Call For Media and Government Investigation

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

Posts Tagged ‘Basava Premanand’

Memorably Defending Freedom of Speech: Rowan Atkinson (UK), Sanal Edamaruku (India)

Posted by Barry Pittard on January 18, 2013

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When we do not actively defend freedom our voice bleats.

In the preface to a series of articles, Robert Priddy and I wrote:

The foes of the ‘open society’ (Sir Karl Popper’s term) are those who use its very openness to achieve their closed and devious ends. Sai Baba and his highly authoritarian and cultist organisation have such ends, which critics have tried to make known. Its foremost leaders silence all those who question it – and never face substantive criticisms. For the first time – after six years of pained and guilty silence – since hundreds of long-term devotees left it in disgust – the Sathya Sai Organisation has found it necessary to try to defuse the debate about Sathya Sai Baba’s alleged crimes, deceits and fraudulence. Dr. Venkataraman’s tendentious cover-up article expresses untruths which have long circulated within the cult, giving an opportunity to confront him with facts and truth:  The Sathya Sai Organisation’s Deception and Propaganda Exposed

Foreigners who have lived in India (in my case, several years) begin to know what always appalls questioning Indians, too – the profound and ubiquitous irrationality, ignorance and superstition. And the frequent danger for those who speak out.

Those of us who have exposed the Sathya Sai Baba cult via such bodies as UNESCO, the BBC documentary ‘The Secret Swami’ and many leading media and institutions around the world came to know at first hand of the great courage of Indians like Sanal Edamaruku and Basava Premanand (see my article:  Basava Premanand. Vale. A fighter for truth who lived what others preach. Posted by Barry Pittard on October 6, 2009. 

Sanal Sanal Edamaruku faces years of gaol for simply exposing the material cause for the so-called ‘weeping statue’ of Mary in the Church of Our Lady of Velan Kanni, Mumbai.  My close colleague Robert Priddy and I have been glad to sign the Petition supporting Edamaruku. We urge our friends and well-wishers to sign this Petition.

See: Sanal Edamaruku – discriminatory scandal from India’s revanchist laws. Posted by robertpriddy on January 17, 2013. The Petition, inter alia, reads:

Please join the Rationalist Association (UK) in condemning the misuse of Indian law by several Catholic organisations to silence a campaigner against superstition. In March 2012, following his exposure of a supposed miracle at a Catholic Church in Mumbai as nothing more than the result of a leak, a complaint was lodged against Sanal Edamaruku by local Catholic organisations with the Mumbai police, who are now able to arrest him. He has been denied ‘anticipatory’ bail which means if arrested he faces a long term in prison merely for explaining the science behind an apparent mystery.

The great British comedian Rowan Atkinson has memorably defended freedom of speech at a Westminster Parliamentary reception

The great British comedian Rowan Atkinson has memorably defended freedom of speech at a Westminster Parliamentary reception

It is not, however, as though almost unimaginably absurd but very real threats to democratic freedom break out in a shambling, quasi democracy like India. In the UK, the great comedian Rowan Atkinson (e.g., ‘Mr Bean’ and many other immortal classics of comedy) has been the public face of a major campaign in Britain to combat laws which violate genuine freedom of speech. Atkinson speaks of a “creeping culture of censoriousness”. You can hear his eloquent speech:  Rowan Atkinson’s speech at Reform Section 5 Parliamentary reception.  (See transcript below). The extremely badly-defined British legislation section, now, as the result of strong, popular campaigning, to be repealed, is Public Order Act 5,  Harassment, alarm or distress:

(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he —

(a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or

(b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting …

Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

The Guardian

Jesus wept … oh, it’s bad plumbing. Indian rationalist targets ‘miracles’

Sanal Edamaruku faces jail for revealing ‘tears’ trickling down a Mumbai church statue came from clogged drainage pipes

CHRISTIANS PREPARE FOR POPE'S VISIT

A statue of Christ in Mumbai. Local people declared a miracle when ‘tears’ trickled down the statue at the Church of Our Lady of Velan Kanni. Photograph: Sherwin Crasto/Associated Press

When water started trickling down a statue of Jesus Christ at a Catholic church in Mumbai earlier this year, locals were quick to declare a miracle. Some began collecting the holy water and the Church of Our Lady of Velankanni began to promote it as a site of pilgrimage.

So when Sanal Edamaruku arrived and established that this was not holy water so much as holey plumbing, the backlash was severe. The renowned rationalist was accused of blasphemy, charged with offences that carry a three-year prison sentence and eventually, after receiving death threats, had to seek exile in Finland.

Now he is calling for European governments to press Delhi into dropping the case. And on the first leg of a tour around EU capitals on Friday, he warned that India was sacrificing freedom of expression for outdated, colonial-era rules about blasphemy.

“There is a huge contradiction in the content of the Indian constitution which guarantees freedom of speech and the blasphemy law from 1860 under then colonial rule,” Edamaruku told the Guardian in an interview in Dublin.

“This blasphemy law can affect anyone in India – even a girl recently who wrote on Facebook against closing down a city because of the death of a famous local politician. She was prosecuted under the blasphemy law and another girl who ‘liked’ her comment on Facebook was also arrested and then charged with blasphemy.”

Edamaruku, who has the support of rationalists and atheists such as Richard Dawkins, is well known in India for debunking religious myths, and was already unpopular among Indian Catholics for publicly criticising Mother Teresa’s legacy in Kolkata.

When the state “miracle” was pronounced, he went to Mumbai and found that the dripping water was due to clogged drainage pipes behind the wall where it stood. His revelation provoked death threats from religious zealots and ultimately charges of blasphemy under the Indian penal code in the Mumbai high court.

“India cannot criticise Pakistan for arresting young girls for blaspheming against Islam while it arrests and locks up its own citizens for breaking our country’s blasphemy laws,” he said. “It is an absurd law but also extremely dangerous because it gives fanatics, whether they are Hindus, Catholics or Muslims, a licence to be offended. It also allows people who are in dispute with you to make up false accusations of blasphemy.”

Edamaruku said his exposure of the weeping statue was also a contribution to public health in Mumbai as some believers were drinking the water hoping it could cure ailments. “This was sewage water seeping through a wall due to faulty plumbing,” he said. “It posed a health risk to people who were fooled into believing it was a miracle.”

He has been living in Finland since the summer. He was in Europe on a lecture tour in July when his partner rang to say the police had arrived at his flat. “I felt really upset because under the blasphemy law you cannot get bail until the court case begins. I would be in jail now if I had been at my apartment in Delhi,” he said.

He has spurned an offer from a senior Indian Catholic bishop to apologise for the exposure of the “miracle”.

“The Catholic archbishop of Bombay, Oswald, Cardinal Gracias, has said that if I apologise for the ‘offence’ I have caused he will see to it that the charges are dropped. This shows that he has influence in the situation but he will not use it unless I apologise, which I will not do as I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

“In a way I am lucky because I have friends and supporters in Europe. I am well known in India and have the telephone numbers of at least five Indian cabinet ministers. And I have some means of fighting back. But what would happen to the common man or woman if they were accused of blasphemy? They would be sent straight to jail without any chance of bail,” he said.

Edamaruku asked for “mounting international pressure”, particularly from Ireland and other EU nations, on the Indian government. Delhi had the power to halt the prosecution before a court case, citing a lack of evidence to pursue it, he said.

Mick Nugent, from Atheist Ireland, the organisation hosting the Indian’s visit to the republic and Northern Ireland next week, said Edamaruku’s plight also underlined the need for Dublin’s Fine Gael-Labour government to repeal Ireland’s blasphemy law.

“Blasphemy laws are very strange because they can be both very silly and also very sinister. They are very silly because you are talking about crying statues and moving statues or Virgin Marys appearing in tree stumps in Co Limerick. But on the other hand these type of laws are used in Islamic countries to jail people or sentence them to death. Or in Sanal’s case facing a jail sentence for his work exposing bogus miracles.

“The Irish government should pay attention to Sanal’s case and realise they must get rid of this absurd and dangerous law. Because we shouldn’t be so smug in Ireland. After all, we have had the hysteria about moving statues and a man bringing people to a shrine in Co Mayo so they can look at the sun and see the Virgin Mary.”

Sanal Edamaruku, Indian Rationalist, Proves ‘Weeping Christ’ Miracle A Hoax, Now Faces Years In Jail (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 11/28/2012 1:08 pm EST

What started with a mysterious trickle, ended in death threats, charges of blasphemy and pleas for asylum from Sanal Edamaruku. The noted Indian rationalist argued that a “miraculous” dripping crucifix in Mumbai was caused by faulty plumbing and not divine intervention.

