LIES & VIDEO TAPE
MY SAI HISTORY
In SMORGASBORD 6, I wrote an article entitled, "A Power Greater Than Ourselves". Among other things, the article lamented the apparent lack of authentic spiritual masters in the world today. "I have yet to meet or hear of anyone alive today," I wrote, "who embodies the kind of perfection I believe is our birthright. And while there is certainly no shortage of people claiming to be perfect, those who proclaim spiritual mastership the loudest, often turn out to be the least developed and most lost. And this includes many of the eastern world's most celebrated 'masters' who, along with whatever genuine inner strengths and powers they tapped into, frequently demonstrate glaring moral defects and/or an inability to function gracefully in the real world."
While many readers wrote back saying that they, too, had grown disillusioned over the apparent lack of spiritual masters in the world today, one reader asked a question that has been nagging me for decades: "What about Sai Baba?"
I first encountered Sai Baba over twenty years ago when a friend showed me a book of his. After reading that Sai Baba considered himself the second coming of Christ, I promptly dismissed both him and his claims of spiritual mastership. Eventually, I came across a psychic reading done by Ray Stanford (one of a handful of psychics that I believe was genuinely gifted), in which Sai Baba was described as "an avatar of mind unspiritualized." This particular reading, which was published in 1976 in the Journal of the ASSOCIATION FOR THE UNDERSTANDING OF MAN, further accused Sai Baba of sexual indiscretions and said that he had physically beat people who did not do his will. According to the Stanford source, "There is a direct contradiction in the life of the individual involved, between what he claims of himself and what he does in practice. This is exemplified in the sexual life, in the intellectual life, and in the emotional reactions of the individual called Baba. Also is it exemplified in the external form of those attitudes mentioned -- such as the physical beatings which that one has done to individuals who did not do his will."
The Stanford source also added this pointed reminder,"Realize that He who is the true incarnation of Love gives evidence of Himself by love. Do not deceive yourself by rationalization into believing that the giving of trinkets is the evidence of love, for love given purely need not conceal itself behind mere trinkets of gold, stone, and tinsel."
While I viewed Sai Baba as one more wayward guru, an increasing number of friends continued to sing him praises. Some of these friends actually visited him in India. Their first-person impression of Sai Baba was that he was, indeed, the high-powered spiritual master he claimed to be. Others, who spent years in close association with Sai Baba, swore that they personally witnessed many "miracles" that could not be explained by ordinary means. In addition, Sai Baba is well-known in India, and often visited by Indian government officials and world leaders -- in part because of his supposed powers, and in part because of his reported good works, which, among other things, includes building hospitals and helping poor villages.
So is Sai Baba a genuine master, or another charlatan?
To get to the bottom of this, I contacted officials connected with THE COMMITTEE FOR THE SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATION OF CLAIMS OF THE PARANORMAL (CSICOP), based in the United States, India and London. One of these gentlemen, G.R.R. Babu, the Executive Director of INTERNATIONAL HUMANIST & ETHICAL UNION in London, faxed me an article he wrote that itemized many disturbing events associated with Sai Baba, including faked materializations, murders, corrupt government officials, money laundering, and other scandals. Since CSIOP and their affiliate organizations are staunch humanists, they have a vested interest to discredit all claims of supernatural and/or divine interventions in the affairs of humanity. Babu's report cannot, therefore, be viewed as an objective overview of Sai Baba. In addition, Babu's article has a sarcastic edge to it that compromises normal journalistic standards. It does, however, detail events that should cause any seeking person to seriously question Sai Baba, as well his claims of mastership. With permission, I have included a copy of Babu's report on Sai Baba in this NHNE Special Report.
I have also been in touch with Jed Geyerhahn, a past devotee of Sai Baba. With his permission, I have included a letter that describes his relationship with Sai Baba. Previously published on THE NEURAL SURFER (http://www.mtsac.edu/~dlane/saiessay.html), Geyerhahn's letter supports and elaborates on the accusations presented in Babu's eye-opening overview.
While Sai Baba may not live up to his "perfect master" billing, it is worth noting that many of the people who have been drawn to Sai Baba are sincere spiritual seekers. As David Lane, the creator of THE NEURAL SURFER points out in picking Sai Baba as one of his top ten "Scum Bag Guru's" (http://www.mtsac.edu/~dlane/gurumay.html), "I hesitated putting this Gumby blessing Avatar on my list for over a year because his followers can be (at times) so downright sweet."
Being a sincere, even a "sweet" spiritual seeker is, of course, no guarantee we won't be duped. Indeed, some of the most sincere, sweet, and discerning spiritual seekers I know were reeled in by Sai Baba -- or his devotees. But as increasing numbers of spiritual seekers mature, and our global network of ears and eyes expands, I believe it is going to be increasingly difficult for the Sai Baba's of the world to work their magic on those of us that really want to know the truth...
By G.R.R. BABU
THE SAI AVATAR
When a luminescent ball of light entered Easwaramma while she was bathing, little did she or Pedda Venkappa Raju, her illiterate husband, realize that the Lord had chosen her surrogate womb for His next parthenocarpic incarnation. Official literature enlightens us that the Lord's coming was anticipated long ago by Jesus and Mohammed. For those who cannot find the relevant passages in their version of the Bible or Koran, a more contemporary declaration was made by the Lord Himself. In 1918 during His earlier incarnation as the Sai Baba of Shirdi, He had revealed that 8 years after leaving the Shirdi body, He would be reborn in Puttaparthi village of Easwaramma, "as the moon grows in the sky," and a male child was born on 23 November, 1926. To mark the momentous significance of the event, musical instruments in the house played by themselves at the time of the birth: the air, and a cobra, lord of reptiles, wailed in attendance to protect the Lord. It is fair to assume that just as with the birth of the Buddha, elephants trumpeted in joy, peacocks danced and the gods rejoiced.
Despite His omniscience, Satyanorayana Raju -- for that was his given name -- went to school where the playful display of his miraculous powers was soon recognized by all. Friends came to love him for his magically created gifts and teachers feared his just wrath: one of them would not come unstuck from his chair, unless he begged for forgiveness and expressed remorse at ill treating the children! In 1940, after tortuous treatment by doctors for suspected mental illness, at the age of 15, Satyanarayana Raju revealed His avatarhood to the world and identified Himself as Satya Sai Baba. As He was to reveal later to his disciples, "I, the Lord, incarnated at Puttaparthi. Buddha, Christ, Mohammed and others were not avatars. They had some divine power... My power is infinite; My Truth is inexplicable, even unfathomable. My task is the regeneration of humanity by Truth and Love." We are reassured that when the present incarnation would be over at age 96, in the year 2022, He would be reborn as Prema Sai in Mandya district of Kamataka.
MAN OF MIRACLES
Satya Sai Baba would often say "miracles are my visiting cards": a phrase which is also the title of a largely hearsay, cock-and-bull account of Satya Sai Baba's paranormal powers, by Icelandic parapsychologist Errlelndur Haraldsson (more about Haraldsson at the end of this article). Despite His insistence that His religious message was more important than the "tinsel" miracles He performed, the stupendous "powers" of Satya Sai Baba soon came to be know all over the world. Based on the "most reliable information", but mistaking God for guru, the READER'S DIGEST book Strange Stories, Amazing Facts - II gives us this credulous account: "Sai Baba is an Indian guru blessed with extraordinary powers. He can produce gold rings and coins out of thin air, change rock into candy, and flowers into jewels. He heals the sick with the aid of vibhuti (sacred wood ash), which seems to appear from nowhere as he waves his hand. Perhaps the most astonishing display of Sai Baba's powers took place in 1953, when the blue and stiff body of Radhakrishna which was cold, shrunken and starting to decompose, was brought back to life by Baba. In the 50 years that Sai Baba has been demonstrating his apparently miraculous powers, no one has found any evidence of trickery."
In addition to these reports, Dr. John Hislop, American industrialist and management consultant, and also Chairman of the CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF AMERICAN SAI ORGANIZATION tells us earnestly how in 1971 Satya Sai Baba resurrected Walter Cowan, declared dead due to cardiac failure. The late Dr. Suri Bhagavantam, director of the prestigious INDIAN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE, Bangalore, Scientific advisor to the government of India and also Baba's interpreter narrated how once Satya Sai Baba created out of nowhere a copy of the Bhagavadgita (alas even the Lord is not immune to orthographic error, as a skeptic pointed out!) In a contemporary enactment of New Testament miracles, He once converted water into petrol by dipping His finger into the water. He relieves devotees' ailments by taking them onto Himself, conducts surgeries with psychic powers and plucks out-of-season mango fruit from tamarind trees. It is believed that Baba was responsible for repelling the Chinese army "invading India like locusts". Reports abound of His bilocation (having appeared in two places at the same time); He Himself claimed that He never sleeps.
In what can only be described as divine disapproval of capitalist claims on intellectual property rights, by the mere waving of His hand, Satya Sai Baba also "creates" and distributes trade mark protected Parker pens and Omega watches. The vibhuti He creates has been variously used by devotees in treating terminal cancer and for curing pimples. The irreverent skeptic is admonished: "Do not try to delve into Me; Baba is beyond the keenest intellect, the sharpest brain... How can the limited know the depth of the unlimited? How can the ant delve into the mountain? It is beyond you to know how or why I create things... the objects that I create, I create them by My Will, the same way I created the universe. Develop faith and veneration and derive joy through Prema (love). That is the utmost you can do, do that and benefit."
