Dr Naresh Bhatia’s Testimony: Sathya Sai Baba Serial Sexual Abuser of Boys and Young Men
Posted by Barry Pittard on January 16, 2010
An Indian citizen, Dr Naresh K. Bhatia, publicly announced to a leading British newspaper, The Telegraph, that he had been a homosexual lover of Sai Baba.
For many years Dr Bhatia was prominent doctor in Sathya Sai Baba’s service – head of the Blood Bank at Puttaparthi and for six years head of the blood bank of the Sathya Sai Super Speciality hospital in Sathya Sai Baba’s vast medical establishment. He has since worked in a hospital in New Delhi. A very popular Sai Baba-appointed speaker to both Indian and foreign groups, he wrote the widely read ‘Dreams and Realities’, published by Leela Press, the US publisher of many books on Sai Baba. After Dr Bhatia had spoken out, the organization stopped the book’s further sale. A note of proscription appeared in the official Sai newsletter, distributed worldwide.
Dr Bhatia told author and Daily Telegraph journalist Mick Brown that he had sexual relations with Sai Baba for 15 or 16 years. He revealed that Sai Baba had, over the years, sexual relations with “many, many” of his students, and had brutally raped a minor whom Dr. Bhatia examined afterwards and referred to a physician in Bangalore. He says he confronted Sathya Sai Baba, which led to his banishment. It is standard Sai handling for those who speak up.
In early 2004, BBC assistant producer David Saville, with whom for about seven months I was in contact during the making of ‘The Secret Swami’, told me that producer Eamon Hardy, who was then in India with the BBC investigative and camera crew, had just spent some time with Dr Bhatia. I may mention in passing that the sort of desperate comment typically emanating from Sai Baba apologist commentary is that there is no guarantee that the person contacted by a reporter was in fact THE Dr Bhatia.
He is not the only prominent figure around Sai Baba who has come out publicly and spoken frankly about his having sexual relationships with India’s most famous and powerful religious teacher. Another is Conny Larsson, former head of the Sathya Sai Organization in Sweden, who was a film star and more recently has worked in alcohol and drug rehabilitation in the Swedish prison system. For Swedish psychologist and ex-devotee Åsa Samsioe’s review of Larsson’s book ‘Behind the Mask of the Clown’, see HERE. See ex-head of the Norwegian Sathya Sai Organization Robert Priddy’s review HERE.
Dr Bhatia’s case is one of many in which, from the moment an individual speaks out, a process of Sai demonization commences. They have given decades of service and won respect for the quality and dedication of their service. Lo, overnight, Sai Baba and his servitors, quickly followed by members at large, pronounced dissenters to be devils, Judases, etc.! In the Sathya Sai Organization, there is no process of accountability for those who stand accused. Indeed, this stark fact is one of its greatest vulnerabilities, in those parts of the world which cherish proper justice processes, of this global organization.
As is commonly seen in accounts of apostates from many other cults, former devotees have not been spared that hatred, anger and denunciation which turn upon those who have stood forth, at tremendous cost to themselves and in the interests of truth. Thousands have heard Sai Baba say that the Sathya Sai Organization is divine, and the instrument via which he will transform the planet before he leaves in circa AD 2022. Its behaviour in denouncing leave-takers, and covering up many scandals including killings in Sai Baba’s bedroom bares it to stark exposure. It resoundingly falsifies such claims at the outset.
Former devotees have already had to handle, after years of intensely loving devotion and service, the immense sense of spiritual betrayal. Their lot is untold execration, harassment, distortion of their words and motivations, defamation and libel.
In correspondence, Dr Bhatia told me that he still cannot shake off his belief that Sai Baba is Divine. Clearly, in his case, and in that of his devotees at large, spiritual detachment, which Sai Baba forever advocates, is notably missing. The grip is vice-like.
Dr Bhatia told me that Sai Baba has sexually abused very many of his (Sai Baba’s) students. Dr Bhatia wrote further that the threat to life is very real, especially that of a boy whom he professionally believed to have been badly sodomized by Sai Baba. He had the boy sent to a physician in Bangalore, who arrived at the same professional diagnosis about the presentation, including serious injuries.
I asked whether all that he had testified he could corroborate in a properly conducted court of law. He assured me that this was so. In fact, many former devotees around the world who are closely conversant with the facts in their experiences have been ready to testify.
Dr Bhatia mentioned that he had reason to fear for the well-being of the young person and modified his earlier public stance. His public statement can be seen in David and Faye Bailey’s seminal document ‘The Findings’ (circa late 2000). This husband and wife were unusually prominent Sai Baba emissaries. See my article: Reply to a Sathya Sai Devotee’s Note re: David and Faye Bailey. They have recounted that, as they moved around the world representing Sai Baba in his official centers round the world, parents of abused young males, and sometimes those who claimed Sai Baba (and in some cases certain of his servitors) sexually abused them, would come to them with harrowing accounts of sexual abuse. These depicted a very different Sai Baba – one who had long engaged in actions that were criminal and hypocritical in the extreme.
Dr Bhatia also clarified a misunderstanding for me. It had earlier been said that this boy was seven years old when very badly sexually abused by Sai Baba. He confirmed to me that the boy was not seven seven years old but was then in Level 7 at Sai Baba’s school at Puttaparthi. He has also confirmed all the above to my fellow Australian Stephen Carthew, former spiritual coördinator for South Australia in the Sathya Sai Organization, who visited Dr Bhatia in New Delhi 2000. He wrote to me that: “I found Dr Bhatia delightful and most welcoming, notwithstanding the bind he is in. His own ambivalence regarding the spiritual nature of his Guru, and the pressures coming from many sources to keep quiet, makes it difficult for him to do more than tell his story when asked. Certainly, he believed he was threatened and harassed during his rushed departure from Puttapaparthi, after criticizing Sai Baba to his face.” For an update and the link for an Australian Broadcasting Corporation documentary featuring Stephen Carthew, see: Stephen Carthew, A Voice of Testimony From Australia, On The Dangers of Cults
Robert Priddy’s comment on the Bhatia case
Note: At the time referred to in his note, Robert Priddy was head of the Sathya Sai Organization in Norway. “Ours” refers to himself and his wife, Reidun Priddy. Priddy was a careful diarist and he has begun releasing scans of his diaries.
“In 1999/2000 a lady friend of ours – Anne-Irene – had close connections with ‘insiders’ at Prashanthi Nilayam, especially Mr.& Mrs. Ratan Lala and the US lady called Veronica who ran the foreigners’ canteen. Anne-Irene was present when Dr. Naresh Bhatia was discredited and made to leave his post as head of the Blood Donation Unit at Sathya Sai Baba’s big hospital in Puttaparti. She reported how rumours flew in all directions, as is always the case when such events occur at the Sai ashrams, for there is always a rigid clamp-down on anyone who knows facts from telling the truth. As usual, those unsupported rumours were set going and allowed to flourish with ‘no comments’… especially that Dr. Bhatia had been caught having sexual relations with nurses at the hospital, and that this had been going on with other young ladies over whom he was in a position of authority. Dr. Bhatia, who is married with children, wrote a very flowery and adulatory book called “Dreams and realities face to face with God” (which reflects his belief fully). It was immediately taken off sale at the Sathya Sai Baba Book & Publications Trust, and it was withdrawn and all existing copies were remaindered by the publisher (Jack Scher – since deceased – another egocentric millionaire follower of Sai Baba who had so to speak ‘bought into’ a verandah place by setting up a publishing co. for Sai books in the US called ‘Leela Press’). V.K.Narasimhan was instructed to publish the disclaimer about Dr. Bhatia in Sanathana Sarathi”
The Sathya Sai Organisation’s Deception and Propaganda Exposed – by Robert Priddy and Barry Pittard. Part One Part Two Part Three
There is a Spanish version available: