Smear Campaign against critics of Sathya Sai Baba
Posted by robertpriddy on August 11, 2008
An observing public may wonder about those countless diatribes frequently posted against former Sathya Sai Baba followers who have spoken out. Sometimes there are what appear to be reasoned points made in articles, but which are based on assumptions not founded in fact and wilful efforts to mislead and contrive bogus arguments. In both cases various technical methods for dissemination are used, to which I shall refer shortly.
There is a marked difference between these pro-Sathya Sai Baba offerings and those of many former devotee writers such as Brian Steel, Timothy Conway Ph.D, Barry Pittard and myself. Constantly accusing people of lying without producing evidence or convincing reasons why a lie is involved, not just a minor slip – that is a smear campaign! Yet in innumerable references on the Internet that is exactly what is constantly and repeatedly charged against one after another of those who have dared, no matter how heavy the attacks, to dissent from Sathya Sai Baba. The two chief offenders are Gerald ‘Joe’ Moreno and Lisa de Witt.
Several lawyers and not least webmasters of major portals (eg. zoominfo.com, Steve Hassan etc.) who have looked at the attacks by Sai Baba’s proxy defenders on the Internet have said that their content is defamatory and the attacker is completely out of order. No one who takes the ethical and spiritual teachings of Sathya Sai Baba at all seriously would be able to commend their writings. The poverty of their accusations is sufficient to expose them for what they are, but says virtually nothing about those who they make their targets.
It means nothing to the proxy defenders of Sathya Sai Baba and his Organization that so many were once, and for many years, respected selfless workers and leaders of the Sathya Sai Organization, like Al Rahm, Rick Raines, Serguei Badaev, Stephen Carthew, Shirley Pike, Conny Larsson, David Bailey, Terry Gallagher and scores more. This very fact is partly why major reputed bodies and institutions such as UNESCO, the US State Department and the BBC have been prepared thoroughly to investigate and support the accounts as coming from many creditable sources in various countries of the world.
To demonstrate on reasonable and considerable evidence or testimony from third parties does not qualify as a smear campaign – it is reporting in the public interest as a civic duty. In the case of Sathya Sai Baba’s many deceptions, conflicting statements, failed ‘divine’ plans and predictions, broken promises, published falsities and untruths critical reporting and analysis are essential. One who claims to be perfect, all-knowing, all-powerful, all good and unaffected by the criticism of any living soul should be able to take it. One who has become so rich on vast donations from many countries could litigate against critics if they were dishonest. Yet he has lied about his accusers as being paid to criticise him, and he has issued dire warnings and threatened action (November 2007). But he has no case and has everything to lose from the public scrutiny that would follow. The same applies to all his monolithic, unaccountable and autocratic institutions.
Dirty tactics Two main pro-Sai Baba mudslingers’ way of smearing through ad hominem arguments (i.e. attacking the player, not the ball) is to make constant claims of ‘blatant lying’ or deceit against opponents. The slightest factual error is presented as a ‘blatant lie’, which is of course wholly unreasonable. These assailants repeat the very same words again and again on countless web pages, blogs and bulletin boards in the hope that some dirt will stick. The main defender has several anonymous blogs, which are most obviously his, despite his attempts at denial that he wrote them, even though they are mostly copies of his other postings of the same or very similar materials on websites he acknowledges are his. This assailant’s rancorous claims do not face central issues fairly and squarely. Being unwilling and unable to face the serious evidence and welter of soundly-based and documented accusations, they mostly attack the messengers who bring that evidence. Thus they tacitly admit that they are involved in a cover-up – trying to avert attention to side-issues and trivial matters hoping to confuse the debate and mislead any uninformed readers. They produce no sound point by point evidence against critics of Sai Baba, although they sometimes strive to give the appearance of it. When their superficial statements are refuted – however civil the manner – with documentation and/or independent testimony, they never change their wilfully posted false information or make any apology. This underlines their calculated malice. Perhaps less calculated are their taunts like characterising critics as ‘whining’, ‘frothing at the mouth’, ‘bozos’ and other such indicators of their educational failures and their personal incivility and spite.
Unconscionable attacks on many alleging sexual abuse survivors: Their merciless attentions are lavished on all who have testified to sexual abuse and other serious crimes by Sathya Sai Baba (see list below). Although almost all former devotees who have been attacked consider the slurs below contempt, no matter how horrible many of them are, some of them and other prominent dissenters have replied to certain vital points (see list below).
Though some minor errors or unclear statements have been made by serious critics from time to time – invariably corrected later where possible – no dishonesty has ever been proven, certainly no lies! Besides, those who call others liars have the burden of proof, not the accused. It is possible to prove a lie (intentional telling of untruth), but it requires very rigorous evidence to prove it was intentional, as libel rulings in most countries demonstrate. Attackers of the exposé are unable to produce any reliable testimony or published third party evidence to support their case against critics, and almost never show independent documentation from the public sphere, while critics of Sathya Sai Baba constantly do so, not least from many of Sathya Sai Baba’s own published writings, discourses and authenticated reports on his statements.
Contesting and throwing suspicion of everything and anything: Virtually every critical statement of fact by over a hundred testifying witnesses, independent journalists, film-makers, researchers, disaffected former followers of Sathya Sai Baba and alleging survivors of sexual abuse and other abuses is contested and cast into doubt, or called a deception, a flagrant lie and so on. Such obsessive denial with contrived and strongly-worded accusations also is witness to cultist, typically seen in other areas too, attempts to stifle criticism.
The same goes for their puerile claims that key former devotees are racists, anti-Semitic, anti-Hindu, part of a fundamentalist Christian movement against Sathya Sai Baba (sometimes backed by extremely indirect ‘evidence’- even after it has been refuted by the sources themselves). Some of us have even been baselessly accused of being paedophiles – which is rather the charge against Sathya Sai Baba made by so many courageous survivors of his treatments. It is worth remembering here that four of his student critics did not survive the 1993 police killings in his bedroom, a formally established fact not even his strongest defenders dare refute. (see here)
Character assassination of critics as the main agenda of defense of Sathya Sai Baba: Worse than this is our critics’ constant attempts at character assassination through web stalking by contacting and harassing critics’ families, friends, associates, and employers (such as at universities) – posting their e-mails on attack web pages along with strong condemnations and also disruptive editing on Wikipedia, with endless diatribes and stalking of editors who are negative to them – mainly by two fanatical pro-Sai individuals (both of whom were subsequently banned from Wikipedia indefinitely). Facts about childhood experiences over 60 years ago about which I wrote on a school website are brought out in the form of an attack on my integrity, and likewise my account of other events in my life from over 50 years ago are highlighted as if they happened yesterday. This failure to find any more supposedly ‘revealing material’ to use against me shows up the poverty of his agenda and its compulsive antipathy. The more he writes, the less credible he becomes to any discerning or educated reader who is not a ‘true-believing’ Sathya Sai Baba follower in strong denial .
Serious critics of Sathya Sai Baba will not be drawn into the trap of detailed rebuttal of an endless stream of niggling and purposely misleading side-issues raised to divert attention from the central facts and all that these imply. This is obvious to anyone who takes the trouble properly to read BOTH parties’ own web pages and blogs. To hinder people in so doing, our web pages are copied relentlessly without linking to the source pages (totally infringing copyright). Claiming falsely that they are stopped by our webmasters and even that their links would be redirected to porn sites. That is a standing testimony on-line to our main opponent’s fear of being shown to be constantly in the wrong. Therefore I do not link to them either. Sai critics mostly see no reason to link to such masses of libel and misinformation against all of us as they disseminate.
Evidence ignored, avoided, or rejected out of hand: I already know the predictable nature of the unrelenting false, contrived and vicious attacks by one person on me and on scores of other critics of Sathya Sai Baba, so I seldom visit any of their pages. However, those who monitor those pages regularily and point out certain things when appropriate such as how I am accused of a wide range of deceits and of being and “unaccountable hatemonger”. I am accused of lying about the donations my wife and I made to the Sathya Sai Central Trust (but I have documented most of them), about my long and close friendship with V.K. Narasimhan (though I have posted plenty of documentary evidence, letters to me and notebooks etc. to the contrary – and there is plenty more to come). There is a hair-splitting denial that I can have any kind of ‘collegial’ friendship with Professor Erlendur Haraldsson, who has referenced my writings in lectures and who still visits us in our home. I have reported some of his milder statements about Sathya Sai Baba’s sexuality as reported to him, which I hereby confirm he has made. The attacker has tried to cast doubt on whether I was a leader in the Sathya Sai organization (which is proven fact), whether I wrote the articles I claim for Sathya Sai Baba’s journal Sanathana Sarathi (but they are all documented) and he has cast many other baseless doubts about me, my work, my experiences and my associations without any substantial or even circumstantial evidence.
Earlier, I was constantly attacked tendentiously on Wikipedia, until both the main attackers were banned indefinitely by a unanimous committee. (See here and here) None of the many other meretricious claims against me have stuck – as anyone [except a determined self-deceiver] can discover with a minimum of research.
Among those many critics of Sathya Sai Baba subjected to smears and/or frequent severe character assassination attempts by the main Sai defender on the Internet there are academics, professionals, journalists, and other persons of good repute (most formerly involved with Sathya Sai Baba and numerous ex-leaders of his organization). The attack pages are linked to by Sathya Sai Baba cult websites, boosting their rankings. Countless baseless character smudges, and invented slanderous scenarios and/or web stalking by the full-time Sai defender can be found via Google by searching any of the following names:-
List of name of critics of Sathya Sai Baba all attacked by the same person on behalf of Sathya Sai Baba
Robert Priddy, Barry Pittard, Timothy Conway Ph.D (author and scholar), Brian Steel (author and scholar), Kevin R.D. Shepherd (author and scholar), Serguei Badaev, Al Rahm, Alaya Rahm (BBC testifier to sex abuse), Tal Brooke (author), Duncan Roads (journalist, editor of Nexus) Conny Larsson (Swedish actor), Mick Brown (UK journalist, Daily Telegraph), Ojvind Kyro/Øjvind Kyrø (Danish journalist), Vir Sangvi (Indian newspaper Editor and journalist), Marianne Warren Ph.D (academic and author), M. Alan Kazlev, Mary Garden (Australian author), David Bailey (former top Sai Baba favourite), Faye Bailey, Elena Hartgering (accredited abuse counsellor), Basava Premanand (famous sceptic honoured by the Indian Government), Alexandra Nagel (academic), John Purnell (Roman Catholic priest), Terry Gallagher former head of Sathya Sai Organization of Australia), Stephen Carthew, Sanal Edamaruku (President – Indian Rationalist Association), Reinier van der Sandt, Hans de Kraker, Marc Andre Saint-Jean (author and publisher), Lisa Tice, Diana Scott, Dave Lyons, Gabriel Merrun, Sanjay Dadlani, Afshin Said Khorramshahgol, Ullrich Zimmermann, Jens Sethi, Dennis Hanisch, Keith Ord, Jesper Andén, Jed Geyerhahn, Sharon Purcell, Satch Purcell, Greg Gerson, Mark Roche, David Paul, Karen Tilley, Paul Throne, Marcus Martenson, Veronica Isacsson, David Juliano, Rosalia Malagelada de Neves and many more.
Dissent From Guru Cults Draws Slander and Harassment
Demonization of Dissenters:
Evidence of an Internet Activist in Action
See On Disinformation and Internet Vandalism
Bias against Sai critics – article by author Kevin R.D. Shepherd
The chief pro-Sai cult activist can be evidenced as having association with, and having been assisted by, important members among Sathya Sai Baba’s servitors. See ‘The International Sathya Sai Organization – an accessory to a massive libel and disinformation campaign
See also ‘Open letter to the Prasanthi Council – c/o Dr. M. Goldstein, Dr. G. Venkataraman and its other members’
Timothy Conway PhD was president of the large San Francisco center and a liaison-consultant for Northern California in the early to mid-1980s), as well as a long-time member of Santa Barbara, CA, Sai Center since 1988. His response is a model of decency, refusal to espouse the tactics of the assailant and inordinate patience. Key readings are:-
Timothy Conway’s Update
Formal statement by Timothy Conway concerning the Hislop letters
Timothy Conway PH.D confirms the Hislop letters
See An article in which Timothy Conway outlines many key issues, in historical perspective.
Public Petition for Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and his Worldwide Organization
View ex-follower signatures
(Spanish version PETICIÓNPÚBLICA PARA INVESTIGACIONES OFICIALES)