THE SATYA SAI COMMUNITY
Sai Baba's exhortation to believe has found many receptive ears. Today His followers number at least two million, with growing numbers being recorded in the spiritually-impoverished West. Australian journalist and theosophist Howard Murphet and London photographer David Baily came to scoff, but stayed to pray. "Noted" American psychologist Dr. Samuel Sandweiss was convinced when he was told, "I am everything, everywhere, omniscient, omnipotent, and so whatever I will, instantly happens." Dr. Hislop asks in tragically foolish wonder, "Baba has the inconceivably immense task of the Universe. How can He afford to spend time talking to people like us?" Baba reassures him: "Baba with his limitless bodies, is everywhere doing the tasks... that is Baba's omnipresence. God is not subject to any limitation." Dr. Hislop is delighted at this explanation.
The credit for polishing Baba's halting English and capturing his evident lyrical derangement goes to official biographer, the erudite Kasturi: "I am all that is, all that can be known, all that seeks fulfillment. Sunrise and Sunset keep repeating, for I have willed [them] to; the stars that lend sublime charm to the nocturnal sky hide their faces from human eyes during the day, in obedience to my desire; the wind blows with no respite in order to keep animate beings alive, since that is My wish; streams and rivulets giggle, laugh or roar along beds during their pilgrimages to the sea, for it pleases Me; mankind itself is molded into a million faces to present the variety I relish." This has obviously enlightened the person from whom I borrowed some Satya Sai Baba literature: he had written down in pencil, in fervent devotion: "I, befitting and fortunate slave, carry out every command of the master without any question of why and what... I am slave of the master who has released me from my ignorance, whatever my master does is of the greatest benefit to all concerned."
The confederacy of irrationality, gullibility and superstition establishes a kinship which transcends cultural and national barriers. Among the miracle mongering Satya Sai followers are top Indian political leaders and judges, Presidents and Prime Ministers of Sri Lanka, Maldives, Mauritius, several former Greek Prime Ministers, the Spanish Royal family, members of the International diplomatic corps, advocates, engineers, doctors and common folk. Perhaps because it is they who need the most spiritual advice, it is very common to see the pacific and teetotaler Satya Sai Baba in the company of power brokers, associates of international arms traders and liquor barons. Notable among Baba's international inner circle are Guilio Andreotti, former Prime Minister of Italy, currently on trial for murder of a journalist, former Italian Prime Minister Bettino Craxi, sentenced to 5 1/2 years of imprisonment for corruption and Princess Poihlavi, sister of the former Shah of Iran, caught in Switzerland in 1962 for carrying heroin.
BEGONE SATYA SAI!
Into such a community of God-fearing people came the late Srilankan Dr. Abraham T. Kovoor, Asian president of the WORLD UNION OF FREE THINKERS and Dr. H. Narasimhaiah, India's best known rationalist and former vice chancellor of the BANGALORE UNIVERSITY, who together led the most animated attack on Satya Sai Baba and his world view.
Dr. Kovoor narrates in his book Begone Godmen! that in 1973, during a newspaper debate on Satya Sai Baba, Dr. Bhagavantam (Baba's interpreter from Telugu to English) wrote of the "awe-inspiring, wonderful experience of the Seiko watch manufacturer", who, when on a visit to Puttaparth was presented by Sai Baba with the very watch that the manufacturer had, pending tests, kept in a safe in Japan. With this materialization, all his doubts about the divine powers of Satya Sai Baba melted away. "He fell prostrate at Sai Baba's feet and worshipped him. Since then he is an ardent devotee of the Bhagavon." Since Dr. Sbhagavantam was not forth coming with details, a suspicious Dr. Kovoor made inquiries with Shoji Hattori, President of SEIKO WATCH COMPANY in Tokyo to verify the facts. Mr. Hattori wrote back "...I am in no way able to further your knowledge as regards the man mentioned in your letter, Mr. Sai Baba. Neither I nor any members of my staff have ever made the acquaintance of this individual. I am sure that these reports are completely unfounded." Bhagavantam remained silent when confronted with the response.
The national scandal that broke out when Dr. Kovoor released his correspondence to the press, describing Satya Sai Baba as a "sleight-of-hand" trickster and exposing one of India's brilliant scientists as a Satya Sai agent, was only surpassed by nuclear scientist, Dr. H. Narosimhaiah's crusade as Vice-Chancellor of BANGALORE UNIVERSITY, when in 1976 he appointed a 12 member official committee "to investigate rationally and scientifically miracles and any other verifiable superstitions." Dr. Narasimhaiah's committee exposed Sai Krishna, a 7 year old child-protege of Satya Sai Baba, by pulling out the packet of vibhuti hidden in the underclothes of Sai Krishna. Several sundry godmen immediately confessed that they did not have any miraculous powers. It was Satya Sai Baba's turn now and the committee requested Him to allow them an investigation. When they visited Him, a terrified Satya Sai Baba locked Himself up in His Whitefield residence, close to Bangalore. All He could do was spew helpless vitriol at the Narasimhaiah Committee.
