Swami replied: Today is Guru purnima, which has become famous only due to Shri Shiridi Saibaba. Thus, today is the fittest day for such topic. Swamiji (Swarupananda Saraswati) has made such comments without sharp and deep analysis. His comments are contradicting not only himself but also his original preacher, the Aadi Shankara. He himself is a follower of the path called Smaarta, which is a mixture of different religious cultures within Hinduism. Let us consider two famous paths. One path is the famous Shaivism and the other path is the famous Vaishnavism. Both these paths are quite different and contradicting each other not only in the philosophies but also in the external cultures. In the first path, a horizontal mark is put and the in the second path, a vertical mark is put on the forehead. The contradiction is so pungent that if you see the history, there were even mutual killings. The goals of both the paths are also different and in any path, the goal of that path is considered as the master of the goal of the other path. The devotee of the first path says that Lord Shiva is the ultimate and Lord Vishnu, the goal of the second path is a servant of Lord Shiva. The devotees of the other path are also of the same vigor with vice-versa policy. Smaarta is the third path which has emerged to compromise first and second paths. Aadi Shankara and the present Swamiji belong to this third path only. The mark on the forehead of Swamiji is horizontal representing the first path and any Shankaracharya ends his message with the name of Narayana, the God of the second path.
This Smaarta path finds not only the unity in the ultimate goals by saying that Shiva and Vishnu are one and the same God with different external forms but also finds unity in the cultures of these two paths since both these paths are essentially the same effort aiming at the same goal. A follower of Smaarta worships Shiva and Vishnu equally in the corresponding festivals. The unity in the cultures of the two paths is because of the same effort to achieve the grace of the same God. When Swamiji is following such Smaarta path, it is ridiculous that Swamiji is criticizing Saibaba, who is following the cultures of two different paths called Hinduism and Islam. Just like the same God exists in Shiva and Vishnu having different external cultures, the same God existing in Shiva and Vishnu exists in Allah with a different culture. Aadi Shankara is the founder of the Smaarta path, which tries to bring unity and harmony in the goals and in the paths also. When the goal is same and the effort of achieving the same goal is also same in different paths, there cannot be difference in the paths also. The different paths to achieve the same city (goal) on the earth may not be one and the same, but the paths in spirituality are one and the same because here the path means only the effort and not a particular direction on the earth. The difference between the horizontal and vertical marks on the forehead is completely meaningless and negligible since Shiva and Vishnu are one and the same God and also the corresponding paths are also one and the same since both the paths are an effort only.
Aadi Shankara tried throughout His life to bring unity in the goals and also in the paths within Hinduism. Hinduism is a mini world representing the big universe. The various sub-religions in Hinduism represent the various religions in the universe. Thus, the various religions in the universe are also sub-religions in the universal religion in which one God is the goal and the different religions are also one and the same since every religion is only a sincere effort made to achieve the grace of the one ultimate goal. The external differences like language, form, dress habits, food habits etc., become negligible in view of the inner essence, which is the ultimate single God and also the same effort. We say that God is unimaginable and Advaita philosophy says that God is awareness. This difference is not at all standing in the way in the present context because whether God is unimaginable or the awareness, God is not touched by the external cultural differences or differences in the forms or differences in names or languages etc. Aadi Shankara has brought the unity in the various sub-religions of Hinduism based on the concept that language or name (naama) and form (rupa) are non-existent (mithya) and the inner God (Bramhan) is one and the same, who is beyond all the names and forms.
Swami Vivekananda tried to appeal all the citizens of the world to bring unity in the religions of the world. Shri Datta Swami (present Swami) applied powerful logic to bring such unity since every human being gets convinced by the logic, which is the activity of the ultimate faculty called intelligence (Buddhi yoga) existing in the human body. This powerful logic is: Swamiji belongs to Hinduism. India is the place of Hinduism. The God of Hinduism (Bramhan) created this entire universe and hence, all the foreign countries apart from India existing on the earth must have been created by the same Bramhan. Very rich spiritual knowledge was showered in India by various Divine incarnations for the benefit of Hindus in India. But, this rich spiritual knowledge was not extended to foreign countries immediately as soon as it was given to India. India was discovered by foreign countries in 17th century only. Till 17th century, several human generations have passed away in the foreign countries without any touch with such precious spiritual knowledge. All the human beings are the children of the same God (Bramhan). Why God showed such irrational partiality to India only till 17th century? God should have created all the human beings on the earth with one language as their mother tongue like Sanskrit. God should have connected all the countries of the world in the beginning of the creation itself so that the rich spiritual knowledge showered in Sanskrit in India should have been extended to all the countries in the world immediately so that there is no trace of partiality on the side of the universal Father or God. The only answer for this can be that God came in all the foreign countries from the beginning of the creation in various forms and delivered the same spiritual knowledge in different languages in different levels suitable to the grasping level of the receivers. This only answer proves that there is only one God in all the Divine incarnations and there is only one religion, which is the effort to attain the grace of one God. If this is not accepted, Swamiji should give the reply to avoid the irrational partiality of the universal God (Bramhan).
If Swamiji says that Saibaba was a non-vegetarian, Shri Rama was also a non-vegetarian. On this basis, Swamiji cannot say that the devotees worshipping Saibaba should not worship Shri Rama. The food habits belong to the external culture. God follows the line of external culture of a particular sect of people so that He can become friendly to them and slowly introduce the spiritual knowledge to them to bring them out of the sin of violence in the non-vegetarian path. A person standing outside wishing to bring out the drowning person in mud pond can drag him out by jumping into the same mud pond. Mud will stick to his body also. A running bull can be controlled by you after some steps only in which you have to also run along with the bull. Hence, God in human form has to follow the path of ignorance for sometime to become friendly with ignorant people before bringing them out of the ignorance. Thus, the non-vegetarian habit of Jesus can be also viewed as in the case of Shri Rama. However, the remark on Shri Saibaba that He was a non-vegetarian is not correct. He only supplied the non-vegetarian food to the non-vegetarians and slowly preached about the non-violence to stop the habit of non-vegetarian food. The remark that Saibaba killed a goat is also wrong. He ordered a bramhin to kill the goat to test the faith of that devotee in Him. Then, the devotee became ready to kill the goat. He stopped the devotee telling that He Himself will kill the goat. In fact, the goat died immediately without killing from anybody. This shows that God in Saibaba was speaking all this denoting that the death of any living being is on the will of the God only.
The remark that Saibaba tried to bring the Muslim culture is also totally wrong. Saibaba was a bramhin born in Hinduism. He always worshipped Hindu Gods and encouraged the worship of Hindu devotees. When the rain was falling, He sat on the lower step facing the rain because the statue of Hanuman was on the higher step. Devotees asked Him to sit on the higher step to avoid the rain. But, He replied that Hanuman is the master and He is the servant and the servant should not sit along with the master in the same level. When a Muslim got child on His blessing, the Muslim came and thanked Saibaba. He asked the Muslim to go and distribute sweets in the temple of Hanuman saying that once Hanuman won in the fight with Allah. This shows His superior devotion on Hindu gods. He showed the holes on His ears indicating that the thread marriage was performed to Him since He was a bramhin of Hinduism. Just one year before His last day (Dussehra), He came very furious and naked shouting that people should examine Him to confirm the Sunti of Islam in His body to prove whether He was Hindu or Muslim. All these incidents show that He was basically Hindu, but, followed certain cultural habits of Islam only to bring unity between Hinduism and Islam. In His next incarnation as Shri Satya Saibaba, He tried to bring the unity between Hinduism and Christianity. The dress habits of both these incarnations indicate the two different efforts.
The remark that Saibaba has no tradition of preachers (Guru parampara) is also meaningless. He was the disciple of Shri Venkusa, who was disciple of Lord Venkateswara. The same tradition can be seen in the sect of Shankaracharyas also. Swami Chandrasekhara was a disciple of Aadi Shankara, who was disciple of Lord Shiva. Saibaba keept a brick along with Him, which was given by Shri Venkusa as a gift of His grace.
The remark that Saibaba was not mentioned in the 22 incarnations that appear in this age of Kali is also meaningless. Aadi Shankara is considered to be the incarnation of God mentioned even in the Veda. The Veda says that the God will come with shaved head (vyupta keshaya cha). Aadi Shankara is not mentioned in those 22 incarnations as mentioned in the Bhagavatam. The Veda is more superior authority than the Bhagavatam (shrutireva gariyasi). The Gita says that God will incarnate whenever there is a necessity (yadaa yadaa hi). The number cannot be a controlling factor of God. Such number is not mentioned in the Veda. Will Shri Swamiji say that Aadi Shankara is also not a human incarnation of God just like Saibaba based on the number 22?
The remark that the devotees of Saibaba should not take bath in Ganga River shows the extensively solidified ignorance of Swamiji. The nature of any river is to contain the water, which is a chemical compound of Hydrogen and Oxygen in 2:1 ratio. Along with the water, several pollutants and minerals are associated. As far as the water is concerned, there is no difference between any two rivers. At present, the pollutants representing the bad qualities of ignorance are highest in number in the river Ganga. This really represents the polluted mind of Swamiji also. Hence, the meaning of his warning to the devotees of Saibaba indicates that they should not dip in ignorance. However, now, there is a proposal to purify the water of Ganga River just like My present message to clean the remarks of Swamiji. There are other rivers born in Himalayas and end in the ocean. When other rivers are exempted from restriction to bath, why not the Ganga river also? In the Mahimnah Stotram, which is considered to be the best of all prayers (Mahimno naapara stutih), it is said that just like all rivers travelling in straight or curved paths reach the same ocean finally, all the religions with different straight or curved cultures reach the same final goal, the same one God (payasaamarnava iva).