Note: 3 December 2010. In the aftermath of Sathya Sai Baba’s 85th birthday celebrations, here is a 2007 article which shows that the incredible opulence that surrounds him has been in the building for a long time now.
In the director-writer-actor Orson Welles’s great movie classic Citizen Kane, one can, it is true, note certain differences between the U.S. newspaper proprietor William Randolf Hearst
and Welles’s and Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s creation Charles Foster Kane. For decades, the differences have been fought over – fiercely. Nonetheless, both were fabulously wealthy, gigantically egocentric – and corrupt. They splurged incredibly on their domiciles. As does Sathya Sai Baba -See: Sai Baba’s Birthday. Vast, Costly Pomp and Ceremony
(Microsoft founder, Bill Gates’s humble little shack – dubbed by some wag as: Xanadu 2.0. No zoo there yet, but who knows? – with the true coming-of-age of Robotics something cyber-‘animal’ might be managed. Although Sai Baba’s imperial fiat has gone out to his devotees that they must have nothing to do with the Internet, his devotees, from top to bottom, are using it extensively. So much for the notion ‘Guru is God’).
In naming the fictive Kane’s dream home on sprawling acres, Xanadu, Welles and his writer Mankiewicz thought – perhaps inevitably – of the fabulous city of the 13th Century Mongolian emperor, Kubla Khan (see portrait above) and of the English Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s fittingly eccentric and exotic poem known to millions, whose first line runs:
- In Xanadu did Kubla KhanA stately pleasure-dome decree
- Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
- Through caverns measureless to man
- Down to a sunless sea
- So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round :
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
Today’s Would-be ‘Emperor’ of India and Then the World
Kane in Florida, like Hearst at San Simeon in California, was absolute King of his castle. But there is a virtual Emperor in India – Sathya Sai Baba.
But even Randolph Hearst (as perhaps a modern-day media buccaneer Rupert Murdoch) might have blushed a wee bit for shame to hold such sway with the big end of town as Sathya Sai Baba has long done with India’s power brokers, irrespective of what political party is in power. Sai Baba (and I have seen him up close a great many times), who long ago learnt not to blush, is arguably India’s and history’s most famous – and infamous – guru.
How the stupendous splurger Sai Baba can ever say the name of Mahatma Gandhi, modern India’s simple-living ‘father of the nation’, without blushing is one of his greatest miracles!
Hearst would refer to his establishment as “the ranch”. Hugh Heffner, the ‘soft’ pornography magnate and publisher of Playboy Magazine had built his Playboy Mansion, of which the writer John Marshal has observed that driving through its gates is “like being misdirected into the back entrance of a public zoo”. The zoo atmospheric reminds that Hearst’s estate included a zoo – then the world’s largest. The narrator in Citizen Kane speaks of Kane having the largest zoo since Noah. See USA Weekend LINK.
India’s Fabulous Top Guru Sai Baba. More Emperor Than King
But then see the article:
One wonders why Sai Baba has not included a gee-wizzo zoo. Perhaps it would be a counter-distraction, because everybody is supposed to have their eyes trained on Sai Baba (it is called ‘darshan’, and his devotees spell it with a capital ‘D’. Instead of gazing at one’s navel, one gazes at the guru). However, one Indian man sitting next to me at a Sai Baba ‘darshan’ described Sai Baba’s setup to me as “a national circus”.
See: SATHYA SAI ORGANIZATION LAVISH SPENDING ON SUPER DOME VENUE MEETING
Compiled from Australian sources, with comments by Barry Pittard and Robert Priddy
Vastly Costly Monuments Glorifying Sai Baba
His splashy-colored and sometimes vast buildings rise up at enormous cost. Sathya Sai Baba’s exchequer owes to vast donations to his Central Trust via his powerful organisation spanning more than 150 countries, and not least to the donations of the extremely wealthy – like James Sinclair, the Canadian cable and minerals magnate, Isaac Tigrett the American founder of the Hard Rock Café and House of Blues, the Rai family in India in steel and technology, and an astounding number of other hugely wealthy and influential individuals and families from many countries. Rediff News, July 06, 2005, reported:
“The Andhra Pradesh-based Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust is the largest recipient of foreign contributions. The Sathya Sai Trust received Rs 95 crore (Rs 950 million) during 2003-04″.
