Visitors to Sai Baba’s ashrams (4)
Posted by robertpriddy on July 13, 2007
Ashram security and secret surveillance for whom?
All who visit any of Sathya Sai Baba’s ashrams well know from experience how security checks with metal detectors are made on every person, and how every smallest item (however private) is checked and how even the smallest items that could in the wild fantasies be used as a weapon (eg. even computer diskettes, thick cushions etc!) must be deposited elsewhere before one is allowed into ‘the compound’. Anyone can see that there are armed guards with Kalashnikov or Uzi machine guns ready to deploy close to Sai Baba at short notice. To be used against whom? The one who claims that everyone in the world loves him?
Few who visit, however, are aware that they are under constant surveillance by numerous paid undercover agents, employed by the ashram and paid from the apparently bottomless funds available through the Central Trust. Almost anything one says anywhere in the ashram (or even outside it) that can be picked up can be – if at all suspicious – be reported by snoopers, and by the average of 500 unpaid volunteers for the Seva Dal who also to partake in surveillance precautions since the 1993 grand slaughter in Sai’s own bedroom. They come in groups for a one or two week tour of guard and similar duties, usually for 12 hours of each day, organised on a rotating basis between the states of India. They are brought in shifts from all over India continually to guard Prashanthi Nilayam and now function as a backup to this security system, whether they quite realise their role or not. It is hard to see what kind of ‘Supreme Peace’ (i.e. ‘Prashanthi’) this may speak.
Who is the target of the feared attacks and why assume that there is reason to attack anyone? I shall be detailing these events that are the main turning point in the fortunes of Sai Baba and the reader can investigate my findings and then draw her/his own conclusions! Sathya Sai has many times proclaimed that no one and nothing can harm him. He named his ashram ‘The Abode of Supreme Peace’ (Prashanthi Nilayam). In numerous books blessed by Baba it is stated that visitors to Prashanthi are under the protection of Sai Baba, no harm can befall them etc. The Sathya sai Organization encourages its members to visit the ashrams, often arranging group visits and making their travel arrangements. The information given in advance to newcomers is, in all permitted literature and in talks given about conditions there is seriously lacking in frankness as to certain dangers that can be met, even within the ashrams. All information about deaths therein, murders, suicides, fatal accidents and other untoward incidents is suppressed. Those who have found out, usually by chance or private contacts about such events, have had to rationalise hard to sustain belief in all that Sai promises about his protection and with his much-publicised motto ‘Why fear when I am here?’
In my diary/notebook covering my visit to Puttaparthi in 1995/6, I wrote what V.K. Narasimhan told me on 1/1/1996 exactly as follows: “Sai is spending 50 lakhs a month on his own protection, with 50 private security men in plain clothes in the ashram and within his building, says Narasimhan. Why, if nothing can harm him? Sathya Sai said it was for the benefit of devotees. Why did Sai announce in an interview that he would be killed during an attempt in October 1995?”
The official line, of course, parrots Sai Baba’s sly claim that the massive security is for the protection of devotees… a convenient rebuff to those who begin to ask why the invincible Avatar of the Kali Age might need such excessive protection. Oddly, however, few of the most hardened believers actually deny that it is for protecting Sathya Sai himself, at least since the alleged assassination attempt on him (which he has publicly denied was against him).