Call For Media and Government Investigation

of Sathya Sai Baba And his worldwide cult, the Sathya Sai Organization

Robert Priddy (1). Erosion of Trust in Sai Baba Over Time

Posted by Barry Pittard on August 18, 2007

Robert Priddy was long known by many as a ceaseless worker in the Sathya Sai Organisation, as indeed he has been in the former Sai Baba devotee cause.

The latter – since people from many countries are affected and since billions pour to the Sathya Sai Central Trust globally –  is one of exposure of various forms of allegation and of anomalies in the teaching content – to the world.

He was founder member of the Sai Organization in Norway in 1983 and, for over 15 years, the national leader of the Sathya Sai Organization, resigning his membership 2000. He lectured in philosophy and sociology in various institutes, and retired from his tenure at the University of Oslo in 1985. (See Wikipedia reference under: Robert Priddy)

Expressing the great wish he shares with other former Sai Baba devotees, and critics beyond, to see proper, third party investigation of Sai Baba and his organization, he has been active in researching, analysing, creating web presences both via static sites and blogging, and campaigning in the media and so on.

But the Internet is not the Exposé

The greater part of this work of exposure has been off-screen, and he has often supported those who have more recently become disaffected. Grief – both overt and, more often, controlled – is common in this area. We also have most qualified and experienced male and female counseling professionals ready to assist, but a lot of the work requires being humanly supportive in the most basic ways – listening compassionately, providing information, etc. There are many former devotees who appreciate, and have benefitted by, Priddy’s gentle and patient kindness, a side to his personality which will not always be visible in his writings critical of Sai Baba and the cultic mind that adheres to him. The ever-swelling Priddy opus can be hard-edged and quite polemical. In this service of caring and supporting, sorrow and joy are inseparable. It embodies same spirit of loving service to others that motivates many who have been drawn to Sai Baba.

I well recall in early 1998 reading his book  Source of the Dream, – My Way to Sathya Sai Baba (1994, Bangalore/1998 USA/2000, and 2002, Puttaparthi). At that time, I was working as a voluntary service with the publisher Sai Towers in Puttaparthi. Doing a computation in this busy publishing house’s library, I had estimated that there were at least 600 plus books written by devotees on Sai Baba. Many of these were terribly gushing and rambling, even from the point of view of Sai devotee readers, cried out for editing if not refusal to publish. Fortunately, the owner, R.Padmanaban was very supportive of my editing approach, which was to wield something of a ‘scalpel’. Perhaps I should be kind enough to spare someone else the bother of saying that a sharp editorial blade needs to be directed at my own writings.

Priddy in the Exposé Continuum

But – such a relief! – the Priddy book was from a disciplined mind, and far more readable. It sold very widely within the Sai movement. He has since written End of the Dream: The Fall of Sathya Sai Baba (published 2004 in India by a leading Indian rationalist Basava Premanand. By stark contrast, a book by David BaileyA Journey to Love, Prasanthi Nilayam: Sri Sathya Sai Towers Hotels Pvt. Ltd., 1998 (1997) – was of the devotionally effusive sort. Happily, Bailey, a well-known British semi-classical musician and teacher, renounced, along with his wife Faye, his extremely close connection with Sai Baba which included lecturing in Music at Sai Baba’s university and global ambassadorial duties. He and Faye Bailey wrote (one might say, cobbled together, a work seminal to the exposé of Sai Baba, The Findings (March 200). Faye had been a key figure in the Australian Sathya Sai Organization – and their marriage in 1997 was, and so very summarily, Sai Baba-arranged and officiated. By the time Priddy was ready to become significantly more active, Bailey had left Exposé activity, having been part of a first then second wave of concentrated activity circa late 90’s up to 2002.

The second greater burst of activity was especially that of a small but extremely busy group, the Central Coordinating Group, led by Glen Meloy (now deceased, of Palm Desert, California, USA) and Hari Sampath (Chennai, India, but then on a Green Card as a software engineer in Chicago, USA). For example, Robert Priddy was not part of the small pepper group (CCG) which worked extremely hard (with many selfless inputs from its much wider global network) and succeeded in drawing serious media attention to the allegations against Sai Baba, including a UNESCO Media Advisory in September 2001 and UNESCO’s and Flinders University’s cancellation of joint participation in a large Sai Baba promoted education conference in Puttaparthi, See HERE. Other successful exposures included articles in Times of London, Daily Telegraph, the mass circulation magazine India Today, and major news media in Europe, Canada and Australia. The group gained the attention of the Danish national broadcaster DR, and its television documentary Seduced was first aired in January 2002, then elsewhere in Scandinavia. See this program (with an English overdub) HERE and an English transcript is HERE. It was screened in an English version by Australia’s national multicultural broadcaster SBS as Seduced by Sai Baba in February 2004. By early 2004, however, Priddy, who had in the meantime begun, from time to time, to support efforts coordinated by Glen Meloy and the present writer, was closely involved in assisting the BBC with vital contacts and other documentation as it researched what became The Secret Swami, first screened June 14, 2004 and shown in many scores of countries around the world. See:  The BBC’s The Secret Swami – A Revision and The Genesis of the BBC’s The Secret Swami.

The first ‘wave’ was a surge of effort mostly by those leaving the Sai Organization in USA, U.K., Holland, Sweden, Denmark and Australia. In this perspective, Priddy (and the Australian linguistis scholar Brian Steel) may be regarded – so long as we can acknowledge the nature of overlaps – as comprising part of a third ‘wave’ of intense activity, and both of their involvements strongly orienting to research and writing and unfolding of their websites, although both were, naturally, supportive of those who came to them grief-stricken with their accounts.

The date of Priddy’s Sathya Sai Organization resignation (2000) occurred at the height of great activity by networked former devotees but this does not indicate his specific activism at that time. Especially, he was intensely investigating, reflecting, writing and developing his website. His broadest endeavours came in the months after Glen Meloy’s deeply and internationally mourned death, on January 1, 2005.

To be continued

Furthur Reading

End of the Dream – My Credo and Rejection of Sathya Sai Baba. (Article)

His very regularly maintained blogsite is at:  http://robertpriddy.wordpress.com

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3 Responses to “Robert Priddy (1). Erosion of Trust in Sai Baba Over Time”

  1. Dave Lyons said

    All true. Great job, Barry. Both you and Robert continue to be an inspiration, along with Brian Steel–so KEEP THEM COMING!
    Dave Lyons, founder and former president of the Sathya Sai Baba Center of Greater New Orleans (1995-2000); devotee 1981-2000; resigned and defected Sai Org. April, 2000.

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