Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Naren Ramji being considered for trustee position in SSSCT? My strong objections about it

Last updated on 31st Dec. 2015

I am writing this post as my UNPLEASANT DUTY to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and the Sathya Sai fraternity. If readers do not like to read criticism then they may want to skip reading this post.

I have heard from multiple sources that Dr. Naren Ramji, current Registrar of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of  Higher Learning (SSSIHL/Sai university), is one of the persons who is being considered for induction as a trustee of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust (SSSCT). I do not know how accurate this information is but I would not be surprised if the information is true. However, it could be false as well.

The problem we have in these matters is that induction of new trustees into SSSCT is a very secretive affair with the Sathya Sai fraternity being informed about the event after it has been done via some notice. When Bhagavan was in physical form as Bhagavan had Divine Insight and Divine Knowledge about such matters, we Sathya Sai devotees could leave it to Him to make the decision, and we would follow the decision that He took as a DIVINE DECISION.

Now the situation is different. However eminent and noble the esteemed trustees of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust may be, they DO NOT HAVE DIVINE INSIGHT AND DIVINE KNOWLEDGE INTO SUCH MATTERS. Therefore we need to look at modern best practices that are followed for induction of persons into top organizational positions. As the post Mahasamadhi Sathya Sai movement is essentially being powered by and dependent on the Sathya Sai fraternity, the Sathya Sai fraternity at large should be given a chance to voice its views on such matters. One way to do that is for the trust (SSSCT) to PUBLICLY put up the names of the persons it is considering to be inducted as trustee on its website and give Sathya Sai fraternity time to write to SSSCT about any objections they have to any candidate. SSSCT need not pay heed to every objection that is raised against the candidates but they can go through it, and any serious objection with supporting evidence can be included in the decision making process to make an informed decision in this very important matter of inducting new trustees into SSSCT.

Anyway, now we do not have this system. The Sathya Sai fraternity is simply informed after the fact, that so-and-so has/have become trustee(s). Therefore I felt it appropriate to put up my views/objections regarding Naren Ramji being considered as trustee, on social media even though I do not know for sure whether this information (his being considered for trustee position) is true or false.

As I was a teacher (designations of Honorary Staff/Honorary Faculty/Visiting Faculty) from Jan. 2003 to Mar. 2012 in Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (SSSIHL/Sai university), Prasanthi Nilayam campus, offering FREE SERVICE, I have direct experience of POWER CRAZE, record tampering and VERY ARROGANT behaviour of Naren Ramji who has been Registrar of the Sai university from a few years before Mahasamadhi.

An extract from 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, related to this matter is given below:

I write this letter to you gentlemen to resolve confusion regarding my designation during my years of service in the Department of Mathematics & Computer Science (DMACS), Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (SSSIHL) from Jan. 2003 to March 2012 and also to request for my correct service record for the same period. I have written to both Vice-Chancellor, SSSIHL as well as Director, Prasanthinilayam (PSN) campus, SSSIHL so that you may please co-ordinate as to who is the right person to look into this matter. I have copied this mail to the ex-Principal, PSN, SSSIHL as he was the campus authority who signed on all the identity cards which specified my designation and were issued to me during my service period in SSSIHL. I shall also send all three of you gentlemen a paper hard copy of this email with my handwritten signature to prove that this mail/letter is from me as that may be necessary from a procedural point of view for SSSIHL, a University Grants Commission (UGC) deemed university, and also a paper copy of the attachments, by courier in a day or two.

I am writing this letter to you gentlemen instead of writing to the Registrar, SSSIHL, Dr. Naren Ramji, as I found the Registrar's behaviour to be very strange when I met him on March 2nd 2012. Though he had given me a letter dated 4th June 2011 on SSSIHL letterhead and duly signed by him which clearly stated that I am designated as Visiting Faculty in DMACS for Academic year 2011-12 (please see attachment: "Ravi Iyer Revised Designation 2011.jpg"), he said that I was not designated as "Visiting Faculty" on his records!!! He further said that I was a "Seva Dal" (I presume he implied that his records had me as a "Seva Dal")!!! I found this behaviour to be very odd and extremely inappropriate for a Registrar of a deemed university. I have rejected his oral view and gone only by the aforementioned written letter where I am designated as Visiting Faculty. Further I felt that it is inappropriate for me to interact with the Registrar any further and so I decided to write directly to you gentlemen on this matter. It is also appropriate for me to state that I decided to part ways with SSSIHL due to this strange behaviour of the Registrar, Dr. Naren Ramji, in my meeting with him on March 2nd 2012.

[I must also mention that from a spiritual perspective I consider Sri Sathya Sai "Seva Dal" to be a badge of great spiritual honour and prestige. But I believe that the Registrar of SSSIHL, Dr. Naren Ramji, has to follow UGC norms for his record keeping duties and "Seva Dal", in my opinion, is an unacceptable designation from UGC norms point of view for a person who taught lab. courses for over 8 years as free service.]

--- end extract 1 from blog post ---



Above pic has the letter from Naren Ramji, Registrar of SSSIHL clearly stating that my designation is Visiting Faculty for the year 2011-12. [To see the pic in original size, use Mouse right-click followed by Open link in new tab and then mouse left-click on image to magnify.]

Ravi: So on March 2nd 2012, Naren Ramji, Registrar of SSSIHL, thought that he had the power to CANCEL an official letter that he had sent me dated 4th June 2011 designating me as Visiting Faculty, and instead ORALLY designate me as "Seva Dal"! Now just imagine what will happen if as trustee, SSSCT, he tries to CANCEL official letters sent by him in a similar manner, and humiliate FREE SERVICE Sai devotees who are serving Prasanthi Nilayam system. Perhaps there will be a further exodus of Sai devotees from  Prasanthi Nilayam system, either to do service activities individually (like me) or even to consider joining Muddenahalli group!

Extract 2 from 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:

Some, if not all, of you gentlemen know that SSSIHL had FALSELY shown me as a Teaching Assistant in a document titled, "Annual Quality Assurance Report (AQAR) for the year 2009-10 submitted by Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC)". Please see attached document, "Page35-SSSIHL-AQAR-2009-10.pdf" which has the offending page of the document. If you gentlemen want the entire document please let me know as I have downloaded a copy of the document from SSSIHL website. I was shocked beyond belief when I saw this document on SSSIHL web site in February 2012 and demanded that the Registrar, Dr. Naren Ramji, and DMACS HOD, Prof. Chandrasekaran initiate corrective action which was done by the document being removed from SSSIHL website. I request you gentlemen to please ensure that the Registrar, Dr. Naren Ramji, DMACS HOD, Prof. Chandrasekaran and/or anybody else in SSSIHL do not succeed in any possible attempts to show me FALSELY as a Teaching Assistant in my service record.

I also request you gentlemen to please understand my request for having this matter resolved only through written communication. Ever since I showed interest in the Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Vahini project sometime in October 2010 I feel I have been mentally harassed and persecuted by an individual in DMACS. The very strange behaviour of the Registrar, SSSIHL, Dr. Naren Ramji, when I met him on March 2nd 2012, has added to this feeling of mental harassment and persecution. This has affected my health. I do not want to risk spoiling my health any further by having any meetings or oral interaction on this matter with concerned office bearers of SSSIHL.

--- end extract 2 from blog post ---

Ravi: Now, ETHICAL BEHAVIOUR (Dharma) demands a WRITTEN APOLOGY from Naren Ramji, Chandrashekaran and SSSIHL for this act of record tampering and malicious defamation where they showed me (an international software consultant with 18 years experience offering FREE SERVICE to SSSIHL) as "Teaching Assistant" (a very junior academic designation) in documents they sent to UGC (and so it probably is still there on RECORDS of the UGC). But, instead of APOLOGY, I was BULLIED by Naren Ramji who said I was "Seva Dal"!!! The Vice-chancellor then, Shashidhar Prasad, accused me of spewing poisonous venom!!! The director Prasanthi Nilayam campus, Sudhir Bhaskar, tried to put the blame on me! Please note that record tampering and malicious defamation are CRIMINAL OFFENCES UNDER THE INDIAN PENAL CODE!!!

After TERMINATING my relationship with SSSIHL in March 2012 which under Naren Ramji, Shashidhar Prasad and Chandrashekaran was following the PATH OF ASATHYA and ADHARMA [For more on it you may view, Debate on Prof. Shashidhar Prasad and Muddenahalli subtle body believers, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2015/08/a-debate-related-to-prof-shashidhar.html], I have moved on and am happy in my role as a blogger/social media writer on spirituality & religion and other matters. So I am not writing this post out of any desire for JUSTICE for me from SSSIHL. The intent of this post is to inform readers about Naren Ramji's history as the rumour is that he is being considered for trustee position in SSSCT.

Some more info. about Naren Ramji. One senior faculty who had served Swami for two to three decades I believe, Prof. Krupanidhi (former Dean of Sciences and HOD, Biosciences dept., SSSIHL), informed me sometime in 2011-12 (after Mahasamadhi), how humiliated he felt by the way Registrar Naren Ramji & Vice-chancellor Shashidhar Prasad were treating him. The manner in which Prof. Krupanidhi parted ways with SSSIHL and the reaction of Shashidhar Prasad and Naren Ramji to that was HORRIFYING. Prof. Krupanidhi was labelled a 'runaway' or something like that in attempts to pressurise him to continue with SSSIHL. I was ASTOUNDED to see some mails in connection with this matter. I mean, we were living in early 21st century democratic India and not some tin-pot dictatorial country! How can you force anybody to continue to serve in any institution in 21st century democratic India (except for trainee under bond positions or defence related institutions)? All you can do, I believe, is to penalize the person financially for not giving the appropriate notice period. If the matter had gone to an Indian court, the court would have had a fit! Anyway, Prof. Krupanidhi did not cave in to those RIDICULOUS but SCARY threats and stayed away from SSSIHL, and seems to have moved on to a respected academic position & career in another university in Andhra Pradesh.

I have already written elsewhere about how Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju, the famous speaker on Swami & Sai literature/teachings as well as translator of Swami discourses was brutally marginalized in SSSIHL by administrative authorities in the chaotic year or two period after Mahasamadhi. I do not know the exact role of Naren Ramji in this brutal marginalization of Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju but, as far as I know, he did not do anything significant, in his position as Registrar, to PREVENT marginalization of this senior faculty of SSSIHL and important leader of Sai fraternity.

Given the above, I would like to inform readers that many senior faculty & staff (former & current) of SSSIHL have a VERY POOR OPINION of Naren Ramji's performance as Registrar of SSSIHL, with a few deciding to part ways from SSSIHL, at least in part, because of him.

That finishes my unpleasant duty. Now it is upto readers (and any SSSCT trustees if this post/content comes to their notice) to accept/reject my views. Further, who knows, maybe Naren Ramji has got transformed from his VERY ARROGANT, POWER-CRAZY and POWER-ABUSIVE attitude of the past to an enlightened administrator now. I mean, we all make mistakes and some learn from our mistakes. I have certainly made my fair share of mistakes and I believe that I have learned from at least some of them. Maybe that is the case with Naren Ramji of end 2015 (my above account is of Naren Ramji of 2011 & 2012).

Friday, December 25, 2015

Jewel Live - 3 Christian/Christmas songs

Jewel Live - I have seen the Face of Love, the Grace of God, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbYwj9lRpP0, 3 min, 30 secs

Jewel Live - Joy to the world! The Lord has come! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U31r38CEX60, 3 min, 30 secs

Jewel Live - O Holy Night! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xh3pFC65CnE, 3 min 47 secs

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewel_(singer):
Jewel Kilcher (born May 23, 1974) is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, actress, and author/poet. She has received four Grammy Award nominations and, as of 2008, has sold over 27 million albums worldwide.
--- end wiki extract ---

Thursday, December 24, 2015

I and My Father are One, banner in Prasanthi Nilayam ashram, Christmas 2015 celebrations


Pic courtesy: Radio Sai

This is from New Testament (Christian) scripture, John 10:30, http://biblehub.com/john/10-30.htm, and are the words Jesus spoke to those who were aggressively questioning him.

Given below are the verses John 10:30 to 10:38 (from above biblehub.com link):

"I and the Father are one."

The [persons-opposing Jesus] picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, "I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?"

The [persons-opposing-Jesus] answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God." Jesus answered them, "Has it not been written in your Law, 'I SAID, YOU ARE GODS '?

"If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God '?

If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father."
--- end John 10:30 to 10:38 ----

In response to the above words of Jesus, those opposing Jesus tried to seize him but Jesus eluded their grasp!

There is so much convergence between Jesus' words of the Father (God) being in him and he being in the Father (God), and that both Father (God) and he are one, and what Bhagavan said and taught, and the Advaita teachings in the Upanishads/Vedanta! Bhagavan would refer to us listeners of his discourses (as I have heard LIVE so many times in Sai Kulwant Hall, Prasanthi Nilayam) as Divya Atmas (Divine souls/beings), and say that we are all God (but that we, or most of us at least, are caught up in the delusion that we are this limited body (and mind), and so should make efforts to get rid of this body-consciousness delusion and thereby experience our divine consciousness).

I think the core gospels of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) as well as some of the non-canonical/apocryphal gospels (e.g. gospel of Thomas) fit in very well with teachings of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, as well as devotees' experiences of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. However, it must be said, the theological stance of most Christian theologians (e.g. Prof. Miroslav Volf of Yale Divinity School) that humans being creation are separate from the creator (i.e. we are not God and that God is OUTSIDE of us), does not accept the Advaita teachings of Upanishads and Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

But then there is huge commonality in the Love all Serve All type of teachings of Bhagavan and what is preached/taught by leading theologians and heads of the Christian community worldwide. This commonality is something that I love and enjoy, and am deeply thankful about :-).

===============================
On the Facebook page associated with this post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/1687966568086580, brother Sai Das provided two more Bible verses which have great similarity with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's teachings about Awareness/ I am I (Nenu nene in Telugu):

John 8:58, http://biblehub.com/john/8-58.htm: Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am."

Exodus 3:14, http://biblehub.com/exodus/3-14.htm: God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'"

Monday, December 21, 2015

Prof. Miroslav Volf and his views on impressive overlaps between Christianity and Islam

As I explored more about the incident of Wheaton College Associate Professor, Dr. Hawkins, being asked to go on administrative leave as she had written on her Facebook page that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2015/12/christian-prof-of-evangelical-christian.html, I noted that a Washington Post article on the matter, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/12/16/do-muslims-and-christians-worship-the-same-god-college-suspends-professor-who-said-yes/, stated:

She [Ravi: Dr. Hawkins] linked to a Christianity Today interview [Ravi: link: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/april/muslimschristianssamegod.html] with Yale theologian Miroslav Volf on the topic. In the piece, Volf said that “all Christians don’t worship the same God, and all Muslims don’t worship the same God. But I think that Muslims and Christians who embrace the normative traditions of their faith refer to the same object, to the same Being, when they pray, when they worship, when they talk about God. The reference is the same. The description of God is partly different.”
--- end short extract from Washington Post ---

Prof. Miroslav Volf had also written an opinion piece in the Washington Post supporting Dr. Hawkins for her stand and being critical of Wheaton college administration for their action against her, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/12/17/wheaton-professors-suspension-is-about-anti-muslim-bigotry-not-theology/.

I then read up/viewed up on Prof. Volf and felt that I should put up a post about him and his views regarding Christianity & Islam.

Fascinatingly, Prof. Volf had given a lecture at what seems to be the same Wheaton College in Illinois, USA, perhaps in the beginning of April 2011 or slightly earlier (the video upload date is April 6, 2011), "Miroslav Volf: Allah: A Christian Response", https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hzITPCe1-Q, around 1 hr 30 mins (including Q & A). The lecture part is around 40 minutes and is a very thought-provoking, no punches pulled kind-of lecture. Was Dr. Hawkins part of the audience during this lecture? Did she get influenced by the lecture? Perhaps.

Mind you, Prof. Volf was raised in the former Yugoslavia and seems to have great exposure to the Bosnia conflict. From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosnian_War:

The Bosnian War was an international armed conflict that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995. Following a number of violent incidents in early 1992, the war is commonly viewed as having started on 6 April 1992. The war ended on 14 December 1995. The main belligerents were the forces of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and those of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat entities within Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska and Herzeg-Bosnia, who were led and supplied by Serbia and Croatia respectively.

The war was part of the breakup of Yugoslavia. Following the Slovenian and Croatian secessions from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1991, the multi-ethnic Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was inhabited by Muslim Bosniaks (44 percent), Orthodox Serbs (32.5 percent) and Catholic Croats (17 percent), passed a referendum for independence on 29 February 1992.
...
By early 2008, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia had convicted 45 Serbs, 12 Croats and 4 Bosniaks of war crimes in connection with the war in Bosnia. The most recent estimates suggest that around 100,000 people were killed during the war. In addition, an estimated 20,000 to 50,000 women, the majority of whom were Bosniak, were raped, and over 2.2 million people were displaced, making it the most devastating conflict in Europe since the end of World War II.
--- end wiki extracts ---

Now some info. about Prof. Volf:

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miroslav_Volf:

Miroslav Volf (born September 25, 1956) is a Croatian Protestant theologian and public intellectual who is touted in the preface of one of his books as "one of the most celebrated theologians of our day". Having taught at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in his native Osijek, Croatia (1979–80, 1983–90), and Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California (1990–1998), Volf currently serves as the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School and Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture.
...

Interfaith engagement

Volf has brought his theology of embrace to bear on how people of different faiths relate to each other. He participated actively in the work of The Elijah Interfaith Institute by writing Christian position papers—both on his own and with his students as co-authors—for the meetings of its Board of Religious Leaders and by participating in its meeting. For a number of years, Volf also participated in the Jewish-Christian dialogue. However, most of his interfaith efforts were directed to the relation between Christianity and Islam. He focuses on Islam partially because he comes from a region in which these two faiths have intersected for centuries (he was born in a city-fortress that the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I started building around 1700 to keep Ottoman Muslims at bay) and partly because he considers the relations between these two religions to be today’s most critical interfaith issue.

Since 2004 Volf has taken part in the Building Bridges Seminar, a yearly gathering of Muslim and Christian scholars chaired until 2012 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. His engagement with Islam intensified after the publication of A Common Word Between Us and You (2007). Occasioned by Pope Benedict XVI’s speech at the University of Regensburg, but motivated by a deteriorated relationship between Christians and Muslims (especially in the wake of 9/11), the document, which was originally signed by 138 of the world’s most prominent Muslim leaders, argued that what binds Muslims and Christians (and Jews, of course) is the dual command to love God and love one’s neighbors. It proposes this common ground as a place of dialogue and cooperation between the two religions. Along with the staff at the Center for Faith and Culture (Joseph Cumming and Andrew Saperstein), Volf drafted Yale Divinity School’s response (“Yale Response”), which was endorsed by over 300 prominent Christian leaders (including some of the world’s most respected evangelical figures such as John Stott and Rick Warren).

Allah: A Christian Response (2011) is Volf’s major work engaging Islam. The book is an exercise in “political theology”; it explores the possibilities of peaceful co-existence of Muslims and Christians “under the same political roof,” rather than the merits of Islam and Christianity as systems of salvation (an area in which there is substantially more divergence between the two religions than in regard to moral values). The central question of the book, which had not been explored in a sustained fashion before the publication of this work, is whether Muslims and Christians have a common God and whether, consequently, they have common or at least overlapping central values. In a dialogue with Nicholas of Cusa and Martin Luther, Volf develops his own method of assessing the issue and argues that Muslims and Christians do have a common God, even though each group understands God in different ways, at least in part. The most obvious differences concern the Christian claim that God is Love and that God is the Holy Trinity (though when it comes to the Trinity, Volf argues that Muslims objections seem directed at ideas that the great Christian teachers never actually affirmed). These differences notwithstanding, Christians and Muslims have similar accounts of the moral character of God and therefore of basic human values—the one Creator God who is different from the world is just and merciful, and God commands worshipers to do similar things (e.g., the Ten Commandments [minus the Fourth]; the Golden Rule). Love for and fear of that common God can, therefore, bring Muslims and Christians together, or at least be the basis for resolving conflicts without resorting to violence. As Volf sees it, in Allah as well as in his engagement with Islam more broadly, he is applying to interfaith relations the kind of generous engagement with the other that his theology of embrace recommends.
--- end wiki extracts ---


Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God?, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/april/muslimschristianssamegod.html, April 15th 2011. This has the interview with Miroslav Volf which the Washington Post article said was linked to by Dr. Hawkins.

A few small extracts from it:

Volf: If our understandings of God clash, it will be hard for us to live in peace—not impossible, but hard. So exploring to what extent Christians and Muslims have similar conceptions of God is foundational to exploring whether we inhabit a common moral universe, within which there are some profound differences that can be negotiated, discussed, and adjudicated.
...
Q: What are the most striking similarities between the way Muslims talk about Allah and the way Christians talk about God?

Volf: One that shouldn't be forgotten is that God is one in both traditions. That's very important. Two, God is merciful. Also, God is just. God's oneness, God's mercy, and God's justice are significant commonalities. We have different understandings of each of these, but the overlaps are really impressive.

Q: Some theologians argue that when Christians and Muslims say "God is one," they mean fundamentally different things, since for the Christian, God is a Trinity.

Volf: I would respond by asking, "Do Christians and Jews worship different gods?" And I would hope the response would be, "No. Jews and Christians worship the same God. They just understand God in a different way—Christians in a Trinitarian way, and Jews not."

Some Jews and Muslims accuse Christians of being idolatrous for believing in the Trinity. My response to both groups is that they fundamentally misunderstand the Christian understanding of the Trinity. It's not that we worship three distinct entities who sit on three thrones next to each other; we worship one undivided, divine being who comes to us in three persons.
...
Q: Don't most religions postulate a God who is all-powerful and merciful? Is it possible that we all worship the same God in the end? In that case, maybe there is no such thing as idolatry, only different interpretations.

Volf: If somebody postulates the existence of more than one god, I would have to say we don't worship the same god. If somebody says that God is basically one with the world, I would also have to say we don't worship the same god. What binds Muslims and Christians, and what is central to my argument, is that God is one, that God is distinct from the world, and that the one God has created everything that is not God. There is a radical divide between creature and creator. This is a fundamental monotheistic belief. Muslims, Christians, and Jews share that belief. Therefore, they believe in the same God. Polytheists and idolaters do not share that belief.
---- end extracts ----

Ravi: I felt it appropriate to add some thoughts of mine about Hindu beliefs in this regard. Hindus believe in ONE formless & nameless God but who can also be worshipped through images and idols (God with name and form) for those who prefer to relate to God in that fashion. Hinduism also believes in very powerful beings that have taken human form who have miraculous powers (like what Jesus is said to have had), and many Hindus worship these very powerful beings (devas, avatars) as named and formful aspects of the ONE formless & nameless God, Further, a core belief of Hinduism (as expressed in the Upanishads/Vedas) is that creation (including creatures) is part of God, and that there is no divide between creature and creator. Hinduism views the creature like the wave that arises from the ocean which is like the creator; the wave arises (is born) from the ocean, is a part of the ocean when it is (has life as) a wave, and merges back (dies/gives up the form/body) into the ocean.

So the Hindu view of God does seem to have significant differences from what Prof. Volf conveys as the Christian and Islamic view of God (separate from creation, and who should not be worshipped via idols & images).

[I thank Wikipedia and Christianity Today and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts (small extracts from Christianity Today) from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Words of appreciation from a reader of my articles/posts

A Sai university alumnus and former Sai university faculty wrote me recently:

Dear Iyer sir,

  • I consider myself, foremost, as a learner.
  • Hence I do not limit myself to only a few topics.
  • Some topics, perhaps, would not have been of interest to me, but nothing stops me from reading articles on it and, who knows, I may even pick up interest on that topic. This has happened to me many times.

This is where your mails [Ravi: I mail my articles/posts to him] play a very catalytic role. They give me some fodder for thought. I do tend to think deeper on many of your mails. I may not find the time to pen my thoughts back to you, always, but rest assured that your mails have enlarged my field of vision and thought process.

Thanks for that.
--- end Sai university alumnus and former Sai university faculty mail extract ---

I wrote back:
Thanks for your kind and well articulated words. I am glad that some of my article-mails have been of some help to you. Such words give me the much needed enthusiasm to continue with my mail & social media writing work.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christian Prof. of USA evangelical Christian college pulled up for saying Christians and Muslims worship the same God

Dr. Larycia Hawkins, (tenured) Associate Prof. of Political Science at Wheaton College, Illinois, USA, said in her Facebook post on Dec. 11th 2015, https://www.facebook.com/larycia/posts/10153326773658481, "I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God." Note that Dr. Hawkins has stated in the words above that she is a Christian.

This post drew resistance from Wheaton college administrators as they felt it went against their statement of faith, http://www.wheaton.edu/About-Wheaton/Statement-of-Faith-and-Educational-Purpose, and so they put her on administrative paid leave from Dec. 15th 2015, "in order to give more time to explore theological implications of her recent public statements concerning Christianity and Islam". For more see Wheaton College Statement Regarding Dr. Larycia Hawkins, http://www.wheaton.edu/Media-Center/Media-Relations/Statements/Wheaton-College-Statement-Regarding-Dr-Hawkins.

Here's a Washington Post article on the matter, Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? College suspends professor who said yes., https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/12/16/do-muslims-and-christians-worship-the-same-god-college-suspends-professor-who-said-yes/, dated Dec. 17th 2015.

And here's another Washington Post article which is an opinion piece by a theologian, and which is strongly critical of Wheaton College's decision, Wheaton professor’s suspension is about anti-Muslim bigotry, not theology, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/12/17/wheaton-professors-suspension-is-about-anti-muslim-bigotry-not-theology/, dated Dec. 17th 2015.

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miroslav_Volf:
Miroslav Volf (born September 25, 1956) is a Croatian Protestant theologian and public intellectual who is touted in the preface of one of his books as "one of the most celebrated theologians of our day".
...
Volf currently serves as the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School and Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture.
--- end wiki extracts ---

Prof. Diana Eck, Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies at Harvard University, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diana_L._Eck, seems to be supportive of Dr. Volf's article as she tweeted it with the words, "Theological Alert! Two Gods? Christian and Muslim? What is happening to theology!", https://twitter.com/DianaEck/status/677543734851018756.

Ravi: My initial view on the matter is that Wheaton's ENTIRE Statement of Faith, http://www.wheaton.edu/About-Wheaton/Statement-of-Faith-and-Educational-Purpose, seems to have many aspects which do not exactly fit in with the traditional Islamic faith. But then I am not a theologian and my view lacks a nuanced and proper understanding of the matter, especially in the context of Illinois state and the USA as a whole.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Five HUMAN Challenges to Overcome in Spiritual Missions: Jealousy, Inbreeding, Groupism, Personal Agenda & Politics (JIGPP) - Part 2

Last updated on 16th Dec. 2015 
Preface: This post has NOT been made from a viewpoint of denigrating spiritual missions, but from a viewpoint of sharing some human issues that come into play in Indian spiritual missions/ashrams. It may serve to better prepare some persons to handle these challenges if they are involved with such spiritual missions, or intend to do so in future. This note is based on my experiences as well as my readings about Hindu, Christian and multi-faith (SarvaDharma) spiritual missions/ashrams in India. end-Preface.
[Part 1 of this article is available here: http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2015/12/the-five-human-challenges-to-overcome.html]

b) Inbreeding

I came across the term institutional inbreeding or academic inbreeding only after I got associated with a deemed university in India as honorary staff/faculty. From http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20131009120224656:

"The narrower definition of academic inbreeding assumes that only PhD candidates hired by the same university where they graduated and who remain there throughout their career should be considered as academically inbred.

The broader definition assumes that graduation level is not critical as long as the academic is hired straight after concluding their bachelor or masters degree, becoming an academic at the same graduating university."

I think this institutional inbreeding matter applies to spiritual institutions/ashrams as well. In a typical spiritual ashram there are disciples of the spiritual master/leader heading the ashram, who get special attention from the spiritual master, and some of the senior disciples head various ashram activities (with the ashram leader being the top-level head). In a Hindu ashram, usually these disciples are sannyasis or sannyasinis, with their ochre robes clearly indicating their sannyasi/sannyasini status. I think the typical pattern is that these senior disciples would join as a brahmachari/brahmacharini and spend some years imbibing the teachings and traditions of the ashram and its leader/master. Those who are able to stay the course and are keen on further growth, are then granted the status of sannyasi/sannyasini. And some from these sannyasis/sannyasinis, over time, become senior disciples of the master taking on important responsibilities of ashram management.

Lay people associate with the typical Hindu ashram and assist in many ways, especially in areas where they have special skills (e.g. medicine, teaching secular education, engineering work, administrative work etc.) However the top responsibilities lie with the senior disciples. The lay person, even if he/she associates full-time with the ashram, will typically NOT be considered for any top responsibility in the ashram.

Further, sannyasis/sannyasinis who are associated with another Hindu ashram/master may also not be accepted easily for top positions in the ashram.

I think it would be similar for Christian ashrams/missions in India.

An interesting variation of the above are institutions which are a mix of secular and spiritual, having an associated educational mission from schooling to university level. In such cases, passed out students/graduates of the educational institutions are strongly preferred as employees of the institutions associated with the secular-cum-spiritual ashram (which includes the educational institution itself). In the case of educational institution associated with the ashram employing its own graduates as teachers & other staff, it is the classic case of academic inbreeding.

What are the pros & cons of such inbreeding in ashram institutions including secular-cum-spiritual ashram institutions?

Strong exposure to teachings and traditions of the ashram and its leader are VITAL for all those who take up significant level responsibilities of the ashram. The teachings & traditions have to be consistently followed, as far as feasible, across various ashram activities. Another sensitive aspect in favour of such institutional inbreeding for ashrams is LOYALTY. Large ashrams face some strong opposition or the other. This seems to be almost inescapable. The opponents/critics are eager to gather inside information from the ashram that can be used to malign the ashram. A person who has been with the ashram and its leader(s) for decades and has gone through the stages of brahmachari/brahmacharini and then sannyasi/sannyasini OR been through its educational mission as a student and then worked in the ashram for a decade or more, will usually have a high level of LOYALTY to the ashram and its leader. [Some cases of long-term disciples turning against their spiritual master/ashram do happen but it is quite rare. However, even if rare, those cases do gain a dubious & sensationalist kind of fame.]

One of the disadvantages of such inbred ashram systems is the resistance the system has to incorporate improved practices, both secular & spiritual, from competent persons who come to their system from outside. Related to this disadvantage is the challenge involved for the system to attract accomplished non-inbred outsiders into their system. Inbreeding is a form of groupism. In any part of the ashram system that has an overwhelming majority of inbred persons, they will naturally form a group. While they may be polite to a non-inbred person who joins in their activities, they will typically not consider that person to be one of them. In extreme cases, the competence of a non-inbred outsider could be viewed as a threat by the majority of inbred persons in an ashram institution dept., resulting in a situation where either the competent outsider has to keep a low profile and bow down to majority will, or the competent outsider may find himself/herself forced out of the unit/dept. on some flimsy excuse or the other.

Now these disadvantages related to inbreeding are human interaction realities and there is no point in getting too worked up about it. The wiser approach is to understand these human weaknesses aspects and factor them in when one is involved with an ashram system.

An unusual case is that of a powerful mystic who founded educational institutions from schools to university level, and who invested significant time & resources for these institutions, with the hope & dream that its products (graduates) will be the kind-of chosen torch bearers of his mission to re-inforce Sathya (Truth), Dharma (Righteous Living), Shanti (Peace) & Prema (Love) in the world. The mystic publicly and repeatedly praised the students & alumni of these educational institutions and prophesied that they will lead his mission forward.

That had one rather unfortunate side-effect of some of these students & alumni considering themselves to be superior to the rest of the devotees of this mystic. This superiority complex that some of them developed made other non-alumni devotees become somewhat wary of them. However, when the powerful mystic was alive, the students & alumni received special treatment from the powerful mystic himself, and so the rest of the devotees had to simply accept their (students/alumni) special status if they wanted to be around the mystic.

Once the powerful mystic gave up his body, there was a dramatic change in the situation. In the years that followed it was efficiency and capability of the alumni in the various roles they were playing within the ashram system and in the associated organization outside, that became the important factor in the system. In a sense, the special status given to the students and alumni by the powerful mystic started wearing off. The playing field among the devotees of the powerful mystic started becoming more of a level playing field between alumni and non-alumni devotees, with performance in their roles within the ashram system, and in the associated organization outside the ashram system, becoming the key measure of their contribution and so, their importance, in the system.

Those alumni in important ashram positions whose arrogance was tolerated when the powerful mystic was alive, had to face the rather unpleasant experience after the powerful mystic gave up his body, of people either returning their arrogance with counter-arrogance, or people simply avoiding them. In the associated university there was a very strange effect of senior academics flight after the powerful mystic gave up his physical body, as some senior academics felt slighted or even humiliated that they were being bossed around by younger alumni-staff of the university who had been promoted to powerful positions in the university overlooking other (non-alumni) senior university staff. Perhaps the top decision makers had thought that as the powerful mystic had said that his students will run his mission, it was appropriate to hand over important and powerful positions in the university to alumni-turned-staff even if they were younger than some other staff (some of whom had even been their teachers). But the reality was that senior staff found it very difficult to digest reporting to these bosses who were younger and junior to them. Arrogance on part of some such alumni-bosses, who perhaps felt themselves to be inherently superior to all non-alumni university staff (including senior staff and including their own teachers) due to the special treatment/consideration given to them by the powerful mystic, made it significantly worse. The net result was that, especially in a year or two after the powerful mystic gave up his body, many senior non-alumni academics quit the university. Quite surely, this was not exactly what the powerful mystic would have wanted for his beloved university, as he gave a lot of respect to the elder non-alumni teachers/academics of his university. Academic inbreeding in such secular-cum-spiritual educational institutions in a special case of academic inbreeding and can have some serious bad effects for the performance of the institution, and so special care must be taken to tackle these serious bad effects.
=======================================================

A veteran of a spiritual-cum-secular ashram institution commented on the above post contents sent to him over email, as follows (slightly edited to fix typo kind of issues):

Very, very good, elaborative, exhaustive and detailed study of the subject! Very nicely written with thoroughness and deep analysis. I wish every one should go through this unbiased. It is written in general interest keeping in view the progress and growth of the institutions by and large. Policy makers and seniors must read and give a serious thought to the content given when we intend to maintain expected standards of founders of these organizations be that a school or college or hospital or any. Efficiency and quality suffer if we do not cognize the ills of the problem posed. Mere loyalty with no creativity and closeness by being a YES man and a talebearer will not serve institutional obligations. Any way it is a thought provoking write up. Thanks for sharing.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Lok Nayak (people's leader) Jayaprakash Narayan seeking blessings of Sathya Sai

Lok Nayak (people's leader) Jayaprakash Narayan has written, "Seeking Baba's Blessings" along with his signature and Swami has written, "With Blessings" along with Swami's signature in this photo below:


Pic courtesy: Shri Karan Dewan, https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=215661822099291&set=a.102893226709485.1073741829.100009664231632

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jayaprakash_Narayan:
Jayaprakash Narayan (11 October 1902 – 8 October 1979), popularly referred to as JP or Lok Nayak (Hindi for The People's Hero), was an Indian independence activist, social reformer and political leader, remembered especially for leading the mid-1970s opposition against Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, for whose overthrow he called a "total revolution".
...
At age 20, Jayaprakash sailed aboard the cargo ship Janus while Prabhavati remained at Sabarmati. Jayaprakash reached California on 8 October 1922 and was admitted to Berkeley in January 1923. To pay for his education, Jayaprakash picked grapes, set them out to dry, packed fruits at a canning factory, washed dishes, worked as a mechanic at a garage and at a slaughter house, sold lotions and taught.[citation needed] All these jobs gave Jayaprakash an insight into the difficulties of the working class. Jayaprakash was forced to transfer to The University of Iowa when fees at Berkeley were doubled. He was forced to transfer to many universities thereafter. He pursued his favourite subject, sociology, and received much help from Professor Edward Ross

In Wisconsin, Jayaprakash was introduced to Karl Marx's Das Kapital. News of the success of the Russian revolution of 1917 made Jayaprakash conclude that Marxism was the way to alleviate the suffering of the masses. He delved into books by Indian intellectual and Communist theoretician M. N. Roy. His paper on sociology, "Social Variation", was declared the best of the year.
...
Narayan returned from the US to India in late 1929 as a Marxist. He joined the Indian National Congress on the invitation of Jawaharlal Nehru in 1929; Mahatma Gandhi became his mentor in the Congress.
...
During the Indian independence movement he was arrested, jailed, and tortured several times by the British. He won particular fame during the Quit India movement.
...
Narayan returned to prominence in State politics in the late 1960s. 1974 ushered in a year of high inflation, unemployment and lack of supplies and essential commodities. Nav Nirman Andolan movement of Gujarat asked Jayaprakash to lead a peaceful agitation. On 8 April 1974, aged 72, he led a silent procession at Patna. The procession was lathi charged. On 5 June 1974, Jayaprakash addressed a large crowd at Gandhi Maidan in Patna. He declared, "This is a revolution, friends! We are not here merely to see the Vidhan Sabha dissolved. That is only one milestone on our journey. But we have a long way to go... After 27 years of freedom, people of this country are wracked by hunger, rising prices, corruption... oppressed by every kind of injustice... it is a Total Revolution we want, nothing less!" In 1974, he led the students' movement in the state of Bihar which gradually developed into a popular people's movement known as the Bihar Movement. It was during this movement that JP gave a call for peaceful Total Revolution.
...
Indira Gandhi revoked the emergency on 18 January 1977 and announced elections. The Janata Party, a vehicle for the broad spectrum of the opposition to Indira Gandhi, was formed under JP's guidance. The Janata Party was voted into power and became the first non-Congress party to form a government at the Centre. On the call of Narayan, many youngsters joined the JP movement.
--- end wiki extracts ---

Ravi: For leaders of Bihar like Shri Nitish Kumar and Shri Lalu Prasad Yadav, Shri Jayaprakash Narayan is a revered figure even today.

I am so glad to see this photograph of this revered mass leader of Bihar Shri Jayaprakash Narayan with Bhagavan. Terrific! What an impact Bhagavan has had on the lives of so many tall leaders of India across decades! I had no idea that former communist turned socialist leader, Shri Jayaprakash Narayan, had sought the blessings of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba! Thanks to Shri Karan Dewan for sharing this wonderful pic which I consider to be part of the historical record of the Kali Yuga Avatar, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

[I thank Wikipedia and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

2 Lakh (hundred thousand) litres water sump in Puttaparthi by SSSCT

I believe this 2 lakh i.e. two hundred thousand litres water sump & pump house facility had been vital in providing water to Prasanthi Nilayam ashram as well as Puttaparthi town, when bore well water resources had dried up in summer this year. This seems to have come up sometime early this year (2015) and seems to have been executed by Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust (SSSCT).


Ganesha festival Chitravathi Road folk dance pics

These pics were taken in Sept. this year (2015). It was nice to see local folk singers play some devotional songs (in Telugu) and local folks dancing (folk dancing) to it. I found it to be quite pleasing and was happy to see the locals enjoy this way of expressing their devotion. One foreign lady too joined in and was doing the moves in sync with the locals!




Water Filter for Puttaparthi Town Locals

This facility was set up many months ago. I think it has been very beneficial for many Puttaparthi locals. This is located at the beginning of the bridge connecting Puttaparthi with Karnatakanagapalli.

The Telugu writing on the wall of this facility says 20 litres of water for Rs. 2/- (Two Rupees), which many (low income) locals have told me is a great bargain for them.



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Five HUMAN Challenges to Overcome in Spiritual Missions: Jealousy, Inbreeding, Groupism, Personal Agenda & Politics (JIGPP) - Part 1

Preface: This post has NOT been made from a viewpoint of denigrating spiritual missions, but from a viewpoint of sharing some human issues that come into play in Indian spiritual missions/ashrams. It may serve to better prepare some persons to handle these challenges if they are involved with such spiritual missions, or intend to do so in future. This note is based on my experiences as well as my readings about Hindu, Christian and multi-faith (SarvaDharma) spiritual missions/ashrams in India. end-Preface.
Spiritual missions involve people with a mix of spirituality and mission/service orientation. If one is focused on intense spiritual practices which take up most of one's time, then one may not so easily fit in a spiritual mission. A reclusive ashram/monastery which is largely detached from the world (or for some very dedicated person, even a cave, abandoned temple/place of worship or the jungle), would be a more appropriate place for such a person.

But if one is involved with a spiritual mission as part of a large spiritual organization then one has to deal with people and with the world. Now the people of spiritual organizations will typically have some spiritual inclination but if one presumes that most of such people would be angels, then one would be in for some sad disillusionment over time.

The reality is that people of large spiritual organizations do have many of the human flaws that all forms of organizations of humans have (commercial orgns/ govt. orgns/ non-spiritual NGOs etc.). However, most people in such spiritual organizations do try to keep their flaws under some check.

What I have said applies to both spiritual orgns involving part-time members (like lay members of a church but who are regular participants in church activities for lay members), as well as spiritual mission centres having full time (paid or honorary) members.

In the case of spiritual mission centres with full-time members I think these challenges are more acute. Now let me take the challenges, one by one, mainly in the context of spiritual mission centres with full-time members.

a) Jealousy: This is a major, major human weakness which finds full play even in spiritual orgns and spiritual mission centres. My considered view is that some jealousy is natural in almost everybody (including me). However, the more spiritually accomplished people can keep that jealousy under control. In some, however, the jealousy is uncontrollable. And yes, I am talking about spiritual orgns and spiritual mission centres. It is the uncontrollably jealous people who can be a very big danger to the groups they are in, as they can somehow rationalize their actions driven by envy as something else, and succeed in marginalizing or humiliating the persons that they are jealous of.

When I realized how powerful this negative emotion of uncontrollable jealousy is, even in spiritual mission centres, I was taken aback. I mean, I expected spiritual mission centres to be somewhat free of uncontrollable jealousy, as spiritual teachings always point it out as a big evil which has to be kept under control using one's spiritual practices (prayer, chanting etc.).

But what happens is that spiritual mission centres do not have many pressure-release outlets like entertainment and the like in the regular world. Further, one may be in the same group of people in the mission activity for years together or even decades together. So these things build up over time. Grudges for humiliation received is remembered for years & decades, and when the opportunity presents itself to take revenge for the humiliation received, many times, the opportunity is utilized to the fullest extent :-).

One may think that these things happen only in today's spiritual missions. And that in the ancient spiritual centres it was not so. But I think ancient spiritual centres too faced these issues. According to Hindu scripture, the anger that Sage Viswamithra had against Sage Vasishta was born of uncontrollable jealousy that Vasishta was recognized as a greater Sage than him. So Viswamithra even plotted to kill Vasishta! For more see http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/eit-21.

Here is an account of how Shirdi Sai Baba in his younger days with a Guru/Murshid, was hit by a brick by jealous disciples of the Guru/Murshid. From http://www.saibaba.org/newsletter2-35.html:

Baba had a brick in his possession that He cherished as a life-long companion. Abdul used to take care of cleaning of the Masjid. Once while cleaning the floors, the brick that Baba treasured fell down and broke into pieces. Sainath was very sad at this event and lamented at the loss of one of His very few material possessions. King of the Yogis and the great soul that rejected everything material, Saibaba was dejected over what seemed to be a priceless piece of mud. How could that be?

The brick was the one that Sai Baba’s fellow students threw at Him having (been) consumed with jealousy of Sainath’s good standing with their Guru. Baba said that the Brick was dear to Him because it was perhaps the only physical reminiscen(ce) of His days with His Guru. While it reminded Baba of the protection Guru will always extend to his faithful disciple, the brick would also stand as a reminder to the jealousy of Sainath’s fellow students at His Guru’s abode. Pit(iable) should be the situation of those students who, blinded by jealousy, were unable to identify the True Brahman that was living and breathing amongst them. Jealousy, one of the evils that human mind harbors, is capable of blinding the intellect. Therefore, it should be a natural recourse for a spiritual aspirant to shun .. such an evil.

--- end extract from saibaba.org ---

Ravi: So when Shirdi Sai Baba was (playing the role of) a disciple of his Guru (Venkusa), Shirdi Sai Baba himself became the target of jealousy from other disciples, to the extent that the disciples threw a brick at Shirdi Sai Baba! That shows the power of jealousy even in spiritual setups among spiritual aspirants-disciples in the second half of the 19th century.

Would-be ashramites should be aware of this real factor of jealousy in ashram systems. Such knowledge will help them better handle or perhaps even circumvent problems that might have their root in the age-old evil of jealousy.

To be continued ...

[I thank saibaba.org and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The first notable/remembered exposure I had to Shirdi Sai Baba via Amar Akbar Anthony film song

I was born and brought up in Bombay/Mumbai. Hindi films (Bollywood) and songs were an intrinsic part of my youth and adult life, though I was more into listening to Hindi film songs than seeing Hindi films. [In those days, 70s to 90s say, most Hindi songs were part of Hindi films. Separate music albums unconnected to a film were quite rare.]

The themes of 70s & 80s Hindi films were usually very healthy and promoting good values in general. I mean, typically the good guy & gal will win over evil at the end.

Amar Akbar Anthony was a mega starrer and superhit of the late 70s. From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amar_Akbar_Anthony:

Amar Akbar Anthony (Hindi: अमर अकबर अन्थोनी) is a 1977 Bollywood action comedy film with a lost and found theme, about three brothers separated during their childhood who grew up in three homes, adopting three religions. They meet in their youth to fight a common villain. It was the biggest blockbuster of 1977, and won several awards at 25th Filmfare Awards including Best Actor, Best Music Director and Best Editing.

The film was directed by Manmohan Desai and starred three actors: Amitabh Bachchan (as Anthony Gonsalves), Vinod Khanna (as Amar Khanna) and Rishi Kapoor (as Akbar Allahabadi). Each of the heroes had an affiliation with a heroine; these women were played by Parveen Babi, Shabana Azmi and Neetu Singh. Nirupa Roy, Pran and Jeevan played supporting roles. The music was composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Kishore Kumar sang for Amitabh Bachchan, and Mohammed Rafi sang for Rishi Kapoor. The soundtrack was one of Mukesh's last soundtracks with Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Anand Bakshi was the lyricist. This movie proved to be a golden jubilee at the box office.

The film about religious tolerance became a landmark in Bollywood masala films. It also had a lasting impact of the pop culture, with its catchy songs, one-liners and the character of Anthony Gonsalves played by Amitabh Bachchan. It was later remade in Tamil as Shankar Salim Simon (1978), in Telugu as Ram Robert Rahim (1980) and in Malayalam as John Jaffer Janardhanan (1982).
--- end wiki extract ---

Ravi: Inter-faith harmony was a very important theme of the movie with the name of the movie itself being composed of a popular Hindu (Amar), Muslim (Akbar) and Christian (Anthony) name. I recall that there was great excitement when the movie was released (1977). I would have seen it in that year or next year and so I probably would have been in my ninth or tenth standard in school in Bandra (East), Mumbai at that time.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie then and still have fond memories of some parts of it. Amitabh Bachhan did a great role as Anthony Gonsalves. Amitabh sings a humorous song in the movie, 'My name is Anthony Gonsalves'. Some weeks ago I heard a Kashmiri shop guy (named Akbar, if I got that right) in Puttaparthi singing it! That's how popular this movie and its songs were and, to some extent, still are.

Now this film has a song on Shirdi Sai Baba sung in the movie by Rishi Kapoor playing the role of Qawwali singer, Akbar Allahabadi (the playback singer is Mohd. Rafi, another great singer of Hindi filmworld who has given me great joy over the years & decades). I think this film's song was the first big exposure that I had to Shirdi Sai Baba. I mean, I would surely have seen photos of Shirdi Sai Baba earlier somewhere as Bombay/Mumbai has many, many Shirdi Sai devotee families (Shirdi is quite close to Mumbai). But then there are so many Hindu, Muslim & Christian icons that one sees in everyday life in Mumbai, that I don't think any Shirdi Sai photo/icon made such an impact on me at that time, for me to remember it today.

This song became quite a hit. Today, as I look back on my childhood and young adult days, I think it is this movie's song that really made me aware of the figure of Shirdi Sai Baba, a (Muslim) fakir and a miracle man. But I don't think I got into Shirdi Sai Baba devotion then. [Years later in the early 90s I first developed faith in Sathya Sai Baba and had his darshan. It was after Sathya Sai Baba's darshan that I went to have Shirdi Sai Baba darshan! My elder brother used to visit Shirdi with his friends in the 80s itself I think (if not the late 70s itself) but at that time I was not too interested to join him. I guess the divine call had not really come to me, at that time.]

However, I enjoyed this song and it was quite a favourite of mine. The song has the mother of Akbar who is singing, fleeing from villains. The mother had lost her eyesight and the song shows the miracle of her eyesight getting restored (besides the smaller incident/miracle of a snake preventing the villains from pursuing the mother into the temple). Note that Akbar does not know that the lady is his mother (as the children got separated from their parents at a young age due to some treachery; many Hindi films have emotionally very complex plots :-) ).

Do enjoy the song if you have not heard it before, or even if you have heard it before. I think later I will try to either find an English translation of the lyrics or provide my own. 5 min 37 secs, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPwS1UOSSM4.

[I thank Wikipedia and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

My comments on my May 2012 service record & record tampering SSSIHL (Sai university) matter

I felt it appropriate to put up some of my comments in this blog post of mine: http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2015/11/my-may-2012-service-record-record.html, as a separate post, and so have copy-pasted those comments below (to see the comments of the other correspondent please visit the afore-mentioned blog post):

Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Well, what I have realized is that a lot of Sai institutions and service activities are somewhat dictatorial in their mode of functioning. I put out the above blog post as I wanted to document a case of gross power abuse by SSSIHL administrators, and I hope that this documenation will serve to instill FEAR in SSSIHL administrators from indulging in gross abuse of power again.

In your case, it seems to be that as you are a volunteer (like I was a Honorary Staff/Honorary Faculty/Visiting Faculty in SSSIHL), your services can be blocked/terminated without reason and without any notice. It was the same case with me. But in my case they did record tampering and FALSELY SHOWED me as a Teaching Assistant which amounts to DEFAMATION.

I think it is good that you have mentioned these problems you faced. Transparency and accountability are vital for maintaining any service activity like this, in good health over time.

I suggest you forget about SSSVV and move on to other matters (like I have moved on to other stuff besides SSSIHL). Yes, if you feel you would like to document your problems in detail I suggest you could create a blog (if you don't already have one) and put up a blog post on it. The objective of it should be to inform the Sai devotee community and thereby help in prevention of such problems in future for others.
-----

Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Thanks for your kind words and support. It is lonely when one fights for justice against the system and so such expressions of support are very helpful.

In my SSSVV matter, I saw it as my duty as a teacher (Visiting faculty designation) to provide INTERESTED STUDENTS the opportunity to learn & work on SSSVV software development. The HOD was ORALLY dropping lots of hints and sometimes direct words about his displeasure with me doing my duty. I ignored them as I was serving Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and not the HOD. The HOD, in my considered opinion, was FAILING in his duty to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba by opposing INTERESTED STUDENTS getting involved with SSSVV. My interest in SSSVV was not the issue here; it was my DUTY to allow INTERESTED students to associate with SSSVV.

As the issue snowballed after Mahasamadhi in the period Jun to Aug 2011, I mentioned to the dept. faculty group in an email that if the HOD informs me IN WRITING not to allow students to associate with SSSVV, then I would drop it (and inform SSSVV folks of the HOD's instruction). But the HOD did not have the guts to do that. As then he could be pulled up by senior administrators. After all the deemed university was Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning and NOT the HOD's personally owned university.

But he used cunning tactics - what I call Shakuni Poison tactics. He poisoned the mind of the Vice-chancellor, Shashidhar Prasad, against me. Shashidhar Prasad had not interacted with me earlier and so he may have believed the poisonous stories the HOD painted about me. For example, the VC was told that I was CANVASSING for SSSVV, when all I was doing was informing students of the possibility of project work in SSSVV if they are interested. The HOD kept pestering me and finding fault with every single thing related to my work that he could. It was a horrible mental torture period for me.

Now in this situation I did inform Satyajit of the HOD giving me a rough time but he could not help. I am not surprised as after Mahasamadhi, Satyajit himself came under tremendous and very horrible verbal attacks from yellow media. Anyway, SSSVV was an external project. The HOD's Shakuni Poison tactics of targeting me due to my involvement with SSSVV was an internal matter for the university and not for SSSVV project team.

Eventually the thing blew up when the HOD asked me about job prospects related to SSSVV course that I had taught. I wrote to the software development company top person associated with SSSVV about such job prospects, clearly stating that it was a general purpose query (thereby implying that I was not asking for jobs for these students). The HOD raked that up by saying that I committed a big mistake by writing to the software development company man about it. I lost my cool and wrote some mocking email to the HOD. The HOD reacted by sending me an email asking me to stop all work in the dept. except for one M.Tech. CS project student that I was guiding. Now the HOD does not have the power to terminate a Visiting Faculty's services. That power lies with the office that grants permission to accept a Visiting Faculty's services which in this case was the Registrar along with the Director, Prasanthi Nilayam campus. But the HOD thought the dept. was his KINGDOM and committed a breach in academic procedure by writing me (cc to VC and Registrar) stopping me from further Visiting Faculty services (barring the exception of guiding one M.Tech. CS student for his project work).

When I sought an appointment with the VC on this matter he provided it to me. But the first thing the VC did when I entered his chambers was to SHOUT and SCREAM at me as if I had committed some murder!!! Later somebody told me that the HOD, who was/is a very moneyed man and was offering free service like me, had threatened to resign unless I was disciplined. The VC could not afford to lose the HOD at that time. I mean, given a choice between losing the HOD and me, he had to go for retaining the HOD and letting me go. Simple management decision.

However, the way the VC shouted & screamed at me put me off badly. He could have hinted to me that the HOD has threatened to resign; I would have understood and not held anything against the VC. At that time Puttaparthi was going through HELL. 35 Lacs cash seized in some car associated with somebody in the trust in end June 2011 just a couple of days after Yajur Mandir valuables & cash were transparently listed and deposited in a Bank, had refuelled all sorts of rumours about Puttaparthi money matters. When the VC shouted & screamed at me (in end Jul/early Aug 2011) I realized that in such a situation, irrespective of whether I am right or wrong, Bhagavan would expect me to bow down to the VC and cool his temper. The VC shouted at me whether he should call the HOD to his chambers. After seeing his anger I realized that the HOD may have tried his resignation-blackmail tactic (he had tried it successfully in the past to get a non-teaching honorary staff ejected out of the dept.) and so I responded that that was not required and said something on the lines of "I am learning to deal with sensitive zones". The VC cooled down and said something on the lines, "Do you know how many sensitive zones I am dealing with?" Later in that meeting as I had become a quiet mouse the VC hammered me more and said that as Visiting Faculty I should follow everything the HOD says or some words to that effect.

Now the HOD was incompetent and ignorant about software development and so me, being a nearly two decade international software consultant, was SURELY not going to LISTEN to that ignorant & incompetent in software development fellow's instructions. So I had no option but to part ways.

My anger with the VC was the manner in which he dealt with me. He could have simply stated in a cool way that in this dispute between HOD and Visiting Faculty, he has to go with the HOD and that if I cannot get along with the HOD, I would have to look elsewhere for my Seva activity. He need not have screamed at me. He need not have told me in an insulting way that as I was a Visiting Faculty I should listen to everything the HOD says. That's not the way the VC should have treated me who had served DMACS, free of charge, from Jan. 2003 till then (Jul/Aug. 2011). I was one year senior to the HOD in this service stint in the dept. Perhaps the VC did not know too much about me.

Ideally speaking the VC should have taken advise from senior faculty in the campus on the matter. They would have told him about the HOD being power-crazy. Ultimately the power to chastise the HOD was in the VC's hands. The VC seems to have capitulated to the resignation-blackmail threat of the HOD. That may have saved the situation for some time. But then blackmailers are always dangerous for the system. The HOD later (in 2014) was in the list of candidates for Vice-chancellor post to succeed Shashidhar Prasad!!! I got the shock of my life when I came to know that. Fortunately the trustees did not make the BLUNDER of making that HOD Vice-chancellor. But then who knows they might make him Vice-chancellor in the future in which case, I am sure, SSSIHL will land into great trouble.

Anyway, I am out of that mad fellow's control & power. I have documented my experiences including this long comment as information that Sai devotees should know as it is their money contributions, past & present, to the trust, that pays salaries and other expenses of SSSIHL staff. Further, other visiting faculty and even regular faculty should be aware of these kind of nasty politics that some administrators in SSSIHL have indulged in, in the past, and may indulge in, in the future.
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Thanks for your encouraging words and prayers. Self-respect and dignity - these are important to retain even when one is serving in Prasanthi Nilayam ashram or other ashram systems. Otherwise some bossy people mistake humble attitude as cowardice and ride all over you. This is my observation and experience in Prasanthi Nilayam ashram system.

See, the HOD got power-crazy. He is a workaholic and was providing free service. Somehow he fell into the trap of superiority complex thinking himself to be far more superior to others. If Swami was in physical form he would NOT have dared to do the actions he did as I would have offered a letter on the matter to Swami at Darshan time. The fear of me doing that would have kept him in check.

But when Swami Mahasamadhi happened there was a HUGE POWER VACUUM and HUGE SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP VACUUM. Within a matter of months the power equations in the university and other parts of Prasanthi ashram had dramatically changed. Fear of physical form Swami was gone. Now administrators were free to run the show the way THEY WANTED. When Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju himself got targeted by Shashidhar Prasad and other administrators, who was I? I was a NOBODY who could be just brushed away. If Swami was in physical form Shashidhar Prasad and other administrators could NOT have touched Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju in any way. Swami gave huge value to Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju.

About the canvassing for SSSVV part: When the VC made this charge against me in the first of my two nearly one hour meetings I had with him, I was very surprised. Bhagavan Himself had come to SSSIHL PN campus sometime in second half of 2010 and in the physical presence of Bhagavan, Satyajit had spoken about SSSVV and invited/requested interested persons from SSSIHL to associate/contribute to it. Yet, the HOD did not like me associating with it and allowing interested students to participate in it. It was COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR from the HOD and he should have been severely reprimanded for it. Instead I was severely reprimanded by the vice-chancellor for refusing to follow Adharmic approach of HOD who wanted me to stay away from SSSVV, and I was penalized for the success of my lab. course on SSSVV!!!

I should also say that the term canvassing seems to be a valid one in academic setup. The VC, who headed Mysore University (2 Lakh students, he told me, if I recall correctly), told me about situations in some university where there was intense competition between professors in a dept. to attract students to their projects. It seems that, at times, professors indulge in canvassing to students to attract them to their projects, and other professors take objection at such canvassing. Finally, in one situation, the VC told me that the students had to choose projects by drawing lots to avoid problems in the dept.

By now the HOD has hopefully learned from this event. But, very unfortunately, Indian academia seems to have many such cases of HOD and other administrators indulging in politics to block people and projects that they do not like. I came to know of that as I read up more about Indian academia and talked to Indian academics for my Indian CS/IT academic reform activism efforts (blog url: http://eklavyasai.blogspot.in/). One of the reasons for me blogging about these matters is to inform interested persons about such problems in Indian academia in general so that the situation can be improved.

Frankly, if I was dependent on some payment from SSSIHL for my living, I would have quietly OBEYED the HOD's hints of not associating with SSSVV, even when it was Bhagavan's PET project. As otherwise I would have lost my living and struggled to make ends meet. By the Grace of God, I was not financially dependent on SSSIHL, and was offering free service. So I decided to follow what I felt Bhagavan would want me to do rather than what the HOD or the VC or the Registrar wanted. And I am glad that I parted ways with SSSIHL in Mar. 2012, even though the parting was painful, as I think I now have been able to provide better service to Bhagavan and His mission of spreading Sathya, Dharma, Shanti & Prema in the world, by operating independent of SSSIHL (and even Sai orgn.), as an individual blogger. Jai Sairam!
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Regarding the service record matter I myself had written to the VC when I gave up on the matter (surrendered to Swami's will) in my mail dated May 29th 2012 (included in the post above) as follows:

After deep thought on the matter and some feedback from Puttaparthi Sai community elders/friends I have decided to surrender on this designation and service record matter to Swami's Will.
...
So, sir, I have decided as follows. I will go by the designations given to me by the Principal, PSN campus, SSSIHL and use that whenever required in my communications with MHRD, AICTE, IIT Madras (NPTEL), international CS/IT academic publications, international academic institutions etc. A TA (Teaching Assistant) designation will be considered to be a very junior designation which may, in all probability, result in almost any academic institution or publication, national or international, treat my views as that of a very junior person. So the only possibility of conflict with SSSIHL I see now is if SSSIHL reports my designation during my years of service at DMACS, SSSIHL as Teaching Assistant to any possible appropriate future requests made to it, say by MHRD, AICTE, international academic institutions etc. I pray earnestly to Bhagavan that such a conflict does not arise.

--- end mail to VC extracts ---

So I forgot about getting any statement/letter from SSSIHL regarding the services I have rendered to it. I am not so bothered about it now as I have all-but retired from software development field even from a free service (Seva) point of view.

Later (perhaps in June/July 2012), I had written to the VC about permission to use student feedback data on the SSSVV Lab. course I had run in SSSIHL in Jun-Jul 2011 in a paper that I was planning to submit to an academic publication, and which the Registrar had refused to provide me (the refusal was in writing) stating that such student feedback data is confidential. The VC's P.A. phoned me about a meeting the VC wanted to have with me in June/July 2012 (if I recall correctly) which, when I asked him about the matter, he said was in relation to this permission to use student feedback letter I had sent to the VC. I told the P.A. that I wanted the VC's response in writing (clearly indicating that I was not interested to meet the VC). I mean, was I mad to go to the VC's chambers again and have him shout & scream at me again!!! There was no written response from the VC to me. Some days later, when I came across the VC's P.A. on the main road in the street outside the ashram, the P.A. (elderly man) looked at me in a very funny and stern way!!! It was as if I had done some crime by refusing to meet the VC and asking the VC (through that P.A.) to send me a written response instead!

Regarding SSSVV being an external project (external to SSSIHL): Well, SSSIHL salaries and expenses are essentially met using SSSCT provided funds. It is OK for SSSCT to suggest SSSVV project as something SSSIHL could consider which is what I think was done.

Let me give some details: I believe, once I had shown interest, to support/encourage me a letter had been written by an SSSCT trustee/top-official to the VC, requesting that I be permitted to get involved with SSSVV, and which, I believe, was well received by the VC. This would have been in June 2011 before the HOD openly fought with me on SSSVV. I think that set the permissions round in SSSIHL with the HOD asking me to give him some formal letter on this matter in June 2011 and then I receiving a copy of the letter from the Registrar on SSSIHL letterhead to the HOD, providing me the requisite permission to interact with SSSVV team as well as the software company team involved with SSSVV software development. There was also an M.Tech. (CS) student who was doing a project about online school knowledge base (Ontology) where he was considering SSSVV as one such example of an online school knowledge base, and to whom I was providing technical consultancy support. Permission was also provided for this student to interact with SSSVV team.

I mean, the HOD probably realized that he could not block me as he would have known about SSSCT letter to VC, and so he had to give in at that time (June 2011).

But later, the HOD got taken aback by the extraordinary success of the two month lab. course on SSSVV that I ran in Jun-Jul 2011 with Satyajit & team also paying us a visit. Something nasty got triggered in him after that and he used nasty tactics to mentally harass me, trap me on something and then throw me out of the dept. by sending me an email with those orders CC to VC and Registrar, which he had no right to do and was a breach of academic procedure. The VC & Registrar kept quiet on it, clearly indicating that they are supportive of the HOD on the matter.

Now the point is, while nobody in SSSIHL, VC or Registrar or other administrators or any other colleagues in my dept. came to my assistance in this matter when the HOD threw me out, could not have SSSVV team and/or some SSSCT trustee/top-official who was aware of this matter, spoken to the VC about it?

Well, in normal circumstances, that is what should have happened. But the time was Jul/Aug 2011 (a few months after Mahasamadhi) when my fight with the HOD peaked, and May/Jun 2012 when I raised my service record request matter (just a year after Mahasamadhi). In Jul/Aug 2011 it was UTTER CHAOS in top echelons of Prasanthi Nilayam setup. We expected govt. to take over SSSCT anyday, anytime. In such a situation just forget about SSSVV team members saying anything about it at all. They just forgot about me and my problems, and focused on other severe problems that they had. The SSSCT trustee/top-official who would have been aware of this matter would also have been engulfed in far more serious matters dealing with keeping Prasanthi Nilayam setup going. So he too, even if he came to know of it, would have decided not to get involved.

In May/Jun 2012 when I raised the service record matter, things had calmed to significant extent. Govt. take-over possibility had diminished. SSSVV team could not interfere with the service record matter as that was an SSSIHL administration issue, and not directly related to SSSVV. But the SSSCT trustee/top-official who would have known about my involvement with SSSVV could certainly have put in a word to the VC (if he came to know about the service record matter). However, I was told that by that time the VC, Shashidhar Prasad, had become KING/DICTATOR of SSSIHL, and believed that Swami was giving dream instructions to Narasimhamurthy in Muddenahalli for Sai mission including SSSIHL, and so was not bothered about SSSCT. SSSCT had enough problems on its own plate even then (mid-2012) to get into a direct confrontation with VC, Shashidhar Prasad, on a small matter of one individual (me) being thrown out and not being given his service record.
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
I wrote that I retired from software development field including free service teaching of the same and not that I have retired from life altogether :-). Now I have changed my activities to be a writer primarily on spirituality & religion but also on some other matters of human interest. That suits me quite well and also seems to be of benefit to some people on the Internet. I do have some health challenges too which makes it very convenient for me to play this independent writer role away from orgn. politics like the nasty experience I had in SSSIHL which worsened my already fragile health.

I documented my record tampering and service record case via social media posts and comment exchanges (like this one) so that those who are interested to know about such matters can read it (if they know where it is), and take suitable steps to prevent it from happening to them if they get involved in such matters. So, for example, you know now my view of what happened with me in SSSIHL, and as you are in Indian academia (research scholar) you can take suitable precautions to prevent something like that happening to you in your future academic career. I am not interested in fighting for my service record with the MAD administrators of SSSIHL as I have better things to do via my writings on spirituality & religion.

I should also say that the HOD has said Sairam to me a few times when I had the misfortune of coming across him. I simply ignored him. I want to stay away from people like him. I am very happy being out of SSSIHL and working independently as a social media writer on spirituality & religion. Thanks.
-----

How many Sai university alumni serving in Prasanthi Nilayam managed institutions have put up official Alumni group declaration against Muddenahalli group, on their FB pages?

I refer to this declaration, https://www.facebook.com/groups/135091189986965/permalink/598382213657858/, put up on Shri Sudhir Joshi's Facebook page (which I shared on my FB page). [Note the contents of this declaration are available on this blog post of mine: http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2015/12/official-alumni-group-of-sathya-sai.html]

I think very few seem to be interested in making an OPEN DECLARATION in support of this official alumni declaration. Hmm. One wonders how many of those earning salaries from Prasanthi Nilayam, Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust (SSSCT) managed institutions are really hidden supporters of Muddenahalli group!

Or am I imagining things? I would be glad to be corrected and be told that all Sai university alumni working as salaried staff in Prasanthi Nilayam/SSSCT managed institutions do not believe in Muddenahalli so called subtle body claims and Muddenahalli so called communicator, and that they are LOYAL to Prasanthi Nilayam which is paying them their salaries.

It is becoming clear that loyalty is very important now. If somebody wants to support Muddenahalli group because of all the great buildings they are constructing and all the donations that seem to be pouring in there, the ethical thing would be for them to join Muddenahalli group rather than stay as salaried staff in Prasanthi Nilayam setup and be hidden supporters of Muddenahalli group. That sort of dual-loyalty/betrayal can be very, very damaging to one's spiritual growth, I am quite sure.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Official Alumni Group of Sathya Sai Educational Institutions managed by Prasanthi Nilayam/Puttaparthi condemns Muddenahalli FALSE CLAIMS

Last updated on 10th January 2016

Given below are contents of a recent Facebook post of mine, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/1682681738615063.

Update on 10th Jan. 2016: As it is over a month since brother Sri Sudhir Joshi put up the FB post shared below about official alumni group announcement, WITHOUT any such announcement from official SSSIHL sources or any other official Sai institution source, I have to say that the announcement CANNOT BE VIEWED AS AN OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT OF Sai educational institutions alumni! That is really disappointing! I don't think I will blame Sai fraternity if they suspect whether official Sai alumni group is a HIDDEN SUPPORTER of Muddenahalli false belief? I mean, the situation is so murky now that one does not know whom to trust in this Muddenhalli muddle.
--- end update ---

Sudhir Joshi sir on FB chat informed me that he had confirmed the matter given in his shared post below with a responsible official. So I consider his FB post shared below to be AUTHENTICATED and also suitable for PUBLIC SHARING.

The opening sentence of the declaration is, "We, Alumni of Sri Sathya Sai Educational Institutions founded and nurtured by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba during His Physical sojourn on this earth, and under the aegis of Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust totally condemn and distance ourselves from the happenings at Muddenahalli."

Wonderful! I am so happy to see the official Alumni group/association of SSSIHL (Sai university) and schools run by SSSCT (Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust) take this crisp and unambiguous stand PUBLICLY. As a former teacher in SSSIHL, PN campus (Jan. 2003 to Mar. 2012), I hope that all SSSIHL (Sai university) alumni as well as former & current faculty & non-teaching staff of SSSIHL will study this declaration very closely and make this stand their own stand as well. It will be wonderful if SSSIHL alumni and staff including faculty put up this declaration on their Facebook pages as then it will be clear to the worldwide Sai devotee fraternity where they stand on this matter.

#swamineedsnomedium

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Sudhir Joshi sir's shared FB post contents are given below:

Official Alumni Stand on Muddenahalli

Dear all,

Loving Sairam...!!!!

Reproduced below is the Official Stand of the Alumni of the Sri Sathya Sai Alumni of the Sri Sathya Sai Primary and Higher Secondary School, Prashanti Nilayam, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning- Prashanti Nilayam, Brindavan , Anantpur and Muddenahalli Campus and under the aegis of Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust on Muddenahalli for your information and immediate wider dissemination through all platforms of social media.

Warm regards,

Sudhir Joshi

*********

Official Alumni Stand on Muddenahalli

AUM SRI SAI RAM

We, Alumni of Sri Sathya Sai Educational Institutions founded and nurtured by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba during His Physical sojourn on this earth, and under the aegis of Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust totally condemn and distance ourselves from the happenings at Muddenahalli. The happenings there are completely opposite to what Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba exhorted us to practice. All alumni who have passed out of the portals of the Sri Sathya Sai Primary and Higher Secondary School, Prashanti Nilayam, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning- Prashanti Nilayam, Brindavan , Anantpur and Muddenahalli Campus and under the aegis of Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust are hereby advised not to associate themselves in any manner whatsoever with the Muddenahalli setup. We all are aware what Bhagavan mentioned in his own divine voice about direct heart to heart connection he has with each and every devotee ……..a recap “Talking of faith, I must issue a warning. Many people are collecting money in various places using My Name for various purposes like arranging receptions, building temples, doing Puja, etc. That is unauthorised and against My wish and command. Do not yield to such requests and encourage this practice, which I condemn. “There is another set of people who trade on your faith. They advertise that I am 'talking' through a medium or some other thing. Treat all such people and their agents or brokers as you treat cheats; if you do not treat them so, then you are also accomplices in the cheating process.” “There are others who gather groups of followers and admirers and collect money. They even declare, ‘Baba sent me to you to take from you some money’ or ‘Baba has given me this’ or ‘Baba blessed me specially thus and thus’ and then ask for your help or your praise or your purse! I ask you to chastise all these types of men and turn them away, whoever they are.” Excerpts from Discourse on 25th November 1962 at Prashanti Nilayam. "NOW" too Swami responds to all our prayers, guides and protects all his devotees "DIRECTLY”. We have been witnessing numerous Vibhuti manifestations, nectar manifestations, appearances in physical form, in dreams, in visions, in letters even today by thousands of devotees across the globe. There are numerous devotees who have seen and experienced Bhagavan sitting in the chair, walking on the verandah, materialisation of Vibhuti in the hands of devotees seated in Darshan line, speaking to them in the same voice even to this day in Sai Kulwant Hall. We are all aware that Bhagavan is Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient.

Recollecting Bhagavan Sri Satya Sai Baba’s Easwaramma Day discourse in 06 May 2001 he mentioned "That night, mother Easwaramma came to Me with tears in her eyes and said, "Swami, people want to take You here and there for their selfish purposes. If you leave Puttaparti, I will give up My life. Please promise me that You will remain in Puttaparti forever." I gave her My word that I would never ever leave Puttaparti. It is for this reason that I have constructed many buildings in the ashram for the comfort and convenience of devotees. "- Last but not the least, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba always taught us the principle of “simple living and high thinking”. On the contrary any individual/organisation who go on resorting to cheap marketing gimmicks and yet proclaim that they are worshipping Bhagavan through outward, symbolic acts, are trespassing the very core human values imbibed by all Sathya Sai Seva Organisations. Beware of such group of individuals/organisations.

Brothers! Does someone has to tell/teach us now, the same teachings of Bhagavan again? Did not each one receive in abundance, limitless and beyond measure, his teachings, love and grace directly in this Avatar’s lifetime? Is it not enough for each one of us to cherish, relive and be grateful for those wonderful heart filled memories bestowed on us by the Lord...... unto eternity?

We hereby caution all the alumni again to be alert and desist from associating with such groups/organisations and be true to the Institutions set up by Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, and, of which we all have been beneficiaries and recipients of Bhagavan’s love and grace.

-Alumni of Sri Sathya Sai Primary and Higher Secondary School, Prashanti Nilayam, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning- Prashanti Nilayam, Brindavan , Anantpur and Muddenahalli Campus and under the aegis of Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust

Sairam

Issued on: Sunday, 6 December 2015.
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