For Those Connected With Sathya Sai Education Institutions: A Reckoning Time
Posted by Barry Pittard on July 16, 2011
From Barry Pittard, Australia, former lecturer (1978-79) at the Sathya Sai College, Brindavan, Whitefield via Bangalore
My words here I especially address to my former students, and others in Sai education institutions, formerly and currently -:
Some of those whom Sathya Sai Baba and his aides betrayed are taking new steps. Sai Baba is dead, but those complicit in his many and terrible abuses are still alive.
Many of you know that Sathya Sai Baba, sexually molested many boys and young men, faked materializations, made failed promises of cure from grave illnesses, made prophecies that have not come true, collected incredibly vast moneys and valuables, and many other wrongful acts.
Many of you realise that his deeds profoundly contradicted his words, and that setting himself up with an imperial splendour continues to bring India into terrible disrepute around the world.
Apart from his betrayal, you were badly let down by those very teachers, who failed to display that duty of care expected of all professionals and all adults who have young in their charge. He betrayed you; they betrayed you. The Sathya Sai Central Trust and the international Sathya Sai Organization betrayed your trust and that of a great many others.
Those of you who tried to reach out to parents, friends or leaders in the Sathya Sai Organization often met with incomprehension, anger, threats and rejection. There is a lot of healing to be done, which will not be achieved until the light of truth is shone into the dark places of deception.
From direct, highly confidential contact with former students, those such as Robert Priddy (former head of the Sathya Sai Organization of Norway and retired academic at the University of Oslo and I (formerly a lecturer at the Brindavan College, Whitefield, via Bangalore, South India) know that so-called ‘form boys’ were often molested sexually in Sathya Sai education institutions. They were given sham reasons for the sexual molestations, like healing, spiritual awakening, divine love on a mystical, transcendental plane, and so on.
Soon, I shall write separately regarding others beyond your Sai institutions, suggesting what steps are now opening up for redress.
It has long been heavy in my heart (although I did not then know of their plight) that my own, much-beloved students at the Sathya Sai College, Whitefield, via Bangalore were being sacrificed to the hands of a predator. I say to them and to other victims: Your age and tender experience made you vulnerable to him and to his calculated lies, and you were virtually under his (and others’) power at Sai places of learning. It hurt you all the more that, in many cases, your parents were devotees who would not hear a word against Sai Baba, or those teachers complicit with him, even from their own sons.
In some cases, Sai Baba had given ashram apartments and other privileges to family and relatives or more widely in India or abroad. Our contacts say that this was a key factor in making some boys remain silent about what was happening to them or their friends there.
You too may have heard of deeply disturbing accounts of suicides, and of cases where ‘form boys’ and others have been sent out in disgrace. It is also my understanding that a Sai college colleague of mine, and who boys liked and respected, who did speak out was cast out, because he spoke forth, wanting to protect the boys. Trustfully his good repute can now be redeemed. I wish to see, as part of the work of our newly strengthened group, that honorable persons who attempted to address these matters will be, at last, vindicated. Those who did not heed them, and who threatened, reviled and shunned them owe them profound apologies.
But some situations are so criminal that apologies will not do, and due restitution needs to be exacted in no uncertain terms.
You would, surely, never wish that your own children be prey to immoral behaviour in a college in which founder and staff permit students to be used for sexual gratification. Now that Sai Baba is gone, many of you who are still left with a terrible dilemma. Today, you have family and significant others who fully expect your own children to join his schools, colleges and university. With all my heart, I urge you to stand up to the voices that would keep you in pain and silence. While you yourself know that Sai Baba was not the only sexual abuser in his education institutions, those around represent a considerable pressure to send your children to these places. You are now an adult, and the same extenuating circumstances which you faced when young and vulnerable cannot now be offered. You can make choices, and be either resolute or weak.
Duty of care is practised by millions of parents, guardians, teachers and others throughout the world. But it was not practised by the one who told you he was God. Quite a few of you will recall how Sai Baba told you that you had been his dear consorts when he came as Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, or Shirdi Sai Baba. But the late Glen Meloy (USA), who had been an honored, dedicated Sai Baba devotee for 26 years, and who, until he died in 2005, was my close collaborator in the exposure of Sai cult corruption wrote: “The God in my heart does NOT molest little children and does NOT sexually abuse ANYONE regardless of their gender or age… nor does he/she masquerade as a magician in a cloak of goodness while committing other acts of evil”. See: Glen Meloy (“Standing up for truth and goodness”) – In Memoriam
These heinous betrayals of trust are not forgotten. True, now that he is dead, Sathya Sai Baba cannot further be pursued in person. However, he had many enablers. They are alive today, and have much to answer and to atone for. They represent at least four generations.
But there are those who are determined, able and willing to pursue these unconscienable miscreants by all the means civil society provides. We are aware that in India the law has been totally waylaid by Sai devotee judges for many years, and with the backing of successive national, state and local Indian governments to the highest levels. This state of affairs will not last and it is already changing in favour of those whose relatives, and in some cases themselves, have been abused. They are ready to exert their considerable powers to pursue justice.
Many have tried to forget the deep wounds of heart and mind that they bear, which they tell us has often been extremely hard for them. Others have come away who appear less affected because individuals differ greatly in how they deal with the consequences, including the emotions like guilt, shame, anger and hate aroused by such abuses. Perverted sexuality and other forms of grave abuse do regularly cause long-lasting and often deep ongoing disturbance. Relationships between partners and parents and children are at risk.
Frequently, abused and traumatized persons forcibly thrust out of mind the unwelcome, painful memories. These undealt-with issues often lead to a slew of physiological and psychological sypmptoms. Terrible secrets undermine and corrode. And wounds only heal when they are cleaned.
Among victims with whom we have been privately in touch over the last two decades are dignified, productive and confident survivors. Some of them are readying to speak out in clear terms. There are affidavits and pledges from honourable persons from several countries, including those who attended Sathya Sai education institutions.
Still others are willing to assist in the background. Some fear that they cannot speak out without endangering themselves or their families. Some see relocation to other more democratic countries as a means to speak out, and also to pursue their own healing. Some are already non-resident Indians.
The burden of having to remain silent has been very heavy, we know. That some persons feel they have had some success in ‘moving on’ does not alter their acute sense of wrongness in not having spoken out or to have supported those who have.
But then, it is silence that allows abusers to thrive. Without plenty of survivors and their advocates strongly grouping to prosecute those who abuse and those who aid and abet the abusers, whole communities and societies are endangered. Voices crying in the wilderness are defamed, libelled and made to appear liars and fools. This situation is now beginning to be addressed by an influx of new exposé activists who are already organising the documentation and collation of materials with the support of ex-students and others whom Sai Baba and others in his education sector have abused.
It is intended that these actions of ours be decisive, professional, and ongoing. Unlike some who fail to see the necessary connection between spirituality and civil action, we see as entirely proper the use of both criminal and civil courts to protect the innocent.
Many survivors of the crimes of Sai Baba and his aiders and abettors have spent years of getting together their families, trades and professions. But those such as (the late Glen Meloy (q.v.), Alexandra Nagel, Hari Sampath, Robert Priddy, Brian Steel, Conny Larsson, myself (and former Sai devotees worldwide in the background) have made a mission constantly to remind that justice has not yet been done in the face of Sai Baba’s and his cult’s great iniquities.
Some of you who are current and former teachers and students know that, since circa 2000, the speaking-out by former devotees has troubled the abusers. Those of you who were close to Sai Baba knew, after our formal movement of exposure revealed him to an international audience, of his fits of anger, weeping, and ongoing decline of mental and physical health, and of his cowardly, unsubstantiated and vague denunciations against those who have spoken forth. Some of you will know that Sai centers in different parts of the world have almost emptied of membership, because of the known integrity of some families or individuals who addressed, rather than hid from, the allegations of sexual molestation and other abuses by Sai Baba or his close accomplices.
The powerful challenge to those who have brought your places of learning into terrible disrepute will unfold in due course. And the international public will come to know of this shortly. Quite apart from our former devotee network’s history of extensive and highly successful contact with leading world media and high echelons of government – some of our dissenting forces bent on revealing the truth have wrested a number of successes that have not been made public. These were achievable under circumstances which, hopefully, we will be free to reveal after due processes have been implemented.
In analagous areas, I commend this as a good time to look at the success of the Turley law firm, among others, in winning a large settlement against ISKON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) in a huge sexual abuse case which won international attention. There is a statement of an ISKON leader which I find quite moving. See: http://www.pratyatosa.com/?P=14.
Likewise, the Roman Catholic Church, which has long been plagued by sex abuse scandals, has accepted responsibility. Its senior clergy is now informing the police, paying compensation, protecting children and helping in the prosecution of those who covered up these scandals. Increasingly, there are those who say that the Sathya Sai Central Trust and international Sathya Sai Organization should be made to do the same.
In these other pursuits of justice, student, parent, teacher and friendship networking has played a signal part powerful in bringing the predators and bullies to their knees. My key point is that you, too, can play an important role in an historic watershed challenge to the forces of corruption that have held you in thrall. My assurance to you is that Indian citizens, non-resident Indians and non-Indians from several other countries are massing forces.
Confidential enquiries can be addressed-:
To me: email@example.com
Robert Priddy: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or to our colleague: Jay Narain, who is coordinating a major litigation lawsuit against Sai Baba’s officials and others deemed to be complicit in many and serious abuses: Jnarain05@hotmail.com. In the 80’s, Jay was a student at the Sathya Sai College, Whitefield, and I have long ago had contact with his close family members, among whom there have been other attendees at a Sathya Sai Baba institution.
The law firm handling this lawsuit, which already has many outstanding members, which others are welcome to join is: Hunt and Hunt – http://www.hunthunt.com.au/expertise/international-group/
Barry Pittard, Australia. (Former lecturer at the Sathya Sai College, Whitefield, outside Bangalore, Karnataka, South India).