Recorded talk with V. K.Narasimhan on Sai Baba, colleges, blackmail and Vijay Prabhu
with digital text transcript below the handwritten notes
Date of conversation and notebook record: 1st January 1996
(continuation of long notes from marathon session with VKN at Prashanthi Nilayam)

Introduction: The private discussions as recorded in my 1996-7 notebook/diary and shown below (with transcripts) took place over two years after the 1993 murders - which I had quite easily rationalised (helped by disinformation from Dr. M. Goldstein and others), having refused to read any newspaper reports or hear anything negative about Sai Baba.

I was already aware that the staff at Prashanthi Nilayam was fighting constantly over position and money, and I had assumed that the murders were probably the result of such conflicts. I reasoned that Sathya Sai Baba, being the avatar, would not interfere in mere human struggles but allow karma to run its course. This I now consider totally mistaken, besides which it ignored the claims of Sathya Sai that he could intervene and change karma especially to protect his devotees. Well, he protected neither his favourite servitor, the valet Radhakrishnan, nor any of the others who were all still devotees, it so happened. But due to my faith in Sai Baba at the time, I could not see the obvious conclusions until considerably later.

Sai Baba claimed in his infamous discourse weeks after the event that he had known that the deaths would occur beforehand. According to a report sent out within the organisation by Michael Goldstein, Sathya Sai had travelled back to Puttaparthi from Whitefield in his car very unexpectedly, with the result that he arrived there the same day of the drastic nightly events - June 6th. Therefore it was all brushed aside as yet another divine mystery.
NOTE COMMENT FROM EILEEN WEED ('Divya') who was there in that period on Goldstein's report above: "Sathya Sai had travelled back to Puttaparthi from Whitefield in his car very unexpectedly, with the result that he arrived there the same day of the drastic nightly events - June 6th"
Nope, he had arrived on June 4th, as I wrote in a letter to my parents on the day he arrived (see my Letters, page 493). And it was not exactly unexpected - most years he would return to PN from Whitefield at the end of May or early June, in time for school starting (which was June 9th in 1993)." (In short, typical Goldstein misnformation).

If he really had grounds to suspect the attack in advance, it would have been a moral crime [at the least] not to report it to the police so as to try to prevent it. Had he even had grounds to suspect the attack, he would surely have done all he could to stop it, since it certainly did not do him or his reputation any good. History will never overlook such an event and what it implies.

TRANSCRIPT of scan below text

NARASIMHAN, The Ancient Mariner's tale:- 1/1/1996

1) The 4 persons killed were shot by two policemen in Swami's bedroom on the order of Swami's own brother, Janakiramiah. Narasimhan himself heard later a very senior (police?) government officer personally congratulating Janakiramiah on having done this because otherwise all sorts of thing could have come out. 'Dead men tell no tales' was the motive!! But the two who escaped (V.P. etc.) did tell tales and the press investigated too. Mr. Suri was found to have over 25 lakhs of rupees in his room. He claimed that he was only keeping them to give to Swami, which he did then too (no way out?). His accounts were found to be virtually non-existent.

The bedroom of Sai was ravaged, with knife cuts in the pillows and eiderdown. N. says the marauders thought that Swami was keeping money there!! Narasimhan insisted that Ramu's version of the murders was wrong as to place.

Indulal Shah had arranged for a Delhi accountant to audit the affairs of the Central Trust. But that man was corrupt and he made adjustments to cover up the cuts and kick-backs involved - doubtless for a cut of his own. When the Central Trust was scrutinized by the press, Swami eventually appointed a new auditor from Andhra Pradesh, a man who is fully above suspicion, according to N. This led to the removal of seven persons from positions of influence, such as two members of the Board of Directors of the Central Trust (Narayanen and Joga Rao). However, Swami had previously stated in forceful terms that the Central Trust were impeccable and never wasted a "naia paisa"!! This is a huge disappointment to realise!! Narasimhan was pressured by Swami a number of times to write to the press and support His refutation of mismanagement. Eventually Narasimhan yielded to the extent of writing that one should not lay such emphasis on eventual wrongdoings because the main work of Swami and the Trust was overwhelmingly positive. N. said that Sai had no idea how the press works - that it will not just publish anything it regards as a partisan "handout". This proved so as neither the Indian Express nor the Hindu took N.s article in. His son eventually published it for him in the Tribune (Chandigarth) where he is the editor!
N. says he wonders how it is that he has hung on for 15 years while Swami allows all this to go on without much intervention. He said that consideration to his naive, religious wife was crucial. He said Sai always exaggerates - often to a factor of 10 times (which is the case, proven, with the 70th Birthday numbers).

Comment: (2007) V.K. Narasimhan often said to me and others that he was like Colerige's "Ancient Mariner", with a harrowing tale to tell to which few would listen.
This note (left) was made during the hours or so after I left V.K. Narasimhan's flat in Prashanthi Nilayam (1st January 1996). I had recently been staying some weeks with Mr. V. Ramnath, Indian Administrative Service vigilance officer, in Bangalore, who had told me many details about the murder incident which were very perplexing. I felt I must ask VKN to clear up the many doubts these had at last raised in my mind as to what had actually happened. The questions I put to him were based on Ramnath's account (not then noted down in this connections), and VKN began by commenting on those, which he found to be inaccurate in various respects. For example, Ramnath had claimed that a close IAS officer friend had visited the scene the next day and studied the evidence. He reported that the four assailants had been caught by villagers and students, bound up with ropes, and beaten to death outside the temple, but the bodies had then been taken to the police station and the police had fired into them to create an illusion of having fought them in self defence!

VKN also told me he had not witnessed the episode take place but became aware of it when he awoke early next day. He heard nothing of the villagers having bound or killed the intruders, nor that they had been taken to the police station to be executed (as Ramnath's IAS friend had claimed). He told me that - when he arrived at the compound - there was still a long ladder up to the window of Sai Baba's bedroom which the police had used to break into the locked apartments when they shot those trapped inside.

However, Narasimhan had to rely on what he was told by servitors, and already there had been a conspiracy to blackmail the police and no doubt on how to account for the deaths in a way which would do least damage to Sai Baba's reputation. Therefore he may have been partly wrong, at least. The villagers could have bound and beaten the four who were later shot in Sai Baba's bedroom by the police (certainly not at the police station). There was clear evidence of rope ends in the photos of the murder scene taken by Mr. Padmanabhan and released to the press. The problem with this version, however, is that the four intruders were reportedly locked into the apartment from outside (the 'kitchen exit') by Sai Baba and had themselves then barred entrance to the whole apartment by themselves locking the interview room door from the inside. This action is not inconsistent with their main aim as stated by Vijay Prabhu, to cause a crisis which could be resolved only by removal of the very corrupt clique they claimed were in control of the ashram.

VKN then dropped what for me was a delayed-action bombshell... though I did not realise the damage it would cause until later, when I no longer could rationalize away the idea of non-involvement of Sai Baba. This was the account of blackmail of the police into executing the four trapped devotees by Sai Baba's younger brother and ashram officials.

TRANSCRIPT N. said Swami was upset during the assasination episode - but that he controlled this perfectly when he gave darshan that same morning, without interruption.
The charges against Vijay Prabhu and B. Ravindra were dropped due to the lack of evidence of conspiracy.
Swami's brother was able to order the killing of the 4 mauraders because he had so much evidence of corruption against the police officers that they had to obey his orders or lose their jobs and doubtless face long prison sentences. They had let the two Puttaparthi brothers who brutally murdered a Swiss lady devotee go free in return for knowing where the money they had burgled was. The police took the money themselves.
N. mentioned a Mr. Bhagawathi? Forget context
N. said Baba was accustomed to hand out rolls of banknotes from inside his rooms. That is why the room was ransacked and the bedding slashed.

Comment: Since Sathya Sai Baba was 'upset' perhaps really believed it was an assassination attempt on himself. However, an upset "Divine Avatar" is a contradiction in terms, according to Sai Baba's ever-repeated self-praise, that he is never moved either by praise or blame, pleasure or pain and so on ad infinitum.

That he was disturbed by such incidents is confirmed in several other accounts, including that of former Ex-VIP devotee Terry Gallagher who wrote: "I saw him drop vibuthi pellets before him on the veranda. I will never forget the look of anguish on Sai Baba's face when he came into the verandah of the Mandir early one morning and dropped two vibhuti pellets in front of me, as he attempted to accept a rose from a college student. There was no vibhuti materialisation during darshan that morning!"

Sai Baba was reportedly also very anxious to know from whom Gallagher had told about the sexual activities. After investigating the murder episode, Gallagher wrote: "Sai Baba was tense and agitated and his body language told us all, that what we had found out about him was the truth!"

Narasimhan stated elsewhere that Sai Baba often kept large sums of money in his apartment. There is more evidence that he did so. Even I have met people to whom he handed out Rs. 1000.- (a relative of Mr. Walia, once Prashanthi Nilayam's gardener). Various students have told that he gave them money. However, the incident cannot have simply been a mugging for money, for it was organized by persons whose motives were - as far as all the evidence goes - clearly other than pecuniary.

V.K. Narasimhan on murders in Sai Baba's bedroom 1

V.K. Narasimhan on murders in Sai Baba's bedroom 2

FINAL COMMENT: Sai Baba's 'guarantee', "Why fear when I am here?" proved a bogus claim. What Divine Avatar come to save humanity would allow butchery, carnage and executions in his own bedroom apartment? The old excuse, "Swami's ways are inscrutable and beyond the mere human mind to plumb" is the ultimate denial of all common sense and decency. To realise this, one need really not even know of his involvement in the blackmail and executions, which VKN was honest enough at least to tell me about.

See also scan and transcript of notes where Narasimhan made further statements about the murder episode and Sai Baba's failure to convince him that he was telling the truth.

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