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

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Barry Pittard – On Institutional Cover Ups and Psychological Denial

Posted by Barry Pittard on September 5, 2011

In many universities, there is reluctance to study the testimony of contemporary apostates. But I would commend – perhaps to a younger and less blinkered generation of academics – that perceived problems about validity of testimony can be overcome from the more or less oblique angle of comparative studies. There is no shortage of dissent from major and powerful institutions. One can obtain a large and valuable witness base.

Indeed, I suggest that one perspective for examining this phenomenon is the positive one of health – and not of pathology. That is to say, many people leave institutions in response to conscience, commonsense and rationality.

In the context of cross-cultural studies, witnesses, pro and contra, concerning organizations oriented to strong belief systems commonly do not know each other, and this fact yields an immense and rich base of non-colusional evidence. Any academic department which resiles from the study of cults per se backs away from taking seriously one of the prime threats to civil well-being. Nor should intellectually impoverished notions of so-called ‘religious freedom’ and ‘political correctness’ be heeded. For authoritarian cults thrive on lack of examination, and misplaced notions of liberalism. They cry freedom even as they deny freedom.

There is a train of thought which keeps coming home to me when I look at the testimony of dissenters from various authoritarian organizations ….

When one is deeply involved in any matter, it can be hard to imagine that there are other necks of similar ‘woods’. So caught up in our own reality do we get. But when we embark on comparative studies, we find countless marked patterns all round.

Variations, from locale to locale, obscure facts such as the very few human feelings and drives – although we commonly speak as though there are a great many. If we could get at the feelings, the essential driving forces, and deal with these in a truthful, mutually respectful way, we might make progress.

However, the human ego thrives by flattering itself on its own uniqueness and sheer variation. Human beings – whether the good, the bad or the indifferent – tend to react the same. It just looks different. What make us appear so different are usually two things. First, the variables of culture, class, age, gender, race, and so on. Second, observed from within our own ‘pond’, it hardly seems possible that other ‘ponds’ are beyond our range of vision. Or, even when we meet them, we tend to see the differentiations, and not the underlying drivers.

Let us look beyond our own ‘pond’. Comparing different types of institution and looking at the nature of institutional cover up and denial can illuminate the area, and expose almost primitive, patterned and (given ever improving data bases), predictable behavioral responses. The local ‘color’ and nomenclature are different, but the essential, and very few, driving forces are the same.

Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

There has been, as in the case of the Sathya Sai Organization leaders, the persistent and scandalous cover-up at all levels in the Roman Catholic Church up to and including Popes. Those Roman Catholics who for decades have been speaking out have been subjected to attacks very much like what other whistleblowers (including many former devotees of Sathya Sai Baba) have had to endure. It is terrible and wrong. The Irish case is full of stark parallels. Sathya Sai Baba is protected at the very highest levels in India. In regard to him, we learn at first hand from very senior diplomatic sources that diplomats are instructed not to “rock the boat with India”. The fallacy that most thinking Indians would be bound to detect is the absurd conflation of Sathya Sai Baba with India! Those who have traveled extensively in India know how huge is the repudiation of him in that great but tragic country.

When one speaks to dissenters from other areas, the same presentations of cultic believers are the case – cover up, character assassination, libel and defamation, vile vituperation on the one hand and cold shunning on the other, threats to sue and other bullying tactics, working to get people fired from their jobs, families broken up, inability to discuss without poor argument and distortion of what has actually been stated, and so on.

Standing forth for truthfulness is not an easy job.

I think that it is advisable for survivors to reflect carefully before deciding whether to disclose their identities in their testimonies in a public forum, such as the internet. Some prefer to provide sworn testimony, and await opportunities to come forward in the media or in a court action where there is proper jurisdiction. Others, however, are prepared to stand forth and feel that they are making a contribution to saving others from a similar fate, and, in general, they wish to create a much better pubic awareness of the evils of sexual and other types of abuse. We know of those who have had no qualms about speaking up, even after we have carefully gone through the issues with them.

In the exposure of Sathya Sai Baba and his cult, international coordinators such as Glen Meloy (deceased), Robert Priddy, Hari Sampath (in the earlier stages) and I have had a work which we never would have wished upon ourselves …..

….. Below, Sebastian Engelbarts of The Netherlands relates his account of abuse experiences at the hands of Sathya Sai Baba. My close colleague Robert Priddy made all due effort to apprise Sebastian of what going public can invoke – as indeed is our strict practice with others in touch with us with their accounts – and the latter decided that he had the resolve necessary to withstand come-what-may.

I need hardly point out that, over several years, many testimonies have been shared with us with the request that they be kept confidential, and Robert Priddy and I (in our role of coordinators) – or others along a supportive network, often professional in background – have respected this. Other Sathya Sai Baba abuse survivors have stated that they would wish only to make public their experiences in the context of investigation by, for example, a respected organization such as the BBC, Times of London, Telegraph, The Guardian, UNESCO, Interpol, etc.’ and/or by a court of law in a democratic country.

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

But, as so commonly, Sai Baba, in word and action falsifies what he superabundantly preaches.

“Desire to which you are too fondly attached breeds anger and its nefarious brood. Discard it and you can have perpetual youth! The Aanandha that the Aathman can manifest will keep age and ageing away!” Discourse of Sathya Sai Baba, Prashanthi Nilayam, 22 Feb 1971. Published by Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust.

“The attributes of the Avatars are beyond human comprehension…. Rama and Krishna were ever youthful. Have you ever seen a picture of Rama or Krishna with grey hair?….. Usually old people have wrinkles on their faces … I do not have any signs of old age. (loud applause). There is not a single wrinkle on My face”. Sanathana Sarathi, October, 2002.

Why are Indian authorities and the Indian media so selective in exposing errant religious figures in that country? Anyone who knows a wide cross-section of Indians is well aware of the great shame they feel for the corrupt institutions in their country?

Non-resident Indians (NRI’s) are freely able to read exposing investigations about Sathya Sai Baba in major western media such as the BBC, Times of London, Daily Telegraph, Guardian, and newspapers in Europe, Canada, Australia, etc., but are prohibited from doing so in their own country.

Like Sathya Sai Baba, he has presided over social work and so forth. Some of Sathya Sai Baba’s followers who do not deny his sexual and other activities say: but look at all the good social work that he does. (Actually, one might have thought that it is his devotees that do it!). The laws of many countries, though there may be elements of mitigation, do not take any such absurd position.

I have yet to examine the issues, but fully expect, as has been the response of Sai Baba’s apologists to the mountain of evidence against him, no end of the same types of spurious, head-in-the-sand justification from devotees of the exposed gurus and malicious attacks on those who have stood forth to speak the truth, and who call – all the while at great readiness themselves to be accountable – for independent and proper third-party investigation of allegations. See my update: Why Nithyananda Sex Scandal Investigations and Not A Sathya Sai Baba Probe?

RC Abuse Priests Collared. Clergy sex revelation storms threaten worldwide After years of vast ecclesiastical cover up, many Roman Catholic sexually abusive priests have been collared, worldwide.

Some international commentators opine that there is a net of terrible revelation closing in on Pope Benedict XVI. One revelation after another indicates that he has for many years known about the endemic sexual abuses, both of children and adults, happening within the Roman Catholic Church. And that he has, all along, failed with any probity (unless it accorded with antiquated, incredibly out-of-touch notions of an ancien régime) to act. To the contrary, he has called, all along, for secrecy. A key issue is whether any ecclesiastical authority has the right to deal with crimes within its own entity. Countless sexual abuses have not been reported to the police, and strong sections within the Catholic hierarchy have triumphed in a division between Church and State that appalls most who live in a western democracy.

See companion article to this post:

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

The same high-handed rebuff to legal sovereignty of the secular state was, in effect, asserted by the longtime, now retired world coordinator of the Sathya Sai Organizer, Indulal Shah. See: Indian Newspaper Reports of Killings In Sai Baba’s Bedroom . One of the most responsible papers in India stated:

“When press persons met Mr. Indulal Shah, chief functionary of the Sri Satya Sai World Trust, after the murders of six young Sai followers in Sathya Sai Baba’s bedroom in 1993, Indulal Shah is reported as having said: ‘the matter is purely internal and we do not wish to have any law enforcement agency investigating into it.” (from The Hindu, 10-6-1993).

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:

Perhaps the day of great account will eventually come for the international Sathya Sai Organization.

At the moment, the Boy Scouts of America is under close scrutiny for its practices in dealing – and not dealing – with the sexual abuse issue. Will parents be able to trust the Boy Scouts of America organization?

Boy Scouts of America Sorely TestedIn recent articles at ‘Call For Media and Government Investigation of Sathya Sai Baba’, I have been pointing to cases in other areas which have often taken years of persistent activism by those who have exposed appalling levels of cover up by powerful institutions.

Typically found throughout all these institutions are the themes of psychological denial by the generality of followers and deliberate denial by those authorities who know the facts and go to great lengths to hide them. The amount of denigration, name-calling, distortion of what is being said, shunning, libel and defamation of those who have stood forth to reveal the facts, are also typical. They fly completely in the face of the professed ethical and spiritual teachings of those institutions, which in many cases are unexceptionable.

Call for media and government investigation of 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

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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  

………………………………………………………………….. 

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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Sexual Abuse Priests. What?! The Pope Never Knew?

Posted by Barry Pittard on March 28, 2010

Some international commentators opine that there is a net of terrible revelation closing in on Pope Benedict XVI. One revelation after another indicates that he has for many years known about the endemic sexual abuses, both of children and adults, happening within the Roman Catholic Church. And that he has, all along, failed with any probity (unless it accorded with antiquated, incredibly out-of-touch notions of an ancien régime) to act. To the contrary, he has called, all along, for secrecy. A key issue is whether any ecclesiastical authority has the right to deal with crimes within its own entity. Countless sexual abuses have not been reported to the police, and strong sections within the Catholic hierarchy have triumphed in a division between Church and State that appalls most who live in a western democracy.

See companion article to this post:  

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

The same high-handed rebuff to legal sovereignty of the secular state was, in effect, asserted by the longtime, now retired world coordinator of the Sathya Sai Organizer, Indulal Shah. See:  Indian Newspaper Reports of Killings In Sai Baba’s Bedroom . One of the most responsible papers in India stated:

“When press persons met Mr. Indulal Shah, chief functionary of the Sri Satya Sai World Trust, after the murders of six young Sai followers in Sathya Sai Baba’s bedroom in 1993, Indulal Shah is reported as having said: ‘the matter is purely internal and we do not wish to have any law enforcement agency investigating into it.” (from The Hindu, 10-6-1993).

(For further evidence of how powerful institutions which have a respectable facade nonetheless master the dark arts of cover up, I shall in an upcoming post turn to the mounting allegations of massive cover up of sexual abuse by the Boy Scouts of America, which faces watershed legal action)

If any should think that the Vatican has not been for centuries, and is not to this day, a heavy hitter in the murky world of realpolitik, they have not paused to read even the standard historical accounts. 

  

The BBC has called Sathya Sai Baba ‘the secret swami’. See:  The BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’ – A Revision . Whether they are from the top handful of universities in the world or from major international media, investigators immediately confirm the entire aptness of this appellation. Both the Vatican and the international Sathya Sai Organization deal, at their very hub, in secrecy. The unsavoury topics guarded by this clandestineness are those from which the rank-and-file members, not to mention investigators, are kept in the utmost ignorance at every opportunity possible.

In the world of power politics, ecclesiastical or secular, Machiavelli, author of ‘The Prince’ is no mere ghost. Or even Italian any more. He mentored: “A wise ruler ought never to keep faith when by doing so it would be against his interests”. Larger than life, he is everywhere kicking in heads, hearts, minds and souls of those who rise up to question elites entrenched in their power. Indeed Italy, the locus of the Vatican, gave birth to this master of statecraft-by-cunning-means. But he belongs to the murky world in every geopolitical cranny. It is said that he was President John F. Kennedy’s bedside reading.

For the cleverest and well-born boys I taught in India at the Sathya Sai college outside Bangalore, South India, and for their familial forebears, the everlasting Indian equivalent is Chanakya (known also as Kautilya), the presumed author of the treatise the ‘Arthashastra’. He predates Machiavelli by eighteen centuries, but cedes nothing to him. He counseled:  “Do not be very upright in your dealings for you would see by going to the forest that straight trees are cut down while crooked ones are left standing”. He too lives vibrantly – another ‘invisible man’. Another ‘secret swami’. Chanakya was whispered into their ears away from the rest of the family, and put into their hands for committing to memory, and otherwise communicated by networks of nods and winks. My erstwhile and much-loved students are now out in the world of power and influence doing their darndest. Some of the choicest and most history-steeped of them would, I am sure, to this day be able to look Mr Pittard in the eye with the greatest of directness, warmth and charm (just as when they last rushed up to me at Puttaparthi in 1997 after my long absence), with the terribly invisible Chanakya sitting godfatherly and approvingly on their shoulder.

Be in Puttaparthi and accompanied by any acutely well-informed Indian observer, you will have discreetly pointed out to you a not always charming gallery of those who protect Sathya Sai Baba to the nth degree.  You will be privy to a long roll-call of players in the inmost circles of power – governmental, political, armed forces, police, judicial, diplomatic, financial, industrial, and so on. Sathya Sai Baba brings vast foreign and other revenues to India, and, irrespective of what party or coalition of parties ascends in India, he is profoundly protected.

One’s ultimate discussion with oneself is whether one rolls over and cedes to the bully boys (and most in these rigid, autocratic hierarchies are indeed male) – or not.

For my observations on the current sex scandal erupting in India concerning Swami Nithynanda, see:

Why Nithyananda Sex Scandal Investigations and Not A Sathya Sai Baba Probe? In this article, I have proffered some reasons why the Nithyananda scandal has not been hushed up, in marked contrast with Sathya Sai Baba. The Pope and Sathya Sai Baba are immensely ‘big fry’. Nityananda, although reputed to have large numbers of devotees worldwide, is a minnow by comparison.

Robert Priddy

Swami ‘Paramahamsa’ Nityananda scandal – latest

Posted by robertpriddy on March 28, 2010

Investigations of sex cover-ups not ’smear campaigns’

Sai Baba school closed because of reported sex abuses

Nityananda sex scandal compounded by his lies and deceits

Nityananda video, lies and ’sex allegations’

Pope Benedict’s Standing In Grave Question

The Netherlands: More than 200 Catholics have until now reported sex assaults.
Germany: Over 250 sex assault cases are under investigation.Austria: A series of accusations of sex abuse have surfaced recently.
Ireland: Two reports in 2009 document sexual and physical abuse on a huge scale in Catholic institutions.
USA: An independent commission in 2004 received 10,667 accusations of abuses by Catholic priests from 1950 to 2002.
UK: A monk who ran a Catholic school was given 8 years prison for decades of child sexual abuse. Two other monks were convicted for sex assaults in 2007.
Australia: In 2008, there were 107 convictions in sex abuse cases connected to the Catholic Church.
New Zealand: There has been a series of accusations of sex abuses in Catholic schools.
Canada: In 1989 a newspaper exposed sex abuse in a Catholic children home in Newfoundland, after which 300 previous children homes have reported sex abuses!
Argentina: Brasil: Peru: the Philippines and Senegal have all reported similar cases.
(Source: Norsk Telegram Byrå and DPA)
See A timeline

US lawyers have released a letter with a potential to be highly damaging to Pope Benedict.

Associated Press Report

Pope under fire for transfer, letter on sex abuse

By NICOLE WINFIELD (AP) – Mar 12, 2010

VATICAN CITY — Germany’s sex abuse scandal has now reached Pope Benedict XVI: His former archdiocese disclosed that while he was archbishop a suspected pedophile priest was transferred to a job where he later abused children.

 The pontiff is also under increasing fire for a 2001 Vatican document he later penned instructing bishops to keep such cases secret.

 The revelations have put the spotlight on Benedict’s handling of abuse claims both when he was archbishop of Munich from 1977-1982 and then the prefect of the Vatican office that deals with such crimes — a position he held until his 2005 election as pope.

 And they may lead to further questions about what the pontiff knew about the scope of abuse in his native Germany, when he knew it and what he did about it during his tenure in Munich and quarter-century term at the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

………  

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, issued a statement late Friday noting that the Munich vicar-general who approved the priest’s transfer had taken “full responsibility” for the decision, seeking to remove any question about the pontiff’s potential responsibility as archbishop at the time.

Victims’ advocates weren’t persuaded.

“We find it extraordinarily hard to believe that Ratzinger didn’t reassign the predator, or know about the reassignment,” said Barbara Blaine, president and founder of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

 See remainder of report HERE

See Also

Sinead O’Connor’s statements!

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

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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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Posted in Morality, New Age, Opinion, Rationalism, Religion, South Asia, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »