STATEMENT OF RICHARD “FREEMAN” ALLAN June 6, 2003
After visiting a friend residing in a small “eclectic” ashram in New York City, I became a Sai devotee in spring of 1977. My friend was deeply spiritual, a former Catholic seminarian, and showed me streams of vibhuti caking behind his glass-covered holy pictures [as best I recall, of Christ and Shirdi Sai Baba].
In August that year I moved to reside in this ashram. It was guided by an openly gay, but spiritual westerner, an NYC native, who had visited Swami in India once or twice in approximately 1975-76. As I recall, he had had interviews with Swami . This “teacher” led our bhajan-singing and pujas, and also gave private interviews to us residents, both male and female, upstairs in his closed-door quarters. In October ’77, I first saw a video of Satya Sai Baba and was profoundly moved. On the ride home, I told my ashram friends “I’m going to live with Baba.”
While preparing for what I intended to be a long stay, I did ardent sadhana, with daily prayers to Kali and to Baba. I attended SSO bhajans at the Manhattan SAI Center. Just before I left, I had my own first interview with our teacher. During this private hour together, this man rubbed my genitals with oil and massaged my perineum. “Does this bother you?” he asked; “it’s a very holy Vedic practice for awakening your kundalini.” (See on Hal Honig here)
At the time, I found this a strange practice. But I was somewhat new to Hinduism, and assumed the man’s statement was the accurate transmission of an adept to a chela.
I arrived in Bombay in early January ’78, and proceeded by train direct to Whitefields. My first day on-line at darshan, Baba came straight to me and asked “Why did you wait so long to come?” He made vibhuti for me, watched lovingly while I ate it, and signed my copy of Vision of the Divine “with blessings, Sri Satya Sai Baba.”
In these days, both at Vrindavan and Puttaparthi, there were generally only a small group of devotees, both Indian and foreign – usually fewer than 100 per day, unless the time was nearing a large festival. I had numerous invitations to take padnamaskar, but never was given an interview. Still, I was overjoyed to be with the “avatar,” engaged in daily pre-dawn sankirtan, lived many months in a tiny rented room in Kadugodi, reading Hindu books, meditating, satvic diet, etc.
I was blinkered by the power of the Sai mystique, which I now understand is perpetuated primarily by the lips of our fellow devotees. I rejected any derogation of “my” Avatar. I was at Brindavan and Puttaparthi while the Sai Krishna scandal was just starting to die down, but I refused to investigate its core of facts, and its potential for leading me to see Baba’s chicanery. Likewise, in 1978, I refused to read or even listen to reference to Tal Brooke’s “Lord of the Air” [which I have since read, and which is - to my knowledge - the first thorough SSB-debunking in print].
At Puttaparthi I was tutored in the Gayatri mantra and had extremely profound experiences. I felt that Baba was giving me the inner-view, and that he led me to 3 particular learning events, one of which was to journey to Calcutta for 4 months of city and village service work as one of Mother Teresa’s Missionary Brothers of Charity.
During this latter period, I became inspired to create an “artisan uplift” import project to distribute Ganges-fired devotional statues in the West. I named the venture JBL Statues [for “Jai Bhagavan Leela” or “Praise the Miracles of Bhagavan,” a salutary chant familiar to all Sai devotees]. I returned to Whitefields, where Baba, on darshan line, “blessed” my written proposal for the venture.
Returning to the USA after a year in India, I was briefly active in the Manhattan Center. Over the next 25 years JBL Statues grew to be a maker of “mythological figurines” from world spiritual traditions [see www.jblstatue.com ]. I dedicated my daily yogas to Swami, and assumed he was still blessing my work. In 1996, our large statues were placed in the Foreigner’s Dining Hall at Puttaparthi, surrounding a life-size puja/photo of SSB.
Interestingly, our artisans were never able to make a satisfactory image of Swami himself. Despite their mastery of murti-making detail, try as they would, Baba’s face always came out wrinkled in a sneer. I removed this statue from our offerings on our current Sacred Source website.
Not until 2000 did a friend alert me to Swami’s pedophilia and homosexual assaults. Even though this charismatic old man’s acts are generally non-violent, “assaults” is the correct term, because they invade both the devotee or child’s body boundaries as well as his core of faith and trust.
I am trained as a social worker. My wife is an expert on pedophile abuse. I spent 2001-02 helping edit her book [see www.timetospeak.com ], which looks at the complexity of human sexuality, the need for human attachment, and the treacherous mode of betrayal when an ostensibly loving father is also interfering with the sexuality of his own, or any, child. Sai’s crime has been an order of magnitude larger, since he has put himself forward as “spiritual father,” before engaging wholesale in this same type of betrayal. This is an exact parallel to priest-pedophilia within the Catholic Church [a worldwide phenomena, though most recently and thoroughly documented in USA].
Today I understand how I, and so many thousands of us who have gone to be with SSB, were snookered. I believe the vast majority of us post-Murphet-Sandweis-Hislop Westerners, dazzled by the breadth and splendor of Hinduism itself, were inducted by these and other devotees, as well as by Theosophist, Yogananda and other myths which had sifted westward for generations. Today, I see how I discovered SSB NOT because of his “calling to me,” but rather out of my own longing-filled, sincere, and deeply personal spiritual quest. This fact makes his depredations feel doubly treacherous.
The private inner worlds of children are vastly more precious and important than the princely temples of the so-called ‘holy man’ I once venerated. I believe Swami as a youth was a sincere seeker, but became trapped by a certain level of spiritual attainment. Now, despite the snowball effect, despite his organization’s capacity of “spiritual hypnotizing,” I suspect SSB himself is caught in a hell-loka.
Today I suspect that my NYC teacher learned his “spiritual fondling” technique from Baba himself, and imported it back to the USA. I call on every devotee to educate themselves as to Swami’s hundreds of acts of sexual deviancy [well attested to via Press and Web], and to renounce Satya Sai Baba. His deeds of child-violation belie his teachings. His actions are typical of a dangerous, predatory homosexual/pedophile. I believe SSB’s ashram, and SSO’s worldwide, fit the groupthink, denial and child misuse mechanisms that define a cult.
On the most positive possible note, I believe we each are called to encounter higher Self. We each have the power of choice in pursuing this ultimate search. Swami’s teachings, among others, facilitated this long, ardent process for me. But the answer, the sweet Source of spiritual and actual fulfillment, I have found, lies within. “If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him.”