Last updated on 6th Nov. 2016Given below is my comment, in a Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/terry.reiskennedy/posts/10211148027715361 (slightly edited).
[This comment is a nested comment within my top-level comment, "Vr Ganti sir - As I have mentioned in the past, I am a supporter of SSSCT and Prasanthi Nilayam. So I feel it is best that I do not comment on the latest video you have put up.", and is in response to other comments at the nested level.]
Sairam brother --name-snipped--, One point where I have perhaps consciously diverged in my public posts in 2015 and 2016 from Swami's teachings as you have shared above, is "Eschew criticism of others." I would like to mention another teaching in this regard which is put up (or at least was put up) as a poster on the road leading to Prasanthi Nilayam ashram, "Bear all and do nothing."
I realized that it was lack of criticism and oversight of people in power in the Sai university (Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning) that, after Mahasamadhi, led them to go astray and have belief in Narasimhamurthy's claims that he is getting dream instructions from Swami, and also get into some sad abuse of power. Those who resisted such belief like Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju were forced to resign from the Sai university! Prof. Kamaraju wrote to many of his peers and juniors in the Sai university about it, but nobody really supported him!!! In my own particular case, I was shouted at by the then vice-chancellor, Prof. Sashidhara Prasad in Jul/Aug 2011 that as I was a visiting faculty I should listen to whatever the HOD says, and he also advised me to sing bhajans!!! This was because the HOD, Chandrasekaran, was DEAD AGAINST the Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Vahini work that students and I were doing very successfully, and the HOD committed a terrible breach of academic procedure in Jul/Aug 2011 by overriding written permission given by the Registrar, Naren Ramji (who surely would have been instructed to do so by the vice-chancellor) to me to interact with Mandir Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Vahini (SSSVV) team led by Satyajit Salian, and the company involved in SSSVV software, Tata Consultancy Services. Neither the vice-chancellor nor the Registrar supported me in this matter and did not point out to me that the HOD had committed a breach of academic procedure. It was another senior academic in the Sai university with far more years of service as well as proximity to physical form of Bhagavan than these persons, who pointed out to me that it was an invalid instruction from the HOD, and that it has to come from the Registrar again.
As I was under the influence of teachings like 'Bear all and do nothing' and that one should (blindly) follow instructions of top administrators of the Sai university like the then vice-chancellor, Sashidhara Prasad, I saw that the only Sathya & Dharma path left to me was to quit my FREE SERVICE in the Sai university, which I did in March 2012 after I finished my consultancy work for a student's M.Tech. project work. Individually it worked out for me as I was able to focus on my spiritual path outside the Sai university, and I was very happy to get out of the Sai university even though I had prayed to Bhagavan for that free service (Seva) opportunity in end 2002, which he graciously accepted giving me that opportunity from Jan. 2003 onwards. In my heart, I was able to tell Bhagavan that the situation in post-Mahasamadhi Sai university had become impossible for me and so I had to quit my free service there. So my conscience was and continues to be free and at rest, in regard to me quitting the Sai university Seva that Swami had himself given me in response to my prayer to Him (including a letter about it which he accepted from me at Darshan time in end 2002).
But did this culture of not questioning actions of bosses help the Sai university or hurt it, in the immediate months and years after Mahasamadhi? Today, my view is that it hurt it enormously as essentially Sashidhara Prasad and Narasimharmurthy were able to HIJACK the Sai university from Jul 2011 to Nov. 2014, with the support of some quislings in the Sai university who were rewarded with suitable positions of power (and good sixth pay commission salaries as well, in most cases). People were afraid of criticizing the actions of the bosses.
And then if you get a wider perspective of Swami's teachings, Swami has also said that if there is Asathya and Adharma one should criticize it. Especially teachers and parents must criticize Asathya and Adharma in their students and children respectively. As if they do not do so, the students and children will think that the Asathya and Adharma they are doing, is fine, and continue with that behaviour pattern in their adult lives!!
In particular, Swami has publicly asked Sai devotees to strongly criticize those who claim to be mediums of Sathya Sai!!!
Narasimhamurthy claimed to be a dream medium of Sathya Sai in Jul 2011, and a document related to it was circulated in Prasanthi Nilayam campus teachers group of the Sai university (I was a part of that group and received it then). Why was that not criticized in the teachers group of Prasanthi Nilayam campus then as going against Swami's teachings?? If a debate had been conducted within Prasanthi Nilayam teachers group then itself (in Jul 2011), then perhaps the Sai university would have been successful in opposing the HIJACK of the Sai university by vice-chancellor Sashidhara Prasad and warden Narasimhamurthy.
It is my considered view that the Sai university culture of blindly obeying instructions from bosses like top university and hostel administrators (vice-chancellor, warden, registrar, controller of examinations and campus directors/principals) prevented a free debate on Narasimhamurthy's dream-instructions claim. Even when Madhusudan Rao Naidu went public in May 2014 with his communicator claim, I did not hear of anybody in the Sai university having the GUTS to oppose the claim even within the Sai university circles, as the vice-chancellor was supportive of Madhusudan Rao Naidu!!!!
Mr. Vr Ganti has made a tremendous contribution to the Sathya Sai movement by exposing in 2015 & 2016, the Sai university HIJACK and the false claims and history of Muddenahalli group. I am very grateful to him for that signal contribution from him to the Sathya Sai movement.
However, I do not approve of his means of bringing change in the Sathya Sai movement. I completely oppose his latest open letter to Andhra Pradesh CM.
In general, my view is that FAIR and BALANCED criticism is VITAL for any organization having a large group of people, as otherwise the danger of some leaders of the organization taking the entire organization astray is high. I mean, even leaders of such organizations are human, and may make mistakes. But the criticism should be FAIR and BALANCED. Wild accusations without supporting evidence must be eschewed.
Given below are some comments from my Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/1813871192162783, associated with this blog post.
Terry Reis Kennedy wrote:
Brilliant, Ravi S. Iyer. Thank you for this helpful essay.
Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Vr Ganti sir, as I am a supporter of SSSCT (which implies that I support the work that the current group of trustees are doing) I am afraid I have to delete your comment from this post of mine.
Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Vr Ganti sir, my view in response to your comment which I deleted, is as follows:
1) You have expressed your view about the approach Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust (SSSCT) has taken in combating the SERIOUS DIVISIVE problem that Muddenahalli group has created for the Sathya Sai movement worldwide. Your view does not necessarily have to be the correct and authentic view. You may have jumped to conclusions based on some suspicions you have about some people.
2) Regarding Swami's name being tarnished (by Muddenahalli group) and your dissatisfaction with SSSCT actions against Muddenahalli group: While SSSCT may have acted slowly, I disagree with your suspicions about a conspiracy where SSSCT actually supports Muddenahalli group. I don't think there is any evidence to support such a conspiracy theory. SSSCT has clearly stated that it does not agree with Muddenahalli group claims. I don't think any reasonable person can doubt that.
You seem to expect some dramatic action from SSSCT (taking the bull by the horns) against Muddenahalli group. I am glad that SSSCT has not got into any dramatic actions of that sort!!! Not only should SSSCT abide by Indian law but it should refrain from doing any dramatic stuff against Muddenahalli group, given its position as the mother trust having the great responsibility of managing and steering Puttaparthi based mission of our beloved Lord, Kali Yuga Avatar, Shiva-Shakti Swarupa, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
As I understand it, Indian law does not prevent a group of Sathya Sai devotees to form separate trusts, and carry out service to humanity activities.
Where I, as a layman, think that there is a possible illegality (civil law illegality not criminal law illegality) under Indian law, is Madhusudan Rao Naidu using the name of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba for his discourses, interviews and darshan. And my view which I have expressed in my public posts in 2015 itself, is that a legal challenge should be mounted on those grounds by either the kith & kin of Swami or by SSSCT who may be viewed by the Indian courts as heirs of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. However, that is just my view. As I am only a layman who has never ever stepped into any court of law, Indian or foreign, I could be wrong.
3) About other legal matters related to the trust, and appointment of trustees, I think there must be established procedures in law to address such issues. I personally do not want to get involved in such matters.
4) The personal and business activities of trustees of SSSCT are separate from the responsibilities they have taken on as SSSCT trustees. Why should we discuss such personal and business activities' matters of SSSCT trustees when we are discussing Sathya Sai mission matters? Further, Sai devotees should NOT BE JEALOUS of the wealth and power that any SSSCT trustee has. In fact, to manage the trust affairs well it perhaps is necessary to have some wealthy and powerful people on the trust! I mean, running the institutions associated with the trust and conducting various functions in Prasanthi Nilayam ashram, need a lot of money as well as administrative influence with government bodies.
Ravi S. Iyer wrote (slightly edited) in response to a comment:
--name-snipped--, I agree that what is FAIR and BALANCED to me may not be FAIR and BALANCED to somebody else. I think these standards of FAIR and BALANCED in such posts & comments apply to a community of writers & readers. I like standards followed by international mainstream media like The New York Times, Washington Post, The Hindu, CNN and BBC, and view them, in general (with some exceptions), to be FAIR and BALANCED. But others view them to be UNFAIR and DISHONEST (including one major party nominee for USA president in the current USA elections).
In general, my view is that facts are established by evidence presented. Sometimes most participants in a conversation know about some things being facts and so there is no need to present evidence. And then there is opinion where one gives a view based on some facts presented. The view builds on the facts logically. Such an opinion/view to me is a FAIR and BALANCED opinion/view. Of course, others can criticize such an opinion/view by disputing the logic used to arrive at the conclusions or by even disputing the facts on which the opinion/view is based. The author then has to provide a suitable defense of the opinion/view, or may even correct it in the light of some genuine flaws that the criticism exposed.
In contrast, an UNFAIR and UNBALANCED view is one which seeks to promote only some facts, and suppress other facts, and/or uses faulty logic, including jumping to conspiracy conclusions, to arrive at an opinion/view.
Ravi S. Iyer wrote (slightly edited) in response to comment "Do you really feel that SAI devotees might be JEALOUS of the wealth of SSSCT members ...Since you have that feeling....you have commented.":
--name-snipped--, Jealousy not only of wealth and power but even of fame as a speaker on spirituality or b'cos of Swami interacting with somebody, was quite COMMON, and perhaps is still now quite COMMON in Prasanthi Nilayam ashram and institutions. Bhagavan himself has said that behind the very unfortunate 1993 incident, the main cause was jealousy. I myself have been a victim of jealousy in Prasanthi Nilayam system. It is a POWERFUL NEGATIVE FORCE in Prasanthi Nilayam and outside ashram Puttaparthi town as well, which I have learned to be very careful about.
Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
I am supportive of the current trustees of Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust including Shri R.J. Rathnakar and Shri K. Chakravarthi because I am aware of the very difficult situation that Prasanthi Nilayam went through first with losing physical form of Swami at Mahasamadhi time and then with the breakaway Muddenahalli group which included the seniormost and veteran top office bearer of Sai orgn., Shri Indulal Shah sir, a very respected and long term servitor and warden of Sai university, Shri B.N. Narasimhamurthy, and the then vice-chancellor of the Sai university, Prof. Sashidhara Prasad.
While I am of the view that SSSCT should have acted faster against Muddenahalli group, and that Prof. Sashidhara Prasad should NOT have been allowed to continue as vice-chancellor of Sai university once it became known that he was openly siding with Narasimhamurthy and not giving value to SSSCT view on Narasimhamurthy's dream instructions, I also realize that it would have been very traumatic for the SSSCT trustees to deal with all the horrible problems that Prasanthi Nilayam was facing then.
Overall, SSSCT has done a great job in keeping all institutions of Prasanthi Nilayam - ashram, hospitals, schools and university - running. That is no mean feat - only those who have lived through the trauma and chaos of post-Mahasamadhi 2011 and 2012 in Prasanthi Nilayam/Puttaparthi will really understand how big an achievement that was. I mean, people were leaving the institutions left, right and centre!!! How do you run hospitals and schools and university campuses when faced with a lot of people leaving, for one reason or the other, despite giving people good salary hikes via sixth pay commission implementation!!! Post-Mahasamadhi 2011 and 2012 was a very, very challenging period for Prasanthi Nilayam and outside ashram Puttaparthi town. I know as I have lived through it.
After Nov. 2014 when Sashidhara Prasad stepped down as vice-chancellor, the Sai university came out of the influence of Muddenahalli group. That was, in my considered view, one of the biggest, if not the biggest, turning-the-tide against Muddenahalli event in Prasanthi Nilayam. The trust has also become more strict by taking appropriate action against employees of the trust and associated institutions who are associating with Muddenahalli group.
I am publicly supportive of SSSCT due to these reasons and not just because I live in Puttaparthi. Yes, as I live in Puttaparthi and benefit from SSSCT institutions indirectly, it will be foolish and perhaps ungrateful of me to be openly critical of SSSCT. But then I would choose to remain silent. I would not say untruthful things as that will harm me in my spiritual path.
My public support for SSSCT is not FAKE, even if Mr. Vr Ganti suggests that when he writes, "I also know that since you [referring to me, Ravi S. Iyer] are staying in Parthi you dont have an alternative but to go with the stream and do what is best for you." Mr. Ganti is free to have that opinion. But I would like readers to know that I don't agree with Mr. Ganti and that my positive opinion of SSSCT, and support for SSSCT, is truthful and genuine. Others may have a different opinion - that's fine, they are entitled to their view.
Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Mr Vr Ganti writes (addressed to Alok Dara Shikoh but readable by others too), "Did you read my note about Satish Naik Garu, sort of terrorizing me by reaching out to my family and wants to create a rift in my family. Poor chap does not know that my family members will not ask me to stop what I am doing because they said that I can do whatever I feel is OK and if it keeps me happy."
I would like to say to all readers that Satish Naik is a good friend of mine who has been very helpful to me in understanding the Muddenahalli saga of so called communicator and the activities of Muddenhalli group. I value his friendship and will be loyal/biased towards him.
Having said that, I would like to share with readers that I checked with him about the messages he sent to Mr. Ganti's family and what his motives were for that. He told me that there was absolutely NO MOTIVE of threatening Mr. Ganti at all. Satish said that he wanted to alert Mr. Ganti's family members about Mr. Ganti's rather extreme posts against trustees of Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust and the harm it was causing to Prasanthi Nilayam image (in social media, at least). Satish hoped that Mr. Ganti's family members would be able to speak to him and convince him to stop writing and circulating such extreme posts against SSSCT trustees.
Satish took the utmost care, I was told by him, to use very polite language. He referred to Mr. Ganti's daughter-in-law as Akka (elder sister). She does not seem to have taken objection to Satish's messages and has responded politely to Satish, which Satish kindly shared with me.
But Mr. Ganti has twisted these words into a threat and alleged that Shri R.J. Rathnakar is behind these imagined threats to him!!! From my interactions with Satish, including one that I had a little while back today, I have been assured that not only was there no threat intended in these polite messages sent to Mr. Ganti's family by Satish, but that Shri R.J. Rathnakar was not involved at all in these messages being sent.
Now Mr. Ganti may not believe me and have the view that I now am only a mouthpiece of Satish Naik and perhaps of Shri R.J. Rathnakar too. That is his right and I cannot do anything about him holding such a view. But readers will know that I try very hard to say the truth as I see it (or as far as I know). If some matters are sensitive I may choose to stay silent but I do not say (or try very hard not to say) falsehood knowingly. I may sometimes have been given wrong/false information which I share without knowing that it is false - that is different from knowingly saying false things, which I don't do (or try very hard not to).
Mr. Ganti is of the view that if Andhra Pradesh government takes over SSSCT it will be wonderful and so has even quoted some Writ Petition dated 2013 made in Andhra Pradesh High Court on those lines, in a recent Facebook post of his. In my view, Andhra Pradesh government taking over SSSCT will strongly politicize SSSCT and the Sathya Sai movement. Then Prasanthi Nilayam and Sathya Sai movement key decisions will be influenced by the political party/coalition that is in power in Andhra Pradesh at a given time! I think that would be a significant problem for Prasanthi Nilayam and associated institutions, and the Sathya Sai movement, and so I am against any such efforts (govt. taking over SSSCT).
Of course, if SSSCT is taken over by the government, as government (and courts) are supreme, I and everybody else, including trustees of SSSCT will have to accept that. But I consider it my duty to Kali Yuga Avatar, Shiva-Shakti Swarupa, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, my beloved Gurudev, to PUBLICLY express my view that, as of now, I am NOT IN FAVOUR OF (I am against) any move to have government take over SSSCT.