Bijaklah dalam menilai, memang, membuat kesimpulan atas suatu pandangan itu tak mudah, banyak pihak mengkaitkan bahkan menjadikan Sang Avatar Sri Satya Sai Baba-sebagai salah satu dari 30 Dajjal asal Khurasan sebelum datangnya Al Masiihuddajjal. Benarkah penilaian itu? Bukankah beliau adalah Penyantun untuk orang lemah? BACA KITAABUL FITAN dengan secara manqul, musnad, mutashil. Insya Allah anda akan mendapat tuntunan Yang Maha Kuasa sehingga tak terburu-buru membuat kesimpulan : menyalahkan atau membenarkan bahwa ia salah satu Dajjal. Bukankah begitu Swami?
A Guru Accused
Sai Baba, from Avatar to Homo-paedophile
Alexandra H.M. Nagel
The Netherlands, August 2001
For at least a year, especially on the Internet, the Indian guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba has been accused of major misdeeds. Most accusations are not new to many devotees. However, stories that in the past were rejected as unimportant gossip are by many no longer denied. Quite a few devotees have become ex-devotees in the last 15 months or so. Nevertheless, many others keep their faith in their Swami, regardless of how difficult that may be at times.
In order to gain a broader, meaningful understanding of Sai Baba and the accusations, it is necessary that people outside the (ex-)devotee community, join the investigation(s). Currently, the perspectives of devotees and former devotees differ too much to come to an agreement on how to deal with the matter.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba, a famous Indian guru, is known by many through his appearance – five feet in height, a voluminous hair-do – and his materialisations. Out of thin air he seems to create vibuthi, (‘sacred ash’), rings, watches, necklaces. “Miracles are my visiting cards,” is his often quoted explanation for these phenomena.
Sai Baba resides most of the time in his ashram, Prasanthi Nilayam (‘Abode of Peace’), 150 km northeast of Bangalore, initially built between 1948-1950 and since greatly extended. Over the years, the surrounding village has grown into a flourishing town, with an airstrip, museum, music academy, canteens and buildings for the many devotees who make their pilgrimage to Baba to receive his darshan, (‘seeing a great person and receive his or her blessing’). A second ashram is Brindavan in Whitefield, 20 km north-west of Bangalore. A third temporary residence is in Kodaikanal, at an altitude of 2,100 meters, 120 km north-east of Madurai.
It is said that his followers number up to 50 million, or even more, and are spread over 2,650 centres and groups in 165 countries (Figure 1), even though he has travelled abroad only once, in 1968, to Uganda. According to his principal biographer, Narayan Kasturi, Sai Baba began his mission in 1940 at the age of 14.
One of the issues known to be of importance to Sai Baba is education. Approximately 75 boys’ & girls’ schools in India and abroad carrying his name have been founded, and there are Sai Baba colleges and universities run by the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. Healthcare is another issue promoted in Sai Baba’s name. With the support of donations two Super Specialty Hospitals have been built and give free medical treatment. Fresh water projects are a third type of large initiatives taken by his organisation to help those in need.
His teachings can be summarised in a few of words, epitomising five human values: truth, right conduct, peace, love and non-violence. These words, or the icons of five major religions on earth, are imprinted on the leaves of the lotus symbol of the organisation (Figure 2). Sai Baba says he has not incarnated to start a new religion, but is here for all religions, and he has come to guide mankind out of the Kali Yuga era, in which humanity is living at this time. This period is characterised by decay, betrayal, and selfishness. He, Sai Baba, claims to be a living example of unselfish love and service, whose purpose is to help mankind to find its way to a new golden era where our consciousness is lifted to a higher level, to a closer connection with God and selflessness. Love is the fuel for our spiritual evolution. In other words, Sai Baba is a guru for everyone who is drawn to him, independent of his or her religion. According to many of his devotees, he is the embodiment of the long expected second Messiah; he is the new Maitreya, Buddha, or Krishna. According to himself he is a divine incarnation, God in human form, an avatar.
Seen from the perspective of all his good deeds, and the inspiration people receive through him, it is of no surprise that over the years hundreds of books have been written and many videos made about Sai Baba. Also several academic studies have surveyed diverse aspects of the holy man and his devotees. The miraculous ‘materialisations’, for instance, have been thoroughly investigated by Erlendur Haraldsson; social research has been carried out in England (Donald Taylor), India (Lawrence Babb), Malaysia (Raymond Lee) and Trinidad (Morton Klass); an in-depth study on Sai Baba’s claim to be an incarnation of Shiva has been conducted by Deborah Swallow. All of these show intriguing, yet sometimes puzzling insights into the amazing godman Sri Sathya Sai Baba and the people inspired by him. It leads George Chryssides in Exploring New Religions to remark:
It is perhaps surprising that Sai Baba attracts so little attention from anti-cult organisations, since the movement possesses a considerable number of characteristics that are associated with the notion of ‘cult’ in its sociological senses. (…) Sai Baba’s relative immunity from criticism has no doubt been due in part to the fact that (…) Sai Baba has never been involved in any sexual or financial scandal, but has lived true to his teachings. The only major controversy generated by the movement relates to the miracles themselves. Sai Baba has been criticised by the Indian Rationalist Association as one of India’s many spurious miracle workers, preying on the superstition of an inadequately educated Indian population.
However, the purpose of this paper is to present an alternative picture because there is more than only the ‘major controversy relating to the miracles’ Chryssides has observed. Disturbing data has been surfacing for at least 30 years, but mainly last year, the year 2000, when especially due to the Internet, troubling stories and experiences have been revealed. And even this might just be the tip of the iceberg.
The information collected for this paper is the outcome of research from a variety of sources: books and articles, frequent surfing on the Internet from June 2000 till February 2001, and communications with several former devotees, some of whom are very active in their efforts to bring this unknown side of Sai Baba to light. The Internet developments are covered in another paper.
In an order of increasing seriousness a series of different accusations levelled at Sathya Sai Baba are presented. This is followed by a description of how devotees and ex-devotees look upon and deal with these issues. There must still be many devotees all over the world ignorant of some of the serious accusations, but those who do know them and still retain their faith in the guru have a different perspective on them compared to the views held by relatively recent ex-devotees.
Sai Baba Accused
The critical comments and accusations concerning Sai Baba have come from two angles: the sceptic-rationalists – as Chryssides noticed – and the (ex-)devotees. The first focus primarily on Sai Baba’s paranormal, psychic and supernatural claims, the second on a variety of issues.
· unkept promises
After his retirement of the foreign service in foreign European countries, in 1970 Mr N.C. Gunpuley donated seven acres of land to Sathya Sai Baba. He desired to serve the sick and poor in his own country, and Sai Baba had promised to take over the charitable dispensary and the property to build a 30-bed hospital on the property. For five years, Mr Gunpuley experienced a long series of disappointments and frustration. Sai Baba “neither kept his promises, nor showed any concern for the sick and the poor”, and at one point he even wanted to build huts for the foreign devotees instead.
A similar reported case is that of the family Premanand. In September 1969, Dr P.B. Menon of the Sri Sathya Sai Trust visited the 100 acres Shri Shaila Estate in Kerala. This belonged to the family Premanand, who intended to donate the property to an organisation that would use it for starting colleges, homes for the handicapped, or institutions for scientific research. Mr Menon agreed to study the offer of taking over the land for starting a college, but the final decision was in the hands of Sathya Sai Baba. Over the months developments led to trust that the matter would settle, but on January 24th 1970 it emerged that Sai Baba had cancelled all Kerala programmes, implying that the Sai Trust would not accept the gift. When Premanand senior went to Sai Baba a week later, Sai Baba said to him that he knew nothing about the Shri Shaila Estate. This was strange since Sai Baba had seen three albums of photographs, and had invited the family to visit him to settle the donation officially. In spite of the fact that in March 1975 90 acres were handed over to the Trust and eventually a Sathya Sai college got established on the property, ever since the cancellation of the promise in 1970, the two brothers Basava and Dayanand Premanand have been extremely critical regarding Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s (mis-)deeds.
