Friday, August 31, 2018

Conversation on software techie spiritual aspirants, Hinduism, Science, Christian faith etc. with an old techie colleague of mine

Last updated on 4-Sept-2018

[Note: A limited version of this conversation having only my part of it was put up by me as a standalone post around a week ago here: Some thoughts of mine about software techie spiritual aspirants, Hinduism, Science, Christian faith etc., http://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2018/08/some-thoughts-of-mine-about-software.html, 23rd Aug 2018]

Given below is a recent mail conversation I had with an old techie colleague of mine we will refer to as Anon1. Anon1 was OK with public sharing of his mail contents. My comments are prefixed with Ravi and included in the body of Anon1's mail contents given below.

Anon1: Prologue.
I happened to come across something you had written last year on your blog about BioLogos and your thoughts on changes to be made to reflect all religions. I should thank you for inspiring me to put down a lot of things that (have) been tossing around in my own mind.

Ravi: Happy to know that my post triggered you to expression of your thoughts and views. [I think Anon1 is referring to this blog post of mine: Crisp Statements of Belief in God that is Compatible with Science, https://iami1.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/crisp-statements-of-belief-in-god-that-is-compatible-with-science/ .]

Anon1: I am a novice, so let's get that settled; but for my own edification, I am trying to reconcile the spiritual and scientific voices in me, if you will.

Ravi: I think most of us are in the learning boat. As software techies we get trained rather ruthlessly by the computer to be respectful of truth. If the program or the design/architecture of the software has serious flaws, the computer ruthlessly exposes the flaws when the appropriate input triggers the flaws leading to the software not working properly. The computer does not try to be nice to us neither can we try to boss over the computer to "behave" and run our software "properly". We come to terms with the fact that, virtually always, the problem is in our program and/or design/architecture of the software, and that the computer is virtually always truthful to its task of running the program as per instructions given to it.
I think this training of our minds to be respectful of the truth is a great benefit of having been or being in the software development field. And I think it is this respect for truth that is vital in both the spiritual quest as well as in science.

Anon1: As a family man with responsibilities, as time permits, I am reading up on material, listening to discourses and analyzing things in my own mind - can't think of any other tool at this time, even as the suggestion to keep the mind out of it pops up - where else but in my own mind! The counter-intuitive and ironic nature of this has not escaped me. What I really want to do is look at the genesis of every thought or claim or conclusion that is drawn in our common ancient literature and current thinking - an arduous and time-consuming task in of itself, bearing in mind there are human hands that have shaped this over years or even eons and that I will be only looking at a miniscule amount of translated stuff to arrive at these conclusions. Clearly I stand on the shoulders of giants.

Ravi: Noted. Though a key technique in such matters is to identify which parts of the huge knowledge base that is available to us today on various fields, would be most appropriate and suitable for us to focus on, for the particular learning-objective that we may have.

Anon1: I want to state at the outset that whatever I have presumed and concluded or 'believe' are 'As of now, and is subject to change given new evidence, knowledge or insight that I may be the beneficiary of!' This is, IMHO as any, I was going to say scientist, but any reasonable human being would or should state about any opinion or thought that they share.

Ravi: I tend to agree though I would add new experience (subjective experience at times) to the change-agents mentioned above.

Anon1: And so yes even this is subject to change! Even as I write this, arguments for and against are rising in my own divided mind and that is not even just the spiritual side, even the scientific (aka logical) side is full of arguments for and against every thought that rise in my mind. I just hope it keeps me balanced and grounded.

Enough of the preamble!

--

Getting to the point and there are many!

I will start with an interesting discussion that I had with a young lady a long time ago at a party. She is a Christian in her own words and our conversation (was) on religion where I think I said something like in Hinduism we believe we are all divine - this is straight from everything that I had read about Hinduism without, I might add, truly understanding (and probably still not) what that really meant. This led to her questioning me (about) how can any one person claim to be God or the sole representative of God, because all Godmen say (that is what she said) that theirs is the true God! The response that came out of me surprised me; and I can honestly say that at that stage in my life I had never thought of this question before, although I was interested in and attracted to the spiritual wisdom and thoughts and had gone through many works even if superficially for the most part.

The question that popped up in my mind and (which I) asked her was: Do you believe, if you believed in God, that God is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent? In my mind that was the definition that most religions gave of God. If I recall correctly, she replied in the affirmative. If that is the case, I said, you and I or anyone for that matter cannot be but a part of God. If we are not, then God is not omnipresent or omnipotent.

Ravi: Interesting! Seems logical. And that matches my belief based on Hindu Vedanta - Isa Vasyam Idam Sarvam, which has been reinforced for me by my Gurudev Sathya Sai Baba. [Isa Vasyam Idam Sarvam has been translated as "All this is enveloped by the Supreme Being." by Swami Krishnananda of The Divine Life Society, https://www.swami-krishnananda.org/upanishad/upan_04.html. Others have translated the Sanskrit word Vasyam as pervaded by or full of. The translation that I, who has limited knowledge of Sanskrit, am comfortable with for Isa Vasyam Idam Sarvam is: "All this (world/universe) is pervaded by (or full of) God".]

Anon1: She could not argue with that. Logically, it contradicts the definition of God if she did.

Ravi: The last sentence above seems to have something missing. [Perhaps what was meant was: Logically, it would have contradicted the definition of God if she had argued with that.]

Anon1: In that case, I continued, if a person like Muhammad or Christ or Krishna claims to be God, particularly if they have realized it, they would not be wrong! It is just that they are all not just in different time zones, but in different times! If anybody claimed they are God, I would completely agree and also aver that hey, so am I! This is where the average folks in society gossips or states on social media that I am 'loco'.

[Ravi: Not part of my response in the mail convo but as I am reviewing the draft of this post, I felt it appropriate to add that my limited understanding of Prophet Muhammad's teachings and revelations is that he viewed himself as the prophet of God (Allah) but not as God (Allah).]

Ravi: Well, here I think the definition of God in the context of a person, comes into play. My understanding of Hindu belief and scripture in this matter is that there is the absolute formless God - Nirakara Parabrahman is one term for it - which is all pervasive in the universe. There is no place where it is not. And then there are Avatars who are superhuman divine figures endowed with superhuman and divine power who take birth as a form (animal or human - Matsya, Kurma, Varahari, Narahari, Vaaman, Rama, Krishna etc.). These are referred to by many as Godmen (or God-animals too, I guess for Matsya, Kurma, Varahari and Narahari/Narasimha). But I think it is imprecise to refer to them as Godmen as that implies they represent all aspects and powers of God. Avatar is a much better term as it does not imply that they represent all aspects and powers of God. And then there are saints and rishis who through spiritual inspiration, practices etc. attain some divine powers and get some divine revelations. The key difference between Avatar and saint/rishi being that the Avatar does not do any particular spiritual sadhana to acquire divine powers. They are born with those powers which may lay hidden/latent at times but expresses itself appropriately at times which become the signs with which they are recognized as Avatars.
And then there are normal animals and humans (like us), all of which are essentially divine [Tat Twam Asi from Chandogya Upanishad] but they do not have the direct knowledge and experience of their divinity. Hindu scripture (and my Gurudev Sathya Sai) tells us that Maya, the great illusion, born primarily out of the mind and its desires and samskaras (mental impressions/mental tendencies) from previous births, clouds us from knowing our innate divinity and innate reality. So we identify ourselves with our mind-body complex which, Vedanta teaches us, is an illusory projection of our innate reality, the changeless and divine Atma. And this Atma, Vedanta teaches us, is part and parcel of Paramatma.
Nowadays some spiritual masters use the term consciousness or awareness as the Atma (I would use the term spiritual-consciousness or spiritual-awareness to differentiate from more limited meanings, I presume, of consciousness and awareness in psychology related sciences). And they say there is a super-consciousness which spiritually evolved beings (and Avatars, I believe) experience where they experience their awareness/beingness not only in their mind-body but also in mind-bodies of others. I have directly experienced that Sathya Sai would simply know what is in my mind and what I had done even outside his physical presence. Sathya Sai explained to somebody else that he gets such knowledge as he is the consciousness not only in his body (mind-body, I would say) but also in the bodies (mind-bodies) of others.
I have never experienced such a state where I felt myself (my awareness/beingness) as part of another person's mind-body and thus know about what they are thinking or had done (having access to mind and memory of others). But Sathya Sai had that awesome divine power. And so I now believe accounts in holy scripture where Avatars like Krishna had such powers and more.

Anon1: As I try to understand the contradictions and claims, this is what - and admittedly this is half-baked yet - I am concluding, subject to all the caveats I put in para 2 in the Prologue!

As of now, if the Omni definitions of God is valid, then God is simply our embodiment of nature and its laws - that includes all of this universe and its laws which I believe scientists are trying to discover and a few spiritual masters in our time on Earth seem to have divined, no pun intended. What is telling however is that they are all trying to tell the rest of the world what they learned!

Ravi: Hindu view of Divinity/God which I believe in, is more than divinity permeating the universe and its laws which include what I view as spiritual laws like law of karma. Hindu belief (and Christian belief) includes the power of prayer to the Divine which, at least at times, results in Divine power interceding in worldly affairs to help the supplicant (person making the prayer). E.g. Narasimha Avatar responding to prayers of Prahlada. Jesus healing some of those who prayed to him for help.
And then both Hindu and Christian belief includes the great possibility/potential of humans evolving spiritually and getting divine / superhuman experiences. In Hinduism there is the vital possibility of the spiritual aspirant experiencing great and powerful states of divinity like one where he/she experiences himself/herself in all and all in himself/herself.

Anon1: If language is the sign of sophistication of a civilization - and I think so - then some of our ancient languages show remarkable signs of sophistication in thought and expression. So, clearly there is value in trying to decipher their thoughts expressed in the knowledge and concerns of their time. What is abundantly clear is that they were all concerned with our timeless angst and were trying to allay it!

As far as the theory of Karma goes and just like any scientific theory (even the Big Bang) this is in my mind a theory that actually answers a lot of questions satisfactorily along with the concept of rebirths in Hinduism. There are a few parts to the theory. One that aligns with the 'As you sow, so shall ye reap' which is the same thing as the scientific 'cause and effect'. The second part of the theory does not contradict or conflict with the cause and effect or the Christian thought. All it states, if we accept the definition of God as stated above, is that while you do whatever work you do with or without any specific intention of results and perhaps hence some attachment thereof (or not), the results of your work will always depend on the laws of Nature (God, if you are so inclined) - most of which as it applies to your specific job you may be aware of, and some that you may not be aware of! So, there is no conflict with science or logic here either.

Ravi: Well, hard science is a very rigidly delineated system of acquisition of knowledge and of the body of such acquired knowledge. Objective verification using human senses and/or well understood scientific instruments is a starting point for scientific investigation of any phenomenon. This is where Karma and even rebirth become very difficult things to bring into the realm of hard science investigation. Whatever work is done by parapsychology sciences and rebirth studies (like what University of Virginia, USA is famous for) is rejected by top hard science scientists as pseudo-science.
So I will not say that law/theory of Karma is not in conflict with science. Science will not even accept the entry of such a theory/law into any proper scientific investigation! I mean, I cannot imagine Nature (top scientific publication/magazine) publishing a scientific paper (as against a casual column/article) examining law of Karma. Now I don't usually read Nature magazine and so I may be wrong here. But I doubt it. I have corresponded with a couple of top scientists who read Nature and such stuff. I doubt such top scientists will accept Karma as a valid scientific phenomenon on which scientific investigation articles should be published in Nature. These guys are very solid and very protective gatekeepers of top level hard science publications.
But theory of karma will not have any conflict with logic or philosophy (religious philosophy) as a possibility. They would still demand evidence for a statement that Karma is fact. I would say that Karma is belief and NOT logical/philosophical established fact.

Anon1: The third part is what requires some deliberation. Again, this is not in conflict with the above scientific or Christian thought/theology. The fact is results of any work takes time. After you sow, it takes a while to reap. However after you do something, if you die without reaping the benefits of it, seemingly, then this theory of cause and effect is not true in all cases. And if there is one x where f(x) is true, it is more than likely there is y such that x<>y where f(y) is true! Which then denies the cause and effect and that seems illogical until you bring in the concept of rebirth where depending on your past karma, you are born in poverty or luxury; in a democratic country or an authoritarian one, in a palace or a prison! That also answers the question of why this all merciful God seems so partial to a few with his blessings. He is just obeying his own laws!

Ravi: Karma along with rebirth is a pretty satisfying catch-all theory though very elastic in exactly when and how the effect will take place. But Christian belief rejects rebirth. And so I don't think they buy the Karma theory the way Hindus do.

Anon1: Now comes the 'sinning' and 'saving' part. An argument is put forth that sinning is really our thought that we are separate from God! The Ego. As long as you do not realize that your ego is what keeps you away from being one with God (or Nature) and causes you all the misery, and joy for that matter, the results of your work will always come back to you (the Ego) and for you to bear those fruits you may have to take birth again and yet again. The saving part or the moksha part is when you let go of that sense of ego. Then, the results of 'your' action cannot come back to you as you have renounced your ego and hence you are liberated from the cycle or rebirths as you of the ego has renounced it, you will not get the fruits of your results - good or bad and hence need not be reborn. You attain Moksha and become one with God/Nature. You are 'saved'. That is what I understand and there are no conflicts about it in what Hinduism and Christianity says.

Ravi: I don't know Christian theology well enough to make proper comments here. But from what little I know, I think that Christian theology has the view that God is outside of us. I also don't think they talk of people merging in God. The impression I have is that Christian theology views humans as lesser than God and distinct from God, but that humans have been created by God in the image of God. So humans being 'saved' by God, attaining salvation in Christianity, I think, means that the person is saved from suffering the consequences of sins including the original sin of Adam & Eve which is inherited by Christians as per their belief (humanity as per their belief), and leading an eternal blissful life in the presence of God (but separate life from God) in Heaven. Those who do not get 'saved' are expected to suffer in Hell. I think these beliefs are quite central to Roman Catholic Church belief and I guess it would be somewhat similar in many Protestant church beliefs.
So I don't think Christians who deeply believe in Church doctrine would view being 'saved' as attaining 'moksha'. However, Christians who are willing to be a little elastic on such Church doctrine matters could view being 'saved' as attaining 'moksha'.
About letting go of the sense of Ego and Moksha: Letting go of the ego is an important aspect of spiritual evolution. But I think there is more to be done for attaining Moksha (freedom/liberation from illusion of Maya and worldly bondage). Typically one views ego as pride associated with one's mind and body, possessions and achievements. Humility would be viewed as its opposite and a very desirable spiritual quality for spiritual aspirants.
But the key thing for Moksha is getting out of the illusive and false (bhrama) identification of one's reality with one's mind-and-body, and getting into the real and eternal identification of one's reality with one's Atma (divine and unchanging awareness/consciousness). Hinduism talks of overcoming the six flaws of Kaama (desire including sexual desire), Krodha (anger), Lobha (Greed), Moha (infatuation), Mada (pride) and Matsarya (jealousy), which can then lead to a calm and peaceful (and thoughtless) mind at which time one can more easily experience one's unchanging and eternal awareness which Hindu scripture says is the source of the mind (and the body).

Anon1: I have not read anything about what Islam (or) Judaism says about this, or for that matter Buddhism or Jainism or Sikhism or Zoroastrianism! Have I covered all?

Ravi: I think you have mentioned all the major religions of the world. 

Anon1: There is something to the theory of rebirths as nothing else explains the reason why one is born in specific circumstances, why one is born with specific talents, gifts, handicaps or why one is born with specific traits. DNA explains some of it, but only what you did in a past life can explain why you need to be in that specific present life you were born into! I cannot think of anything else.

Ravi: For me, it is revelations from Avatars and evolved spiritual masters/Rishis about Karma, that is the basis of my belief in Karma. Yes, the theory does answer, when interpreted elastically, various things we see in life. But that alone would not have made it a strong belief of mine. It is the revelations about it in Hindu scripture, and in my case, reinforced by my beloved and revered Gurudev Sathya Sai Baba, that makes it a core belief of mine. In particular, I try to avoid hurting others as far as possible (excluding case of self-defense), partly as a way of life taught by Sathya Sai, but also as a way to avoid negative karmic consequences that I would suffer if I deliberately hurt somebody (unless in self-defense), in this birth or a future birth (if I do not achieve Moksha in this birth).

Anon1: As for evolution, even a staunch atheist like Dawkins suggest(s) (and I paraphrase) that while evolution is natural, not an act of God, the biggest leap of faith is the transition from and what we think of as dead chemicals to creation of the molecules that are the foundation of life itself! It is easy for an atheist to ask the question who created the creator ad infinitum to disprove the notion of creativity. Perhaps. However, that question arises from our own limited and incomplete knowledge of the process of creation of life itself. What if that is the wrong question to ask in the first place?

Ravi: My belief is that there are some things beyond human mind comprehension. Who created the creator is one such thing. 

Anon1: As for super-human capabilities of certain people (avatars?), this can be explained statistically. Our IQ and our body strength or any other characteristic can probably be measured and for the entire population it may fit on a typical bell curve. I like to say we are all the same and different only in degrees. Most of us fall in the area of the bell curve that is highest and fewer and fewer of us fall to the extremes. The bell curve suggests that it does not stop at any point but potentially point to people of incredible IQ or physical capabilities as probable occurrences but one in a billion or one in ten billion or even rarer. But as Jim Carrey says in 'Dumb and Dumber - you mean I have a chance?' Meaning it is possible! Here is how: Take the millennia of human existence itself and we probably have more dead people than live ones which currently is at around 7.5 Billion? Suddenly the possibility of a super human being with all the capabilities coming to birth, once in a while is not a mere probability but almost a certainty! And over a lifetime, learning and training can improve those gifts and capabilities. And this ties to the next argument.

While the Abrahamic religions focus on one savior and is now split between who that savior might be, the Hindu tradition is explained in the famous shloka: 'Yada yada hi dharmasya... sambhavami yuge yuge!' meaning 'Whenever there is decay in righteousness... to reestablish it, I will take birth from age to age!'. And historic events that are not contested and is recognized by people all over the world and of all faith - i.e. the life of Buddha, Christ and Muhammad only proves that Hindu adage!

Ravi: My strong belief based on Hindu scripture which I think matches Christian scripture too, is that God loves his creation, especially humans that he has created. So God descends as Avatar among human society when things go very bad and shows humanity the right way to live (Dharma) for that particular age. But there is also the prayer of devotees for God to help them that is vital for God's coming down to world (or coming outside into world from inner being reality of all of us) as an Avatar. It is intense prayer and calls for help that triggers the Avatar's coming. 

Anon1: The limitation in the Hindu thinking is, there is only one age left - ah but if changes in the direction of our civilization on this planet, over the last 100 years is any indication, there may be just this age left when we will have terminated humans as we know it from the face of this universe!

Ravi: I did not fully catch what you wanted to say in the above sentence.  Perhaps you mean that according to Hindu belief we are in Kali Yuga now and that after this Yuga (which may last thousands of years more), the universe will be destroyed. If so, yes that's the Hindu scripture view. But then Hindu scripture also talks of the four yuga cycle restarting after the destruction! So end of Kali Yuga does not mean end of life for ever. It is a temporary destruction which is followed by creation again.

Anon1: I will take a break at this point and pardon the pun!

The explanations are probably the easy part! The real hard part is letting go of this ego, not as a belief, not as a matter of faith, not as a wilful act, but as a realized conviction, even as I strive to bring home the bacon for our daily sustenance!

Ravi: What I have observed from being with many family people who are spiritual aspirants too, is that the Jnana marg (wisdom path) as followed and preached by Nisargadatta and Ramana in the 20th century, is NOT suitable for family people who have family responsibilities to fulfill. Yes, they can read up the theory parts of it but NOT get into deep practice as that involves renunciation and Vairagya (detachment) which can wreck the family.
Instead the safer approach is the mix of Bhakti and Seva where the family members are viewed as gifts of God and whose service is the Tapas (spiritual austerity) that the family member is doing in a spirit of love and selflessness. That is very powerful spiritual practice to conquer desire, anger, greed, infatuation, pride and jealousy.
In the fullness of time, such persons may eventually find themselves to be in a position where they have discharged their family responsibilities and can then pursue a more intense Jnana marga path involving renunciation and vairagya. At that time, the earlier foundation being laid of conquest of lower urges of desire, anger, greed, infatuation, pride and jealousy, may make further spiritual progress and evolution through Jnana marga very easy.

Anon1: Epilogue
Sometimes I feel like Ekalavya, who studied archery keeping Dronacharya in his mind as his teacher. I have a teacher too, but he does not yet know I am his student! Some of the ideas presented here are from his own explanations, but the synthesis of all the various thought strains are my own (Ego!). He himself says proselytization is not a Hindu tradition as explained in the Gita itself. So I will withhold the name, besides it is the moon that is important when somebody is showing you the moon, not the pointing finger (as an Islamic saying rightly suggests!), him and self included. --snip--. And why am I targeting you? Because your own observations have inspired the belief that you will understand me and may be one of the few people I know who can provide an intelligent feedback. Thank you!

Ravi: Noted the above paragraph contents. Happy that you have the benefit of a Guru figure (even though he does not know you are his student)! Also noted the Ekalavya part  (Ekalavya is a self-learned archer from Mahabharata epic; for more see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ekalavya). I too have felt like Ekalavya many times though it is very clear to me now that Sathya Sai, Shirdi Sai and Ramana Maharshi along with the large body of Hindu scripture from Veda to Vedanta to Geeta to Bhagavatam and other Puranas and Ramayana, have had a very big influence on my spiritual understanding and views. But I had to do a lot of thinking and contemplation too, to understand it from my individual life perspective and to, many times, get a more nuanced understanding and come out of some misunderstandings that I had had of some of Hindu scripture/Sai/Ramana teachings.
Hope you will find my responses to be of interest even if you disagree with some of them. I have tried to be as truthful as I can (truth as perceived by me today) which I think is unconsciously and partly based on my software developer trained-mind where I had to be truthful when dealing with a computer :-).
============= end of conversation ===========================

I thank Anon1 for his valuable thoughts and also for his willingness to share those thoughts in this public and freely viewable post.

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Given below is my comment from my Facebook post,  https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2276650492551515, associated with this blog post:

Ravi S. Iyer wrote (slightly edited): --Name-snipped-- - I thought you may be interested to know that Anon1 initially requested confidentiality in his conversation-starter mail to me, due to which I put up my part of the conversation suitably modified, as a standalone post without any reference to the conversation. I shared that post with Anon1 over email. Later Anon1 wrote me that he was OK with anonymous sharing of his part of the conversation. That resulted in this post being put up.
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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Mr. Nimish Pandya, All India President of Sathya Sai orgn. reportedly had "darshan" of Madhusudan Naidu in 2014/2015 before he became AIP; Few questions for Mr. Pandya

Last updated on 4th Sept. 2018

I have got a report from a reliable source that before Mr. Nimish Pandya took on the responsibility of All India President of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organizations (SSSSO) (India), Mr. Nimish Pandya (and his wife) met Madhusudan Rao Naidu, the so called chosen communicator, in the house of Mr. Indulal Shah in Mumbai. I do not know the date - perhaps it was in end 2014 or in 2015.

I was also told that after Mr. Pandya took on the responsibility of All India President of SSSSO, he has NOT met Madhusudan Naidu.

As I have personally experienced the madness that gripped and created traumatic division and havoc in Prasanthi Nilayam and Puttaparthi for at least five long years (from around mid 2011 to around mid 2016), first by Narasimhamurthy as so called dream instruction successor (false claim) of Sathya Sai and then by Madhusudan Naidu as so called chosen communicator (false claim) of Sathya Sai, I am super-sensitive to credible reports of top office bearers of official Sathya Sai orgn. and institutions having had so-called "darshan" of Madhusudan Rao Naidu. Further, I feel it is my bounden duty to share it with the Sathya Sai fraternity to protect it from further damage by Muddenahalli group. So I have decided to put up this post today, right on the heels of another post having accusations of power abuse against Mr. Nimish Pandya by a former long-time Sai orgn. state president.

Perhaps Mr. Nimish Pandya had just gone to check out Madhusudan Naidu's claims and never got trapped in it or influenced in any way by it. So let us keep an open mind on it.

However, I think Mr. Nimish Pandya should answer the following questions publicly for the benefit of the Sathya Sai fraternity not only in India but worldwide:

1) Is it true that (a few years ago perhaps in late 2014 or in 2015) he had so called "darshan" of Madhusudan Naidu as so called communicator of so called subtle body of Sathya Sai?

If yes, he should please explain the purpose of his visit and the outcome.

2) Does he reject the claim of Madhusudan Naidu as so called communicator of so called subtle body of Sathya Sai?

If no, we have a serious issue. More on that later, if required.

3) If yes, why has he not followed Late Mr. V. Srinivasan former All India President and former SSSCT (Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust) trustee, and current SSSCT  trustees Mr. K.Chakravarthi and Mr. S.S. Naganand in publicly rejecting the claim of Madhusudan Naidu?
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Given below are some comments from my associated Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2274514079431823 :

Ravi S. Iyer wrote (slightly edited): --Name-snipped--, why do I have to go there as I can see his videos and clearly make out that he is going against teachings of Sathya Sai. If Madhusudan Rao Naidu has guts let him come to Sai Kulwant Hall in Prasanthi Nilayam and demonstrate his divine powers to us as Sathya Sai or his communicator.

He does not have the ****guts*** to do that. Why don't you show some ***guts** and challenge Madhusudan Naidu to come to Sai Kulwant Hall and demonstrate his divine powers?
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote (slightly edited): And --name-snipped--, you sound to me to like somebody who has lost his spiritual way as taught by Bhgavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, and has fallen prey to the cheap imitator Madhusudan Rao Naidu.
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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Former and longtime Maharashtra Sathya Sai orgn. state president Ramesh Sawant's letter accusing All India President of Sathya Sai orgn. Nimish Pandya of power-craze and abuse of power

Last updated on 4th Sept. 2018

Mr. V.R. Ganti's recent Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/notes/vr-ganti/all-india-president-of-sathya-sai-seva-org-nimish-pandya-becomes-all-india-dicta/10213085340872829/, shares the very disturbing recent letter of Shri Ramesh Sawant, former state president of Maharashtra Sathya Sai orgn. to Mr. Nimish Pandya, All India President of Sathya Sai orgn. I read this letter a few days ago and was very disturbed by it.

The post also states that on Guru Poornima 2018 i.e. 27-07-2018, ".. 8 Presidents of various states in India either were removed and in one particular case, the President has been relieved of part of the state, primarily because of the bifurcation of the state itself. These changes, caused ripples in the SAI Circles of various states but most of the Presidents removed who were seriously hurt" kept quiet.

Mr. Ganti's post then states, "However, Ramesh Sawant who was the President of Maharashtra and Goa states, was shocked at the unceremonious removal of him as the President. Ostensibly, Ramesh Sawant took a couple of weeks to get into his bearings and then addressed such a polite but a firm response to Nimish Pandya by way of a letter dated August 14, 2018 which is reproduced below. This letter gives details which are an eye opener for most of us. Ramesh Sawant is a lovable character and is known for his contributions in the field of SEVA ACTIVITIES. Most of us also know that he was very close to SWAMI and many old timers in Parthi are aware of the same. IT MAY BE NOTED THAT RAMESH SAWANT WAS ONE OF THE MEMBERS WHO WERE ASSIGNED THE RESPONSIBILITY OF TAKING (INVENTORY) OF VARIOUS ITEMS IN YAJUR MANDIR, AFTER MAHASAMDHI AND THAT INDICATES RAMESH’S SINCERITY TO SWAMI AND THE RESPECT HE COMMANDS IN SAI CIRCLES."

Ravi: I was a member of Sathya Sai Orgn. Maharashtra (Dombivli samithi) from around 1993 to 2002, and have benefited enormously from it. I am deeply grateful to the organization and also Shri Ramesh Sawant who was its main leader in Maharashtra during the years I was associated with the orgn. It is appropriate for readers to note that I am biased towards Shri Ramesh Sawant.

I must also say that I have not had positive experiences with Mr. Nimish Pandya in the past in the limited interactions I have had with him. But that is my individual view of Mr. Nimish Pandya based on my limited interactions with him, and so should not be given much importance.

I have reproduced the main part of the letter below. Note that the letter is said to be dated 14th Aug. 2018:

--- start main contents of letter of former state president of Maharashtra Sathya Sai orgn. Shri Ramesh Sawant ---

To,

Shri. Nimish Pandya,
All India President,
Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, India

Dear Brother,

This refers to our discussion over the phone recently regarding the meeting to be held on 15th August 2018. I was not sure if you have invited me or just informed about the meeting. First, I thought it is for me to meet all the state colleagues but now I understand from various people it is an induction program.

I wanted to express my gratitude to all my Sai colleagues on August 5th 2018 after my abrupt eviction as the State President of Maharashtra & Goa, and wanted to conduct a meeting with the blessings received from Bhagawan in the presence of one of the Members of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust. However, you made sure the meeting does not take place, by threatening the office bearers without even knowing the context and objective of the meeting.

 The news of my disposition came as a shock to not only me but many in the Sai family who have been showering me with infinite love and affection and words of encouragement. I am still shocked, embarrassed and extremely hurt by the way I was treated. I feel, my expectation of being treated with Love and Humility being in the Sai Family was too much to ask for.

I was all the more hurt and shocked to see the way you spoke harshly to the group of office bearers who were consoling me and pacifying me after hearing of the unexpected news. This kind of behavior by the All India President is least expected – especially after you keep giving elaborate speeches on speaking lovingly and to work with love. Ordering to close down Whatsapp groups and instructing everyone to keep away from me immediately after the announcements, makes me wonder whether we are in a spiritual organisation or a political one.

After serving for so many years, the least you could do was to discuss the changes you planned with me as an experienced brother. I would have advised you of better solutions than to divide the states of Maharashtra & Goa, which had been built after so much effort by one and all and most importantly blessed by Bhagawan -  He was always against any division. More so if you did not find me competent enough to advice you - I, at least deserved an opportunity to express my thoughts after the announcement but, I was asked to hold my words back.

Though I still have to overcome the shock and the audacity of the behavior of the Sai devotees in authority, I am thankful to Bhagawan for showing me who my real well wishers are, which has become clear in this period.

I have learnt the hard way, what Baba has said “Love everyone. But do not trust everyone without discrimination. One who puts his trust wholly in others is headed for ruin.”

(Source http://www.sssbpt.info/ssspeaks/volume35/sss35-09.pdf Pg 13)

 All along you have been saying you would like to appoint younger people in posts to carry the Sai Legacy forward, but seeing the new appointments for Maharashtra & Goa, it is obvious none of them are young in age. This clearly shows lack of integrity in thought, word and deed. Also you mentioned the National council will have power to choose the next AIP, but in the next moment you yourself proposed the name of someone for the post, makes me doubt the role of the National Council.

Finally, since I am here for my spiritual progress and not to play politics, I would like to gracefully and respectfully decline the offer to be in the National Council. I pray for the well being of everyone and for the glory of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba to continue through able instruments

--
With loving regards & Sairam,

Your's in Sai Seva,

Ramesh D. Sawant

--- end main contents of letter of former state president of Maharashtra Sathya Sai orgn. Shri Ramesh Sawant ---

Ravi: I welcome responses from supporters of Mr. Nimish Pandya so that readers can know the other side of the story too and thereby form a balanced view on these accusations by Shri Ramesh Sawant against Mr. Nimish Pandya of power-craze and abuse of power.

A short while after Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Mahasamadhi (end April 2011), I have directly experienced the power craze that took hold of Sai university administrators who came under the influence of Sai university's long-time former warden Guru Drohi B.N. Narasimhmamurthy who claimed to be a dream-instruction successor of Sathya Sai. The Narasimhamurthy followers group took effective control of Sai university and either threw out people who challenged them (they threw out Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju) or ensured that those who remained, obeyed their orders without question. Many senior faculty of Sai university quit Sai university within a year or two of Mahasamadhi - at least one of them out of disgust with the power-crazed administrators of Sai university.

Today I fear that what happened to Sathya Sai university in period from July 2011 to November 2014 may happen to the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organization, India. We devotees of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba who has created the holy Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organization in India for the benefit all devotees of Bhagavan in India should ensure that its top office bearer, All India President Mr. Nimish Pandya, is NOT allowed to become power-crazy and abuse his power thereby weakening the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organization in India.
================================================================

Given below are my comments from my Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2274455009437730, associated with this blog post:

Ravi S. Iyer wrote (slightly edited) in response to a comment 'This makes me wonder even more if Madhusudan told Pandya to remove Sawant! Something stinks about this.': --Name-snipped--, I have been told that Pandya is not in touch with Madhusudan now. But I don't know for sure.

Anyway, Pandya's public silence on Madhusudan Rao Naidu matter, given the betrayal history in Sai university, creates suspicion in the minds of people.
----

Ravi S. Iyer wrote in response to comment 'Maybe Narasimhamurthy is behind it.': I don't know. But this I will tell you. Narasimhamurthy is a man who is mad after power. Scary person. I used to keep a safe distance from him whenever he would visit Parthi for university events like Grama Seva and Sports. I am told that he even perhaps half-jokingly but half-seriously referred to himself as KING of Brindavan campus (Bangalore) of Sai University.

After Mahasamadhi, I think his power-craze has become uncontrolled and so I view him as quite a scary person.
----

Ravi S. Iyer wrote (slightly edited) in response to a comment: --Name-snipped-- - The quote is part of Shri Ramesh Sawant's letter which I have shared. I just checked and saw that the page is 13th in the pdf file with the printed page number in the document being 141. So the pdf file seems to be an extract of a larger document.
----

Monday, August 27, 2018

Open letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis about false claims made by Madhusudan Rao Naidu wrt Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

To
Hon'ble Chief Minster of Maharashatra, Shri Devendra Fadnavis
chiefminister@maharashtra.gov.in

[Also as blog and Facebook post links in message on https://cmo.maharashtra.gov.in/contactus ]

Namaskar Saheb, Dear sir,

I am a grateful son of Mumbai and surrounding regions (Mumbai Metropolitan Region), and Maharashtra and so I am writing this Open Letter to you as a matter of duty to Mumbai Metropolitan Region and Maharashtra. It is in Mumbai Metropolitan Region that I was born, educated, earned a living as software development professional, fulfilled my family obligations and saved money for early retirement. I lived there for most of the first forty years of my life before I moved to Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh in October 2002 as a retired-from-commercial-work spiritual aspirant. I have lived in Puttaparthi now for over 15 years.

Puttaparthi, as you may know sir, is the abode of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

In November of 2017, you sir along with Shri Sachin Tendulkar were the honoured guests for a Bhoomi Puja event of a free service hospital in Navi Mumbai by Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Center group. Here is the youtube video of that event: Bhoomi Pooja of Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Center for Child Heart Care - Live from Mumbai, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvqp1bcldwU, dated 26th Nov. 2017.

At that event, you, sir, shared the stage with a Madhusudan Rao Naidu and even made a reference to him during your speech.

What you perhaps may not know, sir, is that the claims made by Madhusudan Rao Naidu with respect to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba are false. Madhusudan claims to be a so called chosen communicator of a so called subtle body of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, which, for all practical purposes at least, is visible only to Madhusudan and communicates only with Madhusudan. These claims of his have been examined in depth and compared with teachings, instructions and discourses of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, by some of us Sathya Sai devotees including me. Such examination has led us to the conclusion that Madhusudan's claim is false, and that Madhusudan is diluting and distorting the legacy and memories of our beloved and revered Gurudev Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

Very unfortunately, two top cricket stars of Mumbai and India, Mr. Sunil Gavaskar and Mr. Sachin Tendulkar, both of whom have had many interactions with physical form Sathya Sai, seem to believe Madhusudan's claims. However, their expertise is in cricket and not in Sathya Sai teachings and instructions, and not in spirituality in general. Therefore, after the physical body passing away of Sathya Sai in April 2011, they have fallen prey to Madhusudan and a Mr. B.N. Narasimhamurthy and have been led astray by them.

I earnestly request you, sir, not to fall prey to the false claims of Madhusudan Rao Naidu and Mr. B.N. Narasimhamurthy with respect to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. In particular, please do not accept Madhusudan's claim that he is speaking the words of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Madhusudan is speaking either his own words OR is communicating the words of some unholy spirit that is masquerading as Sathya Sai Baba.

Now I should mention that I have no objection to the social service activities done by Mr. C. Srinivas' hospitals including this hospital in Navi Mumbai whose Bhumi Puja event you, sir, had attended and which is expected to be opened in November this year. I have publicly written about my appreciation for their social service work done free of charge for the poor of the country. There is a problem of these activities being used to promote the false claim of Madhusudan Naidu. But I don't want to be too rigid on this matter and so am not complaining much about that aspect.

I think it is natural that Maharashtra government should extend its support for such free service done in the state of Maharashtra. So I have no issue whatsoever on that front.

But you, sir, as Chief Minister of Maharashtra should NOT get trapped by false claim of Madhusudan Naidu with respect to (wrt) Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. That, I think, would be a great tragedy for the state of Maharashtra as you are its leader.

In my considered view, my beloved and revered Gurudev Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, was far more than a charitable organization founder. He primarily was a spiritual teacher who taught that Manav Seva is Madhav Seva. He showed how service to society can be done in a spiritual environment so that not only service is rendered to those in need, but one evolves spiritually.

One of the key spiritual and human values taught by Sathya Sai was Sathya! In fact, it is part of his very name! Our beloved nation too has the motto Satyameva Jayate (Truth alone prevails). Madhusudan Rao Naidu and his primary promoter and endorser, Mr. B.N. Narasimhamurthy have moved away from Sathya and are indulging in Asathya when they claim that Madhusudan is speaking the words of Sathya Sai.

I felt it my duty as a concerned and grateful son of Maharashtra to warn you, sir, about this matter wrt Madhusudan Rao Naidu and Mr. B.N. Narasimhamurthy.

[Some Marathi words (please excuse any mistakes as I am out of touch with Marathi):] Maharashtra hi santanchi bhoomi aahe. Hi bhoomi Jnaneshwar Maharaj, Namdev Maharaj, Eknath Maharaj ani Tukaram Maharajanchi bhoomi aahe. Shirdi Sai Baba Maharajanchi bhoomi aahe. Ya bhoomith ek veda manus Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Babancha nakkal kartoy. Ya vedyaacha naav aahe Madhusudan Rao Naidu. Tyaa vedyaala konihi ya vishyat madat karna he khup motha anyaaya ani Asathya-Adharma karma aahe. 

Santanchi bhoomi Maharashtraath ek ne ek divas Madhusudan Rao Naiducha vedapanacha khulasa honaar. Mhanun Maharashtrache Mukhyamantri Madhusudan Rao Naiducha Sathya Sai Babancha nakkal karnyavar vishwas karna, mala vattha ki uchit nahi aahe.

[English translation of above:] Maharashtra (state in which Mumbai lies) is the land of saints. This is the land of Saint Jnaneswar (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dnyaneshwar), Saint Namdev (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Namdev), Saint Eknath (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eknath) and Saint Tukaram (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tukaram). It is the land of Shirdi Sai Baba. In this land, one madman is mimicking Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. This madman's name is Madhusudan Rao Naidu. Aiding this madman in this matter is great injustice and Asathya-Adharma (untruthful and unethical) work.

In the land of saints that Maharashtra is, one day or the other, Madhusudan Rao Naidu's madness will get exposed. Therefore I think that the chief minister of Maharashtra having belief in the mimicry of Madhusudan Rao Naidu (mimicking Sathya Sai Baba) is not appropriate/wise.
--- end English translation ---

Perhaps, Hon'ble CM Fadnavis sir, in future, you may condider supporting their hospital work but without making any reference to Madhusudan Rao Naidu or paying any importance to speeches of Madhusudan Rao Naidu.

If you, sir, have any queries of me, you (or your staff) may please feel free to mail me or even call me on the phone. I would be glad to provide you truthful information that will help you see through the false claims of Madhusudan Rao Naidu.

Thanks & Regards

Ravi S. Iyer
Social media writer on spirituality, religion and miscellaneous topics
Retired international software consultant

Address:
--snip--

Telephone Numbers:
--snip--

Spiritual/Religious Websites/Blogs
* About Sri Sathya Sai Baba and more: ravisiyer.blogspot.com
* God & science conversation and a little more: iami1.wordpress.com/god-and-science-toc

Software Websites/Blogs
* Indian CS & IT Academic Reform Activism: eklavyasai.blogspot.com/p/table-of-contents.html
* Course material related to computer programming (software lab.) courses: raviiyerteaches.wordpress.com

Misc. Topics Blogs
* ravisiyermisc.blogspot.com/
* ravisiyer.wordpress.com/category/misc/

e-mail:   ravi@raviiyer.org
Twitter:  twitter.com/RaviSaiIyer
Google+:  google.com/+RaviSIyerSai
Facebook: facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7

Service to Society is Service to God

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Michael Cohen tape threatening reporter Tim Mak of the Daily Beast to not publish article; I have faced something similar but on much lesser scale for my exposure of Muddenahalli group false belief and hijack on social media

Last updated on 29-Aug-2018

Warning: This post has some graphic swear words. Readers who prefer to not read such swear words may please skip reading the rest of this post.

As I became a whistle-blower exposing from early 2015 onwards on social media (Facebook and blog), Muddenhalli group false belief and Muddenahalli group hijack of Sai university, I got my first taste of people wanting to silence me. Initially it was polite comments on social media and even in person, where people advised me, some perhaps out of wanting to genuinely help me, to stay out of the matter, especially given the health problems that I face. I politely explained to them that I felt it is my duty to my beloved and revered Gurudev Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba to expose the false belief of Muddenahalli group as they are misguiding innocent Sathya Sai devotees using his HOLY NAME.

Later some trolls of Muddenahalli group using Facebook Fake IDs started threatening me. I later came to know that at least some of them are based in Melbourne, Australia. And I must also say here that there may be some person(s) from Puttaparthi itself, who may, I repeat may (as I don't have any proof), have helped them in their social media attacks on me. One Facebook troll (fake ID of Parthi Resident which was later changed to Venkatesh Babu) said that some Fake ID Mervyn Hughes is getting ready to file a (defamation) case against me. Note that I don't recall ever having stepped foot in a court of law in India or elsewhere.

Here are the details of that threat which has not materialized so far. Facebook fake ID Venkatesh Babu wrote sometime around early February 2017, "a case is being filed against you in Bangalore court. please prepare yourself..". Venkatesh Babu later wrote: "he is funding the court case. thats what I heard.. US dollar goes a long way in Indian rupees.." where 'he' is Facebook fake ID Mervyn Hughes. [Ref: Misrepresentation and fabrication by Parthi Resident/Venkatesh Babu against me; Beware of Arun Srinivas, alumnus of Muddenahalli school - Part 1, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2017/02/my-facebook-posts-related-to.html, dated February 2017]

If I recall correctly, the troll also said something about me being lucky that I did not get beaten up as I had exposed people of Sai university.

I told them that as I am somewhat old now and have health problems, I will fight them like how the old bird-king Jatayu fought the demon Ravana as he was kidnapping Mother Sita (from Ramayana epic). I told them that I was willing to even go to jail, if need be. Note that defamation is both a civil and a criminal offense in India. But, I told them, I will NOT stop exposing false belief of Muddenahalli group. Eventually they stopped their threats.

But that was some experience for me. I was around 53 years old when I started exposing Muddenahalli false belief in 2015 and, if I recall correctly, got viciously attacked and even threatened with legal case, on Facebook in 2016 & 2017, when I was 54 to 55 years old. For the first time in my life I had been threatened with a legal case and there were explicit words about beatings (though not a specific threat of a future beating). Note that during my professional career as software developer, manager & consultant mainly in international software development field, I led a largely protected and safe life in Mumbai and surrounding areas and, while on assignments & marketing trips, in Western Europe, USA, South Korea and Singapore.

So this tape of Michael Cohen threatening a reporter is of great interest to me. It was released in end May 2018 but the conversation was in 2015. I am very happy to note that Karma has come back to bite Michael Cohen and that he has plead guilty to some criminal acts in a US court of law and seems to be quite certain to face some jail time. For more, see the article: 'Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen pleads guilty, admits to making illegal payments at direction of candidate to influence election', https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/21/trumps-ex-lawyer-michael-cohen-strikes-plea-deal-nbc-news.html, 21st Aug. 2018.

Here's a video playing parts of the Michael Cohen threats tape:
Listen To Tape Of Michael Cohen Making Threats For Donald Trump | The Beat With Ari Melber | MSNBC, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxHz18_LQIM, published May 31st 2018.

I have transcribed below, the parts of the video having the threats that were made. Note that the article was to mention an alleged rape of spouse by Michael Cohen's client which Michael Cohen did not want to be mentioned. Also note that the person who had supposedly made the allegation of rape had later retracted it.

Michael Cohen speaking to then Daily Beast reporter Tim Mak: Today will be the day that you will regret. I know where you're going with this stupid story and I know what you're planning on doing. And if there's any inference, whatsoever, whether it's in the headline or any aspect of (your) article that indicates a rape, and I don't care about some small (bleep) line that you're gonna throw in somewhere.

Mark my words for it. I will make sure that you and I meet one day over in the courthouse and I will take you for every penny you still don't have, and I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know. Do not even think about going to where I know you're planning on going. And that's my warning for the day.

Reporter Tim Mak: Michael, besides the warning, do you have a substantive comment that I can include in my piece that reflects your views on this?

Michael Cohen: I have no views because there's no story.
...

Michael Cohen: You write whatever you want, but rest assured like I told Univision and like I told everybody else in the past, you can certainly look it up online. I swear (on) God and my children, I will find you. I will serve you personally. And I will be nothing but happy when I turn around and I get a judgement of defamation against you and the (bleep) paper you work for. Do you understand what I'm saying?
...

Michael Cohen: .. 24 frickin' years old? .. (You want me to destroy) your life? And it will be my privilege to serve it to you on a frickin' silver platter like I did that idiot from Pennsylvania, your Miss USA, because I think you're dumber than she is.

...

Reporter Tim Mak: Do you think that I am misinterpreting some of the facts here?

Michael Cohen: I know you are. Listen, my friend, don't be a smart ass with me. Do you understand me?

Reporter Tim Mak: I am not being a smart --- I am giving you an opportunity

Michael Cohen: I know you - I don't need your opportunity you little (bleep). I know exactly who you are and I know exactly what you do. And I know exactly the story you plan on writing. So I am warning you, tread very f***ing lightly because what I am going to do to you is going to be f***ing disgusting. Do you understand me? Don't think you can hide behind your pen because it's not going to happen.

Reporter Tim Mak: Look ..

Michael Cohen: I am more than happy to discuss it with your attorney and with your legal counsel because motherf***** you're going to need it.
...
Michael Cohen: Rest assured, you will suffer the consequences. So, you do whatever you want. You want to ruin your life at the age of 20?

I don't know a nicer way to put it.. I think you should go ahead and write the story that you plan on writing. I think you should do it because I think you're an idiot. Alright? And I think your paper is a joke, and it's going to be my absolute pleasure to serve you with a 500 million dollar lawsuit like I told I did to Univision.
...

Michael Cohen: You write a story that has --name-snipped-- name in it with the word rape and I am going to mess your life up for the rest - for as long as you're on this frickin' planet. I am going to turn around, you're going to have judgements against you for so much money, you'll never know how to get out from underneath it.

---- end parts of Michael Cohen tape transcript ---

Note that the Daily Beast and Tim Mak did not get intimidated. They seem to have run their story and Michael Cohen did NOT file any lawsuit against them.

Related article: LISTEN: How Michael Cohen Protects Trump By Making Legal Threats, https://www.npr.org/2018/05/31/615843930/listen-how-michael-cohen-protects-trump-by-making-legal-threats, 31st May 2018

In India too, I get the impression that lawyers, especially criminal lawyers, sometimes get into Michael Cohen type roles. I think some Indian lawyers, especially criminal lawyers, use their position as lawyers and use their knowledge of the law, to threaten people who are performing their duty in a Sathya-Dharma way. I am quite sure that such lawyers and criminal lawyers will have to face negative karmic consequences of their Asathya-Adharma behaviour. They may not get jailed in India like Michael Cohen seems to be headed for in USA. But Almighty God, I am quite sure, will punish them in some other way.
==================================================================

Given below are comments from my Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2271672086382689, associated with this blog post :

Lisa De Witt wrote (slightly edited): Mervyn Hughes also threatened to sue me for telling about --name-snipped-- bossing me about what to post last year. He's probably some poor person!
----

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Oh I see! These guys are the Michael Cohen equivalent of the Sathya Sai devotee community or those that call themselves Sathya Sai devotees even when they go against vital teachings of his related to mediums and communicators! I am sure they will face the negative karmic consequences of such actions of theirs. How can they escape it!
----

Terry Reis Kennedy wrote: THE FRAUDS ARE STILL TRYING TO SHUT US UP. I WENT THROUGH 5 YEARS OF THEIR SECRET BASHINGS AS WELL AS HIGHLY PUBLICIZED ATTEMPTS TO DESTROY ME. CLOSE FRIENDS OF MINE WHO WERE DEVOTEES OF SWAMI'S WHO LEFT THE FOLD AND SLID OVER TO THE DEMONS' NEST STILL CHASTIZE ME. EVEN PEOPLE IN PARTHI WHO DO NOT WORSHIP MADHU AND THE FRAUDS WANTS ME TO STOP POSTING ABOUT THEM. THEY WANT ME TO 'MOVE ON.'
----

[I thank MSNBC and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above transcript of the Michael Cohen tape they played in their above mentioned video, on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Abuse of power followed by cover-up in spiritual missions & ashram systems may lead to revenge and sabotage by victims trapped financially or otherwise in the mission/system

Former altar boy says he stole $100,000 from church as revenge for priest abuse, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/religion/former-altar-boy-says-he-stole-100-000-church-revenge-n903801, 25th Aug. 2018

A small extract from the above:

"Things would manifest themselves and I would be forced to let it out and look at that fear, anger and resentment," he told NBC News in an interview.

--- end extract ---

Ravi: This I think reflects a sad and human-weakness related reality of many non-transparent and non-accountable spiritual missions and ashram systems. Those who are within these missions and ashram systems and financially or otherwise dependent on them, when faced with abuse of power in a sexual way or otherwise, are not in a position to hold their bosses accountable and get justice. These systems have the ingrained culture of cover-up, and the outside community too does not want to know about such things and thereby encourages the cover-up.

In the victim of abuse who is trapped in the system for financial and/or other reasons, slowly the 'fear, anger and resentment' as the former altar boy mentions in the report above, builds up. He/she wants to take revenge on the abuser which may not be possible as the abuser is too powerful. In such cases, thoughts of revenge on the mission/ashram system would enter into their minds. This gentleman ended up stealing a large amount of money from the mission for which he was convicted (no cover-up attempts there by the mission, I guess :-) ). Others may do similar things and perhaps even sabotage.

The concerned spiritual mission and ashram system itself starts getting poisoned with untruth and unethical behaviour (Asathya-Adharma)! It is just a matter of time then before it collapses unless corrective action is taken.

I think this article shows how vital it is for the good health of spiritual missions and ashram systems to have a functioning system of accountability and transparency for complaints of abuse of power by its officials. It is far better to endure the short-term bad media coverage and hit to reputation of the mission/ashram by transparent and accountable handling of any allegations of power abuse against its officials than indulge in cover-up allowing such disease to fester within the body of the mission/ashram system and destroy it from within.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Is the term 'Sathya Sai Fraternity' an appropriate one? Or is it inappropriate as fraternity may get understood as a male only group, a (male) brotherhood?

Last updated on 25-Aug-2018

In Indian English I think the word fraternity goes beyond a male only brotherhood. It means more of a community of people, adult male, adult female and children bonded together as a community-hood (even if it may be referred to as a brotherhood at times, it does not mean a male only brotherhood).

The Indian Republic picked up the words of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity from the French Republic. So the preamble to the Indian constitution uses the word fraternity with the meaning I have given above (and NOT a male only brotherhood). And so in Indian English I think the word fraternity is understood by most Indian English readers to NOT mean a male only brotherhood.

Related extracts from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preamble_to_the_Constitution_of_India

The preamble to the Constitution of India is a brief introductory statement that sets out guiding people and principles of the document, and it indicates the source from which the ordinary document derives its authority, meaning, the people.[1] The hopes and aspirations of the people as well as the ideals before our nation are described in the preamble in clear words. It may be considered as the heart and soul of Constitution.

...

The preamble is based on the Objectives which was [Ravi: were] drafted and moved in the Constituent Assembly by Jawaharlal Nehru on 13 December 1946.[2] B. R. Ambedkar said about the preamble:

It was, indeed, a way of life, which recognizes liberty, equality, and fraternity as the principles of life and which cannot be divorced from each other: Liberty cannot be divorced from equality; equality cannot be divorced from liberty. Nor can liberty and equality be divorced from fraternity. Without equality, liberty would produce the supremacy of the few over the many. Equality without liberty would kill individual initiative. Without fraternity, liberty and equality could not become a natural course of things.[3]

...

As originally enacted the preamble described the state as a "sovereign democratic republic", to which the terms "Secular" and "Socialist" were later added by the 42nd Amendment.[5]

[Ravi: Current preamble to Indian constitution including modification done by 42nd amendment in 1976, is given below.]
WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens
 JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
 LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
 EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all
 FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;
 IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this  26th day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.

...
[Ravi: Explanation of term used in above preamble]
Fraternity

This refers to a feeling of brotherhood and a sense of belonging with the country among its people. It embraces psychological as well as territorial dimensions of National Integration. It leaves no room for regionalism, communalism, casteism etc.,which hinders the Unity of the State.The inclusion of the word "Fraternity" was proposed by Dr. B.R Ambedkar.

   The Preamble declares that fraternity has to assure two things—the diginity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation. The word 'integrity' has been added to the Preamble by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment (1976)...

...
References
1. Baruah, Aparijita (2007). Preamble of the Constitution of India: An Insight and Comparison with Other Constitutions. New Delhi: Deep & Deep. p. 177. ISBN 81-7629-996-0. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
2. M Laxmikanth. "4". Indian Polity (4th ed.). McGraw Hill Education. p. 4.5. ISBN 978-1-25-906412-8.
3. "Fundamental rights in The Preamble,Free Law Study material,IAS Law Notes,Study material for Ancient India Law". www.civilserviceindia.com. Retrieved 2015-10-11.
...
5. "The Constitution (Forty-Second Amendment) Act, 1976". Government of India. Retrieved 1 December 2010.

--- end wiki extracts ---

Given below are some extracts from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libert%C3%A9,_%C3%A9galit%C3%A9,_fraternit%C3%A9 :

Liberté, égalité, fraternité (pronounced [libɛʁte eɡalite fʁatɛʁnite]), French for "liberty, equality, fraternity",[1] is the national motto of France and the Republic of Haiti, and is an example of a tripartite motto.

...
References
1. "Liberty, Égalité, Fraternité". Embassy of France in the US. Retrieved 2014-09-18.

--- end wiki extracts ---

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/fraternity provides two meanings for the word 'fraternity' :

The first meaning is "a group of people who have the same job or interest:" and gives examples of legal fraternity, criminal fraternity etc.

The second meaning is indicated as 'US INFORMAL' and then says, "frat a social organization for male students at an American or Canadian college"

So I think that the usage of the phrase 'Sathya Sai fraternity' to refer to the community of Sathya Sai devotees - adult male, adult female and children - is okay, as one means that they are bonded together in a sort-of loose family relationship with the common feature of being devotees of Sathya Sai. I think it should be understood by readers from the context that we are not referring to a social organization of male students in a US or Canadian college.
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Given below are most of the comments (NOT all comments) from my Facebook post,  https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2270265429856688, associated with this blog post:

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Terry Reis Kennedy - You may want to have a look at the above post.
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Terry Reis Kennedy wrote (slightly edited): Thanks. I saw it. Indian English negates the origins of the word.....the Latin roots. Today few people have any interest (in) words, their meanings, their origins and consequently the vocabulary of highly educated can be limited. I appreciate your careful attention to words......the tools humans rely on for communication..
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Terry Reis Kennedy, It seems to me that UK English too has the same understanding of the word, fraternity, as Indian English, going by Cambridge dictionary reference I have given in the post above. And France is still using the word in its national motto, with that sense (NOT male brotherhood but including females).

I think it is American English mainly that has an issue with the word, fraternity, when used in this manner. And that perhaps is due to American English usage of that word for male only college social organization.

Regarding origins of the word and how the word's meaning in contemporary languages is different: Well, as a small social media writer I have to go by how a word is understood in contemporary languages, especially Indian English as that is what I am accustomed to.

I believe that the meaning of many words changes over time. So perhaps fraternity is one such word.
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Terry Reis Kennedy, Alternate words/phrases for Sathya Sai fraternity that may make it more acceptable to American English readers could be Sathya Sai following or Sathya Sai devotees (which you also had suggested to me in a mail) or Sathya Sai community or Sathya Sai devotee community.

But Sathya Sai fraternity has a certain special ring to it which, I think, appeals to some readers.
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Terry Reis Kennedy responded to above: How about Sathya Sai Family? Women, Children, Men are all included.....Anyway, I noted that the graduates of Anantapur often refer to themselves as a sisterhood...………..
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Ravi S. Iyer responded to above: Family is a term that I use at times. But family typically implies a smaller number than fraternity or community.

I do not use the term brotherhood or sisterhood as there I think the gender specific part comes out rather clearly.
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity - these words associated with the French revolution, at least in its later phases, are famous, I think, in India. I recall being taught about it in school in the context of the French revolution! And I think it is viewed as one of the great contributions of the French revolution to society evolution.

Perhaps that's why the word fraternity has a special ring and a special appeal in Indian English. Further, I do not recall coming across any male only social organization named as some fraternity or female only social organization named as some sorority in India. So this confusion possibility that arises in American context, does not seem to arise in Indian (or UK or French) context.
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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. I similarly thank cambridge.org for a few quoted phrases from their website being mentioned on this post.]

Wonderful that former Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee's family is planning to have a Sai bhajan; AIP Mr. Nimish Pandya should invite state presidents NOT ORDER them

Last updated on 26-Aug-2018

Given below is a comment I made on recent post of Mr. V.R. Ganti, https://www.facebook.com/notes/vr-ganti/is-aip-with-his-deputy-politicising-sai-org-is-aip-trying-compete-with-c-sriniva/10213054773988676/ :

Former Prime Minister of India, late Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a committed devotee of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, and contributed greatly to India's development and growth. As a resident of India and an Indian citizen I am deeply grateful to Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee for his dedicated service to the nation, which benefited millions of Indians including me.

Shri Vajpayee also publicly repudiated Western media led attacks on our beloved and revered Lord, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. As a Sathya Sai devotee, I am deeply grateful to Shri Vajpayee for that.

A Sai bhajan being held at Shri Vajpayee's residence is a wonderful occassion for Sathya Sai devotees to pray for Shri Vajpayee's soul (mind/subtle body) and also to pray to Bhagavan to give courage and strength to the family of Shri Vajpayee who cared for him for so many years, to bear with this great loss. It is a matter of happiness to me that Shri Vajpayee's family has planned a Sai bhajan.

I don't think it is inappropriate for Shri Nimish Pandya to invite, I repeat, invite, state orgn. heads of India or their representatives to attend the bhajan. After all, it is a great honour for the Sathya Sai organization to be invited to attend a Sai bhajan at the residence of former PM Vajpayee. Interested state Sathya Sai orgn. heads of India being given an opportunity to attend the bhajan as a way to show respect, love and gratitude of the Sathya Sai orgn. to Shri Vajpayee for his committed support over decades to the Sathya Sai movement, I think is very appropriate.

What I am uncomfortable with is the "order" of Shri Nimish Pandya to do that. In this context I must also mention that I was very disturbed to come to know of how displeased the recently removed state president of Maharashtra, Shri Ramesh Sawant, has been with the reported dictatorial behaviour of Shri Nimish Pandya. In my nearly decade long association with Sathya Sai Seva Orgn. Maharashtra (Dombivli samithi) from around 1993 to 2002, including six stints of Prasanthi Seva, it was Ramesh Sawant sir who was at the forefront of Maharashtra Sathya Sai orgn. work in Maharashtra and in Prasanthi Nilayam. Ramesh Sawant sir was loving and accessible. I am very grateful to Ramesh Sawant sir for his leadership of Maharashtra Sathya Sai orgn. Shri Nimish Pandya was ***never*** in the forefront for such service activities. But he used to be associated with the drama program of Asadhi Ekadasi in Prasanthi Nilayam and would get verandah seating.

That Mr. Nimish Pandya reportedly dismissed or ousted Shri Ramesh Sawant as the Maharashtra Sathya Sai orgn. head is very disturbing news to me. Mr. Pandya may be a good orator but in terms of Sathya Sai orgn. Maharashtra leadership and service commitment he does not come anywhere close to Ramesh Sawant sir.

After Sathya Sai Mahasamadhi in April 2011, I was direct witness to horrible level of power craze in Prasanthi Nilayam system. Fear of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba pulling powermongers up was gone! Power craze had come to the fore. A favourite mantra used by some powermongers was that it was time for youth to be given control of Prasanthi Nilayam system. So immature youth got into positions of power and indulged in massive abuse of power. They used their power to humiliate elders and boss over them. The result was that many elders simply quit Prasanthi Nilayam system and Prasanthi Nilayam system got considerably weakened at a time when it was already under assault and poaching from Muddenahalli group even though Muddenahalli group had not gone public then (before May 2014).

And the weird thing was that these youth in positions of power were controlled by elders who were old people! So the "give power to youth" mantra seemed to me to be a convenient way for some old people in power to push their youth followers (sycophants) into positions of power, thereby consolidating the power of these old people and marginalizing other old people who had previously been in positions of power in PN system!

Such things were possible in Prasanthi Nilayam system in the first year or two after Mahasamadhi due to lack of transparency and accountability in the management of Prasanthi Nilayam system. Everything was supposed to be confidential! And decisions of the power-crazy bosses were supposed to be Swami's will!

Now I get the feeling that All India President, Mr. Nimish Pandya is using a similar non-transparent and non-accountable management style, and cornering power for himself and his cronies.

Mr. Nimish Pandya should NOT be allowed to become a dictatorial ruler who orders around everybody in the Sathya Sai organization including state presidents of the Sathya Sai organization. Decision making should involve a level of consensus among top office bearers of Sathya Sai organization.

Otherwise there will be an exodus of people of integrity from Sathya Sai organization leaving behind only sycophants who will unquestioningly follow the orders of Mr. Nimish Pandya, which will be very unfortunate for the Sathya Sai movement. Of course, some of the people from this potential exodus may end up joining Muddenahalli group, to make things worse for Sathya Sai movement.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Some thoughts of mine about software techie spiritual aspirants, Hinduism, Science, Christian faith etc.

Last updated on 31-Aug-2018

Note: The post contents below have only my part of a conversation with another person. Readers may want to look at the full conversation post here: http://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2018/08/conversation-on-software-techie.html .

[About being software techies and novices on spiritual path:]

I think most of us are in the learning boat. As software techies (software developers & designers) we get trained rather ruthlessly by the computer to be respectful of truth. If the program or the design/architecture of the software has serious flaws, the computer ruthlessly exposes the flaws when the appropriate input triggers the flaws leading to the software not working properly. The computer does not try to be nice to us neither can we try to boss over the computer to "behave" and run our software "properly". We come to terms with the fact that, virtually always, the problem is in our program and/or design/architecture of the software, and that the computer is virtually always truthful to its task of running the program as per instructions given to it.

I think this training of our minds to be respectful of the truth is a great benefit of having been or being in the software development field. And I think it is this respect for truth that is vital in both the spiritual quest as well as in science.

[About statements like 'I am God' in Hindu Vedanta:]

Well, here I think the definition of God in the context of a person, comes into play. My understanding of Hindu belief and scripture in this matter is that there is the absolute formless God - Nirakara Parabrahman is one term for it - which is all pervasive in the universe. There is no place where it is not. And then there are Avatars who are superhuman divine figures endowed with superhuman and divine power who take birth as a form (animal or human - Matsya, Kurma, Varahari, Narahari, Vaaman, Rama, Krishna etc.). These are referred to by many as Godmen (or God-animals too, I guess for Matsya, Kurma, Varahari and Narahari/Narasimha). But I think it is imprecise to refer to them as Godmen as that implies they represent all aspects and powers of God. Avatar is a much better term as it does not imply that they represent all aspects and powers of God. And then there are saints and rishis who through spiritual inspiration, practices etc. attain some divine powers and get some divine revelations. The key difference between Avatar and saint/rishi being that the Avatar does not do any particular spiritual sadhana to acquire divine powers. They are born with those powers which may lay hidden/latent at times but expresses itself appropriately at times which become the signs with which they are recognized as Avatars.

And then there are normal animals and humans (like us), all of which are essentially divine [Tat Twam Asi from Chandogya Upanishad] but they do not have the direct knowledge and experience of their divinity. Hindu scripture (and my Gurudev Sathya Sai) tells us that Maya, the great illusion, born primarily out of the mind and its desires and samskaras (mental impressions/mental tendencies) from previous births, clouds us from knowing our innate divinity and innate reality. So we identify ourselves with our mind-body complex which, Vedanta teaches us, is an illusory projection of our innate reality, the changeless and divine Atma. And this Atma, Vedanta teaches us, is part and parcel of Paramatma.

Nowadays some spiritual masters use the term consciousness or awareness as the Atma (I would use the term spiritual-consciousness or spiritual-awareness to differentiate from more limited meanings, I presume, of consciousness and awareness in psychology related sciences). And they say there is a super-consciousness which spiritually evolved beings (and Avatars, I believe) experience where they experience their awareness/beingness not only in their mind-body but also in mind-bodies of others. I have directly experienced that Sathya Sai would simply know what is in my mind and what I had done even outside his physical presence. Sathya Sai explained to somebody else that he gets such knowledge as he is the consciousness not only in his body (mind-body, I would say) but also in the bodies (mind-bodies) of others.

I have never experienced such a state where I felt myself (my awareness/beingness) as part of another person's mind-body and thus know about what they are thinking or had done (having access to mind and memory of others). But Sathya Sai had that awesome divine power. And so I now believe accounts in holy scripture where Avatars like Krishna had such powers and more.

[Hindu view of God is more than divinity permeating the universe and its laws:]

Hindu view of Divinity/God which I believe in, is more than divinity permeating the universe and its laws which include what I view as spiritual laws like law of karma. Hindu belief (and Christian belief) includes the power of prayer to the Divine which, at least at times, results in Divine power interceding in worldly affairs to help the supplicant (person making the prayer). E.g. Narasimha Avatar responding to prayers of Prahlada. Jesus healing some of those who prayed to him for help.

And then both Hindu and Christian belief include the great possibility/potential of humans evolving spiritually and getting divine / superhuman experiences. In Hinduism there is the vital possibility of the spiritual aspirant experiencing great and powerful states of divinity like one where he/she experiences himself/herself in all and all in himself/herself.

[About how Karma and rebirth would be viewed by hard science and by logic and philosophy:]

Well, hard science is a very rigidly delineated system of acquisition of knowledge and of the body of such acquired knowledge. Objective verification using human senses and/or well understood scientific instruments is a starting point for scientific investigation of any phenomenon. This is where Karma and even rebirth become very difficult things to bring into the realm of hard science investigation. Whatever work is done by parapsychology sciences and rebirth studies (like what University of Virginia, USA is famous for) is rejected by top hard science scientists as pseudo-science.

Science will not even accept the entry of such a theory/law of Karma into any proper scientific investigation! I mean, I cannot imagine Nature (top scientific publication/magazine) publishing a scientific paper (as against a casual column/article) examining law of Karma. Now I don't usually read Nature magazine and so I may be wrong here. But I doubt it. I have corresponded with a couple of top scientists who read Nature and such stuff. I doubt such top scientists will accept Karma as a valid scientific phenomenon on which scientific investigation articles should be published in Nature. These guys are very solid and very protective gatekeepers of top level hard science publications.

But theory of karma will not have any conflict with logic or philosophy (religious philosophy) as a possibility. I think they would still demand evidence for a statement that Karma is fact. I would say that Karma is belief and NOT logical/philosophical established fact.

[About Karma and Christian belief:]

Karma along with rebirth is a pretty satisfying catch-all theory though very elastic in exactly when and how the effect will take place. But Christian belief rejects rebirth. And so I don't think they buy the Karma theory the way Hindus do.

[About Christian salvation (being 'saved') and Hindu Moksha:]

I don't know Christian theology well enough to make proper comments here. But from what little I know, I think that Christian theology has the view that God is outside of us. I also don't think they talk of people merging in God. The impression I have is that Christian theology views humans as lesser than God and distinct from God, but that humans have been created by God in the image of God. So humans being 'saved' by God or attaining salvation in Christianity, I think, means that the person is saved from suffering the consequences of sins including the original sin of Adam & Eve which is inherited by Christians as per their belief (humanity as per their belief), and leading an eternal blissful life in the presence of God (but separate life from God) in Heaven. Those who do not get 'saved' are expected to suffer in Hell. I think these beliefs are quite central to Roman Catholic Church belief and I guess it would be somewhat similar in many Protestant church beliefs.

So I don't think Christians who deeply believe in Church doctrine would view being 'saved' as attaining 'moksha'. However, Christians who are willing to be a little elastic on such Church doctrine matters could view being 'saved' as attaining 'moksha'.

[About giving up ego and Moksha:]

Letting go of the ego is an important aspect of spiritual evolution. But I think there is more to be done for attaining Moksha (freedom/liberation from illusion of Maya and worldly bondage). Typically one views ego as pride associated with one's mind and body, possessions and achievements. Humility would be viewed as its opposite and a very desirable spiritual quality for spiritual aspirants.

But the key thing for Moksha is getting out of the illusive and false (bhrama) identification of one's reality with one's mind-and-body, and getting into the real and eternal identification of one's reality with one's Atma (divine and unchanging awareness/consciousness). Hinduism talks of overcoming the six flaws of Kaama (desire including sexual desire), Krodha (anger), Lobha (Greed), Moha (infatuation), Mada (pride) and Matsarya (jealousy), which can then lead to a calm and peaceful (and thoughtless) mind at which time one can more easily experience one's unchanging and eternal awareness which Hindu scripture says is the source of the mind (and the body).

[About basis of belief in Karma and rebirth:]

For me, it is revelations from Avatars and evolved spiritual masters/Rishis about Karma and rebirth, that is the basis of my belief in Karma and rebirth. Yes, the theory of Karma does answer, when interpreted elastically, various things we see in life. But that alone would not have made it a strong belief of mine. It is the revelations about it in Hindu scripture, and in my case by my beloved Gurudev Sathya Sai Baba, that makes it a core belief of mine. In particular, I try to avoid hurting others as far as possible (excluding case of self-defense), partly as a way of life taught by Sathya Sai, but also as a way to avoid negative karmic consequences that I would suffer if I deliberately hurt somebody (unless in self-defense), in this birth or a future birth (if I do not achieve Moksha in this birth).

[About who created the creator:]

My belief is that there are some things beyond human mind comprehension. Who created the creator is one such thing.

[About the coming of Avatars:]

My strong belief based on Hindu scripture which I think matches Christian scripture too, is that God loves his creation, especially humans that he has created. So God descends as Avatar among human society when things go very bad and shows humanity the right way to live (Dharma) for that particular age. But there is also the prayer of devotees for God to help them that is vital for God's coming down to world (or coming outside into world from inner being reality of all of us) as an Avatar. It is intense prayer and calls for help that triggers the Avatar's coming.

[About suitable spiritual path for persons with family responsibilities:]

What I have observed from being with many family people who are spiritual aspirants too, is that the Jnana marg (wisdom path) as followed and preached by Nisargadatta and Ramana in the 20th century, is NOT suitable for family people who have family responsibilities to fulfill. Yes, they can read up the theory parts of it but NOT get into deep practice as that involves renunciation and Vairagya (detachment) which can wreck the family.

Instead the safer approach is the mix of Bhakti (devotion) and Seva (service) where the family members are viewed as gifts of God and whose service is the Tapas (spiritual austerity) that the family member is doing in a spirit of love and selflessness. That is very powerful spiritual practice to conquer desire, anger, greed, infatuation, pride and jealousy.

In the fullness of time, such persons may eventually find themselves to be in a position where they have discharged their family responsibilities and can then pursue a more intense Jnana marga path involving renunciation and vairagya. At that time, the earlier foundation being laid of conquest of lower urges of desire, anger, greed, infatuation, pride and jealousy, may make further spiritual progress and evolution through Jnana marga very easy.

[Spiritual masters and scripture influence on my life:]

It is very clear to me now that Sathya Sai, Shirdi Sai and Ramana Maharshi along with the large body of Hindu scripture from Veda to Vedanta to Geeta to Bhagavatam and other Puranas and Ramayana, have had a very big influence on my spiritual understanding and views. But I had to do a lot of thinking and contemplation too, to understand it from my individual life perspective and to, many times, get a more nuanced understanding and come out of some misunderstandings that I had had of some of Hindu scripture/Sai/Ramana teachings.
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Given below are some comments of mine from my Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2269399336609964, associated with this blog post :

In response to a comment, I (Ravi) wrote:
Oh! I certainly am still a spiritual aspirant with my share of human weaknesses to overcome.
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In response to a comment about my post being reposted sans my name and that my name would be provided on request, I (Ravi) wrote:
Sure. You are welcome.
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In response to a comment, I (Ravi) wrote (slightly edited) :

Thanks for your comment and the kind words in it. I would like to respond in detail to one sentence in your comment, "Man is duty bound and in his late age he is free to pursue more (vigorous) bhakti or even renouncing the family."

While I think that your above statement applies to a majority, perhaps the vast majority, of Sathya Sai devotees and perhaps of mankind in general, it is important to note that there are some men and women who are blessed to pursue vigorous Bhakti and even renunciation from their middle age and even youth at times.

I felt it appropriate to provide some practical cases of the above, in our Sathya Sai devotee fraternity.

There are some Sathya Sai devotees who Bhagavan has inspired to stay unmarried and also take care of their parents. Such a life is very challenging. But I have seen that in Puttaparthi in quite a few cases. I myself got the mental strength and inspiration from Bhagavan's teachings, to take care of my mother during her old age and illness days as an unmarried person, for a period of over five years, where I used to work flexi-time and part-time as a software consultant so that I could take care of mother and also earn money to meet living expenses of mother and me, and pay medical bills of mother's medical care including several hospitalization stints. I was living in Dombivli (city near Mumbai) then and working for Mumbai software companies as a consultant. My father had passed away in my boyhood when I was around 15 years old. My software career nosedived as I had become a part-time consultant. But my spiritual career blossomed as I served my mother and got deeply associated with the Sathya Sai samithi in Dombivli.

My mother passed away in February 1999. Her last words to me on her hospital bed and when she knew was going to give up her body (die at physical level), were that I had taken good care of her! After that I saved some money till Sep. 2002 and then was able to focus my energies on spiritual quest from Oct. 2002 at around 40 years of age as a free service spiritual sevak (worker/volunteer) and sadhak.

Without Bhagavan's teachings and inspiration and the moral support of Sathya Sai Seva Samithi Dombivli, I would not have been able to do what I described above.

After Oct. 2002 by Bhagavan's Grace and, I am quite sure, my mother's blessings for me having served her during her old age and illness period, I had the great good fortune of serving Bhagavan in Prasanthi Nilayam system as a free service person - Short stint of weeks or months in Radio Sai, in Planetarium etc. and then as Staff/Faculty in Sai university from Jan. 2003 till Mar. 2012. This allowed me to have regular Darshan of Swami, listen to his discourses live, and interact closely with many people who had spent many years, sometimes decades, in Prasanthi Nilayam system and had had many physical interactions with Swami.

This period has been the most productive spiritual growth period for me. Being in regular physical presence of the Avatar of the age, even if I was never physically close to Swami, taught me immensely about devotion to God and real spiritual dedication.

I shared the above NOT to pat myself on my back :-). I shared it just to show that all men and women need not wait till old age for a life of rigorous spiritual quest involving Bhakti, Seva and/or Jnana paths along with renunciation.

And there are quite a few cases of similar unmarried men and women in Puttaparthi who take care of the parents or have taken care of them till they passed away. Some of these persons have ***dedicated*** their life to Swami's mission. I know some of these persons and when I was associated with Sai university and Prasanthi Nilayam ashram, I have closely interacted with them. Bhagavan's teachings, example and inspiration is what would have contributed to such persons leading such lives.

To conclude, what I want to say is that leading an unmarried life and taking care of parents, and vigorously following Bhakti and other spiritual paths, is possible even today. There are quite a few living examples of that in Puttaparthi. Such persons keep a low profile and are not talked about much in Sathya Sai media outlets. But long timers in Puttaparthi know them and have huge respect and affection for them due to them leading such lives which surely would make Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba very, very happy.
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