On Leaving the Sathya Sai Baba Cult (Part 1.)- Ex Leaders and Rank-and-File
Posted by Barry Pittard on November 20, 2009
In 1999, came the publication (August-September) of three articles in a piece entitled: Sathya Sai Baba Exposed. These had been taken up from other sources by the editor, Duncan Roads, who, quite separately and via his own sources in Australia, had suffered his own disillisionment in Sai Baba. A person close to me, who knew well that I had deafened my ears to anything inimical to Sathya Sai Baba, strongly urged me to read these articles, one of which was by the (then) head of the Australian Sathya Sai Organization, Terry Gallagher, an agricultural scientist and businessman of Kyama, in the state of New South Wales on Australia’s eastern seaboard.
Terry Gallagher. A Voice of Conscience Raised In The Wilderness
Terry Gallagher had come to realise – between 1986 and 1993 (the latter being the year of the grisly police executions in Sai Baba’s bedroom) that grave matters had been profoundly covered up, not only by the ashram officials but by local, state and central governments. Those who eventually leave commonly do not leave suddenly. There is a fighting against the blinkers. There is refuge in thought of all the positives that have occured.
In much detail, by telephone, Terry Gallagher told me that, against extraordinary unwillingness of devotees in the Australian Sathya Sai Organization, to look at the allegations, he had done what he could to investigate. This led to his surfacing, after his private discussions with those whom he regarded as dependable witnesses, including a number of Sathya Sai Baba college/university students, terrible facts about Sai Baba’s serial sexual abuse of young males. He also took his concerns to Sathya Sai Baba, whom he says tried to get from him who his informants were. He told me that he had extensively, in the course of a whole weekend, shown documentation to Valmai Worthington, a Brisbane leader of the Sathya Sai Organization, who has led many groups to from Australia to see Sai Baba. This led to no meaningful action, and she has continued to lead groups, including those with young males in them. In fact, she led the group of which I was a member when it went to India on mid November 1997.
Other leaders were likewise impervious and went into the utmost psychological denial. Groups, including those with young males in them, continued to go to the ashram. (See the link at the top of the present article for excerpts from the Terry Gallagher testimony and the link to the full document). These explorations – including direct contact with a number of deeply concerned students from Sai Baba’s education establishment – culminated in Terry Gallager’s resignation on the most serious moral principle from his headship of the Australian Sathya Sai Organization. However, he said, his relations with his brother-in-law, Neville Fredericks, now the head of the Sathya Sai Organization in Australia, had slowly been repaired in both the family and business sense, and he (Gallagher) didn’t want to raise his voice further. NOTE: For those with limited time, I have excerpted, for the sake of a focus, some points from Terry Gallagher’s testimony, which was first published by David and Faye Bailey (very prominent leaders who also resigned) in The Quarterly, UK. See also:
Later the Gallagher testimony appeared in the September-October 1999 edition of the Australian magazine ‘Nexus’. Before returning to Sathya Sai Baba for a few months in November 1997, I had somehow dared to look at writings on the Internet. I read the Canadian academic rationalist philosopher Professor Dale Beyerstein, of the University of British Columbia. His very incisively-written book: “Sai Baba’s miracles: and overview is HERE. There was the likewise articulate Italian former devotee Paul Holbach.
Across a range of Sai Baba issues, their writing was disciplined and probing; they raised questions which, by any token, deserved proper answers. These were the sorts of questions which, if not answered frankly and truthfully, could best be answered by properly consitituted processes, such as a police, court of law or government enquiry. Above all, they needed to be answered by the leaders of the Sathya Sai Organization. But they were glacially silent. Except to slander and drive out those who questioned, whom they very well know through years of experience of them to be truthful persons. Sathya Sai Baba and his servitors remain tight-lipped to this day, all these years after – although the allegations, not only of sexual abuse but abuses of various other grave kinds. With incredible mendacity, they tell their congregations – inasmuch as they tell them very much at all – that ‘the allegations’ are made by a small handful of disgruntled individuals. It is a typical ploy used by many groups with serious matters to hide.
Hard questions were being raised. It was not enough, as so many devotees do when there is a process of questioning, to assume, somehow, the unworthiness of those who question. In that direction the psychological factor of being in-denial is all too likely to kick in. Honest questions merit honest answers. During twenty-five years of deep devotion, I underwent many wonderful experiences, but facing the questions was not one of them. As I began to hear the direct testimony, and, in other cases, from parents and close friends of those who had been affected, the experience was gut-wrenching.
Continued in ……
Barry Pittard’s comments in regard to the Public Petition) -:
There is a Spanish version available: