Ashok Bhagani and The Secret Swami
Posted by Barry Pittard on February 22, 2007
Ashok Bhagani. Part 4.
In a BBC Radio 4 interview held in November 2000, Ashok Bhagani confirmed that allegations that Sai Baba serially sexually molests boys and young men have been around for years. He stated:
“I welcome anyone to contact me if they’ve got a serious allegation, and errr … We will talk to them.”
Why might it be that former devotees do not trust Ashok Bhagani?
In his interview, he says:
“What actual evidence does the BBC have to substantiate these claims? These allegations have been circulating for years and have never been proved. As far as I’m concerned, there are 30 million happy devotees in the world, but every so often you will get two or three who will make these wild allegations.”
Millions of Devotees Can’t Be Wrong
But what if the facts are hidden by ‘the secret swami’ (to use the BBC’s epithet applied to Sai Baba) from almost all of those happy ’30 million happy devotees’? Great dictators like Hitler and Stalin were cheered by millions of ecstatically happy followers – so can so many individuals be wrong? Can we trust mass opinion? Can we trust Ashok Bhagani? Or trust Dr K.J.S ‘Sunny’ Anand who, as we saw yesterday, has publicly and joyfully proclaimed that Sai Baba has 100 million devotees world wide? (Dr ‘Sunny’ Anand is a U.S. Presidential medical advisor, and Professor of Pediatrics, Anesthesiology, Pharmacology & Neurobiology at the University of Arkansas For Medical Sciences, a U.S. Presidential medical advisor). Dr. Anand’s claims, including that Sai Baba is God fully manifest, are found at an official Sai Baba website: http://www.srisathyasaipublications.org/anand.htm
The Asian Voice journalist, Payal Nair, reports, June 25, 2004:
“Ashok Bhagani also states that when devotees are selected by Sai Baba for a private interview, there is always someone else present in the room, and this is especially the case when women and children meet him” http://tinyurl.com/34cx5g
Can Even Sai Devotees Trust Ashok Bhagani?
Well, thousands – if not alas quite millions! – of Sai devotees who have gone for interview with Sai Baba know that this assertion is absolutely untrue.
For years, Bhagani, like Sai Baba’s leaders, except those who have resigned in profound alienation and disgust, has abjectly failed to heed the acute concerns of former devotees once so long well loved and respected in his organization. We can easily see that Bhagani – though apparently a devotee for some four decades – has known of allegations of sexual molestation by Sai Baba for at least three years up to the date of his last media interviews. Having expressed willingness to talk to those making allegations of sexual molestation by Sai Baba, why then does Bhagani claim that their accounts are “factless and baseless”? Has he produced even a scrap of evidence that proves Sai Baba’s innocence before – surely hypocritically – demanding of BBC producers to produce their own?
Closely networked former devotees throughout the world, and for several years, do not know of a single instance where the Sathya Sai Organisation – extremely controlled from the top as it is – has shown duty-of-care to those families and individuals hitherto in good standing with it who have gone to the leaders with their painful accounts of sexual and other abuses by Sai Baba and in some cases those close to him.
Chartered Accountant Fails Transparency and Accountability Test
Ashok Bhagani lives in the UK, where marked institutional and corporate changes have occurred in regard to transparency and accountability. Here, proper mechanisms obtain for competent and just investigation of complaints of human rights and other abuses. Because of its cultic and suppressive nature, the multi-billions’- wealthy and powerful Sathya Sai Organization has brought upon itself the troubles it now suffers from exposure to millions of television viewers and newspaper and magazine readers, via the Internet, and determined former devotees exposing the cult in to their own government, religious and civic institutions..
Ashok Bhagani and his organization have worse solidified a culture of soviet-style culture of suppression and cover-up. Equally, he and his peers slander and vilify the large number of people who, prompted by acute moral and ethical concerns, have left it, and those who have tried – against formidable odds – to expose the facts.
Cultic Reaction or Principled Proaction?
Perhaps we can trust our financial matters with Bhagani as a leading British chartered accountant. But surely not with a duty-of-care to regarding our children. Paul Lewis wrote an article in The Guardian, Saturday November 4, 2006 – ‘The indian living god, the paedophilia claims and the Duke of Edinburgh awards:
It raised concerns about the nexus between the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, the UK Sai youth, on their way in large numbers to see Sai Baba. Once it realized questions were being asked in by very senior persons, including a former Home Minister, Tom Sackville, the Awards required of Dr. G. Venkataraman to take down from the official website the triumphing information that the Awards had been awarded to Sai Baba himself. But Bhagani fell silent amid the furore. Do, not however, the parents of the youth have a right to know the seriousness of the sexual abuse allegations, and the fact, well known to the top leaders of the Sathya Sai Organization that they are made by families and individuals whose word has not been hitherto doubted?
Obvious in his interviews are his incredible superficiality, insensitivity to the anguish of those making the primary allegations, and lack of that compassion which Sai Baba and his followers so often talk about. Bhagani tacitly assumes it is an easy thing for former devotees to submit to the very exacting demands involved in making complex submissions to entities which make exacting demands on those who make claims in extraordinary matters. Leading media ask tough questions. They also have their Legal departments scrutinizing them, not to mention the public.