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Child Abuse Rife In India. But Who Would Speak Out?

Posted by Barry Pittard on April 13, 2007

It is impossible for many of the Indian students and former students of Sathya Sai Baba’s colleges and university, and others to come forward with their accounts, which are innumerable from around the world of his decades of sexual abuse of boys and young men.    

Their parents, relatives and friends are – very often – Sai Baba devotees who worship Sai Baba as God, and are unlikely to believe them, or, in other cases, concoct rationalizations for why Sai Baba would do such a thing. The victims have nowhere to turn, unless to persons such as David Bailey, who was a music teacher at Sai Baba’s Institute of Higher Learning), or Terry Gallagher who, after considerable investigation resigned as head of the Sathya Sai Organization in Australia. They, like even myself once, as a lecturer in a Sai Baba college, had a ‘privileged’ seat on Sai Baba’s veranda. Various Indian and western former students and others who have had close ties with Sai Baba also get in touch with those such as Robert Priddy and me, owing to our high profile in investigating Sai Baba and his movement, and ensuring that information reaches the world more widely. It is essential that their accounts be kept highly secure, such as lodgement in the vaults of a bank.  Many may never wish to witness in for example a class action lawsuit but if ever they should so wish the option is there.

A former staff member who contacted me told of how, when he raised disturbing questions with other staff members, he was tipped off by one of his teaching colleagues that his life was now in danger. The Germans Jens and Gurprit Sethi were similarly tipped off and fled from Puttaparthi. They informed their embasssy in Delhi and the German police, and returned to their country for good.  If students were to withdraw from their studies, they would lose their education, career and marriage prospects.

In India a great many marriages are arranged, and marriage is in many ways a complex family alliance. Some of Sai Baba’s former Indian students, including those with personal accounts of his sexual abuse of them, have told me that the shame and stigma attached to having been abused by Sai Baba thwarts the type of action former devotees have initiated in the West.

India is a country where survival is often a fight, if not in everyone’s case for food and shelter , at least to achieve and maintain tenuous social position.  The abuser is a world-famous religious teacher, in a country with thousands of years’ tradition of intense guru worship and extreme idolising of notable public figures. Sai Baba’s power and influence in virtually all sectors of Indian society is so great as almost to defy the imagination.Discussion of various forms of sexual abuse, such as rape, incest and molestation, is strictly tabooed in India.

A common Indian perception is that only if one has a great deal of money and power, with the ability to use them corruptly, is there a chance of getting one’s story out and acted upon. But even here, who would wish to break the taboo?

Barry Pittard. Email:  bpittard AT optusnet.com.au

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Posted in Morality, Neglected/sidelined News, New Age, News, News and Politics, Opinion, Pediatrics, People, Philosophy, Politics, Propaganda, Protest, Psychiatry, Psychology, Psychotherapy, Religion, Scandal, Sex, Skeptics, Social and Politics, Society, Spirituality, Sri Lanka, Successful People, Theology, Trends, Uncategorized, World Issues, World Religions | Leave a Comment »

Child Abuse in India. Will Minister Renuka Chowdhury Act?

Posted by Barry Pittard on April 11, 2007

renuka-chaudhuri.jpg(Renuka, in blue sari, and close business friend)

In the last hours, the BBC and other news services have reported on a major study of child abuse in India. See:
https://barrypittard.wordpress.com/2007/04/11/child-abuse-landmark-indian-government-study/

The BBC report says, 

“Two out of every three children in India are physically abused, according to a landmark Indian government study”

The Manmohan Singh government of India Minister responsible for the release of the report is Renuka Choudhury (also spelt Chowdhury). Before she became Minister for Women and Child Development, Ms Choudhury was Minister for Tourism who worked hard at driving tourism to Sai Baba and Puttaparthi, where he has his main ashram. She  comes from Andhra Pradesh, the same state of India as Sai Baba. Among many other serious accusations, Sai Baba faces worldwide allegations of sexual abuse of boys and young men, implication in police killings in his bedroom on June 6, 1993, and, along with his ashram officials and the Congress Party government of the time (the present Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Party), is accused of a massive cover-up of the scandal.

One of our Indian workers reports dealing closely with Ms Choudhury and briefing her in detail about compelling evidence against Sai Baba. He said that she went to real effort to personally photocopy vital documents our group shared with her and, still further, to go around to the then Opposition leader Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s residence to brief her on them. The rest was silence – which, of course, is the very essence of deep compromise and cover-up.

In her Tourism portfolio, Renuka Chaudhury, in all practical effect, drove large numbers of boys and young males to Sai Baba. This was even though she was in possession of extremely revealing documents (too sensitive to reveal on the Internet) that, among other terrible matters, evidenced years of large-scale, serial sexual molestation by Sai Baba.

How, then, after all, can Mrs Chaudhuri act to rid India of a sexual abuse scourge that implicates such powerful figures as Sathya Sai Baba?  Manmohan Singh and so many members of his political party – and indeed the President of India, Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam – are deeply implicated with Sai Baba. 

Sai Baba is arguably the most powerful and influential guru in India’s history. How could Renuka Chaudhury and her Ministry of Women and Child Development possibly prevail against one who is so incredibly powerful, and one who the BBC has named ‘The Secret Swami’?

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Posted in Medicine, Morality, Neglected/sidelined News, Nepal, New Age, News, News and Politics, Opinion, Pediatrics, People, Philanthropy, Philosophy, Politics, Propaganda, Protest, Psychiatry, Psychology, Psychotherapy, Rationalism, Religion, Scandal, Sex, Skeptics, Social and Politics, Society, Spirituality, Sri Lanka, Successful People, Theology, Theosophy, Trends, Uncategorized, World Issues, World Religions | 2 Comments »

Child Abuse. Landmark Indian Government Study

Posted by Barry Pittard on April 11, 2007

Abuse of Indian children ‘common’
By Geeta Pandey
BBC News, Delhi

This is the first time India has done such a survey on child abuse
Two out of every three children in India are physically abused, according to a landmark government study.

Commissioned by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the study says 53% of the surveyed children reported one or more forms of sexual abuse.

This is the first time the government has done such an exhaustive survey on the controversial issue of child abuse.

Abuse of children, particularly sexual abuse, is rarely admitted in India and activists have welcomed the study.

Releasing the report at a press conference in the capital, Delhi, Minister for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury said: “In India there’s a tradition of denying child abuse. It doesn’t happen here is what we normally say.

“But by remaining silent, we have aided and abetted the abuse of children.”

Thousands quizzed

Describing the findings of the study as “disturbing”, Ms Chowdhury called for an end to the “conspiracy of silence”.

The issue of child abuse has been raised in the past by non-governmental organisations, but this is the first time an attempt has been made by the government to document the scale of the problem.

The study took two years to complete, and covered 13 states where 12,247 children (between five and 12) and 2,324 young adults (over the age of 12) were quizzed.

Dr Loveleen Kacker, the official in charge of child welfare in the ministry, compiled the report.

She said the study had revealed that contrary to the general belief that only girls were abused, boys were equally at risk, if not more.

She said a substantial number of the abusers were “persons in trust and care-givers” who included parents, relatives and school teachers.

Ms Chowdhury said the findings of the study were disturbing

Dr Kacker said a disturbing finding of the study had been that 70% had not reported the abuse to anyone.

Besides surveying physical and sexual abuse, the study also collected statistics on emotional abuse and neglect of girls.

The study called for efforts to make society aware of the rights of children and officials say the data will help them formulate better policies to protect children.

‘One too many’

The report has been welcomed by child rights activists who say such a study was sorely needed in India.

Roland Angerer, country director of Plan International, told BBC News it was “very important that the government has finally taken up the issue”.

“It doesn’t matter what statistics say. Whether the percentage of abused children is 75 or whether it is 58 is unimportant. Each child that is abused is one too many,” he said.

“It’s important that parents and adults must learn that children are not property, that they have rights too.”

In India, parents are often reluctant to admit child abuse and sexual abuse of children involving family members is almost always hushed up.

The study also collected data on how girls are neglected

Perhaps that is why – as the study shows – more than 50% of the young adults surveyed wanted the matter of abuse to remain within the family.

Only 17% of the abused young adults wanted harsh punishment for the abusers.

Officials and activists say the biggest challenge for the authorities and society is to ensure that children are encouraged to report abuse.

India is home to almost 19% of the world’s children. More than one-third of the country’s population – 440m people – is made up of children below 18 years of age.

According to one study, at least 40% of these children are in need of care and protection.

The country has millions of child workers.

Many are employed in hazardous industries and also in homes and small restaurants, which makes them vulnerable to violence and exploitation.

Last year the government banned children under 14 from being employed in homes and at restaurants to avoid their exploitation and abuse, but millions of children continue to work in these sectors.

