The Packaging of SB's Discourses - An Update
Brian Steel 20 March 2002
Hello, and welcome!
That's as interactive as this site gets, I'm afraid, but we do try to keep you up to date.
I won't bother you with references but there are previous articles (and chapters!) on this subject on this website of mine, if you haven't seen them.
Between mid-February when I last reported to you all and mid-March, four new Premsai literal versions of SB's Discourses have appeared, but the scene has changed somewhat - to the advantage of those who wish to see the truth and for any present or future researchers into the history of SB's Mission.
A reminder. The Premsai original translations are prefaced by this announcement:
"The following discourse has been translated into English from Bhagavan's Telugu speech as heard on this festival's ashram audiocassette. It is a complete, literal translation made with the objective of preserving Bhagavan's precious original poetic style as much as possible. The words spoken by Bhagavan in English are highlighted in bold black."
As we saw previously, the impressively and attractively designed Premsai Website was set up by translator devotees who wanted to recapture the original flavour of SB's simple and 'poetic' Telugu Discourses with a literal translation into several languages. The radical NEW element is that since late 2001 we are offered a CHOICE between "SAITRAD"versions, which are those of the OFFICIAL "booklet", and the usual PREMSAI literal translations of the audiocassette of the Telugu Discourse. (There is also an AUDIO option with which one may hear the original Discourse - again excellent material for researchers as well as the devotees it is intended for. See http://www.internety.com/premsai for all this.)
So, suddenly, discerning consumers are being offered a convenient two-flavour 'one-stop' website where both (conflicting) versions may be compared. The SAITRAD (edited) offerings are in fact the same as those presented unofficially by http://www.eaisai.com/baba and later printed by the SSO. These highly edited versions are therefore those which readers of Sai literature will be offered (NOT the more authentic Premsai originals) in the Organisation magazine and published books. Without wasting time on futile speculation, it has to be pointed out that, on a site which proudly proclaimed itself as not an official one (in spite of the Anil Kumar Satsang which has also been on offer), the expansion seems a strange innovation for this devoted group of aficionados of SB's Telugu poetic style.
Why make it SO easy for us all to see the embarrassing difference between the rambling style and discrepancies and confusion of the original and the more polished and packaged product? However, after so much earlier hard work tracking down a few scattered original versions of Discourses, I am not complaining - except at the great difficulty in matching up the various pieces of the disparate versions, and seeing exactly what has been deleted and which additions are present.
In this intervening month, four new Discourses have been offered in PREMSAI (original) versions. The SAITRAD official pages (like www. eaisai.com/baba) offer many more, including the latest two Mahasivaratri Discourses - with photos, which, by the way, are inconclusive either way (true /fake). The four SAITRAD/PREMSAI Discourses which can be compared are those of the 76th Birthday on 23 November 2001, the Christmas day Discourse, and the first two PREMSAI versions for 2002: 14 and 19 January.
Originally I had intended to analyse and report on all four of these 'windfalls', but after ploughing laboriously through the two vastly different versions of the Christmas and Birthday Discourses, I have had a surfeit and I must leave the rest to you. At a later date, I may have something to add about the forthcoming PREMSAI Mahasivaratri versions, if this seems helpful.
Before presenting my brief analysis and comments on the differing versions of SB's speeches, let me clarify an important point and a possible source of misunderstanding: I have absolutely NO criticism to make of SB for choosing a particular content and spoken style to give his teachings to his audiences. That is literally his business. In view of the fact that those who are actually present to listen to the Discourses are, in the majority, simple Indian people, a simple style (like that of SB's Telugu - although most non-local Indians do NOT understand this language), with colloquial quotations and simple stories, would seem a very appropriate vehicle for a spiritual teacher. For all we know, SB may be capable of other styles of address as well, but this is NOT apparent from his Telugu Discourses.
What ANYONE has the right to judge is the fact that what is subsequently presented in written form to the rest of SB's devotees, in India and all over the world, as SB's oral "teachings", is the product of a sophisticated editing process, presumably by other people within the SSO. This different printed product projects an image which does not correspond to the reality of SB's Discourse persona, and, as we have slowly been finding out recently, it often conceals important details which clearly reflect quite adversely on his claims to Divinity and in particular to Omniscience. And it is on this 'improved', packaged version that so many devotees all over the world base their image of SB.
For many people, the most worrying aspect of all this is that the editors of the official Discourses, who are part of the SSO, fail to make any specific comment on the fact that what they are issuing is NOT the real original Discourse. The reader is not made aware of this crucial fact. Why?
Returning to the recent PREMSAI and SAITRAD versions, the first general observation is, as usual, on the obvious difference in length between the two versions. The SAITRAD translated and edited versions are invariably shorter, often MUCH shorter, than the "original" translation. This in itself is a clear indication that something or other must have been condensed or left out.
Now, at last, to deal with the lengthy Christmas 2001 Discourse. Throughout the speech, SB's editors deal with his rambling, meandering style by consolidating his thoughts into longer, sophisticated paragraphs, and cutting out a lot of unnecessary bits and some doubtful remarks. But, as with most recent Christmas discourses, SB's capricious and vivid imagination and his seemingly weak grasp of the historical and theological realities of the Jesus period pose the greatest problems for his editors.
For example, the following 'original' translated section of PREMSAI:
"The three Arabian kings came together when Jesus was born. They came to have darshan of him. One said: "The one you think you are."
He said that, "He seems to be a Divine man."
The second one said:
"The one others think you are."
It means this is a nature which pertains to society. This is not an individual; it is the form of society.
The third king taught: "The One you really are."
He said, "He is one who has that Divine nature."
Due to each man having a different head and brain, their thoughts are also different. But we should not give any chance at all for these different thoughts. Regarding that, due to today's influences of Kali Yuga, man is aspiring for duality, but he doesn't relish unity at all. He is fragmenting unity into diversity, but the ancient ones had faith that there was unity in diversity."
comes out in the carefully edited version as:
"When Jesus was born, three Arabian kings visited him to pay their respects. One of them felt that the child would be a lover of God. The second one said that he would be the beloved of God and the third one felt that he was verily God. Opinions vary from person to person as each is different from the other. Our ancients visualised unity in diversity, whereas the modern man, due to the impact of Kali Age, fragments unity into diversity."
Then, after a long meandering examination into Bhutakasha, Chitthakasha and Chidakasha, we are treated to some new characteristically imaginative dialogue between Jesus and His mother in the PREMSAI literal version:
"Jesus also said this. When all of the fishermen came, first and foremost they desired what appealed to them in the world. Peter said, "I want a lot of fish." Still, he was on Lokakasham (the physical world). This only is Bhutakasha. Jesus fulfilled all their desires relating to Bhutakasha. Finally Peter thought about Chidaakasha - Chidaakasha, meaning Atma. "This Chitthakasha is not what I should desire. I have to go beyond my Chitthakasha (mind)."
"Jesus also said that to everybody. "Oh, people! Why this hatred? Why these agitations? Foster all with compassion. Love everyone. Wish well for everyone. Have faith in the unity in diversity." Jesus also said this. There were no different teachings of his. Numerous disciples wrote just as they liked. When they put his body on the cross, an ethereal voice said:
"All are One, my dear son.
Be alike to everyone.
"What is this? As the Mother Mary was crying, Jesus said: Death is the dress of life.
What is this? Death is only changing this dress. This dress is changed and another dress comes. Will human beings always have the same dress? One changes dresses every day. In that same way, these bodies change through numerous births. So it should not be called death just because it changes. This change is only related to the body."
The packaged SAITRAD version reads:
"The fishermen wanted Jesus to fulfil their worldly desires. Peter wanted more fish. But ultimately, he realised the futility of worldly desires. He wanted to go beyond the level of body and the mind as per the teaching of Jesus. Jesus told them to give up hatred and to love all and serve all. He exhorted them to develop faith in the principle of unity. Many disciples of Jesus interpreted the teachings of Jesus in their own way.
"When he was being crucified, he heard an ethereal voice, "All are one my dear son, be alike to everyone ". When the mother Mary was shedding tears, Jesus told her, "Death is the dress of life." Death is like changing of dress. Do you find anybody wearing the same dress every day? Just as you change your dress every day, you change the body from birth to birth. It is the body that dies, not the life principle. The Spirit is immortal and non-dual."
Then SB stumbles momentarily over the 'Bible' and his hapless editors seem equally unaware of the existence and relevance to Christians of the 'New Testament'. Really!
"Jesus was always teaching all of the fishermen. This Mathew wrote all of that. Mathew wrote all of it and he made it into a part of the Bible. Then the other disciples wrote all the rest, based on their own feelings."
According to the editors (SAITRAD):
"Mathew noted down all his teachings and wrote the holy Bible. Later on, many others wrote the Bible based on their own feelings."
And, finally, there is a terrible combined mix-up as SB invents another bit of Jesus dialogue, then rambles into yet another confusing and almost unbelievable reference to the Roman Catholics (does he mean the Romans? probably not), and then compounds the confusion with an idiosyncratic reference to the (later?) theological use of 'person':
"Jesus was the same way. Jesus also, even from the very beginning, never said that he was God. He only kept saying, 'Father, Father, Father, Father.' He pacified all the hostile people who came to him.
"There is only One God for me, for you and for everyone. There is only one Father for you, for me and for everyone. We are all children of this Father. Hence, we are the children of God." He also taught that.
"Finally, due to hostile people increasing, some of them went and caught hold of the head priest. He also knew the fault in their accusations. He knew that everything Jesus was saying was true. However, to protect his position, the head priest gave this kind of punishment to Jesus. He said to crucify him.
"The governor agreed to that, but he felt very badly. He said, 'Fie, fie, fie! Have I succumbed to such a sin?' The second day (after crucifixion), when Jesus rose again, the governor spread the fame that Jesus was a very great man.
"In the very beginning, all the Roman Catholics did not say that he was God. They didn't say that he was a disciple. They didn't say that he was the servant of God. However, they gave him another name. They called him, "Persona." All the Roman Catholics called Jesus, "Persona, persona, persona."
"Persona" means 'sacred'. English people made that sacred word 'persona' into 'person'. So the word 'person' has come from 'persona'. This means that this sacred Divinity is present in every single human being. Therefore, they called everyone 'person, person, person'. (Applause) Hence, even I and even every human being is a form of the Divine.
"Therefore, all are embodiments of the Divine. So there is the Divine Atma in everyone. They gave the name of 'persona' to this Atma. Hence, there is Divinity in every single human being. A human being devoid of God cannot be seen at all. A living being devoid of God cannot be seen at all. There is no life form devoid of God. There is Divinity in every living being."
For all of which the editors jump in and offer this still rather odd condensed version:
" From the beginning, Jesus never said that he was God. He only said that God was his father. He taught people that there was only one God and all were his children. His critics complained to the head priest against Jesus. The priest knew that Jesus was speaking the truth. But they did not support Jesus in order to safeguard their own position. It was decided that Jesus should be crucified. The Governor issued the orders, but later he repented. When Jesus rose from the cross, he went on propagating the glory of Jesus.
"The Romans addressed Jesus as 'persona' meaning one of sacredness. The English word person has been derived from this. It means that there is divinity in everyone. That is why I address you as embodiments of divinity. I and you are one. There is divine spirit in everybody. The very Self is called 'persona'. There is no life principle without divinity. Sarvatah Panipadam Tat Sarvathokshi Siromukham, Sarvata Sruthimalloke Sarvamavruthya Thishthati (With hands, feet, eyes, heads, mouth and ears pervading everything, He permeates the entire universe). Divinity pervades all forms."
There is a little more Jesus dialogue later, but I've had enough! I don't think I want to go on with this at the moment. I feel sickened, and a little sad. Revealing this sort of unwelcome truth has now become a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. But WHY on earth does the SSO and SB seem so oblivious or unconcerned that the packaging has become SO obvious? And why, why ,why, aren't these serious discrepancies more widely known and discussed?
For those of you who are now going to study these Premsai things for yourselves (and for those who prefer an incentive), you may like to know that in the 2001 Birthday Discourse, the packagers correct an etymological error of SB's, and spend a great deal of effort on condensing the second half into a readable version. A curious feature is (and this is NOT included in the SAITRAD version) that before wandering off into the rather superfluous second half of the Birthday speech, SB had obviously been "winding up" for closure (PREMSAI):
"I didn't think it was necessary to speak a lot today. I didn't think to speak. All of you be well today. Not only the welfare of the country of Bharath; you should also hope for the welfare of all countries also."
Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu.
May all the beings in all the worlds be happy. (Sanskrit sloka)
But SB changed his mind and meandered along familiar byways for another three pages, which the editors reduced to a single consolidated page - mercifully perhaps.
Back to Brian Steel's Home Page
Back to Beginning of this article
To Fresh Light on Sai Baba's Discourses