Last updated on 25th May 2016
I was given to understand that some staff/teachers of a Prasanthi Nilayam educational institution visited Muddenahalli group at Kodaikanal, recently. I felt it to be my duty to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, my beloved Gurudev, to publicly express my criticism of such a visit by staff who, whether paid or honorary, are associated with Prasanthi Nilayam (PN) educational institutions. If the words I have written below seem harsh I am sorry about it. But I think the words have to be said. Enough is enough!
If teachers/staff of such PN institutions go to Muddenahalli group, what sort of signal will they be sending to students as well as Sai devotees associated with official Sai orgn.? Teachers are looked up as role models not only by students in Sai system but by Sai devotees in general. In their public life, I think Sai educational institutions' teachers have to live up to some standards of ethical behaviour. Private life is a different matter; my view is that people including Sai devotees should NOT interfere in or comment on the private life of such teachers. The Kodaikanal trip of Muddenahalli group is a public event. Staff of Prasanthi Nilayam institutions have been given explicit instructions not to associate with Muddenahalli group. So how can teachers/staff of a PN educational institution attend a public function of Muddenahalli group in Kodaikanal? Surely, that is an act of gross indiscipline and has to be called out as unethical behaviour.
I am given to understand that a senior functionary of PN has expressed his strong displeasure with some of the concerned teachers/staff.
My view is that such persons should quit Prasanthi Nilayam educational institutions, whether they are paid or honorary (with some honorarium or free service), and happily join, associate with and stay with Muddenahalli group. The important thing is that there should be no conflict of interest and no atmosphere of suspicion of dual-loyalty in Prasanthi Nilayam institutions.
As I say often to people in Puttaparthi, the situation now is like Prasanthi Nilayam institutions being Tata company and Muddenahalli group being Birla company, with Tata company competing with Birla company! If somebody is with Tata company, how can that person join in functions in Birla company? Will such persons not immediately be suspected of disloyalty (or even betrayal), and face strong disciplinary action from Tata company? Perhaps the persons may say that they are not indulging in any disloyalty. But, in these super sensitive matters, they have to behave in public in such a manner so as to be completely above suspicion.
The great disappointment in the division between Puttaparthi and Muddenhalli is that some elder teachers including some administrators of PN educational institutions, who we (includes me, a former relatively younger teacher in Prasanthi Nilayam campus, Sai university/SSSIHL) looked up to for honest and ethical behaviour (Sathya & Dharma), have themselves indulged in such MASSIVE conflict of interest (Asathya & Adharma)!
A comment in the associated Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/1745268159023087
Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
One view could be that the staff/teachers are free to go wherever they want during their vacation time. Further, such staff/teachers are pillars of the PN educational institution and have been personally trained by Swami. If they leave, the educational institution will suffer greatly.
Before I give my stand on this viewpoint, I would like to say that I am not a perfect Sathya & Dharma person. I do have my flaws but try hard to follow Sathya & Dharma. So whatever I have written below could have mistakes. Readers are not only welcome, but even encouraged, to be critical of my comments.
Prasanthi Nilayam heads have been very unambiguous in their rejection of the claims of the Muddenahalli group, and specific instructions were given to all staff in Prasanthi Nilayam institutions not to associate with Muddenahalli group.
The Sathya & Dharma way for the staff/teachers of the PN educational institution who visited Muddenahalli group in Kodaikanal recently, to have gone about this visit, in my humble opinion, could have been as follows:
1) As they KNEW that official instructions had been issued against associating with Muddenahalli group, they should have met concerned authorities in PN beforehand, and conveyed their wish to visit Muddenahalli group during their vacation period.
2) If they had done that I presume that the concerned PN authorities would have denied them permission. In which case they could have stated that such restrictions are unacceptable to them and negotiated with them for permission for the visit. In the worst case scenario they could have chosen to quit the PN educational institution after which they would have been free of this restriction, and so could have visited and associated with Muddenahalli group in a complete Sathya & Dharma way.
But these gentlemen have not followed such a procedure. Instead they chose to FLOUT the strict instructions of the PN authorities by visiting Muddenahalli group in Kodaikanal. I don't think I will be wrong if I say that they INSULTED the PN authorities by doing so. Further, they may hold the view that PN authorities will not have the guts/courage to take any action against them as they are the pillars of the educational institution.
My stand is that this matter of belief in Muddenahalli group claims being held by some teachers in PN educational institutions is a very serious conflict of interest given the great DIVISVE problems due to Muddenahalli group claims & activities that are seriously affecting the Sathya Sai movement today worldwide. Students interact very closely with teachers in PN educational institutions and such matters will get known to the students. That will create great confusion in the minds of students as well as in the minds of fellow teachers/staff of the educational institution. So I think we have to take a tough approach to solve the problem here by strongly advising such teachers/staff in PN educational institutions to happily join Muddenahalli group and contribute to Bhagavan's mission there.
Any negative impact that will be felt by some teachers/staff leaving PN educational institutions to join Muddenahalli group will be transient. Already a few former teachers/staff from Sathya Sai university as well as other PN institutions are associated with Muddenahalli group. PN system continues to function even without these persons. So I am quite sure that even if some teacher/staff pillars of a PN educational institution who believe in Muddenahalli group, quit and move to Muddenahalli group, it will be a transient problem which will be overcome in a short period of time by the PN educational institution.
My comment on a share of the above mentioned Facebook post here:
Don't know about whether they are all non-alumni teachers or not. But at least a couple of the teachers are veterans with lots of interactions with Bhagavan in physical form, I believe. So they are far more esteemed than alumni-teachers.
I wish the teachers well and hope things work out for them in a Sathya & Dharma way. Their service to Bhagavan's educational mission has been great, no doubt. But now they need to make up their minds, one way or the other. One foot in Prasanthi Nilayam system and another in Muddenahalli group is not good for them, or for Prasanthi Nilayam system.
I repeat that I wish the teachers well. I also pray to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba to work out a solution on the lines of Sathya & Dharma, in the case of these teachers of PN educational system who seem to have strong belief in Muddenahalli group claims. It would be very tough on the senior functionaries of Prasanthi Nilayam to deal with this kind of matter. So I wish the senior functionaries all the best. But we need some clear solution now. Instructions from Prasanthi Nilayam heads which prohibit staff from visiting Muddenahalli group MUST BE TREATED SERIOUSLY by all staff of Prasanthi Nilayam, especialy teachers who are supposed to be role models for students (and alumni and Sai devotees in general).
If the HEADQUARTERS of Sathya Sai movement worldwide, namely Prasanthi Nilayam, is not able to enforce obedience of its instructions among its staff in this SERIOUS DIVISIVE issue of Muddenahalli group, one can imagine the plight of Sathya Sai centers and organization worldwide. So my view is that something has to be done in this case which is JUST (Dharmic), and sends out a clear message to Sathya Sai fraternity about how seriously Prasanthi Nilayam heads view such DIVISIVE Muddenahalli group matters.