The Social Philosophy of Sri Satya Sai Baba
by Vijaya Rajiva on 22 Mar 2022 4 Comments

The central message of Satya Sai Baba’s social philosophy is Love All, Serve All. It originates from his abiding belief that God is Love, and humans embody that atmic [atma-ic] principle. It is intrinsic to their nature. It is your nature, he said to the world at large and to his own devotees. It is foundational to the Satya Sai movement for social action in the form of social work. He lectured about the Unity of Being. Both these, the Atmic Principle and the Unity of Being are central to his views on social philosophy. Transforming love into service is the central theme.


It is significant that Satya Sai describes the Atmic principle as embodying God is love. While he refers frequently to Consciousness being Brahman/God, and the Bhakti tradition speaks of the bhakti marga/devotion and love of God, this appears to be the clearest formulation of Love being God/Brahman.


It would also explain why his social philosophy is based on what he calls being heroes of action (Talk).


Satya Sai’s direct personal involvement in the setting up of a super-specialty hospital for the needy, delivery of potable water to villages, and establishment of educational institutions, is well known. The social work carried on by devotees both during his lifetime and after is documented in Satya Sai International Organisation (available on YouTube). There are projects, educational and humanitarian in many countries. The organisation was founded in 1960 by Satya Sai himself and later the name was somewhat changed.


The impressive scale and content of this work is a testimony to the devotees’ dedication in carrying out the respective tasks. These include regular charitable work but also during emergency situations such as tsunamis and floods (See Satya Sai Work). The nature and scale of this social work are astonishing.


The question then may be asked: why do humans concern themselves with social work?

The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer would say: compassion.


Immanuel Kant, another great German philosopher, would say it is the moral law, which is universal and necessary. By the latter word he did not mean necessity in the ordinary sense of the word. In his first great work of philosophy, The Critique of Pure Reason, where he argued that we do not know the ultimate reality in itself (ding an sich). H went on to say that we know what we know about the universe etc. only through our own categories of the mind.


In his second work, Critique of Practical Reason, he concluded that in spite of our lack of knowledge of ultimate reality as it is (ding an sich), there are the starry heavens above and the moral law within.


This brings us to Satya Sai’s Atmic Principle and the Unity of Being (Unity is Divinity, Study Guide, Sri Satya Sai International Organisation).


I] Unity is Divinity:

“…. Divinity is actually latent in all things in the Universe. It is this Omnipresence that provides a powerful undercurrent of unity to the otherwise apparent and bewildering diversity.” (Summer Showers in Brindavan 2000/ch.7)


“The strife and conflicts between human beings started the moment humanity forgot its fundamental unity. It is time that this trend is reversed and that the fundamental unity among humans is re-established. Along with the unity there should be purity. Where unity and purity go together there is Divinity. The combination of unity, purity and Divinity will result in the realisation of the Atmic principle (Atma Tatwa). The Upanishads, especially the Taittiriya Upanishad, dealt at length with this Atma Principle.” (Satya Sai Speaks, Vol. 42/ch4: February 21, 2009)


II. The Atmic Principle:


In his Lecture on the Gayatri Mantra: A Heavenly Prayer, Satya Sai mentions the five sheaths that make up the human being:

1] annamaya, the food sheath

2] pranamaya, the energy sheath

3] manomaya, the mental sheath

4] vijnanamaya, the philosophical/knowledge sheath

5] Atma, the constant , integrative awareness that is the moving principle of all that exists.


In including Love as the essential feature of the Atma sheath, Satya Sai points simultaneously to the Immanent Divine, as embodying Love.


III. The Immanent Divine is Love:


The underlying principle here is that love is the nature of all reality, of the Immanent Divine in which humans are participants. Whether one is an Advaitin (one is identical with the Divine) or one is a Vishishtadvaitin (one is not identical, but related to the Divine), one is part of /identical with the Divine as Love.


This emphasis is central to Satya Sai’s social philosophy. Since all humans are Atma, they are also essentially beings that are governed by Love.


“I have come to light the lamp of love in your hearts, to see that it shines day by day with added lustre. I have not come on any mission of publicity for any sect or creed or cause; nor have I come to collect followers for any doctrine. I have come to tell you of this Universal unitary faith, this path of Love. Believe that all Hearts are motivated by the One and Only God, that all names in all languages and all forms man can conceive denote the one and only God. Cultivate the attitude of oneness between people of all creeds, all countries, and all continents. This is the message of Love I bring.” (Satya Sai International Organisation).


Further on God is Love:

“Love is God, God is Love. Where there is love, there God is certainly evident. Love more and more people; love them more and more intensely; transform this love into service; transform this love into worship.... that is the highest sadhana (spiritual practice). There is no living being without that spark of love, even the madman loves something or somebody. You must recognise this love as but the reflection of the Premaswaroopa that is your reality, of the God who is residing in your heart. Without that spring of love that bubbles in your heart, you will not be prompted to love at all.” (Sri Satya International Organisation)


Transforming love into service and then transforming that into worship is sadhana. One can understand the link between Satya Sai’s social philosophy and his philosophy of love.


User Comments Post a Comment

Back to Top