Deity dancing

It may have been impossible to miss the football last week - especially during the ads - but when it came to the magic touch, faith-healing guru 'the Secret Swami' proved that the Beckhams and Zidanes weren't the only man-gods in town


Date: 07-11-04

By: Kathryn Flett

Original date: Sunday June 20, 2004

Excerpt from: The Observer

This World: The Secret Swami BBC2

Panorama BBC1

Real Crime: Who Killed the Pageant Queen? ITV1

Euro 2004 ITV1

'Do as I say or your life will be full of pain and suffering'.

No, not Big Brother to the housemates, Sven in the dressing room at 4.45pm on Thursday or even the delightful pig farmer, Jimmy Doherty (of BBC2's equally delightful Jimmy's Farm) to his 'gay' boar, Blaze, but, allegedly, the not-so-sage advice of the Indian avatar, Sai Baba, to one of his (good-looking, teenage, American) male followers after an inappropriately intimate one-on-one.

Whether sleazy paedophile or over-enthusiastic practitioner of what he claims are 'ritual healing processes', the 'Living God' has about 30 million devotees worldwide and endorsements from a succession of Indian prime ministers - odd really, given his unsavoury demeanour and platitudinous religious philosophy (in a neat bit of cross-branding his 'Love all, serve all' mission statement was co-opted by Baba devotee and Hard Rock Cafe founder Isaac Tigrett who, apart from contributing to the obesity epidemic, has also done a great deal of good with his own many millions).

I've not spent quality time with as many man-gods as I would have liked, obviously, but I would have thought that even a profoundly unenlightened soul can spot the difference between a living deity and a living goat. Though not interviewed for the film, there was plenty of footage of his shifty-eyed Swami-ship performing shoddy close-up 'miracles', materialising fake Rolexes and 'giving birth to golden egg-shaped objects through his mouth'. He really needs to catch up with the latest trends in close-up 'miracles' from David Blaine or Derren Brown because with an act this poor he'd be lucky to make it into the Magic Circle, never mind jump the queue for Nirvana.