Sathya Sai Baba Deceptions Exposed

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

Tulasi Srinivas and her research into Sathya Sai Baba issues

Posted by robertpriddy on September 7, 2011

An academic professor, a lady of Indian origin and leaning, Tulasi Srinivas, has published a book about Sathya Sai Baba and his influence on reviving religious faith on a global basis.  (Winged Faith: Rethinking Globalization and Religious Pluralism through the Sathya Sai Movement (Columbia University Press, 2010). This book attempts to present what one would expect from a serious researcher, an independent and  balanced view of the matter. In this respect, Srinivas has made an attempt to include the sphere of facts and discussions that the few other more or less academic works have avoided (making them peripheral and misleading as guides to the true nature of Sai Baba’s doctrines, organizations and activities). She at least took up the the infamous murders in Sai Baba’s rooms and allegations of sexual abuse from young men all around the world. Under typical academic and publishing restraints, however, Srinivas has erred very much on the side of undue caution about these two major crises for Sathya Sai Baba’s reputation and import in spiritual matters. I had an extended communication with her, helping her to penetrate the movement and correcting certain errors she made (though she has still made a large number of factual blunders). However, she stated her aim with her work to me as follows:-

I merely intended to note what devotees, ordinary people, and former devotees say about the Movement, Sai Baba himself, and the Organization and what happens within it. So it is much more about representation, perception and dialogue. While “facts” do weave in and out of the narrative, they have to, in my opinion, for validity of some of the representation, my search is much more about strands of knowledge and interpretation, which in most cases, as you know better than I do, is not about proving anything concrete.”

I must remark, however, that the work has a definite tendency towards explaining away conflicts of opinion, especially between those accusing Sai Baba of serious sexual abuse and those who believe it to be an ancient Indian method of sexual healing. She also virtually defends – on the basis of a (convenient) view of spirituality as a wholly private affair – the secrecy and silence of devotees who would not tell her anything she wanted to know and who almost entirely preferred not to speak about the sexual and murder issues.

Her subject matter originally came to her through friends who were Sai devotees and she was clearly attracted by the promise of a major spiritual renewal that many people – including myself – thought he represented. She admits of being naive at the outset of her researches in that she did not realize the complex nature of the movement – the cult of secrecy, hierarchy and tensions within it, especially within the institutions – the Sai Organization, the Sai Central Trust and other bodies. Though she has been given much information from Sai movement insiders – including some about me – she failed signally to grasp the pernicious cultic and deceptive nature of Sai Baba and his minions. Though she referred to me and my writings in an acceptable enough manner, she ignored a great deal of the most important facts exposed by me and others I have reported on. She quotes the more reasonable things written, for example, by Ram Das , but leaves out his horrific and extensive justifications of direct sexual abuse by the Avatar for ‘karmic reasons’ etc. This kind of omission is typical of almost all she touched on.

Unlike her, I am a dissident who sacrificed nearly two decades of my life to working for Sathya Sai Baba and Co., and – also unlike her – I have gone beyond academic appeasement of conflicting parties and become an activist with a clear duty to refute my former well-intended positive writings and therefore to disregard the norms of not saying what one knows, speaking my mind clearly and frankly and not opting for timidity towards one’s academic peers or betters. An amoral attitude under cover of a purely academic observer interest I consider simply morally unjustified, as it always involves denial of key subject matter. Note further that, despite Srinivas’ hasty interview in the media rather over-endorsing the man and his movement after his controversial illness and death, Srinivas’ appreciation of the whole history shows itself as entirely out-dated. Considering the subsequent consignment of Sai Baba as if to Coventry in the world press, including most Indian outlets nowadays, it is now much more a case of ‘Broken Wings and Mistrust’ than ‘Winged Faith’. All the deceptions involving the Central Trust exposed by the Indian media put matters in a far different light to the formerly unchallenged propaganda by his minions when we learned of the later of hoarding of private wealth on a huge scale by Sai Baba when his apartments were opened, the bitter battles over ‘succession’ and the huge wealth involved, the police investigations of the secreting of massive funds from Puttaparthi in vans and buses where members of the supposedly impeccable Trust were involved, and public allegations that the Sai Trust murdered Sathya Sai Baba.

Tulasi Srinivas evidently did not make a very serious study of the infamous murders incident in Sathya Sai Baba’s apartment in 1993 (as I have done), though she chose to present her own view of the matter, clearly only a personal and poorly documented opinion based on a narrow segment of the available materials. She did not, however, have access to the testimony of the eyewitness dissident, Eileen Weed, who observed from the apartment of Sai Baba’s elder sister and learned of the whole dirty affair and the massive bribes paid out directly afterwards by Sai Baba. For a start, she writes:-

“They knifed Mr. Radhakrishnan who was in a room nearby, as well as another close devotee, Mr. Mahajan (who survived) and ran to an inner room and bolted themselves in.”

Nothing could be clearer from the documents that Mahajan did NOT survive the attack, so Srinivas made a major and revealing error, one of many similar in her book. Tulias Srinivas does not consider the massed evidence collected by the national award-winning sceptic, Basava Premanand, such as in his very voluminous book ‘Murders in Sai Baba’s Bedroom’, nor his other clarificatory writings. She does not refer to what was revealed to me by V.K. Narasimhan, the editor of Sai Babas’s journal and a very close servitor about the role of Sai Baba’s younger brother (Janakiramiah) in causing and endorsing the police executions, not of his complicity with the then Indian Home Minister (S.B. Chavan) nor take any notice of his frenetic activities in dealing with the issue – frequent flights to Sai Baba to confer with him, as recorded throughout the Indian press in dozens of articles (see some here – India’s Home Minister could not avoid investigation by CBI, but quashed it laterThe quashing of the entire case, after maximum confusion had been created by the involved parties, including Sai Baba himself who was never questioned. Nor does she address Sai Baba’s own inconsistencies and rumour-spreading in his subsequent discourse some weeks later.

Continuing in her inaccurate style, Srinivas writes: “Former devotee Tal Brooke tested out several possible gurus –  living and dead – including Sri Ramakrishna, Ramana Maharshi, Sri Aurobindo, Paramahamsa Yogananda, and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He then traveled to India in 1969 and, in January 1970, encountered Sathya Sai Baba and became a devotee/disciple, writing several books…. One could argue that Tal Brooke was a spiritual tourist for the twenty-odd years he was a Sathya Sai devotee.” (Chapter 2 – footnote 5). Firstly, since his first book exposing Sai Baba including his sexual exploits with followers was published in 1975, he was NOT a devotee for twenty-odd years, but only 14 years at most and secondly, his involvement with the teachings of other gurus preceded his time with Sathya Sai Baba. Very sloppy handling of facts by Srinivas again. Further more far-reaching criticism of ‘Winged Faith’ has already been posted at: Kevin R.D. Shepherd on biased research by academic Tulasi Srinivas

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2 Responses to “Tulasi Srinivas and her research into Sathya Sai Baba issues”

  1. Hello Esco Gido, I have only read parts of the book via google books, but I think there is some truth in what you say. The focus of her book is on ethnography: what devotees think and feel and how the organizations work. She admits in the book that she is not so much interested in the truth of the many serious allegations.

    Nevertheless the statement on page 10 that SSB held ten of thousands of discourses shocked me, because this is far too high. It made me think what else is wrong in the book.
    —————————–
    Comment from Robert: That is correct, Andries. However the supposed ethnographic focus of the book does not alter the fact that Tulasi Srinivas has a visible agenda in laying considerable weight on (specious) explanations she provides for the sexual interferences by Sai Baba, presenting the ‘sexual healing’ theory as justifiable within the Indian cultural context. Scientifically they have no justifiable basis whatsoever. Further, referring to Paul Ricoeur’s conflict of interpretations, she points out that Sai Baba’s words can be interpreted within entirely different frameworks and that his intention in any statement is virtually undiscoverable and not fixed. Unfortunately Ricoeur, Barth and other such hermaneutical theorists apparently ignored – or have never been confronted by – people who are extremely clever in wilfully using vagueness and ambiguity to avoid scrutiny, constantly controlling interchanges through a wide range of clever deceptive techniques which serve to confuse devotees who became wholly and misguidedly dependent on him for the truth, for real answers. In this respect, Srinivas remained naive and closed to the information about Sai Baba’s constant psychopathic manipulations. His intentions can largely be derived from a wide study of his tricks by astute observers who retain the ability of critical thinking concerning him… the main one being to keep being worshipped as ‘unfathomable’ and hence to forward his aim of being recognised world-wide as the saviour of mankind and the receiver of massive donations. See SAI BELIEVERS’ PROGRAMMATIC MISINTERPRETATIONS OF SAI BABA AND HIS ‘BLESSINGS’ at http://www.saibaba-x.org.uk/5/Systematic_misinterpretation_of_Sai_Baba%27s_words.htm

  2. It seems that some people like Shrinivas are not really interested in the truth and do not bother what the real truth means for humanity and history. So I wouldn’t really call such people “researchers” but simply those who take interest. For the tiltle “research” such people should meet at least the minimum requirements of accuracy in submitting facts.

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