Noting that the Indian news service Merinews.com contained an article by Natteri Adigal which gave me a brief mention, I responded.
This was, Moon mission of Sathya Sai Baba: Only for the faithful! by Natteri Adigal, Thursday, 29 November 2007. (see link below). I wrote the following in the Comment section, not knowing that only short messages are run, so I shall publish my response here:-
Your writer Natteri Adigal states, “Australia-based Barry Pittard, a former devotee and lecturer at Sathya Sai College in Whitefield who has been leading a campaign against the ‘cult’, ridiculed the whole exercise as another gimmick at fooling people”.
If they view my article Sai Baba To Be Seen In Moon? But Where Was Moon? Merinews readers will get an accurate version of what I have actually said. (For Link, see below)
It is by no means certain that Sai Baba attempted to fool people. Given that – as his core leaders know only too well, and photographic footage and reliable devotee and non-devotee in situ reports show – he has shown repeated and distinctive signs not only of physical but also mental decrepitude. It can just as easily have been such an aberation that sent thousands of devotees off, as it were, on a wild moon chase.
A fiercely truthful devotee would be compelled to look at such evidence, and not distort, libel and defame those who put another case. Nor will they cite good works as a means of evading serious allegations from hundreds of former Sathya Sai Baba devotees. Many people in this world do good public works but secretively do foul deeds. When serious persons long held in esteem raise serious concerns, it is only proper that there be accountability – on both sides – and no cover up.
Solid evidence coming through is that:
1. Professor Anil Kumar announced after the evening darshan that a vishwarupa darshana (in the form of a great spiritual vision) would take place at Puttaparthi airport.
2. Thousands of devotees (as reported by IANS, Indo Asian News Service and other sources) rushed to the airport.
3. Clouds blotted out the moon, and a great many devotees saw nothing – but cloud, of course.
4. Sai Baba’s car was held up in the jostling crowds, creating a security nightmare, and threat to life and limb.
5. The police, ashram security detail and seva dal had much more than usual difficulties in controlling the snarls of people and traffic.
6. From the moment of Professor Anil Kumar’s announcement, mobile and other phone calls ran extremely hot between the Puttaparthi ashram and many parts of the world.
In short, there was great chaos, rather than the awe and wonder related in Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 11, where the vishwarupa darshana given by Sri Krishna to his disciple Arjuna is of a very different nature indeed to what is being discussed by many Sathya Sai Baba devotees.
Despite incredible distortion of the case being made by networked pro Sathya Sai Baba forces (utterly contrary to the excellent conduct of his many good and decent followers), two blogsites attempt to portray the position of former devotees worldwide. They are those of Robert Priddy, former head of the Sathya Sai Organization in Norway, and retired academic, and by me, Barry Pittard. See also the website of Australian scholar Brian Steel. Robert Priddy’s extensively reconstructed and highly updated website is here . General former Sai devotee website: http://www.exbaba.com (Go to News tab for regular updates)
All along, former devotees from many countries have called for proper, third party investigation of the many and serious worldwide allegations against Sathya Sai Baba and certain core leaders his cult, the international Sathya Sai Organization.
I think it a pity that overseas media have had to be the forces, instead of the Indian media, to break stories critical of Sai Baba and his cult. That is, except for the remarkable and courageous cover story by India Today in December 2000 (where their journalists like Vijay Thapa had, I am informed by journalistic sources close to the events, to have close body security protection as their Sai Baba story broke. So much for all the talk about the quality of ahimsa!). The overseas media have included very responsible organs like the BBC, CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), DR (Denmark’s national broadcaster), SBS television (Australia’s great multicultural broadcaster), ABC (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation), AZUL TV (Argentina), Times of London, Telegraph, Guardian, and newspapers in Europe, Australia, Canada, etc.
Barry Pittard, Australia
P.S. Your writer Natteri Adigal is mistaken about Dr Michael Nobel being the son of the Swedish engineer in whose honor the Nobel Prize was named. How can it be? The simplest check shows that Alfred Nobel was born in 1833 and died 1896. This mistake is also seen in the Sai Baba devotee generated Wikipedia entry on ‘Sathya Sai Baba’. Sai Baba’s own deputy world chairman Dr G. Venkataraman, who is on record as having spent time with Dr Nobel, has said in his journal for Sai Global Harmony, Sai Baba’s international radio service, that “Dr. Nobel is the great grand nephew of Dr. Alfred Nobel, the founder of Nobel Prize”
Moon mission of Sathya Sai Baba: Only for the faithful! by Natteri Adigal, www.merinews.com, Thursday, 29 November 2007