The foes of the 'open society' (Sir Karl
Popper's term) are those who use its very openness to achieve their
closed and devious ends. Sai Baba and his highly authoritarian and
cultist organisation have such ends, which critics have tried to make
known. Its foremost leaders silence all those who question it- and never
face substantive criticisms. For the first time - after six years of
pained and guilty silence - since hundreds of long-term devotees left it
in disgust - the Sathya Sai Organisation has found it necessary to try
to defuse the debate about Sathya Sai Baba's alleged crimes, deceits and
fraudulence. Dr. Venkataraman's tendentious cover-up article expresses
untruths which have long circulated within the cult, giving an
opportunity to confront him with facts and truth, as follows:-
Comments by the undersigned are in blue text:
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THE INEVITABLE COLLAPSE OF CALUMNY
[by Dr. G. Venkataraman]
[text in black from http://media.radiosai.org/Journals/Vol_04/01JUL06/collapse-of-calumny.htm
Radio Sai Listener's journal: Volume 4 - Issue 07 JULY 2006]
The Eternal Struggle Between Good And Evil
The Indian scriptures say that practically every Avatar has had enemies.
Comment: Most of the world does not accept Sai Baba as an avatar, nor ever will, as any student of religion knows. Despite his claims that in his own lifetime that he will first transform his own backyard, India, and then the rest of the world he will never succeed. His claims - such as that he will never look old - become daily ever more absurd as he becomes sicker-looking. He has undergone hip operations. His students and other aides have to prop him up. Several times, he has fallen over in full public view. He has walked around in circles, muttering incoherently. He has said - fully caught by BBC cameras! - that he had three tons of gold in him. This is to give but a few examples of his increasing physical and mental decay.
Many countries have laws stating that all are equal before the law. Those uninvited touchings - and much more invasive handling - of the genitals of young males that even many Sai devotees are forced to admit are true are not permitted by law. Only in most circumscribed medical circumstances may a medical doctor touch a person’s genitals. Sai Baba is not a doctor. He is answerable to the law, if only successive corrupt regimes in India did not protect him. Simply to “march ahead ignoring the background noise” is a central tenet of the authoritarian top-down Sai Organisation. No genuine feedback is accepted from rank-and-file members, who have relinquished all rights regarding it according to the Organization’s Charter and to whom even the slightest criticism is banned. We have thoroughly documented this from official sources. 12 Statements by virtually every official and major document in the Sai Organization’s massive website propaganda make this clear.
I will not go into the details, but during every Incarnation there are enemies who challenge the Avatar in various ways. Sometimes, they even attack physically. Apparently, the enemies symbolise the evil on earth, and a struggle between the good and the evil is needed from time to time to establish the Eternal Truth that in the end, Good always triumphs over Evil.
Comment: This is sheer anathema again! If Venkatarman persists in calling former devotees ‘evil’, perhaps one day enough Sai devotees who know the quality of many who have left the Sai Organization will realise his bare-faced untruthfulness. To use one’s right to freedom of speech against provably false claims and criminal actions is not ‘evil’; on the contrary, it is just and right, hence good!
In the Krishna Avatar, for example, there was a demon called Jarasanda who repeatedly attacked Mathura, the city that was the capital of Krishna’s kingdom at that time. In fact, to protect His people, Krishna moved from Mathura to Dwaraka. Krishna was God Almighty in human form. He commanded all the Powers of God. If you recall, He revealed Himself as the Supreme Lord to Arjuna in the battlefield. And yet, why is it that the same Krishna did not dispose of Jarasanda, which He surely could have done in a jiffy? Well, those are the mystifying aspects of the Avatar! Such aspects are present in every Avatar. By the way, to complete this story, it was finally left to the hefty Pandava Bhima, to tear Jarasanda to pieces, literally.
Comment: Venkataraman clearly reveals his unspoken wish – and that of similar Sai devotees – to see Sai Baba’s critics torn to pieces, literally! How very loving and spiritual of him. To stamp people as demons, as he and his his supposedly compassionate Lord and master do, is to revert to primitive superstitions. No truly educated, rational person today would accept this perverse worldview.
Not many realise that attacks on Swami have always been there, almost from the time Swami declared His Avatarhood. If you read the accounts of people who used to travel to Puttaparthi in the good old days, they always tell us how the locals were quite hostile to Swami.
Comment: Now one can understand there were doubtless some very good reasons! The devotee Smt. Vijayamma’s account of Sai Baba’s relentless and continued beatings of her two-year old baby are just one point in case. Moreover, that Sai Baba was in a homosexual partnership even then is very evident from her text too! 13
For them, a little boy who used to be one of them simply could not be God. How on earth was that possible, they asked. But that phase soon passed off, and now we see how that very same Swami is being venerated by the people of those very same villages, who were once so hostile to Him.
Comment: It is in their economic interest - his becoming a major tourist attraction has raised their standard of living greatly. To try to oppose him now - when he controls the police, and has Supreme Court and High Court judges, Prime Ministers and Presidents and various government Ministers in his hand - would be far beyond any villager. So why, given their dire health problems, do they not swarm to his hospitals as they do to hospitals elsewhere in India? Relative to their size and opulence, his hospitals have very few patients. Are they not primarily Sai Baba promotional showpieces for the world and for use mainly by rich Indian and foreign devotees?
Later, came Vedic scholars who scoffed at Swami. How could this young man who never spent even a single day in Veda Patashala [Vedic school] know anything about the Vedas, they asked. But soon they realised that this was no ordinary young man but the One who was the very form of the Vedas, or Veda Pursusha, as He is known in ancient Indian scriptures.
Comment: Many Vedic scholars in India do not think that Sathya Sai Baba is God incarnate. The attempt to claim otherwise must be deeply offensive to many Indians. 14
In the sixties and seventies, it was Swami’s miracles that came under heavy attack. A whole bunch of rationalists pooh-poohed Him, challenging Swami to do this and that, so as to convince them. Swami has not come to convince anybody about His Divinity. Rather He has incarnated to tell man, “O man! Realise you are Divine and start acting Divine if not at least as a human. Do not be a slave to your senses and behave like an animal or worse still, like a devil.”
Comment: “Behaving like the devil”, or that ‘the devil’ exists, are totally discredited ideas among educated people. Among Christian sects, they take the form of fundamentalist Bible-thumping ideas, but each culture has its own weak-minded variants.
The rationalists made a lot of noise but the world soon got tired of them. However, some serious intellectuals like Murphet, Hislop, and Sandweiss came with open minds and realised that Swami was the Embodiment of Pure Consciousness.
Comment: Venkataraman cites those whose assumptions themselves are under well-founded and strong critical scrutiny. Whatever competence they may have gained in their own professions, they are not recognized as scholars in religious studies or as probing intellectuals commenting on great public questions. Sai Baba elevated Murphet, Hislop and Sandweiss to a pantheon-like position among his devotees.
The Blitz Interview
In mentioning all these names, I must not forget Rusi Karanjia, a self-declared atheist and Marxist, who published from Bombay, the then highly-popular weekly BLITZ.
Karanjia wrote many things against Swami until someone asked him, “How can you write about something when you have not checked the facts? Have you ever met Sai Baba? Have you checked out whether what you are publishing as facts are really facts and represent the truth?”
Comment: Indeed! Painstaking checking of facts at the expense of much time and energy by many Sai critics is why a range of agencies, and gave valuable time to the of the alleging victims – for example, Interpol, FBI, the Australian Federal Police, the German State Prosecutor’s Office, UNESCO, the State Department, and other governments, civic and religious institutions and many newspapers world-wide. When he generalizes about critics of Sai Baba, Venkataraman shows no evidence of checking his facts.
When his journalistic credentials were challenged, Karanjia came to Puttaparthi and Swami graciously granted him many interviews.
Being the journalist that he was, Karanjia asked many probing questions and Swami answered them all, patiently. Karanjia had to admit that he was mistaken and he wrote a book not only retracting all his earlier biased and critical opinions, but went so far as to describe Swami as the living God walking on earth! By the way, to my knowledge, with the exception of Karanjia, Swami has never granted interviews to pressmen in this fashion.
Comment: Why does Sai Baba refuse all other press interviews? We submit that questions from the independent press would be searching and would soon expose him.
For devotees, it is always a matter of great astonishment that the Lord could have enemies. “Why Swami,” many of them asked, “do You have enemies?” Swami always gave the same Comment: “It is only when there is darkness that people appreciate the value of light.”
In the same way, Avatars need enemies so that people understand better the difference between Good and Evil. In short, the appearance of villains in the Lord’s Story is preordained, and we need not be overly surprised by it.
Comment: Like the defenders of so many other personality cult leaders who come under serious and honest questioning, Venkataraman identifies critics as villains and enemies. his only basis being a false perception of all as fate predetermined by Sathya Sai Baba! Critics include many former Sai Organisation leaders who write incisive articles such as Stephen Carthew , Terry Gallagher, Serguei Badaev, Reidun Priddy, Britt-Marie Andén, Conny Larsson, Timothy Conway. Other writers who, in Venkataraman’s amusing scheme of things are ‘preordained’, include Brian Steel, Jorge Reyesvera (Mexico), Sanjay Dadlani (UK), (Sweden), Alexandra Nagel (The Netherlands), Åsa Samsioe (Sweden), Dr. Dale Beyerstein (Canada) Paul Holbach (Italy), Basava Premanand, Dr. Nayendra Nayak (both India), and numerous other ex-devotees and known independent journalists such as Duncan Roads (Australia), Mick Brown, Dominic Kennedy, Tanya Datta (all UK). Then, of course, there were the revealing investigations of the former top favourite of Sai Baba and adored by many devotees, David Bailey (UK). He went to great lengths, and suffered great and despicable calumny from Sai devotees when he, with the support of his wife Faye, formerly a key figure in the Australian Sathya Sai Organization, self-sacrificially set about to find out and disseminate the facts. 15
One of Sathya Sai Baba’s favourite long-time devotees was Dr. Naresh Bhatia, former head of the blood bank at Sai Baba’s Superspecialty Hospital at Puttaparthi. He confirmed to the Daily Telegraph 16 that he had had sexual relations with Sai Baba for 15 or 16 years, and that he was aware that Sai Baba had had sexual relations with “many, many” of his students, and had brutally raped a minor whom Dr. Bhatia examined afterwards and referred to a physician in Bangalore. Strangely, he still believed Sai Baba to be God. Dr. Bhatia, a top favourite lecturer to students and foreigners, was banished and silenced, his previously acclaimed book ‘Dreams and Realities…’ being stopped directly by the US Sai publisher, Leela Press, on the order of the Organisation).
Let me now focus on the more recent events, because the Court case I referred to earlier is connected with these.
Now the Opposition Uses Powerful Media
Starting from somewhere around the late-nineties, began what might be called the fourth anti-Sai wave. Thanks to the internet, this time, it was global. In the past, the targets of attack were Swami’s Divinity, His knowledge of the Vedas and His miracles. This time, the detractors went to the extent of questioning Swami’s purity and character itself. During this period, I was always quite busy with my work, and I therefore heard very little about the non-stop chatter in the gossip circles.
Comment: Former devotees are not gossips but men and women from a large array of social, educational and professional backgrounds. Does Venkataraman think that his accusations would endure in a proper court of law, or among the educated public? Many leaders and devotees know the integrity of those who have left the Sai Organisation for ethical and moral reasons. Acts of concealment and falsification of such facts by Sai Baba and his leaders will forever condemn them.
From time to time, someone or the other would try to tell me something about this nonsense but I politely kept my distance since I neither had the time for this sort of thing, nor any patience to listen to falsehood.
Comment: It takes patience to listen to anything critical, and folly to deem a matter false before even listening.
The slander campaign started amongst a few disgruntled devotees, and soon spread to those eager for sleaze and scandal.
Comment: Here we have the same old hypocritical mantra “disgruntled” chanted about defectors - it is the standard widely-parroted Prashanthi misconception. Former devotees have no heart for sleaze or scandal, but only for proper investigation of the facts. Many have made detailed investigation of the facts but leaders who remain in the organization have not done so. In their hearts, most of them know the valid reasons why so many have now left Sai Baba.
In that sense, the anti-Sai campaign did not amount to much and could be ignored. However, encouraged by the prevailing social atmosphere, the people bent on vilifying Swami now got a toehold in important circles.
Comment: Defectors sought justifiable exposure of vast-scale fraudulence, and, on a historic dimension, the worst spiritual betrayal and moral hypocrisy. Using the stark testimony of Sai Baba’s own printed words, we have demonstrated dozens of Sai Baba’s patent lies, false promises, manipulation of individuals and the masses, and his tremendous betrayal of trust when he maintains that ‘Swami is pure’ and that he represents Truth. He has said that he has magnetic feet that the earth pulls so that he cannot walk (miraculously?). 17 That he never suffers from any illness (yet he is visibly senile). That – in his own words – he can “cure uncurable diseases”, and yet many Sai devotees know that his promises have proved false, though they often rationalize by saying e.g., “Swami must have meant cure him/her permanently by taking them away to Heaven”. That he has said he spat out a three-ton Siva lingam, which actually came from a towel on his lap, and rested lightly on a tray afterwards - captured for all to see on the BBC film!
He has stated that he will - going yet further than Krishna - lift a chain of mountains and fly through the air. Now, Venkataraman (supposedly a man of science?) defends all this claptrap. Such published statements by Sathya Sai Baba with his self-proclaimed omiscience ensure he will be a sectarian curiosity and a laughing stock.
First, there was a very negative article that appeared in The Times of London.
Comment: Actually, it was three articles, all appearing on August 27, 2001, which Venkataraman’s colleague, India’s Air Chief Marshal (Rtd) and others tried to get the Times of London not to publish: 1. ‘Suicide, sex and the guru’, 18 by Dominic Kennedy. 2. 'I sought peace and couldn't find it' by Michael Dynes in Durban and Dominic Kennedy. 3. ‘Three die after putting faith in guru’, by Dominic Kennedy.
After this came an anti-Swami Media advisory by the UNESCO, and to cap it all, there was the film by the BBC. I am sure you all know about these things and so I shall not spend much time on them. For the present, let me just mention the following:
· When the Times article appeared, I was shocked as were many others. Here was one of the leading newspapers of the world, and it was publishing negative material without even a casual inquiry about the accuracy of the content. Some of us wrote letters to the Editor, but, contrary to the usual practice of giving some space to those with differing opinions, none of these letters were published. So much for objectivity of the Press!
Comment: Unlike Radio Sai, The Times is a respected world press
leader, with high standards of source checking. Does Venkataraman really
believe that such a paper (and other respected media) would publish
“without even a casual inquiry about the accuracy …”? Why should the
Editor publish the Sai leaders’ attempted propaganda on behalf of an
organisation not willing to investigate disturbing allegations? The Times would not retract, despite the
initiative of the autocratic and unaccountable accountant, Indulal Shah
and retired Indian Air Chief Marshal N. C. Suri to influence this
newspaper. The Times and officials of important institutions
(UNESCO, the State Department, etc.) acted upon the allegations only
after strenuous investigation of credentials and documentation by former
· The fact that the Times refused to extend media courtesy due to us did not mean the end of the matter. One could not simply remain silent when wild allegations were being made and atrocious aspersions were being cast in so-called responsible quarters. That was when our respected Mr. Indulal Shah took the initiative and met the then Prime Minister Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee.
As a result of this meeting, a statement was prepared that was later signed by Mr. Vajpayee, the Prime Minister, Justice Bhagavathi, former Chief Justice of India, Justice Ranganath Mishra, another former Chief Justice of India, Mr. Shah made sure that the letter was seen by the top leaders of Europe, including the then Prime Minister of Britain.
Comment: However, Exposé personnel in London convinced the Foreign Office to warn the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. He then ignored the invitation from Sai Baba to visit him at Brindavan when Blair was visiting literally across the road at the new IT center there! See Blair’s letter on this matter! 19
The ‘respected’ Mr. Indulal Shah, chief functionary of the Sri Satya Sai World Trust went on record with The Hindu, 10-6-1993 as follows: “When press persons met, he said, ‘the matter is purely internal and we do not wish to have any law enforcement agency investigating into it.” In this statement, he perfectly reflected the despotic methods favoured by him and the Sathya Sai Organisation.
signed Barry Pittard and Robert Priddy
Note: Several paragraphs from Venkataraman’s article were omitted in the above since they required no comment.
Footnotes: active links to documentation, (click on any
12) The Sathya Sai Organisation’s total unaccountability until now
13) Vijayamma’s account of Sai Baba often beating her baby
14) On Sai Baba’s Vedic ignorance a mish-mash of misunderstandings
15) ‘The Findings’ by David Bailey one of the closest devotees who found out!
16) Dr. Naresh Bhatia’s testimony to The Daily Telegraph
17) Sai Baba’s preposterous predictions and claims
18) Article by Dominic Kennedy of ‘The Times’
19) Tony Blair’s letter concerning Sai Baba scan of the original
BBC’s webpage on Basava Premanand’s claims against Sai Baba
George Orwell’s 1984
Unresolved, quashed investigation of murders in Sai Baba's bedroom, 1993
See The International Sai Petition - and View ex-follower signatures
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