Whole family suicide at Prashanthi Nilayam
4-12-1998. In a hotel near the Satya Sai Airport, Ramesh aged 42, a multimillionaire industrialist in Tiruchirappally, owner of RMH Corporation, was found dead with seven other family members lying unconscious on the floor frothing at the mouth beside his daughter who already died of a brain tumour the day before. Six died within the day, while one person survived (Shankar). The police concluded that the whole family committed suicide because of the daughter’s death and the shock this was to their faith in Sai Baba, who they had expected to save her. There was a suicide note: “God has forsaken us. I had great affection and love for my daughter. So we are going to the place where she has gone. No one is responsible for our death. I myself have influenced all the members to commit suicide to become one with Sai Baba. We are offering ourselves at his feet. All our properties have to be transferred to the Satya Sai Trust. The shradda ceremony should be done by my friend Ramakrishnan.”
Another suicide incident: On Sunday May 13, 1990, Keith Ord and I, Alexandra Nagel, left Whitefield and booked a cheap hotel room in Bangalore. On May 15, Keith had to go back for some business to Sai Baba’s ashram in Whitefield, and returned in the evening with the story that some Indian man during the afternoon darshan had caused uproar. He seemed to have accused Sai Baba of certain things or so. The seva dals, the people who lead the masses in the ashram in good order, had put the man, on Baba’s request, outside the gate of the ashram. The following morning, (Monday 14), the man had arrived again. He then, outside the entrance, poured gasoline on himself and put himself to fire. The next day he had died of his wounds. Baba apparently had done nothing, and except a few, no one actually had done something to help the man. As if everybody had been indifferent.
Similar Suicide by Baba’s long-term personal driver: An Indian man used to drive Sai Baba’s car from the 1950s until about 1986 (he is mentioned in Kasturi’s biography of Sai Baba as having driven over a snake, for which Sai Baba admonished him). He was out driving alone when he knocked down and killed a villager near Puttaparthi. The ashram authorities at Prashanthi Nilayam – in the absence of Sai Baba at Whitefield – hushed up the accident directly by paying the relatives compensation. The driver was immediately excluded from the ashram permanently, where he had lived for decades. He had recently been warned by Sai Baba to drive more carefully. He had nowhere to go, and no means of livelihood, whereupon he sat before the Shiva statue in the Hillview Stadium, doused himself in petrol and set fire to it. He died of his injuries. This account was given to me, Robert Priddy, by V.K. Narasimhan when I asked him to clear up the matter I had from another source. The same man was described in Kasturi’s biography of Sai Baba (Sathyam, Shivam, Sundaram) as having once driven over a snake while driving Sai Baba. Sai Baba had reporterdly afterwards shown him the tire marks on his own body! Believe that who can!
Student dies in car crash A fatal incident happened in 1989 when two of Swami’s students – who all said were very special boys of his – died of their injuries in a car accident. One boy had written a note that was found in his trouser pocket in which he begged Swami to merge with him as he had already seen enough! Baba reportedly said to the doctors, who felt they should have got the boy to Bangalore to try to save him, that they should not confuse practicality with Grace. Referring to this incident, John Behner, a devotee from El Salvador and the Zonal Chairman of International Sai Organisation, Zone-II (Latin America), sent an e-mail (in 1997) to someone called ‘Ricardo’ in which he included the information: “In 1989, students and professors of the I.H.L. they received the same instruction of Swami. They followed their hearts and was a tremendous accident in Chittalapur when their omnibus hit a truck. Two died, including the son of P.K. Suri, covenor of the S.S. Book Trust. Another one was in comma several days.” The context was whether or not one should follow one s heart (inclination) or follow Sawmi’s exact words… where doing the former led to disaster several times.
Three die after putting faith in guru. Dominic Kennedy reported (27-8-2001) in The Times (London) that three British men died mysteriously after becoming followers of Sathya Sai Baba and that his activities were being studied by the Foreign Office which was planning to send out a warning against the guru to travellers. Three Britons apparently took their lives after having placed their hopes in Sai Baba. One had complained of being repeatedly sexually molested by Sathya Sai Baba at his ashram in Puttaparthi near Bangalore.
Michael Pender was found dead at a London hostel from alcohol and painkillers. He had previously tried to take his own life at Sathya Sai Baba’s ashram. He is reported as having told his frined Matthjis and others how he has been made to do oral sex on Sai Baba. This is described here.
Aran Edwards was found at home in Cardiff; he hanged himself, despite having joined a Sai Baba support group where he was told to write to the guru for help with his psychological problems. His father sent many anxious letters to Sai Baba but “was devastated after receiving no replies and being told that the guru did not read his mail”.
Suicide by British follower Andrew Richardson, a South African-born Britian, jumped from the top of a building in India just after visiting Sai Baba’s ashram. Tom Sackville, a former Home Office Minister, urged the Government to take decisive action to warn teachers and pilgrims of the dangers of becoming involved with Sathya Sai Baba. Mr Sackville, chairman of the anti-cult organisation Fair (Family Action Information and Resource) told that they had successfully persuaded a girls’ school to reject a Sai Baba-inspired course. Mr Sackville was reported as saying”Some other countries would have had official warnings.” and he called on the Foreign Office to issue a warning against Sai Baba along the lines of recommendations to travellers to beware the dangers of Aids and violence abroad.
Two women devotees of Sai Baba commit suicide Press report. BANGALORE, APRIL 20. Two members of a family from Chennai, said to be devotees of Sri Satya Sai Baba, reportedly committed suicide in a City hotel as they were unable to get his “darshan.”
The dead were identified as Seethamal (58) and her daughter Usharani (35). Usharani’s son, Srikrishna (17), who attempted to commit suicide, is in a serious condition in Victoria Hospital here, according to the police.
The Assistant Commissioner of Police (Chikpet), Mr. G. A. Bava, said the police found a suicide note in Tamil in which the three persons gave the reason for their action.
According to the police, the three came to Bangalore on April 17 for a “darshan” of Sri Satya Sai Baba at Whitefield. On reportedly failing to get a “darshan” they consumed an excess dose of sleeping pills in a bid to end their life.
The incident came to light on Tuesday afternoon when the room boys noticed blood from one of the rooms. They informed the police who broke open the doors to find the decomposed body of Seethamal. Usharani and Srikrishna were alive. The police made arrangements to shift them to Victoria Hospital but Usharani died en route. Police suspect the three to have consumed sleeping pills on Monday.
Police found more than 50 strips of tablets and empty beer bottles in the room and suspect that the pills were consumed after mixing them with beer. Usharani, who was a member of an institution run by Satya Sai Baba’s Ashram, possessed an identity card issued by the institutions. The dead left behind Rs. 2,000 for distribution among the poor.
The address of the victims was given as No.9, Vigneshwaranagar, I Main Road, Vadapalani, Chennai-28. In the suicide note, they said that information of their death was to be given on telephone 4844417, which is said to be that of one Mr. Rajeshwar. Upparpet police have registered a case.
Unsolved Mystery of Persons Missing in Puttaparthi (Telugu Newspaper clipping about people vanishing at Puttaparthi. Translation into English) Praja Shakti, Telugu Daily, Hyderabad Edition dated 11.2.1995, page 2 Dharmavaram, Feb.10:
People are worried about the sudden vanishing of 3 persons in Puttaparthi, the well known spiritual center of Sathya Sai Baba. One lady and a foreigner are amongst the missing people. Facts on these missing people are not yet revealed. These are the details. Mr.Sanjay Yadav (31) belonging to Babulgan Town of Yavathmal district in Maharashtra visited Puttaparthi on 19th November 1994. His wife Mrs. Jyothi and his brother-in-law Tharkeshwar reported to the police station that he was missing since November 21st. Similarly on 19.12.1994, Mahamaya Sadhuka (24) belonging to North Jowpore Dahee area of Howrah District of West Bengal, had vanished all of a sudden while making purchases in Puttaparthi with her friends. Her friends N.Gangoolee and M.Supritimanna reported this to the local police station.
While the above two cases worried the devotees visiting Puttaparthi, an incident of a Russian citizen missing took place. On 16th January 1995 Atancherg and his friend Alexander from Russia came to Puttaparthi. On 22nd January they registered their names in the male Ward Shed No.21 at Prashantinilayam and stayed over there. They got introduced to Slacheko and Cheksplier Vadimir of Moscow also staying in the same shed. These four Russians on 25.1.1995 visited Erra Kondalu (Red Hills) on the east of Puttaparthi. At 12.30 noon, an unknown youth came there and took away Mr.Atancherg along with him. Since he never returned back, his friends Alexander Slacheko and Checksplier Vadimir reported the same to Puttaparthi Police Station. It is understood that Atancherg was carrying a video camera worth more than twentyfive thousand rupees. All these three missing one after the other within a short period, the public here are scared.
Visitors murdered: A foreign woman devotee was found murdered close to the wish-fulfilling tree in Puttaparthi one morning (date uncertain, but in the late 1980s). She had apparently been robbed of belongings. Another Westerner – German-speaking woman, was murdered in the ashram in the early 1990’s, reported a contact of ours (Mrs. Marge hendel) who visited there not long after the event, of which – with considerable shock – she heard from other devotees. The murder was confirmed to me by Mr. Thorbjørn Meyer – Central Coordinators of the Sathya Sai Organization, Europe. The lady was robbed of a very large sum of money, which was taken by the Puttaparthi police in return for the release of the two murderers, two brothers from Puttaparthi. V.K. Narasimhan told me that this fact was used by Sai baba’s younger brother, Janaki Ramiah, and other members of the ashram/Central Trust to blackmail the police into murdering in cold blood in a hail of rifle fire the four trapped intruders in Sai Baba’s bedroom in June 1993. (Robert Priddy)
Kidney theft case involving Sathya Sai Baba’s SS-Hospital Raghu Ram of the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Thursday admitted a writ petition seeking initiation of criminal prosecution against the doctors of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Puttaparthi in Anantapur district alleging malpractices regarding the transplantation of kidney.
The writ petition has been filed by Balaji Triambak Rao Karavande, who has alleged that the doctors of the institute removed a kidney from his body and did not transplant the same to his father… After he offered to donate one of his kidneys to save his father’s life, the doctors at the institute operated on him on April 25 1994 and told him that the same would be transplanted to his father.
BT Karavande said that his father died in December 1995 and to his shock the doctors claimed that his father’s body did not show signs of a new transplanted kidney. He informed the court that after this revelation, he lodged a complaint with the Latur [Maharashtra] police, who exumed the body, conducted a post-mortem, and confirmed that no kidney transplant has taken place.
He alleged that the police at Puttaparthi did not register the complaint and that he was thrown out of the hospital when he confronted the doctors with the relevant documents. He sought compensation of Rs 20 lakh and direction to the police to register a case and punish the guilty who played fraud upon him.” This story is also reported in The Hindu, Hyderabad, 5.11.99.
Murders to cover up wrong-doings etc.: B. Premanand, who claims that he remains alive only because he is a prominent sceptic and critic of Sai Baba, and who has filed several lawsuits against Sathya Sai Baba has written:
“I have the records of more than a hundred persons destroyed by the Satya Sai Baba gang beginning with one Mr. Venkatamuni of Madras who was done away at Madurai in an air conditioned room and then after getting death certificates from doctors taken to Madras by Satya Sai Baba in his own car and cremated without giving any information to the police and thus hushing up the matter. Afterwards the doctors who gave the death certificates aslo succumbed to death. In these deaths the mode of operation is in five ways: 1. Death by car accidents. 2. Death by Heart failure. 3. Death by poisoning. 4. Death by hanging. 5. Death by drowning. In the third para of this letter I have informed you about the notice distributed by the lady teacher of the Satya Sai Vidya Peeth at Puramala near Quilandy. A copy of that notice was sent to me by the husband of the lady teacher. Then itself I had replied him that he being alone he will be harassed by the Satya Sai Baba Trust who have high influence in Government, Police and Judiciary and so he may loose his job also, thus to strangulate him economically and so he should be careful…”
“You also know that I have filed a complaint with the Press Council of India, because your editor Mr. V.P. Ramachandran did not publish my reply to the letter of Mr. P. Chandu Nayar which was totally false even if you take into consideration or the news published by you earlier beginning from 1970. Because the Press Council had accepted my complaint, I thought that witnesses may be necessary and I wrote a letter to Mr. Chandrachoodan who was the husband of the teacher who was dismissed for the notice. The letter came back with the inscription “EXPIRED”. So I again wrote to his wife and I was shocked to know that she also expired. When I enquired I found that the whole family, Mr. & Mrs. Chandrachoodan and their 4 year child died of poisoning at Palani on 30.10.1981 just one month from the date of receipt of my letter of 28.9.1981 by Justice V. Balakrishna Eradi, Dr. P.B. Menon and P. Chandu Nayar. I am informed that the cause for death was unknown. From the investigations I have conducted about the hundreds of such deaths who once were with Satya Sai Baba, I have to doubt that this is also a murder as they were in the know of what was happening in the school. The police have simply closed the case as suicide by poison. After coming to know of this death I searched the old copies of the newspapers and found that this death news was published by Mathrubhumi and Malayala Manorama on 4.11.1981. Luckily I had purchased some copies of this days newspapers as the news of gifting 13 acres of our land in Shrishaila to Keltron so that it would help about 400 families to earn their livelihood by sweat.”
(from a letter to Shri M.P. Veerendra Kumar, Chairman & Managing Director, Kozhikode on 7.8.1983)
See overview of murders in Sathya Sai Baba’s ashram – links