This figure – which is well over US $20 million – is but the officially declared one and does not account for contributions of those foreigners who donate when they are in India. One can observe how at Sathya Sai Baba’s establishments at Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh, and Whitefield, Karnataka, in South India, the Indian and foreign mega business fraternity swap business cards – within what devotees regard as the so-called Holiest of Holy precincts! – and thereafter mutually thrive. At the Puttaparthi temple, on June 6, 1993) police executions took place in Sai Baba’s bedroom, with his close proximity and command of the situation. See my article, at LINK, which contains a further link to a video clip of the BBC The Secret Swami television interview with former Andhra Pradesh Home Secretary V.P.B. Nair saying that the slaying was “absolute cold-blooded murder”).
It is easy to see that far wider national and international economic and political forces are at play, and that it is little wonder how successive Indian governments both State and Central have been loathe to ‘kill’ a goose that lays an incredible number of golden eggs.
Efforts to Globalize Sathya Sai Baba with World Radio Station
Sai Baba controls with an iron hand the international Sathya Sai Organization. This powerful cult has been found by some of the world’s top media like the BBC, Times of London, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, and in other countries, as well as UNESCO, the U.S. State Department and other institutions to be extremely hard to investigate or act against. His second most senior aide is its deputy chairman, who, as head of Sai Global Harmony, is his ‘minister of propaganda’, Dr G. Venkataraman, one of the progenitors of India’s atomic bomb, as was Sai Baba’s previous close aide, the late Dr S. Bhagavantam – sometimes called ‘the father of the Indian atomic bomb’ – as was his present staunch devotee, the President of India, Dr A.J. P. Kalam, who writes flowery panegyrics to Sai Baba, as did the last Indian Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Sai Global Harmony broadcasts, in affiliation with WorldSpace International Satellite Radio Service, 24/7 to many countries. With a behind-the-scenes corporate-style, assisted by the billions of funds that pour from many countries into the Sathya Sai Central Trust, the declared aim is to penetrate to every corner of the globe.
Government Inaction on Powerful Cults
A vital question will be whether politicians in democratic countries will be capable of distinguishing between the issue of freedom of religion and the issue of cults that decidedly do not, whatever may be their rhetoric, respect democracy.
Followers Believe Sathya Sai Baba Will Rule World
Former monstrous Ugandan dictator Idi Amin (about whom Sai Baba and G. Venkatarman have warmly recollected, See LINK) only imagined himself to be the ‘Last King of Scotland’ but Sai Baba takes all India for his domain, not to mention the world, which he has long said (it is one of his myriad of broken promises) he will travel to and bring to his feet, after he has “set (his) own back yard (India) in order” and before he dies in AD 2022. Given India’s enduring tragedy – despite her superpower aspirations – he had better get a bit of a wriggle on!
Poor Hearst, Jackson, Gates, Murdoch, et alia! For Sai Baba is an Emperor, who has Indian power brokers in his thrall irrespective of their party or religious affiliation. None – except a rare and tremendously courageous individual like B. Premanand, India’s famous “guru buster” – dare take him on in India. See BBC story HERE.
For Successive Indian Governments, Sathya Sai Baba Is ‘goose that lays the golden eggs’
Indian local, central and state governments, often incredibly corrupt and incompetent, are able to watch while the more efficient Sai Baba and his massive organization get social welfare projects done. Drawn out of donations from some 150 foreign countries, his revenue is prodigious. India’s profoundly compromised ruling elites would no more sneeze at that country’s donations from Bill Gates, yet another of history’s outstanding buccaneers, than it would at the taxable revenue pouring into the Sathya Sai Central Trust.
(21 MB, Modem)
Raising ever more serious questions about how spiritual is the head of what Sathya Sai Baba has called THE divine organization in the world,
at the BBC’s perfectly reasonable questions about accountability
Michael Goldstein and the sexual allegations (2,10 Mbs)
(Note: You may prefer to proceed straight to the Petition):
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves ;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice ! …..
….. That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome ! those caves of ice !
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.