Last updated on 25th Sept. 2016
[Update on 25th Sept. 2016: Initially when this post was put up on 22nd Sept. 2016 with the title, "Some more thoughts and responses about my current writing stand on Muddenahalli group belief", I had not got approval from the correspondent with whom I had this exchange to share her part of the exchange. So I presented my part of that conversation in this post without any reference to the mail conversation. Now the correspondent, an old friend of mine from my software industry days in Mumbai (she was not with the software development work but was with the finance section of the first software consultancy company that I worked in, from 1984 to 1990 in Mumbai), has given her approval to share her part of the conversation too. So I have included her part too (slightly edited) in this post. My portion of the exchange is slightly edited as well.]
Note: The order below is slightly different from the mail exchange order which was not broken into points. So some minor sequence issues will have to be tolerated by the reader.
1) Correspondent (C) wrote: Every institution, religious or otherwise, will undergo splits when there is a leadership change. Each faction will claim to be the original or the true heir to the legacy. You have yourself quoted what Ramana said when there was another faction. While that may have been for property ...
I (Ravi) responded: I think it was about ashram administration rather than property. Ashram administration is a very tricky thing as people will always find some complaint or the other with the ashram administration.2) C wrote: The reason you did not get a response from Modi's office [Ravi: to my open letter to PM Modi, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2016/09/open-letter-to-pm-modi-hrd-minister.html], is because they also viewed it as a fight between two factions not worth taking sides. There is a possibility, that Modi or his ministers would attend not only Muddenhalli's events , but also events held by your faction as well. They have no time or inclination to take sides. They see it only as power struggle.
I responded: Yes, the central and state govts. would view Puttaparthi group and Muddenahalli group as two factions and would not want to get embroiled in the disputes between the two factions. So they attend Puttaparthi ashram functions and also Muddenahalli group functions.
My point is not about whether they attend Muddenahalli group events but whether they ENDORSE the communicator/medium belief. As far as I know, I don't think there has been any major ashram system in India in my lifetime which has a medium of a departed Guru as the key person giving darshan, interviews and discourses supposedly of the departed Guru through the medium. Do you know of any such major (or even minor) ashram in India??
Visits by top political leaders are tried to be promoted by Muddenahalli group as them having become convinced of the communicator/medium's claims. PM Modi is a special case, which is a BIG, BIG PRIZE for Muddenahalli group to win (I mean, if they win his belief). This is because PM Modi has visited Sathya Sai Baba (in physical form) in the past on multiple occasions. The communicator/medium seems to have the ability to tell people about their past experiences with Sathya Sai Baba. That floors many people and they then believe everything about his medium/communicator claim. If PM Modi also is told by this communicator about some of his past private interactions with Sathya Sai which leads PM Modi to start believing that this medium/communicator guy is really channeling Sathya Sai spirit then, in my view, that would be a very sad event. I mean, the top leader of the country would be believing in this medium (communicator) guy, Madhusudan Rao Naidu's claim, which I am deeply convinced is a FALSE CLAIM based on my extensive study of the words & actions of this medium (communicator) which is DOCUMENTED on this blog!!!!
Perhaps for some persons that would not be an issue. But it does worry me. And I feel I need to do my bit as an Indian citizen and as a Sathya Sai devotee, in my individual capacity, to try to alert the PM about it.C wrote: As for believing in "medium", I don't believe in it.. as much as I don't believe in many other things. However, if there are some folks who believe they can get salvation thru' it, its their choice, as much as they would go to Tirupathi and drop money in the hundi and expect something in return. I neither drop money in a temple nor be awed by someone who says he is the "medium". there are many who do past life regression..
I responded: If it comes only to individuals, one need not get so worried. If some unknown to me person goes to Muddenahalli group and becomes a believer in the medium, I don't bother to interfere in that person's choice. But if PM Modi and HRD minister are being wooed by the medium/communicator (Madhusudan Rao Naidu), I worry about them getting trapped by the medium!!! B'cos they are powerful leaders of the union govt. who take big decisions on policy and big projects which could affect the lives of many, many Indians today, and whose (decisions) impact would extend to some time in the future.
As I read and blog about the USA presidential election that is ongoing, I note that some people who knew both the major presidential candidates from up close in the past, chose to go public with their warnings about what they view as these candidates' unsuitability to be USA president. They did this as a kind of duty to their country and knew that they would face an onslaught of criticism from the presidential candidates' camp and perhaps even legal issues. Some may view that as negativity. I view some of it as fair and necessary criticism by USA citizens to provide USA citizens valuable information that will help them take an informed decision while electing the next president of the USA. However, I do recognize that some of such criticism is false and negative propaganda against the presidential candidates. I am in favour of genuine and fair criticism of, and against false and negative propaganda targeting, the USA presidential candidates.
In a small way, I am doing my bit through fair criticism to prevent what I am sure is a false claim medium/communicator (Madhusudan Rao Naidu) trapping PM and top union ministers of India, into his net using the ***POWERFUL for political leaders *** name of Sri Sathya Sai Baba for his (medium's) words.C wrote: Find a positive balance for yourself and negate the negative energy.
I responded: I think fair criticism is an important part of life. Some may view it as negativity. I don't view fair criticism as negativity.3) About me not getting a proper response to my open letter to PM Modi:
I wrote: India has a huge population. Rather extensive filtering of communication to PM is but natural. I took a chance. It did not work out. I have the satisfaction of having tried to do my bit as an Indian citizen and Sai devotee. My conscience is at rest.4) C wrote: To your point - "From a detachment point of view perhaps Ramana's approach was right [Ravi: About Ramana not wanting to fight with the breakaway devotee group/person that had set up a parallel ashram in Ramana's name!]. But from an ashram systems point of view, from the well being of the community of the ashram system, some ashram leaders had to take action.". The question I have for you - Did you go on this path to build ashrams and institutions or was it for salvation?
I responded: When I came to Puttaparthi with an aim to settle down, if things worked out, in end 2002, I wanted to have a balance between my individual spiritual progress and my contribution to the Sathya Sai mission which focuses on strengthening ideals of Sathya, Dharma, Shanti & Prema in society, service to society in various sectors (education, medicine ...) and also spreading the teachings of Sathya Sai. Till mid 2010, I was keeping this balance. Some incident and associated interactions (thoughts & prayers from me, and facial gestures and a key discourse from Swami) between Swami and me in 2010, where he stood by me in a time of great test for me, made me deeply devoted to Sathya Sai, like perhaps how some followers of Jesus became deeply devoted to Jesus. For me, this is personal. I mean, it is a personal bond of immense gratitude that I have with Sathya Sai for all that he did for me as a Guru including at physical form interaction level between him and me (prayers & thoughts from me towards Swami, and from Swami to me: facial gestures mainly but a few words too, and discourses which I heard live (sometimes watching him delivering the discourse) in his physical presence sitting in the main Darshan Hall in Puttaparthi ashram, Sai Kulwant Hall).
After Mahasamadhi of Sathya Sai (April 2011), I have become far more involved in the mission of Sathya Sai (in an individual role), than in my individual spiritual practices like meditation and contemplation (of which I would do a lot prior to mid 2010). So now I am more of a Sathya Sai missionary than an individual spiritual aspirant. And from a Sathya Sai missionary point of view, safeguarding the teachings of Sathya Sai from corruption and dilution (which is what Madhusudan Rao Naidu is doing in my considered view) is a major activity that I do not want to shirk.5) C wrote: The university thing would not have happened on its own. Because you were taking sides, the other side will always look for your weak points. Once you take up a battle, then there will be no holds barred.
I responded: Well, I have noticed that you have never said that me being shown as Teaching Assistant by the Sai university in a document was wrong, as I was issued Identity cards duly signed by Principal of the Sai university campus that I was serving in, as Honorary Staff, Honorary Faculty and Visiting Faculty. I find that rather strange unless you disbelieve my statements above.C responded: Sorry, I did not mean to say that the misrepresentation of your designation was right. All that I said, was folks will look for various ways to hit back, when cornered or in a fight. In this case, they tried this tactic. The underlying cause is different of why this happened. The battle was for something else and they ensured you were distracted by this gross misrep.
I responded: Thanks a ton for clearly stating that you view my designation issue as a gross misrepresentation and do not view it as right. You see, the biggest disappointment, and I have to say even betrayal, that I felt in my fight with the Sai university administrators (in first half of 2012), was that NOT ONE OF MY COLLEAGUES or SENIORS (including a former HOD) who were paid staff of the Sai university, came up to me privately (forget about publicly stating so), and told me that Sai university had done a wrong thing by grossly misrepresenting my designation as a very junior one. NOT ONE of these persons! [Today, in 2016, I have a much kinder view of my paid Sai university colleagues and seniors not telling me even privately that Sai university had a done a wrong thing in this case. I think they were just too scared of losing their job or being penalised in some way if they were seen to be supporting me in any way. I mean, paid ashram staff are simply not in a position to criticize ashram administrators. That is the reality of Puttaparthi ashram and perhaps is the reality of other ashrams in India too.]
My value system was, and continues to be, such that I expect an apology from the authorities for their mistake. Instead I was greeted with haughty arrogance (in March to June 2012)! As if to say that what can you do? You are only one individual guy (who also has health problems). We can do what we want with your designation! [Note that they did not specifically use such words. But the way they behaved with me made me feel that this was their attitude.] This was gross abuse of power and even sadistic behaviour by Sai university administrators.
As they refused to apologize, when I was able to expose their wrongdoing in social media (in 2015 & 2016), I felt happy. [For more details on it, please see my blog post, My May 2012 service record & record tampering related correspondence with Sai university (SSSIHL) administrators, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2015/11/my-may-2012-service-record-record.html, dated Nov. 2015 and last updated Sept. 2016.] Somehow I wanted justice to be done. Exposing their misdeeds on social media allowed me to get that satisfaction to some extent. They still have not apologized and perhaps may never do so. Puttaparthi ashram system has feudal type arrogance where ashram bosses NEVER EVER apologize. But by exposing on social media the individuals of the Sai university who humiliated and insulted me, and labeling them publicly (in my blog & Facebook posts) as Teacher-Drohis (those who do harm to teachers), I have ensured that I got some level of justice, even if I did not get an apology.
I read somewhere about how institutional betrayal can cause psychological trauma. I think that is what I suffered then from in an acute way in 2011-12 at which time I did not use social media exposure, and so got brutally marginalized by a huge ashram university system crushing a single individual's cry for justice. Today I still face a minor level of trauma when I recall those incidents and write about them, but it is not as bad as it was in 2011-12 when I felt all alone in Puttaparthi.
The really peculiar thing about my experience is that while the Sai university betrayed me and I have very negative feelings about Sai university administrators, my beloved Gurudev, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba never betrayed me but always faithfully and truthfully played his role of a Guru guiding me, sometimes chastising me for my good, in my spiritual journey [I am writing about physical form Sathya Sai]. Sathya Sai was ALWAYS TRUE to me in my relationship with him of me being a spiritual aspirant and he being my Guru. In this spiritual relationship between me and him aspect, Sathya Sai lived up FULLY to his name of Sathya (truth). So on one hand I have bitter feelings towards the Sai university but on the other hand, I have immense gratitude for Sri Sathya Sai Baba, who was the founder chancellor of the Sai university, besides being my beloved Gurudev!!!!6) C wrote: If you had taken up a fight to save someone's life or someone's suffering, --name-snipped-- and I would not have objected as we do today. Because its about factions, we see no point in the battle.
I responded: I understand that you and --name-snipped-- (non Sai devotees; includes some other friends & relatives of mine) do not see any point in this faction battle. You are not into Sathya Sai and so you could not care less about these matters.
Yes, I do not view Sai Baba as a God (Not that i have any other God I am awed with).. but I never felt like spending my life proving or disproving my point of view about Sai Baba, because my to-do list is already very crowded.
I am going to be cheeky now.. Most men after retirement are a pain.. after a lifetime of working, they have no idea of how to spend their time and really make life difficult for their families :p. ... That's what I meant, when in one of my earlier mails I said "Idle mind is devils workshop". You do not have enough things on your plate to be engaged with and this has now become an all consuming thing on your mind. I am sure --name-snipped-- will agree with me, you can put your brain and time to much better use.
I responded: You see, many people are thanking me for the work I have done in this matter. I myself feel very satisfied that I did not run away from Puttaparthi after Swami Mahasamadhi, and leave others to deal with the mess that followed the Mahasamadhi. My conscience is clear that I have done my duty to my beloved Guru in this post-Mahasamadhi trauma, chaos and confusion matter by this social media writing work of mine. That is a vital, vital thing for me. You reject my writings and work in this regard as idle mind is devil's workshop. What can I say? I don't want to use hurtful words. All I will say is that perhaps you have never been with any spiritual master or spiritual following. That is why you are using such words.C responded: I agree I have not met any spiritual person or otherwise who has influenced me very deeply. I have always striven to never be carried away by one thing to loose sight of possible other perspectives. So could never trust and have complete faith in one person or ideology. You could call it my arrogance or skepticism. I have been influenced by lot of folks as I look for things I can learn, but never completely by one person, that I would consider it to be gospel truth. That's how I am :)
I responded: Noted. And I respect your stand and value you as a friend who has that stand.8) C wrote: I would still urge you to occupy yourself with other things, whether its family or other purposes.
I responded: Well, Muddenahalli group matter is not the only thing I deal with. I write about non-controversial spirituality & religion matters. You may be disinterested. But many are interested and have thanked me for my writings. The reading that I do related to/prompting such writings gives me great satisfaction.
I have also extensively blogged (for free) about improving the practice of software development in Indian Computer Science & Information Technology academia. I consider that to be a significant contribution from me to the software development profession which gave me a great livelihood and great joy as a professional, even if that work (blog) does not have much recognition, as of now at least.
I have put up the course content of the various courses I taught in the Sai university on the Internet for free. [Note that for many of these courses I re-used and adapted freely available course content of USA and other Western country universities.]
I have studied the contemporary God & Science conversation and blogged (for free) about it on a different blog from my Sai Baba blog. That blog has no reference to Sathya Sai Baba at all, and focuses only on philosophy and values.
I share my views on a miscellaneous blog (for free) about other miscellaneous matters of human interest (not related to spirituality & religion or software technology) like USA politics which seems to interest a few people, and which I find educative.
Is all the above the work of an idle mind and that of a devil's workshop? Perhaps that's your view. I dismiss that view as an ignorant view (sorry to be blunt), and I think many of my readers too would dismiss it in a similar way.
And BTW before I left the Sai university I taught (for free) software development courses to M.Sc. and M.Tech. students and guided M.Tech. project work of some students for NINE YEARS. Is that also idle mind being devil's workshop stuff from some persons' point of view??
I actually even wonder whether you are against me writing about such things on the Internet. If so, why? Do you hate writers? Or is it that you just hate me being a writer on social media? Sorry if the questions seem harsh. But the tone of such criticism leaves me no option but to try to understand why you have such a harsh view of my post-retirement-from-commercial-work life.C responded: I have nothing against writers. Yes, you are a very capable writer and your blogs are very impressive.
I responded: Thanks for the kind (perhaps very kind and exaggeratedly kind) words. I am touched by the genuineness of at least some appreciation from you for my writings. It is such appreciation that is the motivation fuel for writers like me. Without such appreciation I would have stopped writing and focused only on reading.
I do know that I have many flaws as a writer (hurried writing; grammatical mistakes; long-winded and repetitive at times ...). But my focus is more on the content that I want to share even if the manner of that content-sharing (writing style) could be better. I mean, right now I am focused on hurriedly but effectively communicating my thoughts on some matters to those who are interested. Over time perhaps I will become more of a laid back writer when I find that I can spend more time on improving my writing style.C wrote: if those activities alongwith taking the Sai mission forward (in a positive manner and not defending) form major part of your life then my comment about "idle mind" is wrong and I apologize. However, when the Muddenahhali fight took the centre stage, the other discourses took a back seat and negative energy started flowing.. I do not like to see any energy being wasted on negative thoughts. That got me writing to you alongwith --name-snipped--. --name-snipped-- may have his own reasons, but this was my trigger. I apologize if this hurt you. You should step back and see how much time are you in a positive frame of mind and how much is it defending, disturbed and negative. Its for you to find your balance.
I responded: Thanks for the conciliatory tone. I really appreciate it. On Muddenahalli stuff, what you view as negative, I view as truth-telling even if unpleasant truth-telling, that must be done for the larger and long-time good. But I do not want to debate this endlessly. I have noted that you view my unpleasant truth-telling stuff as negative.9) C wrote: To me most of this is about money and power and so is all other religious discourses, except there are a few folks, who become the "Born again Christians".. I know you are not in it for the power and money!
I responded: Undoubtedly there is huge money and power in big spiritual and religious institutions, and some of it is unethical stuff (with some of it being used for service to society activities).
Thanks for your faith in me that I am not in this for power and money. And I guess I am a "Born Again Hindu" now, though I don't force my views on others (no forceful evangelism, but a share the good news with those interested type evangelism).10) C wrote: I shall refrain from anymore comments on this topic.
I responded: Noted that you want to refrain from further comments on this topic.
Thank you very much for the valuable time you took to share your views and ***WELL-INTENTIONED*** warnings to me. I have no doubt whatsoever that friends like you and --name-snipped--, only want my well being, and that your recent mails to me to back off from Muddenahalli public criticism (and consider leaving Puttaparthi and Sathya Sai Baba related matters and go back to Mumbai/Dombivli), sprang from that genuine and sincere concern about my well being. I am grateful to God that He has blessed me with such genuine and sincere friends like you and --name-snipped-- (and other such friends and relatives). Thank you very much, once again.
If any of my words above have caused hurt, I am genuinely and sincerely sorry and apologize for the hurt caused. But I do not retract the words above as I think they are the truth and this truth needs to be said. The intent of these words is not to cause hurt but to share the truth as I see it and which truth-telling may help avoid such unpleasantness to others in future.11) In response to my seeking her approval to share the above exchange, C wrote: Hey no problem.. Whatsoever. The only reason i said i will refrain is bcoz i had already spelt out my opinion and we were going round in circles :)
i have no problem with whichever way you wish to share our exchange.
Not that i want to have the last word.. But do try and get back on your spiritual quest. :)
Apologies for the delay in responding. This falls in my weekend bucket :D
Take care and best wishes