I write this epistle honestly from my heart without the intrusion of my head which I know can sometimes be insensitive and stupid. So speaking the heart out so to speak is one of the many ways to be truthful and transparent without the inhibitions dictated or influenced by intellect. And I do so now with a very heavy heart and deep mental anguish that cannot be mended easily. Sri Sathya Sai Baba has chosen to leave his body behind and so his physical absence is certainly an unparalleled void for many ordinary mortals who believe in His mission of serving humanity.
Swami has been my mentor and mender and I am among the many people who have had the privilege of private moments with Him. My activities for the past more than six years, after I decided to reduce the pace of my professional career, are fuelled and fired by His mission in the field of education, medical care and rural employment. There are several people who I know have taken His mission seriously and are doing sincere work to contribute their little mite to improve the living conditions of the poor and neglected citizens of this country. It is rash and reckless behavior on the part a few irresponsible people to malign the life work of a gigantic and benign social worker of the stature of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, without even trying to understand the length, breadth and depth of His social interventions. It is also sad that many are unwilling to openly challenge the calumny leveled against Him and the Trust He created. Many of the people who I have spoken to are indeed very unhappy and some even feel miserable when the institution that He built is at the centre of avoidable controversies. But many of them are unwilling to openly come out and give voice to their feelings for fear of losing social approbation.
Many people are afraid to contaminate their careers with ideas that do not have a scientific basis. I was not an exception. Young as I was then in the seventies, it was very difficult for me to accept and fully understand the ramification of Swami’s philosophies and teachings. People around me then who expounded theories about Swami’s paranormal abilities were trying in vain to convince my mind about the extraordinary feats of Swami to manifest material objects out of thin air and perform miracles. Frankly, I was not really thrilled or attracted with such abilities. Later I have had occasions to see Him at close quarters materializing objects to make his devotees happy. But to be in His presence, I slowly discovered, after several years of demystification, even for a little while was enough to charge your batteries for a longtime. Those were days when I was listening to Swami Ranganathananda of the Ramakrishna Mission. The real understanding of the difference between religion and spirituality came much later in my life after I met and continuously listened to Swami Ranganathananda for years. His flair, style, technique and approach were significantly different from Sri Sathya Sai Baba. His passing away in 2005 left a great void in me. The Ramakrishna Mission is a great institution and is not mired in any controversies. Why? Because I feel the individuals who manage the affairs of the movement do not seek personal glory.
I was fortunate to come into Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s fold while I was a young man in my twenties and a student at that time pursuing my chartered accountancy course in the 1970s. So I write this with some experience, understanding, misunderstanding, doubts, beliefs and feelings accumulated for over the past 35 long years during which time, Swami slowly but surely paved the way for transforming my life and the way I look at everything, eventually leading me to some wonderful and action oriented human beings with whom I have the privilege to work with. Sri Sathya Sai Baba fostered action, meaningful action, in people who were rudderless. He kindled individual social responsibility in the minds of people who had the skill and the will to execute social projects. Any corporate social responsibility (CSR) program can deliver if and only if it is driven by individuals who have a sense of social responsibility. And He took a keen interest in such small endeavors of people to bring meaningful changes in the lives of the oppressed and the exploited lot. His ability to dwell deep into details to ensure that a project is on track and is delivering the desired results is something that only people who have had the privilege to work closely with Him can cherish. His movement and the social assets He developed are not capable of monetary measurements.
And now that He is physically away and unable to speak, mischievous people let the cat among the pigeons. None of these elements would have had the nerve to foist such finger pointing to bring discredit to Him and his movement when He was alive. A Trustee of an institution is an individual. One must not underestimate his capacity to destroy the reputation of a large organization by his sheer inability and naïveté to manage affairs when the going gets tough. The Sri Sathya Sai Trust is built and nurtured over decades by millions of honest, faithful and responsible people around the world led by a colossal spiritual GURU.
The Central Trust has issued a Press Release dated 29th June 11 which when I read seems like fighting an inferno with small fire buckets filled with sand. Today’s editorial piece on the opinion page of the Business Standard (3rd July 2011), on the other hand, is indeed very bold, relevant and timely. It has the title Institutions Vs Individuals. Its subtitle is Good Leadership Desirable and Good Institutions necessary. Incidentally there is a reference to the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust in that editorial piece.