How 'it' works
By Hari Sampath
I would like to share with you all a few things I observed about the whole Sai Baba setup, during my years there as a member of the Ashram intelligence and security detail.
First of all, let me say those things that I know for a fact. Sai Baba is a HUGE fraud and has quite a few people helping him at various levels. Most of the serious help and active assistance comes from a very close inner coterie of not more than 6 to 10 individuals, almost all Indians, and been with Sai Baba for several decades. It is this group that has total control over the trust funds and report directly and only to Sai Baba.
There is second level of people probably numbering between 12 to 20 persons, and this includes a few overseas people. These people also sometimes report directly to Sai Baba , but mostly have to go through one of the inner coterie. This group does not control trust funds, but have limited access to funds based on Sai Baba and the inner coterie sanctioning it. It is from this section that very loyal and committed people are appointed to the inner coterie.
NOTE : ALL the people in the Inner coterie and the second circle KNOW for a fact that Sai Baba is hardly Divine but deliberately promote the belief among lower levels of followers.
Some functions of the Inner coterie: Overall organization of the Sai Baba funds, investing the money, interacting with Government agencies, politicians etc.
Some functions of the second group: Support layer for inner group, keeping the Sai Baba myth alive overseas, promoting activity among foreign devotees, subtly organizing big donations, and MOST IMPORTANTLY promoting the "miracles" part of the show, both among Indian nationals as well as foreign devotees. Most of the second layer people might be presidents of Sai councils in various countries, or big states in India.
HIGH LEVEL OVERVIEW
Having given a brief summary of the setup at the very top, here is a high level overview of how it all works. Remember that there are thousands of details attended to by hundreds of people at various levels on a daily basis, all with different levels of beliefs, loyalties and power.
The very innermost coterie are usually members of the Sai Baba central trust, and are rarely changed. This trust also includes very eminent men from high positions, but these "public figures" are never given any funds handling authority, but more to act as an effective link to the corridors of power, to add respectability to the Sai Baba org, and they have their own vested interests by way of career advancements, for gaining political favors in exchange for helping money laundering etc. These people usually are direct contacts of other members of the inner coterie who directly report to Sai Baba and have been "recruited" as a result of continuous visits over several years and having publicly committed themselves as "Sai Baba devotees".
These members of the central trust would probably have their partial or total involvement in all trust related activities and it would always be in their own interests to keep the "Sai Baba myth" floating, failing which they themselves would be in serious trouble. In fact, they happily go on, given the advantages of doing so, and the disaster of not doing so. ALL these people KNOW that Sai Baba is a fraud, but NEVER discuss it even among themselves. They compete among themselves to be Sai Baba's "right hand" and Sai Baba uses the policy of divide and rule and no one dares to even convey the impression that he believes Sai Baba to be a hoax.
One of the most reliable sources of information about these people is their immediate family members as I found out. Upon carefully cultivating relationships with some of their family members, I found that these people hardly had any respect for Sai Baba in private, were least worried about Sai Baba's "omniscience" or "powers" and NEVER relied upon Sai Baba's divinity when it came to matters concerning themselves. Also, whenever ANY report of a "miracle" was mentioned in their presence, they always had a "knowing" and cynical expression on their faces, something very strange for those who were very close to "god". Sai Baba , of course knows that they all know, but also that they are circumstantially in his power, often by choice.
Examples of these top level "recruits" would be eminent jurists, top judges, high level govt. officials etc . Examples of the "real in bred top coterie" would be very close members of Sai Baba's family, acquaintances from Sai Baba's early days, and also those "devotees" who had been demonstrating their "loyalty" after knowing everything about Sai Baba. NO ONE at this level ever believes Sai Baba's divinity because they all know he is NOT god, which is why they have been appointed.
The members of the second level, usually comprising national level presidents of Sai Baba organizations and state level presidents of large states in India , have their own set of authorities and responsibilities. They completely control state level funds and country level finances in the case of overseas organizations. There are several smaller level trusts in all the countries, and also all the states in India. These trusts are supposedly meant for channeling money easily to the main Sai Baba central trust and they do that too, but the second level people are given ample opportunity to bag some money as a reward for "loyalty". All the accountants of the foreign councils, and state level trusts are appointed by these second level "presidents", most of whom are businessmen in their own lives.
Another common trick all these people do is to simply divert interest coming from the various trust investments into their own private funds and businesses, all with Sai Baba's "blessings". Also, they use the trust funds and huge investments as guarantees for raising loans for their businesses, and get favors from financial institutions for putting the trust funds in those institutions.
Now, it is easy to understand why a Trust with known assets of around $ 15 billion has only ever contributed around Rs 1000 millions over its entire history. MONEY, very simply put, the same old weakness BIG MONEY, that is what makes the whole thing go around. Most people, even long time devotees, have absolutely NO IDEA of the kind of big money involved. The value of huge estates and properties donated by wealthy devotees, long dead, is simply too much, and hardly a few people will ever have an accurate estimate. I have talked to a few second level accountants' families and what I have quoted above is from that source.
These national presidents and trust members keep their junior level officials of the Sai Baba org on a tight leash. The reward for these smaller level officials, for their "loyalty" is an annual interview with Sai Baba arranged by the second level trust members. Most of these people do not know the entire Sai Baba story, some of them even believe he is "divine" and powerful and act in misguided beliefs. Others know exactly what is happening, and are just playing their parts to get "promoted" as they would in any business. These people arrange all the conferences, delegations, devotee groups, seva dals, various activities of promoting the Sai Baba org like service activities, educational activities all over the world etc.
But it is usually only people from the second layer who get plum responsibilities like positions in the University, hospital etc.
The trust members are the ones with maximum access to Sai Baba apart from the "special" students. Most of the college activities, welfare activities and Ashram administration is carried on by members of the second layer. The central trust members are also ruled by an iron hand and ALL checks would have to be signed by Sai Baba and one more member of the central trust.
Practically all the contracts and Ashram related businesses are given to members of the inner coterie and the second layer. The members of the second layer like presidents of councils overseas are ever on the lookout for "influential" and wealthy devotees from their countries. Whenever anyone like that comes along, a complete history of that person is gathered by the top official of that particular country and submitted to some member of the inner coterie.
When the unsuspecting wealthy devotee arrives in PN for the first time, he/she is given an apartment by "Swami's Grace" and worked on by members of the inner coterie. All that the devotee will ever hear is stories of "Swami's miracles", "Swami's healing powers" etc, especially if that person has a health problem etc. And then Sai Baba will make that person wait for a reasonable time and "Grant" an interview, usually a short group meeting and promise another one soon. Sai Baba will tell them details of their personal lives from his "powers", actually what they would have told fellow group members or someone else. Later, they will get a private interview in which they will be given a "watch" , "materialized ring" etc and asked to do sadhana , i.e. not talk to anyone about anything, especially Indian devotees and people in the village.
The devotee will be encouraged by Sai Baba to read only spiritual teachings (Sai Baba stories) and helped by the odd coincidence, interpretation of coincidences, "materialization" and the "spiritual atmosphere" would become completely brainwashed into thinking that Sai Baba has specially chosen them. After more talks about "seva", "charity", "ceiling on desires", "material detachment" etc, they will feel "blessed" enough by Swami to be "allowed" to make a donation, will ask him, and he will say " I don't want your money, only your heart" and refuse to take any money.
They will leave after their first trip, fully convinced about Sai Baba's Divinity, and also his sincerity. The overseas council president will keep a careful eye on them and ensure that they really think that Sai Baba does not want money. The wealthy devotee will feel they are not "pure" enough at that stage to give the Lord, and will patiently wait their turn and accumulate the money.
Later, after a couple of visits, and a lot of "pleading" with Swami to allow them to help his mission, they will be blessed with "purity" and "allowed to give without ego".
Result: One more fish bites the bait .
I had heard all the myths in my earlier years as a "devotee" of Sai Baba. In my later years, I was a volunteer and had the opportunity to work in the Ashram intelligence and security wing. This put me in contact with a lot of senior volunteers and Ashram residents who had been around for long. By talking to them about the specific circumstances of the so-called miracles I was able to find out what had exactly happened in all of the above cases.
In this context I wish to inform everyone about a few things that the Ashram intelligence does. As stories of Sai Baba's miracles are really huge in numbers, there have been several instances where some people had tried to make money by "arranging" Sai Baba "miracles" and saying that by worshipping in this house or that, all problems will be solved and it is Sai Baba who has appointed this "agent" etc. This is rather common in the southern states of India.
The Ashram intelligence had developed a mechanism by which they investigate the source of these "miracles" and check out the motives of the persons behind them. This is also done to prevent Sai Baba from being associated with any "miracles" that may possibly be exposed as fraud at a later date, and give Sai Baba bad publicity. Of course, the original intention of the Ashram intelligence wing is to protect the "genuineness" of Sai Baba's "miracles", and prevent unscrupulous elements from "using" Sai Baba's name. Most of the people involved with intelligence and security at the Ashram really believe in Sai Baba's divinity and so they act like this. In fact this setup exists specifically on Sai Baba's orders, and I have personally investigated so many "miracles" myself.
But what is most important is, during these processes of investigation, I have come across so many "genuine miracles", attested and approved of by Sai Baba , that I know personally to be totally mistaken cases, and often deliberately "arranged" by the inner coterie themselves.
Naturally, in these instances, I could not take it up to the higher authorities in the Sai Baba org, as they themselves were guilty of arranging "miracles" and Sai Baba himself is perfectly aware of all this. There are hundreds of "famous miracles" that I had personally verified to be cases of MISTAKE by the people experiencing them, and actively promoted by the Sai Baba org , and also several more "miracles" that are a result of misinformation spread by over enthusiastic devotees, who do not even bother to check facts properly.
The Sai Org's strategy is very clear on how to approach this.
1. If some outsider is trying to "use" Sai Baba's name to make money, they simply ask the intelligence wing to investigate, and confirm it and put out a notice in Sanathana Sarathi, or make general announcements. This also gives the impression of other "miracles" approved by Sai Baba as being genuine.
2. If it is case of mistaken "miracles" spread by over enthusiastic devotees, then the Ashram intelligence reports it as such, and the Org officials "allow" it to stay and circulate, thereby gaining "good publicity" for Sai Baba's "miracles" , while at the same time the Org can always dissociate from the stories if they were seen to be mistaken cases by the devotees and public later.
3. In the case of a "miracle" that was arranged by the Org itself, and usually this is done very carefully by trusted inner coterie members and targeted at wealthy western devotees or someone working on a book, if the Intelligence wing happens to uncover this, the instructions were to simply turn away and not talk to anyone about it. The explanation always was "Sai Baba is God and we cannot understand all these things, so ignore it".
I am sure that all of you would be able to relate to the manner in which the Sai Baba org controls things, as you yourself may have seen examples of all the above things, somewhere, sometime.