Sathya Sai Baba Deceptions Exposed

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

Control of devotees’ information by Sai Baba’s ideology

Posted by robertpriddy on November 15, 2012

The culture of official secrecy is endemic in India and it is second-nature for those officials who become Sai Baba ashram staff to exercise and exaggerate this. When asked quite normal questions, they have always tended to give short, often irrelevant, answers to such an extent that one hears that they will say only what suits them, no more and no less, as if they were under strict instructions to reveal as little as possible. Most hierarchical organisations have to delegate authority as they expand. This is a problem for guru-led sects and cults because the leading figure who delegates authority to others of a lesser level of supposed purity and insight soon loses the near-total control over followers’ minds that is a prerequisite of him or her holding their position unchallenged. An astute and widely experienced observer of Indian ashrams, Dr. Paul Brunton, noted totalitarian tendencies in virtually all of the many he visited. Central spokesmen or other officials easily become a power in their own right as regards matters with which the guru does not concern him or herself, not surprisingly often including finances. Apart from elites and leaders, most of the Indian population is accustomed to not having to think for themselves, being told what to believe and to do by their superiors without whose go-ahead they can do nothing of their own initiative, so the are easy prey when wolves get among their flock. To follow orders slavishly and to the letter is an ingrained attitude in caste societies where freedom of speech – especially to vocal dissent – never was the tradition.

Information is usually controlled by those in central positions, which makes it easy for them to get away with underhand doings and to cover up all kinds of negative incidents. Unscrupulous persons easily take advantage of the top-down order by insinuating the guru’s likely wrath, exclusion, excommunication or worse to those who wish to speak out about untoward matters. This has been demonstrated in any number of sensational cases of major gurus with ashrams in India – and also Eastern gurus abroad – in recent decades, where murder has frequently been committed – even over long periods – before the facts were revealed in court cases. Unfortunately, Prashanti Nilayam is certainly no exception, though government and Supreme Court protection quashed all legal challenges against Sai Baba!

Silencing unrest and outspoken persons: No one who was at any Sathya Sai Baba ashram for long can have failed to notice the tight-lipped behaviour of nearly all Sai officials, and this mirrored the behaviour of Sathya Sai Baba too. He was known for answering only what suited him and frequently only seeming to answer or saying vague and irrelevant things, changing the subject etc. He would often simply ignore the questioner and turn to someone else. This he could do as all accepted him to be an inscrutable and almighty Godhead whose every act had deep meaning. Those who came there already believing fully in him, or had become sufficiently indoctrinated, accepted these reactions as being mysterious, having hidden messages and lessons for all who heard him. He used to smile at people a lot and give many outward signs of being a caring and loving person, which, in the ashram atmosphere was hard to ignore or doubt, especially for Indians and other religiously imbued persons.

Talking was looked down upon by Sai Baba as a waste of energy and distraction from work! All informal chatting while at Sai Baba ashrams is discouraged by nearly all office-bearers and zealous believers. This was backed up by ‘silence’ notices hung or painted on walls (eg. the Sai Baba quote: “Silence is the language of the realised” Sathya Sai Baba… as if by keeping silent one might give the impression of realization?). Talking was forbidden in certain circumstances – silence was supposed to reign when Sai Baba came out to give ‘darsan’ (his walkabout) and it should preferably have been ‘pin-drop silence’, as Indians so quaintly put it. (However, it hardly ever really did, someone was always chattering to a neighbour or whispering away somewhere). By contrast, Sathya Sai Baba talked and talked – endless discourses, and his talking always dominated the interviews where devotees sat as if mice before a big self-satisfied cat.

Anything like gossip, rumour-mongering or ‘back-biting’ were thought to be cardinal faults because Sai Baba harped on about this time and again in such most unreasonable terms – calling such talk ‘evil’ or ‘a great sin’. One has to ask, what was Sai Baba so worried would be said and spread? The answer springs readily to mind, he did not want anyone to know of the many untoward incidents, well-founded sexual accusations, details of murders, disappearances, suicides and much more.

“Have no friend but God” Sai Baba advised. Also, less extremely, “In this world God is the only permanent friend” (Sanathana Sarathi November 1998, p. 297) He frequently discouraged his students and interviewees from having ‘false friends’ and denigrated the role of friendship in life generally. Yet on the other hand many of his stories are about the value of friendships in the scriptures and in life, so he was unable to sustain his own advice really. Further, he promoted satsang, which is keeping good (i.e. ‘godly’) company, and he considered this kind of friendship may lead one to greater things, including the giving up of attachments to worldly desires (without explaining how or why). In this connection he referred to the old saying ‘birds of a feather flock together’ and pointed out how one can tell who a person is by his or her associates. The result of following such advice can be seen in the most conscientious of his devotees, that they no longer associated with anyone who was not a believer in him. This was a means to the end of building a movement and an organization where no disturbing influences can intervene and everyone is under censorious control of Sai Baba via his chosen leaders and the group pressures that always bear down on the critic or whistle-blower. Yet he advised that devotees should “be friendly to everyone” but not take it to excess. He would say to his students that they should say Hello, always speak sweetly and softly, but then pass on. “Friendship is to be with equals, not all and sundry” (Sanathana Sarathi July 1989, p. 179).

Friends are known to be taken by most people as the more reliable source of information than impersonal or independent sources. Limiting his followers to friendships within the circle of believers who dare see, hear or speak no evil (at least about himself) functioned as a means of control of their information and exclusion of outside criticism. Proper and full information about all that happens would (and increasingly often does) reduce and eventually kill faith in him and most of what he claimed to be. Events which could bring the slightest disrepute to anyone or anything connected officially with Sathya Sai Baba were never reported (except within closed circles of the more cynical servitors, of whom there were plenty). Let alone what went on outside the public sphere, or behind closed doors or the dark! Sai Baba needed to keep control of talk because his sexual preferences were so well-known to most Puttaparthi villagers and Indian ashram residents and have even been admitted to Westerners by a number of his close servitors through the years. Such matters of homosexual relations with minors are all almost invariably passed over in silence in India (unless perhaps a foreigner can be blamed) – the double morale tolerates and thus silently accepts such doings officially is shown to be extremely widespread. Of course, Sai Baba had long realised that knowledge of this was destroying the hugely inflated reputation he had gained and showed him up as not even being a pure and decent, law-abiding person. For many years, he was evidently nervously awaiting the day when his doings would be revealed and accusations would hail down, for he tried to avert this through rigorous censorship and brain-washing of the faithful (later backed up by cosmic threats of rebirth into shameful circumstances). His private predictions to close devotees of the accusations and fall-off that were bound to come were clearly a precaution, if the worst happened, to back up his claim of omniscient prescience.

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