Sathya Sai Baba Deceptions Exposed

Exposing major deceits by guru Sathya Sai Baba in India, incl. murders cover-up & widely alleged sexual abuse

Sai Baba censorship of facts, spreading of half-truths and untruth

Posted by robertpriddy on September 13, 2009

Persons mature and fearless enough openly to discuss awkward facts in a helpful and constructive spirit are in great dearth almost everywhere and no less so in Sathya Sai Baba’s ashrams and organization. Sheepishly following is a trait well known in such communities, which are largely self-contained groups with their own internal dos and dont’s, and they invariably enforce strict self-censorship towards the public media. This marks the Sai movement today very strongly, particularly since year 2000 when the major sexual abuse allegations came out against Sai Baba. Genuine free discussion was never a feature of the organization, but it has virtually closed down. Not last the BBC World documentary ‘The Secret Swami’ has made the leaders extremely wary of allowing the media any access to their cult.

Unspoken prohibitions are a chief way of controlling information and – when not observed – they are eventually enforced by officials and leaders. Members and former leaders have been excluded for this reason. The ‘group pressures’ also invariably work to defend against suspicion or criticism leveled at the guru from outside, and when this comes from within, the censorship and censure can be very strong. Many Sathya Sai Baba followers who remain today brush unfortunate facts under the carpet with some gusto, believing that they become better devotees and increase their chances of receiving grace in one or another form, and it does in general work that way.

The reverse of all this is growing disaffection among those who are most suppressed by this system within it, while the ‘outside world’ finding its criticisms unanswered feels all the more that its suspicions may be justified. Sai Baba minimises the importance of facts about any worldly events as passing phenomena and rather emphasizes personal self-investigation and improvement. He has often told how sinful he considers talk of a kind that is other than constructive, like loose gossip and spreading rumour. He even calls such talk ‘evil’ or ‘a great sin’.Yet he is a major talker himself, and constantly spreads unbelievable claims of all kinds, fantastic stories, prophecies and rumours in ‘private’ interviews – which are always leaking out, as he knows they will. A wide selection of such documented ‘stories’ can be viewed here.

Sai Baba warns his followers not to enter into arguments with others about spiritual matters or about his nature and mission… and to do so can lead to immediate exclusion from the ashram and also the Sathya Sai Organization. This is both an attempt to control gossip and needless conflict, but at the same time it would put him and all his doings beyond the pale of any kind of scrutiny, at least by those who believe in him. Most people today who have at least basic education often expect open debate with a free exchange of opinions and frank critical evaluations.

Everyone who stays at – or even visits – a Sathya Sai Baba ashram must tread most cautiously both literally and figuratively. The conspiracies of silence and secrecy are enforced on all who enter there so as to keep both ordinary facts and criminal injustices covered-up. All devotees soon get used to the kind of ‘double-accounting’ whereby two versions of the facts exist, one close to reality for insiders who cannot avoid knowing something – and another that conceals the true facts. The ashram authorities hide all potentially destructive information, or – when it begins to leak out – hush it up by any means they can. Not infrequently the only solution they find is to send away all visitors from the ashram on very short notice.

Here are just a few small examples showing to what lengths deceit is taken (i.e. some call it ‘positive publicity’, others mendacious propaganda):-

1) The rounding up of the hundreds of stray dogs which plague the ashrams by entrapping them in nets, when they howl with fear, and transporting them to deserted areas occurs at intervals at Sai ashrams. Any visitor who has the insolence to complain to the office about it is blackballed, even get their cameras smashed by ‘public relations officials’ (as did a Norwegian lady, Mrs. Felicia Fotland in the 1990s when I was present). So much for Prashanthi “public relations” – these officials are known by all who cross their paths, whether wittingly or not, as being very narrow-minded and imperious opinionated small gauleiters with too much power over visitors and residents.

2) The extreme caution in telling anything which might show the ashram or anything to do with it to be less than perfect causes all lecturers to take great care not to say things which they know or consider might displease Sathya Sai Baba. My good friend, V.K. Narasimhan often wanted me to lecture for students. I was chary of this, as I had a critical view of the learn-by-heart and useless traditional educational methods in force at Sai colleges (Narasimhan was himself very disappointed at this and said not one student could ask an independent question or answer other than what they had learned verbatim). At one of his lectures just after the three Americans had been killed in the Museum accident in November, 1990, he cornered me and asked me to speak I had known Michael Oliver, one of the victims of the horrendous accident well. Narasimhan had already held forth about death and loss – but people were clearly most confused as to what it was all about, because he had studiously avoided mentioning that the deaths were due to an accident, the collapse of a huge dome in Sathya Sai Baba’s much vaunted ‘Eternal Spiritual Museum’. It would have been absurd had I not explained how the accident had occurred the day before. Most of the audience were very surprised. Afterwards, VKN told me that I should not have been so direct because “Baba does not like anything of that sort to be talked about”. This explained his reticence, while at the same time, he would speak freely to me in private of what he was unable to publish.

3) Not a single word of critical questioning will be found in countless thousands of official and semi-official Sai Baba publications or web pages and discussion groups (all carefully moderated by self-censoring blind believers) nor in any of the thousands of pages of hagiography by Sai Baba’s favourite authors (present company excluded – indeed, I was demonised after I wrote my very critical revelatory book ‘End of the Dream’).

To censure those who pose normal questions or refuse to be put off with a threatening hiss or an outright avoidance is hardly the way to communicate ideals of truth, love and non-violence, as Sathya Sai Baba claims to do above and beyond any other living soul. Yet he sets the example by himself using angry grimaces, hisses and constant avoidance of answering reasonable or well-intentioned questions when he dislikes them. All who are not confirmed ‘true believing’ devotees will be put off and it calls for courage to question for evidence of wrongdoing and crimes in that proto-totalitarian atmosphere. Of course, any community that fails to allow for healthy feedback will eventually run into difficulties of credibility and in fulfilling its aims, as has occurred with  Sai Baba and his organization where somewhat enlightened persons are involved, especially foreigners from more genuine democracies who are not cowed so easily.

The inexpressible ‘Truth’ of which Sathya Sai Baba ever talks about is one thing. Truth which cannot be expressed should be consigned to silence! Any ‘Truth’ that flies in the face of facts actually hides the greater truth and is of no value at all to any genuine seeker. It can sometimes be very damaging. But above all,  Sai does not wish to deter visitors or counteract good things people may feel about him by letting things be known which show the dark and deceitful side of himself and his ashrams.

Such claims abound in Sai Baba’s own discourses and in the ‘positive propaganda machine’ that Sai Baba institutions are all geared up to. The result is that rumours fly all the faster and the one incredible positive story and fanciful invention after the other becomes as if factual to many devotees just because they are left to flourish, are never refuted by Sai Baba or his staff… except in the most embarrassing or unavoidable extreme circumstances. Sai Baba actually condones and even loves the rumour mill, as long as it is about his miraculous acts and omniscient and total divine power. Left alone, untruth festers. Well-investigated, undeniable ‘negative’ facts need to be brought into the light of day. This multi-billion dollar cult is fighting those who do so by clandestine means and smear campaigns through proxy defenders.

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