AVATAR OF THE NIGHT
As if these resounding rationalist responses and public humiliations were not enough, in 1976 another bomb shell was thrown at Him. Tal Brooke, born again Christian who spent 14 months with Satya Sai Baba, wrote the book Avatar of the Night, (all three thousand copies of the book released in India were purchased and destroyed) describing Satya Sai Baba's homosexual lust (how can a good Christian accept that?) and assaults on young boys. It is quite revealing of the submission and intelligence level of the Sai devotee that despite Sai Baba's enticement: "What is mine is yours, money, food, anything. Just ask!", Tal Brooke said to himself "Lust contradicts Baba's nature; therefore it does not exist in him. Blind faith... Baba is innocent". It took Tal Brooke three such consummate encounters and numerous similar accounts of pedophilia from friends to realize that Satya Sai Baba's nudging pelvis, pawing hands and intimate behaviour were not part of any soul-cleansing encounter.
With news of these events and later incidents, the seeds of doubt were sown in many minds. How is it that Sai Baba's own brother-in-law died of rabies? Why did Baba, Himself a psychic surgeon, have to be hospitalized for ruptured appendicitis and broken leg? And preaching simplicity, why does He travel in Mercedes cars and require heavy protection? Why did Sai Baba have to wave his hand in circles, before producing anything? Was it because of prestidigitation, as emphatically asserted by the renowned Indian stage magician P.C. Sarcar Jr. and skeptic E. Premanand? Does His occasional transvestism and derision for women really illustrate the Male-Female principle of the universe? Why is it that some doctors have gone on record stating that post mortems of bodies of several women coming from Puttapathl showed signs of torture? Is it true that some of the foreign nationals visiting Puttaparthl were disappearing after entire properties were bequeathed to the Satya Sai Organization? And is it true that Proshanti Nilayam (Satya Sai Baba's "abode of peace" at Puttaparthl) was the campus of criminals? Is it not surprising that the police, in a routine security combing of Prashanti Nilayam before the visit of the Home Minister of India, discover, apart from cyanide and land mines, the deadly plastic-explosive RDX used by Hindu-Muslim terrorists in Bombay? And why did Satya Sai Baba, whose religion officially also embraces the values of Islam, welcome the anti-Muslim Hindu fundamentalist Vishwa Hindu Parishad's campaign?
"LET THERE BE A NECKLACE..."
But the most spectacular fodder for doubt for the believer was the unique birthday gift given to Satya Sai Baba by the DECCAN CHRONICLE of 23 November, 1992. This largely circulated, Hyderabad-based English daily published what the rationalist could only dream of. Splashed on the front page were pictures from a video recording of Satya Sai Baba's "creation" of a gold necklace, in the presence of the Prime Minister of India, Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao. The video tape shows unambiguously Satya Sai Baba being passed clandestinely a necklace by his personal assistant Radhakrishna Menon, which later Satya Sai Baba "materializes" after a wave of his hand. Filmed by a state television crew covering the Prime Minister, the cassette was suppressed. However, a copy was leaked and several copies of the cassette were distributed in India and abroad. A big meeting was organized by us to felicitate the courageous journalist Venu Kodimela and for a long time, watching the cassette became a necessary ritual of all our public meetings. Some were shown on local and district cable television too -- at great bodily risk as some rationalists came to know. However, the publicity remarkably affected the number of devotees visiting Puttaparthi, though some still insist that "miracles" are performed to attract people to the good work being done by Baba and that Baba never claimed any special powers!
CRIME AND KARMA:
Much worse was in store when on 6 June, 1993, six inmates of Prashanti Nilayam were murdered in Satya Sai Baba's bedroom. It is alleged that two were killed by the assailants and the police claimed to have shot dead -- in self defence -- four of the assailants, who were armed only with knives. Realizing the danger to his person, Baba Himself ran for His life, jumped out of an open window and started off a secret alarm, whose existence even the inner core did not know of. Interestingly, all the people killed were part of the inner circle of Sai Baba, among whom Radha Krishna Menon, the personal assistant who was caught on video passing the necklace clandestinely to Baba. Baba Himself spoke of the murders in His Gurupoornima lecture and dealt with the question of whether the deaths of his near and dear were unavoidable. "Birth and death go together. One should realize that death is a natural phenomenon and avoid worrying about it... You must note that Swami's life is in His own hands and not in those of anyone else. If I will it, I can live as long as I please. Because He is the almighty, God cannot behave in any arbitrary manner. Not realizing this truth, men who are involved in worldly ways ask questions as to why in certain situations, God did not use his limitless powers to avert certain untoward events..."
The police report was twice changed, from attempt to murder Baba to internal squabbles in Prashanti Nilayam. Mysteriously, Shankar Dayal Sharma, the President of the Indian Republic deviated from protocol and propriety and said that the murders were "all about a girl". When asked why Satya Sai Baba, the head of the Institution in whose bedroom the murders took place, was not interrogated, Home Minister Chavan who visited Sai Baba twice immediately after the incident insisted that Sai Baba was not present at the time of murder, further compromising the investigation. Surprisingly, Prashanti Nilayam authorities themselves filed no police complaint.
B. Premanand, magician, former devotee of Baba and today the most important Indian Skeptic -- Sai Baba baiter alive, however refused to accept the interference into the investigation and hauled the government to court, accusing the police of having willfully destroyed evidence. Amusingly, in the post, Premanand and K.N. Balagopal, rationalist advocate in the Supreme Court of India, had dragged Satya Sai Baba to court for violation of the Gold Control Act which imposed restrictions on the "manufacture, possession, sale and transfer of gold", since Satya Sai Baba "materialized" gold ornaments to be given to devotees. While rejecting the petition, the High Court Judge Justice Y.V. Anjaneyulu, a member of the Satya Sai inner circle, allowed the argument that an article materialized by spiritual powers cannot be said to have been manufactured, prepared or processed. Perhaps for the first time in jurisprudence spiritual powers were recognized as valid defence in law!
In the present murder case, however, Premanand petitioned to the High Court in a public interest petition that the case be transferred to an impartial investigative agency so that justice might be done. In the High Court, while dismissing the plea, Premanand was admonished by Chief Justice Mishra, who even threatened to punish him the next time he "misused" the Court with such complaints, with the intention of defaming Satya Sai Baba. In January, the SUPREME COURT OF INDIA expunged all the remarks made by the High Court Judge, boasting rationalist morale. Also, chastened by the SUPREME COURT OF INDIA, in the first week of May the HIGH COURT OF ANDHRA PRADESH STATE admitted a contempt of Court petition by Premanand against the government and the police. Premanand and Satya Sai Baba have been brought to the front pages of news papers again. The judicial mood in India is remarkably different since the past few months, what with the INDIAN SUPREME COURT taking up an "operation clean hands", arresting several corrupt politicians and also forcing the Indian Prime Minister Narasimha Rao to arrest his favorite Godman and arms dealer-power broker Chandraswami in the first week of May. Rationalists keep their fingers crossed...
THE CASE OF THE MISSING KIDNEY
In the Marathi language weekly LOK PRABHA, of 19 January, 1996, was published a most shocking account concerning the SATYA SAI INSTITUTE OF HIGHER MEDICAL SCIENCES, set up at an expense of 2000 million Indian rupees and where all medical treatment is done free. Triambak Karvande, a peasant from Latur district of Maharastra was to have received his son Balaji's kidney in a transplant operation. A week after the operation, a dying Triambak was informed that the transplant was a failure and father and son were sent back home. Back in their town, two CT scans and a sonography done by Dr. Kastur of the MAHARASTRA INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL SCIENCES AND RESEARCH CENTRE revealed that Triambak was never operated for a kidney transplant, the scans also confirmed that Balaji's kidney was indeed taken out of his body. So where did Balaji's kidney go? Is the hospital -- with a hitherto very good reputation -- in fact a part of the international organ theft business? Initial complaints made by the victim went unheeded , but the MAHARASTRA SUPERSTITION ERADICATION COMMITTEE, after its own independent investigation, is working on helping the Karvande family get legal aid. The Truth might be out soon.
SAI EMPIRE & PHILANTHROPY
B. Premanand, also advisor on miracle exposure to the RATIONALIST ASSOCIATION OF INDIA and editor of INDIAN SKEPTIC, estimates the Sai Empire to be worth 60000 million rupees (1714 million USD). Puttaparthi now has an airport and 3000 small apartments are available for rentals to accommodate the cash-rich Americans, Scandinavians, Belgians, Germans, Dutch, Malaysians and Japanese who come. Prashanti Nilayam itself has adequate infrastructure to feed 10,000 people at one time. To have an idea of the scale of operations, consider the fact that in 1982, the target of the SATYA SAI ORGANIZATION was adoption of 6000 villages, to "fulfill all the physical and spiritual needs of the community". There are 3000 Satya Sai centres in India and 400 centres abroad in 85 countries and they publicize and market the fact that more than 100, 000 children are taught free in centres run by SRI SATYA SAI BAL VIKAS TRUST and do propaganda about their social service activities. UNION BANK OF INDIA, owned by the state, does not charge any fee for money transfer to Satya Sai Baba and the money keeps flowing.
When Satya Sai Baba celebrated his 70th birthday in November, '95, the President and the Prime Minister of India were in attendance and applauded the SATYA SAI WATER SCHEME meant to provide drinking water to every village of the dry district of Ananthapur. It is a matter of detail that five months after the inauguration, water is yet to flow from village taps, as tanks have crashed and pipes burst because of inferior construction material used due to corruption. Importantly, this is an instance of how when governments default in their duties, religious organizations occupy that space. On this single birthday, a little known foundation from America and another from Japan donated 1600 million Indian rupees (45 million US Dollars) for the Satya Sai charity work. Premanand is investigating whether this is in fact a money laundering operation.
A look into the world view of high-school dropout Satya Sai Baba should help clarify why His style of philanthropy and education must be combated: "At the centre (of the world), everything is liquid. Everything is melted. No temperature. Everything is liquid, like water. Gold, iron, silver all are liquid. Next there is solid. Then trees. Then human beings and animals. At the very centre is the divine. It is the support of everything. First is liquid, chemistry. Then solid, physics. Then trees, Botany. Then man, the pinnacle of life. But at the centre, supporting all, is the divine. Without the divine, where is chemistry, physics, botany? Like this will be the teaching of all courses at the university." A few years ago, the SATYA SAI INSTITUTE OF HIGHER LEARNING has been declared a deemed University by Madhuri Shah, devotee and Chairperson of the UNIVERSITY GRANTS COMMISSION, on par with the rest of India's Centres of Higher Learning!
Alas, news of philanthropy in poor countries drowns out rational discourse. Sadly, Indians are still racists, and when pale face comes and approves, there is little else to doubt. State Radio & Television do propaganda for him. Journalists are either gullible or are on payroll. Judges are at times prone to decide based on personal beliefs: the situation is worsened by the political patronage received (Sai Baba's influence increased manifold ever since superstitious Narasimha Rao and his cabinet retire and President Sankar Dayal Sharma started visiting Him even in their official capacity). And in India, criminal and political identities overlap. Scientists, advocates and intellectuals mislead the others and set examples by their own mistaken devotion for this modern Tartuffe. Many well meaning people -- and there are many such among the Satya Sai Baba followers and admirers -- fail to realize that philanthropy is merely an investment in the Satya Sai Baba cult and empire and a way of evading tax. Thanks to the intellectuals and the common man's willful suspension of disbelief and critical faculties, the Satya Sai octopus has been able to spread its tentacles far and wide with the lure of miracles.
BALA SAI BABA, THE REAL AVATAR!
Disillusioned by the bedroom murders, exposes in newspapers, news of Premanand's court battles, power struggles in the Sai empire and reports like that of the disappearing kidney and the failed water project, and disappointed by birth day extravaganzas, many disciples are turning away from Satya Sai Baba. Their destination now is the Palghat (Kerala) born BALA SAI BABA (the child Sai Baba), who at 35 years of age is a bit overgrown for his name. He claims to be the real Sai avatar, set up an ashram in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh and resembles Satya Sai Baba trait for trait. This till-recently-unemployed youth also hints that Satya Sai Baba is an impostor! He dresses like Satya Sai Baba, performs the same tricks as Satya Sai Baba does and has been very successful in attracting a large number of devotees. He also recruits devotees from Europe and else where and seems to have hit at the right marketing mix.
Dr. Narasimhaiah said to me in Bangalore once that our work is like that of Sisyphus. It does not matter even if the SUPREME COURT puts Satya Sai Baba on trial. Our work has to continue: after working to expose Bala Sai Baba in the year 2022 we might still be busy with Prema Sai...
HOW NOT TO STUDY PARANORMAL PHENOMENON LESSONS
Associate Professor of Psychology at UNIVERSITY OF ICELAND, parapsychologist Dr. Erlendur Haraldsson came to India several times (twice along with Karlis Osis, co-author of their book on near-death experiences At the Hour of Death) to investigate Satya Sai Baba's paranormal powers. The result of his efforts over ten years is the book Miracles are My Visiting Cards, An Investigative Report on the Psychic Phenomena associated with Sathya Sai Baba, published in 1987.
Dr. Haraldsson's repeated requests for controlled experiments were firmly rejected by Satya Sai Baba and his team was asked "not to pester" Baba with more requests. Charmed by the charisma of Baba and more predisposed to believe than to investigate, Dr. Haraldsson settles for his own inefficient and subjective-personal-informal observation as well as hearsay accounts from devotees. Yet, in their article, The Appearance and Disappearance of Objects in the Presence of Sri Sathya Sai Baba in the JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR PSYCHICAL RESEARCH Vol. 71, January, 1977, Haraldsson and Karlis Osis express their gratitude to Sri Satya Sai Baba "for his kind co-operation in their investigation"!
Dr. Haraldsson's book does not indicate that he is aware of Satya Sai Baba's father's brother being a tantrik-conjuror. He could perhaps have been Satya Sai's teacher. Despite assuring us that he "tried his very best" to trace all critical rumours about Sai Baba, in the chapter titled "Critics" only Dr. H. Narasimhaiah is mentioned. No mention of Dr. Kovoor's whirlwind tours of Andhra, his challenges to Satya Sai Baba, his largely attended public meetings (30,000 people for instance) to the accompaniment of stupendous publicity! Contributors to the national debates in the then prestigious ILLUSTRATED WEEKLY of India, and the tabloids BLITZ and CURRENT WEEKLY are ignored. Interestingly, Dr. Haraldsson is unaware even of the Seiko watch controversy. Later, he says that he was unwilling to take it up because of the various versions of it! One has not heard of an "investigative" researcher shy away on such dubious grounds.
Nor does Haraldsson mention Satya Sai Baba specialist B. Premanand, whose first book in English on Baba, Lure of Miracles, was published in 1976. Dr. Haraldsson's excuse on 6 April, 1988 to Dale Bayerstein, editor of the excellent 1994 book, Sai Baba's Miracles: An Overview is that no one in India mentioned Premanand to him. Dr. Haraldsson writes in his letter of 21 October, 1988 to Dale Bayerstein that Dr. H. Narasimhaiah did not think it worthwhile for him to visit Premanand. When informed of this, Dr. Narasimhaiah issued a written clarification that he respected Premanand's work and could never have said what Haraldsson reported. This is not the only complaint of misquoting about Haraldsson. Two chapters of the book Miracles are My Visiting Cards are devoted to M. Krishna and Varadu (in no way critics, looking at the contents of the book), former personal assistants to Satya Sai Baba in the earlier days; Krishna converted to Christianity later. Now, Mr. Krishna's son, a good friend of mine, insists that I report his late father's intense displeasure with the way in which Dr. Haraldsson blocked out some of the things told to him and in the manner in which some statements were transformed to suit Dr. Haraldsson's purposes. In an interview with me and Premanand, P.V.N. Nair, editor of DECCAN CHRONICLE, whom Haraldsson accused of misquoting him as saying that he was "disappointed with Satya Sai Baba", regretted that out of good faith he had not tape recorded the interview. Premanand has shown how different versions and sequences of the same event (production of ring for Karlis Osis) have been written by Haraldsson. When Premanand asked for clarification and explanation in an undoubtedly long questionnaire, the very prolific Dr. Haraldsson suddenly has no time to write!
Haraldsson is aware that propaganda of the claimed resurrection from death of Walter Cowan and Radhakrishna had the support of Satya Sai Baba. He is also aware that Dr. Fanibunda, himself a medical doctor, testified to the resurrection of Cowan. Haraldsson's own conclusion is that the stories of resurrections are false. Yet, to our scientist-investigator the role of Satya Sai Baba is not suspect. Nor that of Dr. Fanibunda, whose testimony he approvingly uses in another case. It also does not occur to this impartial investigator, forever solicitous of being scientific and objective that since he himself has found some stories to be false, he has necessarily to work under controlled conditions. This is how professional credentials become suspect. Some of the stories Haraldsson reports are not even amenable to verification by us. For example, he mentions how a burglar prowling in the house of a Satya Sai Baba devotee was scared away by Satya Sai's bilocation. He does not mention the name of the devotee, nor the name of the police station which later caught the burglar.
In the April, 1995 issue of the JOURNAL OF THE SOCIETY FOR PSYCHICAL RESEARCH, Haraldsson and Richard Wiseman write an article Reactions To and An Assessment of a Videotape on Satya Sai Baba, where they make pathetic attempts to show that from the DECCAN CHRONICLE-Doordarshan tape no evidence of fraud by Satya Sai Baba can be deduced. Haraldsson and co-author are invited to watch our copy of the tape, or watch one of the episodes of the British program, The Guru Busters, a television program on Rationalist work in India, which has quite clear visuals. They should also read the analysis of a Satya Sai Baba video tape by Dale Bayerstein, Leon Mandrake's et al (a team of professional magicians) where among others they detect Satya Sai Baba "thumb palming" a necklace, before "materialisation" (published in Bayerstein's book). Perhaps, Haraldsson is also unaware of Premanand's video cassette of Satya Sai Baba producing a gold necklace at a wedding in Balakrishna Eradi's family (a former judge from Kerala).
While waiting to watch this, the authors should find time to read the account of the Dutch author Piel Vroon who wrote an expanded version of his article Sinterklass in India (Santa Claus in India), published in De Volkskrant of 5 December, 1992. Piet Vroon was at Puttaparthi to film Baba at "work", and he and his partner detected Baba remove rings, necklaces and watches from behind flower vases and from pillows of his chair. They also detected Sai Baba holding vibhuti balls in one hand, transferring them to the other hand, pulverising them and distributing them. Vibhuti is also hidden in the mouth and removed while wiping the face, which Baba does very often. Piel Vroon's conclusion is unambiguous: "we just think that he's a trickster and a cheat."
It is easy to see these things, especially when one's work, and perhaps livelihood, does not depend on funding from parapsychology foundations!
