domingo, 25 de julio de 2010

Sathya Sai Baba



Sathya Sai Baba

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Sathya Sai Baba
Sai one.jpg
«Yo soy la Belleza Suprema...» (Sai Baba, parafraseando las palabras del dios hindú Krishná en el Bhagavad-Gītā).
Nombre secular Sathyanarayana Raju
Nombre religioso Sathya Sai Baba
Apodo Sai
Nacimiento 23 de noviembre de 1926
Puttaparti (India)

Sathya Sai Baba (23 de noviembre de 1929 o 1926) es un controvertido gurú del sur de la India, con seguidores en todo el mundo.

  • సత్య సాయి బాబా en telegú
  • सत्य साई बाबा en devánagari

Nació con el nombre Sathya Narayana RAJU RATNAKARA

Contenido

[ocultar]

[editar] Biografía

Raju nació en una pobre familia campesina, hijo de Peddavenkama Raju y Easwaramma (que pertenecen a la casta Raju y tienen el apellido Ratnakara), en el remoto pueblo de Puttaparthi, en el distrito de Anantapur (estado de Andhra Pradesh). En el registro de la escuela de Bukkapatnam, en 1942, aparece que Sathyanarayana Raju nació en 1929.[cita requerida] Probablemente se cambió la fecha de su documento de identidad para coincidir con una «profecía» del religioso bengalí Aurobindo, acerca de que el santo Sai Baba de Shirdi reencarnaría ocho años después de su muerte (o sea, en 1926). Según una hagiografía[1] oficial de cuatro volúmenes, escrita por Narayana Kasturi (devoto de Sai Baba) en conversaciones con el propio Sai Baba, éste dijo que poco después de nacer encontraron una cobra en las sábanas de su cuna. Esto habría demostrado a sus padres que él era Sheshasai (el dios Vishnú, que está acostado sobre la serpiente Shesha). Pero este nombre indicaría una cierta exageración de Sai Baba para hacerse parecer un dios, ya que según la mitología hindú, el dios Śesha-śayī-Vishnú, que vive ‘acostado’ (śayī) sobre la serpiente Śesha, que es una expansión del propio Vishnú como serpiente de mil de cabezas (no una cobra de sola cabeza) que canta las glorias del dios con sus mil bocas.

El escritor Arnold Schulman (1925–) autor de la biografía Baba, en 1971) contradice esta historia, basándose en los dichos de la hermana de Raju, declaró que había estado presente en el nacimiento, y que la serpiente se vio varias horas después, fuera de la casa (algo que es muy común en los pueblos de toda la India).[2]

Schulman escribió que «por cada episodio de la infancia de Baba, hay incontables versiones contradictorias»; en este punto, el escritor descubrió que no le era posible separar los hechos de las leyendas.[3]

Según Kasturi, y Sathya Sai Baba mismo, cuando tenía 8 años de edad le gustaba componer bhajans.

A los ocho años, Raju comenzó la escuela primaria en Bukkapatnam. Después ingresó a la escuela secundaria en Uravakonda. El 8 de marzo de 1940 (a los 14 años de edad), SatyaNarayana Raju comenzó a comportarse como si un escorpión le hubiera picado en el pie. Mostró un comportamiento extraño después de esto y entró en un estado de coma. Después de un tiempo, se levantó y su comportamiento preocupó sus padres: no quería comer, se quedaba en silencio largo tiempo, recitaba antiguos shlokas o elaboraba las escrituras hindúes sagradas. A pedido de su familia, Sai Baba regresó en junio a la escuela secundaria de Uravakonda. En mayo de 1940 se proclamó la reencarnación del faquir musulmán y santo hindú Sai Baba de Shirdi (c. 1838-1918), y consecuentemente tomó el nombre del faquir Sai Baba.

Según Kasturi, el 20 de octubre de 1940, a la edad de 14 años, Satyanarayana Raju tiró sus libros y anunció: «Mis devotos están llamándome. Tengo mi trabajo». Entonces pasó los tres días siguientes bajo un árbol en el jardín de un funcionario inspector (oficial del Gobierno) y mucha gente se reunió alrededor de él. Baba les enseñó a cantar bhajans que alababan a varios dioses hindúes, y a sí mismo. Desde aquel momento Sai Baba clamó ser el avatar para nuestra era, es decir una encarnación divina enviada a la Tierra para provocar la renovación espiritual. Desde entonces él ha mantenido de manera insistente esta posición.

En 1944 un mandir para los seguidores del Sathya Sai Baba se construyó cerca del pueblo y que se llama el "mandir viejo" ahora. La construcción de Prashanthi Nilayam, el áshram actual, se empezó en 1948.

En 1958 se inauguró Sanathana Sarathi, la revista oficial de los seguidores de Sai Baba.[4]

A finales de los años sesenta, buscadores espirituales occidentales empezaron a ser atraídos a él y él se hizo enormemente popular entre los buscadores espirituales occidentales.

Baba ha viajado sólo una vez fuera de India para visitar a Idi Amin en Uganda en 1968.[5]

Sathya Sai Baba tuvo dos hermanas, un hemano mayor (el fallecido Seshama Raju) y uno más joven, el fallecido R. V. Janaki Ramaiah.

[editar] Obra social

El 23 de noviembre de 1950 se inauguró el áshram que sus seguidores construyeron cerca de su pueblo natal y que es conocido como Prashanti Nilayam (la morada de la paz suprema). Actualmente hay dos más: uno en Kodaikanal y otro en Withefield. Este centro se ha convertido en un lugar de peregrinación y culto para los seguidores de Sai Baba y es el lugar donde Sathya Sai Baba se reúne habitualmente con sus devotos.

Los Centros Sai repartidos por el mundo son lugares de meditación donde las personas aprenden a profundizar en su propia fe. Algunas de sus funciones son el servicio desinteresado al prójimo, los círculos de estudio, la meditación y la educación en valores humanos. Sus miembros provienen de todas las clases sociales y pertenecen a diversos credos y culturas. Estos Centros Sai han sido con frecuencia el motor de la fundación de colegios, escuelas técnicas, universidades y hospitales. Gracias a Sai Baba se han instalado 2250 km de tuberías, y se han construido tanques para suplir con agua potable a miles de personas en 732 poblados del sur de India.[cita requerida]

[editar] Creencias de sus seguidores

Los seguidores de Sai Baba creen que él tiene poderes sin límite, que trascienden la experiencia mundana y científica, pero que por humildad se niega a mostrarlos. Además, consideran que con sus enseñanzas logran ser mejores personas, tolerantes de cualquier credo y manifestación divina, ya que su principal enseñanza es poder ver a Dios en todas las cosas y en todos los seres. Pese a que Sai Baba es considerado un avatar, sus enseñanzas, según afirman sus seguidores, no incluyen la creación de una nueva religión o secta.

En un tríptico de la Organización Sri Sathya Sai puede leerse:

Yo he venido a encender la lámpara del amor en sus corazones, para hacer que cada día ilumine con renovado brillo. Yo no he venido en nombre de ninguna religión. Yo no he venido en ninguna misión de publicidad para ninguna secta, credo o causa; ni he venido a reclutar seguidores para ninguna doctrina. Yo no tengo planes de atraer discípulos ni devotos a mi causa o a ninguna causa. Yo he venido a hablarles de esta fe unitaria, de este principio espiritual, de este camino de amor, de esta virtud de amor, de este deber de amor, de esta obligación de amar.
Sai Baba

[editar] Seguidores

Sai Baba vuelca un recipiente con cenizas (vibhuti) sobre una estatua del santo Shirdi Sai Baba (1838-1918) en una ceremonia de homenaje.

Hay unos 1200 centros Sai Baba en 114 países de todo el mundo. Respecto al número de seguidores y devotos, hay varias estimaciones:

  • Según Beyerstein (1992: 3; escéptico) habría 6 millones de seguidores en todo el mundo.
  • Según Riti & Theodore (1993: 31) serían 30 millones.
  • Según Sluizer (1993: 19) serían 70 millones
  • Según Van Dijk (1993: 30; seguidor de Sai Baba) de 50 a 100 millones.

Sai Baba ha declarado repetidamente ser la reencarnación del santo Sai Baba de Shirdi (c. 1838-1918), quien a su vez declaraba ser una reencarnación del dios Shivá o del sabio Dattátreia (antiguo sabio mítico, quien a su vez declaraba ser la encarnación simultánea de los dioses Brahmá, Vishnú y Shivá.

[editar] Avatara (encarnación de Dios)

Desde los 14 años de edad, Sai Baba ha declarado que es el avatar para esta era.

En 1963, durante un discurso, Baba hizo declaraciones polémicas en donde declaró ser una reencarnación combinada del dios Shivá y de la diosa Shakti. También declaró que Sai Baba de Shirdi había sido una encarnación de Shivá y que su reencarnación futura, el Prema Sai Baba, sería una reencarnación de Shakti. Repitió esta afirmacion públicamente en 1976. La biografía de Baba dice que el Prema Sai Baba nacerá en el estado de Mysore.

En 1960, el Sathya Sai Baba dijo que estaría en esta forma humana mortal durante otros 59 años (hasta 2019). Según un libro de 1984, Sai Baba dijo: «En este cuerpo yo no me pondré viejo o débil como en mi antiguo cuerpo». Sin embargo, en 2003 Michael Goldstein (oficial de la Sathya Sai Organisation) informó Baba había sufrido un accidente que ha dañado su cadera. Desde 2005 Sathyanarayana Raju ha estado confinado a una silla de ruedas para poder movilizarse. Se informa que su salud quebrantada lo ha forzado a hacer menos apariciones públicas.[6]

Nadie viene a Mí si Yo no lo he llamado, todos aquellos que saben de Mí o que vienen a Mi presencia es que han sido invitados por Mí.
Sai Baba
No vayan por allí proclamando que son una secta, distinta y separada de aquellas que adoran a Dios en otras formas y nombres.
Sai Baba
No quiero que se vaya propagando la impresión de que yo deseo que se difundan mi nombre y mi forma. No he venido a establecer una nueva secta, no quiero que se engañe a la gente sobre este punto. Afirmo que esta forma de Sai Baba es la forma de todos los varios nombres que el hombre usa para la adoración de lo divino.
Sai Baba
Llámenme con el nombre que les resulta más dulce a su corazón y acudiré, porque soy todos los nombres y todas las formas.
Sai Baba