The controversy started in March when water began to drip from the feet of a statue of Jesus at the Church of Our Lady of Velankanni in western Mumbai. Thousands flocked to the site to collect the “holy” water, with some even drinking it in the hopes of curing various ailments, the Daily News reports.

Edamaruku, who is the founder and president of Rationalist International and president of the Indian Rationalist Association, arrived at the site to investigate.

In a July interview with Slate, Edamaruku explained what he found at Our Lady of Velankanni.

I had a close look at a nearby washroom and the connected drainage system that passed underneath the concrete base of the cross. I removed some stones from the drain and found it was blocked. I touched the walls, the base, and the cross and took some photographs for documentation. It was very simple: Water from the washroom, which had been blocked in the clogged drainage system, had been transmitted via capillary action into the adjacent walls and the base of the cross as well as into the wooden cross itself. The water came out through a nail hole and ran down over the statue’s feet.

Edamauku also explained the supposed miracle on live television. The program, shown on Mumbai’s TV-9, channel, was posted to YouTube in March and included a very heated debate between Edamauku, the priest of Our Lady of Velankanni church and representatives of the Association of Concerned Catholics.

The backlash against Edamaruku’s conclusions was swift and strong.

According to Slate, the 56-year-old rationalist has been accused of insulting religion (a charge akin to blasphemy) under Section 295A of the Indian penal code, which charges a person with “deliberately hurting religious feelings and attempting malicious acts intended to outrage the religious sentiments of any class or community.”

Death threats followed, and Edamaruku was forced to seek exile in Finland, according to The Guardian. Now, Edamaruku is rallying support in Europe to convince the Delhi prosecutor to drop the case.

“There is a huge contradiction in the content of the Indian constitution which guarantees freedom of speech and the blasphemy law from 1860 under then colonial rule,” Edamaruku told the Guardian in an interview in Dublin. “It is an absurd law but also extremely dangerous because it gives fanatics, whether they are Hindus, Catholics or Muslims, a [license] to be offended. It also allows people who are in dispute with you to make up false accusations of blasphemy.”

Renowned British atheist Richard Dawkins was quick to come to Edamaruku’s defense. The Richard Dawkins Foundation even has a link to a defense fund for Edamaruku on its website.

Edamaruku has said he’s not frightened of a possible trial.

“If it comes to a trial, I have nothing to fear,” he told Slate in July. “I would welcome the opportunity to throw some light on the role that the Catholic Church played and is still playing today here in India. The possibility of arrest is threatening, however.”

In the past, the Edamaruku has gained attention for publicly criticizing Mother Teresa’s legacy in Kolkata, particularly the quality of care in her Homes for the Dying. He has also targeted powerful spiritual leaders such as the late Sathya Sai Baba, as well as many top mystics and gurus, according to the Daily News.

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Rowan Atkinson’s speech at Reform Section 5 Parliamentary reception (Video)

Rowan Atkinson continues his freedom of speech campaign to repeal parts of Section 5 of the 1986 Public Order Act in the UK. 

Speech Transcript:

“My starting point when it comes to the consideration of any issue relating to free speech is my very passionate belief that the second most precious thing in life is the right to express yourself freely. The most precious thing in life I think is food in your mouth and the third most precious is a roof over your head but a fixture in the Number 2 slot for me is free expression, just below the need to sustain life itself. That is because I have enjoyed free expression all my professional life and expect to continue to do so, I personally highly unlikely to be arrested whatever laws exist to contain free expression, because of the undoubtedly privileged position that is afforded to those of a high public profile. So my concerns are less for myself and more for those more vulnerable because of their lower profile. Like the man arrested in Oxford for calling a police horse gay. Or the teenager arrested for calling the Church of Scientology a cult. Or the café owner arrested for displaying passages from the bible on a TV screen.

“When I heard of some of these more ludicrous offences, I remembered that I had been here before in a fictional context. I once did a show called Not the Nine O’Clock News, and we did a sketch where Griff Rhys-Jones played Constable Savage, a manifestly racist police officer to whom I, as his station commander, is giving a dressing down for arresting a black man on a whole string of ridiculous, trumped up and ludicrous charges. The charges for which Constable Savage arrested Mr. Winston Kodogo of 55 Mercer Road were these:
 
‘Walking on the cracks in the pavement’
 
‘Walking in a loud shirt in a built up area during the hours of darkness’ and one of my favourites ‘Walking around all over the place’
 
He was also arrested for ‘Urinating in a public convenience’ and ‘Looking at me in a funny way’.
 
“Who would have thought that we would end up with a law that would allow life to imitate art so exactly. I read somewhere, a defender of the status quo claiming that the fact that the gay horse case was dropped after the arrested man refused to pay the fine and that the Scientology case was also dropped at some point during the court process was indicative of a law working well, ignoring the fact that the only reason those cases were dropped was because of the publicity that they had attracted. The Police sensed that ridicule was just around the corner and withdrew the actions. But what about the thousands of other cases that did not enjoy the oxygen of publicity? That weren’t quite ludicrous enough to attract media attention?  Even for those actions that were withdrawn, people were arrested, questioned, taken to court and then released. That isn’t a law working properly: that is censoriousness of the most intimidating kind, guaranteed to have a ‘chilling effect’ on free expression and free protest.
 
“Parliament’s Joint committee on Human Rights summarized this whole issue well by saying ‘While arresting a protestor for using ‘threatening or abusive’ speech may, depending on the circumstances, be a proportionate response, we do not think that language or behaviour that is merely ‘insulting’ should ever be criminalized in this way’. The clear problem with the outlawing of insult is that too many things can be interpreted as such. Criticism is easily construed as insult. Ridicule is easily construed as insult. Sarcasm, unfavourable comparison, merely stating an alternative point of view can be interpreted as insult. And because so many things can be interpreted as insult, it is hardly surprising that so many things have been, as the examples I talked about earlier show.
 
“Although the law under discussion has been on the statute book for over 25 years, it is indicative of a culture that has taken hold of the legislative programmes of successive governments that, with the reasonable and well-intended ambition to contain obnoxious elements in society, has created a society of an extraordinarily authoritarian and controlling nature. It is what you might call The New Intolerance, a new but intense desire to gag uncomfortable voices of dissent. ‘I am not intolerant’, say many people; say many softly spoken, highly-educated, liberal-minded people: ‘I am only intolerant of intolerance’. And people tend to nod sagely and say ‘Oh, Wise words, wise words’ and yet if you think about this supposedly inarguable statement for longer than five seconds, you realize that all it is advocating is the replacement of one kind of intolerance with another. Which to me doesn’t represent any kind of progress at all. Underlying prejudices, injustices or resentments are not addressed by arresting people: they are addressed by the issues being aired, argued and dealt with preferably outside the legislative process. For me, the best way to increase society’s resistance to insulting or offensive speech is to allow a lot more of it. As with childhood diseases, you can better resist those germs to which you have been exposed.
 
“We need to build our immunity to taking offence, so that we can deal with the issues that perfectly justified criticism can raise. Our priority should be to deal with the message, not the messenger. As President Obama said in an address to the United Nations a month or so ago: ‘…laudable efforts to restrict speech can become a tool to silence critics, or oppress minorities. The strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech’ and that is the essence of my thesis; more speech. If we want a robust society, we need more robust dialogue and that must include the right to insult or to offend. Because, as someone once said, the freedom to be inoffensive is no freedom at all.
 
“The repeal of this clause will be only a small step, but it will I hope be a critical one in what should be a longer term project to pause and slowly rewind a creeping culture of censoriousness. It is a small skirmish in the battle to deal with what Sir Salman Rushdie refers to as the Outrage Industry: self-appointed arbiters of the public good, encouraging media-stoked outrage, to which the police feel under terrible pressure to react. A newspaper rings up Scotland Yard: someone has said something slightly insulting on Twitter about someone who we think a national treasure: what are you going to do about it? And the police panic and they scrabble around and then grasp the inappropriate lifeline of Section 5 of the Public Order Act: that thing where they can arrest anybody for saying anything that might be construed by anybody else as insulting. They don’t need a complainant, or a real victim: they need only to make the judgment that somebody could have been offended if they had heard or read what has been said. The most ludicrous degree of latitude. The storms that surround Twitter and Facebook comment have raised some fascinating issues about free speech. So far, we have learnt two important lessons. Firstly, that we all have to take responsibility for what we say, which is not a bad lesson to learn. And secondly, we’ve learnt how appallingly prickly and intolerant society has become of even the mildest adverse comment.
 
“The law should not be aiding and abetting this new intolerance. Free speech can only suffer if the law prevents us from dealing with its consequences. I offer you my wholehearted support to the Reform Section 5 campaign. Thank you.’
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Indian Media and Governments Heedless of Decade of Foreign Media and Sai Baba Critics’ Revelations

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 27, 2011

Each day, major sections of the Indian media feature glaring revelations about Sathya Sai Baba’s and key Sathya Sai Central Trust officials. The Andhra Pradesh government is now stepping in – for example, closing down 16 charitable exemptions long accorded to the Sathya Sai Central Trust. It details to the case police investigators with teeth, and arrests have already been made.

There are grave suspicions surrounding the manner of Sai Baba’s death. For example, questions have been raised about why the Indian and international doctors attending Sai Baba since his hospitalization were refused salient details about medical treatment prior to this time. News reports in recent days – such as the surprise emergence of billionaire Sai Baba backer Isaac Tigrett and his secret yet to be revealed – have heavily eclipsed these matters.  See: Human Rights Commission Probe Fronts Andhra Government On Sathya Sai Baba Treatment

Several of Sathya Sai Baba’s longtime most prominent workers have resigned, including Dr A.N. Safaya, head of the Superspecialty Hospital at Puttaparthi, along with other doctors and nursing staff.  See:  Head of Sai Baba Mega Dollar Hospital At Puttaparthi Resigns. Others Quitting Jobs Too. Posted by Barry Pittard on June 26, 2011.

Dereliction of Duty of Care, Accountability and Transparency of International Sathya Sai Organization and Sathya Sai Central Trust

Sai Baba cult's world head, Dr Micael Goldstein, of Covena, southern California. BBC secret camera captures the ugly face that the international leadership of the Sathya Sai Organization wishes to hide.

For many years, small numbers of internationally coordinated former devotees, and other critics such as the late Basava Premanand, worked tremendously hard, and against almost impossible odds, to expose Sathya Sai Baba and his authoritarian worldwide cult. See:

Basava Premanand. Vale. A fighter for truth who lived what others preach

In Memoriam – Glen Meloy (“Standing up for truth and goodness”

The Sathya Sai Organization now bears the undying stigma of having countless times scorned, rebuked and libeled those former devotees and other critics who have, at cost of great personal sacrifice to themselves and their families and friends, spoken out about the sexual abuses against young males and other crimes and moral and spiritual betrayals.

Longtime Failure to Act of Indian Media and Successive National and State Governments

To the profound shame of the Indian media, leading newspaper and television organizations heeded our representations:

For example, BBC, CBC (Canada), DR (Denmark), Salon.com (USA), SBS (all television), ABC (Radio Australia). In newspaper media – Times of London, Daily Telegraph, Guardian (UK), Marie Claire Magazine, Salon.com, BT, Bild, Focus, Trouw, Speegelbield, Noordhollands Dagblad, Sokaren, Gatopardo, Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Star, Vancouver Sun, Age, Australian Financial Review, West Australian (a major front page article by an award-winning journalist (Torrance Mendez) was pulled at the 11th hour!), Adelaide Advertiser, etc., ….. It was not until a close friend of ours, at the top of a notable profession, was able to dine with an official of the Indo Asian News Service that our Duke of Edinburgh story concerning Sai Baba’s propaganda people that we were able, after many futile attempts, to make some inroads on a small section of the Indian media.

Extraordinarily, in the last days, wide sections of the Indian media are surfacing evidence that powerfully tells against Sathya Sai Baba and many of his core servitors. It is, of course, to the historic shame of the Indian media (with the honorable exception of India Today) and successive, typically corrupt Indian governments, national and state, that we long remained voices crying out in the wilderness. For my appreciation of India Today’s publisher Aroon Purie and his team, see:  Sai Baba Treasure Scandals: His Big Political Protectors Now Run For Cover

Of course, the greatest crying, emotionally and spiritually speaking, came from the countless boys and young men who had been sexually molested by Sathya Sai Baba, and in some cases by his teachers. For a recent record of a former student of the Sathya Sai university, now a professional who still struggles with terrible guilt, see:

Testimony about Sai Baba and his Hostels for Boys

Posted by robertpriddy on June 9, 2011

More glimpses behind Sai Baba’s veil of secrecy from one who knows

Posted by robertpriddy on June 10, 2011

The crying comes also from those he and certain of his servitors badly damaged in various other ways. including complicity in cover up of police executions in Sai Baba’s bedroom, missing persons, the beating of individuals by key Sai Baba security personnel, terrible financial scams conducted through the Puttaparthi front office, and in many other ways.

From years of living in India, and sometimes with families from very wealthy to very poor, I know that Indians love their children as people anywhere else do. Of course they do. But love operates when it is a verb, an action, rather than when it is a noun, an abstract.

However, the indisputable fact is that, far worse than in countries which have made large strides in facing sexual abuse issues, India profoundly betrays her children in this regard.

Will India continue to maintain the profoundly inhumane taboo against confronting issues around sexual abuse? Will she focus, instead, on scandals such as the secret hoarding in Sathya Sai Baba’s private chambers of millions of dollars worth of currency and large caches of precious stones and other luxury items? Will she not ask what, sexually, in the lives of so many boys and young men, happened down many years in Sai Baba’s bedroom? That is, the same bedroom around which a vast fortune in currency, gold, silver and precious gemstones have now been found. And the selfsame bed in which the treasury of innocence of countless boys and young men has been forever snatched.

Do you, India, wish to leave out forever out in the wilderness those brave Indian advocates for child protection as: Maharukh Adenwala, Rajmangal Prasad, and other national, state and local profiled figures who work for child rights in India. Why don’t you begin to hang out with those who really care, instead of those who only pretend to care?

Do you, India, wish to continue to be known throughout the world as the country with the highest rate of violence against women and children. Do you want a nation in which, according to a survey by India Today, there are between 400000 and 500000 child prostitutes in India. Does it not mean something to you that a 2007 study (brought about only by the tireless efforts of Indian men and women who truly care, by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) found that 53.22 per cent of India’s children have experienced some form of sexual abuse.

Do many of you pass it all off, thinking it is the kids’ Karma? Very well, do you think it is your Karma to be a person who doesn’t care, and who is content to leave matters as they are? Would you want your own children in the clutches of predators?  Do you have no voice? No ability to support those who work, back against the wall, for change?

By virtue of former devotees’ intensive coordinated campaigning, Sathya Sai Baba centers in the West have emptied and, in other cases, been sorely depleted.  A difficult sticking point is that India is a long way behind in addressing sexual abuse issues. It will be ironic if India’s Sathya Sai Centers empty or deplete because of the revelations about Sai Baba’s material, rather than spiritual treasure. The case in countries outside India was quite other – it was primarily because many individuals were able to exchange their findings about the sheer extent of Sai Baba’s sexual abuses of boys and young men that the credibility of the Sathya Sai Baba was irrecoverably damaged.

After enormous efforts by former Sai Baba devotees around the world – efforts that included proper, professional presentation of our credentials and of primary and secondary witnesses to governments, the United Nations, Interpol, and also of notable institutions which then, thankfully, cut off their connection with the international Sathya Sai Organization.

Robert Priddy and I, with additional help from within India, are keeping up the pressure in our own way. Various leading Indian media have contacted. Our blogsites are receiving thousands of visitors. Though naturally we are keen to avoid any imputation of interfering in the affairs of a sovereign country. We are most sensitive to the need not to tread on the turf of our Indian brothers and sisters who are staging the fight on their home ground. One area we have sometimes been able to assist is in bringing pressure on India deeply corrupt governments via the representatives of former devotees and other Sai Baba critics from around the world. Our friends among Non-Resident Indians (NRI’s) have also been able to contribute here.

My guess is that, just as in the first great wave of our exposure effort, many quit the Sathya Sai Organization, there will now be more waves of leave-taking. Indeed, one would think, of far greater dimensions.

A Seminal Document (August 2000) by Hari Sampath, Former Member of Sathya Sai Security and Intelligence Wing. Indian Media Should Study It

An all-too-neglected Hari Sampath document from 21 August 2000, fully deserves to be widely read, including by an Indian media which may be prone to think themselves as being at the cutting edge of  exposing Sathya Sai Baba and core elements of his cult. The Sampath document is entitled – ‘The Sathya Sai Baba set-up: How it works’.

Hari Sampath wrote his piece from the point of view of a member of Sai Baba Security and Intelligence wing who had become alienated by his discoveries of corruption from Sai Baba down. He  began to investigate, and later posted some of his findings on the internet. See HERE.

From both my own repeated, direct experience of contact with it, and that of our Indian workers’ extraordinarily hard work to inform it, a fact stands out inescapably:  Had the Indian media had been professional and receptive when we embarked on our saga of exposure, Sai cult exposure of the sort happening in India today would surely have happened long ago.

In short, the Indian media, except India Today, was sorely derelict in failing to heed our evidence both in regard to the large-scale serial sexual abuses, and to the financial criminality and corruption which Hari Sampath was the first to reveal publicly.

One area of feedback that would be useful to have at this time is:  impact on centers, both within and outside India. Many of you have your own networking and other resources by which to pull in salient information about what is happening with the centers. Please keep this and other forms of information coming. The feedback assists in breaking through the walls of disinformation and, more often, of Sai Organization unaccountability mediated via silence. See:

Robert Priddy and Barry Pittard On Dr G. Venkataraman – Sathya Sai Baba Global Propagandist

There are many lessons that nations can draw from exposures as great as the unmasking of the Sathya Sai Baba cult. The story of its exposure has on of small people having to learn skills which they, almost entirely never previously possessed. Such as dealing with the media, lawyers, and acting as a conduit to various professional areas of support – such as experienced psychological counseling – for the terribly stricken survivors of Sathya Sai Baba and his cult’s abuses. Anyone in the communities of former devotee activists are witness to the fact that these individuals are not takers but givers. Very typically, they serve not only those affected by the Sathya Sai Organization’s utter dereliction of duty of care and accountability, but also are dedicated to serving worthy causes in their own wider communities and professions.

In short, these are the individuals so-called Sai Baba devotees around the world – so full of their earnest talk about truth, righteousness, peace, love and non-violence – have so cruelly and wrongfully shunned, scorned and vilified.

It is important to keep the information flowing.

For those with information, I can be contacted at this blogsite. Or via:  barpittard@gmail.com. Where special security/confidentiality needs may be called for, there are protocols available. My colleague Robert Priddy and I have dealt with many international situations involving private individuals, media, government and institutions, and confidentiality is assured.

It may be that some fear going to various agencies in the Indian state or federal police. A former head of Interpol in Australia has assured me that there are workarounds in situations of this kind. Should anyone in India wish to share this level of information, please feel welcome to write to me.

Barry Pittard, former Lecturer, Sathya Sai College, Whitefield, via Bangalore, South India.

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Excerpt from:

Testimony from ‘Raman Sharma’

Date: 05-09-11

Here is an excerpt from an account made by a former student – now an academic – who has been in regular contact with well known ex-follower Conny Larsson by phone and e-mail and with an other ex devotee, for several years. We know his real identity and can confirm that he is a real person, but we must protect him from aggressive Sai stalkers and continued harassment by fanatical Sai Baba devotees where he is in India:

I have been accused from the “people of the 5 Human Values” of all sort of things and foremost even threatened for my life. These stalkers who have been paid by the Sai organisation. are terrible people who were also my former close friends within the Sai organisation. But what more could one expect from people devoted to a Rakshasa like Sai Baba. He once said to me after I told him that I loved him; “Yes I know, my food is your thoughts”. I almost fainted out of satisfaction, could you believe how gullible I was. Seduced both physically, spiritually and mentally. The so called “seva” within his organisation is just a mumbo jumbo that never existed so far.

I am really at pains to understand that one of my closest friends (name given but undisclosed here), who personally told me about the private goings on is still a believer, though I sympathize with him. It can be due to the fact that his father was given free hospital treatment and I believe he has received other benefits . There was also (name undisclosed). They are still my friends and so it is difficult to come out in the open.

(‘Raman Sharma’ tells next of how a close relative of his was a prominent official in the Sathya Sai Organisation but left after he told her of his experiences. They were ostracized by all former Sai Baba friends and none bothered to ask after his relative’s health after a cancer operation. After I came out my mother left the organisation and many senior member spoke ill about us.) I also had a miraculous escape in a way when I had confronted the hostel warden directly (it’s a long story of my own humiliations and shady living and things to which I was introduced as a kid in my eight standard by older boys and close friends). I still recollect another Mephistopheles of SB, Nanjundaiaah, the controller of examinations at the university speaking to our class that “Swami is pure innocence, you students by your association and dirty thoughts are spoiling him and his innocence” referring to the talk that was spreading at the college.

They misbehaved with students whenever rumours or truth about SSB started spreading in the hostel. Earlier SSB use to himself do this job by publicly humiliating those students and expelling them, thereby spoiling their careers. How many days of psychological trauma and torture good students have suffered! If I remember correctly, it was in June 2000 during the summer course (or was it 1999) two Brindavan form boys (who slept with SB) were taken ill. When checked, they were found to be HIV positive. I don’t know what happened to them, but SB was very upset with them and threw them out. I think this information was totally suppressed. In India the atmosphere is such that even people like us who know facts doubts ourselves at times. I do hope and pray that God does not allow India to be a global superpower, otherwise it has everything in it to corrupt the rest of the world. The famous author Nirad C Chaudhuri used a term MEGALOMANIA (In his own words he explained that just as an individual can be overtaken by madness, entire groups of people can grow mad). In India we have no dearth of politicians going collectively mad and so also credulous people in general. At least Nehru, for all his shortcomings never bowed down to irrationality just as his party supremos like PM Manmohan Singh  and Sonia Gandhi did recently by Bowing down at the corpse of dead Sathya sai Baba.

Yesterday, I was going through the exbaba site and the account of SB’s sibling Janakiramiah’s death. I noticed two points: Firstly, While Janakiramiah lay dying, people were allowed to see him in the ICU at SSSIHMS. I really fail to understand why are the devotees not being allowed now. Secondly, there was a reference of a bloated Janakiramaiah’s body being sent back to his residence at Parthi. I would like to bring to your notice about another death at the hospital. It concerns prof. Kailash Kumar Aurora, one of the professors’ of English at the Institute. I heard about his death when I had gone to parthi last in 2004. He also died at SSSIHMS and some students who saw him (may be at the hospital) repeatedly confirmed that his body had bloated up unnaturally. I do know of the fact that many permanent members at the ashram or even students never wanted to go to SSSIHMS for treatment because the Hospital was famous for giving wrong injections or medications to the patients. I personally hold the view that SB knew of these goings-on at the hospital and never wanted any major achievement of the hospital to be highlighted in public. Also, returning to the sequence of my older emails, somewhere around 1990 there was a student called Ramesh from Andhra who use to terrorize me and have sex. He never allowed me to go to class and I was really afraid of him, I don’t know for what, I think most of them knew of SB and I am surprised that even on Facebook none of the old Sai students are showing any serious concern about swami’s health. I think it was in my tenth that I started enjoying sex with males after being forced to do it in eighth and ninth. I even stopped going home during holidays in the pretext of staying with swami and my parents being devotees could not imagine about what was happening to me. I remember praying to SB that my parents should die so that I could enjoy life on my own, such was my foolishness. These memories are indeed painful, but I can certainly say that I have restrained myself from doing it with younger folks at Parthi. Somehow I always had the feeling that it was wrong.

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Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

General

Excerpt From Public Petition (and introduction)

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

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Will V.P.B. Nair Keep His Word To BBC On Sathya Sai Baba?

Posted by Barry Pittard on February 8, 2011

In mid 2004, former Andhra Pradesh Home Secretary, V.P.B. Nair spoke to the BBC in its 2004 television documentary – ‘The Secret Swami’ – about the official corruption that attended the police killings in Sathya Sai Baba’s bedroom in June 1993. He said he intended to take steps to get the case re-opened.


I again ask:  has Nair done what he told the BBC that he would do? And, indeed, hope that Indian citizens ask him:

Have you, as you told the BBC that you would do, made efforts to keep your promise to see that there is a proper investigation into the killings at Puttaparthi?

CLICK HERE for a film clip from the BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’, in which V.P.B. Nair speaks of the killings, which he said were in ‘cold blood’.  And HERE to read the transcript of Nair’s statement:  BBC Interview with V.P.B. Nair

Only the Indian people can rally their sense of national honor and rise up and demand answers from their authorities, who continue to protect Sathya Sai Baba.

Here is the extraordinary fact: Exposure of these killings in Sai Baba’s bedroom at Puttaparthi, and of the subsequent suppression by local, state and central government of the police investigations, has been effectively left up to two individuals gifted with cussed unstoppableness – the late Basava Premanand in India and Robert Priddy in Norway.

The lengths to which Premanand and Priddy have gone to examine the welter of documentation have demanded much sacrifice of time and energy, as have their many other Sai Baba exposure efforts. They have been attacked, reviled, and libeled.

Priddy and I kept in touch with Premanand over the years, and this contact allowed us a degree of confidential insight into the very real risks to life and limb that Premanand ran in a country so volatile as India.

Soon after Basava Premanand’s death, I wrote a tribute – about a man whose decency and valor both Robert Priddy and I had come, over the years, to know from personal dealings with him:

Basava Premanand. Vale. A fighter for truth who lived what others preach

Posted by Barry Pittard on October 6, 2009

Basava Premanand (17 Feb. 1930-4 October 2009). India’s most famous Rationalist

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Further Reading

See simulation of Sai Baba’s stage act: Short VIDEO CLIP (only 420Kb) B. Premanand tells of Sathya Sai Baba and his family in his early years)

The BBC and the 1993 murders

New Zealand Lawyer Exposes Official Cover Up of Killings In Sathya Sai Baba Bedroom

BBC Footage Still Potent In Exposing Sathya Sai Sect (See Video Clips and Secret Swami Documentary)

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

MAJOR CRITIC BASAVA PREMANAND….
see Wikipedia ‘Basava Premanand’
Massive sabotage try by Sai. Org person foiled

Summary: Key Points on the Sai Baba Murders
Indian official tries to conceal facts

Sexual Abuse, healing, or oil anointing?
Sexual abuse, Gerald Moreno etc. part two !
On Alaya Rahm’s testimonies against Sai Baba
Murders issue – a defamatory critic rebutted.
Further rebuttals about the murders
Conclusive rebuttal about the murders – plus
Conclusive final rebuttal on the murders
Concerning my reputation & writings (1 2 3 4 5 )
Further refutation of Moreno’s obfuscations
Unfounded allegations & an anon. letter
Part Four on the ‘Betrayal’ letter
Baseless allegations about a letter refuted
BBC’s ‘This World’ article on Basava Premanand
More unfounded misleading claims about my writings

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General

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

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Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba


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V.P.B. Nair Told BBC Sai Baba Bedroom Killings Were “Coldblooded Murder”

Posted by Barry Pittard on January 6, 2011

In mid 2004, former Andhra Pradesh Home Secretary, V.P.B. Nair – see:  The BBC and the 1993 murders – spoke to the BBC about the official local, state and central government cover up that attended the police killings in Sathya Sai Baba’s bedroom in June 1993. He said he intended to take steps to get the case re-opened. But has he done anything of the sort?

Most major Indian media have entirely failed to tackle Sathya Sai Baba and his incredibly wealthy and influential cult. The exceptions have been:  India Today, Tehelka, The Cavaran and (to a small extent) Hindustan Times. The job of exposure has been via the foreign media – e.g., BBC, CBC (Canada), DR (Denmark), Salon.com (USA), SBS, ABC (Australia, Times of London, Daily Telegraph, Guardian (UK), and newspapers in Europe, Canada, Australia, etc.

It is ironic, too, that NRI’s (Non Resident Indians) get to see coverage in the foreign media, whereas there is a heavy blanket of suppression in India. It makes the notion of ‘Indian democracy’ an oxymoron, and somewhat hollow. 

An alert media would challenge V.P.B. Nair with the question:   Have you – as you told the BBC you would do – pushed for a re-opening of the Puttaparthi police killings case?

It is of oddest irony that degrees of exposure of these crimes have been effectively left up to two individuals gifted with cussed unstoppableness – the late Basava Premanand in India and Robert Priddy in Norway. It is similarly significant that, so great is the unwillingness of most major Indian media to tackle Sathya Sai Baba and his incredibly wealthy and influential cult, that exposing him has been, with the exception of India Today, Tehelka, The Caravan, and (to a small extent) Hindustan Times, left up to the foreign media to do – e.g., BBC, CBC (Canada), DR (Denmark), SBS, ABC (Australia), Times of London, Daily Telegraph, Guardian (UK), Salon.com (USA), and newspapers in Europe, Canada, Australia, etc. 

Again, there is irony in that NRI’s (Non Resident Indians) get to see coverage in the foreign media that is tightly suppressed in India!
 
The lengths to which Basava Premanand and Robert Priddy have gone to examine the welter of documentation have
required much sacrifice of time and energy.  Robert Priddy and I kept in touch with Premanand over the years, and this access allowed us confidential insight into the very real risks to life and limb that Premanand ran.  My own tribute to this remarkable man is here:  Basava Premanand. Vale. A fighter for truth who lived what others preach.

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Short Selection of Robert Priddy’s Writings on the Killings

Six devotees of Sathya Sai Baba were slain on 6 June 1993.  No official investigation was completed since the government quashed the CBI’s investigation. No charges were brought. 

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Further Reading At this blogsite:   Call For Media and Government Investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

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

BBC Footage Still Potent In Exposing Sathya Sai Sect (See Video Clips and Secret Swami Documentary)

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General

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BBC Footage Still Potent In Exposing Sathya Sai Sect (See Video Clips and Secret Swami Documentary)

Posted by Barry Pittard on September 17, 2010

A potent factor in successive waves of people leaving Sathya Sai Baba has been video footage exposing the fraudulence that is Sathya Sai Baba. Especially for those pressed for time, here are some decisive clips from the BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’. Although the documentary was first aired in mid 2004, it has since been viewed in many countries worldwide.
 
”The Secret Swami’ has contributed to enormous damage done to the Sathya Sai Baba Organization, and the repute of its founder and those of his following who have – in some cases wittingly and in a great many cases all too unwittingly through being duped, covered up for him. The cover up has been mediated via successive state and central governments and police and judiciary in India, as well as by the actions of his hugely wealthy and powerful international Sathya Sai Organization.
 
Since 1999, former devotee coordinators have withstood untold threats and libel from this organization and its supporters, and do not intend to cave in. Speaking the truth – no matter the misunderstandings, distortions and often virtually daily attacks – is its own reward. It is a value Sathya Sai Baba and his devotees constantly harp upon. Living it is another matter.
 
Many key links, including the link to the full one-hour documentary, are found in this article:  The BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’ – A Revision
 
                     Indisputable facts about Sathya Sai Baba by BBC
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SATHYA SAI BABA ‘THE SECRET SWAMI’
PHOTO & VIDEO GALLERY

SATHYA SAI BABA IN EXCEPTIONAL FILM SHOTS. FILMED IN 2004 AT SHIVARATHRI

VIEW THESE EXCERPT TRANSCRIPTS AND VIDEO CLIPS FROM

THE BBC TV DOCUMENTARY ‘THE SECRET SWAMI‘:

THIS DOCUMENTARY CAN BE BOUGHT DIRECT FROM THE BBC MARKETING DEPT.
AS A VHS VIDEO. FOR A FRANCHISE TO SHOW IT ON INDEPENDENT TV STATIONS,  CONTACT THE BBC.

3) DR. MICHAEL GOLDSTEIN DISCUSSES THE SEX ABUSE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST SAI BABA

4) DR. MICHAEL GOLDSTEIN STATES THE SAI ORGANISATION’S FAITH ABOUT SAI BABA

5) ISAAC TIGRETT DISCUSSES THE SEX ALLEGATIONS AGAINST SAI BABA

6) INDIAN EX-MINISTER OF EDUCATION, M.M. JOSHI, ON THE SEX ALLEGATIONS AGAINST SAI BABA

7) INTERVIEW WITH THE EX-HOME SECRETARY OF ANDRHA PRADESH

  8) VERY CLOSE DEVOTEES TESTIFY – SAI BABA’S SEX ABUSE AND DIRE THREATS ETC.

9) SOME CLOSE BEDFELLOWS OF SATHYA SAI BABA

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 (BBC) THIS WORLD – Documentary film: “The Secret Swami” TRANSCRIPT

Tx Date: 17th June 2004 This script was made from audio tape – any inaccuracies are due to voices being unclear or inaudible

The Rahm family introduction
Alaya Rahm visits Sai Baba
The first ‘genital oiling’ on Alaya Rahm
Mark Roche testimony on sex abuse
Alaya Rahm given cheap, false trinkets
Khushwant Singh [writer] on Sai movement
Kushwant Singh on ‘genital oiling’
Dr. M. Goldstein on Sathya Sai Baba as God
Dr. Michael Goldstein on ‘materialisations’
Dr. Michael Goldstein hears the Rahm’s account
Dr. Michael Goldstein secretly filmed!
Dr. M. Goldstein earns praise from Sai Baba
Sai Baba’s failed/faked lingam production
Sai Baba’s collapse after ’3-tonnes’ of weight!
Isaac Tigrett confirms sexual abuses
Premanand on Sai claims
Premanand shows Sai tricks
The Murders in Sai Baba’s bedroom
Ex-Home Minister V.P. Nair on the murders
V.P. Nair on reason for murder cover-up
Premanand on the murders
Minister Murali Mahohar Joshi loses his cool
UNESCO/US State Department warnings etc.

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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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Sathya Sai Baba Cultist Yaani Drucker Claims Spiritual Enlightenment

Posted by Barry Pittard on May 29, 2010

It is instructive to see the cultic mind at work. Too often, it conceals itself. Yaani Drucker – the Sathya Sai Baba worshipper who publicly claims that she has now achieved Enlightenment and runs workshops that aim to put others on the same path – has again written to a former follower of Sathya Sai Baba.

