by Robert C. Priddy

The inevitable step-by-step deconstruction of a faith/belief system, once held in good faith, but subsequently learned to be a result of compounded deceits by Sathya Sai Baba and active ‘self-indoctrination’ Comments, all in royal blue text, originate from 2006 onwards. As far as I can tell, none of the facts stated are untrue, but they tended to be weighted or colouring in my presentation of them by interpretations I made. On the whole I was interested in presenting a positive account of Sathya Sai Baba and his works (avoiding undue criticism of any kind as unworthy, in accordance with the ideals I then held as befitting a good follower of what I though was his own ideal behaviour).

Once being brought into the sphere of Sathya Sai Baba, I have had the great benefit of meeting a number of other people who have told me how they have been drawn to him in remarkably different ways, yet often just as unfathomably as in my case. In quite a few instances, people have come to learn how Sathya Sai has been pro­tecting them, or how he has otherwise been involved in their lives, long before they first came to him, and sometimes before they ever heard of him.

One feature that is common to many of these accounts is the combination of subtlety and intricacy of events through which Baba draws followers to him and eventually makes himself known to them. Though no two personal histories are identical, I shall re­count some typical milestones on my way, hoping to convey what I now know of the underlying "drama of destiny," in which I was the player but was certainly not the director. I shall present evidence for my confirmed belief that it was Sathya Sai Baba who, unbeknown to myself, guided me on the course of my life.

Comment: This assertion no longer has validity for me. The belief seemed confirmed as a result of having developed faith in a range of supernatural causes, but above all in the omniscience and omnipotence of Sathya Sai Baba. In this keen faith I set out to present as honestly as I could the very intricate sets of events that I reasoned had led me to recognise Sai Baba in the most positive light that then seemed to illumine my life. In so doing I did not take a skeptical attitude towards my experiences. So I suppose I qualified for the first time in my life as a religious zealot, since this ‘positive thinking’ is the one-sided agenda of all true believers and can be seen overwhelmingly in every one of the many hundreds of books by followers of Sai Baba to the exclusion of all but their skimpiest of critical thinking, at best.

The inner journey toward India began long before I realized that it was underway or where it was leading. An "internal review" of everything informs me unequivocally that it was not simply some set of chance developments. Through about forty years, the way was strewn with events that became gradually more extraordinary and more meaningfully interrelated, especially from about age 35 on­ward. (Comment: That is still a fact I recognize)  These included the quite common fortuitous coincidences, or events, that defy all statistical laws of averages—those that C. G. Jung called "synchronicities"—wherein deeply-felt or long-held wishes of spiritual significance can be fulfilled as if by a miracle. It is interesting that Aldous Huxley's writings confirmed such things when he wrote that, "the divine mind may choose to communicate with finite minds either by manipulating the world of men and things in a way which the particular mind to be reached at that mo­ment will find meaningful, or else there may be direct communica­tion by something resembling thought transference."'

Comment: The reason for my coming to credit him as someone Divine with Godlike qualities are made clear by events described in the rest of this book, but I have quite different explanations to most of them  now. Through a process of many years of interpretation and thinking, I searched out events that would fit the belief, and ignored any others which spoke otherwise. I was not as naïve as it may seem, because I came to learn that the whole basis of my belief was Sai Baba’s deceptions and inculcation based on them. This is the classic case of subtle and sustained  self-programming through faith and a ‘teaching’ which has just such a process as one of its main means to attaining a following and the fame, power, sex and money this brings with it.

My fascination for India began during a period of some turmoil and suffering while at an English boarding school in my boyhood, after my father had left our family for South Africa, when the make-believe world of two books became a consolation to me. The first was a wartime edition of Jungle John, by John Budden, the story of a boy, told in authentic detail with the aid of pen-and-ink sketches. John was called to live with his father, a forestry officer, in the wild jungles and plains of central India, where he was looked after by a sort of guru, a most kindly elderly tribesman, wise in local lore and in the ways of animals.

The second book, My Friend Mr. Leakey, was about a fabulous magician who could transport himself (and any acquaintances he chose) across cities and continents at will. Among other fanciful flights, he took his young friend on a magic carpet tour of the Far East, including a visit to India, where he learned a Sanskrit formula as a magic mantra. He materialized whatever was wanted, even tak­ing out-of-season fruits from a tree that grew on his table! This is the sort of impossibility all children wish to believe in, but it took about forty years to discover that this is not impossible!

Comment: At that time I was not yet aware of the sheer extent to which religious beliefs are capable of causing psychological transformations even in highly trained and intelligent persons. Transformations, however, which now appear to me as very definitely unsound as a whole. They tend to cause an emotional return to simple, uncomplicated emotions and guarantees which are of a childish stamp and which revive - or even recreate - dependencies to lead one towards an increasing loss of touch with truth and reality. Only by having been induced to dive in deeply and wholeheartedly myself, despite my scientific and philosophical training and skepticism based on wide life experience, was I able to ‘walk the walk’ as it were, and experience a powerful faith with its concomitant worldwide movement from within. As an academic, I had been an outsider with little grasp of the degree to which perception can become distorted through genuine involvement.
The spiritual interests of the author, the once-famous genetics professor J. B. S. Haldane, are evident in that he once said that the Gayatri Mantra (into which it so happens that Sathya Sai Baba ini­tiates young boys at the thread ceremony) ought to be carved on the doors of every laboratory in the world to save man from perdi­tion. Haldane left Europe to live in India in his latter years, humor­ously commenting that "fifty years in socks is enough."

It is extremely difficult for most persons who have no direct experience of Sathya Sai Baba to credit what is, however, a well-documented fact: that he once very frequently used to produce, for the wonder and joy of those who were still in the process of becoming his devotees, edible out-of-season fruits from the so-called "wish-fulfilling tree" on a hill in Puttaparthi. Yet, like hundreds of thousands of others before me, I have myself witnessed how he is still fully active as the wish-fulfilling tree himself, producing both material and immaterial boons for those who come to him, includ­ing my wife and I. Now and again he is reported by persons whose integrity is beyond question actually to "pick" the occasional fresh fruit out of the air in the relative privacy of the Prashanthi Nilayam interview room. Of course, I do not think of Baba as a magician, amazing as his manifestations and his many types of extrasensory and paranormal abilities are in themselves, because finding this holy, universal teacher means far more to me than the realization of child­hood dreams and the longing for the miraculous to come true.

Though I never forgot those books or their titles, their effect on my conscious mind gradually wore off, of course. Yet now and again during adult life I would wish to find these books again, having left them behind somewhere long ago. Occasionally while visiting En­gland I would search through a secondhand bookshop for them.

Not until I was 42 years old, in 1978, did I again come across Jungle John. By then, on my search for truth I had more or less emerged fairly unscathed from many years of intellectual discipline, which had burdened my mind with all kinds of science and philos­ophy, Marxism and philosophical anthropology, existential psycho­analysis, metascience, and so on—an almost endless list. One day, I was in a bookshop in Stratford-upon-Avon when something prompted me to think that, if I were to reach out for the very first volume I could lay hands on, it would be that book.

I reached out a hand blindly and—believe it or not—it was Jun­gle John!  It was a fine, first-edition, hardcover volume. Its appear­ing just after coming to mind may seem to many to be no more than coincidence. To see it as evidence of the workings of a higher power would, for many people, be regarded as make-believe. For me, however, this instant connection of thought and its literal man­ifestation fitted remarkably into a larger pattern of events that were evolving in my life. At the time, such occurrences helped me to sus­tain some faith in the possibility of interventions in worldly affairs by supernatural agency. I never entirely lost openness to the mysti­cal, despite all the ingenuities of scientific arguments.

Comment: This incident shows how coincidences – which may involve some kind of psychic sensitivity – are not uncommon and occur quite independently of any guru, such as Sai Baba. My long-held strong wish to see that book again for sentimental reasons may have engendered the intensity of intuition in that case. I have lost most of my faith in many things I once regarded as ‘paranormal’ having experienced and analysed them intensively and followed developments in the latest sciences which are beginning to provide most likely explanations to many such, especially visions of remarkable sorts, through neuro psychology and research into the confusions of dreaming and waking states, hypnotic ‘suggestion’, intense concentration and other observable brain conditions.

That book proved to hold true-to-life descriptions of Indian life and an intensity of subtle reminiscences for me. Though the natu­rally inexplicable manner of its appearance was perhaps of minor significance in itself, it was one of many such incidents that began to build up, one upon another, in subsequent years. (And the mo­ment I wrote the word "many" in the above sentence, the phone rang. It was a friend who wanted to tell me of a book called Mira­cles Are My Visiting Cards, by Eriendur Haraldsson. The above sen­tence's meaning as a whole was therefore instantly and concretely demonstrated, confirming the sentence I was writing when it oc­curred! Haraldsson's book deals with miracles by Sathya Sai Baba.)

Comment: Unfortunately, Haraldsson was not allowed any kind of independent scientific investigation of Sai Baba’s ‘manifestations’, he did not even get permission to video-tape this (which would surely have revealed the sleight-of-hand which it is now widely known and recognized that Sai Baba has been using in many other recorded instances since then. Since the criticism of Sai Baba and the many testimonials of his fraudulence and sexual abuses have become widespread, Haraldsson has remained silent and has never answered those who criticise him for NOT investigating Sai Baba scientifically, but relying largely on reports by often uneducated Indian followers. He has not investigate the counter-evidence and claims, which are considerable, nor has he seen fit to correct the false impressions his profitable books have spread very wise and far. It is evident his prestige as a serious scientist is – at least in relation to Sai Baba’s materializations, seriously threatened. However, he DID expose through sound research the fraudulence of Sai Baba in claiming to have resurrected Walter Cowan from certified death).

Due to my parents' breakup, and so I could finish my school­ing, I was taken in by an aunt and uncle because they felt a duty, being my godparents. They were Anglicans and made me attend church weekly. The grammar school environment and my own ob­servations caused me to lose faith in much of the Christian doctrine. Once, when I was very confused and downhearted about all this, I found that all I could pray for was to not be one of those who, ac­cording to a Canon Collins who preached at Hornchurch, would be too hard-hearted to recognize Jesus if he were to come again. Thereafter I had a dream that seemed to promise something so amazing that my spirits were lifted greatly. I can no longer proper­ly recall its contents, but I have somehow been increasingly prompt­ed to recall that I was visited by some figure who reassured me and said that he, Jesus' Father, is himself here on Earth and that I would see him one day. However, as clear and intense as the experience was, I soon realized instinctively that if I were to tell my aunt or anyone in the church, I would be corrected, possibly ridiculed, and the dream might even be taken as an evil and demonic visitation. So I never told anyone about it.

Comment: Well, I now consider that the dream can easily have been a construction of the subconscious mind. One cannot rely on dreams as giving sound evidence of anything much except the ticking over of the brain during sleep, as even psychoanalysts recognize in their insistence on the corroboration of dream interpretations by substantial facts and ‘symptoms’  in their patients’ waking existence.

The memory of that reassuring and amazing dream faded; may­be I could not really believe in it myself—but I first recalled it de­cades later, some time after Sai Baba spoke to an elderly gentleman who was present with us during an interview. Turning toward us where we sat together, Baba said to him, "I have been with you for forty years." The man literally started in surprise! Baba knew that he had read about Shirdi Sai Baba forty years previously in a book, which I think was The Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East. Baba began to quote the title, too, whereupon the astonished man remembered and joined in to recite it together with him.

While not ostensibly addressing himself to me, Baba's words reactivated my memory. It so happened that my boyhood dream had occurred very close to forty years prior to that time. Persons have often reported how Baba says something to someone that also applies with equal meaning to another within earshot. This he has sometimes confirmed later. He even has addressed people who can make no sense whatever of his words, while someone beside them immediately sees its meaning and knows very well that it is ad­dressed specifically to them. I have not so far had the opportunity to ask Baba personally about my boyhood dream, for the time with him is precious and only for vital matters.

Comment: This is again the product of a quite intense desire to find personal evidence to support the many beliefs about Sai Baba’s abilities to know things from people’s past. Looked at dispassionately, as I am now able, it seems a very shaky supposition I present there… there is so much assumed about Sai Baba that it becomes almost ridiculous to my clearer present eye.

The first time I heard speak of the Sai Baba avatar,2 to the best of my knowledge, was when I was at sea. Likewise, my first social encounter with the East came at age 17, when I joined the British Merchant Navy as an apprentice deck officer in 1953. As my mother was ill and unable to house or keep me, going to sea seemed to be the only safe option for getting board, lodging, and perhaps devel­oping future prospects.

My first encounter with the Indian crew on this ship was felici­tous! While boarding the tanker London Glory, riding at anchor in the Mersey, a traveling companion and I were helped by the assem­bled Indian crew in such a genuinely loving manner that I can still feel the afterglow! I think the lasting effect of that heartfelt wel­come illustrates how loving friendship that springs from natural spirituality can strike an undying chord, as it did in me. The Indi­ans' interest in us, and their blessings for our futures, was quite un­precedented in my brief experience, and it really helped to allay my misgivings and nervous anticipations about what lay ahead.

We were asked if we were Christians, to which I could reply "yes" with some truth. Though I had shunned the Anglican church once I was away from the care of my godparent aunt, I still felt attached to the essentials of the teachings of Christ at that time, though not to very much to Christian dogma.

The stewards were Goanese Christians, and, apart from a few Muslims and Sikhs, the deck crew were mostly Hindus, all of whom bore themselves with an air of humble dignity and respectfulness for others, which I realized was not mere servility to sahibs, as the En­glish officers still saw it in 1953, despite several years of Indian in­dependence.

It was soon clear to me that Indians were very religiously in­clined, both in worship and in daily practice..(Comment ‘religiously inclined in daily practice’ is definitely an exaggeration made out of my positive feelings towards Indians after becoming a devotee. When I reflect over it now I can recall that their daily practice was nothing out of the run of the mill shipboard duties and their leisure was spent in cooking, chattering, listening to a wind-up gram. And that kind of thing. Doubtless some of they prayed, but this only became known about to  deck officers – among whom I was also counted - when a Mohammedan came to the bridge to ask in which direction Mecca lay) Strange as the mixture of religions aboard ship was, there were no conflicts, (Comment: but there were occasional heated arguments and talking behind the back, for Muslims would tell me how primitive the Hindus were, and vice-versa. The Sikhs and the Christian Goanese (stewards) were clearly sometimes quite  unappreciative of the other religions).  and I learned that Indians are extremely tolerant of others' opinions. They also made me feel at home wherever I met them on my duties about the vessel. I would be invited to "down tools" and share a rice and cur­ry, crouching about a communal plate on the teak deck near their cooking galley—quite unlike the somewhat formal dinners in the officers' mess. I now and again visited them in my leisure hours for tea, sweetmeats, and some Indian music.

The best English-speaker among them was a young man of about 20 called Hari, with whom I became friends on account of a shared interest in Aldous Huxley. He held a B.A. in English from an Indian university. As I was in charge of the ship's library—a ragged collection by charity of "The Flying Angel Mission to Seamen"—he asked me to lend him some mind-improving literature for his leisure hours. Unfortunately, those who made the company rules assumed that all foreign crew members were potential thieves and thus banned them from the services of the lending library.

The Second Officer saw me exchanging books one day and soon ordered me to restrict lending, telling me that the service was only for officers. I explained that the borrower was above suspicion and that he had a B.A. in English. This was my mistake. The Sec­ond Officer's pride was badly wounded. He swore in anger that he might just as well be a "BE," too ("bloody fool"). He strongly for­bade me to lend out even a tattered volume.

To save Hari's feelings—and to avoid unpleasantness myself— I told him nothing and still lent to him on the quiet by taking books down to his cabin. We were not close, but there was genuine friend­ship. He told me once that there was a "wise man" aboard the ship, a yogi of whom he spoke with real respect. He said that this guru had spoken of me in a positive way and had said that I could meet him if I wished. As I recall it, the claim was made that this man could do things such as see people's spiritual natures, read minds, and even foresee future events. Hari would not tell me, however, which of the crew this person was. If I wished to see him, then I would find out; otherwise he would not tell me.

I was naturally curious, though quite unconvinced of the claims, the likes of which I had come across only in fiction. The matter was not pressed, but Hari mentioned it a few times casually later on. He told me about yogic breathing to the mental accompaniment of So-Ham (literally "He is I") saying So (meaning "He" or "Divinity") on the intake of breath, and Ham (meaning the individual "I") on the out-breath, as a means of reaching spiritual wisdom, if it is done nonstop. I soon objected that this would stop one from doing any­thing else whatever. He replied along the lines that the brain could handle its other tasks at the same time, for it has a potential double-function. This I tried, but I did not find it as easy and enjoyable as he said it was, and—since it gave no results for me other than tedium— I soon decided it was rather a "mindless" practice.

At that time I did not understand that it was supposed precise­ly to make one "mindless," by stilling both the rational and irratio­nal processes of thought so that the suprarational could enter awareness. Most of this I assume he had from the supposed yogi, who may or may not have been instructing him to pass these ideas on to me.

Comment: Since that time I have learned how this is a common kind of approach by would-be gurus and spiritual masters in India. There is nothing whatever remarkable in such a suggestion made by religious Hindus (who variously believe that God is manifested in one or another of many hundreds of yogis, swamis, mahatmas, maharishis, avatars, saints, godmen, godwomen, holy persons etc. ad. inf.

I also recall my skepticism when Hari told me about the Indi­an concept of "avatars," and especially that there had been many of these supposed incarnations of God. Though I no longer accepted the likelihood of Christ having performed miracles, I could just about agree, after some argument, that he might be regarded as an incarnation of a divine spirit. The only doctrine I knew then was that Christ was the son of God, but that he was not himself God, who was essentially either the Father or the Holy Spirit.

I was quite unprepared to cope, therefore, with the sophisticat­ed conception of avatarhood that Hari espoused. He held that both Krishna, Rama, and at least several others were actual incarnations of the Holy Spirit, having come down to Earth, as God, by volun­tarily taking on various human forms. He asked me whether it were not so that Christ was born a human being and was thus a "son of God." Then he added that, although Christ's incarnation was sure­ly similar to that of Indian avatars, the Indian avatars were actually born as God Himself in human form. Sathya Sai teaches just this, that Christ's realization of unity with the Father God was attained taking a stand for what was right. Faced with this dilemma, I felt weak at heart and in spirit before the formidable challenge: one boy against the entrenched views of a dozen adult officers, on whom I was dependent for everything and under whose definitive orders I must sail. Even in the Merchant Navy, I knew that refusing to com­ply with Captain's orders was formally defined as "mutiny," and I had no inkling of my actual rights, if any, for these were a mystery ruled over by the Company and the Captain. The result was really a foregone conclusion: I capitulated.

That was the end, virtually, of that spiritual companionship on my first apparent "passage to India" (recalling here the essential contents of E. M. Forster's famous novel about India's mystery, spirituality, and also its interracial problems, A Passage to India). Some months later the Indian crew were relieved by a new comple­ment, and I was never able to take up any of the various genuine in­vitations, as the nearest our ship's passage took me to India during its far-flung voyages was Colombo in Ceylon.

Shipboard loneliness and great distances really did make the heart grow fonder, and it also added to the intensity of longings. I had to learn a good deal about how to live with myself when cast on my own mental resources. In the fifteen months during which I had daily contact, however curtailed, with a variety of Indian peo­ple, I feel that something of their being, some of the essence of their ancient culture was subtly awakened in me, perhaps by some deeper affinity. I could follow the idea, so rooted in Indian life, that whatever one's country or background, each person somehow shares in the selfsame spirit or higher soul and thus always deserves others' respect. The loving kindness I could feel in some of them, and see in their faces, imparted in a natural way a genuine sense of spirituality.

Comment: This was an accurate description of the positive aspects of Indians and their culture which I encountered. However, I did not – while writing this book – intent to state any of the many negative impression I also received. I see no good purpose would be served by describing in any detail these incidents which reflected the untruthfulness, corruption, extreme caste discrimination and aggressive religious conflicts between Indians on religious issues on board.

All this added to my sense of personal expansion and of becom­ing more of a "man of the world," in a literal sense. More important, I had my first glimpse into the heart of another culture. At that impressionable and formative stage in my development, something of the all-inclusive spirit of Hinduism rubbed off on me. I now re­alize that those who grow up in India, as did Hari, are able to share in the richest and most ancient religious culture known in history, even though millions of modern Indians have turned their backs on the values of their own culture.

Comment: There is no doubt that India has a venerable and impressive history, but my encomium above was clearly over-influenced by my fascination with Sai Baba’s accounts of ancient India at the time of writing. I now realize these are without any sound basis, and that Sai Baba has fabulated over so many things that nothing he says can be taken as true without considerable independent documentary or scientific  backup.
In doubt as to whether or not I should include my early meet­ing with Indian culture in this present chapter, under the heading "My India," I went out to consult my wife who was clearing out the cellar. As she was cutting up a large cardboard carton that we had once used for packing books, I caught sight of a tiny piece of paper among the scraps and dust in the carton. On it was printed, in cap­itals, the single word, INDIA. I recognized at once that it came from the spine of a well-worn, wartime Penguin paperback copy of A Passage to India, which I had long possessed!

I cannot explain it, but this find released a great surge of emo­tion within me. Many long-buried memories of times and people I have known across the world mingled in an inner panorama of both sadness and joy. Besides, this "coincidence" was an unmistakable leela (literally, divine "sport" or "play"), which decided that I should include this chapter as "My Passage to India."

Comment: Above here one sees clearly how the emotional appeal overrode my judgement, causing me to read into small coincidences great significance, as is the standard way of all who have been long within Sai circles.

Though I had been tempted to travel as a seeker to India in the 1960s, I did not, partly out of a sense that it would be self-indul­gent to travel as a mere tourist and live in a poor country on local resources when I had nothing useful to offer in return, partly due to my ties at home, and not least due to a chronic lack of funds. In 1968 an American student called on me. He had heard from a pro­fessor at Oslo University, where I was finishing my philosophy de­gree, that I played the sitar and was interested in India. He eventually told me about a certain Sathya Sai Baba, insisting that this holy man often went out on the sands and materialized golden statuettes, rings, and so on.

I was a budding (or even blooming) Marxist at the time, and I thought he was either putting me on or else was slightly deranged. Perhaps he simply wanted to make himself interesting. I politely ig­nored his accounts. I remember clearly some of his words: "Why don't you go there. I'm sure he'd make you a ring—or anything else you want!" The very idea of leaving my wife and baby son behind while going all the way to India at great expense for something like that seemed absurd, for it was so clear that rings could not just be made out of thin air! In the end, he gave up, saying that he could see I didn't believe him and thought him cracked. He did not visit us again, so I suppose he gave me up as a hopeless case. In any case, my karma was evidently not ripe. It now seems as if Baba was playing with me. Sai Baba of Shirdi sometimes insisted, too, that those he was drawing to himself were like chickens with a string attached to their legs, by which he slowly but inevitably pulled them in!

Comment: Since Sai Baba has pretended to ‘make’ rings for a vast number of his followers – which can be conservatively estimated at about 3 per week  equalling 1,500 in just 10 of the 40 years he has been doing this, there is nothing unusual whatever in this visitor having suggested Sai Baba would do the same for me. No miracle at all! It is easy to see how I construed the facts after the event to seem to predict what occurred. This was not done deceitfully, but without sufficient critical sense or reservation of judgement, which are precisely  the qualities devotees are encouraged in many ways to throw overboard concerning Sai Baba and his works, once they wish to be seen as ‘good devotees’.

Now I can sympathize with that poor fellow—whose name I promptly forgot—and his effort to convey his priceless secret to me, for I have since been in his position time and again. In fact, very few of my longstanding acquaintances have much or anything at all to do with me now, apparently on account of my incredible "beliefs"!

Comment. Some of them are very relieved that I have researched these ‘incredible beliefs’ to the bottom and found them wanting, so we are firm friends again.

One further incident: around 1980 I was lecturing at Oslo Uni­versity on Spinoza and discussing his view that miracles cannot oc­cur, because that would be a contravention of the laws of nature that God has instituted. An elderly Indian gentleman attended that one lecture (midway in a fourteen-lecture series). Afterward he came up to me and politely told me that he disagreed with Spino­za, as he had seen many miracles in India, on a daily basis! Con­cerned with my teaching duty of preparing for exams, I politely explained how it was a matter of definition—what some call mira­cles may be an expression of as-yet-unknown natural laws.

This sweet but somewhat imprecise gentleman tried to explain about materializations he had experienced and asked if I believed in that. I answered that I had not had that experience, so I could not myself believe in it—but I did not show any interest in finding out either. It may well be he took this implicit rejection to mean that I thought he was either a naive fool or simply telling an untruth. Pre­sumably, he gave up on me at that point. Once again the opportu­nity had come to me to find out about the maker of these miracles. There is little room for doubt that the gentleman was referring to Sathya Sai Baba, for he must be about the only person whose ma­terialization miracles can actually be observed daily. By this time I was fascinated by all paranormal phenomena and was open toward investigating them, surprising as this may seem, considering how I was unable to pick up the trail when it came through the unexpect­ed guise of a supposed "student."

Comment: Considering how many Indian I taught and examined as foreign students in my active years at Oslo University, it is hardly surprising that a few Sai Baba devotees were among them.

As far back as human memory reaches, and doubtless very much further than historical research is capable of establishing through observation of records and dating of artifacts, India has had an unbroken continuity of religiosity and deep spirituality that has produced countless people recognized as realized saints and Sons of God of the highest order. This has always exerted a subtle pull on many serious seekers from everywhere, a numinous enchantment that bears no relation to merely mundane purposes and goals.

Today the intense, soul-magnetic power of the spiritual love of Sathya Sai Baba, moving in previously quite unheard-of ways, is causing a huge and ever-swelling pilgrimage, surpassing by a large measure anything recorded in known history. Sathya Sai certainly appears to be the very fulfillment of the promises of a whole histo­ry of Indian mysticism for this age. The "open secret" that he is revealing judiciously, to opening hearts globally, is that his supreme ability bestows such experiences of love and joy as to actually trans­form us from our core and lead us on to greater conscious realiza­tion of our origin and most ultimate destiny.

Comment: Of course, I reject this kind of belief now as the bi-product of his massive deceits and the vastly inflated propaganda around him rather than it being mainly a fault of mine. I was deceived, but my responsibility for that is far less than his, who is the deceiver.

1. A. L. Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy (London: Triad Grafton Books, 1985),p.49ff.
2 Avatar here refers to an incarnation of Divinity in human form. God descends to Earth. The word "avatar" is derived from the Sanskrit word "to descend." Indian history records the existence of many avatars, major and minor, from the very short-lived to the very long-lived. Of these, six­teen are the major ones of the present cycle of the ages. Many Indian scriptural texts discuss the nature of avatars, classifying in much detail the various types of superhuman powers and miracles they may exercise, their qualifications, their tasks and activities, and the mysteries of their births into deserving families. Among the most prominent of the ten greatest av­atars generally recognized in Indian tradition are Narasimha, Vamana, Rama, and Krishna.