Saturday, January 5, 2019

What is the next step after the petition signing activity draws to a close?

Last updated on 5th Jan. 2019

This is a frequent question that I get for our petition: https://www.change.org/p/sathya-sai-devotee-fraternity-worldwide-we-condemn-spiritual-fraud-madhusudan-rao-naidu. My response is no next step. But I think I need to elaborate on it.

The initial sentences of the petition text clearly say that it is NOT a petition to government authorities. It is a declaration, a public stand, by devotees and few alumni & staff about Madhusudan Rao Naidu being a spiritual fraud.

Why is it not a petition to government authorities?

Well, from what we have seen since 2015, it is clear that not only in India, but also in USA and in Singapore and in UK and perhaps also in Nigeria, the government authorities do NOT want to get involved in this Madhusudan Rao Naidu spiritual fraud matter! The government authorities (police, courts of law, top ministers etc.) come into play when there is illegality involved - civil or criminal. Madhusudan Rao Naidu claiming to be a so-called communicator of Sathya Sai is NOT something the government authorities themselves will want to examine whether it is legal or not. That is upto some citizen of associated country to first file a complaint with the police or file a court case, say for identity theft of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba name. So far, to the best of my knowledge, nobody either in India, or in Singapore, or in USA or in UK has made any such police complaint of something like identity theft. I know that an attempt was made in India a few years ago to lodge a case of financial fraud against Muddenahalli group by a donor who felt cheated, but it seems the legal view was that there was no financial fraud/crime, and so no criminal complaint/case was made.

The police complaint in Nigeria resulted in an investigation which eventually seems to have said that no evidence of crime committed in Nigeria by Muddenahalli group has been found. We may not like to talk about this. But I think that is the truth.

Freedom of religion laws in India, I think, allow any Indian citizen or foreign person residing in India or visiting India, to believe in Madhusudan Rao Naidu's claim. Muddenahalli group NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) may be going against Swami teachings in their fund collection efforts but their fund collection efforts are NOT illegal in India, or in Singapore, or in USA or in UK. Soliciting funds for a registered charitable trust or NGO is NOT illegal in India, and as far as I know, NOT illegal is most countries of the world!

Where there may be illegality is in, as I mentioned earlier, the identity theft by Madhusudan Rao Naidu of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's name. But for that illegality to be investigated and established, some appropriate person/trust (e.g. Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust) has to file a complaint of identity theft. That does not seem to have happened yet.

Given the above, I think there is no point in raising a petition to any government authority in India. The same may be the case for USA and some other countries.

The government authorities of various countries seem to have the view - Hey, this is not our problem. This is your community problem. You folks resolve it yourselves. Don't come to us to solve your internal community problem!

So I/we have sought signatures for a public declaration aimed at Sathya Sai devotee fraternity worldwide including alumni and staff of Sai educational institutions.

How will Public Declaration help to counter Madhusudan Rao Naidu spiritual fraud?

But how will public declaration help?

Well, there are very few Sai organization heads who have publicly condemned Madhusudan Rao Naidu. Yes, a few trustees of Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust have done so and some top office bearers of Sai International organization have done so. But some Sai organization heads have NOT done so.

While some people are active on social media opposing Madhusudan Rao Naidu, we do not have a public list of people who are publicly willing to support the statement that Madhusudan Rao Naidu is a spiritual fraud who is misusing the HOLY NAME of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

So for most devotees of Sathya Sai it is a mixed signals situation. Some top leaders and some people on social media oppose Madhusudan Naidu but that's it. The majority says nothing and further there are many who are hidden sympathisers/supporters of Madhusudan Naidu/Muddenahalli group.

This declaration/petition is aimed at showing the Sathya Sai devotee community at large a list of people who are willing to publicly support a condemnation of Madhusudan Rao Naidu as a spiritual fraud. Once the other devotees see such a list of hopefully many people, they will realize that it is not just a few Sai organization leaders having this view but that there are a lot of people with this view. That may help some devotees to escape from the Madhusudan Rao Naidu trap and help others to avoid falling into the Madhusudan Rao Naidu trap.

Now I also aimed the declaration at alumni as it is the alumni group that has been conspicuously hesitant to publicly condemn Madhusudan Rao Naidu who is one of their own, an alumnus of SSSIHL! But not many alumni have signed with public comment stating that they are alumni (around 5 so far - that's it). As I said in updates to the petition, most alumni will sign only if some alumni leader or senior alumni-staff of Sai educational institution publishes such a petition, and so I hope some alumni leader or senior alumni-staff will do that in the near-future.

On the other hand, a lot of devotees worldwide have signed so far! The current count is 237 (at around 11.15 PM IST, 4th Jan. 2019). That's very good!

These 237 names include one test-name and one or two duplicates and perhaps some signatories who have signed but have chosen not to put their name on the petition. Let's say that on downloading the list of signatories I get around 200 names with city/town and country. It would be great to publish these 200 names with place and country as a PDF file and link that on Facebook and blog and perhaps on a website like The True Sai (thetruesai.weebly.com). The last petition created by Sai Mafalda two years ago against Muddenhalli group got over 1500 signatures but its list of signatories was not shared publicly.

Need help and advice on ethical issues related to publishing list of signatories' names

But to publish this list of names with place and country, I am running into some ethical issues where I need help and advice from readers. As this is my first published change.org petition, I was NOT AWARE that I would be able to download the list of signatories with their town/city/state and country. Instead I had a sentence: "We request those who sign this declaration (petition) to mention their official (real) name and the place they are based in (city/town/village and country)." as part of an instruction to readers of the petition/declaration. However, most people have not followed those instructions, with some only signing the petition without any comment or 'reason for signing'.

What I should have done is put in a statement in the petition like "Please note that the list of signatories' names with town/city/state and country will be shared publicly."

But now what should I do? Should I put up a simple update post in the petition (which gets sent by email to those who have signed unless they have unsubscribed), say tomorrow, that states as follows:
"Please note that the list of signatories' names with town/city/state and country will be shared publicly. If you have signed but do not want your name and place and country to be shared publicly, please say so in a mail to me at this address: ravi@raviiyer.org ."

Would that be an ethical/Dharmic thing to do? Will people be OK with it? Please let me know your views. Thanks. Jai Sai Ram!
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My associated Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2383718541844709, has some comments.

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