Former International Chairman of the Sathya Sai Organization, Indulal Shah wrote while soliciting for money to build the Chaitanya Jyothi Museum in Prashanthi Nilayam,
“As regards the final cost it cannot be ascertained now fully since it will depend on the international world quality which will have to be maintained for such a monument by the Overseas Devotees. However, the estimated cost was placed at $US5 million.” [See letter to all Central Coordinators here]
Under the leadership of the Chairman, B.G. and T.M., it was noted in the minutes of the meeting of NCs of zone 4: “Monument. Most, yet not all, of the persons present feel that it may not be the right idea to install a monument like this. Rather we think that our transformation is the monument for Swami – inside, not outside. To make better use of the time, money and energy, these participants suggest to concentrate these resources on the new hospital in Bangalore….
The devotees in zone 4 will be informed of the proposed monument and be invited to contribute on the personal level. T. and B. are asked to forward these thoughts to the Central Office.”
But the next circular states: “…we do indeed suggest that each NC in his/her capacity of chairperson of the legally registered Organisation or Trust evaluates the possibilities … If there are potential and positive donors, whom you believe would be pleased to donate the sum of minimum $1000.- then approach them discreetly and explain about this magnificent building that will be there for future generations to illustrate the Avatar, His teachings, His accomplishments and His Organisation.”
The ‘Chaitanya Jyothi’ is a grand mix of Chinese, Gothic, Moorish and other architecture, with a symbolic number of 7 floors, was opened on Sai Baba’s 75th birthday in 2000 to house yet more exhibits depicting his life, mission and message and ‘glory’. I have been advised by a correspondent that,
“To understand how the Sai Org. functions we should not underestimate its financial part – Sathya Sai Central Trust. This is the body which accumulates all funds. But the information is very scarce. I haven’t seen any document about (i) when it was established, (ii) rules and regulations of its work, (iii) its relations with the Sai Org., (iv) people who run it.”
In this connection, I quote one piece of typical material from the same letter from I. Shah as above, to Overseas Coordinators on how to obtain donations from devotees:
“Overseas coordinators finally approved the following methods:
1) To organise 100 donors for accommodation in Building No. 8 and 9 and for which each coordinator gave their quota for the region which they will fulfil before March 2000. Dr. Goldstein was requested to be in charge for follow up with the Coordinators in this regard.
2) Letters to be written to the Bond Holders by respective Chairmen of the Zone. It was also decided that Bro. Hira should be in-charge of all follow up on this matter.
3) It was suggested that we should not solicit any donation by way of appeal or writing letters or making any announcements, but that the coordinators in their personal capacity should get in touch with known personalities/Sai Devotees and talk about this project to meet with the minimum target of US$50,000- per region which was supposed to be remitted in two instalments viz. before 4th March and 6th May 2000. The simple calculation was to select 50 persons and request for US$ 1,000 from each. To meet this requirement, 50 devotees may be selected from the whole Region. Perhaps it may not be necessary to reach out to all the 50 since the requirement from a particular region could be fulfilled by just a few devotees. However, if any region can contribute more than US$ 50,000- it is welcome, to offset any shortfall from smaller region.”
Concerning the above letter, the President of the Moscow Centre at the time, Serguei Badaev, wrote: I would like to share a case when at the meeting of the coordinators in Germany (it was probably the year before the construction of a new museum of Spiritual Heritage in PN started) Thorbjørn Meyer read aloud a letter from I. Shah to the audience. The letter stated that funds were necessary for the construction of a new museum in PN and they should be supplied by the world zones of the Sai Org. according to special quotas. For the world zone 4 (Northern Europe) it was stated as US$50 000- T. Meyer was reading a letter as if it was a complete surprise for him. He shrugged his shoulders and expressed his doubts that the world zone 4 including such poor countries as Russia and the countries of Eastern Europe could manage to contribute such amount. He suggested to look for some rich sponsors in Western Europe countries inside the zone and not to bother Eastern block with this matter. This implies at least two points. First, T. Meyer didn’t take part in making the decision to build a new museum (unless it is a political game for public). Second, some schemes should exist to approach potential donors for fund contributions to the Sai Org. projects.
See also Sathya Sai Baba: opulence, show, extravagance and waste
Please go to the Public Petition for Official Investigations of Sathya (or Satya) Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization