Sathya Sai Baba imitators and impostors
Posted by robertpriddy on October 4, 2011
Self-seeking people who tried to get endorsement from Sathya Sai Baba and/or get office and privileges in the organization – not least to promote themselves and their private projects, but were repeatedly excluded according to the rules. Many quite selfless persons who wished to represent the organization were also excluded by the selfish “top brass”, wary that others may usurp their positions on the veranda or get advantages of access to Sathya Sai Baba and the kudos that is brought within the Sai mini-world.
Many gravitated towards Sai Baba because of his much-publicised alleged powers of healing, clairvoyance, materialization and so forth, as not a few wanted to do the same and any number tried to copy his behaviour and appearance and – of course – parrot his sayings. Among the most common practices was to pretend to ‘channel’ his messages or have special access to him and able to bring forth his personal advice to others. I met too many who tried this on with people I met, and even towards me. Prasanthi Nilayam was like a “spiritual Hollywood-cum-Disneyland” where some tried to ‘make it big’ with God.
The ashrams became a Mecca for self-styled mediums, allegedly reincarnated great souls of myth and history (like Radha, Mary Magdalena, St. Francis, spirits from the beyond… nothing seemed to excessive.) . One glaring example is Sai Ma – to be showcased here later. And all this even though Sai Baba never said a positive word about any of those activities and constantly denied that he appointed anyone as his deputy or channel. The number of healers, persons who claimed special powers derived from him was legion, and still is. One can mention a couple among th many scores – to whose names were prominent: Curth Örefjärd of Sweden, Dr. Khan (a Jewish Cockney medium really called Stephen Turoff of Southend, UK.
Self-styled gurus of all persuasions seeking followings of their own also tried (and still try today) to recruit people among Sai Baba visitors or adherents. Sai Baba’s success in developing a following and attracting vast sums of money has been so great that it only to be expected, especially in India. The panorama of would-be Sai Babas -and the extent to which they go to imitate him – is really extraordinary. Here is a brief list of some of the most followed or still active among Sai Baba copyists, impersonators, and impostors who have started ashrams, followings and institutions to promote their activities: Swami Premananda of Tiruvannamalai (lookalike – materialized vibuti/lingams, died in prison) Bala Sai Baba (vibuthi/lingam materializer), Swami Sai Premananda vibuti/(lingam materializer), Swami Roberto, Sri Saidas Baba, Sekhariji, Swami Vishwananda (vibuthi/lingam materializer), Swami Ananda Baba (aka Ricardo Javier Ocampo aka ‘Maestro Amor’), Nepali Sai Baba (hilarious!) Sri Nagananda Swamy of Bukkapatman, Swami Gopal Krishna Baba, Bhagawati Srimad Sai Divine Mother Amma and so on and so on…. The variety is quite remarkable, but all preach much the same and all are really boring… but the extent to which some have tried to reproduce everything that Sathya Sai Baba ahs done is almost unbelievable… buildings, schools, temples… the whole gamut.
Amusingly, one infamous power- and money-hungry Japanese guru, Aum Shinriko – even sent a large band of his followers on to announce his arrival some time in the late 90s. They were secretly armed with bombs and guns, seemingly as if intending to take over Prasanthi Nilayam. When a group of them were denied entry, they tried to force their way into darshan and they were fought down physically by the Seva Dal and sent away. This was covered up an sent to the limbo of ‘no comment’ as fast as possible by ashram officials. Information relating to such dangers were always religiously hushed up in case it should because weaken faith in the protection Sai Baba pretends to extend to all who visit him… or warn off too many of the clients who kept the ashram prosperous.