Last updated on 4th Sept. 2016
Note that the answers that I have given below are my view of the matter. Others may hold a different view. I am not saying that I am right and others are wrong. I simply wanted to record my view on these questions, as of now. ... Who knows? Perhaps I am wrong on some points and others are right. After all, I do have my fair share of human flaws and so may not be viewing all aspects of the matter correctly.
Q1) Why am I not staying completely away from writing on Muddenahalli group false belief?
A1) I do my social media writing and commenting work related to this Muddenahalli group matter out of love and concern for my Sai devotee fraternity. I have some regular readers and there are some fellow writers and commenters on this topic as well. We have a bond amongst us and are like a virtual family on social media. Naturally, some members of this virtual family on social media wanted to know why I have decided to tone down my criticism, and wanted clarity on my stand now. I provided that. Now I think it will be clear to most, if not all, of my readers and fellow writers & commenters, where I stand as a writer on this topic now.
BTW I only agreed to tone down the criticism and not stop it, in my phone conversation with my elder siser. I had not decided to move away from it.
It is out of my own free choice that I am continuing to play the role of social media writer of toned down criticism of Muddenahalli group false belief.
Q2) Isn't it unfortunate that after years of spiritual pursuit I am not at peace and not happy?
A2) In general, there is no question that I was far more peaceful and happy prior to the Mahasamadhi of Bhagavan (April 2011). May 2011 to June 2012 was severely stressful for me which impacted my health quite a bit. Then I switched off from Sai university and was able to get into a new life as Puttaparthi townsman and blogger from around July 2012 to March 2015. That was quite peaceful and happy, though there was fair degree of concern about the direction in which the ashram systems, in particular the university, were going. However, I was not blogging about it and so it was not so much of an issue. I was blogging about Indian Computer Science & Information Technology academic reform stuff but that was not that stressful.
From March 2015 as I started blogging about these burning & controversial issues related to Muddenahalli group which is a serious divisive threat to Sathya Sai movement worldwide, my life surely has changed. It is less peaceful, less serene, less happy than even the period from July 2012 to March 2015.
But my activity from March 2015 making me get into this unhappiness was a conscious choice. I could not stand and watch the damage being done to the Sathya Sai movement by a group about whom we (some others who are active in this area and I) had gathered a lot of information and know that they are on the wrong track. For me, the issue was whether I should be like Bheeshma and Dronacharya sitting and watching in the court of Duryodhana as on Duryodhana's order, Dushasana tried to disrobe Draupadi [For details see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draupadi#The_game_of_dice]. I did not want to do that. Instead I wanted to take inspiration from Jatayu who perhaps knew that he was no match to the mighty Ravana and perhaps knew that he would be killed by Ravana in his attempt to save Sita. Jatayu lost his life but earned the grace of Rama (he was given water on his deathbed by Rama, if I recall correctly, which grace even Rama's father Dasaratha did not get). [For more see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jatayu#Mythology_of_Jatayu.]
For Dharma in this vital matter of Muddenahalli group belief divisive impact on Sathya Sai movement, I willing to lay down my life. No question about it whatsoever. But I will follow the law of the land (India) in my quest to uphold Dharma in this matter. I have conveyed this matter in a similar way to my elder sister too when she had called me in this regard. So I am not scared at all by any legal or police threats against me for these writings. If required, I am certainly willing to go to jail, though my view is that my writings on Muddenahalli group false belief fall within the freedom of speech laws of India and so any legal or police complaint against me for these writings, will either not be entertained by the authorities (police/court) or, if the matter gets heard in a court it will be dismissed in court.
Q3) Do I overreact to Internet troll(s) idiotic insults and remarks about me? Has my ego got hurt by an idiot's opinion on a retired software professional (me) getting involved in academics and teaching, and have I lost sight of the fact that I got involved in that activity in the first place in a spirit of humbly and lovingly serving mankind/society (doing Manava Seva) as directed by my Guru, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba?
A3) My initial reactions to --name-snipped-- (the troll attacking me) was to ignore him. I blocked him on Facebook (which is a great way to keep somebody out of one's Facebook life). But I kept getting private messages from other Facebook friends about what --name-snipped-- had said about me!!! Initially I viewed such private messages as an irritation that had to be brushed off.
Later I realized that it was a false propaganda kind of situation that one sees in the political discourse of democracies. Very unfortunately, quite a few Sai devotee Facebook friends were placing a lot of value to the falsehood that --name-snipped-- was throwing at me. And one key aspect that --name-snipped-- had targeted was my status at the Sai university as a teacher. You see, Sathya Sai Baba gave tremendous importance to teachers of his university. Most of the Sai fraternity know about that.
So after his physical body demise, naturally, the fraternity looked up to teachers of the Sai university, at least partly, to guide the movement forward in terms of spiritual vision. The Muddenahalli (MDH) splinter group's top leader is a long time close servitor of Sathya Sai and a former warden of the Sai university, Shri B.N. Narasimhamurthy. The sitting vice-chancellor then (till Nov. 2014), Prof. Sashidhara Prasad, of the Sai university also supported the former warden. That was vital top level Sai university support for the splinter group.
As I started publicly challenging Muddenahalli group, mentioning that I had been a former teacher in the Sai university, my words were given some importance because of me stating that I had been a Sai university teacher. --name-snipped-- attacked me on that trying to paint me as a very junior person who was not teaching faculty. You see, some Sai devotees are more followers of leaders than deep thinkers and deep analysts themselves. So when I said I am a former teacher of the Sai university, some Sai devotees would have automatically given some importance to my words.
The question arises whether there were other Sai university teachers (faculty) who spoke out publicly against Muddenahalli group belief in this communicator. Very unfortunately, barring Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju (who was forced out of SSSIHL in 2012 sometime and so perhaps has to be viewed as a former Sai university faculty), NOT A SINGLE senior and current Sai university teacher/faculty, to the best of my knowledge, has spoken publicly against Muddenahalli group belief in this chosen communicator! One or two junior teachers seem to have written against it on their Facebook pages (after Sashidhara Prasad quit as VC in Nov. 2014; they would have been TERRIFIED to do so when he was sitting in the VC chair). But what one would expect is that senior Sai university faculty holding key positions in the university like Registrar, Controller of Examinations, Director campuses, HODs etc. would make a clear public statement condemning Muddenahalli group belief in so called communicator as that went against teachings of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. One can understand them not doing so till Nov. 2014 as Sashidhara Prasad was VC and they would have been TERRIFIED of him. But they should have done so after Nov. 2014. Note that many of these positions have been held by Sai university alumni, especially after Mahasamadhi.
Very tragically, that has not happened yet, as far as I know. This, in my considered view, has to be viewed as a BIG SPIRITUAL FAILURE of the Sai university even after the traitor vice-chancellor, Sashidhara Prasad, stepped down as vice-chancellor in Nov. 2014. I mean, the Sai university is a DIVINE university set up by Bhagavan and not a mere UGC deemed university. These senior office bearers of the DIVINE Sai university, in my considered opinion, have FAILED in their duty to Bhagavan, by not publicly condemning the actions of the so called communicator, Madhusudan Rao Naidu, who is an alumnus of Sai university.
[Note that the current vice-chancellor of the Sai university, Prof. K.B.R. Varma, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalidhindi_B._R._Varma, who replaced Prof. Sashidhara Prasad in Nov. 2014, does not seem to have been a devotee of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba (and perhaps may still not be a devotee). Perhaps he was brought in from a pure UGC academics perspective. So one cannot expect Prof. Varma to comment about the communicator claim of Madhusudan Rao Naidu.]
