(Sathya Sai Baba, one of India’s most influential spiritual leaders, breathed his last at a hospital funded by his organisation in his home town of Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh on last Sunday. He was 85. Image source: http://www.kevinrdshepherd.info)
To many around the world, the Great Guru is dead but here’s the troubling news that often associated with modern day, highly commercialized but dead holy men:-
A scramble has broken out for control of the $12-billion empire of an Indian guru with a worldwide following who died Sunday. Sathya Sai Baba’s devotees included actress Goldie Hawn, the Duchess of York and Isaac Tigrett, the founder of the Hard Rock Cafe chain, Pratibha Patil, India’s president, and Manmohan Singh, the prime minister, attended his last birthday celebrations.
As his health deteriorated in recent months, politicians discussed whether the state should seize his fortune. His nephew, R.J. Ratnakar, and Satyajit, a devotee, who cared for him, are among those reported to be jostling for control over the Sathya Sai organization.
Court documents allege that Sai Baba owned many cars, including Mercedes limousines and a Jaguar, and that the roof of his temple was lined with gold.
To be frank, I am not really a devotee of Sai Baba or someone who closely followed his teachings (to an extent I thought that he was already dead many, many years ago) but the name is something I have been hearing since I was still small, often reminded of his name and image by some relatives in the family who consider him as the “Guru”. And who can forget the famous hair-do?
In recent times, other than Rajini’s movie “Baba”, the other “Guru” that made news in recent news was Swami Nithyananda and despite the denial by the Swami, the video evidence was rather overwhelming.
I still recall a long time ago when we were still living in Old Klang Road, my parents would make a short trip to a house situated on a hill along Jalan Morib, just across our housing area (these days things have changed a lot – there is a condominium on the same place now). We kids dreaded the place – not because it was scary but rather it was damn boring. We will walk to the house situated on the house – we loved the walk – the scenery along the road to the house is so tempting. There would be some people waiting at the front of the house, chit-chatting whilst waiting for the Guru (an elderly man with white hair) to be ready.
The Guru would start the session with some words of wisdom which was not so bad but once done, he will get us started on a long mantra session. This is the most boring part for us kids. Whilst the adult comfortably sit down in the hall, lights darken down a bit and everyone then starts the chanting of the mantra – over and over again, we kids would be edging to go out and breathe in some fresh air. We felt like we were drowning in all that chanting. We fought hard to keep ourselves awake – it was not really hard, our parents were by our side to knock us whenever they sense we were falling asleep. And somehow they always know the difference – we falling asleep and we closing our eyes and really chanting.
When the session is finally over, a small meal would be served, some chit-chats among the adults and finally we can walk back home. Thank God!
These days, the closest encounters with holy men would be at the temples and even this is kept to a distance. If one starts talking about religion in a rather passionately way, it merely signals the time to take our leave. Everyone have their sense of commitment when it comes to religion.