Sathya Sai Baba Failed To Face India’s Endemic Corruption. Or Support Key Agencies of Real Change
Posted by Barry Pittard on March 22, 2012
Like most days, yesterday, I worked on a song (See lyrics below).
It reminded me – quite beside the immediate purpose of the piece, incidentally – how profoundly Sathya Sai Baba and his officials were utterly bound up, beside their own day-by-day autocratic practices, with some of the most corrupt and suppressive agencies in India. This was irrespective of which political regime ruled the country.
Sai Baba himself, and his worldwide Satha Sai Organization have long boasted of work among the poor. Repeatedly, their pronouncements read as though there were not many and remarkable service organizations in the world. Commonly, he and his keynote speakers said that the world now knew of him. This gross falsification anyone can prove. Let him or her, in their travels around the world, lean over and ask random people whether they have heard of him. If anyone has done so, high chances are that it is because internationally organized former Sai devotees presented their excellent credentials to the world media. More recently, Sai Baba’s own mad collections of millions of dollars and large piles of glittering treasure, hidden in his private chambers, became known. At last the Indian media – so extremely remiss in not having exposed Sai Baba and his outfit long years ago – could not but cover the story.
He and his officials have forever failed to speak out against the systems of control which keep up privilege and power over the weaker sections of society. Except, of course, in the most abstract, philosophizing terms. How could they have done otherwise? For they, beneath their smiling veneer, were deeply involved in highly autocratic control – one which, moreover, mostly excluded women.
In the song, I use the image of an old busker (street performer). Many Australians value buskers. But yesterday, the police, at the behest of business interests in a town not far from where I live, moved on an accomplished musician, who was not even busking but working on some songs for an upcoming concert. He is well-known for delighting townsfolk young and old in that area, Palmwoods, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, for some six years.
Except in rare instances, when a famous musician like Keith Urban (‘Mr’ Nicole Kidman) does a brief, lightning return to roots, buskers are ordinary, unglamorized pople. From the point of view of the corporate trend-makers, they may have potato faces, be ‘too ugly’, ‘too fat’, ‘too thin’. But they are a treasurable alternative to the heavy cultural dominance of the music and film industries, especially, of course, those of the USA. And in India, Bollywood and other such dream factories.
The corporate heads of these dream industries are precisely the types that the upper levels of the Sathya Sai Organization have, all along, assiduously cultivated to build the multi billion dollar Sai empire. These are among the fat cats that you see on Sai Baba’s veranda, and in the best seats at Sai events.
All the incredible pomp and circumstance which surrounded Sai Baba is a variety of such obscenely wasteful opulence, and use of the notion so beloved of the Roman power elites – panem et circenses: bread and circus games. Keep the general populace drugged and entertained. Ensure that they do not question their plight – or, if they should do so, then in a way that does not disprivilege the privileged.
In Australia, some businesses scheme to suppress buskers. Citizens who love rich culture variety need strongly to oppose those forces who exploit weak legal frameworks to stifle what is alternative to the materialistic consumer society.
In my lyric, I use, too, the image of fiendish timber interests in India, whom I vividly remember driving out – including by genocide, and use of police – the forest tribal people among whom I worked alongside Indians of conscience and decency, and of varied sociocultural background. The police were puppets of the logging companies. If desperately hungry tribespeople, displaced from their traditional hunting grounds, speared a cow, the police would shoot to kill. In their records, the police untruthfully stated that they shot when the tribal people would resist arrest.
But Sathya Sai Baba was firmly on the side of the most conservative and suppressive social organs of control in India and beyond. It is not enough to go out and work among the poor. We need to analyse both philosophically and pragmatically. Too often, among those who think of themselves as ‘spiritual’, there is an air of abstraction. There is far too much ‘feel-good’, and not nearly enough ‘feel-bad’. Feeling bad is actually very good. Because what one is feeling is a bad conscience.
However, when it comes time to face State and other organs of oppression, and the oppressors, and to call rotten things and rotten people by their right names, a great many of the so-called ‘spiritual’ are passive. This is one reason governments allow them such a degree of latitude.
It is why the Sathya Sai Organization can so easily sidle up to governments and politicians. Often, voluntarism attends to social ills that governments prefer to neglect.
Old Busker, Jake. By Barry Pittard. 21 March 2012
Old busker moves; he hums
A tune quite like this one
As his feet drag, he sighs and says:
They drive us from the streets …
Although we cause no fuss
Some Burghers warn: don’t busk!
And if their souls turn more tone deaf
There’ll be no more of us
‘Bout driving-off, old Jake knew lots
When once he lived with tribal friends
When the timber merchants drove them off
For the love of logs instead
‘Bout forest trees and people chopped
And kindly love Jake sang and busked
Which is what the soul-dead Tsars drive off
Who in love-of-dollars trust
Select Further Reading
Yet Another Sai Yajur Mandir Treasure Haul. Stash Not In Recent Enforced Sai Central Trust Inventory
The Sathya Sai Organization’s Deception and Propaganda Exposed. Robert Priddy and Barry Pittard
Excerpt From Public Petition (and introduction)
This entry was posted on March 22, 2012 at 8:47 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. Tagged: Buskers, Genocide (In India), Grassroots, India's Corruption, Keith Urban, Nicole Kidman, Palmwoods, Sathya Sai Organization, Social Change, Sunshine Coast (Queensland - Australia), Violent Police. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.