by Serguei Badaev

March 03, 2002

The Sathya Sai Organisation is known for its charity projects in health and education. The most famous are Water Supply Project in arid Andhra Pradesh state, modern hospitals in Puttaparthi and near Bangalore, and an institute and colleges in Puttaparthi, Whitefield (near Bangalore) and Anantapur.

However it might be quite surprising to learn that all those projects are not the projects of the Sathya Sai Organisation. And it is not the Sathya Sai Organisation which is the owner of all the property and estates we can see in Prashanthi Nilayam and Brindavan (Sai Baba’s ashrams in Puttaparthi and in Whitefield correspondingly). There is another organisation which prefers to stay in a shadow. It is Sathya Sai Central Trust (the SSCT), which can be regarded as the highest authority in the Sai Baba movement except Sai Baba himself [1]. Very little reliable information is available about this organisation which accumulates and operates all donations which come to Sathya Sai Baba [2]. It is unclear what the relations are between the SSCT and the other so called “Sai” trusts (Sathya Sai Medical Trust, Sathya Sai Education Trust): if they are independent structures or just branches of the SSCT.

There are no publications or open reports which present budget or expenditure of the SSCT. We can only speculate in regard to those figures. In his discourse on 11th August 2001, Sai Baba, all of a sudden, revealed some details which can be used to evaluate the functioning of the SSCT. Below are the passages from that discourse 'Sacrifice Is My Enjoyment':

Take the water project in Anantapur. Even now there are some areas where there is scarcity of water. I have spent 300 crores of rupees and made water available to the extent possible. Take Mahboobnagar; it is another water starved area in Telangana. I asked the Chief Engineer Kondal Rao, what it would cost to arrange for water supply there. He gave an estimate of about 60 crores of Rupees. I told him not to bother about crores but to go ahead and carry out the project. There is no point in putting up a project from a depleting source like bore wells and pumps and so I arranged for water to be brought from the Krishna river at a cost of about of Rupees 110 crores. Now we have gone to Medak district and the project for water supply there is in progress. Many other similar projects are coming up and will be dealt with in a similar manner.

All may not be aware of the state of affairs. The Bangalore Hospital involves an expenditure of Rs. 3 crores per month. Special medicines, artificial heart valves, etc., have to be imported from America. Similarly, the Prashanthi Nilayam Hospital costs about Rs. 2 crores per month. I do not desire any assistance or support from the government nor are they giving any. Again, there are educational institutions in Prashanthi Nilayam, Anantapur, Bangalore, Muddenahalli and Rajahmundry. These cost about Rs.1 crore a month. In this manner roughly the expenses come to Rs. 6 crores per month. Where from does it all come? However, I am giving it. It would require a corpus of about Rs.600 crores in deposit, which will yield an interest sufficient to run the Hospitals and Educational Institutions. If this is done, this level of free health-care and education can be maintained. There are thousands of you here and I have never asked any for assistance. My hand is always above (giving) and never below (receiving). My hand is stretched only for love, but none realizes this fully. What I needed was 600 crores and only today I have received the news that a sum of 600 crores of rupees is arriving from the U.S. If this amount is apportioned as 300 crores for Bangalore Hospital, 200 for Puttaparthi and 100 crores for the educational institutions and invested, the interest accruing will take care of the running expenses. I have no personal desires. My entire being is selfless. There is no selfishness in Me at all nor have I asked anybody. Will anybody simply give a 100 crores as gift for the mere asking? None. But a single individual has come forward to give 600 crores. I have no direct contact with that person. The message says, "Swami, you will receive the amount on Monday noon. Please deposit 300 crores on Bangalore Hospital account and 200 crores on the Puttaparthi Hospital account as fixed deposit as soon as the amount is received.” It may be hard to find entirely selfless people, but if you undertake selfless work, resources flow on their own accord.

(p. 218 Volume 33 , Sathya Sai Speaks - 11.08.2001,, see also Sanathana Sarathi, September 2001, though the text there is slightly different.)

Assuming the exchange rate 1USD=45 Rs. we can summarise the above data in USD.

A donation from a person from the U.S.A. is about 133 million USD.[3]
Current expenditure:
Bangalore Hospital 0.67 million USD; Prashanthi Nilayam Hospital 0.44 million USD;
Educational institutions: (Prashanthi Nilayam, Anantapur, Bangalore, Muddenahalli and Rajahmundry [4]) 0.22 million USD
--------------------------- ----------------------
Total (per month) 1.33 million USD [5] (per year) 16 million USD

To estimate the SSCT funds we assumed that the current expenditure has been covered by the SSCT even without that huge donation from the U.S.A. That means that about the same sum of money must have been deposited or invested to give an interest to cover that expenditure. So after getting above mentioned donation the SSCT funds might be at least about 266 million USD.

At the same discourse (11.08.2001) Sai Baba mentions the Water Supply Project and a scheme arranged for Mahboobnagar (in Telangana) of about 24.4 million USD. If we assume that this expenditure should not influence interest for covering current expenditure, we should consider this sum as extra money. So, the total amount will be 266 + 24.4 = 290.4 million USD.

I have not included in above calculations the plans for a water supply scheme for Medak district declared by Sai Baba, his project for 1 lakh (~2,200 USD) deposits per children and house building for poor families in Puttaparthi and Whitefield (see discourses of 25.12.2000 and 11.08.2001), current expenditure of Sai Baba’s ashrams in Puttaparthi, Whitefield and Kodaikanal, airport maintenance, general hospital in Puttaparthi, maintenance of such objects as the Spiritual Heritage Museum, the Jyothi Chaytanya Museum, the Hillview Stadium, the Music College, etc. (all of them in Puttaparthi). The current expenditure (and construction costs, as some of them like the Music College and the Jyothi Museum are new buildings) might amount to another several million USD per year.

So, I assume it will not be a serious mistake to estimate the total funds of the SSCT at about 300 million USD as minimum.

Why do we need to analyse charity activity done by Sai Baba and the SSCT? There are several reasons:

(1) No information is published about financial operations of those charity projects, the SSO and the SSCT.

(2) There is some evidence that without openness and independent control some money can be spent ineffectively or even misused. For example, according to the information from a booklet issued by the SSCT the water supply scheme for Anantapur was initially estimated as Rs.70 crores but a detailed working resulted in an outlay of about Rs.175 crores. Such a difference leads to question competence of those who were in charge for the project or to suspect some money misuse. This example becomes even more dramatic as Sai Baba mentioned in his discourse (11.08.2001) that Anantapur water supply scheme cost Rs. 300 crores that about 4 times higher than initial estimate. Of course, we should not forget a Sai Baba’s habit to exaggerate numbers [6]. It put all our inferences at risk but, unfortunately, until now we have no other way to estimate Sai Baba’s and the SSCT’s charity work.

(3) There are serious doubts in fairness of the SSCT members. As far as I know a list of the SSCT members has never been published [7]. Sai Baba has a strict control over the SSCT functioning [8] and can remove its members or co-opt new ones.

Among the members there is R.V. Janakiramaiah (younger brother of Sai Baba) who played an active role in notorious murders in the Sai Baba temple in June 1993. This crime has not been properly investigated so far and is a shocking example of law violation by the SSO, the SSCT and Sai Baba himself.

Another member is Indulal Shah who is noticed to deceive people publicly. For example, after an official UNESCO withdrawal from an educational conference held in Prashanthi Nilayam in September 2000, I. Shah publicly called that conference the UNESCO conference that amounts to a deliberate lie. [9]

Sai Baba himself after numerous allegations leveled against him in mass media and on the Internet comes into question. Even though Sai Baba sometimes tries to distance himself from the SSCT [10], his active role in the SSCT activities and in June 1993 murders can’t be denied.


[1] In the original Charter of the Sathya Sai Organisation we can find the following significant words: “In the event of any difficulty or dispute arising with respect to the affairs of the Organisations or the interpretations of application of rules, Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust shall be the final authority to give a decision on the same and the Central Trust’s decision shall be final, conclusive and binding on all parties.” (p.5)

[2] The following notice was published in Sanathana Sarathi, v. 39, November 1996, p.301:

“The public and devotees are hereby informed that the only Institutions sponsored, run, managed, supported and/or approved by the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust under divine guidance of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba are -

(a) Sri Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospital, Prashanthi Nilayam.

(b) Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning with its campuses at Prashanthi Nilayam, Anantapur and Brindavan, Whitefield, Bangalore.

(c) The General Hospital at Prashanthi Nilayam.

(d) Sri Sathya Sai Hospital at Whitefield.

(e) Sri Sathya Sai Secondary and Primary School at Prashanthi Nilayam.

(f) Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Vihar at Muddenahalli, Chickaballapur, Kolar District.

No other Institution under any name and style, including those in the areas surrounding Prashanthi Nilayam and Brindavan at Whitefield, is linked or connected in any manner with us, nor do they have any our approval.”

[3] There is a clear correspondence between the donated amount (133 million USD) and expenditure per month (1.33 million USD), so it is quite correct to suppose that the donor in fact knew about expenditure rate. Besides that it is quite possible that the donor had some negotiations with the SSCT before sending such a huge sum of money.

[4] Among educational institutions Sai Baba mentions Rajahmundry which was not mentioned earlier among the institutions under SSCT supervision (see note [2]).

[5] According to SB’s words the interest should be 1% per month or 12% per year to cover expenditures.

[6] See R.Priddy’s article “SB’s Constant Exaggeration of Numbers” on this site

[7] The only published mention about the members of the SSCT has been found in the book “Sri Sathya Sai Baba and the Press”, S.P. Ruhela, Umang Paperbacks, New Delhi, 1997, pp171-210. The list of members is based on the information given by Mr Justice P. N. Bhagavati in his talk on Gurupurnima (July, 1993) but Sanathana Sarathi (July, 1993) did not published the list.

List of members of the Advisory Council of Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust

( July, 1993):

1. Mr Justice P. N. Bhagavati, Former Chief Justice, Supreme Court of India;

2. Mr Justice Eradi, former Judge of the Supreme Court of India;

3. Rajmata of Navangar, Air Chief Marshal;

4. 0. P. Mehra, former Chief of Air Staff;

5. Sri S. P. Joga Rao, former Chief Engineer of HAL;

6. Sri Indulal Shah, a prominent Chartered Accountant of Bombay;

7. Sri R. V. Janakiramaiah, a leading citizen of Puttaparthi;

8. Sri V. Srinivasan, an Industrialist and a former President of the Confederation of Indian Industries;

9. Shri K. R. Prasad, a well-known Income Tax Lawyer of Bangalore.

[8] “I do not misspend even a single naya paisa of Trust money. Nor is there any room in our Trust for anyone else to draw money. Every cheque has to be signed by two persons. On every cheque, nobody can sign without My signature on it.” (3.07.1993. Sathya Sai Speaks v.XXVI, p.260)

[9] See S.Badaev’s article “UNESCO conference without UNESCO” on this website

[10] “At a meeting of the Central Trust yesterday, I told the members including Sri Indulal Shah, that I had no interest in property. Do not involve me in any connection with these properties. I do not wish to have any connection with money or property. My only concern is with my devotees. Telling them all this, I signed the papers.” (1.01.1998, Sanathana Sarathi v.41, January 1998, p.4)

(March 03, 2002)

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