More: Q's & A's
1. Is Sai Baba God?
To some people, Sai is a teacher. To others, he is a guru or spiritual
master. However, some of those who follow his teachings
believe that he is a highly evolved being - an avatar, i.e., the physical
embodiment of God. It is also necessary to point out that Sai Baba states
that He has incarnated specifically for the purpose of leading humanity
back to a spiritual life based on the essentials values of all the great
Therefore, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. It depends
on your own belief and point of view. As with the
world's religions and other forms of spirituality, each must choose what
she and he believes in.
2. Is the Sai Organization a cult?
One might suggest that if you are involved with a cult you might be
subjected to some form of coercion, indoctrination and/or
required to make compulsory financial contributions to the cult. In the
Sai Organization any involvement by an individual is
voluntary. This understanding applies to members and non-members.
Accordingly, the operation of Sai Centers and the Sai Organization is
quite different to what can be considered a cult. The Sai
Organization essentially operates on the good will and willingness of the
members to contribute their efforts to the Organization
and its activities.
3. Where does the money to run the Organization come from?
The Sai Organization is unique in many ways. One of them is the way the
Organization deals with money. Sai Baba has
declared that there must not be any solicitation for or collection of
funds from the members of the Organization or visitors at any
Sai Organization functions.
However, all groups and organizations require some funds to continue their
activities. In the Sai Organization, there are costs
associated with renting premises, paying for materials, hiring sound
systems, and other overheads. Accordingly, only members,
if they choose, are allowed to contribute towards these costs. Usually,
the Center chairperson, activity coordinators and
regular members assist with such costs. It cannot be stressed enough, no
one is obliged or coerced to part with money to
support the activities of the organization. Any contributions are strictly
voluntary and are made anonymously through a donation
box at the Center that is usually kept out of view from the members and
4. Will Sai ever come to the US?
To date, Sai Baba has left India only once, for a short period in 1968, to
travel to East Africa. Baba has stated this was not done at the initiative
of any government, but was in answer to the fervent request of a Devotee.
He has not recently announced
any plans to travel overseas. However, this does not mean that He will not
travel overseas in the future.
5. How extensive is the Sai Organization?
It appears that most countries have at least one Sai Center or Devotional
Group. For example, over 12,000 youth from about 70 countries attended the
first World Youth Conference in 1997 at Prasanthi Nilayam (His Ashram and
Residence). Larger nations such as the United Kingdom, Malaysia and the
United States have numerous Sai Centers and Devotional Groups. 3,000,000
plus aspirants celebrated Sai Baba's 75th birthday at Prasanthi Nilayam,
in India in 1995.
6. Is the Sai organization another religion?
Sai Baba has often stated that He does not wish to create a new religion.
His mission is said to be:
1. To encourage those born in a particular faith to become better
practitioners of that faith; and
2. To encourage a healthy and spiritual way of life.
His teachings do not consist of doctrines and edicts - only suggestions
and recommendations, some times very strong
He emphasizes that all religions ultimately lead to the same goal, and
strongly promotes the Unity of Faiths. Sai Baba also
encourages people to become better at practicing and understanding the
faith they were born into.
7. Do you have to join the Organization to participate in functions?
No. Sai activities and functions are open to everyone. You can become a
member of a Sai Center, which involves a greater
personal commitment between yourself and the Organization. Again the
decision to become a member of a Center is left up to the individual.
8. Do you have to be a vegetarian?
Sai Baba recommends vegetarianism for a person's spiritual development as
well as health-related benefits. However, as with
all of his teachings, there is no compulsion or coercion at the individual
level. There exists no requirement that members be vegetarians or that
people give up meat before choosing to attend functions or become part of
the organization. It is entirely up to the individual members to choose
whether or not they wish to become a vegetarian. However, at Sai functions
only vegetarian food is prepared and served.
9. Why do people take their shoes off at the meetings?
This custom most probably originates from traditions in India and Asia. In
some cultures, shoes are removed when entering a
place of worship or reverence as sign of respect. However, this is not a
practice which has been prescribed by Sai Baba. It is
something which is observed in some Sai centers and functions.
10. Why do they sing songs in foreign languages?
Devotional singing is an important activity in Sai centers. Devotional
songs can be sung in any language and in a variety of forms.
Depending on the location of a Center, i.e. in what country, one would
find spiritual songs sung in Sanskrit, Hindi, Chinese,
Tamil, Japanese, German, English and many of the languages of the world.
Greater emphasis is placed on singing devotional songs in the language
that is common to members of the Center such as
English in Australia and the other English speaking countries. Where a
song is sung in a foreign language in a Sai Center, Sai
Baba emphasizes that those who sing devotional songs in foreign languages
should know the meaning of the words they are
11. Is Sai a Hindu?
Sai Baba was born as Sathya Narayana Raju, into a poor Hindu family and
raised as a Hindu. Sai Baba does not give
preference to any one religion over another. He has said..."There is only
one religion the religion of Love".
12. What is the significance of waving the flame?
In many faiths, fire symbolizes spiritual cleansing. Accordingly,
symbolically taking in the flame represents burning away the less
spiritual aspects of our nature to nothing, such as when a block of
camphor burns away in the Indian Arathi ritual. When a
person waves the flame before their chosen form of God, she and he is
using this form of ritual as a symbol to demonstrate their desire to
eliminate the various disharmonious aspects that are part of their nature.
This is a Hindu observance which is practiced in
Prasanthi Nilayam and at many Sai centers and functions. However, it has
not been prescribed by Sai Baba.
13. If Sai is considered a Divine Incarnation (Avatar) or World Teacher by
so many, why haven't we heard about him in the media?
Sai Baba has never actively sought to publicize himself or the Sai
Organization. On many occasions media and scientific
representatives have tried to gain further information about Him, His
miracles and the Organization with the view to publishing it.
Very few of the many representatives who have approached Him for this
purpose over the past 50 years, have succeeded in
doing so. He has on very limited occasions allowed persons from the media
(under very strict conditions) to film Him and the
Ashram at Prasanthi Nilayam. Hence, except for a great number of books
written about Him, He has received very little
publicity by way of the film and electronic media.
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