Colonel Joga Rao - closest Sathya Sai Baba servitor for decades - did not believe in his miracles!
Ex-Indian Army Colonel Joga Rao (deceased in 2002) was one of the closest helpers of Sathya Sai Baba for decades, so much so that he often lived in Sathya Sai Baba's various apartments and could always come and go as he wished in Sathya Sai Baba's rooms. He also very often presided over the conditions of the interview room before and after interviews. He was masterful at planning and getting engineering projects done, managing the work-force (and arranging the kickbacks from contractors!). No doubt, Sathya Sai Baba made great use of Colonel Joga Rao, whom he honoured by giving an address about him. In his own birthday discourse in 1990, he made a great fuss of him as working for Swami "tirelessly night and day" and thus being "a karma yogi" (Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 23, p. 293). Sathya Sai Baba said the Sathya Sai Central Trust wanted to honour him, and presented him with golden kadiyams which he tied round the wrists. (This was circa five years before he finally sacked Joga Rao from the Central Trust for corruption after a severe prior warning to him and others made in public on the temple veranda!). Above all, the most astonishing thing is that Colonel Joga Rao was from the start a non-believer in Sathya Sai Baba's 'miracles'. To my great surprise, I was told so by V.K. Narasimhan one day during one of our many private conversations through the years!
Sathya Sai Baba 's closest servitor a magician's backstage man!This seemed most incredible to me. VKN thought that many people knew that and said it was no secret among his ashram associates! It most certainly was a secret as far as I and anyone I knew in the Organisation were concerned, and would also be so were it not for my having made this known on the Internet. I have been apprised that many read my pages to get some proper information, as the spiritual propaganda is so boringly repetitive and everyone who knows what goes on behind the scenes is so tight-lipped and treading with extreme caution lest they be apprehended. The truth about Joga Rao's standpoint is not even hinted at in a single book where he is mentioned. One can understand why, if one considers the cultist nature of the movement and the sheer crisis this would cause if published. It means that he considered all the miracles to be fake, and he was in a prime position to know this. He must also have been entirely complicit in this fraud. Well, that news simply stunned me, for I was still a follower, even though I had reservations about more and more of the events I observed and the statements Sathya Sai Baba made as time went on.
My mind could just not take it in, the rationalizing side of my brain rose its heckles and sought for ways out of the paradox. It was in the mid-90s one day that Narasimhan asked me "What do you think of Joga Rao?" I replied that I had not met him so could not form an opinion. He said that he meant what did I think of his not believing in the Sai Baba miracles.He then explained that Joga Rao had told Sathya Sai Baba from the very start that he refused to believe in the miracles or other big claims like omniscience, but would willingly serve Sathya Sai Baba because of the good he was doing. I later received some wholly independent confirmation of Joga Rao's skepticism too: a Norwegian expert on eco-sewerage systems who I knew very well, Mr. Terje Nedland, was in an international group formed at the ashram which set about planning a new waste disposal system for Prashanthi Nilayam. They were shown around the possible ashram sites by Col. Joga Rao. I cannot doubt Nedland's word on this incident: there was some question about what was the right solution to something and one of the group said, "We should ask Swami" to which Joga Rao told the group, "And what does Baba know about engineering?' Evidently he had a very low opinion of Baba's supposed knowledge of everything! Should Joga Rao not know, the man who designed and built most of both ashrams and was daily with Sathya Sai Baba in various capacities (including as his letter bearer and/or handkerchief carrier)? (Apropos, the eco-friendly system was never built as the donations made for that purpose only were appropriated without comment by the Central Trust for other purposes, according to the then-Central Coordinator of UK, Aimé Levy, who himself solicited the money and worked to aid the world-wide planning group and whose word I cannot doubt either. After masses of voluntary planning work, the whole task was instead given to a cheap Bangalore contractor who simply dug an open cesspit that literally stinks out most of the 'Abode of Supreme Peace' on hot days with a most ghastly stench! See the documentation and report here)
Here is seen one of the supposed 'materializations' of a large gold statuette, taken from the sand before a group of admiring devotees. A film taken at the time (which suggests that the whole thing was well planned)
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KUhqQmxySU&NR=1&feature=endscreen). In the film, Sai Baba sits on the sand surrounded by mostly young Indians. He carefully heaps sand together before him and eventually is seen to dig his hands into the mound for some time before he brings out the idol, which was about 10 inches tall.. Why the need to heap the sand? To give the impression that the idol materialized within the heap. However, the tip of the idol could easily be grasped below the heap and the whole brought up. In one case it was said that the idol was very hot as Sai Baba threw it aside to cool off (suggesting it had been created as molten gold). Hoever, it would have become considerably heated had it been lying near the surface of the sand for hours already in the heat of India's sun... gold absorbs heat easily.
The literature makes clear that Sai Baba's engineer and closest servitor in those days, Colonel Joga Rao, (and who V.K. Narsimhan insisted did not believe in any miracles!) arranged these excursions, evidently finding a suitable place in advance. Joga Rao would have indicated secretly to SB where to sit and surround himself by invited guests - found some spot with sand and dug down to produce golden statues of gods and such like - with Joga Rao attending - makes one really think! One can certainly suspect him of being a party to fraud in placing the statuette at a predetermined spot. Joga Rao was present at an innumerable number of Sathya Sai Baba 's interviews, excursions and visits for decades. As mentioned, he was one of those who prepared the interview room for Sathya Sai Baba before interviews, and I saw him come out just before I went in to interviews myself. How and why he disbelieved the miracles is worse than a brain-teaser for devotees who still like to exercise their brains. How can one credit this information? I could not draw the obvious conclusions for several years afterwards, until numerous other covered-up facts emerged on a large scale. Those believers who only hear accounts of what goes on behind the closed doors of the temple and bedrooms at anything from second- to a n'th-hand means the vast majority (excluding a handful of adults and an unknown number of students)! They will doubtless wonder if Joga Rao could have been deluded (by Swami's maya or 'illusion') or too ignorant of the divine, or what.. surely not a down-to-earth man? His prominence in ashram affairs and proximity to Sathya Sai Baba comes up frequently in the literature, not least in N. Kasturi's 'official' biography (i.e. glorified hagiography) of Sathya Sai Baba. How could he remain such a skeptic` yet continue to work for Sai Baba only because he wanted somehow to help improve catastrophically bad Indian society? I leave to each person to solve in their own way.
V.K. Narasimhan had no real resonance with Joga Rao. He told me that he had once had to share a room with him due to space shortage at Kodaikanal and had been forced to hear barrack room sexual jokes from Joga Rao all day long! This seemed equally unbelievable to me at the time, but Narasimhan explained that this too was known to many and that (unmarried) Joga Rao had brought his bawdy humour (as nice Indians' call filthy jokes) with him when he left the Indian Army. This is perhaps not so remarkable, poor fellow, but what is revealing about it is that he could become such a close attendant of Sathya Sai Baba. I did not put two and two together straight away back then in 1996 and see how radically wrong so many things close to Sathya Sai Baba were, so much quite other than I - and nearly everyone I knew - believed in so innocently. I also heard from others who knew him, that Joga Rao's chief entertainment was lavish, long banquets, often with many guests... to be what Sathya Sai Baba so denigratingly calls a bhoga seems totally incongruous in one who was virtually his closest helper, member of the Sathya Sai Central Trust since 1970, 'karma yogi' and so on. Joga Rao's 'sacking' by Sathya Sai Baba from his Central Trust about one year after the 1993 murders incident furore. Narasimhan told me in some detail that the reasons was Joga Rao's taking of kickbacks from building contractors. A friend of mine had previously heard Sathya Sai Baba on the veranda very angrily and loudly telling Joga Rao and another high official that he knew what they were up too and had warned them three times (of what he did not say) and that the next time it happened, they would be straight out!
I, Robert Priddy, swear on my personal honour that what I have stated here is strictly factual and is as accurate as I am able to make it. I tell these things only for the sake of protecting the vulnerable public from fraudulence, disappointment, loss and worse. The completely sold-out yea-sayers around Sathya Sai Baba who attack me for this do not dare really to investigate the truth of the reports, let alone confront their God Creator of the Universe with such petty matters!