Sai Baba’s Ladies Day, 2014
Posted by robertpriddy on November 19, 2014
Here are some of Sai Baba’s views about what is essential to women
“How To Celebrate Ladies’ Day? The Ladies’ Day should not be observed only by making speeches or holding Bhajans. They should endeavour to help the poor and the destitute. Helpless women who have no means of livelihood should be taught some occupations like tailoring to enable them to earn an income. Slum dwellers should be helped to keep their huts clean. The environment also should be cleaned to help the children grow in a pure atmosphere. Proper housekeeping should also be taught to those people.” ( Baba, SS. 6/96, p. 160)
But Sai Baba himself help speeches and conducted bhajans (or accepted worship during darsans) and did no other real work in serving others, which he constantly pressed others to do in his name. All the hard service was done for his personal existence or to extol his name! Once he got his own ashram, he never went near anything like slum dwellers or gave them a helping hand, even symbolically.
“Bhagavan then delivered His discourse, in the course of which. He extolled the role of mother as the moulder of the family and the first teacher for children. In the evening, there was a cultural programme entitled ‘Naari Shakti’ (The power of women), which highlighted the glory of Indian womanhood as revealed in the story of Savitri, who brought back her husband from the Lord of death. ” (Editor Sanathana Sarathi 12/96. pp. 328 & 329).
The above shows how Sai Baba uses absurdly impossible myths to instil outworn and discredited Hindu ideas about women. His heroic holy women are, in the society he encouraged, are still to be mainly tied to the cooker and the kitchen sink, as reflected in his praise of what Russian women do (with the reward: a bit of ‘free time’ one day in the year):-
“Women should realise that, irrespective of their education or position, their foremost obligation is to protect the home. For lakhs of students and children who go to school, the mother is the first teacher. From the moment of birth, for every one the mother is the preceptor. If such a teacher leaves her home to teach other children, who will teach her children? For Indian (Bharatiya) women, the first duty is to reform the home and run it along ideal lines! The home and the family is the basic social institution everywhere in the world. When the home improves, the whole world will be better.” Sai Baba at Prashanthi Nilayam on Ladies day – 19/10/1996. (Sanathana Sarathi, Dec. 1996, p. 334)
It is absurd that each woman should teach only her own children and not become school teachers too. Fortunately, there are also women who are unmarried or whose children have grown up who become school teachers. The faulty assumption Sathya Sai Baba implies he has made in the above, however, is that it is due to the negligence of the home by women that the whole world has become as it is… and we know how Sai Baba sees the world through extremely jaundiced eyes as a place where unrighteousness rules and almost everything is wrong. He puts the burden of the home and the family on women, and the burden of the world on them, just as men have done throughout most of history! His belief is wholly untenable, of course, a prejudice of bygone ages. However, he bemoaned the fact that women are empowered to work outside the home and earn.
Again, he harped back to the past he wanted to revive:-
“Rama told Bharata that he should not permit women to take part in affairs of state. Women have their estimable role in household affairs, but they should be kept out of state politics. “Don`t employ women as ministers. The reason is: a nation’s honour is based upon its women. It is only when women maintain their respect and honour that the nation will be respected. It is not proper for women to cheapen themselves by roaming in public places.” and…“How does the situation in the country today compare with Rama’s conception of an ideal government? The state of things today is 100% contrary to the ideas and ideals of Rama. How, then, can Rama Rajya be established here? If we desire to establish Rama Rajya there should be harmony in thought, word and deed… “ etc. . (Sanathana Sarathi, May 1995, p. 118).
Sai Baba seemed to dither back and forth between the tradition he knows from Indian village life and the more modern approach many of his middle-class Indian ladies and most foreign devotees now hold. Women must in effect do two jobs if need be:- “A lady must look after the home first and then work outside, if necessary… she can study to get degrees, enter politics or do any other work but she should not neglect the home, which is the very foundation of her life.” (Sanathana Sarathi, Dec. 1997, p. 327-8).
No need to stick to the same opinion at all, so Sai Baba changes tack to:-
“…in the modern world, it is necessary for the women to share the burden of maintaining the family with their husbands and so the women should also pursue studies as much as possible and take up suitable jobs to share the burden of the family. It will smack of selfishness if the males prevent them from going to work for which they have acquired the requisite qualifications. Women can control the whole world for themselves by virtue of their inherent qualities of love and spirit of sacrifice.” (Sai Baba in a discourse, 19/4/1999 at Kodaikanal. Sanathana Sarathi, July 1998, p. 172)
So now we see that Rama – whose view on women is praised inordinately by Sai Baba – must have been seriously wrong, after all:-
“It will not be out of place to mention here that women who have wielded power in Bharat or other countries have proved themselves to be exceptionally able and successful. There have been many kings of Britain but no one ruled the country so well as Queen Victoria. Her rule was marked by righteousness, prosperity and efficiency. There was no discontent during her reign. In more recent times, Indira Gandhi ran the Government with courage and consummate skill. She was prepared for any sacrifice in the interests of her country.” (see Sanathana Sarathi, Nov.-Dec.1995, p. 293).
Indeed, his historical knowledge was so superficial and faulty. Queen Victoria withdrew for decades from all normal duties as a sovereign for decades and was not seen by the public, mourning her dead Prince Albert and causing huge constitutional problems due to her disinterest, wallowing in grief and comfortable seclusion. So there was no discontent during her reign? Not under the horrendous conditions in the British lower classes during the Industrial Revolution? Her reign was not untroubled at all… it was a time of imperial expansion, exploitation of the poor and foreign lands, and gunboat diplomacy. Queen Elizabeth I was a far better ruler, and Elizabeth II is unparalleled as a woman head of state anywhere in the world or its history.
Comment: Srikanthuppuluri said (December 19, 2014) Sai Baba wasn’t just any fool. We must remember he had to manage and hold his staff together. One only needs to understand from where these contradictory messages were coming… for his speeches were often situational….many included messages for specific people and staff in the audience and these messages were interspersed in his discourses.
His own institutions had numerous working women – and some had been divorced (thanks to his ‘Divine grace’).
For e.g. he would harp back to the days of Rama and claim that he was the Rama of today and was here to establish Rama Rajya. But, on his ‘ladies day’, he was forced to rationalise away the treatment of women and their plight in those days. At the same time, he would quickly add clarifications, so that the lady staff did not leave or quit quoting and working for ‘His Highness’.
Not to do so would have been disastrous for his organization. So in many discourses he praised women to the sky for their work, since women were the ones who conducted bhajans, took care of the Sai children, handles lady visitors to the ashram and did all the other donkey work without a complaint.