Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A query on three aspects of the Avatar's divinity: message, mission and mysticism; My response

[The note given below is from an anonymous correspondent giving a query that came up in his discussion with friends. He sought my view on it. I have yet to provide it. [03-Mar-2017 Minor update: My view is provided later on in this post. Perhaps that view was provided on Nov. 4th 2015 itself as an update to the post but this 'Minor update' was missed out then. end 03-Mar-2017 Minor update]

Meanwhile I thought of sharing it with others (social media friends/mail correspondents) so that those who are interested can also provide their views. Please NOTE THAT THIS IS NOT MY VIEW.]

We talk about three aspects of the Avatar's divinity: message, mission and mysticism.

Many scholars and orators have taken upon themselves to propagate Swami's message for the public and posterity in their own ways. Notable names include Prof. Anil Kumar, Prof G Venkataraman.

Some have dedicated themselves to His mission , and are into educare, medicare, socio-care - building new schools and hospitals, or keeping the seva organisations and central trust going.

However, since my student days I have seen/heard of devotees who were interested in the mystic side of Swami. They were keen to propagate "Sai Bhakthi" and spread His name by attracting and influencing public through mysticism . India being a land of Yogis, divinity is always equated with yogic powers and not just social work or philosophy. Particularly, foreigners always came for "a search in secret India". Interestingly, Prof VK Gokak always wrote and spoke about Swami's mysticism and even wrote in "Golden Age 1979/80" that mysticism is what sets Swami's education system apart.

Now Muddenahalli offers a trinity combo for spiritual seekers of sorts: BN has been a translator of Swami's discourses and has written books on Him; CS is known for building the Whitefield super hospital; and then you have MN adding the secret ingredient to the soup for the devotee's soul. And many lap up this combo package! It also seems to answer the age-old question whether the Sathya Sai System can be replicated by others elsewhere... like a Ramarajya without Rama.

Traditionally, disciples are always discouraged by their gurus to pursue mysticism, but are encouraged to carry forward the guru's message and mission. However, it is mystic touch that makes a missionary /messenger most accepted follower of his guru. Her social work notwithstanding, Vatican demanded a couple of miracles from Mother Theresa before declaring her a saint! As a diversion, two stalwarts of India can be studied in this respect/context: while Vivekananda propagated Hindu philosophy in English to the world audiences, Aurobindo made Hindu mysticism accessible and acceptable to the modern seekers all over the world. Note that Prof Gokak was a follower of Aurobindo, Prof Kasturi served in Vivekananda mission and Mr Indulal Shah was a well known Gandhian, and each was chosen by Swami to establish key institutions which needed their competencies.

A cautious devotee would also remember that eversince 4/11 happened, many tried to grab Baba's mystic glory and they include notorious names like Bala Sai Baba, Naga Sai Baba, some amma etc. Many foreigners too were keen to don the mantle of medium for the Lord. It is a saving grace that finally a sai student is being showcased as His medium. For, I am sure that, with the salt of Sai in his blood, he would never do anything that would disgrace his divine mother Sai.

Those of us who enjoyed Swami's Love and nothing else, don't feel shaky about someone stealing the message, mission or mysticism of Sai. For, in this melee, we are missing the true identity of Swami which is but His Universal Love and which image needs to be preserved and propagated for posterity. It is our folly to still look upon Him as "Man of Miracles" rather than as a Personification of Love. If anyone, anywhere, anytime can possess the infinite divine love that Swami radiated and distributed to one and all across time and space, he alone can be called a medium of Swami.

========= end Note from correspondent =================
Ravi S. Iyer: Here is my response to the above note:

The mysticism aspects of both Shirdi Sai and Sathya Sai were very big factors in drawing people to them. It is natural that writers and speakers on both Shirdi Sai and Sathya Sai would give some emphasis to the mystic side of Sai, as it attracts people to Sai. But it is one thing to write about mystic aspects of Sai and very much another to demonstrate mysticism oneself. I don't think any of the well known writers/speakers on Sathya Sai claimed to have mystical powers themselves (or mystical powers conferred on them by Sathya Sai). Specificially, Sri N. Kasturi, Prof. V.K. Gokak, Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju and Prof. G. Venkataraman, as far as I know, never claimed to have such mystical powers. Some miracles happening in their lives and being attributed to Swami's Grace & Leela are a different matter. By mystical powers I mean mind & memory reading, materialization powers etc.

The note states, "it is mystic touch that makes a missionary /messenger most accepted follower of his guru". I don't think that is true. Were Shirdi Sai's well known/accepted messengers/followers - Kakasaheb Dixit and Hemadpant mystics? No. Surely Sri N. Kasturi & Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju have to be viewed as highly accepted followers & messengers of Sathya Sai, and they were/are not mystics.

Was Swami Vivekananda considered to be a mystic? I do not know enough about this side of Swami Vivekananda as most of what I have heard about him relate to him being an exceptionally gifted teacher/messenger of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Hindu Dharma. Mother Teresa was not considered to be a mystic, was she? A Catholic saint need not be a mystic, I believe. Prayer to a (dead) revered Catholic person (name & form) resulting in verified miracles is, I believe, one of the requirements for canonization (being made a saint) in the Roman Catholic Church, and that is what seems to have been examined in Mother Teresa's case.

Aurobindo was, I believe, a mystic but then he was the founder-guru of his ashram & movement (like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Shirdi Sai & Sathya Sai). We are talking about well accepted followers being mystics here, and not the founder(s) itself, isn't it?

I accept that many, particularly foreigners, are attracted by mystical powers. But, IMHO, that does not mean that well accepted followers of Sathya Sai need to have mystical powers. Yes, most of the people coming to the ashram after Mahasamadhi will be those who are interested in experiencing the spiritual ambience of the founder's ashram and want to follow his teachings in the ashram and associated institutions that Sathya Sai founded. Those who primarily want to see & experience mystical powers will go to other living mystics. That, I think, has to be accepted as the change in the post-Mahasamadhi mission of Sathya Sai.

The note states, "It is a saving grace that finally a sai student is being showcased as His medium. For, I am sure that, with the salt of Sai in his blood, he would never do anything that would disgrace his divine mother Sai." I VEHEMENTLY DISAGREE with these statements. My considered view is that by CLAIMING to be a medium of Sai, the Sai student is DISGRACING his divine teacher/guru Sai who taught that he never speaks through a medium. We now know enough instances of how Sathya Sai, when in physical form, showed his utter disdain and even fury, at those people who claimed to be mediums of his or who told him about such claimed mediums. So surely a Sai student claiming to be a medium of Sai would cause immense pain and grief to teacher/guru Sai.

Further, the above statements make some GRANDIOSE and UNTRUTHFUL claims about Sai students/alumni. While even critics may accept that most Sai students/alumni are well behaved and stay away from matters which will disgrace Sai, it is very well known that there have been, and will continue to be, a few rotten apples among Sai students too. Who can forget the 1993 incident in this context? Surely the students concerned, no matter what their grievance (born out of jealousy as per Swami's discourse later on), should not have carried knives with them then. One also knows how arrogant some alumni (especially form boy types) in ashram administrative positions, were (and perhaps still are), resulting in people avoiding them. And there are quite a few cases where Sai students after having lost significant money in their business ventures, have acquired a reputation of doing unethical stuff later on.

I mean, putting each and every Sai student on some ethical high ground, simply because he is a Sai student, is being out of touch with reality. I say this on the basis of my experience as a former teacher in the Sai university. However, I repeat, most Sai students/alumni are well behaved and earn a good name for themselves and their divine mother Sai.

In this particular case of MN in Muddenahalli, it is my considered view that while he may be trapped under some self-imposed/self-invited spell and may be saying the truth as he views it/imagines it, the fact that he refuses to listen to GOOD COUNSEL from veteran teachers from the Sai university like Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju or former Vice-chancellor Prof. G. Venkataraman (both of whom have condemned the DRAMA in no uncertain terms), shows that he is one of the rotten apples of the Sai university. I mean, only he can see Swami for hours together on a daily basis due to his extraordinary purity, and all the rest of the Sai university and ashram fraternity including some very dedicated and well behaved/nice servitors who have served physical Swami for decades, cannot see this subtle Swami!!! Hostel teachers who have remained unmarried and dedicated decades of their life for Swami and may have even taught MN are not as pure as him and so cannot see subtle Swami! What utter foolishness! What a bl***y joke! I SHUDDER to think of what genuine Vedic pundits and genuine Hindu spiritual masters may say in PUBLIC in future about this foolishness, as that will involve the HOLY NAME of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

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