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Ex-Chief Justice of India: Sathya Sai Baba “dictated my every single judgement”

Posted by Barry Pittard on May 4, 2011

In the Times of India article – ‘Sai Baba, my god, dictated my every single judgment’ – TNN | May 1, 2011, 03.22am IST – the former Chief Justice of India, P.N. Bhagwati, and now to be head of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, makes this extraordinary claim. He says:

“As a professional, each time I would sit down to write a judgment at 5 ‘o’clock in the morning, I was only writing what my god dictated. Bhagwan held my hand as I put pen to paper”

One wonders how the weighty pens of judges the world over can ever manage – so precariously unaided by such Direct Divine Penmanship as Bhagwati says he is aided –  to remain upright and without trembling …. 

One may like to pause, then – perhaps with the aid of a soothing Indian tea – just to take in the unexpectedness of all this.

A Strange Notion:  A Judge’s Own Guru Is Above The Law

One may also wonder what the case if other judges in India, who are enamoured of this or that guru, were to deem themselves in a mystic-golden-telephone-like contact with their Guru-God, and think that he or she is talking to them, guiding them, holding their pen, etc. 

And in India, there is a vast plethora of gurus to go around! Heaven help us, the number of divinely-wielded pens may also be more than a few.

And one may wonder, too, if other guru-affiliated judges would also, like Bhagwati, subscribe to the notion that their guru is in total charge of their legal judgements. What if their guru faced serious, well-made allegations?

In the case of Sathya Sai Baba, the allegations are extremely serious. They include implication in the cover up of several killings in his bedroom, worldwide allegations of wide-scale serial sexual abuse of boys and young men, scamming by his front office in regard to apartments, and other grave charges. In regard to the molestations, sworn testimony has been provided to major world media, UNESCO, police forces in the West (very privately, the latter will say in what great distrust many Indian police are held by international police who have the misfortune to have to deal with them). The interviewer says:

Inmates of the ashram, particularly young boys, have levied charges of sexual abuse against the godman.

Bhagwati (Agitated):  These are all baseless allegations. Bhagwan is a divine person, divinity personified. All these allegations come from interested quarters.

Learned legal counsel of several major organizations of high repute have the extensive evidence, and not Bhagwati at all. Therefore, Bhagwati is bare of evidence, and therefore barefaced.  He has not seen the sworn testimony that we have lodged with instrumentalities such as India Today, the BBC, Daily Telegraph (UK), Azul TV,, police forces such as the FBI, and other instrumentalities such as UNESCO ….. See:  BBC Exposed Sai Baba Top Aide’s And Indian Foreign Minister’s Ploy With UNESCO.

Indeed, the BBC Assistant Producer of ‘The Secret Swami’, David Saville, told me that, under its own private efforts, the BBC was able to uncover still more compelling testimony about sexual abuse than that represented by the lists provided by international former devotee coordinators like Glen Meloy, Hari Sampath, Robert Priddy and myself. See my Obituary:

Glen Meloy (“Standing up for truth and goodness”) – In Memoriam

How dare Bhagwati insult many decent families throughout the world! They have been shattered by the greatest betrayal of their lives, the actions of Sathya Sai Baba, to whom they were – many of the families for decades – hitherto utterly devoted! And in whose Sathya Sai Organization they did so much tireless, sacrificial service! These are the people whom Bhagwati’s close official colleague, Dr G. Venkatarman, too, has so badly and publicly defamed. See: Sathya Sai Baba’s Chief Broadcaster Dr G. Venkataraman: Select Critical Articles by Barry Pittard

By what right does Bhagwati opine in such matters?  But of course, one may suppose, he claims Divine Right …..

Numerous mere mortals who do not agree with Bhagwati or his Divine-Penmanship-‘God’ have left the Sathya Sai Organization. They have been deemed, and in Orwellian fashion, to be non-persons now. Shunned, reviled, defamed. Some of these were, for decades outstanding leaders, a fact well-known by close longtime servitors on the Sathya Sai Central Trust and in the international Sathya Sai Organization, and more widely within the Sathya Sai fold.

For a minute part of the evidence for failure of accountability and transparency, and gross lack of duty of care, see:  Sathya Sai Baba Chief, Dr Goldstein, Explodes. “I am the consummate professional” (See Film Clips) and:  Bob Bozzani Big Donor To Guru Sai Baba Under Siege and: Sathya Sai Baba Organization’s Betrayal of Love and Compassion and: A Sathya Sai Saga. Barry Pittard Recollects. Part 4 and: Thorbjørn Meyer: Is Democracy Such A Good Idea?

Overnight, large numbers were now called (first by Sathya Sai Baba) “demons”, and “Judases”. Sai Baba said that they would not ever escape eternal hell.  See:  Sathya Sai Baba condemns his critics as “demons”

What has the divinely-guided Bhagati got to say about the undeniable fact that, very typically, these former devotees he defames are, and for long have been, respected members of their wider communities, professions, trades, places of learning, and so on.

But as to his guru: 

Bhagwati: (he) is  “divinity personified, he radiates joy …. What is the point of investigation?”

As the Times of India reports (see below), this is exactly what Bhagwati says, however difficult it may be for the rest of us to credit it.

Dear reader, how is that cup of Indian tea managing? Is it soothing enough?

P.N. Bhagwati, New Head of Sathya Sai Central Trust

Perhaps, many who have endured Bhagwati’s judgements over the years, and who regard the hand of Sathya Sai Baba as an alien one, and an injust one, may also like to pause for thought. And then to lodge formal complaint, and even sue Bhagwati.

India is, of course, a member of the Commonwealth of nations. And even one badly errant judge, a former Chief Justice at that, does not make life any better for his or her fellow judges who are in such a nexus.

But first, let me give my large number of readers the web address of:  The Commonwealth Lawyers Association. You may like the pleasure of sending them your opinion, questioning whether they think India has progressed as far as she should, if she cannot  provide better Justice role models.

In fact, Bhagwati makes several extraordinary claims. Thus, there is all the more reason for the world to know the sort of supposed seniormost Justice role model India got for herself in in the person of Bhagawati. Given that India is fast heading, along with China, towards superpower status, one might hope to see far better types among her legal superluminaries.

Will The Indian Government and Legal Profession Dare To Express Their Stance On Bhagwati?

International displeasure can be adverted to The Commonwealth Lawyers Association, and well beyond. And The CLA, for their part, may like to use the Bhagwati example as a cautionary tale for their members – perhaps especially for the young ones coming on, who are challenging the gerontocratic, elitist chambers of Indian and other justice systems that are in such sore need of reform. Cross-Commonwealth colleagial influence can, for example, in a number of ways, be brought to bear, without anyone meddling in the affairs of State. Even grave looks of displeasure and dismay, and refusal to felicitate, or accept invitations from ….. can carry a weight all of their own.

The Bhagwati cautionary tale benefits young and old. It warns of dangers that still face even 90 or so year old judges. My readers may like to ensure that Bhagwati’s comments, and informed criticisms of them, reach further afield than to the readers of the Times of India. Or even further than the readership of ‘Call For media and Government Investigation of Sathya Sai Baba’, if that is at all imaginable.

India’s P.N. Bhagwati  Proclaims His Repute “as the foremost legal luminary across the Commonwealth”

One does not, after all, expect a judge to say that he or she is recognised as the finest legal brain in The Commonwealth. One tends to think:  Sober as a judge. Yet -:

Bhagati:  I have cultivated a reputation as the foremost legal luminary across the Commonwealth.

He also tells the interviewer:

I have never uttered a lie in my entire life.

Bhagwati In Ignorance of the Killings In Sathya Sai Baba Quarters

One does not expect a key member of an extraordinarily wealthy, religiously and politically powerful Trust to be so blissfully unaware of hard realities. For forty years, he has play an important role around Sathya Sai Baba. How can he expect to be believed when he says that he does not know what he was doing at the time of four killings in his founder’s bedroom?  That is to say – one who had, moreover, risen to the highest judicial role in the land. And who is a member of a professional class universally expected to have the best of memories.  And yet, when he is asked whether, at this time, he was in Mumbai meeting with Sathya Sai Central Trust members there, Bhagwati says:

“I cannot remember. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. I am not clear in my mind”.

Not clear in his mind?  One cannot help but think that the families and friends of those so bloodily killed in Sathya Sai Baba’s bedroom might wish indeed that Bhagwati had a much better memory, and wish that he WAS clear in his mind …. In fact, as sober as a judge.

About the killings, then, let Indian (or other) journalists ask Bhagwati whether he remembers meeting with the Union Home Minister at the time of the murders, S.B.Chavan. Let him answer whether the discussion was about damage control, and hushing matters up. How would his memory stand up here?

The killings and the cover up were, of course, a singular and terrible circumstance in Puttaparthi history. It was more than enough for some devotees – shaken, they left the Sathya Sai Organization.

So how could Bhagwati forget? Many others do not forget it. They cannot, yet profoundly wish that they could. Why is he so forgetful?

Does Bhagwati remember where he was when he first heard news of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi? Or that of President John F. Kennedy? Or when news came of the events of 9/11?  Presumably, he will remember where he was when news came through to him of Sathya Sai Baba’s death. Will he at all remember hearing the news, two days back, of the death Osama bin Laden? Most of the rest of us will never forget that.

Unless, of course, they were not sober as a good judge.

The Times of India interviewer says:

An attempt of was made on (Sai Baba’s) life a few years ago. Some ashram inmates were killed.

Bhagwati: I am not aware of this. I live in Delhi, so I have no knowledge.

The standard of Bhagwati’s extraordinariness does not lapse, as we see: 

Interviewer:   Several alleged offences committed by Sai Baba were never investigated.

Bhagwati:  What is the point of investigation? (Agitated) Bhagwan is divinity personified, he radiates joy; millions worship him. He is a teacher of mankind”

Should one pour another cup of soothing Indian tea?

 Bhagwati’s response is of a piece with that of his Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust colleague of many years, Indulal Shah. On 10 June 1993, The Hindu, reported:

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

Indulal Shah. Former head of Sathya Sai Organization

A mostly emasculate Indian media corps, afraid of their proprietors, can cower in the face of such cynical, antidemocratic non-answers. How demeaning for India, though,  that dereliction of democratic care has meant that foreign media has had to step in where India has vacated.  One of India’s great and courageous editors – V.K. Narasimhan – (whom I knew and loved and for one of his books I did some editing) was noble, and not a coward of this ilk.

The evidence of Bhagwati’s and Shah’s internals might not be well digested by those who care for Law, when it is wise and just. Lord Coke, Lord Chancellor under James I, is credited with the saying: ‘Be ye ever so high, the law is above you’. Apparently, Lord Denning, the great British judge, was fond of quoting this aphorism.

Has Bhagwati’s memory grown so poor that he forgets the great legal maxims, such as:  Hear the other side. Or: Hear the alternative party – Audi alteram partem. Or: audiatur et altera pars. Does he forget this principle? :  “Justice knows neither father nor mother; justice looks to the truth alone” – Justitia non novit patrem nec matrem; solum verrtatem spectat justitia”.

Yet Bhagwati’s very words abnegate these great precepts, which are prime ones in justice systems throughout the world.

Does The Commonwealth Law Association Approve Of The Influential Bhagwati’s Unorthodox Notions?

According to its website notice for 17th Commonwealth Law Conference, the CWL states that the alumni of The Commonwealth Lawyers Association include “some of the finest legal minds in the world today”. Why a return of the CWL Conference to India, after all these forty years? Perhaps it is because some lawyers other than Bhagwati are making the great effort to embody the time-honored, enshrined principles of democratic justice.

One wonders what measure of respect members of The Commonwealth Lawyers Association might accord, given his attitudes made plain just a couple of days ago, a former Chief Justice of India, now to be installed as chairman of one of the wealthiest of Trusts. Might they not think that one of their colleagues now presides over a medieval fiefdom?

Ironically enough, the CLA law conference was held in Hyderabad, the capital of the late Sathya Sai Baba’s state of Andhra Pradesh, South India in February 2011. But what might Bhagwati know of the conference? After all, he may have been in Delhi. Or Mumbai. Or any other place where not even the most dramatic news is likely to echo to his ears.

Will The Indian Media Begin To Do Its Job As Fifth Estate Citizens’ Guardian?

Let us see whether the Indian media will be tame or challenge Bhagwati’s views, and the views of those who think similarly. But, sadly, news critical of Sathya Sai Baba and his cult has been denied to Indian for many decades, with rare exceptions like India Today and Caravan. Ironically non-resident Indians have been able to read or view investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and his cult in foreign media.

In India, the Sathya Sai Organization’s great wealth and political and religious clout hold sway. In dealing with the Canadian media, I know how one of the CanWest newspapers, because of a multi-millionaire Sai devotee’s threat to withdraw his large advertizing, interposed on their journalist, and significantly diluted his article, which former Sathya Sai followers (who are in excellent standing in their communities, professions, trades and places of learning) had gone to sacrificial effort to document. I was reliably informed that the newspaper and the Sai devotees’ lawyers were ensconced for hours. We also know of the attempts of top Sathya Sai Baba aides in to stop media from investigating media such as: the BBC, CBC, SBS, India Today, the Times of London, The Adelaide Advertiser, The West Australian, and also UNESCO.  Figures close to Sathya Sai Baba engaged in these attempts at censorship went very high on his VVIP list, e.g., Indian Air Chief Marshal N.C. Suri.

To say that he knows nothing of the killings is a dark stain on Bhagwati. To say that no investigations should take place, fortifies the Puttaparthi, local, state and central Indian government cover up. It is a scandal that is no secret to many Indian police, lawyers, journalists, politicians, government bureaucrats and others. It is one that shows India to the world, not as a ‘Shining India’ but as, all too glaringly, profoundly enmeshed in a corrupt, autocratic past from which she still cannot drag herself free.


The Times of India Bhagwati Interview With Ex-Chief Justice P.N. Bhagwati

‘Sai Baba, my god, dictated my every single judgment’

TNN | May 1, 2011, 03.22am IST

On Sathya Sai Baba: Indian Ex-Chief Justice Bhagwati's Extraordinary Interview


On Sathya Sai Baba: Times of India, Ex-Chief Justice Interview. What Judge Would So Opine?

Posted by Barry Pittard on May 1, 2011

Indian Ex-Chief Justice: “Wild, Reckless Claims” about Sathya Sai Baba

Posted by Barry Pittard on April 29, 2011

New Zealand Lawyer Exposes Official Cover Up of Killings In Sathya Sai Baba Bedroom

Senior Indian Policeman (Rtd) Speaks Out About Sathya Sai Baba Murders Cover Up

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


Still 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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‘Marie Claire’ Magazine: April 2011. Sathya Sai Baba Still Further Exposed

Posted by Barry Pittard on March 14, 2011

In the article:  ‘Holy Man Or Hoax?’, the world-famous ‘Marie Claire’ magazine has just furthered the exposure of Sathya Sai Baba and his worldwide cult.

Writing for the Australian edition of ‘Marie Claire’ (April 2011), the British journalist Gethin Chamberlin, who resides in India  (See note below), writes:

Sathya Sai Baba, God, guru, magician, is arguably one of the most influential men on earth – and certainly one of the most controversial.  He counts presidents, prime ministers and kings (and celebrities like Goldie Hawn and Sarah Ferguson) among his 50 million followers.  He sits on a multi-billion-dollar fortune, his picture hangs on the walls of hundreds of institutions that bear his name, he claims he can materialise holy healing ash and diamond rings out of thin air, and perform miracle cures. He claims he is omnipotent and omnipresent. He has variously described himself as the second coming of Jesus and the reincarnation of the Hindu gods Shiva and Shakti, and his followers believe he is God in human form.

But behind the pageantry lies a sinister underbelly.

(Note:  there are serious questions to be raised about crowd estimates, and some journalists have trusted figures which, when examined, turn out to be those trumpeted around by the Sathya Sai sect itself. See: Sathya Sai Baba’s Gross Exaggerations of Puttaparthi Crowd Numbers).

Hollywood Legend Goldie Hawn Sprouts Happiness

Scandal-plagued Britsh Royal, and Sai Baba follower, Sarah Ferguson

Major media around the world have exposed various aspects of Sathya Sai Baba, and of his official Sathya Sai Organization, which has grown increasingly authoritarian over the decades. See: Notable Former Devotees Who Have Spoken Out and: Dr. G. Venkataraman, propagandist in the limelight.

Gethin Chamberlain writes:

Since the 70’s, countless men have come forward with accounts of abuse, all familiar:  Sai Baba calls them into a private meeting, places his hands on their genitals, then tells them it is not a sexual act. Sometimes he performs oral sex on them, sometimes they on him. Always the explanation is the same: this is an act of God. Many choose to ignore the allegations, and Sai Baba’s army of powerful supporters help to quash the rumours. Last November, more than a million people attended Sai Baba’s 85th birthday, the prime minister and president of India were among them.

See: Avatar of Deception: Sathya Sai Baba. 85, But Says He Will Rule World and: Sai Baba Breaks Down and Sobs At 85th Birthday Celebration (Video Footage) and: Sathya Sai Baba 85th Birthday No Celebration For Those He Has So Badly Hurt.

Although it states that there are many worldwide allegations of Sai Baba’s sexual abuse of young males, and refers to the UNESCO and US State Department advisories, the ‘Maire Claire’ article does not allude to various other scandals, most notably the massive Puttaparthi and local, state and central government cover up of the police killings in Sathya Sai Baba’s bedroom in on 6 April 1993, which BBC television exposed well in ‘The Secret Swami’, in 2004.  See: Barry Pittard’s Guide To His Articles On The BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’ (Exposing Sai Baba) and: V.P.B. Nair. B.Premanand. R.Priddy: Sai Baba Bedroom Killings and: Will V.P.B. Nair Keep His Word To BBC On Sathya Sai Baba? and: V.K. Narasimhan on the 1993 Sathya Sai Baba murders and: Sathya Sai Baba and India in-depth study.

Two examples Chamberlain cites give typical examples of the guru-blinded nature of many Sathya Sai Baba cultists (and cultists of many another feather!), and the manner in which they bury their consciences in rationalizations that defy ethics common to many cultures, and indeed contravene the laws of a great many countries.  He writes:

But complaints against Sai Baba have now piled so high even some of his most ardent supporters accept there is truth in them.  In 2004, Isaac Tigrett (ed., the US billionaire and co-founder of the Hard Rock Cafe chain, who also established The House Of Blues) told a BBC reporter that even though he “absolutely believes there is truth to the rumours”,  it doesn’t change his feelings about his guru.  “He could go out and murder someone tomorrow,” admits Tigrett, “and it’s not going to change the good things that have come out of my relationship [with Sai Baba]”.  Devotee Ram Das Awle agrees, but adds that any contact Sai Baba had with young men would have been for their own good:  “It seems very likely any sexual contact Sai Baba has had with devotees, of whatever kind, has actually been only a potent blessing, given to awaken the spiritual power within those souls. Who can call that wrong?”.

Isaac Tigrett, Longtime Financial Backer of Sathya Sai Baba

See: Isaac Tigrett. Selling Out Those Condemned to a House Of Blues and: Isaac Tigrett & a fake ‘crystal skull’ Sai Baba ‘materialized’ and: The fall and fantasies of Sai Baba supporter, Isaac Tigrett

To be sure, there are grave types of crime, and spiritual betrayal on a mammoth international scale, which this article and many others have not, understandably, been able to capture.  Nevertheless, it is to advantage that ‘Marie Claire’ features world standard photojournalism, and the ‘Holy Man Or Hoax?’ article contains quite recent and strikingly revealing photos of just some of the incredible opulence with which Sai Baba surrounds himself.  His madness, authoritarianism and overweening arrogance are damningly evident to a vast array of human beings, but not to those smitten by their unquestioning faith in him.

In responses to the magazine article, both from those in many religions and from those who disdain religion altogether, there cannot help but be a common attitude, here.  They will abhor Sathya Sai Baba’s and his organization’s splurging lavishness. Alike, their eyes will behold the disgraceful exhibitionism, the squandering of wealth in a land of great poverty and inequality, and the vaulting arrogance and profound lack of active ethics and genuine spirituality in Sathya Sai Baba and in those who are enslaved to him.   See: Sathya Sai Baba: opulence, show, extravagance and waste and: Sai Baba, Kubla Khan, Citizen Kane, Bill Gates et alia.

The Sweatshop Streets On Which Opulent 'Shining' India Often Thrives

The more the facts get out to mass audiences the more the world will realize the corruptness of successive Indian governments, irrespective of which regime is in power, which have protected and covered up for Sai Baba – a veritable ‘golden goose’ for many among India’s elites – who has never been brought to face laws that are, nonetheless, enshrined in Indian state and central bodies of Law.

Indian PM Manmohan Singh Worships Sathya Sai Baba

India's President Pratibha Devsingh Patil Bows To Sai Baba

Former Indian PM A.B. Vajpayee, a Sathya Sai devotee


Further Reading

The Divine Downfall of Sathya Sai Baba (UK Telegraph)

UK Guardian On Sathya Sai Baba and Duke’s Awards

The BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’ (Sai Baba). Revealing Footage

Sathya Sai Baba’s Un Divine Downfall

Sathya Sai Baba Cult Exposure By Major TV Channel In Australia

Sathya Sai Organization double morals

Dr. G. Venkataraman’s delusions and cynical cover up

Gethin Chamberlain

….. is a photojournalist covering South Asia for The Observer. He also writes for a number of other newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian, Grazia, GQ, Look, News of the World, South China Morning Post and The National. Based in India, he previously worked as a foreign correspondent for The Sunday Telegraph and as The Scotsman’s chief reporter. He can be contacted at:



Excerpt From Public Petition

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

Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

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V.P.B. Nair Told BBC Sai Baba Bedroom Killings Were “Coldblooded Murder”

Posted by Barry Pittard on January 6, 2011

In mid 2004, former Andhra Pradesh Home Secretary, V.P.B. Nair – see:  The BBC and the 1993 murders – spoke to the BBC about the official local, state and central government cover up that attended the police killings in Sathya Sai Baba’s bedroom in June 1993. He said he intended to take steps to get the case re-opened. But has he done anything of the sort?

Most major Indian media have entirely failed to tackle Sathya Sai Baba and his incredibly wealthy and influential cult. The exceptions have been:  India Today, Tehelka, The Cavaran and (to a small extent) Hindustan Times. The job of exposure has been via the foreign media – e.g., BBC, CBC (Canada), DR (Denmark), (USA), SBS, ABC (Australia, Times of London, Daily Telegraph, Guardian (UK), and newspapers in Europe, Canada, Australia, etc.

It is ironic, too, that NRI’s (Non Resident Indians) get to see coverage in the foreign media, whereas there is a heavy blanket of suppression in India. It makes the notion of ‘Indian democracy’ an oxymoron, and somewhat hollow. 

An alert media would challenge V.P.B. Nair with the question:   Have you – as you told the BBC you would do – pushed for a re-opening of the Puttaparthi police killings case?

It is of oddest irony that degrees of exposure of these crimes have been effectively left up to two individuals gifted with cussed unstoppableness – the late Basava Premanand in India and Robert Priddy in Norway. It is similarly significant that, so great is the unwillingness of most major Indian media to tackle Sathya Sai Baba and his incredibly wealthy and influential cult, that exposing him has been, with the exception of India Today, Tehelka, The Caravan, and (to a small extent) Hindustan Times, left up to the foreign media to do – e.g., BBC, CBC (Canada), DR (Denmark), SBS, ABC (Australia), Times of London, Daily Telegraph, Guardian (UK), (USA), and newspapers in Europe, Canada, Australia, etc. 

Again, there is irony in that NRI’s (Non Resident Indians) get to see coverage in the foreign media that is tightly suppressed in India!
The lengths to which Basava Premanand and Robert Priddy have gone to examine the welter of documentation have
required much sacrifice of time and energy.  Robert Priddy and I kept in touch with Premanand over the years, and this access allowed us confidential insight into the very real risks to life and limb that Premanand ran.  My own tribute to this remarkable man is here:  Basava Premanand. Vale. A fighter for truth who lived what others preach.


Short Selection of Robert Priddy’s Writings on the Killings

Six devotees of Sathya Sai Baba were slain on 6 June 1993.  No official investigation was completed since the government quashed the CBI’s investigation. No charges were brought. 


Further Reading At this blogsite:   Call For Media and Government Investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

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

BBC Footage Still Potent In Exposing Sathya Sai Sect (See Video Clips and Secret Swami Documentary)



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Police, Security and Sathya Sai Baba

Posted by Barry Pittard on December 13, 2010

An array of media, scholars, government services, civic institutions, and many others read our writings. I have extracted the following links related to police and security from a Links page with brief commentaries on articles. That page has been assiduously compiled by Robert Priddy, and contains links to many articles he and I, and any other extensive writer such as Brian Steel, have written on an array of topics concerning Sathya Sai Baba and his cult. 

Note: Please kindly report any errors,  updates, or suggest improvements. These overviews are very far from exhaustive … See contact details under:  Barry Pittard, at bottom of right hand sidebar.

Police, Security and Sathya Sai Baba

 The Puttaparti Police expansion and Sai Baba How the infamously corrupt police station at Puttaparthi was established and is financed

The Puttaparti Police expansion and Sai Baba – cont. How the publicly-financed security at Sai Baba ashrams was introduced etc.

Massacre at Prasanthi Nilayam ashram, 1993 part 1part 2

Police expert on security at Prashanthi Nilayam

Supreme Court of India cover-up: petition ad Sathya Sai Baba rejected Scan of affidavit-attested document showing the paper illegally removed from the Supreme Court records so as to cover-up the petition against Sathya Sai Baba made in 2001

The ‘Abode of Peace’ ashram- the murder victims Some details of two of those murdered in cold bloog in Sai Baba’s bedroom in 1993.

The ‘Abode of Peace’ ashram- the pivotal events Ex-CID police officer’s account of the Puttaparthi murders in 1993

 Senior Ex-CID officer J.V. Ram on Sai sex scandals – part 1 part 2part 3 Very grave allegations of numerous sexual abuses by Sathya Sai Baba are reported by this CID sleuth, as well as cases of rape at his ashram   

Senior Ex-CID officer J.V. Ram on Sathya Sai Baba – part 1 —   art 2part 3part 4 Revelations by a top investigator of unexplained murders, deaths and disappearances plus corruption, bribery and other forms of corruption connected to Sathya Sai Baba and/or his minions  

Senior Indian Policeman (Rtd) Speaks Out About Sathya Sai Baba Murders Cover Up Senior Indian police officer published a book with many new facts about the Sai Baba bedroom murders

New Zealand Lawyer Exposes Official Cover Up of Killings In Sathya Sai Baba Bedroom Warren C. Pyke LLN (Hons.) LLM (VUW), Barrister, New Zealand calls for a thorough and impartial inquiry into the deaths in Sai Baba’s room

Barry Pittard’s Guide To His Articles On The BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’ (Exposing Sai Baba) A guide to articles written on the BBC’s one-hour documentary, The Secret Swami (2004), its making and the controversy it awakened – for busy journalists, scholars, institutional researchers, and the probing reader
Puttaparthi murders Summary of some of the many murders recorded at Sathya Sai Baba ashrams
Westerners desert Sai Baba’s ashrams, says recent visitor A visitor from UK notes that Westerners are not welcome in Prashanthi Nilayam. They are harassed, discriminated and subject to new laws which limit their stay. Numerous foreigners who moved there cannot sell their apartments and are trapped
V.K. Narasimhan on the 1993 Sathya Sai Baba murders Shattering information about the 1993 murders in Sathya Sai Baba’s bedroom – private confidencesfrom my friend VKN that I (Robert Priddy) could not doubt
V.K. Narasimhan – confidences to Robert Priddy The decisive point for me was when V.K. Narasimhan told me the truth about the 1993 murders – and he should have known as he was on the scene directly and had access to all the top people involved. All this I recorded in my notebook as soon as he had told me
ON VISITING THE SAI BABA ASHRAMS Many difficulties, disappointments and potential dangers – up to and including murder – face those who visit Sathya Sai Baba ashrams. Tight security is used against visitors to protect the fearful Guru-God and discrimination of non-ethnic Indian followers, especially Westerners, has become rife. Judging by countries I know well, the current list of over 200 names of former members or active followers registered represents only perhaps 5% of those who have left Sathya Sai baba’s organization and movement, as most do not wish to speak out and be demonized – many wish to continue to visit India in safety.

Failings in Indian Justice – by ex-Chief Election Commissioner T.N. Seshan The Indian judicial system as originally inherited from the British stagnated, but is slowly caching up with the developed world – but only on paper, it appears. Abuses and failing are so huge and so many, as any follower of Indian events knows, that police and protected person can and do ‘get away with murder’.

Indian police get away with murder – outrage in India The latest juridical scandal decision outrages Indian citizens, and bears out further what the above entry indicates

Powerful sex abuse testimony against Sathya Sai Baba The German national news journal ‘Bild’ published an account of sexual molestation and subsequent ‘goonda’ harassment of Jens Sethi and his girlfriend after he explained how he refused Sai Baba’s sexual advances. An affidavit to that effect was lodged with Hamburg police

BILD’ Story. “Guru Wants Sex” (Sathya Sai Baba) The damning testimony of Jens Sethi, ex-follower who lodged an affidavit on Sai Baba’s sexual molestation with the Public Prosecutor in Hamburg

Press Council of India Long Silent On Sathya Sai Baba Bedroom Killings The Press Council of India was asked by the Anantapur District Journalists’ Union to inquire into the criticism of Sri Sathya Sai Baba against the Press for publishing news items and special articles on the June 6 incident that occurred in Prashanthi Nilayam in which six persons were killed. No response was forthcoming. See also Indian Newspaper Reports of Killings In Sai Baba’s Bedroom

Murders in Sathya Sai Baba’s bedroom overview The infamous murders in Sathya Sai Baba’s bedroom issue will not simply go away because the case was quashed by his devotees, the Indian Home Minister and Prime Minister at the time

Sathya Sai Baba’s India stable? The claim that India is not unstable, like many other countries, does not hold water at all

Sex, suicide and the guru – Sathya Sai Baba Three articles by one of The Times feature writers, Dominic Kennedy, which expose the nature of Sathya Sai Baba and related suicides

Sathya Sai Baba – questions and his silence In a discourse after the six 1993 killings and executions, Sathya Sai Baba attacked the Anantapur media hotly saying that it contained “nothing but flights of the imagination”. He never answered any questions on his part in the incident and was held above the law by the Indian government.

The Death of Sathya Sai Baba’s brother, Janaki Ramiah Sathya Sai Baba sobbed in public over the death of this property millionaire, reported blackmailer and key accomplice to murders in Sai Baba’s apartment in 1993

Murder and repentence at Prashanthi Nilayam Among the numerous reported murders at Sathya Sai Baba’s ashrams through the decades, few are as remarkable as that perpetrated on Sai Baba’s personally chosen gatekeeper Kumar. It is of the stuff of which horror films can be made

V.P.B. Nair. B.Premanand. R.Priddy: Sai Baba Bedroom Killings
Media, institutional, academic and other third party investigators are being made aware of the sheer extent of the evidence of criminal cover up by successive Indian governments over the years of the Puttaparthi police killings in Sathya Sai Baba’s bedroom

Will India clean up its Augean police and political stables
The Indian police and government’s attempts to quash the murder of Scarlett MacKeown sends the same signal long observed, cover-ups to the highest levels in India, none more successful – and yet notoriously damaging – than that of the found young men executed by police in Sai Baba’s bedroom


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

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A Sathya Sai Saga. Barry Pittard Recollects. Part 2

Posted by Barry Pittard on July 23, 2010

The series continues from: A Sathya Sai Saga. Barry Pittard Recollects. Part 1. Posted by Barry Pittard on July 20, 2010

In October 1999, I read Terry Gallagher’s startling accounts, and, increasingly those of others. He was the first head of Australian Sathya Sai Organization and an agricultural scientist and businessman of Kiama, New South Wales, Australia. His brother-in-law, Neville Fredericks (a past mayor of Kiama)succeeded T.Sri Ramanathan as head of the Australian Sathya Sai Organization. Following his extensive investigation, Terry Gallagher’s revelations spoke of Sathya Sai Baba having sex with boys and young men, and being complicit in other disturbing crimes. He discovered disturbing facts about the local, state and central government cover up of police killings in Sathya Sai Baba’s bedroom at Puttaparthi on June 6, 1993. He and others in various parts of the world resigned. Many simply left the Sathya Sai Organization, without formal resignation. Sai devotees in centers around the world have heard their leaders state the allegations are made by a handful of disgruntled former devotees. Yet the Sathya Sai Organization holds aloft the value:  Truth …

The Editor of the Australian magazine Nexus (published in a number of countries), Duncan Roads, had found the Gallagher article along with two other accounts of former Sathya Sai Baba devotees on the internet. The Gallagher document was in the form of a letter to David and Faye Bailey. Duncan Roads wrote: 

 I had heard the many rumours about Sai Baba’s sexual impropriety over the years, and like many, dismissed them as disgruntled devotees.  Later on, I actually took those attacks as ‘evidence’ that Sai Baba was growing in influence, and that this was the ‘system’ attacking him … 

Unlike Sai Baba believers, I have an open mind, one which allows me to read and listen to things that Sai Baba believers refuse even to allow into their consciousness.  I read some of the more recent testimonies, and decided to investigate for once and for all to put an end to the rumours …

I ended up speaking to many victims, parents of victims, former Sai Baba centre ‘leaders’ and some respected ‘figureheads’ from the movement.  All confirmed the same pattern of abuse and sexual misconduct …

I did not want to believe any of these testimonies, but I also had to be true to what I was uncovering.  Sai Baba is, and has, been involved in sexual misconduct with boys and young men.  The effects of this misconduct has caused unestimatable damage within many many families, including suicides

Photo below: David and Faye Bailey. Authors of ‘The Findings’. An historic and lengthy indictment of Sathya Sai Baba and his charismatic cult, by two former and exceptionally close disciples.

