Sathya Sai Baba Deceptions Exposed

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

Posts Tagged ‘Tulasi Srinivas’

Tulasi Srinivas ‘Winged Faith’ reviewed

Posted by robertpriddy on May 6, 2018

Review of “Winged Faith: Rethinking Globalization and Religious Pluralism through the Sathya Sai Movement” (Columbia University Press, 2010).

This book attempts to present what one would expect from a serious researcher, an independent and  balanced view of the matter. In this respect, Srinivas has made a greater attempt to include the sphere of facts and discussions that many other books and articles have avoided. Her book purposely avoids discussion of the true nature of Sai Baba, his pick-and-mix doctrines, vast claims of omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence, creator of the universe and much. much more that discredits him in the eyes of any reasonable person who is not brought up within a  Hindu mythological religion and ‘spirituality’ . Nor does she want to investigate the many cultish aspects of his organization, educational institutions and ashrams. She has at least taken up the major issues of some of the infamous murders in Sai Baba’s rooms and allegations of sexual abuse from young men all around the world, if only sketchily. Under typical academic and publishing restraints, however, Srinivas has erred rather on the side of undue caution about these two major crises for Sathya Sai Baba’s reputation and import in spiritual matters. I had an extended communication with her, helping her to penetrate the movement and correcting certain errors she made (though she has still made a number of serious factual blunders). However, she stated her aim with her work to me as follows:-

“I merely intended to note what devotees, ordinary people, and former devotees say about the Movement, Sai Baba himself, and the Organization and what happens within it. So it is much more about representation, perception and dialogue. While “facts” do weave in and out of the narrative, they have to, in my opinion, for validity of some of the representation, my search is much more about strands of knowledge and interpretation, which in most cases, as you know better than I do, is not about proving anything concrete.”

I must remark, however, that the work has a definite tendency towards explaining away conflicts of opinion, especially between those accusing Sai Baba of serious sexual abuse and those who believe it to be an ancient Indian method of sexual healing. She also virtually defends – on the basis of a (convenient) view of spirituality as a wholly private affair – the secrecy and silence of devotees who would not tell her anything she wanted to know and who almost entirely preferred not to speak about the sexual and murder issues. Her subject matter originally came to her through friends who were Sai devotees and she was clearly attracted by the promise of a major spiritual renewal that many people – including myself – thought he represented. She admits of being naive at the outset of her researches in that she did not realize the complex nature of the movement – the cult of secrecy, hierarchy and tensions within it, especially within the institutions – the Sai Organization, the Sai Central Trust and other bodies. Though she has been given much information from Sai movement insiders – including some about me – she failed signally to grasp the pernicious cultic and deceptive nature of Sai Baba and his minions. Though she referred to me and my writings in an acceptable enough manner, she ignored a great deal of the most important facts exposed by me and others I have reported on. She quotes the more reasonable things written, for example, by Ram Das , but leaves out his horrific and extensive justifications of direct sexual abuse by the Avatar for ‘karmic reasons’ etc. This kind of omission is typical of almost all she touched on

Unlike her, I am a dissident who sacrificed nearly two decades of my life to working for Sathya Sai Baba and Co., and – also unlike her – I have gone beyond academic appeasement of conflicting parties and become an activist with a clear duty to refute my former well-intended positive writings Therefore I disregarded the norms of not saying what one knows – common to those with the academic herd mentality of playing very safe – speaking my mind clearly and frankly and not opting for timidity towards one’s academic peers or betters. An amoral attitude under cover of a purely academic observer interest I consider simply morally wrong, as it always involves denial of key subject matter. Note further that, despite Srinivas’ hasty interview in the media rather over-endorsing the man and his movement after his controversial illness and death, Srinivas’ appreciation of the whole history shows itself as entirely out-dated.

Considering the subsequent consignment of Sai Baba as if to Coventry in the world and much of the Indian press, and his ignominious death under suspicious cover-up circumstances  it is now much more a case of ‘Broken Wings and Mistrust’ than ‘Winged Faith’. All the deceptions involving the Central Trust exposed by the Indian media put matters in a far different light to the formerly unchallenged propaganda by his minions when we learned of the later of hoarding of private wealth on a huge scale by Sai Baba when his apartments were opened, the bitter battles over ‘succession’ and the huge wealth involved, the police investigations of the secreting of massive funds from Puttaparthi in vans and buses where members of the supposedly impeccable Trust were involved, and public allegations that the Sai Trust murdered Sathya Sai Baba. Tulasi Srinivas evidently did not make a very serious study of the infamous murders incident in Sathya Sai Baba’s apartment in 1993 (as I have done), though she chose to present her own view of the matter, clearly only a personal and poorly documented opinion based on a narrow segment of the available materials. She did not, however, have access to the testimony of the eyewitness dissident, Eileen Weed, who observed from the apartment of Sai Baba’s elder sister and learned of the whole dirty affair and the massive bribes paid out directly afterwards by Sai Baba.

“They knifed Mr. Radhakrishnan who was in a room nearby, as well as another close devotee, Mr. Mahajan (who survived) and ran to an inner room and bolted themselves in.” Nothing could be clearer from the documents that Mahajan did NOT survive the attack, so Srinivas made a major and revealing error, one of many similar in her book. Tulias Srinivas does not consider the massed evidence collected by the national award-winning sceptic, Basava Premanand, such as in his very voluminous book ‘Murders in Sai Baba’s Bedroom’, nor his other clarificatory writings. She does not refer to what was revealed to me by V.K. Narasimhan, the editor of Sai Babas’s journal and a very close servitor about the role of Sai Baba’s younger brother (Janakiramiah) in causing and endorsing the police executions, not of his complicity with the then Indian Home Minister (S.B. Chavan) nor take any notice of his frenetic activities in dealing with the issue – frequent flights to Sai Baba to confer with him, as recorded throughout the Indian press in dozens of articles (see some here – India’s Home Minister could not avoid investigation by CBI, but quashed it laterThe quashing of the entire case, after maximum confusion had been created by the involved parties, including Sai Baba himself who was never questioned. Nor does she address Sai Baba’s own inconsistencies and rumour-spreading in his subsequent discourse some weeks later. See also this review:-

Kevin R.D. Shepherd on biased research by academic Tulasi Srinivas

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Tulasi Srinivas and her research into Sathya Sai Baba issues

Posted by robertpriddy on September 7, 2011

An academic professor, a lady of Indian origin and leaning, Tulasi Srinivas, has published a book about Sathya Sai Baba and his influence on reviving religious faith on a global basis.  (Winged Faith: Rethinking Globalization and Religious Pluralism through the Sathya Sai Movement (Columbia University Press, 2010). This book attempts to present what one would expect from a serious researcher, an independent and  balanced view of the matter. In this respect, Srinivas has made an attempt to include the sphere of facts and discussions that the few other more or less academic works have avoided (making them peripheral and misleading as guides to the true nature of Sai Baba’s doctrines, organizations and activities). She at least took up the the infamous murders in Sai Baba’s rooms and allegations of sexual abuse from young men all around the world. Under typical academic and publishing restraints, however, Srinivas has erred very much on the side of undue caution about these two major crises for Sathya Sai Baba’s reputation and import in spiritual matters. I had an extended communication with her, helping her to penetrate the movement and correcting certain errors she made (though she has still made a large number of factual blunders). However, she stated her aim with her work to me as follows:-

I merely intended to note what devotees, ordinary people, and former devotees say about the Movement, Sai Baba himself, and the Organization and what happens within it. So it is much more about representation, perception and dialogue. While “facts” do weave in and out of the narrative, they have to, in my opinion, for validity of some of the representation, my search is much more about strands of knowledge and interpretation, which in most cases, as you know better than I do, is not about proving anything concrete.”

I must remark, however, that the work has a definite tendency towards explaining away conflicts of opinion, especially between those accusing Sai Baba of serious sexual abuse and those who believe it to be an ancient Indian method of sexual healing. She also virtually defends – on the basis of a (convenient) view of spirituality as a wholly private affair – the secrecy and silence of devotees who would not tell her anything she wanted to know and who almost entirely preferred not to speak about the sexual and murder issues.

Her subject matter originally came to her through friends who were Sai devotees and she was clearly attracted by the promise of a major spiritual renewal that many people – including myself – thought he represented. She admits of being naive at the outset of her researches in that she did not realize the complex nature of the movement – the cult of secrecy, hierarchy and tensions within it, especially within the institutions – the Sai Organization, the Sai Central Trust and other bodies. Though she has been given much information from Sai movement insiders – including some about me – she failed signally to grasp the pernicious cultic and deceptive nature of Sai Baba and his minions. Though she referred to me and my writings in an acceptable enough manner, she ignored a great deal of the most important facts exposed by me and others I have reported on. She quotes the more reasonable things written, for example, by Ram Das , but leaves out his horrific and extensive justifications of direct sexual abuse by the Avatar for ‘karmic reasons’ etc. This kind of omission is typical of almost all she touched on.

Unlike her, I am a dissident who sacrificed nearly two decades of my life to working for Sathya Sai Baba and Co., and – also unlike her – I have gone beyond academic appeasement of conflicting parties and become an activist with a clear duty to refute my former well-intended positive writings and therefore to disregard the norms of not saying what one knows, speaking my mind clearly and frankly and not opting for timidity towards one’s academic peers or betters. An amoral attitude under cover of a purely academic observer interest I consider simply morally unjustified, as it always involves denial of key subject matter. Note further that, despite Srinivas’ hasty interview in the media rather over-endorsing the man and his movement after his controversial illness and death, Srinivas’ appreciation of the whole history shows itself as entirely out-dated. Considering the subsequent consignment of Sai Baba as if to Coventry in the world press, including most Indian outlets nowadays, it is now much more a case of ‘Broken Wings and Mistrust’ than ‘Winged Faith’. All the deceptions involving the Central Trust exposed by the Indian media put matters in a far different light to the formerly unchallenged propaganda by his minions when we learned of the later of hoarding of private wealth on a huge scale by Sai Baba when his apartments were opened, the bitter battles over ‘succession’ and the huge wealth involved, the police investigations of the secreting of massive funds from Puttaparthi in vans and buses where members of the supposedly impeccable Trust were involved, and public allegations that the Sai Trust murdered Sathya Sai Baba.

Tulasi Srinivas evidently did not make a very serious study of the infamous murders incident in Sathya Sai Baba’s apartment in 1993 (as I have done), though she chose to present her own view of the matter, clearly only a personal and poorly documented opinion based on a narrow segment of the available materials. She did not, however, have access to the testimony of the eyewitness dissident, Eileen Weed, who observed from the apartment of Sai Baba’s elder sister and learned of the whole dirty affair and the massive bribes paid out directly afterwards by Sai Baba. For a start, she writes:-

“They knifed Mr. Radhakrishnan who was in a room nearby, as well as another close devotee, Mr. Mahajan (who survived) and ran to an inner room and bolted themselves in.”

Nothing could be clearer from the documents that Mahajan did NOT survive the attack, so Srinivas made a major and revealing error, one of many similar in her book. Tulias Srinivas does not consider the massed evidence collected by the national award-winning sceptic, Basava Premanand, such as in his very voluminous book ‘Murders in Sai Baba’s Bedroom’, nor his other clarificatory writings. She does not refer to what was revealed to me by V.K. Narasimhan, the editor of Sai Babas’s journal and a very close servitor about the role of Sai Baba’s younger brother (Janakiramiah) in causing and endorsing the police executions, not of his complicity with the then Indian Home Minister (S.B. Chavan) nor take any notice of his frenetic activities in dealing with the issue – frequent flights to Sai Baba to confer with him, as recorded throughout the Indian press in dozens of articles (see some here – India’s Home Minister could not avoid investigation by CBI, but quashed it laterThe quashing of the entire case, after maximum confusion had been created by the involved parties, including Sai Baba himself who was never questioned. Nor does she address Sai Baba’s own inconsistencies and rumour-spreading in his subsequent discourse some weeks later.

Continuing in her inaccurate style, Srinivas writes: “Former devotee Tal Brooke tested out several possible gurus –  living and dead – including Sri Ramakrishna, Ramana Maharshi, Sri Aurobindo, Paramahamsa Yogananda, and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He then traveled to India in 1969 and, in January 1970, encountered Sathya Sai Baba and became a devotee/disciple, writing several books…. One could argue that Tal Brooke was a spiritual tourist for the twenty-odd years he was a Sathya Sai devotee.” (Chapter 2 – footnote 5). Firstly, since his first book exposing Sai Baba including his sexual exploits with followers was published in 1975, he was NOT a devotee for twenty-odd years, but only 14 years at most and secondly, his involvement with the teachings of other gurus preceded his time with Sathya Sai Baba. Very sloppy handling of facts by Srinivas again. Further more far-reaching criticism of ‘Winged Faith’ has already been posted at: Kevin R.D. Shepherd on biased research by academic Tulasi Srinivas

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Kevin R.D. Shepherd on biased research by academic Tulasi Srinivas

Posted by robertpriddy on September 5, 2011

The UK independent scholar, Kevin R.D. Shepherd, has written a very well-balanced and factually correct assessment of the academic work by an ethnic Indian professor, Tulasi Srinivas. He points out substantial omissions in her research, errors and more. The whole article is too long to summarize properly here, so those who may be interested are directed to the on-line URL at Tulasi Srinivas and Winged Faith

Srinivas goes further than several previous academic papers and books about Sathya Sai Baba, his movement and organization, but not as far as other very critical academic writings (nor, of course as far as Professor Dale Beyerstein’s seminal work). She does at least point out the cult of secrecy and rebuffs she met about information which I predicted in answer to her queries: that she would encounter a wall when she approached the office-bearers of the Sathya Sai Organization.  She writes: “the upper orders of the [Sathya] Sai movement do not appreciate democracy, equality, or openness” (Winged Faith, p. 252). She relates that “I found I was waging an uphill battle when I tried to discuss the scandal and the embedded issue of secrecy” (Winged Faith, p. 236). However, she ignores much of the soundest and most incriminating documentation about her subject sent to her on her own request by several dissidents in long exchanges of e-mails. Her work is strongly marked by an evident desire to endorse most ofthe Sathya Sai Baba teaching and movement by the following overall assessment: As Shepherd writes: “Srinivas ends with the contention, inherently favourable to the SSO, about the generation of a language “toward an engaged cosmopolitanism that is a necessary condition for multicultural societies to live in civility; this is the basis of a new pluralism” (ibid., p. 342). Further, the “grammar of diversity is about inclusion” (ibid.).”

Excerpt from Kevin R.D. Shepherd's article on Professor Tulasi Srinivas - on the issue of sex abuse and supposedly 'materialized objects'

The whole work, though including some (rather mild) critical assessments of some aspects of Sai Baba and his organization, leans unduly towards a kind of appeasement of Sathya Sai devotees. She is, of course, herself of Indian origin and has made known through her mails to me that she has friends among Sathya Sai devotees. Though I present some of her welcome criticism of the Sathya Sai organization here, her work is very largely in support of the so-called “Sai spiritual movement” as one having an essentially universalist religious import and as inspiring many to social work and charity. She does not explain why Sai Baba rejected – and was rejected by – the inter-faith movement everywhere (despite vain attempts by some followers to engage with these bodies), as well as all UN organizations they approached. She ignores the many facts that show that the ‘teachings’ of Sathya Sai Baba are mainly Hindu doctrine, and she makes no room for Buddhist or Islamic ideas of any note (all that diverges from his Vedic-based viewpoint is ignored totally). Nor is the SB representation of Christianity in accordance with historical facts nor with many of the deeply held beliefs of Christians (especially the ‘only true Saviour’ thesis).

Tulasi Srinivas shows how much she endorses Sathya Sai Baba - perhaps she has an explanation of his vast secret hoarding of precious metals, currency notes, precious diamonds, huge quantities of goods, including perishable dried fruit and biscuits beyond their sell.by dates in caches under his vast bed and many other secret places. If so, she is very silent now!

Srinivas mostly adopts the false neutrality of a semi-apologist in partial disguise – fence-sitting or dissimulating where genuine issues of the supposed truthfulness and validity of Sai Baba’s doctrines and actual behaviour arise; she tries to defuse issues by a bogus claim that the truth of  many disputed facts are merely a matter of differing ‘interpretation’ of them by the opposing parties, as evident from the following direct quotation from her book:-  “Anti-Sai activists argue that the sexual behaviour (if it did happen) is criminal behaviour, while devotees argue that it is a pathway to spiritual betterment. I suggest that these two versions of truth are both valid to the participants” (ibid., p. 269).” Here she adopts the biased generalization ‘anti-Sai activists’ which was introduced by the most aggressive and defamatory critic of all dissidents. Those diverse and independent persons branded by Srinivas as a group include both ex-devotees and independent critics who also have divergent views on various aspects of Sathya Sai Baba and the many issues at stake, each according to their various experiences and sources. This is simply too amateurish from a professor. Facts are either facts or not, interpretations are another matter. That she is far from being a hard-working researcher with any eye for detail and ability to incorporate anything like the full scope of the issues central to any assessment of SB and Co. became all too obvious during her lengthy e-mail exchanges with Brian Steel, Barry Pittard and myself. She asked lots of questions which could have been answered by a simple search of book indexes, not to mention Google and other search engines, but usually ignored the detailed information she received in return. She also failed to provide the correct URLs of the materials of mine which she asked for from me, instead printing long-defunct URLs instead of the correct ones sent to her (one may wonder why?). 

Among her sins of omission is the remarkable avoidance of one of Sathya Sai Baba’s most active opponents, the Indian Sceptic’s Basava Premanand, subsequently also the award-winning Profesor Narendra Nayak’s exposures. Further, she obscures numerous prominent Indian critics of Sathya Bai Baba through the decades, such as Professor Narasimhaiah of Bangalore University, nor the exposure of Sai Baba by the famous stage magician Abraham Kovoor. 

Ref. Winged Faith: Rethinking Globalization and Religious Pluralism through the Sathya Sai Movement by Tulasi Srinivas (Columbia University Press, 2010) 

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