My Life As Sathya Sai Baba's Prophecy (Part 2)
The Infamous Trip to Sai Baba In 1993
My parents separated when I was a young child and, as many of Sai Baba's devotees do when there is a personal crisis, my mother went back to India for guidance from the Guru. Over the next few years I twice accompanied my mother, Sharon Purcell, to India. With Sai Baba's approval, my parents divorced. At various times, he made promises about our welfare and 'materializations' continued. I grew up with my single mother, visited my father, Gary Purcell and older sister Laurie on weekends, and struggled in school.
Upon my high school graduation in 1991, I traveled to India to see Sai Baba for the first time in many years. Though the trip was uneventful, my devotion to him and involvement in Sai center activities was at its peak. I was actively participating in the young adult group in California and I considered Sai Baba and his teachings as my life's focus. I remember telling a friend in India that, "Yeah. If Swami told me to jump off that cliff I would do it", and I meant it.
I discovered that Hal Honig, a Sai Baba devotee in Manhattan, New York City, was taking a group of young men to see Sai Baba and I quickly became part of it. After the first scheduled trip was cancelled in 1992, we found ourselves at Sai Baba's ashram at Whitefield, outside Bangalore, South India. The main event was Sai Baba's 1993 Summer discourses, which drew many students from India and other countries, from near and far. Our agenda included a musical play, in which I had the lead role. There was tremendous excitement in all of us as well as there was too from all of those waiting for us at home. The excitement was due in part to what Sai Baba told Hal Honig before the trip, "You bring them. I will change them".
On this trip we ate with Sai Baba's college students in their canteen. We attended lectures, and spent all of our time rehearsing the play that we were to perform. We sat with the college students during darshan, watching Sai Baba move about, and interacted with him quite closely during the entire trip. To a devoted Sai Baba follower it was a dream come true, but - such closeness can be disturbingly insightful. It was on this trip that many of us in the group witnessed, no mistake about it, Sai Baba poorly performing magic tricks that he passed off as miracles. We were shocked and confused. We also experienced some questionable interactions in the conduct of ashram officials. To our astonishment, we saw him get very defensive, and some of the group were targets of his extremely inappropriate attentions. Particularly horrific was the aftermath of a human slaughter on June 6, 1993, which was cleaned up before the masses could see it.
Handkerchiefs, Seat Cushions, and a Defensive 'Holy Man' Cum Poor Magician
Sai Baba 'materialized' watches, rings, bracelets, necklaces, holy ash (spelt variously as: 'vibhuthi', 'vibhuti', 'vibuti'), and a Shiva Lingam during the three interviews he gave us. As much as I did not want to admit it to myself, I was puzzled why Sai Baba always had a handkerchief on each arm of his chair. In retrospect, I rarely saw him 'materialize' something without first holding, wiping his mouth, or wiping his hands with a handkerchief. Some of the men in our group said they saw a wrist watch just before it was 'materialized' for a friend of mine, whose wealthy father had just made a donation to Sai Baba (the amount I do not know). Sai Baba had just picked up the handkerchief to dry the sweat off of his mouth before he produced the watch. In this same interview, Sai Baba asked me what I wanted. "To experience God" I told him. He then 'materialized' a gold ring with what appeared to be a very large diamond. I was thrilled but later wondered why the stone was set crookedly in the ring. Later back in the U.S.A., a geologist Sai Baba devotee told me the stone was a particular mineral, while a jeweler said it was certainly not a diamond but that he was not sure what the stone was. Eventually the stone came out of the setting to reveal a piece of foil inside the setting. (See: http://www.saibaba-x.org.uk/enigma/Ring Exposed.htm
In another interview Sai Baba produced a ring with a green stone for Chris, a student in our group from Colorado. The ring was so small that it would not even fit on Chris's small finger. While Sai Baba was in the private interview room with someone else, Hal Honig told Chris to ask Baba to change the ring and that he does this sort of thing all the time. Then Sai Baba returned, Chris told him the ring was too small and asked if he would please make it larger. Sai Baba took the ring and said "You don't want? Gone!" he said, as he blew on his hand to reveal that the ring had disappeared. Unfortunately for Sai Baba some of the young men sitting close saw him drop the ring in the side of his seat cushion.
Sai Baba later took a gold bracelet off the wrist of an older gentleman in the room who was not part of our group. He said the bracelet was too big and that he would change it. He waived his hand and produced a different bracelet. When Sai Baba got off of his chair to take the man into the private interview room, the original gold bracelet was sitting on the side of his seat cushion. Sai Baba had dropped it there for safe hiding but it did not fall far enough. Chris picked the bracelet up from off of the seat and several of us looked at it, perplexed. Chris then put the bracelet back where he had found it.
Our group had observed Sai Baba acting very defensively. With quite some guts, Chris confronted him in the private interview room about the fake miracles. He told him that his materializations looked like magic tricks to him. Chris told me that Sai Baba became angry at him and called him a "doubting Thomas". During the following darshan, Baba scowled at him and said he was a "bad boy". He materialized vibuthi ash for someone and then turned to Chris and said "See!" as he pulled up his sleeve, "Nothing up my sleeve" and he flicked his finger at Chris to make a small cloud of ash from what was left on his fingers. The scene was very ugly and packed with emotion. This scene hurt me very much because I once read Sai Baba's words where he taught that your Guru is the one person you should be able to question. I always remembered that with great respect but he did not live up to his own teaching. Instead of dispelling doubts, he became defensive and tried to publicly humiliate one who dared to question. In this way, Sai Baba discouraged others from challenging him.
To Be Continued
From Exbaba.com Webmaster: See Barry Pittard's contextualizing comments and further Links at: http://barrypittard.wordpress.com/2007/05/22/satya-purcells-my-life-as-sathya-sai-babas-prophecy/