Lesson 2: God: A primer

God men and women: A case study


Date: 06-22-06

Copied from: http://www.suite101.com/course/print_lesson.cfm/19320/2954/3

I can still remember the face of my mother as she sat in rapt attention, listening to a Sai Baba devotee recounting one of her experiences of the God man’s awesome capabilities. The lady was cleaning her home when she spotted a spectacled cobra in her living room slithering towards her baby. On an impulse (Oh Yeah!) she ran to the stereo set and switched on a recording of Sai Baba’s devotional songs. The snake, she claimed, exited the room immediately and disappeared into the garden. She was convinced that the God man had come to her aid and hoped that my mother would realise the truth and join the ranks of millions of followers all over the world.

My mother did accept a small packet containing holy ash created from thin air by the saint himself, but she was not ready to buy into the pitch. And she even joked that the devotional song must have been so darn bad, even a creature like a snake with little or no hearing abilitiy had to run out of the room for dear life. My family members are especially wary of normal people claiming to be the reincarnation of God on earth. But I cannot say the same about the rest of my countrymen and millions of others around the world. When the stone idol in the temple has proved to be a boring option, people are turning to self appointed Gods to address their burning issues.

There are scores of men and women, claiming to be spiritual healers, who have the answer to all the problems in the world. What starts of as a small ashram grows into a multi million-dollar industry! With the constant flow of tax-free donations from inebriated folks their pockets grow fatter and fatter. The fact that these fraudulent people utilise a small proportion of their income to build hospitals or educational institutions is seen as having earth-shattering consequences and illegal activities guised as philanthropy escape the scrutiny from authorities.

In India several incidents have proved that there exists some form of hidden alliance between God men/women and government authorities. This is evident from the eagerness of the Police and other agencies to destroy incriminating evidence connecting many of these ashrams to murders, illegal organ trade and sexual offences, as in the case of the murder of six inmates of Prashanti Nilayam in Satya Sai Baba's bedroom. All were part of the inner circle of Sai Baba, among whom was Radha Krishna Menon, the personal assistant who was caught on videotape passing a necklace secretly to Baba during one of his materialisations. It was alleged that assailants killed two of the dead in an attempt to murder Baba. The police claimed to have shot the other four assailants (who were armed only with knives) in self-defence.

The current craze in India happens to be Mata Amritanandamayi, fondly known as Amma or mother. The mystic, dressed in a white sari, hugs and kisses her devotees who are instantly cleansed of all sorrows. A close observation of some of her tactics sheds light on the strategy adopted by these demi gods to lure in susceptible individuals.

Sceptics and non-believers are dragged to prayer meetings (the size of which is enough to convert the doubter) by relatives or friends. The apprehensive look on their face is an easy give away for the God man/woman who then proceeds to invite the ‘now petrified’ individual to the stage and ask them about their well being. The victim is now thoroughly convinced that he/she was not randomly picked up from the crowd, but spotted by the saint with his/her divine binoculars. These unscrupulous people also employ other forms of brainwashing to trap their unsuspecting prey.

Often people are pressured into believing in the supernatural abilities of people like Mata Amritanandamayi. With a strong public relations wing generating a constant stream of articles, pamphlets, books and videos, these figures achieve cult status in a matter of years, to the extent that newspapers run special supplements on a regular basis to advertise appearances and prayer meetings. Some serious political clout does not harm their business either. The presence of the President, the Prime Minister and other high-ranking officials at inaugurations, prayer meetings and anniversary celebrations is now taken for granted.

To get more insight into this phenomenon let’s look at the case of the God man Sai Baba to whom I was referring earlier in this chapter.

Sai Baba: A Case Study

Lets take at a brief look at the biography of this self-styled saviour who has taken human form to restore Dharma.

Sri Satya Sai Baba was born Satyanarayan Raju in 1926 in the village of Puttaparthi, Andra Pradesh, India. At the age of 14 he had a series of strange experiences, which his family and others believed at the time to be demonic possession. Soon after one of these, Satyanarayan asserted that the spirit of a guru known as Sai Baba of Shirdi, Maharashtra, who had died more than twenty years earlier, had come into him. Shirdi Sai Baba (1856 –1918) was admired in his lifetime for his austere lifestyle and particularly for the miracles that were attributed to him. During the later period of his life, he claimed to be God and was venerated as such by his followers. Satyanarayan, who appropriated the name Satya Sai Baba, likewise claims to be God. In support of his claim, Satyanarayan began early on to work the ‘miracles’ for which he has since become renowned and which have led to a growing number of followers. The ‘miracles’ include materializing sugar candy, flowers, vibhuti (sacred ash) and other presents for his devotees. They also include healing the sick and knowing the thoughts of his disciples whatever be the distance between them. His followers even claim that Sai Baba has restored two dead men to life. These ‘miracles’ are adduced as proof of Sai Baba’s divinity and specifically of his ability to create out of nothing. Satya Sai Baba has prophesied that he will leave his present body in the year 2022, when he would be 96 years of age. But he will immediately be reborn for a third time as an avatar named Prema Sai Baba. He has specified that this final appearance will take place in the Mandya district of Karnataka State. (Hughes 2000)

Sounds familiar doesn’t it. It’s not the first time that humanity has encountered lunatics with inflated egos calling themselves ‘the creator of the universe’. But Satya Sai Baba takes it one step further. With each passing year a growing number of former devotees are coming forward with sworn testimonies of how the god man sexually abused them. The embarrassing tales recounted by victims have severely tarnished the image of the Satya Sai Baba movement in the international arena with the UNESCO withdrawing its support for a conference on "Strengthening Values Education" at Sai Baba's headquarters at Puttaparthi last year. This has come close on the heels of closure of several Sai Baba schools in Sweden.

The so-called miracles have also proved to be bogus. Here are some instances of proven fakery:

1.The DECCAN CHRONICLE is a Hyderabad-based English daily with a large circulation. On 23 November, 1992 it published on its front page pictures from a video recording of Satya Sai Baba's ‘creation’ of a gold necklace, in the presence of the Prime Minister of India, Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao. The videotape of the event appeared to show unambiguously Satya Sai Baba being passed a necklace clandestinely by his personal assistant Radhakrishna Menon, which later Satya Sai Baba ‘materializes’ after a wave of his hand.

2.Working on behalf of the Dutch newspaper DE VOLKSKRANT, Piet Vroon was at Puttaparthi to film Baba at "work". He and his partner reported that they saw Baba remove rings, necklaces and watches from behind flower vases and from pillows on his chair. They also detected Sai Baba holding vibhuti balls in one hand, transferring them to the other hand, pulverising them and distributing them. Vibhuti was also alleged to be hidden in his mouth and removed while wiping his face, which Baba does very often. In his report of December 5, 1992 Vroon's conclusion is unambiguous: "we just think that he's a trickster and a cheat."

3.A Committee was set up by Bangalore University to carry out an investigation. Through its work Sai Krishna, a 7 year-old ‘miracle’ boy and protégé of Sai Baba, was exposed as a fraud. Three members of the committee observed the boy produce sacred ash on July 15, 1976. However, it was no miracle. They found that the ash was hidden in the boy’s vest and came out when he pulled a string hidden in his clothes. (Hughes 2000)

Explosives like land mines and plastic explosives have been unearthed from ‘the abode of peace’ (Prasanthi Nilayam). The Ashram has also been accused of being a part of an international organ trade racket.

The Marathi language weekly LOK PRABHA, of January 19, 1996, published an account concerning the SATYA SAI INSTITUTE OF HIGHER MEDICAL SCIENCES, in which a peasant from the Latur district of Maharastra was to have received his son Balaji's kidney in a transplant operation. Whereas the son’s kidney was removed, a scan carried out later revealed that his father had not received the kidney. (Hughes 2000)

It is quite clear from the overwhelming amount of evidence that this ‘incarnation of God’ is a child molester, serial sex offender, murderer and fraud. Why people hold such criminals in high esteem is beyond my comprehension. This particular case also reveals how criminal elements trick humans by the sleight of hand and brainwash them into trusting them blindly, before abusing them.

To read about the testimonials of Sai Baba’s victims and to view revealing videos of his purported miracles visit www.exbaba.com. The site contains links to articles and websites that have investigated the shady past of the God man. I hope that everyone makes a personal effort to watch the enlightening documentary Seduced by Sai Baba by Øjvind Kyrø, produced by DR TV in Denmark.


•Hughes, Louis. Who Is Sai Baba? 2000. Webpage. Dialog Center. Available: http://www.dci.dk/en/mtrl/saibabaeng.htm 3 July 2004.

•Kennedy, Ludovic. All in the Mind: A Farewell to God. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1999.

•Smart, Ninian. The Religious Experience of Mankind. London: Collins, 1969