by Robert Priddy and Barry Pittard

It has ever been the practice throughout the Sai Organisation, to 'talk up' events in such a way that everyone who was not present believe it went marvellously. The same was true of Neville Frederick's glowing account of the Melbourne meeting in the first of the same 2005 series of five money-splurges. (He defected later) But the fact is that the crowds stayed away, and the cause of interfaith communication remained unachieved (best ask the straightforward, non-official Sai devotees who attended).
The following e-mail about their very badly-attended public 'inter-faith' in the Sydney Super Dome (seats 12,000 persons and cost $15,000.- to hire) was circulated in the Australian Sai Organisation with the usual hype and number exaggeration, along with its supposed "historic importance".

-----Original Message----- From: Cuganesan, Cugan Sent: Monday, 11 April 2005
Subject: E-Mail from Central Coordinator:
Dear Chairperson, Sai Ram! Saturday's Public Meeting and Exhibition was attended by approximately 1,500 - 1,700 people and was an outstanding example of cooperation and unity by Sai followers in Sydney. The exhibits were and still are being positively commented on, particularly the Unity of Faiths display. The Public Meeting ran smoothly with the two speakers Dr Pal Dhall and myself explaining the Teachings of Sai Baba (as directed by Him). Many have worked tirelessly, with Love & Unity. to produce the exhibits displayed. Our gratitude is expressed to Sister Gavina and Brother Satish,their team and all Centres and Groups for their support in staging this historic event. Sister Gavina has advised that an estimated 250 people who attended were new comers. Feedback provided by some are given below:- "Imagine what our education system would be like if we thought of it as 'Educare'?" - One of the Aboriginal holders who opened our event. "You guys do a lot of things. We should try and work together on something." - young person from Hillsong Church "I've always felt as if my role in becoming a teacher was to change something in the education system. Maybe this is something I could do. - A young school teacher regarding the Educare/EHV program. "When I heard Sai Baba's words they sounded like the words of a great Islamic scholar." - representative of an Islamic organisation. " I finally understood that Sai Baba and the Organisation is not a religion, but in actual fact encompasses all religions... the unity of faith display was great... The amount of work Sai Baba has done is incredible" - Italian catholic lady The 2 Catholic nuns were thoroughly impressed with the exhibition and the Video on Sai Baba and His works ...they were glad they attended... The husband (An Australian) of a friend of Gavina was absolutely amazed with the exhibition, the tsunami efforts and the information about education/educare given in the presentations... A Greek boy from UTS (uni) who came along (Nick), was thoroughly impressed with the exhibitions! He even wants to come to another "get together" the youths are having this weekend! One western lady was moved to tears when she saw the sewing project showing the children from diff countries who have been provided with new clothes.. With kind regards. Yours in Sai Service Neville Fredericks Central Coordinator, Australia & PNG

Our observer, known for care and accuracy, actually counted the heads within the Super Dome attending the meeting - rather than fondly guessing. Result: 1,200. Yet Neville Fredricks' e-mail reports an estimated number of 1500 to 1700, which is no more accurate than plus-minus a couple of hundred persons. So it is very clear that no head count was done, but an exaggerated, all too optimistic a figure was chosen (from 3 to 5 hundred too many). That number-massaging also casts great doubt on the "estimated 250 who attended were newcomers", for our regular observer who attends all such events and knows of virtually all the organisation members involved, stated that there were virtually no outsiders! Of course, among 1,200 persons he could not know who everyone was, nor could the organisers.

Yet again, it is difficult to believe those who so blithely speak of 'Sathya' (truth). This chronic organisational mendacity is witnessed many times but ignored and wished away by many involved in the Sai organisation, the ashrams and other Sai institutions. As members continue to leave the Sai organisation in ever increasing numbers they bear witness to the non-cult world a fact, among so many other disgraceful facts, which so many devotees of this so-called religion of truth suppress. Members follow the example set by Sai Baba in all his overblown estimates of figures (c.f. Sai Baba's close servitor V.K. Narasimhan claimed that "Baba multiplies all figures by ten ) The technique is like that kind of mathematical quiz which begins: 'Think of a number…'

Our observer, however, informs us that two Catholic nuns indeed were, as Neville Fredericks has reported, seen wandering through the exhibition. Probably just looking and quite possibly they kindly said they were impressed when asked their opinion. Catholic nuns would probably not want to be critical or negative. Otherwise the e-mail reports on one boy from a church. What clutching at the straws of hoped for approbation by those in mainstream religion! Of course, it is well known in the Sai movement that the Catholic Church rejects Sathya Sai Baba totally, having actually formally excommunicated the once-prominent Sai devotee, the Italian Roman Catholic priest, Mario Mazzoleni, for the specific reason that he believed in Sai Baba! Mazzoleni (now deceased) reported fully on his excommunication by the Vatican in his book A Catholic Priest Meets Sai Baba. Here one sees how the Sai Organisation has a desperate need to publicise - one by one - each non-member who attended this meeting. More damage-limitation was required: "One Western lady was moved to tears" but could this be an attempt to explain away the tears shed by one of the organising ladies, Gavina Cossa, in face of the most disappointing attendance figures? Was it the same one who was in tears when she saw the sewing projects? That a man was allegedly 'absolutely amazed' by the exhibition is the kind of hyperbole one only expects.

In the above, the words "historic event" sums up the essence of the programmatic self-deception. In 50 years' time, will it be looked back on in this way?

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