Sathya Sai Baba Deceptions Exposed

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

Professor Kasturi’s delusive and deceptive writings

Posted by robertpriddy on November 25, 2012

Professor N. Kasturi, both a historian and a journalist, who was in his 50’s when first appointed by Sai Baba to write his biography – which was evidently an act of totally uncritical devotion –  once struck me as a frank commentator on most events. He did not go out of his way in his private replies to my questions to present an unduly rosy picture of everything that occurred around Sai Baba. Yet I eventually realized his writings showed Sai Baba were not only seen through permanent subjective emotional and rosy haze, but were also heavily self-censored nonetheless. Even though he did not cover over all unpleasant facts, such as some attempts made to kill Sai Baba in his younger years, which he reports on in his biography, Sathyam, Sivam, Sundaram, he turned them into apparent proofs of Sai Baba having divine powers.

He avoided negative reports about most persons visiting or living in the ashram – except where claims by persistently fraudulent persons had to be refuted. He seemed to be his own strictest critic, presenting himself as a most humble simpleton besides his Lord and Master, in conversation as well as in print. No doubt he perceived everything on the assumptions he had always held about divinity and avatars. In retrospect, his accounts strike me as unrealistic in many respects, even setting out to be deceptive, for he never reported untoward happenings in the ashram like suicides, killings in Puttaparthi of foreign visitors and other ‘unmentionable’ sexual abuse facts about which he could not possibly have been unaware, as so many of his neighbouring residents were. He is despite all largely responsible for the culture of heavily glossed-over descriptions and blatant eulogy of almost everything connected to Sai Baba which became the rule in all official writings in Sai Baba’s journal and other organs.

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As more undeniable conflicting and revealing facts emerge about Sai Baba’s early years to contradict the official version on point after point, it becomes more and more evident that Kasturi was a very pro-biased interpreter, lacking in critical acumen and comparative skills, not to mention his laxity as regards dates, sources or names of his informants. In fact, he has functioned much more as a ‘spin doctor’ for Sai Baba than a historian or reporter. The same goes for all those who followed in his footsteps, from Howard Murphet to Samuel Sandweiss to John Hislop and onwards into the mass of hagiologic eulogies. This development helps make its progenitor Kasturi seem more credible than most writers on Sai Baba, and more believable than he most likely is! Persons mature and fearless enough openly to discuss any such awkward facts in a helpful and constructive spirit are in great dearth everywhere, and no less so at ashrams, which are virtually self-contained.

These ‘total institutions’, as they are known in sociology, have their own rules and norms, existing mostly in isolation and with a high degree of independence from wider society. Group pressure to follow the rules – written and unwritten – is constantly present. This pressure can unify too, having some useful functions and positive aspects, at least temporarily. For example, the variety of unwritten rules about how to behave, where to walk and sit, when not to move etc., in the huge crowd that gathers frequently for darshan at Sai Baba ashrams are soon picked up within the group and – when not observed – are helpfully applied or eventually enforced by those who have the duty of disciplining the crowd when necessary. Without such rules, the management of the vast crowds from every kind of background and all nations or cultures that gather there would doubtless lead to crushes and deaths by trampling, as occurs all too often in India at religious festivals.

Group pressures also invariably work to unify against suspicions or criticism coming from outside. When this comes from within, however, the organisation often turns to censorship and then censure of those who speak frankly. This is the great problem of total institutions, not least of most religious organisations and especially ashrams, to which Sai Baba’s were certainly not exceptions. Many brushed all hints of misrule and corruption under the carpet, believing that they become better devotees and increase their chances of receiving grace in one or another form. Sheepishly following is a trait encouraged and sometimes outwardly rewarded – at least in small ways – at Sai Baba’s ashrams and other institutions, especially by those leaders who revel in power over others and internal prestige.

Sai Baba’s teaching blackened those who criticised, spread negative news or raised doubts, even when there were valid grounds and openness was justified. Thus, Sai Baba called dissenters ‘Judases’ implying that their actions can never be redeemed, even throughout any number of future births (see his infamous Christmas Discourse, 2000). The doctrine that worldly facts are not truth was easily misused to cover up facts in the ashrams – which are always inevitably involved in worldly dealings. The claim is that facts have no significance beside the higher, divine truth and so can safely be ignored. Therefore one distorts actual matters and presents doctrinal half-truths in their place. But the old saying that ‘a half-truth is often worse than a lie’ holds true! idealizing propaganda by Sai Baba and his various officials it soon becomes largely self-induced and self-sustained. Fed by a flow of indoctrination and misinformation, this leads to a kind of brainwashing of a physically non-violent but thereby yet more effective kind.

The converse of all this is growing disaffection among those who feel most suppressed by it, while the ‘outside world’ that happens to observe it, finding its questions unanswered, feels all the more that many suspicions may well be justified. All in all, there is a dearth of unbiased accounts of any events from any of the officials closely connected with Sai Baba, their involvement with corruption and criminality probably stops them from spilling any beans! This is especially so about sexual abuses, the infamous cold-blooded shootings of four intruders Sai Baba ordered and anything like finances, setbacks to Sai projects, how and why accommodation was issued to those who have donated for rooms, plus on any number of other matters. The law of complete non-accountability was absolute throughout all of Sai Baba’s doings and institutions!

Read a more inclusive review of Kasturi’s work here

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