Issues

A note on Satya Sai Baba

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Shri Satya Sai Baba rose into prominence as an ‘incarnation’ of the great universally respected savant Sai Baba of Shirdi. Later he claimed to be God. But God is immortal and Satya Sai Baba was a mortal human being who died on 24 April, 2011 at the age of 84. His death created a wave of shock and sadness, among his followers in India and abroad who revered him for his spiritual powers, supernatural ‘miracles’ like deposits of vibhuthi, materialization of miniature deities, and, later, even of various articles like rings or watches, which universally impressed his disciples. Though ‘miracles’ were challenged by his rationalist detractors as sleights of hand he did not agree to stand a scientific test.

Apart from the common people, the high and mighty of the land, including Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ministers, MPs, senior bureaucrats and top industrialists regularly visited him and sought his blessings.

Satya Sai Baba utilized enormous donations he received from his disciples for funding big and small projects for the welfare of the common people and for establishing educational and service institutions of excellence. He formed a Trust to administer them. In this lay his greatness.

The skeptics always wondered why he could not materialize enough gold or silver to finance national development and change the face of the Indian Society!

One only wishes that instead of concentrating on the welfare or development of the people in his vicinity who needed drinking water and health service he spread his acts of philanthropy to all parts of the country which face similar basic needs and also educational and public health deficits. Such acts by a distant Trust out of humanitarianism and patriotism would have served as a model for the government and local NGO.

An objection has been raised to the performance of the last rites of Satya Sai Baba with full state honours, with his dead body wrapped in the national flag. This was totally unprecedented. Many VVIPs including the President of the Republic and the P.M. also visited and paid their respect. A question arises whether such visits were a public duty, if it was a private visit, why the use of IAF aircrafts?

Thus Satya Sai Baba was secular in his approach, but he was essentially a Hindu Sant, who claimed to be God. The media have stressed that followers of all religions participated in his funeral. In fact there were one or two Muslim clerics. One wonders what they did and whether they were brought in for a photo-op.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 June 2011 on page no. 2

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