Sathya Sai Baba’s Death Falsifies His Vivekananda ‘Reincarnation’ Claim (Part 1)
Posted by Barry Pittard on May 17, 2011
Reportedly, Sathya Sai Baba told a young Sri Lankan man that he was the reincarnation of the great Hindu monk, Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902). The latter had traveled, briefly, to the West and made a large impression on both scholars and liberal laity alike.
Much before the date he predicted – circa AD 2022, – Sathya Sai is dead. Yet another of his self-progagated myths is exploded. Accounts of his Vivekananda-reborn myth appear in two writers close to Sai Baba, Kasturi and Murphet. Devotees treat their writings as sacrosanct.
Significantly, both official and unofficial Sai Baba devotees strive at present to rationalize the date of Sathya Sai Baba’s death with his prophecy. The premises on which they base their calculations are empirically faulty. They still further expose their ignorance of at least two other death date predictions that he made, and which are in the officially-published Sathya Sai discourses. These statements the officials would be hard-put to weed out. Although in other crucial instances they have done so. See: The Quiet Weeding Out Of Sathya Sai Baba’s Embarrassing Statements. In this article, I reference some Brian Steel links. Steel’s detailed scholarly work deserves the closest attention by those prepared to do some rigorous thinking about the many, extremely revealing, Sathya Sai Baba contradictions, and his capacity for generating potent myths about himself.
But more of this in Part 2. In the next days, I shall relate my search for the Sri Lankan man, and my meeting him.
If he is to be in charge of Puttaparthi, in Sai Baba’s aftermath, he had better do a nifty hop, skip and a jump from Sri Lanka to Puttaparthi, and thus end forever the intense infighting over succession that has been going on following Sathya Sai Baba’s death.
Sathya Sai Baba’s longtime associate and his official biographer, the late Professor P.N. Kasturi, wrote that Sai Baba said:
“Vivekananda has come again; he is growing up in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). He will come to Me and join in My task.” Sathyam, Shivam, Sundaram, Part II, p. 130. 1960-61.
Another close Sathya Sai Baba associate, the late Howard Murphet, author of best-selling books on Sathya Sai Baba, reported that in an interview in the late 60’s, Sai Baba told him and his wife, Iris:
“Vivekananda has been reborn in Sri Lanka. When his education and training are complete, he will help me with my mission”.
Murphet met the individual concerned, Nalin Sedera, in 1989, and relates that Sai Baba told Sedera:
“I have been waiting for you for eighty-five years”
and that Sedera would come to live at the Puttaparthi ashram in (CE) 2021.
See: Sai Inner Views and Insight, Chapter 10: The Rebirth of Vivekananda, by Howard Murphet, Faber, VA, Leela Press, 1996, pp. 60- 66.
Vivekananda’s appearance in the West was a remote beginning of a wider Western interest in Eastern spirituality and philosophy which did not combust until the descent upon India of thousands of spiritual seekers, most of them young. Central to its impetus was a broad and strong reaction to the gross materialism in the socio-economically developed countries. Superficial views link this convergence on India as being a ‘Hippie’ phenomenon, but those who lived in India or traveled there or else well-acquainted with the serious literature know plainly that this is a vast oversimplification.
Neither India nor the West was ready for this decamping. India was beginning to recover from British imperial domination (in my view, it has never really recovered, and in many cases, where the old oppressions have been overcome, home-grown ones keep springing up in their place). The very notion of ‘seeking’ can imply either a degree of lack of fulfilment or loss outright – real hungering and thirsting. When there is neediness, especially when individuals travel in unfamiliar terrain, two mutally opposed forces, either to aid or to thwart them, arise. One is compassion expressed through decency. The other is exploitation.
Of course, human nature being what it is, such dichotomies as compassion for, as opposed to exploitation of, the seeker are simplistic. There are any number of gurus – no less than human beings in general – who have done many acts of which we may all approve, yet, along with the kindly actions, have done ill.
Leaving aside the many other forms of exploitation, the list of Indian gurus who have been exposed as shams is considerable, as has been the exposure of many religious and other authority figures in countries around the world.
Whatever may be said of the strengths and the integrity of figures such as Vivekananda, Yogananda and other Indian teachers who visited the West, the adulation which they received – and still receive though they are long dead – needs to be looked at critically. I think the greatest benefit that can spring when one looks at these historical developments is to spend serious time in self-examination. That is to say, each one of us can keep posing the question: how did I, and how do I, react to influential role models? Not what is somebody else’s adulation, reverence, attachment. But what constitutes my own tendencies.
If we can find a way to challenge the adulation, and the clinging attachment to external figures, perhaps we will have begun to find instead of to seek. That is, forever, to seek external buttresses for our being.
But, emphatically, this was not my state when attached to the figure of Sathya Sai Baba.
Excerpt From Public Petition (and introduction)