Brian Steel – Spanish Translator & Internet Propagandist

Information About Brian Steel:
Brian Steel is a Spanish translator and editor living in Australia. He is currently an ex-devotee of the Indian Guru, Sri Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi, India. Brian Steel is an obsessive, rambling and nitpicking critic who cannot make a sober or consistent argument against his former guru. While Brian Steel was a devotee of Sathya Sai Baba, he wrote the following books favorable to the guru’s cause and movement:

  • A Basic Dictionary for Sai Baba Devotees and Others
  • The Sathya Sai Baba Compendium. A Guide to the First 70 Years
  • The Powers of Sathya Sai Baba

Although ex-devotees refer to Brian Steel as a “scholar” and a “linguistics expert”, he does not list any credentials on his websites (nor have any publishers made mention to any credentials he may possess). Therefore, the “scholar” and “expert” claims attributed to Brian Steel are unsupported, subjective statements not rooted in fact.

Brian Steel is the webmaster for the following websites/blogs:


Brian Steel’s Comments About The English Translations To Sathya Sai Baba’s Telugu Discourses:
Brian Steel wrote a long-winded article about the “packaging” of Sathya Sai Baba’s discourses. While wading (knee deep) through Brian Steel’s article, I discovered that his entire argument is inherently flawed. To prove my point, let us look at some actual quotes from Brian Steel regarding the English translations to Sathya Sai Baba’s Telugu discourses: Brian Steel: “SSB’s actual words, sentences, and speaking style, have often been submerged in a heavily edited, polished and sophisticated written version.” Brian Steel (Regarding The Editing Of Sathya Sai Baba’s Discourses): “1. Change of sentence style from simple to more complex and sophisticated; 2. Condensation of the spoken original; 3. Enhancement or clarification of sentences or paragraphs; 4. Relocation of information to an earlier or later paragraph, making the whole Discourse more cohesive and stylistically sophisticated; 5. Omission of words, sentences, pages, or facts; and 6. Editor’s additions and adornments.” Brian Steel: “The changes are such that the two products, while conveying (more or less) the same spiritual concepts, are very different sets of communications, as if from two different persons. As has already been hypothesised, this calls into question the exact nature of SSB’s words, for those devotees who wish to quote from written sources alone, or to study the precise words of wisdom in Study Circles. (That, in fact, is ironic: Devotees in SSB Centres all over the world spend regular hours minutely analysing and commenting on short sections of SSB’s Discourses. The concepts, sentences, and phraseology are commented on in minute detail and squeezed for deep spiritual meanings, in the sincere belief that the words and style (as well as the concepts) are SSB’s!” Brian Steel: “It is not therefore surprising that many (perhaps most) devotees seem to regard the volumes of Sathya Sai Speaks reverently as ‘Gospel’ truth. However, it may come as a surprise to them (they may even be offended) to be told that they are NOT being given a close translation of SSB’s words in these official magazines and printed volumes, but a very highly edited version (with significant additions and omissions, as we shall see), produced by Organisation editors – initially Kasturi himself, later other equally erudite close associates of Baba.” Brian Steel: “Have the printed Discourses always been so distant from the original spoken versions in both style and content?” Brian Steel: “In view of the minute attention accorded by devotees to all of SSB’s words and actions, we may ask once more: How is it possible for SSB’s ‘words’ – as opposed to his teachings – to be quoted with any accuracy?” Brian Steel: “However, as we are now beginning to see, particularly with the ‘Premsai’ evidence, what is eventually printed for wide circulation really becomes more of a hybrid form, a condensation (and sometimes a selection) of SSB’s words, ideas and concepts, significantly enhanced by the editors’ language and stylistic skills.” Brian Steel: “Glib spokespersons and devotees-in-denial should compare these 8 official literal translations with the official packaged versions to get further evidence of the degree of packaging of their guru’s words.”

Brian Steel Completely Contradicts Himself:
Based on the quotes cited earlier, Brian Steel clearly stated that the English translations to Sathya Sai Baba’s Telugu discourses are not what Sathya Sai Baba actually and literally said in Telugu. Brian Steel cited about a dozen examples to illustrate his point. The examples that Brian Steel used do show that those particular English discourse sections were heavily modified and/or edited. Consequently, according to Brian Steel, the English translations are not the actual words and phrases used by Sathya Sai Baba in his original, Telugu discourses.

It is Brian Steel’s opinion that Sathya Sai Baba’s discourses are “packaged, highly edited, polished, condensed, enhanced, inaccurate, distant, different, adorned, significantly added to, snipped and hybridized”. These points are important to remember, because after Brian Steel made his case against the integrity of the English translations, he flip-flopped and cited these very same flawed English translations (yes, the ones he said were “packaged, highly edited, polished, condensed, enhanced, inaccurate, distant, different, adorned, significantly added to, snipped and hybridized”) to attribute literal inaccuracies and discrepancies directly to Sathya Sai Baba!

When it comes to Brian Steel’s “packaging” sermon, the English translations are inaccurate, changed considerably and do not reflect what Sathya Sai Baba literally said in Telugu. However, when it comes to perceived contradictions and inconsistencies, Brian Steel cited these very same “packaged” English translations as accurate and factual references to critique what Sathya Sai Baba actually said in Telugu. Brian Steel is trying to have it both ways. He can’t.

As if Brian Steel’s contradictory argument is not embarassing enough, he does not speak, understand or write Telugu. Consequently, Brian Steel is at a sore disadvantage in that every single fault he finds in the English translations are implausible guesses as to what Sathya Sai Baba might have said in Telugu.

Brian Steel is basing his critiques solely on the English translations. One would think that the only rational approach to critiquing Baba’s discourses would be to have a person who is fluent in Telugu to point out the alleged discrepancies. However, Brain Steel does not know Telugu. Therefore, Brian Steel’s entire works of contrasting, comparing and critiquing is of little practical value. This sums up my entire argument against Brain Steel’s “packaging” sermon.

Translation Considerations And Hermeneutics:
Brian Steel has personal problems with the way Sathya Sai Baba’s discourses are “packaged”. Brian Steel casually dismissed the intricacies and perplexities that often face language translations. There are many devotees and ex-devotees, students and ex-students (for example, Meenakshi Srikanth) who have claimed that Sathya Sai Baba is a brilliant and excellent Telugu orator who’s simple, poetic and elegant style reveal a profound mastery of the Telugu language. Anyone who is bilingual can clearly understand the translation obstacles in maintaining the purity and essence of the original written or spoken word. This can clearly be seen in the Old Testament where there are numerous contradictions that must be reconciled with the original Hebrew words. However, even then, Hebrew scholars disagree with each other on hermeneutics. Such is the case with the translation hurdles that must be overcome when translating Sathya Sai Baba’s discourses from simple, poetic and elegant Telugu (which are full of subtle, complex nuances) into English.

The English Translation Is The Proof Plate For Other Languages:
There are two times when Sathya Sai Baba’s Telugu discourses are translated into English. The first time is when a translator gives an on-the-spot translation while Sathya Sai Baba is speaking. The second time is after the discourse when the original Telugu discourse is re-translated (from audio tape) into English for publication. This accounts for the discrepancies between what one hears during the discourse (on-the-spot translation) and what one reads after the discourse (examined translation). Apparently, Brian Steel does not understand this.

The English translations are proof plates for translations made into other languages. Consequently, the English version must be edited so that it presents the most direct and concise version of the discourse. This allows for a more accurate and consistent translation into other languages.

Brian Steel also faulted the translations because they present “an inaccurate picture of Baba’s public speaking personality and style”. No translation can convey a person’s “public speaking personality and style”. If people want to know Sathya Sai Baba’s “public speaking personality and style”, they should watch a video or watch him in person. No one can accurately assess a person’s “public speaking personality and style” by reading his/her words on paper.

“On-The-Spot” Notes And A 0.04% Error Rate:
Brian Steel cited devotee’s “on the spot notes” made during Sathya Sai Baba’s discourses. This goes from bad to worse. Anyone who has ever heard one of Sathya Sai Baba’s discourses knows that many times Sathya Sai Baba cuts off the translator before he finishes translating. Not only that, but Sathya Sai Baba’s discourses are fast paced (something Brian Steel acknowledged). To keep up with the English translation (or make one’s own translation) is a difficult thing to do! Making notes is bound to result in profound errors on the part of the person who is trying to keep up with the discourse.

On Brian’s appendix page (at one will find comparisons between various versions to Sathya Sai Baba’s discourses. One of the examples used by Brian Steel is a Yugadi Discourse that was translated from Telugu into Tamil and then translated again from Tamil into English (talk about being desperate to find errors). This is bound to end up with substantial errors. These are the extents to which Brian Steel is willing to go to prove that there are alleged discrepancies in Sathya Sai Baba’s discourses.

It isimportant to point out that out that there are approximately 1,200 discourses published between 1953-1997, hundreds of discourses published between 1997-2003 and about 90 discourses published between 2003-2004. There are also over a hundred Vahinis and hundreds of discourses given during the Summer Showers. Conservatively, there are 1,600 discourses and speeches given by Sathya Sai Baba from 1953-2004. Brian Steel has found discrepancies in three full discourses and snippets from other discourses (not numbering more than 60 on his and other Anti-Sai websites). This would comprise discrepancies in 0.04% of Sathya Sai Baba’s discourses! Even so, I have not seen how any of Brian Steel’s cited discrepancies detract from Sathya Sai Baba’s main message.

Brian Steel Attempted To Cite “premasai” As An Authority:
Brian Steel cited what he contended were “literal translations” taken from the website (which is no longer online). This site was run by unnamed devotees who published “thoughts for the day” and Sathya Sai Baba’s discourses in nine languages. Brian Steel argued that these premasai translations were “literal translations” based on the authority of unknown devotees who made that claim. Brian Steel knows nothing about the translators (including their names). Since Brian Steel does not speak, write or understand Telugu, he cannot say, with any certainty, that the translations on the “premasai” website were “literal translations”. How does Brian Steel not know that these devotees may have enhanced or edited the translations to reflect their devotion to Sathya Sai Baba? How can Brian Steel accept the word of devotees when he considers them mislead, given to excessive exaggerations, belonging to a cult and being brainwashed? These are the un-scholarly standards with which Brian Steel attempted to make a case against Sathya Sai Baba.

Brian Steel And The Sathya Sai Baba Birthday Debate:
Sathya Sai Baba Birthday Debate – A Full Response

Brian Steel – Email Correspondence:
Click Here to view my email correspondence with Brian Steel and his immature reactions to my article about him. Brian Steel is a person who is highly critical of others. However, when others write something critical about him, he hurls insults and throws flaming hissy fits without even being properly or fully informed (admittedly)! One would think a so-called “scholar” and “linguistics expert” would respond more intelligently and soberly. Apparently that is not the case with Brian Steel.

Sathya Sai Baba And The Yadalams Of Bukkapatnam

Bhagavan Baba

Bhagavan Baba

Sathya Sai Baba And The Yadalams of Bukkapatnam
They had known the sublime in Bhagawan

Literature on the experiences of devotees of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba particularly in the 50’s and before, are full of reference to the Yadalam family of Bukkapatnam, who provided refreshment and conveyance for pilgrims heading towards Puttaparthi.

The family they talked about was that of Yadalam Venkataramanappa and Yadalam Nagamma. They were one of the first families outside Puttaparthi to recognise Bhagawan’s divinity.

They became devotees of Bhagawan in a very interesting manner. Yadalam Venkataramanappa had come to Puttaparthi hearing of Bhagawan’s glory. He had in mind three questions that he intended to ask Bhagawan: his own health, his business and his daughter’s family problem. When he arrived at Puttaparthi, he was disheartened to see a huge crowd of devotees in front of the house where Bhagawan was staying. Venkataramanappa lost hope and stood at the rear. Within a few minutes, Bhagawan sent for him. Venkataramanappa was taken by surprise, more so when Bhagawan recounted all the problems and assured the latter of His grace and protection. Venkataramanappa then invited Bhagawan to his house at Bukkapatnam, offered Him padapuja and even took Him out in a decorated procession.

Bhagawan became a regular visitor to the Yadalam house. He was very playful with the entire family. He proudly wore the garlands they made and went about singing songs. He would even take out ornaments family heirlooms, put them on and ask others how He looked. When His legs ached out of exhausting walks, Yadalam Nagamma would arrange hot water, turmeric powder and amudham oil for His bath.

The Yadalams were the first people to get a robe made for Bhagawan. It was light grey in colour and not of full length. Bhagawan materilised a Peetham (pedestal) to keep idols. He did not give any idol. He said, “I am here in the centre of the Peetham. On either side me stand Parvathi and Paramaeshewar. On another occasion, He materialised a yellow Kafni worn by Sai Baba of Shirdi for Yadalam Nagamma.

Once in 1946 Yadalam Venkataramanappa, suddenly lost sensation in his knees and was bedridden all the time, unable to walk. People at Bukkapatnam teased the Yadalam family: “You have allowed a Bhat Raju to enter your house. That is when you are suffering so much. Can your Sai Baba cure you? Some even went to Puttaparthi and asked Bhagawan: “Your devotee Venkataramanappa is suffering with leg pain. You have not done anything. Can you not cure him?” Bhagawan replied, “I know what to do, I will walk to Bukkapatnam and cure his disease.” That night, some one called out for Venkataramanappa is front of his house. On opening the door, the family was pleasantly to see Bhagawan Himself standing there in the middle of night. Bhagawan went to Venkataramanappa, held his hand and asked him to get up and walk. He even materialised dates for him and personally made him eat them. By the time, Bhagawan left for Puttaparthi in this morning, Venkataramanappa was perfectly well again.

The following year another touching episode occurred in connection with the Yadalam family. Yadalam Nagamma had gone to Mudugubba, 38 kilometres from Puttaparthi to attend the marriage of a close relative. She had been injured in a fire accident, suffering from burns on the body and face. Nagamma did not want to go back to Bukkapatnam with her swollen sepsis-infected face. She went instead to her native place, Kothakota. In His own mysterious way, Bhagawan was aware of the accident. He instructed Nagamma’s daughter-in-law, Janakamma, who had by then reached Puttaparthi with the terrible news, to arrange to fetch Nagamma to Puttaparthi. They Yadalam family did as Bhagawan bid them. Bhagawan materialised vibhuti and applied it all over her body. He even mixed it in some food and made her eat it. Early next morning, to everybody’s surprise, Nagamma’s face was whole and clean.

Bhagawan had once suggested to the Yadalams to open a grocery shop at Puttaparthi, but they did not want to do business in Bhagawan’s place and develop desires. They wanted to keep business away from devotion. Such was their faith and devotion to Bhagawan.

R. Padmanaban


Yadalams Bukkapatnam

Yadalams Bukkapatnam

Despite Skeptics, Medical Schools Address Spirituality

Mind Body Connection

Mind Body Connection

Despite Skeptics, Medical Schools Address Spirituality
By MANOJ JAIN The Washington Post
July 27, 2008

My patient is an elderly man with end-stage congestive heart failure, kidney failure and now an infected dialysis line, and he is unlikely to live more than six months. The Bible lies on his bedside table next to his hospital breakfast tray and the morning newspaper. I wonder if I should pray with him.

A neurosurgeon I know often prays with his patients before operating on their brains to remove a tumor or on their backs to relieve a herniated disk. In the pre-op holding area, he stands near the gurney and, with the patient’s permission, clasps his or her hand and recites a prayer. He usually concludes the prayer with “in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.”

My friend the neurosurgeon is unusual in this regard. Although studies show that 40 percent to 60 percent of hospitalized patients want their doctors to pray with them, fewer than 5 percent of doctors say they often or usually pray with patients.

As a doctor, I understand this. Although I am comfortable asking patients about their faith when I question them about their profession and their family or social support structure, I feel awkward, even squeamish, about praying with my patients. That may be because I was never taught how to pray with my patients in medical school, nor did I see my mentors praying with patients. Also, I am of the Jain faith, an Eastern religion based on the principle of nonviolence and the practice of meditation, and most of my patients are of the Christian or Jewish faith. In addition, at times I have seen religious beliefs compromise a patient’s health: One young patient of mine died in my intensive care unit because she refused blood transfusions based on her religious beliefs.

My reluctance to pray with patients comes in the face of growing evidence that spiritual practices such as prayer and meditation might be healthy for us. A study published in 2003 found workers who attended a meditation training session had a more powerful immune response to the influenza vaccine than those who did not meditate. Another study has even shown a sort of dose-response curve – the higher the church attendance, prayer and Bible study, the lower the average diastolic blood pressure – as if religious practices act therapeutically, almost like a blood-pressure pill. Although there’s no solid proof of a causal relationship between religion/spirituality and improved health, researchers such as Harold Koenig, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center, are convinced that spiritual practices can help you live longer.

Across medicine and society, there’s increasing interest in the link between religion/spirituality and health. Three-quarters of all U.S. medical schools now offer courses in spirituality and medicine, and academic centers such as the

George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health, the Duke Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health, and the Center for Spirituality and Health at the University of Florida are being established across the nation.

Yet many researchers are skeptical about the union of religion/spirituality and medicine. (Or perhaps I should say “reunion,” because religion/spirituality has been a part of medicine since ancient times: The words “holiness” and “healing” stem from a common root meaning “wholeness.”)

