PRINCE CHARLES, PRINCESS DIANA - AND SATHYA SAI BABA
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I joined the Sathya Sai Organisation in 1983 and soon learned from the Indian immigrant Mr. Manubhai Patel of Wembley - who ran a Sai Baba bookshop there - how he had since the 1960s been regularly sending books about Sathya Sai Baba to Prince Charles, c/o the Palace. He had even received a formal letter of thanks. At the same time, Manubhai Patel told that he had heard it said by some Indian who were present to the wedding of Charles and Diana in St. Pauls Cathedral that - as he had passed them - he had said 'Sai Ram' (the usual greeting between Sai devotees). Many followers of Sai Baba doubtless wanted to believe that and the 'story' was circulated widely. The likelihood of it being a fact is extremely low - that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales - Britain's defender of the faith (Anglican Christian faith) would utter such words under the glare of the world's TV cameras and invasive microphones! Such wishful beliefs are food and drink to many Sai devotees, as some viewing of dedicated Sai Baba sites on the web will clearly show. However, the idea is not entirely without a certain back-up, for Prince Charles certainly has been very interested in Sathya Sai Baba, at least during the 1990s (and almost certainly before that). Britain's national newspaper the Daily Express published an report in 1990 (though unconfirmed by official sources) that a representative of Prince Charles had written to Sai Baba asking if the Prince might visit Sai Baba, and that this request had been turned down by a letter from the ashram authorities.Did Charles, Prince of Wales ever visit Sathya Sai Baba? Since the late 1980s I had heard rumours from some devotees in Prashanthi Nilayam that Prince Charles had secretly visited Sathya Sai Baba as part of one of his visits to India when he was allowed to avoid the international press for some period.When V.K. Narasimhan told me he had once med Prince Charles as a very young man, I thought to ask him about the rumours, even though I had long discounted them myself, I could not be certain. Narasimhan informed me (sometime in the mid-1990s) that Prince Charles had certainly never written to nor visited Sai Baba. However, some years later around 1996, he mentioned one day that Prince Charles (or possible his aide-de-camp) had written a letter to Sathya Sai Baba, which Sai Baba had shown him and then asked him if he would answer it. VKN was clearly on forbidden territory for he excused himself from not telling the exact contents of that letter. He replied to Prince Charles on behalf of Sathya Sai Baba and told him they had met somewhere by the sea on a fishing observation expedition when the Prince was but a teenager (and no fish deigned to turn up). He had later received a friendly yet rather formal note in reply, as far as I recall. (See from my notes made at the time about what V.K. Narasimhan wrote to Charles)
Of course, it is well known (and much publicised by the Sai movement!) that The architect who Isaac Tigrett brought to Sai Baba to design the hospital he had donated was Keith Crichlow, later chosen by Prince Charles as head of his Prince of Wales’ Institute of Architecture in the UK. Sai Baba got Crichlow to design the Hospital in a particular shape and style (partly also modelled on the lines of Buckingham Palace). Keith Crichlow was a visitor to Sathya Sai prior to his death and is still connected to Prince Charles.
Humble and admiring foreign devotees (hand-picked as such) were granted the supposed great privilege of attending Sathya Sai's evening talks and by students at his Kodaikanal ashram for about a fortnight in 1992. Narasimhan was present as usual and said his piece there too. There was some bhajan singing - and all was recorded and put out by Erik Henricksen in 6 cassettes available for members of the Sai Organization to purchase. Not included in the recordings was the news from a prominent India devotee who Baba asked to tell how Prince Charles had said that he desired to get ‘Swami’s darshan’. The Prince of Wales has recently visited Bangalore (in 1990 or 91, staying at the Windsor Manor Hotel). He'd been about to hold an address when he learned that the said gentleman was a close follower of Sathya Sai Baba. This man told how Charles had taken him aside and spoken to him for about half-an-hour about Sathya Sai Baba, keeping his audience waiting the while. Prince Charles had reportedly said that he'd visit Sai Baba, except that the British Government was against it on security grounds. Yet Prince Charles was moving about in South India without security problems, so perhaps the real reason was a matter of state and due to the involvement of MI5 (who later questioned David Bailey in detail). However, that was what the select band of Western devotees, which included the long-term and privileged US devotees. Robert and Rita Bruce - who were then sharing accommodation in Kodaikanal with the current US Sathya Sai Organization's leader, Dr. J. Hislop, were also present and heard this, which they confirmed to my wife and I. (We had in fact earlier been invited to share their accommodation and Hislop's, but we did not wish to be in Kodaikanal at that time).
When asked about Charles and Diana in an interview in 1996, Sathya Sai Baba had said "They are a disgrace to their country!" These was a verbatim report by Robert Bruce to me not long after the event!
One may speculate as to why Sai Baba thought this due to the separation and not least perhaps because of the leaked 'phone calls between Probably the break-up of their marriage was the big sin, though no doubt news of the much publicised tacky phone calls by Prince Charles to Lady Parker-Bowles had reached his ears too (or - according to his constant boast - he knows everything in the tiniest detail anyhow, even before it happens).
This shows how indiscriminate Sai Baba is in his sweeping condemnation, for to call Diana a disgrace to her country is completely against world opinion! It shows again just how out of touch Sai Baba is. One could argue he was against her asking for a divorce, but this does not fit with the fact that, as one example among several, he has also sanctioned and even encouraged divorces (eg. Diane Baskin’s and also a Danish friend of my wife and I).
Sathya Sai Baba may well have simply been jealous of the genuine world fame of Prince Charles and especially the adulation that Princess Diana then enjoyed across the world (far, far more than his limited fame). He may even have expected them to have rushed to his "lotus feet" long since? His published boasting that the whole world loves him and will eventually have to come to his holy feet would appear yet emptier of substance. Had Charles and Diana had been such 'a disgrace to their country', one may ask what of his own secret activities for which he dare not stand up and answer? Is this unaccountability in the face of such weighty charges of serial homosexual assaults - including on defenseless minors in his colleges and in private interviews - and his widely reported complicity in cold-blooded murder not itself a major disgrace to India? (see BBC's 'The Secret Swami' shown widely on the BBC and given many most supportive newspaper reviews in UK, which indicated how the public would react had Charles visited that guru).
Another member of the British Royals, the Duchess of York (also known as 'Fergie,) visited Sai Baba at his ashram early in February 1997 and was granted two interviews without any waiting, being more important for Sathya Sai Baba than any genuine devotees, of course. This again shows the constant striving for influence and status with the famous and rich.
Both the UK and Indian press reported on the visit. A (former?) Sai follower, Terrie, who has assisted with the Sunrise website wrote me, "I happened to be at the ashram during her visit, where the ladies were far more interested in having darshan of Fergie than darshan of Sathya Sai Baba. They not only craned their necks toward Fergie during darshan, they also lined up in front of her after darshan (right on the walkway Sai Baba takes when he leaves), with notebooks and pieces of paper in hand for her autograph. "
This adulation of Sai devotees for big shots is often greater than for the guru himself, going by the eagerness with eyes glued to such famous visitors, and my wife and I have seen the same at visits by the Indian President and Prime Minister. No so surprising when one has watched Sathya Sai Baba go through the same old darshan routines and extremely repetitive discourses day after day?
Read the Sunday People newspaper's report on how the attempt to induct Prince Charles into the cult was foiled by MI6