Sathya Sai Baba Deceptions Exposed

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

Archive for August, 2014

Top Indian Astrologers’ repeated failures

Posted by robertpriddy on August 31, 2014

Throughout my adult life I have heard many stories from people – and read much – about Indian astrology being able to predict with great accuracy the future events of a lifetime – and also of subsequent lifetimes. During my nine long visits to India I came across pundits and ‘astrological seers’, which interested me despite my former rejection of  Western astrology. In my younger years I studied that variant rather deeply – casting horoscopes and doing follow-ups as well as reading critical work about it . I eventually had to conclude  that it relies mainly on psychological projection or else on self-fulfilling prophesy (not to mention vagueness, ambiguous language, credulity and even cold reading. It is such an extensive and involved art (not science) that it entraps its followers into a labyrinth of possibilities, always allowing for rationalisations and ‘deeper reinterpretations’, one from which only those with a strong analytic bent can normally extricate themselves. Hindu astrology seemed it may have offered more than that, not least because of glowing reports of its vast accuracy and ubiquity in India. Firstly, however, here is an interesting Indian critique of the country’s most dominant astrologers:-

Hindu astrologers defeated by events.
The Indian Sceptic magazine (under Premanand) chose India’s most consulted astrologers as endorsed by Indian’s most well-known politicians and other professionals, to predict the outcome of the 2004 Indian elections. See the hilarious result: Top Indian Astrologers fall down on the job – badly

Again in 2009, the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations offered one million rupees to astrologers who could predict the elections results. Others have also challenged astrologers to make correct predictions, offering large sums to those who subject themselves to a serious test. Despite even the prize of a million dollars, no one is known to have won the challenge. (see

The Brighu Nadi
The nadis are examples of such predictions, but as far as I can see no one could get their help to predict a single important modern invention, such as immunisation, the space shuttle, Hadron Collider, Hubble telescope.. the list is endless. As far as one can discover, nor have any ancient Indian texts predicted anything of note that has actually come to pass.

The three groups of palm leaf manuscripts known as ‘nadis’ supposedly predict with great accuracy the events of everyone’s lives! They are the Suka, the Kumar and the Brighu. They are all astrologically based, depending on the time of birth of the individual in question.

My wife and I visited a Brighu Nadi reader in Mumbai (Kantilal G. Pandya) who was highly recommended in Phyllis Krystal’s hagiographic book ‘The Ultimate Experience’ (see, making this alleged shastri famous in Sai circles.

We met a number of devotees who had been there and had received ‘wonderful’ predictions of their glowing futures and achievements, including time of death! (There would be, of course, a sizeable fee!).

At that time my wife and I were urged by friends to see this Brighu reader so, on our way back via Mumbai, we visited him and, having measured our shadows in the sun, noted the time and calculated  the page required, he brought out several palm leaf pages, worn and old, to read our fates. He made many year by year predictions for each of us. All have proved entirely wrong. He only seemed to get one thing fairly right, that I had a very peaceful life which would continue. Indeed, I have not had much turmoil for several decades. (Those who want to believe it was genuine pre-knowledge can interpret ‘very peaceful’ the one way, others the other).

Curious about the palm leaves, I asked him how many he had. He said thousands. I now have learned that palm leaf manuscripts decay and all he could have had were copies of copies going back for ages. The collections are many and obviously vary in number of leaves, and most likely as to exact contents (copying has its many pitfalls). It is a regular industry, and a very profitable one too for many of these charlatans. This is India – the fantasy free-for-all in which so many live out their challenging lives.

The complete failure of the proponents of claims that Sathya Sai Baba’s coming was prophesied in ancient scriptures, such as the Upanishads (as Sai Baba himself claimed) are shown here to be without any reliable foundation in the said sources.

Sathya Sai Baba and ‘Suka Nadi’ prophecies

Even though the following link is to an article by Christian religionists, it contains many valid points about Sai Baba prophesies: Fulfilment of Prophesy – does Sathya Sai Baba fulfil prophesies?

Posted in Sathya Sai Baba | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Radio Sai in constant decline

Posted by robertpriddy on August 25, 2014

The former long-term devotee who rejected Sathya Sai Baba from 2005 onwards, ‘Divya’, wrote the following for this blog:-

I noticed that ‘RadioSai’ emails are getting more prolific, touting all sorts of propaganda shouting about the radio station, so I did some research.



I remember being very impressed when the ‘RadioSai’ digital radio service was started while I was still living in the ashram in India, around 2001. (Another scheme of the disgraced Michael Nobel). I thought, “WOW, a channel fully dedicated to sai, this must surely show his fame will soon snowball and the entire world will come here!” Along with many other devotees, I went to the ashram shops to inquire about buying radio box and was told the service was ‘not yet available’ in the Americas. Though I had no plans to return to USA, I decided against a purchase. The prospect of 24-hour a day boring brainwashing did not appeal to me, even when I was a devotee.

Revealing enough, the Radiosai website has left up formerly published instructions and info – with more crossed-out text than not – on how to access the now defunct Worldspace radio satellite. Click on image to see this FAQ and Radio Sai’s home page info

Turns out, the stock of hosting company WorldSpace Co steadily plummeted from the first day of their IPO (see wiki article link below for details) and they finally filed for bankruptcy in 2008 – due in part to mismanagement and links to terrorist groups. ‘RadioSai’ quietly became just another website with audio content archives, and occasionally live streaming, though they still propagate about being a ‘radio’.

Worldspace  is apparently in terminal decline:- 

1worldspace, formerly known as ‘WorldSpace’, is an almost but not yet completely defunct satellite radio network that in its heyday provided service to over 170,000 subscribers in eastern and southern Africa, the Middle East, and much of Asia with 96% coming from India. Timbre Media along with Saregama India plan to relaunch the company.

The final fate of the original Worldspace satellite radio service still remains a mystery. Despite the company’s very public insolvency and the liquidation of all of its various commercial entities in 2008-2009, the company’s Afristar and Asiastar satellites remain in geostationary orbit. Currently, the channels WRN 1 and WRN 2 can be received on Afristar with audio. On AsiaStar, there are 2 channels broadcasting (the old Maestro channel and Sai Global Harmony which is an Indian religious channel). The precise commercial basis on which the Afristar and Asiastar satellites currently continue to be maintained in working satellite orbit by Intelsat is not known at the present time.  (from Worldspace History on Wikipedia)

So much for Sathya Sai Baba’s promised ‘Global Harmony’, it is as far away now than the promised ‘Golden Age’!

Posted in Sathya Sai Baba | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Mary Garden’s Sathya Sai Baba experience – book excerpts

Posted by robertpriddy on August 23, 2014

In 1973. Mary Garden abandoned a promising academic career to spend seven years in India at the feet of such gurus as Rajneesh, Sathya Sai Baba and an enigmatic yogi in the Himalayan jungle – Swami Balyogi Premvarni. The Serpent Rising is her own story of the heaven and hell she experienced as she fell under the spell of self-appointed ‘god-men’——————————————

This book starts out looking like an act of self-indulgence but it quickly becomes impossible to put down. It is a compelling and shaking account of an extraordinary journey that takes the heroine beyond the superficial religious manipulators of contemporary India to a thoroughly bizarre and sinister situation. It is best described as a spiritual thriller.
Dr Martin Duwell, The University of Queensland.

There is no other book that I know of which reveals the addictive nature of the search for spiritual enlightenment better than this one. While it does not seek to be sensational, it is so, by virtue of its subject matter and the courageous honesty of its author. Mary Garden’s book may just stop you from falling into that vortex of group hysteria where discernment and common sense are discarded in favour of dubious mysticism.
Sue Cough. Courier Mail.

The Serpent Rising

Read a 5-page excerpt concerning Sathya Sai Baba from ‘The Serpent Rising’

Posted in Sathya Sai Baba | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Mary Garden: The Trouble With Gurus

Posted by robertpriddy on August 21, 2014

The Australian author Mary Garden’s self-revealing book ‘The Serpent Rising’ on her experiences in India with gurus Sathya Sai Baba, Rajneesh (Osho) and Premvarni Balayogi was received with acclamation by reviewers and anti-cult experts around the world. A frank and fascinating book recounting the young female seeker’s experiences on her tortuous ‘spiritual journey’ through India takes the reader on a tour of mystery gurus and yogis, following the baited hooks of inexplicable psychic or paranormal experiences aplenty. Her subsequent article ‘The Trouble with Gurus’ is a ‘ travel warning for seekers of spiritual enlightenment’, which  draws lessons for all would-be ‘spiritual aspirants’ who venture into the clutches of even the most charming, apparently honest and selfless swami and gurus:-

No amount of evidence, nor the quality of it, will serve to un-convince the true believer. Their belief is something they not only want, they need it. (James Randi)

My conversion to Eastern mysticism was sudden and unexpected. One morning I was a non-believer; that night I was a believer. And yet it took me years to wake up. The dramatic turnabout in my life happened during a ceremony of worship conducted at a yoga ashram 30 years ago. This ashram on the outskirts of Auckland was the first of its kind in New Zealand and the Hindu swami that led the ceremony was also the first to visit that country.

I still can’t understand fully what happened to me that night. It was as if I was transported into another world during the hour or so that I sat there. I remember there was incense burning, candles lighting up the darkened room, some very strange pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses on the altar at the front of the room. There was no restless chatter or movement among the small group of people assembled there. The swami was chanting prayers to the gods, and perhaps there were some pictures of various holy men as well, but I don’t remember. The chants and prayers seemed strangely familiar. Within minutes my mind seemed to “explode” into ecstasy and bliss. I felt the region of my heart grow warmer and warmer and then it was as if it was opening and all these feelings of love were pouring outwards. My forehead felt ablaze with white light. I had dropped acid once before and in many ways this experience was similar, except that here I felt in complete control and this enormous sense of peace came over me.

As I drove home I decided to quit my postgraduate studies at Auckland University and go to India as soon as possible. Maybe for the rest of my life. I was not alone. The hippy movement – its pot and flower power – had left some of us jaded and more lost than ever and so we embarked instead on a spiritual search. In the 1970s, tens of thousands of us went to India: Eastern mysticism was new and exotic to Westerners and we were in the vanguard. We traipsed from guru to guru unable to see that we would have been better to give up on them altogether – at least until we had sorted ourselves out psychologically. But there had been no exposés or warnings of the damage that could be done to our minds and our bodies when we surrendered our critical thinking (and our hearts) to gurus. We were young, gullible and susceptible.

While making preparations to leave, I stayed at the yoga ashram and became part of an “instant” community. I also picked up “instant” answers to the meaning of life. I began to learn about chakras and the kundalini fire that was meant to move slowly up the spinal cord purifying “blocks” in its wake. I read books such as Paul Brunton’s A Search in Secret India and Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi and was blown away. It was as if I had entered an enchanted kingdom, so different from the dreary Christianity of my childhood. It never occurred to me to question or doubt their stories. I had become a “true believer”: in reincarnation, karma, meditation, chanting, Siva, Krishna and Hanuman (the monkey god) and Ganesha (the elephant god) and in the need to have a guru. I was on what seemed to be a permanent high: the depression and loneliness that had hovered over my life for the previous few years had vanished (we didn’t talk about these things back in those days). Plus I didn’t have to think about sex again: I was going to be celibate like a true Hindu sadhak or renunciate. What a relief to no longer need romantic relationships with men.

I heard of Sathya Sai Baba a few weeks before I was due to leave. I met some Sai Baba devotees and was captivated by what they told me. Tales of Baba healing the sick, curing the lame, resurrecting the dead, transporting himself great distances, manifesting in many places and bodies simultaneously. Also, of drawing necklaces, bracelets and rings from thin air and a sacred ash called vibhuti from the palm of his hand. (Millions of people all over the world, including the present and former prime ministers of India, believe that Sai Baba is the Avatar, a direct incarnation of God. He himself has said “his coming” was predicted by Jesus Christ.) Perhaps it was Sai Baba who was behind all the strange and remarkable changes in my life? I was not going to miss out. I’d go to Bangalore, surrender my life to Him. I changed my travel destination to South India instead of the Himalayas as planned.

My first impression of India was that at last I had come home. Within days of arriving I began to wear a sari as well as a red spot (kumkum) on my forehead and began learning Hindi. With my black hair and olive skin, I was often mistaken for an Indian woman. But the honeymoon lasted only three months. By that time I was disillusioned if not bored by a life revolving around “darshans”. This meant sitting for hours on the dusty ground in the compound of a palatial residence waiting for “God” himself to appear each morning and afternoon. We were supposed to be blessed and purified by being in such a holy presence.

I was also disturbed by the groupthink – even the most trivial and banal things were attributed to Sai Baba as if “He” was omniscient and omnipresent. There was a language that went along with all of this: “He’s cleansing me”; “It’s all His Grace”, etc. I was also a bit freaked out (to put it mildly) by the rumours I heard in the nearby town that Sai Baba was a “sex maniac” preying on male disciples during private interviews. I fled convinced that Baba was the devil himself or at least something dark and sinister. Thankfully no-one came to track me down and change my mind as had happened with members of other groups such as the Moonies or the Hare Krishnas. But it was some time before I could shake the spell that had been cast over me. Images of the orange-robed god-man darted across my mind from time to time, as did the odd phrase and melody of some of the hypnotic bhajans (devotional songs) that had been sung at the ashram. As I had not met any ex-devotee there was the odd moment on the long dusty train ride to Delhi when I wondered, “What if I am wrong and have blown it, thrown away the chance to be with God himself?”

In spite of this initial disillusionment I did not give up on my search and spent six more years in India. Most of these were with an enigmatic yogi called Swami Balyogi Premvarni whose isolated ashram was nestled in the jungle near Rishikesh, in the Himalayas. During the times I ran away from him I checked out other yogis and swamis, spent time with the Hare Krishnas in Vrindaban, stayed a year in the ashram of the controversial Bhagwan Rajneesh and did a number of Buddhist Vipassana meditation retreats. The latter were conducted by a very respected teacher (and deservedly so) called Goenka (no claims here of being a god-man or enlightened).

Many readers may find it difficult to understand why these gurus are so powerful? We first need to look at the concept of the guru itself, which is an essential component of Eastern mysticism. There is no parallel in other spiritual traditions. Guru is a Sanskrit word; “gu” means darkness and “ru” means light. Hence guru means one who can lead you from darkness to light. Hindus consider that if one chooses a spiritual path in life (note that this is traditionally the path recommended when one’s duties as a parent or a householder etc have been fulfilled – in the latter part of one’s life), then it is essential to find a guru. Some gurus are considered the living manifestation of God (Bhagwan) here on earth. As God is seen as too powerful to make contact directly, these gurus are conduits to channel his energy. Premvarni (we used to call him Swamiji) would say: “God will blow your fuse; you need me as a transformer.”

As God in human form, these gurus (very few are women) become the absolute authority who cannot be questioned or challenged by disciples. Even doubting them is seen as “resistance”, a lack of faith and too much reliance on the intellect. Hence the measure of our spiritual superiority became our openness and complete acceptance not only of our guru’s teachings but also his behaviour, no matter how bizarre, cruel or even unethical. Most of the gurus I met taught the need to give up all thinking and to surrender totally. At the entrance to Rajneesh’s ashram in Poona was even a sign: “Leave your minds and your shoes outside the gate.”

If the guru is seen as infallible, then the disciples are always to blame: it is their karma. On the other hand, what the guru does is a divine lila (game) or “test”. There were times we would call Swamiji “Rudra” (the god of destruction in the Hindu pantheon). In this way we could rationalise his outbursts and acts of cruelty. He himself used to call it his “teaching nature” – he claimed he used it intentionally to wake us up. One seeker who spent several months there a few years ago recently wrote to me: “I was in constant internal agitation about whether his behaviours were tests or mere emotional abuse.” (This person has still not fully resolved his experience there). Now, looking back, Swamiji’s behaviours were acts of violence and abuse, if not those of a madman; this discernment is unavailable to devotees who believe their guru is perfect.

In the beginning I found Swamiji’s dramatic mood swings unnerving. He would be seductive and charming one minute and vile the next – for no apparent reason. He would scream, yell profanities (often in Hindi) and even beat one of the Indian servants. Sometimes he would attack a Western disciple (usually male) who regarded this as part of their spiritual discipline and welcomed it. I’d be shocked at his outbursts, chuck my possessions in my backpack and get ready to leave. By the time I’d front up to Swamiji to get my money and passport out of his safe he’d have turned on his charming, seductive self and I’d be sucked back in, even blaming myself for doubting him. However after a few months, his “teaching nature” scarcely bothered me.

The surrender to such a guru-figure can result in the disintegration of personality and individuality. Joshua Baran, a former Zen Buddhist monk, remarks: “Devotees lose their natural alarm systems, which tell them when things aren’t right. This is usually a gradual process.” In effect what happens is brainwashing, a subtle process of thought reform. And so, instead of the promise of increased spiritual awareness and humility, what can often take place is increased robotism. In my own case, over the years I became more and more indecisive, since most major decisions were made for me. Eckart Flother, a well-known German journalist, spent some months as a sannyasin in Poona in the late 1970s and wrote of the dehumanising effects of life with Rajneesh: how a person can become like a puppet; almost an apathetic creature trying to satisfy his basic needs while the rest of his energy is being used to glorify the master.

Contributing to the marked personality changes of devotees are the new names they are given, an essential part of the initiation process. These new names have tremendous significance – they signify a rebirth, a cutting off of the past, as if what devotees were before needs to be somehow obliterated, forgotten. Swamiji bestowed on me the Sanskrit name Archana which means “adoration of the divine”, or worship, and explained that was my true spiritual path. Years later when I became a Rajneesh sannyasin I was given another name, Ma Prem Sagara, meaning “ocean of love”. These names fed our delusions of somehow being divine or spiritual. What really trapped us were the blissful states of mind achieved through meditation or chanting. We all had the most extraordinary experiences for which I have no explanation to this day. But what we didn’t realise is that just because we experienced peace and ecstasy and maybe had various visions, this did not mean that emotional difficulties or psychological problems had been cured or transcended. These mental states had little to do with spiritual growth.

There were several reasons why it was so hard for many of us to leave or to give up our search altogether. Not only had we lost our sense of reality but also our defence mechanisms. We had become too frightened or paranoid to leave. While in Poona we were constantly reminded that if we lost faith, we would miss out on this rare opportunity to be with an enlightened master – Bhagwan Rajneesh. In the Himalayas, we were encouraged to develop a phobia of the outside world: that world out there, outside the ashram, was in some way evil, samsara, non-spiritual. If we left, it would mean that we had not only failed but had also been in error. And we would have to return to the West, now a foreign place; many of us had no jobs to go back to and had broken ties with old friends and past social networks. Most of all, we lacked the insight to leave!

Sometimes our virtual imprisonment could have dire consequences. Even though Swamiji claimed to be celibate, within weeks I had become a consort and – shortly after – his chief consort. He insisted it wasn’t sex; it was just raising my kundalini and getting rid of all those lowly vibrations from years of sleeping with worldly men. I learnt that within Hinduism there is a rare tradition of tantra in which there is a place for legitimate coupling by spiritual partners for a kind of mystical union. So I felt special, even flattered.

My fantasy came to an end when I fell pregnant: that was not meant to be part of the divine drama. Swamiji had assured me that he was in control of my destiny and when I became sick he pronounced that my body was “cleansing itself”. Finally (after several months) I persuaded him to let me see a doctor. At first I thought, “what a miracle, a holy child!”; it never occurred to me to have an abortion but that’s exactly what Swamiji ordered: it was my fault and my “bad karma”. I almost changed my mind, alone in a noisy Delhi hospital, but when my passport and all my money was stolen, I fell into a state of utter confusion and distress. I also feared being rejected by Swamiji and cast out of his holy abode.

When I returned to the ashram, things were never the same. I was no longer subservient and became defiant and enraged at times. On one occasion I charged into the meditation room and confronted him, screaming, “You’re a murderer, Swamiji. You killed my baby. You’re a sex maniac.” It was then I knew I had to leave this place before I went completely insane.

My last year in India was spent in Poona with the Bhagwan Rajneesh. Life there was in many ways refreshing and in strong contrast to the rigidity and repression found in many of the traditional Hindu ashrams I had visited. Unless one was part of the “inner circle” and lived within the confines of the ashram itself, one was free to do as one pleased. Nothing was forbidden – sex, dancing, alcohol, drugs, partying. The ashram also offered a wide range of workshops and retreats: from tantra sex to Gestalt therapy and Zen meditation. It was here that I had my first experience of Western psychotherapies and these helped me. I lived outside the ashram in a comfortable apartment and even began earning an income from various projects including the compilation of a book called Bhagwan’s Neo-Tantra. I slowly began to recover from Swamiji and was no longer drawn back to him.

However some disturbing things went on around the Bhagwan both inside and outside the ashram. Increasingly I found myself in a questioning or doubting state of mind – that “monkey” mind of mine, which had hounded me throughout my odyssey. At the end of the year I received a note, ostensibly from Rajneesh but presumably from one of his secretaries. It said I was resisting him and it was time to go back to the West (many other sannyasins received similar notes at this time). I took that as my cue.

I returned to worldly life, settled in Brisbane and have never wanted to return to India. My dream of finding some kind of enlightenment through Eastern gurus was finally over and I had started to wake up. I also realised that I had lost a large chunk of my life. In those seven years away I had read no newspapers, watched no television, listened to no Western music and read no books that were not religious tracts. I had been oblivious to what had been going on in the wider world. It took me years to make sense of what I had experienced. It was difficult because in those days cult counsellors did not exist except for a few evangelical Christians who, in my experience, dished out more of the same “mind control”. I also knew of no ex-devotee of any guru. Perhaps I was the only one, the only one who could not stand up to the rigours of spiritual life? I wrote a book based on my journey, The Serpent Rising: A Journey of Spiritual Seduction, which helped resolve some of the ambivalence I had been struggling with. I experienced some good things in India. As well as the strength to survive, I gained some recipes for a simpler life. And I still practise Vipassana (albeit in small doses): sitting still, watching my breath, calming my mind. But essentially my entanglements with gurus had been dangerous and destructive. They had all abused their power.

It was only in the late 1980s that sensational stories began to appear in print: articles and books by ex-devotees of Sai Baba, Ron Hubbard (Scientology), the Hare Krishnas, Muktananda, Sun Myung Moon, Rajneesh, Guru Maharaji, Krishnamurti and other Hindu gurus, plus various Zen masters and Buddhist lamas.

Hugh Milne’s book, Bhagwan, The God that Failed, documents the hypocrisy that surrounded Rajneesh. A few years after I left, bizarre events began to unfold in that group. They relocated to Oregon and hit worldwide media attention when Rajneesh bought scores of Rolls-Royces and the ashram began stockpiling weapons. The group also tried to influence local county elections by making large numbers of people ill on election day so their own candidates would be elected. This led to the first large-scale biological attack in history when 751 people dining at restaurants in the small city of Dalles were poisoned with salmonella (grown in the commune). Two sannyasins pleaded guilty to charges of food poisoning. And 35 others pleaded guilty to other charges such as conspiracy to murder public officials. Bhagwan renamed himself Osho when he returned to India. According to those close to him, he became more and more dependent on prescription drugs such as Valium as well as nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and died in 1990 from heart failure. His closest disciple and companion, Vivek, had committed suicide in Bombay a few months before. Despite all the controversy, Osho groups still function here in Australia.

Tal Brooke first spilled some of the “beans” on Sai Baba with Lord of the Air, in which he claimed that this so-called avatar was in fact a deviant con man who preyed on his followers, especially male disciples. His accusations were dismissed for decades and it is only in recent years with the help of the internet that his claims have been corroborated. More allegations have been added; there is a flourishing internet controversy. Yet people still go on pilgrimages to Bangalore. Devotees, because of their unconditional belief in Sai Baba as God, find it easy to dismiss any accusations as false, without even reading them. Some vocal devotees simply rationalise the widespread allegations of sexual abuse. An American devotee named Ram Das Awle says on his website: “I’m inclined to think some of the allegations about Baba are probably true. It appears likely to me that He has occasionally had sexually intimate interactions with devotees.” He says that Sai Baba touches men to awaken their kundalini energy or to remove previous bad sexual karma, and that “any sexual contact Baba has had with devotees – of whatever kind – has actually been only a potent blessing, given to awaken the spiritual power within those souls. Who can call that ‘wrong’? Surely to call such contact ‘molestation’ is perversity itself”.

The whole “cult” phenomenon has been under close scrutiny for many years now, and one prominent researcher, Margaret Singer, remarks that what she finds astonishing is that most people don’t realise how all humans can be influenced. She has interviewed more than 3000 former members from groups with vastly different ideologies, from the Rajneeshees to the members of Jim Jones’s People’s Temple, and concludes, “they are all extended con games”. Philip Zimbardo (former president of the American Psychological Association) points out: “Whatever any member of a cult has done, you and I could be recruited or seduced into doing – under the right or wrong conditions. The majority of ‘normal, average, intelligent’ individuals can be led to engage in immoral, illegal, irrational, aggressive and self-destructive actions that are contrary to their values or personality – when manipulated situational conditions exert their power over individual dispositions.”

Brian Steel, a former devotee of Sai Baba, speaks for many when he writes on his website of how his “serious doubts about the truth of the Divinity claims (together with collateral damage to my faith from the accumulating sexual allegations) have forced me to recover my critical judgement, anaesthetised for so long by my belief in Sai Baba’s special self-proclaimed divine nature, and to organise the niggling doubts which I had collected (but conveniently hid away) into a more coherent pattern. As for naivety and gullibility, I shared these attributes with other devotees for many years”.

Some may ask: What’s wrong with groups that bring solace and a sense of belonging to so many people? Author Wendy Kaminer replies: “That’s a bit like asking what’s wrong with a lobotomy, [or] a steady diet of happy pills. The rise of charismatic authority figures is always disconcerting, especially when they malign rationalism and exhort us to abandon critical thinking in order to realise spiritual growth. Pop gurus prey on existential anxieties and thrive when our fear of being alone and mortal in an indifferent universe is stronger than our judgement. No-one who seeks worship, however covertly, deserves respect. Argue with them, please.”

Another author, Mariana Caplan, says that seekers should aim for a “conscious discipleship that is fully empowered, intelligent”. She argues that disciples need to understand their own “complicity in the corruption that sometimes arises in the student-teacher relationship”. But when in 1997 a woman was awarded $US1.8 million from the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale, Philadelphia, her attorney described the sexual exploitation of his client as “spiritual incest”, and worse than rape because she and other devotees viewed the swami as “a person approaching divinity”. Using his position as spiritual guru to gain their trust, the swami had convinced young women to submit to sexual demands.

The Dalai Lama was shocked when he heard that Tibetan lamas were liaising with Western female students and said the only remedy for such a situation was for the culprits to be “outed”, mentioned by name publicly and no longer considered as teachers. But he also pointed out that in the final analysis, the authority of a guru was bestowed by the disciple. The guru doesn’t go looking for disciples. The Dalai Lama’s recipe is to “spy” on the guru for at least 10 years. Listen, examine, watch, until you are convinced the person is sincere. In the meantime treat him or her as an ordinary human being and receive their teaching as “just information”.

What was thought to be a passing fad of the 1960s and 1970s has not disappeared as many commentators assumed. In the following decades and even today people still go to India and elsewhere to surrender their minds to gurus – even to those that have been exposed as frauds, charlatans, liars and hypocrites. In addition, many self-styled false messiahs have emerged in the West. Increasing numbers of New Age teachers and leaders of groups, workshops and seminars who claim “this is it”, “this will change your life”, “here is the way”, continue to mushroom across Australia. They are not all harmful, of course, but what seekers need to be wary of are those groups that rely on charismatic leaders (with potentially manipulative control over disciples), where there is an authoritarian structure that requires unquestioning obedience and where there are in-out group attitudes – they, the chosen ones, alone hold the “truth”.

Jack Kornfield, a well-known American teacher of Vipassana meditation, is a strong advocate for psychotherapy as part of spiritual life: “Because the issues of personal life are often our greatest source of suffering and neurosis, of our deepest attachments and delusion, we fear them and may unconsciously use spiritual practice to avoid dealing with them.” This is what I was lucky enough to realise at Poona and it has been a cornerstone of my life ever since.

The guru-disciple relationship is probably the most authoritarian of all in its demands for total surrender and obedience. Hence it can also be the most destructive. And far from achieving the freedom and enlightenment that many of us wannabe spiritual pioneers of the 1970s sought (and were promised), we experienced mental imprisonment and confusion. We were seduced by yogis and swamis telling us what we wanted to hear: that we were special and that they were God incarnate. Our need was our downfall. (Other “spiritual” relationships can also be damaging – eg the widespread abuse by some Catholic and Anglican priests, the details and serious consequences of which have been surfacing of late.)

From time to time I look back on those years in India and it seems like a strange dream. Was that really me?


References: Tal Brooke, Lord of the Air (Lion Publishing, London, 1976).
Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, Snapping: America’s Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change (A Delta Book, New York, 1978).
Marian Caplan, Do You Need a Guru? (Thorsons, London, 2002).
Jack Kornfield, A Path with Heart: A Guide through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life (Bantam Books, New York, 1993).
Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad, The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power (Frog Ltd, California, 1993).
Sarah Macdonald, Holy Cow! (Bantam, Australia, 2002).
Vicki MacKenzie, Cave in the Snow (Bloomsbury Publishing, London, 1998).
Hugh Milne, Bhagwan, The God that Failed (Sphere Books, London, 1987).
Margaret Singer, Cults in our Midst (Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 1995).
Brian Steel,
Philip Zimbardo, ‘What messages are behind today’s cults?’, APA Monitor, May 1997.


Mary Garden is the author of The Serpent Rising: A Journey of Spiritual Seduction, a second edition of which has just been published by Sid Harta Publishers (Melbourne, 254pp, $19.95). Read a 5-page selection of excerpts here (the parts about Sathya Sai Baba) 

Posted in Sathya Sai Baba | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sathya Sai School, Leicester, fights to survive

Posted by robertpriddy on August 18, 2014



The Sathya Sai school has lodged a legal case against the Sri Sathya Sai Trust UK out of fear that the Trust might kick them out of their school premises. 

The Sathya Sai Trust owns the school building at Leicester and have warned the school that if they do not pay the previous years rent and if their headteacher Mrs. Lim is not removed then they want the school to vacate the premises. On the contrary the schools states that the trust owns them money.

It is to be recalled that Mrs Usha Lim was reported to the social services by the parents for her bullying behaviour and Mr Cheng Hoe Lim for his sexual harassment of a female colleague. Most of the affected parents have removed their children out of this school and it remains to be seen how this doomed school will survive after summer. All this in the name of their God Sai Baba and the so called values of “love all serve all”. (from a proxy informant in UK who remains anonymous here so as to protect against harassment by the Sathya Sai school headmistress and co.)

The Ofsted Commission’s report on this school has become more and more negative as can be seen in the 2014 report (click on image on the right here). However the Ofsted inspectors remained ignorant of the bullying case and sexual harassment cases, which were suppressed through legal threats against the parents of the bullied child etc. by the very rich people who are devotees of Sai Baba, including Dr. Michael Goldstein. 

See previous postings:-

Leicester Sathya Sai School vibuthi fraud  April 29, 2014  The Leicester Sathya Sai School lost its accreditation as a Sai Baba institution after a major scandal of child abuse and sexual harassment of a female teacher was investigated, firstly by Leicester social services, subsequently by various ‘officials’ of the Sathya Sai Organisation in Uk and also by the overarching International Sai Baba authorities in India.  Read the rest of this post…

Leicester Sathya Sai School sackings April 26, 2013  As of August 18, the Sathya Sai School in Leicester has been disowned by the Sathya Sai Organisation. This was clearly a (very belated) damage-limitation exercise by the Sathya Sai Organisation which – despite great efforts and much international back and forth – did not succeed in getting the main culprits – i.e. the headmistress […]  Read the rest of this post…

Leicester Sathya Sai school & Michael Goldstein’s dismissal March 30, 2013  The slogan of this private faith school, where almost only for Indian devotees of Sai Baba send their defenceless children in Leicester is “a centre of human excellence”. According to a series of reports I have received about the situation there, this could hardly be further from the real situation. That the children ARE defenceless […] Read the rest of this post…

Sathya Sai school, Leicester harassment case September 11, 2012  Sathya Sai School Leicester rejected by Sri Sathya Sai World Foundation Report: April 26th, 2013. Leicester Sathya Sai School sackings – click to go to latest news September 11, 2012: I am informed that the parents who could not afford to pay full fees to the Leicester Sathya Sai […] Read the rest of this post…

Sathya Sai Schools: Leicester, Puttaparthi, Gothenburg etc. up-date 27/11/12 July 20, 2012 Dr. Michael Goldstein, who was trying to cover over the entire matter at Leicester Sathya Sai school has already been replaced as Chairman of the Sri Sathya Sai World Foundation by a certain Gary Beltz. In short, the rule of man picked  by the self-proclaimed omnipotent God Incarnate to lead the International Sai Organisation was overruled by […]  Read the rest of this post…

Love and Light – Sathya Sai Organization UK & Leicester Sai school July 6, 2009  A comment was made to this blog as follows:- “The headteacher is accused of bullying, emotional abuse, physical punishment of children. Parents complained to the social services who conducted an inquiry which proved true.”  … “The top officials at Puttaparthy etc. are busy protecting their names and the headteacher’s. This is a shame that this […]

Posted in Sathya Sai Baba | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Venkamma: little or no faith in her brother Sathya Sai

Posted by robertpriddy on August 14, 2014

Sathya Sai Baba's elder sister Venkamma profiled

‘Divya’ (Eileen Weed) with Venkamma in 1993

The former long-term resident of Prashanthi Nilayam,  Eileen Weed (aka ‘Divyya’)  who lived for years in the apartment of the elder sister of Sathya Sai Baba, Venkamma, and who learned Telugu to a high level, answered a question asked by a former devotee about the faith of that sister. Here is her illumining reply:-

“Your question about Venkamma’s faith is a difficult one, however. The short answer is, I am not entirely sure what her faith was. Since I knew her better than anyone else in the world in her last years, I can state that I don’t think she thought about it (questioned herself about having faith in sb as god) deeply.

She was just a simple village lady and I suspect she knew about sb lying and faking materialization’s when he was younger BUT simple villagers look beyond inconsistencies (look at all the examples in the puranas about the doings of naughty gods & sages!) and depend more upon the amount of confidence and charisma someone has. I think for decades she had faith in sb as a divine being, just because of what he declared to the world (due entirely to his narcissism). That is why so many of us developed faith: he TOLD everyone he was divine, and we were surrounded by people who enforced that with all their stories (often imagined and embellished) of his presence and wished-for blessings.

However, in the last years of Venkamma’s life when I knew her, there was some inconsistency in her faith that had arisen. She was very distressed at troubles with her son and his family, she was depressed at her own declining health, and frustrated because for years her access to sb had been limited to touching his feet and saying a sentence or two to him every few months. As an answer to her queries or moanings about troubles, his answer would invariably be, “It will be all right” or, “What can I do?” That was his standard answer to all the family members during their times of need. In fact, they used to laugh about that fact with each other! Or else, he would send money, food or objects like gold jewelry. (Which caused a lot of gossip and jealousy amongst his always-feuding siblings and their families.)

So at one point Venkamma declared to me, “There is no god, there is no heaven and there is no hell. All of that is only a story elders tell to children to make them behave.” She was dead serious. At the same time, in the midst of physical pain at the end, she would fold her hands and bow at the picture of her favorite god, Rama, and say his name.

But I can say definitely that I NEVER saw her pray to sb or call out to him as she would to a god. I am fairly confident in saying that she did not have faith he would hear her cries from afar. She’d avoid questions of devotees who pressed her to tell stories of sb’s divinity or to outright declare him as god. She would laugh and say, “I like Rama! He was my favorite even before there was a ‘sai baba’!”>Pressed for stories, she would repeat a few things that are already published in books, but which however didn’t particularly point to any diving powers. She loved to remember the journey to the Himalayas with him for example; or to describe opulent festivals in Puttaparthi.

When she was ill she used to desperately ask doctors to tell sb and ask him to visit her, but it seemed to me that was only wanting to see her dearly loved, revered brother rather than wanting darshan of a god. Hope I helped to answer your question!”

In fact, Sai Baba’s family had from the start been unable to believe his various excessive claims, such as when he wrote them around age 13 with the aid of a teacher with semi-literate English in his booklet ‘Hisstory’ (now suppressed and replaced with a different ‘Hisstory’ book made by zealots). His parents considered him possessed by some underworld spirit and had him exorcised, which did not help. His well-educated elder brother, Sesham Raju, expressed his scepticism in a famous letter to Sai Baba, to which only his famous boasting reply is allowed to be printed. …. also told various people about the falsity of some of the mystical claims made about him, notable the ‘story’ about a cobra rocking his cradle. His mother, though held up as blessed etc. by Sai himself, had been left by her husband for a paramour and was very badly neglected by him and Sai Baba (read of her plight with photo of her tiny dwelling here), and was constantly worried that he was pushing his luck too far, which indicates her doubts… though this could not be said by her in Puttaparthi, where his influence over his followers and visitors would soon put a stop to it.

See also Venkamma, Sai Baba’s elder sister in focus

Venkamma; by Divyya – her lost writings, an anti-climax



One must conclude that the family knew he was a fake from the beginning but when they saw the wealth start to pour in, they shut up and silently took all the many bribes sb constantly gave to them. (Venkamma, like other family members, was always receiving packages from sb, I often opened the door to receive the good looking young boys who worked in sb’s house who brought the gifts of clothes, money, jewels, food, and news of land gifts, etc.). One must put, not sb, but his brother Seshama Raju on a pedestal, for sticking to the truth despite the incentives to retract his complaints!

I also think that due to the later-day family members (children and grandchildren of sb’s siblings, and other more distant relatives) being brought up on a diet of sb’s greatness (and gifts), surrounded by the faithful and sent to the brain-washing schools, that many if not most have complete, pure and naive faith in him, as all of us ex-devotees did.

Posted in Sathya Sai Baba | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Sathya Sai Baba’s charismatic look

Posted by robertpriddy on August 9, 2014

Many who met Sathya Sai Baba were vastly impressed by his look or stare. One example among many similar found throughout the hagiography:   “I vividly recall looking at his form with utter peace and no thoughts.  He stopped and turned and gave me this amazing smile, piercing me with his eyes and I felt this incredible warmth enter me. “What did he do that for,”  I thought,  on that day three years ago. Today, the penny dropped. Thought has to stop.” by Chris Parnell – Australian Sathya Sai Organization.

A much publicised saying of Sai Baba was ‘If you look to Me, I look to you’, and very keen aspirants took this quite literally. Many have written in gushing terms about his look: “radiant, full, and bewitchingly beautiful, the eyes aglow with a merry twinkle, speaks of the Vishnutatva of the Avatar ” On one occasion Sai Baba stared long at me, but I wanted to see if anything could be experienced so I held his stare until it seemed he was trying to stare me down. I looked away, not wishing to offend him. Yet I felt or saw nothing unusual. Since I became a mature person I was naturally self-confident and not easily impressed by such things, so I laid no weight on the matter but only much later realised that he had probably been trying to defeat or  cow me. He had stared into the eyes of many visitors I met there, most of whom claimed some strong positive feelings. Not surprising, since most visitors have planned long, and longed to see this person and experience his wonders. Many are kept waiting for anything from weeks to years to meet his glance. , so being ‘recognised’ as it were was often a great relief and so brought forth very strong emotions.

This stare is one among a number of techniques for manipulating and confounding one’s following are unusual behaviour and actions. A well-known variant was the charismatic or mystical stare – almost comical, but no less effective when backed by power.

It is a relevant comparison that archive footage shows Hitler consciously trying to use his stare to appear charismatic. He would keep eye contact longer than was usual. One Nazi reported being looked at by Hitler: “That was one of the most curious moments of my life. The gaze, which at first rested completely on one suddenly went straight through me into an unknown distance. It was so strange.” Hitler also stated that he was guided by a mystical force (in his case  ‘providence’) and that he believed in himself on a messianic pattern became a major part of his appeal.

Charisma and sexual excesses

The possession of power, money and unquestioning followers, devotees and worshippers represents a sexual temptation that it is proven that many charismatic figures fall victim to. Of those so far mentioned here, it is known that Adolph Hitler, Mao Tse Tung, John Kennedy, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Colonel Gadaffi, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Colonel Gadaffi, and Sathya Sai Baba were major fornicators, while the apparently lesser philanderer Bill Clinton was caught out in this while in the office of President.

Sai Baba’s charisma and resultant social-political power were such that he was protected by a long series of Indian Prime Ministers, Presidents, and Supreme Court judges who had recognised him to be the most important spiritual figure in India and mostly endorsed and also often worshipped him in public well before his sins became widely known. They continued to uphold the chimera that Sai Baba was a holy man, not a sex abuser or a murder accomplice, since they had invested their prestige in him and had the collective power to cover-up for him on a large scale… and for India’s reputation too. His reputation as a major sexual abuser of boys and young men did not reach the media (apart from one book by Tal Brooke) until the Internet made it possible for those who left his following and were then excluded from all meetings and channels communications they had previously enjoyed to contact others by posting testimonies. This began in 1999 with a shocking paper by a couple who were among his very closest Western devotees, David and Faye Bailey, who had been asked by Sai Baba students David taught music to if he could help stop Sai Baba abusing them. He was then travelling the globe to promote Sai Baba and his teachings, but came across more and more parents who approached him about their sons’ reports. His resultant publication ‘The Findings’  elicited testimonies from young men around the world who each credibly described the manner of his seduction of them and all surrounding circumstances. A number of resulting ex-followers became activists investigating further and variously exposing Sathya Sai Baba through the Internet and various media, including major newspapers, videos and films (one landmark BBC film ‘The Secret Swami‘).

More data links Maharishi Mahesh Yogi remembered + interview with Linda Pearce  and  TMMovement

This blog is a continuation of two others:  The charismatic appeal of Sai Baba  — and Charisma of ‘Divine Incarnation’, Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba’s Public Use of English and its Perception by Devotees. Insights into his Charismatic Influence

Posted in Sathya Sai Baba | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Charisma of ‘Divine Incarnation’, Sathya Sai Baba

Posted by robertpriddy on August 6, 2014

Charisma with either humility or pride Those who qualify as charismatic figures most often consider themselves to be great in some sense, though there are those who humbly claim that ‘greatness was thrust upon them’. The Beatles, who largely had their feet on the ground and did not imagine they were great geniuses, exemplify this charisma-with-humility. What may be designated as good and well-meaning charismatics are those who kept within the bounds of the law and did not glorify themselves. For example, such persons as Winston Churchill, who famously said, “I have never accepted what many people have kindly said, namely that I inspired the nation.  It was a nation and race dwelling all round that had the lion heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.” Likewise John F. Kennedy, who was virtually worshipped as a sound American and whose murder traumatised many in the USA and worldwide. Further, Nelson Mandela became a most charismatic figure due to his personal qualities and resulting political and social achievements, but without self promotion or laying weight on his fame or becoming authoritarian and self-justifying. The Dalai Lama is an example of humility to the world.

Yet those with charisma who were rather the opposite include many famous dictators and supposed or would-be spiritual personages, holy gurus and self-appointed ‘god-avatars’. Such leaders thus often develop strong egocentric traits and not seldom also delusions of grandeur which can be so strong as to amount to a Messiah- or Jehovah-Complex. Countless names could be listed, but a few known self-glorifying religious charismatics who had fanatical followings and developed excessive such self-delusions and even megalomania  in recent times include (to pick out but a few) include Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the reverend Dr. Moon, Sathya Sai Baba, and Mata Amritanandamayi. In the secular sphere one must list Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Kim Il Sung, Colonel Gadaffi (to name but a few of the very worst). It is a defining hallmark of all these above-named and many another certain charismatic leader to be promoted as above and beyond normal frailties and acting and speaking accordingly.

Another feature charismatic is to pretend to unusual strength, whether physical or, more usually, mental-emotional and psychological strength. Imperturbability, uncommon tenacity of purpose and self-faith combined with decisiveness in action are the image aspired to. Whenever facts tend to contradict such claims, rationalisation and appeal to extenuating circumstances or laying blame at the doors of others gives the game away, but not the the already well-inducted follower who is always keen to accept such excuses. A contemporary example of the show of physical strength is Vladimir Putin, whose wide range of male macho activities have been filmed and propagated to boost his image (also because he is a rather short man).

One of the defining differences between greatness and self-invented delusions of grandeur has hardly been better expressed than as follows:- “Greatness is a transitory experience.  It is never consistent.  It depends in part upon the myth-making imagination of humankind.  The person who experiences greatness must have a feeling for the myth he is in.  He must reflect what is projected upon him.  And he must have a strong sense of the sardonic.  This is what uncouples him from belief in his own pretensions.  The sardonic is all that permits him to move within himself.  Without this quality, even occasional greatness will destroy a man.” Frank Herbert, from ‘Dune’ p. 100.

Charisma obviously often leads to fame and to worldly power, but it is different from either, though often closely related. One can of course be famous (or infamous) just for becoming widely known without having any following. Sai Baba repeatedly attacked those who had any desire for ‘name and fame’ in most scathing ways, but in all he said and did there is a very clear message that it was his name and fame that were of the greatest importance. To protect his name he produced constant self-propaganda in his discourses, as well as disinformation, false witness, major bribery, and murders. His attempts to convince his followers that he would be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize showed how desperate he was for the world fame that eluded him. He was never offered or received a single international award for his supposed services to mankind, which he claimed to exceed those of anyone else by ‘a thousandfold’.

 Charisma does not necessarily imply a personality cult, as one can see from many fortunate and admirable examples, but it did so to the highest degree thinkable in Sai Baba’s case; every item he touched was revered as holy and to be allowed to lie flat and kiss his bare feet was a blessing striven after, often quite hysterically. Sai Baba represented himself as identical to – a living re-embodiment of – the greatest God king heroes of Indian mythology Vishnu, Rama, and Krishna. He claimed also to embody Shiva-Parvati and other divines, including the Maharastran revered as a saint, Sai Baba of Shirdi, whose name he also usurped. Though others in India have long laid claim to being Rama’s or Krishna’s reincarnation, none have asserted themselves as the Deity of all Deities to such a degree, so often and for so long, nor have any had the same success. His earliest supporters in his home village, Puttaparthi, spread his name and miracle stories they had heard about him through the decades until a few excited foreign visitors wrote all these stories in English books and the gradual flow of visitors worldwide (and their wealth) grew and grew as the apparatus for inducting them into the seemingly-innocuous cult expanded and took on major propaganda proportions. Much of the perceived charisma of Sai Baba arose from only a relative few being able to meet him briefly in ‘interviews’ run strictly on his own conditions.

It is seen in many cases that discrepancies between word and deed, belief and reality, grow as charismatics’ social, financial or political power increases. The figurative ‘iron hand concealed in a velvet glove’ is then seldom far away. He went through transformations towards increasing dictatorial behaviour and his excessive claims increased and failed more noticeably to match up to reality (though his deeply indoctrinated devotee following could not allow themselves to notice such). His control of followers became more distant and stringent until a major killing spree in his temple complex occurred to which he was present while executions of four of his devotees were planned by his staff in conference with him and the local police (which were controlled by them). whereupon major security was later introduced with armed guards, and much expensive professional undercover surveillance to protect him (under the excuse that it was to protect his devotees). The history of diverse attempts to bring him to court and CBI investigation prove that he enjoyed blanket state protection from prosecution by the legal and political elites. He certainly managed to raise himself above the law and beyond any kind of public accountability for anything he did or said. Control of who could enter his presence was extremely careful and vetting was always carried out through his officials and office-bearers. This is a trait common to many charismatics who rise to an unassailable position, not to allow interviews except to persons under their spell. To avoid open debate is a self-protective and mind-control measure, and Sai Baba’s own education was so poor that he refused the Indian traditional form of scriptural debate challenge, such as when called upon in a letter from Sri Prabhupada.

Sai Baba’s wholly excessive claims increased and so failed more noticeably to match up to reality (though his devotees’ deep indoctrination could not allow themselves to notice such). Claims about transforming India to lead the entire world and bringing about world peace within a brief period were soon shown to be entirely baseless, and remain unfulfilled decades later. The institutions built up around him over which he ruled dictatorially, and likewise his international Sathya Sai Organisation, became what sociologists describe as ‘total institutions’, that is, self-contained islands isolated from society at large and run according to their own arbitrary rules. Having become surrounded by a court of true believers, sycophants and person who saw their fortune in him, Sai Baba became more and more divorced from society at large and sources of information about it and the world. That ‘divine insularity’ set stronger and stronger limitations on his outlook and many incidents demonstrated how he gradually lost control of his fiefdom, which was infiltrated by cliques and clandestine groups with quite other goals than those he propounded, especially regarding the control of funds and the minimal use of money in service work. As he became senile he became like a marionette in the hands of those who wielded the real power in the ashram.

Self-promoting charismatics invent or borrow a lineage from past heroes. They capitalise on chaotic and anarchic situation such as economic depression and extremes of insecurity so as to forward their agendas, promises of a bright future, re-establishing the greatness of their nation – in short, just what the populace wants to hear. As one prime example, Hitler presented himself as the regenerator of the Germanic heroes Herman (who defeated the Romans), Holy Roman Emperor Barbarossa, diverse Arian warlords and even deities of Norse mythology. He promised a Germanic utopia, the thousand year Reich – and found in the Jews a scapegoat for the ills of his compatriots. Such movements require strong symbols of a pseudo-mystical or religious nature. The Nazis used the Arian mystical symbol, the swastika.

Though Sathya Sai Baba was not intentionally a political leader but claimed to embody the gods of ancient India, he certainly promised the brightest of futures for India though his ‘dispensation’ – the regeneration of holiness, the Vedas, the ‘universal value teaching’ (sanathana dharma) and repeatedly stated that India would rise again to its former greatness as a moral preceptor which would eventually redeem the world from the evils of the age (the dark and fearful Kali Yuga) and shortly introduce a ‘Golden Age’. Among the many mystical symbols he used to that purpose were to seem to materialise healing ‘holy ash’ (vibuti) and ‘nectar of the gods’ (amrita) among many other religious substances and a wide variety of small ‘holy’ items, the constant use of hand signs or mudras, being mystical symbols like the ‘abhaya hasta‘ (divine blessing to remove all fear).

Also see The charismatic appeal of Sai Baba  and   Sathya Sai Baba’s charismatic look

Posted in Sathya Sai Baba | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Early Sai Baba aspirant eventually fully disillusioned

Posted by robertpriddy on August 4, 2014


After visiting a friend residing in a small “eclectic” ashram in New York City, I became a Sai devotee in spring of 1977.  My friend was deeply spiritual, a former Catholic seminarian, and showed me streams of vibhuti caking behind his glass-covered holy pictures [as best I recall, of Christ and Shirdi Sai Baba].

            In August that year I moved to reside in this ashram. It was guided by an openly gay, but spiritual westerner, an NYC native, who had visited Swami in India once or twice in approximately 1975-76. As I recall, he had had interviews with Swami . This “teacher” led our bhajan-singing and pujas, and also gave private interviews to us residents, both male and female, upstairs in his closed-door quarters. In October ’77, I first saw a video of Satya Sai Baba and was profoundly moved. On the ride home, I told my ashram friends “I’m going to live with Baba.”

            While preparing for what I intended to be a long stay, I did ardent sadhana, with daily prayers to Kali and to Baba.  I attended SSO bhajans at the Manhattan SAI Center. Just before I left, I had my own first interview with our teacher. During this private hour together, this man rubbed my genitals with oil and massaged my perineum. “Does this bother you?” he asked; “it’s a very holy Vedic practice for awakening your kundalini.” (See on Hal Honig here)

            At the time, I found this a strange practice. But I was somewhat new to Hinduism, and assumed the man’s statement was the accurate transmission of an adept to a chela.

            I arrived in Bombay in early January ’78, and proceeded by train direct to Whitefields. My first day on-line at darshan, Baba came straight to me and asked “Why did you wait so long to come?” He made vibhuti for me, watched lovingly while I ate it, and signed my copy of Vision of the Divine “with blessings, Sri Satya Sai Baba.”

           In these days, both at Vrindavan and Puttaparthi, there were generally only a small group of devotees, both Indian and foreign – usually fewer than 100 per day, unless the time was nearing a large festival. I had numerous invitations to take padnamaskar, but never was given an interview. Still, I was overjoyed to be with the “avatar,” engaged in daily pre-dawn sankirtan, lived many months in a tiny rented room in Kadugodi, reading Hindu books, meditating, satvic diet, etc.

            I was blinkered by the power of the Sai mystique, which I now understand is perpetuated primarily by the lips of our fellow devotees. I rejected any derogation of “my” Avatar. I was at Brindavan and Puttaparthi while the Sai Krishna scandal was just starting to die down, but I refused to investigate its core of facts, and its potential for leading me to see Baba’s chicanery. Likewise, in 1978, I refused to read or even listen to reference to Tal Brooke’s “Lord of the Air” [which I have since read, and which is – to my knowledge – the first thorough SSB-debunking in print].

            At Puttaparthi I was tutored in the Gayatri mantra and had extremely profound experiences. I felt that Baba was giving me the inner-view, and that he led me to 3 particular learning events, one of which was to journey to Calcutta for 4 months of city and village service work as one of Mother Teresa’s Missionary Brothers of Charity.

            During this latter period, I became inspired to create an “artisan uplift” import project to distribute Ganges-fired devotional statues in the West. I named the venture JBL Statues [for “Jai Bhagavan Leela” or “Praise the Miracles of Bhagavan,” a salutary chant familiar to all Sai devotees]. I returned to Whitefields, where Baba, on darshan line, “blessed” my written proposal for the venture.

           Returning to the USA after a year in India, I was briefly active in the Manhattan Center. Over the next 25 years JBL Statues grew to be a maker of “mythological figurines” from world spiritual traditions [see ]. I dedicated my daily yogas to Swami, and assumed he was still blessing my work. In 1996, our large statues were placed in the Foreigner’s Dining Hall at Puttaparthi, surrounding a life-size puja/photo of SSB.

            Interestingly, our artisans were never able to make a satisfactory image of Swami himself. Despite their mastery of murti-making detail, try as they would, Baba’s face always came out wrinkled in a sneer. I removed this statue from our offerings on our current Sacred Source website.

            Not until 2000 did a friend alert me to Swami’s pedophilia and homosexual assaults. Even though this charismatic old man’s acts are generally non-violent, “assaults” is the correct term, because they invade both the devotee or child’s body boundaries as well as his core of faith and trust.

            I am trained as a social worker. My wife is an expert on pedophile abuse. I spent 2001-02 helping edit her book [see ], which looks at the complexity of human sexuality, the need for human attachment, and the treacherous mode of betrayal when an ostensibly loving father is also interfering with the sexuality of his own, or any, child. Sai’s crime has been an order of magnitude larger, since he has put himself forward as “spiritual father,” before engaging wholesale in this same type of betrayal. This is an exact parallel to priest-pedophilia within the Catholic Church [a worldwide phenomena, though most recently and thoroughly documented in USA].

            Today I understand how I, and so many thousands of us who have gone to be with SSB, were snookered. I believe the vast majority of us post-Murphet-Sandweis-Hislop Westerners, dazzled by the breadth and splendor of Hinduism itself, were inducted by these and other devotees, as well as by Theosophist, Yogananda and other myths which had sifted westward for generations. Today, I see how I discovered SSB NOT because of his “calling to me,” but rather out of my own longing-filled, sincere, and deeply personal spiritual quest. This fact makes his depredations feel doubly treacherous.

The private inner worlds of children are vastly more precious and important than the princely temples of the so-called ‘holy man’ I once venerated. I believe Swami as a youth was a sincere seeker, but became trapped by a certain level of spiritual attainment. Now, despite the snowball effect, despite his organization’s capacity of “spiritual hypnotizing,” I suspect SSB himself is caught in a hell-loka.

Today I suspect that my NYC teacher learned his “spiritual fondling” technique from Baba himself, and imported it back to the USA. I call on every devotee to educate themselves as to Swami’s hundreds of acts of sexual deviancy [well attested to via Press and Web], and to renounce Satya Sai Baba. His deeds of child-violation belie his teachings. His actions are typical of a dangerous, predatory homosexual/pedophile. I believe SSB’s ashram, and SSO’s worldwide, fit the groupthink, denial and child misuse mechanisms that define a cult.

On the most positive possible note, I believe we each are called to encounter higher Self. We each have the power of choice in pursuing this ultimate search. Swami’s teachings, among others, facilitated this long, ardent process for me. But the answer, the sweet Source of spiritual and actual fulfillment, I have found, lies within. “If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him.”

Posted in Sathya Sai Baba | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Swami Nityananda failing to escape justice

Posted by robertpriddy on August 1, 2014

Click on image to go to source

Posted in Sathya Sai Baba | Leave a Comment »