A NEW SERIES OF REGULAR EXPOSÉ POSTINGS BEGINS NOW:
By Robert Priddy
No. 3: HOW MOST INDIAN GURUS OPERATE
My contact with an Indian swami who I knew in the 1960s and 70s before meeting SB, one whom I eventually considered to be my guru for a period, taught me much about gurus' techniques and agendas in their relationship to devotees. I did not enter the relationship to that swami with an unduly sceptical mind, on the contrary... I believed much of what I was told about him and what he said, also about himself. He enrolled me as his follower without my comments. I did not hear him say that he was God, but heard that he had said this to others, and I did not think it feasible as such! However, there came a time after about 14 years since first I met him, when a number of the glorifying tales about him and some of his own more concrete claims began to look decidedly shaky compared with what I could observe myself or was informed about frankly by devotees. I did not set out to challenge this guru, but found that I just had to question him so as to clear up my doubts, which had become unbearable! I wrote him a letter expressing some of my worries, that I was in doubt about the validity of some things he had said and done. I was expecting some kind of helpful reply, some explanation.
Instead of any aid to me in regaining full faith, I received a very pointed censorious letter - like the reply to a challenge - which ran on into irrelevancies and at last petered out in half-intelligible wanderings and childish scribbles! It was written in the hand of the swami himself, instead of a dictated letter - which he often got some of his devotees to write for him instead of having to pen it himself. In hindsight I can see that he did not want his actual reply to become known to the devotees and he counted on my not showing them the letter, as I in fact never did. The reason for his reticence was most likely that he sensed that he was revealing in the letter his own lack of understanding of me, or of normal compassion and - not least - he showed how stung he was by my mild questions and the fact that I even dared to ask them! (His devotees always treated him like a regal lion among mice, hardly able even to squeak). He must have realised then thThe swami had to explain to them why I had left, but this he could do verbally on his own ground and in his own terms for their consumption.
He had at least understood that I was not so easy to beguile into the usual subservience and that I would be a potential threat to his community because of my ability (unlike any others) to stand up to him, as I had also done literally face to face (without any special ego feeling) on a previous occasion in which he tried to convince and/or bamboozle me into getting married. As it happened, I later decided that I would follow his advice (which was my own actual desire anyhow) and this convinced my present wife to agree, which she would not previously! So my ego was not the problem, for I accepted the guru's wish. Yet later I found that there were other matters, not least financial, and promises he had made to the group of followers, which were not carried out properly.
Only recently was I told that this Swami (since deceased), said to devotees of me that I was "very strong and also later, that I was a sceptic. A 'septic tank'." A typical nasty pun, doubtless used on all who rejected him as 'the master'. This came from one of whom I always spoke about to others and wrote about very respectfully (as in my published book 'Source of the Dream' - praising SB, where I describe my relationship to him and to SB at the time). I only said to some of his followers who demanded a reason for my default that the swami had told me a lie, which was a fact. (Lies are tests, you see... if you swallow them all, you are hooked nicely). I was accused by them and him of the usual sin, 'too much ego', as SB devotees and SB himself also love to say of doubters! (In short, for my human and spiritual values and convictions and a willingness to stand by them until shown better, truer ones!)
The whole process I have just outlined has been repeated time and again by SB towards his followers. This I recognise mostly only in retrospect, for - at the time - I was enchanted by SB's more considerable powers than my previous swami had shown, and by the whole apparently beneficial and professedly near-saintly three-ring circus that is the Sai movement. I have heard any number of accounts that are - in principle - the same. It is pertinent to remark that SB has frequently said that talking behind people's backs or back-biting is the most heinous sin, the greatest of sins! (My ex-guru supposedly sinned most vilely thus against me, but I can forgive him, poor fellow!). Everyone with eyes can see that SB uses such powerful exaggerations all the time... and in this case it seems eminently designed also to stop followers for criticising HIM to others! (This he seems to rate as THE major demonic act!). He does not list sexual abuse of minors as a sin, he never ever mentions it anywhere! He does not even list cold-blooded murder as a sin... But to doubt the guru or to criticise him, that is sufficient, he has said (in his notorious, damning discourse on Xmas day, 2000) to cause one to have to live through many successive lives of shame! Who can really believe this? I can't... it is just too transparently a case of threatening, spiteful pique at having had his bluff called and his own blatant and really serious sins revealed!