Sathya Sai Baba - a narcissist


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Åsa Samsioe, Swedish psychologist and former devotee of Sathya Sai Baba has written as follows:-

Sathya Sai Baba's confusing behaviour, I think, is just another symptom and a result of his mental disease... I think that he has an extremely narcissistic personality. Otto Kernberg has written a lot about the narcissistic personality disorder. These persons have a psychological disturbance on the borderline level...

These persons can also be very charming and charismatic. Often they are very talented and gifted. But inside they are quite empty and bored... They are also, on a deeper level, very lonely persons, who are unable to maintain deep, warm and meaningful relations to others...

The narcissist has a very exploitive relation towards others and he/she needs admiration all the time... The narcissists use people as mirrors for themselves... But at the same time, narcissists don't bother about inconsistencies in their own behavior or character. They are standing aloof from all these trifles that bother most of us... They live in there self-made heaven, where they have put themselves on a pedestal, very far from us ordinary mortals. Often they seek challenges and are willing to take grand risks because they are so empty and bored inside...

The most conspicuous characteristic for the narcissistic personality is the paradoxical split between two images of the self. One image of the self is the grandiose self (Sai Baba is God himself- can it be more grandiose?). The other image of the self, which is on a deeper level, is filled of shame, hate and feelings of worthlessness...

The tragedy for Sai Baba and his devotees is that his grandiose self gets continuous nourishment… actually it has been fed with attention and admiration all his life... Of course he has nothing to be afraid of... The other image of his self will never get a chance to show itself... And he will never get the chance to get in contact with his own suffering, which on the long view, could have healed him from his mental disorder...

And if there is at threat to him from this other image of the self to break through, ( threat - because this would be very painful for him) he will have to deny its existence or project it on other persons... But there are situations when Sai Baba obviously has been deprived of narcissistic supply or frustrated in some way...

See the DSM-IV description of narcissism below?

To get the diagnose you should have at least five of the nine manifestations.. and you should manifest a common feature of grandiosity and deficient empathy..... grandiosity is like living in an artificial self, invented from fantasies of absolute or perfect power, genius, beauty, etc. These people also act as if they are in love with themselves):

(1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

(2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

(3) believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions) (Sathya Sai Baba claims to be so special that nobody can understand him: "I am all deities in one. You may endeavour your best for thousands of years and have all mankind with you in your search. But you cannot understand My Reality." (US ed. of Kasturi's Sathyam Sivam Sundaram Vol 3, page 315))

(4) requires excessive admiration

(5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

(6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

(7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

(8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her

Then he shows intense rage as you can read about in the book ANYATHÃ SARANAM NASTHI: “Other than You refuge there is none”, by Smt. Vijaya Kumari. She writes in the pages 68-69 about Sai Baba: “The slightest oversight with regard to arrangements for his meals would provoke Him into a fit of anger. Sometimes He would fling His plate at the wall opposite Him with such force that it would rebound and come back to Him”.  

Getting older is very difficult for these personalities, when they realize that they are not as attractive or healthy as they used to be... In Sanathana Sarathi from October 2002, you can read: “I don´t know any weakness. Usually old people have wrinkles on their faces and they suffer from deafness and cataract. I do not have any signs of old age. (loud applause) there is not a single wrinkle on my face. My eyes shine like stars and my voice is like a loudspeaker... ”

As a matter of fact a friend of mine, who recently visited the ashram, told me that Sathya Sai was almost bald on the back of his skull. And even if his face hasn´t any wrinkles, everyone can see that he has got a “turkey throat” ... So that is something that can threat Sai Baba's grandiose image of himself...

It is interesting, but also very frightening to read what Smt. Vijaya Kumari writes about her own son in page 222:

“Everyone used to call him “Chota Baba” (little Baba). He had a full head of crinkled hair. Swami made the boy sit in His lap and asked him, “What is your name?” “Have you drunk milk?” “Would you like to eat rice?” “Do you want to be naughty?” The boy gave replies in a cute way. Everyone was laughing.
The boy was then three years old. Suddenly, Swami made him lie face down in His lap and began beating him hard on the back. None of us knew what to make of it. We were all stunned, and staring at Swami. Who among us had the courage to go near Swami and question Him? The boy's face looked jaded. He was yelling and crying. “Go, go away from here.” Saying so, Swami pushed the boy away from Him. The poor little boy! He came running to me sobbing. The sobs did not subside even after one hour. Every week, Swami would treat the boy like this, three or four times. The minute I took him out of the cradle my son would say pathetically, “Don´t take me to Swami, mother”, and break into tears. I would feel very pained. But when Swami ordered me to bring the boy, how could I say no? Further I had full faith and confidence in Swami... On the days when Venkamma garu happened to be with us, she would take my son from Swamis lap, saying “That is enough, Swami., My son was by no means mischievous. He was so quiet that none was aware of his presence in a room. But we do not know which “evil power” Swami had to drive away from him.“

I would guess that it was some sort of narcissistic offence which provoked this furious and evil behavior from Sai Baba towards the innocent child. Perhaps the cute little boy, who made everyone laugh, stole all the attention and admiration, that Sai Baba wanted for himself? Perhaps in a deeper level, this little boy, who also was called “little Baba”,   provoked Sai Baba's deeper feelings of worthlessness and self hate, his other self? Perhaps Sai Baba projected this denied and repressed self of his onto that little boy, who he then had to punish?

I think that Sathya Sai Baba is a VERY SICK person... I was happy when I found him... but I am much happier now, when I have rescued myself from him and the clutches of his cult!
See Narcissism in Wikipedia and Otto Kernberg in Wikipedia


Åsa Samsioe also makes a subtle point about the young man Krishna Kumar - brother of Amarendra Kumar – who both spent a number of years with Sai Baba as personal attendant on a day and night basis in the early fifties. Krishna Kumar was declared by Sai Baba to be his 'soul-brother' and whom he made sit beside him on the chariot at Guru Purnima celebrations in Puttaparthi. Krishna shared Sathya Sai's bedroom for some years until he left Sai Baba mainly because of his dishonesty and imperiousness - as he told the parapsychologist Erlendur Haraldsson during two long interviews in the 1970s]

In her book, 'Other than You refuge there is none' (Anyatha Saranam Nasthi) by the elderly Indian woman devotee, Smt. Vijaya Kumari, who was with Sathya Sai Baba already in the 1940s when he was in his teens, we read (p. 194-5):

"Krishna was very mild-mannered. He was not brisk, but very slow while walking. He was slim and fair, and of a sensitive temperament. Everyone would tease him saying that he should have been born a lady. While walking with him, Swami would stay very close to him. It showed how much Swami liked him. Looking at them both, we would playfully refer to them as Radha and Krishna . We do not know what merit accrued from previous lives it was that gave Krishna the privilege of staying upstairs in the company of Swami. Because Krishna was fond of bed coffee, Swami himself would make sure that the tray with coffee and biscuits was ready, and then wake him up. His meals also were with Swami. Making Krishna sit by His side serving him items from His own plate, Swami would watch over him very affectionately.
Who will have such rare fortune! Once Krishna had to go to Madras on some errand. Swami developed high fever. In His delirium, He would call out ' Krishna '. His fever subsided only after Krishna returned. This shows how much God loves His devotees..."

... or how much God thinks about some of his male devotees (above all the young, beautiful one with feminine appearance). As far as I know, I have never read anything similar about any female devotee. Is it only male devotees that have gathered up merits from past lives, that makes them targets for Sai Baba's grace?"

One has to admit, this also underpins the descriptions by so many young men who convincingly detail how they were sexually molested by Sai Baba. It also reminds of what Terry Gallagher, the long-term devotee and Australian Central Coordinator who resigned, wrote about how his observations and information led him to investigate, especially that: "relating to students being sexually interfered with in grotesque ways by Sai Baba. It wasn't until 1993, following the assassination attempt on Sai Baba, resulting in the murder of four college students and two assistants in the Mandir, that we made our last visit to India. The purpose of this visit was to find the reason why former students of Sai Baba's college would want to kill him, particularly when they had been given a free education! I made further inquiries about Sai Baba having sexual relations with college boys and male students –and whether this was the reason for former students wanting to kill him. I was told, to my horror, that this was an acceptable Indian practice!"