Sathya Sai Baba's Early Claims of Divinity and Divine Powers
Brian Steel November 2004
Copyright © 2004 Brian Steel
From the beginning of his Mission, it was SSB who assiduously attracted attention to himself and encouraged his devotees to talk about the special features he was promoting: his MIRACLES and his healing ability, his Avatarhood and Divine powers, his relationship with the legendary Hindu Avatars (Rama and Krishna), and the Shirdi Baba reincarnation connection. With such amazing credentials, SSB's initial Divine reputation was quickly and firmly established decades ago in his native region of southern India. Adoring devotees and, later, faithful spokespersons were only too happy and eager to pass on this unique message, very often in the form of books about their subjective experiences. From the mid-1960s to date, SSB's Organisation, the SSO, took over the main task of propagation of this Divine image of SSB, especially in print. That image has spread all over the world and has come to be accepted unquestioningly not only by devotees but by many others.
Although there are other important aspects of SSB's Mission (his teachings, his personal charisma, his siddhis, the charitable work of his SSO), it is those same fascinating alleged Divine characteristics (Avatar, Omnipotence, Omniscience) which devotees tend to hold uppermost in their minds when thinking, talking or writing about their guru.
Thus, the very large numbers of devotees who over the past six decades have been attracted to this self-styled fully functional God Incarnate have been able to bask in a very privileged spiritual conviction, attributing to him all sorts of benefits and personal transformations far beyond the experience of disciples of other merely 'human' (but still perhaps divinely inspired) gurus, godmen, saints, and masters. Many (especially "Westerners", i.e. non-Indian devotees and commentators) showed their delighted appreciation and gratitude by writing books or articles about his perceived uniqueness and astounding achievements (mea culpa too between 1995 and 1998). This vast and uncritical literature of several hundred items has added further massive bulk and 'visibility' to the accelerating SSB snowball, which achieved critical mass for worldwide fame in the 1980s. SSB's unique reputation as 'Avatar of the Age' is reflected in the considerable number of such books (and even non-partisan reference books and academic studies) which include words like Avatar, God and Divine in their titles or references. This daunting phalanx of eulogistic SSB literature offers clear proof (if it is needed) that the basic, unequivocal and(among contemporary gurus) unique claims of Divinity by SSB have been widely accepted as true by a very large number of people all over the world and that the Divine claims and miracle stories are at the centre of many (probably most) devotees' conception of SSB's identity. For them, SSB is GOD on Earth, with full Divine powers.
A few examples of these 'Divine' book titles follow; many more are included in the Bibliography posted on my SSB webpage.
Aura of the Divine,
The Dreams and Realities Face to Face with God
Baba is Here. Conversations with God on His Omnipresence
The Miracle Man Sri Sathya Sai Baba,
Zoroaster to Sathya Sai. Miracles of Mankind's Great Saviours
Vision of the Divine,
The Advent of Sri Sathya Sai Baba
The Man and the Avatar.
Journey to God.
God Descends on Earth. As Prophesied by Nostradamus and Edgar Cayce,
Sai Baba, God Incarnate
God Lives in India,
25 Years with Divinity
Over the past 60 years of his spiritual Mission, SSB's claims of personal Divinity and Divine Attributes and Powers, uttered in his public Telugu Discourses and printed in a translated and edited form, have been numerous and unequivocal. The claims were most conspicuous and frequent during the first 25 years of his Mission (1943-1968). They have been widely repeated by his associates, by the SSO, and by his devotees. The claims are freely available in the official records: the annual multilingual commercial volumes of Sathya Sai Speaks and in the official monthly magazine Sanathana Sarathi, available on subscription in many languages to devotees. Since 1999, with the SSO's official appearance on the Internet, the edited Discourses have also been available on the Internet (as downloadable text and, in some cases, as audio files).
(See www.sathyasai.org, www.srisathyasai.org.in , www.sssbpt.org , and Radio Sai Global Harmony, as well as a few unofficial sites, in particular the U.S.A.-based www.eaisai.com/baba , also known as Sai Darshan.)
For my detailed analysis, commentary and queries on the Discourses, see Dossier 3.
In recent decades the Divine claims have been noticeably more muted and discreet and, as I have commented elsewhere, there seems to have been a discreet 'Downgrading of Divinity' in some official sectors of the SSO, particularly in their appeal for serious worldwide attention. This downgrading has been clearly reflected for over ten years on the inside cover (front or back) of all volumes of the officially published Revised Indian edition of Sathya Sai Speaks, where one finds the following disingenuous (and ungrammatical) statement:
"To hundreds and thousands of people spread over almost every country in the world, Sri Sathya Sai Baba is believed to be an Avathaar, an embodiment of God, divinity in human form."
At the risk of labouring the point, the official promoters of SSB's Divine claims seem to wish to visibly distance themselves from those claims with the phrase 'is believed to be' (i.e. by 'others'). This is rather puzzling because in many of the Discourses in the Sathya Sai Speaks volumes (as well as on the SSO websites) SSB asserts his Divinity and Avatarhood directly or indirectly (and the SSO editors themselves constantly refer to him with the divinely respectful pronouns 'Him' and 'His'.
Equally unconvincing is the fact that in recent years (especially in the face of public controversy over SSB) some spokespersons and devotees have also been known to claim (quite breathtakingly, really!) that "Swami never claimed to be God." (If, on the other hand, they say "I never believed he was God", that is of course quite different and an entirely reasonable standpoint, which I respect.)
Many of SSB's definite and unique claims of Divinity and Divine powers are offered, for the record, in this Dossier. I offer them here as relevant public background information about him, and as a complementary feature to the search engine recently offered to us on the official Books and Publications Trust website, www.sssbpt.org , in case 'Divine Claims' draws meagre search results. (SSB's other - very impressive, very expensive to run? - official websites are www.sathyasai.org, and www.srisathyasai.org.in, and, if you are addicted to Telugu Discourses, there are also the official Radio Sai Global Harmony broadcasts (about 12 hours a day, mainly to Asia).
SSB's related and very relevant claims to be the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba, and his (surprisingly rare) public predictions of returning as Prema Sai Baba in the 2020s are added separately at the end of the major section of this dossier. For those conducting Internet searches on this topic, the keyword 'Avatar' is obviously also important for research about Sathya Sai Baba. In the helpful 'Glossary of Sanskrit Words Gleaned from Sai Literature', which is used on official websites to define for 'Western' devotees Sanskrit and Hindi terms used in the edited versions of SSB's Discourses, Avatar is defined thus:
"The highest manifestation of God in human form; the omnipresent Divine principle, embodied and yet unlimited."
Tantalising Note for Future Researchers:
For a brief period between the end of 1999 and mid-2002, unofficial literal translations of the Discourses were also made available in a handful of languages, including English. The latter were offered by a group of ashram-based devotees who sincerely preferred the simple chatty language of SSB's original Discourses to the highly 'improved' official versions. Shortly after the glaring discrepancies between the original literal versions and the official 'packaged' ones began to be revealed in 2002 on the Internet, the multilingual literal translations were not only discontinued but the website was withdrawn from the Internet. Conclusions may, and should, be drawn from this perceived need to conceal the real style and composition of SSB's Discourses. For a time being, it was possible to see archived copies of most of the literal translations on the 'Wayback Machine' (www.archive.org), but these were later withdrawn. However, the Premsai literal English versions of these 40 Discourses are still on display here.)
SSB's Mission is officially stated to have begun in October 1940, when he was nearly 14 years old. Recent evidence indicates that it began in 1943, when he was nearly 17 years old (if it is true that he was born in 1926). SSB's first officially recorded Telugu Discourses date from 1953. They have been translated and edited into several languages. Since 1953 more than 35 volumes of officially edited Discourses have been issued. My selection of quotations is mainly taken from the first eleven of these volumes of Sathya Sai Speaks (which, probably unlike most SSB devotees, I have now read twice - in the officially translated and edited versions). The fact that for the past 50 years SSB has given his Discourses from behind the veil of theTelugu language has still to be assessed by his chroniclers and by the general public who hear of his spiritual fame from books or the media.
The first eleven of the thirty five volumes of Sathya Sai Speaks cover the vital formative period 1953 to 1971. (Information on other interesting aspects of SSB's Discourses is offered in other articles on this website.)
A Selection of SSB's Explicit Claims of Divinity and Divine Powers:
Shortcuts: Shirdi Sai Baba and Prema Sai Baba
[The use of 'divine' initial capital letters in all official SSO references to SSB ('My', 'Me') is a significant example of how SSB has been totally supported in his claims by his Organisation and his indefatigable editors.]
"When I was at Uravakonda in the High School, you know I came away one day and threw off my books and declared that I have My work waiting for Me. ... Well, that day when I came out publicly as Sai Baba, that first song I taught the gathering ion the garden to which I went from the Telugu Pandit's house was: Manasa bhajare guru charanam Dhistara bhava sagara taranam. I called on all those suffering in the endless round of birth and death to worship the Feet of the Guru (spiritual preceptor), the Guru that was announcing Himself, who had come again for taking upon Himself the burden of those who find refuge in Him. That was the very first Message of Mine to Humanity." (Sathya Sai Speaks, I, 1:1 Prashanti Nilayam, Vijayadasami, 1953)
"The first sixteen years of this Life have been, as I have often told you, the period when Bala leela (divine child sport) predominated and the next sixteen is being spent mostly in Mahimas (miracles) in order to give santosha (joy) to this generation. ... After the thirty-second year, you will see me active more and more in the task of Upadesa (spiritual instruction) - teaching erring humanity and in directing the world along the path of Sathya, Dharma, Shanti and Prema (Truth, Righteousness, Peace and Love.).
"Not that I am determined to exclude leela and mahima from My activity after that. I only mean that re-establishing Dharma, correcting the crookedness of the human mind and guiding humanity back to Sanathana Dharma (eternal universal religion) will be My task thereafter." (Sathya Sai Speaks, I, 1:3, Prashanti Nilayam, 1953, Vijayadasami)
"I remember telling a questioner in Maharashtra, while in the previous body, that there are three types of devotion ..." (I, 2:10 - 1955)
"Note this also. In this Avatar (Divine Incarnation), the wicked will not be destroyed; they will be corrected and reformed and educated and led back to the path from which they have strayed." (Sathya Sai Speaks, I, 2:16 Prashanti Nilayam 1955)
And on the same page: "Again the Avatar will not select some place other than the place where the Nativity took place for the centre of Its Leelas, Mahimas and Upadesha (divine sport, miracle power and divine instruction). This tree shall not be transplanted; it will grow where it first rose from the earth. Another speciality is this: the Avatar has no affinity or special attachment in Its Career to members of the Family wherein It appeared. Unlike the appearances as Rama, Krishna, etc., where the Life was played out mostly among and for the family members, this Avatar is for the Bhakthas , the Sadhus and the Sadhakas (devotees, noble souls and aspirants) only."
"God is Mahashakthi (Supreme Energy) and Jeevi (individual being) is Mayashakthi (Deluding Power); He is the genuine, the jeeva is but the shadow, the appearance, the delusion. Even I have to put on Mayashakthi to come into your midst ... The Lord cannot come down with His Mahashakthi unimpaired; He has to come with diminished splendour and limited effulgence, so that He can become the object of Bhakthi and Dedicated Service." (I, 3:17 Prashanti Nilayam Guru Purnima, 1-8-1956)
"This is just the reason why I came to sow the seeds of faith, in religion and in God. You might have heard some people say that I became Sai Baba when a scorpion stung me! Well, I challenge any one of you to get stung by scorpions and transform yourself into Sai Baba. No, the scorpion had nothing to do with it! In fact, there was no scorpion at all! I came in response to the prayers of sages, saints and spiritual aspirants for the restoration of Dharma." (I, 5:27 Chitravati River, 23-2-58)
"You have not realised yet the secret of this Advent. You are indeed lucky, more fortunate than many others. ... you will realise every description of My Mahima (Divine Glory) a little too short of the actuality, and then you will get convinced. Meanwhile if you study the Shastras and know the characteristics of the Avatar of the Lord, you might get a glimpse of the Truth regarding Me." ( I, 5:33 Chitravati River, 23-2-58)
"... wherever you are, whenever you call on Me, your room can become Prashanthi Nilayam , your village can be made Puttaparthi. I am ever alert to respond, ever ready to listen and reply." (Sathya Sai Speaks, I, 9:53 Madras, 25-3-58)
"I had no idea of speaking to you this evening; but of course I need no 'preparation'. My Sankalpa (resolve) and its fulfilment are instantaneous." (I, 12:69, Venkatagiri, 2-8-58)
"Sai Baba was till today a formless Name to you, but now it has come with Form and you can keep the rupa (form) in your mind. So too, the Name 'Rama' has a form and you should picture the form also when you repeat the Name; then the name becomes concrete and japam is easier." (I, 14:82 Mirthipadu 2-9-58)
"The Lord too has to come in human form and move about among men, so that He could be listened to, contacted, loved , revered, and obeyed. He has to speak the language of men and behave like human beings, as a member of the species. Otherwise, He would be either negated and neglected or feared and avoided.
"The Avatar has to lift humanity and put it into the crucible in order to remove the slag and inferior metals that have destroyed its sterling worth." ( I, 15:90, Peddhapuram, 3-98-58)
"Nothing can hold Me up or agitate Me or cast a shadow on Me come in this Human Form; be certain of that. Not even a hair can be touched by forces of calumny or distrust or ignorance. My sankalpa (resolve) must prevail; My task must be accomplished. My mission will succeed. I have come to illumine the human heart with the Light Divine and to rid man of the delusion that drags him away from the path of shanti (peace), the perfect equanimity born of realisation." (I, 16:92, Venkatagiri Town, 9-9-58)
"The land [of Kerala] is very beautiful, as I saw when I came from Coimbatore ... The Lord enjoys these things as a painter; He appreciates His own handiwork, standing before His own painting or sculpture." (I, 18:105 -106, Thiruvananthapuram, 20-12-58, Kerala)
"You need not waste time in trying to discover Me and My Nature. Understand what I teach, not 'who is the teacher', for I am beyond your intellect and your shakthi. You will understand Me only through My work. That is why sometimes I show you my 'visiting card', something that you call a miracle." (I, 19:114, Prashanti Nilayam, Mahasivaratri)
"That is My path, the path of prema along which I shall take you. That is why I offer My visiting card to everyone of you when you come to Me. I know your name, your degrees, your profession, your status and your history. But you do not know mine. ... but I want you to know something of My Glory: and so I shall give you a glimpse of it, as a Mahima (Divine Miracle). But I also give you enough of My prema so that you can mix a little of it with whatever you do or feel or think and make it sweet and palatable." (I, 20:124 Venkatagiri Adhayatmik Conference 12-4-59)
"It is to clear the path of spiritual progress of man that the Avatar ( Divine Incarnation) has come. The ashanthi (restlessness) in which man is immersed has to be curbed. ... All jeevis [.....] must get shanthi and santosha [ ........]; that is the mission on which the Lord comes again and again on this earth. He selects a place full of pavitrathwam (holiness) and Dhivyathwam (divinity) and takes on the human form, so that you may meet Him and talk, understand and appreciate, listen and follow, experience and benefit..
"The tragedy is that when Godhead is invisible, formless, you concretise it as you like and pray to it and get consolation and strength out of it; but when it is before you, concretised in human form, you doubt and discuss and deny!" (I, 21:129-130 Bangalore, 10-7-59, Akhanda Bhajans)
"I like Saint Thyaagaraja. My affection for him is not a matter of today. It is centuries old."(I, 21:135, Tirupati Thyaagabramha Uthsava, 11-8-59) [marked as 1957, presumably an error]
"Let me tell you that you cannot understand Me and My Secret without first understanding yourselves. For, if you are too weak to grasp your own Reality, how can you hope to fathom the much grander Reality of My advent? ... The Amirs and wonders which cannot be explained by the categories of science are so natural to Me that I am amused when you label them as miracles.The Lord has announced that He would come down for the restoration of Dharma (righteousness) and that he would assume human Form so that all might gather round Him and feel the thrill of His companionship and conversation. And the Lord has come, as announced." (I, 25:154, Aukiripalli Markandeya Sanskrit College, 22-1-60)
"...there is a limit beyond which the mind and the intellect cannot traverse. That is why the Mahashakthi (Supreme Power) has to envelop Itself with Maya (delusion) and come down to the level of human comprehension." (I, 25:154-155 Aukiripalli Markandeya Sanskrit College, 22-1-60)
"The accumulated merit of many previous births must have granted you this luck. You have got Me and it is your duty now to develop this relationship that you have achieved by sheer good fortune.
