Friday, October 7, 2016

Sai devotees truthfully and lovingly sharing their experiences with Bhagavan is vital service to Sai mission

In a facebook post of bro. Clive Raj Valydon, titled, "Should we share our personal experiences with bhagawan or not"?,, I made the following comment:

Well said, bro. Clive Raj Valydon. My view is that, barring information that could hurt other individuals or some things which some may not want to share as it is very personal, Sai devotees sharing their experiences with Bhagavan in a truthful and loving towards Bhagavan way, is vital, vital service to the Sathya Sai mission and current and future Sathya Sai devotees.

We have very limited experience accounts related to Shirdi Sai Baba physical form. I am now reading a book on Shirdi Sai Baba by Antonio Rigopoulus, The Life and Teachings of Sai Baba of Shirdi (first Indian edition, 1993). Rigopoulus quotes words of Shirdi Sai Baba extensively from the book, Sri Sai Baba's Charters and Sayings by B.V. Narasimhaswami (first edition 1939). It is mentioned that Shirdi Sai Baba said such words to well known devotees like Nanasaheb Chandorkar.

An example of it from page 34 of the pdf version of the book, (1999 edition),

N G Chandorkar: Pray, tell us about Suddha Chaitanya, what it is.

Baba: That is the origin, the essence, the foundation and the permeator of the entire universe, sentient and insentient, as also the end of it. The source is Suddha Chaitanya. You cannot exactly describe ‘Chaitanya’, but every moment it exists in your existence. There is no place without it but it has no form or name. In that it resembles air, which has no colour or form to be seen, and whose existence however is unquestionable, Suddha Chaitanya is called Brahman. The wise do upsana of it under the name ‘Brahman’ and then, are called Brahmavit. Vegetable, animal, human and all other lives are contained within it. It is the original cause of all appearance, perceptions and knowledge. It is the one root of the many. It pervades everything. It may be characterised as Sat-reality, Chit-consciousness, Ananda-bliss and Ekatvaunity. All of us are that. We are not distinct from it.

--- end extract from Sai Baba's Charters and Sayings by B.V. Narasimhaswami ---

Now the author of the book, Shri B.V. Narasimhaswami,, is regarded as a great apostle of Shirdi Sai Baba. But B.V. Narasimhaswami never saw or interacted with physical form Shirdi Sai Baba!!! This is like how the Apostle Paul had never seen or interacted with Jesus Christ but who, after his legendary conversion on the road to Damascus, became one of the most important apostles of Jesus Christ and one of the most important founders of the Christian church. To get to know direct experiences of physical form Jesus Christ we need to focus on the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, in the New Testament.

Coming to the supposed Baba quotes and lengthy explanations given in Narasimhaswami's book, I have to confess that I have some doubts about its authenticity. I wonder whether Narasimhaswami has added his views on such matters but given them under Shirdi Sai Baba's name to gain more weight for those words!!! We are seeing something similar happen in our Sathya Sai movement after Mahasamadhi, aren't we!!!

I had a quick look at the pdf document to see if Narasimhaswami gives references for such quotes and lengthy explanations from Baba from some say, Marathi book written by Chandorkar or Dixit or others who had direct experience of Shirdi Sai Baba and conversations with him (or recorded by authors who spoke to Chandorkar, Dixit and others and provide proof of such recordings). But I could not find such references! Maybe if I look harder and more carefully I will find it. Anyway, I am not able to accept these quotes and lengthy explanations attributed to Shirdi Sai Baba in Narasimhaswami's book UNLESS I find proper references.

For me as a Sathya Sai devotee, Shri Narayan Kasturi and Dr. John Hislop have been vital instruments in recording directly from Sathya Sai Avatar, his views on various spiritual, religious and even social matters, in books and spiritual magazines (like Sanathana Sarathi). I learned a lot about Sathya Sai life and teachings through these books and magazines. And I don't really have doubts about the authenticity of Swami's words as recorded in these books and magazines (some minor editing work may be there but that's it). I cannot say the same of B.V. Narasimhaswami's book on Shirdi Sai Baba.

So I think devotees who have had experiences with physical form Sathya Sai, writing truthfully and lovingly towards Sathya Sai about their experiences will be a really vital contribution to accurately and faithfully preserving the life and teachings of Sathya Sai Baba for future generations/posterity. Mind you, in 2016 nearly a century after Shirdi Sai Baba gave up his body (1918), I am very keen to know more about Shirdi Sai Baba from authentic sources but find that such material is rather limited (Sai Satcharita and few other books). So what Sathya Sai devotees record now may be useful to somebody like me a century later who is trying to research AUTHENTIC experiences and teachings of Sathya Sai Baba, even though there is a lot of such literature already available today.

And then there is the matter of generations of the devotee's family wanting to know about their ancestor's direct experiences with physical form Sathya Sai. Even if the world at large may not be so interested, some descendants of the devotee may be very interested.

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