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July 31, 2011

Page: 16/44

Home > 2011 Issues > July 31, 2011

Puttaparthi must be developed as a centre of excellence for Hindu devotion

By K Shyam Prasad

FOR over 60 years, Puttaparthi in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh has been synonymous with Saibaba. A relatively nondescript village got transformed over the decades as a centre for devotion and service for lakhs of devotees from India and abroad. It inspired millions across the countries and not just Hindus in the country.

Equality among all religions is a concept that is innate in Hinduism. Sanatana Saradhi contained summaries of numerous discourses from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads. A vast majority of his devotees are Hindus. Anyone who has heard the discourses of Satya Sai Baba will have no doubt that he was propagating and talking about Hinduism in its broadest sense. He did not confine himself to that; his teachings also touched upon values, traditions and culture of the country and these were spread to students from primary levels to the university levels. The numerous schools and colleges that were established and run by him are amongst the best.

Among his other services were provision of health and medicare facilities to the economically deprived and needy. Across Rayalseema, he provided for drinking water facilities to a large number of villages in a very short span of time. He blended devotion with service and education. Touched and moved by this, donations poured in from across the globe and he ensured their right utilisation.

Satya Sai baba is no longer with us mortally. The present day happenings in Puttaparthi are attracting the media headlines. While some of them are grossly exaggerated, others are being projected with a pronounced anti-Hindu stance. Preposterous allegations have been hurled—all baseless and motivated.

It must be noted that the service and other devotional activities at Puttaparthi are not the fiefdom of the Trust or Baba’s family. Respecting the faith and affection of the devotees, the Trustees must continue the good work and not treat it as a private property. In order to ensure complete objectivity and enhance the public faith, complete transparency and accountability must be put in place. The Trust may be required to take some help from the government and its agencies; in any case, a full disclosure of all the assets and liabilities must be done.

While there is so much corruption and ineptitude plaguing so many governments, the latter must not try to take over the Satya Sai Trust. All such attempts must be opposed tooth and nail by the devotees. The need of the hour is to take all sections along and properly channelise the energy and assets in the right direction. Where required, support of the government may be obtained. Puttaparthi cannot be viewed from the narrow prism of a pilgrim centre. The Trust must take a holistic view and must focus its energies on putting in place teams to promote literature, education, culture and health care facilities.

When saints and seers leave the mortal world, their philosophy and teachings continue to lead us like beacon lights. The services continue unabated drawing inspiration and sustenance from the great seers—from Adi Shankara onwards. The samadhis of great saints have always inspired— Mantralayam and Shirdi included. Puttaparthi too will be so.

Puttaparthi must be run by a trustworthy Trust and not taken over by the government.

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