"In four or five years' time, you will see Yogis and Maharishis and Munis (ascetics and sages) crowding here and you may not have such chances of asking Me questions and getting the answers, of approaching Me and directly speaking to Me." ( I, 29:183, Prashanti Nilayam 27-9-60)
"It was mentioned now by the Principal of the Markandeya Sanskrit College that I was born like Janaka, as the result of some Karasesha ! I have no seshab (balance) of karma to work out! I am unaffected by Karma, as already mentionerd in the Geetha. The Maha Shakthi (Supreme Power) puts on the cloak of Mayashakthi (deluding power) in order to fulfil the purpose of contacting and protecting mankind. I have no desire and so, no binding karma. It is only you have this desire, aim and wish that drah you along various paths. For Me, your Ananda is My Food ..." (I, 30:187, Prashanti Nilayam, 29-9-60 - first discourse)
"Some persons have said in their ignorance that I am divine sometimes and that I become human after that! They say I alternate between Dhaivathwam and Manavathwam (Divinity and human). Do not believe this. I am always of one thwam (reality) only. The Lord will never undergo a fundamental change; only the external form may change, the essence will be the same." (I, 30:189 Prashanti Nilayam 29-9-60 - first discourse)
"I have come to set the world right and so I have to collect all those who are ill and treat them in My 'Hospital' and restore them to sanity, strength and wisdom and send them back to their stations in life." (I, 30:191 Prashanthi Nilayam 29-9-60 - first discourse)
"Some complain that I did not give them this or that, but that is because their vision is limited to the immediate future or the present; whereas I know what is in store and so I have to safeguard them from greater grief." (I, 30:191 Prashanthi Nilayam 29-9-60 - first discourse)
"I will be in this mortal human form for 59 years more and I shall certainly achieve the purpose of this avathaar, do not doubt it. I will take My own time and carry out My Plan as far as you are concerned." (I, 31:198; Prashanthi Nilayam 29-9-1960 - second discourse)
[Note: The maths doesn't quite add up: 33 + 59 = 92, or 93. A forecast death in 2019 at age 92, rather than 2022 and 96, which are the figures usually quoted by spokespersons, writers, devotees and the SSO.]
"I may sometimes wait until I can achieve ten things at one stroke ... But My Word will never fail; it must happen as I will." (I, 31:198 Prashanthi Nilayam 29-9-60 - second discourse)
"Bhagavan has seven chief characteristics: 1ishvarya, Keerthi, Jnana, Vairagtya, Srishti, Sthithi and Laya (prosperity, glory, wisdom, non-attachment, creation, preservation and dissolution). Whoever has these seven, you can consider as having Divinity in Him. These seven are the unfailing characteristics of Avatars, of the Mahashakthi (Supreme Power) which persists fully when it has apparently modified itself with Mayaashaakthi (deluding power). Wherever these are found, you can identify Godhead." (I, 32:200, Prashanti Nilayam, 30-9-60)
"... the day on which I took this human form. I am ever new and ever ancient ... I come always for the sake of reviving Dharma , for tending the virtuous and ensuring them conditions congenial for progress." (I; 34:218, Prashanthi Nilayam, 23-11-60)
[In spite of local resistance, SSB decided early on to stay in Puttaparthi.]
"... the elders here wondered so long at all stories of My Mahimas (miracle powers) and could not make use of the splendid chances that lay at their very doors. They saw only the Light, but did not feel the warmth." (I, 33:208, Prashanti Nilayam, 23-11-60)
[He refers, in this speech at the laying of the Foundation Stone for the Puttaparthi School building, to a difficult 20 years:]
"...Puttaparthi is a name revered and remembered with gratitude by millions today and it will be treasured in history as an immortal name. No other village has such fortune, but you have been slow to recognise this. For twenty years now, efforts have been made to calm the waves of faction in this village, years during which many other villages sought and won My Grace and Blessings. There have been many occasions on which bhakthas ( devotees ) have pleaded with Me to move out of this miasma and settle down in Bangalore or Madras or some such town, or if I preferred, some other quiet rural spot. But let Me tell you here and now: this tree has to grow at the very spot where it sprouted; it will not be transplanted; I shall not give up this place, no, not I. This place will be transformed into Tirupathi and those who are little boys and girls today will surely see it in all its magnificence. ...
"... here you need not stretch your hands before Government; you have a Kalpavriksha (wish-fulfilling tree) ready to give you all that you want! You have the Lord, who protects and promotes all." (I, 33:209-210, 23-11-60)
End of Volume I of Sathya Sai Speaks.
[1961 visit to the Himalayan region]
"This morning I took out from its resting place the Nethralinga (egg-shaped stone, representation of Shiva, with the eye of wisdom in it) which Sankaracharya had installed as the chief source of spiritual sustenance in this Shrine, and after abhisheka (consecrating by sprinkling holy water) and puja (ritual worship), it was sent back to the original place from where it will continue to scatter even more Grace on the pilgrims who come here." (Sathya Sai Speaks, II, 9:38, Badrinath 17-6-61
[He was very impressed by the lines of pilgrims.]] "Every moment these people felt the Lord's Grace; for about 150 persons, mostly old and in indifferent health, to accomplish this yaathra (pilgrimage) without a single moment of even headache was due to Swami. Swami also went to Badhri because the Nethralingam which is the source of Holiness there had to be revived with spiritual efficacy. Shankarachaarya brought five lingams from Kailas and installed one each at Dwaaraka, Sringeri, Badhri and Puri and the fifth he placed at Chidambaram. Of these, the one at Badhri has the Naaraayana amsam (orientation) and that had to be consecrated afresh, That was My task and these people who came with Me saw me doing it.
"I had to accomplish it this year itself, for this is the 35th year after this Avathaar took birth and this is also the your when the 35th successor to the Sankarachaarya Peeta is at Sringeri. This year is therefore important for charging the battery of spiritual wealth ... The Nethra Lingam, laid by Shankarachaarya underneath the idol there was 'taken' out by Me and abhisheka (consecration by pouring holy water) was done with Gangothri water which I fetched by a wave of the hand. It was worshipped with golden Bilva leaves and Thumme flowers, both created by Me on the spot, and sent back to its original place. The Lingam was placed on a Golden Lotus, with three layers of petals, each having two smaller layers of 16 amaller petals - the entire Kamala (lotus) representing the Hridhaya (heart) where the Lingam has to be installed for worship." (II, 11:47, Prashanti Nilayam, 4-7-61)
"Science transforms things, re-arranges them ... But I create the things themselves! And they are as lasting as any that is found in Nature! " (II, 16:73)
"Rama and Krishna and Sai Baba appear different because of the dress each has donned, but it is the Self-same Entity, believe Me." (SSS, II, 18:92)
"I shall be in this body for 58 years more; I have assured you of this already." (II, 18:92 - this indicates a predicted death in 2019)
"You have not demanded direct proofs of Divinity from either Rama or Krishna, have you? Have faith first and then you will get proof enough." (II, 19:98)
"You clamour for further experience of My Divine nature and ask that your faith might be strengthened thereby. To know the taste of sea-water, putting a drop on the tongue should be enough; there is no need to drink the whole lot." (II, 20:101)
"It is beyond you to know how or why I create things in My Hand. ...You are incapable of gauging Me. You can never grasp the strength of this super-worldly bond that ties you to Me." (II, 20:102)
"You may fall into the quagmire of doubt: 'Rama came, Krishna came, Sai Baba came, this Puttaparthi Sai Baba comes and challengingly declares that He is all These! How can this be? You can never understand this phenomenon. That is the understanding that you need. I am incomprehensible. You will see the world coming here in about a year or two." (Sathya Sai Speaks, II, 22:113) [Bold type added]
"... this Avathaar is different and unique ... I am not inclined to punish; I am the goldsmith who repairs and re-shapes broken ornaments." (Sathya Sai Speaks, II, 22:113)
"In a few years, years that can be counted on one's fingers, all of you will realise that I am the embodiment of all Shakthis (powers). The wise, the inquiring and the suffering will gather here from all parts of the world." (II, 22:114)
"I have started the work for which I have come. Till now, I was engaged in collecting materials - iron, cement, brick, lime and the rest. Now the foundation has been firmly concreted and the building has to rise. That structure of Mine will cover the entire Universe. No longer can this Prayer Hall or the Auditorium now being erected hold the people who will gather. ... Within a short period, you will witness many miraculous events. Even while you are wondering, this Puttaparthi will be transformed into Madhura." [A reference to Krishna.] (II; 22:119-20)
[The following rather different and perfectly reasonable claim was to become more frequent in later years.]
"Everyone is basically God; that is to say, basically, you. He is the Inner Motive in all." (II, 28:151)
"This evening, the Lingodbhava (emergence of egg-shaped stone of Shiva) is My Duty, My responsibility, rather My Nature which must reveal itself on this holy day." (II, 30:160 1962)
"When someone asks you, in great earnestness, where the Lord is to be found, do not try to dodge the question. Give them the answer that rises up to your tongue from your heart. Direct them. He is here in the Prashanti Nilayam." (Sathya Sai Speaks, II, 47:266)
Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume III
"No Avathaar is born flesh and blood, including this Avathaar." (Sathya Sai Speaks, III, 3:22)
A sensational and key claim, essentially very flimsy, but accepted and repeated by associates and devotees for the past forty years:
On Guru Purnima Day 1963 (6 July), following a sensational recovery from an illness, SSB suddenly told his concerned devotees an anecdote about his predecessor, the sage Bharadwaj. According to SSB, Bharadwaj had been slighted by the (mythical) Deities Shiva and Shakti, who made amends by promising him a special boon: AShiva said that They would take form and be born in the Bharadwaaja Gothra (lineage) thrice: Shiva alone as Shirdi Sai Baba, Shiva and Shakthi together at Puttaparthi as Sathya Sai Baba and Shakthi alone as Prema Sai, later.'' (Sathya Sai Speaks, III, 15: 91)
With the benefit of substantial recent evidence of SSB's compulsion for story-telling, there seems to be no justification for taking this claim as anything more than another of SSB's spontaneous stories. Moreover, as Sanjay Dadlani has astutely pointed out on an Internet Bulletin Board (Yahoo: sathyasaibaba2), there is a theological error here as well: unlike Krishna (with his multiple reincarnations), Shiva and Shakti are not the sort of Hindu deities who are supposed to reincarnate. Inexplicably, forty years later, this myth is still officially maintained (and perceived by devotees) as one of the basic truths about the SSB Mission.
(Background information: We are told that SSB had suffered an attack of cerebral thrombosis from 29 June and until that evening had been unable to give darshan. His left side was still badly affected and his right hand appeared palsied. He was carried into the Poornachandra Hall and placed in a Chair. He began almost inaudibly, with a claim that would be repeated every time he suffered any illness or injury:
"This is not Swami's illness; this is an illness which Swami has taken on, in order to save someone. Swami has no illness, nor will He get ill at any time." (III, 15:87)
"You can hear My Footsteps, for I walk with you, behind you, beside you." (III, 22:133)
"... all hospitals everywhere are Mine. I visit them all. Why, all those who call out from their hearts for succour, in whatever language , from whatever clime, whether from hospitals or homes, are Mine." (III, 27:159)
"... this village ... got the Light the day this Shakthi took birth in this place!" (III, 28:162)
"All men are Mine; so the whole world has to be saved from the consequences of ignorance or limited knowledge. I will get all My people near Me, for they are Mine and I am theirs. Then I will start training them, until they become entirely ego-free.
"For the last 25 years, it has been all sweetness, kindness, soft persuasion; hereafter it will be different. I will drag them, place them on the table and operate." (III, 29:169)
"You do not now realise your good boon in getting Me as the Guide. I shall not rest until I reform all of you. The basement for My work has been completed; now the structure will rise upon it." (III, 30:176)
"... many are afraid to approach Me, for they know I am aware of their innermost thoughts and deepest desires." (IV, 1:6)
"The very first lesson I gave when I declared My Identity at Uravakonda was: manasa ..." (IV, 2:11)
"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." (IV, 3:20)
"In a short time, you will be witnessing the emergence of the Linga that is formed within; the auspicious time for the emergence for the Linga is approaching; you see it and you receive the blessings; but yet there will be some among you who will doubt it and deny it." (IV, 4:26, Mahasivaratri)
"(Here, Baba stopped the discourse; the movements started, first in the region of the abdomen, then the chest and the throat; Baba swayed from the side, leaned on the table, drank water, and finally, after about twenty minutes, an egg-shaped pink Linga emerged from His mouth. Holding it between the thumb and forefinger of His right hand, Baba discoursed further about it.)"
"Ah! This is the Brahmaanda Linga! Symbol of the Universe. Inside it, the nine planets (Navagrahas) revolve; the entire Universe is represented herein ... You are indeed blessed, the merit of many births as brought you here to see the Great Phenomenon, this rare Creation."
"I have heard discordant voices emanating from this town, and whispers that if Sathya Sai Baba is really Divine, why is the Bukkapatnam tank dry during their greater part of the year? Some of you here might have heard such statements, made by irresponsible persons who have no knowledge of the working of Cosmic Laws. ... Why should I expend My Grace especially on this tank ...? All places are equally near for Me, and, if they turn away from good ways, all are equally far! For Me, distance is not to be measured by miles." (IV, 14:81)
"The Supreme Divine Power (Mahashakthi) that manifested in your neighbourhood and the Supreme Devotion to God (Mahabhakthi) radiating from that place [Prashanti Nilayam] have yielded benefits which you cannot deny [in neighbouring Bukkapatnam]." (IV, 14, 82)
"I do not need any publicity, nor does any other manifestation of the Lord."
"When you start publicity you descend to the level of those who compete in collecting clientele, decrying others and extolling themselves."
and: "Where money is calculated and garnered, and exhibited to demonstrate one's achievements, I will not be present." (Sathya Sai Speaks, IV, 35:210, 1964)
"(In the poem that Baba composed impromptu and sang before commencing His speech, he announced Himself as Shri Naatha, Loka Naatha , and Anaatha Natha (Lord of Lakshmi, of the world and of the helpless ...)" (IV, 37:220)
"I am always aware of the future, the past, as well as the present of every one of you. So I am not moved so much by pity." (IV, 40:239)
"I am always aware of the future, the past, as well as the present of every one of you. So I am not moved so much by pity." (IV, 40:239)
"The establishment of Dharma is My aim; the teaching of Dharma, the spread of Dharma, that is my objective. These 'miracles' as you call them are just a few means towards that end. Some people remark that Ramakrishna Paramahansa said that siddhis are obstructions in the path of the saadhaka (spiritual aspirant). Of course they are; he may be led astray by siddhis... The mistake lies in equating Me with the saadhaka whom Ramakrishna wanted to help, guide and warn. This is merely the nature of the Avathaara: the creation of things, ab initio, with intent to protect, guard, and give joy, a creation that is spontaneous and lasting. Creation, preservation and dissolution - these three only the Almighty can accomplish; no one else can. Cynics carp without knowledge. If they learn the Shaasthras, they can understand Me, or they should cultivate direct experience." IV, 45:267-268
"You must have heard people say that Mine is all magic, black or white. ... Magicians play their tricks for earning a livelihood. They use it for worldly fame and wealth. They are based on falsehood and they thrive on deceit and ignorance. This Body can never stoop to that level. No, never. This Body has come through Divine Sankalpa (the Lord's Resolve), to come. There is nothing that Divine Power cannot accomplish. It can transmute earth into sky and sky into earth." (IV, 49:285)
In Volumes V & VI (1965-1966) there seems to be a sudden dearth of Divine claims. This coincides with the formation and growth of the SSO.
As in previous years it is SSB himself who promotes and raises expectation about the Lingam production during the Mahasivaratri festival and he also asks people to relate the event to others:
"Contemplate the Atma-linga (spirit of the soul), the Jyothi-linga (the effulgent form), which this day emerges from Me; be convinced that the Linga is in every one of you, for it is a mark of the Shiva that resides in the shava (body) shell)." (Sathya Sai Speaks, V, 8:52) APerhaps when you return to your village, you too will tell people, "there were thousands and thousands of people from all parts of India and even some from foreign countries, at Puttaparthi' ..." (V, 9:56)
"Many thousands have come today to this Prashanthi Nilayam ..." (p. 58)
He predicts, as Supreme Being, the certain coming of a Golden Age: "Many hesitate to believe that things will improve, that life for all will be happy and full of joy, that the Golden Age will ever recur. Let me assure you that this Dharmaswarupa (Righteousness personified) has not come in vain. It will succeed in averting the crisis that has come upon Humanity." (V, 11:70)
There is also the matter of SSB's suggestion that he had been responsible for the cessation of hostilities with Pakistan in order not to have to cancel the Dasara festival:
"... in spite of all obstacles, the fighting has stopped and news has come that peace is restored. This is another instance of the Grace which Prashanthi Nilayam showers. This is the way Mahima (Divine Glory) works." (V, 37:210 - 26 September 1965)
He reproaches the Press: "The mean tactics of vicious pens that appear in the gutter papers serve to separate the husk from the grain. No one can shake the truth, no one can install untruth. I am established in Truth and I have come to secure for Truth its rightful place. ... Lies about Me also sell and earn for them some cash! Leeches fall off when they have sucked full to bursting point. Pray for their transformation into Satwik souls ..." (VI, 35:176)
And then turns this into a reaffirmation of his real identity. "Of course there have been such traducers in all ages, for all who come down to help mankind: Raama, Krishna, Shankara. Do not develop hatred towards them, for sooner or later, they are bound to repent." (VI, 35:176)
At Mahasivaratri (8 March 1967), the appearance of the Lingam on the next day is announced and again on the morning of the 9th of March: "The Emergence of the Linga ... will happen today." As well as the annual Abhishekam ceremony to honour Shirdi Sai.
"... illness has never affected this body, It cannot, anytime." (p. 169)
"[The President] said that Sathya Sai Baba knows all that happens in all. That is because I am in everyone - Ishwara sarvabhoothaanam - as the scriptures say." (VII, 11:59)
This volume of Sathya Sai Speaks is full of direct claims. It covers the very important year of 1968, when the expansion of SSO activities begins to show.
"Of what benefit is it merely to swallow a few drops of nectar created by Me? (VIII, 1:2)
"I have no intention to create and give amrith on this Vaikuntha Ekadashi day. For no one walks on the path I have chalked out ..." (VIII, 1:4)
On Mahasivaratri (26 February 1968) SSB, as was his custom, announced the coming miracle: "Many of you have come to witness this day the amazing evidence of Divine Power." But he also warned the crowd not to dwell on the process of the lingam production:
"only the manifestation of an atom of My majesty. In Me, who can create worlds and fill the Universe, there are things more worthy of adoration: universal love, the teaching of dharma (virtue) ..." (VIII, 8:35, 26 February 1968)
During the May 1968 First World Conference of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, in two key Discourses, SSB presented himself very forcefully with the following bombardment of unequivocal claims to a claimed audience of 25,000 (Chapter 19, pages 95-100).
He began by assuring delegates that "My Life is My Message", (which some critics have claimed to be a quotation from Gandhi) but that, although he has not come to set up a new cult, "I affirm that this Sai form is the form of all the various names that man uses for the adoration of the Divine." (17 May, p. 95) (VIII, 19:95)
The fuller text is:
"You must have noticed that I do not speak abut Sai in My discourses, nor do I sing of Sai during the bhajan with which I usually conclude My discourses. And you must have wondered why. Let me tell you the reason. I do not want the impression to gain ground that I desire this Name and this Form to be publicised. I have not come to set afoot a new cult; I do not want people to be misled on this point. I affirm that this Sai form is the form of all the various names that man uses for the adoration of the Divine. So, I am teaching that no distinction should be made between the names Raama, Krishna, Ishwara, Sai B for they are all My names.'' (VIII, 19:95-96)
"I have not got the slightest intention to utilise the Seva Samithis (Service Organisations) for propagating My Name or canvas homage for My Name. No! I am content only when spiritual endeavours and disciplines to elevate and purify man are progressing everywhere." (VIII, 19: 96)
"You elaborate in your lectures the unique powers of Sai, the incidents are described as 'miracles' in books written on Me by some persons. But I request you not to attach importance to these. Do not exaggerate their significance; the most significant and important power is, let Me tell you, My prema (love)." He then repeats this habit of both claiming and downplaying his miraculous abilities: "I may turn the sky into earth or the earth into sky; but that is not the sign of Divine might. It is the prema ... that is the unique sign." (VIII, 19:98)
"This is the very first time that a World Conference is held of persons devoted while the incarnation is present before every one, with the body assumed for the purpose, bearing the name that is chosen for it by itself." (p. 98)
On page 99: "This is a Human Form in which every Divine entity, every Divine Principle, that is to say, all the Names and Forms ascribed by man to God are manifest.'' (Sathya Sai Speaks, VIII, 19:99)
"... in a short time you will become cognisant of the bliss showered by the Divine Principle, which has taken upon itself this sacred body and this sacred name." (VIII, 19:99)
"You can witness very soon the restoration of Sanathana Dharma to its genuine and natural status ..." (p.100)
"On previous occasions when God incarnated on earth, the bliss of recognising Him in the incarnation was vouchsafed only after the physical embodiment had left the world."
(Sathya Sai Speaks, VIII, 19:100)
"But ponder a moment on this Sathya Sai manifestation; in this age of rampant materialism, aggressive disbelief and irreverence, what is it that brings to it the adoration of millions from all over the world? You will be convinced that the basic reason for this is the fact that this is the Supra-worldly Divinity in Human form."
"... how fortunate you are that you can witness all the countries of the world paying homage to Bharata; you can hear adoration to Sathya Sai's Name reverberating throughout the world, even while this body is existing - not at some future date, but when it is with you, before you." p.100
"You can witness very soon the restoration of Sanathana Dharma to its genuine and natural status ..." p.100
On SSB's brief African tour in 1968, there were no direct Divine claims. In Kampala he modestly said: "It is not enough if you gather in thousands on occasions when a mahatma (sage) comes to town ..." (VIII, 24:132)
"In each Yuga, the Divine has incorporated itself as an Avatar for some particular task. This Incarnation is different in that It has to deal with the crisis which is world-wide and world-shaking." (VIII, 28:157)
"Now that the Nirakara (the Formless, attributeless principle) has come in human form, be earnest to observe the orders given for yr own Liberation. Do not cast away the nectar of Grace when it is offered." (VIII, 33:184- 1968)
Surely, nothing could be clearer than this massive early body of direct confident claims of Divinity (etc.) by SSB.
Between 1969 and about 1972, which marks the end of a very important phase of the SSB Mission, there are still a fair number of these robust claims in SSB's Discourses. For example:
Volume 10 (1970) also has a large number of claims, but increasingly from now on the references are more oblique.
"So, the Almighty who has made creatures evolve into human beings comes down as Man, whenever that creature forgets or ignores this basic duty to itself." (X, 18:110)
"There can be no possible means of approach to this manifestation, from the stage which you can attain. This is an Incarnation, an Embodiment, which is beyond anyone's comprehension. Trying to explain me would be as futile as the attempt of a person who does not know the alphabet to read a learned volume, or the attempt to pour the Ocean into a tiny waterway." (X, 28:170)
The reader's first impression here, as in other Discourses and memoirs, is that SSB's confidence is closer to boasting. However, an examination of the context reveals something even more interesting. SSB was referring to a preceding talk by his close associate, Professor Bhagavantam, who had earlier given an account of his visit to USA as SSB's chosen representative. The immediate trigger for the claim reproduced above was the fact that American devotees and others had (naturally) asked the Professor questions about SSB. Seen in this light, SSB's olympian reaction also sounds narcissistic and even insecure, as well as derogatory and ungrateful toward Bhagavantham as the chosen emissary. (SSB has directed similar derogatory remarks in public at other associates, often eminent professional men - who, like Kasturi in particular, received them submissively.)
"And all this I do, not for personal gain, but only because I have come for yr sake. I never seek another's help; I offer help, never receive it. My hand always gives; it never takes. Conclude from this that this must be Divine, not human, power.
"Some of you may be wondering, 'How does Swami arrange these elaborate festivals and functions? Whom does he charge with the various items of work?' I do not allot work to this person or that, or consult anyone for ideas and suggestions. All this is done by the Divine Will, operating through the force of Love." (X, 30:185)
"I am present everywhere, at all times; My Will must prevail over every obstacle; I am aware of the past, present and future of yr innermost thought and carefully guarded secrets. I am sarvantharyami, sarvashaktha and sarvajna (Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient). Nevertheless I do not manifest these powers in any capricious manner or merely for display. For I am an example and an inspiration for whatever I do or omit to do. My life is a commentary on My message." (X, 30:185)
"I am active and busy all the twenty-four hours of the day. Every day, the mail brings me thousands of letters and you hand over to ne personally hundreds more. Yet I do not take the help of anyone else, even to open the envelopes. For you write to me intimate details of your personal problems, believing that I alone will read them and having implicit confidence in me. You may ask how I manage it? Well, I do not waste a single moment." (p. 185)
"In order to make known My majesty and My glory as the Divine that has Incarnated, miraculous happenings of an amazing nature do take place in certain areas." (X, 35:234)
(A reflected claim, by comparison)
"Others who are taken to be elders have posed certain problems, to confuse the mind. Krishna, they say, showed many wonders, with amazing disregard of the Laws of Nature and therefore, according to them, Krishna had to meet his death from the arrow of a hunter. Jesus, they say, suffered crucifixion, for he too manifested many miracles. Their argument is that since I am defying the laws of nature, I too will suffer likewise. They plan to create panic and spread false alarm. But these are the prattlings of weakness, helplessness and envy." (X, 35:236)
"I do not depend on outer manifestations and actions; I am related to you through the inner principle of Love. If you are to be drawn by outer attractions, advertisement is imperative. ... But here in the Prashanthi Nilayam , no invitation has ever been printed and distributed on any occasion, asking people to come. No one has been specially requested to come. It is Love, the invitation of the heart to the heart, that has brought you in tens of thousands to this place." (page 237)
"... during no previous Age did man have this unique chance. No organisation of this nature was established, no Conference of this character was held in the Presence and no opportunity was given then to derive Ananda through such close association, through conversation and through singing together. Undoubtedly, you are all singularly fortunate." (X; 35:238)
"The Sathyam-Shivam-Sundaram (Truth-Love-Beauty) manifestation of God responds to prayers addressed to any of Its manifold Names. It is endowed with infinite patience and compassion, though it It has now assumed human form and can be expected to have human traits and even human failings, for it has to deal with human frailties and rescue man from himself." (X, 38:251)
After another severe illness in December 1970, allegedly undertaken on behalf of yet another unnamed ailing devotee, SSB apologises for his non-appearance for several days and alludes to rumours, presumably of his fallibility by fainthearted devotees: "I know that some stories that heightened your anxiety were circulated as the reason for my absence that day. And even those who came to know the real reason, attributed it to what they called miracle or mesmerism or some such cause, which they held to be reprehensible! It is easy to dismiss the Divine by some cheap phrase; but that does not mean that you have negated It or understood It." (X, 38:254)
"I had to take on Myself the illness that would have been fatal to a very good person who had surrendered to God, and the call was so urgent and sincere that I could not possibly postpone My response until all my engagements were fulfilled! You believe in such things when they are related to Rama or Krishna or others ... But in the case of the Incarnation before you, you apprehend that when the Divine is recognised, certain consequences follow, and you try to avoid them. But I carry on my task of Bhaktharakshana (rescuing the devotees, good and sincere seekers) regardless of what the world may think of it." (X, 38:254)
He further asserts, as on other similar occasions:
"This body will ever be free from illness and pain; disease can never affect it. That is the real truth." (12-12-70, and also on 18-12)
He also issues a rebuke and re-asserts his claim:
"Embodiments of the Divine! This is the best time to tell you something about the authenticity of this Advent. I am saying this, not for establishing a claim for superiority or importance for this Body; I only wish to communicate the Truth. There are many who cannot bear or tolerate the splendour that I am manifesting, the Divinity that is expressed in every act, the wonders and amazing happenings that are the result of Grace; these people label these as acts of mesmerism or miracles or feats of magic! They hope to bring these down in the estimation of people. Let me tell you this: Mine is no mesmerism, miracle or magic. Mine is genuine Divine Power."
"There are others who cavil at these, and whisper that miracles are not conducive to spiritual development, that they will be handicaps in the process of realisation of God, and they persuade you to stray away from the true path. These people are too weak to conceive the Divine; they have no strength or stamina to understand its magnificence and majesty. They have small minds and limited intellects." (X, 39:261)
And (on page 262) in answer to critics of his use of magical powers (siddhis):
"God can do anything; He has all power in the palm of His Hand! My powers do not abide in Me a while and then fade away! Indhra jalam idham - All this is apparent manipulation by Divine Will. My Body, like all other bodies, is a temporary habitation; but My power is eternal, all-pervasive, everlasting! This body has been assumed, to serve a purpose: the establishment of Dharma and the teaching of Dharma. When that purpose is over, this Body will disappear, like a bubble on the waters." (X, 39:262)
"The other day a very serious illness came upon this body, in Goa. When they came to know about this, many devoted to me were plunged in anxiety! Illness can never affect this Body; it cannot approach it. If it comes sometime , that is but a passing phase: it belongs to someone, and it comes to me and goes, just as it came! When it comes, this body 'appears' to be ill! But I have no contact with it, no affliction!" (X, 39:262)
"This birth has been undertaken by you for this very mission: the mission of crucifying the ego on the cross of compassion." (XI, 5:30)
Talking to pilgrims who walked 400 miles to attend Mahasivarartri, SSB says, omnisciently, "I was with you throughout, from the very first step to the last. Some of you argued at H... ... I know that you spent 75 per cent of the time in Divine thoughts, 25 per cent on your personal worries ..." (XI, 9:54-55)
SSB manages on the one hand to build up the expectancy of a miracle and on the other, to imply that it is of no consequence.
"You consider Shivaratri to be a great event, a sacred festival, because of the emergence of the Linga from this body." (XI, 12:79)
But he resumes his normal claim mode with:
"I have been declaring since six or seven years that the day when millions will gather to benefit from the Avatar is fast coming." (XI, 41:271)
"The Avatar comes as man in order to demonstrate that man is Divine, in order to be within reach of man." (XI, 45:291)
After almost 30 years of Mission, SSB gave the first of what was to become a series of annual Discourses on Jesus Christ (24 -12 72, in Bangalore). This is the sequence of SSB's account, with his special viewpoints. The Discourse culminates in a preposterous claim that Jesus announced SSB's future Advent from the Cross. This is still taken seriously by devotees and the SSO (who accord this Discourse and three others pride of place on one of their websites).
"The great teachers belong to mankind. It is wrong to believe that Jesus belongs only to the Christians and that Christmas is a holy festival for the West only. To accept one of them as one's own and discard the rest as belonging to others is a sign of pettiness. Christ, Rama, Krishna - they are for all men everywhere." (XI, 54:338)
"Christ. Baba uses an analogy of the Moon to make the link 'The Moon reflected on the flood is the Individual Soul, engaged in activity, embroiled on Maya, cause and effect. The Moon, reflected in the placid face of the lake is the Yogi, the Saint, who has attained balance, equipoise, peace, dwelling in the One. The real Moon in the sky is the Eternal Witness, the Absolute, the Primal Principle.
"Christ spoke of these three, when He made, one after the other, three statements. Referring to the active individual soul, the flickering Moon, he said, 'I am the Messenger of God'; referring to himself as the Yogi, who has risen beyond dualities, and attained balance, he said, 'I am the Son of God'. Realising that these two are but reflections, and that the real Moon is the Witness in the sky, he declared towards the end of his life, 'I and My Father are ONE'." (XI, 54:339-340)
"The followers of Jesus have got broken into schisms on various counts, but the life of Christ is a lesson of Unity." (p. 342)
"And, the story says, there was a Star in the sky, which fell with a New Light, and this led a few Tibetans and others to the place where the Saviour was born. This story is read and taken on trust by many, though stars do not fall or even slide down so suddenly. What the story signifies is this: There was a huge halo of splendour illuminating the sky over the village where Christ was born. This meant that He, who was to overcome the darkness of evil and ignorance had taken birth, that He will spread the Light of Love in the heart of man and councils of humanity.
"Appearances of splendour and other signs to herald the era that has dawned are natural when incarnations happen on earth." (p. 344)
4.(at the end of the Discourse)SSB makes this categorical claim, extraordinary even by his standards:
"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."
"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.'
But that is not all. SSB adds that he is not just Christ, but God the Father:
"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." (Sathya Sai Speaks, XI, 54:346)
"There is only one God; He is Omnipresent. There is only one religion, the Religion of Love; there is only one caste, the Caste of Humanity; there is only one language, the Language of the Heart.'' (Sathya Sai Speaks, XI, 54:347)
"God is not somewhere away from you, someone distinct from you, he is in you, before you, behind you, beckoning, guiding, guarding, warning, prompting, the Inner Voice speaking ever with you. You need not seek Him, He is there ready to respond to the call from the heart. Call on Me and I am always by your side." (XII, 14:70)
"The power of Sai is limitless; It manifests for ever. All forms of 'power' are resident in the Sai palm.
"But those who [profess to have understood me, ... are aware only of the least important, the casusal [sic = causal, or casual??], external manifestation of an infinitesimal part of that power, namely the 'miracles'." (XII, 38:227)
"... during this Sai Avatar, there is no place for .. such dramas with scenes of failures and defeats [as Krishna]! What I will, must take place; what I plan must succeed." (XII, 38:228)
"For this Sai has come in order to achieve the supreme task of uniting the entire mankind, as one family through the bond of brotherhood ..." (XII, 38:229)
From Volume XIII (1973? - in which I found no direct Divine claims), direct claims of Divinity diminish while indirect claims and references to 'We are all God', 'God is within', 'God is in everyone', 'Everyone is God' become more frequent.
A few examples of both indirect and direct claims follow. (Direct claims now seem more likely to occur on special festivals when SSB is in a particularly expansive or emotional mood.)
"... Sai is in all. Know that I am nearest to him who calls on Me and sees Me in all beings." (XIII, 18:106)
"The Lord is the refuge of all .... He is now at Puttaparthi as the Effulgent Emperor over the region of Truth, Goodness and Beauty." (XIII, 19:114)
"This year you have named My birthday the "Golden Jubilee" of the Avathaar (divine incarnation)." (page 117)
"Since the uniquely powerful impact of Sathya Sai has become world-wide, many ignorant persons afflicted with envy and monetary greed are attempting to spin malicious tales to belittle and defame the culture of Bharath. This has been so in every age when the Divine has come among mankind. But despite such tactics, the task will not falter, the Triumph will not be delayed." (XIV, 43:278)
"When you look towards Me, your form appears in My eye and My form appears in your eye at the same time. If you do not look towards Me, your form cannot appear in Mine.'' ( Sathya Sai Speaks, XV, 49:276)
"The world may change, but the Shiva principle is unchanging. The same union of the Universal Divine Mother and Father is represented by the name and form of 'Sai Baba'." (XVI, 5:31 - 11-2-83)
"When God assumes the human form and is behind, before and beside you, speaking to you and moving with you, and allows you to cultivate attachment of various kinds with Him, you do not recognise Him. The Divine cannot be easily recognised, when It is embodied." (XVI, 16:88, 24-7-83, Guru Purnima - first)
"One word of Swami grants the treasure of all the riches. A single glance of Swami bestows all boons; it is the Paarijaatha (wish-fulfilling flower tree). (on same page)
"When the Divine platys and sings with us, meets us and eats with us, we should not be misled into the belief that It is just human and nothing more." (on same page)
"Even when the Divine appears in human form, moves freely amongst men, and is near in various ways to people, few are able to recognise Divinity in the physical form alone." (XVI, 17:94, 24-7-83, Guru Purnima - second)
"It is to raise man to a higher level that the Divine comes down as Avatar. Avatar means descent. ... Divinity descends to the human level and teaches how man can divinise himself." (XVI, 23:124)
"As the world goes, at the age of 60, the physique becomes weak and the mind loses its alertness. But I skip along as fresh and active as ever. I see and I hear, I play and sing as bright and busy as a youth of sixteen. This sacred nature I have assumed will not allow physical or other weakness to hinder me." (XVIII, 25:160, SSB's 60th Birthday)
"Now, with all the attributes, all the qualities has come
He whom gods adore, the Refuge of the Rejected.
The Lord of all the world, the Lord of Infinite Glory.
As all Existence, as all Knowledge and
All Bliss in one Form embodied,
As Puttaparthi Sathya Sai, the Overlord of all that is."
(XVIII, 25:155, SSB's 60th Birthday)
"One should understand the ideals set for humanity by God in His human incarnation and live up to them." (XX, 18:149)
"It is not easy to understand the nature of the Divine. Because the Divine is omnipresent, He can undertake any kind of activity." (XX; 29:240)
One of the immediate triggers for direct Divine claims in this later period of SSB's Mission is a personal illness or accident (as we have been reminded in 2002, 2003, and 2004). An earlier incident occurred in August 1988. According to Sathya Sai Speaks (XXI, Chapter 23, p. 185), SSB had slipped in his bathroom and fractured his hip on August 20. Instead of weeks of bed rest he missed darshan for a 'few days'. On August 26 he gave a discourse in honour of the Festival of Onam. His editors went on to point out that SSB devoted a good part of the discourse to explaining what had happened. (This is understandable, because devotees, who are so engrossed with SSB's every word and action, would have been worried about SSB and praying for his recovery. They would also possibly be feeling puzzled that their Divine Lord should be susceptible to human frailty, in spit of his frequent assurances to the contrary.) The editors (who give the Discourse the title 'The Divine and the devotee') also state that his revelations "provided ... new insights into His Avataric mission" (p. 186) Indeed, SSB once again takes the opportunity of an affliction to reassert his Divinity and special powers:
"The body is subject to the laws of Nature. When anything happens in the course of nature, the Divine can face it by self-control. The ordinary devotee cannot do so." (p.186)
"Various rumours and conjectures were going around among devotees ..." (p.186)
"There was no need for the doctors to see Me. I have to control whatever happens to Me. This is My example to the world."
"This kind of equanimity cannot be felt by anyone except the Divine. There is nothing beyond the power of the Divine." (p. 187)
Then, as if nostalgically reverting to an old habit, and with no obvious relevance to the subject, SSB refers to one of his alleged powers which had not been reported for some time: "Sometimes I take on the ailments of the others. I do this for My own delight and not out of any external pressure." (p. 188)
"Do not give room in any circumstance, at any time, for apprehensions about what may befall Swami. Nothing can do Me any harm. Occasionally there may be troubles which are incidental to the nature of the body." (p.188)
"Such things happen to the Divine - they come and go. I take no account of them. Here is another example of how the Divine works. The fact that I have been standing here for such a long time is itself a miracle." (Sathya Sai Speaksp, XXI, 23:190)
SSB returns to the theme of the fall and of devotees' doubts and worries (somewhat testily) in a Discourse a week or so later ('Role of the Avatar'). He energetically dismisses any need for concern:
"The question has arisen in the minds of some devotees: As Swami is aware of what will happen in the future, should He not have anticipated and avoided the slip in the bathroom? I know all about the future. But I think only of the future of others and not of My future." (XXI, 25:199 - dated 3-8-1988, Gokulashtami Day, but the date is presumably an error for: 3-9-1988, or thereabouts.)
"The question has arisen in the minds of some devotees: As Swami is aware of what will happen in the future, should He not have anticipated and avoided the slip in the bathroom? I know all about the future. But I think only of the future of others and not of My future." (XXI, 25:199)
"Remember that Swami knows all that is happening ..." (XXII, 12:97)
"In the case of earlier avatars, their fame grew only long after their passing. In the case of the present avatar, in His own lifetime, a university, a big hospital, an aerodrome and many other things have been established for the benefit of the villagers and many more will follow in the years ahead." (XXIII, 34:296)
"What has been accomplished at Prashanthi Nilayam in the past fifty years could not have been achieved even in five hundred years [cheers]. Although many avatars have done great things, no avatar has achieved the stupendous things done here in fifty years. All this has been accomplished by this single hand. A splendid university has been established here. A planetarium has been set up. In a small village like this, even an aerodrome is being constructed. The name of Prashanthi Nilayam has spread to all parts of the globe. The whole world exists in miniature in Prashanthi Nilayam. People from all countries are gathering here.... This supreme power of attracting so many from all parts of the wortld can only belong to the Divine [cheers]." (XXIII, 29:254)
"... the Avatar does not forgo any of His supreme powers merely because He lives and moves among human beings as a man." (XXIV, 6:58, 24-3-91)
"Nobody can fully comprehend the significance of Sathya Sai's actions, whether small or big. Human beings cannot accomplish such things." (XXVI, 25:259, 3-7-93 - In an emotional Discourse three weeks after the killings in the ashram in June 1993.)
"Whether the Lord makes his presence felt in certain situations or not should not be judged by narrow human considerations. The Lord will reveal His powers only at the appropriate moment, when the time is ripe. ... Even the omnipotent and omniscient Lord has to respect the time factor. He has to observe the rules of the Cosmic game. He cannot violate His own rules and regulations ..." (XXVI, 27:296, 10-8-93)
"It is to teach this message that the Sai advent has taken place. Sai has come to indicate the omnipresence of God. The Avatar has come down to declare that God is present everywhere." (Sathya Sai Speaks, XXIX, 24:190, July 1996)
The following comments, uttered in 1994 to re-assert SSB's claims and re-assure his devotees (with a veiled rebuke for doubting him) might, in the light of the recent exodus of foreign devotees, prove to be unintentionally prophetic - or realistic. It might even explain why he gets so agitated (as we have seen) when beset by illness or injury.
"I take no medicine as no disease affects Me. Even while I take on the diseases of others." (XXVII, 6:53, 30-1-94)
"No disease has affected this body at any time during the past 68 years ... Even when I take on the diseases of others ..." (XXVII, 6:53)
"I am always in Ananda (bliss) and that is the vitamin and protein for Me. Happiness lies in union with God. ..." (same page)
"... you have to understand that if Sai did not have unique power, would He be able to attract persons from America, England and other countries?" (XXVII, 21:180)
"God showers His grace according to one's deserts. He is the embodiment of Love. One's bad qualities prevent one from realising the grace of God. The fault lies with the individual and not with God." XXVII, 22:192
"There is no need to search for the Divine elsewhere. There is no need to go to a forest and lead an austere life to experience the Divine Who is within each one. When man turns his vision inward he can experience eternal Bliss. The source of Bliss, the Spirit, is within himself. ... God is within the body. Forgetting the God who is nearest and closest to them, people are trying to seek for an invisible God elsewhere." (XXVII, 27: 235-236 Brindavan 9-10-94)
"It may be asked why God is not visible if He is all-pervading. The answer is that though God is omnipresent, He can be experienced only by those who have a pure heart." (XXVII, 29:253, 23-10-94)
"Even though the Divine has come down as an actor on the world stage, He is biding for the proper time to play His full role." (XXVII, 31:271, 23-11-94)
A few of SSB's varied opinions on the nature of an Avatar:
SSB's Claims to be the Reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba
"I remember telling a questioner in Maharashtra, while in the previous body, that there are three types of devotion ..." (Sathya Sai Speaks, I, 2:10, Prashanti Nilayam, 1955, Mahasivaratri)
"the late brother of the Raja S..., a person who dwelt on My name even in the last moments of his life ..." (Sathya Sai Speaks, I, 16:93, Venkatagiri Town, 9-9-58)
"... this day is unique because it is rare that an Avathaar instals the idol of another. I Myself find it rather amusing. Of course, Rama installed the Shivalinga at Rameshwaram before He started out for Lanka for the extermination of the evil-doers. Now there is no question of extermination. My task is Dharma Samsthaapanam (establishment of righteousness). And now that I am entering on that Avathaarakaarya (task of the Incarnation), I ... am installing this idol prior to that task.'' ( II, 2:5, 26 February 1961, Naaga Sai Mandir, Coimbatore)
"When this Mahaashakthi decided to leave the previous body in 1918, Kaaka Saheb Dikshit was told that in 8 yrs' time this will take birth again." (II, 20:102)
"While in the previous body, I had said, 'I will come again after eight years.' Dikshith has written it down as if I will appear as an eight-yr-old! That is a mistake. Having cast off that body on the Vijayadhasahami Daym 1918, I granted actual concrete darshan off and on to various bhakthas during about six years." (II; 22:118)
"I am reminded now of past events, events in my previous body. ... A wrestler challenged Me then for a fight and he was defeated before a large gathering of villagers." (II, 31:170)
"I shall tell you now of an incident that happened eighty years ago." [It involves a Yogi named Hamsaraj.] (II; 35:205)
"There was a Judge who used to come to Shirdi ..." (II, 37:216)
"Let me tell you an incident which happened while in the prev body at Shirdi. There was a lady ..." (II, 48: 270)
"When I was in the previous body at Shirdi ..." (IV, 20:112-113)
"When I was in the previous sareera (body) ..." (IV, 35:207-208)
"While in my previous body ..." (V; 50:277)
"The doctor who is presiding over this Hospital Day is known to me for many yrs: he was coming to Shirdi and is very much attached to Me, since the first day he came there. Though the Shirdi body and this body are different, the dehi (the person in the body) is the same; and so I recognise and reward all who come to either place." (VII, 32:166)
In 1969, SSB made a now rare public claim to be Shirdi Sai Baba reincarnated. "This is a temple where I have installed, twenty one years ago, one such Form ... This is the Sai Form, which sat and taught at Dwarakamayi, at Shirdi." (IX, 11:56 Guindy (Madras) 22-6-69). After this year, although worship of the statue and pictures of Shirdi in the ashram continued, SSB ceased to refer to Shirdi Sai Baba in Discourses for twenty years, until 1990.
Then, on 27 September 1990, SSB suddenly told a long story about Shirdi's birth (which he said was on that September day) and his early years, announcing (alleged) facts unknown to any of Shirdi biographers (including the year of birth: 1835). Inexplicably, exactly two years later, on the same festival day, without any reference to the earlier story, he decided to tell another Shirdi anecdote, with different details , including a new year of birth, 1838, more in keeping with general opinion. (See Vol XXIII, Chapter 28 for 1990 and Vol. XXV, Chapter ?30, for 1992.) There was a further Shirdi Discourse shortly after, on Vijayadashami Day in October, the (known) anniversary of Shirdi's death. (Chapter 34)
"The two bodies are different, but the Divinity is one. The first advent was for revealing Divinity. The second advent is to awaken the Divinity (in human beings). The next advent is for propagating Divinity. The three Sais are: Shirdi Sai, Sathya Sai and Prema Sai." (XXIII, 28:244)
"Once in Shirdi ..." (XXV, 22:252)
"In My previous body (as Shirdi Sai Baba) everyone was taught through actions. ..." (XXV, p. 354) [The fact that the editors felt the need for the parenthetical explanation is of interest.]
Prema Sai Claims [The following information may surprise many devotees.]
The only direct mentions I have found of the Prema Sai connection are as follows:
"Shiva said that they would take form and be born in the Bharadwaaja Gothra (lineage) thrice: Shiva alone as Shirdi Sai Baba, Shiva and Shakthi together at Puttaparthi as Sathya Sai Baba and Shakthi alone as Prema Sai, later." (Sathya Sai Speaks, III, 15:91, 6 July 1963)
1976, in a long interview with R.K.Karanjia, in answer to a direct question from the distinguished and hard-bitten Indian journalist and editor, who was obviously very impressed by his meeting with SSB (as are so many other people):
"Finally Prem Sai, the third Avatar, shall promote the evangel [gospel] that not only does God reside in everybody, but everyone himself is God. That will be the final WISDOM which will enable every man and woman to rise to be God.'' (R.K.Karanjia, 1994:18)
In his 1990 Discourse anecdote about Shirdi:
"The two bodies are different, but the Divinity is one. The first advent was for revealing Divinity, The second advent is to awaken the Divinity (in human beings). The next advent is for propagating Divinity. the three Sais are: Shirdi Sai, Sathya Sai and Prema Sai."(Sathya Sai Speaks, XXIII, 28: 244)
Other than that, SSB has been very reticent in public about the Prema Sai reincarnation and in a (rare) meeting with the Press in New Delhi in March 1999, he did not mention his name when asked a direct question about who will take over his Mission when he passes on.
The paucity of direct references to Prema Sai is instructive in the context of the dissemination of information about SSB. For 60 years, following SSB's standard practice of revealing a great deal of background information about himself to associates, close devotees (like Kasturi, Hislop, the Balus, M.N.Rao, etc.) and interview groups, much amazing information about SSB has been spread by word of mouth and in countless devotee books. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that devotees already think they know what Prema will look like, because Hislop informed the world that SSB had assured him that a ring materialised for him [Hislop] bore the portrait of Prema Sai. Photographs of that attractive and bearded young face figure prominently in many books - along with another marvel divulged by the faithful and rather stolid Hislop, whose life was transformed by his long and close association with SSB: the Crucifix with the figure of Christ, also allegedly materialised by SSB from pieces of the true Cross for his faithful devotee and mentor, Hislop. (According to devotees, a photograph and other printed images of Christ (and printed images of Krishna) have been materialised by SSB on different occasions.)
Devotees have therefore 'known' for years about Prema Sai: the village where he will be born, who his mother will be (a reincarnated Kasturi, according to the prevailing rumour, which some insiders say was a joke by SSB to Kasturi), and what Prema's role will be - even the identity of the young man who has allegedly already reincarnated to be a Regent or Caretaker until the young Prema Sai is old enough to take over the last stage of the Triple Incarnation in the late 2020s. SSB's devotees have never been reluctant to add or pass on such contributions and accretions to the myth (whether from SSB or not), especially alleged miracles performed in unnamed places on unnamed devotees, as well as (quite incongruous) reports of predictions of SSB's Advent by Muhammad, Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, and in the New Testament. All of which underlines the important fact that it is not only SSB who has been busy for so long claiming to be the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai, and an Avatar with full powers; he has been fully supported by a very willing entourage, and aided and abetted, joyfully and enthusiastically, by the main body of devotees, ever hungry to hear more about SSB and to spread the fantastic news about their fascinating and charismatic guru, whom they believe (because his words and deeds have convinced them) to be God Incarnate.
Could they be wrong? See Dossier 1 on SSB's Stories.
Back to Brian Steel's Sathya Sai Baba Page
Substantial further details and background information about the Divine Claims are to be found in the following articles on this Sathya Sai Baba page (www.bdsteel.tripod.com/More): 'Sathya Sai Baba's Claims of Divinity: Avatar and Triple Avatar',
'SSB's Claims to be the Reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba',
'Sathya Sai Baba's Fluctuating Claims of Divinity'
'Devotees' Expectations and SSB's Lingam Production'
'Downgrading Divinity (An Update)'.
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