Last updated on 24th Dec. 2016
I have heard some persons in Prasanthi Nilayam say that Swami has said that for good work, money will come on its own. The implication was that if somebody wants to do some Seva activity that is good, money will never be a problem, and that that is Swami's assurance.
Now I have heard from many people about how careful Swami would be with money. One person who had many interactions with Swami about lots of work that he had done for Swami in Prasanthi Nilayam, told me that once when he asked Swami for money for the work, Swami responded on the lines of - Dabbu, Dabbu, Dabbu! Ekadnunchi vastundi Dabbu? That translates to - Money, money, money! From where will the money come? [Update: What I have written here about the person who did PN work for Swami, was about him asking Swami for money to pay labour and materials for work that Swami directly ordered him to do. This would have been in or around the 1970s and 1980s (or perhaps even the 1990s).]
This was the way Swami ensured that that person would know how carefully one should use money for Swami's work in Prasanthi Nilayam itself.
I also remember one situation when I was serving in the Sai university (free service from Jan 2003 to Mar. 2012 with designations of Honorary Staff, Honorary Faculty and Visiting Faculty) when concern was raised by the vice-chancellor to the HOD of the dept. I was in, about high current usage by the dept. and therefore high electric bill. The HOD told me that the VC told the HOD that if current usage was not within limits, DIVINE SANCTION would be required (for paying the higher electric bill)!! In other words, the VC said that he would have to take special sanction from Swami for higher than normal current usage, and so higher than normal electric bill. I was told that Swami used to sign checks himself for such expenses of university (and other institutions in Prasanthi Nilayam system, I presume) even in 2003/2004 (and maybe some other later years as well).
So the very clear impression I got was that till Mahasamadhi, money expenses in Prasanthi Nilayam were always under a lot of rigid control. Even salaries of paid staff were significantly lower than what it became a few months after Mahasamadhi.
After Mahasamadhi, I think there have been a lot of changes in thinking about such financial matters in Sathya Sai fraternity in general. In particular, some group(s) not related to Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust (I don't want to name such group(s) in this post), seem to have embarked upon rather frenzied institution building. Free School after free school, free hospital after free hospital, are being embarked upon! On the one hand, I am very happy with the service to humanity/society rendered but one wonders whether such projects can be sustained over time and one wonders about the challenges involved to maintain good quality of services. There are also past grand announcements of free school in every district in a state of India and recent announcement of new free hospital inauguration in Maharashtra (if I got that right) by next year-end, by that group!
Given this context, I thought it appropriate to look up discourses of Swami where he talks about funds for service projects. I view such discourses of (physical form) Sathya Sai as vital references about what his guidance was, and is, to the Sathya Sai fraternity about these matters. Given below are extracts from three discourses.
Extract from http://sssbpt.info/ssspeaks/volume03/sss03.pdf, Discourse 26, Meeting of the Trustees, Mysore City, 1963-09-15
I know also that you are worried about funds for the completion of your plans. Sunandamma even asked Me to show the way! Well, He who showed the way so long will do so hereafter also. This will be completed; otherwise, I would not have laid the foundation stone. Good works never languish for want of funds; the Lord will come to their rescue. Only it may take some time, so do not lose heart. The orange is quite bitter when it is green, but time gradually sweetens it into a delicious fruit. Patience and strenuous effort will get rewarded.
I must tell you, however, that for such good causes as this, do not collect money in devious ways. Help should come (from) pious hearts, from well-earned money, from persons who know and appreciate the purpose for which they give. That is why I oppose all benefit shows, where you tempt people with a dance or a drama or a film and collect money for your pet plan. I am also against lotteries, where the lure of getting a big prize for which one does not do anything, a prize collected out of other people’s earning, is used for the collection of funds.
Let each one give out of the fullness of his heart, on their own initiative, whatever they can give gladly after studying well the present work and the future possibilities of the institution. Your duty is only to inform. Do not try even to persuade. Begging for the sake of work that is inherently good is an insult to human nature —the one who asks and the one who is asked are both demeaned.
I want to give you this courage and this confidence. Carry on in a spirit of humility and fortitude, and you will succeed.
--- end extract ---
Extracts from http://www.sssbpt.info/ssspeaks/volume08/sss08-44.pdf, Prashaanthi Nilayam, 21-11-1968 [Note that the discourse seems to be addressed to district presidents of Sai orgn.]
Do not seek to exercise authority over others; seek rather to discover chances to be useful to them. When one neglects his duties, the positions of authority start causing headaches. Be a servant; a servant of God--then, all strength and joy will be added unto you. Try to be a master; then, you will arouse envy, hatred, anger and greed in every one around you. Feel that you are an instrument in His Hand; let Him shape you and use you as He knows best.
I was perusing the reports you gave Me on the points I had placed for your consideration. I must say that your suggestions regarding the raising of funds were uniformly bad. On this point, all of you are of one mind and that is not satisfactory to Me. Money is fundamentally rajoguna (quality of passion), fraught with danger and harm. Like the bees which collect and store honey for a future day, man too stores and collects money; but, alas, the bees are smoked out and the honey is stolen. I do not agree with any of your ideas to collect and store money. I do not like your going about collecting funds, or raising donations.
I assure you that funds will come, provided you sincerely pray, for every worthy cause. Have that faith; and watch the funds flow in. The sages of ancient times celebrated many yajnas, with no resources other than faith and sincerity. Now you are moved more by pride, by anxiety, by want of confidence; so you are not giving My suggestion of the box-with-the-slit to be filled secretly by members only, one after the other, any trial!
Moreover, I must tell you that not much money is needed for many of the items of work. Yearning in the heart, Name on the tongue---these are enough for Bhajan and Nagara sankeerthan. The Gopees (milk-maids of Bridhaavan) sang the Name of God when they churned the pots for butter, in the early morning hours. The bangles on their wrists jingled the time, the (whirl) of the rods in the pots provided the background tune, and the fragrant morning breeze carried the song into every neighbouring ear.
You need not collect an impressive crowd; you need no costly paraphernalia; they are superfluous impediments.
Do not spend much on lecturers and speakers. If any crave for monetary rewards or showy receptions, keep such at arm's length. A chair and a table will be quite ample; loudspeakers are a luxury for most of your meetings. They have become more status symbols than necessities. Set yourselves out as examples to organisations round about you, in the careful husbanding of resources and in avoiding wasteful expenditure. Have only as many gatherings as you can afford; do not call them together, because you must! People must look forward to them, and not feel they are too many.
--- end extract ----
Extracts from http://www.sssbpt.info/ssspeaks/volume34/sss34-02.pdf, Inauguration of SSSIHMS, 19th January 2001, Whitefield, Bangalore. [Note that this is at the super hospital Bangalore inauguration in 2001 and so should be viewed as very relevant to us in Dec. 2016 which is only close to sixteen years after Jan. 2001.]
We don’t have any distinction of caste, creed, religion and nationality. We offer free treatment to everybody. We are determined to offer free treatment, come what may, even if we have to take loans. We are prepared to spend any amount of money; safeguarding the life of patients is our main objective. All of you, particularly doctors, should learn this lesson. Eschew greed for money; develop love and spirit of sacrifice. Then money will come to you automatically.
Our Prime Minister Vajpayee took great pains to come here. Leaders like him are very essential for this world. He is a leader who supports and encourages noble causes like this. Ministers who extend their cooperation for good causes are very much necessary for the nation to progress. They should have noble feelings and love for God to attain Divine grace. There is nothing that one cannot achieve if one has Divine grace. Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu (May the whole world be happy!) That is My desire. I am prepared to do anything for this. I am prepared to sacrifice even My life for the welfare of humanity. Of what use is the life of one who does not aspire for the welfare of humanity? I always wish for the well being of others. My feelings are always pure and sacred. If your feelings and intentions are noble, you need not be worried about money; it will come to your doorstep.
Embodiments of Love!
We have caused great inconvenience to you by making you wait for a long time. You are all very tired having been sitting here patiently for the last three to four hours. Having taken part in this congregation, may you develop the spirit of sacrifice and spend your time, wealth and energy in the service of the poor! This is what I desire from you. I do not ask anything from anybody. Help the poor in every possible way. Feed the hungry. Food is God. Do not waste food. Do not waste money. Money makes many wrongs. Misuse of money is evil. The rich squander their wealth in drinking and gambling. Money should be put to proper use. One should not spend as one pleases. Do not waste energy and do not waste time. These are the four important principles that a man should adhere to. Time wasted is life wasted. Instead of wasting time in vain gossip, utilise it to serve society. Help everybody to the extent possible. This is what I expect you to do. Come and see it for yourself the work that is being done here with the spirit of sacrifice, and experience bliss. Here you will find the poor with happiness and joy on their faces. You should see to it that the poor lead a healthy and happy life. That should be your aim in life. Paropakara Punyaya Papaya Parapeedanam (one attains merit by serving others and commits sin by harming them). I bless you all so that you may attain the deservedness to see the happiness of the poor.
--- end extracts ---
In the above 2001 discourse (Whitefield, Bangalore hospital inauguration) extract, Swami said, "All of you, particularly doctors, should learn this lesson. Eschew greed for money; develop love and spirit of sacrifice. Then money will come to you automatically." And he also said, "If your feelings and intentions are noble, you need not be worried about money; it will come to your doorstep."
Ravi: I think the key attributes in the above quotes are noble intentions and feelings like love and spirit of sacrifice, and absence of greed. If these attributes are there in the leaders and staff/workers of a major Seva project like a free hospital or a free school, then Swami says that money will come to their doorstep.
But if some group is motivated by ambition to be viewed as great spiritual empire builders and imbued with a spirit of competition/one-upmanship with the very trust and organisations that (physical form) Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba himself founded and guided over a period of decades, I think Swami (Bhagavan) would not view such a group as having noble attributes. And if the leaders of the group are motivated by greed so that they can have a very comfortable/luxurious lifestyle using donor money (as against using their own money), then I think such usage of donor money would fit the statements in the same above 2001 discourse extract, "Do not waste money. Money makes many wrongs. Misuse of money is evil." I mean, such usage of donor money to support a very comfortable/luxurious lifestyle of the leaders of the group, has to be viewed as evil misuse of money, as per Swami's words.
Readers may want to view my related post, Opening and running Sathya Sai schools is not easy; Swami preferred that St. Andrews Scotland school be shut down (around 2009) when it faced money problems, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2016/12/opening-and-running-sathya-sai-schools.html.
[I thank sssbpt.info and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's discourses from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]