During and just after the New Year period of 2014 at the Prashanthi Nilayam ashram, the annual Sports Day Meet and the Sankranti festival were held. Scheduling the Sports Meet at that time ensures most parents can attend. This is the time of year parents to visit their sons (and some daughters) to see what is the combined colleges ‘Sport’s Day’ show. Sankranti is the biggest festival of the year, common in all of India, and most schools, offices and businesses have two weeks off, much more that most of the world’s Christmas season! (In India, Dasara is the other big long-vacation festival of the year). (Incidentally, Icelandic Professor Erlendur Haraldsson visited at that time in 2013 to promote a new edition of his old book and he therefore naively believed Prashanthi and Puttaparthi to be thriving. With his Dutch supporter, Joot Houtkooper, he returned a defender of Sai Baba against the many documented claims of fraud and – through his silence about Sai Baba sexual crimes long known to him).
A Spanish visitor was then present from 2 weeks before New Year until after the sports event. Miguel De La Cruz ’s reports show that, for a brief spell, Puttaparthi gets a mini-revival (compared to when Sai Baba was alive). Visitors numbers rise sharply to as much as a few thousands for the big days. The ashram is geared to capitalising on it because it draws local vacationers and villagers – while a number of foreign visitors attend, having otherwise virtually deserted the place since the funeral. Apparently, every shop that still has an owner is open to sell what they can, and especially the ashram shopping mall. The first report came as a comment on an earlier blog, and read as follows:-
Dear Robert Priddy.
I went to Ashram few weeks ago, as a way to learn about all the magic they speak of and the good things that this place theoretically does. I’m an atheist so every word of this tinny orange men are lies to me, and their “miracles” shows their cheap tricks. I saw a men creating hundreds of pounds from his hands in Camden (London), but he didn’t create a religious lie from it. I saw a place created as a business, with cash machines included inside and also the national bank of india, where the foreigners change their currency losing a lot of money (better exchange outside), they ( the ashram and Prashanthi branch state bank) give 82 rupis per 1 ruble ,when everywhere else they gave 84 or more.
At first it looks cheap, 500 rupis for few days and 100 rupis for eating ( breakfast 80-100 and dinner another 100), but them I discovered that renting a nice flat in the best area is 3000 rupis per month, and eating in luxury restaurants from 100 to 200 and you will go with a smile home.
They have people spying on everybody all the time and controlling all the movements and it is impossible to see poor people inside: Only the ones with money can enter. I tried to introduce a friend of mine -poor- inside, to eat with him, but it was impossible and when I asked why, they started to forgot their english. Magic again!!
It is a business and I’m sick of weak russians and some europeans that want to be cool and spiritual in a fake way. They go there, they put their money in and then come back to their countries without slavery, with rights and without thinking about the reality: Is a great business. Miguel
After receiving this, I began an exchange of questions and answers with Miguel to clarify things more. Being on his first visit, Miguel found the number of people “impressive, for sure hundreds and sometimes thousands when the schools came.” The schools & colleges still have several thousand students, so this is what swells the numbers. No doubt impressive to find this in the middle of nowhere, so to speak, especially to those who have never been before and seen the entire stadium packed with people for the same annual events, or on the big birthdays; not just the seats full, but all the ground space too. The schools & colleges still have several thousand students, so this is what swells the numbers. The former ashram engineer, Mr. Ashok, calculated that the absolute maximum capacity of the Hillview Stadium was 250, 000. Likewise “They have a massive kitchen that can cook rice for thousands easily.” A major outside kitchen arrangement has been on hand there for many years, and it was indeed massive at the 70th birthday.
They have many shops to make people spend money. The prices are much the same as outside, maybe a little more expensive in some products. They have a supermarket so you don’t need to go out, a lot of places with cafe, tea, noodles and fried food, also pizza and other sweets. Asked about the shops in Puttaparthi and the showpiece museum etc., Miguel wrote: “You can walk 5 minutes in a straight line and then you only see wasted hotels without anybody, no restaurants and nothing at all. The Eternal Spiritual Museum was not open, the Auditorium always empty. The garden was opened but it was always empty.The Eternal Spiritual Heritage is closed! That almost says it all about the lack of interest in Sai Baba’s doctrine, surely. The Poornachandra Hall was not in use – probably far too big. The white elephants at Prashanthi are is disuse – the world-class tennis stadium, the Planetarium, the ‘international’ airport – all impossible either to make money on or to sell off cheaply. What remaining funds there are are almost certainly being tapped by the powers-that-be to bribe their way out of trouble generally and to supply their new-found luxury private lifestyles.
South Prashanthi (indian area) in general full. They have ultra bad quality if you compare with north (for russians mostly and rich countries). The North Blocks (N1, N2, N3) were 60%. I went to all the flats and look that as my research to this sickness. They are building a new flat.
Most of the areas are only for indians and getting there is a way of infinite questions and people following you. I went to the areas for indians and they are a trashcan – they are really dirty- all the flats smell like dirty socks, disgusting toilets etc. In north area the people are much cleaner, maybe for that reason they don’t mix them with us. Indians are so dirty that I understand why they have so many diseases of their skin. Russians are really clean and you can see them cleaning before leaving the place!
As always any contact with girls is prohibited, like helping a lady that can’t walk alone, but touching boys is absolutely accepted, if you want you can put your head on the legs of a men, grab his hand and sleep like this in front of the gods, but never try to help a girl if she needs to touch you more than 3 seconds! Indian culture. They have an area for the businessmen that own this place, with a great good quality building that looks great inside, with air conditioning (it was really difficult to get there unseen) and also all of them have expensive cars, furniture, luxury clothes etc. They change them to the plain white ones when they go to sell the word of their god. I saw one of them going out once a week with expensive silk and hands full of jewelry.
In mail exchanges with Miguel I asked about the Christmas rituals, Miguel wrote: “No processions or anything like that. I think I made a mistake with my estimation of 60% (i.e. in the North blocks). I saw lockers in the rooms and I thought they were full -for that reason the 60%- but now I think it is impossible at all, because I didn’t see so many white people. North apartment blocks: but now I’m not sure of my estimation, because once we had problems with water for 3 days and they told us to go anywhere we wanted, and they never gave us higher than the 3rd floor. Both rooms looked as they were empty for a long time, because of the dust. On Sports day it was almost empty and they didn’t give breakfast.
Asked about foreign visitors, Miguel wrote: ”I saw foreigners but wasnt like full of them, mostly Indians. I didn’t see any organised group from Russia. I wasn’t there in new year (I left the place for one week and came back). Russians, russians more russians even more russians, also russians (most of them female with a really interesting psychological profile), a few south africans, a family from Argentina, a few americans of both sex and no more than 8 from north european countries, also some australians but I’m not sure of that because they didn’t want to talk. They had there an “airport” for small planes near the city, few years ago it was working but now looks abandoned. Everything looks old and wasted and the water problems inside the flats, but the gardens look good, and if you compare with the ultra dirty india is like a paradise of silence and clean.
At first I wanted to speak with everybody to get as much information as I can, but they are really clever and wary and every time I stopped to speak with anybody of the organization one of their spies call to somebody that came “friendly” to listen everything and to speak with me, giving perfect answers for everything but artificial, because same questions to different people got the exact same words. Photography is prohibited but I took some of the statues, but sadly I couldn’t do it more than few days because they started to control me (I took pics clicking without looking but they aren’t stupid).
All of the shops were open and focused on russian customers, they even speak few words and they have a man that speaks the language perfectly. They are traders in gold, silk and only few sell pictures or stickers about SB. Maybe they are changing their business model: In russia they are really famous and they spend a lot of money, as I can see in the business around the place (they sell a lot of fake jewelry for few hundreds of dollars that worth maybe 20$, also fake silk and perfumes). There you can find a supermarket with everything you can need and a looooot of small business with DVD, food, also a cash machine the state bank of india and few companies as one electrical one, etc.
Asked about the volunteers – the Seva Dal – and who does the labour there, Miguel replied “Mostly the elderly but also there are some young people. In the canteens I only saw rich russians working, but for cleaning they have poor girls. Yes, I found Seva Dals, but I only remember men.”
Everything has degenerated and changed for the worse, it certainly appears, for now that the cat is away, the mice can play. Nothing is heard of the once thriving Brindavan ashram at Whitefield these days, though it is devoid of foreign visitors. The Whitefield Sathya Sai College for Boys is off the map – not even traceable on the Internet, it still exists but no information about it is found.
I recommend reading the informative comments made to the above news!