You are waiting for your exam at the bus stand. The time is running fast and you are getting late to the exam. And your friend coming on a bike and asks you to come with him to the exam. What do you say?
“Man! You are God! It is because of you I am going to exam on time.”
India Vs Pakistan Match….Last over…Indianeeds 13 runs to win. Sachin on strike. Everyone watching the match in front of the idiot boxes or in the ground prays for Sachin to hit the 13 runs. Finally, under hell lot of pressure and excitement, he hits those runs and there are celebrations inIndia. We hail Sachin as God. We say he is the God of cricket!!
You might have faced these situation many times. If you look at them deeply, in the scene1, the person at the bus stand refers to his friend as God. Why? For a simple reason, he comes to his help at the right time. In the scene2, the Indians treat Sachin as God of cricket. Why? Because he performs a match-winning innings makingIndiawin the match.
So, in the two scenes, there is a personification of man as God. Generalizing it, anyone who comes to the rescue of us is treated as God for that moment. Agreed? If not, you are just bluffing yourself. And that personification of man as God ranges from that moment to time unknown. In the two scenes, the friend in the scene1 is treated as God for that moment and in the scene2, Sachin is personified as God for a larger time, may be time unknown for that matter because of his contribution to game of cricket.
Coming to the point, there was, is and will be a never ending debate on the status of Sri Satya Sai Baba as “God”. Let me put forward a few points regarding it.
To start with, Indiais the land of spirituality, a land which gave birth to religion on Earth. As basically Hindus, Indians have a large number of Gods to pray as against any other religion. And in addition to them, there were various Swami’s who also add to this list, for example Sri Sankaracharya. Down the time line, the meaning to the “Swami” has changed with the advent of people, who in the mask of Swami started to fulfill their personal desires or whatever name you want to give to that.
In such a period where Swami meaning has completely changed and people started to have a general feeling of “persons who want to gain smart money through people’s emotional attachment to God”. In this period was where Sri Satya Sai Baba was born in a remote village named Puttaparthi in one of the poorest districts of India, Anantapur in the year 23rd Nov, 1926. His real name was Satya Narayana Raju. It is said that he got enlightened in the year 1940 under the tree and he named himself to Sri Satya Sai Baba. And from then started was his “Seva” to the people around him.
If you just look at the other contemporary Swamiji’s of his time, you can find vast differences not only in his life style but also his “Seva” programs.
Firstly, the only difference between a man and an animal is the ability of man to study and gain knowledge to fine tune oneself. And this made the great man to start Sri Satya Sai Educational Institutions. He started a deemed university in the town of Puttaparthi and the metro Bangalore to provide educational right from first standard to Graduation courses. And that too for FREE!!! Absolutely free!! Satya Sai Mahila Kalasala in Anantapur and Satya Sai Sangeetha Kalasala in Puttaparthi were also established in due time. They do not even charge a single paisa from you. His philosophy that man will reach greater heights and fulfill the ‘dharma’ through proper education made up set up a world class deemed university where thousands of students study every year. If he is to gain something in the mask of being a Swami, why should he do this? Ok! In case, he does this for attention. Then, Why for FREE? What gain is he going to get? If gaining popularity is the only aim of his, then he would have chosen some other way where he could save money instead of spending hundreds of crores.
Secondly, He started a hospital facility (no fee) in the year 1954 itself in the villageof Puttaparthi. And this eventually grew into Sri Sathya Sai Super Specialty hospital (1991) of world class infrastructure having 220 beds inpatient ward with treatment to almost all the diseases by highly qualified specialists for FREE. Right from the medicines to operation, consultation to counseling, everything is FREE. Another such hospital was built in Bangalore in 2001. In case, as many say that he looted people’s money, why should he build these hospitals? Why should he spend hundreds of crores of rupees in medi-care for absolutely NO GAINS?
Thirdly, you may have education and good health. Nevertheless, can you survive to gain these without water? No way! You can live without food for days, but not a single day without water. And the conditions in the land once ruled by the Great King Sri Krishna Deva Raya, Rayalaseema was none oter than this. People used to travel long distances, sometimes tens of kilometers, just for a bucket full of water. Anantapur was the driest district in India, next to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. And Puttaparthi is a part of this. Baba decided to supply drinking water to the entire Rayalaseema region. He started off this program with the construction of reservoir in Anantapur in 1995 that is still the source of water for the entire town. He went on to provide water facility to 750 villages in Anantapur district alone, 179 in Medak and 141 in Mehaboob nagar district. He constructed thousands of water tanks in the fluoride-affected areas of Andhra Pradesh. He also contributed hundreds of crores for constructions of canals in East Godavari and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh. He contributed 300 crores for the TeluguGanaga canal project, intended for supplying drinking water to entire Chennai. These are only a minor part of his water Seva program.
These are not exaggerations. I personally visited the reservoir near Anantapur, two months back. The reservoir is intended to supply drinking water facility for 35 villages near Anantapur. On enquiring about the maintenance and funds for it, the details they revealed shocked me. Sri Satya Sai Central Trust maintains the reservoir and all the personnel working there were recruited by the trust and their wages were given by the same. The fund for the maintenance works is also borne by the trust. I asked them about the Govt’s role in maintaining it. They said that the Govt didn’t take the reservoirs constructed by the trust under their control as it was very difficult to maintain hundreds of reservoirs and to give wages for the personnel working in them. The trust also built 699 homes in the flood-affected areas in Orissa in the year 2009.
Not only in India, his free education and medi-care also reached countries like Australia, Japan, UK , Latin America totaling to 33 countries. His trust has activities in 133 countries and he has devotees in and around 181 countries. His trust’s funds and assets range up to 1.32 lakhs of crores – the largest by any other trust in the world. And it is the trust with the record high spending for the public – highest by any other trust in the world. His trust assets can clear all the debts India has till date. Trust’s annual budget is on par with the Annual budget ofIndia. Recognizing his Seva to the mankind, Government of India honored him by releasing a postal stamp in the year 1999. One thing I can confidently say is that there was and is no one who has done such service on a large scale like this. Spreading the spirituality and serving the society.
Of course, there are few controversies surrounding him, to name like the ‘Vibudi’ creation, bringing out Saligramam from his mouth, the murders in his ashram or the “Baba-A Gay?” issue. People throw stones at the trees having fruits. Why would they throw at a dry tree? Same is the case here. May be some of them are true or maybe he may not be aware of the developments taking place around him.
Whatever it is, I am not concerned about the controversies. What I take from him is the inspiration of service to humanity and the spread of love. As our elders say, there is good and bad about everything in this world. It all depends on YOU, whether you chose the positive one or the negative one. The choice is yours. However, one request to all, please don’t make comments without any prior knowledge about the issue or the topic.
Finally, one last thing, I am neither his follower nor devotee. I am just neutral towards him, giving you a view, probably a briefing about his activities.
Long live Sri Satya Sai Baba’s inspiration, service and his messages!!!
P.S. He may not be there physically, but his service and inspirations will stay forever. However, the only concern now is the utilization of the money in the proper direction as per Baba’s message.