Call For Media and Government Investigation

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

Posts Tagged ‘Indulal Shah’

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

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

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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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The Mystification of Sathya Sai Baba Devotees

Posted by Barry Pittard on August 30, 2011

Recently,  Sathya Sai Baba devotees have suffered terrible shocks. To devotees with any reasoning capabilities intact, no amount of Sathya Sai Central Trust’s spin-doctoring will do.  It is little wonder that some leaders in the Sathya Sai Organization with more developed democratic tendencies have long fell foul of those such as Indulal Shah. The difficulty here was always there was the thought that Shah and other leaders, however autocratic and unpleasant their manner, were, after all, but mouth-pieces for Sathya Sai Baba. Little did they know …..

Many followers were forced to consider that those servitors, handpicked by Sathya Sai Baba himself, have been party to extremely unaccountable, poor explanations surrounding his sickness and death. They learn, if they did not already know, or else had forgotten, that he foretold that he would die circa 2022 AD. It could not be lost on at least some devotees that many of his prophecies and promises did not materialise. Such anomalies were many.

In the extraordinary confusion of the recent events, the Central Trust tried to explain matters away. However (most sensibly from their point of view) they quickly reverted to their old ruse of saying nothing, and occasionally almost nothing.

What happens commonly with psychological trauma happens, of course, with Sai Baba followers, too. The victims go into psychological denial more intense than they have ever experienced.  After ignoring the extensive documentation of former devotees and other critics of Sai Baba for over a decade, devotees at last got to learn of Sathya Sai Baba’s incredible secrecy, and that of his leaders.

To be sure, what former devotees and other critics of Sathya Sai Baba did not know was the incredible hoarding of billions in various currencies and gold, silver and precious gems, and many luxury goods, the latter of which have been mouldering away in a manner not entirely unlike, I have suggested, poor Miss Havisham’s circumstances in Charles Dickens’ novel ‘Great Expectations’: When Perfumes Reek: Lavish Scents, Shampoos etc., Among Sai Baba Secret Treasure Hoard. Posted by Barry Pittard on July 24, 2011

The events leading up to Sai Baba’s death, the death itself, and the aftermath of infighting about the succession by his chief servitors, became known throughout India – namely, Satyajit (alias Yatish Salian, Sai Baba’s longtime paramour and favourite), V. Srinivasan, and R.J.Ratnakar

Satyajit (Yatish Salian), Sathya Sai Baba Favorite

about all of whom there is much mystification among many Sathya Sai Baba devotees. See:  Sathya Sai Trust’s R.J.Ratnakar – Long Police Interrogation. Intensive Investigations Continue. Posted by Barry Pittard on June 26, 2011.

The events were so newsworthy that a media which – unlike the international press to whom a number of us long ago convinced of the worthiness of our accounts of Sathya Sai Baba  –  has almost entirely to the last press baron failed to expose Sathya Sai Baba and his authoritarian cult.

The Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust’s R.J.Ratnakar, Sai Baba’s Nephew. Effective Sai Trust Supremo.

Here is the earlier type of presentation that Ratnakar would now clearly like the public to forget all about. It is a statement a prominent spokesman for Trustees and the Council of Management,V.Srinivasan, chairman of WS Industries, Chennai, South India, made on the same day as the Central Trust made its tediously waffling major public statement, couched verbatim, in this portion, in both cases:  

“In the light of baseless, irresponsible and false accusations of defalcation of gold, valuable artefacts and even money, it is emphatically stated that the accusations are wholly untrue and it is believed these have been engineered by certain vested interests”. (Economic Times article:  ‘Baba had no successor in mind: Trustees, election for Sai Trust chairman next week’, Apr 28, 2011, 09.53pm IST).

Further Reading

Sathya Sai Baba Scandal: View RJ Ratnakar’s Body Language In NDTV Interview On Sai Trust ‘Transparency’. Posted by Barry Pittard on June 29, 2011

NOTE:  Writers on the Sathya Sai saga, like Robert Priddy, Brian Steel and myself have long exposed the tissues of lies that Sai Trust officials spin to devotees at large and to others. But what devotees were prepared to use their critical faculties in the least? Very few indeed. Against all their knowledge down the years that we were not (as Sai Baba said of us)Demons’, ‘Judases’, and that we had paltry money motives, they mindlessly preferred to listen to the deceitful avowals of leaders such as Indulal Shah, Dr Michael  Goldstein – see: Sathya Sai Baba Chief, Dr Goldstein, Explodes. “I am the consummate professional” (See Film Clips), Dr G. Venkataraman, and so on – see:Robert Priddy and Barry Pittard On Dr G. Venkataraman – Sathya Sai Baba Global Propagandist

Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

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

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Michelle Goldberg, US Author-Journalist, on Sathya Sai Baba (1)

Posted by Barry Pittard on October 8, 2009

It is one of the gambits of pro Sathya Sai Baba activists like Indulal Shah (when he was active), Dr G.Venkataraman and his virtual counterpart Gerald Moreno, to portray highly reputed media journalists as sensationalist, and so on. In their offensive and denunciatory style, they fail to credit world leading media journalists, and the researchers as well, with a sharp eye and habits of careful checking into the credentials of the former devotees and other critics who have shared their accounts. The journalists work, for example, for the BBC, CBC, CNN, SBS, ABC, India Today, Times of London, Telegraph, Guardian, The Age, and newspapers in Europe and Canada.

It is a version of the Orwellian “Four legs good, two legs bad!” In George Orwell’s classic novella ‘Animal Farm’, Rule #1. (for the animals contra the human beings) is:  “Whatever goes upon two feet is an enemy”. In the Venkatarman-Moreno nomenclature:  All former devotees and other critics who dissent from Sathya Sai Baba are wrong. Likewise all highly reputed media who investigate and report critically.

Both these individuals can be shown conclusively to have borne false witness against former devotees, notwithstanding that the latter have, many of them for decades, been in good standing as deeply committed workers among Sathya Sai Baba’s faithful. Suddenly:  All legs who have not walked away, good. All who have walked away, in dissenting, bad.

David and Faye Bailey

In short, individuals like David Bailey and his wife Faye are deemed to be bad. This is a man to whom Sathya Sai Baba gave extraordinarily such grave responsibilities, not only in care, as a lecturer in Music at his university, of students whom Sai Baba holds to be the ‘apple of his eye’, but also in David Bailey’s rare status of  being a travelling emissary at Sai Baba’s behest to various parts of the world. Indeed, it was as he travelled that individuals in good standing would come up and privately share their terrible accounts. But Bailey dissented from Sathya Sai Baba and those core leaders who were found to have been covering up for him for many decades.

Therefore, Bailey bad. Bailey to be denounced. Bailey to be defamed.

Faye Bailey, who Sathya Sai Baba chose as bride for David Bailey and himself presided over their wedding, was a widely known and respected figure in the Sathya Sai Organization in Australia. Like David, Faye Bailey was privy to ever-increasing direct, personal accounts of those – or, in other cases, the parents or closely related others – with harrowing accounts of Sathya Sai Baba’s sexual abuse of boys and young men over many years, and various other most shocking types of abuses more widely. Again, in the Orwellian schemata referred to above, Faye Bailey bad. Faye Bailey to be denounced and defamed.

For years, people = good, when close to Sathya Sai Baba;  suddenly, as if they have become devils overnight, those same people = bad!

It has been the discovery of each independent third party like the media mentioned above, and like those independent scholars who have tried to research it, that the Sathya Sai Organization leaders are engaged in a powerful suppression of information about itself, and about the many worldwide allegations.

For the long, well-researched Salon.com article (25 July, 2001) the noted US journalist Michelle Goldberg travelled to India, and also interviewed witnesses in various countries.  Ms Goldberg wrote of David and Faye Bailey’s ‘The Findings’:

“Part of the nearly 20,000-word piece is given over to evidence that Sai Baba fakes his materializations and doesn’t magically heal the sick — revelations that seem self-evident to nonbelievers but provoke fierce debate in devotee circles and blazing headlines in the Indian press. Most of “The Findings” consists of testimony of sexual harassment and sexual abuse. “Whilst still at the ashram, the worst thing for me — as a mother of sons — occurred when a young man, a college student, came to our room, to plead with David, ‘Please Sir, do something to stop him sexually abusing us,'” Faye writes. “These sons of devotees, unable to bear their untenable position of being unwilling participants in a pedophile situation any longer, yet unable to share this with their parents because they would be disbelieved, placed their trust in David; a trust which had built over his five years as a visiting professor of music to the Sai college.” These pleas eroded the Baileys’ faith and finally made them go public”.

Notes, drawn from Wikipedia, on Michelle Goldberg:

Michelle goldberg.jpg

Born 1975

Buffalo, New York

Education Masters Degree in journalism from UC Berkeley

Occupation Journalist, Author

Michelle Goldberg (born 1975) is a liberal Brooklyn-based journalist and the author of the books Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, and The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World. She is formerly a contributing writer at Salon.com[1] and currently a blogger at The Huffington Post. Her work has been published in the magazines Rolling Stone and In These Times, and in The New York Observer, The Guardian, Newsday, and other newspapers.[2] She also writes an online column for The American Prospect.

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This article on the Baileys is to be continued

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Further Resources

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

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)

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Indian Newspaper Reports of Killings In Sai Baba’s Bedroom

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 22, 2009

Reading through the press reports written at the time of the police killings in Sathya Sai Baba’s bedroom under hugely suspicious circumstances on June 6, 1993 is instructive. At first, word had escaped too far and fast for the Puttaparthi officials to slam a suppressive lid. But then followed the monstrous machinery of cover up. For the Anantapur District Journalists’ Union (ADJU) unanswered questions, see:  Press Council of India Long Silent On Sathya Sai Baba Bedroom Killings

Sathya Sai Baba was known to be in charge of situations in the hours before the intruders were slain. Robert Priddy’s accounts of his (and my) friend V.K. Narasimhan’s private depictions to him are very disturbing – they detail some of the processes – such as a remark to Sai Baba’s brother Jankiramaiah (also known as Janakira Ramiah, Janakiram, Janakiramaiah and Janaki), made within VKN’s hearing, of the then Home Minister, S. B. Chavan, a Sathya Sai Baba devotee, who had come poste haste to Puttaparthi, about “dead men tell no tales”.

The powerful central, state, local and ashram cover up that that followed was known to many in India, and beyond. In a properly functioning democratic country, there would have been rigorous, accountable police and jurisprudential processes. Many Indians have pointed out that Sathya Sai Baba will never be prosecuted. He, they say, is far too powerful in his sway over politicians of the major political parties. Travel virtually anywhere in India and you will find, as many travelers report, that this view is very wide-spread. Puttaparthi propaganda ceaselessly tells us that Sathya Sai Baba is being hailed through the world. In our many countries, we know, of course, that this is simply untrue. In India he is not only famous but infamous. Many Indians heartily abhor the way in which Puttaparthi scandals have for so long been covered up. Many deplore the incredible pomp and circumstance that forever surrounds him. All you will need to do is to ask your Indian contacts whether this is so. Many are too polite/embarrassed or not wanting to get involved in an unpleasant discussion. Some feel a deep sense of shame at the international ignominy which he has brought upon India. See:  Sathya Sai Baba: ‘Considerable Concern’ In Wider Hindu Community and Sai Baba, Kubla Khan, Citizen Kane, Bill Gates et alia

A major Hindu leader (to whom on request I shall gladly direct responsible and reputable media or scholars, authors, etc) once 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”.

As the reader can see from the following quotation, there is no subtlety about the antidemocratic, authoritarian nature, even in certain public statements, about Sathya Sai Baba and his then chief functionary, Indulal Shah:

“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).

N.B. Examine, pray, Shah’s photo. Does he appear brimful of spiritual joy? But why should he be? Sai Baba devotees who know the facts know that he has long been a ‘supreme’ hatchet man, widely feared.

……………………………………………………..

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

……………………………………………………..

Robert Priddy (a major commentator, along with B.Premanand, on the killings and cover up):

Indulal Shah, cover-up man for Sai Baba

General ResourcesFurther Reading

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

BBC Hidden Camera in ‘Secret Swami’. Ethical?

Guru Sex Abuse Testimony To BBC – After Years of Silence

Indian Minister Shields Sai Baba on BBC television

Probed On Male Sex Abuse, Sai Baba Evicts BBC TV Team

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

Exposure of Sathya Sai Baba. Media Source List

Video Resources

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

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

http://home.hetnet.nl/~seduced/seduced.wmv
(21 MB, Modem)

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Goldstein explodes with anger (710kbs)

at the BBC’s perfectly reasonable questions about accountability

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

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

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

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

Posted in Morality, Opinion, Religion, Scandal, Social and Politics, South Asia, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Sathya Sai Organization Libels Those Who Have Left It

Posted by Barry Pittard on March 17, 2009

 

It pleases Sai Baba’s Internet defenders – not to mention those elsewhere – grossly to misrepresent those former devotees active in bringing many allegations about Sai Baba and his cult to international light. It portrays former devotees as but “a small handful of disgruntled” individuals.

This “disgruntled” label is familiarly used by Sai center leaders when they inform their congregations to pay no heed to the allegations. They, under strict instructions, say that it is “Swami’s wish” that devotees do not read the Internet writings against him.

But, as Sai Baba’s apologists would have it, those such as Robert Priddy, Brian Steel, myself and many others who have left Sai Baba are in some kind of unholy conspiracy. Among those who pronounce such unustainable defamations is the deputy chairman of the Sathya Sai Baba Organization, Dr G. Venkataraman. See:

Sathya Sai Baba’s ‘Minister’of Propaganda – Dr G. Venkataraman

Indian Nuclear Scientist Now Sai Baba’s Global Radio Chief

Sathya Sai Baba’s Deputy Head, Dr G. Venkataraman, Speaks of “Mr Idi Amin”

The Declaring of Non Persons and Annihilation of Personal History

However, there are many in the Sathya Sai Organization who suppress a palpable  fact:  namely, that many of those who have left it, having investigated the allegations – particularly in their own Sai centers – were held in high esteem for decades.

These continuing Sai Baba center members have allowed themselves, year after year, to be party to defamation of many former devotees by the core leaders, which has been echoed all the way down the leadership heirarchy. Some top leaders who have so shamefully hidden vital facts from many rank-and-file devotees include:  Michael Goldstein, Indulal Shah, William Harvey, Bob Bozzani, Jagadeesan, Ashok Bhagani, T.Sri Ramanathan, Thorbjørn Meyer, Steen Piculell, Leonardo Gutter …  (Note the incredible top-heaviness of males in the Sathya Sai heirarchy!).

As the siftings and sortings of both documentary and psychological history portray themselves, it will be to their lasting shame that so many Sai devotees have stifled their consciences and commonsense.

As the Sathya Sai Organization has now only too potently seen, ever wider political, civic, religious, academic institutions now shy away from them when the sect attempts to gain outreach in communities around the world.

There has been a huge effort by former devotees to bring to international attention the facts relating to:

Further Reading

Dissent From Guru Cults Draws Slander and Harassment

Sai Baba. Some Dissenting Themes and Resources

Cultic Depersonalization or Demonization of Dissenters

Some Key Cultic Responses To Critics

Sathya Sai Baba Cult. Blind Eye To Massive Slander

Terribly Revealing Film Clips


Posted in New Age, Opinion, Religion, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

‘God’s’ Ex-Shah, Indulal Shah

Posted by Barry Pittard on July 30, 2008

Indulal Shah, of Mumbai, India, was the world head of the Sathya Sai Organization, and, previously, for decades, the head of the Indian wing of that organization.

In June 1993, at the time of the Puttaparthi police killings in Sathya Sai Baba’s bedroom, Indulal Shah rose to his height in adroit and politically powerful suppressive actions that would rate a place in a primer for feudal but effective crisis management.

The Hindu, June 10, 1993, reported:

“When press persons met Mr. Indulal Shah, chief functionary of the Sri Sathya Sai World Trust, he said, ‘the matter is purely internal and we do not wish to have any law enforcement agency investigating into it.’”

The then Indian Prime Minister Narasimha Rao and his Home Minister S.B. Chavan and other powerful forces in Indian politics supported and greatly extended upon Puttaparthi’s extensive cover up. Chavan was in Puttaparthi assisting in the damage control. So powerful is Sathya Sai Baba in India right across the political spectrum that Indian governments, irrespective of hue, have ever since maintained an iron-clad damper on the issue, and prevented police, media and judicial investigation. The voices of journalists, such as members of the Anantapur Journalist’s Union in Sathya Sai Baba’s State of Andhra Pradesh, were suppressed.

Andhra Pradesh former Home Secretary, V.P.B. Nair, has described the killings in the BBC’s television documentary The Secret Swami as “absolute cold blooded murder”. View and hear Nair speaking to interviewer Tanya Datta, in this film clip HERE. These intruders could easily have been captured without murdering them. Sai Baba was nearby as events unfolded, hour by hour, and yet – a virtual ‘omnipotent’ dictator within his independent ashram township, at least – did not lift a finger to stop the deaths.

Some Further Resources

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

The BBC and the 1993 murders

Murders In Sai Baba’s Private Quarters

Sathya Sai Baba Bedroom Murders – Part 1

The Secret Swami. BBC Docu. Review. Condensed

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

The Genesis of the BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’ (Sai Baba)

Indian Minister Shields Sai Baba on BBC television

Indian Ex Top Official Dogs Sai Baba On BBC. ‘Cold-blooded Murder’

Testimony To BBC – After Years of Silence

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

A Shah Under A Lord of Misrule

Inequality before the law in India

Serial Sex Molestation and Bedroom Killings. But Much More

Police Killings in Sai Baba’s Bedroom

Police Killings Related to Sai Baba Sex Abuse Says Dr Bhatia

——————————————————-

The Public Petition   

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

About the Petition For Official Investigation Into Sathya Sai Baba Cult

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

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

The Secret Swami. BBC Docu. Review. Condensed

Posted by Barry Pittard on October 16, 2007

Many have sought out my article, The BBC’s The Secret Swami – A Revision. However, it is very long, and many readers are very busy. So, for the sake of condensation, here, in the form of quotes, are some key pieces of information from it. Downloadable video footage is in the clickable references at the foot of this present blog.

Subheaders

  • Focus on One Family Obscures Vast Extent of Allegations
  • Governments Placate India
  • Supposedly God, Sai Baba Woos Heads of State and other Big Players
  • Foreign Goose Lays Multi-billion Dollar Eggs For Sai Baba
  • BBC’s Tanya Datta asks: ‘Is Sai Baba Above The Law?’
  • Oiling Penises Not A Hindu Ritual. (Nor Of Other World Faiths)
  • Top Indian Minister Shows Ugly Face of Indian Government Sai Baba Patronage
  • Dr Goldstein Tells BBC “I am what I am – a consummate professional”
  • “He Could Go Out And Murder” Says Billionaire backer, Isaac Tigrett
  • “Absolutely Cold-blooded Murder”, Says Former Home Secretary, V.P.B.Nair
  • Room For Many More Documentaries

Quotes

“The BBC’s cameras at Sathya Sai Baba’s ashram at Puttaparthi in South India catch the pomp, circumstance, opulence and the highly stage-managed atmosphere of the crowded Mahasivaratri festival, February 2004”

V.P.B. Nair, former Home Secretary in Sai Baba’s State of Andhra Pradesh at the time of the killings, is seen in the BBC television documentary on Sai Baba, The Secret Swami, (2004), where he says that the police killings were “cold-blooded murder””.

The Secret Swami confines itself to four areas:

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

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

“Focusing on one family meant no examination of anything like the full extent of the allegations. It also meant no examination of the multiple billions (that’s a ‘b’ not an ‘m’) that pour into the Sathya Sai Central Trust coffers from all over the world, or of financial scams by his administration (e.g., the selling of apartments which are sometimes later taken away from the paid up owners), which devotees blindly accept, as “tests of faith”. It meant no examination of Tony Blair’s and also the Conservative Party Whips suppression of over fifty British parliamentarians (an earlier list showing, as I recall 47, was incomplete) to raise Sai Baba-related issues in the House of Commons.  This was at a time when Blair wanted to placate the then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee so as to win a contract for 66 jet fighters for India. The BBC had evidence from a former British diplomat that Vajpayee demanded of Blair that he cool down the activity concerning Sathya Sai Baba, whose long-time devotee Vajpayee was, and is. The urgency to win the deal was bi-partisan”. For futher information, see my article, Flag Follows Trade. Abetting Indian Government Corruption

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

“Caught by the BBC cameras for all time, Sai Baba pretended to vomit up pure gold Siva Lingam. A few minutes later, he told his vast audience:

“Out of the stomach emanated Shiva Lingas of the weight  of three tonnes.  That’s the reason why some strain on  the face and the body”.

“BBC producers say that Sai Baba’s top leaders at first thought the documentary would present a ‘positive image’ of their guru and the works of his organization to the world. Hence the rare permission for the BBC to shoot at Sai Baba’s ashram”.

“The exposure by Denmark’s national broadcaster in its 2003 documentary Seduced (renamed Seduced By Sai Baba in the English language version by Australia’s national multicultural broadcaster SBS), seen by millions in Denmark, Norway and Australia – when the top Sai leaders in Denmark and Australia made unavailing threats of legal action – must still have haunted their minds”.

“Showing three zealous western devotees eccentrically rhapsodizing about Sai Baba fails to indicate his appeal to people of many cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. Filming eccentrics detracts from the serious purpose seen elsewhere in the documentary. It obscures the interest he has evoked in figures of great power (e.g., Bill and Hillary Clinton (more particularly Hillary), Al Gore, Mikhail and (the late) Raisa Gorbachev (a friend of mine informed me that Mrs Gorbachev told her that Gorbachev had a book of discourses by Sai Baba as his bedside reading). Confirmation of the Clinton connection and their readiness to meet Sai Baba, which was thwarted by security advisors on both sides, was given to me by my beloved friend, one of Sai Baba closest of all servitors, the great Indian author and newspaper Editor (the late) V.K. Narasimhan. The sheer penetration of Sai Baba’s influence is of real concern”.

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

“Would many Indian politicians, notorious for their extreme corruption, dare expose the foreign goose that lays the (cosmic!) golden egg? Driving this question would have reinforced the documentary’s fundamental query about whether India is a mature democracy”.

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

“To convince the most critical, the BBC needed demonstrations as sophisticated as those in the Danish documentary Seduced (a copy of which the BBC possessed) where the Danish magician Nils Krøjgaard exposes the deceptions involved”.

“Confronted by the BBC’s Tanya Datta, Murli Manohar Joshi, one of the most powerful ministers in the since-defeated right wing Vajpayee government, soon loses his temper, jabbing away with pointed finger at Ms Datta, accusing the BBC and people in England of plotting against Sai Baba, A.B. Vajpayee and P.N. Bhagwati (a key Sathya Sai Central Trust member and former Chief Justice of India). He arrogantly shouts at her:  “No, no, no… You don’t know the meaning of interviewing a minister in my capacity, as a minister of my stature””.

“So repeatedly evasive was Dr Michael Goldstein that the BBC team gained permission from BBC heads and legals to film him with hidden cameras. The BBC cleverly gets him to admit the correctness of the Rahm family’s report of his words. Unlike his archangelic namesake and just like Joshi, his finger repeatedly jabs at Tanya Datta as he snarls, blusters and fulminates. Seemingly in need of a child’s first dictionary, Dr Goldstein hurls the questions, “Transparency in what sense?” and “What do you mean by thorough investigation”? He says that his “heart and his conscience” know that the allegations of sexual molestation could not be true. But what about the heart and conscience of families and individuals around the world who give accounts of Sai Baba’s tragic harming of their boy children?”

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

“In exposing a dangerous and influential cult, The Secret Swami is plucky and perceptive. Canada’s national broadcaster CBC was waylaid by hundreds of phone calls and emails by Sai Baba devotees, both before and after the screenings of the documentary in Canada. The program host said on air “We stand by the professionalism of our BBC colleagues”.

For Downloading and Viewing

The Secret Swami (BBC Television)
(154 MB, Broadband). The Secret Swami (23.3 MB, Modem)

Seduced (DR, Danish Broadcasting, Denmark’s national television and radio broadcaster):
(80 MB, Broadband). Seduced (21 MB, Modem)

Posted in Neglected/sidelined News, New Age, Rationalism, Religion, Sai Baba, Sex, Skeptics, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

The Case of UNESCO’s Missing Media Advisory

Posted by Barry Pittard on March 15, 2007

Note 20 June 2010. As more people quit the Sathya Sai Organization and to inform more recent readers and researchers, I shall, for the while, put to the front of my blogsite an article I wrote in March 2007.

To point to underhand institutional conduct is never enough. Fact in plenty may still be not enough – especially when an institution under question does its best to make it appear that those who question it have malign intent, and have no notable evidence. Or when that organization attempts to bury evidence of statements by its founder that, all unwittingly, militate against both it and him. See:

The Quiet Weeding Out Of Sathya Sai Baba’s Embarrassing Statements

Sathya Sai Baba and Absurdity – Revealed in His Officials’ Documents

However, when a research effort involves an august institution like the BBC, those institutions which have been covering up are shaken, and only then can sometimes become more accountable, as has been the case of UNESCO’s ‘missing’ Media Advisory. In this case, it was UNESCO which was forced to become accountable. Neither the Indian government nor the international Sathya Sai Organization have been so, all along. The BBC has described Sathya Sai Baba as ‘The Secret Swami’. See:

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

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

BBC Hidden Camera in ‘Secret Swami’. Ethical?

Earlier that year (2004), the producer of the one-hour television documentary, Eamon Hardy, noted in my hearing that the Sathya Sai Baba saga raised very real questions as to India’s maturity as a democracy. As it turned out, the BBC exposure of the unhealthy Indian Government-Sathya Sai Organization-UNESCO Director nexus was not able to be referred to in ‘The Secret Swami’. It was all too late. However, any intrepid investigator can approach the BBC and UNESCO, quite apart from reading this article fine tooth-comb in hand.

……………………………………………………..

In September 2000, after months of intense effort by former Sai Baba followers from several countries, UNESCO and its joint sponsor the University of Flinders, South Australia, withdrew sponsorship of a large international education conference on human values under Sai Baba’s aegis at Puttaparthi. After the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Chubb, appointed a senior Staff member to investigate, delegates from Flinders University Institute of International Education were required to cancel. UNESCO’s Media Advisory stated:

“The Organisation is deeply concerned about widely reported allegations of sexual abuse involving youths and children that have been leveled at the leader of the movement in question, Sathya Sai Baba.”

UNESCO’s Advisory Had a Number of Concerns

The advisory also said that:

“Certain decisions were taken by the Institute of Sathya Sai Education without consultation, such as plans to hold some of the sessions at the Ashram of the Sathya Sai movement in Puttaparthi, and the inclusion of some speakers in the conference programme without their previous consent. Furthermore, the Organization is deeply concerned about widely reported allegations of sexual abuse involving youths and children that have been levelled at the leader of the movement in question, Sathya Sai Baba.””

Subheaders For This Article 

UNESCO and University of Flinders (South Australia) Withdraw From Big Sai Baba Conference

Sathya Sai Baba’s Officials Simulate UNESCO Involvement

UNESCO Complains to Press Trust of India

UN’s Dr Leonarda Jekantaite. Witting Sai Baba Tool Or a Babe-in-the-woods?

UNESCO Directors Scuttle Own Senior Officials

Indian Government-Puttaparthi Line: Sai Baba’s and India’s Interests are Synonymous

Top Sai Baba Aide Opens Mouth. Cat Jumps Out

UNESCO Directors Capitulate to India and Sai Baba

Will the Internet Wayback Archive Go Missing Too?

BBC Exposes Two Heads of UNESCO and Their Staff

BBC Catches UNESCO Heads and Staff In Falsehood

Sathya Sai Baba’s Officials Simulate UNESCO Involvement

Indulal Shah, then head of the Sathya Sai Organization, maintained the fiction of UNESCO involvement. Yet UNESCO had already fully informed him of its cancellation many days before the release of the Media Advisory on September 15, 200. In his inaugural conference address, Shah said:

“Let me share with you that U.S. magazine Week has chosen to give respect to the UNESCO conference held in Prasanthi Nilayam highlighting the message of Bhagawan on ‘Values for All”.  (Source: ‘Materials of the 7th World Conference of the Sai Organization’, 20.11.2000).

That is to say, Shah in front of over 900 conferencees spoke of “the UNESCO conference” – when there was no UNESCO involvement! Indeed, Shah and other organisers had spent several previous days dealing with the crisis of UNESCO’s cancellation, the Indian media situation, and so on.

UNESCO Complains to Press Trust of India

When the Times of India printed an alarmingly small portion of the Media Advisory, the world body lodged an objection to the Press Trust of India, It may be mentioned that the Times of India has long been a stronghold of Sai Baba devotees and supporters, including a board director P.N. Bhagwati, Sathya Sai Central Trust member and former Chief Justice of India, more recently with the United Nations.  PTI then forced the Times of India to publish the Media Advisory in full.

UN’s Dr Leonarda Jekantaite. Witting Sai Baba Tool Or a Babe-in-the-woods?

The same fiction of UNESCO participation was also preserved by the appearance on the dais by a high profile UNESCO diplomat, Dr Leonarda Jekantaite. Despite UNESCO’s withdrawal from the conference, Sai Baba’s official organ, Sanathana Sarathi (Volume 43, October 2000, page 317) reported:

Dr Leonarda Jekantaite, Secretary General of UNESCO (Lithuania) presented the Keynote Address.”

 There are two issues here. First, that the official organ of Sai Baba’s Central Trust – distributed worldwide – AND the conference organizers maintained the fiction of UNESCO participation. Second, that Dr Jekantaite still not only attended but gave the keynote speech at the conference, despite the withdrawal of the body she ostensibly represented. A colleague of mine, Robert Priddy, previously head of the Sathya Sai Organization in Norway and retired lecturer in Philosophy and Social Science at the University of Oslo, corresponded with Dr Jekantaite on this matter. Very lamely, she excused herself by saying that she attended in a personal capacity. This line would seriously obscure the fact that the conference presenters portrayed Dr Jekantaite to the conferencees as the UNESCO representative. Was she was being incredibly naïve, being an unwitting propagandist tool in the conference organizers’ hands? Or was she actually prepared to be a witting tool in the hands of Sai Baba’s demonstrably dishonest organizers like Indulal Shah in allowing her presence to suggest UNESCO’s presence at the conference? Was she in fact a Sai Baba devotee? Was there anything all that “personal” about her reasons for staying on at the conference? A simple, natural, truthful response in her email to one who had long taught in one of the world’s foremost universities could have clarified much.

UNESCO Directors Scuttle Own Senior Officials

Another point that needs more attention – because, being a ‘hot’ topic, allegations of sexual abuse can tend to obscure other issues – was UNESCO’s dissatisfaction that conference organizers had maintained that the conference was to be held separately from Sai Baba’s ashram. Those who attack the Media Advisory (and many other issues about Sai Baba and his often heavily unaccountable organization well-documented by former devotee and other critics and some of the world’s leading media) need to be truthful about this. Nor did the UNESCO director and deputy director honor the earlier hard work of some of its most senior officials involved in the investigations and approvals that lead to the framing of the advisory. In repudiating the advisory these two officials were, in effect, repudiating their own officials, like Zhou Nanzhao, then head of UNESCO-ACEID in Thailand.

It is known that at the conference the UNESCO withdrawal was NOT mentioned! Clearly – highly typical of Sai Baba’s managers – major ‘stage management’ was going on.

Indian Government-Puttaparthi Line: Sai Baba’s and India’s Interests are Synonymous

Sai Baba critics who deal with senior government officials both in India and other countries have repeatedly found that Sai Baba’s propagandists have succeeded in creating the image that what affects Sai Baba affects all of India. One of the top British Foreign Officials told former Labor MP for Putney Tony Colman that where Sai Baba was concerned the Blair government did not want to ‘rock the boat’ with India. Mr Colman and (separately) some fifty other parliamentarians from various Parties, who at first had signed a Petition to raise the Sai Baba matter in the House of Commons, were asked by the Whips and others, to back off. Considerable trade deals, like the one billion plus sale by Britain to India of Hawk fighters were mentioned. Particularly active in efforts not to rock any ‘boats’ were Labor Friends of India, Conservative Parliamentary Friends of India, and the Indo-British Parliamentary Group. In one case, a leading international lawyer (who will speak to media of best repute) reported that he was told by senior London Metropolitan Police (who were far from happy about it) that Prime Minister Tony Blair’s office had sent an instruction that the police were not further to pursue investigation related to Sai Baba, because the matter was an ‘international’ one.

Top Sai Baba Aide Opens Mouth. Cat Jumps Out

Little knowing that his triumphant revelations on an official Puttaparthi website would later come back to haunt him, Dr G. Venkataraman, Sai Baba’s deputy world head, who also leads the attempt to bring round-the-clock satellite Sai Baba radio to every corner of the globe, let quite a big ‘cat’ out of the bag in an offical Puttaparthi website. Hitherto, Sai Baba’s organization has been noted for its glacial silence in the face of the many and serious worldwide allegations (which are far from being solely about sexual molestation of boys and young men) against its founder. But what seemed such a triumph was clearly too much to hold back.

 Vol_02/05March01/03_Spiritual_Blossoms/ 02_Reflection/reflection.htm

But the ‘cat’ was soon to scratch. Venkataraman states:

“Both the Foreign Minister and this diplomat were terribly upset that nothing had been done this far”

Indian Diplomat Writes to UNESCO Head

India’s UNESCO representative (though he does not name her, this was Mrs Neelam Sabharwal, since named India’s Ambassador to Cyprus) then wrote, according to G. Venkataraman, to UNESCO’s Deputy Director General, Koïchiro Matsuura, saying that:

“the “Government of India considers Sri Sathya Sai Baba and his movement a national asset and takes strong exception to UNESCO press release, which spreads wholly unfounded and unsubstantiated allegation  against Sri Sathya Sai Baba. I would therefore request you to take immediate steps to remove the objectionable press advisory from the UNESCO website. I would also appreciate an expression of regret for the damage caused to one of India’s revered public figures, without first verifying the facts and any consultation with Indian authorities.”

UNESCO Directors Capitulate to India and Sai Baba

Dr. Venkataraman quotes what he claims to be the letter of reply to India’s UNESCO representative by UNESCO’s Deputy Director General:

“I do appreciate this concern and wish to inform you that following your personal intervention, the media advisory in question was immediately withdrawn from the archives of the UNESCO’s web site for education.

“I should also like to take this opportunity to say how much the Organisation regrets this unfortunate incident and to reiterate to you, on behalf of the Director General, that the Organisation attaches the greatest importance to the varied forms of fruitful collaboration that we have enjoyed with your country for many years.

“I hope this letter will set your mind at rest and dispel any misunderstanding.”

Venkataraman’s account (which the BBC later showed to be correct) was that he succeeded in getting (now former Prime Minister) A.B. Vajpayee’s Foreign Minister, Yaswant Sinha, and a former Indian Ambassador to France at this time now at UNESCO, to get the head of UNESCO to suppress the Media Advisory from its official website.

Will the Internet Wayback Archive Go Missing T00?

Fortunately, the document had been cached on the ‘Internet wayback machine’ and is now found at Click Here

One would not have been surprised if, given the power they wield in many high places, Sai Baba’s people had tried to obtain the removal of this document. One may guess, given their known track record for using high-profile devotees to threaten institutions with litigation, that the continued existence of this file in the Internet archive owes more to the integrity of the company operating this remarkable service than it does to the probity of Sai Baba’s top officials. (We shall report widely on the Internet should that document go missing too). Perhaps they accepted as a fait accompli that, in any case, the document has been widely copied to the Internet. Or else that the document – should anyone try to dispute the accuracy of the copies of it on former devotee and other websites – is in any case obtainable from the written archives of UNESCO.

Intimate Nexus Between the Indian Government and Sai Baba

Like a surprise gift to the rest of the world, here was G. Venkataraman’s proud revelation of a Puttaparthi-Indian government ploy to withdraw the Media Advisory. It was provided to David Savill, Assistant Producer of the BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami”. Given that the screening date fast approached, the intensive, months-long work on this documentary were to be shortly concluded. Nonetheless, David Savill wrote and spoke by phone to UNESCO (Paris). He saw that UNESCO was in cover-up mode (a mode observed by all media, academic and other investigators who have attempted to probe The Sathya Sai Organization).

It was clear that Venkataraman was absolutely right. The UNESCO head, via his Deputy Director, had obliged  India in this matter.

For the many survivors of Sai Baba around the world, this felt like a setback.  It had been exhausting work Some of it was terribly sensitive, because of varying responses of survivors of sexual and other abuses. It was often hard to revisit what had been for them the most shocking betrayal. 

In passing, I may add that obtaining coherent accounts from abuse victims is one of the most difficult of assignments. Survivors, not to mention their families, can make honest mistakes about dates, times, etc., and need experienced, highly competent professional counselers to debrief them. The profoundly dishonest internet proxy for Sathya Sai Baba forces conveniently ignore such facts. Over many months of carefully documented submissions, proof of credentials, etc., (an effort also pursued with the University of Flinders), organized former Sathya Sai Baba followers from many countries had gone to great pains to submit hard evidence (most of it too sensitive to be released to this day, except to bona fide institutions) against Sai Baba and senior leaders to the world body.

BBC Exposes Two Heads of UNESCO and Their Staff

Early in 2004, UNESCO spokespersons told media and other enquirers that the Advisory did not now reflect its views. David Savill reports that only after his strenuous questioning of a senior UNESCO spokesperson, did she, Sue Williams, finally agree in writing to Mr Savill that currently “UNESCO does not regret issuing the media release of September 15 2000.” Here was a backflip! The BBC had enforced from Mrs Williams an extraordinary admission. She directly contradicted what senior UNESCO officials had told a number of enquirers both by phone and email. One  example was an email to the West Australian newspaper’s Education Correspondent Susan Hewitt on February 5, 2004. By phone – at the same time – a senior UNESCO official told Garth Wynne, the Principal of Church of Christ Grammar School, Perth, Western Australia (who acted in the Sai Baba matter on behalf of  the then Anglican Archbishop of Australia, Dr Peter Carnley) that the Advisory had simply been “routinely purged”.

BBC Catches UNESCO Heads and Staff In Falsehood

The Deputy Director General’s statement about the Advisory being “immediately withdrawn” contradicts a number of statements emerging from other officials like Isabel le Fournis and the late Elke Salas Rossenbach. They gave out the ‘routine purge’ fabrication. After my repeated attempts, and repeated evasions by UNESCO (Paris) officials, to obtain the facts, Sue Williams emailed me, May 13, 2004, stating:

“the media advisory dealing with this issue resulted from a routine operation to purge and update the site.”

That this account is false is readily shown in UNESCO’s stance appeasing India’s then Foreign Minister that the media advisory “does not now reflect UNESCO’s position”.

Having sensed serious UNESCO contradiction and evasion – particularly in the light of the Venkataraman material – the BBC first tactically held back and then, once the spins span thick and fast, released the whole Venkataraman piece to the UNESCO official, Sue Williams, whose immediate boss was the Deputy Director General.  After repeated pressure from the BBC via phone and email, Ms Williams wrote to the BBC:

“UNESCO does not regret issuing the media release of September 15 2000″.

The acrobatics were quite something to watch!Furthermore, BBC staff spoke to India’s then Permanent Representative to UNESCO, Mrs Neelam Sabharwal, (since named India’s Ambassador to Cyprus). She greeted them with the blank statement that “Sai Baba is a respected Godman” and no, she didn’t know why UNESCO had issued a media advisory and that it had been withdrawn. It is a pity for her that Dr G. Venkataraman’s account so gravely, though unintentionally, questions her veracity.

Whether it is more holy to bow to India or to bow to the BBC might also provoke an interesting discussion. Perhaps, in contorting fashion, UNESCO has tried to bow to them both.

The Public Petition

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

About the Petition For Official Investigation Into Sathya Sai Baba Cult

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

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

There is a Spanish version available:  

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

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Posted in Opinion, Religion, South Asia, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

UK Sai Baba Head, Ashok Bhagani Exposes Himself

Posted by Barry Pittard on February 17, 2007

(Part I)

As reported in The Eastern Eye (June 25, 2004), Ashok Bhagani, a Trustee of the Sri Sathya Sai Charitable Trust, UK, claims to have been a devotee of Sathya Sai Baba for 38 years. There are also former devotees of Sai Baba who have given notable service to this organization for many decades, who have left it with the highest of ethical motives. One can enquire whether Ashok Bhagani  has undue vested interest in defending his guru, and in providing face-saving disinformation, despite the many facts that have become known. Soon after the searing BBC documentary ‘The Secret Swami’ (2004), Bhagani was interviewed by at least two newspapers, and it is instructive to examine his claims and defenses to vindicate Sathya Sai Baba. In the Asian Voice (June 26, 2004), he states:

“The BBC has acted totally irresponsibly. The allegations in the documentary are completely factless and baseless…What actual evidence does the BBC have to substantiate these claims? These allegations have been circulating for years and have never been proved. As far as I’m concerned, there are 30 million happy devotees in the world, but every so often you will get two or three who will make these wild allegations.”

Is not Bhagani’s estimate of “30 million” not grossly irresponsible? Has he used a respectable polling organization?  Or did he do his own – rather exhausting! -counting of heads, pan world?

Far from acting irresponsibly, the BBC did not conspire at their desks and cobble together a few pulp-fiction articles to make an investigative documentary. It investigated in various countries and, of course, many compelling interviews and testimonies did not make the actual program. David Savill, one of the BBC producers, informed some of us by email that 80-plus hours of footage remain.

But core leaders like Bhagani do not tell their members about those many individuals, including very respected former leaders, who have tried to get the Sathya Sai Organization to deal responsibly with the allegations – transparently, accountably and with duty-of-care. These same former devotees – despite the shocking slurs of Ashok Bhagani, Indulal Shah, Michael Goldstein, G. Venkataraman, Thorbjörn Meyer, Steen Piculell, J. Jagadeesan and others who history cannot help but roundly and shamefully condemn – are in excellent standing in their professions and communities. They stand ready – as they have been before at the most senior levels with several leading world media and organizations such as UNESCO, several governments, police forces as well as major academic and civic institutions that the Sathya Sai Sai Organization has tried to inveigle – to document the results of their careful and principled investigations.

What have Sathya Sai Organization officials like Bhagani to fear from those who raise questions? Here at a glance are but some of the seriously documented allegations: That Sai Baba:

  • is a large-scale serial sexual abuser of boys and young men
  • was complicit in the police killings in his private quarters on June 6, 1993, and the massive cover-up that followed including by local, state and central government authorities
  • countenances and overlooks financial irregularities on a vast scale, including massive donations from abroad that have made (see e.g., the Rediff news organization, August 16, 2003) his Central Trust the largest single recipient of overseas charitable donations
  • makes promises of divine cures that typically do not eventuate
  • produces watches and jewellery which, when assayed, prove to be cheap trinkets
  • utters prophecies that – predictably! – commonly do not eventuate
  • makes monumental blunders about known historic and scientific fact
  • completely contradicts himself across decades of his officially collected, so-called “Divine Discourses”
  • has been formidably protected by successive Indian governments, state and central, and by the Indian police and judiciary at the highest levels

Useful reference to Ashok Bhagani:

http://tinyurl.com/2rkxz5

For Online Viewing and/or Dowloading

Resources

The Secret Swami (BBC Television) Broadband 154 MB

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

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Posted in Morality, Neglected/sidelined News, Religion, Skeptics, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »