Religion without Philosophy is superstition; Philosophy without Religion is atheism. Ralph W. Emerson.

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Unity in Diversity Series
Unity in Diversity Series
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Last Amended: 19 Sep 2005

Who is Sai?

Known variously as “Sai Baba”, “Sai”, “Baba”, “Swami” and “Bhagwan”, he was born in 1926, and is said to have commenced his ministry in 1940, starting with a mere handful of adherents.

Today his ministry is famed worldwide and has many followers in practically all regions of the world. He, however, concentrates his personal centre of activities in the area of Bangalor in mid-East India, where he has performed miracles in respect of practical developments in education, medicine and water projects, principally for the benefit of the poor. In doing this, he attracts the voluntary help of many professional people (architects, doctors, etc.) from around the world in his various enterprises, and hospitals have been constructed in record time.

A Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, V. K. Pillay, wrote in his ‘Quest for Divinity’:

Sai Baba provides much insight into the teachings of the Hindu faith (Sanathana Dharma), and has written a great amount of material on the subject, in addition to speaking regularly to devotees. He receives visitors from many parts of the world. He often refers to the importance of the words of teachers such as Krishna, Buddha and Jesus, and the meaning behind their words. He also refers to Islam, and importantly to Sufi teachings. Sai Baba has advised devotees to study the lives of spiritual saints.

Over the years, Sathya Sai Baba has incurred not only much adulation but also much criticism and accusations for a number of reasons. His community of followers have at times been sorely tested in their faith. But what is clear is that much good and positive energy has been generated which has caused so many people to seek him and his words. I have been privileged to know a family whose child had severe physical afflictions from birth, and with no progress under medical treatment in Britain, the parents in desperation turned to Baba for help. They took their child to India and Baba worked his miracles on the child. Though the child did not entirely recover, the change in him was still monumental. The child’s capabilities were hugely improved and he became an enthusiastic singer of spiritual praises.

Please click here to link to the official Sai Baba site

Further, the Sai Baba organisation has been working for years in the promotion of good values amongst children, based on the Vedic tenets: Right Conduct, Truth, Love, Peace and Non-violence. The Sathya Sai Education in Human Values (SSEHV) group work tirelessly in this regard, and British schools (and in other countries) have received much valued input from their work. Please click here to link to the UK SSEHV site

Love, Purpose and Unity are His Themes

"Only when we are able to develop the feeling that we are all the children of God, that we are all one brotherhood and that none really is apart and alien to us, the flower of forebearance will blossom in our heart. Only when there is love, there will be forbearance. Forbearance is but the result of love and compassion towards all beings."

The above statement was central to a discourse that Sai gave on May 12, 1981 at Dharmakshetra, India. That discourse was one of many hundreds (if not thousands!) given over the years, but in this particular discourse it seems that many key aspects of his teachings emerged.

"When the mind is cleansed of all its dross and impurities, and noble and pure feelings are cultivated, then will dawn the Vision of Wisdom and the entire creation will be glimpsed in its true light as Brahman (the supreme Godhead itself).

"If there be no flower, the fruit-bud is not born; if there be no fruit-bud there will be no fruit either. In the same manner, if there be no dedicated activity (Karma), devotion (Bhakti) will not arise. Without devotion, wisdom (Jnana) will not dawn."

In this discourse, Sai called for believers to propitiate God with good conduct, good thoughts and keeping good company. Worshipping God through one's own virtues is no ordinary worship and is a far higher and advanced mode of worship.

So, rather than worship by normal means, including the ritual prayer and worship with flowers, instead apply the eight "flowers" of self worship. These eight "flowers" are the following practises:

But, spiritual practise should never take the believer to excess. Sai advises believers to cultivate the habit of moderation. He says that if we take anything to excess, it will ruin our health.

Sai Baba poses a series of radical questions: How important is the organic life of eating only? What is the value of all the technological advances if we do not uplift our humanness? Is it an advance if we have not enhanced our peace?

The above is but an extract of the essential points of Sai's discourse. However, it is most certainly worth reading the discourse in full, particularly as Sai uses many similes to explain various important points. To see the full text click here to load the text in a new window.

To attempt to summarise all Sai's teachings:

It is not Sai Baba’s intention to convert anyone from his or her existing religious faith, nor is he creating a new faith. Quite the reverse; he wants to help Christians to be better Christians, Muslims to be better Muslims, Hindus to be better Hindus…

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