Call For Media and Government Investigation

of Sathya Sai Baba And his worldwide cult, the Sathya Sai Organization

Posts Tagged ‘Al Rahm’

Relative Weightings of Allegation and Proof In Exposing Corrupt Institutions (Pt2)

Posted by Barry Pittard on July 2, 2010

This article continues from:

Relative Weightings of Allegation and Proof In Exposing Corrupt Institutions (Pt1)

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 29, 2010

Let us suppose that not all facts are uncovered. There are some distinct advantages of stating facts or clues such as they are understood at the time. One is dealing with a powerful institution bent on cover up. Excellent media investigations show how badly whistle-blowers and other dissenters who expose institutional corruption have been treated. The more one holds to telling the truth, the higher the price. But, then, truthfulness is deemed by many belief systems as priceless. It is therefore ironic to see the chasm of difference between preaching and practice.

One of the advantages of allegation (where it is not vexatious, defamatory and libelous) is that issues that are all too susceptible to dismissal and cover up can be brought out into the open. The unquestioning nature of human beings in general, so lamented for example by parents and teachers who make a stand for urbane attitudes of questioning, is badly exacerbated in the case of cultists. For example, the title of this blogsite is:  Call For Media and Government Investigation of Sathya Sai Baba. That is to say, that the contentions of those who allege are under public scrutiny just as are those of an institution under question.

Repeatedly, media investigators and scholars who have tried to investigate Sathya Sai Baba and his international Sathya Sai Baba Organization. They have found that it is a monolith, strongly impervious to questioning – even my independent researchers no matter the excellence of their qualifications and note. As Sir Karl Popper has well described in his classic ‘The Open Society and its Enemies’, the foes of the open society are those who use its very openness to achieve their closed and devious ends.

A decided advantage of speaking out, even though one may not be in command of all material evidence, is that individuals who are well-positioned to know – or to ascertain more evidence – are then able to do their own sleuthing. Sometimes, this situation entails attempts, by the institutions, to further cover up trails, such as using threats to silence witnesses, hushing up leaders and rank-and-file members within their own midst, destroying paper trails or simply by letting crises blow over and attending to damage control by other means. See: ‘Secret Swami’ Cult Recruits At Prime Public Venues and The Quiet Weeding Out Of Sathya Sai Baba’s Embarrassing Statements

The additional evidence provided by strong allegations repeatedly confirms the sad experiences of those who had not thus known of, or at least heeded, the allegations.  

Attackers of Sathya Sai Baba’s prominent critics do not face this fact. Without much stir from prominent critics, revelations concerning the turpitude of Sathya Sai Baba’s and certain of his leaders come to a head, sooner or later, in his centers round the world. Here, crises arise from revelations of abuses and anomalies which are uncovered in the centers themselves or in any corresponding center. Some centers have had professional, experienced psychological counselors, who have themselves led the exit from Sathya Sai Baba centers.

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The Public Petition   

Information on the Public Petition for Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization

About the Petition For Official Investigation Into Sathya Sai Baba Cult

(Note: You may prefer to proceed straight to the Petition): Public Petition For Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization   

Posted in Opinion, Rationalism, Religion, Society, South Asia, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Relative Weightings of Allegation and Proof In Exposing Corrupt Institutions (Pt1)

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 29, 2010

Obtaining proof of crimes can be hard and sometimes impossible. It is the nature of evasion to make it so. Sadly, innocence, too, can be hard or impossible to prove. I have long observed that authoritarian cults such as the Sathya Sai Organization make far too little of the role of allegation and large-scale public testimony and far too much of the demand for legal proof. Frequently, the superficial understanding of liberal and democratic notions, such as the freedom of religion or other beliefs, allow authoritarian cults in their self-interest to undermine these cherished notions.
 

Such cults threaten genuinely civil society. Societies that espouse democratic values from top to bottom often accord and vigorously uphold rights in some sectors while, in practice, denying these same rights to other citizens who are equally entitled to them. In countries worldwide, we can see individuals devastated and families and communities torn apart by the activity of cults. Typically, political parties see the issue as too prickly a nettle to grasp. They fear that they will be attacked for subverting the notion of freedom of religion, for example.

Many of these cults have great financial resources, and pump vast amounts into types of promotion that flourish the broad smile and outstretched welcoming arms, but conceal their heavy agendas. Well-heeled cults are prompt to hire high-paid lawyers, and often need but to threaten litigation. Cults, like any other sort of authoritarian regime, bully and harass so as to silence dissent.

I do not say, of course, that rights cannot thrive in a court of litigation. But for those without great funds, it can be a perilous avenue to take, irrespective of the merits of one’s cause. Nonetheless, the Rahm family (whose story was a mainstay of the BBC’s 2004 one-hour documentary on Sai Baba ‘The Secret Swami’) morally supported their young son, Alaya, in civil litigation in the Orange County Superior Court, California, USA. Alaya Rahm alleged that Sathya Sai Baba serially sexually abused him (as, similarly, have many males, or families speaking for minors, around the world). The case was heard by Judge John M. Watson of the Superior Court, County of Orange, California, on April 28th, 2006. See:  Alaya Rahm’s Lawsuit vs Sathya Sai Society of America. Joint Statement by the International JuST Group and the Rahm family (Date: July 16, 2006), and Alaya Rahm’s Testimony – Some Key Statements . California leaders of the Sathya Sai Society of America include the world chairman of Sathya Sai Baba’s organization, Dr Michael Goldstein.

In Part Two of our jointly written four-part article The Sathya Sai Organisation’s Deception and Propaganda Exposed, Robert Priddy and I wrote:

(Dr G.) Venkataraman, with back-up from the facile attorney Robert Baskin, now dares come out into the open, mistakenly asserting that the Alaya Rahm’s self-dismissal of his case against the Society is a triumphant vindication of the Sai forces …

In a statement by the Rahm family, their attorney and the International JuST Group 9, we read: “No court found Alaya’s allegations to be false. Simply, the suit could not continue on a technicality, and the claims of sexual abuse stand irrefutably true, just as before”. Dr. Venkataraman is himself making a false allegation! Attorney William Brelsford Esq., seeing formidable legal obstacles set by the defendants, and not least working against a statute of limitations deadline, advised Alaya Rahm to self-dismiss the case. Along with other difficulties encountered, his attorney has explained, June 29th, 2006, to Alaya Rahm and his family:

“We were successful at the demurrer stage in establishing that a duty would be owed by the Society in the event they sponsored and/or endorsed the trips that Alaya went on when he was abused by Sai Baba. As it turns out, the Society is not the “hub” of all of Sai Baba’s corporate activities. Rather, the Society, pursuant to declarations under penalty of perjury, confirmed they are a bookstore… nothing more. Accordingly, we do not have the necessary factual requirements to establish liability on the Society/Book center.”

(Note:  Eminent legal opinion that I have sought opines that Alaya Rahm, son of one of the formerly highest profile Sathya Sai Baba leaders, Al Rahm of Akansas, USA, had far from the best legal advice. Alaya Rahm’s lawyer, William L. Brelsford, represented him on a profit-seeking, no-win-no-pay basis. It became, all too late, glaringly evident that Brelsford’s research/discovery processes relating to the body he sought to pursue were badly lacking. What a shock it is for a litigant, once the case is in court, to find that there was no incorporated entity to litigate against. The lawyers for the Sathya Society of America represented that the only entity was a bookshop. How could that be sued? What clever foresighted provisions the lawyers of the Sathya Sai Organization had taken against future legal challenges! The blundering Brelsford then advised Alaya Rahm client to self-dismiss his case. 

Should any reputable, bona fide legal, academic or media or agency investigators wish to look at the case, I am happy to refer them to those legal experts consulted.

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Part 2 of Relative Weightings of Allegation and Proof In Exposing Corrupt Institutions is due to appear shortly

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The Public Petition   

Information on the Public Petition for Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization

About the Petition For Official Investigation Into Sathya Sai Baba Cult

(Note: You may prefer to proceed straight to the Petition): Public Petition For Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization   

Posted in Opinion, Rationalism, Religion, South Asia, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Al Rahm’s Explanatory Letter To Sathya Sai Baba Internet Proxy Gerald Moreno

Posted by Barry Pittard on January 14, 2010

Al Rahm was one of Sathya Sai Baba’s highest profile leaders. Part of his testimony, and that of his son, Alaya, can be seen in the BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’ and DR’s ‘Seduced’. See links HERE.

 Al Rahm’s Explanatory Letter

1. Introductory note by Barry Pittard

2. Copy of a letter by Alaya Rahm’s parents. Date: 12-06-04

The letter copied below was from: Al Rahm. Date: 2004-11-15 12:27 a.m. to: Joe Moreno (‘This day he is in Denial City, next day he will regret his Huge Stupidity’). The latter says that he, Moreno, is not a devotee but he has web and blog sites on the web that show beyond doubt that he is highly partial to SSB.

 Sometimes pointing to genuine mistakes (which are not sinister, as Moreno would frequently have it), he has typically leaped to most unfair, out-of-context, erroneous conclusions, virtually trying to set himself up as a sort of one-man ombudsman. With no sensitivity to how sexual abuse survivors (and other close parties, such as families) feel, he has, e.g., demanded that they send their affidavits to him.  

Mr Moreno has raised questions about the validity of much former devotee testimony, and Al Rahm’s response is surely a model of restraint in the face of one who shows great insensitivity to the feelings of many SSB survivors.  This adversary daily excels himself in assailing many individuals whose goodness only bigoted SSB activists would ever dare to slur. It is right, as Mr Moreno says – but no differently to many former devotees who also ask for it (but sensitively, patiently and lovingly) – that issues about factual evidence be clarified. But it will be clarified with police, abuse counsellors, and legal representatives – in preference to Mr Moreno. 

Cc.’d recipients of the letter below were former devotees:  1. Rick Raines. Before leaving the Sathya Sai Organization, he was a Regional president in an area comprising Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana  – the South Central Region of USA. He was a member of the national council, reporting to Dr Michael Goldstein. 2. Glen Meloy, 26 years a devotee, was a close personal assistant to Mrs Elsie Cowan,  member of the first Advisory Board of the Sathya Sai Baba Society for USA, and Co-Manager, Sathya Sai Book Center of America, Tustin, California. 3. Barry Pittard, 25 years a devotee, taught English for two years at the Sathya Sai College at Whitefield, 1978-1979. 

Al Rahm. Brief Background: 

In a sworn affidavit forwarded to the FBI, the State Department and other relevant agencies, dated Tuesday, October 31, 2000, Al Rahm writes:  “By the year 1999 I had been a devotee of Sai Baba for 26 years. I started and lived in a Sai Baba community in Northwest Arkansas.  I was one of 5 regional officers in region 10 of the Sai Baba Organization of the United States.  I had started the first Sai School in the United States at the personal direction of Sai Baba in interviews that took place in 1997.  The school was a 501c3 non-profit by the name of School of Human Values.  I was travelling to regional conferences all over the United States along with my family as a guest speaker and we also sang devotional music.  The crowds would often be as large as 500 or more people.” 

 Faithfully,  Barry Pittard.  December 6, 2004.  


Al Rahm’s Explanatory Letter Joe Moreno, and others, contacted me to clarify what appear to be inconsistencies in Alaya’s testimony. All of Alaya’s testimony and the testimony of his family is true. The inconsistencies are merely editing issues.  Perhaps the following will explain for you. Alaya was born into a family who taught him from birth to believe that Sai Baba was a fully conscious, physical manifestation of god, or otherwise known as an avatar.  Alaya’s first personal contact with Sai Baba was in a family interview with his parents when he was 8 months old.  Alaya was again in an interview with his family when he was in the second grade.  He did not have any private time with Sai Baba on either of those occasions.  When he was 16 years old he went to India with a friend along with Wilma Bronke’s group.  On that trip Sai Baba called him into a private interview and on that occasion Sai Baba began the sexual contact by rubbing oil on Alaya’s genitals and kissing on the mouth and attempting to cause an erection in Alaya. When Alaya returned from that trip with a robe and a ring that had been given to him by Sai Baba we asked many questions about every detail of his interview.  He told us that there were some things he could not tell because Sai Baba had told him never to tell anyone.  I suspected that this must be the oil treatment since I had received a similar treatment when I was 18 and was also told by Sai Baba never to tell anyone.  Also, the leader of the Litestorm group, who I was staying with at the time asked me if Baba had made me oil and rubbed it on me.  I said yes and he told me that it had happened to all the guys in the group.  He said, “Welcome to the club, Swami does that to help get rid of sexual desires in us.” That was in 1974 and it was 1979 before I had another interview with Sai Baba. I was married by then and had a child. I had no further experiences involving oil or touching by Sai Baba and so I accepted the oil experience as sort of a doctor patient relationship and thought no harm was done. After Alaya’s return from his first private interview in 1995 I privately asked if he had received the oil treatment from Sai Baba. Alaya was surprised that I knew.  He admitted it to me and we agreed to keep it to ourselves. I asked him if he felt that there was anything sexual in it and he said no, that it was like Baba was a doctor doing his job. He did not mention to me at that time that Sai Baba had kissed him deeply or tried to cause an erection.  What the reader must realize here is that a 16-year-old boy who has been born and raised into this belief thinks of this person, Sai Baba, as god, tells himself that it must be a great blessing and there could not be any way that it was sexual.  Baba was saying it was a good luck opportunity and that he was purifying him. However, in Alaya’s case it went further.  In 1997, in front of the first international young adult conference in puttaparthi, Alaya was singled out and called in for 14 interviews in a period of less than 2 months in front of 20,000 young adults from around the world.  7 of those interviews were with his family but Alaya was also called privately in each of those as well. He and his entire family were given rings, watches, earrings, photos with Sai Baba, robes, silk lungis etc. etc. etc. Alaya was the envy of every young adult there and his family was also in a very desired position.  Alaya came out of one interview with a hand full of cash given to him from Sai Baba.  There was over $1000 in rupees that Alaya was told to give to his mother to take care of the room, food, saris etc. and there was $3000 in crisp one hundred dollar bills for Alaya. Sai Baba kept calling Alaya his exemplary boy. He told Alaya that he had picked out his wife, a daughter of the Craxi family of Italy.  Baba impressed on Alaya how much money they had and that he, (Baba), would introduce Alaya to prime ministers and presidents from around the world.  Baba always impressed on Alaya how wealthy he was going to make him if he did what he wanted him to.  We did not know at that time what Sai Baba really meant.  We thought he meant if Alaya behaved with exemplary character and studied well etc. Sai Baba told us that all of this attention was being given to us because we were all great devotees of Shirdi Sai Baba and that Alaya was the greatest devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba.  Baba instructed us to start the first Sai School in the US but not to use his name in it because the US organization would give us too much hassle if we did.  He told me he wanted me to make a movie and that he would be in it.  He looked over the by laws and photos of our community and signed them with his approval.  He invited us to sing in the mandir, which we did. He invited us back to puttaparthi for Christmas. You can only imagine the high that we were all going through. You can only imagine how Alaya felt seeing his family in the peak of their life.  After all, from his viewpoint, this was their god.  This was what they lived for. This was what every devotee hoped for.  What we did not know at the time is that Alaya was paying a heavy price for all of this glory. A price, which he did not understand and could not tell us about because Sai Baba was threatening him not to tell, or Baba would never talk to his mother or family again.  How would you feel?  Baba even threatened to cause an accident and cut off Alaya’s penis if he told.  Remember, this is a boy who believed that Baba had this power. 

We returned for Christmas and received more interviews, more money, more stuff, more singing in the mandir. We returned the next summer; more interviews, more money, more stuff and so on.  By the summer of 1998, Alaya’s mother began to detect a troubled feeling in him.  She assessed that the pressure Sai Baba was putting on Alaya was too much for him.  For example, Alaya was not to have any friendships outside of his family. He was to be in school or at home. He was not to speak with or associate with girls in any way.  He was only 18 and was to live like this until he was 25 when Sai Baba would perform his marriage to the Craxi girl. Baba insisted on these things openly in our family interviews and told Alaya’s mother and I that we were to insist and keep him in line. We spoke to leaders of the US organization who had been devotees for 30 plus years about these concerns over Alaya’s apparent hesitation and subtle withdrawal.  They always assured us that we should not be concerned and that Baba knew what was best.  When we asked Alaya about it he said that he wasn’t sure he wanted the marriage. He said that he wasn’t sure that Sai Baba knew what was best for him. By Christmas of 1999 we began to suspect something was very wrong.  I even told Alaya that if he was ever asked by Baba or anyone else to do anything that he didn’t feel was right in his heart, that he should say no. I told him that his family was with him and that we didn’t care if we ever had another interview. Alaya had his last private interview on our final trip to see Sai Baba that Christmas. In that interview, we later found out, he told Sai Baba that he didn’t like his behavior and Alaya left the interview. 

After our return to the US we became even more concerned. Alaya did not look happy, he did not want Baba’s robe in his room, and he did not participate in young adult programs. Alaya said that he did not trust that Sai Baba knew what was best for him and that he didn’t care how much money the Craxis had, he wanted love in his marriage more than anything.  Marisa and I confronted Alaya in hopes of shaking him out of his resistance.  With great fear and hesitation Alaya finally told us what had really been happening behind that curtain in the private interview room.  I asked him why he had never told us before and he said that he was afraid that he would be responsible for bringing down the organization and that his parents might choose to stay with Sai Baba and that he would be alone without the family that he loved. He also explained that he was hoping it would stop and everything would be all right.  But it didn’t stop, it kept getting worse until all he could think to do was to stop going to India and never tell us about it for fear of losing us. 

The abuse was much worse than oil on the genitals. Baba would get very angry with Alaya because Alaya couldn’t get an erection for Baba.  Alaya explained that he did not like it and that he liked girls.  He told Baba that he loved him but he did not want sex with him.  Baba didn’t care, that was what he wanted and he used the excuse that he was purifying Alaya. On one occasion Baba took off his robe and lungi and, fully naked, attempted to pull down Alaya’s pants and climb onto his back in an effort to have anal sex.  Alaya pushed him off and said no.  Baba got angry and put his robe back on. Then said he would never talk to Alaya again.  Alaya pleaded with him not to be angry and to please continue to grant interviews and talk with his parents and sisters. 

After hearing the truth we contacted and met with Bill Harvey and Dr. Goldstein and told them the entire story.  We thought that they would at least get the information out to devotees so they would have the right to choose whether or not they accepted this behavior of Sai Baba. In time this information was shared with all of the leaders of the SSB organization of the United States as well as India. 

Now, many claims have been made that testimony is inconsistent. For example;

1.      Alaya first said that when Baba first used oil and kissed him it was not sexual.  Later Alaya said it was sexual.
       When he was 16 he convinced himself that it was not sexual and that is what he believed to be true. Later, after so many other experiences and a retrospective viewpoint, when Mick Brown, the Danish Broadcasting Co. and the BBC interviewed him, he could see that it was sexual.  The BBC film did not explain that.  Only so much could be included in the final edit to keep within the time limits of the film. We never got to see any rough edits nor were we consulted regarding the final edit.  As a matter of fact we didn’t even see a copy until after it aired in the UK.

2.      Alaya said he received $10,000 and I said several thousand dollars.
       To me several means 3 or more.  I don’t bother counting it all up.  Who cares?  So What? It may have been more than $10,000 in cash.

3.      Alaya talked openly with other American devotee boys who had similar experiences, or they didn’t talk because they were afraid that Baba, who was omnipresent, would know.
       Yes, he talked with American and Indian devotees, at Sai retreats in the US. One of these boys attended Baba’s school and was the son of a woman who worked in the balvikas program in the US. This boy was undergoing similar sexual pressure and threats from Sai Baba. His mother always received a lot of attention from Sai Baba including earrings, praise etc. This boy was afraid to tell her because Sai Baba would threaten never to talk to her again. That is the same technique that Sai Baba used on Alaya (a boy’s love for his mother). That boy never did tell his mother that we know of and eventually left Sai Baba’s school. Other boys who went to Baba’s school said that there are whole groups of boys who have sex with Sai Baba and that Baba has boys brought to his bedroom at night. Alaya and these boys tried to figure it out together since they could not tell anyone else, but they were afraid to talk about it too much because they were afraid also that Baba might know. They weren’t sure. They suspected that Sai Baba really didn’t know. Sai Baba often displayed anger toward the boys. They were young, they were confused, they were abused, and they were searching!  Don’t get caught up with details that don’t matter. 

The reason that other names, (like Sam Young) were used in Mick Brown’s article is because we were fresh into the awareness of the abuse and concerned about Alaya’s exposure and our family’s. We were unsure what it would mean to expose our family and our son to the world. There was even some concern for safety since reports of Dr. Batia fleeing for his life were circulating and Anil Kumar was in the states asking about our family. Yet, we felt it was important to share the truth.  We never contacted the media they contacted us.  We did however share the true story with anyone who asked.  By the time the BBC contacted us we had had several years to think about it and we decided to come fully forward.  It took a lot of courage on Alaya’s part and on ours.  We were never paid anything for any of our testimony.  We have nothing to gain from any of it.  We simply did it to share the truth with those who might have the courage to hear it. 

All of the testimony is true.  The editing often makes it difficult to follow the timing and remember this took place from the spring of 1995 to January of 1999. 

The most important fact is that sexual abuse has taken place not only with Alaya but also with many boys.  I personally have been contacted by boys from around the world since this happened.  Their stories are the same when it comes to the sexual abuse. It always starts with the oil and then it escalates. I suspect that it is still going on. 

Please don’t get caught up over insignificant details 

Sincerely and Truthfully, 

Alaya’s Parents

 

Further Reading

Another example of a former Sai Baba devotee writing with intelligence, compassion, courtesy and great patience in reply to the often brash and rude Gerald Moreno is the US social sciences and religious studies author and academic and a former leader in the US Sathya Sai Organization, Timothy Conway Ph.D. See:  The crucial John Hislop letters, Sathya Sai Baba, & Sathya’s defender Joe Moreno’

‘Evidence of an Internet Activist in Action:
Gerald ‘Joe’ Moreno’
. Brian Steel

Gerald Moreno’s wildest attack so far?

Why Has Sathya Sai Baba Not Faced The Indian Justice System?

Big Cult Trumps At Law. Is But A ‘Bookshop’

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Public Petition For Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization

There is a Spanish version available:

PETICIÓN PÚBLICA PARA ”INVESTIGACIONES OFICIALES DE SATHYA SAI BABA Y SU ORGANIZACIÓN A NIVEL MUNDIAL

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Posted in Opinion, Religion, Sex, South Asia, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

‘Spiritual’ Politicking Sathya Sai Baba Style. An India-UK Nexus

Posted by Barry Pittard on November 5, 2009

After our urgent, coordinated actions, the British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie were – indeed within minutes – prevented from visiting Sai Baba  at Whitefield near Bangalore. They were about ten minute’s drive away from his ashram when, heeding our representations, British High Commission officials were able to dissuade Blair and his wife from visiting Sathya Sai Baba.

Tony Blair and Sathya Sai Baba: The Meeting That Was Averted With Minutes To Spare

A photo call, with results expected to be flashed round the world, was thus averted. The Blair visit to Bangalore occurred at an historic watershed period for the Sathya Sai Baba movement.  He and his global sect was under tremendous scrutiny – very difficult for a group whose top officials act with considerable secrecy and suppression.

In the British House of Commons, questions about Sathya Sai Baba were raised  (November 2000).  This was maintained in early 2002:

‘Sai Baba and sexual abuse of children’ no. 886
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.
Source: UK Parliament, 26.02.02 House of Commons

Major, researched stories appeared in India Today (October 2000), Daily Telegraph (December 2000), and Times of London (August 2001).