India is a signatory to various international laws on the protection of children, but implementation of these laws is often lax.

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Posted in Morality, Neglected/sidelined News, New Age, News, News and Politics, Opinion, People, Politics, Propaganda, Protest, Psychology, Religion, Scandal, Sex, Skeptics, Social and Politics, Society, Spirituality, Sri Lanka, Successful People, Trends, Uncategorized, World Issues | 2 Comments »

Sai Baba Promised to Transform India. But Child Abuse Rampant

Posted by Barry Pittard on April 11, 2007

Children vulnerable to abuse during travel, weddings
Apr 10, 2007 – 3:49:12 PM

The survey is expected to develop a dependable and comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon of child abuse.

[RxPG] New Delhi, April 10 – Almost 50 percent of India’s children aged between 5 and 12 are prone to sexual abuse such as forcible kissing and being made to exhibit their private parts during travel, marriage and other family ceremonies, says the national study on child abuse.The figure reduces to half as soon as they cross into their teens, points out a study conducted by ministry of women and child development, UNICEF and two NGOs,Save the Child and Prayas.The survey among 15,000 children in 13 sample states has come up with disturbing data.While 41.17 percent of children in the 5-12 age group complained of being forcibly kissed, the figure came down to 25.73 percent for the 13-14 years category. Similarly, around 25.86 percent of teenagers reported being forced to exhibit their private parts, but the relevant figure for those below 12 was 35.86 percent.

Around 37.25 percent of the younger age group and 27.61 percent of teenagers were sexually abused during travel. As much as 41.33 percent in the 5-12 category and 25.29 in the 13-14 category reported abuse during marriages and other ceremonies in the family.

According to the study, 53.22 percent of the children surveyed faced one or more forms of sexual abuse while 21.9 percent of them faced severe forms of sexual abuse and 50.76 percent other forms of sexual abuse.

What is worse, the report said, ‘around 70 percent of abused children have never reported the matter to anyone’.

While Assam – topped the list of states where children faced sexual abuse, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi followed closely at 72.83 percent and 72.26 percent. Rajasthan reported the lowest complaints with only 29.36 percent.

The percentage of sexually abused young adults – is also high in Assam at 77.5 percent, followed by Delhi at 69.11 percent. Goa reported the least complaints – 23.01 percent.

‘Every second child reported facing emotional abuse,’ says the report. While 68.26 percent of children in Assam reported being emotionally abused through humiliation, the figure was 58.32 percent for Delhi and 55.67 percent for Madhya Pradesh.

The survey is expected to develop a dependable and comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon of child abuse.

‘It will also facilitate the formulation of appropriate policy and programmes meant to effectively curb and control the menace,’ Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Choudhury said.

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Posted in Medicine, Morality, Neglected/sidelined News, Nepal, New Age, News, News and Politics, Opinion, Pediatrics, People, Philanthropy, Philosophy, Politics, Propaganda, Prophecy, Protest, Psychiatry, Psychology, Psychotherapy, Rationalism, Religion, Scandal, Sex, Skeptics, Social and Politics, Society, Spirituality, Sri Lanka, Successful People, Theology, Theosophy, Trends, Uncategorized, World Issues, World Religions | 1 Comment »

James Redmond Shot Secret Footage Of Sai Baba

Posted by Barry Pittard on April 9, 2007

James Redmond (U.S.A.) is a professional film maker, and renowned throughout the Sai Baba devotee world as Sai Baba’s official videographer. His films have long been available for sale in countless Sai Baba centers around the world.

Sai Baba’s Official Videographer Shoots Frauds in Secret

For many years, James Redmond had unique rights to cover Sai Baba and his public events, and was sometimes permitted to film interviews. However, after satisfying himself first hand of the truth of accounts that Sai Baba has long been a serial sexual molester of boys and young men, James Redmond, informing a small number of former Sai Baba devotee activists – among whom were the late Glen Meloy of Palm Desert California and me – of what he was doing, continued to film Sai Baba. Now primed precisely to train his cameras on Sai Baba’s sleight-of-hand tricks when ostensibly materializing objects, Redmond obtained ever more damning footage.

After a few months, James Redmond sent out a letter to the large mailing list for his videos, mentioning convincing first-hand reports to him of Sai Baba’s sexual molestation of boys and young men and associated frauds as reasons for ceasing his attachment to Sai Baba.

Exposing Sai Baba. Like Mother Like Sons 

James Redmond’s professional filming colleagues Mike Ward and Jason Ward (Australians resident in Canada), who likewise had first-hand contact with alleging victims, also quitted. Judy Ward, Mother of the Ward brothers, was once prominent in Australian Sai Baba circles. She was an earlier voice raised, calling for the allegations to be properly investigated. As elsewhere thoughout the Sathya Sai Organization worldwide, there was and is, however, an absolute prohibition on all investigation of the allegations. This is yet another mark of its cult status, and yet it would represent itself to many governments, politicians and mainstream religious and civic institutions with whom it attempts to link, as a responsible organization. With extreme untruthfulness, core leaders tell rank-and-file members that the allegations come from a handful of disgruntled trouble-makers.

Those Australian young males Judy Ward believed to be Sai Baba victims with compelling testimonies given to her personally were (unlike other some other courageous Australians ready to share their abuse accounts with the The Age, ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), BBC and other major media) too afraid to go public with their accounts. Judy Ward wrote a report to the Australian Federal Police, the case number of which she supplied to me. Like other law enforcement agencies in various countries to which former devotees have given their testimony, the AFP said that the best they could do was inform the Indian police authorities but otherwise were powerless to act in cases of offenses committed in another country. 

Further Resource:

James Redmond’s videos made when he was a devotee contained material unwittingly caught on footage that has gone around the world. It is immensely damaging to Sai Baba’s credibility. See some examples, inescapable except for blinded devotees, from a Sai Baba discourse which, unlike those highly edited hard copy versions carefully edited with damage control in mind, have escaped into the wide outdoors, see my article (click on article title):  Huge Sai Baba Gaffes

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Posted in Morality, Neglected/sidelined News, New Age, News, News and Politics, Opinion, People, Politics, Propaganda, Protest, Psychology, Religion, Scandal, Sex, Skeptics, Social and Politics, Society, Spirituality, Successful People, Trends, Uncategorized, World Issues | Leave a Comment »

British Labour and Tory Whips Suppressed Motion On Sai Baba

Posted by Barry Pittard on April 9, 2007

British House of Commons: “Sai Baba and sexual abuse of children” Early Day Motion No. 886 November 2000

In November 2000, a petition signed by over fifty cross party Members of Parliament, was made by Hon. Tony Colman, (then) MP for Putney (Labour):

“That this House, mindful of the many accounts and witness statements of the sexual abuse of the male children of devotees by the Indian guru, Sai Baba, calls upon the Foreign Secretary to use the Travel Advice for India page of the Foreign Office Website to issue guidance to British families intending to visit the Ashram of Sai Baba about the possible danger to their male children of individual audiences with the guru.”

For information about how this Motion was suppressed (primary sources of which can be revealed to responsible media, academic investigators, etc), see my article: ‘Flag Follows Trade. Abetting Indian Government Corruption’ 

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Posted in Morality, Neglected/sidelined News, Nepal, New Age, News, News and Politics, Opinion, People, Philanthropy, Politics, Propaganda, Protest, Psychiatry, Psychology, Psychotherapy, Rationalism, Religion, Scandal, Sex, Skeptics, Social and Politics, Society, Spirituality, Sri Lanka, Successful People, Theology, Theosophy, Trends, Uncategorized, World Issues, World Religions | 3 Comments »

Sai Baba Head Michael Goldstein’s Extreme Statement on 9/11

Posted by Barry Pittard on April 9, 2007

During the making of the television documentary The Secret Swami, the BBC confirmed but did not use (amid 80+ hours of its investigative film footage, a significant amount shot in the USA) the document in which Sai Baba’s U.S. head – who is now world Chairman of the Sathya Sai Organization, Dr Michael Goldstein of Corvina, southern California – in an email to devotees, made the following statements about 9/11: 

“A number of reports have been received from (Sai Baba) devotees indicating that our Beloved Swami prevented many of his devotees from being injured or killed in the World Trade Center where they are employed or had meetings scheduled. His Miraculous Intervention on behalf of His devotees is clearly evident… They were either late or never arrived…” 

In a public meeting in Buenos Aires, attended by some 1500 Sai Baba devotees, October 20, 2001, Goldstein also said:

“There are many (Sai Baba) devotees that worked in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon… And none of them went to work that day, or they arrived late…all the New York and Washington devotees are safe…”

Too bad for the thousands of non-devotees of Sai Baba who were killed or maimed in those catastrophes, and all who were left behind to grieve – Hindus, Moslems, Buddhists, Jews, Christians, and those of other faiths and of none)!

Further Reading:

The English translation from Spanish of “Gatapado” journal article by a top Argentinean investigative journalist and Azul TV presenter Alejandro Agostinelli is at:  

http://www.saiguru.net/english/media/020201divine_sin.htm

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Sai Baba. IHEU Presentation to United Nations

Posted by Barry Pittard on April 9, 2007

International Humanist and Ethical Union Presentation to United Nations

Extract from statement by Mr Roy BROWN, Tuesday 6th April 2004,
Commission on Human Rights: 60th session. Chair: Mike Smith (15 March – 23 April 2004), Item 13. Rights of the Child. Abuse of Children in the name of Religion.
Source: http://www.iheu.org/node/1305

…”We are equally appalled that even though widely reported allegations of paedophilia against the highly successful and powerful Indian god man Satya Sai Baba have led UNESCO to withdraw in 2000 from a proposed joint event with the Institute for Satya Sai Education (see UNESCO Media advisory below), despite the matter being raised in the UK Parliament (early day motion by MP Tony Coleman), and despite the issuing by the US State Department of a Travel advisory in 2001 (see US State Department Travel Advisory below), the disturbing allegations have not received the appropriate attention of the Government of India which is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We are hopeful that international attention, scrutiny and pressure will lead to a full scale investigation into the activities of this so-called god man and ensure the protection of children who come into contact with him.”

 

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Posted in Morality, Neglected/sidelined News, Nepal, New Age, News, News and Politics, Opinion, People, Philosophy, Politics, Propaganda, Protest, Psychiatry, Psychology, Psychotherapy, Rationalism, Religion, Scandal, Sex, Skeptics, Social and Politics, Society, Spirituality, Sri Lanka, Successful People, Theology, Theosophy, Trends, Uncategorized, World Issues, World Religions | 1 Comment »

Vivekananda Has Come Again, Says Sai Baba. But Has He?

Posted by Barry Pittard on April 6, 2007

“Vivekananda has come again;  he is growing up in Ceylon (Sri Lanka).  He will come to Me and join in My task.”    Sathyam, Shivam, Sundaram, Part II, p. 130. 1960-61. Professor N. Kasturi, official biographer of Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

On Wednesday April 13,1998, I flew from South India to Sri Lanka. Among other matters, I  wished to locate the young man, Nalin Sedera. According to major Sai Baba-approved writers N.Kasturi and Howard Murphet, Sai Baba had told Sedera he was

swami-vivekananda-in-chicago-1893.jpgramakrishna-and-vivekananda.jpg

Swami Vivekananda in his last life.

I had encountered personally (and India is the place of all places to encounter them!) similar stories, sometimes in relation to Sai Baba but also cases where, muchto their surprise, individuals from various countries had found their names cited in one or more of the palm leaf traditions in India, supposedly written or dictated by ancient Indian rishis (seer, sages, spiritual masters) called Nadis.

In common with devotees from many countries, I had heard various reliable reports that Sai Baba had informed certain individuals of who they were in some past life. For example, disclosing their identity when (as he claims) he ‘came’ as God manifest in Rama, Krishna, and Shirdi Sai Baba (circa 1838-1918).

Many devotees relate that Sai Baba has said that Paramahansa Yogananda(1893-1952), another earlier Indian swami who went to the West and became famous worldwide, was now a child growing up in a Greek family of Sai Baba devotees. I wondered what would be the case if Nalin were to undergo one of these readings (nadis, naadis, granthas, granthams) scattered about India in which I had taken an interest – e.g., Brighu (in North India), Agasthya (Agasthiar),Suka,Sukha, Siva, etc., (South India).

What was this mention of a “task” in the Professor Kasturi quotation?  Sai Baba has many times stated that he will bring, before he dies (not that he uses the word ‘dies’) the entire world into an era of truth, right conduct, peace, love and non-violence, before leaving the planet, aged 95 or 96?  (The one year differential depends on which calendar one uses, Gregorian or Indian).

Many years ago, Sathya Sai Baba said that Ramakrishna, Vivekananda’s illustrious guru, had but one Vivekananda and one Brahmananda, whereas he, Sai Baba had hundreds of great yogic souls among his devotees through whom he will perform global transformations on a scale never witnessed in mankind’s history. Could it, I (then) thought, be possible to locate some of these great souls; and might they, sensing the seriousness of my nadi study, grant permission to submit a thumbprint or any other initial information required by nadi custodians by which to gradually reticulate to an individual’s given reading? If I located Nalin, would he in any way resemble Swami Vivekananda? Would any reading for him in any of the nadis confirm what Sai Baba had foretold?

As I waited in the queue awaiting to see Sai Baba at Kodai Kanal, a gorgeous hill station in the Nilgiris of the state of Tamil Nadu where Sai Baba has a villa, two gentlemen asked me about my work – at that time, editing a Sai Baba related magazine, Spiritual Impressions, and books by some devotees of Sathya Sai Baba.  I noticed a man intently listening in, and welcomed him into the conversation.  He soon said he was from Sri Lanka.  More than that, he and his family personally knew Nalin. After the darshan (viewing of a person deemed holy), he gave me contact details.

In that morning’s darshan of Sai Baba, I found myself against considerable odds in a second row.  Sai Baba came right up. I handed him a small card on which I had written the name: Nalin. He moved the card little by little several times gently along the palm of my hand towards Him. This was in a similar manner to which he had stroked my hand in the darshan of morning before. Then, as though to create an emphasis, Sai Baba snapped the card deftly towards his chest.  He then put the card among the letters in his left hand, and moved a few paces towards the centre of the pathway, turning to the rows of men sitting opposite. Unexpectedly, he turned right round and, looking towards me with what I took to be great love, made a deep bowing movement with his head. Keeping the steady heart-melting gaze all the while, he smiled very sweetly, then raised His hand in blessing me for quite some moments. From my then devotee perspective, not without various extraordinary experiences I had had, thinking him to have omniscience, I felt very strongly that he was bowing to, and blessing, the intention that had formed in my mind: to seek out Nalin.

On Sunday April 19th, 1998, I had planned for a quiet evening in my room at the Ramakrishna Mission in Columbo, the capital of Sri Lanka.  I had arranged with Nalin’s brother, Ajitha, to go to their home on the Monday.  He told me that Nalin had been spending a few days meditating in a temple at the southern tip of his country – at Karthirkamagiri, long a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists and Hindus alike. Until a month before, I had never heard of it. However, it was mentioned in a Chapter (Kandam) in one of my Agasthya nadis at Vaithishwarankoil in Tamil Nadu (where it stated that I was associated with this place in a former life as a doctor).

At 6.15 p.m., as I made my way up Ramakrishna Road for a quiet cup of Horlicks, a tall, slender, striking young Singhalese man around thirty years called across to me, “Are you the Australian gentleman staying at the Ramakrishna Mission?”  It was Nalin accompanied by his brother, Ajitha.  He explained that they thought they would find me more easily than I them.  A few minutes later, as we sat ourselves down at the table of the crowded vegetarian restaurant, I sat facing a tall, lithe, well built young man, clean shaven, dressed very neatly, wearing denim, his dark red shirt smart. He blended in with middle class Sri Lankans. His face had a fine-boned, sculptured look, and a bright, golden brown that had an inner lustre. His voice was rich and resonant, as though coming from a cavern. Was there anything about his physical appearance which resembled Vivekananda? Yes, I thought  –  the lips:  delicate, fine-etched, contoured. I  sensed strong character, and he he displayed spontaneous, sincere good manners.  He was direct, with a controlled but passionate intensity about things that mattered to him.  

“They are trying to take my life”

Even before we sat down, I had asked him whether the attention he had received had affected his life.  His distaste for those who mobbed him was immediate, unmistakable. “They are trying to take my life.”  It was an odd sentence. I asked Nalin, “When you say,’They are trying to take my life,’ do you mean that your life is actually in danger from anyone?” With burning intensity, and a mix of smile and leer that reminded me of Humphrey Bogart, he replied, “They would be writing their last will and testament if they tried!”Here, I did not sense a Vivekananda-like commitment to ahimsa (non-violence). Nalin’s occasional intensities became one of my abiding impressions of him.

As we sat down, he referred to crowds that gathered round him after word travelled bushfire-like that Sathya Sai Baba had said that Nalin, in his previous life, was Swami Vivekananda. He said:

 “My mind didn’t go. But I lost a lot  –  my liberty, my freedom.”

I checked with him, just to be sure I understood his exact meaning. By “my life”, he meant a broad leeway to be himself. I asked  Nalin if he related to books? Again, the intensity.

