Understanding Devotees' Loyalty
Date: 2-22-02 11:15 a.m.
By: Andries Krugers Dagneaux
From: Sathya Sai Baba Discussion Club
Excerpt from Traumatic abuse in Cults by Daniel Shaw from:
Note that Sathya Sai Baba and Daniel Shaw's guru Muktananda have met each other according to Howard Levin's book 'Good Chances' and his contemporary ashram inhabitant Tal Brooke.
The history of SYDA provides a good example of how far devotees will go to defend the person they perceive as their savior. In the early 80s, the Siddha Yoga community was shocked to learn that Muktananda, a monk in his late 60s and supposedly a lifelong celibate, had been secretly having sexual relations with western female devotees for at least ten years. While many women thought of themselves as willing participants, others felt coerced and traumatized by the experience. Often his victims were female children in their early teens. Many who were SYDA devotees at the time heard these allegations and ignored them, in spite of wide acknowledgment among those closest to Muktananda that they were true. When several devotees spoke out publicly about Muktananda's sexual abuses, two loyal devotees were dispatched by Muktananda to threaten these whistle-blowers with disfigurement and castration (Rodarmor, 1983). Nevertheless, to this day, Muktananda is worshipped by SYDA devotees as a deity.
How can this kind of loyalty be understood? Under the influence of cult mind control, devotees must make the Guru, who has magically filled the inner void, exempt from all scrutiny and judgment. Devotees come to depend completely on the absolute perfection of the guru. Keeping the terror of emptiness and meaninglessness at bay, no matter how artificially, becomes so crucial to the devotee's survival, that he must deny truth, and sacrifice his pre-cult values and integrity, in order not to lose the all-providing, omnipotent, idealized guru. Long after the glow of the conversion experience fades, regardless of the exposes, the abuse and exploitation, many devotees maintain their unreasoning loyalty, because for them, it has become a matter of life or death.