Letters written by DR. John Hislop

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A series of crucial letters was written to numerous leaders in the Sathya Sai Organization by John Hislop in early 1981 as a result of information that had come out from an American family. The son of this family was in Sai Baba's College in the late 1970s. He and his friends were sexually abused by Sathya Sai Baba, according to the boy and his parents - also supported by several Malaysian students at Sai college who reported the same.

Timothy Conway's evidence on the issue

Sathya Sai Baba rejects all homosexuality


Further comment on the Hislop letters by Timothy Conway
Comments on the Hislop letters by Serguei Badaev

John Hislop Ph.D. was one of the most prominent Western devotees and was formative of the Sathya Sai Baba's movement in the USA - and was known worldwide from the 1970s onward. One of the major spokespersons for Sathya Sai Baba - popular as a hagiographic lecturer in Sathya Sai Organization centers in many countries, he was the founder and acting head (in a lifetime appointment by Sathya Sai himself) of the Sathya Sai organization in North America from 1969 until his own death in 1995.

The letters transcribed below were written by John Hislop to Directors in Sai Centers, mostly in the USA. They are in reaction to a letter sent to him by Mrs. Payne (who was remarried) and her son Terry Lee Scott. The letter was subsequently also sent by Mrs. Payne to other leaders of the (officially unregistered) Sathya Sai Organization in the USA - Terry Scott, was in Sai Baba's College in the late 1970s and was first US student to live at Sathya Sai Baba's Hostel for students. He and his friends were, according to the boy and his parents believed him, molested by Sai Baba. This story came out in 1980, and was discussed in some higher echelons of the Sathya Sai Organization, then covered over as completely as possible, in accordance with Hislop's own request to destroy his letters (which were sent around in xeroxed form as was Hislop's usual method of contacting numerous officials). Among know recipients of three of these letters were John Prendergast, former President of the San Francisco Sathya Sai Centre (see here), Dr. Michael Goldstein [presently Chairman of the International Sathya Sai Organization], Robert and Rita Bruce (VIP devotees, former leaders of SS Centers), Robert Bozzani, Al Drucker. Samuel Sandweiss, Jack Hand, and to various US Sathya Sai Centre leaders.
The fourth letter was addressed to 'Terry and Mrs. Payne', later circulated to others.

Dr. John Hislop, fully indoctrinated Sai Baba devotee  'Jack' Hislop - the gullible servant with his unquestioned master

Timothy Conway Ph.D., who relieved John Prendergast as the Director (President) of the San Francisco Sathya Sai centre, writes that these letters "are among the very most important pieces of documentary evidence in the entire case of Sathya Sai Baba's purported longtime serial sexual molestation of male youth.

For in his first memo (dated Jan. 18, 1981), Dr. Hislop, who had already heard from devotee Mark Roche a first-person account from 1976 of alleged sexual molestation by Sathya Sai Baba (I learned only in 2003 about Roche's conversation with Hislop around 1980), refers to "these horrible stories about Sri Bhagavan [Sathya Sai]."

Hislop makes it clear that, if any such allegations were substantiated, then Sathya Sai would be "a hypocrite, a liar, and a criminal." Hislop goes on to elaborate the gravity of the situation: "(1) He would be a hypocrite because He pretends that His life is above the senses.... (2) He would be a liar because He told me, face to face, in the most serious way that the homosexual stories about Him were totally untrue. (3) He would be a criminal because the homosexual abuse of children under His care and protection is a criminal action and such people are punished by jail sentences." (Emphasis added.) This threefold serious attitude expressed by Dr. Hislop seems to have been entirely dismissed and forgotten in more recent times by the leaders of the SSB organization and Sathya Sai's defenders.

And whereas back in the early 1980s, such stories of impropriety by Sathya Sai were very few and far between, overwhelmed by the far, far greater number of stories of Sathya's paranormal powers, miracles, emotional and spiritual healing, uplifting teachings, good deeds, and service and educational projects, since the advent of the Internet in the late 1990s, such unsavory stories of misbehavior by SSB have grown to major proportions.

The "Hislop letters," therefore, are an important window onto how the topmost leaders of the SSB Org in the USA missed a major opportunity in 1981 to steer the movement in the right direction toward further exploring and enacting the professed values of the Sai movement: Satya-Dharma-Shanti-Prema-Ahimsa [Truth-Virtue-Peace-Love-Harmlessness]. "

(by R.P.) Hislop reported a previously unmentioned fact (see in his letter of January 18, 1981 below) that Baba,
“told me in an interview (which you have seen) that a homosexual is denied Membership in a Center, that this person should be questioned closely and be admitted only if the person desires to change their life away from that of a homosexual, and that people were homosexuals because of weakness of mind.” Now we know something never before explained in the Organisation, that Sai Baba instructed its leader in the West to ban homosexuals from the Organisation, and even from its centres. Well, would you believe it? One must wonder why this was so closely guarded for so long, why it was never prescribed in the Organisation’s directives. And which ‘secret divine teaching’ will surface next?

Now we know something never before explained in the Organisation, that Sai Baba instructed its leader in the West to ban homosexuals from the Organisation, and even from its centres. Well, would you believe it? One must wonder why this was so closely guarded for so long, why it was never prescribed in the Organisation’s directives. And which ‘secret divine teaching’ will surface next?

(Note Mrs. Diana Payne was formerly known as Diana (or Diane) Scott)

First letter from Mrs. Payne to the Sathya Sai organization c/o Dr. John Hislop 9/11/2000.

Name: Diana
Hometown: CA
Sent: 5:10 AM - 9/11/2000 (11 sep.)
My son was in Sai Baba's College in the late 1970s. He and friends were molested by Sai Baba. Sai Baba told me to bring him to his school when he was 15 which my husband and I did (stupidly). This all came out in 1980, I was devastated, I had been a devotee for 10 years and never believed the allegations about his molesting the boys in the school. I knew that he told many men to drop their pants so that he could rub oil or vibuti on their penises, as he said to control their sexual urges. I wrote many letters to the Sai organization in the US at that time (I knew Hislop, and others on the board personally, in fact my husband was on the board!) Of course everyone said that I was lying and that my son was also lying. Now I tell people who are interested in Sai Baba to be really careful, then tell them the whole story if they want to know. I've seen Baba grab at my son's crotch when we went into the interview room. My son said Baba is "teaching or testing". Sai Baba told me he would be a father to my son only to molest him. I also know that he fakes miracles and have seen him rumaging for articles to pass out. I had many many interviews with him in the 1970s. I can hardly believe that I was once involved so deeply in such a horrible organization. My advice, always look for the guru within yourself, know yourself. Thank you all for putting together web sites to expose the fraud that is Sai Baba. Sai Baba devotees are truly fine people for the most part just looking for love and truth in life. I feel great compassion for them when they find out the truth about him. I know the devastation they can feel. If anyone wants to contact me personally I will talk to you about this."
A second letter from Diana Scott was sent on 17-11-2000, as follows:-

"I was an American Sai Baba devotee for 10 years from 1970-1980. I traveled to Bangalore and Puttaparthi 5 times during that period. My family and I had many interviews with Baba. Sai Baba told me to bring my son to his college in India when he was 15. My son was at his college from 1977 to 1980. In 1980 my son told me that Sai Baba was a homosexual. He said that Sai Baba tried to have oral sex with him.
I had heard stories before about his relations with the college boys but didn't believe them. I actually saw Sai Baba grab at my son's crotch as he walked ahead of me into the interview room one time. Later I asked my son what was happening, why did Baba do that. He said "Baba is teaching or testing".
In 1980 I wrote letters to the Sai organization in the US asking for help and an explanation for Baba's actions. I knew many of the Board members personally. Of course they all said that both my son and myself were lying. I was absolutely devastated by the whole situation. How could God do such a thing!
Sai Baba told me that when I left my son at his school in India that he (SB) would be his father! It's twenty years later now and I still feel some of that pain. Now I'm able to read the other accounts and it makes me realize that I must tell what happened to my family.
When I first learned of Sai Baba I heard first person accounts about him asking men to drop their pants and then he would rub vibuti or oil on their penis to help them control their sexual appetites. This seemed strange to me at the time but I rationalized this activity as something I could not understand about divinity. I also read Tal Brooke's book and dismissed it. In addition I received a phone call in 1975 from an Indian ex-devotee who told me he caught Baba in bed with his son (I hung up on the man!). There of course are many more details to my account. If anyone would like to talk to me personally about this I will do so. I am glad to say that my son is now a happily married man with children. I'm still capable of feeling a bit emotional about what happened with Baba but now it's a relatively minor thing compared to the rest of my life. I thought when I got out of the Baba movement that it couldn't possibly last this long. Recently I found out about the murders at the ashram, very shocking to me. I am a teacher with many interests in my life. But I've decided, since I was so involved during this early period, to devote time talking with others who may be experiencing the pain of separation from the Baba movement and to tell my story.
Diana" (hummbird1@excite.com)

This letter speaks for itself very cogently - except to most of those whose minds are already so impregnated with the indoctrinations of Sai Baba about him being holy, divine, pure, God, the Creator, omniscient, omnipotent and what have you... Living within a hall of mirrors and imagining it to be the anteroom to eternal happiness and salvation from the entire world and its tribulations makes it very hard to smash through the walls. But Terry Scott did, and his mother too... and it is clear why. Otherwise there would be no reason for him to have left the college or her to challenge the Organization. Had they been the only ones, one might have thought there could be some other explanation, but Scott's testimony was one of over 20 more who have openly claimed sexual abuse, most in physically signed testimonies.

It is clear that Mrs. Payne could not pursue the matter legally in India where, as everyone involved knows, the local police are in the pay of the Sai Baba ashram authorities and a decisive section of the judiciary are under the thumb of Sathya Sai Baba, who has dozens of judges from the High Court and Supreme Court as his foot-kissing devotees! Add to that how Sai Baba was protected from prosecution in the 1993 cold-blooded murders incidents by the Home Minister S.B. Chavan who stopped the CBI investigation in its tracks – and how he was defended in writing but without a shred of investigated evidence by the Prime Minister Vajpayee and the top Supreme Court judge Bhagwati (also devotees) and one can see how impossible it is for any sexual abuse victims to pursue justice in this connection. The justice system in India is under all criticism for delays of years and decades, where often only money or connections can ensure cases get into court.