[editar] Controversia

Sai Baba ha estado rodeado de denuncias de abuso sexual, engaño, asesinatos y delitos financieros.[7] [8] Un documental de la BBC nota que tales controversias han persistido por al menos 30 años.[9] De acuerdo con la BBC, «La escala del abuso ha causado alarma en todo el mundo. Los gobiernos de todas partes del mundo están profundamente preocupados y están comenzando a tomar acciones, advirtiendo a sus ciudadanos acerca de Sai Baba»[9] [10] El sitio web de la embajada estadounidense en Delhi —refiriéndose directamente a Sai Baba—[9] advierte a los ciudadanos estadounidenses que piensan visitar el Estado de Andhra Pradesh en contra de un «líder religioso local» que ha sido denunciado por dedicarse a «conducta sexual inapropiada» con jóvenes devotos varones.[9] La embajada declara que «la mayoría de las denuncias indican que las víctimas de esas incitaciones han sido devotos varones, incluidos un cierto número de ciudadanos estadounidenses».[11]

El artículo «Intocable» en el sitio The Salon.com, publicado el 25 de julio de 2001, informó que después de que Conny Larsson, un actor sueco de cine denunció los abusos sexuales que Sai Baba había cometido contra él, se cerraron en Suecia la Organización Sai junto con la escuela privada afiliada a ese grupo. La revista Illustrated Weekly of India declaró que —a pesar de las acusaciones de abuso sexual y las dudas sobre la divinidad del indio— nadie está poniendo en tela de juicio las obras filantrópicas de la organización Sai Baba.[10]

En 1976 un ex devoto estadounidense, Tal Brooke, escribió el libro Avatar of the night: the hidden side of Sai Baba (‘La encarnación de la noche: el lado oscuro de Sai Baba’). En él se refiere a las actividades sexuales secretas del gurú.

En el año 2004, la BBC —en su serie «The World Uncovered»— difundió al Reino Unido y al mundo un documental titulado The Secret Swami.[12] Un tema central del documental fueron las denuncias de abuso sexual de Alaya Rahm contra Sai Baba.[9] El documental lo entrevistó a él junto con Mark Roche, quien dedicó 25 años de su vida (desde 1969) al movimiento y también denunció los abusos sexuales del gurú.[9] Un vocero de la BBC declaró ante la revista Asian Voice que el documental ha hecho un gran esfuerzo por ser justo y equilibrado, y que la historia trataba acerca de una crisis, y finalmente de una traición a la confianza.[13]

El 30 de enero de 2002, la empresa nacional de radio y televisión Radio Dinamarca, presentó otro documental, Seduced by Sai Baba (‘seducido por Sai Baba’), presentó entrevistas de acusaciones de abuso sexual.[14]

[editar] Notas

  1. Según el periódico Daily Telegraph no se trata de una biografía, sino de una hagiografía.
  2. Schulman, Arnold (1971). Baba, Viking Press, pp. 122-124. ISBN 0-670-14343-X. «Una de las dos hermanas de Baba, sin embargo, que dijo haber estado en el nacimiento, dijo que no encontraron la cobra bajo la manta, sino que varias horas después de que Baba nació vieron una cobra fuera de la casa, una visión que no es incomún en la aldea.»
  3. Schulman, Arnold (1971). Baba, Viking Press, pp. 122-124. ISBN 0-670-14343-X. De acuerdo con su opinión —en esa época él era devoto de Sai Baba—, las versiones contradictorias de la vida de Baba pueden deberse al hecho de que él necesitaba intérpretes para traducir a otros intérpretes (como en el caso de su entrevista con la hermana de Baba). Schulman concluyó que lo que decían los traductores podría haber sido bastante distinto a lo que realmente se estaba diciendo.
  4. David Bowen: The Sathya Sai Baba community in Bradford: its origins and development, religious beliefs and practices. Leeds: University Press, 1988. ISBN 1-871363-02-0.
  5. David Bowen: The Sathya Sai Baba community in Bradford: its origins and development, religious beliefs and practices. Leeds: University Press, 1988. ISBN 1-871363-02-0.
  6. “Sai Baba turns 82, is still going strong” (‘Sai Baba cumple 82 años, y aún sigue fuerte’), IBN Live. «Sin embargo ha estado confinado a una silla de ruedas desde hace más de dos años, y su salud quebrantada lo ha forzado a hacer menos apariciones públicas».
  7. “Suicide, sex and the guru”, de Dominic Kennedy, en The Times (Londres), 27 de agosto de 2001.
  8. Michael Dynes (27 de agosto de 2001). «I sought peace and couldn’t find it». The Times.
  9. a b c d e f Eamon Hardy, Tanya Datta. Secret Swami (‘el suami secreto’) [documental]. BBC News.
  10. a b Michelle Goldberg (25 de julio de 2005). «Untouchable?». Salon.com. http://archive.salon.com/people/feature/2001/07/25/baba/index.html.
  11. Hoja de información del consulado, publicada el 19 de enero de 2007 por la Oficina de Asuntos Consulares, del Departamento de Estado de EE. UU..
  12. «Programmes | This World | Secret Swami». BBC News (11-06-2004). Consultado el 07-01-2010.
  13. New Allegations Of Abuse Against Sai Baba by Payal Nair, Asian Voice, 26 June 2004: [1]
  14. YouTube.com (fragmento del documental Seducido por Sai Baba; en inglés).

[editar] Enlaces externos


Sathya Sai Baba

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Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba
Date of Birth 23 November 1926 (1926-11-23) (age 83)
Place of birth Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh, India
Birth-Name Sathyanarayana Raju
Quote Love All, Serve All
Help Ever, Hurt Never

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Sathya Sai Baba (Telugu: సత్య సాయిబాబా [sætjæ saɪ bæbæ]; Kannada: ಸತ್ಯ ಸಾಯಿ ಬಾಬ; Tamil: ஸ்ரீ சத்ய சாயி பாபா), born Sathyanarayana Raju on 23 November 1926,[1] is a popular, South Indian[2] guru, spiritual figure and educator. He is described by his devotees as an avatar, godman,[3] spiritual teacher and miracle worker.[1][4][5][6][7] The apparent materializing of vibuthi (holy ash) and small objects such as rings, necklaces and watches by Sathya Sai Baba has been a source of both fame and controversy – skeptics consider these simple conjuring tricks, while devotees consider them evidence of divinity.[8] Sathya Sai Baba has claimed to be the reincarnation of the great spiritual guru, Sai Baba of Shirdi, whose teachings were an eclectic blend of Hindu and Muslim beliefs.[9]

Sathya Sai Baba and his organizations support a variety of free educational institutions, hospitals, and other charitable works in India and abroad. The number of active Sathya Sai Baba adherents was estimated in 1999 to be around 6 million, although followers' estimations are far higher.[10] Since there are no formal ties of membership, the actual figure may never be known.[9] The Sathya Sai Organization reports that there are an estimated 1,200 Sathya Sai Baba Centers in 114 countries worldwide.[11][12] In India itself, Sai Baba draws followers from predominantly upper-middle-class, urban sections of society who have the "most wealth, education and exposure to Western ideas."[13] A cultural icon in his home country, Sai Baba has attracted presidents and prime ministers from India and beyond who have become his devotees; in 2002, he claimed to have followers in 178 countries.[14][15]

Contents

[hide]

[edit] Biography

Sathyanarayana Raju was born to Eswaramma and Peddavenkama Raju Ratnakaram[16] in the village of Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh, India.[9][17] Almost everything known about his life stems from the hagiography that has grown around him, the presentation of narratives that hold special meaning to his devotees and are considered evidence of his divine nature.[9][13][18]

His birth, which his mother Eswaramma asserted was by miraculous conception, was also said to be heralded by miracles.[2][9][19] As a child, he was described as "unusually intelligent" and charitable.[9] He was exceptionally talented in drama, music, dance and writing, and was an avid composer of poems and plays.[20] He was said to be capable of materialising objects such as food and sweets out of thin air.[21][22]

On 8 March 1940, while living with his brother in Uravakonda, Sathya was apparently stung by a scorpion.[21][22] He lost consciousness for several hours.[20] Within the next few days there was a noticeable change in Sathya's behavior.[22] There were "symptoms of laughing and weeping, eloquence and silence."[22][23] "He began to sing Sanskrit verses, a language of which he had no prior knowledge."[2] Doctors believed his behavior to be hysteria.[2][22] His parents brought Sathya home to Puttaparthi.[24] Concerned, they took him to many priests, "doctors" and exorcists.[22][23]

On 23 May 1940, the symptoms culminated with the disclosure of his divine identity. Sathya called household members and materialized sugar candy and other items. His father became furious upon seeing this, thinking his son was bewitched. He took a stick and asked him who he was. To this Sathya announced calmly and firmly "I am Sai Baba". The reference he made was to Sai Baba of Shirdi.[2][20] He proclaimed himself to be a reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi—a saint who became famous in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Maharashtra, and who had died eight years before Sathya was born.[2][24][25]

Later that year, Sathya Sai Baba declared that he had no worldly relationship with anyone,[9] and around this time, devotees began to gather to him.[9] In 1940, Sathya Sai Baba began to travel to Madras and elsewhere in South India and soon had a large regional following.[9]

In 1944, a mandir (temple) for Sathya Sai Baba's devotees was built near the village. It is now referred to as the old mandir.[26][27] The construction of Prashanthi Nilayam, the current ashram, began in 1948 and after 2 years, was completed in 1950.[9][27] In 1957 Sathya Sai Baba went on a North Indian temple tour.[17] In 1954, Sathya Sai Baba established a small free General Hospital in the village of Puttaparthi.[28]

Sri Sathya Sai University, Puttaparthi, A.P., India

In 1963, Sathya Sai Baba suffered a stroke and four severe heart attacks.[29] It is believed by some that he healed himself of these, and on recovering announced that he would be reborn as Prema Sai Baba in the state of Karnataka.[9] He stated, "I am Siva-Sakthi, born in the gothra (lineage) of Bharadwaja, according to a boon won by that sage from Siva and Sakthi. Siva was born in the gothra of that sage as Sai Baba of Shirdi; Siva and Sakthi have incarnated as Myself in his gothra now; Sakthi alone will incarnate as the third Sai (Prema Sai Baba) in the same gothra in Mysore State."[9][30]

On 29 June 1968, Sathya Sai Baba made his first and only trip overseas, to Uganda.[29][31] His party proceeded by car to Kampala, the capital city. Narayana Kasturi wrote, "During His stay He addressed gatherings of Lions and Rotarians, doctors, businessmen, members and workers of service organizations,"[31] as well as government ministers and officials.[31] During a discourse in Nairobi (Kenya, East Africa) Sathya Sai Baba stated, "I have come to light the lamp of Love in your hearts, to see that it shines day by day with added luster. I have not come on behalf of any exclusive religion. I have not come on a mission of publicity for a sect or creed or cause, nor have I come to collect followers for a doctrine. I have no plan to attract disciples or devotees into my fold or any fold. I have come to tell you of this unitary faith, this spiritual principle, this path of Love, this virtue of Love, this duty of Love, this obligation of Love."[32] In 1968, he established Dharmakshetra or Sathyam Mandir in Mumbai.[33]

In 1973, he established Shivam Mandir in Hyderabad.[33] On 19 January 1981, in Chennai he inaugurated the Sundaram Mandir.[33] In March 1995 he started the water project to provide drinking water to 1.2 million people in the drought-prone Rayalaseema region in Anantapur.[34] In 2001 Sathya Sai Baba established another free Super Speciality hospital in Bangalore to benefit the poor.[28] In April 1999 he inaugurated the Ananda Nilayam Mandir in Madurai, Tamil Nadu.

Since 2005, Sathya Sai Baba has used a wheelchair and his failing health has forced him to make fewer public appearances. In 2006 he suffered a fractured hip when a student slipped from the stool on which the student was standing. Both the boy and the iron stool fell on Sathya Sai Baba. He gives darshan now from a car or his porte chair.[35][36]

Sathya Sai Baba's assertion of divine status is expressed in the first person; he states it boldly and repeatedly.[9] "I am beyond the reach of the most intensive enquiry and the most meticulous measurement. Only those who have recognized my love and experienced that love can assert that they have glimpsed my reality. Do not attempt to know me through the external eyes."[37]

He is also known as a singer, having released several CDs of bhajans (devotional songs).[38]

[edit] Beliefs and practices of devotees

Sathya Sai Baba has said that his followers do not need to give up their original religion,[39] saying "My objective is the establishment of sanatana dharma, which believes in one God as propitiated by the founders of all religions. So none has to give up his religion or deity."[40]

Internationally, Sathya Sai Baba devotees gather daily or weekly on Sundays (and/or Thursdays) for group devotional singing (bhajans),[41] prayer,[42] spiritual meditation, service to the community (Seva),[43] and to participate in "Education in Human Values" (SSEHV)[42] also known as Sai Sunday School.

A primary aspect of Sathya Sai Baba's teachings is the spiritual benefit of darshan for his students. At that time, Sai Baba may interact with people, accept letters, materialize and distribute vibhuti (sacred ash) or call groups or individuals for interviews. Devotees consider it a great privilege to have an interview and sometimes a single person, group or family will be invited for a private interview.

There is no published formal doctrine or set of rules for the Sai Baba movement.[20]

[edit] Ashrams and mandirs

Puttaparthi, A.P.

Puttaparthi, where Sathya Sai Baba was born and still lives, was originally a small remote South Indian village in Andhra Pradesh. Now there is an extensive university complex, a specialty hospital, Chaitanya Jyoti (a world-religions museum that has won several international awards for design[44]), a Planetarium, a railway station, a hill-view stadium, an administrative building, an airport, an indoor sports stadium and more.[45] High ranking Indian politicians, like the former President Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Konijeti Rosaiah and Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa have been official guests at the ashram in Puttaparthi.[46][47] On Sathya Sai Baba's 80th birthday celebration, it was reported that well over a million people attended, including 13,000 delegates from India and 180 other countries.[48]

Sathya Sai Baba resides much of the time in his main ashram called Prashanthi Nilayam (Abode of Highest Peace) at Puttaparthi. In the hot summer he leaves for his other ashram, called Brindavan, in Kadugodi, Whitefield, a town on the outskirts of Bangalore. Occasionally he visits his Sai Shruti ashram in Kodaikanal.[49]

Sathya Sai Baba established three primary mandirs (spiritual centres) in India. The first mandir, founded in Mumbai in 1968, is referred to as either "Dharmakshetra" or "Sathyam". The second centre, established in Hyderabad in 1973, is referred to as "Shivam". The third centre, inaugurated on 19 January 1981 in Chennai, is referred to as "Sundaram".[33]

[edit] Institutions, organizations and projects

Sathya Sai Baba supports a variety of free educational institutions, hospitals, and other charitable works in over 166 countries.[50] The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (now changed to Sri Sathya Sai University) in Prashanthi Nilayam is the only college in India to have received an "A++" rating by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (an autonomous body established by the University Grants Commission).[51][52] Sri Sathya Sai University for which Baba is the Chancellor, has three campuses, one at Puttaparthi for men,[53] one at Whitefield, Bangalore for men [54] and one at Anantapur for women.[55] His charity supports an institute for Indian Classical Music called the Sri Sathya Sai Mirpuri College of Music. Baba's educational institutions aim to impart Character Education along with Excellence in academics with emphasis on Human Values and Ethics.[56]

Sathya Sai Baba chairs the Muddenahalli-Sathya Sai Loka Seva School and Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Trust Educational Institutions in Muddenahalli-Kanivenarayanapura regions. In addition, a Sathya Sai Baba University and Medical School as well as a world class Hospital and Research Institute are being constructed on over 200 acres to serve the destitute population. Baba has said that the campus will be modeled after Puttaparthi and will infuse spirituality with academics.[57][58]

Sri Sathya Sai Super Specialty Hospital, Whitefield (suburb of Bangalore), Karnataka, India

The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences in Puttaparthi is a 220 bed facility that provides free surgical and medical care and was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao on 22 November 1991.[28] The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences in Bangalore is a 333 bed hospital meant to benefit the poor.[59] The hospital was inaugurated on 19 January 2001 by the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.[60][61] The hospital has provided free medical care to over 250,000 patients.[62]

The Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital was opened in Whitefield, Bangalore, in 1977 and provides complex surgeries, food and medicines free of cost. The hospital has treated over 2 million patients.[63]

The Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust runs several general hospitals, two specialty hospitals, eye hospitals and mobile dispensaries and conducts medical camps in rural and slum areas in India.[50] The Trust has also funded several major drinking water projects. One project completed in 1996 supplies water to 1.2 million people in about 750 villages in the drought-prone Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh.[34][64] The second drinking water project, completed in 2004, supplies water to Chennai through a rebuilt waterway named "Sathya Sai Ganga Canal".[65][66] Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi praised the Chennai water project and Sai Baba's involvement.[67][68] Other completed water projects include the Medak District Project benefiting 450,000 people in 179 villages and the Mahbubnagar District Project benefitting 350,000 people in 141 villages.[34] In January 2007, the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust said it would start a drinking water project in Latur, Maharashtra.[34] In 2008, 2 million people in the state of Orissa, India were effected due to floods. As a after relief measure, Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organization, has built 699 houses as a part of their first phase in 16 villages by March 2009.[69]

Sathya Sai Baba's Educare program seeks to found schools throughout the world with the goal of educating children in the five human values. According to the Sai Educare site, schools have been founded in 33 countries, including Australia, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Peru.[70][71] The Times of Zambia states, "The positive influence of Sathya Sai is unprecedented in the annals of education in Zambia. Sai Baba's education ideals as embodied in his human values-based approach in education are an eye opener to educationists in Zambia."[72]

In Canada, the Fraser Institute, an independent Canadian research and educational organization, ranked the Sathya Sai School of Canada as one of the top 37 elementary schools in Ontario.[73] The Sathya Sai School scored a perfect 10 out of 10 in the Institute's overall rating for academic performance.[73][74][75]

On 23 November 1999, the Department of Posts, Government of India, released a postage stamp and a postal cover in recognition of the service rendered by Sathya Sai Baba in addressing the problem of providing safe drinking water to the rural masses.[76]

On 23 November 2001, the digital radio network Radio Sai Global Harmony was launched through the World Space Organization, United States. Dr Michael Oleinikof Nobel (distant relative to Alfred Nobel and one of the patrons for the radio network) said that the radio network would spread Sathya Sai Baba's message of global harmony and peace.[77]

In January 2007, an event was held in Chennai Nehru stadium organised by the Chennai Citizens Conclave to thank Sathya Sai Baba for the 200 crore water project which brought water from the River Krishna in Andhra Pradesh to Chennai city. Four chief ministers attended the function.[78][79]

Sri Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospital, Puttaparthi, A.P., India


[edit] Claims of miracles and clairvoyance

Devotees say they have observed Sathya Sai Baba manifesting vibuthi (holy ash), and sometimes food and "small objects" such as rings, necklaces and watches.[80] In some books, magazines, filmed interviews and articles, Sathya Sai Baba's followers report miracles of various kinds that they attribute to him.[81] The first ever record of Baba's miracles by a foreigner was made by Howard Murphet in his book, Sai Baba - Man Of Miracles.[82] Devotees have said that objects have appeared spontaneously in connection with pictures and altars of Sathya Sai Baba.[83][84] Sathya Sai Baba's devotees believe that he relieves his devotees by transferring their pain to himself.[85]

Internationally, devotees report that vibuthi, kumkum, turmeric powder, holy water, Shiva lingams, statues of deities (brass and gold), sugar candy, fruits, herbs, amrita (a fragrant, nectar-like honey), gems, colored string, writings in ash and various other substances spontaneously manifest and materialize on the walls, furniture, pictures and altars of Sathya Sai Baba.[83][84][86][87][88][89]

