Call For Media and Government Investigation

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

Posts Tagged ‘K. Chakravarthy’

Sai Baba No Shiva. Gold From His Gut Is Regurgitator’s Trick

Posted by Barry Pittard on August 5, 2007

Within Hinduism, the Shiva lingam can represent the wonder and majesty of creation-dissolution, a symbol of limitlessness. See Wikipedia, underLingam‘:

‘The term lingam is sometimes used synonymously for shivalingam or sivalingam a specific type of icon or altar representing the god Shiva’
lordshiva-seated-on-tiger-skin.jpg

View Revealing video Clips From The BBC’s The Secret Swami. See Below

Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

In Sanskrit, this object is often called a lingodhbhava. In India, especially in the south, down the millennia, via literature, drama, temple worship and so on, the sacredness of its associations have become immense.  egg of gold shivalinga.jpg

Sathya Sai Baba had, over a number of years, ostensibly brought from his stomach a pure gold egg-shaped Shiva lingam (Sivalingam, Shivalingam). This event he performed at the festival to the Hindu god Siva, or Mahashivarathri. For two decades, Sai Baba ceased what had been a yearly (so-called miraculous) production of the lingam. Why would he resume it in February 1999? And be caught out by the BBC in 2004?

A Lordly Miracle Might Revive Emperor’s Crumbling Empire

I have elsewhere characterized Sai Baba as, in certain respects but not in all, a master showman, see The Decline and Fall of the Showman Empire. Around Sai Baba, all is panoply, pomp and circumstance – and dazzling architecture costing millions.

hillview-stadium3.jpgSai Baba’s pet elephant, Sai Gita appearing at Sai Baba’s showpiece Hillview Stadium

barnum-and-bailey-the-greatest-show-on-earth.jpgA Hindu dissenter of Sai Baba, chance-met, who was at Puttaparthi on suffrance, once said to me, “This is a national circus”.

sai-baba-dwelling.jpgSai Baba’s humble living quarters

But empire or circus, the show is a voracious money ‘beast’ that has continually to be fed. Gold may or may not come out of Sai Baba’s stomach but it certainly has to keep on going into his coffers.

sai-baba-on-pure-gold-chariot-sept-1997.jpgSai Baba showcased in pure gold

What then the case of a series of calamitous exposures in major media around the world? What of all the leave-takings from his worldwide Sathya Sai Organization – far more numerous than formal resignations? What of the threatened recruitment bases?

Big Money Replenishment – A Desperation to Recruit in Luxurious Venues

In tightly controlled circumstances, the Sathya Sai Organization now recruits in highly costly, luxurious venues. For example, Cooper’s Union, New York; La Mirada Theatre; Los Angeles County, Hilton Ballroom and Sheraton Hotel and Towers, both Chicago; Copley International Conference Center, San Diego; Town Hall, Melbourne; Super Dome, Sydney, etc. See article by Robert Priddy and Barry Pittard, Sai Organization’s Spending Spree In Super Dome, Sydney.

sydney-superdome.jpgSydney Superdome, Australia one of world’s top stadiums, built for the Olympic Games 2000

A Positive BBC Documentary Would Help Recuperate from Intense International Criticism

The BBC was on the scene, and the ashram officials had given a rare permission to shoot inside the Puttaparthi ashram. It was not until the BBC producer of what was to become the television documentary The Secret Swami (2004) Eamon Hardy asked about the worldwide sex abuse allegations that matters drastically altered. The Sathya Sai Central Trust Secretary, K. Chakravarthy, summarily evicted the BBC team. The Indian television company Sanskaar TV also televised this Mahashivarathi event.

There had been, especially from 2000, tremendous international pressure for Sai Baba and his worldwide Sathya Sai Organization. (See, towards the end of the article – Sathya Sai Baba’s Deputy Head, Dr G. Venkataraman, Speaks of “Mr Idi Amin” – a number of heavy stressors that were being applied by globally networked former devotees known as ‘the exposé). One outcome was the display of an anger Sai Baba has long kept behind-the-scenes. Bad cracks began to appear in the Sai monolith, and the world began to peep through. In a Christmas 2000 discourse, in which peace and goodwill to all men were remarkable for their absence, Sai Baba repeatedly pounded his lectern, denouncing his accuses as demons and Judases, and vaunting his accomplisments (even though, contrary to his assertions, far from unique), prompting The Times of India, December 26, 2000, to headline: Sai Baba Lashes Out At His Detractors. He cried,

“Is there any government that is giving free medical care? People don’t even think about the sanctity behind it. Most of the educated have become so low and mean minded. Is there anyone who is doing even one thousandth of this work ? No, no. It is only Sathya Sai Baba, who is doing this selflessly, always for the welfare of others.”

He has at various times said he is anger-free. For example:

“When I am defamed, I never get incensed, for it is only the tree full of edible fruits that is attached by sticks and stones.” (Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 4 p. 184).

“There is no trace of anger or hatred in Me and hence everyone loves Me” (Sanathana Sarathi September 2002, page 257f)

Sathya Sai Speaks of his alleged lingam creations

“Ah! This is the Brahmaanda Linga! Symbol of the Universe. Inside it, the nine planets (Navagrahas) revolve; the entire Universe is represented herein … You are indeed blessed, the merit of many births as brought you here to see the Great Phenomenon, this rare Creation.” (Sathya Sai Speaks, IV, 4:26).

He has also said:

“This is Amruthtatwam (symbol of immortality). It is changeless. You cannot see such a manifestation anywhere in the world. It is possible only with Divinity.” (Sanathana Sarathi – March 1999, p. 73)

In 2004, as caught by BBC and Indian television cameras, Sai Baba not only produced one lingam, but, if we take his officials’ word for it, two more offstage. The public ‘miracle’ he performed, to the suprise of many, in terribly fumbling and absent-minded fashion. One would think that this to declining faculties that many have noticed but which his minders have tried to mask as best they can under the all too tell-tale circumstances, and which Sai devotees keep a numbed silence about). However, according to Sai Baba’s chief translator and also a world-travelling emissary Professor Anil Kumar in his words to the crowds, Sai Baba privately manifested two more ‘atma lingams’ off-stage.

Datta, Tanya In the BBC’s The Secret Swami, the interviewer Tanya Datta comments:

“To the alarm of the crowd suddenly Sai Baba collapsed. His huge coterie of staff swung into action. There was panic. An organisation used to tight control seemed to have lost its grip. Sai Baba was hastily wheeled off stage.” Later, he is carried hobbling back, with officials claiming that he manifested two more lingams offstage”. Transcript is HERE. See the whole documentary. Broadband users click HERE (80 MB). There is a small version for modem users Here (23,3 MB)
Or you can download it packed in zip file (22 MB) Here.

Returning to the Kulwant Hall stage within the next hour, to the immensely relieved audience of many thousands, a pale and shaken Sai Baba makes the unfathomable claim:

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

But Centuries of Magicians Have Produced Objects By Regurgitation

Magicians have long produced objects – both precious and trivial – from out of their stomachs. A contemporary example is the British regurgitator Stevie Starr. The website:  http://www.steviestarr.com/index.php informs us that:

“He swallows live goldfish, pool balls, numbered coins, even dry sugar, and manages to bring them back up in order, on command (and in the case of the sugar, completely dry!)”

If you feel that you can control your own stomach, you can see a video clip (4.4mb) of Stevie Star at work HERE

There is a German documentary that shows ‘sadhus’ or Hindu ‘holy men’ performing tricks, including regurgitation:  Das Mysterium Der Shiva – Heilige Männer (Ein film von Eberhart Thiem, Helga Lippert, Arno Peik) from a German series called Terra X – Rätsel alter Weltkulturen). Swallowing of nails and regurgitating them one at a time is shown.

For a fascinating byway in film history, see HADJI ALI, Scenes from POLITIQUERIAS, the Spanish-language version of Laurel and Hardy’s Chickens Come Home. Hadji Ali is of that group of performers known as ‘regurgitators’ or ‘water spouters’. A vaudeville star in the first decades of the last century, this Egyptian-born performer was billed as ‘The Great Regurgitator’. In the webpage just cited, there are stark black and white shots of Hadji Ali performing the regurgitation trick in a 1931 Stanley Laurel and Oliver Hardy movie.

The Indian ‘holyman’ Swami Premananda also used to produce lingams.  He now sits in the bowls of a gaol with a double life sentence for rape  and murder, and not likely to be regurgitated therefrom.

basava-premanand-bbc-news-pic.jpgThe celebrated Indian Rationalist and ‘guru buster’ Basava Premanand appeared in the BBC’s The Secret Swami. Originally a Sai Baba devotee, he reported investigating Sathya Sai Baba since 1968, first “as a hobby” then going public in 1976. In this one-hour television documentary, B. Premanand is seen demonstrating the trick behind Sai Baba’s so-called ‘miraculous’ production of the golden lingam or Shiva lingam.  See my tribute:  Basava Premanand. Vale. A fighter for truth who lived what others preach

Powerful Psycho-religious Role of the Lingam Among Many Hindus

Sai Baba knows well how to tap into aeons-old Indian piety. He says he is all the gods and goddesses. Many Vaishnavites worship him as Lord Vishnu, many Shaivites, as Lord Shiva, and so on. But this phenomenon is not untypical – in the remarkable form of a live-and-let-live philosophy – and is seen in much guru worship throughout India, where an individual is free to worship the guru according to her or his own traditional or temperamental iconography or ishta devata (personalized or favourite form of godhead). To his devotees of Christian background, Sai Baba says that he is the Father who sent Lord Jesus Christ. Because of these deep Indian traditions of religious plurality and acceptance (which goes far deeper than mere tolerance), his devotees are happy, for example, to sing his praises in bhajans (antiphonal, commonly congregational hymn-singing) using the names of all the gods and goddesses.

Crowd Pulling Psychology Far Exceeding Barnum and Bailey

sai-babas-symbol-of-world-faiths.jpgSai Baba’s sarva dharma chakra (all-major Faiths symbol)

In one thing at least Sai Baba is supreme. He has the supreme ability to play the all-religions-are-essentially-one card with brilliance. He virtually adopts the role, at the level of self-proclaimed absolute Divinity, of being all-things-to-all religious men. One of the psychological factors he draws on goes emotionally deep for those worshipping him. Sathya Sai speaks, for example, of how his devotees plead with him not to produce the lingam, particularly now that he is becoming older and has been through a number of hip operations (he is 81, and may be older if we are to regard British colonial records). In The Deccan Herald report of the February 2004 Mahashivrathri, Srikanth Srinivasa wrote,

“Sai Baba’s devotees have been imploring him not to suffer the ordeal of bringing out the Linga every year at the cost of the god man’s health”

Sai Baba’s Promise: Who Witnesses His Production Of the Lingam is Liberated from Sin and Rebirth

Down the years, Sai Baba has made references like this:

“Those who are fortunate to witness Lingodbhava are freed from all sins”. Sanathana Sarathi, 3/99, p. 66

In short, he mines for all it is worth mass anxiety about the karmic future. Will one be damnably consigned to birth after birth? Or will a trip to Puttaparthi mend things, forever? In short, what this great religious showman offers – no, promises, absolutely – is absolution and forgiveness of sins. It is a consideration that motivates millions of religionists the world over.

A similar psychology – the spectacle of God’s pain, as it were – attends Christian attitudes to the ‘Passion’ or crucifixion story, and Christian evangelists have long played deeply on this.

Shiva Rules But Sai Baba Was No Tiger

Majestic symbol of undeniable cosmic forces, Lord Shiva sits forever serenely on his tigers skin. Sathya Sai Baba’s tiger skin is but that – a skin held dazzlingly aloft to make him appear be the real Shiva.

egg of goldPlaying cricket or playing Shiva?

sai-babas-mask-like-face-parkinsons.jpgSai Baba’s mask-like face. A degenerative disease like Parkinson’s?

……………………………..

Further Reading

Faked lingam production. Frame-by-frame analysis of the BBC and other footage is revealing indeed. Former leader of the Sathya Sai Organization, Norway, and retired academic of the University of Oslo, Robert Priddy, analyses and provides background notes, See, Mahahshivarathri 2004.  Quote: “Sai Baba allowed an unprecedented live broadcast in the Indian subcontinent of his so-called ‘lingodbhava’ (bringing the egg-like ellipsoidal object out of his mouth after what looks like a painful process of ‘regurgitation’). However, one can most clearly see that NO lingam ‘actually emerged at all this year. Instead there was a small spurt of yellowish vomit, which was later claimed to be the lingam in liquid golden form!”

Devotees’ Expectations and SSB’s Lingam Production (Background Notes on the 2004 Mahasivaratri Spectacle). In this article, the Australian scholar and former devotee Brian Steel writes:

“It is not unreasonable to hypothesise that in 1999 and 2000, this popular event may even have been deliberately revived for precisely the same promotional reasons, at a time when the Organisation was acutely aware that very strong criticism and denunciation of SSB was about to be made public overseas by two very high-profile close ex-devotees (David Bailey and Naresh Bhatia) who had recently “defected” and whose spectacular revelations were nervously awaited. If this hypothesis is not correct, and if the Lingodbhava performance was discontinued because of fears of unruly crowds in 1977, why revive it when the crowds are much larger today?”

Notes

“Bhagavan Baba kept manifesting His divinity in the form of Lingodbhava year after year on every Shivaratri till 1977 when He announced that he had decided to discontinue Lingodbhava in public. Those who witnessed this Divine phenomenon again on 15 February, 1999 were really fortunate as it happened after a long gap of more than 20 years.” Editor, Sanathana Sarathi, 3/99, p. 81

Barry Pittard at Call For Media and Government Investigation of Sathya Sai Baba: https://barrypittard.wordpress.com

The Decline and Fall of the Showman Empire

The BBC’s The Secret Swami – A Revision

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

View Revealing video Clips From The BBC’s The Secret Swami

For Viewing

The BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’ – as well as exposing other fraudulence – had the camera well trained on Sathya Sai Baba. Although the Puttaparthi officials thought that the BBC was going to make their day, the crew were well-briefed by former devotees, and had their eyes open – and indeed the lens of their camera! – in a way that blinded devotees and a public that is mostly unaware of how magicians perform their tricks rarely do. Within the quietness of your computer room, however, you can train your eyes simply by seeing, really seeing, what there is to see.

SEE THE VIDEO CLIP OF THE ABOVE FAKING (filesize 700 Kbs)

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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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, Philosophy, Propaganda, Rationalism, Religion, Spirituality, Theology, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

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

Posted by Barry Pittard on April 4, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Secret Swami confines itself to four areas:

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

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

Focus on One Family Obscures Vast Extent of Allegations

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

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

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

Governments Placate India

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BBC Evicted From Puttaparthi For Asking About Allegations

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

Sai Baba’s Power Isn’t Flower Power

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

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

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

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

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

Foreign Goose Lays Multi-billion Dollar Eggs For Sai Baba

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sai Baba “Wanted My Son”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isaac Tigrett says,

“He could go out and murder someone tomorrow.”

Tanya Datta probes,

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

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

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

“Absolutely Cold-blooded Murder”

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

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

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

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

Room For Many More Documentaries

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

Rating: three and a half out of five.

Further Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Goldstein explodes with anger (710kbs)

at the BBC’s perfectly reasonable questions about accountability

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

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

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

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

Further Reading

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

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