Sunday, September 16, 2018

When avatars collide

“Sathya Sai Baba: The Counterfeit Avatar” is an attack on the controversial god-man of Puttaparthi in India. The pamphlet is written by a supporter of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

The author says surprisingly little about the serious accusations against Sai Baba concerning sexual molestation of children, although he does seem to accept that the victims were telling the truth. Nor does the author say much about Sai Baba's “magical” ability to materialize objects. He does imply that the materializations were fraudulent. In the West, the accusations of pedophilia and false miracles are the usual ones against the Indian god-man.

Instead, most of the pamphlet is a very “esoteric” attack on Sai Baba's claims to be an avatar (divine incarnation) of the Hindu god Vishnu. Apparently, Sai Baba proclaimed himself to be Kalki, the tenth and final avatar. The author argues that Sri Aurobindo was the genuine Tenth Avatar of Vishnu. His arguments are hard to follow, and seem to rest heavily on astrological speculations. Sai Baba is said to represent the Age of Pisces, with its negative nirvana-centered spirituality. Aurobindo, by contrast, is the avatar of the Aquarian age. He brings a new revelation to mankind, finally revealing the true meaning of the Vedas, preaching the unity of spirit and matter, rather than a nihilistic “liberation” from matter. The notion that an avatar must bring a new message is central to the author's case, since Aurobindo's teachings (and that of his spiritual companion, Mirra Alfassa alias The Mother) differ considerably from orthodox Hinduism, while that of Sai Baba is more in keeping with it.

I get the impression that Aurobindo's followers had some kind of longstanding feud with Sai Baba, since the baba claimed to have been born the day before Aurobindo proclaimed himself to be an avatar. In Sai Baba's rendering, Aurobindo was really making a prophecy about *him*. Rather than being a divine incarnation, the author implies that Sai Baba was the product of the so-called Intermediate Zone, presumably what others call “the astral”, and hence a victim of “astral glamour”. He was used as an instrument of dark, demonic forces out to distort the truth. The rogue guru's sexual appetites are said to be connected to his Intermediate Zone status.

Some arguments against Sathya Sai Baba's divine pretentions are no-brainers, such as his erroneous prophecy about his own death, or the fact that he fell in the bath twice and severely hurt himself. Some avatar. However, the latter accusation is somewhat disingenuous coming from a devotee of Aurobindo, who once also fell so badly that he broke some bones…

This article, which is apparently also available on-line, is probably of interest only to those who closely follow the Integral Yoga teachings of Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa. I don't think it will sway the fanatical followers of Sathya Sai Baba – if the serious allegations against him didn't do the trick, nothing will.
Unfortunately, I might add!

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