T. Ramanathan’s Legal Threats Flop


Posted: Sunday September 21, 2003
Author: Barry Pittard


(Link doesn't work? We copied that info for you to exbaba.com!)


In a phone call on April 3, 2003, the head of the increasingly cultic Australian Sathya Sai Organisation, T. Ramanathan,  first uttered what several foremost lawyers have informed me - since he soon published his statements on the Internet - are defamatory and actionable accusations.

At one point, T. Ramanathan revealed under my persistent questioning everything and nothing: “You are going around ringing up everybody.” “You are phoning everybody.” “You are hurting people.” “You are harassing and intimidating.” Of course, everybody is a lot of bodies when I have transgressed the rights of nobody.

Significantly, T. Ramanathan initiated the contact directly on the heels of my success, which included media coverage, in getting the University of Adelaide to cancel their arrangements with his organisation, and to withdraw venue and catering for the Sai National Conference 2003, despite difficulties to the University such as having to hand back $30.000. This voltÚ face for T. Ramanathan could not but have evoked his memories of my involvement in 2001 in persuading another Vice Chancellor - of the University of Flinders - to withdraw his university’s high-profile education delegation to a Human Values conference at Puttaparthi in September 2001. In fact, its co-sponsor UNESCO (Paris) itself withdrew from the conference and simultaneously posted a Media Advisory which dissociated the world body from Sathya Sai Baba and his organisers – indeed in terms which no half compos mentis target individual or organisation could but find a stinging rebuke from one of the world’s most respected bodies: http://archive.bibalex.org/web/20011031132928/unesco.org/education/highlights/media_advisory.htm.

In our three quarters of an hour discussion, T. Ramanathan (widely regarded by the more intelligent in his organisation for being a pompous, autocratic one-man-band) kept dropping ‘spiritual gems’ that really deserve a much wider public. Specifically anxious that I hear some of his personal experiences of ‘Swami’s glory,’ he related, for example, how en route to India he lost his diary containing vital and confidential information about his university Law students, such as their examination marks, but how the lost documents were miraculously - i.e., physically - materialised in his Bangalore hotel ‘by Swami’s Divine Mercy.’ Furthermore, how his audio cassette got irretrievably stuck in his tape recorder and, while T. Ramanathan slept, ‘Bhagavan’s glory’ extricated it, again by miraculous means, so that by next morning it lay on the hotel table. Among his own fraternity, there are plenty of other reliable witnesses he has told these and other such stories to, and surely the accounts merit the far wider international audience many of us in the ExposÚ can provide. What court of law would not wish, for the sake of divine light relief, to be regaled with such testimony from a favorite son of the Avatar of all avatars?

In his follow up letter, April 9, 2003, written on official Australian Sathya Sai Organisation stationery, T. Ramanathan, reiterating part of what he had told me by phone, recorded that I had criminally violated the Communications Act and threatened and harassed devotees and will face the likelihood of a police procedure and a Class Action lawsuit if I do not stop. Yet T. Ramanathan but does not do his civic duty and report any such crime to the police, as a law-abiding citizen will wish that he would. Why does he not? Clearly, his actions consist in threats and attempted leverage. They are about power and control. My very dear friend, the late V.K Narasimhan, the great Indian newspaper editor and editor of Sanathana Sarathi, once cautioned me to beware of T. Ramanathan saying that he was a man who hungered after power. How prophetically right this man famed for much shrewd observation has proved!

This letter T. Ramanathan promptly published on the official website of his organisation: http://www.saiaustralia.org.au/release/100.html. (Link doesn't work? We copied that info for you to exbaba.com!) See also: ex-baba/engels/letters/barrylaw.html. No doubt wishing to poison his sword’s tip, he published my then address (which was temporary and for security reasons kept very private, but which he cunningly somehow fetched) in his official notices on the Internet, an act which violates the innate sense of the right to privacy shared by democratic people everywhere. In the meantime, the search spiders have picked up his privacy breaching and defamatory statements for all to see on the World Wide Web. How spiritual of him!

Both the ostensibly criminal and the civil matters he mentions would proceed unless I “cease and desist.” But what is there for me to cease and desist from? His absurd claim that I have gone about phoning and emailing Sathya Sai devotees in Australia would collapse perhaps anywhere but in the ‘kangaroo courts’ that he is said to use within the confines of his organisation. For some sense of such a draconian tendency in T. Ramanathan, see the report by Stephen Carthew who was one the officials in the Sathya Sai Organisation most honored for the clarity of his intelligence and integrity, and who, when he was its South Australian spiritual coordinator, called for openness and honesty in the organisation’s response to the worldwide accusations against Sathya Sai Baba for sexual molestation of boys and young men: ex-baba/engels/letters/carthew.html.

In a democracy like Australia, the one-man judge and jury method which T. Ramanathan described to me in our phone conversation is mind-boggling. (I took careful notes). He said “I have only one simple mechanism which I have applied down the years” which is to “deal with complaints personally.” “Your thinking is cloudy,” he said and stated that there was no need for a complaints mechanism in the Sathya Sai Organisation, which is “special and different to any other organisation… and a divine organisation.”

No Sathya Sai Baba devotee known for her or his integrity will ever be able to sustain T. Ramanathan’s defamatory untruth. Clearly he uses bullying tactics - to which I am not at all inclined to fold - and fears his organisational calamities attendant upon my continuing success in stopping major events of theirs, with exposure to critical media coverage that a cult would have everything to fear.

Catching up with T. Ramanathan, his more thoughtful members might well berate him for threatening litigation, which Sathya Sai Baba for many years has strongly inveighed against! If the wiseheads of his organisation do not prevail,  my lawyers would necessarily introduce ‘legal dynamite’ and a sound and light show fascinating to media and public alike. Many of the ExposÚ participants, including hundreds of young males around the world, or the still emotionally scarred accusers who have grown older, with their shocking accounts of Sathya Sai’s sexual attentions, would celebrate such a field day for our cause. Several of the most eminent legal brains who are at the disposal of the ExposÚ in Australia and in other countries have opined to me that, in an attempt to frighten me off, T. Ramanathan simply threatens like a dockside bully and that the last thing he would want revealed is what we, most assuredly, will be more than able to bring on.