David and Faye Bailey. Authors of 'The Findings'. An historic and lengthy indictment of Sathya Sai Baba, by two former and very close disciples

See my articles: 

Truth In Action: David and Faye Bailey Vs Sathya Sai Baba, and

Reply to a Sathya Sai Devotee’s Note re: David and Faye Bailey


For next in series, see:  A Sathya Sai Saga. Barry Pittard Recollects. Part 3


The Public Petition

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

About the Petition For Official Investigation Into Sathya Sai Baba Cult

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

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On Leaving the Sathya Sai Baba Cult (Part 1.)- Ex Leaders and Rank-and-File

Posted by Barry Pittard on November 20, 2009

In 1999, came the publication (August-September) of three articles in a piece entitled: Sathya Sai Baba Exposed. These had been taken up from other sources by the editor, Duncan Roads, who, quite separately and via his own sources in Australia, had suffered his own disillisionment in Sai Baba. A person close to me, who knew well that I had deafened my ears to anything inimical to Sathya Sai Baba, strongly urged me to read these articles, one of which was by the (then) head of the Australian Sathya Sai Organization, Terry Gallagher, an agricultural scientist and businessman of Kyama, in the state of New South Wales on Australia’s eastern seaboard. 

Sathya Sai Organization, Australia, Ex-Head Terry Gallagher’s Testimony Against Sathya Sai Baba

Terry Gallagher.  A Voice of Conscience Raised In The Wilderness

 Terry Gallagher had come to realise – between 1986 and 1993 (the latter being the year of the grisly police executions in Sai Baba’s bedroom) that grave matters had been profoundly covered up, not only by the ashram officials but by local, state and central governments. Those who eventually leave commonly do not leave suddenly. There is a fighting against the blinkers. There is refuge in thought of all the positives that have occured. 

In much detail, by telephone, Terry Gallagher told me that, against extraordinary unwillingness of devotees in the Australian Sathya Sai Organization, to look at the allegations,  he had done what he could to investigate. This led to his surfacing, after his private discussions with those whom he regarded as dependable witnesses, including a number of Sathya Sai Baba college/university students, terrible facts about Sai Baba’s serial sexual abuse of young males. He also took his concerns to Sathya Sai Baba, whom he says tried to get from him who his informants were. He told me that he had extensively, in the course of a whole weekend, shown documentation to Valmai Worthington, a Brisbane leader of the Sathya Sai Organization, who has led many groups to from Australia to see Sai Baba. This led to no meaningful action, and she has continued to lead groups, including those with young males in them. In fact, she led the group of which I was a member when it went to India on mid November 1997.  

Other leaders were likewise impervious and went into the utmost psychological denial. Groups, including those with young males in them, continued to go to the ashram. (See the link at the top of the present article for excerpts from the Terry Gallagher testimony and the link to the full document). These explorations – including direct contact with a number of deeply concerned students from Sai Baba’s education establishment – culminated in Terry Gallager’s resignation on the most serious moral principle from his headship of the Australian Sathya Sai Organization. However, he said, his relations with his brother-in-law, Neville Fredericks, now the head of the Sathya Sai Organization in Australia, had slowly been repaired in both the family and business sense, and he (Gallagher) didn’t want to raise his voice further. NOTE:  For those with limited time, I have excerpted, for the sake of a focus, some points from Terry Gallagher’s testimony, which was first published by David and Faye Bailey (very prominent leaders who also resigned) in The Quarterly, UK.  See also:

David Bailey and Thomas Wiehe. Transcript Of Phone Link: Sathya Sai Abuses

Truth In Action: David and Faye Bailey Vs Sathya Sai Baba

Later the Gallagher testimony appeared in the September-October 1999 edition of the Australian magazine ‘Nexus’. Before returning to Sathya Sai Baba for a few months in November 1997, I had somehow dared to look at writings on the Internet. I read the Canadian academic rationalist philosopher Professor Dale Beyerstein, of the University of British Columbia. His very incisively-written book: “Sai Baba’s miracles: and overview is HERE.  There was the likewise articulate Italian former devotee Paul Holbach.

Across a range of Sai Baba issues, their writing was disciplined and probing; they raised questions which, by any token, deserved proper answers. These were the sorts of questions which, if not answered frankly and truthfully, could best be answered by properly consitituted processes, such as a police, court of law or government enquiry. Above all, they needed to be answered by the leaders of the Sathya Sai Organization. But they were glacially silent. Except to slander and drive out those who questioned, whom they very well know through years of experience of them to be truthful persons. Sathya Sai Baba and his servitors remain tight-lipped to this day, all these years after – although the allegations, not only of sexual abuse but abuses of various other grave kinds. With incredible mendacity, they tell their congregations – inasmuch as they tell them very much at all – that ‘the allegations’ are made by a small handful of disgruntled individuals. It is a typical ploy used by many groups with serious matters to hide.

Hard questions were being raised. It was not enough, as so many devotees do when there is a process of questioning, to assume, somehow, the unworthiness of those who question.  In that direction the psychological factor of being in-denial is all too likely to kick in. Honest questions merit honest answers. During twenty-five years of deep devotion, I underwent many wonderful experiences, but facing the questions was not one of them. As I began to hear the direct testimony, and, in other cases, from parents and close friends of those who had been affected, the experience was gut-wrenching.

Continued in …… 

On Leaving A Powerful Global Cult. Sathya Sai Baba Example (Part 2)

On Leaving A Powerful Global Cult. Sathya Sai Baba Example (Part 3)


 Sathya Sai Baba Critic Serguei Badaev: An Incisive Voice of Conscience From Russia

The Late Leo Boogaard: A Dutch Voice of Conscience On Sathya Sai Baba

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

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

The crucial John Hislop letters, Sathya Sai Baba, & Sathya’s defender Joe Moreno – by Timothy Conway, PhD

An article in which Timothy Conway outlines many key issues

New Zealand Lawyer Exposes Official Cover Up of Killings In Sathya Sai Baba Bedroom

(Late) Ron and Peggy Laing: Deeply Alienated From Sathya Sai Organization

Senior Indian Policeman (Rtd) Speaks Out About Sathya Sai Baba Murders Cover Up

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


Barry Pittard’s comments in regard to the Public Petition) -:

Petition For Official Investigation Into Sathya Sai Baba Cult


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

There is a Spanish version available:



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Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

Posted in New Age, Opinion, Protest, Sex, South Asia, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , | 10 Comments »

About the Petition For Official Investigation Into Sathya Sai Baba Cult

Posted by Barry Pittard on July 10, 2009

A key difficulty facing an authoritarian, suppressive, unaccountable sect such as the Sathya Sai Organization is this: When there are serious scandals being hushed up, there is -:

  • organized, networked dissent and public exposure of its disinformation, secret directives, methods and real agendas

  • quiet disruption and internal decay that happens quite apart from formal, focused, widespread efforts.

  • the exponential spread of crisis for the organization.

The leaders of “the Secret Swami” (as the BBC termed Sathya Sai Baba, as a result of their extensive investigations, including 80 plus hours of film footage) know and suffer the effects of these three factors. They know the terrible facts. It suits them to allow ignorant and unconscionable voices to attack those who have responsibly and clearly raised the issues in various parts of the world. Those such as Dr G. Venkataraman find it easier to put out entirely erroneous information about the withdrawal of UNESCO and the University of Flinders, South Australia, from a major education conference at Puttaparthi. It is their style to attack the credentials of the BBC and other organisations which have investigated extensively and carefully into the allegations of very many compelling witnesses from various countries. Further down the chain of command, center leaders are expected to inform their congregations the the dissent comes from the smallest handful of disgruntled ex-members. There is a useful Summary of Main Failings and Deceptions of the International Sathya Sai Organisation. This is complied from Robert Priddy’s eighteen years experience as a founder member and national leader in Norway. From the same writer – a retired academic from the University of Oslo in philosophy and social sciences – there is a sociological analysis of the organization and feedback from former members.


Apart from cult leaders cynically engaged in the getting and holding of power, with all the accompaniements of realpolitik, there is, more widely, a psychological shrinking on BOTH the part of those resistant to the seriousness of the allegations of abuse of various kinds AND among many who have satisfied themselves that the allegations are true. The desire for the ‘quiet life’ is irresistible.


A hard fact of human nature is that most people shy away from anything approaching controversy. This is all the more noticeable when an often socially tabooed subject as sexual abuse is involved. Many feel that the problems and responsibilities of work, study, family and so on, which already loom large in their lives, are more than enough to handle. It is not surprising that much of the investigative, analytical and presentational work – where there is a strongly-maintained continuum – is done by those who have retired from their professions.



At best, those who are cautious and conservative will act to address the problems in their own locality. They will investigate situations of abuse in their own midst, and satisfy themselves that the more widely-spread allegations are true, having dealt with their localized instance of abuse by Sathya Sai Baba or those closely associated with him.


Many exit from the Sathya Sai Organization resigning. Organized, networked dissenters working with the greater overview can hear of these instances but often the participants do not get in touch. When contacted, they tend to say, e.g., “We want to move on”. “We do not want to have a falling out within … ” – the family or workplace or circle of friends, etc. “We don’t want it to affect our children’s study”. “We have to be careful that our business is not affected”. “We are prepared to testify, so long as there is a properly-mounted class action lawsuit against the Sathya Sai Organization or a reputable media or institutional investigation”. The list of reasons or excuses is longer!


Major reputed media in several countries, such as the BBC in ‘The Secret Swami’ (first screened July 2004 and subsequently broadcast in many countries) have raised questions that are the utmost responsibility of an alert and responsible media to ask. See:


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

In case after case, media and even the most scholarly investigators (whose distinguished details can be made know to responsible, reputed media etc)who have tried to examine the organization have been thwarted by its extraordinary secrecy. On the rare occasions that its officials such as Indulal Shah (retired), Dr G. Venkataraman, Sri T. Ramanathan (retired), Leonard Gutter, Dr Michael Goldstein, Thorbjörn Meyer,  J. Jegathesan … have spoken to media, it has been to obfuscate issues. Other officials, except in straightforward local matters such as participation in festivals, service activities and so forth are bound to the strictest silence.

Sathya Sai Baba apologist Thorbjörn Meyer Interviewed on Danish TV News

Indulal Shah and Indian Government Cover Up

Barry Pittards Letter to Sri T. Ramanatham

Michael Goldstein’s Chilling 9/11 Remarks

‘Divine Sin’, by Alejandro Agostinelli

The Petition

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

About the Petition For Official Investigation Into Sathya Sai Baba Cult

Posted by Barry Pittard on July 10, 2009

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

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

There is a Spanish version available:


Serial, Wide Scale Sexual Abuse of Boys and Young Men

  • This Petition is to bring attention to serious allegations of child molestation and homosexual abuse by Sathya Sai Baba at his ashrams in South India, involving many victims there including boys and young men visiting from other countries. Another grave concern is the issue of unresolved murders at Sai Baba’s main ashram in 1993. Sathya Sai Baba, an Indian man who claims to be the full manifestation of God on earth, is worshipped by several million followers from most countries of the world.

  • The world’s leading investigative newspaper media have reported on his alleged sexual molestations of numerous boys and young men from all over the world, many of whom were raised to believe that he was God Almighty. Some of the many highly credible personal testimonies can be examined at or at

  • Certain officials of the Sathya Sai Organization have failed in their moral and compassionate duty by disregarding and not alerting membership to the allegations, thus putting minors at risk in Sai Baba’s presence. (In some countries, sexual abuse is taken so seriously that Mandatory Reporting laws exist.)

  • The US State Department is aware of these many allegations of sexual abuse and in effect for all US travellers going to India, making specific reference to Andhra Pradesh State, where Sathya Sai Baba’s main ashram is located. (see below, 1-) In mid 2004, as referred to in the BBC’s The Secret Swami, the US State Department confirmed to the BBC that Sathya Sai Baba was, in fact, the Indian religious teacher referred to, but not by name, in its warning to US travellers to Andhra Pradesh.

  • a British MP has lodged questions in the House of Commons concerning possible risk to the children of UK citizens visiting Sai Baba in India.

UNESCO’s Withdrawal From Major Education Conference at Puttaparthi

  • UNESCO officially withdrew from an educational conference planned for September 2000 at Sai Baba’s ashram under the auspices of the Sathya Sai Organization, citing “widely reported allegations of sexual abuse involving youth and children … levelled at the leader of the movement in question, Sathya Sai Baba.”

Police Killings In Sathya Sai Baba’s Bedroom and Subsequent Indian Governmnet Cover Up

  • In June 1993, Sai Baba passively stood by while six persons were murdered in his apartments in Prashanthi Nilayam independent township, his main ashram, known to be completely under his strict control. After discussions between Sai Baba’s officials and the local police, the police shot at close range and in cold blood killed four of these persons. Although Sai Baba reportedly first spoke to the intruders and remained nearby throughout the whole episode, conferring with his officials, he was not even questioned by police or law investigators! Due to their serious inconsistency and ineptitude, the case was taken over from the local police by the CBI, but the entire investigation was subsequently quashed by government order by the intervention of devotees of Sai Baba holding top positions of political power. Thus, no adequate court action was taken and no justice or redress was possible for the victims’ families.

  • To sustain police or judicial inactivity violates the human rights of the victims and turns also the civil authorities into violators of human rights.

Many Former Devotees Worldwide Have Signed Petition

  • We appeal to all those who wish that these matters should be properly investigated, and who wish that the responsible persons be made accountable through proper legal process, to PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION. We especially appeal to all religious and spiritual leaders, NGOs, politicians and official functionaries, and the media organizations of all countries to participate. This Petition is for the benefit of the general public and will be sent to any relevant authority that may forward the Petition. Please see sign-up instructions on the page.
    The initiators of this Petition (see the Undersigned, below) each left the Sathya Sai Baba cult for various reasons. Some have been active members of the Sathya Sai Organization for many years, others did not hold office in the SSO but were devoted followers. See personal resignation letters at

The International JuST Group (Just Seekers of Truth Group) included all those who conferred on the forming and posting of the Public Petition for Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and his Organisation. Listed alphabetically they are:-

Dinara Badaeva, Russia 1995-2001 Moscow Centre Educational Coordinator.
Serguei Badaev,Russia 1995-2001 Ex-President of Sai Org. Moscow Centre and Deputy National Chairman for Russia.
Dave. G. Brandt, USA 1970-1999 USA. Official Contact for Nebraska, N. and S. Dakota.
Stephen Carthew, Australia. Follower for 15 years Ex-office-bearer in the South Australian Org.
Timothy Conway, Ph.D. USA. Follower for 22 years President of the Sathya Sai Baba Center of San Francisco from 1982-4.
Andries Krugers Dagneaux, The Netherlands. Follower from 1992-2001. Ex-Coordinator of seva wing.
James Albert Danis, Canada. Follower for 13 years Coordinator of Retreats etc., Vancouver Center.
Lionel Fernandez, Mexico. Follower since1967. Centre Chairman May-October 2000.
Dennis J. Hanisch, USA. Follower for 27 years. Founder member and Vice-President, Seattle Center.
Elena Hartgering, USA. Follower for 20 years Ex-Vice-President of Centre and Regional Workshop presenter.
John Hartgering, USA. Follower for 10 years. Ex-President/Service Coordinator of Centre.
Soma Jeyendren, Australia. Devotee 1989 -2001. Coordinator of celebrations, Pennanthills Center, NSW.
Alexander Keilonat, Germany 1998-2000
Marit Larssen, Norway. Bergen group Coordinator 1996-2000.
David. J. Lyons, USA. Follower from 1981 to 2000. Ex-President of the Center of Greater New Orleans.
Helen Lewers, Australia. Member 1980 – 2000.
Glen Meloy, USA. 1974-2000. Member of 1st Advisory Board of the SSB Society & Co-Mgr. Official Tustin Book Centre
Alexandra Nagel, The Netherlands. Follower briefly in 2000, Active in exposé investigations.
Richard Nelson, USA. Member 1979-2000 Ex-President Santa Barbara Center.
Keith Ord, Spain. Follower from 1986-1991.
Terry Nelson, USA. Member 1979-2000.
Shirley J. Pike, USA. Ex-President, NC Region: Ex-President Cedar Rapids Center, Iowa
Barry Pittard, Australia. 1976-1999. Former English Lecturer, Sathya Sai College, Whitefield.
Robert Priddy, Norway. 1983-2002. Founder member/Ex-Chairman of Oslo Center (1986-1996) & contact person (later Coordinator) for Norway 1883-2000.
Reidun Priddy, Norway. 1983-2000. Founder member and Seva Wing Coordinator 1986-1998
Hortense Quijs, The Netherlands. 1995 – 2000 Maastricht Group Coordinator.
Stijntje Riemersma, The Netherlands. Follower for 20 years. Coordinator/Secretary Utrecht group, 6 years.
Sathya Purcell, USA. Lifetime follower until age 23.
Sharon Purcell, USA Follower for 32 years. Founder member of Tustin Center, California,
Dr. Everett & Barbara Shocket, USA Followers: 1980-1990. Dhyani Jo Sinclair, Canada Member and Sai Centre Secretary, 1995-2000.
Marc-André St. Jean, Canada. Former member of Sai Center in Montreal.
Margarita Sanchez Van Dyck, Mexico 1984-2000.

Posted in Morality, Opinion, Protest, Religion, Spirituality, Uncategorized, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , | 53 Comments »

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

Posted by Barry Pittard on December 18, 2007

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

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

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

Authenticity of The Hislop Letters

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

The Hazards of Speaking Out

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

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

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

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

Most Former Devotee Dissenters Do Not Respond To The Attacks

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

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


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

Earlier documents

Timothy Conway PH.D confirms the Hislop letters

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

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

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

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



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

There is a Spanish version available:


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Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

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

Indian Minister Shields Sai Baba on BBC television

Posted by Barry Pittard on July 31, 2007

ab-vajpayee-and-mm-joshi.jpgIn the BBC’s 2004 television documentary The Secret Swami, confronted by the BBC interviewer Tanya Datta, Murali Manohar Joshi (see photo, right), one of the most powerful ministers in the since-defeated A.B. Vajpayee (pictured to left) right-wing government, soon lost his temper, jabbing away with pointed finger at Ms Datta, manjoshiaccusing the BBC and people in England of plotting against Sai Baba, A.B. Vajpayee and P.N. Bhagawati (a key Sathya Sai Central Trust member and former Chief Justice of India). He arrogantly shouts at her,

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

Allegations against Sai are worldwide

Ms Datta’s vulnerability in the face of an arch bully was  touching to see, and she showed some courage but tougher interviewers would not have put up with an evasiveness like Joshi’s. It might have been better had Ms Datta not tried to defend the BBC and herself (although her reaction is transparently natural) but, rather, firmly stated the worldwide nature of the serious evidence that keeps on coming.

At least, Murali Manohar Joshi’s arrogant evasion of the BBC’s totally fair question about Indian Government accountability was unmasked for the world to see. Joshi exposed himself. See him doing it in video footage from the BBC’s The Secret Swami HERE

Successive Indian Governments Have Covered Up Sai Baba Scandals

It may be noted that the present Indian government of Manmohan Singh, who himself sings Sai Baba’s praises and visits him, maintains the chilling silence of successive Indian governments in regard to worldwide allegations against Sathya Sai Baba of large-scale, serial sexual abuse of boys and young men, complicity in police killings in his bedroom on June 6, 1993, and massive unaccountability of billions that flow to the Sathya Sai Central Trust from scores of countries around the world.

Further Viewing and Reading

See one-hour BBC television documentary The Secret Swami HERE

At the articles:

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

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


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

There is a Spanish version available:



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Posted in Religion, Scandal, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 11 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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