Smear campaign against Sai Baba
Dr Vijaya Rajiva
The nation has been mourning the death of Sri Satya Sai Baba,an outstanding religious figure and considered by many Hindus both in India and abroad as a godly figure. During the funeral ceremony he was referred to as an avatar purusha and a siddha purusha. Since his spiritual mission began in the 50s he has been an inspirational figure in the Indian landscape.
His message of peace and universalism are in the best traditions of Hinduism. He has advocated peace and amity amidst the multi religious, mutlti ethnic population of India. He has provided solace and comfort to millions of Hindus and confirmed them in their faith. Above all, his social work and the many projects that he instituted such as providing irrigation to drought ridden areas, starting educational institutions, starting state of the art medical institutions and hospitals (where all service is free) mark him not only as a great religious figure in modern India, but also as a great social reformer.
However, within days of his demise, some articles have started to appear questioning the spirituality of Satya Sai Baba and even making wild unsubstantiated allegations, accusing him of all crimes under the sun. This trend has been there from the earliest years of Baba’s spiritual career and is clearly the result of a combination of trends.
The first, ofcourse, is the age old attempt by the two monotheistic faiths (Islam and Christianity) to denigrate everything connected to Hinduism and Hindu India. The Christian attempt began as early as the 18th century and continues to the present day. It has been well documented in the recent book published by well known intellectual in the Indian diaspora Rajiv Malhotra in his path breaking book Breaking India (2011, co authored by Aravindan Neelakandhan).
The smear campaign against Baba fits into this category. Several unsavoury characters are associated with this, but the most important one is the fundamentalist and evangelist Christian Tal Brooke who hates the non monotheistic faiths with a sacred passion. His writings are deliberately calculated to tarnish the religious figures of Hinduism of whom the most well known both within India and internationally is Sri Satya Sai Baba. Tal Brooke has tried to propagate the notion that all Gurus are in a state of perfect demon possession and that all Eastern philosophy, New Age Beliefs and Hindu beliefs are evil paths leading to Satan.
This is reminiscent of the European Middle Ages, where all evil resided with Satan. It is estimated that 99% of the scurrilous writings against Sai Baba are inspired by Tal Brooke’s work. None of the allegations have ever been proven. They remain the wild ravings of an evangelist and his camp followers.
He has drawn into his net some Hindus also who are ignorant of Hindu traditions and are eager to be more Roman than the Romans, as it were. Some are genuinely ignorant and some have an agenda made attractive by financial and other inducements. Some are just talking wildly about a subject they know very little about, but want to be considered ‘cool.’
They manage temporarily at least togather a following among the young college going crowd.
Interestingly, some even consider themselves patriots who want to bring economic development to their country. Their schemes are uneven and are somewhat impractical and unrealistic, as for instance the scheme of urbanizing all of India’s villages ! Beware of the Greek who comes bearing gifts !
Hindus have to be doubly vigilant. Senior journalist Sandhya Jain has written a definitive article on the exposure of at least one prominent smear campaigner against Satya Sai. This is Alaya Rahm whose wild allegations caused the BBC to produce the sensational program The Secret Swami (2004) and broadcast the world over. Jain examines the fraudulent case and its subsequent withdrawal in ‘Move to malign Sai Baba fails’ (The Pioneer, 31 March, 2009).
Millions of devout Hindus worship Baba as a godly figure. They have been spat upon by the evangelical crowd, both national and international. But the wannabe bringers of their brand of Enlightenment, their dogmas of monotheism and so on, are doomed to fail. And, Hindus will continue to defend a great and ancient civilization against all assaults. This is not the first time that Hindu India has had to bear the attacks against their religious figures and it won’t be the last.
(The writer taught Political Philosophy at a Canadian university).