Sathya Sai’s letters to his elder sister put in context
Posted by robertpriddy on February 3, 2016
he ‘handwritten letters’ of sb are totally mundane. I skimmed through some of them just now and noticed that even when he was mentioning ‘Tamil New Year’, instead of discoursing or even putting in a sentence or two of the spiritual aspects, all he could think to write was ‘all the shops are closed and that’s why we haven’t gotten our luggage yet’!
‘Garu’ means ‘revered, respected’ and it is a word like the Hindi ‘ji’ which is tacked onto the ends of names when we address elders, VIPs, etc.
Calling oneself “Garu” is totally pretentious and unheard of (mostly – perhaps sb did it as he was a complete narcissist?). I would say that the letters ending in ‘Baba Garu’ were dictated to someone else and the person writing them put Garu because they couldn’t bear to sign just ‘Baba’. Signing letters ‘Asheesulu’ (Blessings) and ‘Itlu’ (Thus), or just with one’s name, is common for all Telugu speakers (with ‘Blessings’ being reserved for those younger or lower status).
Venkamma could write her own letters, but like car-driving , food shopping, and so many other things in India, even though one may know how to do it, one will try to find someone else willing to do it. So on the rare occasions Venkamma had to write a letter, she would try to find someone else to do it (even me, sometimes!) as she dictated the contents, and I am sure sb did the same thing. They didn’t exactly have a lot of creative writing practice and were not comfortable with it.
Another thing: a wide berth was given by the one who dictates the contents, and the (usually educated) one who writes it all down. When I was the scribe for Mataji Jnaneswari when I was staying at Shanti Ashram in East Godavari District for seven years, she would dictate a paragraph in Telugu which was mixed up, awkward, and struggled to make clear sense. Then she would chuckle and say, “Write it so it makes sense and sounds good!” (Come to think of it, Venkamma did the same!)
I’m quite sure that, like Anil Kumar’s and the published translations of sb’s discourses, a fair number of ‘sb’s handwritten letters’ out there, especially the brilliantly composed ones, only have a skeleton of his original thought. (Telugu speakers from villages like I’ve known, are also loath to write anything of substance so their written letters are generally short and to the point – so the letters complaining about cheating laborers might be straight from sb’s pen, haha!)
As for sb’s ‘real’ handwriting, it would take a comparison of handwritten letters over the course of decades and my guess would be, the writing that looks almost the same throughout a 50-60 year period, is his. As we all know, sb’s personal assistants changed every few years. From the online sample, anyone could tell the writing styles are wildly different depending upon where he was staying so obviously they are not all his.
I took the photo of Venkamma on the bottom of page 67. My friend Vidya (Lynn Wyle) got her best pal, Maynard Ferguson’s wife Flo, to lend me her camera for two days, when I took a lot of pics. That photo album of all of those pics was stolen by her grandsons from my personal suitcase in Venkamma’s room, when I was in the hospital during her last illness. Later I paid a visit to her grandson Subrahmanyam’s house, and took back a few of those photos. I felt it was their family so I didn’t take all or even many of them, and there was no cheap method to make copies in those days. Subri claimed the negatives were lost. (Another one in the series is attached, the one that I took instead of the one of her smiling in the online book. She was saying, “What are you taking my picture for, you kothi munda? (translating literally as “monkey-widow!” – an insult?)
by Eileen Weed (‘Divya’)
The accounts by Eileen Weed must be regarded as the ONLY fully frank and honest insider account of Sai Baba’s sisters and how their brother related to them. Her indisputable insights are recorded in her extensive collection of own letters through decades living in the ashram as the only non-Indian Telugu speaker. Her credibility is 100% and her privileged access undisputed. This article is a further illumination of the information she provided in
Sai Baba’s letters to his sister Venkamma
These letters were posted by the Muddenahalli ‘oracle boy’ group. They also wrote:-
“The latest efforts of the Sai Love Team from Puttaparthi is Bhagavan’s Handwritten Letters. It’s a draft for an e-book and paperback book. These are 50 letters from the 1940s to 1960s. https://gallery.mailchimp.com/72d97e32d741a4b68382758b7/files/Bhagavans_Handwritten_Letters_Draft_for_E_Book.pdf