Comment from Elena. A. Hartering on
Keith Bradsher's article on SSB
Posted by: marswalker108
Date: Tue Dec 10, 2002 6:01 p.m.
Subject: Keith Bradsher's article on SSB
I was shocked to read Keith Bradsher's article, A Friend in India To All The World (New York Times, December 1, 2002). It is obvious Mr. Bradsher failed to research Sathya Sai Baba's background, otherwise he would not have written such a one sided article. While it is true Baba is a self proclaimed holy man who purportedly performs miracles, teaches respect for all religions and non-violence, and has attracted followers from around the world, there is also a dark side. Based on credible testimony from former students and ex-devotees around the world, Baba has demonstrated himself to be a trickster, charlatan and worse, a same-sex serial pedophile.
If Keith Bradsher had done his homework he would have discovered articles to this effect in the Times of London; the Daily Telegraph [London]; the Age [Melbourne, Australia]; India Today and Salon.com. Danish Broadcasting aired a powerfully indicting documentary exposing Sathya Sai Baba for serial sexual molestation of boys and young men from many countries, including the USA. An Argentinean documentary by leading South American journalist Alejandro Agostinelli exposing
Sai Baba has also aired in that country. Finally, below is a press release issued by UNESCO in September, 2000 disassociating itself from Sai Baba:
UNESCO WITHDRAWS FROM CONFERENCE
Paris, September 15 - UNESCO has decided it will no longer sponsor nor take part in a conference it had been due to co-organize with the Institute of Sathya Sai Education (ISSE, Thailand) and The Flinders University Institute of International Education (Australia), in Puttaparthi, India, from September 25 to 29. The decision means UNESCO is no longer associated in any way through sponsorship, organization or participation of any kind with the conference on Strengthening Values Education: Innovative Approaches to Teacher Education for Peace and International Understanding.
UNESCO's withdrawal was prompted by several factors. Certain decisions were taken by the ISSE without consultation, such as plans to hold some of the sessions at the Ashram of the Sathya Sai movement in Puttaparthi, and the inclusion of some speakers in the conference program without their previous consent. Furthermore, the Organization is deeply concerned about widely-reported allegations of sexual abuse involving youths and children that have been leveled at the leader of the movement in question, Sathya Sai Baba. Whilst it is not for UNESCO to pronounce itself in this regard, the Organization restates its firm moral and practical commitment to combating the sexual exploitation of children, in application of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which requires States to protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation and violence.
There are a number of testimonies from individuals from around the world on the Internet that supports the allegations against Sai Baba. I am a licensed psychotherapist who has treated many victims of sexual abuse. I find the testimonials of Sai Baba's victims credible and consistent with the literature on the subject. There are former devotees world-wide trying to enlist the help of the press to expose Sai Baba and the organization that supports him.
In addition, Brasher's article failed to mention Baba has stated repeatedly he is God incarnate. His devotees believe him, thus they worship him as a "divine" being and obey his command to subject their will to his "divine" will. Although donations are not solicited publicly, [and it is against Indian law to solicit donations at ashrams] many wealthy devotees have been privately encouraged by the Baba organization to donate money, which financed the buildings described by Bradsher, along with the tremendous growth of the ashram's physical facilities. It is this type of cult thinking and behavior that allows parents to surrender their young sons during eagerly sought personal "interviews" with Sai Baba, too often for his sexual gratification.
Your article has now been picked up by other newspapers. Its favorable content serves to legitimize this cult and puts innocent children at risk. I believe you have an absolute obligation to conduct an independent investigation and print a more balanced article about Sai Baba.
Elena A. Hartgering
Elena A. Hartgering