All are free to believe in the Sai Baba legend
or not - as based on their own experiences and within their given
personal limitations. Ideas about him assimilated from books and stories
make it hard for those who take the first step of faith not to start building out perceptions that they put down to the rolling Sathya
Sai Baba snowball legend. But with any embracing
system of faith held together mainly by a few personal experiences
interpreted through beliefs that bind it together, internal fractures
usually arise... when facts begin to undermine it. The truth sooner
or later batters down dearly-held illusions.
The suspension of belief in specific events that
lie beyond one's own observation and detailed knowledge is the best
policy. In the atmosphere of secrecy, disinformation and arms-length
avoidance of questioning that Sathya Sai Baba enforces, most matters cannot even
be discussed, let alone investigated properly. It soon all rests on
acceptance of mainly third-hand information and continued clinging
to one's adopted belief-system. Meanwhile, a broad and cool examination
of all the material available will show that much of what Sathya Sai Baba claims
about himself that can be evaluated, starting from day-to-day
facts, is deception. Here, then, are but a few more examples of the
legend that rests on the mirages of secrecy and shifting sands of
hearsay upon which his peculiar reputation is overwhelmingly based.
Sathya Sai Baba's duplicity and disinformation
Sathya Sai Baba claimed: "Right from a tender age, I never received
anything from others. I only give and give and give, I never receive." (Sanathana Sarathi October 1998, p. 275).
Also "Though 56 years have passed, I have not got even one shirt
or gown stitched for Me. I am now wearing what is given by a student..."
(Sathya Sai Speaks Volume XV. page 312)
do his constant changes of robes, food, cars, furniture and all the rest
come from? He is the recipient of gifts... he says so! He somehow
gets plenty of ready cash which he hands out on occasion.
Sathya Sai Baba rails against gurus whose eyes are on devotees' purses (Sathya
Sai Speaks Vol. 1, p. 31). Sathya Sai Baba says many good things about
the greed for and misuse of money, and criticises the collection of money
by gurus as "a heinous act" (Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 5, p. 18). Yet, amazingly, he claims that he has nothing to
do with money (see Sanathana Sarathi January 1998,
p. 4)! For Sathya Sai Baba is indisputably by far the biggest collector of
foreigners' funds in India! He even asks people openly where their donations
are in the darshan lines, such as he did to the Austrian SSO leader, Richard
Friedrich! He signs every cheque donated to any of his funds. This is
sheer duplicity, neither do his words and actions concur, nor his words
with his words. This is the same as deceit, lying!
That Sathya Sai Baba directly gives cash in hand was first (to
my innocent consternation) told me in 1985 by the former gardener at Prashanthi
Nilayam, Mr. Walia, who also owned a small restaurant in Puttaparthi.
He related how Sathya Sai Baba had tried to interfere in the marriage plans of a neighbour.
But the boy would not follow Sathya Sai Baba's advice and took another as wife than
the one Sathya Sai Baba wanted. The parents were very devoted to Sathya Sai Baba and thus were
extremely upset at their son's opposition to Sathya Sai Baba. When the day came around
at last, Sathya Sai Baba stopped his car outside their house and handed them a thousand
rupees in notes for wedding expenses. One may say this was generous, but
also ask where the money came from? Sathya Sai Baba certainly did not earn it by the
sweat of his brow, but accepted it from donors! A number of the letters
Sathya Sai Baba accepts daily also undoubtedly contain cash (several authors state
this in their pro-Sai books), and Sathya Sai Baba has claimed he opens all of them!
So he certainly receives and personally handles money then too.
It is rather intriguing that various devotees also
assert that he "materialises money":
|In the film 'La Historia de Sai Baba (I)' by the Argentinian broadcasting
company, Zona de Investigacion, a South American devotee, Cristina,
spreads a myth which I have heard in India in a similar but varied
Cristina: Once, people from the government of India, from the tax
department, came to see him because Sai Baba not only materializes
money, but precious stones, necklaces, rosaries and then they came
to question why Sai Baba makes gifts of these to many people who
leave India. Sai Baba gave these two persons an audience. He stretched
his hand and in front of them appeared a small mound of precious
stones and when the inspectors saw this they fell at his feet and
asked for forgiveness…"
The almost incomprehensible fact is that followers
are totally befuddled by all his statements about money into not considering
what a financial magnet he most wilfully is! His duplicity and disinformation
(including outright lies) about money are extremely effective.
Sathya Sai Baba can easily pay off with almost any sum he chooses
virtually anyone he needs to, and this is also done when necessary with
abuse victims. A pay-off was done when his car driver of over 20 years'
service ran down and killed a villager while driving around testing Sathya Sai Baba's
latest vehicle. I learned about this from a reliable old friend resident
in Brindavan for many years (name not given to save him from what could
happen to him) and checked the facts with V.K. Narasimhan. He told me
that the relatives and other villagers were paid off for their silence
and that the driver was thrown out of the ashram by the staff with nothing
to live on and wandered about in a terrible state. After praying to Sathya Sai Baba
to help him but being barred from entry to the ashram, he set fire to
himself within days under the Shiva statue in the Hillview Stadium. I
swear on all that is holy that V.K. Narasimhan told me all this and that
this poor man had recently heard Sathya Sai Baba say that if anyone ignored a direction
from him three times, he might as well go and set fire to himself. This
is the kind of threatening stuff Sathya Sai Baba spreads around in his close vicinity,
this is your "compassionate one" who claims he would do anything
for the sake of his devotees.
The alleged "materialisations of money" would remind most
people more of something like the 3-card trick. If he really can "make
money", he must be a boon to the politicians who flock to the honey pot
and the official tax-free haven that the Central Trust provides. However
Sathya Sai Baba need not materialise money when so much is donated by so many rich
and unsuspecting fall guys all over the world.
Here is a 'money materialisation story' I was told by the IAS official in 1996:-
A well-to-do and long-term Indian Sai devotee who
runs a car sales firm in London who has had much attention from Sathya Sai Baba was
visiting Prashanthi. He had gone to great trouble to import from the U.K.
a new car as a gift to Sathya Sai Baba, the problem being that the Indian customs
people extorted from him over 100% the value of the car in extra duties,
probably not all legal ones. Sathya Sai Baba called him and his family to an interview,
during which Sathya Sai Baba said he would recompense him for all the extra expense
and, so saying, waved his hand and produced a huge pile of banknotes equal
to all the expenses the man had faced. The man refused to accept the money
saying that everything was Swami's anyhow, so what did it matter etc.
Sathya Sai Baba pressed him to accept it, but the man would not. The money was in
a pile on the floor in front of Swami, who put his foot on the pile and
pressed down. The money disappeared as Sathya Sai Baba's foot descended to the floor.
People will probably believe what they want. But I risk a guess that the vast majority of people in the world will not be
able to credit this.
Sathya Sai has even been cleared in court of breaking the Gold Control Act. According to Indian law only licensed dealers are allowed to take part in the production of gold and Sai Baba doesn't have such a license. This fact was brought to the attention of the Regional Office of Gold Control as well as to the High Court of Andrah Pradesh by the indefatigable anti-guru, B. Premanand.
Judge Anjaneyulu, however, ruled that the law doesn't apply to Sai Baba because he materialises his gold from thin air. The only objection that Premanand could make against this strange decision was to appeal to the voice of reason: "Defence based on spiritual powers is not recognised in law. If such a defence is permitted, there is not a single offence the commission of which could be met with the penalties and punishments, for the reason that on a plea of spiritual power being raised by the accused there is no way to prove or disprove the existence or non-existence of the pleaded spiritual power." Unfortunately Premanand's words went unheeded.
Premanand has written a books which recounts his battle in the courts: ' Satya Sai Baba and the Gold Control Act'. Published 1986 by INDIAN CSICOP, c/o 11/7 Chettipalayam Rd., Podanur 641023. Tamil Nadu (India) Price: US$ 3.00 (includes Air Mail)
There was no doubt in my IAS friend's mind that Sathya Sai Baba was accustomed
to having quite large sums of money in banknotes in his room, which his
servitors used to pay for various goods or services rendered by Sathya Sai Baba's
tailors, barber, and numerous others. He claimed that some of the intruders
who were executed in 1993 were partly motivated by finding ready cash
in Sathya Sai Baba's apartment, but that it a theory which conveniently conceals the
much more likely reason, their aim to pressure Baba into stopping the widespread
corruption in the ashram and Central Trust, and possibly also to try to
stop any sexual abuse by him.
My wife and I heard several accounts of his giving money to people,
not least in January 1996 from a lady and her family we visited in Bangalore
who was the leader of the Brindavan bhajan group, S. Prabha, and who performed arathi to Sathya Sai Baba there for many years. She had been in daily contact
with him whenever he was at Brindavan, had fed him in her house and he
had married both her sons etc. We were told:-
|A man in Harayana, a Mr. Grover had a dream of Sathya Sai Baba around 1980
where he was told that he must flee his house immediately - within
the day - with his family and go to Bangalore because his own brother
was on the way to murder him! On the strength of this dream alone,
the man took his family and about Rs. 5000.- (all he could get)
and left house and riches behind. He met Sathya Sai Baba eventually, who told
him never to return to his house but to lay low - telling his brother
nothing of his whereabouts - and also told him to purchase a particular
car. He had no money and said so. Sathya Sai Baba said that he knew this and
gave the money to him on the spot, during darshan at Brindavan.
Not knowing how to manage, he kept going to darshan. Soon a man
introduced himself to him in the darshan lines and invited him without
further ado to become a business partner. He began to thrive and
is now settled and well-to-do.
One can interpret the above in various ways... Sai believers will
see it as a wonderful rescue from fratricide. Everyone else would regard
this as false, or at best a mass of assumptions and projections. The fact
that the man met a business partner would be ascribed to Sathya Sai Baba by followers,
but again, others may not think this so very extraordinary. Besides, Sai
followers tend strongly to accept each other much more easily than outsiders,
seeing them as 'brothers and 'Sai family'. The interesting bit in the
above is that Sathya Sai Baba gave him money on the spot, enough to buy a car!
Sathya Sai Baba is locally well known for giving rupees as handouts. A blind beggar,
who stood for many years at a corner near to Puttaparthi and called out
to every passing car for alms, would receive some rupees from Sathya Sai Baba whenever
he passed by in his vehicle. Further, the semi-official biographer of
Sathya Sai Baba, Ra. Ganapati, reports Sathya Sai Baba giving money to a poor tailor
from Mangalore (Baba: Sathya Sai II - p. 65).
In Sanathana Sarathi (August 1991, page 223) we can read a
much publicised verbatim report of questions and answers between SSN and
his 9-year old and totally brainwashed schoolboy, Sai Giridhar, Sathya Sai Baba insists
on giving him a 100-rupee note. Sathya Sai Baba is quoted as saying "Now take
this 100-rupee note and put it properly in your pocket."
Last, but not least, Sathya Sai Baba is alleged by some of the young men who report
sexual abuse by him that he gave them hush money along with typical pedophile
threats of what he would do if they told of the abuses. Timothy Conway’s Letter to a longtime friend, posted on exposé websites,
contains the following: "Baba has threatened to deny interviews to
many of the boys' parents if the boys resist his sexual predatory behavior.
He has paid or bribed most of these male youth for sexual favors and for
their silence with money, rings, watches, etc.-- up to $10,000 for one
boy (an American youth well known to several former members of our Santa
Barbara Sai Center)"
From a diary of a 15-year old American boy, well-known to persons
I fully trust and attested as genuine by them, one can read about "two
interviews with Sathya Sai Baba on Sept. 20 and Sept. 23, 1999":
“Sometimes you are wasting money. Sometimes mother doesn’t give. There’s
no income.” (He waved his hand and out popped six 500 rupee bills. He
counted them [Rs. 3000]) “For food. Spend it. keep it inside. Inside!
(I put it in my wallet.) Don’t tell anyone!” even Mother?