More Problems with the International Sathya Sai Organization's practices
with documental and/or anecdotal evidence
The ex-editor-in-chief of the Indian Express group, V.K. Narasimhan (VKN), was a truth-seeker both of worldly facts and spiritual insight, with a critical sense and high standards, certainly not given to naive judgements, hasty conclusions, or exaggerated reports. As I got to know him in various situations, I came to regard his perceptions as very largely credible, not least because - despite all the good sense in many of Sai Baba's activities, he always harboured doubts about his more extravagant assertions. Though he seldom mentioned it in public, it was he who pointed out to me that SB repeatedly exaggerates figures wildly.
On the 70th birthday Sathya Sai Baba had predicted that there would be 3 to 4 million visitors, said VKN to me beforehand. The ashram engineer, Mr. Ashoka, told a Norwegian engineer (Mr. Terje Nedland, who I knew well and who was planning an ashram water project) that he calculated that, at any one time, the entire accommodation facilities of the ashram and Puttaparthi in (1995) were less than 50,000 persons. About 250,000 maximum can occupy the Hillview Stadium, where the entire crowd was present at the main ceremony. The ashram was as empty. Even when largish areas with tents and outside camps are accounted for, the figure of 500,000 persons is reckoned to be much greater than had been present in the area on the Birthday. An American friend, Robert Bruce, who I have known for years, was told by Sai Baba in a brief interview after the celebrations that there had been 3 million persons present! Others reported similar statements by Sai Baba. (Some, unable to make his figures add up, argued that - "since Swami is never wrong" - this perhaps was intended to include disembodied souls visiting God! The basis for this was Sai Baba's own statement to that effect at a previous large celebration). When I asked VKN for clarigfication, he replied, "Swami always multiplies these numbers by ten." He was well placed to know, if anyone was! In the preceeding year to the 1995 birthday bonanza, Sai Baba had told one interview group that there would be 7,000 Japanese there, but in fact the registered number was 75! A group from New Zealand led by Mr. Arthur Hillcoat were informed by Sai Baba that he wanted 5,000 service workers (Seva Dals) from their country present in 1996 at the Birthday. But at the 70th birthday, the biggest foreign contingent, however, came from the USA – 750 persons in all. (I then heard Mr. Hillcoat also tell that Baba told them that radiation pollution from French nuclear tests would cause great havoc, ecological destruction and deaths in N.Z. and other places thousands of miles distant. This has evidently not occurred as far can be judged).
The ashram accommodation office, which handles the passposts of every foreign visitor, stated after the birthday event that there were at total of 8,000 delegates from 137 countries. This was the total number of foreign visitors registered at the ashram, whether believer or not: all were freely given the status of 'delegates', even mere tourists and inquisitive sceptics. My wife and I had to share a room with a couple, one of whom never even went to darshan (to look at SB) even once! The figure of 3 million visitors was frequently repeated, because it came from Sai Baba himself both before and after the event (from reliable friends whom he told this in interviews). Yet estimated on a technical basis by the ashram engineer, Mr. Ashoka, no more than a maximum of 300,000 were present in the entire area at any one time, a fact also verified by calculating the size of the Hillview Stadium, which was not even entirely full even at the main opening ceremony, as photos show. This was no isolated case of such multiplication by Sathya Sai Baba, for VKN told me all important birthday attendance figures had been hugely overblown.
Another incident involving multiplication was in 1990, when Dr. Samuel Sandweiss had tried to interest 120 Russian psychiatrists in Delhi to come to Prashanthi. Only 12 had actually planned to come, though even they did not all arrive. The 12 Russians (on an official State visit in India) who had wanted to come were stopped in Delhi because they would not accept the ordinary tourist visas they were offered, for - being invited delegates to an Indian psychiatric conference - they were expecting official treatment instead. However, after hearing of these 12 psychiatrists from Sandweiss in the interview room, Swami himself announced on the porch outside to students and others that 120 Russians were coming to see him. VKN heard Dr. Sandweiss tell SB of his mistake, and SB became very angry with him and told him to leave the ashram immediately and return to the USA. This was hushed up by all who heard it, as is usually done by those who are 'in the know'.
