SAI BABA and SEX: A Clear View
by Ram Das Awle
[Copyright 2001. This material may be downloaded, reproduced and distributed freely, as long as the source is clearly attributed.]A Glossary of Sanskrit terms appears at the bottom of the page.
August, 2001Dear Friends in God,
Over the last couple of years, a number of people have alleged that Sathya Sai Baba has been engaging in sexual contact of various kinds with some of His devotees. These allegations have gathered force on the internet, creating a storm of doubt for many of Sai Baba’s devotees around the world.
An American by birth, I’ve been a Sai devotee for the last four and a half years, spending most of that time living in or near Sai Baba’s ashrams in India. Before coming to Baba, I spent five years in the ashram of another great Master, Ammachi (Mata Amritanandamayi), and then a year living in Tiruvannamalai, near Ramana Maharshi’s ashram, intensely practicing meditation, Self-enquiry and other forms of sadhana. I have some interesting perspectives on the matter at hand, which God now seems to want me to share with the world.
I Believe There is Truth in Both Points of View
First of all, I believe that Sathya Sai Baba is an Avatar, a full incarnation of God — 'the most powerful incarnation of God ever to come to the Earth” (as Anandamoyi Ma described Sai Baba). AND, from what I’ve read and heard, I’m inclined to think some of the allegations about Baba are probably true: it appears likely to me that He has occasionally had sexually intimate interactions with devotees. God has given me the grace to be able to see that these two ideas are not necessarily in contradiction, and I invite the world to explore that possibility with me here.
First, let me briefly address my first assertion, that is, that Sai Baba is a Divine Incarnation. In addition to Anandamoyi Ma, many God-Realized Saints have testified that Sai Baba is an Avatar. These Masters include Paramahansa Yogananda, Sri Aurobindo, Ammachi (Mata Amritanandamayi), Mother Krishnabai, Swami Satchidananda (of Kerala), Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Shiva Balayogi, Master El Moya, Master Kuthumi, Gopalakrishna Baba, Devi Amma, "Little Heart", Dr. B.S. Goel, Vasantha Sai, Vijai Shankar and Maitreya. (Direct quotes from these Masters regarding Baba’s Divinity appear in Part 2 of the website.) These Saints have surely not spoken from mere conjecture or hearsay; they are merged in the omniscient, all-pervading Consciousness and know exactly what they are talking about.
Sai Baba as Avatar
In addition, various ‘palm-leaf prophecies’— elaborate predictions of future events written by the ancient sages — declare that Sathya Sai Baba is the second in a triple incarnation of God. (These prophecies are found in the Book of Bhrigu, the Shuka Nadis and the Agastya Nadis, which can still be read in various places in India.) According to those sages (and Baba Himself), in His previous incarnation He was known as Shirdi Sai Baba, the great Master who is arguably the most widely revered Saint in India today. Shirdi Sai Baba left His body eight years before the birth of Sathya Sai Baba, who tells us that eight years after He leaves His current body, He will return to the Earth in a new human form. In that incarnation He will be known as Prema Sai Baba, and will then complete the divine work He began as Shirdi Sai. Whereas Shirdi Sai Baba is said to have been an incarnation of Shiva, Sathya Sai Baba is said to embody both Shiva and Shakti, the Divine Father and Mother in one form, and to have all the sixteen qualities of a Poornavatar, ‘a rare full incarnation of God.’
(According to the Hindu scriptures, the last Poornavatar on Earth was Lord Krishna, who lived approximately 5,300 years ago.)
There is also a prophecy (set forth in detail on Page 2 of the website) given by Mohammed, the founding Prophet of Islam, which describes the “Great Teacher ” and “Master of the world” who would come in the future. The elaborate description given by Mohammed matches Sai Baba in perfect detail.
Dozens of books, some written by Western scientists, overflow with stories of Baba’s miracles – resurrecting people from the dead, countless healings of ‘incurable diseases’, miraculously appearing in a living form in various places around the globe, sending devotees long distances through His interview room wall, instantly manifesting any object He wishes, knowing the subtlest thoughts of His devotees, etc. It seems there is nothing He cannot do.
Furthermore, unlike the siddhis (supernatural powers) of ordinary yogis, which quickly fade away unless replenished by continuous sadhana, Sai Baba's miracles have poured forth in a continuous stream for over sixty years, apparently with no special effort on His part whatsoever. Clearly, He is no mere ‘yogi’; such a prolific flow of miracles over such a long period is a telltale sign of an Avatar.
Since the first day I arrived at His ashram, I have experienced Sai Baba as being all-pervading and omniscient, an embodiment of perfect Love, an ever-flowing source of divine Grace and wisdom – in short, a fully Self-Realized embodiment of God. One night, after He announced they would be there, I saw hundreds of thousands of angels flying above His ashram... (Details on Page 2.) As a dedicated spiritual seeker, my inner experiences have consistently told me that Baba is an Avatar and a perfect Guru. Having spent ten full years in India and had meaningful contact with many Saints, from what I’ve seen of Sai Baba I simply have no doubt that He is exactly who He claims to be: a full incarnation of God.
So, when I first heard the allegations of His sexual contact with devotees, my mind reeled: How is it possible? Isn’t He a Divine Incarnation? Have I been deceived?? I struggled very hard to understand, prayed day after day, and gradually gained some clarity of vision. Maybe some of my understandings can benefit you.
The Most Efficient Medicine
First let me share a couple of answers Baba gave me internally regarding this issue. In response to my urgent prayers during Baba’s darshan one day, as He walked by I suddenly heard a crystal clear inner dictation:
If you could see the past lives and the past actions
of the souls with whom I have interacted in that way,
along with their various mental obstacles
and their prior relationships with God,
you would understand what I have done with them perfectly.
And if you could see the extraordinary spiritual benefit
that will accrue to those souls in due course,
as a result of their intimate contact with Me,
you would be ashamed of your doubts!
OK, I said, that's clear. Maybe I can buy that... But I kept hearing more stories, and no matter what my head was saying, my guts were definitely leaning toward the doubting Thomases! A few days later, as I lay in my room immersed in confusion, I suddenly heard Baba's voice again:
"Know that whatever I do with my devotees
is always the most efficient medicine for those souls,
and a gift of immeasurable grace.
My actions are always a perfect expression of Divine Love,
for That is what I am."
All right! I want to believe You, Baba. You’ve shown me often enough that You’re Divine... But still my mind wavered. I needed to understand it! Why would Baba - an all-powerful omnipresent Being with all miraculous powers at His command - want to interact in a sexual way with anyone? Surely He’s beyond all desire!
“ Yes”, came Baba's answer out of the blue, “ except the one desire for which I took birth: to set you free from your karma and mental obstacles, and lead you to God-Realization.”
And suddenly the light dawned, and answers began pouring in from all sides.
First of all, unlike in the Western religions, the Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist traditions have always made room for what is known as the ‘left-handed tantric path’, which involves the direct use of sexual arousal, and the divinization and redirection of the energy thereby awakened for purposes of spiritual evolution. These practices tend to cut through the mind’s ideas of ‘holy’ and ‘unholy’, thus uniting the sexual with the spiritual - as opposed to more orthodox forms of spirituality, which tend to deepen the split between these two aspects of the human psyche. For this reason, tantra is a very potent path, providing great possibilities for rapid transformations in consciousness. There are numerous sadhaks in various Eastern traditions today who practice ‘left handed tantra’ as their primary sadhana, and there are many ancient wisdom teachings which fully support those practices as a legitimate path to Self-Realization.
As an omniscient Avatar, Sai Baba is a Master of all spiritual paths and practices, and knows exactly how to awaken each one of us from our age-old slumber into awareness of the all-pervading Self. His use of tantric techniques with certain individuals is therefore wholly legitimate, supported by the Eastern wisdom teachings, and undoubtedly an extraordinary blessing for the individuals concerned.
Unfortunately, the Western religions seem to thrive on exacerbating the split between the sexual and the Divine, and I believe this makes it especially difficult for Westerners, raised as we were on pristine paintings of the Virgin Mary and cherubs on clouds, to understand Baba’s tantric work. In most of the religious traditions in the West, God is up in heaven and sex is a path to hell, and never the twain shall meet. In many of our scriptures, flat out repression – along with heavy doses of guilt – seems to be the subtly recommended technique for entrance into heaven. But repression just doesn’t work – it ultimately either makes people crazy with desire, or just plain crazy! No wonder so many of our priests and ministers have AIDS, and so many in our culture are either sexually repressed, or completely obsessed with sex, or totally entangled in guilt about sex!
It seems to me that through His tantric work with certain individuals, Sai Baba is pointing us all towards a healing of that split within our psyches, as an essential step in our evolution to the Divine.
Awakening the Kundalini
Baba has been said to sometimes miraculously manifest a special oil during an interview, and rub it on a man’s testicles and perineum. I've heard that most men do not experience this action as being a ‘sexual touch’; in fact, many have responded to it with an instantaneous experience of higher consciousness.
Baba did this 'annointment' to a friend of mine, who tells me that in that moment, he received a huge influx of blissful energy, which rushed from the base of his spine through the top of his head, leaving him in a state of dizzy ecstasy which lasted for hours! More importantly, to quote a letter from him,“ When I walked out of the room of Baba's, I felt as if all the shame about me and sexuality had been lifted.... That was an ENORMOUS healing. ” I think it likely that was a very important step on his path to God-Realization.
According to an article published by the Kundalini Foundation for Self-Realisation (New Delhi), the primary reason for a Guru touching the disciple near the genitals is actually to awaken the Kundalini the latent divine power within human beings, located near the base of the spine, which remains dormant unless awakened through spiritual practices). A brief excerpt from that article:
"There are several reasons for a God-man to touch the perineum of a devotee:
- Psychological Disturbance. If the subtle nerves (the Granthi Knot) near the Muladhara Chakra are entangled, the Kundalini will not be able to rise. This usually causes serious psychological disturbance in the individual. In such a case the Guru, and only a Guru blessed with this power, will touch the perineum to get the Kundalini moving.... This practice of working on the perineum has also been followed by the Taoists who massaged here.
- Initiation. There are three physical places, levels of consciousness, that the Guru touches to awaken the Kundalini of a disciple: at the Ajna Chakra between the eyebrows; at the Anahat Chakra near the heart; or at the Muladhara Chakra near the sexual organ...."
From this information alone, it seems very likely that any sexual contact Baba has had with devotees - of whatever kind - has actually been only a potent blessing, given to awaken the spiritual power within those souls. Who can call that “wrong”? Surely to call such contact "molestation" is perversity itself.
Yet the allegations against Baba involve more than an occasional touch to the testicles. Some men have claimed that they have had ‘sexual relations’ of various kinds with Baba in His interview room. Although it’s possible such claims are just false accusations made by jealous people who didn’t get what they wanted from the Guru, let’s assume, for the sake of discussion, that the allegations are true. How to understand it?
Removal of Sexual Karma
One legitimate reason for sexual contact between a Master and devotee is the removal of sexual karma from a devotee’s previous incarnation – and I believe this is probably the underlying reason for most of Baba's tantric work. Many souls on this planet have had the karmic thorn of lust deeply embedded in their hearts, due to repeated misuse of sexual energy in the human realm, thus creating a painful obstacle to their happiness and spiritual evolution. As an incarnation of God, Baba will know just how to most efficiently remove those thorns, which otherwise could burn and fester in those souls for eons. Sometimes the best way to remove a thorn is by using a similar thorn to dig it out; then both can be thrown away.
I like to think that God incarnating on Earth might be a bit like a brilliant doctor walking into a clinic filled with patients who have been suffering from excruciating ailments for many years, due to lack of proper treatment. Baba knows us fully, including our past actions through the centuries; He knows exactly what ails us, and exactly how to heal us. The Divine Doctor won't hesitate to perform life-saving surgery, even if the patient is reluctant to have it, for the Doctor knows what is needed and realizes that the patient doesn’t. And even if, after a successful surgery, the patient condemns the Doctor for the 'abuse' he imagines he received on the operating table, the Divine Doctor will bear the condemnation gracefully, fully understanding the patient’s ignorance.
Sai Baba has come to Earth to give us the most powerful karmic cleansing and spiritual healing He can, in the most efficient way possible. He is working from a platform of infinite divine knowledge, and knows full well that humanity, immersed as it is in ignorance and partial knowledge, will misunderstand much of what He does. Yet He moves right ahead with His healing mission, removing as much of our karma as He can, caring neither for praise or blame. His one-pointed focus is always our spiritual evolution and the healing of this planet, heavily burdened as it is by sexual karma of all kinds. Obviously, it's a thankless job; it’s no surprise it was left for the Poornavatar.
Since some of the allegations against Baba involve touching children, it's important to understand that when Baba looks at a person He doesn't just see a human being of a particular age and gender. He sees the soul, an ancient spark of the infinite Divine flame - along with all the accumulated karma and mental tendencies that form that soul's bondage. (In other words, with a single glance, He sees our last five hundred incarnations!) The age of the body makes no difference —He knows the perfect way to relate to each of us, to alleviate our karma and lead us towards union with Him. By His divine power, He can remove, with a single action, a karmic obstruction that would otherwise have burdened that soul for many lifetimes.
As an Avatar, Sai Baba has come only to set us free; there could be no trace of selfish or sexual desire in Him whatsoever. And yet He is perfectly capable of functioning in a sexual way, if that is the most efficient way to set us free from our karma.
“With That One Action...”
There is a story about the great Saint of this last century, Neem Karoli Baba (also known as Maharajji), which casts some profound light on the allegations against Sai Baba. In the early ‘70s, there was a woman in New York City named Joya, who, apparently through the fructification of sadhana performed in past lives, had suddenly been gifted with some extraordinary divine powers, including a remarkable degree of omniscience. Joya was teaching a 'secret class' in spirituality in New York, and constantly demonstrated that she knew the subtlest thoughts of those in the class, and would often put people into samadhi through her own will power. (I heard this directly from someone who was in the class.) One day Joya called a woman up to the front of the room and said to her, "You’ve left your Guru! Neem Karoli Baba is a perfect Master, but you’ve condemned him!" Joya went on to tell what she saw in her psychic vision: the woman had gone to see Maharajji in Lucknow, and he had called her in for a private interview. During the course of the interview he embraced her, and then quickly slipped his hand beneath her sari and touched her in a sexually intimate way. The woman was shocked and ran out of the temple, deciding that Maharajji was a false and lecherous Guru.
Joya then said to the woman, "Do you know what Maharajji did in that moment? With that one action, he removed all the sexual karma from your past five lifetimes! It was an extraordinary gift of grace. Now you must reaccept him as your Master!" And together they called forth Neem Karoli Baba’s presence, and the woman received him back into her heart.
Surely, if Sai Baba has interacted with any of His devotees in a sexual way, it has been only a similar gift of Love and grace - all the more so since Baba knows the misinterpretation of such actions will put His global reputation at risk. Yet He does exactly what is needed to set His devotees free, no matter what the damage might be to His reputation. To my mind, that is the mark of a truly great Master.
Krishna, Padmasambhava and Others
By the way, for those unfamiliar with the Hindu scriptures, there is plenty of precedent for a Divine Master acting in a sexual way. Lord Rama (one of the great incarnations of God) was married and had two children, and most of the Rishis were also householders, who made babies just like the rest of us. Some of the stories of Lord Krishna's play with the Gopis have a distinctly sexual quality, such as the time He stole their clothes while they were swimming and then climbed a tree with their saris in hand, so they would have to approach Him naked! (Is it not a bit outrageous?) According to some scriptural accounts, Krishna had over 16,000 wives. I'd guess that even in 3,000 BC that was considered by many to be scandalous, adharmic, “over the top!" Yet as an incarnation of God, whatever Krishna did with His wives must have been perfect. Surely Krishna, like Baba, knew that everything, including sex, is divine, and worked through human sexuality (and every other aspect of our personalities) to lead us towards God. As Divine Incarnations, whatever Krishna and Baba do must be the very essence of dharma, even though it might appear to be adharmic at first glance.
Another example is Padmasambhava, the Enlightened Master who was one of the great forces behind the spread of Tibetan Buddhism. He is said to have had a thousand consorts – female devotees with whom he was having full sexual relations. Many of those women went on to attain Enlightenment. So perhaps the notions that a Divine Incarnation has to be celibate, and that a Guru should never have sexual interactions with a disciple, are just plain false, understandable misconceptions rooted in a system of morality that can never touch God’s reality.
The Seven Types
With my fervid imagination (smile) I've come up with seven types of people with whom a Divine Incarnation might interact in a sexual way:
- Those who need a special dose of divine energy to awaken the Kundalini.
- Those who have misused sexual energy in past lives, and therefore need that karma (and that pattern of behavior) removed. A friend of mine had a vision regarding one of the people who has accused Baba of sexual behavior, and saw that in a past life that soul had been the abbot of a monastery, and had used his position to sexually molest many of the new monks. My friend saw that in this lifetime, through Baba's intervention, that karma had been removed, and that soul thereby freed from his destructive tendency.
- Those who have a strong pattern of sexual desire which is creating an obstacle to their happiness and spiritual growth. It seems likely to me that through one interaction with an Avatar, a pattern of desire that has been building in the mind for lifetimes could be erased instantly, just as a computer disk full of pornographic imagery can be erased in a few seconds with a single 'click'. When, through some grace-filled action, an Avatar removes a burden of karma and vasanas (unhealthy mental patterns) from an individual, the momentum of that soul's evolution would be bound to powerfully increase; it would be like being placed on a short-cut to God-Realization. (Keep in mind, some Masters have said that even after a soul meets a true Guru, there can be as many as fifty human incarnations remaining before Self-Realization is attained, depending on the individual's karma. So a short-cut to God-Realization is no small gift! Baba’s intervention can literally save us from thousands of years of human suffering.)
- Those with special health needs. The testicles are a primary source of hormonal power. Surely one touch from the Divine Hand could strengthen the life force immeasurably, ensuring a lifetime of health and vitality. Similarly, those with some form of sexual dysfunction could receive an instant healing through one touch from the Lord. (I've recently learned that Baba has, in fact, healed a number of people of impotence in exactly this way.)
- Those who are destined to be parents to a high soul. Through one touch to the testicles, Baba could super-charge the semen with divine shakti, thereby enabling some great soul to incarnate. (Similarly, a touch to the belly of a woman could be preparing her womb for a special Divine Visitor. Imagine the lucky child, who gets his bed-womb swept by an Avatar?)
- Those whose relationships with Divine Masters in previous lifetimes contained an element of sexuality, such as the consorts of Padmasambhava, or the Gopis and the wives of Sri Krishna. According to the 'palm-leaf prophecies', many of Sai Baba's current devotees were His wives and devotees during His incarnation as Krishna. Perhaps Krishna gave some of His wives a promise that they could return and be intimate with Him in His next incarnation - who knows? At some point, of course, God’s grace will lift those devotees beyond all such desire, into full spiritual union, which is what Baba truly wants to give.
- Those who have an unhealthy 'psychological split' between sexuality and spirituality, who believe that sex is evil and separate from God, or that God sits in condemnation of our sexuality. What better way to heal that split than to receive a loving sexual touch from a Divine Incarnation?
All of these interactions would have ultimately the same effect: leading the souls involved closer to union with God.
Answers to Some Reasonable Questions
'But why couldn’t He do it some other way?' some people ask. I can only reply that since Baba is an Avatar, what He is doing must be perfect; it can only be "the most efficient medicine" given to just the right souls, in exactly the right way, at the right time. And if we have a problem with it, then it is our problem. Yes, the current rumors are testing the faith of millions of devotees, bringing up heaps of fear and confusion, and causing many to rethink all their understandings of what God is, what ‘good’ is, and who Sai Baba is! The rumors are forcing us to reconsider our long-cherished belief in the separation between Divinity and sexuality, and thereby see both our spirituality and our sexuality in a whole new light. And we’re having to take a good long look at that Doubting Thomas in the mirror! Yes. And I would guess that to give His devotees cause for such profound introspection is one of Baba’s primary intentions in this leela.
Others may ask, 'Why do the accusations come only from men? Is Sai Baba gay?' No, He is not gay; He is an incarnation of God: desireless, infinite, eternal and beyond any limits or categories. As an embodiment of God, it is He Himself who has brought the souls He is working with into their current bodies, and determined their gender. For whatever reason, He has brought most of the souls with whom overt sexual work is required into male bodies; perhaps God knew this would be somewhat more acceptable in the Indian culture. However, I know many long-term female devotees of Baba who say they have had sexual dreams with Him, which they felt sure were true 'darshan dreams' (rather than mere creations of their subconscious). Other women have happily claimed that Baba has come to them in a 'subtle form' (i.e., His astral body) and made love to them. One devotee told me that for many years, almost every time she meditated on Baba she would receive a strong surge of energy and sexual desire within her lower chakras. After struggling with this daily for over a decade, she says she has now reached a stage where sexual desire has been fully transcended, and she knows it will never be a problem again. For a spiritual seeker, that is an extraordinary blessing! So clearly Baba works via sexuality with women as well as men.
'Does that make Him bisexual?' No, my friends; it makes him an Avatar, and we should be grateful for His blessings and His healing work, in whatever form He gives it.
'But what about the suffering His actions have caused?' The truth is, removal of past karma almost always involves some suffering in the present; that's just the way God’s play works. But when past karma is removed by a Spiritual Master, the required suffering will be only a small percentage of the pain that would otherwise result from the same karma; this is a well-known principle of Hindu philosophy. (Many stories illustrate this point. Mahavatar Babaji once took a burning stick and intentionally burnt the shoulder of one of His disciples. When questioned, He said that due to a wrong action in the disciple's last lifetime, he had been karmically scheduled to die by fire. Babaji's apparently cruel action had actually been a compassionate gift of grace, which had cleared up that huge piece of karma with a single small burn.)
Baba has proven on numerous occasions that He has the power to remove even terminal illnesses with a single gesture. Surely, at the right moment, He will also remove any psychological traumas from the souls with whom He has done His tantric work. I personally feel certain that Baba will take special care of all of His karmic-surgery patients, giving them first rate post-operative care all the way until they attain Realization of God.
'But isn't Baba preaching one thing and doing another?' No, if you look beneath surface appearances, you'll see that Baba's actions are perfectly in line with His teachings of Universal Love, compassion and service to all. Remember, He is operating from a level of infinite knowledge, knowing every detail of the past actions of all beings, and exactly how to clear away our karma so we can progress spiritually. If His actions appear wrong to our minds, it is due only to our limited vision. Those with faith in Baba's Divinity will simply trust Him, knowing that He knows what He's doing and that His actions are ultimately for the best of all concerned.
Furthermore, it is perfectly permissible for an Avatar to have public teachings, meant primarily for the masses, and secret teachings meant only for a few. (Most Masters, Jesus included, have had such a dual teaching.) A Divine Master knows full well that most people are grossly ignorant, and will misunderstand just about everything, so if He sees that His most effective healing methods will be misjudged by humanity at large, it is only reasonable that He should keep them hidden from the masses, while utilizing them whenever it is appropriate for the benefit of certain souls. There’s nothing hypocritical about that; it’s merely practical.
'But aren't Baba’s actions in violation of His own morality teachings?' This is like asking, 'When a doctor performs surgery, isn't he actually stabbing the person, and therefore guilty of assault?' As an incarnation of God, Baba is Divine Love itself in a human form, and whatever He does, no matter how it may appear, is in truth morally pure and fully in line with His dharma (duty) as an Avatar. One important thing to keep in mind: when an Avatar's words or actions appear to be unloving, or unrighteous, or coercive, or lustful — it is only a reflection of the karma He is taking from an individual in that moment. And when He acts in such a way that a doubt is created in our mind about Him (something which Baba and many other Masters seem to often do intentionally), He is only reflecting the doubt that was already latent within our mind, bringing it to the surface so it can be faced directly. Through it all He remains forever pure; that is the Avatar's nature.
To quote Baba, ' Sai only reflects your mind. He has no prejudices or preferences. He is a mirror wherein you can see yourselves as you really are. In order to correct your mistakes and remove your faults, I have sometimes to use harsh words, but you may rest assured that my sole aim is to turn you to better ways.' (I think it is safe to add that He also sometimes has to use unorthodox methods - but His intention remains ever the same: our karmic purification and spiritual upliftment.)
Some who have turned against Baba claim they are 'following their conscience' and His actions are "just plain wrong." But do these people really know what Baba is doing on the higher spiritual levels with His actions? Considering all the testimony of the ancient sages and modern Masters that Sai Baba is an Avatar, isn't it extremely likely that He is actually only removing past-life karma from His devotees - and thereby removing the necessity for them to reincarnate again in this realm of suffering? Isn't is extremely likely that He is actually just charging their auras with divine energy in the most potent way possible, and bestowing a powerful hidden blessing on all concerned?
Our consciences, filled with worldly ideas of 'right' and 'wrong', are simply not equipped to judge the actions of an Avatar; they just don't have enough information. (Trying to do so is like insisting that a 5-year-old child can understand quantum mechanics.) Only a God-Realized Master can fully understand the actions of another Master, and see the full results of those actions. And as you'll see in Page 2, the Masters have consistently declared Sai Baba to be an incarnation of God.
I personally feel that the morality teachings Baba has given to the world are basically wonderful ‘kindergarten teachings’ for the human race, essential for our growth into the higher levels of spirituality. However, those teachings, meant as they are for the toddling masses, cannot be used to judge the actions of an omniscient, omnipresent Avatar. Those who try to do so will not only hurt themselves, they will surely have to repeat kindergarten!
Baba's Big Test
It's clear to me that the current rumors are primarily a test, given by Baba to His devotees to determine the depth of their devotion and wisdom. It's one way Baba has of pruning the Sai organization tree, of keeping those who are not karmically ready to associate with the Avatar away.
When God incarnates in a human form, He always comes cloaked in maya, an illusion-based disguise which prevents immature souls from recognizing Him as an Avatar. Rama, Krishna and Jesus also had their disguises, or why would so many have opposed them? (One example is Jesus using a whip to drive the money-changers out of the temple. I'd guess that when this became news, many people decided He was little more than a hooligan. "This was done by the Messiah, the 'Prince of Peace'? Ha!")
Those who are fooled by the Avatar’s maya fail the test, and are thus prevented from associating with Him.
For years, Baba has been predicting a time of great testing within His organization, when many of His weaker devotees would leave Him. To quote Dr. John Hislop (one of Baba’s closest devotees for many years): " [Baba] said that as a great wind comes up at harvest time and blows away the chaff and the dried wheat kernels and leaves only the solid, healthy kernels, in like manner, a great wind is arising now and will sweep away many, many devotees. Only the firm kernels will be left.'3 Well, despite the current windstorm, there are still millions of active Sai devotees around the world. Without the criticism, the crowds would be so huge that His true devotees would have no access to Him at all! (As Baba used to say, " If there is no criticism, I will buy some with money!") Those who denounce Baba are actually serving in His mission, albeit unknowingly, by helping to shake off any dead wood or rotten fruit from the Sai Organization tree, so that only those truly worthy of Baba's highest grace remain during the culminating years of His incarnation. We can be assured that the whole play is unfolding exactly as He has willed it, that even those who speak against Him are playing their parts in His movie just as He has written them. (To quote Baba, "Know that whatever happens in this world, this Avatar has willed it so.")
Although Baba's test is surely a tough one, other Gurus have given harder tests. I recently read a story about a Sufi Master who beat one of his young disciples to death - in front of the boy's family - and then, after some time, brought the boy back to life and healed him! That must have been one hell of a test for both the boy and his family! The question is, do we as devotees have the discrimination and strength of character to remain faithful to our Guru (as that family did) - even in the face of such a test? It is my certain faith that Baba will, like that Sufi Master, eventually 'resurrect' and heal anyone who now suffers from emotional trauma due to one of His karmic operations. In the meantime, however, many people will reject and condemn the Divine Doctor, thus getting an 'F' on the most important test of their lives. Truly, the test is so difficult that only those devotees whom Baba feels deserve to remain with Him will be able to pass it; it is only by His grace we can pass. And only those who pass will be eligible to receive His highest grace.
In his book Aghora: At the Left Hand of God, Robert Svoboda describes another Guru's test:
I know of a case which happened in Girnar. There was a Muslim fakir who had 1,000 disciples. When he was about to die, his disciples all began to pretend to love him a lot. So he said to himself, "Is that so? I'd better teach these buggers a lesson."
So the next day he announced, "I have decided to leave this world, but before doing so I have a desire to have sex with a female donkey. Then I'll be ready to die."
Of the 1,000 disciples, 990 said, "Guruji has gone crack," and left him. Only ten remained, thinking it was some sort of joke. The next day the fakir said to them, "Now, please collect the money necessary to buy the donkey." Then those ten realized he was serious, and seven of them left saying, "What can this man know when he is entangled in such worldly desires?"
Three remained and the next day the fakir said to the three, "By my astrological calculations I have determined a good day. Now, be prepared with the donkey." Another departed after this speech, leaving two. After the donkey was brought one of the two boys realized that the old fellow was going to go through with it, and he too got fed up and left. The fakir looked at the sole survivor and said, "What are you waiting for? Better go now."
The boy said, "Oh no, my Lord, I want to see how you do it with this donkey."
"All right," said the old man. "Bind her legs nicely so that she doesn't kick me." After this was done he said, "Now, lift her tail so that I can have a clear passage."
As soon as the boy touched her tail the donkey turned into a beautiful Shakti, a Yakshini [Goddess], who went and sat on the fakir's left thigh. The old man said, "Now, take this Shakti, and she will teach you what you want to know." When the Shakti had passed from the fakir to the boy, the old man died.4
It remains to be seen how many of Baba's disciples will remain when the current exam is finished!
Ammachi tells a story about a Guru who decided to test his devotees by contracting leprosy. Most of his devotees left him, thinking 'What kind of power can he have?' He then became increasingly abusive to the others, until finally only one disciple remained. After putting him through many further tests, and seeing his unflinching faith and surrender, the Guru finally determined the disciple to be worthy; he then instantly healed himself of leprosy and bestowed on that disciple the supreme gift of Enlightenment.
So the tradition of Gurus testing their devotees is well-established. Baba has millions of devotees around the world. What better way to determine the depth of their faith and devotion than to check their responses to such a test? I pray that we may all pass with firm faith and devotion, remembering Baba's divine identity and the perfection of His eternal Love.
I believe it's also possible that through this leela, Sai Baba is actually taking upon Himself the sexual karma—not only of a few individuals—but of the entire planet, and burning off a large portion of humanity’s destined suffering through the crucifixion of global slander and condemnation. With His infinite power, He can easily bear the suffering karmically meant for mankind, which otherwise would have further burdened our pain-wracked world. Why else would an omniscient Divine Incarnation willingly walk into such a crucible? It could only be for the benefit of humanity, and an integral part of His divine mission.
That He has created, as part of that mission, such a tumultuous storm of controversy, and yet remains, as always, dancing blissfully on the waves, clearly enjoying every moment of the globe-rocking leela, is surely yet another sign of His divine identity.
As I see it, nothing less outrageous would be Krishna.
Of course, many people who hear the rumors will instantly judge and condemn Baba. (It certainly won’t be the first time an Avatar has been condemned! Facing betrayal and false accusations seems to be part of the life-script of most Divine Incarnations.) Like those who condemned Jesus and opposed Rama and Buddha and Krishna, when people judge Sai Baba they are truly hurting only themselves - unless, in the process, they publicly slander Baba and succeed in dragging other devotees away from Him. Such a course of action (being undertaken by a number of people these days) seems to me nothing less than karmic suicide, a tragic step onto one of the longest chutes in the cosmic ‘Chutes and Ladders’ game, a slippery slide leading all the way to hell. (I don’t use the word lightly.) I, for one, definitely wouldn’t want the karma of slandering or otherwise interfering with the mission of a living incarnation of God. As Neem Karoli Baba said, regarding a man who had used his name to raise money for a project which was not actually associated with Neem Karoli Baba, “I won’t do anything to him. But for what he has done, he will whirl around the universe for eons.” 5
Betrayal of the Guru is no ordinary sin.
To those former 'devotees' who are now joining in the chorus of condemnation, I have a hypothetical question for you. If Baba were to miraculously appear before you today in a living form (as He has often been known to do in various places around the globe) - and reveal to you His universal form, as Krishna did for Arjuna - would you still feel it appropriate to judge and condemn His actions? Have you been fooled by His maya - and forgotten He is an incarnation of God? Do you really believe a Poornavatar, an embodiment of the Lord of the Universe, has to abide by your rules and fit within your narrow concepts?
Truly, it is laughable!
Yet we mustn’t be too harsh on those who criticize Baba, for these rumors are an advanced test even by His tough standards. Although He embodies infinite Divine Love, He is nonetheless a very ‘strict Teacher’ - I have yet to meet a long-term Sai devotee who has not been severely tested in one way or another by the Lord. I believe He intentionally makes His tests difficult, painfully stretching our concepts of God, and pointing out the limits of our Love again and again; for the privilege of communion with an Avatar is not easily attained, and even when gained, easily lost.
God as Cosmic Author, Producer and Director
Just as a mind-expander, let’s take a deeper look at what it might mean to say that God has incarnated in our midst. One concept I’ve meditated on for years is ‘God is the Author, Producer and Director of the universal movie.’ His omniscience guarantees that every moment of the movie was previewed before the creation began, His all-seeing Mind acting as an instant movie camera for the whole universal drama. Since He witnessed it all, from beginning to end, in the very first moment, and He alone started the show, the world play unfolding before our eyes is truly God’s movie, every moment of it already filmed, and playing out by His power. Now, what kind of movie is this we’re living in? Let’s face it - it’s full of sex and violence of all kinds, 24 hours a day! By God, it’s X-rated!! And yet it’s also an uplifting romance of the highest order, brimming with true love, kindness and great beauty. Furthermore, it’s a holy movie, with all characters gradually growing in spiritual awareness, and each soul eventually attaining Enlightenment. So - it’s a beautiful, X-rated, violent, holy movie! An all-inclusive divine comedy, written by that wondrously mischievous Krishna (or Kali, if you prefer, or Allah, God the Father, Parashakti, Lord Brahma - any name will do!) - the Creator, that Supreme Source of bliss and suffering, of bondage and liberation, of life and death and Enlightenment.
The Starring Role
Now, with the descent of an Avatar like Baba, that supreme Creator literally takes birth in this world, to play a starring role in His own movie. He comes for many reasons: to sow faith and devotion in the hearts of billions of nonbelievers, thereby uplifting the whole planet; to teach the unity underlying all religions; and to lead those who seek it all the way to Enlightenment.
AND - He’s here to dance the most outrageous part in His own creation! When the Supreme Lord takes birth, He makes very big waves: He both lays down the law and breaks it to pieces, as Jesus, Moses, Krishna and Padmasambhava all did. (It should come as no surprise when the Mother Kali, incarnate in a human form, doesn’t turn out to be a choirboy.) The mischievous God who created this Cosmos will both fulfill our expectations of what a Divine Incarnation should be - and mercilessly shatter them. He will personify dharma beautifully, and yet also behave in ways which shock and offend people at times. He will embody - and then destroy - our concepts of what God is, for the concepts of mankind are always too rigid, too small, and inherently false. By His actions He will challenge us to see that Everything is God and All is God’s will, even that which the world calls “wrong.” He will show us that to truly love God is to embrace not just the good, but All That Is, for this entire world play is made only of and by God!
It seems natural enough to me that the Author of this divine movie, which is so full of sexual expression of all kinds, might have some sexual expression within His role as the Avatar. And it is only our rigid ideas of what is ‘holy’ and ‘unholy’ that create a problem. (Surely God Himself knows that every iota of His creation is holy.) By occasionally behaving in ways the world deems wrong, Baba is challenging us to erase all our judgments, and see all as God, thereby enabling us to forgive and love all beings, in all situations, throughout all time - including ourselves.
Is it not perhaps His most profound teaching?
Only An Incarnation of God Could Do That
The most important thing to remember in understanding Baba’s actions is that He is an incarnation of God, a fact easily clouded over when such allegations are in the air. As a brief reminder of Baba’s identity, here is the story of my friend Murali, an American woman who now lives in Puttaparthi (more fully set forth in her upcoming book, Indweller of the Heart.) In the mid-1990’s, while living in the USA, she was diagnosed with potentially fatal cancer, and underwent surgery. Afterwards her doctor told her, “It’s much worse than I thought. You’ll need more surgery, and then chemotherapy.” Murali had been meditating since she was four years old, and responded, “Let me ask God first.” When she offered the question in meditation, she heard a divine voice which said, “Don’t have the surgery; it will do you more harm than good. Trust in Me and go back to work.”
Murali had never heard the name of Sai Baba and had never seen His photo.
Two weeks later, at 4:00 a.m. on Christmas morning, she felt strongly called into her meditation room; and a few minutes after she sat down, a large ball of glowing light and energy appeared before her. Out of that light emerged the form of a Divine Man, radiant with what she recognized as a fully Enlightened aura, His hair in an afro, His body dressed in a full-length white robe - which is what Sai Baba wears on Christmas morning. She communed with the Visitor silently for a while, receiving a clear stream of inner communication. He then raised His right hand and telepathically said, “ I have come to bring great blessing in your life. I will return for you when the time is right.” He then raised His left hand as well, and began channeling a palpable divine energy into her body – and within seconds, Murali knew her cancer had been healed. The Visitor remained standing with her for ten minutes or so, as that healing shakti raced through her body; during this time Murali intuitively saw that all of her body’s systems were being restored to vibrant health. The Visitor then waved His hand and manifested some gray ash (vibhuti, Baba’s trademark gift), and dropped it onto the carpet in front of her, as proof that the apparition had been genuine. And then He vanished.
When Murali went for her next doctor’s appointment, the cancer was completely gone. (The doctor was flabbergasted.)
To make a long story short, three years later Murali finally saw Sai Baba’s photo – and instantly recognized Him as her Christmas morning ‘Visitor.’ Baba then appeared before her again, gave her some divine gifts, and called her to come and live in Puttaparthi.
Thomas, don’t be a doubter. Only an incarnation of God could do that.
A Clear Choice
As author Jack Hawley has pointed out, although we don’t have any way of knowing exactly what Baba is doing with His actions, “we do have some quite clear hints about what's happening here:
- It has to do with Love so deep, so divine that nothing can stand in its way - not even the threat of misunderstanding or calumny.
- It has to do with healing, not harming.
- It has to do with the Avatar’s mission here on earth (which, of course, has to fit this crazy Kali age).
- It has to do with the purity of our own minds . . . . The impurity is not in the Avatar, who is purity itself; it’s in the world, in our minds."6
How we approach the current situation can either corrupt our minds further and lead us deeper into a realm of fear, judgment and guilt - or lead us forward towards realization of the all-encompassing, all-pervading God who is our true Being.
Despite the current brouhaha, I believe Baba’s Divinity is self-evident, and the choice before us is clear. Either we have faith, based on our own inner experiences and the testimony of the ancient Sages and modern Masters, that Sai Baba is an incarnation of God, and trust that His actions are therefore perfect - or, we doubt and judge Him, and thereby lose an extremely precious opportunity for communion with a living Poornavatar. If we take the latter course, and influence others to do the same, not only do we knock ourselves off a once-in-a-Yuga fast track to God-Realization, we also risk accruing karma which could stay with us for eons.
It seems to me the choice for faith, based on intelligent discrimination and the words of the Masters, is the only wise option.
Although they have challenged me to the core, the rumors of Baba’s rasa dance with His devotees have ultimately given me only more love for Him, more faith in His Divinity, and greatly deepened my awareness of the All-embracing and exquisitely UNLIMITABLE nature of the God who He is - and who we all truly are.
To that supreme Divine Being, I bow.
Finally, You Must Find the Answers Within
What I’ve shared here, of course, are the answers that work for me. Finally, we must all search our own hearts, and find our own guidance and understanding. Remember though, the surface levels of the mind, full of worldly arguments and the judgments of others, will not suffice. For answers you can trust on such vital questions, you must dive deep within your soul, and receive your guidance directly from God.
Don't wade. Dive in! And discover your Self.
“ Within you is the mighty ocean of nectar divine. Seek it within you. Feel it. Feel it. It is here, the Self. It is not the body, the mind, the intellect, the brain... Above all these you are... You appear as the smiling flower, as the twinkling stars. What is there in the world which can make you desire anything?”
- Sathya Sai Baba
During the four years I’ve spent at Baba’s Prashanti Nilayam ashram, I’ve had many extraordinary experiences, and I’ve also collected some powerful information on the question of Sai Baba’s identity, much of it never before published. Given the current crisis of faith, I thought it high time I share this material with the world.
Also addressed in Part 2: allegations of Baba performing ‘false materializations’.
Sai Baba and Sex - A Clear View?
Potent Evidence: Who is Sai Baba?
The Most Precious Substance in the Universe
“Krishna, Kali, Mr. Mischief!” (a song...!)
GLOSSARY of SANSKRIT TERMS
- Adharmic: unrighteous.
- Advaitha: the philosophy of non-duality.
- Amrit: a honey-like jasmine-flavored nectar.
- Atman: Divine Self.
- Atmic: pertaining to the Atman.
- Avatar: Incarnation of God.
- Ajna Chakra: the sacred energy center located at the ‘third eye’, in the center of the forehead.
- Anahat Chakra: the sacred energy center located in the ‘heart area.’
- Bhagavan: Lord.
- Brahma: Lord Brahma is the Creator, the first of the Hindu Trinity.
- Brahman: the Supreme Reality; non-dual, formless pure Awareness.
- Chakras: the seven sacred energy centers within the spine of man.
- Darshan: Seeing a Saint. (In Sai Baba's ashram, 'darshan' specifically refers to Baba's walking out among the devotees, giving everyone a chance to see His form.)
- Darshan dreams: special dreams given by God to His devotees, in which a form of God appears.
- Gopis: Lord Krishna’s cowherd-girl devotees.
- Guru: spiritual teacher. With a capital ‘G’, the word implies a fully Self-Realized Divine Master.
- Jnana: divine wisdom of the highest order. (One who truly has Jnana has reached the Goal of Life.)
- Jnani: one who has attained full Realization of the Atman. The term is most often applied to those who have attained Realization via the path of Self-enquiry.
- Karma: the cosmic law of cause and affect; ‘As you sow, so shall you reap.’
- Kumkum: a red powder used in the worship of the Divine Mother.
- Kundalini: the spiritual force latent within man, which remains dormant unless awakened through spiritual practices.
- Leela: divine play, or sport. Many Hindus believe the whole universe is a ‘leela’, a play of God.
- Lingam: a symbol of the Supreme Reality, used in the worship of Lord Shiva.
- Maha: a prefix meaning 'great'.
- Mahavatar: ‘Great Divine Incarnation’.
- Maya: The cosmic illusion; the power which veils the truth and keeps us stuck in bondage.
- Moksa (also: Moksha): The final spiritual Liberation, i.e., Self-Realization.
- Muladhara Chakra: the sacred energy center located at the base of the spine.
- Nilayam: ‘The abode of…’.
- Pada Puja: foot-worship ceremony.
- Paramatma: Supreme Divine Self.
- Parashakti: a name of the Divine Mother, meaning ‘Supreme Power’.
- Parvati: one form of the Divine Mother. (Parvati is the consort of Lord Shiva.)
- Poornavatar: a full incarnation of God.
- Prashanti: Supreme Peace.
- Prema: Divine Love.
- Puja: worship ceremony.
- Purushartha: the spiritual Goal of Life, i.e., Self-Realization.
- Puttaparthi: the town in Andhra Pradesh, South India, where Sai Baba’s “Prashanti Nilayam” ashram is located.
- Rasa dance: Krishna's dance with the Gopis, in which He manifested Himself into numerous forms so He could personally dance with each Gopi.
- Rishis: the ancient Hindu Sages.
- Sadhaks: dedicated full-time spiritual seekers.
- Sadhana: spiritual practices such as meditation, contemplation, Self-enquiry, and repetition of the Divine Name.
- Sakti: Divine Power; also, a name of the Divine Mother.
- Samadhi: a state of Yogic absorption in the Supreme Being, in which the mind is completely stilled.
- Sathya: Truth.
- Shirdi: the town in Maharashtra where Shirdi Sai Baba lived.
- Siddhis: Yogic powers, i.e., the power to work miracles.
- Subramaniam: The second son of Lord Shiva and Parvati.
- Tantra: an ancient spiritual path. (‘Right-handed tantra’ involves worship of the Divine Mother through mantras and meditation, whereas ‘Left-handed tantra’ additionally involves the direct use of sexual energy and, sometimes, intoxicants, to awaken the spiritual power within man.)
- Vasanas: mental tendencies; oft-repeated patterns of thought and action which create unwanted habits and mental bondage.
- Venkateshwara: a form of Lord Vishnu, worshipped in Tirupathi, Tamil Nadu.
- Vibhuti: ‘sacred ash’, often manifested by Sai Baba for His devotees. Vibhuti carries a spiritual and/or medicinal blessing.
- Vishnu: the ‘Preserver’ in the great Hindu Trinity, ‘Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.’ Many Hindus worship Vishnu as the Supreme Lord.
- Yoga: the many-branched science of attaining union with God. Yogi: one who has attained union with God through the practice of Yoga.
 The Test; Kundalini Foundation for Self-Realisation, Feb. 99, New Delhi; p.1
 From the Thought for the Day bulletin board at Sai Baba's "Brindavan" ashram, 2 June, 2001
 Seeking Divinity, Dr. John S. Hislop; Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust, Prashanthi Nilayam, India, February 1998; pp. 15-16.
 Aghora: At the Left Hand of God; Robert E. Svoboda; Rupa & Co., New Delhi, 1986; pp. 158-159
 From Miracle of Love: Stories About Neem Karoli Baba; Ram Dass (comp.), Sri Kainchi Hanuman Mandir & Ashram Trust, Kainchi, India; 1979
 Excerpted from an open letter from Jack Hawley to the Sai organization; 2000
 Sai Baba Gita: The Way to Self-Realization and Liberation in This Age; Drucker, A. (ed.); Sai Towers Publishing, Bangalore, 1994; frontispiece./p>
Sai Baba and Sex - A Clear View?
Potent Evidence: Who is Sai Baba?
The Most Precious Substance in the Universe