Omniscience and Truth
(Revised and Enlarged Version)
Copyright © Brian Steel 2002
"Remember that Swami knows all that is happening ..."
(Sathya Sai Speaks, XXII, 12:97)
As counter-evidence to the Divine image claimed by and for SB, Chapters 2 and 3 offered a number of compelling examples of SB's lack of omniscience, and of other examples of some of his original errors, confusions and inventions being edited out of official printed translations of his Discourses.
The present chapter deals with the subject in more depth and in a more organised fashion, thus adding much further evidence for the basic suggestion that SB's words and stories often undermine and invalidate his claims of omniscience. As well as many errors, the chapter presents examples of surprising or unverifiable statements offered by Baba on a variety of topics. In making such remarks, SB appears to be speaking quite spontaneously, for effect, perhaps, and with little or scant regard for the TRUTH which he purports to personify. (And, remembering the lessons of Chapter 3, we must always bear in mind that his dutiful translators and editors have probably excised many other embarrassing slips of the tongue.)
The number and range of such discrepancies have been increasing in the past few years, and now appear quite capricious. From an objective point of view (a basic commodity of life which a disaffected devotee - like myself - instantly regains), an extremely perturbing aspect is that, even when written references are made to some of these phenomena in the SB literature by (hagiographic) devotee writers, both they and other devotees appear to dismiss them indulgently as unimportant, as SB's little jokes (leelas). However, given the quantity and the nature of the examples (like those offered in Chapters 2 and 3 of this book, as well as others pointed out by fellow recent contributors to the Internet 'debate', in particular tenacious Serguei Badaev and indefatigable Robert Priddy - see www.exbaba.com and www.saiguru.net for more details), such facile and contemptuous dismissal ceases to be an adequate or intelligent reaction to the 'omniscience problem'.
Until the recent flurry of accusations of all kinds against SB, the main critics of SB's powers for several decades have been the Indian Rationalists (or Skeptics), and especially their leader, B.Premanand. (See Bibliography) In his recent book, The Spiritual Tourist, Mick Brown refers to the latter and to other critics of SB's infallibility and omniscience. He quotes their explanation of SB's perceived ability to read minds as being "achieved through a combination of information being gained by his helpers and the technique of 'cold reading', whereby facts are drawn out of the subject and fed back to them later, without their realising it, questions are disguised as statements and nods or meaningful silences are used to give the impression that he knew all along what the subject was talking about." (p. 73)
However, until the Internet burst of critical activity from 2000 on, the only disciplined written source claiming inconsistencies and errors in some of SB's 'omniscient' pronouncements was Chapter 4 of a privately and Internet-published highly critical general work about Baba by the Canadian academic and sceptic, Dale Beyerstein, Sai Baba's Miracles. An Overview. This work (of 75 pages) is no longer available at the old URLs but will soon be available again at the new address of the British Columbia Skeptics website, http://seercom.com/bcs/. A printed copy is also available for $10 from the Indian Skeptics Organisation at: http://www.indian-skeptic.org/html/index.html.
In the 28 pages of this chapter ('Does Sai Baba have Complete Telepathic Knowledge?'), Prof. Beyerstein presents an interesting and perturbing series of factual errors observed in SB's Discourses, principally in quoting or describing the words or actions of famous people and, in addition, in a series of SB's unsupported statements about the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ, followed by expert opinions on these lapses or inventions.
In this chapter, we shall examine more of the new evidence which has continued to accrue since Beyerstein did his original research over ten years ago, and in particular in the past two years (2000-2002).
From the SB devotee side, the major contribution to the subject of SB's omniscience was that of the learned Hindu scholar, holy man and staunch Baba devotee, Ra. Ganapati, who was so preoccupied with the matter of Indian opposition to Baba in the early years and his own struggle with his recurring doubts about Baba's omniscience that he wrote a 100-page book listing the various discrepancies observed and his own satisfactory resolution of the paradox (Avatar, Verily!) as an addendum to his well-known early book, Baba: Satya Sai. The addendum was then incorporated into revised editions of Baba: Satya Sai, Part II as Chapter 46 (pp. 111-202).
Any serious student of SB's omniscience must take this lengthy and learned study into consideration (in particular, pages 120-173). In writing in such a critical and open way, Ganapati was unique among devotee writers, and, in the more heated atmosphere of Indian devotion to Sai Baba, his attitude showed great integrity and bravery. Ganapati was successfully able to resolve his own doubts by finally positing both SB's human frailties and the concept of Kshobhana, the Avatar's capacity to test his devotees by confusing them. (See especially Ganapati, II, pp. 164-173.)
In assuming this human form (argues Ganapati), Baba (like other Avatars) assumes some of the shortcomings of human beings. Later (on pages 158-162), Ganapati reminds us of the important difference between our gross (sthoola) body and the subtle (sukshma) body.
In fact, Kshobhana appears to be related to the more familiar Hindu concept of leela, which, as we have seen, is also frequently invoked as an explanation of anything incomprehensible or strange that Baba (or any guru or Avatar) may do or say.
Ganapati begins by confessing his own initial doubts about SB's materializations and his proclamations about Godhead and Special Powers. The former were very easily dispelled; the latter gave rise to more reflexion on Ganapati's part. Also, like other devotees, Ganapati admits to having felt (and kept silent about) doubts when Baba sometimes:
On pages 123-125, Ganapati lists 6 specific scriptural errors by Baba and says he has come across a few others as well in the Discourses. (See below, under Scriptures: Hindu)
In the first half of this chapter, the errors, discrepancies, contradictions, confusion and inventions relate principally to the following areas:
Details about SB's own Life and Family.
Hindu Stories (more study needed)
Numbers, and Statistics
Note: Discrepancies and inventions involving the Sanskrit language have already been covered in Chapter 2 (SB's Language)
In Part 2 of this chapter, two major areas of particularly dubious or unverifiable (and sometimes conflicting) information are clearly identified from an examination of two recurring annual Discourse themes: Yugadi predictions and pronouncements about Jesus Christ during the SB's Christmas Discourses.
SB's Life, Mission and Family History
The Declaration of Mission by SB - 1943, not 1940
Because of the NEW documentary evidence referred to in the following paragraphs, this serious official chronological error by the SSO should be corrected.
This 'Declaration of Mission' has always been dated in the SB literature and in SSO celebrations and references as 20 October 1940 (when SB was allegedly one month from his 14th birthday). The Golden Jubilee was officially celebrated by the SSO in 1990.
However, the publication in October 2000 of the meticulously researched first volume of a planned definitive 6-volume biography of SB by the well-known Puttaparthi publisher Sai Towers, Love is My Form, shows the quoted 1940 to be three years premature. This evidence changes the chronology of the early years of SB's Mission. In fact, SB spent the school years 1936-1940 in the Elementary School in Puttaparthi, and the year 1940-1941, not engaged on his Mission, as we have been told by all previous commentators, but in Form One of the Middle School at Kamalapura, some 200 kilometres from Puttaparthi, where his elder brother, Seshama, had begun his teaching career.
The compilers of LIMF offer photostats from School registers in Bukkapatnam and Uravakonda (pp. 68-69 and p. 132 and a table on pp. 128-129) to show clearly that Sathya Narayana Raju (whose date of birth is given as 4-10-1929) entered the Bukkapatnam school (17 kilometres from Puttaparthi) on 5 July 1941 and left on 6 April 1942 - apparently without taking the E.S.L.C. Examination. (See later exam story.) The other Register records Sathya's arrival at the distant Uravakonda High School (at which brother Seshama was then teaching) over a year later, on 1 July 1943, but it shows no leaving date. (Incidentally, for future researchers, on this second photostat, Sathya's date of birth is given as 4-10-39 - an obvious mistake, corrected to 4-10-29, but with a signed clarification, "fourth October Nineteen Twentynine" dated, as far as the writing is legible, 11-8-76. However, before too much is made of the 1929 date 'discrepancy', we have been informed, in LIMF, and by other experts on India that such errors were quite common in rural India in those days.)
LIMF 's new chronological evidence, backed up by interviews with SB's contemporaries shows that it was on 20 October 1943 (and NOT in 1940, as has always been claimed) that SB threw down his school books and made the famous declaration: "Maya has left; I am going; my work is waiting." (LIMF, 147; Kasturi, Vol 2, pp. 42-43)
Also dealt with in detail by LIMF is the famous, and highly significant, incident in early 1943 of SB's long and traumatic physical and emotional/mental affliction. Although LIMF is not able to clarify for us the whole of the 14-month gap between schools (1942-1943) - except to suggest that maybe Sathya was given special coaching by his elder brother, the teacher, Seshama) it places the illness between March and May 1943. (The compilers speculate that he was a bit of an embarrassment to the elders of Bukkapatnam because of his boisterous nature and his idiosyncratic activities.) (See LIMF, pp. 95-121)
The compilers of LIMF also state that the preliminary declaration: "I am Sai Baba." "I am of the Bharadwaja Gothra", took place at the end of this illness, on 23 May 1943, a few months before the other more dramatic Mission Declaration in October.
We are told that the strange illness that overcame Sathya Narayana (and which was initially said to be the result of a scorpion bite) in March 1943 involved fever, delirium, reciting Telugu poetry which Sathya had never read, hallucinations, medical examinations, and a general diagnosis as a 'mental' problem. This was followed by medication, more delirium and strange behaviour, herbal medicine, and finally, when the family was convinced that the boy was possessed by a spirit, a violent 2-day period of exorcism, which involved 4 knife marks on the boy's skull and herbal treatment. The idea that such traumatic experiences could have contained a mystical element surely cannot be dismissed out of hand. Indeed, they may well have had an important effect on the important subsequent events just described.
