Call For Media and Government Investigation

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

Brian Steel On Dr John Hislop’s Gift From Sathya Sai Baba – Idol claimed to have wood from cross of Jesus

Posted by Barry Pittard on July 28, 2009

Among commentators, Brian Steel has done especial service in portraying the sheer impact and spread of the works of Sathya Sai Baba’s early apostles and popularizers. Especially prominent among these are Dr John Hislop (the first Sai Baba organizational leader outside India), Howard Murphet, Dr Samuel Sandweis, Phyllis Krystal.

Today’s blog note continues my series highlighting – all too selectively – certain aspects of Brian Steel’s work. As I have pointed out, it would be a great pity if – because his opus is vast, and also because most of his work is not blogged but contained on his websites (See details below) – his extremely valuable work were to suffer any eclipse. My recent articles on Steel’s work are:

Brian Steel Demythologizes Early Foreign-led Sathya Sai Baba Myths

Brian Steel On John Hislop’s 27 Years as Sathya Sai Baba’s Spokesman

Brian Steel On Sathya Sai Baba’s Credibility Gap. John Hislop Contributions

Demythologizing Sathya Sai Baba

 There are many other writers, and when I worked as a publisher’s editor in Sai Towers, Puttaparthi, I counted over 600 books in the collection of R.Padmanaban, the publisher. Random checks showed that almost all of them were very hagiographical, and poorly written, commonly self-published or with the non-professional aid of others. None of their works has had anything like the impact of the books by the above , and also the same authors’ talks in various parts of the world. In Sai Baba circles, these figures have attained an almost god status. One hears them referred to as “rishis”, “saints”, “apostles”, and so forth. 

Although the alleged miracles of Sathya Sai Baba appear to be endless, there are a few which have especially captured the popular imagination and devotion of many of his followers, irrespective of their levels of education. One of these is the iconic crucifix, which Sai Baba ostensibly materialized for Jack Hislop at the mahashivratri festival in 1973.

Sai Baba told Hislop that he – by his divine powers – fetched the wood on which the idol is hung from the wood of the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.

Sathya Sai Baba Crucifix: Miraculously materialized?

  Sathya Sai Baba Crucifix: Miraculously materialized?

For those wishing some key backgrounding on this ‘miracle’, there is a fairly brief but succinct page by the Norwegian academic and former leader of the Sathya Sai Organization in Norway, Robert Priddy

Alleged miracle crucifix materialised for Dr. John Hislop

He has blogged at: 

Faked “miracle”: crucifix given by Sai Baba to Dr. Hislop

Brian D.Steel On Dr John Hislop and Sai Baba’s Crucifix Gift

The following two quotes are excerpts from Brian Steel’s long and detailed article, which deals with various aspects relating to Hislop, his relationship with Sai Baba, and role in hugely extending the Sai movement world-wide: Sathya Sai Baba’s credibility gap: Contributions by John Hislop(Brian Steel. January 2009).

(Note: there is an important companion piece to this: Sathya Sai Baba, Elsie and Walter Cowan, and John Hislop. A Discredited 1971 Resurrection Claim (Brian Steel. February 2009). He comments on the book My Baba and I  by Dr. John Hislop, [1985: Birth Day Publishing, San Diego]:

“For tens (or perhaps hundreds) of thousands of readers, this has been one of the principal introductory books on Sathya Sai Baba. It has been translated into many languages. The title was chosen by Sathya Sai Baba himself (p. vi). The book deals with Hislop’s prolonged and intimate experiences of SSB’s teachings, some miracles (most notably that of the famous Crucifix allegedly materialised for Hislop by SSB from wood reconstituted from the True Cross on Mahasivaratri Day, 1973). The experiences are followed by 22 supplementary conversations (January 1978-October 1984), and a treasure trove of letters from SSB to Hislop (as well as a few from Hislop to SSB) written between 1969 and 1983, during the important formative years of the American Sathya Sai Organization, of which Hislop was such a prominent figure”. 

“This famous icon, however implausible, has been the object of endless fascination for devotees. Photographs of the crucifix are available in the front pages of My Baba and I and in many other books, including those by Fanibunda, Sandweiss, Peter Phipps (Sathya Sai Baba and Jesus Christ. A Gospel for the Golden Age – and also in his second book on a similar theme). That the surreal icon still has the full backing of the SSO is evident in its inclusion in a recent compilation published by the SSSBPT, Be Like Jesus). Indeed, almost 40 years after the alleged event (in October 2008), when I was visiting the Bombay SSO Centre (Dharmakshetra), a young devotee who took it upon himself to show me round and tell me about SSB, insisted at the end of our meeting that the best book for me to start with would be John Hislop’s My Baba and I, and he specifically mentioned a crucifix materialised for the revered American devotee. This special crucifix – whatever its provenance – has been, and remains, an outstandingly powerful advertisement for Sathya Sai Baba’s alleged omnipotence”. 


See also, Robert Priddy’s compilation of resources:  Sai Deceptions. Fraud, Legerdemain, Rumour-spreading and Lies By Sathya Sai Baba 


Select writings from Brian Steel’s Extensive Opus

Sathya Sai Baba can be documented by any conscientious reader as having made contradictory statements and egregious historical and scientific blunders. These include his remarks on Jesus Christ and Martin Luther . For Steel’s detailed and sharply contextualized discussion, see: Sai Baba and Christianity. Some Observations (2002). Steel remarks here the alarming “extent of Sai Baba’s inventiveness”. This can be instructively read in concert with his Basic Notes On Sai Baba’s Credibility Problem (2004)

Brian Steel Indexes

Barry Pittard’s Earlier Articles On Brian Steel

Revealing Materials On Sai Baba Of India

Brian Steel’s Surprise Visit To Sathya Sai Baba’s Ashram

William Aitken’s Book Fails to Answer Sai Baba Critics

For Brian Steel’s detailed exposure of severe inadequacies of a foremost Sai Baba hagiographer mentioned in this article refer to Steel’s:

Bill Aitken and Sathya Sai Baba. A Writer’s Dilemma,

on William Aitken’s book, ‘Sri Sathya Sai Baba. A Life (New Delhi, Penguin Books, India, 2004. Paperback edition, 2006) 


Excerpt From Public Petition

(Note: You may prefer to proceed straight to the Petition):

Public Petition For Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization

There is a Spanish version available:



One Response to “Brian Steel On Dr John Hislop’s Gift From Sathya Sai Baba – Idol claimed to have wood from cross of Jesus”

  1. […] Brian Steel On Dr John Hislop’s Gift From Sathya Sai Baba – Idol claimed to have wood from cross of Jesus Hislop’s role in spreading the Sai Baba mythology to the US and worldwide, mainly though alleged miraculous productions of a cross and other objects. […]

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: