Debunked

Can Charity Preclude Criticism? Sai Baba, The Pope And Bill Gates

Ever since the announcement of godman Sai Baba’s death in Puttaparthi on Sunday, the 24th of April, the most commonly seen defense of the life and actions of India’s most famous conman, on blogs and social media entries discussing his death, involves an appeal to the charity work that Sai Baba’s organization performed over the years.

Such a defense disregards a wider sociological understanding of the human condition and ignores the underlying causes of poverty. By their very nature religious groups and organizations conspire to perpetuate the conditions that they claim to solve. But addressing the Sai Baba apologists on this issue is for the most part a futile task. It requires a cursory knowledge of psychology and economics as well as the time and ability for sustained attention to complex, non-intuitive ideas.

So instead, in this post I employ a simple comparison to make my point.

Sai Baba

The Pope

Bill Gates

Made his billions by fraud, conning people and getting them to donate their valuables and time. The money comes from the sweat and blood of his donors. Estimated wealth in US $: between 9 and 13 billion. Wealth originally stolen from the rest of the world through war and colonial conquest. Catholic donations from around the world replenish the Vatican coffers today. Estimated wealth in US $: between 10 and 15 billion. Founder, CEO and largest shareholder of Microsoft, Gates owes his wealth to his contributions to society, not to the donations of others who have worked for it. Current worth (remaining) in US $: 60 billion
 
Did no actual work himself, except the rituals and blabberings necessary to amass an army of deluded volunteers. Does no actual work himself, except the rituals and blabberings necessary to amass an army of deluded missionaries. Has worked hard all his life, making intelligent investments and management decisions. Now works with non-profits.
 
Reported to have sexually abused numerous young boys; acts ranging from fondling to fellatio and sodomy. Covered up multiple child-rapes by pedophile priests, and reassigned many of them. Gates’ work saves children. The Children’s Vaccine Program is one of his latest ventures.
 
A tiny portion of Sai Baba’s ill-gotten fortune is used for charitable purposes. A tiny portion of the ill-gotten Papal fortune is used for charitable purposes. Has donated over $40 billion of his legitimately-earned wealth to charity, and has pledged to give away all of it before his death.
 
Receives enormous tax-breaks, import-duty exemptions, closed-door contracts and other governmental benefits. The Vatican pays no taxes on returns from its vast investments in industry. It is the largest tax evader in Italy. Only money set aside for charity is tax-free. Bill Gates’ personal fortune is taxed like the rest of our earnings are.
 
The Sathya Sai Central Trust is completely unaccountable. All dealings including governmental involvements are undisclosed, behind closed doors. Not legally required to abide by any guidelines, the unaccountable board of directors can hire, fire and conduct business with no transparency and no minutes or accounts available for audits. No one knows how much has actually been donated over the years, and how much of that has been embezzled by the goons. The Vatican, a theocratic monarchy, has historically been completely unaccountable in its financial dealings. In recent years there has been a push for more transparency. A series of new laws were passed in late 2010 opening up the Vatican for limited audits, in response to a new wave of money laundering scandals. The Vatican still enjoys and practices a high level of protection from scrutiny of their financial statements. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is the largest transparently operated foundation in the world. It would not exist if not for the personal wealth of Gates. It is not a scheme to launder money (unlike many private foundations), because Gates started off with plenty of money, and is now giving it all away! The foundation is audited like all organizations should, and it makes all of its audits available online.
 
The Trust’s charity work is used as a propaganda tool to funnel more donations into the pockets of the fraud running the show. It is also used to promote the institutions and the nonsensical teachings of Sai Baba, and for defending a pedophile fraud on blogs and Facebook. The charity work of the Church is a powerful propaganda tool. It serves to bring in billions in donations, to spread the religious doctrine of the Church and to defend the institution from criticism of its homophobia, anti-condom policy and history of human rights violations. Bill Gates’ charity work is altruistically motivated. His foundation uses available scientific data and projections to best help humanity. The focus is long-term, addressing the root causes of iniquity. It relies not on mass delusion or propaganda but on reason and compassion.
 

And let’s not forget, Bill Gates is an Atheist.

About the author

Ajita Kamal

101 Comments

  • Ajita,

    Very concise and pin-point comparison between bad and good charity. In fact Mr. Nayak in the first article in this series had hinted at the Satya Sai cult being a front for a giant money laundering scheme. This article has brought that out clearly.

    Many years back, charitable trusts were common devices of tax evasion and money laundering. All that seems small fry when compared to the economic and social fraud perpetrated by religious cults.

    The resource mis-allocation and waste that is caused by misguided and fradulent religion and philanthropy is indeed mind-boggling even by conservative estimates.

    • Ranganath, I’m glad you liked the article. You point to an important aspect of these religious groups that I didn’t get into in the article- the “resource mis-allocation and waste”. Just the opulence and extravagant spending associated with each Sai Baba festival/event or Vatican gala is room for concern, not to mention the various nonsensical rituals that are performed each day. A very small portion of the money actually goes towards the needy.
      But as we all know, that’s just a small part of the problem. A much bigger issue is the fact that these groups are unaccountable. Surely the trust has pocketed at least twice what it has declared. But there’s no way to know the actual figures.

      • Thanks again for this vivid and inescapable presentation of some ideas we have been trying to make for quite some time now*. It takes a kind of gumption to keep this conversation going and keep the spotlight on, and then as now, the ones who seem to have a bigger problem are the bend-over-backwards accommodationistic ‘I-am-not-a-Baba-devotee-but….’ types whose excuses change over time from ‘respect his age’ to ‘respect the dead’ to ‘respect the legacy of charity’ (which has received an overdue audit here).

        *http://nirmukta.com/2010/10/24/keeping-the-spotlight-on/

    • Thanks, Ashish! I wouldn’t have expected any less from these people. If only the government would actually investigate the compounds, instead of stamping their approval and pretending to protest as the vehicles drive away with the loot.

  • Well Sai Baba and Vatican has and continue to make money by fraudulent means. So legally they are in the same plane as Hasan Ali / Telgi or all the scamster put together. It does not make it right by then investing miniscule amount in so called charities. It will be interesting to see what is the real contribution by some social audit. I suspect it will turn out negative.

  • Excellent. I think the wealth of Vatican (pope) is vastly underestimated. I believe that just the thousands of rare artifacts collected over the centuries are worth more than 10 billion. I would estimate pope’s wealth around 150-200 billion. Pope receive money from all over the world like the ocean receives water from a thousand rivers.

    Baba’s ill-gotten wealth will also be ill-spent. People managing his Trust, deluded by the wealth, will certainly prove to be immune to Baba’s “spirituality.” Even if the current board of trustees handles the money well, the next generation will blow it all away as there are no checks and balances and no accountability. Imagine the disappointment of millions of his devotees!

    • Its true about the Vatican wealth. We only know what they declare, but there can be no estimates of the artifacts and treasures the Church stole from South America, Asia and Africa, not to mention other European countries. Also, the estimates of Sai Baba’s fortune do not include the gold and jewelry, as noted in the article that Ashish linked to below.

  • In India, God and Corruption work in mysterious ways and most of the times as perfect partners. As there is so much debate ongoing regarding black money, we should start probably from this “God”‘s trust. I am sure that his gullible VVIP “bakthas” have donated a part of their black money to atone their sins.

  • 1) Another point: Govt protection in the face of criminal charges.
    Sai Baba has been sheletered by the legal system in the aftermath of the murders in his Ashram.
    In the case of the catholic child abuse, Pope Benedict is saved from arrest by his diplomatic immunity and “holy” status when travelling outside the vatican.
    Bill Gates got no help during the Microsoft anti-trust trial, and was put through a very rigorous interrogation and treatment like ordinary citizen. In spite of the embarassing ordeal, Gates hasnt let it sour him and is giving back to the world.

    2) When it comes to assessment of humanitarian work, Steven Pinker has said it best, in his article on morality http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/magazine/13Psychology-t.html

    Which of the following people would you say is the most admirable: Mother Teresa, Bill Gates or Norman Borlaug? And which do you think is the least admirable? For most people, it’s an easy question. Mother Teresa, famous for ministering to the poor in Calcutta, has been beatified by the Vatican, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and ranked in an American poll as the most admired person of the 20th century. Bill Gates, infamous for giving us the Microsoft dancing paper clip and the blue screen of death, has been decapitated in effigy in “I Hate Gates” Web sites and hit with a pie in the face. As for Norman Borlaug . . . who the heck is Norman Borlaug?

    Yet a deeper look might lead you to rethink your answers. Borlaug, father of the “Green Revolution” that used agricultural science to reduce world hunger, has been credited with saving a billion lives, more than anyone else in history. Gates, in deciding what to do with his fortune, crunched the numbers and determined that he could alleviate the most misery by fighting everyday scourges in the developing world like malaria, diarrhea and parasites. Mother Teresa, for her part, extolled the virtue of suffering and ran her well-financed missions accordingly: their sick patrons were offered plenty of prayer but harsh conditions, few analgesics and dangerously primitive medical care.

    It’s not hard to see why the moral reputations of this trio should be so out of line with the good they have done. Mother Teresa was the very embodiment of saintliness: white-clad, sad-eyed, ascetic and often photographed with the wretched of the earth. Gates is a nerd’s nerd and the world’s richest man, as likely to enter heaven as the proverbial camel squeezing through the needle’s eye. And Borlaug, now 93, is an agronomist who has spent his life in labs and nonprofits, seldom walking onto the media stage, and hence into our consciousness, at all.

  • Superb analysis Ajita kamal, Totally agry with the points. Hope people of India will aware of the fact and spend their hard earned money to some valuable charity works not to fill the baskets of these fraud baba’s.

  • You have been very kind to Bill Gates. Everyone cannot agree that >>Bill Gates’ charity work is altruistically motivated<<
    Questions have been raised on Gates’ charity as well, and there appear to be a lot of conflicts of interests in what he is doing.
    See
    Stuckler D, Basu S, McKee M (2011) Global Health Philanthropy and Institutional Relationships: How Should Conflicts of Interest Be Addressed? PLoS Med 8(4): e1001020. Available at http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001020
    Also see the list of BMGF investments – includes Coca cola, Monsanto, Mc Donalds – companies that are creating diseases!
    Available here: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1166559/000104746910007567/a2199827z13f-hr.txt

    • I don’t think any ‘deification’ or ‘romanticization’ was the intent of this article, of Bill Gates or anyone else. It is just that when a claim of godhead is made, you also submit to being judged by more exacting standards than ordinary mortals like Mr. Gates. You cannot have it both ways. The point being made here (and in Satish’s earlier comment) is that there is no immunity from prosecution or censoring of criticism of Mr. Gates, while it was exactly this sort of immunity and censoring that was always invoked by the deceased Baba’s well-connected followers. This is adumbrated here: http://nirmukta.com/2010/10/24/keeping-the-spotlight-on/

        • Perhaps this reply is pertinent to that comment as well. However, what I really meant, in response to the above comment about ‘questions raised on Bill Gates’ charity’, was that we are not being ‘apologists for Bill Gates’ nor are we saying that he represents human perfection, but only saying that he is already subject to the Rule of Law which godmen seem exempt from for no good reason.

    • Rubbish,
      Any stats for this “Also see the list of BMGF investments – includes Coca cola, Monsanto, Mc Donalds – companies that are creating diseases!”

  • Ajita,

    You are letting your indignation get the better of you. I for one believe it is easier for an atheist than an Abrahamist (C/J/M) to be philanthropic. Between an atheist and Dharmist (H/J/B/S) it would be a close tie. As far as India is concerned the dharmists have done better than the atheists as a class over the last century. Among the dharmists I count the Satya Sai trusts, the Ramakrishna Mission, and several public health and welfare organizations such as Sankara Nethralaya and Akshaya Patra, or social service organizations like Sulabh Shauchalaya (which has done the most to rehabilitate sanitation workers) or Swami Agnivesh’s Bandhua Mukti Morcha which frees child and bonded labor, as well as the RSS which is a champion in disaster relief. Among the atheists I would include Baba Amte and no one else. We do not yet have a Medicine Sans Frontiers, and I believe nothing prevents that from happening in India.

    • 1) And how exactly is Ajita letting his indignation get the better of him? Your subsequent points dont sayhow, nor address what the article says, but goes off into a tangent.

      It didnt really matter that Bill Gates was an atheist. Even if he were a Buddhist (a private religion in the US, without the organizational support of christiaty, say), I am pretty sure Ajita would have made the same case. The idea is to contrast how things work for “philanthropists” when cloaked in religious shields.

      2) Even if we are to get into a discussion of your comparison of philanthropic capabilities of abstract atheist/abrahamic believer/etc, you really need to put forth reasons, not just assertions. And interestingly, you had to put down christianity, didnt you? I take it you are a supporter of Hinduism. AND, when you really do put forth reasons, lets not combine H/J/B/S into one? You know very well that (foundational) Buddhism and Jainism disagree with the core of Sanatana Dharma (for e.g doctrine of gunas which forms foundation of varna system) and thus very different in terms of circle of people to whom considerations apply.

    • Kaangeya,

      Astrokid.nj has already brought up a couple of points that immediately sprang to my mind on reading your comment. You did not address a single claim of mine, and yet you disagree with me on my fundamental observations. Also, I’d like some evidence from you as to why you think “it is easier for an atheist than an Abrahamist (C/J/M) to be philanthropic. Between an atheist and Dharmist (H/J/B/S) it would be a close tie.” And what is “Dharmist” in this context anyway? A general translation loses context in our discussion. So let’s lose the mystery and just call it Hindu charity.

      If you noticed right at the top of my article I said this:
      “Such a defense disregards a wider sociological understanding of the human condition and ignores the underlying causes of poverty. By their very nature religious groups and organizations conspire to perpetuate the conditions that they claim to solve. But addressing the Sai Baba apologists on this issue is for the most part a futile task. It requires a cursory knowledge of psychology and economics as well as the time and ability for sustained attention to complex, non-intuitive ideas.”
      That was intended for you.

      The rest of my response is in two points.

      1. Contrary to what you claim, “Abrahamist” charity far exceeds Hindu charity. But this is simply a function of greater numbers. Indeed, the former, of which Christianity is the major part, is very much involved in charitable contributions to non-Christian areas of the world. Despite the duplicity of the Vatican and almost every Christian Church in the world, Christianity has definitely encouraged more people to open their wallets to give to the needy, and Christianity has indeed led more people to devote their lives to alleviate the suffering of others. The many Schools, Colleges and Hospitals in the world are evidence. Tens of millions of kids in India have benefited from Catholic schooling. Today it is the Catholic and Evangelical Churches that spend billions in Africa, in health care and education. Even in developed countries like the United States, religious groups are more involved in Charity work than non-religious groups. I have volunteered for things like affordable housing projects and soup kitchens in New York, and without a doubt it is the religious groups who are the most devoted and well-funded.

      But all of this misses the point. Religious charity, as I said, “disregards a wider sociological understanding of the human condition and ignores the underlying causes of poverty”, and ” religious groups and organizations conspire to perpetuate the conditions that they claim to solve”. Christianity has a deep socially and politically embedded institutional infrastructure that goes back centuries. It has traditionally been the beneficiary of all the goodwill of the people in the West who have wished to do good for their fellow humans. This history and prevalence of religion prevents people from seeing the issue in more objective terms. Christianity and Christian ethics today solves problems that would for the most part cease to exist if religious thinking among the masses is replaced by humanistic and scientific thinking. Today in the US Christianity is associated more with right-wing politics (much more than with the left, who are often dismissed as atheists) that is responsible for increasing wealth disparity and poverty. So while the Christian charity groups provide more for the needy than anyone else, Christian groups are actually responsible for creating much of that poverty, even as they are by far the biggest recipients of the public’s goodwill, time and money. One major reason why Christian charity is so high in Asia, Africa and South America is because those were the parts of the world that were devastated by Christianity-backed colonialism, leading to the disparate world we live in today. Its worse when you factor in other religions. Let’s take just Africa. Today millions of people are suffering because of religious violence and hatred. Wars are being fought and countries are being split along religious and sectarian lines. Religious stupidity has tremendously increased the numbers suffering from AIDS in Africa (thanks to the pope) and the numbers of kids people are having in general.
      There is another key point, one that I was explicitly making in the article- that these religious institutions are unaccountable. They benefit a lot from governments and individuals, and do not answer to anyone. The individuals involved in running these charities (the ones at the top) are the biggest beneficiaries of the charity work. The charity work in itself serves as a recruitment strategy, and as a means of spreading propaganda promoting these institutions of faith. I have stood next to a kindly old lady telling a starving homeless man to close his eyes and accept the “lord Jesus Christ as his personal savior” before piling a ladle full of food on his plate. Not all religious charities are this explicit in their demands. But the facts are clear. The preponderance of the evidence is in favor of the idea that religious groups do more harm than good.

      Can this be solved in one day by getting rid of all religious groups? Of course not. As mentioned, they are the ones with the “deep socially and politically embedded institutional infrastructure that goes back centuries”. Millions of people rely on this infrastructure for their immediate needs. Finding secular humanistic alternatives will take time and effort on our part. But the fact remains that religious charities need to be replaced by secular ones if humanity is to move past this debilitating cycle of poverty and relief that religious perpetuate on society.

      2. Let’s take your statement: ” As far as India is concerned the dharmists have done better than the atheists as a class over the last century”. You are actually comparing Hindu charity with atheist charity in INDIA? This is like saying that Afghani women are stupider than Afghani men because there are so few Afghani women who can read. Of course there are fewer Afghani women who can read, because there are fewer Afghani women who have been exposed to education. Look at the context. What is the percentage of Atheists in India? How many Indians are as informed about secular humanism as they are about Hindu propaganda? If you really want to make that comparison, it has to be on a per capita basis. Let’s compare the proportion of Hindus who do charity work with the proportion of Atheists who do the same. I don’t have data for this. But I’m willing to bet that this number is highly in favor of atheists over Hindus. (As a side note, it was our Atheist prime minister, Nehru, who was most concerned about poverty and wealth disparity, leading him to perform 2 decades of work in bringing India out of the lowest point in its history. The Hindu (and Sikh) prime ministers of the past 3 decades have dramatically increased wealth disparity in the country with their unregulated free-market endorsements, not to mention the promotion of religious and nationalistic pseudosciences, and have lowered the social mobility rate for the poorest sections of society).

      It is also really silly to compare the charitable accomplishments of organized Hindu groups in India with those of organized Atheistic institutions. The context is everything here. Hindu institutions have existed for centuries, and even the recent ones enjoy a much wider show of support from the masses. Hindu indoctrination inculcates moral and cultural superiority from birth. The majority of those in India who want to do social service are bound to be Hindus, simply because of the numbers. There simply is not much of a social and political infrastructure for atheists in India.

      Hindu institutions that do social service are often working to right the wrongs of Hindu institutions that promote Hindu ideas. For centuries Hindus have kept large sections of society underfoot, because of their twisted “dharmic” beliefs. The suffering and debilitating poverty thrust on these people overshadows the efforts of those Hindus who are involved in charity work. This continues today. Hindu beliefs and institutions continue to perpetuate these conditions, for women, for “lower castes” and even for those who disagree with their primitive social and moral codes. These institutions and beliefs keep people thinking inwards, superior in their ignorance, festering in their filth. They glorify both doing nothing for society (giving up all possessions and dedicating one’s life to glorifying “creation”) and doing good for others (giving alms to the poor). In essence it creates a society that is interdependent not because of shared humanistic concerns, but because of mutually beneficial superstitions. Such a society is vastly less productive and is incapable of true moral growth. Giving alms to the millions who are poor because of Hindu beliefs/practices cannot be a moral victory for Hinduism just because those people giving alms are also motivated by Hindu beliefs.

      A few specific mentions-

      You mentioned Sulabh Shauchalaya under Hindu “dharmic” institutions. I looked them up. They indeed do very good work, and are India’s largest non-profit. But they are NOT A RELIGIOUS CHARITY. It is at least a little disingenuous of you to include them in your compilation of religious groups from India.

      You mentioned that the RSS is a “champion in disaster relief”. I consider the charitable activities of the RSS similar to those of the Taliban. Now think about that analogy, and perhaps you’ll see both these groups as evidence for my claim that “by their very nature religious groups and organizations conspire to perpetuate the conditions that they claim to solve”.

      You said “Among the atheists I would include Baba Amte and no one else.”
      I say look harder. Arvind has already posted a link to a list of secular charities in India. But even specifically atheist charities have been doing great work. India’s very first modern Atheist organization, the Atheist Centre in Vijayawada founded by Gandhian activist Gora, has been involved in secular social work for decades now. There are many more such organizations in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. West Bengal and Kerala has innumerable rationalist and humanist groups that perform social work every day. Baba Amte was indeed one of the greatest Indian social workers, but he was by no means alone. And his work is by no means over.

      We’re building the institutions necessary for the minuscule percentage of India’s freethinkers to get involved in work that’s beneficial to society and culture. We have a long way to go, but our path is not built on the suffering of those who struggle for emancipation from the religious tyranny that surrounds them.

  • Given Microsoft’s underhanded tactics in stiffing competition, I’m no fan of Bill Gates. But Microsoft was challenged in courts and was punished for what it did. As Arvind pointed out, Bill Gates is answerable to the Rule Of Law. That is in stark contrast to Sai Baba who has had allegations against him which weren’t even given a voice in a court of law. He is above the law. The Constitution means nothing to him.

    There exist another group of people who have the same disdain for the law. They are the Kalmadi’s, Raja’s, Pawar’s, Janardhana Reddy’s who set new bars for corruption. One could argue that they are doing good as they are directing money to projects that benefit ordinary people. But some religious followers consider them immoral and not Sai Baba. Hypocrisy at its best.

    People like Sai Baba can lie, cheat, con people into donating money and promote superstitious thinking that is quite far from reality. But they should not be criticized as their actions are dharmic. That is the essence of Sanatana Dogma. Do as you please. Any moral transgression can be offset by a bit of charity. You get even more leeway if you can perform some magic tricks and utter spiritual banalities.

    • The way I read into Ajita’s article, this isn’t SSB vs. Pope vs. Microsoft but it is SSB vs. Pope vs. Bill Gates, the individual.

    • The Sanatana Dogmatics often go one further than just claiming that ‘any moral transgression can be offset by a bit of charity’. They act as if ‘any moral transgression can be OBLITERATED by a bit of charity’.

  • Way back in 1975 or so, when I was in 5th std, there was this joke that made rounds among us boys. It was targeted at one of our class mates whose family members were ardent devotees.

    ” There was this guy who dies and goes to heaven. There, he sees a very strange sight … a simple and unassuming looking fellow was spotted going in a Rolls Royce. He was dressed in the fanciest of clothes and attended to by a number of servants. Our guy asks an nearby angel regarding the identity of the man in the Rolls Royce. The angel replies, “oh .. he was one of the most honest and decent human beings ever to have lived on the earth. Therefore, he has been rewarded in this manner”.

    A little later, Gandhi is spotted going in a 2nd hand ambassador car, followed by Nehru driving an old Bajaj scooter.

    And turning around, guess whom our guy spots coming up the road, wearing tattered clothes, panting and puffing as he cycled furiously on a katara (junk) bicycle?”

    At this point, our classmate would shout, “shut uuup!!! you sinner !!!!” and that would drive us into uncontrollable bursts of hysterical laughter.

  • I felt sad when I saw prominent national leaders , sports person and other VIPs being influenced by this fraud magician.

  • Ratnesh,

    This is an irrelevant and diversionary argument. BMGF may be investing the surplus from its endowments or funds that may be waiting to be deployed in charity. Those investments are generating return that only go to swell the endowment/charity fund corpus.

    How much true social and economic value Coca cola, Monsanto, Mc Donalds are generating is debatable. Most socialists and humanists are not admirers of these companies. But statements like yours above are hasty blanket judgments on complex issues.

    Still trying to transfer the taint of Coca cola, Monsanto, Mc Donalds to BMGF is twisted argumentation.

  • Any charitable work is a great thing. I do find it such a shame that people dont take the time to education or experience some of the things they write about. Sai Baba spend every day of his life helping Millions and Millions of people and his work will live on. Love is a wonderful thing and spreading that is the best thing anyone can do. I urge you to research a little and then form you’re own opinion

    • Hey charlie, next time we have the conference for simplistic thinking and reading, and under-estimation of others, we will make sure to invite you.

    • Charlie,

      This is called as voicing a preconceived opinion. It is quite obvious that you have neither properly read nor understood the above article

      Your comments have same meaningless platitudes that is the staple of Sai Baba sermons over the years.

      Critics do a lot of research before voicing their dissent. It is a pity that supporters of religious charity have no inclination to give a hearing to the voice of reason

  • Ajita:

    Superb! Sometimes I wish I had written that!
    The world got rid of 2 “Godmen” in 2 weeks (Sai and Osama)

  • Whole of India is corrupted, and this includes the government. No one is perfect in this world, take the good teachings of Sai Baba and improve your life! If you can not do any good stop criticising and condemning others who are at least trying.

  • The question to ask ?

    Should Enmity be Encouraged and Complimented by those who claim to propagate and value the quotation, can Charity be Precluded from Criticism !

    • The article encourages altruism WITHOUT strings of clan or cult affiliation attached, and also encourages criticism of the modus operandi of certain ostensible charities in order to engage in public reasoning about their priorities. This article was triggered by anxiety and dismay on how charity has been arrogated by certain faith-based institutions in the popular imagination and written with an eagerness to widen the scope of charitable initiatives beyond its traditional ; and it is surprising that it is accused of promoting ‘enmity’!

  • A very poorly researched and poorly worded post. Usage of extreme adjectives does not change a reader’s perspective. So if the writers here want to project themselves as truly rational, they need to delve into details and present the proof of their research.

    Just because you do not get the numbers, you cant brand an organization as unaccounted or dark. For eg, “A tiny portion of Sai Baba’s ill-gotten fortune is used for charitable purposes.” Now what do you mean by “tiny portion”? how much percentage? If you generally observe the way trusts work, They have a corpus on whose interest amount, they carry out the activity. This is a general procedure followed to maintain the stability of the organization. Say you have 100 crores of corpus, and the interest per annum is 7%, a conservative organization can budget only 7 crores worth of service activities for the year.

    Now, the next adjective is “ill gotten” How do you define ill gotten. Do you mean that he employed goons who took money from people at the gun point? or who stole money? What is the proof of the ‘ill gotten” ness.

    When you say “Unaccounted” have you tried to know the procedure of how the trust collects donation. When I tried to donate money, the trust replied with a note on how much was collected in the year before my donation and what was the change my donation made. Do you need more transparency?

    This was just a part of it, but a reader easily gets the picture that your article is a biased note to market Bill Gates Foundation as against the Vatican and Sathya Sai organization.

    My last piece of advise is that if you truly want to show your rationalism in your writings, you need to give weightage to research and data than to random rumours and your own biases. Hope you can improve for better.

    • – The seeming harshness of the choice of the words here isn’t any worse than the choicest derogations which faith-based cults routinely employ against even their most decorous rationalist critics. (Here’s one famous instance: http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?271521 Paragraph 9 )

      – Allegations of ‘ill-gotten’ and ‘unaccounted’ fundraising can be quite readily forestalled, if annual disclosures of this sort(http://www.gatesfoundation.org/annualreport/Pages/annual-reports.aspx A specific example: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/annualreport/2009/Pages/consolidated-statements-of-financial-position.aspx) are regularly furnished and hesitation to do so is legitimate cause for concern. Attempts to obtain an evaluation of the Puttaparthi trusts from http://www.charitynavigator.org/ were not fruitful and I will be glad if someone points me to an independent body like Charity Navigator that allays rationalist concerns.

      • Arvind,

        Do you mean to say that just because faith based cults abuse the rationalists as you feel, it is justified that rationalists abuse them back? I feel this is the defeat of rationalism itself. Faith believers worship their ideology and do get defensive. But do rationalists take leave of logic and reason to hit back?

        The aim of reading a truly rationalist article is to assess the reasoning, arguments and data behind it. Any color attached by this usage of adjectives shows anger and not knowledge or logic. To be precise, the presentation looks highly irrational.

        As for auditing and public disclosures, you can talk about them if the organization is obligated by the constitution to disclose publicly, the financials. When the laws governing both the organizations are not similar, it is, forgive me, highly irrational to compare both.

        • As for auditing and public disclosures, you can talk about them if the organization is obligated by the constitution to disclose publicly, the financials. When the laws governing both the organizations are not similar, it is, forgive me, highly irrational to compare both.

          Right. Because the laws are weak, such organizations get a pass. Just like how politicians misappropriate money because our legal and bureaucratic framework are ill equipped to handle corruption. So I guess we should get down on our knees and praise our corrupt government because apparently it is irrational to compare two systems which are not governed by the same laws. We can’t compare our government to a non-corrupt government elsewhere in the world, or a governing system from the past. Nice excuses you make.

        • – The article above that so exercises the apologists is accusatory but not abusive. The tone, admittedly, is impatient, but this is only because all attempts towards even a preliminary investigation of the numerous serious allegations against the high-profile accused have been stymied.

          – The de facto legal exceptionalism that is routinely claimed for faith-based institutions is itself something that we oppose, and it goes without saying that we oppose the surreptitious goings-on within these institutions when such exceptionalism prevails.

          – As typical in discussions of this nature, those taking a rationalist stance are being accused of not being rational enough. So it seems only fair that even those taking a religious stance are pressed for their religious credentials. How about some introspection and self-reflection rather than the gratuitous labeling of critics as ‘Judases’? Also, instead of claiming exceptionalism from even ordinary law, doesn’t it seem appropriate that religious institutions claiming to sanctify society should voluntarily submit to even more stringent standards of conduct than ordinary mortals?

          • Dear Arvind

            I can understand your point on the failed attempts. I agree that you guys have the right to your emotions too. But the tone of the article is not just accusatory, it is judgemental. A rational article should make people think and reason. Instead the content is making people on the either side defensive and only polarising the groups which defeats the very purpose of rationalism. As I understand, growing out of beliefs is necessary, but only by riding strong on reason and spirit. Personal attacks, unfortunately don’t help here.

            And secondly, if you have a problem with the constitutional measures, you would need to read through the governing laws and rules and stuff which provide for this and act duly to remove the ‘special provisions’ which you feel are harmful.

            Again as far as rationalism is concerned, it rides high on logic, but personal attack itself is a sign of defeat or desperation. Now any organization or a person who has been granted special privileges by the constituion, enjoys them as a right. Nobody can accuse them of not being true or normal. Like If I feel reservation system for minorities is harmful as it hampers with the merit of the system, it is purely my view point. I can only act by means of questioning the consitution and working to bring necessary changes rather than accuse the minorities of not being competent enough to prove themselves. This was just an example and I dont intend to hurt anyone’s feelings.

            Rationalism flourishes as long as there is respect for the opposing view point. It is an argument Vs Argument, not emotions vs opposing emotion.

            I hope I made my point clear here.

          • Instead the content is making people on the either side defensive and only polarising the groups which defeats the very purpose of rationalism.

            I pointed that Sai Baba was a liar, but you still defended his lying as if it is a morally acceptable. And here you are pretending to understand the purpose of rationalism. One of our goals is to spread good morals. Blatant lying and fooling people is definitely not good moral behavior.

            As I understand, growing out of beliefs is necessary, but only by riding strong on reason and spirit. Personal attacks, unfortunately don’t help here.

            Reason? I gave you a good reason for why the use of the term “ill-gotten”. Instead of addressing the reason, you listed out irrelevant arguments.

            Again as far as rationalism is concerned, it rides high on logic, but personal attack itself is a sign of defeat or desperation.

            I could say the same of your comment “May be you are not aware of the contradictions in your own statements.” Not only did you use poor reasoning, but you made a personal attack on me.

            Now any organization or a person who has been granted special privileges by the constituion, enjoys them as a right.

            So a liar deserves special treatment even when the constitution didn’t give him those rights? For someone preaching with a holier-than-thou smugness about purpose of rationalism, you have some very lofty moral ideals.

            Rationalism flourishes as long as there is respect for the opposing view point. It is an argument Vs Argument, not emotions vs opposing emotion.

            You know very little about rationalism as evidenced by your comments. If the article/our comments are too painful for you to read, nobody is forcing you to. So please take your whining elsewhere.

          • I hope I made my point clear here.
            Not yet. One wishes your supposed eagerness to clarify was as forthcoming from the ones you defend as well.

            Instead the content is making people on the either side defensive and only polarising the groups which defeats the very purpose of rationalism.

            There are situations where moderation is not what is aimed for in the first place. To a question like, “What is the right amount of corruption to be allowed for a society to flourish?”, the answer we would give in principle is ‘Nil!’ and not, ‘Just the right moderate amount to appease the activists and keep the bribe-takers happy’. In other words, there are some debates in which an Appeal to Moderation is obviously out of context, and the evil is not sought to be ‘optimized’ but to be ‘eradicated’. Rationalists count superstition among such evils and aim at nothing short of eradication and hence appeals to moderation will cut little ice. If you are convinced that the activities you are defending are not superstitious then the onus of proving the veracity of claims that run counter to the known Laws of Nature, is on you.

            And secondly, if you have a problem with the constitutional measures, you would need to read through the governing laws and rules and stuff which provide for this and act duly to remove the ’special provisions’ which you feel are harmful.

            Speaking of the Constitution, one of the earliest rationalist inquiries in this regard which I had mentioned earlier (http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?271521) only furthered a constitutional prerogative accorded to all citizens in Article 51A (It maybe a good idea to look it up…after you advise us to!) and even that attempt was met by vicious ad hominem attacks. Apologists of the faiths are doing with the Constitution what they do with any other authoritative text, ‘selective literalism’. In the Indian context, there is ‘literalism’ because of the failure to recognize that ‘freedom of religion’ includes ‘freedom from religion’ as well, and it is ‘selective’ because the emphasis is disproportionately on the guarantees of religious freedom at the cost of the commitment towards scientific temper also prescribed by the self-same constitution.

            Rationalism flourishes as long as there is respect for the opposing view point. It is an argument Vs Argument, not emotions vs opposing emotion.

            We are operating in an all-too-human context and all ‘wars of ideas’ will also, alas, involve ‘hearts-and-minds battles’. Let us ask the question what will cause a change of mind on either side. On the rationalist side of the fence, the challengers will change their mind if a miracle is demonstrated by the ones you defend, under the conditions of the Koovoor Challenge (for instance). Now moving to the devout side of the fence, what will cause a change of mind there? What argument or evidence, even hypothetically, will cause even an examination of the held position, let alone its alteration? It may help to provide clear answers to those questions, to lend some weight to their demands of ‘genuine rationalism’ on part of critics.

      • Arvind, seriously, did you try to access a copy of SSSCT’s tax records from charitynavigator.org, a website that lists US based charities? The Satya Sai trusts received an exemption from filing annual reports with the AP state endowments department. These departments are better termed embezzlement departments, especially in Tamil Nadu where the DMK/ADMK have taking turns swindled the many temples in the state for decades. AP isn’t much better.
        The Satya Sai Trust also files reports on foreign contributions with the union home ministry, and an annual statement accounts with the Income Tax Dept of India. And as I have commented elsewhere on this thread, the SS trusts are the only ones among the top 10 recipients of foreign contributions in India that carry out any welfare work. Now check out the website of World Vision, an international soul harvesting racket or the Rural Development Trust another v.large local soul harvesting racket in AP run with foreign money. These organizations have been AWOL and made no difference to some of the most significant welfare successes India has enjoyed in the last 10 years.
        -HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, where a combination of the government’s public health field teams, Gates Foundation, and drug company CIPLA (run by a Dawoodi Bohra family) have empowered women – especially CSW to insist that their male clients use protection – detected cases speedily, and made available retroviral cocktails at rock bottom costs
        -Expansion in primary enrollment – here agan the effect of public-private partnerships like AkshayaPatra (1 million meals/day and growing) where the government funds and the private sector matches and spends wisely, have offered an incentive that can’t be beat for parents to send their children to school. We have a long way to go, and it would be easier if we could “all just get along” a la Rodney King and instead of being the prowl to harvest souls for Xist, spend money to create welfare infrastructure. Do you know that >80% of the cooks employed by AkshayaPatra are dalits? Strike one more blow for progress!
        -Water and environmental preservation. Since pilgrimages are the biggest contributors to travel and tourism in India, the Hindu Acharya Sabha has been aggressively pursuing state governments and municipalities to ban plastic and other NBD materials at punyakshetras, to some success.

        The role of the soul harvesters in all this has been a big zero. Direct your searchlight elsewhere Arvind.

        • When an organization claims to have a world-wide presence, and a world-sanctifying presence at that, then judging it by global standards anywhere in the world seems fair game. Checking for front organizations’ credentials wherever an institution claims to have donors, in the US or anywhere else, does not seem all that out of place. Charity Navigator is a useful resource for expats and others who are serious about actually putting their money where their mouth is, using evaluations like these for organizations like this one . I agree that it may not be a particularly useful resource for people astride a hobby-horse of conducting a ‘faith census’ of charities in an attempt to demonstrate the superiority of the faith they feel compelled to serve as apologists for.

          The overzealousness in the above comment to make the point that the work of ‘soul-harvesters’ is over-rated, seems to stem from the all-too common misconception that critics of godmen in an Indian context, like those at Nirmukta, are somehow necessarily fans of evangelists promoting other brands. Honestly it is hard for us to distinguish one brand of messianic hagiographers from an other. Those obsessively practising online vigilantism to expose ‘undercover missionaries’ are better off taking their searchlight elsewhere.

          • Apart from the pulling out the marxist card, another favorite trick of dharmic apologists is the Christian sympathizer card.

            Their Sanatana Dogma, in one of its nebulous manifestations, is tautologically defined as the way the Universe is. So they get puzzled when non-sympathizers of other dogmas criticize their dogma. How can someone criticize the way the Universe is? So naturally, to avoid contradictions with their worldview, us Indian rationalists necessarily have to be Christian sympathizers. Because then it is easy for them to club us with the deluded Christians.

          • Satish Chandra you sound almost like Raj Narain in 1977, when he said IG would be defeated. You got something right, unknowingly. The “Indian rationalist” line on Sanatana Dharma is entirely based on the Christian apologist’s argument for a universe made by god. Sadly the ignorant get it right only once. Raj Narain said the same thing in 1979 and was humbled in the polls.

          • The “Indian rationalist” line on Sanatana Dharma is entirely based on the Christian apologist’s argument for a universe made by god

            You are just showing your ignorance of atheistic philosophies.

          • It’s simple Arvind. If the SS Trusts have a chartered presence in the US, the entity concerned would have to file an IRS-990 (assuming that this organization is chartered as a 501(c)3. If this entity were in violation (I will assume for your sake that it is) you would hear about very soon. And no, these “global standards” require the organization to follow the law wherever its branches are chartered. So that means filing an IRS-990 in the US, filing returns with the ministries of home and revenue in India or (if the UK) reporting to the commissioner of charities as and when required. You may choose to look up Charitynavigator.com before you decide whether you should favor a certain charity. You could the next time someone asked you about SS Trust, tell them that it is a boondoggle, because there is no information about them on the site you refer to. Beyond that the SS Trust (like AID) is accountable to government institutions. As a Joe Public or Jaya Janata you could demand that the SS Trust open up its workings in India (maybe you would use the RTI or file a PIL) or some such thing. Here in the US you could write to the IRS, I guess or ask your legislator for info. Beyond that the SS Trust owes nothing to you. As far as I am concerned the SS trusts have improved lives for millions, Isaac Tiggrett (the man who endowed the Puttaparthi hospital) isn’t in jail for money laundering. And I will contribute to the charities that I have seen doing good work in India. Which is what most expats do, which is why no one particularly cares for concerned inquisitors astride a horse named Sanctimony.

            “Messianic hagiography” FYI. Messiah is an Abrahamic entity, a deliverer foretold in the Hebrew Bible. “Messianic zeal” makes sense. “Messianic hagiography” makes no sense, it’s just word salad.

          • “Messianic hagiography” FYI. Messiah is an Abrahamic entity, a deliverer foretold in the Hebrew Bible. “Messianic zeal” makes sense. “Messianic hagiography” makes no sense, it’s just word salad.

            No. You are the one who is gluttonously gorging on a word salad. Its obvious that Arvind’s use of messiah is not in the literal sense. And FYI, Sai Baba does fit bill of a non-literal-usage-of-the-word-messiah:

            “I have a task to foster all mankind and ensure for all of them lives full of bliss. I have a vow: To lead all who stray away from the straight path again into goodness and save them. I am attached to a work that I love: To remove the sufferings of the poor and grant them what they lack.”

          • It is interesting that a donor who is being praised in the above comment for the relatively modest achievement of staying out of jail, lives according to a moral code in which a murder or two is a small price to pay for ‘the teaching’ and ‘his evolution. Accusations of sanctimony from such pretentious quarters are as unsurprising as they are untenable.

            As for the lexical nitpicking, in this clip , for those who bothered to hear the word salad in it, the imagery is unmistakably Judaeo-Christian and the narrative is messianic. So when I said messianic hagiography, I meant *messianic* *hhagiography*.

          • I take back my reply to Kaangeya. The Sanatana Dharma in that video clip is quite revealing.

    • Now, the next adjective is “ill gotten” How do you define ill gotten. Do you mean that he employed goons who took money from people at the gun point? or who stole money? What is the proof of the ‘ill gotten” ness.

      The man you are defending lied through his teeth – that he is a God and can perform miracles. It is because that people believed his lies that they gave him their money. His lying is a proof of the ill gotten-ness that you ask for.

      Maybe in your moral world where lying is acceptable and maybe even cherished, money accrued by lying is a symbol of virtuous behaviour, but us rationalists, by virtue of reasoning out our morality, generally frown upon lying and encourage people to be honest.

      • Satish,

        May be you are not aware of the contradictions in your own statements. OK, let us assume that He lied about being God. Now your ‘blind followers’ believed him. But according to popular belief, God does not need donations at least as the bulk of theists believe. Then why would they donate money believing that he is God?

        Let me also tell you about the magnitude of this movement. There are lakhs of followers who have seen and heard him. And there are crores of them in 135 countries who have not even seen him. Donations flow from one and all.

        I seriously doubt if these rationalists have even visited any of the service centres and tried to assess the world class facilities provided free of costs to thousands of rural people every day. (Be it education, drinking water or Health care). It is something that the Sovereign, Secular, Socialst, Democratic Governments have failed to deliver in 60 years.

        At the end of the day, being a devotee requires faith which is beyond reason, I admit and all extreme emotions are a part of it. But being a rationalist requires one to be poised, logical and number oriented. Getting venomous just does not help.

        • But according to popular belief, God does not need donations at least as the bulk of theists believe. Then why would they donate money believing that he is God?

          Really? Then why do people pour money into hundi’s in temples of gods? Isn’t the “popular belief” is that if you do “good” deeds like donating money to temples or religious institutions, your bad karma goes away? And you very conveniently forgot that I also mentioned his cheap parlor tricks which he said are miracles.

          Then you setup a strawman argument of how many people believe him or what facilities his charity provided. As I said, in your moral world lying is perfectly acceptable. Lie how much ever you want, but do a bit of charity and that is okay.

          • “And you very conveniently forgot that I also mentioned his cheap parlor tricks which he said are miracles.”…..hahahahahahahah…then you do just one of these cheap parlor tricks and see if you can even get one person to believe you are God….bet you can’t…..you know not of what you speak…..

          • “ahahahahahahah…then you do just one of these cheap parlor tricks and see if you can even get one person to believe you are God….bet you can’t…..you know not of what you speak”

            Hahahahahahahahahahhahahahahha. It is you who knows not what he speaks of. People like Professor Narendra Nayak are constantly being thought of as having supernatural powers when they demonstrate their tricks. Even when they say they are tricks, some refuse to believe them. This is the level of delusion that you religious sheep are under. Watch the video that Satish posted, and you’ll know just the beginning of the story. But I’m sure you will still attempt to find fault with it, turning your skepticism at the skeptics who are trying to educate people rather than at the frauds who are ripping you off.

        • Do you mean to say that just because faith based cults abuse the rationalists as you feel, it is justified that rationalists abuse them back? I feel this is the defeat of rationalism itself. Faith believers worship their ideology and do get defensive. But do rationalists take leave of logic and reason to hit back?

          At the end of the day, being a devotee requires faith which is beyond reason, I admit and all extreme emotions are a part of it. But being a rationalist requires one to be poised, logical and number oriented. Getting venomous just does not help.

          SS,
          You are quite disgusting, you know that? There.. now that I got your adrenaline up a lil bit.. do you realize that you are dehumanizing us rationalists, by saying that we are not supposed to have emotions when making our arguments? Did you think we are vulcans like Spock? Our arguments are anchored in reason all the time, and we do show our passion and anger. As history tells us, these emotions are essential for any successful movement and they will be part of our quiver. pride is also part of it.. as in.. I am quite proud of how patient and restrained my fellow rationalists are when dealing with disgusting arguments from the other end.

          • Astrokid,

            I really don’t know what is so disgusting out here. I apologise though. But this is the bad news. A rationalist, I understand is a human at the end of the day and has right to his emotions. But the world he/she is trying to bring changes does not care for that, face it.

            A debate is between arguments and not emotions and personal feelings. If emotions is all what I want to see, I am satisfied with those melodramatic news anchors who provide whole some entertainments by their ranting judgemental statements over those news channels. The result is that their display of emotions got the public distrustful of media industry itself.

            And sorry, if there are any traces of reason in the article, it is fully eclipsed by the judgements out there. As long as you are not open to other view point, you cant make a good rationalist.

          • I really don’t know what is so disgusting out here.

            You claiming to understand rationalism and preaching about it, whilst not understanding rationalism is what is disgusting.

            A rationalist, I understand is a human at the end of the day and has right to his emotions. But the world he/she is trying to bring changes does not care for that, face it.

            What doesn’t the world care about? Emotions? Or claims about ability to materialize objects out of nothing, going against the way the world is? The former cannot always be appealed to by pointing to the objective world, but can only be reasoned out without the denial about the validity or importance of the their existence. The latter can be validated against the world, which is why Sai Baba is a fraud for lying about what the world allows to happen.

            You have NO CLUE about the rationalist worldview which takes extreme care to distinguish between things which ought to be and things which are. So stop pretending. Are you taking inspiration from the fraud Sai Baba and lying with absolute conviction?

          • SS,
            you apologize and yet and you continue to beat the same drum. In addition to what Satish says, just cut the bull with your various arguments about personal attacks, emotions-alone, your preachy what rationalists-should-be, directly changing Govt rules without changing social norms etc etc. Yes, our articles will polarize some people, and I dont care. I am dug in (yet learning from my fellows here and elsewhere) and I dont expect to be chummy intellectual pals anytime soon with people on the other side who have dug in, and thats never been our goal at Nirmukta. We have been through such arguments in the past in the international community, and I point you to http://scienceblogs.com/evolutionblog/2010/08/its_never_really_about_civilit.php

            So much of the discourse on these topics imagines two clearly defined sides with everyone having already taken a stand one way or the other. People with an emotional stake on one side are likely to dig in when confronted by rudeness from the other, so we are all supposed to speak in soothing, gentle tones. But that is a ludicrous oversimplification of reality. What about all the people who are on the fence? What about people who have long been uncomfortable with their religious lives but have never heard a non-cartoonish version of any alternatives? What about all the people who have their eyes opened by the visibility atheism now has as a result of Dawkins’ writing? What about all the other books, and public presentations, and You Tube videos that were sparked by Dawkins’ success?

            And, yes, some people will be turned off by his tone. So be it. Life is full of trade-offs. The price of reaching a large audience is calling attention to yourself in ways that some will find distasteful. You can’t please everyone and all that. But the anger directed at people like Dawkins has almost nothing to do with his tone. It is because he harshly criticized religion, and has been very successful doing it.

            Do us a favour and make your absence felt. And thats putting it mildly.

        • Sai Swaroopa,

          In your haste and eagerness to exaggerate the ‘magnitude’ of the Satya Sai movement, you got quite a few statements and opinions of yours mixed up

          “There are lakhs of followers who have seen and heard him.And there are crores of them in 135 countries who have not even seen him.”

          So is one to infer that Satya Sai has only lakhs who have seen and heard in India while there are crores in 135 countries who have not seen him?. Don’t you think you got it backwards. And why did you stop with 135 countries, when Zee and Star TV thinks that there are at least 165 countries where Indian influence reaches?

          And what is your definition of ‘world class facilities’ that is provided by the Satya Sai service centres.

          “Sovereign, Secular, Socialst, Democratic Governments” fail apart from many other reasons to provide many facilities because Govt’s cannot just confine themselves to making a paradise of only Puttapurathi and its outskirts.

          And may I ask what stopped your great Sai from transforming the whole of India into a Puttapurathi?

        • Faith beyond reason is quackery. Here, I’ll demonstrate. I can imagine that you may have never jumped out of an airplane.

          Neither have I. You jump out of one without a parachute, and I’ll be a rationalist jumping out with one. Be sure to carry as much faith as you need, beyond your reason.

          If you survive, you can answer why charities set up by Hamas, Hezbollah and LeT that help the orphans and widows of their martyrs are also not good causes.

      • Satish,

        He collected money and spent every cent on charity. He collected in fact way more money than you rationalists could. There are other humanists (maybe not rationalists) who have collected and spent huge sums of money. Abdus Sattar Edhi in Pakistan (who runs possibly the largest network of charitable institutions for a single man without a monastic order) anywhere in the world. And of course Yunus in Bangladesh of the Grameen Foundation.

        They all work in different ways. Get used to it.

        • “He collected money and spent every cent on charity.”
          Hahahahahahahahaha. Most of what was collected over the years was swindled by the trust. Before 1995 there was very very little philanthropy done by the swindlers, and only after the charges of swindling from the rationalists of the last century did the trust start doing charity work with a portion of the loot.
          “He collected in fact way more money than you rationalists could. There are other humanists (maybe not rationalists) who have collected and spent huge sums of money.”
          1. As has already been established, he swindled from gullible people. Even Harshad Mehta collected more than the rationalists ever could.
          2. Nirmukta is a humanist organization, and I self-identify as a humanist among other things.

        • I disagree with kaangeya when he wrote that every cent collected was spent on charity.
          Firstly, any godman, baba or of such ilk could not be expected to build star hotels or open posh boutiques. They are forced to do indulge in such charitable activities for the consumption of gullible public followers.
          Secondly, the recent ‘excavations’ of the Yajur Mandir that produced huge cache of gold and unaccounted cash stashed away.
          Thirdly, ends can never justify means used.

    • Dear Saiswaroopa,

      As long as there will be people like you, there will be millions of Sai Babas looting the land. Keep it up.. you have Baba’s blessings from heaven or hell wherever he be..

      Regards

  • Bill Gates inherited wealth, he didn’t “work hard all his life”.

    To say that the founder and chairman of Microsoft “owes his wealth to his contributions to society” is no more true than to say the same of a Mafia boss.

    Microsoft’s operations make them wealthy only because of the draconian copyright regime which props up their extortionist model: don’t share this useful information with anyone else or we’ll drop a truckload of lawyers on you. Their “contributions” poison the well of society.

    So I agree with your placement of Bill Gates in the same table as Sai Baba and Ratzinger; I disagree with the shining example you paint though.

    • I agree, how can you compare a thief of public money, criminal, murderer, fraud, greedy hoarder of gold and public cash and child molester Sai Baba to philanthropist and innovator Bill Gates who donated billions of his own money to Charity(Bill did not inherit a dime).
      I know Bill and live in the same town. Comparing any one to Sai is a real insult. Sai will rott in hell for ever for cheating innocent people. Hard to believe India has 30 million idiots(Sai devotees).

    • How exactly did he inherit 50+ billion? His dad is still alive, and never earned that much his whole life.

      The table is not a who’s who, it is a list of the charitable efforts of two quacks and an charitable software entrepreneur.

      And in case you are confused, Sai Baba and Herr Ratzinger are not software entrepreneurs.

    • To say that about Bill Gates is sheer calumny and ignorance. He inherited little indeed compared with what his work generated. He worked most enormously hard and developed the system whereby developers could connect with users. Now he had given away over half his fortune and more is to come. THAT is philanthropy – not begging donations from others to create self-glorifying museums, ashrams, traditional and backward-looking colleges, show hospitals with his image and penny proverbs blazoned all over.

  • microsoft came into prominence bcoz of a deal between them and IBM made by her mother whose had great political power there by tipping apple . I need not say about the copyrite laws they follow without any ethics until he was nailed in a court case(netscape) which gave a verdict to split microsoft into two.thanks to bush the action was never taken. Ask anyone in the software industry they will agree that microsoft is the worst quality of all the softwares available.whatever he is doing is only out of remorse aand if u ask me all his wealth should shd be siezed just as u take away the medal of an athlete who resorts to malpractice. A donation of some amount of his earnings doesnt set evrything else right

    • whatever he is doing is only out of remorse aand if u ask me all his wealth should shd be siezed just as u take away the medal of an athlete who resorts to malpractice. A donation of some amount of his earnings doesnt set evrything else right
      You demonstrate a religious way of thinking here.. the concept of praayaschit. i.e if somebody has committed some “sin”, then remedy is to go on some pilgrimages or do some charity.
      On the one hand you think that Gates is doing this out of remorse for some other wrong doing.. and such thinking is so anachronistic. In a developed country with proper laws, each crime is dealt with on its own merit. On the other hand you yourself say that such acts “dont set everything else right”. which implies that you are beginning to doubt the Hindu concept yourself.
      Either way, you have missed the point of including Bill Gates in this blog post. Read through other comments and you might see it.

      • what i meant was bill gates was a very bad example since he himself broke laws and has concern whatso ever until he was nalied in a court of law. i would recommend WARREN BUFETT than
        bill gates since he is also a humanitarian and doesnt carry around the same amount of like gates does
        about prasychiita i sincerely donot know much about it my only concern was that bcoz of microsoft better companies like netscape had to pay a heavy price and world community in general are at a great loss nothing more. the remorse thing i`m not saying i support it im simply stating thats the way gates feels

    • Many arguments have been made in the article and in the comments. You can make specific criticisms of them instead of making condescending remarks for a quick satisfaction of your ego.

    • What do you think the three columns represented? A menu at a local eatery?

      That *was* research. It highlighted how a philanthropist practices charity and compared how the religious charlatans advertise theirs.

      • Perhaps the circumstances in one’s life makes some people cynical and unappreciative of critical reasoning & creative efforts on the part of others. While they themselves cannot write one sentence of original thought, they cannot think outside the box. Pathetic indeed.

  • I appreciate this article but disagree with the following statement.
    “It is also used to promote the institutions and the nonsensical teachings of Sai Baba, and for defending a pedophile fraud on blogs and Facebook.”
    I understand that there are accusations of him sexually abusing a few people. However, are mere accusations sufficient to brand him a pedophile. Didn’t the author understand the difference between the following two statements…”He is a pedophile” and “He is accused of being a pedophile”.
    I guess even the best of rationalists, sometimes get carried away and speak out of prejudice and not evidence/rationale.

    • True. The fraud was never convicted in a court (And yes, he is a certified fraud. You don’t need the courts for that). But let us also not forget how the law works in India.

      • Satish Chandra,

        “And yes, he is a certified fraud”
        I am not talking about his magic tricks (miracles). I am talking about the accusations of sexual abuse.
        I am assuming that you did not get my point and so so asking the following question. Please answer it without beating around the bush.
        Q) Assume that I accused you of being a pedophile. Is a mere accusation sufficient for the rationalist community to brand you a pedophile.

        “Let us not forget how the law works in India”
        I guess the Naxalites also use the same logic to justify their atrocities.

          • Satish Chandra,
            I understand the word “True” very well but not the rest of your reply.
            Since you said “The fraud was never convicted in a court”, and went on to say how one “doesn’t require courts for that” and “how the law works in India”, I was forced to assume that you were talking about about his magic tricks and not the sexual allegations.
            If you were indeed referring to sexual allegation when you used the word fraud (and not the magic tricks), how did you come to the conclusion that its a fraud without it being convicted in court.

          • I was only agreeing to the fact that he wasn’t convicted as a pedophile. At the same time, I was also pointing out that law in India has a habit of exonerating the rich and powerful.

  • Well written article, indeed. The contrast shown here between a philanthropic work and one projected in the name of a guru/avatar/preacher from a/any religion is nice. To understand the difference one need not be a rationalist! One can even be a (staunch) theist (like myself for example), from any religion! Theism doesn’t mean irrational, definitely not in Hindu/Vedantic philosophies! Indeed, observation & rationalism in Vadanta is referred as “darshana jnanam & meemamsa”! Any one well versed in Gautama Buddha & Adi Shankara’s teaching understand this. Neither advocated “blind-belief” as the way for enlightenment & liberation!

  • Hello Sai Swaroopa,

    Since your name suggests that you are the very form of Sai, can you please throw some light on how Sai Baba was able to setup these free hospitals?
    Kindly elaborate the methodology and the process for doing so.
    Since he has said that “His life is his message”, I would like to emulate him.
    Please let me know how I can setup free hospitals in my village. What is the method to gain money, and also get people to work for you?
    Please elaborate.
    Also if you feel that this is something that only he can do, then please explain his epitaph “My Life is My message”

    Thank you

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