Our contacts in the ashrams inform us how apartments in Prashanthi Nilayam – and in Puttaparthi village – have become quite a drug on the market nowadays, not least due to the decline of the Sathya Sai following from abroad and the unavailability of Sai Baba for interviews etc., while the credit crunch has not helped either.Western ladies who were once permanent residents have been persecuted and ignored so much that they have had to leave the ashram and even relinquish their apartments (always without a cent of recompense, also despite however much money they may have invested in making them livable). The Sathya Sai airport – a white elephant from the start – has been on the market for a long time but not been sold despite attempts to offload it with diverse sweeteners in the form of a large tract of extra land for property development.The State authorities pump in money and services to make Puttaparthi a tourist centre, which has attracted a large number of low-class Indian ‘spiritual holidaymakers’. mostly apparently hoping to benefit materially and/or socially from a visit.
The pleading faces and begging postures of many devotees at darsan – not least Westerners and a number of the selected VIPs – 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 and often self-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’.
The foreigners who live long-term or permanently at Sai Baba ashrams develop an almost visible ‘residential patina’ that seems to serve as protection against all the abrasions and scours that they receive regularly from the native powers-that-be, from most of the ashram staff, from members of the ‘Seva Dal’, from other competitive residents and visitors and from the inevitable low caste workers and corrupt hangers-on of all kinds. Particularly vintage ashram ladies have this tough veneer, along with carefully adopted Indian traits like perfect use of saris, wiliness in learning short-cuts to privileges and condescending attitudes towards newcomers. I have never seen or heard of more than an exceptional few of these people doing anything except take care of their own quotidian affairs… no service work, no proper study or self-discipline… just following the routines, always knowing how to ‘cut corners’ and generally get ahead of others.
Please go to the Public Petition for Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization