Robert Priddy’s Views on Key Human Values in Relation To Sathya Sai Baba
Posted by Barry Pittard on December 6, 2009
In the brief article – Human Values – Sai Baba’s truncated ideas – Robert Priddy, an academic philosopher at the University of Oslo for many years, and a former head of the Sathya Sai Organization in Norway, states his view of what human values are, in contradistinction to “divinely-instated values for humans” as proclaimed by Sathya Sai Baba.
In the mind of any serious educator, especially when versed in the history of educational theory and practice, very concerning questions are raised. One of the key concerns is that, in the Sathya Sai educational undertaking, critical thinking is distinctly missing. When an English teacher at the Sathya Sai College in Whitefield, via Bangalore, South India, then Sai Baba’s premier education institution, I was alarmed at the extraordinary amount of rote learning to be seen. Swatting and regurgitation were on all sides. It was as though the great educational innovators, whether East or West, had never lived. Where were the exiting staff room discussions? Where was the meeting of minds? Where were the in-service professional development programs? Where was there a working towards new paradigms? Rather, things were stuck in a time warp. Here or there was a teacher in love with his subject who deeply cherished the students (I think fondly of my former colleague P.K. Mohanti), but each lecturer slaved away in his own ‘burrow’. Lacking was a sense of the organic, of a meaningful community of learning. Marks and gold medals were the thing, and a wider unreformed education system in India reenforced this defecit of true learning. True, there were movements of reform in India, but the Sathya Sai setup, despite all the trumpet-blowing by those of narrow, uncritical mindsets on education, was decidedly not one of them.
In the way of innovation, I was fortunate in having the protection of the Principal (which actually meant Sai Baba), who handed over his own third year degree course to me as well as my teaching the other two years of the English course and the encouragement of the scientist and Sai Baba’s chief interpreter into English Dr S. Bhagavantham and the Board and two of my immediate colleagues, and many marvelous boys (both those devoted and not devoted to Sathya Sai Baba). But the flaws were great.
As the Sathya Sai Education in Human Values spread throughout Sai centers around the world, one could, yet again, see serious flaws. One saving grace was that contributors to the formation of the courses were international, which meant that some very antiquated teaching theory and practice got knocked aside. Since Robert Priddy and Serguei Badaev (the latter of whom was closely involved in SSEHV), both of them longtime educators, have incisively raised key questions, I shall point my readers to some of their critical work on Sathya Sai education programs. See my article: Sathya Sai Baba Critic Serguei Badaev: An Incisive Voice of Conscience From Russia
“The values according to [or against which] we act are unavoidable and essential links that tie together personal perceptions and judgements, motives and actions into the sphere of common cultural values. They are central to grasping the motivations of our social and political life. Sai Baba promotes his own brand of ‘five human values’, which is a simple and often all too vague recipe. His biographer Kasturi writes that Sai Baba scribbled the 5 values down on the back of an envelope when Kasturi asked him to define them. Grabbed as if out of thin air without any deeper thought, it is quite evident how shallow, rigid and incomplete they are when examined carefully and critically. They can only function at a most elementary level of teaching children, at best, for the doctrine is flawed and is badly out of step with modern thought and educational standards (outside developing nations)” .
Some Robert Priddy links on these issues
1) The Common Acceptance of Human Values
2) In what may human values consist?
3) Distinguishing and defining values
4) Human values defined in practice
5) Values and Anti-values
6) Values, character development and psychic health
7) Inherent failings in Sai’s human values
8 ) Sai Baba’s teaching’s shortage of universal educational concepts and contents
9) Simplicity and vagueness in the service of moralism
10) The taint of intellectual and moral rigidity
11) Human justice as distinct from divine command
12) Sai Educare’s fundamentalist, doctrinaire teachings?
For still more detailed analysis of the above issues click here – SSEHV Exposed and:
Links for the study of Sathya Sai Education in Human Values and ‘Educare’ -and their shortcomings or failings – are found here:-
Why the Sathya Sai organization is a cult
See also -:
The Story of My Disqualification
by Serguei Badaev
(ex-President of Sathya Sai Organization, Moscow Centre, ex-deputy National Coordinator and National SSEHV Coordinator, Russia)
Badaev has written: “Critical thinking, as one of a basic skills of character building, is absolutely opposed to the EHV and Sai Educare approaches. I think it is a threat to the Sathya Sai mini-empire. The situation is in a sense very similar to what occurred during the Soviet regime. Communist leaders needed people with good character to work hard and with enthusiasm. But the regime tried to restrict firmly (or to control) the area of application of their intellect and research skills to keep themselves safe from their analysis. The same with Sathya Sai. There is a sort of invisible circle around him where you should abandon your critical skills and submit completely to his uncertainty and mystery. Another interesting aspect of Sai education is an idea of separate education of boys and girls which is taken for granted without any serious justification”.
Barry Pittard On Serguei Badaev
Barry Pittard’s comments in regard to the Public Petition) -:
There is a Spanish version available: