Standing Up To Cultic Monoliths. (Sathya Sai Baba Organization Example)
Posted by Barry Pittard on March 17, 2010
Confronted by the smallest questioning of Sathya Sai Baba, his defenders commonly refer to instances such as the miracles he is supposed to have performed. Or indeed those phenomena which have happened beyond his physical presence but been related to him in some way.
The followers do not look at the evidence that human beings can be deceived both by fraudsters or magicians. Or that humankind has a vast track record of mental projection and of interpretation of phenomena according to unexamined presupposition. Nor do they consider – supposing that unusual phenomena can manifest, quite apart from any attempt to deceive – that parapsychological agencies yet to be fathomed by the sciences may be implicated. Instead, human beings tend to be quick to ascribe religious or philosophical interpretations that draw from their own religio-cultural predispositions.
Whatever one may conclude about topics demanding of complex discussion, the call for accountability and transparency of organizations is a relatively straightforward matter. In democracies, we expect it in our workplaces, civil associations, and institutions such as our judiciaries, governments and so forth. We have notions, too, of good citizenship and community, in which many individuals cherish and practise fairness and care for each other. All the Sathya Sai Organization’s talk about “service to others” rings hollow indeed when it treats those who question it so badly.
In regard to good faith, one might fairly wish to see members of the Sathya Sai Organization refuse to be any part of a cover up. One would like to assume them to be worthy citizens who share the benefits and responsibilities as members of the civil society. One might think that, in the face of repeated, widespread and serious allegations, they would subscribe to proper processes of accountability. People at large have a right to know the facts – especially given the seriousness of the allegations of serial, widespread sexual abuse of boys and young men, the killings in Sathya Sai Baba’s bedroom, the massive lack of accountability in regard to astronomical donations to the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust from many countries, the huge expenditure in lavish and showy buildings, the pomp and ceremony surrounding Sathya Sai Baba, the apartments scams, and so on.
In the matter of the sexual abuse issues (which involve others of his key servitors as well as Sai Baba), it is extremely wrong of devotees who are in-the-know to shut up about these matters, for it denies parents and guardians the opportunity to make their own minds up whether they send their young to be in his presence, and in his colleges.
There has now been Irish government acknowledgement of decades of profoundly covered up sexual abuse of children – girls and boys – on a huge scale by Catholic Priests in Ireland. India’s failure to act in regard to Sathya Sai Baba and other notable cases shames her before the world.
(Note: India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is one of a line of Indian Prime Ministers who have prostrated before Sathya Sai Baba. Those close to Singh have been involved in attempts to bring Sai Baba to account, but Singh, as did his predecessor A.B. Vajpayee, has turned a deaf ear. I would add that he and other Indian Prime Ministers and other senior figures have been provided with greater depth of information than it is sometimes possible to expose on the internet or other public fora).
There has been, as in the case of the Sathya Sai Organization leaders, the persistent and scandalous cover-up at all levels in the Roman Catholic Church up to and including Popes. Those Roman Catholics who for decades have been speaking out have been subjected to attacks very much like what other whistleblowers (including many former devotees of Sathya Sai Baba) have had to endure. It is terrible and wrong. The Irish case is full of stark parallels. Sathya Sai Baba is protected at the very highest levels in India. In regard to him, we learn at first hand from very senior diplomatic sources that diplomats are instructed not to “rock the boat with India”. The fallacy that most thinking Indians would be bound to detect is the absurd conflation of Sathya Sai Baba with India! Those who have traveled extensively in India know how huge is the repudiation of him in that great but tragic country.
When one speaks to dissenters from other areas, the same presentations of cultic believers are the case – cover up, character assassination, libel and defamation, vile vituperation on the one hand and cold shunning on the other, threats to sue and other bullying tactics, working to get people fired from their jobs, families broken up, inability to discuss without poor argument and distortion of what has actually been stated, and so on.
Standing forth for truthfulness is not an easy job.
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