Shri Chandra BhanuSatpathyji known as Guruji to his disciples needs no introduction to devotees of Sai Baba of Shirdi. Born in 1948 in Cuttack, Orissa, Guruji, after completing his education, taught in Delhi University for a few years before joining the 1972 batch of Indian Police Service (IPS) in the Uttar Pradesh Cadre. For his distinguished services he received several medals during his tenure. He is married and has children. In 1989, he saw a video cassette of the movie “ ShirdikeSai Baba” and that changed his life and he became an ardent devotee of Sai Baba of Shirdi. Since retirement as Director General of Police, UP in 2008, he has devoted his full time to the spread of the movement of ShirdiSai Baba.
Guruji is instrumental in building more than 200 temples of Sai Baba of Shirdi across all of India and overseas. He has also written several books, prominent among them “ Shri ShirdiSai Baba and other Perfect Masters”and “May I Answer”. He also publishes several magazines.
Shri C.B. Satpathy (Guruji) is considered “AnkitSantan” (Chosen Child) of Sadguru (Perfect Master) Sai Baba of Shirdi.
He was recently in Sydney on a visit to the ShirdiSaiBaba temple-under-construction at Regents Park, when he agreed for an interview. Below are the excerpts:
HarnathSithamraju :Under your guidance, the SaiUtsav was organised in Sydney in 2001. Looking back, what is your impression about the spread of the movement in Australia?
Guruji :It was my 100thShirdiSai Baba temple, when I had come to Sydney in 2001. Since then I have opened over 115 moreShirdiSai Baba temples all over the world. Few days back, I opened a temple in New Zealand. In the Southern hemisphere the Sai movement is growing. The New Zealand temple is very big. There are ShirdiSaiBaba temples in Melbourne, Perth and Canberra.
ShirdiSai Baba never created an institution to propagate himself, left no money or heir apparent and the present Samadhi Mandir run by ShirdiSaiSansthan are finding it difficult to run it by themselves. All temples run by me are not supported or funded by them. Then why do people come ? You see, there is lot of religious competitiveness in the market as if selling a brand. Which is not correct.In Baba’s case it is a simple love of people, Personality, Humanism, Simplicity and Universal capacity to assimilate rather than contradict issues and the path of religion.All go together. They show a simple solution. The institution of religion has created more death by clashes of religions. The New World is looking for a religion which will not have the encumbrances of the past. ShirdiSai Baba movement is one such, without consideration of caste, religion or status. It is all about love for Baba. And this is what appeals to people. I am happy Tolani and others in Australia are doing a great job however, there is lot more to be done for the movement. Temple, is only the first step. I am coming up with schools, hospitals and others in due course. Temple is not only for prayers. It is for community services like education, health, disaster management and service to the poorer sections of the society. Baba’s wishes will be done. He stood for kindness and help to people without any returns and this temple should also stand for that. That is futuristic.
HS :There might have been occasions when devotees would have narrated their experiences aboutShirdiSai Baba.
Guruji :What is important is that people have recorded their experiences with Baba. I am a devotee, you are a devotee. We are Baba’s devotees. That is the only relationship we have. Together we are working for Baba. We are handholding for a big cause and as a family we get happiness. Thousands of people narrate their experiences but that is for them to experience and grow. I do not want to project Baba as a miracle man. What is happening actually is the very fact that so many people are building temples without finance, without resources and suddenly things come up in a very strange manner.Makes it difficult to be anecdotal. But please know that whenever a temple is being built you feel a strange force is helping you. This is happening everywhere, even in the remotest part of the world. The second point is the motivation and the approach to Baba. The inner feelings devotees get is the same everywhere. Even in Havana, Cuba where I had been in 1997, a Spanish woman, who did not know Baba, even to her the devotion was the same. This is the most surprising pattern, rather than any anecdotal things.
HS : You are involved in authoring and publication of several books and magazines and also building ofShirdiSai Baba Temples across several countries. What is the motivation behind all this?
Guruji : If you love someone, you would like to know more about Him and that is the motivation. It is as simple as that. Devotion is nothing but a love to someone. When you love someone, you are for Himas much as you can. You would like people to know how beautiful that person is.
HS : Can you please elaborate on what is “Sai Spirit” and the embodiment of “SaiOversoul”?
Guruji :I think you have gone through the Book that I have written – “ Age of Sai”. “Oversoul” means divine essence and “Sai Spirit” means, the basic fundamentals for which Sai stood and we stand for. Spiritualism means absorption of the Spirit beyond the ego. Sai Baba is considered a spiritual person not because of Arthis. Arthiscan be performed at any temple. There is a difference between religion and spiritualism. Spirit encompasses everybody – the poorest, the lepers everyone. There are six of them :First one is Sympathy, (2) Equality (3) Service without expecting any returns (4) Brotherhood – Involvement of everybody. (5) Sacrifice for the cause of others and the sixth one He said was Patience with Devotion.That encompasses ShirdiSai Baba.
HS : What is the main message that ShirdiSai Baba wanted to convey to his devotees and future generations?
Guruji :ShirdiSaiBaba said “ cut down all barriers – “Telikadeewartodo” of caste, age and craving for money. Know “Sab ka MalikEk”.And Pray. And let me help you handholding. Do that as long as I live and beyond my life. The more you cut down your limitations the more evolved is your spirit. Spirit doesn’t evolve because of thesebarriers. These are impediments for freeplay of consciousness. He said mind must evolve. When you graduate to freeplay of consciousness, it is divine.
HS :Please advise on the various steps you and your organisation have taken to spread the word of ShirdiSai Baba.
Guruji :Many temples have been built. Many magazines in many languages. Now, there is Shri Guru Bhagavat. I have written 20,000 lines in 5 volumes. Shri Guru Bhagavat is only about Guru and all its aspects recorded since time immemorial. Such a Book has never been written in the world. The 6th Volume is being completed. This voluminous Book is not limited to ShirdiSaiBaba, my Master, but all Masters. Everyone has their own Master or Guru. The Book gives a complete essence of the teachings of all the Masters put together. It has been accepted by everybody and is telecast on TV and read in several temples. It has been translated into 9 languages. I have also written in German and Spanish too. This is one aspect. Another, is setting up public schools, medical institutions for homeopathic and allopathic medicine, Medicals with mobile clinics and Medical Camps. A whole group of activities. Then music. Best singers of India have sung devotional songs and music albums were created by several music houses. Then, there is a programme for children upliftment in Temples by holding painting competitions to uplift their spirit and provide free education. During December 2004, we also provided disaster management services. Recently, we also conducted an Eye camp and donated 170 spectacles for the needy. We have around 140 Charitable NGOs signed up with us. It is a worldwide phenomenon. I never go to any TV channels in India for interviews. I am not there to advertise for Baba nor do I want any publicity for myself. I am just doing my job and feel humble by the experience.
HS :ShirdiSai Baba’s devotees now run into several millions and are spread across several continents. What guidance would you like to provide them?
Guruji :Only thing is they should know more about ShirdiSai Baba and his philosophy. Don’t go by broad understanding or for the pleasure of language. Language hides more than it reveals. Go to the essence. Imbibe small characteristics like handholding which Baba taught. Imbibe the Spirit and be egoless. Don’t indulge in excess just to show off. Don’t tell miracles about your Guru. Greatest wrong you can do to your Guru is apotheosise him with oriental hyperboles. Because, you become emotional and tell false things. I say don’t do that. Allow the Masters to advertise for themselves. Be simple.And more importantly do not compare Masters. Gurus never speak against anyone. When your belly is filled, why do you want to go for someone else’s.Devotion is ordinary so let us be ordinary. That is what ShirdiSai Baba taught.
HS : What are your future plans for Sai movement and SaiUtsav?
Guruji :We held SaiUtsav in 2010. The first one was held in Chicago, then Africa and then here in Sydney.Later on in London. We did not plan anything. We are just doing our work. In future we shall definitely have plans. We don’t want to put burden on people. Baba’s children should not suffer. I always tell people – look after your children first, your parents and then whatever time and money is left give for Baba.
Temple that is being built here in Sydney, is excellent and will come up as scheduled. I am happy about it. This is a larger temple than the existing one. It can accommodate a large gathering. It is the need of the time. Given a chance and God willing I will visit Sydney again.