Professor Haraldsson's 1970s investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

A long article was published in late 1987 in the Swedish journal 'Sökaren' on Sai Baba and Erlendur Haraldsson's attempted investigation of him. For the sake of documentation, scans of the four pages are appended below the translation, which includes my comments. The Swedish 'Sökaren' ('Seeker') article represents fairly the content it covers from Professor Erlendur Haraldsson's book on his Sathya Sai Baba researches in the 1970s ('Miracles Are My Visiting Cards' also reprinted as 'Modern Miracles'). The comments I insert in the translated text that follows directly aim to correct to some extent the lack of critical thinking and omission of facts known at the time (or exposed much later) from which the article suffers, as does Haraldsson's book.

Sai Baba - miracle man

text in black (my comments in mauve) - translated from the Swedish journal Søkaren Nr. 8, 1987 (see source scanned below)

On 23 November I926 a boy was born in the small village Puttaparti in South India. His parents were a poor farmer and his wife. They had the family name of Ramakara and belonged to the raju caste, a low caste whose duties in ancient India was to pay tribute to their king with song and poetry.

The boy was named Sathyanarayana. His full name was Sathyanarayana Raju Ramakara. His parents had previously three children: two girls and a boy. Later, another son was born.

Comment: Accounts promoting Sathya Sai Baba mostly omit the following: "“When Easwaramma entered her eight pregnancy her mother in law vowed a series of Sathyanarayana pujas in order to be blessed with a grandson", N Kasturi wrote in his book about Sathya Sai Baba's mother “Easwaramma the chosen mother”. (p 20)" Where are then the other tour children? We know that Sathya Sai Baba had only three older siblings. when he was born.

Sathya went to elementary school in Puttaparti and Bukkapatnam. then in high school (approx. middle school) in the city Uravakonda. He was an ordinary boy. But in the evening March 8. 1940. something decisive happened in his life. It is said that he gave a scream. jumped up and grabbed a toe as if he had been bitten. Yet no scorpion or snake was discovered. he collapsed - seemingly unconscious - and became rigid all over. It was believed that he had been stung by a scorpion.

A doctor came and gave him an injection, but he seems to have been unconscious during the following night. The next morning the doctor explained that Sathya was out of danger. He seemed healthy. but began to behave in a strange way. Now and then he fell into a kind of trance and did not answer when spoken to; sometimes he suddenly started singing or talking about old India's philosophical wisdom. He was taken to another doctor who believed that he was suffering from a form of hysteria that had nothing to do with the alleged scorpion bite. All attempts to bring Sathya to his old normal self were fruitless. He left school.

On 23 May 1940. when he was 13 years old. he gathered all the members of his family and gave them sweets and flowers that he seemingly took out of the air. The neighbors came running when they got to know what was going on and each of them got a rice ball, boiled in milk, as well as flowers and some sweetmeats, which he brought forth by hand movements. On this occasion Sathya declared that he was Sai Baba reborn.

His father was not impressed and threatened to whip the megalomania of his body. Are you God or are you are a fraud? - he asked and had a stick in readiness. Sathya replied: - I am Sai Baba. who had come back. Worship me! At the same time the stick fell from his father's hand. From that moment on Sathya constantly performed miracles.

(According to some people's belief, Sathya died as a result of the scorpion sting. whereupon Shirdi Sai Baba took over the body when it recovered.)

Comment: In the belief that he was possessed by an evil spirit. his family subjected Sathya Narayana to medicine men and devil-exorcism. including the torture of physical ordeals under a fearful exorcist who marked his scalp physically for life.

Sai Baba of Shirdi

Of whom was it that Sathya Sai Baba claimed to be the reincarnation? His name is not known, but he became known as Sai Baba, which means something like holy father. As a young fakir he settled down in 1872 in a dilapidated mosque in the small town of Shirdi about 20 mil north-east of Mumbai. He eventually became known among both Muslims and Hindus in India. but he remained unknown outside his own country. In India he had many followers. over whom he had great influence. He did wonders - it is told, and he taught a spiritual path. He was a choleric person could rage against his believers. even beat them with a stick; and he could throw stones at visitors who did not believe in him. But he also showed loving care for those who attached themselves to him. Sai Baba stayed in Shirdi till his death in 1918.

Comment: Most followers of Shirdi Baba have never accepted Sathya Narayana Raju as his reincarnation. Since Sathya's death in 2011, Shirdi Baba has again become far more popular that Sathya.

A young swami

Already in his twenties. Sathya Sai Baba, as he was called, was a swami with a number of followers. He performed small miracles every day. By a gesture he produced the sacred ashes vibuti. fruits, sweets, rings, medallions, talismans, small figurines, etc. from the air. This is testified by many who were with him in those days. As a young Sathya was boyish and mischievous. He did miracles for fun, teasing his circle and did not show any really serious disposition’, but over time he changed and became a spiritual teacher with an important message.

The above information about Sathya Sai Baba is in the Icelandic associate psychology professor Erlendur Haraldsson's book 'Miracles are my Visiting Cards' (Century Hutchinson Ltd. London I987) where he in a 300-page report on the results of his studies of the phenomenon of Sai Baba in a total of eleven months during a decade.

Comment: Haraldsson's account is based on anecdotal evidence and his own observations, not scientific investigation, which was disallowed by Sai Baba. In the last two decades much evidence has emerged about Sai Baba's extensive deceptions. sleight of hand and fraud, as well as his being widely accused of sexual and other crimes, all of which he has been protected against at the very highest level in India. Even in 2012 Haraldsson had not up-dated and corrected his presentation of Sai Baba except very peripherally in some articles, having ignored all the exposed deceptions as not worth his time to research.

The scientist Haraldssson

Only a few scientists - para-psychologists - have had an interest in Sai Baba's alleged miracles and wanted to examine them to determine whether they are genuine or not. Erlendur Haraldsson is the most ambitious of these. He has wanted to do experiments with the swami. but he is committed to be a spiritual leader and consider miracles as trifles and nothing to make a big fuss about. Haraldsson had therefore to content himself with making observations at close range and listening to eye-witness reports by people who were close to the swami - many of these witnesses were with the swami around l950 while he was still a young man and had not reached his current renown.

Comment: Haraldsson omits to state that all but a couple of the early witnesses were's highly impressionable villagers and believers in divine powers and divine incarnations before Sathya was born. That visitors were educated does not make them any different to ordinary persons who do not recognised the subtlest of magicians sleight-of-hand and related ruses.Those more educated Indians, including some scientists, engineers. judges and politicians who bear witness to the miracles of Sai Baba were brought up on the mythological Hindu scripture, accepting impossible wonders then believed in by virtually all Hindus, however educated. This well-known otherworldly mentality is yet more marked in Indians than in fundamentalist Christian and other religions.

In his book Haraldsson gives all the essential information to which he had access about Sai Baba. He leaves it to the reader to form their own opinions. But all of the book's contents support the claims of Sai baba as a miracle make: partly Haraldsson's own observations, partly the many other witnesses. Critical voices are few, and the critics' statements do not seem well-founded.

Comment: Haraldsson gave information where relevant to the issue of fraud or not. His book also contains at least two accounts of miracles which his investigations virtually proved never took place. especially the resurrection of an aged US millionaire. Walter Cowan, who Sai Baba claimed he had resurrected from the dead (as he also claimed in other instances).

Critics believe that Sai Baba deceived his public with illusionist tricks; they say he probably has items hidden in the sleeves of his robe. and then he pretends to take them miraculously from the air. But according Haraldsson no one has been able to find a shred of evidence for trickery. Sai Baba's clothes have been investigated: there are no inside pockets where objects may be hidden. (In contrast. some other swamis studied apparently used trickery for achieving paranormal effects.)

Comment: The critical voices mentioned in those days did not uncover any fraud, but there were others of considerable weight than those which Haraldsson chose to take up (notably B. Premanand). Moreover, those assuming fraud have since been vindicated in the light of the filmed sleight-of-hand and other clever deceptions. The subsequent 'divine downfall' of Sai Baba. plus all that emerged prior to and after his suspicious death the scandalous aftermath concerning his huge privately hoarded treasures - has turned the tables from wide renown to wide notoriety.

There is a large amount of testimony about Sai Baba’s constant miracles. but these do not have the nature of final proof. They suggest phenomena, but the best way to determine whether a person can achieve anything paranormal is to do controlled experiments. Haraldsson and his collaborator Dr. Osis had long discussions with Sai Baba on the importance of science and research, but the swami's last words were that he did not have powers for mere display to them. His task was as a spiritual teacher. But he let the scientists study him closely.


Sai Baba regularly brings forth the sacred ash vibuti by a hand movement. Haraldsson says: "He made one of those quick circular motions with his hand which always means that something will appear in the hand. As we sat on the ground and he was standing. his hands slightly above our eye level. It was open and facing down with fingers outstretched as he did a few quick. small circles in the air. When he did this. we observed a grey substance in the air just below the palm of his hand, and Sai Baba seemed to catch it in the hand by a quick downward motion to prevent it falling to the ground."

Comment: At that time neither Haraldsson nor Osis had conceived other ways in which the fraud could be achieved. as is common among magicians. For example. a pellet of vibuti - hardened through wetting and compression. could easily be transferred unseen to Sai Baba‘s hand by the servitor who walked beside or behind him who was responsible for taking over collected letters from devotees as regular intervals. Later video evidence shows a pellet between the first two index fingers. When crushed. the ash can then be retained by a suitable movement and so dropped onto the hand of a recipient. Concealment in the mouth appears to have occurred on occasion. such as when the Dutch Coordinator received a very Met dollop of vibuti from Sai Baba at darsan.

On one occasion. Sai Baba decided to re-marry a couple who have been married a long time. To do so is an ancient Indian custom.

He moved his hand in the air and when he opened it we saw a gold ring. He gave the ring to Mrs. Krystal and told her to put it on one of her husband's fingers, as is customary for the bride to do at a traditional Indian wedding. Sai Baba's open hand was still stretched out without having touched his clothes or anything else. We watched him closely.

Comment: Competent investigators would not have watched him only at that point, but should have ensured one of them kept a sharp eye on SB's hands all the time. His technique was to engage a person face to face and take a prepared object from behind a cushion some time before pretending to materialise it. EH and KO did not mention having done such a thing. His technique is clear from several videos, which EH has never commented on.

Immediately afterwards Sai Baba moved his hand for a few seconds, with the palm facing down, and quickly closed it. His arm was approximately horizontal to the ground, which was not a favorable position if he wanted to get an object to fall out of his sleeve. We watched closely when Sai Baba opened the closed hand and held up a large, bulky necklace. It was a mangalasutra, a traditional piece of jewelry given to a woman at her wedding. It was 8 cm long, 4 cm on each side (cm = centimeter). and it had nine different kinds of stones, arranged in nine groups with a golden pearl between each group. Attached to the necklace was a picture of Sai Baba, set in a gold setting, approximately (1 cm in diameter). This necklace was given to Mrs. Krystal. It was too large to have been hidden in a man's closed hand, especially Sai Baba's hand which is small.

Comment: I have see that ring on her finger and it is a standard 'navagraha' as sold in many jewelers in India. I judge it could easily have been concealed in Sai Baba's hand. He had practiced this for decades by then, so concealement had become second-nature to him.

Sai Baba constantly does this kind of miracle, seemingly with disturbing ease, and it seems to amuse him.

After Haraldsson and Osis once asked Baba how he accomplishes his miracles. he replied:

Mental creation. I think, imagine, and then it is there.

But then he went on to talk about his philosophy: Spiritual love is the important thing. miracles are trifles. Love is to give and forgive. On another occasion, when Sai Baba was asked how he was doing it, he replied that his ability comes from higher consciousness (the superconscious). He imagines the object he wants to create, and then it is there.

But Sai Baba has also said that the objects he produces come from somewhere else. They are transferred from one location to another in a fraction of a second. He is also alleged to have said that anyone can learn to perform these miracles.

Comment: Sai Baba has also stated that the objects are provided by his helpers, who are very, very quick. Kasturi reported in the official biography that Sai Baba materialised a medallion and said to the group “see how quick my workmen are". (Sathyam, Sivam Sundaram Volume 1 - p.158). Typically, Sai Baba often stated on later occasions the complete contrary of many of his own earlier statements.

Many kinds of miracle

Sai Baba's miracles do not only consist in taking objects from the air or from the sand or makes objects disappear. Many testify that he reads people‘s thoughts and he know things about them that he would not normally know. Haraldsson himself mentions that Sai Baba did not say anything particularly remarkable about his personal life, but what he said was true, such as the Haraldsson been married more than once.

Among the most amazing things reported is that Sai Baba on several occasions could move in an instant from one place to another: one moment he is in the midst of his followers - the next they see him standing on a hill a good distance away. This is mentioned by several witnesses.

He has also been observed in a place far from where he actually was and had then helped some ill person. On these occasions he has often gone into a trance, becoming stiff and seemingly left his body.

Other things eyewitnesses told about him years is that sometimes he could change the color of his garment: for example that at first it was green and shortly afterwards had a different color.

On some occasions, he has produced food from empty vessels, enough for a large number of people (i.e.. the same miracle as related about Jesus‘ bread and fishes). A witness says: "At lunch time he asked everyone to bring their empty containers. I saw this incident clearly with my own eyes, so I can not forget it. Baba just made a movement with his hand over the empty vessels, and I could see food rise up from the bottom of them. I think he brought forth about a dozen different dishes that way, one in each vessel, and they were there in seconds

Comment: The above stories are all hearsay, when all is said and done. There are many reasons why the villagers and other acolytes would want to bolster Sai Baba's proclaimed divinity and the tendency to huge exaggeration and inventions practiced in Indian religious sects should be a warning to those who take all these claims at face value. Such concerns are not indicated in most of this article, for while Haraldsson maintains adherence to inconclusiveness without scientific validation, he nonetheless leans strongly towards presenting the miracles as almost indisputable. Since his field is much maligned among the huge majority of scientists, he could not declare any belief or conviction. Further, were he not to think there must be something paranormal that could be provable, then the purpose of his strenuous and ambitious efforts would appear to be close to futile.

One of Sai Baba devotees, a raja, says swami never does anything miraculous for a selfish purpose and that this is the difference between him and others. What he does is always to other people's benefit.

Defectors attest to miracles

Several people who previously belonged to the circle around Sai Baba but left him are critical of him as a person, but they do not question the miracles. They all say that the materializations are genuine.

A Mr. M. Krishna. who was very close to Sai Baba but then went over to Christianity, says that the swami can really produce objects out of nothing, which is inexplicable, but he emphasizes that this is not proof of divinity. Krishna never noticed that Sai Baba was hiding anything ready in the clothes, and he does not believe that this could be the explanation of miracles.

He was one of those who won the opportunity to get him ready after his morning bath and he could freely explore the swami's clothes, which contained nothing suspicious. There was nothing suspicious at all concerning Sai Baba‘s miracles. They appeared to be genuine. However, it often happened that his followers - and even himself exaggerated what had happened. And it happened many times that the swami promised to cure anyone who fell ill, but that they did not get healthy. Krishna also feels that Sai Baba's predictions were only correct 50 percent of the time.

Krishna did not think much of Sai Baba. He says. among other things. that Swami lacked compassion and that he treated some of his followers badly - but Krishna adds that this was while the swami was young and that he may have changed since then.

Comment: M. Krishna also informed Professor Haraldsson about Sathya Sai Baba's sexual proclivities. W as well as other such facts and his opinions about them. At the time of his book and until around 2000, there was almost no other backing for such claims. other than a book by former US devotee. Tal Brooke (’Avatar of the Night’). However, as the issue exploded with major sworn testimonies and film interviews etc. Haraldsson's e-mail information became strongly relevant to the public. as so many followers regarded him as a major semi-lndependent guarantor for the genuineness of Sal Baba‘s miracles. There are parallels to the scandals and their suppression in the Catholic Church, and in various Hindu and Christian sects. which raise the same moral question of duty of care and mandatory reporting for those endorsing Sathya Sai Baba.

The question of genuineness

Haraldsson wrote that, if the phenomena around Sai Baba are genuine. i.e., if the swami creates the objects he produces out of nothing, by "materialization", or if it is done by "teleportation", i.e. paranormal transportation, then this has enormous theoretical implications for science and psychology. Then science's view of reality and human would have to be changed.

A number of possible normal explanations are considered. Can it be a case of mass hypnosis? Deception by helpers? Could there be hidden appliances to cast up objects? Can Sai Baba hide objects in his clothes or hair? Haraldsson reject all these explanations. It can not be hypnosis. Movies show the same objects and events that witnesses have seen. And susceptibility to hypnosis is very different in different people some can not hypnotized - and it is impossible to imagine that all the people in a large group can be hypnotized to see the same things. Moreover, nothing that even remotely resembles hypnotists‘ methods - especially verbal prompting - was observed in Sai Baba.

Comment: Professor Haraldsson is quick to exclude hypnosis. Firstly, with the fewest exceptions, especially after 1980, those who are devotees who were accepted to an interview group have been vetted to ensure they are not doubters of Sai Baba's divinity. They are already most likely highly susceptible to suggestion, believing what they are told even when their observations clash with the account. The traditional idea of hypnosis with verbal prompting etc. is rather naive, when on knows what Milton Ericksson achieved and what extraordinary fast and complete trance conditions are regularly induced by Derren Brown in individual and even groups public or private without any 'prompting' whatever. Further, there are a number of reports in the literature of persons having seen extraordinary transformations in Sai Baba's appearance without those sitting beside them noticing anything at all. Besides, not all in the interview group were placed so they could see clearly what happened and so relied largely on the reports of what those closer thought they perceived. Hypnosis is irrelevant where sleight-of- hand is concerned. A simple trick of Sai Baba's was to turn on the lights with a switch above a fuse cupboard where vibuti could have easily been placed beforehand. He almost always ‘made vlbuti‘ for ladies directly after having sat down.

But is it not quite natural to think that the swami hides objects in his clothes? To that one may answer that Sai Baba always wears a thin robe of one piece with sleeves that reaches down to the wrists. (He has many similar costumes.) He has only shorts or a loin cloth underneath. His clothes have, as mentioned, no pockets in which objects can be hidden. This is known with certainty. Haraldsson has personally seen some of swami's clothes which he gave away and he has visited Sai Baba's tailors and seen the clothes that he sews for the swami. None of the items examined had pockets or other possible hiding places.

Sai Baba's robe is also so thin that sunlight shines through it. Neither when the sun has shone in through the window in swami's interviews nor outdoors has Haraldsson noticed any shadows that suggested some hidden objects when he was close to the swami. When Swami is outdoors and the wind blows, it may happen that the garment winds tightly around his body, but neither at such times has anyone been able to notice anything suspicious on the swami.

Now and again before skeptics Sai Baba used to pull up his sleeves as he took objects from nothing.

Comment: What use in fixatlng on his sleeves and clothing when the fraud was achieved by taking objects from other places as attested by several sources He often went alone into the private interview room before calling selected persons in and nearly always exited behind those he had taken in there, often after some time. In those cases he could have taken any small object he intended to give to a selected person.

Haraldsson also says that sometimes he had the opportunity to look up the fairly broad and buttonlcss sleeves of the swami's attire. Never did he observe anything suspicious. Nor has anyone else done so.

But since Haraldsson was not allowed to investigate Sai Baba's person. he can not refute or confirm the illusionist hypothesis. He does not have a sufficient basis to accept the phenomena as genuine, but he stresses that neither he nor his colleagues have found anything to indicate deception.

There is, writes Haraldsson, no clear answer to the question of the phenomena surrounding Sai Baba are genuine. However, there are some perplexing facts which require the question must remain open and may lead to a paranormal interpretation. One thing going for the authenticity of materializations is that so many witnesses for so many years have observed these phenomena without anyone has been able to detect cheating. According to several people who have been with Sai Baba for a long time. the swami has continuously produced objects for more than forty years through magical hand gestures.

Another argument for authenticity is that Sai Baba produces objects under many different circumstances, wherever he happens to be, outside or inside, in a car or on an airplane, during private interviews or before a multitude of people. He also produces items on spontaneous requests. such as fruits that are not found nearby or which are out of season. And he picks figs from any tree. A witness says: "He used to say. 'Pray for what you want, and reach. We opened our hands, was the thing we asked for."

Comment: Sleight-of hand can be less easily noticed by a mass of people, and it can be carried out wherever one has helpers willing to collude to deceive the public. Such a person was Sai Baba's very close servitor Colonel Joga Rao, who was known to most resident Indian ashramites to refute that Sai Baba could do any miracles! They were certainly not going to tell Haraldsson that, or they could have been sent away with nothing as outspoken doubters always were, even if they had dedicated their lives and properties to Sai Baba. I came to know of it first through my close friend and editor of Sai Baba's journal, V.K. Narasimhan, and i was flabbergasted! Joga Rao worked for him nonetheless because he wanted Sai Baba to continue to help provide education, health and other facilities to the abject poor, whatever the cost. Joga Rao and other insider helpers prepared the interview room twice daily for decades and he arranged the famous picnics' where Sai Baba would pull larger objects (gold. silver etc.) from the sand!

Most of Haraldsson's book consists of accounts of different interviewed persons' experiences of Sai Baba‘s miracles. It is emphasised that these testimonies are only examples. There is a great variety of similar data. Witnesses were for the most part are wealthy people who speak good English, businessman and scientists and their families, dignitaries, members of princely families and other well-educated people. (This has been most convenient for Haraldsson, who is English-speaking, to interview people with a good command of the English language)

Sai Baba's teaching

As Erlendur Haraldsson is a parasychologist. he has not been interested in Sai Baba's teaching. Others have accounted for that, but he mentions some of the swami's words. Sai Baba says, among other things, that "everything is one" and that he is God, but that all other people also are God, though they are not aware of it. In the core of our being we all divine. This is traditional Indian Vedantic philosophy.

The comments above relate only to the text and not at length. For a full investigation of Professor Haraldsson's book, edited at least twice and reprinted yet more than that, see my detailed long overview of the investigations by Haraldsson and my long association with him here (Robert Priddy, Oslo 2015)


Sai Baba as miracle man, article in 'Sökaren' (Swedish journal for parapsychology) and Professor Haraldsson's investigation attempts (1970s) - page 2 Professor Erlendur Haraldsson's attempted research into the Sathya Sai baba phenomenon

Swedish text: Den 23 november 1926 föddes en gosse i den lilla byn Puttaparti i södra Indien. Föräldrarna var en fattigbonde och dennes hustru. De hade familjenamnet Ratnakara och tillhörde rajukasten, en låg kast, vars plikter i det gamla Indien var att hylla sin konung med sång och poesi.

Gossen fick namnet Sathyanarayana. Hans fullständiga namn blev Sathyanarayana Ratnakara Raju. Föräldrarna hade tidigare tre barn: två flickor och en pojke. Senare föddes ytterligare en son.

Sathya gick i grundskola i Puttaparti och Bukkapatnam, därefter i high school (ung. högstadiet) i staden Uravakonda. Han var en helt vanlig pojke. Men på kvällen den 8 mars 1940 hände något avgörande i hans liv. Det berättas att han gav till ett skrik, hopppade upp och grep tag i en tå som om han blivit biten. Fastän ingen skorpion eller orm upptäcktes, föll han ihop till synes medvetslös och blev stel i hela kroppen. Man trodde att han blivit stungen av en skorpion.

En läkare kom och gav honom en spruta, men han tycks ha varit medvetslös under natten som följde. Morgonen därpå förklarade läkaren att Sathya var utom fara. Han föreföll frisk, men började bete sig på ett besynnerligt sätt. Då och då föll han i ett slags trans och svarade inte på tilltal; Ibland började han plötsligt sjunga eller prata om det gamla Indiens filosofiska visdom. Han togs till en annan läkare som ansåg att han led av en form av hysteri som inte hade något med det påstådda skorpionbettet att göra.

Alla försök att äterbringa Sathya till hans gamla normala jag var fruktlösa. Han lämnade skolan.

Den 23 maj 1940, när han var 13 år gammal, samlade han alla medlemmar av sin familj och gav dem godsaker och blommor som han till synes tog ur luften. Grannarna kom springande, när de fick veta vad som pågick, och var och en av dem fick en risboll, kokad i mjölk, samt blommor och någon godsak, som han tog fram genom handrörelser. Vid detta tillfälle förklarade Sathya att han var Sai Baba återfödd.

Hans fader var inte imponerad och hotade med att piska storhetsvansinnet ur kroppen på honom. -- Ar du Gud eller år du en bluffmakare? frågade han och hade en käpp i beredskap.

Sathya svarade: -- Jag är Sai Baba som kommit åter. Tillbed mig! Samtidigt föll kâppen ur faderns hand. Från den stunden - sågs det gjorde Sathya ständigt mirakler.

(Enligt en del människors tro dog Sathya som följd av skorpionbettet, varpå Shirdi Sai Baba tog över kroppen, när den tillfrisknat.)

