A series of crucial letters was written by John Hislop in early 1981 as a result of information that had come out from an American family. The son of this family was in Sai Baba’s College in the late 1970s. He and his friends were, according to the boy and his parents believed him, molested by Sai Baba. This story came out in 1980, and was discussed in the Sai Organization. Signed copies of all were sent to numerous centre leaders, with instructions to destroy them after reading.
John Hislop Ph.D. was doubtless the most prominent figures in Sathya Sai Baba’s movement in the USA – and was known worldwide from the 1970s onward. One of the major spokespersons for Sathya Sai Baba – popular as a hagiographic lecturer in Sathya Sai Organization centers in many countries, he was the founder and acting head (in a lifetime appointment by Sathya Sai himself) of the Sathya Sai Baba movement in North America from 1969 until his own death in 1995.
The following three letters were written by John Hislop to Directors in Sai Centers, mostly in the USA, as a result of information that had come out from an American family, Mrs. Payne (who was remarried) and her son Terry Scott. Terry Scott, was in Sai Baba’s College in the late 1970s and was first US student to live at Sathya Sai Baba’s Hostel for students. He and his friends were, according to the boy and his parents believed him, molested by Sai Baba. This story came out in 1980, and was discussed in some higher echelons of the Sathya Sai Organization, then covered over as completely as possible, in accordance with Hislop’s own request to destroy his letters (which were sent around in xeroxed form as was Hislop’s usual method of contacting numerous officials). Among know recipients of three of these letters were John Prendergast, former President of the San Francisco Sathya Sai Centre (see here), Dr. Michael Goldstein [presently Chairman of the International Sathya Sai Organization], Robert and Rita Bruce (VIP devotees, former leaders of SS Centers), Robert Bozzani, Al Drucker. Samuel Sandweiss, Jack Hand, and to various US Sathya Sai Centre leaders. The fourth letter was addressed to ‘Terry and Mrs. Payne’, later circulated to others.
Timothy Conway Ph.D. , who relieved John Prendergast as the Director (President) of the San Francisco Sathya Sai centre, writes that these letters “are among the very most important
pieces of documentary evidence in the entire case of Sathya Sai Baba’s
purported longtime serial sexual molestation of male youth.
For in his first memo (dated Jan. 18, 1981), Dr. Hislop, who had already heard from devotee Mark Roche a first-person account from 1976 of alleged sexual molestation by Sathya Sai Baba (I learned only in 2003 about Roche’s conversation with Hislop
around 1980), refers to “these horrible stories about Sri Bhagavan [Sathya Sai].”
Hislop makes it clear that, if any such allegations were substantiated, then Sathya Sai would be “a hypocrite, a liar, and a criminal.” Hislop goes on to elaborate the gravity of the situation: “(1) He would be a hypocrite because He pretends that His life is above the senses…. (2) He would be a liar because He told me, face to face, in the most serious way that the
homosexual stories about Him were totally untrue. (3) He would be a criminal because the homosexual abuse of children under His care and protection is a criminal action and such people are punished by jail sentences.” (Emphasis added.) This
threefold serious attitude expressed by Dr. Hislop seems to have been entirely dismissed and forgotten in more recent times by the leaders of the SSB organization and Sathya Sai’s defenders.
And whereas back in the early 1980s, such stories of impropriety by Sathya Sai were very few and far between, overwhelmed by the far, far greater number of stories of Sathya’s paranormal powers, miracles, emotional and spiritual healing, uplifting teachings, good deeds, and service and educational projects, since the advent of the Internet in the late
1990s, such unsavory stories of misbehavior by SSB have grown to major proportions.
The “Hislop letters,” therefore, are an important window onto how the topmost leaders of the SSB Org in the USA missed a major opportunity in 1981 to steer the movement in the right direction toward further exploring and enacting the professed values of the Sai movement: Satya-Dharma-Shanti-Prema-Ahimsa [Truth-Virtue-Peace-Love-Harmlessness].“
To be continued in coming blogs
Please go to the Public Petition for Official Investigations of Sathya (or Satya) Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization