Puttaparthi not what it was with ‘heart ripped out’
Posted by robertpriddy on July 4, 2011
Alas for Puttaparthi, despite all, as First Post Economy posts the headline “Puttaparthi cancelled? Sai Baba’s death tests a town’s faith.” It is all the poorer inhabitants suffer first and most, most of their livelihoods having been totally dependent on the popularity of Sathya Sai Baba, which has waned and waned in recent weeks as the one ugly truth after the other has emerged in such irrefutable ways as to convince even devotees that their faith was misplaced. Many villagers knew about diverse dark, criminal incidents connected to Sathya Sai Baba and/or his institutions and had faith almost only in the economic benefits his presence generated for them, but none dare speak out But for once, when there was a big demonstration against the Sai Central Trust when one of their number who was a student at the Sai College was found murdered and his body burnt. For such reasons – and because the “nerve-centre” of its existence, namely darshan, can never come again – one can’t imagine anything like the same influx of followers for festivals. The may be a last effort made for Guru Poornima this year, but foreign visitors will surely be very few and less and less in years to come.
That Puttaparthi could become like Shirdi, which is flourishing, is considered unlikely too since the image of Sathya has been so badly tarnished by so many scandals of such a kind that Shirdi Sai was never remotely involved in: murders, sex abuses, suicides, huge financial irregularities and hoarding of consumer goods! There will, however, always be true believers in denial of any facts, however clear, that detract from their imagined God Almighty, but those who were able to take a step back and see things in a longer and more insightful perspective knew that this downfall was to come, that the battles between corrupt Sai officials (who were in plenty) would cause turmoil and disgrace. No tears should be lost over the property speculators, big hoteliers, and smart investors in tourist shops, clinics and the like any more than over the brothel owners. It is the fruit and vegetable sellers, the flower ladies, the maimed street beggars and struggling small stall-holders who face poverty, but will the super-rich Sathya Sai Central Trust will be giving them any handouts?