The Sathya Sai Baba Lingam Question: The production of lingams at the Shivarathri festival was discontinued in the 1970s, according to Sathya Sai Baba, because the crowds were too large and injuries were being caused. It is of note that Sathya Sai Baba started up the lingodbhava in public again when the allegations had broken and the crowds were thinning and the donations doubtless too. (Note: The whole 76th birthday crowd – overwhelmingly Indian – fitted into the Kulwant Mantap with max. capacity ca. 15,000, so the Hillview Stadium was not needed).Two lingam films, from 2000 and 2001, show Sai Baba apparently ‘regurgitating’ a golden lingam. In the sequences from 2001 (one taken head-on, and one from the side filmed by Dr. Sara Pavan) we see that Sathya Sai Baba holds a towel before his mouth and fiddles for about 5 seconds, appearing to put the regurgitated lingam back in his mouth, before letting it come out in full view slowly, but it drops before he catches it. In another strangely comical sequence – for what he speaks of as a tremendously auspicious holy regeneration fo the cosmos – he bounced it had on a table and it landed on the ground and rolled into the crowd!
There are three main possibilities involved here: 1) It is a genuine lingam production in the stomach emerging through his throat? 2) It comes up his throat when he gags, but he puts it back into his mouth behind the towel to let it seem to emerge. 2) It is brought into his mouth by hand behind the towel (the violent seeming regurgitation being only a fake movement)? I find 3) the most likely in after 2000 then 2) in earlier years and then 1) very unlikely.
Due to the massive cocksure testimony by many writers, I came to believe for about 18 years that the lingam productions were most likely genuine. I also have also films of lingodbhava from before he stopped this showpiece in the ’70s. The whole episode looked very much the same as nowadays. The reasons for believing most in 3) are several. The obvious one is that this is a trick which Houdini invented. Sai Baba was losing credibility and devotees were shocked over the massive sex abuse allegations against him. In 2000 that everyone who saw this actually emerge would gain liberation from the cycle of birth/death, and this would apply again in future! That is the magnet for devotees who believe in all that. There were much larger crowds than usual at Shivarathri from then on . Further, he had said before that only by seeing the lingam actually emerge could one get liberation. So as not to disappoint all those there, he presumably put it back in his mouth after it ‘came up’ (if he had swallowed it before). Most people would feel they had actually seen it emerge. The obvious question then is, did he want to give people the false belief that they would achieve liberation? Despite the unlikelihood that such ‘liberation from rebirth’ is more than a wishful miasma and could possibly ensue from seeing the actual emergence?’
Some reasons for considering lingam regurgitations are fakes: One can see a lingam production from the mouth by some yogi the a German film crew around 1990, which shows how common this ‘feat’ is in India. See video clip here. (‘Das Mysterium Der Shiva – Heilige Männer‘ . It was shown in Germany in a series called ‘Terra X – Rätsel alter Weltkulturen’
Regurgitation a stage illusionist trick: The famous illusionist, Houdini, experimented at swallowing balls and re-gurgitating them, firstly with a piece of string attached. Later he did it without any aids, and regurgitated them with ease on stage. The object can be kept in the stomach or throat for several hours at least before regurgitation is stimulated by some physical means (massage, vomit-inducing medicines etc.).
As far as can be established, his is the first ever reported performance of this feat. Lingam-regurguitation is not described anywhere so far discovered in Indian scripture or esoteric literature before the 20th century! Swami Premananda (formerly of Sri Lanka and Tiruvannamalai, now in prison in Tamil Nadu for life for rape and murder) produced three lingams at Shivarathri (before his trial) witnessed by a good French friend of mine. There are many reports of him having done the same as Sathya Sai Baba year after year, once even when visiting UK. He was also celebrated as ‘ the avatar’ in his ashram’s publications etc.
There is no reason why the very young Sai Baba should not have learned this technique at the time when he got involved in activities in a troup with his magician uncle performing in public and doing peculiar feats, as described once even in Prof. Kasturi’s ‘official’ biography ‘Sathyam, Sivam, Sundaram‘. (See end of 3rd chapter of Vol. 1., p. 20 in some eds.) Sathya Sai Baba copied another artist – a young girl – who picked up a kerchief with her eyelids from the ground when bent over backwards. Sathya Sai Baba reportedly surpassed this “tortuous feat” in public by picking up a needle with his eyelids from the same position. A kind of Tantric or fakir performance, for which feat Sathya Sai Baba was said to have had to suffer a dreadful eye affliction afterwards! Somewhat unbelievable, but still revealing – even that Prof. Kasturi believed it.
Please go to the Public Petition for Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and his Worldwide Organization (or Spanish version PETICIÓNPÚBLICA PARA INVESTIGACIONES OFICIALES)