The almost undisturbed positive reputation for decades of Sathya Sai Baba as a holy man and avatar – until 2000 – was achieved by him through his acute perceptions of people and manipulation of them made possible once the coterie around him was established to make him invulnerable to exposure or criticism. Above all, he was by and large a very sharp judge of people’s personal strengths and weaknesses. He could immediately recognise a threat to his hegemony and also the slightest critical attitude towards him or his many indoctrinating ‘teachings’. As his control of his following grew to near totalitarian proportions, no one was allowed near him who he decided was unwelcome. He always kept people waiting, for hours before darshan, for weeks, months even years for an interview. He also revelled in his power over important people, as witnessed strikingly by what he told Anil Kumar (see excerpt from his talks at foot of blog).
The key to acceptance by him was total obeisance, whereupon one may be invited to a group interview. In advance of that, visitors were vetted for their attitudes through a variety of subtle means. Identifying them, discovering their backgrounds, likely importance and wealth, began with the registration process at the ashram which included surrender of passport for official checks, diverse questioning and assessment by the loyal staff at the various offices through which visitors had to apply (public relations, accommodation office etc.). This was backed up by covert surveillance of visitors through the large ashram staff of workers and selected service volunteers, plus undercover security personnel, all of whom reported any suspicious activities, overheard opinions or details of likely interest to the ashram authorities. Useful information was given to Sai Baba first thing every morning by the head of the ashram or deputies (before he went out to be seen (darshan) in public and inspect the gathering.
Among those waiting on the veranda or in the darshan lines were always many of his more or less trusted VIP persons, leaders of his organisation and institutions and of the visiting groups from the various nations (with their identifying scarves). He would glean information about the groups from them in brief exchanges before eventually choosing one or another group and individuals for the morning interview. The same procedure followed in the afternoon darshan and interview session.
One of his main actions during darshan was to collect letters proffered to him in their hundreds every day. These contained the private communications and requests of the writers, no doubt often very revealing of their real personalities on which he could base his decisions about interviews and, not least, note obscure details which he could later use as evidence of ‘all-knowingness’ in group interviews.
He made great use of promises (seldom kept, but mostly considered a part of his ‘inscrutable mystery’). He would raise hopes by vague assent to questions through smiles, nods, even winks. He made great use markedly ignoring people he was either ‘softening up’ for some purpose, while rejecting others outright. Expressions of anger and corrective stares were not uncommon. In some instances he would say a flattering thing to a person or welcome a newcomer effusively, and to their astonishment sometimes by name. Yet lists of names of new visitors were frequently given him in advance by his minions. For example, I was once asked by a close servitor of his to compile such a list for presentation to him in expectation of a group interview. I was also asked by that person (VKN) if certain persons from my part of the world had arrived yet, or were on their way, because Swami was eager to know! Yet he claimed to be omniscient. All part of his educating us to his ‘uncertainty’, keeping us on our spiritual toes by his ‘pretending’ to have ordinary human traits. Oh, the despicability of it all!
The above techniques, extremely effective in commanding obedient obeisance, were still only preliminaries to his more thorough deceits and manipulations. He had at his command the resources to bribe persons he decided were indoctrinated and least wilful enough to be used tools to his own ends. The bribes were often clever; he would mark out persons of some influence he thought easily manipulated and give them privileges such as a free apartment, some valuable golden statue (note the huge golden cricket cup given to Tendulkar), or all manner of supposedly ‘divine’ amulets and baubles. He gave rings to person who were estimated beforehand to be capable of thanking him with large donations… clever deception in the age-long Indian tradition. For seriously necessary cover-ups the bribes were often huge (and he had obtained the means and more under false ‘miraculous’ pretences). See how he silenced his extended family with huge sums on his murder involvement in 1993 (documented here).
The entire mental-emotional control system is embedded in Sai teachings in dozens of ways, always making Sai Baba seem responsible for nothing untoward, but only for good events, while he always contradictorily claimed he was all-powerful! Everyone else but Sai Baba was at fault and the cause of all their own ills. This ‘spiritual agenda’ of self-denial and glorification of Sai Baba induces further self-indoctrination towards utter self-denial and divorce from normal human life and rights by those who humbly try to follow it. It leads to nervous and social breakdowns, often of a tragic kind (except among the hypocritical devotees who ignore any divine directives as they see fit).
The above only describes a selection of Sai Baba’s deceptions. Read more:-
SATHYA SAI BABA’S DELUDING TECHNIQUE – ‘MAYA’
FRAUD, LEGARDEMAIN, RUMOUR-SPREADING & LIES BY SAI BABA
The Prashanthi Nilayam clown, Anil Kumar Kamaraju employs humour and stories to draw Sai followers, and the result is often very revealing of his Lord and Master, such as:-
“Then Bhagavan said, “The President from Sri Lanka came this morning and yesterday. Her brother was here. He is to become President very soon.” Swami was saying this, “President from Sri Lanka, she and her brother – they’re all here.”
“Further, He said, “Very soon you’ll find the Prince of Kashmir, Sardar Karan Singh. He’ll be visiting here. Do you know Karan Singh?”
Anil Kumar replied: “Karan Singh is known to everybody, Swami. He was the Minister for External Affairs for some time and Ambassador to the United States for some time.” Then, the most important point I’m yet to mention. “Then he addressed the International Cardiologist Conference here in Prashanti Nilayam. The International Conference of Cardiothorastic [sic] Surgeons Conference – heart specialists – was held here twice, and Karan Singh was Chief Guest once.”
Kumar then concludes that “… this is important, the third important statement: “All want to be here. All VIPs, heads of governments, many, many people want to be here. But still I’m not giving them ample chances. I am not permitting them to be here. They’re all waiting … waiting for Swami’s permission.”” (See source http://www.saibaba.ws/ak_satsang/2002/2002Sep01.htm)