Once again I am given unsolicited advice on spirituality and faith in miracles by another would-be religious opinion-maker, Max Soltau. He apparently failed to understand properly (‘briefly scan’) or read much of ) what I have posted about the deceptions of Halagappa of Sri Ranga Patna’s Thief’s Temple, but I am answering him nonetheless (see below scan). His opinion is of interest if only in that other are also zealous believers despite all and it shows the intensity with which he forwards his (very shaky) case. He claims I did not once mention the ‘miracles’ themselves… I certainly did describe the phenomena in some detail and linked to film footage showing it too. He wrote (see scan on right):-
OK, here I go… as to science publishing results into phenomena it can not explain (due to the fear he attributes to scientists), that is utter rubbish, of course. Science continually publishes results about inexplicable phenomena. The burden of proof for unprecedented claims (especially miracles) is on the claimant, not on science as such, especially when scientists like Dr. Narendra Nakak, President of FIRA (rationalists) went there but was recognised by Halagappa and denied entry. So much for openness! Professor Haraldsson, so keen to view such phenomena, did not bother to visit the place, though he knew about it full well. who was recognised by Halagappa and refused entry to the temple!). Indeed, the trickery is too easily explained without science, as follows:-
I was alone with Halagappa hearing his life history and seeing all his Sai baubles for hours at his orphanage. When I held an amulet I saw how it dribbled, and yes, I was impressed and thought it most likely genuine, enough so to donate a large sum to this man, and this helped cause Kasturi to publish warnings (repeatedly) from Sai Baba’s discourses about his amrit and vibuthi). But some questions, verging on doubts, lingered even though I was loath not to accept it as a Sai Baba miracle. That all changed later on.
The dribble is explained by the viscosity of treacle-like substance. How long does it take for the ‘amrit’, when the spoon is held at quite a shallow angle (as Halagappa invariably did), to discharge its liquid. I have tried it with the very substance and it takes quite some time, especially when the receiving palm is only slightly off the horizontal, as Halagappa ensures. Further, he always used the table-spoon (which he had replaced amrit jar) to scrape away the amrit below the amulet when th flow slowed or stopped, thus replenishing it with more liquid from the spoon! This trick is even seen on videos and the concave side of the amulet is even clearly towards the end. This enabled it to hold more amrit than otherwise would seem possible. The small oval amulet can even have been made hollow inside with tiny apertures at the edges… but you would not find that out as you were never allowed to examine it! No one has produced a convincing video where the amulet is held for a long enough, steeply enough, for it either to run very long or to become amrit-free, because Halagappa controls when it will be returned to the jar.
Upon reflection, the whole thing was as suspicious as could be, when one thought about it thoroughly from all angles. But people are easily misled, as was I then. This happens because of enthusiasm, the tales from so many others and one’s own hopes of some kind of tangible proof that the whole quest was not a wild goose chase. Most good people go there because of the opportunity it seemed to offer of doing something really worthwhile, as we all thought we were then It is less a case of ‘seeing is believing’ than of ‘believing is seeing’, for the high expectation emotional mind-set affects one’s judgement of what one sees, especially the time-lapse. When mentally and emotionally stimulated (as devotees would be to see this for the first time) experimental psychology proves that time as subjectively experienced stretches out – it can even seem to stop sometimes. Timing each dribble between Halagappa’s ‘spoonings’ with a stopwatch would soon settle that question.
Since any normal investigation was forbidden by Halagappa, the director of ‘Seduced’ used an experienced professional Danish illusionist/conjurer, Nils Krøjgaard, to explain and ably demonstrate the fraud. See http://www.saibaba-x.org.uk/video/Amrit-clip 8.8 Mb .mov or http://www.saibaba-x.org.uk/video/Amrit_clip 9.3 Mb .mp4
I have met many who had been to ‘The Thief’s Temple’ as Halagappa’s place is universally known. Halagappa solicited donations. I gave £1000.- for use on the orphans but unfortunately’ don’t you know, they were just as wanting and ragged for years thereafter, so ‘once a thief…’ is most apposite. It was reliable reportedly to me by an international journalist who investigated it and spoke to neighbours that these children were exploited for money in other ways. Halagappa’s (second) spouse was wearing expensive jewels, and he had renovated his temple luxuriously. To attract people to the place and get more donations, he had a profit-sharing agreement with taxi firms in Bangalore. Once a thief… applies again). The entire symbolism of the ‘holy amrit’ is very suspect… it comes from the mythological Ramayana where a goddess appears with a jar of it and gives it only to those fit to be divine beings, while the rest are ‘asuras’ /akin to demons). Sai devotees who get amrit are often of the opinion that they are so blessed that their troubles are all over. But I have seen the tragedies and even grisly ends of some of them.
It is certainly not irrelevant to the assessment of his doings that Halagappa told me a brazen lie in January, 1985, pretending he had been taken by his uncle to meet Shirdi Sai Baba. When first I met him I was willing to trust devotees’ honesty, but I soon learned much greater circumspection. He said that Shirdi Sai cuffed him and he complained to his uncle who told him he was a fool, that it was a blessing which would cure him (of something). He told me his uncle asked Shirdi Sai to look after his nephew in future, and Shirdi Sai agreed. The literature reports that Shirdi Sai often hit people, and it was taken as a boon. (Rather a charming attraction to kids?) Much later I checked back and worked out the dates. Shirdi Sai died in 1918, but when Halagappa told me this in 1985, he was about my age (then 50) and could not possibly have been 70 or more years old as he would have had to be ever to have met Shirdi Sai Baba. Had he been only 6 years then, he would have been 100 years of age now had he met Shirdi Sai in his very last months before death! So he exposed himself to me as a liar. He did tell me how Sathya Sai Baba exposed him as the baggage thief he was and made him go to Mysore to start doing service looking after homeless children. He began to solicit donations for the temple based on reputed ‘materializations’ from a locked Sai Baba had once given him. He even added sugar to vibuti (dried cow dung called ‘holy ash’ in India) to make it more acceptable. He threw out his first wife and took a young women instead, and so Sathya Sai Baba never visited him or spoke to him again. Instead we get:-
In 1985, Al Drucker told a group of us that Baba warned him not to go near the place, but he admitted he did anyhow. In Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 10, p. 186f, Sathya Sai Baba is quoted saying:- “In Mysore state there are some who distribute amrith, vibhuthi and other articles announcing that they are showering from their pictures at their places… Devotees should keep far away from such places and persons”, “I never allot in this manner, nor do I hand over my powers to anyone…” and “They could carrry a begging bowl and go from door to door; that at least will save them from a life of deceit and sacrilege.” (Sathya Sai Speaks vol. 11, p. 147). In Chapter 30 of Vol 10, Sai Baba also said, “Go straight along the true path: be not drawn into byelanes by quacks and crooks. Some happenings in Madras and in Mysore are to be drastically condemned.“All the above describes Halagappa nicely, it can clearly be none other than him, and it neatly discredits him and his ‘miracles’ totally.
But Soltau wants me NOT to inform of my experiences “so at to allow others to form their own opinions about the orphanage, and its miracles” (i.e. let the naive, gullible, vulnerable fall into the same trap). They will form their own opinions anyway, just as, for example, 25% of Americans hold the opinion that the sun circles the earth, and as many believe aliens are with us (eg. Larry King’s survey) while yet more accept the Bible creation story. All such people evidently need honest guidance and true information. The career of Halagappa as a thief being rejected by Sai Baba (probably because he was muscling in on the profits) is all relevant to an evaluation of that person’s probity. I have other vital most credible negative information about him. Try to find out yourself, Soltau. Unfortunately, it takes much time and effort to find out the secrets of the inner core members of this vast lucrative deception and penetrate the true nature of this clandestine and infamously murderous cult (see here), and one has to want to know and have the right connections. I did not want to know, but the facts forced themselves upon me more and more until I had to learn, especially from some of the very closest Indian devotees of Sai Baba. I was fortunate in that, I saw how countless others were completely unable to learn anything, so secretive and secure against investigation was Sai Baba and his the ashrams, organisation and colleges. It is too late to study the original crime scenes, so to speak, as others have taken over and many have left or passed away.
Mr. Soltau imagines I chose a life of objective perspectives (probably “out of fear”!), and – like so many self-important Sai devotees – advises me I am “rejecting my own spirituality”. which shows how signally he has failed to find out anything much about me, my background or motives at all. A leader of the Sai Organisation in Norway for 18 years, until I was shocked out of my good intentions as a full-time Sai devotee and service worker deeply engaged in the spiritual search. I was fortunate in having had a very wide experience of life before I went to SB (about whom I learned, incidentally, in 1954 when on a ship with Indian crewmen who invited me to visit him and perhaps write a book about him!). I had studied much of the humanities, the sciences (which I lectured in), including the main religious theologies, mystics and ‘masters’ as well as having had many connections with Indians since childhood. Once I at last again allowed myself to think critically about it all, and investigated by contacting hundreds of former devotees, I left the dangerous path of subjective appearances once and for all and eventually analysed the subjectivity problem afresh, what influences perception and interpretation of it etc. Enough of that… mentioned since he wanted to straightjacket me into the topic as he defines it. His question for me turned out to be more of a tirade too. However badly he needs to believe these were miracles, that does not make them so, nor will it advance his imagined ‘spirituality’ in any good direction.
See scientific (electrospectrographical) analysis of vibuthi taken from Halagappa’s temple - ordinary quartz crystal power. (18.1 Mb mov format)
See also a web page detailing more about Halagappa and his temple’s wares