Will India’s New Backlash Against Corruption Lash Sathya Sai Baba?
Posted by Barry Pittard on January 24, 2007
In India and many other countries, critics of Sathya Sai Baba and his core leaders wish to see proper government, police and judicial actions. Those who defend him in public like Dr. G. Venkataraman, head of Radio Sai International and deputy chairman of the world Sathya Sai Organisation, badly represent this aim. They conceal the fact that many well-reputed and competent men and women, including top leaders (some resigned, some summarily cast out) once esteemed throughout Sai Baba’s worldwide organisation, have investigated the allegations, been horrified, and called for proper duty-of-car and accountability. However, given the extremity of the spiritual, moral and ethical betrayals, one may trust that truth and conscience will eventually force the issue. Organised former devotees worldwide are, and have long been, willing to face the most rigorous third party questioning by any competent authority. The Sathya Sai Organisation is, Soviet-style, impervious to outside questioning. Documentaries viewed by millions such as UK Channel 4′ ‘The Guru Busters’, The BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’, DR (Denmark)’s ‘Seduced’, AZUL TV’s ‘The Sinful God’ and other exposures by leading media in the world have convinced all but blinded apologists and the ill-informed of this fact.
“Watershed year for Indian law” reports BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder
“For many, 2006 has been a watershed in Indian legal history”, states Sanjoy Majumder, Friday, 5 January 2007, BBC News, Delhi:
For the first time, a serving cabinet minister (Shibu Soren), was given life imprisonment for murder. Under a fortnight later, a cricket star and MP (Navjot Singh Sidhu) was jailed for manslaughter. Majumder reports “A recent study suggests that nearly a quarter of the country’s MPs are facing criminal charges ranging from murder to extortion and even rape”, and that “India’s courts are estimated to have a backlog of some two million cases”. See useful BBC News links about corruption in India here.
A welcome Indian “Backlash Was Born” reports Tim Sullivan, Associated Press
Recently, another Indian example of how backlashes against corruption can erupt occurred. Because of corruption in India’s judicial system, the 24-year old son of a powerful and wealthy politician in India, who shot a young woman, was released. Key witnesses who withdrew their testimony suddenly got rich. But that other side of India gives hope. Tim Sullivan (Thur., Mar/09/2006) Associated Press reported, “What surprised India was its own reaction: Protesters took to the streets, holding candlelight vigils and waving signs calling for justice; newspapers have kept the story on the front page day after day; officials from the president to the capital’s police chief have called for a review of the investigation. In a country that had all but resigned itself to its barely functioning legal system, a backlash was born”.
To be sure, Sathya Sai Baba, profoundly protected by India’s power brokers irrespective of what party is in power, has not faced court to answer many allegations. These include serial sexual molestation of boys and young men and other crimes such as complicity in the police killings that occurred in his bedroom, June 6, 1993. The latter incident was described to the BBC by V.P.B. Nair, former Home Secretary of Andhra Pradesh, as “absolute cold-blooded murder”. Brief video clips at this link here. The BBC transcript of ‘The Secret Swami’ is available here. Police corruption is also widespread in India, as the recent horrendous case of serial pedophilia and murders in Noida, Delhi, exemplifies – see link here.
Widespread corruption of the police and judiciary in India
If a corrupt elite in India can protect one young man and nine co-accused, how much more so does political-judicial patronage favor one to whom countless Indian power brokers, and millions of others around the world, bow as God fully incarnate? Sai Baba is also patronised simply because of vote-catching and other political expediencies, huge trade and financial deals with his many mega rich devotees, and cronyism. For trade advantages, it served corrupt regimes when senior officials in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office told Tony Colman (when he was Labor MP for Putney, UK) that the government does not wish to rock the boat with India. Interests sans conscience were likewise fulfilled when the US State Department, after many highly credible US citizens have made extensive submissions to it, issued a travel warning in November 23, 2001 that pointed to Sai Baba’s ashram but did not name him, until the might of the BBC extracted a confirmation in May 2004. To see how Sai Baba and his managers have so successfully identified his own interests with India’s interests, see: ‘Does UNESCO Really Protect the Young’ at this link.
High echelon judges flout Law to support Sai Baba
For an inkling of how justice can be thwarted by two Indian Supreme Court judges, G.B. Pattanaik and R.C. Lahoti, partial to Sai Baba, see HERE:
A high profile Sai Baba devotee judge in the Andhra Pradesh High Court,Y. V. Anjaneyulu can, just as flagrantly, put down a lawsuit by B. Premanand, India’s famous ‘guru buster’, about gold taxes. Judge Anjaneyulu held that the gold Sai Baba produces is manifested from a divine source, and cannot therefore be taxed. Of course, this judgement defies Indian law, which is secular, and founded on the British Westminster system.
Another miscarriage of justice occurred in Orange County Court in California, USA. A courageous young man, Alaya Rahm, gives an account of extensive sexual abuse of himself when a teenager by Sai Baba. For the last few years, he has been strongly supported in speaking out by his parents. His father is Al Rahm, formerly one of the highest profile leaders in the US Sathya Sai Baba Organisation. Yet Alaya Rahm’s lawsuit against the directors of the Sathya Sai Baba Society in the USA came badly unstuck. According to his lawyer, William Brelsford, the organisation was structured legalistically so as to avoid lawsuits against itself. See the lawyer’s statements and those of the family and supportive international former Sai Baba devotees here.
Note: My advice, in considering the Rahm case, is to avoid pro bono lawyers unless they are real hotshots who do their homework well beforehand. I do not think that Alaya Rahm was served at all well, nor do lawyers from the USA and other countries who are aquainted with the case.
Ullrich Zimmermann’s testimony of Sai Baba perpetrating oral sex on him
Like Alaya Rahm, over the years, a number of young men, from a number of countries, have come forward with accounts of sexual molestation by Sai Baba. Most of them do not wish to go public. Former devotees (not always working in co-ordination) have collected affidavits, the number of which legal counsel have advised not to discuss publicly. David Savill, assistant producer of ‘The Secret Swami’, told me that the BBC unearthed a number of other compelling cases which were not of that hefty number that we had on our files. There has just been (January 2007) – entirely without our group’s knowledge that it had been made seven years ago and was now going to air – a US television interview of a young German man, Ullrich Zimmermann, who very articulately recounts sexual abuse by Sathya Sai Baba including (as in so many other accounts from around the world) oral sex performed on him by his – then! – spiritual master:
http://blip.tv/file/125164. pt 1.
http://blip.tv/file/127606. pt 2. In this part, Ullrich Zimmerman relates specific details alleged to have been perpetrated on him by Sai Baba
http://blip.tv/file/127950. pt 3.
Indian media and adverse News about Sai Baba
Last November, the Indo-Asian News Service broke through to sections of the Indian news media. It reported on Paul Lewis’s article in The Guardian, Nov.3 – “The Indian living god, the paedophilia claims and the Duke of Edinburgh awards”
Hitherto, for many years, almost all the Indian media refused to publish adverse news or serious questioning about Sai Baba and his organisation’s leaders. Almost exclusively, it was Non-Indian Residents (NRI’s) who came to hear of the seriousness of the allegations. They saw television documentaries such as ‘Guru Busters’, (UK Channel 4, 1995), ‘Seduced’ (DR, Denmark, 2001, repackaged as ‘Seduced by Sai Baba’ by SBS, Australia, 2004), ‘The Sinful God’ (AZUL TV, Argentina, 2002), ‘The Secret Swami’ (BBC, 2004) or articles in leading newspapers of the UK, Canada, Australia, Scandinavian countries, Holland, Germany, etc. Have Indian Editors suddenly developed a conscience? More likely, they now realise that news of the many allegations facing Sai Baba’s is too difficult to suppress, and that the foreign media has done what it has so lamentably failed to do, with an honorable exception being India in its cover story, Dec. 4, 2000:
Is Sathya Sai Baba beyond exposure?
Not that blighted Justice afflicts India alone. Charles Dickens called the law “an ass”. In Western countries, there are T-shirts which, symptomatically, suggest the timelessness of the sentiment in Shakespeare’s line: “the first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”. Grand scale political patronage always existed. But vision and transformation have, too – including an occasional lawyer and politician. We would be far worse off were it not so. It may indeed be children who, because we held out against the madness, grow up to wield a better sort power fuelled by a better sort of wisdom.
There were those, including within our own ranks, who insisted that Sai Baba was beyond exposure. Had we espoused that self-defeating attitude, the more than six years of persistent work by former devotees and other critics would not have led to the present position. This is that Sai Baba and his servitors now stand exposed to millions, with other projects in preparation. There is the ‘court’ of conscience and of better informed world opinion. There is also time for the facts of what former devotees attest to penetrate to devotees, who can then see the truth of what we state on the Internet and elsewhere (but not always spell out because of sensitivity and security issues). This is of necessity slow because a whole world-view and a psychological dependency come crashing down.
Will the conscience-side of India, reported by Sanjoy Majumder and Tim Sullivan, emerge and expose Sathya Sai Baba and those gurus like him who bring India into such terrible disrepute throughout the world? That would be a good test of whether she deserves to be a super power, or is yet another materialistic State crassly bent on material gain, for all its leaders’ common boasts about her spiritual glory and destiny.
Some Further Resources:
The most extensive individual website is that of Robert Priddy, retired lecturer in philosophy and social science, University of Oslo, Norway, and former head of the Norwegian Sathya Sai Organisation.
Also extensive site of Brian Steel, retired lecturer in Linguistics, University of Monash, Australia.
A general former devotee website, operated from Holland, where, from quite early on, hundreds of Sai devotees quit the Sathya Sai Organisation.
A general site in 9 languages. Operated from Mexico by Lionel Fernanandez.
Website of Conny Larsson, former Sathya Sai Organisation head in Sweden
A four-part article by Robert Priddy and Barry Pittard responding to written points made by the deputy world chairman of the Sathya Sai Organisation and head of Radio Sai International, Dr G. Venkataraman.
Click here for In Memoriam – Glen Meloy (2005). Glen, of southern California, was an outstanding, much beloved former devotee leader who had been devoted to Sai Baba for 26 years. From early 1999, he was foremost among those, including scores of well-known (sometimes still then) devotees who called for independent, third party investigation of Sathya Sai Baba, and of those servitors who profoundly cover up for him. The series of campaigns that emerged are sometimes known as ‘the exposé’.
A reflection on the BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’ which had far more indicting documentation against Sathya Sai Baba (80+ hours of footage!) but chose largely follow the story of just one family, no doubt for focus.
A letter addressed to the consciences of my dear former students at the Sathya Sai College at Whitefield, via Bangalore.
Letter to Dr Geir Lundestad, Director, Norwegian Nobel Institute.
The present writer was one of the drafters of this international Internet petition, and, since October 1999 with the publication of three articles in NEXUS, part of organised efforts by former Sai Baba devotees from various backgrounds and countries to bring the allegations against Sai Baba to international attention.
Letter to Dr Geir Lundestad, then Director, Norwegian Nobel Institute, after reports that Sai Baba centres were rejoicing because Sai Baba was being nominated for a Nobel Prize.
For Online Viewing and/or Dowloading
- Sleight Of Hand. The Sleightness of Sathya Sai Baba (Exposing film clips)
- Right Hand. Sleight Hand. Watch Sai Baba Cheat With Sacred Ash (Film clip)
- Censored Indian National Television Film of Sai Baba Cheating
- Sai Baba Cultists’ Gull Wider Communities
- BBC Cameras Catch Sai Baba Cheating With Gold Sivalingam. (Film Clip)
- Sathya Sai Baba Chief, Dr Goldstein, Explodes. “I am the consummate professional” (See Film Clips)
- The BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’ (Sai Baba). Revealing Footage