No legal process proved possible in the US because there was no responsible registered body, no accountable Sathya Sai Organization and the one attempt to get a legal decision had to be self-dismissed. (See here) Of course, the front-line defender of Sai Baba and his organization etc., Gerald Moreno, in his intense denial of the facts for personal reasons tries his utmost to cast doubt on whether Terry Lee Scott was sexually abused, as he has done in heartless and insulting attacks on every single person who has testified to sexual abuse– including at least 30 instances by self-identified persons. He points out that the corrupt Sai College authorities dismissed Terry Scott “in disgrace”. Why? Because he spoke up… and it is taboo and verboten to make the slightest criticism of the one they all worship as the one God Incarnate on earth today. The consequences for this mini-empire would have been disastrous, as they are proving to be in a more gradual way due to the exposure of so many allegations of all kinds.

Dr. John Hislop had been informed about Sai Baba being a sexual abuser long before Mrs. Payne wrote to him. He had been told by Conny Larsson, as you can read in detail here. (http://www.exbaba.com/letters/denials.html)


Jan. 18, 1981 (see scan of original xerox circular from Hislop)
Dear Directors:
(Scan cut of at top of page, so unclear wording, but Timothy Conway provided the missing words from his better scan):

P.S. We are also contacting people we know who lived and worked in the.... college at Brindavan to get written statements from them about the situation with the boys. We have already talked to Jack Hand, who taught Physical Ed & Health at the College for two years. At no time did he hear even one of these stories. As far as he is concerned, such stories did not exist with the college students. By the time you receive this memo. you will already have received the letter which Mrs. Payne has mailed to each of us. And we hear she is sending it to other people in addition to ourselves. By the time you receive this memo you will already have received the letter which Mrs. X has mailed to each of us. And we hear she is sending it to other people in addition to ourselves.
No doubt this is a terrible letter which carries the potential of destroying Sri Bhagavan in the West, and destroying also the spiritual life and spiritual faith of many devotees. What can be said by each of us to devotees and other who come to us to express their distress?
Directors Bayer, Goldstein, Krystal and myself have been going over and over the problem as we were talking together this weekend. Let me first say what we are not able to explain. There are two ways for us to respond to these horrible stories about Sri Bhagavan. One is to believe Sri Bhagavan when He says the stories are totally untrue, and the other is to believe the stories. If our decision is to not believe the stories, then the question arises as to what moves so many people to say these false stories. This question we are quite unable to answer. I have written urgently to Sri Bhagavan asking Him to kindly supply us with the correct answer. I pray that we will be able to know the correct thing to say in response when people raise this doubt.
Now, what are we able to explain? First of all it can be said that Hislop went to Sri Bhagavan while in India this past December, told Him of the stories which were circulating, in clinical detail and withholding nothing. Sri Baba listened carefully, and without anger but in a most serious voice replied that the stories were untrue and they were totally false.
Second, the following can be explained. The person who believes the stories chooses to believe also that Sri Bhagavan is a hypocrite, a liar and a criminal. Why? (1) He would be a hypocrite because He pretends that His life is above the senses; and because He told me in an interview (which you have seen) that a homosexual is denied Membership in a Center, that this person should be questioned closely and be admitted only if the person desires to change their life away from that of a homosexual, and that people were homosexuals because of weakness of mind. (2) He would be a liar because He told me, face to face, in the most serious way that the homosexual stories about Him were totally untrue. (3) He would be a criminal because the homosexual abuse of children under His care and protection is a criminal action and such people are punished by jail sentences.
Now, is the above portrait of Sri Baba the portrait that the person really sees and believes in? Because, that is the portrait of Sri Baba that the person who believes the stories is actually taking into their mind. If such is really their portrait of Sri Baba, then that person should seriously consider a clear break away from Him. With such a portrait of Sri Baba nagging at the back of the mind, the person will not find peace of mind, and life will be troubled and unhappy. Most people who may tend to believe these horrible stories about Sri Bhagavan have not, I feel sure, carefully thought through the situation. If it is carefully explained what the person is actually saying about Sri Bhagavan when these stories are even partially accepted, I believe it would be of genuine help to the person. I urge that you yourself carefully think through the situation, carefully consider all aspects of it, and come to a very serious and firm conclusion, which will then be your strength when you have to talk about this to a troubled devotee.
Sai Ram,
P.S.S. Another point: It is downright crazy to even conceive that such a situation could exist without indictment from parents & Government, whereas Gov. Leaders are Swami’s strong devotees.

In contacting long-inducted and convinced foreign devotees who knew no Telugu or other Indian languages Hislop made clear that he did not intend to investigate the allegations almost before he had begun. The only correct way would have been to contact some of those who accused Sai Baba of abusing them. Indian students who originally begged David Bailey for his help to stop Sai Baba abusing them might - if very sensitively handled - been willing to relate their experiences to Hislop, despite his being a signed-up and dyed-in-the-wool believer in Sai Baba's divinity. It would have been difficult for them, but they did dare to tell David Bailey who must have inspired their trust in him, even though six devotees were murdered in 1993, some of whom were allegedly also sexually abused. Failing them, there were enough brave young Western young men who would have testified as to the truth. Hislop has long since been informed of Sai Baba's sexual abuse by Conny Larsson and, when Hislop went in to ask Sai Baba about that, he was immediately thrown out of the interview room. (Note: the "Mrs X" referred to was Mrs. Payne, originally Ms. Diana Scott, mother of Terry Scott)

Instead, he asked Westerners like Jack Hand, Richard Kaplowitz (who was himself approached by a student who made such allegations, but rejected it as not credible!) and persons with vested interests (prestige, professional credibility etc.) in not crediting the facts... Richard Bayer, Phyllis Krystal, Dr. Michael Goldstein, and Dr. Samuel Sandweiss. Such devotees were kept in the dark about all remotely sensitive issues, as I came to discover with certainty that all foreign devotees are in the tightly censoring Baba ashrams.

Hislop says there are two ways to respond - believe or not believe the 'stories'. But Hislop's simplistic black-white thinking and deep investment in his his belief blinded him to the obvious option - serious investigation of the allegations. That would have been the best one for all concerned, whether Sai Baba were proven guilty or innocent. Hislop's emphasis on Sai Baba's claims of innocence show his mind to be made up in advance. However, believers in Sai Baba would not easily be able to gain the confidence of the students and others who say they were abused, so a reliable and respected neutral party would have to be called upon. For one can't easily imagine Sai Baba’s students - under his very restrictive and moralistic discipline and ominous power - freely questioning in public, ‘Sir, why does God abuse me sexually?’

Questioning Sathya Sai Baba was better than absolutely nothing, but it is obvious he would not admit to guilt. Having built himself up as being such an unsurpassable holiness through decades, and having encouraged a massive movement praising him as the saviour of the world... well, how could he face the consequences? He had already tried in advance to avert the worst effects of what such a long history of reported abuses must have realized could not be concealed for ever by stating that "a great scandal is coming" an similar things which might make him seem to be prescient.

Hislop shows far greater concern for the consequences of finding out out that Sai Baba was guilty than discovering the facts. After his years of servility to the man he believes to be God the Creator of the Universe, he could not face the idea that Sai Baba is a hypocrite, a liar and a criminal.

Hislop shows his complete naivety and ignorance of social conditions in India - not to mention the rest of the world (eg. the Catholic Church as one instance) when he wrote: "It is downright crazy to even conceive that such a situation could exist without indictment from parents & Government". The 1993 murders at Prashanthi Nilayam and the subsequent government cover up, the Supreme Court and other petitions rejected by judges who are Sai devotees have since emonstrated how wrong Hislop was. National Indian television Doordarsan even destroyed materials showing an alleged faked materialization that were considered to be injurious to Sai Baba’s image. The fact that Gov. Leaders are strong Sai devotees should have made it obvious to Hislop that they couldn’t possibly be impartial. If you regard someone literally as God th Creator, can you find faults in that Being? Such situation have existed for aeons and are coming to light on a broader and vaster scale all the time.The situation in India is especially bad, as the Indian Government's own official most thorough research report together with UNICEF and Save the Children makes all too clear

(Fifty-three per cent of India's forty million children claim to have been sexually abused. That is over 20 million child victims!)


See official Government report: http://www.wcd.nic.in/childabuse.pdf

2-21-81 (see scan of original xerox circular from Hislop)
Dear Director: Enclosed are copies of letters written by two friends, and a copy of my letter to the X family. Do not exhibit the letters – let us not escalate the trouble – it would please me better if you would destroy them after reading and digesting the contents. Why do I write to you at all about these matters? Because I conceive it my duty to do my best to present data to you that will convince you as strongly as I am convinced that Swami is innocent of the slanderous charges against Him. You are Swami’s representatives to the world, and you have got to be in a position of maximum strength when facing devotees. I hope this mailing will be sufficient to conclude the matter, and I do not intend to write about it again unless something very much unforeseen happens.
About X. I am not a psychologist that I can diagnose the specific problems of the boy. But any person who has reached our ages can see the probable outline of the situation. At a young age, the tendencies and desires are strong, and discrimination and discipline are weak. Note in crime reports how the young predominate in acts of impulsive violence. The animal heritage has its remnants in us, and the primitive heritage of cunning and violence in order to survive a hostile environment is also there. In order to survive, mind and body must use the most deadly weapons available. In modern society, the most deadly weapon that anyone can use to destroy the enemy, the one who threatens security, is to accuse that person of degenerative sexual crimes. Our direct experience is limited, but this method of attack is often reported in the news and it can be observed in operation at all levels of society. I am convinced that it is probably the primitive survival reaction described that is responsible for the accusations of X.
There are also other people who accuse Swami, and we have heard of some of them. In these cases the individual may feel threatened by his own homosexual tendency, and by projecting that tendency on to another person it can be attacked. No doubt there are many devices the psyche uses to survive stress and strain, and if you are interested we can ask Sam Sandweiss to tell us about them. The central point is that it is folly to accept such stories as being factually and objectively real. Such stories about Sri Baba are fiction, novels, and the seeming reality they project depends on the artistic talent of the story teller. Let us be awake and very very skeptical of such stories.
You have heard that Swami wrote to me. The significant part of the letter is this: “Sai is millions of miles away from the devilish passion attributed to Him … As fire consumes all materials, these false stories and false allegations are reduced to ashes by My Divinity … Rest assures that Sai’s fame can never be diminished by these false stories … good and pious people will never care for them.”
As I previously mentioned in another letter, the trouble is not with the condemnation of the alleged acts, not in the decision that one who does such action is a false teacher of spiritual life. The fault lies in the conclusion that Sri Baba is guilty of such actions. This a grave error in reason and judgement. As Directors, we must be able to correct this error whenever someone says it to us.
Sai Ram,

The vast majority of devotees' lips are sealed, not least as result of Hislop setting the tone for his directors and so other followers! "Do not exhibit the letters... let us not escalate the trouble." In a disgraceful show of primitive whitewashing, it is little wonder that he added: "it would please me better if you would destroy them after reading and digesting the contents." This has a lot in common with the muerta (enforced silence) of mafias… or else one will be totally ostracized and even persecuted.

Dr. John Hislop points out an obvious fact: that he was not a psychologist, nor had he studied the subject. I have worked in psychological therapy and in educating psychologists and can only say he shows himself totally ignorant of – and insensitive to - the issues involved. Yet he willingly assumes the role of (amateur) psychologist by rationalizing the allegations as being 'projections' of the homosexual tendencies of those molested. There is so much evidence, written and on film, as to indicate very convincingly that this is NOT the case. non-biased approach can deny the credibility of the many. Persons who have been well-known in the movement and who have been contacted and questioned by exposé activists, including myself, were if anything biased towards rejecting the evidence until we knew a lot more, but we found the testimonies factually detailed ,and highly credible, showing intimate knowledge of the scene in the ashrams and interviews.

Hislop's emotive suggestions about cunning, violence, animal heritage and using the most deadly weapons available show to what queerly illogical ramblings the little evidence he looked at drove him. For example: "Note in crime reports how the young predominate in acts of violence" bears no relevant to victims of sexual abuse. To regard protestations of sexually abuse "most deadly weapons" is such a strong bias – the opposite, sexual abuse itself, is a far more deadly weapon for those who suffer it.

Hislop rejects virtually out of hand the very thought that the accused can be a sexual abuser. Why would Terry Scott as a well-brought up boy from a good US family believing in human and spiritual values enough to send him to the the Prashanthi Sai college, have to resort to "primitive survival reactions", especially when it was clear that, by leaving Sai Baba's college, he escaped person who he told was sexually abusing him. Hislop was "convinced that it is probably the primitive survival reaction described that is responsible for the accusations of Terry Scott." On what basis? No contact with him or his parents after receiving the letter, not even daring to accept a phone call from them! Hislop was ‘convinced of probability’! That he thinks "Sai devotees who have direct knowledge of Him or faith equivalent to such knowledge are not a problem”. He still recognised no difference between strong faith and actual knowledge in judging whether worldly facts are the case or not.

Why would many other young men come forward with each their unique account of Sai Baba’s sexual molestations they each claim to have experienced. This was courageous of them, not least since we now know that, not long after Hislop wrote the above, four boys were murdered in cold blood in Sai Baba's bedroom apartment! So to whose "primitive survival reactions" does this witness? Answer: Those who rule the ashram, Sai Baba himself, his younger brother Janakiramiah, top ashram and Sathya Sai Central Trust members - for a start.

Hislop's "central point": "The central point is that it is folly to accept such stories as being factually and objectively real." This says it all really. Never accept anyone's allegations of being sexually abused... the ostrich attitude that is so widespread and has caused suffering by the abused on a massive scale, now being gradually discovered. Hislop talks of ""the artistic talent of the story teller"." He should know, it applies with far greater force to his own fantastic stories about Sai Baba making saris weep real tears and many another preposterous incident , especially the “real Jesus as he was” on a bit of the “actual Cross” that Hislop uncritically accepted that Sai Baba had materialized for him (shown by experts to be a mass-produced figurine. This is where one should instead be "very very skeptical". Hislop was definitely of highly prejudicial judgement, and his last paragraph in the letter underlines this. He chose to regard the allegations of sexual abuse as worse than the alleged sexual abuse itself!


The letter to Mrs. Payne was in reply to a first letter of 9/11/2000, the text of which was first posted here. There was also a follow up letter 17-11-2000
Letter 3 Feb 21 1981 to Terry Scott and Mrs. Payne

2-21-81 (see scan of original xerox circular from Hislop)

Dear Terry and Mrs. Payne :
I have just now received a letter from Richard telling me about his conversation with you and that you feel I should have phoned yourselves first about the receipt of Sri Baba's letter, that I am destroying the reputation of the family as good truthful people, and that a response is expected from me.

How can I be on the telephone or discuss in person with yourself, Mrs. Payne and Terry Jr.? The boy has committed himself to his story, and throughout history mothers are lionesses who defend their sons to the bitter end. I could only repeat directly by voice that I do not believe the story, and that could serve only to further infuriate and antagonize the family. I could satisfy the mother and son only by agreeing to believe that what Terry Jr. says is factual, but I can never believe any story from anywhere which accuses `Sri Baba of vicious, low-class criminal acts.

From my first reply to your initial letter I have clearly stated that I do not believe the stories told by Jerry Jr. and, furthermore, that I do not condemn him because I do not clearly understand what would lead a teen-age boy to make accusations which I hold cannot be factual. I have told the same to the Directors and you have a copy of that letter. I do not accuse the boy of "lying". I am not a psychologist, but I have observed over the years that the subconscious can readily invent and project unreality in an attempt to escape intolerable stress. And, with Terry Jr. expelled in disgrace from the Hostel, he is under intolerable pressure to his sense of self-esteem and to his family security. Dr. Sandweiss would be able to describe escape mechanisms and suggest how the family could help.

In respect to the Directors, how can I stand silent and let the accusations have their way unopposed? The Directors all received from Mrs. Payne her letter detailing the accusations -- is it not my duty as President of the Sai organization to inform the Directors of the position I take and the reasons for it. We all can only do what we believe to be correct, refrain from doing what we believe to be wrong and leave the rest in the hands of Providence.

You have heard that Swami replied to my letters. The significant part of His reply is this: "Sai is millions of miles away from the devilish passion attributed to Him ... As fire consumes all materials
... these false stories and false allegations are reduced to ashes by my Divinity ... Rest assured that Sai's fame can never de diminished by those false stories ... good and pious people will never care for them."

Richard speaks of your thought that you may "go public"
with the accusations in order to vindicate your son. In what possible way can this help your family? Might it not, on the contrary, create a reputation for the boy which might follow him as a serious future handicap? Do consider seriously before putting your family into the newspapers. Seek the advice of mature friends before starting such a journey-of-no-return.

May this unhappy situation halt at once before it brings further sorrow into the life of the Payne family.

With kindest regards to yourself, wife and son.

Sincerely (signed) Hislop

The letter Hislop refers to as coming from Richard was most likely Richard Bayer. Mrs Payne was quite right in feeling that Hislop should have contacted her after receiving Sai Baba's letter. He did not even respond to her with care and concern, when a phone call would have been the honest alternative. Hislop had heard similar allegations before from Conny Larsson, not least, and knew of Tal Brooke's reports of Sai Baba sex advances. Yet he was evidently too perturbed by yet more such to have the courage to face her personally. Instead he took an underhand route of contacting Sai Baba and directors of the Sathya Sai Organization to disavow in strong terms the possibility that her claims were genuine. Hislop's (no doubt obsequiously framed) question to the accused (Sai Baba) had a predetermined outcome - for an accused pedophile would never readily admit to the truth of accusations, especially not one who has all his life promoted himself as about the purest being ever to walk the planet!

As leader of the Sathya Sai Organization in the USA, Hislop failed dismally to exercise any duty of care. His dishonest procedure patently aimed to manipulate the situation before replying to her by raising major doubts among those who were formerly her fellow devotees ('Brothers and Sisters of the Sai family' as they are fatuously called in Sai parlance) as to her truthfulness and even the psychological state of her son, using words like ‘cunning’ and ‘violence’, ‘deadly weapons’ in reference to the contents of the letter received.

Hiding behind the fact that Mrs Payne had seen it necessary at length also to send her letter to directors of the organization, Hislop argues that his duty as President of the SSO was not to allow the allegations to stand unopposed. So much for duty of care.. he believed we could only do what we believe to be correct... but why could he not have done the more correct thing, to investigate the allegations seriously, including with others who he knew to have reported such abuses? No, he preferred to 'leave the rest in the hands of Providence' (which he also fully believed to be nothing other than the hands of Sathya Sai Baba!)

What is the providential Sai Baba reply to Hislop? He made a most exaggerated statement involving "millions of miles" of distance between his holy self and boasted about his fame never being diminished by such stories [That I can confidently say is proven entirely wrong today! Fire has not consumed the allegations, which are many and mostly entirely credible, especially to those of us who know some of the claimants personally and have contacted numerous others and questioned them closely]. Sathya Sai Baba calls homosexual molestation "devilish passion", which says far more about him, his beliefs and strong sentiments than about his accusers!

After what he has done to destroy their reputation, one cannot but suspect the guru-deluded and moralistic Hislop of crocodile tears on behalf of the Payne family... What he South to have written was more like "May this unhappy situation halt at once before it brings further sorrow into the life of myself and Sai Baba followers everywhere"
To send his "kindest regards" after that letter was sheer hypocrisy!

However, that wish has not been fulfilled wither, for Providence has decided otherwise.


3.25.81 (see scan of original xerox circular from Hislop and second page)

Dear Director,
Both you and members of Sai Centers in your region have learned from trips to India, or from other people in the U.S. that Swami is often the target of attacks which range from physical harm to verbal abuse. For example, not only was there a poison attempt on Him not long ago, but in earlier years He is reported to have been a kidnap victim. That the kidnapers then became His devotees is beside the point. Some five years ago a gang of robbers (dacoits) came to Prashanthi Nilayam with the stated purpose of killing Swami; the police intelligence unit caught them but Swami refused to prosecute. There have been other incidents of a physical nature.

Verbal abuse of Swami is more common than physical attack. The abusers live in foreign countries as well as in India. Probably you received a leaflet from Malaysia claiming that Swami "fakes" vibuthi and materializations. The "fraudulent magic tricks" allegation was in great favor a few years ago and even had some university scientists as participants. In time these accusations subsided.

The attacks seem to come in waves and in series of waves. A few years back Swami was labelled as a "Romeo", a great lady's man". Numerous women claimed that Swami came to their apartments at night and took them to bed. Next came the accusations that He was a homosexual. It seems especially difficult for the attackers to keep life in their homosexual accusation and the current attack seems already to be falling away.

The latest allegation to surface, and I do not know if it will become strong enough to become a wave, is the accusation that Swami is in it for the money and is busy appropriating money for His personal fortune. I have been receiving some letters asking about this. What the nature of the next attack will be, I do not know. Because of the continuing nature of the attacks on Swami it is important that we know something of the background of this situation in addition to having our strong personal faith in Him.

Swami is always surrounded by people, and everything He does is under intense scrutiny. Many people still living have been close observers of Swami for thirty years and more. I am fairly recent -- 12 years now, but I have spent considerable time in His company. We who are able to be inside his house and who are vitally interested observers see that Swami's life is exactly the same as His teaching and that He does nothing for Himself. but spends all of his time and energy in work for the benefit of mankind. So, how and why do these waves of attack arise? It is really very strange, is it not?

It is my theory that the force of creation is outward-going into manifestation, experience and change; whereas the balancing force of discrimination and detachment is inward-going to silence, peace and eternity. Creation is violent, inward stability is peaceful. That which resists a violent current can expect to be battered. He who leads his family or followers upstream, against the tremendous power of a swift-flowing river, seeking to guide them to the source, will seem to be under attack by the current, the wave, the rapids and the whirlpool. Swami says something the same. He pointed out that the Divine person throughout history has been abused and that enemies arise determined to destroy Him. In a lighter vein Swami has mentioned that people do not throw stones at trees laden with fruit.

I recently wrote that some letters to Swami telling Him in detail about the verbal attacks mounted against Him. I asked if He would graciously send His comment. Swami did reply, and in summary said, "Sai is millions of miles away from the devilish passions attributed to Him ... As fire consumes all materials, these false stories and false allegations are reduced to ashes by My Divinity ... In all ages Divinity was attempted to be discredited with false allegations, but these merely give better shining to the Divinity of the Incarnation as a diamond gets more lustre with each cutting ... Rest assured that Sai's fame can never de diminished by those false stories. Only birds of the same feather will give credence to the false allegations.

Since a few people abuse their own essential Divinity with beastly attributes and activities, how can we expect them also to refrain from also abusing the Divinity of Sri Baba? Those individuals who participate in attacks on Swami's person and his name are in effect saying that they do not believe Swami is a "Divine Embodiment" of stainless love and purity. Instead, they regard Him as a person of low character and bad tendencies. These people are few in number and they certainly makes some waves, at least temporarily.

The Sai devotees who have direct knowledge of him or faith equivalent to such knowledge are not a problem. Nor are those individuals who believe the gossip about Sai much of a problem for the quite properly run away, and it is not often possible or practical to attempt to bridge the distance to them for they have made their own choice and their own decision. Our problem (as office-holders in the Sai Organization) is with those devotees who are not well acquainted with Swami and who are wavering in their minds about the series of allegations against Him. These latter devotees should have someone available with whom they can talk out the situation and their doubts. Who can this be? Because of time and distance factors it can only be the Officers of a Center. This, dear Director, if you agree that this suggestion is correct then you must educate and provide a good background briefing to the Officers of the Center of your Region. How? One way to start would be to call the President of each of your centers during the reduced-rate evening and week-end hours and read this letter to him or her and answer questions that might follow. As you will know, the reduced-rate charges are very reasonable and inexpensive. You could also tell the President that the other officers are welcome to phone you whenever they find it convenient.

As Council President, I urge you to give strength to the Center Officers in this matter. Should not Sai devotees have an understanding of the situation? The possibility certainly exists that we have not see the last attack. The only way to estimate the future course of events, and we all do it, is to weight the probabilities and act in terms of that which is most probable. As Swami becomes more and more a world-wide personality, those people who find in themselves love and veneration for the Person and Divinity will multiply in numbers. At the same time Swami will come to the notice of some minds who are "anti-Avathar", or that are disturbed for one reason or another. For this reason is it not possible that attacks upon Swami are more likely to continue that diminish?

I believe it essential that out Center Officers have the benefit of your conversation and instruction to help them maintain balance in the Center Membership. Letters to the devotees will not do, since letters are likely to "escape" and float in every direction without control. I believe you must establish a verbal relationship with the Center Officers in order to properly inform them and educate them about this situation. The Indian Officers can take care of the situation in India, but it is ourselves who must take care of the American situation. I risk yourselves with written communications which you can study and work over, but I dare not enlarge the circle; someplace, amongst people I do not know, there would be a weak link. If you find yourself of the opinion that my thinking in this matter is wrong, please write to me immediately and tell me what you believe would be correct. If you are in agreement, please tell me the results of your conversations with Center Officers, as they are consummated.
Sai Ram (signed) Hislop

It is recorded that various attempts were made of Sathya Sai Baba's life - by a Hindu lady in his younger days who gave him a poisoned snack to test if he was genuine. That other have tried to poison him is difficult to establish, though Hislop confirms a case. These incidents are usually covered up and only come to the ears of those with connections within the ashrams. The most famous case, a decade after Hislop wrote, was the claimed assassination attempt, which his brother Janakiramiah insisted was such, but which Sai Baba denied was such. Six devotees died during the incident, four shot in cold blood by Puttaparthi police in his bedroom. All covered up at the very highest levels in the Indian government and judiciary.

Kidnappers who became Baba’s devotees who accepted employment from him rather than rely on robbery. One of these, known for decades until 1987 as the Prashanthi Nilayam gatekeeper Kumar, was brutally murdered in the ashram in early 1985 because of his really hateful behaviour to people there (esp. the cook at the main Indian canteen). He was seen to beat poor Indians with his watchman’s stick for things like walking a bit out of line during earl morning nagarsankirtan (song procession) He was known by residents for taking money from poor Indian peasants to let them enter the ashram (tens of thousands in small notes were found behind his picture of Baba in his 'hut' just inside the main gate 'gopuram' when it was cleared after his death). In the early 80s he once even imprisoned a young US lady in his concrete pillbox like hut for over 24 hours. So much for such ‘dacoits turned devotees’. Various sources (incl. an ashram resident) hold that his killer acted in self-defense and rushed to Baba’s feet for forgiveness and Baba gave him money and sent him away somewhere until things had cooled down. It was a hush-hush matter at the ashram and few could find out anything

There is apparently no public record of the allegations by women of having been seduced by Sathya Sai Baba (other than this Hislop letter), though it is not hard to believe that some women would have claimed that without there being any truth in it. Such claims are not uncommon in relation to known personalities, whether true or false. One simply cannot tell, not lest since the reports evidently it occurred well before the 1980s. However, the homosexual allegations have a VERY long history, and Sai Baba's relative avoidance of women and his totally male-dominated environment are long-standing facts.

Sai Baba used the strong image of “burning to ash” which he also relates was done by one of the rishis of Puranic legend, who could supposedly burn people to ash simply using his eyes. He has failed entirely to 'burn to ash' the allegations against him, for they are now indelibly printed on his record. Another empty boast he made! Yet further, new allegations have been coming forth from new people all the time and have multiplied from all parts of the world!

Hislop’s shocked denial of the alleged facts meant he would not pursue other obvious leads. These included the numerous Malaysian allegations from 1980 as investigated and found to be true by Mr. Jayaram of Malaysia, by Conny Larsson whose own testimony of having been sexually abused by Sai Baba of which Hislop had previously been personally informed by Larsson, by the well-known reports by Tal Brooke which were never followed up by officials and also by my friend Mark Roche (who was in Indian with the Hislops and the Cowans (1966ish) when he had 11 interviews with SB. Why didn’t Hislop personally contact Terry Scott to see for himself what kind of impression he made? For a leader of a largish organization purporting to convey moral values and defending the truth this was indefensible. Instead, he managed to bury the matter very well for decades, I never even heard of it back in the 80s, but now the corpse has arisen!

Sathya Sai Baba is misquoted by the often inaccurate Hislop, for Sai Baba claims that people DO throw stones at trees laden with fruit. However, his analogy is a double-edged sword, for people also traditionally throw stones at those guilty of sexual misdemeanors and involvement in murders (which are genuinely "beastly attributes and activities" - today still people are stoned to death for such. Critics of Sai Baba, however, are only documenting his misdeeds, untruth and the allegations against him in words... yet, claiming to speak with the voice of Divinity itself, he ranks them as 'demons' and 'Judases'!

The fact is simply this: Hislop was searching with ill-concealed desperation for any figment of an argument to allow him to continue his faith in Sai Baba, without whom he felt his life would become meaningless (yet again, after having already had to leave Maharishi Mahesh yogi and other gurus). This is the very predicament of almost all devotees today, except for those who cannot but admit of the sexual abuses yet try to justify them with a perverse theory about karma and God's will (eg. Ram das Awle and his supporters). Very few devotees have posted texts trying to deny or - failing that - defend the sexual activities of Sai Baba (like their front man on the www, Gerald Moreno, did for years) They can produce nothing but obfuscations, defamations against the accusers and weak, irrelevant put-downs.

Hislop's 'theory' that "the force of creation is outward-going into manifestation, experience and change; whereas the balancing force of discrimination and detachment is inward-going to silence, peace and eternity" is a wild speculation, of course, based on a lifetime of seeking the truth and cloud-cuckoo land from gurus, all of whom Hislop eventually left until he got to Sai Baba. That creativity is 'violent' and never 'peaceful' is a shallow and false generalization, of course, but it shows the simplicity of Hislop's thinking and how he is easily misled by vague ideas and beliefs.


One can see the underlying policy of cover-up throughout these letters, but the final statement rounds this off nicely... "I risk yourselves with written communications which you can study and work over, but I dare not enlarge the circle; someplace, amongst people I do not know, there would be a weak link."

It appears that none of those contacted disagreed or sent any corrective replies to Hislop. Yet there were "weak links", to whom we are indebted for the copies of the letters. Moreover, some devotees spoke of these incidents, such as Rita Bruce who asked me around 1996 if I had read the letters. When I said I knew nothing of them, se told me is is far better that you do not see them.

Diane Scott also wrote her account on two different websites, which texts can be viewed here

TIMOTHY CONWAY stated:- "At the time, and for many years afterwards, those of us who heard from Hislop this relayed quote from Sathya Sai tended to follow Hislop in believing what SSB stated. Even those of us who believed that some kind of touching of genital areas by SSB might have occurred were willing, in light of his apparent superhuman abilities, to give him the benefit of the doubt and rationalize that he had some good reason for engaging in this behavior with a very few male youth.

Anyway, the crucially relevant 1981 "Hislop letters" or "Hislop memos," copies of which I received in the mid-1980s, and then pretty much forgot until events of early 2001 brought them back to mind (and a long search finally uncovered the copies in my garage), have since late 2001 been variously posted on the Internet at such leading critical sites as www.exbaba.com, along with (since 2005) my notarized affidavit swearing to the authenticity of these Hislop letters.
Some Internet versions of these Hislop letters display my characteristically penned-in underlining, bracketing marks, circles, question marks, margin notes, etc., made by me in early 2001 for highlighting emphasis and easier readability of salient points. While certain Internet sites have "cleaned up" these letters by removing all of my pen-markings, at least one internet site critical of Sathya Sai Baba does show my "pen-marked" version of the Hislop letters; that site is VIEWABLE HERE,"


At least 30 young men have openly testified in public to one or another form of sexual abuse by Sathya Sai Baba, from handling of genitals to masturbation and oral sex. Numerous others who fear for their own safety have contacted trusted dissidents in private with their accounts.

Information on the Public Petition for Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and His Worldwide Organization

See also Devotee attacks on the Sai petition and petitioners

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