Click on image to learn more
Here is a transcript of the radio programme in which a presenter interviews Ranu Mehta Radia of the Sathya Sai Baba School in Harrow, North London and journalist Mick Brown.
“Now, Sathya Sai Baba was an influential Indian guru who attracted followers from around the world. (his origins are summarised) then the announcer states that Sai Baba invested in a “water irrigation system for the whole state of Andhra Pradesh”
Comment: That is ridiculously bad reporting. His followers dominated a drinking water system – not at all for irrigation – to an uncertain number of villages (near to Puttaparthi), but only in the relatively limited Rayalaseema area. It represents a small faction of the whole of Andhra Pradesh and a very minor percentage of the state budget for water supplies. How come professional journalists make such over estimations and blunder about easily investigated facts?
Interviewer: We spoke to Ranu Mehta Radia, a devotee of Sai Baba, who founded a school run on his principles in Harrow. She described the experience of seeing the guru at his ashram.
Radia: When you first arrive there it seems that you’re all in a slumber, and, and suddenly, you know, this awakening comes. Where it’s like he’s
pulling away all the the material desires way from you and you suddenly feel very light and he takes you on a completely different consciousness.
Comment: This is called the ‘honeymoon’ period, when – after endless waiting and countless prayers and yearning (often for years) the devotee – already invariably convinced of his divine nature – gets to see him at last. It seems like fulfilment, to be in the presence of God. Yet more so when he looks at one, and again blesses one, allows one to touch his feet… then perhaps even get an interview and see him perform his ‘miracles’ like a conjurer. One feels as if one is walking on air… the lightness is a result of one’s own longings and desires being fulfilled. He does not remove material desires as she says – followers fight long and hard to do so, and the result are not all that visible to long-term observers of devotees! The talk about raised levels of consciousness is all subjective, of course… it is not noticeable that Sai followers are even a cut above the ordinary as regards awareness, sensitivity, compassion… nor are they lacking in selfishness, as any visit to the ashrams will confirm (I can say this honestly after 18 years trying to assist them as a leader of the Sathya Sai Organization in Norway). Sai Baba did not change anyone, people change themselves (often only in imagination or in boast) but those who believed in him got a kind of initial boost.
Interviewer: All this just by being in his presence?
Radia: Absolutely and he comes out with this great energy aura around him.
Mick Brown: He was certainly the most famous Indian swami of recent times.
Interviewer: The journalist Mick Brown visited Sai Baba’s ashram as part of the research for his book ‘The Spiritual Tourist’.
Mick Brown: A lot of his reputation was based on the claims that he could perform miracles and these miracles ranged from what may appear to be the fairly mundane of materializing various devotional objects – materializing what’s called vibuthi, this holy dust, from his fingertips up to the full-blown 24-carat miracle you might say it of resurrecting people from the dead and healing the sick and so forth. In fact if you think of all, pretty much all the the miracles that were claimed of Christ, these were claimed at one time or another of Sai Baba.
Interviewer: And his following was enormous, wasn’t it?
Mick Brown: Yes, it’s very difficult to calculate just how enormous, I mean estimates range from 3 mill around the world up to 10 million, a following that spread through Europe, America, Australia and not just the sixties’ hippies, as it were, who made the pilgrimage India in the 60s in search of enlightenment, I mean his followers in the West would include psychiatrists, doctors, professionals and so – yes a very large and extensive network of Sai Baba groups and Sai Baba centres around the world.
Interviewer: What did he actually look like (as?) he moved amongst the people in that way?
Click on image to read his original debunking article on Sathya Sai Baba
Mick Brown: Fairly tubby – as he grew older – and ah he wore a long flame-coloured silk robe – ah – which trailed on the floor as he walked and his most distinguishing characteristic was the aureole of frizzy afro hairstyle, almost like Jimi Hendrix.
Dr. Michael Goldstein (recorded from ‘The Secret Swami’ documentary film): “We believe that – ah – Sri Sathya Sai Baba IS Jesus Christ, that Sri Sathya Sai Baba IS Buddha, that Sri Sathya Sai Baba IS the founder of all of the world’s religions. Sri Sathya Sai Baba has always been l-ah, ah – God.”
Interviewer: Did you think he was a god?
Radia: I think over the 35 years that I have been following him I would say that he was certainly a representation of one of the most divine people that I have encountered.
Comment: In other words, Radia did not believe Sathya Sai Baba’s central claim, the he was and always is God, who created the Universe and who sent Jesus to earth. This was required of all bona fide members of the organization. Obviously she baulked at answering the question properly, and no wonder –since he has been so widely exposed to be a charlatan and ignorant of so many facts – that she did not want to be taken for some kind of deluded fanatic in believing his oft-repeated claim of being omniscient, omnipotent etc.
Interviewer: Of course, his foundation had a lot of money, some say 5.5 billion pounds in that foundation, do you think he was guilty of exploiting his followers in any way?
Radia: Having observed him for 35 years, he has lived a very, very simple life. If people felt that he was probably getting the rich to give, it was for a very very good purpose.
Comment: This is contradicted by the opulent apartments he has himself decided to built for himself, the fact that he never has to lift a finger for anything whatever and that he had done no hard work since he got his ashram back in the 1950s. He just talks, walks, talks, walks… and also rides everywhere in the most expensive cars available, and on chartered airline jets. He in definitely not averse to a good spread, as is known from his visits to members of his Trust for meals. He is visibly the opposite of a sannyasin in his behaviour, but the deluded think they see saintly self-denial despite everything. Further, he tricked people into donating, largely by giving them cheap trinkets (often rings with what he called ‘diamonds’ and large one in) and they were so grateful that they donated many, many times the value back in money, work, time and energy. Not one Sai Baba diamond has ever been proven to be genuine by any professional assayer! But the contrary has! (See here)
Interviewer: There have also been some allegations of sexual abuse from some former acolytes. How did you feel when you heard those allegations?
Radia: That was absolutely shocking, there was absolutely never never any indication that there was any abuse. You k now I have come into contact with a lot of students throughout my years, particularly in the early days when they were using my home as a – as a – transit and there was absolutely no indication that he was interested in any kind of sexual advances towards the students, in fact you know he loved them to bits.
Comment: The excessive denial pattern is there, as usual with those who have invested their lives in believing this guru to be holy. A person who only could possibly have seen Sai Baba most infrequently in interviews and at his walkabout darsans was in no position to judge what he did the rest of the time, especially since she is a woman and Sai Baba mostly steers very clear of them in his daily doings- it is a man’s world in the ashrams! Nor would students be likely to tell her – a fully signed-up believer – what they had experiences because the consequences could be very grave. Ex-students were murdered in his bedroom and many claimed some of them had been sexual abused too. Besides, UNESCO investigated the Sathya Sai Baba sex abuse claimants, as did the US State Department and the BBC World film makers (“The Secret Swami“. All warned against him and they could not be challenged in any court! No UN body has ever had any connection with the Sai Baba set.up, despite constant attempts by followers, since the UNESCO advisory
Mick Brown: The allegations of sexual abuse I think took on real heat with the advent of the Internet when people began to come forward and exchange information and this culminated in very serious attempts to try and bring Sai Baba legally to book for this.
Interviewer: Did it have some of the charactististics of a cult? Were there dangers for those who were drawn into the following of Sai Baba?
Mick Brown: I personally think it did have the characteristics of a cult, certainly a personality cult around him, and that was one of the things that I felt most strongly in the ashram and that I found most oppressive. In a sense people almost believe in that whatever they had done, whatever they were doing, whatever they were about to do was somehow being refracted through the desires or wishes or intentions of Sai Baba.
Interviewer: What do you think the impact will be at his death?
Radia: Oh, we’re going to keep it alive so I think you know that there’s a very long legacy now for the er Sai – Sathya Sai Baba and I think he’s left immortal teachings for you know people who followed him
Interviewer: Rania Mehta Radia on Sathya Sai Baba who has died aged 84.
(from the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b010mwlv/Last_Word_29_04_2011/)
Mick Brown is a journalist and author. He wrote about his visit to Sathya Sai Baba’s ashram in ‘A Spiritual Tourist in India A Personal Odyssey through the Outer Reaches of Belief. London: Bloomsbury. 1999. ISBN 0747542821.’
He wrote a major article exposing Sathya Sai Baba after meticulous research - ‘Divine Downfall’ in the Sunday Telegraph.
UK Minister Tony McNulty Finished? Indian Guru Sai Baba Link Should Be Probed
Swindling politician Tony McNulty association with the UK Sathya Sai Organization
See the UNSECO Media Advisory warning against Sathya Sai Baba due to sexual abuse allegations and the Notice of Withdrawal by UNESCO from an educational conference in Puttaparthi