Diary of Alexandra Nagel
author of the research paper: 'A Guru Accused'

Diary? I don’t know if I shall burden you with a bunch of pages text written during my stay in Sai Baba’s ashram and the few weeks following my departure there. I’ve typed up all those bits and pieces, and printed them today, Thursday March 5th, 1992. Some of those sentences --- Aj! I get goose pimples by the thought of someone reading it! In India not one hair on my head considered the idea that one day I might read this particular diary to see how my feelings for Baba had developed. Even less so, did I consider some stranger’s eye sliding over my private notes… Yet, maybe it is time I share them, so others might see how one could become a devotee of Sai Baba, and how it is to become an ex-devotee as well. Here, read for yourself.

Madras, Tuesday Feb. 7, 1990

Gracious me! I’m just one day in India, staying in a hotel with plenty of other guest – mainly devotees of Sai Baba, who are in town because they travel wherever Baba travels and right now Baba’s in Madras! I saw him tonight! When he gave ‘darshan’ somewhere … Loads of Indians, singing songs, and then such a small man in an orange-coloured garment. Baba. I don’t know yet what to make of it, but it certainly is an extreme coincident – a kind of surprise: on my first day in India I see Him, the one for whom I began my travel.

Whitefield, Thursday Feb. 9, 1990

Arrived yesterday afternoon in the ashram. Only a few devotees are here (others are still in Madras). I’m an odd one out and feel a bit naughty. About the black-market for example. I asked my 3 roommates whether they ever had exchanged something at the black market. ‘Oh no! Baba doesn’t approve of that!’ they exclaimed, and ‘You must be new here? You haven’t read much yet about Baba? You must have hardly met any other devotees so far?’

I just cracked up laughing. Similar like a time in Georgetown, Malaysia, when I had to pay 5 M$ to sleep on a mat on the floor cramped next to the staircase. Two weeks earlier I had been allowed to sleep in the same hotel comfortably on a mattress behind the stairs for 4 M$, but then, yeah then there hadn’t been that many tourists in town…!

This black-market example. To me one takes Baba’s words too rigid or too dogmatic once one defines things in good and not-good. The not-good is also Baba. On top of this, I had my own fun and interesting experience and no one, except Baba, God, or Maitreya, or how you name God, and I know what and how I secretly traded my tax-free bought liquor with an Indian fellow.

Puttaparthi, Sunday Feb. 18, 1990

08:30 Waiting for bhajans, a type of devotional songs. The Indian people are bugging me about clothing and other crab. What is this kind of lesson I obviously have to take notice of?

Someone told me not to have felt anything for already two days, except to feel empty inside. In fact this is exactly how I feel since being here, and besides a few flash-moments Baba (apparently?) hasn’t done anything to me. What’s the purpose of this? Is there a purpose?

20:00 Our line picked #1 for darshan tonight. We sat frontline and when Baba passed by and looked at me, … He looked right into my soul. Really! He looked right through me!

Puttaparthi, Monday Feb. 26, 1990

When I would leave from here = Baba, I would do it ‘disconnected’ from him. (‘ ‘ because actually I’ll never be disconnected from him.) I would leave with sadness while I cannot reach what I want to reach, and/or have not found/received, what I wanted to find/receive. The fact that I haven’t found it depends on me, not on him. So I have to look better.

It doesn’t even hurt, this realisation. I’ve noticed before when after pain an insight arose about something I had all along been doing ‘wrong’, it came very softly. Very gently. As if he was happy that I, (as a matter of speech: myself), had come to the insight.

Our bhajan singing in the afternoon is at times very out of tune. The day before yesterday, S., the one who teaches us those songs, set in way too high. In the middle of a line he stopped: the tune had become too high for him. Just thereafter we en masse followed an octave lower and S. continued in the same setting. Later that day, S. sat first row during darshan. He mentally asked Swami, when he passed by, if Baba had been there during the bhajanlesson. Baba nodded his head and smiled to him! Yes, Baba had been there! Such an anecdote, wow!, great!

Puttaparthi, Sunday March 4, 1990

It seems like I have to give up everything. Also my questions concerning Maitreya, John, Seth. Everything. Because of the ‘you have to give it all in order to gain it all’-principle. I feel ashamed for the scanty, dusty, confused stuff I have to offer him. And there floats this thought inside that as soon as I’ve given him all I have, some old other dusty drawers within my psyche which I completely had forgotten about, will get uncovered.

There’s another feeling I have: I ‘have’ to stay here and by doing so I’ll loose contact with people back home. Now that I am going my way with him, I have to let go off them, friends and even family. I meet others = like-minded ones, which is pleasant and fun, but there’s also pain and grief by the loss of old friends. I know, in the end it doesn’t matter one bit, but still --- You follow?

During bhajans this afternoon, S. taught us a new one. I couldn’t understand nor read one of the words, so I grimaced and S., who never unstraightens his face, had to laugh incredibly. Later on I was wondering if Baba appreciates me for my sincere effort, I mean, I do as I think is correct, it’s what I do from my heart, but is it what he wants me to do? When I pondered on this after darshan, S.’s smile popped in my mind’s eye. It was Baba showing me he enjoys me the way I am.

The Divine Play, well, it all definitely has to be The Grand Illusion!

Whitefield, Friday March 16, 1990

Somewhat unexpected Baba moved this morning to his ashram in Whitefield. How he waved goodbye at us, to fully fall in love with!!! Immediately I fell in love --- with him ---

Whitefield, Tuesday March 27, 1990

07:30 Heard yesterday and the day before yesterday incredible many of those fantastic stories about Swami. Besides that, in particular last night, I had the feeling of Baba working on my naïveté. … Furthermore, Baba seems to be leading us, the Dutch group, playfully (leela!) to an interview. I’ve thought about this. What shall I ask him about Seth, Maitreya, etc.? The point is to leave it up to him. He knows what I know, he knows of what issues I’m consciously aware, and he knows in which order I picked it up. He of course, has already leaded me all the way. Now it’s up to him to do the next thing with me.

I’ve wished for a discussion with Baba, but this wish is gone. If he wants a conversation with me, then I’ll pose my questions. If he wants to give me something else instead, then that’s all right too. I want to learn to trust whatever he does is good for me – and for everybody else as well.

I feel changes in me; I’m not the same as a month ago.

21:00 We’ve had an INTERVIEW with the Dutch group! But he didn’t ask nor tell me anything personally. Somehow I experienced this interview as a letdown; on the other hand, when we sat in the interview room I looked outside and saw the wind breezing through the trees and cute monkeys passed by. ‘That too, perhaps even more so, is Baba,’ I thought and a smile brightened up my face, like now writing about the event, it does again.

Whitefield, Wednesday April 18, 1990

Suddenly I don’t trust maya anymore. Nothing is secure. In Baba’s words are controversies. It forces me to go inwards?! But I’m not ‘pure’ enough to do so, so I can’t trust my insideness.

It has to be the monkeymind as Baba calls it, that even my feelings of enjoying life no matter what, can sabotage my joy by rationalising that happy feelings are nothing but just other illusions.

Whitefield, Monday April 30, 1990

I’m afraid. Isn’t everything I ascribe to Baba my own fantasy? And I’m afraid I don’t do enough and what I do is not good. I’m sick and tired of being ignored. (…)

That Baba accepted my letters, that I could pick up a sweet this morning, that I was allowed to participate in a group interview and had been given vibhuti, hasn’t so far given me the feeling of really being worthwhile to Baba. Is it because I don’t love myself enough? Is it to crush my ego? Is it to teach me that understanding things intellectually is insufficient while in life it’s all about real other things, namely Love with a capital L? Is Swami offering this lesson?

Whitefield, Saturday May 5, 1990

This thought: I am nothing special, just like everybody else results in a (read: my) low self-esteem complex. However, it shows me also I do not realise who I really am, cause, I am He and He is God, so I am God as well.

And so, with this type of thoughts I have the feeling that Baba no matter what, still works with me.

Whitefield, Tuesday May 8, 1990

Suddenly stories about Swami asking guys to pull their pants down. Sometimes he materialises oil and rubs it on their testicles. He embraced K.

What does this mean? Is Swami not the avatar he claims to be???????????? DOUBTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whitefield, Wednesday May 9, 1990

Yesterday evening I was convinced Swami is God; this morning I talked again with K., and now the feeling to leave Baba for what he is has the upper hand. It is not expected of an avatar to have him act sexually with guys, at least, not if he separates companionship between men and women in the ashram and seems to explain sex mainly as a necessary something for procreation.

There are seven young men I know by now, who have experienced it with Baba, among them K. and a guy named B.

Bangalore, Tuesday May 15, 1990

16:30 I’m rather frightened. K. said he would be gone for about 20 minutes and now it’s almost an hour later. Fear because Baba --- Because we don’t believe in Baba anymore and there is fear because he might harm us. (…)

PS. K. came back at 18:20.

Colva, Thursday May 17, 1990

I’m in Colva, a village in the provence of Goa, for 2 or 3 nights. Hopefully K. & I meet coming Wednesday or Thursday in Agra. K. still waits for a check which has to arrive at a bank in Bangalore.

Baba is in my head a lot. Slept last night as a log; I think I’m processing things within my sleep.

The beach in Colva is not as nice as along the small islands near Krabi, Thailand, like Koh Phiphi: no snorkling possibilities; there are many Indians and it looks somewhat European here. Nice to see palm trees again, though!

Baba. The house where I rent a room has a Baba-picture hanging at the end of the alley. Coincidence?!

I can’t hate him. Staring at the several pictures I still keep of him, arouse in me at times the impression that Baba is aware of the role of anti-christ he’s fulfilling. Is it a sin if I somewhere inside still love him? Do I commit a sin if I forgive him his sexual excesses, the participation in murders? Because the beliefs ‘everybody creates his own reality’ and ‘a belief in the good is the best to have’ lead the dominant tone in my belief system again? Because I shifted Baba’s ‘no matter how unhappy or bad it is what is experienced, know that this avatar willed it so’ from Baba to God? Because God is the actor and we are only puppets on a string. I just don’t believe in the ultimate Bad. Is that then perhaps my ultimate, original sin? No, impossible, but in case it might, it is the so maniest act I do out of ignorance (…).

I sit in a coffee shop where so far only men have come inside. They play western music. Sometimes, as now with this music, now after this thing with Baba, I’m overwhelmed by a sentimental crying-fit. All dreams have fallen apart / The dream of the last months has been broken / The fairytale is over / The being in love (at the illusion?!) is gone / Once more ‘the morning after the night before’-feeling. And life goes on. "Lets just kiss and say goodbye" blasts the radio.

Agra, Sunday May 25, 1990

Incredible how my thoughts jump up and down, go back and forth. And it’s incredible how nice this Joney of Joney’s Place is where I drink coffee, sodas & lassies.

K. still hasn’t arrived.

In the beginning of my trip, in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, there continually was the forecast to Baba, see and experience the Great Holy Man. In spite of all my internal conflicts during the months in the ashram, there was a religious feeling. My vision of God, Baba grew and intensified, became all embracing. Then out of the blue, somehow, Baba seems to be cheater. Now I let go of Baba, but at the same time I’ve lost my god-connectedness, so it’s empty inside.

Rotterdam, Saturday June 16, 1990

Yesterday I met someone of my meditation group. We’ve gone through the story Sai & Sex extensively. She is convinced Baba’s ‘black’ acts are there just to teach us people also to embrace the ‘black stuff’, cause only then can we transform it. To her Baba has gained on nice-ness. He learns us to see through maya, she says.

And what do I say? I don’t know. Although I, since last night, after having been circa five weeks anti-Baba, having felt angry and cheated with regard to him and God, finally felt the loving wonder of life return, even with that, I still don’t know about Baba. Suppose Baba is not an avatar but only a ‘rishi’ or ‘siddha’, and is after name & fame, then this is God’s will. Suppose Baba is the avatar, then it is his will that I went through this phase. Whatever way I turn the case, it doesn’t matter one darn bit!

… I feel lonely…

Wageningen, Thursday June 21, 1990

Why does it bother me not to know if Baba did it on purpose or not? Why can’t I simply choose: Baba is pure divinity and focus again on him? Or choose that he is not divine? Because, in the first case, there’s the fear I might make a mistake, and by doing so I give energy to something evil; and in the second, I do Baba/God injustice in case he is the avatar.

Wageningen, Friday June 22, 1990

Didn’t go to my meditation group. I definitely had not the energy to see anyone at all. The depression has hit deep.

London, Wednesday June 27, 1990

I met B. today, which was very nice. A very convinced Baba-devotee made me, through his Baba-stories, go over once more to the side ‘it cannot be possible that Baba lies’. But alas, the account of B. made me switch again: B. experienced the sexual thing himself, he knew the fear, left the ashram almost immediately when he heard us talking about it.

In London now, B. knows several other guys who have had the same happening to them in their private interviews. One of them up to 20 times! He, for this reason, didn’t want to go to Baba anymore, but his mother wanted him to, because if her son went, he always got chosen for an interview – and therefore she too! Her son was too ashamed or embarrassed to tell is own mother!

No one knows actually why Baba does it, and above all why he denies it in case he’s being asked about it. Why does he only say something vague like ‘devotion or rejection are basicly the same’?

Oxford, Thursday June 28, 1990

"No matter what is experienced, know that this avatar willed it so," Baba has said. Detachment of seeing & hearing, of feelings & emotions; it’s all about the atman, the divine spark, the diamond within myself. I feel guilty because I’ve been anti-Baba.

Forres, Monday July 2, 1990

The Game continually continues and I regularly cry my eyes out. Partly because I’m fighting emotions. The not knowing but on the other hand I do know, and being sick and tired of my own mind constantly and for ever reasoning reasoning and reasoning.

Thoughts thoughts. And what do I feel about Baba? While reading in the Baba-book The embodiment of Love by Mason & Laing … the sting of fear still resides deep within.

Wageningen, continued Thursday March 5, 1992

Typing all my diary notes raised memories about the ashram period and the first months thereafter. Really, I was an emotional wreck, a pro-anti-Baba-yoyo. I fluctuated daily between believing in Sai Baba, - what I didn’t dare completely because just suppose he wouldn’t be divine but satanic – and rejecting Baba, - but then I felt a huge emptiness inside and was just like a robust tin robot.

This internal duel lasted until the end of November that year. In the last weekend of that month I participated in a Reichian bodywork workshop. On the second day I thought my wallet to be stolen from my backpack in the bedroom, and I associated this in a session with ‘someone unjustly so has lifted something from me: Sai Baba unfairly robbed me from my intuition, my most intrinsic trusting part’. Subsequently I became incredibly angry: !!!!¡¡¡Goddarndarndarndarndarnit!! What does this son of an orange dress think he can be up to with me!!! ¡¡¡¡ That ASSHOLE !!!!!

Later that day I found my wallet, stored in a place where I hadn’t looked before. Apparently I hadn’t searched well enough, ergo, I didn’t look good enough if I believed Baba had stolen something from me. Viewed upon rationally the equation is not waterproof; emotionally, however, it worked so profound that since I haven’t lost a deep trust in my own being anymore.

Eindhoven, Friday Aug. 11, 2000

It’s 10 years ago I wrote the above diary notes, and 8 years ago when I put those in the computer. I did so because I expected one day other devotees might get confronted with Sai Baba’s ‘dark side’. By writing down my story there would be some kind of document people could read what a mind/psyche might go through when a Sai-devotee becomes an ex-devotee.

Only fairly recent I read The Findings. The case Sai Baba is much more complicated, and way more serious than I knew and imagined it to be in 1990 up to 1993. For me that whole episode was a profound learning process, which only afterwards I can appreciate for having gone through. I’m grateful for having had my experience. Yet, herewith I cannot justify many of Baba’s acts. To me, he definitely is not The Avatar.

I wish all people who now, through The Findings or otherwise, get challenged with the devotee/ex-devotee dilemma, strength & courage to face the ‘dark’ aspects of Sai Baba. Let an answer come from your own heart, when you ask questions like: Do I have a choice in what to believe or not? If I have a choice, what do I believe in? Do I believe in a guru who sexually abuses young men and boys? Do I believe such acts done by Sai Baba to be some kind of initiation, purification? If I do believe it to be divine, why do I believe that? If not, why not? Don’t give your own power away to someone! Find your own Truth!

With love,

Alex

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