Comments on the Hislop letters 2
From: Serguei Badaev, former President Moscow Sathya Sai Centre and EHV Coordinator for Russia (orioginal;ly posted under the pen-name Steve White - a precaution due to dead threats against critics from former devotees)
Date: 25 October 2001
"When SSB devotees face sincerely the allegations against SSB they naturally feel deep discomfort and distress. There are three aspects in it.
SSB is a sort of a myth devotees create in their minds. No one can claim that he/she knows who SSB really is. This myth is constructed on a basis of their inner experience and essentially on books and other people stories. This myth might satisfy some inner hunger to get an intimate contact and real connection with God as Father on earth. One idea contribute a lot to this myth. It is that such a person with the supernatural abilities (which cannot be denied in SSB) is endowed with ethical perfection. Unfortunately, it might be not true at all. Supernatural abilities as well as an external beauty are not at all a guarantee for high moral standards. A very clear illustration of this point are the famous heroes of Ramayana, Rama and Ravana, the only difference between them being Rama's adherence to Dharma and Ravana's complete negligence of it.
The allegations against SSB may contradict what devotees might know about SSB, his way of life and his deeds. It is not easy for everyone to scrutinise and analyse facts and stories about SSB to discriminate between true and false. Many facts and ideas related to supernatural powers of SSB or Vedanta philosophy with its concept of Universal Maya are difficult to digest intellectually. After all, the whole picture can be a result rather of imagination than intellectual analysis. One cannot deny that there is a sort of propaganda conducted by the Sai Org. and a group of people close to SSB that contribute a lot to the whole picture. It includes censorship, cover up, incomplete information and even false facts. Everyone who dares to question the Sai Org. activities and SSB's life and deeds will see that the picture is not so pink as it looks.
Many devotees are strongly attached to the physical form of SSB. They put a lot of themselves into these relationships (their hopes, ideals, love, etc). This projection can be so strong that discovery of something opposite might be experienced as a betrayal. The very possibilty of that can be felt as a serious danger and can be suppressed and kept on the periphery of the mind. There is an idea which is widely used by SSB and the Sai Org. to prevent devotees against critical thinking. In brief, it is as follows: do not criticise, see only good, those who criticise and see bad are bad themselves (“birds of a feather” SSB). This makes an additional psychological pressure on those who have any doubts.
I think these three aspects can contribute to the explanation of the rationalising and denying behaviour of SSB devotees who are in deep psychological distress after having faced allegations against SSB."