HOW THE 1993 MURDERS RETURNED TO HAUNT US
By: Robert Priddy
Happy and secure in my faith in the divine goodness of Sai Baba, backed by decades of experience of him that was mostly positive, I did not find it hard to believe that he could have had no part whatever in the six murders that were committed in June 1993. So unquestioning was my faith that I accepted, in the main, the mostly irrelevant statements he made in the admittedly vague and rambling discourse some weeks later. Even some of Dr. Michael Goldstein's emotional outbursts and unbalanced ramblings in his letter to Sai devotees seemed to make things seem somewhat like a divine enigma that we could not hope to understand. (But this ploy is often used by SB to avoid telling or explaining anything that does not suit him).The old excuse, 'only Swami knows the reason' soon clicked in with the followers. But then, I knew virtually nothing about the circumstances at that time, mostly only the carefully contrived bits of Sai Org. 'information' (cynical disinformation, actually).
Written instructions were sent out by leaders of the Sathya Sai Organisation (eg. Indulal Shah, Central Office and Michael Goldstein) not to question or discuss anything about the incident, but to ignore it and rather concentrate on oneself and one's own spiritual practice (i.e, based on the same principle as ever, namely: God does only what is good, any bad is done by us)! This is all very well, if you care nothing for the victims, the truth of the matter, justice or if one accepts the clumsy and despicable cover-up attempted by the ashram, the police, the Andhra Pradesh State authorities and the Indian Government (in the person of then Home Minister of the Indian Government, S.B. Chavan).
In 1995, at the 70th birthday celebrations, I began to hear about the whole episode from a high-standing Indian Administrative Service Vigilance Officer, whose close colleague had been personally involved in the early investigations. The entire account was so shocking and so many confusing points remained unanswered that it seemed impossible to evaluate what was false witness and what genuine, and to piece together the evidence so as to see who might be responsible and what motives the various involved persons could have had. I set about getting inside information from persons whose judgement and honesty I could really trust. This I collated with the many press reports. Eventually the invaluable book by B. Premanand (Murders in Sai Baba's Bedroom') provided a mass of documentary transcripts and other evidence which helped me to understand how massive the cover-up to protect SB and his brother was.
During the hours that passed while the four intruders who had killed SB's two attendants were locked in his apartment, various persons reportedly visited SB in the garage annex to the temple. Witnesses reported seeing his younger brother Janakiramiah, Joga Rao enter and exit shortly before the shots from police rifles were heard by many residents and visitors. Were Janakiramiah, Jog Rao and SB just discussing the weather, or maybe SB was further repeating his compassionate teaching, 'Help ever, harm never' and "See no evil, hear no evil, do no evil"? Moreover, later informed by an elderly and devoted Bangalore businessman, a contractor who worked on the hall at Brindavan (whose name I withhold for his sake) and whose close relative he claimed was there at the time, that SB was standing for some time behind the Prashanti temple where some women devotees and a number of students who had heard the alarm bells in the police station arrived. The police staggered drunkenly onto the scene only after a very long time. However, almost all other reports state that Baba went along the first floor balcony to a room near or within the garage annex, where he remained until the whole incident was over.
The Indian press repeatedly described events, as best they were able to investigate them through eye-witnesses who were too frightened to stand forth with their names. Literally hundreds of articles were written in all as the press tried to do its duty to society. SB rubbished the entire press coverage and the journalists involved in his highly evasive 1993 Guru Purnima discourse, without explaining a single thing. However, he stated that the whole incident would only serve to increase his fame throughout the world! (Perhaps he was thinking of 'notoriety'). The complaint to the Press Council by the AP journalists' union had not appreciable effect. SB explained nothing.
In the light of official documents alone, no one can seriously contest that the killing spree by police was followed by a totally botched police cover-up. It would have made truly divine comedy directed by a humorous God from on high... were it not for the fact that two valets were murdered and four servants of SB, who had been most devoted for many years, were executed one by one in cold blood in "the holy of holies", SB's bedroom by the police under blackmail pressure from his younger brother Janakiramiah (now SB's right-hand man on the Central Trust) with the aid of other ashram and Trust officials. I swear by all the scriptures one cares to name that in my account of this I am speaking the truth as I know it. Those who want a fuller account of how the crucial facts were made known to me by V.K. Narasimhan (which facts I could for the sake of his own security not make known until after his decease).
One answer to part of the enigma I tried to adopt was that SB has to allow human affairs to take their own course so as not to usurp their will. However, SB has repeatedly denied that human beings have any kind of 'free will' and that 'only God (he means himself) has free will'. I do not accept this wholly indefensible primitive doctrine. I know that SB delegates responsibility to his workers, which can involve a considerable degree of own judgement and will power, which they may sometimes use wrongly. One person alleges that Baba, while avoiding the mob in the garage attached to the temple, was asked by officials what to do and told them to do as they liked. This is unconfirmed, but could well be correct. It has not been refuted - by any officials or SB himself. They keep as silent (like any Sicilian muerta) as the grave of their victims and hope all will eventually blow over.
Those who wish for a fuller, non-propaganda account of these events can go to: