Sathya Sai Baba and Wolf Messing

By: Serguei Badaev


Date: October 20, 2010

Sathya Sai Baba, who claims to be an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent Avatar, told his followers a story about a famous Russian psychic and stage performer Wolf Messing. It was on 31st August 2002 and below is a passage from that discourse. 

He toured the entire world. None questioned him about tickets or the money required to buy them.

Thus he roamed about for 10 years. Then he entered India. He boarded a train that was going from Cuddapah to Anantapur. In between, the train stopped for a while at Kamalapuram where I was studying at that time. In the classroom Ramesh and Suresh were the two boys sitting on my either side on a desk. Ramesh’s father was a Sirasthadar (Revenue Official) and their family was very rich. Every day we would go towards the railway station for a walk discussing some spiritual matters. In those days there were only one or two trains going via Kamalapuram.

The three of us sat on a stone bench on the railway platform. As we were happily talking to each other, Wolfe Messing saw us through the window of the moving train and at once opened the door and jumped out. In the process he lost his balance and fell flat on the platform. Ramesh and Suresh were concerned that he might have fractured his leg. I told them not to worry saying, “He is coming only to see Me. So, nothing has happened.” He was not carrying any luggage, not even a small bag. He came straight toward Me and sat in front of Me, at a distance of about ten feet, shedding tears of joy. Ramesh and Suresh watched this scene. In those days, the boys were afraid of the White people that they might take them away and put them in the military service.

Therefore, they wanted to take Me away from that place. As Messing was approaching Me, Ramesh ran to his house and requested his father to bring a jeep immediately and take Me away from the sight of a ‘White person’. Ramesh’s father at once brought a jeep, lifted Me up and put Me in the jeep. When he took Me to his house, Messing also followed the jeep and came up to the house of Ramesh. He sat there for a full day waiting for Me to come out of the house. In the meanwhile, whenever he would spot Me through the window, he would smile at Me, call Me and try to convey something to Me.

But nobody was willing to permit him to meet Me. At that time, Seshama Raju (Swami’s elder brother) was working as a teacher. A word was sent to him through a peon informing him of the position. Messing waited for three days and left the place and went somewhere by train. Before leaving, he wrote on the door of the house with a chalk piece thus: “The people who live in this house are very fortunate. They are able to keep the Divine child with them and serve Him. I am not that fortunate. Anyway, thanks.”

He finally reached his country, Russia. After twenty years, he again visited India. This time he brought a Kirlian camera, which was capable of taking photographs of the aura around human beings. Those who are of sathwic nature will have a resplendent white aura around their body.

Those who are rajasic in nature will have a red colour aura and those who are thamasic in nature will have a black colour aura around them. He came straight to Kamalapuram and started enquiring about the whereabouts of Raju. But, by that time, I was no longer Raju, the high school student. Raju became Sathya Sai Baba. People told him that Sathya Sai Baba would be residing either in Puttaparthi or in Bangalore. Therefore, he left Kamalapuram for Bangalore.

When he arrived at Bangalore, he found a huge congregation. On enquiry, he came to know that they were waiting for Sathya Sai Baba’s darshan. He too waited for My darshan. When I was moving amidst the congregation, he saw Me and thought to himself, “Yes, this is the same person whom I saw as a boy many years ago. He has the same aura with divine effulgence surrounding him.” He approached the Principal of the College. At that time Narendra was the Principal. He was a great scholar in Sanskrit and a very good teacher. His father Damodar was a Judge and his father-inlaw Sunder Rao was a reputed doctor. Both of them were present. He asked them to take him for Swami’s darshan. He told them, “You are not able to see the reality. Swami is verily God. You are seeing only His physical form and getting deluded. You will know the truth when you observe His aura.”

He wanted to observe Swami’s aura through the camera he had brought with him. In those days, I used to give darshan to the devotees at the end of nagarasan-kirtan. As I stood in the balcony giving darshan, he clicked his camera. He could see that the entire place was permeated with light.

When he showed the photograph, one could see great effulgence around My face. My entire body was engulfed in white light which symbolises purity. Nothing else was noticed. Narendra took that photograph and requested him to give the camera also as it was not available in India. He said he was prepared to give the photograph but not the camera as he had a lot of work to do with it. He expressed his desire to have an audience with Swami. In the evening a meeting was arranged in which he was to address the students. I also attended the meeting. He was not looking at the students or the teachers; he was trying to see where I was seated and what I was doing. When he spotted Me, he started coming towards Me, saying, “My dear, my dear”. He kept repeating, “You are My everything. I am Your instrument.” So far I have not revealed this to anyone. He stayed there for ten days. I taught him all that had to be taught. I told him that when God descended on earth, he would act like a human being. Daivam manusha rupena (God takes the form of man). He said that the same has been said even in their scriptures. He wrote a book and gave it to Gokak. Gokak was a scholar in English but had no knowledge of Russian. However, he kept the book with him.

After a few days, Messing left without informing anybody. One day Narendra received a letter from Russia. Messing wrote in the letter, “You are a teacher working for God. How fortunate you are!” He requested Narendra to keep him informed about the happenings related to Swami. 

The full text of Sathya Sai Baba's discourse is here:

As Sathya Sai Baba is an all-knowing Avatar for his followers, he cannot make any mistakes by definition and moreover he cannot cheat his devotees.

This article analyzes the plausibility of this story.

(1) Sathya Sai Baba mentions that Messing traveled all over the world for 10 years with no money in his pocket for tickets, food and clothes. That sounds really wild and absurd. In his biography Messing mentions only about some world tours with his impresario.

(2) The version of 2002 story about Messing is essentially different from a previous story about the same event told by Sathya Sai Baba on 22nd November 1980. The full text is here:

In the version of 1980 the meeting was in 1937. However, according to the version of 2002 Messing set off in 1909 and after 10 years of traveling he must have been in India in 1919. However, the only mention of India in Messing's biography refers to 1927, when Messing  allegedly met Gandhi in his ashram.

According to the version of 1980 Messing did not jump out of the train risking his life but just stood on the platform waiting for his train. Young Sathya Sai Baba was walking past the railway station that time with a group of other boys but was not sitting on a station bench chatting with Ramesh and Suresh. After the meeting Messing stayed at the station but did not spend three days awaiting darshan outside the house where young Sathya Sai Baba was living, and so on. These discrepancies demonstrate that this story is rather a figment of the imagination than a story about real facts.

It is worthy to note that it was Brian Steel who was the first to report these discrepancies in the two versions ( He added that according to the school register Sathya Sai Baba went to school in Kamalapuram in period from June 1940 till June 1941. He just could not be there in 1937.

(3) If we assume that Messing was in India in 1937, it must be clear that he was not able to return to 'his country, Russia'. Messing was born in Poland and lived there until the invasion of Poland by Germany in 1939 when he emigrated to the USSR.

(4) The visit of Messing to India in 20 years after his first meeting with Sathya Sai Baba, that is in 1957 (1937+20) seems absolutely wild and unrealistic. That was the time of the 'iron curtain' and no one had a chance to cross the border of the USSR except as a member of an official delegation but never alone. In any case, Messing was not able to meet the students and the Principal of the Sathya Sai Baba College in Bangalore in 1957 because Sathya Sai Baba's ashram was opened in Bangalore only in 1964 and the College was open only in 1969, five years before Messing died in 1974.

(5) There is not a special Kirlian camera. There is a special method of taking photographs by placing living as well as non-living objects into high voltage electric field and registering small corona discharges on the photographic plate or film. It cannot be an aura photography because those discharges are registered around non-living things as well. For more details see Kirlian photography in Wikipedia. So the Kirlian technique is contact photography, in which the subject is in direct contact with a film. You cannot use this technique to take a photo of a person when he is in a distance, for example, on a balcony. In addition, there is not any mention in the biography of Messing that he conducted researches using the Kirlian technique.

(6) It seems very unlikely that Messing was able to communicate with Sathya Sai Baba directly. Apparently, he knew only Polish and Russian and did not know English. Nor did Sathya Sai Baba in 1937 when he was allegedly only 11 years old. It is quite certain also that Messing did not know Telugu, the native language of Sathya Sai Baba.

An important evidence in favour of Sathya Sai Baba's version of Messing's visit to India could be some copies of Messing's letters addressed to the College Principal Narendra
or  his and Professor Gokak's  testimonies. In the absence of any definite evidence one has to rely only on Sathya Sai Baba's words.

Why did Sathya Sai Baba decided to tell the story about Messing after keeping silent for so long? Firstly, although Messing calls himself in his biography an atheist, Sathya Sai Baba qualifies him as an enlightened and realised person. So the the supposed report by Messing about the claimed divine nature of young Sathya Sai Baba and Messing's love for him is only an example and a proof for his followers. Secondly, that might be a sort of a compliment to Russia and Russian followers to encourage their devotion. Thirdly, conveying this story in many years  after Messing's death Sathya Sai Baba had no risk at all that any Russians would contact Messing to check this information.  

Recent research done by a famous Russian lawyer Nicolai Kitaev sheds new light onto the real biography of Wolf Messing and makes the whole story told by Sathya Sai Baba even more unlikely. His investigation included numerous inquiries to the national archives of Poland, Germany and Russia. The results were published in Russian in 2008 (see Russian text  pp. 102-144)

In brief, the results are as follows:

·        Apparently, Wolf Messing did not possess any psychic abilities. All that he demonstrated during his so called psychological performances can be explained as the use of  the ideomotor effect, which is high sensitivity to the slightest muscular movements of an inductor person, the changes of their voice and breath.   

·        Messing could not meet Einstein in his flat in Vienna in 1915 as Messing told us in his biography, because Einstein never had a flat in Vienna and did not visit Vienna from 1913 till 1925. 

·        Apparently, Messing was not a famous person in Poland before World War II and German authorities never promised 200 000 marks for his head because of his public prediction of Hitler's defeat in the East. Polish and German archives not only do not support this story, they even do not have any documents which mention Messing. 

·        Analysis of the archive documents of the USSR where all the Stalin meetings with visitors were registered has not discovered any mention of Messing. 

·        A famous story from the Messing's biography when he got a huge sum of money from a bank using hypnosis does not correspond in any way to a real procedure of that sort of bank transactions. It makes us think that the whole story is a fiction.   

·        It seems that Messing never visited any countries outside Poland and Russia. At least there is no real evidence to that except Messing's own words.

·        The so called biography of Messing is rather a fiction than a documentary and is a result of a joint venture of Wolf Messing and Mikhail Khvastunov, a department head in the Russian newspaper "Komsomolskaya Pravda"

So, Messing's biography turned out to be a fiction and Messing turned out to be a fictitious psychic. So, much of the Sathya Sai Baba's story about his meeting with Messing is simply false.

Why would a self-proclaimed Avatar have to make up fictitious stories?   

 See also the authoratative article on Wolf Messing by Alexandra Nagel

Also Wolf Messing – a Lesson for Wikipediacrats