Basic Myths and Pertinent Questions about the Guru Sathya Sai Baba (Updated)
Brian Steel December 2003
Copyright © Brian Steel 2003
Sathya Sai Baba is India's most publicised living guru. In addition to over 600 books and articles in English alone, the official websites of his Sathya Sai Organisation, and innumerable unofficial devotee websites have sung his praises as an Omniscient and Omnipotent Avatar, miracle-maker, and public benefactor. In recent years, a growing number of dissenting views and serious allegations (some echoing earlier critical writings which failed to have any appreciable impact on devotees' opinions) have been appearing on the Internet, in the international print media, and in television documentaries. Some of these findings have converted the undoubtedly charismatic guru Sathya Sai Baba into a highly controversial public figure. These new analyses, revelations, and allegations are multiplying. (See Barry Pittard, 'Sathya Sai Baba: An Update', on www.exbaba.com , 30 September 2003.)
The following critical websites (together with their LINKS) are cautiously recommended to discerning seekers of counterbalance to the mass of hagiographical information offered by the Sathya Sai Organisation, devotee Web groups, and books and articles by devotees and naive outsiders.
To view these websites, please copy and paste the URLs into your Web Browser.)
http://home.no.net/anir/Sai/ [Robert Priddy]
www.exbaba.com ; www.exbaba.de ; www.exbaba.it
(For "The Findings", by David and Faye Bailey (March-April 2000), see any of the above.)
For the principal revelations prior to 2000:
http://www.indian-skeptic.org/html/index.html [especially the works of B. Premanand]
http://db.exbaba.de [A 1992 investigative e-book by Dale Beyerstein]
www.geocities.com/p_holbach/eng/main_e.htm [Paul Holbach c 1999)
Some of the above sources as well as my own lengthy and intensive research (initially as a hagiographical devotee and now as an ex-devotee) have gradually convinced me that there is already a compelling body of evidence to indicate that the following common beliefs and assertions about Sathya Sai Baba, which are fundamental to the persona which he, the SSO, spokespersons, writers, and devotees have projected to the world for several decades, are NOT supported by the facts. (It is also my opinion that such evidence will continue to grow as more and more objective researchers examine the evidence, putting to one side the unsupported claims in hundreds of eulogistic books and booklets about SSB and ignoring the smokescreens of obfuscation and denial instinctively thrown up by the SSO and unconditional devotees.)
This web page of my investigations about SSB [http://bdsteel.tripod.com/More ] centres around the theme of SSB's Claims of Divinity and Divine Powers and offers detailed evidence to support the statements and questions listed below. Alternatively, readers are invited to carry out their own research on the topics referred to below.
Basic Myths about the guru Sathya Sai Baba:
1. That he is the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba.
2. That he is a Purna Avatar.
3. That he is Omnipotent.
4. That he is Omniscient.
5. That he is Omnipresent.
6. That his birth followed an Immaculate Conception.
7. That the birth of the claimed trio of Sai Avatars into the family of his alleged ancestors was a boon granted by Siva and Shakti.
8. That his advent was prophesied by Jesus Christ, Muhammad, the Book of Revelations, Nostradamus, inter alia, and announced on 24 November 1926 by Sri Aurobindo.
9. That he will reincarnate again after 2022 as Prema Sai.
10. That he made his two Declarations and began his official Mission in 1940. (IF he made the Declarations, as is possible, there is documentary evidence to show that it would have been in 1943.)
11. That he was engaged full time on his Mission in the years 1941, 1942 and 1943 (rather than still at school for most of that period).
12. That he resurrected the dead bodies of Radha Krishna and Walter Cowan. (He may have had a healing influence in a near-death experience by these two men).
13. That he is able to speak all languages fluently.
14. That the printed version of his Discourses (which is his principal form of communication with devotees in many languages) is a faithful and close translation of what he actually says in Telugu.
(Readers should note that public access to a key collection of LITERAL translations of many of his recent Telugu Discourses ended after July 2002, following public revelation and discussion of this glaring discrepancy. See Questions 11-13 below.)
15. That he always tells the truth.
16. That he never sleeps.
17. That he does not feel or show anger or strong emotion.
18. That all the miracles described in the literature about SSB were real events.
Pertinent Questions about Sathya Sai Baba
1. Why did SSB promote himself so vigorously and unequivocally as Omnipotent Avatar from 1943 to the early 1970s and then drastically reduce his PUBLIC and DIRECT claims of Divinity and Omnipotence?
2. Why are similar PUBLIC direct claims of Divinity by SSB much rarer nowadays?
3. Why has the SSO become so insistent recently on promoting SSB's charitable works and the visits he receives from famous people? Why is it ambivalent in its promotion of SSB's alleged Divinity?
4. Is SSB fully cognizant of the activities and functioning of the Sathya Sai Organisation?
5. Why do some devotee chat groups reiterate unsupported allegations of SSB's Divinity and Divine Powers and unsupported prophecies of SSB's avataric "Advent"?
6. Why, since 1999, are SSO energies and funds (presumably from devotee donations) spent on promotional exercises and on the two massive official websites and the radio station which now promote SSB, who originally asserted that he needed no advertising and that he wanted nothing to do with the Internet?
7. What prompted the Australian branch of the SSO to make this admission on its website:
"It has become necessary to keep everyone concerned informed that our founder Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba attracts professionals, politicians, world leaders, heads of state and also the common man." (To whom does "everyone concerned" refer?)
(Note that his Divinity is not asserted here by these otherwise unconditional Aussie devotee-bureaucrats.)
8. Why have the favorable media reports on SSB published in the Indian and U.S. Press in the past year ignored solid available evidence of the public questioning of SSB's Divine Claims and alleged Omniscience?
9. Why did SSB originally claim that Shirdi Sai Baba (who died in 1918) was unknown in the Puttaparthi area when he made his claim to be an incarnation of Shirdi Sai in 1943? [not 1940]
10. Why did the International Chairman of the SSO, Indulal Shah, officially support this claim?
(We now know that at least one of Sathya Narayana's uncles was a Shirdi Sai devotee, that Shirdi Sai was known by some people in the area and that Sathya N. carried pictures of Shirdi with him in his teenage years.)
11. Why has the picture of Shirdi Sai Baba's face on the front of SSB's white gown in early reproductions of a 1940s photo (1943?) subsequently disappeared from some later reproductions of that photograph? (For example, in Love is My Form)
12. Why did SSB insist on publicly highlighting his alleged identity as the reincarnation of the godman Shirdi Sai Baba until 1970 and then suddenly drop the subject in public discourses for so long? Why has the SSO continued to give Shirdi Sai Baba such prominence in the ashrams? Why have the Shirdi and Sathya Organisations not merged?
13. Why did SSB begin to concentrate on telling his followers about his alleged special inside knowledge of Jesus Christ in 1970 just as his overseas centres were beginning to grow? Why do devotees accept the conflicting statements SSB makes about Jesus?
14. Why are we offered a translated and heavily edited version of what SSB says in his Telugu Discourses, instead of a simple translation? (Why isn't the word of "God" good enough?)
15. Why are the literal translations of SSB's Telugu Discourses no longer available on the Internet? (They were originally put there, in several languages, from 1999 to 2002 by hard-working devotees who wished to show others what they judged to be SSB's poetic style in Telugu, which they felt was totally lost in the official translations.)
16. Is the SSO ashamed of SSB's Discourses and of his speaking style?
17. Why has there been no official admission or correction of significant errors in SSB's Biography and important discrepancies in his Discourses?
18. Why has the publication of the second volume of the semi-official biography by Sai Towers (Love is My Form) been delayed for a year since November 2002? (The first volume revealed some of the very embarrassing discrepancies which have been reported on the Internet.) And will the third volume of this heavily advertised series, promised for November 2003, be similarly delayed?
19. Why do SSB's spokespersons publicly utter simplistic, unconvincing, or misleading statements about factual criticism of SSB?
20. Why do devotee writers and New Age practitioners continue to promote in their writing and on their websites SSB's alleged Divinity (etc.)?
21. Why are SSB's frequent errors, exaggerations, discrepancies, confusions, and probable inventions not acknowledged by devotees as prime evidence of his lack of omniscience?
I would sincerely welcome correspondence from readers who have taken the trouble to examine the extensive (and still organically growing) body of evidence and allegations referred to at the beginning of this article (see detailed references in Barry Pittard's September 2003 article on exbaba.com) and who wish to point out factual errors in the sections of the counter-evidence for which I am responsible.
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