Sathya Sai Baba Deceptions Exposed

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

Archive for May 12th, 2011

Phyllis Krystal: Sathya Sai Baba believer

Posted by robertpriddy on May 12, 2011

Phyllis Krystal is a long-standing US devotee of Sathya Sai Baba.  I have met her in Prashanthi Nilayam, as an interview with Sai Baba, again later in London, UK – and also heard her holding forth at a Sai Baba Conference in Hamburg (1992).

She is a proponent of the simplification of spiritual teachings, as her own statement makes ‘krystal clear’:-

Many devotees have been asking me to offer a message to help during this time of deep concern over the present serious physical condition that Baba is undergoing. I have hesitated until now to add to the many messages being circulated around the world, however, I am now feeling an urgency to do so. Baba has taught us repeatedly to “keep it simple“, so that even a child can understand. Let us therefore practise what He Himself has been teaching us for so many years …

 As I shall point out further, her books on ‘cutting ties that bind’ and other such Sai Baba-dictated panaceas are often superficial and simplistic. Krystal’s cue in this case is the premature death under very suspicious circumstances and due to being disconnected from his life-support which held the body alive but not his consciousness, unlike any known revered Indian spiritual figure, yogi or supposed ‘realised’ soul. The simple message is “We are not the body”. Rather amusing, really, since no one can prove that we have “eternal spirits” or that our supposed shared divinity in unimaginable realms that no one can describe frees our reputations from anything “we” did in the body…  such as widely reported, in Sai Baba’s case, major predatory sex abuse and pedophilia. Phyllis Krystal replied – after the 1999 storm broke – to a questioner about those accusations on the lines that “Either you believe he is God or not.” If the former – as she holds – then he could never be held to account for anything he chose to do as it was for the ultimate good! This is the kernel of Sathya Sai Baba defenders’  reasoning… not exactly plausible, not morally defensible, nor in any way based on any provable facts… hence, irrational belief (which itself requires psychological and other kinds of explanations).

In her hagiographic book with the excessive title: ‘The Ultimate Experience’ – publ. Samuel Weiser Inc ) she relates how Sathya Sai Baba had told her she was suffering not from one headache, but five headaches’. She had written there that she went some kind of intensification of her symptoms while with Sathya Sai Baba, which she interpreted as being a part of the treatment.

She was a speaker at the Sathya Sai Hamburg Conference in 1992 and was asked point blank from the audience whether Sathya Sai Baba had now cured her of all her crashing headaches. She hesitated for a bit, then said that he had. However, when later visiting Lucas Ralli and his wife with my wife at their home in Bayswayer, London, he came to mention that she was in constant need of pain killers for her headaches and I was taken aback. He was the Central Coordinator of the Sathya Sai Organization for UK & Ireland until he was unceremoniously kicked out for speaking his mind, but a close friend of Mrs. Krystal, who stayed with him sometime during UK visits.  So I asked if she had not been cured, but he confirmed that she still suffered greatly from this. This incident – many years after her supposed healing by Sai Baba and long after the Hamburg Conference. To dissemble and lie outright to defend her guru-God shows how even privileged devotees fear to tell negative facts that might raise doubts in listeners’ minds!  Lucas Ralli and his wife were close to her and they assured me that she was still taking large doses of pain killers for her headaches. This incident is a telling example, to be afraid to tell a Sai devotee public that he had not been able to cure her as he had promised. This kind of deceit is frequent among Sai followers as I learned from 18 years as a leader to whom many would apply for advice etc.

Phyllis Krystal

There is no use in putting questions to such a person as Phyllis Krystal, she has pat answers to almost everything – the Sai Baba parrot phenomenon again – all developed through her doubtful and often most ‘testing’ experiences with Sai Baba and his devotees. When I heard Mrs. Krystal speak in London (as a Ralli-organised meeting), she said during her replies to questions that ‘Swami sometimes answers through me’, which immediately made me suspicious, because of the way in which she said it and the context etc. My immediate reaction to her was that I was struck by the patent falsity of her very controlled voice (but with a recognisable British whine under the gushing US patina), and her general kind of self-projection… I think someone whose life was virtually empty but for talking and writing and being admired as a Sai devotee supreme. Apropos, her host, Lucas, was an ‘officially-recognised’ channel for Sai Baba, his ‘Messages for You and Me’ in five volumes were accredited by Sathya Sai Baba in an interview (it was claimed)! I can well imagine that there was some competition mentality with Lucas there… not least because Shah had tried to cut her out of the Sai movement, warning all Org. leaders that she was not (and still is not) a member of the Sai Org., but Lucas was then the UK President (later Central Coordinator for UK). She fitted into the Ralli/Peggy Mason/Ron Laing circle because of all the mediumistic stuff they all loved (messages from the dead, ghosts, angels etc.) and she produced some fantastic fancies herself – about being shown by the Lord how Russia was under the darkest cloud on earth etc. and suchlike. Rather the kind of dreams that so many Sai Baba followers take quite literally (i.e. not least by the hagiographer Rita Bruce with her ‘message from Swami’ of the destruction of the US by germ warfare and earthquakes etc. as reported in her first book). All these people are prime exponents of spiritual doublethink and what might be called self-hypnosis.

Another example at the Bayswater meeting: After her set piece, Krystal offered to field questions. One question from the rear of the hall put by a young Englishman was whether Sai Baba accepts homosexuals or disapproves of homosexuality. Phyllis Krystal took her time and then claimed she felt she had received a reply from Swami himself, something she sometimes strongly intuits is the case. The answer was that he loves everyone and therefore does not exclude homosexuals… that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. This claim to be a channel for Sathya Sai Baba has been constantly made by hundreds – if not thousands – of devotees, including the host of the meeting, Lucas Ralli, who got published several books of his own “Messages from Sai Baba” books. However, Phyllis Krystal either did not know or had forgotten that Sai Baba has condemned homosexuality in no uncertain terms! It is obvious to many of us why he did so…

Further, Dutch Matthijs van der Meer talked with Mrs Krystal about the sexual abuse matter. He wrote about his meeting with her in his article in Spiegelbeeld October 2000, in which he testified to having been subjected involuntarily to ‘oiling’ by SB himself, and he related how Keith Ord had told him how Ord’s friend Michael Pender was forced into oral sex by Sai Baba and later took his own life in the UK. Van der Meer had visited Lucas Ralli and talked with him about his own, Ord’s and Pender’s experiences, years before the The Findings exposé appeared, with no satisfying results, so Van der Meer investigated further as follows:

“It just seemed too atrocious to be possibly true. Meanwhile many months had elapsed since I had begun to turn myself to whichever Sai author into whose hands I could manage to place a letter… – …When in May ’96 Sandweiss visited the Netherlands I took the opportunity to personally thrust a copy of my former letter into his hands. But still he wouldn’t answer. Yet the trouble was not taken in vain. Some people from the organisation spotted my action, and as if by the grace of Baba in October ’96 a meeting with the then 81-year old Phyllis Krystal was arranged for me. She affirmed to both Baba’s intimidations and the cover-up of it by the organisation. With the proviso that she refrained from drawing any conclusions. It could be sensed how she groped for clues with regard to the divine explanation for which I myself had once been looking so hard as well. And so I contended that all things considered, no rational support whatsoever was left for distinguishing Sai Baba from a criminal (for how was one to escape the implication that on the given basis even Hitler and Nero could have been avatars!). “Even if in our hearts we believe Swami”, I argued, “in our behaviour we should doubt Swami because that’s our moral duty in a situation like this.” But even though she admitted to the logic of my ethics, Krystal kept evading to take the consequences of it.While saying goodbye she promised to let me know as soon as any further insights would come about. Yet of the grue­some ‘insights’ to which revelations would give cause in the years to come, she was not to give notice. Even though she hardly could have missed the work by Da­vid Bailey, a Sai-VIP from her own circle of acquaintances.”

Comment:- Interesting that she didn’t refute it out of hand. She did have a fairly sophisticated way of dealing with questions, but none the less deluded for all that! Her millionnairess lifestyle fitted badly with the role SB gave her as a lecturer on ‘Ceiling on Desires’ – while in Copenhagen she lived at the very most expensive super-luxury hotel (declining devotees’ invitations to stay)! I was struck by the complete disinterestedness in SB of her husband, even at an interview (where both of them and I were present, in 1987) and at the Hamburg Sai Conference. He looked very much like Oliver Hardy (but with white hair and glasses) and was merely accompanying Phyllis! Rather odd that he remained so unaffected while his wife was a fanatical believer if ever there was one!

Her books are just the kind that I really could not stomach from the word go!  They are amateur pseudo-psychology of the self-help kind, based entirely on her subjective ideas about what people need to do to free themselves from the “ties that bind” them, an Americanised ‘positive thinking’ of the ‘drop your hang-ups’ kind based very much on what Sai Baba says. Its sickly spiritual semantic coating and constant implicit reliance on the quite shallow and always vague and anecdotally-based religious ‘doctrine’ of Sai Baba about personal growth and supposed ‘spiritual development’ towards self-realization and the eternal liberation of moksha or nirvana amount all too readily to a programme for voluntary self-indoctrination. Some people may find some relief through the more intelligent parts, but Krystal fails to strike the balance between reality and fantasy. In a sovereign manner, she side-steps all that has been learned through the last century in countless researches and the fruits of experiences with many forms of psychological therapy worldwide! She presents her ‘cutting ties’ and related inventions as if they were the ultimate answer, all stemming from her supposedly infallible God-guru’s unworldly and impossibly unrealistic and speculative teachings. Though I am not any longer a paid-up believer in Freud, Reich, Adler, Jung and co., I think that – in their many deficiencies – they are less dangerous than the self-denial and refutation of unpleasant experience in the New Age fashion that Krystal purveys. I have come to regard much of the kind of ‘inner work’ she teaches as pseudo-spirituality for impressionable people who are too hung up on a fantasy world and an imagined possible purity of psyche and release from all human suffering, but seldom really productive of authentic self-knowledge or spirituality in everyday life. In my view, Krystal’s failure to keep her promise to update such an anguished person as van der Meer evidently was never even to contact him again. This kind of behaviour is typical of many Sai VIPs and speaks of anti-spiritual disregard of others or even suppressed self-doubt and gutlessness.

Dr. John Hislop wrote in one of his infamous clandestine letters to Sai officials (which he required that all recipients should destroy! But one set of copies did survive: see here). In one of these we read: “Directors Bayer, Goldstein, Krystal and myself have been going over and over the problem as we were talking together this weekend. Let me first say what we are not able to explain. There are two ways for us to respond to these horrible stories about Sri Bhagavan. One is to believe Sri Bhagavan when He says the stories are totally untrue, and the other is to believe the stories. If our decision is to not believe the stories, then the question arises as to what moves so many people to say these false stories. This question we are quite unable to answer.”

This shows how well Phyllis Krystal knew of the sexual abuse revelations very early on and CHOSE not to believe them. No investigations, no duty of care, simply denial. She told some devotees who questioned her that either they believed Sathya Sai Baba is God Incarnate or not. If so, they had to accept that there is no truth in such allegations, and has otherwise implied that there may alternatively be another explanation for those actions. The following was stated by Conny Larsson of the Sathya Sai Organization ‘VIPs’:- “…many of the victims have personally talked by phone to these people, when we tried to understand what was happening with us, but they all told us that this was “Divine” and we had to put up with it. We have talked to leaders as the American leaders dr. Goldstein, Phyllis Krystal, Hal Honig, Jagadeeshan, Gruber, Piculell, Meyer etc. and many, many others. They have all expressed the same opinion “it’s divine”

All one can fairly say, perhaps, is that Phyllis Krystal’s kind of self-deceit is to protect her faith and all that she has invested her life in for decades. This does not condone it, for it covers over a multitude of sins – those of Sathya Sai Baba,  whose promises are supposed to be as cast in iron and whose healing is infallible etc. After her husband1s death, Mrs. Krystal’s house was shattered by the Californian earthquake in the ’90s, making her homeless, along with her deceased huband’s lifelong collection of crystal glass reportedly worth much more than $1 million. (Odd fixation on crystal/Krystal!). As she describes in detail in her book ‘The Ultimate Experience’, Sathya Sai Baba had himself told her to move to that house, after she had prayed constantly for a very long time and repeatedly asked him whether she could move house! Eventually he had given the go-ahead verbally to her. Devotees, in their great wisdom, regard such things as a boon from Sathya Sai Baba! A test on which to grow! It helps one to detach from worldly things and prepare for the final detachment! This reasoning, when taken to its conclusion means it is a boon when anything or anyone is destroyed, relatives are lost etc., because it prepares one for death! All very acceptable and faith-inducing, no doubt!

Phyllis Krystal has written a large number of  books about self-healing, books which have sold very well in the New Age marketplace from which she must have made a lot of money.

Krystal, Phyllis: 1985: Sai Baba – The Ultimate Experience, Los Angeles, Aura Books. [Reprinted by Samuel Weiser, 1994]
— 1993: Cutting the Ties that Bind, York Beach, Samuel Weiser.
— 1993b: Cutting More Ties that Bind, York Beach, Samuel Weiser.
— 1994: Taming Our Monkey Mind. Insight, Detachment, Identity, York Beach, Samuel Weiser.
— 1995 Cutting the Ties that Bind Workbook, York Beach, Samuel Weiser.
— 1995b: Reconnecting the Love Energy, Don’t By-Pass Your Heart, York Beach, Samuel Weiser.

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Jana Vignana Vedika demonstrates Sai Baba ‘miracles’

Posted by robertpriddy on May 12, 2011


This latest in a long line of exposers of fraudulent “miracles” can be viewed performing most of Sai Baba’s famous ‘miracles’ on Indian TV. The commentary is not in English, but the video is watchable. There have been many who can replicate Sathya Sai Baba miracles, not least Dr. Abraham T. Kovoor, who demonstrated  holy ash or vibuthi “materialization” in front of Sathya Sai Baba and was angrily thrown out of the interview. He did this, of course, to show that it is an easy conjuring trick. Even some of his students have simulated the vibuti manifestation in a joking way (see video clip).

Often followers of Sai Baba have themselves gained a following through claiming to produce the ‘holy ash’ (vibuthi) or other small objects typically and allegedly “materialized” by Sathya Sai Baba, many claiming the power was invested in them by Sathya Sai Baba himself. This has always been strongly denied by Sathya Sai Baba and a considerable number of these have been denounced by special announcements in Sathya Sai Baba’s official journal Sanathana Sarathi through the years.  There was one producer of ash, rings and pendants in Mauritius described at length by R. Lowenberg in his hagiographic writings, and another in Bangalore who gave vibuthi to hundreds of Sai devotees and claimed to have been saved from a large number of heart attacks by Sathya Sai Baba himself. Another person who profits enormously in this way is a Jewish Cockney Stephen Turoff in Southend calling himself ‘Dr. Khan’ (a discarnate spirit guide he ‘channels’) who surrounds himself with Sai symbols and photos – pretends Sai miracles occur there – and who does psychic surgery healing and produces ash etc. The number of these ‘false prophets’ or whatever they claim they are is not small… there are just too many to keep track of.

All who have followed events for the last few decades will know that imitators are many. One example is an impostor in Canada who claims to be an intermediary of Sai Baba, officially denounced in the May 2002 issue of Sanathana Sarathi (p. 161) and further rebutted and warned against in detailed length in May 2003 (inside rear cover).  In Canada, under the name of ‘Ken’ a Japanese Sai Baba devotee who made many fantastic claims about visits from both Shirdi and Parthi Sai Baba in his home (as reported at length by the uncritical  Sai hagiographer R. Lowenberg in one of his early books, probably ‘The Grace of Sai’) . Ken had a room in Puttaparthi where he gave objects or letters to devotees (including Rick Prescott of Sydney) which he said Sai Baba had brought him by walking out of his picture on his private shrine! There was a young boy known as Sai Krishna who caused a stir in southern Indian by apparently materializing “vibuthi“. Dr.Narasimhaiah’s committee exposed Sai Krishna, a 7 year old child-protege of Satya Sai Baba, by pulling out the packet of Vibhuti hidden in Sai Krishna’s underclothes. [Author’s Note: in the Blitz interview, SB denies any connection with that boy, even without giving any proof] […] the committee requested him [Sai Baba] to allow them an investigation. When they visited him, a terrified Satya Sai Baba locked himself up in his Whitefield residence, close to Bangalore. All he could do was spew helpless vitriol at the Narasimhaiah committee.”

What the uninitiated take without questioning to be miracles of fantastic psychic abilities, not least very detailed mind-reading are done by so-called ‘Cold reading’. It  is amazing to people who do not know about it. It has been demonstrated by the famous initiator of neuro-linguistic programming Milton Erickson. The young illusionist Derren Brown is famous throughout UK (and increasingly in the rest of the world) because of his feats of cold reading (plus suggestion, misdirection, magic and psychology). He is able to tell intimate details about people he has never met and within a matter of seconds – and has demonstrated this countless times under the TV cameras (and there is no fraud involved at all, as interviews with his staff, his subjects and himself and those ‘behind the scenes’ proves conclusively).

Derren Brown of UK – videos on YouTube – there are many more on his DVDs and of a very wide variety of what seem to be ‘psychic powers’ but which he explains are not that at all. He is a sceptic as to the spiritual powers, but demonstrates what people believe to be such powers like ‘omniscience’ etc.. This is basic learning and sensible re-programming for all followers of gurus and avatars! He uses neuro-linguistic programming and many other techniques which he partly (but not entirely) explains to everyone. He shows the huge extent to which minds can be instantly manipulated by one who knows how.

Derren Brown strongly influences mind and physiology of random persons in a minute
Derren Brown extraordinary mind control demonstration
Derren Brown amazing power of suggestion surpasses martial arts master
The famous ‘zombie’ demonstration – a ‘must see’
Derren Brown wins over 9 top chess players simultaneously
Derren Brown easily transfers thoughts
How does Derren Brown manage this? Interview Stephen Fry on Derren Brown’s amazing illusionism
Aristocrats transparent to Derren Brown
Derren Brown guesses exact sums of pocket money correctly
Derren Brown terrifies a Ghost train operator on his own train ride
Daylight robbery by illusion in New York Subconscious influencing by Derren Brown
Amazing demonstration of perfect rapport
All strength lost through suggestion
Poor self-confidence and colour vision transformed by Derren Brown’s persuasion
Derren Brown gives two girls daylight hallucinations
Derren Brown shows how mediums work!!

Comment on the videos: In many cases people have claimed to have seen Sai Baba change physical appearance totally, even several persons together, but at the same time others have been present who have not seen any change at all. This applies to many accounts of him during public ‘darshan’ – some see haloes, others not and so forth. Now, were these changes (and materializations) real phenomena, then all present would have seen it. Sai Baba does not want anyone to understand his ways, – on the contrary! That is why he has always created a mystery around himself – it began in his early years!

Suggestion can be so powerful as to change people’s states of mind very radically, without more than a few clever words. Derren Brown, for example, can make people picked out of a group on the street or anywhere see and hear things and can find out what they are thinking, exactly what they have on their persons (including written shopping lists in their wallets). He can very quickly induce a state of drunken stupor in a person (showing just how he does it) and turn it on an off with a few words (even words written on a piece or sent by mobile phone message).
Many well-known, respected people and professional psychologists in UK have attested that there is no fraud whatever involve (no fixing of TV sequences or use of stooges). He says openly there are no psychic powers involved, but many techniques he has learned in observing personal psychology, varying means of suggestion, neuro-linguistic programming, misdirection of attention (as in stage ‘magic’ and pick-pocketing, for example) and much else. He explains some of his techniques in detail. He has a tremendous (possibly ‘photographic’) memory too. He has a very wide ‘repertoire’ and much of what he does is more dramatic that Sai Baba is seen to do. But he remains a sceptic about all ’spiritual’ powers, also about mediumism/contacting the dead, which he has reconstructed in a very convincing way, but he explains how and why he is a sceptic. kind of manipulation of perception done by Derren Brown is most impressive and dramatic – and is also intended to be so. My view is exactly the same as to Sathya Sai Baba. He is a showman and manipulator.

Further insight into the secrets of miracle guru fraudsters were discovered at great personal cost by the aspirant to mystical powers, Tahir Shah, who learned many of the secret of illusion from a most difficult ‘master’ of those arts. See  Sathya Sai Baba’s miracles – the veil lifted further

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