Ex- Sathya Sai Baba Students Could Aid Sex Abuse Change In India. But Will They?
Posted by Barry Pittard on August 5, 2011
A few years ago, I addressed an ‘open letter’ to my former Whitefield (‘Brindavan’, via Bangalore, South India) Sathya Sai College Students.
On re-reading, I see that its terms can fairly be addressed (give or take the occasional specific reference) to all alumni, past and present. There have been so many revelations of great and pervasive corruption both in Sathya Sai Baba himself and in many of his officials (especially his core servitors) that it may not go amiss to post this communication here.
Thousands of Sathya Sai education alumni face a dilemma not only in their immediate communities but wherever they may settle or travel. It is hard to imagine a major education institution in which a founder and certain teachers and Trust officials have been so deeply embroiled in scandal.
But, with searching analysis and deeply thought-through remedial action, what can be so terrible can, with great good will, be transformed into something that is so wonderful. And these alumni, potentially, are faced with a great challenge. Examples where still more horrible consequences could have ensued spring to mind. Such as the work associated with names like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and so on. I do not mean to say that their visions for society should not be challenged. I do mean to say that they triumphed over likely outcomes that are almost too terrible to contemplate.
Was major change to human mores and consciousness ever achieved without courage and sacrifice? Or via silence and inaction?
The Sathya Sai Baba schools, colleges and university were always places which emphasized moral uprightness. In all Sai Baba’s and his teachers’ preachments, compassion for those who suffer was exalted as an action, not just a fine feeling. Such action was the means by which the great primal energy which flows through all sentient beings could be vividly experienced.
The qualities forever enunciated were: Sathya (Truth), Dharma (Right Conduct), Shanti (Peace), Prema (Love) and Non-violence (Ahimsa). These were said to be timeless in their nature but pragmatic and contemporary if they were to be experienced at all.
Many parents trusted Sai Baba and his teachers to deliver an education meant vastly to be different. To be something transformative in terms of character, with unselfishness at its core. And anything but materialistic and utilitarian. Or subject to corruption and scandal. Or for its founder to be exposed on BBC television in a documentary that has been seen by tens or scores or millions of people, and named ‘the Secret Swami’ …..
And – via the hardworking efforts of networked former devotees from around the world, who presented excellent credentials – our movement of exposure was able to be covered at various times by many leading media. This ability to prove our good standing, was, be it said, most contrary to the libels of Dr G. Venkataraman – see: Robert Priddy and Barry Pittard On Dr G. Venkataraman – Sathya Sai Baba Global Propagandist. And indeed, with a vitriol and cruelty hard to match, of Sai Baba’s virtual proxy on the web, Gerald Moreno, a web fanatic urged on by those close to Sai Baba who daily broke his teachings in his years of almost daily web-stalking, bitter name-calling attacks on former devotees and others who stood forth.
For some indication of former devotee activity in exposing Sathya Sai Baba internationally, see: BBC, CBC (Canada), DR (Denmark), Salon.com (USA), SBS (all television), ABC (Radio Australia). In paper media – India Today, Times of London, Daily Telegraph, Guardian (UK), Marie Claire Magazine, Salon.com, BT, Bild, Focus, Trouw, Speegelbield, Noordhollands Dagblad, Sokaren, Gatopardo, Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Star, Vancouver Sun, Age, Australian Financial Review, West Australian (a major front page article by an award-winning journalist (Torrance Mendez) was pulled at the 11th hour!), Adelaide Advertiser, etc., …..
Of course, perhaps there never was an education institution which lived up to its glowing Prospectus. But at the very pinnacle of the Sai institutions was a leader who, for whatever good he intended or achieved, was bright in what he preached but often dark in what he secretly lived.
