Sathya Sai Baba was reported by his devotee Dr. S. Bhagavantam (the 'father of India's atomic bomb') as having 'materialized' a Seiko watch which item was identified (serial number) and followed up by various critics. The most prominent of these were Abraham Kovoor, Basava Premanand and the Canadian Professor Dale Beyerstein. The first article in by Premanand, the second by A. Kovoor and then e-mail correspondence between professors Dale Beyerstein and Erlendur Haraldsson
These mails were preserved by Gerald_Huber@r.maus.de - University of Regensburg and are found at http://www.indian-skeptic.org/html/is_cont.htm
DR. S. BHAGAVANTAM AND SEIKO WATCH MIRACLE
by Basava Premanand
In Dr. Dale Beyerstein's letter of 7-3-1988 to Dr. Erlendur Haraldsson, he mentioned about the Seiko watch materialization as researched by Sam Dalal, Magician, Calcutta.
Dr. Haraldsson in his letter dated 21-10-1988 said that the story is only a hearsay and there seem to be many editions of it and one cannot use these unverified second hand stories as argument for anything until they have been verified.
In his reply dated 6-4-1988 Dr. Haraldsson said that he had not heard about Sam Dalal and that there had been a few of them.
The story of materialization of a seiko watch was originally authored by Dr. S.Bhagavantam in 1973 and published in a Malayalam weekly titled "Malyalanadu". The editor S.K.Nair and his wife were Sai Baba devotees and to neutralise the publicity got by Abraham Kovoor, S.K.Nair started a debate in his weekly on the spiritual powers of Satya Sai Baba. He first published Kovoor's article explaining that Satya Sai Baba is a hoax and then published a series of articles by Sai Baba devotees, which included a High Court Judge and other well known personalities like Dr. Bhagawantam.
Based on the story of the Seiko watch authored by Dr. Bhagawantam, Kovoor started investigation by first writing to Dr. Bhagavantam to give him the name and address of the Japanese. And when Bhagavantam kept silent he wrote to the Japanese Embassy and got the address of the manufacturers of Seiko watches and wrote to the President, Shoji Hattori. In his reply he disclaimed any knowledge of Satya Sai baba.
A copy of this letter was sent to Bhagawantam by Kovoor asked him to inform him the correct name and address of the person if Mr. Shoji Hattori was not the person concerned with his story. Again Dr. Bhagawantam kept silent.
His investigation was published by innumerous newspapers and journals, but still Dr. Bhagawantam was keeping silent. Only when the report was published by Times of India dated 12-9-1976 titled "of Scientists and Godmen" he had no other go except to open his mouth, and in the Open Forum of Times of India dated 28-11-1976 his signed reply was published.
In the letter Dr. Bhagawantam says that he had no knowledge of Kovoor's letters to him and he did not think it worthwhile making any public statement about it.
His reply is meaningless when he says that he doe snot know malayalam and so how he could write articles in malayalam weekly.
He says that he was informed by one of his Kerala friend's about the article and his silence without taking any action against the Editor is surprising. Moreover the Editor and his wife were well known Sai Baba devotees owning big cashew factories.
If one takes each and every story published about Satya Sai Baba's miracles, until it is proved false, Satya Sai Baba and his inner circle members accept the authorship of the stories and once they are proved false, they disown them. That is what happened to Sai Krishna who was exposed by Dr. Narasimhaiah's Miracle Investigation Committee.
Dr. Bhagawantam is dead now. Most of Sai Baba's inner circle members have died of heart attack. The rural sorcerers to which group Sai Baba had belonged in his youth, murder people by twisting the head of a doll. Actually what they do is to mix a root in food which lowers the blood pressure and the person dies immediately. In 1981 he had left Satya Sai Baba. It was his articles as a scientist which boosted Satya Sai baba's image. When he left him, he had the moral duty to speak of his experiences with Sai Baba and tell the people the truth so that those who had joined the Sai Baba band wagon because of his certificate would retreat. But he did not have the courage but was afraid of murder and left India for good.
From the explanation given by Dr. Bhagawantam in his published letter about the Seiko watch story, several questions have to be answered by him which he did not answer while alive.
1. Is it necessary that one has to know malayalam language for one's article to appear in malayalam journals? If that be so how did his article in malayalam and other languages appear in Sai baba's journals "Sanathana Sarathi" in different languages?
2. If the article published in Malayalanadu by the editor who is a Sai Baba follower is not his, why did he not refute it in the journal? and if the Editor refused to publish the same go to the Press Council whose chairman was also a Sai devotee?
Dr. Bhagawantam was no exception to it. Just look to the fate of my letters dated 15-12-1981 and 17-3-1982 received by him on 15-1-1982 and 25-3-1982. Along with the letter I had sent Rs.5/- postal order to him for sending his reply by registered post. Because the miracles published in that article authored by him were proved false after investigation, he kept silent. I wanted to know whether he would refute the authorship of that article also and it was in english and published in several journals including Sanathana Sarathi the official magazine of Satya Sai Baba.
Dr. Haraldsson mentions in his letter of 21-10-1988 about his meeting Dr. Narasimhaiah recently and Dr. Narasimhaiah telling him that he did not think it would be worth while for Haraldsson to spend two days visiting me and he says such was the quality of my work. He says that my committee is practically unknown in India because of the quality of its members.
After my return from United States, I had gone to Bangalore to interview one of the old photographers of Satya Sai Baba who had to run away from the ashram leaving all his wealth there as he was to be murdered on that night. I also came to know that one of his watchmen also was murdered, and his body burnt. I phoned Dr. Narasimhaiah about Dr. Haraldsson's letter to Dr. Dale Beyerstein and his reply was interesting: "When I know of the great work you are carrying to educate the masses in scientific temper and the investigations you have done on paranormal phenomena in India, do you think I would have told Haraldsson that he would be wasting his time meeting you?" I am waiting for Dr. Narasimhaiah's letter in this matter.
Moreover I was called to Bharatiar University in Coimbatore by Prof. Ganesan to meet Dr. Haraldsson in October 1988. I had informed Prof. Ganesan that I would like to video tape my discussion with Dr. Haraldsson. The next day students from the University had come to take me there in the evening. At the University Campus I found Prof. Ganesan and Dr. Haraldsson missing. The students searched for Prof. Ganesan and Dr. Haraldsson missing. The students searched for Prof. Ganesan and Dr. Haraldsson everywhere in the campus and at his house. They were missing and I had to return back.
ENCOUNTERS WITH SPIRITUAL FRAUDS
By Dr. Abraham T.Kovoor.
(First Jaico Impression 1976, Published by: Jaico Press Pvt. Ltd., 121 Mahatma Gandhi Road, Bombay, Chapter 3)
Dr. Bhagavantham and Sathya Sai Baba
During my visit to Madras in 1972 to appear in my own role in the film "Punarjanmam", I was invited to give a lecture at the Indian Institute of Technology at Guindy. During a conversation before the lecture one of the professors at the institute told me that the majority of youths who take to the study of science and technology do so not because they have any scientific attitude or aptitude, but just because such a course helps them to get lucrative jobs. The reason why some of the eminent scientists of India have given up their science, and become "devotees" of Godmen of that country was because they have found that they can make more money by being in collusive devotion to such hoaxers than by continuing scientific pursuits.
A few months ago the editor of a mass-circulating weekly of India wrote me a letter saying that the Editorial Board of his weekly has decided to publish a symposium on "SATHYA SAI BABA - IS HE AN INCARNATION OF GOD OR A CHARLATAN?", and wanted me to be the first contributor to the series.
My article was serialised in three issues. It was then followed by two articles countering my thesis by Dr. S.Bhagavantham, M.Sc., D.Sc., Ph.D., a former scientific adviser to the Government of India.
Dr. Bhagavantham started his article by saying that in his youth he was a rationalist like me, but after witnessing some of the 'miracles' of Bhagawan Sathya Sai Baba, he had to give up his rationalism!
He then continued to describe numerous 'miracles' said to have been performed by Sathya Sai Baba at various times in various places. There was absolutely no mention in the two articles of any one having conducted investigations to establish that they were all genuine miracles, and not conjurer's tricks. The two articles appeared to be clear examples of how unscientific even a good scientist can become if he is a victim of religio-maniacal neurosis or avarice for lucre!
In the whole lot of the miracle stories mentioned by Dr. Bhagavantham, there was only one that was amenable to investigation. I quote below that story:
"The wonderful experience, some years ago, of a world-famous watch manufacturer of Japan, while he was on tour in India, was awe-inspiring.
"After completing the Seiko series of watches he made the model of a more superior type, and kept it in his safe for further tests.
"While touring in India he paid a visit to Sathya Sai Baba's abode just out of curiosity. On seeing the japanese gentleman among the devotees Sathya Sai Baba materialized a small parcel from the air and gave him. On opening the parcel he was astonished to see the same watch that was kept in his safe. When he saw along with the watch the silk ribbon and the label with the new name of the watch and its price marked on it, all his doubts about the divine powers of Sathya Sai Baba simply melted away. He fell prostrate at Sathya Sai Baba's feet and worshipped him. Since then he is an ardent devotee of the Bhagawan.
"On his return to Japan, he was shocked to see that the watch he had kept in his safe was not there. What his Personal Secretary told him was still more startling. The Secretary said that a divine-looking person with bushy hair walked into the office one day, opened the safe and walked away with the watch."
Does Dr. Bhagavantham, who is the holder of covetable qualifications in science, think that a thesis of this nature to prove the miraculous powers of a man, by any scientist, will be accepted by an academic body of scientists if it is not backed by scientific investigations and fool-proof evidence? Although Dr. Bhagavantham is reluctant to test the veracity of his Godman's miraculous powers, I decided to do it myself. With this aim in view I wrote the following letter to Dr. Bhagavantham:
"Tiruvalla", Pamankada Lane,
"Dear Dr. Bhagavantham,
As there was no response from Dr. Bhagavantham even after two months, I decided to pursue the matter on my own. The Japanese Embassy in Sri Lanka was kind enough to provide me with the name and address of the proprietor of the Seiko watch manufacturing firm.
In my letter dated 30th October, 1973 to Mr. Shoji Hattori, president of K. Hattori & Co. Ltd., the manufacturers of Seiko watches, I reproduced Dr. Bhagavantham's story about the miracle, and requested him to provide me with answers to the following questions:
1. Did you or any other partner of yours visit Sathya Sai Baba of India any time?
2. Did Sai Baba materialise a watch from air and present it to you or to any of your partners?
3. Did your personal Secretary tell you or any of your partners that a stranger opened the safe and walked away with a watch?
4. Are you or any of your partners a devotee of Sai Baba?
For the benefit of numerous innocent devotees of Godmen of India I reproduce below Mr. Hattori's reply. This I do with the sincere hope that they will be sensible enough to realise the truth that these charlatans who go about in the garb of holy men have numerous agents like Dr. Bhagavantham everywhere working in collusion to propagate the huge hoax and profit materially.
|SEIKO - K. HATTORI & CO., LTD.,
5, Koyobashi 2-chome, chuo-ku, Tokyo 104
Established 1881, Cable: Hattori Tokyo. Phone: Tokyo 563-2111.
November 8, 1973.
Dr. A.T.Kovoor, Pamankada Lane, Colombo-6, Sri Lanka.,
Dear Dr. Kovoor,
Thank you for your letter of October 30th. I can appreciate your interest in conducting scientific research of paranormal claims, but I am in no way able to further your knowledge as regards the man mentioned in your letter, Mr. Sai Baba. Neither I nor any members of my staff have ever made the acquaintance of this individual. I am sure that these reports are completely unfounded I must therefore reply in the negative to all four of your questions concerning this incident.
