Hindu-nationalism is the dominant tendency in India, which represents the aspiration of the majority population of Hindus. Though it arose as a movement for independence from British rule, nationalism is an ethnically and religiously rooted phenomenon, not least since India is divided into castes according to the Hindu (as opposed to Islamic) tradition. The Hindu majority consists in 81% and the Muslim minority in 13%, which figures alone show that – even though officially a secular state – Indian is overwhelmingly Hindu in its outlook and is always ruled by the Hindu majority.
Sathya Sai Baba always allied himself to the current government which, despite his misgivings about its failure to unite Indians and various other policies and practises, was in reality less of the much proclaimed secular power than a Hindu-dominated elite, especially when the rightist Hindu Bharaitiya Janata Party was voted into power. Sai Baba was evidently involved in the nomination of Prime Minister Atal Vajpayee, his long-standing devotee, rather than the leader of the party and actual election-winner, L.K. Advani, who was shuffled aside, in accordance with what Sai Baba reportedly told him beforehand. Though claiming to be the very God to whom Gandhi prayed, Sathya Sai Baba nonetheless tried to bask in Gandhi’s reflected light, holding his life up as a precursor for Indians to follow. (Sai Baba even stole Gandhi’s statements as if they were his own, eg. ’My Life is My Message’) Even more than Gandhi, Sathya Sai Baba constantly harped back on India’s former greatness in many backward-looking Hindu-nationalistic discourses meant for Indians at home and abroad. He made many rash predictions about the return of that former glory:-
“Very soon, the entire world will be united. In fact, after 28 years, the world itself will become “Bharat”. Everyone will call themself a Bharatiya (one imbued with godliness — ‘Bhagavat rathas’). No one will refer to themself as belonging to this state or that state, this region or that region.” (Sathya Sai Baba’s Convocation Discourse 22-11-2008) See http://www.sathyasai.org/discour/2008/d081122.html)
Here is one example of Sai Baba’s anachronistic yearnings and his claim to be transforming India back to its lost glory, which he repeatedly prophesied would soon happen:-
“Every one of you ought of feel proud that you took birth in this holy land, long famous as the land of Yoga (divine communion), of Thyaaga (selfless sacrifice) and of God-oriented Karma (dedicated action). You are the children of Mother Vedha, whom she loves so affectionately that she has called you here to witness this great Vedhic Yajna. Bhaarath is the land that God loves, for, He has taken Avathaar (divine incarnation) here often, and is even now moving on this land, carrying out His Mission of restoring Dharma (righteousness) to people who are ignoring it. Yajna (Vedhic (ritual of sacrifice) is an item in that great Task.” (Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. 12 Chapter 46).
Firstly, this overlooks the rejection of the Hindu doctrines by a large proportion of those born as Indians who chose to become Muslim, and not least the Dalits, whose famous spokesmen like B. S. Ambekar and P-L- Mimroth have made most clear that they totally reject Gandhi’s naming them ‘harijans’ (Children of God) as “derogatory and insulting” (see The Hindu)
In Sathya Sai Baba’s typically unrealistic speech in March 1999, in New Delhi, he gave advice for the unification of India and praised the leader of the right-of-centre Hindu party, Vajpayee, to the skies. “My advice is that all parties should unite. Only then Bharat will become a divine land. Very soon this is going to happen. The present-day administration is noble and good.” (see lower part of scan on right)
In view of the state of intense enmity between the main contenders for power in India, he contradicted himself by flattering the then Prime Minister (his foot-worshipping Hindu devotee for over 20 years): “All of you know what a nice person Vajpayee is. Even in olden days whenever Vajpayee or Jayaprakash Narayan would visit Andhra Pradesh, people, especially the youth, used to gather in large numbers to listen to their speeches. Naturally, the people are attracted to those who adhere to truth and righteousness. Such a leader should be given all support. I have been observing Vajpayee for the last so many years. Now this body is seventy-four years old. Vajpayee always keeps the welfare of the society in mind in whatever he speaks or does. He is broadminded. There will certainly be peace and security in the country if these principles are followed.”
Already in 2002, Human Rights Watch wrote how: “The increasing domination of Hindu nationalism in India’s current political landscape has dramatically undermined India’s constitutional commitment to secular democracy. The policies espoused by India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its sister organizations, collectively known as the sangh parivar, have already resulted in much violence against the country’s Christian, Muslim, and Dalit (“untouchable”) populations.”
Sathya Sai Baba said many vague supportive things about other religions in his aim to convince that he was universal, not sectarian or divisive in attitude but ‘universal’ (but not supported by the facts). but in actual practise he constantly assumed the superiority of Hindu scripture, Hindu religion and ritual (the Hindu yagna prayers and offerings rituals were seen by him as the be-all-and-end-all cure for all ills of the world!). Hindu politicians, the Hindu caste system and so on. He was actually very ignorant of the scriptures of other religions and their history (as has been shown at length from his own words).
The ultra-nationalism of Sai Baba – entirely based only on Hindu religious sources – came to expression in numerous connection. One early such was:-
“Countries are like carriages. The engine is God. The first carriage is India. The other carriages will follow. According to the astrology of ancient times, the change in world conditions to be brought by Swami’s influence will come in about 15 years). This was predicted 5600 years ago in the Upanishads.” (This conversation was in December 1968 ( J. Hislop, Conversations with Bhagavan Sathya Sai Baba. ch.XXXIV, p.111)
Yet more extremist and even more absurd than his many other unfulfilled predictions for India was what he told the Hindu Nationalist leader Ashok Singhal in 2008 as reported here:-
“The VHP leader, while disclosing his discussion with Satya Sai Baba, said that Sai Baba had informed him that between 2020 and 2030 the whole India would be of Hindus and after 2030 the whole world would be of Hindus.” (SEE THUMBNAIL ON RIGHT)
This fanciful-fanatical Hindu-nationalist statement was made to the leader of the right-wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad party which was behind the Ayodhyas mosque demolition. It is almost a fitting epitaph on Sathya Sai Baba’s incredibility (‘Bharat’ means ‘India’, especially as it was in ancient times). With it one can say he exceeded even the world ambitions of Islamic Sharia-law radicals in that! Unfortunately, perhaps, he died without ever seeing any of his predictions about the unity of India coming even remotely true, rather to the contrary. Nor has India moved back towards the ancient ruler king model or the gurukula educational system, for which most Indians can feel everlastingly grateful. That his own students would rule India was also a prophesy that are now among the list of ‘Sai Baba Howlers’, not forgetting that he himself was prophesied by some to have to rule the world for a brief period before his death!