Necklace of Nine Sai Gems,
Volume 2, Baba's Matchless World Mission
This is the second volume by Dr Adivi Reddy, author of the Nine-Volume series called Nava Ratna Mala (Necklace of Nine Sai Gems). This volume focuses on aspects of "Baba's Matchless World-Mission".
In this book there are chapters detailing mission as a supreme revolution, the retrospects and prospects of the mission, the mission at work, a seva organisation, exhortation to the workers, the service wing, the impact of the organisation. Study circles, Education in Human Values, Bal Vikas and SSE, Sai Spiritual Education are noted. There is a chapter on the Glory and Puissance of God's name. The Rules of the organisation, dealing with criticism among members, the ten fold path to divinity, dealing with anger, and Ceiling on Desires are all covered. There are chapters on Women and the Youth. Prashanti Nilayam is called the Hub and Heart of the Universe.
"Matchless World-Mission" is an interesting subtitle. A reader has to consider carefully what the matchless aspects of a world mission are. In what ways is Baba matchless, and in what ways are his activities matchless? This provokes some reflection on the presence and acts of Sathya Sai Baba. This may lead to enquiry about the purpose of Baba's mission.
Dr Reddy does not stitch the concept of 'matchless world mission' together with the chapter content for his reader. Many of the chapters are simply collections of quotes on what Baba has said on various topics, and some chapters, for example, the 9 Point Code and the Ten Principles, are simply lists of these guidelines with nary a development. An introductory para and a concluding sentence, and not much else. The reader is left to infer, from a collection of seemingly unrelated chapters, why Baba's world mission is matchless.
Perhaps Dr Reddy may be forgiven, for there are several useful chapters here. The chapter on the Divine Name takes a song, Prema Muditha Manasa Kaho, and develops aspects of the Divine Name itself, its saving power, the different aspects of the avatara contained in the name, and the various facets of Baba's divinity and his inner connection to one and all, contained within that divine name. Dr Reddy brings forth the full glory of the Divine name. There is also a lesser consideration of the same aspects within the Hari Bhajana Bina song. The chapters on Anger and Criticism and Ceiling on Desires are useful presentations and development of Swami's teachings on these subjects. Ceiling on Desires, for example, is also about eliminating bad desires.
One is then left asking, 'Why is this material on the Divine Name contained in a book on Baba's world mission? It is because meditation on the Divine Name is a development of the nine point code of conduct, but the author has failed to connect the dots together for his reader. The material on anger is also development of one of the nine points, ditto the chapter on criticism, which also comes from not talking about people behind their backs. These are the foundations which have been overlooked in threading together the proper connections within this book itself. Sambhanda is the proper relations between the chapters in the book, their context and relevance. Although these chapters are relevant and indeed necessary, perhaps even excellent study circle material, readers need to be guided through a book with the proper connections and references linking chapters, so there is a sense of having grasped the author's purpose.
The author has chosen to have a chapter titled Supreme Revolution. Revolution has connotations of overthrow, upheaval, revolt, insurgency. Perhaps readers could think of a silent revolution of love in the heart, as we know many devotees would do. In fact, the intent is to communicate Baba's spiritualisation of all aspects of life. The elements of this revolution are canteens, Educational Institutes, Games and Sports, Music School, Temples, Water Project and the like. These are all activities that Baba has undertaken or built up within the precincts of Prashanti Nilayam. These are hardly revolutionary; perhaps they might be more appropriately highlighted as manifestations of Baba's will, divine grace and plan for humanity at large.
On reflection, the matchless elements of Baba's world mission are the activities, the organisation and the structures HE has put in place to bring about world-transformation. We cannot but forget that Baba has repeatedly told on the verandah, "But for the change of mind and heart in my devotees, the world would be in a mess" (or words to that effect). So there is clearly a divine purpose at work in this, the Kali Yuga, which is more of an age of discord, Kahala Yuga.
It is appropriate in a book review to compare and contrast material which is in the same vein as the book under review. We find that there is a similar book, the Sai Awareness Program, Volume 1, prepared by Pal Dhall and others, and distributed Australia wide in 1993 as part of a national program. In this Sai Awareness program, the following material was considered:
- Why have a Sai Organisation?
- Sai Organisation - kinship through Sathya Sai
- Overcoming Bondage through cleansing the Mind
- From Members to Devotees through the Nine point code of conduct
- Aims and Activities of the Three wings
- Learning to Handle the Ego
- Office Bearers and Leaders in Sai Centres
- Sai Path: Dismantling the Bureaucracy of the Ego
- Prashanti Nilayam - The Heart of the Organisation
- Unity in Divinity
Observers will perceive that there is a correlation between the material considered by Dr Reddy, and that of Dr Pal Dhall and his team. The difference is that the Sai Awareness Program is in the form of lesson plans, in order to show devotees the purpose of participating in the Sai Organisation, what Baba offers in that organisation and the movement from Sai Participant to Devotee.
This raises a critical point. The Sai Baba Organisation is not another spiritual organisation or church, mosque, nor temple away from home. It is created for individual spiritual development by Sathya Sai Baba. Participants join in order to experience all the 'human' interactions that occur, and to learn how to live and deal with these with Love and equanimity - a challenge we all aspire to, and sometimes meet and sometimes fail. The point is to reflect on our experiences and learn from them, and thus spiritually learn more about the divinity (Sathya Sai Baba) within us. The organisation was created for our benefit, not for Sai Baba.
There are clear differences in the purpose in writing both books. The Sai Awareness program illustrates, using specific learning experiences and reflection material, the purpose of and progress through the Organisation from devotional activity to devotee. Dr Reddy's material is more of a reference nature, a collection of sayings on various topics and some extended reflections the power and puissance of the Divine Name and the effects of anger and criticism on the human person. Both have different readership, different presentation and both have their good points.
This second volume in the Necklace of Nine Sai Gems has something for every reader, the Newcomer, the devotee, the self-enquiry process where Baba says 75% of our time ought be spent in self enquiry. Although this book appears to reiterate and reorganise Baba's teachings within some chapters, there is a discernible organisation of the material thus making for a useful reference book.
$6 (or $60 the set of 9 books) from Sai Books, 24 Kenilworth Ave, Wonga Park, 3115,
Margaret and Randall McDonald
email books [at] saiaustralia.org.au
Phone (03)9722 1740