“I want to have experience. It is all that matters. Not read about anyone else’s. Books are a waste of time.”

I mentioned the book by the Australian writer Howard Murphet’s book. Nalin said that he felt very let down by the people who had informed the author of his story (he referred to them as Tamilians  –  i.e., belonging to or originating from the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu).

 “I had asked them to allow nothing to be published without my permission. They went ahead without consulting me”.

As he began to unfold his experiences, he said:

 “I’ve had a lot of troubles. I am a normal person, whatever people may think.  Whatever may have been the case in my last life, I am living in this  life!  I have no idea what happened in my last life.  When Swami made the revelation  –  or call it a pronouncement  –  I had no idea of who Swami Vivekananda was.  This is this life.  It’s all I’m interested in.  Now, as a result of all the attention, I’ve lost what is most precious to me  –  my liberty, my freedom.  At the ashram after Swami had spoken, there were hundreds of people milling all round me. And hundreds of people here in Sri Lanka.” 

What did the mobs ask? 

“They asked funny questions.  Do I remember my previous birth?  They regard me as some kind of alien.  Some of them say I should be wearing a robe like a sadhu (ed., spiritual renunciate).  Why should I do that?  I want to wear my denims.  Some have even said that, at a certain time, I’ll get up in darshan and take over Puttaparthi.”

Typically, after reflection, usually following a question of mine, he would return with a perfectly crystalised reply, like a pearl slipping out of the oyster shell when, after inner effort, it opens at last.  His voice struck flint; a small spark lit his eye. “I don’t like that!”  The tone was very emphatic.  Again the spurt of intensity.  I sensed a deep indignity, a smouldering anguish from which he had somewhat distanced himself. Embers still glowed hot.

He spoke of his anger at the time of Sai Baba’s ‘revelation’ or ‘pronouncement.’  The interview in which this was made occurred, he said, at Puttaparthi, March 23, 1987.  Two more interviews followed – on the 24th and 26th.  He was then nineteen years. He said that the Sri Lankan group of which Nalin was a member was led by Mrs Ganhewa. He was baffled to know how the news got out.  “Swami took me into a private room next to the interview room. I cannot see how others in the interview could have heard what Swami said.  I certainly didn’t say anything about it.”

I have since asked a number of others their opinion as to the audibility or otherwise of what is said, from the standpoint of someone in the outer room.  Some say the speech is too muffled to be understood.  Others say that sometimes one can hear what is being said. In an interview on July 24,1998, I noted this: a curtain separates the two rooms, as it has long done. I was in a group of seven Australians. However, a Canadian husband and wife briefly preceded us into the inner room. Later, Sai Baba also saw the three ladies in our group separately to the men. In both cases, a few drift words of speech could be understood; much could not be, because he and the Canadians and, separately, he and the Australian women spoke quite quietly.

Nalin told me that he returned to Puttaparthi in August 1987.  Sai Baba called him and his group for interview.  He said that Sai Baba asked the group leader, referring to Nalin’s parents, “Are his parents happy?”  Nalin relates that she replied yes, they were very happy when they heard the news, but

“Swami replied, ‘No, no, no, they are not happy but they are worried about that boy. Look at him, he’s just a boy.  Just leave him alone and don’t disturb him, because if anything happens, you must be responsible for that”‘. 

Nalin says 

“Swami turned to me and said, ‘A lot of people are angry with you and jealous of you, here and there.  Don’t go to any bhajan places. You just stay at your home, and do your work'” 

I asked Nalin what work did he do? 

“Not ordinary work. A friend of my age and I have been working among the poorer classes. At one time, we got involved in an eye camp.”

(These were organised clinics designed to bring medical aid to the poor. For example, combating eye diseases such as glaucoma).

Nalin continued,

“Swami then said, ‘You are angry with me.  Why are you angry with me?’  I said, ‘You know why I am angry with you.’  Baba said, ‘Yes, I know.'” 

Nalin relates that it was only on his return home that he discovered from his parents that they had been in fact worried at the extraordinary revelation about their son. Not wanting to trouble their family, they had kept their concern to themselves.