K. Hattori & Co., Ltd.,
Sgd. Shoji Hattori, President
On receipt of this letter I wrote the following letter to Dr. Bhagavantham enclosing a photostat copy of Mr. Shoji Hattori's letter.
|"Dear Dr. Bhagavantham,
Absence of any response from you to my request made over two months ago has made me suspect the veracity of your story about the Japanese watch manufacturer getting his own watch that was kept in his safe in Japan from Sai Baba. To pursue my investigation in the matter, I got the name and address of Seiko watch manufacturer from the Japanese Embassy in Sri Lanka.
In his reply to my enquiry, Mr. Shoji Hattori, President of K. Hattori & Co., Ltd., who are the manufacturers and proprietors of Seiko watches writes:
"I can appreciate your interest in conducting scientific research of paranormal claims, but I am in no way able to further your knowledge as regards the man mentioned in your letter, Mr. Sai Baba. Neither I nor any members of my staff have ever made the acquaintance of this individual. I am sure that these reports are completely unfounded.
If Mr. Shoji Hattori is not the person concerned in your story, please let me know about it, and provide me with the correct name and address. Absence of any reply from you for this letter also, will only confirm my firm belief that you are an agent of Sathya Sai Baba doing propaganda for him with ulterior motive and vested interest.
Yours in search of Truth,
Abraham T. Kovoor".
Since there was no reply so far to this letter also, I had to confirm my belief that Dr. Bhagavantham is in collusion with the charlatan Sathya Sai Baba to do false propaganda for him with ulterior motive and vested interest.
THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA VANCOUVER, B.C., CANADA V6T IW5
Department of Philosophy 1866 Main Mall, E-370.
Dr. Erlendur Haraldsson, University of Iceland,
Faculty of Social Science, 101, Reykjavik, Iceland.
Dear Doctor Haraldsson,
Thank you so much for your letter of April 6, and apologies for the long pause before this reply. I had sent a letter to Dr.Hislop for his response to your investigation of the Cowan resurrection through the good offices of Dr.Evani of B.C., a Sai devotee, and have been waiting for his response. Also I have been putting together the research as enclosed in SAI BABA'S MIRACLES, which I send you with my compliments. I'm sure you will be interested to have a look at it, particularly the section analyzing the materializations.
I certainly agree with the point you make at the end of your book that in the absence of agreement for controlled testing of claimed paranormal powers, we must make rough and ready judgements analogous with judgements made in court house contexts. (Analogous, but not identical with for obvious reasons). On these sorts of grounds, the evidence seems overwhelming against taking the materialization claims seriously. Sai Baba is caught out in self-puffery in so many instances-allowing omniscience claims when his language abilities are only average, and so on. And not only allowing them but making them himself. And he speaks so loosely in so many ways that his denials that he uses sleight of hand cannot be given any real weight. The overwhelming evidence given the film analysis, it seems, the loose anecdotal nature of the claims, etc., all point so definitely in the direction. Moreoever the wide spread claims of sexual hanky panky and the evidence of association with the gold business -- although not conclusive,--must be seriously entered into the overall picture.
On the questions you asked, "Sam Dalal' is a name given by James Randi. Randi in a phone conversation said that Sai Baba 'materialized' a seiko watch for a Seiko watch company executive visiting India. Sam Dalal asked for the serial number from the executive as I understood it, and got it. The number was then sent back to Japan for tracing. Turns out the number was a watch which was to have been stored in a warehouse not far from the site where the 'materialization' took place. I have written an address given by Randi for Dalal, but received no reply. (Actually two addresses: PO Box 858 Calcutta 700 001 is the more permanent sounding of the two, but Randi wasn't sure whether they were current or not.)
You asked whether he had made first hand observations. If a magician who insists he's doing sidhis or has special 'natural powers is to be checked out, we don't go into the audience. We try to get backstage. Finding out about serial numbers and so on is one way. Analyzing film in frame by frame is another.
On the question of your 'failure' to ask Sai Baba to account for the discrepancies on the Cowan resurrection. Hislop thinks this is a shortcoming of yours. Surely we understand that someone who is clearly 'mythologizing' to put it politely, or making up whatever he please (as with his goof about Jesus not having eaten for days before the crucifixion!) will say whatever he pleases if asked about the Cowan story. As you well recognize it's the overall picture that counts supported by whatever hard evidence one can find. But for the sake of thoroughness, and consistency it seems odd that you don't comment on the fact that you seem so comfortable to draw the negative conclusion on the Cowan case when there is so much evidence of loose talk and hanky panky sorrounding Sai Baba on all scores.
By the way, what do you know about Richard Bock's death? I understand he died in January, and that two other Sai devotees of long standing also died in January. Did Richard Bock die in India or in the US? Do you know anything of the circumstances? I would be interested in any information about this.
B.Premanand's address is:
Mettur Bungalow, 10A, Chettipalayam Road,
Podanur--641 023. Tamilnadu (India)
It is really essential that B.Premanand's many publications on Baba and the social scene in which he functions be closely examined in order to make the kind of balanced assessment of Baba's paranormal claims which you seek to make in the absence of controlled testing. Is it not extremely telling that even after Premanand has hauled the Sai Organization into court for a ruling on his apparent evasion of the gold manufacturer's tax, Sai Baba refuses to settle the issue by agreeing to controlled testing?
Looking forward to your further thoughts,
Premanand mentions Kasturi deletes the Seiko reference after the investigation. Also have you been in touch with Sorcar Jr.? through magician's circles, entertainment agencies, and so on.
I have many other toughts on testing for magic, and would be happy to share them with you as our correspondence continues.
Letter of Dr. Dale Beyerstein to Dr. Haraldsson
THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA VANCOUVER, B.C., CANADA V6T IW5
Department of Philosophy, 1866 Main Mall, E-370,
Dr. Erlendur Haraldsson, Department of Psychology,
University of Iceland, 101, Reykjavik, Iceland.
March 7, 1988
Dear Dr. Haraldsson,
I will be writing a review of your book "Modern Miracles" for one of the learned journals in the field, and am wondering about one or two questions.
First, let me thank you for writing the book. I believe it to be of first ranking importance in studying the Sai Baba phenomenon. Certainly of all the books I've so far come across on Baba, of this type, it is the place to begin in assessing the phenomena. Congradulations on your persistant and balanced research!
1) On pg 27 you say, "our sympathetic swami was not a man of science". What led you to this? Was this just his refusal to allow scientific tests and controls to be made? Or did he give indications of being positively uninformed about science? What was your impression of whether he could pass a university level exam in mathematics, physics, chemistry or biology?
2) In the chapter "The Critics" pg. 199, why is no mention made of Premanand and the Committee for The Scientific Investigation of the Paranormal? and its on going investigations into Sai Baba?
3) In "How Real?", "Second Look", you talk about there being no direct evidence of sleight of hand? Are you familiar with Sam Dalal's research into the Seiko watch materialisation?
4) In discussion of the bilocation evidence, why was no mention made of Neelakantha Baba, who appeared as such several months after the bilocation phenomenon, dresses like Sai Baba, has similar hair, materializes small objects and vibuti etc?
5) What sort of response from Sai Baba or from devotees who have publicized the Cowan resurrection such as Dr. Hislop has there been? To your research in "Raising the Dead? (pg.243).
Thank you once again for all your work on behalf of science, and I look forward to hearing from you.
Best wishes in your endeavours,
Dale Beyerstein, Lecturer.
University of Iceland, Faculty of Social science,
101, Reykjavik, Iceland, Tel.: 354-1 694300.
Mr. Dale Beyerstein, Department of Psychology,
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6T IW5.
October 21, 1988.
Dear Mr. Beyerstein:
Thank you for your letter of Oct. 5th and the interesting material enclosed. Has the review you were going to write about my book been published? If so please send me a copy of it or let me know where it has been published. I have just returned from six weeks overseas so I must be very brief.
I notice that you are getting seriously interested in Sai Baba's phenomena. It is very difficult to get even a very rough notion about Sai baba and the setting in which he operates, and the cultural differences between North America/Europe on one side and India on the other, which must also be taken into account without visiting India and without being something of an anthropologist exercising participant observation. If you have the possibility, make a trip to Puttaparti, get to know the situation there, and get personally to know some of those who truly have some first hand experiences of Sai Baba.
Premanand with whom I have had some correspondence, unfortunately, has practically no first hand observations. Do you find anywhere in his writings a detailed description of any production of objects like I and Dr.Osis have described our rudraksha and ring incidences? To display Sai Baba simply/only as some sort of a rogue is far too simplistic and really ridiculous to practically anyone who has had even a slight aquaintance with him. Sai Baba is a very complex and multi-faceted personality.
I could only spend two weeks in India. I met Dr. Narasimhaiah whom I hold in high respect. He did not think it would be worthwhile for me to spend two days visiting Premanand, such was the quality of his work. His committee is practically unknown in India, whereas Narasimhaiah's Miracle Committee received national attention, also because of the quality of its members.
The Seiko watch story is still only heresay and there seem to be many editions of it. No one has published a checked and verfied account of it, and because of previous experience of similar stories I would distrust any of them till they are properly verfied. One cannot use these unverified second hand stories as argument for anything until they have been verified. What about you trying to check it out? It might be an interesting learning experience for someone who does not know India and the fertile ground of myth-making that exists in Indian ashrams and is also naturally abundantly watered by the enigmatic phenomena around Sai Baba. It might also teach you a lesson about now careful/careless Indians tend to be when it comes to thoroughness and exactness of even a rudimentary inquiry.
I now just returned from India where I had not been for 5 years. To my great surprise I obtained two interviews with Sai Baba. In one of them SB produced an exquisite golden watch beset with many jewels to an Indian lady, evidently much attached to him. Unfortunately she was not willing to let me examine the watch apart from just looking at it unless SB would let her know that he permitted it. This was the end of my few days stay in Puttaparti and there was no way for me to contact SB about it.
As I was in Puttaparti some 2000-3000 people were waiting and hoping to get an interview with him. My estimate is that only 1 to at most 5% of those who come to Puttaparti and want an interview get it. The crowd is such that there simply is no way for Sai Baba to see them all. That Sorcar did not get an interview can not be used as an argument for anything knowing the actual situation in Puttaparti, and the way SB selects people for interviews. He just picks them out as he passes people sitting in rows, and in the majority of those he picks he probably neither knows or cares about their names are who they are. Not revealing your identity, as Premanand states somewhere, really is irrelevent. SB does not select people on the basis of a list of names given to him. Then of course there are those that he has met earlier (I fell into that group this time) and he always picks some of them.
He made several comments about my book, some of them specific and which I will deal with when the time comes for a revised edition. He did not mention the Cowan case. His comments do not require any basic changes. To my surprise he had read my book, perhaps because he had an accident in the fall and was bedridden for some time.
Richard Bock died in Los Angeles. He had suffered from a heart problem for some time and apparently overstrained himself when moving his office from LA over to his home in the Valley. There was nothing mysterious about his death as far as I know.
As far as I know Premanand has not hauled the Sai organization into court. His gold act case was rejected by the courts.
From what journal or news letter is the letter from Hislop that you mailed to me. Where could I get a copy?
I must stop now though I have barely started to respond to your letter.
University of Iceland, Faculty of Social Science,
101, Reykjavik, Iceland, Tel.: 354-1 694300.
Mr. Dale Beyerstein, Department of Psychology,
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6T IW5.
Dear Mr. Beyerstein: April 6, 1988.
Thank you for your letter. I have just returned from a couple of weeks stay in the USA, hence my late reply.
1) My statement that Sai Baba "was not a man of science" was not primarily based on his refusal to participate in experiments, but is rather a description of his general approach and the values he seems to cherish, which are more like that of a religious preacher than a scientist. Considering that Sai Baba did not finish high school he does not seem particularly uninformed but his understanding of science seems at best quite shallow. He is definitely a shrewd and intelligent man and my guess is that he would have been able to study up to a university level if he had tried to.
2) My last visit to India was in 1983 and I finished the book about that time. Much time was spent trying to find a publisher. It was first published in a German translation in 1986, an English edition appeared in 1987 and the USA edition in January this year. I had long discussions with Dr. Narasimhaiah and members of his committee and the name of Premanand simply never came up at that time. I inquired about other critics but even then Premanand's name was not mentioned, but Dr.Kovoor's name was very familiar to me and anyone interested in the controversy about Sai Baba. Premanand's work and his committee (when was it founded?) was, I believe, was very little if not practically unknown in the seventies and early eighties when my research and writing took place. Dr. Narasimhaiah's contribution and his "Miracle Committee" were widely publicised and known to almost everyone. If Narasimhaiah or other members of his committee had known about Premanand's work and found it relevant or substantial in any way I am surprised why they did not tell me about it or bring it up in our discussions. I would certainly have tried to meet him on one trip I made to Podanur. Unfortunately Premanand does not seem to have had any direct contact with Baba or opportunities to observe him at close range. My interest was primarily for those who had first hand experiences and observations.
3) You mention the Seiko watch materialization. I thought there had been a few of them. No, I have not heard of Sam Dalal. I would appreciate if you would give me his address or give me a reference to his contribution. Did he make some first hand observations? I have seen Sai Baba give forth brand-marked objects but never a watch. Once out in the open walking his rounds a retarded child in the group started to get loud and disturbing. He then threw to the young boy a toffee that silenced him. Immediately afterwards I saw the paper it was wrapped in. It was a well-known brand produced in Bombay.
4) I know very well of Neelakantha Baba Tataji. I never met him but knew well one close associate of his, a physician in Bombay who later left him. He believed that Tataji had had some paranormal powers but then lost them and become involved in fraud. I never learned of any association between Sai Baba and him - although Tataji in some ways resembled Sai Baba. Tataji had very much his own group around him.
Karlis Osis and I made our study of the bilocation evidence in 1974-75. I do not recall ever hearing that Tataji was associated with this case although his dress and some of the things he was reported to do (on a much smaller scale though) resembled that of Sai Baba. Their looks however are clearly different.
Tataji was one of a group of swamis I termed minibabas. I found or heard of a few of them. They were reported to produce either vibuti, small objects or both and more. I found two of them clearly engaged in fraud. There was no evidence to indicate that any of them had any kind of affiliation with Sai Baba. Indian Swamis are usually at least as competitive as electronic church leaders in America, probably even more, so.
5) I have not sent Sai Baba a copy of the book. I have not had any comment from him (nor do I expect any) or from any of his devotees regarding the Cowan case although my impression is that some of them may believe in some conspiracy theory on part of the physicians who attended Mr. Cowan to keep "the facts" hidden. On the other hand one devotee, Richard Bock, who led the SAI foundation in Los Angeles and who also tried to investigate the case several years ago, seemed last january when I met him in Los Angeles to have come to the same conclusion as I did. Dr. Hislop I have not met or heard from for many, many years.
I appreciate your interest. I would be happy to learn of any comments or facts important or relevant to the contents of my book as I hope at a later time to be able to revise it for a second edition.
With best regards,
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