Last updated on 18th Jan 2017
In Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/vr.ganti.1/posts/10208518716910084, published on Jan. 14th 2017, I had the following comment exchanges with Mr. V.R. Ganti and Mr. Alok Dara Shikoh.
Ravi S. Iyer wrote (slightly edited):
Vr Ganti sir, I am a supporter of SSSCT (Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust) in general. The plain fact of the matter is that when Swami was in physical form, that physical form drew donors and service minded people towards him like a magnet. Now that physical form is not there. SSSCT has done a great job in ensuring that even without the magnetic physical form presence they have kept all the ashram institutions functioning. To retain full time paid staff SSSCT seems to have had no choice but to increase salaries significantly after Mahasamadhi. These are the realities on the ground. Blaming SSSCT for anything and everything is wrong. They are doing their best given the challenges, including the Muddenahalli group divisive challenge.
Vr Ganti wrote:
No No I dont agree at all and I know you will say that I could always have a different view and so on. No problem Sir. But the fact is that Trustees are compromising. Why should --name-snipped-- send out messages to --name-snipped-- seeking money for Free Meal proposal which I believe is already into problems. In any case what is the latest on that front?
Also I am told that --name-snipped-- is involved with Mhalli though I am not aware of any thing about that. I dont also find time to do research on that for the time being.
Ravi S. Iyer responded (branch/nested comment response to above comment):
I do not want to comment on these matters sir. I hope you understand. Thanks.
Vr Ganti wrote:
I know Sir, eventually this is how the discussions end up. Never mind. Have great time.
Alok Dara Shikoh wrote:
True Ganti ji. When the counters are proposed after a certain limit, the discussions are no longer sustained by some parties... for instance we saw this in the case of discussions on. 'how Britishers used Indian children as baits for crocodile
Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Alok Dara Shikoh, Vr Ganti - How many times have I got to say that I typically do not get involved in matters dealing with SSSCT trustees??? If you people get fun from baiting me then it is best that I stay away from such conversations. NO TOLERANCE for a person's choice not to get involved in certain matters!!! And then such baiting!!! If you people have the guts go file a court complaint against whoever you feel is doing some big wrongs. Why be only social media tigers!!! Hai Dum to court me case dalo!!!
Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Britishers using children as bait was not part of any discussion I started. Alok Dara Shikoh said it - I was not interested in that topic. So how does that become partial discussion choice on my part??? Who is Alok Dara shikoh to demand that I participate in whatever he chooses to raise???
Alok Dara Shikoh wrote:
Ravi sir, my apologies if I caused agony in anyway. You have complete freedom to withdraw from a discussion at any stage and I totally respect your choice it is after all your freedom. My apologies if u felt that I was pressuring you to forcefully participate in a discussion at any point thatyou are not interested in. let me clarify the two citations again:
Event1: you posted a post and the resulting discussion was tending towards praising Britishers and their rule over India and their supposed humane approach to ruling their colonies.
Event2: I furnished evidence saying that Britishers were savages... that they used Hindu children as bait for their crocodile hunting sport
Event3: you withdrew from the conversation saying that u don't want to participate in that angle of the discussion and I totally respected that and also agreed to the deletion of the post with that had a pictorial proof from a newspaper of Britishers using Indian babies as bait
Event1: you posted material praising mother Teresa as a messiah of service and humanity.
Event2: I posted personal example where mother Teresa's organization denied medical help unless the sufferer converts to Christianity
Event3: you indicated that u don't want to participate in that angle of the discussion and I totally respected that and didn't continue too much further
Event 4: I also asked in passing why you seem to highlight the great work done by missionaries and the people of other religions and not give highlight and importance to the work being done by Hindu leaders (Baba ramdev, Sri Sri etc)
Event 5: you again implied that you wouldn't like to comment on that and I totally respected that. You did mention that Sri Ramana maharshi is someone I do respect however.
Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
@alok dara shihok. Thanks for your polite reply. Please see my responses below.
Citation 1, Event1: In that discussion did I mention that the British were humane in their colonization of India? I think it would be difficult for both you and me to locate that particular Facebook post. If you could, I would be glad to look up that post's conversation and see the views I have expressed there.
But here are some of my views from one of my blogs: http://ravisiyermisc.blogspot.in/. These reflect my publicly expressed stands & views on the matter.
a) Ravi S. Iyer wrote: The reality of British rule over India was exploitation of India like how many conquerors exploit the conquered. If some good was done by the British to India it was incidental. Their main motive was exploitation and loot. As simple as that. .... The 13 colonies of the USA that revolted against British rule revolted due to similar reasons! So, in that sense, India and the USA share a common bond of exploitation in the past by Great Britain! [Source: http://ravisiyermisc.blogspot.in/2016/10/oppression-and-subjugation-in-human.html]
b) This is an entire post giving my views (including views of notable persons with whom I agree): India's education systems would have improved even without British rule; Macaulay's great damage to traditional Indian knowledge systems, http://ravisiyermisc.blogspot.in/2016/11/indias-literacy-levels-and-education.html
c) Another entire post: MP Shashi Tharoor makes a classy case of why Britain should atone for its colonization sins and say, Sorry, http://ravisiyermisc.blogspot.in/2015/07/shashi-tharoor-makes-classy-case-of-why.html
d) You may want to see the summary part of my very long post, How the British colonized India, http://ravisiyermisc.blogspot.in/2016/01/how-british-colonized-india.html. A very small extract from the summary conclusion is given below:
Given the analysis above, I find the view that a lack of cohesiveness and unity as a country allowed 300 Brits to divide and conquer India, to be a false and ridiculous Western-world-centric and Western-world-hero-worshipping view of how the British colonized India.
e) Large extract from my post: Role of Indian Quislings in British conquest of India; De-industrialization of India after 1750; Re-emergence of India (and China), http://ravisiyermisc.blogspot.in/2016/05/quislings-role-in-british-conquest-of.html
Ravi: This battle, and Clive directly being kingmaker of the Nawab of Bengal, paved the way for the British to conquer India militarily and then, like all conquerors, use the conquered land and people for the benefit of the conqueror. From the wiki again about the economic impact of British rule in India after this pivotal battle in 1757, "The Battle of Plassey and the resultant victory of the British East India company led to puppet governments instated by them in various states of India. This led to an unleashing of excesses, malpractices and atrocities by the British East India Company in the name of tax collection.
This led to largescale detrimental impact on the economy of India (the Indian subcontinent). Research by Simmons (1985) and Harvard Scholars Clingingsmith and Williamson concluded that India's share of world manufacturing output fell from 24.5% in 1750 to a paltry 2.8% in 1880, 1.4% in 1913 and a 2.4% in 1938, based on earlier findings by Simmons (1985)."
Ravi: Mind you, the scholars mentioned above are Harvard University, USA scholars and not Indian scholars. Essentially, India got de-industrialized BIGTIME, got reduced to raw material provider to the British industries, and a market for some finished goods as well.
The reference for the figures in the last sentence in the quoted section above is as follows:
Clingingsmith, David; Williamson, Jeffrey (2005). India's Deindustrialization in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Harvard, MA: Harvard University.
So it is the Harvard scholars in 2005 who are saying that India got de-industrialized in the 18th and 19th centuries, not Indian scholars or Indian politicians.
Undoubtedly there were some positive aspects to English rule over India, especially for the Hindus. Mind you, prior to the English, the Mughal empire and/or smaller Muslim kingdoms (ruled by nawabs) were holding sway over large portions of India for centuries, with some of the Mughal emperors like Aurangzeb and also some of the smaller Muslim nawabs, being noted for destroying temples, some amount of persecution of Hindus, and encouraging conversion of Hindus & other non-Muslims to Islam.
I think in those areas that were under Mughal rule (e.g. Bengal and Delhi) as well as in smaller Muslim kingdoms, the non-Muslims (mainly Hindus) may have even welcomed the British as a less oppressive ruler. Some South Indian Hindu kingdoms either managed to somehow fight off Muslim rule or had it for short periods of time (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travancore)
But, the fact was that even under Muslim rule, Indian economy was doing quite well for those days. The British de-industrialized India - this would have been like how in our times, manufacturing jobs of the USA have gone to other countries like China and some services jobs of the USA have gone to other countries like India, leaving the worker and lower-level staff people (large numbers of people) high & dry.
As part of administration of India, the British Raj after 1850s, brought in changes in Indian education, revenue gathering, courts ... (I don't know the details and the dates). Essentially the British systems of administration were introduced in India. That certainly helped India get exposed to and advance in fields like (Western) science & technology (as against traditional Indian knowledge systems related to material world), Western commercial accounting and administration, Western law, Western philosophy etc. A lot was gained from these areas, I am sure. Though I think a lot of ancient Indian wisdom and knowledge systems got neglected. After India gained independence in 1947, slowly and steadily ancient Indian wisdom and knowledge systems have been made more important in India, and a blend of Western knowledge systems and ancient Indian knowledge systems is what is aimed at by some sections of Indian educationalists.
To conclude, surely India did gain some positives from British rule. However, it was not altruism that led the British to rule India. Like all conquerors in history, British rule in India was focused on exploiting India for the economic benefit of the British. By the time the British left India in 1947, a country that was having around a quarter (25 %) of the World's GDP before the British conquest of India started in the mid-1750s, had been reduced to a World GDP share of around one-tenth of that - 2.5%.
... Citation1, Event 2 to be followed.
Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Citation 1, Event 2 & 3: Britishers using Hindu (or perhaps even non-Hindu) children as bait for their crocodile hunting sport. I avoided this topic as it is a gruesome topic that may put off many people and also that one will need to look at how many such cases occurred and whether it was a practice that significant number of Britishers indulged in. Usually, it seems to me, it is academics who make a study of such matters and then publish a paper in a prestigious peer reviewed academic publication, that become a source of certified knowledge. You had shared one newspaper article clipping image, if I recall correctly. That alone, from what I know about these matters, cannot be accepted as certified knowledge that significant number of Britishers engaged in the horrendous practice of using Hindu (and perhaps other non-Hindu Indians) children as bait for their crocodile hunting sport. An article in a reputed publication documenting such abuses makes it far more credible as certified knowledge. A newspaper clipping image alone is not enough. I did not want to get into these explanations then and chose to simply indicate that I preferred not to get into that gruesome topic. BTW rape of captured women in war or in colonies and their use as sex slaves is another very gruesome topic that I prefer to avoid. For me, it is too ghastly to discuss these topics in platforms like Facebook. But others may not feel that way - I respect that. I leave these gruesome topics mainly for historians to document. I do read such histories at times to note the gruesome realities of such events in history but I typically do not publicly share that info.
Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Citation 2: I think I was able to locate my Facebook post where we had that exchange. It is this one: https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/1786671618216074. Our exchange is a branch within your top-level comment on that post of mine.
Event 3: I DID NOT SAY that I don't want to participate in that discussion. Instead as you can see from the above Facebook post, I responded as follows to your comment:
Alok Dara Shikoh, I condemn any such preferential service rendered on basis of religion/conversion to any religion, to Bhopal Gas tragedy victims. The issue in such matters is evidence. Navin Chawla's book (Navin Chawla is a Hindu, if I recall correctly) does not cover any such stuff in any way.
--- end my comment on that FB post ---
Event 4: In this Facebook post in one comment you wrote, "Indian media tends to glorify non-Hindu preachers, activists, philanthropists in a very grand way and chooses to disproportionately focus only on the bad things about Hindu preachers, activists and philanthropists. " and in a following comment you wrote, "And the sad part is that when I talk to Hindus about this, there is dispassion/disconnection and a don't-care attitude... For instance when I was talking to a Hindu Sai devotee friend about another Hindu guru, he proudly quoted media saying that Hindu guru is all about fraud and was willing to brand him as fraud...". But you DID NOT ASK ME SPECIFICALLY why I don't support and highlight work done by other Hindu gurus (like Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar). So I don't think you are right there.
But let me respond to your point now. See, I do write about some other Hindu gurus who are living now like Mata Amritanandamayi. I have not studied Baba Ramdev's philosophical teachings so I simply don't know enough to comment. On (Hatha) Yoga, I think my only post has been when the Yoga teacher B.K.S. Iyengar passed away. I mean, (Hatha) yoga is not my area of writing interest, as of now. About Sri Sri Ravi Shankar - I have seen some videos of his. I appreciated some of his work but I felt more comfortable with AmritanandaMayi style/approach. So I don't think I have written any post on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. I mean, he is undoubtedly a renowned spiritual leader but I am not into reading about his movement and so don't know enough about him to make a post even if I wanted to.
I have posted about ISKCON as I had some exposure to it. I have posted about Nisargadatta and Ramana Maharshi as I have studied their writings and have been inspired by them.
I posted about Mother Teresa when she was canonized as I have genuinely been impressed by what I have read about her in Navin Chawla (former chief Election commissioner)'s authorised biography of her and I found it to be inspirational when I had to leave Sai university in very difficult circumstances in March-June 2012, and was wondering about what next to do in my life & in my spiritual journey. How Mother Teresa started her mission with very little money and catered to sick and very poor people, as described in Navin Chawla's book, was deeply inspirational to me.
So your comment that I do not highlight work of other Hindu spiritual leaders and instead highlight great work done by missionaries and people of other religions is WRONG. I HAVE HIGHLIGHTED work of some Hindu leaders besides the two Sai Babas in my blog. However, I do blog about leaders from other religions who I feel inspired by, which includes Mother Teresa.
Now I am not saying Mother Teresa did not have flaws. You alleged one serious flaw that she denied help to non-Christians who refused to convert, and I have mentioned my comment response above. The late Christopher Hitchens was a trenchant critic of Mother Teresa. I have read his criticism and seen some videos of his critical talk(s) too. I do not know enough of Mother Teresa to be able to accept/reject Hitchens' view. But please note that I do not take a view that Mother Teresa DID NOT HAVE FLAWS. There is criticism but I don't know for sure about it. That's my view.
Alok Dara Shikoh wrote:
Thank your for the elaborate research Ravi ji. I appreciate your promptness and I will definitely rectify some areas of my understanding of what happened in those posts
[Ravi Facebook-liked the above comment of Alok Dara Shikoh.]
Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Alok Dara Shikoh, Vr Ganti: I hope my above responses clearly show that Alok Dara Shikoh's view that I choose to quit partial discussions when I want, is NOT JUSTIFIED. In other words, I DO NOT QUIT a debate when it becomes inconvenient for me. It is just that there are some gruesome topics and some sensitive topics which I like to avoid.
Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Vr Ganti sir, I felt it appropriate to give a longer response to your top-level comment in this branch than my initial response (first comment in the branch) which I repeat here, " I do not want to comment on these matters sir. I hope you understand. Thanks."
Here's my more detailed response to prevent any misunderstanding of my above comment.
You state that you disagree with my view that (overall) SSSCT has done a great job in ensuring that even without the magnetic physical form presence of Bhagavan they have kept all the ashram institutions functioning. Fine. We each have our different viewpoints here and we have also argued about it in the past.
But you also raised some other points like SSSCT trustee compromising, free meal scheme running into some problems supposedly, and one trustee supposedly sending messages to one of India's topmost corporate icons seeking funds for the free meal scheme. You also mentioned that that trustee is involved with Muddenahalli group. It is to these points that I referred when I said in my first response that I do not want to comment on these matters.
But now let me also tell you why I do not want to comment. First and foremost reason is that I am an indirect, and sometimes direct, beneficiary of the free services provided by SSSCT funded institutions in Puttaparthi like the free hospital services. SSSCT also plays a vital role in ensuring water supply to outside ashram Puttaparthi town especially when (e.g. summer time) the individual bore wells do not provide enough water to many private buildings in outside ashram Puttaparthi (I live in one such private building apartment in outside ashram Puttaparthi). And quite importantly, SSSCT is highly respected by local police authorities due to which devotees of Bhagavan who do not involve themselves in business/money-earning activities in outside ashram Puttaparthi, are typically not harassed by outside ashram Puttaparthi youth leaders and other leaders. Without SSSCT being respected by local police authorities I think the situation could easily have been different like in most rural areas in Rayalaseema where muscle power plays a big role. I am very grateful to SSSCT for its influence over, and interactions with, local police authorities in ensuring a peaceful and hassle-free life for non-business and non-money-earning Sai devotees in outside ashram Puttaparthi.
Given the above, it would be ungrateful of me to criticize SSSCT. I believe that Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba laid great stress on gratitude to those who help us - "Ingratitude is a sin" or words to that effect were (and perhaps are still) put up in one of the posters in the approach road to the ashram in Puttaparthi town.
But, in this context, as I have been criticized for not engaging with your comment, let me make an exception.
Ganti sir, you are stating that trustees are compromising on Bhagavan's teachings as one trustee has solicited funds from one industrialist. Now my problem is that I don't know what is the truth here. You have named the trustee. Ideally, that particular trustee should let us know whether what you say is truthful or not. But then SSSCT trustees typically do not respond to such questions or comments. That is their policy, which is how it was when Bhagavan was in physical form too.
If the trustee responds confirming/denying your statement, and providing additional info. then, if I wanted to get involved in this matter, I would have some basis to analyze the matter and give my response. Now I just don't know what the truth is!
Then you referred to Free Meal proposal and some problems supposedly with it, and asked what is the latest on it. I simply don't know. And I don't think it is appropriate for me to ask around.
Finally you said that you were "told" that the trustee you referred to earlier "is involved with Mhalli though I am not aware of any thing about that". Now, you yourself are not sure about the matter. Somebody said something and you have conveyed that. In my over fourteen years life in Puttaparthi I have heard all sorts of wild and unfounded rumours many of which turned out to be either completely false or sometimes wildly exaggerated. And for some of the false rumours I have wondered whether they had been DELIBERATELY PLANTED to achieve some hidden agenda of some people. I myself was FALSELY shown along with two other free service teachers in the Sai university ITSELF as Teaching Assistant, even though at least two of us (and probably the third too) were given Visiting Faculty designations on signed identity cards by principal of Prasanthi Nilayam campus!! And the Head of the department where two of us provided free service for years, and the Registrar of the Sai university, seemed to sadistically enjoy their Teacher-Droham-paapam (harmful sinful act against teachers) actions instead of following Sathya & Dharma!!! This is MY DIRECT personal experience of Sai university Asathya-Adharma crook and Teacher-Drohi-Paapi administrators who did these actions in the DIVINE PRESENCE OF PHYSICAL FORM BHAGAVAN SRI SATHYA SAI BABA!!!
So, in Puttaparthi especially, one has to first ascertain whether the information provided by somebody, no matter how high his/her official designation may be, is truthful or not. When you yourself have reported the matter about the trustee being involved with Muddenahalli group but in the same sentence you are saying you are not aware of anything about that, I have to view such statements as being an unverified rumour. And that is a serious charge against a trustee of SSSCT!!! How can I comment on such a rumour which is a serious charge against a trustee of SSSCT!!!
I hope this comment of mine explains why it is not appropriate for me to engage in discussions with Ganti sir on such detail level matters related to SSSCT. Thanks.
Vr Ganti wrote:
To be honest - nothing new. Ok Sir. Thanks for your comment
[Ravi S. Iyer Facebook-liked the above comment of Ganti sir.]
Terry Reis Kennedy wrote:
Ravi S. Iyer Sometimes people simply refuse to accept a person's clear statements. This is why it is important to continue commenting. In this way, our thoughts on a subject become clearer. And, there have been instances where a dissenter becomes an ally when the conversations are cordial. Thank you for your post. I, for one, do appreciate your honest opinion regarding the SSSCT. They are doing a superb job. The ashram grounds are so beautifully maintained, for instance. In the 26 years I've lived here, I've never seen them looking so lush and groomed. Aum Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
Ravi S. Iyer responded:
Well, Terry Reis Kennedy, the truth is that I try to avoid criticizing SSSCT. But I don't, at least deliberately, say falsehood to support SSSCT. When I am appreciative of SSSCT I say so because I genuinely think so, and not to curry favour with anybody.