10.00.02 Title Page thisworld
10.00.07 Title Page The Secret Swami
10.00.15 Aston – Puttaparthi, Southern India
10.00.21 Tanya Datta : Five AM. And these devotees have been awake for hours. In this holy town an auspicious day is about to dawn. These people are followers of India’s biggest spiritual guru. For them he’s an avatar; God in human form.
10.00.43 Tanya Datta : Like them, I’ve come today because he’s promised to perform a rare miracle.
10.00.51 Tanya Datta: As the sun finally rises thousands are flooding in.
10.00.58 Tanya Datta: Some have even waited all night.
10.01.07 Tanya Datta: As he approaches a wave of excitement ripples through the hall. The atmosphere turns feverish.
10.01.19 Tanya Datta: These people are about to look upon the face of their living God.
10.01.27 Tanya Datta: Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
10.01.45 Aston Arkansas, USA
10.01.51 Tanya Datta: There’s no shortage of God in the American mid-West but even here Sai Baba has made inroads. During the nineties this isolated corner of North Arkansas was the model Sai Baba commune.
10.02.08 Tanya Datta: It was run by Al and Marisa Rahm and their family.
10.02.13 Tanya Datta: This is incredible Al.
10.02.15 Al Rahm: This is where we lived and also we kept it as a, you know we planned it as a centre for the community and…
10.02.23 Tanya Datta: And this is the house you were saying that you all built.
10.02.26 Al Rahm: Yes, we built this, our family built this and…
10.02.28 Marisa Rahm: Friends.
10.02.29 Al Rahm: And a lot of friends who would come out…
10.02.30 Aston MARISA & AL RAHM
10.02.30 Al Rahm: We became the Arkansas Sai Baba Centre. Meaning that it was a spiritual community based on the teachings of Sai Baba and with guidelines that had to do with vegetarianism and…
10.02.46 Marisa Rahm: We did study groups; we studied Sai Baba’s teachings.
10.02.49 Marisa Rahm: It was the family home. But since it was the largest home n the community we had our devotional singing here every Thursday. Big parties.
10.02.56 Al Rahm: Like for Shivaratri, you know, at Shivaratri people would sing all night, we would, we would have…
10.03.01 Marisa Rahm: Each family had their own home and the community chose to build our own schoolhouse and hired schoolteachers to come and live in an apartment above the schoolhouse.
10.03.13 Tanya Datta: How were you brought up to see Sai Baba when you were a child?
10.03.17 Aston ALAYA RAHM: As God. Pretty straightforward. God in human form, the avatar. I didn’t really understand too much of it but that was probably one of the main things that, that kind of made me feel a little excluded from most of the quote, unquote, normal kids going to school and going to church, there’s the fact that my family and a bunch of other families who we were associated with believe that there was a God in human form on earth now.
10.03.54 Aston Dr MICHAEL GOLDSTEIN International Chairman Sathya Sai Organisation: 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.
10.04.11 Translation of Sai Baba: Tanya Datta: Sri Sathya Sai Baba says whenever you see a sick person, a dispirited, disconsolate, diseased person; there is your field of service.
10.04.21 Tanya Datta: Today, Doctor Michael Goldstein is the guest of honour at this British Sai Baba function. He’s the
international chairman of the organisation and a man close to Sai Baba personally.
10.04.38 Dr Michael Goldstein: I submit to you that every man and women, all of us, are spiritual seekers.
10.04.46 Dr Michael Goldstein: I had no sense of purpose in my life, until I went to see Sathya Sai Baba. In nineteen seventy-five my wife and I went, we had the good fortune to interact with Sathya Sai Baba. I looked into his eyes and I lost all sense of individuality and became immersed in what I felt was an ocean of love.
10.05.08 Tanya Datta: The Rahm family also became close to Sai Baba.
10.05.13 Tanya Datta: So, what’s down here Al?
10.05.15 Al Rahm: Well, this is a shed where we keep, you know, various tools and supplies and we have a box in there that contains all the stuff that Baba gave us that was supposedly materialised including robes.
10.05.35 Al Rahm: Check it out. That’s what every devotee would want.
10.05.38 Tanya Datta: That’s extraordinary. This is at the height of your closeness to Sai Baba.
10.05.42 Marisa Rahm: Yeah, that was.
10.05.44 Al Rahm: So these are two of the three robes that Baba gave us. Baba gave one to me, he gave one to Marisa, he gave one to Alaya.
10.05.51 Tanya Datta: A robe like the one he wears?
10.05.53 Marissa Rahm: That he wore.
10.05.53 Al Rahm: That he actually wore.
10.05.54 Alaya Rahm: Ones that he’s already worn. Actual size, actual everything.
10.06.08 Tanya Datta: I’ve always been fascinated by the holy men of India. The swami’s, yogis and gurus. They’re part of an ancient tradition here.
10.06.19 Tanya Datta: And then there’s the God men; human beings who declare themselves divine. With an estimated thirty million devotees spread across the world, Sai Baba is India’s biggest God man and its most controversial.
10.06.36 Tanya Datta: For years he’s been surrounded by scandal, yet his popularity shows no sign of falling. So I’ve come to this Sai Baba wonderland, Puttaparthi, to explore the enigma behind the public face.
10.06.55 Aston KHUSHWANT SINGH Writer: We’ve not the slightest doubt that he is the most popular of all the God men and God women we have today. And you can’t ascribe it to a kind of publicity campaign because there’s never been anything of that kind. You don’t see any advertisements in magazines or on TV or anything; it was like Gandhi, he never had any and yet he had this suddenly by word of mouth it was all over the country as the Great Mahatma.
10.07.28 Tanya Datta: Sai Baba’s followers now come from over one hundred and sixty-five countries. Western devotees have always flocked to him.
10.07.38 Khushwant Singh: It’s a matter of great prestige to have a foreign following. Indians get highly impressed when they see white people coming and touching and becoming devotees. That applies to the Germans, the Australians, Italians, Spaniards, Americans, all shaved heads with their pigtails behind them and wearing saffron and mumbo jumbo of the prayers that they carry out, dancing in the streets.
10.08.09 Man in pink shirt: I met Sai Baba psychically twenty-one years before I met him physically.
10.08.14 Tanya Datta: Psychically?
10.08.15 Man in pink shirt: Yeah.
10.08.15 Lady in white: He’s in you, me and everybody; it’s like a golden light.
10.08.20 Lady in red: He’s love incarnate.
10.08.22 Young man: Just seeing him, man, I mean I was like, I mean these vibrations of like spasms of ecstasy, it was like going through my body and I was like shivering and hair was standing on its end.
10.08.35 Khushwant Singh: It’s quite baffling.
10.08.51 Tanya Datta: Many devotees came from that Mecca of counter culture, California. It was the late sixties and the
spirit of the age was revolution.
10.09.03 Tanya Datta: The hippie generation sparked up, dropped out and partied. It was also in California that Al and Marisa first met.
10.09.13 Marisa Rahm: I was living the high life, I was in Hollywood meeting some of the top stars and thought it was all quite exciting but at the same time I was also pretty unaware and pretty drugged most of the time, I was just partying. Life was about beauty, being young, being famous in Hollywood and becoming a star and being noticed.
10.09.33 Tanya Datta: As love and peace became the slogan of the times, many embarked on a journey of spiritual exploration.
10.09.43 Al Rahm: I was on the opposite end of the spectrum; I was motivated by spiritual pursuits. I was, considered myself a yogi, I mean I focused, I was doing yoga and meditation, fasting and spiritual experiences.
10.10.01 Tanya Datta: Drawn by gurus like Maharishi, thousands of westerners flocked to India seeking spiritual enlightenment. Visits from stars like the Beatles brought added glamour to the road East.
10.10.15 Aston ISAAC TIGRETT: 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.
10.10.36 Tanya Datta: This man was part of the hippie generation.
10.10.41 Tanya Datta: But Isaac Tigrett also saw the age as a wonderful business opportunity.
10.10.48 Tanya Datta: He’s one of the founders of the world famous Hard Rock Café. He mixed burgers and beer with rock memorabilia to create a global phenomenon and a massive personal fortune.
10.11.00 Isaac Tigrett: Well, that was seventy pounds ago. Yes, underneath the hair is my good self here and see my religious life is already beginning.
10.11.11 Tanya Datta: The Hard Rock’s so known for its memorabilia round the world but not many people know about its association with Sai Baba.
10.11.16 Isaac Tigrett: No, no, it’s not public knowledge but now that I’ve done this interview with you guys, it certainly will be.
10.11.24 Tanya Datta: Isaac took Sai Baba’s motto; ‘Love All, Serve All’ and made it the motto of the Hard Rock.
10.11.31 Tanya Datta: But even with all his wealth and fame Isaac felt there was still something missing from his life.
10.11.39 Isaac Tigrett: I said look I need to start a search, I need to go and look for what I think is a master, a guru, a spiritual leader, a teacher, something because of the hunger inside of me. I searched all over India, I went to ever Ashram, every holy place, I heard about this obscure little guru, decided to go down there and there was a festival day, there was a huge crowd and he parted the crowd and came right over to me, I was standing at the back and he said; you’ve come at last, I’ve been waiting for you. So, he turned and said; we have many things that we’re going to do together, you wait right here. He didn’t speak to me again for fifteen years.
10.12.23 Tanya Datta: In nineteen seventy-nine, the Rahm family made their own pilgrimage to India. They were married now and their son, Alaya, was just a baby.
10.12.33 Tanya Datta: Marisa had embraced her husband’s faith with enthusiasm. For years she’d been having visions of Sai Baba.
10.12.42 Marisa Rahm: I felt I was coming to heaven on earth; this was going to be the place where my Lord or God at that time lived.
10.12.51 Tanya Datta: A living God?
10.12.52 Marisa Rahm: A living God and this was his home and I was coming to his home.
10.12.58 Tanya Datta: In India the Rahms imbibed the legends and history of their Guru, stories of how, as a baby, a deadly cobra was found under his blankets but he was unharmed. How at fourteen the devout young boy declared himself to be Sai Baba, God on earth. By nineteen-fifty, he’d opened an Ashram, a spiritual community, it was called Prashanti Nilayam, or abode of eternal peace.
10.13.46 Tanya Datta: Amidst the beauty and spirituality of India lies the reality of hard lives. Here in the vast rural state of Andhra Pradesh, villagers face drought and poverty on a daily basis. Little surprise then that when the authorities failed to deliver that essential resource, water, Sai Baba’s ability to cut through the red tape means that he’s hailed as a God.
10.14.13 Tanya Datta: In the mid nineteen nineties his charity spent over forty million pounds supplying water to villages like this.
10.14.32 Tanya Datta: This says Sri Sathya Sai water.
10.14.35 Girl: Yeah, Sathya Sai water.
10.14.36 Tanya Datta: How long has it been here?
10.14.38 Girl: Fourteen years.
10.14.39 Tanya Datta: Fourteen years. Is this good water?
10.14.42 Girl: It is good water, healthy water.
10.14.45 Tanya Datta: Is it healthy water? It’s clean water?
10.14.47 Girl: Clean water, healthy water.
10.14.51 Tanya Datta: And what do you think of Sai Baba?
10.14.55 Girl : Sai Baba is a God.
10.14.57 Tanya Datta: Sai Baba is God.
10.14.59 Isaac Tigrett: The water project that he did in Andhra Pradesh, in one year they laid two thousand kilometres of pipe, they brought to thousands of villages fresh water that they’d never had, that women had to travel twenty miles a day to get a little bucket. That was an amazing project.
10.15.19 Tanya Datta: Isaac Tigrett did some good works of his own. By the time Sai Baba spoke to him again he’d become an extremely rich man. When the guru told him of his dream for an ultra modern hospital in the heart of Andhra Pradesh, Tigrett donated tens of millions of dollars. Prince Charles’s architect Keith Critchlow, who’s also a Sai Baba devotee, was hired to design it.
10.15.51 Tanya Datta: It was opened in nineteen ninety-one, and specialised in hi-tech heart and kidney surgery – free of charge. Tigrett is convinced that the hospital, built on blood, sweat and burgers was worthy of his generosity. And certainly his guru was grateful.
10.16.14 Translator for Sai Baba: This is, this metal, silver metal is…
10.16.19 Tanya Datta: Can you tell me how much you donated to the hospital?
10.16.23 Isaac Tigrett: Err, well I, I don’t really want to say the exact amount but I’ll tell you in India it goes a long way. A long, long way.
10.16.31 Tanya Datta: I’ve heard it was over a hundred million dollars.
10.16.33 Isaac Tigrett: No, nothing close to that. Enough to build a five hundred room hospital and equip it and get it started.
10.16.47 Tanya Datta: The Rahm family went back to India in nineteen ninety-seven, by then Alaya was a handsome teenager. At the Ashram they eagerly attended Darshan, the daily mass audience with their God.
10.17.01 Al Rahm: The first day, Baba came walking out and he saw Alaya and his eyes got real big and then he looked at me and he said; how many in your group. And we said; ten. And he said; you go in and he called us in for an interview.
10.17.15 Tanya DattaL Sai Baba was about to fulfil one of Alaya’s lifelong dreams. He materialised a sacred ring for him.
10.17.26 Alaya Rahm: I was overjoyed. And I’d heard my Mom often talk about, ooh, I would love to get a ring from Sai Baba, I would love to get a ring from Sai Baba. So, I thought it was just the best thing in the world that had happened to me, the fact that he had given me a ring, I was, I was overjoyed.
10.17.46 Tanya Datta: Underpinning Sai Baba’s claim to be a living God is an apparent ability to perform miracles. Many of his followers and even some of his critics believe that he has genuine paranormal powers. Over the years the God man has produced scores of objects out of thin air; watches, rings, necklaces.
10.18.13 Dr Michael Goldstein: These are things Sathya Sai Baba has made; this watch, these rings and this. Sometimes he will give somebody something and produce or manifest something and it’s like a calling card, it gets their attention so that they can come and see what he really has to offer.
10.18.31 Tanya Datta: But for many devotees like young Alaya Rahm, Sai Baba’s generosity came at a cost.
10.18.38 Alaya Rahm: At the same time I was overjoyed, there was also a little bit of confusion because that was the first interview in which he called me in personally.
10.18.50 Tanya Datta: He took you aside?
10.18.51 Alaya Rahm: Mm, mm. Took me aside and put the oil on his hands and, and told me to drop my pants and rubbed my genitalia with the oil and pulled me close and started kissing me heavily on the mouth and I was really taken back by it and not understanding what was going on.
10.19.13 Al Rahm: I said; so tell me about, you know, your interview. And he said; well I’m not supposed to tell anybody, Baba told me not to tell anybody and I looked at him and I said; did he make oil for you? And his eyes got kind of big and he said; how did you know? And I said; did he rub it on you? And he said; yeah. He said; how did you know? And I said; because it happened to me.
10.19.37 Tanya Datta: To Alaya’s surprise his father had had the same oiling experience when he first visited Sai Baba aged eighteen. The guru had told him it was a ritual healing process. Al accepted this and when it happened to Alaya he saw nothing wrong.
10.20.09 Tanya Datta: There are still some who are not afraid to pour scorn on Sai Baba’s claims of divinity. Basava Premanand is India’s leading guru buster and a rationalist. His mission is to expose any charlatan who pretends his magic tricks are miracles and to rid his country of superstition and myth.
10.20.30 Tanya Datta: How many years have you been chasing Sai Baba then?
10.20.34 Basava Premanand: I have been investigating him since nineteen sixty-eight.
10.20.38 Tanya Datta: Nineteen sixty-eight.
10.20.39 Basava Premanand: Sixty-eight. Investigating and drawing my conclusions and keeping it as a hobby.
10.20.46 Tanya Datta: What do you think of him then?
10.20.47 Basava Premanand: The thing is, you can explain miracles, you can expose people who act like miracle men and it was in nineteen seventy-six I started going to the public.
10.21.06 Tanya Datta: Today we’ve hit the road with the rationalists to see them at work, persuading people to give up blind belief and become more scientific.
10.21.17 Tanya Datta: We’ve come to the village of Belthangary. The people here are typical of the bulk of Sai Baba’s followers.
10.21.25 Tanya Datta: For the rationalists this is the frontline in the battle between superstition and science. Today another leading rationalist is the ringmaster revealing the tricks that lie behind Sai Baba’s miracles. Narendra Nayak.
10.21.41 Narendra Nayak; A few years back a miracle was performed by Sai Baba in public. He showed his empty hands, waved them in the air and then produced a chain. Both hands were empty, five fingers were apart. Just hold his empty hand like this and you’re all busy looking at it and here he produces a chain from thin air.
10.22.04 Tanya Datta: Narendra also reveals that the same technique is behind one of the guru’s most famous displays; the materialisation of Vibhuti, a holy ash sacred to Hindus. It’s the basic magician’s trick of palming.
10.22.19 Narendra Nayak: The Great Sai Baba of Puttaparthi gives holy ash to his devotees. He just takes an empty hand, waves it in the air like this and when he brings it down he produces holy ash from nowhere.
10.22.32 Narendra Nayak: Usually God men give with one hand but I’m giving with both the hands. How does it happen? Very, very easy.
10.22.43 Tanya Datta: So Narendra, how do you hide the Vibhuti in your hands?
10.22.45 Narendra Nayak: I just hide it in between my palm and my index finger like this.
10.22.53 Tanya Datta: Can I try it?
10.22.55 Narendra Nayak: Just like this. But you must absolutely relax so that nobody will know what’s happening. And when you wave it in the air like this you just crush it like this and do this…
10.23.08 Tanya Datta: That’s quite difficult to do actually, isn’t it?
10.23.11 Narendra Nayak: But we have practised it quite a lot.
10.23.13 Tanya Datta: Ok.
10.23.14 Narendra Nayak: Every miracle man rotates their hand before they produce something. You know why? People don’t see the movement of the fingers because the hand is rotating.
10.23.35 Tanya Datta: Back at the Ashram and the Shivaratri festival was in full swing. But the strain of the promised miracle seemed to be taking its toll. The God was looking unwell. He’d pledged to give birth through his mouth to an egg shaped object called a Golden Lingam. It’s said to represent the mystery of the cosmos. There’s little mystery to Sai Baba’s own teachings. He urges people to believe in God, to be charitable, truthful and peace loving. It’s not radical thinking but perhaps that’s the secret of its appeal.
10.24.10 Aston Santa Monica, California
10.24.28 Tanya Datta: Mark Roche devoted twenty-five years of his life to Sai Baba. He first heard of him in nineteen sixty-nine and soon joined the local centre in California. The guru’s message was the big attraction.
10.24.44 Aston MARK ROCHE: The teachings themselves were very universal and adopted the attitude of embracing all other religions so that it wasn’t a matter of this religion opposed to that, that you had to leave whatever you were in to be associated with Sai Baba, it was something that just be a better Christian or a better Jew or a better whatever it is rather than necessarily having to leave it mixed with the fact that the person who is the head of that is claiming to be God himself.
10.25.15 Tanya Datta: It’s the special moment when God calls. And Mark couldn’t believe his luck when he was summoned for a private interview. But he emerged shocked and confused. Just like the Rahms, Sai Baba had oiled his genitals. Two years later Mark was called for an audience again.
10.25.37 Mark Roche: He kept saying stuff like that I’m giving you a great chance, millions want to touch the feet, you know, I’m giving you whole body, this is great chance, this is great chance. Then he went over to a different of the building and pulled up his dhoti, which is Indian garment kind of thing and exposed himself and sort of indicated that I was supposed to put his penis in my mouth, which, feeling intimidated and confused and all that, I did. And although it didn’t seem right to me but it just seemed like what I was supposed to do.
10.26.15 Tanya Datta: Why would God want to put his penis in your mouth?
10.26.20 Mark Roche: Got me.
10.26.24 Tanya Datta: One of the things that a lot of the abuse victims we’ve talked to have said, is that Sai Baba does these genital oilings because it’s part of Hinduism. Have you ever heard anything like that?
10.26.35 Aston KHUSHWANT SINGH Writer: I, I, I, for one, it’s nothing to do with, 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.
10.27.14 Tanya Datta: Back in America the Rahm family were fast becoming the stars of the Sai Baba community. They travelled
across the country preaching the gospel according to Baba.
10.27.26 Al Rahm: This is a song that was an extreme joy to be able to sit there right in front of him and look into his eyes and we sang this song. It’s called Oh Baba.
10.27.47 Tanya Datta: Al, Marisa and Alaya formed a singing group called Bhakti, which means path of love. Stars of the
spiritual circuit, they were the perfect new age family, the embodiment of the Love All, Serve All dream.
10.28.05 Marisa Rahm: We’d talk and tell stories in between what, you know, what inspired this song and you know, Al would, you know, tell a story about Sai Baba and really it was kind of a hit.
10.28.20 Tanya Datta: The family were proving to be quite a hit too. On their various visits to Puttaparthi the Rahm’s were being
singled out for unprecedented attention from their guru.
10.28.35 Al Rahm: This is a lot of the jewellery; these are all pure gold watches.
10.28.38 Alaya Rahm: Yeah, pure gold with real diamonds. He said, oh real gold a hundred percent, real diamonds, the next day diamonds fall out, the gold starts flaking and people are like what’s the deal with that, you must not be pure.
10.28.49 Al Rahm: Baba was giving him money; I think he gave him several thousands dollars…
10.28.52 Marisa Rahm: Jewellery.
10.28.53 Al Rahm: He gave him a watch and a ring and he…
10.28.57 Marisa Rahm: A couple of rings.
10.28.57 Al Rahm: …we all got rings and watches and earrings.
10.29.00 Marisa Rahm: Yeah, 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.
10.29.10 Tanya Datta: What Al and Marisa didn’t know was that while he was showering their family with gifts and attention Sai Baba was exacting a heavy price from their son.
10.29.19 Alaya Rahm: Oral sex he would try to get that to happen several times. Both on, he would perform it to me and then, you know, and then sometimes threaten to cut my penis off and hold it, like it’s bad, I should cut it off. He would ask me all the time; why don’t you want me, you don’t want me. It was so far out to me, to think that he was actually just wanting me to physically want him.
10.29.46 Alaya Rahm: I, I could pretty much stop convincing myself that any of this was spiritual when he lifted his robe and his dhoti up to his chest and showed me the whole bottom half of this body and told me to take my pants off and then he tried to, I’m much taller than he is, he’s like five feet tall maybe and I’m six, six and he tried to climb up onto me, you know.
10.30.12 Tanya Datta: To rape you?
10.30.13 Alaya Rahm: Yeah, that’s what it felt like. I mean he was, for a seventy year old man as erect as I think a seventy year old man can get. I even saw semen come out of his penis one time and that was when I was, wow, this is a human being.
10.30.32 Tanya Datta: In spite of the growing abuse Alaya continued to play the dutiful son.
10.30.41 Alaya Rahm: Now I think Swami’s plan for me is, he said; we’re all tools. And we just have to be available for Swami to use us at any time that he feels necessary. And so, I just want to be ready because I imagine that he’s going to snatch me up and say I need to use a screwdriver right about now and just use me so I need to be there and I’m doing what I can.
10.30.03 Alaya Rahm: I’ve even said my mom say so many, so many times, you know, now is, now is the golden time, we’re getting attention, you know Alaya, whatever Sai Baba’s telling you to do, do it. Whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it right because God is paying attention to us.
10.30.21 Tanya Datta: And yet she had no idea how tragic her words actually were?
10.31.24 Alaya Rahm: Right.
10.31.34 Tanya Datta: Sai Baba the God was beginning to appear all too human. Rumours of sexual abuse have been circulating for years but rarely have they been made as explicit as in Alaya’s story. It’s said there are also many young Indian victims but they’re too afraid to speak out openly. Defying the organisation here could have serious consequences.
10.31.58 Tanya Datta: Absolute faith is demanded. At these celebrations of the Hindu God Lord Shiva, the people seem to have willingly surrendered themselves in mind and in spirit.
10.32.15 Tanya Datta: Their faith was about to be rewarded.
10.32.29 Tanya Datta: Suddenly there it was; a Golden Lingam, a symbol of the supreme being. And to the devotees around me it was a miracle.
10.32.46 Tanya Datta: On the rationalists’ road show Mr Premanand was also feeling unwell.
10.32.53 Narendra Nayak: Oh, oh! He’s paining, stomach is paining.
10.33.12 Narendra Nayak: He used to have it inside. This is a regurgitation trick which is practiced by many magicians.
10.33.17 Tanya Datta: So some people will actually swallow a stone and regurgitate it.
10.33.18 Narendra Nayak: Yes, actual swallow it. Yeah, yeah, yeah, regurgitate it but he stopped doing it.
10.33.24 Tanya Datta: How do you know he’s stopped doing it?
10.33.25 Narendra Nayak: Because now we see the towel in the hand. And…
10.33.29 Tanya Datta: So when he’s moving the towel to his mouth…
10.33.31 Narendra Nayak: Yeah, mouth, sometimes he takes, makes a, takes a sip of water from a glass and then he slips it into his mouth.
10.33.37 Tanya Datta: And he’s vomiting up all the time.
10.33.38 Narendra Nayak: Yeah, he’s vomiting up, sometimes he will mix it out like that, sometimes he hides it in a towel and he will do the actions…and then drop it from that.
10.34.01 Tanya Datta: But the exertion of miracle making had proved too much. Even for a God. To the alarm of the crowd suddenly Sai Baba collapsed.
10.34.17 Tanya Datta: His huge coterie of staff swung into action. There was panic. An organisation used to tight control seemed to have lost its grip.
10.34.32 Tanya Datta: Sai Baba was hastily wheeled off stage.
10.34.35 Singing/Alaya playing pool
10.34.47 Tanya Datta: For the Rahm family the tragedy was coming to a head. Alaya’s parents were noticing changes in their son.
10.34.55 Alaya playing pool
10.34.57 Marisa Rahm: He wasn’t looking happy even in India going into these interviews. I would wait until he would come out and he didn’t look happy to go in and he didn’t really look happy to come out and there was a suspicion growing in me that, you know, things were going wrong.
10.35.14 Alaya playing pool
10.35.20 Al Rahm: We were concerned about Alaya’s behaviour and the way he was acting and so we decided we were going to confront him. Well, to my surprise when Alaya said ok and he started to tell the story, it was so much more than I knew anything about. And that in fact he had been forced, sexually forced and abused by Sai Baba in almost every single interview he had ever been in.
10.35.53 Tanya Datta: What did you feel like as his mother and father listening to that?
10.35.58 Marisa Rahm: It’s like everything went white for me, I just, the being which I call Sai Baba, the living God that I had taken for years into my private heart had been truly abusing my son for so long. I felt completely betrayed that I had actually led my son into this, telling my son to trust in this man completely and Sai Baba, the Sai Baba, was a predator and a, and a man who cared only for himself and for taking precious love from his devotees and really I can see now he really didn’t care about me. He wanted my son.
10.36.58 Al Rahm: First thing I said was; Alaya, why didn’t you, why, I said; you only told me this one little thing, why didn’t you tell us all of this before, why have you waited so long.
10.37.10 Tanya Datta: Why didn’t you tell your parents?
10.37.12 Alaya Rahm: Well because he would tell me not to tell them. He would threaten me. I mean I remember him saying; if you don’t do what I say your life will be full with pain and suffering. And that’s a pretty heavy thing to hear being sixteen and God’s telling you do what I say or your life is going to be full of pain and suffering.
10.37.34 Al Rahm : And he said; and I was afraid. He said; I was so afraid that, that I would be responsible for bringing down the organisation and…
10.37.42 Marisa Rahm: And possibly losing us.
10.37.43 Alaya Rahm: …that I would lose my parents. He said; I was afraid that, that you guys might chose to follow Sai Baba and I would be without my family and no one in the world to, you know, I would be alone.
10.37.57 Tanya Datta: What do you think now, looking at all these things that were so cherished by you?
10.38.03 Al Rahm: Really, one word comes to my mind when I look at this box and I would say that this is a box of bribes.
10.38.09 Alaya Rahm: Yeah.
10.38.31 Tanya Datta: At seventy-eight Sai Baba is becoming frail. His reputation is also showing signs of strain. But his
support from India’s power elite is as strong as ever. Prime ministers and presidents, judges and generals all go to worship at the Ashram.
10.38.50 Speaker: His Excellency, the President of India.
10.38.57 Tanya Datta: Even the newly elected leader has paid his respects.
10.38.58 Aston 23 November 1993
10.39.00 Speaker: The Honourable Mr Manmohan Singh.
10.39.02 Tanya Datta: The people at the top are aware of the rumours as they’ve been around for at least thirty years. Three years ago, in response to claims against Sai Baba, the former Prime Minister Atal Vajpayee, issued a letter on his official notepaper calling the allegations ‘wild, reckless and concocted’.
10.39.22 Tanya Datta: Did the government of India know something? Had they investigated Sai Baba and found him to be as
pure as he proclaimed. I went to Delhi, the political heart of India, to find out why successive governments have given him such support.
10.39.39 Tanya Datta: Do you agree with the contents of Mr Vajpayee’s letter?
10.39.42 Aston Dr MURALI MANOHAR JOSHI Former Cabinet Minister: I do agree that these charges appear to be baseless.
10.39.46 Tanya Datta: Are you aware of the nature of the claims against Sai Baba?
10.39.50 Dr Murli Manohar Joshi: Well I have read something and I’m, I know Sai Baba very well, I know most of these people very well. And I can say that whatever Mr Vajpayee has said is the correct position.
10.40.05 Tanya Datta: The correct position for Mr Joshi and other former government ministers appears to have been side by side with Sai Baba. Until the recent election he was a senior minister in the Indian government, a powerful man. We were interested to know if any future investigation of Sai Baba had been compromised by the former Prime Minister’s letter.
10.40.29 Tanya Datta: Isn’t the point really that any possible investigation by the state of Sai Baba would be compromised?
10.40.34 Dr Murli Manohar Joshi: No, no, there has been no, you see, there’s no question, any false allegation, you see. I know that this is a case in which your BBC is, is involved and people from England are, have been making certain charges against Sai Baba but that doesn’t mean that the charges are true.
10.40.50 Tanya Datta: I just wanted to know whether you think that there’s a danger that the Indian government could be bringing itself into disrepute by so many leading members of this government being associated.
10.41.01 Dr Murli Manohar Joshi: No, no. Not so.
10.41.04 Tanya Datta: Not so.
10.41.08 Tanya Datta: Mr Joshi would brook no criticism. He was starting to lose his temper.
10.41.14 Dr Murli Manohar Joshi: It is your intention to malign Sai Baba. It is your intention to malign Mr Vajpayee and Mr Bagavati.
10.41.21 Tanya Datta: Not at all.
10.41.22 Dr Murli Manohar Joshi: This is and nothing beyond it.
10.41.23 Tanya Datta: No, it’s not.
10.41.24 Dr Murli Manohar Joshi: It is.
10.41.25 Tanya Datta: I know what, I know what I…
10.41.26 Dr Murli Manohar Joshi: You say, I say, I say the…
10.41.27 Tanya Datta: I wanted just to ask you…
10.41.28 Dr Murli Manohar Joshi: No, no, no…
10.41.31 Dr Murli Manohar Joshi: You don’t know the meaning of interviewing a minister in my capacity, as a minister of my stature.
10.41.38 Tanya Datta: Of course I understand.
10.41.39 Dr Murli Manohar Joshi: You don’t understand it.
10.41.50 Tanya Datta: Not every government, I discovered, is so enamoured with Sai Baba. The scale of the abuse has caused alarm around the world. In Sweden a Sai Baba school closed down after disturbing revelations from a young boy. The American government is also concerned. On the website of the American Embassy in Delhi, there’s a warning to any US citizen visiting the state of Andhra Pradesh.
10.42.17 Tanya Datta: It draws attention to a noted God man who reportedly indulges in inappropriate sexual behaviour with young male devotees. We contacted the US Embassy in Delhi and they confirmed to us for the first time that they’re directly referring to Sai Baba.
10.42.39 Tanya Datta: Sex abuse is not the only controversy tainting the God man’s reputation.
10.42.56 Tanya Datta: On a June night back in nineteen ninety-three, four devotees broke into Sai Baba’s quarters. They were armed with knives.
10.43.06 Tanya Datta: 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.
10.43.21 Tanya Datta: As they approached they were stopped by four of Sai Baba’s attendants.
10.43.34 Tanya Datta: 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.
10.43.51 Aston VPB NAIR Former Home Minister, Andhra Pradesh: 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.
10.44.13 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.
10.44.24 Tanya Datta: What happened next is hotly disputed. The official version seemed clear.
10.44.30 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.
10.44.45 Tanya Datta; In self-defence?
10.44.46 VPB Nair: In self-defence. They opened fire and killed all the four boys. This the police story.
10.45.19 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.
10.45.45 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.
10.46.01 Tanya Datta: So are you suggesting that the police executed the boys that night?
10.46.05 VPB Nair: In absolute, this is absolute cold-blooded murder.
10.46.13 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.
10.46.42 Tanya Datta: Critics say police connections ensured that Sai Baba wasn’t even interviewed, despite being one of the witnesses to the events of that night.
10.46.51 Aston BASAVA PREMANAND Rationalist & Author: The only person who was a witness to the murders of
mysterious deaths, that was Sai Baba and he was not examined as, for evidence at all and those students also who were there, two or three students they were not examined at all.
10.47.08 Tanya Datta: Why do you think that the nineteen ninety-three murders weren’t properly investigated?
10.47.12 Basava Premanand: The central government stopped the investigation because if the investigation takes place, a lot of things will come out. One thing. Economic offences, sex offences, all these things will come out.
10.47.30 Tanya Datta: Shocked at what he considers a travesty of justice, the former Home Secretary is now seeking to reopen the case.
10.47.39 VPB Nair: The killing of the boys was only to buy silence. If the boys are taken to the court of law, if they were arrested and taken to the court of law, they would have stated several things including why did they want to meet Baba.
10.48.00 Tanya Datta: In Arkansas, the parents of Alaya Rahm were also eeking justice. They were confident they were going to get it.
10.48.08 Marisa Rahm: Al and I are driving in the car going; oh my God, this, we thought we had information that was going to bring down a giant organisation.
10.48.19 Tanya Datta: The Rahms took their son’s story to Doctor Michael Goldstein; he’s the international chairman, in charge of running the organisation around the world. He’s also a medical doctor, so Al had no qualms about telling him the whole painful story. It was September nineteen ninety-nine.
10.48.39 Al Rahm: Initially he appeared shocked.
10.48.42 Marisa Rahm: And very shaken.
10.48.43 Al Rahm: And shaken. And he said; I hate to think that twenty-five years of my life has been for nothing. And he said; words, he said faith has got to be restored and words will not be enough.
10.48.57 Marisa Rahm: That’s right.
10.48.58 Alaya Rahm: And those were his words to me; he looked me straight in the eye and said that. And that gave me hope.
10.49.07 Al Rahm: Michael said; I’m going to personally talk to Sai Baba about this. I’m going over, I’m going to talk to Sai Baba and please don’t tell anyone until I have a chance to get back with you.
10.49.19 Tanya Datta: Doctor Goldstein did go to India to question Sai Baba. When we originally interviewed him, he
refused to discuss any of the negative allegations about his guru. We asked again on several occasions. He declined. But we felt these issues deserved an answer.
10.49.38 Tanya Datta: We decided to secretly film Doctor Goldstein at his home in California, to discover just how he’d gone about investigating Alaya’s case.
10.49.47 Dr Michael Goldstein: In terms of allegations, Sai Baba’s actual words were; ‘if you want to fight with people in the gutter, you also have to go into the gutter, don’t’.
10.49.57 Tanya Datta: Doctor Goldstein’s idea of an investigation was rather different to what the Rahms had had in mind.
10.50.03 Al Rahm: He comes back, he calls me and he says; well, I talked to Sai Baba, I did what I said I would do. Swami said that he is pure. Michael said; my heart and my mind are with Swami, you have to do whatever you have to do.
10.50.18 Dr Michael Goldstein: I, I, I, yes I said that. Yes.
10.50.20 Interviewer: Was that enough of an investigation, Doctor Goldstein?
10.50.22 Dr Michael Goldstein: Yes, it is. For me it is enough.
10.50.24 Al Rahm: Wait a minute. What happened to; words will not be enough, faith has to be restored, twenty-five years of your life.
10.50.33 Tanya Datta: You sound to me that you’re completely unafraid of these allegations because you don’t believe them for one second…
10.50.38 Dr Michael Goldstein: That’s right. That is right.
10.50.40 Tanya Datta: Then why don’t you allow some transparency into the investigation of them.
10.50.43 Dr Michael Goldstein: Transparency in what sense?
10.50.45 Tanya Datta: Why don’t you have thorough investigations, instead of just asking one question to one person…
10.50.49 Dr Michael Goldstein: What do you mean by thorough investigation?
10.50.51 Interviewer: Objective investigators, not someone asking the perpetrator whether he, he carried out the act. But
someone, you know, a proper legal process or a legalistic process should I say.
10.51.04 Tanya Datta: Yes.
10.51.05 Dr Michael Goldstein: Because I don’t believe that’s appropriate with Sai Baba.
10.51.08 Interviewer: Why not?
10.51.09 Dr Michael Goldstein: Because my heart and my conscience tell me that it’s not possible.
10.51.12 Tanya Datta: Is Sai Baba above the law then? I mean…
10.51.14 Dr Michael Goldstein: No, no, he’s not above the law, I don’t believe that it’s possible that he could do anything like that.
10.51.27 Tanya Datta: In November nineteen ninety-nine Doctor Goldstein was chief guest of honour at a ceremony for Sai Baba’s university. But he still managed to raise Alaya’s story with Sai Baba personally. It seemed to spark a remarkable reaction.
10.51.42 Al Rahm: And then I found out from my friend James, who had actually videotaped the, the day after Michael or the same day that Michael had talked to Baba about us, Baba came out with a discourse in which he praised Michael Goldstein more than he’s ever praised any devotee in history.
10.51.59 Translation of Sai Baba: Doctor Goldstein. Today Doctor Goldstein, the chief guest; he’s not ordinary person. He’s rich enough. He’s highly educated and he’s a great man, he’s highly reputed. He has got all the three sacred qualities, discipline, duty and devotion. His wife is also sitting here.
10.52.28 Al Rahm: And 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. I just remember feeling like Baba’s playing him.
10.52.44 Translation of Sai Baba: Goldstein has all good qualities in him. Do good, be good, and see good. This is the way to God.
10.52.57 Dr Michael Goldstein: All of these years I’ve seen him interact with his students very, very frequently, in very informal circumstances over many, many years. And because I am a physician I also understand human behaviour. Because of that, if Sai Baba had done anything of this kind with any one of those boys at any time, ever, I would see something in one of those children’s eyes, I would see something in one of the expressions on their faces that would indicate to me fear, apprehension, depression, something unsavoury, something inappropriate, something scary, something ominous, I would know it in my heart because I am what I am – a consummate professional. Can you understand that?
10.53.48 Tanya Datta: The Rahms certainly didn’t understand. In despair they contacted Isaac Tigrett of the Hard Rock Café.
10.53.56 Tanya Datta: He was sympathetic but not very helpful.
10.54.00 Aston ISAAC TIGRETT: His dad talked to me and I said; look, I, sorry if this happened to your family, to your son, whatever, anyone would be sympathetic, anybody. I said; but it’s not changing my feelings about Sai Baba, it just isn’t.
10.54.15 Tanya Datta: 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.
10.54.25 Isaac Tigrett: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. He could go out and murder someone tomorrow, as I said, it’s not going to change my evolution, it’s not going to change the good things that have come out of my relationship down there.
10.54.38 Tanya Datta: Does that mean that some part of you believes there could be some truth to the rumours?
10.54.43 Isaac Tigrett: Oh, absolutely I believe there is truth to the rumours.
10.54.46 Tanya Datta: You believe there is truth to the rumours?
10.54.47 Isaac Tigrett: Sure, there probably is, probably is.
10.54.54 Tanya Datta: Back at the Ashram and this God was back on his feet. Looking better but still a little shaky. Just like the scandals that increasingly dog him, it seems that nothing in the end is able to bring down Sai Baba.
10.55.08 Tanya Datta: There’s always an explanation for everything.
10.55.25 Translation of Sai Baba: 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.
10.55.43 Tanya Datta: Sai Baba went on to explain his love and compassion for his students.
10.55.48 Translation of Sai Baba: All boys are golden. Therefore the Bhagwan will protect them at any time, any where. Don’t worry. Past is past, forget the past.
10.56.29 Tanya Datta: For those who’ve suffered at Sai Baba’s hands forgetting the past is not so easy. In Arkansas Alaya Rahm is trying to make it as a music producer. But he’s still haunted by what happened.
10.56.41 Tanya Datta: Mark Roche is also trying to overcome his experiences. He flew to Arkansas to share them with the Rahm family.
10.57.02 Tanya Datta: Despite their anger at what happened to them, these former devotees know they must move on with their lives.
10.57.12 Mark Roche: The odd, perverse, ironic, hypocritical thing of it is that he’s the one that’s, that’s doing the perverse things but making us feel the guilt about it. Given normal worldly standards, it’s the kind of thing that he deserves to have his face pummelled to the ground for.
10.57.31 Alaya Rahm: Yeah.
10.57.32 Mark Roche: You know. And you seem above that which is to your credit. I don’t know how the heck you have the courage to get through it all, it seems like you have.
10.57.40 Alaya Rahm: I’d like to say that I’m over it but I don’t think that I’ll ever be over it. A lot of decisions that I make are still, you know, weighted by experiences I’ve been though and a lot of them have to do with Sai Baba, you know what I mean. He’s behind the door, you know, with his wrath, you know what I mean, there’s time…yeah.
10.58.04 Tanya Datta: At the Ashram God was retiring for the evening. As he went I wondered what it would take to dent the faith. The allegations seemed to have no effect. And perhaps it is asking too much for someone to abandon their God.
10.58.19 Tanya Datta: For the followers of Sai Baba, it’s just another test of their faith.
10.58.30 End music
10.58.32 Voice over: Have your say on tonight’s show and explore a world of extra information, news stories and features by visiting our web site at: bbc.co.uk/thisworld
Reporter TANYA DATTA
Camera STEVE ORGAN
Sound SEAN POE
Dubbing Mixer NIGEL READ
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Production Team JULIA DANNENBERG, SARAH HANKS, MARTHA O’SULLIVAN, AGNES TEEK
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Produced and Directed by EAMON HARDY
10.58.56 THIS WORLD
Editor KAREN O’CONNOR
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