This is the final letter in a series by Hislop dealing with the allegations by Mrs. Payne (see her letter here). The first Hislop reaction is here and the second here. The third letter is here, and the final letter is shown below with comments
One can soon see from this letter that it is an attempt to whitewash Sathya Sai Baba’s reputation after the very damaging allegations from a mother as to sexual abuse of her son, and from others who spoke to Hislop about sexual abuse by Sai Baba.
|3.25.81 (see scan of original xerox circular from Hislop and second page) (Note: the annotations were made by Timothy Conway, former President of the San Francisco Sathya Sai Centre).Dear Director,
Both you and members of Sai Centers in your region have learned from trips to India, or from other people in the U.S. that Swami is often the target of attacks which range from physical harm to verbal abuse. For example, not only was there a poison attempt on Him not long ago, but in earlier years He is reported to have been a kidnap victim. That the kidnapers then became His devotees is beside the point. Some five years ago a gang of robbers (dacoits) came to Prashanthi Nilayam with the stated purpose of killing Swami; the police intelligence unit caught them but Swami refused to prosecute. There have been other incidents of a physical nature.
Verbal abuse of Swami is more common than physical attack. The abusers live in foreign countries as well as in India. Probably you received a leaflet from Malaysia claiming that Swami “fakes” vibuthi and materializations. The “fraudulent magic tricks” allegation was in great favor a few years ago and even had some university scientists as participants. In time these accusations subsided.
The attacks seem to come in waves and in series of waves. A few years back Swami was labelled as a “Romeo”, a great lady’s man”. Numerous women claimed that Swami came to their apartments at night and took them to bed. Next came the accusations that He was a homosexual. It seems especially difficult for the attackers to keep life in their homosexual accusation and the current attack seems already to be falling away.
The latest allegation to surface, and I do not know if it will become strong enough to become a wave, is the accusation that Swami is in it for the money and is busy appropriating money for His personal fortune. I have been receiving some letters asking about this. What the nature of the next attack will be, I do not know. Because of the continuing nature of the attacks on Swami it is important that we know something of the background of this situation in addition to having our strong personal faith in Him.
Swami is always surrounded by people, and everything He does is under intense scrutiny. Many people still living have been close observers of Swami for thirty years and more. I am fairly recent — 12 years now, but I have spent considerable time in His company. We who are able to be inside his house and who are vitally interested observers see that Swami’s life is exactly the same as His teaching and that He does nothing for Himself. but spends all of his time and energy in work for the benefit of mankind. So, how and why do these waves of attack arise? It is really very strange, is it not?
It is my theory that the force of creation is outward-going into manifestation, experience and change; whereas the balancing force of discrimination and detachment is inward-going to silence, peace and eternity. Creation is violent, inward stability is peaceful. That which resists a violent current can expect to be battered. He who leads his family or followers upstream, against the tremendous power of a swift-flowing river, seeking to guide them to the source, will seem to be under attack by the current, the wave, the rapids and the whirlpool. Swami says something the same. He pointed out that the Divine person throughout history has been abused and that enemies arise determined to destroy Him. In a lighter vein Swami has mentioned that people do not throw stones at trees laden with fruit.
I recently wrote that some letters to Swami telling Him in detail about the verbal attacks mounted against Him. I asked if He would graciously send His comment. Swami did reply, and in summary said, “Sai is millions of miles away from the devilish passions attributed to Him … As fire consumes all materials, these false stories and false allegations are reduced to ashes by My Divinity … In all ages Divinity was attempted to be discredited with false allegations, but these merely give better shining to the Divinity of the Incarnation as a diamond gets more lustre with each cutting … Rest assured that Sai’s fame can never de diminished by those false stories. Only birds of the same feather will give credence to the false allegations.
Since a few people abuse their own essential Divinity with beastly attributes and activities, how can we expect them also to refrain from also abusing the Divinity of Sri Baba? Those individuals who participate in attacks on Swami’s person and his name are in effect saying that they do not believe Swami is a “Divine Embodiment” of stainless love and purity. Instead, they regard Him as a person of low character and bad tendencies. These people are few in number and they certainly makes some waves, at least temporarily.
The Sai devotees who have direct knowledge of him or faith equivalent to such knowledge are not a problem. Nor are those individuals who believe the gossip about Sai much of a problem for the quite properly run away, and it is not often possible or practical to attempt to bridge the distance to them for they have made their own choice and their own decision. Our problem (as office-holders in the Sai Organization) is with those devotees who are not well acquainted with Swami and who are wavering in their minds about the series of allegations against Him. These latter devotees should have someone available with whom they can talk out the situation and their doubts. Who can this be? Because of time and distance factors it can only be the Officers of a Center. This, dear Director, if you agree that this suggestion is correct then you must educate and provide a good background briefing to the Officers of the Center of your Region. How? One way to start would be to call the President of each of your centers during the reduced-rate evening and week-end hours and read this letter to him or her and answer questions that might follow. As you will know, the reduced-rate charges are very reasonable and inexpensive. You could also tell the President that the other officers are welcome to phone you whenever they find it convenient.
As Council President, I urge you to give strength to the Center Officers in this matter. Should not Sai devotees have an understanding of the situation? The possibility certainly exists that we have not see the last attack. The only way to estimate the future course of events, and we all do it, is to weight the probabilities and act in terms of that which is most probable. As Swami becomes more and more a world-wide personality, those people who find in themselves love and veneration for the Person and Divinity will multiply in numbers. At the same time Swami will come to the notice of some minds who are “anti-Avathar”, or that are disturbed for one reason or another. For this reason is it not possible that attacks upon Swami are more likely to continue that diminish?
I believe it essential that out Center Officers have the benefit of your conversation and instruction to help them maintain balance in the Center Membership. Letters to the devotees will not do, since letters are likely to “escape” and float in every direction without control. I believe you must establish a verbal relationship with the Center Officers in order to properly inform them and educate them about this situation. The Indian Officers can take care of the situation in India, but it is ourselves who must take care of the American situation. I risk yourselves with written communications which you can study and work over, but I dare not enlarge the circle; someplace, amongst people I do not know, there would be a weak link. If you find yourself of the opinion that my thinking in this matter is wrong, please write to me immediately and tell me what you believe would be correct. If you are in agreement, please tell me the results of your conversations with Center Officers, as they are consummated.
Sai Ram (signed) HislopIt is recorded that various attempts were made of Sathya Sai Baba’s life – by a Hindu lady in his younger days who gave him a poisoned snack to test if he was genuine. That other have tried to poison him is difficult to establish, though Hislop confirms a case. These incidents are usually covered up and only come to the ears of those with connections within the ashrams. The most famous case, a decade after Hislop wrote, was the claimed assassination attempt, which his brother Janakiramiah insisted was such, but which Sai Baba denied was such. Six devotees died during the incident, four shot in cold blood by Puttaparthi police in his bedroom. All covered up at the very highest levels in the Indian government and judiciary.
Kidnappers who became Baba’s devotees who accepted employment from him rather than rely on robbery. One of these, known for decades until 1987 as the Prashanthi Nilayam gatekeeper Kumar, was brutally murdered in the ashram in early 1985 because of his really hateful behaviour to people there (esp. the cook at the main Indian canteen). He was seen to beat poor Indians with his watchman’s stick for things like walking a bit out of line during earl morning nagarsankirtan (song procession) He was known by residents for taking money from poor Indian peasants to let them enter the ashram (tens of thousands in small notes were found behind his picture of Baba in his ‘hut’ just inside the main gate ‘gopuram’ when it was cleared after his death). In the early 80s he once even imprisoned a young US lady in his concrete pillbox like hut for over 24 hours. So much for such ‘dacoits turned devotees’. Various sources (incl. an ashram resident) hold that his killer acted in self-defense and rushed to Baba’s feet for forgiveness and Baba gave him money and sent him away somewhere until things had cooled down. It was a hush-hush matter at the ashram and few could find out anything more.
There is apparently no public record of the allegations by women of having been seduced by Sathya Sai Baba (other than this Hislop letter), though it is not hard to believe that some women would have claimed that without there being any truth in it. Such claims are not uncommon in relation to known personalities, whether true or false. One simply cannot tell, not lest since the reports evidently it occurred well before the 1980s. However, the homosexual allegations have a VERY long history, and Sai Baba’s relative avoidance of women and his totally male-dominated environment are long-standing facts.
Sai Baba used the strong image of “burning to ash” which he also relates was done by one of the rishis of Puranic legend, who could supposedly burn people to ash simply using his eyes. He has failed entirely to ‘burn to ash’ the allegations against him, for they are now indelibly printed on his record. Another empty boast he made! Yet further, new allegations have been coming forth from new people all the time and have multiplied from all parts of the world!
Hislop’s shocked denial of the alleged facts meant he would not pursue other obvious leads. These included the numerous Malaysian allegations from 1980 as investigated and found to be true by Mr. Jayaram of Malaysia, by Conny Larsson whose own testimony of having been sexually abused by Sai Baba of which Hislop had previously been personally informed by Larsson, by the well-known reports by Tal Brooke which were never followed up by officials and also by my friend Mark Roche (who was in Indian with the Hislops and the Cowans (1966ish) when he had 11 interviews with SB. Why didn’t Hislop personally contact Terry Scott to see for himself what kind of impression he made? For a leader of a largish organization purporting to convey moral values and defending the truth this was indefensible. Instead, he managed to bury the matter very well for decades, I never even heard of it back in the 80s, but now the corpse has arisen!
Sathya Sai Baba is misquoted by the often inaccurate Hislop, for Sai Baba claims that people DO throw stones at trees laden with fruit. However, his analogy is a double-edged sword, for people also traditionally throw stones at those guilty of sexual misdemeanors and involvement in murders (which are genuinely “beastly attributes and activities” – today still people are stoned to death for such. Critics of Sai Baba, however, are only documenting his misdeeds, untruth and the allegations against him in words… yet, claiming to speak with the voice of Divinity itself, he ranks them as ‘demons’ and ‘Judases’!
The fact is simply this: Hislop was searching with ill-concealed desperation for any figment of an argument to allow him to continue his faith in Sai Baba, without whom he felt his life would become meaningless (yet again, after having already had to leave Maharishi Mahesh yogi and other gurus). This is the very predicament of almost all devotees today, except for those who cannot but admit of the sexual abuses yet try to justify them with a perverse theory about karma and God’s will (eg. Ram das Awle and his supporters). Very few devotees have posted texts trying to deny or – failing that – defend the sexual activities of Sai Baba (like their front man on the www, Gerald Moreno, did for years) They can produce nothing but obfuscations, defamations against the accusers and weak, irrelevant put-downs.
Hislop’s ‘theory’ that “the force of creation is outward-going into manifestation, experience and change; whereas the balancing force of discrimination and detachment is inward-going to silence, peace and eternity” is a wild speculation, of course, based on a lifetime of seeking the truth and cloud-cuckoo land from gurus, all of whom Hislop eventually left until he got to Sai Baba. That creativity is ‘violent’ and never ‘peaceful’ is a shallow and false generalization, of course, but it shows the simplicity of Hislop’s thinking and how he is easily misled by vague ideas and beliefs.
One can see the underlying policy of cover-up throughout these letters, but the final statement rounds this off nicely… “I risk yourselves with written communications which you can study and work over, but I dare not enlarge the circle; someplace, amongst people I do not know, there would be a weak link.“
It appears that none of those contacted disagreed or sent any corrective replies to Hislop. Yet there were “weak links”, to whom we are indebted for the copies of the letters. Moreover, some devotees spoke of these incidents, such as Rita Bruce who asked me around 1996 if I had read the letters. When I said I knew nothing of them, se told me is is far better that you do not see them.