Monday, September 26, 2016

Divine Glory of Prasanthi Nilayam, Sathya Sai Avatar's abode, just as powerful as before

Last updated on 27th Sept. 2016

A correspondent from a foreign country (not India) wrote the following to me over email (slightly edited; correspondent was OK with public sharing):

--Name-snipped-- claims that Prashanti Nilayam is losing its glory. What does he base this on? When did he last come to Prashanti Nilayam? What facts did he observe that led him to this conclusion?

I’ve been to Prashanti Nilayam more recently than --name-snipped-- and found the Divine Glory of the Avatar’s abode just as powerful as when Swami was physically present. Not only that, when our youth went for the World Youth Festival they came back filled with stories of Swami’s miracles which they experienced in Prashanti Nilayam, including having His darshan. Yet --name-snipped-- and his ‘friends’ and ‘sources’ in Puttaparthi see only human dramas and politicking. How sad for them. To be in the holiest place on earth and utterly waste that rare and Divinely granted opportunity. Swami said that the world is only reaction, reflection and resound. Whatever is within you, that is what you will see in the world.
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Some comments from my Facebook post,
https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/1795131537370082, having the same content as above, are given below:

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: "Swami said that the world is only reaction, reflection and resound. Whatever is within you, that is what you will see in the world." - Perfect Sathya Sai words of wisdom for this matter, in my considered opinion.
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Venkat Reddy wrote: I was in Prashanthi Nilayam in Jan-Feb and was inspired beyond words. i tried to put my experiences and insights into words to share with friends but i still couldn't quite communicate the feeling.

The only way i could was to return there myself with my family. Which i did. Only to have my treasure trove of memories and experiences spill over, yet again.

Prashanthi Nilayam, above and beyond all places on earth, remains my Divine Mother's Home. The reach of Her Love and all enveloping presence at Prashanthi Nilayam has to be experienced, not debated. Like Swami. Om Sai Ram
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Wonderful words, bro. Venkat Reddy. Thanks for sharing.
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Sairam Vr Ganti sir. Thank you for liking this post. I appreciate such support from you, sir, for Prasanthi Nilayam, the Holy Abode of Shiva-Shakti Swarupa, Kali Yuga Avatar, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi.
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Vr Ganti wrote (edited): Ravi S. Iyer Do you think I dont love SWAMI? Are you saying that I dont know about SWAMI? Or do you think that I am doing something against SWAMI?
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Sairam Vr Ganti sir, have I ever questioned your love for Swami? Show me one comment/post of mine where I have done that.
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Vr Ganti sir, My disagreement with you is about your approach to help Prasanthi Nilayam. What you view as helping Prasanthi Nilayam is being viewed by some as hurting Prasanthi Nilayam. I do not want to debate this point more with you, sir, as it will become an emotional issue. I just wanted you to be aware that this is how some Prasanthi Nilayam and Puttaparthi supporters feel.
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Mahabaleshwar Ip wrote: to b frank i see only good things happening in PN, more and more people r coming, more and more activities(sometimes i use to think better than whn Swamy was in physical Form), our elders are doing their best to retain the sanctity and the regular activities in the abode, we should help them in the same mentality.....one very important thing we should never forget that The Lord created this wonderful Land Called Prasanthi Nilayam, sure it wll grant peace and harmony to the Humanity, whn God Himself created this He wll take care of everything let's not doubt in this, let's only follow His teachings atleast 1%, that's enough, whn we think we r doing, we r controlling, we r leading - leads to more problems.....HE is the Doer, controller and everything, let's not fall in the Maya He created, instead let's Hold on to His Divine Feet....pl stop complaining, Parthi is as beautiful and as Peaceful as before, Welcome to your Mother's Home......Sairam
[The pic below was attached to above comment]

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Mahabaleshwar Ip wrote: Sairam Ravi Bro., pl forgive me if iam Wrong.......... ................. Find the sweetness in your own heart, then you may find the sweetness in every heart.

~ Rumi
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Sairam and thanks for your supportive comments, brother Mahabaleshwar Ip.
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An elder told me that everybody in Muddenahalli DOES NOT do Sashtanga Namaskar to Narasimhamurthy sir


Firstly, I am NOT a supporter of Muddenahalli group. I publicly write that belief in so called communicator, Madhusudan Rao Naidu, is a FALSE BELIEF, and write against the SERIOUS DIVISIVE THREAT Muddenahalli group has become for Sathya Sai movement worldwide.

However, I would like to keep a balanced and truthful stand, and so am putting up this post. Today I had a meeting and conversation with an elder who interacts with Shri B.N. Narasimhamurthy at Muddenahalli. Recently I saw a photograph (see attached pic) of somebody doing Sashtanga Namaskar to Shri B.N. Narasimhamurthy sir (BNNM) and was wondering whether BNNM had now acquired a Swami kind of stature among Muddenahalli group. I frankly asked this elder about it.

The elder dismissed it and said that, in this matter, BNNM is like the warden (sir) that he was before Mahasamadhi and that he speaks to people with love and respect. In fact, the elder shared with me that in end 2012 he himself wanted to do Sashtanga Namaskar to BNNM, after seeing some achievements of BNNM and others then. But, the elder told me today, BNNM had then objected very strongly and pleaded with him not to do such things. BNNM told him that they both were only devotees of Swami working on Swami's mission.

The elder said that some youngsters do such Sashtanga Namaskar to BNNM but it is not that most people do such Sashtanga Namaskar to BNNM (even today).

As the elder regularly visits Muddenahalli, and is quite well known to me, I give a lot of value to his words in this matter. I felt it appropriate to share this info. with others in the interest of giving a balanced view of the matter.

Note that my putting up this post DOES NOT MEAN that I approve of Shri B.N. Narasimhamurthy's (BNNM's) actions in endorsing FALSE BELIEF in communicator, Madhusudan Rao Naidu, and in the SERIOUS DIVISIVE THREAT that Muddenahalli group of which he is a key leader, poses to Sathya Sai movement worldwide. In fact, I strongly disapprove of these actions of BNNM.
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A comment I made on the associated Facebook post,
https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/1794567490759820, is given below.

--Name-snipped--, Yes, I do see the danger of dominance from BNNM possibility as shown in this pic. And so a BNNM cult forming (if it has not formed already). But ... the elder I spoke to had a different take. Maybe the elder also does not have the full picture.
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My response to Mr. Ganti's statements about Puttaparthi Vaasi (residents) living in fear

Last updated on 27th Sept. 2016

Given below is a comment I made on Mr. Ganti's Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/notes/vr-ganti/is-prashanthi-nilayam-losing-alebit-slowly-its-glory/10207607441408766.

I live in outside ashram Puttaparthi and am not associated with any Sai institution in Puttaparthi (or elsewhere) since March 2012. Prior to that I was offering free service in the Sai university from Jan. 2003 to Mar. 2012 with designations of Honorary Staff, Honorary Faculty and Visiting Faculty.

Mr. Ganti writes, "I am told that the entire town of PUTTAPARTHI is gripped by FEAR and people are, just not only hesitant but are afraid to voice their views. When will PARTHI VASIYO (residents of Parthi) get freedom is the question I have."

I am NOT gripped by FEAR!!! Mr. Ganti seems to live in some imaginary world of his when he uses such words.

However, I do not typically publicly criticize Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust or Swami family members. This is how it was when I was serving in the Sai university in Bhagavan's physical presence over eight years, and I would like to continue to keep that approach now too. I think such an approach has helped me in my spiritual journey. I have not come to Puttaparthi to become an investigative journalist exposing any alleged financial corruption and crime!!! I have come to Puttaparthi for spiritual progress.

Does that mean I am gripped by FEAR!!! When I walk on the streets of Puttaparthi do I worry that somebody will physically attack me or rob me? Not at all! In fact, I find that even outside ashram Puttaparthi is a largely peaceful and safe town for people like me. I am very happy (with exception of Muddenahalli issue and related unhappiness, at times) and NOT FEARFUL in my life in outside ashram Puttaparthi town. It is a very pleasant life that I lead and I am thankful to the police, govt. authorities as well as Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust for their contributions to a safe and peaceful outside ashram Puttaparthi town with good services of water and free medical care through Bhagavan's hospitals. It is also my considered view, in the years after Mahasamadhi, that Shri R.J. Rathnakar in his role as an important local leader of outside ashram Puttaparthi town has contributed significantly to ensuring that Sai devotees including foreign Sai devotees visiting and living in outside ashram Puttaparthi are not troubled by any local troublemakers. I am therefore very supportive of this leadership role played by Shri R.J.Rathnakar in outside ashram Puttaparthi town.

The contrast in terms of peaceful and hassle free life for Sai devotees, between outside ashram Puttaparthi town and other towns in Rayalaseema can be easily felt by those who have experienced life in such towns.

Now does that mean that I will poke my nose into all financial dealings and business activities that are going on in outside ashram Puttaparthi town and do exposure of any such illegal activities. Of course NOT. Such exposure involves risk and therefore it is the media and police authorities who do such work. NOT spiritual aspirants and writers on spirituality & religion like me!!! As an individual writer, I am afraid of investigating and exposing financial and other malpractices not only in outside ashram Puttaparthi but anywhere in India or the world, for that matter. I think that fear is a healthy fear. Like having fear of going to a jungle which has ferocious animals, or to a warzone, or to a place having an outbreak of deadly contagious disease (e.g. Ebola).

And BTW I was born and lived for most of the first four decades of my life in and around Mumbai. The biggest mafia bosses in India came to limelight in Mumbai during my time there. As an individual writer, I am AFRAID of writing against these mafia bosses even today! And I think that is a healthy fear. I mean, I have read enough about hitman killings in Mumbai ordered and executed by these mafia gangs, when I was living in and around Mumbai to know how dangerous they can be to those who trouble them. I also was caught up in downtown Mumbai when the 1993 serial bomb blasts organized by one of these mafia bosses struck Mumbai and terrorized it for a day or two (then Mumbai was back in action, shrugging off the first serial bomb blast attack in India). [Here's my blog post on it for those who would like to read it, My memories of the 1993 Bombay/Mumbai serial bomb blasts, http://ravisiyermisc.blogspot.in/2015/07/my-memories-of-1993-bombaymumbai-serial.html.] It is the police authorities and powerful media orgns. protected by the police who have the task of doing the dangerous work of investigating criminal actions of these mafia gangs. Not individual writers on spirituality and religion like me!

The way Mr. Ganti writes, it seems that he thinks he is some great FEARLESS man who will expose Asathya and Adharma anywhere. Given the mocking tone that Mr. Ganti has used for Puttaparthi residents let me challenge him to live in Puttaparthi and then write about such matters (any exposure of alleged financial corruption and malpractices). Then I will say he is a FEARLESS man. Otherwise he is just claiming to be FEARLESS but is only sitting safely in Singapore and mocking Puttaparthi residents as FEARFUL!

Further, is Singapore free from all crime and corruption?? I have only visited Singapore for a couple of days on a marketing trip during my software industry days, sometime in the early 90s. It did come across as a well disciplined city then but I could sense an undercurrent of fear too then. I mean, it was not like how I have felt while I lived in Western Europe and the USA.

And, is Singapore politics really free democracy politics like in Western Europe and USA (and to a lesser extent, India)?? Two short extracts from  the article, "Sister of Singapore Prime Minister Lee accuses him of dynasty politics", http://www.cnbc.com/2016/04/11/sister-of-singapore-prime-minister-lee-accuses-him-of-dynasty-politics.html, dated 11th April 2016, are given below:
International media have long criticized Singapore's political system over the prominence of the Lee family. The People's Action Party (PAP), created by Lee Kuan Yew in 1954, has ruled Singapore's political landscape since the country's independence in 1965.
...
A few days later, on April 1, she wrote, "I will no longer write for SPH [Singapore Press Holdings, publisher of The Straits Times] as the editors there do not allow me freedom of speech. In fact, that was the reason why I posted the article that LKY would not want to be hero-worshipped."
--- end short extracts from cnbc.com ---

What Ganti sir! No  press freedom in Straits Times for even daughter of Late Singapore strongman Lee Kuan Yew! What sort of FEARFUL place you are living in!!! I challenge you, Mr. Ganti, to write in support of press freedom in Singapore and in support of Lee Wei Ling, younger sister of Singapore Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong. Or should I say entire Singapore city including Mr. V.R. Ganti is GRIPPED BY FEAR of Lee Hsein Loong and DARE NOT SUPPORT his sister and critic, Lee Wei Ling???

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Additional comments of mine in the same post of Mr. Ganti mentioned above, are given below.

Ganti sir, I will never forget the courageous work that you did in exposing Muddenhalli group. As I have said earlier on multiple occasions that is a signal contribution from you to the post-Mahasamadhi Sathya Sai movement.

But, sir, you are now painting Puttaparthi town in a very poor light. Mind you, many Sai devotees in Puttaparthi try to do their best to follow Bhagavan's teachings. In my considered opinion, Bhagavan would not approve of Sai devotees very aggressively and publicly criticizing trustees of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, and any member of Swami's family, as you are doing, sir. You are saying that Sai devotees in Puttaparthi are "gripped by FEAR"! That is a completely wrong way of looking at it. By using such language, you want to provoke Puttaparthi Sai devotees into doing what you want them to do. But, sir, all such language will do is to create anger towards you in most Puttaparthi residents (including me) who read your post/mail, as your characterisation of them is insulting.

My view is that as a now well known social media writer of Sathya Sai movement matters, you sir, can surely raise polite questions of SSSCT. I have publicly expressed my view that it will be better if there is more transparency in SSSCT in this post-Mahasamadhi phase of Sathya Sai movement.

But you have gone way beyond that in this post of yours (as you have done earlier too). You have assumed unto yourself a dictatorial role and want to dictate terms to SSSCT! You have targeted two of these trustees by name in this post and used very harsh language against them. This kind of post is really shocking to me!

It is one thing to demand more transparency and accountability in the Sai orgn. But you have gone way beyond that, sir.

I am afraid I cannot be part of such discussions and debate.

I pray to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba to cool you down, sir, and show you that these kind of posts will only create disharmony and anger in Puttaparthi and SSSCT, and not help Sathya Sai movement.
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--Name-snipped-- sister, I could not tolerate the words Mr. Ganti has put up in this post which insults Puttaparthi residents (including you and me) as living in great fear. Please note that his mails go out to many people around the world. I felt it is important to strongly rebut the view that people like you and me live in great fear in Puttaparthi.
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Ganti sir, I have never interacted with Shri R.J. Rathnakar directly and am not attached to him in any way. However, I do appreciate the good influence that he, along with ruling govt. leaders like Minister and MLA Dr. Palle Raghunatha Reddy, have over outside ashram Puttaparthi to keep it free from or limit it to a very low level of problems that towns near to Puttaparthi face [Liquor shops and associated drunkard problems, eve-teasing, robberies ...]. Even if I move away from Puttaparthi, I will try to stick to the norms I had when I was serving in the Sai university in Prasanthi Nilayam campus in Bhagavan's physical presence, of having respect towards family members of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba which includes Shri R.J. Rathnakar and Smt. Chetana Raju.

You have put out a view that Puttaparthi residents live in great fear. I do not live in great fear in outside-ashram Puttaparthi. I don't bother RJR and he does not bother me. I don't trouble other leaders of PTP town and they don't trouble me. So I am not afraid of them. I will have need to fear them if I poke my nose into their business, political and personal affairs. Why should I do that??? I am not a competitor to them and have not come to Puttaparthi to earn money from business or a job with Sai institution, or get elected to political office. That is the truth whether you want to accept it or not.

