While still in the Sathya Sai Organization, we from Oslo were continually forced to notice that Sai Baba attracted not only good, sensible and pure persons, but also many of poor understanding and personal ambition (whether one called it ‘spiritual ambition’ or raw desire for special blessings, privilege and power). The people Sai Baba chose as his VIP’s (a group I avoided and never wanted to join, despite offers) were mostly either disagreeable or outright obnoxious self-important and pushy persons. Those persons have all remained followers, except those who have died.(I can firmly exclude Kasturi, Narasimhan and Mr. Hejmadi and a few other UK leaders from the bad VIP category!). When VIP’s behaviour and underhand dealings, embezzlement and worse were pointed out to him by some courageous person at an interview, he would say that they were ‘shades at the foot of the candle’ or that he kept them close because he wanted to control them… and further named them ‘VIPers’ (always raised a laugh, that!). The fact is that they had all shown that they would do his bidding whatever it was, would never question or doubt anything whatever… always hoping it would benefit themselves, no doubt. He had once nurtured his devotee like despot Idi Amin and also the criminal Italian President, Craxi, as well as saving the corrupt Indian PM Narasimha Rao from conviction and a long sentence… to name just some of the best known instances.
As India Today reported: “From Indira Gandhi to P.V. Narasimha Rao to A.B. Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh, almost every prime minister paid obeisance to Sai Baba. It has been a routine affair for Presidents of India – from Shankar Dayal Sharma to Abdul Kalam and Pratibha Patil – to visit Puttaparthi and spend time with him.”
All part of the more or less highly corrupt nest-feathering elite of India whose system is now being challenged by Anna Hazare and a large segment of India’s population! Against Mahatma Gandhi’s revered principle, Sathya Sai welcomes ‘blood money’ and even sat through in a public announcement of donors giving at least one crore at his 70th Birthday celebrations (such as Bhangarappa, a known corrupt Karnataka politician, who gave ten million rupees, and two famous Indian ‘liquor barons’, one of whom, Mr. Reddy, was murdered in Madras in 1996 only a week or so after a personal visit by Sai Baba accompanied by V.K. Narasimhan). His involvement with corrupt politicians is well documented – he reportedly saved Narasimha Rao from prison (Rao fled to his feet with thanks as soon as the verdict came). Tit-for-tat, N. Rao and A.B. Vajpayee protected him from prosecutions.
Altogether, a wide assortment of impostors and many very pushy and self-centered people of virtually all degrees sought Sai Baba in the hope of thriving under his banner. I shall report on some of the more successful charlatans in a blog tomorrow.