Throughout her many statements, she fails to realise that, as a public figure, her advice on how to deal with rape and other traumatic experience is far from what those in crisis care regard as advisable. Yet again, in her email to Robert Priddy, her own extremely simplistic assumptions give her away. She is as careless in small matters as in great. In a relatively small matter, reminding one of her own assumption that I am a psychologist, she has just written to Robert Priddy, telling him that his Ph.D., excludes him from any expertise in commenting about matters of Enlightenment. The fact is, that Robert Priddy does not have a Ph.D., and it has been known for many decades to many colleagues that he attaches little, if any, importance t0 such titles. See Wiki reference for Robert C. Priddy’s qualifications, academic and other writings.

See:  Yaani Drucker’s hypocrisy about academic qualifications & enlightenment Posted by robertpriddy on May 27, 2010

QUOTE “Yaani evidently has no idea of how I view and define cults in accordance with world experts on this subject. She could benefit from reading about them! Her view is that only a group one cannot leave is a cult. That is very simplistic. One can even leave the most oppressive cults, but it is the harassment afterwards that is the defining quality. Such as her confidante Gerald Moreno’s constant harassment of all Sathya Sai Baba ex-cult members. The Sathya Sai cult is not as extreme in the sense that some are, not unless you are in India and confront them (Basava Premanand was burgled three times (see BBC report) and suffered attempts on his life from Sai Baba goondas (i.e. killer thugs). He was convinced from his evidence that his son and helper was murdered in a Bangalore hospital too! Numerous Indian students have been murdered at the ashrams, and also a considerable number of Westerners, while other Western visitors have ‘disappeared’ from the ashram and have never been traced. Indian ex-students in fear of their livelihoods and even their lives still write to me (for they know I can be trusted, unlike continuing devotees). But for the majority it is admittedly a very subtle kind of cult, relying on voluntary donations (after deep indoctrination). Sai Baba gives people almost worthless rings (claiming they are diamond rings), fake watches, all manner of trinkets – and he gets huger donations in return out of thankfulness – but the donors were thoroughly deceived!”

Alvin Drucker, husband of Jaani (originally just Jan) is a self-appointed prosetylizer for Sathya sai baba and condones his sexual exploits about which he knew from parents many instances, though he chose to remain silent. He has admitted this in an e.mail to the UK central Coordinator Aime Levy who was formerly  also a devotee and a good friend of Robert Priddy and wife. Interestingly Drucker is not honest either, as the following documentation shows:- Al Drucker expropriated others’ work to himself

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Further Reading

Two Articles In Response To Yaani Drucker’s Posting

“NOTHING IS REAL, STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER”
or ‘Yaani Drucker on how nothing was turned into nothing, by nobody’
by Reidun Priddy

YAANI DRUCKER & SATHYA SAI BABA’S ADVAITIC DOCTRINE
A recipe for confusion and personality disorder?
by Robert Priddy

Jaani Drucker: ‘the Ego’ misunderstood and self-nihilation

Jaani Drucker – wild claims not supported by her actions

By Barry Pittard

Reply To Claimer of Spiritual Enlightenment (Yaani Drucker Correspondence) Part 1

Exchanges of views on how rape and sexual abuse affect the real person or whether they merely affect the body, as is held by rape victim Jaani Drucker.

Jaani Drucker continually responds to neither to the spirit or the letter of her claim that ” happy to discuss and debate issues” rather flatly rejecting all points on the ground that she knows the ultimate truth.
Jaani Drucker evades Pittard’s contention that those who have had such traumatic experiences need to reach out to an experienced, qualified profession, and that, in terms of public health outcomes, it is a dangerous undertaking to recommend a course of action which relies on faith or notions of enlightenment alone.
Pittard reminds that Jaani Drucker is very evasive on questions she promised to debate openly – instead promoting a self-enhancing narrative about spiritual realization.
Her many failures of reasoning, and her slips, slides and evasions, evident to commonsense and logic, abound here, and are dealt with
Who can distinguish between those like Jaani who claim realization? How can one get around to testing the plethora of claims? However, there is a body of clinical experience which DOES have testability in application to trauma, and this is being applied day in and day out in hospitals and clinics throughout the world.
Analyzing the belief put forth by Jaani Drucker which Pittard holds is dangerous to vulnerable survivors of rape etc. as supporting a flight into denial. Parents and mental health professionals would never agree with Drucker’s claims.
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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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Nityananda, Sathya Sai Baba et al… Do Hindus Really Approve Sexual Immorality?

Posted by Barry Pittard on May 21, 2010

                                                                                 Swami Nityananda Sex Scandal. Huge, India-wide Interest

The court appearances of Swami Nityananda of India on charges of improper sexual behaviour towards a number of young women have made him the butt of outrage throughout India. Innumerable news articles, blogs, chatrooms, attest to the overwhelming abhorrence of a very broad Hindu public (what to mention other belief systems) for the types of sexual practices being referred to in the Nityananda court proceedings. 

In recent years, a top-ranking Hindu leader sent me an email (which can be verified for bona fide media and scholars who may wish to check that what networked former Sathya Sai Baba devotees and other critics claim is true). See:  Sathya Sai Baba: ‘Considerable Concern’ In Wider Hindu Community. This outstanding leader, recognized by a wide cross-section of Hindu organizations in his country, wrote:  

There is considerable concern among the Hindu Community, especially among the educated. It is very hard to get any action from the temples as they do not wish to cause difficulties with the Sathya Sai Baba groups. People are starting to distance themselves from Sathya Sai Baba. It’s going to be gradual process of education. The biggest impact it appears was the ‘The Secret Swami’ … it seems it has had a tremendous negative effect on Sathya Sai Baba”.  

One of the greatest anomalies is that many religious institutions do not speak clearly – or very often even at all – on issues for which social taboos absurdly and dangerously flourish. The lack of genuine religious leadership and vision are palpable. The result is that lay persons frequently have to whistle-blow, and face extraordinary libel, defamation and other forms of attack because they vibrantly live those tenets that are so preached and yet so breached. In India, the dereliction of the religious institutions from facing hard moral questions is in sharp contrast to a rationalist such as the late Basava Premanand. See:  Basava Premanand. Vale. A fighter for truth who lived what others preach. For a western example, see:  In Memoriam – Glen Meloy (“Standing up for truth and goodness”)

In his article – Swami Nityananda tries the Sathya Sai Baba defense ploy, Posted by robertpriddy on May 20, 2010 – Robert Priddy, the former national head for many years of the Sathya Sai Organization in Norway, has just blogged on some recent developments in the Swami Nityananda exposure. He writes:

“So the Hindu Sangam in Malaysia evidently supports secret tantrick sexual exploits as this is not against Hinduism, for they could not have failed to note this aspect of Nityananda’s teaching. At least, it’s good to know where they really stand! One wonders if they support the practises of Sathya Sai Baba (which top Sai officials condone) such as the oiling of young male genitals. Or perhaps even also Sathya Sai Baba’s very widely testified sexual abuses from around the world, including pedophilia?” 

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By Robert Priddy

Sex scandal in Indian media – Nityananda and forerunners  

Swami ‘Paramahamsa’ Nityananda scandal – latest

HC dismisses plea for CBI probe against Nityananda 

 Nityananda sex scandal compounded by his lies and deceits 

 Basava Premanand Tribute: Indian Exposer of Sathya Sai Baba Dies 

 Nityananda sex scandal compounded by his lies and deceits

Nityananda video, lies and ’sex allegations’

……………………………………

By Barry Pittard 

 Nityananda Sex Scandal Erupts in India. Sathya Sai Baba Lessons?

Nityananda Scandal. Police Seize Indicting Material. Why No Raids On Sathya Sai Baba?

 Is Heat Too Much For Swami Nityananda, Under Fire By Sex Abuse Allegations?

Why Nithyananda Sex Scandal Investigations and Not A Sathya Sai Baba Probe?

Boy Scouts of America – Sex Abuse Revelations. Who Next?

Priest Abuse. Long-denied Justice Catching Up In Australia Sexual Abuse Priests. What?! The Pope Never Knew?

Roman Catholics’ Deep Concern At Pope’s Apology. But He Is Way Ahead Of Indian ‘Pope’ Sathya  Sai Baba  

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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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Roman Catholics’ Deep Concern At Pope’s Apology. But He Is Way Ahead Of Indian ‘Pope’ Sathya Sai Baba

Posted by Barry Pittard on March 23, 2010

It is enormously instructive to watch the unfolding saga of papal apology for clergy sexual abuse. Large numbers of both Roman Catholics and others round the world have expressed deep dissatisfaction with the Pope’s apology. They say that it goes nowhere far enough, and does not address acute issues of crime and punishment. The Roman Catholic Church, like the international Sathya Sai Organization, has every reason to be afraid of sore depletions  of membership and finance, as well as moral standing in the world community.

RC Abuse Priests Collared. Clergy sex revelation storms threaten worldwide

RC Abuse Priests Collared. Clergy sex revelation storms threaten worldwide

There have been many critical commentaries from within and far beyond the Roman Catholic Church. They make it clear that there are central issues of institutional power and control that prevent far-reaching and genuine reforms from taking place. Even when the methods of statecraft far exceed the spirit or even letter of an institution’s spiritual, ethical and moral aims, it is the long history of powerful institutions to use the apparatus of legalistic and other forms of self-protection. In other words, cover up. And, at best, cosmetic reform. For a glimpse at an ancien régime swinging into action, see The Times report: Vatican moves to distance Pope from abuse scandal. Richard Owen. Rome.

 

Sorry Pope Indeed

Sorry Pope

 

What many Roman Catholics, including one of the greatest and outspoken theologians in Church history, Professor Hans Kung, and others are, in effect, asking is: why is this man so publically sorry now and not years ago, when he was cognizant of sexual abuses within his church?

The Dark Pages That Have To Be Faced

A secular example. The immediate past US President George  W. Bush’s name will stand forever darkened by his secret policy of “extraordinary rendition”, where prisoners deemed to be a threat to US security were spirited away to countries friendly to the US which routinely practise torture, so that the hands of US citizens would not personally be bloodied by the heinous acts then committed without the knowledge and consent of the American people at large.

Again, cover up. Again, acknowledgement only when the forces of exposure have reached tipping point.

Typically, among the lower orders of institutional membership, there are many who rationalize and justify an autocratic leadership’s  actions and instructions that appear to enhance or protect an institution. The rank-and-file do not act with the full knowledge, cynicism and realpolitik of those right at the nub of power. That this relative kind of ignorance, naivety, piety (or whatever form it takes) cannot, and should not, be used to plead excuse was made very clear in the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials that ran from 1945 to 1949.

What of India’s shame?

As we can see in recent weeks, there has been a public upsurge of concern at sex scandal revelations about high-powered religious figures in India. See: Nityananda Sex Scandal Erupts in India. Sathya Sai Baba Lessons? .

 
 

 

Puttaparthi Sai Baba. Will soon rule world, he says

Sathya Sai Baba will soon rule world, he says

Note: The glitter of pure gold, and immense pomp and circumstance are the order of the day at Sai Baba’s ashram at Puttaparthi. See:

It forever echoes in my mind how a then editor of The Times of India told me privately that Sathya Sai Baba is too powerful to take on. One irony was that one of the most powerful figures on the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust – the former Chief Justice of India, P.N. Bhagawati, was at the same time on the Board of Directors of The Times of India. In fact, our group had to work extremely hard to get UNESCO senior management to cause the Press Trust of India (PTI) to make amends for publishing a gravely watered-down version of the UNESCO Media Advisory concerning Sathya Sai Baba and certain of his key officals. See:

The Case of UNESCO’s Missing Media Advisory and BBC Caught UNESCO Head Bowing To Indian Government

In India, a particularly lamentable fact that speaks  against religious institutions is that their scandals have often had to exposed by such courageous rationalists as the late Basava Premanand.  See:  Basava Premanand Long Challenged Indian Governments To Come Clean On Sathya Sai Baba and Basava Premanand. Vale. A fighter for truth who lived what others preach .

Or, as anywhere in the world, by whistleblowers from’inside’ who undergo the most shameful attacks by those who proclaim to live by ‘Life, Love and Spirituality‘.

See also:

Religion and the Catholic Church Sex Abuses

Posted by robertpriddy on March 21, 2010

Ireland Acts On Clergy Sexual Abuse. India Does Not Act On Sathya Sai Baba

Posted by Barrypittard on November 27, 2009

Reputed Media and Other Agencies Decried By Sathya Sai Baba’s Defenders

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(Up-and-coming article at Call For Media and Government Investigation of Sathya Sai Baba:  Australia’s Shame …)

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Excerpt from New York Times, Agencies Report

Pope’s words of remorse fall flat for abuse victims

JOHN BURNS, DUBLIN

March 23, 2010

“POPE Benedict XVI’s weekend apology to sufferers of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy in Ireland has drawn a deeply sceptical and angry response from many Catholics.

In the apology – a pastoral letter read aloud at all weekend Masses across Ireland’s 26 Catholic dioceses and handed out in printed form to thousands of churchgoers – Benedict ex-pressed ”shame and remorse” to victims and their families for what he called ”sinful and criminal” acts by members of the clergy. But in the apology, the Pope did not require that Cardinal Sean Brady, the head of the Irish church, or any other church leaders be disciplined for their mistakes, as some victims had hoped

Nor did he clarify what critics in Ireland and elsewhere have said are contradictory Vatican rules about the procedures for investigating abuse cases and church leaders’ responsibility to inform civil authorities about offences they uncover, a duty the Pope reiterated strongly in his letter.

By remaining silent on the issue of punishment for top church figures implicated in what critics in Ireland have described as decades of cover-up, the pastoral letter appears to have done little to assuage the dismay and anger of many in Ireland at years of revelations about paedophile priests and child carers”.  NEW YORK TIMES, AGENCIES

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Click here to view list of brief video clips available from the BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’ documentary

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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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Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

 

Posted in New Age, Opinion, Rationalism, Religion, South Asia, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Basava Premanand Long Challenged Indian Governments To Come Clean On Sathya Sai Baba

Posted by Barry Pittard on November 18, 2009

Among many attempts to awaken India to the great danger posed by chronic addiction to swamis, gurus and the like, India’s foremost rationalist the late B.Premanand tried to arouse government, media, legal  and public accountability. The odds he faced were utterly formidable. See my in memoriam tribute to Premanand, with whom I kept in touch over the years:

Basava Premanand. Vale. A fighter for truth who lived what others preach

One might have thought that key Indian religious organizations, were they to have had guts, decency and nothing to hide, would, in effect, have said something like this:  Yes, we agree that horrible oppressions in the name of religion exist. We disagree with you Premanand in regard to deism and disbelief.  However, we are at one with you in wishing to stop exploitation, and we too will speak out very clearly, and do our best to ensure that you are not a voice crying in the wilderness.

And why not? – for indeed, in India, among the well-informed, there is a very long precedent where respect is held for reasoned belief and non-belief. India has evinced strong traditions of a ‘live and let live’ standard. But the case is vexed – as witness casteism and communalism. Nonetheless, non-deistic systems have long survived in India and recognized in a broad ‘hinduism’ – Charvaka, Jainism and Buddhism and the philosophical system known as Mimamsa. One might have wished there were enough forces for fertile and practical cooperation on at least common grounds between the deistic and non-deistic forces in India. But, at this pragmatic level, wherever one travelled, there was a sense that the forces of corruption, reinforced by nepotism, were in far too powerful control for any form of genuine democracy to flourish. It is difficult to imagine any greater reinforcement for the old attitudes of fatalism.

Nor has Sathya Sai Baba kept his promise to “clean (his) own back yard (India), before going to other countries, as I, among others, have chronicled:

Sathya Sai Baba Continues To Ail


When Disasters Overtake S. Sai Baba’s Promises


‘World Avatar’ Sathya Sai Baba’s Troubled Trail

With regard to the unwillingness of Hindu temple organizations to come forth regarding Sathya Sai Baba, see my article:

Sathya Sai Baba: ‘Considerable Concern’ In Wider Hindu Community

I here quoted from an email from a very notable Hindu leader (with an important government remit) with whom, at various times, I have privately corresponded.  Beneath the Premanand quote below, I quote the Hindu leader’s note.

It is well-known that Mahatma Gandhi would in no uncertain terms berate those of his fellow Indians who showed signs of cowardice and its stinky bedmate hypocrisy. One of my well-wishers along my pilgrim way, an Indian swami close to the late Sri Anandamayi Ma, told me that he had witnessed Gandhi delivering himself of a tremendous rebuke when those around him failed to live up to the high standards to which they gave lip service.

As anyone can see, across the years of issues of, for example, his newsletter ‘The Indian Skeptic‘, it was one Premanand’s methods to press governments for accountability. He would carefully register his letters so that a signature was required by any official addressed. His frequent experience was the officials’ very serious obscurantism and inaction, and their replies unwittingly revealed these abysmal qualities to any half alert reader of Premanand’s various publications.

Of course, one of the difficulties was that they regarded him as a ‘nastika’ (an unbeliever). But the problem lay deeper than this. It was that the corruption and its cover up were so endemic, and many terribly courageous Indians have fought against it. In our networked group, there have been, too,  cries of upset that anyone of us should deal with Premanand. Glen Meloy and I, and subsequently Robert Priddy too, had a mutually respectful interface with Premanand, which included matters of internationally coordinating credible witnesses for the BBC in the making of ”The Secret Swami’.  See:

Glen Meloy (“Standing up for truth and goodness”) – In Memoriam

Of Glen, Premanand wrote to me:

“Glen’s death was a great shock. I wanted him to live till Sai Baba was arrested … I am missing a great loving friend whom I came to know from the BBC film production.”

Fortunately, given the breadth of educated viewpoints among networked former devotees of Sathya Sai Baba, this antipathy towards any contact with Premanand, though strenuously put, was in a minority. As I see it, two of the real questions are:

  • does one believe in speaking forthrightly when facts are being profoundly covered up – facts  that no ethical system of any major faith or rationalist or humanist standpoint would in the least espouse? And
  • does one believe that labelling others is often a great harm, and one of the greatest obstacles to mutual respect of persons as persons?

Undemocratic Non-Response: A Typical Case of Indian Government Cover Up of Sathya Sai Baba and His Cult

See, the article:

Basava Premanana challenges Ex-PM Vajpayee to come clean

Text below taken from the Indian Skeptic, November 2006:

To, The Director and CPIO,
Prime Minister Office,
South Block New Delhi 110 001 Under the Right to Information Act – 2005.

Dear Sir, 24.8.2006

Ref: Statement of Mr. A.B.Vajpayee the Ex. Prime Minister of India along with the two retired Chief Justices Of India Mr.P.N.Bhagwathi and Mr.Ranganath Mishra, published on internet
http/www.sri sathyasai.org.uk/homepage/default.htm.

At last, thank you for your letter No.RTI/26/2006-PMA, dated 17.8’2006 received by me on 22.8.2006 regarding my letter to The Hon Prime Minister Of India dated 13.3.2006 which was received on 16.3.2006 after a long merry- go-round for five months from one ministry to another.

The question was a very simple one “As the Indian Prime Minister and the two retired Chief Justices of India would not give such statements without proper investigation.

To provide me with the certified copy ot the investigation on the sexual abuse of youth by Sathya Sai Baba.

Though you have confirmed that no papers related to such investigation are available in the Prime Minister Office, you have not been courageous enough to seek explanation from Mr. Vajpayee as the statement mentioned in the reference was made by him when he was the. Prime Minister of India.

You have also not acknowledged the memo dated 9.8.2006 from the Ministry of Home Affairs No. MHA ID No.24013/11/2006 – CSR III with the copy of my letter dated 17.7,2006 asking to get information from Mr.Vajpayee whether the statement signed by him and the two .retired Chief Justices Of India was after ascertaining the true facts.

I would be thankful to you if you will kindly write to Mr.Vajpayee and provide me with the information sought for.

I have the greatest regard for one present Prime Minister who has after Mrs. lndira Gandhi added the duties of Indian Citizens in the constitution which even her father dared not, now Mr. Manmohan Singh by promulgation the Rights of information Act 2005 making his Government a transparent one. This needs a lot of courage as the majority of the politicians and bureaucrats would hate this law.

Though not necessary, I am enclosing herewith a Postal Order No.43 E 787592 for Rs. 107- made in your name and I hope to get the information within 30 days of receipt of this letter under section 7 (i) of the RTI Act
Thanking you

Yours Sincerely
(B. Premanand)

The posting by the Indian PM and colleagues was posted here earlier – SEE here

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From an email to me from a notable Hindu leader

“There is considerable concern among the Hindu Community, especially among the educated. It is very hard to get any action from the temples as they do not wish to cause difficulties with the Sathya Sai Baba groups. People are starting to distance themselves from Sathya Sai Baba. It’s going to be gradual process of education. The biggest impact it appears was the ‘The Secret Swami’ … it seems it has had a tremendous negative effect on Sathya Sai Baba”.

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Premanand Responds to Infamy

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

Massive sabotage try by Sai. Org person foiled

Gurubusting Sathya Sai Baba

“Murders in Sai Baba’s Bedroom” by B. Premanand. Price India Rs. 400/-, Overseas US $40/- (free postage). Publ. by B. Premanand. 11/7 Chettipalayam Road, Podnadur. 641 023 Tamil Nadu, India

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

Petition For Official Investigation Into Sathya Sai Baba Cult

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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

Posted in Philosophy, Rationalism, Religion, Skeptics, South Asia, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Basava Premanand. Vale. A fighter for truth who lived what others preach

Posted by Barry Pittard on October 6, 2009

The foremost Indian rationalist, Basava Premanand has died, aged 79, of cancer at Podannur, Tamil Nadu (17 February 1930 – 4 October 2009).

 

Basava Premanand (17 Feb. 1930-4 October 2009). India's most famous Rationalist

Premanand’s close colleague Professor Narendra Nayak has just informed me of his death, and I am deeply saddened. Premanand and I had an extensive correspondence over the years, joined eventually by my trusted colleague, Robert Priddy.

Premanand, the late Glen Meloy of the USA, and I maintained contact during the making of  BBC television’s “The Secret Swami”. See: In Memoriam – Glen Meloy (“Standing up for truth and goodness”). This contact strengthened in the difficulties of international co-ordination, which were considerable.

Amid sadness on receipt of the news of Premanand’s passing, I briefly smiled, as memories began to course back, at how some, but happily by no means all, of the members of the international former Sathya Sai Baba network, got upset by my contacting Premanand – but what a priviledge they missed out on!  This was a man who vividly lived the principles about which some but speak and genuflect, their eyes upraised.

The word “warmth” is one of the words that I cherish when think of Premanand, and this quality shows in the words of a glowing tribute at Glen Meloy’s death, when he said: “Glen’s death was a great shock. I wanted him to live till Sai Baba was arrested … I am missing a great loving friend whom I came to know from the BBC film production.”

basava-premanand

With Premanand, Robert Priddy and I worked on some research, analysis and written work. Together, we were able to expose  –  including with  some Interpol and Indian police follow-up  –  an extensive attempt at penetration of the networked exposure of Sathya Sai Baba and core colleagues by one of his former college/university teachers.

Had it not been for the economies of telephony, I feel sure we would have spoken more between India and Australia, but were restricted to emailing. In recent months, I was tempted to try, with the assistance of his aides, to set up a Skype link, but, realising that his cancer had struck back again, thought the better of it. About three years ago, Premanand and I spoke on the phone for about an hour, when he was staying with his sister in Bangalore. His warmth of greeting when he answered the phone was touching and palpable. Throughout the conversation, I was aware of his wide grasp of issues, graciousness, and of a sense of stern purpose  lightened by a gentle humour.

A fire-eating, gurubusting Basava Premanand, who traveled widely in India exposing the corrupt gurus' tricks

I don’t know that Sathya Sai Baba will be arrested. He ails considerably, despite his declaration that he would not age after his 60th birthday.  Premanand was his great and unrelenting foe in India. Alas, the forces of corruption in India, which Premanand so courageously faced for so many years, are almost unimaginable. Of course, to let any notion of mountainous difficulties seep into consciousness would be to ensure that any light in the world snuffs out fast. Premanand had those rare blessings – innocence without naivity, and the warrior spirit that fights for goodness and gentleness. Premanand was one of those voices that cry out in a wilderness of superstition, fear and apathy. However, I learn that there is a feisty younger generation who support his work. So he will not die.

Perhaps attempt to educate and warn, rather than the jail scenario for Sathya Sai Baba, will be the one that triumphs.

I have wondered whether Premanand would have achieved some of his ends if it were not for the terrible dereliction by those calling themselves religious.  A foremost Hindu leader wrote to me:

“There is considerable concern among the Hindu Community, especially among the educated. It is very hard to get any action from the temples as they do not wish to cause difficulties with the Sathya Sai Baba groups. People are starting to distance themselves from Sathya Sai Baba. It’s going to be gradual process of education. The biggest impact it appears was the ‘The Secret Swami’ … it seems it has had a tremendous negative effect on Sathya Sai Baba”.

Perhaps if there were to be a Heaven after all, and Premanand, of course, find himself in its halls, one rather thinks that he would find the company, although illustrious, rather too few.

Goodbye, good man …..

Barry Pittard, Australia

See Wikipedia entry for Basava Premanand

See tributes to B. Premanand by Professor Nayak, Premanand’s successor and president of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, and others:

Basva Premanand (17 February 1930 – 04 October 2009)- The Passing of a Great Man

Posted in Morality, News, News and Politics, Opinion, Protest, Rationalism, Religion, Skeptics, Social and Politics, South Asia, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Issues, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »