excerpts from the official translation of the Swedish 'Bakom Clownens Mask'

To all of You who during the last five years have kept me going, when I have fallen into the deep valleys of memory, I wish to express my profound gratitude. To those of You who have tried to make me give up and keep silent, to those who are in denial, I direct my particular gratitude for, paradoxically, You roused my inner strength to fight against untruth and injustice. To the prisoners in Wiezhowo Prison I turn with even deeper gratitude, as they taught me to value the freedom of which they themselves were deprived. They finally enabled me to leave my self-imposed prison, my sect.

With a preface by Rigmor Robert - physician and psychotherapist - respected nationally in Sweden as prominent in exposing the Jehovas Witness Cult in Sweden and also the Swedish Pentecostial Church (Pingskyrkan org.) in Knutby, Sweden, 2004, where Pastor Helge Fossmo got a life sentence for involvement in the murder of his wife by his brainwashed assistant, Sara Svennson.

Brief excerpt from Rigmor Robert's preface to 'Behind the Mask of the Clown':

"But can we not leave them in peace, these gurus and apostolic preachers? Why not let Sai Baba believe that he is God himself, let Åsa Waldau believe that she will marry Jesus, and let the followers of Jung believe that he will be reincarnated in a century or two to help humanity a bit further along the road?

Unfortunately, no. What is needed here is to take a stand and speak out clearly, as Conny has done. One cannot disclaim responsibility for what goes on in closed religious groups by referring to freedom of the will or laws on religious liberty. Conny mentions the fatal shooting in Sai Baba’s bedroom. Four young boys were killed on 6 June 1993. It is not yet clear what happened and why. In the pastor’s villa in Knutby two young women died violent deaths. A third woman had become so convinced of the unreal things of which the pastors had spoken that she was turned into an instrument of murder.

We ‘out here’ must take a stand, because manipulative groups are dangerous. Those who believe themselves to be close to God and wish to remain close to their leaders can become ruthless towards others. Religious liberty, moreover, never applies to the children of believing parents. For children ‘in there’ the religion becomes compulsion. Some believers lose empathy. The most important thing may then become that the children do as the leader says, not how the child feels. Children “must obey” was the rule in Knutby.

The person who is subjected to violation often stays silent. As a boy, Conny was unable to speak at all for many years. The perpetrator would like to think that the violation was not so bad. That the one who exploits and the one who is violated are coconspirators. That they share a secret that is, if not wonderful, then, well … exciting. But it is not a matter of collusion when the victim stays silent. It is shame that constricts the throat, like a poisoned piece of apple in Snow-white. And the fear isolates as much as her glass coffin. It is common for the exploited individual to place the blame on himself or herself."

Excerpts from 'Behind the Clown's Mask': THE KUNDALINI FORCE Once when I was summoned for a private interview I had written a confessional document in which I described the problems I had with my sexuality and my earlier promiscuous way of life, so that nothing should be left unsaid between him and me. My plan was to eventually settle down in the ashram for good and then live there in celibacy.

Note: The first occasion when Sathya Sai Baba sexually molested me I described as follows (Sathya Sai Baba's words in orange):
Then Baba quickly seized the cord and down came my loose-fitting Indian trousers. He repeated the treatment of my Kundalini energy that he had begun the day before. I let myself be swept along by Baba's massage of my penis, which slowly stiffened from the accelerating motion. Should I be ashamed or be grateful? Thoughts flew through my mind while my body reacted to Baba's manipulation. I did not know if it was intended to proceed as far as orgasm, but I could not stop myself. Baba showed his delight when the sperm spurted out. Satisfied, he took the white handkerchief that hung over the side of his chair, with which he usually wiped his mouth, and cleaned my penis and his own sperm-covered hand.

- Very good boy, very good boy.

Up went the trousers in a flash and the private interview could be concluded. I was utterly confused by the treatment and by this attention to me and my person.

To an Indian who stood near him he said,

- This is a very good boy, he will do things for humanity.

The worrying sense of shame immediately left me. I allowed myself to be acknowledged and admired. I had to tell the Swedes over and over again my amazing story of how Baba had asked me to sing, what he had said about my future and about the materialization that I had seen Baba perform. On the other hand, in accordance with Baba's express wish, I kept quiet about the physical and spiritual treatment that he had applied to me. That was to remain between him and me.

Excerpt from the chapter on THE ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT

The brutal cracking of pistol shots echoed across the dwelling of heavenly peace at Puttaparthi. The inhabitants of the ashram interrupted their meditative rest and streamed out panic-stricken. Soon the temple yard was full of anxious followers of the Indian avatar, the incarnated deity Sai Baba. Rumors spread at lightning speed. An assassination attempt had been made against Sai Baba, murderers had forced their way into his private apartment in the monastery.

Was he dead? Who were the assailants? Just robbers? Fundamentalist Hindus? Families in an internal power struggle?

For several hours people trampled over each other in their urgent quest to find out what had happened. Finally the relieving news arrived. The chief of the local police came out onto the temple terrace and spoke to the people in the courtyard.

- Sai Baba is safe and sound. We have destroyed the enemy. Let this be a warning to all unholy sinners.

Jubilation erupted, the crowd fell to its knees, kissing the sandy ground, the sand over which Sai Baba had walked so many times and manifested holy ash. When it again looked up towards the terrace one could see that six bloody corpses had been dragged out to be placed on public display.

Several photographers had rushed forward and now took a flashing series of pictures. Pictures that were later to be published in the media all over the world as evidence of how Puttaparthi's effective police force had protected the deity against the treacherous attack. As a warning to other apostates from the true faith.

The dead included four young devoted students from Sai Baba's own school who had bravely sought him out to discuss their profound doubts about the sexual acts in which they were all regularly forced to engage..

Midsummer ended that year with a fretful sense of disquiet, and the Sai family dispersed with a completely new realization that our living deity was not invulnerable. For me, who had also come to know the dead students through my proximity to Baba, the story seemed like a nightmare.

Once I was back in my everyday life I increased the intensity of my work in the treatment home Kärnan and buried myself in activities. I just did not know how to handle the emotions that had arisen within me and the events at Puttaparthi.

Excerpt from the chapter ADDICTION THERAPIST (Sathya Sai Baba's words in orange)

Note: Some time after having visited Sai Baba in Puttaparthi I gave away - at Sai Baba's request - a large sum of money which I had earned in property development in Sri Lanka. I thought I could live permanently in Puttaparthi, where I was evidently a favorite of Sai Baba. I was under the delusion that Sai Baba was helping me heal me of sexual problems. Then, one day, Sai Baba spoke to me in interview:-

- I want you to go home, Sathya.

That was the name he had assigned to me earlier, one that meant 'truth'. It was actually the first time he addressed me by the name he had given me. I looked at him with a questioning look.

- You mean Sri Lanka? I asked.

- No, I mean Sweden.

- Sweden. What shall I do in Sweden?

- You should go home and take care of the poor, the drug addicts and the criminals.

What did Sai Baba mean? Was I to leave him and Puttaparthi? Surely he realest that I now owned nothing, as I had given it all away on his advice. I was completely in his hands.

He continued to stare into my eyes for a while.

- Go home and do your duty, serve the ones in need, create a home for the homeless.

In Sweden my entire existence began to be transformed in a manner that I could not have foreseen in my wildest imagination. I got in touch with the authorities and designed a system of treatment that I believed would work. There would obviously be meditation, while vegetarian food was another given. As I had been familiar with horses since my youth, there would also be some kind of work with horses. Now I, the former actor, meditation teacher, hotel owner and developer, also became a therapist for addicts by opening the family home Kärnan by the shore of lake Vättern.

From the chapter MY TUULA'S NEW MAN: Tuula was, a girl who I had met in Sai circles in Sweden, Tuula worked together with me at my drug rehabilitation centre, our work being financed by the Swedish authorities.

A growing family feeling developed at the home. Sai Baba had made it clear to me earlier that I was not cut out to live with women, being cast in a different mould. He also regarded me as being spiritually married to himself, which ought to be the focus in my life. Tuula, on the other hand, thought that we ought to get married.

We went to India with our boys to visit Baba. Baba was always attentive and called in those whom he thought were in need of additional support and treatment. It was obvious that not everyone liked his way of teaching or admonishing. He could be really harsh with some of the patients. On several occasions he separated the younger male addicts from their girlfriends, which I interpreted as their just not being ready for a life together. Some had been very upset by Baba's way of interfering in purely personal matters. Those boys who were willing to obey his instructions automatically developed a very good relationship with him and were often summoned to the inner interview room.

In most cases we returned to Sweden satisfied, Baba having as usual given me another round of his treatment.

Tuula had over the years come so close to me that I vacillated in my promise to Baba not to involve myself with women, as everything should be subordinated to the divine relationship between him and me. Now Tuula insisted that we had to raise the question of marriage between ourselves with Baba, and during one of our trips the question came up and Sai Baba asked me,

- Do you want to marry?

- Only if it is okay with you.

- You want to marry this woman? said Baba, pointing to Tuula, who smiled back at him. She is fire and you are butter; you know what happens to butter in the fire?

- Yes, it melts, I answered.

- Do you want to melt?

- No, no, I don't want to melt.

- Stay away from this woman; you are married to me.

Now he turned to Tuula and said that she should leave me alone; I was not intended for women. She should stay at Puttaparthi; I should return and continue my work in Sweden.

We went to India with our boys to visit Baba. Baba was always attentive and called in those whom he thought were in need of additional support and treatment. It was obvious that not everyone liked his way of teaching or admonishing. He could be really harsh with some of the patients. On several occasions he separated the younger male addicts from their girlfriends, which I interpreted as their just not being ready for a life together. Some had been very upset by Baba's way of interfering in purely personal matters. Those boys who were willing to obey his instructions automatically developed a very good relationship with him and were often summoned to the inner interview room.
It was only when I was back at home that I really understood what had happened. The people around me reacted with dismay to my having allowed Baba to control my life and to separate Tuula and me. I was forced onto the defensive and had to explain why Baba acted as he did. It was not the first time I had been obliged to defend him. I had once heard him declare that a Danish man who was ill with cancer had been cured by him. That had been celebrated by Baba manifesting a gold ring as confirmation. I was shocked to hear that the man died three days later and was to be cremated just below Sai Baba's ashram. I was invited as a Swedish group leader to comfort the baffled Danish group.

What remained the day after the man was laid on the wood pyre and cremated was scraped together by the Indians, who made every possible effort to find the gold ring. When I asked what they did with the ashes I was told that they were packaged and distributed during the various interviews that we Westerners were granted with Sai Baba. Many a time I had seen small packets of vibuthi that were heaped, in particular, on the female visitors after the interviews.

Baba had explained to me that I was not like the others and had asked me to stay outside the Sai movement. Our relationship was sacred, he had said, and it could never be understood by anyone except him and myself. That had made me avoid involving myself in anything except the treatment home.

The study circle on Baba's doctrine of love filled me with positive feelings about the future. It became the high point of the week, with patients and staff taking part on a voluntary basis. It culminated in the trips to India. I noticed that those patients to whom Baba devoted a particular amount of time at Puttaparthi lost interest in continuing their enrolment at the home after the visits to India.

Why did I never wonder why? Why did I accept their evasive explanations that they wanted to move on in their search? The guilt pursues me to this day.

Only one person was wanting in order to complete the picture, and that was Tuula. To come down for breakfast had been a joy. One day I heard rumors from India that Baba had introduced a new man to Tuula, the Indian Anil Kumar, who was Baba's own English interpreter at public appearances. But he was married and had children! Tuula said nothing about that in her letters. They breathed resignation and a downright hostility towards those who lived at Puttaparthi or served as teachers within the ashram. She never so much as mentioned the earlier relationship between herself and me. Perhaps there was some bitterness about the way Sai Baba directed our lives? I did not know what to think, but I felt a growing anxiety. Finally I got on a plane to fly down to Puttaparthi to find out how matters stood.

I found Tuula living in an apartment outside the ashram. The apartment was used as a love nest for her and this new man. I was shaken, but I did not feel I was entitled to have any views on Tuula's love for Anil, as I had left her behind at Puttaparthi in obedience to Baba's orders.

Sai Baba had again acted in ways that were not in accord with the five human values. After all, by Indian standards Tuula had been made into a concubine, and that with the blessing of my God.

I could not be so presumptuous as to believe that I could determine what was right or wrong when it came to such a colossus as Sai Baba, who had shown the way to so many thousands of people. More educated persons than I had found a refuge in this incarnation of God, so who was I to sit in judgment on the one who was regarded as the new Messiah of our age. I had to acknowledge and take the consequences of my choice to leave Tuula in favor of the road indicated by Baba.

Excerpt from one of my 40 plus visits to Puttaparthi:
It was not long before I was called in to Baba for a personal interview, and I intended to bring up the issue of Anil and Tuula. Baba heaped praise on me for my good work in treating addicts. I only learned later that there were doctors and other health professionals in the group that had been summoned. Baba proudly described the home that we ran in Sweden and mentioned that it was entirely charitable and that the authorities fully supported that Baba project.

Then Baba locked the outer door and only he and I remained. I brought up all the practical issues that we confronted in the treatment home, but he suddenly interrupted me.

- Why are you not in the organization?

Baba had previously told me to stay outside it, as the people involved in it did not have the right 'energy'. If I needed anything it should go through Sai Baba directly and not through intermediaries.

Now Baba adopted that hard meaningful look that I could not interpret. He ordered me to take over the spiritual leadership within the Sai organization in Sweden as soon as possible. When he saw how surprised I was, he gave me to understood that he would arrange it all and I had no need to worry about it. For me, who had only sought to rest in a sense of family with a strong father figure, spiritual leader or deity, this now hit me like a bomb. Was I to take over the responsibility of leadership for the Sai movement in Sweden? Was the treatment home not enough? Could I combine two such demanding activities?

Again I was unexpectedly given an unwished-for assignment that I thought I should simply tackle straight away. He pinched my cheek, held me with one hand by the nape and pulled me towards him. He put his arms round my neck and we stood there for a long while, body to body. I felt that Baba was trembling a little. I leaned my confused head on his shoulder and heard him say,

- I'm within you, I'm outside you, I know everything about you, and I shall always help you.

The love flowed between us again. I completely forgot about my questions regarding Tuula.

The brothers Mikael, Lennart and Johan Fredriksson came from a disturbed family background and had become alcoholised at an early age. We were contacted by the authorities to help them one by one if we could.
Mikael took Sai Baba to his heart and read everything about him he could find. Kärnan's library was full of books about Sai Baba, in which the authors gave witness about Sai Baba and his miraculous world on the basis of their own or others' experiences.

It was thus because of Mikael that I returned to Sai Baba and Puttaparthi again.

Despite the fact that Mikael had just fallen in love and was about to become a father, he insisted on going to see Sai Baba as soon as possible to experience for himself the fantastic things I had told him about. The girlfriend was delighted that we went off.

It was a very different experience to arrive at Puttaparthi after the serious incident. They had installed metal detectors, like those at airports, which one had to pass through a couple of times a day. There were always policemen and soldiers within sight in the ashram. The number of sevadal servants had been increased, and there were now hundreds of them everywhere.

The feeling of being regarded as a possible assassin was disagreeable, and it may seem strange that I did not react more strongly to the obvious suspiciousness about everyone, this close to my own God. But for me and all the others who were there Sai Baba's health and security were paramount.

Now Mikael saw with his own eyes how Sai Baba manifested holy ash. He was so moved that he burst into tears. Everything I had told him was now confirmed when he could personally see that Baba handled matter as he wished.

- To look into Sai Baba's eyes is like looking inside myself, he said afterwards.

I noted out of the corner of my eye how he used his big toes to play with Mikael's hands, which rested on his crossed legs where we sat on the floor. He seemed to pinch him with his toes, and I was very surprised that Sai Baba showed his appreciation so openly. That only used to happen during private interviews in the inner room. We regarded it all as a blessing, as Mikael was my patient.

In the book I describe in detail how Mikael was given two private interviews from which I, his therapist, was barred, even though Mikael knew hardly a word of English. Both times I saw his trousers were in disarray after the interview, and Mikael was silent and looked more and more bewildered afterwards.

On his return to Sweden Mikael moved in with his pregnant girlfriend. I regarded that as confirmation of Sai Baba's miraculous ability to liberate people and free them from their traumas and dilemmas. Then came the great day when Mikael became a father. It was not a boy, however, as Sai Baba had predicted, but a little girl.

Mikael had now quickly been restored to a normal life as a stable and harmonious family man. It was therefore a tremendous shock when we had a call one evening from Mikael's sister-in-law, who informed us that Mikael had taken his own life. He had swallowed sleeping tablets, which he had been collecting for some time from various people. The fact that he, the young father of two children, should suddenly have decided that he did not want to live any longer did not make sense to us who were close to him. What had happened to him?

- Now I must meet Sai Baba myself; I have to know. It was what I least of all wished for. Being in a state of shock myself, I felt absolutely no need to travel to India again. It was Lennart's needs that decided the matter, however. I realised that it was very important for him to meet Sai Baba as a real live person.

We thought we would have time for the trip before the funeral. Lennart had been a diabetic from childhood and took daily injections of insulin, so everything had to be carefully planned. I arranged our journey and lent Lennart some money, and soon we were on our way.

When Lennart was at his first interview, Sai Baba put his questions, which Lennart could not answer as he, like his brother, did not know a word of English. Baba gave him a friendly smile and told him to go to the inner interview room, calling on me at the same time and asking me to accompany him. Lennart told Baba his brother's story and cried uncontrollably. Sai Baba consoled him,

- I will help, I will help.

Just before we left the interview room I saw Sai Baba smack Lennart's backside, which Lennart tried to avoid. Before we returned to the outer interview room Baba said that Lennart did not understand Sparshan (the divine touch). I explained the meaning of the smack to Lennart. Baba showered him with packages of vibuthi, which he was to take as medicine for his diabetes.

Several members of the group naturally reacted against Sai Baba's opinion that the insulin should be replaced with holy ash. Lennart himself was firmly convinced that his illness would now be cured through Sai Baba's divine intervention, and it was touch and go that we could persuade him not to leave out the insulin altogether.

Note: At the next interview, Lennart was in a private interview alone with Sai Baba.

Lennart came out into the room where I was waiting. He smiled at me hesitantly and avoided eye contact. The colour of his face was bright red, in stark contrast to his blonde hair and his normally pale face. I realised that Baba had given him a real going over. Lennart seemed confused and yet happy.

From the chapter: THE GOLDEN BOY

Sai Baba had showered him (i.e. the Golden Boy, whose name is protected) with manifestations of pure gold: a watch, a bracelet, a necklace and rings. He had apparently been granted as many as six interviews before we arrived at the ashram! He was generally called the Golden Boy, and we were so proud of all the attention that was being lavished on the Swedish group.

We had a cup of tea together in the canteen and I told him that I had also had many private interviews over the years. We got on to the matter of the caressing of the sexual organs and gradually realised that we had both experienced masturbation and oral sex in the sacred presence of Sai Baba. The Golden Boy was utterly confused by the sexual attention from Sai Baba. Of course he, too, had been told not to say anything to anyone else.

The pattern was quite familiar to me. The difference was that he was a heterosexual young man, while I was bisexual and had to some extent participated willingly. He was extremely unhappy that Sai Baba treated him like this. He had after all come here to seek God, not to be sexually abused.

He also told me that he had sought out the Swedish physician who was the leader of the Sai movement in order to get his advice. The physician's assessment of the situation was similar to mine; it was to be regarded as a heavenly experience.

For the Golden Boy there was no turning back now. He wanted to get to the bottom of it all, even if he had to confront Sai Baba himself at any further interviews. I began to sense that we were only two out of thousands. I had started to see the warning signs but had stubbornly dismissed them during all these years.

. How frightened I was, how hard it was to think that, at the age of fifty-one, I should expose myself to a storm of controversy, both within the organisation and outside it, not to mention the media.

I had been close to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for ten years before my disappointment with his organisation led me to abandon it and to seek out Sai Baba instead, without noting the similarities between them. My religious longing and my background had made me blind and undiscriminating. I was following a pattern. When I realised that something was wrong I sought to get even closer to the core of the problem instead of fleeing from it. Instead of putting a stop to it as soon as everything became clear I turned myself into a passive observer. That causes me pain to this day.

The Golden Boy and his group were summoned twice more, with subsequent private interviews. He was again subjected to abuse, without daring to protest or being able to defend himself. Had he shouted or protested, it would have caused complete chaos in the outer interview room, where the others were devoutly waiting for Sai Baba. The boy simply did not dare to do anything except what was expected of him, a factor that Sai Baba presumably counted on.

The Golden Boy later told me that Sai Baba had pretended to manifest a thousand dollars, which he gave to him, which he handed over to him with a request that he come to his summer residence at Koodaicanal, where he would be allowed to live in Sai Baba's own apartment. Other boys among the initiated ones had also told me that it was known in the ashram that Sai Baba used to pay the students whom he exploited sexually between 200 and 500 rupees a time, a large amount of money by Indian standards and for boarding-school students. Western boys were offered even larger sums.

Later we sent some golden objects and talismans that Sai Baba had manifested for testing. They all turned out to be just gewgaws: the diamonds were glass and the gold pure dross. The objects that we had admired for decades were utterly rejected by independent goldsmiths in Sweden.

The above are only the barest bones of the whole story I have told in my book, where my experiences as a close attendant of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and the deep psychological reason for my being so vulnerable to gurus and not least to sexual abuse by Sathya Sai Baba are included. I also give a full account of the effect of our revelations on former friends and devotees in the Swedish Sai Organisation, which many have since left, including a number of young men I knew who were also sexually abused by Sai Baba, but who do not wish their names to be known. Two young men have, however, told on this website how they were somewhat more mildly sexually molested - 'groomed' by Sai Baba.

See also review by Robert Priddy of 'Behind the Mash of the Clown' here

See also 'Politics, Sex, Cults and Truth' talk by Conny Larsson at the Brussels FECRIS Conference
(FECRIS = Fédération Européenne des Centres de Recherche et d‘Information sur le Sectarisme
European Federation of Centres Research and Information on Sectarianism)

Testimony- 'When I met Sai Baba' by Gabriel M.
Testimony - A young Swedish man speaks out about Sai Babas sexual behaviour
Book launch presentation in Stockholm, 2005