· unproven paranormal claims
The late Dr Abraham T. Kovoor from India was a rationalist by conviction and, it is said, in 1972 at the age of 74 awarded a doctor degree for research done in the field of parapsychology by the private Minnesota Institute of Philosophy. In the mid-70s, he was instrumental in getting the Narasimhaiah Committee to attempt to investigate Sai Baba’s miracles under controlled conditions. Neither the Committee nor Kovoor himself were ever given permission to do such research, which led them to issuing public questions like ‘Why does Sai Baba never create a large object like a pumpkin?’
Although Erlendur Haraldsson, unlike Kovoor and the Committee, was welcomed in the ashram and had interviews with Sai Baba, he had no real opportunities for controlled observations, and after years of research could neither prove nor disprove with certainty Sai Baba’s supernatural claims. Dale Beyerstein, a sceptic philosopher from Canada, undertook a different approach. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, he collected texts referring to Sai Baba’s claims of being omnipotent and omniscient, of having resurrected two persons from death, performing paranormal healings, materialising small objects, and fulfilling ancient prophecies. Beyerstein’s conclusion: The stories of a person promoting such claims need extraordinary proof, a standard that simply has not been met.
· sleight of hand
In 1992, the late professor of Psychology, Piet Vroon, of the Netherlands, was invited to join a television crew that had permission to film in the ashram for a documentary on Sathya Sai Baba. Vroon observed (from a distance, with the aid of binoculars) Sai Baba’s ‘materialisations’ of vibuthi to be acts of sleight of hand, and he wrote fiercely about it in some of his weekly columns in a Dutch national newspaper.
Two years later, a video appeared containing a fragment of an Indian TV news item allegedly showing how Sai Baba had not ‘created’ a golden necklace, but performed a trick. This charge was believed by many, although Professor Haraldsson was not convinced. Nowadays on the Internet a few videos of ‘Sai materialisations’ are available; allowing people to judge whether at least in some of these particular cases sleight of hand has been involved. In addition, there are some persons claiming to be able to perform the same miracles, but, more disturbingly, there are confessions of former Sai Baba students explaining for instance how some of them, acting on instructions, prepare Sai Baba’s chair in the interview room by ‘planting’ jewellery and trinkets.
On June 6th, 1993 four former Sai students, E.K. Suresh Kumar (28), N. Jagannathan, Suresh Prabhu (37?) and K. Sairam (22), went armed with knives to Sai Baba’s chambers. On their way they stabbed four people, two of them to death: N. Radhakrisha (45), Baba’s personal assistant and driver, Sai Kumar Mahajan, an MBA student (or lecturer?) who slept in a room adjacent to Baba’s bedroom. In one scenario it is said that the four intended to kill Sai Baba, in another they were on their way to inform him they had received reliable information concerning an attempt to kidnap him. When the four forced their way into Sai Baba’s bedroom, and didn’t find Sai Baba there – he had pushed the button of the alarm and gone into the garage – they locked themselves in. According to the Sai Organisation officials the former students were shot by the police after interrogation; according to Hari Sampath, who at the time was a volunteer member of the intelligence and security section of the ashram, they were stabbed to death by a crowd of about 60 people, and then shot by the police. Photographs showing bodies in pools of blood were in many regional newspapers. Until today it is still unclear what the real motive of the four intruders was; the case was never officially investigated.
There are other stories dealing with murder in the ashram. However, they are even less clear cut and even more mystifying than the 1993 ones.
· being a homosexual
Sexuality in Sai Baba’s teachings comes across as a force that takes away a devotee’s focus on his/her spiritual growth, and ought to be mainly used for pro-creation. Males and females are rigidly separated in the ashram life, and only married couples are allowed to share rooms. For a long time – the last few years this has changed – Sai Baba invited only male devotees for a ‘private interview’, a meeting in which a person is alone with Sai Baba. He never called in a woman alone, because, as he once explained, even though he is “above and beyond the Human Attributes”, he has to regulate “social behaviour” and be “above the slightest tinge of suspicion, or of small talk”. Rumours, and more than rumours have come out nonetheless. Not from women, but from men.
The first person to write about this was the American Tal Brooke, who stayed with Sai Baba for a year and a half during 1970-1971. Sai Baba had hugged him in private interviews, and, with his hand, tried to get Brooke aroused. Around 1980 there was uproar in Malaysia:
(…) some members have begun a quiet campaign to discredit Sai Baba after they had conducted personal investigations of his life-style and behaviour.13 This campaign to expose Sai Baba comprises mainly taped revelations by several Malaysian Indian students who claimed that they had been sexually abused by Sai Baba. (…)
Note 13 [referred to in this excerpt]. Two of my informants told me that they had journeyed to India and had taped interviews with several Malaysian Indians (males) who claimed that they had been seduced by Sai Baba while studying at one of the many colleges established by him.
In January 1992, the sexual issue began to be discussed among devotees in Holland, when the story of Baba’s hugging and genital fondling Keith Ord (UK) during his private interviews in the Spring of 1990, came out in a national weekly magazine. A group of American male devotees, under leadership of Roger Delano Hinkins, the founder of the Church of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, was invited in for interview. “The five-minute private ceremony involved “anointing the genitalia with ‘bachelor oil’”.
Last year, more of this kind of stories have surfaced. Based on information found on the Internet and in the literature, a list of at least twenty cases can be compiled (see Table 1) in which male devotees had to drop their pants, and either their genitals were ‘massaged’ (not always with sexual arousal taking place), or Sai Baba hugged and fondled them, and even forced them to accept or give oral gratification. The people investigating these confessions, among them David and Faye Bailey, authors of The Findings, a document that compiled a variety of accusations mainly taken from the Internet, were forced to conclude that this practice of Sai Baba’s must have been taking place for at least 30 years and been happening to male devotees from many countries.
· being a paedophile
Similar encounters which (young) men have had with Sai Baba have also been experienced with minors. Undeniable testimonies come from a boy aged fifteen, and from ‘Sam Young’, at the time sixteen (see also Table 1). Even more alarming is a letter Basava Premanand received in December 1998, written by one of the students at a Sai Baba school in Puttaparthi. The student explained in detail how some teachers make sure that the good-looking, young boys (age seven and up), are in front when coming for darshan. If a boy pleases Sai Baba, ‘Babaji’ offers him an invitation.
This is the story of life in [the] Sri Sathya Sai Hostel for Boys. (…) The Principal of the Primary school Mrs. Munni Kaul knows it only too well that her survival there purely depends on sending in the front good-looking, usually fair and sometimes girlish boys, because as is well known Baba Ji has a weakness for such boys. These are the innocent boys you see, who are forced to come in the front, on some pretext or the other, holding cards, trays etc. This in itself is nothing serious, but what follow[s] later is.
These young, good-looking boys who are generally not even in their teens are for some time closely watched by Babaji. Later some day these small boys are called for personal interview. What happens to these tiny tots in the interview room is known to many but all keep mum because their very survival depends on it. These small boys are taken one by one in the inner interview room behind the curtain by Babaji. For some time he fondles them and then suddenly he opens their zippers and pulls down their pants and underpants. Now Babaji massages and fondles the sex organs of the small boys, who know nothing and take it as some form of spirituality. Babaji generally hugs and kisses the boys while they are stark naked, then sends them back. This is in itself a traumatic and sickening experience for a boy of about 5th of 6th standard. Then there are certain advantages too, these boys are labelled as FORM BOYS and are kept in the forefront by the Headmistress, who actually is well aware of the fate of these young ones. These boys generally get chains, rings and watches from Babaji as special blessings or in a worldly sense, the ‘payment’ for ‘selling’ their bodies without their knowledge.
The apparent abuse does not stop at the primary school. The author of the letter stated that it continues with college boys. He even mentioned a teacher who, abused himself by Baba, had become sexually interested in boys as well and got away with his activities. Premanand – following up on this letter, out of the several on the subject he had received – sent a registered letter on December 9th, 1998, to the Vice Chancellor of the Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning asking for permission to investigate the truth concerning the content of the letter. No answer followed, and Premanand decided to publish the letter in the Indian Skeptic of August 1999. Having read it in July 2000, ex-devotee David Bailey knew it to be true. He remembered the teacher referred to, and had always wondered what could take place with those little ones who entered Sai Baba’s quarters and looked sad and timid when they emerged.
· being the devil
On her spiritual quest, Barbara Szandorowska, a Polish Canadian, travelled worldwide and arrived in Puttaparthi to become a Sai Baba devotee. One day, in November 1981, a feeling of great inertia came over her (no drugs were involved). When the sensation in her body eventually ended, she felt different, even though her image in the mirror looked the same as always. Then:
Suddenly an image of Sai Baba’s face loomed in front of me. (…) It was dark and fearsome and glowed like an ember.
‘Ha, ha, ha,’ he laughed hideously, ‘You’ve surrendered to the devil!’
The voice had come from within and Szandorowska understood that Sai Baba was allied with evil forces. He had revealed himself to her as the devil. She converted to Christianity and, months later, back in Canada, after an assistant of evangelist Michael Green, had laid hands on her and said a short prayer, a weight was lifted from her shoulders. She felt free at last: Christ has authority over demons and Sai Baba was finally gone.
In a similar manner Tal Brooke, who was the first to write about Sai Baba’s homosexual deeds, experienced Sai Baba as an evil entity and turned to Christianity.
Assessing the Accusations
The first type of accusations listed above is a type well known among devotees. There are many more examples of Baba’s unkept promises, like interviews or pieces of jewellery that would be given, or trips he would make to the United States. Devotees didn’t get the interview, and were given a bracelet instead of a watch, or weren’t given anything at all. And except for his trip to Africa once, Sai Baba has never travelled abroad. There are plenty more issues talked about among devotees which could be labelled as ‘accusations’. At times Sai Baba makes inaccurate or contradictory statements. He advises a satvic (balanced, healthy) diet but the canteens in the ashram don’t serve these. No donations are requested, yet every three months a mailing of the Sri Sai Padhuka Trust goes out to hundreds of devotees, informing them that those who would like to can contribute. And why would Sai Baba need a security guard if he is above all things? Such issues are usually explained away as being part of Sai Baba’s leela, his ‘divine play’. They contain teachings; the devotees can learn through them; they are being tested in their faith in Swami. What it finally comes down to is to trust him, Sai Baba, God incarnated, Love embodied. This is the core belief of many Baba devotees. All else in the end does not matter to them.
An identical type of reasoning is used by devotees for Sai Baba’s unproven paranormal claims and even for the proven tricks of sleight of hand. Sai Baba is testing. Do the devotees believe (in) him for his miracles, or for his teachings, the love he radiates, or the personal relationship each and every devotee can experience with him? Is faith shattered by trickery and fraud? Often faith has deepened when a devotee, shaken after having witnessed an action of sleight of hand, has been able to come to terms with it. Besides, the fact that no definite conclusions could be drawn from the research carried out by Haraldsson, and even the convincing conclusion of Beyerstein, do not prove that all miracle stories are untrue. Devotees do have their own instances of proof that Sai Baba is the one they believe him to be. There are dreams and mystical visions in which Baba has convincingly appeared; small piles of vibuthi have been found at places where no one has dropped it. Also, for many devotees, there have been these incredible coincidences when a prayer to Swami got answered in some miraculous manner.
The last type of accusation, that of Sai Baba being the devil, depending on the angle it is looked upon, is either an easy or a difficult one to judge. Does something like a devil exist or not? One’s answer to this question colours how one views Szandorowska’s experience. It might be true that Sai Baba has allied himself with evil forces (or is the embodiment of Satan), or it might be a psychological phenomenon that happened in her particular vision. Her belief in Jesus being the ultimate Saviour may have caused the train of thought that Sai Baba is to be feared. Believing in some psychological construct may lead to alternative avenues of explanation. It goes beyond the scope of this article to go further into this aspect – which leaves us to deal with the homo-paedophile accusations.
It has been, and still is believed by some devotees, and by the (young) men who experienced Sai Baba’s massaging, hugging, fondling, etcetera, that through these very acts Baba has bestowed a favour upon the devotee: purifying or initiating the devotee. The belief relates to the so called ‘kundalini explanation’. Stemming from Indian esoteric teachings is the knowledge that each human body carries within a spiritual energy. Coiled up and dormant, this divine energy, the kundalini, lies in the first chakra, an energy centre named muladhara, near the base of the spine. Upon awakening, the kundalini energy moves like a snake upward through the other chakras until it reaches the sahasrara, the chakra at the top of the head. At that moment, one experiences enlightenment. Micro and macro cosmos merge, become one; Godhood is attained. A guru can initiate the kundalini’s awakening and one method of doing so, for males, is by touching a particular spot between the testicles and the anus. Some devotees alter this explanation a bit and think that Sai Baba is helping the devotee to overcome overheated sexual drives, and maintain easier focused on the spiritual path.
The kundalini explanation does make sense in the cases where no sexual arousal was involved. It does not make sense when the massaging of genitals, kissing on the mouth, and oral contact took place. It is exactly at this point where some devotees who have tried to understand the private sexual encounters switch from the devotee’s perspective to the ex-devotee’s. The shock intensifies when hearing or reading about Sai Baba’s apparent activities with male minors. Once the shift is made, automatically all other accusations heap up to form piles of evidence that Sai Baba is a fraud, a crook, a liar, a charlatan, murderer, and ultimately a homo-paedophile. Sai Baba simply does not seem to live up to his own teachings.
There still are many devotees unaware of the evidence that surfaced last year. According to ex-devotees, such people ought to be warned because they consider it their duty to prevent more adolescent devotees getting caught in Sai Baba’s trap. Ex-devotees maintain that the case has to be investigated by the legal authorities in our society, and Sai Baba has to be brought to court.
Devotees aware of the homo-paedo accusations are aware in different degrees. Some know by hearsay and do not want to delve into it further because it is judged as negative energy and they prefer to focus on the positive. Others go deeper, and criticise much of the exposé material, at times rightly so. For example, Tal Brooke, a conservative evangelical Christian, and Basava Premanand, a sceptic rationalist, are so strong in their convictions that they seem to have pushed themselves to the extreme and people may not take their points seriously any more. Devotees looking a bit further merely seem to rationalise the accusations away. Sai Baba is God, God’s roads are inexplicable, so just keep faith that All is Well and that it is His Divine Play. Perhaps this is done out of unconscious fear as to what might psychologically happen if their beloved guru turns out to be a first rank criminal.
Devotees, having become ex-devotees, have to cope with tremendous grief, through the psychological loss of Sai Baba, and emotional hurt, due to what is sometimes viewed as spiritual rape. In addition to this, there is the fact that some officials of the Sai Organisation have known about Sai Baba’s sexual ‘misconduct’, but have not informed the devotees. Why would such information have been ignored, or worse, covered up for decades? The anger and frustration of these ex-devotees make it difficult for them to communicate with people still being Sai devotees.
As explained above, the perspectives of the devotees and ex-devotees are so strongly opposed to one another that it seems impossible to find a common ground to investigate the accusations within the Sai Baba movement itself. Since the homo-paedophile accusations are too serious for society in general to be ignored, it will be absolutely necessary that a third group of people joins in the debate. Yet, even then problems are to be anticipated.
Since the belief that Sai Baba is an avatar, God personified in a human body, is unfamiliar for an outsider, a non-devotee, it will be difficult for the latter to get an understanding of the perspective of a Sai devotee. The devotees have motives for their belief, and these ought to be taken into account as well.
