Harish, Baby-No-Name, and Sai Baba.

by Phil

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Harish is the 12-year old son of our 30-year old maid; baby-no-name is her 6-month old grandson, the son of her adult daughter (not seen in these pix).

Harish is on summer vacation, visiting his mother here from his school-and-village-and-ashram at Puttaparthi. He is being educated (programmed ?) by Sai Baba‘s system there, and is full af wondrous tales of Sai Baba’s miracles: “Sooo many miracles, Uncle! He pulled 3 tons of lingam from his mouth! And if you dance really, really nice, Uncle, he will put his hand to his chest, and a golden chain will appear for you!”

Sai Baba has undoubtedly done well by his followers here in India, numbering 6 million or more: hospitals, infrastructure, water, food, and schools like the very one that Harish attends (worldwide numbers are hard to verify but have been stated to be between 5 and 50 million). However, he is also under the shadow of many scandalous accusations involving murder, sexual abuse of children, and plain old trickery. We can’t help but wonder if Harish’s innocent and enthusiastic good looks may lead him somewhere bad; and we also wonder where else he might otherwise be. It’s a tough problem. Despite the persistent accusations, Sai Baba is fairly untouchable here politically, due at very least to his tremendous number of followers in India and around the world.

As for baby-no-name, it is apparently not uncommon for the Hindu people to wait from 12 days to up to a year to name a newborn child here; at some auspicious date during that time, there will be a naming ceremony . I kind of like that idea: give the child some time to make his essence known, and learn what his name wants to be, rather than immediately impose a name that is more arbitrarily determined.

The BBC has done a thorough exposé of Sai Baba, check it out here.

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11 Responses to “Harish, Baby-No-Name, and Sai Baba.”

  1. Scott Boyd says:

    First of all, The Sathya Sai Central Trust makes absolutely no donations to political parties. Why do you tell lies? Do you know that for sure? The BBC’s documentary could hardly be called an expose. Its more like a witch hunt. Where do you get your information, Wikipedia? The reason Sai Baba is untouchable is because of his absolute selflessness purity and love. Do you know anything about the Sathya Sai Educational Program? Is built on the five pillars of Love, Truth, Rightousness, Peace and Non-Violence. Is that programming? Your casual and mocking tone about someone who has done more good in his life than you could do in a 1000 lives is an affront to good manners. It is sad that people like you can not see the sacredness of Sai Baba, but then again you can’t know him unless he calls you. I don’t know how I stumbled on this blog but you should reconsider your tone in this entry.

    Love to All

  2. Phil says:

    Hi Scott,

    You sound like a believer, a person of faith; and the world needs believers.

    Myself, I am a skeptic, and the world needs us too:

    Without skeptics, believers are just victims waiting to happen.

    Sai Ram,

    Phil :)

  3. scott says:

    Dear Phil,

    Thanks for your soft reply. I may have been pointed with my tone, so excuse me, but it makes me sad when uninformed people just pass on gossip and make blanket statements about things they know nothing about. I am neither a skeptic nor a believer. “Believing” inhibits your experience of the divine and clouds your judgement. Sai Baba is in every cell of my body with a thousand eyes, its a knowing that doesn’t come from the mind and thinking. Its a constant direct experience. The world needs people with clean hearts and minds and hands ready to help, not skeptics and believers. “Belief” is a dangerous thing which blinds man. Skepticism constricts the heart. People make the mistake that we “believe” in Sai Baba. I myself am a divine being (as we all are) I don’t “believe” it, I am it.

    Since you visited Puttaparthi and call Swami, “The” Swami, I thought you might want to hear someone’s direct experience with Sai Baba, instead of second hand. For people who know, the “accusations” are beyond the realm of impossibility. Call us deluded, that’s OK, because we bask in the light of God and our hearts are on fire. Why has Sai Baba given me His love?..because I have given it to Him. He says,”take one step towards me and I’ll take a thousand towards you.”

    Don’t scratch the surface. As “The” Swami says. “you can’t stand on the shore and hope to get the pearls, you need to go deep down in the water to get them.” Make the most of your trip.. India will turn you upside down and make you face the ugliness inside, but by facing the darkness, the light will shine ever so brightly.

    Peace to you

    A poem I wrote to express how I feel about Sai Baba

    “Now is the Time”

    We go here and we go there
    Yet we are nowhere
    We say this and we say that
    Yet nothing is said
    At the root of what was is
    And will be
    Sai loves you deeply
    Know this for sure
    and dive into ecstasy
    What else can I say?
    Don’t wait
    O lucky ones
    Or you’ll be too late
    Now is the time
    Put a stop to the mind
    No more questions
    No more answers
    Bath in the silence
    And you’ll truly know
    Put an end to your doubts
    There is no one like Sai
    The Master of the world
    Has given you the key
    Now it’s up to you
    So Be Free
    Now is the Time
    Now is the Time
    Now is the Time

  4. Phil says:


    Thanks for sharing your experience here.

    I would assure you that my use of the word “the” before “Swami” and “Sai Baba” was not intended to be derogatory; it was just a misunderstanding of how the local idioms work. So I have gone through the posts referring to Sai Baba on this blog and edited them such that the offending article is no longer used.

    Also, regarding your previous question about info sources: one need not look far or long to find information both good and bad about Sai Baba. My favorite sources include websites for the Indian Skeptics society – http://www.indiansceptic.in/ – and the many sites for the various chapters of Indian Rationalist organizations – one example here: http://www.indianrationalists.blogspot.com/

    That said, I reviewed my comment regarding Sai Baba contributing to the BJP and honestly cannot recall the source for that statement, so I have removed it from the post.

    Scott, I’m pretty sure you and I will never fully agree. We can certainly respect one another’s positions though. I can agree that Sai Baba’s accomplishments for the rural poor here are astonishing and humbling in the extreme. But for me here and now, I am looking at a beautiful young human life in our Harish, a boy who has been in Sai baba’s educational system’s care for most of 6 years, and has little to show for it other than a good grasp of conversational English and an encyclopedic knowledge of stories about Sai Baba. No math, physics, literature, logic, ethics, nothing to prepare him for any life outside of the ashram. SO I have to wonder, who is such a school serving? And I will leave it at that for now.

    Thanks for the conversation. Your writing, opinions and poetry are always welcome.

    Sai Ram,

    Phil :)

  5. scott says:

    Dear Phil,

    Is Harish in an offical Sai Baba school? There are many who use his name but aren’t really officiated, especially in the town of Puttaparthi. Most likely he is not in the official school (Near the University on the main road behind the gates.) Obviously many in India and abroad use his name for various reasons in order to benefit financially. According to the The Hindu, India’s national newspaper dated June 8, 2006, it states ” In India, there is only one college which has A++, that is the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Prasanthi Nilayam.”
    “http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/mp/2006/06/08/stories/2006060801700100.htm. This is the highest rating of any college in the whole of India.

    Also I wasn’t implying that I was offended by the use of “the”. What I was trying to convey is that the use of “the” before Swami implies a second hand experience, or implies that one is looking in from without, thats all. Anyway enjoy your trip. India is so fascinating. The other place I enjoyed was Haridwar on the Ganges, very powerful place.


  6. Phil says:


    Yes very much official Sai Baba school, the same.

    His family is a farming family from a village some 50 km outside of Puttaparthi. He lives, or did until last year, at the school campus. School is provided for free by Baba, we are told.

    But only to a point: at the end of primary school, if the students do not test well enough to progress into medical school, they are dropped from the school rosters and sent on their way. Harish is a *very* bright kid, but he did not test well enough to indicate a medical future, so he was sent away from the school back to his family, who then sent him to us, as his mother is with us here in Bangalore working as a maid to clear a family/farm debt.

    The family has no money to speak of and has been worried sick about Harish’s continued education. Eventually, we were able to help to broker a solution so that Harish will now attend a private middle school in Puttaparthi, for which we paid the tuition for this year.