First published May, 1997, on THE NEURAL SURFER:
My Sai history is what would really be compelling about my word against Sai Baba. I have received 3 rings, many interviews and lots of personal attention. I was a very close friend of Hal Honig, an aquaintence to Sam Sandweiss and others. These names may not be familiar to you, but they are prominant names in Sai circles. My aunt is Elizabeth Elwell, a well known Bhajan teacher, who lived in the Puttaparti Ash Ram for 9 years, and is still active in the organization in New Hampshire. I have rings, a pictures of me with baba, and could get more witness accounts of sleight of hand. As I said, I just need to get this stuff together, and I am very excited for this oppurtunity...
My first witness account of sleight of hand was in Brindaven. I saw Baba come out of the personal interview room and sit down. As he was sitting there, I noticed a large gold watch under his small hand, which he was unsuccesfully trying to hide. A moment later he made the familiar circular motion with his hand as if he were materialising the object, and then gave a student the watch. On another occasion, I saw Sai Baba reach between the cushions of hischair for something, and then moments later he made the circular motion and showed everyone a small container filled with vibhuti, the gray ash. I then noticed that behind the cushion in his chair there was something shiny, and he paid careful attention to correct the position of the cushion to hide the object. Another time I saw him take a worn bracelet from a man, then with his hand cupped blew on it three times at the same time moving his hand up and down. On the final movement, he tossed the chain into the side of his chair so it slid down between the inside of the chairs large arm and his leg. He then discreetly took took something from his other hand and made the circular motion and gave the man a new bracelet. What is really funny about that situation is that Sai Baba forgot to take the old bracelet from his chair when he left, so when he got up, there it lay in plain view for everyone in the room. A student I was with, and who was very devoted to Baba, picked it up and looked at it, confirming that it was the old bracelet. When Baba returned and noticed his mistake, he scolded this student, who was sitting right at the foot of Baba's chair and could not miss the bracelet. Then Baba sat and in a flash picked up the bracelet and very discreetly tossed it into the outside upper corner of the arm of the chair. There were no visible pockets there, but there is a very large seem, and the arms of the chair are huge enough to store lots of things.
It is also well known that prominant figures in the Indian government make fairly frequent stops to visit with Sai Baba, including the president of India. (I was in India when the president came to visit Sai Baba. When this happens there is huge comotion and Indians crowd darshan to see the president, not Sai Baba). The students also know that Sai is a hoax, that he does not materialise a thing. However, they are getting a very inexpensive education, so they keep there mouths shut. The student I talked with most, would not tell me other things that he knew, but I am sure that it had to do with the students who spent the night with Baba. I know this because this is where he would no longer answer my questions. Everyone knows that Sai Baba has students spend the night with him. They stay up to "serve" him at night. It's a very well kept secret as to how they serve Sai Baba, but little will come out because no student wants to be kicked out of Sai Baba's school. As stated, they are receiving a very good educations there, very inexpensively. I say very inexpensively because many believe it to be free, but this is not the case. Students pay for room and board, which to many is rather expensive. The education part is free, but there are bills.
This brings me to my very questionable experiences with Sai Baba. On my second trip to Sai Baba I had four interviews. Each time I saw Baba, his hand would gradually make more prominant connections to my groin. The first interview was a slight swipe, the second a definite touch and the third time he grabbed me and with a very stern face looked me directly in the eye and said "you are very weak!" Needless to say, he scared and embarassed me. I was guilt ridden to have sexual passion, though I was a healthy 16 year old boy, a testosterone machine. I was not going to talk to anyone about the experience. In the final interview he asked me to take my pants down. I was totally confused, so he took them down for me. He then made vibhutti and rubbed it on my genitals. On my third trip, he did the same thing, but rubbed oil on my genitals. Fortunately, I was never taken advantage of any worse, but I was humiliated when I realised his true intentions, and I felt I had really lost an innocence that I would have cherished keeping.
When I finally did talk about what happened to me, the first two reactions were to never speak of it with others because the whole thing would be taken out of context and misconstrued. Then I talked to others my own age and they told me of similiar experiences. I even heard terrible stories of children who would meet with Sai Baba twice a week to play "sex games" and the like. Oral sex and masturbation were common in these meetings. Many of my own friends told me about attempts by Sai Baba to touch them, but they wouldn't let him. I need to really put this together better, but this is a sketch of what I have. Any comments would be helpful, and you can do what you like with any of this material. You can also post my email address for anyone who like to contact me (JGeyerhahn@aol.com). I would be very greatful to talk with any X-devotees who have had similiar experieces with Sai Baba. It might encourage me to get this all together quicker, and they might help me put something larger together.
Sai Baba [official site]:
NHNE: Special Report Update: Sai Baba: Divine Downfall
The Findings - NPI News:
Sathya Sai baba Deceptions Exposed
Sathya Sai Baba in Word and Action
The Neural Surfer Website:
of Mind's "Sathya Sai Organization" Resources:
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