Although the editors of LIMF are at pains (on p. 149) to deny that the 3 year discrepancy in the new date for the Declaration is of any importance, their argument is unconvincing: "Indian spirituality tends to discourage numerous debates on scholarly details relating to time and space. Sri Sathya Sai Baba also disapproves of such debates. ..."
So it would seem that the compilers of this book are trying to rewrite history more correctly, but without criticising Baba or the Sai Baba Organisation for misleading devotees for so many years. The Golden Jubilee was officially commemorated on 20 October 1990 (Sathya Sai Speaks, XXIII, 29:246-256 - 'The Day that wrought the great change'). Interestingly, in that printed account, the year is in parentheses, suggesting that Baba did not state it in his speech, but that an editor added it! "It was the 20th of October (1940) - a Monday. This is what I declared on that day:
Know I am verily Sai.
Give up your attachments and attempts;
The old relationships are at an end...
No one, however eminent, can alter my resolve."
In this endlessly convoluted story, it is to be regretted that even in LIMF there is a discrepancy on the matter of SB's attendance at the ESLC exam (which is dealt with elsewhere in this study).
In addition to the very clear statement on p. 129 (apparently corroborated by an unsourced quotation from SB himself, which appears elsewhere in this analysis in the account of the alleged exam cheating episode) that SB did not take the examination and the Register annotation on p. 69, on p. 76, the compilers state that although SB did not have the minimum attendance to take the qualifying exam at Bukkapatnam [in 1942?], "he appeared for the examination (probably as a private student) the following year." For this, they say, he had to go to Penukonda, and they give a lengthy quotation from SB (also unsourced) saying that he and seven others went from Bukkapatnam to Penukonda to take the exam. Curiously, neither SB's alleged statement nor LIMF mentions passing the exam and on p. 87, LIMF states that in the following year, when his brother took him to Uravakonda High School, SB was "not actually academically eligible for such a transfer of institution and class" but had a transfer certificate from Bukkapatnam School. Therefore, ONE of these statements in LIMF and ONE of the stories attributed to SB must be wrong. (But when could this visit from Bukkapatnam to Penukonda have taken place, if SB left Bukkapatnam school in June 1942?) Yet another set of contradictions in need of clarification.
Another Basic Myth
SB has claimed that Shirdi Sai Baba was unknown in his village (Puttaparthi) when he made his claim to be a reincarnation of Shirdi Baba in 1940 (the date originally claimed). The "official" support for this incorrect claim by SB (about the lack of local knowledge about Shirdi Sai) by the long-time Chairman of the SSO, Indulal Shah, is contradicted by new evidence.
"What makes you so sure that you are Shirdi Baba incarnate?"(Karanjia, 1976:21)
"The very fact that I announced that I am Shirdi Baba 40 years ago, when I was only 10 and when nobody in this part of the South had known or even heard of Shirdi Baba proves this fact." (p. 21) [Another careless double error on SB's part, virtually placing his Shirdi Announcement in 1936, and at age TEN!]
Equally confident is the official backing for this claim, voiced here by the Chairman of the SSO World Council, Indulal Shah:
"All this confirmed more and more my faith in Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's announcement at the age of 14 that He is the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai. What appeared remarkable to me is that He made this announcement in his village where no one had even heard of Shirdi Sai Baba!" (Shah, 1980:51)
Prior to the year 2000, we already had some weak evidence that this was not true: Howard Murphet's Man of Miracles, p. 56: "The name [Shirdi Sai Baba] was only known to a few very old villagers." (Also on p. 58: "known by a few people in the area".) In his scholarly (1986) study of Shirdi Sai Baba, Kevin R. D. Shepherd had written, "It may be observed that photographs of the Shirdi adept were not difficult to obtain at that time..." (Note 77)
However, in 2000, background information in LIMF very strongly contradicted these claims in several places, but in particular on pp. 78-9, where two of SB's classmates recall that Baba had Shirdi Sai pictures in his books and pockets: "He had pasted Shirdi Baba pictures in all his books ans also carried one in his pocket." (p. 78) "He had a picture of Shirdi Sai Baba." (p. 79) On p. 114: "At Penukonda people had heard of Shirdi Sai Baba."
On p. 117, the meticulous (devotee) researchers quote the following extract from an interview they conducted with a contemporary, showing that Shirdi Sai was both known and worshipped in SB's village in the early 1940s. (See also Chapter 7.) "The practice of Shirdi worship was becoming common in Puttaparthi. Raju's uncles, Venkatarama Raju and Venkatasubba Raju, were worshippers of Sai Baba of Shirdi long before Raju announced himself as being 'that' Sai Baba. Venkatasubba Raju brought a Shirdi Baba portrait and started offering worship before it. During the worship, Raju used to sit behind him and, on many occasions, would fall into a trance." (p. 117) Moreover, this uncle "often read aloud the biography of Shirdi Baba."
In the Foreword to LIMF, written by the celebrated octogenarian devotee, Kamalamma, the younger wife of the (late) Karnam, we find further direct support of the young boy's familiarity with Shirdi Sai: "He keeps a Shirdi Baba photo ..." (p. xv)
And, finally, the recent eye-witness account by Vijayakumari quotes SB as saying in 1949: "I had four good friends. After school, we would assemble under a tree and offer worship to Shirdi Baba." (p. 217) The same writer also reveals that SB's elder brother and mentor, Seshama, once made this statement in the presence of the writer: "For schooling, I took him to Uravakonda. My desire was to educate him well and make him an important official. ... But Swami used to sit in front of Shirdi Baba's picture always and offer pooja." [worship] (Vijayakumari, p. 254)
This should surely raise a few questions, even among devotees still convinced of SB's Divine Omniscience.
Different Versions of Childhood Stories
As we have already seen in Chapter 1 with SB's TWO different (and unverifiable) accounts of the early years of Shirdi Sai Baba, SB sometimes chooses (disconcertingly) to give conflicting versions of the facts. In connection with the following example, the meticulous research carried out in Volume 1 of Love is My Form corroborates the impression that SB sometimes makes up details capriciously.
Firstly, on 11 September 1998, and again a year later, on 18 October 1999, Baba delights his listeners by a long reference back to his schooldays and he tells the story of his desk-mates, Suresh and Ramesh, (Sanathana Sarathi, August 2000, pp. 236-241 - an unusually late publication date, 10 months after the Discourse). Note that in describing the way in which he cheated for his friends, SB is also claiming miraculous powers.
The following year, on the same Dasara festival (according to a Special Issue of Sanathana Sarathi for November 2000, pp. 327-330; Discourse for 1 October 2000), Baba, apropos of nothing in particular, again begins some schoolday reminiscences, and proudly repeats in less detail the story of how he helped these rather unintelligent desk-mates, Ramesh and Suresh, to pass the Elementary School Leaving Certificate examination (the E.S.L.C.):
Before the 2-hour exam he told them to pretend to write answers. In the exam they sat far apart. "I wrote for both of them in their handwriting after finishing My paper within half an hour." (p. 330). When the results were posted, only Baba and his two chums had received First Class results. In the ensuing oral examination, the other two were unable to answer the questions but Baba had told them to say that they had known the answers during the written exam. So, apart from claiming a considerable personal feat (and a miracle), Baba, the Educator, is condoning cheating and dishonesty. A little odd. Odder still, however, is the specific news, backed up by documents (in LIMF, p.129), that: "Sathya's school records at Bukkapatnam indicate that, in 1942, he was not allowed to take the ESLC examination as he did not have the minimum required attendance at school." The photocopy of the school register is also offered as evidence on page 69. The researchers go on to say that "All the 41 students, who attended the ESLC, failed. (Sathya joked that they had all failed because they had gone to take the exams without him.)." [The editors do not give a reference for this alleged remark.]
This carefully researched LIMF volume had only just been published when Baba gave this third version of his story in his Discourse of 1 October 2000. The encyclopedic LIMF makes no mention of these companions, although it traces many other schoolmates of SB. He must have known about the book, which had been in local preparation for 7 years by the Sai Towers editorial team, who are devotees. He may have seen the presentation copy which the devotee publisher must have given to him. Nevertheless, he seems to have decided, almost compulsively, defiantly, to repeat the extra information including the above and the extra and spectacular revelation (not in the October 1999 version) that his two devoted friends both died (one by suicide) just after his Declaration of Avatarhood and leaving school. LIMF does not mention these deaths either - nor SB's claim that the two boys reincarnated as SB's dogs (Jack and Jill). (In John Hislop's Conversations with Baba (p. 125), SB is quoted as saying simply: "In the school, there were two boys who sat with Swami in the same seat. ... When Swami declared that He would no longer go to school, one boy committed suicide. The other boy went mad. He would call, 'Raju, Raju,' all the time. At length he died.")
Having provided convincing contradictory evidence to one of SB's stories, the editors of LIMF try to reduce its importance but merely succeed in compounding the suspicion of inaccuracy on SB's part with the following statement: "In a number of Discourses, Sri Sathya Sai Baba has referred to His classmates under various names, such as 'Ramesh', 'Prakash', 'Suresh', 'Sudhir' and 'Paresh'. Our thorough search failed to locate their existence in any of the four schools in which Sathya studied as a boy. It is possible that Sri Sathya Sai Baba chooses not to disclose their real names, in order to protect their privacy." (LIMF, p, 61, footnote 8) Possible, but surely most unlikely since most of SB's schoolmates have been described and pictured in the 600-page large format book which only covers the years 1926-1950.
Just to complicate the issue a lot more, a recent eye-witness memoir of SB's schoolboy stories as told in 1949, Smt. Vijayakumari, quotes SB as speaking of four special friends whom he helped in examinations, "I had four good friends. ... During the exams, I would tell the four of them what questions would be given in the question paper. Once, when one of them did not attend the exam, I answered the paper in his handwriting."(Vijayakumari, p. 217)
And two relevant footnotes to this story give further food for thought on the notions of omniscience and morality":
1. "[Exam seating] Numbers allotted were such that I got 9, Ramesh 300 and Suresh 200." (1 October 2000) In another version (11 September 1998), the seat numbers are 6, 60, and 600.
2. The following brief statement suddenly pops up at the end of the Discourse in which the first version of the exam cheating story/miracle had been given some minutes previously. (11 September 1998 Discourse):
"Some students get the homework done by their brothers and sisters. This amounts to cheating their teacher. This is not correct. Students should do the homework themselves. They should develop good qualities."
On 9 September 1996, in a Discourse on Shankara, SB began to reminisce about a visit to Rishikesh in the Himalayas en route for the sacred shrines at Badrinath and Kedarnath and an invitation to the ashram of the revered Swami Sivananda (who, according to Kasturi, was cured by SB of some unnamed ailment):
"At that time, Shivanaandha and a group of his devotees came to the guest house and requested Svaami to visit Svaami Shivanandha's ashram the next day, which happened to be Shivaanandha's seventieth birthday. Svaami remarked: "It is not Shivaanandha's birthday but Kuppusvaami's birthday ... That Kuppusvaami ceased to exist with the taking of Sanyaasa. He then adopted the name Shivaanandha. That was 26 years ago. Hence Svaami is only 26 years old as Shivaanandha." (Sathya Sai Speaks, XXIX, 45:326-328)
SB (who was also 70 years old at the time of this Discourse) seems to be confusing and conflating two visits to that area of north India: one on 22- 28 July 1957 (to Sivananda's ashram: Kasturi, K1A, 126-134) and the other in June 1961 (to the sacred sites).
Furthermore, the Swami Sivananda website informs us that Sivananda was born on 8 September 1887 (as Kuppusvaami), became a doctor, renounced the world in 1923, was initiated as a Sannyasi by Swami Visvananda on 1 June 1924, began what was to become the world-famous Divine Life Society in 1936, and died on 14 July 1963.
So the truth is that Swami Sivananda's 70th birthday was indeed in 1957, but on 8 September, over a month after SB's visit. By that time, Sivananda had been a Sannyasi for 33 years, not 26. On this basis, the alleged verbatim compliments from SB to Sivananda must be purely imaginary. And SB's linking of his 1957 visit to Sivananda's ashram with the subsequent 1961 visit to that northern area and especially to the Badrinath shrine (which is mentioned in Volume II of Sathya Sai Speaks), with which this Shankara-related digression of SB's began, compounds the confusion.
Equally confusing and confused was a rambling story recently told by SB about a Shirdi Sai devotee named Nana (24 October 2001). At the end of the literal translation by the PREMSAI devotee translators, they felt it necessary to make the necessary revealing comments:
"(NOTE: The details in the above story are slightly different than what Swami has said on previous occasions. According to the book on the life of Shirdi Sai, entitled "Sai Satcharitra", the tonga came only on the last leg of the journey, not from Shirdi itself. The devotee sent by Baba took a train up to Jamner, then the tonga to Nana's remote village. The tonga and driver disappeared, but not the devotee who brought the prasad. The devotee who brought the prasad was named Ram Giri Baba, not Shyam.)"
Jesus's Alleged Prophecy of the Coming of Sai Baba
SB's Discourse of Christmas 1972 contains this unverifiable and unlikely story with the direct claim that Jesus pointed to a lamb and said "Ba-Ba" to indicate the name of his 'successor'. (See Part 2 of this chapter for details.)
SB's trouble with family dates shows up in his Discourse on 6 May 1998 (Easwaramma Day, in honour of his mother).
"Now it is 30 years since the mother of this body passed away." BUT she died in 1972 (26 years before).
Quoting a visit from his mother's spirit: "For 40 years I was with You." She was with SB for 46 years - 1926-1972 (If SB was born in 1926).
Kondama Raju, SB's grandfather:"he ... lived up to 116 years.
Kasturi (K1A, pp. 4-5) says he was 110 when he died. LIMF (p. 22) suggests 112.
Two remarks SB makes in the Discourse suggest that Kondama died in 1954: "Swami was entering His 9th year" [i.e. in 1935] and "After that, he lived for 19 years."[=1954]
Kasturi states that Kondama died in 1950. (K1A, p. 5) LIMF (p. 22) gives his dates as 1840-1952. Two years later, SB states more correctly that Kondama Raju died at 112 years of age but he doesn't mention a year. (1 Oct 2000)
Two more tenuous cases of confusion
There MAY be an error by SB in the dramatic Shiva-Shakti revelations Discourse of 6 July 1963 (Sathya Sai Speaks, III, 15:88-91) - Guru Purnima) - where the accounts of two eye-witnesses (Kasturi and Vijayakumari) differ from the printed version in two details, suggesting that SB himself may have mixed up the names at one point - by suggesting that Shirdi Sai Baba was an incarnation of Shakthi and that Shiva will reincarnate as Prema Sai, rather than the 'correct' reverse, which is what the official printed version offers.
The official edited translation is: "They [=Shiva and Shakti] were so pleased that They conferred even more boons on the sage. Shiva said that They would take human form and be born in the Bharadhwaaja Gothra (lineage) thrice: Shiva alone as Shirdi Sai Baba, Shiva and Shakthi together at Puttaparthy as Sathya Sai Baba and Shakthi alone as Prema Sai." (Sathya Sai Speaks, III: 15:91
The version of the devotee eye-witness, Vijayakumari, is slightly longer and the extra (edited out) details sound characteristic: "She granted him the boon that, in the Kali Yuga, they would take birth as three avatars in his lineage. Shirdi Sai Baba, born in the Bharadwaja gothra, was an incarnation of Sakti. That is why, in that avatar, there was so much short temper. Because it was Sakti Herself, nobody knew much about that avatar. Again, another incarnation of the same gothra is this figure - Satya Sai, the true form of Siva-Sakti, of Gowri-Shankara. The one to come will be in the form of Siva, the avatar of Prema Sai." (Vijayakumari, p. 299) It seems unlikely that Vijayakumari would have made this up and her version seems corroborated in its essential facts by the summary offered by Kasturi: "I am Siva-Sakthi," he declared, born in the gothra of Bharadwaja, according to a boon won by that sage from Siva and Sakthi. Sakthi Herself was born in the gothra of that sage as Sai Baba of Shirdi; Siva and Sakthi have incarnated as Myself in his gothra now; Siva alone will incarnate as the third Sai in the same gothra in Mysore State." (K1B, 88-89)
Error or not, the build-up of evidence of incorrect or dubious stories told by SB can only increase the controversy surrounding this crucial and extremely spectacular claim.
Conflicting Evidence about SB's Date of Birth.
1) The doubt arises because of the School Register photostats published in Love is My Form, Vol. 1, in October 2000. There the date is given on two certificates as 4-10-1929. However, as suggested above, this evidence is far from conclusive, as Indian experts have informed us.
2) However, the following circumstantial evidence has also emerged in a 1999 publication.
In 1993, an elderly lady (Smt. Vijayakumari) completed a book manuscript from notes she claims to have taken since 1945 about her own and her family's close experiences of SB between that date (when she was a young girl), and 1972. Her two teenage brothers, Krishna Kumar and Amarendra Kumar, were close friends of SB's for a few years (and are mentioned in books by other devotees).
(Smt. Vijayakumari does not explain why she waited so long before publishing these reminiscences nor does she comment on why the notes end in 1972. She merely states, on p. 6, that SB named the original book, Anyadha Saranam Nasti on 16 November1996 and gave the order (permission?) for its publication, presumably in Telugu, a year later, on 22-10-97. The English translation, Other Than You Refuge is There None, was finally published - apparently privately - in Chennai in 1999.)
Vijayakumari's book is another example of a close devotee's detailed account of many happy events and conversations but it also contains some interesting snippets of biographical information for the patient researcher (including first hand evidence about one of SB's alleged 'resurrections' - of the girl's father, Radha Krishna - and different versions of some of SB's schoolboy stories). (Incidentally, Professor E. Haraldsson refers to the girl's diary in his investigation of the Radha Krishna incident.)
Among these snippets are a couple which have a direct bearing on the controversial subject of SB's date of birth, brought back into the limelight by new documentary evidence offered (and plausibly rejected) by LIMF in October 2000, and flatly rejected recently on one of the Bull. Boards by an anonymous Telugu expert.
Two innocent quotations offered by Vijayakumari seem to provide a degree of independent support for the possibility (broached by the LIMF evidence) that SB's date of birth was NOT in 1926 but in 1929.
In 1945 the little girl's cousins were strolling in the affluent Bangalore suburb of Malleswaram when they heard bhajans being sung and entered the house to listen. Sai Baba, who was present there, invited them to go to Puttaparthi (whose name they had never heard).
When they returned to their town of Kuppam (south-east of Bangalore, but in today's Andhra Pradesh), the cousins told the girl's mother about their meeting. The latter was keen for them all to go, but the idea was vetoed by the father, who said: "You tell me He is sixteen years old and claims to be a reincarnation of Shirdi Sai. This is all humbug." (p. 12)
That night the mother had a dream of SB and they were then given permission by the father to visit the ashram for three days. This first visit allegedly took place during Dasara, in October 1945. (p.13) The family soon became very close to SB and visited for long periods.
The father's words quoted above indicate that in 1945, SB was 16, which would make his year of birth 1929 (as indicated by the register entries in LIMF). What is also interesting about this possibility is that at the time of the Mission Declarations of 1943 (another biographical adjustment of three years recently proved beyond any doubt by the documentary and other evidence in LIMF), he would have been almost 14 years old - as he and his biographers have always claimed!
And there is yet another possible sliver of corroboration. Vijayakumari later quotes from a story session by SB to devotees assembled on the Chitravati sand dunes in 1949 (pp. 216-218):
"Later, for High School studies, I had to go to Uravakonda. ... ..." (p. 217) "In my thirteenth year, coming to know that I had become a 'Baba' and had left home, one of my friends went mad ... Another friend jumped into a well and died." (p. 218)
We now know, from LIMF, that SB went to Uravakonda in early 1943, and left in October 1943 (when he was still a month away from his 14th birthday) to begin his Mission after the second of his Declarations. So, according to the above quoted statement, once more a 1929 date of birth seems indicated.
As for the possible day of birth, in the school Register photostats in LIMF it is given as 4 October (1929). But maybe it WAS 23 November after all, as has been celebrated, at least since 1946 when we find the first reference in LIMF to an official birthday. It was also celebrated on 23 November in 1950, as Vijayakumari notes, with the Inauguration of Prasanthi Nilayam:
"Till that day, prominence had not been given to Swami's Birthday. But that day we prayed to Swami to permit us to celebrate it." (Vijayakumari, p. 161) (In the Discourses recorded in Sathya Sai Speaks, the first to be labelled as a Birthday Discourse is the one for 1960.)
Apart from the 6 errors mentioned by Ganapati, the subject is completely open for experts to report on. Given the frequency with which SB gives stories based on Hindu scriptures and legends, it should be a matter of some urgency for this essential research work to be carried out.
As a tiny beginning to this huge labour, I can only offer the following quotation by SB: "Shankaracharaya, in the fifth century A.D., went on foot from Kaanchi to Kaashi, Badhri, Kashmir, Kedhaarnath, Kailash or Puri, Shringeri and Kaaladi! And he only lived until the age of thirty-two!" (Sathya Sai Speaks, XI, 8:55) According to three reference books consulted, there is an error of three centuries here, since Shankara, or Shankaracharya, lived in the eighth century A.D. and established monasteries at the four cardinal points of India.
Christianity and Judaism
Note: For multiple discrepancies, inventions, and contradictions about the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ, see Christmas Revelations in Part 2 of this chapter.
On more than one occasion and over many years, SB has demonstrated to his many Jewish devotees that he believes that Judaism and Christianity come under the same religious umbrella and even SHARE the worship of Jesus and the symbol of the Cross. He does not seem to have changed that opinion, in spite of advice from John Hislop and others.
In SB's Sarva Dharma Emblem, there are five symbols for five religions. Noticeably missing is the Star of David, which symbolises the Jewish Faith. It was only because of the persistence of the American Jews and in particular questions from John Hislop that Baba eventually gave permission for Overseas centres and Organisations to add the Jewish Emblem to the Sarva Dharma Symbol, if they wished. To this day, the Star of David does not appear on the Indian Sarva Dharma (nor, interestingly, on that of some Western Nations).
During the following 1978 discussion between Hislop and SB, a surprising fact came to light: Baba did not know that Jews and Christians did not form a homogeneous group.
Hislop: "Swami, some questions arise in the American Centers for which I do not have the answer. Many people of Jewish faith do not understand why the symbol of the Jewish faith is not included in the Sai symbol of all religions, since the Jewish people exceed in numbers some of the other religions represented in the Sai symbol."
Sai: "It is not through any intention that the Jewish Symbol is excluded [from the Sai emblem]. In India, there is not a general awareness that the Jewish symbol is substantially different. Does the Cross fail to symbolize the Jewish faith to a substantial degree?"
MG: "Yes, Swami. There is a substantial difference." [=Michael Goldstein?]
Sai: "Then let the Jewish people make a proposal to us and we will give consideration to it." (J. Hislop, My Baba and I, 1985:186-187; Oct 25, 1978)
SB finally gave a group interview to Jewish devotees at Puttaparthi in 1980. Hislop was present at this meeting and quotes SB as explaining to them: "The Sai symbol of five religions represents the five major religions found in India. For the West, the Jewish Star may be added as a sixth representation on the Sai symbol." (J. Hislop, 1985:191; Dec. 1, 1980)
(It is to be assumed that Hislop, the close devotee and confidant of SB, reported this astonishing revelation about SB's knowledge in the most favorable way. For the record, Hislop (who managed to fill a book with SB's verbatim conversations with him) also states in connection with this meeting with Jewish devotees: "I was unable to keep up with the rapid exchange of questions and answers and could not remember afterwards, largely, I think, because of my unfamiliarity with the subject matter." p. 191)
Among the confused ramblings of SB's Christmas Day Discourse 1996 (see Chapter 3), as captured on a video version but, for obvious reasons, NOT subsequently reproduced in the official printed Discourse, is the following un-omniscient statement:
"Here, at this moment, there are two schools of thought. The first group of thought - Roman Catholics. There is another group that fought with this group. This group is called Protestants. As they protested, they are Protestants. So among Jews there are these two groups: Catholics and Protestants. The difference of opinion has increased day by day. This led to Jesus, whose life was in danger. Jews there in Jerusalem did not permit Jesus to go there."
And on 24 November 1998, SB still maintains that: "In the beginning even Romans were Jews, not Christians."
Ten years ago, a colossal historical/religious error of SB's was pointed out by Dale Beyerstein in his web-book (available on several critical websites). In spite of its enormity, and because of the unconditional faith of devotees, most (including myself) took NO notice!
In his Discourse for 21-8-1986 (Sathya Sai Speaks, XIX , pp. 137-8), SB says:
"A king from Greece [later identified as Alexander the Great] came to India to study the conditions here ..." (p. 137) "He made a study of the Bible, the Quran and Buddhist texts and found that all of this laid emphasis on Truth, ... In the Quran he found that only by adherence to the Truth can one be a real man." (p. 138)
BUT the enormous discrepancy over this religious reference is a THOUSAND years! (Alexander the great - 4th Century B.C. Muhammad (and the Quran) 6th to 7th Century A.D.)
Note: There is an interesting and varied selection of general knowledge errors in Chapter 4 of Dale Beyerstein's web-book, Sai Baba's Miracles: An Overview. A few more are added here.
"Svami fumbled for a moment to recollect the name of the first man to land on the moon. Immediately one of his college students sitting in the front row gave out the name as Yuri Gagarin and Svami repeated it. But it was wrong. Gagarin was the first man to travel round the earth in a satellite. It was Neil Armstrong who was the first to land on the moon." (Ra. Ganapati, Part II:145)
Nowadays, 24 karat gold is pure. Carats are units of weight. Was it different in 1899?
"In 1899, hundred years ago, 110 carat gold was in existence. It was extremely pure and effulgent. Gradually it has lost its value and effulgence on account of its association with different metals like silver, copper and brass. Likewise, man at the time of birth is essentially pure and sacred, but as he grows up, loses his human values due to his excessive desires and association with kith and kin." (Discourse, 16 October 1999) [Just then SB allegedly materialized an 1899 gold coin.] [How can we - and why should we - avoid associating with our kith and kin?]
"The four colours are: black, yellow, white and red. The Negros and Bharatiyas are black in complexion. Japanese and British are white in complexion, while Chinese are yellow and the Russians are red." (24 November 1998)
Robert Priddy (1998, p.259) confesses to being shaken on hearing SB's interpreter say, in a talk by Baba, that "Cricket was first played in Melbourne in 1898".
As we shall see in Chapter 7, one of SB's speaking characteristics is to make boasts and to exaggerate, especially where achievements, figures and statistics are concerned. Some of the examples given below involve that element of exaggeration, sometimes to an extreme degree. (See also Robert Priddy's collection of SB's exaggerations, especially in relation to crowd estimates: 'SB's Exaggerations: The Numbers Game', at http://home.no.net/anir/Sai/saiorg/index.htm)
A very recent case of extreme exaggeration is the following one:
Yugadi 2002 References to the World Bank
According to the official edited translation of his Yugadi Discourse on 13 April 2002, SB made the following statements, some of them excited, jubilant, even boastful. (See: www.sathyasai.org)
"Tomorrow is the New Year Day for Tamilians. ... At present, the people of Madras are suffering due to scarcity of drinking water. The rich can afford to buy water and quench their thirst. But what about the poor? They are drinking impure water and spoiling their health. Hence, I have decided to provide them pure drinking water so that they can lead happy and healthy lives and develop it further for the generations to come. In this connection, Chakravarthy (the Secretary of the Central Trust), Srinivasan from Madras (President, All India Sri Sathya Sai Organisations), and Indulal Shah from Bombay (Chairman of Sri Sathya Sai World Council) have approached the World Bank authorities and explained to them about the selfless service activities that we have undertaken. They told the World Bank authorities that all our activities are purely service-oriented and that we do not expect anything in return. They just repeated like parrots whatever Swami had told them to convey.
"The World Bank people were very much impressed. They said that they had never heard about or seen such stupendous service activities undertaken by a charitable organisation anywhere else in the world. They were happy that Sathya Sai Baba was providing drinking water to a distant place like Madras. They have agreed to bear the expenditure involved in this project. On this sacred day of Ugadi before I came out to give Darshan, we received a telephone call at about 7 a.m. conveying this message. If the feelings are sacred, the result is bound to be sacred. They told us, "You don't need to be concerned about the funds, and you don't need to come to us again. We are prepared to give any number of crores to meet the expenditure." With broad-mindedness, they have come forward to extend their help."
The second paragraph sounds VERY odd. Consultation of the World Bank website (www.worldbank.org) provides the following basic information:
"The World Bank is a lending institution whose aim is to help integrate countries into the wider world economy and promote long-term economic growth that reduces poverty in developing countries. ... It provides loans to member countries ... The World Bank lends only to developing or transition countries..."
So: the World Bank LENDS money to SOVEREIGN GOVERNMENTS, not to non-governmental institutions.
Interestingly, the World Bank also offers to advertise the existence of Charitable Foundations by offering them links from its own site. On its website it advertises a long list of Charitable Foundations which have registered with it. The SSO does not seem to be on that list at this time (May 2002).
(Incidentally, on the World Bank's list of current projects in South Asia, the following would be the closest to Madras/Chennai, but it refers to a loan to the Indian Government and to Government of the State of Karnataka (of which Bangalore is the capital). Chennai (Madras) is in the neighbouring State of Tamil Nadu:
Karnataka Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project (02) P050653 151.6 IBRD/IDA India Water Supply & Sanitation - Active - 12/18/2001.)
So what are we to make of SB's excited observations? Devotees will take them, as usual, as Gospel truth. Others may be puzzled. Could there be a DIFFERENT charitable body involved, whose name SB has (unomnisciently) confused with that of the illustrious World Bank? If so, has that other institution really offered unlimited financial support as SB claims? ("We are prepared to give any number of crores to meet the expenditure.")
[ a crore is 10 million - Rupees, in this case, presumably)]
The literal translation of the original Discourse contains even more surreal details. (See www.internety.com/premsai)
"So in Madras, rich people gave some money and are they are drinking good water. But the poor people and beggars, not having money in hand, are drinking polluted and dirty water, and are succumbing to diseases. I have the desire and have resolved to give pure water to them, to sacredly protect and develop their health, generation after generation, so they can be happy.
Only yesterday, the three, Secretary, Mr. Chakravarthy, Mr. Srinivas from Madras and Mr. Indulal Shah from Bombay, went together to the authorities of the World Bank. They went and explained our sacred seva. They said that this is not merely our (selfish) service. It is seva (selfless service) that we do. We won't experience any results (benefit personally). We won't aspire for results. It is seva that is done without desiring for the results. I told these three this, and they went to the World Bank authorities and repeated these words parrot-like.
All the authorities of the World Bank came here. They declared, "We have not heard about and we have not seen, in any place or in any country, this kind of seva. (Applause) Sathya Sai Baba is giving water like this to Madras which is somewhere else (far from Puttaparthi)." Today a phone call came saying that the World Bank authorities had said, "We will give the entire cost of this." (the project to supply drinking water to Madras) (Applause)
See! On Ugadi day! Sacred results will come when there are sacred feelings.
The Bank authorities said, "You don't need to think anymore (worry) at all. You don't need to come to us again. We will give help to you. We will give any number of crores." (One crore is ten million rupees.)
How great it is that such an enthusiastic feeling came! Twelve hours have not yet passed. They came last night at 7PM. The phone call came at 7AM in the morning when I was coming out. Do you see?"
Dictionaries and Theology
"Any dictionary contains only words which refer to things existing in the world such as birds, beasts and other living beings, as well as inanimate objects. Non-existing things do not have a place in the dictionary. The very fact that the word "God" occurs in all dictionaries is enough to prove the existence of God." (Sathya Sai Speaks, XXV, 17:193)
Top Devotee Country
"In Argentina bhajans are being held in every home [cheers]."(Sathya Sai Speaks, XXIII, 29:255 - 20-10-1990, on the alleged 50th anniversary of SB's 'Declaration').
"I work twenty four hours a day, three hundred and sixty five days a year."(R. Selby. My Trip, in an interview, p. 143)
Other Numerical Inflations
"Just think, Puttaparthi, a mere hamlet of a population of 106 people has already grown to the size of a city housing several lakhs of people." (Discourse, 19 October 1999) [A lakh equals 100,000]
Compare with: India Today, 4 December 2000, p. 39: "Puttaparthi, a town that usually houses 20,000 people ..."
Also, on his birthday in 1982, SB boasted that "Millions will rush to this place and gather here. This will happen soon." (Sathya Sai Speaks, XV, 55:313) If, as seems likely, he meant all at one time, this does not yet appear to have taken place, despite some of the grossly inflated estimates of crowd attendances at SB's birthdays.
More Numbers and Statistics
A closely related characteristic of SB's discourse style is the use of attention-grabbing illustrative examples or analogies involving large numbers. These always sound impressive but cannot always be verified. The following seem reasonable:
the number of breaths taken per day (21,600, according to Baba).
the number of seconds in a year (correctly given as 31,536,000, in Sathya Sai Speaks, 27,11:115).
12,000 miles for blood to travel around the body (in what period of time?).
Also, in his estimate of the number of species on earth, Baba seems consistent:
"Birth as man is the final stage in the upward evolution of the 840 thousand species of living beings. In previous lives, one might have been an insect, a worm, a bird or an animal." (Sathya Sai Speaks, XVI, 25:137 - 10-10-83) "Of the 84 lakhs of species of living beings, no species is afflicted with the disease of insatiable desires as much as man." (XX, 22:186)
Other SB statistics are much more dubious. For example:
"When the Mahabharata was completed, it ran into 100 crores of verses. It was a colossal compendium of all knowledge and ranked as the fifth Veda." (XXI, 26:211) [Since the Indian crore equals 10 million, that amounts to 1 billion (1,000,000,000), which sounds too high.] The following year, SB refers to "the task of writing down millions of verses", which, although vaguer, still sound too high. (Sathya Sai Speaks, XXII, 27:194)
According to Hislop, Baba told him in one of their conversations that in the age before Rama, the average height was 14 cubits (that is, 14 times the distance between the tip of the finger and elbow); then at the time of Rama, 7 cubits, but that in our present Kali Yuga age, the average height is only half that. (J. Hislop, 1978:118) [Check the measurements for yourself!]
Professor Kasturi quotes Baba as proudly announcing to an American: "I know not only what happened 7,000 years ago at the historic battlefield of Kurukshetra but what happened 70,000 years ago, too. I read no books. When you run on the first gear, the car goes forward; shift to reverse gear, you go backwards. I can go forwards and backward in time, and know anything I wish. Time and Space can impose no limitations on Me." (S.P.Ruhela, 1996a:113, quoting from Kasturi's 1975 article, 'The Interviews He Gives', in A Garland of Golden Roses, 50-53.)
In the following examples, there are serious discrepancies, which add to the evidence that SB sometimes simply makes things up as he goes along.
"In the 5000 years of human history, fifteen thousand wars have soaked its pages in blood." (Sathya Sai Speaks, XV, 57:322) But in Volume XX, one of the figures changes:
"... in 5500 years of recorded human history there have been as many as 15,000 wars." (XX; 28:226)
"It is well known that the earth spins around itself at the rate of 1000 miles an hour. ... Moreover, the earth is going round the sun at the speed of 66,000 miles an hour. As a result we have changes in seasons conducive to cultivation of crops." (XXI, 116:129)
Four years later, there is a significantly different figure: "This earth revolves round itself hundreds of miles in an hour." (XXV, 10:110)
Given the grave difficulties in establishing historical facts for Hindu scriptures beyond the beginning of the Common Era (A.D.), the following so precise assertion sounds quite ludicrous: "This was predicted five thousand and forty three years ago by an Indian yogi [[name?]] who declared that India will free herself from the rule of a strange race from the far west in the year Nandha! India achieved Independence from Western rule in the year Nandha." (Sathya Sai Speaks, VIII, 18:83)
A brief reference here to a small handful of very ordinary statements, which take on an extraordinary interest when used by someone claiming to be omniscient. (Further consideration will be given to this trait in Chapter 7.)
"Who is going to be cremated?" I asked them. Washerman Subbanna was there. He said, "Swami, Subbamma died." "Is it! When did she die?" I enquired. "Three days ago, Swami," he replied. I went to the house where her body was kept."(18 October 1999) [SB had always promised to be at her deathbed.]
On 25 October 2001, SB makes this odd statement about the future:
"We built a hospital. As long as I am in this body, there is no problem in maintaining this entire hospital. Who will be able to look after this afterwards?" (Premsai translation from the original Telugu version)
[What about the SSO, and Prema Sai?]
"I told them: No one knows exactly when the Vedas were collated in their present form. Bala Gangadhar Thilak surmised that it must have happened 13,000 years ago; others bring the date down to 6,000 years ago, but all are agreed it was beyond at least 4,000 yrs!" (Sathya Sai Speaks,, IX, 22:116, Prasanthi Nilayam, 14-10-69)
No one knows? Not even Sai Baba?
While leaving it to interested Hindu scholars to check SB's figures in the next example, one may legitimately wonder why SB could not use his alleged powers to perform the inestimable service of re-creating the missing pieces of the Vedas to which he refers. After all, as most devotees are reverently aware, he was only too ready to re-create and materialize what we have been assured is a tiny piece of Jesus Christ's Cross to make a Crucifixion memento for his close servant, John Hislop.
"Untouchability as a social practice must have had its origins in the realisation of this truth." (XII, 48:282) [Why "must have"? Doesn't he know?]
On another occasion, SB vaunts his powers in his customary way: "A.K.C. was wondering when I came how I came exactly at 10.30 as per his announcement over the mike a few hours previously. Perhaps he forgot that I could hear his announcement miles and miles away." (Sathya Sai Speaks, IV, 3:20)
However, in 1968, on arrival in Nairobi, Kenya, a published letter from Baba to Dr. Gokak describes this less confident situation: "When I started to address the audience, Kasturi was missing. He had to translate my speech into English. He could not be located in the huge ocean of humanity; he was called for on the mike. After a search of two hours by the police, Kasturi and company were located." (V.K.Gokak. 1975: 242) (There is a similar report of what Baba told devotees on his return from Africa by an eye-witness, Smt. Vijayakumari, p 323).
But, one is left wondering, why couldn't all-knowing Baba SEE where he was and tell the authorities? (At darshan he is often credited in devotees' accounts with being able to pick out exactly where the wife or husband of a chosen interview candidate is sitting among the thousands sitting at darshan.)
Finally, to end this rather serious section on a lighter note, if the following exchange is true, it is most interesting.
Levin: "Doesn't Swami know the difference between a photostat and a forgery?" Kasturi: "How can he know that? He's only from a village." (H. Levin, 1996b, 54) This sounds disrespectful coming from SB's most devoted and flattering assistant and companion, but it may be spontaneously revealing.
Two Major Sources of Idiosyncratic Revelations by Sai Baba
Still following the trail of inconsistencies, inventions, and possible inventions in SB's pronouncements, let us now turn to certain items of information given out by Baba in his annual Discourses on Hindu and Christian Festivals. Because these Festivals (for example, Mahasivaratri, Krishna's Birthday, SB's Birthday, Christmas Day, Dasara, etc.) commemorate specific important spiritual events, there is a set basic theme for the Discourse (with a great deal of variation in the content) and a certain amount of listener expectation about what they are about to hear. For instance, at Mahashivaratri, miracles are expected, and often seem to have been performed. Secondly, on the Southern Indian Festival of Yugadi, or New Year (usually in March or April), in recent years, Baba often issues a short (expected) prophecy for the year whose beginning is thus being commemorated. There are some interesting cases to examine.
Note: The inventions and inconsistencies in many of SB's Sanskrit etymological explanations are similar in nature. (See Chapter 2 3 for details.)
In the 1950s, 1960s and for much of the seventies, there were either no Yugadi Discourses, or simply bland New Year messages limited to vague announcements of some bad local (Southern Indian) weather forecasts. Also common, then as now (and as is the case in many sermons in other religions), was the general exhortation from SB for his mainly Indian listeners to behave properly, to cultivate detachment, throughout the coming year as a karmic means of avoiding a bad year. For example: "... it forbodes a period of conflicts. ... This year is a mixture of good and bad events. Life is like that. ... This is a year in which everyone will have to be on his guard. One should keep a watch on every word he uses." (Sathya Sai Speaks, XXIII, 5:35)
In 1980, 1984 and 1985, SB's forecasts are short and vague. Again in 1986, the Yugadi forecast was mainly India-centric and vague, but with an equally vague reference to the rest of the world:
"The Akshaya year will be altogether a fairly good year with no serious untoward developments. However, the first two months - from mid-April to mid-June - are likely to witness some serious troubles. The heat will be excessive and some fire disasters may occur in May-June. ... Astrologically, important changes all over the world will be for the good. Not India alone, but all countries will benefit from these changes." (Sathya Sai Speaks, XIX, 7:64)
The next forecast comes in 1990 (Sathya Sai Speaks, XXIII, 51:29-36):
"indications of various kinds of conflicts and dangers from fire disasters but many joyous events. (p.29). Because of a conjunction of planets, SB foresees a "period of conflicts" with no apparent reason but also joyous events. "This year is a mixture of good and bad events. Life is like that." (p.35)
Well! Just to stress the obvious here, such platitudes from any other public speaker but Baba would be found rather embarrassing.
Incidentally, Baba has claimed several times that earthquakes and other 'natural' disasters are the result of human karma and human acts. "There are likely to be more earthquakes. What is the cause? It is the consequence of man's wrong actions. The good or bad events of the world are a consequence of the activities of mankind." (Yugadi Discourse, 2001) However, this claim appears rather weak when one considers that earthquakes occur with statistical regularity all around the earth (in both populated and unpopulated parts) and that they have been doing so for aeons before humans lived on earth.
Fire disasters (in a hot country like India!) are also stressed in the Yugadi 1993 'predictions' and bomb blasts are mentioned (the Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers were becoming increasingly active).
The year 1999 was a particularly nasty year, with fighting in many countries, suffering and atrocities in Kosovo and East Timor, serious flooding and other natural disasters, and the Indian State of Orissa saw the most disastrous cyclone of the century, with many thousands of deaths. Nevertheless, in his Yugadi Discourse (taken from the English translation on the eaisai Website on the Internet), Baba was full of assurances:
"The name of the New Year is Pramadi, which implies dangerous prospects. The name may imply danger, but in reality the world will attain prosperity. We shall escape from all dangers. ... There are no dangers either for the world or for the nation or for the society or for the family ... Similarly, this year although named Pramadi will not bring any calamities. ..."
After all the preceding vagueness, no more accurate than newspaper horoscopes, here we have a confident positive prediction of a good year in spite of all the astrological obstacles. Since the "forecast" was so far short of the truth for that disastrous year, one is tempted to speculate (as in other cases: see below on Jesus) whether it is possible that SB's MOOD, or even whim, rather than any special psychic or divine knowledge, dictates the nature of his utterances. At that particular time, he had recently returned from a successful visit to Delhi, the first in 17 years, and was very pleased with the reception from the crowds, the students, the media, and with his talks with prominent politicians. Perhaps he was even relieved, in view of Delhi's previous hostility, at his reception there. Therefore, everything seemed rosy to him and he gave his cheerful discourse.
The above Yugadi extracts strongly suggest that SB uses this festival (for example) for two clear purposes: to demonstrate his (expected but questionable) Omniscience by offering a 'prophetic' traditional (Indian) horoscope to his majority (Hindu) Indian listeners and also, as a skilful public preacher and moralist, to offer a mixture of good and bad prospects in order to attract their attention to the need for righteous behaviour to achieve spiritual progress or Divine mercy.
Finally, an examination of the startling new undocumented and sometimes contradictory revelations about Jesus Christ (of whom Baba claims intimate knowledge as a previous emissary of God) in Baba's annual Christmas Day Discourse, particularly for "Western" devotees, who attend the ashram in their thousands. This tendency to reveal "unknown" knowledge about Jesus has accelerated in recent years.
Here, as elsewhere with SB's published words, when one begins to examine the pronouncements from an objective point of view, without the idealisation of a devotee, it is not long before examples of inconsistencies and discrepancies turn up.
The first fleeting mention of Jesus in the Discourses does not occur until Christmas 1970. Baba was already aged 44. This was a crucial time in the development of the Organisation when Western interest was accelerating considerably and the Australian Howard Murphet and the American John Hislop were in the Baba fold and about to publish seminally important books about Baba which would dramatically increase the flow of "Western" devotees to Puttaparthi. Both they and later writers were quick to point out the striking (and undeniable) similarities between the spiritual teachings of Sathya Sai Baba and Jesus Christ.
Subsequent more detailed mentions of Jesus by SB came at Christmas 1971, 1972, 1976, 1978, and almost annually to date as more and more Westerners flocked to Puttaparthi for Christmas. The Christmas celebrations in Puttaparthi, with carol singing concerts, have become a major feature alongside the otherwise predominantly Hindu festivals.
SB's main emphasis, and his references to Jesus elsewhere, is not on Jesus as a full Avatar, and certainly not on His miracles, but on Jesus as a person doing good in the Name of God and realising a definite spiritual path to realisation of His Divinity, as we all can and should. The reason for this portrayal may simply be to make it accessible to SB's vast HINDU following.
In the references that follow, there is a bewildering series of discrepancies and inconsistencies regarding the date and participants at the birth of Jesus, His life and travels, His statements and His father's death. And, as with so much about the Sai Baba story, a total lack of documentary evidence.
The 1970 mention is very short. In Sathya Sai Speaks, X, for 1970, the 9-page Discourse for 25-12-70 at Dharmakshetra, contains a short penultimate paragraph:
"This Day marks the beginning of the Christian Era, the year of Christ. Christ sacrificed his life for the sake of those who put their faith in him. He propagated the truth that service is God, that sacrifice is God." (X, 39:264)
(The reader will note, incidentally, that neither the translator nor the printer thought Jesus important enough to justify the capital letters usually accorded to Divinity: He/ Him/His. Later, this would be rectified.)
In the Discourse given on 23 December 1971 (Sathya Sai Speaks, XI, 35:239) at a Madras Conference, on which Baba is commenting (so the topic of Jesus must have been discussed there), there seems a new policy (See Chapter 7) to link other religious figures with SB, particularly Jesus, because of the common message of LOVE. Baba mentions three statements by Christ as realising at different stages of His life that He is the messenger, then the Son of God, and finally at One with God. (This sequence of development and these statements will be repeated frequently in later Christmas Discourses). Baba adds in a practical way: "The Sathya Sai Organisation has to seek out chances of studying and substantiating these basic similarities and promote love and mutual cooperation."
1972 (in Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol XI, Chapter 54) is also the year of the first Brindavan Summer Course, and perhaps an ecumenical approach had been discussed or advocated by Baba or one of his close associates like Kasturi, Gokak or Shah, or his new foreign converts like Murphet and Hislop (who was to be instrumental in the setting up of the US Sai Baba Organisation in 1974), or benefactors like Elsie Cowan (who undertook to set up a Sai Baba Book Centre in USA).
On this occasion there is a much more detailed 10-page treatment of the Jesus story (especially useful for the majority of SB's listeners who are Hindus). Jesus Christ is acknowledged and claimed as universal by Baba. But Baba uses this Discourse (on 24-12-72, in Bangalore), titled 'He whom Christ Announced', not only to comment ambivalently on the miracle of the star of Bethlehem but much more significantly, to make the extraordinary, spectacular, breathtaking claim that Jesus actually foreshadowed the eventual coming of Baba himself, not as Jesus's successor, but as God the Father. Baba puts into the mouth of Jesus several prophetic references clearly describing Baba, including a reference to a lamb and to the word "Ba-Ba", imitating the sound of a lamb. This time there are one or two capital references to 'He' (rather than 'he').
A brief extract:
"There is one point that I cannot but bring to your special notice today. At the moment when Jesus was merging in the Supreme Principle of Divinity, He communicated some news to his followers, which was interpreted in a variety of ways by commentators and those who relish the piling of writings on writings and meanings upon meanings, until it all swells up into a huge mess."
This is where Baba makes his striking claim referred to above:
"The statement itself has been manipulated and tangled into a conundrum. The statement of Christ is simple: 'he who sent me among you will come again!' and he pointed to a Lamb. The Lamb is merely a symbol, a sign. It stands for the Voice: Ba-Ba; the announcement was the Advent of Baba. 'His Name will be Truth,' Christ declared. Sathya means Truth. 'He will wear a robe of red, a blood-red robe.' [Here Baba pointed to the robe He was wearing.] 'He will be short, with a crown (of hair). The Lamb is the sign and symbol of Love.'
"Christ did not declare that he will come again. He said, 'He who made me will come again.' That Ba-ba is this Baba and Sai, the short, curly-hair-crowned red-robed Baba, is come. He is not only in this Form, but he is in every one of you, as the dweller in the Heart. He is there, short, with a robe of the colour of the blood that fills it." (XI, 54:346)
In 1973-1975, there are no printed Discourses for Christmas Day. For Christmas Day, 1977, there is no Discourse in the Indian or US editions of Sathya Sai Speaks, but according to the American edition, Vol X (Ch 28 for 1-1-78), SB refers to and repeats remarks he made in an alleged Discourse on 25-12-77. One can only wonder why the Organisation in India failed to print this important Discourse in its Revised Edition (unless SB himself or an associate made the decision).
The salient features contained in the U.S. Edition (and in Sathya Sai Baba. An Eastern View of Jesus Christ. Divine Discourses of Sathya Sai Baba, London, Sai Publications, ?1982 Translated by Lee Hewlett and K.Nataraj ) are outside the teachings of the orthodox Christian churches but are familiar in New Age circles. Interestingly, the so-called "lost years" of Jesus (which Baba was to mention on more than one occasion) were the subject of research and a contemporary video by the prominent American devotee, Richard Bock, who also made videos about Baba in the early 1970s (Gokak, 1975:284). Bock's original (1970s) video about Jesus, and his wife Janet's book, The Jesus Mystery. Of Lost Years and Unknown Travels (1980) are almost certain to have been shared by them with Baba.
(p.179) "On Christmas Day I mentioned that Christ spent all his life in the service of mankind. He spent twelve years alone promoting the inner vision and realizing God. While engaged in service to the diseased and the downtrodden, he announced himself as the 'Messenger of God'."
(p.180) "Thereafter Christ lived for five years in the Himalayan region of ancient India. He settled in Kashmir and met many exponents and practitioners of the adwaitha system of thought which declares that there is only one God. He realized the Oneness beneath all diversity, and then He spread the Truth that 'I and My Father are One'." (US Vol X, 28:178-180)
In 1978 (Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol 14, Ch. 16 ) Baba deals with the three stages again and repeats the story of Christ's sojourn in Kashmir. At Christmas 1979, Baba repeats the Jesus as Messenger idea (Sathya Sai Speaks, XIV, 45:286) and adds: "There are various theories about the birth date of Jesus based on the 'bright star that appeared at his birth'." (XIV,45:288 )
Baba also goes on to say, in an attempt to demystify the "star", that the star was visible every 800 years and had nothing to do with the birth of Jesus. "The Star that appeared that day appears only once in 800 years. Its appearance had nothing to do with the birth of Jesus. There is no rule that, when Divine Energy or Divine Incarnation descends on Earth, a star has to appear."
The point of this deflationary remark is not at all clear unless it is in line with SB's thesis that Jesus isn't a full avatar (as Baba has suggested elsewhere in his Discourses), especially at His birth, but a good man who realises his Divinity slowly. It sounds even more confusing when contrasted with the 1972 reference to "Appearances of splendour and other signs to herald the era that has dawned are natural when incarnations happen on earth." (Sathya Sai Speaks, XI, p. 344)
In 1984, Baba ventures to tell us the words of what are known to Christians as the Three Wise Men. This is a new version of his 3-stages of development (or realisation), using different words:
"When Jesus was born, three wise men followed a star to reach his place of birth. Seeing the new-born babe, they bowed to the child in their hearts. Before leaving, each of them spoke about the child as follows to the parents. One sage said to Mary: 'He loveth God.' The second sage said, 'God loveth him.' The third man said, 'He is God'." (Sathya Sai Speaks, XVII, 30:190)
In 1985, SB's emphasis is on the essential equality of all faiths, but, doubtless for reasons of internal Indian politics, he chooses to criticise "a growing tendency among propagators of the Christian faith to cast aspersions on other religions. Money is being spent lavishly to spread Christianity. This type of propaganda does great harm to the personality of Jesus." (Sathya Sai Speaks , XXVIII, 30:192)
In 1987 SB quotes St Paul's dream and attributes to Jesus some words which echo his own way of thinking. "St Paul, who was in the beginning an inveterate critic of Jesus, became the first propagator of the Christian faith after having a vision of Christ in a dream in which Jesus told him: 'Every man is a spark of the Divine. When you hate me, you are hating yourself and hating God'." (Sathya Sai Speaks, XX, 31:261)
In 1988 Baba returns to a fuller and more creative treatment of Jesus:
"In his twelfth year, Jesus and his parents, Joseph and Mary, happened to go to a Jewish festival in Jerusalem. ..." He gives the story of Jesus getting lost in the temple, and a quotation which shows that: 'Jesus thus revealed that he regarded himself as the Son of God'. "Jesus grew up at Nazareth till he reached thirty." (Sathya Sai Speaks, XXI, 34:272)'He got baptised by John the Baptist and spent forty days in penance in a forest.' (XXI, p. 272)
In 1991 (Sathya Sai Speaks, XXIV, 29:324), Baba introduces the Sanskrit/Hindu name, Esu (Jesus). "This term also signifies the oneness of Divinity." (XXIV, 29:322)
(p.323) The 3 stages again, via the three kings and their words:
"Three kings from the East came to see him at the time of his birth. One of them, on seeing the child, felt that he would be a lover of God. Another felt that he would be loved by God. The third king felt that he would one day declare his oneness with God. The first one's thought indicated Jesus's role as a 'Messenger of God'. The second one's thought indicated that he would be the 'Son of God'. The third person's thought indicated that the child would indicate one day that 'I and my Father are One'." (XXIV, 29:323)
In 1992: "On December 25th, when Jesus was born, three kings came to his birthplace." (Sathya Sai Speaks, XXV, 39:397) SB again quotes what each king commented about Jesus but seen from a Baba point of view. "Jesus performed many miraculous deeds ..."(XXV, 39:398) Note this late appearance of Jesus's miracles.
Baba repeats the three kings' statements except that the third one says: "Verily, this child is God Himself." (XXV, 39:397)
"The first one viewed the child from the physical pt of view. The second saw the child from the mental pt of view. The third saw from the Atmik point of view.
"The three declarations indicate how one can progress from the human to the divine level." (XXV, 39:397)
In 1993 (Vol XXVI, Ch 37), Jesus is seen as a special person, like a saint, not exactly an Avatar except, fleetingly, in his later years! Suddenly, in the next paragraph, SB refers to Jesus as AVATAR (p.409)
On the next page, SB adds his own idiosyncratic anecdote about St John:
"Once Saint John, while walking along, saw an angel reading a book. He asked who she was and what she was reading. She replied that she was an angel and that she was reading a book dealing with the doctrine of love. He asked for the book and the angel gave it to him but said, 'You must eat this book. When you are consuming the book, its taste will be bitter. But after you have eaten and digested it, it will become very sweet.' 'Eating the book' means absorbing the contents of the book, practising them and experiencing the bliss therefrom." (p. 411)
(IF, as it appears, this dialogue is apocryphal, one may be tempted to wonder whether Baba, with his endless stock of 'historical/mythological' anecdotes, sometimes does similarly imaginative things for Hindu scriptures if it suits his message. We must wait for Hindu scholars to report back on this.)
In 1994 comes the first of several startling changes to the story so far:
Suddenly they are not wise men or kings, but shepherds (Sathya Sai Speaks, XXVII, 33:296):
"It is said that when Jesus was born ... three kings were led by a star to Jesus's place of birth. In fact, they were not kings but three shepherds." (XXVII, 33:296 )
(p.295) The anecdote about Jesus's trip to Jerusalem with his parents to a festival at the age of 12 is expanded and a dialogue with his worried Mother is lengthened.
We are also told that Jesus felt he needed to serve his parents and so stayed with them. Joseph passed away when Jesus was thirty. (But in 1995 Baba will say that Joseph died when Jesus was 10. He will also refer to the 'kings' again in that Discourse.) Only then: "He sought his mother's permission to devote himself to the service of the needy and the forlorn."
"After leaving home, Jesus had himself baptized by John. Then for forty days Jesus observed severe austerities without food and drink. At first he considered himself a Messenger of God. After the penance he realised he was the son of God. He began his ministry with a group of fishermen as his first disciples. He taught them that they should first seek the Kingdom of Heaven ... Jesus further declared to them: 'I and my Father are One'." (XXVII, 33:295-296)
(Here there is no mention of special travels, because, according to this timetable, there would have been no time for them.)
The Christmas 1995 Discourse (Internet: www.eaisai.com/baba )
In the several pages dealing with the Jesus story, the parallels with Baba's teachings are emphasised. (Here there is a new discrepancy: the age of Joseph at his death and some brand new 'historical' dialogue unknown to Christian theologians and scholars.):
"Christ made many attempts to demonstrate and propagate this infinite divine Love. Having lost his father at the tender age of ten, he sought the permission of his mother, and set out to begin his mission of serving the society."
"At the time of Jesus's birth, three Arabian kings ["some Tibetans" in the 1972 Discourse; "three wise men" in 1984; mere "shepherds" in 1994] gathered."
In 1996, SB again tells us that Joseph died while Jesus was still young:
"As the name and fame of Jesus spread, opposition to him developed among a section of the Jews. After his father's death, young Jesus considered it his duty to help his mother and revere her as divine. ... Jesus came with his mother [not parents] to Jerusalem when he was eleven years old."
"What he preached was in accord with the basic teachings of all religions." (Sanathana Sarathi, January 1997, p.2 and Sathya Sai Speaks, XXIX, 53: 393)
Perhaps to live up to his audience's expectations of spectacular Christmas revelations, however, Baba goes on to announce and to produce what he refers to (XXIX, p.394) as "a book compiled in Britain around 1530 A.D. containing all the information about Jesus gathered during the preceding centuries. The Russians condensed all the material in a small book [in which language?] which they preserved in a place on the Black Sea coast [not named]." The official report continues: [Svaami produced the little book by a circular wave of His hand and held it before the audience.] "This is the book. You can see the cross on the cover page. The book was designed to demonstrate the common features of all religions. What is contained in this book is not to be found even in the Bible. It contains an entirely new account of the life of Jesus." [Bold type added]
Apart from SB's three conflicting descriptions of the book's contents, this is a most disturbing performance because on a video of the 'materialisation', Baba merely seems to pluck the miniature book (2 and a half centimetres by 3 and a quarter) from below the ledge of the table he is leaning on. Photographs of Baba holding up the tiny book were immediately circulated in Puttaparthi. One of these is on the cover of the Spanish edition of the January 1997 issue of Sanathana Sarathi (El Eterno Conductor) for that same month. However, the mysterious book appears to be nothing more than a copy of the "Good News" edition of the New Testament, freely and cheaply available in India, and overseas. (See Chapter 6)
For other extraordinary information uttered during this Discourse, but not subsequently printed, see Chapter 3 (under: 'SB's Discourses. More Nonsense')
At Christmas 1997 (Internet: www.eaisai.com/baba), Jesus's Message is shown to support SB's message of Love. More new dialogue is invented.
In the 1998 Discourse (from the Internet: eaisai and Sainet News), the real birth date is revealed as March, which although not coming as a surprise to Christian theologians, does differ from the dates previously offered by Baba.
"The term Christmas has been derived from the Roman language. Truly speaking, Christmas falls in the month of March, not in December: Since it is very cold in December and people are confined to their homes, they use this time to celebrate Christmas. Actually Jesus was born in the month of March. With the passage of time, this fact has been distorted and misrepresented in the Bible. "Munde munde Mathir Bhinnah" (Heads vary so also thoughts). Each one interpreted Bible in his own way. Some wrote that Jesus was never born. Some wrote that it was the brother of Jesus crucified, not Jesus and that He was in Japan at that time. This is all imagination. Jesus is Truth."
Also more new dialogue is reported.
"When Jesus was born three Arabian kings came to see Him. They were overjoyed at seeing the newborn babe. While returning, the first king said to Mary, "Mother, you have given birth to a child who loves God." The second king said, "Mother you have given birth to a child who will be loved by God." The third king said, "Mother Mary, your child is not different from God, both are one and the same." Once we understand the inner meaning of these three statements, we will know the truth. The one who loves God is the Messenger of God; the one whom God loves is the Son of God; the one who understands the principle of unity becomes one with God. ..."
Also in 1998, in the official translation of a 24 November Discourse to Chairpersons, we find a page or more on Jesus, including the following:
"One of them, looking at child Jesus, remarked: He looks as though he was a 'Messenger of God'. The second wise man exclaimed that the child looked as though he was the 'Son of God'. The third wise man disagreed with both and concluded that he and God were one and the same."
In 1999 (Internet: eaisai.com/baba), as if exhausted by so many revelations and invention (or perhaps advised by his Organisation chiefs to tone things down), SB did not even mention Jesus! He merely stated that Christmas is for everyone, gave the Krishna story and spoke about the preparations for his 75th Birthday celebrations, especially by the 3000-strong Messengers of Sathya Sai: the distribution of 75,000 saris and a food project.
In his Christmas 2000 Discourse (www.easai.com/baba and Sanathana Sarathi, January 2001), following his annus horribilis of constant criticism on the Internet and in the media, and possibly at the insistence of the concerned leaders of the SB Organisation, Baba refers at the outset to Jesus and the problems he had from his enemies. The sub-text references to himself and betrayal are quite clear. This is followed, in a very strident tone of voice, by an unusually open, spirited and prolonged self-defence and, also rare for Baba, a lengthy public trumpeting of a list of his main public benefactions and good works as well as a reiteration of the guaranteed success of his mission. The (self-supporting) references to Jesus are frequent. (Unusually, the Discourse was delivered at the Brindavan ashram, instead of Prasanthi Nilayam.)
On page 6 of this self- defence, SB shows part of the reason why he is speaking: to rally doubting devotees:
"I hope I am not causing you baadha (trouble) by speaking at length. In fact it is not baadha but a great bodha (teaching). People who are fear-stricken should be given the tonic of courage. Do not give scope for any weakness whatsoever."
(For Christmas 2001 'revelations', see Chapter 3.)
Once again, with the apparent farrago of invention and bewildering permutations about the life of Jesus, we see quite clearly that Baba is using the Christ story as a metaphor for his own mission and message and with scant regard for textual truth and accuracy as it is recorded in Christian theology. If Baba really were omniscient, the revelations and dialogue would at least be consistent in details and would have to be accepted, but the detailed comparison above reveals that there is so little consistency on several important points of the Jesus story that SB's credibility becomes the first casualty. Comparisons such as those above strongly suggest that, as with Yugadi 'predictions', and the etymological inventions quoted in Chapter 2, Baba often improvises or embroiders on the theme of the Jesus story as he goes along, using his powerful story-telling techniques to rivet his adoring and uncritical listeners.
As a footnote, it may be added that Jesus is not the only subject of SB's apparent factual embroidery on spiritual biographies. In September 1990, one of SB's Discourses caused a stir of excitement when he gave hitherto unknown facts about Shirdi Sai Baba's date of birth and his youth. (Incidentally, for possible reasons which were suggested in Chapter 3, this Discourse followed a 19 year silence on Shirdi in SB's printed Discourses.)
On the first day of the Navaratri festival at the end of September, SB made a revelation: Shirdi Sai Baba was born on September 28, 1835, had stayed with a fakir (his adopted father) for four years (1835-1839) and stayed in Venkusa's ashram for 12 years from 1839 to 1851. (Sanathana Sarathi, November 1990, p. 290). Two years later, at the same festival (September 27,1992), Baba caused another stir by further revelations about Shirdi Sai in which he changed the alleged date of birth to September 27, 1838, three years later. Baba went on to speak of other unknown details of Shirdi's early life, with no reference to his previous Discourse, as if he had forgotten not only the content but its existence. (Sanathana Sarathi, November 1992, p. 255).
With such evidence, one is again entitled to feel that, sometimes, SB says whatever comes into his head, showing not only a lack of omniscience but also a lack of concern about what anyone else may think! A strong and fearless policy, perhaps, but also, surely, a reckless one because it undermines the claim to Divine omniscience.
But so far, 50 years on, and with a vociferous anti-SB campaign gathering momentum on the Internet, few have expressed much interest in this odd behaviour, and even the handful of devotees who have given the matter attention (like Ganapati, as described at the beginning of this chapter), have been able to rationalise the habit either as being a perfectly acceptable divine leela, a test, or as the natural occasional fallibility of the human mind which the present Avatar has chosen to inhabit.
Some unconditionally faithful, totally committed, devotees will no doubt continue to accept this view in the face of any new evidence that is presented. Many others may no longer be able to justify such blind trust in the face of the accumulating evidence - in this book and in many other documents.
But the key question remains: with such evidence of doubtful and incorrect information being disseminated by SB in his Discourses, what is one to make of other 'omniscient' pronouncements and claims made by the same guru?
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