Sathya Sai Baba cult but one of many
Posted by robertpriddy on May 17, 2012
Most official governments’ policies to curb exploitative and opportunistic cults of the religious or ‘spiritual’ type are weak, ill-informed and ineffective in protecting their vulnerable populations from the many kinds of deception and depredation involved.
Those who advise governments on which organizations are or are not to be considered as cults are invariably persons who have a ‘clean record’ as regards being involved in any cults themselves. They are largely academics whose experience of cults is most limited as their knowledge base almost entirely consists in hands-off academic research literature and public documents. As such, they do not have the prerequisites for a proper understand of the nature of cults and how they strive to present themselves and appear as innocuous organizations. A few well-know ’sociological experts’ but exclusively armchair outsiders like Professor Bryan Wilson have taken a most sceptical and biased standpoint towards the reports by almost all victims of cults. He and his supporters have misguidedly succeeded in convincing bodies like UK’s INFORM that dissenters or apostates who have left a religious sect or cult and exposed its malpractices are to be regarded with skepticism. The over-careful and ‘politically correct’ blandness and blindness of much of this ‘outsider’ advice on cults is only surpassed in futility by their lack of action in denying legitimacy to the massive number of manipulative and even life-destroying sects and cults that earn billions from the unsuspecting in the name of supposedly ‘divine’ or ‘holy’ gurus, whether dead or alive. The reason given is that they are prone to make excessive attacks and even invented allegations for various reasons like protection of self-image etc. That this is not a reliable assumption is certainly not the case, even though a few whose lives have been deeply affected or even ruined have sometimes given disturbed and incorrect accounts of the cult in question. The huge propaganda efforts of organizations like those of Sathya Sai Baba (which became a model copied by many other Indian gurus) are designed to bluff the public, of course, and they evidently also succeed in deceiving too many well-meaning but social scientists who only study them at a second or third remove.
The key question about evaluation of cultism is who is best qualified to know and understand the workings of methods of indoctrination and control of behavior exercised by such sects and cults? Those who have been involved, initially having a very positive and supportive attitude, but who have realized in one and another way that they have become victims of wrongdoing in the form of systematic deceptions, disinformation and suppression invoking the manipulation of people’s activities and even lives, are surely those whose testimonies should not be ignored or discounted in advance? No doubt there will be those who are bitter, resentful and desire revenge against their persecutors, but these will be far from all those who dissent and expose the matter. If a dissident shows a general level of articulation, circumspect reservation in language (eg. in avoiding vulgar condemnatory words) and provides reference to controllable facts, secondary sources, independent testimonies by others and reasonable circumstantial evidence of wrongdoing, this should be taken most seriously and even given priority in evaluating the issue of whether one is dealing with an oppressive and possibly dangerous cult.
Cults seek respectability from Governments. In the UK the Sathya Sai Organisation got charitable status to mislead elderly victims that it must be respectable and targeted Royalty. The English Charity Commission, a notoriously lax organisation and very politically correct has much to answer for. In Europe the SB cult also played the race card ie if one criticised the cult that person was a racist. The UK government also wanted to sell fighter jets to India but after kow towing to the Indian government it lost out. The French offered bigger bribes!