Sai Baba av Shirdi

Vem var denne Sai Baba som Sathya sade sig vara en reinkamation av? Hans namn är inte bekant, men han kom att kallas Sai Baba, som betyder ungefär helig fader. Som ung fakir slog han sig 1872 ned i en förfallen moské i den lilla staden Shirdi cirka 20 mil nordöst om Bombay. Han blev med tiden känd bland både moslimer och hinduer i Indien, men han förblev okänd utanför sitt eget land. I Indien fick han många anhängare, som han hade stort inflytande över. Han gjorde underverk - berättas det och han undervisade om en andlig väg. Han var en kolerisk person och kunde rasa mot sina troende, ja till och med slå dem med käpp; och han kunde kasta stenar på besökare som inte trodde på honom. Men han visade också kärleksfull omsorg om dem som slöt seg til honom. Sai Baba stannade i Shirdi till sin död 1918.

En ung swami

Redan i tjugoårsåldern var Sathya Sai Baba, som han nu kallades, en swami med ett antal anhängare. Han gjorde små underverk varje dag. Genom en handrörelse tog han ur luften fram den heliga askan vibuti, frukter, godsaker, ringar, medaljonger, talismaner, små statyetter m m. Om detta vittnar många som var med honom i de dagarna.

Som ung var Sathya pojkaktig och okynnig. Han gjorde mirakler för skojs skull, retades med sin omgivning och visade inte någon riktigt allvarlig låggning. Men med tiden förändrades han och blev en andlig lärare med ett viktigt budskap.

Ovanstående uppgifter om Sathya Sai Baba finns i den islândske psykologidocenten Erlendur Haraldssons bok Miracles are my Valsiting Cards (Century Hutchinson Ltd, London 1987) där han på 300 sidor redovisar resultaten av sina studier av fenomenet Sai Baba i sammanlagt elva månader under en tioårsperiod.

Vetenskapsmannen Haraldsson

Endast några få vetenskapsmän - parapsykologer - har intresserat sig för Sai Babas påstådda mirakler och velat undersöka dem för att fastställa om de är äkta eller ej. Erlendur Haraldsson âr den mest ambitiöse av dessa. Han har velat göra experiment med swamin, men denne ser som sin uppgift att vara en andlig ledare och betraktar miraklema som "småsaker" och inget att göra stor affär av. Därför har Haraldsson fått nöja sig med att göra iakttagelser på nära håll samt lyssna på ögonvittnesberåttelser från människor som stått swamin nåra - många av dessa vittnen var med swamin omkring 1950, medan han ânnu var en ung man och inte hade nått sin nuvarande ryktbarhet.

Haraldsson ger i sin bok alla väsentliga informationer om Sai Baba som han fått tillgång till. Han lämnar åt läsaren att bilda sig en egen uppfattning. Men nästan hela bokens innehåll stöder påståendena om Sai Baba som mirakelman: dels Haraldssons egna observationer, dels mängden av andra vittnen. De kritiska rösterna är få, och kritikemas uttalanden förefaller inte vål grundade.

De som är kritiska anser att Sai Baba lurar sin omgivning med illusionisttrick; det kan gå till så, menar de, att han har föremål gömda i ärmarna på sin klådnad och sedan låtsas ta fram dem mirakulöst ur luften. Men enligt Haraldsson har ingen kunnat finna minsta bevis för trick. Sai Babas kläder har undersökts: där finns inga inre fickor, där föremål kan hållas gömda. (Däremot har några andra swamier, som studerats, tydligen använt trick för att åstadkomma paranormala effekter.)

Det finns en stor mängd vittnesmål om Sai Babas ständiga mirakler, men dessa har inte karaktär av slutgiltiga bevis. De tyder pd fenomen, men det bästa såttet att undersöka om en person kan åstadkomma något paranormalt år att göra kontrollerade experiment. Haraldsson och hans medarbetare dr Osis hade långa diskussioner med Sai Baba om betydelsen av vetenskap och forskning, men swamins sista ord var att han inte hade sina krafter för att skylta med dem. Hans uppgift var som andlig lärare. Men han låt forskarna studera honom på nära håll.


Sai Baba tar regelbundet fram den heliga askan vibuti genom en handrörelse. Haraldsson berättar: "Han gjorde med sin hand en sådan där snabb cirkulär rörelse som alltid betyder att något kommer att uppträda i handen. Eftersom vi satt på marken och han var stående, var hans hand litet över vår ögonhöjd. Den var öppen och vänd nedåt med fingrarna utsträckta när han gjorde några snabba, små cirklar i luften. Når han gjorde detta, observerade vi en grå substans i luften strax under handflatan, och Sai Baba tycktes fånga den i handen genom en snabb nedåtgående rörelse som för att hindra den att falla till marken."

Vid ett tillfälle beslöt Sai Baba att på nytt viga ett par som varit gifta en lång tid. Det år en gammal indisk sed att göra så.

Han rörde sin hand i luften, och når han öppnade den såg vi en guldring. Han gav ringen till mrs Krystal och sa åt henne att sätta den på ett av sin makes fingrar, så som det år brukligt att bruden gör vid ett traditionellt indiskt bröllop. Sai Babas öppna hand hölls fortfarande framsträckt utan att ha rört vid hans kläder eller något annat. Vi iakttog honom noga.

Omedelbart därefter rörde Sai Baba åter sin hand i ett par sekunder, med handflatan vänd nedåt, och knöt den sedan snabbt. Hans arm var ungefår horisontell mot marken, vilket inte var ett gynnsamt läge om han velat få ett föremål att falla ned ur årmen. Vi iakttog på nåra håll när Sai Baba öppnade den slutna handen och höll fram ett stort, skrymmande halsband. Det var en mangalasutra, ett traditionellt smycke som ges åt en kvinna vid hennes bröllop. Det var 8 dm långt, 4 dm på vardera sidan, och det hade nio olika slags stenar, arrangerade i nio grupper med en guldpârla mellan varje grupp. Fäst vid halsbandet var en bild av Sai Baba, infattad i en guldrosettram, cirka (1 cm i diameter). Detta halsband gavs till Mrs Krystal. Det var alltför stort för att ha kunnat gömmas i en mans slutna hand, i synnerhet Sai Babas hand, som är liten."

Miraklet av detta slag utför Sai Baba ständigt, till synes med störa lätthet, och det tycks roa honom.

Når Haraldsson och Osis en gång frågade Sai Baba hur han åstadkommer sina mirakler, svarade han:

-- Mentalt skapande. Jag tänker, föreställer mig, och så finns det där.

Men sedan övergick han till att prata om sin filosofi:

-- Andlig kärlek år det viktiga, mirakler år småsaker. Kärlek år att ge och förlåta.

Vid ett annat tillfälle, när Sai Baba fick frågan hur han gör, svarade han att hans förmåga kommer från övermedvetandet (the superconcious). Han föreställer sig det föremål han vill skapa, och så finns det där.

Men Sai Baba skall också ha sagt att de föremål som han frambringar kommer någonstans ifrån. De överförs från en plats till en annan under bråkdelen av en sekund. Han påstås också ha sagt att alla kan lära sig att utföra dessa mirakler.

Manga slags mirakler

Sai Babas mirakler består inte bara av att han tar fram föremål liksom ur luften eller ur sanden - eller låter föremål försvinna. Många vittnar om att han läser människors tankar och att han vet saker om dem som han normalt inte skulle kunna veta. Haraldsson själv nämner att Sai Baba inte sa något särskilt anmärkningsvärt om hans privatliv, men det han sa var riktigt, såsom att Haraldsson varit gift mer än en gång.

Till det mest fantastiska som rapporteras hör att Sai Baba vid flera tillfällen på ett ögonblick kunnat förflytta sig från en plats till en annan: ena stunden är han mitt bland sina anhängare - en sekund därefter ser de honom stå uppe på ett berg en god bit därifrån. Detta omtalas av flera vittnen.

Han har också iakttagits på en plats långt från den där han faktiskt befunnit sig och har då hjälpt någon sjuk. Vid dessa tillfällen har han ofta gått i trans, blivit stel och till synes lämnat sin kropp.

Annat som berättas om honom av ögonvittnen år att han ibland kunnat ändra färgen på sin klädnad: först var den exempelvis grön för att strax efteråt ha en annan färg.

Vid några tillfällen har han ur tomma kärl tagit fram mat som räckt åt en stor mängd människor (alltså samma mirakel som berättas om Jesus: bespisningsundret). Ett vittne berättar: "Vid lunchtiden bad han alla att ta med sig tomma kärl. Jag såg denna händelse klart med mina egna ögon, så jag kan inte glömma den. Baba gjorde bara en rörelse med sin hand över de tomma kärlen, och så kunde jag se maten stiga upp från botten av dem. Jag tror att han frambragte cirka dussinet olika rätter på det sättet, en i varje kärl, och de fanns dår på några sekunder..."

En av Sai Babas anhängare, en raja, säger att swamin aldrig gör något mirakulöst i själviskt syfte och att detta är skillnaden mellan honom och andra. Det han gör är alltid till andra människors bästa.

Avfällningar intygar miraklerna

Flera personer som tidigare tillhört kretsen kring Sai Baba men lämnat honom, är kritiska till honom som person, men de ifrågasätter inte miraklerna. De säger alla att materialisationerna är äkta.

En Mr. M. Krishna, som stod Sai Baba mycket nära men sedan övergick till kristendomen, säger att swamin verkligen kan ta fram föremål ur intet, vilket år oförklarligt, men han understryker att detta inte är bevis for gudomlighet. Krishna lade aldrig märke till att Sai Baba dolde något i kläderna redo och han tror inte att detta kan vara förklaringen till miraklerna.

Han var en av dem som passade redo åt honom efter morgenbadet, och han kunne fritt undersöka swamins kläder; det innehöll inget misstänkt. Det fanns överhuvud taget inget misstänkt, när det gäller Sai Babas mirakler. De föreföll vara äkta. Däremot hände det ofta att hans anhängere - och även han själv - överdrev vad som hade skett. Och det hände många gånger att swamin lovade att bota någon sjuk men att denna inte blev frisk. Krishna anser också at Sai Babas förutsägelser år riktiga endast till 50 procent.

Krishna tyckte inte särskilt mycket om Sai Baba. Han säger bland annat att Swamin saknade medkånsla och att han behandlade några av sina anhängare illa - men Krishna tillägger att detta var medan swamin ännu var ung och att han kan ha ändrat sig sedan dess.


Haraldsson skriver att om fenomenen kring Sai Baba är äkta, dvs om swamin bland annat ur intet, genom "materialisation", skapar de föremål som han tar fram, eller om det sker genom "teleportation", dvs paranomral förflyttning, då har detta enorma teoretiska konsekvenser för naturvetenskapen och psykologin. Då måste v tenskapens syn på verkligheten och på människan förändras.

Ett antal tänkbara normala förklaringar övervågs. Kan det röra sig om masshypnos? Bedrågeri genom medhjälpare? Kan det finnas dolda apparater som slungar fram föremålen? Kan Sai Baba gömma föremålen i sina kläder eller i sitt hår? Haraldsson avvisar alla dessa förklaringar. Det kan inte vara hypnos. Filmer visar ju samma föremål och händelser som vittnen har sett. Och mottagligheten för hypnos är mycket olika hos olika människor - några kan inte alls hypnotiseras - och det är omöjligt att tånka sig at alla människor i en stor grupp kan hypnotiseras att se samma saker. Dessutom har ingenting som ens avlägset påminner om hypnotisörers metoder - framför allt verbala uppmaningar - iakttagits hos Sai Baba.

Men är det inte ganska naturligt att tänka sig att swamin gömmer föremål i sina kläder? Till det kan sägas följande: Sai Baba bär alltid en tunn dräkt i ett stycke med ärmar som räcker ned till handlederna. (Han har många likadana dräkter.) Han har endast trosor eller ett höftklâde under. Hans kläder har, som nämnts, inga fickor där föremål kan gömmas. Detta vet man med säkerhet. Haraldsson har själv sett några av swamins kläder, som denne har gett bort, och han har besökt SaiBabas skräddare och sett de kläder som denne syr åt swamin. Ingen av de granskade persedlama hade fickor eller andra möjliga gömställen.

Sai Babas klâdnad är också så tunn att solen lätt skiner genom den. Varken när solen har lyst in genom fönstret i swamins intervjurwn eller ute i det fria har Haraldsson, när han befunnit sig nära swamin, kunnat märka några skuggor som antytt något gömt föremål. När Swamin är utomhus och vinden blåser, kan det hända att klädnaden smiter tätt kring hans kropp, men inte heller vid sådana tillfällen har någon kunnatmärka något misstänkt på swamin.

Ibland brukar Sai Baba inför skeptiker dra upp sina årmar när han tar fram föremål från intet.

Haraldsson berättar också att han ibland haft möjlighet att se upp i de ganska vida och knapplösa ärmarna på swamins klädsel. Aldrig har han iakttagit något misstänkt. Det har ingen annan heller gjort.

Men eftersom Haraldsson inte fick undersöka Sai Babas person, kan han varken tillbakavisa eller bekräfta illusionist hypotesen. Han har inte tillräcklig grund för att acceptera fenomenen som äkta, men han understryker att varken han själv eller hans medarbetare har funnit något som tyder på bedrageri.

Det finns, skriver Haraldsson, inget klart svar på frågan om fenomenen kring Sai Baba år äkta. Men det finns en del förbryllande fakta som gör att frågan måste hållas öppen och som kan leda till en paranormal tolkning.

En sak som talar för åktheten av materialisationerna år att så många vittnen under så många år har observerat dessa fenomen utan att någon har kunnat upptäcka fusk. Enligt flera personer som varit tillsammans med Sai Baba under lång tid, har swamin ständigt under mer ån fyrtio års till tagit fram föremål genom magiska handrörelser.

En annan omständighet som talar för äktheten år att Sai Baba frambringar föremålen under många olika förhållanden, var han ån befinner sig: ute eller inne, i en bil eller i ett flygplan, under privata intervjuer eller inför en månniskomassa. Han tar också fram föremål som någon spontant efterfrågar, exempelvis frukt som inte finns på platsen eller inte hör till årstiden. Och han plockar fikon från vilket tråd som helst. Ett vittne berättar: Han brukade säga: 'Bed om vad du vill ha”, och når vi öppnade våra hånder, var den sak vi bett om där."

Större delen av Haraldssons bok utgörs av redogörelser för olika intervjuade personers iakttagelser av Sai Babas mirakler. Det framhålls att dessa vittnesmål endast år exempel. Det finns en stor mängd liknande uppgifter. Vittnena år för det mesta välbärgade personer som talar god engelska: affärsman och vetenskapsmän och deras familjer, högt uppsatta personer, medlemmar i furstefamiljer och andra väl utbildade människor. (Det har legat närmast till hands för Haraldsson som engelsktalande att intervjua personer med goda kunskaper i engelska språket.)

Sai Babas lära

Eftersom Erlendur Haraldsson år parapsykolog har han inte intresserat sig för Sai Babas låta. Den har andra redogjort för. Men han nämner några av swamins ord. Sai Baba säger bland annat att "allt år ett" och att han är Gud men att alla andra människor också år Gud, fast de inte år medvetna om det. I botten av vårt väsen år vi alla gudomliga. Detta är traditionell indisk vedantafilosofi.