The murders again – 1993 in Sai Baba’s private quarters
Posted by robertpriddy on August 2, 2009
Happy in my faith in the widely proclaimed divine goodness of Sathya Sai Baba, backed by many years of experience of him that was mostly positive, I could not believe that he could have had any part whatever in the six murders that were committed in June 1993. In line with Sai Baba’s own directions, my faith was so unquestioning that I accepted, in the main, the mostly irrelevant statements he made in the admittedly vague and rambling discourse some weeks later. Written instructions were sent out by leaders of the Sathya Sai Organisation not to question or discuss anything about the incident, but to ignore it and rather concentrate on oneself and ones own spiritual practice. Such instructions came from Indulal Shah, Central Office and Chairman of the Western hemisphere of the Organization, Dr. Michael Goldstein. Goldstein’s letter to devotees was a confused emotional outburst, but I already knew from friends of mine who knew him very well that he is a wholly unreliable person.
I knew virtually nothing about the circumstances at that time, and learned mostly only the carefully contrived bits of Sai Org. ‘information’ (disinformation, actually, including both cynical and unwitting indoctrination). This is all very well, if you care nothing for the victims and their families, for justice or for the truth of the matter. The old excuses, ‘only Swami knows the reason’ and the faith that God does only what is good, any bad is done by us soon beguiled nearly all followers. Devotees do just not want to know and still accept unquestioningly any cover-up by the ashram officials, the police, the Andhra Pradesh State authorities and the Indian Government (through the then Home Minister of the Indian Government, S.B. Chavan). In 1995, at the 70th birthday celebrations. I began to hear about the actual episode from a high-standing Indian Administrative Service Vigilance Officer and Sai devotee, Mr. V. Ramnath. He told me that a close colleague from his college days had been personally involved in the early investigations. The entire account was so shocking and so many confusing points remained unanswered that it seemed impossible to evaluate what was false witness and what genuine. In trying to piece together the evidence so as to see who might be responsible and what motives the various involved persons could have had, I set about getting inside information from persons whose judgement and honesty I could really trust, especially Sai Baba’s editor and my close friend and lifelong journalist, V.K. Narasimhan. This I collated with the many press reports. Eventually the invaluable book by B. Premanand (Murders in Sai Baba’s Bedroom’) provided a mass of documentary transcripts and other evidence which helped me to understand how massive was the cover-up to protect Sathya Sai Baba and his brother.
According to V.K. Narasimhan’s private confidences, the police were forced to shoot the four alleged assailants in cold blood by top officials of the ashram and the Central Trust, not least Sai Baba’s own younger brother, Janaki Ramiah, is known to me from an extremely reliable inside source, V.K. Narasimhan, who was on daily speaking terms with Sathya Sai Baba throughout the incident and until his death in March 2000. I have given detailed accounts of my long discussion and close friendship with VKN, his observations of and opinions on Sathya Sai Baba and his revelations to me in confidence about the murders. My conclusions after much thought and investigation was that – despite the uncertainties left by the conflicting layers of cover-up and misinformation spread by Sai officials and Sai Baba himself, he was an accomplice to cold-blooded murder.The murders were never ‘officially’ solved, the investigations having eventually been quashed by the Indian Government in accordance with the ashram’s expressed wishes. The 840-page book, ‘Murders in Sai Baba’s Bedroom’, written and compiled by the skeptic B. Premanand, exposes the crimes by presenting publicly known facts and their possible significance, including court petitions by Premanand himself and official depositions, plus a vast array of newspaper reports, 16 pages of color photos covering the bloody crime scene, and other relevant materials.
Many facts were left uninvestigated or covered up and prime witnesses were left unquestioned, including Sai Baba, who was present close to the scene of the murders throughout, but who never later answered any questions from the press or investigators on the episode (unless he did so in strict secrecy in private to Government officials, as remarks made in public by the then Home Minister and Indian President indicate). On the contrary, Sathya Sai Baba later attacked the Andhra Pradesh journalists in the most derogatory and libelous fashion and was never held to account for this, despite their well-founded complaint to the requisite Press Council. He simply has too much money and other kinds of clout among those who determine things in India to answer to anyone at all! The press did their best but were contending with a tight criminal conspiracy of secrecy. The press managed to uncover many circumstances anyhow.Despite the largely very successful cover-up within much of India so far, which relied for its effectiveness partly on the ashram power-brokerage and reported massive bribery – but also on the encouragement of confusion and hearsay of the typical Indian sort – the issue refuses to lie down and die, even within the worldwide Sai movement. There have been many indications of seriously falling numbers of foreign visitors to functions and falloff in members, recruitment and donations in many countries. No statistics are kept concerning this in the Sai movement (unless secretly).