Internal crises erupted within the Sathya Sai Organization. In Sathya Sai centers in various parts of the world, members discovered among their own local memberships terrible evidence from respected, longtime members that all was far from well. Some centers disbanded altogether. Increasing attention focused on many accounts of Sai Baba’s sexual abuses of boys and young men, implication in the ashram, local, state and central government cover up of killings in his bedroom, and other monumental spiritual betrayals. Many of its members left the Sathya Sai Organisation, including some of its most respected leaders. See:

Truth In Action: David and Faye Bailey Vs Sathya Sai Baba

‘BILD’ Story. “Guru Wants Sex” (Sathya Sai Baba)

Sathya Sai Baba Organization’s Betrayal of Love and Compassion (Terry Gallagher case – Gallagher investigated extensively, and resigned as leader of the Sathya Sai Organization, Australia)

Sathya Sai Baba Critic Serguei Badaev: An Incisive Voice of Conscience From Russia

David Bailey and Thomas Wiehe. Transcript Of Phone Link: Sathya Sai Abuses

Letter from Stephen Carthew (the case of Stephen Carthew, a South Australian leader, who likewise advocated democratic norms of discussion), and was axed by the now retired head of the Australian Sathya Sai Organization, Sri T.Ramananathan)

Alaya Rahm’s Lawsuit vs Sathya Sai Society of AmericaJoint Statement by the International JuST Group and the Rahm family (Al Rahm was one of the foremost of top leaders in the SS Org.) and:

Al Rahm’s explanatory letter and:

Alaya Rahm’s Lawsuit vs Sathya Sai Society of America

Story of My Disqualification (Serguei Badaev case. Badaev, Russia’s most outstanding SS Org. leader was insufferably shoved by Sathya Sai Baba’s top axemen. Why? He wanted open and properly convened canons of enquiry)

Searing true testimony about Sathya Sai Baba abuse (the case of Hans de Kraker, Australia, who was for a number of years in charge of the Western Canteen at Puttaparthi)

Dr Naresh Bhatia. Silenced Now In Indian Child Abuse Scourge

Some prominent ex-devotees of Sathya Sai Baba

Smear Campaign against critics of Sathya Sai Baba

‘Spiritual’ Politicking Sathya Sai Style

There was a concerted plan to bring Sathya Sai Baba to the attention of the world. From various sources we were able to piece together information about some of the survival strategies of Sathya Sai Baba and his core, high-level servitors. for example, we learnt that his top leaders in India and the UK, along with the Indian and British governments (most notably the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), planned as follows:

  • To ensure a meeting between Hon. Tony Blair MP and Sathya Sai Baba during the British Prime Minister’s Bangalore visit in the first week of January 2002
  • To ensure that a bevy of Indian and UK journalists asked him and his wife questions about his experiences of Sathya Sai Baba
  • To get the then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a publicly professed devotee of Sai Baba, to speak to Blair personally about Sai Baba, which he did at Chequers on November 12, 2001 when he visited the UK.
  • To obtain Vajpayee’s signature to a pre-written letter vociferously defending Sai Baba, co-signed by then Chief Justice of India, P.N. Bhagawati, former Chief Justice Ranganath Mishra, at that time Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of India, and Dr Najma Heptulla, former President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Council, former Speaker Lok Sabha, and Union Minister. See:

Open Letter to Prime Minister of India, Hon. A.B. Vajpayee. By Barry Pittard, Australia, former Lecturer, Sri Sathya Sai College of the Arts, Science and Commerce, Whitefield, via Banglalore, Karnataka

  • To publicise this letter, for example on the UK Sathya Sai Organisation’s website (it was later taken off)
  • To get Tony Blair, via direct personal pressure from former Indian Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee, to curb British parliamentary efforts critical of Sathya Sai Baba.

Further Resources

Dissent From Guru Cults Draws Slander and Harassment
Demonization of Dissenters
:
Evidence of an Internet Activist in Action
See On Disinformation and Internet Vandalism
Bias against Sai critics – article by author Kevin R.D. Shepherd

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General

Barry Pittard’s comments in regard to the Public Petition) -:

Petition For Official Investigation Into Sathya Sai Baba Cult

Posted by Barry Pittard on July 10, 2009

Public Petition For Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization

There is a Spanish version available:

PETICIÓN PÚBLICA PARA  ”>INVESTIGACIONES OFICIALES DE SATHYA SAI BABA Y SU ORGANIZACIÓN A NIVEL MUNDIAL)

Posted in Opinion, Religion, South Asia, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Most Former Sathya Sai Devotees Respond Without Hatred

Posted by Barry Pittard on September 26, 2009

Former followers of Sathya Sai Baba have noticed recurring features in the notes of Sai Baba defenders who write to us. The most common, by far, is reference to his purported miracles. This tendency is evident in writers whether more sophisticated or uneducated. This despite the advice of a great many spiritual teachers (including Sathya Sai Baba) of various traditions who say not to get hung up by phenomena such as miracles.

Another common trait revealed is extreme attachment for Sathya Sai Baba’s form, which he himself has often also referred to as an obstacle to spiritual development.

As pointed out in the article  Reply To Sathya Sai Baba Defender, most former devotees – leaving aside those few who have much-to-be regretted bad manners – do not respond nastily.

Two writings that would invite the description: grace and self-restraint whilst under fire are by Timothy Conway Ph.D. and Al Rahm (both former prominent leaders in the Sathya Sai Baba movement). See:

The crucial John Hislop letters, Sathya Sai Baba, & Sathya’s defender Joe Moreno

Al Rahm’s Explanatory Letter

When those who are now former devotee were engaged in their transitional discovery process – for example, speaking to individuals and famililies with shocking accounts of abuse by Sathya Sai Baba and/or some of his core servitors – they came up with the same questions that some devotees would now aim at them. And, at an earlier stage, when unquestioning devotees, they used the same defences of Sathya Sai Baba when questions were raised by others.

Here is a quite typical note from a defender of Sathya Sai Baba, and the reply from one who is no longer partial to him. The writer had written a number of emails to the recipient, who did not retaliate to any of the points. Some of the language of the other emails was couched more unkindly than anything in the following. The former devotee responded because of the basic decency and sincerity, nontheless, of the person who wrote:

“All your articles written on your websites ( Anti-Sai Baba) seem to be an old type of fairy tales similar to what we have been seeing as a kid in our kindergarten days. The difference in presentation lies in its depth, of hate and malice. The idea of molest is a great hoax to discredit Swami, that’s for sure. When you compare Baba’s materialization of vibuthi and other manifestation as a stage show similar to what magician can do, is very puzzling. Swami’s divine manifestation of vibuthis and other religious artifacts etc;  in various part of the world is a fact. How do you answer to that? There is no need for anyone to cheat on this. It’s a world wide phenomena going on for decades. It’s not a simple paranormal activity. What about prayers? How do you answer to those prayers which Swami has responded to his devotees? How could this be possible, if not for His divine grace? Do not make sweeping allegations. Swami teaches love, not hate. Do take care”

Response (by former longtime devotee of Sathya Sai Baba, who had considerable responsibilities in his service)

“I think that I understand your harsh judgements on us and the driving of very important questions. For many former devotees have had to raise, amid great anguish, the same issues that you raise. Many of them spent years of great devotion for Sathya Sai Baba and dedicated service in the various wings of his organization. How there can be such an incredible anomaly between the uplifting experiences which you have mentioned – which many former devotees have also experienced – and the stark opposites is a very great mystery.

However, what may appear as hatred in the eyes of one devoted is not hatred. It is speaking out the facts as we have best been able to determine them.No doubt,reading such claims can be very upsetting for devotees. That is most understandable. Some have viewed it as a challenge to their own sadhana of calmness and steadfastness.

One of Sathya Sai Baba’s key teachings – and that of many spiritual teachers down the millennia, as you will be aware from your 34 years of sadhana – is to learn to distinguish the form from the formless. When we human beings become defensive about the form, does it not mean that we are very attached to it?

I notice in your prior emails that you have made much of the miracles, and yet Sathya Sai Baba, in his spoken words, has placed a very small value on them. Do not we human beings also become very attached to such manifestations, which are rupa (embodiment), as well.

Do you not think that many former devotees pray? And have lovely spiritual experiences? If we were to be motivated by hatred, do you think that I would write to you (just as other former devotees write to devotees who have written to us) with patience and respectfulness?

Many sweeping allegations, including your own, have been made about large numbers of former devotees, including, I may repeat, some who were important and much-respected leaders in the Sathya Sai Organization, who continue to be loved and respected in their various walks of life”.

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BBC’s ‘Secret Swami’ Clip. Highly Respected Man Claims Sai Baba Abuse When Young

Posted by Barry Pittard on May 14, 2007

Mark Roche (California, USA) was deeply devoted to Sai Baba from 1969. Among Sai devotees, former devotees and in his wider community, he has long been regarded as a man of decency, compassion and integrity. Revealingly, it is frequently only after former devotees leave Sai Baba (often after decades of great service and devotion) that Sai Baba and Sai Baba protagonists ‘convert’ them – in their own minds – into “demons”, “cawing crows”, “Judases”, etc.

Until he severed the connection, Mark Roche had been a Sai devotee for twenty-five years. Just out of his teens, he first visited Sai Baba in a 1972 group that included Dr John Hislop, for many years the head of Sai Baba’s organization in the U.S.A., and the extremely wealthy husband and wife who hugely funded Sai Baba, Walter and Elsie Cowan. In that same year, Sai Baba allegedly miraculously resurrected Walter Cowan, after he had died of a heart attack. In the final cut of the BBC film, Mark Roche’s account of the events as having been an eye-witness was absent, and not seen by the millions of viewers in many countries. This was unfortunate, because key Sathya Sai Organization leaders and thousands of members have long promulgated a story of miraculous resurrection. Roche’s account supports medical and other evidence that no such resurrection occurred.

Mark Roche says that, in a private place, Sai Baba offered him what is termed ‘pada namaskar‘. This is considered the greatest of privileges granted by a guru – called e.g., ‘bowing unto the Lotus Feet’). Sai Baba is reported to say, “I’ll give you a great chance”. Mark Roche says that Sai Baba then pulled up his robe and asked Mark to put his penis in his mouth. The BBC interviewer Tanya Datta asked, “Why would God want to put his penis in your mouth?” To those who have carefully considered the issues involved in issues such as abuse, self-esteem, the hunger to believe, the betrayal of faith, and human naivete, Roche’s answer resonates: “Got me!” (His emphasis indicated the meaning:  I simply do not know).

This sad scenario recurs in many Sai Baba abuse accounts from around the world, held by both former and non-devotee investigators, that attest to his widespread, serial sexual molestation of young males for many decades.

the-secret-swami-bbc.jpg

Note:  The film clip of Tanya Datta’s interview of Mark Roche is HERE

From BBC transcript of The Secret Swami.
 

Mark Roche
The teachings themselves were very universal and
adopted the attitude of embracing all other religions so that it wasn’t a matter of this religion opposed to that, that you had to leave whatever you were in to be associated with Sai Baba, it was something that just be a better Christian or a better Jew or a better whatever it is rather than necessarily having to leave it mixed with the fact that the person who is the head of that is claiming to be God himself.

Tanya Datta
It’s the special moment when God calls. And Mark couldn’t believe his luck when he was summoned for a private interview. But he emerged shocked and confused. Just like the Rahms, Sai Baba had oiled his genitals. Two years later Mark was called for an audience again.

Mark Roche
He kept saying stuff like that I’m giving you a great chance, millions want to touch the feet, you know, I’m giving you whole body, this is great chance, this is great chance. Then he went over to a different part of the building and pulled up his dhoti, which is Indian garment kind of thing and exposed himself and sort of indicated that I was
supposed to put his penis in my mouth, which, feeling intimidated and confused and all that, I did. And although it didn’t seem right to me but it just seemed like what I was supposed to do.

Tanya Datta
Why would God want to put his penis in your mouth?

Mark Roche
Got me.

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the-secret-swami-with-then-pm-vajpayee.jpg

Further Resources

BBC News. Note: Scroll down this news story to click link for viewing or saving The Secret Swami transcript.

Laying on of hands, New Statesman, Andrew Billen. Review of The Secret Swami. The guru who thinks he’s God is exposed as far from divine. As others have done, Billen refers to magicians like Derren Brown (U.K.) who are easily able to show how Sai Baba performs his ‘miracles’, such as producing pendants, sacred ash (vibhuthi, vibuthi, vibuti, vibuuthi), and other objects.

Sai Baba’s miracles, an overview, Dr Dale Beyerstein, This book, by a rationalist and an academic from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada and rationalist, can be downloaded as a 100k zip file in .html format. Scroll down the Index to Section 3. for the material referring to Walter Cowan, which as an analysis, as is the case of the whole book, although dating from circa 1994, is still sharp and relevant.

The BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami – A Revision’ (2004-2007). By Barry Pittard

BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’ and British Press Praise

BBC Cameras Catch Sai Baba Cheating With Gold Sivalingam. (Film Clip)

BBC Hidden Camera in ‘Secret Swami’. Ethical?

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Robert Priddy

The Secret Swami summary by Robert Priddy – video clips

Posted by robertpriddy on May 27, 2010

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The Public Petition

Information on the Public Petition for Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization  

About the Petition For Official Investigation Into Sathya Sai Baba Cult 

(Note: You may prefer to proceed straight to the Petition): 

Public Petition For Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization      

There is a Spanish version available:      

PETICIÓN PÚBLICA PARA INVESTIGACIONES OFICIALES DE SATHYA SAI BABA Y SU ORGANIZACIÓN A NIVEL MUNDIAL)    

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Posted in New Age, Religion, Sex, Society, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’ – A Revision

Posted by Barry Pittard on April 4, 2007

Note: For enquiries, enter contact details in the Comment section. These will be treated with the same confidentiality and professionalism we have long observed in our dealing with e.g., UNESCO, governments, Interpol, media and religious and secular institutions, and other such serious inquirers. 

The BBC’s cameras at Sathya Sai Baba’s ashram at Puttaparthi in South India catch the pomp, circumstance, opulence and the highly stage-managed atmosphere of the crowded Mahasivaratri festival, February 2004. India’s most famous (and controversial) ‘Godman’ has promised a great miracle, the materialization from within his stomach via his mouth of a pure gold lingam (a Hindu cosmic symbol of creation) the size of a generous egg, in full public view. Viewers hoping to see this spectacle will not be disappointed – but they will see the sham in full close-up.

linghodhbhavam2004_0001.jpgSai Baba pretends to vomit up pure gold Siva Lingam. A few minutes later, he tells his vast audience, “Out of the stomach emanated Shiva Lingas of the weight  of three tonnes.  That’s the reason why some strain on  the face and the body”. See: BBC Cameras Catch Sai Baba Cheating With Gold Sivalingam. (Film Clip)

nullJust one of Sai Baba grandiose show pieces, the Super Speciality Hospital at Puttaparthi, South India

The Secret Swami reveals much, but viewers may wish also to investigate much of what, for constraints of time, it omits.

police-shootings-sai-babas-bedroom.jpgV.P.B. Nair, former Home Secretary in Sai Baba’s State of Andhra Pradesh at the time of the killings, is seen in the BBC television documentary on Sai Baba, The Secret Swami, (2004), where he says that the police killings were “cold-blooded murder”.  Nair seeks to reopen the case of the June 6, 1993 four police killings in Sai Baba’s bedroom. Many Indian police, politicians, journalists and other investigators know that the profound cover-up involved Sai Baba, his officials and Local, State and Central Indian governments. See my article:

V.P.B. Nair. B.Premanand. R.Priddy: Sai Baba Bedroom Killings

See below,the BBC’s The Secret Swami transcript excerpt containing V.P.B. Nair’s testimony.

The Secret Swami confines itself to four areas:

  • Accusations down many years of Sai Baba’s sexual molestation of young males.
  • His implication in police executions in his private quarters on June 6, 1993.
  • Cover-up by him and the leadership of his worldwide organization, and as well as by successive Indian governments, of major criminal allegations.
  • His faking of miracles.

BBC producer Eamon Hardy and his team’s view is that serious questions are raised about India’s political maturity.

Focus on One Family Obscures Vast Extent of Allegations

Ashram scenes cut to northern Arkansas in America’s Midwest. Former devotees, Al and Marisa Rahm and their 20-year-old son Alaya show the BBC interviewer Tanya Datta around sturdy commune buildings that the Rahms established in the 1980’s as a model Sai Baba commune, with school, resident teachers, study groups, congregational singing… Much of the documentary’s credibility will stand or fall on how viewers evaluate this family. Certainly, the device of interweaving a family’s story with wider events touches the emotions. Although I think viewers will have a strong sense of the Rahm family’s integrity, the technique has a downside. It obscures the fact that allegations against Sathya Sai Baba come from many individuals and grieving families around the world. In fact, the BBC, as has been the case with national governments and police forces, was granted access to many testimonies.

It is, by the way, indicative of the desperation and dishonesty of pro Sathya Sai Baba protagonists who edit the Wikipedia article on him attempt to keep the BBC references out of it. Brian Steel and Robert Priddy state their names, but these individuals hide behind pseudonyms.

Focusing on one family meant no examination of anything like the full extent of the allegations. It also meant no examination of the multiple billions (that’s a ‘b’ not an ‘m’) that pour into the Sathya Sai Central Trust coffers from all over the world, or of financial scams by his administration (e.g., the selling of apartments which are sometimes later taken away from the paid up owners), which devotees blindly accept, as “tests of faith”. It meant no examination of Tony Blair’s suppression by over fifty British parliamentarians to raise Sai Baba-related issues in the House of Commons.  This was at a time when Blair wanted to placate the then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee so as to win a contract for 66 jet fighters for India. The urgency to win the deal was bi-partisan. For further information, see my article, ‘Flag Follows Trade. Abetting Indian Government Corruption’:

Governments Placate India

Further, it meant no examination of the failure of governments – particularly of Britain, Canada, Australia and Germany – to match the US State Department’s naming of Sai Baba as the subject of a Travel Advisory – weakly citing that there are no court convictions of Sathya Sai Baba in India. If the State Department can name Sai Baba why cannot they? (As of May 25, 2004, the State Department D has dedicated an American Citizen’s Services Unit special line in Washington – 202 647-6179 – via which they will confirm that Sathya Sai Baba is the individual referred to in their Consular Information Sheet, November 23, 2001. There was no examination of former Indian Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee’s leaning on Tony Blair about Sai Baba when Blair vied for a highly lucrative sale to India of Hawke class fighter planes. The programme mentions the Vajpayee letter which states that allegations against Sai Baba are “wild, reckless and concocted” but not that it was published at the time of Vajpayee’s visit to Tony Blair.

Other documentaries will need to look at the supposedly miraculously materialized jewelry which independent international assayers like the Queen of Denmark’s crown jeweler attest are faked:

There are allegations of Sai Baba’s failed promises to cure people of cancers and other terrible diseases; the tragedy of sick people of many countries desperately visiting him in hope of a cure; the targeting of the weak and vulnerable for their money by an organisation that, while saying that it does not ask for money, uses indirect approaches to raise it.

Supposedly God, Sai Baba Woos Heads of State and other Big Players

Head of Sai Baba’s world organization, Dr Michael Goldstein, of Covina California, tells the BBC interviewer,

“We believe that Sri Sathya Sai Baba is Jesus Christ. Sri Sathya Sai Baba is Buddha. Sri Sathya Sai Baba is the founder of all of the world’s religions. Sri Sathya Sai Baba has always been God.”

Dr Goldstein here reveals the true beliefs and agenda which his worldwide organization has long studiously kept hidden from the wider public, especially when it tries to enlist religious, political, educational and business leaders in its social projects. (The organization succeeded in getting the British Queen to visit a Sai School at Harrow but the programme omits this telling detail!) However, the work of former devotee and other exposé activists will now be much easier, for they will be able to send DVDs and CDs to those governments, leaders and institutions which the Sathya Sai Organization reportedly tries to woo, including the Palace and the White House.

BBC Evicted From Puttaparthi For Asking About Allegations

This organization’s reputation has been badly damaged by quarter of a decade of intense campaigns of exposure by globally organized former devotees, and even longer by Rationalists and Humanists. BBC producers say that Sai Baba’s top leaders at first thought the documentary would present a ‘positive image’ of their guru and the works of his organization to the world. Hence the rare permission for the BBC to shoot at Sai Baba’s ashram. The Puttaparthi authorities extended guided tours to the BBC by Central Trust Secretary K. Chakravarthy and other leading officials, including Dr Goldstein, never before granted to a television corporation. However, a few days later, when the BBC asked for a comment on the worldwide allegations, the ashram authorities ordered them to leave, and Dr Goldstein sent a prompt global instruction to all Sai Baba centres that no-one must cooperate with the BBC. No doubt the exposure by Denmark’s national broadcaster in its 2003 documentary Seduced (renamed Seduced By Sai Baba in the English language version by Australia’s national multicultural broadcaster SBS), seen by millions in Denmark, Norway and Australia – when the top Sai leaders in Denmark and Australia made unavailing threats of legal action – must still have haunted their minds.

Sai Baba’s Power Isn’t Flower Power

Establishing footage from the 1960s shows the hunger in the West for Hindu Indian gurus by hippies and such cultural icons as the Beatles at that time. This true but superficial view is one of a few blemishes in The Secret Swami. There were many other kinds of spiritual seekers, and Sai Baba’s middle class devotees infinitely outnumber those of alternative lifestyle. The view may be correct for Marisa Rahm, once caught up in the 60’s alternative scene, but wrong for her husband Al Rahm. He considered himself a yogi, who engaged in serious spiritual practices such as meditation. There is a tradition of western aspirant yogis long before the 60’s.

Showing three zealous western devotees eccentrically rhapsodizing about Sai Baba fails to indicate his appeal to people of many cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. Filming eccentrics detracts from the serious purpose seen elsewhere in the documentary. It obscures the interest he has evoked in figures of great power (e.g., Bill and Hillary Clinton (more particularly Hillary), Al Gore, Mikhail and the late Raisa Gorbachev (a reliable friend of mine told me that Mrs Gorbachev told her that Gorbachev had a book of discourses by Sai Baba as his bedside reading). The sheer penetration of Sai Baba’s influence is of real concern. For Isaac Tigrett, multi-millionaire American backer of Sathya Sai Baba, the hippy origin is correct. All glassy-eyed, perhaps still a hippy at heart, a Peter Pan-like Tigrett tells Tanya Datta,

“India’s so unique, it’s so incredible. If there’s a spiritual train then India is the engine. All this mysticism, all the strangeness that surrounds Sai Baba and all that stuff, this is the perfect home for it.”

We glimpse one of Sathya Sai Baba’s water projects. The BBC got led to the showpiece village near Puttaparthi. But it would have needed to investigate harder, for the various water and other projects are the subject of many allegations of fraud on a grand scale, including incredible wastage of resources and inefficiency. This same water system supplies the ashram, which depends on big overseas donors. But there are claims that the overall project failed to deliver due to an unexpected fall in the water table, and that this was covered up by the Sai Baba’s Central Trust.  See article by Robert Priddy and Barry Pittard, ‘Sathya Sai Organization Untruths, Disinformation and Subterfuge’:

One learns that The U.S. minerals magnate James Sinclair got upset when Sathya Sai Baba officials announced sums of money that he had donated, so it is likely that his continuing donations are now not being disclosed. However, we know that he twice donated U.S. 600 million dollars. I shall have to see whether I can check the figure but I think Sinclair further donated $100 million for Sai Baba’s first water project, a sum announced by Indulal Shah (then head of the Sathya Sai Organization) at Sathya Sai Baba’s 70th birthday celebrations, when Shah listed every donor to the Water Project who had given at least one crore. U.S. devotee friends who knew Sinclair and his wife said that Sinclair was very shocked that his name would brought out. On Indulal Shah, see: Indulal Shah and Indian Government Cover Up and,‘God’s’ Ex-Shah, Indulal Shah

Foreign Goose Lays Multi-billion Dollar Eggs For Sai Baba

Showing his worthy causes might allow the BBC to appear balanced, but it ignores considerable allegations of fraud, and complaints by village elders that the Sathya Sai water project authorities have left a trail of broken promises. Sai Baba’s state of Andhra Pradesh has long been one of India’s poorest. The Secret Swami reports that Sai Baba “cuts through the red tape” to provide water to poor villages via a costly pipeline. But the documentary misses a perfect opportunity to suggest a major reason why successive Indian governments and opposition parties have covered for him. Yes, he (or rather his organization) accomplishes what they fail to provide, but with billions of overseas dollars! Would many Indian politicians, notorious for their extreme corruption, dare expose the foreign goose that lays the (cosmic!) golden egg? Driving this question would have reinforced the documentary’s fundamental query about whether India is a mature democracy.

We see the hospital by English architect Keith Critchlow for Sai Baba (a long-time conduit to Prince Charles). Largely funded by Isaac Tigrett and inaugurated in 1991, this hi-tech heart and kidney hospital even out-dazzles the many-splendoured architecture of the ashram. BBC cameras miss the names of other big donors, overseas and Indian, which are on a Roll of Honour in the hospital portico. Indeed, The Secret Swami fails to mention the billions that pour into the Sai coffers from various countries such as Australia, Canada, Hong Kong (indeed, the Chinese diaspora), Germany, Indonesia, Japan, UK, USA … Like the American James Sinclair (who often works from Canada), the precious metals speculator, alone has donated several hundreds of millions of dollars).

BBC’s Tanya Datta asks: ‘Is Sai Baba Above The Law?’

Lovely architecture. But the moral interior? Similar to others from around the world, Alaya Rahm speaks of Sai Baba genitally oiling him, kissing him heavily on the mouth, giving and receiving oral sex, trying to penetrate him anally, mixing lavish gifts of money and jewelry with dire threats – e.g., to cut his penis off, and forbid interviews to his family – to ensure his silence. That these patterns recur in so many other victim reports is crucial, but the BBC fails to highlight this fact.

Alaya says he was afraid to tell his parents of his sexual molestation in almost all of his many private interviews. At one point his father asked him whether he had received the oiling experience. Yes, the son replied, but how did his father know? He answers that he himself received this treatment when he first visited Sathya Sai Baba at 18 years old, who told him it was “a ritual healing process.” Why did not the BBC challenge leaders about the oiling experiences? The moment Eamon Hardy raised questions about allegations, that was it – the BBC was promptly told to leave the ashram. Other journalists have found the same cover-up. Some Sai Baba leaders at least do admit the ‘oiling’ allegations – but only under strictest professional guidelines are doctors (and Sai Baba is not one!) permitted to touch the genitals of minors or adults. Tanya Datta’s question to Dr Goldstein in another regard obtains here, too: Is Sai Baba above the law?

Oiling Penises Not A Hindu Ritual. (Nor Of Other World Faiths – And Non Faiths)

Could oral sex by a guru be a secret Tantric ritual? Khushwant Singh (strangely the BBC describes this most famous of Indian social commentators merely as a ‘Writer’) says,

“There’s no Indian tradition to support the fact that, you know, worship of the Lingam includes also doing the blow job, if that is what you are referring to. I don’t think there’s any basis for that whatsoever”.

A noted Hindu scholar’s response would have carried more weight here. Or even a BBC text or voiceover citing response by Hindu authorities. Any religious leaders would be most remiss if they shirk issues like this. Clarity about allegations of Sai Baba’s ejaculation into victims’ mouths would have questioned the absurdity voiced by many Sai Baba devotees (such as long-time devotee Ram Das Awle in his Internet writings) that Sai Baba touches young males sexually only to assist their mental health or raise the Kundalini energy.

Basava Premanand, the celebrated Rationalist and ‘guru buster,’ – see my appreciation of him at the time of his death: Basava Premanand. Vale. A fighter for truth who lived what others preach.  Posted by Barry Pittard on October 6, 2009 reports investigating Sathya Sai Baba since 1968, first “as a hobby” then going public in 1976. He is seen showing the trick behind Sai Baba’s so-called ‘miraculous’ production of the golden lingam (of which more below). Professor Narendra Nayak, his fellow Rationalist, demonstrates how, by sleight-of-hand, magicians perform the same ‘miracles’ as Sai Baba – e.g. materializing ash, rings, pendants, etc. To convince the most critical, the BBC needed demonstrations as sophisticated as those in the Danish documentary Seduced (a copy of which the BBC possessed) where the Danish magician Nils Krøjgaard exposes the deceptions involved. Narendra Nayak shows Tanya Datta, who realizes that it takes practice, how to secrete a vibhuti (sacred ash) pellet between the thumb and base of the forefinger. Nayak says that Sai Baba’s rotations of the hand when producing the ash is the method used by all ‘godmen’ who ‘materialize’ this ash, and obscures the act of crumbling the pellet. (Various people, such as the former leader of the Australian Sai Organization, Terry Gallagher, a scientist and businessman, have reported seeing Sai Baba inadvertently drop these pellets. See Terry Gallagher’s testimony and my article ‘Police Killings in Sai Baba’s Bedroom at Puttaparthi’).

On stage before February 2004’s Mahasivaratri crowd, the BBC cameras show Sai Baba looking increasingly sick. He produces the lingam, and the materialization trick demonstrated by Nayak is easy for the viewer to spot, the lingam being concealed in Sai Baba’s handkerchief. Tanya Datta comments:

“To the alarm of the crowd suddenly Sai Baba collapsed. His huge coterie of staff swung into action. There was panic. An organisation used to tight control seemed to have lost its grip. Sai Baba was hastily wheeled off stage.” Later, he is carried hobbling back, with officials claiming that he manifested two more lingams offstage. To the audience a shaken Sai Baba makes an inane claim “Out of the stomach emanated Shiva Lingas of the weight of three tonnes. That’s the reason why some strain on the face and the body.”

Top Indian Minister Shows Ugly Face of Indian Government Sai Baba Patronage

Confronted by Tanya Datta, Murali Manohar Joshi, one of the most powerful ministers in the since-defeated Vajpayee government, soon loses his temper, jabbing away with pointed finger at Ms Datta, accusing the BBC and people in England of plotting against Sai Baba, A.B. Vajpayee and P.N. Bhagawati (a key Central Trust member and former Chief Justice of India). He arrogantly shouts at her,

“No, no, no… You don’t know the meaning of interviewing a minister in my capacity, as a minister of my stature.”

Her vulnerability in the face of an arch bully is touching, and she shows some courage but tough interviewers would not have put up with his evasiveness. Surely, it would have been better had Ms Datta not tried to defend the BBC and herself but rather firmly stated the worldwide nature of the serious evidence that keeps on coming. At least, Joshi’s arrogant evasion of the BBC’s totally fair question about Indian Government accountability was unmasked for the world to see.

Sai Baba “Wanted My Son”

There is historic footage of the Rahms’ popular song and story telling appearances on the major US Sai circuit and of Sai Baba’s special attention to them. Marisa Rahm says, “it was just like the trip to Disneyland with God. I mean we were just really ecstatic with joy at getting this attention and this limelight.” However, concerned about their son’s troubled behaviour, Alaya’s parents confront him, and he reveals countless occasions of sexual abuse, saying that he was afraid that if he had told them he would be left “alone in the world.” Marisa weeps, saying “he (Sai Baba) didn’t care about me; he wanted my son.”

When the Rahms took their story to Dr Goldstein, in September 1999, they say that he was shocked and shaken, saying, “Faith has got to be restored and words will not be enough.” Goldstein promised to speak to Sai Baba and pledged the Rahms to secrecy until he did. He reported back that Sai Baba replied, “Swami is pure” and “If you want to fight with people in the gutter, you also have to go into the gutter. Don’t.” But are the Rahms gutter people?! Were they fighting? For years, they were dear favourites of Sai Baba and he showered presents on them. We see a box full of them, including fake jewelry, and Al Rahm calls it a “box of bribes.”

Dr Goldstein Tells BBC “I am what I am – a consummate professional”

So repeatedly evasive was Michael Goldstein that the BBC team gained permission from BBC heads and legals to film him with hidden cameras. The BBC cleverly gets him to admit the correctness of the Rahms’ report of his words. Unlike his archangelic namesake and just like Joshi, his finger repeatedly jabs at Tanya Datta as he snarls, blusters and fulminates. Seemingly in need of a child’s first dictionary, Dr Goldstein hurls the questions, “Transparency in what sense?” and “What do you mean by thorough investigation”? He says that his “heart and his conscience” know that the allegations of sexual molestation could not be true. But what about the heart and conscience of families and individuals around the world who give accounts of Sathya Sai Baba’s tragic harming of their boy children? Goldstein says that he would be able to tell at sight whether young men had been sexually molested or not. Doctor Goldstein is a medical doctor, and does not rate alongside sexual abuse experts who work full-time in the area. Sexual abuse experts are in touch with Sai Baba’s young accusers (and also abuse accounts going back many years) and are satisfied they are telling the truth. He shouts “I would know it in my heart because I am what I am – a consummate professional. Can you understand that?” This is the world head of Sai Baba’s supposedly divine organization that claims Sai Baba, as full embodiment of God, will save the world within his lifetime!

The Secret Swami shows footage, taken by Sai Baba’s official videographer, James Redmond, which shows that, directly after he had asked Sai Baba about the Rahm allegations, Goldstein is made Chief Guest and before a vast audience is praised by Sai Baba as a “great man,” “Goldstein has all good qualities in him,” etc. We see Goldstein being strongly moved by Sai Baba’s flattery. Al Rahm says, “Michael came up to James and said; ‘I want a copy of that video, it’s the peak of my life.’ And I remember thinking; he’s being played.”

The documentary could have raised the question: Why is it that the Rahms and many others, for so long highly regarded in the Sai Baba community, as soon as they try to tell their experiences, are reviled by both guru and many devotees as ‘demons,’ ‘Judases’, ‘slanderers’, ….? Typically, cults do this to those who question or dissent.

“He Could Go Out And Murder” Says Billionaire backer, Isaac Tigrett

Having failed with Goldstein, Al Rahm turns to Isaac Tigrett. Unlike other Sai leaders, the latter comes across as compassionate but his unusual and repeated laughter suggests his ultimate denial of feeling that needs to translate to humane action. Tanya Datta says,

“But even if it was proven to you that Sai Baba was a paedophile and a serial sex abuser, you’re saying it wouldn’t change the fact that he is your guru.”

Isaac Tigrett says,

“He could go out and murder someone tomorrow.”

Tanya Datta probes,

“Does that mean that some part of you believes there could be some truth to the rumours?” Tigrett replies,

“Oh, absolutely I believe there is truth to the rumours.”

But the practical effect – which is that he does nothing to advocate a hearing for Sai Baba’s accusers – is the same as if he did not believe in their truth! This immensely wealthy man, who walks with some of the most powerful leaders in the world, like Al Gore, blocks the chance of marginalized victims to effectively tell their stories. Clearly, his self-perceived spiritual development is all that matters. He may provide palatial buildings for Sai Baba but what about rebuilding broken people, and perhaps saving still others from coming to grief in the secret chamber of the ‘secret swami?

“Absolutely Cold-blooded Murder”

Former Home Secretary of Sai Baba’s state Andhra Pradesh, V.P.B. Nair, tells the BBC cameras that the police killings in Sai Baba’s private quarters in June 1993 were “absolutely cold-blooded murder,” and that CID investigations, which were suppressed, showed many lies and cover-ups. He is seeking to re-open the case. Here is what Nair had to tell the BBC:

Tanya Datta
Sex abuse is not the only controversy tainting the God man’s reputation. On a June night back in nineteen ninety-three, four devotees broke into Sai Baba’s quarters. They were armed with knives.
Their motives are unclear. All four were close to Sai Baba. Some say they wanted to warn him about corruption in the Ashram. Others claim their intention was to kidnap or even kill Sai Baba. As they approached they were stopped by four of Sai Baba’s attendants. In the struggle that followed two of his attendants were killed and the other two badly injured. Hearing the commotion Sai Baba escaped through a back stairway and raised the alarm. Heavily armed police
arrived on the scene.
VPB Nair

So these boys, they ran and locked themselves up in a room. And then in the whole, all around a lot of pandemonium and people gathered so the boys were shivering like rats in that small hole.
Tanya Datta
The four men barricaded themselves into Sai Baba’s bedroom. There was a stand-off with the police. Then the order was given to go in.
Tanya Datta
What happened next is hotly disputed. The official
version seemed clear.
VPB Nair
These four boys charged towards the police with the knives and started stabbing the inspector and other personnel. Because they were attacked they opened fire.
Tanya Datta
In self-defence?
VPB Nair
In self-defence. They opened fire and killed all the four boys. This the police story.
Tanya Datta
Velayudhan Nair rejects the police version of events. He should know. Until two thousand and two he was Home Secretary of Andhra Pradesh and in charge of the state police. On coming to office he examined the files and found that the original police report was riddled with lies and inconsistencies. This was later exposed by a CID investigation.
VPB Nair
Two or three daggers cannot be a match to roaring guns. So this story of the police being attacked and the police shooting in self-defence is totally baseless.
Tanya Datta
So are you suggesting that the police executed the boys
that night?
VPB Nair
In absolute, this is absolute cold-blooded murder.
Tanya Datta
Some police officers were arrested but never charged. The case was eventually dropped. Sai Baba has always had a close relationship with the police. Even today, senior officers are special guests at the Ashram. With friends in such high places Sai Baba seems to be untouchable. Any attempt to investigate the goings-on at his Ashram even, murder, appear doomed to failure.  Critics say police connections ensured that Sai Baba wasn’t even interviewed, despite being one of the witnesses to the events of that night.

We see the President of India Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam and Manmohan Singh (now India’s Prime Minister) visiting Sai Baba on his birthday. The ‘secret swami’ does not have to go to Indian Presidents, Prime Ministers and other power brokers on all sides of politics. They go to him!

Room For Many More Documentaries

In exposing a dangerous and influential cult, The Secret Swami is plucky and perceptive. Canada’s national broadcaster CBC was waylaid by hundreds of phone calls and emails by Sai Baba devotees, both before and after the screenings of the documentary in Canada. The program host said on air “We stand by the professionalism of our BBC colleagues”. History will expose the devotees but the BBC team needed an intellectually more penetrating analysis, and to raise sharper, more focused questions. The documentary brilliantly suggests that the leaders are into heavy cover-up and denial, but strangely didn’t say how widespread and long-standing the paedophile allegations are. The sham ‘miracles were’ somewhat exposed but there do exist more difficult-to-explain Sai Baba-related phenomena than this (e.g., the apparent appearance of many miracles in devotee homes and centres in many countries), which would require rigorous investigation, because the recipients cannot sensibly be accused of shamming. Of course, not everything packs into an hour-long documentary. Let us trust that the BBC will use its more than 80 hours of footage to expose some of many other issues.

Rating: three and a half out of five.

Further Resources

The Secret Swami (BBC Television):
(154 MB Broadband)

Right Hand. Sleight Hand. Watch Sai Baba Cheat With Sacred Ash (Film clip)

Sleight Of Hand. The Sleightness of Sathya Sai Baba (Exposing film clips)

BBC and Other Film Footage Shows India’s Top Guru Sathya Sai Baba Faking Miracles

BBC Footage Exposes Fake Sathya Sai Baba Miracle « Call For Media and Government Investigation

Sathya Sai Baba Chief, Dr Goldstein, Explodes. “I am the consummate professional” (See Film Clips)

Raising ever more serious questions about how spiritual is the head of what Sathya Sai Baba has called THE divine organization in the world,

Michael Goldstein explodes with anger (710kbs)

at the BBC’s perfectly reasonable questions about accountability

Dr. Goldstein again reveals his higher self (1.500Kb)

Michael Goldstein and the sexual allegations (2,10 Mbs)

Michael Goldstein admits his view is merely a belief (456kbs)

Sathya Sai Baba Cult Exposure By Major TV Channel In Australia « Call For Media and Government Investigation

Further Reading

THE SATHYA SAI ORGANISATION’S DECEPTION AND PROPAGANDA EXPOSED (Part One) – By Robert Priddy and Barry Pittard. And Part Two Three Four.

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