The retired Icelandic psychology professor Erlendur Haraldsson wrote that he did not get Sathya Sai Baba's permission to study him under controlled circumstances, but that he investigated the guru's alleged miracles and manifestations through interviews with devotees and ex-devotees.[90] Some of the reported miracles included levitation (both indoors and outdoors), bilocation, physical disappearances, changing granite into sugar candy, changing water into another drink, changing water into gasoline, producing objects on demand, changing the color of his gown while wearing it, multiplying food, healing acute and chronic diseases, appearing in visions and dreams, making different fruits appear on any tree hanging from actual stems, controlling the weather, physically transforming into various deities and physically emitting brilliant light.[91] Haraldsson wrote that the largest allegedly materialized object that he saw was a mangalsutra necklace, 32 inches long, 16 inches long on each side.[92] Haraldsson wrote that some miracles attributed to Sathya Sai Baba resemble the ones described in the New Testament, but that although healings certainly figure in Sai Baba's reputation, his impression is that healings do not play as prominent a role in Sathya Sai Baba's activities as in those of Jesus.[93]

Sathya Sai Baba has explained the phenomenon of manifestation as being an act of divine creation, but refused to have his materializations investigated under experimental conditions. In a 1974 discourse, he stated, "The optical sense cannot visualize the truth. It gives only false and fogged information. For example, there are many who observe my actions and start declaring that my nature is such and such."[37]

In April 1976, Dr. H. Narasimhaiah, a physicist, rationalist and then vice chancellor of Bangalore University, founded and chaired a committee "to rationally and scientifically investigate miracles and other verifiable superstitions". Haraldsson stated that Narasimhaiah wrote Sathya Sai Baba a polite letter and two subsequent letters that were widely publicized, in which he publicly challenged Baba to perform his miracles under controlled conditions.[94] Sathya Sai Baba said that he ignored Narasimhaiah's challenge because he felt his approach was improper.[95] Sathya Sai Baba further said about the Narasimhaiah committee, "Science must confine its inquiry only to things belonging to the human senses, while spiritualism transcends the senses. If you want to understand the nature of spiritual power you can do so only through the path of spirituality and not science. What science has been able to unravel is merely a fraction of the cosmic phenomena ..."[95] As the saint declined for his enquiry,Narasimhaiah's committee was dissolved in August 1977.

According to Erlendur Haraldsson, the formal challenge from the committee came to a dead end because of the obviously negative attitude of the committee, and perhaps because of all the fanfare surrounding it. Narasimhaiah held the fact that Sathya Sai Baba ignored his letters to be one of several indications that his miracles are fraudulent.[96] As a result of this episode, a public debate raged for several months in Indian newspapers.[97]

Sathya Sai Baba says of "miracles", "those who profess to have understood me, the scholars, the yogis, the pundits, the jnanis, all of them are aware only of the least important, the casual external manifestation of an infinitesimal part of that power, namely, the "miracles"! This has been the case in all ages. People may be very near (physically) to the Avathar, but they live out their lives unaware of their fortune; they exaggerate the role of miracles, which are as trivial, when compared to my glory and majesty, as a mosquito is in size and strength to the elephant upon which it squats. Therefore, when you speak about these 'miracles,' I laugh within myself out of pity that you allow yourself so easily to lose the precious awareness of my reality."[37]

[edit] Criticism and controversy

The Salon.com's "Untouchable" article, published in 25 July 2001, reported that after Conny Larsson, a Swedish film star, made abuse allegations, the Sai Organization in Sweden, along with a Sai-affiliated school, was shut down. It also carried other allegations.[98][99] The article stated that although controversies surround these ventures, even Sathya Sai Baba's critics admit that he has helped to ease the region's suffering. Illustrated Weekly of India stated that no one doubted the numerous philanthropic works conducted by the Sai organization regardless of the controversial divine status of Baba.[98]

In 2004, in the UK and internationally, the BBC aired a documentary titled The Secret Swami, in its series 'The World Uncovered'.[100] One central theme of the BBC documentary was Alaya Rahm's sexual abuse allegations against Sathya Sai Baba.[99] The documentary interviewed him together with Mark Roche, who had devoted 25 years of his life since 1969 to the movement and alleged abuse by him.[99] A spokesman for the BBC told Asian Voice that the documentary had gone to great lengths to be balanced and fair, and that the story was one of a crisis and ultimately a betrayal of faith.[101] Another documentary, Seduced By Sai Baba, carried interviews of abuse allegations. It was produced by Denmark's national television and radio broadcast company, Denmarks Radio (DR).

The Vancouver Sun in 2001 reported that Sathya Sai Baba told his adherents not to sign on to the World Wide Web due to the allegations rapidly circulating on various Internet sites and in a few newspapers.[102] In a 2000 public discourse, Sathya Sai Baba said, "These teachings (the Vedas) are highly sacred. Today people are ready to believe all that they see on television and internet but do not repose their faith in the Vedic declarations. Internet is like a waste paper basket. Follow the 'innernet,' not the internet."[103]

Documentaries produced by the BBC and the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, analyzing videos of the supposed miracles, suggest that they can be explained as sleight of hand.[99][104] In the 1995 TV documentary Guru Busters,[105] produced by filmmaker Robert Eagle for UK's Channel 4, Sathya Sai Baba was accused of faking his materializations. A videotape[106] suggested that magician's tricks were involved. The same videotape was mentioned in the Deccan Chronicle, on 23 November 1992, on a front page headline "DD Tape Unveils Baba Magic".[107] However Dr. Erlendur Haraldsson, Professor of Psychology in his book Modern Miracles stated that on investigating the DD video researchers did not find evidence of fake materialisation as claimed by Deccan chronicle. Dr. Wiseman took the video to a company which investigates coorperate fraud. In spite of improving the grainness of the low quality video with enhanced filters and running it through advanced image processing systems still the DD video did not yield firm evidence of sleight of hand.[108]

The British journalist Mick Brown stated in his 1998 book that Sathya Sai Baba's claim of "resurrecting" the American devotee Walter Cowan in 1971 was probably untrue.[109] His opinion was based on letters from the attending doctors presented in the magazine Indian Skeptic, published by Basava Premanand, a skeptic and amateur magician.[109][110] Mick Brown also related, in the same book, his experiences with manifestations of vibuthi from Sathya Sai Baba's pictures in houses in London, which he felt were not fraudulent or the result of trickery.[83] Brown wrote with regards to Sathya Sai Baba's claims of omniscience, that "skeptics have produced documentation clearly showing discrepancies between Baba's reading of historical events and biblical prophecies, and the established accounts."[109] In a BBC documentary Basava Premanand stated that he had been investigating Sathya Sai Baba since 1968, and that in his opinion Baba has faked materialisations. He sued Sathya Sai Baba in 1986 for violations of the Gold Control Act which stemmed from Sathya Sai Baba's purported "materializations" of gold objects. When the case was dismissed, Premanand unsuccessfully appealed on the ground that claimed spiritual power is not a defense recognized in law.[111]

The magazine India Today published in December 2000 a cover story about Baba with allegations of fakery made by the magician P. C. Sorcar, Jr..[112]

[edit] Responses to criticism

Neither Sathya Sai Baba nor any organizations associated with him have been charged or convicted for sexual abuse or any other crime in a court of law.[113] Alaya Rahm filed a lawsuit against the 'Sathya Sai Baba Society' in the Superior Court of California on January 6, 2005. On April 7, 2006 Alaya Rahm withdrew his lawsuit after indications that his challenge lacked merit. The case was dismissed 'with prejudice' meaning it cannot be filed for the same claims again.[113] The Pioneer also noted that no offers of monetary settlement were paid to Alaya Rahm.[113]

During an interview with Asian Voice magazine Ashok Bhagani, a trustee of the Sai Organization in the UK, said that the allegations in the Secret Swami BBC documentary were baseless. Bhagani said that devotees never meet Baba alone.[101]

Lawrence A. Babb states, "he is certainly more than the mere parlour trick magician many of his critics claim that he is."[9]

Devotee Bill Aitken (traveller) was quoted by The Week as saying that Sathya Sai Baba's reputation has not been harmed by the negative stories published about the guru. He opined that the more detractors rail against Sathya Sai Baba, the more new devotees went to see him.[114]

In the article Divine Downfall published in the Daily Telegraph Professor Anil Kumar, the ex-Principal of the Sathya Sai Educational Institute said that he believed that the controversy is part of Baba's divine plan and that every great religious teacher had to face criticism in his/her lifetime. Anil Kumar also said that allegations have been leveled at Sathya Sai Baba since childhood, but with every criticism he becomes more and more triumphant.[115]

In an official letter made public in December 2001, A.B. Vajpayee (then Prime Minister of India), P.N. Bhagawati (Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India), Ranganath Misra (Chair Person, National Human Rights Commissioner of India and Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India), Najma Heptulla (President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union; UNDP Distinguished Human Development Ambassador) and Shivraj Patil (Member of Parliament, India; Formerly of the Lok Sabha & Union Minister) all signed a letter which stated as follows "We are deeply pained and anguished by the wild, reckless and concocted allegations made by certain vested interests and people against Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. We would normally expect that responsible media would ascertain the true facts before printing such calumny - especially when the person is revered globally as an embodiment of love and selfless service to humanity. Since this professional ethic has not been observed by a section of the media, we have elected to go public with this signed statement."[116]

The Times Of India on 26 December 2000 said that Sathya Sai Baba "lashed out at his detractors in a rare display of anger" while referring to criticism published in a magazine. The Times quoted him as saying, "Jesus Christ underwent many hardships, and was put to the cross because of jealousy. Many around him could not bear the good work he did and the large number of followers he gathered. One of his disciples, Judas, betrayed him. In those days there was one Judas, but today there are thousands. Just as that Judas was tempted to betray Jesus, the Judases of today, too, are bought out to lie. Jealousy was the motive behind the allegations levelled at him".[117]

Sathya Sai Baba publicly responded to the allegations on 25 December 2000: "Some people out of their mean-mindedness are trying to tarnish the image of Sai Baba. I am not after name and fame. So, I do not lose anything by their false allegations. My glory will go on increasing day by day. It will never diminish even a bit if they were to publicize their false allegations in the whole world in bold letters. Some devotees seem to be perturbed over these false statements. They are not true devotees at all. Having known the mighty power of Sai, why should they be afraid of the 'cawing of crows'? One should not get carried away by all that is written on walls, said in political meetings or the vulgar tales carried by the print media."[118]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

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