Date: 02-02-04

Document date: 02-16-04

By: Serguei Badaev


Peter Gussev was a Russian devotee of Sathya Sai Baba. He was a tall, strong football player and he was among the first people who had heard about SSB in Russia. I think it was at the end of 80's and there was  'perestroika' in Russia. Peter was in his twenties and managed to earn rather a lot of money doing business. After that he left Russia, bought an apartment in a new block of flats in Puttaparthi and moved to live in India. As far as I know he did not work there, he just did sadhana, in other words, went to darshans, meditated, sang bhajans and followed SSB during his journeys to Whitefield near Bangalore or Kodaikanal, SSB's summer residence in Tamil Nadu. 

I saw him for the first time in Prashanthi Nilayam in 1995. His flat was not completely decorated yet but many Russian devotees visited him and, I guess, many dreamt to live next to Swami in their own flats in Puttaparthi. Peter looked and behaved like an experienced sadhaka: serenity, detached smile, inner concentration. I was told that he practised periods of complete silence from time to time. That year I had my first group interview with SSB. And Peter was in our group. During the interview he was next to SSB. Someone told me that SSB wanted him to go back to Russia but Peter refused. He himself never told me about that.  

His life took dramatic turn in 1998. It was July, Gurupurnima festival. I was in Prashanthi with all my family. As I was an office bearer of the Russian Sai Organisation, some people came to me and informed me that there was something wrong with Peter. First of all I was told that Peter had been seen absolutely naked in a street in Puttaparthi some days before. Nobody could explain that because I happened to know Peter practically stopped by that time any contacts with other Russian devotees who permanently lived in the ashram. Many reported that Peter had changed a lot, he was not as kind and serene as earlier, he sometimes was irritated with people and even angry of them. Honestly speaking, I did not want to be involved with this case, I did not know him well and he was not a member of the Organisation. But then some Russians who lived next door to him in the same block of flats told me that Peter had not come out of his room for several days. I guess someone had a key so we managed to enter his room. He was lying under a mosquito net as if he was sleeping. We checked medicines in his room to be sure he had not been using sleeping pills or something. Some people believed it was a very deep meditation, other people suspected some disease. Anyway, Peter showed no signs of consciousness, and the breathing was very feeble. As we found that no food or water was used for a long time we decided to take a rikshaw and transport him to the General Hospital in Puttaparthi. Loss of liquid can be very dangerous in a hot climate.

We were lucky because Ravi Shankar Polisetti was working in the hospital that time. Ravi was Indian (probably from Madras) who studied medicine in Belorussia and was one of the founders of the Sai movement there. After finishing his studies he went back to India and got the position of doctor in the General Hospital. Many of us knew him personally. Ravi did all the analysis, including a spinal column puncture, to make sure there were no diseases. All the night Russian devotees kept duty next to his bed in turn. In the morning those who came to relieve tired people heard the strange story that in the morning consciousness suddenly came back to Peter, he was very angry at Ravi and other people, he shouted at them took his clothes and left for his apartment. Witnesses said that he was able to describe some manipulations, which had been made with his body and whicht meant his consciousness had been somewhere nearby.  

That situation soon became known to the SSO leader T.Meyer who was a coordinator of the SSO for the former Soviet Union. He was concerned that the story should become known to Swami. The problem was also that Peter's visa had expired and that might have a very serious consequences. T.Meyer even took me to the local police station to ask them to help. However in several days Peter was again found in his room under mosquito net without any sign of consciousness. Here T.Meyer told me to take Peter to Bangalor to the NIMHANS neuro- and psychiatric Hospital. We took a taxi put Peter's body into it and went early in the morning to Bangalore. In the hospital they agreed to take him if someone would care for him as a nurse, so I stayed all night next to his bed sitting on a stool and telling doctors about the case and doing some simple procedures. Again analyses were made, including a spinal column punction. After that at about midnight even tomography was done. No desease was found. At about midnight his consciousness started coming back to him step by step. There were convulsions and deep breathing. When he saw me, he recognised me at once and started discussing when we would go back home. In the morning a psychiatrist had a short talk with him and after that they wrote a conclusion that they could not find any organic or psychiatric diseases. I took a taxi and we went home to Puttaparthi. 

On our way home Peter was quite normal, he even asked me about people's reaction to what happened. It was clear that he did not want people to interrupt him. I told him that he had to go somewhere to the wilderness or to inform somehow other people what was going on. He grinned.   

Soon after that in the end of July our family left Puttaparthi. The situation with Peter was uncertain. Some people believed that his relatives should be called to come, other people believed that everything was OK now, a crisis was over. Once in Moscow we learnt that on 17th August 1998 Peter Gussev had committed suicide in his apartment. We were told later that someone heard him crying out one night "Swami! Swami!" in his room. 

His body was cremated on the bank of the Chitravati river before his cousin could arrive from Russia. Several times some Russians tried to ask SSB about Peter but he answered "Hush! Hush!" or "I know. I know." In this, as in other instances, one sees how SSB and his officials show no concern or care other than to ensure that such bad events are hushed up as far as possible so as supposedly to protect the name of SSB.