king who is named a Messiah for freeing Jews during the Babylonian Captivity. His first name, David, symbolized a lineage directly to the biblical King David, from whom the new messiah would descend. By taking the name of David Koresh, he was "professing himself to be the spiritual descendant of King David, a messianic figure carrying out a divinely commissioned errand."
--- end wiki extract ---

Ravi: So Jim Jones claimed to be reincarnation of Jesus, and David Koresh claimed that he was the "final prophet".

Both these leaders eventually led their followers to TERRIBLE TRAGEDY. Jim Jones was responsible for the mass murder-suicide of over 900 of his followers in Nov. 1978 and the murder of serving US Congressman Leo Ryan (first such case of murder of a serving US Congressman, if I recall correctly), in Guyana [Jones had moved along with his followers from San Francisco, USA to a township they founded, called Jonestown in Guyana, in 1977]. David Koresh led his followers to a gun fight with USA law enforcement authorities, siege of his center, followed by burning of his center leading to the death of him and 79 others, in Waco, Texas, USA in 1993.

So some people playing prophet and God in the USA in the second half of the 20th century have turned out to be quite dangerous.

Now the Sathya Sai breakaway group led by the gentleman I referred earlier, in combination with the so called communicator, are playing Sathya Sai Avatar to an international following including many USA citizens (Americans). The so called subtle body/light body is what THEY and ONLY THEY CLAIM TO SEE AND INTERACT WITH - for the rest, the impact is that this duo is playing Sathya Sai Avatar role, giving interviews and discourses!

I earnestly pray to Kali Yuga Avatar, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, that this duo does not get carried away by the cult-worship of their followers, into becoming dangerous-to-the-following figures like Jim Jones and David Koresh. I also earnestly request Sathya Sai devotees who are associated with that following to be ever vigilant about this duo, especially in relation to unethical/illegal money related activities. Usually, in such cults, the problem starts with money. And that is usually related to following size. If the following size stops to grow or reduces, typically, the money coming in also reduces. So far, of course, I have not heard anything even remotely connected with violence as far as this group is concerned, and I congratulate both the duo and their following for this achievement.

I have written this post not for my personal benefit or out of any enmity towards others. I have written it primarily out of duty, born out of gratitude, to Kali Yuga Avatar, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, and the Sathya Sai fraternity/following. I earnestly hope and pray that this post of mine is not misunderstood by some Sathya Sai devotees associated with the breakaway group.

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