There are a number of round figures constantly repeated. The supposed 6,000 villages, then the 60,000 villages. (In fact, the entire village regeneration programme fell into total decline.) The 6 million devotees of Sai Baba in the 1970s, was later repeatedly restated as 'around 60 million'. Now one often sees 300,million and even 600 millions as an official estimate of followers of Sathya Sai Baba!
Repeated visits to the ashrams during 16 years never gave me the sense that this was a movement with several millions, I saw many, many of the same faces over and again, and I could seldom count more than 4 thousand persons on normal darshan days, even in the 1990s. Remark: See the official Sanathana Sarathi Nov-Dec. 1995 - photo of the 70th birthday crowd in the Hillview Stadium. The stadium contained virtually everyone in the entire area at the time it was taken (I left early and so saw how few people were left in Puttaparthi village, while the ashram was nearly deserted). If one compares this to a photo of this year with two million pilgrims at Mecca, (eg. such as was distributed by Reuters around 20/2/02), one appreciates that the Prashanthi crowd is around 1/10 of that number. No panoramic photos of the 70th birthday crowds show no more than ca. 200 thousand people.
Further, anyone who follows the news on TV could perhaps recall that the Pope's send-off from Poland in August, 2002 was attended by an official count of three million people. All could very easily see that the absolutely gigantic crowd this makes - which could then only be seen in part on the screen - far, far exceeded the number of people in the Hillview Stadium for SB's biggest birthday yet, the 70th, which was much photographed to give a sense of a multitude.
Inflated statistics: Prof.
V.K. Gokak’s book, "Sri Sathya Sai and the
Culture of India and the World." (Sri Sathya Sai Trust, Dharmakshetra,
Bombay, April 1990) has in Appendix 1 four pages listing Sathya Sai Organization groups/Centres/Study
circles/Bal Vikas centres/Bal Vika students in all countries. For example, Norway was misrepresented
as having 2 centres (it had none, but one functioning group and one
pro forma group) plus 1 study circle (correct) and 1 Bal Vika Centre (complete fabrication - based on the fact that
3 persons out of the 4 members in the entire country then had been to
one EHV seminar in India!).
Though the Sathya Sai Organization centrally is almost obsessed with membership statistics and increased recruitment, oddly no statistics are kept of persons who left or why they did so.
Evidence of the preoccupation with membership numbers is widespread. A typical example is in “Conversations…” in the 1995 re-edited version (p. 232), Hislop tells Baba that the American Sai centres have slow growth. “We should have 300 or 400 instead of just over 100.”
Baba replies “One reason for the slow growth is that Hislop’s discipline is too harsh. The Sai Organisation works through softness, kindness, love and harmony. In American the people are outspoken with strong and often harsh ideas and opinions, and when they are confronted with an equally harsh ruling there is a confrontation and cessation of advancement and progress. Persuasion should be applied softly and with kindness.”
Hislop replied “Swamiji, I do months of soft persuasion without effect; then I have to act with firmness.”
The biggest foreign contingent, however, came from the USA – 750 persons in all. There were a total of about 8,000 foreign visitors from all countries actually registered as staying at the ashram, including everyone there, even mere tourists and inquisitive skeptics. The figure of 3 million visitors was frequently repeated, because it came from Sai Baba himself both before and after the event (from reliable friends whom he told this in interviews). Yet estimated on a technical basis by the ashram engineer, Mr. Ashoka, no more than a maximum of 300,000 were present in the area at any one time, a fact also verified by calculating the size of the Hillview Stadium, which was not even entirely full even at the main opening ceremony, as photos show.
The number of foreign visitors reported at big festivals reported often far exceeds the total number of airline seats available to South India for weeks before and from afterwards. Besides, after nine visits to the ashrams, we have always seen a large number of familiar faces every time.
The Poornachandra Auditorium is reported as having 5 times the number of devotees it can possibly hold at the maximum! So are the numbers in the darshan compound hugely inflated in reports, for I have often counted around 3000, which is then said to be 8000. The numbers at the large events like Baba’s birthdays are invariably multiplied by any factor up to 10, so that 300,000 became 3 million. As the former editor of Sai Baba’s monthly journal Sanathana Sarathi - V.K. Narasimhan - often pointed out to me, most devotees accept these hugely inflated figures without a second thought and repeat them anywhere, mainly because Sai Baba himself initiates them time and again. I have several sources of independent confirmation from interviews of this ‘divine multiplication’ of numbers of devotees. Narasimhan had no explanation as to why Sai Baba did this so persistently.
Though 187 countries were represented by flag-bearers at the 70th birthday, many flags had to be carried by persons of different countries because those in question had no male representative present! This one typical example of the self-enhancing culture of the Sathya Sai Organization.
example is echoed, of course, in the statements of leading officials.
For example, in a circular letter 18-9-01,
Indulal Shah exemplifies it when he states “We all know how the number
of devotees of Bhagawan is increasing by the minute round the world.” But
the question is, how could he know? Where is
any evidence for such a sweeping emotive statement? It is all in the
mind of the Sai believers, especially those who are so encircled by
devotees that they are quite out of touch with the wider world!
Spiritual Doublethink: When a conflict between facts we perceive and ideas we hold arises, doublethink often comes into play. Spiritual teachings often require a lot of such double-thinking, for they deal with an alleged reality that is not perceived and which often seem to contradict worldly conditions and possibilities. They have mind-disciplining features very similar to those of Soviet communism - as Arthur Koestler brilliantly analyzed and described after he had finally broken the chains of Soviet ideology. "I had eyes to see and a mind conditioned to explain away what they saw. This 'inner censor' is more reliable and effective than any official censorship." (The Invisible Writing, p. 64)
Many examples of such doublethink are seen in the Sai movement. The way Sai Baba identifies with some project and lends his name to it yet the next moment denies that it is his or that he is actually connected with it. This is so of the Sathya Sai Central Trust, where he signs every cheque personally yet claims not to have anything whatever to do with money. He is praised, even by his own officials for donating a hospital, a college, cottages, tools and so on... but at the same time he claims to have no properties whatever (except - he repeatedly comments - for his students, his 'only property'). This is indeed confusing, and it also opens a way for people to go on believing things which any person who relies on observations, common sense or reason would soon see through.
His organisation, which he himself calls 'our organisation', and giving his name to it, while at once claiming that he really has nothing to do with it. On 24/10/1987, Sai Baba announced that the World Council of the Sathya Sai organisation would cease from that day. He also said of the organisation "Truly speaking I have nothing to do with the organisation. There is a close relationship between you and me. No one can posit any distance between us. This is not created by someone in the organisation." and "The direct individual relationship between each of you and myself will remain always. If our relations can be strengthened through the organisation, I shall feel happier." (Jan 88 Sanathana Sarathi p. 15). Meanwhile, being in a group belonging to the organisation is in actual practice one of the chief channels for getting an interview with Sai Baba. The interview is a worldly meeting, the 'innerview', however, is held to be the real encounter at a supra-mundane level.
So the famous dualism between the profane and the divine crops up constantly, where the profane has to be reinterpreted in terms of the divine. Such a dualism exists in the avatar concept and reality itself - Sai Baba is divine but also human. If he shows any human traits that we would normally regard as failings, limitations, mistaken ideas and predictions, it all has to be 'explained away' in terms of an inscrutable and mysterious divinity that we have no hope in hell of ever understanding.
Likewise, Baba often makes definitive and contradictory statements about the same thing. One can quote him warning against blind faith, but equally so supporting it as superior to the foolishness of learned people. He has frequently supported the idea of human free will (though limited in scope, of course) and just as often denied that there can be any free will at all. In the same discourse even he both praised and berated the value of doing service for achieving self-realisation! It is just the same with devotion, repeating a holy name or singing praise of the divine... they are essential, the only way etc., but then he will point out that the goal can never be achieved by such 'spiritual kindergarten' efforts. All this is a recipe for doublethink and the resultant confusion of most devotees is quite evident in much of what they discuss and write. Click here for more on 'spiritual doublethink'
Criticisms of the leadership, however constructive and well-meant, are in the best case met with corrective admonitions on the lines of, 'Examine and criticize only yourself, not others'. Some of the leaders are known never to have done any actual service to those who really need it, other than the kind of `service` that consists in meetings, paperwork, jetting about and sitting on the veranda. Moreover, I know a number of truly good people, including several national and regional coordinators, who have given themselves wholly to the work - involving much energy, time and money – who been excluded for no sensible reasons or a well-intentioned critical comments or serious questionings around suspicious events. Some such persons in my own experience include one-time high office-bearers like Ron Laing, Lucas Ralli, Aime Levy, all of the UK, and Serguei Badaev of Russia.
Alexandra Nagel of Holland wrote:
When I was interviewed by a journalist about my experience with Sai Baba, the journalist called also Keith Ord, UK, for an interview, as my story is closely related to his. The article got out in a weekly magazine in January 1992. As a result I had a few telephone conversations with the leader of the Dutch Sai organisation, mainly while his wife was upset about the content of Keith’s story. After two or three conversations, it stopped out of the blue. Later that year there was again upheaval among devotees because of the article by Piet Vroon upon which two years later my own article came out (“The Sai-paradox”). I sent, naturally, a copy to the Dutch Sai Organisation. No comments were given, even though I asked for it more than once. When I finished a paper for the University of Amsterdam January 2001, about the developments after the publication of “The Findings”, I again mailed them a copy and asked for an interview and offered them to inform them on the things I'd taken notice of. The paper got returned two days later with a letter: "We have looked into this matter a few months ago, we now have other things we focus on."
Of course I have to and do respect such decisions and points of view. At the same time I must admit that to me it comes across as that at least some of the (important) people in the Dutch Sai Organisation shut off from communication with the ‘outside’ world and make themselves isolated and exclusive, like cults do. I am critical, yes, but I certainly had a sincere desire to discuss the allegations with them. Why? Simply because some accusations are awfully troublesome and I would like to understand how devotees seem to explain things away in Baba’s favour.
In general, it seems to be difficult for people with doubts about Swami to talk about it with the officials. It is not that the officials are blind, they do think about problematic matters and try to find solutions. Yet all seems to get weighed and viewed from the point of view that Sai Baba is divine. He can’t do no wrong. This easily leads to the idea that as a doubting devotee one doesn't have enough faith. With hardly place for doubting devotees within the Sai-culture, people have to step out of the organisation. Furthermore, the Dutch organisation considers it best to not discuss the allegations with non-devotees. In other words, the organisation only seems to function when one believes in Sai Baba. That's also why it at times is extremely difficult for devotees to cope with things like “The Findings” and the murders in 1993. They have no place to go: society in general doesn't understand devotion to a guru and what it means to believe in Sai Baba as the Avatar (God incarnated), and within the organisation there is no place for serious doubt.
All the documents referred to are available on the internet: look at http://www.exbaba.com/ under the section ‘A. Nagel’. Also the articles of Piet Vroon and the one in HP/De Tijd are on that website, however not under ‘A. Nagel’.
Criticising ex-devotees as ‘chaff’ etc:
When office-bearers leave or are removed from office, VIPs speak of this as Baba 'removing the chaff from the wheat' or 'weeding'. One's so-called 'brothers and sisters' are evaluated, rather than themselves, and much talked-about compassion lacks. People who leave the Sathya Sai Organization are frequently referred to in denigratory ways like 'disgruntled persons', 'having too big egos' etc. A former leader of a national Sai organisation in Northern Europe, while still a keen Baba devotee, left the organisation eventually because of his experiences of the self-interest of some of its international leaders (not because of the allegations, he remained a follower of Sai Baba). After a recent visit to see Sai Baba, he described a current regional VIP whom he met on the home flight as virtually “bursting apart with inflated ego”. It cannot be denied that most leaders who receive much attention from Sai Baba exhibit evidence of strong ego behaviour towards their subordinates and others, while becoming yet more subservient and puppet-like towards Sai Baba and the Overseas Chairman. This can be seen in many of the CCs public and internal statements in connection with the many accusations against Sai Baba.
Cast-off people: As soon as anyone is superseded by a new office-bearer, leaves office in the Sai Org. (or is ejected) they seldom hear a word more from those who may have seemed so loving and friendly previously. Some people who have devoted much of their lives to the cause find that this leaves them in a social desert. Serious depression even follows in some cases. It is evident from the various instances of which I know (from three continents and a variety of countries) that one 'must' qualification for remaining a leader in the Sai Organization is complicity in the culture of secrecy, half-truth etc.
Fund misappropriated by ashram:
Aime Levy, President of UK Sathya Sai Organization until removed as President of the Sathya Sai Organization in UK and relegated to the role of Central Coordinator for UK/Eire (from which he was subsequently dismissed by M. Goldstein & I. Shah), engaged himself in obtaining funds for a sewerage and water supply scheme for Prashanthi Nilayam ashram and surroundings. A team of professionals from around the world (incl. From Canada, UK, and Norway’s eco-engineer, Mr. Terje Nedland) worked very hard – hundreds of hours voluntarily - on designing a complete eco-friendly scheme, for which Levy’s had collected the funds. The team was at Prashanthi twice in two years the 70th birthday, and surveyed the area with the aid of Colonel Joga Rao, the engineer who undertook many projects for Sai Baba. A large sum of money was duly sent by Levy expressly for the purpose, but it was simply appropriated out of hand by the Central Trust (without so much as asking Levy or the team) for another project – the very expensive Rayalaseema Water Project, which had run into serious difficulties of malfunction, maintenance and funding. The sewerage needs of Prashanthi Nilayam were then ‘met’ by a cheap Bangalore firm, which dug open cesspits for chemical treatment, which cause most of the ashram to stink to high heaven at regular intervals during hot or windy weather. Who negotiated the cheap fix deal or what personal provision they may have received is not documented.
Indian dignitaries & well-known names who worship Sai Baba in public:-
Former Chief Justice of India P.N. Bagawati has been close to Sai Baba for decades & is on The Sathya Sai Central Trust. Former Chief Justice of India P.N. Bagawati is on the Sathya Sai Central Trust. By 1995, it was possible to list more than 55 judges in the Supreme Court, high courts, chief justices, chairmen of various commissions who were Sai Baba devotees. Chief Justice, Dr A. Anand (who blocked Mr. H. Sampath's petition against Sai Baba through two of his judges in the Supreme Court see affidavit here). Supreme Court judges G.F. Ray and Jagannatha Rao visited Sai Baba after the birthday celebrations of 23-11-1998. All accept Sai Baba's unconstitutional authority. Justice J. Easwara Prasad wrote a panegyric in Sai Baba's journal Nov. 1990.
From abroad Sai Baba has been visited formally by:-
Italian PM, Antonio Craxxi, (deceased)
King and Queen of Nepal (brutally murdered in 2001 by their son),
King and Queen of Spain,
The Duchess of York ('Fergie')
Ex-president of Sri Lanka Ranasingha Premadasa.
Sri Lankan politician Lalit Athulatmudali.
Princess of Thailand (frequent visitor)
Mr. Trudeaux, brother of the former PM of Canada.
Former PMs of Fiji and Mauritius.
US Ambassador to India - in the 1960s (name?)
According to reports the Italian PM Andreotti visited in the 1980s with entourage
Reports also that one PM of Greece (?) visited, plus the former Grecian monarch and someone in the Spanish Royal Family. Plus alss the President of El Salvador.
Entertainers (very incomplete list):
Goldie Hawn, George Harrison, Stephen Segal (US 'action' film star),
Pandit Ravi Shankar (sitar), M.S. Subbulakshmi and Anupjalota (female singers)
Shiv Kumar Sharma (santoor) (all the above are on film with Sai Baba).
Maynard Ferguson (trumpet)
Manoj Kumar (ex-film star).
Former cricket star Sunil Gavaskar,
Sachin Tendulkar (and various other Indian world cricket stars).
R.A. Bendra (award-winning poet)
Playing for powerful supporters: For 2002, the International Chairman, Indulal Shah, sent out a circular call
to all Sathya Sai Organization leaders, virtually imploring them for their help in defending the
name of Sathya Sai Baba, especially through getting acknowledgement from anyone
who might be a shaker and mover, as is seen clearly in the excerpt:
"I have to request you to compile information of all such impacts and expressions of work of nation building carried out by our Organization in your country by way of news items, press coverage, photographs, message or letter received from a Local Community, Political, Government or Religious Leader acknowledging our work."
When press persons met Mr. Indulal Shah in 1993, then a chief functionary of the Sri Satya Sai World Trust, he said of the cold-blooded shooting of four devotees who had intruded on Sai Baba, "the matter is purely internal and we do not wish to have any law enforcement agency investigating into it." (from The Hindu, 10-6-1993). This is not the attitude of decent, law-abiding people, but is simply despotic. In his apparent ignorance of the real world beyond the pale of the almost wholly corrupt system of India, Indulal Shah plans world-wide "nation building" in the name of Sai Baba. Shall we suppose that he would instruct nations in the totalitarian style of the Prashanthi Nilayam township, where the murders were suppressed and investigations quashed by intervention at the highest levels of government? By instructing Sathya Sai Organization members that THEY do good works so these will reflect back on Sai Baba and "enhance the Divine glory of the Avatar of the Age" this would function as a cover-up or smokescreen to avoid accountability and allow any kind of redress or compensation for the victims' families. To any unbiased observer, Shah's letter would surely appear to contradict itself fundamentally by trying in fact to defend Sai Baba, while claiming that he needs no de fence whatever?
ALL ZONAL CHAIRMEN AND CENTRAL COORDINATORS AND CHAIRPERSONS OF CENTRAL
COUNCIL OF CO-ORDINATING COMMITTEE
DEAR BROTHERS/SISTERS, HAPPY NEW YEAR!
As you are aware there will be an International Seva conference in Prashanthi Nilayam in July, 2002.
As a prelude to the International Seva Conference to be held, I do believe that the Sri Sathya Sai World Organisation must undertake responsibility and action that will truly reflect the objective of our Organisation, which is one of nation building in every country. The Sri Sathya Sai Avatar and His Teachings which form the Organisation's Action Plan play a positive role in the growth and prosperity of every nation, and the World at large.
You are aware that these are testing and difficult times. Even the Avatar faces denigration and attempts to undermine His Glory by resorting to distorted statements and falsehoods made by the ignorant. It is not as if the Avatar needs human effort to glorify Him or that He needs any protection from any such despicable efforts to denigrade Him, but the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation has a great role to perform to enhance the Divine glory of the Avatar of the Age. This has to be achieved by us with a great sense of sincerity and dedication not with an aim of defending the name of the Avatar in the face of negativity but by positive pro-action of making the world aware by our programmes and the Vision Message and Mission of the Avatar.
Our Organisation must reflect what we are and what we do as also our impact on others by living Sai's message in all spheres of life - local, regional, national, political or economic - of each country.
In this context, I have to request you to compile information of all such impacts and expressions of work of nation building carried out by our Organisation in your country by way of news items, press coverage, photographs, message or letter received from a Local Community, Political, Government or Religious Leader acknowledging our work etc. and send the same to me by the end of February 2002. For those countries that have not undertaken any such activities, I would urge that it be a National Sadhana for the Sai Organisation to undertake such projects and give us a Project report.
The Projects that you can undertake can be that which fulfill a programme of Human Values Regeneration amongst the Youth in the community or they can be Projects of permanent benefit, like establishing Sai Schools, setting up Mini Hospitals, undertaking Water Projects, etc. that will remain a permanent legacy of the force of Sai's Love in the nations. These will be the lighthouses for future generations that the Avatar walked on this earth and that His Love motivated His devotees to extend that Love to all in need. Needless to say, you have to respond to the "felt need" of the community in which you live.
Please note that we are NOT seeking activities like visits to Old Folks Homes, Orphanages, Poor feeding etc. All these are noble works, but are being done by many other NGOs. All these activities have been done for years by Sai Devotees and are a powerful force for personal Sadhana! It is now imperative with Baba's call for Educare/Medicare/Socicare, that we move to become a force of benefit to the countries in which Sai Organisations exist! Bhagwan, Himself is showing an example of this in India and how the Sai Organisation is a force in Nation Building recognised by one and all.
Once the above information is received, the same will be compiled and published through all aspects of media (print and electronic ) throughout the world as a major Awareness exercise for the world community of the Sai Avatar. The above will be presented to Bhagwan and featured in a Website to show the work being done by the Sai Organisation around the globe that is helping in Nation Building efforts. Also, it is intended that these be published into a book to be released at the earliest.
look forward to receiving the above as well as your suggestions at
the earliest. May Bhagwan Baba Bless you in all your work for the
coming year, 2002. Sai Ram!
(signed) INDULAL SHAH, INTERNATIONAL CHAIRMAN
The British P.M. was not fooled by the invitation from the Sathya Sai Organisation to visit Sai Baba, who went from Prashanthi Nilayam to Whitefield so as to be there when Tony Blair was due there in connection with the opening of the new IT centre near Whitefield in 2002! Nor has Al Gore, school friend of Hard Rock Cafe's Isaac Tigrett and the loser of the last US election, given his signature to support Sai Baba, as the USA's Sathya Sai Organization boss,M. --Goldstein, pretended he would when he spoke in Argentina last autumn.
See VIEWPOINT - On Sathya Sai Organization and the Scandinavian situation (1990)
Fall-off of devotees of Sathya Sai Baba: It is evident that only a fraction of all those who have visited Sai Baba remain followers for any length of time. This is evident to those who attend the ashrams over long periods. Many people one saw often are never seen again, and if one asks former contacts who knew them, they usually have not seen them return. There are many, many familiar faces each time one visits... so the core group is quite evidently not so vast as is claimed, by far! Sathya Sai Baba has tried to explain this on occasion, probably correctly in part, at least, but - as he always does - constantly putting the blame on them, their defects etc.: Referring to Shirdi Sai Baba's following he said, "Only ten percent remain..." and "In the same manner, thousands of devotees are coming to me. Are they all ripening into good devotees? Many drop away in the middle. Some come for getting their desires fulfilled. Some seek wealth. Many are coming either for study or in connection with jobs or marriage or other personal desires of their own. In each one there is some defect or other. No one comes for My sake" (Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 25, p. 355).
"I have been, for example, asked often why some persons who have Sathya Sai Organization associated themselves with Prashanthi Nilayam for years leave off and do not appear again! ... After ten or twelve years of 'devotion' suddenly these people take a turn for the worse and stray away;" (Sathya Sai Speaks Vol 11, p. 87). Again, he does not seem to realize that many people evidently also see through his deceptions, his sleight of hand with vibuthi, his false 'diamonds', his not acting as he says he does, his pomp and circumstance, his unpleasant looks and imperious manner etc.
“Sai Baba, salvation and syncretism: Religious change in a Hindu movement in urban Malaysia” by Raymond L.M.
Lee (from Contributions to Indian Sociology (NS) vol. 16, no. 1 (1982)
“The Sai Baba movement in Malaysia is not a unified movement. Neither has the movement received full support from all quarters of the Hindu community in Malaysia. The controversies surrounding Sai Baba in India have also spread to the Hindu community in Malaysia. These controversies range from Sai Baba’s lavish life-style and fraudulent activities to sexual perversion.
12 While the
members of various Hindu organizations, such as the Malaysian Hindu Sangam, have not openly condemned Sai Baba, they have quietly
rejected him as a flamboyant healer of an apotropaic cult.
Within the movement in Malaysia, two types of conflict have developed over the last five years. Firstly, competition among members over the reins of leadership has resulted in the formation of several splinter groups. Secondly, and more importantly, some members have begun a quiet campaign to discredit Sai Baba after they had conducted personal investigations of his life-style and behaviour.
13 This campaign to expose Sai Baba comprise mainly taped revelations by several Malaysian Indian students who claimed that they had been sexually abused by Sai Baba. Another thrust of this campaign has been the re-examination of the Hindu scriptures to highlight the assumed contradictions in Sai Baba’s claim that he is a joint incarnation of Shiva and Shakti.
14 The Chinese press has also been influenced by this campaign. Some Chinese newspapers have published articles warning the Chinese public not to be taken in by Sai Baba. So far, the campaign has been fairly successful as several devotees have renounced Sai Baba as their saviour and some have even withdrawn their children from Sai Baba colleges in India.
On the other hand, there are many devotees who have dismissed this campaign as a contrived effort to malign their guru. These are largely the leaders and core members of the various Sai Baba groups in Malaysia. These individuals feel a strong need to publicly defend their guru in order to maintain their position in the movement and to prevent mass defection. One prominent leader in the movement had announced at a bhajan that even Jesus Christ and other great religious leaders had suffered persecutions and had weathered various accusations for fraud, immorality and sexual perversion. The anti-Sai Baba campaign has inadvertently provided a catalyst for the feuding groups mentioned earlier to join forces temporarily in the face of a common threat to the movement.”
See, for example, “The Illustrated Weekly of India” 10 April, 1977, p. 33; and Mangalwadi (1977: 164-168).
Two of my informants told me that they had journeyed to India and had taped interviews with several Malaysian Indians (males) who claimed that they had been seduced by Sai Baba while studying at one of the many colleges established by him. These students also revealed that they were familiar with Baba’s sleight-of-hands that are considered miracles by others. My informants also told me about their interviews with Baba’s elder brother and his neighbours in Puttaparthi who do not regard him as an avatar.