Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Post-Mahasamadhi Sathya Sai movement infighting reminds me regularly of Nobel Prize-winning author William Golding's 1954 novel, "Lord of the Flies"

Last updated on 18-Feb-2017

The period of around a year from around June 2011, a little while after Bhagavan's Mahasamadhi (April end 2011), till June 2012 was one of the worst periods of my life from an emotional trauma point of view (which also affected my health).

Bhagavan's Mahasamadhi function itself was, very thankfully, a very emotional and moving tribute to Bhagavan from lakhs (tens of thousands) of his devotees. I felt privileged to personally witness this extraordinary exhibition of love, gratitude, emotional attachment, devotion and/or just plain respect to/for physical form of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba from people across a wide spectrum of society, including the poor and the rich, the unknown and the famous, the ordinary Indian citizen and the powerful Indian political office holders including prime minister, national political party heads, governors, chief ministers, ministers etc. - essentially, men, women and children from all walks and positions of life. Perhaps it is when we lose somebody (at physical form level) who we love deeply that we experience very deep outpouring of love for him/her, and it may have been somewhat similar for many of Bhagavan's devotees coming to the Mahasamadhi function. For as long as I live, I shall cherish memories of this exhibition of love, gratitude, devotion etc. to Bhagavan over the three day Mahasamadhi function. And this includes how the town of Puttaparthi expressed its love and gratitude for Bhagavan, and how the townsfolk geared up, in the midst of their deep sorrow, to serve the huge crowds of devotees that came to have their last glimpse of Bhagavan's beloved physical form.

Having said the above, I must also say that nothing that I have faced in my life comes close to the bitterness, infighting and power mongering, and resultant chaos, confusion and trauma that I, in part, directly experienced and, in part, got reliable reports about, in the Sai university in particular, and in Prasanthi Nilayam system in general in the above mentioned period. Note that for most of this period (till March 2012) I was associated with the Sai university as a FREE SERVICE Visiting Faculty.

With Sai university alumnus, Madhusudan Rao Naidu, bursting on the scene in public in May 2014 with his FALSE CLAIM of being a so called communicator of a so called subtle body of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba based in Muddenahalli, fully endorsed by Shri B.N. Narasimhamurthy, former warden of Sai university, and with support from former vice-chancellor of Sai university, Sashidhara Prasad, as well as many alumni of Sai university, this infighting in the Sathya Sai movement came out into the OPEN. In a short period of time, this group, referred to as Muddenahalli group, became a SERIOUS DIVISIVE THREAT to post Mahasamadhi Sathya Sai movement worldwide, and has been misguiding thousands of Sathya Sai devotees worldwide till date by promoting and spreading the FALSE CLAIM of so called communicator Madhusudan Rao Naidu.

Over these five and three quarter years now after Mahasamadhi, I have, on many occasions, been reminded of a book I read some decades ago in my youth - Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, Nobel-prize winning author. Note that the Sai university is now dominated by Sai university alumni who hold the majority of powerful administrative positions in it. Further, both in Prasanthi Nilayam ashram system as well as in Muddenahalli group, Sai university and Sai schools alumni hold important positions, though their dominance in them (PN & MDH group) is not as much as in Sai university.

Now Bhagavan had clearly indicated that he expected his university and schools' students (alumni) to play a major role in taking his mission forward. So I think the near-total dominance of alumni in Sai university, and somewhat less but still dominant role in Prasanthi Nilayam ashram system, was in line with what Bhagavan wanted.

But I directly experienced horrific arrogance, abuse of power and immaturity, after Bhagavan's Mahasamadhi, from some such alumni who were put into powerful positions in Sai university administration. And some other regular academics in Sai university (I am NOT an academic) who were not alumni and were senior to those alumni raised to such powerful administrative positions, seemed to have felt similarly. That seems to have been a factor in some of these persons, especially those who had crossed retirement age and were paid honoraria, quitting Sai university and exploring opportunities elsewhere (perhaps those opportunities were also offering better pay). In my considered opinion, the spiritual vision of Bhagavan for his university was well understood by these senior academics as they had served for decades under Bhagavan's DIRECT supervision of Sai university, and their moving away has negatively impacted the spiritual mission side of the Sai university.

And then we have the Sai university and schools' alumni divided into two camps now - Prasanthi Nilayam group and Muddenahalli group. The Muddenahalli group so called communicator, Madhusudan Rao Naidu, is a Sai university alumnus!!!

These events seem to have some similarity to the book, Lord of the Flies! Yes, thankfully, there has been no violence and bloodshed between the two PTP (Puttaparthi) and MDH (Muddenahalli) factions. But in terms of non-violent fighting between the two groups and sometimes within each group, like false allegations including misrepresenting and doctoring screenshots, vicious social media attacks involving swear words and nasty personal level allegations, trust board power struggles, academic institution power struggles, court case etc. - we are seeing them all.

Given below are extracts from the wiki page of the book, Lord of the Flies, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_of_the_Flies. I have changed the order of the extracts from how it appears on the wiki page.

--- start wiki page extracts of Lord of the Flies ---

Lord of the Flies is a 1954 novel by Nobel Prize-winning English author William Golding. The book's premise focuses on a group of British boys stranded on an uninhabited island and their attempt to govern themselves, with disastrous results.

...

Themes
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At an allegorical level, the central theme is the conflicting human impulses toward civilization and social organization—living by rules, peacefully and in harmony—and toward the will to power. Themes include the tension between groupthink and individuality, between rational and emotional reactions, and between morality and immorality. How these play out, and how different people feel the influences of these form a major subtext of Lord of the Flies. The name "Lord of the Flies" is a literal translation of Beelzebub, from 2 Kings 1:2–3, 6, 16.
...

Plot
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In the midst of a wartime evacuation, a British aeroplane crashes on or near an isolated island in a remote region of the Pacific Ocean. The only survivors are boys in their middle childhood or preadolescence. Two boys—the fair-haired Ralph and an overweight, bespectacled boy nicknamed "Piggy"—find a conch, which Ralph uses as a horn to congregate all the survivors to one area. Due largely to the fact that Ralph appears responsible for bringing all the survivors together, he immediately commands some authority over the other boys and is quickly elected their "chief", but he does not receive the votes of the members of a boys' choir, led by the red-headed Jack Merridew. Ralph establishes three primary policies: to have fun, survive, and to constantly maintain a smoke signal that could alert passing ships to their presence on the island and thus rescue them. The boys create a form of democracy by declaring that whoever holds the conch shall also be able to speak at their formal gatherings and receive the attentive silence of the larger group.

Jack organises his choir into a hunting party responsible for discovering a food source. Ralph, Jack, and a quiet, dreamy boy named Simon soon form a loose triumvirate of leaders with Ralph as the ultimate authority. Though he is Ralph's only real confidant, Piggy is quickly made into an outcast by his fellow "biguns" (older boys) and becomes an unwilling source of laughs for the other children whilst being hated by Jack. Simon, in addition to supervising the project of constructing shelters, feels an instinctive need to protect the "littluns" (younger boys).

The semblance of order quickly deteriorates as the majority of the boys turn idle; they give little aid in building shelters, spend their time having fun and begin to develop paranoias about the island. The central paranoia refers to a supposed monster, they call the "beast", which they all slowly begin to believe exists on the island. Ralph insists that no such beast exists, but Jack, who has started a power struggle with Ralph, gains a level of control over the group by boldly promising to kill the creature. At one point, Jack summons all of his hunters to hunt down a wild pig, drawing away those assigned to maintain the signal fire. A ship travels by the island, but without the boys' smoke signal to alert the ship's crew, the vessel continues without stopping. Ralph angrily confronts Jack about his failure to maintain the signal; in frustration Jack assaults Piggy, breaking his glasses. The boys subsequently enjoy their first feast. Angered by the failure of the boys to attract potential rescuers, Ralph considers relinquishing his position as leader, but is convinced not to do so by Piggy, who both understands Ralph's importance, and deeply fears what will become of him should Jack take total control.

One night, an aerial battle occurs near the island while the boys sleep, during which a fighter pilot ejects from his plane and dies during the descent. His body drifts down to the island in his parachute; both get tangled in a tree near the top of the mountain. Later on, while Jack continues to scheme against Ralph, twins Sam and Eric, now assigned to the maintenance of the signal fire, see the corpse of the fighter pilot and his parachute in the dark. Mistaking the corpse for the beast, they run to the cluster of shelters that Ralph and Simon have erected to warn the others. This unexpected meeting again raises tensions between Jack and Ralph. Shortly thereafter, Jack decides to lead a party to the other side of the island, where a mountain of stones, later called Castle Rock, forms a place where he claims the beast resides. Only Ralph and a quiet suspicious boy, Jack's closest supporter Roger, agree to go; Ralph turns back shortly before the other two boys but eventually all three see the parachutist whose head rises via the wind; they then flee, now believing the beast is truly real. When they arrive at the shelters, Jack calls an assembly and tries to turn the others against Ralph, asking for them to remove him from his position. Receiving no support Jack storms off alone to form his own tribe. Roger immediately sneaks off to join Jack, and slowly an increasing amount of older boys abandon Ralph to join Jack's tribe. Jack's tribe continues to lure in recruits from the main group by promising feasts of cooked pig. The members begin to paint their faces and enact bizarre rituals including sacrifices to the beast.

Simon, who faints frequently and is likely an epileptic, has a secret hideaway where he goes to be alone. One day while he is there, Jack and his followers erect a faux sacrifice to the beast nearby: a severed pig's head, mounted on a sharpened stick, and soon swarming with scavenging flies. Simon conducts an imaginary dialog with the head, which he dubs the "Lord of the Flies". The head mocks Simon's notion that the beast is a real entity, "something you could hunt and kill", and reveals the truth: they, the boys, are the beast; it is inside them all. The Lord of the Flies also warns Simon that he is in danger, because he represents the soul and spirit of man, and predicts that the others will kill him. Simon climbs the mountain alone and discovers that the beast is only a dead parachutist trapped by rocks being moved by the wind. Rushing down to tell the others Simon is killed. He is seen by the boys who are engaged in a ritual dance, the frenzied boys mistake Simon for the beast, attack him, and beat him to death.

Jack and his rebel band decide that the real symbol of power on the island is not the conch, but Piggy's glasses—the only means the boys have of starting a fire. They raid Ralph's camp, confiscate the glasses, and return to their abode on Castle Rock. Ralph, now deserted by most of his supporters, journeys to Castle Rock to confront Jack and secure the glasses. Taking the conch and accompanied only by Piggy, Sam, and Eric, Ralph finds the tribe and demands that they return the valuable object. Confirming their total rejection of Ralph's authority the tribe capture and bound the twins under Jack's command. Ralph and Jack engage in a physical fight which neither wins before Piggy tries once more to address the tribe. Any sense of order or safety is permanently eroded when Roger, now sadistic, deliberately drops a boulder from his vantage point above, brutally killing Piggy and shattering the conch. Ralph manages to escape, but Sam and Eric are tortured by Roger until they agree to join Jack's tribe.

Ralph secretly confronts Sam and Eric who warn him that Jack and Roger hate him and that Roger has sharpened a stick at both ends, implying the tribe intends to hunt him like a pig and behead him. The following morning, Jack orders his tribe to begin a manhunt for Ralph. Jack's savages set fire to the forest while Ralph desperately weighs his options for survival. Following a long chase, most of the island is consumed in flames. With the hunters closely behind him, Ralph trips and falls. He looks up at a uniformed adult – a naval officer whose party has landed from a passing warship to investigate the fire. Ralph bursts into tears over the death of Piggy and the "end of innocence". Jack and the other children, filthy and unkempt, also revert to their true ages and erupt into sobs. The officer expresses his disappointment at seeing British boys exhibiting such feral, warlike behaviour before turning to stare awkwardly at his own warship.

--- end wiki page extracts of Lord of the Flies ---

Ravi: In this PTP vs. MDH group post-Mahasamadhi Sathya Sai movement matter, particularly among Sai university and schools' alumni, I think it is the craze for spiritual empire power, and associated name and fame, that conflicts with Sai devotee impulse towards following instructions of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba (of not accepting anybody claiming to be his medium or communicator) and following norms of official Sai organization that creates an environment for all Sai devotees including Sai university and schools' alumni, to participate peacefully and harmoniously in Sai activities as per guidelines framed and/or approved by physical form Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba himself.

[Note: As a whistle-blower against record tampering and malicious defamation, a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Code, done by some Sai university administrators against me, I too have used strong words against those that I hold responsible for these actions against me. I used social media to get some kind of justice by attempting to name and shame them for what they did to me. There was also an objective of deterring future such record tampering and malicious defamation of teachers by Sai university administrators.
I used words like Teacher-Drohi-Paapi (sinner who committed harm against a teacher) and Asathya-Adharma (untruthful and unethical) crook. I also used the word, traitor, against those who I felt did enormous harm to Sathya Sai movement by abusing and misusing their position to advance their own vision and agenda, as against the vision and agenda of the organization that gave them that position. I did all this because I was met with HORRIFIC ARROGANCE and POWER ABUSE in the normal channel of seeking justice, and I have documented that in detail in 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. Being denied justice in the normal channels, to protect my fair name and reputation from further damage by these people and to inform Sathya Sai fraternity of their actions, I decided that I had to fight back using social media to expose them in 2015.
Some may say that I am a contributor to the 'Lord of the Flies' problems that I have sought to highlight in this post. I disagree with that view as I have made efforts to be truthful in my posts that exposed wrongdoing, giving evidence wherever it was available. At times, my anger at the humiliation and injustice that I suffered may have surfaced in my posts. But I consider that to be justifiable expression of my anger, and not false allegations and conspiracy.
Further, I did not publicize my harassment and humiliation on the Internet till 2015, a period of around three years since it happened (in 2011-12). I followed the unwritten code of conduct of keeping such matters within the Sai institution family and not exposing it to the public. But in 2015 the damage being done by Muddenahalli group to Sathya Sai movement was becoming too much. Therefore I felt it appropriate to publicize my harassment and humiliation (along with similar treatment given to some regular senior academics in Sai university) on the Internet, thereby informing Sathya Sai community about how under Sashidhara Prasad and some other Sai university administrators, Sai university lost its way and came under the influence of dream-instruction Narasimhamurthy.]
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Terry Reis Kennedy wrote over email:
Bravo!  One of my favorite books and movies.....
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I (Ravi) responded:
Interesting that it was a favorite book of yours. I plan to see the movie on youtube if available.
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[I thank wikipedia and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

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