According to one of the official Sathya Sai Baba web sites, a cobra appeared under the cradle of the newborn baby but the child was untouched, as follows:-
“Soon after Satya’s birth the baby was placed on the floor on top of some bedclothes. The cloth around the baby began to move in a peculiar way. The women attending his mother immediately looked under the cloth — there was a live cobra! But the snake did not harm the child. Sai Baba of Shirdi (the previous incarnation of Satya Sai Baba) often appeared to his followers in the form of a cobra. The cobra also is one of the many symbols of Shiva.” Source- http://bhagavat-katha.exactpages.com/saibaba.html
This account was refuted by a report from Arnold Schulman, the Hollywood screenwriter who wrote in his 1971 book ‘Baba’ (Viking Press, New York,), see below.
In recent years I corresponded with an Indian ex-follower of Sathya Sai Baba who had gone to Puttaparti because he knew some Sai students from his country who had been sexually abused and he wanted to investigate the facts. He became completely convinced that it was true, which is also why he contacted me, though he did not wish to have his name publicised due to his position in that society. Many ex-followers do not wish their name to be connected (through the web, for example) with Sathya Sai Baba, whose name came to be a stigma in their eyes and a possible millstone around the neck in wider society. Thus a bogus name is inserted in the scan that follows, which is just one of his discoveries that deserves to go on record.
If this were not enough, Arnold Schulman, who visited Sathya Sai Baba to investigate if he could be what he claimed – and ultimately remained unconvinced – wrote a book in 1971 entitled ‘Baba’ (Viking Press, N.Y.) As Schulman noted:
“One of Baba’s two sisters, however, who claims to have been present at his birth, says that the cobra was not found under the blanket, butseveral hours after Baba was born a cobra was seen outside the house, a sight not uncommon in the village.”
This contradicts several “official” accounts of the cobra event in three very populatr books on Sai Baba’s birth and early years: 1) ‘Baba Satya Sai’ by Ra. Ganapati. 2) ’Easwaramma – The Chosen Mother’ by N. Kasturi, and 3) Volume I of ’Sathyam Sivam Sundaram’, also by N. Kasturi. Schulman also wrote this revealing paragraph: “For every story of Baba’s childhood there are any number of conflicting versions and, at this point, the writer discovered, it is no longer possible to sift out the facts from the legend. For one thing Baba has forbidden his family and devotees to talk about his childhood and ‘they all live in terror of Baba,’ as one of his most devoted followers told the writer. ‘When they do something wrong,’ the devotee said, ‘he won’t look at them or speak to them for days and it’s agony for them …”
The following interesting comment from Cate Murray was received (click on 1 comment below):-
My mother, who died a Sai devotee, tried to publish a children’s book titled, “The Lonely Little Cobra” about a pariah cobra who finds love, companionship, and fulfillment with the baby Sai. Thank God she was unable to publish another book of Sai propaganda!
A very frank comment, generous to readers. This reminds me to point out the believe-anything mentality of most devotees I have known through the decades. The hagiography around Sai Baba is full of imagination and fantastic interpretations of the most commonplace events and statements etc. Professor Kasturi, who I met on several occasions and interviewed, was evidently a very naive person without any known research qualifications, though he once held a teaching post as professor of history (without having a Ph.D). In his ‘official biography’ he hardly mentioned the elder brother – who was the only properly educated member of Sai Baba’s family and was well-placed to have known most of what happened. Kasturi only refers to him in passing in connection with Sai Baba’s schooling and the (among devotees) ‘famous’ letter ‘correcting’ his elder brother in which he boasted about himself. Most likely Sathya would have warned Kasturi not to listen to his elder brother, whose evidence would probably have destroyed the entire childhood mythology.
It is clear from all Kasturi wrote that he had no idea about research, historical or otherwise. He never even achieved an Indian Ph.D., nor did he publish a single research paper, though he was employed for years in a teaching post as ‘professor’ of history. He was instead a born believer in Indian mythology, having been a lifelong follower of the supposed ‘avatar’, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa before he found Sai Baba. The method of his information’ about the birth and childhood of Sai Baba shows an agenda to promote his every claim, never to question anything in the least. His flowery adulation in every other paragraph of the ‘official biography’ ‘Satyam, Sivam, Sundaram’ (Volume 1 being the source of the cobra story) shows his total belief dependency, as do the various incidents in which Sai Baba punished him relentlessly for mistakes of the most minor nature (as detailed in his autobiography ‘Loving God’). As my colleague Professor Erlendur Haraldsson expressed to me when first I met him in Bangalore in 1989 and referred to Kasturi’s writing in a positive way – one cannot rely on Kasturi for accuracy in anything. Haraldsson had then already properly researched the famous (or infamous) claim by Sai Baba of having resurrected Walter Cowan from the dead and had definitively shown from the doctors involved that no such thing had ever occurred and no death certificate had ever been issued. The ‘reporting’ by Kasturi on countless incidents are put in doubt by other sources, for example the incident when young Sai visited shepherds (who he called ‘dacoits’) and his gaping mind-boggled account of the alleged self-healing of Sai Baba in the ‘Shiva-Shakthi’ incident, to mention just two of many similar cases. One has to admire, if nothing else, the chutzpah in Sai Baba’s words to Kasturi when he wanted to publish the first volume of ‘Satyam, Sivam, Sundaram’ to the effect that the time was not ripe and that people would think that he and Kasturi had cooked it all up together. That is the most likely explanation indeed, as the world will also judge… if it should ever become more widely known!