Call For Media and Government Investigation

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

Posts Tagged ‘Dr John Hislop’

A Sathya Sai Saga. Barry Pittard Recollects. Part 1

Posted by Barry Pittard on July 20, 2010

For twenty-five years, I was deeply devoted to Sathya Sai Baba. He is widely regarded as India’s most famous and most politically and religiously powerful guru. At his behest, and as an unpaid service, I taught all three years intake in the Humanities degree course at the Sri Sathya Sai College at Whitefield, via Bangalore, South India (1977-1978). In particular, quite apart from a large workload with the first two years, to have been handed the college Principal’s third year English lectures was a considerable challenge for which I shall always be grateful, especially given that this was my first teaching job, except for school experience in my teaching diploma, and my coaching at a college in Australia that helped put me through university, and having also just done post-graduate theatre training.

I had already done some work at the Sri Sathya Sai College for Arts, Science and Commerce before these classes and tutorials began; for example, my own mime performance, and a two-handed performance with an actor from New York of our condensed “Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare for the senior boys along, and also supervised setting the foundations for a small library, apart from the main library. The ‘small library’, as it came to be called, eventually bloomed into a thriving cultural meeting-point. It gave me contact with boys from many parts of India, and has remained high among memories of a sort that a teacher cherishes. It meant excellent contact with students of very diverse socio-economic background right across the college. Generous funds were advanced so as to stock the ‘small library’ with books most likely to act as drawcards to students at diverse levels of interest and ability. I also originated an audio-visual acquisition committee consisting of the Principal of the college, D. Narendra Rao, (the late) Dr John Hislop (the then head of the Sathya Sai Organization in USA and latin America), and the film maker Richard Bock. See:

Timothy Conway Ph.D – On ‘The Hislop Letters’

Sai Baba films by Richard Bock

After years away, I returned to India in November 1997. When I arrived, boys I had taught – now grown men, many in a variety of professions – sped up and milled around. Here and in other places, there was a joy of reunion after long absence. Any fond old teacher’s heart gladdens at the sight of former students, and with rare exceptions. One feels that one has lived not in vain. There is a vital strain within India culture which holds learning, including secular learning, sacred indeed.

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This series continues at:

A Sathya Sai Saga. Barry Pittard Recollects. Part 2

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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

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Posted in New Age, Opinion, Religion, South Asia, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Cultic Behaviour and Lack of Accountability (Sathya Sai Organization Example)

Posted by Barry Pittard on December 22, 2009

In mid 1982, at Puttaparthi, I spoke to two prominent devotees about concerns being raised sub voce that Sathya Sai Baba had been engaged in sexual activities with young males. One of the reports was that he been involved in such activities since he was young, and that this was quite common knowledge within Puttaparthi and district. 

The two were Richard Bayer, then a high official in the Sathya Sai Organization, organization, and (the late) Howard Murphet, Australian journalist and renowned author of several books on Sai Baba. Murphet was typically gracious but Bayer was shockingly rude, chastising me for daring to breathe such a topic, then turning angrily on his heel and striding away. Bayer’s deplorable behaviour implied that one may not, with any trust, raise issues with Sathya Sai Baba’s handpicked leaders. 

I have since heard from  a series of reliable sources that Richard Bayer has been high-handed with many other followers of Sai Baba in general. Indeed, many Sai devotees realize and quietly lament the highly egotistical nature of some of the leaders Sai Baba appoints, passing it off as “Baba’s Leela,” and a test of the tolerance of the devotees, and the like. It is also said that he has left the Sathya Sai Organization.

Like many other top-level leaders of the Sathya Sai Organization, Richard Bayer has much to answer for in general. For example, we have clear documentation that Bayer was one of the officials present at times when reports alleging sexual molestation of males were presented to Dr Hislop and others. We have written evidence that, as far back as 1980-1, when regional director, Richard Bayer told the mother of one abused male youth that the boy was lying. What was this – no pause to consider that a mother may know her son well?

In the face of serious accusations, responsible organizations have proper processes. As though to waste my breath, I raised this point with T. Sri Ramananthan, for many years head of the Australian Sathya Sai Organization, yet another individual known for his ruthless, autocratic treatment of devotees. He too would hear none of what is, after all, uncontentious proposition. His draconian treatment of a loved spiritual coordinator in South Australia, Stephen Carthew, I have recently written of:  Stephen Carthew, A Voice of Testimony From Australia, On The Dangers of Cults.

My colleague Robert Priddy, former head of the Sathya Sai Organization, Norway, and retired academic from the University of Oslo, has recently again been looking at what we have come to refer to as the Hislop letters. These are essential documents for any serious investigator to analyse with the greatest of care. In its investigation, the BBC – which traveled to the USA and India in the research phases that led to ‘The Secret Swami’ – treated these letters very seriously, although there have been scurrilous attempts to try to distort the facts about them:

Sathya Sai Organization’s abuse cover-up & unaccountability

Letter by John Hislop to Sathya Sai Organization leaders

Revealing letters on sexual abuse claims by Dr. John Hislop

The Hislop letters – part one [Timothy Conway on Gerald Moreno]

Timothy Conway, Ph.D

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

(c) Copyright 2007, by Timothy Conway, PhD

Barry Pittard

Timothy Conway Ph.D – On ‘The Hislop Letters’

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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, Opinion, Religion, South Asia, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Brian Steel On Dr John Hislop’s Gift From Sathya Sai Baba – Idol claimed to have wood from cross of Jesus

Posted by Barry Pittard on July 28, 2009

Among commentators, Brian Steel has done especial service in portraying the sheer impact and spread of the works of Sathya Sai Baba’s early apostles and popularizers. Especially prominent among these are Dr John Hislop (the first Sai Baba organizational leader outside India), Howard Murphet, Dr Samuel Sandweis, Phyllis Krystal.
 

Today’s blog note continues my series highlighting – all too selectively – certain aspects of Brian Steel’s work. As I have pointed out, it would be a great pity if – because his opus is vast, and also because most of his work is not blogged but contained on his websites (See details below) – his extremely valuable work were to suffer any eclipse. My recent articles on Steel’s work are:

Brian Steel Demythologizes Early Foreign-led Sathya Sai Baba Myths

Brian Steel On John Hislop’s 27 Years as Sathya Sai Baba’s Spokesman

Brian Steel On Sathya Sai Baba’s Credibility Gap. John Hislop Contributions

Demythologizing Sathya Sai Baba

 There are many other writers, and when I worked as a publisher’s editor in Sai Towers, Puttaparthi, I counted over 600 books in the collection of R.Padmanaban, the publisher. Random checks showed that almost all of them were very hagiographical, and poorly written, commonly self-published or with the non-professional aid of others. None of their works has had anything like the impact of the books by the above , and also the same authors’ talks in various parts of the world. In Sai Baba circles, these figures have attained an almost god status. One hears them referred to as “rishis”, “saints”, “apostles”, and so forth. 

Although the alleged miracles of Sathya Sai Baba appear to be endless, there are a few which have especially captured the popular imagination and devotion of many of his followers, irrespective of their levels of education. One of these is the iconic crucifix, which Sai Baba ostensibly materialized for Jack Hislop at the mahashivratri festival in 1973.

Sai Baba told Hislop that he – by his divine powers – fetched the wood on which the idol is hung from the wood of the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.

Sathya Sai Baba Crucifix: Miraculously materialized?

  Sathya Sai Baba Crucifix: Miraculously materialized?

For those wishing some key backgrounding on this ‘miracle’, there is a fairly brief but succinct page by the Norwegian academic and former leader of the Sathya Sai Organization in Norway, Robert Priddy

Alleged miracle crucifix materialised for Dr. John Hislop

He has blogged at: 

Faked “miracle”: crucifix given by Sai Baba to Dr. Hislop

Brian D.Steel On Dr John Hislop and Sai Baba’s Crucifix Gift

The following two quotes are excerpts from Brian Steel’s long and detailed article, which deals with various aspects relating to Hislop, his relationship with Sai Baba, and role in hugely extending the Sai movement world-wide: Sathya Sai Baba’s credibility gap: Contributions by John Hislop(Brian Steel. January 2009).

(Note: there is an important companion piece to this: Sathya Sai Baba, Elsie and Walter Cowan, and John Hislop. A Discredited 1971 Resurrection Claim (Brian Steel. February 2009). He comments on the book My Baba and I  by Dr. John Hislop, [1985: Birth Day Publishing, San Diego]:

“For tens (or perhaps hundreds) of thousands of readers, this has been one of the principal introductory books on Sathya Sai Baba. It has been translated into many languages. The title was chosen by Sathya Sai Baba himself (p. vi). The book deals with Hislop’s prolonged and intimate experiences of SSB’s teachings, some miracles (most notably that of the famous Crucifix allegedly materialised for Hislop by SSB from wood reconstituted from the True Cross on Mahasivaratri Day, 1973). The experiences are followed by 22 supplementary conversations (January 1978-October 1984), and a treasure trove of letters from SSB to Hislop (as well as a few from Hislop to SSB) written between 1969 and 1983, during the important formative years of the American Sathya Sai Organization, of which Hislop was such a prominent figure”. 

“This famous icon, however implausible, has been the object of endless fascination for devotees. Photographs of the crucifix are available in the front pages of My Baba and I and in many other books, including those by Fanibunda, Sandweiss, Peter Phipps (Sathya Sai Baba and Jesus Christ. A Gospel for the Golden Age – and also in his second book on a similar theme). That the surreal icon still has the full backing of the SSO is evident in its inclusion in a recent compilation published by the SSSBPT, Be Like Jesus). Indeed, almost 40 years after the alleged event (in October 2008), when I was visiting the Bombay SSO Centre (Dharmakshetra), a young devotee who took it upon himself to show me round and tell me about SSB, insisted at the end of our meeting that the best book for me to start with would be John Hislop’s My Baba and I, and he specifically mentioned a crucifix materialised for the revered American devotee. This special crucifix – whatever its provenance – has been, and remains, an outstandingly powerful advertisement for Sathya Sai Baba’s alleged omnipotence”. 

 

See also, Robert Priddy’s compilation of resources:  Sai Deceptions. Fraud, Legerdemain, Rumour-spreading and Lies By Sathya Sai Baba 

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Select writings from Brian Steel’s Extensive Opus

Sathya Sai Baba can be documented by any conscientious reader as having made contradictory statements and egregious historical and scientific blunders. These include his remarks on Jesus Christ and Martin Luther . For Steel’s detailed and sharply contextualized discussion, see: Sai Baba and Christianity. Some Observations (2002). Steel remarks here the alarming “extent of Sai Baba’s inventiveness”. This can be instructively read in concert with his Basic Notes On Sai Baba’s Credibility Problem (2004)

Brian Steel Indexes

Barry Pittard’s Earlier Articles On Brian Steel

Revealing Materials On Sai Baba Of India

Brian Steel’s Surprise Visit To Sathya Sai Baba’s Ashram

William Aitken’s Book Fails to Answer Sai Baba Critics

For Brian Steel’s detailed exposure of severe inadequacies of a foremost Sai Baba hagiographer mentioned in this article refer to Steel’s:

Bill Aitken and Sathya Sai Baba. A Writer’s Dilemma,

on William Aitken’s book, ‘Sri Sathya Sai Baba. A Life (New Delhi, Penguin Books, India, 2004. Paperback edition, 2006) 

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General
Excerpt From Public Petition

(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)

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

Brian Steel Demythologizes Early Foreign-led Sathya Sai Baba Myths

Posted by Barry Pittard on July 23, 2009

My previous blog was: Brian Steel On John Hislop’s 27 Years as Sathya Sai Baba’s SpokesmanIt refers to the article: Sathya Sai Baba’s credibility gap: Contributions by John Hislop. (Brian Steel. January 2009).

This latter article, as one expects of Brian Steel, is scholarly and readable. Considerable length and attention to minute detail distinguish his work.  Recognizing that many of my readers have heavy demands on their time, I shall, in a series of blogs, select what I think are some of the key lines of his investigations. The reader may like to pick and chose among these – or else, of course, aim to read deeply into Steel.

At the moment, I am drawing attention to some more recent work of Steel, whose books while yet a follower of Sathya Sai Baba were highly-regarded, as they are now by ex-devotees and other critics of the Sathya Sai cult. Those who have time – perhaps for exhaustive academic, media investigative or book preparation purposes – will find Steel’s work indispensable. It is vast and rigorous. Some who wish to recapture some of the steps in the saga that led them to accept or reject one or more than one aspect of the Sathya Sai Baba phenomenon will also find a considerable historic overview and many sources that have taken Steel an immense effort to assemble. I should think that readers whether pro or contra Sai Baba’s perception of his role, inasmuch as they are level-headed, will greatly appreciate the balance, calm and seriousness of Brian Steel’s writing.

Given the vastness of Steel’s endeavour, and the fact that he blogs only occasionally on these topics at his blogsite  – http://briansteel.wordpress.com – it is important that his work does not languish for due attention. (For further links to his work, see resources at the foot of this note)

In my previous blog (see abover link), I quoted from Brian Steel where he refers to one of the key areas of contest in regard to the credibility of Sathya Sai Baba’s own and his devotees claims as to his divinity. Here he mentions the scans available at:  ‘Professor Erlendur Haraldsson contests Sai Baba’s claim of resurrection as bogus’. At the foot of this material, the editor (Robert Priddy) has placed an ‘anchor’ which leads to the precisely relevant paragraphs in a longer article:  Misleading Evangelism (Updated) , Brian Steel  November 2002.

For those wishing to consider Dr John Hislop’s reportages, and those of others, in regard to the alleged resurrection of the early devotee, the wealthy American Walter Cowan, there is a Steel companion piece: 

Sathya Sai Baba, Elsie and Walter Cowan, and John Hislop.
A Discredited 1971 Resurrection Claim
(Brian Steel. February 2009)

This details a good deal further the onset of American interest in Sathya Sai Baba circa 1965-1970. Steel lists key American followers of this period who had already emarked in actively publicising him in the USA.

“By 1971, the following Americans had already been attracted to Sathya Sai Baba and were already publicising his name back in USA: Indra Devi and Hilda Charlton (major independent early proselytisers, 1965- ), Arnold Schulman, Charles Penn, Hilda Charlton, Bob Rayman (or Reiman), Elsie and Walter Cowan, Dr John Hislop, Tal Brooke and Howard Levin. (All, except Schulman, became devotees and proselytisers, and Tal Brooke had already become the first ‘defector’ and critic.) 1971 saw the publication of the first books about SSB by foreigners Schulman and (Australian) Howard Murphet. Phyllis Krystal and Dr Samuel Sandweiss would be drawn to meet SSB in 1972, the businessman Isaac Tigrett in 1973 and Robert A. Bozzani in 1974. The 1970s would see a strong general growth in foreign devotee numbers and Sathya Sai Organisation Centres but it was the Americans who were the original driving force behind international recognition and worship of Sathya Sai Baba.

By 1965, with the formation of the first Sathya Sai Samithis (Centres), and later the Sathya Sai Seva Organisation under the capable leadership of Indulal Shah, an effective corporate structure had begun to take shape, to be followed by a rapid expansion in India of SSO Centres and in quick succession, All-India Conferences of members and (a few years later) International Conferences. By 1974, with the inauguration of the Sathya Sai Baba Association of the Americas and Canada, the Sathya Sai Organisation would be launched on a significantly wider international expansion of its activities”.

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Select writings from Brian Steel’s Extensive Opus

Sathya Sai Baba can be documented by any conscientious reader as having made contradictory statements and egregious historical and scientific blunders. These include his remarks on Jesus Christ and Martin Luther . For Steel’s detailed and sharply contextualized discussion, see: Sai Baba and Christianity. Some Observations (2002). Steel remarks here the alarming “extent of Sai Baba’s inventiveness”. This can be instructively read in concert with his Basic Notes On Sai Baba’s Credibility Problem (2004)

Brian Steel Indexes

Barry Pittard On Brian Steel

Revealing Materials On Sai Baba Of India

Brian Steel’s Surprise Visit To Sathya Sai Baba’s Ashram

William Aitken’s Book Fails to Answer Sai Baba Critics

For Brian Steel’s detailed exposure of severe inadequacies of a foremost Sai Baba hagiographer mentioned in this article refer to Steel’s:

Bill Aitken and Sathya Sai Baba. A Writer’s Dilemma,

on William Aitken’s book, ‘Sri Sathya Sai Baba. A Life (New Delhi, Penguin Books, India, 2004. Paperback edition, 2006) 

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General

Excerpt From Public Petition

(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)

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

Brian Steel On Sathya Sai Baba’s Credibility Gap. John Hislop Contributions

Posted by Barry Pittard on July 16, 2009

In some ways, it is regrettable that scholarly habits can limit readership. It is fortunate that Brian Steel writes clearly. Now retired, his background is in academic studies and teaching at a leading Australian university. His fairly lengthy January 2009 piece Sathya Sai Baba’s credibility gap: Contributions by John Hislop deserves to see light of day.  One might well think that thoughtful readers who still adhere to Sathya Sai Baba would, nonetheless, still be among Steel’s appreciative readers. They certainly appreciated his writing when he followed Sathya Sai Baba and wrote notable works in that area. Other readers who likely to find value in Steel’s writing would surely include those who have left the Sathya Sai Baba fold who appreciate historic overviews of the movement of which they have been a part. The calmness and balance of the writing are key strengths.

QUOTE

“For many Sathya Sai Baba devotees, Dr John Hislop (between 1965 and 1995), the Australian devotee, Howard Murphet (between 1965 and 2004), and the American psychiatrist Dr Samuel Sandweiss (1971-), are the three foreign (non-Hindu) devotees who have contributed the most to the propagation of SSB’s teachings and stories, both through their passionate books on SSB and their enthusiastic talks and lectures to devotee groups all over the English-speaking world and beyond. However, it was the mild, humble but spiritually questing Hislop who achieved the closest personal rapport with his “Swami”. Sathya Sai Baba, in return, responded fully to his devotee’s constant respectful and appreciative questioning and performed some of his most sensational (and, it must be added, least credible) ‘miracles’ for Hislop’s benefit. Therefore, Hislop’s individual influence in disseminating these extraordinary aspects of the SSB story and his teachings is incalculable.

The proselytising work of all three of the above-named foreign devotees (along with other spokespersons and writers) is also of considerable interest for the study of the development of the Sathya Sai Baba Mission, as I have attempted to explain elsewhere on this web page. Between 1943 and approximately 1965, SSB had concentrated on his Indian “constituency” (which remains, and will continue to be, the largest). With the formation of the first Sathya Sai Seva Samithisin about 1963, and the Sathya Sai Organisation in 1965, when Indulal Shah became a prime associate and organiser, a major expansion began (coinciding also with the sudden Western interest in India marked by the Beatles and “the Maharishi”). In 1969, after 26 years of Sathya Sai Baba’s close association with the name of Shirdi Sai Baba, this familiar name disappears from his Discourses (though not from worship within the SSB ashrams and Centres) for about twenty years and quite suddenly (as I have also documented), Sathya Sai Baba develops a strong interest in discoursing on Jesus Christ and the perceived similarities between the two teachers. As I show more fully in my companion article, the American interest in SSB had become quite strong during the period 1965-1970. By 1971, the following Americans had been attracted to SSB and were already publicising his name back in USA:

Indra Devi, Arnold Schulman, Charles Penn, Hilda Charlton, Bob Rayman, Elsie and Walter Cowan, Dr John Hislop, Tal Brooke and Howard Levin. (All, except Schulman, became devotees and proselytisers, although Tal Brooke was also soon to become the first ‘defector’ and critic.) 1971 saw the publication of the first books about SSB by foreigners: (American) Schulman (Baba) and (Australian) Howard Murphet (Sai Baba [sic]. Man of Miracles). The 1970s would see a strong growth in foreign devotee numbers and SSO Centres.

Following the creation of SSB Centres in New York and California and the opening of Elsie Cowan’s Sathya Sai bookshop in Tustin, California, the American Sathya Sai Organisation was formed in 1974, with Hislop as President. (It may be of interest to point out that the creation of the US SSO was largely carried out by Christians, Jews and New ‘Agers’ rather than by Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) as was the case in some other countries, notably UK, which had a growing NRI population including recent refugees from East Africa). The U.S. Sathya Sai Organization was quickly to become by far the largest and most influential – and independent – of all the overseas national SSOs. Although a promised visit from Sathya Sai Baba to USA did not materialise, his close associate Dr Gokak toured U.S. (and UK) SSO Centres in 1974″.

Select writings from Brian Steel’s Extensive Opus

Sathya Sai Baba can be documented by any conscientious reader as having made contradictory statements and egregious historical and scientific blunders. These include his remarks on Jesus Christ and Martin Luther . For Steel’s detailed and sharply contextualized discussion, see: Sai Baba and Christianity. Some Observations (2002). Steel remarks here the alarming “extent of Sai Baba’s inventiveness”. This can be instructively read in concert with his Basic Notes On Sai Baba’s Credibility Problem (2004)

Brian Steel Indexes

Barry Pittard On Brian Steel

Revealing Materials On Sai Baba Of India

Brian Steel’s Surprise Visit To Sathya Sai Baba’s Ashram

William Aitken’s Book Fails to Answer Sai Baba Critics

For Brian Steel’s detailed exposure of severe inadequacies of a foremost Sai Baba hagiographer mentioned in this article refer to Steel’s:

Bill Aitken and Sathya Sai Baba. A Writer’s Dilemma,

on William Aitken’s book, ‘Sri Sathya Sai Baba. A Life (New Delhi, Penguin Books, India, 2004. Paperback edition, 2006)

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See:  Petition For Official Investigation Into Sathya Sai Baba Cult

Posted in Miracles, New Age, Opinion, Religion, South Asia, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Timothy Conway Ph.D on: The Crucial John Hislop Letters

Posted by Barry Pittard on July 24, 2008

Very few former followers of Sathya Sai Baba have responded to the extraordinary attacks on the integrity of those many who have left him, having made their own enquiries.

These attacks continue year after year.

The ex-devotees do not at all agree with everything that has been written against their former teacher or his cult, and deeply deplore those writings against him, or his international Sathya Sai Organization, whose language is heated and contains nasty put-downs of those who defend Sathya Sai Baba or his devotees viewpoints.

Most serious Sathya Sai Baba followers and most former followers are good and decent people. They have long been noted as being so in their jobs, places of study and communities at large.

Agreeing with a person’s right to their opinion is very far removed from agreeing with that opinion. What one has seen in some of the forums has been enough to make one not want to read them – and this is surely true of the offerings by the hotheads of either side.

Therefore, atttempts at the classic ploy of ‘guilt-by-association’ is reprehensible indeed.

And no doubt, most Sathya Sai Baba devotees, inasmuch as they view these related topics on the Internet, are appalled by the shocking departure by the main pro Sathya Sai Baba defenders from civil discourse. There is extensive resort to poor arguments, distortion of contexts and character assassination. Likewise, most former Sathya Sai Baba devotees find abhorrent the crudeness, nastiness and vilification evinced by an extremely small minority of former devotees.

Former devotees who have named key servitors of Sathya Sai Baba (as indeed have I) do not sink to ad hominem arguments, which are distinguishable from playing-the-man by requiring accountability from those who have major public roles in the Sathya Sai Organization and who should be held accountable. Naming an individual and asking for answers can only be mistaken for ad hominem by those who distort deliberately or else out of extraordinary ignorance.

One of the very few who have responded (not in the discussion forums etc., but in the locales listed in the links below) – on a particular issue – is Timothy Conway Ph.D.

This was because it involved, as he uniquely is able to do, authenticating vital documents that the Sathya Sai Organization heads (such as Dr John Hislop and Dr Michael Goldstein), since 1982, in the USA never intended its membership, let alone the world, to see. His reply to an vehement antagonist is of the quality that one would like to see excercised by any Satha Sai Baba follower or ex-Sai Baba follower whose integrity had been assailed. Indeed, this same quality of decency and moderation of language has been shown by some of Sathya Sai Baba’s former students who have testified that he is not guilty of the terrible allegations that have been made, worldwide, against him.

Some Key Documents

Timothy Conway’s Update

Timothy Conway PH.D confirms the Hislop letters

Formal statement provided to Exbaba.com by Timothy Conway Ph. D. concerning the Hislop letters

Click here to access Timothy Conway’s website

An article in which Timothy Conway outlines many key issues

Posted in Religion, Sai Baba, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Timothy Conway Ph.D – On ‘The Hislop Letters’

Posted by Barry Pittard on December 18, 2007

Before resigning in February 2001 – following his investigation of allegations of Sai Baba’s multi-faceted abuse – Timothy Conway Ph.D had been a respected member of the US Sathya Sai Baba movement (president of the large San Francisco center and a liaison-consultant for Northern California in the early to mid-1980s), as well as a longtime member of Santa Barbara, CA, Sai Center since 1988 (in addition to hosting the local Ammachi satsang and his own spiritual groups). Timothy’s key interest has been comparative East-West spiritual traditions, not just emphasizing intellectual expertise but concerned with actual living of the insights and precepts. An independent scholar with a background in psychology, Timothy is a respected lecturer and author of several outstandingly well-reviewed books (Women of Power And Grace and the forthcoming two-volume India’s Sages and other works). See his well-written and wide-ranging Enlightened Spirituality website for much more, details below.

Timothy Conway has just released (December 2007) his clarification of points raised about very indicting letters that were circulated (see dates, etc., in the scans listed below) to peak leaders of the US Sathya Sai Organization by former head, the late Dr John Hislop. This December 2007 update is the first reference in the links below, listed under Resources.

timothy-conway-phd-2005.jpgTimothy Conway, Ph.D, 2005

Authenticity of The Hislop Letters

Assisted by trusted former devotee networks, many of whose members had long previous association with Sathya Sai Baba and his movement, Timothy Conway investigated some of the abuse allegations, most notably, serial sexual molestation of boys and young men, after which he resigned as a matter of principle, an action taken by many worldwide, and indeed, though the occasion was different, a repeat of history, except that after 2000 the exit was on a far larger scale, when members had earlier left because of the strong signs of a profound cover up by Sai Baba and his officials and Indian central and state governments at the time of the June 6, 1993 police killings in Sai Baba’s bedroom. 

The Hazards of Speaking Out

As invariably happens when speaking up about Sai Baba or his global cult, the Sathya Sai Organization, Timothy Conway has been attacked – but not of course by those who have respected him down many years as a man of integrity, love, and care for others. He has made public – including (in April 2004) to the BBC in its preparatory and intensive researches of several months for its documentary The Secret Swami (June 2004), what have become known as ‘The Hislop Letters’ (See links below). At my request, he also made a notarized sworn testimony as to the proper provenance of the letters, which had come into his possession via his precessor, see below)

Hislop Letters Further Evidence of Failure of Duty Of Care and Accountability By U.S. Heads of Sathya Sai Organization

Courteously and with great patience, Timothy Conway has recently responded to attacks on the authenticity of these letters, and on himself personally.

The letters indicate that foremost leaders of the Sathya Sai Baba Council of America, such as Dr Michael Goldstein, Bob Bozzani, Phyllis Kristal, Richard Bayer, Dr William Harvey and others have long known (at least since early 1981 when the memos were written) of the sexual abuse allegations, but not acted with duty of care and other forms of accountability. The wider membership in both the USA and other countries were kept in the dark. Still further, given that they have been told by Sai Baba not to look at dissenting views of him on the Internet, many remain in that dark.

Most Former Devotee Dissenters Do Not Respond To The Attacks

Most former devotees will not respond to attacks on themselves, and have spent years of spiritual practice aimed at rising above nastiness, vindictiveness and various type of falsity. Especially because of the extreme fanaticism of certain of pro Sai Baba apologists, they prefer to share their evidence with bona fide, third party investigators of repute, such as the world’s most responsible media, UNESCO, governments, law enforcement agencies such as Interpol and FBI, leading religious and civic institutions, academics researching the Sathya Sai Baba phenomenon, etc. The obstacles to getting convictions have been stupendous. Indeed, former members of other powerful groups have found the same difficulties – for example, patterns of denial, cover up, slander, libel, shunning, harassment, suppression of evidence, misrepresentation of the viewpoints of those who have spoken out about abuse by guru and cult, and so forth.

Around the world, the good name of many former devotees like Timothy Conway was not at stake when they were Sai Baba followers – often for decades of dedicated service – and is not indeed at stake in their professions, trades and wider communities.

Resources

Timothy Conway’s Update (referred to at beginning of this blogpost)

Earlier documents

Timothy Conway PH.D confirms the Hislop letters

Formal statement provided to Exbaba.com by Timothy Conway Ph. D. concerning the Hislop letters

Click here to access Timothy Conway’s websitetimothy-conway-website-banner.jpg‘Enlightened Spirituality’

An article in which Timothy Conway outlines many key issues, in historical perspective – including acute spiritual concerns and personal resolutions – relating to dissent from Sathya Sai Baba. I highly recommend this article as a mature, clear, very readable account.

The Sun Magazine Interview by Arnie Cooper, 2003, Issue 328

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Petition

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

There is a Spanish version available:

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

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Posted in Neglected/sidelined News, New Age, Religion, Sai Baba, Spirituality, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 17 Comments »

Guru Sex Abuse Testimony To BBC – After Years of Silence

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 11, 2007

In the interests of establishing a new life for himself, Mark Roche, who had quit Sai Baba at the beginning of the 90’s, preferred overall not to have contact with either devotees or former devotees.

The issue was very sensitive with him, as is typical with those who have been sexually traumatized and who feel their deepest trust in their spiritual master betrayed (the latter of which is also a severe ordeal in itself, as many former devotees know who have not been sexually abused). In this way, painful and confusing memories are far easier to suppress.

Click Here for video clip of Mark Roche interview from The Secret Swami, BBC 2, This World, first screened, Thursday 17, 2004.

Over the years, international coordinators like the late Glen Meloy, Robert Priddy and me, Barry Pittard, have gone out of our way – trustfully without, at the same time, being somehow wishy-washy – not to pressure witnesses into going public. A great many have decided not to speak out, although some say that given others coming out in an organized way, such as in a law court, they may reconsider. We have put a case for either a) speaking out publicly or, at least, b) providing private documentation, or c) giving moral support to others among former devotees who also give abuse accounts.

Glen Meloy. Historic Figure in Exposing Sai Baba and His Worldwide Cult

In late 2003, Glen Meloy and Mark Roche, who had mostly been out of contact for some years, began dialog via phone and email. But Roche, like many others with survival accounts, wanted to ‘move on’, and was not ready to go public. He had shared his account with almost no-one. An exception was a friend of three decades, Sharon Purcell, who was also closely associated with Walter and Elsie Cowan, Dr Hislop and other original and significant Sai Baba leaders. Looked at with hindsight, a document that Glen Meloy, a dear and trusted friend of the Purcell family for many years, long ago posted on the Internet reveals this in its own way – for the man who is not named there was, in fact, Mark Roche:

“In 1972, Walter Cowan allegedly died in India, and there are many stories alleging that Sai Baba raised him from the dead after he had suffered a heart attack and his orifices had been stuffed with cotton and his body hauled off to the morgue.

Later, Sharon’s long term male friend whom Baba had sexually molested by forcing his penis into the devotee’s mouth and then ejaculating his sperm would tell her that the resurrection stories were not true and that he was an eye witness to what really happened. This person is also known to me and told me the same incidents. The accounts of Cowan’s personal physicians completely contradict the resurrection claims that Dr. Hislop and many others have been making for 29 years in print and in many lectures and retreats around the world”.

See, Sharon Purcell’s Personal Story HERE. My recollection of a beloved friend to many is available in .pdf HERE or in .htm HEREIn Memoriam – Glen Meloy (“Standing up for truth and goodness“). Mrs Purcell’s son Satch (Sathya or Satya) Purcell, who was named by Sai Baba when a babe has written of his experiences when a member of a group of teenagers and young men led by Hal Honig visited Sai Baba in 1993. It is found by going HERE, then clicking on the News tab and selecting entry for 05-22-07.

Hal Honig. Investigators Need To Query Him

A list of 16 questions asked of Hal Honig – about whom, on the basis of documentation that is ready to be sworn to in a court of law by its author – I have filed a report to the FBI via the U.S.A. Embassy in Canberra, Australia, is found in my article Will Sai Baba Keep Hal Honig Smiling? HERE. Strangely – and one may query whether compromisingly – Hal Honig is a member of the Sathya Sai Central Council of the U.S.A., National Executive Commitee for Sai Young Adults, and National Seva (Sanskrit=Service) Coordinator Service Projects (which includes teaching needy youth)

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

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Posted in Morality, Neglected/sidelined News, New Age, Protest, Rationalism, Religion, Scandal, Sex, Skeptics, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Dr Timothy Conway’s Summary of Ullrich Zimmermann Interview

Posted by Barry Pittard on January 27, 2007

Here is a summary shared with me by Timothy Conway Ph.D of Part 2. of Ullrich Zimmermann’s three-part interview which describes inappropriate sexual conduct – including getting Ullrich to suck his penis – towards him by Sathya Sai Baba at: http://blip.tv/file/127606 .

(The remaining material is at:

http://blip.tv/file/125164 .  Part 1. and: http://blip.tv/file/127950 . Part 3). I have asked and received Dr Conway’s permission to post his summary).

From Santa Barbara, USA, author of several books and many learned papers, Dr Conway has specialised in Social Science and in comparative religions of the East and West. You can check out his extremely comprehensive, multi-faceted website, http://www.enlightened-spirituality.org –which also has a long, specific page rebutting SSB’s various “true believer” defenders and clarifying different truth-levels at: www.enlightened-spirituality.org/Sathya_Sai_Baba_my_concerns.html

Dr Conway is a former well-respected leader in the Sathya Sai Organization, leaving it, like many others, including prominent leaders, after carefully investigating allegations by under-age males or in some cases their families who gave compelling accounts of sexual abuse by Sathya Sai Baba.

On a separate but germane issue, see the following links. These relate to Dr Conway’s sworn statement verifying the provenance of the implicating internal letters of the late Dr John Hislop that show a) a mix of psychological denial, dereliction of duty-of-care, and b) a cover-up by Hislop and those circularized from their own congregations: See links here and here.

Dr Timothy Conway’s summary:

“All words in quotations are the exact words that Ullrich Zimmermann uses in his video interview:

In a video-filmed interview of seven years ago but not previously released, Ullrich Zimmermann, strongly heterosexual and not at all gay, tells his account of SSB’s “white tantra” with him at age 21; he describes how SSB in each of his first two interviews raised his orange robe and wanted Ullrich to suck on his penis. Ullrich’s mother, who he told of the episodes, was a devotee of SSB and Ullrich totally “trusted” SSB to do the right thing for him, and had heard something about the tantra tradition, so he went along with SSB’s wishes. On the first occasion, SSB kissed him fully on the mouth after rubbing Ullrich’s stomach and chest area with oil that he materialized. Ullrich felt “awkward” over the kiss. SSB took his hand to SSB’s groin area and had him feel SSB’s crotch through his orange robe; the first time it felt like a female; the second time like a male. Ullrich felt at the time that SSB was trying to thereby indicate that this was not about sex. Then SSB pulled up his own robe and requested Ullrich to suck on his erect penis. Again, Ullrich trusted SSB and did it dispassionately for about 90 seconds. Ullrich did not notice any ejaculation and did not see SSB appearing very involved in the act; he appeared “remote.” Then the experience was over and so was the interview. Afterwards, Ullrich says he felt “dumbfounded,” and rationalized it as “white tantra.” Some 30 minutes later he began to feel completely elated with spiritual joy. Ullrich says that SSB had said that he would “completely change him” and sure enough Ullrich, strongly heterosexual and “filled with testosterone,” no longer felt attracted to women’s “tits and butts” after this. Ullrich says that the two sexual experiences with SSB were very “awkward” for him. On the second occasion, he pulled away from sucking on SSB’s penis after only a short time, feeling the whole thing awkward. Upon pulling away, Ullrich saw out of the corner of his own eye a vector of light shooting off in a direction from the angle of the penis, and he felt that this vector of energy was meant for him, i.e., as an energetic shakti empowerment, “a very giving and tantric experience.” For legal purposes, it is noteworthy that Ullrich describes in detail SSB’s anatomy–hairless legs and genitals, with a “childlike penis.” Also noteworthy is that Ullrich on his second interview asked SSB about his brother Peter. SSB at first didn’t know that Peter had died, but nonchalantly said, “He’s fine, he’s fine.” But when Ullrich told him Peter had died, SSB fell silent for about 5 seconds, then said, “Drugs. Bad company, bad company.” Which was true. Peter had become a daredevil, did drugs–his lifestyle was evidently induced by associating with “bad company.” There would be for Ullrich a total of 5 interviews, 2 rings and an amulet materialized, but sex only on the first two interviews. Ullrich reflects on his experiences and says he doesn’t feel “abused” or that SSB was harming him. He feels that SSB totally changed his personality, opening him up energetically. Ullrich says that years later he disconnected from SSB, feeling that, beyond all the interesting energy experiences, SSB doesn’t help people become truly spiritually liberated and God-realized, “becoming your own master in your own Divine power.” Ullrich also expresses concerns about the male youth even younger than himself who are having these experiences in what is evidently being cryptically called “the banana club” around SSB. Zimmermann makes mention of meeting face to face at least one other male youth who had these sexual advances made upon him by SSB”.

Note: A very useful, quite detailed page by Robert Priddy on the Ullrich Zimmermann interviews has just gone up at: http://home.chello.no/~reirob/Z/index.htm

For Online Viewing and/or Dowloading

Resources

The Secret Swami (BBC Television) Broadband 154 MB

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

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