‘SOURCE OF THE DREAM’ by Robert Priddy

My comments on the book after becoming wholly disillusioned about Sai Baba

Here is 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 learned ‘self-indoctrination’. Comments, all in blue text, originate from 2006 onwards. The facts stated are not untrue, but they tended to be weighted or colouring in my presentation of them by interpretations to supporting the agenda, on the whole I then had: to support and further the works of Sathya Sai Baba.

In that book I recounted experiences that eventually led me into the sphere of a very enigmatic person. They are like a lens, and at the focus of interest in the book was Sathya Sai Baba. I tried to recount judiciously and descriptively rather than giving outright expression to devotion or poetic enthusiasm. Likewise, I have avoided the use of capital letters or nouns and pronouns referring to Sathya Sai Baba, which may have pleased the converted but alienated other serious seekers. Some may wish to know that Baba nevertheless blessed these writings by touching the materials on two occasions before the final draft, which he has also since given me permission to publish and had personally signed the result in an interview.

Facts are, of course, ultimately only meaningful when related to personal experience. Our own experience is what each of us can know best, as we are the sole witness and final coordinator of it all. However poor my self-knowledge may happen to be, I still necessarily know myself more intimately than I do any other person. Though self-knowledge and knowledge of others are doubtless related, it is to myself that I am closest. Short of possessing supreme intelligence, to know and understand any other person fully and truly seems to be beyond anyone, not least when I consider how difficult it is to know myself in the deeper sense of understanding my whole being.

The irony here is fairly subtle. It was and is true that I know myself best of all people, but I thought I knew enough about Sai Baba to realize that he was of superior knowledge and intelligence, if not even also the possessor of infallible omniscience. That I was being deceived by him at the most basic level, I did not know until very much later on. Part of his deception consists in making people think only of their own experience as sound, also indoctrinating ways of interpreting experience according to his own claims and – as the next paragraph clearly shows, not to think one can possibly understand him! Once accepted, this causes one not to question him or anything he says or does… at least not critically.

When the atomic scientist Dr. Bhagavantam asked Sathya Sai Baba why he still could not fathom him at all, after having been many years in his presence, the reply he received was that he, Bhagavantam, had been himself from birth . . . but did he therefore know himself? Sai Baba told him, "First try to understand yourself, and leave me to myself." Sai Baba has also asserted that we can never "know" him and that his nature as an avatar is far beyond the reach of human understanding.

However, after having penetrated his carefully-projected aura of mystique and found out central facts of his physical and social life, his intelligence showed itself as very far from being supreme! In fact, he often displays gross ignorance of known and indisputable facts, for example, about a wide range of scientific and historical facts. His ‘teachings’ are also full of self-contradictory views, mythology promoted as being real accounts and other superstitious nonsense common to many semi-educated Indian villagers.

That book deals with what were then unquestionably most important matters in my experience, but it is no autobiography, in that it concentrates only on what relates to my relationship to Sathya Sai Baba and how he featured in my life. I tried to give a truthful and accurate description and analysis of the mental and emotional processes through which Sai Baba drew me to him. This "phenomenological method" allows the reader to judge the so-called objective facts by understanding their personal or "subjective setting" and my approach to them.

In the event, these matters were unfortunately then so important that they caused me to spend very large amounts of time and effort (and also far too much money) of a result of his deceits. What I achieved and learned from this is – in the main – how subtly yet massively millions of people can be manipulated through religious or ‘spiritual’ ideology, combined with the strongest charisma, personality and supported by a massive number of persons who he succeeded partly in deceiving, partly perhaps in helping to get a faith in otherworldly beliefs. I recount some experiences preparatory to my first encounter with Sai Baba because of the extraordinary combination of intricate means by which this was brought about. I have no full explanation of the phenomena I experienced, though have since come to interpret much of them within the framework of his ambition to become a decisive world power (in which attempt most patently failed).

I am very much aware that my personal experiences are of limited importance to the scheme of things over which Sathya Sai's direct influence operated. Anyone who reads a fair selection of the many hundreds of personal stories already available from people whom Sathya Sai Baba has attracted and transformed will perceive that my "story" and person are nor exceptional, though - like many other reports - the details of many incidents are unique. Likewise, Sathya Sai's influence has been at work in many people's lives (sometimes later seen as unbeknown to them) before they met him in person or even become aware that he existed. Yet, like anyone else, my background and experiences were unrepeatable events. They provide a personal setting for the same basic search in which I believe we are nearly all somehow engaged at some period of life.

In the interests of objectivity I tried to record both the most relevant objective events and my subjective anticipations, interpretations, and reactions to them. Many years of working in philosophy and other subjects have convinced me that nothing can be described with "sheer objectivity", that is, wholly independent of personal and subjective perception and thought. No scientist, no observer, and no writer can ever avoid selecting and interpreting his subject matter in some ways, shaping and filtering it through the aperture of the personal mind and focus of interest. Individual aspects of understanding lie behind even the very driest of apparently-neutral facts and figures, and this is often the insidious deceptiveness of what would claim to be nothing but "descriptive," but is actually always partly a product of subjective design, however aware or not one is of the fact.

I avoided "hearsay evidence" where it lacked convincing back-up almost entirely. There are very few occasions when secondhand observations seem to be of much genuine value. Reproducing verbatim quotes of reported speech are acceptable, but indirect accounts culled from other sources, especially when reworded, are a constant danger to the truth and may be a rich source of confusion and misunderstanding. Therefore I made no attempt to give any resumé of the life of Sai Baba, amazing and fascinating as it most certainly must seem to readers of the literature testifying to his supposed major miracles. However, though I did exert myself to avoid ‘hearsay’ evidence almost entirely in the actual text, I had long been very much influenced by hearsay, not least after a decade of associating with scores of Sai devotees from many countries and on numerous foreign visits as a leader in the Sathya Sai Organization (notably India, UK, Denmark and Italy)

Any fairly persistent observer knows that the achievements of Sri Sathya Sai Baba were remarkable in causing people to donate vast sums, work tirelessly to build up his mini-empire and give it substance. My account was but a tiny fraction compared to the hundreds of hagiographic books around the world of people's experiences of Sai Baba already published.

I am fortunately placed in having received insights into the meaning of many events that occurred in my life, often stimulated by the extraordinary and still often inexplicable happenings themselves as I recounted as somehow connected to Sathya Sai Baba's agency - maybe directly, sometimes less evidently so.

I would also add that the what I wrote was continuously researched, rechecked, and corrected through a period of seven years, and the text has been reworked in the interests of precision and accuracy time and again. The bare facts I report did occur as perceived by me then, though my presentation of them was strongly influenced by Sai Baba's directives on how to think and write etc. My discoveries relating to all this since then prove that I was often misguided in my interpretations, allowing myself to submit to censorship of much that I knew Sai Baba would not appreciate and which would cast doubts on him and his teachings. Since then I have made up for this is my very extensive investigations reported in my voluminous writings on the Internet.

Before I became entirely de-programmed of Sai Baba beliefs, I wrote of my book's content: "I clearly owe my deepest thanks to Sathya Sai for all the essential "subject matter" of this book—the experiences that were granted to me and that I record." I cannot support this belief any longer... experience I had were my experiences, and I now strongly doubt the belief that he had the power over people's experiences and lives that he constantly claimed..

Note: When 'Source of the Dream' appeared it was very 'popular' with Sai devotees and sold a few thousand copies, from which I have earned almost nothing (due to having donated 1,000 copies and then to dishonest publishers both in the US and India) It was still selling well up till Sai Baba's death and making money for hand over fist for Sai Towers Publications, which publisher broke agreements when allowed to republish it. I was informed by several visitors to Puttaparthi that they were still selling it unlawfully in India as late as 2010, while denying that they did so.