Sathya Sai Baba is dead. He has followers; he has skeptics and haters. As an exercise, I will give you unbiased information and let you decide. Follow the jump:

On the plus side, there are drinking water projects in an arid land, village transformations and two massive super-speciality hospitals that provide treatment for free. Let me emphasize that: Hospitals which provide any and every kind of treatment and operation free of cost. Even you can go today and sign up. You ought to find that staggering. He has positively affected millions of devotees and instilled a sense of selfless service and compassion. Leaving a handful of devotees, the rest have caused much positive influence around the world. Then there is a superbly well-organized administration in a peaceful location, Puttaparthi. Plus many more that I’m not aware of.

On the negative side, news channels — perhaps out of respect in a sensitive situation — mention that the controversies around him include trust fund issues. That’s letting him off lightly. Negatives include one bloody incident involving student murders that wasn’t investigated, sexual abuse of minors with enough proof, amateur tricks passed off as miracles (This is, contrary to intuition, not an important issue as even devotees do not consider materializations as his USP). And many more that I’m not aware of.

For sake of balance, you should go back and read the positives.

(I have not included miracles in either list because that’s more of a follower’s claim-to-fame.)

What’s your take now?

My answer: I think both sides will and should forever co-exist. Infringing on rights is a heinous offense and should to be punishable by law without condition. But if I set aside law for a moment and judge it all by my personal ethics: How many lives improved and saved would I equate to comparatively fewer lives seriously infringed? That’s when I get into interesting moral grey areas. I have to stay away because I cannot do anything about the negatives or provide a comparable alternative for the positives.

(To repeat: This is personal ethics I talk about; law has a course it did not take. And I repeat because our reading comprehension is affected when information is unnerving.)


As a reporter on IBNLive commented: Unkay laakhon karodon fans  .. er followers hain. Here are pictures with some of them:

(If there is someone else you respect whose photographs are not here, let me know.)

With Sachin Tendulkar.

With Sachin Tendulkar.

With Sunil Gavaskar.

With Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Chandrababu Naidu.

With APJ Abdul Kalam.

With Manmohan Singh, Pratibha Patil.

With Rajinikanth.

With Manoj Kumar, Mohammad Rafi.

With Idi Amin.

With Sonu Nigam.

With T.N. Seshan.

With Karunanidhi.