Sai Baba of Shirdi must be rolling in his grave knowing what his disciples are up to in Auckland, New Zealand.
Where He has taught love, compassion, patience and perseverance, his devotees seem hell-bent on tearing each other apart following a recent annual meeting in July where certain members of the incumbent executive committee were ousted in a democratic election process.
Since then all hell has broken loose in an organisation (Shri Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan of New Zealand), which has so far been an epitome of love, sacrifice and service since its existence in New Zealand not too long ago.
Headlines such as “Fragmentation threatens a noble organisation” and “Controversy brews in Shirdi Sansthan” grace the pages of other Indian community newspapers as the organisation’s senior members grapple with who’s doing a better job running the organisation.
Why can’t, for Baba’s sake at least, the senior members work together towards a common goal of serving its members and the wider community in guiding them into a righteous path in life?
Didn’t Baba teach love, forgiveness and sacrifice before self?
“Shraddha” in Sanskrit, roughly means faith with love and reverence. Such faith or trust is generated out of conviction, which may not be the result of any rational belief or intellectual wisdom, but a spiritual inspiration.
According to Baba, steadfast love in God is the gateway to eternity. Baba's teaching, both direct and indirect, explicate the significance of “Shraddha”.
“Saburi” means patience and perseverance, a quality needed throughout the path to reach the goal. This quality must be ingrained in a seeker from day one, least he loses his stride and leaves the path half way.
For Baba, it was not the purity of the body but inner purity that mattered. No amount of physical and external cleansing would serve any purpose if the man remained impure in mind and heart.
Therefore, Baba cautioned His devotees not to make austerity as an end itself, lest they should indulge in physical mortification.
Himself an epitome of compassion and love, Baba taught compassion among his disciples. Baba often told His devotees: “Never turn away anybody from your door, be it a human being or animal.”
Baba put Guru on a high pedestal of reverence. For Him, Guru was the profound base of the path of devotion. Pointing to his physical frame, "This body is my house. I am not here. My Guru has taken me away". He asked for complete surrender to the “Guru”.
So what invokes His so-called disciples in New Zealand to rise (sorry, to stoop low) above Baba’s teachings and insist they are doing right in spreading Baba’s word.
The previous executive committee members have been an integral part of taking the Sansthan to where it is today – a $4.5 million temple project is underway in Church St, Onehunga.
The aim of the temple is to help depart valuable teachings of Baba to members of our community, including the younger generation, where the Sansthan’s senior members need to set an example.
Infighting does not impart a good example to our future generation and some would loathe being part of such a fragmented community.
It is time for the past and present executive committee stalwarts to sit down together and sort out their differences and focus on serving their community.
And be humble.
Apologising does not always mean you are wrong, it just means that you value your commitment to your goal and service more than your ego.