Perhaps those who have written to you from Puttaparthi about such fear are persons who are into business or other activities which face opposition from others in Puttaparthi.
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You [Mr. Ganti] made allegations against me sir in your comment stating that "You are attached to the local leader". I wanted readers to know that that is a false statement.
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Sairam --name-snipped-- sir, Thanks for the kind words about me. But I am just a regular person with human flaws who needs your good wishes, and am NOT worthy of any prostration of any sort. ..... I was only one of the persons offering honorary service in Sai university. I am deeply grateful to Bhagavan for having given me the opportunity to serve Him in this manner in His DIVINE university. While I did not ask for (and did not get) any money salary from Bhagavan for my nine year service stint, I asked for and He gave in a much bigger way than I had expected, spiritual grace (spiritual salary) to me, for which I am deeply, deeply grateful to Him.
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Given below is a comment from my Facebook post,
https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/1794942760722293, associated with this blog post:

Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Part of an exchange (slightly edited) over FB chat with a FB friend who along with her parents shifted to Puttaparthi from Mumbai in 2001 (so living in Puttaparthi for 15 years) is given below (she was OK with sharing it):

FB Friend (FBF) wrote: Sairam, It's right, as a woman i feel in Parthi compared to other places in India.

I wrote: Did you mean that, as a woman, you feel safer in Parthi? ... I think Parthi crime rate is quite low as compared to nearby towns. Do you disagree?

Are you gripped by fear in your life in Puttaparti??? Of course, there is discipline in the PRIVATE mandir complex and PRIVATE Sai institutions like hospitals and educational institutions where one has to follow rules & regulations. But that is different from living in great fear. But what do you think? Do you live in great fear in Puttaparthi?

FBF wrote (slightly edited): No, i have no fear in Parthi as a woman and i did not encounter any unpleasantness in this place since we shifted here. Yes, in hospital or in mandir, we have (to) follow certain rules, which i always do. I feel, it also depends on a woman how she conducts herself in public.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

I hold Swami's family members including Smt. Chetana Raju, in high respect

Given below is a comment (slightly edited) I made on Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/notes/vr-ganti/chethna-garu-did-she-realize-her-mistake-and-come-back-to-parthi-for-good/10207594525325872 [Swami refers to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba]:

--Name-snipped--, Since you have tagged me in a comment, I am responding. Otherwise I would not have liked to respond to this matter.

My stand on Muddenahalli group belief in so called communicator, Madhusudan Rao Naidu, that it is a FALSE BELIEF, is a public and clear stand. Further, my stand is that office bearers of official Sai orgn. should not associate with Muddenahalli group, and that is also the official Sai orgn. stand, I believe.

I think it is up to the current All India President of Sai orgn., Shri Nimish Pandya, to PUBLICLY clarify what his stand is with respect to Smt. Chetana Raju, who is an important person from Swami's family and who has been an important figure in Prasanthi Nilayam functions associated with women's wing for years. Mr. Pandya's silence on the matter will lend value to a belief that there are double standards whereby teachers who have served Swami for years/decades in Swami's school (and one teacher in Sai university) in Prasanthi Nilayam/Puttaparthi had to pay the price of being removed from their service for attending Muddenahalli group functions, whereas top office bearers of Sai orgn. do not have any such restriction.

Of course, it would be wonderful if Smt. Chetana Raju, as an important Swami family member, clearly states her stand publicly. That will help Sai fraternity to know whether she continues to be a supporter of Muddenahalli group and a believer in so called communicator, Madhusudan Rao Naidu.

I strongly disapprove of unsubstantiated allegations and name-calling against Smt. Chetana Raju. I hold Swami's family members in high respect as I have personally seen in my regular attendance in Sai Kulwant Hall (Prasanthi Nilayam) from Jan 2003 to April 2011 that Swami (physical form) gave great affection and respect to his family. As a teacher in Prasanthi Nilayam campus of the Sai university, I (and other Sai university staff) were expected to be respectful of Swami's family. I happen to have taught one Lab. course to one young man from Swami's family too. I would like to continue that attitude of respect towards Swami's family members now too. So I strongly disapprove of any unsubstantiated allegations and name-calling against Smt. Chetana Raju.

I would also like to say that Swami has in public discourses said that his (physical body) sisters were among the first to recognize his divinity. They also, I am sure, would have played a great role in caring for Swami at physical level in the very challenging and difficult period when Swami was a young school going boy and later was starting his mission. So I am deeply grateful to these members of Swami's family who provided that vital support to Swami at that difficult time, as I have been able to benefit from the fruit of all their hard work when I came to Swami's fold in the early 1990s. Smt. Chetana Raju is the granddaughter of one such sister of Swami! So I respect Smt. Chetana Raju and her family, for their family's service to Swami.
--- end comment ---

Friday, September 23, 2016

Nature article: Religion and science can have a true dialogue

A correspondent passed on this very interesting article from the leading science journal, Nature, titled, Religion and science can have a true dialogue, http://www.nature.com/news/religion-and-science-can-have-a-true-dialogue-1.20627, dated 22nd Sept. 2016

A short extract from it:

They [group of UK church leaders] were frustrated by the task of engaging seriously with science against the backdrop of a popular narrative of science–faith conflict that pervades contemporary culture.

Too often, this simplistic claimed tension is used in the media, for instance, to pigeonhole ethical arguments from (even highly scientifically literate) religious figures as being relevant only to those ‘of faith’, rather than expressing a broader concern for human welfare.
--- end short extract ---

Abortion: Polarising issue in USA politics; Seems to be complex from spiritual view

How sensitive the topic of abortion is in the USA can be sensed from this article where a pastor advises his congregation to vote for the Republican party as its platform is against abortion:

[Please note that this is a sensitive matter. Readers who prefer to avoid reading about such sensitive matters may please skip reading the remaining part of this post.]

From the Heart of a Pastor: What I Am Telling My Congregation About the Election, http://www.charismanews.com/politics/opinion/59867-from-the-heart-of-a-pastor-what-i-am-telling-my-congregation-about-the-election, dated Sept. 13th 2016.

Please note that I have a PUBLICLY NEUTRAL informal-student-observer role in these posts that I put up about the USA presidential elections. Of course, as I am an Indian citizen living in India, there is no question of me voting in these elections.
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Ravi: I find abortion to be a very complex topic from a spiritual point of view. I don't have a clear stand on it, as of now. I mean, I am learning about it. [I don't know whether Sathya Sai has written or spoken in public discourses on abortion.]

Of course, cases where health of the mother is in danger (and cases like rape & incest?), come across as cases where abortion should be OK from a spiritual point of view. But in other cases, especially in unmarried teenage pregnancy cases, is it the spiritually right thing to do for the pregnant lady to abort? How would a spiritual advisor counsel an unmarried teenage pregnant woman who does not have the financial and social support structure to raise a child, at that stage in her life? It is one thing to talk about the glory and wonder of a new human baby coming into the world, but it is another thing altogether to handle the at least two decades effort, in many parts of today's world including many parts of India, to raise the child.

Of course, I am not talking about any legal issues here, like laws in some states of the USA where abortion, barring the exception cases mentioned earlier, would be legal but would have some restrictions (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_in_the_United_States_by_state). I am talking only about the spiritual view of the matter.

Some people may view abortion from a non-religious/non-spiritual prism. That, I think, is a key difference between my view and their view. I view creation of human life through a spiritual and religious (Hindu beliefs mainly) prism. I view the birth of a child into a family as not limited to the physical act of sex and then the biological development of the foetus in the mother taken to full term as a human child that is born. I view it additionally as having an important undercurrent of it being a gift of God / act of destiny/ karmic effect, which has the great potential of lighting up the family with not only human happiness and joy but also elevate the parents spiritually as they get into roles of parents. One of the most awesome things that I see in human life is the unconditional love that many mothers have towards their children. Such mothers are willing to sacrifice anything, even their own life at times, for the well being of their children. In such cases, the wife gets transformed into an example of selfless service as a mother, that spiritual and religious people like me, hold in awe and great respect! In fact, my belief as per (my understanding of) the teachings of my Guru, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, is that this unconditional love that some mothers (who evolve into that role after (first) childbirth from a different role of being only a wife-not-mother role) have for their children, is a sample of the love that God has for his devotees. Hindu scripture is full of stories of such unconditional love that God has shown to his devotees (e.g Prahlada, Dhruva, Gajendra) by responding to their earnest prayers to Him.

So, for me, motherhood and also fatherhood, is a God sent opportunity for a wife and husband to spiritually evolve and become more worthy of love and respect as human beings.

I repeat that my stand on abortion is not clear and that I am learning about it. So please be tolerant of any flaws in my views expressed above, and do convey your differing views, if any. Thanks.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Mail exchange about my current writing stand on Muddenahalli group belief

Last updated on 25th Sept. 2016

[Update on 25th Sept. 2016: Initially when this post was put up on 22nd Sept. 2016 with the title, "Some more thoughts and responses about my current writing stand on Muddenahalli group belief", I had not got approval from the correspondent with whom I had this exchange to share her part of the exchange. So I presented my part of that conversation in this post without any reference to the mail conversation. Now the correspondent, an old friend of mine from my software industry days in Mumbai (she was not with the software development work but was with the finance section of the first software consultancy company that I worked in, from 1984 to 1990 in Mumbai), has given her approval to share her part of the conversation too. So I have included her part too (slightly edited) in this post. My portion of the exchange is slightly edited as well.]

Note: The order below is slightly different from the mail exchange order which was not broken into points. So some minor sequence issues will have to be tolerated by the reader.

1) Correspondent (C) wrote: Every institution, religious or otherwise, will undergo splits when there is a leadership change. Each faction will claim to be the original or the true heir to the legacy.  You have yourself quoted what Ramana said when there was another faction. While that may have been for property ...
I (Ravi) responded: I think it was about ashram administration rather than property. Ashram administration is a very tricky thing as people will always find some complaint or the other with the ashram administration.
2) C wrote: The reason you did not get a response from Modi's office [Ravi: to my open letter to PM Modi, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2016/09/open-letter-to-pm-modi-hrd-minister.html], is because they also viewed it as a fight between two factions not worth taking sides. There is a possibility, that Modi or his ministers would attend not only Muddenhalli's events , but also events held by your faction as well. They have no time or inclination to take sides. They see it only as power struggle.
I responded: Yes, the central and state govts. would view Puttaparthi group and Muddenahalli group as two factions and would not want to get embroiled in the disputes between the two factions. So they attend Puttaparthi ashram functions and also Muddenahalli group functions.
My point is not about whether they attend Muddenahalli group events but whether they ENDORSE the communicator/medium belief. As far as I know, I don't think there has been any major ashram system in India in my lifetime which has a medium of a departed Guru as the key person giving darshan, interviews and discourses supposedly of the departed Guru through the medium. Do you know of any such major (or even minor) ashram in India??
Visits by top political leaders are tried to be promoted by Muddenahalli group as them having become convinced of the communicator/medium's claims. PM Modi is a special case, which is a BIG, BIG PRIZE for Muddenahalli group to win (I mean, if they win his belief). This is because PM Modi has visited Sathya Sai Baba (in physical form) in the past on multiple occasions. The communicator/medium seems to have the ability to tell people about their past experiences with Sathya Sai Baba. That floors many people and they then believe everything about his medium/communicator claim. If PM Modi also is told by this communicator about some of his past private interactions with Sathya Sai which leads PM Modi to start believing that this medium/communicator guy is really channeling Sathya Sai spirit then, in my view, that would be a very sad event. I mean, the top leader of the country would be believing in this medium (communicator) guy, Madhusudan Rao Naidu's claim, which I am deeply convinced is a FALSE CLAIM based on my extensive study of the words & actions of this medium (communicator) which is DOCUMENTED on this blog!!!!
Perhaps for some persons that would not be an issue. But it does worry me. And I feel I need to do my bit as an Indian citizen and as a Sathya Sai devotee, in my individual capacity, to try to alert the PM about it.
C wrote: As for believing in "medium", I don't believe in it.. as much as I don't believe in many other things. However, if there are some folks who believe they can get salvation thru' it, its their choice, as much as they would go to Tirupathi and drop money in the hundi and expect something in return. I neither drop money in a temple nor be awed by someone who says he is the "medium".  there are many who do past life regression..
I responded: If it comes only to individuals, one need not get so worried. If some unknown to me person goes to Muddenahalli group and becomes a believer in the medium, I don't bother to interfere in that person's choice. But if PM Modi and HRD minister are being wooed by the medium/communicator (Madhusudan Rao Naidu), I worry about them getting trapped by the medium!!! B'cos they are powerful leaders of the union govt. who take big decisions on policy and big projects which could affect the lives of many, many Indians today, and whose (decisions) impact would extend to some time in the future.
As I read and blog about the USA presidential election that is ongoing, I note that some people who knew both the major presidential candidates from up close in the past, chose to go public with their warnings about what they view as these candidates' unsuitability to be USA president. They did this as a kind of duty to their country and knew that they would face an onslaught of criticism from the presidential candidates' camp and perhaps even legal issues. Some may view that as negativity. I view some of it as fair and necessary criticism by USA citizens to provide USA citizens valuable information that will help them take an informed decision while electing the next president of the USA. However, I do recognize that some of such criticism is false and negative propaganda against the presidential candidates. I am in favour of genuine and fair criticism of, and against false and negative propaganda targeting, the USA presidential candidates.
In a small way, I am doing my bit through fair criticism to prevent what I am sure is a false claim medium/communicator (Madhusudan Rao Naidu) trapping PM and top union ministers of India, into his net using the ***POWERFUL for political leaders *** name of Sri Sathya Sai Baba for his (medium's) words.
C wrote: Find a positive balance for yourself and negate the negative energy.
I responded: I think fair criticism is an important part of life. Some may view it as negativity. I don't view fair criticism as negativity.
3) About me not getting a proper response to my open letter to PM Modi:
I wrote: India has a huge population. Rather extensive filtering of communication to PM is but natural. I took a chance. It did not work out. I have the satisfaction of having tried to do my bit as an Indian citizen and Sai devotee. My conscience is at rest.
4) C wrote: To your point - "From a detachment point of view perhaps Ramana's approach was right [Ravi: About Ramana not wanting to fight with the breakaway devotee group/person that had set up a parallel ashram in Ramana's name!]. But from an ashram systems point of view, from the well being of the community of the ashram system, some ashram leaders had to take action.". The question I have for you - Did you go on this path to build ashrams and institutions or was it for salvation?
I responded: When I came to Puttaparthi with an aim to settle down, if things worked out, in end 2002, I wanted to have a balance between my individual spiritual progress and my contribution to the Sathya Sai mission which focuses on strengthening ideals of Sathya, Dharma, Shanti & Prema in society, service to society in various sectors (education, medicine ...) and also spreading the teachings of Sathya Sai. Till mid 2010, I was keeping this balance. Some incident and associated interactions (thoughts & prayers from me, and facial gestures and a key discourse from Swami) between Swami and me in 2010, where he stood by me in a time of great test for me, made me deeply devoted to Sathya Sai, like perhaps how some followers of Jesus became deeply devoted to Jesus. For me, this is personal. I mean, it is a personal bond of immense gratitude that I have with Sathya Sai for all that he did for me as a Guru including at physical form interaction level between him and me (prayers & thoughts from me towards Swami, and from Swami to me: facial gestures mainly but a few words too, and discourses which I heard live (sometimes watching him delivering the discourse) in his physical presence sitting in the main Darshan Hall in Puttaparthi ashram, Sai Kulwant Hall).
After Mahasamadhi of Sathya Sai (April 2011), I have become far more involved in the mission of Sathya Sai (in an individual role), than in my individual spiritual practices like meditation and contemplation (of which I would do a lot prior to mid 2010). So now I am more of a Sathya Sai missionary than an individual spiritual aspirant. And from a Sathya Sai missionary point of view, safeguarding the teachings of Sathya Sai from corruption and dilution (which is what Madhusudan Rao Naidu is doing in my considered view) is a major activity that I do not want to shirk.
5) C wrote: The university thing would not have happened on its own. Because you were taking sides, the other side will always look for your weak points. Once you take up a battle, then there will be no holds barred.
I responded: Well, I have noticed that you have never said that me being shown as Teaching Assistant by the Sai university in a document was wrong, as I was issued Identity cards duly signed by Principal of the Sai university campus that I was serving in, as Honorary Staff, Honorary Faculty and Visiting Faculty. I find that rather strange unless you disbelieve my statements above.
C responded: Sorry, I did not mean to say that the misrepresentation of your designation was right. All that I said, was folks will look for various ways to hit back, when cornered or in a fight. In this case, they tried this tactic. The underlying cause is different of why this happened.  The battle was for something else and they ensured you were distracted by this gross misrep.
I responded: Thanks a ton for clearly stating that you view my designation issue as a gross misrepresentation and do not view it as right. You see, the biggest disappointment, and I have to say even betrayal, that I felt in my fight with the Sai university administrators (in first half of 2012), was that NOT ONE OF MY COLLEAGUES or SENIORS (including a former HOD) who were paid staff of the Sai university, came up to me privately (forget about publicly stating so), and told me that Sai university had done a wrong thing by grossly misrepresenting my designation as a very junior one. NOT ONE of these persons! [Today, in 2016, I have a much kinder view of my paid Sai university colleagues and seniors not telling me even privately that Sai university had a done a wrong thing in this case. I think they were just too scared of losing their job or being penalised in some way if they were seen to be supporting me in any way. I mean, paid ashram staff are simply not in a position to criticize ashram administrators. That is the reality of Puttaparthi ashram and perhaps is the reality of other ashrams in India too.]
My value system was, and continues to be, such that I expect an apology from the authorities for their mistake. Instead I was greeted with haughty arrogance (in March to June 2012)! As if to say that what can you do? You are only one individual guy (who also has health problems). We can do what we want with your designation! [Note that they did not specifically use such words. But the way they behaved with me made me feel that this was their attitude.] This was gross abuse of power and even sadistic behaviour by Sai university administrators.
As they refused to apologize, when I was able to expose their wrongdoing in social media (in 2015 & 2016), I felt happy. [For more details on it, please see my blog post, My May 2012 service record & record tampering related correspondence with Sai university (SSSIHL) administrators, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2015/11/my-may-2012-service-record-record.html, dated Nov. 2015 and last updated Sept. 2016.] Somehow I wanted justice to be done. Exposing their misdeeds on social media allowed me to get that satisfaction to some extent. They still have not apologized and perhaps may never do so. Puttaparthi ashram system has feudal type arrogance where ashram bosses NEVER EVER apologize. But by exposing on social media the individuals of the Sai university who humiliated and insulted me, and labeling them publicly (in my blog & Facebook posts) as Teacher-Drohis (those who do harm to teachers), I have ensured that I got some level of justice, even if I did not get an apology.
I read somewhere about how institutional betrayal can cause psychological trauma. I think that is what I suffered then from in an acute way in 2011-12 at which time I did not use social media exposure, and so got brutally marginalized by a huge ashram university system crushing a single individual's cry for justice. Today I still face a minor level of trauma when I recall those incidents and write about them, but it is not as bad as it was in 2011-12 when I felt all alone in Puttaparthi.
The really peculiar thing about my experience is that while the Sai university betrayed me and I have very negative feelings about Sai university administrators, my beloved Gurudev, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba never betrayed me but always faithfully and truthfully played his role of a Guru guiding me, sometimes chastising me for my good, in my spiritual journey [I am writing about physical form Sathya Sai]. Sathya Sai was ALWAYS TRUE to me in my relationship with him of me being a spiritual aspirant and he being my Guru. In this spiritual relationship between me and him aspect, Sathya Sai lived up FULLY to his name of Sathya (truth). So on one hand I have bitter feelings towards the Sai university but on the other hand, I have immense gratitude for Sri Sathya Sai Baba, who was the founder chancellor of the Sai university, besides being my beloved Gurudev!!!!
6) C wrote: If you had taken up a fight to save someone's life or someone's suffering,  --name-snipped-- and I would not have objected as we do today. Because its about factions, we see no point in the battle.
I responded: I understand that you and --name-snipped-- (non Sai devotees; includes some other friends & relatives of mine) do not see any point in this faction battle. You are not into Sathya Sai and so you could not care less about these matters.
7) C wrote: There is always a urge in everyone to fight for something.. that's the way we are wired  Like we are trying to argue with you. When one is caught in the "grihastha ashram" part of life, there are so many issues, that one issue cannot assume a larger than life mindspace.. Like my mails to you are also bucketed among various other things on the to do list.  I am being honest with you.

Yes, I do not view Sai Baba as a God (Not that i have any other God I am awed with).. but I never felt like spending my life proving or disproving my point of view about Sai Baba, because my to-do list is already very crowded.

I am going to be cheeky now.. Most men after retirement are a pain.. after a lifetime of working, they have no idea of how to spend their time and really make life difficult for their families :p. ... That's what I meant, when in one of my earlier mails I said "Idle mind is devils workshop". You do not have enough things on your plate to be engaged with and this has now become an all consuming thing on your mind. I am sure --name-snipped-- will agree with me, you can put your brain and time to much better use.
I responded: You see, many people are thanking me for the work I have done in this matter. I myself feel very satisfied that I did not run away from Puttaparthi after Swami Mahasamadhi, and leave others to deal with the mess that followed the Mahasamadhi. My conscience is clear that I have done my duty to my beloved Guru in this post-Mahasamadhi trauma, chaos and confusion matter by this social media writing work of mine. That is a vital, vital thing for me. You reject my writings and work in this regard as idle mind is devil's workshop. What can I say? I don't want to use hurtful words. All I will say is that perhaps you have never been with any spiritual master or spiritual following. That is why you are using such words.
C responded: I agree I have not met any spiritual person or otherwise who has influenced me very deeply. I have always striven to never be carried away by one thing to loose sight of possible other perspectives. So could never trust and have complete faith in one person or ideology. You could call it my arrogance or skepticism. I have been influenced by lot of folks as I look for things I can learn, but never completely by one person, that I would consider it to be gospel truth. That's how I am :)
I responded: Noted. And I respect your stand and value you as a friend who has that stand.
8) C wrote: I would still urge you to occupy yourself with other things, whether its family or other purposes.
I responded: Well, Muddenahalli group matter is not the only thing I deal with. I write about non-controversial spirituality & religion matters. You may be disinterested. But many are interested and have thanked me for my writings. The reading that I do related to/prompting such writings gives me great satisfaction.
I have also extensively blogged (for free) about improving the practice of software development in Indian Computer Science & Information Technology academia. I consider that to be a significant contribution from me to the software development profession which gave me a great livelihood and great joy as a professional, even if that work (blog) does not have much recognition, as of now at least.
I have put up the course content of the various courses I taught in the Sai university on the Internet for free. [Note that for many of these courses I re-used and adapted freely available course content of USA and other Western country universities.]
I have studied the contemporary God & Science conversation and blogged (for free) about it on a different blog from my Sai Baba blog. That blog has no reference to Sathya Sai Baba at all, and focuses only on philosophy and values.
I share my views on a miscellaneous blog (for free) about other miscellaneous matters of human interest (not related to spirituality & religion or software technology) like USA politics which seems to interest a few people, and which I find educative.
Is all the above the work of an idle mind and that of a devil's workshop? Perhaps that's your view. I dismiss that view as an ignorant view (sorry to be blunt), and I think many of my readers too would dismiss it in a similar way.
And BTW before I left the Sai university I taught (for free) software development courses to M.Sc. and M.Tech. students and guided M.Tech. project work of some students for NINE YEARS. Is that also idle mind being devil's workshop stuff from some persons' point of view??
I actually even wonder whether you are against me writing about such things on the Internet. If so, why? Do you hate writers? Or is it that you just hate me being a writer on social media? Sorry if the questions seem harsh. But the tone of such criticism leaves me no option but to try to understand why you have such a harsh view of my post-retirement-from-commercial-work life.
C responded: I have nothing against writers. Yes, you are a very capable writer and your blogs are very impressive.
I responded: Thanks for the kind (perhaps very kind and exaggeratedly kind) words. I am touched by the genuineness of at least some appreciation from you for my writings. It is such appreciation that is the motivation fuel for writers like me. Without such appreciation I would have stopped writing and focused only on reading.
I do know that I have many flaws as a writer (hurried writing; grammatical mistakes; long-winded and repetitive at times ...). But my focus is more on the content that I want to share even if the manner of that content-sharing (writing style) could be better. I mean, right now I am focused on hurriedly but effectively communicating my thoughts on some matters to those who are interested. Over time perhaps I will become more of a laid back writer when I find that I can spend more time on improving my writing style.
C wrote: if those activities alongwith taking the Sai mission forward (in a positive manner and not defending) form major part of your life then my comment about "idle mind" is wrong and I apologize. However, when the Muddenahhali fight took the centre stage, the other discourses took a back seat and negative energy started flowing.. I do not like to see any energy being wasted on negative thoughts. That got me writing to you alongwith --name-snipped--. --name-snipped-- may have his own reasons, but this was my trigger.  I apologize if this hurt you. You should step back and see how much time are you in a positive frame of mind and how much is it defending, disturbed and negative. Its for you to find your balance.
I responded: Thanks for the conciliatory tone. I really appreciate it. On Muddenahalli stuff, what you view as negative, I view as truth-telling even if unpleasant truth-telling, that must be done for the larger and long-time good. But I do not want to debate this endlessly. I have noted that you view my unpleasant truth-telling stuff as negative.
9) C wrote: To me most of this is about money and power and so is all other religious discourses, except there are a few folks, who become the "Born again Christians".. I know you are not in it for the power and money!
I responded: Undoubtedly there is huge money and power in big spiritual and religious institutions, and some of it is unethical stuff (with some of it being used for service to society activities).
Thanks for your faith in me that I am not in this for power and money. And I guess I am a "Born Again Hindu" now, though I don't force my views on others (no forceful evangelism, but a share the good news with those interested type evangelism).
10) C wrote: I shall refrain from anymore comments on this topic.
I responded: Noted that you want to refrain from further comments on this topic.
Thank you very much for the valuable time you took to share your views and ***WELL-INTENTIONED*** warnings to me. I have no doubt whatsoever that friends like you and --name-snipped--, only want my well being, and that your recent mails to me to back off from Muddenahalli public criticism (and consider leaving Puttaparthi and Sathya Sai Baba related matters and go back to Mumbai/Dombivli), sprang from that genuine and sincere concern about my well being. I am grateful to God that He has blessed me with such genuine and sincere friends like you and --name-snipped-- (and other such friends and relatives). Thank you very much, once again.
If any of my words above have caused hurt, I am genuinely and sincerely sorry and apologize for the hurt caused. But I do not retract the words above as I think they are the truth and this truth needs to be said. The intent of these words is not to cause hurt but to share the truth as I see it and which truth-telling may help avoid such unpleasantness to others in future.
11) In response to my seeking her approval to share the above exchange, C wrote: Hey no problem.. Whatsoever.  The only reason i said i will refrain is bcoz i had already spelt out my opinion and we were going round in circles :)

i have no problem with whichever way you wish to share our exchange.
Not that i want to have the last word..  But do try and get back on your spiritual quest. :)
Apologies for the delay in responding.  This falls in my weekend bucket :D
Take care and best wishes