Richard Sloan, a professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, worries that the linkage oversimplifies and trivializes religion by limiting its value to its effect, if any, on health.

In 2007, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality commissioned a research team to evaluate 813 studies on meditation. The group reported mixed evidence from some of these studies; most of the remaining studies had design flaws that made it impossible to assess their conclusions.

I myself was a co-investigator on the largest study on the therapeutic effect of intercessory prayer, an 1,800-patient, six-center, $2.4 million study led by the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, now at Harvard Medical School’s affiliate Massachusetts General Hospital.

Our findings, published in 2006 in the American Heart Journal, showed that being prayed for did not improve outcomes, and it seemed to have a negative effect when patients knew they were the subject of prayers from afar.

Even if prayer were shown to improve outcomes, religious differences make it impractical for doctors to make it part of daily patient care.

I asked my neurosurgeon friend how he prays with patients who are Jewish, Muslim or Hindu. Does he end with the phrase about “our Lord, Jesus Christ”? He paused and then told me that it depends on the patient. I suspect that there is a selection bias and that he is more likely to offer prayers to Christian patients than others. He admits he feels uncomfortable offering a prayer in another faith or using the words “Allah,” “Om” or “Shalom” because for him the prayer would not feel authentic.

In the end, this is what prompts my discomfort with praying with patients. If a doctor is using prayer because he feels it will help to heal a patient and not just to improve the doctor-patient relationship, then I believe it is unfair, even discriminatory, for a doctor to offer a Christian prayer with a Christian patient and not offer another prayer to patients of other faiths.

Because the research literature is equivocal on the benefits or drawbacks of prayer and meditation, I explored my own heart and soul for an answer.

Without hesitation, I believe that practices such as prayer and meditation offer benefits in addition to medication and surgery and the doctor-patient relationship. I have seen it myself. On several occasions, I have meditated with my patients.

Once, a young HIV-positive woman complained of shortness of breath after recovering from severe pneumonia. Medically, nothing helped, and no cause was obvious other than anxiety. With some hesitation, I offered to do a session of meditation with her. She agreed and subsequently improved.

Often, I wonder how I can incorporate spiritual practices in my routine therapeutic recommendations, just as I recommend exercise and a nutritious diet. I believe it’s possible. But doing it, I believe, requires understanding two critical concepts.

First, we need to distinguish between religion (an organized institution with social boundaries, rituals and membership) and spirituality (the sense of the sacred within us and our relationship with a greater force). Spirituality may or may not be rooted in religion, but the core of all religions is spirituality. Once we can relate to the spiritual core of each patient, we do not have to agonize about finding the “appropriate” prayer and “politically correct” words for patients of different religions.

I think I could pray (using a generic prayer) or do a meditation exercise at a critical moment with my patient. At times, if this is uncomfortable or if there is not enough time, I could simply encourage the spiritual part of patients’ lives.

This is what I did with my patient suffering from end-stage congestive heart failure. I touched his Bible and said, “Many patients find this very helpful. I am glad you are using it.”

“Couldn’t make it without it, Doc,” he replied with a tone of hope and optimism.

Second, we doctors need to expand beyond medicine’s traditional body-mind focus. Most of my patients see themselves as having a soul and a spirit, and if I, as a doctor and a scientist, wish to treat them in a holistic manner, I need to take this thinking into account.

I was reminded of this recently on morning rounds. I walked into a room, saying, “Hello, Mr. Jones.” My patient was sitting in a chair in the corner, head bowed, lips moving silently.

I realized that I had interrupted his prayer. I bowed my head to join him. He continued. “Lord, I want to thank you for helping me heal and decreasing my pain . . . and now, Lord, I have to cut my prayers short this morning because my doctor is here.”

We both said, “Amen.”

Research suggests that religion offers health benefits, including longer life spans. Is that because of the healing benefits of prayer or because people of faith enjoy supportive, healthful lifestyles?

Some statistics:
• 83: The life expectancy of people who frequently attended religious services; for infrequent attendees, the estimate was 75.

• 70 percent: The percentage of churches that provide health-care services to their communities, according to a survey of 6,000 congregations.

• 40 percent to 60 percent: The percentage of hospital patients who want their doctors to pray with them. But fewer than 5 percent of doctors say they do so.

• 2,500: Number of Maryland kindergartners exempted from vaccine mandates on religious grounds, up from 1,300 in 2004.