Robert Priddy (5). Reports Sai Baba Ashram Donation Scams
Posted by Barry Pittard on September 21, 2007
Robert Priddy, retired academic from the University of Oslo, was the head of the Sathya Sai Organization in Norway for fifteen years, and a frequent contributer of articles to Sanathana Sarathi, Sai Baba’s official magazine distributed worldwide.
He tells me that he was in India with Sai Baba nine times since 1984, amounting to well over one year in all, and had five long interviews. On each occasion, there were also private interviews as distinct from group ones, as well as many contacts during darshan (when Sai Baba walks among a seated crowd of many thousands).
In Face of Ashram Scams, Sai Baba Says: “What can I do? My hands are tied”
He relates that he and his wife Reidun donated thousands of pounds sterling to the Sathya Sai Central Trust. However, while still devotees, they were to learn from well-informed insiders that donated money is regularly subject to much waste and embezzlement, despite Sai Baba’s repeated and unconvincing denials.
There are many Sai Baba devotees who know perfectly well of these scams. When some have spoken to Sai Baba he has replied e.g., “What can I do? My hands are tied”. It is heartrending to hear of the sufferings of those who have been defrauded. Such accounts keep on coming.
Process of Spurious Rationalization By Scammed Devotees
The scammed devotees’ reaction (it was mine, too) is, for example, to think that somehow ‘Swami will guide’ or ‘Baba is testing us’, ‘Baba says that he has some evil souls around him and that they are put there to test our sadhana’ (spiritual development), and other such rationalizations. In some cases, the issue is very considerable, such that many devotees from various countries are aware of most shocking irregularities in the ashram’s handling of large payments and other arrangements concerning the purchase of apartments with the ashram. Very shaken devotees tell of being denied access to what they had properly and legally purchased. Still others relate that although they are recognized as the owners, the apartments are used in any way the ashram management likes – which prevents an owner or other members of his or her family, or fellow members of their Sai Center or zone or other close Sai devotee friends from using the apartment when the owner is not there.
Cognitive Dissonance and Cults Are Inseparable
This rationalization process is of course the psychological state of denial or handling of conflicted information, ‘cognitive dissonance’). It has been described classically by the social psychologist Leon Festinger, but by many others in various forms of psychology, psychiatry and psychotherapy. See, Wikipedia reference ‘Cognitive Dissonance’. Robert Priddy has written about some aspects of the Sai Baba ashrams donor scams HERE.
Robert Priddy’s very extensive website is HERE:
He blogs frequently at his blogsite ‘Sathya Sai Baba Exposed’, HERE
His article My Credo is HERE
Wikipedia entry under ‘Robert Priddy’.
The Sathya Sai Organization’s Deception and Propaganda Exposed, a four-Part article co-authored with Barry Pittard, dissecting views of Dr G. Venkataraman (Sai Baba’s head of propaganda and deputy world chairman) antipathetic to those of organized former devotees, whom Venkataraman has badly misrepresented, and demonstrably defamed.