So my mentioning that I am a former teacher of the Sai university made me the main Sai university former teacher who is criticizing Muddenahalli group belief in this communicator guy. Even Anilkumar Kamaraju sir was not speaking that much on this matter as I have written. Therefore I became a key target for ---name-snipped-- to attack and paint as a very junior staff in the Sai university implying that my words should not be paid much attention to.
Later I exposed the former vice-chancellor's (Sashidhara Prasad's) betrayal (while he was sitting vice-chancellor of the Sai university) of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust (SSSCT) as SSSCT (barring one trustee who moved to the MDH camp) did not accept MDH group claims of initially Shri B.N. Narasimamurthy being a kind-of successor of Sathya Sai, getting dream instructions from Sathya Sai, and later the medium/communicator, Madhusduan Rao Naidu supported/perhaps mentored by Narasimhamurthy, being a kind-of successor of Sathya Sai.
That may have had some negative impact on the sway of Narasimhamurthy, Madhusudan Rao Naidu and Sashidhara Prasad on some of the splinter group following, especially the foreign Sai devotees. [By then I had acquired a lot of Western readers - USA, Europe and Australia.]
So --name-snipped-- was trying to portray me as "crooked Ravi" paid by the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust for these writings against MDH group belief, and as a notorious hatemonger for my whistle-blowing writings regarding my designation issue and opposition from HOD (HOD getting backed eventually by vice-chancellor, Sashidhara Prasad) to my Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Vahini related work in the Sai university, and as somebody who was only a Lab. assistant (according to him) and that I was not suited to be a teacher in the Sai university as I was not even a post graduate let alone PhD. Very unfortunately, --name-snipped--'s false propaganda and nasty political attacks on me, were having some effect in the Sai devotee community on social media!!! This was quite a learning and an unpleasant experience for me.
It is my informal study of the current USA presidential election campaigns that helped me understand what's happening. In particular, references that were made during these campaigns to USA President Barrack Obama's birther controversy (in previous USA presidential election campaign(s)), helped me figure things out. No matter how outrageous the birther conspiracy claims were, it gained currency among some sections of the USA citizenry!!! Obama eventually had to produce some long form birth certificate.
I realized that I have to respond to --name-snipped--'s false propaganda against me by putting up evidence showing that his propaganda is false. Therefore I changed my original approach of ignoring him, to busting his lies about me by showing appropriate evidence. This approach worked! Especially the snapshots of the vice-chancellor's mail to me, the HOD's mail to me asking me to stop working on the education portal project (Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Vahini), my SSSIHL (Sai university) Identity cards showing my designation as Honorary Staff, Honorary Faculty and Visiting Faculty, even if I removed the photo part of it ...
And as I was putting up such evidence, I also realized that I am recording all this information for future readers who want to know about my journey in a spiritual ashram system - the good, the bad and the ugly parts of it. So there was an angle of a chronicler too. I do view myself now as, at least in part, a chronicler of events in my spiritual journey in general, and of what I heard and saw of Sathya Sai.
Q4) Am I not questioning other people's faith and am I not being unwilling to accept their conscious choice? Isn't that a very unfair thing to do?
A4) Let me give my stand in short wrt the splinter group's belief.
My stand is that the belief in a so called chosen communicator (medium) who can see, hear and talk with an invisible and inaudible to others so called subtle body of Sathya Sai Baba based in Muddenahalli, is a false belief.
I have arrived at that conclusion by careful study of this communicator's public "discourses" (available on the Net) and other public remarks, and comparison of them with the public discourses and public remarks of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. I have documented the key differences that I found between these two which led me to my conclusion that the communicator is NOT saying the words of Sri Sathya Sai Baba who lived, spoke and interacted with devotees and the public, in general, in Puttaparthi.
So my false belief statement is focused on the above. I do not object to other parts of their belief. Neither do I object to their service activities. In fact, I have publicly praised their service activities. Further, I write and comment on my blog and Facebook pages, and those of fellow writers writing against Muddenahalli group belief. I DO NOT impose my views on Facebook pages and blogs of Muddenahalli group persons. So I am not being intrusive into Muddenahalli group supporters' online world. I do not disturb them in any way either in their online world or in the real physical world from following their belief in so called chosen communicator. What --name-snipped-- is trying to do is to stop me from criticising their belief in their medium/communicator on my Facebook pages and blog, and in my comments on social media pages of fellow writers writing against Muddenahalli group belief!!!
To drive the point home to my dear readers about why I write against this false belief in Muddenahalli communicator/medium, let us take an example of some departed (dead) relative of yours (my dear readers' departed relative). Now let us presume that some medium starts claiming that your departed relative is communicating through him and then starts attracting members of your family towards him. Then the medium goes on to give instructions/orders to them like the departed relative used to to give, and your family members start obeying him!!! What will you do? Will you not try to first do some comparison between what the medium is saying and what your departed relative used to say? And if there are important differences, will you not tell your family members about it? And then warn them to stay away from the medium by saying that his claim is a false claim? I think you, dear reader, would do that. That's exactly what I am doing except that the family here is a large Sathya Sai devotee family and the departed (at physical body level) relative is my Guru, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Q5) Is all this not having a negative effect on me as a person? Am I not missing the point about love, life, humanity ...? Should I not get out of Puttaparthi and spend time with my family (in Mumbai & in Dombivli near Mumbai) so that I can forget about all this?
A5) I am in Jatayu mode now. Ready to give up even my life, if required, in publishing "toned down" writings exposing Muddenahalli group false belief (about Madhusudan Rao Naidu being so called communicator of so called subtle body of Sathya Sai Baba).
Quite a few people in Puttaparthi have expressed their appreciation to me, mostly in private, a few in public, for the courage I have shown in writing the truth about Muddenahalli false belief (they use stronger words like crooks, scamsters and frauds). Most people in Prasanthi Nilayam ashram system in Puttaparthi know the reality that Madhusudan Rao Naidu's communicator claims are false but among those of them that do write publicly, most of them seem to be afraid to say so in public writings of theirs (say on Facebook). I think they want to play safe and not earn the enmity of Muddenahalli splinter group. I can very well understand that at a human level/worldly reality level as I certainly have made some enemies in Muddenahalli splinter group due to my writings exposing their false belief in the so called communicator Madhusudan Rao Naidu.
I should also say that, in outside-ashram Puttaparthi, I have earned some respect from some notable locals (e.g. Telugu media, some builders, political party activists), most of whom are Telugu literate but not so fluent in English, for these writings of mine. Some of these locals who are English literate seem to read my stuff on Muddenahalli group (on Facebook) and may be telling other locals about it. Outside-ashram Puttaparthi town community is a very small one and the notable locals (usually living here for decades) get to know about what is going on in the small outside-ashram Puttaparthi town pretty fast. So it is not as if I am going through some hell now. But it is a kind of battle, and an unpleasant battle. After all, the Muddenahalli group medium/communicator, Madhusudan Rao Naidu, is the elder brother of a former student and later junior faculty colleague of mine with whom I was quite friendly. Then there are elders who I respected very much who now are in the splinter group. So it is very unpleasant to have to write critically about their belief in this communicator guy, and spoil my relations with them. However, it is a battle for doing the right thing (as I see it), for Dharma (as I see it). It is quite invigorating to fight for Dharma, within the laws of the land. That's my view now.
In the associated Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/1785397391676830, a Facebook user (based in Puttaparthi) wrote (slightly edited) on private Facebook chat and was OK with public sharing:
Sairam Anna, I read your post today. Good, you wrote frankly. What you say is right... prior to Swami's Mahasamadhi, we all had Peace. Since Swami is not physically present, politics, falsehood, targeting the innocent have increased because they feel nobody is there to question them. Many have gone through this phase. And why should you shift to Bombay/Mumbai!! Let the Ravanas flee. Take Care. BYE.
I (Ravi) responded:
Thanks for your very supportive message.