July 14, 2024

If, at dawn on any Sunday around Christmas time, you hear faint children’s voices singing carols with lyrics about “Sai” and “Parthi” rather than “Jesus” and “Bethlehem”, you are not dreaming. Perhaps you are in the vicinity of a devotee of Sathya Sai Baba.

Sai Baba’s carols are just one example of the generous ecumenism of the cult of Sathya Sai Baba, a self-proclaimed godman from a small village in Andhra Pradesh who died in 2011. At the time of his death, his cult had attracted an estimated six million followers worldwide. Unlike many other Hindu-based New Age sects, Sathya Sai Baba’s cult is not particularly sectarian; it believes that the God of all religions is one, who is simply represented on earth physically by Sathya Sai Baba.

The rhythm of the average Sathya Sai Baba devotee’s schedule is fairly simple: it includes singing bhajans, attending religious study classes, feeding the financially disadvantaged and volunteering in medical services every week.

The only departure from the weekly bhajan rituals that usually honour Hindu deities is at Christmas, when devotees sing Christmas carols instead.

Every year Sai devotees, young and old, from all over the world gather in small processions to sing Christmas carols celebrating the joy of Sathya Sai Baba’s presence in this world.The logic is that since there is one God for all and that God is Sathya Sai Baba, even the Christian God should be absorbed into the general Sai pantheon.


One particularly excited English teacher, Des Geddes, describes hearing these carols in Puttaparthi, a town in Andhra Pradesh that is the centre of all activity connected with Sathya Sai Baba. Darshan LineAs they went with the candles to Sathya Sai Baba’s residence, the man came out onto the balcony dressed in white.

Suddenly, everyday reality began to fade away and I heard the sounds of glass breaking behind my head, mirrors that were billions of years old shattering, and all I could see was the eyes of my lover and a look of eternal love.

All God, One God

Sathya Sai Baba was born Satyanarayana Raju in a village in what is now Andhra Pradesh in 1926. At the age of 14, he declared himself to be the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba, a Muslim spiritual leader who enjoyed immense popularity among Hindus in the 19th century and is still revered today.

The practice of inserting Sathya Sai Baba’s name into religious songs is typical of the movement, which combines elements of Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism.

The man claims he does not want to convert his followers to Hinduism, but to make them better practitioners of their religion, and he does this by singing Sai bhajans, which are adaptations of existing ancient religious songs praising Hindu deities, substituting Sathya Sai Baba for the deity in question.

It’s not clear when the practice began, but internal records suggest the ritual is timeless. For example, a report on Christmas celebrations in 2007 begins:

Like every year, this year too the celebration of Christmas in the divine presence of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba was full of grandeur and grace…

The fact that many of Sathya Sai Baba’s devotees are from Western countries where Christmas is celebrated with great vigor also helps to bring Christmas to the forefront: Since at least the 1990s, choirs of singers from around the world have been singing carols at Prasanthi Nilayam, the grand temple complex dedicated to Sathya Sai Baba.

A modern Christmas carol

But Sathya Sai Baba’s followers are not the only ones who have adapted Christmas carols. In 2008, Telegraph A British pastor has updated the classic “Twelve Days of Christmas” to suit modern misery.


On the 12th day of Christmas, my dear friend sent me…
12 soldiers
11 people who lost the lottery
10 hoodies scream
9 Single Mothers
8 people with AIDS
Seven shoppers struggle
Six caregivers provide care
Five seizures
The four swindlers
Three hungry children
Two trembling addicts
And poor homeless refugees

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *