Sathya Sai Baba Deceptions Exposed

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

Sathya Sai Baba ‘teachings’ – part one

Posted by robertpriddy on August 25, 2011

While I was deeply involved in trying to realise the goals of Indian spirituality – seeking further within – I was attracted to the mystery and enigma of Sathya Sai Baba, whose claims were accepted by a very large number of apparently highly educated and realistic people professing high ideals and good values. Much of what he said was infused with very positive and optimistic ‘spirituality’ and succinct moral advice and values that I could already accept, while there was also much fascinating esoteric information which I wished to penetrate as far as possible. I knew that much of this was drawn from Indian religious and mystical traditions, about which I already knew a great deal – having read many of the supposed ‘masters’ and largely embraced the ideas and advice of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and others like him. It was. however, the amazing coincidences and apparently ‘paranormal’ phenomena I experienced in connection with my interest in Sathya Sai Baba that was the trigger for my visiting him through many years – having sufficient interviews with him to give me a sound basis for my further investigations.

I set about trying to practice Sai Baba’s advice – the ‘teaching’ to the full. I soon came up against the problem that his words are very often too vague and ambiguous, also self-contradictory – for clear practical application. During my many years of commitment to the aim of all genuine aspirants – and on the continued requests of Sai Baba’s journal editor V.K. Narashimhan, I wrote in one of my many truth-searching articles in Sanathana Sarathi at a time when I had not fully plumbed the issue to the extent that I have done since. Following Sai Baba’s advice, I had suspended disbelief and eschewed my long training in critical thinking and philosophical analysis. Not until after the final disillusionment about Sathya Sai Baba’s truthfulness and genuineness, did I gradually give these abilities full rein again, with the result that I was continually surprised by how little of his teaching stood up to the process of analytical deconstruction, scientific temper and even sound and well-tried common sense.

One key with which one opens the trap-door and enters the circular labyrinth of his ideas is this:
“the world is but a mental image of the individual. How this happens is a mystery. One can only say, that just as sleep is the cause of dreams, maya or the Basic ignorance is the cause of Creation.” (Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol.9. p.168).
This central part of Sathya Sai’s ”teaching” makes each person isolated from any external reality, livings with their private hall of mirrors. He holds that reality is only what is within us. 
This means, within the mind…even though spiritual teaching tries to convince people that the “true self “ completely transcends the mind. They call it ‘eternal spirit’ or ‘heart’ or ‘universal consciousness’. (Incidentally, consciousness must always be consciousness of something, or else it is not consciousness). However, the fact remains that the human mind is always there as long as we are conscious at all as the medium of everything we experience – for as long as there is life. [Note that claims presented so as to refute this – that consciousness persists after clinical death, and that people have been literally ‘resurrected’ in surgeries after total brain death – are so far not properly documented or scientifically proven. The drug ketamine reportedly recreates all of the phenomena described by ‘near death’ case studies].

Unfortunately, in trying to explain (i.e. rationalize away) some contradictions in Sai Baba’s teaching, I wrote an article in Sanathana Sarathi where I proposed (without taking any critical view towards Sai Baba’s teaching on this) :-

‘What is within is also without. A mirror reflects what images it receives, only in reverse and according to its clarity. This world around us, this interminable universe registers itself in our awareness as inconceivably intricate, eventful and whole. It appears to be massively ‘material’, not mental; it seems to be objective to consciousness and not to be conscious itself. The mind seems powerless to command it or even to penetrate its vastness, limited and localised as we (seemingly) are by the body. Yet because it is ‘absent’ for the mind which does not cognise it, we cannot be fully certain that it is not somehow a projection of mind.’  RP in Sanathana Sarathi, Apr, ’91, p. 101ff )

Further, Sai Baba’s view is that good and ill seen in others is only one’s own reflection and what is outside is a rough reflection of what is within. (see Sathya Sai Speaks Vol 25, p.296 and Sathya Sai Vahini ii). Therefore, it follows with logical necessity that one can never know anyone else, only oneself.

Obviously, this view can only be false. Yet Sai Baba and other sometime advaitist speculators disagree arguing that the self is the universal self within each of us, which is the same one self in every case – but it is only the individual ego’s which differ! This is useless speculation since for all who live in the world, knowing the similarities and differences between individuals – whether regarded as egocentric or unselfish selves – is an essential to life, and even to personal survival. Sai Baba’s unoriginal solipsistic ideas lead into a circular mental and emotional trap, ultimately tending to cut one-off mentally (and even emotionally) more and more from any real persons or objectively existent facts and realities. The human psyche invariably has tremendous flexibility and tolerance of conflicting ideas, however, so that those who believe in such a view still cannot bring themselves to apply it consistently in all things. Far from it. To ignore the existence of anything but the supposed universal self within oneself (which one cannot even find) means that one cannot carry function in the world of practical and social interaction, nor accept the assumptions and goals that society and living imply. The less one regards this theory as an absurd and impracticable fancy – the more one has to believe that one cannot really know anyone or anything in reality. That way lies madness.

On the solipsistic theory of ‘universal selfhood’: If I assume or attribute good of someone, it can only be my own good thinking. I am ‘projecting’ this onto them, them also being an aspect of myself. Likewise if I project badness, then it is my own badness. On the same principle, the same applies to everything else I seem to know outside of me; it is not outside me nor existent independent of my mind in reality, so I can only ever know them properly by self-examination! This is what Sathya Sai Baba believes and preaches constantly. Further, he repeatedly warns that, since the mind (in his view) creates all we experience, one should think, hear and see no evil but rather ‘wear rose-tinted glasses’ and only see good, think good!. As the teacher of this – Sathya Sai as a living person in the real world – puts himself beyond my mind and totally beyond everyone’s understanding.

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One Response to “Sathya Sai Baba ‘teachings’ – part one”

  1. gcl108 said

    Hello, Mr. Priddy. I have been reading your posts on this excellent blog, and I am greatly impressed with your sincerity and forthrightness on an uncomfortable subject matter that most ex-Sathya Sai followers would hesitate to comment upon with the degree of sustained passion and commitment you have demonstrated. I too, till recently, can be said to have been a Sathya Sai adherent (of Indian origin), though the scales began to fall from my eyes sometime around 2003, when the India Today magazine’s exposure of this disturbing personality began to shake my belief in him. My mother can be said to have been a “devotee” of sorts (along with a host of other Indian gurus and gods), and her faith in Sathya Sai Baba I suppose, contributed to my own interest in him – so much so, that I spent a great part of the ’90’s decade in Prashanthi/Puttaparthi and Whitefield Ashrams (among other Indian Spiritual Ashrams), and got to know a good many Sathya Sai devotees, both Indian and foreign, rather well. You may perhaps remember my rather severe and condemnatory comments against the Sathya Sai Obituary article in the Telegraph UK sometime back, under the nom de plume GCL_1. Incidentally, I was also the “Iyer” who commented against the Hindu article you have reproduced in one of your earlier posts. I also commented quite exhaustively against the Sathya Sai movement and its founder below several Deccan Herald, Wall Street Journal, and Hindustan Times articles as well.

    I would now consider myself an ex-follower. I find it rather incredulous that anyone can elect to go along with this movement any longer, especially after its founder’s premature (and all too mortal) death and the subsequent hoard of cash and riches that have since been unearthed within the Baba’s private chambers. I must put it down to the sort of religious enervation and spiritual dependence to the movement’s founder that many of us (including disillusioned former followers like you and me) experienced in the past. I never had an interview (nor did I contribute financially to the movement), but knew several people who did, and many, if not all, of the claims of fraud, sexual abuse, exploitation, manipulation, and molestation that have been ascribed to Sathya Sai Baba, and that you meticulously document in your blog, do indeed appear to be correct. I commend you on so bravely carrying on your lonely fight, doubtless at some cost to your private life and at the risk of inviting rabid, uncivil brickbats from Sathya Sai followers. But it must be remembered that we too were once like them. In fact, till not so long back, I myself would have regarded you as a vile and reckless traducer of a noble and saintly Indian personage, though the situation is far from so now! Incidentally, it may interest you to know that my late father was very good friends with VK Narasimhan while they both worked together in the same building in Delhi (the India Express building) during the seventies and eighties. Your close friendship with Mr Narasimhan (about whose rectitude and probity I heard a great deal from my father growing up) is, in and of itself, proof to me of your unimpeachability (if proof in fact be needed).

    Regarding Sathya Sai Baba’s claim to being an “Advaitist”, I doubt he was much of one at all, any more than he can be said to have been a “Vishsistadwaitist” or “Dwaitist”. Sathya Sai Baba had a knack of changing his facile philosophy to suit the occasion and was just as likely to mouth or parrot a platitude from a Vallabhacarya or a Vivekananda or a Madhva, as he could (mis)quote from the synoptic gospels and Koran. Though claiming to follow and encourage the path of bhakti or devotion, it is no secret that the only sort of bhakti that carried currency within the movement and the ashram was of the sort that equated to blind, unquestioning subservience to “Him”, Sathya Sai Baba, who supposedly possessed the puissance, majesty, and might of all the so-called “avatars” and “masters” before him, and then some. It is amusing that someone who claimed to be so completely free of, and “above” the senses, mind, and body, could yield to the passions of the human flesh and temptation with quite so much gusto and relish. But that subject, as we are all aware of, has rather been beaten to death by now, and is clear to all but the most obstinate and blinded Sathya Sai followers who fail to recognize (or more properly, lack the moral and intellectual courage to recognize) that their “Guru” most likely suffered from some sort of narcissist personality disorder with megalomaniacal delusions of grandeur, split-personality, transference, and quite possibly schizophrenia. The most charitable thing we can say about him is that he may have been marginally OK through the fifties, but things started going badly downhill from the sixties onward, when the schools/colleges arose and foreign devotees began attending to him in droves. These facts were not helped by the coterie of opportunistic, subservient Indian followers and hagiographers around him, who spared no effort in elevating their guru to lofty and undeserved (and plain dishonest) Divine heights, and whose hagiographies, as you correctly point out elsewhere, are deeply flawed, biased, and uncritical.

    Regarding the proper domain and locus of the “Self” and its relationship to the mind, consciousness, senses, and body, I am not certain, since I cannot claim to be “realized” (I can barely even read and write properly!). But I have it on some good (albeit second-hand) assurance from those like Sri Ramana, etc, who claim to have realized the Self, that it does indeed constitute some sort of preceding and succeeding “sub-stratum” that is not impacted by the vicissitudes of the senses, mind, consciousness, or the body. It helps that people like Ramana led a blameless and transparently pure life, since it encourages people like me to place (or shift away from Sathya Sai Baba) our faith in their pronouncements. I suppose if someone did, in fact, realize the Self, they would not have the time or inclination to share their beatitude with such like myself. They would probably be indifferent to everything alike. I am superficially aware of the discourse between the role of consciousness and matter, sentience and insentience, perception and death, nihil and fullness as obtained in some of the discourses of the Buddha, and am also mightily amused and delighted by the utter materialistic philosphy of the carvakas at the other extreme, when I have the time to read it.The Indian sub-continent (and indeed, the world as a whole) has a bewildering array of philosophies and belief systems, including Rationalism and Humanism. I can only hope I have enough time to peruse them all before my time comes.

    None of the above points in any way persuades me to abandon scientific and critical temper which has done humanity so much good, nor does it detract or mitigate my deep-seated conviction that Sathya Sai Baba was a bit of a joke and fraud (when not a dangerous molestor and sexual predator), and that he managed to take a great many people for a ride with his fluffy, facile, and maddeningly contradictory and obtuse cotton-candy teachings and philosophy. His demise is probably one of the best things that happened to India and to humanity as a whole. The man has done incalculable damage to Hinduism, religion, faith, and the spiritual impulse in general. He is rather a disgrace to humanity, leave alone the Divine. I can only hope others who suffered from his disease can summon the strength wake up soon, get cured, and get whole again.

    Thanks again for your valuable work, and with best regards – GCL_1(08)

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