Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s Vision For A Developed India
Where there is a will, there is a way. Sathya Sai Baba has proved this in his life. The devotion and selfless service to humanity by Baba, who passed away on the morning of April 24, added a special and distinct fervour to the spiritual ethos of the nation. He was a charismatic spiritual person with a global appeal. He was above narrow and sectarian considerations and he treated humanity as one family. There’s a lot more to the man than his magical powers. It’s his persona that sent devotees into raptures. One cannot describe it in words. It’s the spiritual bliss one feels at his ashram. No surprise that presidents, prime ministers, politicians, bureaucrats, actors, business magnates, scientists, students or just the common man who are staunch devotees of Sai Baba believe that it’s his presence in their lives that worked miracles. In fact, he is one of the rarest karmayogis India has ever produced, as he wiped the tears from the withered faces of the poor and the marginalised Indians. He had certain mesmeric powers to attract millions of human beings towards his abode. Maybe he had several critics who used to uncharitably criticise him and his charitable disposition. But, he will be remembered for the unbelievable spiritual service and the philanthropic works he performed for the welfare of mankind. He imparted spiritual wisdom in easy-to-grasp words and stressed on service to humankind as a catalyst for spiritual growth. He said: “Service is the highest spiritual discipline. Prayer and meditation, knowledge of scripture and Vedanta cannot help you reach the goal as quickly as service can. Service has a double effect—it extinguishes the ego and gives bliss.” Baba’s stress on service is no lip service. He undertook philanthropic and public service activities in a big way. The Sathya Sai Central Trust, set up in 1972 to run the ashram, constructed a major water supply project for Anantapur district. It also generously provided funds for the Sathya Sai Ganga Canal, meant to supply Krishna water to Chennai. The Sathya Sai institutions including the Institute of Higher Medical Services (SSSIHMS) and the Institute of Learning have turned models for quality healthcare and provision of education free of cost to meritorious students. The Rs 300-crore SSSIHMS at Prashantigram and a similar 330-bed super speciality hospital at Whitefield near Bengaluru, run by the Central Trust stand as testimony to the efforts of Sai Baba to make advanced medicare affordable to the common man. The Central Trust has been equally focussed on providing free education, and the Sathya Sai University is the only university in India to have received an “A++” rating by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (an autonomous body established by the University Grants Commission). It is a one-of-its-kind institution, where higher education is offered free of cost. Also the Sri Sathya Sai Easwaramma Women’s Welfare Trust marked a new era for women in restoration of their innate dignity.
Irrespective of what critics and followers have to say about Sri Sai Baba, I always admire his greatness and help he rendered to the society, which makes him remembered for his good social work. Thus the passing-away of spiritual leader Sri Sathya Sai Baba has deprived us of a great philanthropist par excellence. The free healthcare he provided to the multitudes and his drinking water projects are unparalleled. He did what governments are expected to do, without expecting anything in return. He drew followers from all faiths and his disciples are spread across the world. Baba used to say: “I have come not to disturb or destroy any faith, but to confirm each in his own faith—so that the Christian becomes a better Christian, the Muslim, a better Muslim, and the Hindu, a better Hindu.” Hospitals created by his Trust offer free treatment to the poor. Schools, colleges, housing projects and free drinking water supply are important ongoing projects. Education, healthcare and providing safe drinking water were high on the list of service essentials. For, he used to say: “For health, the heart is important; for knowledge, the head is important; for the body, water is essential; all three—healthcare, education and water should be provided free. They should not be commercialised, for, all these are gifts of God.” Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, schools, colleges of learning and music, and Sri Sathya Sai International School for Human Values at New Delhi stick to Sai Baba’s principles and charge no fee whatsoever. It is Baba’s guiding philosophy to SSSIHMS that provides state-of-the-art healthcare facilities; these are gratis for the poor. His devotees may or may not be on the lookout for a reincarnation in some remote place but for society at large, his legacy will be the message of love and harmony and the altruistic activities of his cash-rich trust that, without his guiding hand, needs to resist temptation and carry on with integrity, transparency, and imagination. Avatar or not, there is no disputing the scale and reach of the good work done by Sathya Sai Baba, his institutions and followers. The Baba gave succour to millions. It’s faith and hope that move his followers, with the strong motivation of putting service before self. And that’s not a point of dissension. The body might wither away, but the message that brings hope remains. It is owing to his massive efforts that Puttaparthi, a sleepy village in Andhra Pradesh, has become a global name. He was a great human being, who always wanted to help his co-mankind in the form of establishing educational institutions and hospitals. He deserves rich tributes for his contribution to the society.