The Avatar in the Scientific Era

Sathya Sai Baba

Chandima H. de SILVA

Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, who is God in human form to millions of His devotees, is a highly revered spiritual leader and world teacher, whose life and message are inspiring millions of people throughout the world to turn God-ward and to lead more purposeful and moral lives.

His timeless and universal teachings, along with the manner in which he leads his own life, are attracting seekers of Truth from all the religions of the world. Yet, he is not seeking to start a new religion. Nor does he wish to direct followers to any particular religion. Rather, he urges us to continue to follow the religion of our choice and/or upbringing.

Sathya Sai Baba publicly declared his mission in 1940, at the age of 14. Since then, he has daily exhibited in practical and concrete terms the highest ideals of truth (sathya), right conduct (dharma), peace (shanthi), love (prema), and nonviolence (ahimsa). He has often stated, “My life is my message.”

Each day, hundreds of pilgrims make their way to Puttaparthi, the tiny hamlet in southern India where Sathya Sai Baba’s ashram (spiritual headquarters) is located. They come not only from India but from virtually every country of the world.

Over the years, followers have organised to foster the construction of a variety of buildings and facilities to house and otherwise accommodate the ever-increasing number of visitors. The name of Sathya Sai Baba’s ashram is Prasanthi Nilayam, which means “abode of the highest peace”.

Sathya Sai Baba interacts with all people on a heart-to-heart basis. There are no intermediaries between himself and those who yearn for knowledge and experience of God. Every day for more than 60 years, Sathya Sai Baba has walked among and talked with the spiritual pilgrims who gather around him in increasing numbers.

He offers solace and inspiration to all sincere seekers of truth. Sathya Sai Baba encourages us to recognise who we are. We are not these minds. We are not these bodies. We are the eternal spirit that temporarily occupies these minds and bodies. We can appreciate and become who we really are by turning inward with faith in God and an intense yearning to know Him.

Our conscience is a reflection of the eternal spirit. Sathya Sai Baba tells us that our conscience is our master. When we follow our conscience, our thoughts, words, and deeds will be noble and consistent.

Spirituality, according to Bhagavan Baba, is having the courage and determination to follow our conscience in all things and at all times. In doing so, we recognise that we are all united in God. We are bound together by divine love.

“I have come to light the lamp of love in your hearts, to see that it shines day by day with added luster. I have come to tell you of this universal, unitary faith, this spiritual principle, this path of love, this duty of love, this obligation to love.

Every religion teaches man to fill his being with the glory of God and to evict the pettiness of conceit. It trains him in the methods of non-attachment and discernment, so that he may aim high and attain spiritual liberation.

Believe that all hearts are motivated by the one and only God; that all faiths glorify the one and only God; that all names in all languages and all forms man can conceive denote the one and only God.

His adoration is best done by means of love. Cultivate that attitude of oneness between men of all creeds and all countries. That is the message of love I bring. That is the message I wish you to take to heart.”

At the age of 14, Sathya Sai Baba thus declared to his parents that he had come to this world with a mission to re-establish the principle of Righteousness, to motivate love for God and service to fellow beings.

Since then, he has consistently called on all mankind to Love All, Serve All and has repeatedly asserted that the essence of all scriptures is Help Ever, Hurt Never!

Through his speeches and writings, Sathya Sai Baba has offered a veritable ocean of knowledge and guidance on all aspects of spiritual, religious, and value-oriented living.

He has often repeated that it is not necessary to drink the whole ocean to know its taste, that it is not necessary to read all scriptures to live a life of joy, peace, and love. It is enough to put into practice one aspect of spiritual teaching.

With the aid of many thousands of active service workers Sri Sathya Sai Baba runs major projects to help poor and suffering people in India and inspires and supports many others.

All this work is done anonymously by members of the Organisation with no publicity or public fund-raising, which Swami strictly forbids. The Sathya Sai Organisation in many communities in India provides free services like village hygiene, sound basic education in human values and home industry etc.

Outside India there are well over 10,000 Sathya Sai centres and many thousand more groups spread throughout the world where the organisation is represented do selfless service, primarily for the direct benefit of the poor, for refugees, the homeless, the aged and many other kinds of needy and suffering people.

A most significant event for the population of a large part of the poor state of Andhra Pradesh was the inauguration on Sai Baba’s 70th birthday of the enormous Rayalaseema water project.

In the presence of a crowd of about 200,000, the President of India officially started the turbines that opened this project, which brings a year-round water supply to each of over 750 villages and several towns in this dry state that were often without any water previously, which caused much suffering.

Sathya Sai Baba demonstrates that it is the duty of society to ensure that all people have access to the basic requirements for the sustenance of human life. Sathya Sai Baba has built an ultra-modern 300-bed hospital close to the university and ashram.

Highly specialised surgical operations, including open-heart operations and kidney transplants, are performed routinely. There is absolutely no charge from the patient for professional or hospital expenses.

Motivated by the desire to serve humanity, doctors, nurses, and workers in the hospital (most of whom are Sai devotees) render extraordinary, compassionate, and loving care to all patients. Establishment of this most modern and spacious Sri Sathya Sai Super Specialty Hospital in Puttaparthi could be undoubtedly described as a milestone in Swami’s selfless service to humanity.

All services at this hospital including complicated surgeries are done free of charge. Leading surgeons from Italy, USA, UK and India work gratis for the hospital. The infection rate at this hospital is reported to be 0.8%, which would be quite extraordinary even in Britain or the US. The mortality rate here is less than 2%, which is regarded as virtually unprecedented.

As a unique service activity, the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation of Sri Lanka has established the Sathya Sai Suva Sevana in Hanwella, a 50-bed centre for Symptom Control and Palliative Care of Cancer patients. Due to financial constraints, this centre presently provides services to a limited number of patients but the Organisation hopes to enhance its services in the near future.

Sathya Sai Baba places great importance on proper education for young people. Parents and community leaders are urged to concern themselves with the informal as well as the formal experiences to which their children and young adults are exposed.

Bhagavan Baba has established a model education system, which includes primary schools, secondary schools, and an accredited university with three campuses, offering undergraduate, Masters, and Ph.D. degrees.

No fees are charged from students, and admission is open to all, regardless of race, religion, or economic condition. In addition to emphasising the pursuit of academic excellence, Sathya Sai Baba’s system of “integral education” is designed to foster self-discipline and pro-social conduct.

Students are required to take courses on morality and spirituality and to devote several hours each week to some form of community service. Sathya Sai Baba often says that “the end of education is character”.

In keeping with these Divine teachings of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the Sathya Sai organisation in Sri Lanka established its first Sathya Sai School in Manipay, Jaffna where, at present, classes are conducted from grade one to grade six.

Already, more than a dozen Sathya Sai colleges have been built in India, admitting several thousands of students annually. These are all run through private donations, as there are numerous Sathya Sai schools, male and female colleges and one central university, the Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning.

These institutions are regarded as the foremost educational centres in a number of Indian States. Sri Sai Baba predicted many years ago, when it seemed incredible, that there will eventually be at least one major Sai College in each State of India.

The Sathya Sai Education in Human Values (SSEHV) for young people from 6 to 16 years of age and a Trust for that purpose were inaugurated by Sri Sai Baba in 1981. SSEHV is a universal system of spiritual education, not bound specifically to any particular religion, sect, Church or other single system of moral belief.

The five human values truth, right action (righteousness), peace (of mind), love and non-violence, which are the most universal ideals in all world religions and cultures form the basis of SSEHV.

Whether Sri Sai Baba is the avataric incarnation of Vishnu come again to save the world from the crisis caused by its periodic decline in righteousness is a question of personal conviction, for no one can fully perceive and know the true nature of such omniscient and omnipresent divine incarnations.

In conclusion, let us quote Swami:

“Propagate the ideals of true education in the four corners of the world. Sacrifice everything for the sake of truth and tread along this sacred path. Truth is God; Love is God; Live in Love; Live in Truth.

Imbibe these principles. Once you are along the path of love and truth, you will gain all wealth and wisdom. Be steady, do not waver. Students of our institutions live up to these ideals and bring a good name to the Institute.

There is no Institution comparable to our institution in this country. Business has taken over education right from K.G. (Kindergarten) to P.G. (Post Graduate) in other institutions. But our institute is based on sacrifice.

Foster this sacred quality of sacrifice. Offer education to your fellow beings free of cost. The Vedas declared, “Na Karmana, Na Prajaya, Dhanena Thyagenaike, Amrutatwa Manasuh”, immortality can be attained only through sacrifice and not through wealth, progeny or action. Be prepared to sacrifice. True Yoga lies in sacrifice. The Vedas declared,

Sahanavavathu, Sahana Bhunakthu,
Sahaveeryam Karavaavahai Tejaswi
Navadheethamasthu Ma Vidhvisavahai

(Let us all move together and grow together; Let us grow in intelligence working together; Let us live in friendship without any conflict)


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