For those who wish confidentially to write to me: email@example.com
Or – Robert Priddy, former head of the Norwegian Sathya Sai Organization, retired academic, University of Oslo: firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: For those who wish to contemplate mounting Class Action Legal Suits, networked former Sai devotees remain servants, just as we do for those who do not wish to take such actions. Those who may wish to embark on the healing of themselves and families, we are happy to put in contact with our highly qualified psychologists and psychotherapists under conditions of the strictest confidentiality. Advice can also be accessed via departments in major universities, chartered national and international associations, etc.
To My Dear Former Whitefield College Students
I taught you English for two years in 1978-79. These were wonderful experiences.
More recently, Sathya Sai Baba, founder of Whitefield College outside Bangalore, south India, is being accused of large-scale sexual abuse of boys and young men of many countries.
Whether through my own naiveté or lack of experience as a teacher, I was ignorant of any immoral sexual harassment perpetrated upon you or your classmates by Sathya Sai Baba. I am sad that I did not know of any actual or potential abuses, and only strong, sustained action to stop any further abuses by him will alleviate this sadness. The evidence very strongly indicates that he continues these abuses. .
As I reflect on those years I spent with you at the Whitefield College, I wonder:
Did you then yourself feel that whole families, even communities, would have disbelieved and scorned you had you spoken out?
Were you concerned that your education, career and marriage prospects would fail if you spoke out?
Was it impossible for you to reconcile your beliefs with your knowledge or suspicion that the one you believed to be “God” was a sexual abuser? Did some of you think that God would manifest in the guise of a molester of children and young men?
Did you secretly despise what was, it seems, happening to your beautiful, tender, and trusting innocence – yet did not know how to stop it?
Several of us, as former, long-time devotees, are now global coordinators in response to the alleged abuses. Increasing numbers of Indian and overseas persons have shared with us what they swear to be their direct experiences of sexual abuses by Sathya Sai Baba. They tell us that they found the experience most abhorrent, confusing and even traumatic.
Many of the descriptions, in shocking graphic detail, are heartrending to hear in person or on the phone, and to read in their affidavits and other testimonies. Expert psychologists and police have shown us how experienced sexual abusers operate the world over. The same patterns occur in countless worldwide reports that allege sexual misconduct by Sathya Sai Baba.
I was not able to stand up on behalf of what seems to have been your horribly betrayed innocence back in those days. However, I will – both openly and privately – do my best to represent that innocence now, and on an international scale.
I trust we will assist each other to uphold Truth, Right Conduct, Peace and Love. (These are such easy words to say! Yet, work and courage are required to uphold them). We coordinators are quiet about issues such as numbers and whereabouts of alleged victims or witnesses. On websites and elsewhere, defenders of Sathya Sai Baba and his assistants deride us for not producing credible witnesses. Time will most decidedly tell!
The real reason for our silence is the protection of those persons (or their families) by whom the allegations are being made. Outstanding professional abuse counsellors, Interpol, foreign ministries, legal and other consultants are closely assisting our efforts. With ever-increasing strength, former devotees from many countries will present to the world, and the law courts, extremely powerful evidence of terrible abuse of spiritual power. Abuse by one who seemed to be of the calibre of a Sri Krishna or Sri Rama or Jesus or Buddha. Yet, none of these illustrious spiritual leaders were ever suspected or accused of any such dreadful crimes against minors and young men.
Beloved former students, some of you and I actually were present during ineffably beautiful miraculous experiences that the rational mind will never comprehend. That is on the side of Light. It has promoted transformation. However, we are only whole persons when, fearlessly, we can look unflinchingly into the Darkness as well. This brings the greater transformation.
I welcome you, on a strictly private basis, to please contact me. Any information that you can provide concerning sexual or any other abuses by Sathya Sai Baba will be appreciated. It is our duty as citizens to ensure that sexual abuse and other crimes are made accountable. No matter what abilities a rare, super phenomenal, charismatic individual may possess, let us be sure: God will never manifest as a vast scale, serial sexual abuser of boys and young men.
Barry Pittard (Australia)
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