do attacks on swami have any message for us?
An In-Depth Inquiry
By Prof. G. Venkataraman
*AN IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION*
The article that follows is our response to one that appeared some time ago in an online news service entitled, "NEWS FROM BANGLADESH [NFB]". Founded in 1996, NFB is an online news monitoring service, directed to some extent to expatriate Bangladeshis. Its web site is: http://bangladesh-web.com.
Our article is a response to one written by a person named Haraldur Erlendsson, who claims to be in Stockholm, Sweden, and whose email ID is given as: [email protected]
We gather that the name Haraldur Erlendsson is not unusual, especially in Iceland, and we wish to make it VERY clear that our article has reference ONLY to the person who wrote an article some time ago in NFB, maligning the good name of Sathya Sai Baba of India, and TO NO ONE ELSE WHO HAPPENS TO BEAR THE SAME NAME.
PART 1: WHY THIS ARTICLE?
Right from the forties of the twentieth century, a small minority has
always attacked Swami. While the types of people who engaged in
slander, their status in life as also their nationalities have varied,
the attacks have remained, in some form or the other. By and large, we ignore all such mud-slinging, not merely because they are so hollow that it is a complete waste of time to engage
in rebuttal, but also for the reason that we cannot stoop to such low
levels. Yet, occasionally, we have come out of our shell to present
facts, because in these exceptional cases, the circumstances have
warranted such action.
Recently, there has been one more attack and this article is in the
nature of not only a detailed reply but also an analysis about why such
negativity is spread in the first place. Actually, although in recent
years the attacks by a small but determined group overseas has somewhat
diminished [probably because there are fewer takers for the same old
nonsense repeated endlessly], the particular attack to which a detailed
rebuttal is being offered is not only somewhat different but also quite
sinister in scope. The hidden agenda behind the latest outburst is
explained in the article, but here I would like to say that but for
this lurking danger behind this latest attack, we would have hardly
bothered to comment. And having decided to reply, we thought we might
also address the deeper question of why Avatars have enemies!
Loving Sai Ram and greetings from Prasanthi Nilayam. We are now into
the eighth year of the new century and a new millennium as well. As
always, everyone is hoping and praying that at least this year would,
1) see the turning of the tide, 2) herald the advent of peace, 3) bring
joy to all, and 4) spread harmony everywhere. But such is the nature of
the real world, there are always forces that seek to destabilise; that,
however, is inevitable and indeed in the very nature of things.
Mercifully, quite often these forces are inconsequential and can be
ignored, even as we proceed with our normal business. That said, it is
a fact that there are times when we simply cannot afford to be so
casual or indifferent; this special article is meant to call attention
to that truth.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba
As our readers know, for many years, there has been a small but at
times a rather vocal group, intent on smearing Swami, His message, His
numerous projects [that bring help and succour to the helpless], and
also the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation.
Generally, we ignore such
negative propaganda but when the unfounded accusations tend to acquire
serious overtones, we do feel the necessity to set the record straight.
We have done this occasionally in the past, and we feel compelled to do
so once more, because alas, there is this time, apart from the
repetition of familiar charges, a rather alarming overtone to the
attack. That and the fact that, I have personally been named several
times and accused implicitly of being a ‘spin-doctor’, compels me to
express myself once more.
In brief, the present provocation comes in the form of an article
written by one Haraldur Erlendsson, an Icelander now resident in
Sweden. This article has been specially written for an on-line newspaper published from
Bangladesh, and it is this fact that gives special significance to the
latest onslaught. Basically, the article seeks, apart from a repetition
of familiar accusations, to portray Swami as an anti-Muslim, which, of
course, we all know to be totally untrue. It is this particular aspect
that compels me to return to the task of responding to falsehood
packaged as “truth”, something that I do rather reluctantly, for, I
would rather spend my time discussing positive matters.
Before I start, there are a few points I would like to make clear.
Firstly, whatever I say is merely with an interest to present facts; I
bear no particular ill-will to those who wish to see evil where there
is none. I am no saint and some years earlier, I would have blown hot
and cold when involved in such rebuttals. However, I now realise after
a careful study of the Bhagavad Gita, Swami’s teachings, and
those of Jesus as well, that it is not good to harbour anger or hate
towards anyone. Indeed, to do so would be going against the very spirit
of Swami’s teachings, which are all about pure and unselfish Love.
Keeping this in mind, I shall do my best to present facts, without
malice or ill-will. So, help me God!
What follows is presented in five parts. I start with a response to
some of the old allegations, repeated this time by Haraldur Erlendsson.
I then turn my attention to the main point, namely the subject of Swami
and His relationship with Muslims. After that, I offer a brief look
into the so-called “Muslim angle” and its complex relationship to
Indian history; without some idea of this, one would not be in a
position to understand why both Shirdi Baba and Swami have always
emphasised communal amity. In the concluding part, I do something which
I have not attempted before, namely, discussing the whole issue of
“enemies” from a larger philosophical and spiritual angle. That roughly
is the road map I intend to follow.