Sai Baba's magical powers manifested in serving the poor

In my perception the quality of any person is to be judged not from the divine claims a person makes but the life he leads in relationship to others. A divine person if he makes claims to be divine should be able to express that divinity through his humanity. The ultimate quality of any human being making a claim to be divine should be to translate that divinity into human living by his concern to the poor, compassion to the suffering and sensitivity to those in anguish. Caring for other human beings is an essential part of living a divine life. Nobody can deny the fact that Sathya Sai Baba has touched the lives of the poor and the deprived.

He had pioneered many social service activities beginning with a general hospital at Puttaparthi with 220 beds and a 333-bedded hospital at Whitefield, both superspecialty hospitals. The fact that the poor get free services surely is a tribute to Sathya Sai Baba. If that hospital was non-existent there would have been so many lives of the poor lost. One of the dreams of the framers of the constitution was to provide quality health care for all. It is the Baba that made it possible to realise that dream for the people of Andhra and other southern states.

Education is another service that is not easily available to the poor. The Sathya Sai Trust runs many schools and colleges. These educational institutions are not run as commercial enterprises for profits but as institutions for the commoners. The standards of education imparted here is qualitative.

“I have come to light the lamp of love in your hearts, to see that it shines day by day with added lustre. I have not come on any mission or publicity for any sect or creed or cause nor have I come to collect followers for any doctrine. I have no plans to attract disciples or devotees into my fold or any fold. I have come to tell you of the universal, unitary of faith, this path of love, this duty of love, this obligation to love”, Baba had said.

This has been the philosophy of his educational institutions spreading universal values of faith, service and love.

Drinking water

Another area of major contribution of Sathya Sai Baba for the poor has been in providing drinking water. A project that began in 1994 has provided water to more than 700 villages in Andhra Pradesh. Nine lakh people have benefitted from the scheme. In addition 274 villages have been covered by borewells. In 98 villages there has been comprehensive scheme with water treatment plants using water from Pennar Ahobilam reservoir as source. In 115 villages there has been another scheme with infiltration well in the bed of Chitravathi Reservoir at Parnapalli as source. The Sathya Sai Trust has also completed large water supply projects in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

Out of pure concern to humanity, during the time of disasters and calamities, volunteers from the Sathya Sai Seva Organisation are always found in the forefront carrying out relief and rehabilitation work. It is a tribute to the spirit of humanity that is professed by the trust of course taught by Sri Sathya Sai Baba. All godmen in India ask for donations. What is appreciative of Sathya Sai Baba is that he has used the money to take care of the poor. Otherwise, it is not humanly possible to provide such expensive free medical care, look after the poor and provide free water supply. The Bangalore hospital has conducted over 4 lakh heart surgeries free of cost. The trust is also responsible to 1,300 ashrams worldwide.

What is the philosophy of life of this man? Let me quote his own words: “Serve the poor with love. That alone can redeem you. Service to the poor is service to god. Sacrifice your life for the cause of the poor. Service to the poor is my only motto. I have no other desires. I am prepared to sacrifice even my life to serve the poor. Of what use is human life if it is not spent in the service of the poor?” For the services he has rendered to the poor and the deprived, the state and the nation needs to be grateful. Instead of celebrating his magical powers, it is better to examine his contribution to human development. If only other godmen follow his example, India would make a quick progress.

(The writer is the principal of St Joseph’s College, Bangalore)

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