Last updated on 28th Sept. 2016
Given below is a comment I made on Mr. Ganti's Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/notes/vr-ganti/is-prashanthi-nilayam-losing-alebit-slowly-its-glory/10207607441408766.
I live in outside ashram Puttaparthi and am not associated with any Sai institution in Puttaparthi (or elsewhere) since March 2012. Prior to that I was offering free service in the Sai university from Jan. 2003 to Mar. 2012 with designations of Honorary Staff, Honorary Faculty and Visiting Faculty.
Mr. Ganti writes, "I am told that the entire town of PUTTAPARTHI is gripped by FEAR and people are, just not only hesitant but are afraid to voice their views. When will PARTHI VASIYO (residents of Parthi) get freedom is the question I have."
I am NOT gripped by FEAR!!! Mr. Ganti seems to live in some imaginary world of his when he uses such words.
However, I do not typically publicly criticize Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust or Swami family members. This is how it was when I was serving in the Sai university in Bhagavan's physical presence over eight years, and I would like to continue to keep that approach now too. I think such an approach has helped me in my spiritual journey. I have not come to Puttaparthi to become an investigative journalist exposing any alleged financial corruption and crime!!! I have come to Puttaparthi for spiritual progress.
Does that mean I am gripped by FEAR!!! When I walk on the streets of Puttaparthi do I worry that somebody will physically attack me or rob me? Not at all! In fact, I find that even outside ashram Puttaparthi is a largely peaceful and safe town for people like me. I am very happy (with exception of Muddenahalli issue and related unhappiness, at times) and NOT FEARFUL in my life in outside ashram Puttaparthi town. It is a very pleasant life that I lead and I am thankful to the police, govt. authorities as well as Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust for their contributions to a safe and peaceful outside ashram Puttaparthi town with good services of water and free medical care through Bhagavan's hospitals. It is also my considered view, in the years after Mahasamadhi, that Shri R.J. Rathnakar in his role as an important local leader of outside ashram Puttaparthi town has contributed significantly to ensuring that Sai devotees including foreign Sai devotees visiting and living in outside ashram Puttaparthi are not troubled by any local troublemakers. I am therefore very supportive of this leadership role played by Shri R.J.Rathnakar in outside ashram Puttaparthi town.
The contrast in terms of peaceful and hassle free life for Sai devotees, between outside ashram Puttaparthi town and other towns in Rayalaseema can be easily felt by those who have experienced life in such towns.
Now does that mean that I will poke my nose into all financial dealings and business activities that are going on in outside ashram Puttaparthi town and do exposure of any such illegal activities. Of course NOT. Such exposure involves risk and therefore it is the media and police authorities who do such work. NOT spiritual aspirants and writers on spirituality & religion like me!!! As an individual writer, I am afraid of investigating and exposing financial and other malpractices not only in outside ashram Puttaparthi but anywhere in India or the world, for that matter. I think that fear is a healthy fear. Like having fear of going to a jungle which has ferocious animals, or to a warzone, or to a place having an outbreak of deadly contagious disease (e.g. Ebola).
And BTW I was born and lived for most of the first four decades of my life in and around Mumbai. The biggest mafia bosses in India came to limelight in Mumbai during my time there. As an individual writer, I am AFRAID of writing against these mafia bosses even today! And I think that is a healthy fear. I mean, I have read enough about hitman killings in Mumbai ordered and executed by these mafia gangs, when I was living in and around Mumbai to know how dangerous they can be to those who trouble them. I also was caught up in downtown Mumbai when the 1993 serial bomb blasts organized by one of these mafia bosses struck Mumbai and terrorized it for a day or two (then Mumbai was back in action, shrugging off the first serial bomb blast attack in India). [Here's my blog post on it for those who would like to read it, My memories of the 1993 Bombay/Mumbai serial bomb blasts, http://ravisiyermisc.blogspot.in/2015/07/my-memories-of-1993-bombaymumbai-serial.html.] It is the police authorities and powerful media orgns. protected by the police who have the task of doing the dangerous work of investigating criminal actions of these mafia gangs. Not individual writers on spirituality and religion like me!
The way Mr. Ganti writes, it seems that he thinks he is some great FEARLESS man who will expose Asathya and Adharma anywhere. Given the mocking tone that Mr. Ganti has used for Puttaparthi residents let me challenge him to live in Puttaparthi and then write about such matters (any exposure of alleged financial corruption and malpractices). Then I will say he is a FEARLESS man. Otherwise he is just claiming to be FEARLESS but is only sitting safely in Singapore and mocking Puttaparthi residents as FEARFUL!
Further, is Singapore free from all crime and corruption?? I have only visited Singapore for a couple of days on a marketing trip during my software industry days, sometime in the early 90s. It did come across as a well disciplined city then but I could sense an undercurrent of fear too then. I mean, it was not like how I have felt while I lived in Western Europe and the USA.
And, is Singapore politics really free democracy politics like in Western Europe and USA (and to a lesser extent, India)?? Two short extracts from the article, "Sister of Singapore Prime Minister Lee accuses him of dynasty politics", http://www.cnbc.com/2016/04/11/sister-of-singapore-prime-minister-lee-accuses-him-of-dynasty-politics.html, dated 11th April 2016, are given below:
International media have long criticized Singapore's political system over the prominence of the Lee family. The People's Action Party (PAP), created by Lee Kuan Yew in 1954, has ruled Singapore's political landscape since the country's independence in 1965.
A few days later, on April 1, she wrote, "I will no longer write for SPH [Singapore Press Holdings, publisher of The Straits Times] as the editors there do not allow me freedom of speech. In fact, that was the reason why I posted the article that LKY would not want to be hero-worshipped."
--- end short extracts from cnbc.com ---
What Ganti sir! No press freedom in Straits Times for even daughter of Late Singapore strongman Lee Kuan Yew! What sort of FEARFUL place you are living in!!! I challenge you, Mr. Ganti, to write in support of press freedom in Singapore and in support of Lee Wei Ling, younger sister of Singapore Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong. Or should I say entire Singapore city including Mr. V.R. Ganti is GRIPPED BY FEAR of Lee Hsein Loong and DARE NOT SUPPORT his sister and critic, Lee Wei Ling???
Additional comments of mine in the same post of Mr. Ganti mentioned above, are given below.
Ganti sir, I will never forget the courageous work that you did in exposing Muddenhalli group. As I have said earlier on multiple occasions that is a signal contribution from you to the post-Mahasamadhi Sathya Sai movement.
But, sir, you are now painting Puttaparthi town in a very poor light. Mind you, many Sai devotees in Puttaparthi try to do their best to follow Bhagavan's teachings. In my considered opinion, Bhagavan would not approve of Sai devotees very aggressively and publicly criticizing trustees of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, and any member of Swami's family, as you are doing, sir. You are saying that Sai devotees in Puttaparthi are "gripped by FEAR"! That is a completely wrong way of looking at it. By using such language, you want to provoke Puttaparthi Sai devotees into doing what you want them to do. But, sir, all such language will do is to create anger towards you in most Puttaparthi residents (including me) who read your post/mail, as your characterisation of them is insulting.
My view is that as a now well known social media writer of Sathya Sai movement matters, you sir, can surely raise polite questions of SSSCT. I have publicly expressed my view that it will be better if there is more transparency in SSSCT in this post-Mahasamadhi phase of Sathya Sai movement.
But you have gone way beyond that in this post of yours (as you have done earlier too). You have assumed unto yourself a dictatorial role and want to dictate terms to SSSCT! You have targeted two of these trustees by name in this post and used very harsh language against them. This kind of post is really shocking to me!
It is one thing to demand more transparency and accountability in the Sai orgn. But you have gone way beyond that, sir.
I am afraid I cannot be part of such discussions and debate.
I pray to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba to cool you down, sir, and show you that these kind of posts will only create disharmony and anger in Puttaparthi and SSSCT, and not help Sathya Sai movement.
--Name-snipped-- sister, I could not tolerate the words Mr. Ganti has put up in this post which insults Puttaparthi residents (including you and me) as living in great fear. Please note that his mails go out to many people around the world. I felt it is important to strongly rebut the view that people like you and me live in great fear in Puttaparthi.
Ganti sir, I have never interacted with Shri R.J. Rathnakar directly and am not attached to him in any way. However, I do appreciate the good influence that he, along with ruling govt. leaders like Minister and MLA Dr. Palle Raghunatha Reddy, have over outside ashram Puttaparthi to keep it free from or limit it to a very low level of problems that towns near to Puttaparthi face [Liquor shops and associated drunkard problems, eve-teasing, robberies ...]. Even if I move away from Puttaparthi, I will try to stick to the norms I had when I was serving in the Sai university in Prasanthi Nilayam campus in Bhagavan's physical presence, of having respect towards family members of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba which includes Shri R.J. Rathnakar and Smt. Chetana Raju.
You have put out a view that Puttaparthi residents live in great fear. I do not live in great fear in outside-ashram Puttaparthi. I don't bother RJR and he does not bother me. I don't trouble other leaders of PTP town and they don't trouble me. So I am not afraid of them. I will have need to fear them if I poke my nose into their business, political and personal affairs. Why should I do that??? I am not a competitor to them and have not come to Puttaparthi to earn money from business or a job with Sai institution, or get elected to political office. That is the truth whether you want to accept it or not.
Perhaps those who have written to you from Puttaparthi about such fear are persons who are into business or other activities which face opposition from others in Puttaparthi.
You [Mr. Ganti] made allegations against me sir in your comment stating that "You are attached to the local leader". I wanted readers to know that that is a false statement.
Sairam --name-snipped-- sir, Thanks for the kind words about me. But I am just a regular person with human flaws who needs your good wishes, and am NOT worthy of any prostration of any sort. ..... I was only one of the persons offering honorary service in Sai university. I am deeply grateful to Bhagavan for having given me the opportunity to serve Him in this manner in His DIVINE university. While I did not ask for (and did not get) any money salary from Bhagavan for my nine year service stint, I asked for and He gave in a much bigger way than I had expected, spiritual grace (spiritual salary) to me, for which I am deeply, deeply grateful to Him.
Given below is a comment from my Facebook post,
https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/1794942760722293, associated with this blog post:
Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Part of an exchange (slightly edited) over FB chat with a FB friend who along with her parents shifted to Puttaparthi from Mumbai in 2001 (so living in Puttaparthi for 15 years) is given below (she was OK with sharing it):
FB Friend (FBF) wrote: Sairam, It's right, as a woman i feel in Parthi compared to other places in India.
I wrote: Did you mean that, as a woman, you feel safer in Parthi? ... I think Parthi crime rate is quite low as compared to nearby towns. Do you disagree?
Are you gripped by fear in your life in Puttaparti??? Of course, there is discipline in the PRIVATE mandir complex and PRIVATE Sai institutions like hospitals and educational institutions where one has to follow rules & regulations. But that is different from living in great fear. But what do you think? Do you live in great fear in Puttaparthi?
FBF wrote (slightly edited): No, i have no fear in Parthi as a woman and i did not encounter any unpleasantness in this place since we shifted here. Yes, in hospital or in mandir, we have (to) follow certain rules, which i always do. I feel, it also depends on a woman how she conducts herself in public.
Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Additional comment I put up in Mr. Ganti's FB post referred in post above: I have deleted the comment referring to dogs made by somebody on my Facebook post. I do not approve of such words being used in these debates.
However, I must also inform readers that I think some people in Puttaparthi (locals) are very upset with the tone of this post of Mr. Ganti. So I understand the anger which led to the comment with dogs reference being put on my Facebook page by somebody.
Puttaparthi locals are rough-and-tough people. So long as you don't come in their way and bother them, they will not bother you. But if you create problems for them they tend to react with Rayalaseema rough-and-tough attitude. This was the reality of outside ashram Puttaparthi (and to a smaller extent, within the ashram too) even prior to Swami's Mahasamadhi, and continues to be the reality today.
I am sharing this view/information only from an intention to alert readers to the reality of outside ashram Puttaparthi. What they want to post and comment is up to them. But if they use very harsh words against some top persons of Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust (SSSCT) and/or Swami's family members, they should not be surprised if they receive back some very harsh words, Rayalaseema style, from some Puttaparthi locals.
SSSCT and Swami family members are quite highly respected in outside ashram Puttaparthi. Outside ashram Puttaparthi is dependent on SSSCT for many services, and I think most, if not all, reasonably well informed Puttaparthi locals understand that very well, and many are grateful to SSSCT as the key instrument of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, through whom these services to them are rendered. Of course, their primary gratitude is to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba himself.
It does pain me when I read strong words being used not only from Mr. Ganti and others against SSSCT but also in the reverse direction from Puttaparthi locals hurt by these words towards Mr. Ganti and others. That is why I have made this comment. I do hope it will serve to make the tone more polite. I personally am biased towards SSSCT and Swami family members and so I do not want to engage much in this discussion.
Thank you. Jai Sairam!