He said that, in two or three months, he would like to visit Sai Baba wherever he was stationed at the time. A lot would depend on how Nalin’s father managed with a shortly upcoming by-pass operation in Chennai. He wondered whether it would be possible to get Sri Lankan Sai devotees to leave him alone – perhaps via a note printed in Sanathana Sarathi, the official magazine of the Sathya Sai Central Trust. Considering the essential purpose of the publication (to publish Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s Discourses, a small few articles by contributors, Sathya Sai Organization news), I rather doubted his chances, but suggested he call on the Editor, Sri V.K. Narasimhan, whom I regarded as a good, decent man and a warm friend. With distinction and courage, V.K.N. had formerly edited major Indian newspapers – the Indian Express, Hindustan Times and Deccan Herald– and he and I had a warm friendship and were in fairly regular contact. From V.K.N. I soon after found that Nalin had, while I was absent, called on him, a visit I had already told V.K.N that Nalin may make. When we later spoke, V.K.N smiled wryly and admitted defeat in observing any similarities to Swami Vivekananda.

Since so many of Sathya Sai Baba’s predictions large and small have proved false, one may fail to see how the one about Nalin could come true. Trustfully, given the fickleness of the madding crowd, Nalin’s botherers will have long given up their bothering of him.

If Nalin ever takes over Puttaparthi, I shall personally ‘come again’. Reborn there as a service volunteer. And eat my hat!

Resources:Manisha Rathore
http://sify.com/astrology/fullstory.php?id=13624255

Robert Priddy, former Norwegian leader and a founder member of the Norwegian Sathya Sai Organization: ‘Requiem To A Kindly Spirit. Celebrated Indian journalist V.K. Narasimhan
http://home.no.net/anir/Sai/enigma/VKN2.htm

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Posted in Morality, Movie Stars, Neglected/sidelined News, Nepal, New Age, News, News and Politics, Opinion, People, Politics, Propaganda, Prophecy, Protest, Psychology, Rationalism, Religion, Scandal, Sex, Skeptics, Social and Politics, Society, Spirituality, Sri Lanka, Successful People, Theology, Theosophy, Trends, Uncategorized, World Issues, World Religions | 2 Comments »

Watershed year for India-U.S. relations, says Rocca

Posted by Barry Pittard on February 12, 2007

Report by Ela Dutt, House International Relations Subcommitte for Asia and the Pacific. Source: Indian American Center for Political Awareness. Updated on 05 February, 2007. http://tinyurl.com/yqgfmo

‘The year 2005 is a watershed year in the relations between India and the United States declared Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Christina Rocca at the State Department. But there are significant hurdles to overcome, she cautioned ….

‘While democracy had a tradition in the region, Rocca said, “…democratic institutions are seriously challenged in parts of the region.” The U.S. is helping develop democratic tools such as the rule of law, independent media, grass roots activism, good governance and transparency through which these nations can address the fundamental problems of extremism, security, and development. Their success will bolster stability throughout the region. Progress in South Asia will have global consequences.” ‘

Leaving aside the question of whether the present U.S. Administration is in the choicest position to be mentoring democracy to other countries, the Christina Rocca observation sits well with other reports that India is undergoing some major and, trustfully, beneficial changes. Earlier comments at https://barrypittard.wordpress.com referred to some encouraging signs of a popular Indian backlash against police and judicial corruption. It expressed the wish that this groundswell from the Indian populace will come to include speaking out against Sathya Sai Baba and those of his closest servitors who do the ill works (despite the presence of the good social works upfront). These moral and spiritual outrages the BBC-termed ‘Secret Swami’ and his managers keep from the world, as well as from the wider membership of the Sathya Sai Organization. The earlier reports were discussed at: http://tinyurl.com/2m2wa4

“For many, 2006 has been a watershed in Indian legal history”, states Sanjoy Majumder, Friday, 5 January 2007, BBC News, Delhi:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6224701.stm

and:

Tim Sullivan (Thur., Mar/09/2006) Associated Press reported, “What surprised India was its own reaction: Protesters took to the streets, holding candlelight vigils and waving signs calling for justice; newspapers have kept the story on the front page day after day; officials from the president to the capital’s police chief have called for a review of the investigation. In a country that had all but resigned itself to its barely functioning legal system, a backlash was born”.
Article cited at:
http://www.paklinks.com/gs/showthread.php?t=210256

For Online Viewing and/or Dowloading

Resources

The Secret Swami (BBC Television) Broadband 154 MB

Seduced (DR, Danish Broadcasting, Denmark’s national television and radio broadcaster):   (80 MB, Broadband)

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Posted in Neglected/sidelined News, News, News and Politics, Politics, Religion, Social and Politics, Uncategorized, World Issues | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »