Dear Robert:
I was asked some time ago to write a contribution to a volume celebrating
SB's forthcominmg birthday. First I was thinking of not writing but after
my last trip I decided to do so. The Indian flowery exaggerated style is
not for me, and I can only write what I think. Below I am sending you what
I have written. It is the last paragraph that bothers me, perhaps it is not
clear enough, perhaps some will find it offensive for Swami which is not
what I intend. Before I send it off, with or without the last paragraph,
may i have your opinion and suggestion? It would be much appreciated.
I am leaving Iceland for three weeks on Wednesday morning, so a quick
immediate reply would be much appreciated.
I forgot to tell you that our old friend the editor was sick when I was in
Puttaparti. He was in the hospiltal so was unable to see him.
From ???@??? Mon Apr 24 17:35:46 2000
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Erlendur Haraldsson, Ph. D.

(Contribution to a Commemorative Volume celebrating the 75th year of birth
of Sathya Sai Baba.)

Uncountable attempts have made to describe, define, and put to words, what
it is that has made millions of people (no one knows the correct figure)
turn to Sri Sathya Sai Baba for a variety of reasons; spiritual uplift, for
solace, or simply by curiosity about a personality of great fame, just to
mention a few.
For me, perhaps the most memorable, and also the shortest description, was
expressed by the late N. Kasturi in a conversation with me and my colleague
Dr. Karlis Osis. "Divine he is but also very human", was Kasturi's remark.
This was in 1973 during our first visit to Puttaparti. We were among those
who came to Puttaparti for reasons of curiosity, particularly interest in
knowing more about accounts that some deeply impressed firsthand witnesses
eagerly related to us about wonderous phenomena that they saw as signs of
Sai Baba's "omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence". "He knows
everything", we were told. For them he was an incarnation of the divine.
Our approach was different and in several meetings that followed Sai Baba
suggested that we as Western scientists do not necessarily have to think of
him in such terms, and added, that we too have an Atman or Christ within.
There were cultural differences and perhaps barriers between us but it was
his humane-ness that gave us a common ground; his warmth, his fascinating
multi-faceted personality, and his obvious skill in handling people.
Reports of miracles abounded around Sai Baba, and they were of various
kinds. The most visible was the production of objects, mostly occurring in
his presence, and also in distant places. Swami generally referred to them
as "small items". They were, however, our focus of interest. Gradually we
learnt of other less visible and more subtle kinds of miraculous phenomena.
Among them were what one might refer to as miracles of communication,
namely between him and his devotees or would-be devotees, often in the form
of dreams whose meaning became clear to the dreamer when he or she and Sai
Baba met.
Very memorable is the following dream reported to me by Krishna Gopal
Yachendra, the son of the late raja of Venkatagiri:

In 1950 Sai Baba accepted the invitation of my father to visit Venkatagiri
for the first time. It was a tradition when a famous man was invited that
some member of the family should accompany him from his home. My father
asked me. I, with no interest in babas, gods or swamis, refused to go. Not
long after falling asleep the following night I had a vivid dream of Sai
Baba. He gave me two mango fruits to eat. I relish mangos more than
anything else, and the mangoes in the dream tasted delicious. I woke up and
had a great urge to set out for Puttaparti immediately. I told no one about
the dream but I woke up my father and told him I was leaving.
We arrived in our car around noon the following day. Sai Baba was just
coming out of the old mandir. He said to me: "Bangaru, Bangaru, when you
thought of not coming to Puttaparti, these two mangoes made you run, did
they not", he asked me jokingly.
What better proof can anybody have of (Baba's) omnipresence? I had this
dream, which I had not told anyone, and then this terrible urge to go there
overtook me. And, to crown it all, this was the first question he asked me.

More dreams of this kind have been reported to me and up to the present
Sometimes these distant communications would take on more sensory forms.
Such was the incident reported to me by V. Srinivasan of Madras. He was on
a business trip to Finland and was living in a guesthouse of a Finnish
firm. Then he suddenly smelled a perfume typical of the incense that Sai
Baba uses at some of his functions. For him this was a sign of Sai Baba's
From our conversations with Sai Baba one sentence is particularly
memorable: "Making objects is easy but changing the heart is a difficult
This changing of the heart, in contrast to the "small items", seemed of
primary importance to Swami. In some instances this change may take the
form of a sudden vivid spiritual experience, in others it was a longer and
more subtle process of devotion and service.
My late colleague, Dr. Osis, and I were sitting in the prayer hall when I
noticed something unusual about the expression on his face that suddenly
changed as if he were experiencing something most pleasant and enjoyable.
The signs of the usual strain of having to sit uncomfortably over an hour
on the hard floor were no longer there. Something on his face reminded me
of an old Indian merchant from Singapore to whom I had talked a few days
earlier. He had been called in by Baba who asked him what he wanted.
"Anand", he answered. On the spot he experienced such ecstatic joy that
tears started to roll down his cheeks.
In the case of my colleague I could see no tears but when bhajans were over
I noticed that he wanted to be alone with his feelings and in silence. He
later told me:

"It started by me feeling a very distinct source of radiating warmth to the
left of my forehead. It seemed to work closer and closer until I was in
quite an altered state of consciousness. I closed my eyes and went with it.
It was like what Baba calls the sweetness, a really serene, permeating,
warm feeling."

Earlier Sai Baba had told us: "I am going to give you an experience". We
had expected something different but there was little doubt in my
colleague's mind that this might have been induced by Baba. A few days
later a similar experience came over me, at an unexpected time and
location. Both of us were very puzzled. We were left with the impression
that the workings of Sai takes many forms, ranging from the physical to the
spiritual, but having the common goal of making men and women better and
wiser, and closer to the True, the Good and the Beautiful.
It is the privilege of science to doubt, and question and play with
alternative explanations however non-common-sensical they may seem. We
wondered about some of the phenomena. Were they exclusively the workings of
Sathya Sai, or might we envision Him as a focus for a tremendous Force
which He in his everyday consciousness might not fathom at all times.
Kasturi's phrase, "Divine he is but also very human", then reached a new
meaning. Can it be, that it is through His humane-ness that the Sai Force
is able to reach us? Perhaps we can phrase Kasturi's words a bit
differently, "Divine he is but he is also one of us".
My cordial congratulations to Sathya Sai Baba on his birthday.


Erlendur Haraldson dr. phil.
Pr—fessor ’ s‡lfr¾Ýi
H‡sk—la êslands
Odda, 101 Reykjavik
S’mi 525-4528 eÝa 588-3181

Department of Psychology
University of Iceland
Oddi, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
Phone: +354-525-4528, Fax +354-552-6806


I have not been following the sceptics output in recent times and thanks
for bringing it to my attention.

At 04:08 PM 18-06-00 +0100, you wrote:
>Dear Erlendur,
> Perhaps you have been following what sceptics have put out
>on the Internet in recent months - especially disaffected Sai devotees of
>long experience and close contact with Baba and others in 'high places'?
>Only recently have I looked into this more closely and I must say that I am
>disturbed by it.
Who are the Sai devotees of long experience and people in high places?

I am wondering if you might have any useful comments - pro or con - about
>the reliability of their accounts. The two main subjects that seem to be
>cental are the homosexual/paedophile allegations (many, detailed and quite
>intellegently/credibly stated) and the new flurry of claims of sleight of
>hand (David Bailey's website & various others).
These rumours about his sexuality have been there for decades and are
nothing new, and at least some of them are quite likely to be real. I have
never dealt with them, my argument being that this is not the reason people
are attracted to him (there are many homosexuals and phaedophiles, and
there is nothing psychically or spirtiually particularly interesting about
them), so I have considered this part of his life off my target which has
primarily been claims of the miraculous.

The claims of sleight of hand are of greater concern to me and they seem to
have been coming in increasing quantity. Where is David Basiley's website?
Who is he?
>As to investigating other rosy accounts from the Sai 'authorities', I have
>been in touch with a retired Professor of Hydrology in AP State whose
>intelligent website I found on the net and who has since answered my e-mail
>questions about the famous Rayalaseema water project. It is quite a fiasco,
>apparently due to 1) Baba wanting the whole thing done in 8 months, which
>allowed no proper planning and meant that sub-contractors had to be engaged
>(all of whom it seems were corrupt and did not do their work properly, use
>proper materials etc. 2) the State gov't have sabotaged the project so as
>to be able to go on getting their share of the drought compensation from
>the central gov't - which money is then used mostly for the administrators
>and others who have their big cut before the actual people who suffer
>drouhgt gett a pittance in compensation.
My response: the usual Indian mess!

>As I am wrtiting another book on Sai Baba, with a much broader base of
>inquiry than previously, I am in a something of a quandary now... the
>allegations are so many and specific. Let me know how you are taking all
>this, if you will.

I would much like to know more about your writing.
Rather hurriedly this time,

Erlendur Haraldson dr. phil.
Pr—fessor ’ s‡lfr¾Ýi
H‡sk—la êslands
Odda, 101 Reykjavik
S’mi 525-4528 eÝa 588-3181

Department of Psychology
University of Iceland
Oddi, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
Phone: +354-525-4528, Fax +354-552-6806

From ???@??? Mon Jun 19 13:27:42 2000
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Dear Bob:
Thank you so much for sending me some news. I knew about the Padmanabhan volume. In fact had long talk about it with Padmanabhan and his associate on this project when I visited Puttaparti last March. He wanted to have my advice on some aspects of this work which I gave to them. I think this book must be very interesting and I look forward to see it. He promised to send
me a copy. Padmanabhan and his associate (a Bangali who teaches at SB's
college) are in a unique position to get at interesting facts because of
the proximity, the time they have for this work, and the culture that they
obviously understand so much better than we. What I wonder most about, is
how they deal with the negative approach to Baba that was so common in the
early days. I encouraged them to be scholarly and report things openly and
straight forward.

That the birthdate is different here, need not be so surprising, such dates
are so often wrong and made wrong for different reasons I have been told by
Ian Stevenson who has been studying children in India speaking of previous
life memories and need exact birthdates. The recording of authorities is
often not reliable, sometimes even deliberately falsified by parents, e. g.
so that the child can earlier enter into goverment or state service, there
can be different reasons. As a joke one can say that in India it is
difficult to find anything that there is not some confusion (or corruption)
about. Discrepancies like this do not come as a surprise to me.
I could say more things but let this be enough for now. Again, thanks for
your letter.

I wrote a contribution to his birthday volume. Did you? My theme: a
sentence Kasturi once told me and Karlis Osis, "divine he is but also very
human". My theory is that SB is the focus of a great force, or
consciousness which is responsible for so many miraculous phenomena (many
far away from SB) and which are associated with SB but SB is largely
ignorant about them. I think he may to a largely extent be a case of
overshadowing, which is sometimes close and sometimes distant. His basic
human personality may well be rather crude. For me he has always been a
rather queer mixture of very different even contrasting features. A
remarkable personality in so many ways.

From ???@??? Thu Oct 12 14:01:58 2000
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Dear Robert:
Nice to hear from you!

At 09:21 PM 28-06-01 +0100, you wrote:
> Just a line to keep in touch. I suppose that you are still
>interested to some extent in Sai Baba affairs, pro or con?

Both pro and con altough i have not been giving it much thought in the last
few weeks!
>You may have seen that many of the anti-Sai sites have been hacked into and
>closed down.

Was not aware of that.

It seems that the Sai computer hackers have managed to put
>the e-cat back into the bag. I cannot bring myself to think it is a 'Sai
I happen to be in contact with serious investigators in Australia
>(there is a network of people around the world) who are working on bringing
>things into the legal system, not least in India. Also, the Norwegian
>shipping magnate who is written about by Kasturi and several others - Alf
>Tideman-Johanessen - is soon getting involved. I wonder if you met him?

Never met him but heard about him. What does he have to say?

He had very much close contact with Baba (donated the helicopter used at 55th
>birthday etc.) and with all the then-VIPs, but left due to fradulence on
>Baba's behalf. I hear that he has written a 6-volume critical work about
>Sai Baba... but it is unpublished, of course.

Have you seen this manuscript?
>About 18 years ago when Baba really came into my and Reidun's life, we
>began to lose most of our friends from before then... they could not take
>it or just gradually fell away because of our lifestyle, conversation etc.
>Now again, after having made a number of friends in connection with Baba -
>both here in Oslo and world-wide, most of these have fallen away again...
>and not least Baba himself. In reality, even though he says 'take one step
>towards me and I will take 20... etc.', as soon as you cannot handle very
>reasonable - even unavoidable - doubts, he does nothing to clear them and
>just drops you (no more dreams etc.) and also holds unpleasantly
>threatening discourses. What sort of a "friend" is that, I ask? I can't
>help feeling it is just a fair-weather friend! The onus of it all is placed
>squarely on us.

Fortunately perhaps, SB never became of crucial importance in my life, just
very interesting and fascinating.

>Anyhow, I'm pleased to say that my mind has not been circling so much round
>the Sai Baba question these days - but when it does settle on it, I ask
>myself, 'what possible information, events, leelas etc. could remove the
>deep stain that the accusations have made?' That is the worst of it for

Which accusations do you mean, the sexual misbehaviour or accusation of fraud?

Dr Chari, an old friend and professor in Madras, very learned and clever
man, usd to say that SB was a split personality, and Kasturi's words
"Divine he is but also very human" seemed to be said out of longtime
experience and deep conviction. Maybe both give a clue, as also what
Krishna told me (see my book).

I can't see what conditions could regenerate my faith in Baba - or
>even really heartfelt appreciation of his positive works any more. If he
>were freely to open up everything for investigation, change his
>boasting/threatening tone, get his various facts straight etc., perhaps...
>But nothing like that will EVER happen, I feel in my bones.

Of course he will never change. In an odd sense his weakness may be his
strenght (here refering to his personality). Successful psychics are often
great boasters, primadonnas etc. Their unshaken faith in themselves may
give them their psychic strength.

>So the "great devotees of Sai Baba" - the Nepalese royal couple - seen in
>photos with Baba in Sanathana etc., were not saved by the avatar and his
>"Why Fear When I Am Here" from terrible deaths... a death of the kind of
>which Baba has said causes people to become demons in the after-life spirit
>world! (ref. Smt. Vijayakumari's book "Anyathya Saranam Nasthi": Asked, "Do
>demons really exist, Swami?" he replied "Yes! Those who committed suicide,
>those killed in accidents, those who met with an untimely death, all these
>will be roaming around like ghosts."). And at the hand of their own
>offspring with a machine gun! All because they wouldn't let him choose his
>bride... where was Baba's "guidance" in relating to offspring/parents, I

Very intertesting for you and a thing to study are the changes that you
have gone thru in your approach and assessment of SB.

If my "overshadowing" hypothesis about SB is true then his negative sides
may be pretty irrevelant. Not that I am convinced of that hypothesis but it
is one that may be worth considering.

The question of SB will never exhaust itself as an interesting topic. I
remember that the same was true for JB Rhine among those who knew him. I
recall that a man who knew him from long experience once said, "he is not a
man, he is a force in nature".

Thanks for dropping me a line. Do it again.

Best wishes,

Odda, 101 Reykjavik
S’mi 525-4528, 863-0034 eÝa 588-3181

Department of Psychology
University of Iceland
Oddi, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
Phone: +354-525-4528, mobile-GSM 863-0034
Fax +354-552-6806

From ???@??? Sun Jul 01 12:18:18 2001
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Dear Robert:
No end to writings on Sai Baba's sexual misfortunes. Homosexuals are
particularly drawn into "celebate" settings like ashrams, the Catholic
Church etc. We can look at this like a sad joke, if SB had been
heterosexual he would probably now be a poor 'farmer' in Puttaparti
toiling for his offspring and family, no ashram, Puttaparti would be as
unknown as any other poor village in the vast 'nowhere' of the Indian
countryside, hundreds of thousunds would not havce experienced the
religious uplift SB gave to them, the critics would have nothing to feel
upset or schocked about, etc. etc. etc.

I met Hislop first in the early 70s. He was particularly friendly to me and
Karlis and was a gentlemanly person. He must be quite old now if he is
still living. Is he still alive?

There can be many approaches to SB. One perhaps is like listening to a
musician. If he plays music beautifully so that we enjoy it, then we enjoy
it. Then the personality and all other actions of the musicians are really
irrelevant (as as his sexual orientation, his criminal acts, if there are
such, etv.) and we have no desire to know if it. Some may have a similar
approach to SB, they take him for what he does best, the rest they do not
care about or even want to know, for it seems irrevelant. Another approach
is "to hammer down that immoral bastard for all his sinful criminal acts",
whatever other sides there may be to his conduct and accomplicements.

These were some rambling thoughts that came to mind as I glanced thru some
of the stuff that you sent me.

Best wishes,















At 04:35 PM 23-10-01 +0200, you wrote:
> Dear Erlendur
>Hope all is going well at your end. Best wishes, Robert Attachment
>Converted: "c:\program files\eudora\attach\John Hislop letters (1).doc"
>Attachment Converted: "c:\program files\eudora\attach\Comments on
>Hislop-letters (1).doc" Attachment Converted: "c:\program
>files\eudora\attach\A bloody shambles (2).doc"

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Dearest Friends,

Thanks for your last message. We are in touch with devotees here in UK and
I am afraid that the David Bailey business is doing more damage. Our
yearly "looked forward" Crewe Retreat has been cancelled at the last minute.
That is after 15 years of regularly holding the retreat at the same
University Campus. I reckon that a large majority of Western devotees have
left the organisation. It is such a shame that some people will not see

Talking to some Indian devotees (who by the way are not affected at all -
hardly any of them have left) they tell us that it is common knowledge that
"Gurus" generally have some of those tendencies.

Frankly Sandra and myself still do not know what to make of all this. We
love Swami and our love for Him has not changed.

We are off to the States again, to the Academy to continue our studies of
Course in Miracles. We would love to tell you more about it.... Swami has
that it is the Advaita for the West - and it is !

Lots of love to you both,