Atanu Dey On India's Development

Open Letter to Buddhadeb Bhattacharya

Dear Chief Minister of West Bengal Mr. Buddhadev Bhattacharya:

I have come to learn that there is some possibility of renaming Park Street as Mother Teresa street and erecting her statue.

I think this is a very bad idea. The image of Kolkata has been forever tarnished as a result of Mother Teresa’s activities. For greater details on why this is so, I would urge you to read what some neutral observers have to say about the lady. I have a few articles on the subject and I recommend a book by a son of Kolkata — Dr Aroup Chatterjee’s “Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict” which I have reviewed here.

We in India are totally brainwashed to accept uncritically anything that is Western and white. Mother Teresa, motivated by missionary zeal, used the poverty of the poor of Kolkata to enrich her mission. While I do not deny that India has abject poverty, she used that poverty and showcased it around the world not to solve the problem but to evoke pity from affluent people so that they would contribute to the welfare of her mission, not for the welfare of the people she so ruthlessly used.

I urge you to carefully review the evidence and reconsider.

Sincerely,
Atanu Dey

I have followed the Mother Teresa phenomenon with a sick feeling in my stomach because of a number of reasons. The primary reason for me is that she epitomizes what is the fundamental flaw that led to what we see in India around us today. The flaw is in not thinking through things, of busying ourselves with the symptoms of an ailment rather than eradicating the cause.

Mother Teresa ceaselessly championed for uncontrolled breeding. She did her best to derail any serious attempt at addressing one of the primary causes of poverty in the developing countries, namely, the growth of human populations way beyond that which can be sustained at a humane level. All she wanted was that there be sufficiently large number of abjectly poor in a place so she could gather brownie points to assure her place amongst the sainted. As she honestly put it, if there were no poor, there would not be any reason for hermission to exist. The poor, she held, were blessed because they suffer.

I feel that she should be called Teresa, the Merciless. Millions will be forced lead miserable lives because of what she has done and the institutions she supported (the Vatican, primarily) and the institutions she has created.

I expect hate mail as a result of this post. But I hope that the writer of hate mail at least read some of the articles which I have provided the links to above. My request is that you send me hate mail only after you have honestly read the articles.

  • http://www.prism.gatech.edu/~gte207x/ Niket

    For a change, no hate mail from me.

    Mother Teresa’s intentions were noble. But as Datta-Ray said: perhaps the poor didn’t want to die in peace, the wanted to live in dignity. Mother Teresa tried to give them the former, when they really wanted the latter.

    I think I have the same problem with the likes of Arundhati Roy and Medha Patkar too. In the long run, they are perhaps the worst enemy of the very people whose cause they champion. In fact I have a theory on “God of small things”… Ms. Roy wants things to be small so that she can be the god (tongue in cheek)

  • Sathyaraj

    I guess, all the so-called gods like sai baba, ravi shankar, etc etc are marketing their own popularity.

    What I dont understand is learned people like our prime minister have been attending functions organized by these so called human gods…

  • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

    Sathyaraj, good point. Check out http://are.berkeley.edu/~atanu/Writing/ravi_shankar.html for my thoughts on Sri Sri (twice!) Ravi Shankar.

    Cheers.

  • Anon

    I do not understand why you call Ravishankar a hoax. Let me be clear. He markets himself and his art of living . Thats true. But his sudarshana kriya (i have done it) is beneficial. that too cannot be disputed.

    Secondly, what does hinduism have to counter misssionaries and islam?. Will it be the leftist government?
    It is when more people develop an affection for it that it can hope to sustain.

    Atanu’s response: I don’t understand what made you think that I called Sri Sri Ravishankar a hoax. Get your position right before you start sprouting an argument.

  • http://yogajyoti.blogspot.com Jyoti Iyer

    Hi,

    Unfortunately in this country only activism of the most violent or saintly variety works, not just words. People admire activists, more so when they take on issues like poverty and such, only because the activists are doing something that is seemingly outside the scope of many ordinary people. But people do not question the methods adopted by these activists, just because it saves them a lot of trouble: the trouble of thinking and questioning.

    Mother Teresa is one such example. She found takers for her kind of activism because of her saintly exterior and was insulated against mass criticism because people at large did not make any effort to understand what she was really doing..After all in this country, god-like people are sacrosanct and it would be sacrilegous to question such people. Blind faith is very rampant and it is funny and sad that our people in these times still indulge in primitive rituals and thinking, including our leaders in high positions.

  • http://perspicuous.typepad.com/niranjani Raj Waghray

    My 2 Cents Atanu: And you already know that Sri Sri is my spiritual master.

    I don’t know on what basis do you link Sai Baba ( and I assume you are talking of Sathya SaiBaba out here) and Sri Sri with Mother Teressa?

    There are arm chair critics and then there are doers. In my view they fall under the later category. You need to visit and look at things yourself b4 sitting somewhere and passing judgements.

    a) Take some time out and visit Puttaparthy. It is one of the most cleanest town I have seen in India. Goto the village nearby and talk to the villagers on the impact of having a person like Sathya SaiBaba has had on them.

    b)How many people do you know who have done so much for the poor? Do you know or care about the plight these villagers had to undergo to get potable water? Check out the Sathya Sai Project on Drinking water that ensures potable drinking water to a perpetually drought hit Anantapur District.

    c) Take a look at the Sathya Sai Speciality hospital. It is one of the finest – both in Whitefield and Puttaparthy. Compare the treatment it offers to any other hospital in the world. and btw, everything is free including medicines, stay, food!

    d) Sri Sri has never claimed he is God. I have attended innumerable discourses by him. Never had I heard him say that he is God. His reply has always been, that If am God, then so are you. He has asked us to challenge our concept of God!

    e) I personally had a heart condition – Mitral-Valve prolapse – which has disappeared since I started practising Sudarshan Kriya. It is irrelevant whether it is a repacked form of breathing technique or not. What is important is that it reached me when I needed it most. Likwise I have seen many others whose health has shown improvement on regular practise of Kriya.

    f) The fundamental teachings of both Satya Sai Baba and Sri Sri RaviShankar is aimed towards love, peace and brotherhood. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to a whole lot of guys out there, but it does to a larger set of audience in the world.

    g)The last point is about Money. Every organization whether it is profit based or non-profit based needs money and funds to run their causes. And as long as they do it for just causes within the laws of the land, and the money goes back to social causes, it is not an issue for us to complaint about. And I don’t know since when Money has become a four letter word?

    Regards,
    Raj.

  • http://uspeed.blogspot.com sudeep

    Theres no point in throwing out the baby with the bath water. There were very specific allegations raised against the “Missionaries of Charity” trust, such as: parking of its funds in Swiss banks, hiding the true financial condition (they are extremely rich), hiding the true nature of their help (or apathy) for the Kolkata poor, hiding their account books from general public, misuse of funds generated implicitly for the poor of Kolakata and so on. There is a substantial body of work (Christopher Hitchens, Dr Aroup Chatterjee, and an accountant of the Missionaries of Charity who “defected” from the Church and went public with the details abt the trust practises) that exists highlighting these allegations, and providing documentary support for the above.

    Every body in their right minds can figure out that Sathya Sai has his little tricks – his “hath ki safai”, but at least his charitable trust has done work like the super speciality hospital in Puttaparthi, how many such hospitals were bult by the missionaries of charity ? (none, they do boast of 150 missions overseas though.) Similarly for Sri Sri, Sudarshak Kriya has helped a lot of people (it helped my mother reduce by 95% the incidence of severe and chronic migraine), yes he charged may be Rs 500 for teaching that, but so what ?

    As long as there are no malpractise or fraud allegations against Sri Sri, I think its jumping the gun to bunch their trusts with the Missionaries of Charity.

  • krishna

    - i think the including sai baba into this totally unknowledgeble of what he is doing.

    - the transformation he has cause in a lot of his devotees is great. ALL infrastructure change, economic growth etc etc is nowhere compared to a change in person heart. which can done only by such individuals. so that weighs too strong.

    - since some one aready mentioned the works of saibaba and transformation the villages are undergoing in ananthapur is phenomenal.

    - following the puttaparthi hospital model.several hospitals are springing up by motivated doctors. All because of the transformation brought out by him in their heart.

    -no one can do as such has this individual has done. now this guy(saibaba) he not even able to walk(79 years old and 2 big fractures in the hip and shoulder), but he makes it point to give dharshan and direction to all his devotees

    any body talking bout his selfishness should shut up.Frist learn about him. There is a great deal to learn from him as person. Leave alone god other stuff.

    even if you take a million births you can achieve what he has managed to do as a person.

  • http://xtan christopher stanley

    i knew of mother theresa.sri sri and baba.basically i am not inclined to any of them.but my sis who had been an alcohol addict
    left it due to sudarshana kriya.i tried too felt good for some time.been to puttapparthy to visit an uncle under treatment at the hospital.found the place/hospital/ashram and environment good.saw baba once.i think i love him somewhat.
    tricks i have not seen.i doubt the thousands who received gifts are fools/blinds/ignorant/illeterate and all critics many who did not even see him,including me in the past are the scientific ones.fine all upto u.i am not here to argue for him.he can save him better than anybody,if his devotees really believe him why spent ur time ?

  • Sunil Menon

    Dear Atanu,

    I couldn’t open you links but I feel there is no need to read them as I am not here to pass judgements about anything.

    I appreciate your freedom of expression. A few questions to you though. How would you feel if I passed judgement on your college or school of education saying they are the worst institutions of knowledge as evident by you and your wisdom? You will not like it certainly, as you would say what do I know about your school or college. You are right, I don’t know anything about them and hence I would not indulge in any such judgement. Similarly, as is quite evident from your letter, if you don’t know anything about Sri Sri (I wouldn’t include Sai Baba as I don’t know much about him), why do you have to pass judgements just to support your views about Mother Teresa? If you knew a lot about Mother Teresa then say that and leave it just like that, why do you want a support for your argument? Another thing can be deduced from your leaning for a support to your argument. As explained earlier, since your choice of support is more or less a very wild guess (you just hoped it would fall on all fours, alas, your intentions were caught), who would believe your arguments about Mother Teresa, which also could have come from a very sick and biased mind?

    To conclude I have only this to tell you. Instead of intellectual reading and listening try prayful reading and listening. You really need it. I am not joking or making fun of you. You are like my brother. And I want you to celebrate life rather than making passes and judgements. And which is a better place to learn what Iam talking about, than Basic and Advanced courses by Art of Living Foundation. Just like you asked in your letter to read your articles and then reply, I am inviting you to do the courses first and then realize for yourself.

    Thanks for your time……Sunil Menon

    Atanu’s response: Jeebus, yet another Sri Sri Ravishankar devotee seeing red. I have not said one unkind word about SSRS. Yet because I have not praised him to the high heavens and said that the sun shines out of his butt, I keep getting hate mail from his oh-so-polite followers of SSRS.

    For the last freakin’ time, let me state again for the benefit of the sainted followers of SSSSSSSSSSSSSSRS that I have not called SS(..)SSRS a crook or a charlatan. If you are mis-reading that in my pieces about him, look within — it could be that you faith is not strong enough and you are perhaps projecting your own doubts onto my words.

  • Sunil Menon

    Yes thats what you become once you do the AOL courses. Oh-so-polite.

    I know you will never like do the course out of ignorance, but when ever you do, you will realize the futility of engaging yourself in spreading ill rather than love. See good in what ever is happening and if you see something bad change it yourself personally. See if you can do something rather than getting a bunch of feedback from people. Other than writing that letter to the Chief Minister what have you done to solve the problem?….nothing, isn’t it?

    Again you went into the territory of judging people in your reply. At any given moment there are more than 6 billion judgements floating around, then another 6 billion, and it goes on…and on….And if we get bogged down in other’s judgement about us there won’t be any time to look into our Self. So just judge your Self and let go….

    Make your links better including the one in your first reply.

    Sunil

  • Srabbie

    I have thoroughly read what Mr. Atanu Dey really had to say. I think he cannot be said totally wrong. Everybody has different views on different subjects. Also I feel that people like sai baba or ravi shankar should not be compared to Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa was undoubtedly noble in her mission of helping the poor but she had a greater mission of spreading Christianity.

  • amar

    Atanu,

    Do you receive a lot of hate-mail for posts like these on M. Teresa, than when compared to ones on SSRS? Just curious!

  • Subhrajit Dutta

    Respected
    Mr. Chief Minister,

    Sub: See how I am faithful to you and your party…

    RAJKARMOCHARI
    Baro asohaye lagche aj, bujhibe ki keho
    dekhilam manusher chinno bichinno deho,
    amar kar-er taka diye kena guli,
    oder pete, buke, atke ache
    atke ache oder joni pathe
    ar atke ache oder deoa anno kana
    amader rakta-mangshe, oder deoa
    protein utasoo amar jiban saktir.
    Ora naki unnatir satru, ora desher
    satru, bolche raja, rajar sena ra,
    ki bhebeche ora nari ar sishu der
    samne rekhe amader bibeke debe nara?
    amio rajar karmochari, ki kare boli
    ora niriho niraporadh krishak sarbahara.
    Age hole boltam, karan takhon rajao bolto
    ‘oder haranor kichu nei, hater sikal chara’.
    kintu bhabi amar theke jara aktu anno,
    jara aktu beshi ‘budhdhijibi’ tarao to
    thik tader janno kandche na.
    Tahole ki ja hoyeche thik hoyeche
    jak santana dile,
    pronomi raja, rajbastrabeshi
    dekhbe abar pabe 235 er beshi..

  • Ajay Kukreti

    Dear Mr Atanu Dey, I was surfing the net for treatment for Mitral Vlave prolapse when I reached this page. Your comments that you are cured due to Sudarshan Kriya has got me interested. I have done the basic & advanced course, but do not practice it regularly. My wife is recently diagnosed with Mitral v/v malfunction. Can you throw morw light on your particular case & the benefits you got after practicing the Kriya. Please also inform me the sequence of the cycles (e.g. bhasrika followed by kriya etc. & no. of cycles) you wfollow.

    With warm regards
    Ajay Kukreti

  • Hashim K T

    Hi Atanu Day…
    The fascination towards breath therapy has disappeared when I realized that Sri Sri has no knowledge about other religion. When I read his book “Hinduism and Islam ; common threads” and the blunders he scribled in it, I was sure that his AOL programme will finally end up in leading its followers to Hinduism.

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FRAGRANCE-OF-LOVE Sidharth Pannu

    Out of all those people who read this article, many will disagree with one or more than one things written in it. I respect it and accept it. I have no intentions of challenging or hurting anyone’s spiritual/religious beliefs. I am just sharing my opinion through this article. Any offence caused to anyone who reads this article is purely unintentional.

    Over the last few years many people who do not believe in Sathya Sai Baba have asked me similar questions. I will try to answer all those questions (without judging them) one by one from my point of view through this article.

    I am not a vedic scholar. I am not a saint. I am not wise either. I am a very ordinary man. But from whatever little i have known and experienced about Baba, i will try to share it with you here.
    Shirdi Sai Baba has said to have done miracles. He is said to have many miracles of healing, being physically present in two places at the same time and fulfilling wishes of his devotees.

    Many people raise a question that if Sathya Sai Baba can do miracles then why doesn’t he remove all the poverty and hunger of this world? Well…. Why dont people raise the same question when it comes to Shirdi Sai Baba? If Shirdi Baba did so many miracles then why dint he just cure and remove every disease and poverty from this world? Why dint Jesus do it? Why dint Krishna do it? Why dint Guru Nanak do it?

    As per my understanding of Sathya Sai Baba’s missions and his teachings, he has directly and indirectly said this many times that……He or any other avatar of God doesnt come to this world to cure all the problems by doing miracles. They come to teach and spread the message of Love.
    Baba has not come to cure the problems of this world through his divine powers. He has come to teach us the forgotten lessons of peace, non-violence and Love. He has said this repeatedly that his biggest miracle is Love.

    He lays a lot of stress on doing selfless service for the poor and needy. His hospitals in Puttaparthi as well as Bangalore are comparable with no other medical institution on the entire planet. They have the latest medical equipments and best doctors of this world. And yet they dont ask the patients to pay anything. It is all done out of love.

    And how can anyone ignore the various Sathya Sai water projects in and around Tamil Nadu? Hundereds of villages did not even have drinking water before these water projects came up.

    Let us talk about his educational institutions. The children who study in his schools are given modern education but they are also taught morality and the values of the vedas. The students who graduate from his college shed tears of love when they have to leave that place and go back home. His schools dont charge the irritatingly high fee which most of the other schools do.

    As far as the sexual controversies are concerned……. I have been to puttaparthi for Baba’s darshan. I have met people there. I have met people in the other parts of the country who beleive in Baba. I have even met people who have had personal interviews with Baba. None of them has experienced even a single sexual molestation incident. And I am talking about people of all age groups, colour and background, both male and female.

    Baba has come to teach us human values and mind control. It is up to us to cultivate those values of love, non-violence and patience in our lives and create a better planet.

    Many magicians have claimed that they can duplicate Baba’s miracles. I agree that they can duplicate the miracles that Baba performs physically. How would they duplicate or explain the thousands of miracles that take place all over the world inside the homes of many Sathya Sai devotees.

    I have personally seen such miracles with my own eyes. I am an educated man. I am not superstitious. But i saw them with my own eyes. They took place in the homes of many people I personally know. I know those people very well. There is no way that they could have faked those miracles.

    A lot of people ask , ” If Sathya Sai Baba is God, why did he not stop the Tsunami? ” I want to ask those people…. If they believe in God….why dint God stop Tsunami? And if you are not asking “your God” this question then why are you asking Baba? Many people also ask “Why is Sathya Sai Baba sitting on a wheel chair? Why doesn’t he cure himself ?”

    My Answer: Why Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Ramana Maharishi did not cure their cancer?

    Secondly, Baba has been saying this from the very beginning of his mission,”My life is my message”.
    What does that have to do with his wheel chair? EVERYTHING. He is putting his own teachings to practice so that we may see and learn. He practically follows his own teachings to set an example before us. He is like a compassionate chemistry teacher who not only teaches theory but also takes his students to the chemistry lab and practically shows them how it is supposed to be done.

    Baba has been teaching us for almost 70 years now that we are not our bodies; that we are much more than our bodies; that our joy or sorrow does not depend on the condition of our bodies.
    Baba has performed so many healing miracles in person or at a distance all over the world. Who can keep such a man confined to a wheel chair against his will. So, he is willingly sitting in that wheel chair and not out of helplessness. He can cure himself in an instant but he continues to live with a broken hip bone. Why? Because he wants to practically show it to all his devotees that even though his body is old, sick and weak, he is still happy and blissful. He is detached from his body. His bliss does not depend on the strength or weakness of his body.

    And he wants us to follow the same example. He wants us to realize that we are immortal and divine; that the body is just a temporary house for the soul; that we can choose to be happy and blissful even if our bodies become crippled and old.

    Lastly i would like to point out that trying to understand Baba logically is like trying to capture the sky in a small container. No matter how hard we try, no matter how long we try, no matter whichever way we try, we can never fully comprehend or understand any saint or avatar including Baba. The spiritual realm is beyond the human intellect and logic.

    If i have written anything offensive in this mail then i am sorry. i dint intend to hurt anyone’s sentiments. Please pardon the foolish spelling mistakes that i may have made while writing this.

    I live in Chennai and can be contacted at sid_temple@yahoo.com or 09840393607

    P.S No one in my family believes in Baba. And i too was a Sathya Sai hater many years ago. But now i am in love with him. Isnt this a miracle in itself?

  • T P Udayasankar

    Sai Sidharth Pannu has been transformed by the Poorna Avathar which is revealed by his posting of 23rd May 2007. Swami shall achieve what He intended and we should not miss any moment in this Sai age and follow His Divine teachings. Sai Ram.

  • aruna chatterjee

    To, The CM. The country is fed up of your colleagues, Karat, Dasgupta & Raja. They shoot their mouths off, hold up the progress of the country & have NO credibility among the majority of the voters.Intellect with blinkers is fuzzy. We have treaties with many countries, we have yet to sell our soul to any one. We have a nuclear deal with the US we are not marrying the country. Please tell Mr. Dasgupta that there is a Life- even after a divorce & the Left will lose more than it gains by it. The alimony it has to pay will be huge. Thank you & good luck.