Can Sathya Sai Baba be considered a fellow human being and be judged accordingly? Will justice be done if only the accusations are taken into account? Could the hundreds, or thousands, or perhaps millions of people who have benefited in a variety of ways from his existence, simply be ignorant and easily fooled spiritual seekers? What is it about this tiny, orange-robed figure whose message was spread worldwide, that justifies him getting away with what western society in general condemns as sexual crimes? If it is some kind of teaching he is bringing mankind, or the individual devotee, what exactly might this teaching consist of? Should we search for a sociological or psychological pattern among the victims before filing a complaint? Is Sai Baba a case of his own, or are there similar cases? (Probably not on his scale, but comparable nonetheless.) Are we willing to look into the so far uninvestigated miracle stories, or are we assuming all of them to be fake? Should we as a society look at ourselves first before crucifying him? Have we as a society failed so badly to find meaning in our human existence that masses of people flocked to India to get blessed by some guru? Could this be Sai Baba’s teaching to humanity? When taking full notice of the accusations against this Swami, would we as a society be willing to consider such questions, or will we immediately judge him as a criminal who belongs in jail?
The variety of accusations briefly mentioned in this paper may come across as unbalanced. Yet they have lingered within society – mainly among ex-devotees – for quite some time. Now that more of the sexual encounters with Sai Baba are being confessed more openly by some men, and because of the increasing upheaval that has arisen from these disclosures, it seems important to investigate all of the accusations thoroughly. In order to get an understanding of who or what Sri Sathya Sai Baba from Puttaparthi is, it will also be important to include the full range of miracles ascribed to Sai Baba in the voluminous literature.
If Basava Premanand had not launched his Indian Skeptic a lot of the critical Sai Baba-material might still be floating around isolated. If Tal Brooke had not introduced his personal sexual encounters with Sai Baba in his Avatar of Night, others having experienced similar encounters would not have had an anchor reference point. Even though I do not agree with their conclusions about Sai Baba, I acknowledge their pioneering efforts in search of the truth.
Thanks to Brian Steel for help with my English grammar.
Figure 1. Diagram of Sathya Sai Baba Organisation, worked out for local level in the Netherlands & Belgium (based on information found on http://www.sathyasai.org/, and Op de Hoogte, the newsbulletin for the registered Sai devotees of the Sai Baba Organisation of the Netherlands, October 2000).
Figure 2a. Logo of the Sathya Sai Baba Organisation having six different symbols for some major religions in its lotus leaves. In this particular logo the Hindu Om, Buddhist wheel, Zoroastrian fire, Islamic crescent and star, Christian cross, and (although not always added in India), the six-pointed Jewish star of David.
Figure 2b. Logo of the Sathya Sai Baba Organisation with the names of the five human values in its lotus leaves. Sometimes the Sanskrit words are used instead of the English ones: sathya for truth, dharma for right conduct, shanthi for peace, prema for love and ahimsa for non-violence.
Table 1. List of names of persons whose testimonies regarding Sai Baba’s sexual advances have been out in the regular media and/or on the Internet (see for instance http://www.exbaba.com/)
1st hand stories: sexual contact with SaiBaba
Stayed in the ashram during 1970-1971 and had several private interviews
Had many private interviews between 1978-1983 and his three open letters to Sai Baba asking Baba for an explanation are on Internet
One group interview and two private interviews in Spring 1990
Seven private interviews in 1991, 1993; info on Internet
Private interview in 1996; info in The Findings
Hans de Kraker
Australia / Netherlands
Several private interviews in 1996; info in The Findings
Many private interviews between 1995-1998
Took down precise notes of his two private interviews in September 1999, which were hand copied, xeroxed and distributed with an accompanying letter to many devotees in April-May 2000
2nd hand stories: sexual contact with SB
Dr N. Bhatia
Was head of the bloodbank in Sai Hospital during 1993-1999, and admitted to have had a sexual relationship with Sai Baba for sixteen years; info in The Findings
Malaysian Indian students
These students must have had interviews around 1979-1980
Attended a Sai Baba school in Puttaparthi and had interviews between 1977-1980. The American Sai Organisation was informed about it.
Had an interview in 1986 which was attended by Conny Larsson; committed suicide a few years later; info on Internet
A friend of Keith Ord, who committed suicide in Jan 1990 after many private interviews between May-Nov 1989; info on Internet
‘Golden Boy’ X
Eight private interviews in December 1998-January 1999, two in June 1999; Conny Larsson went with him; info on Internet
Several letters of a students of Sai Baba schools in India confess Sai Baba’s sexual abuse
1st and 2nd hand stories: ‘massage’ of genitals only
Letter from a concerned mother about her son’s experiences in a private interview in 1988; info on Internet
Four private interviews in 1989; info on Internet
Matthijs van der Meer
One private interview in 1990; wrote an article about his quest in 2000
David Paul ‘dpmeg’
Two private interviews in 1990; info on Internet
Three private interviews in 1992; info on Internet
John-Roger Hinkins followers
Steel, Brian The Sathya Sai Baba Compendium. A Guide to the First Seventy Years, York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser Inc., 1997. The following informative, journalistic study is recommended: Brown, Mick The Spiritual Tourist. A Personal Odyssey Through the Outer Reaches of Belief, London: Bloomsbury, 1998:25-94.
Babb, Lawrence A. “Sathya Sai Baba’s Magic”, in Anthropological Quarterly, 56(3), 1983:116-124; Id. “Sathya Sai Baba’s Saintly Play”, in Saints and Virtues, John Stratton Hawley (ed.), Berkeley, CA: California University Press, 1987:168-186; Haraldsson, Erlendur Miracles are my Visiting Card. An Investigative Inquiry on Sathya Sai Baba, an Indian Mystic with the Gift of Foresight Believed to Perform Modern Miracles, Prasanthi Nilayam, India: Sai Towers Publishing, 1998 (1987); Haraldsson, Erlendur & Karl Osis “The Appearance and Disappearance of Objects in the Presence of Sri Sathya Sai Baba”, in The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 71, 1977:33-43; Klass, Morton Singing with Sai Baba. The Politics of Revitalization in Trinidad, Boulder: WestView Press, 1991; Lee, Raymond L.M. “Sai Baba, Salvation and Syncretism: Religious Change in a Hindu Movement in Urban Malaysia”, in Contributions to Indian Sociology (NS), 16(1), 1982:125-140; Sharma, Arvind “New Hindu Religious Movements in India” in New Religious Movements and Rapid Social Change, James A. Beckford (ed.), Unesco: Sage Publications, 1991 (1986):220-239; Swallow, D. A. “Ashes and Powers: Myth, Rite and Miracle in an Indian God-man’s Cult”, in Modern Asian Studies, 16(1), 1982:123-158; Taylor, Donald “Charismatic Authority in the Sathya Sai Baba Movement”, in Hinduism in Great Britain, Richard Burghart (ed.), London, New York: Tavistock Publications, 1987:119-133; Thomas, Caroline M. “God Men, Myths, Materializations and the Kalas of Immortality”, in Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 55(816):377-403, 1989.
Although mainly on Shirdi Sai Baba, of interest is White, Charles S.J. “The Sai Baba Movement: Approaches to the Study of Indian Saints”, in Journal of Asian Studies, 31(4), 1972:863-878.
Chryssides George D. Exploring New Religions, London/New York: Cassell, 1999:179-192, quote on p. 180.
Nagel, Alexandra H.M. “De Neergang van een goeroe door het internet. Sai Baba, van avatar tot homo-pedofiel” [The downfall of a guru through the Internet. Sai Baba: from avatar to homo-paedophile], unpublished paper in Dutch for the course ‘Religious sociology and psychology: new religious movements’ of the Educational Institute Theology and Religion studies, University of Amsterdam, January 2001, 35 pages. In preparation: Id. “For and Against Sathya Sai Baba on the Internet”.
Mangalwadi, Vishal The World of Gurus, New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1977:158. In the same book on page 164, there is a letter to the Editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India, December 28, 1975, which reads:
A suit was filed in 1973 in the Civil Judge’s Court, Bangalore district, against Sathya Sai Baba for recovering from him a sum of Rs 94,800. After one year’s litigation the case was withdrawn on September 1974.
It is to be noted that Sathya Sai Baba talks of Dharma and non-attachment but owns extensive immovable properties in many parts of India, owns posh cars, lives in style and, as the said court proceedings have revealed, indulges in business dealings amounting to lakhs of rupees.