VISITING SAI BABA ASHRAMS (1)
Posted by robertpriddy on July 10, 2007
Unofficial but true information for persons considering visiting Sai Baba ashrams
It is important that someone with personal experience and confidential contacts, at least, presents some of the many undisclosed facts about Sathya Sai Baba’s ashrams, where the control of public information is very tight, well-censored and is maintained by insidiously strong social taboos on what can and can’t be said or told. Since I have had plenty of personal experience of the life of the ashrams and knew some very well-informed confidential contacts, besides keeping copious notes every day, I try to do my share. I leave the rosy writings to others now, having done too much more than a bit on that front before I became disillusioned!I was once mislead badly enough to believe that Sai Baba would never have a deceitful washerwoman or coolie in the ashram… they would all be spiritual due to their proximity to God Himself! When several pieces of my clothing has been stolen by a washerwoman, I carefully inquired of the public relations officials. They told me that all the washerwomen and coolies are thieves and liars! As time went on I learned that the proclaimed policy of ‘first come, first served’ is not practiced. There are many people who obtain privileges of many kinds… to jump queues, obtaining chits for a special place at darshan, obtaining favoured accommodation, often in return for favours to staff (including bribery). The so called ‘special guests’, referred to generally and treated as ‘VIPs’ can walk to the front of food queues ahead of cripples and the blind, and they use this privilege constantly, though there seldom any reason for their haste. This is a cause for envy in many, but this is not at all what motivates this account! I mention this because Sai Baba-devotees believe that all who criticise Sai Baba are merely envious, jealous etc., as Sai Baba himself insists! (Presumably he imagines – or even hopes – that all are envious of his blessings!).
The pleading faces and begging postures of devotees – not least Westerners and a number of the VIPs themselves – shows how true after all were Sai Baba’s words about the majority of people coming for something they want from him. Some have gained favours by sitting inordinate lengths of time in the ‘lines’ before darshan to get a prominent place (regardless of others whom they thereby displace) month after month until Sai Baba could hardly fail to reward them without seeming very hard-hearted to all those who observe these sad cases. The thousands of hours of discomfort they undergo – and their blank faces or often piteous expressions in front of Sai Baba – says at least as much about their level of desperation and dependency as their faith. They continue this behaviour when they are made VIPs too! The fixation one observes in them and others shows what a personality cult the Sai Baba movement really is. Those who strive in all ways to become important in the movement are mostly self-important, self-seeking and often uncivil persons who I would definitely have avoided entirely had I not then been a devotee… they mostly recall the phrase, ‘fools rush in where angels fear to tread’.