From the dawn of history, the passing of a potentate of any description had invariably been followed by rumblings and feuds, often bloody.

Religious orders were no exception; there are many accounts of the fights to the finish among the contenders for the papal authority in centuries past. Human nature continues to be the same, regardless of time and place, and runs the same course to this day.

It is not, therefore, a matter of surprise that almost coinciding with the demise of Sathya Sai Baba, Puttaparthi and thanks to the media, the entire nation should be rife with rumours about a brewing tussle to get control of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust and growing differences among the members of the Trust on the way ahead.

Lending such reports a measure of verisimilitude is the fact that the Trust is undoubtedly a source of immense prestige, power and influence, having dominion over moveable and immoveable property worldwide valued at Rs.40,000 crore.

A member of the inner circle has gone public in an interview to a TV channel casting doubts on the line of treatment itself, with ugly allegations that the deterioration in the Baba's health was due to his being administered sedative drugs without proper food being given. Questions have been raised about the reliability of the financial accounts, despite the presence of Justice P.N.Bhagavati, former Chief Justice of India, Mr Indulal Shah, a well-known Chartered Accountant, and Mr S.V.Giri, a former Central Vigilance Commissioner, on the Trust.

Grand proclamation

The imputations have been vehemently denied, as is only to be expected. Whether the denial is for real or for the record, it is hard to tell just yet.

However, in their very first resolution passed by the six members of the Trust after the death of the Baba, they have vowed to “offer themselves in all humility and a sense of total unity” to ensure that the Trust founded by the Baba “continues to make the difficult achievable and the impossible a reality, exactly as it happened when he guided the Trust earlier”.

It is a grand proclamation, reminding one of the French proverb: “The impossible we do at once, miracles take a little longer”. It is quite in keeping with the solemnity of the occasion and the onerous nature of the responsibility cast on the Trust members. Living up to it is what will turn out to be the litmus test of their unwavering commitment to Sathya Sai Baba's teachings and their unswerving loyalty to his legacy.

They should realise that any slipping up on their part from the lofty standards of conduct expected of them at this fateful juncture will not only expose them to the charge of being false to the Baba's precepts but also devastate the millions of his devotees round the world who put their faith unquestioningly in the immutability of the values he expounded for well over half a century.

The tasks before the Trust members are daunting, but not unachievable, provided they display the requisite resolve and dedication. For instance, they should:

Adhere, in word and deed, to the path of total unity and solidarity, and the principle that Sai Baba had been propagating life-long: Love all, Serve all.

Have a complete and accurate inventory of the assets and liabilities prepared and place it in the public domain.

Maintain, as before, the world-class character of the institutions established by him, without letting sloth and shoddiness creep into them.

Make each project a centre of excellence under an independent Governing Board, comprising top professionals in the field.

Have a roadmap drawn up by the best minds willing to take up the task for future expansion of the activities of the Trust.

The void left by Sathya Sai Baba can, to an extent, be filled by adding, and imparting a greater momentum, to the vast array of projects touching the lives of the people as per his vision.