It was also very strange and confusing to read in the inaugural
speech of Indulal Shah, the international president of the
Sathya Sai Organisation, at the 7th World Conference (November
2000, Prashanthi Nilayam) the following words: In this
context, let me share with you that US magazine Week
has chosen to give respect to the UNESCO conference held in
Prasanthi Nilayam highlighting the message of Bhagawan on
Values for All. (20.11.2000. Materials
of the 7th World Conference of the Sai Organisation).
After all, it does not matter whether Week
has published anything about the conference or not. What matters
is that I. Shah has consciously deceived his spiritual brothers
and sisters using then UNESCO name for the conference which
had nothing to do with it."
(by Serguei Badaev, former President of the Moscow Sathya Sai Centre)
Non-existent massive villages
project: The Sathya Sai Organization purposely does not admit any mistakes and so fails to correct
misinformation it has circulated. This applies equally to its pronouncements
or when false positive facts about it are widely circulated by others, even for decades. All information that seems
to portray it in a good light and avoids any negative
news or embarrassing details about flawed projects or failed plans. 'One small
example': Sai Babas
organisation is very widely claimed to have adopted 600 or 6000 villages (some even claim 60,000 villages). However, in response to previous calls for village
regeneration from Sai Baba, a project was set afoot by the Chairman of the Sathya Sai Organization, Indulal
Shah, for the 60th birthday celebrations, initiated in
Nov. 1984 by S.B. Chavan, the Home Minister (who was later the 'grey eminence' behind the
quashing of investigations of murders in Sathya Sai's bedroom at Prashanthi Nilayam in 1993).
A text by the Organization claimed: "The programme planners had decided to adopt 6,000 villages, leaving the choice to the state units. They had all been cautioned earlier by Sri Baba what 'adoption' meant. The villages are to be regarded as near and dear as the child you adopt."and further "Nearly 5000 of the targeted 6000 villages have been brought under the welfare plan already. The rest are to be covered within the time set for them....
To be at all effective or to develop, this project would have required a very large staff of organisers - even on a shoestring basis. No such staff doing such activities has ever been seen or heard of. No one in the Sathya Sai Organization has any information on the project beyond what is in the 1985 publication from Sai Baba Publications Trust bookshop, The Beacon - a book adulating Sai Baba and the doings of 'his' organization consisting in brief texts and photos.
A section entitled "All India Exhibition - Depicting Seva Activities in 4,200 Adopted Villages In Different States of India" shows in a couple of pages a 'model village' rigged up for this exhibition at Prashanthi Nilayam. One picture is of Indulal Shah taking Sai Baba around it.
V.K. Narasimhan (one of the very few frequently outspoken persons very close to SB and in the know) informed Robert Priddy privately that the project petered out quickly after a large number of 'delegates' had been to the ashram for a few days of free lunches - it was in fact what Narasimhan called a washout", which ceased within the first year of its inception in 1985. This village project is still trumpeted as a divine success in Sai Organisation literature, information brochures and on web pages.
Some notable village uplift has, however, taken place, though on a more local scale, mainly by occasional Seva Dal or Sai student participation in village help projects, mainly within Sathya Sai Taluk area which is the close surrounds of Sai Baba's Prashanthi Nilayam ashram. The very expensive donation-financed project to provide water to Prashanthi Nilayam ashram (which is visitor-dependent) and to some hundreds of small local villages was reported in the local press and by a foreign observer who visited many of the villages to be largely a failure, not least due to a sudden fall in the water table, major contractor corruption, incomplete or faulty pipelines and the impossibility of encouraging villagers to undertake the simplest maintenance. It was soon signed off to the Andhra Pradesh State government to salvage whatever it could. Almost needless to point out, but the Sai organisation nor anyone connected with it has never mentioned a single thing about any kind of difficulty or failure in the Rayalaseema Water project, not even when it had to be abandoned to AP State management. Everything about it was proclaimed to be a huge success of service and donating overseas devotees were purposely kept completely in the dark. This is the same with every single event connected with the Sai Organisation, even including even the enforced abandonment of projects, like the Sai College in Copenhagen, presented as stopped through 'Swami's unfathomable Will'.
False Claims Still Publicised by the Sai Organisation: The reason the Sai Organisation never admits of making any mistakes of any kind, and so never corrects its own pronouncements is partly due to not wishing to lose face (the Avatar is supposed to be perfect and all his works likewise) and partly because they reject in advance the idea that the false - even preposterous - claims could be untrue. Under the title "Cherished Sai Baba myth further discredited by SSSO evidence", the writer Brian Steel has thoroughly discredited myths about the 'Mehdi Moud Prophecy' to which the Sai Organisation has - rashly and inexplicably in the view of people of any education - given undeniable official support. The claim that Sai Baba fulfils the prophecy in Islam of a coming Medhi Moud is presented in detail again in the official so-called 'Chaitanya Jyoti Museum' in Prashanthi Nilayam. This time the 'evidence' of a photocopy of Persian text is offered as proof of the alleged prophesy. It is from the 13th Volume of Boharul Anvar [Bihar al-Anwar, in Arabic] by Allame Majlesi [the oft-quoted 17th century Imam Majlisi]. However, after commissioning an expert translator, Brian Steel found that "the three Persian paragraphs quoted by the SSSO bear absolutely NO resemblance to the English text quoted by the official museum exhibit". This is more fraud by the Sai Organisation - see http://bdsteel.tripod.com/More/indmmtrans.htm
Sai Org. Authoritarianism and
Secrecy Exposed: Since the Sathya Sai cult is famous for
not replying and remaining totally unaccountable to anyone, BBC
II and BBC World television - after due consultation with its policy
and legal advisors - felt compelled to use hidden cameras to expose
its authoritarianism and hidden agenda in suppressing all sexual
abuse allegations. The cult's attitude to honest
public disclosure were reflected when Dr Michael Goldstein, the
SSOs world leader of this so-called divine organisation,
got angrier by the moment, demanding of the interviewer, "Transparency
in what sense?" and "What do you mean by thorough investigation"?
BBC World's The Secret Swami has screened in most countries of the world (BBC listed over 220 countries or territories), including in Asia and the Middle East. It is also showcased on-line. (For some video clips you may require broadband). Because of all this there is an ongoing and costly damage control effort by the SSO in various countries to select large, prestigious and plush venues such as La Mirada Theatre in the Los Angeles/Orange County area, Cooper Union in New York, Vancouver Playhouse, Melbourne Town Hall, etc. The aim is to promote Sathya Sai Baba to the wider public. Other propaganda includes very costly professional audio-visual presentations. Until a year or two ago, billions have poured into the coffers of the Sathya Sai Central Trust. The Rediff.com news agency reported, August 16, 2003, "The largest recipient of foreign contribution was Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, Rs 88.18 crore (Rs 881.8 million)" (See http://www.rediff.com/money/2003/aug/16donations.htm)
As to unaccountability in the Sai Org. the ex-devotee Shobie Kapoor, who was in the Sai movement from age 14 in Canada for about 22 years together with a family member who held a prominent leadership position in the organisation, wrote the following:
This concurs very well with the views expressed to Robert Priddy, (co-author here and former leader of Sai Org Norway) privately at considerable length on separate occasions about many of the lower leaders by two UK Sai Org. Presidents - both later Central Coordinators - the equally hard-working and self-sacrificing Lucas Ralli and Aime Levy, both of whom were 'sacked' most unceremoniously by the then International Chairman, Indulal Shah, simply for disagreeing with him. The same tales of woe were told him in much detail when in 1987 he visited Peggy Mason and Ron Laing (the latter once the only non-Indian member of the Sai Org. World Council), who made him listen, without wishing to hear, several long accounts showing what an insufferable and uncivil autocrat the International Chairman was.
Missionising in the Sai Org.
personality cult: The Sai Organisation began
as a service organisation, and remained so almost exclusively until
around the 1980s. Since then it has become more and more pro-actively
missionising on behalf of Sathya Sai Baba as "The universal
teacher", claiming mainly to promote human values, and attempting
to infiltrate schools and educational systems with these programmes.
It has success where there is poverty and need, along with much
ignorance and religious superstition (eg. India, Thailand, Brazil,
Zambia and so forth), but not so much in advanced societies (such
as in Denmark, where a $6 million proposed Sai college was unable
to open due to major public hostility. In Hartford, Connecticut,
a Sai school was stopped etc. In Gothenburg a Sai school was closed
down by its founder due to SB's sexual abuse involving her son and
View some of the checkered past of the Australian Sathya Sai Organization and see how the Sathya Sai Organization of New Zealand behaved.
Many good people
misled by a bad organisation: As
stated before, there are doubtless many well-intentioned and decent
persons in the Sai Organisation trying to do good work, and often
succeeding too. They are not individually to blame for the direction
this extremely autocratic organisation has taken and, knowing that
nothing they say can affect it, they mostly doubtless remain in
it only because of their belief in Sai Baba and the desire to do
social service and partake in something that may gain them some
spiritual reward. It is just too hard for most of them to realise
or admit to themselves that their beliefs are misplaced and that
the overall head of the whole is a deceiver and worse. It
is harder to defend members on their overlooking the evident failings
of their organisation, the serious humanistic shortcomings in the
teachings upon which it is based and the many alleged crimes of
The Sai Org. most specifically regards universal human rights as being irrelevant compared to 'human duties' and it eschews - in both theory and its established practice - the values of democratic choice, civic accountability, the human value of justice, gender equality. Frank discussion of its aims and practices, feedback, criticism, or any open exchanges of view that are not authorised by it and are ignored and/or suppressed (except in very few occasional instances). It has an agenda which has been made progressively less prominent in its public interface - namely, the promotion of 'The World Saviour' (self-proclaimed), because it has discovered through constant failures of its publicity projects that this is simply too much for the sane world to credit. It has long been a stated internal policy not to refer to Sai Baba's (megalomaniac) claims of Incarnation as Godhead and the Father who sent Jesus in public meetings.
money-spinning and unaccountable undertaking: This top-down
autocracy - a privately-run despotism - has become part of a process
whereby it does its utmost to ignore and cover up the crimes laid
at the door of its figurehead. It serves the cleverly-veiled function
of providing a world-wide catchment for the siphoning of money to
Sai Baba in India via a massive amount of donations, legacies, and
charitable contributions. The Sathya Sai Central Trust has no published
accounts of donations received or how monies are use. There is absolutely
NO guarantee that funds will be spent as desired and no checks of
any kind are possible by donors or others. Much goes to building
huge gaudy museums extolling Sai Baba, huge statues, wasteful festivals
and a large number of luxurious
apartments and houses for Sai Baba freely to use (he disposes of
many properties owned by the trust in his name without the slightest
interference from anyone).
The organisation is also very heavily engaged - and at considerable expense through lavish shows and media products - in trying to manipulate, through all manner of private political contacts in India and abroad and by massive publicity on the Internet, anyone who might help lend it respectability to increase its status and membership or to defend its sullied name along with that of its Lord and Master. These are unfortunately now the predominant features of this increasingly closed-off and secretive world-wide cult.