Cures can sometimes depend very much on 'faith', a subjective psychological condition. often combined with positive self-suggestion. Regeneration both psychic and physical can occur. Faith healing is widely reported by millions of people, from thousands of 'saints' and persons of all faiths all over the world. It has recently become a regular 'business' in so-called
New Age connections, and they include many who claim to be aided by the Indian self-professed Divine Master, Sathya
Sai Baba. Despite this, he always has strongly denied that any healer has any power of spiritual strength from him!
For his own part, he makes many and extremely sensational claims of having healed countless people, and even resurrected people from death. He also makes very clear that in most case faith
of some kind by the sufferer plays a large part in the result.
Claims of Sai Baba healing miracles: Many devoted followers report healing by Sai Baba - mostly in dreams, visions, some in interviews – or even where he did not figure in the matter in any way at all. Blind believers tend to attribute all good things that happen to them to Sai Baba’s influence. Even bad things are mentally contorted into ‘blessings from which to learn’! When examined, most of these reports are too vague to assess, while faith and a zealous imagination evidently have filled in any gaps in the explanation or logic. The super-heated atmosphere of belief in ‘incredible’ events around Sai Baba itself generates and intensifies ideas, language and discourages all sober judgement. This 'faithfulness' is even held to be an advantage. One of Sai Baba’s closest associates over two decades, V.K. Narasimhan, told me definitively that he had not seen a single healing in all the years he had been almost daily in the presence of Sai Baba! Further, he never wrote a word to support claims of healing, and in this he was following Sai Baba's instruction.
The hagiography on Sathya Sai Baba's 'miraculous' cures is extensive. While no scientific control study has so far been made of any of the claims of miraculous healing from him, whether spontaneously or in answer to prayers, ingestion of vibuthi (holy ash) or other 'mystical' remedies, many of his followers are adamantly convinced that he has healed them - or their relatives, friends and acquaintances - by miraculous means. Sathya Sai Baba is widely known to have rejected any kind of scientific overview or controlled experiments of his supposed 'miracles'. He rejects scientists and their methods on the grounds that his activities are too holy and 'divinely inscrutable'. This is not to say that he, like thousands of others of reported 'healers', cannot have been involved in a healing process through faith, perhaps as a catalytic agent on whom one projects prayer, faith and hope. On the other hand, many reports have come from persons who have sacrificed and prayed to Sathya Sai Baba constantly for themselves or for another, but all of whom have only got worse, though these are quite hard to come by as they are very seldom published by devotees! Of course, the handy theory of past bad karma is trundled out to explain away the possibility of a cure in this or that persons' instance. All evidence that Sathya Sai Baba does not heal, does not keep his word, or is not able to heal people of himself has to be refuted by the 'true believer', whose agenda is totally to block out all experience that may lead to another explanation or in any way be interpreted to reduce their hard-held belief that Sathya Sai Baba is a divine healer and God himself. Even devotees who feel the need to keep up a front despite themselves not having been healed according to Sathya Sai Baba's promise will convince themselves that they have been helped... and even lie about this, such as Mrs. Phyllis Krystal did about the headaches she claimed Sai Baba cured her of (after being asked point blank in public at the 1990 Sai Baba conference in Hamburg). However, she was still suffering from them for years afterwards, as Lucas Ralli (with whom she stayed when in London) informed me most definitively and to my great surprise.
I have shown from his own discourses how Sathya Sai Baba teaches many mere superstitions, falsehoods or speculatively imaginative half-truths. Further, his abysmal level of his ignorance of basic physics, astronomy, and most non-Hindu religion and history has been demonstrated to the full on exposé websites. Nonetheless, he has said intelligent things (and nowadays at least such is an exception rather than a rule). He may be right in claiming that all 'healing' comes only from within, from the faith of the person who gets cured (Conversations with Sathya Sai Baba - by Dr. John Hislop. page 121, later edition). But he cannot say this of all cures, because medicine is behind the vastest number of known cures of diseases, illnesses, accidents and so forth, which he admits too - and for which purpose he instigated the building of two hospitals with major funds contributed by devotees. He has also said that a doctor's kind approach has the greatest healing effect Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 26, p 47), which - if correct - shows that healing is not only 'from within' or 'from God'.
All the talk about the healing power of 'Sai Baba vibuthi' and other substances he hands out may cause belief in healing, and this may help... but the actual curative/medicinal properties are zero, according to analyses of this vibuthi made in laboratories here and there. The apparent cure due to this substance (actually the ash from burning such materials as cow dung, rice husks or sandal wood etc.) is often called the 'placebo effect' in medical research. Another term used is 'spontaneous regeneration', which refers to unknown aspects of the body's self-regenerative powers. The 'placebo effect' is obviously a psychic phenomenon and remains largely (but not entirely) unexplained.... but it is very common.
As light relief: While I was the leader of the Sathya Sai Organization in Norway I was contacted by persons seeking healing or other boons - not least because I had been given a “green diamond ring” by Sai Baba (actually found eventually to be a very cheap synthetic stone with tinfoil behind it to enhance its brilliance). One young man wanted me to heal him by using the Sai ring to remove all his silver-mercury amalgam dental fillings (miraculously and cost free), which were supposedly poisoning him. (Please note, I did not try!) I also received a letter requesting supernatural aid or higher intervention with Sai Baba from a person in a psychiatric institution. More tragically, and from at least five persons to date, persons suffering from alleged intense psychic invasions by Sai Baba, reportedly in demonic form, begged me for help and advice. Unfortunately, I was unable to help out much, except with my experiential knowledge of psychic sufferers and kind words. I was also confronted now and again by persons who insisted that Sai Baba had given special secret blessings to them in visions or dreams to run the Sai centre, to change the Sathya Sai organizational’ rules (which were strict and demanding written requirements), or otherwise to abet them in getting other privileges they fancied.
Sathya Sai Baba boasts he looks after all his devotees most carefully: In addition to his public proclamations about his supreme care for his followers, Sathya Sai Baba makes many personal promises to people in private interviews. Such are reported in many books and articles about him. One standard sentence he uses is, "I will look after everything", another is, "I give you a long life, healthy life, happy life!". (Unasked, he made both of these 'promises to me'- yet I can hardly be said to have a healthy life since then, having still suffered chronic back and neck problems that made me work disabled from my 50th year). Other assurances he gives are, "I shall protect you"; "I will build an iron wall around you!" and "I give you liberation, you will not have to take on another body!"
long to believe that these 'divine assurances' are always fulfilled.
Alas, they seldom do, if ever! Even the large and amateurish 'literature'
praising Sai Baba and telling the most incredible stories contain occasional
reference to big letdowns of this kind, but it is quite obvious that
many instances are not talked about in these books, which are always
strongly self-censored. Another matter is when one talks freely to people,
then one hears of all the failures, uncured visitors, disappointed sufferers.
V.K. Narasimhan startled and shocked me once by saying that he had never
seen a single genuine cure by Sathya Sai Baba in all the years he had been living
close to him! Narasimhan himself was told his eye was cured with vibuthi
'made' on the spot for him, but within two days he has lost it completely!
I knew close devotees of many years of devoted service who died with dreadful sufferings. Ashram head Y.V. Kutumb Rao (massive incurable cancer, died 29/3/1989), N. Kasturi (6 weeks intense lung pain), V.K. Narasimhan (water on lungs & long choking death), two US ladies killed outright and one young American (Michael Oliver) crushed by falling dome in Eternal Heritage Museum in 1992, with 11 hours hell in taxi to Bangalore with 9 fractures and broken cranium before dying en route). One could make a very long list of Sai devotees who have been let down by Sathya Sai Baba utterly, it would include Dr. John Hislop who died of brain cancer, Mrs. Joy Thomas who – despite SB’s assurance of no cancer – died of cancer after being flown back to US from the Sai Super Specialty Hospital, where she had been denied blood transfusion by a prominent Sai doctor (reportedly a Dr. Singh). His official biographer and close devotee through decades, N. Kasturi, suffered 6 weeks intense lung pain before dying,. Kasturi's replacement, famous newspaper editor V.K. Narasimhan developed water on lungs and suffered a long choking death. My friend Michael Oliver, a young American, and his two friends were crushed by falling dome in Eternal Heritage Museum in 1992, and Michael suffered 11 hours hell in taxi to Bangalore with 9 fractures and broken cranium before tearing off his life support system. As to divine protection, what of the King and Queen of Nepal - close devotees who visited SB - and were a year or so shot down by their son in an horrific bloodbath. Favourite US devotee, Dr. John Hislop died of incurable cancer & many dozens of equally or more awful deaths among close servitors and devotees. How can one rationalize as 'His Grace' the horror gone through which the King and Queen of Nepal - close devotees who visited Sathya Sai Baba? Both shot down and killed by their son along with others in a regular bloodbath! I knew several other Sai devotees who died terrible deaths among Sai devotees, even within the group I led.
Last, but not least, six young men who had devoted their lives to Sai Baba were killed in his rooms, four of them shot down in his bedroom apartment in cold blood while begging for their lives. Sai Baba called the police to the scene and was involved in the long negotiations before the police acted. Whatever his exact role was (one may guess how the all-powerful guru in his private township must be implicated), the very fact that six of his close servitors and ex-students lost their lives in this slaughterhouse shows just how much his guarantees of protection are actually worth!
incidents of Sathya Sai Baba's claims and contrary results
Some Scandinavian friends told us about a Dane who had recently died at Prashanthi Nilayam when they were present. He had contracted diarrhea and, rather than seek help or medicines, determined to "surrender himself to Swami", whereby he lay alone in his room outside the ashram of 3 or 4 days, regarding his illness as some form of 'divine cleansing' (a common superstition and/or pretension among Sathya Sai Baba devotees). Being ignorant of the tropics and the need to drink much water and take dietary supplements, his body dried out and he died.
Another Dane went to Sai Baba with a group from his country in the hope of healing by Sai Baba of a tumour on the brain. The poor man was told by SB in an interview a friend of ours attended that he would recover! This from the supposed avatar whose claims his words always come true! For, a few days later the man died in his room. Two Scandinavian friends of ours attended the cremation of his body on the Chitravati sands. The rationalizations we heard about this were many, such as - 'it was better he believed in Sai for he lost his fear of dying because of those words...' But the fact is, Sai Baba told an untruth, which he has stated vehemently on several occasions is NEVER justifiable.
As to hereditary illnesses, serious conditions cannot be cured. Sai Baba is not known to have cured such cases, such as hereditary brain deficiency like Mongolism. There was one instance of a child of a very prominent devotee, Mrs. Craxi (wife of Antonio Craxi, brother of the former Prime Minister of Italy). It had a hereditary brsain deficiency, which SaiBaba told her he would cure. However, the child died. Mrs. Craxxi, though apparently past the normal age of child-bearing, gave birth to another child who both parents claimed to have 'recognised' by a number of very idosyncratic traits as being a 'healthy version' of the one they had lost. One should add, death is not exactly a cure, so Sai Baba was most misleading. Secondly, since these two persons were extremely devoted and uncritical believers in Sai Baba's godhood, it would not be dificult for them to find traits similar to the lost child... all small children have very many common reactions and traits, and a powerful emotional need to believe their child had returned can work wonders on the imagination.
Another incident of belief that a cure came via a Sai miracle
The above kind of case is all too common. When in Kodaikanal in 1994, a young American lady friend of ours was sharing a room with an Indian devotee from Honolulu who was throwing up blood and complaining mightily of her pains. Even vibhuti would not stay down! But she would "trust only in Swami" and would not see a doctor, though begged to do so for many days on end by her often distraught roommate, our lady friend. Since no one else seemed to be available or to care about this lady, I agreed to visit her and try my luck at getting her into medical care - if only to help our lady friend. The sufferer agreed with her room mate to speak to me. So I went to her bedside and the first thing I told her was I was not a doctor, but a friend of her concerned room mate. She told me all about her condition and how she had decided to put her faith wholly in 'svami'. I said O.K.'d but still thought she could at least get a diagnosis, as this was not necessarily against having faith. Then she would be able to say, at least, from what she was cured 'when' this eventually came about. I was wearing a large Sathya Sai Baba green ring, She looked at this - obviously recognizing it was a Sai Baba ring - and agreed immediately, later saying that I has been "sent by Swami".
Upon examination at the local health centre, it soon turned out she had a ruptured diaphragm (which separate the lungs from the lower abdomen), It could not be treated in Kodaikanal, therefore, she accompanied us when we flew back to Bangalore shortly thereafter. There she was friends with a young lady doctor. They were able to operate in the nick of time and save her life, and they claimed that they were the only facility in South India which could carry out such an operation! The lady felt it was 'all svami's doing'! This is another and fairly typical case of 'believe what you will'. I was certainly given no indication whatever by Sathya Sai Baba, but went of my own free will because I wanted to help out. Later, I ran across the lady at Brindavan ashram and she was full of thanks to me and said I was 'an instrument of svami' etc. I was and remain unconvinced... surely almost anyone would have done the same if they had been faced with the same situation.
In the absence of any means scientifically to examine this incident or others like it, one can interpret it quite freely as an example of 'miraculous intervention' or a commonplace instance of ordinary care. That will probably depend on what one wishes to believe, but to a lesser extent in the case of a skeptical approach than one wishing to see 'divine intervention'. The great majority of 'healing miracles' I have heard related about Sathya Sai Baba are no more accessible to controlled observation or well-founded scientific reasoning than this instance... it will depend on how strong are the belief agendas of interpreters, how independent and truly 'disinterested' they are.
of conflicting explanations:
A person in New Zealand wrote in the ExBaba Guestbook in 2005 the following:
"In addition to the effects of organized religion, prayer-like consciousness also has been shown to exert an influence in numerous scientific studies. Although the effects of organized religion can be explained through readily understandable mechanisms, the effects of prayer cannot. After reviewing the literature, Dr. Daniel Benor (Complementary Medical Research 4:1, 1990) found 131 controlled studies involving prayer or spiritual healing. Of these, 77 showed statistically significant results."
One claim made was:- "i was dying in hospital recently . my blood pressure was falling
almost to zero . i had had extensive heart surgery. the family had been
called in to say goodbye. saibaba instantly stopped the blood presure
fall. i got better and was discharched 3 weeks later. i have been a
devotee for some years .he looks after his own .thanks sai."
To this one can add that all experience points to the belief that Baba himself was involved as most likely being wish fulfillment. However, the mind can become very unstable in such a perceived crisis - big changes in blood pressure often caused by anxiety or faith, a very well-known medical fact. The endorphins that are released due to various psychic causes can alter pain to pleasure just as can morphine! Besides, no one knows that they were actually 'dying', the proof is only when they are dead! That "Sai looks after his own" is self-aggrandising delusion! Nearly every one of his closest servitors died deaths in great pain and without relief. Close devotees of many years of devoted service died with dreadful sufferings.
Headaches which will not go away. Mrs. Phyllis Krystal, an elderly lady devotee for decades from the US, who has written about some of her experiences of Sathya Sai Baba has been ill constantly with terrible chronic headaches, which Sathya Sai Baba diagnosed as due to five different kinds of headache (see 'The Ultimate Experience'- publ. Samuel Weiser Inc.). She went through some kind of intensification of her symptoms while with Sathya Sai Baba, which she interpreted as being a part of the treatment in removing one or more of these several headaches. She was a speaker at the 1992 Sathya Sai European Conference in Hamburg and was asked point blank from the audience whether Sathya Sai Baba had now cured her of all her headaches. She hesitated for some time, and eventually said that he had. People clapped! However, later I was in London talking to Lucas Ralli, (Central Coordinator for UK & Ireland until unceremoniously kicked out) and a close friend of Mrs. Krystal, who stayed with him and his wife sometime during a UK visit. He came to mention that she was in constant need of pain killers for her headaches and I was taken aback. So I asked if she had not been cured, but he confirmed that she still suffered greatly from this. This incident typifies the kind of thinking one meets among Sai devotees. Perhaps a kind of self-deceit to protect one's faith, partly a desire not to admit doubts to oneself or others and thereby publicly embarrass the guru, whose promises are supposed to be as cast in iron and whose healings are infallible etc. Incidentally, in character with this, Mrs. Krystal has also known for decades full well about the sexual molestation of young men by her guru, but she covers it up and so untruthfully defends it by her silence!
My own experience of once supposed healing by Sai Baba
Since 1981 I had been suffering from a very troublesome neck and back problem – due to a spinal misalignment condition from a relatively minor accident - spinal subluxations caused by a seemingly minor sports accident I had in my boyhood and other later minor injuries later which cumulatively cause tendon and muscular stresses. I experienced what seemed to be help from Sai Baba (in dreams) prior to my first visit, as I have written up in my book ‘Source of the Dream’. Some physical improvement occurred before I first went to visit Sathya Sai Baba in 1984. I had some dreams of him operating on me etc. which I had could, of course, have been generated through my concentration on him and the desire that I might be able to stand the journey to India to visit him, which I subsequently felt confident I could manage. During that first visit he gave me some 'holy ash' (vibuthi - seemingly 'materialized' by him waving his hand) and my condition improved gradually. However, I now see that that was mostly due to other factors than the psychic boost of getting his attention, especially the climate change, the stretching of unused muscles by sitting cross-legged and much more physical movement generally. Further, the condition soon returned when I was back from India to the colder North. Twenty-five years on and my back problems have not worsened, and even changed for the better in periods. There is no evidence to show that I was helped in any substantial way over my spinal problems by Sathya Sai Baba, unless as a subjective 'catalyst' for my psyche then. However, at the time I wanted to believe in him and that I was being cured slowly, so I put it down to him. Like many other followers, I hoped and fondly imagined that Sathya Sai Baba was taking care of my health, as he said he would to my wife. However, I can in retrospect see that this was not the case. The human psyche and body are simply capable of many very remarkable means of physical recovery of health.
The showpiece 'take up they bed and walk' ploy on Joy Thomas
According to what the US devotee, Joy Thomas, wrote in one of her many rambling books (Life is a Challenge... p. 157f), Sathya Sai Baba seemed to 'cure' her temporarily or partially of her painful walking disability when - because of his making her stand and walk - she had to leave her wheelchair and climb a few steps up to the Kodaikanal interview room. Such reserves of energy and physical strength in special situations are well known in the medical literature... a large release of endorphins in the system stimulate one's psyche greatly and can even remove all feelings of pain. However, as she made clear, she soon needed her wheelchair again. The temporary ability to walk and her sudden lift of spirits and confidence was obviously due to her getting full attention of the one she believed to be God Incarnate (after being ignored for a long time) . The Sai Seva Dal would not give her back her wheelchair but made her walk to her waiting car! Thereafter everyone could observe that she remained tied to her wheelchair until her last days. At the end, the poor lady bled to death without due treatment while under the care of of Sathya Sai Baba's medical doctors in his hospital. (A blessing in the eyes of the devoted, but not in that of certain others). The death of Joy Thomas showed the deviousness of Sathya Sai Baba and the likely dangers of trusting his word. (see here)
More incidents of bogus healings in public
Another person met often while I was at the ashram, a charming German man called Hans Seidemann, also had to struggle out of his wheelchair in a similar way to Joy Thomas because Sathya Sai Baba wanted him to walk, whereupon his wheelchair was then spirited away without him being asked by Seva Dals. It had already been given to the pool for other needy invalids and -because he was not cured and could not live without it - he had a real struggle to get it back from the ashram authorities. I knew him very well and we spent many times together. He had been suffering from motor neurone disease for a year or more and he died a year or so later.
Sathya Sai Baba is keen on making us believe he too can do the "take up thy bed and walk" act. I witnessed in 1987 how much the same was done to a crippled Venezuelan lady carried about by her husband. Sathya Sai Baba made her stagger from the interview room, to the huge amazement of all who had seen her carried in. She went on forcing herself to stagger around (literally stagger!) as much as she could for some time after this, and it looked extremely painful. Sathya Sai Baba had promised she would be fully cured, but no more was heard of her after she left the ashram. V.K. Narasimhan, a seasoned reporter and journalist, told me he had watched such things for two decades but never seen anyone really cured by Sathya Sai Baba, and I could not convince him otherwise! (However, please note that I am still much inclined to believe in a number of dramatic healings connected to Sathya Sai Baba... it is of course well-known that such things also occur in many other connections and with many other persons as foci or 'psycho-mental catalysts' in the mind of the sufferer)
Read of failed cancer cures and bogus claims by Sai Baba of 'Cancer Cancelled'
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