    And regarding the use of “the,” thanks for the further clarification! A subtle point to be sure, and you would be correct: our experience was very much outsider looking in, second hand as you say, though very curious, fair-minded outsiders :) We enjoyed our time there, had many lovely conversations with Baba devotees, and did not let our natural skepticism spoil the soup, for us, or for anyone else :)


    Phil :)

  7. Phil says:


    The story of getting Harish into a good school this year is actually a much longer one, one that definitely involved getting “turned inside out” as Scott put it so nicely above.

    Fortunately for all of us, Pam is writing it up with the depth and good humor she always brings to complex subjects.

    Stay tuned !

    Phil :)

  8. andini says:

    yang tau dy dajjal atau bukan hanya ALLAH jd kita sebagai umat-NYA harus tetap percaya dengan-NYA, Melaksanakan perintah-NYA dan Menjauhi Larangan- NYA…..

  9. Phil says:

    Hmm… all the online Indonesian-to-English translators interpret this as:

    “the tau dy liars or not only our jd GOD as HIS people to remain faithful to HIS HIS Implementing command and stay away from the Prohibition-NYA ….”

    Not sure what this really means other than anything besides food, toilets and taxis in an unknown language is a bad idea…

  10. Peter says:

    Hi Phil
    India is the most fascinating continent. The people , places and history are all very special.

    I discovered Sai Baba some 10 years ago not knowing who he was as some friends of a friend invited me who followed him. I’m an open minded guy so I went as I wanted to see India.
    Nothing prepared me for what followed.

    Like I say I’m just a normal person , not a fanatic, religious extremist, lunatic or attention seeker. Something inside of me that to this day I can’t explain ( and I sure have tried) was attracted to something in this person called Sai Baba.

    I have tried to be rational about it and to no avail. I can’t explain it. I have a normal life and job and never talk about Sai Baba in my personal or professional life. So even this is rare for me as I feel no need to promote him.

    He certainly does not require me to do that and I do not need to convert others to make my own feelings valid or justifiable.

    People have been saying all sorts of things about him for a few years now.
    I personally have no comment to make as I have not had their experiences. I have had mine and they are poles apart. First of all, I thought all people are innocent until proven guilty? Clearly not the case in some peoples eyes.

    They say he is a trickster. Maybe, I would not know. What I DO know, is that for 10 years he has given me dreams in which he is present, very clear dreams in which what he has shown me has come true. I can remember every dream as if it just happened, I cannot recall any other dreams like these. I always get woken up straight away when I have one. The information is always personal in some way and has included personal health issues, life changes, and some other curious contexts which I have not understood until some other time when it became obvious. I did not ask for these dreams they just started happening.
    He told me of things which are still to come to pass in my life. I don’t get global dreams just very personal. I’m not an Nostradamus :)

    I have met other quite normal people who like me live ordinary lives and do not talk to others about Sai Baba, because they like me cannot begin to explain what or how he has had an effect on them. These are bankers, doctors, students, re-tired house wives. However the one thing in common is they nearly all shared some strange inexplicable story of how they became involved with Sai Baba and strange happenings or coincidences afterwards.

    I have given up trying to understand how the hell some of these billion to one coincidences are orchestrated and for what purpose.

    He gave me the greatest miracle of all, he opened my heart to love and sent me on my way to self discovery. He asked for nothing from me and has given me everything in return.

    I write this to attempt to say one thing. There are many extreme followers in all walks of life. Most of the people I have met who followed some particular religion or spiritual following and played it down but lived their truth were congruent people with nothing to gain from self publicity. I loved the fact that he said he has not come here to claim a following but to rekindle the love in peoples hearts for their own religion. The fact that Jews, Muslims, christians and Buddhists can be found sitting in the same ashram singing in peace is nothing short of the biggest miracle of all. Strange, no one bothers to publish that!

    Sai Ram and enjoy your experience.